Archive for the ‘Free Writing’ Category
There is anime, and then there is anime. Some of them are just so good that you actually go back and read the manga – and claymore is one of them. If beautiful women kicking ass isn’t enough, it also has a riveting story line and great character development. Its one of those that starts out slow and eventually grows on you.
The story is set in a medieval fantasy world which is inhabited by humans and sentient demonic begins called yoma which feed on human entrails. Normal humans who stand no chance against these demonic beings depend on half-human half-yoma hybrids created by a mysterious and creepy organization, referred to within the series as ‘The Organization’ who send out female warriors wielding large swords (thus the name Claymore). The story starts out with showing these female warriors , the claymores, as beautiful and deadly but rather pale and without any humanity to them. They are feared and ostracized by the people who depend on the claymores to protect themselves from the demonic beings.
As the story progresses, we see another more human side to the claymores and learn that the organizations intentions aren’t so noble after all. The storyline mainly revolves around a single low ranked claymore – Claire, her journey and her growth – both emotionally and as a stronger warrior as she picks up friends, comrades and battles a few powerful adversaries all on the way to finding out much more sinister secrets.
Even though the series focuses on Claire, the protagonist, Other characters are well thought out and are fully developed as the series progresses; they end up playing crucial roles alongside Claire and are important facets of the storyline. A complete and an entertaining anime overall that is completely worth the read!
If this girl could say “Athu!!!” with the passion those three exclaimation marks imply, she is undeniabily thamizh!
East or West, home is the best, goes an old saying. Many a time, one would silently smile at such witticisms, but only rarely does one realise the truth behind such sayings. Leaving home, a place which has been so good to me, is more than simply getting on a flight and saying goodbye. Its a weird emotional experience, that brings forth bountiful emotions you never knew you had.
India – Its the land of my fathers and forefathers, an eternal connection that I could never sever, it’s a part of me which would never depart from me, and to which I hope I never depart from. Its too complicated to put it in words, for some emotions are necessarily beyond words.
So, India, my love, my mother, my motherland, I bid you adieu, but donot forget me as I won’t ever forget you. Remember well, for this parting is only that of time and space and not that of heart or mind.
If you have been following my blog, which hasn’t been updated in quite a while you would have been surprised at the childish outburst of mine involving homer’s characters. But I might as well break the surprise and go and announce what I’ve been holding for weeks. I will officially be a graduate student of computer science from January onwards at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Yes, no more anonymous doormat in a public sector organisation, no more ‘IT professional’ badge and primarily no more living in a third world country with first world comforts. My world has been turned upside down. Henceforth, I will be living in a first world country with a third world lifestyle. But this post is not about me, but about what I have come to call the Desi Support System (DSS for short). What prompted me to write this post was when I was browsing casually through a book on algorithms and to my surprise found these lines.
Suppose, for example, that your friend Raj has just accepted a summer job at a large telecommunications company CluNet. A few days later, the small start-up company WebExodus, which has been dragging its feet on making a few final decisions, calls up Raj and offers him a summer job as well.
Now what was that about these lines that prompted me? It was in a book written by two authors who work in Cornell, their main demonstrating example seems to be Raj, most definitely an Indian. I’m sure that they didn’t decide to name him after shooting darts at a world map. I guess its the ubiquitousness and the success of Indians everywhere, especially in the US, in fields of computer science and mathematics.
Many say its in our genes to be smart, but thats bullshit. Its probably because of the intense competition, the pressure to succeed, an almost ruthless determination that puts most of us where we are, but I’m sure thats not all. There is more at play here. A strange, subtle, almost intangible sense of common identity, a feeling of fraternity (or sorority) that we seem to share. A weird commitment to certain core values and all this is expressed in what I would call the Desi Support System.
From a friend in Belgium who assures me that she can make sambhar and fish fry, desi style all sourced from local stores to the heartland of Hollywood there is an invisible network of desis, of all colors and creeds and with a unifying love of cricket and a sense of common identity. Its amazing how helpful they are. Whats more, its amazing how ubiquitous we are. From helping me circumnavigate the Bradley terminal to making abysmally silly movies like Signs, we seem to be every where, Computers, Engineering, Mathematics. Its amazing that how we somehow, are able to find rare bonds in an alien land, which we wouldn’t realize in our home lands. Its mind blowing that you mention IT or Computer Science and you probably would find an Indian silently lurking behind, with a benign smile, and probably helping out others. It is these intangibles that make us succeed almost everywhere. The invisible threads of friendship, or rather kinship that gives us a head start. A support system that we can fall back on and that almost always and universally available.
Science works by standing on the shoulders of giants. Indians work by standing on the shoulders of others, all part of a giant pyramid.
With Scott Adams chiming in about atheism and people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris taking up the pedestal as the public faces of atheism, which have long been empty, atheism seems to be the new ‘in-thing’ as it was during the times of Nitzsche and Russell. I’ve been speculating about what motivates the religious to be religious in the first place. And I’m taking Hinduism for analysis. Primarily for three main reasons. One, I’m more familiar with the Hindu scriptures and mythology than with that of other faiths. And secondly all my blood relatives are self-professed Hindus. So, I have had more real experience quizzing them about their faith.
Thirdly, and most importantly Hinduism is what one would compare to ‘Theological Anarchy’. Having no core dogma (or having multiple dogmas), no organised system of faith, no requirements or for that matter anything else. Many Hindus across the world and even across India get flared up with the same issues that are considered ‘sensitive’ – things like conversion, defiling Hinduism, Ayodhya etc.. . On a more practical note, I’ve seen people both in a remote corner of Tamil Nadu and somewhere in the heartland of Gujarat feeling the same thing about those sensitive issues and identifying with one other, even though if they were ever to meet face to face, chances are that it would be highly unlikely that they would even like each other.
Why is it that Hindutva politicians like Modi and friends are able to whip up similar emotions in such a diverse cornucopia of people within India? These are what I will be trying to answer, to the best of my ability here. But, at the end, they are nothing more than wild speculations and I wouldn’t want to treat them as a final thesis on the question of religion and faith.
The most ironic thing about Hinduism, is that most Hindu’s apart from being some vague form of theists aren’t really concerned about scriptures or Hindu philosophy. Many are even ignorant of the wonderful stories, which certainly counts as great literature that abound in Hindu mythology. Further more, many are even unaware of the Hindu pantheon and the relationships among each other. Most have their favourite deities and a bunch of festivals which are universally celebrated, without any thought to the motivations or even the reasons of why the festivals exist. So, that throws strict theology out of the window. The second thing is that its not about God or Gods. Most often, the issues are not against atheists, (which is there, but never comes to the forefront) but against other fellow theists. Because, if it was just about gods, why would anyone object to accepting god, but in a different way? It isn’t about ethnicity either. Then why?
My conclusion would be that it appeals to a sense of identity. Humans, being intrinsically social animals, need identities. A group to identify with, a sense of real comfort. A sense of belonging. All you need is to give a name, and you automatically give it a form, for that is the nature of identity. A group as amorphous and ideologically disparate as the Hindus can subscribe to a common identity, only because there is one – of being a Hindu – which in essence is no more than a name. If this thesis is in essence correct and being given thus, then is there any solution to the problems of conflict that are prevalent in our times? What identities should one appeal to, for the sake of promoting the greatest good for all? Questions I desperately wish I had the answers…
From the moment I got hands on my new digital camera, a Canon Powershot A530, I’ve always wanted to take it out into the wilderness to give it a try. So far all my experiments have been in well controlled or at the least, a partially controlled environment, that was till today.
Today I had the unique experience of doing some trekking on the outskirts of the city and managed to give my camera a test drive. And to say the least, I am happy to report that it came out with flying colors and some cool shots without any problems at all. But this post is not about the photos. Its about the experience of taking photos in the wilderness, or at least the semi-wilderness that I ventured into today.
The day started fine, a lazy Saturday with great weather and no clouds. When I came to my senses after waking up and seeing the bright sky, I was cursing myself for missing the golden hour in the morning. The golden hour in the morning is sometime after dawn (around 6 or 7’o clock here) where the sun isn’t too bright, the air isn’t do dusty and the weather is just right for clicking all the great shots you ever wanted.
Without loosing hope, I dressed up, strapped on my camera and headed out into the wilderness. You can always count on public transportation to get you there and that’s what I did. After landing near the outskirts of the city, I walked for sometime randomly on the highway between Ahmedabad and Gandhi Nagar, until I found what one could call wilderness, or at-least semi-arid shrub land with a smattering of trees on the edges and a nice green ceiling cover further inside. This is kind of rare in the burgeoning urban sprawl that has mostly destroyed such areas. I guess I was just lucky to find it.
One thing that I learned today, and which I should have already thought about is the importance of good shoes. The wilderness is swarming with bugs and many-legged slimy creatures from hell of all sizes, shapes and colors. Many of them are narcissists in their own way that they leave a potentially allergic trail of acids and other odd oozes. You wouldn’t want one to leave its trail on your feet. So I had to not only watch what I step on, as in the undergrowth there is a lot of things that you can step on, but also be cognizant about what is trying to step on me.
The second important thing I learned today is that when you are in insect territory using the flash is not such a great idea. These insects have adapted to the natural lighting around them that a flash always gets them disturbed. Its not good to use the flash indiscriminately with wasps with nasty stings buzzing around. But some times, the flash is good and can create great lighting effects. Since you have no control over the surrounding lighting, some kind of flash is helpful but one has to be pretty careful not to get stung.
Apart from lessons in practical wilderness photography, there were a whole bunch of other things that I got to know. But lets get back, to our semi-arid shrub land. I walked around near the outskirts fearing that I might get lost, but since there wasn’t nothing interesting that really caught my eye, I started to aimlessly wander around there and sometime later, I found an amazingly beautiful yet thickly forested area. With lots of tall trees, odd flowers and some nice surroundings overall. This was literally a godsend.
The first thing that caught my eye was this bright riot of yellow and orange. A marigold bush out in the wilderness. It seemed out of place that I concluded that it was a feral. It was in full bloom, spreading its brightness all over the place. Something that you couldn’t stop clicking at. So how could I? After a few shots, I managed to wean myself of the addictive beauty of the marigold bush and started ambling around. Then I found a bunch of trees, all tall strong, with flat and bright green leaves, laden with fruits. The green top of the lone piece of vegetation in midst of the urban sprawl. I found a red flower which I couldn’t identify then, but my guess for it is a hibiscus. The backdrop against the setting sun made it just beautiful.
Only after I took the shot I realized something, the setting sun! I had ambled around this place for so much time that I had spent almost four hours clicking!. And evening was fast approaching. With my feeble knowledge of Hindi and an even dimmer knowledge of Gujarati I knew there was no way I could get home after dark. So I had to reluctantly leave this wonderful wilderness to the monotony of urban life in Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad, for all its monotony is still a unique place which is not without its opportunities for some one with a keen eye and a willingness to click. But that’s another saga for another day!
You can also check out some other great photos of mine here.