Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cricket and God's particle- an ethereal experience


This blog is about an experience- an experience shared by millions of people across continents. Particularly, Indians who watch and enjoy cricket. 


An experience called Sachin. 

I call this an experience because it has nothing to do with the person named Sachin Tendulkar, but because it is a collective consciousness that people across the world sense with a form, through a sport.

The spark for this post sparked while watching India surgically crush the life out of Australia while chasing a massive target of 359. Shikhar Dhavan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli played spectacular cricket- masterpieces in their careers. An inning which all three and maybe an entire generation will remember in their lifetime.


But. Something was lacking in this experience.


The experience has changed.

Now, our generation is experiencing cricket with a different perspective. One, where we watch cricket with our heads, not our hearts. One, where there is no "longing" to watch the Sachin manifesto unfold before our eyes. Before, when this manifesto existed, it didn't matter whether it brought with it a sense of victory or loss, as long as it was present. Sachin didn't even have to come to the crease for this experience to exist. 

If you listen closely, you notice that this longing has eluded everyone including the commentators. For example even Shane Warne, a commentator for yesterday's match and one of the lucky few who experienced the dark side of the Sachin experience, was commenting at least two octaves below his level of excitement. 

The gravitational pull exerted by this mysterious and elusive force was what bound a billion people to one another. This elusive force is theorized to be God's particle and hence Sachin may be cricket's ___. 



Thursday, June 13, 2013

The next stage of our lives begin.

It has been 2 years 4 months and 23 days since my last post. I theorized how our brain re-consolidates bits of information from our conscious and subconscious mind when we go to sleep. In this post, I consolidate my life since that day. It is a short post, as you shall see, but let me tell you, it is no short of a dream.

The Gunda Arrives

After I wrote the last post, nothing really exciting happened for about 5 months and then on a bright morning in July, Purnima showed me the "stick" and at that precise moment our lives changed! When I mean "our", I mean everyone in the immediate and near vicinity of our existence.

See that's what babies do!

From that moment on, every single thought was either directly or indirectly about my unborn child. What the wife ate, drank, thought, heard and felt was all about giving the baby a great preview for an amazing movie. For 9 whole months, we spent every waking moment sharing, planning and preparing ourselves for a new chapter in our 13 year courtship (of those 9 months, the wife spent 8 throwing up!).

And then she arrived.

And I knew who she was.

I had known her all along.

It was just that we hadn't met until then.

My heart skipped a beat for the second time in my life.

First when I saw my wife and next when I saw my child.

Right then, holding her in my arms, I realized that the next stage of our lives have begun.

The stage where we truly "feel" like we have grown up.




Saturday, January 22, 2011

Re-consolidation theory of dream- A computational model explaining the occurrence of dreams

The following essay is a self-developed theory investigating into the scarcely explained concept of dreaming. It came to me while watching my beautiful wife's eyelashes flicker while she was falling asleep.

I could relate the flickering of her eyelashes to the consolidation of memory that occurs in the hard drive when the computer is idle or in the process of a shut down- you know when the small LED light flicker when your computer is busy. The Continual Activation theory proposed by Jie Zhang in 2004 is somewhat related to the thoughts I am expressing in this essay, but I have a few modifications to this theory (http://www.bukisa.com/articles/309967_dream-theories-four-common-theories-of-why-we-dream).

When the computer is in the process of shut down, it consolidates all the information from the RAM and places it into fragments in the hard drive. Although the Continual activation theory states that the declarative memory (consolidated through type 1 dream) and procedural memory (consolidated through type 2 dream) are transferred onto long term memory during dreams, I believe that dreaming has nothing to do with consolidation of memories. It is the process of fragmenting the information that has been prioritized in the course of your active, awake period and infuse those with the subconscious thought processes that have been embossed unknowingly through associations and past experiences. Your memory has already been consolidated while you are awake; dreams simply re-consolidates those thoughts during REM sleep which are experienced by individuals through visual, tactile or other sensory experiences.

This re-consolidation is a random occurrence as none of your dreams are controlled (although there is a concept called Lucid Dreaming that is prevalent) but is a normal phenomenon. This re-consolidation process resembles the streaming of information- both conscious and subconscious- to you while the information is uploaded to your brain. If the fragmented information comes to you in a string of random images, dreams don't make sense, but by chance if they appear in a string of connected images, dreams carry meaning. I am still working on why people have repeated dreams or nightmares, it may take a little while- but I am sure I will figure it out.

Anyway, just like your hard drive has fragments of information- some connected, some disconnected- your mind is similar. Hence, dreams cannot be the vehicles for consolidation of memory rather a process of re-consolidating information after the memories have been formed.

Thoughts?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Refurbished India - Review of weeks 1 and 2


Lesson 1: Being away from your country is not the same as being away from your home.

Every individual's attachment to his motherland is unique. I have been away from my motherland-on and off- for the past 5 years and let me assure you that being away from your country is not the same as being away from your home. I have realized that these two emotional attachments are conspicuously different and distinct.

India has changed- rather it has been "refurbished". Two years ago, when I last stepped on my country's soil, things were in the process of being done, they still are and always will be. The streets of Mumbai seem like an operation that didn't go as planned and had to be taken back to the drawing board to refurbish.

Lesson 2: Welcome to Mumbai, India or may we say Welcome to Zoombai, India.

Its been a week since the wife and I landed in Mumbai and what a week it has been! The first pleasant surprise was to see how beautifully the Mumbai International Airport has been completed. The contemporary structure has been slowly and gradually replaced with a more modern architectural feel giving it a more "Colaba-ish" look. Bottom line- I loved it! I wasn't able to thoroughly enjoy the good work done by the builders only because even at six in the morning it felt like we are stepping inside an oven set at 125 degrees Fahrenheit for over an hour! And somehow my growing appetite for that tasty butter chicken was replaced by sympathy for the poor fowl. Its been a week and I still haven't eaten chicken at home.

Cars- lots and lots of cars. About 10 years ago, if you were to use your peripheral vision and scan your vicinity, you would maybe be able to locate and correctly identify about 1 or 2 cars with ease. Today, you don't even have to use your peripheral vision, because a single glance on any street at any time of the day will present at least 6 to 8 different types of cars with their Ritz-y styles and Icons, Wagon-ing around the concrete Forest(er) in a Zen-like Verse(a). Its like car companies have found the Nano-technology for making cars with i to the power of 10!

Lesson 3:You can't teach an old dog new tricks, but you can certainly BLING him up!
Life in Mumbai is still the same. The people on the streets walking like kings on their morning walks, dogs lying around waiting for a treat from a friendly passerby, rickshaw-wala's driving their "rath" as if they are the only vehicles on the road, crows taking extremely low-altitude flights, etc. etc. However, what has changes is that these people walk with branded earphones in their ears with a "West Side" bag on their sides, rickshaw-wala's have proliferated like Agent Smith in Matrix Reloaded and malls have emerges on either sides of the road just like there was a boom of guys selling pirated DVDs at roadside about half a decade ago! Mumbaiites are turning into mall rats and everything is sold with a pinch of BLING!

On our first evening at home, Amod, Poulomi, the wife and I ventured into Koram Mall in Thane. Simpletons that we are (read the wife and moi), we ordered a Paani Puri and Sev Puri. The bill- a whopping Rs.80!! It took us a while to gulp down the paani puris because we were still recovering from that feeling called "being looted"! But like true Mumbaiite or Thaneite, if you would say, we recovered just as fast as we were traumatized. The lesson learnt- Ask before you buy, because the value of a 100-rupee note is no longer what it used to be 2 years ago!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our mind and Pavlov's dog.

I am almost certain that anyone who is reading this is at least aware of the term classical conditioning. Let me recap the concept for you- Classical conditioning was a form of learning that was identified by Ivan Pavlov. It was a major discovery of its times (early 19th century) when he described how associative learning took place in a dog when an unconditioned stimulus (US) was combined with a conditioned stimulus (CS) to give a conditioned response (CR).

What!????

Simple:
1. Food (US) + Ringing Bell (neutral stim.) = Salivation (CR)
2. After a few trials, only Ringing Bell (CS) = Salivation (CR)


Fast forward 109 years later, I sitting in my neuroscience class listening to this whole concept of classical conditioning and I learned something new about it. Typically classical conditioning occurs when the stimulus is presented externally. What if this conditioning was occurring internally as well? Are we classically conditioning ourselves without realizing that we are our own Pavlov as well as his dog?

Apparently the answer is YES.

Most of our fears and our superstitions are the result of our mind's classical conditioning on itself. Its quite simple to illustrate, imagine this if you can- you are walking alone at night and you hear the howling of a dog followed immediately (and co-incidentally) by a cat crossing your path. For a split second you get scared, you start to get nervous and suddenly your protective instincts take over, because for years you have been exposed to baseless superstitions and associations that something horrible or uneventful occurs after such events. This is nothing more than your mind getting conditioned to totally unrelated stimuli - dog bark and cat cross!

Now, lets glean on this topic a little more. If we can step back and look at this event from outside the box, it would only be intuitive that we analyze this situation by breaking it down to its tiniest occurrence. When we do that, we realize that a dog's bark is nothing more than a dog's bark and a cat crossing your path is just that- a cat crossing your path! The point to take home from this is, every little fear we have or every fanciful whim we cradle, may be nothing more than our mind playing tricks on us. We as modern beings, tend to associate everything with everything- a tendency that is automatic and subconscious, because we strive to gather meaning out of things we do not understand. What we don't realize is that this struggle for comprehension might not really help us get stronger.

The funny thing is, this change in behavior does not have to be in association to any action- it can occur even if an unpleasant thought or an emotionally charged memory is triggered. That's how deep seated our conditioned responses are- a process that we gave rise to, but never really figured out how to control. So ask yourself before you start feeling bad about something that you had no control over- is this really "me" or is this my mind playing tricks on his dog!




Monday, March 22, 2010

What I have learned from Donut.....


July 6th, 2009 was an eventful day- it was our first wedding anniversary. It was the day I got Donut as a gift to Purnima and it was also the day my life offered me a companion in the form of a cute little puppy. In a span of 10 months I have watched Donut grow from a tiny little puppy to a brave little dog! In these 10 months, I learned a lot from this awesome little friend of mine, an awful lot. Without using words, this bundle of fur gave me an insight into myself as well as a change of outlook towards things around me. So let me give it straight up and that too in bullet points!
  • You can be satisfied with only a few things in life and be perfectly happy with them. Give those few of your "belongings" all the love and affection you can and they soon become family!
  • Learn to grow things around you, it makes you responsible and it builds a virtue called Patience.
  • You learn to put others needs before yourself.
  • You understand your attitude towards destruction and you learn to change it- you begin with anger and frustration and then you eventually move onto control and composure in face of debris.
  • Sometimes sitting out on the patio and staring outside counts as a perfectly well-utilized day.
  • Its important to have a place where you wait to go all day and when you reach there you are happy beyond your god-alone-knows-what's-going-on-in-that brain's understanding!!
  • You can't get along with everyone- some of them are just angry dogs who bite!!
  • Unconditional love is something that comes from within, you just can't fake it.
  • Food is anything that fills your stomach and makes you smack your lips- along with everything else that can be put in your mouth (just kidding)...
  • Keeping your mind clear brings a great night's sleep. Seriously.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vantage points and perspectives


A documentary on Hulu - http://www.hulu.com/watch/103661/cosmic-journeys-how-large-is-the-universe- got me thinking about how the scientific discoveries can be aligned with philosophical perspectives to get a different vantage point in our daily life. We get up in the morning and start our daily chores, go about with our business but we hardly take a moment to see where all this is approaching. Now I use "approaching" rather than "going" only because with every cognitively intact action, we are "approaching" a goal in our life- it has a feel good tone to it. So here is a thought- "Where do we- as a person or an individual or an entity- stand in this grand schema of life?" There are several philosophies out there explaining to us why we exist and provide a reason for our existence. However, this is the one that I like the most.


Imagine this if you can- outside of us, we have this world that is cosily placed in the laps of Mother Earth. She, on a larger scale, is floating around with other planets, who as a group constitute one of the several solar systems in our Milky way galaxy. Now I dont have to tell you that Milky way is one of the galaxies in our closest proximity of space with the nearest intergalactic region about 60 million light years away (seems like I just did). Moving "out", the universe continues to expand and proliferate at unimaginable proportions which in turn is only an infinitesimally small part of the actual universe! (Let's not even get into the concept of multiverse and the mesh of string theory).


On the inside, there is a world that is similar to the one outside. Within us, we house organs, muscles, ligaments, cartilages, and bones which are made up of different types of cells. Each cell is supplied by blood vessels which amazes me because every cell in the body is within 1/10th of a mm of a supplying blood vessel (Don't quote me on the number!). Peering microscopically, we end up looking all the way upto the atoms that make the molecules which make these cells. But now we even know that there is more to atoms that just protons and neutrons and electrons. In short- the world within us is expanding as well- we just dont know how much it is capable of expanding.


So that leads us to the ultimate, million-dollar question- Who are we?


We are nothing more than a boundary that seperates the outside from the inside. The "I" is exactly that- a line seperating the ever expansive cosmos outside and the explorable microcosm inside. So next time you feel that you feel that your ego is causing trouble within- think for a moment that you are nothing but a line that seperates two worlds that are functioning without you even controlling them one tiny bit. Seems depressing isn't it? But there is more to it than the structural boundary that we as beings create- there is meaning to this boundary and that my friends is the meaning of life.


My best friend's father Dr.Vidyadhar Oke, has always been a "spiritual" guide to me and I have been fortunate to get some really cool perspectives on life through him. While watching this documentary, I was reminded of one of his perspectives of life- according to him- the meaning of life does not lie in the word "life"- it lies in the word "meaning". In an effort to understand the "why" of life, we forget to focus on the "what" of life. The Self is an abstract concept because you wouldn't call just your hand "you". I wouldn't look at my foot and say "Oh that's Amit" or look at my eye and say "Yep, that's me". Because they are a part of me- they have a meaning in their presence. The foot walks, the eye sees and so on. Its their utility that makes them what they are and when everyone does what they are supposed to, they form what is then considered "You". So find your utility in this world and you will know how you fit into it. In this massive body of whatever the heck it is, our effort should be directed towards understanding what purpose it is that we serve in this grand scheme of chaos.


And to help us along, we have been blessed with simple pleasures of life- a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly winter morning.


Find your purpose and you shall find yourself.


Until later.

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