Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An absolute treasure - Shri Dharampal's works online!


Shri Dharampal has written several illuminating works on Indian history and science and this was the real stuff.

The website above has a bunch of his important works online. Other ones like "The Beautiful Tree" will be online very soon.

Enjoy - it should be an eye-opening read.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daniel Pipes, MJ Akbar and the T-word

Still Asleep After Mumbai :: Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes is a known expert on the Middle East and the Islamic world. In this piece he has chillingly assessed the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage.

This piece caught my attention. (Please read the full piece though, it is as informative as it is alarming).
Nomenclature lays bare this denial. When a sole jihadist strikes, politicians, law enforcement, and media join forces to deny even the fact of terrorism; and when all must concede the terrorist nature of an attack, as in Mumbai, a pedantic establishment twists itself into knots to avoid blaming terrorists.

I documented this avoidance by listing the twenty (!) euphemisms the press unearthed to describe Islamists who attacked a school in Beslan in 2004: activists, assailants, attackers, bombers, captors, commandos, criminals, extremists, fighters, group, guerrillas, gunmen, hostage-takers, insurgents, kidnappers, militants, perpetrators, radicals, rebels, and separatists – anything but terrorists.

The following is exactly what MJ Akbar, the premier journalist, says on his blog ( in a piece called "Biting the BBC bullet". These are the words he wrote to the BBC when they did not use the T-word.
"I am appalled, astonished, livid at your inability to describe the events in Mumbai as the work of terrorists. You have called them 'gunmen', as if they were hired security guards on a night out. When Britain finds a group of men plotting in a home laboratory your government has no hesitation in creating an international storm, and the BBC has no hesitation in calling them terrorists. When nearly two hundred Indian lives are lost, you cannot find a word in your dictionary more persuasive than 'gunmen'. You are not only pathetic, but you have become utterly biased in your reporting…Shame on you and your kind."
Kudos to Akbar for his forthright expression of indignation.

My feeling about the T-word is the same. (My thoughts on this from 2005 can be found here and I have not changed my stance). International pressure builds on the direct and indirect perpetrators of such acts when strong words are used. Pussy-footing is what our government had done earlier by using words like "militants" and "miscreants" to refer to terrorists in Kashmir.

The Indian government has worked itself into a corner. If it refers to certain acts as terrorism, it assumes that it is accusing the minority community. This is basically insinuating that all the minorities in India are anti-national and hence sponsors of terrorism. Minority leaders should actually take exception at the government's not referring to the killers by the T-word.

In the present world, the importance of media presence cannot be over-emphasized. It will do the government a lot of good if it can use its media handlers more effectively to convey the gravity of the situation.

As the acts have become increasingly heinous, the Indian media has finally started using the T-word. Oh wait, not yet. This link from this leftist TV channel still uses the word militant. Militant does give a more harmless connotation and that is why we need to use the strongest possible words to describe the killers. When Pipes takes the international media to task for using "militant", here are our guys - still stuck with militant.

HonestReporting had this to say when castigating AP's treatment of Hamas - militant or terrorist, while commending NY Times for using the right word. And this was in 2006.
The Associated Press actually used the words "terror network." What is surprising is that they use the phrase to label Al-Qaida, while referring to Hamas as a more neutral "militant group".
Can I hope that our media folks will look at such subtle but important distinctions while reporting? MJ Akbar, it looks like nobody from NDTV has looked at your blog or that of Pipes or HonestReporting. Or is it something else with these people?

Concluding this post, I wonder if our esteemed PM Dr. Manmohan Singh gets enough sleep at the thought of poverty in the Indian Muslim community. A recent post by MJ Akbar reports that a whopping zero percent of the money allotted to minority development was spent in Maharashtra. Rather than be too sensitive about perceived slights that a community might take offense to or not, it would be far more useful to uplift and educate minorities and bring them to the national mainstream. But then, who would re-elect these politicians?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Terror in the ministry

UPA proud of my Karkare remark: Antulay

Now that we have terror everywhere, it makes sense to consult the dictionary to understand what the actual meaning of the word is. The Merriam-Webster's online dictionary has this to say:

1 :
a state of intense fear

2 a
: one that inspires fear : scourge
   b: a frightening aspect terrors of invasion>
: a cause of anxiety : worry
   d: an appalling person or thing

Looking at this definition, the perpetrators of the horrific Mumbai carnage were not terrorists to the UPA government as it was neither fear inspiring - given that Rahul Gandhi, the heir-apparent, partied all night when commandos were still engaged at the Taj. It was neither appalling nor a cause of anxiety. Apparently, our honourable PM did not lose sleep over this as much as he lost over the condition of a mother of a bomber. Even if the nation was terrorized, the UPA government was probably not.

However, the current event is terror inspiring to the UPA. Abdul Rahman Antulay is a terror not only to his party comrades, but also to his co-religionists and all Indians.

By his parrot-like repetition of an ill-conceived conspiracy theory the likes of which are often repeated (recall the canard of a CIA-Zionist plot of 9/11 that is claimed as gospel truth in a large part of the Muslim world), Abdul Rahman might have endeared himself to Islamist fanatics and the sensationalizing aspect of Pakistani media - but has become a political hot potato now.

His wayward comment about Karkare's death not being at the hands of terrorists is not only irresponsible but also downright malicious. In an exercise that Goebbels would have been proud of, a Pakistani channel and Abdul Rahman mutually reinforced one another. Now each will have the other's word as evidence. How convenient!

If we look back at the events that transpired, we had a few people, incidentally Hindus, investigated in the Malegaon blasts. The fact that the Indian media took this up with undisguised glee and projected this as the Hindu counterpart of the global threat of Islamic terrorism is indeed deplorable.

When the Mumbai events unfolded, the world saw the unprecedented horror occurring before it. Even so, Somini Sengupta in the New York Times in her report of the Mumbai events had to have a footnote on "Hindu Terrorism" - which, even if this Sadhvi character is proved to have committed, would amount to less than a drop in the whole Arabian sea.

I read somewhere that India now is a dubious statistic of being the second worst terror-affected country after Iraq (which is under civil war!) in the last five years. How much of this loss is due to "Hindu" terror?

When I read Somini Sengupta's piece that mentioned this "Hindu" terror in the same piece in her Mumbai report - as the events were transpiring - I squirmed in my seat. What blatantly misleading information was being fed here! Luckily, due to more sensible media houses in the west - who were on the ground and not dependent on their Indian agencies, the extent of the damage as well as clear information on the origin of the perpetrators was conveyed to the world.

The public has a short term memory. Three weeks later, people are just normal - of course - we don't want people to continue to be terrorized. Politicians are back to their quibbling ways. However, several common people have been really shaken by the events and they are taking to the streets in protest.

There are welcome changes occurring too - though I don't know how many of these will be effective in the long run. The first one is the refusal of the Waqf body to conduct an Islamic burial for the slain terrorists. Till now, all slain terrorists, be it in Akshardham or in J&K were apparently handed over to some Islamic body which would then bury them in Indian soil. Now this will not happen. I am so glad that the Muslim community has come out in strong protest.

The second one - in smaller measure - is the red gun salute given by Naxalites in memory of the Mumbai victims. This was unprecedented. If the trained Naxalites were to fight the LeT-types... I continue to dream.

The third one is the support - diplomatic and logistic - that India is getting (finally!) from the US, UK and Israel. Not that this was not done earlier - but there is a feeling of increased solidarity against terror.

Fourth, new guidelines about crisis coverage have been instituted by the news broadcast association. This should hopefully trickle down to lessened sensationalism in other spheres as well.

Fifth, a national body to counter terror, curiously labeled NIA (they liked the CIA acronym?) has been set up. This should hopefully increase intelligence dissemination among government agencies.

Coming back to Antulay and the UPA, I would at least hope that the UPA has enough sense to boot him out of the party and make him a political pariah. But this could be a double-game by the UPA. By retaining Antulay, it can retain the vote bank of insecure minorities while pandering to the majority at large by effecting ineffective changes such as mere legislations and ministerial resignations. Why am I such a cynic?

Whatever happens, I hope the haunting images of smoke billowing out of the Taj and of that gun-toting criminal walking through the CST looking for his next kill never fail to awaken righteous indignation amongst all Indians.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ಜಲವನ್ನು ಜಲದಂತೆ ವ್ಯಯಿಸದಿರು ನೀ ಮನುಜ

ಸ್ನಾನದ ಮನೆಯ ಕಿಟಕಿಯಿಂದ ಮಿಣಿಮಿಣಿ ಮಿಂಚುವ ಹಸುರೆಲೆಗಳ ನಡುವೆ ರವಿರಶ್ಮಿಗಳ ಆಟ ಮನಸ್ಸನ್ನು ಸೂರೆಗೊಂಡಿತ್ತು. ಮೈಮೇಲೆ ಬೀಳುವ ಸುಖೋಷ್ಣದ ನೀರು ಆಹ್ಲಾದಕರವಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ನೀರನ್ನು ಬೊಗಸೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹಿಡಿದು ದಿಟ್ಟಿಸಿದೆ. ಕಾವೇರಿನದಿಯ ಆ ಸ್ವಚ್ಛ ಸುಂದರಾರ್ದ್ರತೆಯನ್ನು ಮುಖಕ್ಕೆ ಎರಚಿ ಮುದಗೊಂಡಿದ್ದೆ. ಕಾವೇರಿ ನದಿಯದು ಈ ನೀರೆಂದು ಒಟ್ಟಿಗೆ
"ಗಂಗೇ ಚ ಯಮುನೇ ಚೈವ ಗೋದಾವರಿ ಸರಸ್ವತಿ |
ನರ್ಮದೇ ಸಿಂಧು ಕಾವೇರಿ ಜಲೇಸ್ಮಿನ್ ಸನ್ನಿಧಿಂ ಕುರು||" ಎಂಬ ಸರ್ವವಿದಿತ ಶ್ಲೋಕ ಮನಃಪಟಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೂಡಿ ಮಾಯವಾಯ್ತು. ಒಮ್ಮೆಲೆ ಆ ನೀರಿನ ಮೇಲೆ ಭಕ್ತಿಯೇ ಉಕ್ಕಿತು.

ನೀರು ನಮಗೆ ನಿತ್ಯ ಸಿಗುವ ವಸ್ತುವಾದರೂ ನಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೆ ನಾವು ಅಸ್ವಸ್ಥರು. ಪಾನ-ಪಾಕ-ಪಾನಕ-ಪಾವನ ಮಾಡುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಪ್ರಾಣಪ್ರಾಯವಾದ ಆಪೋದೇವಿಯರ ಕೃಪೆಯಿರಬೇಕು. ನಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ ತಕ್ಕ ಮಟ್ಟಿನ ತೇವದ ಅಂಶವಿಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೆ ನಾವು ಮೃತರೇ! ನಾವು ಅದರಿಂದ ಮಜ್ಜನ ಮಾಡದಿದ್ದರೆ ಮಡಿಯಿರದೇ ಮಡಿಯಬೇಕಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಅದಿಲ್ಲದೆ ಅಡುಗೆಯಿಲ್ಲ. ಸುಡುಬಿಸಿಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಬಾಯಾರಿ ಬೆಂಡಾದವನ ಬಾಯಿಗೆ ಎಂಥ ರಸಪಾಕ ಕೊಟ್ಟರೂ ಬೇಡ, ಒಂದೆರಡು ಗುಟುಕು ನೀರೇ ಸಾಕು.

ನಮ್ಮ ಹಿಂದಿನವರು ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ಎಲ್ಲ ಅಂಶಗಳನ್ನೂ ಗೌರವಿಸಿದ್ದರು. ಆ ಕೃತಜ್ಞತೆಯೇ ಸ್ತವ-ಮಂತ್ರ-ಸ್ತುತಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ತುಂಬಿದೆ. ಅದರ ಮಹತ್ತ್ವದ ಅರಿವು ಪ್ರಾಣಿಮಾತ್ರಕ್ಕೂ ಇರುವಾಗ ಹೋಮೋ ಸೇಪಿಯೆನ್ಸ್ ಎಂದು ನಮ್ಮನ್ನು ನಾವೇ ಕರೆದುಕೊಂಡ ಮಾನವರಿಗೆ ಇದರ ಅರಿವು ಎಷ್ಟಿರಬೇಡ. ಇಲ್ಲೇ ನನಗೆ ಸಂಶಯ. ಆ ಕ್ಷಣಕ್ಕೆ ಕುಡಿಯಲು-ಕುಳಿಯಲು ನೀರಿದ್ದರೆ ಸಾಕು. ಮುಂದಣ ಕಾಲದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಇರಬೇಕಾದ ಜಾಗ್ರತೆ ನಮಗಿದ್ದ ಹಾಗಿಲ್ಲ.

ಹೀಗಿದ್ದಲ್ಲದೆ ಕೊಳವೆಬಾವಿಗಳ ಕೊರೆತದ ನಿರಂತರ ಮೊರೆತ ರಾಜ್ಯಾದ್ಯಂತ ಕೇಳುತ್ತಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಭೂಜಲ ಒಂದು ಆಪದ್ಧನವಿದ್ದ ಹಾಗೆ. ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯದ ಮೋಜಿಗೆ ನಾವೆಂದಾದರೂ ನಮ್ಮ ಆಪದ್ಧನವನ್ನು ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸುವ ಅವಿವೇಕವನ್ನೆಸಗುತ್ತೇವೆಯೇ? ನೀರಿನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಅದೇನೋ ಔದಾಸೀನ್ಯ, ತಿರಸ್ಕಾರ. "ನೀರಿನ ಹಾಗೆ ಹಣ ಖರ್ಚುಮಾಡಿಬಿಟ್ಟರು" ಎನ್ನುವುದು ನಮ್ಮ ಜಾಯಮಾನ. ನೀರೆನ್ನುವುದು ಅಷ್ಟು ಅಗ್ಗದ ವಸ್ತು! ಇದರ ಮೌಲ್ಯ ಬರಪ್ರದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಐದಾರುಮೈಲಿ ನಿತ್ಯವೂ ಕುಡಿನೀರು ತರಲು ಸೊಂಟಸವೆಸಿಕೊಂಡ ಸೊರಗಿದವರನ್ನು ಕೇಳಬೇಕು.

ನೀರನ್ನು ಕುರಿತಾದ ವ್ಯಾಜ್ಯಗಳು ಕಾವೇರೀಜನ್ಮಸ್ಥಾನವಾದ ಕರ್ಣಾಟಕಕ್ಕೆ ಹೊಸದೇನಲ್ಲ. ಹಿಂದೆ ಹೆಣ್ಣು-ಹೊನ್ನು-ಮಣ್ಣುಗಳಿಗೆ ನಡೆದ ಯುದ್ಧಗಳು ನಾಳೆ ನೀರಿಗೋಸ್ಕರವೇ ನಡೆದರೂ ಆಶ್ಚರ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ. ನೀರಿನ ಮೂಲಗಳು - ಗ್ರೀನ್-ಹೌಸ್ ಮುಂತಾದ ಮಾನವನಿರ್ಮಿತ-ಪರಿಸರ-ಘಾತಕಗಳಿಂದ ಬತ್ತುತ್ತಿವೆ. ತಲತಲಾಂತರಗಳಿಂದ ಭಾರತದ ಆಧ್ಯಾತ್ಮಿಕವಾಹಿನಿಯಂತೆ ಪ್ರವಹಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವ ತ್ರಿಪಥಗೆಯಾದ ಗಂಗೆಯ ಉಗಮಸ್ಥಾನವಾದ ಗಂಗೋತ್ರಿ ಬತ್ತುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಕಿಲೋಮೀಟರ್ ಗಳಷ್ಟು ವರ್ಷೇ ವರ್ಷೇ ಕುಗ್ಗುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಈ ಗತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾಗಿದರೆ ನೂರು ವರ್ಷದ ನಂತರ ಗಂಗೆಯೂ ಸರಸ್ವತಿಯ ಹಾಗಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಕೋಟ್ಯಂತರ ಉತ್ತರಭಾರತೀಯರು ನೆಲೆಸಿದ್ದ ಗಂಗೆಯ ಮೈದಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ನೀರಿಗಾಗಿ ಪರದಾಡಬೇಕಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಚೀನವೂ ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಪುತ್ರ ನದಕ್ಕೆ (ಇದೊಂದು ನದ - ಅಥವಾ ಗಂಡುನದಿ) ಆಣೆಕಟ್ಟನ್ನು ತನ್ನ ದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಕಟ್ಟಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಭಾರತಕ್ಕೆ ಇದರಿಂದೇನಾಗಬಹುದು?

ನೀರಿಗಾಗಿ ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕ ನಲ್ಲಿಯ ಬಳಿ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಹೊಡೆದಾಟಗಳು ಈಗ ಯಾವಾಗಲೂ ನಡೆಯಬಹುದು. ಪರ್ವತದ ಝರಿಗಳ ನೀರನ್ನು ಈಗಾಗಲೇ ಕಂಪನಿಗಳು ಪರ್ವತದಷ್ಟೇ ಎತ್ತರದ ಬೆಲೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಮಾರುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ (ಎವಿಯನ್, ಹಿಮಾಲಯನ್ ಮುಂತಾದ ನೀರುಗಳು). ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಕುಡಿಯುವ ನೀರು ಆಫ್ರಿಕದಲ್ಲೇ ಅಲ್ಲ, ನಮ್ಮ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲೇ, ಕರ್ಣಾಟಕದ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಪ್ರದೇಶಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಈಗಲೇ ದೊರೆಯುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ನೀರಿನ ಬರ ಬಂದಾಗ ನಮ್ಮ ಅವಸ್ಥೆಯನ್ನು ಊಹಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬಹುದು.

ಇದುವರೆವಿಗೂ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದು ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ತಿಳಿದ ವಿಷಯವೇ. ಆದರೂ ನಮ್ಮ ನಿತ್ಯದ ನಡೆವಳಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಆ ಕಳಕಳಿಯನ್ನು ನಾವು ತೋರುವುದಿಲ್ಲ.

ನಾನೇನೂ ತಿಳಿದವನಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೂ ಒಂದಷ್ಟು ಅಭ್ಯಾಸಗಳನ್ನು ರೂಢಿಸಿಕೊಂಡರೆ ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದು ಎಂದು ಬಗೆದು ಈ ಕೆಲವು ತೋಚಿದ ದೈನಂದಿನ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಬಳಸಬಹುದಾದ ಅಂಶಗಳನ್ನು ಬರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.

೧. ಸ್ನಾನ ಮಾಡುವಾಗ ಶುದ್ಧಿಗೆ ಬೇಕಾದಷ್ಟು ಮಾತ್ರ ನೀರು ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸುವುದು. ಹಲ್ಲುಜ್ಜುವಾಗ, ಕ್ಷೌರ ಮಾಡುವಾಗ ನಲ್ಲಿಯ ನೀರನ್ನು ತಿರುಗಿಸದೇ ಇರುವುದು.
೨. ಪಾತ್ರೆಯನ್ನು ನಲ್ಲಿಯ ಕೆಳಗಿಟ್ಟ ಮೇಲೆ ನಲ್ಲಿಯನ್ನು ತಿರುಗಿಸುವುದು
೩. ಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಗಿಡಗಳಿದ್ದರೆ ಅವಕ್ಕೆ ಹನಿ ನೀರಾವರಿ ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸುವುದು
೪. ಮನೆಗೆ ಮಳೆನೀರುಕುಯಿಲಿನ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ ಅಳವಡಿಸುವುದು
೫. ಮನೆಯ ಮೇಲಣ ಜಲಾಲಯ (ಟ್ಯಾಂಕ್) ಕ್ಕೆ ನೀರನ್ನು ಕೆಳಗಿನ "ಸಂಪ್" ನಿಂದ ಕಳಿಸಲು ಸ್ವಯಂಚಾಲಿತ ನೀರಿನ ಮಟ್ಟದ ನಿಯಾಮಕವನ್ನು ಅಳವಡಿಸಿವುದು. ಇದು ನೀರು ವೃಥಾ ಪೋಲಾಗುವುದನ್ನು ತಪ್ಪಿಸುತ್ತದೆ.
೬. ರಾಸಾಯನಿಕ ಸೋಂಕಿಲ್ಲದ ನೀರಿನ ಮರುಬಳಕೆ. ತರಕಾರಿ ತೊಳೆದ ನೀರು, ಅಕ್ಕಿ ತೊಳೆದ ನೀರು, ಇತ್ಯಾದಿಗಳನ್ನು ಗಿಡಗಳಿಗೆ, ಅಥವಾ ಶುದ್ಧಿಯ ನಂತರ ಭೂಮಿಗೆ ಸೇರಿಸಬಹುದಾಗಿದೆ.
೭. ಶೌಚಾಲಯಕ್ಕೆ ಕಡಿಮೆ ನೀರು ಬಳಸುವ ಫ್ಲಶ್ ಅಳವಡಿಸುವುದು.

ನಾನು ಹೇಳಿದ್ದು ವೀರಪರಿಸರವಾದಿಗಳ ಮಟ್ಟಿನದಲ್ಲ. ಅವರನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿದರೆ ಮತ್ತೂ ಹೇಳಿಯಾರು.

ನೀರು ಪೋಲಾಗುವುದನ್ನು ಕಂಡಾಗ ನಮ್ಮ ಕಣ್ಣುಗಳಿಂದ ನೀರು ಬರುವಷ್ಟು ದುಃಖವಾಗಬೇಕು. ಆಗ ನಮ್ಮ ಜನಾಂಗ ನೀರಿನ ಬರವನ್ನು ತಪ್ಪಿಸಬಹುದು. ಇದಾಗುವವರೆಗೂ ನಮಗೆ ದೇವರೇ ಗತಿ.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

iPhones for General purpose computing and a quick Android comparison

IBM Researchers Using iPhone App Store as Test Bed | Gadget Lab from

Typing this waiting for my plane on my old notebook, I begin to wonder if the notebook's days are numbered. My notebook is not that old when seen from a conventional viewpoint (what's conventional nowadays?!!). It is 3 years old. People still watch movies that are 3 years old. Children are still considered young when they're three. Nature doesn't change a whole lot in 3 years. But in the technology industry, three years is an eternity.

Three years ago, the iPhone wasn't there yet. Mobile computing referred mostly to notebooks with a handheld here and there.

The PC was within the reach of most people - but to use it one would have to be slightly computer literate. But a phone was a different matter. Anybody could dial a number and receive a call. People took to SMSs like fish to water. It is amazing how the cellphone revolutionized communication and raised the general awareness of a user.

A marriage between a communication device and a computing device was imminent - but Apple, as it is known to do, did it so stylishly that the world was left moaning oohs and aahs. So much so, that there is a whole bunch of imitators following. Whether the iPhone will be eclipsed a la IBM by Intel/Microsoft is left for the world see.

In the US, where the devices are subsidized by the service providers, the iPhone is quite affordable. And my unscientific polling showed a-not-so-insignificant part of the population sporting old and new iPhones. But it is still basically a computing platform.

The current Apple products seem to exude this avant-garde quality which people really love. And sure enough - you have tons of developers falling over each other to develop their apps for the iPhone. Other companies would kill for that kind of a fan-following.

It also seems to be an ideal computing device. No wonder IBM is testing it out as a general app bed.

I don't know when SETI@home (BOINC) will start an iPhone version - to run when the iPhone is charging up and so on.. And you know what? Some one has thought about this a year ago here...

Currently there seems to be at least a version on iPhone and iPod touch. We have enough evidence now to show that people are considering the iPhone more as a generic platform.

Now for the other part. How can Google not salivate when it saw all the traffic it was getting from iPhones. As is well known, a phone using Google's much touted Android was released a couple of weeks ago. Android aims to bring a reasonably powerful computing platform to lower end phones too. To me, it is doing a Microsoft to Apple's IBM. (comparing the PC platform to iPhone-like platforms). And of course, its Chrome browser in its Beta gives the rest of the browsers some hard competition.

Unfortunately, the Android phone (I had it with me for a bit) - at least the first version seems to have floundered. Actually, it is pretty OK but if you look at the expectations people had from it, it was just too much.

Apple has had the luxury and/or burden of making the entire iPhone right from the HW to the SW and packaging. I don't know how much of a say Google had in influencing the packaging - apparently not enough.

Even an old iPhone looks shiny whereas a brand new "gPhone" appears dull and used. With the map application, the Google phone becomes discernibly hot in a matter of little more than a minute. The iPhone wasn't so. The intuitiveness of the iPhone seems to be missing in the HTC phone also. And battery life seems a little worse too.

If you looked at the Android phone by itself, you would say that it is a very good phone. But who buys anything without comparison?

That said, Google's first shot at the iPhone should be taken seriously. They have some really smart people working for them and support from a couple of other manufacturers. They might do well on the third or fourth try - which is not far away, btw.

Coming back to the original thread - Apple and Google have made general computing devices out of phones. I don't know when such devices will reach a level of battery consumption and ample performance where it can be considered general-purpose enough. That day seems fast approaching now with companies pushing envelopes aggressively.

We have an interesting battle to witness now. May the better one win! The consumers will win anyway...

PS: This is one of my few posts on technology. I don't know why I wrote this or if I'll write on such topics again. Anyway.. it is random enough....

Friday, September 05, 2008

Selfish behavior is detrimental to society

Selfish driving causes everyone to pay the Price of Anarchy

While the result of this study is not surprising, the fact that this study was done and the methods it used are really interesting.

An illuminating observation that the study brings is the "Nash equilibrium" (a point at which no benefit will be realized if one's strategy is changed unilaterally) is reached when more and more people move away from the global optimum. What this means is that if a single person decides to start playing by the rules on the roads, he will still be late if the people around him don't follow the rules. The whole setup needs to change to benefit everyone. Sample this quote from the paper's abstract:

Uncoordinated individuals in human society pursuing their personally optimal strategies do not always achieve the social optimum, the most beneficial state to the society as a whole.
In India, and Bangalore especially, driving is little short of anarchy. In my earlier grouses on the matter, I have consistently held the opinion that people need to pay heed to the law to benefit not only themselves but the entire society and indirectly themselves as well.

In the book "Games Indians play" by V Raghunathan, the author touches upon this point. But he states that this condition is unique to India. However, this study by scientists from KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) while focusing on traffic shows that this is essentially a "human" problem.

The system cannot be optimized for maximum possible individual benefit without substantial costs. Optimization for maximum system benefit is what is needed; which will translate to significant individual benefit as well. There are plenty of team games that illustrate the same point quite well.

I was reminded of a set of brilliant essays (Collection titled "The Quest After Perfection") I am reading now by none other than the philosopher-sage Professor M Hiriyanna. In his essay on the "Ethics of the Upanishads", he defines evil to be two fold (I am paraphrasing here).
1. The urge for instant self-gratification as opposed to deferred pleasure.
2. The prioritization of one's own pleasure over that of society and the environment.

To be not-evil, therefore, one should have deferred gratification of pleasure and keep societal needs before the individual's, which is essentially the same point the authors of the paper make.

Dharma is a central Indian concept that involves putting society before one's self. The idea here is that it will make life easy not just for yourself but the entire society, while benefiting each individual finally.

In this age, individual liberties are held to be more important than societal good. The assumption behind this seems to be that a bunch of individually happy people will make society happy as a whole. Unfortunately, studies such as the one referenced show that individual maxima do not translate to a system maximum.

The questions that arise in my mind are:
1. To what extent can individuals forego "personally optimal strategies" to benefit society as a whole?
2. Which one is preferred? A non-optimal society where people have a little more "freedom" to pursue personally optimal strategies? Or an optimal society which, by design, will be less "free" to pursue personally optimal strategies? Is there a meeting place for the two?

The paper itself can be found here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Is this our news sense?

I wish to draw your attention to this picture to our left from the world's largest read English daily. (Yes, that is the Times of India, if you didn't know that already).

Something wrong about it? Look at the news item that got pushed down. That is not a day old as I type up this post. 146 human beings with 30 children dead; rather killed by a rumor of a landslide. TOI's editors found it convenient to push it down all the way to the second India item - with a cash sting item preceding it. Of course, this was not terrorism. Neither was it a star couple's marriage. The tragedy was that I didn't find it surprising that this item was pushed all the way down. It seems to me that we have lost even the feeling of wounded surprise as this kind of reporting has become so routine and predictable in India.

146 souls - dead; not naturally; but at a holy place. Is this somehow unimportant in the larger scale of things?

We probably deserve the news we see. After all, the media is pandering to our attention, right? Aarushi and other sensational stuff somehow hogs the limelight, but such items (as about this stampede) of immense magnitude, causing irreparable loss to the families of the living, get overlooked. What if the same people had died in say, an aircrash or a train wreck? (Of course, on Friday more than 30 people got charred in a train and we've already forgotten about it).

Have we become so desensitized to the whole thing that death, if not of a person close to us, is meaningless? Don't these souls deserve at least our moment of concern while reading the news? I feel horrible at this blatant indifference.

Anyway, it looks like our selfish gene is at work while picking up news worthy items too (as in other spheres of human activity as well). Because, terrorism for instance, affects the living people of India "more" than a stampede in a tiny corner of the country. "More" because people want to continue living; because for most people, nothing is higher than the preservation of one's own life.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Article by the real Charles Van Doren of "The Quiz Show" fame

Personal History: All the Answers: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

"The Quiz Show" is a movie directed by Robert Redford that had me riveted. Every time I watch it I cannot but think of the then successful Charles Van Doren whose life becomes miserable at the end of the movie.

Now the real Charles Van Doren speaks after quite a long media hiatus. His recollection in the New Yorker is pretty neat.

Some bad decisions taken on the spur of the moment haunt us for life indeed. Charles Van Doren is the example for this.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

VW's expensive but amazingly fuel efficient car

Laugh at High Gas Prices With a 282-MPG VW | Autopia from

This is a stunning car (with an equally stunning price tag). Now, you can zoom with style without worrying about rising fuel costs as this gives an amazing 235 Miles per Gallon that translates to a whopping 99 kms per litre (of course, two wheelers in India are already north of 100 km per litre).

Now for the simple matter of money - the car costs a paltry 20K to 30K Euro (INR 13,53,800 to 20,30,700). The article concludes thus:
"That's a lot of money. But then, the One-Liter, despite its diminutive size, is a lot of car."
There are some great pictures in that link too.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

25 year anniversary of the World Cup win - losers' celebration?

Brands rule Lord's '83 celebration, Tricolour missing

Up until now, I was happily reminiscing about that famous '83 win and about what a great achievement it was. And then it struck me - we are a bunch of losers!

1983 was the third edition of the world cup. India were the underdogs and they scripted a fairy tale win over the formidable reigning champs. For me, it constitutes an interesting, pleasant and even uplifting memory. But, would we want to celebrate the anniversaries of that? 25th? 30th or 50th?

The Windies won the Cup in '75 and '79. Did you see the likes of Lloyd and Richards celebrate their 30th anniversary of winning the cup anywhere? Or at Lords? Or, did Australia under Border celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first cup win in '87 in Calcutta?

Australia, especially, have made a habit of winning world cups regularly that celebrations don't matter at all. However for us, one win 25 years ago is all so important that we focus on that like an obsessive stalker (me included). That is what makes me sad. A tiny bulb shines in a pitch dark room. But even if a single bright light comes on, our tiny light gets completely overshadowed. The tiny bulb of our win in '83 is the only source of light for us. By celebrating the single light, we are unwittingly celebrating the darkness around it or in this case - the lack of significant wins since.

It is not that I don't like celebrations of events bygone. But the event has to be of some significance and should, IMO, be a one time occurrence. For example, India's independence day is an event worth celebrating. Not winning a once-in-4-years-world cup 25 years ago; unless that was the only time you won it - in which case, the celebration would be of the losing streak.

With apologies for my cynicism,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Flexible India : S Gurumurthy on Covert

This is a great piece by Gurumurthy where he talks about how India's past is relevant to its future. My idea of India is just the same as the following reference from Gurumurthy.

historian William Dalrymple sees rising India as merely
claiming back its original status as a leading global power.

Colonialism did ruin India and fie upon the likes of Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram for their see-only-positives blindness vis-a-vis the British Raj. India's position as a potential world economic power is not because of, but is in spite of colonialism.

Kudos to Gurumurthy for writing a rejuvenating piece! (It got me started enough to write this piece!)

BTW, Covert seems to be a new fortnightly edited by MJ Akbar who was with the Asian Age till recently. Familiar to several as a journalist par excellence, this seems to be a good effort as he has articles from across the political spectrum. Rarely do we get such dissenting views together on one platform. Kudos to Akbar too!

Monday, April 28, 2008

ReiserFS developer convicted: should commodities have a moral value?

Hans Reiser guilty of first-degree murder | Tech news blog - CNET

It feels somewhat strange as I have a Suse 9 box with the file system developed by Hans Reiser. And this is because I chose to go with the default.

I got to know of this conviction only today - nearly two years after he was charged. The interesting question is - did people change file systems after this news?

Which brings me to a larger question: how much importance do people attach to the moralities of the originators of the software they use? Taking it even further - when people consume any commodity, is importance attached to the perceived morality of the producer/source? Should it be?

For one of the Indian perspectives on it, I now recall an anecdote from the life of a holy man (I don't recall where I got this story from and I remember it only broadly). This holy man used to deliver illuminating lectures to his disciples every day. One day, however, the holy man's lectures were not well delivered and his utterances were far from normal. A curious disciple who normally followed his teacher everywhere started investigating. Nothing had changed that day apart from the saint eating his favorite vegetable during lunch. When the cook was asked where he got that vegetable from, he mentioned the name of a person. When that vegetable vendor was asked about the source of that vegetable he confessed that he had stolen those from a garden. The disciple then warned the cook to ensure that all food came from good sources.

This perspective takes the morality of the source to be very important.

If this view were followed everywhere, we shouldn't be consuming half of what we consume nowadays (food, newspapers, television, water.. you name it).

Certain follow on questions:
Will you continue patronizing a store that sells quality stuff for really low prices but the owner of which is unscrupulous?
Will you continue patronizing a restaurant where the food is not bad but whose owner was convicted for involvement in illegal activities? (I know I stopped going to such a place)

Is the software question on the same level as these two?

I don't think so - because I believe Reiser didn't get monetary or other benefits from my use of his software (open source). But my patronizing the restaurant would have given money to that owner to indulge in further illegal activities and so I stopped.

Am I right here? Am I being needlessly fussy here? It would be pretty interesting to get some other perspectives on this.

Bungling Bangalore's "royal challenge" thwarted by cool Chennai Kings

The Bangalore team unceremoniously named after a liquor brand is playing as if it has consumed a lot of the product it is advertising. And not just for fun - but quaffing it by the barrel a la Devdas, trying to forget some bygone woe. It also looks like the team was selected with assistance from the same product. The Red and Yellow brigade is all blue inside.

Yesterday's match against Chennai at Bangalore was a golden opportunity for the team to start afresh in the competition after a series of demoralizing defeats. And they were almost there. One careless shot here shouldn't cost the team the match itself. But that was it, exactly.

Jacques Kallis tried to chase one wide outside the off-stump and got picked up by Dhoni. And from there it was all downhill. The great wall of Indian Cricket caved in meekly like a heap of uncemented bricks on the first delivery though he could be termed a bit unfortunate.

Rahul Dravid, who apparently played a major role in the selection of the team has managed to select what a disgruntled supporter chose to aptly term as "the best Test team". Wasim Jaffer, Chanderpaul and Kallis with Dravid and Kumble! When things are not going well for the team, it looks up to the captain. But what do they see? A captain who is probably more worried than the players! To compound Dravid's lack of innovative captaincy, he has so far had a completely forgettable tournament with the bat with a golden pair in the last couple of outings.

Chennai did not have a good bowling attack yesterday. Though Goni and Palani are promising bowlers, they lack experience. Bangalore's bowlers - Zaheer Khan and Dale Steyn are more seasoned campaigners with the non-tyro Jacques Kallis doing a decent job with the ball. However, Dhoni's blitzkrieg (it is a worn out metaphor - but perfectly applicable here) kept the match finally beyond the Challengers. And what a pitiful name for the team! They just challenge royally, but what of the result?

The difference ultimately, in my opinion, came down to Dhoni's captaincy and approach to the game. Dhoni truly seems to believe that this is ultimately a game. The potential loss of contract lucre doesn't seem to affect Dhoni's demeanor on the field. Dravid, who is a gentleman on and off the field doesn't make the cut here. His body language betrays his feelings and his performance does not lead from the front. Dhoni keeps wickets and advises his bowlers frequently. But never have I seen him angry or melancholy. And his batting! This leads me to think if the optimistic and shrewd Kumble is a better match to Dhoni's icyness.

If an already retired bowler like Shane Warne could make 19 runs of the last over off Symonds to carry his team to victory, I don't understand how a supposedly seasoned batsman like Dravid could manage only 34 runs in 4 matches! Of course, Ponting and Ganguly give Dravid abundant company in the matter. For really good players, the format of the game should not matter. Why, I have seen Dravid score a 22-ball 50 against New Zealand!

They say "Form is temporary and class is permanent". I believe Dravid to be of the latter category - but for how long can Bangalore wait?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A warning coming too late? :: Why Tibet matters

This is a great piece by Sonia Jabbar on why Tibet matters to India. Fact-filled and hard-hitting, it exposes the soft underbelly of our government's wishy-washy thinking.

A couple of things to summarize:
1. China has already dammed headwaters of the Brahmaputra and the Sutlej. These dams are in Tibet.
2. Making Tibet autonomous (and thereby under the influence of the Dalai Lama) will render it oriented towards India thereby causing a virtual loss of 26% of China's land.
3. Recognizing Tibet as "an integral part of China" was done for the first time by the NDA government in 2003. And this is tantamount to giving up India's claim on Arunachal Pradesh.

Read the illuminating and well-written piece. It sure woke me up.

Will you support Tibet after this or not? What about the ones who are so sure of themselves that the Olympic movement and politics do not mix for them?

Monday, April 14, 2008

More food for thought

Human Footprint

This interesting link has several articles on recycling and how it helps the environment. It is part of a program that has appeared on the US National Geographic channel.

Sample an excerpt:
Several organizations, including the EPA, have classified diesel exhaust as a probable or potential human carcinogen.
I knew diesel exhaust to be as harmful as any other exhaust. What I didn't know was that diesel exhaust has been called out as a specific potential carcinogen.

Another ominous sounding excerpt:
Mel Peffers, an air quality project manager for Environmental
Defense, explained: “Along that route all that pollution
coming off of the diesel exhaust is very significant and
it is the largest driver for our air cancer, our additional air
cancer risk, and specifically the soot associated with diesel
… is very bad.”
Come to India now, where every car manufacturer offers a diesel variant of the car (Toyota, Hyundai, Maruti, Skoda, Tata). Diesel, as we all know, is priced approximately Rs 15 lower than petrol/gasoline. This is exploited by car owners and manufacturers as an incentive to buy and make diesel variants.

Most of our public and cargo (buses, trucks, vans) transport is via diesel. Every other car seems to be a diesel one. How does it feel to drive and live in cancer-causing soot everyday?
Diesel is convenient because it is cheaper. However, it is not so conducive for our well-being as these statements show us. Even if this information is pasted on all walls that we see, I don't think we will see any reduction in diesel consumption.

At least diesel gets us somewhere. Cigarettes, which do not get us anywhere in particular, are all the more popular. In spite of draconian laws being instituted by Anbumani Ramadoss, cigarette consumption has not dropped in India. It is still viewed as glamorous despite standard warnings written on every single cigarette packet. That pleasurable ingredient in tobacco seems to outweigh all health related concerns.

Which brings me to an age-old conundrum. Why should pleasure and well-being be at loggerheads? It is not just with tobacco/diesel but across several things in life. For instance, if you have to be healthy, you have to exercise. Imagine all the trouble when we have to get up at 5:30 AM on a cold wintry day and head out the door when we could rather be asleep in the warm confines of our beds. Almost all tasty food that can be easily prepared is dangerous in some way or another. A lot of healthy food done easy doesn't taste as good.

This seems to point to something basic in human behavior. We seem to like things that are pleasant at the outset. We don't seem to care enough about longer term issues that might result from our actions. This has been discussed extensively in our literature, especially of the religious and spiritual kind. Sukha and hita can be used to denote pleasure and good respectively in Samskrit.

The Upanishads talk about preyas and shreyas. Preyas - "desired" and shreyas - "welfare". In the immortal dialog between Yama and Nachiketas (in the kaThopanishad) we have the same discussion, rather a postulation by Yama.

anyac chreyo anyad utaiva
preyaste ubhe nᾱnᾱrthe puruṣam sinītaḥ:
tayoḥ śreya ᾱdadᾱnasya sᾱdhu bhavati,
hīyate ‘rthᾱd ya u preyo vṛṇīte

(Translation by Swami Sivananda):
Yama: One is good, while another is pleasant. These two having different objects chain a man. Blessed is he who, between them chooses the good alone, but he who chooses what is pleasant, loses the true end.

Yama continues:

śreyaś ca preyaś ca manuṣyam etas tau samparītya vivinakti
dhīraḥ. śreyo hi dhīro’bhipreyaso vṛṇīte, preyo mando yoga-kṣemᾱd vṛṇīte.

(Translation by Swami Sivananda) The good and the pleasant take hold of man; the wise man examines and distinguishes them. The wise man prefers the good (Sreya) to the pleasant, but the ignorant man chooses the pleasant (Preya) for the sake
of the body.

As old as this riddle is, the answer seems to be equally old.

Discrimination (not the caste/race based ones) but viveka - the knowledge of what is transient and what is lasting will help us in this direction. In other words, specific categorization of what comes in life as short-term and longer-term will help us identify what is shreyas and what is preyas. Understanding the big picture will also help. In short, a Zen master like mind.

If only were it as easy as typing this post...

Monday, April 07, 2008

ಹೀಗೊಂದು ಸಂಜೆ

ದಿನದ ಆರಂಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದರ ಮುಗಿವೆಲ್ಲೆಂಬುದನ್ನು ಬಲ್ಲವರು ಯಾರು? ಆ ದಿನ ನನ್ನ ಕತ್ತು ತನ್ನ ನೋವಿನಿಂದ ಮನೆಯಿಂದಲೇ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡುವಂತೆ ಪ್ರೇರೇಪಿಸಿತು. ಒಂದೆರಡು ದಿನಗಳಿಂದ ನನ್ನ ವಾಹನದ ಪೀಠಗಳ ಹೊದಿಕೆಗಳು ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಕೊಳೆಯಾಗಿ ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿದ್ದವು. ಜೆ.ಸಿ.ರೋಡಿನ ಬಳಿ ಹೋಗಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಹಲವಾರು ಮಳಿಗೆಗಳೊಂದರಲ್ಲಿ ಸೀಟ್-ಕವರನ್ನು ಬದಲಾಯಿಸೋಣ ಎಂದು ಮನಸ್ಸಾಯ್ತು. ಅಂದ ಹಾಗೆ, ಈ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮ ಹಲವು ದಿನಗಳಿಂದ ಮಾಡಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ಅಂದುಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದೆ. ಅಂತೂ ನನ್ನ ಕಾರಿಗೆ ಕಾಲ ಕೂಡಿ ಬಂದಿತ್ತು. ಸಂಜೆಯಾಯ್ತು.

ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ಮಹಾನಗರದ ವಾಹನಮಹಾಪ್ರವಾಹದಲ್ಲಿ ಈಸಿ ನಮ್ಮ ಸ್ಥಲ ಸೇರುವ ವೇಳೆಗೆ ಸುಮಾರು ಆರು ಘಂಟೆಯಾಗಿತ್ತು. ನನ್ನ ಚಾಲಕನ ಪರಿಚಯದವನ ಅಂಗಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಎಷ್ಟು ಬೆಲೆ ಮೊದಲಾದ ಮಾತು ಕತೆಯ ನಂತರ ಸೀಟ್ ಕವರ್ ಹೊದಿಸಲು ಸುಮಾರು ಎರಡು ಘಂಟೆಯಾಗಬಹುದೆಂದು ಅಂದಾಜು ಮಾಡಿದೆ. ಆದರೆ ಅಷ್ಟು ಹೊತ್ತು ಅಲ್ಲೇನು ಮಾಡುವುದು? ಅದೃಷ್ಟವಶಾತ್ ನಾನಿದ್ದದ್ದು ಊರ್ವಶಿ (ವಸ್ತುತಃ "ಉರ್ವಶೀ" ಎಂದಿರಬೇಕಿತ್ತು, ಬಿಡಿ) ಚಿತ್ರಮಂದಿರದ ಎದುರಿನಲ್ಲಿ. ಹಳೆಯ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನವರಿಗೆ ಇದು ಎಂಥ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಜಾಗವೆಂದು ನಾನು ವರ್ಣಿಸಬೇಕಿಲ್ಲ. ಎದುರಿನಲ್ಲೇ ಖ್ಯಾತ ಮಾವಳ್ಳಿ ಉಪಾಹಾರ ಕೇಂದ್ರವಿದೆಯಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಎಡಕ್ಕೆ ವಿಶ್ವವಿಖ್ಯಾತವೇ ಆದ ಕೆಂಪು ತೋಟದ ಮುಖ್ಯದ್ವಾರ (ಲಾಲ್ ಬಾಗ್ ಮೈನ್ ಗೇಟ್) ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಕುವೆಂಪುರವರ ಕವಿವಾಕ್ಕೂ ಈ ಕರೆಯನ್ನು ಸೇರಿದ್ದರಿಂದ ಸಸ್ಯಕಾಶಿಯೆಡೆಗೇ ನಡೆದೆ.

ತಮಾಷೆಯೆಂದರೆ ನಾನು ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನವನಾದರೂ ಲಾಲ್-ಬಾಗಿಗೆ ಐದಾರು ಸಲಕ್ಕಿಂತ ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಿ ಹೋಗಿಲ್ಲ. ಹಿತ್ತಲ ಗಿಡ ಮದ್ದಲ್ಲದ ಹಾಗೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಸುತ್ತಲಿನ ಜಾಗವನ್ನು ನೋಡಲು ಹೋಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲವೆಂಬುದು ನನಗಂತೂ ಜೀವನದ ಸತ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲೊಂದು. ಹೀಗಾಗಿ ಒಬ್ಬನೇ ಲಾಲ್ ಬಾಗಿಗೆ ಇದಕ್ಕೆ ಮೊದಲು ಎಂದೂ ಹೋದವನಲ್ಲ. ಇದು ನನ್ನ ಪತ್ನಿಗೂ ಇಷ್ಟವಾದ ಜಾಗವಾದ್ದರಿಂದ ಅವಳನ್ನು ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಒಬ್ಬನೇ ಹೋಗುವುದು ಹೇಗೆ? ಫೋನಿಸಿ ತಪ್ಪೊಪ್ಪಿಗೆ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡೆ. ಹೀಗೆ ಅಳುಕನ್ನಳಿಸಿ ಧೈರ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಟಿಕೇಟಿನ ಕೌಂಟರೆಡೆಗೆ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ ಹಾಕಿದೆ. ಪ್ರವೇಶಶುಲ್ಕ ಹತ್ತು ರೂಪಾಯಿ. ಸುಂದರವಾದ ಸಸ್ಯಗಳ ನಡುವೆ ವಾಯುವಿಹಾರ ಮಾಡಲು ಹತ್ತು ರೂಪಾಯೇನೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಚಿಕ್ಕಂದಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ದುಡ್ಡು ಕೊಡದೇ ಬಂದದ್ದು ನೆನಪಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಸುಳಿಯಿತು.

ಒಳಗೆ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆಯಿಡುತ್ತಲೇ ಬೇರೊಂದು ಪ್ರಪಂಚದೊಳು ನಡೆದ ಹಾಗಾಯ್ತು. ಹೊರಗೆ ಬೊಬ್ಬಿಡುವ ವಾಹನಗಳ ಸಂದಣಿಯ ಜೊತೆ ಎಲ್ಲೆಲ್ಲೂ ಹೊಗೆ. ಹೆಜ್ಜೆಯಿಡಲೂ ಜಾಗವಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಒಳಗೆ? ಎಷ್ಟು ಹಸಿರು! ಬಿಸಿಲಲ್ಲಿ ಬಸವಳಿದ ಬಡವನಿಗೆ ಆಸರೆಯ ನೆರಳು ಸಿಕ್ಕಹಾಗಾಯ್ತು. ಬಾಗಿಲ ಬಳಿಯೇ ಕುದುರೆಸವಾರನೊಬ್ಬನ ಭವ್ಯ ಶಿಲ್ಪ ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಎದುರುಗೊಂಡಿತ್ತು. ಅದು ಚಾಮರಾಜ ಒಡೆಯರದ್ದು ಎಂದು ಆಮೇಲೆ ತಿಳಿಯಿತು. ಐರೋಪ್ಯ ಮಾದರಿಯನ್ನು ನೆನಪಿಸುವ ಈ ಶಿಲ್ಪದ ಕುದುರೆಯ ನಾಲ್ಕೂ ಕಾಲುಗಳು ನೆಲದ ಮೇಲಿದ್ದವು. ಅಂದರೆ ಈತ ಸಹಜವಾಗಿಯೇ ಮಡಿದದ್ದು, ಯುದ್ಧದಲ್ಲಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿಯುತ್ತದೆ. ಮುಂಗಾಲೆರಡು ಮೇಲೇರಿದ್ದರೆ ಅದು ಅಶ್ವಾರೋಹಿಯ ವೀರಮರಣದ ಸಂಕೇತ. ಇದು ಐರೋಪ್ಯರ ಒಂದು ರೀತಿ. ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಧರ್ಮದೇವತೆಯ ಮತ್ತು ಕಲಾದೇವತೆಯ ಮೂರ್ತಿಗಳು. ಈ ರಾಜರ ಆಳ್ವಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇವೆರಡೂ ಸಮವಾಗಿದ್ದವು ಎಂಬುದರ ಪ್ರತೀಕ.

ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ದೂರದರ್ಶನದ ಹಿಂದಿನೊಂದು ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮದ ಮೊದಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವೊಮ್ಮೆ ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಆ ಹೂಗಡಿಯಾರ ಕಾಣಿಸಿತು. ಬಣ್ಣ ಕಾಣದ ಸ್ನೋವೈಟ್ ಮತ್ತವಳೇಳು ಕುಳ್ಳರ ಬೊಂಬೆಗಳು ಕಂಡವು. ಇಕ್ಕೆಡೆ ನೋಡಿದಾಗ ಸಸ್ಯಕಾಶಿಯ ಸಸ್ಯರಾಶಿ ಶ್ಯಾಮಲವಾಗಿ ಪ್ರಕಾಶಿಸುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಪ್ರವೇಶಕ್ಕೆ ದುಡ್ಡು ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡರೂ ಅದರ ಉಪಯೋಗವಾಗಿದೆಯೆಂದು ತಿಳಿಯುವಷ್ಟು ತೋಟದ ಅಂದಕ್ಕೆ ಕಪ್ಪಿಡದೆ ಕಾಪಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ.

ಒಬ್ಬನೇ ಅಡ್ಡಾಡುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಅವರ್ಣನೀಯ ಆನಂದವಿದೆ. ಯಾರ ಹಂಗೂ ಇಲ್ಲ. ನಮ್ಮ ಜೊತೆಯವರಿಗೆಲ್ಲಿ ಬೇಜಾರಾಗಬಹುದೋ ಎಂಬ ಕಳವಳವಿಲ್ಲ. ನಮ್ಮನ್ನು ಕಾಯುವವರ ಕಾಳಜಿಯ ಬಂಧವಿಲ್ಲ. ಇಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹೋಗೋಣ, ಅಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹೋಗೋಣ ಎಂದು ನಮ್ಮ ಗಣದವರು ಹೇಳಿದಾಗ ದಾಕ್ಷಿಣ್ಯ ತಾಳಿ ಇಷ್ಟವಿಲ್ಲದೆಯೂ ಹಿಂ"ಬಾಲಿ"ಸುವ ಪರಿಯಿಲ್ಲ. ಬೇಕಾದೆಡೆ ಕುಳಿತು, ಬೇಕಾದಾಗ ಅಡ್ಡಾಡಿ ನಿರಂಕುಶರಾಗಿ ಮೆರೆಯಬಹುದು.

ನನ್ನ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯದ ಗಡಿ ಒಂದೂವರೆ ಘಂಟೆಗಳ ಕಾಲ ಮಾತ್ರ. ಲಂಡನ್ನಿನಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಗಾಜಿನ ಮನೆಯ ಮಾದರಿಯ ಲಾಲ್-ಬಾಗಿನ ಅನುಕರಣೆ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿಗರೆಲ್ಲಿರಿಗೂ ಚಿರಪರಿಚಿತ. ಅದರ ಸುತ್ತಲೂ ತರಾವರಿ ಜನರ ಓಡಾಟ. ಆರೋಗ್ಯದ ಕಾಳಜಿಯನ್ನು ವಹಿಸಿ "ವಾಕಿಂಗ್" ಮಾಡುವ ಪ್ರೌಢವಯಸ್ಕರು ಹಲವರಿದ್ದರೆ, ತಮ್ಮ ಮುಖಗಳ ನಾಚಿಕೆಯ ಕೆಂಪಿನಿಂದ ಉದ್ಯಾನರಾಜಿಯ ಕಿಸಲಯದ ಕೆಂಪಿನೊಂದಿಗೆ ಸ್ಪರ್ಧಿಸುವ ಯುವಪ್ರೇಮಿಗಳು ಅಲ್ಲಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಡರು. ವಸಂತವಿರದಿದ್ದರೂ ಈ ಜೋಡಿಗಳಿಂದ ಲಾಲ್-ಬಾಗಿಗೆ ನಿತ್ಯವಸಂತ! "ಈ ಪ್ರೇಮದ ಚಿಗುರೇ ನೋಡಿ, ಹೂವಾಗಿ ಹಣ್ಣಾಗುವುದು!" ಎಂಬ ನಿದರ್ಶನವನ್ನು ತೋರುವ ಹಾಗೆ ಕಂದಮ್ಮಗಳನ್ನೆತ್ತಿಕೊಂಡು ಓಡಾಡುವ ತಾಯಿತಂದೆಯರ ಜೋಡಿಗಳೂ ಕಂಡವು. ಓಡುವ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ವಿಷಯ ಹೇಳಲೇ ಬೇಕಿಲ್ಲ. ನನಗೆ ಜ್ಞಾಪಕಕ್ಕೆ ಬಾರದ ಹೆಸರಿನ ಕವಿಯೊಬ್ಬರ ಹಾಡಿನ ಸಾಲು ನೆನಪಿಗೆ ಬಂದಿತು - "ಹೂಬನದಲಿ ಹಸುಮಕ್ಕಳು ಹಾಕುತ್ತಿಹ ಕೇಕೆಗೆ...".

ಅದೇನು ಆ ಮರಗಳ ಎತ್ತರ! ಆ ದಟ್ಟನೆಯ ಹಸಿರು ಬಣ್ಣ! ಊರದಾರಿಗಳ ಇಬ್ಬದಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಡೂ ಕಾಣದ ಸೇವಕರ ಹಾಗೆ ನಿಂತಿರುವ ಮರಗಳ ಬಂಧುಗಳು ಲಾಲ್-ಬಾಗೆಂಬ ವೃಕ್ಷರಾಜ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ "ನೋಡು, ಹೀಗೆ.. ನಾವಿರುವುದು" ಎಂದು ಸಹಜವಾದ ರಾಜಗಾಂಭೀರ್ಯದಿಂದ ಬೀಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದವು. ಈಗ ಕಂಡೂ ಕಾಣದ ಹಾಗಿರುವ ಸರದಿ ನಮ್ಮದು.

ಮಾಗಡಿಯ ಕೆಂಪೇಗೌಡರು ಆಗಿನ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನ ಸೀಮೆಯನ್ನು ನಾಲ್ಕು ಗೋಪುರಗಳನ್ನು ಸ್ಥಾಪಿಸುವ ಮೂಲಕ ನಿರ್ಧರಿಸಿದ್ದರಂತೆ. ಆ ನಾಲ್ಕರಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಲಾಲ್-ಬಾಗಿನ ಡಬ್ಬಲ್ ರೋಡ್ ಬಾಗಿಲಿನ ಬಳಿ ಇದೆ. ಸಣ್ಣ ಗುಡ್ಡದ ಮೇಲಿರುವ ಈ ಗೋಪುರ ಪ್ರಾಚ್ಯ ಇಲಾಖೆಯವರ ಸಂರಕ್ಷೆಯ ಸೋಗನ್ನು ಮಾತ್ರ ಧರಿಸಿದೆ. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಅಸಹ್ಯವಾದ ಬಣ್ಣ ಬಳಿದು ಅದರ ಮರ್ಯಾದೆಯನ್ನು ಕುಂದಿಸಿದ ಹಾಗೆ ಕಂಡಿತು. ಆ ಗೋಪುರದ ಬಳಿ ಹೋಗುವ ವೇಳೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಉಡುಗಣವೇಷ್ಟಿತ-ಅಂಬರಸಂಚಾರಿಯ ಉದಯವಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಗೋಪುರದ ಜೊತೆಯಲ್ಲೇ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರನ್ನು ಕಂಡೆ. ಕೆಂಪೇಗೌಡರ ಊರಿಗೂ ಈಗಿನದಕ್ಕೂ ಎತ್ತಣಿಂದೆತ್ತ ಸಂಬಂಧವೆಂದು ಆಲೋಚನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಹೊತ್ತು ಲೀನನಾದೆ. ನೂರಾರು ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಗೋಪುರಕ್ಕೆ ಸವಾಲೆಸೆದು ಗೆದ್ದೆವೆಂಬ ಠೀವಿಯಿಂದ ನಿಂತ ಹಲವು ಅಂತಸ್ತುಗಳ ಹೊಸ ಹರ್ಮ್ಯಗಳು ಕಣ್ಣುಕೋರೈಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದವು. ಆದರೂ ಪಕ್ಕದ ಮೂಕಮಂಟಪದ ಸಖ್ಯವೇ ನನ್ನಂಥ ಹಲವರಿಗೆ ಬೇಕಾಗಿತ್ತು.

ಕೊನೆಯ ಗೆಲುವು ಯಾರದಿರಬಹುದೆಂದು ಚಿಂತಿಸುತ್ತ್ತತಣ್ಣನೆಯ ಗಾಳಿಗೆ ಮೆಯ್ಯೊಡ್ಡಿ ಅಲ್ಲೇ ಕುಳಿತಿದ್ದೆ. ಅಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ಮನೆಯಿಂದ ಫೋನು. "ಎಲ್ಲಿದ್ದೀಯ?". ಗಡಿಯಾರವನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸಿದಾಗ ನನ್ನ ನಿರಂಕುಶತೆಯ ಕಾಲಕ್ಕೂ ಒಂದು ಗತಿ ಕಂಡಿತ್ತು.

ಇಷ್ಟವಿರದಿದ್ದರೂ ಹೊರಗೆ ಕಾರಿನಂಗಡಿಯ ಕಡೆಗೆ ನಡೆದೆ. ಕೆಲಸ ಮುಗಿದಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಎದುರಿನಲ್ಲೇ ಎಮ್.ಟಿ.ಆರಿನ ತಿಂಡಿಗಳು ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದವು. ಈ ಖ್ಯಾತನಾಮವಾದ ತಾಣ ಸರ್ವಕಾಲವೂ ಜನಭರಿತ ಎಂದು ಜನಶ್ರುತಿ. ಸ್ಥಲಾವಕಾಶ ಇರುವುದೋ ಇಲ್ಲವೋ ಎಂದು ಶಂಕಿಸುತ್ತ ಒಳ ನಡೆದೆ.

ನನ್ನ ನಿರೀಕ್ಷೆ ತಪ್ಪಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಬಹಳಷ್ಟು ಜನರು ಪ್ರವೇಶದ್ವಾರದ ಬಳಿಯೇ ಕುಳಿತಿದ್ದರು. ಇವರೆಲ್ಲರೂ ತಿಂಡಿಗಾಗಿ ಹಾತೊರೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ನನ್ನಂಥವರೆಂದು ಬಗೆದು ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ನೀಲಿ ಉಡುಗೆಯ ಆರಕ್ಷಕನನ್ನು ಪ್ರಶ್ನಾತ್ಮಕವಾಗಿ ದಿಟ್ಟಿಸಿದೆ. ಅದಕ್ಕವನು "ಇವರೆಲ್ಲ ಬಿಡಿ ಸಾರ್. ದಿನಾ ಕೂತು ಗಲಾಟೆ ಮಾಡ್ತಾರೆ. ಜಾಗ ಇದೆ. ಒಳಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ" ಎಂದ. ಆಗ ಆ ಗುಂಪನ್ನು ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ನೋಡಿದೆ. ಎಲ್ಲ ಪ್ರೌಢವಯಸ್ಕರೇ (ವೃದ್ಧರೆಂದರೆ ಕೋಪವಲ್ಲವೇ ಅವರಿಗೆ?)! ತಿಂಡಿಯನ್ನು ಹೊಡೆಯುವ ಮುನ್ನ ಹರಟೆ ಹೊಡೆಯುತ್ತಾ ತಮ್ಮ ಗುಂಪಿನ ಮಿಕ್ಕಿದ ಮಂದಿಗಾಗಿ ಕಾಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದುದು ಕಾಣಿಸಿತು.

ನನ್ನ ದಾರಿ ಸುಗಮವಾಯ್ತಲ್ಲ! ಧೈರ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಒಳ ನಡೆದೆ. ಖಾಲಿಯಿದ್ದ ಒಂದು ಮೇಜಿನ ಬಳಿ ಕುಳಿತೆ. ಮಾಣಿಗಳೆಲ್ಲರೂ ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಕಂಡೂ ಕಾಣದ ಹಾಗೆ ಓಡಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಎರಡು ನಿಮಿಷ ಕಾದೆ. ಆಗ ಹೊಳೆಯಿತು. ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ಕುಳಿತಿರುವ ಮಂದಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿರುವುದರಿಂದ ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ತಿಂಡಿಗೋಸ್ಕರವೇ ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವುದಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು. ನನ್ನನ್ನೂ ಅವರಲ್ಲಿ ಒಬ್ಬನೆಂದು ತಿಳಿದರೋ ಏನೋ ಎಂದು ಕೈಸನ್ನೆ ಮಾಡಿ ಕರೆದೆ. ಹಿಂದೊಮ್ಮೆ ಅಲ್ಲೇ ತಿಂದಿದ್ದ ಭರ್ಜರಿ ರವೆ ಇಡ್ಲಿಯ ರುಚಿ ಮರುಕಳಿಸಿ "ರವೆ ಇಡ್ಲಿ" ಎಂದು ನನ್ನ ಅರಿವಿಲ್ಲದೆಯೇ ನಾಲಗೆ ನುಡಿದಿತ್ತು.

ಅಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ನನ್ನ ಮೇಜಿನಲ್ಲೇ ನನ್ನೆದುರು ಯಾರೋ ಇಬ್ಬರು ವಯಸ್ಸಾದವರು ಬಂದರು. ಸುಮಾರು ಅರುವತ್ತರ ಆಸುಪಾಸಿನ ವಯಸ್ಸಿನವರು; ತಲೆಗೂದಲು ಬೆಳ್ಳಿಕಪ್ಪುಗಳ ಮಿಶ್ರಣ. ಅವರಲ್ಲೊಬ್ಬರು ದೇಶಾವರಿ ನಗೆ ನಗುತ್ತ ಇರುವವರೆಲ್ಲರನ್ನೂ (ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಬಿಟ್ಟು, of course) ಮಾತಾಡಿಸಿದರು. ನನ್ನೆದುರಿಗೇ ಕುಳಿತೂ ಬಿಟ್ಟರು. ಎಮ್.ಟಿ.ಆರ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಒಬ್ಬರು ಮೇಜಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತರೆ ಅವರನ್ನು ಕೇಳಾದರೂ ಕೂರಬೇಕೆಂಬ ನಿಯಮವಿಲ್ಲವೆಂದು ಕಾಣುತ್ತದೆ.

ನೋಡಲು ಮರ್ಯಾದಸ್ಥರ ಹಾಗೆ ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿದ್ದರೂ ಮಾತಿನಲ್ಲೆಲ್ಲ ಬರೀ ತರಲೆತನವೇ ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ರಿಯಲ್ ಎಸ್ಟೇಟ್ ಗುಂಗಿಗೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕ ಹಾಗೆ ಕಂಡರು. ಎಂಥ ಜನರಿಂದ ಹೇಗೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಕಮಿಷನ್ ಹೊಡೆಯಬಹುದೆಂಬ ಚರ್ಚೆಯನ್ನು ಅವರ ಜೊತೆಯವರೊಡನೆ ನಡೆಸಿದರು. ಅಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ತಿಂಡಿಯನ್ನು ಮಾಣಿ ತಂದಿಟ್ಟ. ಹೋಟೆಲಿನವರು ಕೊಟ್ಟ ತುಪ್ಪದ ಚಿಕ್ಕಬಟ್ಟಲನ್ನು ಈತ ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲಿಟ್ಟರು. ಕೊಲೆಸ್ಟ್ರಾಲ್ ತೊಂದರೆ ಇರಬೇಕೆಂದುಕೊಂಡೆ. ಜೊತೆಗೆ ದಿನಕ್ಕೆರಡು ಬಾರಿ ಲಾಲ್-ಬಾಗಿಗೆ ಬಂದು ನಡೆದಾಡುವ ಅಭ್ಯಾಸದವರು ಈ ಈರ್ವರು ಎಂದು ಆವರ ಮಾತಿನಿಂದ ತಿಳಿಯಿತು.

ನಂತರ ಅವರಾಡಿದ ಮಾತು ಬರೆಯಲು ಯೋಗ್ಯವಲ್ಲ. ಸಿನಿಮಾ ನಟರು, ಅವರ ಹಳೆಯ ಪರಿಚಯದವರು, ಕ್ರಿಕೆಟ್ ಪಟುಗಳು - ಇವರೆಲ್ಲರ ವೈಯಕ್ತಿಕ ಜೀವನಗಳನ್ನೂ ಜಾಲಾಡಿದರು. ಇದನ್ನಾಡುವಾಗ ಅವರ ಮುಖದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದೆಷ್ಟು ಸಂಭ್ರಮ! ಅದೇನು ಸಂತಸ! ಅವರ ಜೊತೆಗಾರನ ಜೊತೆ ನಕ್ಕಿದ್ದೂ ನಕ್ಕಿದ್ದೆ. ಇಂಥ ಕಿಂವದಂತಿಗಳು ಹಳೆಯವೇ. ಆದರೆ ಹತ್ತುಜನರ ಮುಂದೆ ನಿಂತು ಮಾತಾಡುವ ವಿಷಯವಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ನನ್ನ ಅಭಿಮತ. ಎದುರಿನಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಕುಳಿತ ನನಗೋ ಮುಜುಗರ. ಇದೇನು ನಮ್ಮಪ್ಪನ ವಯಸ್ಸಿನವರು ಹೀಗೆಲ್ಲ ಕಂಡವರ ಮುಂದೆ ಬಾಯಿಗೆ ಬಂದ ಹಾಗೆ ಮಾತಾಡಬಹುದೇ ಎಂದು ಆಶ್ಚರ್ಯ ಜುಗುಪ್ಸೆಗಳು ಒಟ್ಟಿಗೇ ಆದವು. "ನಾನೇನಾದರೂ ಅಷ್ಟು ಮಡಿವಂತನೇ?" ಎಂಬ ಸಂಶಯ ಬೇರೆ ಬಂದಿತು. ಅವರ ಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಿತ್ರರೊಡನೆ ಮಾತನಾಡಿದ್ದರೆ ಪರವಾಯಿಲ್ಲವೋ ಏನೋ. ಆದರೆ ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕ ಸ್ಥಲಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಅಪರಿಚಿತರೆದುರು ಹೀಗೆಲ್ಲ ಒದರಿದರೆ ಬೇರೆಯವರಿಗೆ ಏನನ್ನಿಸಬಹುದು ಎಂಬ ಪರಿವೆ ಅವರಿಗಿದ್ದ ಹಾಗೆ ಕಾಣಿಸಲಿಲ್ಲ. ತಿಂಡಿ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿಯೇ ಇದ್ದರು ಅಷ್ಟು ರುಚಿಸಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಅವರ ಮಾತನ್ನು ಕೇವಲ ಸಾಕ್ಷಿಭಾವದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೊದಲು ಕೇಳಿದನಂತರ ಕ್ರಮೇಣ ಅಸಹ್ಯಭಾವನೆ ಆವರಿಸಿತು. ಅವಸರವಸರವಾಗಿ ತಿಂದು ಬಿಲ್ಲಿಗಾಗಿ ಮಾಣಿಯನ್ನು ಕರೆದೆ.

ಎದ್ದು ಹೊರಡಲು ಅಣಿಯಾಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾಗ ನನ್ನೆದುರಿನವರ ಇನ್ನೊಬ್ಬರು ಮಿತ್ರರು ಆಗಮಿಸಿದ್ದರು. ಇವರು ಪೂರಿ ತಿನ್ನುವುದನ್ನು ಮೊದಲು ಮಾಡಿದ್ದರು. ಜಾಗ ಖಾಲಿ ಮಾಡುವ ವೇಳೆ ಘೊಳ್ಳೆಂಬ ನಗೆಯ ಗುಳ್ಳೆ ಒಡೆದದ್ದು ಕೇಳಿಸಿತು. ತಿರುಗಿ ನೋಡದೆ ಹೊರನಡೆದೆ. ನನ್ನದೇ ಮಡಿಯೆ? ಅಥವಾ ಹೀಗೆಯೇ ಲೋಕ ಇರುವುದು? ಎಂಬ ಜಿಜ್ಞಾಸೆಯೊಂದಿಗೆ ರಸ್ತೆ ದಾಟಿದ್ದೆ. ಇವರ ಗುಣಾವಗುಣಗಳನ್ನು ಗಣಿಸಲು ನಾನ್ಯಾರು ಎಂಬ ನಿಶ್ಚಯವಾಗಿ ಮನಸ್ಸು ಶಾಂತವಾಯಿತು. ಕಾರಿನ ಸೀಟಿಗೆ ಕವರ್ ಹಾಕಿಸಿ ಮನೆ ಸೇರುವಲ್ಲಿ ಹತ್ತುಘಂಟೆಯಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಕತ್ತುನೋವು "ನಾನಿಲ್ಲೇ ಇದ್ದೇನೆ" ಎಂದು ಮತ್ತೆ ನೆನಪಿಸಿತ್ತು.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bravo! Baichung!

Baichung Bhutia refuses to carry Olympic torch-India-The Times of India

Baichug Bhutia, as a Buddhist, has not compromised his ideals and has protested against the Chinese government's acts in a significant way. He has also shown up the UPA government (I don't think NDA would have done better here, just for the record) for the spineless entity it is - kowtowing to Communist China's muscle while being hurt internally by the Communists of Greater China India.

Baichung's act might lead him to the status of a political pariah - ostracized by the government for voicing his conscience. I won't be surprised if he loses his football captaincy.

However, the Dalai Lama has been in India for a long time now. And, significantly, the Chinese government did not invite any envoys from India as part of the international delegation to tour affected parts of Tibet. Hopefully, this shows that our government is standing up well to China.

But what is worse than the Chinese government's act is its shameless endorsement by Communist comrades in India who are stuck I don't know where. Internal matter, indeed! They bat more for the PRC than for India. Where are the holier-than-thou armchair human rights activists now? Their silence on the matter is indeed deafening.

Considering what the others have not done and what Baichung has actually done, the least I could do is to write this post and exclaim, "Bravo! Baichung!"

Monday, March 17, 2008

About a few things and generally nothing

It was when I typed the name of my blog in the browser that I realized how long it had been since I had blogged. The fact that the history/auto-complete feature did not complete the name of this blog caused this realization.

This is probably my second post in all of 2008 so far, which is amazing considering that I had 57 posts in all of 2007, averaging a post a week. January 2008 signaled the beginning of a very hectic period at work and it looks like it will be like this for the rest of the year as well. Steeped in this work-well as I am, I wonder how I wrote so many posts last year at all! In fact, 57 posts in 2007 makes me feel guilty now!

Anyhow, it is a very pleasant March in Bangalore with the mercury still pegged down at a comfortable level.

My daily commute, unchanging everyday, cuts through Bangalore with a slightly irregular monotony. The leaves fell off the trees in Cubbon Park and are back heralding in a new season. Traffic jams still occur and my cursing my co-commuters has come down. When some one cuts across in front of me, I give them a sympathetic smile now. (Poor guy, must have an urgent meeting to attend!)

I managed to read a few books in this forced hiatus.

Bhyrappa's Bhitti was completed leaving me wondering if Bhyrappa is really free of human frailty as his book shows. He comes across as this struggler and fighter in the initial part and how he came to be a writer was also brought out quite well. But I did not see a single incident where he commits a gaffe or where somebody proved him wrong. I got to know from somebody else (who has interacted with Bhyrappa personally) that my thinking was on the right track. Very difficult struggles in the initial part of his life (something that nobody should have to go through, IMO) seem to have hardened him in a few ways. Of course, his sensitivity as a writer and artist have remained as responsive as ever. That also made me wonder that if not for his struggles, would Bhyrappa have been a run-of-the-mill professor in a suburban college of Karnataka instead of this path breaking, philosophical novelist?

And then, of course, Kanthapura. Raja Rao has woven a fascinating, albeit distressing tale about a town that is no more. I don't know where Raja Rao's political inclinations lay - but his writing shows a distinct distaste for political maneuvers of all kinds - be it the imperialistic British or the ahimsa of Gandhi. The idealist Shankar is mocked for all his wide-eyed optimism. All his satyagrahas were finally to what end? Raja Rao's English has a distinct fragrance of Malnad Kannada and it is wonderful that his narration comes quite believably from an old lady. That voice of innocence is spread through the novel and at the end it makes the reader quite sad. It is as if my grand mother is narrating a tale on a rainy overcast afternoon after serving me a tasty and heavy meal. I could hear the rain drops pattering when I turned the page.

"The Razor's Edge" by Somerset Maugham is set in the ten-fifteen year period around the Great Depression of 1929. This was my first Maugham novel and my main reason in picking up a second hand copy from Blossoms was a mention I had heard somewhere about Ramana Maharshi. A character very close to Sri Ramana makes its presence in a narrative by one of the principal characters towards almost the end of the novel. Maugham's characterization elicits sympathies for all its characters and you feel convinced that each character did what it would exactly do under the circumstances. Larry Darrell, Elliott Templeton and Isabel are the chief characters and their ways are all completely different. I felt more sorry for Elliott than the others. Somerset Maugham as the narrator and a minor character in the novel is an interesting way - as either the narrators usually are the protagonists in novels with first person narratives. It is interesting but I feel it could have been better without it. But of course, it just tells the reader what the author saw and leaves the reader to fill in the gaps. Apparently, this is not the author's best work. So, I would have to read a couple more of his books. An interesting read is what I would call this.

While each of the above took a while to take in, the fat "Prometheus Deception" by Robert Ludlum took me a few hours to run through. It had been a long time since I had indulged in any pulp-fiction and this was a refreshing roller coaster ride with all the usual masala - international intrigue, a formidable protagonist, espionage, gizmos and beautiful women thrown in for good measure. I enjoyed the change. While the others are more of nutritious food, this was more like fast food - something you enjoy eating anytime but should show moderation in.

I managed to barely enter a couple of other books - but slow paced as the readers need to be - they need to be given a nice cushion of time. bhoja's chaMpU-rAmAyaNam and kuveMpu's rAmAyaNa-darshanam. Both of them poetic works on the rAmAyaNa and yet they make you feel as if you are reading completely different things. I will contrast them later - but both are immensely enjoyable.

I will see if I can write more later - on several interesting things that have happened in the meanwhile - the IPL hungama, India's famous and notorious cricketing and non-cricketing exploits Down Under, elections in Karnataka that seem forever on the horizon, the looming threat of terrorism in normally peaceful South India, the interesting possibility of a US president of African-American heritage and on so on.

Till then, take care.

Monday, February 11, 2008

ಪೂಜೆಯ ಹೂಗಳು

ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯ ವಿಸ್ತೀರ್ಣ ಅಷ್ಟು ದೊಡ್ಡದಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಗಿಡಗಳೂ ಹೂಗಳೆಂದರೆ ನಮ್ಮ ತಾಯಿಗೆ ಬಹಳಷ್ಟು ಪ್ರೀತಿ. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ಮನೆಯ ಮೇಲ್ಛಾವಣಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವು ಹೂವಿನ ಕುಂಡಗಳನ್ನು ಇಟ್ಟಿದ್ದೇವೆ. ದೇವರ ಪೂಜೆಗೆ ಆಗುವ ಅರ್ಧದಷ್ಟು ಹೂವು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ನಿತ್ಯವೂ ಸಿಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಬೇಸಗೆಯಲ್ಲಂತೂ ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಸಿಗುತ್ತದೆ.

ನಾನು ಮನೆಯ ಮೇಲ್ಛಾವಣಿಗೆ ಹೋಗುವುದು ಅಪರೂಪ. ತಿಂಗಳುಗಟ್ಟಲೆ ಆಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹೋಗದೇ ಇದ್ದೇನೆ. ಏಕೆಂದರೆ ಅದು ನನ್ನ ಡಿಪಾರ್ಟ್ ಮೆಂಟ್ ಅಲ್ಲ. ಹೋದರೆ ಈಗೊಮ್ಮೆ ಹಾಗೊಮ್ಮೆ. ಹೋದಾಗ ಆ ಹಸಿರು, ಆ ಬಣ್ಣದ ಹೂಗಳನ್ನು ನೋಡಿ "ಇಲ್ಲೇಕೆ ಪದೇ ಪದೇ ಬರಬಾರದು?" ಎಂಬ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ ಮೂಡುತ್ತದೆ. ಅದಾದ ಮೇಲೆ ಒಂದೆರಡು ದಿನ ಅಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹೋಗುವುದೂ ಆಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಆಮೇಲೆ ಮಾಮೂಲು ಕೆಲಸ. ಮನೆಯ ಮೇಲಿನ ಹಸಿರಿನ ಮೇಲೆ ಗಮನವಿರುವುದಿಲ್ಲ.

ಹೀಗೊಮ್ಮೆ ನಾನು ಮೇಲೆ ಹೋದಾಗ ನನ್ನ ಪಾಲಿಗೆ ಗಿಡಗಳಿಗೆ ನೀರುಣಿಸುವ, ಜೊತೆಗೆ ದೇವರ ಪೂಜೆಗೆಂದು ಹೂಗಳನ್ನು ಆರಿಸುವ ಕೆಲಸಗಳು ಬಂದವು. ಹೋದಾಗ ಬೆಳಗಿನ ಸುಮಾರು ಏಳರ ಸಮಯ. ತಣ್ಣನೆಯ ಗಾಳಿ ಬೀಸಿತ್ತು. ಪೂರ್ವದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಸ್ಕರನು ಮೇಲಕ್ಕೆ ಬರುತ್ತಿದ್ದ. ಹಾರಿದ್ದ ನಿದ್ದೆಯ ಮಂಪರಿನ ನನಗೆ ಗಿಡಗಳು ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ಬರುವ ಅಪರಿಚಿತನನ್ನು ಆಶ್ಚರ್ಯ-ಸಂತೋಷಗಳಿಂದ ಕಾಣುವ ಪಾಠದ ಕೋಣೆಯಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ಹಾಗೆ ಕಂಡವು. ಮನಸ್ಸಿಗೆ ಆಹ್ಲಾದವಾಯ್ತು.

ನೀರುಣಿಸುವುದೋ ಹೂವನ್ನು ಬಿಡಿಸುವುದೋ ಎಂಬ ಯೋಚನೆ ಬಂದಿತು. ಅದರ ಆಹಾರವನ್ನು ಕೊಟ್ಟು ನಂತರ ಅವುಗಳಿಂದ ಪಡೆಯೋಣವೆಂದು ನೀರನ್ನು ಕೊಳವೆಯ ಮೂಲಕ ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಂದು ಕುಂಡಕ್ಕೂ ಬಿಡುತ್ತ ಬಂದೆ. ಆ ಕುಂಡಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ನೀರು ಆರಿ ಮಣ್ಣು ಒಣಗಿಹೋಗಿತ್ತು. ಹಸಿವಾದವನ ಹೊಟ್ಟೆಯೊಳಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಎಲೆಯಿಂದ ಖಾಲಿಯಾಗುವ ಊಟದ ಹಾಗೆ ನೀರೆಲ್ಲವೂ ಇಂಗುತ್ತ ಹೋಯ್ತು. ಇವೆಲ್ಲವೂ ಸರ್ವೇ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯವಾದರೂ ಕೆಲಸದ ಕಗ್ಗಂಟಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕಟ್ಟಿಹೋಗಿದ್ದ ನನಗೆ ಹೊಸದಾಗಿ ಸುಂದರವಾಗಿ ಕಂಡಿತು.

ತನ್ನ ಸಂತತಿಯನ್ನು ಮುಂದುವರೆಸುವುದು ಎಲ್ಲ ಜೀವಿಗಳ ಲಕ್ಷಣ. ಒಂದೇ ಜೀವಕೋಶದ ಅಮೀಬಾದಿಂದ ಹಲವು ಟನ್ನುಗಳಷ್ಟು ತೂಗುವ ತಿಮಿಂಗಿಲದ ವರೆಗೂ ಇದೇ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯದ ಅಂಶ. ಸಸ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಇದಾಗುವುದು ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಹೂಗಳಿಂದ ಅಲ್ಲವೇ? ಹೂಗಳು ತಮ್ಮ ಬಣ್ಣಬಣ್ಣದ ದಳಗಳಿಂದ ಚಿಟ್ಟೆ ಮುಂತಾದ ಕೀಟಗಳನ್ನು ಆಕರ್ಷಿಸಿ ತನ್ನ ಸಂತತಿಯನ್ನು ಮುಂದುವರೆಸಲು ಕಾರಣವಾಗುತ್ತದೆಯಲ್ಲವೇ? ಇದೇ ಹೂವು ಹಣ್ಣೂ ಆಗಿ ಬೀಜಗಳ ಮೂಲಕ ದೂರ ಹರಡಿ ತನ್ನ ಸಂತಾನದ ವೃದ್ಧಿಗೆ ಕಾರಣವಲ್ಲವೇ?

ಈ ಯೋಚನೆಗಳ ನಡುವೆ ಹೂವನ್ನು ಬಿಡಿಸುವ ಸರದಿ ಬಂದಿತು. ಪೂಜೆಗೆ ನಿತ್ಯವೂ ಹೂವನ್ನುಪಯೋಗಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆ. ಆದರೆ ಅಂದು ಗಿಡದ ಮೇಲೆ ನಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಆ ಹೂವನ್ನು ನಮ್ಮ ದೇವರ ಪೂಜೆಗೆ ಕೊಯ್ಯುವುದು ನನಗೆ ಅಷ್ಟು ಹಿತವೆನಿಸಲಿಲ್ಲ. ದೇವರು ನಿತ್ಯತೃಪ್ತನು. ನಮ್ಮ ಪೂಜೆಯ ಮೂಲಕ ಅವನನ್ನು ಮೆಚ್ಚಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆ ಅನ್ನುವುದು ಹಾಸ್ಯಾಸ್ಪದವೇ ಸರಿ. ಅಂಥ ದೇವನ ಪೂಜೆಗೆ ಅವನದೇ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯಾದ ಹೂವನ್ನು ಅವನ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯೇ ಆದ ನಾವು ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸುವುದು ಒಂದು ರೀತಿ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿಯೇ ಕಂಡರೂ ("ಕೆರೆಯ ನೀರನು ಕೆರೆಗೆ ಚೆಲ್ಲಿ") ಇದರ ಅರ್ಥವೇನು ಎಂದು ಅನ್ನಿಸದೇ ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಹೂವನ್ನು ಬಿಡಿಸಿದ ತಕ್ಷಣ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಪ್ರಾಣವೇನಿದ್ದರೂ ಇಲ್ಲವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಆ ನಿರ್ಜೀವಕುಸುಮಗಳಿಂದ ನಾವು ದೇವರ ಪ್ರತೀಕವನ್ನೋ ಮನೆಯನ್ನೋ ಸುಂದರ ಸ್ತ್ರೀಯೊಬ್ಬಳ ಕೃಷ್ಣಕಬರಿಯನ್ನೋ ಅಥವಾ ನಿರ್ಜೀವವೇ ಆದ ಗತಪ್ರಾಣವಾದ ದೇಹವನ್ನೋ ಅಲಂಕರಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆ. ಎಂಥ ವಿಪರ್ಯಾಸ!

ಆ ಹೂಗಳ ಅಸ್ತಿತ್ವ ಇದಕ್ಕಿಂತ ಹೆಚ್ಚಲ್ಲವೇ? ನಮ್ಮ ನಯನಮನೋಹರಣಕ್ಕಾಗಿಯೇ ಇವಿರುವುದು?

ಯಜ್ಞಗಳ ನೆನಪು ಬರದೇ ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಅಲ್ಲೂ ಹಿಂದೆ ಪಶುವಧೆ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯವಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಯಜ್ಞಪಶುವು ಸ್ವರ್ಗಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗುವುದೆಂದು ಋತ್ವಿಜರ ನಂಬಿಕೆ. ಹಾಗೆಯೇ ಹೂವಿನ ಕೃತಕೃತ್ಯತೆ ದೇವರ ಪ್ರತೀಕದ ಸ್ಪರ್ಶಾಲಂಕಾರಗಳಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಇರುವುದೆಂದು ನಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ ಬಹಳ ಜನರ ನಂಬಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲವೇ? ಹೂವು ದೇವರನ್ನು ಸೇರಿದರೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಪುಣ್ಯವೆಂದು, ಹಾಗೆ ಮಾಡಿದಾಗ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಮಾಡಬಹುದಾದಂಥ ಎಲ್ಲ ಉಪಕಾರವನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿರುವುದಾಗಿಯೇ ನಮ್ಮ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ ಚಿಂತನೆ. ನಮ್ಮಿಂದ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಮಾಡಲಾಗದ ವಸ್ತುಗಳಿಂದ ನಮ್ಮನ್ನು ಮೀರಿದ ಒಂದು ಕಲ್ಪನೆಯನ್ನು ಆರಾಧಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆ.

ಯುದ್ಧವೂ ಪೂಜೆಯಲ್ಲವೆ? ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಆರಾಧಿಸಲ್ಪಡುವ ದೈವ ಅವರವರ ದೇಶ/ಮತ ಅಥವಾ ಆ ಯುದ್ಧಗಳ ಧುರೀಣರ ಅಹಂಕಾರ. ಪೂಜೆಯ ಹೂಗಳೋ ಯುದ್ಧಮಾಡುವ ಸೈನಿಕರು. ಒಂದೇ ವ್ಯತ್ಯಾಸವೇನೆಂದರೆ ಗೆದ್ದರೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಪೂಜೆ ಸಂದ ಹಾಗಾಗುವುದು. ಇಲ್ಲವೆಂದರೆ ಯುದ್ಧವೆಂಬ ಪೂಜೆ ನಿರರ್ಥಕವಾಗಿಬಿಡುವುದು. ನಿತ್ಯದ ಪೂಜೆಯಾದ ಮೇಲೆ ಆ ದಿನ ಮಾತ್ರ ದೇವರ ಮೇಲೆ ಹೂವಿರುತ್ತದೆ. ಇಂದಿನ ಪವಿತ್ರ ಹೂಗಳು ನಾಳಿನ ನಿರ್ಮಾಲ್ಯವಾಗಿ, ಗೌರವಕ್ಕೆ ಅರ್ಹವಾದರೂ, ವಿಸರ್ಜಿಸಬೇಕಾದುವು. ಯುದ್ಧದಲ್ಲೂ ಹಾಗೆಯೇ ಅಲ್ಲವೆ?

ಹೀಗೆ ಸಾಗಿದ ಯೋಚನೆಯ ಯಾನಕ್ಕೆ ರಸ್ತೆಯ ತಡೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿತು - ಕೆಳಗಿನಿಂದ ಮನೆಯವರ ಕೂಗು ಬಂದಿತ್ತು. ಆ ವೇಳೆಗೆ ಹೂವುಗಳನ್ನು ಬಿಡಿಸಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಕೆಲಸಕ್ಕೆ ಹೊತ್ತಾಗುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂದು ಬಗೆದು ಸರಸರನೆ ನಡೆದೆ.

ವಿ. ಸೂ - ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಹೊಸ ೨೦೦೮ರ ಶುಭಾಶಯಗಳು. ಕೆಲಸ ಹೆಚ್ಚು. ಬರೆಯಲು ಸಮಯವೇ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಮೇಲಿನ ಬರಹದ ಸಂಗತಿಯಾಗಿ ಒಂದು ತಿಂಗಳಿಗೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಕಾಲ ಕಳೆದಿದೆ. ಈಗ ಮೇಲೆ ಹಾಕಲು ಸಮಯ ಬಂದಿತು. ಕೆಲಸದ ಮಾತನ್ನು ಬಿಡಿ - ಎಂದಿನಂತೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಿಯೇ ಇದೆ :)