Back home

When school was over, I though I would be eternally depressed for the rest of my life. Seriously, the guys from my class were the coolest – and I would cringe at the thought of leaving all of them. But that hasn’t happened. I’m happier than I’ve ever been before…the guys (and girls!) in college are equally fantastic. I’m learning to play table tennis from friends, and learning to play guitar from another friend who is equally interested in string theory as he is in guitar strings. Friends may change, but friendship is here to stay.

But now, I’m back home after a five hour journey by train. Suddenly, everything comes back washing over me like a torrent of freezing water. The moments spent dreaming, reading Fundamentals of Physics and science fiction instead of school books, gazing alone with a telescope. Today, as I went past the countryside, I saw two boys in uniform standing under a sunshade sipping juice packets. An ordinary sight – but it hurt me like a stabbed heart reminding me of childhood happiness.

I will be going back to Trichy by bus tomorrow. It is strange, being just a visitor to your own home, isn’t it?

????

The question marks indicate that the current post is consisted mainly of many pointless ravings, all of them with no commonality (except for the fact that I wrote all of them) and bearing no particular relationship with one another; thus naming it with a title is as silly as, say, naming a dustbin.

First off, things are getting pretty cloudy over here – both literally and metaphorically. Literally because it is the monsoon season this time of the year here; and this fact robbed me of many opportunities to wonder at the night sky with my good old telescope – one of my favourite past times. Metaphorically because I am becoming sort of gloomy nowadays.  Well, it is not unusual to find me sinking to the endless abysses of depression – but this particular episode comes in time when I thought that I would be truly happy.

The reasons? Well, I did not get a seat in a college I wished to join; that is to say, the chance that I would get a good seat in NIT – Trichy is about as much as the chance that North Korea would disarm itself of nukes. I didn’t score that well in the board exams either. The fact that my mom barely speaks of any other topic other than admissions – either to me or to her relatives and neighbours, not letting me forget my failures,  continually reminding me that I should have secured much more marks in the Public exams isn’t exactly helping me either. Neither are the facts that my dear dad is away in Ranchi, that my best friend isn’t talking to me much or in a few weeks all our classmates will be separated and leading new lives. Gosh, I so need to lighten up. It’s not like I am too emotional or anything. Its a sort of a feeling which goes in a diffferent dimension from the happiness-sadness scale – the lack of happiness makes me feel so…void.

On a much happier note, I finally began to write the first few sentences of Good night,  Part 3. I’m pretty sure you will like it when it comes out tomorrow or the day after…and I have quite decided upon a framework for the story’s ending, although the details are a bit fuzzy.

And finally, the last piece of junk in this rambling post.  A certain blog-mate once asked me to make an ambigram for her name, Ashwini. (I repeat drearily, an ambigram is a word so designed such that it looks the same up side down) Well I finally set my hands on the task today, and finished it.

ashwini

Ok, I know what you are gonna say: there is no way that those combinations of curves looks like anything near the word Ashwini. I admit, this was one of the most difficult ambis I have ever made – I somehow made it look better by adding special effects in Photoshop. The point is, it looks the same upside down. 😀

Until Good Night: Part 3,  sayonora guys!

Those who dream of the stars

“We do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarly, we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens…The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.”  — Johannes Kepler, astronomer.
One of my best friends, Kashyap, is such a polar opposite of me that I forever wonder that how we ended up being friends.  Closed-minded and cynical, he is quite uninterested in art, disregards anything involving creativity, ponders on the “usefulness”  of imagination, never reads books, indifferent towards politics and skeptical of space-exploration (good reasons to have several quarrels with someone).   Nevertheless, he was kind and considerate. That was enough.
Once, I went to visit him. We were chatting when his young brother, Sudhir, turned up.  Now, imagine oil and water being in the same container. That would have been an apt analogy – Kasyap and Sudhir were another pair of opposites. Sudhi had read dozens of books (not unlike me, huh?); had a wide field of interest, ranging from F1 to Harry Potter – and, as I would later learn, astronomy.
Night came, Kashyap slept pretty soon. (I was staying there for the night.) Sudhir came to the room and soon struck up a conversation. It was then I found about him. Suddenly, it seemed like, you know, my young self had somehow materialized before me. He was some five years younger than me, entering his 9th std, but he was full of knowledge. No, not like those show-offs who think they know it all, but truly and genuinely curious. It was not long before we went to the high balcony, where the dramatic lights and the night cityscape of Coimbatore was laid in front of us in full detail; and started talking about black holes, red giants, and the ultimate destruction of all life as we know it. Two bright stars shone in front of us, above the Eastern horizon.
“The bright, red one over there is the star Arcturus. It’s a huge red giant, and our sun will become like it one day in several hundred million years, probably swallowing the Earth. Now, that is global warming!” I said. “The one to the right is Spica: it is actually a two – star system, but they are so far away that you can see them only as one.”
He looked at me incredulously, with bright, shining eyes. “You know the names of all the stars?”
“Umm…yeah, all the bright stars at least. I was learning this stuff in my 10th std. instead of studying the things at school.”
That brought us to the topic of education. We both shared the view the education system was bad, as it only teaches memorising and does not foster curiosity.
Soon, he started talking about Ronaldo and F1 racing. One problem: I did not know about F1 or football. So, he offered to show me some of collection of pictures of the players and racers. Somehow,  F1 racing had escaped my interest zone. But, unlike Kasyap, I was curious about everything. That was all that mattered.
“I had never met any one like you – you know so much,” I said.
“Oh, shut up. Are you kidding? Do I know the names of all stars?”
I was into astronomy since I was a kid. But it was a book that really fired me up. I still remember the moment as though it happened yesterday – three years ago, when I entered a bookstore and randomly drew up the book Cosmos by Carl Sagan. Things have never been the same ever since. It was not long after that I bought a good telescope, and saw wonders in the night sky that I could scarcely have imagined before that. I told him about that.
“Could I borrow Cosmos for a while?”
If this incident had been a scene in a movie, this would have been a good time for a flashback. About the time I bought the book, I was a total loner – perhaps understandably so. I rarely felt understood by my parents or friends, who disregarded my interests. I resolved that I would keep the stuff close to my heart to myself. I would never talk about space or science to anyone, never lend Cosmos to the interested. Could I borrow Cosmos for a while? The innocent question lingered in my mind…
“Yes, of course you can,” I said without hesitation.”Passing the torch” is an expression frequently used that could come in many forms. In this case, though, it was “passing the book.”
Suddenly, everything seemed to have come together – space, sports, Harry Potter – it all seemed as though the vast variety of human thought, expression and deeds was there perfectly in front of us, suddenly so easy to touch, feel and to know. The night sky seemed to have descended, the light-years contracted – until it was available for two young human beings to explore and to be immersed in. Not even the greatest mysteries of the Cosmos could defeat us – for eventually, long after we have turned to dust, our curiosity shall be victorious.
A few weeks after I met Sudhir, I had almost forgotten him as I had to face my life’s most toughest moments, the darkest hours in my 17 year old life. I sat upon the rooftop parapet of my house and watched the sun set. The sky changed colours gracefully, elegantly. Minutes became hours and night descended upon the deadly calm. Towards the gloomy Eastern horizon, a cloud shifted and dissipated. Two bright stars appeared. Arcturus and Spica. Despite the tragedy and chaos that surrounded me then, my tears faded into meaningless obscurity and insignificance, as I looked upon the stars and remembered people like Sudhir. People who are not afraid to be curious, who are bound to discover – the few of those who dream of the stars.

flammarion-cosmos


“We do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarly, we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens…The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.”

— Johannes Kepler, astronomer.

One of my best friends, Kashyap, is such a polar opposite of me that I forever wonder that how we ended up being friends.  Closed-minded and cynical, he is quite uninterested in art, disregards anything involving creativity, ponders on the “usefulness”  of imagination, never reads books, indifferent towards politics and skeptical of space-exploration (good reasons to have several quarrels with someone).   Nevertheless, he was kind and considerate. That was enough.

Once, I went to visit him. We were chatting when his young brother, Sudhir, turned up.  Now, imagine oil and water being in the same container. That would have been an apt analogy – Kasyap and Sudhir were another pair of opposites. Sudhi had read dozens of books (not unlike me, huh?); had a wide field of interest, ranging from F1 to Harry Potter – and, as I would later learn, astronomy. Continue reading “Those who dream of the stars”

Things You May Not Know About Me

Sure, this blog has a nice, long ‘about me’ section which dutifully describes me. Still, I did not reveal some of my great secrets. Blogger Evanescent Thoughts “tagged” me, which means I have to spill out seven of my gazillion lil’ secrets. So, here goes!!

cl

  1. I did not do well in the Public: After spending my last year in intellectual imprisonment (aka school :)) , I did not do well in the Plus Two public examinations. I don’t regret it, but it is sorta annoying when the whole world thinks you are a superstudier and you suddenly realize that you could no longer mug up all the tons of equations. Well, there is still the BITSAT entrance where I hope I’ll succeed.
  2. I love books. Indeed, I want to write several: Not unlike Evanescent huh?? Books sort of speak to me everyday. It is my secret desire to write at least one novel about life in school, several science-fiction and thriller novels, maybe some good romance ones …NO! STOP LAUGHING!!!
  3. I’m kind of a loner: Ok, I’m a human. I have loads of friends at school. But when it comes to the deepest, importentest, things in my life – things that I cherish with all my heart and my mind – all the attraction for literature, the love of astronomy – I am a kind of a loner. I have built my life along all those things. It’s always been like that. Still, if someone were to come up with genuine interests similar to mine, he would be someone special to me.  Well, that is not exactly what you’d call a loner…But still I like to think myself as solitary.
  4. My nickname is “Cho Chang”: Ok, rewind to my 7th standard. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book had just been released, and I was caught up in the mania that followed. That was why some wise jester decided to call me Cho Chang, because I “loved” Harry Potter!!
  5. I don’t believe in God: Not the elephant headed, many limbed or monkey like Gods of my religion, or the magically Resurrected one of Christianity or what we commonly think of when someone says “God”, to be precise. Those are way too fantastic. However, I have no trouble believing that Nature, or the sum of all laws of the Universe could be God. This is just an opinion, ok guys? I’m not intolerant, you have the complete right to have any beliefs.
  6. Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Whitman,  E. M. Forster, Albus Dumbledore, Oscar Wilde and I have something in common. Exactly what, I’ll leave as an assignment. 🙂
  7. I have not told anybody – parents, friends – about this blog. Weird huh?

***

PS: As per the First Law of Blogging Dynamics, I’m supposed to “tag” seven more bloggers, so that they post their lil’ secrets. I’m too lazy to think of anyone after writing something this long. Wonder what happens when you break a law…(screams as several men in black suits and cooling glasses come and seize me from my computer.)

When you are in Saturn

You are on board the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, and you have finally reached your destination – Saturn. You look at that yellow, misty, orb circled by breathtaking rings.   You watch the curious interplay between light and dark – the shadows of ring on planet and planet on ring, the sunlight reflecting off the clouds. How would it be if you were on the surface of the planet? The ring would arc from horizon to horizon, faintly illuminated by the sun – a permanent feature in the sky. You watch the moons, Rhea and Dione and Enceladus and much more go past the planet, and one of the largest is Titan – a world so cold that gases such as methane exist as liquids – entire lakes of liquids, complete with shorelines and rivulets. What if you were on Titan? The ground is quite slushy, the atmosphere is thick. If somebody lived there, maybe they wouldn’t even know about Saturn or stars or the sun because of the misty sky. But you could imagine a sudden and rare break through the clouds – and the sky would temporarily reveal all its wonders. Titan was perhaps how the earth was billions of years ago – will it be our new home billions of years later?

The views are still breathtaking – once you happened to pass behind the planet –  in the shadow region, the planet eclipsing the sun. And somewhere, perhaps between the rings, you see a pale blue dot. Home.

Christ, It’s Mars

The sky is huge. You don’t know how huge it is and you will never know. The colours in it are so rich and the clouds make patterns so various that the eye will never stop getting constant nourishment. Sunsets cause the clouds to blush with the deepest red and the rest of the sky turns into an ocean with the deepest blue.

I walk around the bus stop through swarms of people oblivious to both their environment and to each other…each locked inside their own heads. I look at them and suddenly I’m afraid. I know what people can do to me.

The stars. They are white blue diamonds suspended in an impenetrable blackness. Each may be a sun to someone. If you look up at them and wonder whether there’s life in any, there might be someone else looking back, possibly entertaining the same absurd notion.

But people just don’t look up. They chose to look straight ahead instead of up. They wonder briefly – too briefly – and go back to their everyday routine. Emptiness swallows everybody’s heart sometimes and spreads and multiplies like a virus, until everyone of them has learned not to appreciate, love or wonder. Faces become blank, expressionless. Thats what people can do to me. the virus eats my heart too – its black tentacles erasing all that is wonderful and lovely. Thats the society I know. We’ve learnt not to learn…
I watch the vehicles pass by in the bus stop. The headlights are like white bullets against a black road…they pass by in a blur before you can see any detail. It feels as though the bullets are not in the road…maybe its inside my mind…

Thats how I feel like sometimes – as though someone has scribbled graffiti in my heart. Its all chaos and no order. I hoped my bus will turn up soon.

I look up, and thats it. The sky . There was a full moon rising. and above it was this beautiful blob of red light. It was Mars. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but whenever you do you feel all alone and desperate – like the planet itself. I feel like shouting, “Look up everybody! That’s Mars over there!”. Hmmmm. Doesn’t sound too encouraging. Unlike pictures from astrology magazines or romanticized movies, it was so tiny…

My friend showed up. We exchanged greetings and settled to an equilibrium state of watching the white bullets pass by. Silence hung like heavy air. I looked at him. His left profile was illuminated by moonlight – he looked almost ghastly. I couldn’t resist – I showed him Mars. I braced myself expecting a oh-no-don’t-start-again sort of look from him. Or worse – a sharp , piercing “So what?”

Instead, he was surprised and asked whether I was sure. He stared at it for…four, five, six, seven full seconds. Even in the presence of streetlights and white bullets, some of Mars’ terrifying charm reached both of us…..You look at Mars, Mars looks back at you. It’s an unblinking red eye in the sky.

I hoped I could stay with him a little longer, but my bus came. I wished him goodbye and boarded the bus.  There was nothing to do except watch through the window. If you don’t do that you have to stare at blank expressionless faces. I love windows. If you look through them, there are lots of things you can see – if you had an artist’s eye. There are millions of tiny details, textures, patterns, colours…enough to overwhelm anybody who tries to take it all in…and yet no one was overwhelmed.

When I finally reached home, I went directly to the top of the building. You can get a clear view of the sky from here –  not much trees or buildings, but still there were street lights. I sighed. Suddenly, everything went dark – as though someone drew a black blanket over the city. I took a while to realize that it was one of the occasional power cuts. Now, with no power, the only light came from the stars. there were atleast a hundred –  maybe a thousand…more and more seemed to be coming. The sky was beautiful. Life was calling. It was Christmas, after all.