Thursday, November 06, 2008

Anatomy of a B school Class

Though I can endlessly talk about how is life at MICA ( I do promise to dedicate a post to that, now that I have actually pulled myself to writing a post), beyond the hallowed portals of any good school and the rosy picture all aspirants create in their heads, lies a harsh reality which mere mortals like me have to confront on a daily basis. A picture which has all the emotions of a bollywood potboiler power packed in a matter of 90 minutes. Its the apparently exciting portrait of a regular class, which is supposed to be an event where work experience is leveraged in class participation, insights are obtained in moments of truth and collective learning is a way of life. Fortunately, at MICA most of the classes are somewhere near to what I just described. Fortunately( which gives me an opportunity to break my blog coma), some are not. I would thus like to bring to you some startling findings in light of my recent experiences and complex analysis of my study. ( I am getting better at pffaf!)

Lets switch from my gyaan to our lovely bodies. The human body has a few organs like the appendix. These apparently serve no purpose. But they still have the ability to cause immense pain and suffering. A boring class is just like the appendix. The purpose of its existence is yet to be fathomed by innocent and naive students like us. Maybe its a part of some larger order of things , maybe it is a part of the grand design. As of now, it just gives me an opportunity to wonder as to why we are trying to relive Auswitch.

The Boring Class can be broken down into its respective organs, namely

1. The Brain: Considered the most vital organ for meaningful existence, the faculty assumes the position of the brain, who has suffered from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, selective amnesia etc, and yet considers himself indispensable for the ideological upliftment of half confused half dazed bunch of pseudo intellectual morons, who are wondering where did Herbert Spencer go wrong with Survival of the fittest theory?

2. The Heart: The Subject. Which we are subjected to and later subjugated to. Its just a humongous cute kid who just ends up being caught in the wrong body. It tries pumping sense into the brain, knowing very well that its all it can do. But then , the heart has reasons reason knows nothing of.

3. The Rest of the Body: Obviously, the aforesaid morons. I wont go into vivid descriptions about these mutated earthlings. But each of us can assume specific parts, as I shall deliberate later

Brace yourself, the giant monster of this body is up. 9:00 am

The brain decides that it his noble duty to ensure that the body parts function effectively. So it starts off its discourse. Now, as they say, do baatein ho sakti hain.

Baat 1

Its a monologue. The supreme being has decided that today is an extremely important topic and discussions may lead us to a bottomless pit of uninformed opinions and half baked concepts. The faculty exercises , what I call the " Learned mans burden" and goes on to enlighten our tottered souls with pearls of his wisdom. Meanwhile, the heart is about to go into cardiac arrest. The body parts have lost all sense of what is happening around them, and thus they speak ( equivalent to passing notes in class)

I feel like a soldier who is in the line of fire, the first regiment to face the enemy attack, to face the first bullets.

This man is the personification of the word ennui. His voice lulls me into a sense of absurdity and non sensibility and I write statements like these

My chief organ - the brain is reorganising itself if he goes on another 5 minutes talking about organisational restructuring

How would you like to die !

He is going to break the record for the longest pauses between sentences.

The last nail in the coffin! All I wanted was diagrammatic gas

This is a dark, dark world we live in. We have all been caught for thought crime and this is our punishment.

And then, when it becomes too much to bear

The Lord compels me to call upon the pro literate to punish the sinner, the wicked man, the child of Satan, because of whom, the hour of doom is upon us. Arise, awake and stop not until the death of our minds is bereaved

With all this and everything else, the poor student suffers from the Buttered CAT paradox. Most of you will not click on an embedded link, let me provide an explanation.

The Buttered Cat paradox is combination of two adages:

  • Cat always land on their feet.
  • Buttered toast always falls on the buttered side down

The paradox arises when one considers what would happen if one attached a piece of buttered toast (butter side up) to the back of a cat, then dropped the cat from a large height.

As the cat falls towards the ground, it will slow down and start to rotate, eventually reaching a steady state of hovering a short distance from the ground while rotating at high speed as both the buttered side of the toast and the cat’s feet attempt to land on the ground.

The Poor Student Paradox ( by yours truly)

  • You will feel sleepy in a horrendously boring class
  • The faculty will only catch you sleeping amongst all others
The poor student is forever stuck between falling asleep, thus saving him from the agony of seeing his IQ getting sucked up slowly and being awake so that he has the most important commodity in a b school: Attendance. He thus goes into an infinite loop of battling his own thoughts.

Somewhere in between the class ends. Amen

If you still remembered that there is a Baat 2, hope that I post again.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Between the lines

A post long overdue

Ramblings of a colorful hue

The moods ranging from Red, White and Blue

The flavor of a perfect brew

The start of something new

The start of something new

The start of something new

August 2003 – April 2007:

The best years of my Life. Found a wonderful group of friends and a superb bunch of seniors. Whatever I am today, I owe it to these guys. I felt that I couldn’t have better Mentors and Companions in the formative years of my life. I realized the advantages of studying in a NIT.

Somewhere in my 3rd year, I started my preps for CAT. I took up CAT because I realized technical stuff is not my cup of tea. So took the default CAT route. Meanwhile discovered PG .Browsed a lot but hardly posted. During my 3rd year got an opportunity to work with The Times of India. I worked as a freelancer for almost a year. That’s where I developed an inclination towards Media. But as the one year passed, I realized that though I was good at writing, content creation was not what exactly I was looking for. I felt I needed to go beyond the content part and more into the business, planning and execution side of it. But I had a zilch idea of how to go about it. One day, my mentor at IMS talked about going for niche institutes like TISS, IRMA and MICA. I went and checked PG and found threads dedicated to MICA. I was able to see some enthusiastic aspirants talking about trying hard to get in. I developed contacts with Chuck_gopal and he told me a lot about MICA those days, taking the pains of answering my stupid queries, though he himself was an aspirant. Slowly, I started getting inclined towards MICA. As time flew past my fascination only grew.

Nov 2006:

Took CAT, did ok and ended up with a 95.xx. All hopes of getting into a regular MBA were dashed. I still had MICA in my hand. I started my preps for MICA GE/PI and did what a usual aspirant does. By then, I had already been converted into a MICA fanatic. I was pretty confident of making it to MICA as I felt I had done my bit (or so I thought). And how wrong I was! Had a decent MICAT and GE (Group Exercise). But the PI was just okayish and they didn’t really ask me anything. When the results came out, I was shocked. I didn’t make it. Following is my blog entry post result.

I consoled myself saying that I still have a good job at hand. Graduated and joined Accenture at Chennai in June 2007.

The Chennai Phase:

The time I spent in Chennai was superb courtesy puys. I was lucky again to find a wonderful peer group in them. I got back to serious preps in August and took the Sim Cats. This time around I was much clearer in my head. I was taking CAT with the sole intention of getting into MICA. I was doing decently in my mocks. I wrote CAT 2007 and felt I did ok .But when I came back and checked my answers; I was in for a shock. I fared pathetically in Verbal and DI. All my hopes of getting into MICA came crashing down. I went ahead and filled my MICA form. I was damn pissed with myself and wrote the following mail to chuck

I have checked my scores.
And after checking them, I don’t think that MICA would be interested in giving me an interview call.
I have screwed up royally in DI and Verbal keys are ambiguous as usual. So it seems that my dream of getting into MICA will have to wait.
I was reading Shantaram the other day and i came across a line there.
"Luck is what happens when fate gets tired of waiting "

Sincerely hoping that IIM's feel that I deserve a better Verbal score
and MICA feels I deserve to get in.
But all that will have to wait, because things don’t seem to be
happening well this time around.
Still going ahead and filling the MICA form. Will require your inputs on that.

I didn’t prepare a thing after this. But I still had faint hopes in my heart. So religiously worked on my MICA form.

CAT results were out. I was in for another shock. A pleasant one at that. My Verbal % ile rocketed to 97.xx thus pushing my overall %ile to 94.xx. I felt redeemed. I jumped into MICA preps and was consumed by a passion like none other. I did extensive preparations for my GE/PI, even to the extent of devouring a text on Media prescribed by MICA for Term I. I researched heavily on MICA and worked on each word of my MICA form. I just wasn’t ready to take any chances.

13th March 2008.

The Big day

Here goes my PI Experience

The 3 Panelist were
R1-----> Richa Agarwal
R2------> Rita Kothari
H ------> Hemant Trivedi
PWB ---> Yours truly the Prodigious Willing Bakra

Moi Enters and greetings exchanged.

H- Utsav, you are from Anand, so tell me which river flows near Anand.
PWD - Mahi River

H- No, there is another river which flows tell me about it.
PWD - No Idea

H - its ...Took a name which i had never heard in my life
[Checked with people in Anand.. no one has heard of it either ]

R1 takes over

R1- You career Path is Mechanical Engg----> Software------> MICA ? Where are you heading

PWB- Gave a very honest answer. Took Engg because that was the best option available to me after 12th.Told her about taking an IT job because could not make it to MICA last year.

H takes over again

H - You have studied in
Surat (NIT Surat). Were you there when the floods came last year? Why did the floods come?

PWB - Told about administrative apathy. Releasing cusecs of water blah blah. About water being not released after it crossed the danger mark.

H- I think every housewife has an earthen pot at her home. She knows when to close/open the tap of her earthen pot. What were the 'engineers" doing. That’s just basic commonsense. What use is their engineering then? Anyone could have done that job

PWB - Sir, One needs commonsense to open close the Dam gate, but one requires expertise to determine what the Danger level is. That’s where engineering comes in

H - Utsav, Tell me something about the different types of gates in a Dam
PWB- Sir

H repeats the question

PWB- Told him about that being a part of civil engineering, Me a Mechanical Engineer

H grilled me more on all that

R 2 takes over

R 2 - You worked for the response feature in TOI. What was your work all about?
PWB - Had a nice discussion with her on that.

R 2 - Why don’t you like self help books? (Form based dislikes)
PWB - Talked about books being written from a very personal perspective. Most authors US based. Themes not identifiable with Indians yada yada.

R 2 - Your mom is a PhD?
PWB - Yes Maam

R 2 - Which subject and what was her thesis topic?
PWB - Hindi - Ram kavya parampara main prakriti chitran

R 1, R 2, H - Can you please explain that ?
PWB - Explained them the thesis topic.

R 2 - What about your dad, Is he also a Ph D?
PWB - Yes Ma'am

R 2 - So who do you relate to more, your mom or dad?
PWB - Told Mom. Dad passed away when I was 10.

R 1 , R 2, H - Oh
R 2 - What books do you read ?
PWB - Talked about fiction, non fiction , authors etc

R 2 seemed satisfied

R 1 takes over again

R 1 - I think you are a waste of National Resources
PWB - Maam I didn’t get you

R 1 You have wasted an engineering seat in a good college . It could have gone to a deserving student.
PWB - talked about learning, and the development of thought process yada yada

R 1 - You don’t deserve to be a software engineer in an organization like Accenture
PWB - Talked about company must have invested in me only if they saw potential, told that can give any other software engineer a run for his money

R 1 - What do you do in your free time.?
PWB - Talked about thinking and observing things around me. Talked about Why Tiger woods is our Brand Ambassador, Branding of Accenture etc (The only MICA relevant thing I felt )

R 1
- Thank you Utsav, You can leave now

Somewhere in the middle, talked about my work and security of a career. Forgot some part.

Nothing on Media Management, on MICA, Favorite Ads, Hated ads, expectations from MICA

Came out. I lost appetite. Met some other MICAns I knew.

After the horrible interview, I felt like killing myself. I think my reaction to the interview had two different but yet similar (I Know sounds confusing) aspects to it.

The Knee jerk reaction: The moment I came out of the interview, I felt I blew it. The feeling was so overpowering at that very moment, so intensely it manifested itself, that it took me by surprise. I felt that a strange void had developed in me or rather enveloped me, in those 20 minutes. A void which was so devoid of any hope or even a faint streak of faith which was like an empty dried up well in a parched land. The well had always been providing for its people, quenching their thirsts, on which the life of the people depended. The fate and condition of the well was directly linked to those of the people. One fine day, they discover that the well is dry. It’s now just a deep ditch, in which the future of the people totters, dirtying itself in the messy muddy water that has been left for it. The future is not perennially damaged, as the mud can be washed off. But the appearance it dons presently is enough to give one an outlook of a bleak future, a terrifying end and a start of truckload of problems staring at me point blank.

The second reaction: The one of a more logical and rational analysis of the situation. Unfortunately that didn’t happen either, at least not completely. All the preparation I had done, all the hours of hard work put in , all the little sacrifices I made, All the hours of brainstorming that went in, came rushing back to me. The only thought which came to my head: So much for just these shitty 20 minutes. The mistake I made was a very simple one: I expected way too much. I expected the perfect interview. I fell into the trap, of hoping that things will go the way I imagined, the way I planned. I set the bar so high for myself, I set an unrealistic expectation, which in the heart of my hearts, knew will not happen. My escapist tendencies got the better of me and I refused to see things as they were. I was not ready to accept, that yet again, luck had played out its neat little game. Luck is a mistress from the far away lands. You hear great stories of its beauty, its glory, its power to sway fortunes, conquer kingdoms, annihilate people, humble the haughty and you see all this as an innocent bystander. You are secure at the back of the mind, that you are shielded from its fickle actions. You accept that hard work can get you anywhere, irrespective of whether the lady favors you. Then, one fine day, when you are at the precipice of your destiny, she swoops in from nowhere, blindfolds you and spins you around. It then expects you to reach your target, minus the focus, minus the determination, minus the direction and most importantly the faith. You, who were sitting on a gold mine a little while ago, are now more like an average Californian during the Gold Rush, who just came in with equipments, having as much idea about mining as you have of figuring out why you are still reading this rambling of mine.

21st March:

Exactly 1 year after last years reject, got a message from Chuck saying that the results are out. He asked me to check my mail. There I found a mail from the Admissions which said

Form #: 5656


Congratulations! You have been selected for the PGPCM 2008-2010.

My mind went blank. I just stared into the screen like an Idiot. I was now a MICAn.

A few Learning’s:

1.Don‘t take CAT too seriously. It’s just an exam. There is life beyond CAT and the IIM's.

2. Never buckle under pressure. I learnt this from my mom, who single handedly brought up my elder sister and me without anyone’s support. I feel my task was much much easier than hers.

3. Accept failure. Understand why you failed. Move on.

4. You are probably 20/25/30. You have your whole life ahead of you. Don’t kill yourself for failing in life. We all fail. It all boils down to how hard we take on ourselves.

5. Keep focus, especially if you are aiming for a niche institute. You will have your moments of self doubt, the lure of going for a regular MBA, Fat salaries. Be prepared to take the risk of taking up a niche course. Battle your insecurities. All this because you are still ahead of most people. You already know what you want to do.

Someone asked me: Now what? You have achieved what you wanted. So what’s next?

Dreams are not just to be achieved. They are to be lived once they turn into reality. It’s the culmination of all the effort you put in. The thrill of wanting something and then getting it is unparalleled. In these 22 revolutions the earth has made, I have realized, failure is not fatal, and Success is not final. They are not final points in our lives, they are just milestones, indicating that the road is yet to traveled and unraveled. What ultimately counts is what you gain from the chasm of time between these milestones, between success and failure.

P.S Oops!! For the uninitiated : MICA

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

He Amen : Mastur of the Universe

Someone asked me the other day “What does one do to stay motivated?” Unfortunately, the person in question was blissfully unaware of my current state of affairs at work. So there was hardly anything I could tell her. I was killing time at office, reading random stuff from the net. I chanced upon an article which was linked to religious extremism. The author had tried to explain that religion does play an important part in pushing people to extremism. I was thinking about what religion actually is? And as things were brewing up in my head, I saw the status message of Earth Shattering Researcher. The conversation starts with the “Earth Shattering Researcher’s” status message ( I dont recall it right now )

And since yours truly was absolutely jobless, his mind began to wander and he decided to make these lines into a poem with nice rhyming lines. What eventually turned out was something which was crazy,unpalatable and outrageous. Here Goes

me: I am the crappiest live sage

But I shall never age

and so true is the adage

Life is nothing but a maze

Earth Shattering Researcher: You on something?

me: Which shall never cease to amaze

Yaa I am jobless

Earth Shattering Researcher: took the blue pill

you should have taken the red one

me: No pills for us


Earth Shattering Researcher: Those are the new craze

me: Never may die down the craze

me: Ahh similar thoughts

Earth Shattering Researcher: your illusions they'll raze

lift you outta the daze

me: and we are mere characters of the plays

Earth Shattering Researcher: and won’t let u be like cattle that graze

me: whose destiny is decided by the days



Earth Shattering Researcher:

So during work, why laze?

me: NO work full time laze ...

this organization never ceases to amaze

Earth Shattering Researcher: yah


me: Yup sire bows applauds

Earth Shattering Researcher: See - thats Operation Random Brainfuck

me: Shit .. I thought I was bugged!! No wonder I keep seeing weird people following me all around, monitoring my moves, hacking into my IM conversations, I am sure they are being paid by the government to kill my genius and exploit me for their evil designs.

Santa Maria!! The whole fuckin machinery is into this

Earth Shattering Researcher: What you saw was an inkling of our power!

me: CONSPIRACY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Earth Shattering Researcher: Soon we will have the whole world make silly rhymes and shock them by not rhyming!

Then we can organize the shag-contest in peace

me: Oh Lord your disciples seek you

Earth Shattering Researcher:

They tarry too far from the path

Tell them to seek the pink dildo under the blue neon light

me: For there comes Earth Shattering researcher to wreck linguistic havoc

Earth Shattering Researcher: There will they find enlightenment

me: With his satanic gatherings ..he intends to dethrone you

But thou shall not falter my lord

Earth Shattering Researcher: My blessings are always with you...and for a price, my sperm too

me: Thou shall conspire against you

Earth Shattering Researcher: Go! Vanquish the evil anti-libertarians!

with the power of miserable rhymes!

me: For shagging is a religion beyond any, it surpasses and overpowers the differences of caste, creed, religion and race. It connects people on such a emotional and personal level

Earth Shattering Researcher: yeah.. and universal in its outlook!

me: Its the way to salvation ..Encompassing one and all

Earth Shattering Researcher: With a far more important message than any other!

me: The message that doesn’t need any disciples or scriptures to stay alive

we need is built within us

The hormones..Those little angels

Earth Shattering Researcher: A message that wrenches the listeners heart and his penis...and makes them cry out in blessed salvation ... "i have to d"rop my load!!!

blessed is the horny for he shall inherit his father's unused condoms

me: He shall be the harbringer of a great legacy

Earth Shattering Researcher: thus spake the book of playboy

me: and thus the world saw the magic of the HAND

Earth Shattering Researcher:

thus was the yoke of the evil wenches cast off! and the horny slaves became free men!

me: The world went white .. With spluttering all around

Earth Shattering Researcher: yeah...the people who came later called it the great stud's flood

me: And it was forever etched in the memory of the believer and the kaafir alike

Earth Shattering Researcher: yeah!

me: What havoc could thy lord himself bring upon .the masses

Earth Shattering Researcher: We celebrate that day each year as "Shag day"

and a great contest was instituted on that day in memory of the great and terrible events wrought on that day

me: And for a true believer ..Every day is a shag day . For there is no time of the day to worship thy lord

Earth Shattering Researcher: so that future generations may always remember the power of shag but there are sects that claim it must be done 5 times a day

and some who do it once a week on sunday

me: Sects who claim are the strictest and most devout follower of the lord .. 5 times a day is Ideal

Earth Shattering Researcher: yeah

me: But alas!! So dark the Con of man

Earth Shattering Researcher:

so dark the cum of man u mean...

me: Yes thy Believer ..Thank you for getting me back on the path

For our faith for the lord is unwavering.. Our belief rock solid

Earth Shattering Researcher: look no further for thy salvation, its inside thy very own pants!

me: With our dicks head high .. We shall shag away to glory

And the world shall bathe in the shining light of thy Achievements..for we shall be spoken about in folklore

Earth Shattering Researcher: "They were the ones whom the Lord exalted among all other men by teaching the Power of Shag"

me: "They were the ones deemed worthy enough by the Lord to disSEMENeate his teachings"

Earth Shattering Researcher:

oi mamu i gtg now

prof's just come in

cya later

me: This is on my blog now

Sure thing :D

Earth Shattering Researcher: fuck no!

thats blashphemy innit!

at least change the names

me: Hey man i am pretty serious about putting this up

Ahh I shall take my creative liberties

Earth Shattering Researcher: cmon man...u gotta protect ur sources after all

me: Wokay .. One frustu softie engg another bored MS student :P

Earth Shattering Researcher: :D

research assistant

me: ok fine

RA would do

Earth Shattering Researcher: or MS student will be better

me: So much for the Research :P

Earth Shattering Researcher: obscures it better


me: okies sire ..Signing off

The point of the conversation was nothing.But come to think of it,shagging is as much as a religion as any.Like Eastern school of thought, It asks you to look for salvation within, and tells you that you can find all the answers within yourself.It asks you to introspect and battle your own vices.Like the western school of thought, it asks you to let the devil out, and seek solace from a external messiah.All religions have the backdrop of the victory of good over evil, carefully woven into a story when the believer triumphs inspite of all odds.Any religion for that matter is simply a set of beliefs. Whether it’s followed/implemented is a different matter altogether. I know what I am taking is a very simplistic view of religion. But that’s what essentially religion means to most people today. We manipulate it for our convenience, seek it in times of frustration and need, forget it completely in times of glee and use it to as a means to a million ends. People who claim to be religious are either pseudo-religious or are totally unaware what religion stands for. Though I am the follower of “A world philosophy” by default, most people would like to embrace it as it’s convenient. It doesn’t ask you to adhere to a strict routine (If it does, I am blissfully ignorant) , doesn’t spell out the duties of a follower, gives you millions of gods to choose from , allows you an occasional birthday- exam-result-anniversary visit to the temple and you can still claim that you follow a religion. Most of us don’t care though, which is at least right, for we don’t try to perpetuate it. This post probably goes out to those people who believe in the “interpretation” of their religion.You simply use the line of reasoning I used to misuse it. For others, what the heck!! Do I need to make sense all the time.

P.S Title of post suggested by a friend :D

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tagging Tales

"You are tagged" . After endless chats and some Gyaan sessions from fellow Bloggers, I have finally understood what Tagging means. I also understand that I have to tag someone now. The last few weeks have been very strange for me. Almost a result a week and So-near- Yet- so-far-performances, I have realised that Indian B school Entrances are insanely competitive, mind numbingly unpredictable and absurdly unintelligible. Not a loser's rant though, having seen some amazingly wonderful people (Courtesy PG) bite the dust this year, it makes me wonder whether two B school Entrance seasons have made me any wiser. The fact remains that the art and science of convincing every B school, that I am the candidate to pick, has made me a tad wiser. But as Gabriel Garcia says "It is that wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good", hoping that it helps me when I need it the most. Wisdom plays a beautiful game with you , with its sworn enemy being Ambition.Wisdom will behave like a well trained army, cunning in its strategies, thorough in its moves and perfect in execution. On the other hand, Ambition is a slave of guerrilla tactics, always in the hiding, unorganised, amateur and passionate, but more often than not catches wisdom off-guard. The battle is an endless one, with Wisdom ruled by practicality and Ambition driven by dreams. In this battle of epic proportions, no clear winner ever emerges. When elephants fight, its the grass that suffers. All our minds are simply battlegrounds and what we are today we owe it to these mighty elephants. Our Character and personality is shaped by the wounds inflicted in these battles.Wounds that should never heal and are never meant to heal.Wounds, no matter how painful and deep they are, have their right to be. Things will always be clear in hindsight, the future is always hazy because of the vagaries and the randomness of these elephants. What is required is to let them have their way, not because I believe in Destiny but because it works like a feedback mechanism. You are a reflection of your Wisdom and Ambition and vice versa.No one holds an edge, no one is smarter, they simply coexist.On this note, cutting short my wanderings, shall complete my tag from Pragnya now. We all have moved on but the memories of yesteryear's linger like the flavour of a well brewed Cuppa.

Ten Things I miss in Life Now( The prime numbered ones being missed most)

1. SVNIT ( The People, the Campus, The LAN, The Rickety Hostels!! )

2. Gujju's and Gujjuland, No seriously !

Unending Bakar sessions with G 8 and the T group .

Postponing my Next bath

5. Ghar ka Khana :)

The pure joy of being carefree, whiling away time in the Canteen

Reading Books at unearthly hours and end up bunking classes in the morning.

8. Gassing in Vivas in front of God Level Proffs

9. Anandalaya

10. Lack of Good Company at CCD, missing this tagger
- My sincere Coffemate.

Ten Things I want to achieve in a Decade or so
(The prime numbered ones being most aspired for)

1. A trip to Israel

2. Reading the most amazing books ever written and having my own library

3. Getting into MICA, and then going on to study at the best places in the World.

4. To be more respected than to be rich

5. Work with the BBC

6. Become an Active Alumnus

7. Coax mom into publishing her writings

8. Getting Engaged ( Trust me, that's Gonna be Tough :P )

9. Become an Addicted PaGaL

10. Own a chain of Bookstores to revive the Dying Art

P.S 1 is neither prime nor composite.

And Thou shall tag

Dream Catcher

(Waiting for you to start)


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Superstitions!! For the lack of a better topic

Ok I have been tagged and as Pragnya tried to explain me the whole concept ( Hats off to her..Phew patience lady) , all I could understand was the fact that people want me to update my blog. I am still trying to understand what the whole Idea is.Would have been great if I could use some PaGaLGuY emoticons here. People, Kindly enlighten.Anyways, here is a post from the past on superstitions. Promise to post something new soon.

What is common to the great Black Plague of Europe in the 14th Century, Francis Bacon and his Sylva Sylvarum (FYI it is a name of his book), Tetra phobia and Triskaidekaphobia and Sigmund Freud? Voltaire once remarked “It is to religion what astrology is to astronomy, the mad daughter of a wise mother. These daughters have too long dominated the earth.” The phenomenon has withstood the test of time and has been passed on from one generation to the other. It has been intricately woven into the fabric of our lives and most of us seldom think about it. But science and logic have always been locking horns with it and the battle between them has been an endless one.

Many intellectuals have also fallen into the tempting trap of superstitions. During the time of the Black Plague, Pope Gregory I the Great passed a law requiring people to say "God bless you" when somebody sneezed; this was said to prevent the spread of the disease and to cure whoever already had it. Francis Bacon (in his Sylva Sylvarum, X, 998) mentions that "it is constantly received and avouched that the anointing of the weapon that maketh the wound will heal the wound itself" This superstition was still in practice in eastern England in the 20th century: At Norwich, in July 1902 a woman named Matilda Henry accidentally ran a nail into her foot. Without examining the wound, or even removing her stocking, she asked her daughter to grease the nail, thinking that if this were done no harm would come of the injury. Within few days she died of lockjaw. The integer 13 for no faults of its’, bears the brunt of many superstitions. The fear of the number thirteen (13) is so pervasive that it even has its own term: triskaidekaphobia. The belief that thirteen brings bad luck has been an extremely pervasive belief throughout many societies, and is strong enough that many major hotels and high rises traditionally either build only twelve floors, or, if they want to go higher, skip labeling the 13th floor entirely! Many people refuse to stay on the 13th floor, or in room 13. People stay home from work, for fear of something bad happening. Most airports don't have a thirteenth gate. And in Topeka, Kansas, where the zip code starts with 666, they skip from 66612 to 66614. The tradition of touching wood traces back to an ancient pagan belief. Spirits resided in trees, particularly Oaks, and that by knocking on or touching the wood, you were paying a small tribute to them by remembering or acknowledging them, and could call on them for protection against ill-fortune. Breaking a mirror or walking under a ladder would bring seven years of bad luck, left palm itching indicates monetary gain, the list is endless. Every culture has its own set of superstitions and beliefs, and superstitions are a reflection of our insecurities and inadequacies.

But if we delve deeper and look into the reasons as to why the human race is so much in love with superstitions, the results seem to be a tad surprising. Let me give you a sneak peek into this amazing world of superstitions. Superstitions could stem from various reasons and factors which include Gender, age, thinking styles and point of views, and most importantly parental and peer pressure. Mostly, our development from an innocent infant to a mature adult is largely influenced by people and the environment that surrounds us. “Conventional wisdom”, albeit questionable, is the single biggest reason as to why people are superstitious. We are bought up to accept some things at face value, especially if coming from an adult or a family member. They have been immortalized in folklore and. Another possible reason for our belief is a desire to control our lives and to cover up shortcomings. If you believe that you got rejected in an interview because a black cat crossed your path, you essentially have an escapist attitude and consoling yourself. Most superstitious people would argue that they have actually seen their superstitions come true. But that to me seems a classic case of ‘seeing only what you want to see’. The cat may have crossed your path a million times, and then nothing untoward happened. But the one time something went wrong, rejecting all past experiences, one would confirm their superstition based on this single and probably random event.

But if we see carefully, there seems to be a subtle undercurrent or connecting factor to all of the above explanations. Essentially, looming fear is the cause of superstitions. Consider the scenario, when people used to think that thunder and lightning indicate that god is unhappy. It is the fear of the unexplained, incomprehensible and the unseen that is the cause of superstitions. Once people understood that lightning is due to the attraction of highly charged particles in the atmosphere, the belief died a slow but certain death. When we fail to conduct scientific enquiry, we tend to believe any wild goose theory that is thrown at us. It is our pessimistic and dim outlook towards things in life that makes us cling to such beliefs, as they provide us with answers, no matter how improbable, and soothe our nerves. To calm our fears of failure, rejection and essentially the unexplained, the mind sees these explanations as plausible.

As long as one has silly ones like crossing the fingers for good luck, superstitions make life interesting. But I wonder if Matilda Henry would beg to differ. But will superstitions find a place in this fast developing and scientific world, the one where intense questioning of anything and everything is the norm? The question I believed is best answered by Robert Means Lawrence in his book The Magic of the Horse-Shoe “The world moves and civilization progresses, but the old superstitions remain the same. The rusty horse-shoe found on the road is still prized as a lucky token, and will doubtless continue to be so prized; for human nature does not change, and Superstition is a part of human nature.”