Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lost at night

This happened during my stay in Bangalore. After my classes got over at 8.30 I went strolling in 4th block and ate in a fast food joint. I went very far to explore newer streets and lanes. Glancing my watch I realized it was 9 P.M and that I had to hurry back soon. But it hit me hard when I could not find my way back. I forgot the way I took to come here and was unaware of where to go next. I didn't even know which locality I was in. The surroundings seemed very strange and eerie. It was pitch-dark at that night with not a street lamp there to dispel the dense darkness. It was a no-moon day and the sky stared back at me with all hostility. There was not a soul ahead on the road till my eyes could gaze. I could not ask anyone the directions. It was very spooky. I was hesitating with every step I took, with the fear that I was estranged further by more paces away from my cozy room. I didn't know whether I was retreating away from my destination or going towards it. For a split second I was devastated that I would have to spend the dark night alone outside frantically searching and searching till I give up. I found few people at a distance, but they seemed not to be good. My intuition warned me to slip away from there secretly before they caught a glimpse of me. I was treading faster now in another direction. I was relieved to be on the main road. But still the road was deserted. I wondered what happened to all the nightlife in Bangalore and who the hell said that Bangalore never sleeps at night! They are all asleep in their warm beds and I am here outside shivering with fright and cold.

Finally a RTC bus came and some people got down . I scanned for females looking friendly and approachable. I felt everybody had loathing looks. They all looked tired and no one seemed to help out a silly girl asking directions. I was still was scarred of the whole incident. I vowed to god that if I would reach my room safely I would never venture out to unknown places. I was still trembling as I approached one respectable looking lady and…

Me: Swimming pool? (My room is in 3rd block. Swimming pool is the landmark closer to my room.)
Her: That way. Come with me. I am going there too.
I followed her. She seemed nice at first impression. And she was very helpful. But I had a nagging doubt deep down in my heart. My intuition did tell me she was worth trusting.
Her:(pointing to a banana she was eating): Want some?
Me: No thanks.
After a moment silence I said hesitatingly… I am lost actually.
Her: Oh, There’s nothing to be lost. You see Madhavan Park over there? That’s the landmark. Adjoining that there’s the swimming pool.
Me: (nodding but silent)
Awkward silence for a bit too long…
Her:(breaking the silence…glancing at her watch): 9’0 clock. Its late at night.
Me: I know that’s why I am terrified. I thought I will shop around in 4th block and I kept walking and walking till I realized I could not find the way back.
Her: That’s alright anyway. Don’t take this lane at night though. It’s not safe.
That scarred the remaining guts outta me!
Me:(just to keep the conversation going on): What do you do?
Her: I work in Tata consultancy. I am late today. I had to do some work till now.

She was pointing out directions and explaining it to me.
Her: Where are you from?
Me: I am from Andhra. I am here in Bangalore for vacation.
Her: Good god! So you don’t even know Kannada?
Me: Not that much…
We were still walking to reach the pool. She seemed very friendly and nice.
Her: That’s terrible. Don’t you have your roommate’s cell numbers?
Me: I do. But I thought I would find out the directions myself.
Her: You could have hired an auto. He charges Rs.14 for places inside jayanagar.
Me: Ohk…Umm…where are you from?
Her: We are basically from Rajasthan. But we settled here 30 years ago.
Me: ahan..
Her: Are you searching for a job?
Me: No. I am a student. I am here for GRE classes.
Her: (pointing to the banana she was munching) I am very hungry! We are almost there. That’s the pool. Don’t take this street. It later bifurcates into two and you will be confused. Take the next street and walk along the straight sloping road. There you will find Ganesha temple. Do you know the way from there?
Me: Yes. Where do you stay?
Her: Here only. Little further.
In happiness and relief I was trying to cross the road without heeding an approaching auto.
Her: Careful! Just wait. Yes now you can go. Bye!

I knew the way from there. I was thankful to reach the familiar locality of 3rd block. It seemed very funny at that moment that I didn't venture far out from 3rd block. I was wandering very near only. All I had to do was to take the straight road. And I was worried that I was lost! They say that you can never get lost in Bangalore. It is really true!

I hurriedly bid her good-bye and walked as fast as my legs could carry me back to my room. It was 9.45 P.M by the time I reached. I didn't ask her name and don’t know where she lives. She seemed to be a young lady of around 28.

I just want to say…hey whoever you are…Thanks a lot!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Issue Topics- GRE

The issue topics I wrote about in my GRE class. I was appreciated by my teacher for my essays and got the highest score in the class. I was so elated then and went to treat myself with paneer fried rice. I have a flair for creative writing. Maybe I will become a column writer for a reputed newspaper like 'The Hindu' or 'The Indian Express' some day. I wish there is a 'Aparna's column' just like 'Paul Krugman's column'. In my school days too, I could see the satisfied smiles from my English teacher whenever my essays would be up the desk for correction.

1) ''If a goal is worthy, then any means taken to achieve it is justifiable'
In this fast paced world, people have seemed to have broken their ties with ethics and morals. Froth has formed on ethical temperament and reasoning which is preventing them to perceive and acknowledge the conspicuous variation between fair and unfair means. People hardly take time to evaluate their deeds and give a second thought to the question “Is this unfair path I’ve chosen to achieve my goal really worthy?”
World renowned personality Mahatma Gandhi truly quoted ‘They say the means are after all just means. I would say means are after all everything. As the means, so the end.’
Pure goals can never justify impure or violent action.The end justifies the means. So, I would have to say that I believe that the goal is less important than the means because doing the morally correct thing is what makes the end worthwhile. Ghandhi’s noble means of non-violence in envisioning the goal of independent India alone broke us free from the shackles of British clutches as against to the violent means adopted by many other freedom fighters.
According to me there can exist no unworthy goal. Goal is the purpose we live for, and we strive for it by all means possible – fair or unfair. To assert that even unfair means adopted to achieve a goal can be justified is a mistaken idea and has a flawed reasoning.
A person who adopts unjust means to achieve a goal will have to regret at some point of his life. His pricking guilt conscience doesn’t allow him to relish his success. He will soon realise that this unjust means of achieving a goal is ignoble. As opposed to this if a person strives hard on the right and honest path, though he won’t achieve his goal, he realises that his efforts were worth it and he will have an innate satisfaction about his pains regardless of his gains.
For instance, in an exam if a student secures even a university rank by malpractice it will be of meagre value. On the contrary if he attempts the questions fair and square, he can analyse his performance and the areas he requires thorough preparation. This realisation is much more valuable than his securing a university rank.
All goals seem worthy enough to oneself. There’s no question of an unworthy goal. A thief steals with a good aim of feeding his wife and children and convinces himself that he is doing nothing erroneous. In the name of Almighty terrorists from Pakistan commit brutal crimes and kill innocent laymen. For them ‘Jihad’ is a holy war and a noble end and means in itself. They christen themselves to be ‘warriors of the god’. I often wonder how merciless killings can and mayhem be justifiable in the name of ‘Jihad’? A terrorist would adopt immoral means which lacks code of ethics. He is blindfolded and fails to distinguish the crystal-clear contrast between just and unjust. He will be under the aegis of the worthiness of the motives and commit many atrocities in the excessive fanatism of seeking his goal. Though it may seem noble enough to him, he will not be granted amnesty. Our legal system and constitution doesn’t justify unfair means and sees to that a wrong-doer is convicted however pure his goals may be.

Maharastrian fanatics of ‘ shiv sena’, feel that people foreign to Maharastra from north and south India had migrated to Mumbai. They are angry that Maharastrian customs and Marathi language are at stake due to cosmopolitanism. They feel that Marathi locals face competition at schools, colleges and offices for admission and jobs and are breached of their prerogatives. It is an invasion into their culture and encroachment into their land. They presume that others are inflicting north and south Indian customs into their’s. As a result Maharastra is losing its true identity and its culture has become amorphous. They show their outburst of anger and resentment and resort to evil means in the defence of their goal of securing and reviving Maharastrian identity. They claim themselves to be ‘sons of soil’ and forge ahead to any extent in driving away foreigners from their land. Their means can’t be justified.
The LTT group of Sri Lanka want a separate province for tamilians in Sri Lanka. They employ violent killings ad heinous crimes to achieve their goal. Instead they should proceed legally, fight elections and then form a government in Sri Lanka.
Maoists and naxalites in A.P, Orissa etc. commit gruesome crimes to achieve proper wealth distribution and reduce the discrepancies between have’s and have- not’s. They cogent themselves saying that their goal is pious and pure. No doubt about it. But the path they have chosen must be pure enough too. Following this, thefts of Robin hood who stole from the rich to distribute the wealth among the poor should be frowned upon.
American government presided by Bush suspected that Iraq was harbouring many lethal weapons. In order to seize them and disarm Saddam Hussein, America waged a war against Iraq which claimed many lives, blood and wealth. Many families were left bereft. This created many Osama Bin Ladens who out of retaliation and vengeance blasted the twin towers and the pentagon. Diamond cuts diamond. Violence seeks violence. Peace invites peace. They say ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’. True, if there’s a burning desire to achieve a goal, there will be million, but not one means of achieving it. But the means should be fair and just. Instead of violence America should have had negotiated and brought pressure on Iraq’s economy by creating economic restrictions and cutting down export supplies with which eventually Iraq would have been compelled to surrender.

In some instances people adopt cruel and cunning means. The classic example of this can be dated back to Greek history when Greece after years of trying to conquer Troy finally gave up and gifted a horse to Troy. Actually the Trojan horse was a dubious plot to trick the Trojans. Troy was burnt to the ground. I agree that ‘everything is fair in love and war’ but this earned the Greece a derogatory reputation till date. This gave birth of the abashing adage’ Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’. Many historians criticise their conduct even today.

Foe research and clinical trials many animals like guinea pigs and rabbits are sacrificed for experiments and for a noble cause of breakthrough invention in medicine and science. This is very inhumane and government has imposed a ban on animal tested products.

Some day or the other cruel means adopted will pay and will lead to one’s own downfall. A student doing malpractice in exam has good chances of getting caught and get debarred. Sprtstars like Jesse Owens who win race by energy boosters will be debarred from sports and earn a bad reputation not only to themselves but to the zeal of sportsmanship itself.
People only recognize and appreciate honesty and sincerity. Sania Mirza may not be World No.1 but she is still bolstered and cheered worldwide. Even if she loses the game people will encourage her but if she won a championship with the aid of steroids, the same people will despise her.
For each one of them their goal seemed worthy enough to themselves, but the unjust path chose by them got them bad reputation and they certainly will have qualms about their deeds tomorrow if not today.
If unfair means is justifiable then the world would be full of terrorists and anti-social elements spreading antipathy and animosity in the sole misconception and fallacy that to achieve their goal the wrong path trodden by them can be excused.. Hence ‘honesty is the best policy’. Only honest means to achieve a goal is justifiable.

2) ' An academic discipline alters the way we percieve the world. After studying the discipline we see the same world as before but with different eyes.'
Knowledge is an abstract matter which we acquire in the ongoing process of our life, meant to fabricate our thoughts, conduct, ideas, perception and senses in a matured and polished way. The sources from which one can imbibe knowledge can be academics, history, environment, from people, culture, sports field, nature etc. We later extract these fragments of knowledge by divulging into the layered depths of our minds and conflate it in a way the situation demands, when we confront with various circumstances in life. Academics are meant to lend morality to our demeanor and thoughts, provide etiquette and healthy habits, prepare us with the technical and vocational skills required to pursue our career and to win daily bread, and to equip ourselves with all the tools required to confront with situations in life.
According to me it is fully justified, to assert that academics transform the way we perceive the world. We see the world like never before in a different angle. Academics fine tunes our personality. It is affirmatory that academics provide rose-colored spectacles to our sight and by devouring these spectacles, we see the intricate details of facts, and clear and cogent explanations given by science for the questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’. We no longer see the hazy world and blurred doubts of an inacademic. Instances which we couldn’t understand or interpret earlier attain a newer meaning and conceptualization. Academics molds our mind and we start to ponder over real life situations from a different view point. Images converge and diverge to our eyes for our mind to assimilate and interpret in a matured way. We can offer explanations for the most inexplicable and perplexing mysteries of the world for which without the academic chiseling of the mind we would wonder of the plausible reasons.

Often, as a child, I would get scared of the very thought of what would happen if I traveled to the end of the world. Would I just tip off the cliff and get sunken in the murky inferno below? After I attended my academic classes it was reassuring to know that our earth is not flat and I would return to the same place from where I started. I also remember wondering how suddenly a blooming flower would metamorphoses into a plump fruit. I later came to know that it happens so due to pollination of bees.

Without academics rising and setting of sun, the day-night cycle, changing of seasons, the rainbow, and the rain will be considered to be divine manifestations of the Almighty. An academic on the other hand understands that the rising and setting of sun, and day-night cycle are due to rotation of the earth, change of seasons is due to revolution of earth, rainbow is yet another case involving physics principles of refraction of light rain through the rain drops and rain is due to evaporation-condensation-precipitation of water from water bodies. An academic knows that gleaming pearls are nothing but mere sand particles entrapped in an oyster and shining diamonds are nothing other than an allotropic form of unimpressive coal.
People without academic fabrication of their minds would be innocent, ignorant and superstitious. For an inacademic with no knowledge of geography floods are angry deluge of gods. Earthquakes, whirlpools and storms are the manifestations of evil spirits playing havoc on mankind. Where as, a learned has a different insight towards these mishaps. He has learnt that earthquakes are just seismic and tectonic plate disturbances, floods occur when rivers are overfed with rains and, storms and whirlpools arise due to wind current disturbances. He even has knowledge on how to prevent these predicaments and equips himself to safety.
Chicken-pox and leprosy patients were once preconceived that their souls were ingested by evil forces and they were battered upon mercilessly to drive away these spirits. This precognition resulted in more misery to the already miserable patient. With science and technology included in our academic curriculum, we now have adequate knowledge to prevent and cure many diseases.
An academic understands his responsibility towards his society, contributes to the progress of mankind, is mentally and physically healthy, differentiates between just and unjust, understands his purpose of life and has knowledge on his prerogatives and duties. On the contrary a person who is not shaped with the academic bent of mind wanders off in this world without understanding his duties. He doesn’t ‘live’ but merely ‘survives’. It would be crucial to bring this difference into limelight. Men are created to ‘live’ actively and be responsible by utilizing each second of his life fruitfully, where as animals are genetically predisposed to equip themselves with basic instinctive knowledge which is inherited from parents to their off springs just to ‘survive’ life and pass their lives on earth.
An inacademic may not understand the function of T.V and stares blandly at the images screened, wondering how come he is able to watch a cricket match happening in Leeds from his own home. On the contrary a person with academic knowledge knows that the images are transmitted by satellites to cable stations which later reach the T.V tubes. He knows the mechanic and electronic circuits operating in it. He can even repair any faults in T.V. With academic learning innovations, inventions and discoveries become possible. The heights of the skies and depths of the ocean can be conquered and are no longer distant dreams.
Without academics there would be no explanation as to why a chameleon changes its colors, why a firefly emits light, why a flower is so richly colorful, why tides soar high on a full-moon day, why moon changes its phases, how babies are born, how was life created on earth………An inacademic may think that man had suddenly dropped onto the earth from nowhere and believes in legends of Adam and Eve. But a person with knowledge on anthropology appreciates Darwin’s theory of evolution and that we are just advanced creations of apes!
In conclusion, if a person is inculcated with academic discipline, he is lent with rose-colored spectacles to see the world in a crystal-clear way and hence he strides ahead with confidence. While a person who is not learned will see the world in a murky way and he toddles with uncertainty.
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