Friday, March 29, 2013

Where s my butterfly ?

            It seems the clocks have stopped their parade when they glanced into my text. Bainite, crystallographic textures and microstructures were creeping in my pages like a bug trying to find its prey.  I was already eyeing my watch, in an agonizing wait for the needles to kiss at noon. With my palms resting my face and my eyelids were pretty eager to come down. To my horror, they have already met once and next in queue were my grey cells. They seem to embrace my Pandora world with alacrity, the bio luminescent creatures jumping around me. Floating mountains, rivers tasting like trickle or the shades left in my palms when butterflies touched me.  Now there’s whirlpool, trying to suck all my hallucinations in to an abyss. I almost lost balance in trying my act of staying alert. I cursed myself for not draining a mug of coffee to keep my eyes open, so that I could launch my plan B.

            Now it was my desktop’s turn to go into sleep mode and I decided to take a stroll. Perhaps I was blank with no really thoughts to brew in my mind. The crowded cafeteria and buzzing library were no more attractive to me. Before my thoughts could zero in a location, I found my legs taking me to the spot which I walk across daily- The Lake at my university. It was a windy day that made the water perform its ballet dance in the form of ripples to an empty theatre. Occasionally, the very few eucalyptus trees that adorned the lake acknowledged their presence by a ghastly blow. The blow rendered the dusty brown colored ducks to quack. Most serene things lie in front of us, but we fail to acknowledge it, like the shimmering lake and solitary girl in the lawn beside the lake.

            By now you would have guessed what my plan B was. I slipped myself under a tree not too far away from the girl. There was a sudden burst of clouds trying to storm in and hang above my heads. I had a half smile when I saw for the day’s weather forecast in my phone. “Bright sunshine for the next four days”. I wondered how mankind always wanted to move ahead in a race with the nature. Ironically, the nature doesn’t mind us; neither as a competitor nor finds itself in a race. That’s how Lorenz would have felt few decades back. It’s time to talk about the man who tried to tie up the loose ends of chaos and order.

            Lorenz was a meteorology professor in MIT, simulating weather patterns which were based on 12 different variables. He left his office to grab a coffee leaving the machine to run. When he came back, he found a different set of results contradicting to the previous one. He was repeating a simulation so he was supposed to get similar kind of results, but to his surprise he found a result that could have a different perception on how we see nature. In his repetition, he had rounded off one variable from 0.506127 to .506. Such tiny alteration could have dramatic transformation in the weather pattern for the next two months, leaving behind Lorenz with a profound corollary of “Chaos theory” or the famous “Butterfly Effect”.

“Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?”

            Lorenz saw that if a system is more likely to vary on change rapidly, it is likely to produce a repeating sequence, to speak in English, it’s impossible to predict that changing systems. This ultimately draws us the trait of most natural systems, the chaos. Most things around us exhibit such outlandish phenomenon. The way the ducks move in this pond; arrangement of leaves in these eucalyptus trees; the irregular color tone of grass across the sprawling lawn shared by me and the dame. They all display chaotic behavior, a science that varies within its limits to maintain the chaos in order within itself.

“Tiny variations…. Never repeat and vastly affect the outcome – Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park”
          There’s a beautiful quote, ‘when chaos began, classical science stopped’. Early 20th century scientists were keen on inventing things to make humankind more comfortable by sacrificing few heavenly pleasures. They were basked in a special ignorance about this beautiful (I love to call it like that) disorder in nature. What they finally saw was an impeccable order in every chaos and disorderliness in most natural systems. Scientists from every field were digging to find orderliness and predict stuffs that were out of bound. Good economists don’t talk about markets for the next month. They knew it’s like plotting a graph with more than 8 or 9 variables in 3 dimensional space and doing an analysis.

“The key to unlocking the hidden structure of a chaotic system is in determining its preferred set of behaviors called as attractor”

   Our brain could be a perfect example of chaos being staged in an order by neuron signals. At this moment the millions of cells in my heart is working as a cohort in the right sequence to produce a beat or beat faster when the girl beside me smiles at me. These chaotic movements of the heart make it to pump for decades with less wear and tear. Now that we see chaos everywhere, but the first braggart who was chaotic, was our solar system. There pops another question is it possible to identify the butterfly (the driving force) behind the tornado, the answer is simple – No.

“If the flap of a butterfly’s wings can be instrumental in generating a tornado, it can equally well be instrumental in preventing a tornado”

This has led to another hot debate that has been driving several campaigns and political drama. If you can’t predict the weather beyond few days, then global warming becomes placebo and goes in our bins. Nature’s whimsical behavior could be attributed towards its complex roots. Trying to make out the pattern of stars in galaxy or the trivial smoke whirl from an agarbathi. The idea of trying to master nature is out of question, so we try to appreciate what really happens. When we try to exploit or provoke nature, it could be our folly; rather, try to enjoy and appreciate it, it could be your vector for a beautiful relationship.

“Chaos theory tries to find some underlying order in what happens to be random events or data”

The wonderful breeze that flows across with the grey clouds all geared up for the first shower of the month all seem so exhilarating to me. Also my appetite for muffin grew soon, before the first drop of rain landed on my brow. Before I could regain my composure, the rain came down, like children out of their school. The girl beside me stood up while she tried to stuff her Ipod and pink ear plugs in her kit.

“ Heyyy !! I have an umbrella, why don’t you pop in?  “

I thanked Lorentz for not arriving at an equation to predict the weather and my new friend nature for such a lovely day.

PS: Plan A was to look for plan B


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cinema - Now and then

            A small piece of glass which was ground to a particular geometry made revolutions. When this glass piece called lens was touched by light, it ended up in producing miracles. The miracle has bent our minds and teased the lobes of our brain. This magical affair between them (lens and light) has evolved through ages in producing visual treats in the name of CINEMA. This enthrallment has gripped people in the past in their seats; contrarily it had brought them to their edges or even made them to run away.

 The first motion cinema (actually second one, earlier one was a kissing scene by a couple, which aroused several controversies) was that of a train approaching a station, when it was screened, the whole crowd fled the theatre assuming a real train was approaching.That’s how cinema made an everlasting impact in the pristine minds of people. The cinema which broke my silence when, “Superstar gets his chewing gum in a stylish manner; Batman hisses to Bane, “..then you ll have my permission to die” or when the magnificent yellow bumblebee transforms into a monstrous roaring Camaro.       
            Cinema means a lot to me. Watching a movie in a theatre was always like a picnic, with my mom packing snacks in a pouch and getting to the movie halls an hour before, to avoid disappointments of house full sign. Watching the giant hoardings painted (nowadays they come in flux, which I loathe) in bright colors, with our villains at the legs of our super hero. The days are still fresh like a cream that floats in my cappuccino or speaking in a desi manner, fried cashews that adorns my mom’s payasam!!!

            Movies and my dad are so inseparable; I wonder how many movies we had seen. I still remember the day when he took me to “Jurassic park” movie.  The moment T-Rex (Tyrannosaurs) came on the huge screen; my mouth was wide open in disbelief and fingers gripping my dad’s arms tightly.Tears ebbed in my eyes, when the little girl Anjali dies in Maniratnam’s epic “Anjali”. I still doubt, if they make movies which has equal dosage of enjoyment and emotional elements.

            There was a period getting a ticket to our superstar flick was next to impossible, but now we have transformed through ages. We have moved towards “no queues, no worries”; with one touch flick we have the tickets delivered to our mobiles using apps and tech savvy stuffs. We have passed through Edison’s Kinetoscope to 3D stereoscopic fusion camera. The technology has jumped leaps and bounds in making movies that can teleport us to different world.

            Iconic directors believed in the art of storytelling using very little techniques. This art was mastered by Akira Kurosowa, Steven Spielberg and a very few (sorry if I had missed your favorite). The art is being slowly tarnished by the new age directors with technological wizardry. We now have movies that believed more in its 3D content and viral advertising propaganda. “Avengers” was a classic example of former and latter entities. The technological evolution and the art of storytelling haven’t been progressing at the same pace. The technological complexity seems to under play the narration or convey the message which it was supposed to.

Christopher Nolan could be the find of this decade perhaps; he has the craft of utilizing the technology to tease our grey matter and produce a cinematic excellence. Such craftiness was seen in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo”, the film that made the best use of 3D (next to avatar).  Some make movies for the sheer joy; they have for movies, like Tarantino. There could be no concrete plot but still the way each characters are etched , will make us sit through this pleasurable ride.

This discussion has its own boundaries within Hollywood, so it’s trivial to extend the debate with Indian or regional cinema. To some extent I should be happy that we still love to narrate or hear stories, just like a kid who loves to hear it from his/her granny. It’s a pity that Indian cinema is often reflected by Bollywood’s Khans and sensuous heroines. Every major film festival (Cannes, Toronto etc.) often have Indian celebrities as models for their vogue, we aren’t identified as film makers.

The country that is making films for the past 100 years has no dearth of talents. It fails to recognize them or it is biased to one particular section. FFI (Film Federation of India) recommends one film each year to Academy Awards (Oscars!!!), in that manner our ticket to Oscars was Barfi (a Hindi movie). I appreciate the pool of films from different languages, but still can’t they find the best. Bengali movies are aesthetics of true art and not to forget the South Indian films especially Tamil movies. At the end of the day, few cinematic excellence gets the reward it deserved (Aranya kandam- National Award-Debut Director)

This could sound as an elegy to the fading quality and failed recognition of true cinema. The celluloid world is looking down the barrel, with its major investors filing bankruptcy (Eastman Kodak). The transition towards digital era couldn’t be much debated due to crisis engulfing even most big companies. This has pushed us into a new era of independent and innovative film makers.

This new age has thrown its doors open for aspiring film makers to make intelligent films at shoe string budgets. The films that can wield technology to explore the creative land and evoke an emotion. The films have evolved to pro-filmic color and anamorphic dimensions, If this progression of technology continues leaving behind the quality, we would be left with popcorn entertainment and 3D glasses to shunt piracy

“The cinema began with a passionate, physical relationship between celluloid and the artists and craftsmen and technicians who handled it, manipulated it, and came to know it the way a lover comes to know every inch of the body of the beloved. No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings.”- Martin Scorsese


Friday, March 1, 2013

Pieces of my past

Every day bears it’s own recipe; a recipe that’s quite unique and never tries to replicate another one. This day was one such with its own blend of joy, happiness and tinged with grief. I was sitting in my bed with arms perfectly rested beside me and my toes down on one side of the bed. The quiet battle orchestrated between my grey cells and retina. Some could say that, something was eating up my mind, with my eyes locked with the limbs. My eyes were trying to focus on the wiggling of my toes, but my brain failed to indulge in such cheap pleasures.
All this melodrama came to an end, when I heard my mom calling my name, perhaps a nickname ‘bobby!!! Do a final check with your passport and visa papers!’ I was all set to leave Australia for my research program. The much awaited day of my life and perhaps the most important rung in my career ladder. Things have started to move with alacrity in the last couple of weeks. It was an acid trip for me with my mind caught in a whirlpool of events that has occurred in the last couple of days.
Felt a shot of adrenalin pumping in my blood, when my feet touched the bathroom floors. I never knew how I made it to the bathroom with my mind lost in a labyrinth of emotions. The cold water from the shower head rushed across my body and brought back my senses for a while. By now there was a whiff of steam from my mom’s idli kadai, making a mockery at my olfactory lobes. With a least resistance to this teasing appetite, I rushed myself to enjoy the breakfast.
Three idlies were lined beautifully in my plate in the form of a spade with a spoonful of coconut chutney and milagaipodi, making a perfect color balance in my plate. I wonder how long will it take for me to experience again such culinary delight. Every part of the breakfast tasted divine putting my plans in a spot of bother. My mom was making a remark, “Australia la idli kedai kadhu, ingeya nalla sapudu” (“ u won’t get idlies in Australia, so eat well”) .
How does it feel, when you know that you can’t taste your favorite filter coffee; walk across the road not caring a shit about the incoming traffic or you don’t have to wait for the signal; play the roadside cricket with broken bats and worn out cricket balls; travel in footboard in overflowing buses, just trying to catch a glimpse of that girl in red salwar; here comes the worst part, that you’ll be denied chances of watching thalaivar’s first day shows.
Man, this really sucks, wondering what I would do, being totally teleported to a different place, which is devoid of pleasures that I ve been enjoying since my childhood. I m wondering, do I really need to go through all this to earn in 5 digits and pay a sizeable amount in taxes for the Australian Government. The battle was still on inside my head, while my hands were busy trying to explore the empty pockets of my trousers.
Voices seem to echo from the living room and my brother came rushing inside the kitchen. “appa s calling!! “ Once I went inside the living room, I could find dad’s friend Chandrasekar uncle chatting with my dad.
“ enna thambi Australia kelambi achha?? “ (“ r u all set to fly Australia??”)
“ aama uncle, iniku night flight” (‘ m leaving tonight uncle”)
“aparam enna, payan Australia poi neriya earn panna poraan, inni ungaluku oru problem ila” ( once ur son earns u won’t any problem)
            I could see the hollowness dwelling in my dad’s face, but still he tried to conceal that with the smile of pride. Perhaps he was thinking about the first day of my school, where I was crying holding the bars of the window exhibiting all my tantrums. Wondering how things have changed or we‘ve been rushed through the banks of our lives when the fate was flooding.
            “ naan than romba kashta patuten, en payan atleast kashta pada koodathu,” (“I ve been toiling all my years, my son should live a comfortable life”)

            The eyes of my dad were ebbing with tears and he was looking at me, waiting for me to approve his last statement. Neither my head nodded nor words escaped from my mouth. My dad’s hands were holding my elbow, he does that when I look grim or sad, gesturing ‘everything’s going to be okay’.  I choked for words, but still I replied with my tears running down my cheek.
            “For your dreams“

I tried to write a honest one, without much fiction. 5 digit salary and taxes are the fictional part.