Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pranay tussi great ho

It was the first day (some day in Feb, 1996) of our Board (Xth) exams. I was standing alone waiting for the exam to start. Nobody was allowed to talk to me as the batch (of 100) had decided to boycott me. To top up my plight, this was my first ever public exam. I was wathcing my friends talking/discussing/fighting/.. till somebody shouted my name and I saw Pranay waving his hand, saying Hi to me!!!!!!
That too in front of whole of the batch. I was extremely happy and I knew he is the only person in the batch who could do this. In fact, the reason of his doing this was simply that here was a guy whom the majority was against. Then, what better chance to show his anti-establishment views, which he had (I'll say still has) ardent faith in. Only he could dare do this (he didn't have to dare, for him its natural), nobody else in the batch could. (I remember on few occasstions bumping into Onkar, Rajeev, Santosh or few more, of course one at a time, and they confiding in me that they don't want to boycott me but they hope I did understand what the batch-pressure was like). Pranay and I were never mates enough to pass my judgement if we were good or bad mates. But that day, his gesture made my day. Surprisingly, my exams didn't take a hit (atleast results said so, I can't say in absolute sense) by this month-long boycott by my batchmates.
(Let me tell the reason as people may take me or others in wrong opinion if reason is not stated, for the boycott:
As every year, some mischievous guys did some mischief and then they got identified. School-admin decided, as everytime, to give them some punishment. Few genius in the batch came up with a idea that they can punish few, not all. (George Orwell's "Animal Farm" in practice!!!!) The masses didn't have much clue. "Everybody" was just told to do what "everybody" was doing which was actually being decided by "Few". Masses complied. I happenned to be aware (I was not inside) of the core-team's decision. I said, its stupid idea, but since I was almost a non-entity, nobody cared. All I could do was telling them that I wont join them. Nobody took it seriously till I really defied!!!!!! They all suddenly vanished from school, in the wee-hours, with me left for grilling by teachers asking where did the 100 students vanished!!!!! 4 years of training - I clearly expressed my ignorance about all my friends, where they were and all, and techers didn't pressurize me enough, as they might have foreseen my situation and they didn't want to add to my sorry situation. Well, for me, it was not a matter of anti-establishment or any such thing. Simple thing was I was the first guy in my school to clear Math Olympiad (still in Xth) and I didn't want to loose the next-level opportunity for some reasons I could not justify. Anyway, whatever my reason, the boycott was imminent and I wont say, totally unjustified.)
Anyway, where was our esteemed friend Pranay then. FYI, he was rusticated from school till the board exams, as punishment (ek reason ho tab to likhoon!!!!)
If I have ever seen a guy totally unafraid of society, its him. Sometimes he seem to be unaware of its presence.
This reminds me of a very interesting story of his.
Of course, its natural for parents to be worried about such a kid. His mom somehow convinced him to take him to some REAL famous jyotisi. New challenge, Pranay complied. There the jyotisi ji thought of first building some relation as well as asserting some of his prowess. So he asked Pranay if he wanted "Agra ka petha" or "Kolkata ka Rosogolla" (he used to produce things like this outof thin air!!!!). I have spent sometime with him and I can easily imagine the glint in his eyes that must have had appeared. He, jumping with joy, asked "humein to Asansol ki sonpapadi chahiye"!!!!! Just imagine his mom's condition!!!!! but he does this as he just doesn't give a damn about all this craps. If you wanna assert your authority, act and prove it, don't pretend. If the jyotisiji had the power, he should not feel offended by someguy really challenging it.
I really sometimes wish, I could pick some such traits of his. Almost total fearlessness. He might fear some goons' thrashing (that too his threshold is way higher than we mortals can imagine) but he has no fear of future, society, nothing. What I have learned is that its difficult to imbibe this fearlessness once you are gorwn up. I have seen him since we were 12 years of age. He has always been like this. I think he is a child who have really been groomed with fearlessness instilled in him. (But then why is his one-year younger brother, just like me and all, I cann't comprehend). I agree, it so extremely difficult to handle him. In fact there are only 4-5 people left in the batch whom he doesn't find irritating and doesn't mind talking to. But how good things could be if every child grows with no concept of fear of people/society/../... as long as they know don't cross into others' domain, whats better. Yes, the majority in the society don't like such people. Around 80% of my batch avoid Pranay for simple reason that he is so straight-forward that it becomes insulting to you sometimes. (I agree that if he gets mean, since he has not much idea of protocols, he would straight-forwardly insult you!!!! But then thats what he meant to do, so why pretending!!!!
But, still, courtsey, protocols etc. etc. are much easier to learn, but truth, honesty, fearlessness etc. are some virtues we should try to groom in kids more. Rest they can decide if they wanna pick or not.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

october of 1997

All of a sudden, memory of a quite-funny-now-but-just-the-opposite-back-then episode, passed by my thoughts.
On one of the october evenings of 1997, during the regular evening power-cuts, me, Jawahar and two more batchmates of Intermediate-Science, 2nd year, were seated on the floor of my room, making attempts to study in the light of the lantern, but actually trying to decide whose food was less worse - bholaji's or ramnareshji's (they were the proprieters of the two food-messes of our hostel). It was a nice evening, with usual bulla sessions on full swing with no time-wastage-guilt-feeling as we had so many books lying all around us on the floor(!!!!), until two guys appeared at the door asking "Anand Gaurav kaun hai?".
The manner of asking was much too gentle to suit their appearances (its not in hindsight, but even then I could notice that) but anyway, I being the only Anand Gaurav in that room, thought of satisfying their curiosity, Though, I was not stranger to strange guys knocking at my room for some reasons or other (justified ones though), this one did make me uneasy.
When you have been studying in a college like mine, Patna Science College , which is surrounded by great(!!!!) academic institutions (where frequecnt police raids are much less commonplace than much worse regular occurrences) you get too familiar with the faces like those two which had appeared at my hostelroom-doorstep that night. The faces that makes people like me try their best to avoid. But of course you can't show you are scared so you do face them if it comes to it and face them with full confidence (your surviving-instincts is already working hard to bail you out meanwhile).
Suddenly another episode, about few months back, flashed by me. It was when a guy in white starched kurta-payjama barged in our room (we used to be 4 people in one room during that time in ISc 1st year) and sat on one guy's bed resuting which the two guys of that side of the room got up. He started talking nonsense to them with uncouth-confidence oozing out of him. Since I was getting disturbed, I started commenting loudly about useless people disturbing sincere students and kept increasing my voice till he BARKED!!!!!!!I still remember, it sent shivers through my spine. The reason is again the academic institutions which surrounded my hostel. He called me and I complied (my survival instincts asked me to do so!!). But thankfully the 'uncleji'-type-student-neta-ji gave me a BIG scolding and left me and left the room as well!!!!!
But that guy was afterall much worse in looks and appearance than these two and these two were of my age. So, it seemed all safe. They very gently formally asked me to come out for a walk till the hostel-gate while we talked. Seeing no harm, I joined. No sooner had I crossed the hostel-gate, one guy started hitting me from the back side while other held my arms.
I was TOTALLY dumbfounded!!!!!!! Who the hell wont be?????
Thanks to Jawahar's survival instints which was more customsied to Patna than mine. He sensed something fishy and started collecting few students while following me to the hostel-gate. The funny part begins here!!!!!
There got around 20-odd students gathered at the hostel-gate watching me being beaten, that too by just two guys!!!!! But thankfully, that gathering attracted the attention of Ramnareshji (the mess-owner-cum-cook-cum-cleaner-..-..) who came to the gate, gave a loud verbal thrashing to the two guys and surprisingly they left me and 'walked' off!!!!!
I still remember vividly that night. It was a big big jolt to me. Not only me and my batchmates, even the BSc seniors found it difficult to believe that I might have given somebody reason strong enough to do this. Anyway, I sometimes feel happy about this, in hindsight,that I got the experience that when you get beaten, physical pain is not that big an issue. Its other things, the scare, humiliation,feeling-of-helplessness, weakness, that eats you more.
Two days after the episode, Tinku bhaiya (son of an uncle of mine with whose family, I stayed for 2 months when I first moved to Patna and had yet to get hostel-acco) came to my room, for the first time (I frequented his place to get some nice home-food and nice time chatting with aunty and badi and chhoti di and bhaiya so there was no need of him to come to my place to meet me). He informed that a very close friend of his told him about my thrashing (and he added that the thing I got beaten with was a revolver-butt!!!! As if I was not scared enough!!!) and had asked him to ask me to keep a low profile!!!!!!
What the heck!!!!! No warning, nothing and you thrash a guy and then tell him the reason he cant comprehend!!!!! Anyway, I thought it better to leave the episode aside as it was not comprehensible and I also knew that is was way better than Pranay, a schoolmate of mine, in the same college but in another hostel, who got beaten almost every week (But everybody agreed that he gave lots of reasons to the local goons to do that. You can imagine the type of guy he was, by the fact that he quit IITKgp after two years over there just coz he didn't feel like it. (Went to Caltech for summers, stayed back for the full semester, came back, had altercation with his profs and quit Kgp!!!!)
Thanks to my many friends who gave me emotional support back then. I remember Sharad offering to get those two identified through some friends of his and then get them beaten. But then when I thanked him for the offer and expressed no desire for any such thing, the relief on his face was evident :-).
Now in hindsight, I find the episode so funny. Not an iota of remorse about it. Maybe strange, but thats the way some experiences are like. The moment they happen to you, they mean a lot to you but, once they pass and you move on, they seem to be so insignificant, you get surprised how could it ever affect you.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thickness of a book: Should it not be proportional to the idea beng conveyed

Sounds absurd what do I mean by the title.
Well, title maybe totally uncorrelated to what I intend to write.
Anyway, presently I am reading a book called "Blink" by Ian Galdwell. Its a good book.
I really like the entirely new concept the author exposes his thoughts/logic about.
What I don't like about the book is that it puts LOT many small examples to convey what it wants to prove. I am not sure if its required. But if he doesn't do that, maybe the book wont be even quarter as thick as its now. Result, maybe we are done with reading it in 1/6th of time than now. (I agree it also depends on the target audience, majority of which needs lots of illustrations to get the message across. I myself am one though, sometimes)
The thing is that we retain the idea/messege/influence as long (or a bit longer) as the person's-work or person's-reminiscence or the person himself/herself is around us and we are able to interact with it/him/her. ("Out of sight, out of mind" types). I think I would have been a much greater fan of Gandhi ( I am already a BIG one) had I met/talked to him once than by reading so much about him. Thats what personal touch does to you. It just bowls you over. But but but, you can let your mind controlled by it if you so wish and can do the contrary as well (We are gifted with a strong mind with which we can control or drift, at will)
Same with books, unless they are in sync with the idea/concept somewhere inside you or unless they are really revolutionary. If you already have that concept, the book's effect lasts long(er) as it reinforces the thinking you aleady beleive in. If its really revolutionary (rarely books are so. There are people who can do this to you more effectively, than books), you accept the idea since it appealed to you and hence the effect last, if you put efforts to that.
But for other books which don't fall in any of these two categories, the influence lasts as long as the book takes to be finshed (or a bit more). Maybe that way it makes sense to keep the book thicker. You read "blink" and then later on if I come-up with a book called "Deliberations", written with equally strong intent of proving higher-importance of deliberation to spontaniety in decision-making, you may realise that you are now attracted towards that book.
ANYthing NEW/DIFFERENT appeals to us. But they are not lasting. They are a welcome change like innumerable revolutions which the masses later realised, were equally worse as the earlier regime. Same way, since this spontaniety-funda is new to us, we like the book. We MUST be open to new idea, but should not get carried away just becuase its different/new. Our inner-self definitely deserves more respect than this.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

faith in God brings the virtue called patience

While walking back from the bus-stop to home, after attending an all-Deutsche full-day 'kurz', I was thinking about wat else but patience.
As with many ideas, this one also struck me out of the blue.
"Faith in God teaches you patience"
(BTW, this reminds how so many times, by thinking for few minutes in quietness in restroom, I have solved my many circuit-design-problems than hours of brainstorming in front of my workstation !!!!!!)
When you don't have faith in God, you unintentionally, try to surpass your circle of influence. This is obvious since you beleive that everything that happens to you is because of you and hence everything that you want to happen to you, has to be done by you. As a result, like anybody else, you start working on any priority thing.
Let me try to be patient and explain it to you.
When there appears a wound, you try to heal it using some medication you are aware of. If it fails, you try few more times before finally visiting a doctor. Now once you are at a doctor's place, you have to patiently wait for your turn/time when doc's attention is bestowed upon you. You wait not because you are patient (you already tried curing it, remember? ) but because you are helpless and have no choice.
(I am just trying to convey my point, no offences meant to any pool of thought).
Similarly, if you have faith in God, you have the advantage that you don't try to cross your circle of influence (in fact, sometimes you don't even fully exercise it for fear of outstepping) and wait for things to happen (fact remains that God doesn't do anything but the infinite events occur which, with present tools/machines/knowledge, we can't model accurately) - some person responding, some boss coming and talking to you for your benefit etc. etc. - and it generally works out. It works out, not in the truest sense, but because you already had accepted whate'er the outcome of infinite events are ('Generation/Organisation/Destruction = GOD).
Well, to be back on track and to remain true to my title of the article, how does this still prove patience-thing.
Well, for that, I again go back to the doctor-visit analogy. Similarly, for things which you think require your immediate attention, and you think it to be under your control, you don't wait to solve, howe'er patient person you are (since it has nothing to do with patience) but start solving it. And since you are mistaken with the thought that things are under your control, you immediately act.
You sometimes put some people into uncomfortable situation by overstepping into their zone and they are too nice to immediately react (remember, they are patient people and they react only once they are sure you don't realize you are making a mistake and hence you may not stop unless and until told so, in clear terms). It has its own advantage ("kichar mein se kamal nikalna", i m able to find some advantage!!!!!). You force people, not with any such intent, to come clear and you don't have to work hard on deductions based on social-norms, beahvioral-patterns etc. etc.

(Got to goto some dinner now. If something to be added is felt, I'll do so later else please consider this as the end of the article)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Is it only me!!!!!!

I have lost count of how many people suggested me to be patient. The people whom I have lots of repect for and trust on.
Well, some people think this is beacuse I act and THEN think and then act again to compensate for it. I have tried and analysed myself on it, quite a lot.
(Well, if you have read engineering, underdamped systems are unstable, overdamped are very slow and critically damped are the best choice (with some risk of instability). Same with patience/impulsiveness. If you are very patient, you act quite slowly, though mostly correct. If you are very impulsive, you act fast with the repurcussions associated with it and in status in-between, you trade-off some risk with time)
Actualy, the contrary is true. I think a LOT. I am not talking about it in positive/negative sense. For every action I am going to take, my mind has already thought N possible options about it from the viewpoint of how it may affect me, how it may affect the person it concerns and is this really what I wanna convey and many more such things . But since the other concerned person is guided by so many rules and learnings-of-their-own-which-I-have-no-inkling-about and their-own-value-systems etc. etc., I can never satisfy myself if a particular action is the right one.
Result, it has almost become my habit to act the way I think is correct. But the problem is my mind is STILL thinking. The thing is that it is now thinking with the extra enlightenment of the occurrence of the action-taken. So, the more the information you have, the higher the probability of correct decision you make. So, then I try to correct thing by reacting, which, not unjustifiably, is interpreted as compensation for something. My forgetfulness also adds to my sorry situation (perceived so by others).
But still, the most important reason why I fail (very often I do) in striking it right, the first time (or even the 2nd/3rd/4th/../ time), is that I have yet to grow up to understanind how majority of human-minds think. I am pretty bad at it and I am surprised how almost 90% of the people are good at it. This is possibly due to my way-of-thinking being different from the majority and also my reluctance to change it (it needs some self-convincing afterall)
Anyway, somehow I have survived and survived with 100s of really great friends. So, maybe my hastiness/impulsiveness scares the short-time-acquaintainces (hope this improves sometime soon) but they themselves in the long-run, generally don't mind putting up with it with the hope that yours truly, someday, would learn and overcome this weakness.
He indeed does hope/wish/try to be/do so.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I love the festival fo Rakhi: As long as I am away from home

I remember, very clearly, the tension I used to have one day before Rakshabandhan.
Before I go into details, let me add that "Rakshabandhan", like innumerable indian festivals, has got a theme and the one associated with this festival is that of the relation between brother and sister. Brother is supposed to take care of his sister, protect her from Allauddin-Khilji-types-road-side-romeos or sometimes even from Rana-Rattan-Singh-types-boy-friends of his sister (even if, very probably, she may not like it that way)
Anyway, the reasons I used to get tense on the previous evening of rakshhabandhan had nothing to do with protecting my sisters - the days,when I used to get tense during the pre-rakhi(popular name for the festival "Rakshhabandhan" ) days, my sisters used to protect me from my "friends" (girl or boys, whatsoever) (it could not continue long since I moved to hostel pretty soon) -. The reason was just associated with yours truly.
Well,rakhi started with the theme of brother committing to protecting his sister, but gradually, as with everything, people realised that protection/security can also be sold/purchased as a commodity, the thing "protection" got converted to "money" for the convinience of all. When did this transformation take place, I have no idea, but I have seen it that way since the first day I remember about it. In rakhi, sisters tie a band to the brother and the brother gives her some money. Whatever the amount of money was, it always seemed HUGE to me (even if it was some money which my mom gave to me to be passed on to my sisters, once they had tied the band). This feeling of money being big-amount came probably because I was too dumb a kid back then who used to give all his financial gifts ( you get it when you meet your elder relatives like your grandma or uncles and aunts) to mom and my sisters used to keep it with them and hence any more money they got during rakhi, made me relatively poorer.
Not just the financial drain that I can avoid once I am far from my sisters, makes me like the rakhi-from-distance, but there is another much more significant advantage I gained out of being farther from home-town during the festival of rakhi.
I am so happy that I dont have to worry anymore about a particular nice-beautiful-charming-sweet-..-.. girl from my neighbourhood tying me rakhi!!!!! (remember the theme of rakhi)
When you are a kid, your emotions regarding the opposite sex is just not given any respect. Its treated with so much insensitivity, I am surprised. Anyway, what happens is that if you happen to have some girl around who is not your sister, but she is around at the time when the band (btw, the band is also called "rakhi", same name as the festival) is being tied to ur wrist, that girl would also be asked, in 'courtsey', to tie one rakhi to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its such a dilemmatic situation, one needs to think sometime to come up with some diplomatic answer to accept or to deny this offer of tying a band symbolising sister-brother relation between the two !!!!
Well, many guys dont mind spending money on a beautiful girl, but not this way, for sure. You give her the money for tying the rakhi on ur wrist and also, u accept her as your sister!!!!!!!!!!
So, its anybody's guess now, why all the worries and tension.

PS: I must add that I did witness some remarkable change in this hypocritic gesture of asking another girl to tie a rakhi, even if she is not your sister, even is she happens to be around. Few years back, I mismanaged my vacation-timing/place and happenned to be at a cousin sister's place during rakhi that year. But I was pleasantly shocked to find that no other girl was asked to tie me rakhi except my cousin . But anyway, I had learned how to handle such situations (you really become street-smart if you start living in a hostel (that too one like mine) since your are just 12 years old). Back then, when I didn't know, nobody helped me, rather made things worse for me!!!!!!!