Category Archives: Life and Death

Of celebrating life, even in deaththis category contains some of my more personal posts.

Binding Books

When I was about 15, oh so long ago now, I had this crazy hobby of book binding, which is like the process of turning a paperback into a hardcover, or adding a hardcover to an exercise book. With the mild OCD that I have, I do get a bit carried away with such things, and no books around me or in my dad’s collection were spared. I collaborated with a local printing press to access their cutting machine and local stationery stores to research on various techniques and acquire supplies. My crowning moment was when I did a “full-calico” binding on a rather useless book that my dad had recently purchased.
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When my mother gave birth to me, it was a touch-and-go sitiuation. I was created with an abnormally huge head, which I would like to insist is filled with a brain the size of a small planet. Whether because of the head or some other medical reason, my mother had to undergo an emergency c-section. Remember, this was more than half a century ago in a remote hill station near Munnar in Kerala.
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Childhood Friend

When I was a child, Saya mempunyai rakan di kawasan kejiranan,,en,Seorang pintar,,en,dan sedikit kusut,,en,anak,,en,tidak seperti saya,,en,Kami biasa melepak,,en,bermain badminton dan melakukan eksperimen fizik,,en,Pada masa kami masih remaja,,en,kami agak berpisah,,en,ketika jalan kami menyimpang,,en,Kemudian,,en,Saya pergi ke IIT-USA,,en,laluan warganegara global dan berakhir di Singapura,,en,Dia,,en,cita-cita yang lebih sederhana,,en,tinggal di rumah,,en,dan mendapat pekerjaan yang hampir sama dengan yang biasa dilakukan oleh ayah saya,,en,Saya terus mendengarnya,,en,walaupun saya tidak pernah bertemu dengannya,,en,Dia telah berkahwin,,en,mungkin mempunyai beberapa anak,,en,dan semuanya pasti berjalan lancar,,en,walaupun sedikit suram,,en,Tetapi beberapa tahun yang lalu dia tiba-tiba meninggal kerana leukemia,,en,persahabatan,,en,taman cantik,,no,Menembak Sekolah Amerika,,en,Hari lain,,en,menembak sekolah Amerika yang lain,,en,Kejadian yang boleh diramalkan akan berlaku,,en,fikiran dan doa,,en. A smart (and slightly nerdy) kid, not unlike myself. We used to hang out, play badminton and do physics experiments. By the time we were teenagers, we kind of drifted apart, as our paths diverged. Later on, I went the IIT-USA, global-citizen-route and ended up in Singapore. He, of more modest ambitions, stayed back at home, and got a job roughly similar to what my father used to do. I kept hearing of him, although I never really ran into him. He got married, probably had a couple of kids, and everything must have been going smoothly, even a bit dully. But a couple of years ago he suddenly died of leukemia.

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American School Shooting

Another day, another American school shooting. The predictable aftermath will be “thoughts and prayers” (walaupun orang menggunakan perkataan yang berbeza sekarang kerana iklim skeptisisme semasa,,en,perbahasan sia-sia mengenai undang-undang senjata,,en,dan beberapa "tidak pernah lagi" dan "tidak pernah lupa",,en,Bukannya latihan yang sia-sia,,en,Saya fikir saya akan menulis mengenai beberapa aspek pelik mengenai percintaan mematikan Amerika dengan senjata api,,en,lobi senapang,,en,keganasan senjata api,,en,penembakan beramai-ramai,,en,Keibubapaan,,en,Apabila Anak Anda Sebesar Anda,,en,Ibu saya pernah mengatakan bahawa ketika anak anda sebesar anda,,en,anda harus memperlakukan mereka dengan hormat,,en,Yang sebenarnya dia katakan ialah anda harus mengatasinya dengan menggunakan bentuk hormat,,en,awak,,en,yang tidak masuk akal dalam bahasa Inggeris,,en,tetapi boleh berfungsi dalam bahasa Hindi atau Perancis,,en,Ia berfungsi dengan baik secara puitis di Malayalam,,en), another pointless debate over gun laws, and a few “never agains” and “never forgets”. Instead of those exercises in futility, I thought I would write about some other curious aspects of America’s deadly romance with guns.

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Life is full of contradictions.

I am attending a research retreat on mindfulness and contemplative practices at the beautiful Garrison Institute. I am learning a lot of interesting things, and meeting a lot of like-minded and excellent people – the kind of people with whom I could have deep conversation about the unreal nature of reality, unlike most people from other walks of life would politely and tactfully excuse themselves when I get a bit unreal.

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Twilight Years

At some point in our life, we come to accept the fact we are closer to death than life. What lies ahead is definitely less significant than what is left behind. These are the twilight years, and I have come to accept them. With darkness descending over the horizons, and the long shadows of misspent years and evaded human conditions slithering all around me, I peer into the void, into an eternity of silence and dreamlessness. It is almost time.

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Bhagavad Gita

Among the religious texts of Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita is the most revered one. Literally presented as the word of God, the Bhagavad Gita enjoys a stature similar to the Bible or the Koran. Like all scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita also can be read, not merely as an act of devotion, but as a philosophical discourse as well. It presents a philosophical stance in understanding the world, which forms (for those from India) the basic and fundamental assumptions in dealing with life, and the unknowable reality around them. In fact, it is more than just assumptions and hypotheses; it is the basis of commonsense handed down from generation to generation. It is the foundations of intellect, which form the instinctive and emotional understanding of reality that is assimilated before logic and cannot be touched or analyzed with rationality. They are the mythos that trump logos every time.

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Aging Mind

I used to have a pretty sharp mind, particularly when it came to simple arithmetic. I think age has begun to dull it. Case in point: recently I had to check a friend’s pulse rate. So I felt his pulse for 15 seconds and got 17 beats. At that point, I wanted to call out the heart beats per minute. And at that point, my mind suddenly went blank. It started going through this chain, “Ok, I got 17 for 15 seconds. So what is it for a minute? It should be, what, 60 seconds over 15 times 17. Hold it, where is my iPhone? I need a calculator. No wait, it is 17 for a quarter of a minute. So 17 times 4. Where is my calculator, dammit?!” Granted, it was a slightly stressful situation. But this is not at all the way my mind used to work.

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Income Inequality

I read on BBC yesterday that the richest 62 people in the world now earn as much as the poorest half, which would be about 3.5 billion people! Although there is some confusion about the methodology, it is clear that the wealth and income have been getting more and more polarized. The rich are certainly getting richer. Income inequality is more acute than ever.

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