Hadronic Proportions

I had three thoughts in the pooper today. I intend to share them because they’re genius of hadronic proportions. You didn’t get that did you? See that was the first thought. How us physicists (not one yet, but give me 2 more years will you? Jeez.) have the potential for so many inside jokes but sadly there are no inside-joke-club-for-the-scientifically-inclined that I know of. Or maybe I just haven’t searched enough. Anyway, back to hadronic proportions. Next time you see a mother bragging about the genius of her five year old kid who finally managed to not poop like an atom bomb and aim inside the cistern, try this:

Potty-trained brat’s trainer (le Mom): My child is potty trained now. He’s only five and he doesn’t need a diaper! Tiffany’s still does, poor her. I guess not all children are as smart as my little Timmy here, isn’t that right Timmy? *kid blows spit bubble*

You: Oh yes, brilliant! All I ever did at five was memorise the periodic table. Timmy is going to be a class topper, I can see it already. Intelligence of hadronic proportions!

Le potty trainer: Oh my! Hadronic proportions? Oh you’re making me shy now.

You (coyly): Just stating facts here. I must be off now (excuse yourself and leave before she googles the term).

You see my dear non-science-y folk, hadrons are tiny. Like unimaginably, unbelievably tiny. Tinier than electrons. You’ve never seen one have you? That’s because you can’t. They’re not as pretty as the artist’s rendition of them as round golden balls I assume, but the point is that they’re beyond microscopic. And once you’ve executed the task above, we shall chuckle together. I’ll be waiting here with a glass of wine for you and we shall toast to all things “they” deem nerdy and to Bill Nye and the exploration of the deep sea and porcupines that eat pineapples and Nigella Lawson because I have a girl crush on her. On a side note, never refer to a small slap on the butt as a collision of hadronic proportions because that’s a lot of energy. Like in the order of tera electron volts. What’s a tera you ask? It’s a multiple of 10 like a million or billion but much, much larger. Larger than Warren Buffet’s bank account? Oh yes, larger than his multiplied by Zuckerberg’s. I’ll leave you to the math.

The second thought was about Behance. You know, that website where you can put up your portfolio? You didn’t know? Yea well neither did I until yesterday. How did the founders come up with that name? And why? It puzzled me. If my friend hadn’t mentioned what it was, I would have inferred from the name that it’s some sort of plastic surgeon’s website focused on breast enhancement. I mean, B + enhance kind of equals behance. No? Ok. Moving on then.

So le idiot (a.k.a my bae) got banned on Uber for no logical reason we can think of. A week later or so, he got banned on Ola Cabs too. Ola, for all you first-world folks out there, is the Indian version of Uber. I actually like it better. Except occasionally when their fares are higher than Uber’s which doesn’t happen often but when it does, I reluctantly part with my cash to feed another one of Big Brother’s multiple conglomerates. We went through all the possibilities a thousand times and still came up with nothing. Did he rape a driver? There’s as much chance of him raping someone as there is of the world blowing up tomorrow (which is why I’m dating him because he’s a good guy). Ok, that’s actually possible if Trump gets drunk and accidentally presses the big red button in the nuclear warfare department that says “Don’t push”. But let’s assume the chances are one in a gazillion. Also, we’ve never encountered a female Uber or Ola driver as yet and my bae is definitely 200% straight. Did he not pay for any of his rides? He didn’t have an outstanding balance on Uber and before he got banned on Ola, he’d taken an Ola pass for a month for which he paid 2000 Rs. They took off with 1800 after blocking him. Did he have a fist-fight/abuse any of the drivers? He’s the laziest guy I know. He’ll avoid any fight like the plague. Also, he couldn’t think of any instance when a driver was pissed at him. Now that leaves us with the question as to why the apps won’t tell you what you got banned for. Applying common sense here, isn’t it in everyone’s best interest to tell people what they got banned for so that they won’t repeat it again on another app? Did we call customer care? Duh.

Ola’s customer support had this statement to repeat a thousand times: “We’re sorry sir but you have violated our Terms and Conditions.”

“Yes we know, but which part?”

“Sorry sir, we cannot disclose that information. ”

“But why?”

“No sir, it’s against our company policy.”

“But WHYYY?”

*click. beep*.

Uber doesn’t have a customer care number in India. Ha. Becuase the third world doesn’t have an even-lower world to outsource their call centers to and also because we obviously don’t deserve one seeing as how much money they make off us, right?

I have a feeling it’s all a conspiracy. My third thought was a conspiracy theory on how all the ‘rival’ companies are all actually best buddies and their rivalry is all a facade they put on for the public while they loot them together. The heads of Ola and Uber are probably having chai by the roadside right now.

Ola dude: Here’s your chai.

Uber dude: You mean chai tea? Thanks.

Ola: No, I mean chai. Chai means tea in Hindi. Chai tea is redundant.

Uber: Oh no wonder I’ve never managed to order a chai coffee here! Does that exist?

Ola: No. *rolls eyes*

There. I hope I’ve taught all you non-Hindi-speaking folk about the redundancy in the Starbucks menu. Chai Tea Latte means tea tea latte. It’s stupid. And overpriced. You’re paying more than 100 times the price of something you get at every chai stall for like 8 Rs (that’s 0.13 USD). Yes, there was a decimal point after the zero. Zero point one three dollars. Amazing isn’t it? There was a local donut shop nearby that went out of business after Dunkin’ Donuts came to town. That place was cute and cozy and had the most melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cakes. But of course, where’s development if the American multinationals aren’t killing off your local businesses, right? I need to have lunch. I see an angry rant coming on which I won’t throw at you. For now. *evil laugh*

I’m pressurizing my bae to sue Uber and Ola. We plan to print out their terms and conditions, put on our reading glasses (to exude an air of intellect) and go through every line and between the lines with a highlighter and take notes. Strategy and flowcharts and graphs, the whole she-bang. And then, a lawyer. Which I don’t think we can afford. Ah. I think they know that. They’re onto us! Time to buy a private island and cut ourselves off from the world. Oh yea that’s right, we can’t afford that either.



Cookie Jar Philosophy

I’ve been job-hunting for the better part of the last hour and I feel like I’ve made no headway whatsoever. After a guilt trip induced by a bout of exuberant spending at the book fair (A brand new still-in-plastic-seal condition works of Kafka for 100Rs? Why the hell not?!), I’ve decided to make money instead of haughtily casting it away like largesse. But then again, that’s what we all say, isn’t it? So I’ve made a cookie jar to keep my spirits up. One cookie for each job applied to. Till now I’ve had just one, but that wasn’t because I applied for anything, I just wanted to test whether the cookies were fresh. Are they? You bet they are. I keep eyeing them every now and then but I’m practicing self-control. ‘CONSTANT VIGILANCE!’ as the fake Mad-Eye Moody would have said.

I bought 21 books at the book fair. I still haven’t finished the books from last year’s fair but it’s more the thrill of collecting that drives me (such consumerism, much wow). My new dream is to turn my hostel room balcony into a cafe where girls can come and chill around in their boxers because it’s not fair that guys get to chill at the roadside chai shops and stuff in their boxers but we can’t because for the sake of our own safety, it’s best we cover ourselves up. I dream of philosophical evenings spent drinking filter coffee brewed in the room while lazing around on that tiny 30 square feet platform in the sky, basking in the waning sunlight and discussing revolutionary politics in the backdrop of pink and orange sunsets and the flicker of distant streetlights. We might start a movement. For the sake of wage equality and the rights of hamsters; for food security and claustrophobic goldfishes; for global warming and stockings for amputated frogs. We must seize the day -and night- mostly night because we have classes and work during the day. Burning metaphorical midnight oil (because electricity) while metaphorically penning down (because MS Word) spurious ideas that make our eyes go wide, set our minds aflutter and our voices rise with passionate rage. We will print edgy bathrobes because t-shirts are too mainstream. We’ll sue oil exploration companies for stripping penguins of their homeland and build orphanages for polar bear babies. They who tell us our music’s not right and our morals too right, our socialism too idealistic and our weed too strong, we’ll make them cease and desist and then we’ll divide and conquer. We’ll make the rules and break them all. And then we’ll rebuild it all from the ashes.

I got a little carried away there. I think I found a decent part time job writing for a travel blog. I hope they take me. I hope they don’t mind my occasional attempts at overthrowing their management and practicing small scale coup d’etats.

 *fingers crossed*

Le Carré’s Squares

John Le Carré’s novels have set the tone for my new and improved writing aspirations. It took me a semester of putting-off and procrastination and re-reading the parts I forgot but I finally got through The Little Drummer Girl and what an exquisite story that proved to be! Tragic, but only as much as  reality permitted; comic, but from a satirical viewpoint akin to Dante’s Divine Comedy; a plot as intricate as Tolkein’s finest work but condensed into one book instead of three. I was three-quarters of my way through The Constant Gardener but accidentally left it at home so I probably will not see where the story takes Justin for another year. I have not watched the movie version but I don’t wish to either. Forgive my crude metaphor but I compare the story-lines of most of the novels I’ve read so far to squares, clean and mostly linear plots with few sub-plots and layers that at most serve a two-dimensional view of everything, leaving you feeling rightly accomplished at the end of it, having finished a few hundred pages and being able to move on to the next book without dwelling on the story too much. Le Carré’s books are not just maze-like, they’re QR codes. They’re intricate oriental tapestries that you lift up to find a secret door opening up to a tunnel which will lead you to an entirely new universe at the end of it, like in Narnia except that it’s all in the real world. The best part about them, at least IM(not-so-H)O, is  that they are all about the evils of the real world. He didn’t spin the political, corporate or social battles in his books out of thin air, as he could well have done; he chose instead to build tales on existing problems, maybe let people realize that fact is stranger than fiction. In an interview where he spoke of The Constant Gardener, he mentions that the situation in the real world is a hundred times worse than what is portrayed in his book; Big Pharma already own our souls, they have already won the right to test their drugs on third-world populations before declaring them safe for first-world consumption. I was told that his fiction is brilliant, but not how it’s actually his masked non-fiction that’s pure genius. He weaves sub-plots into twists into inexplicable turns and deals humor with a deft British hand. The Little Drummer Girl throws light on all that is wrong with the Israel-Palestine conflict, the brutality of both parties (but one party obviously more so than the other) and the self-victimization of the Jews; it also humanizes the Palestinians and their camps, which are still being indiscriminately bulldozed for Israel occupation. I hope to attain his proficiency in masking non-fiction for the general public one day. But for now, I’ll settle with buying Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Pandora’s Web and the Purge on Pilger.

Yes, it’s a sad title to start the year off with. But this year, I’ve decided to push aside all concerns of making the happy happier and instead shine some light on reality and how we can roll out of our comfortable bubbles and start to care about the planet, about humanity and the lack of it, about nature and the rape of it, about the countries that aren’t superpowers, about whales and plankton and everything in between.

My bae asked me (part-jokingly) to run away with him and join Wattpad. Now I don’t use sites such as those so I may have overlooked their good side a bit, but my response went on for a tad too long and then I realized that I’d put into words everything that I disliked about tech startups popping up like bubblegum and mimicking the Silicon Valley culture. So here’s why I told him I’d love to run away but not to work for them.

I don’t want to work for another pretentious corporate that lives in its own little virtual bubble and does nothing to tackle reality and the problems that humanity has caused or to spread honest news, promote transparent, unbiased journalism instead of catering to the mollified middle and upper classes who prefer to cry over fictional characters and incidents instead of actual ones. Not for a company whose hot, vegan, multi-ethnic, hipster, bearded, supermodel-like employees have never known the travails of the workers who stitched their plain white t-shirts that they paid 100$ at Kanye’s store for. I don’t want to be part of a smug, self-proclaimed elite in an American neighborhood that calls itself ‘hip’ because they think that overpriced bookstores and cafes with trendy interiors are what matter in life. I don’t want to have to drag my happiness out of a bong with my mouth at an after-work shebang with a bunch of literature graduates who term science-loving academically-inclined people like me as nerds and then would ask you to help fix their toaster because they don’t know the difference between the types of engineers; or maybe at a late night soirée with the techies who have worked their whole life to support a virtual economy that would come crashing down like dominoes once the world starts realizing it has actual problems that threaten our basic needs. I don’t want to wear the MAC nude palette on my lips, Bobbi Brown naturals on my eyelids, Estée Lauder matte foundations and organic false lashes made of horse hair in order to chime along with the  other ladies at work when they claim that natural beauty is the best and that’s why we need au naturale makeup to have that organic glow when we go for our early morning workouts in our hot yoga pants and sports bras and then complain when those ‘creeps’ stare at us. I don’t want to pay thousands in rent to live remotely decently in a ‘trendy’ area and struggle to have some sort of vegetation on my itsy bitsy balcony and wall gardens when I have acres in a less fashionable town in a less fashionable country where I don’t need to pay a few hundred dollars to erect some matte black flower pots on an IKEA frame and grow only the plants that ‘match the overall decor’. I’d like to eat fresh but not by supporting farmers’ markets in a white mans’ land where farmers aren’t looked down upon but their equivalent counterparts in the rest of the world who struggle to make ends meet and who are facing a mass exodus in silence. I’d like to write stories but not about how great Romeo is at sex but fact-based tales that hopefully open up minds to plausible situations and stimulate action the way Animal Farm did. I’d like to fix what’s wrong with reality before I get paid for work that could be done better by a linguistically proficient teen smoking pot. I don’t want to help build another Pandora’s blog to help distract the already distracted.

Speaking of honest journalism brings me to my next topic. I recently stumbled on John Pilger and his documentaries (thank you RT), and I knew the world was messed up but his documentaries shed a new light on the degree of said ‘messed up’. But then I began worrying about the lack of such journalists and filmmakers, who would go to any length to uncover the truth. John Pilger is pushing 80. In a world like this, where every sector, every seemingly functioning entity you turn to, is a battleground, I wonder who will take up his cause. Arundhati Roy, in her political and social essays, parallels his concern for injustice and dares go where no self-preserving human would. Honest journalism and its pioneers are facing near extinction. The ability to read both sides of a story is a privilege now; a privilege that  not even the literati can afford, something only those who have the patience to hunt for an alternate to the mainstream media’s headlines are rewarded with. But who’s to tell you where honest journalism is anymore?

When entire populations swallow misinformation just because it’s on the internet, the situation resembles mass evangelism. This is worse than physical death. The death of intellectual curiosity, of basic honesty and the lack of desire for it, will plough its way through generations of minds. It has to stop but as all things manmade, it won’t because of our innate desire for self (and planetary) destruction.

 Watch all of John Pilger’s documentaries here.