Ode to Bangalore

Tucked away in the southern parts of this magnificent country was a city like no other. The lush green trees, with the amazing weather was a haven made by the gods themselves. I distinctly remember waking up fascinated early in the morning by the thick fog that surrounded my house even though it was summer. Air conditioners were owned only by the delusional. Sparrows in the veranda and squirrels frolicking about the streets were everyday sights to see. 30 degrees was an angle that could be drawn using a protractor, never did I associate it with the temperature.

Bendakaluru, as it was called during inception has for the longest time been a rendezvous for cultures across the country and now the world. In this commotion of cultures I find myself, I find my home, I find my ooru.

Growing up in this beautiful city has had its own share of bittersweet moments. Where there were lakes, now lie high rise residential complexes and resourceful malls; where there was a green arboreal cover with exotic birds perched on every tree has now become meandering roads sprawling with automobiles for miles on end. The only signs of the previously boastful fauna are the droppings left by annoying birds on expensive cars. What were once monopolies of family run restaurants serving hot plates of dosas with numbers running into the thousands for a single meal are now facing stiff competition from pubs with themes and multi-cuisine restaurants that serve delicacies from across the world.
All of these changes begs important questions – Was it worth it? Are the losses justified ? Is this the cost of development?
I don’t have the “correct” answers to these questions because I am ambivalent to what has happened. I have played my part in ensuring that this city has become what it is now. I like dosas but I also like the occasional lasagna. I miss the sparrows but the communication links that keep them away have become such an integral part of my life. I miss the green canopy that surrounded the roads but I do save time because of the extended roads and fly-overs that have replaced them. As a Bangalorean I cannot be surprised by what has happened, because all of us saw it coming like an inevitable apocalypse, yet very little to nothing was done to protect what we had.

Now as I sit at the edge of a new beginning, I need to bid farewell to this city for a couple of years. I am overwhelmed with emotions. I am happy and hopeful for the future but I am sad and hurt that I need to leave this haven behind in its present state of deterioration/development. The Bangalore that I grew up in is a different city from the Bengaluru I am leaving. Nevertheless, Bangalore will always be where the heart is.

I like what Bengaluru is, but I loved the Bangalore that was.

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Transcendental Consciousness

For sometime now, I have been thinking about human consciousness and the plausibility of transferring consciousness to another human or machine (?). Of course, the first thing that pops up on google when you look up something similar is the trailer to the movie called Transcendence starring Johnny Depp (which inspired the title). Though I haven’t watched that movie, the theme was pretty clear from the trailer. This was constantly something that bugged my head until I had ( what i would like to call) an intellectual breakthrough, thanks to my beloved father. Let me elaborate-

The other day I happened to come home later than usual after hanging out with some friends. I mentally prepared myself for a lecture that was to follow ,as my father was awake. Sensing my disinterest, he says to me- “Son, my advice to you is the product of my experience”. These words hit me like a train! At that moment I realized that in a very twisted way, advice is the way we humans transfer consciousness from one generation to the next. The only way to make this transfer is through speech. Though advice is only the conclusion from an experience, following it might help avoid circumstances that a prior generation faced.

So what? What does this have to do with anything? What are the implications of the “transcendental consciousness”?
Well, lets start with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Evolution resulted in helping organisms adapt to their surrounding environment. It was for one generation to make a better version of itself, to overcome any sort of threat. But how can one generation of organisms transfer an experience to another? This is where, I think, advice enters the picture.So if you look at the larger picture, you will notice that  every piece of advice you have rolled your eyes at are the conclusions of a previous generation.

But what does the previous generation get by facilitating this transfer?

Well, as i have mentioned in a post previously the purpose of an organism is to procreate and make a better version of itself, but this just takes care of the physiological aspect of the transfer; the mental aspect comes in when they give you advice. When this advice is taken, they transfer their consciousness into you and in a really weird way live their lives through you i.e. they live forever(until the apocalypse of course!) . And by making many copies of themselves, they make sure there are many paths(or options in case one fails) that they can take!

The truth is that the way we think -our consciousness- is just one of the many manifestations of the first humans that ever evolved from their primate ancestors.

 

The Train Station

Ever feel lonely in life ? Ever feel that you are the weirdest person around ? Ever just felt annoyed by the eternal silence and lack of action in life ? Don’t have anything to do right now?

I know the perfect place for you – an Indian train station. You read that right, it is the perfect place to come to terms with these feelings! I know I sound like a deranged loony trying to sell you psychedelic drugs . But hear me out ,I just might be on to something here.

In a country with almost a billion people and an estimated 382 person per square km ,one just develops a predilection for crowds .The best part of the station is how effortless the process of being entertained is . All you have to do is to find a nice spot to rest your behind and you are good to go ! Hell ! If you want to enjoy the commotion with a nice warm cup of tea or coffee , you are in for a treat .

You can find people from all walks of life;people with all kinds of mental illnesses and people with different degrees of verbal diarrhea.Some of the things you may observe are – The sudden excitement that engenders every time a train arrives , the tea/coffee vendors moving about announcing their product in an annoying voice , the conversation between two old men about how fucked the present generation is , the rather conspicuous exchanges between two newly weds trying not to attract the attention of the rest of the family, the guilty pick pocket pleading the police to let him go,the barking stray dogs fighting over territory, the rusted wheels of the wheel barrow being pushed around by tired railway clerks, the foolishly adventurous man crossing the railway tracks to move between platforms and at last but not the least, the iconic arrival/departure announcements that takes a special talent to understand .Legend says that the  announcements are made in at least 3 different languages !

On a busy day there are thousands of people in a train station, each of these thousand people have a story behind them being there. This untold story is what intrigues me. These stories may be the beginning of something new for some; a way of life for some others and the end of the familiar for the rest. All the thousand stories may share nothing in common except the place which is an integral part to their stories . I like to observe these people from a distance and imagine their stories. Though the made up stories are often times more inaccurate than i choose to accept,this can be a weirdly entertaining activity. Of course these stories are based on the expression that the person wears on his face and the clothes that s/he wears.

It makes you think , how similar life is to a train. You go from one station to another sometimes happy, sometimes sad , sometimes just impassive, but constantly moving without stopping cause the only constant in life is change.

Choo Choo…goes the train of life.

Cheers!

The curse of a daydreamer

Sitting in class , bored, trying to pay attention to the teacher talking about the repercussions of the economic policies of 1991  . Without warning , the door blasts open with a ear splitting noise and blinding dust! We hear screams and loud voices followed by a person shuffling his way into the classroom. As the dust settles we see the figure of a veiled man with an Ak-47(because everybody knows what an AK-47 looks like )in his hand take form. He instructs us to cooperate or face dire consequences .I  fortunately know how to fight an armed person  and see this as the perfect opportunity to impress my crush. Just as i am about to make my move i feel the hand of my friend slap me back into the real world where life is a lot more mundane, where i am just a pudgy kid who struggles to even hurt a fly!

This story had played multiple times in my head with every new revision gaining a new and interesting detail.As i grew older the daydreams became a lot more detailed and varied with the new situations I found myself  in. The daydreams range from me having a secret mafia life (where I go by the name: Carlos De la Vega) -to me being able to play any string instrument -to something as simple as a mechanic who builds his own vehicles.  Ya …. I am a lot more interesting in my head!

It has become so easy for me to lose myself in these daydreams no matter what the situation. Sometimes i get so involved in these daydreams that it takes me time to come back to reality. All of this might make me sound like a total psychopath but I am pretty sure I am not the only one who daydreams this much.

The bright side of being able daydream is that I am constantly entertained even in the most boring situations.Day dreaming has helped me develop an active imagination which does help me sometimes in life (3D geometry is where the party is at !).  But of course its not all sunshine and rainbows. The  curse of daydreaming is that reality becomes a lot less interesting .I know I am done day dreaming only once i realize how pathetic I am to be thinking of situations that I will never find myself in, conversations that will never take place and experiences that may or may not take form.

To all the few readers out there questioning my sanity, dont mistake me to be crazy  ( said every crazy person ever). Daydreaming is just a sort of escapade that sometimes helps me face reality no matter how harsh or different. Its not something that i take pride in but I do enjoy abusing this “ability” (lets just call it that) every once in a while. The end goal of every day dream is to keep me entertained and seldom impress somebody in my close vicinity(ya i am an attention whore sometimes). Its all just fun and games !

Cheers !

 

Why Pondicherry is the “chillest” place to visit!

Chilling

verb

definition- a cool way of telling someone you sat around doing nothing and feel awesome about it!

Picture this – a dark sky along a coast that is decorated with rocks,that look like ornaments on an already beautiful woman, the cold water splashes against the rocks making one of the most melodious symphonies, the sky begins to turn the lightest color of orange as the stars begin to fade. The sea gulls begin their quest to feed as they glide over the surface of the now orange waters. Now you see the familiar curvature of the Sun begin to take shape and as time passes this tiny segment turns into a beautiful orange sphere , where the water meets the sky. Now you truly understand the meaning of beauty as you stare into the orange abyss.

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Late night at Rock beach- best place to “chill”!

 

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an edited picture of Sunrise at Rock beach

What I described above was an unjust account of sunrise on Rock beach(Promenade beach) in Pondy !

 

Pondicherry or as I like to call it poor man’s Goa or Pondy ,is home to many different cultures, though this is not surprising for India, what sets Pondy apart is its French  influence owing to the French colonization prior to independence. You don’t have to be an architect to notice and appreciate the style of architecture that is prominent in these parts.

If you just want to go from place to place to just sit and do nothing, Pondicherry is the place for you. I happened to ask a local about indigenous items and food that Pondy is famous for and without missing a beat the first thing that came out of his mouth was – Saraka (which means Booze 😛 ). The booze in pondy is cheap as it is a union territory. Only upon further digging did I find out that Pondy has a wide variety of sea food too! So if you want to get sloshed but not spend a lot of money then Pondi is the place for you.

There are many Italian restaurants here and we happened to visit one called Italian dhaba , which unlike many other Italian restaurants in the area , serves authentic Italian food.Most of the other Italian restaurants serve food that is modified to suit the Indian palette .  The chef here is a very social and chatty Italian woman who keeps great company. So if you have any queries about the place  she will help you with a smile and excellent pasta.Another place that serves great pizza is Auro pizza which is a local pizzeria with a great chef. The pizzas served are woodfire pizzas that are amazing . So if you are one that can appreciate good food and company then Pondy, my friend, is the place for you.

Picturesque scenery + great food + cheap booze + amazing company = CHILL TRIP

Visiting Pondi is one of the best short trips anyone can ever ask for. It is the best weekend getaway with or without company. The place redefines the art of chilling.

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The Travellers high

 

Just a couple of months ago i was conversing with some of my friends about life goals. Turns out 8 out of 10(me included) wanted to get filthy rich and travel the world. This got me thinking – What was it about travelling and seeing a new place that gives so many people butterflies in their stomachs ? Why did travelling hold so much promise and feel like an escapade from our  lives? Why does travelling and making new friends in a land far far away feel so empowering ?

A couple of months later I was standing on the banks of Pangong Lake (Pangong Tso ) in Kashmir, India. Its waters were clear and the view was picturesque and beautiful. There were birds flying right over the lake , the water bed was decorated with beautiful pebbles . The clear and calm water placed right in between the towering mountain ranges made it feel like  paradise . It was at that moment that all my questions were answered.
People travel to experience something new.

I like to travel because of experiences such as these. I like to travel to experience something beautiful and unique. I like to travel for the feeling that makes all my problems seem so trivial and unnecessary. I like to call this intoxicating feeling -The Traveller’s high

Right after Pangong lake our driver (who was a native of leh) took us to his house and chatted with us  over a cup of chai and arak(which is a local alcoholic drink brewed at homes) while his daughter entertained us with music. I being a city dweller all my life was taken aback by his family’s hospitality especially since we were strangers to each other just two days ago. It is for meetings like these that i love to travel.

Travelling to new places is an escapade from our ever so monotonous lives ,it makes life worth living. This traveller’s high is addictive and the thirst for it , like any other drug ,can only be quenched by by abusing it more .

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leh

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Why so complicated ?

What is identity? What makes you – you and me – me , when all we are just is a complex chemical globular mass trying to reproduce more of our species. Each of our chemical constituents can be broken down into atoms and atoms further in to protons, neutrons and electrons….and yet we identify ourselves as a separate being on this immensely vast universe !! WOooo  *exhales smoke*…time to pass the joint!

Before jobs , money ,social status , science , education, fast food restaurants , burgers , pasta ,buildings, ships,cars,war ,nations,terrorism,religion,feminism,nazism…… our only objective on this universe was to procreate- contribute to our species to try and make a more perfect version of ourselves. How in the world did we as a species complicate something that was so simple and easy ?

Wouldnt it be better to go back to simpler times when the biggest problem of my day was trying to make myself a home in a cave or start a fire ? It is quite ironical that i am talking about simpler times when i am typing this on my laptop which is clearly a product of hundred of years of technological advancement!

Maybe all of this is just my pre exam anxiety talking but atleast right now what i just wrote makes a lot more sense than the working of IC 741 as an astable multi-vibrator.

The hills where I lost myself

15Among the green hills of this virgin land lay a beautiful monastery , completely oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the cities just a few hundred kilometers south. I never was a person who could appreciate images but I am sure that the beauty of what lay in front of me could even make the loudest of men go mute. This sight was just one of many -now just distant memories that I long to relive. As a person who has been brought up in the city all my life I crave for simplicity. Though it is easy for one to say this as he is typing into a laptop that costs a fortune , an internet connection with satisfactory speed and electricity throughout the day. It is  funny why the grass is always greener on the other side ( literally as well as metaphorically in this case).

My trip to Sikkim was nothing short of breathtaking . Every spot that we stopped had a story of its own .This beautiful state in the north eastern side of India has a surprising amount of beauty that gives you an almost intoxicating rush!

The whole state is covered with lush green mountains topped with snowy clouds covering their tips.Buddhism is one of the most practiced religion in these parts, which obviously means that there are many monasteries here . There was a kind of peace surrounding the entire place one that made you appreciate silence. I flirted with the idea of considering Buddhism as my religion of choice. I eventually dropped this idea as soon as i realized that Buddhists need to refrain from worldly pleasures like alcohol.

The highlight of the trip for me was watching an old man singing and playing a peculiar string instrument(which i later found out was called an Ektara ) outside one of the monasteries that we visited . The man was singing an old ballad in the native Sikkimese language. I didn’t understand a word the man was saying but I truly enjoyed listening to him. Which just goes to say that music transcends all communication barriers. There was something about that encounter that left me enlightened and happy for the rest of the trip.

I went to the north east with no idea of what to expect, I came back leaving a part of myself in those beautiful hills, picturesque waterfalls and  exquisite monasteries.

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The Mysterious

 

Some old mystics believed that there are two parts to the human mind -one that is intuitive and one that is rational. The rational mind is what discriminates and divides everything while the intuitive one tries to find the oneness with the universe.

The universe is one of the most mysterious things that i have ever come across . Some people believe that things in the universe function the way they function because it is part of the grand design of a supernatural creator-one they claim we meet after death . But there are some others who believe that our very existence on this earth is nothing more than a probabilistic coincidence. Theories have been formulated on both these schools of thought. Where one school surmised their beliefs with images of supernatural beings and superstitions, the other tried to explain the world we live in through mathematical equations and theories. Both schools despise the other but dont realise that maybe there is a truth in both of their thoughts.

As an aspiring engineer and innovator my thoughts agree more with the latter, which was a huge disappointment to some. Being brought up in an orthodox god-fearing family the very thought of trying to find reason in doing things raises way too many eyebrows. But i must admit that there is some truth in the teachings of my religious forefathers. There is something about visiting a “holy” place that gives me a sense of calm and i am sure that the calm i feel is not because of the idols i am surrounded with, but rather with the environment created in these places . But religion -as much as i hate to admit – has given me a sense of right and wrong. It has taught me many morals that i have come to use in my daily life. I choose not to follow any religion, not because i completely despise religion but largely because of the hate and suffering that religion has caused to mankind over the years. I personally feel that man has failed himself as a species by discriminating on the basis of religion,race,colour and “nationality”.

In contrast to this science has given me a more holistic insight about – the universe we are part of , the world we live in and the organisms we share it with. Science has shown me that the reason why some of us have a dark complexion is because we have more melanin in our bodies. Science has help me predict the trajectory of the laser that i point at a mirror. the late Dr. Feynman’s theory about the sum over histories has proven to me that our very existence in this universe boils down to  numbers that are governed by a probability!  Quantum physics has shown me how uncertain measurements become as the size of our subject decreases. The bucky-ball experiment conducted by 2 Austrian scientists has shown me that there could have been another version of me playing lead next to Brian Johnson rocking out to TNT ! Unfortunately the probability of that happening was extremely small in comparison to the probability of me sitting in this crammed hostel blogging on this site. It is proofs such as these that have helped me clear my qualms about the universe.

Though all these theories have helped us understand the universe , we have used that knowledge to produce way too many evils . The number of post-apocalyptic movies that have come in recent times are testimony to the extent of devastation that we can cause. Even if we are not trying to kill each other through war , we are making machines that contribute to environmental hazards such as global warming. Some have even predicted that the next world war will be for  water. Even after discovering some secrets of something as beautiful as this universe we have time and again proven that we cannot live without harming other people or the environment that we live in .

Homosapien, is indeed , a very mysterious species!

The Dilemma

 

“The whole world is like a book, when you don’t travel you only read a page”

Said some cool guy who has been quoted so many times that his name has become less important. this is one of the many quotes that actually made some sense to me at a very young age. To lead a life of travel has been a dream of mine as far back as i can remember . there is something about exploring a new place that gives me butterflies in my stomach . the opportunity to meet new people with different cultures and beliefs gives me a better perspective about my own matters in life. as intriguing and exciting as the “lone traveller ” experience sounds, i personally believe that it is the companionship of the people that we meet at a new place that really makes it more appealing and adds on to the total travel experience .

why is it that the human mind always wants what is so hard to get?  When all I wanted in my life was to travel why have the new variables of responsibility changed my priorities? Here I am standing at this crossroad of my life debating on which way to go. Why have these new aspects in my life influenced my decision of what and who i want to become ? On one side lies the life of an educated scholar who wishes to learn,who wakes up every morning with a resolve to learn something new and interesting and use that knowledge to influence human society and on the other side lies the happy-go-lucky vagabond who just wants to get piss drunk and have stories to tell to newly found friends at a new residence.

Maybe there is a path which makes these two paths meet, which at this moment and time seems very unlikely.I do wish to learn a lot, I want to help my society but I don’t want to do it by overshadowing the dream I wanted to live ever since i was a 10 year old kid watching “No Reservations” on travel and living . Visiting Sikkim this summer has helped with my priorities as a traveller but it has also made me realize that any decision I make with my life affects the people around me. These are the people who want to be proud of me but are disappointed with the way i have turned out.
why are things that seem so simple and clear to me, seem so distorted and unordered to them? It is so hard to have a conversation with people whose minds and attitudes towards life are stern and incorrigible .

Is there a solution ? Is there a mutual consensus that we can agree upon ? Can I travel both paths? I guess only time will decide…