Horshito

I have no idea what that means. No amount of googling and playing with word lead me anywhere.

Last night I had a sliver of chance to meditate before I went to sleep and then I had this completely vivid dream. Before going to bed I did read Steve Jobs’ sister’s eulogy . I was very moved. I mean to see a complete human perspective of his last days did move me. Then I was reading a post of my friend on FB where she was talking about how Nov 4th is an auspicious day and whatever you choose to become on that day will stay with you for next 29 years. So, with these thoughts I went to sleep. I was wondering what is that I would want? Whether if I want something, would I stick to it for so many years?

Then I had a dream. It was so clear. A group of people were preparing me for some initiation. They kept saying that word – horshito – to me. They were referring to me about the teacher who is going to initiate me. They were telling me not to be weirded out by the methods used by the teacher. Then I was sitting in lotus position and the teacher is sitting in front of me. The initiation is happening. Then I see that I bought some laddus for all the people who are present. There were 192 of them.

Then I hear this shriek and I wake up only to see Sahana playing happily and trying to talk to me. It took me a while to come back to senses. 4:13AM. I tried to jot down fast what I saw. It occurred to me that the guru I saw was Indian spiritual guru – Swami Chinmayananda. I have seen this Swami’s pic before but never paid attention. Only today I learned about him in much more detail.

I have no idea what that means and more perplexingly what horshito meas. My only logic to that is – it’s Harshito in sanskrit which means joy. This sort of thing happened to me couple of years back where I got the word Ruminal Thread

Books for the Travel

In a week we are starting out for a 3 week trip to India. It’s going to be hectic but awesome. A lot of things to do and a lot of responsibilities to take care of. The excitement hasn’t kicked in yet. I know, the moment I reach SFO – I would be super excited and then those 24 hours on flight. Oh my. Can’t depend on Dramamine this time, as we will have Sahana with us.

Me and Sangita usually pick a book whenever we travel. Well my obvious choice this time is – Steve Jobs biography. I think 600 pages over 20 days is good reading material. A lot has been already written about the book but somethings were interesting. Steve Jobs was influenced by Hindu philosophy and then moved to Zen buddism. He had only one book on his iPad – guess what it is? Autobiography of a Yogi! He used to read it once every year. That I didn’t expect. Who would have thunk it?

I usually carry 2nd book just in case I finish the first one. I am thinking That used to be us, but may be a little too depressing and heavy handed – especially about education in US. Sometimes it makes me wonder whether Singapore would be a good place to go back to (or wonder if I never left). They have the best education in this world (seen the TIMSS rating recently?), zero crime rate and the best of all – 4 hours away from India!

Well – if not that depressing book, I will have to find something interesting. Looking…..

Double barrel

The weather like this reminds me of my time in NY & NJ. Those gloomy and cold evenings. Walking back from train station to home for some warm drinks.

Nothing makes it better than some good old fashion.

Chasing the wrong thing

(Note: This isn’t looking down on anyone, it’s more of what I dig up through self-reflection, writing etc and which sort of gets expressed as self-deprecation. I am as flawed as anyone I have ever met.)

I think a lot of us chase the wrong thing in our lifetimes. I am talking about things and objects. Like 10,000 feet outlook. Not about your new iPhone 4s (yes it’s pretty) or your new low price pants (yes you look pretty too) but at much higher abstraction level of objects and attachment. When we chase something we are attached to it. We are actually attached to the object of desire – which is fine, but it comes with some side-effects. Wherever there is attachment, pain breeds. It’s inevitable.

I think we as humans are at very core level are all about “Self-Expression”. Not about these moving plethora of new shiny gadgets that fill our lives and never give us time to think. I think we seek – constantly – self expression. We do it though various ways. Our work is one main avenue. But there are many other things through which we like to express ourselves – art, dance, music etc. But somewhere we forget that and we start to believe that we are out there seeking objects. Objects of desire. This leads to false self-identity and later does not bode well.

I think the key to happiness is to find out what we want and then dig deep into it to find out what self-expression do we seek from it. It could be anything, a 50″ tv for example. It may not be that you are just satiated by the HD reel that runs through it – but there could be more to it – may be like you like your entertainment in a big way, may be you like to express yourself in a big way which is making you go for a big ass tv. I know it’s a silly example, but I think for any objects we are chasing – there is more to it other than just mere momentary gratification.

I think there is way to sort it out. Here is what I think could help.

1. Find out what you like most. What is your object of desire.

2. Reverse it. Think as if this object is desiring you

3. How would you expect that this object is trying to express itself through you?

4. What are the feeling that you feel when you think of this object is trying to express itself through you?

5. Focus on those feelings. I bet you will find the core of your self-expression there.

Philosophically – when we chase down our objects of desire and once we have it, the fun ends. There is no where to go. And just because you cashed in some of your karma to chase that object of desire you will have to face the opposite action of your actions. It’s unavoidable. But in case you don’t chase the object of desire but the feeling – the feeling of your self expression may be with that object or may be not, then it’s a whole new ball game. You just made the object of desire a means to an end. Not an end. That way, you are guaranteed of endless opportunities of self-expression and not face the reverse karma.

Chasing that feeling is what we should be doing. But instead we are chasing the wrong thing, yep including me.

RIP Dennis Ritchie

My academic software learning started with Pascal but my career software learning started with C language. Before India became a hub for outsourced software development – C was the language you would learn to do things in. Now it’s sadly, Java. I started to learn C in 1993 – after someone mentioned that it’s the language closest to machine. I picked up the default book by Dennis Ritchie and started to write programs. Since I didn’t own a computer and I had to wait till I get my turn to get into computer lab – I would write the program on paper first and type it in when I got my chance.

Dennis Ritchie’s book taught me the basics of programming. Thanks and RIP Dennis Ritchie.

The Tiger Swami

When I first met Sangita – she mentioned that the story of “Tiger Swami” changed her life. I was skeptical and later decided to check it out. It’s from the book called – “An Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda. As I read the the story I was in awe. I was hooked. I read the whole book and even till this date haven’t come across any book as satisfying as this one.

The Tiger Swami – is a story of Yogananda visiting this Swami who is popularly known as Tiger Swami – a name he achieved by fighting tigers with nothing but his bare hands. It’s a fascinating story of how his hubris grew as he won over many tigers until he met his match in Raja Begum – a royal bengal tiger. He defeats it but it brings profound change in him. He becomes spiritual and rather goes on to win the tigers of desire.

A fascinating book and my dream is one day to produce the book as a movie. A mix of spirituality, science and myth. I would highly recommend the book – even if you are not a fan of Yogananda. Here is a quote from the Tiger Swami chapter –

Mind is the wielder of muscles. The force of the hammer blow depends on the energy applied; the power expressed by man’s bodily instrument depends on his aggressive will and courage. The body is literally manufactured and sustained by mind. Through pressure of instincts from past lives, strengths or weaknesses percolate gradually into human consciousness. They express as habits, which in turn manifest as a desirable or an undesirable body. Outward frailty has a mental origin; in a vicious circle, the habit bound body thwarts the mind. If the master allows himself to be commanded by servant, the latter becomes autocratic; the mind is similarly enslaved by submitting to bodily dictation.

 

Read the book online here – http://www.ananda.org/inspiration/books/ay/

Steve Jobs

What a life. Now it will be – what a legacy. I admire Steve Jobs for his ruthless nature with details. Very few people are both adamant and right. Steve Jobs was. He has been right about a lot of things and there are many things I see now which I think now as a customer to Apple has placed me in the right place too. I know that from open source point of view – Apple isn’t all saintly. But whatever it is, it was the making of Steve Jobs. No where it is possible to be a company like Apple.

I have been digesting his passing away since yesterday. It feels weird and I have 2 things to write about.

1. How I came to know about Macs: When I finished my college I took one year off to study and prepare for IIMs – the prestigious management institution. People spend a year to prep for the entrance test because if you get into IIM your life won’t be same again. During that period – this was 1995, I came across a newspaper ad about how there is a Macintosh computer expo in one of the 5 star hotel. I didn’t know what a Macintosh is but looking at the picture, it looked like a standard PC and I was interested in anything that is remotely like a PC.

At that time I was really wanting to own my very own computer – which was really pricey to have but I went in to check Macs out. It was awesome. The computer smiled when you turn them on and the way it looked was beautiful. Then I saw the price tag – I was like shit. It was like 2500$ even back then. There is no way I can ever afford to buy one. I spent about an hour there wandering and looking at all the models.

I knew I couldn’t buy a mac, but my interest in a mac was spiked up. So, I went straight from there to a book store and bought a Mac for Dummies book. I studied it from end to end and there was an end to that story. After I came to US in 2001 – I have always had an eye on Mac. I checked the apple site often and always looked at the price tag and felt bad about spending so much money on something which I wasn’t sure would be useful for my work.

Finally in 2007 we were about to move to India for a year, my job was ending, we got rid of all the stuff we had and I had just enough savings to buy one. I bought my first Mac Book Pro on June 29th 2007 just 4 days before I left for India. It also happened to be the day iPhone got released and the store was mobbed and I probably was the only guy buying a laptop that day. I remember on that day we were going to our friends place for dinner straight from the store and I was just waiting to get back home and checkout my very own Mac.

I was a Ubuntu Linux user till then and after a painful incidents of my computer stalling and my win PC not working like the way I wanted it to – I made the switch. I had too many gripes about macs – like no right click button, not higher resolution that win pc etc – but all that were gone once I started to use it. No matter what you say about Mac’s closed nature – the hardware rocks. I have never had any serious issues with my mac ever. After that – all I bought was macs. Sangita uses Mac Pro, we have a Mac Mini running as our media center. Airport for wireless. iPod for music etc. Mac gave me peace of mind.

2. Detached Sadness: How could it be my blog post without me feeling something. I have been feeling bummed for his death. I have no personal great incidents with SJ or anything but all this thinking about his death – has made me reflect on couple of things.

a. I noticed that how weird my thinking is that all the time Steve was alive, when I looked at his pics in media or his talk all I thought was what media was telling me. It never occurred to me that there was a person behind that monster character that media is portraying him as. Just 2 day back I saw an article about how SJ parks in handicap spots and that too occupying 2 spots. And I thought what a jerk. But I totally missed how he is a person behind all that noise. A rather warm person. Just goes to show how swayed I am by the stupid media.

b. I was talking to JD last night about this and I was saying how death kinda gives me no place to stand. Like my mind goes into this gaping void where I am speechless and can’t think of anything else. As we talked I realized that I am not that afraid of my own death but I am afraid of far greater thing than that. I think I am afraid that I would die without realizing my purpose in life. That was kinda crazy as it occurred to me.

I think Steve Jobs was all about that – single minded purpose. And he marched to his own band – that made him epic. And my greatest fear came to me that I would die with the music stuck inside me – never getting a chance to realize my purpose. It’s still reverberating in my heart and I am still pondering on it.

It does make me sad.

It’s been said that long time back in 1973 he traveled to India to visit Neem Karoli Baba but just missed him by few days. Neem Karoli Baba passed away few days before Steve arrived. It’s the same Baba whose disciples are Ram Dass and Krishna Das and I think it’s a fitting tribute – a bhajan by Krishna Das on Baba.

 

 

Physics – How I loved it

Back in good old days when I was in 6-9th grade, I used to write letters. Letters to my grand parents, my uncles. I was the officiated guy in the family for my mom, grand mother et al to write letters to other family members – as I was able to write in 3 different languages. Sometimes I used to get creative and write fun letters to my uncles with puzzles like substituting every other word with some other word to understand it. This was plain old pen and paper letter writing – not your digital cousin version of it.

Back in those days too – physics was fascinating to me. When I was in high school – I came across a book called – “Emperor’s new Mind” by Roger Penrose. It was kinda way too much for me to understand  at that time. So I tried my best to understand it. As I was reading it – all I wanted to do was to become a physicist. Delve into dark matter and explore quantum physics. I came across an article in a newspaper by a lead scientist who was running India’s premier physics research lab – ANURAG. You should also know that Hyderabad is place in India all Indian science and defense research happens. Anyhow, as there was no google – all I knew was to write him a letter. That I did. Poured him my heart about how I want to become a scientist too. I think I was 14 years old and I know it’s kinda bonkers to even think about writing to someone like that.

Lo and behold after kinda 2 weeks I got a reply. The lead scientist – was so kind and nice to me. He didn’t agree to see me but he had amazing advice for me. He wrote a full 2 pages about how I can approach a career to become physicist. One of the important thing he asked me to do was to get my basics completely right and suggested me to study – Richard Feynman‘s lectures. Those were frigging expensive to buy. I cajoled my dad to buy them for me when he was on a trip to Delhi. And it did took about 6 months to get hold of them.

As I studied Feynman’s lectures – I was so fascinated. I loved his books. Then I had to move on to my Intermediate (11th grade) where overall scores are more important than just physics and I lost touch with my Feynaman lectures reading. Later, I moved onto my new found love in Mathematics and later Computer Science. Couple of years later I came across a bunch of generic books by Feynman – “Surely you’re joking Mr.Feynman” is a funny read. I always had this inkling that I want to get back to those lectures and finish reading them. I hope some day I will.

Today I came across this video of Feynman’s talk and it stirred all my physics related memories. I don’t think there ever exists anyone like him and the way he could break down complex theories in such simple models was amazing. He is my hero. Here he is talking about beauty and science.