Romeo and Juliet, 4000 BC

I started out on Google at 3:00 pm today for some information on emulsions, and at 3:20 pm I was looking at this. I felt vaguely strange.

Picture courtesy: CNET News.com

Archaeologists have unearthed two skeletons from the Neolithic period (5000-6000 years ago) locked in an “eternal embrace” and buried outside Mantua, Italy, about 25 miles south of Verona. Sounds familiar? It’s the same city where Shakespeare set the tale of Romeo and Juliet. Here’s the bigger catch – In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is sent to Mantua for killing Capulet in a sword fight. Romeo then leaves the city and returns to Verona when he hears that Juliet has died.

It was found at the site where a factory is planned and many have speculated on the circumstances this goosebumps-giving spectacle. Flint tools, including arrowheads and a knife, were also found alongside the couple. Their teeth being intact, it is thought that the couple died young.

They are face to face and their arms and legs are entwined and they are really hugging.

When I was reading through the user comments on the related news pieces, almost everybody had the same thing to say – of not to disturb them from their grave. Unfortunately, it has already been done.

Doomed love?

Other sources of information:
BBC News
Dailymail.co.uk
CNET News.com

Whatsisname

Americans pronounce Indian names better than Indians do. Or at least they do it more accurately. Yes, it’s true! I am not kidding!

The most ludicrous habit of many government officials in India is look at the first alphabet of your name, and then at the last, and fill up the rest themselves. Some of them even decide to correct the way it is spelled and then put in on record.
I have ended up being named (on official records) as Kokanad (most common error), Kokanand, Kokenad, Kokonath, Kokanath. Without the blink of one or more eyes.
On one hilarious occasion, my brother Sayontan was called Shaitan.
Prayatn became Prashant. Anushaily became Anshuly (Anshulee).

Correcting the mistake on an official record in India would be a big headache, but if I write about that it should be classified under the label *Sigh* in my blog. So I am not going into that now.

Americans do have a tough time understanding the complicated concoction of syllables in Indian names, but atleast end up reading it thoroughly and even pronouncing it right! And the icing of the cake lies in the fact that each and everyone asks if they pronounced it right. Your face invariably breaks into a smile. A lab mate once approached me with the name “Ramachandran” and asked if “Remakandran” (accented) is the right way to pronounce it, because she didn’t want to embarrass herself.

My friends and I had been witness to this incident…
A good friend of ours, ABCXYZ Singh, has had a crisis since she landed in the US, because she decided to dump her last name. Now here’s the catch – in the US, it’s extremely difficult to survive without a last name because every official record is on the basis of a last name. So they found a workaround and made her first name ABCXYZ as her last name and attributed “Unknown” as her first name. So her name, officially is, Unknown ABCXYZ. While we were getting issued our State ID cards, our first names were being called out. When it was her turn, there was a voice from a sweet old lady –
“Un-known”?
While we all giggled away, our friend walks up to the counter. The old lady is visibly embarrassed because she is sure that is not the right way to pronounce “Unknown”.
“Oh honey, did I get your name right?”

Just a note: For many who ask me this question, the meaning of Kokonad is “red lotus” in Sanskrit.

Lightning bolt!

Mindless web-meandering brought me to this –

The original source – http://wvs.topleftpixel.com/archives/photos_skyscapes/060803_1637.shtml
© Sam Javanrouh www.ddoi.ca

As he says, it’s the view from his kitchen – terrific view! And notice how beautifully one of the lightning bolts (center) climbs back up – like it forgot something back home! :)) A high resolution image can be viewed and downloaded here.

Blink

Smoke from an extinguished candle.
Starched kurtas.
Milk powder.
Nice conversations.
Uneven mirrors.
Condensation on sides of a glass of cold water.
Melted cheese.
Soft contrasts.
4:00pm.
Dust on a table.
Snapping fingers in a candle fire.
Shifting sands due to wind.
Water rolling off a leaf.
Yawning babies.
Cool cushions.
Subtlety.
Shadows of leaves.
Smell of freshly baked cake.
Coffee with streaks of brown in foam.
Ice on torso.
Liquid stains on old pages.
Long emails that are years old.
Fire.
Spherical drops of water on fingernails.
Tall trees swaying together.
Watching babies trying to figure something out.
Spray of mist.
High speed winds.
Driving in convertibles.
View points.
Black & white photography.
Babies smiling at a camera.
Music that reaches a climax.
Smell of rain.
Sans serif fonts.
New cars.
Holding her hands, and in silence.
Winter afternoons.
Tacit smiles of understanding.
Chocolate melting in the mouth.
Dried up glue.
Seeing someone smile to oneself.
Right alignment.
Matte finish.
The colour orange.
Storms before rain.
Smell of leather upholstery.
Standing at the doors of trains at high speed.
Vaporising deodorant.
Orange on white.
Double entendre.
Fast piano.
Ink on tissue paper.
Drinking water after soanf.
Tango.

These are things I like. These are all that came to my mind. These are few of the thousands more.

Post Script: This was written in exactly 5 minutes (clocked) and closed. Just wanted to see what all came to my mind.

Bad Advertising


(Duration: 29 seconds, Google Video)

I came across this particular advertisement on contraceptives. They depict a few babies being messy (which I find adorable, by the way). A female voice then says, “There’s so much more to look forward to. Get your contraception … at your local pharmacy.”

There are better ways to spread public awareness about contraception and birth control than showing babies, the most beautiful things on earth, in a negative light.
It is NOT good humour.
It is NOT good advertising.

My Utopia

John Lennon’s Imagine means more to me than a mere song. It reflects what kind of an idealist I am, and what kind of world I would love to live in. Today, as Winamp was playing songs from my 3000 strong playlist, Imagine came up in the random shuffle after a long time. I realised that this song was buried under scores of western classical, western oldies of the 60s and trance; and I had quite forgotten about it.

Here’s Imagine, the world where I would be the happiest… My utopia.

Imagine by John Lennon

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

People don’t see me talking highly of my country… I get looks of “How can you disrespect the years of struggle India has gone through to get independence?” Well, I do acknowledge and admire that, but it’s not the country I am disrespectful towards; I am against the whole concept of territorialism.

I hate to see boundaries in humanity. I hate to see differentiation and bloodshed due to countries, religion, caste, colour and what not. We are a single species of mammals. Why can’t we live by sharing the whole world?
I see fundamental flaws in human beings.
A destructive mind.
A quest for limelight and power.
A feeling of hatred seeing other people succeed.
An innate desire to see other people fail.
Why do we call it a rat race, when we truly are much worse than the rats?
Rats do it for food. For survival.
But we have all that.
Our main motive has become to outdo the other, and see the other suffer too.
We go wrong at a very grass root level. We do.
Can’t we fix this? All we have to do is realise it…

An idealist, am I? A dreamer too, may be. Well, at least I imagine things that are happy. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Living in a box

50 % reservation for SC and ST in IITs and IIMs. Aaargh!
The buzzword is globalisation. The world is talking freedom. The world is zooming past us in the healthy race of free competition. Towards development. Away from narrow-mindedness. We are stuck in a one-way in a different direction.
We are chaining ourselves again, after 60 years of freedom. When the entire world is looking up to India for its brains and its “Highly Skilled and Educated” professionals, it is pathetic that we in India still have issues like the caste system. On Wednesday this week, this news article caught my eye. And my disgust as well.

Increase SC/ST reservations: Arjun
NDTV Correspondent
Tuesday, March 28, 2006 (New Delhi):
Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh has written a letter to all states asking them to pass a legislation to increase reservation for SC and STs and other backward classes from 22.5 per cent to 49 per cent. [more]

The youth of the country are actually contributing the maximum to the growth of the country. IITs and IIMs are the few remaining institutes in the nation which still attach importance to merit more than anything else. Now the government is trying to take away that too.
My disappointment is not just due to this. Dear reader, please do not misinterpret this as something against SC/ST and OBC groups. I am against the OFFICIAL existance of such diversity!
My proposal is that the people in the country will see the light of equality when the government removes the

Enter Caste (GE/SC/ST/OBC/Other): _______

from its official fill-out forms! Increasing quota of one kind neither ensures equality nor does it bring us any closer to it. When the offices take in people based on fulfillment of requirements alone, where is the question of inequality?
I have had this discussion with a few friends while taking the complete idealist side, i.e. Eradicate official existance of such diversities. These are some of the responses I got:

D (Junior from IITM, 2nd year Civil): What the hell! Giving a quota of 49.5% is pointless – it in turn makes the general category the oppressed ones! But one can never settle on an optimum number which makes all parties happy!

A (Old classmate, currently a Law student): How do you expect to do something like that? You can’t suddenly remove the entire system offiicially. There are many people from backward villages who benefit a lot from such quota systems.

R
(Classmate, IITM, 5th year Chemical): Government does it or not, people are never going to treat each other on an equal note. A good percentage of Indians (of many age groups) still know what caste (lower or upper) a person belongs to from just the name. The prejudice of inequality lies in the eyes of the people and hence it’s in the system.

I agree with both A and R. My response to A was that we can atleast phase the quota and reservation records out of the administration. The success of establishing equality does NOT lie in giving chance to a citizen whilst tagging him as a lower caste one. It lies in removing these caste systems entirely. The caste of a person should not even feature in application forms etc.
My response to R was somewhat on a parallel note. The administration systems are what run the country. Personal prejudices of people are not going to affect the country’s policies that much, if the government maintains a firm ground in establishing equality. Whether or not a lower caste person is allowed to set foot in a house belonging to an upper caste person, his chance to participate in competition should be just the same as anyone else. And not by being in a quota for reservation, instead all should start on the same platform, and fight for the same goal.

India has to stop living in a box.

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