Sunday, May 31, 2009

And the next day after being candid.

I wake up the next day and I tell to myself

"Its all useless. Chalo forget it. Lots of work left to do"

I thank for the existence of this subject called Maths and Physics which look like infinitely deep holes to me where I have dived in and more I sink into it more seems to exist down there. And thankfully so!

Otherwise what else other than Representation Theory and Quantum Fields could help forget such things?

Another day. Newer things to learn. Newer roads to walk.

But the destinations never change just that I carve out new untrammeled paths in this wilderness.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The paradox of commerce

The other day I was eating in a shop in the Indian Navy campus and I was impressed by the shopkeeper who was selling jalebis and refused money for his jalebis since they had gone cold and were broken. Some people might say that he was not thinking economically but I think he is only being more efficient by ensuring that because of this attitude I will come back to his shop again when he would have hot jalebis which would taste better and he can then have the full right to charge me the cost.

This is probably the biggest effect years of scientific training has on you is its ability to make you capable of going through various situations in life without emotional involvement. Gives you the ability to observe subtle aspects without being touched by them. Can't say much about Physics but mathematics education definitely gives me this powerful ability.

Of course scientific training if gotten into the blood also has interesting social and personal consequences! Most innocuous of them is probably the sensation of solace and deep happiness when I can cocoon into the cubicles of the academic institutions with connectivity to the web far away from the hustle-bustle of million people outside apparently enjoying their lives. Gives me that detached perspective where I feel far away from the party outside and seem to see grander visions of universal features through the regular struggles of other people's lives.

A state of mind when you start thinking like an AI without emotional edges or ripples of human bonding or binding. A state of mind where the amorphous existence of the human race seems to crystallize into bare essentials. A state of liberation from all local identities of caste,state,religion,language,party and elevation into the state of being an observer and a thinker.

And many people see it as my fundamental inability to feel associated to anything, feel a sense of belongingness to any particular sect. And this misunderstanding leads them to think that I am an hypocrite. What they can't see is my feeling of association with the human identity. This is an identity which makes you humble at the thought that apparently we are the only one around who can think deductively. In many cases I am an unapologetic reductionist.

Its a feeling of being a global citizen minus any sense of local identification.

I don't see why people host huge parties etc on their marriages with rituals going on for days! I see the bare essential to be 2 people signing a legal paper that the Indian constitution wants them to. If the 2 people are mutually compatible then anyway they will live happily and if they are not then no amount of grandeur of parties and rituals will keep them together. If I ever ever decide to marry then she and I will one fine morning go to the marriage registration office and sign the papers. Of course we would have lived together for quite some time before doing this.

Why am I suddenly thinking of these things?

It probably stems from a sense of betrayal I felt from my visit to a restaurant in Mumbai called "Calcutta Club" which specializes in Bengal cuisines (West Bengal is a state in the eastern part of India). When in the company of people not from West Bengal I have always defended Bengal whenever people from other states start poking fun at Bengal along the same old stereotyped issues. I generally have an publicly unacknowledged advantage in such discussions since most of these stereotypical features are missing from me and many people before initial introduction thought I was from the southern states of India! But this restaurant, notwithstanding the fact that the food was good seemed to put up a weirdly hypocritical show about being a representative of Bengal in the middle of Mumbai.

This restaurant had put up posters all around of Amartya Sen, Rabindranath, Soumitro Chattopadhyay, Satyajit Ray, Mother Teresa and what not. The photographs didn't seem to have any apparent reason for being there except for the fact that all of them had something to do with Bengal. The set of photographs on the wall were completely thoughtless to say the least and seemed to be screaming out with a sense of cheap "selling" Bengal to Mumbai.

I wonder whether Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen would approve of his photograph being hung by the tables of a restaurant!

And more deplorably there were customers in the restaurant who seemed to think that this was a great thing to do since this "Brings a sense of being in Bengal" ! I was struck at the lowly levels of thinking to which people can fall to and at the gullibility of the average customer.

I am sure many customers in that restaurant would happily walk out of the resturant full of photographs of Rabindranath and Satyajit Ray and drink like a hog in some nearby bar and return home drunk in a totterring state. Wonder if that also makes them feel like a Bengali!

While I was wondering about these things people around were busy wondering what a long time it has been since they ate proper Bengali food and debating over apparently irrelevant questions like whether item X should be had before Y or vice-versa. I have eaten a hell lot of different kinds of foods in my life and I have learnt to appreciate culinary skills of the human population without a sense of attachment to any particular type. Again a scope for the cynics to attack me.

This situation reminded me of a dialogue by Amitabh Bachchan in the movie "Cheeni Kum" where he as the chef of an Indian restaurant in London proclaims that

"We are not like other cheat "Indian" restaurants in London which put up posters of elephants and tigers and sell anything in the name of Indian food to ignorant english people"

Unlike Tabu in that movie, I was in the company of people who were highly appreciative of "bengal" atmosphere of the restaurant and hence because of social restrains had to control my bursting rage at the misuse of these great people and walk out of the restaurant immediately.

No wonder I run into so many social conflicts since when other people around were appreciating the food, I was feeling a sense of betrayal. I couldn't get my mind off the fact that this restaurant was downright immoral by misusing the names of these people.

I wonder when or if ever India is going to come out of such cheap business models which try to sell by rousing cheap local sentiments. Why go and blame the politicians for making hollow speeches if we keep patronizing such restaurants which adopt such hypocritical business models?

Of course this attitude of trying to "sell" doesn't restrict itself only to restaurants but also penetrate deep into the society and disastrously reflects in the way Indian education is compromised. I am scared of the day when corporate sector shall start determinig syllabuses in colleges so that they can "produce" efficient workers.

I am already seeing such trends in the Physics education scenario.