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The World as I see it

Author

Arindam Saha

Rejoicing the joys of life! Theoretical Physics Researcher at the University of Sheffield. Adoring the beauty, wonders, and structure of the universe.

Arise! Awake!


Arise! Awake! And stop not till the goal is reached!

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उत्तिष्ठत जाग्रत प्राप्य वरान्निबोधत |

A part of a verse from Katha-Upnishad. Translated and popularised by youth icon Swami Vivekananda. Belated National Youth Day to all Indians.

On the Dutch Dining Table


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A spoon, a fork and a knife; and a large chunk of chicken leg piece on the plate. And just besides that, a person utterly confused about what to do with the silverware. Never ever in his wildest of dreams had he imagined that one could use any of those to eat chicken. Why can’t I eat with with my bare hands? What’s more? A bowl of red chili powder on the table and the person not pouring it all into his food just for the sake of humility. Why? Because the person besides the table is an Indian (that’s me) and as per his standards that chili powder isn’t hot at all. Really… Believe me, I added 4-5 teaspoons of it in my food and the the taste didn’t change at all.

Enjoy!”, said the Dutch friend sitting opposite to me. “Enjoy!”, I reciprocated. “So, how do you say ‘Enjoy’ in…”, the Dutch paused and pondered for a couple of seconds and continued “’Enjoy!’ in INDIAN?”. I corrected, “You mean Hindi?”. “Oh ya… ya… in Hindi”, he smiled. This seemed to be a trivial question for my friend to ask but it was one of the most difficult questions ever asked. “Do we ever say such a thing in Hindi?”, I thought. But in a desperate search of answers gave it my best try, “Shuru kiya jaaye…”. “Shu-ru khi-yaa jhaa-ye?”. “Yup! That’s right”, I smiled. Now my Indian friends may suggest the possible better versions of the response, but you would have to admit; given the fraction of second I had, that was a good try.

I spent about two months in Netherlands and realised one thing for sure. If I ever get an opportunity to teach them something, I would definitely go for cooking. Whenever I added a ‘chhaunk’ to daal (pulses) in the kitchen out there it was the most amazing thing they had ever seen in life. The shrilling noise of the process and the aromatic fumes which which brings smiles to the faces of us Indians, brought tears in their eyes and concern on their faces. “That thing which you did there… Isn’t that hazardous?” “Nope! We do it all the time”. I tried to be convincing and reassuring but still the expressions on the faces could almost be heard out loud, “I am telling you dude! You will kill us someday.”

My visit to Netherlands made me realise one undeniable fact. We live in one of the most ‘complicated’ countries of the world… A large, weird, diverse, colourful, confused and complicated country. The look on the face of the people around you when come to know of the population of the cities… when they come to know that we have 18 official languages, hundreds of dialects and still no national language… when they come to know that it takes almost 3 days to cross the country… THAT expression on their faces makes us truly realise the great identity of the nation we live in… It gives you the true feeling of being an Indian… A feeling which we generally overlook.

I realised for the first time that we live in a ‘diamond’ shaped country. A country with the largest populations of followers of (at least) 5 different religions, with almost all possible geographical terrains and probably the most number of festivals. No surprises that we live in a diamond shaped country… No surprise we live in India.

P.S. –

1. The meal which I was talking about earlier… I took 2 hours to eat the meal. And then I realised the true meaning of the saying, “Apnaa haath Jagannath” 😛

2. I also realised how complicated our mythology is. An interested friend asked me to explain the gist of the story Bhagwad Gita… And I had a tough time explaining why we worship a man who persuaded his friend to go for war against his own kin. After all the gods are supposed to be peace loving. Isn’t it?

The Silent Spectator


Living in a sea of dust is an experience in itself. An experience which does not befriend many. And oddly enough the experience is not one that I hate. Living within 50 meters of three JCB’s (showing their extraordinary acrobatic skills), two construction cranes and hundreds of striking hammers is actually thrilling – to say the least. After all, who won’t inhale a ‘bit’ of dust for all the excitement?

Anyways… the fact of the matter is that at the moment, the sea of dust has calmed down. The JCB’s are resting cuddled up in the blanket of this dark night, and the hundred pairs of hands are in their dreamland, carving aspirations of their uncertain future. And I am staring at the top right corner of my laptop which shows 12:15 AM. So all of you those who are, or have been in hostels, a hearty good evening to them. The same goes for all the students in their late teens, inseperable lovers and other nocturnal beings. To the others, sorry for disturbing your midnight sleep.

And what am I actually doing in this sleepy world? Well, one of the most favorite tasks of mine – doing nothing. Really… absolutely nothing. And believe me, this is one of the busiest things in this world. To think nothing at all. Just observe. Be a silent spectator to this silent world which ironically is bubbling with chaos and commotion. Don’t believe me? Okay then…

Think of the security guard strolling around in the hostel. Eyes begging for sleep; mind cursing a moron whose constant stare doesn’t let his eyelids come closer. But is he desperate for a sleep? Nah… Proof? A boy does up to him and asks, “Ki dada? Kemon cholchhe?” (What’s up bro?) and there starts the conversation. Five minutes later, Indian politics becomes the hot topic on the table which a moment ago rested a dozing soul. That person is not really sleepy. He is starving. Starving for company… Battling against boredom in this chilly night.

Nights are subtle, shrewd, mysterious, lonely things. In its embrace lies only silence. But silence has a language of its own. It speaks. It speaks through fear – in the eyes of a girl trapped on a lonely road, trying to get back home. It speaks through tears – in the memory of a long lost love. It speaks through thoughts – in the focused vision of the visionary. It speaks through dreams – to achieve the un-achieved. It speaks through joy – of the ecstatic achievements of the day. It speaks through hopes – of a brighter tomorrow which we may just witness.

A night has a long silent story to tell. And you too can listen to it. All you have to do is be be silent and listen… All you have to be is the silent spectator.

Inspired by The Outsiders

Guest Post: And Fly Away To Touch The Sky!!


Please put your hands together to welcome one of my very special friends and the guest of the morning (or evening or any other time of the day :P) Neeli. I am really humbled that she agreed to write on the prompt I gave her. It is nothing but the magic of words which can transform a very ordinary looking phrase into a heart touching story. And this post truly vindicates the fact. I am honoured to have her as a guest.

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 “I’m not good in studies, I’m not good looking, I don’t have good friends, I cannot talk to anyone like my friends, ‘m not updated about world and technologies, people are more intelligent than me, nobody likes me, every single guy is ready to become boyfriend when I get a little friendly with him, my friends ask me to come out of self-confinement, I’m not good in making contacts with others, I have no confidence to talk to anyone…”, as she poured her heart out in one phone call, her elder sister could only listen in amazement. Not that her sister was unaware of her condition; she had already spoken and consoled this lil kid, but that day… patience had reached its limit and everything spilled out in front of her. Her sister was ashamed; she was dejected with her own self. Why couldn’t she speak to her own blood all these days? Busy consoling her own friends and others, how she forgot her own sister? Who was at fault? How could she ignore her own sister and leave her all alone?

While I’m struggling to find suitable words to define that beautiful soul, she must be in her sleep, wandering in her dream world! A girl with a cute smile, those beautiful eyes bearing the burden of half frame specs since quite some time, that mesmerizing voice, which barely reached its high pitch. A mind which is always indulged in chemical thought process!! She’s not the only child of her parents; she bears the wrath and love of her elder sister and manages to handle the naughtiness of a younger brother!! Her parents never discriminated between any of their children. Equality in terms of everything was given to all three of them. But a girl, who was a chatterbox during her childhood, turned into a silent girl with growing age. The most beautiful and pretty among all three kids, she grew with grace. As this silent girl grew up silently, nobody realized when she became a refined girl. For her family she was still that pretty little girl, with two ponies and kajal (kohl) in her beautiful eyes happily going to school. She is a very good cook who keeps experimenting new stuffs at home, possesses good drawing skills, has beautiful soft voice and looks great when you shower your love and pull her chubby cheeks. And when you find her doing something unusual and point it out… she’ll blush… and believe me that makes her look even more amazing!

It is said that only daughters can understand their parents and help them when it is not even anticipated from them. And she was not an exception. She helped her father financially when her elder sister was due for her MBA admission in a prestigious and expensive college. The university and course fees was too much for her father to pay at a stretch and that too at the moment when both of his daughters were supposed to go for their higher education. She was in a dilemma for her career options and when she finalized a course, she made all efforts come true to get admission in country’s most prestigious central university where the annual course fee was less than her sister’s three month’s pocket money. While her sister went off to pursue her career to a different city, she stayed in the prestigious university in her hometown.

Wheels of time turned and history repeated itself. This time it was her brother and she, who were supposed to go for their higher studies at the same time. As her brother went down to southern part of country, she was left alone with her mother… but this time the scenario was little different, her friends too had left the place and university and settled outside for higher education.

Loneliness started consuming her. She had no friends around to share her emotions; no one that she could look up to. And slowly loneliness turned into frustration. Witnessing her friends and own siblings going out and excelling were disturbing for her. And adding fuel to fire was her friends coming home during vacation and evoking anger and frustration in her with hollow descriptions of their life style and achievements outside. It worked like a slow poison for her and she started reacting to it in front of her parents by blaming them for not sending her out for studies and confining her in their shelter. The girl, who rarely used to get angry, started reacting to every single stuff. Hard times at both fronts- personal and career, made her go crazy, but she still kept her head above water. Every time she made efforts to move out or she spoke about it to her parents, something or other ruined her plans and she was left to cry alone. She wanted to go out and see world like her siblings and so-called friends. She craved to travel alone like her siblings and friends with confidence, to become demanded among friends, to be talk of the town in positive sense, to walk the ramp of life with full confidence, knowledge and grace. Declining self-confidence, lack of self-motivation, self-comparison with every tom-dick and harry and jealously started occupying her mind and body.

This true story is about my lil sister- T; who helped my dad in her own ways so that he can spend on my and my brother’s education. I’m obliged to her in every sense. She’s the best sister we could ever have. This little silent girl has many stories in her heart to which she doesn’t breathe a word to us. She keeps taking whatever life throws at her. I sometimes feel bad that she could not manage to go out for her studies or any other stuff. Blame it her destiny or my parents… it never happened. Yes, I do understand and try making T understand as well that just by going out for studies doesn’t make any big difference when you are getting best of education in your own city. But still… kids are kids. She wants to go out, witness new stuffs, people, explore life, learn new things, meet lots of people, be confident, present herself to world, shoo away stage fear, make good contacts… but somehow she’s failing to do all these.

touch_the_sky___jump_48_of_100_by_escaped_emotions-d4kpt62I tried my level best to listen her that day, consoled her but all in vain; she was totally disappointed, demotivated, no argument of mine helped heal her injured heart. I must say that she’s brave enough to tolerate this aloofness all these days. It’s time for her now to come out of her gloominess and see the life with new spectacles. She has to… and I’ve promised her as well as to myself that very soon she will be again that lovely, charming, confident girl once she used to be… I want my baby to grow and be bold… She already is, in her own way. She behaves very maturely in cases where I behave childish.

Anybody can fall in love with her. She’s the most beautiful and pretty among three of us… beautiful by personality, beautiful by heart! I really wish her to touch heights of success, to be very strong and successful in all spheres of life, to achieve whatever she wants to… I love both my kids T & D whom my parents have given me and I really want them to fly away to touch the sky…

May god bless them…

Love you T, D, Maa & Papa…

Neeli….

Glow in Your own Flame


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This is the translation of an inspirational part from an inspirational Bengali song… Ekla Cholo Re… 

O Unfortunate one! If they don’t hold up the flame
If in the thunderous and rainy night, all doors close
Then burn your heart and
Glow in your own flame…

Original Part in Bengali

যদি আলো না ধরে, ওরে ওরে ও অভাগা,
যদি ঝড়-বাদলে আঁধার রাতে দুয়ার দেয় ঘরে-
তবে বজ্রানলে
আপন বুকের পাঁজর জ্বালিয়ে নিয়ে একলা জ্বলো রে।।

Transliteration

Jodi aalo naa dhore, ore ore o abhaagaa, aalo na dhore
Jodi jhor-baadole aadhaara raate duyaar deye ghore-
Tobe bajraanole
aapon buker paajor jaaliye niye ekalaa jolo re

Follow me…


follow

Don’t follow what I do, but follow what I say…

Because

If you follow what I do, you will only reach as high as me…

And not higher than me.

One of the most beloved piece of advice by my father

Imperishable it is


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न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
नायं भूत्वा न भविता वा न भूय:।
अजो नित्य​: शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे॥

Transliteration

na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

Translation

Neither is it ever born, nor does it ever die
Neither is it recreated as body is born
Birthless, eternal, unaltering, timeless it is
Imperishable it is in the perishable body.

Needless to say, it is the soul which is being talked about here. I sometimes wonder what do they mean by soul? How is it imperishable. The reason I love this shloka (and Gita in general) is that it leaves a scope open for thought and interpretation. I feel that it is the law of nature which is the soul. Unaltered, unborn, unchanging. It manifests itself as everything that surrounds us. And unaffected by the death and birth of the bodies, it persists as the imperishable. The bodies come and go just leaving a mark on the evolution of universe.

Through the Eyes of a Soldier of Science


Millions – if not billions – of eyes followed the spacecraft as it slowly disappeared to its distant mission to the red planet. It was the 5th of November when PSLV – C25 launched off carrying the completely indigenous ‘Mangalyan’ capsule on an year long voyage to mars. The ever faithful comrade of ISRO – the PSLV series of launch vehicles – successfully maintained its 100 percent success record. As the small capsule leaped forward into the space, India reiterated its presence in the scientific community by becoming the nation to launch a martian mission at one-tenth of the cost of an equivalent US mission.

And today, 60 days after the launch a humble traveler in the path of science introspects on the position of his country in the scientific arena. His country! A country too colourful; a country too diverse; the birthplace of the oldest religion of the world; a country that proudly shelters more than 18 languages; a country that boasts of its festivals and culture. He greets you from Bharat, Bharatvarsha, Aryavarta, Hindustan. He  greets you from India.

As a billion souls felt their chests broaden after the launch, a few eyebrows were also raised. The questions were not new; but they were relevant. The writer’s country is not only a country brimming with culture and diversity; it is also a country where more than one-fifth of stomachs sleep fighting hunger; its also a place where thousands of children find themselves in tea stalls and not schools; it’s also a country where hospitals are a luxury for some. And the question that was very evident after the mission was this –

Should a country of more than 400 million poverty stricken souls spend 73 million dollars (450 crore rupees) on a mission which may or may not yield a major breakthrough?

Well yes we have a large population under the poverty line. And it may seem to be a sheer muscle flexing act by India to send off a mission to mars and not divert the money to the upliftment of the poor. But is this expenditure really a waste? Well for one thing; out economy was growing at a fast pace when the western world was facing a global slowdown. So we do have money to sustain ourselves. Additionally, even if the mission does not provide something amazingly new, I guess it is an achievement in itself to launch such a cheap mission. This gives the outside world a faith in India’s technology. This attracts may other nations to trust India as a cheap and efficient client to launch their satellites and other space missions. This is one of the immediate returns of the investment.

On the broader perspective, this mission or any other scientific success has a much larger impact. To reduce the economic disparity of the nation, it is essential that the youth gets educated. The question arises why are they not getting educated? In today’s India, most of the citizens appreciate the importance of education. The problem arises because there are not many teachers in the country. Same goes for the health sector – there are hospitals, but doctors are nowhere to be found. And believe me it is these small success stories which create teachers and doctors. It is these scientific stories which inspire the children to take up science; pursue higher education, and be the future scientists, doctors, professors and teachers. So the investment in Mangalyan may seem to be a huge in the short term; but the long term returns of missions like these are things which cannot be simply measured in monetary terms.

At this moment I also feel a lot of responsibility on my soldiers. As a student of science in India, I realise that we as a nation have a long way to go before we come up to the front line of the scientific race. I also know the level of competition in the top-notch institutes of India. I have faced it . And I have survived. But now I feel there are millions of eyes staring at me in expectation. There are thousands who deserved to get through but couldn’t. There is something that really needs to be done. If India; a country of 1.2 billion has produces just 4 Nobel laureates (India born foreign citizens excluded); there is something seriously wrong. When 4 other India born foreign citizens receive the same prize; there is something to ponder about. Why did these people need to become foreign citizens before they could get the Nobel?

When someone addresses us as the cream of the cream (or crème de la crème) of Indian education system, it definitely fill us with pride. But more than pride, it fill us with a sense of responsibility. The cream of the cream should not fail. The cream of the cream cannot afford to fail.

It is said that C. V. Raman cried as he received the Nobel prize; as he was standing under the Union Jack as he got the prize. Although aspiring for a Nobel would be highly over-ambitious for me, I can guarantee the soul of Dr. Raman that if such a day comes, it would be an Indian standing under the Indian tricolour.

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Before I end this rather long speech of mine, I would like to make two announcements. Firstly, a friend of mine, Harshda Mangal has participated in a story writing competition. So you members of the Facebook community, please read the story and vote for it if you like. Here is the link. The voting lines close tomorrow. So please hurry up! Please use a PC or a laptop to vote as voting by mobile has some issues. (You might ask why didn’t I participate. Two reasons. One, I don’t have a Facebook account. And two, I don’t write stories).

Secondly, From tomorrow I am thinking of starting a series of daily posts on sharing of the quotes said by some of the brilliant people on the planet. I hope you would enjoy them.

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So I come again tomorrow. Till then,

Goodbye, Namaste, Nomoshkar, Sat-sri akal, Khuda Hafiz, Jai Sri Krishna.

And Bon Voyage to Mars Orbitor Mission (Mangalyan)

Existence in Void


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Listen O you! the worshiper of almighty

The admirer of lord, the supreme deity

You admire the lord the master of the living

The great, the mighty, peaceful and forgiving

The creator of of worlds – the heavens and hell

And the wonderful earth on which we dwell

He created love, and peace and affection

He created gratitude, humility and devotion.

But O the Admirer, please ask your lord

If everything around is his accord

Then why are there sorrows and tears and pain?

Why is the world ruthless, uncaring and insane?

Why is there anger and deceit and sin?

Why does a person fight his own kin?

Why are there earthquakes and droughts and flood?

Why is there terror, stained in blood?

O seeker, the inquisitive, intelligent and wise

Take a greater view and you shall realise

That joys of achievement, satisfaction and gain

And tears of sorrow, misery and pain

Are all just ways and means to find

A joy ecstatic, and peace of mind

The will to live stems from fears

Smiles are cherished by those who have tears

We do unite in times of despair

And realise the common bond we share

That feelings of affection and hatred exist

Are reasons that we still persist

So cherish the tears which you try to avoid

As they are the reason for your existence in void…

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