Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Totally confused...

May be life is this... We learn various things at different times and under different circumstances. We keep accumulating knowledge... Intelligence is in choosing the right knowledge to apply for the right problem at appropriate circumstances.

Today morning, actions of a very dear friend of mine troubled me very much. The actions themselves could be totally unintentional (hopefully) and hence don't mean much. But, how am I to know? Nevertheless, I had to deal with it... Lot of reading and thinking in the past few weeks gave me the problem of plenty... too many solutions which one to apply?

Lesson No 1: (learnt from "A Poison Tree" by William Blake)


I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

I should have confronted the friend and settled matters then and there.

Did not apply this one... since I was not even sure of what I was thinking. More over, there is lot to lose in this approach (unless the level of friendship is like Karna-Duryodhana or Lewis-Clark or Rohit-Jaadu) if the basis of the wrath is absurd :-)). Closest friends Brutus and Caesar did not get this - how could I ?. More over, I have a history of jumping into wrong conclusions based on my extremely fast CPU - totally unreliable.

Lesson No 2: (learnt from kannada proverbs)

ಕಣ್ಣಾರೆ ಕಂಡರೂ ಪರಾಂಬರಿಸಿ ನೋಡು (kaNNAre kaNDarU parAmbarisi nOdu)
Even when you see it, you should examine more. Because, when you see only the present you may not the context. My dear friend Anand once elucidated that any sample of the infinite is bound to be incomplete and hence inaccurate. How true?

ಕೋಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೊಯ್ದ ಮೂಗು ಶಾಂತವಾದಾಗ ಬಂದೀತೆ? (kopadalli koydaa mUgu shaanthavAdaga bandIte?)
If you cut your nose in anger, it will not come back when you cool down. This has reference in Ramayana when Shurpanaka got her nose cut from Lakshmana due to her anger (haste) and hence was disfigured for ever. Very wise. So, I decided to apply due diligence before taking action... or even talking about it. Again, very wise.

Lesson No 3: (learnt from some one... some day)
If you derive your feelings (joy, sorrow, anger or frustration) from any body else... sooner or later you are bound to be disappointed. True feelings, what ever they are must be from within in. That way you will have complete freedom (as well as complete responsibility) in what you feel. No body can take that away from you.

I know... but have not reached a stage where I can insulate myself from being effected by others... Long way to go.

Lesson No 4: (observed while throwing stones at a serene lake)
Mind is like the surface of a calm lake. As long as the lake is calm, the reflection that we see on it is beautiful, some times more beautiful than the real world above. Any body who has spent a moon lit night by a lake will definitely agree with me on this. But how easy is it to disturb the tranquility by just dropping a stone... It causes ripples immediately... these ripples reach the bank... and as if getting a new purpose in life, they multiply... Even before the stone reaches the bottom of the lake, the ripples have already taken over the surface... the reflection of the same world you just admired looks horrible, twisted and distorted.

However, the lake is resilient. It swallows the stone (the trouble maker), accepts it as its own... and finally brings back the tranquility at the surface.

It took only fraction of a second for the stone to disturb the peace at the surface... It takes hours for the lake to fight the turmoil within to bring back the peace.

Well.... does this even apply here?? Any way the Lake, the stone, long time to restore tranquility... good connection.

Lesson No 5: (learnt from the story of the Zen guru)


Once upon a time a big monk and a little monk were travelling together. They came to the bank of a river and found the bridge was damaged. They had to wade across the river. There was a pretty lady who was stuck at the damaged bridge and couldn't cross the river. The big monk offered to carry the pretty lady across the river on his back. The lady accepted. The little monk was shocked by the move of the big monk. "How can big brother carry a lady when we are supposed to avoid all intimacy with females?" thought the little monk. But he kept quiet. The big monk carried the lady across the river and the small monk followed unhappily. When they crossed the river, the big monk let the lady down and they parted ways with her. All along the way for several miles, the little monk was very unhappy with the act of the big monk. He was making up all kinds of accusations about the big monk in his head. This got him madder and madder. But he still kept quiet. And the big monk had no inclination to explain his situation. Finally, at a rest point many hours later, the little monk could not stand it any further, he burst out angrily at the big monk. "How can you claim yourself a devout monk, when you seize the first opportunity to touch a female, especially when she is very pretty? All your teachings to me make you a big hypocrite." The big monk looked surprised and said, "I had put down the pretty lady at the river bank many hours ago, how come you are still carrying her along?"

You get the point....

Finally something that I like, and I want to accept. I have carried my worries all the way till the middle of the night. I should at least drop them here. Tomorrow, is another day - another start.

Random Lesson:
There were more learnings that I saw while walking back home. I saw the most beautiful evening clouds... huge foolish clouds trying to block out the brightness of the Sun... and the Sun was still imparting a splendid silver lining around them. Today I *saw* the real meaning of "Every cloud has a silver lining"... Too bad, that does not solve my problem. Hopefully its true.

As the name of the blog and this post, it is getting too random and too confusing.

Relax dear!

Often when we lose all hope and think this is the end, God smiles and says :
"Relax dear, its just a bend! Not the end."

Some SM's just make your day!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why do we name things?

Have you ever thought... Why do we have such a strong urge to name things? We are not contend by naming humans... we also name all our pets - that too with human names. We can not eat a fruit without calling it by a name. We can not climbdown a mountain without calling it Mt so and so. We name cyclones, waves, stars, volcanoes, waterfalls, rivers, deserts, islands... There are millions of species of animals apart from us on this planet and all of them carry out their business without having to name any thing.

I understand that we started out naming people to be distinctive and unique. Fine and fair argument... But some where down the line, we missed the very point and started naming children after some body else... clearly defeating the uniqueness objective. As if to bring order to chaos, we started having two parts to a name "person" and "family". World was peaceful until some body thought it was just not enough and came up with a "middle" name. Now we have "prefixes" and "suffixes"... This would be Bill Gates if he were knighted.... Sir William Henry Gates III. In the midst of all these, our dear friends from Andhra Pradesh created a rival system of naming... the only logic seems to be 'longer the better'. Try this Rajasekhara Srinivasulu Laxminarayana Siva Venkata Sai - Yes, it is one person's name and people call him Sai.

People of royal birth seems to have got the entire naming funda wrong... they rotate the same name every 2-3 generations. In Thailand, the king is always known as Rama.

On the other hand, you christen a person with a beautiful and well thought out name. But actually call him by his nickname. Fine, you did not like the real name. So you called him by nickname. But some cultures have rules in nicknaming a person too. Robert has to be nicknamed Bob, John-Jack, William-Bill, Elizabeth-Liz... So you are not actually *choosing* the nickname.

There is another peculiar thing that comes to notice about we referring to people:

We do not use names to refer to people if they are many of them. "There were many people at the function". We also do not use names if we do not care about the person. "The new finance guy is a moron".

Once we are a little more familiar with a person not referring to him by name may sound disrespectful. I can not keep referring to people at office as "the receptionist", or "the tech support guy", or "the MD" - although there are only one of each kind at my office. Familiarity makes me use their names. We also use names when there are less of them... "Mayank and Keshava are good friends of mine".

Again, if a person becomes too close to you... you stop referring to them by name. An Oscar acceptance speech would go like "I would like to thank my *Mother* for all that she has done...". Some times a "her" or a "him" in a sentence carries all the meaning it has to...

Does it not seem strange when we choose to refer a person/thing by its name?

When we talk about names, its hard to ignore Mr Shakespeare. He said "A Rose By Any Other Name Would Be a Rose"... But I ask why name it at all?

PS: We even name blogs... even when the best one came up with is "random"

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lofty ideals - words of an auto driver

So what if the English is broken? So what if they just rhyme? Auto drivers are as creative as any body else when it comes to spreading social messages...

Here is one of them:

Help ever...
If not hurt never.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Seen at the back of a truck

Save rain water.. One child is best.

Very noble thought(s)... but what's the connection?

Savanadurga - A Labour day outing

Bangalore is basically made up of rocky ground. If you go out of Bangalore just 50-60 Kms, you will find many many rocky hills. On top of many of these hills, a king (paalyegaara) of 16th century by name of 'Kempe Gowda' had constructed forts to protect the people from enemy invasion. Don't pin me down on dates and other facts... things are very much in grey area when we come to Bangalore's real history. Date lines don't match... Things are not taught in school... rotten politics is every where.

All that apart, after the accidental break down of the Mekedaatu plans - we decided to go to Savanadurga which would be a equally nice drive. My driving partner - lets call him Nani - was promptly only 20 minutes late to start. A nice (lengthy) breakfast in of Nani's old hangout's in Basaveshwarnagar further delayed our start by an hour... But who was in a hurry?

Nani is a good driver. We headed out of Bangalore on the Magadi Road... He negotiated the irritating Kamakshipalya traffic with a two-wheeler like agility. Oh BTW, we were driving a year new SWIFT. Half an hour of irritating traffic and more irritating road brought us to some where near Macho Halli. The agony continues... some "Work in progress" situation for the next four kilometers saw us riding over dirt tracks stirring up clouds of dust behind us. All these surprisingly did not seem to effect Nani at all, who was happily smiling away to the tunes of 'Dr Raj's eternal romantic songs'.

Nani had been here before... So, there was no need to ask for directions... although the illusive water-tank that he so clearly remembered never appeared before me. Any way, the winding roads kept him happy... nice music and the cool AC kept me happy. It was a very good combination. I needed to take pictures of anything remotely photo-worthy... and he wanted to take a break ever so often. And more over, time was on our side...

Well, reaching Savanadurga is all about left turns. There are mile-stones counting the number of kilometers (yeah, I see the contradiction too) left to reach Magadi. When it reaches 'one' there is a left turn to be taken... Boards are currently there. Not sure if they last longer... This is called 'Hosapete' circle. Couple of chais shops, bakery, cool-drinks... and nothing more.

Savanadurga is 12 Kms from there. Some distance (have no clue how much) in that road, will lead you to a place called VG Doddi. Gotcha... if you reached here, it means you missed the left turn you were supposed to take. Yes, just before VG Doddi, there is a left turn... there is a decorative entrance (again, not sure how long it will last). This should be good enough hint. After that you have to be really dumb or arrogant to lose your way.

We were at the base of Savanadurga hill by 11:30. There is a temple for Lord Narasimha at the base. Since wait period to consult the deity was too long, we decided to first climb the durga (fort) and then come back to the temple. So be it. We started to ascend... the wrong way. It had to happen. When we found it tough we looked around to see how others were doing it... that is when we realized that there is a easier, albeit round-about way to start. Ten minutes (okay... it was 6 minutes) into the climb, we had our first pit stop. Clearly we were climbing the wrong rock. We had to walk sideways to reach the correct path. Since we were already half way (okay.. 1/4th) up this rock, I thought why not see the top of this one. Nani gladly volunteered to stay back. Climbing was easy. Damn easy - until I reached a point where memories of Kabbaludurga (a mis-adventure of mine 4 years ago. Another day - another story) came back to me. The crevices I could hold on to were becoming less comfortable. Some how I had lost the will to stand upright. All this said - time to climb down. Oops... and then I made the mistake of looking down... Nani was way down some where... and there seemed to be no way I could go there walking on two legs. I wondered whether I should be happy that I climbed so much in just three minutes or start making contingency plans if I end up with the same plight as Chamayya Mestru of Nagara Haavu movie. Well... After 10 gruelling minutes of dorsal (face skywards) crawling I was back where it all began. Both my palms had blisters but I was happy to be walking again... many thanks to my denim trousers.

We started walking sideways to reach the 'actual' path. Until you do it, you would not realize the risk in this. It is very easy to twist your ankle when gravity is tricking your sense (if you have one) of balance. Fine... Once we joined the more trodden path, we were joined by various groups of people... some left us behind and went ahead... and some vice-versa. All kinds of people come to Savanadurga... some as pilgrimage... some for just time pass... some to put a tick on their TODO list... reason could be many - but the pain is all the same.

The terrain, the heat, scarcity of water, Nani's innate urge to give up - I was fighting multiple battles here. Each battle required different strategies... The terrain had to conquered the old fashion way. One step at at time. The heat... there was no escape. The only way out was to surrender and mitigate the damage by taking ample rest when ever we came across shades. They came in various shapes. Under a tree, between two boulders, sometimes even walking in the shadow of Nani helped :-)) The third battle was against water (or the lack of it). I am accustomed to using very less water during my running... So that battle was won fair and square. The last one was a tough ask... the enemy was changing faces at every corner. Nani would find creative reasons to stop at any pit stop. Luckily, I had more creative reasons why we should see the top of this climb. This tug-of-war between the curious and the quitters went on for 2 hours... both physically and in our (Nani's and mine) minds. Finally the curious had it their way.

The fort is no big deal to write about. It must have been a formidable opponent to overpower in its days. However, I think anything that high in that heat would be formidable... The enemy had to first fight the quitter in himself and only then would the fort be accessible. On top of the Fort, there is a Nandi (Bull, the vehicle of Lord Shiva) looking over towards North. There are no inscriptions... no commentary on how it got there, why it has been put there, who put it there. Zilch. Nothing. There were a bunch of other climbers who had their own un-verified versions of history. I did not understand why there was a bull, when the temple below was of Lord Narasimha and not Lord Shiva... any way that is for the historians to ponder about.

At 2:30, we thought it was time to head back... In this more used path, getting down was not that scary... We were safely back at the base in 50 minutes (okay, 1 hour 15 minutes). At the base a nice kind hearted lady offered us drinking water from the well. She would not accept our help in drawing the next pot of water from the well... 'Does urban life kill the humanity in people?' I began to think....

We quickly offered our prayers to Lord Narasimha and headed back to civilization. Near the base of the fort, there is a vendor of tender coconuts. Mr Nani quenched all his thirst here. Nani's promise of getting ragi balls for me for lunch seemed impractical since it was already way past lunch time. Still we tried our luck at Magadi... In vain.

Nani, still could not believe what he had accomplished. The quitter in him had been sedated... albeit temporarily. He definitely felt good about it. But does not want to accept it... for fear that if he gets into this habit of feeling good this way - life may become harder.

Reached Bangalore safely at 7:00 PM. Bought 'Namma Oorina Rasikaru' by GorUru Ramaswamy Iyengar for just ten rupees (Now you know where I picked up this Nani from). Rava Idly at Janata Hotel... The End.

The End.

Talkative Man

Madhu is his name. Not many would remember this even after they read the novel cover to cover. This is because only one character in the entire novel (including himself) calls him with that name. Such is the aptness of the name "Talkative Man" to the character. Again, like Nataraj in the Man-eater, he is born into one of those rich Kabir street families. For a change he lives alone... and does not have a family to call his own. Since he is a journalist (wannabe) he gets to be at almost every where in Malgudi as and when he pleases. Together with a kind heart and lot of wealth, (seemingly very logical) he has a habit of going out of his way to help people.

This helpful nature, first gets him mixed up with a 'behrupia' - a man posing himself as a UN researcher in 'futurology'. Then TM helps the 'queen', the behrupia's first wife to get back her husband... In between, he tries to help an old man get his grand daughter back on track. His antics with Jayaram - the photographer and the bookworm neighbor are throughly refreshing to read... but nothing great to repeat ;-(

Some people may TM (story) has an abrupt ending... RKN himself inclusive. However, I feel nobody should read RKN for the story any way... what if the story ended abruptly, prematurely or did not end at all. I enjoy the story telling while it lasts. Thats all.

Some time in the near future, I shall write about the short stories I liked...