Thursday, 27 October 2016

Analogy

Sad Girl Dark

“A very good evening to you! This is Mark, how can I help you?”

This was the fifth time Ella had dialed the customer care number. This time she couldn’t hang up. The voice was deep, soothing, almost irresistible. She felt like it could comfort her, if not heal her.

“Mark?” his name slipped from her lips, unknowingly.

“Yes ma’am, is there anything you want to speak about? I’ll be glad to help you.”

There was a lump in her throat. Ella wanted to speak, but the words simply lingered inside, refusing to come out. The more she struggled to unleash them, the more unwavering they became.

And then, seconds of silence followed.

“Ma’am? Is everything alright? Do you want to complain about a product you purchased from us?"

Ella could only manage to squeeze out a feeble ‘no.’

“Ma’am?”

More silence.

She wondered if he would just cut off the call now. No, call center executives cannot do that. They aren’t allowed to do that; she assured herself. But why isn’t he saying anything? She seemed to be hearing her own heartbeat racing.

“Mark?” after a seemingly never-ending minute or two, Ella finally spoke.

“Yes Ma’am, I’m listening.”

“Have you ever been lonely?”

She could hear the exhalation from the other end, loud and clear. Was she pissing him off?

“Is there anything that’s bothering you, ma’am? I can sense that. I could be of help if you share.”

Smart guy! He’s choosing his words carefully. He knows the calls are being recorded.

Ella knew she had asked a silly question. Why on earth would a stranger divulge his personal life at his workplace out of the blue? That too when he knows he is being tracked?

Still, somehow, this realization seemed unacceptable. It deepened the cracks in her aching heart even more. So, here was the bitter truth – she couldn’t say it to anyone. Not even to a stranger. A hot drop of tear slid down her cheek.'

“Ma’am?”

She fought back to keep her tears from falling, but couldn’t.

“Um?,” her voice shook, the tone ill-defined.

“Are you crying?”

She couldn’t hold any longer. Her sobs turned louder and her tears hotter.

“Mark? Can you stay on the call? Just for a while? Please?”

“Sure thing, ma’am.”

“Thanks.”

He didn’t seem pissed off anymore. Mark was relaxed, kind of considerate this time.

And Ella cried her heart out. No, she didn’t want to share her story. She just wanted someone to be there…to hear her weep at midnight, to let know that she’s in despair.

When the sobs finally died down, Mark spoke, “Are you feeling better, ma’am?”

“Um,” Ella replied.

“Would you like to get some sleep?”

“No, I’m fine.”

Another minute of silence followed. Call center guys are supposed to strike great conversations, aren’t they? What was keeping Mark so hushed?

“You know, I’ve been a nasty person. I’ve made terrible decisions, upset everyone associated with me. I’ve been the bad guy everywhere, hurting people who love me. I’ve loved and lost and had revenge. A lot many times,” Ella spoke in a single breath.

“Don’t blame yourself ma’am. We are all humans after all.”

“Do you think I’m a bad person?”

A stranger’s opinion shouldn’t have mattered. But, somehow, for Ella, it did, from this guy.

“Not at all, ma’am. I'm sure you are a beautiful person from inside. Not everyone has the courage to own up their mistakes. You’re crying in the middle of the night, and that shows you still care.”

Flattery, eh? Wasn’t he bothered about the calls being recorded now? But it was his voice…it felt like some sort of ecstasy pill – extremely pacifying.

“You have a nice voice, Mark. Has anyone told you this?”

“Yes, ma’am. My wife did.”

“Lucky girl. Do you love her?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Does she love you?”

“I think so.”

“You think so? Why aren’t you sure?” So, Mr Mark did have his insecurities!

“We don’t live together anymore.”

“Why?”

“She left me.”

“Is she as nasty as me?” Ella asked.

“You’re not nasty, ma’am. And she isn’t either. It’s just that…she passed away last week.”

Ella felt like she was hit by a thousand volts of electricity. She hung up. It was like a reflex action. Without speaking another word, without a goodbye. She was terrified. Her heart was thumping more than ever, her hands shaking.

What if she never got a chance to apologize?

She picked up her phone and typed a status on her Facebook profile...

Life’s too short for battles and revenge, for tears and sobs. Every damage can be repaired until death. Beyond it, we don’t know what lies.”

She was sure he would see this. But, would he ever come back?

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Why Do Astrological Predictions Fail Sometimes?

This is an argument most nonbelievers put forward against the science of astrology. They opine that because the practices are not testable, it is futile to expect valid explanations for them. Their belief is even strengthened when astrological predictions fail. However, there are reasons behind these failures, just like there’s a ground for every failed experiment in science. Let’s discuss.

Why do astrological predictions fail at times?

Whether it is Mathematical, Physical, Chemical, or Biological Science, the knowledge is always guided by empirical facts; it is based on statistics. In astrology, too, everything is based on defined calculations. You have to calculate the planetary positions to form the natal chart. The measurements need to be precise. The difference of even a quarter of a second can create significant changes.

A certain planet moving in a certain house by, say, 15 degrees is not equivalent to the same planet moving in the same house by 16 degrees. This also explains the uniqueness each individual possesses. Predictions can be ruled by a million factors. Missing out on a significant single can lead to a so-called ‘failure.’ Here are a few cases explained:

Taking All The Systems Of Planetary Periods (Dashas) Into Consideration


The science of astrology is ancient. It has been a part of our Vedas, which is why it is called ‘Vedanga.’ Its primary motive is to help man understand the karmic influences in his life, and how he shares a connection with the celestial world.



If we go back in time, we will find Maharishis like Jamini and Parashara working extensively on this very field. They had laid down a number of systems to determine various planetary periods. These periods are called dasas or dashas and include systems like Mandook, Chara, Yogini, Vimshottari and more.



Each dasha has its own characteristics. Each comes with some benefits and some shortcomings. If an individual’s entire life is considered, each will determine some points, but not all. While one system could near the real state, the other could be far, far away.


Systems Of Planetary Periods (Dashas)

While making a prediction, an astrologer takes into consideration all the systems so that he doesn’t miss out on any aspect. However, it is like gathering different fruits in the same basket. Although individually tasty, some fruits may not be right for a fruit salad.

It is better not to average the intensity of each system. For instance, if Mandook dasha is showing an accuracy level of 20% and Chara of 40%, calculating the average accuracy as 20% might rule out the good of Chara and invite the bad of Mandook.

However, if the accuracy levels are negative and positive each, taking the average might help. Nevertheless, the systems should not be mixed. Instead, a single system should be considered for a single prediction so that the most accurate results are achieved. And this is just for Vedic astrology. The other forms of astrology have similar glitches as well.

Merging Hora Jyotish With Medini Jyotish



      Hora Jyotish is also known as Native Astrology and Medini Jyotish as Mundane Astrology. Both are way different from each other. ‘Hora’ translated means hour. Thus, Hora Jyotish is about how each hour of the day influences an individual according to any of the nine planets.

The hours begin at sunrise and carry the energy of the concerned planet. Also, this form of astrology needs to be in accordance with the rules laid by the ancient maharishis. On the other hand, Medini Jyotish is more intricate and happens on a larger scale. It covers the natural elements – fire, air, water, and earth and even the changing positions of the nine planets.

Hora Jyotish (Native Astrology) and Medini Jyotish (Mundane Astrology)

Astrological predictions based on the Mundane form also have to consider celestial affairs like solar eclipse (Surya Grahan), lunar eclipse (Chandra Grahan), and how such situations might lead to earthquakes, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, and even wars and battles.

It is, thus, not limited to studying an individual, but the universe as a whole. Sadly, some astrologers tend to mix the two concepts. It is never okay to link the effect of an eclipse with that of an individual’s zodiac sign. Think about it like this – if a tsunami occurs, it might kill anyone in its path. The natural disaster will not spare a person because of his zodiac.

By the same token, if the individual survives, it will be by dint of his dasha or hora. This is why it is not right to merge Native astrology with Mundane and come to conclusions. The predictions can not only be wrong, but catastrophic.

Depending On A Flawed Natal Chart

The time of birth of an individual is crucial in determining his natal chart. If based on a wrong time, it will always lead to wrong interpretations, no matter what. This is also the reason why most astrologers do away with the sixteen-divisional chart called Shodasvarga. 

It demands the accurate time of birth without which it becomes difficult to study. However, ignoring Shodasvarga, in turn, leads to more wrong predictions. Yet again, this chart needs a lot of time to be analysed. In today’s world, when everyone needs everything within the single click of a computer button, the Shodasvarga chart becomes troublesome and hence, accuracy is thrown out of the window.

To avoid failed predictions, it is needed that you provide your astrologer with the exact time of birth. Imagine it as visiting a doctor for a certain ailment. He will definitely look into your medical history to ascertain the probable cause of the disease.


Natal Chart


You shouldn’t hide anything from this man or provide the wrong information. Most astrological predictions that fail are not based on such divisional charts. In addition, because the chart the astrologer is referring to is flawed, it cannot suffice his quest for factual data.

Understand that to err is human. No profession can ever be hundred percent glitch-free. For instance, while some medicines prescribed by a certain doctor would fail, others might work wonders. This does not imply that the failed medicines are flawed or that the doctor is not worthy.

In addition, it does not rule out the effectiveness of medical science. Similar is the case with astrology. Mistakes happen, but they do not wipe out the very existence of the astrological aspects. So, do not let a wrong diagnosis shake your faith in the science. Accept it, understand it, and just delve in its profundity. 

Trying To Find The Unfindable

There are certain things, which cannot be predicted no matter what. If God doesn’t want you to find some facts, you cannot find them come what may. Take up the pages from the Mahabharata. When Arjuna was confused and heart-searched if he should really take up the fight against his own brothers, the Kauravas, he was counselled by Lord Krishna.


Trying to find the unfindable


The Lord displayed his Vishwaroopa Darshan and showed him the Kauravas entering his mouth, indicating their defeat. Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s beloved son, was also a part of the activity. However, the Lord chose not to show this bit and kept it concealed.

Arjuna had no idea this was going to happen and hence, was saved for the dissuasion at that time. Thus, it is futile to try and intervene a divine stratagem. Every prediction needs the approval of God. An astrologer, who has the audacity to defy his wish, always ends up making flawed predictions. 

What More's There To The Story?

All these causes apart, astrology that has not changed with time, would undoubtedly be faulty. There should be thorough research and proper analysis. For instance, your fate also depends on the country and time zone you are living in. You cannot cling onto astrology that talks about defunct and illegal practices like child marriage.

Even our occupations have changed over the years and the predictions should correlate with them as well. Astrology for the society needs to be more meaningful first before failed predictions are criticised. Of course, it largely depends on the know-how of the astrologer you have consulted.
Astrology requires thorough research and proper analysis


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

How to Look Like Jungle Book's Mowgli Under $200

Being Mowgli is not so simple. The very look could be expensive, at least by Indian standards. You'd need a Pageboy haircut first. So, choose a good salon. You never know when this trend hits the fashion world. Do keep up with the latest hair trends.

Next, you'd need a  loincloth. I'm not very sure if people would be of this opinion. It's okay for kids and definitely not okay for grown-ups. Interestingly, loincloths are available on major online shopping sites like eBay! Get your pick if you dare.

Of course, tan sessions wouldn't hurt. Grab a good online deal on a session in your nearby store. Don't attempt a DIY as it will leave you looking like a leopard. Complete the look with a simple wooden boomerang from Amazon.

Bingo! Your Mowgli look is ready! Let's sing together, "Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai...." Ah, what fun!

How much would it cost to be Jungle Book's Mowgli

By the way, did you watch the trailer and the new song? Check the two videos below:




I'm getting nostalgic. Are you?

Monday, 22 February 2016

Have You Watched This Indian Version of Super Mario by AIB Yet?

Remember Nintendo's Super Mario trying to save the princess from the Bowser while she kept shifting to 'another castle?' Well, Mario just got Indianised! Here's Mukesh Ki Kahani (that's what I'm calling this video) in the pixel words of All India Bakchod.

This one's full of 'Sanskaar' (?) is dahi-powered, and absolutely Rajni-fied. He is generous and offers money to beggars near Antila (wondering if his surname is Ambani). What's more, our Mukesh surpasses Super Contra and Pac-Man as well! There's a special DDLJ moment and yeah, spot Katappa killing Baahubali if you can! You're going to love this Indian Mario.


Video credit: AIB

Did you get all the silent jokes?
No?
Watch again.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Strange Scientific Reasons Behind Everyday Indian Customs and Habits

India is a land of strange rituals. More strange are the reasons behind these unusual customs. Some of them are odd and hard to believe; sometimes, you have to take it with a grain of salt. However, there are some that come with proper, valid, SCIENTIFIC rationality. Like –

Greeting with a Namaskara.

This is a popular way of greeting people, especially in India. The gesture requires you to join your palms together and make a little bow in respect.  Wondering where the science is? Well, when your palms are joined, the fingertips touch each other.

Science behind namaste or namaskar - the Indian way of greeting
Namaskara; Source: Wiki
In these tips lie the pressure points associated with the sensory organs and the brain. As you press them, you activate the points. The signals are sent to the brain, which suggests that you should remember the person you are seeing for a long time. Also, if you think of it from the hygiene point of view, isn’t it a better way of greeting people than a handshake?

Serving food on banana leaves.

This is an ancient custom still followed in many parts of India. Some people hold the notion that it saves the world from pollution. Banana leaves being biodegradable can be easily disposed. However, there’s another fact which is not known to many.

Science behind food on a banana leaf
Food on a banana leaf; Source: Travel + Leisure
These leaves are a rich source of vitamins. Whenever hot food is served on them, the vitamins get added in it. A healthy custom, I’d say. And yes, the ‘biodegradable’ thing holds true as well.

Eating with your hand.

It’s not unhygienic. In fact, it energises your body, mind and soul. That particular posture, when you are holding food in your hand and about to insert it into your mouth, is a yogic ‘mudra.’ The extended fingers represent the five elements of nature – fire, water, earth, air, and space.
Science behind eating with hands
Eating with hands; Source: ifood.tv
Each finger is responsible for contributing to the food in one way or the other. Science as proved it that food consumed with hands stimulates a person’s sense of taste, smell, and texture better. The digestive enzymes are secreted properly and the consumption of food becomes a delightful experience.

Piercing ears.

Did you think of it only as a fashion statement? There’s more. Pierced ears contribute to a better intellect.  They strengthen a person’s reasoning and decision-making abilities. Further, they also save the ears from diseases and disorders.
Science behind piercing ears
Pierced ears; Source: Style & Fashion
You’d be surprised to know that pierced ears can minimise talkativeness. Yes, they help in disciplining speech. Interestingly, women in India have always been expected to pierce their ears. Don’t you smell a misogynist mind behind this?

Applying henna.

Think apart from the colour henna imparts on your hand. Isn’t it a herbal medicine as well? Well, this is proven. Now, here’s the scientific reason. Henna is cold; it works on the blood and lowers the body temperature.

Science behind applying mehendi or henna
Bridal mehendi (henna); Source: Fashionkidunia.com
Yet again, Henna also acts on the nervous system and calms down the nerves. It’s a great stress buster and is this is why it is recommended during weddings and rituals. Style goes hand in hand with health, you can say.

Wearing a silver toe ring on the second toe.

It’s beyond fashion. The second toe ring has a certain nerve which leads straight to the heart through the uterus. Science says that a silver toe ring in this finger helps in enhancing the health of the uterus. It also assists in the regulation of blood flow and helps cure irregular menstrual cycles.
Toe rings; Source: WomanDot
Silver is a great conductor and can absorb the earth’s polar energy, thereby passing it on to the human body. No wonder these rings are still recommended for married women.

Hanging chillies and lemon in the entrance of residences.

This is so damn common. We see it almost everywhere. People hand chillies and lemons believing that it can keep the evil and misfortune away from a home.

Science behind chillies and lemon tied on a thread on entrances.
Man holding chillies and lemon tied on a thread; Source: The National, UAE
Here’s the real story – the cotton thread which supports the hanging chillies and lemon, absorb the juices of the edibles. The combination is like a natural pesticide that keeps away disease causing agents. In short, ‘misfortunes’ and ‘evil’ is kept at bay.

Ringing the bell at the entrance of a temple.

This is a practice as per the Agama Sastra, which says that the bell helps in warding off the evil and keeping the grounds of the temple pious. However, science has a different explanation. It says the loud ring keeps people away from distractions.

Science behind ringing temple bells
Temple bells; Source: Alekhya Homes
It’s like a reminder to stay attentive; it helps us concentrate on the being devoted more than thinking about world outside. In short, it’s a concentration booster.

Having desserts after a meal.

People with the sweet tooth are going to love this fact. Indian meals are mostly spicy. Did you know that spices kindle the digestive enzymes in the body? And that they activate acidic substances?

Science behind having sweets after meals
A plateful of Indian sweets; Source: NineFineStuffs
Both the processes are needed so that the digestion of food occurs to the utmost. Now comes the dessert part. Sweets contain sugars (carbohydrates) that put a brake to the ongoing process of digestion. Simple, isn't it?

Consuming sesame seeds and jaggery during Makar Sankranti.

The celebrations of Makar Sankranti happen when winter is at its peak. A combination of sesame seeds (til) and jaggery (gur) when consumed help the body to keep warm. They contain carbohydrates in the form of sugar, which have heat generating properties.

Science behind consuming sesame seeds and jaggery during Makar Sankranti
Til-gur laddoo during Makar Sankranti; Source: Rediff
Did you know this sweet delicacy is also a cure for bed wetting? Indeed, when health comes in sweet packages, it is always welcome.

Chanting ‘OM.’

It’s more like Aaa-Ooo-Mmm. We all have heard it a zillion times in our lives perhaps. Ever wondered about the logic? Well, OM, the mantra is full of physics! It’s a practical example of syllables that direct to sound, resonance and vibration. The sound of ‘Aaa’ activates the nervous system in the chest and stomach via resonance.

Science behind chanting OM
The importance of chanting Om; Source: MindBodyGreen
‘Ooo’ on the other hand sensitises the chest and throat. Lastly, the sound of  ‘Mmm’ resonates in the nose as well as the brain. So, here’s a single word that’s looking after the health of your chest, stomach, throat, nose, and brain. The sound waves help in enhancing your concentration, calming the mind, and lowering mental stress. Wonderful, isn’t it?

Our ancestors had a scientific outlook which we can never possibly fathom. They were way wiser, logical and rational than we are. Let’s not question every ritual that we come across. Let’s try and understand the hidden reason first.

Do you know of any such everyday custom? Can you provide a scientific explanation for it? Kindly share.


Friday, 5 February 2016

The Summer of 1816, A Casual Writing Contest and the Birth of Three Literary Masterpieces

Miracles often happen when they are least expected. Ideas pop up out of the blue and even the creators fail to assess the brilliance of the thing they have conjured up. Such was tale behind the creation of three literary works of wonder.

We’ll come to the works later. Let’s hear a little story first.

It was the year 1816 – the ‘Year There Was No Summer.’ The climate around the Northern Hemisphere was at its worse. There were extreme weather conditions everywhere and heavy rainfall doomed lives across Europe.

Year Without a Summer
Source: Celebrate Boston
The dampness and gloom had cast a dark spell that was difficult to overcome. Mount Tambora had erupted somewhere in Indonesia and the Earth was gripped in a dreadful volcanic winter in summer.

Living amidst all the chaos were two great personas – poet George Gordon Byron and writer John William Polidori, trying to orient themselves to the adverse weather changes in Villa Diodati  near Lake Geneva.

And they were not the only sufferers. Equally disheartened by the strange summer were three other people – poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, his spouse Mary Shelley, and her stepsister Claire Clairmont, who came by to give them company and enliven their own dying spirits.

Mary and Percy Shelley, Byron, Polidori
Source: Pinterest
Rain and darkness make the perfect ambiance for ghost stories, don’t they? Thus, a plan was made amongst the rendezvousing for the sake of amusement. As the rain lashed on the window pane, the five of them took turns in narrating spooky tales to each other. Included amongst the stories was Fantasmagoriana – a French anthology of German ghost stories.

Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva
Source: Wikiwand
As the action unfolded, the excitement grew more and more intense. But, can writers ever conquer their boredom merely by reading out stories? Nay. So, it was decided that they would write their own ghost stories! What happened next is history.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was created. Polidori came up with The Vampyre (in fact, this is believed to be the onset of the literary genre; Twihards can thank him). And, who doesn’t know Lord Byron’s poem – Darkness?

Of course, Frankenstein didn’t happen in an instant. Mary Shelley had a tough time creating the plot. At times, she even went blank, unable to put her thoughts into writing.

Lord Byron was no better. He began with a story and ended up writing the poem, Darkness. The story, which narrated a dying man pledging to pay his friend a visit after death, was left midway. Polidori was the cleverest amongst them. He picked up Byron’s story and created The Vampyre out of it.

Ah, the mind-boggling ways literary masterpieces are born!