Saturday, October 31, 2009

C for Cricket! Wait, Commercial is more like it!

The end of another day; today was a little significant because I finished a lab for this Sem. The exam went on shockingly smooth without any major twists or headaches. The heavily speculated viva turned out to be a cake walk. So, I had a whole evening of fun ahead.
Mission one was accomplished in the afternoon. I was thoroughly satisfied after watching John Travolta and Denzel Washington in “The taking of Pelham 123”. I had a short nap and then settled myself snugly into an easy chair to watch the third ODI between India and Australia. By the time I switched on the TV, the first over was being bowled and Sachin was on strike facing the last ball. He played a beautiful cover drive that reached the boundary in a flash. Before I could even savor the delight of the moment, the screen switched to a commercial with grumpy people on a train who get all hyper after some dude starts humming the du tu du… theme of DOCOMO. I was pissed and irritated. Why couldn’t they show just one replay of the shot before moving onto the commercials? Nevertheless, I went on to watch the match. Somewhere in the eighth over Shewag got clean bowled by Mitchell Johnson. This time the replay was shown from four different angles. One from the top, one from the bowler’s side and one more from the stump that got dismantled in the process. X(

As the match went on, the screen used to go small all of a sudden with Hrithik Roshan popping up on the sides of the screen, trying to lure people into buying the new “Hero Honda Karizma ZMR”, which I heard was a major let down in the Karizma series. And this mostly used to happen when Dhoni or Yuvraj were maneuvering a particularly different run. My heart almost popped into my mouth at one instant when I heard a cracking crunch from my heavily amplified 1500 watts sound system. The thought in my mind was that; someone was bowled. But when the sidebar ad disappeared and the screen returned to normal size I was relieved to find out that it was just the sound of the bat when Yuvi was on forward defense.

As a fan of cricket and particularly more so when India progresses on a winning note, I kept watching the match though sidebar ad’s kept popping up regularly and there were ad’s every time the players paused as much as for a breath. By the end of 35 or 40 over’s, I memorized SRK’s lines in one of the Airtel ad’s, understood how special effects could be put to good effect after watching Hrithik brave a tornado for his lost cap because he had a Karizma ZMR, also how people could become more friendly when some random guy in a train starts humming the incomprehensible..
Du du du… Tu tu du…
Do do do.. co co co co.. mo mo mo…

(I’d rather prefer giving him a tight slap rather than humming something so dumb!)

The next irritating part came up when Dhoni started brandishing his bat with some super duper hits to the fence. The people who pay millions to secure the rights to broadcast matches were not observant enough to follow the ball when the guy hits the ball in a particular direction. One particular ball, the camera went completely haywire and turned leg side, while later I figured out that he cut the ball square on the off side. This happened few more times after that, with the camera going berserk in all random directions. This was particularly annoying because it happened only when Dhoni was hitting boundaries.

Anyhow, India did win the match in the end with Suresh Raina hit a four flicking it behind the wicket keeper. I saw Suresh Raina go and congratulate Dhoni for his superb captain’s knock. My chest swelled with pride as Dhoni lifted of the stumps. As I was admiring the men in blue as they walked onto the field to envelope the batsmen into a sea of blue, the screen changed abruptly changed and I saw an Oral B toothbrush ad right at the time when the celebrations must’ve been going on. Too bad. Even after the post match presentation ceremony I was alf expecting to see Yuvi ride his Man of the match present; the Karizma ZMR. But there was no time for showing that two minutes of joy in the commercial ridden cricket match.

Few years back, broadcasting of cricket matches was not this commercial. We didn’t have models going around interviewing cricketers (it’s actually a welcome change I’d say ;) ) or neither did we have bikini clad models dancing each time a player struck a boundary or picked up a wicket. Channels were also generous enough to let people enjoy the few minutes of national pride before they went on to justify the millions they were paid to show diapers and toothbrushes. After all, in India cricket is never a sport, it’s a religion. Makes me remember a slogan on one of the placards that I saw in one of the matches,
Cricket is our religion and Sachin is our god.
Hope the good ol’ days come back again. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The postive and the negative!

If you believe that there is a positive energy that exists in the form of god, you acknowledge it and appreciate it only when there is a negative energy.

I was watching a show on Discovery Channel a few minutes back. It was an episode of a series called The Haunting. The particular episode takes place in a horse ranch situated in a sub urban locality somewhere in the US. The show showed the struggle of a women fighting against the presence of a negative force in the place where she did her horse breeding business.

The cool thing about the show was that, the so called ghosts were portrayed as negative energy, not as ghosts with super natural powers that could break houses or levitate objects at will. I always believed that, the soul which resides inside a human body is a positive energy that keeps us moving. It’s the driving force for our life. When the body disintegrates and dies, the spirit moves on to find itself another body. When this doesn’t happen, the spirit gets trapped and bodiless and becomes a negative energy.

Why this happens? After watching lots of documentaries, movies and after attending few lectures on spirituality, I’ve understood that the trauma of a life leaves an impact on the never dying spirit which prevents it from moving onto the next life. This results in a negative presence that unleashes itself on whatever comes across its way in the place where it gets stuck.

The major objective of any religion having a set of ethical rules is to keep the spirit clean and to help it move on from one life to another without any disturbance. When one fears a higher presence, they flinch when they commit a mistake. They fear that they may get punished by the higher force that controls them.
Many say that science, which is a practical tool, doesn’t agree with all this theory of negative presence. But why not, when it is practical that happiness, joy and togetherness brings peace and positive energy; sadness, anger and torture bring in negative energy. Newton’s 3rd law ;)

Well, so finally only light can destroy darkness and only positive energy can defeat negative energy. So, believe in everything. Nothing in this world is impossible. There is the god and then there is a devil. But ultimately, god only prevails.
The day kills the night. Everytime.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Stranger!

It was yet another day in college. But this particular day was very gloomy. I wanted to bunk college this Monday wand join my uncle and aunt for a visit to Simhachalam. But I was pretty sure that I would end up spoiling their mood by getting bored myself. With a heavy heart and an irritated mind, I dragged myself to college. The bus journey as been the same as ever, helping me catch up with valuable sleep which I always keep losing however idle I remain the rest of the day. My misery multiplied manifold when I came to know that many of my friends were bunking today. Actually, it was not unexpected. This Monday was predicted to be an exceptionally dull day and no one wanted to be a part of it. Unwillingly, I choose to become a part of it. I went to class to find myself in class with 5 other guys. I wondered if my last hope of the day double crossed me. I immediately messaged Dheeraj to find out if he was coming. He replied in the positive, assuring me that I had company to drag out a boring day with classes from dawn till dusk. We took our places in the second bench, abandoning our routine places in the third bench. This was to ensure better camouflage in case the professor got nosy. The first period was automobile engineering. The coolest thing about this professor was, he never really bothered if students paid attention to whatever he prattled for an hour or two. His motto was, “Live, let live” ;) So, I thought we could play a few rounds of hangman. But Dheeraj proved a great disappointment and started doing record work. I was in the meanwhile searching for a means to pass time. I found the precise thing at that very moment. I removed the small metallic glistening object from my pocket. Its smooth black surface felt cold and it was quite heavy for its size. Voila, it was my cell phone. (Too much of hype, eh?)
I started poking my usual list of SMS buddies. To my misery, none of them responded. I was deeply hurt at this unexpected development. I got so pissed that, I put back the phone in my pocket and started listening to the lecture. As I was trying hard not to make the radial tire I was drawing into a shapeless amoeba, my phone vibrated violently inside my pocket sending the tremor waves all though my body. I hoped it was not some Vodafone shit with some bullshit offers trying to reduce my balance. The message was from an unknown number. It said,

“Pls give my attendance”

I was duly confused and sent the traditional reply to be sent in these situations.

“Who is this?”

I waited for a while wondering who it could possibly be. The reply arrived a few minutes later.

“Who is this?”
Now, this took me off guard. This was something illogical. I just received a message from an unknown number and without I getting to know who was disturbing me, the person who sent the message wanted to know who I was. And if he didn’t know me, how did he message me? I replied,

“Now, YOU are the one who messaged ME, asking ME to give YOUR attendance and YOU are asking ME who I am?”

This was actually going great. Getting a message from an unknown number in a boring class was a boon from heavens. ;) The reply that followed was even dumber than the previous one,

“I didnt send you any message; I think it is network prblem.”

Now, I’ve heard about missed calls but missed messages? Wow, now this was new! I copied the first message in received and sent it to the person informing what I got. The reply that I got after a few minutes was persuading.

“I didnt send that.anyway which network is dis?”

I replied,
“Mine is Vodafone. The same as yours.”

The reply that came next sent a wave of doubt within my head.

“your number is so nyc”

Dude! This got to be one of my friends. Doing time pass. This was pretty common in colleges. Prank messaging was one hell of a time pass for us. :D I started playing along.

“Oh, thanks a lot. Your number is also very nice.” (My number is 9160050090, the unknown number had a 55-00-33)

Meanwhile I put on the Sherlock Holmes cap and checked with Dheeraj if the number was on his phone. Negative. Nonetheless, I asked him to check if anyone was messaging in class. It was not difficult if it was indeed someone in class. The strength that day was only 31 out of 70. Mean while I got the next message.

“Wher r u frm?”

I replied,

“I’m from Vizag. What about you?”
Dheeraj was scrutinizing.

“also frm vizag”
There were four people messaging. It had to be one of them.

“You said attendance, which college?” I asked.

“MVGR college. u?”
A little more imagination could’ve made it much more interesting. ;)

“BVK College. Doing my B.A. You?”
There was only one person who could be doing it. The guy in the last bench. He was holding his phone and smiling into it. It had to be him.

may i know your name?”

Dheeraj gave me a bizarre option, “Mutyala Rao”, improvising my idea, “Appa Rao”. Nah, too far fetched.

“Shankar rao. And your good name please?”

Wonderful. The class was over and sir was taking attendance. Time to find out why I was the pick of the day for my friend.

As sir moved out of the class, I caught him on the way to the bathroom. I demanded if he was the one messaging me for the past hour and a half. He said he was not messaging anyone. True to his word his phone was not his and the number was also different. I then checked with one of my other friends, only to find out that I was messaging a stranger till now. Damn! So was that really a girl? I thought of the last set of messages before the end of the class.

“Why not replying?”

“Little busy”
At that point I was so sure it was the guy I thought it was.

“So did you enjoy talking to me?”

There was never a reply.

I felt deeply embarrassed and thought of messaging a sorry. But then I thought it would be useless. It could still be one of my friends with a new number. Or someone outside college. As of today, it still remains unknown. Personally I had no regrets, it had been an one and half hour of solid entertainment. I am not complaining.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Bright and shiny future!

This was my entry to the IIT Madras, Shaastra '09 online science fiction writing contest. Hope you enjoy reading my story. Please do leave comments and your views so that I can improvise my writing skills.
The topic was..
"Write a short story about a dystopian future where the government has banned laughter and has devices set up everywhere to detect it and punish those who indulge in it."

It was a late December evening. I was walking through the abandoned streets of Delhi, which were once part of a very busy tourism hub. As the cold wind swept past my face, I realized how cold it was. During the last few decades, if there was anything I lost, it was the power to feel. I lost the power of being human. In an age where the machines ruled the people, we had anything but the power to feel. We were just the machines needed to keep the machines running. As I reached home and saw its state, I felt moisture on my face. I didn’t want to cry but the tears came down involuntarily. I was crying without any emotion.
I was on my way to work, in a shuttle air bus. There were hundreds of others with me. All of us were modern slaves to the machines. Everyone around me wore rags and their eyes looked lifeless. The joys of being alive and human were long gone. No one spoke aboard. We simply exchanged glances to acknowledge that we had survived one more day of a miserable life which had no purpose. There were two sentries made of steel standing at the entries of the shuttle. The purpose of their existence was to make sure that none of us did anything human. The machines were frightened that humans were never to indulge in things that created emotions like laughter, anger and sorrow. After all, an emotional human being is all that it takes to destroy, or create anything. Such was the nature of human emotions. Such capacities were taken away from us. The countless electric shocks, tortures and beatings have taken away my power of feel anything. The steel guards had sensors embedded within them, which detected human emotions. Any rise in the level of adrenalin flowing in the blood, indicated an emotion. The detection of an emotion was followed by an automated electric shock and a few weeks in a torture chamber which was to make sure that never again such emotions were felt. I noticed a young man sitting towards the end of the shuttle. He was looking at the sentries. His face was livid and glowing with anger. We heard a faint beep and the next instant the lad was pinned to the ground and was being administered shock treatment. He was howling in pain for a few minutes. Later he was limp and motionless. He hung from his seat like the dead branch of a tree. I felt nothing, no pain, no sorrow. All I could feel was indifference. I felt nothing but emptiness within me. I lost human nature. So did the people along with me.
Another emotion that the machines feared and loathed was laughter. It indicated the presence of a healthy mind. A healthy human mind could achieve anything and everything. The machines didn’t want that to happen. If there were class of the human clan who still had the capacity to laugh, it was infants. In the early stages of the machine age, the detection systems led to mass massacres in hospitals where new births took place. The crying, the happiness, the laughter evoked the sensors of the robots to an all time high, like the scent of blood to sharks. The human race faced near extinction when, the machines sensed the need to humans to carry out essential tasks required for the survival of the machines. So, babies were fabricated in incubators. They were taught the principles of working through humans in controlled environments. The class rooms of teaching were strictly guarded so that they learnt nothing but what was required. Emotions were strictly prohibited in every form.
Eventually, humans formed secret societies in deep underground settlements where they could stay out of the coverage of the sensors. They trained select young men from various places in skills like decapitating the machines. They did occasional raids on the machine head quarters but they were always outnumbered and the missions were futile. Moreover, they didn’t have the support of their fellow humans who didn’t have enough courage to start a fight with the powerful machines.
As I returned home from work one night I found my small hut ransacked and overturned. It must’ve been one of those one of those routine search operations of the machines just to ensure that no one indulges in activities that threatened their existence. I didn’t feel anything as I looked at my destroyed home. It meant nothing to me. It was merely a place where I dragged out my nights when I was not working for the machines. I started walking aimlessly though the empty black streets away from the small settlement where we lived. I felt nothing as the cold wind constantly whipped my cold face. I didn’t shudder to the cold though I was wearing nothing but a torn sweater and a worn out jeans. As I kept walking, not realizing time or direction, I was suddenly seized by a brutal force from behind. It was like a metal gripper which was used mostly in torture chambers to hold you while they did shock treatment. It lifted me a few inches into the air and immediately a thick cable holding a laser pointer at one end came to my face and scanned my retina. It was followed by another sensor which ended up near my heart and it felt like it was recording my heart beat. The gripper put me down again and released its grip. Then, I saw a part of the ground moving away. I saw a flight of stairs that led inside the ground. I walked inside the tunnel without any purpose or anxiety. I discovered myself in an underground settlement. I saw guns, ammunition and equipment that were designed to decapitate the machines. One of the people there wearing a badge of some kind came to me and told me that they were planning a rescue operation. Their objective was to recover the babies fabricated by robots to help them make the human race win again. They dressed me up in an outfit and equipped me with a gun and a jammer which would help us destroy the central processors of the robots.
I started in one of the tanks along with five other men. We were on our way to the facility when we heard the machines approaching. They had sensed the strong waves of emotion and started attacking the tanks. The attack indicator in our tank sensed an approaching missile and we barely had time to make our escape. I landed on the forest floor outside. I saw men fighting robots with human valor and courage. But the machines which were designed to run by feeding on the human emotions grew more powerful with the growing rage in the men around them. I saw one machine come towards me with an electric ball glowering on one of its arms. I didn’t try to run or hide. It didn’t make any difference to me if I lived or died. I thought of my life and I felt nothing but the weary emptiness. The machine came to me stopped a few yards in front of me. The electric ball in its hand was flickering and it looked as if it was growing weaker. I walked to the machine and took the jammer from my pocket. I fixed it on the back of the head of the machine. It whirred for a while and then collapsed. One man who was watching me with amazement asked me how I had done it. Then for the first time in my life I felt an emotion. That emotion swept away all other emotions within me. The emotion told me that I had to fight. I had to survive. The instinct to survive swept away sadness, anger or rage. I asked him if I could find a machine which could multiply brain wave frequencies and make them spread over an area. He thought for a while and told me that they used frequency suppressors to make sure that their settlements remained safe from the attack of the machines. He told me that he could reverse the process and make it work as an enhancer. We ran to the nearest tank and sat inside. We drove to the cover of a huge canopy of trees to buy us some time.
The man worked for a while and said that it should work now. I told him to get out of the vehicle and protect the vehicle for as long as he could. He looked at me in the eye as if questioning why he should trust a stranger he never knew. I told him in a flat tone that, I could make us win the battle. The question was wiped out of his face and he went out nodding his head in my direction. I put on the equipment on my head. The sensors on the headset started buzzing. I looked at the display panel which showed me the optional frequencies I could set it to. I simply picked the highest and set it to that. The next thing I could feel was a buzzing inside my head. I couldn’t say if it was pain. I didn’t know if I was dying. All I could sense at that point of time was that, I needed to survive and help others do it. We couldn’t give up. The human race couldn’t succumb to the power of something they created for their own benefit. We fought the heat of the deserts, the freezing cold of the arctic blizzards and the deadliest of forests. The human instinct for survival outlasted everything beyond endurance.
By the time I opened my eyes, I was lying on the ground. I thought I was in heaven. The rising sun never looked so beautiful. Still, I didn’t feel emotion. The emptiness was all that I could sense. Then there were people around me they were anxious to see if I lived or perished. I slowly stood up and saw the machines lying around in heaps. It worked. The human instinct to survive outlasted the brutal force of metal.
Nature has thought me a new method to fight. I was the first of a new evolved species of humans. We were designed to destroy the machines that fed on human emotions. I felt a sense of purpose for the first time in my life. I was designed to kill without thinking, without experiencing emotions that made us vulnerable to the machines. Now, that I knew my purpose, I set out on a mission. A mission intended to bring us back into power. I set out into the world to find people like me. People designed by nature to keep us alive. I was sure of it now, because we had a weapon that the machines can never think of possessing. We can evolve. We can adapt. We can survive.