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In one sentence.


The Dreaming Biologist:

Isn’t it amazing, we all may have an idea of what we want to be but don’t have enough strength to frame it in one simple sentence and say it aloud to the world.

Originally posted on Be the Purple Cow:

Best selling author Dan Pink talks about an interesting trait of great leadership.

Apparently, a young woman in congress in early 1960s asked President John F Kennedy, what he wanted to do for America in ONE SENTENCE.

Just one sentence.

She said, “Lincoln had one sentence, to save the union of states and free the slaves, Franklin Roosevelt had only one sentence, to save America from Great Depression and to win the world war.”

She went on to say, “Mr President, you don’t have a sentence, you have a model paragraph. You are trying to do a hundred different incoherent things.Thereby, you are doing nothing.”

Kennedy was awestruck. He went back to his desk and within some months came back with his greatest goal as a President.

It sounded a little ambitious then but never mind, he pushed the whole human race forward.

He simple said in 1961, “Before…

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My Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes


imageI am just done watching third episode of much talked about, modernized, filmed version of Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Season2 ends with Sherlock dead. I knew this would happen and so would many, who have read the story before. I don’t know why I feel sad seeing him die this time when I already knew he would and the intensity of sadness is as strong as I felt it 13 years back. I have that strong attachment with the character like many had with Harry Potter. One possible reason for this attachment is how I got the book as a kid.

It was for the first time that there was a stall selling books in a local festival fair in my town. This fair had everything to amuse ladies, children and youngsters. Ladies thronged bangle and cosmetics shops, they would bargain household stuff and would only feel satisfied till the seller fell on their feet asking to spare some profit so that he could feed his family, children would be awestruck by the variety of toys and rides, youngsters just had nice time hanging out with friends. But, I was 12 and in that age toys seemed childish, I had no interest in feminine or household items and I always had this handicap of not having enough social skills to make friends. So, the fair was just a disappointment till I found that small tarpaulin tent with smell of paper emanating from it. It was for the first time I had been to a place where they had hundreds of books not prescribed by school curriculum. Why would someone have such a shop in a small, remote village where I lived? I had read some story books before, borrowed from my school library but I really wanted to own some of the books in this shop and not borrow. It was then when I realized that I was very possessive about my books. If I could, I would have bought about 20 books but I didn’t have money to buy even one, especially the one that I really wanted to – “Unabridged works of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I would get 10 rupees every day during the fair to have ice cream or some roadside snack and that book was priced 120 rupees. I would visit that stall everyday only to see if that book was still there. I am not sure if I was happy to find it sitting on the shelf unsold. I was perhaps satisfied to see that it was still there and I may buy it someday but the thought of it being still there and my inability to buy it pained me; had it been sold I could have consoled myself. Fair was to last 7 days and all I could afford was to save 70 rupees by the time it ended.

I went to the fair on that last day too, walked into the stall and saw that books were being packed into cartons to be shipped. Shelves had been dismantled. It has been long since then but I still remember the owner of stall. He was middle aged, perhaps late 50’s. Short hair, more grey than black on sides and neatly parted on left. His face slightly broad with loose skin over his cheeks and nose bud marks from reading glasses were easily visible on his nose with swollen nostrils. His eyes had started to develop arcus senilis and had charm that made him look affable. He was sitting on his wooden chair under the October sun. I met him and asked if he wanted to sell that book for cheap. He smiled, looked into my eyes and said that he had notice me come every day in his shop staring at that book but he thought I would never ask. But I did. He said he could sell it for 90 rupees if I wanted to buy. I told him I just had 70 to which he tapped my shoulder and said that people haven’t bought much from him in the fair and he could not afford a loss selling that book below 90 rupees. My shoulders stooped and so did my head for a moment but then rose with a strong breath. I looked back into his eyes asked him to find that book for me from his packages. I ran to see papa sitting in his shop, reading electronic circuits; we had an electronic instrument repair shop. My parents would have easily given me more money had I asked for a book prescribed by my school but they thought that reading stories would distract me from my studies and it was hard to persuade them. I gave him various reasons. I told him how great the author was, knighted by the Queen of England but all that was of no importance to him. For him my focus on my studies was more important than anything else and he made sure that I get the best education possible in that small place where we lived. I was disheartened and pulled out all the money I had saved from my pocket and began folding the notes neatly. My dad saw me. He never said it but I think he realized that a kid had been avoiding temptations to spend money over ice-creams and toys for a story book. He opened his drawer, pulled out a 100 rupee note and happily gave it to me to buy the book. Ha ha ha! I bought the book and rushed straight to eat gol-gappe, a roadside snack that I had been avoiding all these days. Then was an ice-cream cone. I was happy.

The book now sits on a shelf in my room and is my dearest possession. Since then I have bought many books and read them all but I have always tried to avoid temptations to read my Sherlock Holmes. I remember when this book was not mine it attracted me to explore what was in it. And now, when I have it, I want it to have that same attraction and a sense of suspense associated with it so I have deliberately stopped reading it. May be some day……

Creative Routines


The Dreaming Biologist:

I read it 15 years back that never say you don’t have time, Einstein had same 24hrs as you have. Whenever I am overwhelmed with work I tell myself these words and it always works.

Originally posted on Info We Trust:

“We all have the same 24 hours that Beyoncé has” and its various iterations took the web by storm in late 2013 as the megastar became the figurehead of not only having it all, but being able to somehow do it all too.

How do creatives – composers, painters, writers, scientists, philosophers – find the time to produce their opus? Mason Currey investigated the rigid Daily Rituals that hundreds of creatives practiced in order to carve out time, every day, to work their craft. Some kept to the same disciplined regimen for decades while others locked in patterns only while working on specific works.

Creative Routines Poster

There are enough data to visualize a portion of the hundreds of creative lifestyles. Click the poster to discover:
Gustave Flaubert
Ludwig Van Beethoven
W.A. Mozart
Thomas Mann
Sigmund Freud
Immanuel Kant
Maya Angelou
John Milton
Honore de Balzac
Victor Hugo
Charles Dickens
W.H. Auden
Charles Darwin

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Why is reading a research journal better than reading a novel.


Okay, before we begin this I would like to clarify that if you are not a researcher, Fuck off!

Sorry, I am kidding. You are welcome to continue reading. All I wanted to say was that if you are not into research, you probably may not buy my arguments and give negative comments and people into research are already sick of getting counter arguments, negative comments from supervisors, journal editors and reviewers.

Last novel that I read was “Midnight’s Children” by Sulman Rushdie and the one before that was “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. Both books were great. I especially liked Steinbeck’s and could not get over the feel of the book for next three days. But, both these books and many other great works like them are usually bulky. I started them, could not get real hang of things. Discontinued. Restarted and then could not keep them down till the last period. I love reading literary works but I would still prefer to read an research journal. Why? Here are my arguments:

I don’t have time (read I am lazy). I would usually take at least a week to read the whole book and to finally understand who fucked who. But, you take a research journal, begin with counting number of pages it has, then find out number of pages the references make, subtract count of pages with references from total number of pages and finally feel happy that you just read 2/3rd of the paper without actually reading a single word. Yay! what a progress. On the flip side, I would actually have to read the whole novel to be able to say that I actually read it.

There are no spoilers in scientific literature. In fact we love spoilers. Technically, a spoiler in scientific jargon is called an abstract of the paper. Sometimes the title itself narrates the whole story and we love it that way. On the other side, if someone tells you what a novel has in it you would swear to kill him right then. Also, titles of novels are just enticers and I have fallen for them many times only to realise that I was duped. The Grapes of Wrath is mentioned just once in the whole book and it forms the title of the book but it still doesn’t tell you that at the end….(Ha ha ha, I won’t tell you that. Don’t be lazy. Read it yourself).

Great literary works are usually not illustrated but you would rarely find a research journal article without a figure, chart, diagram or a table at least. In fact, highly rated journals prefer researchers provide them with fancy images. Fancier the images or more money it requires to get that image better are your chances being read. I sometimes don’t understand why does a research article need to have sentences when tables, illustrations and flowcharts say everything. After all, we are bu(la)sy.

Ever started a book and then wondered who the hell Joe was? A novel has so many characters that  I sometimes lose their track and have to go back to find out who they were. I would have read the first Harry Potter almost three times if you count number of times I had to go back and re-read the pages to understand if it was Dumbledore who had beard. But, if you are reading a research article chances are that you already know the characters in it. Why on earth would you read a paper on JNK or Heisenberg if you did not know who or what they were? And even if you did not know them it would be mentioned clearly somewhere in short ‘introduction’ or ‘materials and methods’ and you do not actually have to flip tens of pages to find out that fish.  Also, a research paper has very few characters so you would not loose track of them. For example, a paper on effects of metal contamination on fish would have two or three metals, a fish and three or four parameters. Scientists are usually too busy to meddle with more characters (you know what I mean).

You would usually read a book to enjoy it. But, you read a research paper to rip it apart. You are actually checking out what somebody else came up with, find a gap in knowledge and then you ride over his work to create your own with his last name within parenthesis in some line of some paragraph that most of your readers won’t even care to read unless they are really after that author. (Scientific papers usually would not have sentences as long as the one before this).

A research paper is the real explanation why a character in a novel or any other instrument would behave they way they behaved. A psychiatrist would tell you why John Grisham’s lawyer in The Street Lawyer gets into civil litigation and that would be discussed somewhere in some science journal. Umm, I take it that a scientist may not be able to justify the game of quidditch but science made it possible to film it in the movie. So, science wins.

If I need to read a book I might have to shell out at least $10 but to read a research paper all I need is to log on to my University account and download a copy. I don’t pay to read a research paper (I might be indirectly but it doesn’t hurt much).

Finally, if you shift your office or residence, you can easily burn all the printouts of research journals and feel the warmth of science or they might be occupying a tiny space left over by movies and episodes of The Big Bang Theory in your computer hard drive. But, I love to read real printed novels and they have an attached sentimental value. I cannot even see a small blemish or mark on my novels/books. So, read research papers instead and move on.

(N.B. Oh boy! what if you review literature novels? You have nothing to enjoy then. God help you.)

First Kiss video. Why I thought it was cute.


With so much bad happening around us we need something to escape. Something that takes us away from all those negative thoughts and destructive images. A hope that somewhere somebody is happy, if not you. This video on Youtube must have brought smiles to millions of faces as it did to mine.

Here are the reasons why I liked the video

    1. The idea is about love and we all want love to be around us.
    2. They were all strangers. I have been travelling places for last 8 years and have always been taught to not to believe strangers. But, while I have been cheated a few times most of the times people have surprised me with going extra mile to help. In this video almost all kissing pairs felt awkward in the beginning but see the power of love; we all felt that it was nicest thing that happened. I couldn’t find a single kiss in the video that lacked compassion and love. This makes me believe, as I always have, humans inherently want to love and be good.
    3. Video is black and white. I really felt that keeping the video B&W prevented our attention from being diverted from the emotion of love and kiss. Had the video been in colour I might have looking at clothing, colour of the wall, or red lips of the girls being kissed but the colour scheme worked really well.
    4. Idea is simple. Two strangers meet, take their time to accept each other’s presence and kiss. Simple ideas have always had greater impacts on me. Title of the video said ‘First kiss’ and that is what this video was about. Nothing extra nothing less. Plain, simple and straight to heart.
    5. A hope that at least one pair would get married. I shared this video with a friend on Facebook and the first thing she said was that some of them may actually fall in love. I believed that too and so do many people who watched this video and commented. A belief that somebody is happy and has found love is satisfying. We see people suffering around us but knowing somebody found love and peace is so reconciling and satisfying. I really wish some of them found real love in their life.
    6. It was just about people and not about a girl and a boy. There is a gay couple, two girls kissing each other, a young man kissing an older lady. Just about compassion.
    7. They kept it raw. Awkwardness before kissing a complete stranger, participants blushing or the participants trying to hide embarrassment by creating humour kept the video raw and real. As a viewer I felt as if I am right there at the shoot feeling the emotions.
    8. The background song. “We might be dead tomorrow” by Soko sets the perfect mood for the video.

 

In short: I felt the video was just about something we all seek in life – love.

Why men don’t have to fight to ‘win’ a partner?


survival-of-the-fittest-bob-christopherImagine if men had to fight to ‘win’ a partner. Except humans, males of all other species on this earth have to fight to woo a female. While we can literally see animals battling out each other, plants fight in their own subtle and quite manner. If one closely observes the battle to reproduce then plants are much more brutal; producing toxins to kill other life forms in surrounding, sucking up the nutrients from soil so that no other plant can even germinate and use of animals as agents to pollinate (it is almost like animals are sex slaves). Plants, though silent, use almost every possible thing as vehicle to reproduce. But, strategies to reproduce is not what I mean to discuss here, you may find that in any standard biology text book. What I intend to discuss is a weird question in my mind; “What if men had to fight for a female?”. Another way to look at this question is through a statement that any species as intelligent as humans would never have to fight for a female. Huh! don’t think that just because you are married or have a girlfriend makes you intelligent. Intelligence, here is an attribute of the whole species. So, thank Albert Einstein who elevated the intelligence grade of humans. Back to topic. Nature knew the risks involved in humans fighting to ‘win’ a female and hence made things simpler for us (wish it was simpler, it really takes a lot for guys like me to ask a girl out). So, why don’t we fight to ask a girl to hangout with us? Is there a relation between intelligence and fighting to reproduce? While fight was a way nature devised to pass on the best gene pool which in turn ensures that organisms are always prepared to face challenges thrown on them but had the same strategy, fight to prove might, been used by humans there would have been no life on this planet.

Some ancient men made sharp tools to kill, Colt invented pistol, Kalashnikov gave us the most used rifle, some men in a secret US lab used Einstein’s wisdom to develop atom bomb and some prick found out that hydrogen bomb is best. Men know how to kill. So if every man (some barbarians do fight) had to fight to win a female then imagine the extent of bloodshed. Michelangelo, Picasso, Hemingway, Dickens, ancient Indian and Greek philosophers would have invested their time nuking each other than giving us artistic and philosophical master pieces. There would be a man who in desire of having all females would have killed every other Y chromosome producing organism (did you think Hitler?). Mass destruction and as a result obliteration of all life forms. Nature’s strategy to produce the best to survive would have resulted in it’s biggest disappointment. So, trust nature, your best match would be delivered to you when the right time comes. Use your intelligence for more productive works (swear if you didn’t think of reproduction and if you did then nature triumphs again!).

Image: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/survival-of-the-fittest-bob-christopher.html

I could not find an image as fitting  and as lovely as this. The photographer retains the copyright.

My New Year Resolution–Forgive yourself


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Every year, on January 1 I make a list of resolutions that I don’t even remember after a couple of months. Perhaps I have been making same resolutions every year. So, this time I decided not to have any resolution and planned a movie night with a friend instead. The movie was “New Year’s Eve”. There is a moment in the movie where a giant ball at New York’s Time Square gets stuck during it’s ascent before it has to fall at midnight. While the ball is stuck midway there is a short speech by manager of the event relating pause in ball’s ascent to the moment where we should stop too and reflect upon the events that occured in the year gone by. Taking that to my personal level I didnt have to stop to think what happend to me in 2013 but I needed a solution to prevent 2013 ruining my 2014. And from this thought arose my new year’s resolution.

The year 2013 had been the most testing of years till now. I failed at the crucial moments and took some decisions steering my life in an entirely wrong direction. I am not known by people, who know me, to fail and to take bad decisions. But, I failed and ended up in a very miserable situation that would have repercussions, good or bad, all through my life. I have been left behind professionally by all my friends just because of my arrogance and the confidence of being infallible. I had almost stopped thinking myself as a human being; I would work by the clock. I had fixed times to eat, kept and met strict deadlines for everything, I had succeeded in all the examinations that I appeared for in last seven years. My resume was crisp but facebook timeline sucked. But in 2013 every thing started to fall apart like a house of cards. Nothing seemed to be in my control. And I did what I had been doing all these years – I pushed myself harder. The harder I tried the painful was the failure. Over the years I have learned to forgive everyone except myself and that was my recipe of success. I did not forgive myself for my failures and consequently began to hate myself.

But I have learnt from my mistakes. I have learnt that I am just another human who can fail any moment. I have learnt that even science believes in the concept of probability and has confidence intervals for all the scientific decisions. And so should I believe. I have learnt that there is always a probability that I can break down any moment, the way I did in one of the most crucial exams last year and no one could be punished for it; not even I. I have realised that my family and friends have forgiven me for my mistakes always but it was always I who kept punishing myself.

So, the time to make a tough resolution this year – forgive myself. I am going to take my life lighter and forgive myself for what all happened last year. Yes, forgiveness has a magic; I can feel it now. I can feel my heart beating and the air in my lungs getting lighter. My sight gets blurred – but yes, I forgive myself to be weak and cry sometimes.

The Fakir


There was a fakir who would come to our village, beg for food, collect money to go for pilgrimage. He would come every year after his pilgrimage and give us sugar that he would bring from various pilgrims he would visit. Our village loved him and I loved him because he had seen a bigger part of Earth than I had. One day, as a child and out of innocence, I asked him a question and his answer has saddened me forever. My question was, “Baba,what is a human being?” He smiled, ruffled my hair and began to answer. He said -

“Son, God’s most precious creation is human. He who rules the Earth today is human. He, who can fly in air, walk on earth and swim over water is human. He, who can domesticate anything but is trapped by his own five sensory organs (indriayan) is a human. You are a human my son. Look at you, so innocent. But when you will grow, your five senses will begin to trap you. You will be attracted to the things around you. You would want to have things that will attract you and you will never know when your sense organs have started to dictate your actions. I am a Human and I chose to relinquish. I gave away my home, had no family and have no choice over what to eat. I have chosen to discover the Creator who created me and have found it in everything that I sense.”

“So, you have no affection?”, I asked again. To which he smiled and began to speak.

“I am a human too and therefore have affections. I long for Hari (God) and love humanity. But this love has given birth to pain. I am pained to see how humans have began to own even their creator and the nature. This, one beautiful planet has been fenced and divided. A human stands to kill another who crosses this fence. They ask for papers to allow you to cross. I want to see how beautiful this world is and hence I chose to go for pilgrimage. While I am away, the way I am now, I meet people – some are bad but one good person makes me forget the badness that has grown into the hearts of many. I am sure there are good people all over this Earth and I want to meet them all but I can’t; I don’t have papers. If you have papers you belong to one small part of this Earth and I refuse to be that. I am a fakir and was born on this earth without a paper of belonging and would die as a son of mother nature. Nations have been divided; there is hatred amongst people and I muse on the reasons of such hatred. People hate each other because of their colour, place of birth, cause of birth, they hate you when you call that Almighty with a name that they don’t identify Him with (actually they don’t identify Him at all and God is just another reason to draw lines on this Earth) – humans hate each other for the reasons they had no control over when they were born. I know you are a child and may not understand the meaning of what I am saying but Imagine a world where you could visit any part of this earth without being hated. Just imagine a world where everything is in plenty and we all live in peace and happily shared this planet with each other.” I could see the pain in his eyes and then he walked away with a stick in his hand with small but heavy steps. He never came back after that. We heard that he died besides the river Ganga.

Ya, he was right. I could not understand it then. I cannot even understand it now – how can we live on this Earth without ownership rights? I don’t allow anyone to use laptop. But yes, I would have certainly loved a world where there were no nations and we all could meet without restrictions the way this air that I have breathed out would meet yours one day.

Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?  — William Wordsworth

(fakir, faqir noun [C]: /feɪ.kɪər/ a member of an Islamic religious group, or a Hindu holy man)

I opted an unpopular choice and I am happy


 

Ever wondered why we live on a planet that is spherical? My philosophical logic is; so that we can chose any path we like to reach the same point. Oh! So I am philosophical. Yes, I guess so but then what I think is true to some extent too. What do we want from our life? We all desire to be happy and satisfied with what ever little or more we have. We all live on same Earth but we follow different paths in our lifetime to try to be happy, it is a different issue that some attain the goal and some just don’t seem to find the right path to reach there. There comes a point in our life where we find ourselves standing at a junction that leads to many paths to the same common goal; money, happiness and satisfaction. While standing on that crucial juncture of our life we expect to draw inspiration from the pool of experience around us but we find it nothing else than a part of vast ocean that is water but cannot quench thirst. People give us number of advices and end the discussion with, “but it’s your life son, you have to decide it after all.” Of those many options that we have to chose from, there are some that are highly favoured but something within you tells that it is not what you want to get and then you slowly decide to tread the path overgrown with shrubs and grass. And as you begin to walk you find that there is no going back. There were people advising all around you but now you don’t find anyone and all you hear are some cackles of people you left behind; they laugh on your aptitude and sense of farsightedness. I know this happens as this happened to me seven years ago when I passed my senior secondary school and was to decide a course that would give me happiness, money and a respectable life. I had engineering, dental sciences, ayurvedic medicine, and fisheries science to chose from. I asked people around me and got two options to chose from; engineering and medical sciences. Some even said that studies are not for me and I should better start looking for a job. I knew I was not made from engineering and medicine is what I would do very bad at. I would do some job but that age of 18 was perhaps too less for me not to explore and follow my interests. I was interested in biology but what then. I have a habit of introspection and I probably understood my capabilities. All of a sudden I announced to go for fisheries science! ‘Fisheries science, what would do in it? Catch fish? You need a license to do it and not a degree’, was the kind of expression I got from everybody around me. Till then I had just seen fish on my plate as a food item and didn’t even know what that fish is called. But, I knew I had to do it. I packed my bags, attended a counseling session and was enrolled, by chance, in one of India’s best Fisheries colleges under a University reputed for highest academic standards – no other University in India has minimum 70% passing marks for Bachelors degree programme in agriculture and allied sciences (fisheries is a part of it).

As the professors kept teaching us I kept falling in love with the aquatic world. The films that Discovery channel and Nat. Goeg. channel show is just an enigmatic world for others but it is what I was a part of. Understanding fish and knowing their biology became fun for me. First semester exam result were to be announced and we all were tensed. The results were displayed, grade point average was calculated and I was just stunned to find that I had topped the semester exams with GPA far ahead of second topper. I was happy and so were my parents. A child who was just an average student just had topped his University semester exams. The cackles of people that were watching me from the junction had lowered their voices. Another semester exam results were published and I topped them too. Cackles lowered further and some sounds of appreciation began to be heard. Exams kept on coming and all the eight semester results that my Bachelor degree requires us to pass kept giving me the highest marks. At the end I was declared University topper and awarded with a gold medal. In addition to this I scored a GPA that no one ever had scored in the history of our University since external examination system began. By the end of the course I was in love with the world that draws its life from water. I appeared for an exam where all the professional fisheries graduates compete for the title of “Best Fisheries Graduate of India”. After four grueling rounds of the exam I was fortunate to be awarded with the honour for the year 2010. By this time the negative comments had stopped and all I heard was appreciation. But the real force behind me was my love for the aquatic kingdom and the confidence of my parents that I had earned. I qualified an all India examination for Post grad studies with just one week of preparation after being away from books of fisheries science for six months. I received full funding for my studies and a Junior Research Fellow title. I passed my Master’s degree from the only of its kind Central University in India that teaches only fisheries science. I happened to top my department there too and earned “Best MFSc student (junior) award” in 2012. Soon after passing from there I scored first rank for Ph.D. entrance examination conducted by the same University but declined the offer as I was awarded with MEXT-Japanese Govt. fellowship for Ph.D. in Japan. Thereafter I was also awarded Indian Council for Agricultural Research-International fellowship for PhD in any country abroad.

Today, I am happy as I understand that I would have not done better in any other field. I do not regret to chose the option least suggested, in fact, not suggested at all.

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Today, after staying away from home for almost seven years (with very few visits numbering 3 or 4 of just a week each at home) I stand again in a similar junction where I have to chose from a multiple options. This time the game is many levels above as time constrain has been added to the factors. The decision has to be bold and I hope I make right decision again.

How Diwali aged with me


 

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Festivals have had a special significance in the lives of humans. While it was a reason to extend happiness beyond your own house holds and remember the philosophies of righteousness associated to each festival, today festivals have almost become a day when you take a day off from your busy schedule and spend a day with family and friends. India is known for celebrating lot of festivals, in fact in my region we have some kind of festival, minor or major, almost every week. Diwali is one of the biggest festivals of Hindus and is celebrated with lot a gaiety and fervour in India. Since time immemorial it has been a day to worship Maa Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. It is also the day when Lord Ram came back from 14 years of exile after killing the demon Ravana and was welcomed home with lights in His entire kingdom; since then this festival has become a way to celebrate victory of goodness over the dark powers. It is celebrated every year in the month of October or November, depending upon Hindu calendar.

When I was a kid, Diwali meant a holiday, lots of sweets, crackers and exchanging hand-made greeting card with friends. I had a special attachment with this festival as I loved eating different sorts of sweets and burst crackers but this was also the last holiday of the running academic year after which the teachers would run our classes at rocket speed to finish the syllabus before the approaching final exams and those teachers who had already finished their syllabus would torture us with tests almost every time time-table allowed them. But I have grown up now and no longer worry about going to school and bursting crackers more than my neighbours. Slowly, Diwali has seemed to change its meaning for me. When I was a kid, it was a fun festival meant for kids and today it has an entirely different meaning for me. – it seems the festival has aged over these years. Perhaps the this is the real beauty of this festival – it has something special for everyone of every age group.

Today, more than eating sweets I prefer exchanging them with our friends and relatives. This being a major festival in India, almost everyone takes holidays and come back to their homes from wherever they are; India or abroad. Hence this is the right time to meet people, talk to them, remember old days and get to know more of them. This time I not only met some of friends but also got a change to meet kids who were born when I was away studying, some of my friends got married and could meet their wives. Knowing people gives me a feeling of having an extended family – it gives a sense of pride to know so many people. Everyone greets you, share their happiness. It’s brightness and happiness everywhere which would make you forget your worries and troubles. It assures me that humanity exists, I exist and this Earth is going to exist much longer and I would be remembered by those young kids I met even after I am not in this world; the way I remember some of my elders who are not with us celebrating and sharing joy. While it was about firing and bursting crackers in childhood it is more about lighting lamps that my father used to do when I was a kid. Lamps were just a light emitting source then but today they are more than that. When everyone in the house and neighbourhood join in lighting lamps I feel I am sharing lightness with them and perhaps the darkness in the form of malice would be burnt in the auspicious light of the candles and lamps. When I see kids enjoying the sound of a cracker burst or they gaze at the light of the fireworks I feel a strange happiness, I remember being a child. In fact I feel I am child and join them in the act. I do understand that fireworks means lot of pollution but now we try to buy few crackers and all the children in my neighbourhood pool their crackers and enjoy them for longer time.

On this day I bow with respect towards our ancestors who planned to have all these festivals and associated divine philosophies with them so that we are reminded of goodness and we correct our footsteps to live with love and die with dignity.