Ahmedabad: Remains of a city – prologue

Here we are, too foreign for the home, too foreign for here, neither enough for both.-  Ijeoma Umebinyuo

 

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Window art of Sidi Saiyyed Mosque

Today I was coming from the fish market of old Ahmedabad, and suddenly I realized how long I have been living here ! Seven years of my late twenties !. That is a long period of considering one’s quality life span. This is the city where we, me and my partner Swapna, started our lives together. This is the city where our son Milan Azad was conceived. And I have completed my doctoral study from here. Its true beyond doubt that this city means a lot to me. When I was crossing the underpass near Gandhi bridge, it occurred to me “why not writing the experiences of this city ? “.

I am not so great in exploring new places. So obviously I haven’t  seen even 30% of Ahmedabad. So I cant give a complete description of the entire city.  During the ride from that underpass to my quarters near IIM, many incidents and places occurred to me which will be worth sharing. But when I sad down to write something my brain started elimination round. Many of them felt too personal experiences, which sometime I feel its pointless to share. Fear of incompleteness and monotonous  descriptions overpowered my enthusiasm of writing. Thus I decided to write this prologue. Honestly, I dont know what I am going to write. It may so happen that I might leave it after two or three articles.

Now, how do I proceed?As of now I have decided to do it in a random fashion. First I thought I will tell my experience in a time ordered manner. But later that felt to be too monotonic. Another question is that in what perspective I will describe it. Gujrat and Ahmedabad has great importance and relevance in Indian politics with its  notorious history of riots. Certainly this was my first concern while coming to Ahmedabad. I am not going to be too political in the description. However, I don’t think I can be completely apolitical throughout.

So here is the plan. I wish to write some of my experiences and fun and discoveries of Ahmedabad which is essentially what remains when you leave the place. Many of them, I wish, will be relatable to you. Essentially it might be a diary of memories about the city.

# most of the pictures that I share are my random shots. I will be mentioning otherwise

 

Wildfire in my room

Its, too far

Probably nothing to worry

Wind is still cold.

But

Am I the only one

Who is smelling the fire ?

No, I am not insane,

Here it is !

My floor is on fire !

My books, bed and the pillows

Bansuri flute given by my late teacher

All are burning down

It catches the wall and holds on to

Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam”.

It burns the top right of the canvas

Yah ! the brain god is burning !

Resisting to become ashes, it burns and burns..

Thus in the midst of this metropolitan city,

In this multi storied building

A room burned down of wildfire tonight

Silently, invisibly, anonymously.

 

Image: From movie Sacrifice  by Tarkovsky

How real and original our emotions are ? What does “Westworld” tells you ?

We hardly think about how our predictable actions and responses are. Recently I noticed something which was too wired. I found that I used to use same sentences without even a change of a word or characters for a particular thing in far different instants of time. I noticed when checking the way I save files especially file names. For different experiments when I had to take similar kind of measurements, I often use the same wired file names  !  Same goes with a mail, too. So does it mean that, given the same or similar initial conditions, our brains are restricted to give the same response? Then how far we are from a super robot?
Image result for Dr. Robert westworld
I generally keep my distance from philosophy as it tend to play with our rationality. The new HBO web series “Westworld”opened me up for a philosophical quest about the nature of “originality” of our experiences. There was one particular scene which I felt worth mentioning. Its on episode 8 of season 1.   Don’t worry I am not giving the spoilers.
The HBO describes the series like this
The one-hour drama series Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.
Humans creates a huge park with many characters played by artificial intelligent human like robots. Tourists come there to satisfy their wildness, lust, curiosity etc.  Dr. Robert, played by Antony Hopkins, with his companion Arnold, built the place 30 years ago. Arnold, who was concerned about the emotions of the artificial humans whom they called hosts,  died in the westworld (the park) long back. I wont go much into the story.
The interesting characters are of course the hosts. They are programmed to to respond particularly to every situation, and by experiences they are allowed to improvise their characters. Even in such cases the program can display his/her next words and actions. But the world is too chaotic and any evolution in line are really susceptible to the initial conditions. So an infinite parameters infinite loop artificial intelligence and a human mind are not so different. But human mind is also not with infinite options to a given question. So at one point one cannot differentiate between an artificial intelligence which is destined to respond according to an algorithm and human. Here is a dialogue between the creator Dr. Robert and one of his creation. At one instant he realize that he is not a real human and then questions the reality of his emotions.
Image result for Dr. Robert westworld
Mr. X : I do not understand the things that I feel. Are they real ?  the things I experienced, my wife, the loss of my son. 
Dr. Robert : Every host needs a backstory Mr. X, you know that. The self is a kind of fiction.For hosts and humans alike. Its a story we tell our self and every story need a beginning.  Your imagined suffering makes you life like

 

Mr. X: “Life like” but not alive? Pain only exist in the mind, its always imagined. So what is the difference between my pain and yours? between you and me?

Dr. Robert : This was the very question that consumed Arnold. Filled him with guilt eventually drove him mad.  The answer always seemed obvious to me.There is no threshold, that makes us greater than some of our parts , no inflection point which we become fully alive. We can’t define the consciousness because consciousness doesn’t exist. Humans fancy that there is something special about the way we perceive the world, and yet we live in loops. as tights and closed as the hosts do. Seldom questioning our choices, content for the most part to be told what to do next. No my friend, you are not missing anything at all. 

The scene is so intense especially with Antony Hopkins voice. I am loving the show. The show kept me thinking about the wonder of human intellect and creativity. But is it really necessary to be a biological human to have those?  I believe that the free will of the human brain comes from the complexity of the very brain and its neuron network. So an electronic (or any other artificial) network which offer’s number of solutions to choose for a given problem and be able to process from the experiences which will be used in choosing the solutions in the next time can essentially replace a human brain. Our feel of the self is due to the brain. So  if  such network can be achieved one can transfer her/his self to the network and be immortal !

The Goddamn Particle!

Science is a rational and methodological approach to study the universe. Mythical stories and blind believes are of no importance in the scientific progress. It progresses through the analysis of theories, counter theories and proofs. So it is not a wonder if one gets surprised when he/she hear “Scientists invented God Particle!. The so called tag of God has invoked hell a lot of misconceptions among the layman.

The subatomic fundamental particle Higgs Boson (named after Peter Higgs and Indian scientist S.N Bose), for which its existence has not been proved unambiguously, is known as the “God particle” .  It is  the Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman who coined  it in his book titled “The God Particle- If Universe Is The Answer, What Is The Question”.  Initially he decided to give the name “Goddamn particle”, which he found more appropriate,  but the publisher was not agreeing on that. So that was a commercial name (!) for the publicity of the book. Peter Higgs himself told “it has nothing to do with God, but I can understand why people go that way because it is so important to our understanding of nature”.

The experimental proof of its (Higgs Boson) existence has a major impact in particle physics and cosmology. The existence and non existence will result the validation or rejection ( a kind of) of The Standard Model of particle physics.  That may encouraged  Leon Lederman  to give such name. Otherwise it has no connection with GOD or SATAN !.

The standard model deals with the fundamental particles and forces in the universe.  It contains 6 quarks, 6 leptons (eg. electron) and four gauge bosons (force carriers eg. photon) and studies about their interactions.  It had flourished after the unification of electromagnetic and weak forces (1968). Out of the 4 gauge bosons W and Z bosons are massive particle. But adding a rest mass to them violates some basic laws ( gauge invariance). One solution was the introduction of Higgs mechanism in which the particle interacts with Higgs field and gains the mass. The quantization of Higgs field results the Higgs Boson. W and Z bosons have been detected experimentally in1983.  The ambiguity was about Higgs Boson.  For its detection, scientists initiated big experiments like ATLAS and CMS in the Large Hadron Collider. The experiments involve  collision between  high energy proton beams. In 2012 April they achieved individual beam energy as 4 TeV resulting a collisional energy of 8 TeV. By 2014 they are planning to increase it up to 7 TeV for individual beams and 14 TeV for the collision.

ON July 4, 2012 they have announced about the detection of a particle with mass 126GeV in 5 sigma confidence level (99.999%).  This is  most likely to be the Higgs Boson. But the more detailed conformation has not come yet. If it is Higgs, this will be the greatest victory of Standard Model. If it is not, something more exotic is waiting to be revealed.

Democracy Hunts the Green !

Kill kill and kill
The nation is supposed to be proud of the
The states triumph over the people.
It took their land,
Destroyed their lives ,
Grabbed  the farmer’s fields and
Gave to the MNC hands.
When we, the people protest
You talk of Gandism
And when  state act
It is  like
Hitler, Mussolini, Bush…
In the AC rooms ,
State talks about freedom.
In the forest,
It acts as weapon.
Kill kill kill again
Kill your own people
Who lacks lands
Who lost lives..
Who dont know the
Elegant Gandhian protest
(How one fast when he has nothing to eat)
Kill the poor, miserables, dalits
Kill all who disturbs your comforts
And ask the middle class
To proud of our democracy.

Thank you Manmoham! for India’s globalized poverty

Dear Manmohan Singh,

You will be one of the prime ministers who is remembered by his people all along. Infact how can we forget a minister like you who is trying to make our lives more miserable?

In the early 90s you have given us some fascinating dreams in the name of liberalization, privatization and  glottalization (LPG). Your economic wizards told the public “look, we are going to be global; all of us will get job and we can enjoy the global quality products”.  Indian democracy easily adopted the idea of market economy  designed by the capitalistic forces. You have opened our socio-economic system to the global market .

You told  that the customer will be benefited by the competition between the markets. Still the price of essential commodities increased exponentially.  The people who were with small scale industries and daily businesses  had a brake down in their area. They lost the market and many people, directly or indirectly lost their way of income.  We, the people didn’t had any strength to fight with the global market and corporates.   (How a chai wala can compete with McDonald’s ?)  Our small scale industries, day by day got weakened and are at the verge of extinction. Still you made us happy by saying “see how many got the job!”. You made us selfish. We never thought  if 10 of the people got employed, 100s lost their income due to the perish of local industry.

You have privatized  everything. Education, health, electricity, water, roads and what else?  Every government after your famous economic minister ship, followed your path explicitly. The BJP government crossed record on selling the government shares on public sector. They sold VSNL to Tata, privatized the higher education.

 You told us fall of  value of Indian rupee will bring more foreign investment.  Now its value is decided by the inverters! We lost our ethnicity.  You gave a dream of varieties.  But now it is monotonous. Cochin seems similar to Mumbai, Banglore or Ahmedabad.  Every where you go there are same malls, Mc Donalds, multiplexes ; same food, same language and same culture.

By cheap labor you gave jobs to some of them and took back the money through the corporate shops.  You stopped the money flow to the bottom and increased the poverty. More over you made a country where people will not react seriously. You are successful on keeping them asleep. In your ten years of ruling , the farmers have no increase in their income, teachers and government employees have a little increase and small scale  industries and their employees are in the question of survival. (You could maintain the GDP by making new Tatas and Ambanis  ). According to the interest of oil companies you increased the price of petrol. From an initial value of  RS 37 to present price of 75 and  still counting !.

  You made this country a heaven for the exploiting class and hell for the working class.  You should know that there is a braking point at which people will wake up. It is not that far.  Now we know that you and your party people are working for corporate.  The time and people of India will never forgive you for this.

With voice of protest,

A common man.

Koodamkulam project

 ”  They are saying, sacrifices are necessary for development. Our question is that whose sacrifice and who will be developed.”””  
  Stop the Koodamkulam project. People’s lives are more important than foreign investments. How India, a country which cannot assure the road safety, can be expected to provide a safe nuclear power. We have seen the horrible situation of Japan, a country which is said to be technologically sound, at the time of 2010 Tsunami. After which, many countries like France, started shutting down the nuclear power plants. On what cause they are expecting this (Koodamkulam)  to be stable!