Monday, March 16, 2009

The Pale Blue Dot

Last week I got results of my interview for MBA entrance and I could not get through. This particular institute was my last hope as I got interview calls from only one other institute besides this out of several entrance exams I wrote . I was pretty depressed/frustrated/angry with myself and was pretty much convinced that I'm a big loser who has no future.
Whenever I am going through troubled times, my policy of getting out of it is to look at the bigger picture, to zoom out and get a better perspective. I was going through similar introspective period when I remembered something written by renowned scientist and astronomer Carl Sagan I had read some time ago , which had given me great hope. I googled and read the whole thing again, and it gave me a new perspective about the world around and how insignificant we are in the bigger scheme of things. So I thought I shall share the same experience with everyone.

The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken by Voyager 1 from a distance of 6 billion kilometers. In this picture you can see the entire solar system and the earth is seen as a small tiny point against the sea of blackness.

In a commencement address given on May 11, 1996 Carl Sagan talked about his understanding of the deeper meaning of the photograph. Few excerpts..
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

We keep going through the motions of our daily life, without taking a moment to sit back and look around. We are so busy getting to the destinations that we forget to enjoy the journey. We are so self obsessed and self involved that we forget how insignificant and helpless we are in front of the vastness of the universe! We consider ourselves the center of universe and forget that we are just a small drop in the large ocean of time!

So next time when you didn't do so well in your appraisal, or you failed to clear the entrance exam or interview, or your proposal was rejected by some boy/girl, or you are simply feeling low, just make someone smile and that shall be your biggest contribution in making the pale blue dot a better place to live!

If you want to listen to Carl Sagan's thoughts Click Here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What do I write about??

It's been quite a while since my last blog, and although there has been quite a few topics which have stimulated my thoughts, my laziness seems to be getting the better of me more often.So after a long gap I thought of updating the blog with all the beautiful ideas floating around in my mind, and I was hopeful that I'll come up with a gem of an article, a masterpiece in blogs.

But alas I seem to be cursed with a similar bane as Karna; I can't pin down even one idea out of all the great ideas floating around in my mind when I need it most. But since I had already started writing I decided to complete the article with whatever I could. So if you are reading ahead in the hope that you'll find something useful here then I suggest you close this window and get on with your work.

If you are still reading then either you are a great fan of my writing or you don't have enough work in life. In either case thank you for reading, but if your manager catches you reading this then I'm not responsible.
Maybe this is what they call writer's block!! So if I have achieved a writer's block does that mean I have become a writer?? Naah.. it takes more than a writer's block to become a writer.

Speaking about writers reminds me of my favorite author Agatha Christie(AC). I was reading one of her novels yesterday, been reading it for around 7-8 years now. Now she is someone whom I consider a true genius. If you haven't read any of her novels yet (and you like to call yourself a fan of fiction writing) then I suggest you first kick yourself in the rear and next go to your nearest library or bookstore and get your hands on any one of her books! You'll find many murder mystery writers out there but none like Dame Agatha. The best part about her writing is the her characters, whom she portrays with such realism that you can almost see them before your eyes.Writing murder mysteries is tricky business, many have tried their hand at it and failed miserably. The toughest part is to keep the reader interested, without letting the cat out of the bag. And thats where AC scores . She'll keep giving you hints about all the characters and finally when you've suspected all the possible people the murderer will turn out to be someone you least expect to be. And one more great virtue of her writing is that you can't deduce the killer by elimination theory*. It takes great clarity of thought and imagination to think so far ahead and create the entire plot in your mind before putting it on paper. I guess AC must have been a great observer of people and behavior because the detail in which she etches out her characters is simply mind blowing!! I can go on and on about AC's writing but guess I've spoken enough about her already! So stop reading this stupid blog and go get yourself a copy of her novel. If you'd like to know more about AC then Click Here.

So there it is, one more blog completed. I started with nothing to write about and ended up talking about Agatha Christie! Kinda like life where you want to go somewhere and end up going somewhere else!! Hopefully I'll be able to write something more useful next time.

May you live in interesting times!!

*Elimination theory is a way of deduction where we keep eliminating all the characters who are somehow connected to the murder and in the end the one having no connection with the murder is the murderer.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Big Bang

Well I know this one is coming almost a month late, but better late than never!!

Seeing the title of this post most of you will immediately think about the big bang experiment conducted by scientists near the French Swiss border last September. So let me make one thing clear in the beginning itself, this post does not intend to give any scientific details about the Big Bang experiment(although I would like to mention that the experiment has now been stopped due to faulty electrcal wiring, which most of the newspapers didn't cover!).

Most of my college friends would know we have a special bond with the big bang, as most of our jokes used to end with big bang only :). To know how, kindly wait for my post on that topic. Don't know when i'll write it but i'll write someday surely.

Coming back to the topic, the big bang experiment wasn't the only bang last month, blasts all across India too caused quite a bang!! And thats what led me to think about the irony-In an age where one part of humanity is rising above the differences of cast, creed, colour and religion, another part is busy killing people for no apparent reason.

If the situation wasn't so sad it would have been funny. We are trying to find out the origins of universe when we fail to undertand the motives of these so called freedom fighters. We don't even know when the next blast will occur or how many innocent people will be killed but we know when the positrons will collide with each other to recreate history!

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against conduting scientific experiments that cost the moon, if anything I thing such landmark experiments ignite the imagination of an entire generation and inspire them to do greater things in their own small way(see what moon landing did to America)!!

The most alarming part is that as long as our family and friends are safe we don't care much about it. Another blast, few more people dead, few more ministers will condemn the attack, few more debates in parliament and few more days of living in fear but eventually life goes on normally for us (at least thats how my thinking goes). We have learnt to live with it. We say that "life goes on " and that "its best to move on with life" but till when? And as much as we say that it hasn't affected us as a nation and that we are still united country but the cracks are becoming more and more visible.

Ask people around you and you will be alarmed to see how many of them think that there is fundamentally something wrong in other religions thats why even a common guy from that religion is killing innocent people. Thats exactly what these blasts are aimed at-creating doubts in people's minds about each other and breaking their trust on each other. I had a heated discussion with my mum on the same topic and was saddened to see that She being so educated had let such criminally wrong thoughts to enter her mind. Same was the case with few of my friends. If thats the case with a common middle class educated person I can imagine how easily our " political leaders" turn the gullible uneducated mass against each other.

I've stated too many problems here..but whats the solution?? Frankly speaking even i don't know. But I think our only hope lies in trust and faith. Trust others and have faith within yourself, only then we'll be able to save ourselves from another Big Bang that'll wipe out humanity!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

FOUR DEGREES OF FRIENDSHIP

Yesterday i was out with a friend in a mall just loitering around when we saw a guy we "just knew" from college. What should you do when you bump into someone you "just know", as in not too well to go and hug but you also cant ignore him completely.
The chain of events starts with the meeting of eyes. Now this where you get caught in the trap, once the eyes are locked then a slight smile curves up on your lips and you both walk up to each other, each waiting for other to ask some ice breaking question first. The usual one is "How are you?", but nowdays its been replaced by a single word "Wassup??". Then few obvious question like "What r u doing?" or "Where are you nowdays?". The toughest part starts when these questions have been answered. An awkward silence follows where each one brainstorms to think of the next question. But unable to think of anything you hope that your "aquaintance " is in a hurry and will spare you the guilt of saying "gotta go buddy!". Or you desperately pray to God to make your phone ring and let you escape. But God is a very funny man, so your phone doesn't ring and you only have to plan your escape from that place.

The key to avoid the whole torture is to stop the eyes from meeting. If you can avoid the eyes then you are safe and sound and no one can ever trap you into talking more than you want to. And as you might've guessed by now thats what my friend and i did to get away from our "aquaintance".

Now this small incidence got me thinking, what kind of feelings can a person generate in us. And after contemplating for a long time i could safely divide these feelings into four degrees which i call "THE FOUR DEGREES OF FRIENDSHIP". These four degrees are:-

1.)The fourth degree -The "Where is exit door?" degree
If you know people who make you turn back and run as fast as possible then you will know the meaning of this genre. And if you dont know such people then ...you are lying:-).
Whenever i ask such people "how are you?" i desperately hope that they answer "Down in the dumps." or "never been worse.". I totally hate the guts of such people and wish that they must be wiped off the face of the planet for the good of humankind.
Now some of my friends will definetely want to know names of persons who give rise to such emotions in me but to them i say-you'll never get it out of me!

2.)The third degree-The "Hi-Bye" degree
Friends belonging to this category are yet to judged, that is if they give positive vibes they will be promoted to the next degree and in case of negative response pushed down unceremoniously to degree four.
When we ask such people "How are you?" we do so with no feelings whatsoever and it doesn't matter if they are doing well or not. The conversation can last upto a maximum of 5-10 min after which becomes a cumbersome exercise you want to get over with asap.

3.)The second degree-The "Oh my god i'm so happy to see you!!" degree
It really feels good to meet someone from this category, generally these are old close friends whom we meet after a long time.
When we ask these people "how are you?" we genuinely wish that they are doing good and are happy in their lives. Most of the times the conversation last an entire evening ending only with a promise that we should meet more often.

4.)The first degree-The "Dont say anything." degree
These are the people who make life worth the effort. They are the closest friends we have a.k.a. "the best friend" . Generally they are very few in number so are very precious.
We don't have to ask them "how are you?" because one glance at their face is enough to let you know the kind of day they are having. The silence shared with these people says more than thousand words and conversations are not bound by strings of time.

Thats it..these are my four categories of friends! I think most of us have large number of friends of degree two and three few in degree four and even lesser in degree one. Because degree one type relationships take a lot of time to form and once we have such friends we should try not to lose them for our whole lives.

So cheers to the best human relationship called "friendship" and cheers to friends. Till next time be good and do good.:)

Friday, November 30, 2007

MY FIRST BLOG!!

FINALLY!!

After many failed attempts to organize my thoughts into a decent paragraph (more out of my laziness than anything else!!), i'm writing my first blog!!
First things first-it does feel good to write and publish something, and then force your friends through the torture of reading it:-)
Few warnings-Don't worry about typos, you'll find many. And don't look for good content , you'll find none!
Now what can my esteemed readers expect to read in my blog??Well actually even i'm not sure about that.It could be anything under the sun(or moon for that matter).Whatever stimulates my mind to an extent that i push myself out of my dormant state, switch on the comp, log on to net and pres the keys on keyboard finds itself in this blog.It could be the socio-political scene of the nation or just the beaytiful early morning weather.
So people if you like what you read then i am always happy to write more, but if you don't like it then you are welcome to click on the small button at the righmost top corner of your screen!!
So much for nows guys..Untill next blog!
(P.S.-All the comments in this blog are my own but i still don't take any responsibility for them!)