Monday, November 14, 2011

Circle or Infinity

After having thought long and hard about this, I think the only way the beginning of "Life, the Universe and Everything Else" makes sense to me, is if there is no concept of a start and a stop.

Unfortunately, that probably means I can't begin to understand what it means to not have a start and a stop, if I don't already understand it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Theory #3703

Theorem: Everyone has a particular quality for which they yearn to be admired. More often than not, only people who are close to them can see this quality.

Postulate: If you want to get close to someone tout de suite, the surest way to do this is compliment him/her on this quality.

This is not terribly hard to see. For notational convenience, lets call this quality your Mojo.

Now this may not actually be your Mojo; it might just be something you believe you have. For example, I think of myself as a good listener. But, since I talk/argue a lot, its not the first thing people will say about me. In fact, I can almost see some of you smile and say "yea right" in your heads. People's notion of a good listener is often someone who is quiet and sane, and since I am not either, it's harder for me to bag the compliment. Even more often, when people want a listener, they want an obeyer or someone who merely nods along while they speak. I usually raise points where I do not agree, especially when I find something illogical. But shouldn't that be proof of the fact that I was not only listening, I was also thinking about what you were saying? That being said, maybe being a good listener does involve being people's idea of a good listener... so maybe I am not one. However, the point is, if someone said that to me, it would make a better compliment than something else.

Now, coming to the Mojo. This is not just any quality. This one is special. For some, it is their depth of knowledge, for some their sense of being cool, their maturity, their ability to balance different things in life, their sense of style or something more abstract. I have also noticed that often this quality is not the most obvious. I cannot be sure of this, but it might have to do with the image you had of yourself as a child... which might be why down the road, you began to behave less like the Princess or Batman or Einstein, and eventually, it stopped showing.

Anyhow, I have often found it very effective whenever I can capture this quality. There is a sudden sense of closeness to the person. They feel you understand them somehow and suddenly open up to you. Like an instant connection. Like you were able to get to the true person they are (or believe yourself to be). Of course, if you look at your friends or family, you will see that the ones you are closest to, are able to recognize your Mojo.

Unfortunately, the converse is also true. If you are not able to admire someone for that quality, it is almost certain that you will not get that connection. You may be a cute couple on the outside, but there will always be a sense of not getting it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


It's beyond me how the term "fakeness" is used so widely. My source here is rather lame, but over a thousand profiles on orkut have the word "fakeness" in them! Isn't the noun "fakery"... or have my poor old oxford and not been updated? I even looked it up on Merriam-Webster, but without any luck. Do people believe that this is actually a word, or am I living in some distant land where a mouse is still just a little rodent that runs about? What has gotten me all the more confused is the fact that the spell-check in MS-Word doesn't think that it's a mistake! I wonder...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Arrrghh! Choices!

I can't decide whether I love having choices or hate it.

I do realize the world would be a rather boring place if things just came your way, without you having to choose. But that would make life so much simpler. Strangely, and perhaps justifiably, some people do believe that that is exactly what happens. You can read about it here. There is no free will they say. The idea there is that you don't really make any of your choices yourself... you were bound to make them. I can't be sure whether that is true, but if it is, I so wish this choice which was already made for me would not be so encrypted. I mean, if it's already made, why can't I know what I will choose.

Why, for instance, can't I decide which university I want to attend? It's obviously an exciting choice to make, and I am not complaining about the fact that I even have the choice. Most people will tell you that they were really glad they got only one admit, so that they were saved the trouble and trauma of making a choice. But I have five options, and hell, I love having to choose!

What complicates the decision tree way more than required is the fact that most of us have no idea about what we want. If we did, it would be as simple as traversing a complete binary tree with 2^n leaves, where n depends on the number of parameters that decide the outcome. The problem is, most of us average minds aren't aware of what we seek. I am not sure if what I want is even static. It's a completely crazy, indeterministic function of what I encounter each moment. So there goes my binary tree... or should I say there grows my binary tree... exponentially too! And even if we knew exactly what we wanted, the optimal choice is never available.

Of course, the binary tree is assuming there are just two answers to a parameter-deciding-question. For most situations, you can break up the parameters in a way that they would be yes-no questions. Let me explain, for example, the decision tree when I go to buy a pair of shoes. There are the obvious yes-no questions, such as "yes I want the shoe to fit". Some of you, especially the men, may find this a rather silly question. Of course you want the shoe to fit you, unless you're buying it for someone else. But the truth is, that this highly efficient question reduces the search space by way more than you can imagine; in my case, it leaves about ten pairs per shop. Add to that "yes I want them to look decent" (notice, I did not say good), and that eliminates some shops altogether. In the remaining, the choice reduces to about two pairs. The above questions must never be coupled with "yes I want them to be comfortable" and "yes I want them to suit the occasion", or else you'd never end up buying anything. And we still haven't gone into the cost factor. If I ever found a pair of shoes that fit all those parameters, they'd be so priceless, I'd never wear them. One of my friends did find one like that... but when I say one, I literally mean it; the other shoe in the pair was missing! So you see, you almost know what you want, but that's never one of your options.

Even if I have a limited set of options, and construct a tree such that the leaves are only the things available to me, then I end up with a new problem. With only "available options" to choose from, there is almost always a compromise between one parameter or another. Such as, let me choose a slightly lower ranked college if I get a better overall experience in terms of my education. This decision, since it is not a strict yes-no, is really difficult to take, as the one question that keeps flashing in my head when I choose to compromise on something is "what if I live to repent it?" I mean, how do I predict what I will need more in my future; and even if I can, how can I do it accurately.

And all this while, this choice which is already made is not helping me at all in choosing which choice is already made! Of course, once my conscious mind has made a decision, those scientists will come around with a map of my brain and say, "There! We knew you'd choose that all the while!" Not much help then, is there? So here's where this beautiful mechanism called intuition steps in. I don't know how my intuition knows what the right choice is, maybe it somehow communicates with the factor that has already made my choice for me. But as far as I remember, whenever I have felt strongly about something and gone by what I have felt, I have almost never repented. That's it then! I know which university I am going to, and I definitely know which pair of shoes I am taking there.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Unfathomable Species Called Mothers

Mothers! They seem to defy every rational or logical conclusion that I have drawn about human behaviour in general. It's almost as if they don't belong to the same species as the rest of us.

For one, I believe (as you may have read in a previous post) that every relationship is a give-get transaction, not necessarily material. And still there are times when I can't understand why my mother gives me so much when I seem to be giving very little in return. Starting from the financial support, right up to the back massage when I am tired, to the comforting hug when I am scared and the hot cup of tea when I am studying for an exam, my mother has always been the giver in our relationship. I am twenty-two, and she still makes sure that I've had my breakfast on time. I know I am always in her prayers, and she makes it a point to call me even when she's on a business trip, however inconvenient it might be.

It's incredible the way she knows exactly what is happening in my life, although she barely spends a few hours everyday with me. She knows who I am dating, what I want, when I have cried... it's hard... no, almost impossible to keep a secret from her. I mean I can always tell a white lie here, and hide some facts there, but at the end of the day, I know she knows; and she knows I know she knows.

She's been my best friend, confidante, role model, caretaker, teacher. She's the only one person I know who will give up the leg piece in the chicken for me. Seriously, who does that?

Obviously, I am grateful for having a person like her in my life, but in a strange way, it scares me. It scares me when I think about what kind of mother I will end up being. I can't imagine giving up a leg piece for someone else. I'd probably just buy more leg pieces; but in general, I am a selfish person. I think primarily of myself, and believe this to be normal human behaviour. I am self-involved and unobservant and inefficient... most of my close friends will confirm this. And while those things may not make too much of a difference when I play the role of a friend or an acquaintance, I know it's almost all that will matter when I play the role of a parent. To make matters worse, I am insensitive. Not that I don't help people, I just don't realize when someone needs me... that probably has a lot to do with being self-involved.

I do love children, especially those related to me like my cousins and nieces and nephews. I share an amazing bond with them, and they seem sufficiently fond of me. But those are people I meet once in a while. My biggest fear is to end up being a mother who is so caught up in herself, she can't be all that her mother has been to her. It will be a shame after having such a wonderful example to follow.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why I Never Reach on Time and Cannot Face Objects Being Thrown At Me

You know how this particular category of "best-sellers" have this way of taking a certain cliché like "Why women can't drive" or "Why men can't distinguish between certain colours" and mapping it to some previously unknown statistical data, and coming to a conclusion as to how all this is entirely genetic and is in fact truer than you think! I'm sure that most of you have read at least one such book. What makes it worse is that I am also sure that most of you, while you read it, agreed with, or at least believed in, albeit resentfully, what the author was saying.

To give you an example, there is Freakonomics, where the authors make some rather controversial claims. I do not debate the authenticity of the data that the authors have collected and analyzed... not at all! What I disagree with is the manner in which they draw (or make you draw) the bridge between facts and conclusion. Almost all their work can be included in the "argument" section of the Graduate Record Examination. As the authors have said themselves, correlation is only a means of saying that one thing goes with another. What you draw out of this data depends largely on the mindset of the person who is analyzing it.

There is a part in the book, for instance, that says that a child's success in school has nothing to do with whether or not he/she is raised by a single parent. What I want to know is, how many cases have been studied, where the same child, once living with both his parents, and later living with just one, has retained his performance in school. I am sure that most of you would have, at some point of time in your childhood seen your parents fight. I remember feeling highly insecure whenever that happened. Imagine then, the insecurities of a child whose parents are divorced. I am not saying that couples should not separate. It's so much better choosing to live separate lives than fighting night and day. But that particular paragraph reeks of a certain sentiment that the authors have. In a country where the number of single parents is phenomenal, it is reassuring for such a reader to come across something that says that his child's future is as bright as anyone else's. However, at no point do the authors actually prove this by considering the same child in both circumstances. I do not completely disagree with their claim. There are a whole lot of reasons why a child may perform equally well or better. One of them may well be that he wants to prove a point, prove that he is no less than anyone else. But it would certainly be that much easier, or that less stressful, for a child to do that when he isn't insecure.

Another interesting mapping, and one I find rather strange is from "Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps". They start explaining how women not being able to drive is a result of the way they have evolved over millions of years. Men were hunters and women were gatherers. As a result of this, some senses of men grew sharper than those of women. But the basic premise is questionable. How can women be "bad drivers" when the majority of accidents on the road are caused by men; and I don't need complicated analysis of data to prove that. Notice, I am not arguing with the fact that men actually do have a sharper (whatever it's called) sense, and use their brain cells differently than women.

And so I went on arguing with people who actually believed these rather specious claims, telling them that anyone who blames their genes for tasks that can be mastered by practice (such as driving and reading maps) is just lazy and is finding an easy way out for not doing things right. But I was wrong. After careful re-examination of my habits and of those around me, I have some of my own research to put forth. I do believe that not being able to keep appointments is hereditary. It must have something to do with a malformed genetic structure, since 87.36% of the people who are not punctual have at least one parent who is not punctual. Also, being scared of objects being thrown at your face is dependent on having over-protective parents, on the basis of similar research; and since I am sure that this trait of being over-protective
must depend on your parents' genes (it must be proved in some best-seller by now), I conclude that being scared of objects being thrown at your face is a genetic phenomenon. Also the fact that I can't seem to be able to overcome these two problems however much I try, must prove irrefutably that they are congenital disorders.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

And We Call Ourselves the World's Largest Democracy

Scene I:
(The parking lot in my company. A senior and I are walking towards the office.)
Me: Did you vote?
Senior: No. You voted? Wow! I don't think my name is on the voting list. You see, I shifted from my residence in Kothrud, and my name is still on that list.
Me: So why don't you get it put on the list in your area?
Senior (looking visibly surprised): There's a procedure to do that?? I thought it would happen automatically.

Scene II:
(The living room of my cousin's house.)
Cousin: I see you have voted. I did too... dad made it compulsory for us.
Me: Yea? Who did you vote for?
Cousin: Hmm... This guy called... err... I don't remember his name- my dad told me to vote for him. But hey, that isn't the worst part! I came home this afternoon and found a leaflet saying that the dude is a murderer! Man! I can't believe I voted for a murderer!

Scene III:
(At the gymnasium.)
Gorgeous instructor: Lemme see your finger.
Me: Huh?
Gorgeous instructor: You voted?
Me: Yea.
Gorgeous instructor: Your interested in this kind of stuffs?
Me: Isn't this more like our duty as responsible citizens of the country.
Gorgeous instructor: Yea man! Cool, cool!
(I have a strong feeling that his positive response to my answer had something to do with my being the only twenty-something girl, without a paunch in the gymnasium at that point in time.)

I don't remember the name of the person I voted for either.

The only reason I remembered that the elections were on that day was because we had a party the previous night, and to our dismay it was a dry day. The man at the wine shop told us that it was because of the elections.

I remember my ninth grade physics, but I have no idea what the civics book contained, and I am guessing that I should have used more of what my civics book taught me since then.

People actually died to give us the power to choose our own leaders.

We say the government is sleeping. I guess they are not the only ones.