Monday, July 20, 2015

The enviable pleasure of realizing the beauty of thoughts

Posted by at 4:19 AM
When I took the condensed milk can out of the fridge, it was mostly to satiate my hunger, as it was 2am of a Monday, and I was trying to avoid overeating. I had consumed a good amount of spicy take-away food the previous night, with my college friends working in the same city as mine , while we had a suddenly-planned house party to reminisce the nostalgia of our college days. Consequently, I decided to eat as less as I could on Sunday.

Needless to say, my appetite was all but dead. I sat down on a matress on my floor , turned on The Office on Netflix, and wanted to finish a few episodes while I indulged in the sweetness of the dessert.

I had initially hoped to be done after having a spoonful, as it was really sweet and not much of a healthy option. But I overpoured it into the bowl, and decided to go slow with it. Moments later, I was enjoying its deliciousness, while a decent episode of the Steve Carell mockumentary, The Office, played.

Licking it off my fingers gave me a sugar rush of sorts, which thankfully lasted a few mere seconds. It felt curiously happy, and I started diving deep into my thoughts. I switched to watching some Harvard Talent Show videos , the one that is organized in John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Immaculate videos. Made the whole setting joyous. Thoughts about alt-J songs crossed my mind, the complexities of their lyrics , the relevance and subtle, often clever references to pop cultures in movies, dawned a beautiful array of thoughts in my head.

Spending some more time on the videos , as I fnished the serving, I decided to retire for the day. It had been a tiring one , combined with the lethargy of the weather outside, I had a near-perfect evening of recovery from last night's event at my place.I had gone out a few hours back, and it rained as I was coming back. Luckily, there was a line of trees next to a bus stop in Madhapur ( a few 100 meters from Cyber Tower ) , which served as a welcome shelter for my bike and me, as I saw new-found love and camaraderie next to myself- a newly-married couple who had to make a stop too, with them having a bike at their disposal, as well. Not exactly perky but subtle conversation, in sync with the laid-back attitude of the city on a Sunday.

I sat with my copy of  'A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces' , gifted to me by a friend , an elder sisterly figure (because she is a great listener) whom I got acquainted to when we were representing Kolkata in a pan-India blogging competition. I had already finished the first story in it, a work written by Tagore and translated to English by Amitava Ghosh, and was looking forward to read the next. That's when I realized that the cap of the condensed milk can was on the floor and I had forgotten to cap it.

Oh laziness! How you can kick in the worst way, I reflected as I smiled. I corrected the mistake after a long bout of convincing-unconvincing myself about ants attacking the can and making a mess of my floor by the next morning. Perhaps that's how prolonged an effect of a bite that injects Formic acid in your skin lasts - I remember I was bitten by a big black ant when I was in 8th grade, but that was the last time I was in pain resulting from an ant bite, strong enough for me to remember-  that I was able to force myself up from the bed and put the lid on the can.

That is when , a nice little thought cropped up inside my head - is this air-tight cap good enough? How does one measure its quality? As an engineer who has some experience with QA, I soon found myself thinking of scenarios where it could fail. What if ants are small enough to creep inside the can? What if a bit of the cap is left gaping, what if I poked a hole at the top or at the side of the cap? What if I place the can in a different , violent environment in favor of ants?

I started, vividly, picturizing the placing of the can in a glass box full of ants which I probably acquired from some hobbyist. As I did so, I tried to visualize the movement of the ants. First it would be chaotic, incoherent, with vectors of their movement canceling out the overall force on the can. Would they even be motivated enough to climb into the can? Surely they will get to 'detect' the sweetness emanating from the sides of the gaping opening at the top of the cap? Will they then change their formation, regroup and attempt to strengthen their force in one definite direction towards the can, with a motive of toppling it? Or will they, simply, let it be?

The immense possibilities of this scenario and the sub-scenarios hence-generated made me wonder, how it would be if we really took some time out to analyze the regular things we see almost everyday in our lives. The breaking down of the problem statement, the analyzing of the information at hand, the ease of utilizing our skills to propose a solution, the dedication of going back and fixing the solution, again and again till there's an elegant and acceptable version of the solution, and the belief that you will fix the problem, no matter what, is all it would take.

That belief is important. It is necessary and of course, significantly beautiful.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Induction

Posted by at 7:15 PM
She parked her car hurriedly, almost hitting the pole nearby. Getting out of the car, she could see the beastly flyer of Dr Ryan's Clinic. 'We can surely help you.' the tagline had a hidden indication that somehow soothed her , assuring her that Dr Ryan would be able to fend off this feeling of hopelessness that she had been fighting for months now.

She checked at the reception, and was requested to take a seat. The interiors of the waiting room was unusually cheerful- vibrant colors that hurt her eyes. In no time, the attendant called out her name and she was escorted inside Dr Ryan's chamber.

"Anne, please take a seat."
"Thanks, doctor."
"So tell me, what troubles you?"
"I..I don't know doctor.. I have no answer for that question.."
"Okay, but surely you can give me something! Tell me , what did you have for breakfast today?"
"Some scrambled eggs and coffee."
"Black ?"
"Yes. Wow.. erm.."
"I too had black coffee this morning. So how was it? How did you feel after finishing that cup?"
"I felt..awake..but at the same time it made me sad.."
"You think feeling partially sleepy lessens your sadness?"
"..I guess.. it makes me forget my troubles , doc.."
"...okay Anne, we will resume from here, but I need you to lie down on the couch here first. I want you to relax."

Dr Ryan helped her settle down at the couch. She was feeling at home somehow, yet the set up of a typical clinic as this was, made her remember that she wasn't really at home.

"You can continue now.."

"The thing is , doctor, that I don't know what makes me sad in the morning. It feels like I am being put in a zone everyday, by default, without any justification, and I am meant to stay in that darkness , where there's no light but gloom, no hope but sadness. I end up whiling my time the whole day, I had taken a sabbatical from work for 3 months in order to explore something fun and maybe travel the world but all I do everyday is push myself..into that zone...for reasons that I don't know how to comprehend.."
Dr Ryan, at this point mellowed the lights down, to make the room more comfortable for a good nap. She flicked a few switches in the room.

"Imagine yourself as being pushed into that zone." she said.
"Imagine that you are walking in there, slowly, but willingly , and with  reason this time..."
"But...but doc.."
Anne started slurring before long, and as she found herself landing deep into a medication-induced slumber, she saw the blurred image of her doctor, who seemed to wear a mask-like object.

"You there?"
" hear me out clear.."
"Ever tried killing someone?"
"what is that mark on your wrist?"
"I don't.. I can't.."
"You cannot lie to me you know.."
"I didn't mean to kill..myself.."
"I just wanted to make that cut with the knife...the blood spilling out...dripping on the floor...looked so shiny..."
"shiny and contoured..?"
"yes gave me some relief...until...until I started feeling dizzy...then I don't...I hardly remember.."
"would you like to repeat it...if you wanted to..?"
"I..I don't know.. yes..maybe I..--"
"what if I told you that we you find someone on whom you can inflict a wound..."
"...that's..that's impossible..why would I want to kill someone.."
"what if you really wanted to kill someone..?"
"I don't want to..."
"Well what do you want then..?"
"...just a cut..a small , triangular cut..."
"..not on your arms I hope..?"
"no no, not on mine but....someone else's..."
"someone...anyone, I can...just make a slit and no one would know..."
"what if I helped you make a slit at a particular part of the body"
"what do you...mean.."
"what if we taught to slit someone...that would result in a huge bloodloss..."
"I would love to watch the color..."
"...of the blood?"
"...of the blood, yes...yes..."
"yes...shiny and contoured..."
"...good. I will help you then, Anne, always will.."
"blood drops, dripping and...spilling..spraying and iron-like..."

Dr Ryan came out of the room, removed her mask from her face and was faced by 5-6 lab-coated people ready to follow her instructions. She started instructing with finesse:

"Test Subject number 37 - inducted into The Programme successfully. Begin the next steps please."


Three months ago , the newspapers had run a news of a suicide attempt by a senior VP of AMX Cosmetics. Anne Madison was found in her apartment, soaked in blood, pale and unconscious.

Somewhere on one of the inside pages, there was another column - regarding the mysterious disappearances of some of the prominent executives of the beauty industry, all of them having a common linkage of attempting to commit suicide.

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