Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Long Tail of India

Someone emailed me after my looking at my last post, saying is this all you got on your trip. Well there is more except that I cannot sum that experience in a single post. Ok, let me try atleast.

For starters, there is something called as "The Long Tail" used in math, economics and other allied fields where applications of this phenomenon are being discovered. For example, the recent popularity of the book "The Da Vinci Code" prompted a lot of folks to look around books the subject of early christian rituals, codes and other stuff surrounding the concept. The total sales of those books would far outweigh the sales of this book alone and whats more is that there is still roonm for a new entrant. This in short is an application of the long tail phenomenon. For those who are technically inclined, the cache hit ratios in a typical proxy cache like squid can be modeled using zipf's law and accounts for most of the complexity involved in cache design considerations. Enough on that digression.Lets see where am I...

The reason this applied to India is that you can take any nice subject on India and you'll find enough exceptions to the general theory you form that they overweigh what has been said in a single context you picked and hence I think Shashi Tharoor is right in claiming that you can never talk about India in a singular sense and India has always to be dealt in plural (E Plurubus Plurum).
Anyways speaking of India, one general guideline I establish is to understand India in the context of Mahabharata. After all this epic "What is here is nowhere else; what is not here, is nowhere". Find one example that isnt there and we can debunk that claim :)

I dont need to resort to that either I can simply take a text that was earlier than that: lets take Ramayana. Now if you carefully read the original, it states some nice things which dont get mentioned in the standard textbook editions. For example, Sugriva had a fat neck, Kaikeyi had such a slender waist that it was the first thing Dasratha amazed at, Manthara has a humpback and Hanuman was very old. Why do I say this? This tendency of physical features essaying the personality of the person has presumably improved upon by the rest of the folks. My folks around me have this tendency to rate prospective girls on the basis of color, the aqulinity of the nose, etc. (Hmm..Some things havent changed since 2000 years.) Speaking of which, lets take another digression, What are the names of the wives of Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugna? So little is told to us about Shatrugna (or for that matter Nakula and Sahadeva in the other epic) that we tend to discard them as inconsequential. (BTW for the record the names of the spouses happen to be Maandavya and SrutaKirti). We know a wee bit about Lakshmana's wife Urmila having slept for the entire time of exile in sleep (Rip Van Winkle must have been her descendant).The point here being that I get to hear a lot from/about from a few popular folks and I dont get enough information about some hardly communicative fellows be it relatives, friends or acquaintacnces.

And then is the point of selective interest. I get terribly interested in some person's life but wouldnt care to hear more about some others. What does this lead to? Some acute knowledge of how a person has come to shape by and some understanding behind that persons' actions versus being clueless about some things about these fellas whom I havent followed. Sticking to the theme of mythological analogue here most people would know Jatayu as the bird whose purpose seems to be the communication of the abduction news of Sita after its wings got cut by Ravana.(Apparently tried in vain to fight him). But Jatayu has a elder brother called Sampati who burnt his wings trying to protect Jatayu from some kind of Solar Flare when Jatayu was young.Of course, Jatayu also happens to be like Jyoti Basu in that it has supposedly ruled the avian kingdom for about 60,000 years.

Finally there is this other key thing in the senseless beauty of relativity. While the Mosaic Decalogue says "Thou Shall Not Kill" or the Quereshi folks who are inclined to say "Thou Shalt Kill a infidel" ( which are both kinda absolute and global), India seems to be believe in micorpersuasion and a special kind of truth before which a personal pronoun can be attested.

Anyways I have dumped what I got,so this my friend, is the whole enchilada of my recent trip. Hope this whets your appetite :)


Anonymous said...

Man, I was wondering if Does that answer the question that you started out to answer?

I would summarise that you brushed up on ur mythology and stuff and you got to know much of some people and nothing at all with the rest.

I believe you had fun too somewhere in between.Where and doing what would be an interesting blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making the introductions with the folks at this company called 'Mahabharata'. I would rather have been better off if you had something about Sania Mirza and the like.

And as far as solar flares go, this Jatayu guy have been flying in the freaking ionosphere to get his brother's wings burnt.

In conclusion, I didn't get the part of connecting cache design with the Mahabharata..I bow you holy one!


Anonymous said...

That was more than I bargained for :))...and umm.. i'll have to read it a couple of times to get what you are saying...more on email :)

Tafosi said...

Man, I gotta go an rent "Mahabharat" and see it again.