Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Stranger in a Strange Land

Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist — a master — and that is what Auguste Rodin was — can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is… and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be…. and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely young girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her heart…. no matter what the merciless hours have done to her. Look at her, Ben. Growing old doesn't matter to you and me; we were never meant to be admired."

"Because the world has gone nutty and contemporary art always paints the spirit of its times. Rodin died about the time the world started flipping its lid. His successors noted the amazing things he had done with light and shadow and mass and composition and they copied that part. What they failed to see was that the master told stories that laid bare the human heart. They became contemptuous of painting or sculpture that told a stories — they dubbed such work 'literary.' They went all out for abstractions. Jubal shrugged. "Abstract design is all right — for wall paper or linoleum. But art is the process of evoking pity and terror. What modern artists do is pseudo-intellectual masturbation. Creative art is intercourse, in which the artist renders emotional his audience. These laddies who won't deign to do that — or can't — lost the public."
  Robert Helinien in Stranger in a Strange Land,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why There Is So Much Cynicism Toward AAP ?

I realise fully that at this moment I am as futile as Howard Roark. This is my Stoddard Temple—my first and my last.
Dominique Francon in Fountain Head 

I am not a political person . Till date I have never exercised my vote. My stand on politics is very similar to my stand on religion . Informed, appreciative but agnostic. Agnostic because I couldn’t relate to any of the option available to me .Both religion and politics were good concepts but they have been mutilated beyond recognition .I come to hate the entire system in which this skirmish is played out .

But fortunately something interesting was happening in Indian politics for past few months . The Rise of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Its Head Mr.Arvind Kejriwal . Its interesting observing the reaction and response of political parties . They dismissed them . They dismissed them with a self righteous arrogance . Than they changed their tone after election.

The same set of people who used to call them everything from Chaar Aadmi Party to Chillar Party before election. After the election they invited them to form the govt .

The same guys who referred to Arvind kejiriwal as everything from hopelessly romantic to stupidly naive to someone with ulterior evil agenda . Were holding him morally responsible for not forming govt and having a hung assembly .

The same set of corrupt jokers who robed Delhi for decades were worried about the burden of re election on Tax payer .One congress leader had even called them DOG . Now congress is the one wagging their tail to AAP.

Honestly never before I have seen a bigger show of hypocrisy in broad day light . This is like eating the crow even by political standard . This is EPIC and will be part of history books illustrating how bunch of spineless weasels react to a worthy adversary .

But this post is not about these weasels . they are probably doing what they know best . At some level their tactics are understandable .

More interesting thing to observe in this drama is the reaction of common people . The same people who would be ruled ( and may be exploited ) by elected govt. I see a surprisingly high level of cynicism amongst them. They are holding AAP to a level of scrutiny which is bordering paranoia . This AAP bashing reached its crescendo couple of days back when AAP called for a referendum.Asking people to share their opinion on govt formation .This was un precedented in Indian politics. A step toward a participatory democracy which bought public involvement in democratic decision making to new level. For the first time public voice was a factor outside of election. In a rational , sane world this should have been welcomed by the people . The same people who stand to become ultimate beneficiary of this trend. But sadly and surprisingly a big section of people are uncomfortable with this and they are holding AAP responsible for asking them for their input . Whats more astonishing is that its not the case that AAP is introducing this direct referendum idea now. They talked about it before also .See this video at 1 hour mark . Aarvind talked about direct democracy and referendum long before he won election . Still people are cynical . Still People don’t trust him .

It begs the question WHY ?

A Childhood Story :

Surprisingly as I was observing these events I couldn’t help remembering an incident from my childhood . Back in the day my grandfather used to give me a lot of religious story books . In one of those book their was a story by name of Gajendra Moksha . Its a story of an old elephant who, when He was about to be killed by a crocodile called out god for help and god intervened and rescued him from the Jaws of crocodile.

There was another story of A king named Harishchandra. Harishchandra had two unique qualities. The first being, he kept his word and never went back on what he uttered as a promise. The other being, he never uttered a lie in his life.These twin qualities were tested heavily in his life by various circumstances . All these test were crafted and orchastrated by our gods to test Harishchandra .

Now here is an interesting aspect of these two stories which most of us fail to notice. When bad guy( crocodile ) was going after the good guy ( elephant) Good guy had to specifically call the God to help . God never intervened on his own . But when God noticed that a Good guy ( Harishchandra ) is going around doing good work . It was too much of a pain for god to stay out of it and let him do his work. On the contrary our God went out of his way to create circumstances where Harishchandra was put to test . From snatching his kingdom , to making him homeless to killing his son . God orchestrated all those scenarios where his resolve to do good work and live an honest life was put to test . In plain english Harishchandra was harassed by god for doing exactly the right Thing . Nobody invited god . God acted suo moto .

Think of it.

When bad guy harasses the good guy , good guy need to call god for help god do not come on his own but when Good guy do good thing god jumps in uninvited to test him to death, harasses and make life hell for the good guy . Its pretty evident that our god is also very cynical. In fact one can make a case that in doing so god is incentivizing his followers to be bad guys or( worse) to be passive guy who do no good or no bad . Just don’t take any stand .

I shared this observation with my grandfather once , His answer was “you can’t understand GOD’s way by applying logic . You can only understand it by having faith .God knows whats best and he will take care of you”. I am sure my grandfather is not the only one to think like that. We are a society indoctrinated by this idea . Its often said that god created man in his own image .Now man has perfected the ways of god . Congratulations! We have become god like in our approach. We want good guys to exist only in books as a theoretical construct . Every time we see a good guy inreal life we go after them with vengeance .AAP and Kejirwal are just an anomaly trying foolishly to fight the forces of god . They will go away . We will trivialise them and drive them out to the point of irrelevance . Who the hell they think they are ? Harishchandra ?

Deep in our heart we want them to fail. We want our heroes to be corrupt so that we can feel good about ourselves . So that we reconcile our own miserable , spineless existence . So that we can live with ourselves and look at our own face in the mirror every morning . For If Kejriwal and AAP are allowed to exist.We will be faced with this question everyday ? Why ,Where and for what did we betrayed our own inner kejriwal ? This is not an easy question to live with .

Parting Thoughts :

In The Fountainhead , Howard Roark builds Stoddard Temple :A Temple of Human Spirit. Where he want to show people what human spirit is capable of achieving and how pure it can be . It annoys enough people and their idea of God and Human that they get a court order and get the temple bulldozed. Let me say it in no uncertain terms . AAP is the Stoddard Temple of contemporary India and we are trying our best to destroy it. We need to save it not for Kejriwal but for ourselves . For our inner kejriwal which we betrayed at some point long long back.

As the story progress in Fountainhead , The protagonist goes on to be subjected to a lot of hardship and betrayal but eventually gets his due recognition and rightful place in world. I don’t know what will become of AAP and Kejriwal . But I hope for our own good that we realise what he stands for and do it before its too late . I doubt if my appeal will make any difference to the indoctrinated ears of my fellow people. I realise fully that at this moment I am as futile as Howard Roark. This is my Stoddard Temple—my first and my last.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wrath Of Gods

Picture above is poster of invitation to a religious ceremony in india .  As a statutory warning it says  that whoever  will try to move this poster  will probably have bad luck coming his way .  My friend paras posted this on facebook yesterday . Since they used the term "probably" and since  product we are  building at Signals deals with prediction and probability so I thought I should give it a shot to predict the probability of someone getting cursed with bad luck if He/ She try to remove /Flip this poster .

According to Bayes Theorem

P( Bad luck/Flip ) = [P(Flip/Bad Luck) X P(Bad Luck) ] /P(Flip)


P( Bad luck / Flip) : Probability that you will have bad luck , Given the fact that you fliped the board . 

P(Flip/Bad Luck) : Probability that someone who is unlucky has flipped the board . since  not all the unlucky person got to see the board so this probability is very low . 

P(Bad Luck) : Probability that any random person will have badluck . Since most people in world think that they are unlucky so this  will be very high .   

P(Flip ) = Probability that some random guy will flip the board . this will be low initially since most people don’t give a shit . one way or another . but if you expose it to enough number of stupid people ( like the author of this post  ). they will try it  just to see if it works . but initially it will be very small. 

so now we have this situation 

P( Bad luck/Flip )= [small number X Large Number ] / (Small number which can be large ).

Conclusion : 

There is a high probability that if you are amongst the first one to flip it  God almighty will punish you. but if you are the 1000th person to flip it than may be it wont be that big a deal for god almighty . 
Jai Mata Di
Photo Credit : @paraschopra 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Remembering Aaron

Before I started this blog I used to spend a lot of time on Reddit  . One of my key motivation behind starting this blog was to write something which make it to the home page of Reddit .  It's taking a little monger than my initial estimate. I discovered Reddit  through a amazing blog Raw Thoughts  .Author of that blog was co founder of Reddit. He was and still is one of the smartest guy and one of the most insightful blogger  I know  .  His name was Aaron Swartz . A  teenager in USA who wrote specification of RSS. Worked along side Tim Berners Lee . He co founded Reddit  and after selling it to Conde Nast he became a full time political activist . sometime back he was in news for cracking into MIT Network and putting entire JASTR library in public domain .

  He committed sucide today . 

I was busy working in  my office. Enjoying warmth of direct sunlight on my back when I saw a tweet by Nilesh  My heart sunk . It was like someone has  punched me in my guts . It was hard to believe that Aaron Swartz is dead ,that he is not between us anymore . What is harder to believe is that he chose such a cruel way to say good bye . I went out for a walk,read some tweet till I couldn't read them anymore . I saw that Larry Lessig and Corry Doctrow  has written something about him . There  is a story in NY Times too . World will gradually wake up to the news . I went back to work . In the evening I went for dinner with friends . I was cracking jokes and it was a fun evening . I am back in my apartment  now and I was expecting that I will have courage to read those post now . I was wrong . I still can't look at them . I am writing this as much to distract myself from the objective finality of his demise as to share what I am feeling . sharing part is secondary .This will take sometime to sink in . I don't know how to deal with it.

I am not such a avid reader of Reddit any more. I moved on to slashdot, Hacker News and  now I spend an awful lot of time on Quora . But till this day  Raw Thoughts is my fave blog . the simplicity and depth of his writing is simply out of this world . Achieving such depth at an age of 25 is superhuman . I owe somuch of my learning to Aaron that loosing him seems like loosing your favorite teacher . you thought you had all your life to learn from him but one day ..boom ...he is gone . you are alone in this sea.your lighthouse is vanished .

I won't lie I looked upto him with a bit teenagers-ish  enthusiasm and reverence . When I had long hairs  I used to comb it like him . I followed his advice on book reading and it helped me in reading more than 50 books in a year .  Like him I also posted annual review of books . I must confess that I used to be a bit uncomfortable around gays and homosexuals. Though I respected them as individual and their choices but i was still uncomfortable . It was Arron's post which helped be understand  and deconstruct my thoughts  . Today I have few gay friends and I am totally comfortable around them . His post about smart folks helped me understand why smart people are smart  and His post about Hot  Girls made understand why my dating life sucked . His interpretation of Batman Movie and Toy Story make you look at them in entirely different light .  His most recent series Raw Nerves was amazing . I can go on and on here . Its not necessary  . All I can say is that you should read his blog archive  here . you won't regret it .

In his post on how to believe that you can bring a change in world and in yourself . He mentions this
Growth mindset has become a kind of safe word for my partner and I. Whenever we feel the other person getting defensive or refusing to try something because “I’m not any good at it”, we say “Growth mindset!” and try to approach the problem as a chance to grow, rather than a test of our abilities. It’s no longer scary, it’s just another project to work on.
Just like life itself.

Sadly He himself couldn't hold the faith and left us alone. In a post on this blog i had mentioned that i wanted to meet him whenever i visit USA .    I went to US last year and I dropped an email to him but he didn't responded . I thought may be we will meet some other time . Life is long . I was wrong . Life is uncertain . I won't be meeting him now in this life . I will have to leave one item unchecked in my bucket list .

Thank You Aaron . I am a better person because of your work . You were my hero and I learned a lot of things from you . Goodbye My friend. May your soul Rest in peace .

PS: I wrote this post directly in Blog editor and without any co herence of narration or structure . so excuse me if it seems like a rant to you .  I choose not to write about role of  alleged harassment of aaron which drove him to commit suicide . Am I angry ? Yes  But All this seems so meaningless  now .

Friday, December 07, 2012

Spirit Indestructible

Watch this video and ask this question to yourself

What the Fuck is your excuse ? 

Saturday, September 22, 2012


वो ही प्रसाद की कामायनी , वो ही बच्चन की  मधुशाला 
वो  ही दरवेश का मदमस्त नर्त्य , वो  ही है रूमी का प्याला . 
वो  ही  सूरज  की  उषण किरण , वो  ही बरखा का घन काला 
वो ही है पथिक की म्रगत्रष्णा  , और उसके परौं का छाला 

वो  है मन की  वो कस्तूरी , जो व्याकुल मुझे कर जाती है 
है क्षतिज पार जो स्वपन लोक , वो उसकी कथा सुनाती है 

मेरे मन की इस सीपी में , वो स्वाति  बूँद बन  आती  है

अब  बूँद बन रही है  मोती , अब मुझको कुछ वर्ष तड़पना है
कभी नींद नहीं टूटे  जिसमे , देखा मैंने वो सपना है  
है स्वप्न सृजन कुछ करने का , जिसका पहले  अस्तित्व ना हो  
जो खुद पहचान घड़े अपनी , जिसमे  " कर्ता " का  भी व्यक्तित्व हो  

पर  देख स्वप्न के रस्ते में , कितने कंकाल लटकते हैं 
जो हैं निद्रा से   जाग चुके  , वो स्वप्न द्रष्टा भटकते हैं . 
आगे ना जाने देते मुझे, वो मिल कर मुझको  खीच रहे. 
है चकित  मेरे दुसाहस पर , निज कायरता पे खीझ   रहे
है द्वंध हो रहा दोनों में , मेरी इच्छा , उनका अनुभव 
देखें जीते रचना मेरी , या हो विजयी उनका भवितव 

कस्तूरी मुझ से कहती है , ना विचलित हो कोलाहल से 
जगती ने  तेरे  पथ  कंटक , सीचे "अनुभव " हाला हल से .
 ये सब जो तेरे शुभ चिन्तक , जो बता रहे हैं जग की प्रथा 
है ज्ञान नहीं , है सत्य नहीं , वो है बस उनकी आत्म कथा 
 वो अहंकार  के घुड़सवार , वो   सुर सरिता में तर ना सके
 था बंद उनका ह्रदय कलश , जीवन का रस  वो भर ना सके .
तेरा साथी इस पथ पर , तेरा प्रेम है , तेरा समर्पण है 
जो खीच रहा हम दोनों को , ये वो अनजाना आकर्षण है .  
कस्तूरी कहती " ओ सर्जक  ! तू  संग मेरे ही  रमण करना , 
में देखूं राह  क्षितिज पे तेरी , तू आके मेरा वरण करना " 

में चला जा रहा क्षितिज और , में आपनी धुन में मतवाला 
ना चुभते मुझको पथ कंटक , ना दुखता पैरों का छाला 
 खड़ी मुस्काती  दूर गोधूली में , वो देखो कस्तूरी बाला  
pic credit : Ekta 

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Dear Readers

This is a long overdue post . some updates are due from my end . I am on to a new adventure. I am finally doing my own startup . Last month, I  along with two of my friends co founded this tiny little company named Signals.

We have big ambitions for our venture. We are trying to build something magical for your smartphone. If you are interested in smartphone and cloud services than I suggest you should sign up for our beta .

We will be documenting  our journey at signals at our official blog Signal Flow . This space will continue with its regular theme of rants , chants and a little bit of wisdom. 


Prashant Singh
Co-Founder , Signals .