Friday, June 30, 2006

Mind Chow

One of the better parts of the Mumbai Mirror supplement...apart from its 'most read' section is a little corner on the page with the crossword called Mind Chow.
The thought for today:

Very nice.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tenet Nosce...know thyself.

Life, it seems to me, is a series of choices. Constantly we have to make choices and decisions…and the quality of our lives and often the direction it takes is decided by the quality of the decisions we make.

As Neo rightly guessed in the Matrix Reloaded, “ Choice. The problem is choice.”.
I have been faced with choices, often life-changing ones, and had to make the decisions by myself. Most people would prefer to leave the decision in someone else’s hands or postpone it until the decision matters no more or their hands are tied and they are forced to choose one over the other.

I failed to get into IIT through the JEE and even the GATE rank I got first time around was not enough to get me a direct admit. I kept studying , kept obsessing about it and attained Nirvana on the 29th of April this year when before I went in for a viva my mom informed me I had got a direct admit from IITM. I had been called gateguru, my hobbies apparently were limited to studying for the GATE. I even faced accusations that I judged people by their AIRs. It was a choice I had made…why?...I don’t know…it was almost an automatic one.
Maybe this exchange between Neo and Agent Smith at the end of Matrix Revolutions will shed some light…I think it is the most important exchange between them in the trilogy…I could identify with the dialogue personally.

Agent Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Yes? No? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?


The last line I think is the most significant …because I choose to.
To be able to make these choices there is need for introspection, often self-appraisal…a need to ask yourself…How good am I ? What do I really want?
Once that is done…I suppose the choices become easier to make…often automatic.
This passage from the Foutainhead is one of my favourites,one between Peter Keating and Howard Roark…
"If you want my advice, Peter," he said at last, "you’ve made a mistake already.
By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don’t you
know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"
"You see, that’s what I admire about you, Howard. You always know."
"Drop the compliments."
"But I mean it. How do you always manage to decide?"
"How can you let others decide for you?"
"But you see, I’m not sure, Howard. I’m never sure of myself. I don’t know
whether I’m as good as they all tell me I am. I wouldn’t admit that to anyone
but you. I think it’s because you’re always so sure that I..."

Friday, June 16, 2006


Ayn Rand is one author that has influenced me a lot since I have been reading her fact The Fountainhead is probably the first fiction work I have read must be December 2003. Around the time of sem 3 exam. Since then it has been a tradition to end up reading rand longer than engg textbooks in the PL.
Atlas Shrugged is a rivetting story which is similar to the conditions prevailing today as has been pointed out in a previous post. Here is a passage from this book which I always keep on my desktop tells you not to lose let go of the unjust punishments that we might be subjecting ourselves to. Studying for BE exams often seemed like self inflicted punishment and this passage often gave me hope of a better tomorrow and of finding myself in Atlantis.

"If you fail, as men have failed in their quest for a vision that should have been possible, yet has remained forever beyond their reach—if, like them, you come to think that one's highest values are not to be attained and one's greatest vision is not to be made real— don't damn this earth, as they did, don't damn existence. You have seen the Atlantis they were seeking, it is here, it exists—but one must enter it naked and alone, with no rags from the falsehoods of centuries, with the purest clarity of mind—not an innocent heart, but that which is much rarer: an intransigent mind—as one's only possession and key. You will not enter it until you learn that you do not need to convince or to conquer the world. When you learn it, you will see that through all the years of your struggle, nothing had barred you from Atlantis and there were no chains to hold you, except the chains you were willing to wear. Through all those years, that which you most wished to win was waiting for you"—he looked at her as if he were speaking to the unspoken words in her mind—"waiting as unremittingly as you were fighting, as passionately, as desperately—but with a greater certainty than yours. Go out to continue your struggle. Go on carrying unchosen burdens, taking undeserved punishment and believing that justice can be served by the offer of your own spirit to the most unjust of tortures. But in your worst and darkest moments, remember that you have seen another kind of world. Remember that you can reach it whenever you choose to see. Remember that it will be waiting and that it's real, it's possible—it's yours."
- John Galt to Dagny Taggart,Atlas Shrugged.

Consider these above words carefully...and ask yourself,"Is what I am undergoing worth the effort and the pain?". I did...and I found my answer. You find yours.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

System Restore...

I went to VJTI on 12th May to submit a form for my brother. Stood in the same serpentine queue that I stood in 5 years ago. I listened to the music being dished out on FM...and almost by coincidence, they were playing a lot of songs from 5 years ago.
DCH,Pyaar tune kya kiya and Lagaan ruled the roost.

I wondered what happened in the intervening 5 years... would I like to restore the conditions to as they were 5 years ago. System restore ,Bill Gates will have us believe,is a very useful feature in Windows XP. Maybe.
Could,or rather would, I want to restore the conditions that prevailed then? Or rather would I change the way things had shaped out in these years?

I had good PCM score,and since then my engg marks have spiralled downwards a la Fermat's method of infinite descent.
I had a tight knit group of great friends,an amazing collection of people,who in collective talent were second to no other collection of people.
I had flunked my first attempt at the JEE,but had great hopes and aspirations for my second attempt at it.
There was HOPE.

There were things I had not seen, that I have seen in these years...and experiences taken that will last a lifetime.
I lost my innocence, my photographs used to have a boyish they look world if I know the world is against me.
My smile has probably lost its freshness,though probably through overuse. I smile at everything these days(apparently)...whether I am sad or happy,enlightened or confused.
As some wise man said,"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want". Perfectly right.

These experiences, however painful, enriched me as a person. I might smile at everything but it takes a lot to make me lose my temper.
It helps as an engineering student, in the stressful moments that it causes in the lives of all of us, to remind yourself that you have been through worse.

In these 5 years, I gave up on God as an agent of the good. I don't pray except to keep someone's heart...God does not matter to me...the people I love DO. And I don’t really pray to Him…just show as if I am.

In these 5 years I spent hours upon hours questioning my ability and found that I wasn't lacking in much. I also realized that I need to prioritize my efforts. A friend had put it as "Learn to value your efforts"...are they giving you back as much as they take away from you? Is it of as much value to you as the effort it demands?
I learnt from Norbert Wiener that "If you compete with slaves, you become a slave".

In these five years I started reading fiction, Rand and Thomas Harris being the first.
I read self help books, even Christian drivel like Tough Times don't last, Tough people do. I read that and at the other end of the spectrum in the same genre I read Tuesdays with Morrie.

I found a few friends that I want to hold on to for the rest of my life. They made me realize I was only making my life worse by not letting go. I had become too much of a control freak...repressing my emotions so as not to impede my ambitions.
They let me talk to them as no one else had cared to...and I opened my heart to them as I had never cared to open to anyone else, in one case almost unknowingly.

I met people...I learnt about human behaviour. I learnt that people are not always rational ...and that only in that rarest of cases is the irrational the right way to go. My family will remember me as a hot headed, tantrum throwing friends think of me as someone who never loses his cool. Yes I have calmed down over the years...and I have also learnt to hide my emotions. So you never know how angry I am.
As a song in The MATRIX OST says I am "Calm like a Bomb".
All this happened in these 5 years.
Maybe I should start Cafe 5 years ...since A lot can happen over 5 years.

So do I want a system restore?
If one thing is allowed, absolutely...without batting an eyelid.
If that is beyond my control then I am undecided...yes life would be a lot easier (probably) but all these lessons would be lost.

So I look forward to the future, one that promises so much...happiness and undoubtedly pain as well.But then
...I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.