Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ajmer's culture police Vs. blogs' anti-taliban squad

The blogs seem to have converged on to the ‘talibanisation’ of Indian culture theme based on this BBC story about the Ajmer district administration posting guidelines to "educate foreign tourists about local culture and sensibilities." Ashutosh, Mridula and Sepia Mutiny have separately talked about this issue

My first reaction to the story was similar to theirs. “Just another ploy by the district administration to enforce a morality code.” The context provided in the BBC article and the non-derisive tone of it however made me ponder whether it is really as reprehensible as the blogopshere is portraying it to be.

Our reactions to such stories are no less stereotypical and predictable than reaction of a Shiv Sainik to skimpy dresses. We tune out and look at all of them as an attempt to enforce antiquated views, missing the nuances and the context of the particular case.
The context provided by BBC was revealing. The case of the Israeli couple kissing after a Hindu wedding in a temple had happened in Pushkar, which is 14 km away from Ajmer city and part of Ajmer district administration. There was a hue and cry after this incident happened. It was a spontaneous reaction of the locals, since they found kissing inside a temple unacceptable. Therefore, I think, it is fair to assume that kissing in public might affect local sensitivities. In fact the couple was charged Rs. 500 by the court. The other example provided about the Finnish lady walking naked on the streets was bizarre and I am sure is a one-off incident.

The following are the guidelines:

· Men should never touch women in public, even to help a woman out of a car, unless the lady is very elderly or infirm
· In Indian culture... men socialise with men, and women with women
· Married couples in Asia do not hug, hold hands or kiss in public. Even embracing at airports and train stations is considered out of the question
· Generally it is improper for women to speak with strangers on the street and especially to strike up a casual conversation
· Drinking alcohol or smoking in public, no matter how innocent, are interpreted as a sign of moral laxity and are not acceptable.

Given our socio-cultural background and the India that we have lived in, these seem 18th century norms. But what is wrong with posting guidelines? Nobody is getting fined. There is no possibility of a jail term. The tourist is free to flaunt them if he/she deems fit without any hassles, apart from those he/she might face from the local population. One might argue that this may dissuade the tourists from coming to Ajmer and lead to loss of revenue. Since the tourist is the customer we ought to be catering to his/her needs not ours. But a tourist is not your regular customer. He/she is visiting the tourist location to experience the art/architecture/customs/culture of that place. In fact, wont packaging the experience smartly by allowing them to live the way locals do for 4-5 days might be a better marketing strategy. The egalitarian cosmopolitan ‘untalibanised’ India they can experience in the Bombays and the Bangalores, but a tourist comes to Rajasthan precisely for the exotic. The guidelines might actually help improve tourism as locals may not balk and react adversely by trying to protect their culture by banning tourism altogether or for that matter look at the tourists condescendingly for their ‘lack of moral values.’ Besides tourism isn’t about fostering a melting pot culture. It is about getting a flavour of the place. And I don’t see any reason why the place should change its social norms to accommodate the tourists.

The next thing I say may be very touchy. I am not saying that this is true, but just as a matter of conjecture. We need to reflect whether part of this stems from our inferiority complex vis-a-vis western culture. I know I am going out on a limb here. But if this were the other way round, and tomorrow a lot of tourists from India started visiting the United States and while walking around in public gardens begin plucking flowers or shouting out to each other in public places or go to a national park split in groups and start playing antakshari singing songs at the top of their lungs or do something that goes against the accepted normal behaviour in the U.S., then do you think the Americans wont post any guidelines? I am willing to bet the district administration may consider imposing a fine. That no Indian will do such a thing is because we immediately consider the social norms of a western country as innately superior and therefore try to be as discreet about our own wants and sensibilities. That is not to say that we should go ahead and start playing and screaming songs under moonlit sky when visiting Yellowstone or Shenandoah, (those Grizzlies and the Deer might file a lawsuit!) but just as we automatically respect others’ customs and social norms what is wrong in expecting Western tourists to respect ours? And while we are deriding the guidelines the affected people find it perfectly reasonable. The tourist couple quoted in the article think they make sense.

"It is quite important to know things beforehand about local sensibilities, like covering your arms and not getting too close to your partner in public."

Her partner, Wayne, says: "We do not kiss or embrace each other in public because I know it is not liked here. When you open up a bottle of beer you can make out from the looks around you, it is not liked," he says.

He is saying it that he can sense the resentment about drinking in public. The guideline about public drinking is more for protection of the tourists themselves, to avoid somebody hitting on them just because they are drunk. Loathsome though it is the reality is that Indian men immediately assume that a woman who drinks is ‘available.’ This happens in the hippest of pubs in cosmopolitan cities let alone Ajmer. Why then is it so condemnable to state the obvious that Ajmerians interpret drinking in public as morally lax? It's better, I think, to warn the tourists rather than have a case like the couple kissing getting fined which gets so much publicity in the international media that it ultimately affects tourism more than any guidelines can.

Read this well-written post about the Indian reality of women and men fraternising separately on college tours. Many of us may have experienced how on college trips boys and girls inevitably spread out in separate groups. Even today in cities women sit separately in classes than men. This particular article refers to the state of Kerala that has the highest literacy. Yet, when the guideline states that men socialise with men, we are aghast at the ‘talibanic’ implication. We need to face the reality. Sad though the state of affairs is, it nonetheless exists. Denying it because it is embarrassing and suggesting that the Ajmer administration is out of sync with the true social reality is simply being in denial. They may be out of sync with the urban India’s social reality, but they aren't providing these guidelines for the rest of India, are they?

Yes, Rajasthan’s customs may be antiquated. As educated, well-read people we might find them unacceptable in today’s egalitarian world and would like them to change. I would love to see that happen too. But I think we should let the change stem from within. When the young men and women in Rajasthan are more educated I am sure they will come to the same conclusion that we do regarding acceptance of display of public affection. These should be debated and discussed in the community rather than being forced down their throats by asking them to be ‘tolerant.’ Why can’t we be a bit more tolerant of their intolerance? Let the Rajasthani people make the choice rather than us telling them that they are shaming us by not being accommodating of western culture. Condescending to them about their culture will only provoke an even adverse reaction.

A beautifully written and well-sourced article about Pushkar is carried by Outlook in this weeks issue. It is an amazing tribute to the city of Pushkar and its people who have absorbed many of the tourist influences.

But Pushkar is a unique anthropological case study on how a few thousand visitors from abroad can sustain a sleepy temple town and its economy and make an impact on its lifestyle and culture. It shows in the Ganesha T-shirts, in those single, white females riding pillion on the mobikes of the local dudes, the precocious, multi-lingual kids who can sell just about anything to anyone, and restaurants that go by names like Pink Floyd Cafe. There’s a strange bazaar mix of the ancient and the modern, the sacred and the profane. Besides the mantras, the most oft-heard chants are of trance music. Internet cafes still run on dial-up rather than on broadband. Nutella and Marmite flood the local stores. Rickety camel carts move around with AIDS awareness banners.

This is the same town, which lashed out at the Israeli couple kissing, and yet is accommodative of so many outside influences. This is the same town who’s Brahmins called for those guidelines and yet are vocal in saying that they do not want a ban on the tourists. The tourists themselves find the guidelines helpful. And here we are reveling in our own interpretation that India is getting talibanised with a not so subtle reference to the Muslim population of Ajmer. I find it unfortunate that we choose examples that we can condescend to while ignoring the local population’s capacity to change, albeit, at their own terms.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Insecurity thy name is woman

I thought men bashing was passé. What real purpose can it serve when even the bashers admit that the one being bashed has thickest skin amongst species? I mean I understand where the flogging a dead horse idiom comes from, at least indulging in that serves a cathartic purpose. But male bashing is like flogging a live rhino who smiles wider every time you hit him. This male bashing post made me wonder why such simple logic is lost on women. Oh! Horrors of horrors, was that gender insensitive, politically incorrect, Oh-my-gosh-you-didn’t-say-that, kind of a comment?

Pardonez moi oh wise reader I was merely… what did she call it? Hmm… generalising. Trust me, given the post I am responding to, generalisation should be the least of my worries. The author herself has said, “And by men I’m talking about the entire male population - from uncles to fathers to boyfriends to brothers. Don’t give me that shit about generalization, because I’m not buying it.”

And what does this nouveau belan-morcha-party candidate have to say about our poor uncles, fathers boyfriends and brothers? According to her men are responsible for women wanting to change something about themselves.

And why do we do this? Why do we give in to these insecurities? Why do we constantly fret about the look of our bodies? Why do we subject our bodies to damaging diets? Why is our appearance an unconscious and perpetual concern? Because society places value on our looks. And by society, I mean men.
And what is the evidence provided. The prosecution is accusing men of the nastiest of crimes such as the following: 1) Being their honest selves – “They all drool over the good-looking babes.” 2) Fantasizing – “They have intricately detailed porn-movie-style fantasies about sexy bombshells (even if they have no real chance in hell of getting that woman!)” and the worst of all 3) Gossiping – “At some point in their lives, they’ve gotten together with their buddies and discussed who they’ve slept with or who they’d like to(real or imagined).”

What a world we live in? Truly there is no place for such ghastly crimes. Therefore the author offers a solution. Before I reveal the elegant solution, here is a pop quiz. What do you do when robberies increase in your neighbourhood? You might think of locking your house, increasing policing and punishing the culprits. I too thought that. But you know what, we were wrong. The solution to fight robbery is to go out and rob others just like the robbers are doing. "But then don't you lose the moral right to criticise?," you may question. But such concerns are irrelevant in the author's if-they-can-do-it-so-can-we kind of utopia. At least that’s what one concludes after reading the author’s solution. She exhorts her female compatriots to do exactly what the men are doing. “My idea? Let’s treat them the same damn way.” She wants women to hoot and whistle and check out and admire men’s cute(???) behinds so that men feel insecure.

In men’s defense I will say this. Yes men do all those things they are accused of and more, but that doesn’t make them the sole cross bearers of women’s insecurities. Equally, if not more, other women are responsible for making women feel that way.

Consider this. Ask a man what he thinks of a particular girl. In most cases the answer may be: She was beautiful, an absolute pataka, cute smile, she had huge boobs, or she had a fantastic figure. Now pose the same question to a woman. “Her nose was too sharp,” “She needs to trim her eyebrows,” “She had applied grey mascara, can you believe that? What sort of a tramp does that?” “She has long neck?” Etc.

Now tell me whom amongst the two would you call obsessed with beauty and therefore responsible for making women feel insecure? Aah! Do I hear someone say that even though women do that, they do it only because men have set those impossible standards? Now wait a minute. Men don’t even notice those things! Men don’t know the difference between mascara and eyeliner. They don’t realize when a woman’s hair is flat or shiny or dull or frizzy or whichever other states women lament about their hair. Ask a man about a woman's hair and his answer has to be amongst the following. Either short of long. And as far as the author's comment about being conscious of 'hollow cheeks and knobbly knees'… I was amongst the ones who have been with most of the groups who drooled in Pune’s colleges and haven’t once heard a fellow drooler commenting on knees and cheeks. C’mon we have better things to notice! At least give us that. I am not saying that what men do is laudable or that they can be completely absolved of the blame. I am arguing that despite their flaws they concentrate on the basics of beauty and hence aren’t the culprits in making women feel insecure. That medal belongs to women themselves for making others of their kin feel miserable.

The common conversation in an Indian household when a man buys a gift for his wife goes like this.

Wife: It’s so beautiful. I really like it. That was so thoughtful of you darling to remember.
Husband: (Blushing, trying to get closer for a hug.)
Wife: But couldn’t you find something in Raani colour? I already have three green dresses.
Husband: (scratches his head trying to figure out what Raani colour looks like.)
Wife: What am I going to do with another green dress? Humph. It's equivalent of not having one.
Husband: (trying to salvage the situation and the evening which seems to be slowly moving downhill) But darling don't you think there is also a shade of blue in there. I think. Besides you look gorgeous in green.
Wife: Do you mean I don’t look good in Raani colour? I have told you so many times not to repeat colours. You never listen.
Husband: (His neck is slowly getting buried in his shoulders.)
Wife: And look at this embroidery. Even that is not done properly. That shopkeeper swindled you, and you being you bought this for a fortune. Plus this dupatta wont even go with any other dress.
Husband: (By now has given up all hope and has settled on the sofa and is busy reading the newspaper)
Wife: I think I will gift it to Lata. Her wedding is coming up soon. I am sure she will like it. You men never have any eye for beauty.
Now assuming something similar happens in 70% of the households, one thing is clear -- men really don’t care about such things. Yes they notice the dress but they don’t link it to the other dresses of women or for that matter the colour, texture, design embroidery and other details that women are on a lookout for. They don’t notice all of the other things women spend 2 hours ‘making-up’ for. They did rather the woman miss the make up session and they reach the function on time. So if men don’t notice whom do the women do it for? Obviously for themselves and other women. So there you go. Set your house in order first before you go about calling names to others.

This attempt at pinning the blame on men fails on another front. Yes, men do drool and swoon and do all sorts of other nasty stuff but only to girls of age. What then can explain 3-8 year-old little girls’ fascination with lipstick and beads and pins, dressing up her dolls etc. There is no pressure on them. They don’t do it to impress guys or because they feel insecure. One has to admit that we inherit some unique gender qualities as part of our evolutionary make-up. And part of them involves a woman’s fascination with beauty. What’s wrong with celebrating our differences? If you look at it there is nothing really objectionable about it. After all what’s wrong with indulging oneself by pampering your body and wanting to look good? The problem comes when you start feeling insecure. Now that is entirely your problem and you should learn to deal with it. If a beautiful woman passes by and a man admires her it doesn’t mean he loves her more than his wife/girlfriend or that he feels his wife should be like her. He very well knows that he is never going to get a woman like that. But that’s what fantasies are for. That’s why they are called fantasies. They serve a very healthy psychological purpose for both men and women. Yes women may have much more politically correct fantasies, but they do fantasize about things that come naturally to them owning to various genetic, hormonal and sociological reasons. The author's suggestion to women about fantasizing the same way men do is absurd. How can anyone enjoy a forced fantasy? It's like asking men to fantasize about women's nature instead of their bodies. A welcome suggestion, but unfortunately never gonna happen!

When men admire a beautiful woman walking down the street; they aren’t trying to make a statement about their wife/girlfriend’s beauty. The point to remember is the man despite his admiration still loves his wife/girlfriend many times over than the other woman. That woman’s beauty is a matter of fact and he is simply stating it.
A wonderful quote on this subject is by one of the first famous women writers Madame de Staël -- "The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man." This need not be so. His wife/girlfriend can hear him and agree or disagree with him about his conception of beauty but she doesn’t have to feel inadequate because of it.

And regarding being slim and conscious of their weight, who has perpetuated that standard? For every man who loves a slim femme fatale you are likely to find a man who loves a voluptuous figure. There are many who love ‘aunties,’ (however despicable that may be, its the truth)who are nowhere near the hourglass standard. I agree that those sexy models in porn movies fascinate men. What makes the woman in porn so erotic is not her red lips and her fake breasts, but the fact that she's "crazy." She's ever ready, always willing to do anything to please a man. Ask a man whether he would want that sort of a woman as his wife/girlfriend. The answer is no. Men don't have much trouble distinguishing between reality and the weird world of commercial raunch. So why should a woman feel pressurised to change her looks? Generally in the long run a man prefers a decent, intelligent woman as his wife. Another example would be the cosmetic industry. Women, not men, populate the cosmetic industry. Fair and Lovely ads are created for women by women and not men. It’s women not men who buy women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan and Femina. Those are the worst offenders with their anorexic photographs and stupid articles about '10 ways to please your man.' Look at the mainstream print media. When men commentators and op-ed writers weigh in on political issues and women political personalities, they never refer to a woman’s looks/dress etc. But read Shobhaa De and Maureen Dowd’s columns and you will find detailed information about Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Botox and Condi’s shoes and Uma Bharti’s shocking orange to Sonia’s sarees. Now who is setting the standards here? Men admire Madeline Albright and Condi Rice's of the world regardless of their beauty quotient.

Also, women have set worse standards when it comes to men. Yet how many men do you find blogging about……. “Oh I have to study so hard…… I can’t find time to read a book or enjoy my youth since I have to land a good job…. I have to leave my favourite field and find a well-paying job because it takes longer to settle in the field I love and one doesn’t find a wife after one is past 30…. I had children and now I can’t take a promotion because it involves shifting the family etc.” They don’t say that because they are confident in themselves. Their locus of control is within them. They know that life is tough and this is the way the game is played. They do the above-mentioned things for themselves as much as for the women in their life. Despite the harsh standards, they take it on their chin and move on rather than blame women.

Despite this, men are vulnerable and touchy about things. But these aren’t the things our belan-morcha-party wishes to target. For instance, men would care two hoots if women went about admiring other men. Look at the responses to the post. Majority of them are from women who have praised the endeavour. Men didn’t even care enough to respond. It’s not something that bothers them. I mean I would have applauded it if the author had said something to the effect of “Let’s make men feel insecure about the things that matter to them.” Then it would have been an intelligent move. Because one is exploiting the innate differences between the sexes rather than a blind copy-cat game. An intelligent punishment for men would be women appreciating other men’s wit, intelligence, sense of humour, wealth, job, status etc. and then stand back and just watch the man in their lives squirm. Then watch a man’s reaction as he defends his bruised fragile ego. It’s juvenile to assume that men would feel the same way if women drooled over other men.

And before I sign off…

I know a few smart girls who’ll toss their head, and say bah! I don’t care if I look like a frump! But I will stick by what I said. I think deep inside, the desire to look beautiful exists, but their intelligence finds the desire ridiculous and tries to squash it by doing the very opposite.

Now that’s a queer statement. It’s condescending towards all women because it implies that apart from the few smart girls, all other women don’t use their intelligence. Just imagine a man insinuating this and daggers would have been drawn pointing out his chauvinism.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Are Bloggers splogging a dead horse in urging Google to take action?

Ever since Google took over Blogger from Pyra Labs in 2003 there has been enough speculation about the motive behind this acquisition. Immediately after the takeover Google gave away free the premium services for which Pyra Labs used to charge a fee. Since then the blogosphere has increased exponentially. Technorati tracks 19.6 Million weblogs according to the latest survey. Out of them, it can be safely assumed, Blogger hosts more than 50%. Even considering decrease in bandwidth and storage costs, this must still be a considerable expense. Not only does Google have to manage the site's hardware but also the personnel, who must be charging a handsome salary. Hence I find it hard to glean any monetary gains for Google, at least for the time being. I found a post written in June 2004 that analysed the same problem. The author came to the conclusion that Google was losing money. I doubt if the picture is any different today.

The initial theory was that folks at Google wanted to optimise their search engine by observing the linking patterns and preferences in blogs. But couldn't Google do that without buying Blogger too? Its crawlers could have flushed all the information on blogs regardless of who owned it. Is it then, as some suggest, just a public relations move to earn goodwill? But surprisingly Google's logo never figures anywhere on Blogger. So, not everybody is even aware that Google powers Blogger.

One explanation can be AdSense, those small text ads you may have noticed on Gaurav’s blog. These ads are administered by Google and generate revenue on a per-click basis. Google utilizes its search technology to serve ads based on website content, the user's geographical location, and other factors. Then why is it I wonder that Google doesn't display the advertisements on every blog regardless of whether the blogger subscribes to AdSense. Surely people would continue using the service, as has been proved by the popularity of Gmail despite the incorporation of advertisements. Besides out of millions of blogs only a few are updated regularly and a minority amongst these use AdSense. I find it hard to believe that money made from this alone would justify the expense on Blogger. Besides as the article analysing this issue mentions.

But the advertising revenue per page view is surely a lot lower for Blogger than for the Google search engine. People using the Google search engine are searching for something specific, so it’s probably about ten to twenty times more likely that they will see an ad at the top or right side of the screen that they will be interested in.
The Problem of splogs

An additional twist to this issue has been the advent of spam blogs or splogs. A splog is any blog whose creator doesn’t add any written value. The splogger opens numerous blogspot accounts through computerized bots, enters into the blogosphere stealing content and keyword rich posts from sites and starts generating revenue based on that content. The purpose is to increase the PageRank of the affiliated sites, get ad impressions from visitors, and/or use the blog as a link outlet to get new sites indexed. This ends up skewing blog searches as these faux links draw in visitors who click on pay-per-click advertisements provided by AdSense on the splog.

Many bloggers and netizens vented their frustration at Google in this Guardian article for doing relatively little to stop people from setting up spam blogs.Currently Google merely responds by taking action when some volunteer reports a splog or when bloggers flag a particular blog. Google doesn't actively scour blogspot addresses itself to sort out the problem. Google recently implemented CAPTCHA, a system which shows users an image of a word that must be manually entered, but is distorted to deceive automated software from setting up false accounts. Netizens however are not satisfied. They want Google to enforce a $1 entry fee to dissuade sploggers or make CAPTCHA mandatory before every blog post on comment on blogspot. Google has no plans for implementing the suggestion as they look at it as an inconvinience for their users. This led many bloggers to speculate that Google's inaction was not surprising given their conflict of interest in the matter.

It makes perfect sense that having as many blogs as possible using Google Adsense would make Google more money. The more blogs that are set up using Google Adsense the more exposure the advertisers have, and the more Google charges for that exposure. It seems to me it's clear where the money goes.
Sounds perfect until you realise that if splogs are detrimental to anybody, it is for search engines, whose results go haywire with these phony links. Google is especially vulnerable because of its crawlers who flush all links on the Internet. So why would Google want to put spanner in their own works by feeding contaminated fodder to their cash cow. Google's corporate philosophy focuses on constantly optimising its search engine, (most profits come from this product) and I think Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google know better than to allow short term profits cloud their judgment.

Hence my question still remains. How does Google earn money through Blogger? And if it doesn't, then why have Blogger in their portfolio? Answers anyone?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Celebrating the Sisyphean contest between knowledge and confusion

Welcome readers,

Raison d'etre of this blog :-
The usual fare of reviews, media articles and random musings will form the backbone of this blog. But that isn't its existential purpose. Resting on that strong backbone would be posts containing contrarian views. When conventional wisdom seems to congeal around some theory/ideology/policy issue, this blog will raise a red flag. In financial market terms, a contrarian would tend to take the view that, in most circumstances, widespread bearishness leads to rallies while widespread optimism leads to disappointments. For the proponents of a particular ideology and their readers (sometimes including myself) the reasoning I will be arguing against may be self-evident, and the path to be followed crystal clear. That is precisely the time when someone needs to infuse conflict for making the process more efficient by creating confusion and therefore forcing a fresh look at the arguments trying to make their foolproof through an iterative process.

The next generation usually finds the chinks in their preceding generation’s intellectual armour that too in an unlikely case when they don’t manage to pierce through it altogether. I am not in a mood to wait that long. All the despised ideologies of today were once championed by the intellectuals of that time and we have seen the consequences of their intellectual myopia be it the communists, the socialists, existentialists and people belonging to any other lists. I believe what we think in a particular era as self-evident, is just a matter of groupthink. Somebody needs to take up the dirty work of playing the devil's advocate. It's very difficult to prevent intellectuals of an era from being swayed by the dominant ideology of their time and therefore it is always fruitful to pause and think if we are following the same fate.

Given the times, that always curve our thinking in a particular direction, it seems this blog might take cudgels with free market chaps. Propriety demands that I must mention here that as things stand today I am an Adam Smith Wealth of Nation-thumper true-blue dyed-in-the-wool-free-marketer myself. But I am tired of all those blogs lamenting things-would-be-so-much-better-only-if government pulls out its nose... or just-free-the-entrepreneurship-spirit and look at the miracles. Most read similar books, follow the same blogs and go ga-ga over the same theories and dismiss the others’ reasoning, since they rarely give it a hearing. Yes their arguments may ring true, but the entire thing is intellectually boring for me as a reader. Every time I read such posts I go Duh! Tell me something I don’t know… What’s the big deal? I don't feel challenged and neither am I forced to think critically. I feel given their readers' socio-economic background, especially in India, free-market theories are like preaching to the converted.

Such contrarian posts won’t be too frequent. However, rest assured they would be most unsettling and sometimes even infuriating. Many a times my own personal views may clash against the view I am advocating and therefore such posts may not be entirely convincing.

Whatever they are, one thing is for sure, in true Truman tradition they are intended at confusing.

If you cannot convince them, confuse them. --- Harry S Truman

In blogosphere most humans tend to veer in directions that bolster their points of view. I find it intellectually lazy that people search for comfort in views of the followers of their own ideology instead of challenging their views by reading and analyzing the other side’s argument which is available in ample measure thanks to the blogosphere.

The name of this blog reflects its philosophy. The posts here will try to look at issues from different frames of reference, from different pehlu or perspectives/dimesions, which may not be obvious at first glance. Personally I love the ‘Aha’ moments in life when suddenly just by changing my perspective I am forced to take a fresh look at the entire gamut of knowledge I have networked in my brain. I would strive to create those Aha moments for my readers.

Celebrating the Sisyphean contest between knowledge and confusion is the catch phrase of the blog. Here the word Sisyphean is not used in the normal context implying futility. Instead it’s part of an imagery. If one were to imagine oneself as Sisyphus – just that instead of pushing a rock, constantly acquiring knowledge to clear confusion and just when a person acquires that knowledge he/she realizes it leads to even more confusion. So it’s like being condemned to push that rock, as soon as it reaches the top, it rolls down and one has to start all over again. The blurry objects on the horizon towards which we rush, once cleared, are merely replaced by newer blurry objects. Yet there is a sense of achievement despite the futility. The tug-of-war between confusion and knowledge is in itself enjoyable regardless of the outcome. And hence the raison d’etre of this blog I proudly proclaim is to engender confusion, loads of it and above all to celebrate it.

“Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart,” wrote Albert Camus.

I agree, one must imagine Sisyphus happy.