The road goes ever on and on

Well, I’m back.

That’s how Lord of the Rings ends. I was fascinated as a 12 year old at the whole experience that was Lord of the Rings. I read up on the history, the society, and all the other things Tolkien left us to ogle about. I could have greeted you in Sindarin and Quenya, and spoken quite a bit in the languages. Strangely, without use, those skills have withered.

That was when life was still full of choices. Hopes and options were abound. That was Shire. And then all of a sudden, I now find myself in an adventure that I didn’t want to be a part of. I have no idea where I am going. But, after a little relaxation in Lothlorien, I am back.

I hope to have a similar ending.

Arts and Persecution

India has been a paragon in the field of Arts Persecution for the last century or so. Never before in the history of the subcontinent have more books been banned, more paintings condemned, more egos ruffled in the name of ‘getting offended’. Pretty sure the Khajuraho sculptures would one day be destroyed when someone’s morality is outraged. Ah, freedom of expression!

 LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
- Preamble to the Constitution of India

The recent ‘ban on Pakistani actors’ comes as no surprise. We hardly ever leave our own (looking at M. F. Husain and Salman Rushdie here); how can we not do the same to our beloved neighbours? It’s only a little subcontinental love of banning things, no?

Today morning, I heard Om Puri shout “As if that’s gonna solve the problem!” A lone voice of sanity in a sea of blood curdling shout-a-thon.

“Go to War” I am sorry, man. I don’t think it’d be you taking up arms against men using terror to try to get things done for themselves. “Ban the Artists!” they said. “How can we enjoy their music when our soldiers are fighting them?”

Them? The artists? Atif Aslam was a terrorist? Wasim Akram is a general shrieking for blood? Or are you talking about a poor farmer in Sindh who draws his water from the Indus? According to men in India, such men who perform Surya Pujan and recite the Hanuman Chalisa twenty times a day, such holy and divine men of honor, all Pakistanis are terrorists.

I think we ought to create another artificial island and send such holy men to live there. Along with Donald Trump. They could make the Great Wall of Stupidity and live there with impunity for the rest of their lives. Or we could watch as they burn themselves, as they inevitably will.

If only MNS could take up real issues, like the Maratha Reservation marches, or the irrigation of Marathwada, could they justify their existence on the face of this planet. But instead, they vent their anger at mute Toll booths, hapless auto-drivers, and now awkwardly placed actors. Sure, I know Raj Thackeray is jealous of Fawad Khan’s looks, who is not (he is surely a handsome devil), but you can’t take out your frustration of not getting the right genes on an entire community, who are only handful in Mumbai!

Banning stuff doesn’t help. You can’t ban Ebola. You can’t ban Encephalitis. You can’t ban terrorism by banning artists here to do their trade! Do they not have a visa? Are they not human beings? Then why are we talking about ‘banning’ them?

Banning stuff doesn’t help.

Such arguments are baseless, as I have clearly shown. No, it doesn’t ‘isolate Pakistan’. They have a multi-billion dollar trade with China, multi-billion dollar military and financial aid from the US. We lose out on the Pakistan market. It’s bad for business if they are ‘isolated’ from the world. Like seriously, people, if you’d only read history instead of dozing off in your middle school, you’d know what I am writing about. It’s childish to imagine helping our government like that. Only governments can put diplomatic pressure on each other. We can’t. It’s stupid to imagine otherwise and treat a fellow human being from another country as an outright criminal just because our governments can’t agree on treaties.

Arts and Sciences form the bedrock of human civilization. In no circumstances should they be stopped. The last time they were persecuted in India, it was the dark ages for our ancient land. But since we are bent with all our fury to call back the Dark Ages to India, let’s all persecute art by any other artists other than Indians. Not just Pakistani artists, we should ban everyone! That should provide plenty of opportunities for us to shine!

We should ban everyone, because not doing so would be fundamentally unfair. And come on, are we ever unfair?

No. We are the paragon of fairness. We aren’t Incredible India! We are Fair & Lovely India.

 

Homomorphisms of Peace

There are lots of limitations in life. For some people, it’s their genes. Genetics, which is to say nature’s random gambling joint, has handed them lemons, without a glass to make a lemonade. We are, after all, a function of our genes expressed through the right environmental conditions. The same genes would go on to give us Huntington’s disease or some random cancer.

For me, it’s perhaps my awesome social skills. In a cursory glance, I can tell I have none. No, I can’t read between situations; no, I don’t know what wrong actions I have taken; no, I don’t know what customs you are talking about. I need to learn. Learn things, like most people need to learn physics or a programming language.

And, by the way, most of your customs are a set of actions that have descended as an identification of your group of people. It’s your code. It’s not mine; I don’t know it. It’s like me writing in Python and you go on harping about Java. We don’t have the same compiler. So, we need to make homomorphisms, for the lack of a better word (I go into group theory), between my actions and your actions, and we’ll see that we are all just saying Hi, or just saying bye, or all the other things in between. These are all part of our ideas of communication.

There you go. Homomorphism: a perfect mathematical idea that you have no idea about unless you learn mathematics. Go on, google.

There is no need to take offense when people rebel against ideas.

But if humans could almost always do this, then why do we fight? What are the irreconcilable differences between two people, and how do they arise? Why can’t we put stuff on experiments and get us a completely scientific answer? Nothing’s that easy.

In some science fiction, novel methods of society have been looked into, and we have seen such experiments (in thought, or otherwise) crumbling down like the Tower of Babel because of this unique tendency of ours to break up into bands and tribes and speak our own tongues. In one sense, it’s so perfectly beautiful, that the same organ in every human can produce such myriad of sounds and meanings. In the other, does it not divide us, like the original biblical tale? Aren’t we a sundered folk, like the elves of Tolkien?

Not if we see the homomorphisms in between us. And, you know what, in whatever random selection you do out of all the human beings in the world, you’d find it. Only if you try. Only if you acknowledge the fact that there is such a possibility, can you remove the greatest limitation of the human species: conflict and war.

So, on this International Peace Day, even though I am posting a day late, that’s my two cents. Find the homomorphisms in between people. That’s the best solution mathematics can give you.

Peace out.

Honk Honk Honk

1

I am reading “Dance Dance Dance” by Haruki Murakami. Although the early eighties novel has almost nothing to do with horns, I find its central concept to be very concurrent with the title of this post.

Waste.

An advanced capitalist society loves to produce it. Our brief existence on the face of this planet has left more of its resources useless than ever before. I’m pretty sure chemical processes in nature figured out what to do with dead stuff, but ever since we began to hack into them, producing plastic mugs, thugs, and what not, we have left nature with little time to do anything about it. Trillions and gazillions of bacteria are scratching their pseudopodas wondering what to do about your silicone breasts (that you no longer need, of course).

This specialization in waste spills down into our lives. We love to waste time. We love to waste megatons of energy. For example guzzling many gallons of fuel in an SUV only to go to a gym a kilometer away, to run on a treadmill for half an hour, covering two kilometers ( and a lot of gossip). Of course, who runs on sidewalks? Pooh. Plebs. Another example would be the atomic bomb, that our countries love to guard with even more grandeur, wasting away time and money in what could be used elsewhere.

It also spills into our streets. Honk Honk Honk. Despite our colossal waste of time, we can’t bear a minute on the street. We are children of impatience. I wonder if any of our religions were considerate enough to give it the status of a god. In its troubling disequilibrium, our advanced capitalist hearts beat to rhythm of the traffic; our impatient fingers punch out the rhythm of life into the one thing it can. Horns.

2

I finished Dance Dance Dance not a few moments ago as I write this. Whenever I point out the obvious facts of these various wastages, I get called impractical. Oh well, if you don’t spill out waste from somewhere, you aren’t doing productive work. That’s what it’s about. Dancing. Dance, until the music is on. Keep on moving to the tune of the times, and you’ll do well. Or, at least you’ll give off the effect of doing well.

What is truth is not what we see, but what we see we assume to be true. How true is it? You tell me in the scale of one Kardashian arse to a Unicorn horn.

Or a silicone breast.

Whatever floats your boat man (in the case of the breast, it will sink).

So that’s why we honk so loudly? Giving us the illusion of movement. I’ve got a place to go to, the horn screams. You bloody pleb! You are no one to stop me. So move! Move Move Move! Dance Dance Dance.

3

I find this everywhere. Our patience runs thin. We don’t care about ambulances, about beating hearts. Maybe, in whatever macabre dance we find ourselves caught in, we forget to see the beat of other’s lives. We can only hear one beat; we move one limb at a time. And then, when push comes to shove, we all start honking about our legs.

They could do something practical, couldn’t they? Like limit the decibels of the horn? At least my ears would be grateful. Maybe the birds, even. Patients in hospital wouldn’t feel the dredge of urban ennui around them. But, like I said, we can only hear our beat. And even though we do so, we seem not to hear our horns.

They begin right at the signal, impatiently waiting. Even before the signal turns, their fingers move like a reflex. See it’s nothing personal: I’m not really causing this pseudo traffic jam because I want to listen to the Beatles singing Let it be. There’s a goddamn signal there! But they don’t listen. They are acutely aware of people taking up space. It’s all a game of space, and we have been tuned by our advanced capitalist societies to take up the hidden spaces in our lives. Make it work; integrate it into our economies.

So people continue. Their absolute convalescence comes about only in the flip of the traffic light from red to green. Oh what a relief. The dance is back on; I can finally get on with my life. Such goes the thinking. In that split second of surreal relief anger builds up. The guy in front of me isn’t moving, how dare he! Honk Honk Honk.

4

Such goes life. Well, someone’s honking at me right now. I’ll just start moving. I just wished they’d be their practical selves and wait out the signal. Maybe, lower their horns a bit. Maybe, they’d only give it a little jab, and let out a spike of warning, instead of pressing it hard and loud, all over Facebook and Instagram. If only they would wait. I’d go to the side if I could, but I am caught up in a current. A current of horns, honking honking honking.

Even I in my dance would probably continue to honk honk honk.

A lot of rain

I was hoping for a lot of rain, but this was not what I had planned. I think it started somewhere close to Friday afternoon; little drops of rain fluttered down from the heaven, gradually gaining momentum, till by the night it was a downpour of epic proportions. And it hasn’t stopped since.

This is what happens when there is a low pressure area building up in the Bay of Bengal, as is evident from this Nullschool.net’s picture

Jamshedpur_weather_spet_2016
Jamshedpur is that little green dot. With lots of rain, evidently.

I wound up walking quite a bit in the ensuing water spray. In Nagpur, the rains were amazing. The earth would burst open in a festival of green, and every dead tree bearing the punishment of the unrelenting Sun finally burst forth with the hues of life. Snails, birds, mongooses, and even myriad of pangolins, would start coming out of their summer habitats. I often felt a lot for the pangolins, because there are so few to begin with, and they would often be unfortunate casualties of monsoon driving. It does happen in Nagpur, since it is surrounded by five national parks and sanctuaries, and so unfortunately in the line of human and animal contact.

But, I digress.  I would love to walk in the humid evenings. I would love to roam in the cloudy skies, often strewn with orange sunlight in lofty paintings of colour. Ah! I do love the monsoon! No wonder my ancestors called it Indra, the god of rain, whose weapon is lightning and who is the king of gods, because surely without rain, India is a devastated land, parched, dry, and lifeless.

I miss it here, my beautiful monsoons. Instead of uninterrupted green beauty, I get streets littered with wrappers, with the neck seals of bottles, and with shit. Isn’t this the land which inspired Tagore? Isn’t this land of red hills? People, people, when will you see your own beauty?

Even with that, three days is a helluva lot of rain.

Deadline Day: Hola David!

Well, that was straight out of the blue. Literally. I didn’t even know that David Luiz was for sale, and yet, here he is back in Chelsea. And here I thought Chelsea wanted to improve their defense (lol, I joke).

We have had fun with David; he’s been terrible and yet brilliant. Who can forget that awesome strike against Fulham, or his countless amazing free kicks (I think he’s scored four for Chelsea, but that strike against Colombia in the 2014 World Cup was amazing).

We love David. He played the game of his life in the Champions League that Chelsea won back in 2012. He defended like a lion, and he chased the ball like a leopard. He was always the person looking to encourage the team, to take on the pressure and do something. We love him. He’s funny and he’s a person who connects very well to the fans of the club.

But that’s not to say the fans don’t have their misgivings. He’s not the best defender in the world: he makes a lot of errors. He’s really adventurous, kind of like Ricardo Carvalho, but unlike that Chelsea legend, he’s not that good at tracking back. He’s not the most dependable defender when it comes to one-on-ones or in an aerial situation. Let’s just say, he’s got a lot of things that can be better.

That doesn’t mean he’s no good. He’s brilliant. He’s played very dependably for PSG for the last few years. It’s just … he’s not what we thought when Chelsea went looking for defensive reinforcements. They went looking for Kalidou Koulibaly and Alessio Romanogli. PSG have let go of a defender who is now edging towards his thirties, and they have in line Marquinhos, who is 22.

But, you know what, I’m happy. He’s a guy you can expect a hundred percent commitment and get even more than that. He’s a guy who’s ready to lay down his body to guard a goal. He gives you so many options, and yet I feel he is terribly underrated. The kind of flexibility David Luiz can provide reminds me of Michael Essien, another Chelsea legend. This can be the transfer that gives Chelsea that extra edge.

I hope this is what Antonio Conte had in mind.

 

 

That burning sensation

Fire is holy. Fire represents force; the first sign of human progress which has ultimately led us to conquer this planet as a species. Fire represents purity; where all that is full of sin and devious of nature is burned and returned to the supreme whole.

Hindus don’t go inside kitchens wearing shoes because (apart from hygiene) we consider fire to be a god. It is to him all the yajnas and sacrifices are given, and burned and taken to heaven. 

Not sure if this is what they had in mind when making the rules of gods. 

And it’s not just tires that Indians burn: we burn tetra packs, medicines, syringes, any plastic that we think is a clutter, old decaying leaves: basically anything that is lying on the road and we think is dirty. Fire is supposed to clean everything up, right?

I imagine the frustration of the chemists who invented recyclable tetra packs, and the anger they must feels seeing their invention burn. If can’t lose our ways of the old, how do we expect to live beyond the present and beating our current problems, live a prosperous future?

The stupidity of human kind baffles me. Why on earth would you burn tires? Just make swings out of them. 

Oh right. You cut all the trees.

Yet another MMORPG

With great expectations I awaited the time No Man’s Sky would hit the world of online gaming. An entire universe simulated in ceaseless sync! How wondrous! I wondered if there was a method to its madness: it expected people to delve inside an unexplored universe as an extra-terrestrial explorer.

With the nearest earth-like planet now situated at 4.24 light years away (40,113 billion kilometers), it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever get to go there any time soon. This is then your next best bet.

However, it didn’t sit well with a lot of MMORPG players. You know, D&D-on-computer enthusiasts (I consider myself among their numbers). The question came out whether the game was just ‘too chill’. Now, don’t get me the wrong way, I love slashing through dragons and mist-wraiths all day long. I even love exploring the world of the MMORPG and mining and crafting items for other players to use. It’s all amazing, with quests, wars, and guild wars, and what not. It’s a lovely world. But it’s often too deep to delve into.

A typical MMORPG requires hours and hours of time-investment. You need to ‘grind’ (kill enough monsters) to up your levels and gather resources and what not. You need to wait for people to show up sometimes, in order to access difficult and more tiresome areas. All in all, it ends up being a long and a late night’s work.

Perhaps that’s why the MOBA games (like League of Legends and DOTA2) are so popular.

A typical example of this tendency of MMORPGs is World of Warcraft, the all time classic, spawning from the RTS Warcraft games. It’s now a burgeoning 60 gigabytes worth of data long tale of twisting and turning lore that I can’t get my head into any more.

Another example is Ragnarok Online, the classic MMORPG that predates World Of Warcraft. It produced the outline of such games with its level-based character upgrades and job system, where you started from a Novice and climbed up the ranks as you progressed. It was an arduous task as Gravity Inc. (that made the game) grossly overestimated the amount of free time people would have! You needed to kill some 1000 monsters for some quests, and maybe kill several thousand more to level up quickly.

But nonetheless, I continue to play it on different servers!

What is it that makes these game so addictive? Competition. You see you friend do this, so you play ten hours more and do that. You see someone with this awesome weapon and you start farming and betting on probability to get this particular item drop. That’s what such templates encourage. They feed off the competition of other players and your own aspirations to explore and make you hook up to them.

Whilst No Man’s Sky may not be the one to break the chains of ‘grind’, it definitely is something that people could play in their off times. Something that makes you think ahead and differently from all the clone MMORPGs out there in the market today.

But you would argue (somehow) that people play MMORPG games because they want to hack and slash dragons. They want to spend countless hours leveling their pets. They want to fight with people over resources.

Alright! I get it! You want to be the classicist in games. Fair enough. No Man’s Sky, or similar games, isn’t quite the cup of tea for you. Or coffee. Everyone should enjoy whatever they like. Also, the extremely advanced hardware required to run No Man’s Sky has put off even its most ardent fans.

Although, I would love to sit on a dragon and fly over the skies of Orgrimmar, I have to console myself with playing stuff like Words with Friends. Or Ragnarok. Or, maybe just get a new computer for No Man’s Sky.

The Question of Eve

I studied in a primarily Christian school. But, I was never brought up in the Christian faith, and I had absolutely no idea of its cosmogony, which is why it upset me quite a lot when my music teacher one day told me that old story about Adam and Eve. Now, the surprise wasn’t in the Temptation by the Serpent, every school kid knew the thrill of stealing mangoes from trees in forbidden gardens (we just assumed that Apple stealing was equally fun), and it wasn’t even in their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. What was utterly and thoroughly surprising for me was my teacher telling my ten year old self that Eve was created from the ribs of Adam.

How can it be, I argued. You just don’t make human beings from a rib. What my faint memory reminds me is that she said something about women having one less rib than men. Yes, even my ten year old self knew that was utterly stupid; but then somehow that thing got put under the carpet and then that was that. What I found so disturbing was that women were created by God to ‘accompany’ men, that somehow women were meant to be subservient to men. That particular idea, so deeply embedded in religious and folk symbology, is something that has haunted the world for … well, as long as it has been out of the Garden of Eden.

Of course, you might argue (somehow) that all of this is a retelling of some primordial myth, like Dragons, and the Great Flood. In fact, a little search tells you that the myth comes from an old Sumerian tale about Enki and the Goddess Ninhursag. Ninhursag created a lush garden called ‘Edinu’ (harr harr) and ordered her half-brother and lover Enki to tend to all the animals. But Enki was greedy and curious, and he ate some seven or eight of the plants found in the Garden.

Ninhursag was enraged. How could he? She cursed Enki, and he fell ill. One of the place where Enki felt pain was his rib, and this is particularly of interest because ‘rib’ and ‘life’ are puns in the Old Sumerian language (both are pronounced as ‘ti’). Seeing his suffering, all the other deities begged Ninhursag for mercy, and she with her divine powers created a new goddess, Ninti. Ninti, or the Lady of Life or Lady of the Rib, may definitely be the motif for that biblical story, for Eve is known as Ḥawwāh in Hebrew, which means ‘the living one’ or ‘the source of life’. In the original story, it’s just some old gods playing some mischief.

So, now you know. Ninti and Eve. Two sides of the same coin, but only one is remembered. And she isn’t treated very well (Original Sin and what not).

Of course, it doesn’t matter really. Women, for the most part of the last few thousand years, minus some individuals, have been treated rather unfairly in most societies. Sad part is obviously it continues even today. We propagate the same misunderstanding and prejuidice that my ten year old self could have developed: that women are subservient. And that is utterly shameful.

How such stuff is propagated, I’ll tell you perhaps some other time.

What’s up doc?

Where do I begin? Or rather where do I begin again?

This is not my first Blog. But, I hope to continue this for a lot longer than my average lifetime of blogs. This will be where I rant a lot, and post very forgettable episodes of my noob life.

I’ll also write on how to become a n00b, and what I’ve learnt in the various ways of n00bness that there in this world and many other. I’ll teach you how to become a permanent Padawan.

Well, hopefully.