Nov 25, 2012

Learning a different language of the body

I am going to write today about how I learnt a different language of the body recently. Please note I am not using the phrase ‘body language’. It should aptly be the ‘language of the body’. Is there a difference? There should be in the context I am going to speak. Language is a form of expression and general perception typically confines it to the limits of linguistics. When we explore beyond the conventional, we shall be amazed to know how many languages are out there around us – that which we never consciously take notice of ever in our lives. There are languages of the tongue, which we all are familiar with. There are languages of the eyes, which people in love know to speak. There are languages of computers, which coders and programmers manipulate for a living. There are languages of the soul, which philosophers tend to. And then there are languages of the body, which the human body learns to express. 

Dancers, Gymnasts, Actors and even martial arts experts will tell you what this language of the body thing is. It is an expression of the body, with a meaning, structure and grammar on its own. It has to be learned like any other language. It can be used to communicate to and fro with people who know the same language. The language of the body that I am going to talk about today is that of swimming and my terrain is a swimming pool in the summer vacations where I signed up for a swimming course at the age of 21.

Sep 19, 2012

Melancholy, guilt and sexuality - a WTK report

Ever felt so melancholic about the ill-fate hunger serves to countless souls and stomachs across the world? If yes, your melancholy could have possibly been caused because you took an extra serving of dessert at a friend’s party a few years earlier. This is hypothesised as per a gentleman named Christian Heinroth’s (1773-1843) views on melancholy as a psychic disorder. I shall be talking more about his theory in this post later. At least my mind can easily digest that there can be some reason in his proposed relation between the dessert and hunger. What it cannot easily gulp down is another gentleman named Shlomo Sigismund Freud’s view that an intensely repressed sexual instinct could have prompted you to take the extra serving of dessert that night. The world knows this gentleman better as Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) – the father of psychoanalytics.

Err... I have been reading an interesting and very heavy (size-wise and content-wise) book called ‘Sigmund Freud & The science of psychoanalytics’ recently. I know it sounds a bit weird but I can assure you all of my mental health while writing this post. It is a passing reference to Heinroth and his work in the book that stimulated this thought in me that has emanated as this article. Yes.. now you may understand what the WTK means. If you can bear with this kolaveri, read on further. 

Aug 5, 2012

Why every entrepreneur should read Harry Potter

A quick question to start with – Have you read the Harry Potter books already? If yes, you will not need my help with the Potter jargon and you might as well find this post interesting, especially if you are an entrepreneur of some sorts, considering the angle in which I have tried to bring out this article. If you haven’t read it yet, I would recommend it if you have the habit of reading and I can give you an assurance that it is not, as per the general perception of most non-readers, an over-rated childish story.

I always have a special feeling about Harry Potter and I just feel that the time has not come yet for it to be unanimously accepted by all reading community as a classic. This is a usual problem that many contemporaries face since the work would not have been time-tested yet. People would have even debated about the quality of Iliad or Ulysses or the Lord of the Rings series when they were initially published. As they withstood the test of time and passed on to our generations, we accept their classic status without a question and some even go on to stack them in the most inaccessible corners of our book shelves.

In my native language Tamil, I can draw the analogy of the most recent cult-classic- Kalki’s ‘Ponniyin Selvan’, which was initially published as a long and continuous story in a magazine that came every week. I can imagine how the story would have fascinated readers back then and made them waiting for the next edition of the magazine to catch the story’s next chapter. This is a fascinating story that made me sit and read about 2000 pages at one go in 3-4 days. I can see the pride in some old timers even now when they say that they read the Ponniyin Selvan in the magazine version and that pride emanates from being a contemporary witness to a classic in its creation stage. Many of them have even went on to name their kids after certain lead characters in Ponniyin Selvan. For all we know, we might be the generation that names their kids Harry, Albus or Severus* and speak proudly about the experience of waiting for the release of the next Potter book in the future.

May 12, 2012

The bald truth about cynicism

One question before you read anything in this post. Please take a paper and pencil and list down the ten most cynical men you have met in your life. He can be a famous cynical celebrity; your school's principal; or even your distantly related uncle who has staunch doubts about the Indian economy and your company's future in particular (though he thinks that the MNC where his son works is well hedged against all risks). Now that you have written down the names, count the number of bald men in this list. How many did you get?

If you are at any stage of balding yourself, I bet you will cynically complain about the purpose of this exercise, question my sanity and move on to the next complaint. If not, there are bright chances that your answer contained more than half of names in that list. Why did we do this exercise? Let me take a little detour. I had a recent conversation with a very cynical man on a very sensitive topic. What started as a conversation turned into an argument before culminating in a long 'there is no hope' sermon which I was forced to sit out. Thankfully though, halfway into the sermon, this sudden hypothesis struck me and it seems to grow in logic with time as I think of it. Can baldness be related to cynicism in men ?

As I thought further, most cynical people whom I know turn out to be bald, though the corollary does not seem very convincing. Most cynics are bald. All bald men are not cynics.

Apr 18, 2012

My bucket list of biking

Image : Thanks to Michael Wilson photography
Motorcycles and horses have a very close similarity in my thinking and they fascinate me equinely - oops .. equally ! I do not know which passion came first but they feed one another mutually with petrol and oats and a lot of dreams. I admired bikers and horsemen alike when I was a kid and as I grew up, I learned to ride one of them and the other one still remains a distant admiration. Considering that I had to wait till I was 18 and officially approved by the state to ride a bike as per my uber-cautious parents, riding a horse seems quite a distance away in my life yet. But I still have a strong hope on the fuel prices and I am just waiting for the day when I can ride my own horse to work :-) If I were to make a bucket list of things to do before I die, horse-riding will definitely figure in that list (the Marina beach horse rides are only teasers and they strictly do not fill this bill). So, that sets aside the status and story of one passion for now. As you read on further, you will be introduced to my bucket list of biking - things that I have planned to do at various stages in my life associated with motorcycles and my current status for them respectively.

Feb 10, 2012

Bike and trek to bliss – Chennai to Tada falls

It’s been a long while since I set out on a bike trip after two memorable previous experiences. Moreover I was waiting for the first adventure road trip on my ‘own’ bike too. A lot of plans came and went and finally the wait got a deserving due. Recently I accomplished a road trip to Tada falls (Andhra – Tamil Nadu border) from Chennai and trekked all the way upto the highest point we could touch in that hill. This story summarises that great experience.

The seeds for this trip were sown abroad. A friend (Vasu) of a friend (Anand) who studies abroad (ya... the same geeky GRE MS route after B Tech in Biotechnology) came back home recently. He was impressed by the movie Zindagi na milegi dobara and was planning such a trip with his friends. Anand, who is my colleague too, was browsing for a lot of such adventure tourism places in the 200 km radius of Chennai- mostly during office hours- and thus I came to know of it. Bugged by the bait, I also threw my hat in the ring for that trip. Hats came in plenty very soon into the ring. My friend Danie, who knows neither Anand nor Vasu, heard of this and he too joined in. Danie spread the word and his friends whom I do not know also planned to join. Eventually, we finalised the date and venue with exactly 20 people and 10 bikes to conquer Tada Falls. Funnily, the longest distance in degrees of acquaintance among these 20 turned out to be 4. Yes, connect any of Danie’s friends to Vasu! Try that. Thus we planned for everything and were excited about this trip with great scope for biking, trekking and befriending new people.

Jan 12, 2012

(V)ada paavi !!

Foreword: This post is about a sticky situation I experienced in a North Indian city. To be precise, the city is Pune and I recently understood that people there tend to feel bad when some Southie calls them ‘North’ Indians. Well, please remember what Einstein had to say: ‘It’s all relative, brother’. I am a Hindi-illiterate South Indian whose Hindi knowledge is limited to a few movie names (courtesy: The Khans); ‘Keval ek run milega’ sort of cricket commentaries (courtesy: Doordarshan); some swear words (courtesy: Virat Kohli and Harbhajan Singh) and the ABCD stuff like ‘Thumara naam kya hai? Mera nam blah blah blah hai’ (courtesy: Margoschis Matriculation School , upto 7th standard). Apart from the poor farmer who lives in that famous Hindi village – some Tamilians say his name is Ragu Thatha – I have no acquaintances either in the Hindi speaking land.

You might have read a few open letters in the blogosphere before and my introduction would have already created the urge in you to grab the nearest available Vel Kambu or lathi -depending on your location-  to prepare for battle. If that be the case, I kindly request you to drop them immediately and focus your mind instead on a degree kaapi or dhai lassi – again depending on your location – and then read on. This post is about a Vada paav and an Appavi (roughly translated to a poor innocent man in Tamil) based on a small language problem. If you still refuse to embrace ahimsa, read my epilogue, make sure you forget my name and immediately close this page.  

Once upon a time in the recent past, I got an opportunity to visit Pune for the first time in my life. The northern most place in India I had ever visited prior to that was Bangalore.  The city threw the usual surprises at me as any new place would do for a first timer. Only Pune seemed to have a unique style and flavour of its own to do so – the paan! It was omnipotent, like God. While I could see paan stains everywhere, I also witnessed another feature of the Almighty through my mobile phone. Just like God, my mobile service provider’s network signal also teased me in that big city. It would never show itself to me and just when I start to lose heart and contemplate atheism, it would give me a fleeting vision and then disappear. There was no network coverage even in the city’s main locations. Even if every friend is important to me, this restricted me from calling any of my friends when I am in dire need of location or translation assistance.