Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Derren Brown Show

What could be more scintillating than knowing that the person standing in front of you can read your mind, that whatever crap is going in your mind can be accurately read and understood by the person in front of you? No, I am not talking philosophical here, I am not talking about soul mates here who know what their better half is upto. I am talking about a professional, a sheer professional who claims that he does not have any psychic powers; all he does is capture the energies that our brains radiate. Each one of us has energies around us, and our thoughts attract those energies. He claims to be aware of those energies and thereby tell what is playing in our minds.

I got totally freaked out when I became aware of this concept. I got freaked out only by his TV show, wonder how would I react when he is actually in front of me. Derren Brown was on the business since the start of the show. There was a huge audience in the large auditorium and he involved as many as he possibly could have in the given time. There were various acts of mastery on display. He asked the audience to write their questions on a sheet of paper and fold it into an opaque envelope with their initials and desk number on the top. Just by reading the initial and desk number, Derren went on to say how old the person who has asked the question is, the sex, the name (!!) and also the question. And phew! He was spot on. Audiences like you and me were aghast; they were more freaked out than I was sitting outside the TV set.

There was another trick in which he asked some people to come on stage and by calling some dead spirits he would make the table move which the people called upon on stage are only touching to ensure that it is actual motion and not a delusion. I initially discarded it saying that probably a magnet has been attached inside the table’s legs and somebody below the stage is driving it (though I am not sure if magnet fitted inside wood is able to create a magnetic field). While all this argument was playing on in my mind and I was about to discard the trick as a nonsense, he commanded the table to rise up. Seeing it rise up for a good 30-40 cm above the ground, my argument failed. I submitted myself.

He dint stop there. After playing lots of similar unbelievable tricks, he threw his masterpiece in which he proved that he could read the minds of hundreds of people gathered in the show at the same time. He was too good there. With his eyes closed, he picked up a 30-35 year old guy sitting far behind in the rows, heard him say a yes, and went on to say that he is not English but of foreign origin, probably Ugandian or/and Indian (!), his name is Sachin (!!) and he recently went for a holiday to Iceland. Sachin was dumbstruck. He admitted each of it being true and that he is totally freaked out.

I was particularly freaked out to see that Derren could guess the names of people (accurate most of the times). Do our names really have so much of importance? Do the energies we radiate have names associated with them? Why did Shakespeare then say “What’s in a name?”?

The show left me restless. Now two days down the line and I am still pondering how all this can be done. How is it possible? The answer is not going to be easy but it will surely be no less than a revelation to go out on a hunt.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A pending tribute to Raiganj

I am born and brought up in Raiganj, a small town in the district of North Dinajpur in West Bengal. I remember as a kid my perpetual quest used to be to spot Raiganj in whichever atlas or geography book I came across. And never being able to spot it used to disappoint me and at the same time also give me a reason to discard that book claiming that it din’t contain enough information. Probably a part reason to why I could never fare very well in Geography. Very recently, to my pleasant surprise I found a small wikipedia entry for Raiganj. The wiki says that as per the 2001 census Raiganj has a total population of just 165,222 with 75% literacy (which is notches above the national average of 59.5%).

Since my mother foresaw a bright future for me, she was very adamant that I do not go to any Bengali medium school and English be my medium of instruction. Being a small town in West Bengal, Raiganj had some renowned Bengali medium schools, but no good English medium school. Hence, as a kid the schools I went to had leaking roofs, no fans and no tube lights. On a rainy day the roofs would leak to fill in the buckets kept under them and on a sunny day the tinned roofs would get as hot as possible and with no fans overhead only added to the torture. My mother had to donate some fans to the school, which followed suit amongst other parents thereby enabling some infrastructural development. However none of the English medium schools had managed to get an affiliation from the central board to conduct the tenth standard examination, so for two years I had to go out to a neighbouring place called Balurghat. I felt Balurghat was only bigger in size and population but much less developed than Raiganj, though that can be argued by some. Those days I missed Raiganj so much that I was ready to pay any price to go back.

So for the final two years of schooling called the twelfth boards, my mother put me into a renowned Bengali medium school with the exception that I would be allowed to take my examinations in English. This meant that all the lectures would be delivered in chaste Bengali. Bengali is my third language but the great deal of fascination for the language helped me manage to understand most of the theory lessons. I, however, found the Mathematics classes very difficult to follow. Knowing a particular language does not guarantee that one can also know Mathematics in that language. I used to struggle to ask questions to the Maths teacher as neither did he understand the equivalent English terms for some of the mathematical concepts. My classmates would make fun of me by calling me a ‘firangi’ meaning a foreigner. And very surprisingly I actually used to love hearing so from them. I never saw it as a mockery; rather I took it as their admiration. I guess I was good at selective hearing and also in extracting the essence that I wanted to hear from a remark/comment. My teachers loved me and appreciated the extra efforts I was putting in to understand all the subjects in a third language. It was a nice challenge to me, and I had a heavy incentive to win as I knew if I dint fare well in exams, then this challenge would only get extended meaning having to do university in third language as well.

I scored the highest marks in not only Raiganj but also in the entire state of West Bengal to which Raiganj belongs. I was on the newspapers and the local TV. I chose to give my interview in English which was commended by the Union Minister on an award function to felicitate my achievement. Raiganj Coronation High School would celebrate its centenary year in 2010 and I feel very proud to be associated with it. Those two years preparing for the twelfth boards were the last years that I spent in Raiganj and the most memorable times of life. Raiganj gave me the recognition for my hard work, and the recognition gave me the confidence that I can do something in life.

This piece of writing is an acknowledgement of my indebtedness to Raiganj and a reminder to my self to work towards my childhood dream of gifting Raiganj with a good English medium school. May God guide me!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A new year gift to you!

Found an old manuscript containing some of my poems I had given to special friends at different points of time in the past. Before nostalgia takes over, let me publish here one of them as a special new year gift to all of you! Let us start this year with a spirit which this poetry conveys!

Jeevan hamesha khushiyan to nahi lata,

Insaan hamesha sab kuchh nahi pata,

Sookh aur dookh samay ke chakra ki tarah hai,

Shanti aur ashanti dono hi har jagah hai.

Kabhi utaar to kabhi chadao-

Kabhi sahaj to kabhi uljhan bhare padao,

Jaise din aur raat, jeena aur marna.

Virah ke dard ke baad milan ki hai bela,

Kabhi hai log saath to kabhi chalna pade akela.

Pehle hai jhagra phir dher saara pyar,

Kabhi hai jeet to kabhi hai haar-

To bhai phir kis baat ka malhaar,

Jiyo zindagi chak do gam yaar.

Pata nahi kal ho na ho,

Pareshaniya to hai par phir bhi tum hanso.

Mana ki tumhara gam kuchh nahi hai kam-

Par lakho logo se phir bhi behtar hai hum,

Unke liye to har ek subah aasha ki nayi kiran hai

Aane wala woh din hi unka jeevan hai.

Shaam hote hi anischittayen gher leti hai unhe,

Agle din ki chintaayen woh jaaker kahe kinhe.

Prem aur vishwaas ki rah se tum na dagmagao,

Ishwar ke prati sachchi bhakti tum mann mein jagao.

Dhyan rakhna ki tum kabhi aham mein na doob jao,

Sahridayta aur vinamrata tum apne mein lao.

Apne aap par rakkho tum poori aashtha,

Sweang hi dikh jayega tumhe woh jagmagata hua raasta!!