Wednesday, March 31, 2021

3211 : Can meaning emerge out of seemingly nothing ?

Re reading GEB Godel Escher Bach after 26 whole years and totally loving it 
More coming soon.

3210 : Cancel

I was listening to Balaji and he brought out the point that the "cancel" culture is possibly a frivolous representation of what is the purge in China or Russia.

Made me think again on this topic.

I have canceled people (Pablo Neruda). I have been canceled (What!! Yes I have been!! I have arrived - though on the wrong boat!!).

I think "cancel" is an easy (less intellectually rigorous) response to a possible unwarranted social behavior. Let's say, I like to walk on the beach nude. (Just make it up folks!!). Should I be canceled for it? Possibly.

But before that - should not someone examine what makes me believe walking nude is a good idea? What possibly mental construct (or social understanding) is going wrong in my head? 

Also just because I walk nude on a beach, if I could somehow be reformed (I hope I can be), would you miss out on the fab python programming that I can bring to the table (which is possibly true :-))?

My point is - where is the nuance in this?

In my defense, I could not bring nuance to Pablo Neruda - since I don't know him and he is long dead. But if he was alive and I could somehow reach him - then my lesson is - he deserves a hear. He absolutely does (just as Harvey Weinstein did......which means every person is entitled to a proper defense, and of course, if the crime is agreed and established, then proper sentencing).

Cancel - is about short-circuiting this process of due diligence completely.

I am bloody going to get trolled for this :-)

3209 : Truths

I am controversial in the sense that I like to challenge my own biases, so I do think Trump was onto a few truths (in the million barrage of nonsense). I also think he (unfortunately) made these insights about himself. What worries me - most of us - including me, could not separate the person, the personality and the idea he was espousing. At least, I definitely did not.

What if Modiji is similar to Trump? What if he is addressing a collective hurt that upper-caste Hindus carry (similar to Trump addressing white souther Americans)?

What if Modiji is truly onto some truths? I am telling myself - I am possibly losing that message because I am possibly unable to separate the idea from the man.

I don't mean this post in sarcasm - I truly ask myself what if he is seeing something? How do I see what he sees - I might or might not reject that final understanding.

3208 : I miss

I miss full-throated debates, the ones full of intellectual rigor (or even passion which can be a healthy substitute). I miss not being able to beat another person (hopefully a friend) down as we debate on the state of the future.

I miss a long chat into the night, as we focus on the intellectual victory and finishing the peated bottle, instead of worrying about workday tomo, or the other everyday nuisances.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

3207 : Am I allowed to cry?

This came in via Prof Sabnis on Twitter 

It's such a fab moving read. It makes me want to write. Write a lot. Write regularly.

I love the sentence " "Inns are not residences".

3206 : The future is here, its just not evenly distributed

I was listening to Balaji talking (the Balaji of course!!), and he was saying that the future is here, and its just not evenly distributed.

I broadly agree. It's a cool statement.

But I also believe that the future will fork us further. The ones who have the privilege (whatever limited) will fork out towards the future. The ones without basic equity will scramble for equity.

If that's indeed how it pans out, then life as we know it is headed for a very rough run.

Will we have more ghettos, but a privileged ghetto? Will we a district 9/pretoria kind of regime?

We might right - think about it.

I in my current avatar with my bells, whistles, and good luck - am allowed to contemplate on the future (and I have a view). There is a large section that might not be able to indulge in this.


3205 : Physics (and now maths and AI)

Understanding physics, maths, AI, buddhism, history - all of them - the more you invest- the more they teach you a way to ask the right questions. About life, about living and about purpose.

Add poetry to that list too :-)

3204 : Organic life

Organic life is only so much about you as a collection of cells, of a meta feature called "consciousness" and then a bundle of thoughts, ideas and some contributions to the immediate world around you.

I have been immensely meditating on this for years, and the futility of this - and perverseness of a sudden end called "death". 

There could be many meanings to our life. Including as some say "winning at the game" (I am not a big proponent of it), or "kindness" (I like that idea), or leaving the world better than you found it (I like that immensely too), or leaving books or a blog (like this) so that you can still permeate (via a secondary image) for some more time - and hopefully in that extended time - you make a few more improvements in the world.

I am not sure at all. 

:-) That vague dangle is my post for today.

3203 : The biggest disadvantage I might have.....

I might have just bestowed on our young children (both my own as well to those who I am a Godfather to)......the biggest disadvantage.....that I did not move to the US when I could.

I never craved the money....and I love my city and possibly my country.

As I am growing older though, I am recognizing that food and culture matter - absolutely (and my reasons for loving my city) - but the real thing that matters is the subculture. 

The subculture of intellectual thought, of freedom, of respect, of understanding, and respect.

Or of the academic and the rigor associated with it.

That's (not moving when I could) is definitely a regret that I have. 

I don't have ambition for my children, but I want them to rise above the everyday banality. In my city, they could easily devolve into that.

A wing and a prayer :-).

3202 : Talking about a revolution

I learned from Twitter that it's Tracy Chapman's bday and she is magical on both Fast Car and Talking about a revolution....though I will always love the latter more.

Monday, March 29, 2021

3201 : Right now Twitter is busy lecturing

On the merits between veg and meat.
It's fun to see privilege at work. 
Loving it. 

(It's one thing to debate, to open a chat, it's another to be pedantic....and being pedantic is the privilege)

3200 : I am an idiot

I have feuded with folks in my past. Some for no good reason, save my own anger (which is nothing but a stupider version of insecurity).

And then, I have connected with these folks back again - once I have realized the folly of my own idiocy.

I was talking to one such person today. And he said something very simple in the context of everyday talking, that he values "personal intellectual freedom" over money or "status".

I have been grappling with this push-pull forever. But with the affirmative clarity and nonchalance that he said it, in the context of me pushing a possible "status" deal to him - made me flinch....and at that moment taught me a simple life lesson.

Freedom is all that matters.

Thank you dear friend.

3199 : Intellectual giants

When I see/read/listen to the intellectual giants of today's time (like Max Tegmark, or Musk, or Peter Thiel, or Scott Adams, or Balaji S, or Eric Weinstein, or even someone like Dalai Lama).....I am so humbled and littled.....

They are so smart, so effusive, such strong analytical skills. I tell myself, I want to be like them, and one day I hope to race along their swim lane.

Also - a lot of these giants muck up your mind - they challenge your notions - like Eric helped me question my own implementation of fkall "cancel culture" or Thiel helped me see why my opinion on Modi/Trump might be plainly wrong.

Recognize an honest intellectual for her ability to put facts in front of you, and muck up your mind.

Unlike an idiot Godmen who will say mumbo jumbo that sounds esoteric, these giants will throw a truck full of facts at you and get you all confused (in a good constructive manner)

3198 : The more I know, the less I know....

Continuing from the previous post - I am now very sure that there is very little I know of the world around me. 

The world is very high in the order of complexity and it's easy to simplify it (or reduce it) - maybe it's an evolutionary bias in our head.

There is joy in understanding the world around us.

All it requires is an open mind, investment, and some good books or friends or content.

I am humbled by how much I don't know. 

3197 : To eat meat or not...

This debate (meditation) has been at my heart for over two decades and I must admit that I vacillate, and I don't have a great answer in either direction. The more I dig into food chains (and supply chains), the lesser I know.

Today one person on Twitter (watched Seaspiracy) and then went on to lecture the rest of Twitter about sentient beings, non-violence, how Jains are fit, the carbon footprint of meat, why milk is also not ok (but allowed), and the rest of the ilk.

These are superficial arguments, and if I were, to be honest - a bucket full of nonsense. Every single of the arguments can be debunked if vigorously investigated.

Am I advocating meat? Not really. I don't have a stand. I wish I had one.

But I know what I don't know.

If I had to choose between the evils of grains (agriculture grains and lentils) vs the evils of meat - I would probably choose meat.

In any intellectual debate, I have learned to have an open starting position, but one has to have the hunger and desire to know more. To recognize that what we know is not enough.

Confront your biases. It's incredibly hard, but one immensely rewarding journey. 

3196 : Mein Khayal Hoon....Jagjit Singh vs NFAK

This song is one of my favorites, though one of the rare occasions where I choose the Jagjit version any day over Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

And spotify tells me there is a Mehdi Hassan version which I am listening to Bhairavi Thaat :-).

Sunday, March 28, 2021

3195 : Meat

I don't eat much meat but I eat tons of eggs and fish oil.
That makes me a rudderless hypocrite on the ethics slide.

3195 : Why resolve, why closure?

I am a big believer in closure. I try and close (and confront) on even small things. I sincerely try.

To me it makes sense. Life is short. Resolve, move ahead, maybe you never talk again, but at least you know you tried. 

With every single of my broken journeys, I am clear in my head - I tried.


When post an initial effort, I either see the argument going nowhere, or worse, if I see that it is difficult to resolve (let's say one of us is extremely defensive, we can never resolve with that condition).......I eventually do give up. And this becomes one of my blackboxes.

I failed once in my job (of course I have!!), failed big.

I never really got to know the reason I fully failed (as per others) despite serious interrogation. Of course, I introspected and now I know about 8 possible reasons - I fked up.

But it would have been good to know the other side. I would love to hear it.

It's just one more blackbox. Now I live in a graveyard of blackboxes :-)

3194 : Shitty weekend

I had an extremely shitty weekend. I was bothered by the opened black box.

A black box is more like a superposition. You don't know what's inside, and in most cases as physicists say - it because you are not either asking the right question, or your not measuring for an answer which is expected.

You are measuring for an answer which is not expected. Let me give an example.

About 10 years ago, two friends of mine (both fairly dear) stopped talking to me. Since then one of them is back on absolute talking terms, but the other just avoids me like I am the plague (and I can be, I know that!!).

With both of these, I tried resolving. I sincerely tried. Long notes, long phone chats, and lengthy dinner meals (with drinks of course!!).

No avail.

With both of them - I still have no foggy idea of how I tripped them. No idea. And about 7 years ago, I stopped trying to find the answer.

This is the perfect black box. The question I am asking is "how did I piss you off?", probably a good question, but I will never know. I am measuring/expecting them to tell me a single instance or a thing where I failed them. Maybe they just discovered that I was two-faced....(which according to me, I am not....but maybe they saw something which made them believe it). Now the "two-face" bit I am not measuring for.

Coming back, my weekend was shitty. Someone opened a black-box for me. And with me comes a sea of uncomfortable memories. I don't know how to resolve it. Don't know at all.

I am lost. I am humbled. And yet I am also broken.

3193 : Shape of you (I mean me)

Your shape is a culmination of your failures.

Thats the post.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

3192 : #41 by Dave Matthews Band

If you like Jazz, you must absolutely listen to #41 by Dave Matthews Band.

If you want to know what jazz improvisation looks like - this is the song. It descends into complete mad chaos in the middle of the journey, before recovering in the last parts for pure magical bliss. 

Version to search on Spotify 

1. DMB Europe 2009 21 min version.

2. Live at Wrigley Field, Chicago

Play it on a well-balanced soundstage (treble, tweeter, woofer). And sing along loud if you want to :-)

I swear by now I am playing time

I against my troubles

I am coming slow but speeding

Do you wish a dance and while I am in

In the front

The play on time is won......

3191 : The dreaming tree has died

I have posted on this a million times. Listen to DMB's The dreaming tree has died.

Read these lines and be mesmerized by the poetry.

Standing here
The old man said to me
Long before these crowded streets
Here stood my dreaming tree
Below it he would sit
For hours at a time
Now progress takes away
What forever took to find
And now he's falling hard
He feels the falling dark
How he longs to be
Beneath his dreaming tree
Conquered fear to climb
A moment froze in time
When the girl who first he kissed
Promised him she'd be his
Remembered mother's words
There beneath the tree
No matter what the world
You'll always be my baby
Mommy come quick
The dreaming tree has died
The air is growing thick
A fear he cannot hide
The dreaming tree has died

3190 : Demons

I have this friend, who I probably talk to once in a few months. He is insanely brilliant and unbelievably creative. And yet, his brain is a chemical soup on the loose. 

He struggles with his own demons. He has never been diagnosed with depression. He is easily one of the most brilliant minds I know of.

I have come to recognize that maybe its this chemical soup that makes him so outstanding. Yet, he struggles to fit in. This world is no place for those who pet demons.

I sometimes in my very weak days, have a glimpse of what it might be to like him every single day. And I dread it. 

This world used to fit in all shapes. Over time it loves only the round pegs. The squares don't seem to fit in anymore. 

I have seen what great looks like. I also think on the other side of this greatness - lies an army of demons, waiting to be unleashed.

3189 : The weak charade

I have a lot of black boxes. As a Buddhist would say, these are areas/memories that I actively try and forget. And today someone reminded me of something from one of the boxes. And I was totally broken for most of the day.

It's almost like someone ripped a bandaid off a fresh wound. Just that the wound is not evens supposed to be fresh.

It's a path of eggshells. And there goes my charade of being a Buddhist.

Friday, March 26, 2021

3188 : Ghazab ka din.....

I don't know of a single person from my generation who does not love the song "Ghazab ka din...." from QSQT.

There is something so magical about the way the simple song is constructed. 

It's simple, it's fun, and it always will remind us that life can be uncomplicated (at least maybe only in the movies....)

It's a movie which I can watch anytime again. So many things went right - great music, lyrics (by Majrooh Sultanpuri), fab actors making their debut.....a completely relatable story (for most parts). It was a dream debut.

3187 : The past (and the present)

 ‘Maazi Ko Maazi Rehne De’  from Katra Katra Ijazat.

3186 : Kabhi mein kahoon...from Lamhe

There is something basic, and extremely happy about listening to Kabhi mein kahoon and its operatic nature (Shiv Hari). Lata didi sings sublimely.....the poetry is spot on.

The song always makes me happy. Very happy. 

....ek doosre see yehi kehte rehain.....

...chalte rehain, udte rehain, behatein rehain..... 

3185 : Who am I really?

I am a Twitter fan. Recent love from the past 12 months.

I love Twitter, because most of the players in the room are not afraid of revealing who they really are  - I mean not in terms of identity, but their thought and mind construction.

Almost everyone wears their heart on their sleeve.....and most of us are deplorable. Which probably includes me. The real me is deplorable.

I love podcasts even more. An even more recent love :-).

In podcasts, esp some which are based on a chatty form, the hosts and the guests are not afraid to show their real dents and weaknesses. Especially weakness.

So many folks I adore (and admire) - seem to be so broken.

It's almost as if, creativity does not work unless your brain is a push-pull of chemicals gone wrong.

It gives me immense reassurance. I too shall find my North. One day.

3184 : I am convinced.....

I am convinced, that wealth and power bring hubris. 

Of course, I don't crave wealth. Power sounds exciting though :-)))

My deep-seated worry is, I am susceptible to hubris as well.

And that is not a pretty thought.

3183 : Show me a mid-aged biker.....and.....

I shall show you a person who is different than the median.

I don't know of a single serious mid-aged biker who fits the norm.

A 40 year old who drives a Ducati Scrambler cannot be under the normal curve.

Image from Car and bike

3182 : Dress maketh the man

Show me a differently dressed person (despite the means to be a conformist), and I will probably bet that he is a different thinker.

I want to be like this man. Like his style immensely. I like him immensely as a person too (the little I know of him).

Image from NYTimes.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

3181 : Writing

I struggle to write two good paras (other than work) a day. I require immense silence, peace, stability (as they say in hindi santulan).

And now I know a few folks who I have just got introduced to (who have written books). Actually 3 of them....and I wonder what their routines are like.

Do they have a silent room? Do they tell their family to shut up :-)? Do they mute themselves on zoom calls and turn the volume to zero :)?

Give me the courage and strength to be able to write. I need to write to be sane.

3180 : My day ends

I am feeling so spaced out. Long days at work.

I want to learn more. I want to spend more time learning, but I end up doing a lot of execution work.

This post ends.

3179 : The level of discourse

The level of discourse in Twitterverse is abysmal. It really is. To see our politicians and their ilk - talk and say things - makes me wonder - when, where, and how did we lose the plot.

Not just to blame the politicians..... 19-year-old fools are rushing in. They are vicious. 

I will never understand indignation. 

Indignation is the easiest way to shut me up, and off.

I use Twitter to learn science, programming, and of course books. Love the new ideas - but nonsense does creep into my TL every now and then, and I know if a person's one post is nonsense, it's a good chance, he (has to be a he) is a full-blown ass.

I use the mute/block button incessantly on twitter.

3178 : What is life?

Naval (of Ravikant) fame thinks it's a game, but the only way to move to the next level (or be free of it) is to win at this level.

That makes little to no sense to me. That's groupthink. Or worse it's belief in a black box. He might as well call the game "God".

I am still not sure. Actually, I am not even scratching the surface. It's a polished surface and I chew my nails :-), so still at level 0.

I look at people around me. I look at my friends, I look at my family. I look at a sample population on Twitter.

And I really go "Is this it?". "That's all?"

I feel the need for friends, I feel the need for company. I feel the need for a talk. I definitely want a drink. 

I can understand my books. I can understand my music. My programming. Learning math (and loving it). I can understand my drink. 

But I still make zero sense of this "game". 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

3177 : The reductionists

I am on Twitter, and I see these aunties and uncles screaming something to this effect

"I went to the hospi today. (Gulp for air to fuel the indignation further). And WTF, the nurses were not wearing masks. And I (yes the self-important shithole that I am), I screamed and created a ruckus. I brought the house down. Then finally only the nurse who was to administer the vaccine to me, wore her mask.

How insensitive of the nurse?......and the blah blah blah.

What does it take for all of us to wear a mask.?"

Get the drift. This is pure undiluted indignation. It's also being full of yourself. Most importantly it shows how dumbass you are.

Do masks help? Of course. Should we all mask up? Yes. But it's similar to any truism, that all of us should belt up while driving, all of us should follow lane discipline, all of should never have our kids stand up from the moon roof, all of us should never fwd idiotic WhatsApp.........

Get the drift. It's a guideline (masking I mean). An important one.

But if it's a question of life and death, the mask is not going to save you. It's statistical insurance, not a real one.

And yes, do request the nurse to wear a mask. But scream? and why the indignation? 

What have we become?

3176 : Arturo Sandoval (Feat Arianna Grande and Pharell Williams)

 Here is an experiment - put this song on a system with a good woofer. Turn it up.

And if the most stiff-legged amongst us don't want to groove, I shall be surprised. This is one of the hippiest (and trippiest) songs that I have ever heard.

Hip hop and Jazz at its best.

 (I have posted twice on this before).

3175 : Bob Dylan Master's of war (though I like the Eddie Vedder version)

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When you death takes it's toll
All the money you made
Won't ever buy back your soul

3174 : True for me : happy melancholy (Came in via twitter)

"I'm not really a happy person. It's a question of temperament. I have a tendency toward melancholy. You can feel quite happily melancholic." 

      ~ Michael Haneke 1942

3173 : Eh Pinky

I heard about someone named Pinky today and my wicked brain went along this tongue twister (original):

Pink Pinky colored her little Pinky, Pinky Pink

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

3172 : Dunbar number

 My Dunbar Number is less than 10. Is that sustainable?

3171 : It will probably be me

I was reading a tweet which was something to the effect (below):

If people start remembering (or noticing) things that they feel they have been wronged for/against and stop doing the same or consciously avoid the same, then the world would improve one step at a time.

The actual tweet is at 

I have often meditated on this. And I don't think individuals use personal setbacks or painful experiences to shape their own response to the world.

Let's say you have been unfairly terminated. Or you have just been dumped in a long-term relationship. Or you have lost a near and dear one due to bureaucracy at a hospital.

In all of these, there is immense pain. This pain has possibly hit you hard. Now, do you internalize this and explore a journey into awareness in terms of how you can improve your own situation? Or do you externalize and blame the world around you for the mess you are in?

In the latter (which could for all practical purposes true), you end up changing very little in yourself. In the former, you can probably transform yourself. Probably.

Let's take another example. I hate going to DMVs and RTOs. They are the cesspit of human inefficiency, bureaucracy and corruption. Now what I hate there is the callous way I am treated there. I am no one. They make me feel like a statistic. I come back to the office (and say I work at a hospital). There is a case, where the emergency patient needs a 20% discount because that's all she can afford. Instead of pulling all stops and working to see if I can help her get into the hospi, I tell her (and her family) that there is no way we can do a discount. I show them our policy book. No discounts ever. I am treating them like shit. They are a plain simple statistic.

One more example. I write to my CEO with a brilliant innovation idea. He does not respond.  I don't even know whether he has read my mail. I also run a 1000 people team. Someone in my team writes to me, and I don't respond either. I don't care to respond.

In all of these examples, I am doing unto others, the very experiences which make me very unhappy. Why would do that?

For the record - I still respond to every mail (of course sometimes 10 days later, but still I do). It's a huge cost, but I do it.

All I am saying is, this problem of inductive pain and happiness is a very chain problem. The only way to break this is, if you break it.

Break the chain !!. Today.

Monday, March 22, 2021

3170 : Anti democracy

 I am a liberal (in my beliefs), but I find twitter's liberals strange. They rant and raze Modiji. That makes no sense to me.

They make fun of his English or drama. Again makes no sense to me.

He is playing to the gallery. And his constituency loves him. They not only love him, but they love Amitbhai and the whole gang.

The question is - who elected them?


How much did they corner (vote share)? 

Possibly around 30%

Are they the largest constituency? 

Yes. That's my belief.

My point is, they are the legitimate leaders of this country. Just like Biden is, Stalin was and Imran Khan is.

If we disagree we need to disagree on policies - not with him - but with our fellow countrymen. Start a new journal or blog or newspaper.

If we disagree we can do it with ideas - but not by ridiculing him as a person or his English or his attire or his peacocks. Light-hearted fun or standup is perfectly fine. Let's do a Jon Stewart on him. But doing a vitriol-based indignant attack - is truly weird and makes all of us as humans smaller.

He is democratically elected, and he deserves our respect. He will always have my respect.

I disagree with most of his policies, but I also recognize that I am in no position to influence him or even my own family.

Hence I choose to remain apolitical.

Finally, if we still feel Modiji is a mistake - then question the democratic setup and its machinations. I'll give an analogy. Don't question the winner of The Super Mario game......question the game. No sense in questioning a skilled winner.

3169 : How much of our behavior is driven by paranoia and insecurity?

Pretty much looks like all of it.

Especially in the modern world. We might not have much to pause, assimilate and work forward towards.

If we analyze the world closely, even close friends and relationships are driven by this.

I wonder why? I wonder when and how did we come this far?

3168 : Strange world of twitter

Twitter is bizarre.

People will ask a question, but will not follow up when you answer. This will be a deep question. Like why do you think "high kurtosis in student data happens?"

You answer - hope for engagement.....and there is radio silence. 

I find it weird and over a period of time figure these are wannabes right. Even if they are super popular. These are the folks I might never be able to work with.

And then, there are the other ones - who will talk to you, engage with you - but never ever follow you back. They have 3000 followers. Why don't they find me interesting?

The second one (above) I can still rationalize. The first set is easily the noisy scum of twitter. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

3167 : Lack of understanding

 I have started reading history. Ian Kershaw's Hitler is an outstanding read.

But Goring, too, he thought would have difficulties with the foreign-exchange and raw-materials issue, point out "he does not understand too much about it".

It was not necessary that he did. His role was to throw around his considerable wwright, force the pace, bring a sense of urgency into play, make things happen. "He brings the energy. Whether he has the economic know-how and experience as well? Who knows? Anyway, he'll do plenty of bragging" was Goebbel's assessment.

3166 : The only hero in every dream

 I have started reading history. Ian Kershaw's Hitler is an outstanding read.

Hitler, snigging another chance to enhance his image through the major announcement of a "Four Year Plan" was unwilling as ever to concede the star role. He decided to deliver the key speech himself. 

3165 : Challenge an outcome

 I have started reading history. Ian Kershaw's Hitler is an outstanding read.

The refusal of the Spanish Right to accept the narrow victory of the left-wing Popular Front in the elections of Feb 1936 had left Spain teeerting on the brink of civil war. 

3164 : Surprise Element

I have started reading history. Ian Kershaw's Hitler is an outstanding read.

The Economics Minister himself was not shown a copy of the memorandum, and in fact, only heard as late as 2nd September of Hitler's intention to proclaim a new economic policy at the Reich Party Rally.

3163 : Trademark move

 I have started reading history. Ian Kershaw's Hitler is an outstanding read.

The bold forward move (Flucht nach vorse), Hitler's trademark, was, therefore, intrinsic to Nazism itself.

3162 : 1000 year old culture

 I have started reading history. Ian Kershaw's Hitler is an outstanding read.

Wholly detached from the practical considerations of day-to-day politics, he held out a breathtaking vision of German grandeur, power, and dominance enshrined in heroic art and architecture which would monumentalize Teutonic cultural achievements for the next 1000 years. "The building for a temple" for "a true and eternal German Art".

3161 : How to manufacture a mood

 I have started reading history. Ian Kershaw's Hitler is an outstanding read.

The 'manufacture of a popular mood hostile to Jews' and the deployment of illegal "excesses" - mob violence, which was seen as particularly effective - were recommended. By autumn, the climate was becoming more hostile than ever for the Jewish population.

3160 : My fav dad (and mom)

We were growing up in a lower-income household. We were stretched. We had food, we had a small home. So we were ok in that sense, but for education, for kids,for vacations - we were constrained.

As I grew up, we rarely ever ate out and every time we asked something of our parents, we were unfortunately told a "no".

And then I have this memory.

I must have been seven. I distinctly remember my dad's and mom's clothes. We were somewhere in South India. It's a temple with steps. (Checked later with mom, its Palani)

So dad, mom, and I (where is the other brat? - he was definitely not with us) climb up to the temple. We then climb down (post the obeisance) and then at the bottom of the hill - dad, mom and I decided to eat late lunch. 

Must have been around 2-3. As we were eating, towards the end, I politely told my mom - that I wish we had bought a drum (a toy percussion drum). A local dholak.

She asked, " you want it?"

I vigorously nodded "yes"

She said, " then why did not you ask before".

I sheepishly replied, " I thought you would say no."

The shops were at the top of the hill near the temple. Below (where we were there were just restaurants).

She looked at dad, and asked him in Tamil - "Can we get him one?"

Dad (usually was stern and very formal), smiled and said, " Of course".

He was a fast eater, had finished his meal. He walked back to the top to get me the drum. And he came back after about 10-15 mins.

Mom and I had finished our lunch. 

I was so happy. So happy.

That's the story.

My mom and dad, were not very educated, nor do I have a great intellectual relationship with them - then and now....but I truly adore what they did for us. They gave so much so that we could have.

I have immense gratitude for them many times a day. They are what makes me what I am today. Take a bow :-)

Friday, March 19, 2021

3159: The virus situation is made strangely worrisome

I believe we are missing good quality credible data and then follow it up and with good quality analytics.
We are dancing around the fire.

3158 : Someone wrote to me

Thinks that my meditation on privilege is a first world problem.
I totally agree. Had no defense.

His point is people like him, who in his own words are "gainfully employed" (he is in a successful startup) - don't have time to while away in these idyllic tribulations.

He comes from privilege himself and is very well to do.

Me agreed. I am indeed loitering.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

3157 : Violence

The other thing (in addition to power) which fascinates me is - is this whole notion of violence, and how ingrained it is into our lives.

When we kill animals to eat, when we eat antibiotics, when we burn down farms, when we spray insecticide, when we do genocide, when we push people to boundaries, when we discriminate between humans, when we discriminate with other living beings, when we do the more obvious violent things like rape and murder......violence is so fundamental to our construct.

And it is normalized. We normalize how we treat animals, other humans, and plants. We are ok with known forms of violence. 

Every single thing/activity I touch is full of violence. Power and violence are two fundamental constructs on the base of which we have built our modern lives.

3156 : Absurd

Someone young (relatively) died.

Feel awkward. Like the handmade soap that does not tolerate rains.

And yet, your heart mourns a bit. Not just because you are confronted with your own morality (that too), but more so because you see such a meaningless to this dance around us.

And when I see someone talk about "ripped jeans" today. It really feels absurd. Politics, morality, and free will aside.

This is how we are as a society. We focus on the process. Not happiness. We focus on "my way". Not happiness.

This is how we are in our homes. We focus on the process. Not happiness. We focus on "my way". Not happiness.

3155 : Ray Bradbury There will come soft rains

This came via Twitter (Thanks to Prof Gaurav Sabnis :-)).

I had not read this story. I read it and was quite genuinely moved. It's essentially a story where all the humans have long gone, but systems are working - tick tock tick tock. It's eerily calming and eerily frightening. If you have read Rama from Arthur C Clarke.

It's in that territory.

While this is metaphorical and allegorical, the real tryst could still come calling.

The powers to be could still come one day for each of us. Today they seem to be attacking the "others". But one day, they will come for us. Just like how the society crept towards decrepitude during Hitler's Germany. There is every chance we in our wisdom will look at ourselves as better. 

And in that same wisdom (or lack of it), we might lose the humility and the plot.

I am afraid of the future, but I also know that humans can survive a lot of difficult conditions. There is Viktor Frankl who gave us that hope.

I hope I have that strength.

Somehow Ray Bradbury's story got me into this rabbit hole. It triggered me.

3154 : Drinking

I realized I am constantly either drinking tea or coffee. That is my hydration.

I just found a great brand of a fab tea collection. And I can't just get enough of it.

Even my office colleagues (when we worked at location), though I was forever dunked on something.

I do love my poisons.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

3153 : Paranoid me

 I spend about 30-60 mins on Twitter every day. That's my news feed and learning feed.

Almost every single young person's role model is another 30 yr, old founder. No one (if ever) looks up to a 40-year-old, unless we are talking exceptions like Musk.

There are not enough 40-year-olds on twitter who are thought leaders.

My time. My watch. Water runs dry.

3152 : She hates it, she loves it :-)

She detested prawns, and my daughter loves them.

Life is indeed a full circle.

A prawn is also almost a circle.

3151 : Political

 As I am growing older, I am beginning to realize the world around me is deeply political. A fact that is conveniently hidden by my privilege (I mean that it is political...that is the fact I am referring to)

What fascinates me is less about political beliefs (which also interest me, but less than what I am saying next), also sometimes less about machinations, but my real fascination is around the dance of power and how it completely captivates humans.

I recognize how power also shapes our domestic lives. Our relationship with our children, our spouses, our siblings, our friends, our parents.....every single thing has this little interplay happening.

And unless you are aware of it, and work hard to diffuse it - (why diffuse? because I don't want my daughter and me bound by power dynamics.....that's not what I wish on me or her) - even if you work hard to diffuse it, its an immensely deep rabbit hole.

All my living life I have avoided history because I see little or no value in it. Since 2017 I have started reading more history. I want to know what drives leaders to do more or less in a particular direction.

Usually, I still stay away from opinions, because I know how little I know. I am still learning. And the few times I do take an opinion, it's not to castigate a leader or a party or a group.... it usually to dig deeper and know more.

I love to discuss politics, but being almost unsocial is not a great place to start.

One day, I will :-)

3150 : In 50 years...

From now, most of who are reading this, including me (who is writing this)....we shall all be gone. 

Without a trace. 

I cannot reconcile that. Just cannot.

And if that is indeed the end, then do I want to do so much mental gymnastics? Learn so many skills. Fall in love with poetry. Fall in love with writing, music, programming......

Should we instead do what the Zen folks do. Nothing.

In the end, it won't matter. This futility is debilitating. 

3149 : What is it about men, by Amy Winehouse

I have posted on this before. Listen to Amy Winehouse sing "What is it about men?", - specific version - Northsea Jazz Festival (I know it's on Spotify and not on Apple Music).

I love music, but if I had to choose my top 5 songs in my life. This one would definitely find a mention. I can listen to this on repeat 1000 times. 

And she looks stunning in the video (not in the link below, but from her biopic documentary).

Addictive and loopy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

3148 : Loved this photograph

What does it take for me to feel joy like this. This is immense envy for me :-). Sometimes this almost feels like an alien emotion, right? Esp in our daily drivel.

Smiling :-).

3147 : Privilege

 Have been meditating deeply about the concept of privilege. 

For two reasons

1) To better understand it philosophically.

2) To become aware of it, and hence recognize it and be deeply grateful for it.

As I have contemplated more and more - there is a simple answer that I am zoning in - 

"what is a privilege"

Privilege is believing that "I" came from a baseline background (say middle class...or black....just an example), and "I" worked my ass off to make the most of it. And coincidentally, "I" think I did better than most others in the sample set. Also, it assumes that the ones who are still "driving me around" (in India we are famous for looking down on chauffeurs), are the ones who did not work hard enough or take every opportunity that came along their way.

Couple this basic definition of privilege (or the lack of understanding of it), and cocktail it with "luck and opportunity" (both having it, or the lack of it) and we have our "poison" on hand.

3146 : The blue dot

Physics is fab in teaching us how little we are (statistically) significant to our universe, to the multitude of universes, and ironically even at the smallest microcosms of sub-atomic quantum.

We are totally out of our depth.

And we fight battles, we make friends, we vilify politics.

The summary is - read physics. As much as you can.

Monday, March 15, 2021

3145 : I was hearing a podcast

A posthumous one (as in the host is now posthumous).....and something he said in the middle struck me as very poignant.

He basically said, that sometimes we just drift away - conversations die - and then before you know we are not talking anymore.

To put it in context, this person was an idealist, a fun-loving person, and probably had over 1000 friends. He was specifically rueing someone loss - which he alluded to in abstraction.

Wonder how much such loss do I carry? I have a total of fewer than 10 friends. (Yeah, I am a tail end batsman :-))

3144 : I am an ear phone aficionado (or so I like to believe)

 Here is an experiment. Pick any regular earphone. My regular every day is Marshall 4090940.

I love them. 

Great for calls, great for regular classical music.

And then......

:-) :-)

Do this experiment. Play either "Dirty Diana" or "Smooth Criminal" - both MJ (Michael Jackson numbers).

Listen to this song on your regular earphone.

And then switch to something very affordable :-)))) Sennheiser Urbanite.

And be blown away by the apparent distinct difference in the soundstage.

The difference to your experience a good earphone can make.

Case Rests.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

3143 : Advice to my daughter

 There are only three skills that matter in this world.

Math. Physics. And Great writing.

Other skills build on these skills.

Thats the post.

3142 : I am recognizing....

That my love for the stand out Feynman, or Eric Weinstein, or Michael Malice, or Joe Rogan, or Elon Musk, or Tegmark (Max) comes from my deep seated love to accept them for their flaws, but see that within that, lies their unbridled greatness.

When Peter Thiel votes Red, it jars, but what makes him human, is that he is willing to stake all of his personal cred for a value he upholds. And I am sure if I were to go into an intellectual battle with Thiel, he would crush me in about 5 mins.

Or when a Musk borders on the Red, there is so much thought behind this.

These are my heroes. I will hold them on a pedestal, unless they did something really evil, like a rape or a cold-blooded murder. Other than that, especially their public views, though so different than mine, make me adore them a little more.

3141 : Most of modern life....

 I love watching other people. Not in a creepy way, but in a Seinfeld sort of way. I love to imagine what the wife is telling the husband as they are walking. What so engaging that she is trying to make him see.

Or when two friends on a dinner table are heated debating. Or even more (as in more than 2). It's fun. You can start predicting people, their views, and if the dinner is more than a decent time (say an hr) you can even predict their values. 

I often bet about this with whoever is on my table. And the bet is on something measurably. Like when they leave (the other table), the girl in the center won't look at the server in the eye and thank him/her. In all probability, she won't thank them at all.

And I usually win. And I enjoy this voyeurism. It makes me more tuned to the games I probably play myself with others.

The entire modern world is built on selling, posturing, and not being yourself. There are very few places where you are allowed to be yourself. Or you allow yourself to be yourself :-).

And that bothers me. I like a few podcasts exactly because the people on the show are being themselves to a large degree. Broken, unstable, and yet brilliant.

I recognize my own brokenness....I also recognize my love for life. My almost unfettered love of life.

As I often say, I don't want to die. Never. Ever.

3140 : The polarization

 One of the things that intrigue me about our lives is polarized the "average" human being has become in the past few years. Both in the US and India.

And the more I investigate, the more I read, my suspicion is almost confirmed, that social media is fuelling this fire.

Social media eases "friction" (its an illusion all the same) in two ways:

1) Dishes our pop summary and hence makes it easier to make you feel that you have understood your subject.

2) Reaction is just 140 chars away.

The ease of reaction brings the worst of our innate instincts. The "lower version of ourselves". We unleash it, without realizing it, that that social media is now a reflection of how flawed I am/we are.

The like button and if someone also added a thumbs down button - is all we need to opine on a complex nuanced, context-rich topic.

3139 : Picture Perfect

You see some folks and they are picture-perfect. The cynic in me sometimes thinks, that that is just the sheen and the real closet is dirty.

Over years, I have come to see that some of us are more naturally fun and more naturally purpose-driven.

I am probably the latter (purpose-driven), but way away from "fun".

I see how friends are still best of friends after years. I see how couples are couples after years. Makes me yearn. And yet, I know, it's me who is the barrier.

I am my own dam.

On a related note, I want to be a good father....and sometimes not being able to do that, gives me a few sweaty nights.

3138 : The space between

When you talk to someone and you know there is a slight undercurrent - sometimes that is anger, sometimes it's competition, and sometimes it just the simple ability to accept the other person for what she/he is.

I usually try and disarm the person by confronting this either in jest or over a real coffee. Once it worked fabulously, most times it works, but sometimes - it just does not.

The tension remains, so does the undercurrent. 

And I always tell myself what a waste of this "possibility".

Saturday, March 13, 2021

3137 : Space and degrees of freedom

I was talking to a friend and was explaining to her my concept of space. I am a true-blooded libertine. I believe personal space and freedom (as long as it does not infringe) are sacrosanct and sublime. 

And every single time - either in personal relationships or at work - if I feel my personal space is either being compromised or cramped up - I then default to space, that is way minimum.

Like if I see a person vacillate between conflicts. E.g. Today please don't eat prawns, because my faith won't allow - and tomo lets eat lobsters because they look yum. I can't do either - because I struggle with how my choice of prawns impact you....but I love you....and if it bothers you sometimes - I will respect you - but I find it hard to balance it this way - I would rather not eat prawns at all.

Sounds totalitarian and sounds absolute, but you see the challenge....I am struggling with..... it's hard for me to juggle my choices based on my "second-guessing" your mood of the day.

I prefer to eliminate conflict from my life, both personal and work. And I will choose either the entire expanse of space or the bare minimum I need.

Those are the only two modes I know how to operate.

3136 : One life

There is so much good work happening all around us. I mean really earth-changing, life changing positive work.

I currently work for a firm, that does some of that. More importantly, it does not anything negative. I can't say the same for some of my past employers. 

I do wonder what would life would have been - had someone met my 20 years old and advised me to work towards a more purposeful career.

Rue it sometimes.

3135 : Physics

The more physics I read, the less I seem to know.

Of course I am stumped by the complex interactions as defined by quarks/bosons etc :-)

And the crazy math.

And the God Equation which is forever elusive.

If there is one piece of advice I will give to my daughter - be a physics major.....its open the best rides out there.

3134 : Version of oneself

 It takes very little for our "best" version of ourselves to erode. The veneer over us (or over me) is very thin. Just a small scratch (metaphorically) can start an avalanche of a downward spiral.

One scratch and the rot starts. I have seen in this myself - and I am horrified at times - what I see under the veneer. I have of course seen this in the best of my colleagues and friends.

Of course, the challenge, once you have seen you cannot unsee.

This means, now that I know of the demons inside me, it's hard not to be a little wary of the slide. 

This is what murderers and killers probably allude to - when they say "don't know what came over me", their insides were exposed and they have did not moats to defend against their own insides. 

I can see my everyday version. I have sometimes seen what I can descend into. The variation is huge and it's scary. I believe it's a constant struggle to ensure that the descent never happens. Ever.

Friday, March 12, 2021

3133 : Optionality

Was speaking to a dear friend of mine, who is at an epoch of a possible life event. Here in a nutshell is her dilemma. She is good with an option she already has in her back pocket (call it Option A), an option that is more easily understood and more easily in grasp. 

There is Option B calling out to her (and presenting itself on a plate). 

The thing is Option B is way more sexier than Option A. 

She though rightly believes that Option A is the right for her, it's understated, is simple, and has a better chance at peace and happiness.

Her question to me - should she even entertain Option B?

There are 3 more steps before Option B becomes a reality. Let's say an entrance exam, followed by an interview, followed by getting the specialization you want (just making this example up).

My point is Option A is your pocket - why not go ahead with the process of Option B and give it your best shot. You can always choose to forgo it even after getting the specialization you want. 

Essentially I call this optionality. The ability to leave the decision till the edge, beyond which its becomes ethically unsound to keep the decision at bay. 

It's a simple mind hack, but if you choose optionality, then you don't close your life to any new developments (or data points). For example - if she never gives the entrance exam, she will never know that along with the specialization admission - they are also giving a lifetime supply of Jim Beam (my bourbon :-) hee hee).

And maybe that Jim Beam is a deal clincher for her. Maybe. 

Let's take the other decision path, she gets the specialization, but no other positive surprises. She can still choose Option A and walk away. All she would have invested in the effort to write the entrance exam - which is nothing but cerebral exercise - all good. 

The key thing in life (or so I have learned) is to delay decisions as long as you can. Unless there is an explicitly announced reward for deciding early (like a special edition car color as an example). People change, our minds change, Options change, our life events change.......

So that's on this.....

Of course on a related topic, if she decides to take Option A - knowing Option B is sexier, she is passing the modified version of the marshmallow test with flying colors. She will have that inner strength to always guide her.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

3132 : Fragility 2

Also when a moment like the "previous post" happens with us (or when it happened with me), I could not rationalize it in my head. I could not tell myself - call it what it was  - essentially a "failure".

Instead, you go into a massive spiral of self-doubt, self-loath (not much in my case), and a spiral of deep silence (which I never recovered fully from), in spite of many many years that have passed by since then.

"Friends" (or who you think are friends), zone off....and it hurts. Immensely. Of course, as you gather the ropes (and I was immensely lucky both times to have a line and sinker thrown at me), you do start a slow process of recovery.

In most cases (at least in my case), you come back 2-3x stronger, wiser, and more humble. Fragility is your best teacher. It teaches you that Buddhism is true :-).

I am today immensely grateful for every one of my "real" friends today. They have seen the worst side of me (the Godzilla in me!!), and they have lent me a hand, a shoulder, and most often an ear.

I am glad for the experience but honestly would never wish it on anyone. Not even my enemies (I don't have any - I really don't, I mean it!!).

3131 : Fragility

One concept in life that always pulls me in - is how fragile not just our life is, but the entire construct of modern living is too.

Take as an example - Rajat Sharma (yes, the astute + possibly infamous Mckinsey leader). He is and always was a hero, for all that he achieved. I don't mean to condone his sins, he has always denied it fully....but I am not a judge either to opine on that.

Irrespective of his crime (which is clearly a white-collar financial crime), I think the past before that was outstanding. Was something that only some of us everyday soldiers can ever hope to that. That sort of a run is the equivalent of scoring 20 runs per over for over 50 overs. Of course, then at the end of it there is a possible shadow that you also had piece of metal in your bat. Possible.

The post is about fragility. We let one single mistake, take away all good from a person. Wiped clean. Khattam shud. We deal in binaries. Also, I distinguish between a white-collar crime and let's say a rape. Both are crimes, but one is an act of selfishness for money, and the other is a selfish act full of violence. Also in the latter, there is enough feedback, someone hopefully is telling you/reminding you that you should not be committing such a crime.

Versus if I see a wallet and am tempted to steal a 20USD bill, it's still wrong, but no one is reminding me that there is a possible price to pay, more importantly, that it's an ethical breach.

Get the drift?

One mistake, one strike, and your life is down. All hands on deck. I have faced it twice myself. In my case, the second time, it was not even a real mistake - it was a "failure". (Of course, I have failed....who says I am immune :-)). The first time it was a "mistake". (Mea culpa!!)

(Second time) In my case, it was compounded by my own hubris. "I cannot but score a "century" in every innings". Today when I look back - the "failure" was necessary, but a very expensive price to pay for my jack and jill moment. 

I lost a lot of my cred, especially in that little incestuous circle, I also lost friends or those who I counted as friends. 

Today many years later, I have "real" friends, I have a much much better career, much better physical and mental heath - but I often ponder - if this is the world which my daughter is getting into - she has my genes, she will pay a price too - one day....and the fragility of that day (I might not see it), humbles me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

3130 : Ravages of modern life

As I look back on my own posts in this blog, I realize how much I sometimes struggle with keeping the facade up. It does not mean I broadly struggle with life - but instead - it means I am ravaged by the microcosm.

And that battle with the every day takes a deep toll. Not in a way of being waylaid or lost, but in the sense, it's battle weariness. 

And I don't know if I am the only one. Am I special? As Elon Musk describes himself.

(I don't for a minute conflate his superpowers with my limited skills...but more around the comment of him feeling "tormented", him worrying that his brain will feels like that on most days. So much to do, and so much of "switching".)

For whatever reason - my "magical" brain has started singing (in its cranium)

You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You're so fuckin' special

From Creep. What a time to be alive :-)

3129 : Listening to Eddie Vedder

Singing in my background is like salve to a singed sheet.

I can listen to Eddie Vedder all day. He and Chris Cornell. 

Together even better.

3128 : Existential dreams

Today I have almost not worked. 

Slept for over 8 hrs during the day. I was possibly a little ill. And yet.....

I miss the peace of a drink. I miss the solitude of the alcohol and the in-between rhymes.

I also sometimes lose the mojo, like today I did. I know tomo will be another day. And I will hammer and tong again. I know I will.

Today is the day of the doubting Thomas. (preferably a Syrian Mallu, some of my best friends are them!!).

And tomo will be another day.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

3127 : Intimacy of diagreements

 There is a strange intimacy to eating with someone else. Even if this other person say is, your partner, or a close enough, say family. The dynamics of eating get more complicated if you both eat "different". Let's say you like vegan, and she likes meat, except prawns.

Now this meal - is a slow dance around also what can, and cannot be at the meal. Of course, a straight shooter would tell me - just let her be, you focus on your meal.

But nothing in life is that simple and obvious, right?

Its almost like saying, I love lungis and she loves sarees.....let her be. Of course, I will let her be. And yet, we are dancing around the edges of what could be either a great shared experience or on the other hand, could be a treacherous experience. Even amongst partners, right? Still not making sense, am I?

Let me lend a different perspective. To be open to welcome another's habits and excesses, you need to be able to understand him/her at a very fundamental motivation level. Like I have this friend who loves Japanese single malt. I love drinking with her, because she is on a higher plane, and I act like a "sink", love learning from her.

And on the other hand, my closest friend hates prawns, and with her and her rules, I feel like I am tip-toeing around a WWII landmine. Though she is closer to me than the single malt friend. 

The difference between the two - is simple. I fundamentally understand my free-spirited single malt friend. She is possibly less close and dear to me (if I could make that subjective yardstick count).

The prawn friend, on the other hand, is like my alter ego, but I just don't understand her rules, her ego trips, and her ability to make a simple meal into a slow dance ritual. 

Do I wish it would get better with lady prawn? Yes, sometimes. 

Also on really introspective days - I wonder - is it a land mine - because I too carry enough "prawns" (and the possible land mines) within my multitudes too? Don't answer - I know the answer and it shames me.

3126 : Mortality 2

On certain days as I contemplate renowned folks who I respect (like Dennis Ritchie, Buddha, Feynman....and have a long list).....I often wonder is life more than a game console....where is the only game in town that is to do as much as you can....but when your 3 lives (or 1 life in our example) are over.....we all go back into the runtime. 

Extinguished, remembered by some other objects for some time - who are holding "lazy" references to you ("lazy" means a link which is no longer active....but the holder does not know it) some cases we still refer to the cached version.....

But eventually, the person and her memory is gone.

It's a depressing thought but really bothers me immensely. On some days, if not all.

Monday, March 08, 2021

3125 : Mortality

Someone in the family is dying. Or in the process of the last stages. She is struggling immensely. And everyone I know is working frenetically to extend her life. 

To be fair, she is not on a ventilator or equivalent, but she does not want to live anymore too. She wants to reduce her food (I mean the individual in this case), and voluntarily slide into weakness which shall eventually mean imminent death.

Folks around here, are averse to let her exercise this choice. They believe (and probably rightly so), that this would mean a very painful end.

But.....and I just building a decision tree. It's possible she fasts and she eventually dies a painful death in about 10 days, versus she has lived a very painful life for about 4 years already and she might continue to live out for another 4. 

Who decides, and how?

When I am the subject, in a similar situation - who should be allowed to decide? No matter how senile or old I become?

Very difficult ethical questions.

Also, today, as I contemplated on a hero (Dennis Ritchie from the Kernighan Ritchie fame - folks who wrote the C compiler) - and contributed hugely to present-day computer science......I realized that no matter how/who and what they achieved....we all die. And we are all forgotten. 

It's very ephemeral. And yes, at times it's like staring into meaningless vacuity.

On days like today, after a 10 hr workday, I find it very hard to find meaning in this journey. Of course, it's one-off, of course, tomorrow the sun will rise again.

All I need is a drink and the desperate need to take the edge off. But even that is a symptom in this modern world that some systems in "our head" have broken down.

Final cuss or die or live or call out our hypocrisy or not?

Ethically challenged me.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

3124 : Physical silence

Then there are weeks like this, wherein I have not spoken extensively (more than 3 mins) to anyone (from outside) for a non-work-related context. Is it usual? I don't know. Is it good for my mental health? I don't know.

Work. Silence. Work. Silence. Repeat. 

Saturday, March 06, 2021

3123 : Listening to Farida Khannum


Mere hum nawas mere nawa

Mujhe dost banke dagha na de.....

And my Saturday is shining like a neutron star. Bust but still shining all the way down. 

Below is the Begun Akthar version.

3122 : The marathon milestone

Every now and then, I get completely stumped by a ritual or a practice from real life.

Today's peeve (not really, more dumbfounded wonder) is around this mail which hits you sometimes - it goes something like this. 

"I am going to be running the Boston Marathon. I support 'Cats deserve to have a sauna foundation' or something to that effect. My goal is to raise 2000 USD. Please contribute generously.......and blah.....blah...."

I have rarely given money to an initiative ever. Not because I am stingy. The real reason is I don't understand this at all. Makes no sense to me. Ever.

You are running?

The Boston Marathon?

You are supporting "Cats deserve to have a sauna foundation"?

You want to raise 2000 USD?

You are posting on email, Twitter, Instagram?

This makes no sense at many levels. First of all, these are not connected activities. This seems like misplaced marketing. You love cats and their sauna. I don't have empathy for cats, and even if I do, I don't like them having a sauna. And even if I support the sauna, why are you killing me with this?

Usually my general belief - is that there is enough philanthropy money floating around. Its deploying them that is a challenge. So if you did want to run, and raise money, at least support a direct individual cause. Like my "friend Amit is suffering from cancer. He needs 2000 USD, can we help him." 

And this can be done irrespective of your running? Why bring your ego battles into this good cause?

This misplaced product placement does nothing for me. 

I am in all possibility loathe to judge you as very "superficial".

And that's my rant for this weekend.

3121 : The lonely monkey

I pushed myself extra hard at the gym today. On some days, you just survive on adrenaline.

From where I stand (in the gym) I have a clear view of a hospital. It's a beautiful piece of architecture (by Hafeez Contractor no less).

And usually, I am privy to someone dangling from the roof cleaning windows, which is a hugely vicarious sight, as he (its a he) dangles from what is the equivalent of a 15-floor tower.

On the edges and arches that prop the building's external beauty, you often see a murder of crows, and a flock of pigeons, assembled in some deep existential debate.

And this is what I see usually for the past few months.

And then today, I also see a lonely monkey (amongst the birds), in all probability lost and waylaid from the hills in the backdrop. He(or maybe she) struggled for a good 15 minutes walking along the ledge (a frill border at the center of the building).

He (she) walked the entire stretch (about 200 meters) multiple times, hands-free (magical they walk on a ledge which is less than 6 inches)......something a human could never ever do.

He walked for a good 15 minutes, before he disappeared to the other side of the building, away from my sight. I wanted him to find the hill again. I wanted him to win.

The lonely monkey who hopefully made it.

Friday, March 05, 2021

3120 : And she never....

She never ate prawns. Faith would not allow.

Here I am pulling the tail off a prawn. The world had come a full circle. Just like the tail.

3119 : Why would you take the money?

 She asked me angrily, "Why would you take the money? Why?"

I did not answer, but the words of my fav author ran in my head. I was silent, but my head was filled with "One day I will also take the dollars. Not for the money. For the pleasure of being a whore. "

3118 : The one who got waylaid

 As a non-believer, I don't believe in prayer or rituals. And when my friend says "Insha Allah", I feel a tinge of envy. She is honoring a belief that she holds dear to her heart. 

She has lived a tough life, but her heart is strong like that of a tiger. She told me many years ago, that the "Lord" watches her back.

I smiled sheepishly and told her, that this was "nothing but a catch all".

Instead of convincing me, or even pushing back, she lovingly held my elbow and smiled, "One day". That's all. With a touch of finality, it was "one day".

I almost wanted her to argue, to defend....wanted to drag her into a mental fistfight, where I would quote physics from my high chair and she would give me her "blind faith", and the righteous bastard in me would smirk. But that never happened. "One day".

I met her recently after years. Both of us are older. Much older. I am not wiser, but I am hoping more inclusive. I always envied her faith, but now I craved for it too.

As we were sipping coffee, she told me, "You have changed". And I smiled and asked her "how is that?". "More mellow" she said. 

"For the better?"

"Possibly", and she smiled benevolently. And then as an afterthought, added "You were always rooted, always letting the other person be.".....and another thought later, "you can be mean, but never mean-spirited. You are Allah's little soldier."

She is my age, or slightly younger, but I felt like she was mothering me, and I mean that in a very good way. I smiled awkwardly. I strangely found immense comfort in being "Allah's little soldier".

We spoke about books, music, poetry for some time. As we approached our second cup of coffee, she stared deep into the black liquid and muttered, with a tear in her eye, "Dad's gone."

I felt like I had hit a brick wall. Her dad was an inspiration always. I learned a lot of my poetry from him. At least my love for the verse.

After a pause, I asked, "How?". 

She said, "Pneumonia". And then added, "I was with him before he went on the ventilator and never recovered. One of the last things he said was, 'I am not sure of Jannat'.But on this earth life was fun."

And then we veered to talk about other things. A little more lighter.

As she prepared to head back, she hugged me tightly. She told me, "He loved you for the son he never had. He wanted you to have his copy of the Quran. He instructed me specifically on this. Will you have it? I know you don't believe in anything. But for him, will you do this for him?"

I said, overwhelmed with emotion. "You are right, I believe in nothing, including life itself. Nothing is sacrosanct, but I shall do this for you, for him, for the Allah."

After a pause, as she handed me a small cloth bag (which contained his book), I added, "One day. And today is as good as one day. I love you. One day".

We walked out of the coffee shop, hand in hand, one sure of her faith, and the other sure of exactly the same.....her faith.

3117 : Have been reading tons on AI

 And the more I read, the lesser I know.

I feel like a kid who is in KG, but has aspirations to give the math olympiad.

I mean that analogy is apt.

3116 : This is the end

 This is the end of the innocence.

Arm chair warriors often fail.....

Don Henley

Thursday, March 04, 2021

3115 : My world....

 As I became more and more aware of the political landscape around me....what I see on twitter/social media immensely bothers me. I feel broken. Totally.

And on days like today, I realize that 2nd law of thermodynamics always works - unless we put a serious effort to drive order, entropy in a system will keep increasing.

3114 : Immense sense of needing a break

 I have been working for the past 7-9 weeks through weekends. Its somewhat crushing. Its easy to hope for adrenaline to keep you going.

I have a strange situation. Which might actually not be that unusual. Work is piling up on me :-).

And if I take a break, I know I will have to come back and do it myself.

So the work wont disappear.

Life sometimes feels like a blur.

Not complaining. Yet.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

3113 : Agha Shahid Ali (my fav poet of all time)

Dedicated to the ones that I never call, but hold immensely dear to me.

I flipped through their visions,

left my number in their sleep.

But no one called back.

I called all night,

called for years,

called till their lids began to ring,

ten, twenty, two hundred times,

and then they went blind

on my dreams.

Now their eyes don't open.

No one picks up the phone.

― Agha Shahid Ali, The Veiled Suite: The Collected Poems

3112 : Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson

 After years I am listening to MJ. He was part of my artiste ban (my conflating the art and the artist conundrum).

The guitar riff at the start has to be one of the addictive. A slow drag against an equally lazy chord. 

Just sets the song up so beautifully.

MJ and his producers (Quincy Jones) were the masters of a crisp composition.

Almost every song of his has an addictive bar.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

3111 : Contradiction

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman 

3110 : Megalomaniac

I first heard this term in my early teens and was captivated by it. Remember laughing for hours with my brother, that such possible people exist.

And then life decides you are the joke.

3109 : I have a dream

That one day my daughter and I will have a relationship like Eric and Zev Weinstein. There is something utterly adorable about how each of them is constructed and how their relationship is too.

On a day like today, when I realize that I am probably a megalomaniac too.....reaching the (above) ideal is almost asking a person without legs to climb Everest.

But hard to give up on the magic that Eric and Zev have.

That's the post.