Friday, February 12, 2016

Time Travelling Thoughts

Do thoughts time travel?
On New Year's day in the year 1879, at 6 Melcombe Place, Dorset Square, London, in a building that does not exist at this time, was born a baby boy. A year later, he lost his father to a disease that still affects an estimated 9.6 M people. Tuberculosis. His name was changed by accident at baptism from Henry to Edward. His ancestors were what one might call a group of democratic socialists, these days. I think this came to bear a whole lot of influence on his writing in later years. He exhibited four key characteristics: curiosity, a free mind, a belief in good taste and a belief in the human race. Nearly thirty years later, he started a novel named "Lucy" at the time. When it was done, the novel resembled a rich concoction of warm and fuzzy optimism. Fourscore and eleven years later, he died. Only after being nominated for the Nobel Prize some thirteen times.

A Theory of Cities and Smells
I did not know the guy. If you are reading this, then you already knew that and quite certainly you did not know him either. I have this theory, you see, and that's what I want to tell you about. I first formulated it three years ago and have since laid it on many an unsuspecting friend as a lunch or dinner conversation. So, here goes: As the name suggests, it is about cities and smells. My hypothesis (which I define as true until proven wrong for my purposes here) is:
Every city, let me teach you, has its own smell!
So simple, you think! Indulge me, anyway. I lived most of my life on shores of a wild sea. As soon as the plane's wheels violently kissed the tarmac, I could smell it before I could see it. The salt of the sea in the air. A pervasive smell just about anywhere. When I lived in the city where a singer Whoopi Goldberg introduced as Ceylon Delong is from, I could again smell it before I could see it (or in this case them). Oh, 420 (pot) friendly Montreal! And, these days, I clearly smell pollution. Again all pervasive that I can hear my lungs screaming at the top of their ...

They do!
By now, you're wondering where is this going? You see, I did not know Henry-accidentally-named-Edward. But, THIS got me SO excited I had to write about it. Fivescore and five years later, Henry's thought snuck (or sneaked, if you are so inclined) into my head. I did not know him and I did not know he had thought my very same theory-thought, before me. It crushed me a little to know it's not my own, original thought. But, then again, who is to say it is not?

Conclusion: Thoughts do time travel.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Last year was what it was because of the people. What it was is for another post but while on the bus stuck in traffic, I started to define each one by a line taken verbatim from our conversations or by a quote. The result follows. (I strongly suspect this might just be part one!) 

அம்மா Love conquers all.

அப்பா Always do your best.
(Together, these two form the kindest and capable-st people I know!)

Koki – I can’t even do one thing at once. So, I do many!
Sometimes, this one also lives by – You don’t have to save the world. Just being a good daughter is enough!

Sadhana – Can I have one more chocolate, please?
To her mother: If you keep scolding me, I’ll run away to Canada.
In conversation: 
Me: Are you happy? 
Sa: Of course! 
Me: What makes you happy? 
Sa: Everrrything!
(She is full of surprises! She can also talk about Angela Davis, Billie Jean King and gender equality. And, to think she’s only seven.)

அவ்வா – (always in my memory) Of course, it’s happening in your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean that it is not real?

The trio (A, G and S) – The Rock. My Rock. They rock.

Prof. L – In conversation, for context:            
Me: But, I have really low tolerance towards failure and I am so old. It sucks!
Prof. L: (jumping in immediately) Yes, I’ve noticed. You have to realize failure is inevitable. It’s going to happen. You have to do it. Regardless.

In the same vein,
Samir – Of course! I won the Rhodes Scholarship and failure hasn’t touched me at all. 
(In case, you’re wondering, he was entirely sarcastic although I have a hard time believing this completely invincible, wildly successful geriatric specialist has faced that soul crushing defeat I’m referring to!)

AnitaI believe in you.

Nidhi – Every cloud has a silver lining. If it doesn’t, it’s not a cloud. And, hey, there’s also the sweet rain with the darkest cloud. Oh, almost forgot about the rainbow after!   

Tori – I am all about that bass, bout that bass, no treble. 
(She specializes in serving up loving-kindness with sass.)  

Chelsea – Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. (Also, the brainiest person/scientist I have the privilege of knowing)
Nirmala Rajaram – Stay humble. Stay foolish.

Joel – Delegation is key. But, of course, know your stuff too.

Pat – (beaming smile) I am good! Always good. 
(His response on any given day, rain or shine. Even when it’s the morning of the day he has to let go of a member of his team).

Nick, the real Tintin – You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!

Ari and PD – Have you eaten, Swaa?

Narayana MurthyYou know Deepika Padukone? You remind me of her. She had to go to Bombay, an unfamiliar city outside of her home and work hard to make a name as a top actress. It’s remarkable!

Heather – You helped me too.

Ratna – Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away.

Gordana – Party hard. Work harder.

Maria – It’s okay to not know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.

AnoopYou know what, Swathi, it’s my life’s mission to eliminate open defecation.

Jim – If you Google me, you won’t find anything on me… we turned several businesses around and then sold them. I’m the guy in the back fixing things.

Prof. Steinberg How can I help you?

Abhi – Courage is not the absence of fear; rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.

Tullio – (after delivering some out-of-the-world hilarious jokes) You have to be careful with the jokes you crack in public. Never know when you cross the line! (winks)

Ginette/Guru – Dance. There’s nothing else I would do with my life.

Shambhavi –  Live. Love. Laugh – a lot.

Mike – Good crying or bad crying? (Also, Song of the Builders by our shared favorite poet).

ShivaliIt is time to move into uncharted lands. If you want to do something you have never done before, you have to do something you have never done before. If you want to go somewhere you have never gone before, you have to go somewhere you have never gone before. You cannot do something new by doing old things. If you want your life to change, you have to change your life. So go ahead. It's safe. And it's also...about time.

DavidTo live is to slowly be born.

Julia, Kathleen and MOOS family – (varying versions of) Don’t go over to the dark side.

Ina – Squat(h)i (Yeah, I am amazed at myself for picking this word-line!)

Maliha – (after we fan-girl talk about Elon) OMG! He’s awesome! I can’t get over it.
Laura – The great isn’t something accidental. It must be willed.  

Liam – I don’t know how but I’ll fix you! 
(He plays in a band and is currently developing a theory of music on my musical "tastes" in order to get me to listen to music and is a neuroscientist on the side. Oh, and he makes podcasts. About the brain. Not music.)

JessThis is already so beautiful!

Omar  alright merci

to be continued...