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Archive for the ‘Dissecting Life’ Category

Being Human

In Dissecting Life, Minds and Mindsets on July 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Human beings are quirky. Their eccentricity causes distrust to erupt naturally between two human beings. It is possibly a defense mechanism that stems from our survival instincts; the need to guard ourselves emotionally and physically from others’ thought processes.

Blessed abundantly with imagination, we are capable of a variety of actions. And each one of us is hardwired to perform a different set of actions which is governed by our “habits” or “character”. One human being is so fundamentally different from another that the absence of culture and discipline is bound to throw us haywire. We don’t know which stimuli will trigger what action in a human being. Maybe that is why cultures and traditions are forced to survive. It is important to have rules to induce normality into the system. Human beings are always in the need to create a society whose members have similar patterns of behaviour. It is the predictability of human behaviour that gives us a sense of security.

The society gives you the license to question when one does not behave the way one is expected to. It structures it with punishments to pull one back on track. Categorizing actions into acceptable and unacceptable makes life simpler by reducing the number of choices we need to make. Maybe that is why systems, with well defined customs, function well, for good or bad. Similar habits and beliefs build strong groups, organizations and armies.

Today, a strong sense of individuality is budding within people. With each one harbouring their own set of beliefs, it will become increasingly difficult to decipher people. It will become increasingly difficult to decide if your action is acceptable or unacceptable because each one will have an entirely different point of reference. The concept of “trust” will become obsolete because the basis of trust is an “expected” outcome.

Dying a natural death on soil…

In Dissecting Life on February 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm

My body will dehydrate, slowly. The evaporated water will meet other water molecules to from clouds that you may admire through the window of your flight. Some water will settle as dew on the windows of an old cottage. A part of me will be absorbed by a tree. I will rise through its capillaries and find my way into the leaves. And while the sun shines, chlorophyll and I will create magic.

Several insects and animals will consume me and I may make myself useful in their digestive systems. The water that once moisturized every cell of mine, will find its place in the web of a spider or the venom of a snake.

My flesh and blood will break down. There will be reactions; bonding, un-bonding. A wide variety of bacteria will thrive on my decaying body. Nitrogen, which once graced my system, will find its place in the roots of legumes growing in the farms nearby. As years pass, the carbon in me will find a new home. Nature will decide whether I become a part of a lattice that forms graphite or the one that forms diamonds.

My minerals will nurture multiple lives. The iron I once owned will be extracted from a spinach leaf to become a part of an iron tablet that may be consumed by a to-be-mother. I’ll be absorbed into a brand new human life. Yet another part of me will find its place in the fetus of an expectant giraffe.

Scattered, I shall live. Dispersed, I will exist in every form of nature.

Image: SweetCrisis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Complex Meat Balls

In Dissecting Life on September 20, 2011 at 10:40 am

I woke up this morning realizing the lumps of mucus coated meat we were as we shimmied out of the cervix. Ousted by the womb– “Here are your eyes–courtesy beautiful mother, your nose– your dad’s to blame, your mouth, your limbs… Take it or leave it!”–we tried to tune ourselves to consciousness, unaware of the complexity of our physical self.

What’s with the complexity? Intelligent, but whatever happened to simplicity! It amazes me how well equipped we are with an immensely complex apparatus that accepts inputs and gives appropriate outputs, thanks to the multiple holes, pores, orifices, etc. That’s right; we can pass off as strainers. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to bud off our mothers or grow from a strand of hair or something along those lines to keep things simple. Or better still, paraglide down the skies. I must admit, I am glad human babies don’t crack out of external eggs, ‘cause if your eggs go missing the last thing you want to see is masala omelet on your neighbour’s breakfast table. “Is that…?!”

 Anyway, if I were to create life, I’d keep it simple. We’d function like a solar panel and be an assembly of detachable organs. Then we’d go to the stores and sound something like this, “I’d like a pair of blue and green eyes each, two packets of violet, curly hair please, and yeah, a pair of waxed legs… no, not those, the tanned, long ones.” It would be quite fascinating to see a new you each day–so Mystique. People would be so much happier with themselves and their spouses.

Look at the billion species on this planet for simplicity’s sake! Had we been well endowed with hair, we’d be chimps. Had we walked on our fours and resembled a bitter gourd, we’d pass off as crocks. Had we resembled a jelly nosed Pinocchio, we’d be certified elephants. Had we been detached, moderately running noses, trailing as we slid, we’d be called snails. In case of mobile goat droppings, we’d be called roaches. Come to think of it, creating a new species is like giving the sensory organs a new look. Truth is nobody can beat Lady Gaga! So why not keep it simple.

I choose beef. Not that I mind multiple partners!

In Dissecting Life on August 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

Religious advertising campaigns are an open secret. Each religion gives you a book of stories and you get to choose which one you’d like to believe. Or let’s say you get to decide which one of them qualifies as non-fiction in your head. While one gives you the opportunity to go to heaven, the other guarantees your rebirth. While one let’s you take an eye for an eye, the other compels you to forgive. Yet another ensures that what goes around comes around (So, sit back and have some popcorn.). While one guarantees you multiple partners in heaven (bang on target!), the other guarantees you freedom from all desires. While one says God is around you, the other says He is inside you. While one stops you from consuming alcohol, the other stops you from eating beef and yet another stops you from eating roots. You also get to choose whether you’d like to be buried, burnt or eaten by vultures, when you say your last sayonara. If you are an atheist, you have choices too! You get to rot in hell unless of course hell lies at the centre of the earth in which case you have no choice but to get roasted, or you get to be reborn as a pig and chewed by pork eaters.

Converting? Anyone?

I Know What You Looked Like Last Summer

In Dissecting Life, Minds and Mindsets on June 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm

 Image by: Heptagon :: Image License

It won’t be easy for the Camera Age generations to see themselves wither away. Every moment captured in the Camera Age is a record that will have an important effect on your future. A lot of time will be spent in discussing what you used to do and how you used to look. At twenty one, you will stare at you pictures and think that you were an angel at three, clumsy at eleven and sported a ridiculous haircut at fifteen. At fifty, you will flip though the pages of another album to see your kids come into existence and grow in a more or less similar pattern– angel at three, clumsy at eleven and sporting a ridiculous haircut at fifteen. I sincerely hope twenty one is a pretty picture.

At sixty you will go through your pictures and see the wrinkles come into existence. You will notice your body go through a steady expansion or may be a series of expansions and contractions. Botox will be witness to your access to a reference point; an old picture. A picture that reminds you of what you no more are.

Before the Camera Age, youth was an illusion. Nobody ever remembered what they looked like when they were young and neither did the people around them. The mirror did all the talking, like it does even today, but only for that one moment. The mirror never revisits the same face or story again. But a picture has tales to tell as well as faces to show, of a frozen time. It’s another way of living in the past, living the past and sometimes wishing for a future that has already passed.

At eighty it will take courage (the other alternative being amnesia) to hold your picture against a mirror.

Believe It Or Not, I Don’t Know.

In Dissecting Life, Minds and Mindsets on June 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Statement: If Mr.X exists, he occupies room2.

Initial Conditions: A, B, C and Z are sitting in room1. Room1 has a door (opaque and solid) that opens into room2. The door is shut. Also, if the door is opened, nobody can see what occupies room2 unless he enters it.

Experiment:
Z enters room2. After a while, Z walks out and claims, “I met Mr.X.”
Later, Z asks the three guys, “Does Mr.X exist?”

A says, “Yes.”
B says, “No.”
C says, “I don’t know.”

Observation:
A takes the leap of “faith.” He believes Mr.X exists because he has faith in Z’s words.
B only believes what he sees. He believes Mr.X does not exist and will continue this way until he sees Mr.X himself. He has no faith in Z’s words.
C admits he doesn’t know. He is not concerned about what Z has to say.

Inference:
There are two possibilities:
Case I: Mr.X occupied room2.
Case II: Room2 was empty.

If Mr.X occupied room2, it means Mr.X exists. So, A’s belief is equal to the truth.
If Mr.X did not occupy room2, it means Mr.X does not exist. So, B’s belief is equal to the truth.
However, in both cases only one man is being true to himself and he is C because irrespective of whether Mr.X occupied the room or not, none of the three guys know the answer to the question- “Does Mr.X exist?” While A and B “believe,” C “knows” that he doesn’t know. Hence, “I don’t know” is the truth.

Conclusion:
The dead don’t know death any better than the born know birth. The most honest answer to some questions is, “I don’t know.” And all the alternate answers to those questions essentially begin with a “Maybe…”

The Complexity of Butterflies and Destinies

In Dissecting Life on March 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm

 

Our world is a complex system. In the midst of this complexity, if someone tells you that the flapping wings of the dainty butterfly in your garden is capable of setting tornados into motion (The Butterfly Effect- Chaos Theory), you’d think he needs a therapist. But if there is any truth in what he is saying, the smallest actions such as batting you eyelids can have outsized, unrelated, and unexpected consequences. The theory alerts us that the most insignificant occurrences in nature are not inconsequential. An infinitesimal action gathers momentum over a period of time to change the face of our delusionary “controlled system” of living. It makes life look like a joke; a complex version of The Truman Show.

If a butterfly can change weathers, I can prevent an epidemic by spending my evenings swatting flies. If you look at the events closely, you will notice that something as harmless as flapping a pair of wings can create a disastrous tornado while something as cruel as killing a fly can prevent large scale deaths. A seemingly insignificant event may be positive or negative (based on regular human moral standards) but that may not really have anything to do with the positivity or negativity of the situation that arises out of it.

If little things can lead to large things then probably large things can lead to much larger things, which is ultimately a collection of little things. So, can the motion of massive planets across the universe affect our insignificant existence? If the moon can cause changes in tide, it would be foolish to rule out the changes it can bring about within us. Maybe there is more to astrology than meets our eye. The birth date could be just a point of reference, an initial condition or a value to understand what moved in what direction to create what changes over what period of time. These external events could have created very basic changes such as temperature changes, mood changes, and radiations thus affecting human interactions, hormonal changes, or even perceptions to create the life pattern. This pattern can probably be graphed if life can be expressed as a combination of variables, measurements and forces. It can also be loosely labeled as “destiny”. Our story is probably a collection of external and internal events that naturally lead to actions, behaviors and reactions. But we believe that these actions, behaviors and reactions are of our own doing, will or choice. Maybe because there are so many factors affecting one little life, a prediction can never ever be accurate. But only human beings predict. Nature doesn’t have to calculate. The outcome is definite.

The movie 127 hours, highlights the outcome of an action (or actions) beautifully. At a certain point, in the movie, Aron Ralston seems to be convinced that the situation he is trapped in is an outcome of very simple, basic acts that he habitually performed. Aron says, “This rock has been waiting for me my entire life. Its entire life, ever since it was a bit of meteorite a million, billion years ago. In space. It’s been waiting, to come here. Right, right here. I’ve been moving towards it my entire life. The minute I was born, every breath that I’ve taken, every action has been leading me to this crack on the out surface.” Personally, it was heart wrenching to watch this man reach a moment of “realization” or “repentance” (depends on whether you think his actions were neutral or negative) and accept that he created the very thing he was trapped in. It was an incident waiting to happen; destined to happen ever since he was born.

Nature doesn’t say, “This is wrong!”

In Dissecting Life on February 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm

We are all great at mind games, aren’t we? We manipulate, consciously or subconsciously, to alter moves of people around us in order to get our work done. Although the Heavens would consider us unworthy of entry, nature presents a completely different picture.

This is what we saw. A bird poops. The snail feasts on the parasite infested poop. The parasite plays havoc in the digestive system, and then dances in the tentacles of the snail. Consequently, the wormlike tentacles get bitten off by the incognizant bird and the parasite gains entry into the bird’s rectum. In other words, Leucochloridium paradoxum takes over the snail’s brain and executes a perfect bird-deception plan and nobody complains or question’s the parasite’s intention or yells in desperation, “Leucochloridium paradoxum must be punished!”

Parasitic wasps have another story to narrate. They introduce their eggs into a host such as a lady bird, a mantis or a caterpillar. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the host until they grow into adults, killing the host. While the instincts are in motion, nature stands and stares.

Has anyone tried showing the wasp the “Right Path” or telling it, “Dude! This is not done!” Of course not. In nature, deception is a fair game. You deceive, you survive.

In the mean time, cuckoos hatch in a different bird’s nest. Yes, the mother cuckoo leaves her child in a stranger’s (the host) nest! The nest also contains the host’s eggs but the cuckoo’s egg always hatches first.  The host flies helter-skelter to provide the rapidly growing cuckoo with food. Not interested in sharing the feast, the now-not-so-little cuckoo throws the host’s eggs out. Baby cuckoo is pretty violent for a kid, isn’t it? Then again, who doesn’t want to enjoy monopoly?

It seems the little baby does not have the time to learn this act of violence so natural instinct is at play here. We can call it a result of genetic makeup. But does this mean that in order to eradicate destruction and violence in nature, you may have to alter the gene or destroy the creature altogether? Maybe the cuckoo just needs to see a counselor. Will a psychiatrist change the way a cuckoo behaves, I wonder? If chemicals, hormones and genes govern the human body, what could possibly be fair or unfair about human behavior?

While baby cuckoos get rid of their siblings, praying mantises eat their spouses alive during mating! “Praying” mantis? “Preying” mantis more like it!

Homosexuality in animals is not uncommon. (Turns out, there is more to nature than procreation.) With whiptail lizards reproducing without male interference, dolphins engaging in coercive sex and penguins turning to prostitution, “right” and “wrong” clearly never existed in nature.

The point I’m trying to make is this– if I step all over you in my pursuit of brilliance, don’t complain. It’s nature’s will!

Another Fool’s Paradise: Not Lonely Yet Alone

In Dissecting Life on February 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Image by: MrHope :: Image License

Sometimes you scan a room full of people and think about the story each one weaves. A story you don’t know. A story you will never know.

As a child I remember lying on my bed, staring into the dark and wondering if my parents would rush to my room if I screamed. I get that feeling, off and on, even today. It’s weird how your life is (more or less) confined to your body. All you know is yourself in that room. You know every moment, movement, emotion and position that you are in. When someone walks into the room, you perceive his moment, movement, emotion and position from your perspective. But the minute the person walks out of your sight, you don’t know anything about him. When a few minutes pass and he is still out of your sight and cannot be tracked by your ears either, it feels as though you’ve missed a part of his life. While you experience your life continuously, all you see is fractions of others’ lives. The only time you experience lives together is when you are a conjoint twin or when you are pregnant. All other times you are alone. It’s an odd feeling. It doesn’t make you feel lonely; it’s just awareness of your aloneness.

Alone, aware of it and sometimes unable to handle it, I can feel the universe point at me and grin– “You can’t do anything about it!” But I snap back –“I can pray. I am a part of you. You have to converge to separate me from ‘aloneness’.” The universe sighs, “So, you are telling me that life is complex, absurd and haphazard and all you can do is pray? Is that your solution?” Taken aback, I respond, “They say I need to blend into you.” The universe laughs, “You’ll blend into me when you die, whether you like it or not. While you are alive, just keep yourself occupied.”

Now I am alone, aware of it and speechless. It reminds me how depending on the universe only makes me weaker. So, I just grab the hand of every living being and experience life with them, although intermittently. I experience each one’s illusion with them and live each fool’s paradise.

Because you are worth it! Aren’t you?

In Dissecting Life, Minds and Mindsets on February 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Scenario #1:  You are thrown into a group of unknown faces and asked to talk about yourself.

Limitations: None.

Challenge: Prove your worth.

Let’s see. You shake hands or drop in a “hi” or exchange smiles (warm or fake) depending on your style. You ask a series of questions about their work, their qualifications, their lifestyle and their interests. You take the opportunity to disclose your achievements, mention your university (especially if prestigious), highlight your qualifications, your hobbies, maybe talk about the family and their achievements and so on. From the information gathered you more or less figure out the pay cheque received by your opponent and you give them an idea about what you receive. Then, you switch to general topics, maybe current issues, and drop in a few jargons or argue over facts and figures (the “who knows more” discussions).  By the end of the session you impress a few while some manage to impress you. You know where you stand based on the image you’ve created in the room.

Scenario #2: You are thrown into a group of unknown faces and asked to talk about yourself.

Limitations: Do not disclose your age, your qualifications, your job description, your investments and your achievements. Do not use any jargons because that may give the opponent hints. Similarly, do not talk about interests that give hints about your lifestyle.

Challenge: Prove your worth.

Let’s see. Who are you?