Thursday, 19 December 2013

Falling in love with Buddhism...(Part I)

I shouldn’t even be writing this as it goes against the ideals of Buddhism to be attached to labels, nevertheless I decide to put my thoughts into writing. There is something wrong with our conceptual way of looking at things, I had dealt with this long enough to realise that this approach to life leads to a lot of confusion. I went in search of the idealistic set of rules that would tell me how to behave appropriately in every situation, I even thought about how somebody else would handle the situation. Someone saner, wiser and more in control. I looked up to a lot of people and observed their reactions and tried to impersonate them when I had to deal with a similar kind of problem, Of course none of that really worked because there was no clarity. The situation was not the same, the people involved were not the same kind and above all how can I think for others constantly??

Then I ran into Zen Buddhism and I realised where I was stuck..Sure it didn’t happen overnight but the realisation slowly crept in. ‘Do not put anybody above your own head’.’No body can and nobody might save you’.’ Be a lamp unto yourself’  I can cite numerous other lines, the thing is Buddhism believes in the infinite wisdom present in each of us, If only we care to look instead of getting carried away with what the world tells us.

Compassion for the self, for others around us, these are not taught to us . One might as well argue that these cannot be taught but it wasn't even introduced to us so that we could practice with it. We are just told to be good to others and be helpful,but why should one do it?What about the self? Are we supposed to constantly punish ourselves and ‘ act’ noble for the sake of others? I didn't find answers to these nagging questions. May be one feels good at people’s validation of their service and benefaction but these won’t sustain us for long and we eventually get tired of seeking it. Or as a Buddhist might say we find it empty. And the other plausible reason is that we accumulate Karma points based on what we do so it’s best that we do good and avoid evil at all costs. That should give enough motivation to keep people away from wrong doing but it certainly doesn't work. If People really believed in the law of karma there wouldn't be so much suffering caused.( Buddhism might say beliefs don’t really help.) May be there is a way to get around this bad karma that we have accumulated and certain religions promise to do away with your karma if we decide to surrender yourself . All we need to do is repent (ie feel extremely guilty) for our misdeeds and God would save us. What I have realised is that there is a deeper meaning to this. This isn't as simple as feeling guilty and then getting over it and committing the same mistake over and over again with the hope of God saving us. Of course things can be interpreted in many ways so its up to us to decide what works and what doesn't. 

What did work for me was that if we look at ourselves with compassion and gentleness we see how we love our drama and how we keep it going. It isn’t easy to look at this dispassionately it is very scary and confusing at times to watch ourselves do stuff that we know we shouldn't be doing yet we continue to do.  Now It doesn't help to condemn our actions ,We only get frustrated and desperate when we don’t live up to the ideals we have set for ourselves. I haven’t been practising for long but what I do know is that there is another way. It is to be patient with all that we do,( the good,the bad and the ugly) that naturally reflects in our ability to tolerate others around us. Being kind to oneself has a whole new meaning .We see our own insecurities and fears, learn not to judge them and so with everybody else. We let people be who they are without criticising or attacking them not because we are saints but because we see the same stuff in ourselves every day.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Life at the beauty and beast campus

Sometime early this year, I received a selection letter from the Indian Academy of Sciences to which I had applied last year for Summer Research Fellowship. Though I was excited about the selection, I got nervous as soon as I understood that I will be working on a monstrous topic in Physics at a rigorous Theoritical Physics institute in India. The letter in bold letters said that I will be guided by Dr.Sudhakar Panda, a String Theorist at Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad. That is a subject about which I know nothing except for a bit of its History and I had to make up my mind for this little challenge.

Loads of anticipation and planning went on for the next few months. I tried reading the basics of String Theory and Gravity but ended in vain. It was finally the day for the dance. I was accompanied by mom and uncle to Allahabad. Things started getting on my nerves and I couldnt enjoy anything on the way to the campus including the majestic Ganges. The very first sight of the campus panicked me further. Guards with large guns and stern faces dotted the entrance and the eeriely calm realm started ceasing out the life in me. The next minute, we were in the reception area of the Guest House and a pot bellied man approached us with a key.From his unfriendly grin, I could decipher that we had disturbed him from his sound sleep. He led us into a large furnished room that looked super comfortable. After a little nap, we got ready to meet the professor.

I was walking slowly towards the professor's room along with my dear moral supports. I opened the door and saw an old man sitting behind a humongous sized Apple PC and that was my professor. His serene smile and soft words washed away all the panic in me. After discussing the agenda for the next two months, he gave me a 220 page course notes on General Theory of Relativity that forms part of my project on Cosmology . One look at the tensorial equations again put me back into peril. Mom and uncle left back the same day and I was now staying with two other Summer Fellows in a flat. The whole night was spent thinking how I would go about this project.

The first thing I did was to make a count down chart and score off a day as soon as I wake up every morning. Though things looked hectic, I got accustomed to the place very soon. Thanks to my professor, who kept my enthusiam always high. Every Physics discussion would end with some story of great value. I listened to him with awe at all that he said and those words still keep me going. One story that haunts me almost everyday is his encounter with Feynmann.

The serene campus had a rich bird life- Peacocks, pelicans, sparrows, storks and a lot more decorated the campus with their bright plumage. There was not a day when I didn't laze around the campus with my camera. While bird life embellished the campus at broad day light, it was the jackals' turn at night. Time started whooshing past since then. I was amused at people's interests- someone liked eating frogs but not chicken or mutton, someone wanted to do screenplay after getting Ph.D in Physics, someone is a pen enthusiast who doesnt mind spending the whole salary on buying pens and the list goes on. Every week,the project presented new challenges and every week end presented more fun.

Shooting pictures at 'No to Photography' zone at Anand Bhavan, devouring Blue Lagoon ice lollies and momos at a nearby mall, visit to Triveni Sangam, watching the Ganges gleefully from the terrace, naps at the library lounge, late night chats, torrential rain falls and the horrendous thunders made my stay beautiful and a bit adventurous. I used to wake up at 4 in the morning to hear those chirps and watch the sun rise majestically and I spentsome time with just myself under the starry skies at night.

My time at HRI was coming to an end. It appeared as if the end came quicker than expected. The project was done and my mom and uncle were back to pick me up. My guide wished me good luck with another interesting story from his life. As I was ravelling back home, I could do nothing but recollect all those beautiful moments at HRI and I wish I go back to that place sometime.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Day Dream ? Its Awesome

If dreaming is a piece of art, day dreaming is a masterpiece. For sometime now, I have been slipping into the this magical domain of day dreaming quite often. Its a land of beauty and awe and I own a little land there. It was while sitting in Statistical Mechanics class that I built a cosy home in it. I set my home in a LOTR locale and this adds a touch of fantasy to it. I am lazing through the narrow cobblestoned paths with a red muffler around my neck.I walk through the woods and beautiful gardens. The mountains are shrouded in mist and a  beautiful number is being played on the background. There is a mild breeze and its pretty cold here. The night sky descends with a lovely boquet of stars and embraces me. I cover my head with the muffler and rub my hands to keep myself warm. I sit on a wooden bench, close my eyes and get absorbed in the loneliness. Slowly, thoughts flash in one by one and reminds me of everything that I love in my life- the people, the crazy fantasies and the little goals. While this progresses, thoughts about the people whom I miss peeps in- the time spent with them, the happy moments that were shared and so on. I realise the value of love and care. I slowly slip out of my LOTR land. I felt refreshed and rejuvenated after my dream. It gave a chance to connect with myself. Will surely visit this land sometime again for this place loves me too.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Just another day...

Same quaint quantum mechanics on a Friday afternoon, I was intently trying to concentrate on the ket vectors when my friend who had been fidgeting around for sometime suggested that we go to the beach after the class gets over. I instantly agreed. It was decided that we would go the besant nagar beach instead of the Marina. Well beach is beach, who cares! All I wanted was to gorge on some sizzling hot cauliflower pakodas and potato bajjis with the sound of waves crashing in the background .

All set we were ready to leave by 3.It was still early but the weather wasn't too hot, however there was a problem, the thought of travelling from besant nagar back to anna nagar in the rush hours made me sigh, suddenly I was not sure if I wanted to go .It was just three of us, I didnt want to upset their plans, so we boarded the bus to besant nagar with a reluctant me already feeling tired.We got down at the stop and a immediately a sweet stall caught our attention and that was the just the beginning of our onslaught. we had limited resources, we wanted to save the money so had to settle for vegetable puffs.It was hot and crispy. After  finishing our quick snack, we walked along the road, and took a left turn and  the beach came into full view.

There is something about the large water body, that instantly calms you down maybe it is the feeling of  insignificance of our own little troubled lives. Anyway my friends aren't the philosophical type. Any such deep musing would bring about reactions that you can see when one is asked to obtain the frobenius solution for the hermite differential equations. So I kept it to myself, while letting the gentle waves wash over my feet.

There were very few people, the evening crowd was yet to arrive so we thought we had the beach to ourselves and of course as it always happens with us , we found some ridiculous company!! Three men, supposedly professors from a university wanted to know what the heck we were doing in the beach, how many siblings each of us had, where we lived, what we had for lunch!! For God's sake!! I Wished I could shout in their face to mind their own business! After tirelessly answering their questions, we were  hungry again. The shops had opened, we went to a stall selling Bajjis. The bajjis and pakodas were too good to describe or may be the setting was so perfect that it felt divine. We promised ourselves that we  would do this often.  

we had very little money to begin with and I had spent my money on a soothsayer who said I could have up to five kids if i wanted to. My friends weren't too happy with this, I could have used the money for buying Ice cream and soda!! But then I  felt sorry for the lady and decided to give her a chance to predict my future. Now all our money was gone. Left with no choice we crossed the road to reach the nearest ATM. Thanks to my friend who always has the presence of mind to carry her debit card wherever she goes. 
Now we had enough money to get all we wanted,! We decided we would  try the Fish!  There were too many varieties  to choose from, not being sure how they would taste, We opted for a smaller one. It wasn't as good as we expected it to be, nevertheless we finished it.
After the spicy fish we had to eat something sweet, there was an old man selling soan papdi. we meandered along the shore ,stuffing ourselves with the delicious white wispy dessert.

It was starting to get late and I had to travel 20 kms to get back home.If You think we are done, You couldn't be more wrong.  We still hadn't had the ice creams. we went to a vendor selling kwality walls ice creams, bought three chocobars. We sat on the bench and ate it in silence,the ice cream was melting fast we couldn't lose time talking!
We walked back to the bus stop and stopping on the way at the famous besant nagar church to pray.  The fatigue had gone, we were in high spirits.It was time to board our respective buses. I felt happy and grateful for the great friends I had and for the beautiful times we had together.
Truly a day well spent!! 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

From my Quantum Letter Pad

Dear Schrodinger,
It has been a very long time since I wrote to you. How are you and how is everything going on in your 0 dimensional Flatland ? I guess there is a monstrous clash between the groups led by Einstein and Newton. Why don't you ask them to commute with each other ? This might put a stop to the non linearity and chaos that is penetrating into your orderly world. I am very sorry for your loving pet, the cat. I heard from Heisenberg that it is both dead and alive. I know how well you superposed with the little cat.I am worried about Heisy too. He is still uncertain about his future.Though he has grand ideas to work on, a little failure perturbs and pulls him down exponentially. He is either wasting energy or time. Hey! Guess what ? Met a guy yesterday. OMG, I have never seen someone like him before. People say that he is an absolute zero in everything but I find that dude so cool. His name is Kelvin. When you come home, let us have a day out together and you will love him too. You have promised to tunnel through our infinite dimensional land sometime in the past future. Keep up your promise !! We are all degenerately excited about it.

With great quanta of love,

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Eat at a Roadside Shop Day

I know how stupid it is to search for a Pani Puri shop at about 10 in the night. As I was returning home from French class, my eyes were scanning the streets to spot a roadside eatery to celebrate this unique day with crispy puris with tangy filling. But I could not find and it did irritate me a bit as I had been fasting since evening for devouring the roadside feast.No use worrying about it.Slowly, my dreams of those little puris started fading.

Reaching home, I found a packet lying on the table. What is it?? Ah, A feast has been awaiting ! A packet of noodles from one of the famous roadside hotels.Our neighbour had bought it for me.What a coincidence!! 
Lovely. It is indeed 'Eat a Roadside delicacy at Home Day' for me.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Make your own word day


To go Fridoic!
: To start feeling lethargic on Fridays as the brain slips into hibernation mode.


An imaginary character with a rat's body and cat's head. (A timid version of Sphinx)

Friday, 18 January 2013


BCD to Decimal Converter: It is no more than a stopgap death trap inside Physics Laboratory.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Bondas and Maxwell's equations

Working late in the night to finish my assignment on Maxwell's equation, am thinking of hot yummy bondas..All thanks to this equation. What would the time derivative of a bonda mean? I Wonder what the fourth equation would remind me of.. may be bajjis. Sigh!! have to get back to work..

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Big Screen Bonanza

            For almost fourteen years, I have always put down the idea of watching movies- It has never really appealed. I have made all possible and lame excuses to escape from watching a movie, be it at home or at a theatre. Last week, after much confusion whether to go on a day out , I and my friends finally decided to go for a movie. I was absolutely excited as I have planned to try new things this year and going to a movie was a great start. 

            The movie was Life of Pi, an Indian drama by Ang Lee and it proved to be a visual treat right from the start (though we were five minutes late). It is an adventurous and emotional story of an Indian boy,Pi and a furious tiger, Richard Parker who survive a shipwreck.I loved it to the core and to me, it did hammer home the fact that certain movies can be appealing too. With neat emotions, a mellifluous background score and amazing visual effects, there is no wonder that this film will bag a few Oscars this year. And yes, I have changed my attitude towards movies. It is a sure thing that I am not going to miss anything from the Big Screens from now on.