When I woke up today, I felt something was not right. Had I been in the right state of mind, I would have seen nothing was right. I was in a room that I had not seen before. However, I did not feel alarmed, strangely it seemed an ordinary day.
I had to go with my Mom somewhere, I do not remember where. We hailed a taxi, wait isn’t this too small for all of us. Now it was not just me and my mother but there were quite a number of ladies with my mother. I do not remember when they joined us. I got in the front with the driver. I argued with my mother how they could all sit. She said there was so much room for all of them. I realised there was no point arguing and turned my head around to the driver. ‘Chalo bhaiyya’, I say to him. I have not told him where to go, even I do not really know where I wish to go. It all seems normal though, it seems a vaguely familiar routine. As I look back to see how the ladies are doing, I see they are all seated comfortably. There is a lot of room, amazing that a car which looks so small from outside is so big on the inside.
It is evening now, I do not remember how I got here from the taxi. I look up at the sky at the birds. A couple of birds catch my eye they are going fast and one is chasing the other. ‘Look they have lights’ I say to the man standing next to me. He is my childhood friend who I am seeing after a long time. ‘What do you expect them to have, they are jet planes.’ I look up again, he is right about them. They are not birds but jet planes and they are not the only ones there. There are a lot of them flying around, some of them are flying too close to the ground. I ask my friend, are they supposed to fly so low. He says, ‘let the fireworks begin.’ At any other point of time, this would have made no sense to me and would have seemed so out of context. However now it made perfect sense. The next time I see him it is rather dark, he has a rocket in his hand, a real one.
The planes are flying as usual and I can hear them drone as they move perilously close to our heads. There are a lot of people there, it is a festive atmosphere. It is just like Diwali but with the addition of those ‘birds’ in the sky. Even this sounds vaguely familiar, normal. My friend shoots his rocket but he shoots it horizontally towards us. It hits my dad, I do not remember if he was there earlier. I am furious at my friend, but my Dad says it is ok. He is actually smiling. Wait, there are so many of them, the clones of my Dad smiling at me, all alike, all wearing the same type of T-shirts different colors though. I enquire what is this to my Dad look-alike who stands closest to me. He says it is ok, they all vanish after some time except one. He does not seem to care which one. I feel odd and go back to sleep, I have had enough for the day.
As I get up the next day, I get up in a familiar setting in my hostel room away from my home and away from the maddening place where I was yesterday. I have to take a bath to refresh myself from that strange dream. As I get in the bathroom, I see no mirrors. However there is some one exactly like me standing there. But then it is no big deal, one of us is anyway going to vanish in some time. And strangely I do not care which one it is.
P.S: I had this vague dream a few days back which I decided to write down as well as I could. I have taken a few liberties in the narration here and there, but it is still based on a ‘true dream’. It seems so strange now however it seemed very real when I woke up from my dream.
It was 8:00 in the morning and the weather was great. It had rained the night before and it was pleasantly cold. One could just stay there and watch water droplets dripping from the houses and the trees. However, he had no time to stand and stare, he was getting late and he had to hurry. As he walked through the door and rushed in, he saw her for the first time. His heart skipped a beat, she looked so beautiful sitting there smiling to herself. She was sitting alone and the seat across her was empty, but he was too shy to sit there, so he went elsewhere. However, he chose a place from where he could see her. He just could not keep his eyes off her but he was too shy to stare so he would steal a few glances now and then. She saw him looking at her, he just looked away and so did she. After a while, she left. He had a fleeting thought of following her but that would be cheap, so he stayed there. ‘Would I see her again, maybe if she comes every day at this time and I get late tomorrow too’ he thought.
He was late the next day too, but this time it was intentional. He hoped he would see her today and he was not disappointed. The seats around her were occupied though. Too bad, he thought, he had planned on sitting near her if he found her. To add to his misery, there was no seat to sit, so he had to stand and stare. Stared would not be an appropriate word here, because he could never look at any girl without feeling a kind of guilt about that and he would lower his eyes if any girl were to look at him. That day, she saw him looking at her, he saw a slight frown on her face. He felt hurt; she did not like him staring at her like that, he felt. He avoided looking at her again, but then could not help himself looking at her as she was leaving. Do you have to leave, he wished to ask. She went away without him getting any chance to talk to her. Later that day, he got his timings changed by his supervisor. His supervisor was surprised at his strange request, a shift in working hours by 15 minutes … no one had ever asked that before and it was strange coming from a habitual latecomer, but he did not deny the request. And so it continued, she came at the same time every day and now he too did. He would make plans on starting some conversation with her but could never gather the courage to even go and sit next to her. He was sure that she had noticed him now, she would not frown now when she saw him looking and he felt he saw her smile a few times but he could not be sure if it was meant for him.
Things were moving like this for a few days before fate decided to intervene and move things a bit. The alarm whose failing to ring was always a ready excuse for getting late actually did what it was many times wrongly accused of doing. As he woke up and he saw the time, he knew he had to rush. Breakfast could happen later, but he had to take a bath. She would not stand a stinking man , he felt especially when she took great care to be so neat and clean. In spite of his best efforts to be quick, something or the other would go wrong. Everything seemed to be out of place, the toothbrush, the towel, the soap …, all of these were cursed fervently along with the vengeful alarm as he got ready to leave. He had to run and he sprinted hard. He did not want to miss seeing her. He was panting when he got in but could not help smiling and he saw her smiling too and when she looked at him he knew that smile was meant for him.
This is a continuation of my old post here. I started that post as a discussion between an alien from an advanced civilization and a human. This post finds them discussing about the importance of dialogue to resolve conflicts.
Human (H): “Do you believe that issues can be resolved through dialogue? I feel that most dialogues end up badly because people are not willing to listen, they just wish to be heard.”
Alien Creature (C): “That is true about almost all discussions that happen between people. Dialogue between people alone can never solve problems, there will be ego clashes.
H: “So are dialogues between conflicting parties futile?”
C: “Most of the time.”
H: “Even in an advanced civilization like yours does a person’s ego dominate his reason.”
C: “No matter how advanced a civilization is, its people will always give more importance to their ego than the other person’s opinion. Ego is a person’s sense of who he is and in an argument if his ego is threatened he will defend it in whatever way he feels best. At times he will go against the general notion of reason too.”
H: “Oh then there seems no way that conflict can be resolved through dialogue.”
C: “No conflicts can be resolved through dialogue but it has to go beyond the arguments between the conflicting parties.”
H: “What else do you require to resolve a conflict?”
C: “The dialogue has to carried into the conflicting parties. In a conflict, if you have to see reason then you need to argue with your own self not with others. There is a process where you argue with yourself, question what is right and what is wrong. Here your ego does not rebel without reason but is actively involved in resolving the conflict through reason.”
H: “But for that to happen, you need to see both sides of the argument. That will not happen unless you put yourself in your opponents place and see things from his perspective.”
C: “Yes, in our culture we do argue among ourselves and defend our arguments very aggressively. However, we spend a larger amount of time in contemplation where we look at the evidence and look at it without any bias and make our conclusions. We have very few conflicts there on my planet.”
H: “But you do have conflicts.”
C: “We have our flaws, perfection is only an illusion.”
H: “Hmm, so what are you arguing about in your mind. I feel that you are distracted by something.”
C: “Human, I have had a pleasant time talking to you. I am feeling hungry now. Though it is painful to tell you this …”
H: “It is alright, I think it is late for me too, I will leave too. Where is your planet? How will you go there?”
C: “Human, I do not think you get my point. I am sorry to say this, but I have been talking to my lunch all this time. It feel sorry for you, but what can I do, I have to feed myself.”
H: “Ha Ha. I know you do not mean to eat me, I thought philosophers had no sense of humour. You do have it, a crooked one though.”
C: “Human, there is no humour in this, I never joke. Sorry again.”
It was too late for him to run now. He could now feel the alien’s tentacles around his body now, it had grasped him wherever it could. He could feel tentacles all over his body. He wanted to break free now and with a very strong effort he pushed the alien away from him.
“What are you doing, you fool, pushing me like that. Stop blabbering and get up, it is 8:50.”
“Oh Thank God, it is you. I thought you were an alien.”
“Alien! Is that a joke of some kind?.”
It was such a relief for him to know that he was alive and not eaten up by an alien, but then the dream felt so real. He used to wonder what would he do if he actually met an alien, he now felt that the best thing to do was to follow Mom’s advice given long back when he was a kid — ‘Never talk to strangers.’
He was not an ambitious person, he was happy with the little he got. He could have got anything he desired since, though he did not know it, he was God. He would sit outside a temple with a begging bowl in hand, the only thing he wanted was to sleep on a full stomach. Since his wish was God’s wish it would always get done. He would bless those who gave him food and his blessings would come true, then the blessed people would come back to the stone gods within the temple to express their gratitude. With God’s grace, scores of wishes were realised and the ‘gratitude’ kept on pouring in cash and kind and the temple and its priests became richer and richer.
The fame of the stone god who supposedly fulfilled all wishes grew far and wide. The true God was happy initially since more people meant more alms but then the crowd brought in more beggars and more competition for him. As he slept one night with the horde of ugly, diseased beggars who he hated very badly, he wished if the temple authorities would simply drive away these beggars. A few days later, God’s will was fulfilled. The temple authorities decided that the beggars were creating a nuisance to the people and decided to drive them away. As he was driven away from the temple which fed him, he looked to the stone god one last time and wished if only there had been no temple which made him dependent on alms, he would have worked and fed himself. He was old now and would get no work, the only wish that he had now was to take a long rest from all his worries.
A few days later, the temple was razed to the ground by the civic authorities since it was found to be illegal, the priests and the devotees could not stop the demolition since it seemed that some powerful authority wished the temple demolished. Little did the priests realise that the powerful authority who wished the demolition done had been driven out by them from his own temple and he was sleeping a peaceful sleep outside the temple gates, never to wake up again.
P.S. The idea of a God who does not know he is God comes from the rain God in “The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy”
I used to read science fiction a lot in my childhood, now I read C++, the concepts here seem closer to science fiction than reality. Take the example of polymorphism. I have cooked up a little fictional story starting with a trace of polymorphism. I hope you will like it.
This is a fictional philosophical discussion between a human and a creature of a more advanced species.
Creature to human: “We are called polymorph people. When you look at us, hear us, feel us and paint a picture of my people in your mind. That mental picture could be very different from what some other species would think of us. We project ourselves to other people the way we want to.”
Human to Creature: “Hmmm, we are not an advanced race of people as you are, but yes we too do this in our own little way. If you were to ask two people of my own race about myself, you might hear two different tales about me.”
C: “True, I have noticed this polymorphic behavior in your people too, but it is not as evolved as it is in us.”
H: “You know what I wonder is when I hear two contradicting tales about me, I at times have to accept both of them to be true. I then wonder about who the real me is, I wonder if I will ever find that out. Do you know who the real you is?”
C: “That is a question which none of our people, in spite of the millions of years of evolution and introspection, have been able to answer.”
H: “I guess the question will remain for eternity.”
C: “We have people amongst ourselves, who your people would call philosophers. They tell us that the day we find out who we are, we end. By end they do not mean death. They believe that the purpose of a person’s life is to find his true self and when he finds it, he has no purpose to live. This purpose is believed to be the driving force behind everything that a person does.”
H: “I believe this is to be true. Some people would think over who they are, while others would hunt for food without bothering about such philosophies. But yes they are all in the quest to find themselves and they do it all their lives knowingly or unknowingly.”
To be continued …
He had to put the question now and he really did not know how to put it. He had a discussion with his friend on this. His friend said, “Just tell her man, give her a flower and tell her. If you are scared, call her up. But I personally would suggest the flower trick. All women fall for that.”
“What bloody experience are you talking of, you almost got thrashed.”
“I know, everybody in college knows. Leave that for now, can you suggest me at least one way to say this. I say you come along with me.”
“What the F, what will I do there and what does everyone know.”
“Nobody knows a thing, it is only me and …, let that go, I have a bigger problem to face tomorrow. I say you come along with me tomorrow, just hide somewhere, in case there is a problem you come and rescue me.”
“It has been an year since you know her, nothing which requires me rescuing you will happen. I suggest you think over what to say and say it. Hey, I have got to go, phone call from home.”
“Chalo Bye, I will have to think over what to say.”
“It is not what you say, but how you say it that matters, it is all about style. I will talk to you later. Naa mamma aapse nahi dost hai …”
He decided to leave his friend there, he never knew when his phone call would end and he had realised by now that his friend would not be of much help in this matter. But yes what his friend said about style did make sense. He wondered what could be his own inimitable style.
When he was in his room, he thought of how it had all started …
It had started with her asking for help for some math problem, he did not have much of a reputation of being a math expert but she was really horrible and needed help for the simplest of things. After he had solved her doubt, she replied, “Oh thanks, I really think I will not be able to get through this subject. You can help me out. We can study jointly if you do not mind?” He could hear his friends taunting him in whispered tones now. This to him was not a request, but an offer, an offer he could not refuse.
And so it all began with joint study sessions. The more he came to know her, the more he felt that this was the girl for him. She was good at everything she did, ofcourse except for solving math problems. Eureka, that was it … math. It had to be math. He had entertained thoughts of impressing her by solving a very difficult mathematical problem, but it did not take him much time to realise that this was not the way a girl falls for a man. But if there was a way, it had to be a mathematical solution to this problem.
When she met him the next day she asked him, “So, how are you doing?”
He replied, “Not so good.”
“Why, what happened.”
“You know, I was reading something about how you need to have a balance between your work, play and your social life.”
“I think I do not have that balance in my life. I am not sure if you understand this.”
“I think you have been reading too much these days.”
“Wait I will explain, get me a pen and a paper.”
So he started drawing figures on the paper as she wondered what he was about to tell.
“So this is it. This is my problem.”
“What? It is a Venn diagram.”
“No, this is my life. this A here is my work life, this B is my personal life and C is my social life.”, he said pointing to each of the three blocks that he had drawn.
“Hmm, are you alright? Have you drunk something?”
And pointing to the intersection of the blocks he said, ” … and this is the intersection which is the problem. It makes me think all the time and hence I can not keep my A and my B and my C separate from each other.”
“Oh, the solution is so simple, you cut that out from the Venn diagram …”
“No, I can not do that, that leaves a void in my life.”
“So what is this intersection … to be more precise who is it?”
Years later …
A kid asked, “Mom why was I named Vennu?”
She replied, “Go, ask your father.”
P.S. This post is inspired from this xkcd comic.
It had all started with that debate, he felt. That was the first time he had heard her speak. He had noticed earlier that she was beautiful, but it was only in the debate that he actually fell for her.
The topic was “Are beautiful girls less intelligent?” … a very sexist topic but that made the debate more interesting. It was a guys v/s girls debate and a guy came up with this brilliant theory of the beauty and brains product being a constant for women, so if a girl was very beautiful, she had to be dumb. It was to this remark that she had replied.
She had said “Yes, you are correct when you say that beauty brains product is a constant for girls, but I extend it to say that it is constant even for guys, but unfortunately for them, it is a negative constant because both beauty and brains in a guy is imaginary.”
It took him a while to comprehend what she had said, but when he did, for some reason he felt he had found some one with a high beauty brains product. He found some excuse to make small talk with her that day, they then along with the other debaters went for coffee. There he found something strange about her, she did not like coffee but took plain milk instead. He was a coffee lover and could not help but ask, “Won’t you take coffee?”
“No, I do not take coffee. I find it bitter.”
“What? You are missing the best non-alcoholic beverage in the world.”
She did not reply to that but went along with her friends to have her cup of hot milk.
The next day he found her again in the cafeteria, actually he was waiting for her to come. His friends had bunked class and he had pretended to leave for home and then he came back to the cafeteria.
As she went to the counter, he went next to her and ordered for coffee and said “Oh hi, so what … plain milk.”
“Yes, I guess I can live without caffeine.”
“I cannot”, he said taking his coffee. ” By the way I liked what you said yesterday, you seem to be an angry feminist out to take revenge against men who …”
She cut him short, “That was just for the debate. Hey, let us sit somewhere and talk. I do not want to stand here.”
And then they talked about coffee then about their lectures and professors and then complained about their college and so things started. He thought they clicked, they spent a lot of time together and were seen together so often that people fund it unusual if they saw any one of them alone.
He felt that this was his first serious relationship. He was on a high which he had never felt before. Things were going rather smoothly till one day they had a serious discussion on what they would do next.
“I am going to give my GRE, I hope I get a good score and go to a good university.”, he said.
“and leave me alone here.”
“Do not worry dear, when I come back I will have loads of money and you would be marrying a rich man.”
“I am serious, have you ever thought of what we will do next, I do not really have any intention of studying, I am doing a job and hopefully find some useful guy and get married to him.”
“So, am I useless. Maybe I am, but I cannot imagine life without you sweetheart.”
“You need to be serious, we are not going anywhere.”
“No, I am and I intend to come back for you.”
“When? How long should I wait? My relatives have started suggesting suitable grooms for me.”
“What, so early? you will just finish college.”
“People marry early in my community, I had told this to you. You should have done something.”
“What can I do? What are you talking? Why are we talking this? We can …”
“You just stay quiet, sit here and yes go have your coffee. I have got to leave.”
“So are you meeting one of the prospective grooms today …”
She left without replying. He knew that she would come back the next day there at the cafeteria, but she didn’t. He called her up but her phone was off. A day later she came to cafeteria, she seemed very serious. He felt she might cry anytime and she did. In between the sobs he heard how her parents had found a suitable boy for her. The boy was settled in a foreign country making loads of money. They would not get a better match for her later. He asked her if she had told them about their relationship and then she said, “Please, you will have to forget me, we have been good friends. I do not think I can wait for you, my parents will not approve and it would be best for you if you concentrate on your studies, since you are interested in pursuing MS, you should do that. You can find a much better girl than me.”
She left him and said it was best for both of them if they avoided each other. Things had happened so fast, he just did not realise how he should react, he had just not thought of this. He felt terribly low, he needed coffee then. But his coffee did not taste as it used to, it had tasted salty that day.
His thoughts were disturbed by a “Your coffee is ready.” It was his wife. As he looked at his wife, while sipping his coffee, he realised her beauty brains product was not very high, but then she made wonderful coffee.
P.S: The comment on beauty*brains = constant (if gender = female) is not mine, but I have heard it from a friend of mine.