Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Hi Fi connection

Published in Sunday Speaking Tree

 The Hifi connection within

     The ever increasing influence of social media has made a big impact in everyone's life. The internet serves as a portal for continuous interconnectedness.  One can instantly  share moments, emotions, thoughts with others.  This constant need to connect with others tends to isolate rather than connect. Pictures of a family sharing space with one another but each connected  electronically to a distant friend or acquaintance is commonplace.   Another scourge of  these networking tools is the dubious ability  to project an image, and showcase oneself. It  can be used to create a virtual world with images and impressions of being happy, successful, wealthy.  Pictures of marital bliss, being in a totally fulfilling relationship, or being felicitated, honoured or appreciated are ubiquitously featured on most social networking platforms. Does it help to paint an image that obfuscates the reality just to impress others?
How effective can broadcasting a virtual reality in the virtual world really enhance our own standing ?
The difference in how we perceive ourselves vs how others see us is referred to as the Fundamental Attribution Error. Projection of an impression  is a misrepresentation that amplifies this error. Broadcasting a virtual image of oneself merely to seek acknowledgement, appreciation, acceptance and approval erodes ones self esteem. It germinates a  seed of discontent with the reality.  Self appraisal and self esteem is based on what I think of myself and  largely on what I think others think of me.
W H Auden the noted English- American poet opined- "The image of myself which I try to create in my own mind in order that I may love myself is very different from the image which I try to create in the minds of others in order that they may love, respect and accept me."There is invariably a great discrepancy between what others think of me and what I think others think of me. Just as there remains a yawning gap between what I think I am and what I think I would like to be. All  endeavours to project an image of oneself is aimed at minimising these discrepancies. Two simultaneous discordant  images  or beliefs lead to what is known as Cognitive dissonance. The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the perilous conflicting state of mind resulting  from holding two conflicting beliefs. When this discrepancy is formidable, this perceptive parallax creates a quagmire of ones own identity.
    Greater relevance and importance of others opinions of ourselves renders our self esteem very vulnerable. Life becomes a constant struggle to bridge this insurmountable chasm. The image that we have of ourself is intrinsically a virtuality to begin with. All cosmetic upgrades of this virtual image in a virtual world is virtual madness. A candid, pragmatic assessment and acceptance of ourselves and our abilities and limitations is crucial for our well being. Life is too short to be further reduced to merely an effort to depict oneself as  someone that one would like to become or like others to believe one is. Life is too precious a commodity to squander away in this lust to become what I am not.
The real connection that needs to be effected  is the connect with ones own   self. This connection is a HiFi ( high fidelity) connection  and not a Wifi. It requires no device or media. It is a connection that exists by default. Its just that all outward interactions generate too much noise that interrupts this link. Solitude and silence help re'establish this link. Communicating with oneself is meditation. When the observer and the observed merge into a holistic unity, the need to communicate becomes superfluous. One becomes aware that the true self is the conscious awareness that is observing  this virtuality called Me.

Dr Deepak Ranade

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Realism

The perks of a morning sojourn. They surely make the mind contemplative. As i watch this drama unfold, i wonder if this whole universe is really a Reality or just a projection on my consciousness. And then these thoughts develop into some serious musings.

Does 'Reality' really exist?

Our perception of the world we live in is based on  Physical realism.  A conviction that  the physical world we see is real and exists by itself. The evolution of scientific thought and quantum physics in particular has forced us to review our understanding of Physical realism. Quantum theory consistently works, but it does predict particles that entangle, waves that superpose and then yet again collapse to a point. Such phenomenon are physically impossible and are "imaginary." Paradoxically we have a theory of what doesn't exist, to successfully predict what does. A virtuality to understand and explain reality?
Sapta-bhangi Naya ( Syadvada) is an important ideology of the Jain philosophy. It stems from the Sankhya school of "darshana",a premise founded on pluralism. Syadvada is neither nihilistic nor , agnostic. It attempts to underline the limitations of our perception and comprehension to fathom the ultimate truth.   Syadvada alludes to the relativity of knowledge and perception of reality. It proposes seven scenarios or interpretations of reality.
1)It exists,

2)It does not exist

3)It exists and does not exist simultaneously

4)It exists , but can't be asserted

5)It does not exist and cannot be asserted

6)It exists, it simultaneusly does not exist, and it cannot be asserted

7)It can never be asserted.
The first three are fundamental coefficients of reality.Totally subjective. Either it exists, or it doesn't or then it is both simultaneously.
The last four are observer based attributes where the Reality is in relation to an observer and becomes objective.
Western philosophers were also making forays in determining the existence of a Reality. Solipsism was first recorded by the Greek thinker Gorgias (c. 483–375 BC) who stated
Nothing exists.Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it.Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can't be communicated to others.
The Sophists believed that "objective" knowledge of Reality was a literal impossibility.
       Does reality really exist? If it is indeed objective, then it ought to exist independent of the "Perceiver". But if the perceiver is part of the reality, then reality will have to be a phenomenon that will have to be apperceived. Apperception is "the introspective or reflective apprehension by the mind of its own inner states".
Immanuel Kant called this  transcendental apperception in which perception of an object involved the consciousness of the pure self as subject.
Our understanding and comprehension of all that "exists" is based on sensory ccognition. The sense organs have receptors that on stimulating transduce the signal into an electrical impulse which is de-encrypted by the brain to generate images, sounds, textures smells and tastes. Our conviction in the truth of the universe we inhabit relies on the tangibility and uniformity of our cognitive faculties. This tangibility could just be a program of the neural networks. As clinical neuroscientists we do come across gross derangements of cognition that significantly distort perception.
     Quantum Physics unambiguously declares the primacy of the observer for the universe to assert and establish its existence. Can the universe and/or an unchanging reality exist a priori? Could it be a highly consistent projection on the screen of a conscious observer?
A projected image, would certainly fulfil the criterion of the Saptabhangi.It exists, it does not exist, it simultaneusly exists and also not exist. In the absence of a conscious observer, it might exist, it might not, might do both simultaneously, but could never be ascertained.
If the Self contains as also manifests as the universe, then the only reality that exists is the Upanishadic truth
"Aham Brahmaasami" or I the Self am the source, the creator, and observer of this entire Universe.
Dr Deepak Ranade

Guardians of legacy Manjiri Date

There are some people who claim they scripted their own destiny, some who believe that destiny cannot be changed and then there is yet another lot who don't believe in destiny at all. I for one believe that there are a few who just go about working relentlessly without respite. They probably don't even have time to think about such contentious matters and probably end up forcing even destiny to give in to their wish.
  We are always greeted at the door by this 80 plus octagenirian, with a smile, sometimes toothless, but brimming with joy and cheer.
Can't miss that apron tied  round her frail midriff, a testimony to her being set for taking on not just the kitchen chores, but life in general. There must be something in that act of tying those apron strings. It probably anchors more than  just the apron. It also must be tying down the ever fleeting mind to focus on the  task at hand.
Its nice to see her grin widen  as we take our seats. Despite repeated requests to join us, she hobbles along to the kitchen and fetches a small steel container. She opens it and quickly places a couple of coconut barfis on our hand with a quaint remark- "You had said last time that you liked these. So I made them specially for you."
This really touches a very soft spot deep inside my heart. The recipe of making this Barfi is tedious and rather complicated. She must have been through the grind and back breaking process just because i like these coconut yummies.
Mrs Manjiri Date, Medhas mother never ceases to fascinate me. She's the archtypical matriarch, who almost ruled with an iron fist, and yet endeared herself to everyone who crossed her path. She has an opinion on almost everything, but also the desire to learn, to evolve, to motor on.
She is extremely deft with her hands and has ventured into embroidery, tailoring, and many other handicrafts.
Quintessentially a mother who took every possible effort to inculcate the highest of academic standards in her daughters, she always made it a point to network with neighbours and friends to the point of having an extended family. Everyone had a special fondness for Manjukaku. Someone whom all could turn to for a quick consultation on matters ranging from mundane domestic strife to larger issues like taking  financial decisions.  Everyone's agony aunt. She would never let you down. She would immerse herself totally in your problem, sometimes worrying about it more than the person himself. Blessed with a very sharp mind, that needs fodder, in the form of concern or then some issue to worry about, her compassion and need  to get involved very funnily spills over into the torment of even the victims of her daily soap opera shows on television. Its really so fascinating to see her animated reactions while watching her favourite Marathi serials. People like her are noble souls who won't even dream of hurting a fly.
They are God fearing, and very religious. I deliberately use that word because rituals like singing Bhajans, or for that matter maintaining the legacy of a family temple, are done with extreme devotion and faith.  The rituals aren't any fetish but only looked up as the legacy of our rich and varied culture. She never let ritual supersede the sentiment and neither ever ridicule it. She was the master of moderation. The picture is taken in the same temple of Ganesh which she visits and serves on every auspicious day. A true guardian of a legacy, a tradition that enriches rather than enslaves.May your tribe increase.

The Puffed Rice Poha paradox

The "Poha" paradox

It's 3.46 am. Deccan Gymkhana. Opposite the PMPML Central Bus Stand.  I've just finished doing an emergency brain surgery. The patient, a 41 year old cop who fell down at home and sustained a bad contusion( bruised and injured brain with motley haemorrhagic areas) that was really causing pressure on the central portions of the brain- the brain stem. 
The surgery went off well barring the routine irritations of having a rather junior scrub nurse who was in awe of assisting a brain surgery. She was a bit dumbstruck by the proceedings, and irked me by her confused state of mind. Anyways I finish my job on hand and after a safe decompression, I ask my junior to do the honours of suturing up the incision.
I have a word with the anxious relatives, groping for equivalent terms  to explain abstruse concepts and  colloquial terminology for the rather unpredictable and idiosyncratic organ and the  equally intangible pathologies that I have to deal with . After attempting to answer all the rational and irrational queries that even touch philosophy, destiny etc,  I look at the watch and its 3.30. I crank up my pickup and head homeward. As I take the first turn , I see this handcart, a very rustic mini foodtruck if you please.  I had a frugal meal the previous night and the hunger  asserts itself by a sudden, audible peristaltic rumbling. I pull the pickup to one side and make my way to the handcart laden with yummy steaming hot "Pohe".
I park myself in a quiet corner after ordering a plate of Pohe. Ther guy very deftly plunges a serving spoon into that heap of golden yellow Pohe garnished with fried peanuts. He scoops out a couple of servings which he fills up in a small plate. He generously sprinkles it with Shev and tells me to help myself to some pungent spicy Sambar that's looking angry red and fuming in a container.
I reach out for a serving of that sambar and  let it trickle gently on the Pohe.  This dish called Pohe has traditionally been the preparation,  served in the "Boy meets girl" episode of arranged matrimony. A rather innocuous looking simple recipe that inveritably sealed the fates of prospective brides and grooms. I shovel a heaped spoonfull of pohe marinated in that insanely spiced curry into my mouth and the taste buds explode with culinary ecstasy. As I'm indulging in shameless gluttony, my gastronomic lust is rudely intruded by a rather irritating query from a newly arrived 25 something guy. " Sir do you eat at this place regularly?" I turn to look at him in the pitch black darkness of the wee morning hours. And to my chagrin, it's the relative of the patient whom I had just operated.
I feel very uncomfortable and embarrassed as my mouth was almost in a transcendental state and I hurriedly gulped down the partially ruminated Pohe.  I think seeing me, the divine " Saviour" of his brother in a very modest human form,  eating street food just as the rickshaw driver standing next to me was a paradox. I was a far cry from the high flying blue collared professional Neurosurgeon. I decided to make the most of the situation and earn a few brownie points for myself and my noble profession.
 I tell him rather apologetically, that I had not had proper dinner and the surgery had really made my hunger uncontrollable. I try in vain to restore some divinity to this rather banal and mundane indulgence.
Actually,  I'm as much or probably much more vulnerable and anxious than he was since I had no one to ask questions and had to only provide answers.
Answers and accountability to every question hurled at me by the relatives. As he orders a cup of tea and looks hungrily at the dish of  Pohe being served to him, I start back towards my pickup throwing a last glance at the heap of Pohe. A dish that forges alliances, dispels hunger, and above all levels all hierarchies.

Potentiation by dilution

A really thought provoking article.

Potentiating by Diluting.

My temper had bestowed me notoriety. It had become the defining trait of my gregarious and rather overbearing disposition. Initially I took great pride in being able to intimidate and almost terrorise my subordinates. The anger would cascade as the object of my rage looked on helplessly. My ego would lust for that overwhelming sense of power, a sadistic joy  of  trampling all over the self esteem of the person at the receiving end. Such acts were in reality sado-masochistic as i realised later in life. Masochistic because such vulgar and unbridled display of negative vibes travelled inwards as well. Such acts resulted in flooding the circulation with adrenaline and similar neuro-endocrine mediators causing increased heart rates, increase Blood pressure. There was also  a feeling akin to a hangover after the the dressing down session had concluded. The work atmosphere remained vitiated for a few hours as other staff members worked in an uneasy silence. The frequency of such episodes kept increasing and after a while, the staff realized that they had to put up with  momentary lapses of reason. They developed a kind of resistance to this emotional extravaganza. The entire objective of such a brazen and unpleasant display was soon lost. And along with it I ended up losing important staff members too. The ineffectiveness of any therapeutic medication over a period of time is called Tachphylaxis. Its similar to development of resistant strains of bacteria due to the abuse of anti- biotics. There surely had to be a saner, more effective means to express displeasure without causing any collateral damage.
        I  reminisced about how petrified i was of my father as a child. He scarcely would raise his voice when he was upset. The appearance of a wrinkle on his forehead was enough of a cue to all of us in the family. Degree of anger was never subservient to a decibel system. Silence and facial lines very subtly but effectively conveyed their displeasure. An occasional expletive was the sole indicator of  extreme rage. The silent akinetic state kept us guessing and imagining all the possible outcomes. The dose of expressing their resentment was far too diluted. It was paradoxically much more effective than the rather generous dose that I administered to my subordinates. It reminded me of a very perplexing principle of Homeopathy. The basic principle of homeopathy is that a substance that triggers a certain disease can also be used to treat that disease, and diluting the substance increases its potency – a process referred to as potentization or succussion.
Dilution quite paradoxically increases the potency of the drug that is administered.
My mother's very subtle act of adjusting my blanket believing i was fast asleep made my young mind more acutely aware of her tender loving care than the priciest gift that i give my child. Frugality was the order of the day. Frugal means, frugal lifestyles, frugal expressions and frugal desires. The doses for any gratification were fractions of doses required in our present day ostentatious life. Yet the therapeutic effect on the degree of happiness was much greater. Dilution of indulgence was certainly increasing the potency of satisfaction. Dilution almost certainly eliminated the possibility of developing any form of tachyphylaxis. The lower frequency of eating in restaurants certainly ensured sustaining the degree of enjoyment. Indulgence is never the path to contentment. Contentment is a state of mind that empowers it to find happiness in temperance.
The  potency and efficacy of expression of any  emotion might lie in its subtlety. The next provocation saw me merely raising my eyebrows. My assistant scurried for cover, possibly in anticipation of my regular normal animated response. Or perhaps dilution actually potentiated my anger.

Dr. Deepak Ranade

Water inside the boat

Water for thought

The water inside the boat.

The Titanic  one of the largest man made cruise ships of the time capsized. A very tragic event that resulted in loss of hundreds of lives and dented the quest of man's suzeranity over the elements. A colossal vessel that glided over the oceans was consumed by the very waters that she navigated.
People's perceptions, opinions, and judgements are also like the waters of the ocean that each person has to deal with. They offer a resistance very similar to the waters of the sea. The motivation, self belief and confidence are the locomotive forces that power ones journey across this vast expanse. The waters also provide a buoyancy to this vessel quantified by the famous Archimedes  principle.
Archimedes discovered  that the upward buoyant force that is exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially submerged, is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces and acts in the upward direction at the center of mass of the displaced fluid.
Buoyancy is analogous to ones own self belief and self confidence. It is generated by and proportionate to displacing or disregarding others opinions. The greater the strength of one's own convictions and confidence, the greater is the upward force that facilitates navigating this journey of Life. 
The vessel is made impervious to the waters it navigates. Therein lies it's integrity and it's survival.
For some reason, if the waters do breach this integrity, they soon start flooding the interiors of the vessel and irrespective of the size, the powerful engines, the  vessel is doomed.
Undue importance attributed to others opinions renders the vessel of our individuality to high degrees of vulnerability.
One has the choice of deploying these opinions and responses to increase buoyancy by strictly restricting them to the outside.  These waters till they remain outside can very effectively be used to steer the vessel too.  If they breach the boundaries of self respect and find their way inside, they sooner than later will prove to be the nemesis of the Self.
Material wealth, fame and fortune have a similar effect. Till they are unable to invade the integrity of the Self till they remain an Epi phenomenon. When they invade the Self and flood the power of discriminating intellect, they soon capsize the Self.
Navigating the journey of Life successfully and uneventful entails the ability to keep the waters of perceptions of others, material acquisitions, fame success outside the Self. This requires a coating of the water resistant chemical- Humility.
A generous coat of humility, and a deep realisation that all these attributes are momentary and not entirely Self generated certainly protects the Self from these waters that are benedictory till they are outside but transform into annihilation once they find their way inside.

Dr Deepak Ranade

Epitaph of an era

The epitaph of an era

The abrupt and sudden demise of Sridevi Boney Kapoor plunged an entire nation into inconsolable grief and angst. A born actress, who sashayed almost every conceivable role, from the tender age of 4. An artiste whose histrionics, subtle seductive demeanour, and graceful dancing, captured the imagination of all sections, ages and classes of society made an exit from this world that almost superimposed the real with the reel.
A nation with a celluloid obsession went overboard with speculations, conspiracy theorists had a field day, media was on overdrive to spike up the TRPs.
     The sheer efforts, hard work, dedication, application, discipline and prodigious talent never found any mention amidst this hysteria.
Sridevis unfortunate end actually was the end of an era.  An era that was ushered in by this very reticent, underrated young actress who forced everyone to take notice of her by her sheer talent and ability to connect with all segments of the audience.
Sridevi Kapoor (born Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan; 13 August 1963 – 24 February 2018), mononymously known as Sridevi,  starred in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, and Kannada films. She went on to become Hindi cinema's first "female superstar" not a mean feat  in a largely male dominated industry.
 After a string of commercial hits she excelled herself in Sadma released in 1983. This pièce de résistance
brought Sridevi critical acclaim. This film was a remake of her Tamil film Moondram Pirai and is included in the list of '10 Must Watch Movies. Her histrionic abilities brought a smile on the lips and a tear in the eyes simultaneously.
She had the equanimity to take a break of 8 years from the glitz and  glamour of stardom to do full justice to raising a family. This tectonic shift was effected without any trace of doubt ot remorse. The ability to wipe off the paint and mascara to settle into a totally self effacing life of domestic anonymity requires the greatest of strength and conviction. Sridevi played this role to perfection without any audience, awards or acclaim.
Her comeback vehicle saw her reinvent herself playing the role of a shy, middle aged housewife.
The Times of India called it "easily one of the best films of 2012" and Sridevi's performance "a masterclass for actors."
Sridevi next made her mark in her home production titled Mom (2017). It was a milestone of sorts being  her 300th film.It sent the  critics praising Sridevi's performance, and was hailed by one and all.
It established her as the high-priestess of Indian cinema.
Her rather tragic end raised a storm of controversies and conjectures but it was largely because her end signified the end of an era. The end of a breed of thorough bred actresses, who effortlessly slipped in and  out of a plethora of roles, both on and off the screen.