अंत

हर सांस अंत की शुरुवात है
आखरी सांस ही अंत है
कोई सांस का हिसाभ है?
सिर्फ कर्मो की निशांनी रह जाती है
वह भी कुछ सालों में कहीं गुम हो जाती है
शायद कुछ निशान रह जाते है
पर उनका भी मतलब बदल जाता है
फिर कर्म क्यों?
फिर जीतने की तमना क्यों?

Tips from Mark Dvoretsky

From this wonderful interview –

But we mustn’t forget chess is also a sport and to be successful at a sport it is not enough to just have knowledge, you should have skills too. And for the development of skills you need to train

But it is not sufficient to only find what the student’s shortcomings are. It is also important to find out the reason why specific mistakes are being made

Conformism

A human who finished top 3 in a school is a school level conformist
A human who graduates from a top university is an educated college level conformist
A human who takes up a job at a large company with salary is successful capitalist conformist
A human who gets married achieves marriage level conformism
A human producing child is parent level conformist
A human who eventually dies is a human conformist

Quotes from The Children Of Men

The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children. What will be the world like if humans are unable to produce children anymore? Will the world become more miserable than it already is? The first part of the book was engaging but the second half becomes ‘too filmi’ when we are taken on a journey with the dissidents.

Bureaucracy

The petty bureaucrats of tyranny, men who relish the carefully measured meed of power permitted to them, who need to walk in the aura of manufactured fear, to know that the fear precedes them as they enter a room and will linger like a smell after they have left, but who have neither the sadism nor the courage for the ultimate cruelty.

Persistence

People have no persistence. They take up enthusiasms but quickly tire, particularly if their interest isn’t continually stimulated.

Idealism

The world is changed not by the self-regarding, but by men and women prepared to make fools of themselves.

Marriage

We live in the same house, but we’re like dodgers or guests in the same hotel.

Maut

यह मेरी लाश पड़ी हुई है ,
चंद लोगों की भीड़ जमा हुई है
अब सवालों के बोझ से हर सांस नहीं लेनी पड़ेगी ,
पर जवाबों से मुलाकात की गुंजाइश नहीं रही है
अब हसने के मौके भी नहीं रहे ,
न गम के आसूं बहाने के मौके रहे
अब हर रोज़ बैंक बैलेंस की चिंता नहीं करनी ,
बेचारे जो ज़िंदा है उनकी कश्मकश चलती रहेगी
यह कैसी दुनिया रची है इंसानों ने
एक को २५ करोड़ में नवाज़ा जाता है
पर जो दिन भर मेहनत करता है वह धुप में ही सोता है ।

Unsynchronised

The group called themselves ‘Human Terminators’. The members were from various parts of the planet Earth. The communication technology had enabled them to come into contact with each other. They were passionate about the same idea. To be successful, they felt every other human needs to be killed specially the kids, the old and those who were not willing to try their idea. And, they achieved their mission. But, the bigger mission still awaited to be done. They built a huge building which housed the only surviving 2,00,000 humans. It was firmly believed by them that a computer simulation was responsible for running of human lives. Things happened randomly in the lives of humans. Humans had no control. Humans will never achieve happiness, equality for all. So, better to destroy this simulator. And, they felt to defeat randomness they needed to do everything at the same time for 24 hours – wake up at same time, brush at same time and for same length etc. And, the simulator will die and so will the human species. So, on 24th September, 2316, they started practicing synchronization. They woke up at 5 a.m. Then, started brushing for 5 minutes at 5.01 a.m. and finished at 5.06 a.m. They were able to synchronize many activities.

But, they failed to synchronize the timing and length of finishing their toilet routine. The failure continued for 3 months. Some got very frustrated and committed suicide. In the end, ‘Human Terminators’ gave up.

End of fiction

Foucault

Reading various philosophers introduces to ideas we never think of. I came across Foucault and his take on power, punishment fascinated me. So, to understand his ideas I picked up A Very Short Introduction by Gary Gutting.

Some of the ideas/quotes which the author covers

1) Foucault said “The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.”

2) What is an author? Is a person who writes shopping list on a paper an author?

3) Politics – distinction between polemics and problematizations. Gary writes “Political discussions should be driven by the concrete problems that raise our questions, not by the established theories that claim to be able to answer them.”

4) Archaeology of knowledge – every author writes under constraints of his time. Gary writes “But Foucault’s idea is that every mode of thinking involves implicit rules that materially restrict the range of thought. We will not be so much interested in, say Hume or Darwin as in what made Hume or Darwin possible.”

— marginalization of the subject
— do not ask what Descartes mean but “they use what Descartes – wrote as clues to the general structure of the system in which they thought and wrote.”

5) There is an intimate tie between knowledge and power. “Foucault claims that power has a positive epistemic role, not only constraining or eliminating knowledge but also producing it.”

6) Crime and Punishment – “The most striking thesis of Discipline and Punish is that the disciplinary techniques introduced for criminals become the model for other modern sites of control ( schools, hospitals, etc.). so that prison discipline pervades all of modern society.”

— Foucault says that modern approach to discipline produces ‘docile bodies’ through 3 means – Hierarchical observation, normalizing judgement and examination.
— “Society itself appears as a multitude of dominated others: not only criminals but also students, patients…. Each of us is the subject of modern power.”

Watching The Sky

Chess is my obsession and the go to activity to release the stress or escape the burden of mundane reality. But watching the sky was the obsession this week. I even got up at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. on the same night and went out to the ground to identify the stars/constellations/planets which adorn the sky. And Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Orion, Big Dipper, Sirius have welcomed us!

Few weeks backs I decided to start looking at the sky; also a fascinating activity to introduce to my son. We had attended a Science Utsav event at Ghatkopar, few months back, where the kids and the adults were shown the Moon and its craters using a telescope. My first ever look at a telescope at the age of 41!! Unfortunately due to unclear skies no other objects were seen. But, since then I wished to explore further. So, started googling to figure out how to start. The astroviewer link gives a skymap for a particular area. Initially, just went outside and watched; also showed son the stars that were visible in the sky. We started observing with skymap’s help and Orion was the first constellation we identified. Yeah!! The skymap shows all the 4 directions so you know where to look and you can confirm with the smart compass app on the android phone. The Earth Sky site has these weekly guides which are also useful. On the evening of March 18th around 10 p.m. we identified the Big Dipper. This month, March 2016, the planet Jupiter is visible very clearly in the sky. Some photographs were taken using the smartphone but the final output was not that clear.
The smartphone also proved useful. Some android apps which were installed –

  • Smart Compass
  • Indian Sky Map
  • Start Chart – The Star Chart app proved useful; just point towards the sky and it will tell you the constellation – how cool!!
  • We have been doing this for a week…

    Update: 14/04/2016
    Finally, we, a bunch of families, spent a night under the skies on April 9th. The program was organised by Khagol Mandal. The first session was about exploring the sky where the presenter used a laser torch to point out various objects. He also gave lot of technical information about stars, temperature, supernova, nebulae etc. The children got bored and impatient as they wanted to watch the sky with telescopes. We were already tired having spent the day doing various activities at Saguna Baug. But, the three sessions with telescopes were fantastic. In each session, 2 or 3 telescopes were setup. We got to see a very prominent ring around Saturn, Jupiter, an open cluster which was full of stars, binary stars of Saptarishi – Vashista and Arundhati, Mars, a globular cluster. The sky was showing a lot more stars than we have been able to see near our place in Mumbai. Kudos to Khagol organisers! The session ended at 5 a.m.

    2015

    1. Read more books than in 2014. Enjoyed What is Justice by Sandel, Youth by Coetzee, some of the books from A Very Short Introduction series like Marx, Foucault, History of Human Life

    2. Attended the Mumbai International Film Festival for the second time – watched 23 films – favorites – Taxi, Microbe and Gasoline, Risk of Acid Rain, Kaul, Agnieszka, The Forbidden Room, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, The River of Fables

    3. Started homeschooling

    4. Attended a literary festival in Mumbai – chai and translation sessions were the best. And, a wonderful story told by Gulzar in his soothing voice.

    5. Finally, got a chance to visit Mahabaleshwar in the off season – no crowd, relaxed exploration.

    6. Took son to two plays performed by Gillo – HANUMAN KI RAMAYAN at Bhavan’s and GULABO AUR PARIZAAD at NCPA

    Looking back at MAMI 2014

    The story of humans on this planet is the story of struggle; to survive and live with dignity; to feel part of something. Every human and the society they are part of have their own struggles. There is almost familiar themes running through these struggles – fighting the unjust government (Pride), people displaced from their homes and trying to start a new life in an unfamiliar country (Macondo), women fighting social prejudices and unjust system of justice (Difret, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem), economic struggle (Two Days, One Night), love. The themes are familiar but still the story needs to be told. And, cinema is one such medium to explore these themes.

    I have always wanted to attend an International Film Festival. My first attempt was MAMI 2013 but could not manage to fulfill my wish. But, MAMI 2014 happened and it turned out to be an unforgettable experience. Everyday I left home early to watch 4-5 movies per day, and returned home late in the night. The first show usually started at 10am. And, reached home by 11pm. My son was perplexed. I tried to share some stories from films to satiate his curiosity.

    How did I choose which films to watch? Don’t remember now. I had not read too many previews; just a couple before day 1. So, just went with my gut feeling in choosing films to watch, for each day.

    One great feature of the festival is that the audience gets to talk to the producers, directors or the actors of the film.

    One of the defining experience of the festival was watching ‘Corn Island’. It is a beautifully shot film but has minimal dialogues. There is no dialogue almost for 20 minutes but I was completely hooked and eager to follow the journey of the protagonist. ‘Court’ was another movie which was unconventional but engaging, sometimes humorous. Here is a review

    A Dalit activist-poet is held ‘responsible’ for the ‘suicide’ of a sewage cleaner. ‘Court’ leads us through his arrest and ‘judicial remand’ and hearings, resulting in a film that is throbbing, urgent, vital, belying the sparse, near-documentarian manner of the telling.

    Some other movies which I liked -

    • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
    • – A vampire movie shot in black and white

    • Refugiado
    • – A wife (with her son) running away from the abusive husband

    • Vessel ( Documentary )
    • – A woman’s fight to help women from around the world in getting abortions.

    • Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
    • – An enthralling court drama; mesmerizing performance by the lead actress.

    • Difret
    • – An Ethopian film which tells a story of girl escaping from the inhuman practice of ‘abduction into marriage’.

    • Lessons in Dissent (Documentary )
    • The Tree (Drevo)
    • Macondo
    • – The film explores the life of refugees in Austria.

    • The Fort (Killa)
    • – Story of childhood; beautiful background; some funny moments.

    • Labour Of Love (Asha Jaoar Majhe)
    • – A silent film

    • The Ambassador To Bern
    • – A political thriller

    • The Little House
    • Pride
    • – A fun film based on true events.

    • Two Days, One Night
    • – Will you accept taking a cut in salary/bonus if it would help someone to keep their job?

    Some of the duds I watched –

    • Dombivli Return
    • Honeycomb Lodge
    • Buddha In a Traffic Jam

    The festival was well organised; though there were some hiccups. Now, looking forward to October 29th, 2015.