This is going to get a bit philosophical, so those of you who can’t exercise their grey matter can gladly avoid it and may be look at some lolcats to pass time. Something great happened today,  something that made made me think for a while. Earlier tonight, I had just finished reading some existential literature when I immediately had to goto the loo to answer a very important call. Just when I opened the door, I saw a cockroach looking for whatever it could find for its dinner there. My fear and disgust of them had long been gone, not sure when, but I can say with pride that I am no more afraid of those creatures. Some say the cockroaches can outlive us in case of a nuclear holocaust. Some even say that even when you cutoff a cockroach’s head, it can live for a week or so and dies only of hunger and thirst. This I believe has earned them my respect because they are nature’s great survival machines. Anyway, coming back, I knew I had to drive it out if I wanted to piss peacefully because I still dont like the idea of a cockroach crawling over my foot, that just gives me the creeps. I’m fine when its at a distance. Killing it was out of the question, I cannot in any sense do any harm to the harmless cockroach just minding its way, looking for a meal, surviving, one day at a time. So I had to scare it away to its dungeon. This is when the broomstick usually comes in handy, I just took just one small twig out of it and tried drive it away, you know just give ’em the scare so they wont be bothering you for the next 15 or so minutes. While I did scare the little fella (i’m just guessing its a guy), it accidentally fell into the water closet. It was a dreadful site to see the roach almost submerged, with just its two whiskers and one foot hanging out, holding on to the closet with a firm grip supporting its whole body. I wasn’t alarmed at the sight but I dint know what to do. I just dint have the heart to flush down one of nature’s successful “design”. So I took the same little twig and put it inside the water closet and like that dramatic scene in cliffhanger, I lent my hand, though not directly, to the struggling roach. That was all it needed, the zeal and excitement with which it climbed up the twig really amazed me and I could only imagine the how the roach must’ve felt being brought back to life from the brink of death. After that, he quickly ran off to his secret dungeon feeling pumped up with adrenaline or whatever roaches run on. After that I sat in peace and began to wonder about the cockroach’s struggle for life.  As you all should know by now, the loo is just one of the two places where all my thinking is done, the other being on my bike, when I ride it. But actually most of the thinking happens in the loo, I dont know if its the stink that drives to me think about something else, or the closed space, or you know the leaky tap that goes like a metronome counting away the time, thereby setting you in motion or something else. So I began to ponder as to why the roach in the first place held on with just one of its limbs, supporting its full weight, and NOT letting go. What prevented the roach from killing itself? Does it find any meaning in life like some humans do? I came up with possible 3 answers

a. The whole episode of drowning is itself such a pain, and since every organism is programmed to combat pain it just held on to it as long as it could. But how did the roach know drowning was pain? I guessed it could’ve been from a previous experience or just plain instinct. b. Survival could’ve played an important factor. Animals (which includes us) are not programmed to just let go or kill ourselves everytime we are faced a difficulty, we are programed to fight it, struggle with it, find out all the possible ways to deal with a life and death situation. If this were not the case, people would just end up killing themselves without struggling, whenever they were hanging off a cliff, or when by accident, they fell into a pool and hence they would not survive and produce off-springs.

c. On a more philosophical note, could the roach be possibly attribute a meaning to its life like humans do? Survival of human beings and his subsequent rise to the top of the pyramid can be attributed to man’s thinking that life is meaningful and has a purpose. Could it have possibly thought, “is this going to be the end of me? Was I born for this? Shouldn’t I hold on till some door opens?”. Though not so vividly as humans, but you know like how roaches might “think”. At this point I am obligated to ridicule myself for the common notion (not fact) that ROACHES DO NOT THINK, but how are we sure that they cannot?

 Here, in the case of an insect, I’m always inclined towards choice (b), though (a) is also a possible solution (but ‘a’ is just an offshoot of ‘b’). But nonetheless the last option (c) is what is keeping me awake so late tonight. Let us delve little deeper inside the roaches mind and in the process dig a little of ours too. But first, lets get the basics right. What is thinking? Is it just the firing up of neurons in the brain that happens in most of the species or is it more than that? What exactly forms a thought and is it confined only to humans? Questions google could answer, very subjective though, but I want to think it out on my own. Could the roach possibly “think” there’s a meaning to life? Not like us humans do but more like associating a happy state (such as eating, mating etc) with purpose in life . With such a little brain, I dont think the roach would be upto the mammoth task of giving a deep meaning to life like we humans do. Only humans can attribute so much meaning into life and define a purpose for it when in reality they are fooling themselves because the hard fact is that life in reality is utterly meaningless. Let us suppose that roaches could “think”, even though not vividly as humans. The roach could very well find meaning in life by associating life with happy states of being with its mate, reproducing, eating and wandering around, that sure is reason to live. But come to think of it, nothing comes easy for the roach, lets take mating, its not like the roach meets Mrs.Roach in the bar and they both hit it off from there. In the insect world, there’s competition for everything, from a mate to your dinner, everything should be fought for. And we all know fighting is a struggle, so why go through the whole routine of fighting for your mate, your food, taking care of your off-springs? (though not like humans, they atleast have to provide some form assistance for their offsprings to survive initially) Why not just let go off the hold and it’ll all be over quickly? Could it possible realise the freedom of dying? . The freedom from constant everday fight. Or is the roach so narrow-minded (or programmed that way) to see only the events that could follow immediately. Like, if it lets go, it dies a miserable death and it doesnt know what happens if it dies, whether its going to be happy or not (happy is defined by the roach as a state of NO struggle) after it dies. To the roach the next event of drowning, which is far more painful than the everyday struggle, is good enough to hold on and wait for something to happen.
  In conclusion I think that, though most likely the whole episode is answered by option (b) and to an extent (a), option (c) which is an answer that could never be proven false could also hold true (because we really cant’ say that ROACHES DONT THINK, We wont know unless we become one) . This just leaves me with one big question, “WHY do we (or the roach, though not known for sure) attribute a meaning to life?”, has it been born out of choice (b), that we are programmed to think life is worth fighting so that our species survives better? Or do you really think there’s an inherent meaning and purpose to life? Like service to god or to lead a prosperous and purposeful life and leave a rich legacy behind. If you ask me, I have to say there’s no purpose, and we’re all commanded by our “Selfish” genes to make the most out of our lives so that they (the genes) could live on forever in your children, your children’s children and so on.

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Nope, it hasn’t rained yet, still 15 mins left to midnight, but the chances of this blog becoming #1 is far greater than the chances for a shower before midnight. It has been a day of personal triumph. Let me explain to you whats happening here. Come August and you just cant bear the festive spirit of chennai, its just too much to handle. There are loud speakers tied to every lamp post that keep playing really really awful devotional songs. Yes i’m talking about the mariamman (said to be a form a goddess Durga) festival that is usually held in the first sunday of August. The speciality is that unlike other festivities like ganesh chaturthi or diwali, people celebrate this festival by walking on fire. Like this guy right here

fire walking idiot

Whats funny is that anyone can do it. You, me or even jimmy there (i’m talking abt christians etc). Even more funnier is the fact that they dont walk, they run, run like wildboars. Its a scary site to see, and some get pushed down. There have quite a few accidents here, but nothing too serious. The interesting part is that, for the last 5 or 6 years, everytime this arcane ritual happens here, it always rains that night. My mom always attributes it to the divine power of god. I have tried to explain to her that it could for any number of reasons

1.It could be that the smoke from the burning wood, causes a micro-climatic change, and since this ritual actually takes place at many parts of chennai during the same day, it might cause rain throughout the city. (Vague i know, but it could happen)

2. A conspiracy theory,  I sometimes suspect that they fire some kind of rockets (the firecracker ones), that bring in artificial rain. (Yeah, i’ll come up with anything to prove them wrong).

3. More widely accepted is that it rains beacause its monsoon season.

Inspite of the above arguements, I’ve somehow felt like I’ve been losing the argument everytime it rains. But today,  it dint and I feel like the losing battle has been won in one swift blow.

Update: Midnight has passed, yippie!

Scared? who me?

July 12, 2007

Today will go down in history as the day swamy ever tasted fear, was for ever afraid of nature’s fury. Yes, this evening had been some sort of life changing phase for me. Ok i’ll cut the bullshit, but to tell you the truth I was oozing adrenaline out of my nose today. So what trigerred this abnormal reaction to this otherwise strong superhuman?
 Well today was one of those most vicious, scary, bone chilling display of natures fury that I’ve ever witnessed. It exactly isnt a big tornado (I aint exactly dorothy), nor a flash flood, it was the one hour of awe inspiring lightning and thunder that pounded chennai for atleast couple of hours. The story goes like this. The evening was really pleasant,  I was returning home from spencers and I could sense that it was going to rain. I was carrying my laptop and so had to rush home before the shower started, but that bitch nature beat me to that. So I was stranded on the side of the road for a good 15 mins. After that the intensity of the rain had come down and so I resumed my journey home. When I got home,  I plugged in the laptop and was surfing as usual when all of a sudden the first scenes of a thirller movie were begining to be played. There was nothing unusual about it at first, windows banging, occasional lightning that you always wanted to look straight into, but were very afraid to, because you’ve seen in so many bad indian movies how a lighting could render you blind forever. Temperature dropped drastically, the room had a pleasant feel to it, and for once I dint feel the heat from my laptop. Thats when it happened, the brightest streak until now ripped the sky open and making it scream as if the sky had been stabbed. I remebered the old chinese proverb just then “whenever there’s any thunderstorm, the first thing to do is to turn off your laptop, TV and other electrical items”. I haven’t stuck to this rule before because I’ve personally never seen any TVs being blown out or etc. To me it was some urban legend that usually happened to your friends friend or some house the street next. I wanted was to get a first hand glimpse of what was actually happening out there, so I stepped out and looked up. Just then, without any warning i saw the badest, meanest streak of light in my life, it was powerful, roaring and unmerciful. I guess ‘raw’ would be another good way to describe it. Imagine you are Paris Hilton who’s just been released from jail facing a swarm of papparazzis with the brightest, most poweful flashes, now multiply that flash by atleast a 20 (yeah I dont want to exaggerate), that’s how bright it was. For the next minute or two I could see the typical lightning rod image wherever i looked. After that I got into the house and cursed myself for being such a careless asshole. Thats when I got a call from my sister. You see she just given birth to my beautiful niece three days ago. She wanted me to get her something to eat since the canteen food in the hospital sucked ass. I told her how the condition was outside but i could sense that she wasnt excatly in the mood to listen to all that. She was in a closed air conditioned room, sealed completely from the outside world, so she had no idea what was going on. I told her it would take atleast an hour before I even think of venturing out. She obvisouly was pissed off with my attitude, all she could see was that she was one poor hungry young mother and I was the lazy bum with no good work. But had she witnessed that grand spectalcle, would she be expecting the same? I thougt for a second. Right then, right there, BAM! I just could not write how I felt at that time, the most bad ass of them all struck directly inclose proximity to my house. I say that with so much conviction because the thunder that followed it had the clear tell tale sings of Apocalypse. Yup, for a second there, I did fear for my life, why lie? not for a second, the fear lasted for some minutes. I gathered myself after that, tried to maintain calm and my sanity. But what I had seen was only the first of the two part installement from hell. Within just five minutes, it struck again, with the same vigor, power and might. Since we only die once,  I did not feel the same way I felt for the prequel but nonetheless I could not just take another. I wanted to call my sister, I reached for the landline, but it was dead, indicating the magnitude of the situation. I decided it would be a good reason to shut the windows and remain calm inside. This is exactly where your belief system will help you out, but to some helpless atheist like me, who had no prayers to offer, it was proving to be too much of an ordeal. Also I could not console myself that it was all the part of god’s short temper . To me, there was no heaven in waiting if i were to die in a million volt shock. I had to somehow collect myself and get ready for the mean task of getting food to my sis.
 I waitied for half an hour for it all to settle down and for peace to reign in again. It was still drizzling outside, but half an hour after that incident I was much more mature and devoid of fear. So I kicked my bike to start it. I was suprised to find that it started with just 3 kicks than the usual 5, even on the hottest days this was not possbile. Was this a clear sign from ‘Him’ that my odyssey to the hotel to get dinner for my sis would be devoid of any danger? Yeah right, enough of my sarcasm. I glided through the wet roads, high on the chilly breeze and balls stiff due to the temperature. I rode extra slow to the hotel. I’m an exceptionally slow driver, since most of my thinking is done on the bike or when i’m in loo, but at that time I was driving very well below the daily normal. I guess the main attraction of driving on a wet road is the mind blowing lights show. The wet road reflects the brake lights, the neon billboards, the the street lamp and oh! what a great sight it was. I’ve not seen the northern lights but I could say it was as close to that. That wet road was as enthralling as the light show in pink floyd’s “echoes”(the concert, not song). Soon i forgot all about the fury and the drama and was one with the lights, lost in strech of a continous rainbow.
 Could i say this was a life changing incident? not at all, but it was a good experience that I would not forget until say tomorrow. But come to think of it all now after a long 3 hours, was i really scared back then? hmmm may be.