Thursday, December 31, 2009

Did the Dots join right?

As I sit here in this lonely night, tapping furiously on the keyboard to form words, apparently to convey heartfelt emotions...I can not help but look back at the picture which the year 2009 painted.
A plain canvas with a maze of dots to join. The beautiful trip marked the start of this year soon to be bygone. And like most things which you want to last forever, this too came to its short end. moved on. And how! The two month internship taught me more about life than it was supposed to about the way businesses are run. Very insightful to say the least. And these two months included travel to one of the most beautiful places I have been to...
Then came the changes. Changes? Is it not the word usually clubbed with inevitability? Yes. But then, when its the change that shows up wearing a mask...seems like the dream you pained to live...and when no one is looking, takes it off to reveal the nightmare you will be living, it is pretty unpleasant!
But then, the dreams shatter. The broken pieces hurt. It bleeds. And it clots up to live another day. Another Dream.
One friend once told me: Whats wrong with falling down? Because you can always get up and start again!

So I cleaned up the Broken glass pieces and got myself a brand new dream to dream.
Moved from one mirage to another...
I retrospected.
I introspected.
I ran.

At least tried to. From the pain that engulfed me in its wild fire. But as the Fab Four song goes, with a little help from my friends, Oh I get by with a little help from my friends! Mmm, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends. I was my previous self! The one which I had lost somewhere in the pages of history. And I was back. Smiling. Laughing. Dancing. Wondering. Wondering if this is a dream I longed to live? Wondering if this Dream is short lived like its predecessors have been?


The past that was..
The future that could have been...

Looking the Dots join?

Here I am hoping that the new year does not present me with a new labyrinth of dots...too messed up that I end up sulking at the past rather than embracing the future...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Searching for Joy...

The rains have finally visited Trichy. And trust me, it feels divine to just stand in the balcony with the droplets splashing on my face and the misty wind flowing trough, taking me along with them to the clouds. And the chill that runs through the skin feels inexplicable. I have already put to words the bliss I feel when it rains, but this year too, the rains have brought with them the countless memories. Memories with so many stories to tell. The memories that I miss so much that sometimes they hurt. Once a friend asked me to cherish only the happy memories. And it  did not feel right. People might say otherwise, but  to me, its these memories that somehow define my existence so far. Happy. Sad. Of no consequence. It is these memories in which I can search for joy. Where I can look out for some smiles. Smiles so contagious that they transcend over the past and infect our minds.
And then, standing over the balcony in the rain, I reminisce. The happiness of the past. The little things that felt threatening at some time now bring a joyous feeling.
For the past few weeks, I have been searching for my scintilla of happiness. That pinch which makes life so easy. But standing over the balcony, in the rain, as I lived through my memories yet again, I realized one thing.
It is the little victories of life that matter so much. I have been planning for the wars, the future, looking for my happiness hither and thither that I ignore the small things that matter. Forget the  big wars, the big plans. Forget what went wrong, what could it have been. And look at the small things. Its these small moments that will make life so easy. And its these small things, these small victories that will bring a smile when it is scarce.
So, as I stand over my balcony, now drenched in this rain... All I hear is the pitter patter as the  drops hit the walls.
Pitter Patter...
Pitter Patter...

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Loss. We all are familiar with the word. The word so small yet containing the power to bring down lives. Loss. We all have come across with this word at some point in our lives.

A broken toy. A lost candy. A few marks. A loved place. A love. A soul mate. A friend.

And some how or other we have found a way to live with it. Shoving it aside. Under the carpet. In the closet. But each time we close our eyes, those images, those good times just creep out of nowhere. Just as a dream so vivid that it fills up with hope. But its only as soon as we wake up do we realize that the ray of light was just as effervescent as the dream. Loss.

I recently lost a part of me. A part which was so dear to me. A part without which one is as abysmal as the fathomless universe. As lonely as this fathomless universe. And I took to books as a trusted friend. I picked up the book "On Death and Dying" by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. And it lists of stages a person goes through while dealing with loss, be it money, friend or plain death. The stages are: 

Denial: This can not be happening to me. Just yesterday, everything was all fine. No, this is merely a phase and will be over before I know it.

Anger: What? Why me? How can you be so cruel God? I am never going to your way again! Do whatever!

Bargain: Well, can this not wait. At least wait for some more time. Can't this be given another chance?

Depression: If all is going to end, what is the point? The world is so selfish, what is the point living is such a world.

Acceptance: I will deal with this. This is my fight. Yes, its is finally over, time to move on. Hope tomorrow is a better day.

These stages are in no specific order and can incorporate two at a time but one must attain acceptance at some point of time. And I am going through the same. And I know it is the most difficult task in this world to accept the loss. But am sure it is a better place. From where, looking back, the dots will seem to join.

These stages are not a remedy for a loss, but the knowledge sure smoothens the edges. It is helping me. It sure will help a lot of you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kinaaro ka afsana

 Just yesterday, as I penned down my thought, my guardian angel pointed out that we have been like the banks of a river. Then only that I realized, the banks of a river, although seem so distant, are like two people, growing together without growing apart. And no one realizes how close they are. In fact they are not at all separate. It is the divine river that keeps them close. It is the strong and pristine love of the water that binds them together till they dissolve and unite in the ocean. The ocean where the love of the river surrounds the banks and takes them so deep that it is impossible to separate them. They become one. That is the true fate of the banks of a river. And in the true sense, the banks define the term true love. 

Its the two banks that give shape to the river,the two banks that guide the river to the ocean, the strong foundation of the dynamic river.

So, contuining from where I left off, and in the process, completing the whole picture...

किनारे मिलते नहीं,
किनारों को मिलने की ज़रुरत कहाँ,
उनको ज़रा गौर से तो देखो,
किनारे ज़ुदा ही कहाँ हैं ?
तस्वीर के एक पहलु से देखें
तो सच्चाई अधूरी लगती है,
इस तस्वीर को सम्पूर्णता में परखो
पता चलेगा की प्यार क्या होता है |

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kinaare milte nahi...

 Just the other day, was wondering how to name a realtionship, a cherished one. Was on my way home, and I crossed a river.
A river. Starts off slow. Moulds and takes shape gradually. And as it passes on to meet its destiny, faces many turbulent times. But still comes back unscathed. Wiser. And then it meets the inevitable destiny of union with the ocean. Seems so divine. Does it not?
But beneath all this is the fate of the two banks which gets sealed in the process.
Yes. A relationship is like those two banks of the river. किनारा |
Those two banks who had started with numerous dreams in the eyes. Dreams of the destined ocean. But soon do they realise that they are like those two people who, although stay side by side the whole way, although face all eventualities of the journey of life can never meet. Can never be together. Like two friends who have always been very close that they share each others' dreams, each others' lives, but they can never meet their destiny together. And they have to witness this painful reality, staying close but staying apart. Sad. Do you not think so?
Just penning down the few words that come to my mind now...

हमने कभी की थी दोस्ती दीवानों की तरह,
दो कदम चले तो एहसास हुआ
किनारे मिलते नहीं |

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heartfelt pain

I am trying my best to find a way to climb the trough I have fallen into, and I believe I have been successful at that. Watching classics have definitely been a part of the ladder I am using. Recently saw one of the gems of Indian Cinema:  Aandhi
Oh, what a story! And not just that, the direction, dialogues, lyrics and music by Gulzar and RD have managed to stir the depths of the hearts of any generation. The pain of separation. The pain of meeting an estranged loved one after a long time. The memories that swarm the mind and the eyes get filled with tears. Tears waiting to show up but stopped by the barrier of ego. Heartfelt. Painful. 
And this has been made immortal by the brilliant performances by Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen. The cracks in the voice, the silent eyes screaming of the pain, the pain two people yerning to feel for ages. I was moved by the scene where the protagonists meet after a long and suffocating gap of nine years. Here goes:
Sanjeev Kumar (SK), Suchitra Sen (SS).

SS: बिलकुल वैसे ही हो, जरा भी नहीं बदले
SK: जरा कमज़ोर हो गया हु
SS: नहीं, कमज़ोर तो नहीं हो, तुम तो कभी कमज़ोर नहीं थे, सिर्फ दुबले हो गए हो कुछ
SK: दुबला? हीही, बुड्ढा हो गया हु, सफेदी आ गयी है बालों में
SS: बहुत अच्छा लगता होगा तुमें, तुम  तो उन दिनों में भी झूट मूठ सफेदी लगा लिया करते थे
SK: तुमें याद है सब?
SS: तुम भी तो नहीं भूले, आज कमरे में सुराही देखके ख्याल आया, लेकिन ये नहीं सोचा की तुम भी यहाँ पर हो..बिंदा आ गया तो...अन्दर आने के लिए नहीं कहोगे ?

Just amazing what magic words can weave.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Nadir

I have hit the Nadir

Is it not evident?

I have not posted in about a month.
Not read a new book during that time.
Have not seen a movie in its entirety.
Have not come out of the room.
Except for eating and classes. The latter too can not be counted. One confinement to another.
While I am typing this, am already thinking of reasons not to.

And my table is a mess. Well, it is not as messy as yesterday.
And No one has seen the mess tomorrow.

So, I have hit the nadir.
Call it the Writers' Block, Creative Diarrhoea, Stonewall or even the Trash.
But I have not been like this Before. I can blame it to many problems.
Exams. Wars. Flu. Heart. Rains.
But at the end of the day, its the words that fall apart.
Am trying Asemic writing. They say that helps. But trying it on class notes? From my experience, I'd say otherwise.
They say it is a way to climb this abysmal nadir. This gaping hole.
But the more I try to come out, the more it pulls me in.

Am still searching for words.
Lets see what tomorrow plans.
Lets see.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone!

It has happened to me before. It is happening again. Come the rains and the memories just flood the heart. And all I am capable to do during these times is to sit on the window pane, look outside and just feel the moment. There are poems, many poems which can be narrated during these times, but this one has some sublime effect on me. And I just go in a trance as I read it aloud...

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W. H. Auden

Some thoughts have a way of creeping up and leaving a mark behind. The rains have this effect on me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Some Dreams

On one of my recent journeys, I came across this poem, this simple amalgamation of words, this arrowhead - which pierces the heart leaving a abyss behind, this truth. And it has left a mark, an indelible mark on me. I insist that you too go through this masterpiece.

I borrow the words from Paash (Avtar Singh Sandhu). The Poem in hindi is not in its entirety, but I have put the english translation by Dr.Satnam Singh Sandhu. Will Try to fill the void as soon as I can.

The poem is titled:
सबसे खतरनाक | Most Dangerous
मेहनत की लूट सबसे खतरनाक नही होती,
पुलिस की मार सबसे खतरनाक नही होती,
गद्दारी, लोभ की मुट्ठी सबसे खतरनाक नही होती|

बैठे बिठाये पकड़े जाना बुरा तो है,
सहमी सी चुप में जकडे जाना बुरा तो है,
पर सबसे खतरनाक नही होती|

कपट के शोर में, सही होते हुए भी दब जाना बुरा तो है,
किसी जुगनू के लौ में पड़ने लग जाना बुरा तो है,
पर सबसे खतरनाक नही होती|

सबसे खतरनाक होता है मुर्दा शान्ति से भर जाना,
न होना तड़प का, सब कुछ सहन कर जाना,
घर से निकलना काम पर, और काम से लौटकर घर आना|

सबसे खतरनाक होता है,
हमारे सपनो का मर जाना|

Most treacherous is not the robbery
of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture by the police.
Most dangerous is not the graft for the treason and greed.
To be caught while asleep is surely bad
surely bad is to be buried in silence

But it is not most dangerous.

To remain dumb and silent in the face of trickery
Even when just, is definitely bad
Surely bad is reading in the light of a firefly

But it is not most dangerous

Most dangerous is
To be filled with dead peace
Not to feel agony and bear it all,
Leaving home for work
And from work return home
Most dangerous is the death of our dreams.

Most dangerous is that watch
Which run on your wrist
But stand still for your eyes.
Most dangerous is that eye
Which sees all but remains frostlike,
The eye that forgets to kiss the world with love,
The eye lost in the blinding mist of the material world.
That sinks the simple meaning of visible things
And is lost in the meaningless return of useless games.

Most dangerous is the moon
Which rises in the numb yard
After each murder,
but does not pierce your eyes like hot chilies.

Most dangerous is the song
which climbs the mourning wail
In order to reach your ears
And repeats the cough of an evil man
At the door of the frightened people.

Most dangerous is the night
Falling in the sky of living souls,
Extinguishing them all
In which only owls shriek and jackals growl,
And eternal darkness covers all the windows.

Most heinous is the direction
In which the sun of the soul light
Pierces the east of your body.
Most treacherous is not the
robbery of hard earned wages.
Most horrible is not the torture of police
Most dangerous is not graft taken for greed and treason.

Imagine how many of us have buried that dream under the heaps of so called necessities of life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Return to Reality.

It has been quite some time since I have paid a visit to this place. Although I had so much to write, I just did not have the heart, the mind, or rather, time. So tonight I let all the words, which have amassed in my heart, out so that tomorrow starts anew.
My summer internship at Bharti AXA was to commence from the 16th of April. Where? In New Delhi. Yeah. My roads have and will cross with the capital, whether its choice or otherwise. I reached Delhi on the 17th and reached the room which would be our haven for the next two months. Who would have known what was in store for us? That day was the first day of my training. My colleagues briefed me of the vagaries of the place. And did I find sweat on my forehead? Blaming it on the notorious Delhi heat, I moved on. And that's when the real journey started. I would keep the intricate details of the training discrete and for a later time, but over all, I had a great time at the Capital. From the world famous Karim's and Al Bake to the royal transportations - Buses. It is the first time I spent so much time in Delhi. Only deterrent being the temperature which soar upto 46.5 degree celsius. One thing, apart from other's which I felt was different from that in Mumbai was the skyline. The lack of uniformity in the Delhi skyline complements the diverse life, with a dash of stochasticity. The classy Vasant Vihar contrasting the Rustic Mahipalpur. The Hip New Friends Colony to the humble munirka. One has to see these to experience the diversity. I am posting some sights captured and captivated in my memories forever.

इसी बात पे मुझे रामधारी सिंह दिनकर की एक कविता याद आ गई जिसका शीर्षक ही था : दिल्ली

बैभव की दीवानी दिल्ली
कृषक मेघ की रानी दिल्ली
अनाचार अपमान की चुभती हुई कहानी दिल्ली
एक दिन के ही बोल' डांस में नाच हुई बेपानी दिल्ली

But now, am back to my Home. Back to reality. Was I asleep for too long?

Friday, April 10, 2009



The Closing melody.
An era closes its chapters.
And it heralds a new one. The turn of the new page.

This was the day we bid farewell farewell to our beloved seniors here at Bharathidasan Institute of Management, Trichy, who will stay on this haven for the past 2 years only for one more fortnight. The journey, they say was long. But now..looking back..I am sure that it would that every second had been a memory..a puzzle which we all are a part of. The journey..I found a few companions for the path I plan to tread..and I hope this farewell is but a facade..the doorway to great friendship.

But friends, this is not the time to bask in the glory of these memories, but it is the time to gather more.
Because as they say..
पिक्चर अभी बाकी है मेरे दोस्त!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Its creeping me out. Tests after tests ad infinitum. Whoever said that life was a test really did some solid research before saying that. Only last week we had the byzantine quizzes, the daedalian assignments, ghastly presentations and now out of nowhere these exams have creeped in the daily calender. aarrggghh!
But I have got the best of it and am at the last leg of this boot camp...this end-term exam for the first year. Have only one more exam to go and then home sweet home. And more than that, am excited that I shall be starting my summer internships by this time, next week..and guess where? Yeah...there place where my heart is. Was is this elated ever? That too in the near end of the exams... :-)
And oh, by the way, I shall be staying at the capital city for two whole months...Am already rubbing my palms gleefully. Ah..this is what they call Bliss.

And oh, here is a glimpse of the year well spent. :-D

Friday, March 13, 2009


देखो आई होली, रंग लायी होली
चली पिचकारी उदा हैं गुलाल
बनके है घटा मन झूम उठा
रंग छलके हैं नीले हरे लाल

The festival of colours was celebrated in all its grandeur in our campus. So much that the colours have not come off yet, even after half a dozen sessions of rigorous cleaning. Probably because the colours of joy seldom come off.

Wishing you all a very colourful Holi and may it colour up your life with the पक्का colours...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Trip to my heart..

I recently made a trip to my heart, a trip I had been waiting for a long time (368 days to be precise). I started my journey on the 23rd of January. And reached the heart of the country on the 25th. Then friends, the 26th and the 27th went by very quickly. So quickly that would make the long wait seem a grain of sand on the line of time. But I stole a few memories from the trip. On of them was the journey itself. Posted here are a few snaps right out of my memories...

Words can not describe the journey... am quoting a stanza from one of my favorite songs:

बरसो बाद में घुमने निकली हु
ऐसा लगता हैं वोह किसी और सदी की बात थी
हाँ, शायद उन दिनों की बात होगी जब यह ईमारत अभी उझडी नही थी
हाँ? पिछले किसी जन्म की बात ही तो लगती है |
एक काम करें?
जब तक तुम यहाँ हो रोज़ घर पे खाने के लिए तो आया ही करोगी, खाने के बाद घुमने निकल आया करेंगे
कमसकम यह ईमारत कुछ दीनों के लिए तोह बस जायेगी |

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Games Indians Play

I recently finished reading this amazing book 'Games Indians Play - Why we are the way we are' by V. Raghunathan. As you have read from my last posts, it has made an attempt at understanding us Indian. No, the purpose is not India bashing, but to show us where we are going wrong. And he has used the tools of Game theory to provide an explanation.

Privately Smart and Publicly Dumb
Has anyone observed this inherent tendency of many of us to keep our rooms sparkling clean but we throw that same dirt outside. We try to maximize our utility (saving time) by not going all the way to the Dustbin, hence we can be termed as logical and rational beings or privately smart. But that does no good for the country, thus publicly dumb.

And the above mentioned behaviour is a type of prisoner's dilemma where we seek the optimum return, no matter if that means defecting, or stepping on the shoulders of the ones around us. In that respect, we can view the competition here analogous to crabs in a bucket, pulling eachother down the hole. And that is one of the reasons why the government cannot let the autonomous institutions (read IITs and IIMs) flourish beyond a certain point. Thus, comes into picture the iterative prisoner's dilemma. Through this has come the evolution of cooperation. The idea is not to defect first, and if met with a defection, reply it in same terms only in the next round. This is the gentleman's strategy and here, both parties retain optimum profit at the end of rounds.

Biggest free riders
In India, due to the population, people tend to be free riders. And this is visible in the incompetencies of the public sector enterprises which has given rise to babudom and hence corruption, giving rise to Systematic Chaos. According to J. K. Galbraith,
India is a functioning Anarchy.
Game Theory and the Bhagavad Gita

yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi
sańgaḿ tyaktvā dhanañjaya
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā
samatvaḿ yoga ucyate
Bhagavad Gita 2.48
Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.

This is one of the examples which states that even the Gita says that one should always cooperate and not think of the result while performing the work. It is sad that the nation which gave the world the Bhagavad Gita has to be in such a state. Am quoting a poem from the book which has been very thoughtfully composed:

62 Summers after Independence

If we can launch rockets but get nowhere,
Fire missiles, but not our passions to excel,
Build aircraft but cannot fly our dreams;

If we can build oil rigs, cyclotrons and atomic plants,
but not our character,
Make heavy machinery and earth-moving equipment,
Yet not move heaven and earth to improve our fate;

If we can grow enough grain, but not care enough
to store them,
Allow half our population to go hungry, with
malnutrition and ill-health still our national visage;

If our population is well over a billion, and
Still doubling every thirty-five years, what we
innocently call our leadership
Turns family planning into a bad phase;

If 400 million and more are still strangers to basic
essentials in life
An equal number effectively illiterate, and
A girl child still an object of rejection;

If our water table is beginning to get lower than oil,
Our rivulets and canals desiccated,
Our seas, rivers and brooks saturated with refuse and effluents;

If open sewage in our midst froths pink, blue and green,
With such blatant chemical pollution a rule rather than exception, and
our reaction to these sights at best phlegmatic;

If half our country still performs its morning ablutions
under the open skies, and
We are blissful being the world's largest open-air lavatory,
with basic hygene and human dignity nobody's concern;

If elephants and rhinos, leopards and tigers are fast disappearing,
Our mountains turning naked and barren with denudation,
Forests disappearing rapidly under the onslaught of deforestation;

If cows, dogs, donkeys, horses, even camels can roam the busiest of streets,
With us incapable of arriving at a collective solution to the problem, and
In the name of compassion, subject the poor animals to worst indignities;

If our national monuments are in a state of abject neglect,
Even a Taj Mahal stands upon a pile of a town's refuse and indeference,
With tourism a mere caricature of its potential;

If our public transport is perennially choking,
Our hospital lobbies resemble railway platforms, and
Our cities, towns, and villages a vast compost heap;

If our railway stations and drainage pipes are dwellings to zillions,
Sidewalks, if there, unavailable to pedestrians, and
Our traffic signals obeyed more in infraction than compliance;

If our children are interviewed and wait listed for nursery admission,
A Class XII child with ninety percent does not make it to the nearest college, and
IITs, et al. brimming with 2,00,000 applications and more for a handful of seats;

If we have to bribe a babu to pay our land taxes, and
We can get a 'RTO licence to Kill' without a driving test, with
Corruption in a government department a rule, no exception;

If our bureaucracy is not a service but power centre,
and the system so corrupt that 85 percent leakage
in intended fundings nationally acceptable, with
Local administration in cities, towns and villages but a mere parody;

If a weak rupee is our best ticket to exports,
Quality, scale and punctuality at best secondary concerns, and
Basic R&D still beyond the horizon;

If it takes three to mow a lawn, and we still
Erect bulidings loading bricks on the heads of our women, with
Our pace of change and productivity among the
slowest and lowest in the world;

If petitions and piled sky-high in every court of the land, with
Justice nearly impossible to find in one's lifetime (if then), and
Our dehumanized jails overflowing even as crime rates continue to soar;

If Shanghai alone surpasses India's total exports three times over, and
India's total port capacity by about the same margin, and
India's total foreign direct investment over ten times;

If, as a people, we have lost ouyr sensitivity to the
misery and mediocrity around us, and
The only value system we can pass on to the next
generation is that of
Cynicism, opportunism, and corruption;

If our standards of satisfaction and excellence lie lower
than the soles of our feet, and
We are not filled with a sense of shame
At the gap between our rightful place in the world and the present one;

Surely it's time to introspect collectively?

And what a way he has abopted to end the book, but by (with an apology to Rabindranath Tagore) rewriting His most inspiring poem, 'Where the mind is withour fear', as 'Where the Neighbour is without filth':

Where the neighbourhood is without filth and the queues short and smooth;
Where civil service is corruption-free;
Where the towns have not broken up into fragments by narrow potholed streets;
Where justice is given out quickly from the profundity of the courts;
where the tireless work force stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream from the mountains has not
lost its way into contaminated rivers of dead waters;
Where the economy is led forward by thee into a rate
of growth higher than six percent (real)-
Into that heaven of liberalization, my Father, let my country awake.
I request everyone to read this very insightful book atleast once.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

We are like this only...WHY????

First of all, let me give out a few facts: 26% of Indians are below the poverty line. 39% are illiterate (and that excludes functional illiteracy). 30% of the population are unconnected to the roads. The public infrastructure is Non-existent.
A lot of these numbers can be attributed to Apathy, or, lack of public conscience.

Now the question is, Why is it so? why are we apathetic to most of the happenings around us. A possible explanation has been attempted by John von Neumann, Oskar Morgenstern, John Nash and other stalwarts through Game Theory. This theory has given us numerous solutions to the byzantine problems posed by the human behaviour or Behavioral Economics.

According to behavioral economics, humans are supposed to be rational in decision making with regard to their economic decisions. It assumes that the risk levels remaining the same, people expect higher returns. And returns remaining same, they expect lesser risk. This is called 'rationality' or 'utility maximization'.
For example, suppose a building needs to get funds to maintain its garden and the elevators in top condition so that its real estate value remains high. For that, the inhabitants of the building have to contribute. Now as people are utility maximizers, they will seek to save as much money as possible. Thus, the people on the higher floors will tend not to contribute as they feel that beautifying the garden won't be beneficial for them, as they seldom get to enjoy the garden. Similarly, the people on the ground floors will not contribute towards the elevators as they are not using them. Thus the elevators and the garden remain in poor condition and the estate value of the building deteriorates.

This is the Prisoner's Dilemma (problem in Game theory). This can be used to understand Human rationality, irrationality, egotism, selfishness, antagonism, competition, collaboration, cooperation etc. Quoting the classic example from the Wikipedia to explain this:

Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated both prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal. If one testifies (defects) for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent, the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation. How should the prisoners act?
More explanation can be found here. According to this, people are Supremely Selfish and Coldly Rational. From the above example, we can infer that cooperation will be the best strategy that would yield the best yet safe results, yet people will tend to defect in order to maximize the profit. Citing an example: India exports Red Chilli Powder to UK, and gets paid in return. To continue making modest profits out of the deal, one can send chilli powder as expected. But if one tries to squeeze more out of the deal, one would mix Red Brick Dust to the powder and make higher profits. This is the case of the defection. But this would result in the termination of the deal, thus ending any scope of continuous payment. Thus, being myopic, people will tend to defect. Thus, we would keep our home clean, but throw that dirt on the streets, polluting the country. Thinking that what difference can I alone make. Saying that if all are doing it, how me not doing it make the difference?

Thus we can be termed Privately Smart and Publicly Dumb!

And thus when we see something going wrong around us, we usually keep mum thinking that someone else would do it, how would me making a hue and cry bring about any change?
And when certain Mr. X starts up a fight for people travelling without tickets, we tend to ignore it and carry on with our lives as if it never happened.

We are like this only!
The question is, for how long?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

We are like this only!

I just came back from my short yet sweet trip from home. The train journey was long, but was traveling with friends which made it bearable. But on the train a strange incident happened which many of us have come across but have blissfully ignored. We were sitting amidst the cacophony which erupts whenever the train starts running, kids crying, hawkers rushing to alight the train...amidst that din was a distinct voice. Not pleasant. No. Something which we wish not to look at. Something we believe to be the utterances of a mad man. We ignored it at first, like all normal citizens, believing that it would come down..but it persisted. A little enquiry later we came to know that he was protesting the entry of the travellers without a valid ticket (read waitlisted ticket). Normally, such cases are not allowed to board the reserved compartments, but a few cases are ignored on humanitarian grounds.
So this person, lets call him Mr. X for convenience, didn't seem to have a humane side, and was fighting tooth and nail to get them out even when the Ticket-checker was not interested in doing anything about it. The noise subdued, and calmness descended upon the compartment.
It was around 0130 hours. Sleep has agreed to pay a visit after a much tenacity on my part. And that noise exploded out of nowhere. Don't ask me what ran on my mind! It was already worn out waiting for sleep. And again the same old yak-yak.And this time, he even pulled the chain...the train didnot stop, eh..due to some technical snags..but that is a different story. And it went on for a good two hours before we got some respite. But it was a short lived dream as the sunlight heralded the clamour. I must admit, Mr. X did get them out of the compartment. And peace prevailed.
An anecdote I shall be narrating for a long time. Not for the reasons which you might have picked up along the way, but the effect it had on me. Here is a question for you:
Was Mr. X right? it not? Not quite. On one side, we say 'What business did he have running after the ones without a valid ticket? Why can't he look after his business and let truth prevail?' And contrary to this, we say 'Yes, he was right! So what if he gathers the ill wishes of others? He was doing the right thing upholding what was right!'
Yet, that day, the former argument seemed glorious, when no one came to his support. In fact, the fellow travellers were maligning him.
We talk of seeing change in the country. We talk of making the start. We talk of doing our tiny bit that would help the country move ahead and not back in time of the dark ages. But we are not ready to come out of our zones of comfort, where we do not have to raise a voice for what is right, a place where everything stays in equillibrium. Why this complacency with the wrong?
Humm...there could be a reason which is so well imbibed in our system that now it seems a part of it, grows with it. Right from the childhood, a child reads books of great heroes who have fought against the wrong, the evil. But is advised to move along the crowd when faced with adverse situations. The child is asked not to stick its neck out and correct the wrongs in the system. The child is not encouraged to say No, but to 'Yes' everyone throughout his life. Pray pardon me if i miss a few exceptions who have gone to make their mark in the pages of history. On the whole,

We are like this only!
But the question is...Why?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Thanks to the sweet reminder of a reader, who i must say is very thoughtful, I would like to add a name to my previous post. Yes, I am talking of the samose-wala just 3 minutes away from home. And let me tell you, those angelic samosas are like medicine for me. My love for samosas go long back in time. And the the samosas which are an apotheosis in themselves have brought the quintessential bliss in this place.
And miss Anonymous, with more help from you, I am sure it would not be long when I shall be penning my memoirs. Would like to thank you once again, and do bring to my notice any other entity you may find amiss. Would be grateful if you accept this little token of appreciation. :)

My Elysium

Hi, first and the foremost, want to wish you all a very happy and fruitful new year. And don't complain for saying this after 2 weeks. Its a whole year, right? I don't understand why do we all need to wish the whole world happy new year right on the first day (the telecom cos share my opinion i bet). I mean, its not like a birthday or some other annual event that need urgent attention. And I feel the same for all these 'special' days viz. the Valentines day, Children's day, Ground Hog's Day, X day, Y day et al. If one really cares for the person they are celebrating the day for, they can do so the whole year, right? Well, that's what I feel. But that's not why i am writing this post. Lets not go ashtray and come back to my thoughts for the past month.

Well, am here after a really long time, almost a month (more than that i guess). Well, not that I have not been thinking of penning down some thoughts. But most of them were very haphazard, more of an abstract painting. And only I would be the only one able to decipher that. So i waited. And then the excruciating end-term exams came along. It went, put it mildly, like a hurricane. And in between came the new year's eve celebrations. Being a part of the cultural club, I was handling the music. And was it demanding? You bet. Now i understand the plights of DJs. And that when the music is really good, the jockey cann't even jump on the dance floor. But i tried to handle both. I tried. The repercussions were felt the next day. Not going to that now, am putting up some pics of the celebrations...

The new year celebrations faded away, exam got over. Now it was time for the much awaited break. Planning...Packing...Panicking... What to to spend the holidays...went to the library and spent some time there in introspection. Finally picked some books for the holidays. Bid adieu albeit a short lives one, to the campus and friends, and embarked on the journey. The journey was fun with friends taking turns to pick on some unfortunate fella.
Finally after two trains and almost 30 hours later, was in my own room. There's nothing like lying on your own bed in your own room, the room which has seen me grow up. I instantly went into Flashback sepia mode. Forget all the plans made for the past one week. I wiped the slate clean and decided to relive that holidays the same way I used to, my own corner, the favourite presets on the radio, the unkempt bed, and driving ma and pa crazy. God, did I miss all this? And in no time, it was dusk. My walks to Parle Market, to get tiny weeny stuffs. Here I was, walking on those familier streets, that phool-wale bhaiyaa on the corner. Not much has changed in these years. I went to my favourite place, the used-book store. Found a long time friend there. He still wonders when will I actually buy a book. Most of the times, I just came to enquire about some title he had never heard of. Then the stationery shop nearby. I just love to stroll in these places now ecthed in my memory. The lonely street which provided me with the silence to talk to Sugar on the phone, it was still like that, soothing. Sugar, if you are reading this, I promise, will take you to this place in the near future. Then the road back home. How can i ever miss walking on the same road I met the love of my life. That park, although closed still brings the pleasant memories. And that house still seems to be looking at me from the corner of its eyes. And t still scares me, dunno why. hehe... I reach my home. These seemingly inanimate objects may hold little value to others, but I have woven a relationship with them. The roads, the corners, the buildings, the walls. They make me feel safe. I have heard people say that there is heaven some place or the other. But i say that the place I grew up is my heaven and haven. My Elysium.

P.S. : I had one more surprise in store upon my arrival. The new members at my home. :-)