# Candy Shops for Bibliophiles 3

After the initial post on bibliophilia [here], and book shops in Nagpur [here] and Pune [here] we now come to the third in this series. The city of Mumbai [formerly known as Bombay] . There is too much to write about Mumbai, the way it was, it is and it will be in the future to come. Since it is my current location since about three years, and it is to be so for the coming few years, I have developed a special bond with the city. When I was in Pune, I had come quite a few times to Mumbai, with one of my friends who belonged here. It was during my visits in those years that I came to know about the Old/Used book markets in the city.

The first one which I will describe is in the heart of the Mumbai, The Fort area. Currently there is no Fort in this area, but there was in the early days of Nineteenth Century. The Fort has long gone since then, for making space for civilian and other buildings, and now only the name remains.

There are too many things in the small area which are of interest to me. I cannot maybe describe them all in this blog. Maybe, The Fort, needs a blog entirely for itself. But lets not divulge too much into it, as right now the thing that we are interested in are the Candy Shops for Bibliophiles. The Fort area presents the bibliophiles with a wide opportunity to shop, right from the old/used books to one of the quite old shops in Mumbai the Strand Books.

I recommend that you start from the CST [Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus formerly known as Victoria Terminus or VT] and take on the D N Road [Dadabhai Nowrojee Road]. Start walking from the Western end of the road, the end at which Mc Donalds is present. Almost right up to the Flora Fountain, one finds a sort of subway created by the arches of the buildings of Victorian architecture.
Along these corridors there are a lot of proper book stores. Some notable among them are the Computer Book Shop, Bookzone, Ashish Book Stores.
See the map below. Ashish Book Stores also have a annual exhibition in which you get lot of books at heavily discounted prices. Usually the book fair is at the Sunderbai Hall, near Churchgate.

On the other side of the road is the Sterling Book Stores, which will give you an enormous variety of technical books to get. They have substantial sections on Physics, Mathematics, Philosophy and Psychology. In most of these shops you will get about upto 10-15% discount on the list price.

Along the corridor you may find one or two old book sellers. One at very beginning and one may be in the middle of the passage. They were frequent a few years back. I got my copy of Albert Einstein : Philosopher and Scientist here in these shops. In fact a lot of old booksellers were present till a few years back, most of them now being removed, I guess in the anti-encroachment drive. But the walk through these ‘corridors’ is worth for the books that await you at the end of this walk.

You can drop by to the Khadi Bhavan, which is on the way to do some nice shopping. If you take a left turn at the Khadi Bhavan Chowk, it will lead you to Strand Booksellers. They have good collection of books on all subjects. You won’t find too technical books here, but books for general reading are more than abundant. Every year Strand people have the Strand Book Festival, which is a must visit. The book fair is usually during January end of February beginning, at the Sunderbai Hall, Near Churchgate. Huge discounts are on the offering in this mania of books. So make it a point to visit it!!

Now, if you go straight this will lead you to the American Express Building. Along side the walls of this building are the old book sellers. A few years back they were quite spread out, some of them had shops along the walls of the High Court building also. But now they have been contained in this small pocket here.

The sellers here are quite knowledgable about the books that they keep. They know the books by title and author. Some also make it a point to keep the books according to authors. The books most of the times are neatly classified by geners or subjets. They know almost all books by Arthur C Clarke and Carl Sagan. The more popular a book, more are the chances that you might find them here. But sometimes you get jewels here. I got my Why’s of a Philosophical Scrivener by Martin Gardner here.

The book sellers also have a library system, which means that after reading the book you can return the book and get some amount back. But who wants to depart with a book, especially if you are a bibliophile? The most common books that you will get here are the novels of all kinds. Bargaining can be done, and you can get books in quite cheap rates, especially if you are a regular.

The best time to visit is a late Sunday afternoon. When you can have all the time to browse through endless piles of books, to find what you are searching for.
One thing that you might miss on a Sunday is that many of the proper book shops mentioned above including Sterling and Strand, and the Khadi Bhandar are closed on Sundays. But the advantage to go on Sunday is a drastic reduction in the crowd that is present on the weekdays. So if you want to visit them all, the best day is a Saturday.

Till last year some sporadic old book shops were also present along the footpaths, of the Old Bombay University Building, the side on the opposite to FabIndia and Globus, near Kala Ghoda end. Here some of the sellers used to sell books for a cheap but fixed price. Some of lots would have Rs. 10/20/30 for a book. Sometimes I have found quite interesting titles here. But recently in a last few months I did not find these stalls. Maybe they were removed from there permanently. I have also found similar shops along walls of the Post and Telegraph Office. But they are not always there. If you are lucky you probably might get them.

While returning to CST do not forget to visit the Fort Book Distributors, opposite the main entrance to CST [Legend 2 in the map]. This is a unique proper book shop which also sells old/used books at quite cheap prices. They also have exhibition and sales of books at different places in Mumbai, so keep an eye out for them in the newspapers. My last visit to their FBD Book Fair was quite fruitful.

So much for the south part of Mumbai. In next post I will cover the Old Book sellers in the so called college district of Mumbai, the Matunga Area.

Till then happy book hunting!!

Update: As per comment of Square Peg below, I have not mentioned the New and Secondhand Book Shop. Yes! It is there from quite some time if I remember correctly since early days of last century and I did not know about it.

Only recently I came to know about it from Arvind Gupta. And I have not mentioned it. I was going to… but procrastination has its own strange ways in which it works…

So here it is :

The New and Second Hand Book Shop:
For this wonderful shop go to the Metro Cinema Square. There is a shop of musical instruments opposite Metro Cinema [well not exactly opposite, but across the street]. So when you keep your back towards Metro and are standing in front of this Music Store, start walking along the road towards right. After a few shops you have a lane going to left of the road. Just at this corner is the New and Second Hand Book shop. But beware the entrance is a bit small. Two times it happened that I went and saw that the shutters were down so just came back. Third time when I went there, I saw somebody coming out of what I thought was a closed shop. So this is where I discovered the entrance to the shop. They are open till 7 in the evening and closed on sundays.
Visiting the shop makes you feel as if you are visiting an old library. The shop has books lined up nicely according to subjects. The shelves have subject labels on them. Browsing through the shelves can, at times, become tedious. The section on social sciences is quite large. You get 30% discount on all the new books. For the old books the prices are mentioned on the cover and on that you get additional 30% discount. Most of the books are more than reasonably priced; they are cheap :). Also don’t forget to visit the second floor also.

So do visit this shop, till then happy book hunting…

[Map coming soon]

# Candy Shops for Bibliophiles 2

After looking at the bookshops in the heart of India we now turn to the second chapter in this series. The Oxford of the East. Pune [पुणे].

Pune has a large student population. The are some very good colleges in Pune. Apart from the standard colleges, there are a large number of courses being offerred by different institutions. Academically speaking I am a product of Pune. Both my alma mater are here. The first one being grand old Fergusson College and then the Department of Physics at the University of Pune. Coming to Pune from Nagpur was a transitive phase for me.

Well here I experienced lot of things which I would not have had, had I been not here. Anyways coming back to the main issue. Since Pune has a large student population, there are a large number of bookshops, publishers to support them.

The most famous area is the Appa Balwant Chowk [अप्पा बळवंत चौक] , popularly known as ABC. This area is in the heart of Old City. The area around ABC is literally overflowing with old and new book shops. But alas most of the books that you get here are the standard ones, Nirali, VBD, Manali types. But anyways, this is what most of the students are looking for. And also you can sell your old books here. With some booksellers there is a library system available, you can get about 50% money back when you return the books after you have used them. Only rarely you will stumble across books which do not form a part of any standard syllabus. You can bargain here.
Open throughout the day.

But apart from this there are a few other sellers which I want to tell you about. They are Mr. Prabhakar and Co. Major chunk of my own collection comes from them. These booksellers do not have a permanent shop as such but are basically street vendors. They sit at the Deccan end of the Sambhaji Bridge [संभाजी पुल ], also known as the Lakdi Pul [लकड़ी पुल ]. Be careful not to take your two wheeler on this bridge, this only a three and more wheeler bridge!

Mr. Prabhakar with his road side stall, at Deccan End of Sambhaji Bridge.

Their shop is not open throughout the day but only in the evenings. Just near sundown they get their books and start displaying them along side the footpath.

Now if you are a true book-lover this is the time to get the books. Keep an eye out for the books that they are taking out of their bags. As soon as you find something interesting keep it aside. That is the strategy that I had adopted when I was in the town. I have myself got quite a few good books from them. I hope you too, along with a lot of Mir/Russian titles. They are open all days of the week in the evenings till about 8:30 pm.

If you are a regular they may also keep some books in reserve for you, as they did for me. Also over a time they knew what kinds of books I was after, and as soon as I appeared they showed me those ones. The books are reasonably priced, most of the times I did not have to bargain. So much for it. Try them out and I hope you won’t be disappointed.

Apart from these there are few proper bookshops in Pune which you can visit.
They are:

International Book Store, Deccan Gymkhana, just opposite to Mr. Prabhakar.
They have some good sections on technical books, literature, and humanities. Also there is an annual sale, in which many books are sold very cheaply, so keep an eye out for that. 10-15% discount on the list price. Legend 1 in the map.

Popular Book Shop, Deccan Gymkhana, along the same side of the road as International. As the name suggests mostly popular books, the kind of ones which you will get in Crossword. But worth a visit. 15 % discount on the list price, but no discount if you pay by card. [Legend 2 in the map.]

Just around the corner from Popular Book Shop is the famous Good Luck Restaurant, one of the few Irani Cafes left in the city. Don’t forget to have some mouthwatering delicacies there. Do try Bun-Maska there! [Legend 4 in the map]

As soon as you leave the Z Bridge coming from Deccan take a left turn, and if you go straight for about 50 meters, you will find Universal Book Stores on the right hand side of the road. This is _the_ technical book store around. You can get almost all books in print here. Plus upto 20% discount on the list price. Here is where I first saw Gravitation by Misner, Wheeler and Thorne in a shop.[Legend 3 in the map.]

Finally, Manney’s Book Store in Clover Centre, Camp. This is the most comprehensive of them all. You get books on all subjects under the sun. And they have a huge collection of them. Perfect combination of quality as well as quantity. Upper floor is for technical books. Just to look around the complete shop, will take quite some time. You DON’T get any discount. Pay as per the list price, but a must visit.

PS: Just next to Manney’s is The Place, one of the better joints for sizzlers in the city, so after a long shopping at Manney’s treat yourself with beers and sizzlers here.

Photos of other sites along with maps will be added soon.

# Candy Shops for Bibliophiles 1

I am a bibliophile. You can read about it here. Well in this series I will give information about the old, used book seller markets that I have visited so far.

I will begin with my hometown of Nagpur [नागपुर] where I started collecting books. The old book market in Nagpur is in the heart of the city near Variety Square, Sitabardi [सिताबर्डी]. There was a old cinema named Variety when I was a kid, now this has been replaced by a multiplex. Very near to this is the Maharaj Baug Zoo [महाराज बाग प्राणीसंग्रहालय].

Now this place is not only the heart of city but also the heart of India, literally speaking. The Zero Mile [label 6 in the map] is just about 200 meters from this place. The Zero Mile in Nagpur is supposed to the geographical centre of India. See the map below.

Initially the book sellers were quite spread around this area, with book shops being setup on either side of the road, but now they have been restricted mostly to the western side [right side of the road if you start from Variety Square towards Zero mile] of the Residency Road and a pocket on the eastern side of the road. Now since a flyover is constructed here you an get down the flyover and park the vehicle just in front of where the major book sellers are situated. Morbhavan [मोरभवन] the Depot for City Bus is just 100 meters from Variety Square. Also this is very near to the place where shooting incidence of Gowari tribals happened some years back. There is a memorial for this just after the book shops end. And you can see a Giant Orange telling that you are in the Orange City.

But I recommend that you start from the Sitaburdi Police Station which is at N-W corner of Variety Square [label 1 in the map]. Keep walking and you will see some book shops on the pavement and footpath of the road. Much further ahead just as the walls of the Patwardhan High School end, you will find about a dozen or so shops, well stacked with books of every kind.

Here are some of photos from my last trip.

The most abundant books that you will get here, as is the case with any other used books shop are the ones required for degree/diploma courses. Mostly these are second grade books written with just one intention of passing the exams the likes of VBD, Pragati etc. And of course there are books for various types of exams. And then there are host of magazines which find there way here.

But to get some really good stuff you will have to hunt through what seem like endless stacks of books. Then suddenly like an epiphany you will find a gem of a book. As far as Mir/ Russian publication books are concerned Delhi and Bombay are dying out, I have not found many in these cities so far. But Nagpur is an exception. Everytime I go there are Mir/Russian publications always to be found.

Apart from the Russian publications some times I have found quite some good books here. After all I began my collection from here. A few of the notable books that I have brought recently from here include the Flora of Marathwada Vol 1 and 2, Handbook of Optics Vol 1 and 2.

Mostly you will have to bargain for the prices that the book sellers quote. They will decide the price by seeing you and your interest in the book. A good way is to start at the halfway mark. But it depends on how seriously you want the book. A good strategy is to take more than one book and then bargain, this way you probably will get it cheaper [cheaper by the dozen?].

As soon as you enter this arena, many of the sellers might call you, to their shops, it can be a bit intimidating if you are not used to it. But anyways they mean no harm.

Just on the opposite side of these sellers is one of the oldest book stores in Nagpur, the Nagpur Book Depot [label 2 in the map]. You can just go there and see if can find something interesting there. They give about 10-15% discount on the list price.

Along this side of the road there are two further old/used book shops, which might harbour some gems. So don’t miss them when you go back to variety square.

Best time to go is on a lazy afternoon. The shops don’t open too early in the morning so don’t go too early. They stay on till the daylight allows the books to be seen. Open on all days of the week.

In the next part of this series we will explore some of the old book shops in Pune.

Till then happy book hunting…

# एक होती चिमणी..

एक होती चिमणी. पण तिला घरटे नव्हते. एकटीच होती ती. तिला कोणीच खेळायला पण नव्हते. एकटीच ती तर सगळं जग फिरायला निघालेली. रोज जेवढे जमेल तेवढे दुर जायचे, अाणि रात्र झाली की झोपायचे. दुसऱ्या दिवशी सकाळ झाली की भुर्र उडुन जायचे. पोट भरेल ईतके चरायचे. दिवसा नंतर रात्र, मग पुन्हा दिवस. रोज चिमणीचे असेच चालायचे. कोणी मित्र नाही, कोणी सखा नाही.

कोई ये कैसे बताए की वो तन्हा क्यों है?

काल रात्री ती चिमणी अामच्या घरी अाली. तिने मला प्रश्न विचारला “तु कोण?”
“मी दमित्र.”
“तु काय करतोस?”
“सध्या तुझ्याशी बोलतो अाहे.”
“बाकी काय करतोस?”
“तसे काही विशेष नाही.”
“म्हणजे काय?”

अचानक तिथे एक मांजर अाली अाणी तिने चिमणीला खाऊन टाकलं…

बाकी ऊरले ते फक्त विखुरलेले पंख….

# The toys

The toys in my possession

From the left

Canon Powershot S2IS, 12 X optical zoom, 5 MP sensor

Sony Alpha 200 DSLR, 18-70 mm Lens, 10 MP Sensor

Canon EOS 500 N SLR, 75-300 mm Lens, Film Based

Sony Alpha 350 DSLR, 75-300 mm Lens, 14 MP Sensor [With Live Preview!!]

Need to have some macro lenses soon…

Shot Taken with the so called King of Camera Phones the Nokia N82 [5 MP with Xenon Flash]!!

This is the first post directly from the Mobile.

N82

Cheers

D

What TeX version are you using?
I am 3.141592…

# I hope Aamir Khan Won’t Mind…

I hope Aamir Khan Won’t Mind this plagarism…

Instead of Ghajini – Ganne Ka Ras

Innovative use popular iconism…

Near Jama Masjid, Old Delhi

# Delhi April-May 2009 Day 1

I am finally in Delhi after two year gap. Last time I was here was in the summer of 2007. Since then much water has flown below the bridge. But this time I am on an official’ visit.

Anyways. Since the train tickets were not booked too early, there was no chance that I would have got any reservation. So had to fly. Then I tried for the no frills’ flights. The week I checked them they were ~ [LaTeX code: $\sim$ ;)] 2.5 K. But the next week the same flight cost me ~ 4.2 K. So this was a no frills’ flight whose cost nearly as same as that with a flight with frills.

During my last visit I had a fiasco with train which I was supposed to board to go to Nagpur, which is another story. That travelogue is still in analog form, have not yet blogged it. Two years down the line. But since then I become quite nervous and anxious when I am about to leave for a longish journey. During one or two days prior to the journey, I sort of become OCDed, I check the tickets and timings again and again. And as if I have lost confidence in myself, I confirm the date with others also. So this flight was scheduled on Friday the 24th of April at 17:10 hrs. So when I checked and rechecked the flight status, finally the day arrived and I was ready to go.

I reached the airport comfortably two hours before the departure. The check in was done in five minutes and I had the boarding pass in my hand. The airlines people were asking for photo-id from others, some how for me they did not. [Does my name and personality match so much?] So after I just went ahead with the security check of mine and the cabin luggage. I put all my accessories in the bag itself. And was myself clean. I waited for my turn before they would frisk my body with a metal detector. It seemed like eternity. Finally my turn came. As I did not have any metal things, the security guy did not have the much to do. But he was a bit taken aback with my waist watch. I mean those of you who remember the Fastrack advertise of girls hanging ulta from trees and asking यार टाईम क्या हुअा है? will understand. So the way he was standing he could not obviously understand the placing the watch on my waist and then not being able to make any sense out of it. He asked me to take it out, and had a look at it, so as to understand what kind of watch was that. But then, finally he gave up, put the watch down along with the security stamp on my boarding pass. The cabin luggage [bag] also had been cleared for security.

Then I went to the waiting area. I called up people to bask on my achievements of clearing the security check so quickly. There is a Cafe Coffee Day counter, inside the security area.
So after ordering a cappucino I sat with a view of the airplanes just about to board. Every now and then I would also have glimpse at the flights that had just taken off. Having sips of coffee with such a splendid view are moments to be cherished.

In the waiting area, aptly called so, people come from the security checks wait there for some time and then go for the flights. This for me was like wathcing a time-lapse movie when I was having my sips of coffee. Just outside the waiting room, the world is entirely different. There are all kinds of activities and vehicles going around there, in seemingly chaotic manner. But, there is clearly a method in this madness. How do these people communicate with each others, I do not know, but everyone was seemed to know where they wanted to go.

While waiting in the waiting area’ I browsed through a lot of newspapers. Most of it was trash. Babes in skimpy clothes, ads for which I had least interest and politics. With the soaring temperatures of summer, it seems that election heat is also increasing. But, this time around I have least interest in who is going to be in power. Anyways, the day before was the Phase 2 of elections in Maharashtra. So the news papers had quite some photos of the people who had successfully voted in these elections.

They say that the percentage of people who came for voting is on average ~ 50%. So this is supposed to be worrying trend. Out of all the photos that I saw, there was one of an old lady. People posed with blackened fingers to assert that they had indeed voted. The indelible ink. This lady was about 70 years of age. And they had put the indelible ink on her middle finger. And she was showing a blackened middle finger with pride to the entire nation. Where is the moral brigade now? Won’t anybody charge her of obscenity in public place?

In the middle part of ceiling in the waiting area, they have created a glass ceiling. Not the one which is here but the real one. Well, one can say that, this is a glass ceiling which separates the flys and fly-nots [literally, no pun or metaphor intended], but then I rest my case. The view from this ceiling was amazing. The sky was blue and a few white clouds here and there were coming in view. From the large ventilation pipes overhead, this little [well, not very little] window gave a different view as to tell the passengers awaiting there in the waiting room that the sky above was waiting for them. Every now and then a flight would be visible. moving across the skyline. There were two people who were cleaning the glass above. They cleaned the very glass which separated them [fly-nots] from the rest of us [flys]. But, this, I think is true in our society everywhere. People from the oppressed lot are used to oppress people. I felt bad about them and all the cleaners and other people who are class 3 or 4 employees. They see so many flights, everyday. They are ones who make the operation of the entire airport possible, but they may in all their lives never get a chance to fly. They are like birds with their wings clipped, so that they cannot fly.

Well, coming back to the flight, they announced that there will be 10 minute delay in the flight, as the incoming flight from Goa was late. So, I was a bit disappointed. After a lot of wait, and it was not 10 minutes definitely, we boarded the flight. The air crew from the previous flight tended to us till we were seated. I had booked a window seat this time, as never I had had a window seat.

Well then the ‘cabin baggage’ nicely tucked in the overhead compartment, I sat, watching the view outside from my little window [this time I mean it]. The flight plan was announced by the hostess, with names of the captain and the attending staff being told.

”हम दिल्ली जाएगें”

She said in a sweet voice. Well after a few minutes from that, the plane finally began to move. I had a sigh of relief. But soon this relief turned to frustration, as for the next 20-25 minutes we were on the runway. This gave me all the views of the airport, especially the slums around it. Heaps of garbage and kids playing on it, seemed like a shot straight out of Slumdog Millionaire [see my post here]. When Danny Boyle had landed in Mumbai, he must have seen these kids and made it into the first part of the film. I saw two flights land from a bug’s eye-view. So finally after a long wait we were on the runway. And we ran away to the sky…

When the flight is gaining altitude [as they call it], you experience a force, which is not very pleasant. One could see the almost completed Worli-Bandra sea link, from a bird’s eye-view. I could recognise many of the areas, like Mahim creek and all that. But that was it. We flew Westwards towards the sea, never to comeback to the city of Mumbai below. With the acrobatics the plane was performing, there was an illusion, with the position that the plane was in, the sea went up. Till I could see out of my window, I could just see grey waters below. The experience was very dis-orienting.

We soon went over the clouds and the picture above would make you see what I saw. The clouds seemed like a carpet [cotton] spread over the entire area below. It was an amazing sight…

Soon the light began to fade, and sun from a blazing yellow went towards deep orange.

The horizon seems endless from this height. The contrast in the colors below and above horizon during Sunset become most stark. Below, you have a dark mass of unknown regions, the horizon it self becomes blazing line of orange. And above that you have a gradient from orange to dark blue. It thought I saw a few stars here and there…

So the final moments of Sunset in the picture above.

And this is what the horizon looks after the Sunset. This condition stayed on for a while. Then the darkness ascended. Now both the sky above and the land below were darkened. No visibility. This is the twilight.

Soon the one could see lights here and there in the land below. At a few times I saw intense orange lights [Sodium vapor ones], but apparently randomly placed. I could not find any structure in them.

Soon the formless light structures, gave way to villages and hamlets. One could make out the roads, which were straight and were lighted regularly. The cities from above looked like fractal structure. The sight was amazing.

Delhi, light everywhere…

All was Light…

But, unfortunately I could not get it pictures, or was it for my eyes only.

Seemed like golden and silver dust has been sprayed in the darkness of the night and what forms is the city below. Streams of cars and highways were in all directions. The cars coming towards us were all yellow, and those away were all red.

The flight lands after a long delay.

We are finally in Delhi, it is officially announced.

So much for the first day.

Dunno whether be able to continue this for the later days..

till then ciao

D

# Good Work Team India…

Finally !!!
We Won 3-1 !!!
Good Work Team India!!!

# The Sons – Franz Kafka

The first time I heard about Kafka was in a interview of Kabir Bedi in a Times of India Sunday supplement called Times Life. Kabir told the scribe that one of his former wife quoted Kafka a lot. So, then as you know Google is your friend, I googled Kafka. And I was introduced to one of the authors who is enigmatic and mysterious, with shades of surrealism in in. But it was not until very recently that I bought the works of Kafka, in hard copy. I had them in soft version, tried to read them on screen, but without success. It was not until Strand Book Fair 2009 that I had mint copies of Kafka’s work with me. Apart from The Trial, now I have almost all of his major works. I started with The Sons, which is a collection of three stories, namely, The Judgement, The Stoker and finally The Metamorphosis.

Kafka wanted to publish these three stories in one volume, he said in a letter to his editor there is a secret strand which runs through these three. The novels I think are a window to Kafka’s mindset. The stories reveal a complex personality of Kafka, which was tried to carve an existence of its own in the shadow of the overpowering personality of his father. The feelings of Kafka are made clear in the part of the compilation, A Letter To His Father, where he tries to convey his father, tries to convey him, how strong and suffocating his
personality was for Franz as a child and also as an adult. It relates small incidents, which made a dent on Franz’s egg shelled mind, whose repercussions he felt even as an adult.

Some of the incidents in one’s childhood can have a lasting influence on one’s future. This I guess, most of us can relate to. How many childhood memories, especially non-pleasant ones, are still fresh in your mind, as if, they happened just yesterday? On the other hand the joyful ones, many times, are harder to remember. This where I guess Kafka is just great, he remembers little episodes from his childhood, and relates them to the person he is now. As far as qualities were concerned Franz was a direct opposite of his father. And he makes a point how his forced silence in the childhood made him the person he was. I think this is where Kafka gets his inspiration from. The things which he was not allowed to say, came out in form of the literature that he has produced. This is why I say, that his literature is a window into his complex and sometimes surrealistic persona.

My reading of Kafka is also confirmed by others. In the Fontana dictionary of Modern Thinkers [1], it says,

Himself slim, sensitive, an intellectual, Kafka was dominated by his well built, bullet headed, businesslike father, about whom, he said, all his works were written.

The picture above appears on the front cover of the same book [1].

And in Franz’s own words

My writing was all about you; all I did there, after all, was to bemoan what I could not bemoan upon your breast.

Now to the three stories themselves:

The Judgement

In this story an obedient son commits suicide

The Stoker

In The Stoker Kafka

You can think whatever you like. But morals change every time you go to a new port.

Oh, that’s just the way things are; it doesn’t always depends on whether a man likes it or not.

I am complaining just for the sake of complaining.

You don’t listen to what I say, and then you give me advice.

Activity without end, restlessness transmitted from restless element to helpless human beings and their works!

All his strength was concentrated in his fists, including the very strength that held him upright.

And all other people here are of no consequence.

The Metamorphosis

This getting up early, he thought, can make an idiot out of anyone.

… since he was well aware his mediations, would come to no sensible conclusion if he remained in bed.

But what’s the use of lying idle in bed?

… if that were possible, and saw no way of bringing any calm and order into this senseless confusion, he told himself again that it was impossible to stay in bed and most sensible course was to risk everything for the smallest hope of getting away from it.

.. he did not forget to remind himself occasionally that cool reflection, the coolest possible, was much better than desperate resolves.

Inspite of his predicament he could not suppress a smile at the very idea of it.

I’m in great difficulties, but I’ll get out of them again.

Don’t make things any worse for me than they already are.

Letter to His Father

Nothin alive can be calculated.

The effect you had on me was the effect you could not help having.

I couldn’t pick and choose, I had to take everything.

You mistake the person for the thing.

But that joke is, in a sense no joke at all.

Between us there was no real struggle; I was so finished off; what remained was flight, embitterment, melancholy and inner struggle.

All this, however, is today only a dream.

Even in other circumstances I should probably have become a shy and nervous person, but it is a long dark road from there to where I have come.

It is not easy to find a middle way.

My writing was all about you; all I did there, after all, was to bemoan what I could not bemoan upon your breast.

Probably I am constitutionally not lazy at all, but there was nothing for me to do.

To live with such fantasies is not easy for a child.

In reality, however, the marriage plans turned out to be most grandiose and hopeful attempts at escape, and, consequently their failure was correspondingly grandiose.

That so many seem to succeed in this is no evidence to the contrary; first of all, there are not many who succeed, and second these not usually don’t “do” it, it merely happens to them; although this is not that utmost, it is still very great and very honorable.

There were certainly obstacles, as there always are, but then, life consists of confronting such obstacles.

… but they are not decisive; they do, like worms, complete the works on corpse but the decisive blow has come from elsewhere.

It is too much; so much cannot be achieved.

But if he escapes, he cannot rebuild and if he rebuilds he cannot escape.

In my hand I have nothing, in the bush everything.

But I did not ask this question but live it from it from childhood on.

Everything is entered but never balanced.

But you sit at your window when the evening falls and dream it to yourself.

A way of life so natural that is borders on existence.

Just think of how many thoughts a blanket smothers, and how many unhappy dreams it keeps warm.

Do you think I have no memories?

rooted in ordinary life, he experienced or imagined ordinary fear,
distress, frustration, to an extent that we can all empathize with
because it corresponds, if not to our actual experience, then to our
apprehensions, even our nightmares.

Metamorphosis

[0] Franz Kafka, The Sons. Schocken Books, 2000, 0805208860

[1] The Fontana Biographical Companion to Modern Thought: Alan Bullock, R B Woodings (Eds.), Fontana, 1983, 0006369650

[2]

Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This is wonderful poem by Frost which reflects lot of my feelings about the things that I have done in my own life. I think I have taken the road not taken, but will have to wait a little longer to see where it leads me…

# Delhi 6

I have been to the rustic lanes of Delhi 6 twice. Once when I was a kid, and other when I was a bigger kid. The other visit obviously will have lasting memories through my life. When you come out of the Chawri Bazaar metro station, which is a relic of the 21st century design, expect the unexpected. Architecture and artefacts outside the station are from another era. Time it seems has a different pace here. The experience that you get here, will be no different from when you go to the old part of any city. But the mix of tradition and modernity that you get to see in Delhi is unique.
The old walled city was established by Shahjahan, and was called Shahjahanabaad or rather 110006 as in the Postal Identification Number Code of the Indian Postal Department. People who have lived there for generations would sure have feelings about the place which I might not be able to reflect at all. For all my life I have never lived in such a locality. There are many things that interested me in this part of Delhi. Apart from historical significance it has one of the largest old book bazaars that I have ever seen. And since I am a bibliophile [see older post here], this is a “Mile long candy shop” for me.
Anyways first I came to know about Delhi 6, the film by the song Masakali [Singer: Mohit Chauhan], in which Sonam Kapoor steals the show. So immediately got the entire soundtrack. And it is amazing. While writing this review I am listening to the same sound track. Rahman, as usual has done a lot of hard work for this too. Just listen to the variety of musical styles he has used in the film and that too to the best of the songs. The other favourites are Arziyan [Singers: Javed Ali, Kailash Kher], Kala Bandar [Singers: Karthik, Naresh Iyer, Srinivas, Bony Chakravarthy] and Delhi 6 Title Track [Singers: Blaaze, Benny Dayal, Vivianne Chaix, Tanvi Shah, Claire] which proves that no genre of music is beyond Rahman. He will do music from all around the globe, still retaining his unique style. Rahman has taken music to another dimension.
So much about the music. It is defnitely one of the better contemporary OSTs that I have heard. Then came the posters and the trailers of Delhi 6. The design of the posters was also good. All this raised my expectations about the film …..
But, alas, if you have done these two, just stop there, this is the best part about the film. Rather than watching the film, I would recommend to buy the audio CD and be happy with that.
If you want to see, how a director with a good cast, good location and lots of budget can screw up, then Delhi 6 is a fine example of that. ROM short for Rakesh [oops Rakyesh] Omprakash Mehra, thinks that whatever he will serve on the platter, public will accept. But sorry ROM, I had high hopes from you, you disappointed me. I don’t even need to compare Delhi 6 with your previous work viz. Rang De Basanti, Delhi 6 is by itself a disaster.
Abhishekh Bacchan plays Roshan, who is a ABCD. He returns to Delhi with his granny played by Waheeda Rehman, who is counting her last days. They start living in their ancestral house in the old lanes of Delhi 6. The come to Delhi during Raam Leela, and the film ends on dusshera. As the film develops more characters are added to the cast. Some of the shots which capture the spirit of the walled city are really well taken, but this is the better part of the film. If you look at the content of the film in terms of the story, the film is a bore. The story does not go anywhere, rather there is no sense of direction. So ROM becomes the non-director of the film. Why do you need to produce such films Mr. Screwwala?
If you look at all the actors that are the part of the film, they are by themselves great. But with their characters in the story, the entire thing story does not fall into place. The events in the film are themselves non connected to each other and the characters as well. And one of the best actors in the film is the Kala Bandar, who had the potential to make or break the film. Unfortunately, Kala Bandar did break the film.
Mr ROM, I think you had intentions of making the film for fundamentalists on either side of the Hindu-Muslim divide, then you have failed miserably. Another suggestion for the title of the film would be “Religious Fundamentalism for Dummies”. But the film fails to convey the message to them. It begs the question to be asked.

जाने किस रंग में रंगे, हमाम में हम सारे नंगे

The hysteria about the kala bandar in masses and the media is common place in these days of the information revolution. To have a look at worst of them, just tune into India TV, by far one of the worst cases of sensationalizing the news that I have seen. Why don’t they have a provision for banning such media production houses. Though Mr ROM, you do media bashing in your film, your film itself is no better than the channels that you have bashed.
The character of Roshan is a dumb one. He is really ABCD. If he had died in the film, I am sure he would have got the Darwin Award. For those who don’t know or don’t want to visit the link Darwin Awards are given to the individuals who have done a great service to the human race, by deleting themselves from the gene pool, by killing themselves in stupid and idiotic ways. So Darwin Awards are given only posthumously. Unfortunately the character of Roshan does not die in the film, so we Indians are depraved from that Award, at least for this film. I think that the Kala Bandar is the residual self image of Roshan’s character, which comes out in the end and meets an end. Mr Bacchan Jr, why don’t you think about the movies that you work with, wasn’t Drona a lesson enough. And as for Sonam Kapoor, babe I am sorry for you, maybe you should consider better roles in your next film. The jodi of Gobar and Jalebi played by Atul Kulkarni and Divya Dutta outperform the rest of the crew, kudos to them.
Anyways the climax is the real anti-climax of the film. Mr ROM why can’t you be a bit subtle about the content, I think you don’t believe that the viewers of your movie have some analytical capacity, why the hell do we need the narrator to tell what is evident?
Final Rating: 1 out of 5; the music and the posters are much better than the movie itself, be content with that.

# Innocence Lost

Well this photo from Reuters tells it all…
No need for me to elaborate…

# Slumdog Oscarpati!!!!!!!!

Slumdog Oscarpati!!!!!!!!

Slumdog Oscarpati!!!!!!!!And the Oscar goes to ….. Slumdog Millionaire!!!

Well finally it happened. A Oscar to a film made in India with all Indian actors. An when it rains here, it pours, literally. So when Uncle Oscar came to India, he did not come alone, but bought an entire gang with him.

Now with the number of Oscars that have been awarded to the movie, I think it should be rather called Slumdog Oscarpati!!

Well, we Indians have a snobbish way of putting things. We do not appreciate the work done by our fellow people, unless it is appreciated by the West. In this case it went the other way round. Since the people in the West appreciated Slumdog, people in India are smelling rats and fishes. Here are some of them:

How can a movie as ordinary as Slumdog Millionaire win 8 Oscars?

Why was Rahman given Oscar for this movie, he has done much better job elsewhere?

If it was presented as movie made by Indians, [formally for the Oscars Slumdog was a British Production] we would not have won the Oscars?

We are selling our poverty to get the world attention.

The film makers exploited the child actors. Did not pay them lot of money, but made loads of money themselves.

The film is anti-Hindu।

The film portrays India in a bad light.

The movie did not deserve the Oscars.

The Oscars are a ploy to enter into the lucrative Indian movie market by the Western people.

etc. etc. etc.
[No matter how long a list I make, there will be always some objection/criticism that will not be included in this list. Is this is a consequence of the Godel’s incompleteness theorem?]

Given all the objections that are raised, I think the movie should have not have been made. It would have been better, remained as the book Q & A which it was written by Vikas Swarup. The criticisms fall into three categories as I see them

1. Actors and media people, who did not get a part in the Slumdog M.
2. People who smell conspiracy in everything that they hear/see.
3. Indian people who have an inferiority complex, who think that Indians are not good at anything.

I do not have any grudges against any of these people, but I will be presenting my point of view over all these objections. After all, this is my blog.

There is a tirade of media people criticizing the content of Slumdog, as it glorifies the poverty in India. But is this not true? Are there no people who are living in India, with exactly the conditions or even worse that are shown in the movie? Just visit to a nearby slum, and see for yourself. So what is so wrong in depicting what is actually present there? Its not as if all of India lives above poverty line and the movie is falsely depicting the people living in poverty. It is no fiction.

Have no films been made in India which depict the poor? If that had been the case, one might have agreed to the criticisms. But then this theme is not at all alien to Indian cinema, a poor protagonist is a goringly boring theme, is it not? What hurts us is the fact that some firang and not a desi has done this. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Of all the actors that are criticizing the movie, including Amitabh, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty amongst others, would they have dared the same if they thenselves had acted in that movie. Do they ever dare to criticize the movies that they work in? I can smell something burning. Given a chance most of them would have jump at offers from overseas, and it would be considered prestigious for them too, then why this farce?

As for Rahman, yes I know he has done much better work elsewhere. But, then, good music also needs other good things in the movie to make an impact. Personally if you ask me Dil Se is one of the best works he has done.

Cinematography wise the film is brilliant. Period. Though while watching the movie, sometimes I felt faint traces of the Cidade de Deus [The City of God] running among the sequences and camera shots.

Also lets not forget another thing, that there is no point in comparing the movie with the movies which were made before and won the awards. The movie needs to be compared with the movies that it was competing with now, not with all the great movies that were produced world over before. How many times does it happen that a movie certainly deserving an oscar, did not get one. When there is more than one movie which is good, certainly there are hits and misses. Definitely we have much better movies made before Slumdog M, but then it did not compete with them before the award. So we have to compare Slumdog M with the movies that it was competing with now, not all of the movies made before it. And maybe it was the best of the lot, for this year.

Also if we are taking the film apart as we have done, we are not doing any justice to the actors in the film, who gave their efforts for the characters that they were playing. Was that all part of the bigger conspiracy?

Has not this production brought some deserving youngsters to the fame in international cinema? What about them are they not happy for that? Ask them and you will know the answer…

Now the second group. There are two types of people in this world, one who find conspiracies in everything and others who find conspiracies only in somethings. I think I myself fall in the later category.

Some people think this is a propaganda by the Western people to proliferate the Indian production houses and reap the profits from Indian audiences. But why do they need to come to India for that? I mean lot of english movies made without any reference to India or Indians involved in the production have done quite well in India. Remember Titanic?

The others especially, the Sangh Pariwar people see this as a conspiracy to defame hindus. Well, where is that they do not see a conspiracy to defame hindus? All the media [national and international] is against them, well except what they themselves publish [I think sometime later even that might go against them ;)]. So it is no surprise to me that they see this as conspiracy. O
The following quotes from here summarizes the sentiments of the Sang Pariwar.

Every art whether it be the mad jehadi painter Hussain portraying hindu godesses in the nude and obscene posters or the slum dog film portraying hindu gods and hindu customs and blackening the image of hindus and hindu gods or the novels of Arundhtai Roy and Arvind Adiga maligning hindus, their culture and traditions and their parents, become instant hits since enemies of hindus are national and international and sadly national media exaggerate every bit of it.

And another one from the same source:

The film is a plot made by the Americans to despise the Hindus. This is also one type of war. The film should be banned in India. just like De vinci was banned in India. The film is seriously affecting the sentiments of Hindus before International flora. Alas! there is nobody to protect the sentiments of Hindus.Srirama and srikrishna were shown as villains.Godhra riots were shown unnecessarily. The hero , a slum dog could identify the figure on the dollar but not Mahatma Gandhi on Indian currency.

Well Americans? AFAIK the Brits would not like to call themselves Americans. War? Where is that you people not see war? If war is against all Hindus [who technically speaking I am], I don’t quite agree to it.

The film is seriously affecting the sentiments of Hindus before International flora.

Which Hindus I may ask? Those who are already a part of the Global/International brigade of the Sangh Pariwar?

Srirama and srikrishna were shown as villains.

Well Sri Rama did play a part in the film, but Sri Krishna ? Well I think director forgot to portray him and I am sorry on his behalf. But then we have millions and millions of Hindu gods, why did you not depict them all? And as villains, I doubt it.

Godhra riots were shown unnecessarily.

Well, where the hell is Godhra shown in the film? The riots portrayed are the Mumbai riots, which happened at least 10 years before, please do watch the movie before you comment on it.

Why was the dude a Muslim and the dame a Hindu. Both should be Hindus! This is a [film about] Hindu nation!!

So far so good. Apart from religious zealots there are people who also smell fish in Slumdog M. But this is a different kind of conspiracy. The overall structure of this is like a communist propoganda. Financial gains. For the producers of the film. Well don’t the producers want the financial gains from the films that they make? It is a business for them, is it not?

This is a British ploy to enter in to Indian film industry. So be it. If the result is going to be better movies, I am all for it. So where does exploitation of the poor child actors come? If at all Slumdog M did not became a hit, will such a hype be made about this? How many struggling actors are present in Mumbai, who would go to extremes for just landing a small role in the films, let alone getting being underpaid? Success has a lot of enemies. If at all directors and producers knew what film would be always a hit, why would anybody make a movie which would eventually be a flop? Are there no flop movies in the world?

# Slumdog Oscarpati!!

Slumdog Oscarpati!!!!!!!!

Slumdog Oscarpati!!!!!!!!

And the Oscar goes to ….. Slumdog Millionaire!!!

Well finally it happened. A Oscar to a film made in India with all Indian actors. An when it rains here, it pours, literally. So when Uncle Oscar came to India, he did not come alone, but bought an entire gang with him.

Now with the number of Oscars that have been awarded to the movie, I think it should be rather called Slumdog Oscarpati!!

Well, we Indians have a snobbish way of putting things. We do not appreciate the work done by our fellow people, unless it is appreciated by the West. In this case it went the other way round. Since the people in the West appreciated Slumdog, people in India are smelling rats and fishes. Here are some of them:

How can a movie as ordinary as Slumdog Millionaire win 8 Oscars?

Why was Rahman given Oscar for this movie, he has done much better job elsewhere?

If it was presented as movie made by Indians, [formally for the Oscars Slumdog was a British Production] we would not have won the Oscars?

We are selling our poverty to get the world attention.

The film makers exploited the child actors. Did not pay them lot of money, but made loads of money themselves.

The film is anti-Hindu।

The film portrays India in a bad light.

The movie did not deserve the Oscars.

The Oscars are a ploy to enter into the lucrative Indian movie market by the Western people.

etc. etc. etc.
[No matter how long a list I make, there will be always some objection/criticism that will not be included in this list. Is this is a consequence of the Godel’s incompleteness theorem?]

Given all the objections that are raised, I think the movie should have not have been made. It would have been better, remained as the book Q & A which it was written by Vikas Swarup. The criticisms fall into three categories as I see them

1. Actors and media people, who did not get a part in the Slumdog M.
2. People who smell conspiracy in everything that they hear/see.
3. Indian people who have an inferiority complex, who think that Indians are not good at anything.

I do not have any grudges against any of these people, but I will be presenting my point of view over all these objections. After all, this is my blog.

There is a tirade of media people criticizing the content of Slumdog, as it glorifies the poverty in India. But is this not true? Are there no people who are living in India, with exactly the conditions or even worse that are shown in the movie? Just visit to a nearby slum, and see for yourself. So what is so wrong in depicting what is actually present there? Its not as if all of India lives above poverty line and the movie is falsely depicting the people living in poverty. It is no fiction.

Have no films been made in India which depict the poor? If that had been the case, one might have agreed to the criticisms. But then this theme is not at all alien to Indian cinema, a poor protagonist is a goringly boring theme, is it not? What hurts us is the fact that some firang and not a desi has done this. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Of all the actors that are criticizing the movie, including Amitabh, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty amongst others, would they have dared the same if they thenselves had acted in that movie. Do they ever dare to criticize the movies that they work in? I can smell something burning. Given a chance most of them would have jump at offers from overseas, and it would be considered prestigious for them too, then why this farce?

As for Rahman, yes I know he has done much better work elsewhere. But, then, good music also needs other good things in the movie to make an impact. Personally if you ask me Dil Se is one of the best works he has done.

Cinematography wise the film is brilliant. Period. Though while watching the movie, sometimes I felt faint traces of the Cidade de Deus [The City of God] running among the sequences and camera shots.

Also lets not forget another thing, that there is no point in comparing the movie with the movies which were made before and won the awards. The movie needs to be compared with the movies that it was competing with now, not with all the great movies that were produced world over before. How many times does it happen that a movie certainly deserving an oscar, did not get one. When there is more than one movie which is good, certainly there are hits and misses. Definitely we have much better movies made before Slumdog M, but then it did not compete with them before the award. So we have to compare Slumdog M with the movies that it was competing with now, not all of the movies made before it. And maybe it was the best of the lot, for this year.

Also if we are taking the film apart as we have done, we are not doing any justice to the actors in the film, who gave their efforts for the characters that they were playing. Was that all part of the bigger conspiracy?

Has not this production brought some deserving youngsters to the fame in international cinema? What about them are they not happy for that? Ask them and you will know the answer…

Now the second group. There are two types of people in this world, one who find conspiracies in everything and others who find conspiracies only in somethings. I think I myself fall in the later category.

Some people think this is a propaganda by the Western people to proliferate the Indian production houses and reap the profits from Indian audiences. But why do they need to come to India for that? I mean lot of english movies made without any reference to India or Indians involved in the production have done quite well in India. Remember Titanic?

The others especially, the Sangh Pariwar people see this as a conspiracy to defame hindus. Well, where is that they do not see a conspiracy to defame hindus? All the media [national and international] is against them, well except what they themselves publish [I think sometime later even that might go against them ;)]. So it is no surprise to me that they see this as conspiracy. O
The following quotes from here summarizes the sentiments of the Sang Pariwar.

Every art whether it be the mad jehadi painter Hussain portraying hindu godesses in the nude and obscene posters or the slum dog film portraying hindu gods and hindu customs and blackening the image of hindus and hindu gods or the novels of Arundhtai Roy and Arvind Adiga maligning hindus, their culture and traditions and their parents, become instant hits since enemies of hindus are national and international and sadly national media exaggerate every bit of it.

And another one from the same source:

The film is a plot made by the Americans to despise the Hindus. This is also one type of war. The film should be banned in India. just like De vinci was banned in India. The film is seriously affecting the sentiments of Hindus before International flora. Alas! there is nobody to protect the sentiments of Hindus.Srirama and srikrishna were shown as villains.Godhra riots were shown unnecessarily. The hero , a slum dog could identify the figure on the dollar but not Mahatma Gandhi on Indian currency.

Well Americans? AFAIK the Brits would not like to call themselves Americans. War? Where is that you people not see war? If war is against all Hindus [who technically speaking I am], I don’t quite agree to it.

The film is seriously affecting the sentiments of Hindus before International flora.

Which Hindus I may ask? Those who are already a part of the Global/International brigade of the Sangh Pariwar?

Srirama and srikrishna were shown as villains.

Well Sri Rama did play a part in the film, but Sri Krishna ? Well I think director forgot to portray him and I am sorry on his behalf. But then we have millions and millions of Hindu gods, why did you not depict them all? And as villains, I doubt it.

Godhra riots were shown unnecessarily.

Well, where the hell is Godhra shown in the film? The riots portrayed are the Mumbai riots, which happened at least 10 years before, please do watch the movie before you comment on it.

Why was the dude a Muslim and the dame a Hindu. Both should be Hindus! This is a [film about] Hindu nation!!

So far so good. Apart from religious zealots there are people who also smell fish in Slumdog M. But this is a different kind of conspiracy. The overall structure of this is like a communist propoganda. Financial gains. For the producers of the film. Well don’t the producers want the financial gains from the films that they make? It is a business for them, is it not?

This is a British ploy to enter in to Indian film industry. So be it. If the result is going to be better movies, I am all for it. So where does exploitation of the poor child actors come? If at all Slumdog M did not became a hit, will such a hype be made about this? How many struggling actors are present in Mumbai, who would go to extremes for just landing a small role in the films, let alone getting being underpaid? Success has a lot of enemies. If at all directors and producers knew what film would be always a hit, why would anybody make a movie which would eventually be a flop? Are there no flop movies in the world?

# Dev D

Dev D
Deranged-Explosive-Violent

Saw Dev D. Had heard it and about it. Had seen it in parts, now completely. Liked the movie and the posters [they are really good too]. The story is based on one of the most [ab]used characters in the Indian cinema. Just think about the dying scene in Bhansali’s DevDas. I can’t stand it, but I know many who adore the performance of the King Khan in that film. Sorry. I can’t. Period. It’s [rather he’s] not my type. Have seen the older Devs too. But, nonetheless, found them boring too. What is that fascinates directors, actors and the moviegoers to the character of DevDas. What is in the character for everybody, that again and again the character resurfaces with the cream of actors each time.

Abhay Deol has done really good work so far, I mean he is definitely much better than his two cousins. The choice of the movies that he has made over the years, and his portrayal of the characters tells his story. No need for me to certify. But the character of Dev played by Abhay is the most brilliant one he has played so far. From a boy who has everything in life in his grasp, including Paro, love of his life, to a DEVastated Dev, who is lying waste on the streets of Delhi, the journey itself is the main theme of the film and also the essence of Dev’s character.

Why is that what we desire is just within our reach, but we can never reach it?

The teasing is always there…

Life is like a juicy, ripe fruit just out of our reach.

Dev has Paro [Mahie Gill], but is unable to take her. Mahie Gill plays the role of Paro well enough. The rustic charm of a गवांर jaat babe, is present in her character and in her. The thought that she has shared herself with someone is unbearable for him. This is where the first explosion is shown. The breaking of bottle on the head, is where Dev unleashes himself, from the bonds of Paro. But the bonds are too strong, to be broken. The farther she goes from him, more intense the attraction is [F = -kx ?]. Why does the thought of sharing the one you love with someone [or even something for that matter] else is just unbearable? If this was not true lot of world’s problems would have not arisen. But this is the tendency of the human mind and the human kind. True as Mr. Smith says, we are like a virus [ Do viruses have a mind?].

I love thee not, therefore pursue me not.
– William Shakespeare: A Mid Summer Night’s Dream

Dev tells Paro, what he does not want to, its just a few moments of hate and rage, during which the silent bitterness comes out. This is one of other problems of life, you cannot tell a person how you excactly feel, the feeling is always within you, but somehow it does not find an exit. The feeling remains within you, becomes a part of you, does not depart, for there is nowhere for the feeling to exist outside you. And when you make a decision to talk about it, something else comes out, something that is not planned at all, something which has no meaning, but can be quite devastating and this is what Dev does. For me this is the “emosional atyachaar इमोसनल अत्याचार” of life. This is where Anurag Kashyap is brilliant. If it was any others formula film-maker, the scene would have had required gallons of glycerine. Dev is oblivious to the fact, even when told explicitly that he also did [ the same to] Rasika, that its the same thing Paro did. But obviously as for any self loving, self indulging person the standards for the self and the others are not the same. So is with Dev, a promiscuous Paro is not acceptable for him …

Would a promiscuous lover be acceptable to you?

Paro more stronger than before [and definitely more than Dev] and “moves on” with life. Even when promiscuous, she has an absolute love and is mad about Dev. Dev is her first and true love. But after the Dev-debacle she first reluctantly and then whole heartedly takes the new life that comes to her post-Dev. But post-Paro Dev has no where left, so he goes to Delhi. When he is unleashed he is all around but no-where in particular, like the mists of Delhi. Life for Dev, becomes a psychedelic experience for us. The life revolves in circles in bottles of vodka, fumes of smoke from cigarretes, and the ATM. The hotel room which he lives in is a sort of mirror of Dev’s own life, chaotic, orderless, yet we are somehow strangely attracted to it.

And the one encounter with Paro in Delhi, Dev again loathes her. Paro still down to Earth and still caring about Dev. [Is caring for somebody same as loving them too?] Paro does not stop his advances, but neither does she give any encouragement. [This can be really frustrating, believe me.] On the other hand, the imagery of Paro doing it with her [superman] husband is too much for Dec. This is surely इमोसनल अत्याचार.

Can you bear to see your loved one in someone else’s arms?

So he again bursts, Chunni is there to handle him. And guides him to Chanda.

Enter Chanda [Kalki]. As a daughter she has “disgraced” her family and her father kills himself in shame. But Chanda emerges stronger, from all this. Post-MMS, she lives a double life, one of a prositute [A commerical sex worker if you prefer] and one of a college student, thanks to Chunni. Chanda makes a point when she says that, what right do they have to call her a slut, when they all watched “it”. The character of Chunni identifies Dev as an appropriate candidate for the business he runs. In Dev, Chunni finds the ideal customer. And in Chanda, Dev finds the traces of lost love that he is looking for.

Though initially Dev loathes Chanda, she persists, in his life and his outbursts. A bond develops between them, which gives, if only vague, aim to Dev’s life. So there is some relief from the Vodka bottles, but this is short lived too. Dev again unable to bear Chanda doing it to another man, walks out, literally. Again the psychedelic trance life begins. The relfections on the aviator that he wears is now his life. The neon lights of the nights are what Dev sees all around him, life is like a roller coaster ride, which only goes down, always speeding up, never slowing down, but which gives Dev a high, a high to rise above all the troubles life has presented him with.

And here we [all] wander in illusions.
– William Shakespeare: Comedy of Errors

Now that Dev has a BMW, the life speeds up. The life and the BMW gets a hit, literally. The accident scence is another brilliant stroke by the director. You would otherwise see tankloads of blood and dozens of dummies being crushed by the car… But here you see the accident from Dev’s perspective, after all this film is about Dev. The scene is as it would look when you are in non-drivers seat and Dev is in drivers’. The deaths are just like bumps you would feel on a bad road. [Maybe they _are_ bumps for Dev on a bad road of life.] Overwhelmed by the experience he [rather his system] just crashes. Dev is in hospital. And in all this turmoil Sattu is dead. So Dev gets bail to attend the funeral. While coming back, Dev just runs away from the harsh realities in waiting for him back in Delhi. Dev escapes to the Himalayas, maybe seeking a nirvana, maybe just running away like a coward. Finally, his health forces him to come back to the coarse realities in Delhi.

… my pride fell with my fortunes.
– William Shakespeare As You Like It

Once the cash reserves are all gone, Dev takes to the streets literally. Paro is nowhere, neither is Chanda. Dev is and has lost. He desparately looks for Chanda, not Paro mind you, but she is nowhere to be found. Roaming aimlessly on the streets of Delhi, finally Dev finds Chanda, or is it the other way round? Anyway the end is a welcome relief from the other who followed the original DevDas blindly, without any brains good enough for their own interpretation of the story.

The story _is_ loosely based on Devdas, the novel.

Final rating 4.8 out of 5. Must see.

# The Sick Rose

O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

William Blake

This poem is a part of William Blake’s Songs of Experience published in 1794. The above image is the hand illustration of the poem as it appeared in the 1794 edition. Though a little one, this poem like Blake’s other works this poem is loaded with meaning. Just give them as the key words and you will find a lot of entries explaining the meaning of the poem. Wikipedia article also gives multiple meanings to the metaphors used in the poem. Some other commentaries are here and here. As is with other things people see things in their own perspective, with the Experience that they have. No wonder that Blake put this poem of his in the Songs of Experience.

[I first read about Blake in the Rama Series by Arthur C Clarke. Blake’s Tyger is recited there, after seeing the vastness of the alien space ship which is named Rama.]

We as humans try to understand the things that we see and experience as a part of the mental structures that already exist in our minds. Cognitively this is the only way in which can survive in this world. Try to imagine a world in which no new things that you see or experience are not a part of what you have in your mind.

With the comments from others apart, Blake produces two strong metaphorical views about the poem in me. These two views share lines of thoughts and they don’t share some. The interpretation that we can do of these lines depends on the view of the world that we have. Everyone tries to look with the experience that they have at back of their mind. No wonder many people don’t agree to what they perceive in literature.

So what are the interpretations that one can make from these lines?
[One thing is for sure, now it does not matter what Blake had in mind when he wrote this poem. The readers now can make their own interpretations, about what Blake had to say, whether he meant the same thing or not is an entirely different matter.]

O Rose, thou art sick!

In this line the word Rose is a metaphor for woman. If we take a closer look at the Rose in the illustration by Blake, we see a feminine figure metamorphosing from the Rose. So the rest of the line would imply that the woman is sick. But what kind of sickness is this?

The invisible worm That flies in the night,
In the howling storm, Has found out thy bed Of crimson joy: And his dark secret love Does thy life destroy.

What can be an invisible worm? The invisible worm is the cause of the sickness of the rose. The description that Blake adds is that it flies in the night. One of the interpretations is that the worm is an metaphor for the phallus and the sickness of the Rose that is being referred to is a STD. Another of the interpretation is that the it is the act of losing of the virginity and becoming impregnated. The worm seen in this sense is the phallus. As this happens in the night the worm is seen to be flying in the night. One more interpretation for the invisible worm would be the semen, which “flies” in the night.

The howling storm in the night can very well represent the screams of pleasure or pain. In which the woman is ruined [the life destroyed], as she is now impregnated.

The word crimson is also used metaphorically. It can represent both love and blood. For the color of love is red, and that too a dark one. So is the color of blood. The bed of crimson joy can mean the actual bed where the blood of the virgin has been spilled. The other is the red womb of the woman, which has been impregnated [found] by the invisible worm [sperm].

Another interpretation is that the rose symbolizes love, and the worm but a troubled soul. The worm flying around in the night is a lover long lost but never out of one’s mind. The lines

And his dark secret love,
Does thy life destroy.

May represent lovers who may not have been of actually been together, but a unified by a secret bond. These lines can also be taken to represent a secret lover who has married another. But the love still persists and is taking its toll on the woman, who is now in confusion [howling storm], as the secret lover has now [found] a place deep in her heart [the crimson bed]. Hence the life of the woman due to it [secret lover ] stands to ruin.

These are some of the few interpretations of Blake’s Sick Rose, whether you agree or not it depends on you. Many of the interpretations may seem far fetched, but then Blake is such an author that you need to stretch mentally a bit in order to grasp the depth of his thoughts.

Whatever the interpretations, this is one of the most imagination provoking and concise writing I have come across. Blake makes your imagination run wild and the various scenarios unfold which makes these 8 lines come to life.

# Heaven and Hell

Circle Limit IV
Heaven and Hell

by M C Escher

Yesterday I have put up Escher’s Circle Limit IV – Heaven and Hell on my new desk. The Circle Limit series of drawings was drawn by Escher are essentially what are known as his hyperbolic tesselations. The new computer table that I have got has an odd shape. On one end the side is circular and it smoothly metamorphises into rectangle on the other side. Though it is not at all comparable to what Escher has accomplished, I feel bad even when I use the word metamorphosis for this, but I have not found anything better. The table is designed for use with a desktop. So it has sections for different parts of the desktop like the monitor, CPU keyboard etc.
Anyways the main point that I want to tell is that the table at one end is circular. Since I had put Escher’s Three World on another table, I thought it would be a good idea to use a ciruclar print of Escher for this part of the table. Of all the prints I had, which I had taken when I had at my disposal A3 sized printers, the one which fitted the purpose seemed to be Circle Limit IV – Heaven and Hell.

Let us see what Escher himself has to say about this series of works viz. The Circle Limits:

So far four examples have been shown with points as limits of infinite smallness. A diminution in the size of the figures progressing in the opposite direction, i.e. from within outwards, leads to more satisfying results. The limit is no longer a point, but a line which border’s the whole complex and gives it a logical boundary. In this way one creates, as it were, a universe, a geometrical enclosure. If the progressive reduction in size radiates in all directions at an equal rate, then the limit becomes a circle. [1]

And he says this about Heaven and Hell:

CIRCLE LIMIT IV, (Heaven and Hell)
Here also we have the components diminishing in size as they move outwards. The six largest (three white angels and three black devils) are arranged about the centre and radiate from it. The disc is divided into six sections in which, turn and turn about, the angels on a black background and then the devils on a white one, gain the upper hand. in this way, heaven and hell change place six times. In the intermediate, “earthly” stages, they are equivalent. [1]

Like most of Escher’s drawings this one also takes you to a different world. A world which is far away from the reality. A world of mathematics. A world of abstraction. But then as always we can make connections between this abstract world and the real world. The connections that we can make are dependent on the world view that we have. Some people fail to make the connection. They cannot see’.

The Circle Limit series is what brought Escher to the eyes of the mathematicians. H. S. M. Coxeter used Circle Limit II as an illustration in his article on hyperbolic tesselations. Since then the other works of Escher have been examined by the mathematicians, and we find that very deep and fundamental ideaso of mathematics are embedded in them. As to how Escher did it is amazing. The kind of clear insight that Escher exhibits in his artwork is astounding. He could visualize the mathematical transformations in his head and then transform them onto the artwork he was working with. Escher has said

I have brought to light only one percent of what I have seen in the darkness. [2]

This must be certainly true, as most of his artwork is nowhere close to what we see in the light. I rate the artwork of Escher as greater than that of the renessaince artist’s as they had just beautifully drawn what one could “see.” But with Escher we go a step beyond, imagination takes the control. What interests me in Escher is that he can make you imagine the unimaginable. What you know is not possible is demonstrated just in front of your eyes. Logic is discarded. Rather it is kept in the basement which is upstairs for Escher.

Yesterday you start to believe what you thought was impossible tommorow.

The way different things merge for Escher is just unparalled in the work of other artists. What has now become known as “Escheresque” is just the typical of his style. Lot of later artists are influenced by the works of Escher, I have found one Istvaan Orosz particulary good. There are others who are equally good but I don’t remember their names now….

Coming back to Heaven and Hell. The main artwork is in a woodcut format in black and white. For me this is a kind of dyad which represents the world. The idea of two opposing forces one termed to be evil and the other good are all permeating in the Universe. Here also the bat-devils and the angels are the representative of the same. There is no part of the Universe where these two are not present. It might seem that somewhere far out there there is nothing, but it is not so. Even there, the design is the same, it is just too far for us to see. This is what harmony in the universe is about. It is the same everywhere, when you have a broad enough world-view. The cosmologists say that the Universe is homogenous and isotropic, if you choose to “see” it at the right scale. The cosmologists often use Heaven and Hell to illustrate this point. For me introduction to Escher came in a talk by a cosmologist who used The Waterfall to illustrate the idea of a perpetual motion machine. Since then I have become addicted to Escher, as has everybody else who has some sense of imagination. For those who cannot appreciate Escher, I can just pity at their miserable imagination.

References:

[1] The Graphic Work of M C Escher by M C Escher
Ballantine 1975, ISBN 345246780595

[2] M. C. Escher (Icons) by Julius Wiedemann (Editor)
Taschen 2006, ISBN 3822838691

# Heaven and Hell

Circle Limit IV
Heaven and Hell

by M C Escher

Yesterday I have put up Escher’s Circle Limit IV – Heaven and Hell on my new desk. The Circle Limit series of drawings was drawn by Escher are essentially what are known as his hyperbolic tesselations. The new computer table that I have got has an odd shape. On one end the side is circular and it smoothly metamorphises into rectangle on the other side. Though it is not at all comparable to what Escher has accomplished, I feel bad even when I use the word metamorphosis for this, but I have not found anything better. The table is designed for use with a desktop. So it has sections for different parts of the desktop like the monitor, CPU keyboard etc.
Anyways the main point that I want to tell is that the table at one end is circular. Since I had put Escher’s Three World on another table, I thought it would be a good idea to use a ciruclar print of Escher for this part of the table. Of all the prints I had, which I had taken when I had at my disposal A3 sized printers, the one which fitted the purpose seemed to be Circle Limit IV – Heaven and Hell.

Let us see what Escher himself has to say about this series of works viz. The Circle Limits:

So far four examples have been shown with points as limits of infinite smallness. A diminution in the size of the figures progressing in the opposite direction, i.e. from within outwards, leads to more satisfying results. The limit is no longer a point, but a line which border’s the whole complex and gives it a logical boundary. In this way one creates, as it were, a universe, a geometrical enclosure. If the progressive reduction in size radiates in all directions at an equal rate, then the limit becomes a circle. [1]

And he says this about Heaven and Hell:

CIRCLE LIMIT IV, (Heaven and Hell)
Here also we have the components diminishing in size as they move outwards. The six largest (three white angels and three black devils) are arranged about the centre and radiate from it. The disc is divided into six sections in which, turn and turn about, the angels on a black background and then the devils on a white one, gain the upper hand. in this way, heaven and hell change place six times. In the intermediate, “earthly” stages, they are equivalent. [1]

Like most of Escher’s drawings this one also takes you to a different world. A world which is far away from the reality. A world of mathematics. A world of abstraction. But then as always we can make connections between this abstract world and the real world. The connections that we can make are dependent on the world view that we have. Some people fail to make the connection. They cannot see’.

The Circle Limit series is what brought Escher to the eyes of the mathematicians. H. S. M. Coxeter used Circle Limit II as an illustration in his article on hyperbolic tesselations. Since then the other works of Escher have been examined by the mathematicians, and we find that very deep and fundamental ideaso of mathematics are embedded in them. As to how Escher did it is amazing. The kind of clear insight that Escher exhibits in his artwork is astounding. He could visualize the mathematical transformations in his head and then transform them onto the artwork he was working with. Escher has said

I have brought to light only one percent of what I have seen in the darkness. [2]

This must be certainly true, as most of his artwork is nowhere close to what we see in the light. I rate the artwork of Escher as greater than that of the renessaince artist’s as they had just beautifully drawn what one could “see.” But with Escher we go a step beyond, imagination takes the control. What interests me in Escher is that he can make you imagine the unimaginable. What you know is not possible is demonstrated just in front of your eyes. Logic is discarded. Rather it is kept in the basement which is upstairs for Escher.

Yesterday you start to believe what you thought was impossible tommorow.

The way different things merge for Escher is just unparalled in the work of other artists. What has now become known as “Escheresque” is just the typical of his style. Lot of later artists are influenced by the works of Escher, I have found one Istvaan Orosz particulary good. There are others who are equally good but I don’t remember their names now….

Coming back to Heaven and Hell. The main artwork is in a woodcut format in black and white. For me this is a kind of dyad which represents the world. The idea of two opposing forces one termed to be evil and the other good are all permeating in the Universe. Here also the bat-devils and the angels are the representative of the same. There is no part of the Universe where these two are not present. It might seem that somewhere far out there there is nothing, but it is not so. Even there, the design is the same, it is just too far for us to see. This is what harmony in the universe is about. It is the same everywhere, when you have a broad enough world-view. The cosmologists say that the Universe is homogenous and isotropic, if you choose to “see” it at the right scale. The cosmologists often use Heaven and Hell to illustrate this point. For me introduction to Escher came in a talk by a cosmologist who used The Waterfall to illustrate the idea of a perpetual motion machine. Since then I have become addicted to Escher, as has everybody else who has some sense of imagination. For those who cannot appreciate Escher, I can just pity at their miserable imagination.

References:

[1] The Graphic Work of M C Escher by M C Escher
Ballantine 1975, ISBN 345246780595

[2] M. C. Escher (Icons) by Julius Wiedemann (Editor)
Taschen 2006, ISBN 3822838691

# Zafarnama

Recently while reading about the last great Mughal, Aurangazeb, I came to know about a letter called Zafarnama written by Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. Zafarnama literally means letter of victory. The letter was written by the Guru when he escaped a treacherous attack by Mughals in Chamkaur. Earlier oath on Quran had been taken to allow a safe passage to the Guru. There were 40 Sikhs in all who defended a garhi in Chamkaur on 22nd December 1704, amongst them sons of Guru Gobind Singh also gave their lives.
The letter is in verse form, written in persian. The letter has 111 verses dedicated to different things. It is said that the letter caused great remorse to Aurangazeb and hastened his death.
Maybe the all the fundamentalists should also read this letter and understand, what Aurangazeb understood at the end of his life.
More about Zafarnama here and here. The translation below is from here.
Zafarnama by Guru Gobind Singh
O Master of miracles, O Eternal and Beneficent One,
O The Provider of our sustenance, O our Deliverer, Bestower of Grace and Mercy! (1)
O Giver of Bliss, O Great Pardoner, Who holds me by the Hand,
O Remitter of sins, O Bestower of daily bread, O Charmer of our hearts! (2)
O King of kings, O Giver of Good, O guidance of the Way.
O One without colour, without form, without equal! (3)
He who has no material possessions, no army, no ground to stand upon,
Him too, Thou blessest with Heavenly Bliss. (4)
Separate from the world, yet most powerful, the Presence, Who givest Thy gifts as if Thou wert here before us. (5)
O Thou Pure One, Our Cherisher, our only Giver.
O Thou Merciful One, who givest to every land! (6)
O Greatest of the great, Thou art the God of every land:
Of Perfect Beauty, Merciful and Giver of sustenance! (7)
O Master of intellect, O Embellisher of the meek,
O Refuge of the poor, O Destroyer of the tyrant! (8)
O Protector of the faith, Fountain of eloquence,
O Knower of the Real, O Author of revelation! (9)
O Master of intelligence, O Appreciator of Wisdom,
O Diviner of secrets, O Omnipresent God! (10)
Thou knowest all that happens in the world,
And Thou resolvest all its problems and doubts. (11)
O Thou all-knowing God, O Great One,
Thou alone art the organiser of our lives. (12)
The Memorandum to Aurangzeb
I have no faith in thy oaths,
Even if thou bringest in God as thy witness. (13)
I haven’t even an iota of trust in thee,
For, all thy ministers and thy courtiers are liars. (14)
He who puts faith in thy oath on the Koran,
He in the end, comes to ruin. (15)
But, beware that the insolent crow
Can lay not its hands upon one whose protection is Huma, the Bird of Heaven. (16)
He who seeks the refuge of the tiger
Can he be harmed by a goat, a deer or a buffalo? (17)
Had I vowed even secretly on the book of my faith,
I would have withdrawn infantry and cavalry from the field. (18)
And, what could my forty men do (at Chamkaur), when a hundred thousand men, unawares, pounced upon them? (19)
The oath breakers attacked them, of a sudden, with swords, arrows and guns. (20)
I had, perforce to join battle with thy hosts,
And I too fought with the muskets and arrows as best as I could. (21)
When an affair is past every other remedy,
It is righteous, indeed to unsheath the sword. (22)
Hadn’t I taken thee to thy word upon the Koran,
I wouldn’t have chosen the path I did. (23)
I knew not that thy men were crafty and deceitful like a fox.
Else I wouldn’t have driven myself to this state. (24)
He who swears to me on the Koran
Ought not to have killed or imprisoned my men. (25)
Thy army dressed like blue bottles,
Charged us, of a sudden, with a loud bang. (26)
But, he who advanced from thy ranks beyond his defences,
Was hit with such deadly aim of my single arrow that he was deluged in blood. (27)
But they who aggressed not against us
Were left unhurt, unmolested by us. (28)
When I witnessed thy general, Nahar Khan, advancing for war,
I gave him the taste of a single deadly arrow. (29)
And many of his men who boasted of their valour,
Fled the battlefield, in utter shame. (30)
Then advanced another one of Afghan blood,
Rushing forth like flood, like a gun-ball, or a deadly arrow. (31)
He made many assaults with great courage,
Some with conscious skill, and others like mad. (32)
The more he attacked, the more he was mauled,
And then while killing two of my ranks,
He, too, fell dead in the cold dust. (33)
But the cowardly and contemptible Khawaja came not forth like a man,
And hid himself behind a wall. (34)
Had I but seen his face,
I couldn’t but have helped him too with an arrow. (35)
At last, many on their side fell on the ground
Hit by the arrows and the death dealing bullets. (36)
There was, indeed, an overpowering rain of these,
And the earth turned red like the lalla flower. (37)
Torn heads and legs lay in heaps,
As if the earth was covered with balls and sticks. (38)
The arrows whizzed, the bows twanged,
And, it brought forth from the earth only cries and yells. (39)
There were other dreadful, vengeful noises too, of weapons and men,
When men, bravest of the brave, battled like mad. (40)
But, what kind of chivalry is this in war,
That countless hosts should pounce upon a mere forty of us, (41)
When the lamp of the world veiled itself,
And the queen of night came forth with all her splendour. (42)
He who trusts, however, in an oath on God,
His Protection also in He; in need, He shows the Path. (43)
So, not even a hair of mine was touched, nor my body suffered,
For the God, the Destroyer of my enemies, Himself pulled me out to safety. (44)
I knew not that you, O man, were a perjurer,
And a worshipper of self, and a breaker of faith. (45)
Nay, you keep no faith, nor mind religion,
Nor know God, nor believe in Mohammed. (46)
He who observes the tenents of his faith,
He makes a promise but never to break it. (47)
You have no idea of what an oath on the Koran is:
Nay, you have no faith in the One God. (48)
Now if you were to swear a hundred times on the Koran,
I’d regard not thy word, not an iota of it. (49)
Had you ever a mind to keep thy faith,
You would have taken courage and come to me. (50)
From when you gave your word,
Swearing in the name of God’s Word, it was incumbent on you to keep your faith. (51)
If your majesty were to be present here before me,
I would have with all my heart posted you with your treachery. (52)
Do now what is enjoined upon you,
And stick to your written and plighted word. (53)
The written word and the verbal promise of your envoy,
Both, should have been fulfilled by you. (54)
He alone is a man who keeps his word:
Not that he has one thing in the heart, and another on the tongue. (55)
Your promise was to honour the Qazi’s word,
If that be true, then come thou to me. (56)
If you want to seal thy promise on the Koran,
I would send the document for sure to thee. (57)
If only you were gracious enough to come to the village of Kangar,
We could then see each other face to face. (58)
On the way, there will be no danger to your life,
For, the whole tribe of Brars accepts my command. (59)
Come to me that we may converse with each other,
And I may utter some kind words to thee. (60)
I’d send thee a horseman like one in a thousand,
Who will conduct thee safe to my home. (61)
I’m a slave of the King of kings,
And ready to obey His Call with all my heart. (62)
If He were to order me thus,
I’d with utmost pleasure present myself to thee. (63)
And if you are a believer in One God,
Tarry not in what I ask you to do. (64)
It is incumbent upon you to recognise the God,
For He told you not to create strife in the world. (65)
You occupy the throne, in the name of God, the Sovereign of all creation,
But strange is thy justice, stranger thy attributes! (66)
What sense of discrimination is this? What regard for religion?
O fie on such a sovereignty! Fie a hundred times!! (67)
Stranger than strange are thy decrees, O king,
But beware that broken pledges boomerang on those who make them. (68)
Shed not recklessly the blood of another with thy sword,
Lest the Sword on High falls upon thy neck. (69)
O man, beware and fear thy God,
For, though flattery or cajolery He can be deceived not. (70)
He, the King of kings, fears no one,
And is the True Sovereign of the earth and heaven. (71)
God is the Master of the earth and the sky:
He is the Creator of all men, all places. (72)
He it is who Creates all – from the feeble ant to the powerful elephant,
And is the Embellisher of the meek and Destroyer of the reckless. (73)
His name is: “Protector of the meek”.
And Himself He is dependent upon no ones support or obligation. (74)
He has no twist in Him, nor doubt.
And, He shows man the Way to Redemption and Release. (75)
You are bound, indeed by your word on the Koran,
Let, therefore, the matter come to a good end, as is your promise. (76)
It is but meeting that you act wisely,
And be discreet in all that you do. (77)
What, if you have killed my four tender sons,
When I, like a coiled snake remain behind. (78)
It is not brave to put out a few sparks,
And stir up a fire to rage all the more! (79)
What a beautiful thought has Firdausi, the sweet-tongued poet, expressed:
“He who acts in haste, plays the devil”. (80)
When you and I will, both repair to the Court of God,
You will bear witness to what you did unto me. (81)
But, if you will forget even this,
Then, God on High will also forget you from His Mind. (82)
God will reward you well for your misdeed,
Which you launched with all your recklessness! (83)
This is the keeping of faith: this the act of goodness,
To put God above the love of life. (84)
I believe not that you know God,
Since, from you have come only tyrannous acts. (85)
The Beneficent God also will know thee not,
And will welcome not thee with all thy riches. (86)
If now you swear a hundred times on the Koran,
I will not trust you even for a moment. (87)
I will enter not your presence, nor travel on the same road,
Even if you so ordain, I would oblige you not. (88)
O Aurangzeb, king of kings, fortunate are you,
An expert swordsman and a horseman too: (89)
Master of the lands, ruler and emperor. (90)
A skilled wielder of the sword and clever in administration,
A master-warrior and a man of charitable disposition. (91)
You grant riches and lands in charity,
O one of handsome body and brilliant mind. (92)
Great is your munificence, in war you are like a mountain,
You are the king of kings, ornament of the throne of the world:
Master of the world, but far from religion! (94)
I warred with the idol-worshipping hill chiefs,
For, I am the breaker of idols and they their worshippers. (95)
Beware, the world keeps not faith with any:
He who rises also falls and comes to grief. (96)
And look also at the miracle that is God,
That He may destroy a whole host through a single man! (97)
What can an enemy do to him whose friend is God?
For the function of the Great Bestower is: To Bestow. (98)
He grants Deliverance and shows also the Way.
And He teaches the tongue to utter His praises, in love. (99)
In the time of need, He blinds the enemy,
And protects the helpless from all injury and harm. (100)
And he who acts in good faith,
On him, the Merciful One, rains His Mercy. (101)
He who serves Him with all his heart,
God blesses him with the Peace of Soul. (102)
What harm can an enemy do to him,
On whom is the Please of God, our Supreme Guide. (103)
The Creator-Lord is ever his refuge, even if tens of thousands of hosts were to proceed against him. (104)
If you have the pride of your army and riches,
I bank upon the Praise of God, the Almighty. (105)
You are proud of your empire and material possessions, while I am proud of the Refuge of God, the Immortal. (106)
Be not heedless: for the world lasts but a few days,
And man may leave it, one knows not when. (107)
Look at the ever changing faithless world:
And see what happens to every house, every denizon. (108)
If you are strong, torture not the weak,
And thus lay not the axe to thy empire. (109)
If the One God is one’s Friend, what harm can the enemy do,
Even if he multiplies himself a hundred times? (110)
A thousand times let an enemy assault him,
And yet touch not even a hair on his head. (111)

# पेरु

ती बसस्टॅाप समोर ऊभी होती. सोबत एक मैत्रीणपण होती. अाता ती सोबतची कोण मैत्रीण अाहे की नाही, हे मला कस कळल. म्हणजे मी  काही तिला जाऊन वैगरे विचारले नाही की ” अापण दोघी मैत्रीणी अाहात काय ?” म्हणुन. तेवढी अापली हिम्मत असती तर मालक अाम्ही हे असे काही लिहित-बिहित बसलो नसतो. त्या दोघीही पेरु खात होत्या. अर्घा-अर्घा भाग दोघींकडे. त्यामुळे वाटल की त्या मैत्रीणी असाव्यात. अाता खरच असतील की नाही, हे मला माहित नाही. पण मालक हे तुम्ही सिद्ध वा असिद्ध करु शकत नाही. कारण ही गोष्ट फक्त मी पाहिली, म्हणजे अजुनही लोक होते तिथ, पण मी जे पाहिले तेच बघणारे कोणी नाही. अाणि समजा बघितले तरी तिच्या बद्दल लिहणारे तर नाहीच. अाणि ही माझी गोष्ट त्यामुळे माझ अैका. पण ते सोडा. तर सांगायची गोष्ट म्हणजे ही युवती मैत्रीणी सोबत पेरु खात बसस्टॅाप समोर ऊभी होती.
असेल तरी अठरा एकोणीस वर्षांची. कॅालेाजत जात असेल. पाठीला मागे बॅग होती. बसची वाट पाहतांना काहीतरी टाईमपास म्हणून पेरु घेतला असेल, किंवा भुक लागलेली म्हणुन. अाता हे काही मात्र अापल्याला माहित नाही.  दिसायला तशी छानच होती. बऱ्यापैकी गोरी, पण पांढरी फटक नाही. म्हणजे मुबंईकरांच्या भाषेत म्हणायचे झाले तर वाईफ मटेरियल. ती सुंदर असली तरी लक्षात त्यामुळे नाही राहिली. पेरु ती फारच चवीने खात होती. त्यामुळेच ती लक्षात राहिली. शलवार कमीज् घातली होती, इस्त्री, स्टार्च वैगरे केलेली. कपड्याचा रंग वैगरे चांगला होता एकदम गडद हिरवा होता. म्हणजे तिचा कलर सेन्स अापल्याला अावडला.
तशी ती साधारणपणे माझ्याकडेच बघत होती. मला वाटले की मलाच बघते अाहे. असे बरेचदा वाटत,  . पण नंतर कळले की ती अापल्या पलिकडे बघते अाहे. रसत्याच्या दुसऱ्या बाजुला बघितले तर, तिथे बघण्याजोग काही नव्हते. म्हणजे पुष्कळ माणसे, बिलडिंग वैगरे होती, पण विषेश असे काही नाही. मग मला फार बर वाटल. म्हणजे ही पण अापल्यासारखी दिसण्याच्या पलिकडे पाहण्याचा प्रयत्न करत होती. का म्हणुन अापण जे दुष्टीक्षेपात येईल तेच बघायचे? खर जग तर त्या पलिकडेच. अंधाचें तर संपुर्ण जगच असे. दुष्टीक्षेपा पलिकडे बघण्याची अापली सवय लहाणपणाची. म्हणजे खराब झालेली पीसीबी, स्पेस स्टेशन म्हणुन बघायला अाणि वापरायला, (खेळात का ना असु देत) दुष्टीक्षेपा पलिकडे बघावेच लागणार. तर म्हणजे अापण लहाणपणापासुनच जिथे लोकांना काही दिसत नाही, अशा ठिकाणी जहाजे, विमान, पानबुड्या, स्पेस स्टेशन, मोटारी, रणगाडे, बंदुका, सैनिक ईत्यादी बघायचो. हे फक्त मी बघण्यापुरत नाही तर ते तसेच खेळण्या पर्यंत घेऊन जायचो. कारण हे असे दुष्टीक्षेपा पलिकडेचे जग म्हणजे अापल्या बापाची नव्हे तर अापलीच जागीर असते. तिथले नियम, पात्र, गोष्टी या सर्व अापणच ठरवतो. ते म्हणजे एक जागेपणे पाहिलेले स्वपनच असत. असो.
कन्या मात्र अारामात चव घेत, पण भल्ले मोठे चावे न घेता पेरु खात होती. खाता-खाता कसला-बिसला विचार सुरु होता. पण डोळ्यांमध्ये चमक होती. मस्ती होती. जवानी होती. त्यामुळे लिझा रेची अाठवण झाली. तिचे डोळे पण असेच. मस्तीने भरलेले. मला अावडायचे अाणि अातापण अावडतात. लिझा म्हणजे माझी पहिली क्रश. नुसरत फतेह अली खानच्या अाफरिन-अाफरिन मध्ये तिला पहिल्यांदा पाहिले. नुसरत अाणि िलझा दोघांचाही अायुष्यासाठी फॅन झालो. त्यामुळे प्रत्येक मुली मध्ये लिझाची काही प्रतिमा िदसते का बघतो. याचाच कदाचित परिणाम असेल. तशे या पोरीचे डोळे मोठेच, पण डोळ्यांच्या भोवती काजळ लावल्याने ते अाणखी अाकर्षक वाटत होते. भेदक वाटत होते. मोहक वाटत होते. जर तिने नजर मिळवली असती, तर ती काही मला झेलता अाली नसती. गुगली वैगरे नाही. क्लीन बोल्डच. कारण कोणाचे रुप चोरुन बघणे ही एक प्रकाराची चोरीच झाली. अाणि अापण या बाबत ईतकेपण निर्ल्लज नाही, की चोरी करुन थेट नजर मिळवावी. एकुणतर म्हणजे पोरींची गोष्ट अाली म्हणजे अापण फाटेच. त्यात सुंदर वा अापल्याला अावडणाऱ्या, अोळखीच्या असल्या म्हणजे मिळवली. पण ही तर अापल्याला पुर्णपणे अज्ञात होती. पुढे कुठ भेटण्याचा काहीच स्कोप नव्हता. तरीही भिती का हे कोणास ठाऊक? फ्रॅाईड म्हणतो की जे लोक नजर चुकवतात ते न्युरोटीक असतात. जेव्हा हे मला कळले होते तेव्हा, एखाद पदवी मिळेल ईतका तर नाही, पण त्यापेक्षा थोडाच कमी अानंद मला झाला. पण मग नंतर कळाले की नवद्द टक्के लोक न्युरोटीक असतात तर थोडी निराशाच झाली. च्याअायला म्हणजे अापली या बाबत काही अायडेंटीटीच नाही. मग अापण जगापेक्षा वेगळे तर ते कसे?
पेरुला मीठ किंवा तिखट-मीठ लाालेले असेल. कारण जे पेरुचे छोटेखानी घास ती खात होती, ते खाता-खाता तिच्या चेहऱ्यावरचे भाव अगदी सटलपणे बदलत होते. हे असे भाव फक्त अांबट-गोड खातांनाच येऊ शकतात. हे ती अगदी मन-मोकळेपणाने करत होती. तिला काय माहित माझ्यासारखा कोणी तिच्या या सगळ्या गोष्टी मनातल्या डायरी मध्ये टिपतो अाहे ते. अापणाला कोणी बघत अाहे, हे अापल्याला कळल्यावर अापल बिहेव्हियर बदलत. ते म्हणतात की बघणाऱ्या मुळे लोक कॅानशस होतात. पण हिचे मात्र असे काही नाही. ही तर मनमोकळी. सर्वांच्या देखत, सगळ्यांना दाखवत पेरु खात होती, बेधडक, बेडर. कदाचित कोणी, म्हणजे उदाहर्णार्थ मीच, जर तिच्या पेरु खाण्याकडे टक लावुन बघत अाहे हे तिला कळल असत तर तिची रिएक्शन काय झाली असती हे माहित नाही. कदाचित तिला मजाच अाली असती. म्हणे मुलग्यांनी मुलींकडे बघितल तर ते त्यांना अावडत. अावडत असेल त्यांना, मला तर अावडतच. कदाचित तिला रागही अाला असता. असतात ना काही खडुस मुली. पण त्यांना कदाचित पोरांचा चांगला एक्सपिरीअंस नसावा. असो.
तशी तिची पाठीवरची बॅग छोटीच. म्हणजे बॅग तिच्या बांध्याच्या वळण्याच्या बाहेर दिसत नव्हती. बॅग अाहे हे फक्त दोन्ही खांध्यावरुन अालेल्या पट्यांमुळेच कळत होत.  तशी ती अंगाने फार भरलेली नव्हती. पण राईट मास एट राईट प्लेसेस.म्हणजे हड्डीवर कबाब. डौलदार बांधा. अाणि फिटींगतर छानच. म्हणजे काही ठिकाणी, चवळीच्या शेंगेची उपमा द्यायची ईच्छा होते. असो. पण एकंदर बांधा म्हणजे चांगलाच. बघत राहावा असा. त्यामुळे अापल्याला तिचा ड्रेसिंग सेन्स पण अावडला. जे काही अापण घालतो त्या मध्ये जर अापणच कंफरटेबल नसलो तर कशाला घालावे असे कपडे. अलीकडे मी बऱ्याच मुली बघितल्या ज्यांना फॅशन करायची फार फॅशन. म्हणजे अमुक जण असे कपडे घालत म्हणुन अापण पण घालावे. म्हणजे अापण इन व्होग राहातो. पण जर असे करतांना अापल्या शरीराचा थोडाही भाग दिसायला लागला की तो मात्र लगेच झाकायचा. अाणी त्यातुन जर कोणी अामच्यासारखे त्या थोडया दिसणऱ्या नग्न भागाकडे अॅागल करतांना त्या मुलीने बघितल तर मग झालच. अाता अाम्हीच नालायक अाहे, तर नजर तर तशी राहणारच ना. पण असे करतांना समजा तुम्ही पकडल्या गेलेच तर मात्र, तुमची खैर नाही. ईतक्या रागाने तुमच्याकडे बघतील, की त्या डोळ्यांच्या निखाऱ्यांमुळे तुमच शरीरातल सगळ रक्तच सुकुन जाईल. नाहीतर मग थोडी टी-शर्ट खालीकर, किंवा टॅापचा गळा वर कर, ह्या सगळ्या अॅडजेस्टमेंट सगळा वेळ सुरुच. अशा पोरींना बघितल तर त्या फिड-बॅक लुप्स तर नाही ना, असे वाटत. पण काही पोरी अशा नसतात. म्हणजे अापण जे कपडे घातले अाहे, ते घालुन अापण कसे दिसु, अापले अंगाचा कोणता भाग केवढा एक्सपोज होईल हे त्यांना माहित असत. अाणि या पोरी अामच्यासारख्यांनी त्यांना अॅागल केले तरी कंफरटेबल असतात. त्यांना कदाचित अामच्या सारख्यांची दयाच येत असेल. म्हणजे अशा पोरी एकंदर दयाळुच म्हणायला हव्यात. जर माझ्या शरीराकडे फक्त बघुनच तुम्ही शमणार असाल, तर घ्या खुशाल बघुन.
अापली कंबर एकीकडे थोडीशी वाकवुन ती ऊभी होती. तिची ती पोज बघुन दगडी लेण्यांमध्ये कोरलेल्या अपसरांची अाली. या लेण्या बनवल्या असतील तेव्हापण अशीच, कोणीतरी डौलदार बांध्याची सुंदरी त्या मुर्तीकाराच्या समोर किंवा मनात असावी. मग ती मुर्ती बनवतांना त्या मुर्तीकाराने अापल्या मनातले तिचे प्रतिबिंब दगडात कोरले. अाणि तो किंवा ती सुंदरी तर नाही पण त्याच्या मनातील तिची ती प्रतिमा, तिचे ते प्रतिबिंब मात्र अमर झाले. म्हणजे अाज इतकी शतके होऊन सुद्धा माझ्यासारखे लोक, व माझ्यानंतर येणारे कित्येक लोक ही त्याच्या (का तिच्या) मनातली कलपना पाहु शकतील. पण अापल्याकडे अशी काही कला-बिला नाही. अामचे विचार, प्रतिमा, प्रतिबिंब म्हणजे अापल्यापुरतेच. जर मला माझ्या मनातले सगळच एक्सप्रेस करता अाले असत तर बातच अौर. पण जाऊ द्या. अाम्ही हे असेच.
एकीकडे वाकुन ऊभी राहिल्याने तिचे तसेही डौलदार कर्वज अजुनच ऊठुन दिसत होते. डावा पाय अाडवा तर उजवा सरळ अशी ती ऊभी होती. हलकी हलकी हलत पण होती. कदाचित कुठले गाणे अाठवत असेल. माहित नाही. डाव्या हातात रुमाल होता. जेव्हा उजवा हात पेरुचा घास घेण्यासाठी अोठंाकडे अाणत होती, तेव्हा नजर पेरुवर नाही. कुठेतरी अौरच. जो पेरुचा थोडा रस बोटंाना लागला होता तो मोठ्या चवीने चाटत होती. अामचा सिग्नल सुटला, मान अगदी तिरपी करुन, डोळे अगदी कोपऱ्यात नेऊन तिच्या त्या मोहक रुपाचे प्रतिबींब अापल्या मनात खोल कुठतरी सेव्ह करण्याचा प्रयत्न करत राहिलो. शटर बंद, एक्सपोजर पुर्ण.

# Why?

The first time I had seen her, she was different. She seemed energetic, flamboyant and full of life. There was a sparkle in her eyes which I have not seen in many. The dusky complexion of hers with the kohl lined eyes had made an imapct on me, which was not easy to forget. And to add to that she had a great sense of dressing, which again is not easy for me to forget. The choice of colors and materials was almost perfect. And her smile, it was a confidant and smile of a winner. Anywhere I would have recognized her. She was hard to forget. I would have liked to retain this image of hers….
But ….
The other day saw her and I was devastated. The first thing I feel bad about is that even though she was sitting close to me, I failed to recognize her. This is what hurt met the most. Then after straining the memory a bit she came to light. And I felt sorry for her…
I may never know the reasons why she became so…
Maybe there were genuine reasons, maybe she could have been helped,
Maybe….

# Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

छत्रपति शिवाजी महाराजांची कहाणी…
(१) दारी गजान्त लक्ष्मी, जणुं पौर्णिमा सुखाची!
(२) काळ अाला ! काळ अाला ! पेटलेल्या वासनांनी ! धाड ही पडली गिधाडी ! वेढिलें दु:शासनांनी !
(३) लक्ष्मी घरात अाली ही अाज भोंसल्यांच्या !
(४) चिरडुनि गेली, भरडुनि गेलीं, नातींगोतीं क्षणांत सारी !
(५) दे अंबिके, दे चंडिके, दे शारदे वरदान दे !

(६) स्वप्नास पंख फुटले ! पंखांत स्वप्न लपलें ! गर्भंातल्या जिवाचे हुँकार येथ उठले !
(७) फिरली मर्जी फिरला वारा ! फिरल्या नजरा फिरल्या धारा !
(८) कुणि अानंद घ्या ! कुणि मुकूंद घ्या ! कुणि गोपाळ घ्या !
(९)

(९२) अंधारासच फितूर झाला किरण रवींचा हाय कसा ?
(९३) हाय शेवटी हेंच कपाळी ! घात अामुचा काय असा ?
(९४) अविचार कैसा केलास रे पोरा ! कोणाच्या रे घरां, गेलास तूं ?

(९५) दिंडी गेली पुढें ! येतो अाम्ही देवा ! राग न धरावा ! लेंकुराचा !

संदर्भ ग्रंथ: राजा शिव छत्रपति – बाबासाहेब पुरंदरे

# Time – Johnathan Swift

Time…

Ever eating, never cloying,

All devouring, all destroying.

Never finding full repast,

Till I eat the world at last.

Johnathan Swift

# The 5 Φ’s of Life

Life as I see it, has five essential F’s’. Many people may not agree to them, but then this is my blog, so I will tell, whether you like it or not. I will give my reasons for each one, why it is esential according to me. You may agree, or disagree, or give no opinion, it does not matter. Since this blog is more like a personal diary, which I will not link to anybody, I think it is safe to write things here, which I would not like to be in public.

[But then am I not contradicting myself, when I am putting my personal thoughts in a public place?]

So the five F’s

• Phood: Food is essential for our survival, this represents a living organisms most basic needs. This is what distinguishes us from non-living matter. But the food just should not be for sustenance. It should also be enjoyed. What is the point in eating something that you don’t like? No I don’t mean that we get to eat everything that we like, [I am definitely not suggesting that if you don’t have breads then you should eat cakes], but with whatever we have to eat, we should be enjoying it. If you make the food [not like the plants] but in the more human sense of the world. When you “make” food you get joy of creating something wonderful, if you do not then I am sorry for you. Also the cook should have the complete freedom to do with the food .
• Philosophy: This is what distinguishes us from the other living beings, we have to have a philosophy of our own, or at least one that is taken from others. But what is essentially needed is to critically look at the aspects of life.
• Physics: Physics according to some people is the pinnacle of our achievement. Since I am a physicist by training, I have included physics here. Physics has given me a skeptical attitude towards things in life. Though this is not the only path which will lead you here nor that everyone who is a physicist by training will go along this path, but this was my path, hence I list is here.
• Photography: I have included photography for two reasons.[I am still an amateur [literally and figuratively], as I have not been paid for anything that I have done so far.] One is that photography enables you to store moments, that you have for an extended period of time, and that too in a form that you can share with other people. The other reason is about the art of photography itself. When you are behind a camera, you start to see things differently, from differently perspectives and angles. Is this what not a skeptic needs? Photography in a way provides me with practical tools of implementing many philosophical ideas which would otherwise remain abstract.

# Eyes…

I will never look, into your eyes again…
For your eyes, lie again and again…
I am afraid, I might fall for them…
For the result, would be the same…

# Archimedes and the Law of Lever

Archimedes & The Law Of The Lever

The lever presents us with one of the most simple of machines that humans have invented. In fact the lever is one of the six simple machines, which are the building blocks of any complicated, mechanical equipment that we produce. The total six simple machines are:
▪ Lever
▪ Wheel and axle
▪ Pulley
▪ Inclined plane
▪ Wedge
▪ Screw

Simple machines are devices which use mechanical advantage to multiply force. Simple machines can be used to increase the output force, this is at the cost of a proportional decrease in the distance moved by the load. With the mechanical advantage that you get in a lever, you can lift large loads, with application of much less force. We use levers in a variety of ways in our daily life. Just to name a few, the weighing balance, see-saw, even when you lift a weight with your own hand! How many can you identify?

But being a simple machine does not mean that the secret of it can be derived very easily. Just given with a lever, some weights and no other knowledge it is hard for us to derive the mathematical expression for the law of lever. Whereas the Newtonian mechanics gives us a proof, we will see how this proof was presented first. The proof is by Archimedes. Archimedes was the first person to reason and build a theory about the lever, amongst many others things he did besides crying Eureka!! We will sketch the outline of his proof about the law of lever.

If two weights w, W are placed on a horizontal weightless stick, which rests on a support called the fulcrum. One of the following three scenarios will occur. Either the stick will tilt towards the right or the left side, otherwise it will remain horizontal. When the stick remains horizontal it is said to be in equilibrium position. Archimedes considered the question:

“If W is at a distance D from the fulcrum and w is at a distance d from the fulcrum, what condition on W, D, w, d corresponds to equilibrium?”

The answer known to almost all students of physics is that the products wd and WD should be equal. Archimedes did not give a proof to this law in this form. For it is said he would have been offended by multiplying two entirely different quantities such as weight and length. The balance is expressed by him in terms of equality of two proportions W : d = D : w. The statement is that the weights balance at distances inversely proportional to their magnitudes.

Archimedes made some assumptions, which were supposed to be self evident. The assumptions are:

1. Equal weights at equal distances from the fulcrum balance. Equal weights at unequal distances do not balance, but the weight at the greater distance tilts the lever towards itself.
2. When two weights are balancing and we add some weight to one of the weights, the weights no longer balance. The weight to which we add goes down.
3. When two weights balance, we take some weight away from one, the weights no longer balance. The side holding the weight we did not change goes down.

Archimedes uses this assumptions to prove propositions which lead us to the law of the lever. The point in the proofs is that the assumptions should not contradict each other.

Proposition 1: Weights that balance at equal distances from the fulcrum are equal.

Proof: If they are not equal, remove the greater weight difference of the two weights. We have now two equal weights at equal distances from the fulcrum. But according to assumption 3 they do not balance. This contradicts assumption 1. Hence the proof.

Proposition 2: Unequal weights at equal distances do not balance, but the side holding the higher weight goes down.

Proof: Take out the difference between weights, by assumption 1, the remaining two weights balance. If we put back the weight that we have taken, then by assumption 2 weights now do not balance.

Proposition 3: Unequal weights balance at unequal distances from the fulcrum, the heavier weights being at the shorter distance.

Proof: Suppose that the heavier weight is W which is placed at A, and lighter weight w placed at B and the fulcrum is at C, consider the case that they balance each other. Remove W – w from the heavier weight W, thus we have two equal weights. Now by assumption 3, the remaining weights do not balance, but w goes down.

But this is not possible for the following reasons:
Either AC = CB, AC greater than CB, or AC less than CB. Archimedes rules out the first two possibilities. If AC = CB, by assumption 1 the remaining weights balance. If AC is greater than CB then again by assumption 1 weight at A will go down. Thus AC must be less than CB.

Proposition 4: If two equal weights have different centers of gravity, then the center of gravity of the two together is the midpoint of the line segment joining their centers of gravity.

[Archimedes does not define the term “center of gravity”, but approaches the term axiomatically. For a mathematical definition knowledge of integral calculus is required. But we can still understand the term in physical terms. We can assume that all the weight is concentrated at the center of gravity. Another ways is to visualize that the entire weight acts as if it is located at one point, which we know as centre of gravity. ]

Proof: Let the equal weights be w and W, with centers of gravity located at A and B. Let M be the midpoint of the segment AB. Assume that the weights balance at C, a point different than M.

The distance AC is not equal to the distance CB. Hence by Assumption 1 the weights do not balance each other, no matter how C is chosen, as long as it is different from M. This implies that M must be the balancing point.

Here a tacit assumption is made that any two weights have a center of gravity, that is, a balancing point. It is a restatement of Assumption 1 in terms of center of gravity.

Corollary: If an even number of equal weights have their centers of gravity situated along a straight line such that the distances between the consecutive weights are all equal. Then the centre of gravity of the entire system is located on the midpoint of the line segment joining the centers of gravity of the two weights at the middle.

The figure below illustrates the corollary. The center of gravity of the six weights is at C.

Proposition 5: Commensurable weights balance at distances from the fulcrum that are inversely proportional to the magnitudes of the weights. More precisely, if commensurable weights W and w are at distances D and d form the fulcrum, then:

D/d = (1/W)/(1/w) = w/W

[By commensurable it is meant that the ratio of w/W is rational, i.e. there is a third number m such that W = pm, and w = qm and w/W = q/p, and p and q are whole numbers.]

Proof: For convenience let us take a specific case let the ratio of the weights be known, lets say 2:5. So that w/W = 2/5. Let w and W be located at A and B. Let M be their balancing point. What is needed for the proof is that AM : BM = 5:2.

AM/BM = [1/2] / [1/5] = 5/2

We cut the segment AB in to 5 + 2 = 7 equal parts. Divide the weight W into 2*5 = 10 equal parts, and place 5 of them at the midpoints of the five sections just to the right of B, one in each section and five of them in congruent sections to the left of B. Similarly divide w, into 2*2 = 4 equal parts and place 2 of them on the left of A at the and 2 of them to the right of A.

Thus we have a collection of 10 weights each W/10, whose centre of gravity is as same as that of W i.e. B. Similarly the centre of gravity of the w/6 weights is same as that of w, i.e. A. We now have a system of 14 equal weights, which are equally spaced. This collection of 14 weights by the corollary to Proposition 4 balances around the midpoint of the segment holding the 14 weights. This implies the ratio of the lever arms is 5:2, since AM has 2 little weights, and BM has 5 of them. This completes the proof.

Proposition 6: Incommensurable weights balance at distances inversely proportional to their magnitudes.

Proof: Let the weights be W and w at respective distances D and d from the fulcrum. Assume that WD = wd and that the two weights do not balance each other. Assume that weight W goes down.

Remove a small amount of weight from W to obtain W’ such that W’ still goes down but W’ and w are commensurable. Since W’D < wd, W’ rises. This contradiction – that both W’ rises and goes down – proves the proposition.

Is that what prompted him to say

“Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”

Given the things that he asks for i.e. a place to stand and a lever, will a single person be able to lift the earth?

Let us do some order of magnitude physics for this. We assume that we have a strong rigid rod which will act as lever, which is sufficiently long. Lets say that we have a strong person of who can apply a force of $10^3 N$. We know that the weight of earth is $10^{25} N$. We then calculate in order to displace the earth by 1 cm, how much distance Archimedes will have to move. So that $\frac{10^{25} \, N}{ 10^3 N} \times 1\, cm \, = \, 10^{22} \,cm}$. Now $10^{22} \,cm \, = \, 10^{20} \, m$. This is too large a distance. So even if Archimedes moved at an fantastic rate of 100 m/s it would still take $10^{18} \, s$ to complete the arc of $10^{20} \, m$. This is equal to $3 \times 10^{10}$ years or 3 million years. So to do this fantastic job, Archimedes would have to be incredibly powerful, supplying $10^3 \, N$  force for such long, and also should have a fantastic age of 3 million years!!

But anyways Archimedes was a great man, no doubt about that. Archimedes is referred to as greatest mathematician, physicist and engineer of the antiquity. We will get to other wonderful discoveries of the Archimedes soon…

Mach gives albeit a somewhat different account of the derivation of this law.

References:

Archimedes: What Did He Do Besides Crying Eureka?
Sherman Stein

The Science of Mechanics
Ernst Mach

PS: Typing math without LaTeX is a pain….
PPS: Finally \ \LaTeX \ on the blog \ \ldots \

# Oylmpic Medals and Indians

This Olympic in China in 2008 was one with a difference… Our highest Medal grosser the hockey team did not even qualify the same. Then there was a huge cry over this. Many people came out of their slumber about the decaying state of hockey in the country. Hockey being the national game [which is sic] attention should be given to it. The hockey team in its golden years was unbeaten in the Olympics for six years. Thereafter also we did not do a bad show.

• 1928 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
• 1932 – Los Angeles, USA
• 1936 – Berlin, Germany
• 1948 – London, UK
• 1952 – Helsinki, Finland
• 1956 – Melbourne, Australia
• 1960 – Rome, Italy
• 1964 – Tokyo, Japan
• 1968 – Mexico City, Mexico
• 1972 – Munich, Germany
• 1980 – Moscow, Russia

The medals dried up, literally. And maybe due to the spirit of socialism, we were never good in individual games. Although we did get some medals in hockey, if not gold, the other individual medals were never there. You can literally count them on the tips of your fingers [and I am not joking]. Here are the individual medals by Indians in the Olympics in the last 108 years of history.

 Silver Norman Pritchard 1900 Paris Athletics Men’s 200 metres Silver Norman Pritchard 1900 Paris Athletics Men’s 200 metre hurdles Bronze Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav 1952 Helsinki Wrestling Men’s freestyle bantamweight Bronze Leander Paes 1996 Atlanta Tennis Men’s singles Bronze Karnam Malleswari 2000 Sydney Weightlifting Women’s 69 kg Silver Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore 2004 Athens Shooting Men’s double trap

So that before 2008 there are only 6 medals, which I guess you can count with your finger tips, so I was not joking. Mind you there were no medals, any type, between 1980 and 1996 till Leander Paes broke the jinx. What was the government doing then? I mean a nation with second largest population in the world doing so badly in the Olympics and nobody felt anything, nobody did anything? What can be the reasons for this, if not bureaucracy? The officials and the ministers who are related to the Department of Sports are not accountable for what happened. The bureaucrats were secure in their air conditioned offices for the job they would do till the end of their term, while ministers even when changed did not try to bring about change that was desperately needed. They have attained nirvana, if not this Olympics, the next one, which is just 4 years away. I guess the slogan was हम होंगे कामयाब but no body tried. But for a sportsperson it is an different scenario, in four years the world entirely changes, the same form cannot persist for four years, unless you are exceptionally talented. But given the conditions that our sports facilities are in, who will persist with their current form? I have also heard that we have more “Olympic Officials”, who are supposed to be more important than the players themseleves, in the Games. For the babus it is a state sponsored international holiday. And the people who adopt sports as a career, they say, “Do not have a future.”

I think apart from the omnipresent bureaucracy, we our society as a whole, have failed our sportspeople. The encouragement and respect that people in sports get in India is way below, what they should be getting and deserve [Exception being cricket].

Things were drastic during this Olympics. Our old work horse, the national game, Hockey team did not even qualify for the Olympics. It was too late for our Olympic Association that the world has advanced much too far away from us, and we have to speed up. The first step was to remove KPS Gill, the old man who controlled [literally] the Indian Hockey scenario. This step should have been taken long ago. They say Gill destroyed two things, terrorism in Punjab and hockey in the nation. Lets see what results does thus bring. I hope for the best!!

As for the 2008 Olympics, even though veterans could not perform, the youngsters showed the way. Starting from Bindra the jinx was broken. The others who just failed to register a medal, require equal appreciation. They tried their bast but, somehow did not manage it. But alas dudes I am with you…

Some of the people who could not steal the limelight, but were there are [apologies for the omissions]:
Saina Nehwal
Akhil Kumar
Jitender Kumar
Neha Agarwal
Yogeshwar Dutt
and many others whom I have failed to list… And for the hereos here they are Vijender Kumar
Sushil Kumar
Abhinav Bindra

You guys will be heroes for generations to come…

But will it make a difference in the next Olympics?

I guess the best bet would be to release the spirit of The Game from Babus who do not understand The Game. Out source it, corporates should take interest in this sector and should be given the responsibility of preparing our sports people for the next games…

Adios and best of luck till next time…

# Let us Respect The Flag, Respect The Nation?

Recently I got a forward email…

Dear Indian!
Greetings on Independence Day!!

The National Flag is a symbol of the Nation’s respect and pride. There is a liberal use of the flag on Independence Day and Republic day. There is a new trend of selling flags made up of paper and plastic, which is incorrect.

Do’s and Dont’s

• Hoist the Flag at a height in a suitable manner.
• Do not let small children use the National Flag as a toy.
• Do not use or buy plastic Flags.
• Do not use paper Flags to pin up on shirt pockets, etc.
• Take care to see that the Flag does not get crumpled.
• Do not use the Flag as a banner or for decoration.
• Take care to see that the National Flag is not trampled upon or torn.
• Do not let the Flag fall on the ground.
• Do not join cloth pieces to resemble the National Flag.

What do you say? Do you agree? Of course, most of us would. But why? Why does the respecting the National Flag mean respecting the nation? I do not agree completely though…

I will elaborate what I mean to say…

For most of us Indians, The Flag represents The nation. The Flag is an iconification of our national pride. We like to have icons for everything that we respect. That channels our feelings towards the thing respected. The Flag is just like the idolization of many things, you respect the idol, you respect the thing. National Flags project the identity of a nation, they represent and foster the national spirit. The unique designs and colours the flags embody, reflect a particular nation’s character and declare the nations’s separate existence. It is the identity of The Nation. Thus it is but natural that a national flag has a great amount of significance. The respect and dignity of the flag needs to be fostered and maintained, for which explicit rules have been laid down. The rules provide against the burning, mutilation and destruction of the flag. The above mail was a sort of Flag Hoisting for Dummies which contained do’s and dont’s derived from such rules. Respect for the National Flag would mean that the you are respecting the values for which the national flag stands for. The history and the various protocols related to our National Flag refer to the Wikipedia entry, very comprehensively written.

Our flag, therefore, is both a benediction and beckoning. It contains the blessings of all those great souls who brought us to freedom. But it also beckons us to fulfil their vision of a just and united India. As we confront crucial challenges to our security, our unity and integrity, we cannot but heed to the call of this flag to rededicate ourselves to the establishment of that peaceful and just order wherein all Indians irrespective of creed, caste or sex will fulfil themselves.
R. Venkataraman

“[The National Flag is] a flag of freedom not for ourselves, but a symbol of freedom to all people who may seek it.”
Jawahar Lal Nehru

“…while this is a symbol of our past, it inspires us for the future. This flag flies today as the flag of the nation, and it should be the duty and privilege of every Indian not only to cherish and live under it, but if necessary, to die for it.”
Frank Anthony

More than an object the National Flag is an emseble of ideas, which form our nation. National Flag indisputably stands for the whole nation, its ideals, aspirations, its hopes and achievements. It gives you the feeling that you are an Indian.

The importance of a National Flag does not depend on its colour, its bands or its other parts. The flag as a whole, is important and other things-the colours etc, that it contains- are immaterial. The flag may be of a piece of white cloth or of any other insignificant material but when it is accepted as a National Flag, it becomes the emblem of national self-respect. It becomes an expression of the sense of freedom of a nation.

Goving Malaviy

The points that are raised in the quotes above, all of us would surely agree. The Flag played an extremely vital role in India’s struggle for freedom and its adoption was one of the indications of the culmination of that struggle. But today, in the light of the present society, The Flag should be something much more than a mere symbol of freedom.

From time immemorial, people have laid down their lives for their flags. Indeed, there is something so compelling in this piece of cloth, called the National Flag, the people make even the supreme sacrifice for its sake. The National Flag stands for the whole nation, its ideals, aspirations, its hopes and achievements. It is a beacon showing to its people the path hen their very existence is threatened. It is at this time of danger that this much length of cloth inspires people to unite under its umbrella and urge them to defend the honour of their motherland.

Let me ask you another question. How many of you have your own National Flag? When I was a child I, people were allowed to hoist the flag only on certain special days, otherwise you could be jailed for hoisting your own National Flag in your own country. People were afraid in their own country to raise their own Flag. And the police are found to be extra alert for locating and taking action on any disrespect for The Flag. [If they could just show equal enthusiasm for implementing the other laws as well!] What kind of free country would not allow its own citizens to raise The Flag? If we were still under the occupation by the British, this would be understandable, but we were not…
It took maybe 50 years for people to realize this, and kudos to Naveen Jindal for fighting the case in Supreme Court on people’s behalf. The result of this PIL is is that now…

Right to fly the National Flag freely with respect and dignity is a fundamental right of a citizen within the meaning of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India being an expression and manifestation of his allegiance and feelings and sentiments of pride for the nation;

But even after this people are afraid, when I bought my Flag, people asked me, What will you do with it? I mean this is just plain ignorance, what do you do with a flag? Another few suggested that I could land in trouble [read jail] if The Flag was “disrespected.” And all of these call themselves patriotic…

But is it just that? Just respect The Flag according to the Flag code and you are done. Is there nothing beyond this? The point that I want to raise here is that respecting The Nation does not start at respecting The Flag nor does it end there. It goes much more beyond.

The Flag code is just a ritual, but the meaning of it goes much deeper than the rituals associated with it. From what I see The Flag code is just a hollow ritual, which prevents you from seeing things that lie beyond. If you really respect the nation, there are much better ways to do it, rather than giving too much respect to a piece of cloth so revered.

I ask you another question, of all the bureaucrats and the politicians who “officially” enjoy the privilege of The Flag, how many actually deserve it? Even with MPs who have dozens of cases pending against them, can boast having a flag. This I find the worst possible disrespect for The Flag. This offence is much more grave than one in which a person does not follow The Flag Code.

What I mean here is that see beyond The Flag Code, and try to understand what it implies in our actions. If you are following The Flag Code strictly but are corrupt or promote corruption, or do not follow the rules [lets say even trafic rules], not pay the taxes, etc. etc. You are dishonouring The Flag more than you could do by doing away with all the rules in The Flag Code.

Just a passing remark…
The Flag Code [3A vi] in particular mentions a punishable offence:

lettering of any kind shall not be put upon the Flag;

References:

Citation : 2004 SOL Case No. 069
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Before :- Brijesh Kumar and S.B. Sinha, JJ.
Civil Appeal No. 2920 of 1996. D/d. 23.1.2004
Union of India – Appellant
Versus
Naveen Jindal and Anr. – Respondents
[Available online here.]

The Flag Code of India
[Available online here.]

# Mumbai Locals…

Well Mumbai locals are the life line of the city. But ever wondered how many people can one local train carry? Here I try to estimate the carrying capacity of the local train.

We first want to make an order of magnitude guess for the carrying capacity of the
local train. First let us take the dimensions of one coach of the train.
Let us take the width of the coach to be ~ 3 m or 10 ft. We consider the length of the coach to be
of the order of ~50 ft. Then the floor area that we have in each coach is about 500
sq. ft. We neglect the actual seating arrangement in the local, and consider the
floor area only. We make an assumption that all the people are standing in the coach to
get an upper limit on the carrying capacity of the coach. The passengers are standing
as close to each other as possible. Now we make an estimate of how much area one
person requires to stand. One person would require about 1 sq. ft. area to stand.
Thus in a coach of about 500 sq. ft, about 500 people can stand. Actually there are
9 coaches, and their configuration is as follows. In the Central Railways , a 3-coach
unit is classified as 76, 70, or 72, where 76 is the leading motor coach, 70 is the motor
coach with a pantograph, and 72 is the trailer coach. So a nine-coach train has three
units in the following sequence (for the details and lot of other interesting information about Indian Railways visit here):

(76 -70 – 72)(72 – 70 – 76)(72 -70 – 76)

So in out of 9 coaches some space is lost to the motor coach [3 nos.], the driver
coach [2 nos.] and the eeffective area of the train is reduced. The motor coach has an
area of about 10 ft. and the driver coach of about 5 ft, so about 40 ft is reduced. So
the eeffective number of coaches are 8. Since each coach can hold about 500 people,
8 eeffective coaches will have about 4000 people. We have given about 1 sq. ft. for
one person to stand, but in reality especially in the peak hours the rush is much more
than that, so this estimate will have to be increased. We consider that about 1.5
people can stand in 1 square foot of area. Also the presence of the seats and partitions
in the coaches will reduce the eeffective area usable for standing so we assume that
about 10 % of the entire area is lost in furniture. So the number of people in one coach
450*1:5 = 675. So that in 8 coaches 675*8 = 5400 people can stand. But since not
all people can stand we also have to make a correction for this. About 100 people can
sit in a coach, who effectively take about 2 sqf ft. So about about 150 sq. ft. is taken
by them. So out of the 450 sq we are left with 300 sq ft, so eeffectively 300*1:5 = 450
people are standing. So the total number of people per coach is 450 + 100 = 550. So
that total number of people per train is 550* 8 = 4400. The figures that we get from
Wikipedia show that about 4500-5000 people travel in the local trains during the
peak hours.

So our guess is near about correct!!

This method of analysis is known as solving problem the Fermi way and the problems are Fermi problems. Named after the 20th century physicist Enrico Fermi, such problems typically involve making justified guesses about quantities that seem impossible to compute given limited available information. Fermi was known for his ability to make good approximate calculations with little or no actual data, hence the name.

# Sociological Perspectives…

In sociology there are three major perspectives. These perspectives try to see the social world that we live in, by different lenses. The facts remain the same, but the causes that are ascribed to them are different. The same things when seen in different perspectives are coloured differently. The main perspectives are:

• Functionalism
• Reactionism – Marxism – Conflict
• Interactionism

But before going to the details of these perspectives we need operational definitions for many of the terms that we will be using to describe them.

We begin with instinct. All animals have instincts. An instinct involves not only the impulse to do something, but also certain specific instructions to do it. In animals these instructions are coded genetically. The human genetic code does not contain specific instructions to behave in a particular way. What is meant here is that we do not have a particular way in which we build our houses, like birds do. Given a particular species of bird, when they mature they start to build nests in a particular way, which is an identifying mark of that species. Compare this with the humans, we do not have a particular way to build our homes, we improvise on the materials and the style of the houses. The building of houses is not hardwired, we have to learn from either experience, or innovations. This is true for adults as well as infants.

We as an infant when we come to this society, we have certain instincts [will be taken on another article] like hunger and perception which help us to survive. The human infants I think are one of the most unequipped infants of the animal world. The typical period for which the infants have to be taken care of, is also I guess the largest [What is the typical age?]. We humans grow in a society, and are en-cultured in it. The culture of a society is an ensemble of the language, ideas, habits; it is the way of life of a particular society. Another unalienable aspect of culture is that it has to be shared and transmitted across generations. If an idea is not shared and transmitted, what is the use of such an idea. It is the only way a culture can sustain, since the human life span is limited, to carry forward “our way of life” we must present it to the generation that will follow us. Only in this way we can ensure that the ideas we cherish so much will be sustained. Significance of culture is that it enables us to invent ad learn ways of adapting to our environments and changing situations. Culture and society are interwoven, and neither can exist without the other – although cultural artifacts may outlast the society that created them.

Why did India loose out on the progress in science and technology, when in the past it was so advanced as compared with the western society?

So without a culture, so society is not possible. The culture defines accepted ways of behavior for the members of particular society. Socialization is the process by which the individual learns to be a part of the society. The primary socialization which takes place in the childhood is one of the most important steps in the course of human development. It is during the primary socialization that humans become humans. Without socialization an individual would bear little resemblance to any human being as defined by the normal standards of the society.

What one has to understand is that social life is based on rules. It is a game in which you have to follow certain set of guidelines. These guidelines can be explicit or can be implicit.
Every culture has a large number of guidelines which directs conduct in a particular situation. Such guidelines are the norms. Thus a norm is a specific guide to action which defines an acceptable and appropriate behavior in particular situations. Norms are enforced [By whom?] by positive and negative sanctions, these sanctions can be explicit or implicit. It is the threat of negative sanctions that is sufficient to enforce a normative behavior for most of the members of the society. The idea that if you do a particular thing, then people won’t like you is very crucial and acts as a deterrent for non-normative behavior. Certain norms are formalized into laws, which are enforced by official sanctions.

Norms provide us with guidelines for special conditions, values on the other hand provide us with more general guidelines on different aspects. Values are like general accepted principles in a particular culture, on which the way of life of that culture is based. A value is a belief that a particular thing is good and desirable. So people who have particular values in them are seen by the society as good and the person becomes desirable [What are the values that a superhero has?]. So the values defines what is important, worthwhile and what should be a person strive for. Many of the norms are reflections or rather expressions of some value which is regarded highly in a culture [Why do females in many cultures are not supposed to be seen by outside men?]. Since as we have said that humans do not have any hardwired [How and when did this metaphor come into being?] instincts, the instincts are softwired, by the means of norms. Thus human behavior is regulated by norms.

We will see each of the perspectives in details later…

# I’m not there

I’m not there…
or

I am everywhere?

Recently Samir had strongly recommended me to watch a movie called “I am Not There” and I did not get much time to watch it during the last month [He is so influenced that since he saw the movie, his away status message is “I’m Not There!”]. So finally I saw the movie. Well I did not know anything about the movie what it was about, or rather who it was about. The movie begins with short, seemingly totally disconnected shots, involving different actors and characters in different time scales and settings. This style is continued throughout the entire film. Seemingly the things are unrelated, and you get a feeling that you would probably get if you are watching six different TV channels one after the other. There seems to be no coherence, nothing which links these different stories, as not only the time frames but also the character are different. If this was made in bollywood, I guess all the roles would be played by Kamal Hassan, who has a fetish towards playing many roles in a single film. This I think saves him from trouble of showing his talents in different films as different characters, as he can show them off in just one production.

Anyway let me continue with I’m Not There. But then slowly a pattern emerges, even more subtly. What we are seeing here is just one person, who has different “phases” in life. All of us do, don’t we? We are never the same person, that we were yesterday, our experience does change us. This is the meaning of being a human according to me, if you are unable to change with experience then, what is the use of your cognitive apparatus, whether innate or otherwise? Just acting wise, I loved the kid played by Marcus Carl Franklin as “Woody Guthrie”, a version of the young Dylan. And Cate Blanchett was amazing, if fact I did not recognise her, till the titles came ;). She won the Golden Globe Award for her performance, in addition to several critics awards and was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award. Photography was good and the music, music is the soul of the movie as it was of Bob Dylan’s life…

But the movie meant more to me than that…

Yes we do have phases in our life, at a certain age we would be very strongly influenced by some philosophy or persona, but this most of the times does not last forever. How many people now say “Michael Jackson is the King of Pop!” In our childhood we have heroes and fantasy characters which we have a liking for, but they fade away with our childhood and its memories. How many things from your childhood you can remember, which you consider now as stupid? This I think applies to the our so called adult phase also, in fact I think we are all just grown up children, don’t we grow up from children? We have different fads in our life and these fads represent our different phases of life. So this movie is really a longitudinal cross section of Bob Dylan’s life, as seen in different perspectives. One person can have different lives, as disconnected as shown in here. This is a longitudinal view of life, in which we can demarcate the different phases, as we can see them.

But I have another question to raise here. The question is similar to the poster above. In fact this poster iconifies the question. How many different lives you can live at the same moment? Don’t get it? I will put it in another way. How many different phases you are currently living in? I am not talking about the past phases or the future phases, but the current phases. The movies shows the phase changes over one’s life time, but what kind of phase chagnes we do in a matter of a week or day or hours? Another important distinction that I want to add is that the phases shown in the movies were linear, by which I mean you cannot go back to earlier phase from a later one. But in our own life we do, do that.

Let me explain, what I mean here. The question is what are you, now? I can distinctly identify many different “me’s” in a days work. I can be a physicist, an astronomer, a biker, a photographer, a naturalist, a cook, an artist, a designer, a bibliophile, an educationist, a teacher, a film critic, a shopper, a philosopher, an idiot, an art critic and fan, a gardener, a mathematician, a lover, a historian, a collector [of various sorts], a writer, a foodie, a rationalist….

ये जो वल्ड है ना वल्ड, ईसमें दो टाईप के लोग होते है. एक जो सारे जिंदगी एकही काम करते है, अौर दुसरे जो एक ही जिंदगी में सारे काम करते है.
ACP दशरथ सिंह, बंटी अौर बबली

All of these are part of my persona, when I look at them from without, I see them as different as they can be, they are many times totally disconnected, yet they form me, they are the part of my own persona. All these different personalities are somehow integrated to form the whole of me. Though each one of them is most of the times distinct, yet the are related. The relation is through me. Many times I feel as if all these different people are living their lives through me, I am only the medium, and have no life of my own. Or is it that I have multiple lives, and living all of them at the same time? How come these different persona’s came to my life? Why I have only these not others? Does this happen with everybody?

How does one interpret all this, in the larger context of life?

Now that I have raised these questions let me tell you my answer to this. You will interpret all of this differently than I have, and I don’t expect you to agree with my PoV here. I guess the next step is to integrate all of these, and have a broader picture of life. That is what you see as a physicist should be intelligible to the other you, who is not a physicist. This is one way of looking at it, but why should we mix them. It is not at all necessary to mix things, people can and do have disconnected lives, don’t they? What commonality do two people working in entirely different conditions have? Is it imperative that they get each others world views?

What do you say?

How many different “you” you can identify in yourself?

# Beautiful BramhaKamal

The flower of the night bramha kamal (ब्रम्ह कमळ) in Marathi also known as Epiphyllum oxypetalum is one of the most beautiful flowers that you will see. Though the time for which it blooms is very short typically a few hours in the night, it makes the most of it. The fragrance of the flower is to be had, there are no word in any language of the world to describe it. We had a plant at our house for quite some time but it did not flower, once it flowered and we did not notice.

But the next time it did, I was all ready with the Canon S2, so here are the shots from circa June 2006.

Did play with a new White LED torch that I had got recently.

Then when I came to HBCSE, I saw a second one of my life, this is circa August 2006. So here are the photos from that episode. Here a white spider was seen sitting on the petals, waiting for its prey, quite good camouflage!

Can you not see the spider above and below?

Just I was getting over this flower, someone told me that Gajanan in the centre has had an amazing bloom of bramha kamal’s at his house, a staggering 8 of them at the same time. Initially I did not believe it. But anyway we went to see it. So it was another amazing sight. So double eye candy for me on the same night.

In 2007 somehow the plant flowered but I missed to take the shots. But in 2008 I did not. The plant at HBCSE had bloomed twice so far this year, and today on 30 bumper bloom again, total 7 of them!! All at our disposal. So here are the shots from this episode.

Since my white LED torch gave up at the very crucial moment, I had to use a yellow light torch. But this resulted in golded epi’s. Which look equally good!!!

No matter how many times you see them, a new flower of bramha kamal will always delight you, no matter how many times you smell it, you will still crave for its smell. So this is the amazing bramha kamal a.k.a. Epiphyllum oxypetalum.

A good links for information on the same:

http://web.missouri.edu/~riceg/epiphyllum/

# Orchids

Orchids have the most beautiful flowers in the world. If you don’t agree with me, just have a look below. Though in the wild I have been able to spot them only twice. I went to a flower show where I could get an actual glimpse of their beauty.

So here they are…
Some [most] classifications are pending, they will be done when Ritesh finds time….

Habenaria grandifloriformis

Habenaria longicaricata

# The Dialogue

Purity

Oh I am so pure. Don’t touch me!

Why?

Because you will pollute me.

Who, me?

Yes, you.

But, how can I?

You will, somehow.

Is that so?

Yes.

Okay, then go away.

No, I don’t want to.

Why?

Because I like it here.

But then you will get polluted.

No, I won’t.

Are you sure?

Yes I am.

But what if I touch you? Won’t you get polluted?

I don’t know.

What you don’t know?

I don’t know why I want to stay here. Would you tell me?

You did not tell me.

Yes I did.

But when?

So many times, but you did not understand.

I did not understand?

Yes you did not.

How can that be? I am a good person at keeping and understanding relationships, how can you say I did not understand when you told me?

Because you did not understand.

Do not make things more complicated for me.

Am I making things complicated?

Yes you are.

I think it is the other way round.

Means?

I think you are making things complicated for everybody.

No I am not.

Yes you are.

But I just want to stay.

And not be touched?

Yes.

That is something you don’t understand.

Means.

It is as simple as this.

As simple as what?

As simple as, you cannot have the cake and eat it too.

Oh yes I can have and eat it too!

This is what you don’t understand.

Oh yes I do, how will I not have the cake and eat it too? That is not an Escheresque impossibility.

Oh yes it is! And this is the precise thing that you are not understand.

But I am not mathematically minded.

You do not have to be mathematically minded to understand this.

So, if I was mathematically minded would I have understood?

Even if you were, I am doubtful whether you would be able to understand. I know of mathematicians who fail to understand this.

So is there no way for me?

Yes there is.

What is it?

But why should I?

Because you don’t belong here, this is my place.

Friends

But cannot I have shelter here? I am all alone and lonely?

Are you really?

Yes I think so.

I don’t think so.

Why?

When you need to talk, you always find people to talk to.

No I don’t. I don’t have any friends left anymore.

Why?

All of them abandoned me.

Why?

I don’t know the reasons. I had been so nice to all of them.

Were you really?

Yes I was?

Then why did they broke up with you?

They tried to wake me up from my dreamworld. A world where all the things that I do were perfect.

But did they do anything wrong then?

Yes they did.

If they tried to wake you from dream world, what wrong they did?

Yes, they did. Trying to wake me up from my dreamworld, was the precisely wrong thing they did.

But how can that be wrong?

Why not, I want to live in a dreamworld, I am so happy there, why wake me up?

But what happens when dream clashes with the real world. They would be shattered, won’t they? You should see Requiem for a Dream, then maybe you will understand.

I am not thinking about that.

That is what your friends tried to tell you.

I don’t think so.

They tried to rob me from what little happiness that I had, and still I have in my dream world.

They were not. They were just not happy, because I was happy.

How can you say that?

I just know.

Know what?

That people cannot stand it, when I am happy.

But happy for what?

Happy for anything.

Even living in dream world and making castles in the air?

But I was not making castles in the air?

Did they?

Yes and a lot many of them.

But they wanted to take my dream away from me.

So?

That is not right, everybody has right to their own dream.

Yes they do.

Then why were they after me to abandon my dream.

Because they thought it was not good for you.

But I would like keep my dream, they won’t let me keep it.

At what cost?

At any cost!

Then you have paid the cost.

How?

Is that so?

Yes precisely.

But I thought they left me, not the other way round.

No, it is not so.

Why?

They are jealous!

Jealous? For what?

For me being happy.

But if they were friends of yours, how can be they jealous of your happiness?

They were not friends to begin with.

Then?

Is that so?

Yes.

But then so am I, just a compromise.

I don’t know.

It is an imported dream.

So?

What so? Tell me how many imported dreams you get, a very few indeed.

Ok. Any other specialty of this dream?

Yes.

This dream is blind.

What do you mean?

Yes, the dream cannot see people, as it is blind as bat, especially during day time.

And yet you want to hold on to it?

Yes because it is my dream, and it cannot hurt me in any way.

Since you have made [and will eventually make] so many sacrifices for your dream, I think it must be worth those sacrifices you have made.

I don’t know.

What do you mean?

I am not so sure whether the dream will be worth the sacrifices I have made.

They why did you make them?

Well this is my life, and I don’t need you ir anybody to tell me what to do with it.

Did I?

Yes you did?

Well don’t tell me then, what to do with my life and my dream. They are mine and I won’t tolerate any interference with it.

Even if it ruins you?

Yes. And what do you care? As I have already told you, it is my life. So stay away from it!

But that is what I am precisely asking you to do.

Meta-Thinking

What do you mean? I do not understand?

To stay away from me.

I cannot.

You cannot.

Why?

Because you do not capacity or the ability to think about what other person is thinking.

How can you say that?

Why not?

I am above the age of formal operational stage of Piaget.

But you still cannot do meta-thinking.

I don’t think so.

How?

I know all your motives and what you want from me. I know all of your kind, and what they want from my kind.

Is that so?

Yes.

Then tell me what do I want from you?

You and all your kind are all the same.

Ok. Agreed. And I am proud of it.

How can you say that?

Why, is it not my life? Can’t I do anything with it, the way I want.

Not when I am involved.

Is it not hypocritical of you, to say this?

No it is not.

Why?

Because I am special, everybody should take care of me.

What makes you special?

My charms!

I am not charmed any more.

It is not possible!

Why?

You cannot…..

I cannot what? It is my life and my place, I can, and I do.

So?

So just stay away.

But I have told you, I don’t want to stay away.

Then abandon your dream, but still then I am not sure of allowing you to .

Don’t tell me what to do with my life.

Ok.

Why are you treating me so?

You should better know. You have the ability to meta-think don’t you?

Ok. So give me reasons.

I have no reasons.

What do you mean you have no reasons?

I have no reasons for my behavior, and even if I have, I am not obliged to share it with you.

Why?

Because there are no reasons, only choices.

Only choices?

Yes.

I don’t understand this.

You made some choices, you did not ask anybody and did not listened to anybody.

So?

So likewise why do you want to interfere with choices that I make?

Because it involves me!

The choices you made involved me.

So what, I have already told you, don’t interfere with my life.

Then I am sorry, you must leave. This is my dream.

Why?

Every place has its rules, if you don’t follow them you don’t belong there.

But I don’t care about rules.

But others do.

So?

Thats why you must leave.

I don’t understand you or your logic.

Is that my problem?

Yes it is, should it be not?

No.

Why?

I have stopped taking responsibilities which are not mine?

Why?

I don’t benefit from them.

But still you should.

Why?

For me.

No way.

Why?

You are not worth it.

You don’t mean it.

Yes I do.

All of you are torturing me.

Are we?

Yes you are.

You are torturing yourself and others also.

How?

You have the ability to meta-think, don’t you? Think about it.

I can’t.

So be it.

Relationships

But we do have a relationship.

You are wrong.

Why?

We had one, we don’t have one anymore.

You can’t do this to me.

Why?

How can you?

How can I what?

Abandon me.

Why should not I?

It is not proper.

Not proper for whom.

For both of us.

Don’t drag me with you.

But what happened to the relationship we had?

It was a one sided one.

What do you mean?

It was all your side of the relationship.

Means?

Only you benefited from this and still are.

How can you say so?

Look at the past and see what have I gained from this.

I don’t know. But why do you need to gain?

Why should I not gain?

You are a good person. Why do you want to gain something from this?

Why I should not?

Then you are exploiting me.

Nobody exploits anybody.

You wanted something from me, but did not give anything in return.

Why should I?

If you don’t are you not selfish?

No, I am not.

You just want to take, what you want, not give anything in return.

Why do you expect any return from me?

Is it no right?

No, when I am involved it is not right.

This is what your problem is.

What??

You are unable to think what others expect from you.

And?

And when sometimes you know, even then you tend to ignore it.

I don’t agree to that.

Enough!

What do you want from me?

Friendship

But it cannot be one-sided.

How can you say that it is one-sided?

Well in this case I can give you reasons.

What reasons?

See in any friendship there should be some respect for each other.

Are you saying that I don’t respect you?

Yes, and not only me, but lot of others also.

How?

When you are with someone, somewhere, you are not bothered about them, even if they are your friends.

How can you say that?

When you are with somebody, you just don’t care about them.

What do you mean?

When your dream comes calling, you just ignore who is with you.

No, I don’t.

What does it mean if you leave people stranded in middle of nowhere, when you are happily day-dreaming somewhere else.

I haven’t done this.

Yes you have, and that too many a time.

Who says so?

If it was just me, I would have considered it an exception, but I am not the only one who has suffered.

You consider your ignoring of me an insult.

Yes, I do.

Bullshit!

I told you, you don’t have meta-thinking.

Okay. This is one where else I do not fit in.

Well you never seem to have time for us.

Yes, I am very busy person, so many things to do.

So is that my fault?

No.

Have I ever said to you, that I don’t have time, when you have asked for some.

I don’t know.

And how many times have you said that you don’t have time, when I wanted some of yours.

I have already told you, I am a busy person, so many things to do.

So am I, but still I do find time when friends call upon me.

So do you mean I am lying.

No.

Then?

What I mean is, if you want, you can always find time.

But I cannot.

Who are you fooling now?

What do you mean?

Don’t you always find time for somethings or someones.

You are again interfering with my life.

So be it, but it bothers me a lot.

How does this bother you?

For me when somebody says, I don’t have time, I feel the person does not want to be with me.

Another one of your crappy things.

Yes, but I am like that.

So what do I do?

What?

Go away.

But we can talk.

No.

Why?

I don’t want to.

Why?

You have given me enough pain already.

So have you.

No you gave them to me.

You could have avoided them easily.

How?

Maybe you should have avoided me.

But that is what I don’t want.

You are not sure what you want and what you don’t.

How can you say that?

You like me and you hate yourself for that, don’t you?

How can you say that?

I can meta-think at least a bit.

Bullshit, these are your self-gratifying thoughts.

So be it, and here the dialogue ends as there is nothing more left to talk about….

# Monsoon Mushroom Mania

Come monsoon the life giver of Indian subcontinent, and with it comes a plethora of mushrooms. Mushrooms literally mushroom in the monsoons. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors.

So here are few of them from my collection.

I will put the identification, as I get them, it would be great if someone else helps…

# Three Femmes

That day three remarkable events happened. All of them involved females. The first one I call strange attractor. In the morning I was supposed to go at the RTO, for the test of the permanent driving license. When we were still at the driving school, which incidentally is just across the road of the Centre, one particular female caught my attention. She was in her late 30’s and had a typical look of a Northern lady, who has maybe brought up in Delhi or some place nearby. This I deduced from the kind of dress and its fit she was wearing. Somehow I don’t know, but I felt suddenly attracted very much to this lady. This particular lady was not that attractive, neither she had a very curvy figure, but nonetheless I felt a strange attraction towards her. She was standing on the other side of the road, I could not see her properly, but still this strange charm of her, had been cast over me. Why? I could not understand.

I did not miss a chance to see her, see her move, see her talk, trying to figure out why, I felt so attracted to her. With her I felt a sort of familiarity, which I should not have felt, because I was seeing her for the first time. I felt familiar with her face, her body and her body language, the way she talked, it was so familiar. I had seen her. Deja vu. But why? I could not figure out….

And the feeling was very strong, I felt as if I had known her for so long, that I could not imagine things without her. Why should such a case occur with a complete stranger? Not that I have not been attracted to strangers, but this was something different. Some connection was present here, which I could not comprehend or understand even when I wanted to. I felt a sense of belonging to her, which you usually do not feel with complete strangers….

The second case was in the evening. We went to the bus stop to drop her. There was a young [most probably college going] couple sitting at the bus stop. When we went pass them, they seemed to be having a serious talk. The body language of both was heavy, both were carrying, it seemed, a huge burden on them. The girl was fair, maybe 18-19, a real PYT. She was wearing a pink top, which matched with her fair appearance, and had right mass at right places. They were having a silent argument, in which all the violence is in the mind instead of the words. These are the more dangerous types, as you don’t know when the other person will erupt, burst out, when will the physical manifestation of this struggle would occur. I am more this kind of person.

When we went to our stop, the fighting I guess intensified, not verbally but mentally. Just as her bus was at the gate, I saw the guy throwing a bag or something towards the girl, the things were getting out of hand. Then she said something to him, and…. Smack! He hit her right on the face, with a forceful blow. We were standing maybe, 25-30 feet away but I could still clearly hear the unmistakable sound of someone being slapped. They were not looking, they were too keen about the bus that was coming. Though for me the sound of the slap lasted for briefest of moments, for her I guess, it would be audible in her head  for some time to come. It was all happening like it does in the movies. After this incident, the girl could not be seen, as 2-3 buses obstructed our view and when they cleared the girl had already walked out of the depot. The guy was still sitting there on the stop, with an expression on his face as if, nothing had happened. Then came the discussion that whether we should have intervened in what happened. Had the girl still been there, there was a chance that we could have done something about it. May be if she had replied in kind, people around her and us would have supported her. But she did not stay, she offered no resistance and so all our discussions on this issue are all theoretical…. Is this also not the plight of the women who suffer, that they do not offer resistance? They do not face and stand things when they should? May be other people will come to support them, maybe they will not…. If she had shown the guts to face him, I would have of course taken her side, even not knowing who was the wrongdoer. Was it the girl or the boy?

Should we have gone to the guy and asked “Why did you slap her?” Or we as all others at the depot be mute spectators of this event and just be away with it. May be if we had asked he would have attacked us, may be we should have asked her instead. What would be her reaction? What made this guy do this thing to her? What were their troubles which led to this event? These and a lot of other questions will go unanswered and maybe will bother me for some time to come….

Now, to the third one. The enchantress. We went to have ice cream in the night. As soon as I parked and we entered the parlour, I was dumbstruck. For there were a pair of eyes, with almost enchanting and magical effects staring straight at me. The light colored eyes, were full of make-up, with eye-liners and eye-shadows, but even without them, just with a line of kohl, the effect would have been the same. Lisa Ray has the eyes of same color, but this female’s eyes and body were much bigger than hers. With the gaze that female wore, there was no escaping, when she stares at you, you have to look back. And once you look you cannot look for long, as she stared straight right up to your soul, it touches and stirs somethings deep inside you, which you yourself don’t know exist. The gaze penetrated right through your flesh and went beyond, much beyond. It was a glare of something un-human and there was something about it, which I cannot describe in words. You have to experience it to see what I saw. Something in it was not natural, the eyes were scary and yet fatally attractive at the same time. When I stared back, I felt what a moth must be feeling when it goes straight into the flame. The sort of feeling that you get is some sort of fanaticism. The beauty was such that it looked raw, fearful, yet pristine and supreme. I felt a strange attraction towards her, but I could not stare at her, for it was too much for me to handle. Maybe this is what they say happens to you, when a tiger in the wild stares at you, you just cannot let the gaze go….

“Did you look at her?” was her first reaction. She was too scared of her, too scared after the first look itself. So scared that she did not dare to look back at her, for the fear of the gaze of those enchanting eyes. She wondered sleeping next to a person, with eyes like this, and in the middle of the night they suddenly open their eyes. You will not be scared like anything? The female was fair, but not so fair. If she was a bit darker the effect of her eyes and complexion would have been really awesome. Somehow I like dark toned women who have light colored eyes. They just steal the show. There is something about them, which makes them so desirable, they are different and yet they are the same. Simply put it is beyond words, find her and look for yourself what I mean….

# Khuda Ke Liye [In the Name of God]

Much I had heard about the movie Khuda Ke Liye [खुदा के लिए] by Shohaib Mansoor, before I went to see it. The chance I had to see it in the month before did not materialise. I was all set to see the movie when I got the chance this time. When everyone who has seen the movie, gives you good reports about it, your own expectations from the movies are a bit elevated. So was my case, and IMHO, the movie did not fail my expectations. But in seeing the movie I could not keep my Indian bias away, and I could see and relate to it only through that. The movie has three focal themes, formation of a fundamentalist, women rights, American view towards Muslims post 9/11.

The movie starts with a rehearsal of a music concert for the new years eve, which is targeted by right wing fundamentalists. The scene is reminiscent of so many things that happen here. The lead singers are brothers Mansoor [played by Shan, if Salmaan Khan gets too fat he will probably resemble him] and  Sarmad [played by Fawad]. They are from an elite family. The family is progressive in its outlook towards life. What is emphasised in portraying this family is that you don’t have to be staunch fundamentalist to live by one’s religion. The location of the family could have been very well set in India or anywhere, without much difference. The two brothers who have more or less a shared life and ideals till now, which diverge as the younger one is influenced by some Islamic fundamentalists. The character of the Maulana Tahiri [played by Rasheed Naz] is one of the most impressive characters in the film. The power and control that he displays while delivering the dialogues is great.

The entire process of conversion of Sarmad from a pop singer to almost becoming a fundamentalist is perfectly shown. Slowly but surely Maulana Tahiri changes Sarmad’s outlook in a very convincing way. The Maulana seems to have justification for every act that is considered pro-liberal. With such convincing attitude he manages to convert Sarmad from a pop singer, who does not even do namaaz, to a dedicated follower of Islam. The change in Sarmad’s outlook is very visible, as now he considers the music which has been his soul as blasphemous. When he asks his mother to have a hijaab, removes the photos from his home, the family realizes that the things are just about to go out of hand. Just change the characters and the process is equally applicable to any fundamentalist group. Is this not reminiscent of how all the fundamentalists find their new cadres? When reasoned in a biased way, even the most idiotic things appear to be correct and justified. Just consider the politics of hate that is being perpetrated in India.

The other major theme in the movie is with respect to women’s rights. Mary [played by Iman Ali] is a British Muslim girl, born to a Pakistani father. The father has himself married and is living with a British women, but takes a complete U turn when it comes to his only daughter. Thus he is ready to sacrifice the life of his daughter, in order not to become “a laughing stock of the entire Pakistani community.” By deception he takes his daughter to Pakistan to get her married. This is because otherwise her offsprings would be out of Islam, which is a crime. When his brother [Sarmad and Mansoor’s father] refuses to take part in this act of forcible marrying Mary to one of his son’s, the desperate father approaches Sarmad. Sarmad who is assured by Maulana that this would be a noble deed indeed, takes the father and daughter to the remote tribal area on the Afghan-Pak border. In this remote area Mary is forcibly married off to Sarmad, who does this in order to save the religion. Is this not a common story? Heard not only in tribal and rural areas of Pakistan, but also in urban areas of India?

Meanwhile Mansoor is off to America for musical training. In America he finds a mate and enjoys the learning of music there. As the time passes the two become close and finally decide to get married. Just as they get married 9/11 takes place. And Mansoor is taken into custody for being a “terrorist”. Meanwhile Sarmad has changed almost into a fully fundamentalist, makes Mary pregnant forcibly so that she cannot flee from the village, which she has tried once before. The situation of the women in the remote area of Pakistan is not different from that of many women in urban parts of India. Only maybe a freedom of clothes is there, otherwise the fact remains that most of the women are powerless, inspite of the fact that they are educated.

The liberation that is provided to the women is a psuedo one I believe in most of the cases. The choices that a woman can make are already limited by men, but they may not be explicit. The story of Mary is also that of innumerable other women who are forced into marriage by their family. This is story which is also repeated in India in all the states, in all the religions, and classes. This aspect has more to do with gender than with religion. Had Mary being a male, things would have been entirely different, her relationship with a white would have gone unnoticed.

During the film the main characters don’t loose their Pakistani character and identity. When Mansoor is being tortured in America, the dilemma of progressive muslims is perfectly portrayed. Back in Pakistan they are targeted as being, “liberal” in America they are seen as the face of terrorism, with which they themselves do not identify with. Also the dumbness of the American agencies, just in order to get some leads is exposed. This is true for numerous cases which happened post 9/11.

All muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are muslims.

So all the three focal themes of the film are derived from real experiences of people, which makes them feel real and appealing.

Just as things get worse for Mansoor, Sarmad goes for war, things get a bit better for Mary. She is finally able to call for help, and the help does come. She is taken back to Lahore, where she decides to take to court, her husband Sarmad. In what follows in court the intense dialogs try to evoke the logic behind all this matter. Each side is presented in a balanced way, with their own perspectives and logic. To say that Maulana Tahiri is completely wrong is to miss the point of what is being told. Every character has a world view, the point is to understand that from our perspective. Here the guest appearance of Naseer-ud-din Shah as Moulana Wali, is simple superb.What is being portrayed that the interpretation that most people have about any fundamental thing can be multifaceted. One chooses the examples in such a way so as to fit one’s world view, whereas simply and conveniently disregarding the rest of them which do not fit in. When Moulana Wali is called by the court as a religious expert to present the Islamic views on forced marriage, music and other things the view presented are that of a thinker who puts Islam in an entirely new perspective. The views expressed appeal also to the mind, and not only to heart. But people like Moulana Wali are a few, and mostly unheard. Finally at the end of the film, Mary choses to stay back in Pakistan to start a school, Mansoor is deported to Pakistan in a paraplegic state, and Sarmad realizes his mistakes.

As for the music of the film, it is well merged with the visuals. The chants of Allah, Allah … during some of the tense sequels do fit in well. The characters and the story of the film though set in Pakistan, and has a distinct Pakistani touch to it, is equally applicable to many situations. The characters of the film can be set in any situation, where there are fundamentalists forces at play, and so is the story. The dilemma of progressive Muslims is perfectly captured by the director. How the situation changed for many post 9/11 is also effectively shown. The last letter of Mansoor touches ones heart, by telling that you don’t have to punish an entire community for the wrongs of few. This being the directoral debut of Shoaib Mansoor, kudos to him for showing such boldness on screen and capturing what most people knew, but could not show to others. And doing this in Pakistani industry deserves another credit, may he continue making good films, and may more follow him.

So my final rating: 4.7/5 [Must See]

# Summer and Spring Special

With the onset of spring and offset of winter variety of trees bloom their buds. In the spring the trees are just bustling and trying to “show off” what real beauty they have. Grasses, shrubs and giant trees are in a race to outdo each others. Most of them get new lives in the new leaves. After that those who do not bloom in the spring, do it in the heat of summer. In the scorching heat of Indian subcontinent the trees full of colorful bloom do offer some respite.
So here are some of them collected in last few years:
As long as I get shots at these, this post will be updated:
Cassia fistula (अमलतास)

Lagerstroemia reginae (तामण)
Queens Flower Tree

Delonix regia (गुलमोहर)
Flame of The Forest

Plumeria alba (पाढंरा चाफा)
Indian Pagoda Tree

Peltophorum pterocarpum () Copper Pod

Cassia siamea

Tabebuia rosea
Trumpet Tree

Tabebuia argentea
Tree of Gold

Erythrina variegata (पांगारा) Indian Coral Tree

Bombax ceiba (शेवरी) Red Silk Cotton

# Windwolf Re-Registered

The Plan

To ride to Pune [पुणे] and get the registration of WindWolf done on the same day.
This was something long overdue. I had to ride to Pune to get the registration of WindWolf done again. The validity of the registration was till 18th May 2008. When the date was written on the RC book [is it not a wrong nomenclature Registration Certificate Book?] five years ago, I thought this date was long in the future. Even now it is hard to believe that WindWolf has become a part of my life from last five years. It has been five years she has been with me! Now its almost impossible to think life without her…
The RC Book Cover

The Doom Day: 18/5/2008
Any way when that dreaded date became a reality, that the validity of the registration certificate for WindWolf would be over on the 18th. We missed one opportunity to ride to Pune, as the Insurance papers were missing. But thats another story….
Now the missing papers were found, and the time to the deadline was approaching, this ride was a must. So here we go. We ride for Pune on the 15th of May.
The Ride
The plan was to ride early in the morning, when the sun has yet to rise [Does it really everyday?]. Since it is summer, I did not want to face the sun when riding. So anyways the ride begins at 5:10 am. I had put on a jacket and gloves just in case, but they did prove to be useful Who says you do not need them in the summers?

The petrol was not enough and we did hit the reserve just after Vashi [वाशी]. So had to fill in at the first pump. But did fill it in at the second one as the first one was exclusively for diesel vehicles.
With the petrol filled in we rolled on the highway. I used the JNPT [Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust] exit for leaving Panvel [पनवेल], which was discovered by me and Ritesh in a hard way while going to Karnala [कर्नाळा] last year.
Windwolf and Damitr: The incredible duo.
I prefer this way because the traffic is very less as compared to the way through Panvel. From the ‘T’ point where the right way goes towards JNPT and the left one goes towards Goa and Pune.
Here after the Panvel exit, the patch before the crossing of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the once [in]famous dance bars come into view. Thanks to R. R. Patil, they have lost their old glory now, but their neon signs glow even now. There is still some fire left in the ashes, will they rise one day again? All along the way till Panvel there was smog in the lower parts, this maybe partly due to the brick ovens, or the factories that are in the Navi Mumbai [नवी मुबंई] area. The presence of smog gives a surreal look to the entire landscape. At one point there was a lot of free space, in which there were some sparse trees. All you could see was the trees and their tops, most of the ground was covered with smog. So the scene looked as if the trees were growing in clouds instead of land…
Panvel from the JNPT bypass ‘T’ point early in the morning, looks as if it is sleeping cozily in the blankets of smog. Here I saw one very prominent feature of the mountain visible from Panvel, which I missed during all my last rides. This is Prabalgad [प्रबळगड]. Its peak looks impressive and is asking to be climbed…
Panvel in the morning haze, with Prabalgad in foreground, notice the clouds far away, they do look like mountains.
The weather was very fine. The cold wind kisses you on the cheeks and leaves you with a pleasant and warm feeling. The extra sheath of insulation was almost perfect for the kind of weather I was riding into. Another thing about riding in the dark, as the time goes by, the color of the sky changes gradually. The gradients of colors are amazing and cannot be described in words they have to be seen. There are things about riding which you cannot capture in words, but only can be experienced, so time and again I am referring to this feeling of being felt. [If you have not read Robert Pisrig’s Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance maybe you should.] For each phase before the dawn, there are different shades which are dominant. And if, the sky has some clouds, the colors and clouds can play amazing tricks on you. If the road is winding you see clouds in different directions, in different shades, shapes and sizes. Also if the sun is behind the mountains, it gives rise to spectacular silhouettes of the mountain; the mountain is dark black and the sky appears in shades of orange and red. In the background of the mountain range, the distant clouds at a particular time appear themselves as mountains. At the horizon you cannot distinguish between the lines of distant mountain ranges and the array of clouds present beyond them.  They appear so similar, that it is hard to tell them apart. But as the sun rises on the sky they become more demarcated, and they just dissolve. Many of them become thinner and then ultimately melt away…
Another thing about riding the bike that thrills me is that the silence that you get with it. When you are riding alone, you are alone. There are no other sounds, except that of the firing of the engine and the voices of yourself that you hear in the head. The riding on the bike gives you a  solitude, which is so difficult to get with the lifestyle that we have adapted. This is a aloneness in which you can engage in a dialogue with yourself. I am saying dialogue with oneself, not a monologue; because many times I ask myself questions as somebody else, and answer the questions as somebody else. Some times is it the other way round? And I tend to forget myself in all this? Anywhere where am I? [See interesting and highly readable articles about “I in Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennet’s Mind’s I]
Since it is summer, and the spring is almost finished, the trees on the sides of the road greet you with their new and tender leaves. This is a different shade of green, which has its own charms. The green leaves, against the start blue background of the sky mark the summer and spring for me. This marks completion of another cycle for them. Here is a summer time song that I liked and echoes many of my feelings…
After Khopoli [खोपोली], the real climb begins. There is an Electric Power Station, run by the Tata’s, also there is the residential colony till half part of the climb. Just near the colony there is a very sexy curve, which sets the adrenaline up by many levels. O! I just can’t describe the feeling….
Windwolf in The Ghat.
After many windings on the road we finally touch upon the familiar yellow and blue bands which declare that now you are riding the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Here two wheelers and three wheelers are not allowed, and so are tractors and pedestrians not. After riding a little on the expressway, we get down at the Lonavala exit. The sun is quite high up now as compared to the time of the day. Anyway, now the scene created is interesting. As I am riding eastwards I face the rising sun, and it feels like summer, while in both the rear view mirrors I could see dark gray clouds rising. So these two were two entirely different world. One was the future, and one was the present, that of the forthcoming monsoon’s and that of the present summer. It was feeling as if the clouds were following you in the time, I felt as if I was the harbinger of the monsoons which will hit in the coming two weeks [The IMD website claims June 10 is the time it will hit Mumbai]…
You can see some  photos from a ride last year here.
By the time I reach Deccan plateau [दख्खनचे पठार] the sun is quite high, but the wind temperature is still low. Now the local road traffic beings to emerge, but sill is quite low. Near the Bhaje [भाजे लेण्या] caves, I can see the twin forts of Visapur [विसापुर] and Lohagad [लोहगड] still immersed in clouds. They are a sight to watch and trek in the Monsoons. I have done one and a half treks of Visapur fort. Both during the monsoons. I say half because that trek had to be abandoned midway, due to “footware” problems of a six foot hobbit ;). Lohagad I have trekked thrice and not one time in the monsoons.
At 7:30 I had crossed Kamshet [कामशेट] and by 8:00 am I was riding happily in Wakad [वाकड]. They are making a fly-over there, good less jams. I was all happy for this wonderful ride and thought that this will never come to an end. The joy of riding was with me. But ….
As soon as I departed from the highway at the Hinjewadi [हिंजवाडी] junction, the ugly, chaotic, mean, non-rational, messy, unregulated traffic of Pune was attacking me, complimented by the pathetic and distressed conditions of the roads. It took me just over 20 minutes to reach IUCAA from Hinjewadi, but this was the worst part of the ride. UGhhhhh……..
There was dust in my eyes and they became sore. People here don’t respect traffic laws, everyone makes the rules, where all are equal, but they themselves are more equal than the others. So be it. If there is a demise of Pune as a city, the chaos of the roads and one that is on the roads will be one of the biggest reasons for sure. But let go prophecies and we are back to the reality that it was a nightmarish thing after such a wonderful time I had with her.
I reached IUCAA at Sam’s place at 8:25, which means that we reached here in about 3 hrs 15 mins, have to improve on this…
This is the sort of timing I remember for the various points in the ride; they maybe off by 10-15 minutes or so [except the start and end times].
0510 Ride Begins
0545 Petrol Pump
0610 Panvel Exit
0650 Khopoli Exit
0710 Lonavala Exit
0730 Kamshet
0825 Sam@IUCAA
So far so much for the ride now for the real work that had to be done. Which will take more of my time and energy and would be also less rewarding.
The RTO
Well my last visit to the Mumbai RTO for the learners license was not a particularly cheerful one. Last time I had visited the Pune RTO it was five years back in 2003, when I got the WindWolf transferred to my name.
Pathi had come to Samir’s at 9:30 we chatted for a few minute. We started for the Alandi Road [अाळंदी रोड] RTO office, where I had last time got the extension, at about 10ish. We met another traffic snarl at the Holkar bridge, just before the area of The Bombay Sappers. There is a ghat here, which is just one of the numerous buildings built by the one of the able and admirable lady rulers of India, Ahilyabai Holkar [अहिल्याबाई होळकर] in the late 18th century.
Ughhh, so much I hate these jams …. People just won’t listen, there were two wheelers even on the side footpaths, trying to get an edge [of  a few seconds] over the other riders [And then where are pedestrians supposed to go?]. All this for what, reaching their respective destinations just 2 minutes before?
I knew we had to take a left turn after the Holkar bridge. But thereafter I did not remember the way… So I did the best, when in doubt, ask! And that we did. So finally we reached the RTO office, when I saw it I remembered it.
As soon as you are near the gate there is a line of ‘agents’ greeted us, though not they were not these ones here. But they all bore one similarity to the Agents of The Matrix, they all wore dark goggles. And no ordinary goggles were these; they were the ones not to be hidden. “Never Hide” says baseline of the latest ad campaign by Ray-Ban and believe me these people were following it religiously. And they were definitely not hiding. Maybe they will make a good footage for the next ad series. The goggles they wore were the same yet different, meaning they all had golden frames with dark glasses. No other type of Ray-Ban would suffice, it doesn’t fit the requirements.
The trend of wearing starched cotton shirts [preferably white], with one or two thick gold chains hanging down the neck and sporting a Ray-Ban is a sort of status symbol in Western Maharashtra. Every Tom-Dick and Harry, who is a bit affluent will have one Ray-Ban. And those who do not have one, want one.
Anyways so all these agents ask is what work had to be done. Then I got one, and explained what exactly I wanted. So he agreed, and the cost was settled. I specifically told him that I wanted the papers today only, and that is why I am paying him his share. So then he told me the procedure. The procedure was very simple[?] and was as follows:
[FYI: There are two RTO offices in Pune city, one at Alandi Road, and another one near Sangam bridge [संगम पुल], the distance between them is about 8-9 kms. Its not that they are representing different regions, but they are part of the same office.]
Step 1: Fill a fee of Rs. 60. [This fee was told to me as Rs. 160, which I learnt later.]
But there is a catch here, as already told we were at the Alandi Road Office, this fee was to be deposited at the Sangam Bridge Office.
Step 2: Fill up a form for the re-registration, which has to have the details of the vehicle. This form should have the chassis and engine number which has to be embossed from the vehicle body. Any vehicle has the chassis and engine number imprinted on the body itself. This is sort of an unique ID that the vehicle has got.
With the form following documents were to be attached.
1. The original RC book.
2. Valid insurance papers.
3. A PUC
I had all these so no need to worry.
Step 3: The RTO will then inspect the vehicle in terms of its condition, and the original papers along with their validity. Then the RTO will decide, whether to give the extension or not. Will stamp the RC book with his due sign.
This was it and we were done. 🙂
The Steps 2 and 3 were to be performed at the Alandi Road Office. Why this to and fro business between these two offices I do not understand [and I guess no body else does]!
So be it….
So the agent said that he will manage for paying the fees at the Sangam Bridge office, and also reassured that we wont have to do anything. Okay then he said he will be sending a person at the Sangam Bridge office and said that I give him the fees first, so I did. The time was about 10:30ish. We were told that by 12 we would be done with the work there. So by 12 it will be achieved what I had come to do. He said as soon as the person comes with the paid receipt from the Sangam Bridge office he will call me, till then i have to wait.
So me and Pathi went under a cozy shade of a tree nearby and  waited. We were standing in front of a ground where there were two huge figures of “8” where the novice riders were going to give their tests for their driving licenses. Supposedly if you can drive the bike around the figure of “8” you are eligible for the license. Why this test is so or who devised this test is something lost in the mists of time or I do not know where to ask this question. Some of the more adventurous ones were actually practicing on the track.
Pathi had a lot of nostalgic memories of being here, some 10-12 years back. He narrated the incidents that took place at that time, when the people who actually had come to give the test fell on the “8” track. They say “driving is a privilege not a right.” And to get this privilege you have to give this test. Maybe this was true in the times of Nehru and pre-liberalization, but has not driving vehicles become a sort of necessity in this era. Given the pathetic and bad shape of the public transport, why won’t people choose to get their own vehicles to reach their destinations? If the authorities can provide cheap and reliable public transport why won’t people use it? Why do most of the people choose to buy their own vehicle, rather than use the public transport? I think one of the main reasons is the un-reliability of the public transport. This is true especially for the PMT buses in Pune. Mumbai has I guess the best public transport systems in India both on tracks and on road. Though I did find Delhi’s metro service very good, but the same cannot be said about the buses, autos and rickshaws there. They say Kolkata’s metro service is also good, but i haven’t been there and seeing is believing. And for Bangalore [from what I have witnessed and heard] the situation is as same [or worse] as Pune. I think both the cities are competing with each other as to how worse you can get in terms of roads and the traffic on them.
Most of the PMT buses are in really bad shape. They do not even look good even in the outer appearance, the engines are screaming to get in better shape and I think need an overhaul and servicing urgently. Ughhhh! Compared with the BEST buses PMT don’t stand any where near. Maybe they should learn a lesson or two from them. Some times the question comes to my why should be there so much difference between the buses. Is it due to the fact that most of BEST buses are Ashok Leyland make and most of the PMT buses are TATA make?
The RTO’s office at Alandi Road is huge in terms of the extent, but it has no amenities whatsoever. I mean it has a few trees, placed randomly, but for what would be called as office, there are a few tin roofed sheds. This place was almost the same of what I had seen last time, five years back. So much could be done for this place, so many facilities could have made the place a better one for the people who do their jobs here, and also for those who come here to get the work done. There was no visible sign of any toilet. When I enquired about one, they told me to go to a place behind an abandoned room. But behind that room the space was entirely open. I just could not go there. Then at the other corner of the plot there was a huge arrow with some thing written on the wall in huge alphabets,
येथे लघवी करु नये
And just besides that there was an arrow which said मुतारी [Urinal] and pointed towards a shabby looking shed in the corner. Well then this was it, it was the urinal of the office. I dared to go there and use it. And not at all to my surprise, the toilet was in bad shape. There was a clogging of the wastewater and the stench was unbearable. Why this should be so? Why can’t the people of India provided with decent toilets? This is the bane of India. Anywhere you go the toilets are usually in bad shape. If you think you have got the worse one, wait till you go to the next one, and you will have to redefine the definition of worse. And what about women? What about the torture they have to go through when they use the public toilets? The bad condition of toilets is not just the characteristics of the government offices, the schools, colleges, hotels, bus and railway stops are equally bad. And most of the people feel, bad but are [like me] oblivious when it comes to do something about it. Who is responsible for this? When we are paying taxes to the government is it too much to expect clean and hygienic toilets? I don’t know when the things are going to change….
At the Mumbai airport they charge you Rs. 2 for using the toilets. And the toilets are ordinary in construct and cleanliness. Why this should be so?
And as far as some eateries or canteens are concerned the Alandi Road offers just a few taparis [टपरी], giving you vada pavs and other things. But hygiene is a big question mark. With the space available there, a decent canteen can easily be constructed, if the authorities will.
Anyways, back to the work. So the guy who was supposed to come back from the Sangam Bridge office, did came at about 12:45. My worry was that the work should get over before the lunch. So that we can have our own lunch in peace. But destiny had other plans for us. After that the ritual of filling up the form, in which they put the chassis number by rubbing a pencil on the paper, while the paper is pressed on the numbers embossed on the body of vehicle. With all the details filled in we went to the office of the officer-in-charge, which was really a room with a shed and a few windows. The officer had an attendant who checked all the documents before passing on to the officer-in-charge. When the documents were presented the officer came and looked at the chassis number on the vehicle. And asked me
ईडिंकेटर वैगरे सुरु अाहे ना?
[Are indicators etc. working?]
When he was assured of that he just signed the documents and we were done. Only a stamp from some office was required, which would  take 5 more minutes, I was told. So happy, I was. So after 5 minutes the actual sign and stamp happened and gave the remaining money. And then I was told something I was not at all prepared for. After the checkup here we were supposed to go back to the Sangam Bridge office and take the sign of another officer there, and get the work done registered in a register. What the Efff? [Mind you, Efff is a four letter word.] I meant this was not told to me originally, nor was part of the deal, I was not supposed to go to the Sangam Bridge office!!
Anyways, he told me that at the Sangam Bridge office, the work is minimal and will be done very easily. It was a two step process. So add these two steps to the three I have already listed.
Step 4: Get the Officers sign on the papers.
Step 5: Get these papers to a clerk, who will do the actual re-registration in a register. The clerk will do the actual stamping on the RC book, of the extended date.
And after this we are really done.
Our agent said that after submission of the documents the clerk will tell us, after how many days we had to come back, to collect the documents. This news was not certainly good. I had to get the documents today. So I asked him, are there any other agents, who can help me there. He gave me number of some other guy there, who sits under Tree No. 4 [झाड क्रमांक ४] at the Sangam Bridge office. Curiously when we went there I saw that the trees are labelled by the numbers and the agents actually sit under them.
We were feeling quite hungry, so decided to have lunch first and then go for the remaining work.
पहिले पेट पुजा, फिर काम दुजा.

So we went to Bamboo House in Shivaji Nagar and finished lunch by 2:15 and by 2:25 we were at the Sangam Bridge office. We had called the agent at the Sangam Bridge office saying that we, were coming there and that he should help us. When we went under Tree No. 4 the person we were looking for was not there, he had gone for lunch. We were told by the others agents that this was a work which was easily doable by us, and we should go to the third floor to get it done. So we did. We went to the third floor and in the corner was office of the officer concerned. Here again there was an assistant/clerk who checked the documents before sending it to the officer-in-charge. He checked and promptly sent it in. But after 15 minutes of wait there was no response. And at 1440 hrs the officer-in-charge went for lunch. Well, we wait. Then there came peon, who cleaned the office. So I enquired with him about the process that has to be done, he explained in details.

Officer in charge came back at about 1520 hrs, all other people were going into his cabin for getting the documents signed. After the peon prompted I also went in. The officer-in-charge was already busy signing the heap of documents that was unleashed before him. I told him what my purpose was, and that I had already given the documents in. So he said in a very assuring tone:
तुम्ही दिले अाहे ना, मग होऊन जाईल.
[You have submitted [the documents], then it will be done.]
And done it was, in next five minutes the documents came to the clerk who was sitting outside the cabin. Then he told us that we had to go to the ground floor, for actually getting the registration done. And so we descended, to the lower floors. The life here was bustling with activity, people running around seemingly randomly. The system here is something like this. Every clerk has been alloted a few ‘series’ of the registration numbers. By this it is meant that each clerk only does work for a certain number, like lets say MH-12 AG or MJE etc. So first we had to find the clerk who has our series. In the lists that were present, my series MGE did not show up anywhere. I became a bit tense, everybody thought it was MJE and general confusion followed. Everywhere, everyone was busy. Then finally I was directed to one person, who seemed to be the master in all such matters. The situation became further tense for me, when someone told that this registration was at Nigdi [निगडी] RTO’s Office. Then someone saw the RC Book and to my reassurance told that, although the passing is from Nigdi office, it had been transferred to Pune Office.
The know-it-all guy directed me to, one person, who was in all this chaos not looking busy at all. When I presented him with the papers, he told me that this was not his series to work with and asked me to go back to the know-it-all guy. Then I clarified to him that, ‘that’ guy only had send us to him and further added the newly acquired information about the transfer from Nigdi RTO. Then he looked at the watch it was 1530 hrs and told us to come back at 1700 hrs. I asked his whether the work would be done or not, he replied it would be definitely done.
So we had to wait till 1700 hrs. But at that time, I thought about the agent we had left under, Tree No. 4. I called him and asked him whether anything could be done. He did not reply positively. So I went and met him under the Tree No. 4. He was a bit pissed off that we did not come to him first, and was totally non-cooperative. He told that once we go directly to the clerks/officers there is no deal for them left. And was visibly annoyed, he also called the agent at Alandi Road office and told that we had done this. So anyways I asked him would he be of any help now, he said no, and we left him.
Now back in the office we had no other option but to wait. So we waited in the great hall on the ground floor, where all the counters for various activities were present. There were counters for licences, fees, registration etc. Also on the boards various rules and by rules were present, along with portraits of national heroes. The posters gave in written and details how complicated it was to get the work done, it actually told how many times one had to go to and fro even between the two offices, to get even simple work done. So be it. Also the various district wise numbers of the vehicles for Maharashtra state were given.
After watching all this we felt a little bored it was 1600 hrs already. Pathi suggested that I go and check on the progress of the work. Main worry was the fact that we did not have any proof that we had submitted the documents to them, all the papers and receipts were attached with the form, so if the form is lost or misplaced I will be left with nothing. And the sort of chaos that was present there it was very likely that it will get lost. So I went to check. The clerk did have a good memory, for he recognised me immediately, and also reminded me that he had asked me to come at 1700 hrs. He sort of warned me that, why he should not ask me to come next day for collecting the documents? With this sort of warning I receded back to our hall where we sat from last few minutes.
Just at the entrance to RTO’s office there is a cabin of the PRO. This cabin has a seat for the PRO and a CGI [computer graphical interface] which had the links to all the services that one could avail from this office. This console was touch sensitive and was courtesy of some IT company. So we went and checked with some details, they were explicit and well done. But you had to come here to access this, why cannot they put this on the internet? It would be great help if they do. Here in the great hall I noticed another thing, there were paan [पान] and gutkha [गुटखा]  spits on all the pillars, corners and walls inside the hall. This is another major thing that annoys me, people spitting where ever they find space. The problem is acute in the stairways, where the corners are especially targeted for this purpose. People don’t feel ashamed for this and they do it with pride. When will this attitude change? It they fined Rs. 500 per spit. I think some things will change…
So it was about 1650 hrs, the time that I was given was coming nearby. So I went to him and to my relief my they had found the records for series MGE and also located entry of my vehicle in that register. And after I had gone, they did the needful and entered the renewed registration in the register. Finally it was done, or so I thought.
The clerk who showed me the entries, told me that I have to submit xerox [carbon?] copies of the insurance and the RC book. Now after all this only these copies were not going to stop me. So I just dashed to get them, when he called me back again and told me that it was not needed, as he had checked the originals….
Phewwww…..
So finally the day came to a close at 1705 hrs. And below is the result of a complete days work.
The Doom Day Now Reset to 15/5/2013

I felt like resetting a nuclear device, to five years later, when this ordeal has to be repeated again. Till then
I ride,
The WindWolf  with pride…

# Flamingos!!

Flamingos are a genus of migratory birds which come to India in the summer. The classification is as given under [from Wikipedia]:

Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order: Phoenicopteriformes [Furbringer, 1888]
Family : Phoeniconteridae [Bonaparte, 1831]
Genus : Phoenicopterus [Linnaeus 1758]

There are a total of six species of the flamingos, out of which two the Lesser Flamingo [Phoeniconaias minor] and the Greater Flamingo [Phoenicopterus roseus] come to India. In Mumbai the area near Sewri [शिवडी] mudflats form the Flamingo habitat zone. The mudflats and mangroves here at Sewri accumulate organic richness to draw lots of avians to this region. The Flamingos can be seen here from mid-October to May. The Lesser Flamingos are more abundant than the greater ones with numbers reaching and estimated ten to fifteen thousand. More information about the flamingos can be seen at the Wiki site.
Last year me and Ritesh had visited the Sewri site, but could not get a glimpse of the Flamingos as they were too far away for our eyes and instruments to see. But none the less we saw some sandpipers, ibises, kingfishers and kites et al. But no flamingos!! You can see the images of this trip below.

Bartailed Godwit Limosa lapponica (Linnaeus)

Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos (Linnaeus)
A huge flock of plowers.
So this year we decided to go about it. Ritesh heard that form the Mahul Village boat rides are arranged so that we can get a closer look at the flamingos. Accordingly the plan was made. There was a group of 10 from HBCSE. And others were to join us from BARC. Mr. Krishna was supposed to arrange for the boats at Mahul village.
Anyway we left for Mahul village in autos and an Alto at about 10:45 am. We reached there at about 11:15 am. The auto fare was about Rs. 50. At Mahul village one has to take a turn from the main road to the jetty. Another option to go to Mahul village form HBCSE is to take the Best Bus No. 364 which takes you to Mahul Village and back, via Govandi. The road to the jetty goes through the Mahul village, which is largely a fishing community. On the road to the jetty and at the jetty itself there were posters advertising the Flamingo rides. So we finally reached the jetty and the boat which would take us there was already waiting. In case if any of people with me have not noticed the color of the boat was [Flamingo?] pink, and of course the name of the boat was Flamingo. See the picture below.
The two Koli brothers Shashikant and Chandrakant were the Captians of the boat. They can be contacted on the phone numbers on their visiting card given below to arrange for a ride to watch the Flamingos. They can also arrange for the ride to the Elephanta Island.
The Captain with the cap, Shashikant Koli [शशिकांत कोळी]
The first mate Chandrakant Koli [चंद्रकांत कोळी].
The area of Mahul jetty presents us with a combination of nature and urbanisation at the same time. Along the ground you can see lush green mangroves and just beyond them endless line of factories and other industries, along with power transmission cables form the Tata Power Station. Kudos to the Port authorities who have till date kept the area still habitable to the migratory avians who flock here every year.
We alighted the boat and the journey began, with paddles first then the petrol engine of Yamaha make. Out of the two Chandrakant had quite good knowledge of the bird species in the area, he told us that he had referred to Salim Ali’s book for the same. He could identify all of the bird species that we saw. Though not formally educated in Zoology his knowledge about the same was amazing.
When we went out of the channel from which the Mahul jetty emerges, the tide was still low and we could actually see the mudflats. The water is only about 3-4 feet deep here. We saw our first view of the Flamingos here. Refer to the map below drawn form Wikimapia image, to see how our journey went. In the lower right hand corner the scale of the map is provided. The are in pink denotes the Flamingo habitat zone along the mangroves and mudflats.

As we went by we saw numerous Flamingos who shied away as we went near them. Some of the best shots I took were from this region. The return journey was not that rewarding in terms of the closeness.
So here are the first few shots taken of the flamingos…
A more close up one.
It was a wonderful sight, rows of Flamingos standing on the mudflats, against the backdrop of the South Mumbai skyscrapers. Where else can such a scene be present?

White Ibis Threskiornis aethiopica (Latham).
Along with the Flamingos other waders such as Ibises and Egrets were found to be peacefully having their share of the algae in the mudflats.

Large Egret in flight.

Large Egret Ardea alba (Linnaeus)

Median or Smaller Egret Egretta intermedia (Wagler)

Common Tern Sterna aurantia (J. E. Gray)

Jack Snipe Gallinago minima (Brunnich) [?]

The New Captain of the Boat
The Flamingos in flight are a wonderful sight to see.

Also they make a sort of low humming sound, which is more like a sound of drums beating far away if I can remember it correctly. We had to go through a long route as we had to follow the water channel which was deep enough to take our boat.
During the ride I enquired about the cost of the boat. The cost they said was about Rs. 3 lakhs. The motor engine which was Yamaha made costed around Rs. 2 lakhs and the rest of the boat body which is made of fibre costed around Rs. 1 lakh. So this is an expensive toy to have ;)… So my dreams of having a small boat in the near future are all drowned.
Anyways we were sighting different smaller birds who were busy in finding some food in the mud which was exposed due to the low tide. On our left hand side we could see the Tata Power Plant, which is said to have constructed a bund, where there was none, this is supposedly affecting the ecosystem of the area. Further left, we could see the Elephanta and the Butcher islands. If you make a trip to the Elepahnta islands from here, it will be very easy as they are very near.
The tide was rising and we could feel the force of water rushing in on our little boat. The areas where the water was shallow were especially turbulent. And the waves were a bit high there. So it was decided that we wait in a bit deep water for some time and let the water rise a bit near the shores. When you are anchored in the water and the water is moving around you as in the case of a tide, this illusion as if the boat is also moving comes very strongly. The first time I experienced it was when I was returning to the land from Arnala [अर्नाळा] island fort. And believe me that this illusion can be really strong. We could see some fishes flying form water, and making multiple skips on the water surface before going back in water. Far away we could see a line of pink which got unusually bright at one particular spot. I think there was a great concentration of Flamingos at this spot.
The Great Pink Spot

During this we saw a flock of whistling ducks or teals, which made quite a few acrobatics before landing. But unfortunately we could not hear them whistle.

Large Whistling Teal Dendrocygna bicolor (Vieillot)

One of us wanted to alight at Sewri, so the boat was taken there. Due to rocks under water there was a bit of delay for this, but ultimately it came through. Then we began our journey towards the birds. We could see the ruins of Sewri Fort on the coast, which we missed on the last visit to Sewri. This is the fort to be visited in the near future.

The Sewri Fort with Flamingos at the bottom.
The water had quite risen, even though at the deepest it was just 3-4 feet. The Flamingos were now standing with their feet almost in water. This was the time for them to leave for the dry lands. They would come back here with the low tide.
Meanwhile there were two people with pro-looking cameras who were in a smaller row boat, who went really close to the Flamingos. I wish I was there in that boat. Next time we take that boat instead of this bulky one so that we can get really close to the pink avians we have come to see here. But that is for the next time.
So one by one each flock of Flamingos was going to the dry lands. We went for one of last remaining ones. When they fly in rows they make a scene to watch. Also when they start to fly they take a sort of ‘run-up’ before they get airborne. We could see all this happening in a wave like fashion, as when one of the Flamingos got off the rest of the flock followed.

Just taking the flight

Videos of Flamingos in flight.
These words, photos and videos cannot capture the true beauty and awe of witnessing this thing phenomenon; you have to see it with your own eyes to understand what I mean…
When all were gone we left for the Mahul jetty and then back to the Centre. The return journey was much more easier as the water was now high, hence opening pathways which were not accessible initially. The total cost of the trip went to Rs. 100 per head for the ride, which was totally worth it. So you too find the road to Mahul and meet the pink avians if possible this year.!!!
So till next time ciao…
P.S. Which ones did we see?
Although it was said that we only saw the Lesser Flamingo, after looking at the features of the Greater Flamingo in Salim Ali’s book, we came to a more confusion. The final conclusion was that we saw both the species!!
Here is what Salim Ali’s book says about the identification of two species.
Greater Flamingo
Field Characteristics: A long-necked rosy white stork-like bird, with a heavy pink bill, turned down at an angle from about half its length. Sexes alike. In flight outstretched legs and neck, and the black bordered brilliant scarlet wings are diagnostic.

Lesser Flamingo
Field Characteristics: Upper mandible not overlapping with lower. Bill dark colored with crimson feathers around its base. Plumage darker rose-pink than in the flamingo. Size smaller. Crimson and dark underwings, shorter trailing legs in flight diagnostic.

So what do you say from the images and the sightings that we have?
Me and Ritesh concluded that we saw both!
Correct us if we are wrong…
Ciao
Reference

The Book of Indian Birds
Salim Ali
Oxford, 1996

# A Sociological Perspective On Education Part 1

Education is a part of an individuals becoming a social member. In this article we are considering the question of what education is from a sociological framework. What functions in the society actually the process of education serve? So we are considering two main questions viz.
1. What is the role of education in the society?
2. Why are the different social groups differing in their educational levels?
The idea of formal education for the masses is very recent. Only after the industrial revolution the masses were provided with free, compulsory, education by the state. Why? Earlier the education was limited to a few people who were rich enough to afford it or were part of the clergy. The same case was in the Indian context also. There were no state run “schools” which made sure that the education would be provided to the masses.

But in the last 100 years or so, education has become a major growth industry. And when anything becomes a commodity, the classical demand and supply theory does come into picture. The same has happened with education in the contemporary era. Now higher education being a prized commodity, the consumers are those who can pay for it.

First we take into account the functionalist perspective on education. The two questions that we have started with are

“What are the functions of education for the society as a whole?”
In the functionalist perspective this leads to an assessment of the contribution made by educational to the maintenance of the social structure.

The other question is:
“What are the functional relationships between education and other parts of the social system?”
This leads to analysis which examines the relationship between educational and the economic systems for example.

The functionalist view point in general tend to focus on the positive contributions made by education to the social structure.

We now consider the stand points of various functionalists’ on this issue.

According to Durkheim the major function of education was the transmission of society’s norms and values.

Society can survive only if there exists among its members a sufficient degree of homogeneity; education perpetuates and reinforces this homogeneity by fixing in the child form the beginning the essential similarities which collective life demands.

Without these “essential similarities” the social life is impossible. The creation of social solidarity is an essential task for the formation and sustenance of the societies; and education does this. Durkheim argues that:

To become attached to society, the child must feel in it something that is real, alive and powerful, which dominates the person and to which he also owes the best part of himself.

Education and in particular, the teaching of history, provides this link between the individual and the society. This view can be illustrated by the educational practice in India. The common curriculum developed by NCERT has helped to instil the shared norms and values into a population with diverse backgrounds. It has provided a shared language and a common history for immigrants from every country in Europe. The Indian student learn about the great leaders, the freedom movement and the heritage that they have. In every textbook the pledge that is presented actually socializes the student into a commitment to society as a whole. You can look at the other article in which the history and its relation to the curriculum is present.

Durkheim argues that in complex industrial societies, the school serves a function which cannot be provided either by family or peer groups. Membership in the society as a whole is not based on kinship or personal choice. In the school the individual must learn to cooperate with those who are neither their kin nor their friends. Thus the school provides a small scale model for the society.

It is by respecting the school rules that the child learns to respect the rules in general, that he develops the habit of self control and restraint simply because he should control and restraint himself. It is first initiation into austerity of duty. Serious life has now begun.

Also Durkheim argues that education teaches the individual specific skills necessary for his future occupation, which is particularly important in the industrial societies where a complex division of labour exists. The social solidarity in the industrial society comes from the interdependence of the labour in the process of production. The necessity of combination produces cooperation and social solidarity. The schools thus transmit both:
1. The general values which provide ‘necessary homogeneity for social survival.’
2. The specific skills which provide ‘necessary diversity for social cooperation.’
The industrial society is thus united by value consciousness and a specialized division of labour. Durkheim assumes that the norms and values of transmitted by the educational system are those of the society as a whole rather than of the ruling elite or ruling class. This produces a very different view of the role of education in the society.

Parsons argues that after the primary socialization within the family, the school takes over as the ‘focal socializing agency’. The school acts as a link between the family and the society as a whole, thus preparing the child for his adult role. In the family the child is treated in terms of ‘particularistic’ standards whereas in the society the standards are ‘universalistic’. By particularistic it is meant here that in the family the child is treated as their particular child rather than using yardsticks which can be applied to everybody; and by universalistic it is meant that the child is judged in terms of yardsticks which are applicable to all individuals.

Within the family the status of the child is ascribed, by birth. But the status in adult life is largely achieved. Thus the child moves on from the particularistic standards in the family to the universalistic standards of the society in general. The school is the preparing ground for this transition. The school has universalistic standards against which all the students are measured, these are independent of the sex, race, family background or the class of the student. The schools operate on meritocratic principles; status is achieved on the basis of merit. This is one of the essential aspects of the modern industrial society, where meritocratic principles are applied to all its members. The children are ‘trained’ to be the future citizens in the schools; they are imparted with the basic values of society. This value consensus is essential for the society to operate smoothly. Two major values that the schools inculcate in the students are:
1. Value of achievement.
2. Value of equal opportunity.
The value of achievement is itself fostered by rewarding the students which have high levels of achievement; and by placing the individuals in the same situation in the classroom so allowing them to compete on equal terms in examinations, schools foster the value of equality and opportunity. These values have an important role to play in the society as a whole. An advanced industrial society requires highly motivated, achievement oriented skilled workforce; and the school prepares the students exactly for this. All the students high and the low achievers see system as just and fair, as they all had an equal chance to begin with.

Another function that the school serves is that of selection of the individuals for their future role in the society. By testing, evaluating the students for their skills and capacities they can select the future jobs for which the future citizen is best suited for. Thus the school is seen as a major facilitator in the role allocation for the future citizens.

Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore

Davis and Moore agree with Parsons about the role allocating function of the school but they link educational system more directly to the social stratification. The social stratification is seen as a mechanism which ensures that the most talented and able members of the society are allocated to those positions, which are functionally most important to the society.
Though the thoughts of Davis and Moore represent the common sense view of education, there are certain criticisms of them. Particularly important is the questionable relationship between academic credentials and occupational reward is loose. Another reason is doubt about the proposition that the educational system grades people in terms of ability, it has been argued that the intelligence has little effect upon educational attainment. Finally there is considerable evidence that suggests the influence of social stratification largely prevents effective grading of individuals in terms of their abilities.
Criticisms:

References:
Sociology: Themes and Perspectives
Harlambos and Heald
Oxford 2002

# Zero

For a proper understanding of the evolution and the need for the concept of zero we need to understand how our current number system has evolved from its ancestors. The very need for the concept of zero did not arise till the number systems themselves were well developed. The advancement in the number system necessitated the need for the concept of zero as we now know it. We can identify two distinct manifestations of zero; one is zero as a placeholder and the other is zero as a number, the former has  much earlier origin than the later.
Humans probably before having the concept of numbers or counting then, would have begun with enumeration. By enumeration it is meant that we simply keep a track of objects in a collection or a set by matching the objects with other objects used as counters. A shepherd can keep the track of sheeps in the flock, by keeping pebbles which are equal in number to the number of sheep s in the flock or equivalently [if possible] by counting body parts. Then just by matching each sheep with each pebble the record of number of sheep s can be maintained. When the number of sheep s is increased or decreased the same number of pebbles or other counters can be increased or decreased correspondingly. The other counters that one can have for this type of counting can include the human body itself. In fact many primitive societies do indeed have a counting system based on the body parts. This is the most basic system of counting that we can have. No language is needed for such one-to-one counting.
When the languages developed, particular words were created for various body parts, so these words were used instead of the body parts themselves. This is a transition from enumeration to numeration. Thus one has to remember only the word names in order for counting. But this does not imply the idea of cardinality of number being present in this numeration. For the notion of cardinality of a number to be used in the idea of numeration it required some time. When the questions were asked in the form How many…? in the ancient texts, the answers to these type of questions are given best in terms of the cardinal number. From this further growth would be, the concept of ordinality i.e. the order of things is not important when counting objects. It relates to the fact that the last number enounced in a set not only assigns a certain name to the last object in the set to be matched but also tells us how many objects are there in that set altogether.

The further development of this numeration is the formation of numeration systems. The need for the number systems typically arose from the following question:

What is to be done when the finite ordered sequence of counters is exhausted, yet more objects remain to be matched?

This particular question was answered in different ways only one of which led us to the current number system we have. One of the most simple solutions to this is to extend the ordered sequence of counters. So that we invent new symbols or names to accommodate the excess objects that are to be matched. But this approach makes no sense when we have large number of objects that are to be matched.
A simpler way which lends itself well to the written representation, was extension by repetition. The extension by repetition implies a number system which is based on the additive principle. Most of the primitive number systems are based on the additive principle. Here the figures are entirely free. Their juxtaposition entails adding together their values. In a number system based on the additive principle it makes no difference where you place the symbols corresponding to the numbers. Some of the numbers systems based on the additive principle are; Egyptian, Cretan, Hittite, Greek, Aztec, Roman, Sumerian etc. As an example of the additive principle we consider the Egyptian system. In this system if we want to represent the number 5247 it can be represented in following ways:
When we break down the representation based on the additive principle we get the following:
Thus we see that in the representation of a number in the number systems based on the additive principle. Since addition is both commutative and associative, irrespective of where we place the base numbers the final number that is represented by the various combinations of these numbers remains the same.
This system though seems simple puts a lot of cognitive load on the user. First of all there are different symbols for different numbers and in many of these number systems the symbols have some intuitive association [at least in the lower range] to the number that they represent. So to represent large numbers a large number of different symbols were to be used. In our example of representing the number 5247 in the Egyptian hieroglyphic notation  we have used a total of 18 symbols. Many times for representing large numbers new symbols had to be introduced. The arithmetic operations with these systems presented another difficulty. The number systems based on the additive principle are not well suited for arithmetic operations. For example consider the following sum in the Roman notation:
The above sum gives us no clue to what is supposed to be done. Though there are methods to perform this operations, but the procedures involved are very complicated. The above sum in the current notation would be:
In the number systems based on the additive principle the number signs are static in nature, which have no operational significance. The number signs in this case are more like abbreviations which can be used to write down the results of the calculations performed by some other means. To do arithmetical calculations, the ancients generally used auxiliary aids such as abacus or a table with counters.
The enumeration, numeration as we have seen do not have any requirement for the concept of zero as a number or a placeholder. The same is true with the number systems based on the principle of addition, in these systems there is no requirement of the concept of zero.
The next step in the evolution of the number systems was the hybrid system, called so because it involves use of both addition and multiplication. In the hybrid system when the symbols for lets say symbols for 1000 and 5 are presented together, they meant 5 x 1000 = 5000, whereas in the additive system they will mean 1000+5=1005. In the hybrid system there were basic symbols for the numbers, and symbols for various powers of the base, for example in a base 10, system the symbols for 100, 1000 etc. These number systems used the additive principle for representing numbers below 100.
In case of complete hybrid systems there were special symbols for the numbers 1 – 9, and all numbers including the tens were represented as a product of these base numbers and the powers of 10. This increased the range of numbers that can be represented. The notable hybrid systems are Assyro-Babylonian, Phoenician, Singhalese, Mari, Chinese, Ethiopian, Tamil, Malayalam, and the Mayan. We consider an example from the complete hybrid systems to represent the number 5247 from \cite{uni1}.
When we break down the representation based on the multiplicative principle we get the following:

The hybrid systems thus need a specification of the powers of the base which, determine the value of the number in a given position. This brings us a step closer to the positional number systems based on the multiplicative principle. The hybrid system are not all forgotten and are still in use today. When we verbally read a number it is more of a hybrid number system that we use that a positional number system. That is to say when we read the number 5247, we spell it out as five-thousand two-hundred and forty-seven. Here when we verbally read a number we also explicitly give its corresponding powers just like in case of the hybrid number system. Even in this case the need for zero is not there, the hybrid systems can work without the use of the concept of zero.
So to conclude the hybrid systems are  “Systems based [at least after a certain order] on a mixed principle [both additive and multiplicative] that invokes multiplication rule to represent consecutive order of units.”
We now move to the positional systems or multiplication based systems. These systems have a more abstract representation. The value of a figure in these positional systems varies according to the position in which it occurs in the representation of the number. Due to this the coefficients of the power of the base, into which the number has been decomposed appear. For example in a particular representation the actual value of a number, lets say 5 will depend on which position 5 is present in. If 5 is present in the units place then it represents 5, when it is present in the tens place it represents 50, and so on. If in the hybrid system if we remove the symbols used and just have the numbers only we have a positional number system. In this case the powers of the base for our case take base as 10, are implicitly figured out from the position of the numerals in the representation of the number. We know that in the positional representation of the number 5247, 5 is in the thousands place, 2 is in the hundreds place etc. Once this order is fixed then can we represent a number without any ambiguity? If we just consider the coefficients of the number 5247, the the answer to this probably seems to be true. But is it always so? For answer to this consider another example. Suppose we want to represent a number 1043 in the positional number system. In case of hybrid number system the representation would be like this:

so if we now drop the powers of the base, and just take the coefficients we are left with:

But this is not correct, since 143 is another number and not 1043.Similarly if we take just the coefficients of the number 10403, they are again 143. In case of the non-positional system this was not a problem, since every power and the corresponding coefficient was made explicit. But here if we just consider the coefficients of the number in a particular base, we cannot be sure that the number that we are representing is correct, unless we know for sure that a particular coefficient corresponding to a particular power is not present. In case of 1043 we have the coefficient of 100 absent. Some of the earliest positional systems that were developed suffered from the same problem. In case of the Babylonian system, we are not sure of how to read a particular number in many clay tablets, and the number has to be guessed from the context of the problem. Since the Babylonians used a base of 60, so a number [lets take 5247] was represented as:

In this case there was no ambiguity in base 60 number would be written as [1;27;27]. But even in this case there was no guarantee that the number represented is the number that we want. Suppose if we want to represent 3627 in this notation, then it would be represented as:

which is very easy to confuse with

Thus we see that in case of the positional number system we required a notion that tell us whether a particular coefficient is absent. This requirement initiated the need for the concept of zero. So the discovery of zero was therefore a necessity for the strict and regular use of the rule of the position, and it was therefore a decisive stage in the development of mathematics. So how do we make sure that something is not present in a particular position in a given positional representation of a number. It becomes essential then to have a special sign whose purpose is to indicate the absence of anything in particular position. This thing which signifies nothing, or the empty space, is in fact the \textsl{zero}. As \cite{uni1} pg. 668 puts it: “To arrive at the realisation that empty space may and must be replaced by a sign whose purpose is precisely to indicate that it is empty space: this is the ultimate abstraction, which required much time, much imagination, and beyond doubt great maturity of mind.”
The concept of zero has been discovered three times in the history independently. It was discovered first by the Babylonians, the Mayans and the Indians. All these three civilizations used the positional number system for which the concept of zero is needed. The Babylonians tried to get away with this difficulty by leaving empty space where the missing  coefficients of particular order were to be found. Hence they would write a number such as [1; 6] for lets say 3606. But this did not solve the problem completely. In copy or reading these spaces could be overlooked, and particularly when two or more space were to be given it could be confused with one space. But since the Babylonians has the base as 6o the need for writing numbers with zero in between arises on a very few occasions than it does in the number system with base 10. In case of the sexagesimal numeration only in 59 integers below 3600 this arises; as compared to 917 cease in the base 10 system \cite{boyer}. The Babylonian zero is the first zero to arrive on the scene. To denote absence of a coefficient of a particular order in their representation of the number, the Babylonians used a special sign [after fourth century BCE], which is the a cuneiform sign looking like a double oblique chevron. The Mayans developed their positional system with base 20, but they were not consistent with the use of the powers of the base after the third position \cite{uni2} pg 670. The Mayans understood the concept of zero sign, but they did not have its operational usability due to their inconsistent positional system. In case of the Babylonians it was never understood as a number synonymous with empty and never corresponded to the meaning of null quantity. So we see that in spite of having the notion of zero the Mayans and teh Babylonians did not get much further in this. The Mayan and the Babylonian zeros are as given in the figure.
If we work out the number represented in these notation the numbers are:

In the Babylonian notation.

In the Mayan notation.

The credit of having a well conceived positional system, which is operationally useful goes to the Indians. This step was taken by simplifying the hybrid notation, by suppressing the signs indicating the powers of the base. This required a much higher level of abstraction: the zero. This can be regarded as “… the supreme discovery of mathematicians who soon would come to extent it, form its first role of representing empty space, to embrace truly numeric meaning of a null quantity.” The Indian civilization was the only one to achieve this great feat. This system came up as a result of conjunction of three great ideas :
1.The idea of attaching each basic figure with signs removed from intuitive associations.
2. The idea of a positional number system, in which the value of a number depends on its position in the representation.
3. The idea of a full operational zero, filling the empty spaces of missing units and at the same time having the meaning of a null number.
In the system thus developed it does not matter what signs or base we use for the system, if it rests strictly and rigorously of the principle of position and incorporates the full concept of the symbol for zero. The discovery of zero in India and the place value were inventions unique to the Indian civilization. The roots of the development of the positional number system in India can be traced to the use of spoken sanskrit [संस्कुत] numeral system [Treatment of the development of Indian positional system follows from \cite{uni1}, \cite{uni2}]. The sanskrit spoken language has for each power of ten an individual name, “… so that to express a given number, one only had to place the name indicating the order of units between the name of the order of units that was immediately below it and immediately above it.” In fact there are names to the powers of 10 till 10^140 \cite{uni2} pg. 134. This is what is required in a positional number system. From the sanskrit spoken numeral system the Indian system of numerical symbols was formed. As soon as place value system was rigorously applied to the nine simple units, the use of a special terminology was indispensable to indicate the absence of units of a particular order. The sanskrit language already possessed the word shunya [शुन्य] to express void or absence, which also an element of mystical and religious philosophy. So to express the new mathematical notion of zero the term shunya could be used. This is how the word came to perform the function of zero as a part of the counting system.
Indian mathematicians before discovering the place value system, used their fingers or concrete mathematical devices. The most common was the abacus; from left to right, the columns representing the various powers of ten. The first nine numerals were traced in sand or dust, inside the column of a particular decimal order. Thus the number 5247 would have been represented in the following manner :
If a particular order of units was missing, one only needed to leave that particular column empty. Thus for representing 5047 we would write:
So with all this the necessary ‘ingredients’ for the creation of the written place value system had been amassed by the Indians:
• Distinct representation of one to nine numbers, which had forms unrelated to the number they represented.
• Discovery of the place value system.
• Invention of the concept of zero.
Still some things were still absent for the perfection of the number system:
• The nine numerals were only used in accordance to addition principle for analytical combinations using numerals higher than or equal to ten, the notation was very basic and limited to numbers below 100,000.
•  Place value system was only used with sanskrit names for numbers.
• Zero was only used orally.
The only thing that remained was to combine these ideas. By using the nine bramhi [ब्राम्ही] numerals on the dust abacus this stage already had been reached.
The two methods of expressing the numbers bramhi numerals and sanskrit names of numbers were known to the Indian mathematicians. In the dust abacus the numbers were drawn in contemporary style. The numbers in sanskrit were expressed in orders of ascending powers of ten; from the smallest to the highest. So that 4769 is written as:
And it is read in sanskrit as:
नव शष्टि सप्तशत् च चतुरसहस्त्र
Meaning: nine sixty seven hundred and four thousand.
In the written numerals however the opposite order was used. The evidence for these methods goes back to third century BCE. IF we look at these two opposite ways of representing the number, indicates an inconsistency. This is what the Indian mathematicians expressed as :
अंकानाम वामतो गति:
Meaning: principle of the movement of numerals from the right to the left.
Since the brahmi had a limited numeral base [highest number expressed was 90,000], so any calculation larger than this was to be expressed in the sanskrit names for the numbers. In the dust abacus extremely large computations could be performed, and the successive columns in the abacus always rigorously corresponded to the consecutive powers of ten. The same mathematical structure was present in the sanskrit counting system. Thus each system was a mirror image of the other. Though the numbers are read from the right to the left from the smallest to the largest. The structure of the abacus is such that the mathematician has no other choice but to follow the principle
अंकानाम वामतो गति: principle of the movement of numerals from the right to the left.
The solution to write a number in this way was to start with the column for the simple units. This led to the abandonment of the old system. By beginning with highest power of ten, one immediately knows the size of number we are dealing with, but this did not facilitate drawing. Hence the opposite system was adopted; no matter how high a number, there could be no mistake as to which column to write it in. This was conserved when the positional notation was invented using numerical symbols.
All this lead to the following notation, “the numbers reading from left to right in descending powers of ten, constituting a faithful reproduction, minus the columns, of its representations on the abacus, as well as reflection of the abridged form of the corresponding sanskrit expression. Thus came the decimal position values which were given to the first nine numerals of the old notation. This was the birth of the modern numerals.
Now to convey the absence of units in a particular decimal order a new symbol was necessary. This was not required in the case of the abacus, but in the new positional system it became a necessity. The  language already had the word symbol that expressed the concept zero, the shunya, it also conveyed the concepts such as sky, space etc. The circle has been considered as the representation of the sky, hence through a simple transposition of ideas it came to represent the concept of zero. Another sanskrit term representing zero was bindu [बिंदु], which literally means “point”. The point is the most insignificant geometrical figure, but for Indians the point represents the universe in non-manifest form. The point is the elementary of all geometrical figures, with potential for creating all the shapes, and hence was associated with zero. Zero is the most negligible quantities, but most fundamental of all abstract mathematics. The point also thus came to represent the zero. The two forms of the Indian zero are as shown in the figure below.The most likely time that the positional value system and zero were discovered is in the middle reign of the Gupta dynasty which ruled the Gangetic plains from about 240 to about 535 CE.

Along with the loaded philosophical connotations that were associated with the word shunya it served to mark the absence of units within a given decimal order in any position; the point or the little circle were used in the same way. This zero was also a mathematical operator; if placed after a number, it meant the number was multiplied by ten. Thus the three significant ideas that we have mentioned earlier were combined to give us the modern positional number system. Soon after this the concept of zero was perfected. Zero was given the status of a number, i.e. to say its cardinality was recognised. After this various arithmetic operations on and with zero were defined, which led to foundation of modern algebra .
The Arabs got this positional number systems from the Indians. The Europeans in turn got this system from the Arabs. The origin of the word zero or cipher can be traced back to this transfer of the positional number system to the Europeans from the Arabs. The Indian word for zero is shunya, from this the Arabic name sifr meaning vacant was given. When this was transferred to the Europeans the sound was kept but not the sense; Fibonacci called it zephirum. This was then passed over as zeuro, ceuero, and zepiro, which finally led to the current day synonyms which are the zero and the cipher.
References

Boyer C. B. :
Zero: The Symbol, the Concept, the Number
National Mathematics Magazine, Vol. 18, No. 8 , May 1944
Irfah G. :
The Universal History of Numbers I
Penguin, 2005
Irfah G. :
The Universal History of Numbers II
Penguin, 2005
Ore O. :
Number Theory and Its History
Dover, 1948

# Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development

Moral Development

In this article the Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development is discussed. Kohlberg’s theory is a direct continuation of the Piaget’s work on the same issues. Kohlberg’s methodology, and why he considers structure more important than content are discussed. The key aspects of the typical reasoning in the moral judgments of each level are discussed. The developmental issues and the criticisms of the theory are presented in the later sections. Also the various aspects of morality being context, culture and time dependent are discussed.

Introduction
The very word ‘moral’ colloquially means of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior. Moral behavior as understood in a everyday notion, relates to the behavior of an individual which is acceptable in the contemporary society. One thing is for sure that the moral development is not innate, it comes through our own thinking about the moral problems, with inputs from the interactions that we have with the society. There are three major components of morality, viz. the emotional component, cognitive component, behavioral component. The emotional component reﬂects the fact that we can relate to the harm that we cause to other person. The cognitive component emphasizes the fact that
thinking about the social understanding helps us to make more elaborate judgment’s about actions. Finally the behavioral component relates to the fact that exposure to morally relevant thoughts and feelings can only increase the chances that we will act accordingly but does not guarantee the same.

The biological and the psychoanalytic theories focus on emotional aspect of the morality, cognitive developmental theories on the moral thought, whereas the social learning theory has focused on the behavioral aspects. These theories disagree with what is the primary cause, but the trend that is seen
in the moral development is that a person starts from “externally controlled responses” and goes on to “behavior that is based on inner standards.” In the following sections we mainly consider the theories of moral development of Piaget and Kohlberg which elaborate the cognitive developmental aspect of
morality.
Piaget’s Theory of Moral Development

From this perspective the maturity in cognition and social experience lead to the development in the moral understanding of the child as a whole. Piaget’s work on the aspect of the moral development in children is the pioneering work in the cognitive development aspect of morality. For studying the
children’s ideas about morality Piaget depended upon open ended clinical interviews. By clinical interviews it is meant that a child is asked some questions and probed futher in the reasoning behind a particular response given. Piaget in particular asked about the rules in game of marbles. The children were also given stories in which the character’s intentions [ either wrong or right ] and the consequences of such a action were varied. The best kno twn such example is that of John and Henry. In these stories each of the boy breaks diﬀerent number of cups, one with ‘wrong’ intention and other with no intention. The children are asked the question that which one of them is naughtier and why. The two
stories are like this [1]:

Story A: A little boy who is called John is in his room. He is called to dinner. He goes into the dining room. But behind the door there was a chair, and on the chair there was a tray with ﬁfteen cups on it. John couldn’t have known that there was all this behind the door. He goes in, the door knocks against the tray, bang go the ﬁfteen cups and they all get broken!

Story B: Once there was a little boy whose name was Henry. One day when his mother was out he tried to get some jam out of the cupboard. He climbed up on to a chair and stretched out his arm. But the jam was too high up and he couldn’t reach it and have any. But while he was trying to get it he knocked over a cup. The cup fell down and broke.
The responses that Piaget got from children between ages 5 and 13 he could identify two general stages of the moral understanding viz. heteronomous and autonomous morality.
Heteronomous Morality [ ∼ 5 – 10 years]
Before the beginning of this stage the children show little understanding that rules govern the social behavior. At about 5 years of age the children enter the period of heteronomous morality and begin to show concern for the rules. The word heteronomous means under the authority of other, the children view the rules as handed down by the authorities. The rules are unvarying and require strict obedience. The factors that limit the child’s understanding according to Piaget are:
1. The unquestioned respect for rules and those enforce them.
2. Egocentrism.

As young children think that view of all the people about the rules are same, their moral understanding is characterized by realism, which means that they regard the rules as “external features of reality, rather than as subjective, internal principles that can be modiﬁed at will.” The presence of realism and egocentrism leads to young children focussing on the objective consequences rather than the intent. In the stories about John and Henry, John is considered more naughty because he broke more cups, even if he did not wrong intent in doing so. Another thing that the children having heteronomous morality believe in is the concept of immanent justice i.e. they believe that wrong doing always leads to punishment. The punishment thus received is inescapable and can be through a variety of events.

Autonomous Morality [ ∼ 10 years and above]
The autonomous morality is the next stage in Piaget’s theory of moral development. Through the interactions with peers children become aware that people have diﬀerent views than their own. They realize that intentions are more important than the objective consequences in moral judgments. Thus
in the two stories mentioned, they do not consider John as naughty, even if he broke more cups because he simply did not intend to do so. On the other hand Henry is considered naughty as he has intent to steal the jam, even in the process he broke less cups. The conﬂicts with peers are settled in mutually beneﬁcial ways. The concept of reciprocity is developed in children. By reciprocity it is meant that, “they express the same concern for the welfare of  others as they do for themselves.” The most familiar expression of reciprocity is the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Reciprocity is the main driving force in the understanding of children in autonomous morality. Children realize that, “rules are ﬂexible, socially agreed on principles that can be revised to suit the will of the majority.” The children can question the logic of the rules and just do not blindly follow them, they can realize that at times there may be good reasons to break a rule. Punishment are also seen in the light of principle of reciprocity. The punishment should be meted in an even-handed way to everyone responsible for the oﬀense, thus guaranteeing justice for all.

Evaluation of Piaget’s Theory
Piaget’s two stage theory gives a general account of the development of the moral understanding in children. The essential aspects of the theory relate with Piaget’s view that child’s development in general goes through a stagewise manner dependent on the age. The followup studies indicate the conclusions of Piaget that “moral understanding is supported by cognitive maturity, release from adult authority, and peer interaction. We now consider some aspects of this theory that have been questioned.

Intentions and Moral Judgments

Considering the stories of John and Henry, they present a biased view of child’s reasoning as more damage is coupled with good intentions and vice versa. If the same scenario is presented on the same grounds of damage, even the younger children can judge the ill intentioned person as naughtier. Also by the age of 4 years children are able to recognize the diﬀerence between lying and truthfulness, two morally relevant intentional behaviors. Thus the capacity to consider intentions appears in children much earlier than Piaget believed a deeper understanding does not arise till they reach autonomous morality.

Piaget assumed that heteronomous children assume the authority of adults with unquestioned respect, but studies have revealed the contrary. The preschoolers judge stealing, hitting as wrong regardless of the opinions of authority. Also peers can be regarded as authorities, e.g. a class captain. Thus “young children’s concepts of authority do not focus solely on status and power.” Contrary to
this many factors are responsible at an earlier age than assumed by Piaget, these factors include, “the attributes of the individual, the type of behavior to be controlled, and the context in which it occurs.

Stagewise Progression

Another aspect of Piaget’s theory is that characterstics associated with each stage do not correlate very highly, as would be expected if each stage represented a “general unifying organization of moral
judgments.” Thus child’s moral thought appears as “patchwork of diverse parts.” But to this Piaget recommended that, “the two moralities be viewed as ﬂuid, overlapping ‘phases’ rather than as tightly knit stages.” Also studies indicate that the moral development goes beyond the two stages of Piaget. Kohlberg’s work presented in the later sections is a direct continuation of the Piaget’s work on moral development.

Kohlberg’s Extension of Piaget’s Theory

Lawrence Kohlberg [1927 – 1987] following Piaget’s work on the aspect of moral development in children began on similar lines the search for stages of moral development and study of how moral understanding is intimately tied to the cognitive growth. The methodology that Kohlberg adopted for the study of moral was same of Piaget viz. the clinical interviews, but instead of asking children to
judge the naughtiness of a character of a story Kohlberg presented children with moral dilemmas. A moral dilemma is “a conﬂict situation presented to subjects, who are asked to decide both what the main actor should do and why.” In a moral dilemma two moral values are pitched against each other. The conﬂict in the mind of sub ject with regard to these two moral values, and its subsequent
resolution serves as an index of the moral development. This enables the experimenter to get a better picture of the reasoning behind the moral decisions. The best known moral dilemma is the the ‘Heinz dilemma,’ in which the subject is presented with conﬂict between two moral values viz. obeying the law [not stealing] and value of human life [saving a dying person] [2]:

Heinz Steals The Drug
In Europe, a woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make.
He paid $200 for the radium and charged$2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman’s husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about \$ 1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: “No, I discovered the drug and I’m going to make money from it.” So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man’s store to steal the drug-for his wife. Should the husband
have done that?

In the response received from the sub jects [72 boys of ages 10, 13 and 16 in the core sample] to the moral dilemma presented above Kohlberg was more interested in the structure than the content of the response. So just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response to the question presented above will not provide us with the reasoning behind this moral judgment. In fact for the ﬁrst four stages that Kohlberg identiﬁed, both the responses are found with diﬀerent reasoning at each stage. To ﬁnd out this reasoning the ‘why’ questions are asked and the sub ject is further probed with other related dilemmas. Based on the diﬀerent response he got from the children Kohlberg was able to classify them into various stages.
Kolhberg was able to identify three general levels and six stages in all for the moral development in children.

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Level I Preconventional Morality
At this level the morality of the person is externally controlled and can be identiﬁed with the main features of the Piaget’s heteronomous stage. The children accept the rules of the authority and the actions are judged by the consequences and not the intent. The moral understanding is based on
rewards and punishments.

Stage 1 Obedience and Punishment Orientation
This stage is similar to Piaget’s heteronomous stage of moral thought. The child regards the rules as ﬁxed, handed down by adults which must be obeyed at all costs. The child is unable to take two points of view for the moral dilemma.
The typical pro-stealing and anti-stealing responses are as follows [Taken verbatim from [1]]:
Pro-Stealing: “If you let your wife die, you will get in trouble. You’ll be blamed for not spending money to help her, and there’ll be an investigation of you and the druggist for your wife’s death.”

Anti-Stealing: “You shouldn’t steal the drug because you’ll be caught and send to jail if you do. If you do get away, your conscience would bother you thinking how the police will catch up with you any minute.”

Stage 2 Individualism and Exchange
At this stage the children become aware that diﬀerent people have diﬀerent perspectives in a moral dilemma, but this awareness is very concrete. The right action is considered that satisﬁes ones personal needs. Reciprocity is considered as equal exchange of favors. The typical pro-stealing and anti-stealing responses are as follows:
Pro-Stealing: “The druggist can do what he wants and Heinz can do what he wants to do . . . But if Heinz decides to risk jail to save his wife, it’s his life he’s risking; he can do what he wants with it. And the same goes for the druggist; it’s up to him to decide what he want to do.”

Anti-Stealing: “[Heinz] is running more risk than it’s worth unless he’s so crazy about her he can’t live without her. Neither of them will enjoy life if she’s an invalid.”

Both the stages in the ﬁrst level talk about punishment, but the perception in each stage is diﬀerent. Whereas in the ﬁrst stage punishment is linked with [proves] wrongness of disobedience, in the second stage on the other hand punishment is regarded as “simply a risk that one naturally wants to avoids.”
The stage 2 children are considered to reason at the preconventional level as they think “as isolated individuals rather than as members of society.” Also “they see individuals exchanging favors, but there is still no identiﬁcation with the values of the family or community.”

Level II Conventional Morality

In this level as the name suggests the individuals continue to regard the conformity to social rules as important, but the reason not being self-interest but rather maintaining the “positive human relationships and the societal order.”

Stage 3 Good Interpersonal Relationships
The desire to obey rules in stage 3 is in the context of close inter-personal feelings such as love, trust and concern for others. The main belief is that “people should live up to the expectations of the family and community and behave in ‘good’ ways.” The stage 3 person has a capacity“ to view
a two-person relationship from the vantage point of an impartial, outside observer,” which supports this new approach to morality. The motives are considered to be important than the consequences. As in Piaget’s two stages similarly in Kohlberg’s stages, “there is a shift from unquestioning obedience
to a relativistic outlook and to a concern for good motives. For Kohlberg, however, these shifts occur in three stages rather than two.”
The typical pro-stealing and anti-stealing responses are as follows:
Pro-Stealing: “No one will think you’re bad if you steal the drug, but your family will think you’re an inhuman husband if you don’t. If you let you wife die, you’ll be never be able to look anyone in the face again.”
Anti-Stealing: “It isn’t just the druggist who will think you’re a criminal, everyone else will too. After you steal it, you’ll feel bad thinking how you brought dishonor on your family and yourself; you won’t be able to face anyone again.”
Stage 4 Maintaining the Social Order

In stage 4 person has a intent for the beneﬁt of the society as a whole. The moral judgment and behavior is in the context of maintaining social order and no longer depend on the close ties to others. As the stage 4, “subjects take the moral decisions from the perspective of society as a whole, they think from a full-ﬂedged member-of-society perspective.” The typical pro-stealing and anti-stealing responses are as follows:
Pro-Stealing: “He should steal it. Heinz has a duty to protect his wife’s life; it’s a vow he took in marriage. But it’s wrong to steal, so he would have to take the drug with the idea of paying the druggist for it and accept the penalty for breaking the law later.”

Anti-Stealing: “It’s a natural thing for Heinz to want to save his wife, but it’s still always wrong to steal. You have to follow the rules regardless of how you feel or regardless of the special circumstances. Even if his wife is dying, it’s still his duty as a citizen to obey the law. No one else is allowed to steal, why should he be? If everyone starts breaking the law in a jam, there’d be no civilization, just crime and violence.”

It might at the ﬁrst glance seem that stage 1 and stage 4 sub jects are giving the similar responses, but the reasoning that the stage 4 is quite elaborative. Stage 1 children cannot elaborate the reasons, except that stealing will lead to jail, stage 4 respondents, on the other hand have a broader conception of the function of societal laws as a whole, which exceeds the capacity of the stage 1 child.
Level III Postconventional Morality

Individuals in this level move beyond the unquestioning support for the rules and the laws of their own society, hence the name. The morality for such individuals is “in terms of abstract principles and values that apply to all situations and societies.” The individuals in this level of moral reasoning with
a pro-stealing answer to the Heinz dilemma, the reasoning being of course diﬀerent from the previous levels.

Stage 5 Social Contract and Individual Rights

The stage 5 individuals consider the rules as “ﬂexible instruments for furthering human purposes.” They can argue for a change in the societal laws [considered to be unchangeable by the previous stages] when a good enough reason is pressent. At stage 5, people begin to ask, “What makes for a good society?” They begin to think about “rights and values that a society ought to uphold,” and
then see the society from these perspectives.
The typical pro-stealing response is as follows:

Pro-Stealing: “Although there is a law against stealing, the law wasn’t meant to violate a person’s right to life. Taking the drug does violate the law, but Heinz is justiﬁed in stealing in this instance. If Heinz is prosecuted in stealing, the law needs to be reinterpreted to take into account situations in which it goes against people’s natural right to keep on living.”

The stage 5 people regard society is “best conceived as a social contract into which people freely enter to work toward the beneﬁt of all.” Even with some diﬀerences in the society the stage 5 people believe that rational people in the society would agree on some basic points. “First they would all want certain basic rights, such as liberty and life, to be protected, and second they would want some democratic procedures for changing unfair law and for improving society.

Stage 6 Universal Principles
The stage 5 respondents are strong believers in the democratic process. But during a democratic process he outcomes are not always just for the minority group. Hence Kohlberg believed “that there must be a higher stage–stage 6–which deﬁnes the principles by which we achieve justice.” At this highest stage the right action is deﬁned by the self-chosen ethical principles which are valid for the humanity as a whole regardless of societal laws. Most of the social reformers and the moral leaders will fall in the stage 6. The claims of all individuals need to be looked at in an impartial manner respecting basic dignity of all people.
The typical pro-stealing response is as follows:

Pro-Stealing: “If Heinz does not do everything he can to save his wife, then he is putting some value higher that the value of life. It doesn’t make sense to put respect for property above the respect for life itself. [People] could live together without private property at all. Respect for human life and personality is absolute and accordingly [people] have a mutual duty to save one another from dying.”
The stage 6 is called as a theoretical stage as not many individuals are consistently able to respond at this stage. The fact that the moral dilemma presented is not very convincingly able to distinguish between stage 5 and 6 makes this more clear. One issue that can tell the diﬀerence between stage 5
from stage 6 is of civil disobedience. Stage 5 believe more in the democratic process so will be less willing to go in for a civil disobedience. The violation of the law is justiﬁed only when a right is at stake. In stage 6, in contrast, “a commitment to justice makes the rationale for civil disobedience
Theoretical Issues

In this section we brieﬂy consider the main theoretical issues regarding the theory. They include the developmental aspects of the theory, the Piagetian stage concept in the context of Kohlberg’s theory.

How Development Occurs

Kohlberg’s views are strongly inﬂuenced by the Piagetian framework of child development. The stages of moral development are not seen as a product of maturation i.e. there is no “genetic blueprint” for the stages to occur. The socializing agents do not directly teach new forms of thinking. The stages
that are externally seen are a manifestation of one’s own thinking about moral problems.

Social experiences promote the development of moral thinking, by stimulating our mental processes. When we discuss with others, our view are challenged due to which we are force to think about ‘better’ positions that we can take. The stages of moral development reﬂect these broader viewpoints. Thus our interactions with the society and our own thought process combined gives us the ability to advance from one stage to the next.

The Stage Concept

As already mentioned Kohlberg being a close follower of Piaget, has taken the stage concept of Piagetian framework criteria very seriously. The following aspects of his theory are shown to be related to the Piagetian framework.

Qualitative Diﬀerences

The qualitative diﬀerences in the diﬀerent stages is evident from the diﬀerent response that is given by the individuals in diﬀerent stages. Quantitatively the stages do not seem to have much diﬀerences.

Structured Wholes

The stages are not just isolated responses present given by the individual, but are a more general patterns of response that are found across many domains. Thus the stages are structured wholes in the sense that they truly depict the whole moral development of the individual which is valid across domains.
Invariant Sequence
The stages according to Kohlberg form an invariant sequence. The stages are skipped or moved in a random order. Mostly the cross-sectional data in which children of various age group were interviewed supports this claim of the invariant stage sequence. But the data from the cross-sectional studies are
not conclusive, as a child at higher age could have possibly skipped some previous stage. To resolve this issue longitudinal studies were undertaken. In longitudinal studies the same children are tested regularly after a period of 3 – 4 years. Almost all children in one of the longitudinal study moved through stages without skipping. Another aspect of moral development is that it is very slow and gradual process.

Hierarchic Integration

The knowledge that is learned at the earlier stages is not lost when the individual advances to the next stage, but is very well present in the individual. The higher stage persons are able to understand the arguments of the lower stage but consider it to be naive. When Kohlberg says that his stages are
hierarchically integrated, he means that people do not lose the insights gained at earlier stages, but integrate them into new, broader frameworks. Thia is a very important concept for Kohlberg because it explains the directional nature of the stage sequence. Since the stage sequence does not have a genetic blueprint, the previous stages must form a ‘platform’ for the next stages to emerge. Thus each new stage provides a broader framework for dealing with moral issues and is thus more cognitively adequate than the prior stage.
The stages of moral development also represent increasingly diﬀerentiated structures. The stage 5 people have abstracted the value of life, for example, has become diﬀerentiated from other considerations and say that “we ought to value life for its own sake, regardless of its value to authorities (stage
1), its usefulness to oneself (stage 2), the aﬀection it arouses in us (stage 3), or its value within a particular social order (stage 4). Stage 5 sub jects have abstracted this value from other considerations and now treat it as a purely moral ideal.”
Universal Sequence
The sequence for the stages of moral development should be universal according to Kohlberg. By the term universal it is meant that it should be same across all cultures. Since diﬀerent cultures bring up their children diﬀerently this [the universality of the stage sequence] is not naturally expected. Kohlberg’s response is that “diﬀerent cultures do teach diﬀerent beliefs, but that his stages refer not
to speciﬁc beliefs but to underlying modes of reasoning.”
Cross-cultural research shows that individuals in ‘technologically advanced’ societies move rapidly through the stages of moral development that from the societies which are not. Also in isolated communities nobody goes beyond stage 3. These studies indicate two possibilities, ﬁrst that societal factors
that help the advancement of the stages are prevalent in the ‘technologically advanced’ societies, second that the method of evaluation is not suited for all cultures. This point is more elaborated upon later.
The number of years an individual completes in a school is an important and deterministic parameter in the moral development of individuals. Studies clearly indicate that the children who are educated higher levels show a better trend of moral development. The reasons for this particular ﬁnding could
be the social diversity that is encountered in the college campuses, introduces the people to the issues involving political and cultural groups.

Moral Thought and Moral Behavior

The moral stages of Kohlberg’s theory do indicate the moral thinking of the persons, but whether this thinking actually translates into a moral behavior remains a question. We can actually be quite advanced in our moral thinking, but when it comes to moral behavior we do not actually are on the same level, this maybe due to practical reasons involved. Infact this is one of the criticisms of the theory. Hence a perfect correlation between moral judgment and moral action is not possible. But Kohlberg has given a particular relation regarding the moral thinking and behavior: “The two should come closer together as individuals move towards higher stages of moral understanding.” The
advancement in moral reasoning is related with many aspects of social behavior, particularly being more prosocial, this is consistent with Kohlberg’s prediction.

Moral Thought and Other Forms Of Cognition

Kohlberg states that moral development depends on cognition and perspective taking in a very speciﬁc way. Each moral stage requires certain cognitive and perspective taking abilities but these abilities alone do not guarantee that moral development will occur. Thus these cognitive and perspective taking abilities are deemed to be necessary but not suﬃcient for the moral development of the individual.
Criticisms

In this section we consider some criticisms about the Kohlberg’s theory. The two main criticisms that the theory faces are of gender bias and of cross-cultural diﬀerences. The other include the facts that are already mentioned viz. that moral thought and behavior are diﬀerent. Also people tend to respond diﬀerently in real life and hypothetical situations [this particular aspect was seen during the presentation when asked about the moral dilemma regarding the help in exam]. The theory does not talk about moral development of very young children, where the methodology of moral dilemmas might not work very well. Also many researchers have questioned the very concept of a post conventional morality in Kohlberg’s formulation.

Gender Bias

Females tend to score not very well on the Kohlberg’s scale of moral development, very few females actually went above stage 3 in terms of their scores. The fact that Kohlberg’s stages were obtained from interviews with males, and hence reﬂect a decidedly male orientation was pointed out by Carol
Gilligan a co-author and associate of Kohlberg. According to Gilligan the advance moral thought for males and females has diﬀerent ideals. For males the moral thought revolves around rules, rights and abstract principles, whereas for the females the moral thought revolves around interpersonal relations and the ethics of compassion and care. Thus the ‘scale’ of moral development has been ‘calibrated’ from a male perspective and it is improper to judge the moral development of females by this scale. In fact it has been found that the advanced moral thought revolves around rules, rights, and abstract principles.
The ideal for males the ideal of moral reasoning is impersonal justice, in contrast to female ideal of more aﬃliative ways of living. Women’s morality is more contextualized, it is tied to real, ongoing relationships rather than abstract solutions to hypothetical dilemmas. If these things are taken into account maybe females will score diﬀerently on the moral development. This diﬀerence is most
apparent when real life situations are given instead of hypothetical dilemmas. Although the current evidence “indicates that justice and caring are not gender speciﬁc moralities, Gilligan’s work has had the eﬀect of broadening conceptions of the highly moral person.”
Cross-Cultural Diﬀerences

What Kohlberg has essentially done is that he has created a ‘moral yardstick’ with which he intends to measure the morality all the individuals in all cultures. Perhaps it might be the case that the aspects of morality that are rated very highly on Kohlberg’s scale are not considered to be signiﬁcant in some other cultures. And it might be the case that the moral dilemmas presented for evaluation altogether fail to capture the post-conventional morality present in diﬀerent cultures. The Kohlberg’s scale is highly Eurocentric [Western] and might fail to consider the aspects of morality that are alien to the European thought. For studying diﬀerent cultures this ‘moral yardstick’ needs to be ‘re-calibrated’ keeping in mind the particular culture to be studied. Also presenting the same moral dilemma setup in a totally European background might not be a useful idea, the dilemma also needs to be contextualized taking into account the particular culture under study.

Reﬂections

The moral behavior and thinking in a society represent give us an insight into the philosophy and the culture of a society. The major inﬂuences that are responsible for the moral development of the individual according to Kohlberg are the parents, peers, education and the own thought process of the individual. The inﬂuence of religion is not at all considered in the Kohlberg’s developmental theory, whereas religion plays a signiﬁcant role in the development of children at least in the young age. In fact most of the moral judgments that the individuals make are deeply inﬂuenced by the religion they follow. In this regard the position of some religion will be diﬀerent than the other, so a follower of a particular religion will respond to the situation diﬀerently.

Let us take an example of clinical death. If asked with a moral dilemma that involves a person opting for clinical death [hence in a sense committing suicide], the responses that we receive are more likely to vary with respect to the religion of the respondents. Another controversial issue that would raise similar concerns is that of abortion [in a sense considered murder]. Another example on similar lines that could be taken is that of a hunter following a wounded prey, and a response can save or end the prey’s life. The responses in this case will depend on the sort of society the individual has been bought up in [vegetarian vs. meat eating].
The responses that we will get for these real life situations, which also touch upon the religious aspect of the moral judgments will be worth noting. For most of the people religion has the topmost priority in the decisions that are taken in their everyday life. Mostly the religious scriptures and hence religious values guide the moral values and hence moral judgments. A striking example in this regard in the Indian context is that of charity. The religion demands that people do daan [alms], and most people do it not because they feel for the poor, but because the religion demands so. Thus the religious values are conclusive many times in making moral judgments. The religious moral values are passed to the
young children through stories and epics [mostly of Level I Morality according to Kohlberg’s scale ] and also through their social interactions. These interactions form the basis of the moral judgment that a child makes in the future, and removing these inﬂuences can be very hard, as they can be even found in adults. But these age old morality which religion practices might be in many cases totally out of context and in the comtemporary society not of much value. Even then these cannot be overcome even by adults. A very good example of this the ‘moral police’ that are abound in India and elsewhere. ‘What is moral,’ is interpreted from some twisted interpretation of the so called
‘cultural values.’ Most of these ‘moral police’ don’t seem to put any thought of their own to the issues they consider as ‘immoral,’ instead what somebody says is blindly followed without any remorse. On Kohlberg’s scale the so called ‘moral police’ will be at stage 1.

So by asking morally relevant questions that are in direct conﬂicting with one’s outdated religious beliefs can really lead to one’s moral development in this regard.
We cannot really compare the moral values of the contemporary society with that of a society in the past. The rights and the principles that were the ‘guiding lights’ for people in the past might not be even considered in the todays society as relevant. Hence to compare the moral judgments of the people in the past with our own contemporary society does not help. Similarly to compare the moral judgments of two diﬀerent cultures does not provide the index of moral development of a particular culture.

Even in the same culture when the socio-economic diﬀerences are vast the things that are ‘morally right’ for some of the individuals will not be considered as same by everybody. In the Indian context a particular example in this regard can be considered is that of the zamindaari system, the feudal system in India. Whereas the zamindaars considered their ‘moral right’ to own and cultivate large lands, this was not considered as right by the laborers. Or in the larger economic context the ‘moral right’ of the capitalists and the ‘moral right’ of workers do not coincide. In the recent past America’s ‘moral right’ for war was
executed by George Bush to wage a war with Iraq, and ma jority of the American public ‘morally’ supported the war without putting their own thought to it. They would also score for stage 1 in Kohlberg’s stages. So the issues which really matter in one’s perception of the diﬀerent aspect needs to be taken into account when considering the moral stage of the individual. A person in the lower strata of the society might consider stealing from the society as morally justiﬁed [because it is due to society that he poor].
Another aspect that needs to be touched in this regard is that of level 6 of the Kohlberg’s stages of development. The trend that Kolhberg presents for a level 6 behavior is seen in many great spiritual leaders of the past. Infact most of the great leaders did regard their own abstract principles above the
societal laws.
When the world colonization began and the European Empires extended beyond the boundaries of Europe, another example of twisted morality can be seen. Many British authors including Rudyard Kipling regarded the Anglo-Saxon race as a race which was destined to rule, thus ‘morally justifying’ their atrocities against others. Thus it was a ‘moral responsibility’ of the British to rule India. We can hence see that the concept of being ‘morally right’ can be entirely context and time dependent.

The moral dilemmas do come in an individuals life very frequently. According to Kohlberg in the resolution of these dilemmas in the most broader sense result in the moral development in this regard. A very nice example of presenting a moral dilemma and bringing up moral development can be seen in the context of Indian independence. Gandhi’s non-violence principle is an example of moral dilemma that brought about the moral development of an entire Empire. On one hand with the non-violent crowds just marching through the country, the British were not ‘morally justiﬁed’ in attacking them, on the other hand that people can defy their ‘moral right’ to rule was unbearable for them. The British
became so frustrated by this ‘moral dilemma’ that even with all such military might they could not but defeat a non-violent revolt. The resolution of this ‘moral dilemma’ resulted in the ‘moral development’ of the British Empire, which thereafter lost its ‘moral right’ to rule the world.

Summary
As per Kohlberg’s three level, six stage theory, morality changes from concrete towards abstract, principled justiﬁcations for moral choices. Each moral stage en-corporates the previous ones and has certain cognitive prerequisites that are necessary for the development to occur. The moral development does not occur until there is a support present at various levels like family, peers, schooling and society at large. Although justice is given a emphasis more than that of care it does not underestimate the moral maturity of females. As the individuals advance through the stages the moral thinking becomes better related to moral behavior.

The index of moral development that is presented by Kohlberg by presenting the subjects with a moral dilemma needs to be taken with respect to the broader social and cultural context that the particular individual represents so that any bias that is present can be eﬀectively eliminated.

References
[1] Laura Berk: Child Development 3rd Ed. Prentice Hall of India 1999
[2] W. C. Crain: Theories of Development Prentice Hall 1985
[3] Wikipedia

# What is education?

What do we mean by education?

The word ‘education’ can be derived from one of two latin words or from both. These words are educere, which means ‘to lead out’ or ‘to train’ and educare which means to ‘to train’ or ‘to nourish’. But this etymology does not give us a understanding behind the term itself.
Colloquially it can mean the sort of training that goes in schools, colleges and universities.
We see some meanings by different people who were related to education and philosophy of it.
Mahatma Gandhi
Education is “an all round drawing out of the best in child and man – body, mind, and spirit.”
John Dewey
Education is regarded as the development of “all those capacities in the individual, which will enable him to control his environment and fullfill his possibilities.”
We see that the term education refers to two things: they point to education as the process of development of the individual form infancy to maturity a lifelong process.
J. S. Mill explains it thus:
“Not only does it include whatever we do for ourselves, and whatever is done for us by others for the express purpose of bringing us somewhat nearer to the perfection of our nature; it does more; in its last connotation it comprehends even the indirect effects of things of which the direct purposes are quite different, by laws, by forms of government, by the industrial arts, by modes of social life; nay, even by physical fact, not dependent on human will, by climate, soil and local position. Whatever helps to shape human being, to make the individual what he is, or hinder him form what he is not… is a part of his education.”
This is the wider meaning of the term ‘education’, for the narrower meaning Mill says
“the culture which each generation purposely gives to those who are to be its successors, in order to qualify them for at least keeping up, and if possible for raising the level of improvement which has been attained.”
Now we look at what are the Indian views on education. The Rig Veda [ऋग वेद] regards education as a force which makes the individual self-reliant as well as selfless. The Upanishads [ऊपनिषद] regard the result of education as being more important than its nature, the end-product of education is salvation [निर्वाण].
Panini [पाणिनी] identified as the training one obtains from nature.
Kanada [कानद] considers to be a mean of self-contentment.
Yajanvalaka [याजनवालक] regarded education as a means to the development of character and usefulness in the individual.
While Vivekanand perceived education as the manifestation of divine perfection already existing in man.

“Education should aim at man-making”

By man making it is meant formation of character, increase in power of mind, and expansion of the intellectual capacities.

While Tagore says that education should help the individual child realize in and through education, the essential unit of man and his relationship with the universe – an education for fullness.
The Indian Education Commission of 1966 says:

“Education, according to Indian tradition is not merely a means to earn a living; nor is it only a nursery of thought or a school for citizenship. It is initiation into the life of spirit, a training of human souls in pursuit of truth and practice of virtue. It is a second birth द्वियाम ज्ञानम – education for liberation.”

Past this we now have a look at some Western views on the same.

Plato thought that education should enable one to attain the highest good or God, through pursuit of inherent spiritual values of truth, beauty and goodness.
Aristotle held that education exists exclusively to develop man’s intellect in a world of reality which men can know and understand.
St. Thomas Aquinas considered education to be process of discerning the truth about things as they really are, and to extend and integrate such truth as it is known.
More recently behaviorists consider education as a process of conditioning, of providing stimuli, repetition, rewards and reinforcements. ‘
The social scientists define education as the transmission of cultural heritage – which consists of learned behavior, and includes tangible objects such as tools, clothing, etc. as well as intangible objects such as language, beliefs etc.

“Education is the transmission of knowledge, value and skills of a culture.”

The meaning of the term ‘education’ can be summarily expressed as:
• A set of techniques for imparting knowledge, skills and attitudes.
• A set of theories which purport to explain or justify the use of these techniques.
• A set of values or ideals embodied and expressed in the purposes for which knowledge, skills and attitudes are imparted and so directing the amounts and types of training that is given.
The educational system of any society is a more or less elaborate social mechanism designed to bring about in the persons submitted to it certain skills and attitudes that are judged to be useful and desirable in the society. The gist of all the educational system can be reduced in two questions:
1. What is held valuable as an end?
2. What means will effectively realize these ends?
For ordinary day to day working of the society itself makes it necessary for its members to have certain minimum skills and attitudes in common, and imparting these skills is one of the ends of education. This minimum will be different for different societies.
So we see that in the meaning of what education is, is determined by what are the aims of education. Every educational system must have an aim, for having an aim will provide it with a direction, and make the process more meaningful. One of the objectives of education from what we have seen in the definitions above has a connection to the meaning of life, which in turn is connected to philosophy of the person at that time. Thus the aims of education are dependent on the philosophy which is prevalent in society at that time. The aims of any educational system tell us what it is for. The aims determine the entire character of the educational process: curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Just because the aims are not explicitly stated it does not mean that they are absent. They can be both implicit and explicit, and can be embodied in the everyday practices of teachers and students, as well as in the government documents. The printing of aims of education in a document is neither necessary nor sufficient for education to have aims, since documents can be ignored.
Education can have more than one aim, so long as the aims are not mutually incompatible. It is not possible for example to aim to produce citizens who will obey the state unquestioningly and at the same time produce people who will question any proposal that they encounter. Many aims are broadly compatible but there exists certain tension. Partly, it is because some aims can be fully achieved at the expense of others. A society has to agree on the priority of the aims, which it wants its future citizens to have.
A listing of general educational aims is as follows:
1. To provide people with a minimum of the skills necessary for them [a] to take their place in the society and [b] to seek further knowledge.
2. To provide them with a vocational training that will enable them to be self-supporting.
3. To awaken an interest in and a taste for knowledge.
4. To make them critical.
5. To put them in touch with and train them to appreciate cultural and moral achievements of mankind.
But are these the normative aims of education or the descriptive ones?
Following Peters [Ethics and Education 1966], the differences between education and other human pursuits are given in three different criterion.
1. ‘Education’ in its fullest sense, has necessary implication that something valuable or worthwhile is going on. Education is not valuable as a means to a valuable end such as a good job, but rather because it involves those being educated being initiated into activities which are worthwhile themselves, that is, are intrinsically valuable. This is contrasted with training, which carries with it the ideas of limited application and an external goal, that is, one is trained for something for some external purpose, with ‘education’ which implies neither of these things
2. ‘Education’ involves the acquisition of a body of knowledge and understanding which surpasses mere skill, know-how or the collection of information. Such knowledge and understanding must involve the principles which underlie skills, procedural knowledge and information, and must transform life of the person being educated both in terms of the general outlook and in becoming committed to the standards inherent in the areas of education. To this body of knowledge and understanding must be added ‘cognitive perspective’ whereby the development of any specialism, for example in science, is seen in the context of the place of this specialism in a coherent life pattern.
3. The process of education must involve at least some understanding of what is being learnt and what is required in learning, so we could not be ‘brain washed’ or ‘conditioned’ in to education.
Well this is really an incoherent attempt to list out things that I have read about education? So far all the philosophers that I have read appear to give a normative meaning of education i.e. to say they tell us “What education ought to be…” Thus they give us what according to their philosophical outlook is the ‘normal’ version of education. But what I am interested in is the descriptive version; “How actually things are…” The more I look and think about the current educational system the more I think it has deviated from the aims of these great thinkers. Thus the descriptive version will tell us how much this deviation is, and also whether it is for good?

# Prejudice and Pride

Pride and Prejudice
As a part of the graduate courses we had to do a few presentations. During the course on sociology of education I reviewed a book Prejudice and Pride by Krishna Kumar. When I was first told about the book I was not too keen to do the review, as the title suggested nothing about the content of the book. But when I was told about the synopsis of the book I became immediately interested. So what is this book with a title made by rearranging the title of another famous book by Jane Austin about. So we will first talk about the subject matter of the book.
As the back cover of the book says it is a comparative study of the modern representations of modern history in Indian and Pakistani textbooks. The book consists of an inquiry into the perceptions of the past that the Indian and Pakistani children encounter at the school. So the book is about the kind of history being taught in the schools to children in India and Pakistan. So we being the children and product of such an education do differ from our Pakistani counterparts in our  view of history.
History as it is known is seen by different people differently. For some heroes are villains and vice-versa if change the sides of a given conflict. Thus for us Indians the British officers who established and firmed the British rule in India would be villains whereas for the British they were heroes. So to form an objective view about the history of a particular event is very difficult if not impossible. One of the reason for this is the fact that we depend upon historical evidences for building the image of the past. These evidences may be in form of reports, books or other works and folk tales about that particular event. Thus we will be most of the time biased and subjective about the information that we have to build upon the image of the past we have. It will be no wonder that the images of the past that are familiar to us, are at times starkly different from those brought in a different culture.
In general there is gloom in the education systems of both the countries. India is no more better off than Pakistan in general in the education field. The subject matter of this work in particular is the history as taught in the two countries. In a sense there is an absence of academic curiosity in both the countries towards each other. We have no ‘experts’ in India on Pakistan and likewise for Pakistan. Compare this with the experts that the USA and the former USSR had for each other during the cold war era. There were entire think-tanks dedicated to know about the ‘other’.
In case of India and Pakistan, both the countries live under the impression that they know each other. This emanates from the fact that the ‘other’ is, after all, a former aspect of the ‘self.’ India and  Pakistan are politically so far apart, but, geographically and culturally so close that there is no room for an epistemic space between them. This makes us believe that we know the ‘other’ too well.
One of the roles of education in the modern states in the world is imparting a sense of national identity. The children are indoctrinated via history to have a ‘nationalist’ character. So history as taught in the schools takes the burden of nation building than any other subject that is taught. One of the roles of history to arouse the interest of the young in the past and to inculcate a respect for it is sidelined in modern day India and Pakistan. Whatever debates that are present in India and Pakistan on the teaching of history are political and not pedagogic. The pedagogic uses and role of the subject of history has been given up for the more important role of history as tool for nation building.
Why the modern history?
The author choose to concentrate on the modern history of the sub-continent. The ‘modern’ is meant to connote here the era from 1857 to the freedom and formation of the two nation identities in 1947. The older history of the sub-continent is more controversial in the sense that the views that are portrayed by the history as taught in the two nations are radically different. ‘Invaders’ in India are seen as ‘heroes’ in Pakistan. No wonder that even the modern history of the two nations is subject to the bias of the respective countries.
What most people and more importantly the young children don’t realise that there is always another view of the history, through which the now familiar events look totally alien to us. When we come across such histories there is a sense of  jamais vu involved. Suddenly the things so well known to us are entirely changed in terms of the perspectives. Also the events that we think are important with respect to the history that we are taught, would be trivial in some other histories.
Modern history has greater potential to for engaging children in activities connected with the study of the social sciences than the history of other periods has. So this has the potential to establish the modern period as a subject matter for advanced studies. It will help promote a better understanding between India and Pakistan by helping readers in both countries to grasp how a common recent past is looked by the other.
In this case the researcher being an Indian the impartiality of the researcher demanded great self restraint and imagination on the part of the researcher. Unknowingly the researcher would be biased in forming the opinions which are so ‘clear and simple’ for us. So one of the major objectives of this study is to examine the rival ideologies of nationalism into which schools attempt to socialize the young. Another objective being a probe into the politics of history writing as a means to understand the contribution that schooling makes to the Indo-Pak conflict.
Many things that come out of this study are interesting and I was surely taken aback by some of them. The familiarity that we have with the events of the past is lost when we take the other’ perspective into account. The study was based on the sample of textbooks taken from both the countries.  The Pakistani text books that formed the part of the study were both privately published and published by the various state boards. The regional variation in the text books of Pakistan was found to be much less than than in India. The Indian sample consisted of the books by various state boards, ICSE and NCERT and CBSE.
The Challenge of The Past
In this section we discuss the cognitive challenge that teaching history at school might present to children. Before coming to the school the children have some tacit knowledge about the past. By primary socialization it is meant the induction of the child in the society. When the children are introduced in the society they are taught the customs, practices and norms of the society that they are going to be a part of. During this a certain amount of knowledge is essentially passed on to the children, which helps them form an identity for themselves in the contemporary society that they are a part of. So by the time children go to school they have acquired the basic deeper imprint of membership of a society as an outcome of primary socialization.
The school thus gets a child with the basic notions already formed, and these are very difficult to change in the school. The school has no option but to work with the personality of the child thus formed. The schools are seen as instruments of cultivating loyal citizens. And in the secondary socialization the children are socialized into an ‘approved’ past. This ‘approval’ is from the state. Also the difference between the awareness and knowledge is quite often blurred for the children. For example consider the statement
India gained independence from the British rule on 15th August 1947.
Now just to ‘know’ this information as a matter of fact is quite different from having a deeper knowledge about the notions of independence, rule etc. Almost all people know this, but how many of them can actually understand the meaning of a sentence like this, when it is translated in terms of the events, people and the circumstances that were present at that point of time. Events which occured in the past require us to appreciate the circumstances, values and choices that shaped the people who were involved
To analyze historical events we need to go into a time frame without being completely submerged in it. By this it is meant that we have to see the ‘past’ in terms of the ‘past’. We should not cannot impose the contemporary beliefs, thoughts and values on the people and the events of the past, because if we do that we might loose the view that the people of the past had. Thus the cognitive challenge that history presents is certainly great and it requires much more processing on the part of the learner who is presented with the facts of the history. For in history each event has to be seen in dual mode:
1. The given event as the outcome of the events preceding it.
2. The given event as the cause of events following it.
Thus for example when we see the rebellion of 1857, we have to see it in the light of the events that caused it, and at the same time we also have to see it in the light of the events that it caused. How we see a particular event would strongly depend on what framework of history we already we have. The most natural way for us to see any event is to fit it in the framework that we already possess. Also anomalies, if any, are usually ‘interpreted’ in a way to fit the framework. Changing the framework itself is very difficult even for the adults and I guess almost impossible for the children. For example if we are told that ‘Gandhi was not at all important for the freedom from the British,’ then how are we going to react? We have been always ‘told’ that this is so, so we believe it. The point that I want to make here is not just about the role of Gandhi’s involvement in the freedom struggle, but rather just to give the reader a taste of what change in the framework could result in.
Coming back to the two positions that a reader in history has to take into account, cognitively what is requirement for making such conjectures? This requires on the part of the children the capacity of  reversibility. The reversibility as defined here is the reversibility of the Piagetian tasks. Piaget places the ability of the reversibility in the concrete operational period of his framework of cognitive development.
One of the ways in which the reversibility can manifest in the children is reversibility of thought.
The children thus have two main difficulties that they face when they are learning history in the school. One of them is cognitive and the other is sociological plus cognitive. The impact of culture upon the image of the past that we have is tremendous, and this is particularly true for children. A child can be often presented with a version of history as a part of primary socialization, which is not the one which is ‘approved’ by the state. The popular social memory both in India and Pakistan about the events in the past shapes the framework of the children, according to which they try to make sense of the facts presented to them later. In this case it will directly conflict with the knowledge that is presented in the school. For example if a child is told at the home that ‘Great unjustice was done only to Hindus during the partition’, then this is certainly going to conflict with the ‘approved’ version of the history being taught at the school. This is what I call the sociological plus cognitive problem that the children face. How can something be true and also be non-true at the same time? This I guess is not only a problem with children but also [more] with adults. The notion that there is only one truth, and that is what I believe in, the rest are propaganda’s seem to fit the right wing frameworks present in both the countries. The very idea of reality can be seen in a different light is not acceptable to most of us. Why? Because we don’t want to be in a world where we cannot understand something that is not the part of our standard framework.
The other major problem that the children face is cognitive. This relates to the fact that how much the teaching of history at school attunes itself to the cognitive levels of the children. As we have seen the interpretation of historical events requires a notion of reversibility on the part of the learner, how many text books address this fact, or even take into account this. As in India so in Pakistan the role of history as a subject is seen more as a subject to be passed than anything else. The pattern of rote learning the subject without understanding the complexities of the issues involved, seems to be the idea of  doing history in both the countries. More emphasis is on the ‘knowledge’ part than on ‘awareness’ of the subject at hand.
Also as far as the ‘good’ careers are concerned the subject of history is taken over by more fruitful subjects of mathematics and sciences. So history is just seen as an auxiliary subject which has to be passed, and which can be passed without understanding, because it is not going to help you in the future to secure a ‘good’ career.
Frames of Popular Perception
In this section as title suggests we will focus on the frames of perception by which the general population forms a framework so as to understand the past. For this we have to understand the notion of  the ‘other’. What is meant by the ‘other’? In both India and Pakistan the past is intertwined with the current and evolving perceptions of the ‘other.’ Our own national identities are seen in the frames of perception by hinting at the ‘other’. Each side has something of the other in it. Each country presents a strong case of dependence on the ‘other’ for defining itself. Thus question can be raised that ‘If Pakistan is an Islamic state how can India be a secular one?’ For if India were a truly pluralist society there would not be any need for Pakistan. We see that India’s portrayal as a ‘secular’ society as opposed to an ‘Islamic’ one in Pakistan is exactly this. We need to contrast ‘our’ nation with ‘their’ so as to prove our identity.
I liked this part of the book very much. It really shakes you and your perception about the past. So what this essentially means is that there is a Pakistan which we Indians may not have the epistemic means to fathom and same is true for a resident of Pakistan for India. It really provides you with a clue of how hard it is to let go the perceptions we already have. As for the case in Pakistan education there has succeeded in dissociating partition from its painful violent reality and has in turn converted it into an achievement for all Pakistanis. The very idea that India does not accept Pakistan’s existence and Pakistan poses no real challenge for India are the two sides of the same emotion. The point that is being made here is that do define the very concept of Pakistan as a nation in the past and in the current times, the perception of the ‘other’ is being taken into account.  Thus the national self awareness is also determined by reference to the  ‘other.’
For case of India the event of Partition is seen as an inevitable turn of events. While the current view of Pakistan is in terms of an active supporter of terrorism. Also due to the unstable democracy in Pakistan a view is that [I somehow liked it very much] ‘An army looking for a country’. Most of the Indian perception about Pakistan is derived from pre-partition memory and the wars that followed with Pakistan. Thus we see that the notion of the ‘other’ is interwined with our past as well as our present.
Ideology and Textbooks
The state in both the countries wants to present its ‘approved’ version of the history to children to inculcate in them the qualities of an ideal citizen of the given state. No wonder that the history as seen in the different frameworks will be different. In this approach the textbooks are instrumental, and this is a direct descendant of the colonial past. Under the British rule in the sub-continent the history was presented in a version that was ‘suitable’ for the administrators. In case of India the Kothari Commission showed willingness to turn nation building into an ideology and to see the education as a prime instrument to propagate it. In India there is a leftward tilt, with the political ideology being essentially modernist and progressive, while pedagogically it is conventional in character. Why this stark contrast in the philosophy and the pedagogy of the history being taught is the question that we want to ask. This is partly because it suits the state ideology so.
In the case of Pakistan the urge to define and construct Pakistan as an Islamic nation occupies the central place in the system. The concern for national identity of Pakistan occupies form of an obsessive mission, for which ‘evidences’ are seen throughout the history of the modern era. Thus ideology is used in Pakistan to indicate a rationale for self identity.
In India recent trends to ‘color’ the content have been started, against the official policy to propagate a secular version of the nation. The colonial past gives a common heritage to both the countries in terms of the central control over what is taught and how it is evaluated. In both the countries the prescribed textbooks form the de facto curriculum. Questions like
In what way did the revolt of 1857 influence the nationalists during the struggle for freedom?
which do appear in exams relate to the fact that there is a way in which the revolt influenced the nationalists and this is the way which you are supposed to know and write about. Does this not destroy the notion of history itself, for the facts themselves can  be evaluated in terms of framework you see them in.
I cannot help here but to bring from the philosophy of science the notion of ‘theory ladenness of data.’  This is one of the factors which led to the downfall of the Logical Positivists, in the late half of 20th century. What this essentially means is that whatever observations that we have, can be interpreted by us only in the terms of the theory that we are working with. This is something which you cannot do away with. The Logical Positivists on the other hand believed in the exactly opposite thing. They thought that the observations presented an objective truth which can be evaluated without any reference to theories. But this I guess is a normative position than a descriptive one as regards to the science. This view is obsolete in the philosophy of science and now philosophers do believe in the theory ladenness of data. More cannot be said to be true about the subject of history itself. Though it took some time for the philosophers of science to realize, this has been always the case with history. The notion that science is objective in terms of the outlook,  unlike history was abandoned.
Here I cannot but restrain myself from giving example from George Orwell’s 1984, where in Ministry of Truth’s dictum says:

Who control the past, controls the future.
Who control the present, controls the past.
Is this not what our governments are doing? The more I think about this more I am convinced that our present state has the form of the Orwellian state. Where in the past is rewritten so as the state is always right. The difference being that our textbooks were written once and have been propagating the same stories since then. Is not the state trying to control the future, in terms of the citizens that are being made by the education that is imparted to them. This I guess is the Nehruvian vision, where the educated elite are supposed to keep out of politics. Politics in most of the ‘good’ families is seen as a ‘dirty’ game, where people from ‘good’ families should not get involved. But does not the history stand against evidence to the fact that almost all of the people who were involved in the freedom struggle were from ‘good’ families. During the freedom struggle it was a prestige to be involved politics, but what has changed in the years in between so that the roles are reversed. What the education has succeeded in doing in India, is to dissociate the learned elite from the actual political situation in the country. Is this not the state at work?
Rival Histories
Now we come to the main part of this work, the rival histories that the school children of the two countries are being presented with in the schools. The words and events which have a common meaning in one country have totally different in the other. The very word freedom has different meaning for both the countries, India ‘woken up,’ whereas Pakistan was ‘born.’ Here again I would like to borrow an idea from the philosophy of science; Kuhn’s idea of incommensurability. The basic idea is that different theories or paradigms can be hard or impossible to compare, in a properly unbiased way. Thus when we see the different events in modern history, in the two different paradigms of the two states, they no wonder appear to be entirely different. To say that one version is correct and another a distorted version of it, is to loose the whole point so what is being said here.
The memory of the struggle with the British has great memory for both of the newly born nation states of India and Pakistan. The emergence of the national identity forms a central theme in the histories of both the nations. For the consolidation of the nation state, this memory needs to be preserved and passed on to the next generation. Only then the nation state will be successful, otherwise be in demise. Thus the state itself works towards its own growth and welfare, just as The Party in 1984. This is done for the respective nations by recasting the record of their freedom struggle into a narrative for the young.
Hence we
have two prototypes of the same event, one which serves the interest of each nation state. Thus were born the two ‘master narratives’ for the two nation states. But the question is, should they be the same? In both the states the school historians take the ‘national’ and ‘approved’ stance on the past.
So what is the framework in which this evaluation is done in? In this work, three themes have been explored in the context of the material presented in the textbooks of the two nations.
1. Politics of mention: By politics of mention it is meant the decision to include or exclude a particular name or event in the discourse of history. This in turn is directly influenced by larger process of identity building.
2. Pacing of the end:Both the systems have a different pacing towards the end of the struggle. The aspect of story telling having many linkages to the politics involved, but it also has to do with nature of educational system, how it treats knowledge as a body of fact. More attention is given to the individual facts, rather than to the connections between them. Also there is a rapid movement between events, without ascertaining the causal relationships if any between the end.
3. Conception of the end: Both the narratives come to a stop in 1947. The end point is conceptualized very differently in the two master narratives. For the Indian master narrative the freedom and partition is seen as a great achievement, along with terrible sense loss and sadness, and a sense of failure to subvert a conspiracy is embedded. Whereas in case of  Pakistan it is seen as a remarkable achievement, which is somewhat mitigated by a sense of injustice. For the Indian master narrative the history starts in ancient times and comes to an end in 1947. And in case of Pakistan, the ‘end’ marks formal beginning of the nation state called Pakistan. In fact the history of Pakistan starts from 1947.
Blurred Divergences
With the given animosity present between the two countries we would expect that the histories present in the textbooks would be mirror images of each other. But this is not the case, the two narratives are related but in a highly complex manner. Both the narratives follow a path which see to it that the events and persons mentioned the master plan of each. It is not that eminent personalities are portrayed as villians in the other history. Both focus on ‘high’ politics rather than social dynamics; decisions taken by eminent leaders and British administrators. The freedom struggle is treated as an allegory, composed for the purpose of reminding the young that they are inheritors of great storehouse values. One of the epistemological difference between the two versions is that the Pakistani version focuses more on ‘how’ was freedom achieved and the Indian narrative focuses on ‘why’ it had to take the form it did.
A Beginning Located
So what is the starting point in both the master narratives? Both the master narratives take the Rebellion of 1857 as a starting point of the route to freedom, which ends in 1947. The textbooks of both sides convey the impression that rebels were inspired by a dream of national independence. But the words such as ‘national’ or ‘nationalist’ are not qualified and are not cautioned against. The very fact that these notions do not apply in that era as they apply now is seem to have been forgotten by the writers on both the sides.  So we come to a question of whether there was there any ‘nationalism’ in the revolt of 1857? Most of the Indian writers answer this question positively, and see the revolt as the ‘first war of Indian independence.’ As of now there is not any clear consensus on the issue. One of the ironies that the revolt presents is that of the so called ‘rebels’ and the ‘educated Indians.’ Whereas the rebels are presented to be against the British, the reasons cited are political and religious, whereas the various religious and social reformers who were contemporaries of the same rebels are presented in an entirely different light. What is forgotten that the very reformers which have supposed to lay the seeds of the social enlightenment in India were very supporters of the British rule.

Children [and I guess even most adults] are not allowed to realize that events of 1857 look remarkably different from different perspectives. In the Pakistani textbooks the events of 1857 have to be placed as the formal beginning of the master narrative. 1857 is seen as an attempt by the Muslim rulers to throw away the British rule and re-establish Mughal rule; attention is brought to the fact that Muslims as a community were willing to fight for rights and status. So who according to the narratives are the heroes of 1857? The Indian narrative answers in plural as
Mangal Pandey, Rani of Jhansi, Tatya Tope, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Nana Saheb. But in case of the Pakistani texts the discussion of 1857 is not elaborated much. For any elaborate discussion on 1857 would show that Muslims and Hindus were capable of fighting as an unified force, and this would certainly not fit in the master narrative of Pakistan. For Pakistani writers any pedagogic narrative should serve a dual role; it should describe how the colonial rule ended and should also explain how Pakistan came into being. So this represents a problem for the writers of ‘Pakistan Studies.’ The other dilemma is in the structure of the narrative itself. One of the key figures in the start of the Pakistani master narrative is Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, who is presented as a ”great hero” and sided with the British during 1857. So how will Pakistani writer solve a dilemma like this:
If it is a war of independence waged by the Muslims against the hated British foreigner, how can Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, who sided with the British and condemned the native rising be presented to the students as “great hero” and “the greatest thinker of Pakistan?”
So what do we make of this?  The events in 1857 can be seen as a last convulsive movement of protest against the coming of west on the part of traditional India. Though the revolt did have great influence on the subsequent struggle, it is hard to say that it was in any logical way connected to this struggle. In both the narratives the scale of the violence that took place in the revolt remains vague. Why should be this so? This is an unanswered question.
Both in character and content the topic of national character contrasts sharply with the revolt of 1857. The textbooks even at the lower classes attempt to convey to children a notion of the reform movements; terms like ‘tradition’, ‘progress’, and ‘reform’. But how much of this the children are cognitively capable of learning is a question. I guess even how many adults can understand these notions. For the Pakistani writers the aim is to impart the ability to ‘understand the Hindu and Muslim differences and the resultant need for Pakistan’. Whereas for the Indian writers the idea of secularism has to take root in the nineteenth century reformers. Hence they are said to be ‘deeply influenced by the ideas of rationalism and humanism and of human equality’.

We now take a look at the presentation of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan in the two narratives. In the Pakistani master narrative he is the key figure post 1857 and most of the attention is on the Aligarh movement. The foundations of the Pakistani Master Narrative are established in this era. The categories ‘Hindus’ and ‘Muslims’ are constructed, with some stereotypes accommodating the master narrative. The ‘Hindus’ are given certain essential unalienable properties which are supposed to the part of their nature. They are supposed to be cruel, manipulative, unreliable.
The idea that there was a tacit understanding between the Hindus and British to undermine and rule the Muslims runs through the master narrative. Thus Muslims are seen as the oppressed lot who rose for themselves to create a separate state. Sayyid Ahmad Khan is presented in Pakistani textbooks as solitary person ahead of times; a great leader and a visionary and most importantly who introduced the idea of two nation theory. Though he is verbalized as a great man; he is a as a tool to stigmatize Congress. The connotations that Congress has are that it was a pure Hindu body, and it is used to stereotype Hindus as selfish and sectarian people.
In the Indian narrative on the other hand Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan he is just one of the many reformers that are present during that era. Three major themes of his work are covered in the the textbooks of both sides. They are:
1. Conciliatory view of the British.
2. Caution against representative democracy and Congress.
3.  Institutional work to promote Western Education among the Muslims.
But only the last one is emphasized in the Indian textbooks, so that he becomes just one of many. The special status that is awarded to him in the Pakistani context is absent in the Indian context.
Tools that are required to read into the cultural awakening are not presented to the students. Even if somebody wants to understand the meaning of the terms involved there is no potion but to memorize.
When one reads the texts the unfortunate impression is given that Congress was set up in one day, with clear cut aim for the liberation of India from the British rule. Just as the anti-Hindu sentiments run throughout the Pakistani master narrative, the idea of ‘Divide and Rule’ by the British runs throughout the Indian master narrative. The partition of Bengal on the religious lines is an example of this. But in the Pakistani master narrative Jinnah’s participation in the Congress during the Bengal movement period is suppressed in the Pakistani texts as it does not fit their master narrative, in which Congress is a purely Hindu body and primarily anti-Muslim.
The formation of Muslim league is presented as if it was a natural outcome of the conditions present then. Since the Congress was a purely Hindu body, the Muslims were left with no political organization of their own. So to make the voice of the Muslims to be heard the formation of a Muslim political organization was the only alternative left. The Muslim League was formed as a result. The Muslim League thus steps out of history assuming the status of quasi-divine mechanism that Muslims of India always needed. The formation of the Muslim League is presented as culmination of social and political awakening of the Muslims. On the other hand in the Indian textbooks the creation of the Muslim League is seen as another version of the ‘Divide and Rule’ policy of the British. Thus we see that how one event viz. the formation of the Muslim League ‘fits’ properly in both the master narratives, which have their own agenda of reaching the summit in 1947.
Unity and Breakup [1916-1922]
Even though there were basic ideological differences present in the view points of Congress and the League some sort of communal harmony was present during the events leading to the Khilafat and the Non-Cooperation Movements. So we see now this era of harmony between the two political parties is portrayed in the two textbooks. It is at this juncture that Gandhi enters the political scene in the Indian narrative. As he became the leader of the national movement, the movement is transformed. The transformation of the movement was in terms of the class and the region of the people participating in the movement. Thus the movement became a mass movement due to arrival of Gandhi, and he is seen as a hero in the Indian context. Contrastingly in the Pakistani texts Gandhi is characterized as a ‘Hindu leader.’ The significance of Gandhi’s entry into politics is reduced significantly. The very fact that during this period the freedom of Pakistan depended so much on the freedom of India is oblivious to the writers [and hence to the readers] in Pakistan.
The Khilafat Movement
In the Indian context the Khilafat movement marks the high point of Hindu-Muslim unity. This incidence is always seen in a secular light, hence the triumph of secularism is seen as a guiding value of national movement. The Khilafat movement is to be seen as ‘golden opportunity for cementing Hindu-Muslim unity and bringing the Muslim masses into national movement‘.  On the other hand for Pakistani writers Khilafat along with Hijrat, is remarkable for the fact that Hindus and Muslims worked jointly for their success, but this could not continue because of the hostile attitude of the Hindus toward Muslims became evident.‘ Also the idea of anti-Muslim sentiment runs throughout the narrative. This statement reveals this idea; It is obvious that no Hindu could be seriously concerned with whether Khilafat was to survive or not.’ In the Pakistani texts the  Jinnah’s opposition to Khilafat movement is suppressed, as this would not fit the master narrative in the light of the later events. Maybe somebody should raise a question:  How can Quaid-e-Azam oppose the Khilafat movement which was so dear to the Muslims?
As far as the Pakistani narrative is concerned Gandhi is presented as a shrewd character who used the Khilafat movement for attaining his goals. The fact that Gandhi called off the Movement after the Chauri-Chaura incident is portrayed as a decisive moment in Muslims organizing themselves instead of looking for allies. Whereas in the Indian context Gandhi’s role is unique and has three broad dimensions:
2. An imaginative strategist.
3. A social reformer.
Gandhi is the superman of Indian politics, he can do no wrong. The status that Gandhi achieved remains a mystery, so do the reasons for choices he made. There is no way the readers can understand the political games that were played, in the era, as only facts without much interpretation is presented. As far as Gandhi is concerned in the Indian narrative, politician in him is left out; only Mahatma remains. One of the basic premise of Gandhian thought that substituted the value of loyalty to state by self imposed structure of moral behavior is not discussed. The withdrawal of the Non-cooperation gives us the side of Gandhi as a whimsical leader; the explanation. The instinct in the Indian master narrative is to present secularism as an innate value of Indian nationalist movement. This allows the Indian writers to present demand for Pakistan later as sudden and ahistorical an act of manoeuvre on the part of Jinnah and the British, which is seen as a part of the ‘Divide and Rule’ policy of the British empire.
After the mid 1920s after the withdrawal of the Khilafat movement the writers with difficult years to dwell on.   For the Indian narrative there are no dramatic events in this period. There was a lot of communal violence that took place during this period, which is ignored by both the sides. As the Pakistani narrative dwells on the characterization of the people on religious lines viz. Hindus and Muslims, the Indian narrative calls for characterization in terms of  ‘nationalist’ and ‘communalist’. The young are trained to regard ‘nationalism’ and ‘communalism’ as antonyms.Nationalist as ones who fought on behalf of all Indians; communalist as one who fought for their own communities.
Why is this done? Why is the violence sidelined in both the narratives? One of the basic argument given in this favor of is that children should not be exposed to violence. But is this a valid argument? The reason for not exposing the children perhaps lies in the nature of nation building role which schools and history textbooks are supposed to perform. This role demands filtering out of the record of communal violence from the narrative of the national movement to whatever extent possible. Why should be this so?
In the Pakistani texts a key difference that is evident is in the portrayal of Congress. Congress is portrayed  as a single, cohesive, Hindu body, without any internal differences. The Hindu Mahasabha, which was the right wing political party of the Hindus is politically and ideologically merged with the Congress. This is done so that a Hindu Congress can be well targeted in the Pakistani master narrative.
The Nehru Report
The report prepared by Motilal Nehru, known as the Nehru report is passingly mentioned in the Indian textbooks. But this report is one of the milestones in the history of Pakistan. From what is found that in the earlier episodes of history there is a difference of perspectives and approach in the two master narratives, but in this case there is a total disagreement. This is seen as the last straw of Congress-Muslim relationship. Jinnah presented his fourteen point program in response to this report. Whereas this response by Jinnah is hailed by Pakistani texts, as a step towards the reality of a Muslim nation, in the Indian texts this response is seen as ‘communal’ in character. In fact in the Indian texts there is a tacit policy to give no significance to organized Muslim response at the  secondary level. To regard such demands as purely communal in nature, and to hold such ‘communal’ demands in sharp contrast to ‘national’ demands is to equal to thinking ahistorically. Then in such a framework of  ‘communal’ and ‘national’ where does the support that Khilafat movement got [which was purely religious] fit in? Clearly the Indian textbook writers are missing the point here. How can one movement be ‘communal’ and the other be ‘national’? This clearly shows it as attempt to evaluate a given event with variable standards so as to ‘fit’ the master narrative.
After the 1930s the common points of reference between the two narratives become scarce, and they diverge rapidly. The two narratives employ different persons and events which lead to the desired end. The Indian narrative becomes vary fast in this case, whereas the Pakistani one becomes very slow detailing events that lead to the formation of Pakistani nation state. At this point  how and why make the crucial difference between the orientations of the narratives.  After the naming of Pakistan occurred, Pakistani account finds adequate reasons to under emphasize or altogether ignore even major events afterwards. On the other hand in the Indian narrative the task is to celebrate the struggle and the triumph of the ‘secular’ inspiration; due to this political struggle of religious and other separatists is forgotten. Even the mention of the names of important separatists like Subhas Bose are passingly mentioned.
Since the ‘communal’ activities increased in the last decade, Indian historians have to race through this decade. But in the Pakistani narrative this is the decade worth discussing. In this decade the Indian textbooks mainly concentrate on the civil disobedience movement. And the discussion usually starts with Gandhi’s Dandi march. But the issues and conditions under which this act was done remain mysterious. What exactly Gandhi hoped to achieve by this and why did he do it are unanswered questions. What is presented in the texts is just the factual information about the march without explaining the deeper meaning associated with it. Most of the Indian texts suppress the fact that civil disobedience did not attract the Muslim participation. Also worth noticing is the fact that reference to the Round Table Conferences and  Poona Pact are meagre. The Indian historians looking at the events in the decade with a secular lens, fail to even mention the communal divide amongst the various sections in India. The reader is thus left unaware of the gravity of the communal problem present during this time. Still the image of all Indians, regardless of their religions, fighting against the British rule runs through the narrative. This creates an epistemic shock when demand for a separate Muslim state is made in the 1940s and the demand seems unjustified and ad hoc.
In Pakistani texts the three main things that, have a different focus than the Indian texts are.
1. Focus on Iqbal’s Allahabad speech.
2. Lack of emphasis on Civil Disobedience.
3. Importance given to all three round table conferences.
And the key issue for the Pakistani texts remains the Congress’s refusal to acknowledge the minority problem. This struggle is presented in many texts as the struggle between the Father of Nation on the Indian side and Quaid-e-Azam on the other:
Gandhi insisted that there was only one nation India which were Hindus. But Quaid-e-Azam replied that Indian Muslims were also a separate nation of India which had its own interests.

Thus we see that the facts are once again presented in a way so as to fit the master narratives, leaving out the things that do not fit in, emphasizing only the aspects that do fit in the narrative.
The Government of India Act [1935]
Texts of both the countries mention the main provisions of this Act, in which regional governments were setup, in the different provinces, with the majority being in the hands of Congress. In the Indian texts little is said about the Congress being in power; the era presents no inspiring events for the reader. In the Pakistani texts the results of the election are portrayed as a shock to the League, and which saw a gloomy future for the Muslims if a democracy is setup in India. The Muslims due to smaller numbers will have no say in the government so formed democratically. This brought the Muslim league to the ground reality,  also led the transformation of Jinnah from idealist to political realist.
During this era the Congress governments did some works, which is very sketchily or not mentioned at all. One of the works that Congress governments introduced was the Gandhi’s Wardha scheme for educational reforms. This is not mentioned or elaborated in the Indian texts. But contrastingly in the Pakistani texts this is one of key issues to be discussed. But why should just some educational reforms, that too at the school level should be worth discussing, when other major events are not discussed?
One of the key features of the Gandhi’s Wardha Scheme was the use of child’s mother tongue as a medim of instruction. Particularly in the United Provinces this meant that  the traditional education in urdu to be replaced by that one in hindi. This scheme was seen as an alternative to bookish education. But in the implementation of the scheme many things happened which no body anticipated. The song of vande mataram was supposed to be sung by all school children, which is considered as anti-muslim in nature. Also in every school portraits of Gandhi were placed, which further made muslims irate. And finally the school were to be called vidya mandirs which means a temple of education, but this was very provocative for the muslims. The Muslims saw this scheme as a means to destroy their religion, by aiming at their children. Thus if the children are targeted and taken away from Islam, there would be no next generation of Muslims left in the country. This was a grand plot eliminate muslims forever. The interesting point to be noted is that, Gandhi had deliberately left out religious instructions in this scheme. But the things went the other way.
The contrast between the two texts sharpens as we enter the last phase of the struggle. Quit India movement is the major event in the early 1940s in the Indian narrative, whereas Lahore resolution is the major event in the Pakistani master narrative. The Quit India movement gives the Indian school historian a perfect material to dwell upon and write about in the master narrative. All the key elements of the narrative are present: adventure, heroism, moral struggle and determination. The movement is portrayed as the ultimate patriotic adventure with no trace of politics. The INA follows the Quit India and maybe seen as a continuation of the same. The differences between Subhas Bose and Gandhi are not highlighted. In case of the Pakistani master narrative Lahore resolution is the master narrative, whereas Quit India presented as detached, uninspiring story. The Muslim League is shown to have attained clarity and cohesiveness due to its bitter experience with Congress. The fact that League would push for independence not only from the British but also from Hindus, is seen as unavoidable.  The Pakistani authors appear to be gripped at this juncture by the urge to trace and retrace the familiar record of past references to Hindu-Muslim differences and the idea of partition. The names like Lajpat Rai and Savarkar appear along with Syed Ahmad Khan and Iqbal in context of the idea of partition. Here the Congress is represented as a cohesive Hindu body aimed at destroying the Muslims.
The Cabinet Mission is mentioned, which was supposed to but what it meant or why it failed is hardly explained. The Congress-League relations in this era are not emphasized, while the Cabinet Mission plan is trivialized. In the Indian texts the structuring is around the anxiety to explain why the congress accepted partition. A feeling is created that partition was not completely inevitable but was allowed to take place. Now since the secular nationalism is a superior force, its proponents accepting proposal of division based on religious lines calls for an explanation. A distinction is made between the ‘acceptance’ of an impending course of events and the ‘acceptance’ of the inspiration that this impending course of events was based on. The second part consists of mitigating the scale of success which morally inferior idea of communalism achieved by forcing Partition. ‘The Nationalist leaders agreed to Partition of India in order to avoid the large scale blood bath that the communal riots threatened. But they did not accept the two nation theory.’ Thus Partition is seen as an outcome of circumstances, not as the failure of Congress’s ideology.
In the Pakistani narrative this is the peak of the narrative, the accomplishment of Partition is ascribed to Jinnah. Jinnah is portrayed as semi-divine visionary who succeeded against all odds in getting what he wanted. But the irony about the portrayal of the freedom struggle is that instead of its portrayal as inevitable destiny, it is a product of political happenings. The Muslim League is ascribed the intention of not letting the Congress gets it way, despite the backing of British. Thus we find in both the narratives the British being targeted as being the conspirators with the ‘other.’ A deep mistrust of the ‘other’ along with the British is present in both the narratives.
Here again one finds that the violence and the human tragedies that followed after the partition is not elaborated at all. It does not find more than a few lines in both the master narratives. As with the violence of 1857 the violence and bloodshed is underplayed. There can be three reasons which can be said about why violence is so under represented in both the texts.
1. Partition is merely one of the topics that has to be covered.
2. Sanitization of the freedom struggle.
3. History as presently conceptualized, is incapable of dealing with the violence and suffering.
Some Reflections

We see that the histories of India and Pakistan as represented in their school textbooks have a relation that is far away from simple. The two narratives are related in a complicated way, to understand which it is hard for us as members of the Indian sub-continent to come above and see. It would be very hard for people like us to realize that the history that has been presented to us is ‘biased’ in a way so as to fit the ‘accepted’ or the state approved version of the history. But to have this realization is hard and once you have it it is still harder to let it go. You then tend to ‘see’ every thing with suspicion, with a feeling that you are being indoctrinated into something by someone who is invisible. Then the conspiracy theories are abound. But this realization must come from within, it is hard to come from without.

As for the Indian and Pakistani narratives, I have found a nice analogy which fits both the narratives. If we visualize the path from 1857 to 1945 as a path leading to a mountain summit, we can easily accommodate both of the master narratives nicely. Thus we have the events of 1857 as the starting point from where both the narratives diverge, the paths of the summit are different. Towards the summit the paths take different turns and different events happen in each of the expedition. Some of these events are seen by the people who have taken the ‘other’ path some of them are not. So in a log of the two expeditions which are our master narratives the politics of mention is thus taken into account. Each expedition encounters in their route something that the ‘other’ does not. As for the final summit, when they reach there in 1947, the members of the expedition look past each other and they are looking in different directions as, we see the idea of freedom is different in both the countries.  Partition signifies end of history in India; in Pakistan it signifies birth.

Reference:
Krishna Kumar
Prejudice and Pride
2003, Penguin
PS: For a very dramatic account of the events leading to the freedom of India and Pakistan, and the violence that followed afterwards I would recommend
Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. Also for the events of 1857, fictional but highly readable account is Manohar Malgaonkar’s The Devil’s Wind.

# Passport Blues…

Finally the day arrived that I applied for the passport.
This was pending from a long time literally, [6 years to be precise!]. The preparation for this grand event began about two weeks before.
The first thing that we did was to look at the list of the required documents. Sorry boss, no ration cards, electricity or telephone bills or election IDs at the present address. What do I do?
Oh yes, there was one ray of hope for people like us, who are abandoned by the government in terms of our identity. The list read thus:

Proof of address (attach one of the following):

Applicant’s ration card, certificate from Employer of reputed companies on letter head, water /telephone /electricity bill/statement of running bank account/Income Tax Assessment Order /Election Commission ID card, Gas connection Bill, Spouse’s passport copy, parent’s passport copy in case of minors.

This is from the Passport Department’s website here [italics mine]. Well I has these two, so I was happy.
The other major thing was proof of date of birth. The website reads thus:

Proof of Date of Birth (attach one of the following):

Birth certificate issued by a Municipal Authority or district office of the Registrar of Births & Deaths;

Date of birth certificate from the school last attended by the applicant or any other recognized educational institution; or an Affidavit sworn before a Magistrate/Notary stating date/place of birth as per the specimen in ANNEXURE ‘A’ by illiterate or semi-illiterate applicants.

Well this I had the SSC mark sheet has date of birth.
Also I had to get these two Annexure B and I. Well I got the Annerxure B thanks to our office administration. And Annexure I thanks to a security guy in the office whose brother did the job. Took the photosof passport size [3.5 cm x 3.5 cm] also they have come okay [I guess]. As compared to other photos of mine. 🙂
Also for the ECNR stamp, I was required to show that I was at least 10th pass. So I decided to give the highest one that I have got viz. M.Sc. mark sheet; one of the two achievements of my entire life, the other one being my selection at HBC.

Well then compiled the other documents. The list of documents to be submitted read thus:

Residence proof from the office
Statement of Bank Account
2 Date of Birth Proof
SSC Mark Sheet
3 Annexure B [Office ID Proof]
4 Anexure I [Standard Affidavit]
5 M.Sc. Marksheet for ECNR
Then we filled out the form on the website, which gave us an ‘appointment’ for the application. The date was fixed on 9th April 2008 [Tai’s Birthday] and the time was 11:30 am. This is what the website reads:

Please visit Passport office on the appointed date and time. You should arrive at RPO about 15 minutes before the appointed time and proceed to the respective counter. On line applicants do not need to obtain a  token number for submitting their applications. You will not have to wait long in the queue.
Well the last line brought a BIG smile to me. Such a care taken at a government office; I was impressed.
Another good news was waiting for me, we could also submit the form at Chembur so that we don’t have to go all the way to Prabha Devi to just submit the forms. The address of the above office was taken from the Mumbai Police Helpline number 1090, where the attendant was surprisingly very helpful. No irony intended here. I mean it. The guy on the other side of the phone was really helpful. I wish everybody in the Government office [at least the PROs] were like him.
I was the happiest being in the universe.
So the fateful day arrived, we had done everything else except one minor detail of actually filling up the form, of whatever columns was left. We thought of doing this the night before, but Mishraji went to sleep when I was going to the office. So it was decided that we fill up the forms in the morning at 8:30 am, and go to the office in Chembur at about 10, as opposed to 11 suggested by Mishraji.
Had our breakfast and went on the Wind Wolf. Well the address that Mishraji and I had was in exactly opposite directions; so total confusion about where to go.
First we went to the office behind the fine arts society building. But this was a mistake the Passport accepting office was at the other end in Chembur colony. So went there. There were very few people in line there, but why should we worry we had an appointment at 11:30 and we were early for it, for it was just 10:25 !
When we went inquiring we were directed to a lady who was checking the forms. Yess! We were finally there, my six year old dream of getting a passport or at least the first step towards it seemed to be coming true.
I told the lady that we had an appointment even though she ws checking some forms.
But, then, किंतू, परंतू, लेकिन …..
Well this was the end of the dream run that we have had so far…
The lady on the desk in told me in a way characteristic of a a government office person:
अाम्ही ईथे रोज फक्त ३० फॉर्म घेतो. ३० टोकन दिलेले अाहे, तर तुम्ही ऊद्या या, अाज तुमचा फॉर्म घेता येणार नाही.
Meaning that: ”Everyday we take here only 30 forms only. For today 30 tokens have already been given, so we cannot accept your form.”

But how can this be? I tried to argue that we had an appointment, and were not supposed to stand in any line or take any tokens! But she would not budge and told us that the website appointment did not have any relevance. WTF!
I mean, I could not believe it. How can a government website be so misleading. Even then I did not loose my cool, I kept on insisting on the word ‘appointment’, so be it she must have thought. Then she told us that if you  want to avail the appointment you will have to go to Prabha Devi head office. When I asked her about how to go there, she was staring towards me in disbelief. Huh, this guy wants to go there?
Anyway without receiving much help from her I went out and met some constables who directed me towards the Prabha Devi Passport head office, which was after Siddhi Vinayak. Well if this is how it is supposed to be, then let it be. Today I had to submit this form.
We still had about 50 minutes to reach there, I estimated that we could reach there in about 35-40 minutes, which was correct. When in the old office at 11:15 so we had a sigh of relief. But this was also short lived. We were told that passport submission happened in Bengal Chemical Bhavan, which was nearby. How much nearby he did not specify. Anyway we found it was really nearby.
Hmm, spirits were high again, we can finally make up for the appointment at 11:30. Well here I felt more than happy when I saw a long line of people with passport forms in their hand. We laughed at them. Idiots. In this age of internet how could be there fools who were applying directly, waiting for tokens, uggghhh, I was seeing dumb people. With smart asses like us, who were net and tech savvy, we can really be ahead of the rest of the tech haves-not! Ha ha ha ha….
At the end of the line we were greeted by a security guard. Who asked us
क्या काम है?
We with our chest held high told that we have an appointment and we had to submit our forms. So far so good. Then he spoke some pearls of wisdom for us:
अॉनलईन अपॉईंटमेंट का कोई मतलब नहीं. ये लाईन में लगे हुऐ सभी लोगों का अपॉईंटमेंट है. लाईन में लग जाईए, अापका अपॉईंटमेंट भी हो जाएगा.
Ha ha ha, I did not know what to do, neither Mishraji had any idea. This was one of those moments if I had a bulldozer, I would have razed the entire building. Talking to the guard was like talking to a wall. It was not his fault, he was just doing what he was told to. Then whose fault is it? Did the people at NIC made a typo [or several] while making the website? Anyways these questions for me would be like enduring questions for time to come…
Now we ran towards the end of the line, here again a few people were added since we went past it. So we were left at end of a very long line. There we came to know that we were not alone in being fooled by the online submission’s claim of

You will not have to wait long in the queue.
The sun was laughing down on us. All of us fools who were standing in the queue for the appointment. People around me were relating how they fell for this just like us. Also taking the government machinery for its lethargy and stubbornness. Anyway we were pacing forward at one tenth of snail’s pace. The only aim was to get inside the hall and we thought that all our troubles would get solved in a jiffy. Anyway till 12:45 we got in the hall and…
There was a total chaos in there. We were supposed to go to the 8 number counter. The queues for different counters did start differently but as they grew long, in the end all merged into a mass of people, who barely knew which line was where. One by one the people were leaving and we were progressing in the queue.
Some of us did panic, as there were boards around saying that acceptance of forms and fees will be only till 12:30. But then someone told us that it is till 5:00 pm. Now all this standing in queue in the sun was showing up. I had not had water in the morning and was feeling really thirsty. The only cooler in the room was not working. But there was another escape root. There was a CCD counter. We ate some sandwiches and shakes which made us feel better. Meanwhile Mishraji had ventured outside and got us a water bottle which was not available at the CCD counter. [Note: Always carry a water bottle whenever you are outside in Mumbai, the thirst might just kill you!].
Till the lunch time we got really close to the chairs. Chairs the all important chairs. Never in my entire life I have craved for one, the way I was craving for it then. We were just one number away from the chairs when the Lunch Time was commenced. Not good will have to stand at least half hour more, without seating. Taking a clue from another person who was sitting merrily on the floor I decided to do the same. What a relief it was!
At last the lunch time got over and our man was back at the place where we all wanted him to be. Well he had become really charged when he had returned. He quickly send out a lot many of them and we finally did have a space to sit!
Some people from the pre-lunch session returned, whom our guy had send running for various things. One of the guys in blue shirt was really made to run and sweat. He was with his wife and mother I guess. But in the end much later he had his work done.
Well but all this ate upon our waiting time in the queue. So when we were just a few people away the entire thing came to a standstill at least for us.

I was loosing all the energy to fight or otherwise. The bottle of water was a precious resort, which we both were banking upon. Just then Mishraji realized that he had not attached ‘two self attested copies of all the documents’ he had only one! In a hurry he went outside, and got the copies. Phew! That was a close one.
Well I noticed another thing, I had not brought the original bank passbook only the copies. Bad. So my short list of documentary evidences was further shortened. I hope that this does not create a problem, so I decide not to attach it.
Finally we were there, at the counter; where they take the forms to give the passport
When I presented him with the documents, he asks me
काय अॅडरेस प्रुफ लावले अाहे?
[What address proof have you attached?]
I explained to him that the office had given me a letter as a proof of residence which fitted in the categories given on the website. He said in plain words:
हे चालणार नाही.
[This is not good enough, it is not acceptable.]
When we insisted we were sent to see a साहेब at the 19 number counter. Mishraji followed the same as we both had evidences. We went to the officer concerned, who was in argument with someone over a passport which was lost.
Finally he had some time for us. He had a look at us and our evidences and asked
तुम्ही स्टुडंट अाहे, अाणि गव्हरमेंट सरव्हंट पण?
[You are both students and government servants?]
Then I explained to him that I was doing my Ph.D., he assumed the same for Mishraji. Then he finally gave a nod for us and said our evidences are okay. So after thanking him we ran back to8 number counter, where our man was sitting doing others jobs. We told him that the officer has given the nod. Then he asks
मग त्यांना, please accept, असे लिहायला सांगा.
[Ask him to give in written that this is acceptable.]
We went back to the officer and he duly wrote
GS + Student and Annx B on our forms with a green ink.
So finally we were back at the 8 number counter. The queue which was  behind us was getting shorter and shorter with more and more people being disposed off. When we went back, he was not happy even after that with the documentary evidences. So he went all the way down to some other guy at counter 10, ad asked him advice about our ‘complicated case’. Well he asked what other documentary evidence did we have. I told him that I have Institute ID, PAN card and Bank pass book copy but I forgot to bring the original passbook. He looked not very happy. He asked me other non-relevant questions like
तुम्ही काय काम करता? PhD चा विषय काय? Stipend भेटतो का? किती भेटतो? ितथे काय entrance असते का? पारपत्र कशाला हवं?
[What work do you do? What is the subject of your PhD? Do you get a stipend? How much? Is there an entrance to get into the institute? What do you need passport for?]
Then after much deliberation he finally nodded. And asked us to get the copies of the ID, PAN card and we were done. I hurried to Hall number 2, where there was a Xerox facility on a Canon copier.
Anyway after the copying, I came back and Mishraji was no where to be found. He apparently went all the way out to get copies not knowing that there was a copier in hall number 2. Poor guy.
When I went back to the counter, the guy at the counter told me to come after everybody else’s thing got over. As ours was a ‘complicated case’. It was about 4:30 So we had to wait for 10 more minutes, when finally Mishraji appeared all sweating. And we finally got to submit the documents. We had to make two sets of all the documents ready, which we did.
Then he asks for a proof of place of birth. Well this was not mentioned anywhere. Any way he also gave a solution for that, that we write a note which claimed that we were indeed born in the places we said we were born. And that was it. Good!
Finally after last scrutiny he affixed stamp on it and I had to sign it. And I proceeded to give the fees 1000 INR. But Mishraji had a problem, he had not attached two copies of the Annexure I or the affidavit. Well I also had not….
Then came back to the person and told him, that I also do not have two copies of the affidavit. He was surely pissed off on me and angry too, but it was all my fault. Okay he had to remove staples and give me the affidavit back. We almost ran back to hall number 2 and got the affidavits copied and ran back to hall number 1.
Well finally we submitted the form and stood in the line to give the fees. Well at the fee counter if you were paying by 500 or 1000 denomination notes you had to write their numbers. Well we did that and the lady at the counter asked me what was my subject of MSc, when I replied physics she commented physics is hard. Well I never knew doing MSc in physics would come useful in this way. So when I paid the cash I finally thought it was over, but destiny had other plans….
And O remembered this line from Bombay [sorry Mumbai] Boys…
अभी खत्म नहीं हुअा च्युत्ये…
The lady at the cash counter told me that I had not filled the form completely!! Both me and the gentleman at the counter were taken aback. What I had not filled was that the witnesses for my testimony at the home address, in one of the copies of the form.
The guy almost invited me to fill the form in a satirical way. When I did fill it, it was finally over this time.
The guy at the counter told me only due to stamp of TIFR that he had entertained me…
Well so far so good.
I hope that there won’t be any further adventures left for me.
And now I am waiting for my passport to come…
P.S. My passport has finally arrived on Friday 15th May 2008 in HBCSE. Unfortunately me being in Pune will have to collect the passport on Monday. Now for the facts the passport did arrive in a record 36 days, 9 days before the scheduled date of 45 days. Thanks to all the officials who were involved. The Indian bureaucracy has large inertia, so that it takes a large time to get it going, but when it does it does get going.
Ciao
🙂

# The Demarcation Problem

What is the demarcation problem?
I want to discuss an acute problem which philosophers of science have to face. The question it self is quite simple. You don’t have to be genius to understand the question, but the answer to this question is far from simple.
The question put simply would read something like this:
What is the difference between science and non-science?
Or
What is science?
If you ask this question perhaps to a school going kid, you will probably get a good and clear cut answer, Physics, Chemistry and Biology are sciences, [also perhaps mathematics also?]. Also the
perhaps this is the view not only school going kids but their teachers also feel and so do practicing scientists.
Most of the lay people are afraid of science and scientists. The very idea of science is mystical and scientists are seen as the worshippers of the nature itself. This is the common image which is also portrayed in the media, [so it is popular or it is the other way round?]. In the movies scientists are [if they are not the protagonists] shown as causing almost the end of the world, or having no hearts but for the subject of their study. This is the label of evil genius which has been put on them. The list of examples would be endless. But to give a few of my own favorite ones are as under:
Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy in Batman and Robin

And Mike Myers as Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers series

This can be easily seen that the public opinion about science is not what can be called good. Another thing to add here, if we in general see that there is an attribute scientific to any thing then the thing is has to be rational, logical and something that can be relied upon. Take for example the warning which every cigarette smoker reads but ignores, this warning is supposed to be scientific’ so that you have to take it seriously, no bullshit here, this is what scientists say. This is The Truth, with a capital T. All these concepts are what I call the traditional concepts in Philosophy of Science [PoS hereafter], have a root in the beginning of the 20th century.
What is the point of bringing all this up in an philosophical discussion? Wait, what we will see is the fact that the things just mentioned have a very deep root in philosophy. What we want to do is to explicate this root.
We start our discussion with the so called modern era of the philosophy, which was mostly in the last century. In this era a group of philosophers known as the Vienna Circle presented the first dominant view point, which persisted till the first half of the century.
But this will be in another post….

# Of Bibliophilia…

Well the other day while surfing the net I found some thing about me. Something about the things that I do has been so clearly defined,I never even wondered that there could be people who have defined and categorised terms like this one.

See this and you will understand. [Or is it this?]
This is one attribute that I certainly have. Collecting and reading books is a passion that I nurtured from my childhood. The ones that I had and read in my childhood were the comics. I read a whole lot of them, covering entire series. So when I went to collect old’ comics at the Sita Bardi old book sellers, I did got interested in the other books they were selling. So I started buying them also. Initially the budgets were very low, so….
The major ones that I brought in this time were the Russian published Mir titles. I collected a lot over the years and they form one of the most prized collections that I have.
When I shifted to Pune visiting the Deccan bridge’ became almost a ritual. Almost all the books I acquired during my stay in Pune were brought from Mr. Prabhakar and co. I don’t even have a photo of these guys, maybe next time I go, I will get one…

Update: This is the photo of Mr. Prabhakar that I took in the last trip..

I became one of the regulars there. And so were others….
Also another incident happened in Pune, which really made me in this regard. Me and Samir went to a certain prestigious library, where we were told by the librarian “We don’t need people like you in our library.” Well this really changed my attitude towards possession of books. Books are the key to the code of that knowledge, why it should not be open to all in a free society…
Ebooks are going to change this. You don’t loose an e-book when you give it to someone.
There is another thing that is a bit strange which has happened with me many times. It is cannot be certainly be put in rational sense. The idea that I have is that books call me! Yes you read it right. I many times feel incredibly attracted towards a book when I see it. I mean,  I feel that I have to have this book, there is no compromise….  I don’t know how to explain this, but the books that I have got by this intuition’ have proved to be immensely useful to me one way or the other. They have at times opened an entirely different world altogether for me.
Some of the titles that I got by this intuition’ are Larry Collins, Dominique La Pierre – Freedom at Midnight, Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennett – Mind’s I, Martin Gardner – Why’s of a  Philosophical Scrivener among others.
I did not know before that such books even exist. Let alone their content. But when I saw these books I felt this very strong urge’ that the book is saying, “Take Me with You.” Maybe you are wondering that this guy is nuts, maybe I am but this is what I have experienced.
My life is taking me westwards, literally. Nagpur to Pune, now Pune to Mumbai. Further west is the sea, where do I go from there?
Leaving Pune among other things I had one pain of leaving the bridge’. Because I had become addicted to go there. Even if I had less money, had no other work, I had to go there. I dunno, maybe it had become an OCD.
Also another thing that I want to tell is about what I feel when I am going through a stack of books at the book seller. I have got used to the shops that I visit frequently so that I know where to look what I want. In exhibition it is  many times much more messier, as the organizers themselves don’t know what the stock of books is. Also when I scan a set of books I look for certain features that I cannot describe, maybe it is like the irrational Logic of Scientific Discovery which Karl Popper proposes. But here again I can find books which others cannot spot.
When I came to Bombay, I became a regular at the Fort and Matunga areas. It has been quite some months since I have visited Matunga, but fort I do frequent a lot.
Each time I go I have another subject or theme  which is added in the books that I look for. The broader subjects include
Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, Electronics, Chemistry, History, Philosophy, Art, Education, Science fiction, psychology and so on…
Also with the ebooks, this collection has been taken to altogether another dimension, now I have about 7000 e-books [and counting]. In this case maybe the bibliomaniac definition is true for me.
Try these and I hope that you won’t be disappointed
ALL CREDITS TO THE ORIGINAL UPLOADERS!!
Space [both mental and physical] really becomes a problem when you have such more books to handle than you can. Anyways it has been and I guess will be a problem for me throughout my life. But I am happy that I have this problem.
Till then wish me another book…

Old Ex Libris for me!

# Vasai and Arnala

The Aim: To Do Vasai [Bassien] and Arnala Forts in one single trip.

The day finally came when the planned trip to Vasai fort had been finalised. This fort was long overdue. Maybe from last 4-5 years. Finally the party was decided. Finally the party was Mr. Jagdale and me. Sumit descended from Pune the night before and the rendezvous point was first decided at Dadar, but then changed to Bandra.

I woke up at 5:15 and woke up Sumit at 5:30 am. The scheduled meet was at 6:30 at Bandra Station. At about 5:50 I left HBC, since I had to get a ticket first, I had to miss two trains, and when I had the ticket, there was no train for next 15 minutes. Anyways reached Bandra at 6:45 via Vadala Road. Sumit wasn’t still there yet. So had to let go three more trains. When the last one was missed I guess we were the only two guys left on the platform. Anyways the next one was at 7:05 Virar fast. So we hopped up on that.

When the salt plains of Bhayendar could be seen we went to the gate. Early in the morning the coolness that you feel is really good. I wish the weather in Mumbai was the same throughout the day.

When we crossed the Bassien or Vasai creek a sense of freedom from the city of came. Anyways got down at Vasai Road at about 8:15. Then we checked into an Udipi hotel, had breakfast of the South Indian type.

We took an auto to Vasai Fort for Rs. 50 which we realised later was a larger payment than required. The drive through Vasai village gives you a feel of the country side. Along the road there was a market in which the locally produced [I guess] veggies were being sold. I had a desire to go and buy some, but considering the long day in front of us, decided against it. At the bus depot we took a left turn towards the fort. The fort became visible as we passed the Vasai police station. A part of the outer wall has been torn down to make the road, from where we currently enter the fort.

The fort has 10 bastions and is totally European in its architecture. The bastions are shaped like arrowheads, as opposed to rounded ones in India. The fort is strategically located to the North of Bassien creek. To the west there is marsh land. To east at present is the Vasai koliwada, to the south is the sea. To the north is the current city of Vasai . Out of the 10 bastions 9 were supposedly named as Cavallerio, Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, Reis Magos Santiago, Sam Gonçalo, Madre de Deos, and Sam Sebastião, Sam Sebastião.

Below is a sketch map of the Vasai fort, drawn from the Wikimapia images.

Compare this with the old Portuguese maps, which I found here.

A brief history of fort is available at Wikipedia entry on the same. Also I found this site very informative with some original images of the fort. The Fort was won by Marathas under Chimaji Appa in 1739, with much casualties, before that it was the Portuguese capital of North Konkan. When in its full glory the Vasai fort must have been wonderful. Even the ruins of the fort are magnificent. You get a feeling of being transformed into their era when you are in them.

The auto took us to the fort jetty by a straight road which goes through the fort. The jetty is at the southern end of the fort. From the jetty there is a gate to enter the fort. This is one of the original entrances to the fort, and was known as Porta do Mor. The other gate is on the land side of the fort and appropriately called Porta da Terra [This one we could not see, as we did not know that it existed, when we went to the fort]. There are two baobab trees at the entrance. The baobab trees are native of Africa, were supposedly introduced by the Portuguese in the area. Actually Sunjoy Monga’s book Mumbai Nature Guide lists Vasai fort as one of the sites which harbors the baobab trees in the vicinity of Mumbai, about 6 specimens are listed, out of which we could see 5. We missed a really large one which is at the right to the sea side entrance of the fort. The species that we have here is Adansonia digitata [known as गोरख चिंच [gorakh chinch] locally]. For interesting information see www.baobab.com

One interesting thing to note is that there still is a full wooden door, with all its ornamentation. I doubt it is the original one but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. As you enter the fort from this side there is a small temple on the left hand side, which was established by Chimaji Appa, when the fort was won.

The inner gate also has its wooden door intact.

We went up the stairs that are behind the small temple, which is one of the ten bastions of the fort [Though at that time we did not know that is was a bastion]. There were trees growing on the bastion floor!

The windows of the bastion overlook the Bassien creek and give a nice view of the mangroves below and the fishing ships beyond.

Sumit in one of the windows.

On the bastion a vine with yellow flowers was in full bloom. Ritesh the best taxonomer I know was not able to identify it [Id anybody?]. The plant was identified by Samir as Yellow Trumpet Creeper Macfadyena unguis-cati, also called Cat’s Claw. See the comment.
Then we went on to a cathedral. Deja-vu!! Simply because this location has been used in a lot of movies and also videos. Anyways the ceiling of one part of the cathedral is still intact. Though it has lost its lustre it must have been really magnificent.

This was our first major halt in the fort. The cathedral also has spiral staircase, which is very unique in construction. The steps and the axis are carved out in a single stone. See the picture and you will probably understand. Here again the bane of Indian archaeological sites viz. graffiti is abound. Some people are trying to make themselves known to the world at the cost of damaging and ruining our cultural heritage. Yuck!! I don’t know with what mentality people do this, are they trying to claim the place for themselves? Shame on them.

The tower below I guess is the highest point in what remains in the fort. There were parakeets on the overgrown trees on the top. Mr. Jagdale was full of adrenaline and he went along the walls to the otherside of the tower structure where this wonderful ceiling is present. He told that the ceiling part has been reinforced with concrete.

Here a lot of birds were seen, but could not ID[anyway I am not good at it] or take a shot at them. One bird of prey was in the sky above but did not get a good shot at it. [It is at moments like this I miss the telephoto lens 😦 which I do not have].
We walked through dense cover of trees through a path, which took us to the citadel of the fort. The most prominent trees are mango [which was in full bloom], tamarind and dates.
The citadel of the fort has an entrance which is small but very beautiful. There must have been a statue on the door; an empty space is a reminder of that. This is the initial fort of St. Sebastian which was extended into the larger fort.
The Portuguese coat-of-arms on the gate.

Here you can see two non-pillars; see the photo and you will understand.
There were fisher folks in the fort trying to process their webs with some sort of dye. Inside the citadel there is a small pond, which had some herons in it. We went along the wall to the end of it near a bastion. This bastion is circular though. When we went out of the citadel, we came up to the senate house of the fort. Next to the senate house is the lake which is almost at the center of the fort. Along side the lake are two temples, one of Vajreshwari and Nageshwar.
From here we took a right turn, where there were more ruins.

A stone plate with something in roman script [Can anyone translate this?].

From here we went inside towards the unknown, there were people sitting we asked them about more places to visit. They said that one of the old churches has been restored recently and that we should see it. They were the guardians of the mangoes of the fort. We went by the way told by the guardians and landed up at another place, which Wikimapia says is the Old Convent of St. Anthony.

Now this was an awesome place.

Arches are numerous as can be seen from the photos below.

One of the features of this place is the fact that the floor here has many graves. Some of them have coat of arms inscribed on them and some have names and the year of the burial all in roman script.

From the inside of the convent.

Then after this we went to the restored Augustinian Convent. Most of the restoration is of concrete :(.
Some initials which I would like to decipher. The date inscribed is 1626.

But the ceiling is all wood, and I guess has been done as it actually was.

From here on we hit back to the citadel where we came from. After passing the Nageshwar temple we came to the ruins of the Dominican convent. This is another place undergoing restoration. Lots of re-construction going on. This was also a hospital.

Is not the statue missing?
The coat of arms here too…

There was I guess a bell tower also here. From there we get to the main straight road which goes to the fort jetty. And across the road is the statue of the Chimaji Appa who captured the fort in 1739 from the Portuguese.

When the fort did not yield quickly Chimaji Appa said:

किल््ला हाती येत नाही, तर निदान माझे मस््तक तरी तोफेने उडवुन ते किल््लयात जाऊन पडेल असे करा.
Meaning: fort is not yet conquered, then put my head on the canon and at least make sure it lands inside the fort.
The geography of the Vasai fort is such that it allows attack option from the North only. On two sides the sea shore is there. And there are marsh lands on the other sides so blasting the walls with mines was not easy. But ultimately mines were laid and the Marathas got the entry through the Sebastian Bastion. Heavy casualties were inflicted on the Maratha side, about 12,000 as compared to about 800 on the Portuguese side. The Portuguese lost most of their generals and officers and the surrender was done by a Captain. The victory was described by Chimaji Appa thus:
या मागे युद््धे बहुत प््रापत झाली, परंतु मराठी फौजेस यासारखे युद््ध पडले नाही. सीमासीमाच केली. त््याचा िवस््तार िलहता विस््तार आहे. या जागा फत््ते होणे देवाची दया आहे.
Meaning [As I have understood, If you have understood it differently please let me know]: Before this Marathas have won many battles, but none like this one. This cannot be captured in words and this victory is beyond description. Conquest of this place is a grace of God.
The survivors were given a safe passage out of the fort and 8 days to take away movable properties. The fort and the buildings were ransacked and the bells in the churches were taken as mementos of victory. Two of the bells were installed at temples in Nashik and Sudhagad. You can see the pictures of the two here.
We went to the Sebastian bastion which lies to the backside of the Chimaji Appa statue. There again a magnificent baobab specimen is present.
The Sebastian bastion, from where Marathas gained entry.

The view of the bastions from the ground level, as they would have appeared to the attackers.

There is a small entrance here, which leads you out in the marshlands ahead. I took some shots of the bastions as they are seen from the ground level.
This was the end of our journey, we took an auto back to Vasai road station.
But this is one place I would surely like to visit in the Monsoons.
Now the journey continues to the next destination the Island fort of Arnala, but that will be another blog…

# Why is this world so?

Why is the world the way it is? This question has been raised by most of the philosophers from time immemorial.
But I am not concerned with the worldly affairs on the largest scale. When I talk about this subject I am more concerned about the problems at hand, about the world which I experience, not the complete world which is out there.’

What I want to know is that whether I had any influence on the kind of world that I am in right now. Was it the destiny that brought me here? Or is it that some decisions that I made [consciously or not] which have landed me in the world that I am in now.

As Neo says to Morpheus that he is not comfortable with the idea that he is not in control of his own life scares him. But that is the precise thing that I want to ask. Are we ever in control of our life or it is predetermined, whatever decisions that you take.

I know that this position cannot be falsified that is it cannot be tested, because whatever you do, it will claim that it was predetermined. It takes care of everything. Even our arguing about this way of thinking will be predetermined according to this world view.

So how do we come out of this. One way is to reject this position completely stating that nothing is pre-determined, we are what we do, or “we are what we eat.”

# The Problem of Raj

Now that the dust is settling over the issue of north indians’ in Mumbai, the central character in this issue Raj Thackrey has become known to more people that he was before.
The point I want to emphasize is that all of the media channels whether in print, electronic or otherwise have at most presented the half side of the story.

Most of them begin from the provocative statements’ made by Raj, without mentioning the background with which they were made in. I am in no way supporting anybody, but then presenting a dialog as a monologue is is cheating on the people. What happened was unfortunate, but the way media portrays it is so bad, that as if the entire law and order situation in Mumbai has go bad. But this was not the case I was out on all the days in which the incidents took place, apart from the areas mentioned life was as usual in the other areas.

But the replaying of a 1 minute film of 1 incident 100 times does not mean that 100 incidents happened. This is what most of the people don’t understand, when a video clip is shown repeatedly they this is happening continuously, just enhancing the worries and tensions. Is this what media wants? To take the public in a rage; if the incidents were reported in a proper manner the mania around them, and characterization of Raj as a monster would not have happened. Media is behaving as irresponsibly as it can in this case. And the kind of intellectualism’ that is being done is doing no good to the problem itself.

Let us take a look at the problem itself, which has caused this trouble. People from the undeveloped’ parts of India come to Mumbai and other metros in search for the livelihood. This is most clearly seen in case of Mumbai, which also happens to be the financial hub of the country. So it is natural’ for people to come here in large numbers. But why is this so? Since people in home states do not have enough employment opportunities they come here. So who is at fault here? Are the people in Mumbai at fault for the non-development of regions elsewhere? So my question is who is at fault?

Comments made by Raj has made a lot of people in lot of sections uncomfortable. Why is this so? His comments have exposed a lot things, about the other’ states. If people call these events as failure of constitution in Mumbai, then what about other states. Going along these lines it seems that the constitutional machinery has failed people of these regions time and again, by not being able to provide them with ample and decent oppurtunities for employment. Thus the very politicians who are slamming Raj left and right are the real problem makers. If they being in power for so long like Lalu Yadav and Mulayam Singh could not do anything about their own state [like they wanted to ] what moral right do they have to call the situation in Mumbai a constitutional failure?

People who know this are the ones who are most uncomfortable…

# Kala Ghoda …

Yesterday in the evening went to Kala Ghoda – The art festival – in the art district of Mumbai..

Did not have much cash to buy any thing….

But any way went there…

The atmosphere was charged, people all around dressed in the trends of the season…
All the cream of Mumbai had descended on here…

There were some drawing portraits of others, some art forms so weird that you cannot make sense out of it…

What is the reality in life? You don’t know, I wonder who does. But the fact remains that nobody dies virgin, everyone gets fucked up in their lives. Be it a saint or a sinner everyone is fucked up. But most of the people who are content with their lives do not even realize this, they think they are above this rule, in reality they are ones who are the most screwed.

So be it, what I find problematic and recently I have found the sort of perfect word for this is pseudogiri, people are living a pseudo life, they are sticking to ideals which are in no way real or have anything close to reality. When we want to discuss things about a particular practice the fundamentals are never questioned, they remain the untouchables. They cannot be thought of questioned about, they cannot be argued against. They are there, so they are and yo have to live with them…

# Are you alive and kicking?

The message read “Hope ur alive and kicking. Havent been seeing u around. Tc”

What is this supposed to mean? I don’t know. I think I will ask the sender of the this message what it is supposed to mean? But whom is the message for? If it is for him, it is too late. For he died a few days back; somebody killed him in cold blood. Why the Tc [I hope it means take care…] for, when there are other mental retards to take care of [apologies to the real retards]?

Anyways I am sick of this…

Trying to be responsible to people who are not for you… Who only want so part of you which is beneficial for them… They do not accept the package deal, so I have decided to do the same… But I got a bit more far…. I reject the deal completely….

This will save me from a lot of trouble, though it may cause some trouble to others…

But why should be I bothered? Why do I have to take responsibility where I have none?

Maybe people should learn…

Maybe I should learn; not to trust them at all …

# Bonding with Things?

What do mean when somebody says they don’t understand? Everybody understands. What people fail to understand is the other’. By the other’ I mean thinking about thinking i.e. meta thinking. We fail to understand what the other people are trying to tell from their’ perspective. Whatever we see or hear the perspective is always ours. This is a sort of filter that is very difficult to let go. Most of us don’t even realize this, because we are not able to think beyond this, without this. For most of us there is no other way in which we can know about things, think about people and objects…

Many people are not happy with me being bonded to the tools of technology. They ask how can you have feelings for a dead and inanimate object like your bike or computer or books? Instead of loving living things how can you love things which cannot return your feelings or appreciation?

But my experience has been different, maybe this is my bias for things which I like. But then everybody of us has some or the other bias, only difference is mine is not what the majority has…

I am like that…

I cannot do without loving things which I use, unlike people who just use’ them but don’t love’ them. Maybe these people do this for humans also they just use’ them but not love’ them….

And it is these people who call me techo-freak…

What I think is these people are inherently incapable of loving anybody let alone anything…

So when they see me caring about inanimate’ things they become uncomfortable at this thought or loving things of caring about them because it is totally alien to them, to their thought process… And this is what they even don’t realize, they are judging their inability to care or love about people with my bonding with things…

# What it is to be normal…

What does it mean to be normal? Normalcy as seen sociologically reflects the idea that majority of public have about things. But we have to keep in mind that the things that are considered normal now, once might be considered abnormal and vice versa.

So what we have here is evolution of some idea with time. These ideas are defined by the people and the contemporary society. But how do these ideas take shape? Is it really the decision of the majority? Or it is decision of some people in the society who really matter? When these people make a judgment the rest follow…

This seems plausible. With the given social structure we have ensured that more people have to think about two square meals than reflect about life and other things. So really only a very few people in any given society at any given time think. And it is these people who decide what is normal… They are the ones who formulate guidelines for being normal or abnormal…

And the rest of public will tend to follow them without reflecting about things themselves. This is true for all the social institutions that have existed for some time. Nobody questions the ideology, they only follow.

For example let us take an issue. It is not supposed to be good to be adulterous. Why? Who decides that adultery is not good? Many societies have the strongest punishment for the crime of adultery. But why it is considered a crime at all? By whose definition adultery is crime? Since our ancestors believed that it was a crime we also tend to think so. But has anybody tried to see the justification for this other than given by the ancestors. They just know it is not good. But why if somebody asks them, then what is the answer that they give? That its just not good thats all.

# Politics…

Recently I hear from Ruchi that there is an unrest in Govandi…
They say some Buddhist monk is found hanging dead and so the unrest. These people they can’t get over it…

And the other lot knows how to use it…
Its all politics…
They say mi marlya sarke karto, tu laglya sarkhe kar’ and the game goes on, in the end no one wins…
These games are not meant for winning they are just there for waging, only in the dragging of such games without any end results will there be any profit for those who initiate such games. And the people who suffer are common people like you and us.

I really don’t know how to get out or over this, but this particular problem is there, and I guess it going to stay in India for some time to come…

# One Night At Bade Mian..

Was feeling too lonely today….
Slept at about 5 am after watching some movies…
Had to get up early for booking the tickets, thanks to Ritesh’s new titanium credit card it was done through office I did not have to goto bank or the station…
The rest was shitty…
I did not feel like doing anything, was too lethargic to do anything….

Created a very good corn veggie delight but was screwed up by basil…
Notes to the self: Don’t add basil just for the sake of it…

Then slept through the afternoon till evening …
In the evening thought of going to Bade Mian’s…

So took the 21 number bus to Regal from there abhijit had given me directions which took me right there. The place is really a stall, which has expanded into a huge one…
They also have a pure veg’ section; they have taken an exhibition stall across the street and are using it as a makeshift place to serve. The business is booming…

When went there alone I had to share a table with two other guys, when the waiter presented the menu card [his number was 24] the card does not have prices mentioned on it [isn’t it strange? to have a menu card without the prices ] Even then Bade Mian serves a select dishes, mostly kabab’s etc.

NO RICE ITEMS !! 😦

Would have liked to taste biryani at a place like this…

Aroma of the food could be smelled from the point where you see the Bade Mian’s stall…
Forgot to take the camera other wise would have posted a photo here too…
Most of the crowd looks affluent….

Any ways I did not have large amounts of cash, so I order sheekh kabab and kheema fry with two rotis….

The service is very fast, the order comes in 3-4 minutes flat; even with so much rush !! I hope other hotels could follow the same…

I am also fast… Was quite hungry finish off the plate quickly before the two guys who were eating with me…

The bill comes to about Rs. 156 reasonable for the quality of food. Though I would like the quality to be increased of kheema…

Anyways ciao …

# Why?

What was the need of putting me all through these? Why can’t be people straight about their feelings about me? If I am f no concern to them they should tell so … directly. Why crib about it, then make you feel Oh I am so concerned about you…’ all bull shit. Nobody cares, everybody wants their piece of meat and wants to get away… Go away and don’t ever come back in my life…

Most of us including me are living a pseudo life…. We don’t want to see the other’ side ever… The other’ is not acceptable, hence we twist and turn the reality to such dimensions that it is diametrically opposite to what people other than you are thinking about.

This is a classic Rashomon effect, what ever action you do, good or bad, people tend to put labels on you… And these labels have to have a reason, which these people will only come up with. This is irrespective of whether you originally intended to have that reason or not…

But then as Solaris puts it There are No Answers, Only Choices,’ and this is what people make. They make choices, only choices which can have only superficial reasons. The reasons that seem to be convincing at one point of time, might see m absurd at another. Or even might seem absurd to someone other at the same moment of time. This choice is what determines the future of your outcomes… But to decide what choice is to be made, what are the reasons that one can give?

I really want to