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.
(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 .