Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dissecting Sholay

I was born after Sholay, and a movie buff that I am, I was the last to see this magnum opus in my generation. It wasn't because I hated it, but because I was busy watching all those movies which went unnoticed (on a humanitarian ground, so that their viewership should be a non- zero positive integer). Because of my staple diet consisting mainly of B- grade movies (it's not that i like them, just that they are quite too much in abundance, just like members of class Arthropoda), this movie seemed grand in all respects, and it continued to intrigue me hitherto, when it dawned upon me why it was, the way it was.

Originally, the makers of Sholay wanted Danny to play the arch- villain Gabbar Singh, and they were thinking about putting Hema Malini opposite to Sanjeev Kumar. Although Danny has a grave and heavy timbre, would that be sufficient to make Gabbar a legend?
In order to understand why Sholay was a hit, it is necessary to fully analyse the mechanism of Masala, a sub- genre of Drama. Drama movies rely mostly on the intensities of emotional deliveries of characters involved. Mostly, the emotions go to extreme, regarding some incidence, and the narration of that incidence would often highlight the effects more than the cause. The subtle is the ignorance of the cause, the better the effect on audience. Masala, also in particular depends heavily on co- incidences. In purely mathematical terms, the smaller is the probability of an event, the better it makes Masala. The unbelievability of content is the gist of a class such as this.
The story line of Sholay is a mix and match of all kinds of probabilities- The very same thugs being employed by Thakur to eradicate a cruel and cunning dacoit, who saved him earlier, and both of them falling in love with the ladies of that village. Having a single bullet left and the bomb on the wooden bridge, and respecting the nuances of Indian cinema that a person dies only after delivering a complete dialogue, the movie is abundant of such incidences as well as columns of this infrastructure.
Real success of a film is not in the moolah it rakes at the box office, but how larger than life its characters become. Be it Mogambo, or Clint Eastwood's portrayal of a cowboy on a Texan soil, or the Gabbar Singh. It is quite difficult to imagine Gabbar without Amjad Khan's voice, but when I do it with Danny's voice, I find it to be equal to numerous other menacing dacoits portrayed in the course of Indian Cinema. The reason what makes Gabbar dreadfully menacing is the way he delivered. It was the silence before his dialogue began, and ample resting time between words to stress their pressure on our ears, and expectation of the crescendo, which his voice would reach, created a tension in the air. It can be paralleled to a piece of symphony, in which, all the orchestra stops at a point, takes a split second "rest" and then the mildest of the instruments start the tune, and very soon, the instruments keep on joining, increasing the tempo like a boulder rolling off a hill, gaining momentum, and finally crashing with a loud bang. Followed by a silence. May be perhaps you can hear your own breath when orchestra concludes, or, in our case, the blowing wind., with a minimal haunting music. If you take this out of Gabbar, the legend falls to Dr. Dang of Karma- and Sholay collapses into a regular masala flick.

The second significant point I find is about the characters. A masala movie requires that all the characters should be of different emotional domains, so we have a lot of characters, big, and small, like strokes in a big landscape, with the incomplete statements analogous to the half shaded image often describes its own boundaries. Imam Saheb, played to the perfection by A.K Hangal, was one such stroke, so was Sachin Pilgaonkar as his silent son, or the flamboyant Basanti with her dialogues, or the mystifying Radha, the ever silent daughter in law of Thakur, whose behaviourial dialogues were like the sciography of expressions hidden in various shades of melancholy. Any of these characters can be removed, and the basic story remains the same, but less than grand.

A good story teller never spends too much of time narrating the same sequence. A good director, similarly, keeps the audience's moods varying from light to deep and vice versa, always hitting them with his best shot in every reel, but never letting them delve deep into it. As a result, the person is always left with a want to come back to the previous scene. This emotional overload works, and Salim and Javed duo made sure they never kept people busy in one setup for more than five minutes.

The music, in concordance with the Indian values of movies, were a necessity, and good music at a right point always strikes pay dirt. And the lack of it intensifies a scene- again an orchestra- rest- crescendo effect.

Sholay was highlighted as the first 70 mm grand screen cinema, which was a specialty, simply on technical grounds. So whenever I remember the poster of Sholay, 70 mm comes to my mind next. It was as if a tag line. It was also a fact that Sholay was the first film in Indian Films' history to have completed 5 years in a theatre, from 1975 to 1980, which made it a legend that I was the last to see in my generation.
Post script:
Gabbar (in a languid U.P. tone, with a menacing look towards the three "stooges"): "Are o Sambha, kitna inaam rakhe hain sarkar humpar?", with a single haunting tune.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Love Marriage

The top floor of B- Block, known as B- Top, was where Samy, the ever excited guy lived. Though the wingies didn't participate much in co- curriculars, but their extra curricular activities included chatting on some chat messenger, robotics, distributing their knowledge about the world, or, fooling each other by posing as "damsels in distress" in chat rooms, especially the last one. "The Enlightened one" of the wing was Siddharth or Sid, who would often emerge from his room, fixing his ever slipping spects, and then would call everyone out. Usually, things would start from movies, and then he would pick one issue on his sweet will. Often, this Gyan session would last a couple of hours, and then everyone would conclude it in the dining hall having some evening snacks.
That day, it was raining cats and dogs, and Sid, like always was broadcasting seeds of his fertile brain, with people listening to him. Suddenly, someone asked, "Where's Khujli?"
Khujli was the incessantly itching guy of the wing. The legend said that his favourite pastime was that he was seen itching at any given time T. If not itchy himself, he'd itch his neighbor. Once the guest speaker in architecture department showed in a slide how the dampness spoiled the plaster of the column, and someone shouted, "Looks like a misdeed of Khujli!" and everyone in the row next and before burst out laughing. This day, Taklu was missing Khujli's presence.
It was impossible for Sid to not know where Khujli was. He pushed the bridge of his slipping spects and said in a know- it- all tone, "Do you guys wanna know where he is?"
Samy, the short, ever jumping guy said, "Ab batayega!" (meaning: cut it dude, lay it on me). Sid, clearing his throat announced, "When i was coming from institute, I saw him in Harry's, feeding rasgullas to his sister Padmini".
Padmini was a girl who studied in Samy's batch. Khujli and Padmini met in IIT, and soon a brotherly- sisterly bond developed between them, was what Khujli's wingies knew it from him. So now that Sid had seen him feeding Rasgullas to Padmini, the whole of the wing roared into laughter, with Samy taking a full fledged lead in it. It was snacks time, and these guys, started towards dining hall, saving themselves from the splashes of rainwater coming in the corridor.

That night, Samy's sleep was rudely disturbed by a loud bang on his door. Someone had apparently kicked on his door. It was Khujli, who was back and he was furious.
Samy opened the door. Khujli thundered, "Rascal! You joked about me and Padmini!!"
Samy replied, almost awake by now, "It wasn't me! It was Sid..."
"It was you, Taklu told me!"
"I'm telling you now, it was Sid, go and talk to him" and Samy went back to sleep.
"Sid, come out! How dare you speak such nonsense about me and Padmini?" roared Khujli, a bit annoyed at his first miss of his thunder bolt.
Sid wasn't in the mood of opening the door, he said from inside, "It was Samy!"
Samy heard it. "Scoundrel!", he thought.
Bang! Khujli was kicking Samy's door, and Samy shouted in reply, "Ask if Sid wasn't the guy who told us about the masala story of you feeding rasgullas to Padmini!!".
Khujli kept on banging the doors of Sid and Samy, and they kept on passing the buck to each other. Soon, annoyance gave way to frustration (which was the default behaviour of dwellers of Institute of Indian Technology). Khujli could not avenge for the story which some scoundrel leaked. It was true that he was feeding rasgulla to Padmini, but didn't he ever told these crass creatures that she had tied him a rakhi, and fed him rasgulla then? In anger and frustration, he declared that his wingies were being cheap, and that Padmini was his sister.

Venting your anger often leads to sadness. That's what happened to Khujli. He was saddened by the sorry thinking of these jerks who never gave a thought to their banters, and he retired in his room.
For the next fortnight, he didn't talk to his wingies.
Time heals. Soon, they all filled up the gap, and he started to mix with them, and everything else was back on routine.

Five years later, Samy called me up. His ever excited voice told me "Do you know, Khujli is getting married?". "With whom?", I asked, with an anticipation mounting. "Guess?", he said.
A brief silence, and after that, we both burst out laughing.

Samy continued, "Taklu commented on the group, with just one line- Kya zamana aa gaya hai!" (English: Times have changed!). We both laughed.
I said, "History repeats!"
He said, "Means?"
"Don't you remember people with similar names- Padmini of Chittor, and Khilji, the sultan of Delhi?" I replied, and we both burst into fits of laughter.

Harry's: A small eatery which was near to Tata Sports Complex, our favourite pastime joint.
Taklu: A happy go lucky bald guy.
Samy: A genius in disguise, to whom this author is thankful for the inputs.
Sid: the know it all of the wing "B- Top".
rasgulla: an Indian sweet made of cottage cheese, the sweetness of which got added to this memoir.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Vengeance: Concluding Chapter

2 months ago, Sri remembered, it was Chitrangada's turn to publish the weekly journal, but the key of the main notice board lied with Vir.
Vir had told Sri that he was leaving for the town to buy some important things, and the things were not very important, so she need not come along with him. Somehow, the day had been quite hectic, keeping Sri busy all the way. Thankfully, Enya too had some work in lab, some register she had to make for the lab tomorrow. She wanted to relax today, and the whole room was for her, she was all in luck!
She remembered quite late that it was Chitra's turn, and she had to deliver her the key. She called Chitra from her room, and she sounded worried about tomorrow's issue. Chitra was cool as usual, she said- "Dun worry kid! I got the key from Vir 5 minutes ago! He came and gave it to me."
It was surprising that Vir didn't go to town. Well, he too might have been busy.

Sri would often help Vir to do his assignments, and she would take care for him, thinking twice so as not to do anything which might hurt him. She was a bit more sensitive than him, so she would often try to understand him. Vir would seem to be a bit worried about something, that's why he would often remain reserved, and for few months, he wasn't able to focus on his studies, so Sri made it a point to be of his help.

Yesterday, Vir had come to her, and asked her if she could draw the final of his plans, elevations and sections? It was very necessary for him to visit the town, as his aunt lived there who was serious and it was urgent for him to go. The assignment was also necessary to be submitted, as it was final assignment, and he feared it would be impossible for him to submit it tomorrow.
Sri smiled and said "She'd be all right, don't worry. I'd do the needful".
Next day morning, Chitra came running to Sri, she was pretty excited. "Hey Sri, Did you know, Vir got expelled!" Sri was struck by a bolt! "What? how?"
"come to the HOD's chamber. He's waiting for you. He asked me to locate you and send you there".
With weak knees, she went in the chamber, laden with grim air around her. The whole batch, class of '09 was present there. Vir was standing in the corner, red faced. Perhaps, he had cried. She could see him sweat in the air conditioned chamber.
The Head of the Department asked her in a calm, but serious tone, "Are you aware that Vir had copied your Design assignment? apart from the previous few assignments of detailings and Building Construction Techniques?"
"huh? No Sir! Was he?", she replied, wide eyed.
"Yes, I had already got the reports that he had been copying details from Chitrangada's sheets. Since he has failed in more than 2 subjects in a semester, he is not eligible to carry his studies in this premier institute. It is imperative for you all now to keep your sheets in locks from now onwards. You all may go."
She was the last to leave, and as she closed the door, she could hear Vir pleading the HOD to give him another chance, but she knew it was impossible, HOD was too strict to budge.
She calmed her sudden excitement, and came back to her room, at the end of the day.
Her room mate Enya was sad, apparently her day too had been bad. Sri held her by shoulders. Enya turned and looked at her. She was crying.
Sri asked, "What happened?"
"You sure, baby?"
"Yeah, I'm. Just one bad day won't hurt, right? It's some experiment gone bad..."

Later that night, Chitra came to Sri's room.
"Everything okay Chitra?"
"Yep. Is Enya asleep?"
"yes, she just slept, can you ask me whatever it is, on a stroll?"
On their way on a big 2.2 km long circuit, Chitra initiated the talk.
"Just wanted to ask you something- you orchestrated this whole scandal, didn't you?"
"What leads you to think of this?"
"My locker has number lock. The key to that lock is known to you and Vir only. Vir is not that a fool to copy it blatantly. You know, he always introduces a twist in something original."
Sri recalled the day about a month ago, when she was crying in the room, and there was no one to support her.
Chitra had told her that she had seen Enya and Vir strolling late night in the institute, when she had been to the department to change the Wall magazine in the noticeboard. They hadn't seen her.
Sri had been thinking of an adage "When faith becomes blind it dies". How was it, that she couldn't get the point of Enya asking her about trust and faith? Wasn't it the same day Vir told her that he was going to the town? Sri first didn't believe this whole thing. Seeing is believing. She started digging into the emails, and saw only one email of Enya to Vir, appreciating how smart and intelligent he was, with a reply of thanks from Vir. She cried the whole day.
She realised then that faith in a relation is like a principal sum in bank. It accumulates slowly, and steadily. It can not be given to someone in a lumpsum. It is more related to actions in the past, not the feelings.
She composed herself, and came back to her room, still undecided whether to let them go, or to avenge. She was convinced that she was cheated, and her right was denied. So Vir deserved an apt return gift .
Why did Enya hint her about her feelings then? May be it's completely human to hint their own actions in advance, which might satisfy their emotions. Anyways, it was foolish of her.

Next day, when Enya opened her eyes, she saw Sri smiling, "Good morning baby! How was your sleep?"
"Ummmmm... It was quite good, thanks!" Enya replied, stretching her hands.
"Water, in stagnation, rots. So should we move?" concluded Sri. Enya couldn't agree more.

Vengeance: part 1 of 2

"Water, in stagnation, rots." concluded Sri. Enya couldn't agree more.

6 months ago, Sri and Enya were sitting in a theatre, watching movie, when she said, "Enya, how do you like Vir?". Enya giggled, and said "Assure me I would live after I said I liked him!". Both of them had to be shooed into silence by the audience who were more interested in the movie, than in their heart to heart banter. They made faces, and started watching the movie.

Vir studied in the same section as Sri, and Sri, being the "master architect" was the pet of all the professors. It looked as if she just was revising the whole architecture course. Sciography, drawings, illumination engineering, waste water management, all the courses were at her tips. Often one would see her laughing and giggling around with Enya, her room mate, who was from electronics.
Because Sri also was good in mathematics, so Enya started to harness her ability into understanding the equations which required high degree of knowledge of calculus. Analog Circuits was her nightmare, and it suddenly became easy when Sri started dissecting the formulas. There was now no need to mug up. Soon their friendship grew beyond buck converters and Universal Serial Bus protocols and they started to share their small worlds with each other.
Enya often wondered how was it that Sri always had some time at her disposal, when all her batchmates would slog for hours and hours on the very same assignment. Sri preferred to keep the suspence with her smile. Often she would fill her cigarette with weed, as she would sit with the A0 sized sheet on her drawing board, and she would design everything with a single stroke. No need to draw the rough. She knew her hands, and her hands knew what she was upto. Six hours flat and she'd be done with it.

The second semester from January demanded she should do more courses from architecture than the common curriculum, so she started to take note of people who were in her department. And as the second sem started, the seniors started their regular drama of orientation periods, and extra- curricular activities. It was there, she had first noticed Vir. He would often be present in the Thursday's evening club (organised by the budding architects of the department).

Often, she'd find him in the library too, or in the canteen near the main gate of institute. Three months later, she was competing for the post of Journal secretary, when she found her team (for the doing the ground work) of the post also comprised of Vir, Rekha and Chitrangada.
Working for the post- printing arrangements, the 4 would often go for a night- out, and there would be long sessions of tea, which would be often taken care by Vir. The ideas were mainly of Sri, but Vir would often give a twist in them, making them even more interesting. The sheer brilliance versus the creativity would often make an interesting competition, and whence, they started to have an inclination towards each other.

They even exchanged their passwords of email IDs. Sri's self would never allow her to accept it in front of Vir that she often read his mails, for curiosity's sake. But soon she gave up checking into his account, as her own self would not permit it.

Vir was tall, fair, and his gait was free. Nothing bounded him, ever smiling. Sri often mentioned him with Enya, How the discussions on the ideology of Meis Van der Rohe went, and how charming but difficult was the life of Frank Lloyd Wright, and Enya was no fool to let it go unnoticed.

So, it was after the theatre, Sri decided that she, Vir and Enya would have a small get together. As Enya too wanted to meet him. He sounded interesting to her.

Next day, Vir, Sri, and Enya sat in the coffee bar, and were discussing things, Vir was sitting almost straight, Sri, leaning on his support, with her head on his shoulder and Enya in front of them. They chatted for some 2-3 hours, and thanks to Vir's smooth talking the time warped, and it never felt that long, had not the position of sun been a measure of time too. Vir wanted to become a good architect, and how he had been struggling for the rank in this institute, and some funny stories of his tuitions were quite funny to pay heed to.

That night, as Sri came back at eleven, switched off the light and fell on bed. The creaking bed announced her presence, and Enya asked her "Are you still awake?". Sri said "Yeah" with a sigh. "how did you like him?", Sri asked.
"How much do you trust him?" Enya questioned her in response.
"I love him a lot! Isn't it sufficient?" Sri fell asleep, getting oblivious to the next question of Enya.
... next part concludes

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


In the jungle of Institute of Indian Technologies, there existed two crazy students, with particularly varying interests. The Monkey was a detailed thinker, mostly residing in his own theme, and rarely peeking out to see what the world was doing. He'd get a screenshot of the current state of world, and will quickly recreate in his brains what must have happened, and then he would quietly get absorbed in his thinking. The Donkey was the one who was always on the roll when it came to foreign policies, polity, politics, and bureaucracy. He would always have a conclusion ready on the weirdest of the patterns and he would often extrapolate them to predict what the future held.

Two years later, both of them passed and joined the beautiful world outside. Their job description was the same. Only that satisfaction level was different. They would often meet and The Donkey would often narrate interesting affairs surrounding, or may be they would discuss the ideas of various people.
One day, while roaming, The Donkey mentioned a famous quote, "The god is a performer, performing before an audience too afraid to laugh". "Don't we remember something about an audi, performance, stage, and we all being characters?" The Monkey thought. Strolling in the great market place, the two friends were discussing this. The Donkey continued, "The Penguins at a far-away-land Antarctica often feel hungry at a time when there are too many fish in the sea. They dive to dine, and before doing that, wish each other bon appetit. The sharks too feel hungry at the same time, and they too wish each other bon appetit, and then hunt the penguins! Look at the comedy- they both feel hungry at the same time!!". Seeing the facial expressions of the Monkey, Donkey suggested another example- "The newly born birds which live near ponds often take their first flight after a few days of hatching. The comedy is that if they crash during their first flight, they often fall in the open mouths of crocs and other animals waiting for them. They become the feast of these animals in the first flight itself!", continued Donkey, " If you call it a comedy, it's a grim one".
"Take a third example- In Sundarbans, the jungle is so dense that humans often prefer to live near the shore of delta. The water level often varies markedly during the whole day, and there live piscivorous tigers, who drink that saline water. These tigers, often known as Royal Bengal Tigers are the smart and aggressive cousins of other indian tigers. They are big, and they are bad, they know their footsteps, and they will hunt humans, whenever they can. It is virtually possible to go deep inside the forest." Having laid a proper foundation, the Donkey took a deep breath, and continued "Now, the fun part is that honey bees also make their combs in the deep forest. The combs often are huge. Now, humans have to go inside to harvest honey from the bees, where their predator awaits!".
The examples started a train of thoughts in Monkey. So far, he believed world is an auditorium, and the god is the only audience. Now there is an opposite theory, the god is a performer, and we all, observers. How can it be? It seems like the trees are moving in a direction anti parallel, when we move.
To interconnect both the perspectives, we can shift our own. Imagine the world is a circus, with everyone being a performer, and god being the ring master. May be he's more than a ring master, he may be an organiser, who has put a constraint, a starting condition, continuing conditions for the act, and a terminating condition. The performers in circus are all acrobats, so they can not see their own moves, but can witness how the tight rope walker is performing, and how good the tigers are doing ball with the humans, etcetera. Now, we can safely say the god is performing, we too are performers, and yet, we don't dare laugh, because we are walking on tight rope ourselves. We laugh, we fall. Only if we are too busy to watch others than noticing our own steps on the tight rope.
Special Mentions: Chaitanya Vardhan for his inputs, Voltaire and Shakespeare for sharing their piece of perspectives, God- his circus is interesting.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Singing on a Lower Pitch

The Dog was lurking in the dark alleys of internet, and by chance, he ended up sniffing few write ups in a blog filed under the title "rant". The article writer definitely wanted to be heard, and she was being heard, with comments on her blog being double of The Dog's own. What caught again The Dog's sniffer nose was the unusual intensity of the word "rant". Technically barking- rant would mean too much of violence or extravagant, as would be the context when the word was used when it shouldn't have been. Everything was perfectly under control, with no emotion being out of control, as the label would claim, observed the beast. He had encountered a similar observation not so long ago, may be half a decade ago.

The Dog wanted to go for higher studies, for which he wanted to write a cover letter, shamelessly mentioning why he fitted that university, in a land far far away. He was genuinely interested in the subject and wanted to make it his career, and hence, to show his keen curiousity, he chose words he deemed fit to design the application. A wise and kind man lived next to him, who would often help him diagnose his inner self. The wise man perused through his application, looked up to the animal, and said "Everything you wrote is the truth, but your know, there is a problem. I call that problem overexpressing an emotion, for example- instead of "highly interested" may be you could have suggested some of your acts which depicted the same."

The Dog was gifted, actually, compensated to understand the human languages, for; he was unable to comprehend much of human emotions. He would never understand the rising or the falling graph of emotions, or understand the unsaid, so he would often tilt his head to one side, and stare wide- eyed, with a bewildered expression at men and women, who would often dramatise and romanticise the events.

Why did people often do that? His own kinds knew only a few notes to sing the famous lyrics of Baha men song "who let the dogs out". They were never dramatic, in fact, most of the animals, unless it was the mating season.

The only reason, The Dog, understood was that people often had a sense of awareness, which allowed them to realise they existed. The self also had an extension, which The Dog felt was vestige, known as ego. This part of self (illogically, but successfully) tried to convince the self that the being was a unique individual, with no one as special as him. This would often make him feel cherished, and would make him want more. The more meant even more, when it came to fame.

The fame rhymes with the word name, observed The Dog. That too wasn't without a reason (though that very same reason, however, didn't follow with shame, dame, game, blame, etc). The ego or the sense of self, allowed the humans to associate themselves with words which they thought were unique for them. If someone uttered that word, they would respond, as if someone had nudged them.

[Agreed, my family didn't have names, and we used to understand how to hunt a mouse or a poor small animal in packs, and everyone developed his own sense of responsibility in the team, by the games we often played in our childhood. But humans named everything, even their homes, cars, and pets, including me. I responded to them, because everytime i responded, I was given my favourite bone to suck, or a juicy piece of mutton. The reward is a big motivator.]

So, when humans name is called, they feel elated a bit, and this gives them a sense of being wanted by the person calling the word, that is, what they call name. If a lot many people would call their name, it would be a transaction in which the input is too overwhelming. To make people call your name, you need to be different, you needed to be dramatic, guesses The Dog. May be, you needed to be special, hence the usage of the word "rant" in the title of the article, when it wasn't necessary, to dramatise a simple event.

Humans, are the descendents of the great Ape family, and hence, they believe in copying what they find attractive. As a result, now The Dog finds all the world being dramatic in a way or the other. May be, for a change, letting the actions communicate would keep things simple, and clean. It may sound boring at first, but the closer look would reveal that since the things are easily understood, so it would greatly increase the pace of the work, and speed is more fun, The Dog guesses that's what the wise and kind man meant.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Truth

Rakesh, or anyone would never know what the truth may be. It might be that his guesses [and the (wrong) guesses about the character] would be correct upto a pin point, or, it is highly unlikely that Ambuj must have turned so violent, or it may be that we all are in a Matrix, to begin with, with Ambuj in his capsule sleeping several miles away from me.

Ambuj was a simple day to day architecture student, carrying such big T-squares, like Rambo's sword on his back, and eyeing other girls in the professor's class, which by any standard provided him better entertainment than the lectures, which he anyway could not listen to- not due the substandard content delivery, but the content acceptance device malfunctioning.

We all felt we all knew he had a problem in his left ear. He would often nod vigorously if someone came to him, and muttered something feebly about the professor being a dimwit, and he would somehow stretch his audio capabilities to extract the information about the professor's name, and the word synonymous to dimwit, say Idiot. As a next step, he would often shout loud professor's name, and idoit simultaneously, so that the original speaker would wish somehow a bush would grow and he could hide himself there, when the prof would turn back and see Ambuj still trying to make out the correct meaning from these two words. Rakesh always sensed something was wrong in that part of Ambuj's brain where he had no circuitry developed dedicated to audio functions. He narrated it to me once- You know what happened! Ambuj kept his mobile facedown, and was chatting with me, and suddenly a truck honked somewhere far off, and he jumped and grabbed his phone shouting "wait! my cell is ringing!".

Recently, Ambuj had been trying to increase his optical power from 5 to 6 so that he could undergo some "Leejig" operation.

Having established the premises of my experiment, I decided once, on an Architectural Tour, in december, that I would try to test his logical skills as well, in my very subtle way, and this story revolves around that pivot.

That fateful day, we all went to study the design of Rajmahal theatre in Jaipur, and it was a grand theatre, with stairs running from both the sides, and every inch squared of the floor carpetted (i profess, i do not remember more than this about the architectural details there). The movie which we were seeing [so as to understand the architecture better] was a typical bad indian flick. Ambuj was sitting on the right side of me, paying his every bit of attention to the dramatic sequences unfolding, that hero was ailing from cancer, with his doctor being misinterpreted as his wife by the heroine. On my left side was sitting a junior of mine, let's call him Ramesh for name's sake. Sitting between these two guys, I was forced to enjoy the movie though I had undergone the torture the last week in Chandigarh's Piccadelli Theatre.

Out of blue, Ramesh passed a drawing book, which contained the horrible sketches Ambuj had, and asked me to pass it to Ambuj. This was a perfect opportunity to administer the experiment, with Ambuj as a lab chimpanzee, and observe how Ambuj would react, given that he was engrossed in some extravagant flow of emotions, with his left (faulty) microphone towards me. So, I told him to pass the notebook to Ambuj, deliberately using his own name, than simply shoving that notebook in his lap.

Usually, animals have a sense of self, which in some cases they assosiate it partially with their names, I guess this might be a reason, why people respond when we call their names, but as infants, we were never formally told what our names were, we just started to follow it somehow.

With all his remaining faculties channelised towards the silver screen, Ambuj took his own drawing book, and passed it on to his right, without any instructions, and the notebook kept on travelling till the far end, where Hasita noticed that it was Ambuj, her apparent suitor, whom she ignored, was the owner of his notebook. With Hasita's voice calling his name, Ambuj suddenly woke up from his trance, where may be he was the hero, going for the sacrifice for the country. He quickly realised his mistake, and shouted at me- why didn't you pass it to me? I replied- I passed it to you, with instructions to pass it on to yourself, why didn't you pay attention to me? In case you want to talk, talk to Ramesh. Now, finding a good reason, Ambuj almost verbally pounced on Ramesh, calling his names, and how he hailed from one of the worst places in Bihar, and what else can he do by bringing all the guns he had in his house, which his grand fathers used. Ramesh was quick to return the sentiments. Having no such history, he claimed that he knew how to make bombs and how he wouldn't hesitate to drop one on Ambuj's head, and given a chance, would certainly drop one on his native country.

With these two Biharis sitting besides me, flexing their muscles, I was having my own share of fun imagining the not- so- braveheart, thickly bespectacled Ambuj, fighting Ramesh, firing guns as big as him, and rusted to the core, with their wooden butts hollowed by termites, and Ramesh, with his pallid self hurling a granade, with swearings mutually returned. All of a sudden, with a tight slap, i came back to the reality.

Ambuj, in the semi- darkness, tried to hit his perpetrator who was keeping him from watching the film, and ended up slapping me. From a third person view, it was a mislanded slap, sending shivers to Ramesh, who found it worthwhile to flee from the scene.

It was not a long day afterwards: Rakesh suspects that it was another of my mischieveous plans to frame a poor harmless soul, like I did to butterflies, squirrels and other dogs and bitches whom I would lure with a bread and then shoo them away to derive a sadist pleasure. Another guy Swapnil, who all the way was sitting in the room, embellishing the whole scene with his guitar, and hiss- chik hiss- chik sound of drumming, as he produced from his mouth, made a mystery out of it, about whether Ambuj slapped me, as I claimed, or not, with his supposition that I was barking up the wrong tree. I spent the whole night shouting, swearing and fighting with Ambuj, and he, crouching in a corner, smiling obnoxiously.

Post Script: Recently while going to Tirupati temples, Ambuj accepted that he slapped me, as if it made some difference to me. But he was soon to deny of any such thing in the return journey. It was Rakesh's younger sister Alka, whose justification I'd find worth mentioning: "I guess he was going to the almighty, so he didn't want to lie, but while returning, he was in his own good harmless self again!".

Disclaimer: Every soul mentioned here is a figment of imagination of the semi- lunatic author. Even if they are real, it is highly doubtful, like the slap which the author received.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Falsifying Murphy's Law

"Anything that can possibly go wrong, does." -- Murphy's Law
Murphy's Law was not propounded by Murphy, it was Jack Sack who did it. Murphy just explained that in more than so many words. I was informed of this trivia about this law by one of my friends, in a book shop. He was complaining how the corporate world followed the Murphy's Law, one corollary of which he deduced was "whatever you don't know, will go bad at the right time". Like, he started telling me about a legacy circuitry block connected to a buck converter, and how it was drawing a huge current, which was affecting the Oscillatory circuit. "I didn't know anything about this circuitry, and you know, it was that one which went wrong, and i had to go around changing everything and then i realised it was this black box circuit which was the main villain" he explained the whole thing to me. Though i hadn't designed or studied about the buck converter, i realised it wasn't the circuit which is problematic, it was the superstition. Murphy's Law is as good as superstition, i hold this opinion. Let us try to understand the problem statement first, and then we can solve it by the root. Problem Statement: Anything that can possibly go wrong, does. What is wrong with this statement is that it is right! Everything human made is destructible, so everything is liable to go wrong. Consider the opposite statement "Anything which can never go wrong, works always fine", which is also true. How is it that the inverse statement is so important to us? Because it is imperical that whenever we try to open the bolt, we accidentally tighten it. This leads us to a very good mathematical question: "Given two ways A and B to move, what is the probability that we choose A?" and the engineering guys will pat give the answer "50% or 0.5". The answer means that if we randomly, without using our intelligence, choose one path, for a huge number of times, say 1 gogol times, then 50% of the times it would be path A, and rest of the times, it would be path B.

Two things are important here. One that human brain tends towards idiocy when left to itself (that after 3 million years of evolution) and thus without thinking, it can be 50% accurate. The second thing is- there is an agent who performs the task. if there is no one to walk, then no path is taken! Returning back to the bolt- opening- problem, if the agent (or the opener or the mechanic) does not notice the direction of the thread (idiot agent- so he introduces probabilistic model into otherwise a simple work issue), he can screw the bolt in any direction as his sweet will. Now if he twists the bolt in the opposite direction, the thread gets cut, and the machine breaks. Murphy's law is in action, he might say. But what about the other half of the probability? No one would notice anything wrong, because the machine is working all right. So Murphy's Law is defied half of the times which no one pays attention to, they only venerate murphy for his extraordinarily annoying law when things break, and count it as a 100%, which i find is injustice towards their knowledge of Probability.
Let us take another example of Murphy's Law in action: The zip or chain or Handle of the luggage breaks whenever you are on journey. True, but how would it break if the suitcase is kept in some corner of your home? So naturally, it will break only when some agent works on it, and that happens only during journeys. Then why only during journeys, and why not when we are leaving or coming back, does the handles break? Again probability comes to the rescue. The total time of the journey is too long and hectic, if compared with the time spent leaving the home or coming back, so no one remembers Murphy uncle before the journey starts or it concludes. Having thought so much, the Donkey told his friend "Dude, i can not exemplify in terms of circuits, as i'm not trained in it, But since i'm adept at coding, i'll tell you my experience. Whenever I'm given a legacy code, i make sure there are no black box areas, so that i know what every line of the code is doing. Since i'm very clear in my working, so nothing goes wrong where it wasn't expected to, because i know where it will go wrong".

The Donkey never believed in Murphy and his pessimistic foolish law, and nor in probability, but he chose probability as a tool to defeat a bigger idiot, the Murphy's Law.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Pressing need

In the jungles of gangatic planes lived a donkey, who was quite happy to have landed a job under a washerman's kind guidance. The job however required him to be posted to some jungle down south where there was no river, and the place was all new to him. He was new to the place and in his leisure, he would roll on the grass and wonder all sorts of philosophical things. Some of the things would be strange, while some would be crazy, and between these thoughts, a thought would lurk that he was growing older every passing day. There was nothing new in getting older, even the washerman too was growing older, and so was every other soul- no one grew younger in this world (except the curious case of Benjamin "Braid Pitt" Button). So our hero, the Donkey, realised that as the world grew older, the tend to rely more on the memories they accumulate, which is also known as memory, and less of their common sense.
This world was different from what he had left behind. There, everyone would be too happy to help him, and everything seemed like Alice in Wonderland, but here his solitude seemed to grow more on him. A respite was that he had to do all the chores of den by himself. This would take up some lonely time of his and he would be saved from the dreaded silence of his den. It could also be the hormones at the nubile age which made him feel that illusive silence, may be there was no silence at all!
This tomcat lived next him, and they knew each other from his previous life, when he was chased in the same jungle by a dog, and successfully eluded him, just to be squashed by the passing elephant who could not see it. These old buddies would sit somewhere at the end of the day, on a cliff, seeing the red ball going down, and the tomcat would often tell how the world treat the jennies. "It is either about the brains, or the beauty- nothing about memory. Do you think people would have acknowledged an elephant, had he got no size?". The idea was quite fascinating. People would see the jennies who lived next door admiringly, and donkey would think they were no better than his goldfish, which got fed and reared because it was beautiful. In those circumstances, donkey would wonder what good would the brain be, if there were less of memory? Could everything in this world be derived out of it, even most of the things which memory did?
This was the first office day, and Donkey had finished washing his allotted clothes, and the question was- how to get the clothes pressed, which he never had to do back in the jungles of Kgp? He wasn't interested in ironing them. It was too much of a work for his languid self. He remembered that there was a small bazaar behind his dwelling, where he could probably find a press wala. So hopeful that he would be saved from a lot of work, the donkey took his clothes, and started off to the bazaar. There he could find someone to outsource this work to.
In the bazaar, he found one of the shops was decorated with pitchers of egg plants. The egg plants were donkey's staple diet, so he felt a bit inclined to outsource the work to that animal, who was sitting there, ironing a mountain of clothes. That animal gave him an appointment of next day to take the ironed clothes. The donkey went away happily, wagging his tail.
Donkey forgot he had to collect the clothes, and he remembered it after a week. The deadline was not an issue, so he went to the eggplant shop and saw a Tasmanian Devil sitting there. Well, he didn't remember which animal he talked to last week, and as if it bothered him! He was more interested in the egg plants than the Tasmanian Devil.
Today the Tasmanian Devil looked younger. Donkey cleared his throat and reminded the young devil that he needed the clothes, and it was urgent. The devil junior sweeped his eyes and saw this irritating creature who just appeared from nowhere and was demanding his clothes back. The li'l devil tried to search for his clothes but couldn't find it. However, it was delaying his work. So he said, "You go today, bring tomorrow 5 morning". Donkey tried to explain him, "i don't bring clothes, you bring my clothes!". Devil - "my daddy bring tomorrow 5, you too bring tomorrow 5 morning, daddy give you clothes".
"Ah, so he wants to keep my clothes for another day! must have given those clothes on rent", thought donkey. He banged his hooves on the table and demanded that his clothes be given to him now.
"Ayyo! Sir, bring tomorrow, daddy too bring tomorrow, go now!".
"But i have a pressing need, i want those clothes now!!"
"Go away sir! bring tomorrow, daddy bring tomorrow also.. GO, sir!"
Donkey left the shop feeling humiliated.
Next morning, he came at 8 to the shop. He found that Daddy Devil was at the shop. the same question, and the same reply!
Suddenly the Tasmanian Devil Senior said, "there is another shop who does the ironing job, is it possible that you might have given your clothes there?"
Donkey was confused. He looked at those egg plants. They looked beautiful. Tasmanian Devil said "I think you should ask Javelina, the owner of the shop."
Donkey went to the shop and when the Javelina saw him, he readily recognised the bundle of clothes lying neatly creased in a corner.
It was then the donkey noticed, that shop too had egg plants decorated!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Story of Inventions: Part Rest of n

The Invention of Orkut

Mr. Orkut Buyyukokten, the inventor is standing in front of the
neanderthal audience, explaining on the multimedia projector, what is the idea behind his new site, they all are sitting around campfire, with a boar being barbequed.
Orkut: This is a new Website.
Ramu, The thick and pessimist co-worker: What does it do?

Orkut: It will help socialise people who have otherwise problems approaching others to talk.
Ramu: You mean approaching girls, right!
Orkut: I hate this planet. People almost always relate anything with girls! NO!!
Ramu: then what would be the use?
Orkut: People will make friends and send scraps to each other
Ramu: what is a scrap?
Orkut: A scrap is a message
Ramu: Is it? I thought mails were good enough!
Orkut: Look o naive Ramu! this thing is faster than mails, and you would never know who scrapped you until you open the orkut page, otherwise emails bug you in your messenger, as if it were the sole thing!
Ramu: then why is it that it's public?
Orkut: Dear Ramu, it's not! If you want, no one can see the scrap. It's totally upon you to decide who sees what!
Ramu: Oh lord Orkut! Pray explain then if people will keep everything private then how the hell would anyone socialise?
Orkut: erm... (takes a glass of water and gulps some)
Ramu:Another thing o great one! Are we copying from Facebook? It has a chat, we have a chat, it is a social networking site, we are the same, it has privacy features, we too have introduced it, like it's mail, we too have a mail, and same with applications as well...
Orkut: O innocent Ramu, we are not copying facebook, it's just a coincidence that we both share the same ideas! Look i've just now completed the module for chat which would enable various friends to chat, even if you didn't want them in your friends' list. see! (shows him a demo of this)
Ramu is awestruck. It's great, and also never demands for doughnuts!
Ramu: O noble one! I totally understood that Orkut is an original and a holy attempt to bind the world in a human chain, and that facebook is a cheap imitation! I bow before thou.

Some 5 milennia later, orkut became a great sensation in India, and most of the studious IIT guys can be found learning important stuff from it, collecting the pics of "babes" of their campus, in their computer labs.