The smile of nature

The bright sunny days following the rainy season are the days in tropics where nature is at its best. It’s as if the nature has been impatiently waiting to express itself through everything – colours, sound and fragrance.

There I was, watching butterflies in our garden dancing in the bright sun. There were hundreds of them – bright and big, colourful, small and timid, black and white – briskly hovering over the lantana flowers. Shooting them with a mobile phone camera was tricky; still I gave it a shot. I had to get very close to get a good photo, but the cautious butterflies would never let me get close enough.

Butterflies

There was this cute black and white one that I tried to shoot. It flew off just in time, letting me just capture it in the frame. But definitely that wasn’t a great picture.

IMG653

The disappointment gave way to my astonishment as I was going through all the pictures later at Bangalore. There was something unusual and inexplicable concealed in the picture. It was a gentle smiling face inside a Lantana flower. The face was very clear and it seemed as if it was smiling at me having missed the butterfly.

Face_in_flower

No wonder most elements in nature where worshipped by humans through centuries. I am sure many would have had a glimpse of nature smiling at them when they were close enough.

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A lesson on creativity

Every day morning, I drive my daughter to the bus stop where she boards her school bus. This short drive and the subsequent wait at the bus stop is something I love because mostly what gets done or discussed does not make any sense (as far as adults are concerned).It is alwys amusing how simple these little children’s life is, yet so fulfilling.
This morning, I noticed in the car that she was holding a tube of glue in her hand. I suggested that she put it inside her bag; for she might spill it on her dress. “No dad, I will hold it”, she refused.
A while later, as we stood waiting for the bus, I make another attempt to persuade her to put the tube inside her bag. She refused again and then I decided not to push it further. Probably she wanted to show it off to her friends, I thought (which, I realized immediately may not true, because it was after all a tube of glue).

Girl holding a glue stick in her hand

Girl holding a glue stick in her hand


The bus was late today and as we stood waiting for the bus, I noticed that my daughter was holding the glue tube in her right hand like a mike and was silently singing. She was so involved in the act that I am sure she was singing somewhere on a grand stage to a very large audience.
Perhaps she wanted to play with it, I thought.

A while later when I looked at her, she had stopped singing and was holding the tube horizontal right in front of her right eye, like a binocular and looking around through it.

Something went shattering in me. What was a simple tube of glue that did not matter, had to be kept inside the bag because it might spill, as far as I was concerned was NOT a tube of glue at all for her. It was a mike that took her to some imaginary stage somewhere, it was a binocular (probably she was imagining her to be in army or so). And I am sure by the time she reached her school today; the glue tube would have assumed many other forms.

Here was I, the intelligent and rational, who is familiar with several techniques for creativity and Innovation and who is proud that he has understood the fundamental mechanism behind creative thinking. And here was this little girl, with all innocence, had the least idea about any of these concepts was simply creative.

The difference was striking. For her the world was not what it was, it was what she wanted it to be.
And this small difference explains why all the techiques for creative thinking simply does not work.

Rains and a tragic story

I love rains in Bangalore. If you can get to a height of about 40 meters, you can watch the grandeur of the nature without any obstructions. This is not possible in most of the south Indians towns as hills and hillocks crisscross the peninsula.

It rained and rained on Friday and this is what I saw, standing in the 13th floor balcony of my office building

Rain_in_Bangalore
Rains are unwelcome in Bangalore. It takes a good shower to throw the city in to absolute chaos. But in any case nature chooses to make a mockery of the great human plans once a while.

If you thought it was only humans who disliked rains, here is a tragic story that would reveal some truth.

While we were away few weeks back, a pigeon family quietly settled down in the balcony of my apartment. By the time I had found them out, behind some containers placed on the balcony, the lady had already laid two eggs and was incubating them. I decided not to trouble them. Every time I stepped on to the balcony I used to curiously peep in to their home to find her sitting on her eggs and trembling with fear. I used to talk something to her, just to convey to her that I meant no harm (I guess she got the message soon and was looking more comfortable). The male used to only make intermittent visits (which sort of forced me to assume that he was having another affair somewhere else)

As I stepped in to balcony the morning after the rains, she was sitting on the railings and was weeping. There was no mistaking for the agony in her voice and in a flash I understood what happened. As I peeped in to their home, I discovered that both the eggs were drenched in the down pour.

The pigeon flew away and sat on the next building for a long time. It was alone, wet and very sad.

The two eggs were lying there, abandoned, like two crystallised tear drops.

Pigeon eggs

Shiv Linga and Black Hole

Manesa, my friend today sent me some photographs from her visit to ‘Koti lingeswara temple‘, about 100 KM south of Bangalore. The literal meaning of the name”Koti lingeswara’ is the ‘lord of 1 crore shiva lingas’ and the temple boasts of the largest Sivalinga (108 feet) in Asia.
Shiva Linga
Shiva lingas are worshipped as representations of Lord Shiva and considered very sacred by the Hindus. The literal meaning of ‘linga’ is ‘phallus’, which has lead to some scholars attributing a sexual meaning to it and even referring to the Hindu civilization as ‘phallus worshippers’.
Like most Indians, I too had no idea what a Shiva lingam actually meant. In yoga, Siva (the masculine energy)is the epitome of consciouness and when the feminine energy (called the Kundalini) which resides at the base of the Spine rises and merges with Shiva, one transcends Time and Space. This is what is termed as Samadhi in yoga, a state of nothingness that every yogi tries to achieve.

Few months back, I was reading the masterpiece ‘A brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking. The chapter 6 gives a brief account of blackholes and even horizons. In simple terms, when a blackhole is formed, it does not even let light go out until a point where the light begins to bend. And here is the representation from the book.
Black_Hole
A blackhole represents the ‘void’ or ‘nothingness’ in Space. As I read this, I could not help wondering; if the human mind where to reach a state of ‘void’ (the state of Samadhi when one is merged with the higher consciousness or in simple words there exists nothing in the mind), how would the mind look like.

And the answer would be that it would look like a Shiva Linga.

There must be other explanations behind the shape of Shiva Linga. But I am inclined to believe that the ancient sages of India had experienced the state of ‘void’ and used the linga to represent it, and as there is no difference between what is inside and outside, the same representation holds good for blackholes too.

Spiritual Marketing

There is no dearth of festivals and auspicious days in India. 13th of May was one such. It was the auspicious “Akshaya tritiya”, the third day of the bright half of Vaishakh month (April-May) important for both Jains and Hindus. The belief for ages has been that any activity initiated on this day is bound to meet with success and it has been a custom to perform pujas, make charity or worship Lord Ganesha or Lakshmi on this day.

Until some years back when an idea struck some marketing genius. The news quickly spread that it was very auspicious to buy gold on this day. Indians love gold and any reason to buy gold is always welcome. But this connection was even irresistable; two birds with one stone. Indians caught on to this idea and now Akshaya Tritiya is almost synonymous with buying gold (in tonnes literally)

This is a collage of ads that appeared in Times of India on the May 12th, reminding you that buying gold was the most important thing to do the next day.
Akshaya Tritiya

For those unfortunate people who can’t afford to purchase gold on this special day, the paper also offers some pieces of wisdom that they can try with their wives (the only issue being that this is on page 5, that is generally r read only by those who have nothing much to do than reading newspapers)
The scholar does not consider gold and jade to be precious treasures, but loyalty and good faith – Confucius
The most pitiful among men is who turns his dream in to gold and silver – Khalil Gibran
The desire for gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit – Ralph Emerson

While the genius who came up with this brilliant idea (hats off to him) remains unknown, there is definitely a magic formula that he invented. If you want to sell anything in India, you can apply this magic formula and that is sure to work. Here are the basic rules
1)Create some mystic feel around whatever you are offering. It should have a benefit in the spiritual dimension that is incomprehensible and unquantifiable. And most importantly you shouldn’t spell out what the benefit is. Indians prefer to have their own interpretations
To add to the mystic effect, you need to spice up the matter with lot of things that sound totally illogical (More in the example below)
2)Indians love special days and occasions. (If you are doing something every single day, what is so special about it?).Make your product look special by attaching it to a special occasion ( For the activity to look special, the minimum frequency is weekly)
3)And you should never say when the benefit will come. Again Indians like to fill up that part on their own. It is also acceptable that the benefit will come after death or in the next life. More mystic it is, more the fun

For example, if you want to make Indians drink your cola, this is what you need to do.

First you make up a story like this:

Every Wednesday (Tuesday and Wednesday are generally the only the days of the week to which an average Indian has no rituals attached to) you should drink this brand of Cola 3 glasses on empty stomach along with a neem leaf and Tulsi leaf (that give more effect) and walk to the nearest temple of ……..god (choose from the widest collection of 33,000 crores) barefoot. You should be carrying a lemon, red flowers, camphor and a coconut in a basket. Offer them at the temple. (More rules make it more attractive, so spice it up with many of them. But none of them should make any logical sense). Do not eat rice on the entire day (rice in the south India, wheat in the north). Drink about 10 cans before noon and then again start drinking after sunset. Remember do not drink between lunch and Sunset. It is very auspicious to do this every Wednesday. (You can add a quote from some scripture saying that the Gods drink some nectar. Then you say that that nectar is your Cola. That makes it even more easier to sell)
You can add some hints about the benefit if you choose to. Anyways if people drink so much of cola, they may not live long enough to verify them.
If you package it like this, Indians will gulp down any stupid drink, eat any junk food, or use your soap or shampoo. All you need to do is keep repeating this till people believe it.

There is only one important point to note here. There should be nothing logical at all about the whole thing. Being overwhelmed is the key; logic spoils it

Do we choose the good or the bad?

The results of the assembly elections in the state of Karnataka (the state in India where I live) was announced today. The ruling party was voted out of power and a party that was not in power for more than a decade emerged victorious with an absolute majority. This is very typical in India. Any party that comes to power gets embroiled in corruption, scams, scandals and in-party power struggles and by the time of next elections people are fed up and look for a change. While it seems as if people chose a party to win, the truth is the reverse. People choose that a party should not win.

Last week, I met a friend of mine. Both of us had gotten out of our cars and were walking towards the lift. He told me that he was planning to change his car and asked me how my car was. I told him that it was good and it was the power (128 BHP is pretty high for Indian standards) that I really liked. He had not made up his mind as to which car to buy. So we had a short discussion around the topic while we were in the elevator.

‘Why don’t you look at Renault Duster’, I said. Renault has recently launched this SUV that was doing pretty well in the market.
‘Duster does not have the third row seats’, he told me.’So it is not really worth the money’
‘Ertiga (from Suzuki) is selling well’, I observed.
‘I am not happy with Ertiga’ he said ‘the third row is cramped and the interior is very plasticky’
‘You can have a look at Honda Amaze’, I said. Amaze is the first diesel car from Honda recently launched in India.
‘The engine is quite noisy’. he told me.
It was time for me to step out of the elevator and we had to end the conversation. I told him that there would be many more new models in the market by the time he decides to buy and wished him good luck in finding a good one.

As I was walking to my apartment, I was thinking about this conversation. I was really amazed by the fact that his choice was not really based on what is good, but rather what is bad.

It makes perfect sense logically. In a given set of choices, it we go on eliminating the ones based on bad qualities, we would ideally end up with the best. But then the problem is most of the good and bad are in fact pure perceptions that we carry in our head.

This process of elimination works in every aspect of our lives in India, from choosing a government to choosing a life partner.

While it might seem that we all tend to choose the best things in life, it could be far from truth. Our minds are actually choosing the bad ones to avoid.

Or is it that we do not know what we really want?