Books, not Dolls

While standing at the billing counter, I happened to over hear a conversation that happened between a Mami ( as the iyer women are affectionately called) and her young daughter. The girl wanted a doll. Young girls play with dolls, but the Mami had other plans for her daughter. She quickly asked the girl to look for her dad who was busy deciding whether an original James Bond dvd was worth it or not  secretly I think, most thyar chadam (curd rice) eating,1 to 30 tables crunching iyer men want to be like James Bond. But that’s not a respectable job in the “Family”. How can an iyer boy do a job that he cant tell anyone about. After all getting that job is the iyer boys greatest achievement.

Coming back to the Mami, as I saw the young girl run to her dad, our Mami brought out these two extremely interesting books, books that are a must for a young girl of 5, books that must be locked in a shelf forever. Even if the world ends and a new breed originates, these books must never be found. The title of these books read, “Math  Puzzles”.


What is a Lie ?

As a kid, my mom asked me one particular question a lot of times. The question was simple. Had I ever lied to her or to anyone. To which I coolly replied saying I had never. Had I really lied or was I narrating a story that happened in my head is what I decided to figure out.

I asked a few people around me if they had ever lied to anyone and It was not surprising to find that they all had at some point lied. Most of these incidents revolved around a particular situation which if not narrated in a story form would sound hopeless.

What is it about lies that we have this certain emotion attached making it almost a taboo ? What makes any one lie ? Before that, what is a lie ?

A lie could be any entity, that fools one. It could be a rock that pretends to have certain supernatural powers, the emotions that is generated when we see an actor die on screen, anything.

The problem is not that we hate lies, we hate being fooled by another person. Somewhere deep down we know very well that such a situation cannot occur but the confidence with which another person narrates it puts one in jeopardy thereby creating a situation which exists somewhere in-between a belief and a disbelief. A lie is not the absence of truth. It (could) exist(s) cause the truth is yet to be discovered.

Personally I believe we love lies. Fiction would not have been possible if one did not lie. And why is it that when a kid says it it’s a lie and when an author writes it magically manifests itself as a work of fiction. A friend of mine once told me that when a kid lies, it’s a sign that the mind is developing. And it seems quiet logical.

Another strange thing that happens all around us is that parents start lying to their kids very early in life. But yes, there is a mask called a “fairy tale” that is used as a cover up. Fairies, do they exist ? No they don’t but as kids we do believe they exist. Also mermaids and. Is a kid believing in the existence of a fairy the product of the parent lying to the kid ? Im not quiet sure about it.

We train the kid to start believing in what he imagines and when he narrates to us something that is a product of this imagination, we hate it.  We accuse the kid to have lied thus breaking his belief in his own imagination. What stops a parent to tell his or her kid real life stories ? Why not tell them about what’s really happening in this world they have (with no choice) decided to call “home”. Why is it that we prefer to tell them of a world that is purely fictional and thus a lie ?

Another classic case is that of cheating in exams. Coping from another persons paper. Not that I say it’s a good thing to do, but it is important to find out why a person does it. The whole idea of writing an exam is, looking at the present system, to get marks. It does not check how much a person has leant or how much he has applied his learning’s. It purely check if the student has read what was there in the text book and whether he can reproduce the same exact thing in a given time frame. In this case the student is copying what was written by some author in the text book using his memory as a buffer, and I find it difficult to see any difference between that and a student copying from a neighbors book. What the system seems to test is ones memory and the usage of memory is evident in both these cases.

More thought required. A discussion would help.

The Conference Regular


My first day at NID will remain one of those days I can never forget. The first time I visited the campus was when I was in the 4th standard and knew instantly that this is the place I wanted to be in. I never tried reasoning this and have still not been able to. One the first day, the one common question I found people asking each other was the reason for joining NID. Some of the answers were so full of jargons (which I now learnt were jargons) that  I had no particular reason. It would be a great blunder if I were to state that I choose to join NID. It may sound a little chiched but NID (and thus design) choose me.

While asking some of the people what they were here for, one of the answers that struck me was this- “I am here for the name tag”. I never quite understood this. Did that mean ” I know I am bad, my work presently proves that, but once I get out of NID all this bad work will be certified as good.”

Has NID opened a franchise ?

Composing words

I have always been bad at spellings. Be it english, gujarati, or hindi, my teachers always complained and found it amusing that someone could be so bad at spellings. I never understood why I was bad at it until today when i tried checking the spelling of a particular word. A simple word. Assam. I wasn’t sure if it was assam  or asaam.

To test it out, I got my cell phone and typed in assam and looked at it for a while. I soon realised that it was not how the alphabets together created a sound that i was looking for but the form of the whole word. The word as a whole. I was inspecting the positive and negative space the word created and matching it with previous images or occurrences of the same word, checking if the space around the word matched with the space i had in mind and thus finally deciding if the word was spelled correct.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a positive and a negative space is, if we have a black pen and were to write the letter “A” on a white sheet of paper, the region marked by the ink (in black ) is the positive space while the space created while writing (in white ) is the negative space.

I was correcting my spellings visually not verbally. I experimented this theory with a few other words. This time a little longer word. The word knowledge is well etched in my memory cause i was once asked to spell it out during a quiz competition witnessed by my mom. She taught in the same school I studied and was in the audience. During the rapid fire round, i was asked to spell this word to which i spelled it first without the last e. But something about it dint seem right then. The overall word dint seem to be balanced.

There was this small space which only the alphabet “e” could fill that was missing or at least my past memories of the space the word created suggested.I was taught spellings in the traditional way. But somewhere my mind dint read the word, it saw the word and determined if the word was well composed. Verbally I still wonder if the “e” is required in knowledg ( looks improper right ?) or the “g” in strenth . Seeing words and remembering the form of it seemed easier I suppose but  looking at this happening seem like I have a lot to learn about composition from what I did. I was composing words visually.

Further thoughts-

Do we learn letters or alphabets first ?

When a kid is taught letters, the association of sound with that letter  converts the letter into an alphabet. Letters are taught visually, sounds get associated with a particular letter over prolonged  listening. Its like teaching a dog how to give a hand shake. The dog initially has no idea why it is giving a hand shake. But over the years it realizes that this simple gesture creates a strange looking shape on the humans face, which ultimately leads to the master being happy. This strange shape we know as a smile. But for a dog it is a sign of benefit.

Form, Space and Pockets!

As a kid I loved stuffing my pockets with anything and everything I found around me. It could be while walking on the streets or while riding my bicycle over terrains, my eyes were always fixed to the ground. There have been times when I got late to school or tuitions cause I found this shiny piece of rock and spent some time looking at the world through it.  At various occasions I have found things that finally landed in my pocket sometimes tearing it and sometimes leaking in my pocket thus  spoiling my pant completely. My mom got mad at me for she believed that it was a bad habit to put my hands in my pockets. One of my jackets had pockets but my grand mom stitched it shut.  I still ask why ?

Pockets are amazing. I love pockets. The time when I got as tall as my granddad and all his old pants started fitting me, I found the concept of a “choor pocket” (thief pocket – a small pocket, not to be confused with the key pocket found in most jeans.) This pocket was stitched closer to the groin and allowed a person very limited space to keep anything. It was more of a trick for one to reach out into his choor pocket without making the croud around one look at you, that he got stitched on his pants amazing. What a great invention the pocket was. A simple recess, an unassuming space that allowed one to keep all that he valued in it, as close as possible to himself, while he carried it.

Sometime when I was thirteen I saw a lot of people wearing these new pants they called “cargos”. I called them 6 pockets. 6 pockets meant more storage to me. I had to have them. My mom thought I was getting carried away with the latest trends and that’s a serious no no for an Iyer boy in his teens. What’s good and what’s allowed for an iyer boy would be discussed in another post. But, I loved the idea that I could store more in my pockets and finally dump it in my cupboard and wait for that ultimate moment when I could use it to make “something”. Most of the times I had no idea what I wanted to make.

So what’s space and form got to do with pockets ? What was it about these pockets that I admired them ?  Was it the “style” factor that came with these cargos impress me or was it the fact that I could use it matter ?

My understanding of form may not be that accurate but, I am constantly trying to understand it better for I believe design is manipulating space thus giving it a certain form. A glass, a mug or a bucket are very similar in form. The space that the form creates in each of these individual objects is what makes it “usable”. Space as much as we cant understand it, comprehend it nor can we point at something and call it space, allows the form to mould it and make the space usable.

Coming back to the pocket(s).Looking back, It was a simple form. A form that dint stand out. Well, it did in the 6 pocket pants but otherwise the original idea of a form that attached itself to my pants, unassuming, close to me, that created a space, allowing me to store something at any given time was something I really appreciated. I still do.


Hi there,

If you have got here to read something that makes sense, I can assure you that this post is incomplete,incomprehensible,boring,lengthy and runs with no script whatsoever. I guess thats what makes it a good reading. It also happens to be my 50th post; which frightens me at times for I wonder as to when did I start thinking verbally ?

About verbal thinking and visual thinking ( It took me around 10 seconds to get the word “visual” as the only response my mind gave me were random images !) well, that needs a little more thought for it to be penned  down, but that may happen shortly. for now –

This story is purely fictional and bears no resemblance to anything/anyone alive or dead.

It was a perfect morning. The decision to go to shamadurga was well thought and what better a day than a Sunday, considering Monday was gona be a holiday. But this Sunday was different. There was a celebration that had been planned and not attending was frowned upon by the others.

Knowing very well how the others thought of Siddhartha, he decided to go for this camping trip. What better way to celebrate than going out and enjoying the wealth of nature. At least it’s better than throwing acid on each other, posing with disfigured faces for pictures and finally posting them on facebook to personify perhaps the most misused word ever, Fun.

Siddhartha knew there was something different about the way he thought of and looked at things. He did live in the moment and dint care much about what was to happen or what had happened. Although telling stories of his past amused people, Siddhartha wondered as to how none of the others had a similar childhood. It wasn’t pried that he saw in this but a certain level of surprise. At many occasions Siddhartha was ridiculed, his ideas rejected his comments unattended but none of this ever bothered him. Maybe it did a little, enough for it to make it here, but somewhere deep down him he knew he was doing the right thing. The only grounding he had for this were the principles that were instilled in him, most of the times by force, at a young age.

He had sentiments. He was emotional but knew how to control them to a certain extent. When uncontrolled he saw himself doing somebody’s work in their absence. His ideas about relationships and about love, at least he believed so, were radical and sometimes awful. And who could blame him. He being the right brained lefthander couldn’t understand how to people decided that they could live together for the rest of their lives. Life. That was another of Siddhartha concerns. He dint understand it quiet well and wondered if he ever would. Every time he found something that hinted at answering this, he realised it was not the ultimate. Siddhartha also had a knack of explaining things at lengths sometimes drifting away from the original intended idea and somehow getting back having sketched a couple of tangents.

What happened at shravanadurga is not the plot of this story. What happened on his return from this sacred place where nature had still managed to keep itself untouched is more interesting. The others as he called them were waiting at the café entrance with an agenda. We must boycott Siddhartha.

Looking at disfigured faces with colours that resembled a Persian pot, sidharth couldn’t help but think of the foolishness the others had stabbed themselves with. For some reason these faces looked a little more disfigured on this very day. Maybe it was because of the absence of a smile that was persistent on all their faces. If the whole idea of throwing acid on each other was to have fun, why it is that no one is smiling, Siddhartha thought. Little did he know that there was a plot that that been set up, a judgment to be given, and a nib to be broken.

“We need to talk to you”, said one of the girls whose face had a large green mark resembling the silhouette of someone’s palm. This form of celebration is nothing but a license to flirt Siddhartha thought. Siddhartha asked her what it was about to which the girl put her head down made a quiet gesture to the crowd waiting for someone or the crowd to unanimously say something. Finally after a while one of the boys in the crowd shouted out loud. “It’s about you Siddhartha, you are the problem.”

Siddhartha was excited beyond measures. This would perhaps be the first time he was the subject of discussion. Somehow he thought this discussion would help him understand himself better. He walked down with the group to the café and noticed something that made him a little upset. The crowd got smaller and smaller as they walked to the café. More the people, more the thoughts, more answers is what Siddhartha thought.

The crowd finally reached the café and announced to Siddhartha that his behavior had changed and that he had suddenly become a little annoying. Very annoying one of the girls in the group whose face now looked even redder almost creating a color pallet between red and cream. Siddhartha wondered what it was about him that the others found him annoying. What could it be? Was it his questioning nature? Was it his way of stating facts that may have seemed a little impolite? He questioned to the crowd as to what was the reason they believed he was annoying.

More to come.