Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

Time, The Ultimate Warrior

“There is nothing more powerful in this world than an idea whose time has come” – I was always amazed how Victor Hugo expressed such a powerful truth in such simple language. Growing up, I always looked at the world around with fascination  and I always believed that history is continuously being written in front our eyes. People either read history or predict the future and say ‘It was a golden era in ….’ Or ‘It is going to change the way we look at …’  but as we are speaking these history is being rewritten. New ideas continuously pour into this vast universe day in and day out – all these slaughtered by the best warrior in this world guarding the future – TIME. Because only when TIME moves away do we step into the future. So only a few ideas survive the onslaught and go on to get etched in the memories, only a few go on to change the way future generations perceive the world around or even better, just accept it as THE TRUTH that existed forever.

When I first heard the story of Galileo presenting the concept of earth being round and revolving around the sun to the community he lived in (Not to the world, if you can appreciate it!) – he was scoffed at and was charged of blasphemy. If you tell a kid today that once upon a time people used to think that earth is flat or that they thought that sun revolves around earth – he would consider the folks of the past so foolish. But a small idea that happened in a ‘present tense’ at some point in time has reached the corners of the world, places which Galileo would not have known that existed. Such is the power of an idea whose time has come.

Perceiving the power of ideas that gush out from every stream of knowledge and thinking every day fills me up with a sense of wonder and amazement. Also sometimes makes me believe that THIS IS THE WAY IT IS INTENDED TO BE – I don’t know by whom – for now I would call it the TIME. It let some guys (ideas!) pass through the door, because they are either ‘VALID’ guys to get to the future or they are simply too strong for it. How does it determine what are VALID ideas that should survive – is there a reference book or plan against which it checks? Is there a guiding principle that is used for this validation, is what I started thinking next. May be yes – how does ‘Making this universe better!’ sound as a guiding principle? It sure sounds like those corporate VISION statements!!

One of the ideas was GLOBALISATION. It sneaked in, may be by bribing TIME, and it has created what most socialists would shout their guts out with – RICH POOR DIVIDE. Lot of our people look back and say with nostalgia “How beautiful were the days when we had the small little village when everyone knew everyone else’s name! The pond in the center of the village and temple and the trees?” If TIME knew that globalization would mess up the whole system of Poverty and Prosperity, mess up a few societies to create a few ultra-rich societies, why did he let that one PASS? Why did TIME allow us to create multi-storied apartment complexes where millions of people live in a few square kilometers of land?

 Either this is the way to live that is best for humans in the future, to be together in a smaller area – live, think, work together with extreme dependence on one another that when an asteroid or a gamma ray explosion hits a barren land in the country/continent, there are very few people who die and people would have already learnt how to produce enough food on a smaller piece of land to even survive that catastrophe. Or on the other hand, it is easier to bring all those people who want to be away from NATURE and don’t care for it, ALL TOGETHER in a limited geographical area, for TIME to just wipe out as many people as possible at one simple go. To offload the burden off this earth with minimum destruction so that the remaining guys who are closer to nature will live with as much land as they want and the way they want to.  Interesting possibilities, eh?

Either way, I  just don’t know – I think TIME knows more than I and you do – may be in the long run, the positive outweigh the negatives – so I modified that guiding principle “Making the Universe Better in the Long Run” . In all this discussion of possibilities, I am ruling out human intelligence and their ‘individual’ power to mess with the nature out of this discussion – very consciously – because any thought is an Idea and as per my hypothesis, every idea should pass through the warrior of TIME. So there is nothing like we consciously are messing with nature or we consciously are messing with other people. TIME let my idea to ruin other people’s life PASS the door, so I got in.

Why I am writing all this? It is because I think the time to float this idea has come – That we are all moving in a ertain direction as per the ‘guiding principle’ that only Mr. TIME knows. We are not moving randomly, we are not inventing server farms and internet clouds randomly. It is not random that Google is becoming big or US markets crashed. It is not random that a bunch of terrorists flew a couple of planes into the world trade center. Their IDEA too passed the threshold at which TIME was standing. It let their IDEA pass – all for a reason. I urge everyone reading this post to just stop for a while and look around – What do you see changing prominently around you in terms of thoughts? What have you started hearing more often – Going Green?, Religious Teaching everywhere?, Growth in Temple/ Church Revenues?, Extremism (From both sides!)?, Farmers talking of Macro-economics? Anything!


Once you start looking at the ideas that are sweeping the world around YOU – Not the world in general because for one it is too big for you and me to perceive and make any meaningful conclusion and secondly, as humans it is easier to understand and appreciate when we are at the center of action. “Oh, I never thought I would not be able to live without a cell phone, I cannot remember what I was doing when I did not have internet, I don’t know where I would have invested my money if not for the stock market!” People lived for centuries and millennia without these, remember? What has US cutting 0.75% interest rate got to do with me? Every individual event is a junction, from which the paths of future would emerge. What happens at that point pushes us collectively onto a different route. Remember, what had Japan losing WW-II to do with a village in South America? Everything from end of colonialism to onslaught of tribal extremism and so on..! When you stop a while to look around and appreciate the power of ideas sweeping us every day and importance of every simple, seemingly unconnected, individual event on our collective future, you too would feel what I feel when I started to write this.  

Can you read the vision statement again – ““Making the Universe Better in the Long Run”  See the word  Universe, we as humans and earth as a planet is just a part of the whole universe. To give you an idea, FOR 160  MILLION YEARS, dinosaurs remained the unchallenged species trampling over what comes in their way. Appearing in 3500 different varieties they never would have imagined that they will all become extinct at one go. But for TIME to wipe out such a huge population of such a seemingly invincible species, was not a big deal – it did not seem to care for the extinction was really really RAPID. The IDEA was they were not fit to survive what was to come. Some species that started off from the dinosaur family survived, they have changed so much today that you would not believe they came from the same ancestors. The same powerful IDEA of one-shot extinction left them untouched, even gave them a chance to rediscover themselves. Because even though they started off ogether, these creatures changed in tune with what nature is asking of them.

Understand the vulnerability of us as human beings and work with IDEAS that please TIME. We stand no chance gainst TIME. The only way to survive is to be on its side. Which means, Think And Act for IDEAS that help the niverse get better in the long run – which is the only guiding principle TIME respects.

Realize that what I and You do today can possibly change the future, not just ours but of the entire world. Ok, maybe I am stretching it, as I got into the preachy mode towards the end! 😉

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What a Joke!

This is an image that welcomed me when I logged into Citibank website today – Which reads ‘Use Credit Responsibly’ – a campaign, apparently, to educate people on how to use credit. With all the sub-prime crisis Citi is facing in the US and a the billion dollars written off – Should that not have read  ‘Lend Credit Responsibly’ 😉

Use Credit

Take me home, Country Roads….

There are multiple ways to commute from one place to another – by air being the easiest but the most boring of the lot. We in India have an extra option of going in a train other than taking the road route. Travelling on roads in India was/is considered a night mare and so a lot of enthusiastic travelers like me used to envy the buggers living in the US and Europe for their great roads and the ease with which they take those road trips driving down across states. Not anymore folks, India is almost there 😉 Well, it is still ALMOST.. 😉

 

Anyway the lengthy beginning is for a lengthy road trip we took in the Sankranthi vacation. 2 years after I bought my car, did the poor thing have the fortune of travelling cross-country! Now, Karnataka is inarguably the trekker’s and wild-life enthusiasts paradise and we set out to discover it on our own. Starting on an early Saturday morning from Bangalore, we started driving towards our final destination of Udupi in western Karnataka, a beach and temple town on the beaches of Arabian Sea. With the new-found tourism itch of India and states like Karnataka, we saw more boards to Belur and Haleibidu than to more bigger towns like Chikmagalur or even Hassan. Taking our first break near Hassan, we stopped by a highway-side Dosa Camp – serving awesome “Thin Idli” (Some new innovation apparently!) and some tasty and hot Dosas all served in a wide open parking lot – an Indian version of a drive-in 😉 But travelling with a 20 month old spoilt brat can be quite challenging than the drive itself. We stopped for more time than we drove but managed to reach Hassan -> Belur and then to Chikmagalur. For people unfamiliar with Karnataka, CHKMGLR is like a base camp for most of the adventures treks/trips into the Western Ghats.

 

Lunch @ Plantain Café – a decent restaurant in CHKMGLR on the way to Aldur (our next town in the Ghats). As we left CHKMGLR the nature started welcoming us with open arms. Driving through the Somaishwar national forest and Muthodi Wildlife sanctuary we reached Aldur and after a lot more spiraling roads and a few breaks we reached our first destination for the day – Sringeri (one of the four Sakthi Peethas established in India by Adi Shankaracharya of Advaitha fame!) . Ramesh and Vasisht had some good time talking to each other and Ramesh spending the time recuperating from the adverse effects the ghat roads had on him before the temple opened 😉 One of the best temples of Mookambika I have seen, Sringeri is undoubtedly a paradise for spiritually inclined.

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Still to cover close to 90 Kms and time almost being close to sunset, we hurried out of the temple and reached another small town called Agumbe – famously called Agumbe Ghat. We had a feeling of serendipity when we had a chance encounter with the sun, leaving work to his home! And what a place to watch the sunset – sun moving slowly down in to the horizon with nothing to obstruct the view for miles around. Certainly the highest point of our day – literally and figuratively 😉

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Reaching Udupi at 8.30 PM, all drained out – we dined and crashed in a hotel room. Woke up in the morning to visit the Krishna temple in Udupi. One of the most powerful temples I have seen of late, with the whole atmosphere inside the temple reverberating with Hare Krishna chantings, Krishna bhajans sweetly sung by groups of carnatic singers all together – totally wiping out any thoughts from the minds except of the Lord in his full magnificence. Words cannot and should not describe the feeling of peace and spirituality that touched me inside that temple. Out of the temple, we ventured to find out the next best thing Udupi is known for – yes the Dosa. Udupi is the vegetarian food capital as everyone knows and it was proven over and over, with the Dosas we ordered one after another and the Upma, that Ramesh savored 😉 After some temple shopping for idols, photographs and accessories by Paddu, we moved to the beach in Udupi, called Malpe beach. We had some 3 hours of great fun, good lunch and we could not stop ourselves to reach our next destination beach in Murudeswar.

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Drive from Udupi to Murudeswar is one of the most beautiful drives of my life, with a wonderful looking sea with its waves crashing close to the road on one side and coconut groves by the backwaters on the other side of the road. Crossing multiple rivers like Sharavati (The River that causes Jog Falls, the highest waterfall in India), Sauparnika and Aghanashini on the way – and a beautiful beach of Maravanthe and a couple of movie star like snaps of Mr.Ramesh on the beach-side roads, we finally reached Murudeswar.

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Murudeswar is an important location in the story of Bhookailas (old telugu movie!!) – Ravana bringing shiva’s atmalinga wanting someone to hold it while he does his evening prayers and hands it over to Ganesha in disguise as a cowherd boy, who calls for Ravana three times before he places it on the ground unable to bear the weight. It gets stuck in the ground then, as forewarned, and that place is Gokarna. Furstrated Ravana throws the holy cloth in which it was being carried all the while and it fell in Murudeswar – that is the legend! Though the age-old temple is disgustingly concretized (sic, modernized), it has conveniently screwed up the legacy by placing ceramic tiles on the stone built temple structure by a local real-estate contractor Mr. RN Shetty, trying to put Murudeswar on the map. So you see more hotels and accommodation around the great hill than the temple itself – so much so that a couple of my friends actually were surprised to know that there was one, when I told them that we visited the temple on that hill…! That apart, Vasisht had a great time at the beach and ofcourse we too. Sunset on the second day, after the Agumbe Ghat view, was at the sea shores of murudeswar – a brilliant sight of two minutes watch sun disappear in to those roaring waters.

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Day 3, is Gokarna. “I am a Herbivore. What else will you call me – I thrive on ‘Grass’?” That is the thought for a T-shirt that crossed my mind as I looked at the hordes of ‘firangs’ in Gokarna (We call the whites that around here, for all you Americanized folks and Grass for Desi junta around is a street name for marijuana!!). It is a confusing, little town of extreme spirituality and hordes of foreign tourists pouring in searching for instant nirvana – either given by Lord Shiva himself or the street-side vagabond! But Gokarna remains a center for vedic studies and is certainly held in high esteem on spiritual grounds from eons of time. We managed to offer our prayers at the Mahabaleshwar temple in Gokarna and it’s a different feeling shouting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ for eleven times over powering the crowds of devotees trampling around you, while performing that abhishekam. We saw around the place – Ganesh Temple, Parvati Temple and a few temple-side puja accessory shops etc.

Then the afternoon was spent at the famous (notorious?) Om Beach – a place with more firangs than Indians, relaxing by the sea side in huts built beautifully on the shores. (See the picture below!) And Om Beach is so called apparently because the beach looks like an inverted Om!??! (See the picture below for yourself)

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We took a trip on a boat to the other beaches around – Paradise beach, Half-moon beach etc. Played in the waters for a while and waited for the sunset. This time, to view it from a hill top, courtesy Ramesh who trekked up around the hills to find the best view point! We waited for our dear sun to go down for yet another tremendous view with some great time pass with Lemonades and Frito Lays.

Starting back on the next day early morning around 6 AM, the drive through Shimoga and Sagar and touching Jog Falls on the way, it was an awesome drive at an average speeds of 90-100 KMPH (quite a feat contrary to the expectation of Indian roads!) and reached home (sweet home!) by 4PM! Dinner and crashed with a aching legs, after that long drive and with an aching heart – for I am not sure when I can take such a trip again.

That was a trip of mesmerizing natural beauty, enthralling views, thrilling speeds, broadened perspectives and a definition of a real holiday!

SCG – Sick, Crazy and Grime!

Ozzies can beat the performances of the West Indian team of yesteryears, but never their greatness and humility!” A sentence one of my friends put up on his blogs. I guess that sums up my reaction too for a test that could have been an awesome one. Second test at Sydney would be remembered by the crazy cricket lovers forever, probably not in the same tone and spirit as a Sharjah one dayer with Sachin lofting Kasprowicz out of the stadium but one absolutely on the opposite side of the scale. One of utter disgrace to the ‘gentlemen’s game of cricket’.

Oz showed that while they might be great winners, they are really bad losers. They cannot accept a defeat with humility – you can choose your own reasons as expressed on the blogworld all over today from a harsh expression they are a descent of ‘criminals’ from English legacy to a more softer approach of ‘They just play by the text of the rules and not the spirit’. Whatever it was, an Indian cricket fan – it hurt and for a change, not because the side screwed up (as they mostly do!) but because it as an awful game to watch with the ozzies trampling the spirit of the game as they did the grass at SCG.

I would attribute umpiring errors to the senility of Mr. Bucknor ( I am really being lenient to this man in white!!) but what I could not digest was the behavior of Ponting and Clarke. And one more person who fell from grace in my view would be Gilchrist – if there was one man I thought would be different in the Oz camp (I mean honest!) it was him. But after seeing the way he appealed for Dravid’s caught-behind I realized that patriotism overtook the personal ethics – he just wanted Oz to win the 16th test straight and it was a small sacrifice for him, may be!

All said, it was a great game of cricket clouded and overshadowed by the spirit in which it was played. Laxman’s prolific century, Sachin’s determined strike and the ‘Will of the Wall’ all got lost in those murky waters, not to forget Dada and his princely knock after a long time. Aussies would for a long time to come would be labeled as pathetic losers of the game, even though they are the best ever side to play it – rightfully so.

Beyond the game, the way ICC slapped a three match ban on Harbhajan just based on Oz players testifying against him, with zero video or audio evidence was shocking in itself. Neither the cameras not the on-field umpires heard anything. So how do we arrive at a conclusion in that case. Also, I am surprised how ICC and the umpires hear the Hindi ‘Bandar’ comments and understand it and how they fail to catch the English words that the Aussies utter about the Moms and Wives of the opposition 😉 As an afterthought, I think BCCI is the richest board in cricket with zero self-respect – if there is one reason I miss Dalmiya at the top of BCCI, it is for this – he would have ripped ICC for the treatment they handed over to the Indian team.

Also, if you remember the way Indian media is treated by Aussie players in India was something that was conveniently forgotten – Ponting refused to address the Indian journos on their tour to India, till the Oz media (who chose to walk in really late!) got into the press conference. But ya, I would leave the way Indian media is treated in Aussie for a different point in time – what a nation we are – a bunch of cartoons with zero self-respect. I somehow think we are the only nation in the world who still use the words like ‘respect’, ‘non-alignment’, ‘patience’ and ‘payback with politeness’ and also funnily try to stick to them.

Thoughts and Why I think we don’t remember them!

In our thoughts, we travel far and wide. We travel deep and away. More often than not, we find some beautiful thoughts, some dark ones and some extremely pleasant and some so repulsive that you hate yourself for sinking so low. At a few we praise ourselves (“What an intelligent and creative being I am!”) and at a curse at a few (“It is immoral and scary that I can think like this!”)

But we can never deny the fact that we actually travelled to those places – may be just in our mind paths. I sincerely believe that things that a human brain can think of, we can certainly do (Good, Bad or Ugly!). It is just a matter of having the influences, opportunities and will. I am not getting on to a motivational speech here! If a socially moral and good guy, bumps into a lusty thought of sleeping with a hot next door neighbor, did he commit a sin or not? All of us now jump to our own conclusions – yes, no, yes but not if, no but if….! Because we have to say something about someone else – what if it was
you? We try and justify, forgive ourselves.

The reason I brought this topic up is because I have started to believe and understand that all of us live atleast two lives at the same time – in our physical bodies and in our mental bodies. A ‘tika-wearing’, ‘nice-chap’ can have some really ugly thoughts while a drug addict classmate of yours might actually be the first one to help you out when you are in trouble. It is scary in those cases to realize that we judge people on what we know of them! Do we really know anyone too well? Probably not – Not even our spouses and parents. We really don’t know anyone well enough. Not even ourselves. Because a person is incomplete without his thoughts. You are just seeing one side of the image and trying to construct him as a whole.

We even tend to forget where WE travelled in our thoughts. We constantly convince ourselves that “We are what we do”. It is easy to say and extremely clichéd in motivational speeches – ‘You are what you think you are’ but the mind and your faculty of judgment is constantly telling you to forget that. Your MIND is telling you ‘Never Mind’. Because it is in the own interest of our egos to not remember or maintain memory of what we thought of! It would destroy us as individuals! The MIND makes you forget all the dark thoughts you had by quickly telling you – “Look this is immoral that you are thinking, so between you and me, shut that and conveniently forget that you ever had this thought! I would keep it a secret!”

If that does not happen, imagine – “Lust and Greed are bad”, you would say and your MIND brings to the front all those times till date that you lusted for someone (immorally as per societal standards!) and had coveted for someone else’s wealth even if it means that the guy goes bankrupt. Imagine how it feels if that happens, every moment of your life whenever you say something, it would get irritate you. Make you hate yourself – when your MIND would tell you aloud what a big hypocrite you are. It would keep shouting that you don’t really believe in what you are saying now as you have flouted that yourselves so many times – quoting references. It makes you incapable of passing judgments on other people. It breaks your entire system and the concept of “ME and I”. And hence in the process would destroy the MIND itself. The very mind that is shouting and referring. It is not in its best interests and hence it keeps quiet. It avoids getting into this catch-22 situation with a simple clamp of forgetting your own thoughts and constantly telling you that ‘You are the best’. Interesting!

Is there not a way to break this conundrum? There is – to let mind break itself, to let mind shout at you and tell you that you are a hypocrite. To develop a way to record and remember your thoughts by constantly and keenly observing all that comes in there. If you lust for a hot colleague at office, remember that you did. If you felt envy at a junior who got promoted above you, observe and remember that you envied for that guy. Do not let the mind tell you that you are a “Sinner” to think so. Know that you HAD that thought. Next time, you realize someone envies you – you would then not judge him. Because you were him sometime back! Recording thoughts lets us be non-judgmental. Helps accept everyone around us as they are, because they are as you are! It makes you smile when someone steals or envies, ‘I did that myself a while ago or atleast thought of it a while ago!’

This slowly destroys the concept of ‘I am’ and ‘He/ She is’ and makes it ‘We are’ – Is that not what Universality supposed to be? And after a point in time, the mind does not feel the need to record your thoughts to remind you constantly what you are. Because you would have realized what you are! Is that not what ‘Enlightenment’ is supposed to be?

In my thoughts today, I figured that this is my simple approach to enlightenment. But, I know that this has some blatant loop-holes, as my mind has started figuring out already as to how to beat this system! And I am telling you something that I might not be able to follow myself.