Friday, February 29, 2008

Advantage of Abstraction

A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
A. $1.10
B. $0.10
C. $0.05
D. $1.00
E. $0.15

Whaddya think? If you said (B) please think again.

On Such a Winter's Day..

I just got my ticket!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What Content!

Today I was looking at some old code design documents (I love archaelogical excavations of code design documents and other related stuff in general) and the following song lyrics could have captured my sentiments just in the right way:

परदे में रहने दो परदा न उठाओ
परदा जो उठ गया तो भेद खुल जाएगा
अल्लाह मेरी तौबा - अल्लाह मेरी तौबा

मेरे परदे में लाखों जलवे हें,
कैसे मुझसे नाज़र मिलोगे
जब जरा भी नाकुँब उठौंगी
याद रखना के जल ही जाओगे
परदे में रहने दो ......

हुस्न जब बेनकाब होता है
वोह समां लाजवाब होता है
ख़ुद को खुद्की ख़बर नहीं रहती -
होशवाल्ला भी होश खोता है
परदे में रहने दो ......

हाय जिसने मुझे बनाया है
वोह भी मुझको समझ न पाया है
मुझको सजदे किए हें इंसान ने
इन फरिश्तों ने सर झुकाया
परदे में रहने दो

Sorry if you dont understand Urdu. Sometimes I feel like you need to be a philologist as a prerequisite to understand anything not in your own culture.

Monday, February 25, 2008

An Unusual Book: Part 2

See how prophetic this was given the fact that the Government didnt announce the identity of the killer of Gandhi till 2 days after the murder and this conversation happens between the author and the guy who runs the caravan (the whole nation atleast was secular in its mourning):
"In a way, it was Gandhi's personal integrity which made him a target for so many criticisms, for a man cannot be a friend to everyone without also being in onesense an enemy of all"
It seems all our feelings about Gandhi are bound up with our feelings about ourselves, about our history as a people.Inspite of the errors the Mahatma might have made in his political career,he has given us more than he could ever takeaway.He has given us our pride as a nation again" .
He continued,"You have got to think of what India was in order toappreciate how we feel;you have got to remember that prior to Gandhi we were like a whole race of people ashamed of themselves. The worst crime of our conquerors was not that they stole our country's resources or the wealth of our princes. They robbed our people of their self-respect. This was the most awful thing of all. When Gandhi came we were embarassed and abject before the superiority of the British raj. As fast as they could,our leaders were becoming more British than the men who ruled the country!
He was deeply moved now.
"You cannot imagine it, but we felt out of place. In our own country out of place! As if all our traditions,our very religion were a series of errors which the Englishcould correct. 'We must make you ready for self-government,' they told us.But what they meant was'We must make you exactly like ourselves.We must give you our accent,we must ive you our outlook, and when your skin turns white, you will be ready!' And what fools ournational leaders were! They agreed, and even when they fought the British, itwasin striped pants and long coats,in parliamentary debates.They had surrendered their cause in the act ofdefending it! No wonder we felt ashamed of ourselves. No wonder we tried to learn the foreigners' language.Whole generations of our people grew up convinced our own was gibberish because our conquerors told us that.They sent politicians to change our government,missionaries to teach us whom we must worship.And so convinced were they of their superiority that gradually we began to believe in it too. Our clothes were wrong? Then we would dress like theEnglishman,even if he laughed at us and thought we were foolish. Our foods were barbaric? Even our Rajah and Durbars took to eating boiled fish and puddings.But it was never right.When we lived our own lives we were subjects of pity and condescension. And when we tried to adapt it, it was just bad,for we are never more than a poor imitation."
"And then Gandhi came! You cannot undertand..."
Then Gandhi came,and overnight this changed. He did not go to British in the coats and trousers.They came to him and he received them in his dhoti!But the best thing about it was that Gandhi had been one of them. He had gone to their schools and practiced in their courts. He had all that the West could offer our country, and he returned it and said it was not enough!Not enough.For years,generations,the white man had been almost God to thepeople of Asia.And now Gandhi has said it was not enough and had given them back the whole culture of the west
"Well, my God!...Once again we could hold up our heads; we could worship ourgods without feeling ashamed. We could aspire to something greater and moredecent than being highly paid servants of a foreign government"
He paused.
You see, Gandhi was not a politician. He was a spiritual leader,a father of his people.And the very measure of his greatness was that they were willing to follow him even when they knew he was wrong. We followed him out oflove,not conviction,really.We followed him,tolerant of temporal blunders,because we knew that without him we would not even be men,but 'coolies' and 'natives' with no choice at all ......
The Sangh is not a collection of crackpots who decided to kill Gandhi as agesture or a threat.They are the dagger arm of a well established group,established in government as wellas in the villages.They are few themselves,but their actual membership is just a quarter or a tenth
of their actual strength. The Sangh- you could squash it as you would smash a dungbeetle,but the trouble is,it would mean no more either."

Once the babus decided that Gandhi was more an enemy to their class than an ally,his death was virtually inevitable, and apprehending one group ofplotterswould not have stopped it. You have spent enough time in the villages to see how powerful the banias and Brahmins are! Can you dismiss a group as strong as this with such careless words as'foolish clowns'?"
"But not all banias and Brahmins are Sanghamites", I objected.
If they are not it is because they do not have to be" he replied."Where their power is not challenged,of course they are peaceful.But where it is-well,look around you, my friend"

I argued. "But Swamiji, if this is so obvious, then why havent othervillagers seen it? The majority, I'm convinced,think a Moslem killed Gandhi.They arent even considering the R.S.S"
Swamiji sighed."Thats true.I'm afraid,but its only becausethey have been fooled by Congress with its ridiculous doctrine that the country is united on all of the serious fundamental issues.Its a leftover from the days of the British,I suppose,when it is true that we wanted the same thing.We wanted independence,and thats as far as it went.Now we see Independence meant something different to each of us.Of course the villagers think a Moslem killed Gandhi.He is the very symbol ofuntiy of all Hindus. But now thesymbol,like the unity,is no more.Perhaps it will bring the people to their senses"

"Well, if it does," I insisted,"the Sangh will have miscalculated.""Yes." he replied. "Thats the risk they have taken. But they apparently decided that it is no longer neccesary to placate the liberals and the lower castes.For a long time their clique has made use of the Mahatma. There was much in what he stood for that supported their position. His religiosity,that was easy to use.Most of all,the Mahatma was forever cautioning against violence regardless of the justice of the cause.Better far to live virtuous and poor,he told us,than to seize what is ours by force.According to Gandhi we were to get what we wanted by appealing to the better nature of those in power.

Ahh! How the bania seized on this doctrine.It was a better protection than cannons would have been!" I was confused."You make it seem," I insisted,"that Gandhi was actually on the side of Sangh!"
"No," Swamiji corrected me, "he was not on their side, but he was on the side of nonviolenceand it amounted to the same thing"
"As you know, the upper castes are already in power.All they have to do is retaintheir position,so anyone who opposes a violent change is defending them,whether he wants or not. Of course, Gandhi wanted to bring about a change;he wanted to give the cultivator his rights.But he wanted to do it through moral persuasion,and all the banias had to do was not to be persuaded.

"But I was still dissatisfied. "Then why," I asked "should the sangh ever have decided to kill Gandhi?I should think that if all you say is true they would have had most to lose by his death"Swamiji smiled. "A few years ago what you say would have been entirely right," he agreed."That is exactly why Gandhi's death is important. It proves that the Sangh has come into its own. You see,now the Sanghamites are not going to be satisfied to assert the rights they already have.They are actually anxious to strengthen their positions,to press their abuses even further than before. They feel strong enough to do this now,and they feel they have enough backing in the government. Believe me,the meaning of Gandhi's death is that the traditional powers are taking the offensive"..."The whole machinery of the government had been built up to serve the will of some vestedinterest. Well,vested interests there were in plenty, and now it wasobvious they were making their bid.The death of gandhi? It sudeenly paled into the insignificant event it was,just one small move on the master plan that had been carefully worked out by the Mahasabha and the Sangh.Yes,as Swamiji said,Gandhi's death was inevitable once we posited the existence of the sangh.And the existence of the sangh was just as inevitable in the light of the inflexible caste structure in the villages.I began to see that the relaxation of caste might simply be a part of the breakdown of India,a function of her decadence of the last few centuries rather than the result of any progress or enlightenment.And if that were the case, it followed too logically that with the rejuvenation of the country, caste would be rejuvenated. Certainly there were those who were willing to fight for it,and apparently they were growing bolder by the hour"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

An Unusual Book: Part 1

I had this head rush of reading this 310 page non-fiction book straight from jacket to the blurb without putting it down. Interview with India is a travelogue written by John Frederick Muehl and published in 1950. One of the perks living in Boston is that you can get to buy these old and rare books (I got the first edition) easily as there are many stores in this area and a readers' market for it.

Essentially it is a travelogue where he travels through the country's villages (breathtakingly beautiful and astonishingly ugly as he says) just from independence to that of 1948 early spring. The author starts in Rajputana covering Kathiawar and proceeds on a horse to North Gujarat,South Gujarat and into Maharashtra. Finally he winds up covering the Kanara coast on foot and Tamilnad on a bullock cart where by the end of journey he collapses on his way to Kurnool because of heath exhaustion.

Firstly, he has a gift for words and his style is very similar to the one used by Naipaul India: A Wounded Civilisation as well as Rushdie in The Jaguar Smile. It was his keen perception and lovely conclusions that are the hallmark of this work. For example, he starts the book at the onset of India's Independence and the parition he describes the news-announcers of partition as : "were telling us about mass murders in the same tones they use for weather reports"

Let me sample a few lines for you to get a flavor for this highly insightful memoir:

"Whether the British had or hadnt encouraged the trouble, the British were gone. It was upto India to stop it"

"Untouchables incapable of writing their names could tell stories that would put Edgar Allan Poe to shame"

"It was the case of Germany and Jews all over again, of a racist means to an economic end, for if the sudras and harijans were directed against the moslems,the Brahmins and Vaisyas could retain their positions"

"While the British had left, their empire had not...There was a synthetic middle class that had been bred in the corruptions of an Imperial system,willing to support anyspecial interest that would allow its habitual abuses and dishonesties"

"It was as if Freedom,like an application for drivers' license, had got lost under a shuffle of official papers"

"Six months passed since Independence and Zamindars are still as secure and as powerful as they were before inspite of the fact that feudal land tenure was one of the primary arguments for Swaraj....Of course it takes years toaccomplish if you table the Zemandari act while you discuss the merits of national prohibition.Of course it takes years when the governments of provinces devote their earliest revolutionary energy to the tasks of censoring kissing scenes in theaters and outlawing the western vice of mixed dancing. It takes forever if all things take precedence over the raising of rural standard of living,if the national leaders go on a moralistic witch hunt while a third of its population is on the verge of starvation"

"And yet why should we call them leaders at all?There is no one who has less confidence in the people than they have, these khaddar-clad congressmen who never seem to tire of blaming their ineptness on the Indian masses"

"And only it was when I had abandones my self-conscious attempts that I was able to learn anything that I wanted to know"

"A roguish vanity that all Rajputs affect..Conversation is a pastime rather than a discipline where men talk for pleasure rather than enlightenment"

"Where there is money, it is hard for the banias to establish themselves"

"Halvad had a more diverse agricultural and industrial life than its present inhabitants dare to imagine"

" There was never a collapse but simply a dimunition of vitality at the center of the state.The state settled down to devouring itself. ...This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms"

"..were entitled to an explanation of anything that did not make immediate sense to them"

" the author of their poverty, that is habitual usury that is most clearly the cause of disruption of the traditional village economy.The bania encouraged the people to cultivate the tastes beyond their means,lending money that they never need to pay back the principal (rate was 40%). It was the bania who subsidized the opium additcion of the durbars so that they would relinquish even their small pretense at government and it is the banias who are most anxious that the villagers should continue their senseless competition over marriage expenses"

"the brahmins were permitted to exist because the banias have decided that it would be cheaper to buy than defeat them"

"to have plenty to eat is to be wealthy in the villages"

"It was a vacant smile that was the refinement of unhappiness, a smile that had no connection with feeling, the smile of a man who remembered an expression but had forgotten the occasions on which it was appropriate"

"..carryover value of a white face was so great,even now that there was no government to back up its authority"

"self satisfied provincialism in which the communal spirit characterstically flourishes"

"the corruption of the police and the power of banias together present an unassailable front..the basis of the relationship was more social than economic. The motives were not gain,but self-preservation"

"A congressman is a man with a great deal of money and very little sympathy,who distributes the sympathy and keeps the money!"

"Legal Panchayats were suppressed by very reason of their governmental sanction,which made them far more dangerous than otherwise to the local magistrates and police officials"

"The life of legal panchayat was short.It was inevitable that the bania should recognize it as a threat and it was just inevitable that after such recognition,they should find some means of crippling or destroying it. In the case of Bursad it was easy, After a decision that was particularly unfavorable to their interests,the challenged the judges and, purporting to have evidence of bribery and conspiracy,they brought them before the magistrate's court. Of course, in the end the charges were dismissed,but by the time the judges had been held for so long that their fields ripened and gone to seed and their families contracted enoromous debts. They were released,acquitted, but the banias had won,for after that no one would serve in the panchayat except banias themselves,who proceeded to pack its membership with those representative of them. And of course the system collapsed soon after that, for it was as corrupt as the regular magistrate's court"

"the fertility of the land itself,which permits the banias and Brahmins to live well at less cost to the villager than in poorer sections"

"It is not the weak man,but the strong man who does not fear to laugh at himself. And it is not the weak but a confident regime that knows it can tolerate such mild heresies"

"the truth is our sufferings and injustices are like maggots,generated directly out of our own decay"

"when the villagers really want justice more than they want their old traditions,then, and only then, they will get it"

"And the tragedy is this;they prefer it this way.While the Vysya will complain about the domination of the Brahmins,he will be the first to protest if his own caste is not given a privileged position over the Sudras and Harijans.What can the government do? It must gear in with the system,as rotten as it is,or impose one of its own. I have chosen the latter but sometimes I think it was a more selfish choice than the former would have been"

"And yet, he was right in insisting that it was impossible to learn some one great lesson to the exclusion of all others. He had reminded me that the issue was as complex as it seems,that no passion was an adequate substitute for knowledge.

"In the cities where you could see the statues in the parks,the remnants of the empire still seemed very real,but out here it was obvious that ther whole period of rule had rolled off India like water off a duck"

"The biggest sin of the british raj was that it was a people who knew better playing a filthy game, the rules of the game were not of their making,but had been laid down by India during the years of decline"

"Sindhi-Hindu refugees seemed far more critical of the Gujrati Hindus who were kind enough to offer their hospitality than they were of the Sindhi-Moslems who had driven them out but who were Sindhis like was clear that their loyalty was not to their race but simply to the land they had formerly inhabited"

"Even after a lapse of three centuries,would sometimes stand looking at them,scratching their heads.And the Dutchmen in turn would remain aloof,so architecturally self-satisfied and so historically absured that you began to share the wonder of the villagers and to suspect that no such people has existed

There was none of the stiff and laored classicism that confronts the observer of Western ballet; the wild emotions and the violent grimaces of the dancers were like the free and uninhibited expressions of childhood.Yet, the impression was not that of primitivism or again of a self conscious romantic orgy. The whole thing was so uniformly violent and overdone that it assumed a sort of inverted austerity,like Greek tragedy.

"this country is always in a state of unrest.."

"..half truths of their gossip and the whole cloth of their fictions.."

"Mahatma as an inoffensive old fool.In its simplest version he would appear on the stage clad in nothing but the dhoti and make well-meaning but inane and pathetic generalizations over a minature spinning wheel,which never functioned correctly.Increasing complications would finally get him hopelessly tangled in its cotton. As the act proceeded, he became more and more involved in his formless philosophies till in the end he forsook the nonviolence which he was discussing by smashing the wheel into a dozen small pieces.The villagers loved it"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tipoo's Tiger

There's this remarkable toy made for Tipoo Sultan popularly called as Tipu's Tiger and currently housed at Victoria and Albert Musuem.Its memoranda when it reached London read:

This piece of mechanism represents a royal Tyger in the act of devouring a prostrate European. There are some barrels in imitation of an Organ, within the body of the Tyger. The sounds produced by the Organ are intended to resemble the cries of a person in distress intermixed with the roar of a Tyger. The machinery is so contrived that while the Organ is playing, the hand of the European is often lifted up, to express his helpless and deplorable condition. The whole of this design was executed by Order of Tippoo Sultaun.
The object is in fact not a merely a wooden effigy but also a musical instrument and it confronts us with a number of intriguing possibilities:
(a ) Is it the memento of an actual occurence- the relic of a ghastly incident in early history
(b) Is it a royal toy designed to boost some morale in war?
(c) Only a curiosity of art-history?
(d) or does it symbolise the long-cherised hopes and national asiprations?
Given how much I like clerical language I shall go with the logbook of the library when they received this piece: "July 29th,1808. Recd. Tipoo's Musical Tiger"

Friday, February 22, 2008

Utterly Butterly Romantic

Love the lyrics of this one. Perfect for a snowy weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Gambit of Sorts

[This post isnt supposed to make sense...]

The Art of War is the modern day yuppie guide. Springing from a different part I knew my version more closely fitted the Drona Parva than the alternatives. A good dose of it came through installments of it initially trickled through Amar Chitra Katha and Chandamama which paved the way for a thorough reading later.The first rule I learnt was that you never show contempt for the opposition (because your conviction and passion of what you do right should be the driving fuel than rage against something).

Some wonder whats the use of learning such texts. One day when the time is right it would come to a great use (Ayn Rand says Value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep and "virtue" is the action by which one gains and keeps it). If you analog Corporate America to kurukshetra then you can only imagine how far these can take you. I just wanted to jot down a few notes:

In particular look how Drona masterminds the creation of a labrynthine plot like Dedalus. For he laid a Chakravyuha with himself at its Vanguard which then opened into another one called Sakatavyuha (A Wedge shaped array formation) guarded by the very brave brother of Duryodhana. If Arjuna could pass through all that (had a time constraint of finishing the mission before sunset) then he would then enter Soochyavyuha( Head of the Needle formation): This is an interesting strategy as the roster of stalwarts like Karna,Kripa, Bhurishrava, Ashwadhama, and Salya were to be passed by before you can even touch Jayadratha (who was placed at the pin point of the needle and the key person to be protected for one day)

That almost sounds like a modern day movie story. Lets look at the other side's strategy. You choose your best weapon (paasupatastra) and save it for the critical part of the mission. Then you enter the triple-formation at its weakest point (i.e the wedge formation) and mercilessly execute your operation. Once thats accomplished you are "one down! two to go " mood. Then enters your worst nemesis (in this case Drona; worst because you can never win or lose against such people) . Interestingly Arjuna still keeps fighting whereas Krishna tells him to make "forward progress" by initiating a payer and seek his blessings and rush past Drona when is about to bless (because you need to close you eyes). Now Drona cannot come chasing after you because he has to guard the entrance of the formation lest other fellows of Pandava army show up and break his outer cover (Well know strategy used by Alexander against Xerxes). Later all sorts of fundoo stuff happens. Then Satyaki enters to help and Bhima follows him and its much like any other nerve wracking,adrenalin pumping and nail biting sport

At last when they finally enter the third formation, Arjuna wants to go after Karna (they love to get at each other) but then he is promptly reminded the mission for that day was something else and tussle with Karna, while enjoyable, was not on the agenda. The key point is finally when they enter the head of the needle the sun was about to set and a rude buzzer somewhere in the world was about to beep sayin "Your time is up!" and then Krishna does something to give the illusion of sun being set (cloud cover) so that the opposition let their guard down and Arjuna takes down Jayadratha with his best weapon.You can argue a lot over this controversial point but there're a bunch of yuppie lessons to be learnt from this here.

For me, I had my share of such battles this week and our team came out winning. In sports lingo, our QB called for a hail mary and we did an absolutely amazing touchdown in the last second. Life is lived at these kinds of edges and I am raring to go after the next few ones. Forward Ho!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Of Elephants & Mice

-Dominique Ribault (French)
Professor of Mathematics, artist, Mission Laique Francaise

"Inspired by Escher and Vasarely, my artworks use recent mathematical theory about the relationships between topology and group theory. I have created tessellations involving planes, polygons, logarithmic spirals, cylinders, spheres, tori and knots for all the 19 families of plane tessellations"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

John Cleese's Pythonic Twist

This was posted way back in Dec 2004 and given that we are now electing a new president I think the contents need to be redigested lest we suffer again(And you thought India was the only country craving back the colonialists)
Dear Citizens of America,

In view of your failure to elect a competent President and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy), as from Monday next.
Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.
To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:
1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium,” and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.
2. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour’, ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix “ize” will be replaced by the suffix “ise.”
3. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’; you may elect to spell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you find you simply can’t cope with correct pronunciation.
4. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up “vocabulary”). Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.
5. There is no such thing as “US English.” We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of “-ize.”
6. You will relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out Task #1 (see above).
7. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but to be celebrated only in England. It will be called “Come-Uppance Day.”
8. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.
9. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
10. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.
11. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric immediately and without the benefit of conversion tables… Both roundabouts and metrification will help you understand the British sense of humour.
12. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling “gasoline”) - roughly $8/US per gallon. Get used to it.
13. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call french fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called “crisps.” Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with malt vinegar.
14. Waiters and waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.
15. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer,” and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as “Lager.” American brands will be referred to as “Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine,” so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
16. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors as English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” was an experience akin to having one’s ear removed with a cheese grater.
17. You will cease playing American “football.” There is only one kind of proper football; you call it “soccer”. Those of you brave enough, in time, will be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of Jessies - English slang for “Big Girls Blouse”).
18. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the “World Series” for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable and forgiven.
19. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.
20. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due, backdated to 1776.
Thank you for your co-operation.
John Cleese

Friday, February 15, 2008

YKK: Technology Adoption

In my last post I alluded to how fast one kind of technology is adopted with far more celerity than others. Its time to focus on a particular brand of technology in the past which took way more time than neccesary: that of zipper. Invented in 1893 it didnt "Cross the Chasm" till 1930 when USPS was the first customer to use that technology on its mail bags (other than WW1 use)

Anyways my post was not about how long a tech innovation gets adopted by mainstream but rather about what the heck "YKK" meant on all of my jeans. The answer was "Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha" which leads to some kind of Zen, if you know what I mean..

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Tax Man Cometh

I never had a refund during the tax season but then never had to pay back a lot either. I just did my taxes to realise that I owe Uncle Sam a lot this year thanks to my allowances (somehow I was considered "married" and hence the tax rate was less). Now that I am not married and single, I have to make up for those extra stuff. Crap! Singles are penalised way too much methinks. Anyhow, then I was thinking, am I the only guy to spend small fortunes on restaurants and bars. A little digging shows up this very insightful graph which kinda gave me an assurance that I am not way off the charts (at the same time by Indian standards I am not doing too well either). But the most beautiful part of the attached picture is to look at the "consumption of utility adoption curve". Look at Phone and Electricity took more than a few decades whereas a cellphone does the miracle in one.Whoa!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Weather Overground

I live in a city like London where people carry umbrellas all the time and whats more today was wet and squishy and the city was worse than Mumbai. The only thing worse than weather is talking about it (because we cannot do anything about it) . However, my local barista believes in the power of positive thinking and tried to cheer me up on my afternoon coffee. It worked.

After a series of coincidences I discovered today was once again a Ratha Sapthami (that tropical plant I didnt mention was the following jilledu/erukku) which meant that in future Sun is closely inching towards the northern hemisphere. This actually means things can only get better in this cold,wet,damp,soggy and broken infrastructure city. Yay! We need more sun and I look forward to the change of its direction. But then, by March I shall squarely be back home among sunny climes where I can sing the Indigo girls like:

One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing
you spread your wings and take to the sky
But until that morning there is nothing can harm you
With your daddy and mommy standing by
They are standing by, I know, don't cry

Summertime, summertime, summertime
and the living is, living is easy
Fish are, I know the fish are jumping
and cotton is so high

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Some Promise

There's this smoky and dusky voice of Carla Bruni in the background that got my attention first. It was a perfect song when I was searching for the sun and a peaceful sunday. Later, I looked it up and sure enough the cover design was, shall we say, quite enticing.

I liked the concept of the album wherein you take your favorite poems (particularly the 8-6-8 syllablic hymnals) and sing it out. Whats more, its got Yeats and Dickinson, two of my favorite poets. The chosen tracks are a little femmy but they go well with a cardamom flavored tea.

I smiled to myself at the end of the album because when the British colonised folks around the world, they imposed English as a mask of their conquest whilst their own intelligenstia and elite were treating themselves to the best of french literature. The English considered French to be cool and setting standard. Today, we see this Frenchwoman considering the Irish and American poets cool enough to sing their works.

If I were to sing a Yeats poem, I would have done the following one

The island dreams under the dawn
And great boughs drop tranquillity;
The peahens dance on a smooth lawn,
A parrot sways upon a tree,
Raging at his own image in the enamelled sea.

Here we will moor our lonely ship
And wander ever with woven hands,
Murmuring softly lip to lip,
Along the grass, along the sands,
Murmuring how far away are the unquiet lands:

How we alone of mortals are
Hid under quiet boughs apart,
While our love grows an Indian star,
A meteor of the burning heart,
One with the tide that gleams, the wings that gleam and dart,

The heavy boughs, the burnished dove
That moans and sighs a hundred days:
How when we die our shades will rove,
When eve has hushed the feathered ways,
With vapoury footsole by the water's drowsy blaze.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Of Standing Tall..

Steve Wozniak is remembered to have said the followin in relation to what he learnt from his dad

I clearly remember him telling me that engineering was the highest level of importance you could reach in the world, that someone who could make electrical devices that do something good for people takes society to a new level. He told me that as an engineer, you can change your world and change the way of life for lots and lots of people

My dad worked in a bank and the key thing I learnt from his work is that you never ever keep a customer waiting for anything (this was in a time when some of his colleagues were clearly going to tea despite the increasing customer line. The value he taught me was that the bank existed because of those customer (for banks consider the fact that loans are assets and your deposits are liabilities).I have incorporated into my value system ever since (I keep reminding our folks that our salaries are paid because our customers take out their checkbook)..
Anyways today was an especially good time for me in the sense that I was able to see through those two visions in a simultaneous manner.I shall remember the year of the rat for a long time to come. It is today I reached the original goal I set in my resume when I set out for hunting jobs: "To write software that can change people's lifestyle". Right now it is a very small group of people and in the near future it would be extended to everyone who has access to Internet.
Its such a frickin big responsibility and the weight of its discipline hangs around like the Sword of Damocles. Despite doing everything, I felt like a pregnant mom yesterday, not knowing how a launch would go. Its not without reason that people shudder live demo of any kind. Not only did the demo went well, its rapid adoption by people around it and the questions and the buzz..Huh! Finally interest by the highest echelons treating like a playground was both a relief and an extremely nervous moment. Today I lived and died quite a few times.
In the end, it was all worth it. For me, to come all the way across from the other side, not knowing if I would deliver. This is how people generate confidence in themselves, by doing things they fear the most :)


Always thought it was a hard problem for indic languages and whatever little things worked, I wasnt terribly happy with the rendering,font,anti-aliasing and stuff like that. Many people however gladly put up with it though (thats what we are known for)

Now, the search is over. I give it up to Google's Indic Transliteration.

I tested it for my native languageand you can try Tamil,Malayalam and Hindi as well.

Some random stuff that I typed in english and you can clearly see the quality of the output is pretty high (or my bar of quality is real low, you know):

మండల మేలే నొక్క ద్విజ మాత్రుడు శత్రువులు మంత్రులై రానం
నీకు ఈ కుత్సిత భావము కలుగ నేరుచున భావడుపయావుగ్యమైన నృప భారము వహింపు సఖ్యమ?
మా తాతలు నేతులు తాగేరు, మా మూతుల వాసన చూడండి

Had the guys at Telusa had this kind of utility, I can only imagine their discussions would have only deepened (on the contrary, these academics could have equally come up with their own but Google does what they do best)

Happy Chinese New Year!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Importance of Marketing

Of late, I have come to a realisation that all you need in a good tech company is Software and marketing. Your code may not be working either but thats okay as there's nothing that a brilliant marketing cannot position. Ultimately someone is gonna do a Crunchy Frog thing:

We use only the finest baby frogs, dew-picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest-quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Eliot's Masterpiece

I am amazed why The Four Quartets isnt standard syllabus material. Here it is for your nice lazed out lemon tea sipping and reading this on a hammock sunday

1. Burnt Norton (1935)

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.


Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
Ascend to summer in the tree
We move above the moving tree
In light upon the figured leaf
And hear upon the sodden floor
Below, the boarhound and the boar
Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars.
At the still point of the turning world.
Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards;
at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement.
And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.


Here is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Time before and time after.
Eructation of unhealthy souls
Into the faded air, the torpid
Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London,
Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney,
Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. Not here
Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.
Descend lower, descend only
Into the world of perpetual solitude,
World not world, but that which is not world,
Internal darkness, deprivation
And destitution of all property,
Desiccation of the world of sense,
Evacuation of the world of fancy,
Inoperancy of the world of spirit;
This is the one way, and the other
Is the same, not in movement
But abstention from movement; while the world moves
In appetency, on its metalled ways
Of time past and time future.


Time and the bell have buried the day,
The black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?
Fingers of yew be curled
Down on us? After the kingfisher's wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.
The detail of the pattern is movement,
As in the figure of the ten stairs.
Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being.
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always—
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.

2. East Coker(1940)

In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotised. In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.
In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.
Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.

What is the late November doing
With the disturbance of the spring
And creatures of the summer heat,
And snowdrops writhing under feet
And hollyhocks that aim too high
Red into grey and tumble down
Late roses filled with early snow?
Thunder rolled by the rolling stars
Simulates triumphal cars
Deployed in constellated wars
Scorpion fights against the Sun
Until the Sun and Moon go down
Comets weep and Leonids fly
Hunt the heavens and the plains
Whirled in a vortex that shall bring
The world to that destructive fire
Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.
That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory:
A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to,
Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity
And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us
Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders,
Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?
The serenity only a deliberate hebetude,
The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets
Useless in the darkness into which they peered
Or from which they turned their eyes. There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way
But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,
On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,
And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,
Risking enchantment. Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
The houses are all gone under the sea.
The dancers are all gone under the hill.

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark,
And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha
And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors,
And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.
You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.
The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.
The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.
The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

3. The Dry Salvages (1941)

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities—ever, however, implacable.
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom,
In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard,
In the smell of grapes on the autumn table,
And the evening circle in the winter gaslight.
The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land's edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale's backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.
The salt is on the briar rose,
The fog is in the fir trees.
The sea howl
And the sea yelp, are different voices
Often together heard: the whine in the rigging,
The menace and caress of wave that breaks on water,
The distant rote in the granite teeth,
And the wailing warning from the approaching headland
Are all sea voices, and the heaving groaner
Rounded homewards, and the seagull:
And under the oppression of the silent fog
The tolling bell
Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried
Ground swell, a time
Older than the time of chronometers, older
Than time counted by anxious worried women
Lying awake, calculating the future,
Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
When time stops and time is never ending;
And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning,
The bell.

Where is there an end of it, the soundless wailing,
The silent withering of autumn flowers
Dropping their petals and remaining motionless;
Where is there and end to the drifting wreckage,
The prayer of the bone on the beach, the unprayable
Prayer at the calamitous annunciation?
There is no end, but addition: the trailing
Consequence of further days and hours,
While emotion takes to itself the emotionless
Years of living among the breakage
Of what was believed in as the most reliable—
And therefore the fittest for renunciation.
There is the final addition, the failing
Pride or resentment at failing powers,
The unattached devotion which might pass for devotionless,
In a drifting boat with a slow leakage,
The silent listening to the undeniable
Clamour of the bell of the last annunciation.
Where is the end of them, the fishermen sailing
Into the wind's tail, where the fog cowers?
We cannot think of a time that is oceanless
Or of an ocean not littered with wastage
Or of a future that is not liable
Like the past, to have no destination.
We have to think of them as forever bailing,
Setting and hauling, while the North East lowers
Over shallow banks unchanging and erosionless
Or drawing their money, drying sails at dockage;
Not as making a trip that will be unpayable
For a haul that will not bear examination.
There is no end of it, the voiceless wailing,
No end to the withering of withered flowers,
To the movement of pain that is painless and motionless,
To the drift of the sea and the drifting wreckage,
The bone's prayer to Death its God. Only the hardly, barely prayable
Prayer of the one Annunciation.
It seems, as one becomes older,
That the past has another pattern, and ceases to be a mere sequence—
Or even development: the latter a partial fallacy
Encouraged by superficial notions of evolution,
Which becomes, in the popular mind, a means of disowning the past.
The moments of happiness—not the sense of well-being,
Fruition, fulfilment, security or affection,
Or even a very good dinner, but the sudden illumination—
We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness. I have said before
That the past experience revived in the meaning
Is not the experience of one life only
But of many generations—not forgetting
Something that is probably quite ineffable:
The backward look behind the assurance
Of recorded history, the backward half-look
Over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror.
Now, we come to discover that the moments of agony
(Whether, or not, due to misunderstanding,
Having hoped for the wrong things or dreaded the wrong things,
Is not in question) are likewise permanent
With such permanence as time has. We appreciate this better
In the agony of others, nearly experienced,
Involving ourselves, than in our own.
For our own past is covered by the currents of action,
But the torment of others remains an experience
Unqualified, unworn by subsequent attrition.
People change, and smile: but the agony abides.
Time the destroyer is time the preserver,
Like the river with its cargo of dead negroes, cows and chicken coops,
The bitter apple, and the bite in the apple.
And the ragged rock in the restless waters,
Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it;
On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,
In navigable weather it is always a seamark
To lay a course by: but in the sombre season
Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.

I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant—
Among other things—or one way of putting the same thing:
That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavender spray
Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret,
Pressed between yellow leaves of a book that has never been opened.
And the way up is the way down, the way forward is the way back.
You cannot face it steadily, but this thing is sure,
That time is no healer: the patient is no longer here.
When the train starts, and the passengers are settled
To fruit, periodicals and business letters
(And those who saw them off have left the platform)
Their faces relax from grief into relief,
To the sleepy rhythm of a hundred hours.
Fare forward, travellers! not escaping from the past
Into different lives, or into any future;
You are not the same people who left that station
Or who will arrive at any terminus,
While the narrowing rails slide together behind you;
And on the deck of the drumming liner
Watching the furrow that widens behind you,
You shall not think 'the past is finished'
Or 'the future is before us'.
At nightfall, in the rigging and the aerial,
Is a voice descanting (though not to the ear,
The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)
'Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;
You are not those who saw the harbour
Receding, or those who will disembark.
Here between the hither and the farther shore
While time is withdrawn, consider the future
And the past with an equal mind.
At the moment which is not of action or inaction
You can receive this: "on whatever sphere of being
The mind of a man may be intent
At the time of death"—that is the one action
(And the time of death is every moment)
Which shall fructify in the lives of others:
And do not think of the fruit of action.
Fare forward.
O voyagers, O seamen,
You who came to port, and you whose bodies
Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
Or whatever event, this is your real destination.'
So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
On the field of battle.
Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers.

Lady, whose shrine stands on the promontory,
Pray for all those who are in ships, those
Whose business has to do with fish, and
Those concerned with every lawful traffic
And those who conduct them.
Repeat a prayer also on behalf of
Women who have seen their sons or husbands
Setting forth, and not returning:
Figlia del tuo figlio,
Queen of Heaven.
Also pray for those who were in ships, and
Ended their voyage on the sand, in the sea's lips
Or in the dark throat which will not reject them
Or wherever cannot reach them the sound of the sea bell's
Perpetual angelus.

To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits,
To report the behaviour of the sea monster,
Describe the horoscope, haruspicate or scry,
Observe disease in signatures, evoke
Biography from the wrinkles of the palm
And tragedy from fingers; release omens
By sortilege, or tea leaves, riddle the inevitable
With playing cards, fiddle with pentagrams
Or barbituric acids, or dissect
The recurrent image into pre-conscious terrors—
To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usual
Pastimes and drugs, and features of the press:
And always will be, some of them especially
When there is distress of nations and perplexity
Whether on the shores of Asia, or in the Edgware Road.
Men's curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint—
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime's death in love,
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.
Here the impossible union
Of spheres of existence is actual,
Here the past and future
Are conquered, and reconciled,
Where action were otherwise movement
Of that which is only moved
And has in it no source of movement—
Driven by daemonic, chthonic
Powers. And right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realised;
Who are only undefeated
Because we have gone on trying;
We, content at the last
If our temporal reversion nourish
(Not too far from the yew-tree)
The life of significant soil.

4. Little Gidding (1942)

Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time's covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable
Zero summer?
If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world's end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.
If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

Ash on and old man's sleeve
Is all the ash the burnt roses leave.
Dust in the air suspended
Marks the place where a story ended.
Dust inbreathed was a house—
The walls, the wainscot and the mouse,
The death of hope and despair,
This is the death of air.
There are flood and drouth
Over the eyes and in the mouth,
Dead water and dead sand
Contending for the upper hand.
The parched eviscerate soil
Gapes at the vanity of toil,
Laughs without mirth.
This is the death of earth.
Water and fire succeed
The town, the pasture and the weed.
Water and fire deride
The sacrifice that we denied.
Water and fire shall rot
The marred foundations we forgot,
Of sanctuary and choir.
This is the death of water and fire.
In the uncertain hour before the morning
Near the ending of interminable night
At the recurrent end of the unending
After the dark dove with the flickering tongue
Had passed below the horizon of his homing
While the dead leaves still rattled on like tin
Over the asphalt where no other sound was
Between three districts whence the smoke arose
I met one walking, loitering and hurried
As if blown towards me like the metal leaves
Before the urban dawn wind unresisting.
And as I fixed upon the down-turned face
That pointed scrutiny with which we challenge
The first-met stranger in the waning dusk
I caught the sudden look of some dead master
Whom I had known, forgotten, half recalled
Both one and many; in the brown baked features
The eyes of a familiar compound ghost
Both intimate and unidentifiable.
So I assumed a double part, and cried
And heard another's voice cry: 'What! are you here?'
Although we were not. I was still the same,
Knowing myself yet being someone other—
And he a face still forming; yet the words sufficed
To compel the recognition they preceded.
And so, compliant to the common wind,
Too strange to each other for misunderstanding,
In concord at this intersection time
Of meeting nowhere, no before and after,
We trod the pavement in a dead patrol.
I said: 'The wonder that I feel is easy,
Yet ease is cause of wonder. Therefore speak:
I may not comprehend, may not remember.'
And he: 'I am not eager to rehearse
My thoughts and theory which you have forgotten.
These things have served their purpose: let them be.
So with your own, and pray they be forgiven
By others, as I pray you to forgive
Both bad and good. Last season's fruit is eaten
And the fullfed beast shall kick the empty pail.
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
But, as the passage now presents no hindrance
To the spirit unappeased and peregrine
Between two worlds become much like each other,
So I find words I never thought to speak
In streets I never thought I should revisit
When I left my body on a distant shore.
Since our concern was speech, and speech impelled us
To purify the dialect of the tribe
And urge the mind to aftersight and foresight,
Let me disclose the gifts reserved for age
To set a crown upon your lifetime's effort.
First, the cold friction of expiring sense
Without enchantment, offering no promise
But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit
As body and soul begin to fall asunder.
Second, the conscious impotence of rage
At human folly, and the laceration
Of laughter at what ceases to amuse.
And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of motives late revealed, and the awareness
Of things ill done and done to others' harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools' approval stings, and honour stains.
From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.'
The day was breaking. In the disfigured street
He left me, with a kind of valediction,
And faded on the blowing of the horn.

There are three conditions which often look alike
Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow:
Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment
From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference
Which resembles the others as death resembles life,
Being between two lives—unflowering, between
The live and the dead nettle. This is the use of memory:
For liberation—not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of a country
Begins as attachment to our own field of action
And comes to find that action of little importance
Though never indifferent. History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern.
Sin is Behovely, but
All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well.
If I think, again, of this place,
And of people, not wholly commendable,
Of no immediate kin or kindness,
But of some peculiar genius,
All touched by a common genius,
United in the strife which divided them;
If I think of a king at nightfall,
Of three men, and more, on the scaffold
And a few who died forgotten
In other places, here and abroad,
And of one who died blind and quiet
Why should we celebrate
These dead men more than the dying?
It is not to ring the bell backward
Nor is it an incantation
To summon the spectre of a Rose.
We cannot revive old factions
We cannot restore old policies
Or follow an antique drum.
These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party.
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.

The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre of pyre—
To be redeemed from fire by fire.
Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.