Looking forward to 2015

Every year passes like a rigmarole and we look forward to the next. It is almost mechanical, but that was never how it was supposed to be. It starts with gusto and somewhere down the line everyone loses enthusiasm and it all becomes about counting the days to the next new year, yet another start.

I am not saying we should make 2015 different. Maybe we should, you should. But that is another story for another day.

As I pen this, I am reflecting on the how much of our lives we lead thinking about what others think about us. And when everyone does that, the earth just seems like a more considerate place, but it is not.

Your dog, almost certainly, is a better person than you.

This is nothing more than being fashionably selfish. To think, not of others and their needs, but other’s views about ourselves. Since it all comes right back to us, it really is a mere manifestation of selfishness.

There’s a reason why a dog is man’s best friend: there is more your dog can teach you than any person, book or religious scripture on Earth. His undying enthusiasm for you, his love, his affection, and how it never drops and only ever grows in leaps and bounds — humans can never have the same feelings. The fact is simple: your dog, almost certainly, is a better person than you.

In 2015, it is important to prioritise without shunning; to decide what is important without pushing aside the less important. To treat people with respect and go out of your way to help them. Not block, but bind. Which brings to mind something my physics teacher at school had said: “This world does not need smart people; this world needs good people.”

In 2015, try to be a good person with a direction, and practice tolerance and inclusiveness. Treat the world as your family. To be the bigger person and to understand that not everyone has seen the world — forgive me if I sound like I patronizes; the devilry of narrow-mindedness has only recently become clear to me. Everyone makes mistakes; one ought to acknowledge and forgive. Then forget. So acknowledge mankind’s worst mistake: religion.

On Physics and Hinduism

At the entrance to the Centre for European Nuclear Research (CERN) stands a 2 metre tall statue of the Hindu deity, Nataraja (see above). To the unaware, it looks like something out of place: something that does not belong in one of the world’s largest scientific research institutions. But it is only one instance of the compatibility between physics and Hinduism.

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The soft bigotry of low expectations

I will throw this out there, so never blame me if it seems sudden or unplanned. As I sit here at my desk, a strange mass of words comes to me: the soft bigotry of low expectations.

What does it mean? Often, what we hear in our minds is nothing more than what we have once heard aurally. I set out to find the origin of this — almost weird — phrase, and I managed to track it down to a little speech that the former U.S. president, George W. Bush, had delivered at a National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) convention.

So what did Mr Bush — or his speechwriter — mean by this? He was speaking in reference to the education system and these words gave rise to several opinions, all based on similar lines.

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Air pollution

On one of my recent travels, as I was driving over lush, green mountains I happened to spot a pillar of thick smoke rising in the distance. On approaching it I was horrified to find a line of bushes on fire.

It was clearly a raging fire that had died down by the time I came near it, but one look at it would make anybody guilty of even driving a car. The pollution, the black soot, the suffocating heat — they were all sickening.

And behind the orange flames and heat waves rising from the ground on a gloomy, 18°C morning, I spotted the worst of the lot: forest rangers.

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Thoughts on Minimalism as a lifestyle

Minimalism is a big word. And it is not what you think it means.

A lot of people I know have caught onto minimalism from my religious adaptation of the philosophy how much ever they may want to deny where it stems from.

Minimalism is not about having little; minimalist design is not about having only what is necessary. Quite the contrary: minimalism is about having lots but presented with careful thought so it does not appear overwhelming. Minimalism is serving you ample food while not making you feel overfed.

To all those who follow a minimalist principle, the least I can do is urge you to read Edward de Bono’s book, “Simplicity”.

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Inheriting a new typewriter

Although in one of my earlier articles (published in a magazine elsewhere) I voiced my opinion on how we rightly ought to attribute the fall of handwriting to the typewriter, my own love for these machines — a somewhat dangerously crazy urge to collect them — has never dwindled. I spoke about this too, earlier, where I had put in this photograph of my manual Olympia typewriter:

Well, the great news is, I recently inherited, so to speak, a 62-year-old Royal Quiet Deluxe (or de luxe, if you want to be picky), which my granduncle, Venkataram, (that is right: by count, I would be Venkatram IV in our family, but why would I call myself that?) had used in his time. In all possibility, since he was a scientist, this machine spewed out some nice research papers in the 50s – 80s.

He went on to be chronicled in the World Who’s Who for his contribution to botany (for those of you who are unaware, that is a definitive biographical reference of everybody who made important contributions to mankind, such as scientific development etc.), so, yes, this typewriter has quite a history.

I decided to share some photographs of this new addition to my typewriter collection. (All photos were taken with my GALAXY Note 3 because my dSLR was otherwise occupied.) Here are about eight photographs or so:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I sure hope you liked it. When I have time, I will probably try to make a couple of photographs with my dSLR as well, just to satisfy my curiosity of how much better I can make it turn out, because my phone has continuously impressed me with its capabilities.

Also, here is a remarkable stream of golden light I saw streaming through one of the windows at home this evening:

All this reminds me of Bobby Darin’s “Beautiful things”. If you have not listened to it, you probably should.

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Mobile photography, part 3: my return to mobile photography

My joy knows no bounds today because my camera phone (whose wrecked lens glass I wrote about a week or so ago) was finally repaired. Samsung’s customer service was a tad slow in mailing the part (“We don’t get many with that phone here” the man at the service desk told me) but once it arrived, fixing it was easy and lasted as long as a stroll around the nearby bookstore.

The daredevil that I am, I made my first (somewhat) proper photograph as I waited at a traffic signal on the way back:

The weather was gloomy so I cautiously decided to stay at home, but a little later into the evening, as the weather got brighter (or at least as bright as it could just before the sun set), I went for a pretty long walk and made several more photographs.

 

 

First of all, I was just glad to have a working camera. But just as important was making sure it worked perfectly, just as well as — if not better than — before it cracked. The exposure, focus and the whole shebang was spot on, and I was in a race against time to make photographs before darkness set in and noise conquered my screen.

 

In pitch darkness: this is no dSLR, but you cannot deny it is very impressive

 

In case you are looking for part one and two of this collection of short reports on mobile photography (and if you want to see more photographs), you will not find them labelled as parts but as Mobile photography and dedicated cameras: where do they lie? and More indulgence in mobile photography.

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