Monday, 29 March 2010

To pee or not to pee... That is the question

Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"To pee or not to pee... That is the question"

Two fantastic urinals in restaurant Krishi

Urinal 1 - The guy who is peeing here will be on display to the guy who opens the door, who had gone in to take a dump... So, that guy should either wait till this guy is done peeing, or stand and watch this guy... Talk about planning!

Urinal 2 - The guy who is peeing here will be on display to the guy who is washing his hands - Who the hell uses a glass partition?

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Profiling using twitter

Swami Nikhilaananda thought:
"People say so much on social networking sites, that if we design a system to collect and analyse that data, we can build a model of that person and be able to judge how that person works"

This is just a random thought of mine, that is not complete. More will follow as I get a little clearer on this. Do post some ideas of yours... Oh, and let me know if any you guys are interested in pursuing this :P

Social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook and micro blogging site Twitter have taken the world by storm. They are immensely popular, with several thousands of people being members of these sites and growing networks.

Just imagine if we can collect information systematically and analyse them, process them and design a model of them. You don't need to do this manually. It is fairly simple to write programs to do data mining for you, and you can write programs that use machine learning to do the processing and analysis once you design it perfectly. This is what a lot of people fear about companies such as Google who have vast amounts of information about people. I found this as an exciting project. Of course, companies such as Google have huge amounts of information using which an even more comprehensive result can be achieved. We shall see them at the end.

First of all, what are the various things that we can derive from... say take tweets from twitter. It should be relatively easy to fetch tweets of any one person or groups, depending on search arguments.

People generally write tweets about what they are doing at the moment. They also write tweets about where they are, or where they went. They write their opinions, and they write several other bits and pieces of information.

Now, what are the things that we can see? We can observe the time at which the tweets are getting posted. If the tweets are posted uniformly throughout the day, we can assume that the person has a job working on a computer which has internet access throughout, and social networking sites are not blocked. If social networking sites are blocked, then the tweets would probably come via mobile, or would be clumped at time frames between end of day and before sleeping... You can make intelligent guesses about types of jobs based on more information.

If the person is tweeting about current affairs, then we can take key-words out of it, and run searches over the internet using search engines such as Google and Bing and check their first ten results which will include highly relevant results, and also other bits of information such as news, images, videos, etc. integrated with them. We can analyse these results, and understand how this person reacts to actual situations... For example, when reservation bills are passed in India, there will be a rise in Anti-Reservation tweets or pro, depending on the person's inclination. Or you will see a phenomenal increase in tweets about cricketers and teams during IPL seasons (but no so many when there is no IPL). Similarly for sports, games, political situations... anything that is in current affairs.

The person's tweets about current location or locations visited will give information to reasonably understand about types of places visited, and places visited. You can map this against holidays, weekends, etc. to see if leaves were taken or perform other analysis. What I am trying to say is the myriad things that can be done with sentences.

There are some people who tweet in proper English, following grammatical rules. And den der r sum who r uncnvntional... Some use the ellipses (...) a lot, while some use hyphens, commas, etc. The choice of words, their language, punctuations, etc. tells a lot about people. Lengths of tweets are also interesting to observe.

Tweets could also be totally random.

The people that you follow also tells a bit about you, your friends, your circle... Probably if this is integrated with other sites, it can be used to guess where you are from, college etc. For example, you are only on twitter, and a majority of people you follow are your classmates, who in turn are on facebook or orkut and are members of your college community there. It can be a reasonable guess that you belong to the same college. Things like that...

Sites such as Google have the bulk of information that you are feeding it, like your photos, personal information, things that you search for, your geographical location, the institutes that you are members of... Just imagine what they can do :-)

More to follow. This is just an initial thinking... Do post some ideas of yours...

Comments from Facebook:
Hemanth Pai
its already done buddy , how do u think u get those ads on the right of u r screen on FB :P

Nikhil Baliga
No I know :P Google does exactly the same thing for most appropriate ads. I am saying - Just imagine if you extend the same thing to beyond ads to understand how people are...

Ashvin Srinivasan
yeah most of them, but there are some ppl who say only what u choose to hear maga :P

Ashvin Srinivasan oh or rather what u wanna hear :P

Mithun R Shroff
Nice..Even I had thought about this a few months back..:)

Deepti Rao
gud thought!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Skandagiri Trip

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"Bad luck always comes in wholesale, but the sun always rises after the dark night"

We had planned to have a trip somewhere close by. It started off with only a handful of people. But as the planning progressed, we had more and more people joining in. Finally, after some confusion about who was coming and who was not, we had a group of 17 people. We had booked a Swaraj Mazda - a 21 seater mini bus.

We met up at two of our friends' houses, and the vehicle picked us all up, and by around one, we were hurtling towards Skandagiri. The bus journey was a regular one, with friends catching up and frequent jokes being made about one another. We had crossed the airport by then... Some time later, there seemed to be a small commotion, and we found that one of our friends had a severe stomach ache. She started crying and asked for the vehicle to be turned back. If we had done that, then by the time we would reach the hill after returning to the city, it would have been time for the sun to rise. That would defeat the purpose of the trip. But we couldn't have our friend in that state.

Instead, Pavan and I decided to go for an alternate plan. We took the bus back by a small distance, and hired a taxi cab - A Ford Ikon... Soon, four of us were coming back to Bangalore, while the rest of them continued on their way. The plan was to drop them back home, and get the cab to drive us back to the place where we had parted ways. Meanwhile, the rest of them were supposed to go to the hill and start climbing. The mini bus was supposed to drop them off and come back to collect us... This way, worst case, only Pavan and I would miss the sun rise. Moreover, we were pretty confident we wouldn't miss it, considering we could climb pretty fast, and the other group had some girls who could face difficulty climbing the steep hill.

The driver of the taxi cab was a guy who apparently enjoyed driving fast. And I mean really fast... Interestingly he seemed to know how to go to the top gear and not come down, and I am pretty confident he didn't know where the brakes were. He told us that he had reached 150 kmph at one point of time. I asked Pavan who was sitting in the front to put on his seat-belt, and we at the back took out our copies of Bhagawad Gita (*sarcasm alert*) and started reciting verses from it... It was important that we knew that death of body isn't death of soul, and we wanted to go to heaven... We were pretty sure of the "death of body" part, considering the speed with which he was driving. Pavan started talking to the driver to keep him occupied so that he wouldn't drive us off the edge. It was amusing for me to listen to him talking about random topics like sugarcane fields, education system and ministers, profit and labour problems, etc. The driver was being rather philosophic.

After dropping the girls back and waving goodbyes, we started back... This time the driver was happier and spirited. He was still in the spirit of the highway, and forgot that interior roads have humps. He drove over humps at the same speed as a regular road, causing the car to jump off like the ones we see in movies, the car was actually making slight lateral movements, skidding as he braked on reaching the ground, and the driver would say - "sshhiiitt" as we reached the ground - I saw a lump in Pavan's throat as my neck made a snapping sound... This time I took my own advice and put on the seatbelt. After Pavan's repeated requests of driving little slower explaining that it wouldn't matter if we reached fifteen minutes late (than returning *late*) the driver reduced the number of "hump-jump"s... We saw the city seemed to be teeming with policemen - We were happy that our city seemed to be safer than before.

Finally we reached the meeting point, got off, paid the driver and he went on his way after shaking hands with us... We kissed the ground, fortunate to still be in one piece. Pavan tried calling up the mini bus driver who was not answering his call. Subsequently I was able to get through him, and we told him that we were waiting. The road on which we were waiting for a wide one, but strangely lonely. There was not a soul in sight... A bright well-lit throughway with no traffic, not even a vehicle in sight for a long time. We waited for quite some time, with Pavan concluding that this was going to be one of those trips that he wouldn't forget. Finally the mini-bus arrived, and we started off towards the hill... Pavan suggested we sleep for some time, to gather some of our spent energy... The energy that we had spent clutching to the seats of our high-speed taxi. And we soon realised that it was not going to be possible.

The mini bus was rattling away to glory - Apparently the manufacturers decided that springs would be a waste of money to be put in a mini-bus. Or maybe they had fallen off somewhere. We both were very excited. The climb apparently takes one and a half hours... We wanted to rush upwards and catch the rest of our friends on their way up. We were constantly looking at the time. Some time later, the driver told us that it was the first time he was seeing things around him... we were lost! The road was very narrow and we couldn't even turn the vehicle back. I was confident the driver would have known the route as he had dropped off the rest once. We looked around for any person whom we could ask for directions. But nobody was awake at that unearthly hour. Finally after driving some distance, we were able to find enough space to get the bus back. On our way back, we saw a lorry coming towards us. The driver signalled him to stop and asked him if he knew how to go towards Skandagiri.

The lorry driver was one of those who like to spit for no reason... And he had a strange habit of spitting through his teeth. It was annoying to listen to the squeezing sound, once in two minutes as he spat. He said he had no idea which way the hill was because he had not even heard of the hill before. The guy who was sitting next to him was staring at us through the darkness. The driver then proceeded to show us directions. We were sure the directions would be wrong, considering he had never heard of the hill. Then Pavan remembered that he had written a note on which he had some landmarks - things that he had pulled out from Google Maps. We asked him about one of the landmarks - a Vishveshwarayya statue. This he knew, and he directed us towards it.

Shortly we reached the place, after the driver goofing around once again and getting stuck on a large rock which later I had to remove for him to move ahead. We were at the base of the hill. We started running towards the hill. We asked a couple of men for the place from which we could start our climb. We had a lot of energy and zest to reach the top. Pavan suggested that we use only one torch at a time so that we could conserve the power for later. I agreed, and we started walking on the wide muddy path that lay in front of us. Soon, the path started snaking around, and the bushes around us increased. The night was dark, the sky was clear. I looked up to see a cloudless sky, with innumerable stars studded like diamonds. I could see the narrow crescent moon at a distance, that seemed to be partially hidden behind a wisp of clouds. We trudged ahead, as the ground below was not solid, but rather heavily muddy at that point. We then reached a place where the path seemed to split into two. We took one of them arbitrarily. I had not worn my watch as wearing it on trips such as these would be risking losing it or damaging it. I took out my cell phone to look at the time, and found the battery was in its last stages. We found the path had started going steadily upwards.

We seemed to stumble across thorny shrubs very often, and we could feel them stinging our skin. Our clothes were getting caught quite often because of the high density. And taking them out slowly was not only wasting our time, but seemed to be impossible as our fingers were getting cut as well. We started pulling it forecefully and moved on. We walked through the snaking ways, climbing over boulders and small rocks, looking for paths. Quite often I could hear rustling in the bushes nearby, and I was not sure what it was. It was too fast to be a snake, and too short to be a rodent. We ignored them and walked ahead. Several times, we tripped and almost fell, regaining balance at the last moment. We climbed steadily. Time seemed to be running out, as we had less than an hour for sun rise. Or so we thought. At one point of time, a sudden movement sent something flying out of a bush in front of me, making repeated fluttering sounds. I flashed my torch in that direction, and the beam revealed a small bird trying to fly... It had already hit a rock in front of it, and was trying to fly straight through it. It couldn't see in the dark, and was flying in a way which would be futile... We decided to leave the bird as it is, and walked towards the right...

Pavan's legs got stuck in the vines a cople of times, and my ankles got twisted twice as I put my leg in short crevice. We almost reached the top of the hill that we were climbing, and we realised that what lay in front of us, was a huge stone wall. It was enormous, and vertical. And the boulder spread in both directions. There was no way we could climb past it. We realised that our entire journey so far had been in vain. We had spent a lot of energy, because of the speed with which we were moving in the beginning. Our breathing was faster. We decided to walk back... And we didn't know which way was back. Everything was beginning to look alike. Pavan's torch had decided to give up by then. The bright yellow beam was now a chrome yellow one, indicating it was dying. It wouldn't go beyond a couple of metres, and was useless in the vast wasteland that lay sprawling beyond us. I switched on my torch. I had been carrying it in my hand, and soon had realised that a miner's hat would have been more useful, as it had rendered me to be like a three limbed man.

The powerful beam of my torch illuminated the path in front of us, revealing paths in various places. By then, we had learnt that the paths that we were seeing were merely illusions. They would invariably turn out to be more thorny bushes. We were surely going to be stung and scratched even more badly. We slowly walked downwards. We had realised by then that climbing rocks was easier than coming down, as we couldn't see where to keep our foot. The foot holds were few, and with the torch in one hand, and the bag dangling from our shoulders, the descent was rather difficult. I was wary, fearing the loss of my teeth in case of a fall. The torch would have immediately shattered. Plastic doesn't go well with powerful rocks. We reached a flat surface, and were walking away and suddenly, we heard a low growling sound. My torch had lost most of its power by then, and would have been useless pretty soon. The growling sound reminded me of what Kiran had told me earlier... Dogs! There were dogs in Skandagiri (just like any other place, but the timing and location was bad). And this reminded me of the scene from Avatar where the protagonist gets lost in the jungle in the beginning, and dogs attack him. I turned around and flashed my dim light in the direction of the sound, and a gleaming pair of eyes was approaching quickly. We could hear more than one dog approaching... There were no stones to pelt when we needed one, as we had reached the flat muddy surface... No sticks around, nothing.

I was wondering what we could do. There was no way we could outrun them. They could smell and approach us anyway... And we couldn't see anything. The only way we could do anything would be to climb a higher surface, and the higher surfaces were behind the dogs, and what was behind us were thorny bushes... They were around us, when we heard the sound of a man calling out, asking us from which town we were from. We told him that we were from Bangalore. Apparently these dogs were his friends. Again, reminded me of the antagonist from the animated movie, Up [Note to self - Stop watching too many movies]. We told him that we wanted to climb the hill Skandagiri. He told us that we were in the wrong path (Du'h) and told us that he was wondering who these poor fellows (Read morons :P) were, climbing and moving around here. We told him that we would pay him money if he took us to the top. He said that the guards would beat him if he did that, but would show us till the path for money. We gave him Rs. 40 and he walked us a hundred metres with the dogs running ahead of us and sniffing around, looking at us. He pointed out in one direction, and said that if we walked straight that way, we would reach the path that could easily be walked.

We thanked him, and set out. The sky was becoming brighter. We had received several calls by then from our friends who were asking us about our situation. One interesting question was where we were... Krishnaranjan was flashing a light from the top, and he indicated where he was standing. We realised that after all the fiasco, we were again at square one, the base of the hill, and we had run out of our energy. We had no torches by then, and my phone was dead. We had no food, and were tired. Several times we thought of giving up and going back to the van and sleeping. Pavan was telling how it would be an inspirational story if we actually did reach the top - You know, the typical movie one... Then we said to ourselves, - SCREW IT... We came so far to go to the top and we would do exactly that. No matter how long it took. And so, we valiantly ran ahead, with a sudden surge of extra energy that appeared from nowhere... and got lost again. And that reserve energy disappeared as fast as it had come. We were tired and we sat on some rock.

And then, we saw a white torch light and heard some voices. Another group had come, and there was a guide with them. We decided to join them... We moved in their direction, and followed them. The guide led them to a place, and then held a large thorny bush and pulled it to the side. And voila - A path lay behind it. We could have never guessed a path would lie behind the bush. And we would have never found it. We followed the path, and started climbing the hill. Finally we were on the right track. The climb seemed to be easy in the beginning. But we were very tired. Krishnaranjan had started downwards to help us find the path. I found his energy and drive phenomenal. The sun had started rising, but the sun rise was not spectacular - Not as spectacular as we had expected it to be, judging by the photos... The season was wrong I guess... We should have gone when the weather would have been colder. We took frequent rests, sipping water, and climbing again. After almost half our climb, we heard Krishnaranjan through some bushes. We sat for some time, and the trio resumed the climb. It was surprisingly hard. We would have ordinarily considered this climb to be average. But because of the severe loss of energy and dehydration, we couldn't take more than five-six steps at a time. We would wait for a few seconds after every six steps, and breathe heavily. We were panting quite frequently.

And the worst part of the hill is the apparent top. When you feel you have reached the top, you see that there is a top higher than it. We would get excited, and then disappointed. Krishnaranjan, of course knew that the top was really far away. In fact, at one point, I asked him how much further and he said that we had fifty percent more to climb. After what seemed to be a long climb, I asked him again, and he said that we had just completed fifty one percent. Finally, the sun had completely risen and we were almost at the top. Several others holding beer cans and cigaretters, who were coming down asked us if we were going up then. When Pavan told them we were lost, we got stupid replies like - "Yeah, it happens"...

Finally, we reached the top and got a loud cheer from our friends... We sat there for some time, had big swigs from soft drink bottles and water bottles, ate a cream bun... Spoke for some time. And then made our way downwards that was a lot easier than the exciting night we had had...

Comments from Facebook:
Krishna Ranjan
The time sun rised on the top , we were still fighting wid darkness :) It was one of the best adventure hunting you in dark :)

Krishna Ranjan I remember few dogs were also on hunt :) Actually you deserve a medal :)

Ashvin Srinivasan
he he well done both of u guys and also lets not forget pongee

Pavan Gururaj
@baliga:if any director decides to adapt our story.he will definitely win many awards

Dolly Singh
al u guys Rock :)Trip sounds awesome fun :) :P
I missed it!! :(

Comments from Buzz:
Nikhil Narayan - Awesome Travelogue!!!..... And a job well done Baliga and PavanG...... :) .....

pavan gururaj - i will never forgot that day.we did something different .everything was spontaneous thats what made it exciting

Thursday, 11 March 2010

The Medallion

The Medallion

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Personal relationships shouldn't hinder duty, and duty shouldn't hinder personal relationships. But if they do clash, they use the principles of Dharma to resolve the issue"

You can now read the story from the book - Swami G's Short Stories

As she lay on her deathbed, she looked at her two young sons with extreme anguish in her pale eyes. She held the elder son’s little hand in her blood-drained hand, and said “Raj, my son, I don’t have much time left to be with you both. I want you to take good care of your younger brother. You are a strong young man.” With a lot of effort she took out two identical large copper medallions attached to a black thread each, and put one around each son, saying “Just remember that you both will always remain united through me. Raj, promise me that you will always take care of him” Before Raj could promise, her hand went limp, and her eyes half closed. Tears rolled down Raj’s cheeks.

Ten year old Raj held his younger brother’s hand and walked away, leaving his dead mother on the road. He knew they were alone now, and there was no way they could do anything to sustain themselves. They hadn’t eaten for three days, and his dead mother’s body didn’t mean much to them now. She was with them in spirit, and she had taught to them that living a life of integrity was more important than anything else.

But now didn’t seem to be the time to think about integrity. He was thinking of the various means by which he could forage enough food for himself and his five year old brother. The innocent little one was walking around with one hand in Raj’s, and the other hand tightly gripping a weathered rope pulling a toy lorry with three wheels. As they walked through the crowded market place, Raj was aware of the sinister eyes that were constantly watching the boys in tattered clothes. He knew about the villains who caught lone children, intentionally handicapped them and put them to begging. Raj couldn’t bear to see his younger brother with a begging bowl. He always wanted him to grow up to become someone big, even if it meant sacrificing his own dreams. He had promised his dead mother.

But now, he was thinking of various means of livelihood. He could try working as an apprentice in a garage or perhaps as a shoe shine boy. But he was aware of the local mafia. His best friend had told him how the hoodlums came around collecting their “share” of money. And they asked for it like it was their birthright. He knew that the local mafia would sooner or later put these boys into begging. The rich professionals seemed to pity children with disabilities more than shoe shine boys who were working hard to make a living.

They slowly were leaving the market. Raj thought of collecting some money by begging. He moved to a location which was outside the sights of the vicious ruffians. He asked a lot of men in blazers and pressed white shirts and ties, but in vain. People seemed to ignore him, or making loud rude comments asking him to bother someone else. He hated begging for money. He wanted to do something by himself. But he didn’t know what he could do. He could hear his own stomach growling, but that was drowned by the soft voice of his brother who asked “Brother, I am hungry... When do we eat?”

He knew that there was one way to solve this problem. They had already reached the railway station. He had played his favourite game several times, the one where one of his friends had to catch the others to win. But it was very difficult to win if one ran quickly amongst the crowds. Children, he knew, could disappear among the long legs of adults. Life was after-all a game. And he had to win. If not for himself, for his brother. He walked a few steps and saw a hawker selling buns and biscuits. The hawker seemed to be a burly man, with a large moustache and a long vermillion mark on his forehead. Raj knew that this hawker could hardly catch him. Raj was confident that he could easily outrun the hawker due to his small size and speed. His little brother definitely wouldn’t be so lucky. He thought that the simplest way to solve this problem would be to ask him to wait at a location. Raj could then quickly steal a couple of buns, and run to his brother. The hawker would never be able to trace him in the extremely crowded railway station.

Young Raj saw no flaw in his well chalked out plan and took his little brother to the parking lot, and asked him to wait there. He put his brother’s medallion into his shirt and told him that his elder brother would be back in ten minutes. He asked him to not move even an inch till he was back. The little boy nodded, his large brown eyes showing no emotions.

Raj’s heart was pounding. He had never done this before, and he was very worried of getting caught. He went back into the station, and stood, observing the hawker for a while. The hawker seemed to be constantly looking for potential customers around with an eye of an eagle. But there was only weakness in this bird of prey. When he was performing a cash transaction, his vigil seemed to have dropped. Raj knew then, that he would stand a chance if he could pull two buns out of the pile when the hawker was looking into his tin box or groping into his pockets.

Raj sat, patiently, like a lioness waits in the grasslands, waiting for the precise moment. Suddenly like a bolt of lightning, the little boy ran through the crowds, paused for a brief moment in front of the hawker’s stand, pulled out two buns, and before the hawker could realise what had just happened and shout out, Raj was fleeing towards the exit. The hawker shouted “Thief thief, that little boy has robbed me, someone catch him. Police! Police!” An alert constable saw him, and started chasing him. Raj navigated though the crowds with great ease, but the policeman had the advantage of his uniform. People seemed to give way to the constable who was now closing in on the distance with great speed. He quickly dashed out through the exit, and made his way towards the parking lot where his brother was waiting for him. He was thinking all along if he would be able to prevent his brother from getting into trouble. He knew how the police usually treated boys like him. Some of them even wouldn’t mind tossing them into the wolves of the mafia. Panting heavily, he reached the parking area to find his little brother missing. He was suddenly alarmed. He quickly ran around to a couple of places nearby, but couldn’t find him anywhere. He felt a sudden pang of depression and consternation. He felt like he had lost a huge part of himself. The promises he had made to his mother came back. He touched his own medallion, wondering where he could have disappeared off to. Suddenly, a strong hand grabbed his little shoulder. He turned around to see a man in Khaki gripping him in a vice of his hand. He tried to run and then tried to hit the man’s hand and arm several times with his left hand that enclosed the two buns, but in vain.

He looked into the constable’s face, and instead of looking at a gruff countenance saw a rather amused one. Raj didn’t know what to say nor do, his hand still clutching the buns, started crying. Big tears started pouring out of his eyes as he gave up all hopes of trying to escape. The constable looked at him and said, “Oye, boy, stop crying and look at me”. Raj drew in breaths uneasily, and looked at him. “Such a little boy, and already a thief, eh? Should I put you in the lockup?” Raj got frightened, and started crying again. The constable said, “Hush! Stop crying, and come with me. Don’t worry, I won’t do anything”. The words of the constable seemed to be strangely comforting. It reminded him of his mother. The constable took the pacified boy to the hawker, who seemed satisfied that the boy was caught. Before the hawker could say anything, the constable signalled him to wait and said to Raj,”Now apologise to the nice man here for stealing”. Raj didn’t look at the hawker, but mumbled a few words of apologies. The constable then paid for the buns, and took him outside. Sitting down with the boy who was busy devouring the buns like they were a delicious snack, the constable listened to the tale of the little boy. The constable and his wife were childless themselves, and he felt that raising this little boy would serve many purposes – Of them having a child, and it would give this boy a good home as well as keep him out of trouble while keeping the society clean to a certain extent as well. Raj told him about his lost brother. There were no photos of this tramp, and it would not be possible to find him. The constable filed a missing complaint, and took the boy home.

Raj was adopted by the constable. Working in a police station, his constable father knew all the conditions under which people became corrupt. There was always a liking for easy money that drove men to get caught in scam rackets. Or suspicion or plain greed that got people caught in murders. Raj was taught to stick to the responsibilities and fight injustice. Raj was told that justice should be the same to everyone irrespective or religion, caste, gender, wealth or social status. Raj learnt his lessons from his foster father very well. Rehabilitation was taught to be an effective way to reduce crimes. Raj proved to be good at studies as well, and with passage of years grew up to be a fine young man. He soon was wearing Khaki himself, and was now known as Inspector Raj. He made a good name for himself because of his upright nature. Bribes were not seen anywhere around him, and nor were crimes. He lived a principled life – Honesty, integrity and dedication to job were his greatest qualities. His superiors were very happy with him. But Raj always had a deep guilt of losing his brother. He didn’t know what had happened to him. Everytime he touched the copper medallion, he was reminded of the innocent brother

One night as Raj was sitting, pondering about his brother’s whereabouts, stroking the medallion all the while, a fat merchant came running into the police station. He started wailing and shouting. All Raj could make out from the ruckus was that he was robbed by his servant. Raj asked the merchant to sit down, and gave him a glass of water and heard the details carefully. He asked the merchant not to worry, and sent him home. Raj had solved cases like this, and knew exactly what his action plan should be. He dialled a number on his telephone, and spoke rapidly to his informant. Ten minutes later, Raj received a phone call and had already known about the whereabouts of the thief. Picking up his cap and shoving his gun into his holster, Raj walked quickly. The night was hot and humid. He didn’t like such conditions. He had already reached the narrow inner streets which were frequented by hardened criminals. He was very alert now. The tea shop in the corner had only one customer, and from the long white scar along his left arm, Raj was able to correlate it with the information given to him earlier. This was the man. Raj quietly moved closer. Time to use the element of surprise, Raj thought to himself. “So, celebrating your heist, I see” he said quietly. The man suddenly jumped to the side, looked at Raj with frightened eyes, and started running. Raj chased him through the streets. The thief was a fast runner and Raj was not slow himself. There was suddenly a cloudburst, and both of them found it increasingly difficult to run. The ground was slippery, and the puddles seemed to make their feet uncomfortable.

The thief entered into an alley and realised it was a cul de sac, and Raj was waiting like a predator at the other end, looking satisfied with the position of his kill. The thief was fidgeting uneasily. Before Raj could say anything else, he noticed the copper medallion gleaming due to the street light. He moved closer, and realised it was the exact same as the one he was wearing on his neck. He immediately realised the identity of the one in front of him.

Raj was now in a dilemma. On one hand, he had found his own brother after years of wondering where he had lost him. The promise he made to his dead mother came screaming back to him. But he knew he could not keep up his promise. His foster father had taught him that duty comes first. He was taught that one cannot make exceptions to rules, for then, they cease to exist as rules. Rules should be the same for people of all types, irrespective of religion, caste, wealth or social status. Raj remembered the saying of the wise Swami Gulagulaananda - "Personal relationships shouldn't hinder duty, and duty shouldn't hinder personal relationships. But if they do clash, they use the principles of Dharma to resolve the issue" This man, who was in front of him, was a thief first and brother later. Raj knew that he was not supposed to be attached to this man whom he had not seen for so many years. Duty without attachment is supreme. Attachment always creates weaknesses. And yet, blood seemed to connect them through invisible chains. He didn’t want to be bound by relations while in the midst of performing duty. Raj opened his holster to release his Police revolver. He had only intended to ensure that the thief would not resort to bravado. But the thief realised that his game was up, and suddenly ran towards Raj. Raj fired a shot, but missed by a couple of inches. The thief approached Raj with lightning speed, and suddenly pushed Raj to the side and bolted out into the empty street.

As Raj chased the thief, the thief in a fit of panic ran towards the highway, and without looking at the approaching lorry, ran across. There was a sickening thud, muffled, and yet loud enough to let one know that the victim died on the spot. The thief was lying in a pool of his own blood, that was fast getting diluted because of the heavy rain. Raj felt very sick in the stomach. All the promises he made to his dead mother started haunting his mind. He could hear a little boy’s voice, promising her that he would take care of him till his last breath. And that he would grow up to be a big man some day. And here lay his brother’s mangled body. And he was the reason for it. He was supposed to save his brother, and instead ended up being the reason for his death. Raj didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t bear it anymore. The guilt was too much for him. He tried to convince himself that he was not at fault, but he knew deep inside that it was not true. He gave up. He took out his gun, and fired a shot through his forehead... His brain smeared all over the walls of the red truck.

Inspector Suresh replaced Raj’s seat. The merchant was talking excitedly to Suresh explaining his disbelief that a case was solved to quickly, saying how happy he was to recover all his jewellery. He said that he wanted to thank Raj personally. The merchant was then shocked to learn about Raj’s suicide. He looked through the chest, turned to Suresh and said, “This may seem trivial, but my large copper medallion seems to be missing. It’s of great sentimental value to me”

You might also want to read

Just let go - Story of a man stuck in a theatre with his wife, but he has a nagging feeling to leave, and knows that things will be horribly wrong.... unless he lets go

Quirk - Story of a man who is forced to take desperate steps to save his love... but then......

My race against time - A man describes the race against time... the constant running

The girl who was a ghost before she died - A freaky real life story (Other parts are linked at the bottom, so be sure to catch them all)

Comments from Facebook
Prashanth N Bhat
Hey, nice story. You are fast becoming a good writer

Mac Nirmal Lobo
like che tan bhagat, amazing outline, awesome style, brilliant it so much

Srivathsan Lakshmipuram
Dude! Awesome!

Mithun R Shroff
Loved the climax..! Good one Nikhil :)

Amoolya. V. Tatti
Great story! You can be a professional writer! I got totally absorbed while reading :) Great going Nik!

Hemanth Pai Aaj raat 9 baje ... dekhna na bhuliye .. aapke apne Zee Cinema pe ... Big B aur Shashi Kapoor ki Superhit , The Medallion !! :)

Good story , nice twist .. pretty engrossing . good going :)

Nikhil S Bharadwaj
Hey baliga awesome! Really enjoyed reading it :)

Arvind S Murthy
bollywood movie with a hollywood climax :P

Shreya Urala
nice one!

Abhishek Kodankiry
Man, the climax was just too good... nicely written..

Shreyas Ravindran
naice... :)..

Sanjay Kimi
Nice one da. Liked it :D

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

I am from a country where...

Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"I sometimes don't understand what is happening around me... And yet I am called a Swami who knows all - I don't understand that either"

I am from a country where...
  • people are actually fighting to be called "Backward" and show proof also to support it
  • most people are either khota or under quota
  • people become happy for introducing more reservations and quotas and don't realise that it is dividing people on more lines than already existing
  • the benchmark for calling someone minority got erased long back. There exists only one rule - Hindus are majorities, everyone else is a minority
  • people run marathons for causes... that's it! [Artistick makes fun of marathons here]
  • I am made to listen to opinions of a VJ (who was uncomfortable because there was nobody to press the *BEEP* button) who is sitting with top Army officials and top politicians about diplomatic issues.
  • I am made to read the opinions about any thing on earth of the same fashion "gurus" who do nothing more than booze, get caught with drugs, appear on page 3. (And you call ME a Swami who knows all...)
  • people throw stones at random shops and break window panes and wind shields of buses because an actor died a natural death. Hey! That's the way they show their remorse... But I wonder why they were grinning though
  • we have a majority of minorities
  • the media is capable of swaying a large number of people at the same time, and many times, the media is wrong themselves.
  • students are committing suicide for a separate state. One precious life lost, and I am not sure how their deaths are supposed to do anything.
  • the grandchild usually gets to hear the result of the case fought by the grandparent.
  • everyone wants to be number one when it comes to traffic, and nowhere else
India continues to be the single greatest country in the world - Many people may not appreciate it and may point out at the various flaws, poverty, illiteracy, etc. But we continue to progress in spite of all these issues.

Just imagine the situation, if we didn't have corruption, and value was given to merit, and speed of justice was increased ten fold...

Friday, 5 March 2010

Swamis - Famed first, framed later... How true is this?

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Godmen come and Godmen go, for we are all mere mortals - True faith should be placed towards God alone. Godmen are mere facilitators. They hold a map pointing you towards your goal. If you don't like one, go to the other. Even if you don't go to a Godman, you will ultimately still reach your goal. All roads ultimately lead to Sri Krishna"

The recent scandal of Swami Nithyananda resulted in quite a lot of hullaballoo. For those who are unaware of what we are talking about, a famous Swami was allegedly caught on video whilst performing certain sleazy acts. The Swami and his loyal aides say that the video is fake, and that his image was morphed. Should we really believe whatever is shown at its face value? Let's just see how this works.

Let's analyse this case by case, by making certain assumptions. One case would be the obvious one, where the Swami on tape is the real Swami and he was in reality performing sleazy acts. This is the simplest case to analyse, and everyone can do this. So, let's not proceed much into this. If this is true, then we can safely call him a charlatan.

Another case that can be taken, is where one of his jealous inmates, as was claimed, actually took his image and morphed it. Now, this is also possible - To be honest, this is not at all difficult nowadays. Even ordinary college students are quite good when it comes to taking photos and morphing them. Video morphing is just an extension of it. There are very powerful software applications such as Photoshop or Gimp available to do photo modifications which yield such excellent results, that the image that results after the morph looks absolutely real. You might have even seen images (usually email forwards) where a dog's head is put on a fish, or a bear's body having a cat's face. Why not extend the same thing here?

Now the next logical question that will arise is why? There are two reasons - One could be to get back at him at a personal level, that is, some jealous inmate couldn't stand him becoming famous, and thus decided to besmirch his reputation. The other, could be far more ulterior and far more dangerous than what seems at the outset - This could be done by evangelists through someone (possibly the guy who wanted to get back at him)

The second one may seem far fetched, but look at it this way. As it is, a large number of educated people hate Swamis and Babas. Let me call these people literate rather than educated for their knowledge is not truly high. A lot of people don't understand the depth of religion and simply shout out "God doesn't exist". But we shall reserve the discussion of theism for some other day. Why these people hate Swamis is because of the large number of people who cheat others posing as Swamis - In fact, it's only a matter of days before the word "Dhongi Baba" features in a dictionary. As a result of this, not many of the city-wallahs go to Swamis for anything. Sanyasis are simply seen as beggars who are lazy, don't want to do work and are seeking easy money. How true is this statistically is different (and unknown to me), but most people simply don't trust them.

And don't say this is not true. This is also the same reason why a lot of people don't donate money to people who come asking for relief collection. This is because many people simply siphon off the money and it never reaches the needy. The result of this, in the religious aspect, is a steady decline in the number of Hindu believers in cities. And to make matters worse, they call other believers as superstitious. They don't understand that their own knowledge is in reality incomplete. And since they don't understand it, they simply reject it. This is what an evangelist would ideally want. An evangelist wants you to reject your faith - And they don't want people to get organised and united. Division is the best way to break anything - We've learnt this from the "Old man, stupid sons and bundle of sticks" story as well as from the "Divide and Rule" policy of the British. As it is, Hindus are being called fragmented instead of diverse. So this would be the ideal situation for them. And subsequently when you are in a desperate situation, and you have already rejected you faith as false, they will swoop in and convert you.

People should have faith in God - If people have more faith in man than in God, then sooner or later, it will get faded away. There is a simple reason for this. God will never actually cheat you (Atheists will quickly agree with me saying - That which does not exist cannot cheat... So whether or not God exists, I am still right :P) - Whenever you feel cheated, it has to be because of your own actions (Karmic theory). You can alternately have a lot of faith in people who are dead. They can never cheat you either. Most people I know have more faith in Shirdi Sai Baba than the current one. Well, I don't dispute the religious abilities of either, but the former can never cheat you. And thus comes Swami Gulagulaananda's advice - Godmen come and Godmen go, for we are all mere mortals - True faith should be placed towards God alone. Godmen are mere facilitators. They hold a map pointing you towards your goal. If you don't like one, go to the other. Even if you don't go to a Godman, you will ultimately still reach your goal. All roads ultimately lead to Sri Krishna