Thursday, August 27, 2015

Jantar Mantar of the Mind


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that we all get what we deserve.

But sometimes ,  some get what they reserve.

The reservation is sometimes a result of rushing around, standing in lines, following some rules , and coming up with something in hand. There is no restriction on who can put in how much effort for getting whatever, in the need of the hour. 

Then again , it is often sometimes , the result of new rules, designed to favour and offer opportunities , to those normally deprived of them , for reasons , economic , or those of size-of-their-population.  There is effort required here too.  But there a push built in. 

It might be said that all this must be done for the greater good.

But sometimes we lose sight of the greater good....  and sometimes there is always Jantar Mantar .

  I am fascinated by the human body , and the similarities between our society,  and how things are managed in our own bodies, by whoever designed them,  and  i wondered how things would be if we introduced reservation within the body.

At an average weight of 10,886 grams the skin is the biggest human organ.
The liver, with an average weight of 1560 gms comes second.
The Brain , with an average weight of 1263 gms, comes third.  
Lungs (both) with an average weight of 1060  gms come fourth. 
The Heart, is fifth at approximately 300 gms.
The kidneys  come sixth at around 290 gms.
The spleen is 7th at 170 gms.  
The pancreas are 8th at 98 gms.
The  thyroid come 9th at 35 gms.
The prostate, found only in males, comes 10th at 20 gms.

At least in our bodies, might is not right.   

Skin, simply does not throw its weight around (though it excels at throwing volume around), despite being the biggest. It quietly works hard at what it is supposed to do, at the frontlines, often supported ably by internal networks . Very clearly, its wellbeing depends on those like the heart  which provides blood to it, and those like the kidneys  that ensure that it is good blood.  Like a responsible heavyweight elder, the Liver, is like the treasury, releasing different kinds of stored substances here and there , to keep things healthy and flowing well, and , say, benefiting the skin.  

The heart, although fifth in size, is actually like a Founder. It is the first organ a fetus develops inside the maternal uterus. It has its own electrical pump system, and basically provides resources to the Body Company.  It mostly inspires the various sections to perform well, gives them many chances if they don't, and like a Founder Chairperson, takes appropriate decisions in the best interests of the company.

The liver , although bigger (than the heart, and 2nd by weight) is like the ancestral house, large and heavily furnished, providing excellent storage and forwarding facilities .  It simply does not exhibit its despair,  till it has tried and tried to keep going. At the end of the day, it listens to the Chairperson Heart .

One can go on and on describing the human body in terms of an industrial set up or a society comprised of folks with different duties and abilities.

But one wonders what would happen if,  say ,  the kidneys, 6th in importance by weight, simply demanded  that they would withhold  getting the dirt out of our blood, unless they were given a place somewhere in front, like the stomach .

Or say, the lungs,  4th powerful by size, knowing that they were an ally of the heart at the Blood Exchange, suddenly demanded a removal of the thoracic rib barricade they suffered like a chaperone all their life.

The spleen, quietly , imbibing qualities of the human fist, whose size it mimics at 170 gms,  suddenly turning militant and refusing to make the red an white cell pulp, till it was given more importance ; I mean there is a limit to how long you can be ignored in a company despite putting in years of decent work.....

And what would happen, if the pancreas, which are actually the "nouveau riche", loaded with insulin factories, suddenly decide to have a lock out, despite pleading from the Kidney Ketone ladies?  I mean there is just so much they can tolerate regarding outside interference of drugs in the blood.   

It could be the thyroid, hitherto involved in managing slowdowns and rushed work, which might suddenly protest at being ordered around by  tiny but powerful  pituitary types using the brain as a front and decide to enforce a go-slow.

At the end of the day,  the Brain, not the biggest, but, which as the CEO , handles the day-to-day stuff, must take wise decisions.  The founder, the Chairperson Heart, has given it most of the powers , but it must use its experience from memory,  and not give in to the weird demands of the various organs, regardless of their size.

Occasional temporary slight relaxation of rules might work,  but the CEO Brain often goes about things in such a way, that the complaining organ ends up learning a lesson by itself,  atrophying , shrinking or even getting into neighboring fights , and straightens out itself.

Random, blatant, divisive disobedience  in our bodies, often ends up being carcinogenic.  And what follows is  a lot of chemical warfare with tons of collateral damage.

And so the various organs, have learned to respect each others abilities , duties, and attention to detail,  and learned to ignore size.  The CEO Brain, has developed the ability to adapt itself to the need of the hour, sometimes drastically. The interesting fact is that most of the various sized organs, hitherto protesting for a guaranteed  piece of the power pie , have realized that they are part of the whole, and when benefits happen, their share always trickles down to them.  

They need no reservations. Mostly because the Heart, Chairman of the Board, and the CEO Brain, work constructively and with great understanding and innovation, to keep things happy and running. Of course , the external environment greatly matters, but they ensure that the White Blood Corpuscular Security Plus is fully geared to handle things effectively along with the Cilia Militia..

Can we learn from this ?  I don't know.

There is something to learn, both for the Chairman and CEO as well as for the participating folks. 

Whether in the body or in real life .

The only difference is  power has not corrupted the body.  And there are no Jantar Mantars here. In any mind of any organ.
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I keep forgetting these are Organs and not Organizations !
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Just my 2 paisa worth......






Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Different Speciality....


My first seven years of school  were spent in a system where something called the Senior Cambridge Board was in operation, and for some reason, somewhere in Class 6, I heard about the Pharynx, Larynx, Oesophagus, and Epiglottis.  ( Throat, Voice Box, Food Pipe, and Flap-that-keeps-food-from-getting-into-the-windpipe, respectively , to those bothered by fancy nomenclature). 

And I was hooked.

Since then several doctors, and unsuspecting friends have been at the receiving end of surprising diagnoses.

I remember the time I  was around 11 and had this swelling in the throat as children usually do, my voice had alarmingly changed, and my mother was on the phone to our family doctor who lived in the next building, when I wildly gesticulated and told her to tell him the pharynx was inflamed . He was vastly amused and immediately asked her to start me on gargles and steaming and he would stop by later to check.

He was the beginning of a large set of doctors , to whom, I asked (and continue to ask) all kinds of questions about anatomy , and who patiently answered , every single time, without letting on what they really thought of me.

I changed schools in class 8, and joined another school that functioned under the Maharashtra School Board. This meant  that I traveled by a specific bus across the city everyday at a fixed time to make it to school, and it was just providence that the school was next to the B.J.Medical College in Pune. The same bus used to be taken by lots of lady students of the college, with very thick black bound volumes called Gray's Anatomy.  This book had countless pictures , particularly of the skeleton, and I used to pour over these books during the ride, giving me a nodding acquaintance  with tibias, fibulas, femurs,thorax, scapula and so on.

But a separation was on the cards. Report  cards , that is. Somewhere in the second year of college, we had to choose between biology and maths. I was very good at both, and ended up choosing math. Since then , I have moved further and further away from formal biological learning, but once I was free of academics , I got back to my old interest.

I read books, and then the Internet happened. To me , it was a Khul Ja Sim Sim moment.

Long, long, before Google happened, we used to use something called Lynx  at work , and it would display search results; when you clicked on a specific one, it would actually show you the bytes loading one by one in the left lower corner, till the actual site appeared; it was almost like counting each and every chana dal grain while eating a PuranPoli.  

I  searched for a family member's knee symptoms, and came up with Chondromalacia.  The only other person who had said that word , was his doctor ! And so folks were amazed.  I also found treatments , but was a bit more quiet about that. 

Then Google came on the scene.  Articles and books became available.  You could see graphics and diagrams of all kinds of stuff. You could join all kinds of interest groups, and wonder about coming across someone from Kansas having the same problem as you did, and what worked for them .   

There were of course some embarrassing episodes, where a friend was describing her lower leg pain consequent to a back trauma, and I searched and found out about "claudication".  I also learned about the possibility of someone listening to your femoral artery (in the legs) sounds with a stethoscope, and looking for flowing river sounds to ascertain about blockages.  This friend and I immediately rushed to our gynaec friend at our hospital , who by then was used to these learning situations. She humoured us by doing the blood flow sounds, and allowing us to hear (not that we could tell anything) , and then told us that claudication was a serious thing, and one didn't go traipsing around like this if so afflicted.  So my friend didn't have claudication, she was relieved, I learned something, and the doctor probably had a big laugh.    

Another time, I had some knee problem, very painful after a fall.  Naturally, an appointment with the hospital orthopaedic person was advised , X-rays were done, but I googled till then to find out just what was going on, and discovered the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. The orthopaedic doctor had me lie down, and move my leg in various ways to ascertain pains vis a vis movements.  No one could figure out why a lady in pain would be smiling so much after the doc mentioned the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. I was just thrilled to bits. To this day, I think the quick healing had a lot to do with this attitude of respect and recognition accorded to the ACL.  

Late in the sixth decade of my life, facing some extreme gynaec issues, it was like doing a course on Uterus 101.  I had a lot of questions about some anatomical constructions in the region, and the purpose behind making things so difficult. I was now on backslapping terms with endometrial lining sizes, OS, laparoscopic methods,  unnecessary hysterectomies,  anemia, hypothyroid, and other friends. There was an element of "mind over uterus"  with all the treatments, and I even dreamed a certain size of endometrial lining  once, only to have the radiologist on duty give me a high five when she found out the identical lining size the next day during a sonography session.  Science be damned, but I think I brought a few moments of entertainment in the lives of the busy doctors.  That the entire issue got solved later as an amazing example of a different "mind over uterus"  is something that even my doctor will agree upon, and is actually material for a separate post or conference paper.

Which leads me to the belief that there are cells that "think" all over our body.  That there is a brain branch in our gut is well known.  But I am talking about the sort of "cell thinking"  that is aware of what I am thinking otherwise.  Every living tissue of consequence probably "thinks". And is aware of the mind, per se.  There is the heart, that endlessly beats to the tune of Nishkaam Karma; there is the Liver, that is so busy releasing and storing stuff into and from our blood  for difficult times ahead, that it ignores itself, and shows weakness only after it is 80%  gone , to the dogs, as they say.  

And so you are smitten by the anatomy, the brain, you delight in correct diagnoses, and you develop an immensely huge respect for medications  and pharmacy formulations. You have great admiration for those who take the trouble to explain pros and cons of certain medications, in the face of popular treatment protocols.    And you have immense respect for a cardiac interventionist , who kept a straight face when you noticed copious urine in the ICU bag, and asked if the kidney was throwing out all the "blood thinner" medication  stuff .  And you applaud those who actually draw diagrams and explain to you what is happening,  when you ask stupid questions. And a recent episode where I jumped to multiple sclerosis after the doctor mentioned Myelin, will be kept in reserve for another post.

Sometimes though, you make anatomical poems, and some doctors are shocked. Never Mind. 

Possibly, some of my interest in  run-of-the-mill interpretations of serious things, has been passed on to the next generation.

The daughter, several years ago, single digits in age,  explaining her pain to the dentist, said she had a heartbeat in her gums.  (I think he missed a beat)

The son, again in single digits of age, listened to his grandma explain why she wore footwear in the house, as she had diabetes and needed to protect her feet from wounds, as they might heal slow. He routinely heard talk about high and low "sugar" then as his grandparents were diabetics.  The one fine day, he tells his diagnosis.

The medicines for the foot wound , would be reaching there late , mixed with the blood, as unlike other non diabetic folk, grandma had slow moving thick sugar syrup style blood  flowing all across.  His grandma, who was treated by the country's leading diabetes authority had never heard such a fun diagnosis.

 One of my doctor friends once mentioned that I could still go in for formal medicine training; medical college , that is.  She thinks I am really cut out for it, since I already exhibit certain second year  MBBS signs, of suspecting that I have the disease symptoms, that I  am actually reading about.

The only problem is, I am not sure , that even though I hold a Masters degree in Physics , that I will be able to make it through today's  complicated  XII Boards......  

:-) 

( In the meanwhile, I can almost hear collective sighs of relief, that I am not likely to be a doctor; Ph.D or otherwise....) 
        

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Death : Digital and otherwise


1956. I must have been seven years old then, and I often wondered why my mother was spending so much time at her brother's place, and why , this time, my paternal aunt downstairs was now involved in organizing my birthday.  I might have been considered too young to understand.

My maternal grandfather was sick, bedridden, and sinking. The family rallied around, spending time with him, trying to communicate with him, even though he didn't seem to be responding. My first encounter with a death, was when we were all taken to my uncle's place, to do namaskars to my late grandfather.  We grandkids, of a certain age , took a bit of time understanding what had happened, and learned to accept that people gradually fade away  and become a memory.  Those children who stayed in that house, saw the ebbing away of a life in detail, and unconsciously learned a lot.

There were no ICU, ICCU's and fancy hospitals.  Yes, specialists were there, and they came on the request of the family doctor,  in consultation with the immediate family.  There was a certain sense of respect.  Perhaps for the patient, perhaps for the inevitable unfolding of a life stage, and for the immense knowledge and advice of the doctors.  Elders of the family often knew the signs , the breathing, perhaps the last glow of a tired flame, and life, as we knew it, quietly tiptoed around.

It has been my honored lot to assist at  bereavements in my late adult life, a few , in hospitals, when near and dear ones were in ICU's. 

And I have often wondered whether death had now become digital, a war of numbers, finally, unequivocally, asymptotically,  visually, going to zero. Or perhaps , even infinity. 

A sick person, in clinical isolation, intubated, catheterised, wired and masked, struggling through flashing numbers, and beeps.  Periodic visits by impersonal nurses /ayahs and doctors on rounds, and a glimmer of life around through sedated eyes. No family allowed in. Sometimes drastic electrical treatments to revive a sinking, and shocked family sometimes seeing the struggle through small windows.

Some are hard fought victories,  an ode to the brilliant medicine being practiced, and people go on to several more years of  a slightly more disciplined life.   Some are, humble acceptances of the inevitable, after having tried one's best.

But what bothers me in this new protocol, is when patients are kept artificially alive for days together, and decisions for "switching off life" per se,  are left , to the immediate family.  There are counsellors, there is gentle prodding.  and many times, a hitherto quiet spouse, child or parent, shows immense strength of mind and takes a  tough decision.  (While some others, make it their business to ask traumatic questions that trouble the immediate family).

What , strangely,  does not bother me so much, is the possibility of transplanting working anatomy to another needy person, perhaps young, perhaps a child, to give a gift of life, where no hope exists.   

Perhaps, its a sign of age or life stage, that one tries to find a golden mean

There have been deaths , where at home, a quiet shutting down of systems was noticed,  some typical breathing was noted.  A doctor in the house was at the bedside . Family gathering around.  And the lady who spent more than half a century with the patient, mentoring the aforementioned family , accepting it all with stoic grace. Asking her son to sit by, and take his father's head in his lap, as  is the custom.

A quiet respectful passing away. An even more quiet phone call to the eye bank, and the uneventful arrival of its personnel. Ten fifteen minutes behind closed doors, and they leave quietly with gratitude, as the patient lies, as if in sleep, totally unaware of his amazing gift of eyes to someone.  The family converges once again around the just departed, thinking about how life has changed.

There have been situations where one was the sole person watching life ebb away from a close relative with a terminal situation, and one stood holding his hand, watching and trying to decipher moving lips, and  perhaps , involuntary hand movements; perhaps a last brightening of the mind, before the shutdown, and one wondered what must have been going through his mind, while one tried to calm one's troubled mind, trying to wish away what was happening. Then doctors, relatives, and the kicking in of a social system that keeps you from dwelling solely on your loss as you deal with visitors, phone calls, and yes, the eye bank and skin bank people.

Sometimes, it takes a perceptive doctor  to see you through the toughest moments.

A very close relative, a lady , was rushed to our local hospital ,  after what was later diagnosed as a massive heart attack.  The lady was very alert, smiled at the doctor, asked me to get her glasses and shawl from her bag, so she could see what the nurses and doctor were up to. Lots of intravenous stuff being initiated, BP being tracked, and  one suddenly noticed, a closing of eyes, and a twitching of the mouth , happening with much frequency, and pointed it out to the doctor, who immediately stuck fingers in the patients mouth . One noticed a  way to contribute in the proceedings, and immediately freed the doctor by offering to sit with one's fingers in the patient's mouth, while alternative treatments and arrangements were effected.

The patient had actually passed away then, nails turning blue and all, and to this day, I remember the force with which the teeth had clamped down on my fingers.  I slowly climbed down from the big high trolley bed, and went to stand with family that had gathered outside, still coming to terms  with what had happened  in the space of an hour. .

Much after all the formalities were completed, and we brought her home, the doctor came by to visit the next day,  and comforted the family saying, that in the last moments it was as if I had "offered my lap" , so to speak .

There is much to be admired in the advance of medicine and treatment techniques. There is much to be  admired in the capabilities and efficiencies of doctors. 

Somewhere, it occurs to mind, that  it has to be more than numbers. More than a straight line implying the stopping of a heart.

Somewhere, perhaps inexplicably, the departing may sense a family wishing him farewell. Offering a lap, holding a hand, giving a drink of holy water.....


Life is , and has never been  a straight line.  There is no reason that death should be one.   

      

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Perils of a Synesthesized Society.


Ever heard of Synesthesia ?   No ?  Ah well, at the outset , let us just say that it has simply nothing to do with a similar sounding Anesthesia.

Turns out,  Synesthesia is a condition  , where stimulation of one sense in a human, automatically evokes a "perception " in an unstimulated sense .

For many years I marveled at the way all our senses are "managed" in our brain. Touch, sight, hearing, taste , smell,  all developing to the level they do as we travel to adulthood, from a single fertilized Ovum.

Sensing is the easy part. Perceiving what it is, involves some smart work by the brain.

Synesthesia is what we call it when we see folks looking at numbers, and see them in various colors; there are people who hear sounds when they smell things; there are people who get a certain taste when they read words; there are people who see colors when they look at , say calendars, and everyday of the week has a color.  They may even hear sounds, for each day of the week in the calendar.

This appears to be a fine example of senses intruding into each other, in the "management area"  in the brain. (Reminds me of certain Municipal Corporations, but never mind.)  Which, to someone , who needs to work with computers , sounds like a hardware fault.  This is found in,  say, 1 out of 25,000 people, and more women seem to be prone to this

This seems to be a case of some brain circuits connecting to other brain circuits , maybe even shorting,  possibly due to  genetic reasons , when they actually should be independent.  

Software wise , precisely because of this capability  to "perceive" and understand , the brain often develops something called neural plasticity, which means ,one or more of the senses chip in , in a constructive way, to help out with a sense which is not working any more for some reason. And so you often see visually disabled folks having an amazing sense of, say , touch,  through which they learn much more than us ordinary folks.

This situation, unlike Synesthesia, is like a program being tweaked to do something additional in the brain. This "plasticity", generally positively enhances   things for the specially abled person.  

Which brings me to my pet theory, that our society and anatomies mirror each other. Clearly, anatomies came first and societies later.  

And typically, the societies learned nothing.

Synesthetic societies. With messed up social and power circuitry.

We have people, who sense colors , like green and orange, when they see people, and immediately jump to conclusions and set alarms.

We also have people who feel depressed when they see black, and are over the moon when they spy white.

We have people, who hear imaginary words, when they taste certain foods.

There are also people,  who smell something when they hear the jingle of something in someone's pocket.

I have known people who can smell something around dark people, and this affects their sense of touch. 

I know folks who see red when they are confronted with certain sounds at certain times of the day.

And of course, we have people, who see money and think "black" .

Unfortunately too, there are those who are forced to tolerate a sense of touch, and they shout red everywhere, but are surrounded by those who whose sense of sight  is on mute.

Some folks can smell a rat when they hear some words.    Some folks can "see" a lie being spoken.

The question is  whether we do anything about it.

On the other hand, a society with a predisposition towards neural plasticity , will tend to multitask, or train people to multitask.

Using a sense of reassuring touch to those who see green and orange colors where there are none. Sharpening one's sense of hearing in addition to reading and sighting things that could endanger the peace in the community.  Using the sense of sight and smell, to bring some security to what we taste.  It is all about being flexible in the common good. You become a good watcher, even though you cannot hear well.  You develop a sense of analysing taste, even though your fingers do not sense anything ; and sometimes, you suspect something, cannot see anything, but keep your ears sharp to listen , and  save something disastrous from happening.

The trouble is, anatomically, the Synesthetic folks are about 1 in 25,000 people. There is even research happening that says such folks may be creative .

On the other hand, today, our society is full of  misguided Synesthetics,  being encouraged by power hungry folks and being used by them, for their own benefit.

If our brains acted like our societies do,  they would experience fits and seizures. Which is actually a danger indication from the brain.  Sometimes , the human body listens.  And treatments are provided to right the situation.

But our societies, are yet to listen.  Or watch. Or smell the danger. The seizures are all by those, "seized of the matter"  and so powerful.  So many act mindlessly, as if in a fit. And cause more damage. You just need to read the daily newspaper to understand.

When I first heard about Synesthesia, I thought it was a cousin of Anaesthesia.

It should have been.

Then there would have been a solution to quieten all those noise making social circuits in society, with a hefty dose of something.....     




Monday, June 29, 2015

Climb every mountain....


It was time for her to gape, open mouthed.

"You climbed in a frock and chappals ? "

"No only that, your Aji climbed wearing a 6 yard sari and chappals, and both your uncles wore normal half pants and sandals. "      Me.

This was about Kalsubai, the highest peak of the Sahyadris in Maharashtra, and the fact that my parents, my brothers and I climbed this , about 55 years ago,  during our summer vacations.  My father was then posted at Ahmednagar, and we spent our vacations there, as we continued to attend school in Pune during the school year.  On a trip to Bhandardara , then an emerging  , little known tourist destination, with just a government Rest House, someone mentioned Kalsubai to our parents, and everyone decided to attempt  a climb.

A local from the village of Bari, at the base, accompanied us.  There was just a standard hand held bag carrying some water and something, which my mother carried.  We climbed, scampering across , as children are wont to do, occasionally slipping ,  supervised by our parents and the local guy, who kept up a constant informative chatter about the village the deity, the activities, and such, interspersed with commenting on how the kids were taking to the climb so well.

No photographs exist. So I have nothing to show how we had to hold on to some kind of chains fixed into the vertical rocks, somewhere near the top.  And so we did it, all 5,500 feet of it, reached the peak, rested , inadvertently learned a bit of history, geography,  sociology, and then descended.

There was an element of not knowing what came next in this trip.  Our only Net was the local guide, who gave real time advice.

Why do I write this ? 

Today,  a Google search on Kalsubai give 1,53,000 results in 32 seconds.  You can read about it all, without stepping out of your chair.

The mountain stands , as before, majestic in the monsoons. Possibly experiencing the change that advancing age brings....

The daughter recently went on a trek to the same place.  Very organized. With complete instructions, do and don'ts,  safety  warnings, suggestions about clothes, footwear, and respecting the sensibilities of villagers.  It was about setting out from an urban Mumbai, heading out into the plains by the railways, then being driven to the village, where locals organized yummy breakfasts.  The Kalsubai mountain itself, now had  signs here and there, a bunch of railings and ladders installed  for the benefit of the local climbers population, and the visiting trekkers.  Somewhere near the 3rd or 4th ladder, a chap had set up tea stall specailizing in Kanda Bhajjyas, freshly fried and served in leaves. He was even seen nimbly climbing  along with the trekkers, lugging a sack of onions.

The climbers, all outfitted in appropriate climbing shoes, capris, jeans and track pants, tees , and waist pouches.  I know someone who even carried a power bank. The trekkers almost all carried rucksacks, with plastic water bottles, some food, rain jackets, cameras, and every now and then , folks would whip out their phones and take pictures.  Sounds normal today, but would have sounded positively confusing to someone who had never used a landline black rotary phone then.   


So many wonderful photos, descriptions on blogs , and making friends.

And it too me back to what happened when , 58 years ago, we descended down, exhilarated, and returned to Bhandardara, and thence to Ahmednagar and back to Pune and school.

Being the one  with a literary bent amidst the family children , my parents encouraged my efforts , be they in the prose or verse form.  This hobby also developed due to having friends with similar interests.

There was a children's Marathi magazine , called " Garjana" published from Kolhapur then, and I wrote an article about this  "trek"  (it was then called a trip)  accompanied by a poem. They actually published this in their "Varsharambh" issue in April 1960.  In those days, any event , including floods, elections, prizes awarded o family friends, popular leaders coming to Pune etc would elicit a poem by me, and these were written in longhand, in a book, regardless of whether anyone wanted to read them or publish them.

I had lost track of these "manuscripts"  for decades , as I got busy with my own life and children and their hobbies and clicks and writings.




A few months after my father passed away, I spent some time organizing and clearing papers in their house, and came across a file,  where I found, carefully filed, copies of stuff that I wrote, copies of stuff of mine that someone published, and all kinds of letters written to me subsequent to some kind of state level scholastic achievement, all sitting quietly together, frayed edges, dulled inks, and all.

I remembered these, and  went through them again with my daughter, before she went on the trek.  Leading to the conversation mentioned at the beginning of this post.    

History repeats.   Another generation climbs Kalsubai.  Does excellent photography there.  Posts it on Facebook, where those who were on the trek with her "like" it and comment on it.

I decide to further utilise the capability for which my parents encouraged me so much.  I co-operate with the daughter on a blog solely dedicated to her various treks. She does the photos, and I do the short text accompanying each.

Have a look at it at Field Clicks.

I can never aspire to do what my folks did. Painstakingly cut and file away my literary outbursts at various ages and the documentation of my various activities that in inadvertently appeared here and there . And carefully maintain it through decades.

I must move with the times.  And learn to document it all on the blog the daughter maintains , for her treks.
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In the meanwhile, the erstwhile 10 year old girl who climbed Kalsubai in a frock and chappals,  has been told by someone leaving for work, to expect an online merchant courier who will deliver a cell phone lockable  waterproof cover sometime today........

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Misguided Mirrors ....


I have this huge amount of respect for whoever designed the human brain.

There is an entire set of people  trying to get computers to do what the brain does, and while I appreciate their hard work, conviction and single minded devotion,  I think at some point the brain simply wins hands down.

I mean  when was the last time a computer CPU exhibited neural plasticity ( say, one USB port , learning and chipping in on its own for another non functioning port) ?  And when was the last time,  the CPU, decided to ignore certain parts of itself, and simply shut down the sections of the computer controlled by those parts, because power was being compromised in some way within ? And when was the last time your engineer repaired the circuitry in real time with the computer actually on ?

So it was with much delight that I leaned about something called mirror neurons.


Whenever the brain is involved in an bodily activity, the neurons in that  part of the brain that is controlling that activity are said to "fire", and this is experimentally observable. 

Sometime in the 1990's some scientists in Italy did an experiment with monkeys.

They fed the monkeys (A)  some peanuts  and noticed a certain section of brain neurons firing.  They had a bunch of monkeys (B) observing these monkeys(A), and found that  some neurons in the monkeys (B) fired every time the monkeys(A) were given peanuts.  This was not a one off coincidence and several experiments were done that resulted in the postulation of "mirror neurons", or neurons that didn't participate directly in the action, but still got all excited about it on their own.

These are what you might call "learning" neurons.  Suppose someone pokes your thumb with a needle. You express hurt , and react , by trying to withdraw your hand, as decreed by your normal brain neurons. 

When I watch the process of poking, there are mirror neurons in my brain, that will react. Because they learn about the poke and its effects , and fire. These are not the neurons that listen to the brain say "Ouch, pull back that hand !".  But neurons that are capable of understanding that act and help us learn about it and the in process , empathize with the person being poked. .

In simple terms, when you say one learns by observing, one is talking about these mirror neurons. When you watch something happening to someone,  your own set of mirror neurons imagine the event and you react in empathy as if it happened to you.

Dr V. S Ramachandran, a neuroscientist at UC San Diego, and author of many books about the brain , says that mirror neurons   enable us to see someone else as an intentional being, with purpose and intention.  And so when some one's mirror neuron system is dysfunctional, we have a autism situation.

I have a question that has to do with what we observe, how much we observe, and is it possible that mirror neurons can be misled ?

Over the last half a century and more , visual mediums have proliferated in our lives. For some of us, television happened in our mid twenties, with color coming in even later. Today's generation, born in the nineties, are hounded , by visual data in the form of millions of television channels, video games, cell phone screens and so on.  Right from birth itself.  Small babies and kids react to Ipads.  And in television, there is  hardly any control on the content being shown, particularly in India.

Is it possible that mindless violence , immoral behaviour , and  unnatural acts and events, constantly badgering our mirror neurons, could have fatigued them?  To the extent that they blindly wrongly "empathize", and later no longer react to what their own brain , capable of reason, is actually telling them ?  To the extent that people mindlessly behave and act without regard to the consequences ?   

Is it possible that,  beyond a certain frequency of onslaught of visual graphics,  the mirror neurons , sort of start functioning "on automatic", bypassing the individual's capacity to  evaluate and reason before acting?

Watch something and emulate , regardless of final outcome, or harm to someone.  And our so many billion dollar entertainment industry obliges ...


Newspapers are full of stories where someone killed his father because he refused money for a new cell phone; someone slashed his wife' neck because she said she wanted a divorce;  someone else flung acid on a girl's face  because she spurned his offer of marriage; someone killed his mother because she wouldn't sign over some papers of ownership of something;  someone committed suicide by hanging because of less marks in board exams; and endless events of this type. So many of these events are India-centric.  In a country in a desperate hurry to catch up with the rest of the "developed" world,  it is possible, that important steps are skipped.  Blind aping of situations and events in films where humiliation of women is rampant, presumed superiority of men based on their mindless revengeful acts , are some of the results of this headlong rush into "Progress Alley" ..

Is it possible that we have passed the zenith of the development of our cerebral cortex, and are now on the other side,  on a slow slide to an animal way of life ?   Have we abused our mirror neurons till they  have become mindlessly irreversibly  narcissistic?  Have we abused different ways of learning ?

As human beings who should be aware and respectful of the ways of Nature,  have we now become marauding types out to destroy anything and everything that spells "B-A-L-A-N-C-E" ?   Instead of being students and learning, the mirror neurons have now become masters.

And you see this abuse in Nature, as well as in the way our society is developing.

Even computers which mimic or at least are programmed ("trained")  to mimic what the brain does, are now used for fraudulent  dealings, defaming people, propagating harmful stuff, and cheating. 

Possibly , computers can be rectified, repaired and started afresh.

I wonder  if this can be done with the mirror neurons that have gone astray...
 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

MRI Reloaded....


Almost seven years ago, I was asked to do an MRI of the shoulder and neck region.

Never mind what happened to my shoulder later, but the exercise resulted in a blog post  "MRI Rock", detailing my first fun experience  with the MRI procedure. The highlight of that entire procedure was the immense variety of noises that emanated around me as I lay, deadly still , in one of those  slide in-slide out , cylinder type things  , which presumably had magnets inside , trying to twist and turn and position themselves.

I was back for another MRI.  Thanks to a long standing strange complaint of severely  burning toes , which was killing my sleep.  I was curious to know this time , what had changed in the last 7 years. With me, as well as the MRI machine....

The target of the MRI, which was this time, the Lower back, or as they say, LS Spine.  (Just reminded me of a TV program from ages ago, where Archana Puransingh used to do a comedy program  and classify  people/places as HS(High Society/posh) and LS (Low Society/Unposh). I was ecstatic to know that my spine was LS....  But I digress.)

The whole idea of an MRI, is to position magnetic fields in clever ways so as to polarize the hydrogen atoms in your body region under survey, and then point radio waves at them, and catch the reflection of these waves on film, to give doctors an idea of the mess inside your bodies.

Like before , all metallic items were removed , and handed to a relative for safekeeping, and  a hospital gown took its place.

Like before , I lay down on one of those sliding planks. The only difference was that now they also moved vertically, so that I could climb on , in a sort of casual way , as opposed to , on a stool, that shook under the weight.

And like before, I was cold, the AC was killing me, and I was told not to move once the procedure began. And as before , I asked the technician for the emergency bell , which I must hold in my hand, in case anything became intolerable and needed me to move.

Some things have clearly changed.  The earlier MRI, had, in addition to a slide-in cylindrical section,  a kind of large diameter spherical section which felt like a planetarium when one slid in.   This machine was a cylindrical contraption, much narrower , and  possibly the effect of the current craze for size zero .  Fairly puzzling because  so many normal-size non-page 3 folks came  to get MRI's done .  The whole effect was like one was sleeping at stiff attention, and itching for someone to shout and say , "Vishram!".

And then there were the sounds.
 
Clearly, the hydrogen atoms inside me had mellowed down. The sort of music that was offered to get the magnetic fields working now was different.  

The main sound continuously playing in the background was some kind of sound of a dog barking rhythmically, somewhere far down the road, in a sort on non stop way. There were some very loud rhythmic  beat sounds, which I thought, would be better suited for some loud nightclub or discotheque, and I could imagine people desperately flinging themselves around in weird clothes trying to dance to that music. Wonder if any DJs have had MRI's done ?

All of a sudden,  it changed to a  lower pitch yet still very loud sound , a kind of thick buzzing. Then a kind of sound of a mixer running in your kitchen.  This was followed by what I call hammering house repair sounds.  The sort you hear when there is a building coming up next to your house. 

At some point, in a throwback to my past experience, the dreaded sounds of a drill digging up a concrete road made their debut.

The new sounds this time , were different. One was much like an electronic saw making precision cuts, loudly and clearly; not a terribly reassuring sound to hear when you are sleeping under a cylinder sliding in and out under someone else's control. 

The other new sound was what I call the horns.

I am not sure whether these "horn sounds"  kind of announced that a new area in the body was being looked at.  But they sounded exactly like the Mumbai suburban local train sounds, when the train stops at a red signal, and the driver tries to signal to whoever, that he needs a response, so the train can move. 

These sounds happened in different pitches, but what made me really amused was a sound like the very old style air horn (balloon type) which you still hear on BEST buses in Mumbai, when the driver is fed up of unmoving traffic and wants to push.

 It occurred to me that  these were typical sounds one would hear in a place like Mumbai, where new construction was rampant, there were no restrictions and rules on noise, and you would be cursed with cement drilling, concrete mixing, glass cutting, chain saw noises , interspersed with local trains honking for a signal in the distance. Even the barking dogs sound.

Science and Anatomy reflecting the society around us.


It isn't easy remaining still and unmoving inside the cylindrical MRI contraption. And they would constantly have these little back and forth shifts of the plank. You would think everything was done, and they would slide you in again, possibly to take another tantalizing view of your scintillating back.

This MRI procedure  was more claustrophobic than before.

 Seven years ago, I had kept my  cool and wits about me, by thinking of various songs that one could sing to the beat of these sounds, as the magnets did their stuff.  Occasionally , I would then remember some childhood prayers we recited when we were afraid . And recite them to the beat of the magnets.

Seven years on, it was not the same.

There was a bit of loss of bravado.  Almost similar music, and some similar sounds, with some innovative ones added in,  but all that I could recite to that beat, were prayers where one took God's name. Seven years down the line, I had moved on, and popular songs simply did not come to mind.  Possibly it was age,  or even inattention to what was being constantly played on loudspeakers all time . I would often realize that I was holding my breath, and then try and release it slowly so as to not unknowingly  make any movement in the area under investigation,  by exhaling hugely.

I am not an overly religious person, and not someone who can rattle off chapters and verses of holy books.  Shri Ram, Ganpati, and Shri Krishna are the Gods that always come to my mind.  Seven years ago, I could recite the Maha Mrutyunjay Mantra in my mind, in perfect tune to the MRI sounds, and even counted the iterations.

Now I tried to recite names in my mind, quietly, as the rattling, and booming and digging noises continued.   Somehow, the prayers to Ganpati , Krishna, and the Maha Mrutyunjaya Mantra,  did not fit into the rhythm of the MRI sounds.

But  Shri Rama did.  And so the hydrogen atoms  in this earthly body, straightened out to the tune of Shri Ram, Jai Ram,  Jai Jai Ram,  and sent their pictures back to the computer/photofilm etc , for what sounded like a musical thirty minutes, interspersed with local train horns, introducing each piece of music.

I know I always say our bodies reflect what is happening in society and vice-versa.

But no  this has nothing to do with the political party in power in my  state.   It has nothing to do with secular or communal.  

A different MRI beat could have fitted in with invocations to Ganpati and/or Krishna as well. Seven years ago, the MRI beats fitted perfectly to A R Rehman's Jai Ho!

What was important here was to figure out the handling of the burning issue of the day.

My toes.

 






  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Autobiography of an unknown pothole....



I am trying to find out my purpose in life.

Circumstances of my birth are never happy events that I remember.  I mean, I have never hankered to see the real world. 

I have been happy, cocooned in maternal concrete , cementing my ties with those around, just ordinary middle class entities in a subterranean world. Wires and cables, meandering around, minding their own business, and well meaning telephone cables carrying on their preassigned work. It does get crowded at times with the big ones that sit deeper and direct water and other unmentionables around, but then that's life.   But we folks, try and keep away from these folks who are important.

It has become difficult in a place like Mumbai, to remain subterranean. I mean think of the huge heavy loaded fourwheelers at signal junctions, pressing down on us till the get the green sign.  Big buses, trucks, and so many cars trying to be big. It becomes intolerable, and someone like me has to finally emerge into the fresh air.

That's when all the trouble begins. I cannot tell you how much it hurts to have  radial tyres  run roughshod over you.  Just when you think it is over, there appears out of the blue (it is now visible to me , you know) , a huge long transporter thing, with sixteen wheels bearing down on me. Sometimes it is a red bus, with its weight increased several times over thanks to people hanging all over it, through doors.

Of course, my injuries run deeper in the course of time, fractures, festering hurts and cracks, and occasionally someone will organize a pothole doctor to come and check me out.

Thanks to all the lax controls in our country over medicines ,  someone gets down to examining and operating on me, and fills  me up.  The world knows about it via the various red ribbons, banged up cylindrical containers and sticks organized around the operation area, and the pervading smell of tar. Most of the time, someone crushes gravel and stone and tries to fix my injuries.

When no one is watching, they certify me fine.  (I wonder from where they learn to do that).

Once again, but this time with scar tissue, I occupy my place in the scheme of things.

The trouble starts when it rains.  In my earlier original subterranean life, my environment would suddenly cool down underground, and I would hear gushing flowing noises of the storm water drains. Today, I am  permanently sick and handicapped . Sick, because, water runs across all the scar tissue, dissolving things, and creating holes again. Some of it even sits for days, and I have to bear radial tyres thumping through the holes, bikers speeding through it , and when all is quiet (which it never is in Mumbai)  there are these mosquitoes, who come for a diesel laced nightcap and have a buzzing time.

The same doctors, the same obsolete banned medication, and the same traffic running unconcerned over me, even before I have healed. The scar tissue gets worse and worse, lumpy adhesions are formed , infections set in, and I think back to the old days, when  the road was somewhere else, the traffic was lesser and more orderly, there were often trees by the side , and my problems were treated in a simple yet better manner.

Today treating me has become a business.  The doctors even declare me as fit when I am not. Someone even tried to put my photo on Facebook, but I ended up getting spam from some doctors who had something against me.  I am even considered glamorous. Someone even made some plastic fake pothole prints , and spread the sheet  over some perfectly good roads  to teach the vehicle owners a lesson in driving carefully.

I have now become older and philosophical.  I know my health is going to get worse and worse. The impending monsoon does not inspire any sense of security.   This city keeps on adding thousands of vehicles every day, without checking if folks like me are healthy enough . Parts of me are atrophying.  Sometimes I meet other atrophying potholes, and they have the same story to tell.  Sometimes I almost die.

Sometimes I feel, we potholes are female.  So much physical abuse, so much of pointing fingers,  so much unconcern for our health, and simply no action on fake stuff used to treat us, unlike expensive stuff used for a slight scratch of the face of an expensive road.  It is not simply by chance that we affected potholes gravitate towards each other, sharing the water and the stories . Once every year proclamations are made about how someone is going to be taking care of us, and addressing our woes before the rains. Just like they are in the habit of proclaiming so many new National Days these days.  

But No.  

 Which brings me to reincarnation. I never used to believe in it.

 I had heard about the life system of dying and constantly being reborn as something else, and getting stuck in the cycle of life and death. And luck was with those who got a release from this life-death-reincarnate cycle , and  obtained freedom for the Soul .  Moksh. 

I keep getting sick, dying, and then I keep getting reincarnated as another pothole.  Perhaps the place changes. But I never reincarnate as something else.

Please.  I don't ask to be reincarnated as a powerful leader, or a lion or tiger, or even a popular actor or actress. I don't want to be reincarnated even as a mango tree in summer, or as saffron in Kashmir. Or as a beautiful rose bush in the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

All I ask is an escape from being reincarnated again and again as a pothole , a deliverance from the devil contractors and hand-in-glove municipal types.

Reincarnate me as a bird, that flies high on the skywalk at the junction, and watches the erstwhile pothole from there.

I will have then attained my Moksh.........     



  
   

Saturday, June 06, 2015

An Approximate Life


Be approximately right rather than exactly wrong.

John W Tukey, a chemist, turned topologist turned statistician, absolutely hit the nail on the head when he said that. Which is kind of funny , because he was exactly right.

We, of the world's approximately oldest civilization, initiators of the exact concept of zero,  and  some time learners of a context sensitive ancient Panini Sanskrit Grammar so perfectly algebraic  for relating to computer programming structures, have unknowingly accepted approximations as a huge part of our lives.

Go on  road trip anywhere, and stop to ask directions. Many times, road signs are a one time effort performed by fatigued municipal office, and updating is ignored.   Regardless of the actual distance, with a fine disregard for the metric system  which actually took over in 1957, someone will always say ,"Oh, just 5 furlongs further down ."  After 5 furlongs, when nothing appears, and you check with someone , you get a similar answer, possibly qualified by sighting things like schools, cisterns and taking a left or right .

You get a notification from the income tax authorities mentioning your latest return, and it mentions an approximate general reason(s) you should see them immediately. There is nothing exactly mentioned regarding specifically you.  You take leave from work, and travel 40 kilometres to their office, out of respect for national laws which are exact. On reaching there, you move through a maze of folks who point you somewhere else approximately. The final person tells you , your return is fine, and the letters were sent to approximately 1 lakh  people including you, who fell into some category, as an exercise in random checking.

You go to your bank, to wire some money abroad as registration fee for a conference.  You would think the rules exist in black and white. But no.  I mean the rules exist, you specify the extra charges should be recovered from your normal savings account,  but the understanding is approximate, and so every head office en route on the wire gets its pound of flesh before the fee reaches the destination ,  reduced in value . You protest,  someone checks and apologizes, and something is returned to you.  This from a major bank that should know its procedures eyes closed. But there is a comfort level in being approximate, and a bit of a nose-turn-up in being called a service organization.      

The agency that really excels at approximation is the Weather Bureau or Meteorological Office as we call it.   The first approximation is about when the Monsoon will hit Kerala. Sometimes it does not keep appointments, and various reasons are given about winds, and depressions and so on. Which develop over a period of observable time, and nothing is instantly changing. Indications exist,  but we we are still approximate.  The 26th July cloudburst over Mumbai was never predicted. Rain clouds in mid February , are unusual, do not appear in an instant, movements can be followed, but someone thinks the clouds may approximately move on, and hey, who wants to make a wrong prediction ? (For that matter, a right prediction ? :-)  )

Law and Order issues being approximate is puzzling.  The approximation being done is by the authorities.  You get pulled up because you followed the traffic flow and turned left, when the signal was red.  You get pulled up when you obstinately wait for a signal to change color, and block all kinds of errant honking traffic behind you. The cop is approximately trying to figure out  what he should charge you under, as hundreds of bikers without helmets zip through disobeying an exact rule. You ask him about this, and he approximately deems you dangerous and lets you go.

Medicine is an exact science.  However , our Food and Drug authorities allow medicines , like Nimesulide , which are banned in other countries.  I mean, either something is beneficial to the body,  or it is harmful.  Dosages are specified . But we are beset with an approximate attitude.   We seem to follow a "maybe" system . Lead in Maggie noodles (where these noodles are not a life requirement, per se) is avidly investigated, retests ordered, but millions of fly-by-night ayurevdic manufacturers ignore proper procedures of preparing medications as specified, and market medications with unchecked harmful levels of lead.   The "Maybe" is intricately linked with a mindset that says, science may be exact, so what; but we deal in things approximately.

So many things that work like clockwork in other countries simply become "approximate" in India .  Cell phone service providers who must follow stringent service-to-consumers rules elsewhere , simply go approximately haywire in India. Like Vodafone.  ( I have personal experience).  Airlines which must provide certain facilities (else face penalties/actions) in other countries, quietly ignore things in India, and point to local airlines when you question them about things like wheelchairs. (Again I have personal  experience). Even food. They try and approximately do what they are supposed to , and it doesn't matter if  the consumer suffers.

Sometimes I think our flora today also live approximate lives, not knowing what the soils contain, thanks to indiscriminate landfills , putrefying stuff and increase in methane concentrations, and lack of water. Global warming is a nice approximate reason to publicize.

Many years ago, Germans were famous for perfection.  They still may be.  I haven't been there since 1991 when I lived there , with the kids , for a year.  There used to be  Herr Schmidt in our apartment  complex, who  always did the garden up keep, and became great friends with my daughter , who  then  5, liked to tag along with him, clearing weeds, raking soil, and watering , once the winter cold season got over. I would chat with him whenever I went to pick up my daughter, or thought she was being more of a nuisance than a help, and he once mentioned, that spring officially began on April 1, and so now was the time in late March, to do all this work in the garden.

My approximation laden mind was in a shocked tizzy over his statement about Spring beginning on April 1.  I mean, there were things you could be exact about, and there were things beyond your control.  Spring was not an aunt who called and said she was arriving by a certain train , and so on. 

You will not believe this, but right on the dot on April 1, I noticed buds  on the plants, some blooming, some just born,  on the garden border.  After a severe snowy winter , you could not miss this event when it happened.

Sometimes, I guess nature too learns  , where it must be exact , and where it cannot  be approximate....        

     

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Brilliant coding .... and it is not about IT..


One exists the way one does,  because one's parents donated 23 chromosomes each , making one the proud holder of 46 chromosomes in the nucleus of every cell in one's body.

A chromosome consists of hundreds and thousands of genes, and , many personal traits  are determined  by sets of these genes.   The entire structure, and functioning of your body and possibly your mind is decided by the types and amounts of proteins your body synthesizes, and  genes are the managers  of the lives-and-times  of these proteins,  which actually contain coded instructions on how you will develop throughout your life.

You may have traits you inherit.  I  mean you may look like a spitting image of your father, but inherit the disposition of your mother.  You may even be predisposed towards a medical career, despite neither of your parents being so, simply due to a dominant gene from your grandmother, skipping a generation, and flowering within you. All those traits that have assorted aunts and folks say things like "You speak just like your Mom" or " This love for elocution is a gift of your Dad" are supposed to have come from dominant genes. Every time  someone shakes their head at your marks in Maths  and goes tsk tsk about how good your Dad was in maths, they are talking about your recessive gene.

The aforementioned coded instructions as protein strings in your genes,  are actually a kind of time table of your life.  How you will develop at what age, when will your height shoot up noticeably,  when will you start getting periods,  when will your musical abilities come to the fore, would you have a literary bent of mind , when will that develop, will you be one of those folks with a raging temper, and so on  . So many things. So many amino acid protein chains, folding and unfolding, so many enzymes and hormones quietly streaming around getting things done.

I have always wondered how time was coded into these instructions .

I mean, we humans live by the circadian time,  we have glands like pineal glands, little bitty smart things in our brains that sense that part of the 24 hours we are in, and trigger things like sleep,  idling down of various body systems, resting parts of the brain, waking up, feeling hungry etc etc .

Do these protein strings of the genes in our 46 chromosomes, sense time the same way we do at the macro level?  Clearly,  deep within our body, and in the cells, time would be sensed by a trigger of some enzyme or similar thing.  And the question can be asked, whether the well being of the body at that point, sickness/weakness etc, has any effect on the sensing of time by the cells at the micro level .

When we say that  some folks carry a certain cancer gene  what causes it to bide its "time" , before expressing itself in its gory glory ?  Does the environment around the cells, and general physiological condition of the body,  contract or dilate the time as far as the cell clock goes ?

But the real wonder is how these coded instructions influence thinking.

In my more than half a century of leading a fairly ordinary life, there have been several occasions when someone has remarked how I resemble my mother,  in the way I  express myself, and think.  So many people saying "you are your mother's daughter";  and post-some crisis situation, someone coming and saying, "Hmm. Independence... Shades of your mother .."   .  My father loved to write, and he ensured all those protein strings were there in his  23 chromosomes that he gifted me. Right from childhood , my parents encouraged this writing, which sometimes included poems.  All this right brain activity tangling every now and then with the algebraic unknowns of the left brain activity which was compulsory at times.

There was a huge gap in life,  like 30 years when this right brain activity took a back seat. Then all of a sudden , sometime in 2006 ,  I was inspired to write , both prose and poetry. 

While I agree with a lot of people's observations about me resembling my mother , it has become apparent to me , as I proceed well ahead on the wrong side of 60,  that I now tend to become a bit more like my father was in his old age.  In certain types of thinking, literary pursuits (which had remained hitherto dormant since the age of 25),  social interactions, a tendency to look inwards, and sometimes,  unexplained impulsive altruistic tendencies.  The basic maternal mould remains, but with these little  eruptions caused by certain hitherto dormant protein strings suddenly doing their stuff.

And I wonder , how thinking processes, and changes therein, can be coded into a protein string in your genes at birth , and how a tired  writing/poetry  gene,  one fine day ,  suddenly remembers how it expressed itself half a century ago, and is now all agitated to express itself once again.

I wonder how the cell senses what time of life it is . And what resources the body has at this point, struck as it is by shades of a metabolic syndrome. Surely, the quality of enzymes and hormones that tell the "cell-time"  have altered noticeably over the years, and the environment in the body is far from exemplary.

And  I often wonder about the Designer of this set up, who installs in us , all these coded strings at birth, that work with so much precision, co-operation with the vagaries caused by environmental effects on our bodies,  and manages to even have something to do with how we think at various points in our life.

No advertisements, no Apps, no festival deals, no false promises, no tom-tom-ing of foolishly named OS's  , no built in obsolescence.

Just some quiet updates, without announcements 

And you have ,  a quiet, robustly built, self correcting , real time  system of dedicated protein strings, remembering where they came from, and where they need to go, and when .....

The Designer Maker,  who some don't believe in, but continue to follow nevertheless ,  must be quietly smiling to himself.