Jul 20, 2015

Getting past the sky

Kaun kehta hai ki aasmaan mein suraakh ho nahin sakta,

ek pathhar toh tabiyat se uchhaalo yaaron.

I had no idea these lines existed.

Can't stop thinking past it. Unabashed optimism and derring-do. Something that I doubt I have ever experienced or used. Can't remember if there was a time where I could have thrown a stone "with conviction".

Sky or not, but it just zipped past my defences.

Now how to make going to read Dushyant Kumar a priority?

(from Varun Grover's article about using this poet's lines in "Masaan")

Jun 15, 2015

The Magna Carta Joke

From about the age of 10, I could remember that the historic signing of the Magna Carta happened in the year 1215. How? Thanks to this joke which I read in Reader's Digest:

A tourist guide is with a group of visitors at Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed. He tells them: "this is where the Magna Carta, or the Great Charter, was signed in 1215.

One visitor looks at his watch and remarks: "Damn, we just missed it by about an hour, then".

Jun 8, 2015

"Genome" by Matt Ridley

"Genome" is undoubtedly one of those books that will change the way you look at the world and yourselves. The triumph of the book is keeping the matter accessible to lay readers, without dumbing the import down. Though I thought Ridley's discipline ran out towards the last couple of chapters in terms of accessibility, it's still something you should pick up at the earliest.

After all, it's your "Autobiography in 23 Chapters" (Flipkart link here).

May 18, 2015

San Diego Zoo and the suffocation of choice a.k.a the buffet problem

Visited San Diego Zoo, considered by many to be among the best zoos in the world. There's always something conflicting about zoos: on one hand, however gilded the cage, the animals are in captivity, but on the other, we get to be so close to them and feel why its worth conserving as many of them as possible (which this zoo is also famous for).

Saw my first ever gorilla, toucan, and polar bear (partial list here). It's also one of the most accessible outdoor spaces I've ever seen, with even an escalator segment that helps you navigate some of the steeper parts of the zoo.

We must have seen about 40-50% of the zoo, given the size of the campus. That's pretty much the most you can do in 4-6 hours, especially with children in tow. Which means you have to choose. With a dazzling array of choices, this act is very difficult. You have this problem at large buffets and bookstores (ok, *I* have this anxiety at bookstores).

People have been studying the problems of abundance - when we can't have it all, it makes us uneasy, for making a choice implies saying no to something else, and thus a potential loss - what if you made the wrong choice?

Sheena Iyengar's book Buy The Art Of Choosing sums this up nicely.

Apr 9, 2015

The usefulness of naivete

Just completed an exercise of collating all the questions we did for Doolally's weekly pub quiz in 2014. Realised how much our thinking has changed, evolved, even transmogrified since Jan 2014.

And how naive, new, and noble we once were! But it's good to know that state of mind, which accompanies anything that you begin from zero, can be rediscovered. Gives you a chance to refresh and scrape off cynicism accumulated in other aspects of life.

Passive Aggressive

The great thing about passive voice in bureaucratic writing is how it allows for the person doing the writing to not attribute any responsibility to any persons(s).

"It has been decided to remove access to xyz"

Not "I have decided" or "we have decided", but "it has been". Borderline euphemistic, don't-come-complaining-to-me. Blame the ether.