Life expectancy and age of thread ceremony

Over ten years back, my mother had asked my father when they were going to conduct my thread ceremony. My father had replied, “You think either of us will die soon?” My thread ceremony eventually took place in May 2001, some five years after this conversation.

You frequently come across mostly elderly relatives lamenting the fact that youngsters nowadays don’t have much interest in religion, and parents are also not doing their bit. They crib that earlier, most boys would have their threads by the time they had reached double digits, and this would ensure a more religious upbringing. However, nowadays, with thread ceremony being delayed up to the twenties, and even up to the day before the wedding (for people belonging to castes that wear the thread, the thread is a prerequisite for marriage), the elders feel that this is preventing kids from being more religious.

I’m not sure if the increase in average age has to do anything with how religious the parents are. It’s simply a consequence of higher life expectancy. If you are a boy belonging to a caste that normally wears the thread, you need to have had your thread ceremonies in order to conduct your parents’ death ceremonies. If you don’t have the thread yet at the time when one of your parents dies, some other relative has to do this thing, and you are supposed to get bad karma from this.

Hence, even fifty years ago, when average life expectancy was quite low and it was reasonably common for people to tell jai when their kids were still young, people would want to make sure that there was a good chance that their sons had a thread by the time the parents told jai. And hence, the thread ceremony would happen fairly quickly after the kid had attained the minimum age of 8.

Nowadays, with people living longer on the average, and the probability of someone dying leaving behind a young kid being fairly low, there isn’t much incentive to have the thread ceremony really early. People prefer to wait until their sons are old enough to understand the significance of the thread, the ceremony, etc.

About NED

The concept of NED has existed as long as mankind. Maybe even longer. If you have read Christian Theology you would have read that God took six days to create the world, and then took rest on the seventh day (Sunday). The truth is that God wanted to create even more and wonderful creatures, and give them even more wonderful features. He just happened to put NED. Since at the time that the Bible was written no one had quantified the concept of NED, the writers decided to take the easy way out by saying that God took rest on Sunday.

NED, for the uninitiated, stands for No Enthu Da. I don’t know how to explain it. In fact, no accurate explanation exists for this in English, for if it did, I wouldn’t have bothered inventing this phrase. By sacrificing some bit of accuracy I can say that NED is a state of mind where you don’t feel like doing anything. You just want to do nothing, and you don’t even have the enthusiasm to do nothing. Yes, if that confused you, you need to remember that there is no perfect explanation for NED in English.

The modern usage of the term is supposed to have originated in April 2007, or so I would like to believe. However, Aadisht (his website is putting NED currently) says that the term stretches back to January 2006. I think the incident he is referring to is the one where he was supposed to take the Lalbagh Express to Madras and join Kodhi and me for the Odyssey quiz. When he failed to turn up, he concocted an explanation that he couldnt’ find autos to get to the station. I think he just suffered from a bout of NED.

If Aadisht denies the above incident, it will be a strong indicator that NED entered the IIMB lexicon in March/April 2007 – a full year after we had graduated. I’m especially proud of having contributed to the lingo after I graduated (I had also contributed to the lingo while I was on campus – with Are). Of course, I didn’t develop any new concept. I just gave it a name.

In December of 2007, Neha Jain sent me this mail:

You did me a great disfavour by introducing me to NED
I have been suffering from an acute case of that since Saturday
I don’t know what it is
But I cant get myself out of it
No matter what I do
Or think about

I didn’t introduce her to the concept. I had only introduced her to the term. But as she says, you can never permanently get out of NED. If you think you have overcome NED, you are only fooling yourself. All you are doing is to temporarily get out of it.

So, sooner you learn to accept this fact and start worshiping NED, the better. I can’t really tell you right now how you should worship NED, but if you do, you should request Him to spare you from His clutches for as long as you want. Of course, you should remember that this is only a temporary release.

Welcome to the new blog.

K Serials

Many people may claim many different things, but I think the main motivation for people to watch so many soaps is schadenfreude.

  • Why do you think most characters in soaps are shown leading such miserable lives? I mean not miserable in the material sense, but everyone seems to have one problem or the other.
  • Assuming that people who watch soaps, on the average, lead not-so-happy lives, I can’t think of any reason why they will want to worsen their state of mind by bringing in more negative thoughts – if anything, by indulging in activities classified as “entertainment” you are supposed to be looking to lighten up your mind blah blah

The only other explanation I can think of is that all these soaps are part of some elaborate joke, and avid watchers are silently giggling as they watch these soaps. That they don’t want to let their secret away so they give reasons such as “it reflects life so we love it” and all such.

Commie uncle and family

This blog post is about a relative of mine, who, for purposes of this blog post, shall be called “Commie Uncle”. That name is intentional, for he is surely a commie. Ages back, he managed to land himself a PSU job with the help of a recommendation from his cousin’s wife’s cousin’s girlfriend’s cousin’s uncle. And no sooner had he got his appointment, he became prominent in the union, and started fighting against the very person who had recommended him for that job. About four years back, he had visited us, jubilant in the knowledge that the left would play a major part in the UPA government. My father and I had tried to drill sense into his head, but not to much avail.

Continue reading “Commie uncle and family”

Russian Mags

Long ago, Soviet Russia decided that a good way for them to propagate propaganda in India would be to distribute magazines at subsidized rates. My father had taken the bait and subscribed to all such magazines available – Soviet Union, Soviet Woman and Misha. All of them were available at dirt-cheap rates (don’t exactly remember them). It was so cheap that buying the magazines and giving them to the raddiwala was almost a profitable business.

This is the extent to which the Russians went to propagate their propaganda. And sadly, in those days, the world was yet to hear about anti-dumping duties.

For some reason, I never liked these magazines. My father would sit with me and make me read Misha. He would help me set up and play some of the games mentioned in that. Even then, I never managed to appreciate the magazine, and most of it went straight into the raddiwala’s hands. However, given the extremely low cost, my father didn’t particularly mind.

It was a jobless summer afternoon – as jobless as you would expect a seven-year-old kid without siblings during summer vacations would be. The postman had just dropped off the post – two fairly heavy books. The latest editions of “Soviet Union” and “Soviet Woman”. I don’t clearly remember, but looking back, it seems like I wasn’t in a terribly good mood that afternoon. And so I set to work.

I decided to tear the two magazines to pieces. Each and every page of them. I tore it out carefully from the book, and using my hands, tore each page into innumerable shreds. I must have either had tremendous determination, or tremendous patience, or both, for these books were fairly big. However, I diligently sat down and did my job. And I wouldn’t budge until I was done with each and every page.

I think seven (or maybe I was eight then, but I tend to believe I was seven. Even my super-strong long-term memory can’t? give me a clue on this) years is an early age to display your political leanings. However, watching me having diligently and efficiently torn down the Soviet Union and Soviet Woman to pieces, I think my parents were convinced that I’d grow up to be a right winger.

Shortly after this incident, I was taken to a field near my house and enrolled into the RSS.

Computer Science and Economics

Left-wing economics is idealistic, and the basic assumption is that everyone is a good guy, and he will work in the best interests of the system.

On the other hand, the basic assumption behind right-wing economics is that everyone is inherently a bad guy, and will work only for his own benefit. Hence, systems have to be devised so as to align a person’s selfish interests with the system’s interests.

To put it in other words, left-wing stuff is ideal. It assumes best case performance, or marginally below best case performance, from all players in the system. Similarly, in assuming that everyone has only a selfish motive, right-wing economics does what can be called a worst-case design.

Training in Computer Science inherently teaches you to think about the worst-case possibilities in everything.

In this context, isn’t it? surprising that so many people from a computer science background are leftist?

Conflicting signals

Yesterday, my gym installed a TV set in front of each treadmill. Nice looking LG flatscreen TVs. One in front of each treadmill. Each treadmill now has a remote control which is supposed to control the TV in front of it. Now, the thing is all TVs are of the same brand, and space constraints mean that the treadmills (and consequently the TVs) are very close to each other.

Which means that each remote not only controls your own TV, but your neighbors’ TVs also! Much hilarity happens due to this. Say your neighbour will want to go ahead by two channels. Your TV will end up going forward too by the same amount. And you could face the prospect of say watching Aastha while working out on the treadmill.

Something like that happened yesterday and I decided to switch off my TV – it was too distracting. And off went both my neighbours’ TVs! I’m sure this concept of TVs in front of treadmills is going to improve the fun factor at the gym, and also make sure people in adjacent treadmills start talking to each other, etc.

All this aside, another issue is that it’s a 20 inch TV three feet in front of you. It’s like watching a movie from Gandhi Class.

Favourite branch of mathematics

i’m suddenly reminded of my interviews during the summer internship selection interview process in IIMB in November 2004. This happened to me at more than one bank’s interview.

Interviewer: Do you like math?
Me: Yes
Interviewer: What is your favourite branch of math?
Me: Graph Theory
(interviewer looks confused for a few moments)
Interviewer: Oops. Can I ask you questions in probability?
Me: ok…

and the interview goes on…