Friday, 18 January 2013

The Difference Between Life and Tetris

There is none.

We all theorize. Every time you stare into the ocean, or at the moon, or at the caramel sands in the blazing desert, you begin pondering about life, its meaning and therefore about its futility. The greatness of the view makes you feel like a rather insignificant speck in the grand scheme of things, and thus initiates such a thought-process which, quite obviously, has no meaningful end. But we dutifully go through this painful realization every time we sit alone in front of nature's magnificent might. And every time, we have a new theory about life.

My theory begins with Tetris. It all began three days ago when I was playing the wonderful game, resplendent in black and white. That was when it first struck me how similar it was to life itself! Blocks of different shapes and sizes were raining upon me with the spontaneity of the immense drops in a thunderstorm. They fell with such randomness that they were entirely indistinguishable from the stochastic events - opportunities and worries - that Life throws at us. You can't obviate or avoid them; you can only arrange them, try to absorb them.

As the 'Z's, the 'L's and the 'I's fell upon me, I could but divert them towards the different corners of the little screen I looked at, with the hope of achieving something spectacular - an order in a chaotic universe, which would be so beautiful that I couldn't ever take my eyes off it.

The 'Z's snuggled cozily with the 'L's, even as the spectacular 'Is's occupied those elusive voids which have always been left incomplete. And then I saw the beautiful pattern being completed. There were no voids. No spaces. No white places which required reason. The completed pattern imprinted itself in my mind in a way, I knew, I could never be freed of the haunting memory. The thought of the pattern gives me goosebumps even now - when I'm almost entirely sure that I will never again be able to replicate such splendor. Magnificent in its magic, Life is. Much like Tetris.

And then, I witnessed the greatest climax ever possible when the pattern satiated itself and collapsed. It disappeared! And it left no trace. The experience was complete, and now it was absent. It was but a memory, and therefore it was perfect. Experiences, after all, are only as perfect as the memories they are capable of creating. And it was apparent to me that day. There are no goals in life. There are never any! There are only roads which we imagine are ways to a destination. But ever so often, these roads are so romantic themselves, that you must forget the destination! Just like Tetris.

Rules of Tetris: When you make a perfect line, it disappears and all the blocks shift accordingly, leaving only a void on your screen. If you let the blocks reach the top of the Tetris board, you lose. You cannot win a Tetris game, though you can attempt to get the high score.

The point of Life isn't to reach the top, is it? The objective is to make patterns more beautiful than you can imagine, until they complete themselves and remain only as memories - memories that you want to relive. But sometimes, they come back! And we all wish that, one day, we will have the opportunity to recreate those spectacular designs.

It's the same thing with Tetris. You can't win Tetris; you only get to make a high-score. A score so high no one else can match!

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Madman's Lure

I should rather fancy chancing upon a madman and perhaps befriending him, if only for a short while, for the desire to defeat ennui is one of the prime motives of life. 'He speaks the words of another, and not his own,' some of you may cry, and there is truth in what you say. These thoughts are hardly my own, but throughout history, where has one ever come upon an original thought?

This madman, I spoke of, would be the most delightful creature indeed, for he would be the epitome of disorder. Rule-books can be shredded without second thoughts, as can books on psychology and those explaining human behaviour. While an anarchist would go out of his way to defy the rules and processes in front of him, a madman would simply go about life as if such things never existed, which would leave you in a state of perpetual wonder.

And wonderment is what we all live to see in this world. We all desperately ache for change and for experiences which are new heretofore. We want to travel to new places and meet new people, for habitual places, like old faces, are boring after a while. We all want to meet that enigma, who will surprise us with his every action, and we want to delight as spectators of these acts. This madman is the answer to all those yearnings.

Through his loopy eyes, you can seldom tell what goes on inside that head of unkempt hair. You cannot know if he means his words or if he is lying with the straightest face, for a madman cannot tell between truth and lie. He says whatever he fancies. His smile mayn't be a smile, but a cry of anguish, and perhaps he will hug you in a warm embrace prior to plunging a dagger into the centre of your heart. But he will be the most delightful creature indeed! - a world different from the hackneyed persons of today, who can all be reasoned with, and worse, explained.

But we lock away the madman as soon as we see him, for we fear him as much as we love him. Hypocrisy, which is the fluid that is pumped red through our veins, desires to protect us from the very character who we know will fill our lives with colour and music! We mustn't have friends who can't be trusted, after all, for they will hurt us and perhaps become reasons of our deaths. It is rather bewildering that the two things we humans desire the most, trustworthiness and impulsive-recklessness, cannot occur together.

If you must be trusted, I need to be able to explain you; and the moment I can do that, you will cease to fascinate me. But if you can't be trusted, I cannot allow myself the risk of your presence.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Indian Rapist

NCR's crimes against women have always been on the ascendancy. Everyday, The Times carries a story or two about rape and molestation in some godforsaken corner of the newspaper. But people don't like repetitive stories - they're boring. 'The same rape-thing everyday,' says a disinterested old man passing the newspaper to his son. The young man nods mechanically, switching channels on the television as his elderly mother brings piping hot chai into the drawing room. 'These women must learn not to go out so late in the night. Why can't they stay in groups?' she asks. 'It'll all be better if they begin to dress more modestly. They think they live in America these days!' laughs the old man, sipping his tea.

One more public gang rape later, India is up in arms against what is, after all, routine. Names such as Damini, Nirbhaya and Amanat have been conferred upon the unfortunate girl, who has now been proclaimed a martyr. Songs have been written and letters have been drafted about how brave she was. Inspirational death-bed quotes are abound, each one more touching than its predecessor. But no, ladies and gentlemen; these are all lies. The girl is no martyr. She didn't want to be brave. She was a hapless victim of circumstance and she died a painful, inglorious death in a comatose state. Martyrdom is glorious. Damini's death was nothing but.

'Put the rapists behind bars and punish them,' says the fuming public desperate to exact revenge on the depraved human beings who perpetrated the heinous crime. Several parties have called for stronger laws to make India safe for women, while no one seems to care about expediting the process in place. NCRB reports that 9.4% of all violent crimes in 2011 were rapes, amounting to a whopping 24,206 cases! How many of these cases have been given justice? I doubt the answer will be more than three digits long. When India sends such a message to people - 'Hey, even if you rape that woman, you're probably going to go Scot-free' - then there is no deterrent to these crimes. They will go on and on, no matter how many candle-light marches you hold. Humanity is, in itself, disgustingly depraved and Fear is the only thing which can prevent people from mutilating and annihilating each other.

But Fear is a temporary solution, some people say. Ultimately, there needs to be a stage when people have a changed mindset - when a woman can walk through a dark, secluded alleyway wearing whatever she pleases, and men respect her and leave her alone. Well, this is a noble dream but it hardly seems achievable at this point in time. Many people have blamed the 'patriarchal mindset' for the problems we face today, and they may well have a point. This is ironic - because Patriarchy itself came about in order to protect the women of the house. So, why do people blame the system which is in place to protect them? Or did something go wrong along the way?

The answer to this question is rather simple, readily available in our minds and in the general zeitgeist. One only has to watch a Ilayadhalapathi Vijay movie or a Salman 'Dabangg' Khan flick to see how readily India accepts the objectification of women. But if it ended there, we wouldn't be complaining so much - for in most movies, eve teasing and sexual harassment is almost norm. It adds to comic relief. Some movies go so far as to show how women are finally placated as they are unable to take any more obscene advances from the hero. 'Well, these are mass flicks,' people tell me, defending the their chikni chamelis. 'These are made to run in rural areas. Those farmers are satisfied only by such vulgarity.'

You could give these remarkably stupid defences a second-thought if it wasn't for the 'Cocktail's of Bollywood. Cocktail - featuring Saif, Deepika and Diana: That was targeted at elite Indian audience, correct? Somehow, I remember the ending being about the loose woman who mends her ways and becomes an ideal Bharatiya naari. 'Elite audiences' seem to have the same standards when it comes to distinguishing between a 'loose woman' and a 'good girl'. And this brings me to my point about Patriarchy.

Most cultures in this part of the world are fiercely protective of their women. They feel responsible for them and they will defend the honour of their ladies with their lives. This, after all, comes with the definition of a Patriarchy - where Father is the leader and defender of the household. It is only natural then, that this father has the last and final call regarding the affairs of the women in the house - like the marriage of the daughter etc. So, in the past, marriages were peacefully arranged by elders in society and youngsters didn't have much of a say. But now with love, sex and romance being prerequisites for betrothal, young men want to meet those women who will be conducive to such relationships. In other words, several men search for the aforementioned 'loose women' in order to carry out their passionate love affairs. However, at home it still remains the same. Your sisters and daughters need to remain good girls who can be married off to whomsoever the family decides.

In Arabia, the scene is similar but these men cannot manage their love affairs too easily outside of marriage. The sharia will have them castrated or stoned, or worse - both. So, they have their flings and parties far away from home, with Europeans and Americans, in the bars they swear they won't enter. I would say this is better for society, as the women at home are safer this way. In India, men are confused. They desire their Hollywood-esque love affairs in a society where they would like to keep their women under control.  In such a society, every patch of naked skin on a woman's body flashes brightly as an invitation to rape. Patriarchy, which has become a synonym for 'double-standard', could well be the culprit.

Finally, with so many people pledging to educate their friends and relatives, it is quite possible that we will eventually overcome this hypocritical mindset which will, in turn, lead to a declining number of rape cases in the country. Even if the numbers don't decline, at least a change of mindset will ensure that investigations are carried out without calling the woman the culprit. But this will take time. A lot of time. Until then, we need  deterrents. For every crime, there must be punishment.