Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Who are you?

0 blesses 'n' curses
Consider two foetuses, F1 and F2. F1 was conceived before F2, but was delivered after F2. Of the two, which one is older?

 It would be F2 as it was delivered before F1, even though the latter was conceived earlier. As things stand, one's existence is recognized only when one gets out of their mother's womb. Why not recognize the existence of a life from the day it was conceived, if your birth date is truly the date of your origin. Is the birthday that you are celebrating, really your birthday?

http://www.whenwasiconceived.com/ : This website lets you to find the approximate date when your mother got conceived you, what song was topping the charts in the US and the movie that got released at that time. Give it a try.

That brings us to the question what is 'you'? If you consider from a physical standpoint, the cells which are building blocks of our body, get replaced constantly and with passage of time, the cells which used to be you, are no longer you. Now some new cells are you. You are a new person every once in a while.

Also 90% of our body is made up of microbiomes that have entered via our various openings of our body, enabling us to do various activities like digesting, immunity, controlling stress levels etc. That leaves only 10% of what you perceive as you, actually you.

Are you what your memories are, the ones which shape who you are? Babies don't make memories until they are 2 or 3. Is the baby you, not you?  Should we consider people dead, if they lose their memory? I had a grandfather who passed away, late last year. He didn't have a clue as to who he was for about a year, until he physically died. What should have been his status? 

Moreover the memories we make, tend to get less accurate each time we recall them. We always look back and say "Those were the times", when we reminisce about our childhood. There is this halo effect, where our brain flushes out all the unpleasant details, which would have given a less romanticised view of the whole thing. Our memory doesn't work like that of a computer. Our memory is stored in all parts of the brain. When it is triggered, it is a chain reaction of the neurons and the whole memory is recreated reflecting our current thoughts. It is always getting altered.

So, who are we? I don't know, let us ponder together.


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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Experiments with self

0 blesses 'n' curses

When you don't have a proper job, you make things up to keep yourself occupied. Especially when you are as jobless as I am, mucking about with the friendly neighbourhood street dog and having bad blood with the unfriendly neighbourhood pomeranian piece of shit, I digress. So I decided to do 3 experiments on myself.

Just to sound like a proper director introducing the audience to an obscure flashback or a plot poin. at the beginning of the movie with a wicked screenplay, I am going to describe an incident which you will come to know at the end, when I throw light on it. Mind la vechikeenga!

Feb 7, 2016, Sunday. 

I was waiting for my Aunt and her daughter at Theevu Thidal. I spotted a sugar cane juice stall next to the parking lot manned by a geezer who was as scruffy as I was when I didn't bath for a week during the floods. The sugar cane juice was like what I would describe as left over surf water from the dirty clothes bucket. Appearances are deceptive, I said to myself. After all, Seetha pazham looks like phlegm but tastes wicked innit? I took a sip of it. It actually tasted like soap water, which I once "accidentally" drank from the soap soaked water bottles. What is better than soap water sugar cane juice? A soap water sugar cane juice mixed with ice cubes. Hence I asked for the ice. The guy decided to wash his dirty hands with even more dirtier water. Somehow he thought that the dirtiest of the water would merge with the dirtiness in his hands and it would be that dirty, even the viruses and bacteria wouldn't hang about. He then broke the ice with a stick he pulled from underneath the table and put the ice in my glass. Guess what, I drank it anyway.

The other day I was thinking we wouldn't tweet or text someone if we had some person with us all the time to talk to and share our thoughts. Why do we have to communicate? Why cant we keep things to ourselves? What is the point of putting it across on the internet? I didn't even have a phone until I completed college. After all, it was that way, not too long ago. Our generation has been in the twilight, getting much insight into this issue, more than others. We spent most part of our childhood not having any of the communication facilities that we have today, yet we got through pretty well.

The constant checking of whatsapp messages, refreshing of twitter timeline and checking of Facebook updates and notifications were getting on my nerves. It suddenly dawned on me as to why was I doing this?  I decided to stay away from these things for a week, just to know how I would react to not being able to communicate every thought to someone or the other instantly. No more whatsapping or posting nonsensical status updates on twitter or Facebook to escape the loneliness . I just wanted to be a person and not initiate any conversation with another human being for a week.

The experiment turned out be a damp squib, as most of the things I plan. I just cannot wrap my head around people who are positive all the time and make plans accordingly. Every time I try to be positive, all I get is just disappointment. Your mind just thinks that everything shall happen the way you'd see it. You have path charted, right in your head as to how things would pan out and it almost always ends up not going that way. On the other hand if you were pessimistic or realistic about stuff , whatever happens ends up as a surprise and you almost always, never get disappointed. Why would anyone want to be positive and put themselves through the torture of constant disappointment due their over expectations on anything and everything?

It was like a classic case of "bring your umbrella it doesn't rain and forget it at home, it pours". On the week that I tried to separate myself from people was probably the most calls I got from people and the least lonely I've felt. Someone or other called me everyday. I went with a friend who finished work early, to 2 ponds and 2 lakes at Pallikaranai, of which 1 pond and 1 lake were in me humblest of opinion (excuse me french) gigantic pile of A grade human shit. I was also privy to watching a proper wicked sunset from terrace, saw the moon rise and gaze at whatever little stars that were visible.

 ​
Nesavalar Nagar lake

Ambal Nagar pond


Sunset from the terrace.
I then decided to go a day without consuming food. Please keep in mind I am a guy who weighs 95 kilos. I am pretty sure one wouldn't weigh that much if one exercised normally, while consuming food. I wanted to know whether I can take such a hit. It is one thing to sink yourself into work or something and not eat, but it's totally another to always yearn of food and not be able to eat it. Numerous commentaries have been written on hunger by great minds, hence I need not expand further. The last few hours were the hardest. Especially when you have that "thaval dosai" sitting in front of you and your mother is asking you to eat it and I am like,

and all you want to do is stuff your mouth with thaval dosai and I did....when the 24 hrs ended. It just lets you know what hunger actually feels like, not your first world hunger but proper "Loon on street who didn't eat hunger". The feeling further reinforces how blessed we are to actually be in position to have 3  meals a day.

 I decided to reward myself the next day by walking to West Mambalam and consume copious amounts of bajjis at Mama kadai apposite to Ayodhaya Mandapam, Kachoris at OSB. What's that Mama going on about, mate! That geezer was well grumpy and moaned like Karl Pilkington for every God damn thing I asked him. I had to excuse him for the bajjis though.

This was also the week I had to attend an interview at a big organisation for the first time, which I waited for quite a time. My stomach was on fire, as I sincerely was not expecting this and didn't have a clue. I had to relax the (failed) experiments rules by adding a Proviso-1 "In case of emergency everything is workoutable" and sent few emails, called the HR and made a call to a friend for help. Boy! what a help it was of. Though I badly messed up the interview at first and somewhat recovered during the end, it was now a relief that I finally put that one past me. To quote Mr Paul Heyman

"You cannot achieve success if you fear failure, if you're not afraid to fail, man! you have a chance to succeed. But you're never not gonna get there unless you risk it all the way. Sometimes half the fun is failing. Learning from your mistake, waking up the next day saying, Hey watch out, here I come, licking my wounds and really not looking forward to getting my ass kicked like yesterday. So now I am a little more dangerous" 

The weekend was spent fully with friends, playing cricket, eating at Gujarati Mandal, reminiscing old memories watching photos and videos of ourselves, watching cricket where I was constantly foul mouthing the Sri Lankan cricketers, especially daring Sachitra Senanayake

"Nee oru appanukku porandhirundeena, otha half kai shirt pottu bowling podu da".

I know I am being totally biased and incorrigible when I say this, but let me be that. I believe this is how SL selectors pick their (sly) cricketers

"WTF, you bowl without using your fingers? Nee dhan da venum"

"Fuckinell, you hold your bat with your mouth? Vaaya! Vaaya!"

"Tha! You bowl a slow ball using three fingers and call it namam delivery? Strike bowler!"

"Player: Ji! Naan vaaile catch pudipen! naanu?
 Selector: You're the keeper, direct ah IND vs SL match la papom."

 You must be wondering this cheeky little fucka was saying he did 3 experiments, but he has revealed only 2. This is the point where I will the link the flash back and you will marvel at me geniusnessness and write twitlonger posts. When people were trying to get words of their chest to confess their louvv during the weekend, I was trying to get the phlegm out of my throat thanks to the sugar cane juice that I experimented on self. (Also note the Seetham Pazham ref in para 3, Safe!)

In this day of age where we are incredibly connected with each other and never alone, it's quite befuddling that we a feel lonely. Michael Collins who was one of the three men who went on a manned mission to the moon was probably the loneliest man for a small amount of time. Unlike the other two, Michael didn't land on the moon, rather he was orbiting it. While orbiting the moon he lost all contact with mankind for about 45 minutes. That is probably the farthest any human has ever been from communication to another human. But then, do distances really matter? Criminals are put in solitary confinement, they are just a stone's throw away from communicating to another soul. Perhaps it would be even more agonizing because it's a case of so near yet so far.

So, getting back to the initial question, why do we have this urge to share our thoughts with other human beings? Rather than the fact that we want to be celebrities in our own right, may be it's the kid in ourselves which craves for constant attention from its mother. May be we just grew out of the innocence and we are just stuck now with the constant craving for attention, just may be.

I want to end this one with a quote from Into the wild
Happiness is true, only when it is shared

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Radio

11 blesses 'n' curses
Circa 1965, Anandha Vikatan office.
Neelakandan had been writing for over a year in the Anandha vikatan weekly under the pen name Komalam. It was was the series' first anniversary. Everyone were congratulating him as he was leaving office.
"Vaazhthukkal Oi! Unga thodar nalla poitirukku, Bonus laan vangirkeer, enna panna poereer?"
"Radio ku license laan vangiyachu oru varushathukku. Murphy radio with Leather bag"
"Sabaash, evalo?"
"500 rupees" *with a huge gasp*
"Adhengappa, Ceylon radio laan kekalame"
"Aama aama", Neelakandan replied with pride
Neelakandan was so happy that he finally had a radio of his own. He need not go to his friends' place to listen to olichittiram of his favorite Balachander movies and listen to his favorite hindi songs in Binaca Geetmaalik. He was imagining everything in his mind and was walking to Standard electronics in thiruvellikeni.


Picture courtesy Radioactivity

"Enna sir Radio thayaar ah"
"Ready ah irukku, license vaangiteengala?"
"Ellan vangiyaachu, indhanga indha maasa thavana 100 ruba"
"Masaa masaam thavarama kudthurunga, edho Anandha vikatan la velai seiyyardhunaala kudukaren"
"Kandippa Kandippa"
"Aprm idhu current la dhaan odum, Connection irukka?"
"irukku irukku, nan varen"
Neelakandan held the heavy radio in his hand and then hung the leather bag on his shoulders and walked back to his home. Neelakandan reached the gate of his ondrikuditham flat. All his neighbors were peeping from their window,carefully watching Neelakandan carrying a radio and shutting them as he got near.
"Inga pathiya di Uma" he showed the radio to his wife.
"ennapa ne padu bayangarama radio voda vandhurka, marachi eduthuttu vara koodatha?"
"Muzhu pushanikkaiya epdi sothula maraikka mudiyum?"
"Enna prechana vara pogudho"
"Seri seri andha hurricane vilakku ah eduthuttu vaa, kaathala kolam maavellam pottu thodachi vechen"
"Adhan current irukke light podatta"
"Current ku yaaru kaasu kattuva?"
*tok tok tok tok* 
Someone was knocking the door. It was the landlord lady.
"Ennanga pudhusa ippa radio laan vangirkeenga neraya current selavangum aprm vadagaiya etharom. 200 ruba aprm current ku 20 ruba sethu kudunga"
"Amma adhu 60w dhan"
"Adhellan enkitta solladheenga, adutha masathulendhu kuduthudunga"
Neelakandan closed  the door and turned towards Uma
"idha paarunga avala vindunga. Indha maasa vaanoli pusthagathula potrukaan innukki 10 manikku Gemini Ganesan padalagal aam. andha keppom"
Neelakandan slowly nodded the headed but was still frowning.
"Aprm indha Nyaithikizhama unnakku pidicha 'Server Sundaram' thirachittiram podaraanaam pa"
His lips were slightly starting to turn the other way around and smile bloomed
"Aprm adutha bonus la apdiye Fan vaangidu pa"
"Adipaavi! idhukke iva kaasu ethara, fan vaanguna. Kadavule"
It was 9.45. Neelakandan took the easy chair placed it near the radio. Uma was lying down near the chair on the mat. Neelakandan switched on the radio and sat on the chair. They listened to the interruption sound for the next ten minutes and then the songs started. 
"Vaaryo vennilaave kelayo enthan kathaiye.................."
------------
"Appa ezhundurppa! 4 hours ah current illa aam, nee paatukka jolly ah easy chair pottutu vaasal thoongitirukka TNEB ku phone panni sollakoodathu?"
"Naan kooda sonen dhaan unga appa ku. AC ilama irukkave mudila. Orey veyil"
Neelakandan's son Vignesh came back from work early because there was maintenance power cut at Boag road, where his office was situated.
"Kraadagam correct ah Kasthuri serial bothu current pannittan, innum varala. Oru inverter vaangi podu da" Uma was murmuring to her son.
"Naan ulgam poora suthirken inga dhan ivalo mosam. Indha 2014 layun 1960 mari vaazha vendirukku"
After a few minutes the power was restored and both the mother and son breathed a huge sigh of relief.
"Habba! Amma apdiye andha Coffee maker la kaapi potutu, andha AC ah room la poettu vittudu"
"Appa current vandaachu ulla va"
"Illada ingeya unkkandhu radio kekaren"
"Radio la laan onnum illa! evanavadhu oruthan loosu pesitiruppan, RJ Balaji ah apdiye copy adichu"
"Naan Hello Fm la touring talkies kekaren, vidu da"
"Eppadiyadhu po, Naan AC room ku poren"
"Indha da coffee, Naan ulla varen vaerthu kottudhu"
Both the mother and son went into the AC room, while Neelakandan was sitting on the easy chair in front of the home.
"Appa enna kekara? Touring talkies ah?" asked his younger son Subramiam, who was returning back from his Tamil Literature masters college classes.
"Aama da, Ethir neechal! Enga Balachander padam"
"Andha padatha naan download panni vechirken va naam serndhu pakalaan"
"Naan radio le ketukaren paravailla"
"Ennavo po, naan ippa poda poren vandha vaa"
*Agaramudhala ezhuthellam Aadhi bhagavan mudhatre ulagu*, the movie started
Neelakandan hesitantly got up for a moment, then sat down and continued listening to the radio.


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Thursday, December 12, 2013

ப்ளாஸ்டிக்

0 blesses 'n' curses
  சமீபத்தில் வேலை நிமித்தமாக தமிழ்நாட்டில் உள்ள சில பகுதிகளை கடந்து செல்ல நேர்ந்தது. காணும் இடம் யாவும் ப்ளாஸ்டிக் குப்பைகள். கடவுள் எங்கும் இருக்கிறாரோ  இல்லையோ, ப்ளாஸ்டிக் எல்லா இடங்களிலும் தென்படுகிறது எங்கெல்லாம் மனிதன் செல்கிறானோ அங்கெல்லாம் ப்ளாஸ்டிக்.

மதுரையில் குளங்கள் இருக்கவேண்டிய இடங்களில் வறண்ட மண்ணையே காண நேர்ந்தது. அப்படியே அதில் நீர் இருதுந்தாலும் அதிலும் ப்ளாஸ்டிக் குப்பைகள், மேலே மிதந்தவாறு. திருபரங்குன்றத்தில் உள்ள ஓர் நீர்நிலையே அதற்கு சான்று.

ஸ்ரீவில்லிபுத்தூரிலிருந்து திருநெல்வேலி போய்கொண்டிருந்தபோது என் நண்பன் விசேஷ் சொன்னான், 

"என்னடா இது highwayன்னு சொல்றாங்க ஆனா இவ்ளோ வெளிச்சமா street lights இருக்கு" 

அவன் தமிழ் நாட்டின்  ஒவ்வொரு மூலையிலும் எப்படி வளர்ச்சி தெரிகிறது என்பதை சுட்டிக்காட்டினான். போகும் இடம் எல்லாம் 3G connectivityஆகவே இருந்தது.
ராஜபாளையம் சென்றடைந்ததும் முதலில் தென்பட்டது, சாலையோடு ஓடிகொண்டிருந்த ஒரு கால்வாய். குளங்களில் தாமரை மலர்கள் மறைப்பது போல் ப்ளாஸ்டிக் மறைத்திருந்தன. இதை கண்டதும் இப்படிப்பட்ட வளர்ச்சி தேவையா? என்ற எண்ணம் எழுந்தது. ஆனால் பதில் என்னவோ என்னால் சொல்ல இயலவில்லை.

பொருணை ஆற்றின் கரையில் அமைந்த திருநெல்வேலி சந்திப்பில் இதைக்கண்டேன் 


மரங்களிலிருந்து இலைகள் உதிர்ந்தார்ப்போல், பார்க்கும் இடம் எங்கும் ப்ளாஸ்டிக் குப்பைகள். ஆனால் உதிர்வதென்னவோ மனிதர்களிடம் இருந்து.

- இப்படிக்கு  6 கோடி ப்ளாஸ்டிக் அடிமைகளில் ஒருவன்

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