This Paradoxical World

The former actress and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalitha, ruled this wonderful state for more than 15 years, before her untimely and mysterious death a few months ago on 6th December, 2016. A lot of people in Tamil Nadu love her and that is why she was elected over four times. She was a queen and an iron lady who bowed to know one. She kept the right-wing fanatics at bay and cemented her position as the “supreme leader.”

She sounds cool, doesn’t she? She was cool….. except for the fact that she was also corrupt and she allowed corrupt people to flourish under her rule. Of course, prior to her rule the corruption was at a grander scale. So I guess we, the people of Tamil Nadu, should be happy that corruption happened at a lesser scale during her rule. I never voted for her party when she was alive and I never will vote in the future. The woman was corrupt. But I cried like a child when she passed away. I sat in front of the TV for a whole day and watched her funeral procession, her body being lowered into her grave, all her old speeches, and I cried and cried and cried. I even sat with my grandmother, who was her big fan, and watched Jayalalitha’s old movies and songs from the 1960s and 70s. In fact, I just discovered a Facebook page in dedication to her and my eyes were filled with tears when I went through her photos and her quotes. I don’t quite understand this. What is this new-found love that I have for this lady? I agree that I did have a soft corner for her even when she was alive because I always admired her boldness, and her leadership qualities. But still, how come my eyes moisten when I think about her even now?

My mind goes back to the Facebook post that I wrote a few weeks after the lady’s death. I wrote that what happened was for the good of this state’s people. I believe that the two cyclones that damaged this state in 2015 and 16, and this death has united the people more than ever. This unity led to the popular Jallikattu uprising. If those two cyclones and Jayalalitha’s death hadn’t happened, the Jallikattu protests would never have occurred. People learned how to use Facebook and Whatsapp to unite when those cyclones struck, and the protests were organised from the lessons that were learned. And the “Iron Lady” of Tamil Nadu would have crushed those protests if she had been alive. “Not on my watch,” she would have said. But then, people wouldn’t have protested in the first place if she was alive. We took matter into our own hands because we have this feeling of insecurity after her death. There is this great power struggle happening to consolidate power, and the dormant right-wing fanatics have started wagging their tails in her absence. All this makes us even more insecure. We have always been having this feeling of insecurity about the safety of our language and culture and this feeling has only been heightened now. But I believe everything is interconnected. All of this happened for  a reason.

What is it that is happening to us humans? I am not sure. Ours is a strange existence with a paradoxical history and we have tried to comprehend it  by giving it various meanings. But what is the truth behind it all? Only time will tell. But there is no guarantee that we will live to see it.

 

The Paradoxical Paradox (or I just realised I like the word paradox):

In Tamil, there is a saying — “Yellam Nanmaikkey!” This could be roughly translated as: Everything that happens is for good or Everything happens for a good reason. Or something like that. This leads us to some very interesting questions and thoughts. I mean, think about  all the tragedies that have happened on this planet so far. Are you telling me that all of that happened for good? I am not an atheist, so this allows me to think further about this question. Of course, we are yet to understand the human mind completely, we can neither understand God’s mind nor his plans. Do we even possess the kind of mind that it takes to understand God’s mind? No. We can only guess. So what is it that I am guessing here?

I think that that saying is true, everything that happens is for a good reason. This is going to offend a lot of people. Maybe even the British occupation of India happened for a good reason? It did result in the death of a lot of people, our wealth being plundered, and other injustices, but still, maybe it is for the good. What about the horrendous caste system? That too happened for the good? The caste system has caused and is still causing a lot of injustices in this country. It should never have happened, and if I could travel back in time I would travel back to stop it from happening. But, what good has the caste system caused in this society? I could think of nothing. A lot of people in India have managed to preserve their “pure” blood lines. Is that any good? I don’t know. The holocaust happened for a good reason too? The US butchering the middle east in the name of freedom and democracy is good too? If we want to believe that “Everything that happens is for good,” then we should also be ready to believe that all these injustices happened for a good reason as well. Maybe we will see the good at a later point in time. Will we? Or maybe we never will, but our grandchildren will see it one day, I guess. Life is so unfair, isn’t it? I don’t understand life, I don’t even understand myself at times. Things seem so strange, and meaningless.

What you should do

What does this mean? Does this mean that you should sit back and watch as life unfolds? Should you silently observe God’s plans regardless of how cruel the events are? Of course, we think it is cruel, but it happens for a good reason, I am sure (I guess). But still…… it doesn’t feel right, does it? I think we should fight back. We should fight against all injustices even if that means us losing our lives. Aren’t we just little dust motes stuck to this bigger dust mote called Earth flinging around recklessly in this dark vacuum? I think at the end of the day, us fighting against all injustices is also part of God’s plan.

 

“About Me”

I once had an About-me page on this blog. It spanned over 10 points about my likes and dislikes and I tried to explain what kind of a person I am and I hoped it sounded “cool”. I still remember what drove me to write that — it was another About-me page that I had read on a blog and I thought that it was totally awesome. That page had two sections, a shorter introduction and a longer introduction and I loved how that blogger described  himself. This was about five or six years ago. But after a couple of years, I took down that page because I thought I sounded a bit narcissistic and egotistic. I still love reading About-me pages and those little Twitter statuses. I wish I was someone and I could describe myself perfectly like so many others. Now this leads me to the question, “Who am I?”

A question that I have been asking myself eternally. I was thinking about this just yesterday and my impish mind immediately gave an answer — “He who cannot be described!” You know, like You-know-who. Pretty cool, right? Except, I am still unsatisfied with this answer, and yes, there is a bit of egotism even in this. At least even if I had some talents, I could label myself as a “pianist” or a “Kung-Fu master” or a “programmer” or a “writer”. I wish I had all these talents, but I don’t. I am a talent-less lump of a being. But, but, what is the need to label oneself? I don’t know, it just feels good to know who we are. It feels good to have a purpose or a role to play in life. I hate groping around in the dark and I wish I could categorise myself under some banner that I could proudly stand under.

But this doesn’t mean that people should be labeled like commodities and treated and judged as such. I have come across such people who refer to others as “Cancerians” (is that even a word?) or “Leos” or “Liberals” and the list goes on and on. I get irritated when people do this, and some people ask to be referred this way which is even more pathetic. “Liberal” reads a Twitter status.  This is just pure madness.

I am neither a conservative, nor a liberal. I don’t have rigid views as I understand that each situation is different and so our rigid views cannot be a solution to all situations. One size does not fit all. What this world requires is common sense. I understand that I need to be a capitalist in one situation, and a communist in another. I will be a liberal in one situation and a conservative in another.

Please do not confuse this with adapting to different situations; I am not talking about adaptability. I am talking about having common sense.

All of this is delusion, all of this is pure madness, and the problem with labeling oneself is that it adds to this delusion. How much more deluded do you want to be? This is literally inviting delusion inside of us. Even atheists sound so religious in their belief of non-existence of God.

Hold on a second, hold on a second, let me think about myself before I continue with this rant. What are the labels have I given myself or I have acquired naturally through my birth? I am an Indian, a proud Tamil, and……. can’t really think of anything else…my mind just prompted me to add Raja Yogi and Kriya Yogi, but I think that would be an insult to all the great Yogis who lived before me and are living right now. Let’s dissect this for a moment — Indian and Tamil.

I have a sense of loyalty to this country that I live in and I take pride in being a Tamil. Is there anything wrong in this?It would be wrong if I think people from other countries/states or people from other races or people who speak different languages are inferior to me. I don’t think that. Some people may say that a country is an artificial man-made entity and so there is no point in being patriotic. I completely disagree to this as it is this man-made entity that protects us from the barbarians out there. If you live in one of those villages that is located near the India-Pakistan border and if you rely on the Indian military for your protection, I am 100% sure that you would be more patriotic, but since you are able to sit in your comfy chair, inside your cozy home, you make such mindless comments. All your reasoning, and all your philosophies and principles and labels will only work with people like me. Why don’t you go to Libya and proudly unfurl your banner and appeal to the poor misguided ISIS souls with all your individualistic charm? I am sure it will work out and the world will be a better place for all of us. Please do us this favour. The world counts on you. And don’t forget that selfie.

So, is it wrong to call oneself a pianist if one is good at the piano? Not at all. All I am saying is, just don’t go too overboard with it. Don’t become one with the piano and think that guitarists are part of the problem. Do not constrain yourself under any category.  Don’t be this or don’t be that. Human beings are more than just labels.

A special note to people who label themselves as vegans, atheists, and nihilists:

***** start of note *****

Don’t be a condescending prick.

***** end of note *****

A Question to God

It is highly disturbing that we humans are nothing but little specks of insignificant dust-motes floating in this vast universe which may be just another dust-mote in an ever bigger universe. I recently read a quote of the great saint Ramana Maharishi which was kind of depressing.

Your duty is to be; and not to be this or that.

Shouldn’t we have any aspirations? Is destiny a lie? Are our lives completely and utterly pointless? Why were we put on this unholy mess that is this planet? Yeah, Earth is beautiful, but one wrong step and you could end up with your guts splattered all over the place. We have been imprisoned in this planet for some reason which only God understands. I don’t think humans have the intelligence to understand God and so I am not going to judge God for what he has done to us. But to think that our sole purpose is only to realize God and reach him is kind of hard to digest. I see so many things happening around me and I want to do something, be something, but what is the point? This is all an illusion, a scene in God’s dream, and I am being told that there’s no point in altering something that is not real. This may be a maya, an illusion, but when it hurts it really hurts. I cannot live a life that is pointless. This life is boring and I need a mission. All I need to know is this: What should I do with my life? What should I do next? No, meditation is not helping. I am not hearing you speak to me when I meditate; they told me that I would. Is there anything that I need to do? What do you have in mind for me? Maybe you don’t because I am just another little speck of dust that is pointlessly floating inside this endless creation of yours. They are telling me that I should be grateful for what you have given me in this life. But I don’t like this life. I am grateful to you for what you have given, but you have also taken away so much from me. I don’t even know what to think. But I am being told to be blindly grateful to you because you know what’s best for me and that this is part of a plan or a learning process.

Okay, God, I am getting tired. Now just tell me what I should do.

Of Linux, Lisp, Emacs Lisp and Writing a Novel

In I walked into the cubicle of my office which is located on the 10th floor. I logged into my computer and started reviewing a Powerpoint presentation I had made the previous day. I am into a management kind of role for the past two and a half years. Previously I was a mainframe developer, but not by choice though. I was trained in mainframe when I joined the company and I continued to be a developer for three years. I wasn’t into mainframe much and I always thought about switching to a new technology like web development or Linux administration. Back in school and college I learned quite a few programming languages like C, C++, Java, Visual Basic, HTML, Java script, Pearl and so on. After I joined this company I learned a few more languages to work on mainframe like JCL (Job Control Language), REXX and Cobol. Nothing really excited me like the web development languages that I had learnt in school. When I created a simple web page I had a feeling of accomplishment that none other languages gave me. The creator in me liked that. I found particularly Java to be boring and C and C++ were pretty ordinary. But I do have plans to learn C all over again as I don’t remember anything apart from printf and scanf. I always wanted to be a technically strong person, a good techie, and I always wanted to learn stuff like the internal workings of an Operating System and so on. Until the end of 2011, I used only Windows and I never bothered to learn anything. These interests always were at the back of my mind but I did nothing on my part. I needed some motivation and that motivation came in the form of Linux. One lazy Sunday afternoon, as I was lying on my bed, the word Linux came floating into my mind. I got up and googled it. Shortly afterwards I downloaded and installed a Linux distribution called Ubuntu. I really liked it and started using it alongside Windows 7. It took me two more years to ditch Windows completely. The strange thing is Linux kind of brought my interests back to the forefront of my mind. It encouraged the geek in me. Imagine this — you always wanted to learn guitar, but you did absolutely nothing to learn it. But one day you buy a music CD and the guitar piece in that CD inspires you so much that you go out and sign up for learning guitar at a music academy. That’s what happened to me. Linux encouraged and still encourages me to learn stuff. A couple of weeks back I downloaded and installed Emacs. Guess what? Emacs had that same effect on me. I really liked it and on the third day of downloading it I started leaning the Emacs Lisp language (the language that was used to build the Emacs application).

I always searched for a good piece of software for me to write. Apart from all the techie stuff, I love books and I love to write. I want to become a novelist sometime and churn out novel after novel. I am still searching for the perfect application that would satisfy my writing needs. So far Emacs seem to be the application that I need. I am still learning it as it has a bit of a learning curve. When I fired up Emacs for the first time, two weeks ago, I was presented a long tutorial. At first, I felt a bit reluctant to read it and try out the various stuff given. But then I remembered the great Richard Stallman and I didn’t need any other inspiration 🙂

But I am bit confused now. As I googled more and more about Emacs Lisp the more I am getting caught in this desire to learn it and then continue from there and learn the Common Lisp language as the two are closely related. I also did a lot of googling to understand if I should learn Scheme, which is a variant of Lisp, or Lisp itself after I am done with Emacs Lisp. Finally I have settled for Lisp as Lisp seems to be a larger and more complete language than Scheme. But I have to hold my horses though. I was actually in the middle of some writing when I jumped into this Emacs wagon and now Emacs is taking me on a ride. I was actually planning to write a novel, not learn stuff after stuff. So far this is how I have set my priorities:
1. Learn Emacs and Emacs Lisp
2. Get going with the novel and complete the first rough draft within the end of 2015.

I hope I stick to my plan. After completing my novel I would go after Common Lisp. Or maybe I would go after more novels. I don’t know, let me think about it after completing my novel.

The Red Rose and the Dark Room

The Red Rose and the Dark Room

blood red rose dark rose

 I woke up to find myself in a huge,  well-furnished room. It was a beautiful, grand room that was fit for a king. Sunlight streamed through the windows illuminating the place and its grandeur even more. I loved it. I moved around looking at the paintings and tapestry on the walls.  Suddenly the sun disappeared behind a thick cover of clouds and out of nowhere a dense fog of darkness descended down upon me. It was pitch black. I slowly moved, with my arms outstretched to avoid colliding with anything, towards a point where I thought the exit was located. The more I walked, the larger the room seemed to stretch.  I walked for what seemed to be an eternity and finally my outstretched hands felt the wall. I groped along to find the door, only to find more of the wall. I groped and groped and walked along the wall for hours. ‘I saw the door somewhere here,’ I thought. ‘It couldn’t just disappear.’

Many hours passed and I sat down on the cold hard floor exhausted. And again I started my search after a few minutes. Wall. More wall. Emptiness. Wall. Where am I?  I panicked and started to search frantically for the exit. As I moved forward, something caught my foot and I stumbled onward. My head banged on something wooden on the way down and I lost all consciousness even before my body hit the ground.

A long time passed. For how long I lay there unconscious only God can tell. It seemed like years to me afterwards, but that was not logically possible. Slowly, I opened my eyes to see particularly nothing. I sat up and turned around to my right as I saw something out of the corner of my eye. A beam of light! The room was still dark, but a thin beam of light came into the room from high up above from somewhere. My eyes followed the beam upward to find its source, but I just couldn’t. The beam went up and up and so out of my vision’s reach. It was surreal. Then I followed it downwards.

And there I saw it. Illuminated under the beam of light stood a beautiful golden vase. What was more beautiful was a little green plant that the vase held and what was even more beautiful was a Red Rose that the plant held. I was mesmerized   by its beauty. I had seen so many roses, but this one was different. Something about it was heavenly. It stood there blood-red. This was the only living form that I had come across after a long time.

‘What are you?’ I asked the rose, out loud.

The rose looked at me mockingly.

I wanted to touched it. Feel it. Smell it. I stood up and walked towards the plant. My right hand went towards it mechanically. But then, something moved within me. Something that had been dormant for a long, long time awoke and it spoke.

‘What are you doing?’ It hissed angrily. ‘The rose. The rose is not yours and you know it.’

I froze there for a moment.  ‘Yes,’ I said to myself. ‘I understand, I understand now. The rose is not mine,” I said, as somehow realisation dawned upon me. I stood there without knowing what to do.

‘Concentrate on the task at hand!’ my inner voice commanded. ‘Find the exit!’

‘But, but the rose,’ I stammered. ‘I want it.’

‘You cannot have the rose.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s not yours.’

‘Why?’

‘That is the design.’

I was on the verge of losing my mind.

‘Then why was I shown the rose out of nowhere?’ I demanded.

Silence reigned. The voice had disappeared.

I turned around to look at the rose, but it was not there too. The beam of light was now illuminating an empty spot. Slowly, right in front of my eyes, the beam vapourised into nothingness. The room was now completely dark.

‘I have to start the search again,’ I said to myself. But for the second time that day I realised something else. I was trapped. I was trapped forever.

                                                                                    – dexternepo

How should a man live his life

If you are rich then you are really lucky. Enjoy life, do whatever you want (of course, your enjoyment shouldn’t disturb others), travel a lot. Why do you even need to work unless you really love your work?

Don’t make a fool out of yourself by being rich already and slaving away at the top levels of useless companies like Pepsi or Coca Cola that doesn’t contribute much to the society.

If you are not rich (like me), what should you do?
We too like to enjoy life and be happy always. But that requires a lot of money. Of course you would have heard that happiness is a state of mind and we can be happy regardless of the fact that we have money or not. Though this is partly true, we still require a lot of money to be happy. I like to travel to exotic places and what do I require to do that? – money. And there are many other examples.

So what should people like us do?
Contribute to the society. Make yourself useful. We get up in the morning, work hard and get back to our house late in the evening and repeat this again and again, get married, have children and the cycle goes on until we die. What is the purpose of all this? Are you going to waste your life like this? You are an exception to what I have stated in this paragraph if you think that you are well and truly enjoying life. Otherwise either work towards your dream, whatever that is, or contribute to the society.

Contributing to the society means a lot of things, it’s not just serving the poor and needy. Writing open source software is also a way of contribution and there are other ways as well. Try to create good values for the people. Maybe you’ll end up rich or will make it to the history books if you are serious enough.

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Waiting for the right smartphone

samsung galaxy s3 and htc one x   I have developed a new hobby – reading reviews of smartphones and tablets everyday and I am so addicted to this. In fact I started doing this more than a year ago. But at that time I had a good reason – I was looking to buy a good phone. But even after buying one last March, I sort of continued reading and watching review videos on YouTube. When I get a chance I even visit my nearest Chroma and Reliance stores to play with those lovely toys. Now I am ready to buy a new smartphone but I just couldn’t decide which one to buy. I was totally enticed by the Samsung Galaxy S2 last year and I still love it, but the fact that it is stuck with the Gingerbread OS puts me off (it can be upgraded, but still I would like to buy a phone that is pre-installed with Ice cream sandwich). And also, it costs about 28,000 Rupees now ($506). I am not ready to spend that much on a phone. In fact, I don’t have the need to buy that kind of a phone. But still, it looks so beautiful and powerful and makes me want to buy it.

After a lot of thought I’ve decided to buy a phone that costs less than 20,000 Rupees and adding to this confusion these Windows phones have started to attract me a lot. I even read some reviews of how smooth the UI is and how fast the Internet Explorer is compared to some Android devices. I saw one particular video that showed how buttery smooth the IE is compared to the browser in Android. I was impressed, but that was when I heard that Windows 8 Phones will be coming out sometime in October this year. I decided to wait till the latest Windows comes out to see how good it is. But I also decided to keep an eye out for a good Android phone that runs Jelly Bean (Good Lord! I am really tired of all these upgrades done by Google).

Today is July 15th and we don’t yet have a Jelly Bean phone on the market, but I am waiting. I’ll wait till November to see if Samsung or HTC releases a good phone (for some strange reason I am not attracted by the phones of LG and Sony). Come on Samsung, HTC has released about four or five ICS phones and you have released just two! The Samsung Galaxy Nexus was released a long time ago, but still Sammy did the mistake of releasing a volley of Gingerbread phones after that. I also have to mention that I am not really impressed by some of the designs of Samsung phones such as the Galaxy Ace, Galaxy S Advance, etc. The Galaxy S3 looks beautiful, but still the S2 looks better than the S3. Of all the mid-range and high-end phones that have been produced  by Sammy, designwise I only like the Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy Nexus and maybe the S3. Come on Samsung, learn from HTC. The HTC One series and the HTC Desire V phones look stunningly beautiful.

windows phone 7.5

Doesn’t the Windows phones look exciting?!

Ah, I just have to wait till October or November to see how Windows 8 is going to be and also see if I am going to like any of the Jelly Bean phones that will be released by Sammy and HTC.