Thursday, October 26, 2006

Encounters

A picture hanging in the airport said:
"A point of view is the same view from a different point"

A cemetery in Bangalore:
The board at the gate read "Indian Christian Cemetery". It had glass pieces on the walls. What was that for? To keep people out of keep the dead in I wonder?

Sunjay Dutt in a TV interview after being called up in TADA court again:
"Munnabhai was a turning point in my career and the career of the country". uh?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fragility of social order

I was browsing a Time magazine the other day and reading about Dafur and Africa in general and it got me wondering about the very basic things in life that we take for granted. I walk on the streets unaware that there is an underlying social order that stops from anybody walking up to me and slapping me. Nobody thinks of simply walking into my house one day and asking me to get out of the house so that he could live there. Nobody walks into my work place and tells me that I have lost my job and he is now going to work in my place.

But this kind of atrocities happen in many parts of the world as we continue blissfully unaware that we are secure in a unspoken order that our society follows. In many a conversations people wonder why certain countries never make it out of their anarchy and chaos. More often then not most arguments hinge on that premise that if they cant help themselves then they don’t deserve any better.

One of the most common statements I have encountered is that if India and so many other countries can fight and gain their independence, why not Africa. Why does Africa look to the world for help in restructuring its society? Why can’t the people rise against injustice and help themselves? How would our society be if we were asked to create social order without a strong governing body above us?

Let us say that tomorrow the government of any stable country suddenly says, “We are done governing, you guys deal with managing yourselves”. Will we be any better than Dafur? Were we any better in New Orleans when Katrina hit the most developed country in the world? Were we any better when communal violence reigned in Mumbai and Gujrat? Or did it look any better when LA riots paralyzed the city? It takes very little for anarchy to consume us inspite of centuries of civilized living. And in most of these cases there has only been a momentary lapse in services. Then why does it surprise us that countries that have never seen proper self-governance and ravaged by war and famine for decades can never seem to bring order to their lives.

Africa will help them itself one day. But till then let the world not turn away from helping them. This is a global issue no matter where it happens. We cannot turn away from it. It is not their problem, it’s ours because one day it might come home to roost.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mathematics and I

I have had a long standing battle with mathematics. Sometimes I think a great part of where I am today is shaped by my dislike towards the subject. I sit here today and laugh at all the attempts I have made to avoid it like the plague and how it has hounded me all my life.

A below average student in my early years, neither mathematics nor any other subject for that matter evoked such strong emotions in me. I was what you would call a free spirit not tied down by the little things such as studies. I would ignore all the subjects equally and there was no deep seated hate for any one subject. I hated them all without preference.

Then eighth grade happened. I was never the competitive kind myself but in the eighth grade it was thrust upon me. I was trying to continue my indifference to education but it was not to be. For some reason without my even attempting anything in that direction I came to be in the top ten of the class. Suddenly there were adulations and everyone including my parents was calling it a miraculous turnaround. Now since all this came my way without even working for it I decided that I was not willing to let it go that easy. That started off my walk into the world of competitive education. Soon I was scoring good grades and everything was working out except for mathematics. That was one subject that just would not move out of my nightmares. I looked at math as the primary enemy that stood between me and ultimate greatness.

Then I stood at the crossroads. I was to choose my college education and without a bit of hesitation I decided to do medicine. It wasn't for the love of the profession or even the attraction of the money but simply my deep rooted hate for math that directed me towards it. But that was not to be. I ended up doing engineering and even though I made a weak attempt at avoiding math by going for computer science, the education board made sure that I had my full 16 years course of high grade vitamin math.

You would think it would end there. Not so. I had to go major in simulation for my masters and there was even more math (worse: statistics) there to deal with. Today I sit in front of my computer and wonder about the past and I cannot but smile at my failed attempts at avoiding my biggest foe. All the formulas in my code stare back at me and smile. It’s the smile of a predator at the vanquished prey. How far I am from my doctors coat and the stethoscope.

Tom Cruise stole the words right out of my mouth in "The Samurai":

"I am beset by the ironies of my life."