Monday, May 26, 2008

Virtual Life

26th May 2008, 4:21Am

To put it flatly I am just tired and bored with my sedentary existence over the past few weeks. I wonder whether the way I spend my holidays is anywhere close to how other 21 year old people spend their college holidays (even among the students of CMI). All I seem to be doing these days is to stay confined in 1 big room. (the rented house in Wardha(Maharashtra) where I live is essentially 1 big room with a verandah and 2 bathrooms. What is visible from my verandah is mainly large open and barren grounds and a chain of hills, apart from the large hospital to which my mother is affiliated. I see a small temple high up in the hills and somehow this fascinates me. Wondering when I will climb up to that).

As I have always felt, the only ability that nature gave me was the ability to write and communicate my thoughts. As usual let me use this only weapon I have against the solitude which always shrouds my existence.

These days all I see with me to spend time with are my about hundred Mathematics and Physics books and a computer which doesn't have an internet connection. Of course it would have been great had I the opportunity to spend the day with certain men or women, but they are all geographically separated from me by a few thousand miles or have become so irresponsive that electronic communications are also unable to bridge the mental divide.

So the only other person I have around to talk to is my mother. Hence effectively I am all alone the whole day.

As usual I have my own mind for company. I feel more and more convinced that I have an infinite cauldron of energy and strength in me which nothing can shatter and which will keep me running.

Apart from the daily activities all that I can do is to read and type. My sole companion over these 21 years: books, pen, paper, paint-brushes and colours. I started writing all sorts of things right since I was in my kinder-garten and today I write these blogs and letters (to the 4 or 5 people with whom I find things to share either mathematical or non-academic).

Though I can't remember it my mother says that when I was a kid I had created a script of my own and a different language of mine with its own set of pronunciation rules. She says that I had tried a lot to teach it to her but eventually it became a mode of communication for me in my imaginary world which I used to inhabit then. My mother says that the language was very different from anything she has heard and it sounded completely bizarre and the alphabets I devised were also weird to look at but somehow I used to speak and write in it while talking to myself or to the imaginary people with whom I used to interact when I was a kid. These imaginary people mainly took the form of dolls with which I used to play.

Today at the age of 21 I still feel that I can't make others understand what I want to communicate. I still feel as if I am speaking some language unknown to other people. Especially with a certain lady in my peer group. Despite all my efforts I fail to make her see my point. {Among million other things I am trying to convince her to join the research world and not join IIM and do an MBA} With most people I have given up but not so with this person.

So the repetitive cycle that continues through the day is that I read something for 1-2 hours and then take a break for 20-30 minutes and then again continue reading. Sometimes I would keep some music playing on the computer and sing along the songs which can be any of the 5 languages Hindi, Bengali, English, Marathi and Tamil or some music like that of Yanni or Micheal Jackson or Carribean Drums and sometimes dance. But then what is the point of dancing if it is not with someone?

And this is what I am reading these days to embalm the painful loneliness:

1. During the daytime, apart from the newspaper in the morning, I am mostly reading graduate text books on Algebraic Topology, Phase Transitions and Renormalization Group (Condensed Matter Physics) and Differential Geometry. Sometimes I flip through some books on Commutative Algebra and Algebraic Geometry to get a feel for these subjects. I plan to start reading some advanced texts in General Relativity from the week after the next.

2. During the evening I am reading the Hindi poetry collection "Madhushala" by Harivansh Rai Bachchan and "The Argumentative Indian" by Amartya Sen (Nobel Laureate in Economics from India). The later book has totally captivated me and has made me realize India like never before. Later next week I plan to write about some of the points in that book that were absolutely revealing to me.

These books again bring back to me the point of how I miss people to share what all exciting things I am assimilating from these books and other sources through out the day. What all is fascinating me. And why I check my cell phone from time to time hoping that an sms has come from the lady I mentioned before. (Almost never anything turns up) Anyway my cell-phone has been dead silent for the last 1 year except for the regular calls from my mother about twice a day. Over the last year she has been more or less the only caller on my phone.

During the spell of 20-30 minutes I just lie on my bed and think while staring at the white ceiling above. Sometimes I fall asleep and then again wake up and start reading.

Sometimes I spend this time trying to make some new kind of drink or juice. I have always been interested in making new kinds of drinks using various kinds of fruits and jelies and jams etc. With the whole house being inhabitated by only me for a large fraction of he day, I can peacefully carry out such experiments in the kitchen.

But then again what is the joy of concoting a new tasting drink if I can't serve that to someone? One can atmost email songs and photographs but not drinks.

Sometimes it makes me wonder that there always exists an infinite universe and a billion galaxies and possibly as many black-holes above my head and I am myself rotating on the outer fringe of one such galaxy and so many exotic phenomenons are happening there but I am not being able to experience them. I need to connect to them but what I see above me is this concrete ceiling. As I type this article may be a super-nova is blasting in some corner of the universe or some black-hole is getting formed in some other corner of this infinite space-time and I am missing out on watching them happen live.

I just sit silently and think pondering on the central question that has always occupied me ever since and more so over the recent years: "How to communicate?". If the issue is technical then the question is how to make myself understood by other Mathematicians and Physicists. The topic might be some existing idea that excites me and I want to share it with other people in the field or it might be some of my own independent thought processes which I want to explain to my colleagues in the field of Mathematics and Physics. As I have always believed teaching is the best way of learning. I learn my science by doing a detail thinking of how I would present all these concepts to a class while teaching.

But the more complicated issue is when I want to communicate some non-academic thought.

Here the interpretational heterodoxy and devouring existence of bias among the listener considerably hinders the process of communication. These are some of the problems that do not exist in technical issues. Especially I find it most complex when it comes to communicating with the lady I had mentioned above. Somehow it seems that the world at large is not comfortable with the mathematical way of approaching questions where I would try to ask the most basic/central question first with no attempt to cover it up with distractive decorations. How simple and happy my life would have been had this lady appreciated the power of directly
confronting the central questions.

Over and above that the issue of "How to communicate?" becomes utterly complex when the lady in question decides to submerge herself in deafening silence and closes all routes to the world out-side. From my experience I feel that this tendency to snap communications with the outside world and to submerge oneself in silence is central to all females. What more could be more frustrating to the person who is trying to communicate, than to face silence?

This lady is the same person about whom I wrote the article "Yet another connection snapped". Like an unpredictable comet, to my great joy she decided to return back after an year long excruciatingly painful and deafening silence. But as soon as I tried to show her some natural truths about our lives, her behaviour seems to be shooting out of my sphere of comprehension and intelligence. Just like before. Somehow these long spells of silence (the longest one being of 7 years at a stretch) and communication gap is what characterizes my interactions with this lady over the last 2 decades. But mysteriously all this has only grown my sense of bonding with her.

Yet every time this silence phase begins, I start hoping that some miracle will end the phase and never again will it begin.

Internet connection in Wardha is very rare and expensive. Wardha is a very sub-urban place and almost a village. The only somewhat of a reasonable internet connection that I can avail of is from the cyber cafe that is run inside the hospital where my mother is doing her MD. It comes at a very expensive rate of Rs.13.33 per hour from about 1Pm to 6Pm from Monday to Friday and that too is very unstable. For long stretches in between these 5 hours (for about an hour or so) the net connection might not be there and even when it is there it might be going on and off every 10-15 minutes. Further going and coming from this cafe is not a pleasant thing since it involves a walk of about under the frying afternoon heat that characterizes Wardha summers. Thankfully the walk is only for about 5 minutes.

I find this situation with the internet highly irritating and frustrating given that internet has become an intrinsic part of my life over the last 2 years. Whatever little life I had before coming to CMI has long withered away and whatever non-trivial interactions I have are all through the internet with people whom either I have never met personally or I will probably never meet at last in the next few years and haven't met for the past few years.

But somehow the sense of bonding that I feel with the few people with whom I try to connect through the internet is so strong that I would have taken the troubles had the sun been more blistering hot or the cost of the net connection been higher. I attach much greater value to these one or two academic interactions I have and the lady with whom I am trying to connect. I can only faintly hope that these people on the other side also recognize my sense of attachment and sincerity.

This is the crux of my life. All my interactions are online. There is not a single person among the people whom I get to meet, with whom I have any interactions more than saying hi and bye. Hence apart from the cocoon that the books create for me internet has become the only world I live in. It seems to be the only thing in this world that comes ever any close to fill the vacuum I have felt within myself since childhood of rootless ness and homelessness and the vacuum of people with whom I can share everything.

This reminds me of this cliche which I had read while a kid and today it seems more and more closer to me no matter how crudely the below sentences might seem to be framed:

"A house is built with hands, brick and mortar. A home is built with hearts"


Ravitej said...

1) Regarding the internet : if either your or your mom's phone supports GPRS, then take the unlimited GPRS facility on that if the connection if Airtel. Then you can use this as any internet connection by connecting to the computer. Speeds are not great prob abt 10KBps. For full details ask the nearest Airtel Showroom or call up 121.

2) All this experience seems as if you are a kid of class 6 or something. Except for reading graduate text books, the other self-centric (not egoistic) thinking is what anyone who is alone experiences when they are about 10 years of age. But, one difference is that I really don't care whether someone interacts with me or not :P

Jigar said...

You are being modest when you say this; "Sometimes I flip through some books on Commutative Algebra and Algebraic Geometry to get a feel for these subjects."