Every morning you open the newspaper, listen to Radio and watch television and witness happenings all around you. There are news and news of all kinds and types, good news, bad news, discoveries, inventions, disclosures, mysteries, births and deaths, and on kinds of happenings around the world, the microcosm and the macrocosm. There are religious discourses, philosophies, mundane regular happenings, and among all this we as individuals lead our lives. Some of us are just drifters, some with near-sighted aims and objects and some with grand visions, some with just empty dreams and their own castles in the air, grand illusions. Some are endowed with natural pessimism and some are incorrigible optimists. Some of us always smile and expect the world to smile with us, always lookign to the good side of life. And some of us are doomsday prophets, finding and looking for only the dark and dismal things to happen in our life and around us.
Some of are deemed architects of the fate of humans. Some live for themselves, secretly out of their cupboards dreading every moment. Some of us have natural drive in us that encourage us on to new heights of achievements. Some are just happy with what life in its own course has brought to us, our lot, and they just amble through life.
There are responsible types and irresponsible types. Responsible people can be responsible only for themselves, or responsible to society. people are of types and types: good, bad, callous, careless, generous, miserly, scholarly, unlettered, motivated, aimless, religious, unreligious, moral, immoral and amoral, virtuous, evil, saintly, satanic, thinking, unthinking, systematic, erratic, punctual, tardy, curious, disinterested, inventive and stupid or plain.
For all people every day is a new chance. A terminal patient surviving a night’s passage gets a renewed confidence in the continuance of life, a loser too, on seeing the dawn hopes things will improve for a change. A new day is a gift of God. When you sleep, forget your worries, forgive your enemies, write off your bad debts, and make your mind light. It is not very easy. Different people have different mindset, character, inhibitions, ambitions. Yet when you wake up in the morning, despite the differences, the new dawn gives you new energy, new opportunity, new vigor and new expectations.
Use each day like a golden opportunity. A day lost is a day lost forever.
As long as I was in active service as a humble Typist-Clerk-Private Secretary, I had a great love for books. My taste in books ranged without any rhyme or reason reflecting my nature. I always liked to visit a library, and from the time I could become a subscribing member, I took membership in more than one library at one time. Those were my Madras days. I was a member of the District Central Library, The British Council Library, The Library at the American Center, the University Library, and I had also occasionally visited the Connimara Library (I may be misspelling the name). I used to hunt for big books on Art, Architecture, Paintings and Sculpture. I was also visiting Painting Exhibitions, dramas and religious discourses. I liked listening to classical Carnatic Music. My visits to libraries almost ended when my college days were over. When I started working, especially in Madras, my books collection habit started. I was fond of purchasing cheap second hand books on the pavements even during my school days as I had to pass many of these shops on my way to the Marina Beach.
From the time I started travelling to and from office, I frequented a particular book shop where new as well as second hand books and magazines were available to peruse and purchase, I had become a regular collector of books. I think with the amount of money I spent on these secondhand books and magazines and sometimes even new books, I could have saved a couple or more of ten of thousands of rupees. But as my collections grew gradually I never realised the amounts involved totally. This is just a digression.
So much water has passed between then and now. I have retired, now using reading glasses, prefer watching TV and browsing websites, posting my blogs, taking care of the house, watching an occasional movie in a theater, eating out occasionally, and have almost stopped reading from books. On various occasions in the past, I have packed away my collections of books to libraries, selling to an occasional book lover, and losing some good books to book-flickers and book borrowers who never return them to me.
I still have a semblance of collection of some books, a pitifully small number compared to my total collections. I haven’t read any new authors’ books though sometimes when I visit a good book shop like Walden, I see their names and titles. I sometimes purchase crossword books because I am fond of solving crosswords.
One old gem I often take out and browse at random is an old publication called, The World of Animals, which it states is a treasury of lore, legend and literature by great writers and naturalists from the 5th century to the present. This book was compiled by Joseph Wood Krutch with his commentary introduction, copyright in 1961, and published by Simon and Schuster, Inc., New York.
This is an amply illustrated book. I have lost the illustration on the front cover and the back cover. There are illustrations of ceramic, bronze, metal, sculpture, painting, mosaic and enamel. Pages 27 and 28 are also missing.
The introduction itself is very interesting reading. To quote a passage: “God is absolutely distinct from man; man absolutely distinct from all other living things. Man is at God’s mercy; everything else is at man’s. Most animals who have any contact with man throughout most history have good reason to go in the fear of him and in the dread of him.” Religions have helped to produce civilizations in which the rights of animals are much more likely to be recognized than they were ever before. He says society has increasingly become humane and cruelty to animals today is a crime.
Krutch quotes the Englishman John Ray, stating, “Let us consider the works of God and observe the operation of His hands. Let us take notice of and admire His infinite goodness and wisdom in the formation of them. No creature in the sublunary world is capable of doing this except man, and yet we have been deficient therein”.
He quotes a passage from Alexander Pope’s one of the most widely read poems, of which I lift just a couplet, as follows: Has God, thou fool! work’d solely for thy good, Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food? . . .
He also quotes John Donne saying, ..just as man is involved with all other men, so is mankind involved with all living things. He compares this to the Copernican revolution in astronomy. he says Copernicus removed earth from the central position and made it only a planet revolving around the central sun. Man though not insignificant, he is great only among others which are lesser.
Krutch quotes Henry Thoreau: “This curious world which we inhabit is more wonderful than it is convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired than to be used.”
He concludes his introduction by stating that just as individual men cannot live successfully unless they live for something more than merely making a living; we must regard the earth on which we live as something more than merely that which furnishes us with a living. We should gladly assume that Nature’s children all divide her care, and that they are all demonstrations of the wisdom of God.
This book contains the writings by various people and each of these is interesting reading. I propose to reproduce some of them, at my leisurely pace over time, so that those reading them can gain some insight into the ways people think
Drafted on Saturday, April 14, 2007. 9.15 a.m.
Ever since steam power was invented by James Watt, Locomotive Steam Engine pulling the coaches along, has entered our lives and lore. Like all else, the invention of the locomotive engine has sparked our imagination, and innovations have been
added to its concept, design and fabrication.
Now the steam engine is almost a thing of the past, a wisp of memory. Now there are diesel engines and electric power-driver superfast engines, lugging a long train of coaches, carrying people and transporting goods.
The train whistle is a powerful stimulant. Children all over the world play the train game and blow the whistle. The arrival and departure of a train is the beginning or the end of a long association. A train whistle heard faintly in the distance even when the engine is not yet in sight, has a very nostalgic effect on us.
How the sound of the train whistle might have sent shivers of mortal fear into the hearts of the prisoners of the Nazi regime, with their knowledge that the train will separate them from their kith and kin, and will take them to their fateful destinations like concentration camps, intensive labour camps or to the gas chamber. In peace times, the arrival and departure of a train into a station brings union and pleasure to families.
A train journey is the major form of transport all over the world. Movies have been made and novels written involving train journeys. I remember a movie in which a soldier on leave takes a long journey by train and the movie recounts his various experiences. He gets delayed because of entanglements en route, and finally when he reaches home to be greeted by his mother, a letter awaits him to return to the war front.
I also watched a Tamil movie called “Kizhakke Pogum Rayil”, viz., The Eastbound Train, which narrates the story of a young woman’s daily visit to the Railway Station expecting to see her lover-husband return. This was a very poignant story shot in rural settings.
There were a lot more movies based on the theme of trains, like The Great Train Robbery and a Hindi movie called the Burning Train. There is a real life story of adog in Japan which used to go to the Railway Station awaiting its master’s return every day, while he was dead a long while ago. I think there is also a statue to immortalise the dog. Agatha Christie has written a mystery called a murder on the Orient Express, involving an incident where two trains pass each other in opposite directions and a passenger in one train witness a fleeting glimpse of a murder being committed in the other train..
Train routes cris-cross a nation’s landscape, carrying commuters and goods from one place to another.
Life is like a train journey. Many people get into the train from one station and leave it at another. Human beings travel the train of time, grow, mature, age and die and become just memories and then fade from the memories even to be lost for ever in the past. This is deep stuff, and the passage brings happiness and sorror, adventure and relaxation, purpose and aimlessness, achievement and the lack of it, as long as it lasts. All the human ties forged in human life become null and nought after death, which is equated to people getting off trains. There I go again, philosophising and depressing people. But life is like that.
P.S: This is published very late because my net connection was down. We had a hail storm throwing down on us tennis ball sized ones pelting our doors and windows with such rattling, causing a power breakdown at midnight, over a couple of days ago. Our car windscreen was cracked. The hailstorm was followed by very heavy rains, low tension electricity, causing our old TV set to explode. There was news in the dailies that the hailstorms caused widespread crop damage in the state. The poor net provider had his reputation at stake and was frantically fixing troubles and to retrieve his damaged image.
I had been out of sorts for sometime now and my imagination was dry as the summer days here in Hyderabad. We have not yet completely settled down here in Charlapally, though Raju and Rupa are into the groove and are driving to office on all five working days. Rupa has taken a Learners’ Driving Licence. The three of them, Raju, Rupa and Chitra are more regular with their Blog Posts, Raju’s being the most professional closely followed by Rupa’s posts. For Paplu (Chitra) Blog Posting is a kind of recreation and relaxation and respite from studies. That leaves me to vegetate in my own stew.
I keep going back to my nostalgia and pathos anytime I apply ink to paper. So I laid off for sometime. Paplu suggested that I write a Post and suggested Numbers as a topic.
I am no Math man and Arithmetic scares me, though I am good at simple addition, subtraction. Yet I thought I would stake out in an untrodden path today. So here it is. I start with a weblink suggested to me by Paplu. This is it:
My numbskull brain went blank trying to make out anything I can say on the subject of the above link but I gave up the attempt. So I will restrict myself with what I can understand. By saying this, in no way I am passing opinions, simply because I am an absolute zero as far as mathematics is concerned.
Now, I will quote selectively from Wikipedia:
History of Numbers
It is speculated that the first known use of numbers dates back to around 30000 BC, bones or other artefacts have been discovered with marks cut into them which are often considered tally marks. The use of these tally marks have been suggested to be anything from counting elapsed time, such as numbers of days, or keeping records of amounts.
The earliest known example is from a cave in Southern Africa. .
Tallying systems have no concept of place-value (such as in the currently used decimal notation), which limit its representation of large numbers and as such is often considered that this is the first kind of abstract system that would be used, and could be considered a Numeral System.
History of Zero:
The use of zero as a number should be distinguished from its use as a placeholder numeral in place-value systems. Many ancient Indian texts use a Sanskrit word Shunya to refer to the concept of void; in mathematics texts this word would often be used to refer to the number zero. . In a similar vein, Pāṇini (5th century BC) used the null (zero) operator (ie a lambda production) in the Ashtadhyayi, his algebraic grammar for the Sanskrit language. (also see Pingala)
Records show that the Ancient Greeks seemed unsure about the status of zero as a number: they asked themselves “how can ‘nothing’ be something?”, leading to interesting philosophical and, by the Medieval period, religious arguments about the nature and existence of zero and the vacuum. The paradoxes of Zeno of Elea depend in large part on the uncertain interpretation of zero. (The ancient Greeks even questioned that 1 was a number.)
The late Olmec people of south-central Mexico began to use a true zero (a shell glyph) in the New World possibly by the 4th century BC but certainly by 40 BC, which became an integral part of Maya numerals and the Maya calendar, but did not influence Old World numeral systems.
By 130, Ptolemy, influenced by Hipparchus and the Babylonians, was using a symbol for zero (a small circle with a long overbar) within a sexagesimal numeral system otherwise using alphabetic Greek numerals. Because it was used alone, not as just a placeholder, this Hellenistic zero was the first documented use of a true zero in the Old World. In later Byzantine manuscripts of his Syntaxis Mathematica (Almagest), the Hellenistic zero had morphed into the Greek letter omicron (otherwise meaning 70).
Another true zero was used in tables alongside Roman numerals by 525 (first known use by Dionysius Exiguus), but as a word, nulla meaning nothing, not as a symbol. When division produced zero as a remainder, nihil, also meaning nothing, was used. These medieval zeros were used by all future medieval computists (calculators of Easter). An isolated use of their initial, N, was used in a table of Roman numerals by Bede or a colleague about 725, a true zero symbol.
An early documented use of the zero by Brahmagupta (in the Brahmasphutasiddhanta) dates to 628. He treated zero as a number and discussed operations involving it, including division. By this time (7th century) the concept had clearly reached Cambodia, and documentation shows the idea later spreading to China and the Islamic world.
With this, I stray off from Wiki.
If you are inquisitive to know what is special about numbers, please go to the following link which lists them exhaustively: http://www.stetson.edu/~efriedma/numbers.htm
If by a remote chance anyone wants to learn the number names in 2,000 languages, they may open the following weblink: http://www.zompist.com/numbers.shtml
I will close this post by introducing Dr. Math to you. I am certain that Dr. Math will be of use to undergraduate students and to the general public from all walks of life: http://mathforum.org/dr.math/index.html.
If my mind doesn’t wander I shall continue to post more on this subject. Till we meet again, have a nice time.
P.S: Here is a bonus. http://www.maa.org/devlin/devlin_10_02.html
This weblink is about the book, LIBER ABACI. This book gave numbers to the western world. This is a very interesting article on this 800 year old book. Read it and I hope you will like it.
April 5, 2007. Thursday. 3.12 p.m.
I was watching Passion of the Christ, as I have been watching often. I remember lines from the Catntata with the following lines:
He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was wounded for our iniquities.
He was refused and rejected of men;
Surely He was greater than all men.
Oh what is man,
That Thou are mindful of him.
The merciful goodness of the Lord
endureth for ever;
and ever and ever.
I am not a Christian; nor do I have any real anchor to hold on to. I am born a Hindu Brahmin but I had not been a True Brahmin throughout my life.
Whenever you think, most often you think subjectively. You relate to any of these to your own life’s experiences. Ever since my childhood, I had never been taught or shown real principles and nor have I had any convictions or ideals or ations and aspirations. I was always aimless and I studied aimlessly, married aimlessly, begot my own aimlessly and lost my most precious possession in my life. I have never prayed with real conviction ever in my life.
But something good has always been happening to me. My parents, my sisters, my wife and my children are all the good things to have happened to me. I am beyond sinning because I never truly analysed the meaning of words. I never too had real feeling of guilt ever in my life because all my actions are aimless and unpremeditated and never wilful.
When my wife left her corporal body, I don’t know what happened to her soul. But her memories linger with me and I take guidance in life through consultation with her, and I continue all her prayers and rituals like lighting a lamp and pleading to an unknown God for the wellbeing of my children. I have not become a reformed soul even after her passing away but I entreat her moderation with me whenever I feel I am committing an error, a blunder or a transgression, and my conscience is always light. No past memory weighs heavily on my heart.
For me, my wife is the ultimate pure soul. She lived her life selflessly, dedicating herself completely for our wellbeing, always sharing her joys with us and never sharing her miseries and pains with any soul. No human being is perfect and she also must have her follies and foibles, but for me she was the ideal soulmate, compensating for my shortcomings, tolerating me always and ever caring and full of concern.
Only once, a few weeks before leaving this world, she confessed to me that at one stage in her life she was so disillusioned that she thought of committing suicide, but thank God, she stayed on with us as long as she survived on this earth.
She suffered all the pains for our sake. Whenever I watched Passion of the Christ, I had cried everytime, but I had never cried for Kala ever, whether I was callous or not, I do not know. Sometimes when I am alone with myself, which is most of the time, I experience an intense sadness, though fleetingly, because as you know now, I am thoughtless. Perhaps this sadness washes all my sins.
I carry on only thinking of our children all the time because it is the prime object of my existence for my remaining time here, and I do not have any idea of any hereafter.
I do not have any deep convictions about Karma and Rebirth, and if ever I am reborn as a human being, I want to be born again to the same parents, same siblings, marry my own Kala and beget my own family, over and over again, so that ultimately, at some future birth, I will have improved my character and personality and vision and aim in life, so that I would have acquitted myself well to all concerned. Amen.