Archive for the General rants Category

Of loves and lies

Posted in General rants on July 26, 2013 by gauravrants

Aai, bagh kon alay, Mother, look who’s here. Your grandson Nitesh is waving at you. Won’t you speak to him? Speak just once!”

But mother’s eyes did not respond to the waving of her grandson’s little hands nor did she show any cognizance of her son’s pleading. It was impossible to tell whether those motionless eyes could really see or not. It had been more than 24 hours since she had entered this near-comatose stage but if the doctors were to be believed there was still hope.

Mother’s remaining kidney had failed her causing the creatinine levels in her blood to surge drastically, which, along with her persistent high-blood pressure and long-term diabetes, had resulted in some brain damage. To know the extent of the brain damage and the consequent memory loss the doctors had instructed her three children, two sons and a daughter, to constantly keep talking with mother and see if they could elicit any response from her.

At this stage, between long pauses of absolute inertia, almost as if possessed by a demon, she would abruptly ‘wake up’ for a few seconds making violent motions with her arms and her eyes would wildly scan her surroundings. It was impossible to tell if she was really awake because her darting eyes never seemed to fixate on any face. She even made a few grunts but even these didn’t seem to be in coherence with any of the words that her sobbing children were saying to her.

She seemed all but lost.

Prashant, the eldest one, made a firm resolve not to cry in front of his son Nitesh as he carried him outside the ICU and into the waiting room, where Prashant’s brother, Naren, and sister, Suneeta, were waiting for him. When he entered the room both Naren and Suneeta stood up immediately but before they could speak, a simple frustrated nod by Naren told them that mother’s mind was even oblivious to the presence of her grandson, whom she had adored more than anyone.

Waiting for the doctor to arrive, which could take even hours, they just sat there together, unconsciously making faint physical contacts with each other as their crying minds sought for reassurance and solace from wherever possible. Here, in this hospital of the old and terminally ill, where the wretchedness and ugliness of disease had become their Universe, they spoke about the potholes in the roads and extra salt in their foods, trying to deny this reality of life by simply choosing not to talk about it.

Each of the three were soaked in the same tragedy yet their sorrows were slightly different, and distinct.

Prashant, with whom mother had been living since a long time, was a ‘sarkari babu’ and his wife had recently given birth to their second child and hence his wife and the infant had stayed at home. He was in the hospital with his son Nitesh who was about five. Prashant was feeling a mixture of guilt and anger along with the common sadness that he shared with his siblings. He felt he should have paid attention to his mother when she complained of nausea and fatigue. He should have brought her here sooner. If not by days then at least by hours. Is that not what the doctor had said? If only the treatment had begun sooner… Is that not what the doctor had said?! The doctor hadn’t meant these words in a strong sense, but yet he remembered the panic after hearing them, and how his mind quickly looked around to see if anyone else had heard it, that no one except him, especially his brother and sister, should ever know about this. It wasn’t really a mistake on his part yet he could not bear the thought that his brother and sister could, maybe, seek to blame him. Isn’t that what people always do in times such as this? To find someone to blame it on. They’ll blame it on anyone, except their gods.

Naren, the younger brother, was a bachelor and a budding entrepreneur. He was also feeling guilty but his guilt was very different from his elder brother’s. He had never been too close to mother and he had never regretted this fact, that is, never until now. Also, strangely for him, he found himself jealous of the strong bond that existed between his siblings and mother but he quickly dismissed this jealousy as being just as frivolous as the envy he felt for their slightly higher salaries. He was in an introspective mood, and he was imagining that he would choose to kill himself before any sickness could make a grunting animal out of him.

Suneeta, the youngest one, had recently married and was the closest to her mother. When she was in school filling slam-books she would write “Majhi Aai, my mother” in the best-friend’s column, and things had remained more or less the same as she grew older. It was for this reason that she was hit the strongest by this tragedy, and the stress and sorrow was slowly beginning to corrode her from within and its effect could be seen without in her constantly teary eyes and faint quivering voice.

They all just sat there, a bundle of tired thoughts caught in a vortex of hopeless emotions, and at the core of this silent vortex was plain senseless tragedy.

Just then a nurse entered the waiting room and almost shouted, “Mr. Prashant! Mr. Prashant! Would you come in quickly?”

Prashant leaped up from his chair and followed the nurse to the ICU. Naren and Suneeta followed him too but because only a single relative was allowed at a time in the ICU they both just stayed near the door.

“Your mother was just murmuring a few words. I think I might have heard something like pra..pa..pa but I’m not sure and she immediately went back to sleep after that. You must call out to her and see if she responds to you!”

Prashant’s vision was blurred by tears with this good news and he shouted in a croaked voice “Aai, bagh tujha Prashant alay, Mother, look your Prashant is her. Call my name again, just once!” He bent near his mother’s head and with a determined, controlled voice began talking with her. But mother was again completely unresponsive; neither her eyelids flickered nor her lips shook. Nothing. He kept on talking, almost in a scolding tone, until the nurse asked him to leave the room.

Kai jhala? What happened?” both Naren and Suneeta asked almost simultaneously.

“The nurse heard mother saying my name and I went in and tried to talk with her.”

“Really?! Your name? And did she respond now when you spoke with her?!”

“No.”

“Did she repeat your name again? Are you sure the nurse heard her say your name? Didn’t she even look at you?”

“No, she definitely said my name, and the nurse is absolutely sure. Mother even looked at me directly and parted her lips to say my name but I guess the stress was too much on her. Then she went back to sleep again.”

And Prashant had no idea why he blurted this white lie. Maybe he took the question “are you sure the nurse heard her say your name?” instinctively as an offense. Maybe he wanted his mother to remember him so badly that he was going to construct his own lie for it. Maybe he wanted his siblings to think that their mother had remembered her eldest and most responsible son in her last breaths. He had no idea why. But he knew he had lied. Feeling uneasy, and with the guilt of lying afresh, he immediately left his siblings with the excuse of taking his son for a small walk.

As their minds were too agitated with this incident both Naren and Suneeta simply stood outside the ICU door. They couldn’t help but feel optimistic again at this sign of recovery, which was small but still it was something. But again, along with this common joy that both of them were sharing, they also had their own, separate feelings, that were creeping up slowly.

Suneeta couldn’t help but feel absolutely angry at the management for not allowing her to go inside along with her eldest brother. Wasn’t mother more likely to remember her face better? The face that her mother had held in her palms on countless occasions, from every morning when she left for school to the day she was a bride? And wasn’t it the word “Suneeta” that her mother had said the most in her lifetime? Her mother had no right to deny her this privilege of memory when she had granted it to Prashant!

Naren’s joy was far less distorted than his younger sister’s. He was filled with such optimism that he even dared to imagine that mother would get completely normal again. He even imagined to take his mother to the Sai Baba temple in his new car which he planned to buy next month. Unable to contain this sudden infection of joy, Naren entered the ICU room without even looking at Suneeta.

The strong and pungent odour of the ICU slightly giddied Naren and he wondered if he was ever going to get used to it. He stood at mother’s bedside, held her hand, and called her. He increased his voice slowly and kept on repeating “Aai, bagh na ekda kon alay, Mother, just look once who’s here”. He was doing this for over a minute when mother’s face twitched and her neck visibly jerked. Naren, excited and energized, almost began shouting with a loud voice but mother did not respond after this. He went on for a minute more before the nurse asked him politely to stop doing so and wait outside.

As Naren exited the ICU, immersed in his thoughts, he was grabbed by his arms by his sister and brother.

“Did she speak to you too?” asked Prashant, apparently trying to give some kind of solidity to his lie with the “too”.

“No, she didn’t speak.”

“Oh”

“But, but, she opened her eyes and looked straight at me as soon as I spoke to her! She was looking at me and made an attempt to speak. Maybe if it wasn’t for the side-effects of those damned drugs that we’re pumping in her she’d have enough strength to talk!”

“That’s great news. We must let the doctor know this as soon as he arrives.” said Prashant, who suddenly felt that a heavy burden had been lifted off his chest because his mother was indeed recovering. The nurse’s unsure testimony and his brother’s recent experience were proof enough for him for mother’s recovery. And with a little bit of confabulation and self-deceit, he managed to convince himself that his mother had indeed spoken his name to the nurse but he had simply arrived too late to witness it. Yes, only his name, for what else begins with ‘pa, pra’ if not Prashant!

As for Naren, it wasn’t completely clear to himself why he had grossly embellished the truth, why he had lied. Was he jealous because his mother had uttered his elder brother’s name and had completely forgotten him? Was he so distanced from his mother that in her fading memory, his was the first memory that she had forgotten? Or had she really looked at him? He was sure just a few minutes ago that mother hadn’t looked at him, but now he was not so sure. Maybe the damned drugs really had sedated her so much that it was impossible for her to move her eyes? Was that jerk in the neck a conscious move by mother to look sideways at her son? It must be! Now he remembered it correctly, he loudly said to himself in his mind.

Suneeta had tried to enter the ICU right after hearing Naren’s account, but when the nurse told her to come after some time she couldn’t bear to stay in the presence of her brothers and nearly ran to the waiting room. Her body mimicked the condition of her mind, she couldn’t sit nor could she stand still and kept on walking to and fro. Mother was recovering. Yes, mother was recovering. She is getting better. Oh who was she kidding! There’s no use hiding from it: why was mother responding to her brothers but not to her?! Were her brothers louder? Surely that had to the reason. That just had to be it! After waiting for a few more minutes she dashed into the ICU without even glancing at her brothers who stood by the door. She held her mother’s left hand in both her palms, and in an accusing tone and with a shrill voice, almost shrieked, “Aai!, Mother!”, and she broke down in tears. Between a few sobs she managed to spit out words, “Talk to me! Suneeta ali ahe ga, Suneeta! Ata olakhnar pan nahis ka tu mala? Dada la kasa olakhlas ga tu?! Won’t you even recognize me? But you recognised your sons, didn’t you?!” She buried her head in the pillow to stifle the sobs but her shaking body betrayed her crying. Even the nurses didn’t dare to touch her now. Suneeta’s sorrow had just doubled, she had lost her mother, but her mother had left her sooner than she had left her brothers. Was she doing this on purpose? She couldn’t be! Yes, the last time they had spoken they had a small fight but surely that can’t be reason enough to prompt such cruelty. Or was it a mere unfortunate co-incidence? She vacillated between consoling herself and then deriding herself, at one moment she was accusing her mother and at the other feeling sorry for her. All of this panorama of feelings in one extended moment. She was held by her arms by a nurse and was taken outside the ICU, where her brothers were waiting. She couldn’t look them in eyes but now her sadness had been replaced by unreasonable contempt for her brothers.

Aai ne olakhala ka tula? Did mother recognize you?”

Not wanting to respond to this and seeking to delay any response, she took a napkin from her purse and began wiping her eyes and face with it.

Aga bol na! Say something!”

And with a piercing look at her brothers, looking them straight in the eyes, she said, “Arey ho re, olakhala! Me pan mulgich ahe na tichi?! Yes, yes she recognised me! For I am her daughter too! She even smiled faintly at me and also managed to-”

Her words were cut short when the three siblings saw the doctor, along with his students, walking towards them. The doctor held a file in his hand and had a very grim look on his face. With a deep breath and a quick glance at all three of them, he said, “The MRI reports just came in and I saw them a few minutes ago. I’m sorry but I have bad news. All of us have tried our best but sometimes we can’t go against God’s will. Due to the kidney failure and the resulting uremia, and other complications arising out of her age, there is severe edema, or swelling, in various crucial parts of her brain. She won’t be recovering from this and even our continued treatment via dialysis and drugs will only delay the inevitable, but that too not by a considerable margin. Had I known these reports earlier I would not have asked you to attempt to revive her memory because that is just futile as there is swelling in both her cortex and brainstem. I mean that she can’t be even conscious of her surroundings now. But still, how has she responded to you in the meanwhile? Did she look or recognize any of you?”

And although this death knell should have swept the siblings with a tsunami of grief, it was not grief but some other feeling that they were dealing with at the moment, the guilt of lying. Not daring to repeat their own lie again, when the facts had just defeated them, they simply waited for someone else to begin their experience. Let him or her speak before I speak. Only an awkward silence ensued this deadlock. After a few more seconds, Prashant suddenly remembered that he has “left Nitesh alone in the waiting room”, while Naren took his cellphone out to “inform the rest of the family about this”, while Suneeta stood there silent, with her head bowed down and nails boring into her palms.  

~

Gaurav D. Somwanshi

 

 

A fellow traveller

Posted in General rants on March 11, 2012 by gauravrants

Why do you have that string on your wrist? Aren’t you a non-believer? Why wear such a religious symbol then? I asked why you wear yours. He said because he believes in higher powers. That his life has a meaning. A destiny writ in heavens by Gods themselves. It reminds him of all this when he needs to be disillusioned of the drudgeries of life. I said that’s the same reason why I wear mine. To be reminded. Reminded of what I consider to be my meaning. Because I need a friend. Someone with whom I can relate to. A fellow traveller on my journey of life.

 

Was travelling in a train and watching the fields pass by. People sleeping and waking up and sleeping again. A contented boredom. And I saw this very string on the floor. Besides my shoes. Had nothing to do and nothing to think. So idly observed. The motions of the train and small gusts of wind did not allow it any rest. It was just there. By accident. It will be lost of my attention soon. By accident. Of all the random objects in that train, it was probably the least significant. Just lying there. It did not choose to be so or wish to be so, for it was just a string. Of all the things that one could be, how useless it was to be a string on the train floor. But it still was there.So many odds stacked against it. A lack of purpose, its imminent dissolution, a fate of wither awaiting it, its infinite uselessness- all of them were defied. Because it was still there. Defying all forces and odds. Maybe it was a part of some other entity before serving another useless purpose, but it’s not now.Now it’s free. Condemned to be free. Burdened with its freedom. Condemned to find meaning and purpose on its own. Exiled from the heaven of non-existence.  Because it was still there. Besides my shoes. And I thought Oh Fuck. That string on the floor is me! All that was fundamentally true for it, was true for me! A closer friend I could never find. A better reminder there could never be. Reminder of what makes this world beautiful and this life worth living, for me. Reminder of my freedom.  On different lanes but on the same road, it was my fellow traveller. And so I picked it up and tied it to my wrist. –

.

Gaurav Somwanshi

On Science and Spirituality

Posted in General rants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2012 by gauravrants

“….life is all about balance. To know the complete truth we must know both sides of the coin. In today’s world, where Science has a claim on every objective truth, it has become more important to look at Spirituality too, because it’s the other way of seeing things, and another way of reaching more profound truths, because Science has its limits. Science and Spirituality travel on separate paths but eventually meet at one place. It’s all about balance.

So, let’s all pay attention to our great Guru….”

These were the words, not exact but in the same spirit, used by our professor at the beginning of  a ‘spiritual’ session by a guest speaker. The contents of the session are secondary to this discussion, here I want to stress more on the attitude and perception that is predominant in the educated high and middle classes towards Science and Spirituality which is aptly captured in its entirety by the prof’s introductory words.

Science and Spirituality, like Beauty and the Beast, Savage and the Scholar, are some of the pairs that derive their ‘duality’ from a perceived sense of antagonism that is more of a “I-complete-you” rather than “I-am-your-opposite” kind, and of-course from the use of alliteration too. Both S’s are just long lost lovers who don’t know yet that they are in love.

But is it so? I understand the intuitive appeal of it all, of the perceived hardcore materialism of Science and the ‘different’ approach of spirituality with its ‘different’ domain. Where Science stands on the works of the relatively modern, Spirituality is seen as a gift from the ancients, where Science is armed with microscopes and telescopes, Spirituality has its chants and myths and rituals and ashes.

And here, through my words, I seek to vindicate Science from this narrow and distorted view, and to rescue the word Spirituality from being hijacked by religious and ‘New Age’ spiritual leaders, and charlatans.

Hence, at the outset, it becomes imperative to declare what exactly is the definition of Spirituality that I am criticising, for there are many, many definitions. In the blackest of nights and freest of skies, one look up into the starry abyss arouses in us a feeling that is nothing short of Spirituality, to feel one’s soul resonate with the sounds and melodies is also Spiritual, to empathise with the pain and joy of others, and the process of learning new things about ourselves is also that, and this is not the definition that I attack.

As is apparent from the introductory words, the particular brand of Spirituality that I am speaking of is rather quite distinct and easily identifiable. It mocks the methods of Science as condescending and limited, it abhors scepticism and extols unquestioning faith as being “courageous/virtuous”. This is the spirituality of joining charitable organisations and chanting mantras and dancing in groups and getting that distinct feeling that this is what existence is all about, that the feelings of camaraderie and joy felt by the spiritual practices is all the evidence that one needs to validate those extravagant claims made by the spiritual leaders, this spirituality expects you to gulp down its metaphysics (that often trespasses the domain of actual physics) without question, the kind of spirituality where a Rs. 5000/- crash course can make you an expert in the ‘art of living’ (okay that wasn’t so subtle), a spirituality which borrows and misinterprets actual tenets of Science and uses it, miserably, to substantiate its own world-view, may it be the Quantum Consciousness of Amit Goswami or the weekly “scientifically spiritual” articles of Deepak Chopra, the spirituality which robs our ancient mythological stories and scriptures of their artistic, literary and ideological value and makes it cheap, vulgar with the coating of “all this actually happened and all of it is factually true”. This brand of Spirituality has its specific trademarks, for instance, its insistence that it’s working in tandem with Science and merely interpolating its conclusions, its not-so-subtle affiliation with organised religions, its continuous whine that all physical truths have already been written down in 3000 year old texts or can be accessed by listening to the anecdotes of some ascetic, even if their “truths” don’t agree with present findings. In here, the individual is said to be at the pedestal, where he is said to lead his own path. But the individual is merely handed down an instruction manual on what he should do and also, what he should ‘feel’ after he’s done doing that, that money and crazy donations are irrelevant but somehow still needed “reluctantly” by these organisations.

But what is so bad about this ‘New Age’ Spirituality and its sibling ideas?And what is so great about Science?

There is a natural thirst in us humans for wonder, reverence and awe, we all have a hole in our hearts that will only be filled with these emotions and nothing else. Curiosity is hard-wired in us. We yearn for more knowledge, we are always opinionated on anything that merits an opinion, we need the assurance of truths. This is the common basis and the fuel for our actions and motivations, and the basis of Science, Spirituality and Religion. These are extremely powerful and potent drives and almost all that is good about us and around us comes from these drives. We know now how life came into being, we landed on the moon and sent ambassadors across the Solar System, eliminated diseases and reduced hunger, came up with art, literature and music, all because of the power of those drives and human characteristics.

But if we are not very careful, these very same drives and characteristics just might end up destroying civilisations, or prohibit progress for Millennia, cause wars and massacres and make us monsters, and history bears testimony to the fact that this has often been the case.

And hence my cautious and critical stance on that brand of Spirituality, and needless to say, Religion too.

People like Deepak Chopra who vociferously advocate stuff like Quantum mechanics tells a lot about healing and “souls”,  ISKCON folks, the Zakir Naik fan-club or even highly educated and intelligent students from prestigious institutes saying with overbearing confidence that the Theory of Evolution is false or unimportant, the uncountable number of babas and yogis and swamis and magic-healers springing out of every pothole in the country, all of them have a large number of followers that even includes leading actors, sportsmen and political leaders and it’s all growing at an alarming rate. All these are not independent events and ideologies but rather symptoms of some few common attitudes and perceptions. These people, their ideas and these attitudes need to be criticised. They need to be held by their throats and brought out of the den of critical immunity and thrown in the arena of scientific scrutiny. Or else the clock of progress slowly rewinds, the cult of fanatics become organised and gain political power and social domination, truth and facts will be made to follow the norms of political correctness, and all that we have accomplished so far and could accomplish would crumble. It has happened before too.

And hence, I repeat, my cautious and critical stance on Spirituality and Religion.

But what is so great about Science that we should accept its monopoly over truth? Haven’t scientists too caused mass destruction with their automatic weapons and atomic bombs? Who are we to comment on other’s beliefs and their practices? Isn’t everything subjective? And how can any lab tool, no matter how advanced and expensive, ever resolve all our existential dilemmas? If Science says scepticism is so needed, then why not be sceptical about even all the established theories of Science itself? Isn’t it pure condescension to ridicule other alleged ways of attaining truth? And should all anecdotal evidence of people who say that they’ve seen ghosts and spirits, who have spoken with the dead or with the Gods themselves be neglected or rejected outright? Isn’t it just even slightly possible that the religious scriptures are completely right? And why should we deprive someone of their consolations and their faith? Aren’t there some things that Science just can’t explain? And for supernatural things like these, will we not need methods and tools that are not the “traditional” tools of Science?

 

These and many such questions arise, not so much as from the predominant inclination of masses towards fields of the ‘supernatural’ or stuff that has ‘fantastic’ themes or religious overtones, as it does from a gross misunderstanding of what Science really is.

And just like almost any other vice gripping our society today, a lot of these misconceptions about Science too can be safely attributed to our education system. Just like history is made to look like a succession of events and statistics with no reference to human greed, obedience to authority and our incompetence, Science too has been robbed off of its true essence. It is made to look as if it’s all about learning laws from textbooks, applying them in practicals or numericals and leaving it at that. And no reference is made to the manner in which these discoveries were made, how well were they received or criticised or what little light they gave to extend our vision in the darkness of our ignorance. And if people are not acquainted with Science, it’s easy for them to dismiss Science as highly fallible and difficult to separate it from pseudo-science.

Science is not a collection of facts or a repository of data, it is not a sceptical and doubting disorder that discourages anyone’s creativity and imagination. Science is more about the method than the findings. On our journey towards knowledge and truth, Science is a way of avoiding the assaults of our greatest enemy- ourselves. It is a method of protecting us from our personal inclinations, our biasses, our faulty sensory systems, our fetish for authority, the imprints of our cultural and traditional teachings, our stubborn beliefs on how the world ‘ought’ to be and many more.

Its most distinguishing feature (as compared to other “modes/methods” of validating claims) is that it cherishes, celebrates and rewards those who prove currently believed truths to be false. It won’t accept anything that doesn’t stand the test of sceptical scrutiny.  It welcomes debate, questions all authority, and the very fact that a clerk working in a patent office is happily allowed to demolish and rebuild almost all of Modern Physics shows that hierarchy or authority have very little to do with who might be right or wrong here.

And we all use scientific reasoning on so many occasions, its basic idea is not alien to any of us. When we are buying a second-hand bike, we never really trust the claim “perfect condition and hardly used”. We kick the tyres, look for scratches and dents that might suggest accidents in the past, or consult a mechanic. And if we can’t take others’ claims at face value for something as trivial as buying a bike, then why listen to the spiritual and religious figures who claim to know why you were born and what is the meaning of your life?

This raises the immediate valid question that why should anyone accept the scientific claims and theories without going over all of its tedious details? Why should I accept the Theory of Evolution or that of Relativity when I’m not a biology or physics graduate?

The most obvious reason for this would be the very nature of the scientific method followed by the scientists and researchers, but also, because it’s much safer to believe those who are trying to find out the truth than those who say that they’ve already found it. People who have “truths” in their mind already will always deny any opposing claims and will not be so happy to accept mistakes, but people only in search of truth fuelled by sheer intellectual curiosity, are only prone to unintentional fallacies, which are not many and readily corrected.

And now we come to the most important part, where, as I said earlier, we rescue true Spirituality from its “copy-cat and fake” brands. The basis for spirituality, no matter what kind, will always be our thirst for wonder, reverence and awe, and a need to feel belonged, to feel connected and important. And the very simple and basic truths if known and appreciated, offer all of these and more. To quote the most standard examples- The Theory of Evolution, the massive scales of objects and phenomena that occur in Astronomy, the absurd and counter-intuitive world of Quantum physics,  and many more have the potential of changing the very way with which we face the world. Moreover, the very method of science not only offers us access to these unlimited reserves of knowledge and wonder, it also protects us against those false institutions that, to use Carl Sagan’s words, “casually press our awe buttons and cheapen the experience”.

Science definitely does not offer all the answers, but it helps us to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity and teaches how to handle our ignorance. But people might find more contentment in believing in the words of the religious leaders, those who talk for hours on how our soul is immortal, how karma will solve everything or how heaven is assured if we do this or that, and all these might give someone temporary consolations too. But if the reason for this is only contentment and a denial of reality then doesn’t it all tend to inoculate the society from any sort of revolution? Who’ll fight for the hungry (not just by mere charities and some free meals) when they’re assured feasts in the after-life or next-life? There is always loss in denying truth or even abandoning the quest for it.

But the recourse to spiritual/religious institutions is far easier than the assimilation of Science in everyday life. It requires conscientious effort and courage. It requires you to be in your senses because the pursuit of science appeals to one’s sense of empathy, curiosity and wonder instead of one’s insecurity, fear and prejudices. To go on hating the Monday morning sun for the mundane work that follows for the week ahead and yet never failing to appreciate the beauty of stars is quite a big battle that many of us lose without a fight. And if we are becoming inured to all the wrong and ugly things around us, it is mostly because we don’t let the beauty of Nature affect us enough to ignite in us the spark to change things. In a world torn apart by religious differences, where military budgets are hitting outrageous levels, where short-term profit is upheld at the price of environmental degradation, a little reminder of our place in the Universe of being the only known entities capable of unravelling and appreciating its mysteries would certainly do some good.

 

In the end, I’d like to borrow Daniel Dennett’s words from Breaking The Spell (2006) :-

“If you can approach the world’s complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that important in the greater scheme of things. Keeping that awestruck vision of the world ready to hand while dealing with the demands of daily living is no easy exercise, but it is definitely worth the effort, for if you can stay centred, and engaged, you will find the hard choices easier, the right words will come to you when you need them, and you will be a better person. That, I propose, is the secret to spirituality, and it has nothing at all to do with believing in an immortal soul, or in anything supernatural.”

Gaurav Somwanshi

Art

Posted in General rants on February 27, 2012 by gauravrants

Someone bleeds out his emotions on paper and pours down all his agitation in rhyme and we confine it on the shelf of “poetry”, someone gives sound to feelings and creates something to resonate with his own soul and we will make sure it’s bound in “classical” or “heavy metal” and the likes, and the same goes with almost every other art.

The purpose of art as an outlet to human anxiety,as a tool of expression and its potential to inspire others in varied and profound ways is neglected and defining it or ‘quarantining’ it, in eras, classes, styles,genres has become more important.

Now I understand Frodo

Posted in General rants on January 28, 2012 by gauravrants

.

.

‘Now I understand that Frodo would have given up halfway through if instead he had the task, or “job”, of selling rings door-to-door in the Shire; the pain of efforts and the dread of hard work are in inverse proportion to the sense of some higher or meaningful purpose in our goals…

.

.

The narrative of his life…

Posted in General rants on January 28, 2012 by gauravrants

‘…for his love of stories, cartoons and books had given him the very narrative of his life, altering him in ways that even he could not fathom or count, making him value his actions not by their consequences but the meaning they would have if written down and read by posterity, making him replace the anxiety of being judged by peers with that of being judged by his imaginary ‘readers’, and, even in his own head, making him refer to himself in the third person.’

..Fear..

Posted in General rants on January 21, 2012 by gauravrants
‘…the fear of heights may just be an anxiety for the jump, and the vertigo before the fall simply a disguised excitement, the fear of closed spaces may just be a reminder of our normal lives, the fear of ghosts may just be a shadow of the monsters lurking inside us, and only if we could see it all as it is…’