Chaos is a Ladder

These are the excerpts from the Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 6. I loved the exchange of words between Varys and Little Finger. Read this and this for more detailed context. I however, loved the words a lot. I find them appealing personally in the world we live in!

I did what I did for the good of the realm.

The realm? Do you know what the realm is?

It’s the thousand blades of Aegon’s enemies. A story we agree to tell each other over and over till we forget that it’s a lie.
But what do we have left once we abandon the lie?

Chaos. A gaping pit waiting to swallow us all.

Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again.

The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse.
They cling to the realm
or the gods
or love.

Illusions.

Only the ladder is real.

Depends what metaphor you attach to realm, blades, lie and illusions. But chaos rules ;-)

Tamilnadu Politics

I have had a nomadic, apolitical upbringing. I have appreciated logic, non-emotional and non-judgement way of life. I grew up in various SBI Officers’s quarters i.e. Orissa, Mumbai, Chennai and in Pondicherry. Also stayed briefly in the US in and around Berkeley. Then moved to Mumbai, Bangalore and then back to Chennai. I have never been passionate about Politics. I have voted only once in my entire life at Mumbai 4 years back and the candidate lost! In fact looked down upon it during my college days and continue to do so :-) I have always believed that the entire world is one country. An utopian or naive way of life. But over the last few years, I have come to terms with the fact that having been exposed to democracy as the way of life in the places I have visited it is important.  As part of work, I even participated in the Mobile SMS campaign for BJP as part of the last elections (in other words spam!)

I have always wondered why lots of my India friends have taken appreciating US politics more than India. Why the India TV channels create drama. Always admired the way students and people in US supported and had a view on the politics of its country. They way the US presidents talk, the UK House of Commons functions and why Indians mostly take up to yes-manism, chair throwing, buying votes. Pondered very briefly, Why can our representatives sit down as statesman and fix the real situation? And never get lost in who shouts the most and not have structured discussions. Whether if we were a dictatorship, India might be a better place to live :-) The statement from my physics professor who helped me prepare for IIT exams always comes to my mind when I think of these things : Thank God Physics doesn’t behave as democracy does. (He would ask a spot poll on what people think the answer is and the majority of intelligent people came up with wrong answers! ;-) )

Off late, Tamilnadu has been in the national news over the last few months. Main items have been the 2G scandal (which I don’t think is a scandal! Apparently Time lists the scandal as the biggest one after Watergate!!), AIDMK wining the state elections, Eminent fall of the DMK and now the Sri Lankan war crimes associated politics that have been affecting the Indian Nation. I think everyone should watch the video Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields  on youtube first before forming an opinion.

Anyway, the reason I decided to write this post was, I was not sure how do I get started to know or even started comprehending the political situation in Tamilnadu. And the best way I thought was history. But, I am very lazy when it comes to reading books and taking the effort to have a fact based opinion. Partly because at a gut level, I don’t care in my heart but my mind accepts I need to get educated! Its like if you are an engineer you don’t care about sales but for the success of the company sales is very important function! I happened to pick up a copy of Frontline (Jan 25, 2013 Issue) during my travels across india in Jan, Feb and Mar and it had very interesting articles about Tamilnadu politics and its history. Would love to discuss with some people who understand this more but just thought will blog it away for later reference.

The last article is very relevant to the current news that has lead the DMK to withdraw support from UPA and current TN Government deciding not allow Srilanka players to play the IPL while also making a resolution today to push for Sanctions, Trade Embargo against Sri Lanka and declaring that Sri Lanka is not a friendly nation to India. Though these developments are primary political in nature, the actions are being taken as a good portion does reflect the mood of the state. I think one should also see the movie Iruvar (also Aishwarya Rai’s debut movie?) to get a feel of the political climate then when AIDMK was founded. The rise of Jayalalithaa is also an amazing story, which I still don’t understand.

Tamil Eelam (A survey in late 2008 by the Tamil Nadu daily Ananda Vikatan found 55.4% of Indian Tamils in the state supported the separation of Tamil Eelam, while 34.63% supported a federal Tamil Eelam) is only point on which Tamilnadu stands together and no party wants to be seen lacking in terms of actions against it. Some quotes from the last article Tamil Nationalism – Then and Now:

The frequent references in Tamil Nadu and outside to “Tamil nationalist” and “Tamil protectionist” movements by leaders of the Patali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and other political parties are confusing and misleading.

These terms were initially used in the context of the struggle for Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. But their use in the context of Tamil Nadu calls for explanation. The concept of “Tamil nationalism” was initiated at the end of the 19th century mainly to protect the separate identity of the Tamil language. When a false impression was created that the pan Indian culture was Sanskrit, a section of educated Tamils asserted the point that Tamil culture was distinct from Sanskrit culture and demanded its independent recognition. This was followed by the non-Brahmin movement of the non-Brahmin upper castes (who identified Brahmins with Sanskrit) against Brahmin monopoly in education and employment in the first three decades of the 20th century and by E.V. Ramasamy Periyar’s Self-Respect Movement since 1925 and the Dravidian movement thereafter.

The non-Brahmin movement of the Justice Party founded in 1916; the Justice Party’s rise to power in the 1920 elections to the Madras Legislative Council through the “communal electorates”—a major outcome of its non-Brahmin movement; the Self-Respect movement founded by Periyar in 1925 with his long-term goals of establishing a rational egalitarian society; C.N. Annadurai’s acceptance of Periyar as his leader in 1935; their work together for the next 14 years when they changed the course of Tamil culture, politics and society, with Periyar more on the campaign side and Anna on the culture side; the related groundswell and efflorescence of the Dravidian movement from the 1930s to the 1960s; Anna’s entry into the Justice Party in 1935 when it was in its last gasp, which, as he revealed later, was “to convert the party of the affluent into a democratic and socialist party”; the Justice Party unwittingly facilitating this radical change by naming Periyar as its leader in 1938 when he was in jail for the anti-Hindi agitation.

Anna and Periyar together transforming the moribund Justice Party into the Dravidar Kazhagam (D.K., or Dravidar Federation) in 1944, laying the foundations of Tamil cultural and political nationalism in the province; the rupture between Anna and Periyar in 1949 when Anna left Periyar and the D.K. and founded the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, or Dravida Progressive Federation); Anna’s election to the Rajya Sabha in 1962, even as the DMK graduated to become the principal opposition party in the Madras legislature; Anna’s demand in his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha expounding his goal of an independent Dravida Nadu (Dravidian country), which Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru rejected in the House later; the Sixteenth Amendment to the Indian Constitution, which proscribed advocacy of secession and the DMK’s decision to drop its Dravida Nadu demand, all should be seen as precursors of the DMK’s rise to power in 1967.

Anna, after he became Chief Minister, used power to achieve the goals of the Dravidian movement, of Dravida Nadu. He named Madras State Tamil Nadu, enacted the progressive legalisation of self-respect marriages, which was central to Periyar’s Self-Respect Movement, encouraged inter-caste marriages by awarding gold medals to such couples, and, daringly, abolished Hindi as a mandatory subject in government schools.

Anna pleaded with the Centre for a constitutional realignment in favour of the States, and believed that India could play an international role when Indians “are socially integrated, economically self-reliant and work out ostensibly what can be federal and State subjects”. Anna’s DMK pioneered the advent of regional parties in India’s polity, providing a safe and democratic outlet for regional aspirations within a united India and the espousal and accommodation of linguistic cultural nationalism in India’s complex plural ethnic and religious mosaic.

After the breakup of the DMK in 1972 when film actor-turned-politician M.G. Ramachandran formed the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), later renamed the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the political landscape of Tamil Nadu spawned many new parties, each for the promotion of a single caste, mainly to gain from the loaves and fishes of public office, have a share in the State’s caste-based power play and a larger slice of the cake in its caste-based reservation politics.

The PMK is a product of this caste-centred political churning. Its single-point political agenda has fostered the Vanniyar caste, first through the family of its founder, Dr S. Ramadoss, and then through “Vanniya Nadu”. For this, Ramadoss has been doing a Bal Thackeray in Tamil Nadu by appropriating what he fantasises as Tamil culture and Tamil nationalism, crying foul that “Tamil culture is in danger” without understanding the heterogeneous and palimpsest nature of culture, which is of multiplex complexity in a caste-ridden society.

The upshot of the power play and factional politics in the State is the conflict between the Scheduled Castes and the intermediate castes. The non-Brahmin movement was successful in highlighting Brahmin domination in every sphere of public life. The Brahmins retreated tactfully. It was a slow process. In the face of the social mobility movements of Dalits and their legitimate aspirations for a higher and better place in what is increasingly seen as a secular and not a caste society, that too after centuries of subjugation, sections of the so-called “intermediate castes” such as Vanniyar, Mukkulathore (Thevar, Maravar, Agamudayar) and Goundar, who once tried to move up the caste hierarchy by claiming Kshatriya status through Sanskritisation (briefly, imitation of Brahmin behaviour), are unwilling to yield social and political space to Dalits as the Brahmins did from the 1940s to the 1970s. (These castes were not really intermediate in the traditional fourfold Varna system but at the bottom of the hierarchy of the Sudra castes and are “intermediate castes” only now in relation to Dalits; Dalits were outside the Sudras and hence were characterised as Avarnas or Panchamas.)

HP31022C.N.AnnaduraiVCK_Protest

Death and All His Friends

Just finished watching Season 6 of Grey’s Anatomy. I somehow love Grey’s Anatomy because of the medical profession (always had the small desire to be a Dr – imagine saving a life!), close life and death experiences and perspectives, relationships, drama & gossip!

My parents had recorded the finales thankfully as I was travelling around a lot in Jan and Feb. Star World is very late in showing the seasons in India, Google says season 9 is out! :-) Just listing some of the awesome quotes from the episode titled “Death and all his friends” which I totally related to.

The human life is made up of choices. Yes or no. In or out. Up or down. And then there are the choices that matter. Love or hate. To be a hero or to be a coward. To fight or to give in. To live. Or die. Live or die. That’s the important choice. And it’s not always in our hands.

I’ve lived. I’ve really really lived. I’ve failed. I’ve been devastated. I’ve been broken. I’ve gone to hell and back. And I’ve also known joy. And passion. And I’ve had a great love. See death for me is not justice. It’s a … end of a beautiful journey. And I’m not afraid to die. The question is, are you?

I don’t hurt anymore. The pain’s gone. That’s a bad sign isn’t it?

Some other quotes from previous episodes of Season 6

Ask most people what they want out of life and the answer is simple – to be happy. Maybe it’s this expectation though of wanting to be happy that just keeps us from ever getting there. Maybe the more we try to will ourselves to state’s of bliss, the more confused we get – to the point where we don’t recognize ourselves. Instead we just keep smiling – trying to be the happy people we wish we were. Until it eventually hits us, it’s been there all along. Not in our dreams or our hopes but in the known, the comfortable, the familiar.

It’s a common belief that positive thinking leads to a happier healthier life. As children we are told to smile, be cheerful, and put on a happy face. As adults we are told to look on the bright side, to make lemonade, and see glasses as half full. Sometimes reality can get in the way of our ability to act the happy part though. Youre hope can fail, boyfriends can cheat, friends can disappoint. It’s in these moments, when you just want to get real, drop the act, and be your true scared unhappy self.

No matter how thick skinned we try to be, there’s millions of electrifying nerve endings in there. Open and exposed and feeling way too much. Try as we might to keep from feeling pain, sometimes it’s just unavoidable. Sometimes that’s the only thing left – just feeling.

The skin is the largest organ in the body – it protects us. Holds us together. Literally lets us know what we are feeling. The skin can be soft and vulnerable. Highly sensitive, easy to break.

We have to constantly come up with new ways to fix ourselves. So we change, we adapt. We create new versions of ourselves. We just need to be sure that this one is an improvement over the last.

He took something from me. He took little pieces of me, little pieces over time, so small I didn’t even notice, you know? He wanted me to be something I wasn’t, and I made myself into what he wanted. One day I was me Cristina Yang, and then suddenly I was lying for him, and jeopardizing my career, and agreeing to be married and wearing a ring, and being a bride. Until I was standing there in a wedding dress with no eyebrows, and I wasn’t Cristina Yang anymore. And even then, I would’ve married him. I would have. I lost myself for a long time. And now that I’m finally me again, I can’t. I love you. I love you more than I loved Burke. I love you. And that scares the crap out of me because when you asked me to ignore Teddy’s page, you took a piece of me, and I let you. And that will never happen again

Number one rule of surgery is limit exposure. Keep your hands clean, your incisions small, and your wounds covered. Number two rule of surgery is when rule number one stops working, try something else. Because sometimes you can’t limit exposure, sometimes the injury is so bad you have to cut, and cut big.

Doctors live in a world of constant progress and forward motion. Stand still for a second, and you’ll be left behind. But as hard as we try to move forward, as tempting as it is to never look back, the past always comes back to bite us in the ass. And as history shows us again and again, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

When we’re headed toward an outcome that’s too horrible to face, that’s when we go looking for a second opinion. And sometimes, the answer we get just confirms our worst fears. But sometimes, it can shed new light on the problem, make you see it in a whole new way. After all the opinions have been heard and every point of view has been considered, you finally find what you’re after - the truth. But the truth isn’t where it ends, that’s just where you begin again with a whole new set of questions.

What do you do when the infection hits you, when it takes over? Do you do what you’re supposed to and take your medicine? Or do you learn to live with the thing and hope someday it goes away? Or do you just give up entirely and let it kill you?

We begin life with few obligations. We pledge allegiance to the flag. We swear to return our library books. But as we get older we take vows, make promises, get burden by commitments, to do no harm, to tell the truth and nothing but, to love, to cherish till death do us part. So we just keep running up the tap ’til we owe everything to everybody and suddenly … what the.

We’re all susceptible to it, the dread and anxiety of not knowing what’s coming. It’s pointless in the end, because all the worrying and the making of plans for things that could or could not happen, it only makes things worse. So walk your dog or take a nap. Just whatever you do, stop worrying. Because the only cure for paranoia is to be here, just as you are. (Paranoia gives you an edge in the OR. Surgeons play out worst-case scenarios in their heads. You’re ready to close, you got the bleeder. You know it but there’s that voice in your head asking. What if you didn’t? What if the patient dies and you could have prevented it? So you check your work one more time before you close. Paranoia is a surgeon’s best friend.)

According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, when we’re dying or have suffered a catastrophic loss, we all move through five distinct stages of grief. We go into denial because the loss is so unthinkable we can’t imagine it’s true. We become angry with everyone, angry with survivors, angry with ourselves. Then we bargain. We beg. We plead. We offer everything we have, we offer our souls in exchange for just one more day. When the bargaining has failed and the anger is too hard to maintain, we fall into depression, despair, until finally we have to accept that we’ve done everything we can. We let go. We let go and move into acceptance.

Madras Music Season

Finally 45 days of awesomeness in Chennai. The real beauty of living in Madras ( Chennai ) is here to be enjoyed! Its winter (albeit some small rain hung over) and its time to listen to great carnatic music, great food, party over New Years and top it with some sports action of the Chennai Tennis Open.

A quick short guide on the MMS i.e. Margazhi Music Season

Locations of sabhas (halls) http://goo.gl/maps/GIOdh

Schedules
http://kutcheris.com/schedule.php
http://www.kutcheribuzz.com/december-season-home
http://www.indian-heritage.org/musicseason/sch.html
http://www.sabhash.com/home
http://www.chennaidecemberseason.com/

Schedule for Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan – best according to me :-) { AC and food just across the road}
http://www.chennaidecemberseason.com/2012/11/bharatiya-vidya-bhavan-music-festival.html

Best part is till Dec 14th all the Halls have free music. All you have to do is show up!

Zahir – Freedom, Happiness and Letting go

Some great quotes from The Zahir (by Paulo Coelho) { From Wikipedia : In a recurring theme in the book, Coelho[3] compares marriage with a set of railway tracks which stay together forever but fail to come any closer. The novel is a journey from a stagnant marriage and love to the realization of unseen but ever increasing attraction between two souls.}

I loved reading the book around 4 years back. Recommended it to a friend recently, wanted to blog these quotes that I got some online sites from the book some 3 months back. Here are those quotes that appealed to me as absolute truths.

We don’t always choose the best solution but we carry on regardless, trying to remain upright and decent in order to do honor not to the walls or the doors or the windows but to the empty space inside, the space where we worship and venerate what is dearest and most important to us.

I was not I, I was nothing – and that seemed to me quite marvelous.

In the world of my imagination, Esther was still my companion, and her love gave me the strength to go forward and explore all my frontiers. In the real world, she was pure obsession, sapping my energy, taking up all the available space, and obliging me to make an enormous effort just to continue with my life. How was it possible that, even after two years, I had still not managed to forget her? I could not bear having to think about it anymore, analyzing all the possibilities, and trying various ways out: deciding simply to accept the situation, writing a book, practicing yoga, doing some charity work, seeing friends, seducing women, going out to supper, to the cinema (always avoiding adaptations of books, of course, and seeking out films that had been specially written for the screen), to the theater, the ballet, to soccer games. The Zahir always won, though; it was always there, making me think, “I wish she was here with me.”

Free again, but it’s just a feeling; freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose – and commit yourself to what is best for you.

Some people appear to be happy, but they simply don’t give the matter much thought. Others make plans: I’m going to have a husband, a home, two children, a house in the country. As long as they’re busy doing that, they’re like bulls looking for the bullfighter: they react instinctively, they blunder on, with no idea where the target is. They get their car, sometimes they even get a Ferrari, and they think that’s the meaning of life, and they never question it. Yet their eyes betray the sadness that even they don’t know they carry in their soul. Are you happy?

That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose. People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.

This is from the movie Remember Me (not sure though)

Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it, because nobody else will. Like when someone comes into your Iife, and haIf of you says, “You’re nowhere near ready,” but the other haIf says, “Make her yours forever.”

Environmental Flashpoints in India

The article in Tehelka titled Flashpoints by Jay Mazoomdaar had a very interesting graphic. Captured the one shot perspective on whats really wrong environmentally in India due to different factors. Do read the article.

Flashpoint India from Tehelka

I am passionate about sustainable living and design. I hope to sometime visit these places and try to understand their ground level reasons. Meanwhile just some notes from the article for myself

The article and issue per se was not deep enough. Didn’t merit the journalistic quality of Telhelka for a Environmental Day Special. But I guess that is what happens when you try to pick a theme that is not your forte while you want to cover all area of India. I hope they will sometime in future do a follow up drill down issue during the year. I like the way the magazine gives1-2 pages for environment every week.

Most of the issues in various states is a direct reflection for India’s need to grow i.e. power, industry, tourism and infrastructure

Andhra Pradesh | Uranium Mining > Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam
Chhattisgarh | Coal Mining
Goa | Iron Ore Mining > Sanguem
Arunachal Pradesh | Hydroelectricity > Siang Dam
Karnataka | River Linking
Manipur | Tipaimukh Dam
Bihar | Arsenic Contamination > Bhojpur
Assam | Encroachment > Sonitpur
Uttarakhand | Real Estate
Jharkhand | Anti-Insurgency Ops
Mizoram | Lawngtlai Highway
Gujarat | Industry
Himachal Pradesh | Power Tunnels > Sutlej
Haryana | Groundwater > Rice Belt
Kerala | Tourism Mess > Munnar
Jammu & Kashmir | Road Construction > Ladakh
Madhya Pradesh | Diamond Mining
Punjab | Pesticide > Bhatinda
Odisha | Mining > Khandadhar Hills
Meghalaya | Rat-Hole Mining
Nagaland | Wildlife Trade
Maharashtra | Coal Mining > Chandrapur
West Bengal | Population > Sunderbans
Sikkim | Hydropower
Delhi | Lost Rivers
Tripura | Rubber Plantation
Lakshadweep | Overfishing
Uttar Pradesh | Pollution > Kanpur
Rajasthan | Weeds > Aravali Hills
Tamil Nadu | Industrial Mess > Gulf Of Mannar

The wall and the egg

Just read an amazing article about a speech by HARUKI MURAKAMI {About him from Wikipedia: His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and the Jerusalem Prize, among others. Murakami’s fiction, often criticized by Japan’s literary establishment, is humorous and surreal, focusing on themes of alienation and loneliness.[2] He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature. The Guardian praised Murakami as “among the world’s greatest living novelists” for his works and achievement}

The article The novelist in wartime at Salon talks about the individual (egg) and the System (wall). Some nice excerpts (for my reference mostly) – applies a lot to India!

“Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.”

Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be?

What is the meaning of this metaphor?

It carries a deeper meaning. Think of it this way. Each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a high, solid wall. The wall has a name: it is “the System.” The System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own, and then it begins to kill us and cause us to kill others — coldly, efficiently, systematically.

Take a moment to think about this. Each of us possesses a tangible, living soul. The System has no such thing. We must not allow the System to exploit us. We must not allow the System to take on a life of its own. The System did not make us: We made the System. That is all I have to say to you.