If a tree falls in a forest…

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Initially it may seem a trivial question, however on second thought its a philosophical question. It all depends on the definition of sound. The meaning of sound is “vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear.” Thus as per the scientific definition, vibration is sound only if its perceived by the auditory glands of an animal or human. Without the receptor its just vibration and not sound. However philosophically it questions whether the state of an object depends on how it is perceived by a subject. Does something which cannot be perceived by anyone actually exist? And as one can say its not a yes / no answer.

“Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind. One said, “The flag moves.” The other said, “The wind moves.” They argued back and forth but could not agree.
The Sixth Ancestor said, “Gentlemen! It is not the wind that moves; it is not the flag that moves; it is your mind that moves.” The two monks were struck with awe.”
– The Mumonkan Case 29, translation by Robert Aitken

I just briefly explained this because of the title and the introductory question. However this post mainly asks questions on similar lines based on how people behave on social networks these days…

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If you met your friends and didn’t check in online, did you actually meet them?

If you visited a new city or country and didn’t update your FB, WhatsApp, Twitter etc DPs did you actually visit?

If you had dinner at a restaurant and didn’t check in on Zomato, did you actually have dinner?

If you got married or had a baby and you didn’t update your ‘status’ on social networks, did it actually happen?

If you changed your job and didn’t immediately update on LinkedIn, did you actually change the job?

If you went on your honeymoon to an exotic location and didn’t post the pics, did you actually go?

If you bought a new house or car and didn’t post a pic on the same day, did you actually buy it?

If you didn’t write a R.I.P. when someone passed away, didn’t they actually rest in peace?

If you saw a sunrise or sunset and didn’t take a selfie (with your back facing the sun), did you actually see a sunrise or sunset?

If you didn’t change the display picture for a cause, do you actually support it?

I can go on and on. My point is simple, lets enjoy the moments of life. Nothing is wrong or bad about posting updates on social networks. Only that it should not be the first thing we think or do. At the end of day, once in a while its ok to post updates about our life. However doing that EVERYDAY for every single thing that happens in the life surely sounds like a bad idea. Believe me, no one actually cares about the constant updates about our life on social networks. Its more like an information source for others. So why not spread some useful, thought provoking, inspiring, interesting or funny information? It might actually be useful for someone. And if the intent of regular online updates is to maintain a log of the happening of our life then the best idea is to maintain a journal (either in a book or online form). And it can be shared (if you wish) with a few people who actually care about you.

Even i am not perfect. Sometimes even i feel to click a pic or post an update. However, mostly i stop myself until the event has completed and i have thoroughly lived it. Then i rethink whether it should be posted online. Will it be useful for anyone? If the answer is yes, then it its updated, otherwise not. So stop taking a selfie or posting an update instantly. Lets learn to live in the moment. I know it can be hard, as the whole world (or the majority) is doing things the usual way. However its not mandatory that everyone should follow the crowd. Lets enjoy the moments of our life as they come. Lets try to live in the present. Lets push back the thought of immediately posting updates of the happening of our life to sometime later after the event has happened and we have fully experienced it.

Cheers!🙂

Life as an N-ary Tree

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Our life is like an n-ary tree.

Each node of n-ary tree can have n or fewer child nodes. In case of our life, every decision point is a node and all possible options or choices which can be made at that decision point are its child nodes. For example: a career choice is a node, which may have various child nodes or options like engineering, medicine, journalism, law etc. Similarly, it can also have minor day to day decision nodes like restaurants to have dinner at and in this case various possible restaurants will be it’s child nodes. Thus this design can handle all types of decisions and its choices as it’s children.

Also if a same decision is to be made at multiple times in one’s life, then in each case it will be a new instance with same or different choices as children. For example one may wish to make a career change multiple times in life and each time there will be a new decision point with new children.

Thus there are no back-links or backtracking possible in our n-ary tree of life. “Life is a one way and forward is the way to go!” After a choice has been made about a decision, it’s a line in stone, which can never be changed. We can always learn from the choices made in past but we can never undo or delete our choices. NEVER. One has to live with the decisions made in the past. It’s good to learn lessons and make better decisions in future.

Next, lets have a look at the traversal strategy of the n-ary tree of life. Only Depth First Search (DFS) is available. It means that we need to make a decision from all the choices. Breadth First Search (BFS) in which case all the options are explored to the paths they lead and then making an informed decision is not available. For example: It would have been great if we could try multiple career choices for a while and then make a final decision. But it is not so. Every decision is final in the n-ary tree of life and it also has its consequences on the choices available and the decisions which can be made in future. In this case “wisdom” is to make the best possible decision from all available choices based on our limited knowledge of choices and it’s repercussions.

Every choice has a pay-off or value associated with it. It is not known to us but again we can make a guess about it based on our “wisdom”. The basic strategy is to choose the path of life which has the maximum pay-off. However given that life offers only Depth First Search and that too without backtracking, it’s really difficult although not impossible to find it. Some of the paths may be close to best, some worst and some mediocre.

Also as in case of n-ary trees, greedy strategy may not be the best possible strategy. Firstly it’s not possible to find the best choice out of all available choices. And secondly even if the best choice is made, the current best choice may not necessarily be on the best or good paths of life. Similarly, sometimes even a low-paying current choice may actually lie of the better paths of life. Thus we should not to get disheartened by the current low pay-off choice as it may possibly lie on on of the better paths. Always have hope of making better choices in future which lead to better paths.

So actually, our life is not about the road not taken, it’s about the decisions made at every decision point in our life. We are the controllers of our n-ary trees of life. It’s always in our hands to make a decision out of all available choices. Let’s be brave to accept and face the decisions we have taken in past. More importantly, let’s gain the wisdom, to take the right decisions in our lives which maximizes the overall pay-off and leads to the best possible path in life.

P.S. –

My First 5k

My 5k trail by Runtastic.

My 5k trail by Runtastic.

I have recently started exercising and gyming. I wanted to take part in 5k sometime and then i read about Automattics’s Worldwide WP 5k. I was not sure if i was prepared for it yet. But then i decided to give it a try today. It was a walk+jog. It was fun!

With a pair of sneakers all laced up,
An upbeat playlist to keep the spirits up,
Path lined up with lush green trees,
And lit up by the morning sun,
I was unsure if i could complete the run,
I walked and jogged and huffed and puffed,
Halfway through it got a bit easier,
The goal was getting a lot nearer,
All i could think of was WATER!
Legs ached but just a few steps more..
And i successfully completed my first 5k!

Yay!! I completed my first 5k. It is dedicated to Automattics’s Worldwide WP 5k. I took me less than an hour. I know its not great, but with just 15 days of practice, it’s good enough for me. Looking forward to improve the time further and take part in more 5ks!

Stay Healthy! Stay Fit!

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Anything is possible for a superman with sneakers and headphones!😀

Smart city of my dreams

I am lucky to work in the IT sector, where all i need is a laptop and internet connection and i can easily work from home. However on days when i go to office, I get frustrated when i need to spend hours stuck in traffic. I then spend my commute time thinking of various ways in which traffic can be reduced, so that travelling to and fro to work doesn’t become a nightmare. My craziest idea so far is to own a helicopter for going to work😀 But then it is turning out to be too expensive. Also if it becomes cost effective, then there would be traffic jams in sky😀 I could not think of any way so that the current situation can be significantly improved by modifying my city. So, i decided to create a plan of my dream smart city. A city, which is clean and healthy, which has lot of open spaces, parks and lawns, lakes, which has easy accessibility to basic necessities and most important of all, clean fast free flowing traffic. After lot of thinking, planning and designing i have finally come up with the plan of the smart city of my dreams. This is my recommended plan if a new city is to be built from scratch which will have its own rules an regulations. This plan of a city is designed considering that most of people work in regular offices (Example- IT Industry). It will need some modifications if the city has a lot of manufacturing industries or import export factories.

A Single Block of City

Let us start with a basic building block of the city as shown in figure above. It is a round area divided into four parts. One forth part will have parks, lawns, trees and lots of greenery. Another quarter will be a huge water body like a lake (which can be either natural or man made) with pathways to walk/cycle around. One quarter will have huge multi-storey offices and finally the last quarter will have residential buildings. Residential building will be of all varieties like few independent houses and multi-storey apartments. There will be a block center having a recreation center, a shopping center, a school, a day care, all located within the premises of the block. Complete block will be connected to the high speed internet using WiFi. There will also be a recycling point which will recycle all the waste generated in the block.  Ideally each block should recycle its own waste and also generate sufficient energy (mainly from renewable sources) for itself. This will prevent from laying down electricity and sewage lines all over the city. Rain water harvesting can be done in all the blocks. This will increase the ground water level. With the increased water level, these water bodies won’t dry up even in summers.

All four quarters will be well connected by roads. Roads will be mostly used for walking or cycling. However there will also be separate lane for electric cars only. Also there will be free transport within a block so that people can easily commute to any point within the block. Its mandatory for people working in the offices to stay in the residential buildings of that block. Also its mandatory to send kids to the school situated within the block. Also just like organizations buy/rent office space these days, here they need to buy complete blocks. People cannot own the houses. They can stay as long as atleast one person in a family works in one of the offices of the block. If people change their jobs then they change their homes as well in the new block where they will work.

Plan of Smart City

Overall plan of the city is as shown above. Its planned in a circular manner with multiple independent blocks. I my opinion a circular plan is more effective than regular grid like plan if the best technology is used in all parts of the city. At the core of the city will be the airport and high speed train station which will connect this city to other cities. All the dotted lines in the figure represent multi-lane roads + metro-way. There will be tracks in circles around the city and some straight tracks. The inner most circle will have blocks of highest importance for all. For example as shown in figure some of the inner circle blocks may be like the administrative offices, police stations and judiciary, recreation centers with all the facilities one can dream of, colleges and universities, multi-specialty hospital and so on. There will be multiple concentric circles each having multiple blocks. Organizations can buy/rent blocks as per the number of people they require. Some of the blocks may be museums, huge water bodies or forested areas. On the extreme ends there might be a few factories and industries.

There will be high speed metro lines in each of the dotted concentric circles as shown in figure. Also there will be some straight metro lines. At all the intersections there can be metro stations. All the blocks will be well connected to their nearby metro station points. Also there will be multi lane roads on the same path. Thus complete city will be well connected. People need not travel long distances to work. In most cases, offices will be in walking distance from residence within a block. Sometimes people might wish to go outside their blocks, and in that case they are connected to all parts of the city by the web of road and metro. Metro will be the preferred mode of transport as compared to independent vehicles. However there will be well spaced charging docks for the electric cars.

In the worst case, if every couple works in offices located in different blocks, then one of them needs to travel outside the block. So even in the worst case, atmost 50% of the population will travel outside the block, although its highly unlikely. Even then it should not be a problem due to well connected metro lines, roads and easy last mile connectivity to the blocks. Assume that a person of an inner block needs to travel farthest to a diametrically opposite outer most block. First he can travel to the outer most circle using the nearest straight line and then take the metro of that circle to that block. Most blocks are thus connected in around two hops.

In this city, people need not invest and spend huge EMIs for homes and cars. They can spend their money in other areas. After retirement people can either stay with their kids or they can stay in specially designed blocks for retired people. The cities can easily expand by adding more circles. It will require adding another concentric metro and road. And extending the straight roads. Expansion thus won’t hamper the other parts of the city. The best part is that most people will stay close to their offices. It will significantly reduce daily long commute times and also reduce air pollution. Also all the space between the blocks can have huge lawns and forested area. Additionally each block will have its own garden and lakes. This will surely make this city a “blue-green city”.

This is my dream smart city. With proper planning and technology, it solves all major problems that atleast i can think of. It would be great to see an actual city built as per this plan. Till then i will plug in my earphones and dream of travelling in the high speed metro in my dream city while i slowly pass through traffic in reality😉

PS – I would like to have your suggestions and feedback about my dream smart city. What changes or modifications do you suggest? What are some of the issues and problems of this city? How can these be resolved. Also i would also love to hear about your dream city. How would you plan your dream city?

Killa: Movie Review

Killa (a fort) is the story of a 11 year old boy, Chinmay. Its a story about learning things by oneself. Its a story about facing challenges. Its a story about losing one’s father. Its a story about the beautiful mom-son bond. Its a story about relocating. Its a story about making friends. Its a story about growing up. Its a story about learning to live life!

This movie has been shot in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, India. The cinematography is awesome! The endless rains. The fort. Moss growing in the crevasses of the fort walls. Lush green surroundings.

The roaring sea. A lighthouse! Pools filled to the brim with cool blue water. Fishes and crabs. Coconut trees. It has been captured  in such a beautiful way, that i am sure you will feel like visiting this place.

Chinmay is a young, introvert boy who has recently lost his father and has to relocate to a village due to transfer of his mother’s government job. The movie depicts how he adapts to changes in his life both outside and within. The mother and son relationship is brilliantly played by both the actors. Many a times they need not say a word, their expressions are sufficient to know how they are feeling and what they want to convey to the audience.. Although they can’t exactly share their problems with each other, but they understand and support one another.

Another thing which i liked about the movie is that not each and every detail is presented to the user. The blocks are arranged just so that a person can understand the flow of the movie and connect the dots.

It brings back the growing up days of childhood. The nostalgia.. Times spent with friends. Cycle races. Exams in schools. Crushes. Fights and patching up among friends. The happiness of new school bag and books. Endless games with friends. Getting drenched in rain. And lot more!

Its a great movie. The performance of all members of the cast is brilliant. The cinamatography is amazing. The plot is nice and touching. Great music. Also, its available with English subtitles, so people not knowing Marathi can enjoy as well.

I just loved the poem which beautifully describes the plot of the movie. Although its best read in Marathi, however even the English translation is good.

The Sea bore an array of perils
A mighty storm ambushed the lone sailor
The sail snapped, the nails unhooked
The sailor persisted, unfazed by what lay ahead
Luckless, the knots of skill turned loose
He stood there alone, the storm slapped its noose
A life lived in benevolence will not let faith wither
He overcame fear and the storm lulled into slither
Courage of the universe, regathers in a single moment
A hundred arm’s strength regains, as the memory of mother returns

Deep, Isn’t it?🙂

One year in the “Real” World

Today marks the completion of one full year in the “real” world for me. I mean since the time i can remember, i was busy with academics… pre-school, school, graduation, post graduation… I was used to my academic life. And its obvious, if we do something for so long then it becomes a habit, a routine, a way of life.

But exactly one year ago, it all came to an end (for now😉 ). On this day, one year ago, masters convocation was celebrated, graduate degrees were awarded, caps were thrown high in the sky and then suddenly it was time to change… It was not a gradual change. It was a drastic change. Today we were students and tomorrow professionals. It was almost like throwing a fish which had always stayed in the small protective bowl into the huge ocean.  It was known long before, that this would happen, but then, knowing and finally experiencing is a lot different!

This change brought a lot of changes in life… From casual/informal clothes to formals, from night-outs to waking up early, from group studies to group meeting, from classroom to boardroom, from meeting friends daily to meeting them after a lot of planning, from daily chit-chat with friends to infrequent messages on Watsapp, from random project groups to random people in office teams, from grades and spi to ratings, from stipend to salary, from profs and deans to bosses and managers, from parties with friends to team lunches and outings, from walks in college to chai breaks in office, from project meetings to office calls, from daily attendance to filling time-sheet, from real classes to classes and trainings online, from reading 1-2 papers in a semester to reading 1 paper every week. Things have changed, yet they have remained  same…

Life has changed. It was bound to happen. This one year has been like a roller coaster for me! Full of up and downs. More appropriately, downs and ups (in the correct sequence). Faced worse times.. Understood the importance of the area and type of work which i wanted to do, the hard way. Worked hard to bring the change… I am happy, atleast later on, things changed for good for me. In this one year, i have met so many people.. Colleagues and friends. Learnt to handle difficult people and then met some of the the most humble and down to earth people.  Learnt many new cool things! Discovered myself in ways, i myself didn’t know. Understood things i like, things i value. Discovered and worked in areas which i find interesting. Met people, whom i can look up to. “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” ~P.B. Shelly I am happy that for me, spring came when i could wait no more🙂

I am nostalgic about the previous part of my life. But i am also happy to have experienced the change. It has made me a lot more mature. It has shown me that one needs to put in lots of efforts to fulfil one’s dreams. Also funnily and strangely, its more satisfying to learn life lessons the hard way. I also learnt, that it helps if one knows what one wants. And with what intensity. What things are we ready to give up, in order to get the things we want? Probably, then its easy to take decisions in life. This year has taught me how to prioritize the things that matter the most to me.

Change can be both good and bad,
A person may be both happy and sad.
Its best to learn something new everyday,
Striving ahead, no matter what others say.
Life is not a race, to win or compete,
But to follow one’s dreams, however offbeat.
Creating new music and silencing the din.
Balancing between angels & demons within.

Hoping for happier times ahead, with new lessons and new challenges!🙂

Book Review: The Book Thief

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What a book! The book thief by Markus Zusak is a story of a 9 nine year old girl Liesel in Germany during the time of World War II. Strangely the book is narrated by ‘death’. Initially it sounds a bit strange and creepy to see the world from the eyes of death whose job is to collect the souls of the dead. This is what it had been doing since forever. It is tired of doing so and wants a break. But then there is no substitute of death.

I knew about the WWII partially. But this book presents the actual life of the common peasants during those time. One can feel and visualize the hardships faced by the people. Scarcity of basic necessities. Ill treatment of the Jews. Concentration camps. Marches and parades. Horror dreams of the survivors. Watching near and dear ones die in front of one’s own eyes. War times. Death describes how war was very difficult time for it, as it had to collect so many souls of the dead…

The story is about Liesel who is abandoned by her parents to a foster family as they are unable to take care of their children. On the way Liesel watches her brother die and this memory haunts her for a long time. Her foster mother is a short tempered, talkative woman. There is a very beautiful relationship between her foster father and her. He patiently teaches her to read and write, which plays a major role in her life ahead. He is like a pillar of strength and support for her. She is friends with a neighbourhood boy Rudy and they have great times together. Numerous happenings of her life are described like.. Her school life. Football games in the evenings. Helping her Mama in the daily chores. And food of her life – reading. Sometimes the story seems so normal just like a regular day.. But then suddenly there is bombing and war. Probably that’s how even our life is… most of the part is routine life filled with happy and sad times in between..

The main thing which keeps Liesel sane in difficult times is her love for books. Papa teaches her to read and write initially. The progress is slow. But Liesel loves reading and very soon picks up. Together they read the same book multiple times every night. Her passion for reading is so strong that she starts stealing books and is thus called a book thief. Later on she writes her own story in the form of book which ultimately saves her life during WWII. This book shows the power of words on individuals and masses.

The book is about 550 pages. All the charecters are describes so well that they almost come to life in our minds. There is not much of suspense as readers can foresee some of the events (mainly deaths). Still the overall story builds up nicely. I would recommend reading it in a day or two to get the complete feel of the narration. It will make one think about life, death, friendship, love, challenges, hardships, inspirations and much more. More importantly how to find and then hold on to ray of hope in grim times.

“The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn’t be any of this.”