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The World as I see it

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Philosophy


I was never good at making sketches as a kid. I was even worse at coloring them. The colors would never stay within the bounds of the outline, would always mix in undesirable ways, and would simply never obey my command.

As I grew older, I realized that life is a canvas, not a blank one though, but outlined by various economic, social, political and other constraints. And this sketch can be colored in many different ways. So why not start coloring this mosaic with the colorful plate of vegetable mixed rice (aka namkeen chawal).

P.S.: Just discovered that cooking ‘real’ food can be a good way to color the relatively bland and monotonous last few months of a graduate student. You won’t be annoyed by a few pictures cropping up on your timeline every now and then, would you? 🙂

The Unending Game


Sea

As I stand on the sea-shore
With waves washing my feet
I drown into my pensive lanes
As I see them retreat

Million forms of the formless
And yet they are the same
Million colours of the colourless
Playing the same old game

Thousand waves that strike a day
Trying hard to gain some land
Endless efforts go in vain
Invincible stands the rule of sand

And then to roaring seas I ask
“What do you boast of all day
There is no song of glory to sing
You try in vain, the world does say”

Smiling at me the giant said
I seek no songs, no glories, no praise
All those are transient, they come and go
It is the joy that forever stays

Where is the joy you talk about
In this never ending game?
Never shall you gain an inch
The land shall forever be same

What do you think of the sand below
Lying beneath your innocent feet?
Weren’t they rocks, years ago
Smashed by the game of approach and retreat?

From rocks to stones to pebbles to sand
And all the snow in all the land
With stories untold, come to me
To loose themselves and merge with the grand

One day, to me, you too would come
As a part of this unending game
And so would everything under sun
But I shall still remain the same…

Sometimes…


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Sometimes you feel, the world is against you
Moments of joy are a countable few
Sometimes in the heart an anger awaits expression
But it waits too long, and comes out as depression
Sometimes your love, does not return the favour
Any attempt of bridging is but a failed endavour

Sometimes the night seems too long
Ways seem lost and thunders too strong
Sometimes in the mind, we house a fear
A fear whose voice only we can hear
Sometimes your rival overpowers you in war
And all you are left with is a deep burning scar

Sometimes in life you ask for a second try
But knowing there is none, you can only cry
Sometimes in life, you know you’re right
But the time’s too worse to showcase your might

Sometimes you watch victory pass by
Sometimes you see ambitions simply die
Sometimes you believe you can acheive success
Sometimes knowing that you still refuse to progress

Sometimes betrayed is your belief which persisted
You seem to be lost, secluded and cheated

Those are the times you must not loose your will
Move along, and never stand still
As repenting will only double your grief
Shatter the confidence, weaken your belief

But do slow down for a moment to ponder
Let free your mind, let it wonder
Where were you wrong, why do you suffer?
Why is it that life seems tougher?

Realise the problem, and think of a solution
Modify the way, multiply your devotion
Demistify your mind, and never look back
Sometimes do check if you are on the right track…

What is it that you call love?


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O Friend!

What is Emotion? What is Pain?
The Love, which you seemingly seek day and night,
O Companion! What is it that you call love?
Is it but only full of sufferings?
Is it but only tears of sorrow?
Is it nothing but ocean of grief?

Then why is it, may I know
People in joy, aspire for such a pain?

For me, all are joyous
All brand new, all pure and clean
The blue sky, the green forest
Joys and and sorrows, the bud and the flower…
All are like me…
They all sing, they all dance
It is among all the fun and frolic;
That they aspire to die.
They know no sorrow, neither tears
Nor do they ever try to tame the pain…

Flowers fall off smiling
Moonlight fades with a grin
And full of joy; do the stars
Immerse into the ocean of sky!

Who else is as happy as me?
Dearest friend come to me…
A joyous song of the happy heart
Through which, the soul merges with the one.

If you weep each day
Never will you meet the joy
Never will we forget the grief
And together will sing…

What is Emotion? What is Pain?
The Love, which you seemingly seek day and night,
O Companion! What is it that you call love?
Is it but only full of sufferings?
Is it but only tears of sorrow?
Is it nothing but ocean of grief?

*My attempt at translation of a wonderful song by Rabindranath Tagore.
Here is the original song

The Exam of Life


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Why are you so restless, my mind?

Is peace that you seek so difficult to find?

Why do you tumble through ups and downs?

Why do you care about the smiles and the frowns?

“Sir! Please! For my Children…” (Bhaiyya! Bachchon ke liye kuchh de do). These words awakened me from a nap, only to  see a pair of hands been spread out in hope of money. I raised my eyes to see a lady, very poorly dressed along with a child, maybe in his tens. I took out a rupee coin and gave it to her.

It was a lazy afternoon and waiting for a train on the platform made it even boring. And after a very busy Christmas, one requires a short nap for sure. But as my sleep was already broken, I decided to take a walk down the platform. Then I saw a bunch of coolies (the people who carry heavy luggage for people) discussing the recent India-Pakistan cricket match. They seemed to be enjoying the rare respite from the work they do.

The jolly mind of mine turned pensive. I was happily rejoicing the long awaited results (which stated that I was amongst the toppers of the class), the eagerly awaited holidays and the ever delicious home-made food (one of the two reasons I want to goto home – the other being sleep). But now I was filled with questions.

“Look at yourself, Arindam! What do you do? Feed yourself over a huge scholarship! And why did you get the silly scholarship? Because you cleared an exam. Does clearing an exam make you so eligible that you make your living virtually without efforts for the next 5 years of life? Where does the money of your scholarship come from? From the government. More precisely, the tax payers. That includes the coolies sitting there, the vegetable vendor who comes to your house daily, the auto driver who drove you to the station.”

Very true! It is eventually they who let me study throughout at subsidised rates. And for all these favours, what do they expect in return? Development. Why is it that the lady had to spread her arms in times of need? I believe that I still have something to do to make the people here proud.

The problem of the country starts only when the brighter lot of the country flees away from the responsibilities. If I use the advantages given by my people for my own benefit and luxury I would be a parasite, a cheater.

So what, if you were born in a dirty lake? If you run away from the lake into a cleaner one, the lake remains to be dirty. Why not clean the lake instead to make the lake realise its true true identity?

“Try to make others happy; happiness for you is born out of the happiness they get.”

Yes I topped my class and a handful of people congratulate me on that. But I await the day when I die – May the world congratulate me on succeeding a exam – the exam of life…

The Great Game of Chess


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“What do you do? I mean what do you physicists do? All you seem to be doing all day is reading books, reading research papers, (and more often) playing computer games, blogging and (most importantly) sleeping. Do you at all do anything?”

Well the question posed above; although in a satirical fashion is a genuine one. And whenever people ask them this question to anyone studying or doing physics, they receive a reply far beyond their understanding; as the answer is loaded with jargon far beyond a sane mind can grasp (that’s why we are called insane by the sanes). But let me try to put a pictorial view of the work we do in general.

According to me, we observe a game of chess – A great game of chess – (or any other game of your choice, but here I take chess as the example). This game is being played by nature, and we are both its pieces and the spectators. The aim of observation is to understand its rules as much as we can. “What’s so tough about it; go to a rule book…” they would say. But the trouble is you never have a rule book. In fact, it is the rule book that we are trying to compile.

Now here are some interesting features of the task we do

1. By mere observation, you may conclude about the allowed moves; but you can never say about what cannot be done. Just because a move was never played, can never mean that the move is not allowed. So when we see an unusual move on the board, this creates a commotion in the physics community (things like objects moving faster than light, the production of Higg’s boson – or the God Particle). And this is the time when many of our presumed rules get striped off and new rules are made.

2. What if we know a law to be true (to the greatest of beliefs)? We then try to see its implications. Or in simple terms, translate the strict and complex language of nature into a more lucid language so that they can be applied to the daily life. This is the phase of transforming the horrendous Maxwell’s Equations (sorry for the technicality – they are some ugly looking laws of light) into mobile communication, Thermodynamics (laws of heat) to automobile engine and Quantum Mechanics (the laws of small things) into Quantum Computers – computers which would be a million times faster than today’s machines (oh.. I am reminded of my soul mate).

Beyond all these, there is another greater aim of what we do.

Nature is wonderful. It is like a treasure or a mine. The more carefully you see it; the better are you able to appreciate all its secrets. Through physics we try to unearth all secrets of this beautiful place by the equipment of logic and reasoning. The pleasure it gives to dig out a single jewel from here is greater than anything that I can imagine in my highly inexperienced career. It is a joy that can truly never perish.

What do you picture the portrait of nature? Tell me if you like…

And Merry Christmas to you all…

Fear


fear

 

Deep down beneath the heart

The root; the cause which fails to depart

The reason evident, yet not so clear

Mind occupied and blocked with fear

What would happen if the secrets get revealed

Respect lost and wounds never healed

Or how will life change if I fail

Will I be able to follow back my trail?

The fear of loss, the fear of pain

The fear of distrust, which I refrain

Fear en-captivates the bird which sings

Shatters its dreams and slashes its wings

Introspection is the key to conquer this terror

It acts as a large, shining and polished mirror

Place in your heart or yet very near

And make fear feel, the fear of fear

Difficulties


Difficulties in your life do not come to destroy you, but to help you realise your hidden potential and power. Let difficulties know you are too difficult.

– Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

The Joy that will never Perish


Being born and brought up in Indian culture; the ideas of mythology always fascinated me. And browsing though ‘religious’ books, watching TV soaps and through general discussions, one thing was very clear to me – there is something called ‘moksha’ that was sort of ‘preached’ to us as our aim of life. It was presented in a way that this is what we live for; this is what we must strive to achieve. As I grew up meaning of the word, became clearer to me; and simultaneously did the question – Why Moksha – became more tempting to me.

Let me first tell you how is the concept portrayed to the general Indian. We were told that once we die, we are bound to be reborn in some other form. Death is nothing but the departure of the soul from the body. This soul enters another body to give birth to an individual. They say that in a lifetime body suffers through sorrows. And hence we must make efforts to free the soul from the birth cycle and gain never ending joy. This freedom is what is called moksha. How do we achieve moksha? By doing ‘good deeds’.

Somehow this idea did not fit into the scheme of my logic. Too abstract for my appetite. I had to find out what does this actually boil down so that a person as crazy as me can digest. And hence sat a group of philosophical lunatics of the hostel to materialise the abstract. And that discussion – which ended at 3 am that night – added a dimension to look at life.

“Turns out that it is true that in a lifetime, we come across many sorrows; moments of shattered hopes and grave depression. But no one can deny the fact that life gives moments of joy, excitement, fun, love, peace and satisfaction. So the argument of the orthodox that life is full of sorrows stands on shaky grounds. The concept of rebirth is speculative. If I do not know whether or not I would ever be reborn, why should I care about what is going to happen in the next birth?”

OK, I get your point, but if I don’t care about what is going to happen after I die, what do I care about? Umm…of course my present life. So what does a person seek in life? Well surely… not money as it is only an agent…”

“Agent to do what? Buy… buy what? Happiness… Yes got it! We seek happiness. Or things which make us happy. Like we seek money to buy things of luxury; we seek fame as someone praising us makes us happy. We seek to listen to songs, go for outing; and that makes us happy. Gotcha!”

“But I you look carefully, there is one cause of all happiness – Realisation – you earn money; buy an air conditioner to realise what it feels like to be in an air-conditioned room. You go to Kashmir to realise what it feels like to be in a paradise. You seek beautiful places to realise that such masterpieces exist in nature. What is the greatest realisation? What is it that gives you unbound joy?”

“To know something is truly a joy forever. To discover how mysteries of nature unfold is what gives joy whenever we think of it. If the smallest of discoveries like how to make a pebble bounce on water, how to climb a tree and how to plant a sapling can give us unparalleled joy, how joyous would be the moment when we know why the nature is the way it is?

The magical words had been spelled. The answer was there for the taking. To have a complete knowledge of how nature works is what I believe  Moksha is supposed to mean. Moksha is freedom in true sense. Freedom from all sorrows because if you know nature, you would be able to realise that all the materialistic sorrows have to perish and all materialistic joy has to end. What will sustain is the eternal joy – the joy of knowing everything…

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