Wicked Dreams

Every child every man holds a curse when he breathes,
burning is the soul in wicked dreams while he sleeps.

The dreams of castles with symphonies of lyre,
are just stashed with lies as I rattle in fire.

“Fist through the wall, and no wall is too tall.”
But I am always on my knees, I can’t even crawl.

“Only through the night are the stars shining bright.”
But blinded by the flares, I am already losing sight.

“Charge. Push. Blaze. And to your dreams you cruise.”
Rusted. Worn. Brazen. There are no signs, no cues.

With sweat and blood, vowed my dreams to transcend.
“Light after the tunnel”, but this road never ends.

“Fight for your fame is the theme of the game.”
But these rules frustrate, and this abyss suffocates.

Crushed in dust, again I face my wicked dream,
loud with blistering eyes, “Bring it on”, I scream.

Advertisements

A Moonlight Affair

moonlight

Waiting at the doors of dusk,
is an ocean clinging on the sand all night.
To receive a recurring visitor,
which it has known for long,
but have often lost at the sight of light.

A Moon’s Reflection is all they know,
and have ever longed and adored.
And just with its first sight,
the ocean lashes the shackles of wind,
strikes another bewitching symphony on the shores,
a glimpse with which it reveres in furor.

Like an estranged lover,
back in the familiar arms,
the Moon crawls up in the tides,
cradled by the ocean,
afloat in water’s lap.
Doomed for an eternal wait,
the ocean enjoys it’s reunion – a silverline.

Like a thump of an heart,
after uniting with another breath.
Like the last note struck by Chopin,
after which the song is finally home and we open our eyes.
Like that word in a poem,
that giggles the soul and finishes the rhyme.
The sea starts another affair with the moonlight,
yet again that night.

 

At the heart of faiths

This is a topic very close to my heart and I have been yearning to write about it for about 4 years now. The seeds for this article were sown in the summer of 2011 when I happened to meet a brilliant bunch of guys during an internship at a university and had several insightful chats about life, God and religion. And finally, I think the time is right and my thoughts are ripe enough to be penned down. Note that this is not an article about the pros and cons of any religion nor is it about deciphering the religious jargon. This article is an effort to deduce the reasoning behind the current state of affairs around us through the little knowledge that I have gathered about this subject in the last couple of years. So, if you do happen to read beyond this point, please put on your academic hat where there is little place for prejudice and preconceptions.

While growing up, most of us never have to think about making a choice about our creed or religion and it was no different for me. It was a given fact of my life and a part of my identity. And as a consequence, just like you never question the reason for having a particular name or being born at a certain place, I never really gave it a thought to what it means for me to have an association with a particular set of ideas which we term as religion. However, when we become more cognizant of the default virtues that we possess, we finally start asking the right questions. And as expected, each of my counterparts from different faiths were asking (or perhaps answering) the same questions – “Is there God?”, “Who created us?”, “How do we explain the Universe?”, “What happens after our life ends?” and the most important one for me was “What is the RIGHT way?”.

On little exploration, it seemed that everyone is arguing over the differences between faiths and hence advocating that their beliefs and their path is the right path which can lead all of us to THE truth. Despite these differences, the relieving thing was that ultimately everyone is searching for the same thing with different pseudonyms – Allah, Father, Creator or God. Most religions believe in the incarnations of the “God” referred to as the Son of God or the Messenger of God, etc. In some sense or the other, they believe that the ultimate Father/Creator had sent his messengers to Earth to educate the people about right and wrong, about the righteous path, the sins, Him, etc. Be it Krishna, Jesus or Prophet Muhammad, all of them agree on the single God whose word was carried by the messengers which finds its place in religious scriptures like Bhagwad Gita, Bible and Quran among others. But I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that only one way can be the right way to lead, that there can be only one answer to THE question. Unarguably, we all have a common Creator, hence there has to be some sort of unifying set of ideas which describes all of us and also explains the differences between different faiths. Moreover, it is just us humans who can read the scriptures of different religions and hence debate about the differences and superiority of ideas over one another, but in order to associate every living species in a single schema of things, there has to be something more to the existing religions. Hence, this question led me to explore the different religions and really look at the differences and similarities for myself.

In my short journey, I discovered that our idea of differences between religions is flawed (a personal opinion!). Also, our assumption that if at all there are differences between two religious scriptures, then only one has to be right is incorrect. For instance, in Hinduism, eating non-vegetarian food is discouraged while it is acceptable in some other religions. It is important to understand the reasons behind these differences. India was primarily an agricultural country and the livelihood of most farmers depended on cattle stock to plough the fields, etc. Hence, it became natural at that time for farmers to revere nature in form of cattle, air, rain, fire, etc. since these are the things that each farmer depends on for his or her survival. To give a contemporary analogy, it is common practice in Cricket for a Batsman to adore his bat or a student to not abuse his books. Similarly, it was very natural for Indians at that time to be vegetarians, majority of whom practised Hinduism. However, European or Arab countries being unsuitable for farming, such practices didn’t seem to relate with them. Similarly, as a practice it is acceptable to enter a Church with footwear while the same is discouraged in Temples and Mosques. And this is perhaps governed by the climates in which these religions were practised. Europe has a colder climate where being bare foot is almost impossible hence religions which have evolved there do not follow such practices. But same does not apply to Arab countries and the sub-continent, hence explaining the practice within religions which have evolved in these regions. The above examples are just a glimpse into a few minor differences which we talk about. In a broader sense, there are several such differences which make each religion unique because they were evolved within a specific demographics, in a specific culture and during a specific era in history. Therefore, having differences is inevitable.

However, there seem to be some serious ideological differences too. Most scriptures quote that their messenger have unequivocally specified that they are the only way to God and this is quoted by many followers to spot the “irreconcilable” differences. Lets just take a step back. Imagine you are teaching a child to walk. Now would you elucidate on all the possible ways to the already struggling child or would you tell him just one way to walk to you? You might choose different techniques to illustrate your point, depending on your own nature and your relationship with the child. A father would forgive the child even if he falls down a 1000 times, but a teacher might have a stricter approach, something which is typical of a student-teacher relationship. You might ask the child to take support or not take support, to take rest or not take rest, to crawl on the way to you or try again another day. Your approach will also be influenced by your lifestyle, your culture and a myriad of attributes which might differentiate your teachings to someone else’s in some other part of the world in an entirely different era. But wouldn’t you always tell him just one way to follow? The goal is to walk and reach the Father on the other side, no matter how much jargon you put in the approach to teach the child, it does not differentiate him from other children who are trying to do just the same. Some are trying on a wooden floor while some on sand, some with foot wear while some without, some fasting on the quest to learn to walk while some eating, some looking ahead at their goal 5 times a day while some on Sundays. I hope you get the essence.

Therefore, it seems that each religion is just one of the many equally valid paths to a common destination. The fact that different religions do not agree with each other (if at all) is of little significance in a broader scheme of things. But the real question which still remains – are there any unifying set of ideas which binds all the species together? I discovered the answer to this question in the ideas which are common across different faiths. It is believed across religions that the Messengers lived their lives as a normal human being, making everyday choices and decisions, tales of which have been captured in religious scriptures. In some way or the other, all religions do guide us about a way of life and teaches us about the attributes of an ideal human being. So if we can model our lives on one of the ideal lives to which we can relate the most and the one which appeals to our intellect the most, then we might just be on the right path. Shouldn’t our actions be the true parameters to judge our life instead of being judged only by the dogmas we live with?

Hence, it appears to be a much simpler world than we have construed it to be. For me, the above point of view unites people of all religions who are following a unique way to live their life based on their own culture, etc. It also creates space for atheists who are true to their actions but do not believe in any particular religious institution. And it creates space for several other species who fulfill their life purpose through their own little actions making them worthy of heaven (if any!) because it is not just reserved for humans who are the only ones privileged to read the scriptures. Given the above reasoning, I like to believe in all religions despite their contradictions. Probably this point of view might evolve in the future, but for now I find solace in the fact that despite the differences there is a sense of camaraderie which unites all of us in our journey to a common goal in our own unique way.

Not so long ago!

Not so long ago,
did we play in the same yard,
shared Paans and Hearts,
and not just from our old pack of cards.

Not so long ago,
did we sit under the shade from the same tree,
eating Gud and Moongfali,
dreaming of our lives together after fighting our way to be free.

Not so long ago,
did we both call this land our mother,
writhing in the sandalwood dust,
playing Pithoo and Kabaddi with other brothers.

Not so long ago,
did we both enjoy Sufi and Raags,
hearing the world hail us as one,
on the either side of Indus which was then unbarbed.

But, not so long ago,
did we grew so bitter,
We axed our land, our mother,
And threw apart the Tughlaqi taqiyah and Sindhi paggad.

But, not so long ago,
rose our greed for land and mountains,
that even the clouds feared to pour,
Ganga’s elixer over Pathani doors.

But, not so long ago,
we saw our children die,
be it terror in Mumbai or a school in Peshawar,
both of our hearts did cry.

But, not so long ago,
we decided to raise those kids who braved the terror,
on the same land so that on a day another,
they could paint the Himalayan snow, again, in red color.

Yet, not so far ahead, not so far ahead!
will there be another world,
tears will dry and slaughter will shy,
and for a peaceful Indus we will try.

Hindustaan

Tears to Aspire

For some its day and for some its night,
Some long to sleep, some fight to rise.
The truth and the lies are defined in our sight,
For us mortals perceive what we wish to realise.

The infinite earth and the high skies,
Yawps to humanity to read the signs,
Ask you may a traveller who often cries,
For a desert deceives him of water and a land in ocean’s tide.

On the mountains there’s a soldier guarding our nation’s pride,
And we rejoice the valor in his newest stride.
While we still walk our streets wearing ‘I LOVE NY’,
Mother land is weeping ’cause one of her sons just died.

The bizarre world of wants and needs,
To build an empire upon our greed,
Family and friends whom we never really meet,
Are we still confused in what we really seek?

Just the wealth, the riches and lavish desires,
Or a mindful sleep knitting innocent dreams?
The eyes of a child whom you left inspired,
Or a bullet for all till there is no one to scream?

The choice of life and a choice of creed,
Won’t it all shatter if there is nothing beneath?
In His woven symphony should we not just play?
‘Cause His is the last word no matter how much we pray.

Do I finally know, do I finally see,
What He is really asking me to be?
What we seek might make us bleed,
From what we hide might be the path to lead.

Look again in your heart’s desire,
For life ahead is a plaque to write.
To remain in oblivion or rise above this entire,
To touch the lives that we could just light.

How never did I long for tears as I breathe,
But for another world when I leave,
While I rise, leaving behind ash in fire
A mourning fleet in tears is all I aspire.

A Shot at Probability!

Ever since, I have not been a huge fan of probability. Although my engineering majors required me to study it in quite a depth, luckily it is not my bread and butter. The conception that is bothersome is the uncertainty of an event. It has been quite a while that I have been thinking about writing on this topic and now finally I got a chance to have a quality discussion with some brilliant friends of mine which is worth penning down. So this is my attempt to argue some of the fundamentals of probabilistic analysis which surprisingly leads to interesting speculations. The argument under scrutiny is: can things be completely and accurately deterministic and make our lives easier (or instead difficult for some)?

Let’s start with a conventional example. A coin toss (my personal favourite). I am arguing that the event of getting a heads is a deterministic event. What I am saying is that the term “probability” of an event is euphemism for our incompetence to gather the appropriate information about an event. Let me elaborate. In the coin-toss example, if I give you the exact amount of force applied to toss the coin and other environmental factors like air resistance, gravity, etc, etc, we can determine with total certainty the outcome of the toss. Hence probability seems like an un-educated guess, well at least from this example, one can state in crude terms that studying probability is the study of the degree of the lack of information about an event and its consequences.

coin_toss

So to some extent it seems convincing to me that the world behaves in deterministic ways. But that’s too narrow an example to support my case. Let’s consider another example where living beings are involved and the cause-effect relation is not so straight forward. Say there are two guys ‘A’ and ‘B’, in a fairly large setting like a college, who start walking towards a classroom. They start at exactly the same distance from the class. Now what is the “probability” of both reaching the class at the same time? If I don’t tell you anything about their speed or their age or any imaginable thing that might even remotely help you to favour one, then you would say that the probability of a person “A” reaching the class before “B” is just as good as  the probability of “B” reaching before “A”. Further on if I start to add more information about A and B to this problem, the odds start to vary. For instance, I can add the information about their starting time and the speed with which they are walking. Given an ideal world where they walk at constant speed right from their starting point to the destination, it is a 7th grader’s problem to find out the exact time they will take to reach and hence it becomes a deterministic event. In real world scenarios, obviously things are not that straight forward. One of the guys might get a cramp on the way or an asthma attack or a heat stroke. So you can argue that it is impossible to state something as convoluted as this so deterministically. But remember, my argument is that given the “entire information” about the event, one should be able to determine with exact accuracy the outcome of the event. In this case, the entire information might even include the metabolism of those two people or the stress that their muscles can endure to estimate the cramp or neurons firing in their brain during that interval of time and several other unfathomable reasons that could contribute. If we cannot think of all the reasons that might have an impact, then it is our incompetence. One can argue that this will create enormous data and it is impossible to compute the outcome, but that is not the question here. The hypothesis here assumes that we can store and process the enormous data pertinent to that event, and given all that is necessary, we should be able to completely determine an outcome of an event with absolute certainty.

Now comes the interesting part which is mind-boggling. If the above is indeed true, then the consequences are unimaginable. If we extrapolate this hypothesis, it should be possible to model everything in the universe, even our fate and future. Viewing life as an adaptive system which trains and adapts itself to all (currently infinite) inputs that form the cause of the events in the future, one should be able to determine the consequences with certainty. Again, it will definitely require infinite amount of data to solve each of our life equation because of the enormous dependencies, but the possibility of that is not what I am arguing. In fact, I believe the factors that govern the outcome of an event will always be finite since the chaos (or entropy) in the universe is a definite number at any instance, although in true sense it is ever increasing. Hence, for an event, they will converge eventually.

Our universe started with one consolidated entity. After the big bang, the space started to expand and dependencies on one another started to sprout. Now for us, sure, the dependencies are enormous, but one can trace back the dependency tree right from the starting node to the present. On this basis, it is convincing that there could be just one “master equation” with which the Gods wrote our universe and solutions to which are slowly unrolling as our lives span out. Our life events and choices are feeding the master equation with inputs which governs our fate. And because our current choices (or the inputs to the master equation) are based on our past solutions to the same equation, our acts are never ever random or non-deterministic.

Now let me stretch this a little further and throw in the ace which might break this argument, the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Succinctly, it states that the more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known at that instant, and vice versa. Although it is a quantum phenomenon, the ripples of the uncertainty will eventually spread to macroscopic world too. We can take the same example of coin-toss. Suppose I want the coin to land vertically. Even if I calculate the exact parameters that are required to make the coin land and stand vertically, there will always be a “delta” displacement of the coin’s axis from the vertical because it is impossible to determine the position of the coin with certainty while ensuring that it tosses with a certain momentum. This means there is randomness in the outcome since the coin could be inclined on either sides of the vertical axis, although that deviation would not be even visible on the macroscopic scale, but it will definitely make the coin fall on just one side which cannot be determined according to Heisenberg. But Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and several other laws are a few segments of the whole puzzle. We don’t know the whole thing yet, or referred here as the master equation. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle when viewed with the missing fragments of this equation could make things deterministic. Scientific endeavours are an attempt to find and put the missing pieces together.

Our lives, future and more, everything could have been chalked out already. All our current laws of nature, science, and humanity are our microscopic view of that universal master equation that we are all knitted to. And probably the lack of knowledge about the complete equation leads us to believe in the randomness of the events and hence their probabilities. Another question with which this discussion ends is whether finding that master equation would mean the end of human pursuits in science and nature? Would we then know everything? And whether as humans we have enough competence in figuring it out or not. And whether to figure out the “master equation” is one of the solutions of that equation or not.

Promise, for the beyond!

Years and years later,
In our minds, when the past will be a little fader.

I promise, we brothers, will sit together,
When others might also just gather.

With a cup of tea, or wine, if you prefer,
We’ll sit, beneath the shadows from the past and the lights from the future.

We will then, talk and talk, till late in the night,
Until, in our hearts, the lamps of this decade will re-ignite.

The BCs, the chats, the laughter and the people we tried to lure,
We will talk, till we can’t stop laughing, but then – we’ll laugh no more.

For the reminiscences of being strangers to brothers and then forever,
Beware my friend, years later, that might just make us cry a river.

Image

Dinner Table

Sometimes you happen to witness something so mundane but yet so disturbing that it leaves you with very few words to describe the situation. There is something invigorating about that whole thing that catches our attention and is sometimes worth giving a thought. There was something similar that I happened to witness today or atleast it was peculiar enough to provoke me to write about it. It was a Sunday eve before Diwali and me and my 3 other friends started off for dinner from our hostel while militating against the lonely roads of the college and arguing about the most insignificant things of the world. We were in a rather light mood when we entered the restaurant. We took a table of four, placed our order and amidst our usual derision of each other while waiting for food, we started inspecting our surrounding. On the right side, there was a guy sitting alone on a table for 4 but was later made to sit with another single person on a corner table, a rather rude way adopted by the restaurant to increase their business. On the left, there was a family of 6 who probably came for their weekly Sunday dinner. The close proximity of their table left us no choice but to pry over their discussion. The members of that family and their behavior during that whole time captivated the attention of all four of us, to which we all conformed after the dinner. The family had two small kids, a girl and a boy, probably 4-6 years of age, their young parents, and their grandparents. The grandmother was a thin old lady with wrinkled face, skeletal hands, oily hair and wearing an old saree. The grandfather was a spectacled man who chose to remain silent all throughout the dinner. His appearance suggested that he is a confident man whose commandment in his family has rusted with his age and it was clear that it bothered him. His silence was a choice he made to sustain the changes that he was witnessing in his family. He tried to seem occupied with the menu but that too failed to entertain him for much time. He gazed at us a couple of times (which was probably because we were noticing them too much). The grandmother (his wife) was sitting just opposite to him who seemed to understand the reason for his silence and did not need words to talk to him. Though they were sitting with their son, their daughter-in-law and their two grandchildren but their eyes uttered of solitude. The young father of the two children was a tall suave man with a dominating voice. His proactiveness in asking for the menu and his willingness to inquire about the choice of others suggested that he was the earning member in that family. He had a heavy tone, or maybe in the presence of his senile parents, his wife and two small kids, his voice sounded more domineering. The tone of the daughter-in-law commensurated with her husband’s conduct which cleared our doubt as to why there was not much channelizing of thoughts between the two generations.  It was more than apparent that the grandparents came to the city to live with their son’s family thereby giving up their village life. After a couple of minutes, we heard the first conversation between the two ladies. The mother of the small children was defending her style of raising her small kids flaunting that she belongs to an aware and more technologically equipped generation. The grandmother was pressing on the point that they should use ‘daliya’ as it is very good for kids. The father of the 2 children pitched in to say that they use a much better and nutritious food. They added that their children are much better than others who eat a lot of fast food at an early age. This was the last and the only conversation that we heard in which the grandmother cared to speak. It was as if her own upbringing of her son was being challenged with the knowledge that the young lady has acquired over Google. She was not merely suggesting some basic eating habits for her grandchildren but she somehow seemed to have a deeper motive behind her unsolicited advice – she wanted to be a part of the family only later to be deprecated by her son and daughter-in-law. In an attempt to adjust herself while shifting the small child, the grandmother bruised her elbow with the table edge. The wrinkled skin easily succumbed to the strain and bled a little. She wiped that away soon after noticing the lack of concern about her well-being. Again, the grandmother and the grandfather did not need words to empathize with each other’s situation. Their son was busy chatting with his wife while devising new tricks to get the children to eat the food. It was followed by an occasional Hi5’ves with his children as a way to celebrate that his tricks worked. The grandparents had probably got accustomed to those modern gestures since they were hardly perturbed. In a nutshell, their presence or absence would hardly make a difference in the events at that dinner table. The young man had probably spent all his childhood with his parents in the bucolic neighborhood of his village where his parents raised him. His parents got old while he moved to the city. He is modern with a beautiful wife whose charm made his mother look even older. He had a cushy job and held a tone which was condescending enough about the fact that he belonged to a modern society which is way better off than the previous generations. There was a subtle but boisterous exhibition of modernist thinking. He was unaware of the fact that his new life has distanced him from his parents but the strangers like us could easily sense it. The couple’s attitude somehow intimidated their parents who responded with their silence. The grandparents had long accepted their son’s life has long diverged from their own. It would be my incompetence if I could not portray the uncomfortable situation in which those grandparents were. There was something unsaid and yet so obvious about that whole plot which was disturbing all of us.  It is hard to captivate the whole essence of that dinner table but the tensed face of the grandfather and helpless gestures by the grandmother were screaming with a hope to claim back their son who has been engulfed by the modern society.

A walk against time

(written in 2008)

You must have stumbled across news and pictures of newly found planets and galaxies. These news are often substantiated by real pictures taken by telescopes like Hubble. So say if some planet is found to be 100 light years away from earth , then what it implies is that the photos received by the telescope are 100 years older than what the planet actually is at this very moment and we don’t really know about the ‘present’ stage of the planet or galaxy. We are looking at the planet what it was 100 years ago. That celestial body may not even exist now whose images we are getting. Interestingly, what we are actually doing is we are looking into the past of that planet.

 

What actually happens is that the rays of light which have departed, if you may, from that planet and carry the image of the planet will continue to exist and travel in the universe regardless of the source . If we obstruct the path of those rays , we get those images. Same analogy can certainly be applied to Earth also. It is definitely possible that someone is watching our past right now by receiving the rays emitted by Earth many years back . So if the rays of light emmited from our PAST PLANET bend their way back to earth after travelling long distances , then certainly we will be able to receive them today and look at our own past .

To get a feel of this idea, assume there is a mirror in the universe 5000 light years away from Earth . Now say, light rays from Earth start their journey towards the mirror right now. Essentially, these rays of light carry images about our current planet . These rays would take 5,000 years to reach the mirror and same amount of time to reach back to Earth after being reflected . So after 10,000 years from now , our future generations can view the Earth as it is now in which we are living. It is almost like viewing the past of planet earth by receiving those rays . So in a way our past is running parallel to us at the same natural pace . This method can reveal different phases of earth’s life which is still very mysterious to us . Now the only thing that seems to be little annoying in this whole discussion is the MIRROR. How can we find a mirror in the universe to reflect the light back to us and hence make it possible for us to view our past . Well, the solution to this is the phenomenon of Total Internal Reflection . If the light totally reflects back not by a mirror but by total internal reflection , then the only apparent problem is also solved . And also there is insignificant intensity loss in TIR . Also for Total Internal Reflection, the universe is the best place as there are many atmospheres (of planets ) and vacuum and gases of varying densities all around the universe. Lets view this hypothesis from a different angle . Assume a twin of yours is standing at some distance from you and you are looking at him/her and perceive some image. Now look into a mirror this time , kept at half the distance of your twin , you perceive the same image as the one of your twin . So if we can look at the images of some planet 100 light years away from us , which we are completely potential of doing at present , then we can certainly look at images of our own planet as it was 50 light years back , so there is no point of intensity loss also . There is one more interesting inference which can be derived in this thought-experiment , when you are looking into a mirror you are not looking at the ‘present you’ but you are looking at your past, though it is a very recent one, a few nanoseconds or so , but still it is your PAST.

Hypothetically, assume that light travels at the speed of few entometers per second (10 to the power 30th fraction of the usual speed of light). What would have happened then. When you would have stood in front of the mirror in your old age , then what you’ll see would be your childhood . Now with the present speed of light , assume you are standing in front of a large mirror in the universe at a large distance from you. Then if you stand in front of it when you are old , the same will happen , you will see your past , probably childhood or youth , depending on the distance. This is because the increased cellestial distance have outweighed the speed of light . Another way to put this would be that if at any time you look into that mirror , you will see everything that mirror has witnessed a long time back, and your next generations will see you no matter you exist or not at that time.

Hence, by receiving light from Earth reflected from varying distances ,we can witness different phases of earth . And if somehow we get a closer look at our planet in these images, we can possibly witness the era of dinaussors, the early age , life of christ , and the evolution of earth and human beings on it .