On groupism

It's all around us. It permeates the entire human social fabric and is not structured - heirarchical or otherwise. We have managed to divide ourselves into millions of small groups, most of them overlapping and contradicting each other. Religion, language, nationality, colour, state, caste, creed, gender and a zillion other groups and sub-groups. We continue to divide ourselves to more and more minute differences almost to the point that every man becomes a group of one.

Grouping ourselves wouldn't have been too bad, if the groups didn't go to war with each other. Hatred seems to be the unseen motive of division here. Agreed that people differ in their opinions, physique, colour, beliefs, life and many other things. However this does not mean that one set of people is better than the other. An important problem is that we do not stop dividing further. The social structure acts like one of those lower organisms that divide and multiply into huge numbers.

Imagine an India-Pakistan cricket match. Every Indian worth his salt joins in the general Pakistan-bashing. Discussions don't stop at cricket. They talk about the kashmir issue going back upto the partition and why that shouldn't have happened. One thing I have noticed is that when the talk turns to partition, someone or the other is bound to blame and curse M. Gandhi for all our troubles. I don't know if Gandhi was the sole reason for India's independence, but I do believe that the role he played was(is) too big to be swept under the floor.

Coming back to the topic. While the match lasts, everybody (everybody Indian) is equal. Patriotism and national pride are the buzzwords. Once the match ends, national pride is bid goodbye. Somebody (from North India ofcourse) would think that South Indians are pretty messed up in their heads. Boom! Every South Indian would be ready to take up the cudgel to defend his region. References to history and aryans would be drawn to prove the point that India belonged to South Indians.

Meanwhile somebody would start comparing different cities. Which city is cosmopolitan? Which one is more modern than the other? Which city fuels India's economy? Which one is the best? When that conversation appears to peter out, another very important question would arise. We agree that city X is pretty good, but who contributes to its status. Is it the "migrants" (as if they are from a completely different dimension) or is it the "natives"? The so-called Migrants would
claim that they are the cause for the wealth of the city and all the comforts that have come into it. The natives would oppose with a snide - "You destroyed the city. You cause the traffic jams and the security issues".

Do we ever stop? Nope. Never. We have so much time on our hands and so many classification methods to cover. After all, a person's native language can script his attitude and his social status can determine his virtuosness.

1) Notice that I have used "his" in many places. Another example of the groupism embedded into us and our language. :-)

2) It is not hard to believe that the rigid social differentiation we have followed for millions of years has thrown Darwin's "Natural Selection" askew. We have allowed these differences to be the foundation for marriage and other social interaction. In effect we might have prevented nature from mixing and matching the gene pool to create naturally stronger humans. On the other hand, the closed groups would have spread defective and weak genes thoughout the group, thus preventing nature from filtering out the weed. So when the human species withers away, we know one of the culprits to blame.

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that phase of life

I guess I am at that phase in life where you question the need and/or the purpose of things. Questions ranging from the mundane to the unanswerable circle through my head every night. They create such a racket that it takes me a very long time to shut each of them off and be able to sleep. If I chose to ignore a question, it comes back and hits from every possible direction. Every thought ends up sinking into that question. So i don't ignore them. I examine the question, turn it around and look at it in all possible ways. Most of the time I don't get an answer, but the question is satiated by the attention and goes away.

< i have no idea what I just wrote >

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Survival Training @ work

The company gets assignments in remote and almost inaccessible areas especially in the African region. The conditions and dangers prevalent in these areas require assets to be in peak order. Assets would have to negotiate all kinds of confrontations when on a mission. Some of the main problems that an asset can face include rude people, bad or inedible food and climatic changes. The company trains and seasons each asset to become almost immune to such adverse conditions.

The first and most important tactical survival training takes on weather. During the course of their routine work (read non-field assignments), assets are exposed to heat and cold in indeterminate alternation. This is achieved through the central air conditioning unit which is turned on to extreme cold and then turned off to extreme heat in sporadic intervals.

Survival training number two prepares us for the worst possible food scenarios. The food served to the assets are tasteless, cold and in the worst of conditions. Sometimes the food is also filled with foreign agents like insects. This helps the assets to condition their stomach to bear worst-case scenarios and their tongues to become unreactive to taste, good or bad.

In addition to these two primary approaches, there are training surprises on the agenda too. Examples include serving tea with spoiled milk, elevators that can test patience and roofs that suddenly leak during rains.

The trainings are so organized that the assets are prepared both physically and mentally to take on what would be the worst nightmares for an untrained person.

Kudos to the administration department that has taken up this herculean task of making our assets attuned to hazardous living. "Survival of the fittest" derives new meaning here.

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Ref: Ten Most Amazing Things (No.2)

Thanks to my friend Vijay, I now know the word for the earthy rain smell - "Petrichor".
Found a couple of interesting links on this.



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Garden paths

Ever heard of them? I hadn't too, until I saw a post on our newsgroup.

Take a look at this page first http://www.site.uottawa.ca/~kbarker/garden-path.html. Doesn't make sense, does it?

These notes posted on the web rock. (that was my lame attempt at a garden path sentence).

Read these articles to know what garden path sentences are:



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some more pix

These are left-overs from the trip to Madikeri


And these are the intial batch from the Kundapura trip last month


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mumble rumble

Have you ever wondered what in the world you are doing with life? Have you ever wanted to just give up and do something wacky and unconventional in life?

At every stage in life, we would look ahead at the next stage and think - "Ha, that's when I'll be happy and free. Free from the worries that I carry around, free from the life that I so dislike." Later when we do get there, reality strikes. There is the past that was so much better than the present. There is also the future that lures us on with promises of a life better than the present and the past.

When in school, final exams and assignments would be the dreaded things. Every day a drag in a crazy attempt to finish the homework and study for the upcoming exam. Every progress report an open invite for "parent" talk. College-life, with its impressively cool image, would appear to be the cure-all for all this. Fast-forward to college and exams aren't that important but the myths of the job market take their toll. Questions about what life might have in store and whether we can ever achieve anything take precedence. Dreams about a richly satisfying job and a fabulously independent life carry us through.

Finally, we do end up with a job that pays well. But where is the time to use the money? Delivery schedules and other pressures take the fun out of life. You lead a zombie-ish life. Deadbeat during the week and too lethargic to do anything on the weekends. Visions of a laid-back retired life in scenic surroundings fill our dreams and we march on like ants hoarding for the winter. By the time we make enough money to guarantee a trouble free rest-of-the-life, we would be old and shaken by the trauma of work pressure.

What we, however, do not notice are the moments of unhindered happiness that occurs to every one of us. The laughs we share with our friends and the dinners we shared with people. The beautiful sunsets that we are awed by. The cool water under a waterfall. There are a zillion and odd things that have made us smile and laugh.

There have been undeniably good times in our lives and they usually do balance out the bad days. But we never allow ourselves to be convinced that life is neutral. That the good balances the evil, the joys balance the sorrows. Ofcourse the happiness may be in short bursts - a few days or even a few seconds sometimes. The challange is to string these pieces together to look at them as a whole. Once we learn how to do that, our lives should be better.

P.S: I have no idea what got over me today!!

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the ten most amazing things

Everyone of us loves some things. Things that might seem silly to others, but is incredibly precious to us. They bring upon a smile even under the toughest situations. They bring to us a peace which is unarguably pleasant, however short-lived it might be.

I attempt to list the 10 things that I think are the most amazing to me. The top 10, with the number 1 missing for obvious reasons. :)

2) The wonderful earth-smell when it rains.
3) A long winding road passing through fields, with no traffic
4) Chocolates - not dark chocolate though
5) Beautiful fluffy clouds that seem to melt into shapes.
6) A good book, a hot tea, some music and my beanbag on a rainy day
7) Moonlight.
8) Getting goosebumps
9) Lazing around on a monday morning.
10)Sunset and sunrise.

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