28 October, 2006

The grass was never so green

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Yes, for the last three days, I finish my bath and washing in 20 minutes flat (give or take 5). Cant help it. Its that chill. What with the rains in Chennai.
The never ending rains.
Almost like Kerala. Only thing, there it was much more clean. So you don’t have to watch your step, or fear sores on your feet.
Anyways, and the bath, instead of the singing, I find myself indulging occasionally in self pity. And it was the same thing yesterday, when suddenly, I had this thought, “atleast its not like last year”
Last year
Armed with the youthfull frenzy of determination that says, you can take anything hurled at you, I arrived Bangalore on the 1st of December, of all times to reach Bangalore. And within a week, having a job to call my own, and a room, again of my own, to lay the head, and as much money I could get my sweet mom to lend me, I find, that’s where the joys ended.
Sweater, shawl, socks, even in multiples cumulatively wouldn’t help. Used to shiver at 12 in the afternoon. Don’t even ask how it was to have to wake up in the early hours of the morning (hours Iv never before seen, like 5 am). And having to wander outside in the biting cold, because, Iv never learnt the art of sitting in one place and waiting for a cab.
Bathing was the most horrible. Freezing, the water was. And no heater, we weren’t allowed that in the room.. So Id open the shower, let it run, and stand a foot away from it. First stretch out one arm, letting the fingertips digest the obvious fact that it was cold. Then let the water sprinkle onto the body. It would be atleast five minutes of this experiment before I would venture into the cold.
Today, I have the luxury of bathing in hot water, I don’t need more than a sheet to keep the cold away and Im happy.
Yes, things only get better. Only thing, we are too myopic to compare our today with our yesterday. We use all the wrong parameters to compare. And then blame God

21 October, 2006

A call to arms against arms

Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too
Imagine all the people, living life in peace.
You may say Im a dreamer, but Im not the only one
And the world will live as one
(Imagine- John Lennon)

O come to think of it. Do we need to have all the 200 countries that we have in the world right now? Did we really have to memorise the names of their capitals in school. Or lets ask, what exactly is the need for the Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland to be separate dominions. I’ve just done a wiki on it for you.

It seems that there were 5 countries, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and the Faroe Islands, whose tumultuous evolution through the centuries, saw the formation and disbanding of several unions, which obviously called for wars, and deaths, finally ending up as five sovereign states, four of them now under another umbrella, the EU.

Which prompts one to ask, why? Why did they have to have a distinct name, be a country of its own, have a constitution to follow, of its own? Why did countries that had everything else in common, have different kings, or now, rulers. Have armies, have wars and weapons-when the only threat to their existence could come from themselves- just because they have distinct, though mutually intelligible, language, and a set of power crazy monarch’s?

When God created us ages ago, he gave us whatever we needed. Much more space than we could ever need, food to eat, water to quench our thirst, companions to have fun with, and brains, along with the essential brawns, to protect ourselves.
We went a step ahead. We used the eyes God gave us to check on our brother. And he seemed to be having more vegetables, more clean water, more companions and more space. And we started to become paranoid. We started to second guess his every motive.

We began to worry of having to be less than equals. So we took the offensive. We tried to bring him to the ground before he had the chance to make us bend. And we are playing the same game even now. Getting him before he gets us.

After the Second World War, the Americans, under President Eisenhower, developed a national policy known as ‘domino theory’, to counter the spread of communism during the cold war era. The domino effect indicates that some change, small in itself, will cause a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence, by analogy to a falling row of dominoes standing on end.

Going by the theory, any country was bound to be influenced by the happenings around it, and would try to replicate the neighbours achievements, because, power meant power, and having the power meant warning everyone else by displaying it, and telling your subjects to fear not.

So India tested the bomb, because, well, what else do you do with a scientific experiment, but see if it works. (Let’s not have another debate on its neccessity here) And Pakistan had to go nuclear. Was that the president’s personal agenda. No. It was for national pride. And remember, even they’re entitled to some of it.

North Korea couldn’t resist testing its weapons. Who would take being branded as the axis of evil lying down. So again, pride, national pride, takes precedence over priority needs like poverty and hunger. And more countries will follow. There’ll be wars, and more wars. Once the marbles start rolling, there’s no stopping it. More countries will join in. Because in a world infested with nuclear weapons, you cant afford to be non-aligned.

But where did it start. Where the monarch of one country decided that what he had was not enough and decided to annex its neighbour to its territory, and make its subjects follow a culture new to them. Did we hear any of his advisors ask, why bother. Well, WHY BOTHER?
What good to us is it if some one else, living in a land, separated from us by loads of brine or wasteland, lived as he pleased. Even worse, what good would it do to us if we subjected him to our control. No, we had reasons. Greedy reasons. Take the latest. Oil!

Do we need armies? Why did we have armies in the first place? Think about the millitants in Kashmir, or for that matter, any of the so called terrorists. Does it really matter who rules the Kashmiri’s. Does it matter who they pay their taxes to. After all, taxes are there to stay, and the rulers are deigned to be polliticians from time immemorable..

No, it doesn’t matter who rules us. It doesn’t even matter which national anthem we sing, or which flag we salute. We don’t need demarcations, period.

You may say Im a dreamer, But Im not the only one.
I dream of a world in which a national flag is much more an identity on a playground and not on our modern day battlefields.
Im sure Im not the only one

06 October, 2006

Simple Math

I believe in delivering on promises. In this case, to publicise a book. Well, I wouldve done it anyway. the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, by mark haddon (reincarnation of e.e.cummins, is he? not to use capital letters.
No, Im not going to review the book. For one, I still havent even reached half way. two, its the few things in life that i consider wierder than myself (imagine a book with a dog that looks like it's suspended upside down from the title on the cover or one which starts with chapter 2. fortunately the page number stood to confirm the start of the book). lastly, Im sure my word is taken for granted, without having to go to details.
Nevertheless, a sentence before we move on. Its the ultimate lesson in creative writing, and a wonderfull read. Now, Im not saying you would be any poorer for not reading the book. But then, most books dont justify mention under that category. Its very rarely that a book is written as though it is the only one ever. Where the author assumes a pedestal and is not hitched by anything around him. I think "the God of Small Things" falls in that category. So does "The Alchemist".
Its the simple practicality of a boy who goes to a special needs school, and follows logic to the hilt that commands our regard.
And there is this part in the book where someone throws him a random numerical problem, a multiplication of two three digits and he thinks the answer and gives out the answer. He also explains how he arrived at the answer simply by thinking it out.
Well, that brought memories of how I could simply shout out math answers in class, and be held in awe by all and sundry, whereas the working out werent much more complicated than saying that seven times nine is sixty three.
There used to be this theorem I formulated, with much hopes of 'contributing to the science of mathematics', till I found out that it was just a rendering of the basic algebraic equation, (a+b)(a-b)=a^2-b^2 , thats 'a squared'.
Take this sum, lets say, 93 times 107, for simplicity. What we do is convert these numbers such that they are expressed the difference of two well known squares. So taking a as 100, and b as 7, we get (100-7)(100+7), which, to satisfy the equation, has to be 100^2 - 7^2, which is relatively simple, 10000 and 63.
Therefore, 93*107 is 9937 (10000-63). As simple as that.
Now it becomes so easy only when the middle number, the average of the two numbers to be multiplied, 100, in this case, is a multiple of 10 or atleast has an easily arrivable square. What if the two numbers are 33 and 52, the average of which is not even a whole number. Then we try the second method.
This can also be condensed to another algebraic equation, though the pure logic is enough and more of proof. (a+b)(c)=a*c+b*c. We split the sum into two parts, and find the value of 33 times 50 and 33 times 2 separately and add the two.
33 times 50 is half of 33 times hundred,3300/2, or 1650. and 33 times 2 is simple, 66. The two added gives 1716.
Now things could get even further complicated. In case of three digit numbers, where you may have to do sequences of these calculations. Even there the method holds. Though it would call for more involvement and concentration in the problem.
Ah! I forgot to tell you. It calls for two traits. one is simply a brain to which numbers seem numbers and not latin or greek, as the phrase goes. Remember youll have to keep all the numbers in your head. And numbers are as fickle as, well, Im lost for words, but I still wont use 'women'.You lose them from your head unless you have a way of seeing them as objects much more vibrant than digits, like two fat ladies (for 88) or a man leaning on a stick (for 19). But even more important is concentration. After all, you dont have paper to write the steps on. If you had paper we all know much easier ways of doing calculations, though they rarely are applauded.

The first somehow, by the grace of God, I have. the second, by whom i dont know, i lost or never had. Therefore, usually the tendency is to laugh off such situations, unless of course, the stakes are that high.
Which brings me to the conclusion. I feel that most people are gifted witha scientific brain. The ability to use the head to get beneath most problems through logic. But some of us, and Im pointing the blessed finger at myself, refrain from utilising the gift. We feign indifference to all the inventions, the theories etc. that were developed around us. For a lot of us, it could be inexposure to the beauty of the whole thing. For many others, it is simply laziness. So we end up in alternate proffesions. Good. What would we have done if we didnt have craftsmen, lawyers, painters, writers and all. But think again, are they under achievers. No, Im not taking sides, just posing an argument.
I think we can frame a statement like this. You can decide to do whatever you want to in life. But never be an under-achiever because you aimed too near.
Our gifts are for a purpose. And Im sure the giver intended us to utilise the gift. And who knows if He will classify it under sin, if we arent faithfull in the least!