The Debut of Tektoks

Considering that I could soon announce “I used to be a blogger” as I drag my feet to publish new posts on my so called “active” blog, I had the temerity to start a new blog at http://tektoks.wordpress.com !

Having long back shunned all the advocated advice on blogging & blogging frequencies, I did not let those piddly little irritations come in the way of spawning more blogs. I think I now have the general drift of why low-income families continue to procreate rabidly despite having limited means.

The new blog is predominantly slated to be on data science and analytics, a field of my interest. I hope to publish posts for “normal” people and some for those who are from Planet Zog.

This little upstart was unceremoniously kicked out of Indiblogger, where it was told to get at least 20 posts before it could show it’s face.Since that is a tall order and could take several years, I decided to repost some of my not-so-geeky articles through “The Motley Collections” as well.

So re-blogging my first post on “The Art Of Finding Patterns”….

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Prophecies have existed and have continued to enamor us since the ancient and the medieval period. Humans have always been interested in knowing the future, because of the decided advantage that gives us. Knowing what can happen next and being among the privileged few to have that knowledge, is the key to success.

Early in school, we learn that to predict the next number in a sequence, we must figure out the patterns in the previous set of numbers. While in textbook problems, we always know that a pattern exists and we only need to uncover it, in many real world problems, the question whether any pattern exists in the first place, needs to be answered.

Read the rest on my new blog – https://tektoks.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/the-art-of-finding-patterns/

 

 

Emil’s Enemies

Our knowledge on Nazi atrocities is quite voluminous but very little is known about the German resistance which took the lives of approximately 77,000 people. The loosely bound resistance could not muster an organized strength to pose any serious threat to the Third Reich, but it did carry out about 30 assassination attempts on Hitler.

Notable among these conspirators was a Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law ,a lawyer by the name of Hans von Dohnányi.Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a protestant theologist who rose against the Church’s unequivocal support to the state and sought to distance religious affairs from state influence.While he was opposed to Hitler’s philosophy right from the beginning, it was due to his brother-in-law Hans von Dohnányi, that he got more actively involved in the resistance. As he moved away from pacifist ideologies of the church, he believed that a true follower of Christianity also needed to act on it. “..the church must “not only bind up the wounds of those who have fallen beneath the wheel” of the state “but at times halt the wheel itself.” – (sic) from his essay “The Church and the Jewish Question”.It was this thought which helped him to cross the critical divide from being a mute spectator of evil to actively stopping evil and somewhat assuage his moral dilemma .

Equally and if not more courageous, is the story of Hans von Dohnányi – the man responsible for rescuing almost 14 Jews and also engineering several assassination attempts.Hans and Dietrich were men who showed great moral integrity and exemplary courage at one of history’s most difficult times.Both of them were eventually caught, tried by the SS courts and condemned.They were executed by the painful method of being hanged using a piano wire.

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The story of Hans,Dietrich and others at the German resistance are stories that need to be told. To condense such a vast history,context,characters into the confines of a time-bound theater play seems daunting,but this is exactly what the play “Emil’s Enemies” sets out to do.A famous play by American playwright,Professor Douglas Huff,it portrays the last assassination attempt on Hitler (code named Emil) by Hans and Dietrich. The play is a result of 10 years of diligent research by Prof. Huff where he has endevoured to bring out the essence. Directed by the renowned theater personality Prof. Vijay Padaki and presented by Bangalore Little Theater, I got a chance to watch the play at Ranga Shankara,Bangalore yesterday.

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Col. Raeder and Lt. Creutzfeldd of the SS – Emil’s Enemies

It is a 95 minutes play without interval and comprises of 12 scenes.Scenes of Dietrich writing his memoirs and readying for his execution alternate with events that lead up to the capture of the conspirators. The acting by the cast was quite commendable.Their capacity to enact and bring to life such complex characters,shows the enormous effort that’s been put in.With all the pre-reading that I had done on the subject, I was expecting to see Dietrich as the central character, and hence was pleasantly surprised to see both Hans and Dietrich being accorded equal importance. The play also brings forth a more human aspect of the characters, wherein each one faces a dilemma of some sort or the other, but in the end abides by their inner conscience. For such a somber topic, the humor in the dialog provide a welcome distraction. I did however feel, that audiences who did not read up on the history, might have found it a bit difficult to follow and keep track between the swiftly alternating scenes. The lines of some of the characters were delivered a tad bit too fast and it’s possible to miss out on some crucial conversations. I would definitely advice audiences to pre-read on the history before watching the play.
If you haven’t watched it yet, here’s a chance for you to catch up on the play in Bengaluru on April 21,April 29-May 1 and May6-May8.

FB : https://www.facebook.com/events/368196763304068/
Book My Ticket : https://in.bookmyshow.com/plays/emils-enemies/ET00040622

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I end with this hymn that was written by Dietrich Bonheoffer in the concentration camp, shortly before his death.

By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered,
And confidently waiting come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning,
and never fails to greet us each new day.

Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
Still evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
Oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation
for which, O Lord, You taught us to prepare.

And when this cup You give is filled to brimming
With bitter suffering, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling,
out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Yet when again in this same world You give us
The joy we had, the brightness of Your Sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through,
and our whole life shall then be Yours alone

-ooo-

Disclaimer : I was invited by BLT to watch the play

 

Purposeless on Purpose

There are a lot of things we “know” but don’t know.Sometimes,thoughts have to be framed just the right way to start making perfect sense and for us to experience that ‘Aha’ moment.A thought-provoking article from Brain Pickings helped crystallize a lot of my loosely framed thoughts.

Alan Watts, the British philosopher stated –

“Money is a way of measuring wealth but is not wealth in itself. A chest of gold coins or a fat wallet of bills is of no use whatsoever to a wrecked sailor alone on a raft. He needs real wealth, in the form of a fishing rod, a compass, an outboard motor with gas, and a female companion. But this ingrained and archaic confusion of  money with wealth is now the main reason we are not going ahead full tilt with the development of our technological genius for the production of more than adequate food, clothing, housing, and utilities for every person on earth.”

When we become willing slaves to the money-making machinery and devote every moment of our lives to the blinkered pursuit of money, every voice that detracts us sounds irritating.As we run our race, all we can think of is reaching the finish line. At times we are at a loss to remember why we started running in the first place or why we were still running and what would we do when we reached the finish line, if there was one. We shudder to lose that one goal that threatens to leave us rudderless in the world, without a sense of purpose.

“Wealth” as Watts defines,is anything which enables us to live a fuller life.Going strictly by that definition, the meaning of wealth could vary vastly for different individuals.However, it would be reasonable to assume that some things might more or less be broad enough to be considered as contributors to a fuller life ; for instance spending quality time with loved ones, bringing up a child to be responsible and a confident adult, savoring good food etc. Wealth could imply enriching one’s own personality in terms of creating works of art, beauty, literature etc and could also be inferred as enriching one’s life by supporting other lives.”Some” wealth could be enabled by money.

When we disassociate ourselves from a money-based evaluation system and wait for the haze to settle down, we find new roles which hitherto didn’t figure anywhere in the leaderboard. Many homemakers who have had to struggle with a sense of purposelessness or have had to ward off uncomfortable questions, suddenly find themselves well-placed in a wealth-based system. It all starts making perfect sense, when you view that each homemaker is creating wealth for the family by supporting other members in differing capacities and roles. Many people in their pursuits of art, literature, theater, academic research etc are creating wealth, though they sometimes might not be making too much money.

The importance of viewing money as just an enabler and not an end-goal marks an important step,in how we perceive others and evaluate our own self-worth.

Whether it’s creation of wealth or money, we are inclined to look at both as fulfilling a sense of purpose – the reason we were born and what we were meant to do. Some of us keep looking for that elusive purpose all our lives. Some of us get dispirited when it doesn’t turn up in an all-encompassing magnificent vision and tragically spiral downwards in an existential crisis.

Considering the bigger scheme of things, we are an infinitesimally minute part of the cosmos. Nothing we do today, is going to live after a 1000 years or 10000 years.For all we know, humans might have long vanished off the face of the earth. What is the purpose of life of an ant or a bee ? It lives and it dies. Was it’s living and dying purposeless. And would we as humans, be able to live with that sense of purposelessness or the apparent randomness of the whole thing. Wouldn’t life come to a grinding halt ? So we indulge ourselves by our prescribed sense of purpose, that which will enable us to live a fuller life.

Now let’s change that logic to see things in a radically opposite manner.What if, right from the day we were born, to the day we die, we have fulfilled all our purposes. All that was ever destined for us. No life was,is or will , ever be purposeless. No bee or ant died a purposeless life.Every life is meaningful and is being lived the way it was always meant to be. So when one’s life is over, one should always be able to look back at it,as having done exactly what one was supposed to do, fulfilled everything that one had been born for. Does that mean that we don’t look for and try to pursue things that makes us happy or increase our self-worth or our wealth. Of course not, because that too is a part of living but that doesn’t change the intrinsic value or the bigger purpose of our life.

So, either our lives are completely purposeless or each and every one of our lives has a very deep sense of purpose. Whichever way we choose to look at it, we are all, definitely, in the same boat and if there’s really a race, we are either all winning or all losing. I would prefer to think we are all winning  :)

Teaspoon

“Life is difficult
this is a great truth, of the greatest truths.
It is a great truth because once we truly
see this truth, we transcend it.
Once we truly understand and accept it –
then life is no longer difficult.
Because once it is accepted,
the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

 – M Scott Peck, The Road less traveled

Life is definitely not smooth sailing but how does one negotiate the troughs of life. Mental conditioning with liberal doses of spirituality, positivity , stoicism,meditation and learning from other’s experiences are great coping strategies. Recent research has shown that repetitive mental activity can rewire and physically change the structure of the brain. So in effect,reinforcing and repeatedly being positive in day to day life,definitely goes a long way towards strengthening the neuron synapses. That throws up interesting possibilities, as it might be possible to condition oneself for being positive even in preparedness for an event ,that is yet to occur.

To maintain equanimity as age & time deal a hard blow, requires great inner fortitude.To suddenly find your physical strength deserting you,to be trapped within your own body, can be intensely traumatic and despite all the mental preparation, one can precariously totter on the verge of a complete collapse. And while the tide of destiny sweeps away the tenuous hold on a patient’s physical well-being, equally and if not more exacting is the role of a caregiver in taking care of a terminally ill or a bed ridden patient.

The Gita says – “If you only enjoy the gifts of the Universe, the life-giving sun, the nourishing rain, the fertile earth, the lofty mountains,the flowing rivers and not put your own shoulder to the wheel, offering your effort back to the Universe, you are no better than a common thief”

Duties need to be done, just like nature performs its role unerringly.Our own body,with its rhythmic heart beats infusing us with life-giving blood,is no less an inspiration. And no duty can be more urgent,more righteous than filial duty. Dwelling on this thought might help in cultivating the huge amount of energy,that being a caregiver entails. Being human and having a conscious choice in matters, weighs us down with enormous responsibilities. That,in which lesser men and women have been known to fail.

And so, we must not forget that a caregiver too is a human and unfortunately carries the burden of human fallibility. Most of us sympathize with the patient but few spare a thought to the continuous toil of a primary caregiver. And just like a mother,who becomes a primary care giver for a baby, needs support and needs to take a breather once in a while,so does a caregiver. Rachna wrote this beautiful post on a caregiver’s side of the story some time back.

The greatest strength lies within oneself and so does our greatest weakness. And it is times like these that truly test our mettle and although each step forward might be excruciatingly hard, the day will come when we can look back without regrets. There’s no weight that’s heavier to bear than a troubled conscience.

Presenting this beautiful 2015 short film today “Teaspoon” (Running time: 20 mins) by Aban Bharucha Deohans.

Advised reading after viewing:

The plot of this film was really rich with myriad perspectives. The overall direction and acting was quite good other than the slightly jerky acting by the husband. But what I loved was the theme, which has been explored with all its nuances. I give full points for the story and the masterful ending, leaving open possibilities which were left unsaid.

Viewed in a different light, what if the lady had actually been imagining things and had actually become unhinged.But in retrospect, there were teaspoon marks by the bedside. Our mind plays weird games and it doesn’t take long for the lines of imagination and reality to quickly blur. The story brings out the need to be compassionate to all. It’s also quite possible that, for the want of a bit of compassion from the husband, a tragedy could have been avoided.

Overall a beautiful and a very thought provoking film.

Do watch and tell me your thoughts about the film !

Little Terrorist

There was an interesting article in The Hindu recently quoting Rabindranath Tagore on nationalism. To quote Tagore’s words –

“I am not against one nation in particular, but against the general idea of all nations. What is the Nation? It is the aspect of a whole people as an organised power. This organisation incessantly keeps up the insistence of the population on becoming strong and efficient. But this strenuous effort after strength and efficiency drains man’s energy from his higher nature where he is self-sacrificing and creative. For thereby man’s power of sacrifice is diverted from his ultimate object, which is moral, to the maintenance of this organisation, which is mechanical.

Yet in this he feels all the satisfaction of moral exaltation and therefore becomes supremely dangerous to humanity. He feels relieved of the urging of his conscience when he can transfer his responsibility to this machine which is the creation of his intellect and not of his complete moral personality.

By this device people who love freedom perpetuate slavery in a large portion of the world with the comfortable feeling of pride of having done its duty; men who are naturally just can be cruelly unjust both in their act and their thought, accompanied by a feeling that they are helping the world in receiving its deserts; men who are honest can blindly go on robbing others of their human rights for self-aggrandizement, all the while abusing the deprived for not deserving better treatment.”

Nationalism can often come into conflict with humanism. And when it does, which direction should the moral compass point to. Should one choose to be a nationalist or a humanist, even if is at the cost of being deemed unpatriotic.It is far easier to be a rightful nationalist as one confines to a set of rules and enjoys the luxury of limited options.The blind following of rules for national identity sometimes leads to catastrophes like the disaster of the German camps. While more than a handful of people who orchestrated the whole machinery, could be classified as zealots and sadists, what can be said for the vast majority of SS people who blindly followed orders. How were they able to justify the atrocities they were committing ? It was probably easier to hide behind the cloak of moral responsibility as the rightful guardians of their nation than it was to face their conscience in the sunken eyes of their hostages.

When a country’s security becomes a machinery, it can no longer afford itself the luxury of humanity and innocent people caught in the cross-fire of border conflicts are often collateral damage.With this heavy backdrop, who would have thought that it was possible to capture so many emotions through a delightfully light short-film about a small child. I present this beautiful short film “Little Terrorist” (Running time: 15 mins), written and produced by Ashvin Kumar.

 

 

Advised reading after viewing:

I loved the way such deep aspects have been brought forth so delightfully in such a simple movie.The acting was polished and it was therefore, a surprise to know that not one of them was a seasoned actor. Zulfuqar Ali who played the part of Salim was a street child, Sushil Sharma a clerk and Meghna was a 12th student when the movie was shot.The movie was nominated for the 2005 Academy Award for Live action Short film.

The bonds that united and the bonds that divided, both have been woven intricately. Both present and undeniably woven into the fabric of their personalities and yet, ultimately it’s a victory for humanity.

There were slight inconsistencies that mildly rankled the “realism” bit, but these were easily overshadowed by the beauty of this wonderful piece of art.

Do watch and I would love to hear your thoughts on it !