Monday, May 29, 2006
Poem recited by: Robbie
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Click here to download the song (hi-fi version)
The story behind Resilience:
It was 1994, I was in my 11th grade then, my friends from school had arranged for us to go to watch Mahanadi. I went with all my class (we were 56) to watch this movie. The movie started and despite being the unruly beings we were observed pin drop silence. This wouldn’t have happened even in our class room. My Malaysian class mate was crying uncontrollably by the end of the movie and I had to console him and remind him that it was just fiction.
Mahanadi was a stunner; it also introduced me to this poem. For a long time after that day ‘pirar vaada’ and Kamal’s voice kept lingering in my mind.
Listen to Kamal's version here ( I modified it and made it slower, making it easier for people to follow the lines in the poem, I personally feel that Kamal could have slowed it down:p)
I had long wanted to post this poem on my blogsite. I had one problem though, I did not have the lyrics. Thennavan graciously sent me the lyrics when I asked for it. I was ready to recite it and post it when Ganesh called me home.
I stopped recording and went to Ganesh’s place, after reaching there a weird thought struck me. I had always wanted this recital to be accompanied by music of some sort and here I had Ganesh, a brilliant composer with me, so I immediately started pestering him to compose music suiting the mood of this poem. It was hard for me to believe what happened next, Ganesh in the next 10 minutes or so had come up with this brilliant composition to go with my recital!!!
He literally composed the music impromptu. I couldn’t believe what I heard because he was suffering from cold and a terrible headache the entire day and I had least expected him to come up with such music.
What you hear now is the product of those few hours of brainstorming and Ganesh’s brilliance in executing this idea. I feel honored to be in the company of such a talented person like Ganesh and I request people visiting here to carefully listen to the composition and to give your feedback to this wonderful composer. This was a novel experiment, and I thank Ganesh for helping me with it.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
1. Grab the book nearest to you turn to page 18 and find line 4 (jeepers creepers whoever came up with this idea!)
Book: A long walk to freedom by Nelson Mandela
page 18, line 4 from the chapter "A country childhood": The men wore suits and the women affected the severe protestant style of the missionaries: thick long skirts and high-necked blouses, with a blanket draped over the shoulder and a scarf wound elegantly around the head. (shows that great leaders can also be quite boring at times)
2. Stretch your arm out as far as possible...
Whew! that was good stretching exercise.
3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
I haven't watched TV for a few months now so dont remember what I watched last.
4. Without looking guess what time it is:
Must be 11:00 P.M
5. Now look at the time, what is the actual time?
10:51 P.M! I guess I am always thinking ahead:P
6. With the exception of the computer what can you hear?
The goddamned aircon!! Seems to be working overtime these days. arrrgh!
7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
I guess around 5 hours back (all my friends are either injured or tired so no tennis today) on my way back from the lab. Haven't stepped outside ever since I came back confining myself to my cozy cozy room.
8. Before this survey what did you look at?
Your blogsite! (was listening to the song vennilave... from Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu).
9. What are you wearing?
Do you really need to know? Blue shorts and grey tee.
10. When did you last laugh?
When I saw that you had tagged me and I had to answer all these questions (I can assure you that it was sarcastic).
11. Seen anything weird lately?
Everything’s so weird these days that I am trying to find something normal!
12. What do you think of this quiz?
Must have been designed by the greatest...... (The rest is censored) on earth!
13. What is the last film you saw?
Thirupathi... gosh! what a waste of time (I meant the movie)!!
14. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Switches, plugs, temperature controls and lots of (no pictures of aishwarya rai so dont get your expectations high) empty space!
15. If you became a multimillionaire what would you buy?
A beautiful town house in Mars.
(Hire an assistant first to help me type this! It’s taking forever to finish!!!!)
16. Tell me something about you that I don’t know.
Hmm! I have a bath every morning, eat three meals a day, (I think you can imagine the rest)...
17. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
Make science the only religion.
18. Do you like to dance?
Yeah! If you would give me company, sure! Why not?
19. Imagine your first child is a girl, what would you call her?
Lucky! Coz in the first place she only had a 50% chance to be a girl!
20. Imagine your first child is a boy, what would you call him?
'My son' of course! What else would anyone call him?
21. Would you ever consider living abroad?
I guess I don’t have that choice now:P
22. What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
”I am a believer!"
I tag Ganesh, Thennavan, Narayan Venkat, Swahilya and whoever else is interested in wasting time.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
I revisited "the selfish gene" by Richard Dawkins and this post is in special reference to Chapter 9 in the book titled 'Battle of the sexes'. In this chapter Dawkins tries to explain the difference between what fundamentally is male and female. In the animal and plant kingdom in general the criterion for judging the sex of an individual are based on how large the sex cells are. In general the egg cells of the female are many times larger than the male sperm and this can be used as a general yardstick to interpret the differences between the sexes.
He goes on further to talk about the contribution of the males and females during reproduction. The egg essentially is the major contributor, the sperm on the other hand is just a vehicle that transfers information, it is not a good food source. All the food for the developing embryo is provided for by the egg. In primitive organisms like fungi sexual reproduction occurs between isogamous individuals those that cannot be distinguished into two sexes. The contribution of both donating individuals in such a scenario is equal. So, during evolution one of these two isogametes must have turned into a larger cell and thus cells with larger gametes would become suitable embryo support systems. This is where female exploitation started evolutionarily according to Dawkins.
A few lines from the chapter that describes evolution of sexes…
"In the days when all sex cells were interchangeable and of roughly the same size, there would have been some that just happened to be slightly bigger than others. In some respects a big isogamete would have an advantage over an average-sized one, because it would get its embryo off to a good start by giving it a large initial food supply. There might therefore have been an evolutionary trend towards larger gametes. But there was a catch. The evolution of isogametes that were larger than was strictly necessary would have opened the door to selfish exploitation. Individuals who produced smaller than average gametes would cash in, provided they could ensure that their smaller gametes fused with the extra-big ones. This could be achieved by making the small ones more mobile, and able to seek the large ones actively. The advantage to an individual producing small, rapidly moving gametes would be that he could afford to make a larger number of gametes, and therefore could potentially have more children..."
In the lines above Dawkins has beautifully pointed out how females have been exploited by males through evolution to spread their genetic information, it is interesting how selfishly genetic selection makes the females the exploited species. Males according to Dawkins are worthless fellows, and it would be good for a particular species to have more females than males. There are many more interesting aspects to this particular chapter that discusses about the advantages of being a male and the disadvantages of being a female. I have recently been visiting this blog and witnessing a battle of sexes of sorts. I hope that the battle of sexes stops, coz after all we (males and females) were all once isogamous!
Friday, May 12, 2006
Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound... It’s a bird, a bee no its Kal El! Yes! A few of you guessed right Kal El is the actual name of Clark Kent aka Superman. Superman was perhaps the first science fiction comic series I started reading, I still remember those long walks with my grandfather to the grocery store which usually resulted in him getting me a bunch load of comic books (what a horrendous waste of money!!). I probably owned every single superman comic that came out during those times, including the one in which he dies tragically, killed by his friend turned arch rival Lex Luther.
Superman was created by school mates Joe Shuster and Jerome Siegel in 1933 (read the story behind superman here).
Superman is an ingenious creation and a subtle way of introducing kids to science fiction; I have since graduated from superman to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. Superman a perfect role model and what every kid wants to be, a symbol of justice, power and honesty. I still remember the days I spent as a kid imagining myself flying and saving the world in my dreams.The characterization of superman is very complex and very imaginative, it is not an ordinary thing to think about so many super powers and Kryptonite is absolute genius. It is incredible that the authors so ingeniously thought of a weakness. The comic books where superman encounters kryptonite are fascinating. I must have read and reread those stories a hundred and one times when I was a kid, now with the movie about to hit the big screen I really long to read one of those comic books again.
I am surprised that Kal El did not lose his significance even after all these days. The world still misses him, I still miss him… BRING ON THE KRYPTONITE!!!
Its not easy to be me: THE SUPERMAN SONG
Saturday, May 06, 2006
I was browsing through the pictures of my visit to Tokyo this New Year and the picture of this gigantic 13 meter great Buddha of Kamakura stood out. I was transported to Kamakura and of the time I spent there walking into the statue. Yes! You can get into the statue and look into Buddha’s hollow empty head. It is this emptiness inside the statue that was very striking. The statue was built in the 13th century and was housed inside a large temple. The temple was washed away in a tsunami in the late 15th century and Buddha somehow has withstood the test of time. A visit to Kamakura which is full of Buddhist temples is incomplete without a visit inside the great 13.35 meter Buddha.
This essay wasn’t supposed to be a travelogue or about Kamakura. I had intended to write about how intriguing I found Buddha’s empty head to be. Why such an enlightened soul would have an empty hollow head was beyond my comprehension. In the space within the walls of the Buddha I felt very insecure. I realized how my big wide world was confined to finite space within the statue depriving me of freedom. As I dwell on this issue of empty space many unanswered questions keep following me like an avalanche, chasing me into wild thoughts and making me obsess.
Why do we all obsess over unanswered questions? This question brings me back to the great Buddha. Buddha was obsession incarnate. He obsessively questioned and analyzed the philosophy of life for years and he taught his disciples the “true” meaning of life. This “truth” is what I felt in looking at his empty head at Kamakura. That hollow empty space is the eternal “truth”, something that we feel around us at all times. We just don’t realize the space around us until or unless it is restricted or defined. Meditation also I believe makes us understand this very “truth” that the universe is nothing but empty space. How far within one can you delve for answers? Or, how small can you dissect an atom? (It is interesting to note that root of the word atom means indivisible) The root of everything in essence seems to be embedded in nothing! The complexity that covers this simple nothing is the marvel of science.
The empty head
Buddham charanam gachami (I take refuge in the Buddha)…