Wednesday, August 26, 2009


There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries…and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Solitaire Mystery

Finished this book last friday and once in a while when a book ends you are tinged with a certain feeling that's best echoed by our Seshappan Iyer (the bard of avon for others):

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, 
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on
, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

-Prospero, Act 4 Scene 1

ps: notes to self, you are not supposed to understand this. The father character always takes a break from his long drive to smoke outside the car rather than inside, thus subtly delineating the difference between the creative and the created spaces.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tact in Dealing with Diffcult People

Every so often, all of us find ourselves having to deal with a difficult person. Tact and diplomacy omes hard. But it can be learned. Having a sense of humor helps. Here's some study tips:
  • Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.
  • The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.
  • I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
  • Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
  • I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't give a damn.
  • I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
  • What am I? Flypaper for freaks?
  • I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
  • I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
  • Ahhh...I see the f***-up fairy has visited us again...
  • I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.
  • It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.
  • Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
  • No, my powers can only be used for good.
  • How about never? Is never good for you?
  • I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me.
  • You sound reasonable...Time to up my medication.
  • I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
  • I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message...
  • I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
  • Who me? I just wander from room to room.
  • My toys! My toys! I can't do this job without my toys!
  • It might look like I'm doing nothing, but at the cellular level I'm
  • really quite busy.
  • At least I have a positive attitude about my destructive habits.
  • You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
  • I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
  • Someday, we'll look back on this, laugh nervously and change the subject.

Independence Blues

Well, August 15 was here recently :-) Being outside the country makes it extra special, so we bought a cake and all that hungama. Sang Vande Mataram (which my folks said they cannot remember the lyrics yet hummed with me all along..see..somethings you never forget)..Cut the cake..then sang jana gana mana..took the flag on the street and paraded for a while (some having open containers of alcohol forced us to get back quickly..) . Then started usual discussions..

Finally, after rummaging through my quarters of the mind, I believe this song is the best ode to freedom in modern day.

While the lyrics seem to be inspired by Shelley's Ode to a Skylark I repurposed them in my mind to suit Freedom as a metaphor. Go India! You need to stretch your wings further and fly higher

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Stella Mystery

A friend of mine once casually mentioned that a bottle of stella artois never tastes the same as that of its draft version. I enquired about the contents and they are pretty similar except for the aritifical carbon dioxide infusion. So, how do we explain why beer in draft tastes better than its bottled counterpart (true of other beers as well)?

I think I finally found the answer yesterday. In a bottle version your olfactory senses have no input the brain but in the draught version your nose first transmits the smell of barley and hops which makes the act of drinking much more pleasant. If you dont believe me simply try drinking the same beer in a glass versus a can/bottle and you can find it for yourself.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sophie's World

He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth
- Goethe
Just finished reading this book which was a bestseller in the 90s. It asks two questions at the outset (questions are always almost dangerous than answers)

Who are you?
Where does this world come from?

Then the book launches into a panoramic tour of philosophical ideas ranging from the earliest stoics to that of Jean Paul Sartre. Its 3000 years of developments summarized in a single novel of 500 pages. At the end you cannot expect a simple answer to the questions but it shows how each generation must answer those questions on their own time and on their own terms.

I began to read this work with some skepticism as I strongly believed in the quote by A N Whitehead

All of Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato

The book partly confirmed this notion and partly opened my eyes that it isnt wholly true much in the vein of Hegel's system.

A key aspect of the book is to question the lack of women philosophers as well as tackling the question of "are men and women equal?" . You'll be astounded by some philosophers' view on women as well (particularly Aristotle and Hegel)

To put it in creative terms the book takes you on wings of love to a world of ideas. Once you wake up from the book you'll nonetheless be richer than when you started.

Such busy, teeming throngs I long to see,
Standing on freedom's soil, a people free.
Then to the moment could I say:
Linger you now, you are so fair!
Now records of my earthly day
No flight of aeons can impair--
Foreknowledge comes, and fills me with such bliss,
I take my joy, my highest moment this.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


There's some cool stuff on Archimedes Palimpsest I found today. I was fascinated by the concept of 'Palimpsest' as that word always conjures up the image of India to me. The following passage from The Discovery of India was what I read when I was a child (child's mind is like wet cement, once a certain impression is made and hardened, it stays there for a very long time) which was the cause for the association

India is like an ancient palimpsest on which layer
upon layer of thought and reverie have been inscibed.
This is the complex and mysterious personality of India.
About her is the elusive quality of a legend long ago;
some enchantment seems to have held her mind.
She is a myth and an idea, a dream and a vision,
and yet very real and present and pervasive."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Reminding Myself

a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted

a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

-Ecclesiastes 3