I have added this article in order to corroborate the reports (from casual, unsuspecting observers) of senile geriatric decay at an accelerated rate in my person.

Excerpts from the incoherent mumblings recorded (in Dolby 'hy-stereo') while seeing the Light at the end of the Tunnel

"terii aukaat hii kyaa hai?"

This question has been raised by many a screen villain and/or a haughty father of wealthy heroines. This qualification automatically makes the question a subject of instant ridicule and entertainment that accompanies it. But, the same question as posed by philosophers and thinkers – ancient and modern – is as grave and serious as a question can be.

What is the standing of a mere mortal human this universe? There have been most intriguing theories regarding mortal existence, some of which even manage to look realistic from a scientific and rational perspective. In his theory, the noted biologist Richard Dawkins argues that humans (and for that matter all life forms) are merely the survival machines of genes. The genes use the survival machines for replication and leave them. In the real world with limited resources, replication of genes leads to an increase in the number of these machines, which is detrimental to the gene's blind objective function of maximizing replication. Therefore, the ‘aging gene’ – to discard the used machines after their job of replication is done.

Ancient philosophers like the creator(s) of Bhadvad-Geeta propound that as a person changes soiled clothes everyday (though some of you do not) and wears new ‘Surf-Excelled’ clothes, a ‘soul’ changes bodies. However, the concepts of ‘soul’, ‘self’ and ‘consciousness’ are rendered redundant according to new philosophers (such as Daniel Dennett), since all these are just a manifestation of the extrapolation by the human brain and hence, attributable to the ‘mundane’ electrochemical activities occurring in the brain. Impressive as the words may seem, they are merely as physical as digestion, excretion and reproduction.

Whatever the philosophers propound, the insignificance of our lives is manifested in all walks of life. A casual glance at the night sky may easily make (even) a BBC Mastermind India finalist face a flurry self-humbling philosophical rapid-fire questions such as ‘What is all this? What is the size of the universe? Who are we? WHY are we?’ and other crap of a similar genre. And yet, in the social sense, we are hell-bent on proving our status and standing, by being self-important, by running after goals, by being proud of achievements, by conjuring up a ‘divine’ cause for creation and so on. The reality is that we have reached a stage where we can’t help doing all this though we realize our insignificance. And I think that’s what is called being ‘human’.

Taken in a more materialistic sense, the above questions can be re-phrased as ('re-phrasing' is what great philosophers do when they run out of objectivity and I want to sound like a great philosopher.): Do achievements mean a lot in terms of existence? Does a human being have to be a great achiever in order to lead a ‘successful’ existence? How is ‘Success’ defined? Does a human being benefit from being remembered even after the being perishes? What is the achievement of the so-called ‘common man’?

Sahir Ludhianvi, the great lyricist, defines this achievement of us ‘common men’ in an insightful sher. These ball-bearings of life (as the great Marathi humourist Pu. La. Deshpande calls them), take all the wear and tear of the society and keep on going. Had all these ‘common men’ been great leaders and achievers and thinkers and scientists and artists and geniuses, would there be any value for greatness? Who would bear all the grunt of mediocrity? (On a side note: I think mediocrity and genius is viewed on a fractal scale. You find geniuses on a global scale, then you descend to a local scale to further find a set of local geniuses and so on. Every individual seems to be an institution in itself if viewed on a suitable local scale! In addition, there could be imagined another local scale describing the variation in one's own (relative) genius and mediocrity, not only in terms of different attributes, but also at different times.)

Sahir (having forgiven me for the detour) says,

"maanaa ki is zamiin ko na gulzaar kar sake
kucch Khaar kam to kar gaye, guzare jidhar se ham..."

Arthaat: “I know that I couldn’t create gardens on this earth. But I did manage to clear some thorns on the way (by picking them up with my feet!)…” The 'common men' take a lot of beating from life and we all learn from the mistakes of common men like ourselves. That is probably the ‘value’ of our existence.

The convenient moral of the story is that the concept of ‘value’ lies in how one looks at life. (It is not, but I could not find a suitable story to match the pre-determined moral.)

If the attitude is the so-called 'positive' one, there is a value to everything. At the same time, with the most cynical of the attitudes, even if one finds that there is no value to one’s life, it is also apparent that one cannot help the situation. Therefore, one need not be bothered about one’s miniscule existence. Living life as it unfolds may be better than engaging in a quest for value or purpose and getting pained on the way. And if the quest for a 'thinking man' reveals that the human existence is excruciatingly insignificant, one should have the courage to take it – rather than building pillars like God and religion to support the house so slight that it can float in thin air.

After all, whatever we mortals say about ‘greatness’, ‘value’ and ‘purpose’, the truth could be as simple as ‘It does not matter’. Everything is a mere perturbation in the greater picture of the universe, a mere drop moving here and there in the vast expanse of the sea of existence.

Well, maybe we are better off not thinking about these things in the first place. Maybe I should have chosen a better subject. Maybe you shouldn’t have gone through this article and sat in front of your screens looking like complete jerks having nothing worthwhile to do whatsoever. Maybe… ^C


Added commenting (has neat garbage collection features).
Now one can clog the blog with comments, as the same one knows that one (or the other) cannot be executed for commenting.


Disclaimer: My humble bloginning is probably enough to keep the readers sedate for another week. The following is based on a highly true story. All characters are real, except the surrealistic hen.

A refreshed account also contains additions that were arrived at in consultation with C (one of the leading characters in the following narrative).

In seach of Taaya

A couple of days back, a friend of mine, C, (who is normally referred to as PJPVNJ - 'praaN jaaye par vachan na jaaye' - death before breaking a promise), promised his father that he would attend to household duties and 'get the flooring fixed' (some sort of masonary work - remember E. A. Poe's 'the Tell-tale Heart'?) by the end of the day. Having given the 'vachan' and not in the mood to part with his 'praaN', C snoogled ('Snail mail' : vanilla post :: 'Snoogle' [snail google] : making a couple of calls here and there and getting information without worrying about its validity) and found a couple of places where he could get the required raw material. He embarked on a remarkably successful quest at the end of which he was in possession of a couple of bags full of cement, sand and all such delightful stuff.

However, he soon realized that he was missing the two biggest pieces in the puzzle - the mason (called the 'gavanDi' in local dialect) and his apprentice (called the 'bigaarii'). The mason who had worked for him in the past was one 'Taayappa' - affectionately called 'Taaya' by his acquaintances (who happens to be the centre of attention of the following narrative). C, being a methodical person, defined his problem clearly and crisply - Taaya, for all practical purposes, was not around.

After some more snoogling, C found that the guy whom he should approach in cases where one is confronted with a missing Taaya, would be a guy called 'Siddhu-sheT', who happened to be a labour contractor. Snoogle.com defined the whereabouts of Siddhu-sheT by a Heisenbergian definition as 'he could be at his home or with his mistress or with others on the Yerawada corner'. Though the first option seemed probable and the second one interesting, C settled for the third owing to his own spatial proximity to Yerawada.

There was indeed a bunch of people, who could be called either Siddhu-sheT or Taaya or something similar, at the Yerawada corner. C floated an enquiry about Siddhu-sheT. A random bloke happened to be a distant relative of Siddhu-sheT, and much to the relief of C, volunteered to take C to Siddhu-sheT's place.

A ten-minute drive through intricate roadwork led C and the random bloke (henceforth referred to as RB) to Siddhu-sheT's house. Siddhu-sheT was promptly missing. Questioning the housemaid (of the neighbouring house) revealed that there was a paan-Thelaa round the corner where Siddhu-sheT normally hung around. Somewhat dejected at having missed the opportunity of locating Siddhu-sheT with his mistress, C was somewhat relieved on not finding Siddhu-sheT at the paan-Thelaa. However, every cloud has a silver lining (though it normally rains heavily after you notice such things), and the same was provided by another individual, who skillfully spitting the red-coloured content of his mouth, introduced himself as 'Soma', the 'most-preferred' apprentice of Taaya.

RB was very happy that he had helped a troubled-looking guy like C in finding a relevant contact, if not Siddhu-sheT, and demanded that he be dropped back to the Yerawada corner. C promptly thanked RB and came back to Soma after a round trip to the Yerawada corner.

Having made some progress in the quest for Taaya and sporting a brand new pillion rider (Soma) on his two-wheeler, C was almost complacent till Soma expressed his plan to navigate C to Taaya's abode - slums behind Yerawada. After a parking his vehicle hoping that none of the spares would be available in the chor-bazaar the following day, C followed Soma through the Byzantine labyrinth of the slum interiors. At Taaya's door, however, he was greeted by a lock and a questioning hen. The crowing of the hen did not reveal much about Taaya's whereabouts.

Soma suggested that they go to 'Naagappa', who being a relation of Taaya, would definitely know about his whereabouts. A couple of blocks worth of slum-trotting took C and Soma to Naagappa, who expressed that a certain 'James' (residence: Tadiwala road chawls), and only that certain James would be able to provide reliable information about the coordinates of Taaya. He said that he himself was merely a relation and not a close friend like James who happened to be the drinking partner of Taaya. He also cribbed that Taaya did not even reveal his recent purchase of an M-80 (a lesser self-propelled two-wheeler) to him and he would greet Taaya with a reproachful stance the next time they happened to meet.

As one following this narrative patiently would correctly guess, C and Soma DID go to James's place and James was NOT found at his place. The hopes of finding Taaya were dwindling fast and C could imagine himself being confronted by the possibility of making a choice between 'praaN' and 'vachan'. Soma was already tired and wished to be dropped back to his place. C took off with a heavy heart in the general direction of Soma's destination.

Little did he know about the event that was about to happen and re-re-kindle his hopes.

As C was nearing the end of Soma's journey, a disheveled man sprang out of a dark lane, like a tiger conducting a mock springing drill in the absence of a suitable prey. His eyes were red, hair disoriented, face livid with anger. Despite the general frightful picture, Soma uttered a happy exclamation (which could have also qualified as an expression of fright). C soon realized the motivation behind Soma's utterance - the new appearance on the scene was none other than Taaya!

Even in the apparent disturbed state, Taaya greeted C and did what C had hoped would not happen. He expressed his inability to attend to C's requirements, owing to 'certain urgent household duties' that he had to attend. C urged Taaya to come with him right away and then attend to his household duties later in the evening. But Taaya was firm.

His manner reiterated the firmness while he narrated the reason for his inability to attend to C's needs. He said that his 10-year old son was beaten up by one of his fellow classmates (an event that probably is an integral part of the daily educational experience of an average Indian). So he went to the perpetrator's father and beat him up in order to settle things quickly. C expressed that it indeed was the right thing to do and congratulated Taaya on the successful bash-up. After doing so, he returned to the all-important question of whether Taaya would not be able to resume his normal duties. Taaya was however of the opinion that the perpetrator's father was not a man who deserved such a mild dosage of one-time beating. He would need extra attention and would have to be beaten up for some more time, that too in a public display.

Down but not out, C asked Taaya what would be a good time for him to come to work once he had taken care of all the necessary violence. (Addition: He even offered to drive Taaya to the residence of the perpetrator's father, while he would wait till Taaya discharged his duties.) Taaya maintained that he would be able to come only on the next day, since all the involved activities would consume the rest of the day. (Addition: Subconsciously recognizing the pains taken by C to locate him, Taaya ordered a 300 ml Pepsi for C and shared a 200 ml one with Soma.)

Finally, Taaya continued waiting for his victim, and C went home with a heavier heart after learning that the other two probables who could substitute Taaya were also not available. 'Jagling' (as in 'Jagalingappa', and not 'Juggling') was away on a visit to his town to 'settle certain land disputes' and would not be back before the month-end. 'Krishna' would not be available, since he, as some kind of a rule, would NOT work on days when India played International cricket (much to the disgust of C and like-minded people out to find masons who would not work on such days, India did play West Indies that day). C dropped Soma somewhere on the way and returned home with one of the heaviest hearts around. Promises had been broken and that was more than losing one's life, anyway. Therefore, C postponed any indulgence in thinking about life-threatening activities for the time being.

No promises were broken on the following day. Taaya turned up with a satisfied, peaceful smile that could only be attained by a Buddha after achieving Nirvana or by paid actresses in TV commercials on having found the right detergent soap. Violence had, indeed, ended in supreme peace for Taaya.

Another placid smile reigned on the face of C who would not have to worry about making and breaking of promises, at least for that day.


that much blog is good enough for the time being. great things start small... (then they grow big and that's when the trouble starts.)