Tuesday, May 31, 2005


The wind was howling into his ears. The lashing rain colluded with the wind with a brutal ferocity that was terrifying all earth. From the window, he could see coconut trees swaying helplessly in the cruel, capricious storm. The fierce lightning and thunder could have petrified the bravest of hearts. The storm had been raging for hours now and beloved trees that had provided shelter to many had been uprooted with an unnaturally fierce callousness. The silence of doom was impending in the raucous drama of the elements.

He was staring vacantly out of the window. The stillness of the dark room seemed like the eye of a ravaging twister. His wife was lying on the bed in the middle of the room. The room was like a hospital ward meticulously inserted into a bedroom. There was a strike of lightning and the woman, who was on oxygen from a ventilator, convulsed and her body appeared to be writhing in pain. However, her face was as tranquil as ever. He looked at her impassively and made no efforts to move towards her. She used to have such convulsions frequently and each attach would last only a few seconds. In the last 12 years, this had been the only sign of life in her apart from the relentless, rhythmic breathing. She was in coma.

His face was calm and pale. The dim light in the room did not betray his emotions but the tempest outside was a perfect depiction of what was inside him. His countenance bore the signs of intense decision-making. He had lived with the eerie and miserable condition of his wife for more than a decade. Her rock-solid stillness had frozen all memories of his past life. He saw a dazzling fire-play of lightning that lit the whole atmosphere. He saw rain drops falling like a torrent and coconut leaves swaying like monstrous fans, sweeping all life forms into oblivion.

He walked to the bed and disrobed himself. He flung the blanket that covered his wife and unbuttoned her gown. The icy wind charged into their flesh. He removed her oxygen mask and lay on the bed embracing her limp, unresponsive body. He kissed her lovingly on her colorless, pallid lips and slowly life oozed out of her body. His eyes were full of tears as he lay clasping her death. The strident yells of the wind went on incessantly. With changing directions, the wind brought some rain into the room as well. The thunder was deafening.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Quotations - an optimist and a cynic

A man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

- Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea

Love is a dirty trick played by nature on us for the perpetuation of our species.

- W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up


Monday, May 09, 2005


The silence was intense and heavy. He stared at the dull, grey clouds, sitting by the window. He was alone in the house. The clouds were dark and gloomy. The stillness in the air was ominous and unnerving. There was stillness, numbness in his mind too. As though involuntarily, his hand hit a pen-stand on the table and the sound cut through the silence. It lasted for a few moments – the silence made every detail of the sound audible, visible. The sound rang in his mind again and again, echoing, trying to enter the innermost recesses of his mind, unflinching in its persistence. He could see the sound, colorfully entering every cusp of his soft, jelly like brain, the sound wringing his nerves from the ear to the brain and squeezing out a painful, poisonous fluid that he could see enter his system. The pain was excruciating and he held the pen-stand firmly in order to stop the incessant and incisive sound.

The pen stand was clasped firmly in his hands and slowly the sound stopped. With utmost caution and minimum sound, he got up from the chair and started walking. He was scared. He looked around and saw every item in his house with dread. He saw the fan rotating slowly above his head. He concentrated his attention on the rotation. The fan looked tired and yet it went on and on. The tender buzz of the motor fell on his ears. As he fixed his attention on the fan, the buzz became louder and louder and the agony in his ears started again. He saw the fan slowly descending – an inch with every turn. From the centre of the fan, a wet, sticky fluid started dripping – the drop could not reach him. Before the drop could touch him, it would become a bee that would buzz away out of the window. The fan started rotating faster and the drops of honey were falling faster. More and more bees were moving out of his window. The fan was also descending faster. He stood transfixed in fear and was dreading the moment when the drop would touch his face and sting him. The next drop became a bee only one inch away from his face. He had turned to ice. The next drop emerged from the fan and started falling – he could see its trajectory with utmost clarity. The drop shaped like an almond, the cohesive forces keeping the molecules together, the air around it applying pressure on the drop, the breeze of the fan swaying it, the dust particles that were being displaced, the force of gravity between the drop and every other mass on earth, the passage of light through the drop and the golden color – he could perceive everything. The drop was moving straight towards his face and then just before touching his forehead, it moved along the contour of his face and went into his right ear. “No,” he gave out a blood-curdling yell, “Grandma had asked me to put oil and not honey.” He lunged to the switch board to switch off the fan and he could feel his entire house, every entity in his house vibrating with the sound of his yell. The fan was switched off and he could see the fan – silent and benign – hanging from the ceiling.

His grandmother had died 3 years ago; his grandfather, a year later. He scarcely remembered their faces. But he used to have sudden flashes of memory when he would recall their most insignificant words.
He looked around the house again with the same alertness of body and numbness of mind. He moved out of his room and saw the Tiffin box lying on the table in the drawing room. He had never given a thought to his food. Everyday, three meals used to reach his house without fail and he used eat them perfunctorily. He didn’t know who would bring them, how or why. It never occurred to him that he should think about it. (Perhaps, his mother had arranged for it when she was in the hospital before her death. His father, of course, wouldn’t have had the opportunity since his life had ended abruptly in an accident 10 years back.) He had always liked his solitude and the feeblest sound had always disturbed him, agitating him beyond his patience. He had removed all sources of sound in his house – the telephone, the radio, the television, the sound of the external world. He kept his windows closed at all times except in the sepulchral silence of the nights and he had not seen a human being since the death of his mother.

He had none for his company but for the sounds in his life. He was aware of every sound in his daily life – the sound of his urine on the toilet pan, the sound of the water trickling from the tap, the sound of the curtains brushing the wall, the sound of the switches, the sound of the breeze moving through various objects in the house, the sound of the clock ticking, the sound of papers flapping, the sound of beetles in the dead of the night, the sound of a distant automobile horn, the sound of the creaking doors, the sound of his breathing, the sound of his teeth chattering in the cold, the sound of his swallowing and even the sound of his feet on the floor. He lived with them, and yet despised them. Because he keenly observed nothing but these sounds, they were larger than life and louder than they usually are to others. In fact, he could also hear what others couldn’t. He knew every sound intimately. In his world, a sound had life, it had a shape that he could see, he could touch and feel the texture of every sound and what he heard would always be nothing but a miserable and maddening agony to his mind. They constantly disturbed his mental peace by intruding in his life. And alas, he could never get rid of them.

The box lay on the table, motionless. Its unobtrusiveness pleased him. He went to the kitchen to get a plate and some water. Moving slowly and feeling everything in his house, he reached the kitchen. Suddenly, he saw the figure of his mother standing by the stove, placing the whistle on the pressure cooker. He was stunned to see the whistle there for he knew that the shrill noise will rapaciously claw his ears apart in a few minutes. In his fear, he looked helplessly at the chimera of his mother. His mother was about to utter a word when he jumped forward to cup her mouth. His mother vanished with the pressure cooker from his world and he saw the empty stove with some knives hanging above. The past, the present and the impossible were inextricably woven in his mind.

Tranquility was restored and he gazed at the knives vacantly. He saw them growing into swords and piercing into the stove. He saw it expanding and contracting and with each expansion it was cutting the gas pipe that connected the cylinder to the stove. The cylinder was empty and there was no smell of gas. He saw the shreds of the pipe on the floor. They were cozily embedded in the heavy layer of dust on the floor. He saw the knife in his hand, with a changed shape. The knife was smiling at him since the blade of the knife had curved a little too much. He returned the smile. The cold breeze of winter wafted slowly into the kitchen and the knife was shivering. He saw all the containers in the kitchen shivering, chattering in the cold. He walked back to his room and brought a blanket to cover all the containers. He then kissed a few of the containers good night – they were his favorite since his childhood. (They were his favorite because of their content but he could not recall that.)

He finished his dinner and went back to his bedroom. He wanted to sleep but didn’t see his blanket. Without that, he could not sleep. He tip-toed back to the kitchen and was pleased to see the blanket. He climbed into the shelf and slept with his favorite containers. He closed the door of the shelf lest the containers would fall and hurt themselves. The damp, suffocating air of the shelf was noiseless and he slept peacefully.

In his sleep, his face was tranquil, completely devoid of fear and agitation.


My Theory of Maya

When a man ‘interacts’ with (for example) an apple –
  • he can “see” it,
  • he can “touch” it,
  • he can “smell” it,
  • he can “hear” it (when the apple touches another object)
  • he can “taste” it,
  • he can think about it.

Apart from these six ‘sensations’, man cannot be sure of anything else. In fact, that all human beings have the same sensations (?) on seeing the same object only shows that the human beings in question have similar methods and apparatus of perception (his senses and mental processes). It does not prove the existence of the apple.

Hence, existence of an entity is relative to the existence of perceptions that can form mental constructs corresponding to that entity. Different animals and plants perceive the apple with different kinds of percepts. Even non-living things perceive the apple (due to forces of gravitational attraction etc.). These percepts differ from each other, sometimes contradictorily. Again, only these percepts exist and not the apple. The same logic can be extended to every entity on earth – animate as well as inanimate.

With the advancement of scientific measurement techniques, man can perceive an object in different and more powerful ways, thereby increasing the range of his perception. Thus, the apple can be perceived through other quantifiable measurements (like the electron density of the apple,…). That only increases the number of “percepts” that man has with respect to the apple. It still does not prove that the apple exists!


Friday, May 06, 2005


It was dark with the faint moonlight straining to illuminate the earth. The silhouette of the mountains was visible in the distance - silent and majestic. A mud path was carved along the edge of the forest in the shape of a semi-circle. There were not many stars in the sky. The sound of beetles penetrated the stark silence of the night and made the silence more conspicuous. After some time, the sound drowned in the silence and the vacant silence engulfed you again. The view of the forest with the mountains in the background was spectacular and the darkness was eerie and astounding. I was standing at the edge of the road.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of hooves. A knight riding a glorious white horse came, riding along the road. As he came nearer, I saw that he was dressed in a steel armor, black in color. He was holding a spear and was crouching forward ready to attack and impale his opponent to a gruesome death. As he came galloping forward, his speed seem to increase. I stood petrified on the turn of the road - the ghastly forest in front, a steep cliff behind and death coming closer every moment. My heart was thumping in rhythm with the sound of the hooves - the pace of both mounting rapidly. I was drenched in cold sweat and fear. He was just ten feet away from me and he lifted the spear further up, ready to thrust it forward into my flesh.

I got up. It was an awful dream. My forehead and chest were wet with sweat. I looked around and saw my room - I felt secure and comforted. Through the window, I could see the moon shining bright and the coconut trees in my neighborhood swaying the cool, silent breeze. The night was soft and beautiful. I lifted myself and sat on the bed, staring at the sighing coconut leaves. My hand groped for a bottle of water on my table. I took a sip of water and waited for my heart to become steady. The breeze peeped into my room and touched me as and when it fancied. There was a sensuous quiet in the atmosphere which was almost spiritual.

And then, what happened was incredible - I got up! I was bewildered. What was happening? Didn't I wake up from that Kafkaesque dream some time back? I looked around and saw my room, the moon in the sky and the coconut trees - the same limpid night and the soft breeze. I shook myself in complete disbelief and a horrifying confusion. I threw myself out of the bed and walked around the room. I saw a bottle on my table. I then sat on my chair and thought. I then realized that the dream had not ended when the rider had vanished. It was a dream within a dream! Splendid! But then, I was very, very sure that I was awake when I woke up last time - the sweat, the fear, it was all real!! And, I am very sure even now. Am I?


Beach Posted by Hello


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Karwar Seaside

The silence is scorching and the tranquil sun is speedily westering. The wind is howling into the ears of the waves. The waves are lapping the golden sand and there are vultures croaking (like frogs) in the air, hovering anxiously in search of prey.

We are in Karwar beach. Karwar is a small, sleepy town - still untouched by the smoke and din of fast paced modern city-life. We are staying in a squalid lodge for just Rs. 150 per day. The fish curry I had for lunch was fresh, tasty and just Rs 18 per plate!

The sea is vast and petrifying in its enormity. There are liners guarding the horizon not very far from the beach. It looks like the sky and the sea would meet and rejoice at the horizon but for these ships. There are hills flanking the beach on either side. The hills on my left are covered with dense forest and those on my right are too far for my eyes to notice the details. Trees lining the beach are constantly dropping dry twigs on the sand.

The vastness of the sea and the sky belittles the physical self of man but not his spirit. It challenges him, provokes him - to explore, to seek, to conquer. It drives him in his quest to comprehend the profundity of existence. Human mind, vain that it is, seeks the meaning in the humdrum affairs of life, in the tranquility of life, in life's pleasures and in life's miseries. Desire after desire, quest after quest! Thousands of years! Oh, the insatiable spirit!

Is the human mind as vast as the sea? Or, is the sea vast because the mind is not?

"Its difficult to believe that this astounding beauty is meaningless!" says my friend Ashok.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Distributed computing - runtime polymorphism

A: You must minimize object creation to make your java code efficient.
B: How can so many people have so many different thoughts. If there were a comprehensive mental space of all the minds in the world, then surely it must be humongous and chaotic.
A: My eyes are itchy - nowadays roads are horribly polluted. Some wretched dust particle must have gone into my eye.
B: AHA! At last I had pineapple juice after so long. Its been ages!
A: Day before yesterday, my sister came back from Normandy. She's really gone down. Must have had a tough time at work.
B: I read Jonathan Livingstone Seagull last night. The pictures are beautiful but I couldn't make out much in the story. Whats the whole point in glorifying flight??
A: Train no. 4568, Guwahati - Bangalore express, scheduled to arrive at Bangalore at 6:30 pm is running 3 hours late and is expected to arrive at 9:30 pm.
B: Why do come home so late nowadays, dear? And you look so exhausted!! I'm really concerned about your health! Don't you think you need a break. We should go out on a holiday - How about Kashmir? We haven't been there since our honeymoon.
A: Fifteen men on the dead man's chest! Yo Ho Ho! And a bottle of rum! Drink and devil had gone for the rest! Yo Ho Ho! And a bottle of rum! (courtesy: Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson)
B: Children! This is the fourth time I am teaching you the concept of percentages. Yet not one of you can solve this simple problem!! You must be ashamed of yourselves!
A: Oh my God!! Our house has been stolen! Look at the mess! And my jewellery! Everything is gone!! We are doomed!
B: The realization of one's self is the greatest bliss one can have on this earth. Once you have understood the nature of your soul, you will no longer be unhappy or perturbed. Yoga is the path to realization.
A: The town you are seeking is just across the bank. You will get ferries to cross the river. Ask the ferry man and he will show you the way.
B: Good bye! My time has come!