Monday, June 18, 2007

Learning to be alone.

Let me do some stock taking of my life. Some aspects of this terrific life that I have been living so far. Most of these will be considered to be trivial or irrelevant by the people of my community whether professional or personal ( Wow! I am surprised that I still have the courage to use this term...I wonder whether I really have one..ah! The ever optimist in me that refuses to perish though there is no dearth of reasons for it do so. ). Let me look at some of the statistics of my existence ( I will refrain from calling it a life! )
Friends : Lets first get this clear. Who is a friend ? I think its high time we get out of the illusion of the cliche "A friend in need is a friend in deed". I have been fortunate enough to have met some people who have helped me in times of need ( mostly in qualitative terms and mostly making no difference that can be officially documented ). But almost none of these people are of the kind with whom I can have a conversation when not in need of them. They are professionals who have executed some of their "duties" for me and I most probably become as irrelevant to them after the hour of need as the buried man becomes to the undertaker. The undertaker had a duty to perform for which he is being paid. Here the payment at times for them might just be emotional. I dont know and neither am I interested to know unless they are interested to have a conversation with me when its not the hour of need.

The World :: " Hey! You idiot anirbit! What the hell do you think of yourself? What great thing have you done for any of these people that they should be interested to talk with you outside the time of purpose? Why should they waste their time when they have nothing to gain from you? Anyway you dont have much to give to them and whatever little you can given can be given by others too. You are no one special! "

Okay. I have no answer to this. I just was perhaps under some wrong impressios that people would want to spend time with me. Okay. Sorry. I was wrong. My fault. I am useless. I accept.
I accept I am naive. I dont object to being called a naive if I still live expecting people to spend time wth me ouside the hour of need. I dont object to being called naive if my fault is that I define a friend to be a person who would "want" to spend time talking with me at any time of the day and with whom I can talk about anything and everything under the sun wthout either fear or restrain and that person will reciprocate.Perhaps the the kind of friendship that I understand can be separated from a true love by only a fine line.The line is perhaps vague and consists of the shades of uniqueness and sexuality.

The World : " We always knew that you are stupid and perfectly imbecile. This above definition of yours confirms it. How do you even expect people to behave this way for you? Why should a person even if wishing to waste his time want to waste it like this with you..you of all people! "
I dont have an answer even to this. I dont know why I expected all that I have been expecting out of life.I have implicitly made some choices and I dont know why I have made them. I even dont remember when I made them.Sine the earliest age of which I have memories , I have implicitly known these within me and have searched for realizations of what exists in my mind. May be my search is futile but then I cant believe anything else to be true. I dont regret if I am called a fanatic for these reasons.

Okay let me see how my staistics stand in this regard at the 4 cities in India where I have inhabited.
Friends at Rourkela ( Orissa ) { Time lived -> 12 years } : None
Friends at Howrah ( West Bengal ) { Time lived -> 6 years } : None.
Friends at Chennai ( Tamil Nadu ) { Time lived -> 2 years } : Negative!
Friends at Wardha ( Maharashtra ) { Time lived -> 2 weeks } : None

{ I wish I could have been a little more optimistic and have said "faintly one" with regard to Rourkela but then its a bit too faint.

The World : " Ha! Ha! So Mr.Anirbit you thought that we would be surprised at the above statistics!? Of course not! Who in this world is either so dumb or so hopeless to have befriended a creature like you and that too given the stupid definition of a "friend" that you have got! "

I have already said earlier that I dont remember making the choices consciously. Perhaps the choices a person amkes comes encoded with his/her genes.I perhaps just dont have the correct sequence of genes necessaary to survive in this world and hence I live most of the time in "my world" that exists perhaps only in my mind. Hence my communications with others go haywire since its so difficult to cut off the expectations out of an interaction that exists in "my world". Perhas this too is an encoded choice in me that I never choose to break out of my world into this so called "real world". I continue to live at the cross-roads.Mathematics and Physics seem to be the only 2 things that can be communicated most efficiently between these 2 worlds.How I wish some thing more could also be ferried across this dark abyss of hopes and expectations that separates them...or better find another person with the same world.

The World : " See..you can keep lamenting and whinning as much as you want. No one cares and no one is bothered. You die or you live..its irrelevant. All that matters is whether you are doing your part of the duty.Till you keep doing your work in this "real world" you will not be heckled. How you do it is not for us to know.Its your responsibility "

I have long stopped expecting The World to know such things.My rights end with just the freedom to write these on a blog and I am well aware that I have to return to "my work" after this.I have l;ong stopped expecting The World to know how I would do "my work". All I know is that I have the gallows and the guillotine wating for me if I dont do "my work".

The World : " Hey! Give us one good reason why we should bother about you if we have nothing to gain from you?"

Okay..let me see what is the statistics of my life outside "my work".Its irrelevant to The World and hence it must be written on such a trivial thing like a blog page and it cant be written on any official document.

1. Movies watched alone :: About 6 in the last 2 months. The first time I did such a thing was about 2 years ago. The movie was "Vertical Limit". { 4 years ago , I remember 2 of my class-mates arranging to go to see it in the hall when it relased in Kolkata. Ofcourse they didnt invite me. Even if they did I wouldnt most probably be allowed to go.} After the horrible experince of watching "Vertical Limit" alone on the computer in a huge apartment (in which I was the only person then), I had pledged not to do such a thing again.
But driven to ultimate levels of frustraton recently , I realized that it is atleast better to watch a movie alone than to never watch a movie in anticipation of finding someone to watch it with.

2. Movies watched with others :: 1 with my mother.Not at all a great experience given the number of interruptions due to all possible reasons.
3. Accompaniment refused for a movie :: Too many to count!
4. Last movie watched in a hall :: About 3 months ago at Chennai INOX with my parents and sister.."Namesake".Before that in December 2006 with my mother.."Corporate"
5. Movies watched in a hall :: atmost 6 in the last 20 years.
6. Movies watched in a hall with people I would love to watch a movie with (other than my mother) :: None in 20 years.
7. Movies watched in the last 4 years :: Atmost 15
8. Meals had with people I would like to befriend but have failed :: Too many!
9. Meals had alone :: Too Many. { Somehow I think having meals alone have helped my scintific thinking!}
10. Hours spent on the internet :: Has been exponentiating over the last 5 years..esp. over the last 1 year.
11. Time spent alone :: Huge { Perhaps this has also helped my technical thinking! }
12. Time spent talking to myself or to the walls :: Has been rapidly exponentiating over the last 2 years.Its tremendusly huge now a days. My mother says that she has heard me talking a lot of "weird" things in my sleep.

But at the end I must document something very truthfully..Its the worst thing that can happen to a person when he/she has no other choice in life but to have meals or watch movies alone.But somehow this seems to be the most consistent thing in my life.Hence I should say that if I counted the number of movies that have really enjoyed in the last say about 10 years. It would be none. Either I was alone watching it or it was a sub-optimal company or a wrong enviroment or a wrong timing.I am still waiting for that perfect movie experience. I have no idea when I am ever going to accomplish this one deeep wish of mine.May be never ,if am to extrapolate my graph.

The World :: " Get this one thing clear in your dumb head..Mr.Mukherjee.One has to make choices in this life.You had made a choice long long ago .. to excel in academics and to enter the research world.Now that you have made this choice , you better be true to this or quit. You cant ask for such orthogonal forms of joys in life , once that you have entered this world. You simply cant keep shouting that you are missing out on these joys in life. You cant expect to have the best of both worlds! Neither can you have the cake and eat it too!Either you learn to live in this research world this way or get out of this and enoy it as the others do.Its completely stupid to be inside it and to wish to get into its thick and yet keep shouting for such transient and trivial joys in life. Either you need to grow up or you need to quit. Its ofcourse not our botherartion to find out what you need."

As usual , I still dont have an answer to this. I dont have an idea of what is right and wrong about the "wishes" that the The World is trying to imply. I am only stating things here and I am completely scared to face the question about whether I am fit or not to be doing research. No one ever took a test of my emotional potencies before letting me take up Physics. I have always been trying to do what I like doing. I am still afraid to face to the question of elligibility that The World is trying to imply. I am ofcourse afraid lest the answer turns out to be converse. Let me enjoy what I am doing till the day comes when answering the question will become inevitable. But somehow I have a gut feeling that such a day is drawing nearer. Till then the thoughts about the "transient and the trivial joys in life" have become quotidian events of my existence (I am scared to call it a life!).Hence let me contnue documenting some more things.

The last rebuke from the The World reminds me that I have an academic life as well. This is atleast a little more of a lie than an existenc but then its heavily endangered.Its on the brink of facing extinction and before all my nightmares come true let me try to get the courage to write a few things in reply to the last lecture frm The World.

1. New concepts of Physics grasped in the last 6 months :: Not much ( more of the application kind of things)
2. New concepts of Physics grasped in the last 4 months :: A little bit.
3. New concepts in Mathematics grasped in the last 6 months :: Enormous..I think its larger than the total of all that has been grasped during the rest of my life.
4. New concepts in Mathematics grasped in the last 4 months :: Developed lots of analysis on my own.Hence a realization of quite a few new concepts in a more personal way.
5. Physics books that I have started reading in the last 6 months :: very few
6. Mathematics books that I have started reading in the last 6 months :: Huge


Let me get some ground realities clear before me ::

1. I need to have algebraic geometry and non-commutative geometry upto its most recent resarch papers on my finger tips in the next 10 years.And practically I know nothing of it till now.I have no idea as to how am going to pick this up.I have a gut feeling that unlike most other topics I might not be able to pick these up on my own from books.

2. By the next 10 years I need to have the mathematical works of the likes of Witten, Atiyah ,Mumford ,Seshadri and Ramanan and Connes on my finger tips.Like above I still dont have an idea as to how I am going to accomplish this and by when will I be able to do tis. I am simply in the dark as to how am going to achieve this.

3. By the next 10 years I must have the physics works of the likes of Ashoke Sen ,Witten , Shiraz ,Atiyah ,Polchinsky on my finger tips. As above here too I still dont have a defnitive time frame infront of me as to how long it will take me to grasp their works and more importantly how I am going to get throgh all this.I am completely in the dark as to how I am going to achieve this.
There is academic loneliness too. The last time I had a serious and dynamic physics discussion with someone was about 5 years ago with Akash Basu. But ofcourse the last serious mathematics discussion with someone isnt more a month ago.Mathematics seems to be the only thing taht is hapenning consistently and regularly in my life.

For all the above perhaps "10 years" is a very optimistic estimate.More frighteningly I should perhaps set the target as "5 years" and that should make all the places where the word "dark" is used .. go "darker".

Aha..one more thing about my "Statistics about friends" that I forgot to document then.My contacts with my acquaintances at Kolkata have also dwindled rapidly.Over the last 1 year the phons have practically stopped ringing and the smses have also stopped coming except when I try to force a contact by sendng an sms from Chennai.Contacts have practically got reduced to at most a 30 minute phone call once a year when I am in Kolkata.Ofcoure I am the one who made the call.

The World :: " Ha! Ha! You should be grateful that atleast they agreed to waste 30 minutes of their life by talking to you. I wonder how you could be so stupid to expect someone to call you up! Anyway when not saying technical things you will repeat everything of what you have to say.Why should anyone want to talk to you? What on earth are you capable of giving to the listener over a conversation!? "

I dont know. never have answers to what the The World has to say.

Ofcourse its not so clear to me or very obvious as to what is the connection between my analysis of friends and movie watching with the analysis of my pursuits in physics and mathematics. But somewhere deep within I see a connection. A connecton which I dont understand very clearly but the connection exists and it affects all my endevours. A connection which permeates all that I do but eludes me when I try to understand it. An implicit search is always underway to find the connecting threads before it gets activated again .. either for better for worse. I dont know.

From tomorrow I will start writing my SOP (Statement Of Purpose) for my international applications to the graduate schools...of which I am almost sure that I wont get through either of them! But then hope is a man/woman's greatest strength and as well as his/her greatest weakness. I know I will be writng a lot of things about what I have studied in physics and mathematics and what I want to do.But then I also know that it wont be as true to my heart or mind as this blog.I have to be true somewhere and somewhere I must accept that there are connections in this life that neither do I understand nor I can forgo.

I just keep searcing.
Hence this blog article. To document some of the true reasons and statements of the purpose of my existence , things that I cant write on my SOP.

Unfortunately this is neither the "Diary of Bridget Jones" nor the "Diary of Anne Frank". So of the 2 most beautiful things on earth , a romantic marriage and death , none is hapenning at the end.

But everything that starts must end someday. Most importantly..till something ends one desn't know how it will end.

4 comments:

arul said...

I have the cure.
Alcohol

Vipul Naik said...

Hi Anirbit,

A rather long comment.

Quoting you:

Okay. I have no answer to this. I just was perhaps under some wrong impressios that people would want to spend time with me. Okay. Sorry. I was wrong. My fault. I am useless. I accept.

And further on:

I define a friend to be a person who would "want" to spend time talking with me at any time of the day and with whom I can talk about anything and everything under the sun wthout either fear or restrain and that person will reciprocate.

I do think you have the wrong impression here. Firstly, if you don't have any friend with whom you can talk unrestrainedly about anything and everything under the sun, then that's nothing unusual about you -- most of us don't. In fact, there are likely to be lots of things that you yourself don't want to talk about, and there may be lots of things that the other person doesn't want to talk about.

In fact, most of the friendships developed over a short period of time are likely to be shallow, superficial and restricted. To reach a degree of friendship where yo ucan genuinely talk about a lot of things requires a great deal of time and patience, and even then, it's unlikely you will be able to (or want to) talk about anything under the sun.

This does not in itself lead to your conclusion: My fault. I am useless. I accept it. I am not arguing the fact that you are useless (I'm sure you have reasons for reaching such a conclusion but the fact that you can't discuss anything under the sun with anybody doesn't qualify as one.

Rest of the comment will follow soon.

Vipul Naik said...

Comment continued:

Regarding movie-watching.

It's strange that you should use the number of movies you have watched with others as a measure of your social success. For instance, I've watched only two movies in theatres in the last three years, one being the Harry Potter release and the other being a movie in Paris. Both of them were with lots of people and none of them were with "a person I'd like to go to a movie with". I've also watched a lot of movies alone, on the machine. Frankly, I don't think what movies you watch or who you watch a movie with is at all an indicator of your friend-circuit.

Regarding old school acquaintances.

Most of us do fall out of touch with old school friends and childhood acquaintances, and though the Internet and mobile phones may delay this death it is rather inevitable in the long run, unles both you and the other party have some particular reasons for retaining the friendship. This is again nothing unusual or specific to you; it's a general phenomenon that you probably will get to see in all the people around you.

(Typically the length of time you are able to retain a friendship also depends (partially) upon its depth, and most childhood/school friendships lack in depth, though there are some that live on).

On the other hand, trying to artificially maintain a friendship that has died down, or trying to force people into demonstrating that they are friends of yours, or making it a point to feel bad or inadequate if people have forgotten you, can only lead you to unhappiness.

It's like going to somebody who's fairly neutral to you and saying "You either love me or hate me", thus forcing that person to reject you (you = generic you).


Anyway, these are my personal views and don't let them get in the way of your enjoyment/depression.

More later.

lubos motl said...

you are an asshole,who have no idea what is like do theoretical physics......... idiots like you please stay away from academia,and do some stupid job.....