Mind It, Oh Mindless One!

The intricacies of the human mind perplex me. Considering the stupidity running amok around us, I find it hard to believe that we are the most evolved ones around. Now this one is not going to be about what people like or dislike. There are those who don’t like Tarantino or Nolan and those who like white trash or Indian rap trash music. Yes, I judge them but I wouldn’t call them stupid. No, this one digs a tad deeper. It’s about those who are behaviourally stupid. The purest and most innate form of stupidity that is unyielding and incorruptible.

The thing is that this behavioural stupidity is wrought so deep in our mind that we don’t even realize it. I mean I do because I am writing this post after all but majority don’t :P. For instance, we made a law to make people wear seatbelts, to make them wear helmets, to make them not to drive under the influence of alcohol (or substance). Do people care enough to obey them? No! But print “Hand Wash Only” on the back of a T-shirt, and people will follow it as if it came from the mouth of a Fifth Dimensional Being! You have to realize that something went wrong over the course of evolution when you have to pass laws and make not following basic safety, a punishable offence.

There are some valid reasons people have for not following basic safety rules. Mind you, these are actual statements of some very real and surprisingly alive people. “Helmets mess up my hairstyle”, “Seatbelts put a crease on my dress, I just had it ironed”, “Daru peeke tez car nahi chalayi, toh kya hi kiya life mein (If you haven’t ever driven under the influence of alcohol then what have you achieved in life)” are a few of the awesome reasons.

And the best part is that we do wear seatbelts and helmets in a different setting. Oh yeah, seatbelt in an airplane and helmet while skydiving. Because nothing protects a human being falling from 20000 feet like a seatbelt and a helmet!

I realize now that this post has become a tad more of a tirade than a humorous post. But if this makes you wear a helmet and drive sober, I would say “Mischief Managed”

 

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Of Food, Culture and Something Deeper

Cooking, I believe is one of the few things that dances on such a slippery ground around the fine line between Art and Science. There is so much chemistry and maths behind a well-executed dish. At the same time, it is a pure test of your sensory imagination to plate something that lights up your eyes and tastes divine at the same time. And add to that, there is this air of mystery around it when you consider all the starkly contrasting flavors that pair together resulting in pure decadence. Like Chocolate and Orange or Caramel and Chilli for that matter. And this is why I love cooking.

But the food world has gone a notch higher. It has transcended cultures across the world in terms of marrying different indigenous styles of cooking to different indigenous ingredients. So we end up with something like an Octopus Curry or a Beef Madras at one end of the spectrum and Paneer Stroganoff at the other. And the best part is that the food world continues to push the envelope to come up with dishes (pardon the sexual connotation ahead) that are an orgasm in your mouth. Granted that there may be a few wacky ones borne out of this mad experimentation like a Noodles and Garam Masala. But you have to applaud the effort that goes into the attempt to inculcate something so foreign into your staple. And everything tastes delicious!

And that is what the world needs to learn. The willingness to embrace things that are alien to us and that there is no competition or ranking. People are so caught up with the love for their religion, skin color (red bell pepper tastes as good as a yellow or a green one) and the boundaries around their piece of land (read as National Pride) that they have become oblivious to the reality that someone else’s might be just as good. There is no attempt to understand each other. If you can go as far as to mix Chinese cuisine with Indian spices, maybe you can try to understand the other person’s belief. If you don’t like it, you can avoid it. Most people don’t like Blue Cheese and you don’t ever have to try it again if you didn’t like it. But you cannot create a “Paneer is better than Blue Cheese” propaganda just because you don’t like it. Similarly, there is no ranking when it comes to a religion or a skin color for that matter. There are just preferences and everyone is welcome to stick to their own

It’s a very simple world where everyone loves a piping hot plate of delicious food be it a pasta, a curry or that Indo-Chinese fusion. Eat what you like, believe what you like and stop cribbing about what the other person likes.

Bizzaro Mind

It’s no wonder that trite things seem a tad more profound when you’re not you. By “not you”, I mean a state of mind induced by a little of “something”. You might question my choice of words when I say “not you”. Actually you reflect your truest self when you are in this state. You know I got a good feeling about this post. I feel that I am going to complete this one unlike the last four which never saw the light of the day. Sorry, I digressed there for a moment. Pardon me, but isn’t it fun to digress? You explore all those unchartered avenues on potentially important issues when you digress. Think of all those remarkable discoveries/inventions that happened just because people digressed. You can say that to achieve something truly remarkable, you need to digress.
I am digressing over the topic of digress!! Gosh, I love it! Well getting back to point (somehow, my point seems boring now! Nevertheless, I am going to finish it). So I was talking about the simple things that may not be that simple but because of its apparent simplicity, we choose to ignore it (because we are ignorant and indifferent idiots). So today, the weather of Bangalore was partly sunny and partly cloudy (and my 21st floor apartment balcony gives me a very accurate estimate of the cloudy and sunny areas. I know a lot of people will consider the 21st floor thing as bragging, stick to it, and it would probably be the only thing lingering in their small minds but right now, my indifference to all those mortal instincts can bring Marcus Brutus to shame 😛 ). Sorry I digressed again. Man, this is tough. So I went to investigate this partly cloudy, partly sunny phenomenon on my Hero Ranger (Again, with the bragging). And I reach that point of transcendence from sunny to cloudy. My mind was blown! I mean, here I was standing in the warmth of the sun and I stride later, the sun was gone, disappeared into some oblivion! Also, my strides are fairly small so the point of transcendence may actually be just a line.
So with my mind blown, I returned to my apartment and started contemplating over the brilliance of nature I had just observed. Nature acts in such obscure ways but the meaning is really simple. Life can sometimes be cloudy and be sunny on other occasions. But instead of cursing or maybe ignoring the cloudy part( Cloudy = Bad/Sunny = Good, reverse the meanings if you tend walk the other path), we should actually appreciate the beauty of this transition. It shows us that life will never be the same. The different shades from sunny to cloudy actually break the monotonicity of life (which can be so dull!). So don’t be a sucker. Appreciate the different transitions in life with the same mindset as you would welcome a new opportunity!
I seem to be losing this train of thought. I am probably losing this state and I am a bit disappointed. It was difficult to reach this state and being in e-commerce for over an year, I am thinking that there can be an easier way. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could get it delivered right to your doorstep? The best part is that If it’s not there in 30 minutes, I mean, like, what is time anyway, man!

Of Opinions & Apathy

It’s been around 13 months since I have written anything. I was actually wondering when a blogger becomes an ex-blogger. Is it when your blog reminds of the deserted Wild West town alley with tumbleweeds rolling across? I could almost visualize that scene. Not too proud of it but something changed. A Not Caring attitude to a different form of Not Caring one.

The former not caring attitude was about me having a say about something and not caring about other’s opinion. I used to have an opinion in my mind, extreme negativity towards something very positive or die-hard positivity towards something deemed positive. If something happened, oh I had something to say about it. I used to be so opinionated! (Not necessarily a good thing but to me it’s still better than the general apathy).

So back then, someone would raise an issue and I would effortlessly get worked up and shoot out stuff like “The Fall of Man”, “Death to the Tyrant”, or simply “Inquilaab Zindabaad”. But nowadays it’s like defibrillator constantly charging my mind to say something and all I can manage is something like, “Well I feel that…I don’t know sometimes…”.

I have an idea what brought forth this change. Remember how enthralled you were when you visited the circus for the first time (those who haven’t, imagine something!). The awe all that chaos out there filled you with! But it’s difficult to deliver that same excitement when your life becomes one big circus. Back then, I was in the controlled environment of my college. The rarity of chaotic events made it possible to absorb it and register an opinion. But when such events become as routine as the sun in the sky, it just stops impacting you. And the increasing number of clowns around me doesn’t help either.

So when life experiences are out of the picture what else is there to write about…Politics! Back then (even though it isn’t that back), the scene was still better. There were not-so-frequent incidents you could write about. They still happened but they were rare enough to evoke a reaction. I don’t know how to portray the current Indian Political scene in a way that I am not branded a follower of a Party X by the followers of Mr. Incorruptible-Secularist-whom-even-USA-fears, Mr. Empowered-user-of-random-scientific-stuff-in-speeches or Mr. Man-bringing-change-but-ended-up-changing-himself. Let’s just say that a Twilight remake or Beiber egging the neighbours makes as much sense as what’s happening out there. A while back, I read some analogy between A Game of Thrones and Indian Politics. Never before have I ever felt a greater compulsion to wave my index and say “Never Ever, Ever Ever!”. I mean how do you even compare something which has Dragons, Wolves, Swords, Battleships, Ice-Zombies, Brainy Imp, Crotch Monsters, etc. with something which only has morphed and photoshopped images of one another. It’s not even apple and oranges. It’s more like bottle gourd and roasted chicken! (No offence to bottle gourd lovers but you get the idea, right?)

So how do you write about something as “A Clockwork Orange” as that whilst keeping your own sanity intact. It makes no sense to make fun of something that embodies the spirit and captures the true essence of the word “Ridiculous”. I could see my motto (“In the Brightest Day, In the Darkest Night, No absurdity shall escape my sight”) failing. Absurdity is the new Normal and how can you defeat Normal! I will have to scout for other genres to write about. Maybe about that transdimensional state you reach with a little help. Maybe I will change the name of the blog. Maybe Mellow Satty or something…I don’t know.

There have been outbursts though. Like looking over your shoulder becomes a second nature after a life of crime, so does being opinionated after a life full of opinions. So I end up constantly giving Gyaan to random people or post 573 worded opinions on arbitrary FB posts. Let’s see how long this stint lasts.

My Brain, My Bane

One of the prime purposes of the brain is reasoning, thinking of ways and means to adapt to any situation that we might face in our lives. However, the experiences I have had with mine tell a different tale. I believe that my brain is this devious sinister personality whose sole aim in life is to screw me around.

For instance, I was in an argument, a while back. The other guy pitched a point against me. Instead of retorting with a clever comeback, I just sat there blankly glaring at the guy. Finally, failing to respond after a few blank moments, I just walked away from there mumbling a few abuses. Another instance would be when I saw my crush walking towards me, one fine day. I intended to compliment her cleverly with a hint of humor so that I could make her smile and not sound cheesy. Instead, I blurted out something unintelligible coupled with a hysterical chuckle looking like a complete tool. The result was that I creeped her out.

Then, a while later I was in the loo musing over the happenings of the day. And suddenly I hear this voice inside me that suggests me five splendid comebacks that could have nailed that argument to the wall. The same voice goes on to suggest me four brilliant compliments which would have definitely made a lasting impact on my crush who probably thinks that I am a retard. That voice is my brain’s.

But that’s not all. My brain instills in me these crazy urges on very crucial nights. Generally, on the eve of my examinations, I have this sudden hankering to sketch something or read about Attila the Hun’s lineage or something else. And I am driven by an inspiration which could probably match Michelangelo’s before he attempted the Sistine Chapel, to fulfill these urges. As such, I spend crucial hours sketching a werewolf on a door or start cramming knowledge totally irrelevant to the exam which I barely scrape through in the end. I am never bothered by these urges once the exams are over.

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And lastly, the most destructive aspect of my brain. Furnishing wrong information at the wrong place and wrong time. This happened in the Synthetic Biology class when the professor asked, “Have you heard about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?”…Now I will recount entire thought process that ensued:

Brain: Go on! Raise your hand! Remember that time when we read about it.

Me : Well you see I am a bit sketchy with the details. Actually apart from the name, I don’t remember anything.

Brain: Don’t be ridiculous. I will access the memory vault and you will have all the information in no time. Just raise your hand! Look around, no one knows the answer.

So hesitatingly, I raised my hand and no sooner did I do this than I received that memory. It was not some article or wiki page but a non-veg joke. It was about a guy who caught his son masturbating for the umpteenth time and was chiding him. He said, “Son, if you keep on going at this rate, no one could save you from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”.

And that was it. I didn’t respond for a few seconds. Looking at my flushed face, my prof repeated the question. I started stuttering, blurting out random irrelevant stuff because while I was getting over the fact that I was only a few moments shy of uttering the word “masturbating” in front of a female professor, my brain suggested that I should let out a laugh as the joke was funny. Somehow, I braced myself and said that I knew about this syndrome but I cannot describe it right now. I darted out of the class as soon as the session was over and let out a sigh of relief.

So considering the above instances, I guess it’s safe to assume that my brain is not my ally. I sometimes remember that scene from Game of Thrones (Epic TV Series and even more Epic Books) in which Ned Stark was held at knifepoint in his time of need by his “supposed” ally Littlefinger. I can actually visualize myself as Stark and my brain as Littlefinger sporting a fiendish smile. And in Littlefinger’s voice, my brain says, “I told you not to trust me!”…  

 

 

A Trip Down The Philosophical Lane

The Relevance Of Morality

To understand the relevance of morality, we first need to understand the very essence of the word per se. Morality is quite a relative term just like the state of rest or motion. Just as absolute rest or absolute motion cannot be defined similarly there is no such thing known as absolute morality. The word morality has relevance as long as it has a concrete reference. So when someone is normatively judged of being moral or immoral, the question that must immediately follow this judgement should be, “with respect to whom or what?”.

The term “morality” has been defined by the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy:

1.     Descriptively as to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a   society or,

a.     some other group, such as a religion, or

b.     accepted by an individual for his/her own behaviour or

2.     Normatively as to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

But here is the problem with some of the morality references mentioned above. Firstly, the reference used to define morality is a society, group or a religion. There are quite a lot of distinct groups and faiths in the world and the ideologies that form the basis of these groups and faiths are so diverse that the same act is called manslaughter by one faith and human sacrifice by other. While one faith cherishes non-vegetarian feasts, the other extends the doctrine of non-violence even to inanimate objects like stones. As such, it is nearly impossible to come up with a complete moral code that can appease all the members of a community as diverse as ours.

Secondly, all these faiths and groups were initially started and practised by a handful (or sometimes just one person) of like-minded individuals which over the course of time acquired many aficionados. So actually when we say that we are adhering to the views of different groups, we are actually adhering to the views of different individuals whose only edge over us is that they happened to exist long before us.

Lastly, the course of action a person takes is decided by innumerable complicated circumstances, fuelled by a plethora of conflicting emotions. So something as simple as sheer rationality or logic is not enough to judge whether a person is immoral or moral.

So ultimately, a person himself is the best judge of his morality. A word like ‘Morality’ has borne into existence only due to the fact that since time immemorial, the deeds of men bolstered by various causes like self-interest, religion or sometimes even utilitarianism has been conflicting with his conscience. We all have our moral compasses and its range varies a lot from person to person. The moment you have second doubts about something you did, that is when you hit the limit of your morality. Essentially, the moment you think that there is a need to convince yourself to justify the course of action you took, that’s when you should realise that you did something that is immoral even in your eyes. A very easy way of testing your own moral compass is observing your behaviour when you encounter a financial error in your favour. You go and have lunch at a restaurant and when you ask for the bill, you find that the amount is considerably less than it should have been, clearly a result of an accounting error. Do you get the error corrected or do you thank your lucky stars and walk away? Now there can be four outcomes to the above situation:

  1. You get the error corrected and feel good about it later.
  2. You have this momentary urge of doing the right thing and so you get the error corrected but later you feel that you should have pocketed the extra cash instead.
  3. You don’t get the error corrected and you don’t have second doubts about it.
  4. You don’t get the error corrected but later you feel bad about your actions.

The importance of morality can clearly be seen above. Person A is an idealist whose moral compass points due north. He did the right thing and he is happy with what he did. Person D comes next in the race of high sense of morality. Though he didn’t do the right thing, his morality fills him with a sense of guilt that to some extent will prevent him from doing it again. Now one might argue that Person C has the least sense of morality but it’s actually Person B. For Person C, it was wishful coincidence coupled with a low sense of morality. But Person B is actually having second thoughts about doing something right. The next time something like this happens to him, he is bound to take advantage of it. If it doesn’t happen then there is little chance that he may even try something immoral to make up for the last time. Difference in the morality of individuals is what caused different outcomes and shaped future outcomes in the event of such a thing happening.

To sum it all up, consider a person’s mind as the king and his morality as an advisor to the king. The advisor will always offer an opinion, which he thinks is fit, to the king but eventually it is up to the king to decide how far is he willing to go forth with the advisor’s opinion. He may choose to take his advice to the core or he may neglect it outright. There are people whose morality will cause them to feel remorseful even if they hurt a dog by accident and then there are those who have flipped the switch and turned off their morality which enables them to engage in serial killings and cannibalism and still not feel a thing.

So the answer to the question posed above, “How relevant is morality?” is that it can change lives on some occasions and prove to be worthless on others. In other words, it is as relevant as we allow it to be.

Clothes Make A Team!

I know that I am actually painting a target on my back by writing this article. This article will probably hit a raw nerve with many fans of Sports Leagues but i find it really amusing and so, to hell with them!

I believe I am a very calm person and I respect the fundamental rights of people. So, naturally I want people to reciprocate the gesture and it really pisses me off when they don’t do that, especially my right to silence. The other day, a commotion in the TV room snatched my right to silence and disturbed my sweet slumber. So I followed my instincts to choke the life out of the murderers of my slumber.  But all instincts vanished and I was actually quite amused when I found out what the entire ruckus was about. The English Premier League was on and apparently the supporters of one club didn’t actually get along with the supporters of the other club. It was a bit of a bit of a disappointment that I lost my sleep to this childish “My Club is better than your” routine nevertheless, I was amused.

Before telling you the reason why I was amused, I will sum up the concept of supporting a team. Though I am not much of a sports freak, I respect it when someone supports a team that represents a country (may not be same as that of the supporter). It’s deep stuff with all the national sentiments, respect for the country and the players. So, a battle for superiority concerning the teams that represent a country is understandable.

Then there are these individual sports like Tennis, where people are inspired by players irrespective of their nationality. Now this stuff is even deeper because it is borne out of nothing but pure respect for the player’s skill and talent. A fight over the superiority of individual players is more than understandable.

Lastly, there is this twisted concept of supporting sports league teams. And it’s not just the football leagues. I am talking about the cricket leagues, basketball leagues, even a kabaddi league (if it ever comes into existence).  So I will come to the amusing part now. The players don’t give a shit about the teams as they follow the trail of money. And I did a little digging around. People stick with the team even if a good player changes the team. There is no sentiment involved because the team is generally owned by an Arab Sheikh who cruises around in his gold car or a Billionaire who probably shits $100 bills.

Let’s build the equation of supporting a club or a league team. Players, their skill and talent, sentiments, etc. are thrown right out of the equation. So let me tell you what’s left to root for in a league team…..The clothes, shin guards, or probably the socks. As such, when I see people fighting over clubs, it doesn’t look much different from two annoying teens high on hormones fighting over dresses. The crux of it is that even a fight over Pokémons is more respectable than a fight over clubs!!