humour

Dance to the ‘Moo’sic

It is said that life on Earth depends on survival of the fittest. Hence the most weak species like the Dodo were wiped out or the most powerful species like the lion and the tiger are endangered as they have to deal with the so-called sharper minds of humans.

Do IITian’s have the sharpest minds among the humans? At least in India, we believe so, as most parents would love to have their wards in an IIT. They think that once their children are into an IIT they have that extra advantage over other ordinary students when they start out on the rat race. Yes, the every day struggle of humans to earn a living and achieve something in life is called a rat race.

But when they get into IIT, and especially IIT, Mumbai these students have to vie for space with so many other species.

Once, students in IIT, Mumbai were vulnerable to dangerous species like the Leopard and the Cobra. The nearby Powai Lake was infested with crocodiles. Yes, you read right. Don’t think that the IITian’s have it easy inside that sprawling, tree lined campus.

Nowadays, the Leopard and the Cobra have almost disappeared, though they do manage to make special guest appearances at lecture halls.

However, today the street dogs, the monkeys and cattle, lord it over inside the campus. Few months back, I had written about the monkey menace there. The dog infestation is across Mumbai, hence nothing special to write about.

But today, a student was run over by two, fighting bulls. It so happened that they were chasing each other on the IIT campus street when an unfortunate student happened to be in the line of their stampede. Of course, he happened to be staring into his mobile screen, which is an invention of a particularly mad scientist, bent upon making the human race to go backwards in civilization. So the bulls steamrolled the student who miraculously escaped with minor scratches though he did lose consciousness at that instant. But happy to report his survival.

This goes to show that a few species are putting up a good fight to try and prevent the human race from running away and ruining the planet by infiltrating the highest echelons of human learning.

Last heard, the humans have appealed to their highest authorities to rid the campus of other animal species. Or atleast control them, as these other species do provide a stress busting environment to the extremely stressed students.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

Rowdy Rooster

There was nothing rowdy about it. Maurice had malice towards none. It was in his nature. To crow early morning; his daily salute the morning Sun. And the French countryside loved him for that, their morning alarm which never failed to rouse them from deep slumber. In fact, few people in the village did not get their morning pressure till they heard him. 

Maurice had a booming crow and the online friendly young folk of the town had made him into a celebrity in France. But no one in the village were to know that their way of life was soon going to be challenged.

Maurice had a booming crow and the online friendly young folk of the town had made him into a celebrity in France. But no one in the village were to know that their way of life was soon going to be challenged.

We in the Indian metros are very familiar with the concept of a holiday home where the nuclear families yearn for a break from their stressed lives and builders take advantage of this craving by offering homes in idyllic surroundings of the countryside.

It seems this is a common phenomenon in other countries as well. Certainly France, where our hero, Maurice comes from. 

His neighborhood changed fast and soon his owner’s small dwelling was boxed between big bungalows in which the city folk moved into, especially during the weekends. They came, looking for some peace and quiet, which they got in plenty but putting up with the loud crowing of Maurice in the early morning was a challenge. His owner was faced with complaints and being a simple woman, she tried various tricks to quieten him.

Suddenly he found himself locked away for the night. Extra care was taken to ensure that the morning rays did not reach him. 

Poor Maurice!

What was he to do? He started crowing louder to plead with his owner to let him out. 

Finally, a city couple from the neighbourhood had had enough. They were retirees who had moved to the village to imbibe the village life but forgot to put their city egos in the city. They slapped a case against the owner and accused Maurice of making a great cacophony every morning and disturbing their beauty sleep.

Soon the case grabbed headlines across France and the Maurice Fan club gathered supporters. 

“The complainants are fools who have suddenly discovered that eggs don’t grow on trees!”, thundered the Mayor of the town.

The other animals of the countryside came out in support, the donkeys braying and the cows mooing.

The lawyer defended Maurice’s right to make himself heard. He himself was not in court otherwise he would have crowed in his own defence.

Last heard, the city folks are getting used to Maurice as they are finding his crowing an early morning stress buster compared to the sounds of the city.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

Tu cheese badi hai mast…

“Tu cheese badi hai mast mast”, went the superhit song of the 90’s, which had Khiladi Kumar and Raveena Tandon gyrating to the lyrics. The spelling of cheese above is not a spelling mistake, it is deliberately spelled so, since it is the heroine of this story.

It is said that all living things, including trees, respond to various types of music, in different ways. While we have seen cats enjoying piano music, dogs have been known to headbang to rock.

Trees respond to music too, and Indian classical has been proved to help the plants to thrive. However, certain research says that trees or plants respond to the vibrations produced by music.

Taking inspiration from above I decided to study the effects of music on cheese; I was very eager to know how the flavour and ripening of cheese would respond to different frequencies of musical sound.

So I went to the mall and bought 8 packets of cheese. After coming home the cheese was gently escorted out of the packs and kept on 8 wooden dishes seperately.

Then eight pairs of earphones were placed surrounding each wooden dish. Lot of thought went into the selection of eight types of music.

One dish of cheese wiggled itself to Elvis Presley while Beetles serenaded another.

While Country Music took it back to its country roots, afrobeat shook it up to its core.

Jazz was music to its core, and Folk music welled up its eyes.

The cheese really thrived in Indian classical, growing in size and spilling beyond the borders of the wooden dish.

But when I played it, its namesake song, “tu cheese badi hai mast mast…”, and tasted, I slurped my fingers; it has a strong flavour. Perhaps it was influenced by the pair of handsome specimen who wiggled their booty seductively.

You would think I have lost my mind but no.

Recently a team of researchers, who, usually don’t have anything productive to do, conducted an exactly similar experiment.

The team used mini transmitters to diffuse the musical energy into the cheese and this experiment went on for 6 months for the results to be concluded and finally the results were announced.

The cheese exposed to Mozart had a milder taste, but it was the cheese exposed to hip-hop which had a tangy flavour.

Hope, further research doesn’t say that the Gully boy binges on tangy cheese. Or the Classical wizard is a connoisseur of mild cheese…

Yatindra Tawde

book review

The Vedas and Upanishads for children – A book review

Book title : The Vedas and Upanishads for children

Author : Roopa Pai

Publisher: Hachette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd.

No. of pages: 410

Let there be no doubt about it, The Vedas and Upanishads are no simple subjects that anyone and everyone can attempt writing about them. First of all, they are so ancient; second, they are originally written in the ancient language of the Indian subcontinent, Sanskrit. This language has very few current aficionados. Third, there are quite a few translations available, from the 19th century to quite recent, where, not everyone has managed to capture the true gist of those great works. 

However the author, Roopa Pai has studied the best among them like the works of Bibek and Dipavali Debroy, Swami Vivekananda, S. Radhakrishnan, Sri M and many others. Please refer to the select bibliography at the end of the book.

Studying is only half the battle won. Interpreting it for the target audience, who are the teenagers, and keeping it interesting enough throughout the entire length of the book is a stupendous achievement. 

And mind you, this book is not only for teenagers, though written in a language they understand. Those who have only a cursory knowledge of the Vedas and Upanishads, like yours truly, will find it equally interesting and wonderous. I mean, those ancient rishis and sages really developed some profound thoughts which acted as guiding principles to innumerable generations. 

Like the author says, there might be parts of the Vedas and Upanishads that you will love and others which you don’t feel comfortable with. Just take from them the useful and illuminating lessons and set the rest aside. Even those ancient sages are not asking you to believe everything they have said but exhorting you to think for yourself.

Speaking for myself, I felt those sages certainly had a scientific bent of mind, the way they thought and tried to unravel answers to some very fundamental questions. They sought to inspire people to seek the truth for themselves. Of course, the science of those times may not have been so advanced (though many would disagree) that few of those ideas would be relevant in today’s age too, but you can’t deny that the methodology they employed is still applicable. You might think I have said something preposterous, but read this book and then form your own opinion.

Hats off to Roopa Pai for attempting to communicate in simple language, the very difficult and sometimes confusing world of the Vedas and Upanishads. She says that the old, old answers of the Upanishads are among the most convincing, for a significant number of people still swear by them. So grab this book to find out more!

Totally recommended.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Sports

Cricket goes vegan

The diet of prehistoric man mainly consisted of meat and fish. Poor fellow, he wasn’t proficient in agriculture yet. So he had to subsist on food which was achieved by killing other living beings, or rather other animals. In addition to this, they were also drinking the milk of different animals.

Then he progressed and developed agriculture. Now he had choice of a new food; previously this choice had been restricted.

As they progressed further they developed a conscience. This conscience started troubling a few humans. They were overcome by a feeling of guilt on killing animals for food. A few gave up eating animals, subsisting only on vegetables, fruit and milk. They started calling themselves vegetarian while those belonging to the opposite spectrum were non-vegetarian.

After the industrial revolution and especially in the late twentieth century, diary farms were run like an industry, with target oriented milk production. This involved cruel practices like calves being taken away from the cows as soon as they were born and the cows themselves being abandoned as soon as their milk production went down.

Various research and studies also showed that man is not very lactose friendly. Combined with the inhuman practices in milk production, these studies pushed some humans to give up on milk too. They started subsisting only on plant products for their nutrition. A new term had to be coined for this category of humans and the vegans were born.

So today’s topic is Veganism but in an entirely different field. Yes, it is the cricket field we are talking about.

Now you may wonder what is the connection of a game of cricket with Veganism. Well lots, if the English are to be believed.

As you know, the cricket ball is a covering of leather encasing a core of cork which is layered with tightly wound string. This leather is cow leather but let me assure you that there is nothing cruel about this industry.

However, since it is leather, an animal product, it had to come under the scanner.

It so happened that a new owner took over one of the many small cricket clubs in England. This person happened to be vegan. But he was disturbed that one of the key ingredients of the game involved animal hides which usually gets a good hiding with the bat. He decided to do something about it.

His idea and some entrepreneur’s enterprise has resulted in a ball which is covered by rubber instead of leather.

It’s another matter that this ball bounces till the first floor currently but they assure us that it will be brought down to earth soon.

I wonder whether world cups of the future will be divided into vegan non-vegan teams playing with extra long bats to negotiate the delinquent balls.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, science

Recruitment Pigs

Recruitment Pigs! 

The title may have shocked you when you first read it but does this following word make any connect?

“Neuralink”. 

Yes, now you smile to yourself because many of you may have read it in the news or seen the video.

The billionaire entrepreneur is trying to recruit workers or volunteers for his neuroscience startup. Last year he used rats and this year he went further into evolution and used pigs.

While last year we just saw a rat posing coyly for a photograph with a Neuralink connected via an USB port, this year it was the turn of a pig strutting around with the Entrepreneur chaperoning it.

Gertrude, as the pig was lovingly called, was said to have its brain implanted with a small computer for two months.

This was at a live stream event to recruit employees for his Neuroscience startup, Neuralink. The small computer is a small coin-sized implant in Gertrude’s brain and described as a “fitbit in the skull with tiny wires”.

While the previous design meant for humans had super thin wires, thinner than the human hair, connected to a device mounted behind the ear, the new device is much smaller, does not require the ear device and has been claimed to be implantable directly in the brain by a surgical robot under local anaesthesia.

The goal of Neuralink is creating a wireless brain-machine interface with the hope of curing neurological conditions and allow paralyzed people to control a computer mouse, among other things.

The device is said to be removable and the entrepreneur showed off Dorothy, another pig, whom he claimed, had one of the devices implanted in its brain and subsequently removed.

While the goal of the entrepreneur is commendable, I couldn’t help but smile that the humble pig is playing a significant role in making progress towards a world where artificial intelligence would take on a whole new meaning.

Would the insult, “You swine” be taken as flattery in the future? Just thinking…

Yatindra Tawde

book review

A fallen leaf – a book review

Book title – A fallen leaf

An anthology of short stories

Author – various

No. Of pages – 132

A Fallen leaf is a collection of 15 short stories by 15 different writers. True to its title, there are various aspects to each story but all dwelling upon myriad emotions. 

After a fall, whether it is a physical fall or an emotional one, it is the inherent nature of a human being to try and get up and move on. 

The anthology is a combination of stories of hope, of romance, of drama and some comic. Some stories connect with the reader instantly whereas some need time to savour them.

I will start with my favourite one; All for the blossoms by Em Kay which tells the story of a protagonist who spares his valuable time for the most important person in his life and how this gesture enriches both their lives.

A mosaic on the Garden floor by Sharanya Mishra is a story told from the point of view of a fallen maple leaf, as it flies from the life of one family to another, each facing it’s own challenges, some facing them with strength while some breaking down.

Two Pilgrims by Rham Dhel is a thought provoking story of two Pilgrims coming from opposite social background. Read it to savour it’s message of living in tune with nature, of becoming one with it.

Refugee by Kaushik Mujumdar is gut wrenching, highlighting the futility of war where no one is the winner.

Varied Moods, Varied Seasons by Sitharaam Jayakumar is a take on seasons where parallels are drawn with the human life which moves from good times to not so good times and the importance of maintaining sustainable relationships with near and dear ones.

The Mis(fit) by Saravjot Hansrao highlights the importance of having confidence in one’s own abilities irrespective of outward appearances when you are being subjected to body shaming.

Hope by Srikant Singha Ray is a story of overcoming one’s own fears.

The funeral by Nilutpal Gohain, contrary to its title is a comic take on a generally serious situation.

Behind the Bars by Kajal Kapur captures the fatalistic emotional state of life behind bars through the eyes of two inmates.

The other stories in this anthology  are good too and overall the anothology achieves what it set out to do.

The poems composed by Olinda Braganza to introduce each story are an added attraction in, ‘A fallen leaf, for the poetry enthusiasts.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

What’s in a name…

What’s in a name? You might ask. 

I was forced to ask due to an ongoing trending story on social media.

Poor Shakespeare would turn in his grave when he comes to know, how his world famous quote from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has been appropriated today by an Indian named ‘Binod’.

For those who don’t know their Shakespeare, in his ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Juliet famously says, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But Shakespeare had to write many masterpieces of English literature for his dialogues to become so famous as to be recalled by millions of his fans, sometimes out of context.

But this Indian named ‘Binod’ became famous, or rather, atleast his name became famous, so much so that the Who’s who of the world started quoting the name to stress various messages, which they would like to put across to the people.

What did this Binod do? It’s just a comment, did I say? Well, yes and no. A user called Binod Tharu has been doing nothing on YouTube. Yes, he has done nothing. 

Nothing except adding his first name Binod, in the comments section of huge number of YouTube videos uploaded on any and every subject under the Social media Sun. 

This was enough to troll him (an international sport?) with Binod memes and the rest as they say, is history. These Binod memes became so famous that national and international brands jumped on the bandwagon.

Swiggy celebrated their birthday with the tweet, ‘We think Binod will be the first person to call and wish us at 12 tonight’.

Airtel India exhorted it’s users to ‘Receive every call with Haan Binod bol’, asking them to comment and tag them with the reactions.

Amazon Prime video IN joined in the fun by using a still from the movie ‘Kuch kuch hota hai’ and saying, ‘Hi, I am Binod, naam toh suna hi hoga’.

But as usual the Mumbai Police twitter handle rocked with their own comment, ‘Dear Binod, we hope your name is not your online password. It’s pretty viral, change it now.” This was for their Online safety campaign.

Sometimes one doesn’t need to do something earth shattering to become famous nowadays, especially on the social media space, a humble well placed comment or comments are enough.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Tales with a Twist – A book review

Title – Tales with a Twist

An Anthology of short stories

Author – Varadharajan Ramesh

No. Of pages – 64

If you love stories with unexpected twists, look no further. Though this Anthology is the Author’s first published one, you can easily discern that he is no amateur.

There are 17 stories on varied subjects but each story succeeds in its own way, where the ending is quite unexpected though at the same time,  logical. In some of the stories, the twist made me curious to re-read the story and understand how the author has set it up for an unexpected ending. 

I won’t be reviewing each of the 17 stories but some, which made me go, ‘Oh, wow!’

It starts with a bang with ‘Repairing Cushions’ which brings a smile to your face when the reason for having this uncommon title becomes apparent at the end of the story.

‘Innocence’ says many things in so few words and certainly hits the nail on its head. A hard-hitting message there.

‘Dependent’ is a story of many families which shocks you with an unexpected ending.

Then I must mention my most favourite story in this Anthology, ‘The Troubles of Time Travel’ where two gentlemen argue and debate most seriously and scientifically on the possibility of Time Travel only to reveal the most mundane of reasons at the end. I loved the author’s thought process in constructing this story and his very obvious interest in time travel.

‘Good Ol’ Coop’ seems to be one story but when it ends it is a totally different one and gives a stark glimpse into what might happen if the usual human food supply dries up and the drastic solutions a man could think up, to survive.

‘Lonely’ is another story with a science background, this time on the loneliness of space.

‘Ultra’ captures the mindless violence indulged in by sports fans without any thought to the consequences.

All in all, an excellent read.

Yatindra Tawde

horror

A new world

After a long winding process of checking whether the bank branch is open or not, I make my way towards it. Yes, such checks are needed in these CoVid times, such is the uncertainty. 

Upon reaching, I extend my hand to push open the swinging door when suddenly the watchman rises from his stool and stands between me and the door. He points a gun and aims it between my eyes. I recoil in terror but then I realise that it is the plastic one measuring my temperature. Like it happens to many others who undergo this ritual, I don’t know whether to look at the gun with squinted eyes or just close them. “Theek hai”, he growls.

Again I extend my hand to open the door, when the watchman barks, “Ungli…”. Embarrassed, I raise my little finger and tell him, “No, no…I don’t want to go now”. With irritation in his voice, he shouts, “Arre, no! Your forefinger. Gentleman people like you, you don’t know even this?”

I don’t know where to hide my face as I feel a million eyes looking at me. I raise my forefinger, which he puts inside an oximeter. After few seconds which feel like an eternity he mumbles, “Ok”.

“Show me your hands”, he orders. He is really enjoying his current position of power. Being at the receiving end, I extend both my hands. Out of nowhere he fetches a dispenser and squirts few drops of sanitizer on my hands.

“Go!” He says and stands back, taking full precautions not to touch me even by mistake.

“And don’t take off your mask”. That’s his parting shot. 

This, then friends, is the new world where you are forced to wear masks and gloves inside the bank and the watchman points a gun point-blank between your eyes, outside.

Yatindra Tawde