"What's going on !!? I cannot seem to find a decent program on a single channel for the past one hour", complains Zuick.
"Duh. That seems to be the normal state of affairs these days", quickly surmises Wopie.
Zuick and Wopie are pixies, little mischievous fairy-like creatures with wings.They live in the pixie-verse, which is a universe with the laws of physics quite similar to our own universe, except in areas such as time travel, teleportation, remote mind-control etc. One of the fundamental discoveries that changed the life style of pixies was the invention of the pixie-television.
Pixies are a relaxed and romantic species by nature. They love watching television. The pixie-television is none like our own television - it is a hyper-dimensional projection of 3D images, scents, sounds and emotions. It is no wonder that pixies are quite glued to it.
The interesting thing that has to be admitted is that the life of the Homosapiens on this planet called Earth is not, as you think, a collective outcome of several conscious entities. But, it is, in fact, the program on the pixie-television.
Yes, that is right. Our universe is nothing but the plot-verse for their television program. Human beings are merely characters created for the entertainment of pixies.
This arrangement worked fine for a long time for the pixies. Their romantic sentiments were well addressed during the several previous episodes of the television programs. In human beings, there had been characters strong and gallant. There had been characters cute and lovely. Pixies had a good time following all the mess that these characters got themselves into.
In fact, the pixie-television is interactive. And pixies can even interrupt the lives of the characters if they wish to do so, like as recounted by Shakespere in his Midsummer Night's Dream.
But, these happy times are soon getting to an end.
"These characters on the TV are turning into a joke", exclaims Zuick.
"Yeah. I mean I just do not get the whole concept", wonders Wopie, "Nobody seems to be fighting a war for the sake of love. Isn't it supposed to be the plot, during the episode of the Trojan war ? Now, what are they fighting for ? Oil !! Can it get any stupider than that ? "
"They are all a bunch of confused idiots. Why do they work like donkeys ? And why do they spend all their money eating junk food ?"
"I don't even feel like getting inside their universe anymore. It stopped being like fun."
"And when is the last time you saw a character love something for the sake of love ? "
"Dear God Pixeus !! You are right Zuick. Love is becoming dead."
"I think we should demand an explanation. If it is not about love, why are they showing all this crap on pixie-television ? "
Zuick and Wopie form a club, the PTCC - Pixie Television Condemnation Club. They spread the word amongst all their friends - Blooter, Wigwag, Tria, Lymee and so on. They finally meet Qonsper - the resident nerd amongst the local pixies.
"You fools of pixiedom. You don't have a clue of what's going on. Do you think it is accidantal that they are showing all this crap on pixie-television ? No, my friends, no ! The evil government is planning a massive brainwashing operation for us pixies. They are sending such images on the television only to subdue us into brainless and robotic creatures."
"Whoooa !! "
"I say, we should rebel against all this. Rebel against the television. When pixies no longer watch any of these programs on the TV, they will finally abandon them due to the fall of ratings. I think we should get riddance of these dumb human beings for good. We have had them for enough time on the TV", explains Qonsper.
Everybody responds enthusiastically, "Yeah !! "
Thursday, December 28, 2006
"What's going on !!? I cannot seem to find a decent program on a single channel for the past one hour", complains Zuick.
Monday, December 25, 2006
The ancient Indian epic of Mahábháratha narrates the story of an apocalyptic war. This is not a war between the good and the evil. This war is about too much greed and its necessary culmination into a major battle.
Kauravás, led by Duryódhana, are consumed by greed and blinded by absolute power. They deny their cousins, the Pándavás, the rightful share of their property. Fighting on the side of the Kauravás are great warriors and righteous men. Ranking first amongst them are Bhíshma - who is the greatest warrior of all time, and Dróna - the greatest teacher in the art of warcraft. The forces of Kauravás are ten times stronger than those of Pándavás. But above all, Kauravás have a great archer to fight on behalf of them - Karña, a warrior born of low parents. In times of adversity, Duryódhana befriends Karña and gives him respect and a position of power. In return to friendship, Karña would sacrifice his life for the sake of Duryódhana.
The interesting thing that is revealed later is that Karña is actually the eldest of the Pándavás. Due to a sad episode, he gets abandoned by his mother in his childhood. If the Pándavás win the war, the throne would naturally go to Karña. But, Karña still keeps his loyalty to his friend Duryódhana, and fights his own brothers in the war.
Legend has it that the epic war of Mahábháratha repeats itself throughout time, whenever people are consumed by greed, whenever equality and justice are burnt in the flames of arrogance brought through by absolute power.
In our times, the greed of the Kauravás finds its reflection in the greed of the corporations. The absolute power wielded by Duryódhana finds its counterpart in the nuclear arsenal of the USA. The mighty Bhíshma and Dróna find their equivalents in the great universities and the research labs of Europe and the USA. We have our own Karña - the emigrant researcher employed by the drug development corporation, the musical artist employed by the recording industry, the software developer employed in the big industry...
The starving peoples of the world who are denied access to their rightful resources by their own cousins - they have only a handful of Pándavás to fight on their behalf. But, these Pándavás are great warriors undaunted by their adversity. They have a resource which the Kauravás do not possess - Krishna, the greatest philosopher of the entire mankind.
In the approaching future, the world is set stage for another apocalyptic battle. But, this time it will be fought on the sea.
The sea is everywhere. In the begining, people fear it, they run away from it. But they occassionally receive sudden outbursts from the sky - messages from the sea, constantly reminding them of their duty - to discover the deep, to discover the beyond.
Gradually, people get rid of their fear for the sea. They make ships and sail into it - reaching faraway lands, meeting people and making friendships.
This sea is called information.
But, the levels of the sea start rising suddenly. Indeed, they rise at an alarming pace. So, people build dikes and dams to prevent the sea from flooding. These dams turn into fortresses denying entry to the sea and denying entry to people from outside.
But, trade over the sea continues. Soon, this trade turns into a massive robbery operation. Huge ships of gold and wealth start to sail from disadvantaged lands into the lockers of the massive fortresses.
"greetings. would like to reach raider"
"raider answering. who signals ? "
"plumber. I find strategic information"
"lose no time"
The message is transmitted in no time over the sea.
" US NUCLEAR STRIKE FOILED
A secret message captured directly from the President of the USA, the supreme commander of the US miltary forces, over a preemptive nuclear strike on Beijing is transmitted on several websites over the internet. China gets alarmed. All the nations of the world get on a red alert. The highly encrypted military intelligence of the USA seems to have been broken by a secret group of computer hackers. The possible reasons for the nuclear strike are still disputed with no explanations forthcoming from the US government. Massive protests have commenced in the USA demanding an urgent inquiry behind the episode. The Security Council of the United Nations meets in session with the notable absence of the USA. "
The dikes preventing the sea from flooding get broken. The entire people of the planet become sea-borne.
The epic war on the sea commences.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Most of the good stories are written about travellers. Whenever a culture meets with another, a new story is born. May be I can generalize and say that, all good stories are about the meeting of two places or cultures. Sometimes, the second party in the meeting will be the audience themselves, the first party being the protagonists. For example, this happens with a story set in the future or in a fantasyland.
The problem with the current generation of writers is that very few people seem to notice this fact. All the great writers of old have spent considerable time traveling. Somerset Maugham has wandered throughout Europe and in the Far East - his stories are weaved from those travels. Roald Dahl has found most of his creative inspiration from his experiences in the second world war where he has served in the Royal Air Force. O Henry writes a considerable section of his stories about the Mexican neighbours to his south, and the rest of his repertoire are about con-men bitten by wanderlust. Even the great epics of the past - Illiad, Odyssey, Ramayana, Mahabharata etc. are about the travels of people or the meeting of cultures.
One of the reasons why Bollywood keeps churning out soulless jibberish ad infinitum is because it has forgotten this recipe for a successful story. Instead, it keeps trying out weird formulae such as boy meets girl, girl's father dislikes boy and so on ..
There is no culture without creativity, and there is no creativity without crossing cultures together. So I call this xreativity.
India probably ranks first in the world with respect to cultural diversity. But nobody seems to take notice. Logically speaking, there should be a huge number of TV programs about the travel & life in several parts of India, made for several Indian languages. India is so big - we can have TV channels such as Discovery, Animal Planet, History channel, AXN etc. which are restricted to only within India.
Even in universities, we do not have the tradition of celebrating cultural days. In US campuses, people celebrate China day, Singapore day, India day etc. Why not hold a Telugu day, Gujarathi day, Bengali day in a similar manner within India ?
Indians are a very inquisitive race by nature and are pokey about other cultures. Write a story about a Kabuliwallah parading in the streets of Calcutta, and the whole of India takes notice (This happens to be a lovely story penned by Tagore). Indian writers are currently doing a pathetic job in milking out this diversity for nice stories.
Where is the story about a Punjabi truck driver roaming in Karnataka ? Where is the story about a Rajasthani software engineer working in Hyderabad ? Where is the story about a Tamilian school teacher living in Bihar ? Where are the stories about Malayali armymen serving in Nagaland ? ...
Another thing glares at me now. I wanted to write stories in this blog. Instead, I have been posting brainwashing articles for the entire last year. What has happened to me !! ?
So friends, there will be no more lectures from my side. I will try concentrating only on writing short stories.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Égalité is a concept totally lacking in India. If I ever make a decision to leave India for good, it will most probably be because of the lack of égalité. Loosely translated, égalité means equality. But it is more than that. It is a principle of accepting that each person is equally interesting.
In India, we live in the tradition of sucking it up to the stars. A person is either a star or a bozo, nothing in between. I will give examples - Sania Mirza is the face of Indian tennis, Aishwarya Rai is the face of Indian cinema .. I feel disgusted enough when such epithets are mentioned in domestic press. But when they are uttered on the world stage, I feel nauseated.
How about the girl in the neighbourhood who plays really good tennis ? How about the guy in the campus who sings really well ? How about spending some money to purchase tickets for a concert of the local rock band ? How about paying some money to buy the book written by the new writer in the town ? "What !? Does he think he is an Amitav Gosh or what ?" These people are greeted with a fickle smile - "Yeah, we have seen people better than that !".
This is the reason India will never produce anything great or in copious quantities. It is not just about the feeling of disappointment that is imparted onto the minds of talented people. It is the total sucker attitude of the entire population.
Such people can never realize a true democracy.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
What was India doing when the fever of renaissance was gripping Europe ?
Listening to this lunatic. This person holds responsibility for the degeneration of Islam into mere puppetry.
One of the most evil persons to have ever walked on earth, he effectively killed the movement of Indian argumentative thought. I feel ashamed to see people glorifying him in current society.
Friday, November 10, 2006
When a person believes that he is doing something for a right cause, he becomes indistinguishable from a robot. Most of the great things happen because of these type of people. Most of the nonsense that we see in the world is also committed by the same kind of people. So where is the distinction ?
The distinction lies in the vision of the people - in what they see.
The problems of the world can be visualized collectively as a function which forms a peak over several dimensions. The solution for these problems lies at the top of the peak and it has to be reached somehow.
In mathematics, the technique that is used to solve this problem is called the conjugate gradient method. When there are thousands of dimensions, we have to first choose a direction to travel. The most simplistic answer - go in that direction where the descent is maximum (called the steepes descent method) - is also ignored by the junta of the world.
Every person has his own direction where he thinks he'll reach the top. In a sense, he is true. Each one of these directions yields an improvement. But the funny thing is that several of these directions are contradictory to each other. Look at the following figure to understand this.
So we see maniacal people (red and blue) fighting with each other about the correct way to reach the top. Sometimes, things get funnier with somebody (yellow) choosing the least important direction for reaching to the top. I could demonstrate this on a simple function over 2 dimensions, so you can imagine what could happen in real-world problems.
Take the problem of improving the status of traffic in India - the problem lies in several dimensions
a) Controlling the really large vehicles and routing them away from the city
b) Controlling traffic in peak hours by urban planning
c) Controlling traffic blockades by specifying seperate pedestrian districts, parking places etc.
d) Getting riders to wear helmets.
Amongst all these dimensions, the traffic police of Hyderabad demonstrate their zeal in (d). Like mad men, they keep digging in this direction and ignore everything else.
As a second example, take the problem of university education - it needs improvement in several dimensions
a) Establishing world class research facilities with proper accountability
b) Getting the students to have a real dialogue with the world around
c) Getting the students to attend the classes
Again, it so happens in India that all the zeal is demonstrated in (c).
Now imagine that we have a sane bunch of people in the world. You would imagine that things would be a lot better. People would choose the best direction to solve all the problems (cyan) instead of the stupidest (yellow). But, even then, it so happens that steepest descent is not the optimal method to reach to the top. We will eventually get there, but not in the most optimal manner. Because we might follow a zig-zag path with two opposing directions choosing alternate steps, taking a very long time to converge. This is what we would see in elections (assuming each step to be of a 5 year duration) with power alternating between left wing and right wing policies.
The Conjugate Gradient Method is a way of obtaining the peak in just "n" steps where "n" is the number of dimensions. The logic is simple - once you choose a direction, do the best you can in the current step, never repeat the direction.
It so happens that all these "n" directions would become perpendicular to each other (In mathematical terminology, they are said to form an orthogonal basis). If you want to understand the logic behind how to choose the right direction at each step, read this document (only for people with a mathematical bent of mind)
I have attended a fascinating mathematics course by Prof Mike Erdmann at Carnegie Mellon. Each one of us students had to choose a topic for write up, and when my turn came, I jumped at the chance of writing the proofs for the conjugate gradient method.
I think this method gives a lot of intuitions about how to organize a debate. When you are debating with another person, you are presenting a view. That is, you take a picture of the 3D function in the above figure, from an angle. Each person has a seperate photograph and you compare these photographs with each other to understand what could be the true shape of the function in 3D.
But most often, a debater fails to see this main purpose of the debate. He keeps insisting that he has the only photo that can capture the 3D shape and keeps digging in that direction. I call this the "root of all the evil" syndrome.
If only we have a smart bunch of leaders, we would end up choosing the right set of directions, and the problem of all the "n" dimensions will get solved in just "n" steps.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I am defending my Masters work in IIIT Hyderabad. It deals with matching planar patterns in perspective images.
After a long love-hate relationship, I am dedicated this work to the city of Hyderabad :)
Apart from obvious applications such as the reconstruction of architectural scenes, this work shall have implications towards the holy-grail problem of computer vision - take a clothed girl as input, produce a naked girl as output
So what is the state of the art ? As an insider, let me confess to you - we are already there !
The technology will be available within 15 years. Now you know exactly what Vision 2020 means !!
As a wise old man has said long before, science has a wicked male gaze. People thought he was talking about nuclear weapons etc. Nah, wrong. This is what he has actually meant. Free and juicy porn forever. (The first post on this blog discusses the horrors of this scenario in a poetic vein)
I am leaving to France to pursue a PhD on a related topic. Future generations of teenagers will look back upon me and my brethern as some kind of heroes, I think.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Otthaina maa bhásha ki putthadi pandagalu
Maró Gurajáda neeku kongottha sogasulu diddu gaaka
Maró Vémana neeku tatva chaitanyam'osagu gaaka
Maró Chinnaya neeché kammani kathalu palkinchu gaaka
Maró Thyágayya neek'impaina svaramul'arpinchu gaaka
May another Gurajáda gift new embellishments to you
May another Vémana teach depths of philosophy to you
May another Chinnaya narrate sweet stories with you
May another Thyágayya offer melodious salutations to you
May we see them all.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
When people say that Indians have discovered zero, what they mean is that they discovered the way of counting with zeroes.
Without using zeroes, counting would proceed like this
The number 1000 would need to be represented by 1000 digits instead of 4. In fact, due to the Indian method of counting, the storage (representation ability) for a number "n" came down to log(n).
What Indians have discovered is an exponential gain in data-storage. This significant invention made possible the basic arithmetic (multiplication, division etc) to be done in an exponentially less amount of time. It also opened roads for algebra, number theory, trigonometry and so on ..
The Counter is the most basic digital circuit. The key operation in counting is the toggle operator which reverses the digit on the right most side (called the least significant bit)
At first sight, it feels unnatural to count like this. But the genius of India has discovered this method of counting not less than 3000 years ago. I wish to claim that Indian philosophy takes its roots from this method of thinking.
In the Upanishads, the path of evolution is always a circle. However, a new dimension gets added every time a circle (yuga) gets finished. In this sense, the Indian thought is not fatalistic but progressive. The notion of progress has to be understood from the mode of counting.
In the Taitaríya Upanishad, five dimensions of human existence are mentioned - anna (matter), prána (life), mánasa (mind), vignána (understanding) and ánanda (bliss). Each of these dimensions is held in common with inanimate matter, plants, animals, men and enlightened men respectively.
The goal of scientific endeavour is to discover the ways of operation for each of the above 5 dimensions. In fact, ancient Indian philosophy is extremely accomodating for the theories of cosmos, relativity (matter) and evolution (life), that have been produced by centuries of scientific development.
Indian philosophy welcomes scientific endeavour to be made for understanding the remaining 3 dimensions as well. Currently, slow inroads are being made for undestanding Mánasa (mind) - through computer science. The future awaits similar revolutions to be made in the remaining dimensions. In India, progress and justice are truly symbolized by a wheel, as identified by the great emperor Ashoka, and as imbibed in the national flag. The wheel signifies the circular motion of progress through various terrains. It is also the symbol of the dawn of civilization.
I will also offer a surprising connection to Marxist thought from the Indian method of counting. Marx says that the society progresses through several stages where each stage is exactly the negation of its preceeding stage. Feudalism is the opposite of pastoralism, capitalism is the opposite of feudalism, communism is the opposite of capitalism etc. How is that possible ?
You see that the right-most digit of each stage is the negation of the previous stage. This is the Marxist method of understanding economic progress. (Need not be yours, if you don't use the binary system for counting)
You may also see that the right-most bits of socialism and feudalism are in alignment (both 0), thus supporting my earlier complaint that the communists in India are obstructing the end of feudalism from happening.
On a final note, the anecdote I narrated in my previous post also alludes to this method of counting.
Monday, September 25, 2006
"You look troubled, Jaya. What is on your mind ?", kindly says Dheesára - the chieftian of Vaiśáli.
"Áchárya, why is it difficult to absolve oneself from attachments ? ", asks Jaya.
"Ask a simpler question, Jaya ", says Dheesára.
Jaya thinks for a few minutes and asks - "What is the relationship of oneself with the world, Áchárya ?"
"Ask a simpler question, Jaya", Dheesára repeats.
Jaya thinks for a few more minutes and asks - "What is the common aspect between the world and oneself, Áchárya ? "
"The answer is evident, Jaya. It is called life. "
'Then what is life, Áchárya ? "
"If you want to understand life, you have to first understand death. Death is the total absence of life. It is the consummate negation."
"Yes Áchárya. But what is life ? "
"But Jaya, do you understand what death is ? "
"Yes Áchárya. I do understand. "
"Life is the convolution of life and death."
"How is that possible Áchárya ? If death be the negation of life, how can life be composed of death ? "
"Have you studied arithmetic, Jaya ? "
"Take the number zero. Isn't it the consummate negation of any kind of existence ? "
"Now take the number one. It signifies existence."
"A one is composed of a one and a zero. Moreover, if you want to look for higher numbers, you can compose them with ones and zeros by changing the place value of one."
"Yes Áchárya. But how does it relate to the question of life ?"
"Jaya, when you want to look for the existence of higher forms of life, death is an inevitable part in one of the places. You can choose to ignore it, but it is always there. When you look at the joy in the world, there is always suffering behind it. So do not make aversion to the suffering in the world. It is always an invitation to higher joy. "
"I am glad with your answer Áchárya. But there is still a doubt in my mind. What is the reason for the origin of life ? When does the equation end - the equation of infinite recursion of life and death ? "
"I am sorry Jaya. The mathematics required for answering that question is neither within your reach, nor within mine."
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I have decided to give the letter to Chandrababu Naidu gaaru, so today, I went to the NTR Bhavan in Jubilee Hills. I didn't have any decent clothes with me, so I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I didn't expect to meet Naidu, but was planning to give the letter to his secretary.
The TDP office was swarming with political leaders from all over the state, and I looked definitely the odd man out. I heard people murmuring "So it has finally come down to this. Kids getting into the office building wearing shorts !".
Then, I was shocked to know that if I intend to meet Naidu gaaru, my turn would be just at number 7. Growing up in IIIT and around Hitec City, I always had some awe about Naidu gaaru. Already tense, meeting him in shorts was out of the question. So I gave the letter to his P.A and rushed out of the place.
I hope Naidu gaaru will get to read it, atleast in a quick glance. In any case, I feel relieved now. And I will be getting back to my research work.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
What is the real problem of India ? Every aspiring intellectual charlatan claims to know the answer.
Qorruption : This is the favorite answer from the film industry. Everyone likes to believe that qorruption is the root cause of all misery and poverty. Blame the politicians. Blame the police. Blame the government. But in the end, this leads us nowhere. Qorruption is a part and parcel of the package of homosapiens. It is human nature to look for shortcuts to earn wealth. When we face poverty, we should not blame qorruption, but blame the vulnerability of our economic system. Qorruption is like carbon dioxide, it does not become an evil until it gets out of control. And when it gets out of control, it happens due to a deeper reason.
Qleanliness : Or rather qleanlessness. Homecoming NRI princes complain about the filthy habits of the Indian crowds. About dust clouds hanging over the cities, sewer spilling onto the roads, gaudy newsprint adorning the walls, and backyards reeking of garbage stink. Since qleanliness is next to godliness, qleanlessness should be next only to dastardliness. But before you equate Indians with the scum of the earth, you should realize that this is an extremely racist argument. Qleanliness has been used throughout the history to justify racial hatred - it has been used by the Nazis against the Jews, it has been used by the Brahmins against the Pariahs, and it has been used by Jews against the Arabs. Qleanliness is like body temperature, it is the symptom rather than the real cause of the sickness.
Qultural Degradation : This is the most dangerous of all the pseudo problems. Because it not only diverts attention away from the real problem, but it also creates aversion to the real cure. It is not the fault of the masses that the cultural values are eroding, but the fault of the self appointed cultural vangaurd. Any kind of philosophy loses its value when it doesn't come to terms with science and technology. In today's world, we need to read and recompose the Upanishads after studying physics and biology, not after studying vedas and brahmanas. In today's world we need to learn and perform classical music with electrical and electronic instruments. If we fail to do so, qulture will inevitably degrade. Qulture has meaning only in motion, only in change.
So what is the real problem of India ?
Here is the answer. In one word. Feudalism.
India never had an industrial revolution. Its society is still suffering from the vestiges of a bygone era. An era which ended by 1700 in Europe. No, these are not vestiges, but living and thriving bacteria. They are called the Qaste system and the Quota System. As long as these survive, India will never see a true capitalist democracy.
Qommunists - Phenomenal Idiots : I have respect for Marx and his treatise on capitalism. I have respect for the selflessness of some people who believe in the ideals of the Qommunist party. But I believe the Qommunist movement hijacked a more necessary revolution before it has even begun. In Europe, this revolution was called the capitalist revolution, or the age of enlightenment.
Marx mentions that a society progresses through several stages depending on the economical control of the means of production. Hunting-Gathering to Pastoral to Feudal to Capitalist to Communist. This order is inevitable and all these stages are necessary. Particularly, Feudalism can be destroyed only by Capitalism, and this happens through the industrial revolution.
Marx urges communists to fight along with capitalists to eradicate feudalism. Because until the advent and maturity of capitalism, communism has no meaning.
However, Marx has overseen an important and necessary ingredient in industrial/capitalist revolution - colonization. This was his biggest mistake. I discussed this issue here.
Colonies are necessary for the industrial revolution to occur, and not the other way round. Lenin in his extention to the Marxist theory, made exactly the above mistake. He said that colonies are necessary for capitalism to continue and survive. He made no mention about how they are necessary for the advent of industrial revolution. This argument had been needed for supporting the Russian Red Revolution. But even to this day, Qommunists religiously believe in this nonsense. Doing so, they go against the very ideas of Marx.
They claim that MNCs are the post-imperialistic equivalent of the East India company. They fight against any pro-business deal saying that it is anti-societal. They try to bring in job security when there are no jobs to begin with. They claim that industrial revolution can happen through state-based control (going against all evidence of the great-leaps forward of qommunist countries, which have ended in disastrous failures).
Who are the qommunists helping in doing all this ?
They are not helping the society, they are not helping the workers.
They are helping the wicked old witch of feudalism who refuses to die. They are stifling the throat of capitalism before it becomes strong enough to fight the ills of feudalism.
If Qommunists have their way, we will never see an age of enlightenment in India. Neither will we see an end of poverty. But I do believe that communists (not qommunists) have a role to play in the development process. They have to ensure that the promises of capitalism are kept intact - increase of jobs, increase of literacy and increase of opportunities.
So my dear friends, remember these slogans lest the qommunists hijack them. These slogans belong to the age of Indian Capitalist Awakening.
Kill Qaste System. Quit India.
Kill Quota System. Quit India.
Kill Feudalism. Quit India.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Why TDP should befriend CPI/M
Dear Chandrababu Naidu gaaru
Congratulations for standing firm on the Samaikyandhra issue. Unlike the Congress party, TDP has always had a clear idea on the Telangana problem. Standing together with TDP on this issue are the communist parties. I would like to say that, in fact, these two parties have much more in common.
The common ground for both TDP and the Communists will be obtaining more power to the states and thus establishing a federal structure for governing India. This decentralization of power is essential for further progress in India, and TDP and CPI/M should fight together for making the necessary constitutional amendments. I will explain why this is necessary.
From the classical viewpoint of Marx, human society progresses through the stages of hunting, pastoral, feudal, capitalist and finally communist societies. Even though some people do not believe in the final stage of communism, there is concensus in the world about the other stages. The question arises about the nature of society in India. We tend to believe that we are in the capitalist stage, but it is not true. We are in the feudal period.
When the age of the zamindars has ended, many people believed that feudalism has ended as well. But that is not true. Feudalism will continue to exist as long as we do not move into an industrialized economy. As we all know, India never had an industrial revolution. So, we have not yet moved into the capitalist society. Feudalism exists in our society in several forms - in the caste system where inter-caste marriages are not possible, in the quota system where political power is awarded based on caste equations, in the religious prejudices of people, in the widespread illiteracy and ill-health of people, in the lack of manufacturing industry, in the lack of a working class etc.
According to communist theory, feudalism can be ended only by capitalism. That is, only through an industrial revolution and the rise of the beaurgoisie class (capitalists). Among the several good things that such beaurgoisie revolution brings in are economic prosperity for the country, widespread literacy, employment to everyone, and most importantly - an educated working class. The communists believe that the working class will later become the nemesis of the capitalists and through another revolution, brings in economic equality for everyone. But, without the industrial revolution - without the rise of capitalism, there shall never be a working class. So, Marx encourages the communists to fight hand-in-hand with the bourgeoisie for the end of feudalism.
The communists in India have imagined the Congress party to be the bourgeoisie class mentioned by Marx. But this had been a mistake. Congress party has only served as a front for the feudalists. Until the Soviet Union came down in the 1980s, there had also been dreams about ushering in an industrial revolution the Soviet style. Both the Congress and the Communists have floundered on this course. Now it has been established beyond doubt that industrialization of the country can happen only through economic reforms.
Any right wing party should have a concrete idealogy of nation-state. The spirit of nationalism is very important for the industrialization. Unfortunately, the only party with such an idea is the BJP. It equates the spirit of Indianness with Hindutva. Since the capitalists currently have no other option, they are backing the BJP. Hindutva, however, is a very stupid idealogy. It alienates Muslims and other minorities of India. It also ignores the enormous differences within the Hindu community. In principle, it is a religious idealogy, so it belongs to the age of feudalism. It has no place in capitalist society (secularism is a by-product of the industrial revolution). Since it is not a true bourgeoisie party, BJP is not getting any support from the communists.
In effect, the bourgeoisie revolution (industrialization) is being suppressed for the lack of alternative political outfits. In fact, it is not possible to have a true right-wing party at the nation level. Because India is not a simple nation, one cannot frame the idea of a nation-state.
However, these ideas can be defined properly at the state level. Indeed, TDP owes its birth to the rise of Telugu nationalism. This Telugu nationalism is not regionalism, and is not antagonistic to the unity of India. Infact, Telugus have always been the most open to outside influences. Telugu language is a living testimony to the happy marriage of Dravidian and Sanskrit influences. What Telugu nationalism brings in - is a spirit of development and a spirit of transforming Andhra Pradesh into an economical and cultural superpower.
As a Telugu nationalist, I would like to see Andhra Pradesh developing as rapidly as Malaysia. I would like to see it as a tourist destination as reputed as France. I would like to see an industrialized Andhra Pradesh with excellent education and health facilities. I would even like to see an Andhra Airlines where gongura chutney is served.
Carving a separate Telangana state will be suicidal for its people because the valuable coastline will be lost. The prosperity of the Telugu people will hold good only when they stand together. This is a vital element in the rise of Telugu nationalism. Telangana issue is only a force of the feudalists (TRS, BJP) which prevents industrialization. It is time it is exposed in that manner.
Telugu people have always been enterprising as well as liberal. They do not have religious fanaticism. They are humble and inviting for other cultures. Andhra Pradesh has an excellent coast line and fertile lands. Nothing can prevent it from the path of development. Except - nonsensical policies from Delhi, wasted time in the Delhi parliament, religious riots provoked from outside.
What TDP and CPI/M should fight for - is a higher share in the economic revenue for the states, and a higher freedom for making laws. We need a federal structure for the government like the one which exists in the USA. Delhi can still take care of the nation's defence and foreign affairs. But Telugu people would like to handle their economic affairs by their own hands. They still consider themselves as Indians and pride themselves in being part of a great and diverse cultural landscape.
If that happens, there will be a voice for the right-wing bourgeoisie in Andhra Pradesh. The expatriate Telugu people who made it big in the USA and Europe will come back to invest in the growing Andhra economy. With the rise of working class, the communists will find a voice in the political scene as well. Finally, democracy will start functioning properly without any stupid coalition governments. It will either be a leftist government or a rightist government depending on the wishes of the people. The forces of feudalism (illiteracy, caste-system, quota-system & religious fanaticism) will be deeply buried.
Thus, I request you to take the initiative and make friends with the Communists. In this fight against feudalism, you make the rightful friends. Finally, in an industrialized and economically developed Andhra Pradesh, TDP and CPI/M will get to fight each other. In this process, there will be nobody else left on the political scene. Andhra Pradesh, in effect, will inspire other states in India towards economic development and cultural pride. Like Europe, which is getting together now, India is as big and as diverse as a continent. It will also become as rich and as developed.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
There is a wealth of information on the Bahái religion on wikipedia
If I were religious, I would have chosen to believe in this religion. The biggest attraction is the stress placed on the Onness of Humanity which is considered as equally important to the Onness of God.
There is an official website and also an online repository of works if you are interested in knowing more about the faith.
I would like to visit their Lotus Temple, when I get to visit Delhi.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
How farm subsidies are perpetrated in the west :
I like pretty much everything about France - about its stance on the Lebanon issue, about its European goal of development, about its social welfare system etc.. So I have been looking very hard to discover something that is bad about France !
And I found it - in the form of agricultural subsidies.
European countries spend a total of 400 billion dollars as a subsidy to farmers. Technically, the farmlands of Europe and USA are not making any profit ! Lots of external money is being pumped into the farming community to keep it economically competent against the cheaper grains from the third world.
The USA spends an equivalent amount of money (100s of billion dollars). Japan spends a phenomenal amount of money subsidizing the cultivation of rice.
Even though it is ecnomically very unsound to do so, these countries do this because of political lobbying from the rural community. The reasons the lobbyists give are (1) Keep USA/UK secure from the world price fluctuations of grain (2) Avoid famine (3) Promote a countryside way of life (4) Tourist industry thrives on the agricultural backdrop.
How the western farm subsidies harm the third world :
Due to these subsidies, the developing countries (India, Brazil etc) are not able to compete in the marketplace. Even after a lot of import tariffs and shipping costs, the cost of the US soybean gets to be cheaper than the homegrown variety in India.
Since the local agricultural community is unable to make surplus profits, the economy of India gets slowed down. In several places, the farmers find it profitable to cultivate cash crops such as coffee, sugar cane which are not available in the USA / Europe. This cultivation makes them more vulnerable to famine. At some places such as Afghanistan, farmers cultivate opium to remain economically profitable.
USA/Japan dump a lot of excess produce in the African countries in the form of food aid, so as to stabilize the price of grain. This kind of food aid harms the local producers, and helps nothing towards the actual economical development of those countries.
Agricultural subsidies are evil.
So I understand that USA does these (going by its political track record). But, to my surprise, these are even more perpetrated by France.
France is one of the most agricultural countries of Europe (the size of cultivable land is huge, even though only a tiny 6% of the population lives on agriculture). France spends one of the biggest purses on agricultural subsidy. By doing this, it is hitting on the poor third world countries.
These subsidies do not help the small individual farmers in any way. Most of this money goes into the pockets of huge agricultural corporations. To obtain a list of these evil corporations (which includes your favorite cheese/chocolate maker Nestle/Cadbury etc), please look at this website - www.farmsubsidy.org
In economically educated circles, it is widely believed that cutting down these subsidies is a great boost to the country's economy itself - with lesser taxes, more money available for social spending, and so on.
This blog maintained by the Guardian newspaper of UK provides the update information about this debate.
How industrial revolution is denied to the third world :
The poor countries (Brazil, India and so on) have been at loggerheads with the economical giants over the issue of farm subsidies. The WTO talks of this year have ended in a stalemate because the rich countries did not agree to lower the subsidies on agricultural products. By a stroke of evil genius, USA has agreed to do this if only the poor countries reciprocate the act by reducing import tariffs on high-tech gadgets. India/Brazil cannot afford the fledgeing home electronics industry suffer by doing so.
As I mentioned in a previous post, industrial revolution is not an automatic process in an economy. It is a painful process. People usually lack education to adapt to the changes brought by the industrialization. It is extremely necessary to have a trading partner to buffer these changes, and let the country sail smoothly into a developed nation.
The rich countries had that buffer in the form of colonies.
The poor countries don't have any such buffer currently. So it is doubly harder to make the transition. It becomes inherently impossible, especially when the rich countries hit the poor countries by giving agricultural subsidies in their backyards !
Do we have a win-win answer to this stalemate ?
Yes, in the form of energy crops. And this is a particularly nice answer because it brings in energy security and environmental wellbeing as its bi-products.
Bio-fuels - especially the ones which are used to produce ethanol have the capacity to meet the energy needs of the world, and let it escape from the clutches of rising oil prices.
Peak Oil Crisis :
This doomsday website provides grim warnings that civilization is coming to an end with the growing oil prices.
Do we have alternatives ?
But the solution is near at hand - in the form of growing energy crops, and this solution is economically viable. In saying so, I mean that it is cheaper to use bio-fuels rather than fossil fuels. Thus this change is a self-sustaining chain reaction, if only it is kick-started.
The kick-starting process is extremely difficult because the oil companies vehemently oppose any such transition which is against their interests.
But, now there is a campaign in the state of California, lead by the Indian entrepreneurial genius - Mr. Vinod Khosla, to kick start such a change.
Please look at his presentation in the google tech-group which is available freely on Google Video. This presentation got Larry Page (founder of Google) convinced, so it is not surprising that it impressed me too.
In the presentation, Mr. Khosla explains how ethanol is a cheap, environmentally-nice and economically viable alternative to gasolene. But any fledgeing growth of the alternative fuel usage will be attacked by a slashing of oil prices by the rich Saudi oil companies, and thus killing these initiatives before they can germinate.
Mr. Khosla believes there has to be a legislation to prevent the oil companies from doing so, in order to ensure a level playing-field.
So I wish California to take the lead and pioneer the use of bio-fuels. (In fact, it has already been successfully pioneered by Brazil, but California's energy needs are much higher). There is an act called Act 87 which is being brought in front of the california legislature to help the growth of ethanol. But the oil industry is spending a lot of money on spreading FUD about this act. Please look at its evil propaganda inside this website.
Mr. Robert Rapier, an oil company executive, has raised some educated criticism about Mr. Khosla's evangelism. Specifically, he criticizes the use of corn ethanol, and also identifies some errors in Mr. Khosla's numbers.
On the request of Mr. Rapier, Mr. Khosla has replied to these issues here, in the true spirit of educational communication. He explains that corn ethanol is only to help make a smooth trajectory towards more efficient fuels such as cellulose ethanol, butanol and other bio-fuels. He also explains that he is not against measures of energy conservation such as electric trams and cars, and that these issues are not in conflict with his own work.
These bio-fuels are going to become cheaper and more efficient, by the revolutions that are happening currently within bio-technology and molecule synthesis.
In a world which uses bio-fuels, the great wastelands of Africa and South America will transform into great sources of income for those countries. Also, with agricultural land in demand to produce bio-fuels, the farmers of USA and Europe no longer need any farm subsidies and these can be abolished. Consequently, the farmers of China and India would competently sell their produce in Europe and Japan, and this additional raise of income would trigger further industrialization in the poor countries.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
My dad has a plain outlook about life. He has no great pretentions or grand theories, but only simple wisdom.
I am watching some war photographs on the BBC, and just get reminded of a song that he used to sing.
I still have memories of this tune - of him whistling in the mornings as everyone rushes to get ready for school (Both my parents are teachers). Sometimes, instead of whistling, he would sing it out.
Chittee chittee paapallárá
Bulli bullee poovullárá
Malli mallee navvandarrá
It is a song that he has written a long time ago, before I was born. The song, ofcourse, cannot be translated into English. But what my dad was saying is this - Oh cute and tiny children, you are like flowers, keep laughing again and again, and live your life with those laughs.
Renu (my sister) had a special fondness for this song. She once sang this in a competition at school and she got a prize.
It goes further like this ... If you grope/fight about race and religion, life becomes a plant of ganjáyi (marijuana). If you say that humanism is your religion, then it is nicely a plant of thulasi (basil - medicinal and sacred)
Kulam mathamani đéburládithe
Bathukémó ganjaayi mokka
Maanavathvamé naa matham anté
Manchi gaa thulasi mokka
Chittí chittee paapallaará
Bulli bullee poovullaará
Malli mallee navvandarrá
Renu, if you happen to see this, please tell me the rest of the lyrics.
My dad used to be a writer, but I never got to know this until I started going to college, when I accidantally discovered an old magazine with a story written by him. He has never impressed his ideas upon us. All I can remember was this simple song, that he used to sing often.
Thank you Nánná :)
Monday, July 17, 2006
From the world fact book, I have this information about Lebanon :
Muslim 59.7% (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri),
Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant),
This is possibly the only truly multiethnic country in the Middle East. This is a country which is capable of having a strong democracy, and making progress in science and culture, without getting distracted by religion, race or other issues.
Historically, Beirut has been one of the world's greatest cities. Along with Jerusalem and Cairo, it has been one of the cultural meetpoints. However unlike the other two - which have now been reduced to petty bastions of jingoistic dogma, Beirut still has the capability of fostering plurality.
But sadly, its neighbors won't let it make any progress. The Lebanese are being treated like a football by Syria, Iran and Israel. It is high time that the world's economical bulldogs (read USA and Europe) recognized the importance of a strong Lebanon (in terms of great universities, industries and military). This will serve a lot in defusing the tension out of middle east.
Instead of shamelessly bombing over Lebanon with its artillery, why does not Israel consider establishing industrial and educational partnerships ? The zionists should realize that this will help a lot in reducing civilian casualities in the Israeli mainland. Amongst all its neighbours, Israel can count only on Lebanon for being a true democracy. (But again, is Israel a democracy in the first place ? It could very well be called a Jewish theocracy)
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Yo !! La France is in the Finals. Ole, Ole Ole Finale !
It is so strange 'coz some people were afraid it will not make it past the first round. Remembering how they played against the south koreans !! hahaha :) It looks so distant now.
Zizou is god. I know the Italian defence is pretty strong. But again, zizou is god. And come on, everything is within reach for les bleus now.
Actually, I am pretty confused which team to support here because half the Grenobloise are Italian !! On the Italian quarter on the other side of the river, the sentiments will be running exactly in the opposite direction. :) It will be really fun to watch what goes on. I can't wait till Sunday.
It is so weird - nobody even bothers to notice that a French girl is about to win the wimbledon. It's football time now.
Yesterday, it was pure madness after France sealed off the victory. The bleu-blanc-rouge fluttering everywhere; youngsters dancing around fireworks; shirtless youths jumping into the fountain at centreville; girls jumping over the top of bus-shelters !!
One of my Italian friends told me before the match "France should get into the finals man. We need to lick them bad, and take revenge for the Eurocup defeat."
" You would be going to the Club Azure (Italian) to watch the match ? "
"No. I am going home (over to Turino - 1 hour from here) I will watch it from there. If Italy loses, I will just stay there. Forget my Masters, forget all my studies. No more coming back to France :) "
"haha haha "
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
One has to live away from the Telugu land to truly understand the beauty of its language. The language has a strange innocence and simplicity in expression. At the same time, it is extremely symmetric. For example, take some random phrases "kada daaka nadachi vacchina" (that which comes till the end), "theeru maaraledu" (its nature didn't change), "chilaka palukulu" (rote repitition / parrot speak) , "siggu moggalai" (overcome by coyness / budding of coyness)
However, it is an open secret that this language is dying.
In the rapid pace of life, with all its confusions, the Telugu people are losing. They are not able to identify the Telugu language. Consequently, they cannot speak properly, and thus, they cannot think properly. Due to this, the cultural output of the land has hit an enormous low in the recent times. (The current generation of telugu films/music/literature is at its disastrous low)
To prove my point, let me guide you to a Telugu television channel. A news reporter interviews some people about some topic "Why are the prices rising ?". The person getting interviewed always fumbles. He begins to speak in Telugu, mumbles a few words and finally gives up. He switches over to English, mutters some incoherent phrases and finally flashes a foolish smile. This happens irrespective of the topic and irrespective of the person speaking.
This is true of school teachers, politicians, TV anchors, news readers ..
The Telugu newspapers have become shockingly cheap in the language they employ.
A case in point is the Eenadu newspaper, with its humongous readership. Sometimes, I doubt if the real culprit of the disintegration of the language is Mr. Ramoji Rao - the media baron who owns the Eenadu news paper and the E-TV ! He can single-handedly change the course of the language if he wishes so !
Whenever I make an in-depth conversation with any of my Telugu friends, we switch over into English. Both of us feel ourselves inadequate in expressing in Telugu. And I am talking about people who have excellent knowledge of Telugu prose and poetry (not mere products of English Medium education) The only people who seem to have a reasonable command of the language are song-writers for the films. But even with them, I have my specks of doubt.
What is the reason ?
This is my point of view.
I believe that we have been trying to do it all wrong.
Principally, there are two kinds of languages - classical and liberal.
A good example of a classical language is "French" which owes heavily to "Latin". Whenever modern life presents a new technoligical invention, or political dispute, or psychological trauma, French can readily create a word made from the Latin roots. For example, in French, the word for computer graphics is infographie. The entire language is composed of such words, so they hardly stand out. Thus, the French lead a "classical" life. They try to protect their language from all types of encroachments (principally from the Anglo-Saxon words of English) They consider that their language is golden and that words from other languages are merde (literally, shit) In a way, they are true in saying so !
The best example for a liberal language is "English", which, historically got modified by several tribes - the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons, the French-Normans, the Vikings and so on. Ultimately, it got bastardazed to such a level that one word in English hardly resembles another. The British have always been open to the inadequacy of their language. They have crazily borrowed words from every language possible. Right now, English boasts of a vocabulary of two million words - no other language comes close to this richness. There is a word to express every shade of meaning, and usually, there are twenty words for saying the same thing.
What about Telugu ?
The pundits of the Telugu Academy would want us believe that Telugu is a classical language.
They create tongue-twisting inventions like "Dhooma-sakatam" (train) "Doora-darshini" (TV) "Doora-shravana-yantramu" (telephone). In the recent days, they are encroaching onto the turf of the computer desktop, making words such as "Meetala Palaka" (keyboard) "Paryavekshana Pradesham" (control center) They expect everyone to gulp these monster-words and swallow them down the throat for the glory of the Telugu language !!
But what they don't realize is that by doing so, they are killing the language.
Let me be open.
Telugu is not a classical language.
It is a very liberal language. Throughout history, it got screwed by several influences as wide reaching as tamil, sanskrit, portugeese, arabic, spanish, and ofcourse, now English. The word for key (chevi) comes from the portugeese "chablis". The word for spice (masala) comes from the arabic word (masalla). The list goes on and on. Historically, there have always been twenty words in Telugu for saying the same thing. In this aspect, Telugu is very much like English.
You can say "suvarna-dhaanya-raasi" or "bangaaru panta". Both are valid. But the second one sounds more delicious. That is theta-telugu.
Similarly in English, you can say "cordial reception" or "hearty welcome". The second one sounds much nicer. That is theta-english.
Given its history, I do not see any reason why we should not borrow more words from English ! By doing so, we always give them our own telugu-ness. We say "taebulu" instead of "table" /teibl/
The English also do the same. They say /khordiul risepshun/ instead of /koerthiale raysepseeyon/ (which is how the French pronounce the same word)
I think it is high time that we have accepted words like "kampyootaru", "key-boardu", "examsu", "teacharu", "offeesu" as true Telugu words. They are our own pride and our own legacy. By doing so, we will free the Telugu language from its shackles and let it flow like the mighty river, that it actually is.
In my way of contributing, I would like to bring life to two projects.
1) A readable roman script for Telugu language. Turkish has one, Japanese has one, why not Telugu ? We need an alphabetic script which is the most intuitive and facile. Please look at these images for a preliminary version. We need quick ways of editing such script and also cross-converting it into the standard Telugu font. I would like to work on both directions.
2) An ever-growing internet dictionary like this.
If you would like to contribute / discuss your own ideas, please drop me a line.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
"Behind the holy premises of the temple, runs a gushing torrent. Since the dawn of time, piligrims have held these pure waters with the power of cleansing the ills of mind."
Claire lifts her head out of the booklet.
"Anvesh, You have to believe me. I had the strangest feeling yesterday after drinking these waters."
Anvesh turns his head nonchalently.
Jacques comes up towards them. "There is a possibility. These waters can contain some drifting neurotoxins.", he says.
They look at him with surprise. "How ? "
"Maybe some produce of a plant. Seeds perhaps. From the mountains."
They look up, the sun shines brilliantly over the snow-capped peaks. They are standing at the foot of an enormous mountain.
"Okay. Quit trying to impress me.", Claire smiles.
They laugh together at the silliness of the idea.
Standing witness is an ancient temple, at the banks of the river. Without a priest or a consistent flow of piligrims, it waits in anonymity. Inside the temple is a sculpture of Nataraja Shiva, carved in stone.
"This is very strange. A temple for the Nataraja to be found at the foot of a mountain."
Nataraja is a form of the Shiva, the destructor. Divinity is understood in the Brahmanic religion as the trinity of Brahma - the creator, Vishnu - the preserver and Shiva - the destroyer. Different facets of the one single God.
Nataraja symbolifies Shiva in his cosmic dance with Maaya - or the myth of reality. He is carved at the center of a perfect circle with four arms, each depicting the several phases of creation and destruction of the universe. In this form, he is worshipped by aspiring dancers and musicians, to lend them the gift of creativity - the divine inspiration of replicating, of trying to mimic the cosmic creation.
"You are right. Which dancer would get an audience at the foot of these mountains ? Is this really a temple ? Does it have any other function ?", Jacques questions.
Anvesh is equally lost. He is entertaining his friends from France. A talented artist, he has been finishing his studies at the academy in Paris. Jacques and Claire decide to spend the summer trekking in the Himalayas, and Anvesh has been the host, helping them swim through the barriers of language and bureaucracy.
"This could have been a school, or even a university. Lost in time, it may have become a temple.", he makes a guess.
They peer inside the dark chamber. The statue of the Nataraja stands serene at the center of the wide hall.
"It is beautiful.", Claire remarks.
Jacques looks at the overwhelming symmetry in the statue.
"You are true. But on another note, isn't it futile to capture the Divine on a stone ? ", Jacques wonders.
"Well, man never quits trying.", Anvesh answers.
"What do you mean ? Have you been painting something ?", they ask aloud.
Anvesh looks at the graceful pose of the Nataraja. "I am very scared to admit it. But I making an oil on the canvas. I have some musings, and some dreams."
"Wait, this is going somewhere. You never told us about this", Claire exclaims in alert.
"I wouldn't have told you. I am too afraid to admit - even to myself."
"But maybe you should learn to deal with it", Jacques remarks.
"Deal with what ?"
"Your fear", Jacques responds.
Then they hear something from the dark corner of the chamber.
"Only the fearless have seen the Asrapushpa."
The abruptness of this intrusion is so alarming that the three jump onto their heels. It was a bearded fellow covered in rags, who was resting quietly in the far end of the room.
"Who are you ? ", Anvesh demands.
"That is of no consequence. You should have demanded about what the Asrapushpa is."
"What is it ?"
"A flower of celestial beauty. It grows only on the peaks sorrounding this temple - the flower that only few have seen."
"How does it look ?"
"I cannot say. But it is said to be of the brightest red colour. The colour of blood. That is why it is called Asrapushpa."
"But why would anyone go find it ?"
"You fool", the bearded man glows in anger. "Then why are you here ? The place only the most fearless of sages have come to ?"
The bearded man comes out to light. Looking at him, Claire goes extremely pale. The man is carrying a white object in his hand - the skull of a dead man.
The man is a member of the Aghoris - violent sages who practice an ascetic life in extremely harsh conditions. A sect of the Samana religion, they worship the destructor Shiva in his real abode - the burial place.
"We are extremely sorry. We are not aware. We will return immediately.", Anvesh mutters quickly.
The three are still in a state of shock by when they reached their lodgings. Jacques says "We should return to Shimla. I believe Claire has seen enough that her nerves can take."
"Please wait for me at Shimla. You can get in touch with Mr. Verma of the tourist department. He remembers you."
"Why ? What are you going to do ? "
"Climb some of the peaks around the temple. ", Anvesh replies.
"You are out of your mind ! You are going to look for the blood flower ?" Jacques exclaims in disdain.
"Jacques, I have to confess something to you. I have tasted the waters from the stream."
Jacques looks in silence.
"I want to find out."
Jacques continues to stare in silence.
"I will return in two weeks. Please wait for me."
One should strive to be a mountain amongst men. Lending beauty and pride to everyone around, but not possessed by even one of them.
Anvesh comes out of his musings and looks up at the sunset. Basked in the evening light, the snow peaks are radiating in gold.
He has been disappointed for two weeks. The peaks have proved to be too steep to climb in most places. He has scarcely found any vegetation on the high slopes, the rock being too hard to support any growth of plants. But next to glaciers, the rock gets eroded into fine gravel - supporting some vegetation, mostly bryophytes.
He did not find any flowering plants. But at the very top of some peaks, he found the surface completely even, resembling a plateau - the region being exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day. He has reason to suspect that he would find some flowering plants in such a place, provided there is enough supply of water.
Anvesh takes a deep breath to gather more oxygen. In front of him stands an extremely steep climb. It is not too difficult to go up. But it would be exceedingly dangerous to return. He has been avoiding such passages for the last two weeks.
"What if I have been thinking this wrong ? "
Then a realization hits upon him. "What if the way to return does not reveal itself until he climbs to the top ? "
He starts climbing.
He tries not to look down into the valley below, but the temptation is hard to resist.
As he gets climbs up, he hears a familiar sound - that of water rushing on the rocks. The sound gets intense as he gets closer. Soon, he finds himself on top of the summit.
He is staring into an enormous red flower. Sorrounded by the whites and the greys of the mountain, the flower dazzles in bright contrast, attracting attention from every direction.
"Is this the blood flower that has eluded every one ? "
He laughs heartily and congratulates himself on the success.
But then the realization dawns on him.
"Maybe the flower does not elude anyone."
The suddenness of this realization sinks hard into him. What if there is no way of getting down ?
"I will not give up."
He plucks the flowers carefully from the stalks and puts them in his backpack. They emenate a powerful scent, something heavenly.
"Why would a plant growing in these heights strive this hard to attract attention ? Why is it so brightly colored ? Why is it so strongly scented ?"
He tries to consult Darwin, thinking from the theory of evolution. He does not find a straightforward answer.
The scent of the flowers is overwhelming. He looks inside the bud of a flower. Tiny strands of pollen rise up in a bright red colour. He puts it back in his sack and starts descending.
"What if I die now ? What purpose would it serve for the flower ?"
He stops for a minute and looks into the flower. At a sudden inexplicable urge, he starts to nibble at the petals. He finds them immensely sweet. Then he eats the entire flower. He finds that his fatigue has strangely disappeared.
Feeling contended, he resumes his journey. He looks up towards the peak. But what he finds there gives him goosebumps.
Because there is no mountain. The valley is looking down at him from the heavens !
Then he looks down, but he does not find the ravine below. Instead he finds the peak turned upside down. He trips down and finds himself going up the peak.
He finds a man. But it is not another man, he is looking at his own person from the past, a couple of hours ago, climbing up the mountain.
Then the realization dawns on him.
"What I am seeing could not be what my eyes are seeing."
"What I am feeling is not what my limbs are feeling."
Soon he finds himself drifting in several images of his past. He finds himself in his hotel room. He sees himself talking with Jacques and Claire.
"Yes. The flower contains a neurotoxin. I should be intoxicated now."
He sees himself as young man making a journey abroad. Then he sees him studying in the academy at Paris, making his friends, getting his heart-breaks. He also finds images from his childhood, him making his first sketches on paper, his first days in school, his grandmother reading to him in his bed.
But there is a question.
"What is my real body doing ? "
He knows the answer.
"It is doing the bidding of the flower."
But what is the bidding ?
Then he understands completely - why the flower has been so attractive, why it has been so strongly scented, and why he has eaten its petals.
The answer presents itself in all its simplicity, "The pollen. It has to escape the flower.".
Finding himself incapable of taking control of his real senses, he resigns himself to observing the intoxicated images of his past that he has been drifting into.
He finds himself capable of summoning any image from his past, but all these images are engulfed in a sea of blackness. He tries peering into the dark, into the beyond, staring intensely to find clues. But he finds himself getting tired.. feeling drowsy...
The clerk in the tourist office raises his hands in dismay. "We have not recorded any accidant in the region, Sir. But you must understand these mountains are vast. "
Jacques sighs in disappointment.
Anvesh has been missing for the last four weeks. For several days, they have been fearing the worst - of finding him dead, body covered in a blood bath under a cliff. But now, they have started to doubt if they will recover his body at all. He has simply disappeeared. Never to be heard of again.
Anvesh wakes up with a jolt. His head is smarting with a bad pain.
"Ahh.. When did I fall asleep ? "
He remembers he is in a journey, and that the bus should be going somewhere. He looks up at his backpack and his suitcase - they are safe in the baggage compartment above.
"Good. I have a seat next to the window."
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Sleep has never been kind to me. It is extremely rare that I get pleasant or even neutral dreams. Most of the dreams that come to me are very terrifying. What causes me fear is not ghosts or death. The underlying element is always madness. Something which is taken for granted no longer appears to be vaild. Going mad is the scariest thing that can happen to me.
I do not know if there is any difference between thinking and dreaming. Most of my dreams are built in a very intelligent manner. They are built as if a super-intelligent mind lays down the entire plot, provides me all the herrings and ultimately lures me into a trap. The ends of the dreams are usually bone-chilling.
The mental impact of these dreams is tremendous, but strangely, they disappear very rapidly out of my memory ! It is for this reason that I cannot recollect many of my scariest dreams. However, today I will try narrating one.
I had this dream, where I was a marine biologist. I was studying the ocean waters - the variations in salinity and their impact on the marine eco-system. This seems so weird to me because I have never been interested in chemistry or environmental biology. I have never even seen a movie/novel which resembles that dream. But there I was - dressed in blue lab-coats, conducting experiments very seriously. The entire laboratory is positioned inside a small ship which is navigating the ocean.
Typical to my dreams, I do not see any faces of people. The faces are entirely vague and very fuzzy.
In this particular lab, I make good friends with my colleagues, and there is one person who is a best friend of mine. One day, both of us (him and me) dive together into the ocean to collect fresh samples of water. I cannot explain why but I feel very strongly that this person and me are extremely close friends.
Soon I become engrossed in the study of the samples, when my friend tells me we should get back into the glass chamber. The glass chamber is a huge room at the bottom of the ship, through which we get into the sea.
I swim into the chamber and look back to see how my friend is doing. But he doesn't swim in along with me.
Instead, he quickly shuts the door to the glass chamber with a bang ! I give him a puzzled look.
And he returns it with a cold stare. Other colleagues of my lab appear next to him - all dressed in diving-suits and some carrying underwater telescopes. All of them are observing me coldly.
I turn back, and then I see it - a white shark is swimming rapidly towards me.
[This entire laboratory and the underwater equipment was just a farce. They were actually studying the attack patterns of sharks. And I was used for this purpose.]
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Do you know that in French,
the word for library is "bibliotheque" (letter count = 12)
the word for wine is "vin" (letter count = 3)
the word for nude is "nu" (letter count = 2)
In computer science terminology, this is called Huffmann Coding. The words used most often will get the shortest-length code !
A propos, j'apprendre francais.
We had some 7 classes of instruction and sadly that's got finished. Now I am on my own to pick up some more decent communication skills before leaving to France in May. I wish I'm rather going to Spain or Italy, where people are known to be very effusive. Better chances of me picking up a girlfriend there :) But not so easy in the suave and the jingoistically-culturally-refined France. But this is the land of Guy de Maupassant (my favorite writer). And that of Pascal and Fourier. There's some sense behind that pride of those French people, after all.
With its sharp and precise sounds, English is the language of logic. With all its zest, Spanish is the language of emotions. And what about French ? It is the language of sweet love making. Every sound in this language is impossibly coquettish. (not surprisingly, the word coquette - il est un mot francais)
I am watching (in a loop) this movie - Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain (Amelie, for short). This film is so addictive - I have already begun to see the world in bright colours - bathed in yellows and greens, like how they show it in the film.
I have pretty much no hopes of finding a girl like Amelie in my life. Somebody who likes me not for my bank balance or for my market-standing. But who likes me, like Nino, for my maverickness ! Ahhh, life is a bitch and hope is its pimp :))
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Thursday, March 09, 2006
The following are snapshots of a plot that I had in mind for a long time. Written now lest I forget later. The title of the story would be Permission to Die (if I ever get to write it completely). I wrote the first chapter on this blog sometime ago. I never got to write the remaining chapters.
It is a crumpled piece of paper. Marks of blue ink are littered over the piece - showing words scribbled in a sense of urgency. But now, some of the words are smudged into blue swatches, owing to droplets of sweat trickling down the paper.
His mother clutches the paper tightly with her nails, and her hand goes limp. He looks into her empty and colorless face, and then looks up at the ceiling.
He looks at the nylon rope hanging down into a noose, and at the paralyzed body suspended in lifelessness. The body of his father.
At the age of twelve, Shiva begins life as an orphan. People say that his father commited suicide over financial burden. And that his mother died a few months later.
8 years later
This day, the small town clerical office is not its usual self. A tiny stereo player is plugged at the corner - playing music in full volume.
"What is this music ? ", Shiva asks.
"This should be a disc of my nephew. He came down for holidays. I do not know how it got mixed up with my stuff."
"Do you know who the artist is ?"
But the name is etched onto the disc. Bob Hansen - Crosswords.
"I am going to meet this man.", Shiva declares.
The colleague guffaws in reply. "But where would you raise the money to journey to the USA !"
3 years later
"This doesn't work any longer, Bob. These strange noises don't make sense any more. You owe this to us Bob. So buckle up your chords and do what you should do."
It has been three years since he had that conversation with the recording company. It still haunts him.
Rupert Hansen tries to steady himself. The stadium is roaring with the din of the crowd. They are in hysteria.
"We want more. Yeah, we want more."
Rupert flings the guitar around his neck and walks down the podium.
"Yes bitches. I am your whore. I am your whore forever."
7 years later
The bottle contains a colorless liquid. It emits no smell. A needle quickly sucks it up into a syringe.
Again the void appears.
Why doesn't he take that instead - which would put an end to everything. Poison.
He lost track of time now. He doesn't remember the time he had any food or any sleep. But he needs money. For this, he has to do that odd piece of work - for paying his rent. For bribing the cops. For getting what he needs.
He picks up his satchel and starts walking.
"Hey you ! You come here. You tramp ! What's your name ?"
He moves towards the cop who is beckoning towards him.
Because Rupert Hansen no longer exists.
The next day
"You are mistaken, Indian fellow. I don't play music."
"No. I know who you are. You are Bob Hansen."
"How do you know ? " Rupert jumps up in alert. "I'd rather die than play for you, shit. "
"Please. I just want you to play one single tune. "
Rupert picks up his guitar and strums on it violently.
"What do you want eh ? Bamboozled ? Midnight fever ? eh ? "
"No Bob. I want you to play one from Crosswords."
Rupert twitches. Then he picks up the guitar and starts playing. He starts playing with rank contempt. But he soon gets immersed. Then he plays with a vengeance. The air reverberates with rising crescendos. He plays for thirty minutes without break.
"Are you satisfied ? Now get the fuck out of here !"
Shiva doesn't stir. He then produces an ancient Shehnai from inside his bag.
"No. I want you to listen."
He draws air into his lungs and starts playing on the wind instrument. He reproduces the music exactly, copying note to note with matching tempo. Then he starts to improvize. He starts playing unexpected combinations. The music starts sounding totally new with very novel permutations. But magically, they all fall in place with the tune.
Bob stands there in a state of shock. He has never listened to anyone playing like this before. He has never imagined this music before, though he invented that tune years ago. Shiva completes the final crescendo.
"Now Bob you piece of shit ! You can fucking die !"
Then he leaves.
1 year later
"Mr. Bob Hansen, you are asking us to do the impossible. How can we trace a man in a country of one billion people, without a name and without a picture? But sure Sir, we will do everything that is possible."
"Thank you officer. "
Bob Hansen doesn't carry any hopes that he would rediscover the man that walked into his apartment last winter. But he knows that he can reach him.
Because wherever he is, that man would be listening - to what Bob Hansen plays.
There exists no lover, there exists no beloved. There exists no fan, there exists no favorite. All that a man needs to motivate him in life is a challenger. Without a challenge, life is worthless.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
A long time ago, in a neuron ensemble far far away.
It is a period of civil war. Rebel neurons, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Hypothalamic Empire.
During the battle, rebel neurons managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Thought, an armored psychological trauma with enough power to destroy an entire brain.
Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Idea races home aboard her electromagnetic pulse, the custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the entire Central Nervous System.
(Yeah I should go to sleep now :)) Lack of sleep is kinda like dope !)
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Once I believed in friends
And love and hope and wonder
Once I believed in dreams
Of magic sea and thunder
Until I met ennui
Until I knew The Vacant
There's nothing - It's just me
There's no one - I'm just me
Off to your clanking glasses
Off to your jarring laughs
Off you fleeting apparitions
You never will save me
And talking is a transaction
It's stupid to keep on trying
And life is but a game
But I don't feel like playing
There's a rhythm on the radio
Soft and old, undying
Yes, life is just this beat
You let it keep on playing
I come here to my wintry forest
Where death smiles and lies waiting
I see the ice, I see dark barrens
But the tune in my ear keeps ringing
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Rajan has tempted me to blog about this contentsutra post.
... From outsourced sweat shops to co-production deals, that's the way to go for Indian animation companies. India's animation talent cannot be underestimated. For instance, Walt Disney’s 2005 blockbuster Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was done out of India. It was executed by a 700-strong team in the Los Angeles and Mumbai offices of animation and visual effects studio Rhythm & Hues. ...
I am a computer graphics researcher and am very interested in the entertainment industry. I would even like to take a job in India but I haven't done so ! The reason ? I disagree to the fact that Indian animation industry has come of age.
This is a problem not just with the animation industry, but with the Indian industry in general. Most of the revenue that India earns through software is by offering services. In fact, major companies such as Infosys, TCS, Wipro etc. have hardly developed any products !
Sometime last year, I had the opportunity to ask a question to the very vice-presidents of TCS, Infosys, Satyam and Wipro themselves. This was during a seminar in ISB on the expected rates of growth for the Indian software industry.
"Sir, inspite of making huge dollar profits, your company doesn't develop any products. Why ? What problems do you face in building an image and marketing the product ? Why doesn't your company see this as a good source of earning revenue ?"
This question made them all uneasy. The VPs of Infosys and TCS mentioned the names of a few products that their companies built.
"But what is the percentage of revenue that these products are earning for your company ? What is the corresponding ratio for companies of similar size in the Silicon Valley ? "
At this point, the VP of Satyam was visibly angry. He beckoned me and said, "The conditions in Hyderabad and in the Silicon Valley are very different. They have good universities up there and they have a totally different mode of thinking."
Then I replied, "Sir, I belong to IIIT which is just next door. Our university is research oriented and we have good developers in our student community."
Then he said, "Yes, I know. Why don't you meet me in person and we can talk this over during lunch ?"
But I didn't/couldn't meet him during lunch :)
Even though none of the VPs admitted the reason to me, I knew it already. Indian companies are notorious for averting risks ! Developing a product has several inherent risks and invites ferocious competition on the global scale. Indian companies want to play it safe. In other words, they are chickened out ! I am not saying that chickening out is a bad thing, it surely has some merit from the perspective of the chicken. :))
So where am I ? Yeah, this is the same reason why I don't expect Indian animation companies to do anything wonderful on the global scale. These companies are too scared to take any risks and to develop any products (in this case, a movie or a videogame). During the inception and the development phases, they are wont do cut down costs, overwork the employees, use terrible/incapable managers and miss deadlines. No client is waiting for the work to get done, and thus nobody becomes accountable for the product ! After all, nobody has believed in the first place that the product would be any good anyway !
The first 3D animation movie to come out of India "Pandavas" was so bad - not only in artistic detail but also in script and animatics ! Though relesed years later (in terms of graphics, years = ages), this movie pales in comparison to the first 3D movie ever produced "Toy Story". Can we ever expect the magic of Disney such as "Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs" to come out of India ? Would anybody ever conceptualize a sequence such as the birds chirping and dancing, as snowwhite draws water from the well ?
In India, animation houses are equivalents of BPOs and sweatshops. They grow laterally rather than vertically. They accept too many work-assignments, and they overwork their employees. And their workplaces are too crampy with very little space per employee. (Not that it is a bad thing, they are solving the unemployment problem after all)
I have recently visited an animation house which also offers training to novices who want to get into the business. "Why don't you encourage short-movies from your employees/students so that they can send them to SIGGRAPH ? This will show good on their portfolio and will be good for your publicity." To this, the HR has replied "What is SIGGRAPH ?"
I have also recently visited a very good art school - the JNTU school of fine arts. I was trying to build a partnership with the art-students for my students in the computer graphics course. Such partnerships are commonplace in the USA but are virtually unheard of in India. The art students were super-cool and they were pretty interested in our ideas. But they were also clueless - "What is SIGGRAPH ? "
The major complaint that is heard from animation houses is that there is a lack of technical talent / motivation etc. in India. This sounds suspiciously close to what I heard from the VPs of Satyam, Infosys etc.
Rhythm & Hues is an exception to the rule. Firstly, their Los Angeles unit is extremely good. I have visited their LA quarters when I've been to SIGGRAPH in 2005.
I have observed some work-in-progress for "The Chronicles of Narnia" too ! R&H has a breezy workspace and an ultra-cool work culture. This will prove to be in stark contrast to my later experiences with Indian animation houses. Secondly, they truly trust their unit in Mumbai and are cheerleading it very much. Indeed, I am very happy that the Mumbai unit has participated in the production of the "Narnia". But personaly, the Narnia movie didn't please me much. I would be surprised if it wins the Academy award. The biggest killer in the movie is the sloppy editing - the VFX are pretty cool, though there are some lighting mismatches (bad cinematography). And also, the credits for this movie include ILM and Sony Imageworks along with R&H.
Some MNCs (such as Google, Oracle, Adobe and Microsoft) are doing product development in software at their Bangalore offices. But this is mostly in conjuction with the main team in the USA, similar to how R&H has executed the Narnia movie.
Do I see a time when an entire movie/videogame is conceptualized in India for a major production house and then receives world-wide acclaim ? Do I see a time when the art-schools incorporate a radically-upto-date syllabus ? Do I see a time when short-movies from India get accepted to the SIGGRAPH animation festival (France had 6 movies last year, and India had zero. Sounds like the Olympics ?) Do I see a time when Indian animation houses tend to attract & to keep really talented people ?
The answers to all the above questions are "No, not in the near future."