Saturday, September 23, 2006

Close Encounters with "Original Sin"

Before I begin, this has nothing to do with the sexually charged Angelina Jolie movie (or, if you're a girl, sexually charged Antonio Banderas movie). My post this time is regarding the concept of Original Sin - the reason mankind must either roast in a lake of fire when the world Ends, or be subjected to badgering by Christian fundies, or in all probability, both.

I was walking to Math class in the afternoon about a week ago, when I came across the oddest gathering I could imagine. Seeing as Purdue clubs haven't finished their call-outs and such, my initial thought was that this was some call out - I mean there could be any number of clubs which involve red T-shirts and Banners reading "Christ says" vs. "Satan says". Returning after Math class, I percieved however, that the club also involved wearing shirts that said "Homos are Going to Hell" while yelling something from a bound book. Naturally piqued, I came within earshot (and within sight of the banners, which described numerous paths to hell that I haven't the space here for, and which Satan apparently freely professes and Christ denounced). The man in question was mentioning the pathway to heaven, with the alternate option of hell. The word of Christ apparently, was the only password through the firewall surrounding the former. "But you want to reject Christ" the firebrand exclaimed "You wish to exchange him for your homosexuality and your AIDS and your false religions (This caused my ears to prick up). Buddha and Islam? I tell you friend, (Which howla would be this kook's friend, I wonder) following Buddha will land you with him in the lake of fire. So will following Islam and all the other.......(This was where I decided to push off)"

A similar encounter occured this evening on my way back from dinner. The weekend being Homecoming weekend, there's a hell of a lot of celebration on campus, read getting drunk and insanely going "Eeeeee.....". Like any decent South Indian grad student, I chose to go for a quiet dinner at a complex some distance away from the maddening crowd. Returning however, while waiting for the light to change (Here you can't cross streets till the light is actually red) I bumped - quite literally - into a second gang of the "Salesmen of Salvation" or "Transmittors of the Truth" or "Promulgators of the holy Prose" or whatever it is they call themselves. Politely, one of the Knights of the New Testament asked me if I knew what Christ did for me. To my polite answer in the negative, together with a "No thanks" when he offered to tell me what he did do, he broke out into a long quotation from the Book of Revelations or something, one of those things that discuss the fate of infidels, and where they're going to roast for all eternity.

The whole thing leaves me irritated, though typical of an Indian, my response was to say "Yes No Sorry Thanks" and push off. To their credit, the majority of the people there (at both gatherings) laughed openly at the Gospel Ghissu Gang present. Who are these chaps to tell me where my soul is going to go? Apart from the word of a book, one of many dating to its time, what do they base their horrible prophecies on? What paticularly annoys me is the talk of "false religion" viz. [Christianity]', in the superset of all beliefs and ways of life. Sure, I'm a beef eater despite my thread, but I pray to Krishna, Vishnu and Shiva. I don't believe in castes and rituals, but I freely subscribe to the contemplations of Sankaracharya and the Dvaita/Advaita theories as to the soul. I have no idea as to where my soul goes after I die, and I don't take reincarnation as a fact, but I believe in my Paati, in her prayers and her love of Goluus and her steadfast belief in the Vishnu Sahasranama. How can I do all this? Because Hinduism, unlike any other faith in the world, has no set of centralized cardinal points that all must prescribe to. In essence, its a faith that mirrors the rest of your life and your actions. Who is a frustrated thumper of a book of a few thousand pages that is meant to carry the word of the Infinite Being to tell me its all false?

Fundie Christianity is like the faith of the Sith "If you're not with me, you're my enemy" is the mantra of the God fundies pray to. Curse them all. May the fleas of a thousand camels feast on the parting between their legs!!!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Classic Issue

Having just completed a month or so at Purdue, I'd started to slide into the usual rut. There's homework to be done before such and such a date, lab work on such and such days and papers to be read for such and such a purpose. All said and done, nice comfy routine. I was quite rudely shaken when I saw Arjun's pics.

For those who don't know, Arjun "Lopa" Nagarajan is a civil eng. student from the class of 2006. His significance is far greater to the batch (Remember Varad's statement - "Yeh to apna 'Almost G-sec' hain") Having managed to somehow complete 4 years in IIT G with his wits about him, Arjun joined Schlumberger, the exploration giant on the look out for engineers, and he technically possessing a B.Tech degree. He's currently based in Alexandria, monitoring oil drilling in the desert before moving on to other things. If things go well, it'll be Sudan in a while, and who knows, Congo,South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, East Pacific, hell, the Moon if they find petrol there.

Precisely what niggles me is the thought of what he's doing. Sure, like I said, things are cool, but there's no real red-hot feeling in it. Not like what's aroused when you think of pottering about the desert in Giza - that would be red-hot, one way or another. The thought of Lopa out there makes me not a little green.

Which brings me to the classic issue that all youth like me face viz. what precisely is it that we lie doing? What is the calling? What is that mystical thing that is our gift, our art, the thing with which we can really make a mark in our lifetime?

More importantly, how precisely do you find it? There are some of chaps (like Pesh) who know exactly what htye're gonna do from Class X. But for those who don't - what is the way? I mean, unless you follow a floating star to a bow and arrow or a music sheet and a guitar or a laboratory with chemicals in it, how do you know what is your thing? The only solution that really occured to me was to sample stuff, and then figure out what appeals to me the most - which is essentially what I am doing now. But then can you really sample EVERYTHING? I mean scuba diving and professional tennis and piloting an aircraft and conserving tigers and making ice cream and herding cattle and acting in porn films and so on and so forth. You'd have to be an Orochimaru of sorts [Refer to to understand what I'm saying] to do that, which can't be very good for your psyche or physically possible.

Fear lurks at me

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Greatest Discovery Possible

Being in the same batch as Ranga who's a genius (period) and VP who can drive himself suddenly to immense activity, I must confess to a certain sense of inadequacy in my 4th year as far as the BTP was concerned. I mean, these guys did stuff. I tried hard, but no rolled-up Havana tobacco, if you know what I mean. My sense of inadequacy was driven out today by my discovery. To all those of the class of 2006, especially biotech guys, I have discovered at Purdue something impossible to replicate with a lifetime of research at MIT. What, you ask? A new protein? A system processor? A Philosopher's Stone? A Chillum that never empties? A way to whack it 30 successful times an hour? I met, on my very first day, a Jhaavar!! Not just somebody with the teeth and crooked smile. I met someone with the same teeth, the same scoffing laugh, the same shifty glance like a rat's and a pig's simultaneously, the same tendency to butt in on other's conversation to dispense unwanted advice, the same depth of delusion as to one's infinite "cool"ness and the same voice. I have yet to carry out the ultimate experiment - I have not asked this Jhavar to explain something to me, stating in between that I did not "get the point", but all other tests show conclusively, that yes, there are two Jhaavars in this world. Or rather, seeing as this one's a girl, a Jhaavar and a Jhaavarin. Not Nobel prize-winning stuff, but a sure statement as to the wonders that this world can hold. A scary thought - Jhaavar is a mere three hours away at UIUC. What if he meets Jhaavarin, and they produce a new race - Homo Jhaavariens, super-Jhaavars, pureblood Jhaavars or something?
Grad School Gazetteering: Pottering about Purdue (My first day)

For those of you who missed the racy tone and salacious narration of the California diaries, I'm back!! Pardon my absence, it took a while to get hold of the adequate resources - the combination of network access and a computer of your own at precisely the time when you're both jobless enough and in the mood for writing. Presented hereforth are some odd vignettes about Purdue and Indiana:

15th of August: Was quite suprised, (and not very pleasantly) to find that the Indian student's association had organized a celebration function for Independence day. There was a flag hosting, anthem singing, some community song-and-dance (both literally and figuratively), and most importantly, free Indian food. Found out all this after the whole thing was over (having just moved in all my stuff, free pseudo-Indian food wasnt quite a priority). The whole thing got me pondering - loving one's home (as in where you live, your village and town and state, hell if you've lived all over the place, your entire country) is one thing, but it doesn't quite equate to flag hosting and anthem-singing en-masse in a foreign university. Kind of jingoistic, and more than slightly saccharine. I mean, we all know we're Indians, we all know our country threw off the shackles of the evil Britishers this day 55 years ago, but is this something to celebrate seven seas away? Call me oddly conservative, but flags and anthems are standards to be borne on their own soil, not elsewhere. If you want to emphasize your Indianness to such an extent, why'd you leave home to begin with? The whole thing reminded me of that Karan Johar movie - K3G, where Ridiculous Roshan teaches his nephew the Jana Gana Mana and makes him sing it in front of the whole school, moving his parents to tears and so on?

Endnote: 98% of those who attended would have done so for the free food and 1.99 of the rest for the additional community get together thing, so I guess the virus of jingoism would not be all that prevalent. I just hope to find the main K3G-esque initiator - the main host to the disease - so I can stay as far away from the hypocrite as possible.