Monday, March 13, 2017

Flying Boat

 When I was a kid, during my kindergarten & 1st standard times, I was close friends with a boy named Saravanan. We used to do paper craft together. One of the exotic models was that of a flying boat. It looks like a usual paper boat but has two wings projecting from the center. I learned the steps from Saravanan. I remember the procedure more as a journey, with every crease and fold, a new adventure in the journey that leads to a destination where the boat will be waiting for me, to fly up and away to a limitless beyond. There are several ways to fold in some steps, with only one of those options that takes me a step closer to the flying boat. In my mind it's more like forking pathways in the journey, if I do not choose the right one, I will not reach to the flying boat, but to some other weird looking structure.
      Luckily, back then, I had a travel companion in this journey: Saravanan. We used to tread together, him leading the way and choosing the right path. After walking the same path together a few times, I was able to do it by myself without his company.
   I moved to a new city, new school and new friends. Too young and too technologically limited, I couldn't keep in touch with my old school friends. But, whenever I made the flying boat, I used to feel that Saravanan was with me, that our friendship was still going on. This has been the case with each aspect of my learning and being, reminding me of someone or some moment in my past. It's like, as I walk through life, I break away little crumbs from people and moments, and glue those crumbs onto me so that it becomes a part of me.
      But with time, I forgot the right path. I was never able to find my way back to the flying boat again. As I grew up, I learnt origami which opened door to a lot of exotic and difficult adventures, but the flying boat still remains an unfulfilled journey. Even today, In my mind, I am lost somewhere, having taken a wrong turn too many, lonely, scared and wishing Saravanan was with me. I've not just lost my way to the flying boat, but also to the innocence of childhood, to simpler yet creative times and to the magic of growing up!

My dear flying boat, will I find my way to you again? Or will I just wither away, enacting an adult in this adult world?
Oh Saravanan! wherever you are, please come with your flying boat and rescue me, teach me the magic again!

Google will help me make a paper flying boat, but alas, it cannot help me regain everything else the flying boat stands for! The journey remains unfinished...

Friday, April 26, 2013


A scientific study of the cohesive and shear forces caused by thermal and phase change interactions between pulverized colloidal Oryza Sativa and its mold.
Dedicated to my Mom, or rather the absence of who at home enabled me, or rather forced me to venture into perilous, uncharted territories of the kitchen world.

                It so happens that, due to a series of unrelated events, blame chaos theory, our lovely family household has turned into a sort of bachelor pad run by me and another young(at heart) lad( read my Dad). This put me in a singular situation, kitchen patrol! Though I am pro all the way that pro can ever walk for gender equality, my conventional bringing up did not offer me an opportunity of running the kitchen patrol up to until now. This opened up the door to test some kitchen myths. This particular entry is a scientific study of the cohesive and shear forces caused by thermal and phase change interactions between pulverized colloidal Oryza Sativa and its mold or in kitchen patrol terms, the myth that by cooling the back of the idli pan by making tap water run over it, the idli won’t stick to the mold when we remove it. Now this procedure must have been in practice ever since tap water invaded the culinary territory in association with another procedure, dipping the idli spoon in cold water before scooping out each piece of idli. In my opinion the spoon dipping seems to be effective but when my Dad suggested that I do the invert-pan-run-tap water over procedure too, I was not sure if that will help. So I set out on the journey to find whether it is really effective in removing the idli from the pan without small pieces of it getting stuck in the mold and not just any journey but the unbiased and just journey of the “Scientific method” and experimental design.

                In my opinion, the scientific method or design of experiments(DOE) is the first thing that we should teach our children before we go through the one-two-three’s or A B C’s, not because I am a self-proclaimed rationalist but because I believe the best thing to teach kids is to teach them how to teach themselves and the best way to teach oneself is through the scientific method because it is the perfect recipe which has a pinch of this and a pinch of that and a whole lot of double blinding which shields us from our own mind playing tricks on us to tilt to one side of the hypothesis or the other. The absence of double blinding can lead to things like placebo effect- the term you would have come across if u had listened to arguments between theists and atheists, mostly in online forums, the before mentioned effect being often misquoted and misunderstood by the theists due to the very same reason the placebo phenomenon study was later on re-scrutiny proved to be inconclusive: simple fricking human bias!

            Firstly, I had five pans of hot idlis which needed to be scooped. I quickly formed the null hypothesis before the idlis lost more steam: There is no relation between cooling the bottom of the pan and the stickiness of the idli.

          First, I took a pan of Idli. I did not do the “procedure”. I tried scooping out the 4 idlis in the pan without cooling the back of the pan. I observed how much of the idli is stuck back in the pan. Next, I took another pan of idli. I turned it upside down and let the tap water cool the pan bottom a good few seconds. Then I scooped out the idlis. My observation concluded that there was no significant difference in the amount of idli stuck back in the pan. But the scientific method is about reproducibility of results. Also at this juncture it is important to point out that the experiment is not a pure controlled experiment but rather field experiment, meaning the subjects of my experiment- the idlis and the pans, were neither chosen by random sampling nor were they cooked under controlled conditions to render other factors influencing the stickiness uniform.
            I had three more pans left. Yes, that’s a good 20 idlis we have for breakfast me and my “bachelor pad” roomie, minus the one we keep for the crow. That’s tradition, more about it later. So in order to counter inter-pan variability of the factors, this time, I cooled only two of the four molds in the pan. Now comes the tricky part, introducing the data blind. If I know which two of the idlis are cooled and which two are not, then it might skew my observation due to bias. Now, I can call my Dad to scoop out the idli and observe the “residues” but it would mean I have to make him understand the intricacies of the important scientific experiment that is in process which is not a good idea especially when you are hungry enough to break a fast! So I closed my eyes and gave the pan a spin, so that when it comes to rest, I wouldn’t know which two idlis are treated and which two are as such. As I closed my eyes, the thought of my dad walking in on me with my eyes closed and the pan spinning briefly crossed my mind but luckily my experiment proceeded without interruption. I followed the same procedure with all three pans, the result: my null hypothesis holds! Cooling the bottom of the pan has no significant effect on the stickiness of the idlis! MYTH BUSTED.
                Until the next experiment crops up from under the stove or around the corner of supper, adieu and remember, Scientific method is the best thing to teach someone to teach themselves.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

yosichifications of India!

Its been a while. today i'd like to take you along a recent train of thoughts i had. It ivolves industrial revolution, KFC and evolution.yes, Industrial revolution. thats where it all began. Mass marketed mass produced mass capitalism leading to mass consumerism leading to mass extinction of local ecosystems! Life took a giant leap from normality cos of it. globalization is a direct consequence of the outlook industrial revolution gave us. All is well, but there are certain things we fail to take into account. things, which do not have immediate effect but on a long run prove detrimental to the very survival of our race. Like the chicken on my plate right now. it was reared in some mass production poultry farm miles away which i have no connection to, and probably it grew to be obese with all the grain surplus and space deficit, later killed, processed, probably frozen, transported and now its on my plate along with various other ingredients with their fair share of the story of how far they have come to be on my plate. But i do not feel connected to the chicken on my meal plate. I have not seen this particular chicken before in my life, when it was alive or atleast when i was being cooked. The essential "chicken"ness is totally absent! it feels so unchickenly and artificial. whats worse, people get used to this artificiality.

why all the fuss you may ask. Let us go back by about three decades and consider the same meal. the chicken i eat will the be the same chicken which grew in my back yard, consuming the left overs of the house, thouse providing the crucial link for a complete nutrient cycle: whatever we leave out in our food, the chicken eats it and it inturn comes back to us when we eat the chicken. our whole life was in sync with all the natural cycles we are interwined with. But now globalization has screwed us big time. we consume food which is in no way part of our local eco-cycle. the sewage system also does not help in closing the cycle. the open-ended mass consumerism bull shit with no care for life-cycle management of products, use and throw mentality, out of sight out of mind attitude, its all in a big way fucking up our lives in ways we cannot fathom yet. we are no longer part of small happy local eco-cycles. we are  now a small part of a larger artificial globalization wheel, a wheel so large enough that no one knows for sure if the wheel comes a full circle, which i'm sure its not with all this open ended supply chains and utter disregard to recycling

the only solace is that evolution will take over and we will adapt to the change circumstances of our living environment. But experience has taught us there is a critical point for everything beyond irreversibility kicks in and everything just collapses into the never-ending logic of increase in entropy. nature's way of getting back at us! We cannot stop this global wheel and get back to our smaller wheels. But what we can do is, be conscious of the drastic change we are subjecting ourselves to and extend our control on things we can control, like recycling for example. on a larger level we can device economic and social models to incorporate both global supply chain as well as local self-sufficient economy/ecology. but what i think we should do first is to wake up from the hypnotic mind crapping consumerism bondage and start consuming just enough for our survival and not for increasing the bank balance of the capitalists. we buy things, we eat things, which we do not actually need. we buy them to fill a void which we feel inside of us, a void which has been effectively capitlazed upon by mass marketing. But this void cannot be filled by the chicken you eat or the ipod you buy, it requires a much simpler, subjective product which won't cost you any money. i'll deal with it ilater. as of now, if we follow simple things like recycling, being conscious of closing our open energy/food/nutrient/supply cycles most of our nutrient disorders will disappear and we will long healthy lives without the need for medical help. Nature is the best medicine

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stories I like - 3: Indian Superstitions

There once lived a man named sidhu in a village. He was well learned in ancient medicine and used to treat the village people for ailments. He used to concoct his own medicines from locally available herbs. He had two disciples who were working under him as apprentices. He was very old. So soon the disciples were expected to take over his role.
Sidhu also had a pet cat with him. He used to keep the cat in a basket and close it whenever he was preparing the medicines when people came. The reason being that, one of the ingredients for preparing the medicine was milk and thus the cat used to sneak up and drink the milk kept for the procedure. So he started putting the cat in the basket. The disciples who had joined much later on did not know this but were just observing this.

Soon, Sidhu was long gone and so was the cat. The disciples took over his role. It was usual practice for the people coming in need of medicine to bring the ingredients as well.
Now a days, The disciples instruct the villagers who visit to bring a cat as well as a basket to cover it with!

Stories I like - 2: Indian elections

Bubbly was a first standard student. one evening he came to his mom and said, "Mom, please tell me the story of ramayana. My teacher has said that there will be a quiz tomorrow on it and whoever says the correct answer will win a prize" So Bubbly's mom sat him down and told him the story of ramayan.

The next evening, Bubbly came running to his mom as soon as he got down from the school van, hugged her and said that he has won the prize! Mom was so happy and she asked " so what question did the teacher ask?"
Bubbly said "He asked us "for how many years Ram was sent to forest?" I replied 8 years and won the prize! I'm so happy mommy. Thanks for telling me the story"

His mom was shocked. She had clearly mentioned to bubbly the previous evening the ram was sent to the forest for 14 years. But the kid had forgotten. But, how could the teacher mistake the figure? does the teacher really know about ramayan? questions were racing in her head. She decided to meet the teacher the next day.

Next day:
Mom: Sir, you have given prize to my son even though he said the wrong answer. whats this about? Do you not know that 14 years is the right answer? I think you have to brush up ramayan before telling it to the students.
Teacher: No no, Madam. I know ramayan like the back of my hand. But when i asked the question, among all the answers your son's answer of 8 years was the closest to 14 years. That is why I gave him the prize!

Mom: o_O !

Stories I like - 1: Indian elementary Education

Long long ago there lived a man in a village. His hobby was to grow parrots. He had a whole company of them. He was so fond of his birds. He did not cage them. The parrots were free to roam/fly about. Once he had to go on a visit to the next village in a month's time. He was concerned about his parrots. Some hunter might catch them in his absence. So what he did, every day he sat with the birds and said
 "we are intelligent. We'll not fly to a place where the hunter has set his trap. We'll not fly down and land on the trap net. We'll not feed on the bait grains he has kept. we'll not get caught". He kept on saying it every day and soon the parrots learnt to speak what he was telling them.
Happy, he left the village feeling sure no harm will come to his parrots. The very next day a hunter happened to notice the large company of parrots. Immediately he took out his net and set up the trap.

The parrots attracted by the bait started flying towards the trap. They were all saying "we are intelligent. We'll not fly to a place where the hunter has set his trap" and  they were saying "We'll not fly down and land on the trap net" as they flew down and landed on the trap. Then they started happily munching on the grains as they said " We'll not feed on the bait grains he has kept. we'll not get caught" and that's when the hunter wrapped up his net trapping all the parrots inside it. He was one happy man!

As the hunter left the scene with his rewards there were faint echoes of the words
"we are intelligent... we'll not get caught..."
"we are intelligent... we'll not get caught..."
"we are intelligent... we'll not get caught..."

Sunday, April 10, 2011


           Women! I find Women very interesting. Not just because men are naturally programmed to find them interesting, there is something to them which demands the attention of my aquarian curiosity. Just one chromosome different in the cellular level and what a difference it ramifies into in the macroscopic scale! the way women think is totally, i mean totally different from how men think. Maybe that is why I find "women" an interesting subject to ponder upon. I have been trying to grasp and understand the woman psyche. Naturally the first subject of my study is my mom. Now, my parents are from a conservative rural background.  So from early on, i was aware of the social inequality and male chauvinism and stuff. In fact this early awareness is what has made me a feminist. Most guys find the term "feminist" uncomfortable because they think that the term has an effect on their sexuality. But, I know that I am man enough and I am not afraid to be tagged as a feminist.
               But my conventional bringing up and the environment i was in has poured in some of the chauvenism inside me too!. Its like my nature is something but I have realized something else is right and i try to stick to what is right. For eg, I feel that women should have active career and social life, but my girlfriend did find sometimes my behaviour to contradict that feeling. Its a war! A war between what is right and what i(currently) am! Since I am confronting it inside myself, i find it easy to fight the chauvinism outside me; around me
            For a major part of my life I have been exposed to women in the role of a mother. This has biased my views considerably which i came to realize recently during a discussion with one of my friends. I was debating that mother's day is also a day of celebration of women other than woman's day. My reason being that motherhood is nothing but womanhood expressed in its strongest and most beautiful form. But she told me that many women would take offence on my reason. It was a great shock to me! Why would any girl feel offended for associating her womanhood with motherhood? I thought rather she would feel proud... I couldnt initially believe it. But slowly I realized that it is a natural reaction. We  have been forcing women into motherhood in a way equivalent to slavery/slaughter that during this age of transformation where woman liberty is slowly being realized,  women actually feel repelled by motherhood. It is then, natural that they find my reason offensive.But soon after liberation is fully realized, women will cool down and start looking at motherhood differently. But that doesnt mean my reasoning is correct too. Motherhood is not  "the strongest" way in which womanhood can be expressed. Its just one of the many ways which a woman can put to use her womanhood. But as I have witnessed womanhood expressed only in the form of motherhood most of the time, i have come to a subconcsious conclusion that motherhood is "the strongest" form of womanhood. In the future, when liberation is complete and equilibrium  is achieved, my reasons will still be flawed but also women will take my reasons to be rather weird than offensive.

Until such a time comes, the war rages on...