Almost Dead

There’s a saying that goes thus, ” We live only twice; once when we’re born and the other when we die”. Well i know I’ve certainly felt alive when I’ve almost walked into the white light. There are 2 incidents that come to mind very vividly. Twice when I’ve come so close to knocking on Heaven’s Door I could smell the barbecue inside.

The first time was when me and a bunch of friends had gone to take a dip in a Well. Problem was, I couldn’t swim. Unfortunately I was under the influence of certain of nature’s natural ‘stimulants’ and was in an ebullient mood. So what if I can’t swim? That’s not stoppin’ me from tryin’ nosiree. There’s always a first time to do things, so why not now? My logic seemed infallible. So I jumped. Right smack dab in the middle of the Well. Well it certainly felt different than the pool at Water Kingdom though I couldn’t put my finger on which part. I didn’t have the time to think that far. I was more taken up at the moment with figuring out what I was supposed to do next with my hands and feet. I didn’t make any earth-shattering discoveries. But maybe a minute after I jumped in the guys on the outside realized that something was wrong. They came to that conclusion after watching me struggle for life and air for a whole minute. Guess they were ‘stimulated’ too like I was. Anyway one of them jumped in and pulled my lame ass out of that well. We had a joint after I dried myself up. I sure needed it.

The other time was when I decided to borrow a friends motorbike for a couple of days. I’m used to the drum brakes on the front wheel of my bike whereas his had disk brakes. Which means better braking but unless you’re used to it they can be hazardous to health as I was soon about to find out. It was about evening time and I was cutting through traffic when the Rickshaw ( the bane of Indian roads) right in front of me braked hard. I swerved off to the left but there wasn’t enough of a gap so to avoid banging into him I braked. Hard. Now the thing with disk brakes is that the wheel comes to a dead stop. Which it did when I jammed the brake. Not good when you’re doing about 40 kph. The front wheel skidded out from under me and I was thrown off. I was on the ground and traveling without the bike which had ended up under a truck not 2 feet from me to my left. If I had to fall to the left of that bike it would have been me under the truck and the bike watching me.

Still gives me goosebumps thinking of those times. I guess I have the Devil’s own luck as the saying goes. Comes in handy it does.

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Chocolate – The Food OF Gods

I woke up one morning and as is customary for me, read the day’s newspaper. In it was an article that piqued my curiosity. The article was about a study that had discovered that women actually prefer chocolates over sex. Wait till the girls hear about this, we’ll all be havin’ a good laugh and slappin’ our thighs. To my chagrin though, I was the one being laughed AT. Women actually do seem to prefer chocolate over sex, albeit to varying degrees among different women. But the general consensus is that the study has some merit. Another part of the study surveyed women from different countries of the world and their tendency to avoid sharing chocolate. Guess what? Women from Brazil are least likely to share followed by Indian women. That accounts for all the missing chocolate in the house. I can’t blame the women though. I profess to like chocolate almost as much. After all the scientific name for chocolate is Theobroma, which means Food of the God’s.

Chocolate has a number of different chemicals that stimulate various regions of the brain. One of the regions that a certain chemical stimulates is also the same region which becomes more active during sexual arousal. Women also tend to crave chocolate just before the beginning of their menstrual cycle. This is due to the fact that serotonin (a chemical receptor and neurotransmitter) levels go down and chocolate seems to stimulate the production of it. Thus the effects of menstruation are more muted than without chocolate. Or maybe it just makes it a lot more sufferable. Also the melting point of chocolate is just slightly above the human body temperature which is why chocolate melts instantly in the mouth. The sensation is quite a pleasure in itself I might add but then nobodies really a stranger to that feeling. And anything that’s food for the God’s is good enough for me. I was wondering aloud to Anika, a close friend as to why civilization didn’t die out when women discovered chocolate. She tells me it was the Aztecs who discovered it and where are they now?

Understanding Consciousness

As humans we pride ourselves on being conscious and aware, whereas the rest of the animals are not blessed with such an ability.The God’s themselves may have blessed us; created us in their own image for we are special. That is the central theme behind some of the world’s biggest religions. In the face of all evidence to the contrary religions go about preaching unscientific views on the history of the world and about the creation of this universe and its inhabitants.

Human consciousness has only begun to evolve fairly recently, as recent as 3000 years ago. There is much we do today that shows to a great degree that we are automations, performing even complex tasks without conscious deliberation. We can drive a car with one hand while talking on the cellphone. We function almost on an unconscious basis, from hour to hour, day to day. Our actions are more programmed than thought out. We react rather than act. Observe your own actions for a day and you will see instances of what I’m talking about.

This state of mind was first spoken about in the 1976 book ‘The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind’, written by Julian Jayne. The Bicameral Mind hypothesis supposes that the human brain once assumed a state known as Bicameral Mind in which cognitive functions are divided between one part of the brain which appears to be “speaking,” and a second part which listens and obeys. “At one time, human nature was split in two, an executive part called a god, and a follower part called a man. Neither part was Consciously aware”, says Julian. Hence the illusions about gods speaking to men and guiding their destinies. Of course such a hypothesis doesn’t come without it’s share of controversies and opposition. Also along these lines we have the hypothesis of Mythopoeic thought which more or less is similar to the Bicameral Mind Hypothesis. This hypothesis talks about ancient man’s need to create myths to understand the reasons behind natural occurrences. This again comes back to our need to have and ultimate explanation for everything; a greater force that is responsible for all of nature’s hidden ways.

In this day and age the concepts of myths and gods still prevail for the simple fact that man does not think wholly rationally. He needs an explanation for the phenomena that he doesn’t understand. The truth is, we fear that which we do not understand. And we need to ascribe reasons for things being the way they are even if they have no scientific or measurable basis in reality. That is why religions prevail, wars are fought and people die. Out of a fear of the unknown.

Investing In Tomorrow

I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts my fondness for numbers since I was very young. That fondness extended to my adult life and particularly with regards to money. Now why money, one asks? Why not measure the square feet in one’s apartment or count the number of steps in a stairwell? Actually the answer to that is that having already done those particular things and long since having exhausted all possible avenues of things countable I stumbled upon the last option available. Money.

Money is a concept, subjective in nature. The psychology of nations drives the value of money. The most fascinating thing however is how money grows or gets devalued depending on what an individual chooses to do with it. What I mean is, for example a person keeps accumulating his savings in a bank for 10 years at an interest rate of 3% a year. Now you may say that the person will end up at the end of 10 years with a surplus amount of money if he diligently saves and takes not a penny out. Not so if inflation has a say in these matters, which it usually does. Inflation is what causes your money to buy lesser and lesser of something as time progresses. So at a 6% average rate of inflation over the same 10 years period compounded will mean a serious loss of savings by this person. 6% is not an unreasonable number as the rate of inflation these days is hovering in the double digits. A scary prospect for employed people on fixed salaries. Having learned all this at an early age I sought avenues which would beat inflation once I started earning my own money. And the best place for long term investments and a hedge against inflation according to the experts is the Stock Market.

Now you may have heard from your family members or an uncle who had put money in the markets and had lost a bundle that it’s a risky place and no good has come of investing there. Your friends would no doubt have seconded this opinion and in the face of such strong ‘facts’ you will of course conclude that since these are the people who you trust the most they would most definitely be giving you accurate information and not hand me down opinions. But the truth is one needs to ask oneself as to the factualness of information received. Even the information given by others keeping your best interests in mind may just not be what you needs warrant.

So it is my firm belief that a primer on understanding the financial markets should be a part of the school or college curriculum to get rid of the ignorance on this subject that is prevalent even in educated members of a society. This way people will be able to make good decisions for themselves when it comes to picking a company to invest in as opposed to taking ‘tips’ from the family broker who would have his own interests in mind and be least concerned as to the state of your finances.

I suggest people to have some information on the workings of the financial markets and especially the stock market if they want to build a future for themselves where they need not be concerned with the devaluation of their savings. The greatest fear for me is probably being old and poor, not knowing what happened to my money which i had so carefully ‘saved’ all those years I worked. No, that’s a scary future for me to envisage and I’d rather spend a little time learning today and taking risks today, knowing that if I fail I’m still young enough to get back on my feet and start all over again. Imagine being 60 and having to go to work instead of spending those years reaping the fruits of your hard work. No siree. My learning has already started and as a friend I implore all who read this to get started on the path to your own learning.

The Journey Of Life

My last 2 weeks were really bad. And that’s an understatement. I got a job, left that job, had the worst cold in years, suffered acute depression, suffered a bout of angst related aggression and felt that everything and everyone was useless and life itself was pointless. And no, that is not a typical morning for me. I am only just starting to recover from this onslaught of untimely maladies. I had lost the will to go on and it took a lot to snap out of that phase I was in. I still feel that my life lacks proper direction and there is nothing more to aspire for. I had a few ambitions growing up and they were more fantasy than anything but it’s interesting the way a child’s mind works. They do not understand that something can be impossible and that there are some things that you just cannot do. When they ask their elders why the answer is almost always, ‘because you just can’t’. Truth is, the adults themselves do not know why something can’t be done, they were told by their elders that it couldn’t and were brought up with those limiting beliefs that they go on to teach their kids.

As a child I used to read a lot of fiction novels preferably those written by James Hadley Chase. Most times the central character in the books would be a detective or someone from a government law enforcement agency. At that age these books inspired me to want to become a detective. Then I grew up. But by and by I lacked any real ambition until I decided to become a full time stock market trader. That was vetoed by my grandmother who said complete your graduation and get a job with a bank that will give you pension once you retire. Humph. All I have managed until now is about a year of working with contact centers. No more, No more.

Life is a journey and it is not the destination that matters but the experience of that journey. I plan on completing my grad by this October end and then moving off to greener pastures. After all I hear an uncle in Dubai calling.