Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fate of thought provoking movies

Audience reaction to movies like Donnie Darko, The Fountain, No Smoking, Mullholand Drive etc...


Friday, May 22, 2009

Hope...

“Hope is a good thing..
…maybe the best of things…
…and no good thing ever dies”
This is what Andy Dufresne wrote in a letter to “Red” in “The Shawshank Redemption” with the “hope” that his friend would one day come and read this.
So why am I rambling about hope now? Because I feel sometimes we forget to “hope”, sometimes we just feel like giving in, sometimes we just don’t think its possible to continue anymore, sometimes we feel that we have lost.
Hope is what makes us go on, makes us give another try, makes us feel like we are going to be successful this time. It’s the only driving force which helps a person continue in a path where everything seems to be coming in the opposite direction. Its difficult to start in a direction if one doesn’t hope that she will reach the destination. Every act of life is done with a “hope”.
Yet people abandon hope in situations when its most needed. They think that hope is a dangerous thing, it can drive a man insane because it brings more failures, more pain, more sufferings. When Thomas Edison was questioned after his innumerable successive failures in building a light bulb, he replied “We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb”. Had he discontinued after a moment we would have lived in the dark age for a while longer because eventually somebody IS going to invent the bulb, someone who hoped and believed she can make the bulb. The sweetness of success is directly proportional to the number of failures (remember the numerous failed attempts of solving a physics numerical and then finally being able to solve it? And then feeling like you were a Newton yourself?) and that pleasure of achieving it makes the whole effort worthwhile. I believe that if we achieve things very easily we don’t value it also, the mere fact that I had to toil a lot to achieve it makes it dear to me. However just hoping isn’t always enough, it needs to be backed by an honest effort to reach your goal.
The hopes and dreams of an individual is what defines her. Nobody can touch your hope, its inside you and drives you to your destination.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Science of Religion

Religion has always been something that grabbed my attention, and I always tried to understand it. It always evokes strong response from believers and non-believers alike. It's like the mysterious concept which is so hard to comprehend that one either follows it blindly with no questions asked or dismisses it without even considering it for a moment. I am more inclined towards the latter, though not completely. I want to believe in it but can't give in without being convinced, so I continue to lie in between the two ends.
Rituals, practices and mythology are an intricate part of a religion. I always thought that if one could understand why such rituals existed then one would be able to define the concept religion. People follow these rituals and practices even without understanding why do they do it. Frankly, no one has the answer as to why do they do it. The question trail always leads to a dead end. All the mythological stories seems to be a figment of imagination and unrealistic. I recently completed reading the Foundation series by Asimov. It offered a line of thought which might be a way to explain the current situation we are in.
Imagine the present technological world that we live in. We use a lot of things in our daily life like computer, oven, refrigerator, cars etc. We never care as to think how these things work as long as they are serving the purpose. Now suppose if we remove the scientists from this world or to make it more realistic the new generation hardly cares to enter the research area and the knowledge doesn’t pass on, such that the knowledge and concepts related to making these things work is not present with anyone. We only have the details about their workings in text books and stories which make use of them. The companies are still able to make these things because they still have the setup intact and may even reproduce the whole thing at other locations. We still have all the utilities of our daily life but gradually the production of these utilities would go down because the companies would become conservation about the quantity they produce because they realize they can’t make any enhancements or keep on reproducing the factories.
This is the stage when there is no technological progress and the world is at a stand still in the technological aspect. Slowly these utilities become a privilege of very few people.
One thing to keep in mind over here is that the changes suggested above are not instant ones i.e. over a couple of decades, I am talking over here changes occurring over a couple of centuries.
These utilities become the privilege of few and when the production of these things stop after some time, these things are passed on as legacy items which only these few people know to operate. For other people these become mysterious objects which are able to perform miracles, and the stories about these things become mythological.
It would be better to picture the whole thing using examples. Suppose we take the electrolysis experiment that we studied in our school, where we could electroplate rods with gold or silver. Now if we carry out the same experiment in front of someone who has never studied science and heard of electrolysis, he would consider the electrolytic cell as a magical object which converts things into gold or silver. If we have books which talk about airplanes now and 2,000 years down the line if technology becomes it own doom and we no longer have airplanes, all such stories would appear to be mythological. A parallel could be drawn here with the Hindu mythological bird Garuda which is considered to be the mount of Vishnu.
So now if we look at all the practices prevalent now, I’ll talk about the Hindu rituals, they may have a history attached to it. For ex: using incense sticks (soothing effect or room freshener?), tulsi leaves (medicinal properties?), fasting on specific days of on week (ancient custom of dieting?). These are a very small set of examples, but a logic may exist for a lot of them because I feel there would be a substantial number of them which exists for without any reason. Even mythological stories may have explanations for example (again from Hindu mythological epics): the classic Lakshman Rekha (highly advanced form of laser ray which allows unidirectional permit), floating rocks which had “Ram” written on it (Rocks undergoing a treatment called “Ram” which makes them floatable or it could entirely be made up of materials which floats on water and having the name of the company which manufactures them i.e. “Ram”?) and so on.
The point I am trying to make here is that if the scientific knowledge ceases to exist, then tales and objects of the scientific age makes up a religion in order to explain the history.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sunday, September 14, 2008

To my love with love...

Sometimes some people come in your life and touch you in that special way that it doesn't remain the same anymore. One finds words incapable of expressing the feelings that he goes through. I used to wonder what actually happens, what drives a person to such a state; but was never able to find an answer. Until now. I realise now the emotions, the thoughts that one undergoes.

It all started when I got introduced to her for the first time, at first I didn't find anything special about her but still there was something which made me be with her for the initial days. I didn't have a clue what I was getting into at first, I could never imagine how my life would be with her in the future. Still I continued not wondering about the results, not caring about the future, just enjoying the moment I was with her. I never realised when I started making time to be with her, I felt good being with her. I felt a connect between us, something which I had never felt before. The more I came to know about her, the more I started liking her. I was able to be more true to myself in front of her than I was with everybody else, I felt comfortable being with her. Then came 'the' moment when I realised that I could not live without her, I wanted to be with her everytime. I wanted to be a part of her world, I wanted to live in it. It seemed now that my life revolved around her, I couldn't even think for a moment without thinking about her. I could see my whole future with her.

I started dreaming about her. I thought about her when I woke up, when I ate, when I drank. I kept thinking about her during the lectures, professors words kept on reminding me about her. I thought about the things we did yesterday, the moment we spend together, about the things that I would do in the future in the lecture. I thought about her during lunch, during dinner....I used to think about her every moment when I was not with her. I was having a great time being with her and I hoped that it would remain like this forever. It felt as if we are destined to be together. But the cruel hand of fate didn't think so.

We got separated. I am now lonely without her. I always try to be in contact with her. But it doesn't feel the same, I miss her a lot now. I remember the old days and try to comfort myself thinking about those. The desire to be with her increases day by day, but I know I have to control myself because my future depends on it. This self restraint would gurantee me a future that I have always wanted. Something which would make us both happy. So I guess I have to live with it.
God, I miss GAMING...and nobody does gaming here in IIMC :-(

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The business of religion

I was thinking of some cool title for this write up and came up with this, some how I get the feeling it isn't cool enough. This is going to be a rambling about how the workings of religion are very similar to that of a business. Let me add a disclaimer here that I intend no offence to any religion in particular, I will try to avoid naming any religion but some times it becomes unavoidable so pardon me for it. All the opinions expressed here are strictly of the author (though I got the idea from an article I read somewhere, don't remember the source, but the development on it has been strictly mine).
Let's start from the start :-) Religion requires a good leader who is able to share his vision with the rest of the people who in turn start following them, quite identical to a person who starts a company and starts off with a small group of people who believe in the concept. The importance of the leader is quite evident from the fact that most of the religion (Company) present in today's world is identified with the person (CEO/Founder) who preaches it. However after a religion gains a major following (becomes a big company), one of the followers with the support of a segment start having an idea of their own and they break off from the parent religion and start a new religion (company) of their own. For ex: the emergence of Christianity from the Jews. There are a lot of parallels in the business world, for ex: A T Kearney being started by Tom Kearney, an ex Mckinsey employee.
Then comes the expanding of the religion. This is very similar to the way companies expand their business. Religion is spread (marketed) by priests (sales people) in the existing region. It then is spread to other geographical regions by messengers (branch expansion). This spread in other regions is then customised a bit to suit the general needs of the people present there. A very interesting theory that I came across was one presented in the movie "The man from earth" where it suggested that Jesus may have been a disciple of Buddha and came to mediterranean lands and preached it in the modern form which was more tailored for the people over there. This is quite identical to the way a company enters a new market overseas.
Now when there are quite a number of players (religion) in the market, competition starts. The fight for the market share begins. Every religion wants to retain its existing followers and convert the people following other religion into their own. The methods adopted by the priests of each religion to retain and gain the market the share is quite similar to the one adopted by the various companies. They try to show the superiority of their religion (in a way the product/service by following it), aggresively publicise it and try to bring out the benefits that one gets by following it compared to other. They generally target three levels in the Maslow's need theory i.e. Safety, Love/Belonging and Self Actualization.
Now as a follower (consumer) switching of religion (changing products offered by different brands) involved no cost, we could actually list down the kind of religion one would prefer to follow based on the features/services provided i.e. segmentation based on age. I will give the preferences for various age intervals based on my preference (strictly my preference!).

1. ~ 0-18 yrs : religion which provides gurantee of support from the family, encourages the importance of family (no divorces, remarriage etc.) so that focus could be more on development and foundation.
2. ~ 19-29 yrs : religion which provides independences, one doesn't get bogged down by rituals and restrictions. This represents the growth period of an individual.
3. ~30-45 yrs : this is kinda similar to the interval of 0-18 yrs, where the importance of family again enters (no divorces, remarriage etc.). Represents the maturity period of a individual.
4. >45 yrs : religion which provides a strong community support system. Represents the decline period of an individual.

Based on this market segmentation each religion can target its own sector and try to enter other sectors.

The purpose of this write up is not make any statement or pass a judgement. It's meant to give some food for thought as to how the religion system is working and in which direction its headed. Most of us are really not sure if there is a need of religion, maybe this perspective can give a direction in which the answer can be found.