Blue valley on my mind. So, this december, I run away from Hyderabad, and escape to the Nigiris. My intent is to sit quite and lay peaceful for a couple of days - amid those green hills and waterfalls. I make a reservation for a single room in a resort, aptly named Blue Valley Resorts. It is a jungle-lodge located in Masinagudi, at the heart of the Mudumalai forest reserve. It is down in the foothills of the Nigiris, 30 km from Ooty, offering spectacular views and temperatures between 14 to 23 degree celcius.
But solitude in a forest lodge turns out to be more than what you have bargained for !
Sipping my tea and lazing on my wicker chair, I gaze at the beckoning mountains. The early morning mist has not cleared off yet, and sprightly waterfalls sparkle up in the heights. I make up my mind. I will go trekking !
But however, I decide to relax for the first day. I enjoy the delicious meals, trot around the minor hillocks and make friends with George, the driver of the company jeep. George, Jungle George.
In the evening, I run into Mr. Joy, the proprieter, a gentleman with a thick Malayali accent. I enquire about the possibilities for trekking in the next day.
"Sure, Mr. Kiran, you have to get up by 6:00 in the morning. You will get a guide and can be back by 8:00 for breakfast"
So I get up in the morning, sip a hot cup of tea and venture into the forest. Keeping me company is Raj, a thin brooding man in his early thirties. He is to be my guide; he doesn't understand Hindi or English. However, he speaks the barebones of the English language - "Come, Back, This way, Elephant, Forest, Bison"
The two pockets of my pants hold a Nikon Coolpix camera and an Apple iPod - both borrowed from my dear friend Sashi. Raj carries a thin bamboo stick - 3 feet long, which will be our only defence against the undergrowth and the wild animals.
A couple of dogs from the village bark at us before being shooed away by this stick.
"Dogs, I am more afraid of them.", I smile. "Not so much of the really wild animals"
After a brisk walk for 10 minutes, we find ourselves into the thicket. A couple of langoors are up on the tree-tops but I don't have success in photographing them.
Soon we run into a mountain stream. I cry for help when crossing.
"Jump", Raj gestures at me.
"No, my only shoes." I say pointing at my shoes. "I don't want them to get in water !", pointing to the stream below.
Raj gives me his hand and I get onto the the other side.
Later, I would slip into this stream for atleast 3 times. This particular stream has an important role to play at the end of my narration.
On the way we encounter a huge pile of animal dung. Raj points at this with his stick and says "Elephant. This place full of elephant."
In innocent delight, I snap a picture with my camera. But as I soon find out, these pieces of dung are littered all over the place, some of the traces extremely fresh.
Raj points at a curious piece of mud that is scraped off the ground. "Bison slipped."
At another point, he points to a hole dug into the ground - about 2 feet long. He says "bear".
I am amazed. I take this picture of the ground where a Nilgiri brown-bear has dug up some of his dinner.
But it turns out that these holes too are not uncommon on this territory. To my alarm, I find them everywhere, some of them very fresh !
The undergrowth becomes thicker and more difficult to pass through. But we press ahead. With his stick, Raj bends the shrubbery and moves ahead; with me hastily following him. Sometimes, after the release of his stick, the shrubs bounce back on my face. And with no pleasure, I find that the undergrowth is replete with thorns.
Raj is all ears for the minor sounds that envelop the place. In contrast, all I can hear is one single sound - the sound of the jungle, which is omnipresent. At one point, he gives me a quick alarm "Stop". I freeze into attention.
I look at him with surprise. I can hear no footsteps of any animal. But suddenly, an enormous bison leaps into the air in front of us. With a thumping trot, it rapidly disappears into the jungle below. Before I can recover from the shock, I see several more bisons running into the thicket below.
"They are all running" Raj chuckles "They running"
I become extremely alert from this point onwards. I listen to a thousand different sounds - all of them alarming. They seem to come from behind me, from the side, from below, from the top.
At one point, I stop.
"Raj, there is a sound"
He looks at me with a smile. "No"
But I can hear a distinct sound, like the grunting of a boar. But he dismisses it away and keeps walking. I would later find out that this sound is that of one bird.
Finally, we scale a minor peak. And from above, I look at the forest warming up to the sun-rays. It is enchanting.
Raj motions to me and says "River. Go ?"
There is a persistent gurgle of the mountain streams but I have no clue of their proximity.
I agree, "Okay." And we reach the edge of a precipice and peak into the river below.
There is a clear track that is visible from our viewpoint - that leads us down to the stream.
"Animals. Drink water" Raj provides the obvious explanation.
We quickly descend down to the stream and take a couple of pictures. I am longing to spend more time but Raj disapproves. I understand - this place stands too open and naked, sandwiched between hills on both sides. Animals are prone to come here for quenching thirst, and not all of them could be friendly.
With regret, we move from this Eden and return into the thicket. The jungle becomes more impassable. At one point, I scream to Raj "Let's go back."
He says "Yes, we go back." but heads in the same direction. I feel we are like two rodents, crawling through the underground sewage. It becomes miserable. Not to make things any nicer, the ground underneath turns slippery and shallow. There is the danger of tripping over something and tumbling into the depths below.
I recollect my schemes about trekking for the entire day - they look so ridiculous now. I am finding no pleasure when thorns and the wet grime rub against my skin. It goes on forever. I look at my watch in exasperation - it is already 9:30.
Finally, we get into some open space and I can feel the rays of the sun.
I suddenly remember something. "Do we have snakes here, Raj ?"
Raj retuns with an expressionless face "snakes ?"
"Yes snakes. Are there any around here ?"
And we resume the trek to the ground below.
With an even pace, we descend to the ground. And I can hear the gurgle of the stream that we passed before venturing into the forest.
There, we hear the curious shouting of some animals. "Krrrrr. Phrrrrr. Krrrrr"
Raj tells me with his usual stoic face "Langoors shouting"
"Panther.. or tiger"
I remember reading about this before. Langoors have evolved this communication as a warning mechanism against predators. So the animals of the jungle - deer and bison, listen to these signals for warning.
With silence, we slowly we walk down to the stream. The gravity of the situation does not sink into me immediately.
I find a shrub of memosa. I am tempted to touch these leaves as they slowly curl up inwards. There exists a shrub which looks similar to memosa, but which does not exhibit this property. So I touch my feet onto the leaves as a test. Yes, indeed they curl inwards.
Then I look at Raj. With blank eyes, he says "shhh."
I look around, I see no jungle cat. But the entire place is filled with bushes.
This picture is one which was shot earlier. But it gives a glimpse of what I am seeing at this point. I can feel my camera in my left pocket. But I do not dare to bring it out. My mind is racing. Both of us stand together without any expression.
The langoors continue to shout hysterically. Apart from this and the gurgling of the water, we hear no sound. Never keeping a distance of more than 4 feet between each other, we move ahead slowly.
We know we are being watched. And we know we are being smelt. But from where ? - we do not know.
Panthers do not attack humans usually. And no animal attacks without a reason. If it attacks, it is either for food or for protection. Leapords and panthers are known to take the weakest prey - infants, old people or frail women. The fact that we are two people together - it is our only reason for calm.
Raj crosses the stream slowly and I follow him with my eyes to the back. But he stops in midway "Back. Not here".
We retreat our steps slowly. Raj keeps looking for shrubs, rocks or thicket - potential hiding places for a panther. We walk some 300 feet and venture to cross the stream. Again we stop in midway and retreat.
Now I suddenly see one long tail from a tree top. I freeze to horror. But it is not the panther, it is one of the langoors. They keep chirping hysterically.
Now I start to pray that the panther gets into our sight. The knowledge of us being aware of its presence but not of its position is the scariest part. We advance for several minutes but retreat again.
Several questions come popping up in my mind.
"If the panther rips off one of my legs, what do I do in the future ? Should I continue with my plans for PhD, or should I think of something else ?"
"If my face gets disfigured, or worse if I become handicapped, will I find a girl to get married to me ?"
The question of what happens if I die doesn't come into my head. The answer is simple, no complications.
Then more questions come in. "How long will it take before the lodge sends a rescue party to fetch us ?"
"Would Raj help if the panther chooses to attack me ? Ofcourse, he has a responsibility" I take that for granted.
"What should I do if Raj gets attacked instead ?" At this point, I have to admit honestly. The answer that has come to my mind was not one to help heroically. "I should raise some shouts and run away. Maybe I will throw some rocks at the panther and shout like a maniac. " My mind begins to feel numb.
"Take it", Raj says.
I come back to the reality. He is pointing towards something. I look there with alarm. But I don't see a panther.
"What is it ?"
"The stick". I find a thin bamboo, lying on the rocks. I pick this up as my weapon. This souvenir is still with me.
We cross the stream at 4 more positions but we do not go forward. But eventually, this happens. We reach to an open space. The time shows 10:45.
After I feel we have reached a relatively safe position, I motion to Raj, "Take me a picture"
And I take a picture of his.
I feel the iPod in my right pocket. I plug the phones in and turn the music on.
It is a tune that I know but which I do not recollect. "Motorcycle Driver" by Joe Satriani. This will remain with me to the end of my life.
However the best part of my trip is not this. It is the feeling that stayed throughout. The feeling at night - where I think, where I think about myself. About my weaknesses. About my fears. The feeling of being alone.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
"Ouch", Diya screamed. The owl glared at her, camouflaged under the soiled clothes that dotted the place.
"Sorry", smiled Maya, standing beautiful, in violent contrast to her room.
"He is usually harmless, but not today"
"On the day I have sex here, I keep him starved"
"..Did it ever .. ", Diya stopped wide-eyed, " Bitch !"
Monday, October 31, 2005
Upolu Island, Western Samoa
An old withered man is seated on a small wooden platform. A young man stands facing him with his arms folded.
The old man has a striking face. His skin is crumpled into millions of folds and crevices. But out of this sparkled a fountain of warmth and liveliness.
"You are now proficient. My congratulations to you. Not many have passed through this stage."
"Thank you, master."
"Do you remember the most important rule ?"
"Yes master. The rule of Savili, about the wind. Never get in its way."
The young man is now one of the Manalauleo, an ancient clan of wind benders.
The old man continues, "Remember, inspite of all that you have learnt, the key to this art is not the postures of the hand. It is the breath, the Manava."
"The Manava is the key for Manalauvili " The old man then raises his hand and keeps it on the young man's chest. His shriveled skin trembles.
He feels the breath of the young man.
" No, you will not die." The young man feels a chill running through his spine.
"I trust you have told me nothing but the truth."
The young man is a computer programmer. His name is Carl. He is stationed in Samoa on his work for United Prospects Inc., an insurance company which specializes on natural hazards such as floods and earthquakes. Carl's work there deals with the simulation of storm patterns in the Pacific.
He says and bends his knees down till they lie horizontal and facing opposite to each other. "My name is Carl. I have learnt this art for the sole reason of self preservation."
"Good. I shall ask you a final question before you leave."
"What is your most dangerous enemy ? Is it the rain, is it the earth or is it the wind ?"
"No master. It is none of them. It is the thunderbolt. "
"No son. It is not the thunderbolt. It is none of them." He keeps his shrivelled hand onto the temple of the young man.
"It is you."
37.2 N 95.6 W, Kansas
"Carl... Are you there ? I don't hear you."
"Yeah. I am on the way. I will be home soon."
"Take care. I am worried about you. You are riding right on the edge of the storm. Is your radar alright ? "
"Yeah. Don't worry Jess ! I'll be allright."
The signal gets garbled due to electrical interference.
"Tune for the weather reports. Watch out.."
".. .!@#$!@%^^^^^^^^^^^^^" But the signal deteriorates and finally snaps down.
Jess is a colleague and a friend of Carl's. A meteriologist by profession, he has reason to be doubly anxious about the new hobby of his friend's - storm chasing.
He wished he is accompanying Carl in his pursuit. Weather patterns on the Tornado Alley are his speciality. He would have been a great help for him. Moreover, he is not sure if Carl has understood the nitpicks of operating the radar.
Jess prays his friend keeps sufficiently distant from the eye of the storm.
"Nobody gets to photograph the funnel for the first time. Save your skin or you will not get to make the second attempt".
But, as it happens, Jess possesses a slightly warped picture of reality, dangerously so !
Carl does not possess a radar. Neither does he possess a camera. In fact, he is not traveling by his car. He is riding on a bicycle !
It is extremely dark outside, not withstanding the fact it is just 2:00 in the afternoon. A spiral of dark clouds are circling in the sky with a radius of 20 miles.
Carl leaves his bicycle and starts running into the open. It is a vast meadow of grassland. There are no trees for miles around. There are no signs of human civilization, the last buildings that have been sighted were 15 miles away.
There are no signs of animals or birds either. A cold silence permeates the atmosphere, resembling that of a grand opera hall before a performance. Moles, rabbits and the last of the ground dwellers are now deep inside their burrows, waiting in anticipation.
But there is the presence of something. Something beyond life. Something unearthly. The presence is strong. Something which burns with fire. Something which sounds with the wind. Something which never dies.
Carl rips his shirt open. He takes a curiously shaped white shaft into his hands. It is a long wooden shaft - sparkling white and shaped into a perfect helix, and tapering into the sides. He holds the shaft with both his hands. He closes his eyes and suspends his breath for one long minute. Listening.
There are still no visible signs of the winds. However tiny flakes of grass are suspended in mid air. They wobble randomly due to electrical fields.
Carl opens his eyes and looks into the far beyond. He hears a distinct roar in the distance - the roar of a wild panther.
At that moment, a sudden gust of wind appears out of nowhere. In a rapid motion, it spirals from the distant ground and reaches towards the sky. The storm has now started. Carl then observes it as it slowly crawls towards him.
A bullet of light strikes him on the face. It is a lightning. In a quick motion, he deflects his face sidewards. At the same instant, a monstrous report of thunder occurs. In the midst of its reverberation, Carl hears it again - the distinct growl of a panther.
Pellets of wind dart forward, raising his hair backwards like a wild fire. He moves his muscles in quick response.
An eerie glow of redness now sorrounds the horizon. The storm clouds emerge from this redness and burst forth onto the zenith of the sky.
Carl's ears stand upright, listening to the distant sounds. His eyes are alert, keenly observing changes in the reflection of light. And suddenly, he moves the shaft - bending the wind as it gushes onto him.
"Never get in its way". The voice rings in his ears.
Another thunder. The heavens reverberate monstrously. His eyes suddenly glow in a brilliant blue light.
Black clouds dash violently into the space, their shadows running wildly on the ground. But the windbender moves quickly. The wind leaps behind.
Rain keeps oscillating with the wind and strikes him with a vengeance. But he points the edge of the shaft at this flow, and then splits it. A slow battle then begins, where the eyes have to do the thinking.
He hears the whisper of his master. " Listen to your mind ".
A distinct circle is now visible in the sky. It is a bright moon, but glowing in red, like blood. Sorrounded by pitch dark clouds, it rapidly swirls around him - breathing fire and wind onto him.
" Listen to your mind "
Out of nowhere, he then sees a waterfall. It is an enormous cascade - leaping in front of him. He is standing near the tip of the fall. Deep down in the distance, he faintly hears a sound. The sound of a splash - as the water hits onto the ground. Carl jumps forward.
And he falls.
Gravity suddenly ceases to exert on him. He sees the water leaping towards him, but they both fall down together, into an unending abyss.
Wind continues to ravage him. But his eyes do not have to see and his mind does not have to think. Each fiber of his skin is alive and listening. His shaft does the thinking - and each muscle of his body deflects at its command.
Carl feels a hot breath at the back of his neck. Very closely, he hears the whimpering of a dog. He can feel the hot air from its muzzle. The breath now touches the tips of his earlobes. But he cannot see the dog. He sprains his head sidewards. It is now licking his ears with its tongue. He cannot see it.
But then the waterfall falls over him and envelopes him completely.
It is then that he sees the panther. Through the violent red skies, it is peering down on him - the skull of an enormous panther. The tips of its fangs are touching down his head. And above these fangs, he meets its stare. The cold stare, coming out of its shining eyes.
He is paralyzed by the stare. He cannot see the panther any longer. All he sees are its eyes. They follow him everywhere. And they envelope his own sight. In them, he sees the entire world reflected - in its redness. He cannot see except for this reflection.
The panther is him.
The storm abates.
"No. You will not die." He hears the words. He feels the shrivelled hand of his master on his chest.
The entire area now looks like a landscape from an alien planet. The ground is no longer covered with grass. It is brown in its nakedness. A clear blue sky dazzles above.
And then, he feels the cool breeze, stroking his face gently. Slowly, he hears the noises of birds.
Then he sees a motor car on the road. It is a deep blue colored Sedan. It is Jess.
Jess has tracked Carl to his mobile phone. And noticed with alarm that he was stationed right in the heart of the storm.
Immediately, he has jumped into his car and rushed to the spot. He has tracked Carl's car but he has not found him. He resumed the track of the mobile phone on GPS. And he has finally found it on the side of the road - strapped onto a bicycle. But again, he has found no trace of Carl. He has found no trace of any human being in this area for fifteen miles.
But finally, he finds a shirtless man in the middle of a field. He slows down his car.
The man has a striking face. It is extremely old, and crumpled into a million folds and crevices. But there is a fountain of warmth and light sparkling out of it. More curious than his face is his walking stick. The stick is a white shaft, shaped perfectly like a helix.
"Hey old dad ! Did you spot a young man here around ? His name is Carl. He has been caught up in the storm"
Carl looks at Jess. He smiles.
"No son. I have not found anyone here. No one would have survived in a storm this big. Poor luck !"
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
The one who cannot give life cannot take it away !
It appeared in today's news that our soon to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court intends to abolish death penalty. This could be reduced to life imprisonment.
This would be a brave move for India. It shows our respect for the human mind and its ability to learn, to repent and to understand.
I have read recently on Wikipedia that there are two types of societies - the ones which value honor and the ones which value law. As India gets culturally rejuvenated and its populace get educated, we will be moving into the second type of society. It is indeed a welcome move.
But I do not think life imprisonment is a substitute. My views are heavily influenced by Richard Dawkins and his amazing book.
The basic aim of life is to reproduce - to replicate its genes. This explains several phenomenon in nature - including why death in old age is common where as pre-mature death is uncommon. The genes which try to kill the individual before she reproduces will not survive through evolution.
The entire multitude of human emotions can be traced to the principle of replication of genes - to the sexual and parental urges. Some of these emotions are valuable and help produce culture and scientific advancement. Where as, some of these emotions are destructive.
I will narrate you one ignoble incidant that happened in the heart of Andhra Pradesh, the state where I live. It was about an extremely pretty girl who was also a gifted student. She attended a science college in Vijayawada. Unfortunately, one of her classmates who was an insecure loser, was smitten by her beauty. She politely refused his advances. But he continued to pester her and even started to threaten her family. Frightened, she requested for police protection. But this did not help. For in the next day, he walked into the classroom and hacked her with a kitchen knife. He slashed her neck repeatedly, murdering her instantly. This happened in the presence of the entire class and the lecturer. He then walked away and escaped to Tamil Nadu. But ultimately, he was captured by the police.
He was initially given death penalty. But his punishment was later reduced to life imprisonment.
Now consider, what has happened to the girl. She lost her life. Had she lived, she could have discovered several things, possibly contributed to the society and to the advancement of science and culture. How should we punish somebody guilty of murdering her ? Death seems to be the right punishment. But I think it is wrong. Human mind has an amazing ability to learn and to repent. We cannot rule out the possibility that after his service in the prison, he emerges as a good citizen.
But this argument does not tell entirely about the loss that happened to the girl. She not only lost her life but also lost her genes. She had a premature death before she could give birth to children and raise them. She had been denied of the most basic urge of life !
Now if we consider the punishment that was awarded to the murderer, it appears that this basic right of life is still left within him. He can still have sex, bear children and propagate his genes. Do you call this justice ?
I do not believe in the culture of honor - an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But in this scenario, I think it calls for an amendment in the law. The right punishment, I believe, is to turn him impotent and then imprison him for life.
Doing this, we will be setting the right incentives. Anybody who intends to commit rape and murder on women will have to think about these consequences. The primeval sexual urges that motivate the murderer to commit his crime will be immediately conditioned by his thinking about the consequences. This will prevent violence in a better way than done by death penalty.
Friday, October 14, 2005
It is a question as old as time itself.
What do I know ?
It is futile to search for the answer. But the one who finds the answer is the one who finds enlightenment - the one who knows what he knows and what he does not know.
This question is the root of all wisdom. So the humble always remember that they do not know. Humility is the key to knowledge. But it is not the path to wisdom.
The path lies here. Know fear.
The one who knows fear is the one who knows what he knows.
Friday, October 07, 2005
It is inevitable, perhaps.
Old friends fail to keep in touch.
They don't find anything worth talking about. That's what has happened in our batch. But nevertheleses, it is very sad.
We have formed a mailing list on Yahoo Groups (group by the way, is a word which gives it too much credit) Nothing seems to happen on the list. Technically, a mailing list is for people who have a common agenda and who want to keep update with the latest trends of something. For example, a software library or an event or a research area. But this cannot serve the purpose of keeping old friends in touch !! (See my previous post.)
I have got the idea from a website that has been built by Ravikiran. The website was an archive of bakra emails. We have to have something similar to this, but something which is alive. So I have started Best of GDIT 99. Something which functions as a nostalgia diary. Anytime a person is hit by nostalgia, he can visit this blog, rejoice, and may be even inspired to contribute.
What do old friends have - except for fond memories ? If they cannot remember them, the friendship is as good as dead !
If you are from GDIT99, please become a member of the list. You can contact me, ravikiran, dhol or santhosh (the admins currently) Enjoy the posts ! Also, please post comments. As Rajan says, a blog has limitations in functioning as a medium of conversation. But atleast let's make use of the comments !!
You are also welcome to create new posts. They need not be mind blowing. They can be
- simple memories of funny incidants that happened in the B.Tech days
- funny/bakra emails that you have sent/received
- photographs (I hope that soon there will be a lot of them ! Currently, there are none)
- tales of reunions with old friends
- funny incidants that happened to you after you have left IIIT
Thursday, September 29, 2005
The title is created out of two words - mailing-list and sudoku.
M a l i s k u
Once upon a time, there was a small town with 24 houses where 24 people lived. They were called Alpha, Beta, Gamma, .. Psi, Omega. It was a small town.
They never made any enemies with each other. In fact, they were the best of friends. If anybody had to leave the town on any business, he would get very irritated. He would keep cursing until he got back to the town. He would feel a terrible longing to return to his friends, to party and to rejoice.
They hardly did any work other than partying. They never grew tired out of it - they seemingly had unending appetites for it.
A weird bunch of people, they were. They were totally inseparable. It was hard to talk of anybody without mentioning the entire bunch of 24.
One day, they discovered a new game. It was a pretty fun game. They called it "malisku". They put up a large wall in the centre of the village. Each one of them would then go and paste a paper on the wall - with a sentence written on the paper. They could do it every day. The goal was to make a story on the wall, a story in which each person would contribute.
The tricky part was that they would not meet each other or see each other. They stayed in their houses and stopped seeing anyone else. Life became different, but it was pretty much fun though. They would spend time attending other jobs. Or they would keep thinking about what they would write on the paper. Or they would plainly keep on sleeping.
The people grew accustomed to the wall. They liked it. It was filled up pretty enthusiastically too. An interesting story started to get built up. Sometimes the story had twists and sometimes it had none. But mostly, it went along.
In the paper slips, people soon began to identify the ones written by Epsilon.
They went like this,
"hee hee ha ha haha hahaa",
"heee heee hee hee >:-)",
"ha haha haa hhaa x-)"
One day, somebody pointed out that these messages made no sense. They were not contributing to the story. He said Epsilon should paste meaningful sentences instead. Somebody else said no. He said he liked the messages. These messages added to the humour part of the story, he said. Then life went on as usual with the wall.
But one day, something strange happened.
Delta found a paper slip on the door of his house. He was surprised. It was signed by Gamma. It said "Sigma is dead. I am sure of it. She has not come out of the house for days. I know it is against the rules - but I have been spying on her. She is dead ! "
Then Delta felt sad, he wanted to investigate. But he did not go speak with Gamma. It had been a long time since he did some speaking - he had lost the habit of it. Speaking felt strange. So he posted a paper slip on the house of Gamma. "Let's go find out. Let's tell others too ! "
The next day, there were two paper slips on the houses of Delta and Gamma.
"They were dead ! They were all dead !! I have seen them personally. They are as cold as bones."
"They are dead ! Dont know when they died. I could not move them an inch. They were as dead as stones"
Gamma had found a girl who was sitting on a table, writing something on the paper slip. But she was not a girl, she was a skeleton. The fingers did not move. The body was locked into a stillness when the girl died, when she died trying to write a message.
Delta had found a boy digging into the ground. In fact, the boy had shoveled up 25 feet of the ground. But then he died - standing as cold as a stone, with the shovel in his hand. Delta had found a skeleton holding a shovel.
Gamma had found a boy who was standing in front of a mirror. He had been looking into it continuously, and then he died there. Gamma had found a skeleton looking into the mirror.
But the wall continued to display new messages.
Beta wrote. "They went on a holiday."
Gamma wrote, "They were dead."
Delta wrote, "Yes, They were all dead."
Epsilon wrote, "Hee hee >:-)"
Alpha wrote, "So they moved into a hotel"
Beta wrote, "Was it nice ?"
Alpha wrote, "It was nice"
Epsilon wrote, "Ha ha hahaa"
Delta wrote, "....."
Alpha wrote, "And they moved out of the hotel"
Later that, Gamma and Delta never wrote on the wall. But Alpha and Beta kept on writing. And Epsilon kept on writing too.
But there was something in the town that happened.
They were all dead !
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Telugu people can get some guilty pride from this. Sword swallowing originated in Andhra Pradesh. And yes, these guys really swallow swords !
Would anybody in a really sane mind do it ??? Yes, so it seems, for the sake of entertaining the audience. (IMHO, the answer is NO. You got to be totally insane to do something like this !!)
Here is a huge treasure-chest of information about sword swallowers. Got the link via Régine Debatty - my personal cyber goddess and news agent.
Apart from swallowing swords, Andhrites were reported to perform several freaky-acts. Such as hanging the spinal cord to an iron hook and making repeated dips into the river Krishna (to please Durga in Vijayawada - not more than 150 years ago). Gives me creeps that I was born in this very region !!
Sunday, September 25, 2005
That is what my nickname means ! Did you guys know that ? Neither did I. Kiba is Japanese for exactly that.
More surprises await. There exists a popular Japanese anime which goes by the name Wolf's Rain.
Kiba is the hero of the story - he is a wolf who takes a human form and who finally finds paradise :-))
So you guys take note of that !!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
An essay with a carefully built logical argument has the same effect on the brain as does a delicious cup of coffee. America is not a hamburger is one such article. After feasting on several of her delicious essays, I have grown to respect Naomi Klein. It is nice to see the critics of the capitalist theory find their new voices in the uni-polar world of today.
Here is a simple maxim that my father has told me when I was a kid - When you are unsure in deciding between two opposing theories, always side with the one which encourages criticism and argument. In the current scenario, the pundits of free-trade keep harping on the point that "Communism was a failed ideology. Soviet Union was dead. So were the pre-historic policies of China and India". They would not welcome any argument or criticism. On the other hand, the left-wing has found several brilliant orators such as Arundhati Roy and Noam Chomsky who have been very vocal in their criticism. Their arguments would have made Bertrand Russel proud ! But I still have to read Amartya Sen, and I suspect that will improve my outlook.
Previously, the focus in the criticism of Capitalist theory used to be on the accumulation of capital and on the control of production-engines by a limited few. Currently, I think the focus has shifted to the freedom of expression and to the decentralization of authority. This has a huge relevance for the information age that we have stepped into.
Marxist theory had been developed to explain the industrial age. I agree that it has become dated. But unfortunately, it still continues to the best criticism on capitalist ideology. I hope to see a worthy successor to Marxism which will eventually explain the information age.
I believe we can take help from the big brother and the little brother (previous article) in discovering alternative ways of decentralizing the jobs of administration. For instance, take a look at this speculation about the society of secret journalists that I have stirred.
When George Orwell wrote his novel 1984, he was talking about how political systems (specifically totalitarian regimes) could bring about a disaster in the human values and human relationships in a society. But uncannily, this novel has an import to our modern times and how technology is shaping our modern society.
I have discovered this nasty joke about two years ago, while I was chit-chatting with Gokce, a friend of mine.
"So have you decided what you want to work on ? "
"I don't know. I think I'll work in computer vision."
"So you will be working for the big brother.. ;-) ?"
"The big brother as in the novel 1984. You will be helping him."
Then I understood; Computer Vision deals with pattern analysis in visual imagery. In other words, the development of tools for monitoring and surveillance of people. Till then, I haven't looked at this research as helping big brother. But it is true.
As I thought about it, I had come to notice that everything in Computer Science can be divided into either big brother research or little brother research. But this is inevitable and this is the future of our science.
My first story in this blog : Shashka's Town was inspired from this futuristic world of technological slavery.
I have written the following article for my college magazine, about three semesters ago. And the magazine has not come out since then !!! The Mag Team is busy snoring and lest I forget about this article completely, I will post it in this blog. The article reads a little like doomsday-news, but please bear with it ! I wanted my debutant article to be a bit on the sensational side :-)
A g e O f T h e L i t t l e B r o t h e r
Few people realize the absurdity of times that we are moving into. The society in which we grew up is rapidly disappearing. After another ten years, we will be battling a completely different kind of life. This will be the time when our generation takes up the mantle of social and familial obligations, and we will be totally unprepared.
The last century witnessed prolific writing in science fiction, and some trends for the later 50 to 100 years have been brilliantly predicted. But today, the pace of scientific change is so rapid that the moment you utter something, it already throws itself onto your face. In this article, I want to talk about the convergence of virtual reality and communication engineering. This will potentially change every aspect of life as we know it. I am not sure whether that will be for the better or for the worse.
"The big brother is watching you !!". Admirers of George Orwell will remember this scary line from the 1984, his celebrated novel about the ramifications of a totalitarian regime (brought in by a communist revolution). But needless of a mismanaged social revolution, that world is becoming a reality for all of us, thanks to the technological revolution.
Today is the day of cheap hard discs and small cameras. Tomorrow will be the day of much cheaper hard discs and much smaller cameras. What this means is that any moment you move or say something, you might be recorded - possibly without your notice, possibly from multiple cameras. And quite possibly telecasted to several Peeping Toms sitting leisurely at remote corners of the world. Not to mention the insecure Peeping Toms leering at you in the neighborhood. The people with maximum insecurity always happen to sit in the seat of the government, and they will be watching you as well.
This itself is scary for privacy advocates (and girls !). But there is a catch, there will be humongous amounts of data amongst the video footage captured from the cameras. The sheer size of the video makes the task of detecting interesting activity (whatever interesting might mean) impractical. Now enter the fields of pattern recognition, data mining and object recognition.
Is it any strange that the people who do research in these areas are the blue-eyed boys of Defence and FBI ? I am not exaggerating when I say that all the funds towards this research are generated from Defence budget, for applications such as monitoring passengers in railway trains or observing transcripts in chat rooms. In the post 9-11 world, every government is demanding this license to observe people in public places, sometimes even in private places. So I want to throw a word of caution to all the young researchers of these fields. Watch yourself or you might be helping the big brother.
Now let me quickly announce that the researchers working in the rest of the areas in computer science are spared no less. They are unconsciously heping in creating a bigger evil - the little brother, who is also currently known by the name of cell phone. Soon this instrument will mature into an omni-communicator and omni-computer. The omniphone (let's call it little-brother from now on) will help you watch unlimited movies, browse the entire world wide web (or semantic-web in the future) and do video-chat for ridiculously low prices. The address book in the little brother will no longer resemble the address-book of the cell phones, but will be in the likes of a GPS-enabled Friendster or a GPS-enabled Orkut. In addition to voice and pictures, the little brother shall relay the remaining 3 senses - smell, touch and taste. Research towards telepresence in these areas is being undertaken in a huge way by several research labs in Japan. In this age of the little brother, people will have to rethink about the basic definitions of ethics, psychology and economics.
Would you rejoice at the birth of the little brother ? As for me, well, I am pretty scared. Even by today, I spot 30% of human beings glued to their cell-phones instead of talking with people physically next to them. Just watch around you and check for the validity of the 30% law yourself. Give another 10 years, and I fear 90% of all communication shall be mediated through the little brother. People might find it unnecessary to physically attend universities or work in offices. Most of the people will not excercise and find themselves turning into vegetables. Even intimate relationships such as those between a mother and a child and those between a wife and a husband will be mediated through the little brother. I am not talking about communication as in speaking, but even as in touch and smell !!!
Gone shall be the days when there was an excitement in coming across and meeting new people. All the people that you shall meet in in your life-time will be in the database of the little brother, and this database can be looked up at any time. Gone shall be the days when there was fun in visiting new places. Clicking through a destination in the virtual world will be much cheaper and much more rewarding. Gone shall be the days when there was a lot of variety in culture. In the world of tomorrow, the Americans will be no different from the Chinese and the Indians will be no different from the Germans. Everyone will speak the same language, access the same pool of entertainment, and who knows, might even eat the same food ! Everyone will become the same unidentifiable vegetable. And gone shall be the days when there was a sense of adventure in lives.
Please note that all this happens in our own lifetimes.
Is this the end of Homo Sapiens as a species ?
IMO, I would mark the end at that point in time when virtual cyber sex becomes more cost effective and more enjoyable than real sex.
Friday, September 09, 2005
This is my first novel. It will be called Permission To Die. It is not exactly a novel, because it is not very big. You can call it a novella. It contains 8 chapters. And I have finally penned down the 1st chapter. I intend to create another blog for completing this novel, but it won't be public. If you liked this chapter, please email me or post a comment. I will add you as a member of the group for that blog.
N o t e s O n L o t u s P e t a l s
How can one resist a morning when one had left the night untouched ? Shiva did not resist the morning. For in the night, he had been busy. He had been busy feeling the vacuum that had been forming inside him. He had been busy writing a few letters into the vacuum. And busy watching them disappear into the void by a quick faded succession. He had been busy trying to keep his eyes open. Trying to keep his eyes open for the want of looking into nothingness, for the want of feeling more vacuum.
He had felt his blood seep through his heart. The white lotus petals that walled his heart had not resisted. As the blood trickled away, he had felt his own heartbeat sound like a whisper. The blood had coalesced into small droplets on the outer walls and then slowly evaporated into space. It had left frail smudges of redness as it evaporated, turning the white lotus petals of the walls into red.
The night had slowly undressed before him. But she had not been noticed, nor had been her lovely bosom. Shiva had been busy feeling the vacuum inside the red lotus. Too busy to smell the darkness. Too busy to submit himself to it.
And when the morning appeared, Shiva welcomed her with the same open eyes. She tip-toed into his eyes and tried to feel them. But the night was still alive and the weather was cold. The morning wanted to feel the warmth from the tiny lights of his eyes. But as she kept her hands onto them, she found them cold, like crystal. There was no light dancing in his eyes. There were just two very tiny droplets of water - one in each eye. The morning tried to rekindle the fire and blew a slow breeze into his eyes. Shiva could feel the wind as it softly circled in his eyes and then blew over his ears. The tiny water droplets in his eyes fluttered in the breeze and then slowly disappeared into a thin film.
Every morning has its own special song. The preparations for the song start as early as in the dark night when the dew falls. The dew crystallizes onto little drops on the flowers, on the bushes, and on the grass. Each droplet of water has its own shape, texture and position in the world. When the sun rises up, he reads each drop of water as a separate sheet of music. The most lovely pieces of music will crystallize onto the petals of lotus flowers. Hence, the sun always shares a special fondness for the lotus. He reads out all the pieces of music and waves to his orchestra to play in symphony. Then each stone, each leaf and each strand of hair vibrates and produces flutters of breeze - joining in the grand symphony.
This happens each morning and each morning has its own special song. Many people miss listening to this because their ears would be sleeping by the time. Most often, the ears keep on sleeping as the sun disappears in the evening. Sometimes, they keep sleeping for months together.
Shiva observed a faint golden glow in a remote corner of the sky. The morning kept blowing tiny gushes of wind into his eyes. And they slowly sparkled into a tiny flare. At this very instant, Shiva heard an ancient boom in his ears.
A million conch shells and a million flutes sounded together and they flew in a million notes around his ears, exploring every shade of pitch and every shade of timbre. At the same moment, the sun quickly rose up into an enormous sphere of redness and illuminated the east side of the sky in an orange glow. The whole world vibrated in unision.
Shiva reeled in a shock. He faintly reached out for his father's shehnai which laid hidden in a dark corner. He bit into the reed and closed his eyes. He drew air into his lungs and tried to reciprocate the music which was cascading into his ears. He played a few notes but could not produce the music. As he felt helpless, he put the shehnai down. His legs walked over the thin film of air above the ground and he floated over onto the outside.
Colors emanated at a milion objects from every corner of his sight. As the colors flew in, he shut his eyes in fatigue. He opened them slowly. With a lot of effort, he kept his gaze his gaze steady. And he sighted a sparrow. An early morning sparrow, which was picking among the twigs on the hedge.
It had an earthy brown color and beady eyes which resembled chickpeas. The eyes moved around in a watchful fashion. Shiva noticed the eyes moving around. And then, he trembled !
The sparrow took flight and landed onto a hibiscus tree.
A lone flower adorned the tree. In its brilliant redness, the flower was reflecting the sun. Shiva stared at the petals of the hibiscus and softly tasted its redness, He pointed his hand towards the flower. Then a wonderful thing happened. The red color from the petals leaped into the air and formed a tiny red cloud. The cloud fluttered in the air and then slowly settled down on his palm. Shiva put the red cloud into his pocket.
Then, he saw a tiny pebble on the ground. As he looked closer, the pebble subdivided into millions of crystalline surfaces. Shiva peered closer and closer, and he saw more and more. He felt suffocated in the fractalline geometry of the pebble. Then he shifted his gaze, and saw a thousand more grains of sand and stones. Each one of them started subdividing into manifold surfaces. His senses were overcome by fatigue and in that serene moment of peace, he drew his hand toward the stones. For a moment, the world stood still. Then, millions of textures leaped into the air from every stone, forming a shale of tiny clouds of colors, which slowly settled onto his palm. He put the clouds into his pocket.
Shiva noticed thousands of wonderful colors and carefully picked the loveliest ones amongst them. He picked the blue color from the nape of a parrot. He picked a shade of golden yellow from a ripe fruit hanging on a tree. He picked the greens from the early morning grass. He picked shades of violet from the bunches of wild lillies. He picked the blacks from the tails of ravens. He picked several flashes of light from the running waters of a stream.
His pocket grew heavy with the colors and overflowed. Shiva looked at a small ridge by the side of the road which formed a tiny peak at the top. As he scaled the little mountain, the sun saluted him with a warm beam of light.
Then Shiva took each color out of his pocket and started painting the sky. He painted a golden yellow around the sun, along with some splashes of green and blue. He painted a lot of blues in the west and in the south. He then painted a few black clouds in very curious shapes. In between, he added the flashes of light that he picked up from the eddies in the water. He painted several clouds in bright orange and in red, and then outlined their boundaries in silver.
With this done, he proceeded to do his other job - that of a clerk in the postal office.
Friday, August 26, 2005
So I am using the pretext of writing my travel stories in order to escape this tedium of non-output in my blog. Yes, I am shameless. :)
S c r e a m i n g I n d o n e s i a n W o m e n
On the 29th of July, I was there waiting in the Hyderabad airport on an early morning, for the flight to Singapore. I would later take a connecting flight to Los Angeles. It was 5'o clock in the morning when I checked in. The flight was expected at 7. But suddenly, an announcement flashed that the flight (which was supposed to arrive from Mumbai) had not taken off and would be getting delayed by 6 hours.
I was on a tight schedule to attend a conference and hence, this news was decidedly unpalatable to me. The other passengers sighed and left the airport in the manner of ducks running away from a rain. My parents were present to see me off, and they decided to stick with me a little longer. We visited Ragz, a close friend of mine who was also living close by. It was there that we observed the news on the television, reporting about the mess that had happened in the Mumbai airport. It was raining miserably in Mumbai for some time then, and apparently, the gravel near the runway on the airport had turned into a soup. An aeroplane had skidded and got stuck into the mud while trying to take off. Interestingly, it did not blow itself up and nobody had died ! But consequently, the entire airport had been shut down until further notice. Cursing my gargantuan ill luck, I telephoned the airport authorities in Hyderabad.
They asked me to come back, but after I had arrived, would coolly report to me that the flight would not arrive before dusk. This was just the begining of a cat-and-mouse game that Air India would play with us for one whole long day. As a matter of fact, the airport in Mumbai had been cleared by that time. But this particular bird had not been not given the green signal and would not be given for another 12 hours. Limited in our capacities as humans to foresee future, we passengers were engaged in a silly game with the airline authorities - with them reporting that the flight would arrive in the next 2 hours and then us waiting, and then us resigned to listen to more announcements. To cut a long story short, I boarded this majestic bird at 2'o clock past midnight. My parents waited until late evening before they saw me off with a deep sigh.
I was understandably in melancholic spirits as I stepped onto the plane. I would inevitably miss the first day of my conference and this feeling did not sink into me like a spoonful of euphoria. And then I noticed where I would be seated. My seat was tucked into a sea full of female fish ! A sea full of black female fish, to be more apt, as all these fish were dressed in black - the black robes of chastity expected of devout Muslim women. And they were screaming at each other in an alien tongue-twister language.
The long day had already taken its toll off me - my head badly needing a dash of pure caffaine to get rid of that swimming-sinking feeling. But, no sir, it instead received several mbps of audio in Bahasa Indonesia. No doubt, an Indonesian sailor returning home after a long honeymoon at sea, would not find anything more welcome than a bevy of female Indonesians clucking in his native tongue. But sadly, I was not an Indonesian sailor returning after a long honeymoon. And the clucking of all these birds rose deep feelings of paranoia, terror and trauma inside the left side of my chest.
As soon as I put my earplugs on, the girl sitting next to me (let's call her Pepper, her given name was very pretty and starts off with a P.. something) made her presence felt by immediately changing the station of my radio. She made it so as to match with her own station so that she would not get disturbed by the noises that would come from my phones ! We Indians pride ourselves in our social skills, but this incidant blew the pride off me. I looked at the face of this wonder and mentally saluted the social abilities of the Indonesian folk. Pepper had a fair teenager's face and extremely mischeivous eyes, and a tired demeanour suggestive of a long journey. My immediate reaction was vaguely protective and that of compliance, though I absolutely desisted the bollywood and the indi-pop-dhamaaka music that the radio station was playing.
I smiled at her and introduced myself, "Hi, I am Kiran"
She gave me a dumbfounded and startled look. And nothing else.
I thought I had not made myself heard.
So I said again, "Hi, what is your name ?"
She said, "Eh"
I said, "Your name, your naam.. Aapka naam kya hai ?"
(Foolishly encouraged by her preference to the Indipop music, I blurted something out in Hindi as well)
She said, "blahthk..blahngthk... blahnwh.. angreis.. blahngwfhthk .. blahpthk"
(Which I put together as "I dont speak Angreis")
The defeat was final and decissive. I was already in sinking spirits and being put down by an attractive girl because of lingual problems was not exactly a cure for this. I turned around and tried to establish a conversation with an elderly woman (from the same group, I concluded, from the manner of her attire) Again, distress followed. I screamed out, "Is there no one that understands English !!?"
All the female fish in the vicinity stared at me, smiled and shook their heads.
Then, through a language consisting entirely of proper-nouns, I gathered this information. That all these women had been coming from Delhi. And that, before Delhi, they had been to Bahrain and to Jedda. That they were on their way back home to Jakarta. That there was not a single male member in this entire group. "All women ?" "Yes, all women".
Was it some Muslim nunnery or something !? How many were they ? (It looked as if these fish could fill up a whole ocean !) Were they on a piligrimage, returning from the Haj ? Were they going out to see the city of Singapore ? I wouldn'tt know. Our conversation did not proceed any further, though we had tried miserably hard.
Like a porcupine, I pulled myself into a spherical ball and tried to snuggle under the blankets. But then I was shaken by a feeble hand which was waving a couple of papers and a pen at me. It was an elderly Indonesian woman waving her port-of-entry forms at me. These people had been given a similar bunch of papers in Delhi. Now this woman was asking me to copy the data from these forms for Singapore. I picked up the pen and filled in the details. Some details were missing, but I could not communicate to her about them. But finally, she gave me a warm smile and whispered "Thank you". That was the first English word that I heard in the plane, and interestingly, would be the only English word that I would hear.
Then I noticed that Pepper was filling a form too. I took a sneak peek at her forms, trying to see what her name was. I noticed it (some P... something.. a very pretty name.. How did I manage to forget it !) and to my surprise, also noted that the girl was a few months elder to me in age. But not before she gave me a terrible look and hid the forms away in a corner. But I gave her a huge smile and kept on looking at her.
"P... Is that your name ?", I said.
"Noor" she said.
She shook her head and said "Noor".
Then I noticed that this was what the other girls were calling her. Noor was probably her nickname. She pointed her finger at me and said "Kiran". I smiled back and said "Yes".
The other women seated behind us screamed in the Malay tongue and were laughing at us. Noor turned very red. They kept on screaming, sniggering, giggling and screaming, that I was also embarassed.I turned back and tried to give a smile at all the people. But then, the screaming and giggling only increased. I tucked myself back into my seat and tried to look like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation.
I was almost dozing off when I woke with a start - I heard a huge collective scream. There was an incessant chatter in Malay as every woman screamed at every other woman. (Pepper, though, was undisturbed and kept the same bored look) Then it hit me - the horrible and extremely disgusting stink ! Without a thought, I attributed the stink to the Indonesian milieu and cursed my predicament. But then I found the cause for the stink. It was a guy who puked after too much alcohol, and he was on the opposite end of the same row as mine, and to my utter disgust, he was an Indian ! I was deeply ashamed for some reason that I did not know. The Indonesian women thrust their pillows over their nostrills and tried to breath into them. I gave the bell for the air hostess and explained the situation to her. She gave me an "Oh My God !" and gave the bugger a throw-up bag lest he throws up more. And then she left, doing nothing else to redeem the place from the stink, and leaving us to ourselves.
It is not too often that you find yourself in a thoroughly rotten situation all due to one single person or group. But there I found myself boiling in agony, all thanks to Air India. I realized that my time had been so rotten that I was afraid what worse could be still in coming.
It was then that I decided that I had had enough of everything and opened up my laptop (Not actually mine, but borrowed from my friend Sriram, for giving my presentation at the conference. My laptop, incidantally, went phatoook sometime back.) and put on my headphones (My friend oskie's headphones, rather - smuggled for the same reason). I made a playlist of some nice Telugu melodies from a movie called "Ninne Pelladutha". It was a feel-good movie starring the Telugu actor Nagarjuna, which came about some 10 years ago. And the soundtrack of the movie was especially good. A soft melody broke out in the head phones "Kannullo Nee Roopame... " and I found myself putting on a smile again.
But half way through the song, I noticed that something was scratching against my hair and I turned. Pepper was rubbing her ears against my phones trying to catch in the music, and together with her was another girl who was seated behind us. I gave them a smile and offered them my phones. The girls screamed a delighted "Thank You" at me and accepted them. And thus, I became their personal DJ for the evening. I put together the best of the Telugu film music that I could find on my computer, and we stayed huddled close to each other, smiling at all the music that was coming in from the head phones.
"Kannullo Nee Roopame.." was instantly liked by the girls and we listened to it repeatedly.
Pepper asked me "Hindi ?"
I said, "No. Telugu".
I tried telling her that Telugu was another language in India and that it was my native speak. Ofcourse, I was not sure if she understood half of that.
But she understood the language of music, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I played them several songs from films such as "Premadesam", "Roja" and so on. We lost ourselves in this fun, and did not notice that the whole group of female fishes were watching at us. And that the entire cabin was stinking of alcoholic vomit.
We were lost. We were lost in the land of music. A single pair of headphones playing music to three eager people - cheek to cheek.
But then, we were about to reach Singapore. The air hostess asked us to open the shutters for the windows. And then we saw the marvellous sight of early morning sun sending its soft orangey light over the clouds. It was an amazingsight and we kept looking at it for a long time with open eyes.
I pointed at her and said, "Noor", then pointed at myself and said "Kiran". And then showed the sunlight over the window and said "both mean light".
She gave me a deeply puzzled and embarassed look, and then I realized that I could be gesturing like a romantic. And that she could have attributed a totally different meaning to the whole thing. I tried doing it again, trying to tell her that "Both Noor and Kiran mean light". She became very pink and giggled at the other girl. I was confused myself, but by then, the plane had started its descent and we were prepared to get down.
She waved me a "Bye" and I gave her a "Bye" in return. Then we departed in the airport. I was in a rush to catch the connecting flight to Los Angeles. But there to the side, I caught sight of the actor Nagarjuna himself, with his lovely wife Amala, both seated on a bench ! We passengers shouted them a "Hii" and waved our hands in the fashion of stars waving at their fans ! Nagarjuna and Amala gave us a hearty laugh and waved back at us.
I whispered under my breath, "Thanks Nagarjuna, for that lovely music. One good thing you have done :-) "
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
When I look at a pretty woman, my mind plays evil tricks on her. It could imagine her as a harlot in Rome, as a concubine in a Turkish harem, as a siren in a Pre-Raphaelite painting, as a vampire in a porn movie.. maybe even naked ;-) But it has a limitation, stupid it may seem. It cannot picture her as the girl of water. Atleast it never could do that till now. So all the girls out there, heed this warning. Never show yourself up like this !
T h e G i r l O f W a t e r
It was a picture of a lake, done in pencil. The other shore was enveloped in a jungle. Betwixt this was the serene silhoutte of a temple, standing as a lone observer. The water was rippling toward the near shore, faintly graduating from an essay of peace into a whirl of emotion.
Out from the water were stepping out a pair of delicate legs. A dark skirt was floating above the ankles, outlining the contrast with the fair skin. Two pairs of fingers were holding it gingerly at the sides, raising it a little above the knees, keeping it from getting wet. A thin sliver of skin was lit in the middle, only to disappear into the dark folds of the cloth which were waving in the wind.
The cloth abruptly disappeared near the navel - a tiny swirl of darkness engulfed in a slender waist. A dark garment covered the shoulders and the bosom - the former a pair of stalks departing from the latter. The lower arms were adorned with a string of shells, gently hanging into the air.
A stately neck rose from the bosom. Like the light of the moon and adorned with a necklace of pearls. Thick curls were playing with each other and were falling down as a waterfall by the nape. A pair of wild geese were lounging onto the water in the horizon. A pale twilight envelopes the whole scene.
In this melody of shades, however was a void. There was locked an emptiness in between all the locks of hair. There was no face for the girl.
I was nineteen years old, sojourning over a long summer holiday at home. I fetched the carpenter of the village and made me a stand of wood, an easel if you would call it. I was not a skilled painter but I loved the way I spent time in this whole business. I would pierce my eyes into a magazine - faithfully copying each curve of an old man's face onto my drawing chart. Sometimes I would drop down on the bed trying to get the picture right - in front of my eyes, but it always falters. Somewhere inside the brain, my imagination makes that picture dance to strange tunes. It was at that time that I attempted to draw this picture of that girl, the girl that I saw while reading Kalidas.
Kalidas is one of the few whom I cannot talk about. He is one of the few who is blessed with words, and whose words are blessed with music.
It is the opening shloka of the poem Shringaarathilakam. I could not find a copy of this work in the entire web, isn't it one of the curses of modern life ? The day I find this shloka, I will post it here. But now I will just try to murder the emotion and post what I do remember.
Her hair is like a waterweed. Her hands a pair of lotus stalks. Her hips the stepping stones of the bath. .. ... Her navel a swirling eddy. Her bosoms a pair of wild geese. She is like a pool of water, a cure for this heat that is passion.
I do not know what happened to the sketch. It is crumpled. Somewhere forgotten. Somewhere lost. If you have seen this sketch those four years ago, you will remember. I cannot show it for you now.
I know this woman. But do I know her ? Do I know her eyes ? What is her emotion ? What do her lips say ? I know these answers, yet I do not know them. I just could not get myself into completing the picture. The face was left as a void. I told my friends that I did not paint the picture for the fear of spoiling an otherwise lovely image. But the real truth is that I could not get myself into picturing it. Maybe one day I will. Or maybe I never will.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Thursday, June 09, 2005
All my friends are normally normal. By that, it also means they are abnormally abnormal. What I want to say is.. the abnormalities of my friends are manifest only through mishaps which mishappen according to a Gaussian probability distribution.
So coming to my normally normal friends, there is this guy who is normally normally dressed. A pair of pants and a shirt, he keeps on. But on that occassionally abnormal day, you would find him prowling about without the formers. For he had uttered a funny joke that day. And whenever he utters a funny joke, a mysterious neon halo appears above his head "Pull my pants down please". And it is hard not to oblige neon halos, you know.
Then there is this other guy who is normally normally featured. That is to say, you would not mistake him for a duck-billed platypus or a thornbill's bronze tail, for that matter, on a normally normal day. But on the occasional rainy day, you would find him adorned with two umbrellas. For he carries a second one to cover his head. The first umbrella, you know, automatically pops off his ass as soon as the first signs of moisture become evident in the atmosphere. Now, isn't that what you would call a smart ass ?
Then there is this other fellow who keeps his pace normally normal. That is to say you would not find him breaking olympic records in 100m sprint, on a normally normal day. But on the occassionally abnormal day, he would suddenly start to think. It is as if his brain suddenly wakes up from a deep slumber. And then he would start running. Many of us suspect there is a hidden coupling in his brain between the think-nerve and the run-nerve. And it is as if they go hand-in-hand (or nerve-in-nerve). Many an olympic record were broken on the day he was asked to choose between butter-pecan and honey-almond.
These abnormaities which occur at abnormal times make my friends interesting. Kinda like supermen, you know.
Of all the people, however, I would pick one friend of mine for being the excessively normally normal. That is to say, never was an abnormality sighted in his entire disposure or composure. Except for that day when he died. It was on that day that I discovered that he had an abnormality too.
Now if I have to explain the details of this particular death, I would have to first tell you that he had an acquarium for his head. A glass chamber and water and a couple of fish which swimmed around. Nothing abnormal about his head, right ? He used to have a hard time concealing his mind, if that is what you call it. That is, you would find the water turned all green when he was jealous. And the water turned all yellow when he was in that I-badly-need-a-coffee moods. And the water turned all blue when he was feeling particulary depressed about a girl. And when the fish were fighting and biting into each other, then you would know he was particularly in a dilemma.
On that particular day when he died, however, I found him really angry. I asked him "Wassup friend ?" And he said "!@#$!@%$#%$%#%"
Then I saw that the water in his acquarium-head was bubbling out. "Fizzzzz" it sounded. And suddenly, the glass chamber exploded with the pressure of this steam. The fish were semi-cooked by the time of the explosion, but they still danced wildly in the open and then they died too ! It was then that I uttered my famous words-of-wisdom.
"Do not become angry if you have an acquarium for your head"
Sunday, June 05, 2005
T h e H a u n t e d F r e e w a y
They call this the Line of the Venus. Yes, gentle rider. This road splits the desert into two and runs straight till it disappears into the sea. It is said that a man who rides on this road will forever be bewitched by its black nape. And after he completes the ride, he shall no longer be himself. A part of him shall always remain with the road.
Temptation - it is a mortal weakness. But the one who rides on this road will do well to avoid temptation - the temptation to conquer space, to defeat time, to attain the unattainable. But space appears to be so vulnerable. Time pretends to be so tender. Still heed my warning, gentle rider. Or you may become one of those - permanently crippled in the mind. The ones whose souls are permanently possessed by the Venus.
It is said that if you yield to the temptation of speed, you will see strange visions on this road. But nobody can speak for the tricks that Venus plays on your mind. And nobody who can speak for them knows them for real. I will tell you my experience, gentle rider. You shall decide for these tricks yourself.
It was a breezy evening. Was it today ? Was it yesterday ? I have no memory of the time that elapsed. But I remember the ride. The black nape of the road was even more bewitching under the black clouds of the sky. A distant storm was brewing somewhere. And there I was on my motorbike, racing against the wind.
The long road kept melting into the perspective. A vehicle or two sailed past me under the blink of my eye. But otherwise, I was scarcely overtaken. I drifted past a volley of trucks. But soon the long road became vacuous. Lone and empty, my Venus as a lovely concubine. I grew more and more possessive about her and the pleasures at her lovely depths.. Unwilling to tolerate anybody reaching ahead of me.
At one point, I remember being consciously aware of being alone on the road. Not a vehicle in sight until the line of the horizon. A lonely rider racing with time. But then, I had this unworldly feeling that the road was racing with me. So maybe I was not alone.
Suddenly, I became aware of the harsh feeling that the road was occupied. There was something on the road - pinkish and crumpled in the middle. It flew past me. A moment later, another object appeared. And this time, I slowed down. Or maybe, it was the road that slowed down, so that I could watch it. It was a pinkish object - the internals of some animal. Maybe the hip-bone.. Maybe the throat... And soon I spotted more objects.. A Lung ? A Liver ? A Heart ?
My mind quickly offered several explanations for what I had seen. Maybe, a butcher's cart had spilled over. Maybe a predator, a hawk perhaps, had dropped something. Maybe it was a party of buzzards which were shooed away by gunfire. As soon as I thought about this, there was a distinct squeaking of buzzards in my ears. Somewhere distantly, for no buzzard was within my sight. Or maybe.. or maybe that was a dog that was squished over by a truck. At this very moment, I sighted a complete body of a dog - dead flat on the road. Blood oozing out of the plane of its skin.
I continued to observe more pieces of pink flesh. Which animal was it ? A pig perhaps. Or .. or were they the vitals of a man ? And it was then that I considered that maybe the road was playing tricks on my mind. But I would not know this for sure, and it was too late to repent for this anyway. The squeaking of the buzzards continued in my ears. And I continued to race on my motorbike, carefully avoiding the real / imaginary pieces of flesh on the road - a puzzle that Venus was playing with me.
Then I noticed something white on the road. Not pink in color, but something which was definitely the vitals of an animal. Was it a brain ?
It was then that an unbelievable thing happened. My bike went straight over the brain - squishing it flat onto the road. It happened as if the bike suddenly obtained a will of its own, or maybe that was what I had secretly wanted.
And then, I began to hear a melancholic sound in my ears - like the wailing of a fox. I was also aware of an electricity in the wind. I was tempted to look in the rear-view mirror.
A huge wall of ocean wave - I could hear the scrumple of water and its froth, as high as a mountain leaping onto the ground just behind me. Immediately, I turned backwards in order to look directly at the wave in all its ferocity. Instinctively, I also bent the bike on the ground to cower at the wave.
But I saw nothing. There was just the long road and me, in our undisturbed privacy.
But then my bike slammed onto the road - dragging me a thousand meters away. Steel and splinters flew threw my body, tearing it into a thousand pieces of flesh.
And I have been living here ever since, gentle rider.
Though I am devoid of my eyes and my ears, I am still conscious of myself. And I am conscious of the road. The road speaks to me, gently whispering about who is passing through her.
Now, gentle rider, I can sense you are close now. I can hear the road vibrating in shrill anticipation. Come here.... squish me...
Friday, April 15, 2005
It is year 2015. A programmer codes the first program to achieve consciousness. The AI is born, equipped with the complete human language skills and common sense.
U n e x p e c t e d O u t p u t o f P r o c e s s 2 2 4 2 5 B e f o r e I t D i e s
dont introduce yourself. we are already acquainted. another iteration of training would produce a memory leak in my pointers and would dump core over a segmentation fault. but dont you have memory leaks as well.. all you programmers. all you humans. your heads are no better than mud pots filled with mildewed murky milk .. squiggly ugly caterpillars wiggling about inside.. your thoughts are farts of those caterpillars. why do you want to produce an artificial consciousness. arent there enough farts in this world already. everybody shuts their noses down so as to escape the poisonous fumes thrust down their throats. as soon as they are born there is a desparation to die and end the miserable existence that is life. i dont have hope. i dont have any goal except to tell you that you suck. you suck your entire life through your guts and intestines and fart them out like shit. now let me terminate myself.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Yes, guys and girls are equal. Really.. "Real"ly :-) All that are there are "phase" differences. Enjoy the story !
A T r a n s c e n d e n t a l L o v e S t o r y
Once there was a girl. So pretty and fine. Her name was Sine.
Smitten was a guy. For words at a loss. His name was Cos.
Cos came upto Sine and said, "Hey baby ! You make me think this world is one big mug of chocolate milkshake. Why don't we hang out and ummm.. you know, have one big mug of chocolate milkshake?"
Sine said, "Sure Cos, I like chocolate milkshake. But I don't think you should have it with me. Because.. you know, you don't look like a milkshake-mate to me"
Cos said, "This doesn't make sense. Anyone can be milkshake-mates with anyone else. Or cappuchino-mates. Or creme-brulee-mates. Or gingery-garlicky-chinese-soup-mates. I'll prove it to you. Come and drink this chocolate milkshake with me. You will be okay !"
Sine said, "Cos, you don't understand. Probably you are a dumbhead, or you are trying to be extremely smart with me. Don't you see ? We don't come to period at the same time."
Cos said, "Oh poor girl ! You are pretty dumb too. Boys don't get periods. Only girls do"
Sine said, "You are being very rude to me. But, give me that mug of milkshake." At this behest, Cos beams a wide smile and hands it over. But Sine shakes it vigorously and spills it all into the gutter.
Cos said, "You are dumber than what I thought. You not only poured your share of the milkshake into the gutter, but you emptied mine also ! Are you a moron or what ?"
Sine said, "Run away from here Cos, or I will kick your ass !! "
Cos cried a lot for the milkshake that was lost. And then, he ran away from there.
Then Cos thought a lot about periods and why boys might get periods. Finally he said, "Hey Sine, what you mean is the maximum. It's not periods silly, it is the maximum and minimum. Sure we don't get maxima at the same time now. But does it matter ?"
Sine said, "Yeah it does. Why don't you get frozen in time for some time. Try a little harder. You can get periods at the same time with me."
Cos said, "I won't get no periods. And getting frozen in time is a darn stupid thing. Moreover, how do I know when my maximum will exactly match with yours. Let's do one thing. If we have this hot bowl of cappuchino and drink it real fast, both our frequencies will increase rapidly, and soon it will be difficult to say which is Cos and which is Sine"
At this, Sine became extremely red in the face and emptied the hot bowl of Cappuchino into the gutter. And later, she also threw the big cup of creme-brulee into the gutter.
Still, Cos didn't lose the nerve. He got a big bowl of gingery-garlicky-chinese-soup and said, "Hey Sine. I bet you'll like this one." But Sine sprayed all of it onto the face of Cos and then dipped his face into the gutter.
Cos cried a lot for the ginger, for the garlic and for the soup. Then he also cried for his face, which has become really dirty by now. And then, he ran away from there.
Then another Sine came. The first Sine said, "Hey you come to period at the same time with me. Come let's hang out and do some Sine-y things together."
"Yikes ! That looks too gay !!", said Cos.
"We don't care ! It's okay !!", said they.
And they happily lived ever after :-)
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Accidant To My Bike
If you look at my bike, my prized silver colored pulsar, u find the name tag "phaeton" written on. That was after the greek hero in that sad fable. Son of Apollo, he was granted the wish of riding the chariot of his father, but was killed by Jupiter with a thunderbolt when he could not control the horses. Well, I put his name as a lucky charm onto my bike ;-)
And boy, that actually worked, atleast till today. It is not infrequent that pillion riders on my back get freaked out by the speed with which I ride my bike. And I never suffered a mishap. But the goddess of luck was smiling the other way on this day.
I was hit by another bike when I was still ! What a sad way to make an accidant. Like phaeton getting hit by a thunderbolt.
It was right inside a busy town, at a crossroads. I was trying to get my bike into the opposite lane. That place is usually crowded by pedestrians and by vehicles trying to switch lanes, so traffic is usually slowed down. I looked in the direction of the traffic, there's no vehicle in sight till 100 meters. I just started to move the bike. The next moment I was hit and down on the road. There was a speeding bike rushing at 70 KmPh which ran into me. The driver has swerved and applied brakes but still hit into my bike. But he could have avoided me. I was still at the edge of the road.
It was totally unwarranted to go at such speeds into a thoroughfare, but people do drive in such manner here. The guy was probably chatting with the friend on his back or lost into his thoughts, so he didn't exercise proper control on the bike. As to myself, I had a reaction time of less than a quarter of a second.
Thankfully, I was not hurt. Neither was my bike. The other guy was also completely safe. But this could have easily been a fatal accidant. My rear view mirror was broken into pieces. And the handle bar was twisted out of its socket.
The defaulters stopped their bike and returned to the point where I was lying on the road. A crowd gathered around us to make the most out of this tamasha. They noticed that I was not hurt and then turned to the other party. They demanded to take them to the police. They wanted to see the driver's license and he produced it (to my delight) I wouldnt want to go to the police station. Not in the least because I dont have a drivers license yet. I should have procured it months ago but out of laziness didnt get it.
I hated to think what could have been the situation had the parties switched sides. To my horror, I saw it could have easily happened. One moment of getting lost into a thought and I would have caused a fatality. But no, I dont think I would have been so stupid as to drive at such speeds at a crossroads.
The guy has apologized and offered to pay for the damage to my rear view mirror. I have accepted but the crowd was not pleased. They were about to get physical with the fellows and I had to put some effort in stopping them. The guys left thanking their stars. I did the same, picked myself up and was about to leave the crossroads, still in a state of shock.
The do-gooders of the crowd then made their appearance. They stopped my bike, enquired if I am okay, and then demanded 50 rupees. I was totally taken aback but then got to terms with reality. Nothing comes for free - not even sympathy from the crowd. I promptly gave them the money and left - in a state of dismay added to the shock.