Monday, May 7, 2012

I owe my vision to you

A beautiful Monday morning yet again, mornings have never been any lesser than beautiful to me, because with every morning I believe it’s going to be a wonder day in life. 

Today is much special as I am doubly assured of the beauty of this day. With an old lady from the neighborhood I have taken a tri-wheeler ride to the examination center in Nungambakkam. She has made sure to keep buffer time in hand, so the students and coordinator don’t worry about our arrival. We were sharing a plethora of random thoughts on life, college days, ambition, circumstances, what changes what, also of course my favorite breakfast Idlys…. and a lot more along our way to the exam center. It took us 1 hr 40 minutes to reach the college premises and she introduced me to a student named Dharma. Dharma didn’t know who I was and if I even existed but today he has been waiting for me. I greeted him to say, hello Dharma I am your Ballpoint Pen for this day and I have a name Asti, he smiles charmingly and greets me in timidness.

Dharma is a visually challenged youth and I have offered to be his scribe for the day. I don’t know what is scribing all about, I have only taken care of small children in my second homes all these years, this is different – Dharma is an undergrad student in his mid 20s with a dream to be visible on the pages of success stories and I have this grave responsibility of helping him attain what he aspires for.  As I open my bottle of Nimboos to kill the heated thoughts in my mind, he asks me if I have ever felt blind. I gaze at him, he is gazing at a blurred hallow on the floor, I hear myself saying yes – and the rest of the answer just goes in my mind - ‘I am blind at this moment, I can’t see anything else than a vision of making this day a lifetime experience for you, my success factor for this day is this exam I am going to write for you and I wish the wheel of time stops after that and I remain this way for the rest of my life – blind, if that's what it's called as.

I was given the question paper and answer sheet, I loved the nostalgic crispness and the smell of my own sunny exam days, where my own aspirations and ambitions sprung. I felt it was no different for Dharma, it's the same exam day, the same excitement, flurrying thoughts and the same dream….with the only difference, that he is allowed to share a vision, with me in his case.

I read the question paper for him, page number 1 till 4, in a single go.  He chooses to start with last section first, because he believes those are the highest scorers, wow I thought I was an odd one when I did it years back! I re-read the questions and he formulates answers and instructs me as a master of his art – Section C oblique Question number 3 – Next line - Black Pen – Side Heading – Introduction – Underline.
I was enchanted, I were writing an exam of MA English Literature – Drama II!

Reading the headline, for the first time in this day I felt nervous. I reconfirmed myself, I can do it and I will…..for him. I was obeying him as an upper KG student and he was enjoying his authority to instruct. I was relishing and loving everything about the art Dharma was narrating. It was one of the Shakespeare's classics.  He was explaining me the conflict of love and honor in that play, and I was engrossed tip till toes. He was explaining me characters, demography, incidences, dialogues and progressions as scattered beads and I was at my best comprehending them as closer to precision and narrating them back in coherent sentences. My small skill was being acknowledged and appraised by him time to time, and I liked his approving syllables – yes! yes!that's what I meant!

I noticed him fanning with his handkerchief and realized it was a power cut in a poorly ventilated humid room which I failed to sense anyways, I didn’t need an energy drink anymore, I was centuries back in Cleopatra’s world where there were no air-conditioners.

I thought of sharing the stock of time with Dharma when he scanned his wrist watch with his fingers and affirmed it was 12 noon. All the high scorer questions were attempted by this time but we still had 50% of the question paper yet to be covered and a mere hour left to do so. I was tempted to panic but he was as calm as a baby in mother’s lap. I took a relaxed breathe and continued scribing ….

He asked me to read all 10 questions one more time, out of which we needed to attempt 7.
By this time he was a scheming brain to me, for the questions in section-B, he asked me to write the same introduction and conclusion part as Section-C/Ques2, woah! I were to do copy pasting without ctrlC+ctrlV ! So what if nature has tricked him an unfeeling way, he knew to answer the trick. I chided myself ‘how can I be this bad in copying, scheming, tricking and a lot of other things…no answer, no time to research either, so I continued to be a pen with less brainer and copied the introduction and conclusion portions as suggested by the master of the day. Dharma taught me a lesson to be smart in a blind world.

Section-3 of the question paper, we were supposed to attempt 10 out of 14, one mark each. I started reading the question for him and jumped like a kid before even finishing – I know the answer! I can’t believe it, without reading Shakespeare I now know the characters and their narratives!

We were given 40 minutes extra to finish our exam, I was grateful that evaluators were sensible to this narrator – transcriber pair. Come to the last 5 questions, I saw him sitting back and saying ‘you know the answer right?’. Lovely, though I wasn’t supposed to ‘know’ them in this exam, I took pride in knowing them for him and I went ahead scribing them, following his approval of my knowledge. When the invigilator came to collect our answer sheet, I quickly glanced through the pages filled with grace and glory – Headings Black and Bold – Characters Underlined – Stages Highlighted – Subheadings color coded and everything else shipshape.

While I was feeling ecstatic, I noticed the first anxiety on his face when he asked me how many total pages mam? I said 47 – he looked closer to satisfied and further inquired, how many questions we left? I said 5 of one mark each. He made that one-off reaction that said sheyy! Not enough time!! I didn’t take a minute to reciprocate – hello! we did have time, you didn’t no the answers! We shared a loud laughter together and he gave me a high five – perfectly oriented and I was amazed he was eye to eye with me, perhaps striving for the vision that I have just shared with him. We were friends now.

2:00 in the noon, I take a drive to work wondering in the age of clouds and zombies, where would this little pursuit of vision be placed. I come to work late today but I was glad it was not too late to envision and accompany a dream.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Android to Human - Step back to step forward

Is being high paid so important and ever enough? For a lot us it would be a sort of appalling question to hear. For many though it is a genuine gentle question they might have asked innumerable times to themselves. Earning could possibly never be an abhorrence. However the difference lies in what one wants to earn. Masses of people yearn to earn, everyone in your circles and those in their circles might be seen to be racing for riches. The rule is to rule the ‘game of life’ with the wand of might, and the might is money, period.

I have heard it for as old as I am and everyone else too, but the modus operandi of ‘Earn more money to feel more Powerful’ unfortunately ceases to apply after ascending a few levels on the Maslow's hierarchy of needs.  There is tiny yet swelling size of population who believes that to live is to learn. Though learning incurs some cost, the cost is balanced by the values we discover, values that make us constant practitioners of persistence. It might sound like an old school thought to many of us, but the fact of the matter is that it is already the time to go back to school and check our lessons of moral science business ethics or whatever way you have learned it. I am confident it wasn’t an optional subject then, some of us just chose to skip the sessions and others took pride in filtering them out.

Good news is, the few who have got it right are setting it right. But as you just reflected - they are few and far. How many times you have seen people voicing it up and voicing it unadulterated, calling a day off to retrospectively introspect. Not many and it’s not an obligation either, today’s ultra-specialized society and the super specialist society men can’t afford to step back, they are in a mission to innovate, and the millennium’s theory of disruptive innovation endorses androids and not individuals. So what do we do with the individuals, as we realize we can’t ignore them - deport them to another planet that is evolving on humanoid….or preserve them in chests until they turn into frozen androids.

Zoom in and look within, what draws the line between a Human and an Android. It’s probably the innate capability to stand for our own, having a non-negotiable sense of righteousness and holding tight onto it. Only when we do that, is when we gain the strength to stand for other human – we think or not, the nature thinks it is important! As an approver of humanism, I am ever more concerned about the growing thrust of fitting in an Android frame. There is evidently a lot of Artificial Intelligence around because it has been the vision of 21st century world, however what is the royalty for the very humanness, in the entire commerce of intelligence? How do we deal with people who can’t stand for their values (viz. they don’t choose to) who debase the integrity their own demand that of others because they feel it’s much important to Challenge – Compete - Win. They are the frightened lots at their core, they fear the possibility of dialysis and disapproval, they fear to lose and lose what – the greed that allows them to claim the world having no bigger truth than Androids!

Some sell their truth for means, some for medicines, some for mechanics, some for power and some for a little more politics. Out of all those and more, I would only admire the medicines group, so long as they are used for their humane motives.

What makes it so difficult for people to accept a simple truth....correct a mistake when they commit it. Among Androids, it would be 0 or 1, true or false, right or wrong. Among human beings, it's a chain of learning - learning from faults, criticisms, rectifications and internal wisdom that blooms when we open up to it, a vision that transforms us humanly if we allow it to. People often dismiss or ignore the opportunity for inward transformation because in their  strong opinion it’s much more important to rally with the wisdom of masses and  they think contributing their bit to the messed up modern wisdom is essential for their existence. 
A little extra effort to widen our vision, looking beyond the easy vicinity, taking time to quiet and listening the inner voices, instills a whole rainbow of differences in our perspective. Ultimately at the end of every light-day it’s a call if one wants to exist- lively or lay-lethally.

So the next time you think of rewards, recognize the individual, the human who lives in it and the way he would like to be rewarded – it’s not means and money that matter all the times.

On balance, individuality is to cook your own food, knit your own yarn, do your own dishes, brush your own metal and take your own call when it comes to decision making. In short, it’s the integrity of an individual that matters and not the integral account balance. Individuality is fundamental to human, as the mechanics is to Android. 

With that I remind myself, every android is made for a human touch and not vice versa.