Jun 30, 2005

Going on a hiatus

Today is my last day at work. After a decade of active working life (for those of you who are guessing my age, let me tell you, you won't even get close!), I am taking a break (hopefully just a break!). My posts may become few and far between, as I may have less of a computer time at home.

I'm resolving to keeping it alive, in fact i am resolving to get more creative posts up here. After all if you aim for the sky you will atleast reach the roof.

Jun 29, 2005

Human nature...

Left to himself, would one man help another in distress? Without the bounds of religion, of nationality, of race, of sex, of creed, of geography, would a man, as an individual help another man who is in distress? I would say "yes". I think for a normal rational human being, like you and me, it is but natural to help another person who is in distress, we can share what little we have, we can atleast temporarily put another person out of misery...especially if that misery is caused by a unprecedented natural calamity.

Why then when it comes to giving aid to Tsunami victims does the US or any other nation in the west, think, debate, argue, explain, that they cannot do more than what they have. Why then do politicians in India, sympathise, visit and click photographs of themselves at the disaster sites, but yet think a 100 times before they can do something about it. Of what use is tax payer money if it were not fully and constructively utilised to help our brethren?

We hurt ourselves with the infrastructure that we have set up, we hurt ourselves more with the national boundaries that we have drawn...it is all our own doing. Why do you think NGOs accomplish so much in India? Coz, GOs are caught in a web of red tapism accompanied by greed. When i vote in a democracy, i am voting to preserve my standard of living, i am voting to better my life and the life of people around me. Of what use is democracy, if i cannot get help when my whole life's earnings, my land- my only piece of sustenance for generations, is wiped out and for no fault of mine!

On being book tagged...

A lot of the bloggers I watch (and more from who they watch) are being book tagged. I envy all those people who are book tagged, as they are supposedly, the "intellectual" types with thick reading glasses and lots of absent-mindedness.

Well, so what if I am not tagged - i will list my favorite 5 anyway. On second (and third and fifth) thoughts- no, i will not. For those of you who are guessing - Oh she doesn't have anything interesting to share - let me tell you, you are so right!

As a child, inspired by the Bajaj bulbs and tubes ad, "Jab main chota ladka tha, badi shararath kartha tha, meri chori pakdi jaathi" where the kid reads books under the covers in his bed, I would attempt to read with a torchlight. Appa came up on me, one fine night and said "You shouldn't be reading with a torch light and with the book so close to your eyes. It will ruin your eyesight." And he would switch on the tube light (don't remember if it was Bajaj) and let me read till as long as I wanted. Yes. Just like in the ad. But what a dampener that was! I used to revel in the thought that I was doing something deliciously sinful by reading under covers and Appa coming and turning on the light and asking me to read in the open, was such an anti-climax.

That took out all the fun from reading. And then, I was the kind who would doze off reading a book - not that the book was not interesting, it was just that i was not terribly interested in it. And in order to keep myself awake, in the desperate attempt to make a count of 5 in case i was ever book tagged, I would get some noruku-theeni (short eats) to eat. And that resulted in me having a nice and rotund girth. But i can now say, I have atleast 5 books under my belt!

But hey, what the heck - I have read more than 5 books and they are not school text books or manuals on how to operate the vacuum cleaner et al !

Jun 28, 2005

End of Survival and beginning of Salvation

I was reading a post by Amit Varma on a Tsunami hit village that he visited and it triggered a thought in me. There are 1500 homeless people taking shelter in a refugee camp and there is not even one toilet. Why? Cause the refugee camp is a Temple.

Sometimes, I am flabberghasted by the extent we take religion too. I strongly believe that religion comes after sanitation. After all, how can you think about lofty ideals like salvation and moksha, if you don't take care of immediate needs of sanitation and lota? Where does survival end, and salvation begin?(literally, right there!) Ofcourse, i am not advocating that we convert all temples into toilets, but don't we need to address this issue within the means available. There may have been other avenues explored, that may have eventually solved the problem. It had to...

All said and done, it is more difficult to get people to use a temple to relieve themselves of burdens other than those of the soul!

Jun 25, 2005

Tsunami and its aftermath

About 5 months ago, I was listening to a news brief on the radio about Tsunami victims in Srilanka. The article talked about child traffickers, carting away little girls to force them into the flesh trade. I was shocked at how low mankind can stoop!!

Imagine a little girl, who has a mother and father and a nice home to play in. She is given food whenever she is hungry, probably even before she asks for it. She has a nice warm bed to sleep in and a comfortable cushy pillow to lay her head on. And the only worry in her little head as she rests on that pillow, is whether she can skip school the next day and play with her favorite doll. And the next day, there is this Tsunami and she sees water everywhere. She cries and cries and there is no mother or father to answer her, leave alone console her. Instead, there is this man who comes to her and speaks kind words, and she naively follows him. And the next thing she knows, she is shoved into a van with 20 other girls like her! She probably doesn't even realise what her fate is!

( I am reminded of Alexander Pope's lines in "Essay on Man"

The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason would he skip and play?
Pleas'd to the last he crops the flowery food,
And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. )

I wonder what this man and the likes of him, are made of. Exploiting a child is bad enough, but exploiting a helpless child, that has been a victim of an unprecedented disaster, is atrocious! barbarian!! Such people need to be wiped out from the face of the earth and their clan decimated. This is one thing that makes me so ashamed to be human!!

I cannot conceive of anything - no amount of hunger or illness, that could justify such an action!

Jun 21, 2005

Father's day

This is for Appa. Appa is always there. With a very gentle but constant presence.

My earliest memory of Appa is as a singer. We would visit Salem during the summer vacation and we would invariably make a trip to Karadu. And on popular demand, Appa would sing Seerkazhi's renditions on Murugan. I could literally feel the stones vibrate with his voice. And i can recall Patti (Appa's mother)overcome with tears after the song. And i recall being left with goosebumps.

Appa would ensure that he laid enough stress on education and play. He never prevented us from playing, but he ensured that we studied too. He would spend hours patiently sitting with me into the wee hours of dawn teaching me Hindi grammar or Fractions in Mathematics. And I would be dozing off, wondering when all this was going to end.

During college, I would still go to him to understand concepts of Atomic Theory or Organic Chemistry. And Appa would teach me little acronyms on how to remember chemical equations. I would verify my answers to problems in Engineering Mechanics with him. And he always seemed to have the time for me.

During my first job interview, he accompanied me and we were discussing answers to possible interview questions in the bus. And when his friends congratulated him on my securing a job in a reputed IT firm, i could see the pride in his eyes.

Appa saw me through marriage and was there as a silent and strong presence when I had my child The only thing that has changed in Appa over all these years, is the wrinkles on his face. I can't say anything about his hair because he hasn't any! Appa ... the world is summed up in that one word! And his songs on Muruga still reverberates within me somewhere!

Education and People in India

India is a country where education is revered, almost assumed to give Godly powers to those who possess it! In a land where there is so much of, almost oppressive pressure to be educated, why is it that there is only 59% of the population literate (i.e % of people over the age of 15 yrs that can read and write)? [And I am refraining hard from bringing the 'male / female literacy ratio' discussion here.]While in the United States, the literacy is 97%!! (statistics obtained from The World Fact book) Does this mean that education is not as easily affordable in India or there is not enough institutions? Or am i making a fundamental mistake in correlating "education" and "literacy"? Atanu Dey has a interesting post on who pays for education in India.

I was reading this thought provoking post by Gaurav Sabnis on a bhelwaala - Vaibhav. There seems to be a reciprocal relationship between our ability to learn and the learning opportunities we are presented with. The affordability of higher education, in India is probably debatable. However, with so many private and public colleges available, one would think that the price of higher education would come down.

All said and done, the spirit of the people extending out help for Vaibhav is truly laudable and there is something to be said for us as a people - even though we have lower literacy rates!!

Jun 20, 2005

On long walks

I've been trying to go for a nice walk...

Walks filled with golden silhouettes of tall oaks, gentle breeze in the warm grass, and the orange setting sun painting the sky filled with chirps of birds returning home. A walk that would refuel me with the refreshing scent of "mardhani poo" (for those who know Tamil foliage), of the smell of freshly watered plants scorched by the heat of the summer sun, of the smell of the damp barks in dense pathways.

Walks that would let me reflect on what my place is in this vast universe, walks with the humbling, inspiring and beautiful sun, walks where i can lazily kick small stones nudging them along with me, walks where i can spot little changes on familiar paths that speak to me of passing time, walks that make me tired and make me lose myself in sleep, walks that kinder the curiosity of 'being', walks of companionship with Usha, and deep reflections on life.

I wish i could go for just a walk...

I was finally able to go for just a brief walk y'day.

Writer's block to nothingness and concept of Zero

I am having a writer's block today and there is no way i can circumvent it. I want to say something important and funny but all i can come up with is "nothing". So i decided to write about "Nothing".

I was reading this book called "Zero" and i realised that here is a concept that should NOT require a definition, as it is about nothingness. For grins, try explaining Nothingness to someone...try explaining Zero to someone. How would you describe it? It is a very difficult concept to describe unless you introduce an operation. What i mean is - say you have 2 apples and you eat both of them, what are you left with - Nothing! You have to introduce the mathematical operation "subtraction" (or the non-mathematical concept of 'eating'!) in order to explain "zero" or "nothingness". But the reason, it is difficult to understand, is it cannot be associated with anything...i.e one moment you have this vision of apples, and the next moment, there are no apples...there is nothing...vaccuum...it is kind of defying logic to picture something that does not exist!

We have just proved that the language of "mathematics" (in explaining the operation of subtraction) is the only one that can come closest to explaining what "nothingness" is. What does that tell about us? That where the lexicon of words breaks, the lexicon of numbers begins?

Jun 16, 2005

In the beginning there was the internet...

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately and decided to jump into the foray and try my hand at having one. Most of the blogs i read are awe-inspiring with fancy catch phrases and one liners. I decided that the longer i wait to come up with the right, eye-catchy phrase, the longer i will take to start blogging. So here goes...my first blog post. (I even have to get aquainted with the jargon!)

It was in the early 90's that I was introduced to the concept of the "internet". I recall a friend of mine, giving us (a class of NIIT ians- a once reputed IT Institute) an idea of "internet". She was trying to explain in words what the 'internet' is and it is amusing now, to reflect on the words she used to descibe it ... that there will be "hyperlinks" (underscored texts that take you to a different screen) of texts available on a screen, that would allow one to "look up" more on any subject. The idea was truly amazing. And I had never "browsed" a website until probably 2-3 years later when i started working for an IT company.

The concept of a blog invokes the same kind of refreshingly new possibilities.