Archive for india

Divide and Rule

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2012 by javedbabar

“Our method will be divide and rule!” said Guru Baba.

“Divide and rule – are you serious?” asked Sami.

“Yes, why not? It worked for the British in India. Why shouldn’t we learn from their methods?”

Divide and Rule was the opposite of everything that Guru Baba stood for. To Sami colonialism seemed a scar on human history, with a clutch of European countries ruling most of the world. It had destroyed cultural diversity, traditional power structures, local industries, and stable societies. The colonizers had stolen priceless treasures and in their place left artificial boundaries that ruined untold lives. And Guru Baba quoted this as a successful methodology?

Sure, the British had left a positive legacy too, of roads, railways, government buildings, a police force, civil service and judiciary, but that was a different matter. Sami shook his head and smiled. He returned to the problem in hand.

The thousand people present here, and thousands more coming, would need careful managing. Their queue had already become a sprawl, and bad feelings were building. People were letting in their family and friends ahead of people who had queued for hours, even overnight.

He recognized regulars near the front of the queue, people who came to every darshan – holy viewing – in Arcadia, whenever and wherever it was. He appreciated their enthusiasm – their donations paid Sami’s wages as Guru Baba’s assistant – but it seemed unfair. Other, older, weaker or busier people, simply couldn’t wait that long and went home.

Maybe Guru Baba was right in a way. How could he implement divide and rule?

Sami’s first job in the City, selling cell phones, had taught him negotiation skills. That’s what they needed now, a negotiation strategy, where rules were agreed, not imposed.

Sami called the marshalls over. “To earn their place at the darshan, I would like each person to negotiate.”

There were blank faces all round.

“We must gauge people’s spiritual needs, rather than granting access simply because of their habit of getting up early. People sleeping in are doing it for a reason. They indulge in night because they can’t handle day. Their need of darshan is greater.”

A marshall asked, “So how do we assess their spiritual need? By checking their karma?”

“Good idea, but I’m not sure we are qualified to do that. We will ask if they must see, want to see, or would like to see Baba.”

The blank faces looked blanker. They were tabulae rasa, empty slates.

“Those that must see Baba receive priority. Those who want to see him come next. Then those who would like to see him. It is a hierarchy of need with their words providing the clues. Don’t get into deep discussions, just ask them that question and direct them based upon their answer. Persons will have earned their places, and the lines inside will be prioritized accordingly.”

The marshalls’ strategy led to some unexpected responses.

A boy said, “He wants to see me, for I am the One!”

A woman said, “Oh, I thought this was the queue for pakoras.”

A man refused to speak anything other than Sanskrit.

A girl said, “None of them. He is an illusion, as are you, and us all.” She knew that in the cosmic context, that of an imperishable whole, it was impossible to divide and rule conscious beings.

Marriage of Convenience

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2012 by javedbabar

The quiet man in the boy’s room kept himself apart. He was often dozing, and Bobby nicknamed him Zzz or Zed. When he wasn’t dozing he was connected to his computer, watching TV, or on his cell phone.

Bobby often said hello to Zed and received a similar response. Questions were a different matter though.

“Where are you from?” got a mumble back.

“What kind of work are you looking for?” There was an unintelligible answer.

“How’s the cell phone signal in your room?” Just a thumbs up.

Zed seemed to enjoy isolation, but curiously, came into the halfway house’s kitchen when he knew others were there. If a woman appeared, he left the room immediately. Maybe he wanted company but was really shy.

Everybody was in the same position here; they were unprofessional people seeking opportunities in Lucerne. There seemed to be great demand for professional people, but little demand for their less well trained brothers.

Zed left the house every day at six for his evening stroll. He went for hours and usually returned with groceries. Other than this he never left the house, and he received no visitors. It was almost like the world around him didn’t exist; he behaved as if in alien territory.

Other members of the household took turns at cooking. French, Italian, English, Swedish, and Greek food was regularly available. Zed couldn’t stomach it. “Too little taste,” was all he said. He stayed in his room during communal meals, and instead cooked alone at midnight.

Zed cooked the same food every night. He dissolved two vegetable stock cubes in a pint of water, added two potatoes and two chillies, which he boiled for an hour. This was his only dish.

Bobby was short of cash one week and so was everybody else. Denied bank accounts for having poor credit scores, the halfway house’s residents stored their earnings beneath their mattresses. The code of the poor dictated that they could borrow each other’s money when needed, as long as they returned it.

While Zed was out, Bobby took the opportunity to look under his mattress. There were piles of Indian rupees there. They looked quite strange. He examined them closely, and saw they featured complex holograms, and futuristic structures in places he’d never heard about. Other than the rupee notes, a toy telescope, and a few items of clothing, Zed seemed to own nothing.

Later that week, Bobby picked up three days of casual work, and with his earnings, bought a bottle of whisky. He was drinking it alone when Zed walked into the lounge, and sat down beside him. He asked for a measure. Bobby poured him a double. Whether or not Zed wanted to get drunk was hard to say. The fact is, he did, and it loosened his tongue.

“I am from the Orion system,” he said. “I was sent here to test the possibility of intergalactic marriage. But I hated everything in that place; the weather, people, pollution, rush, noise, cost.”

He must mean the new City, thought Bobby.

“So I came to Lucerne, but everything is still wrong here. I have come one hundred years too early. India is not a superpower yet. I learned Hindi but it is not spoken here; I can’t eat the bland food; the weather is too cold, and I cannot mate with unenhanced humans. What’s a guy to do?”

Tiny Houses

Posted in Conceptual Art, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2012 by javedbabar

There was a huge earthquake in India and lakhs – hundreds of thousands – were homeless. Reading the report upset Sami. People were begging for clean water, food and shelter, and with the monsoon approaching they were likely to be washed out.

One of Guru Baba’s projects was disaster relief. Though Sami was now working as the 3D Unit’s manager rather than Guru Baba’s assistant, he was still on the books as a volunteer. He received a call at lunchtime.

“Hello Sami. My name is Raja. We haven’t met, but Guru Baba asked me to call you. I am his new assistant. He said you could help us with disaster relief.”

Sami put down his NFC sandwich. Whoever thought of putting fried chicken between bread was a genius. Northern Fried Chicken was so good, and to think that his previous girlfriend had wanted him to share her vegan raw food diet. No way, chook!

“Yes, of course. What can I do for you?”

“I am not sure really. Guru Baba wondered how your trials were going with large-format 3D printers. He said you were looking at modular construction systems.”

Ah! Thought Sami. He’s on the ball, still. Always thinking ahead and beyond. “I haven’t made much progress yet. There’s been a rush of prototyping projects this summer for fall production and Christmas sale. I may have time next week to continue trials.”

Sami knew people were in trouble. He wasn’t saying he couldn’t do anything, he was saying he couldn’t do anything right now. “Are you suggesting we make stuff here and ship it over? That would be really expensive, and take a month or more.”

“Hang on, let me ask him. I’ll call you back.”

He called again in five minutes. “Guru Baba says he doesn’t want production, he only wants prototyping. He wants you to provide low-tech blueprints for the printer and perform experiments on efficient material usage. Find the cheapest materials and stretch them. Can you please look into that?”

Sami said, “Okay, I’ll take a look. I’ll report back soon.”

The large format 3D printer appeared complex, but beyond the CPU, it was simple mechanically. It was just a machine layering materials and leaving gaps, paralleling the way that nature built landscapes, creating them with volcanoes and floods and fine-tuning with wind and rivers.

Sami wondered if nature, or the 3D printer, could rebuild lives.

Jamz poked his head in at four pm. He was unofficial leader of the rag pickers working the trash after school. “Hello Sami, I just thought I’d say hi!”

Sami wasn’t in the mood for chat. “Sorry Jamz, I have an urgent task now. No time to talk.”

“Can I help you with it?”

“I don’t think so. It’s for disaster relief in India. I need to think it through.”

“That’s the problem with adults. They want to think about things rather than do them immediately. Why don’t you tell me what you need and I’ll help you.”

Sami was surprised by his manner but said okay. He explained the task.

Jamz said, “It’s simple really. Make flexible blueprints so people can use whatever materials are available – metal, plastic or wood – for the structure. Leave the CPU to the kids. They’re savvy with technology and have smaller hands. They’ll do a much better job than adults. They can be actors, rather than burdens, in regenerating their own lives.”

They spent the evening making architectural models of simple structures. It was a practical, open ended way to explore ideas. They studied volumes and appearances, and toyed with components, calculations, and dynamic reflections.

“Let’s follow the way of the bee,” said Jamz. He devised a honeycombed wall structure allowing one cubic metre of cement to create a room with an internal volume of thirty cubic metres, enough for a family to survive. They modelled a room which could be shown by NGOs to government agencies for fundraising, obtaining permits, even sales.

Cement is just crushed rock and lime. It could provide the interface between virtual and real worlds, those of disasters on the news and providing comfort for the afflicted.

With 3D printers, it was simply a case of pushing a button and sending plans, which could be translated into action.

No Need to Worry

Posted in Global Travel, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Adam had heard that professional jobs were available in Lucerne. Things were pretty slow in the city so it seemed like a good idea to try his luck elsewhere.

In days gone by he would have just taken off abroad. Living in developing countries was cheaper than staying in Arcadia. When he wasn’t working here, living in India or Ethiopia or Peru was a way to save money, provided he went for at least a month to amortize the airfare.

A month in the city was about three thousand bucks all in, a hundred a day. A month in Varanasi, Lalibela or Cuzco was two thousand, flights included, and the longer he stayed there, the better the notional day-rate – going from sixty dollars to half that. But now that he had a wife and three step-children, he had to handle the situation carefully.

He did some day trips initially. Lucerne was a pretty village with a white mountain standing guard above it, and surrounded by forests, rivers and lakes. It was filled with old families of farmers, loggers and hunters, but also a new crowd of artists, musicians and yoga teachers. He checked with Village Hall, and yes, they said, they needed professional people desperately. If he moved here, he could have his pick of jobs.

“When can I have an interview?” he asked the receptionist.

“This is it,” she said. “You’ve got the job, or more than one if you like.”

“More than one?”

“Yes, we have numerous positions available, and funds from the Authority gathering dust. We want to use them for the benefit of Lucerne’s citizens.” She explained the strange situation here. There was mass unemployment of unskilled people, but a shortage of skilled ones. They desperately needed his expertise.

Adam was assigned the job of CPM: Chief Project Manager, and asked to start as soon as possible. He was also given a house to live in with a nocturnal security guard.

“Is that necessary?” he asked. “It seems like a peaceful place.”

“Just in case,” said the receptionist. “You never know.”

Adam’s wife agreed that he should follow the work, and they moved immediately. On the first evening, they dined outdoors, and were so moved by beauty that they could hardly speak. Adam had seen such beauty before, in the Himalayas, Lasta Mountains, and the Andes, but always alone. He was now seeing it with his family, through the eyes of his beloved, and her children.

As the sun set, the security guard, David, suggested they go indoors.

“What’s the hurry?” said Adam. “Let’s enjoy the stars appearing and tonight’s full moon.” He knew it would be impossible to get the kids early to bed tonight. They may as well stay out.

“You don’t know this place well, do you. Have you stayed here overnight before? No? Okay, trust me. You’re better off indoors. That’s what I’m here for, to stay outdoors to ensure your safety. There’s no need to worry though. I am a professional too. I will keep you safe.”

“Safe from what?”

“You’ll see.”

“Do you have a gun?” Adam recoiled when he realized what he’d said. Had he brought his family to a place where you need a gun to survive?

“No, I won’t need a gun. Just go inside and take it easy. No need to worry.”

That night they heard glass smashing somewhere, screeching tires, and flashes like firecrackers, followed by a chorus of sirens – ambulances, fire trucks, and cops. They slept eventually but were disturbed from their slumber by smashing and shouting. Adam went to the window to see. There was David, covered in blood, either grimacing or grinning.

“What happened?” he called. “Are you okay?”

“I told you not to worry. I have taken care of it.” He wiped his machete, swigged some beer and sat down. He looked at the horrified children and said, “Nothing to see. Now go to bed.”

He wanted them to leave before there was another assault on the house. More of the poor would come.

White Matter

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2012 by javedbabar

Sammy poked his head around the door. “Yes, Doctor? You wanted to see me?”

Dr Bungawalla looked up from his desk but said nothing. There was something bothering him. Then he said, “Yes, yes. Please come in. How long are you with us for, altogether? Ah good, a month. So you go back to school in September? Perfect.” He pushed his chair away from the desk, pulled it back in, and shuffled papers.

“I was wondering if you would help me with a project. I think we can complete it in four weeks. It is not something mentioned on the internship documents; it’s more of a personal project. It will be helpful research to me.”

Dr Bungawalla had been the village doctor for forty years. Sammy recalled his always being nice to him, especially as a child, giving him snacks and sweeties, even pop. Good job he had become a doctor not a dentist!

Sammy nodded to indicate he would help. When someone’s just lost his wife, you should do everything you can for him.

“Oh good. I’m sure you know that the brain is composed of grey matter. Well, did you know that there is also white matter? It’s lipid tissue veined with capillaries; actually pinkish, but let’s not worry about that. It was previously thought to be passive tissue but now we know that its main function is to transmit signals, acting as a sort of relay, consolidating communication between different brain regions. It has an important role in processing and cognition; it plays a role in both our function and dysfunction.”

Sammy nodded along and said, “Is white matter your special area of interest?”

“Yes it is. Specifically, there are areas called White Matter Hyperintensities which show up as bright signals on MRI images. No, they are not really dangerous; like most things, they are essentially neutral, and it depends on what you do with them.”

“Can I take a seat?” said Sammy.

“Ah, yes, yes. So sorry, I was going to stand up but then forgot. Please take a seat.” Dr Bungawalla explained his strange request to Sammy. It seemed like a good way to spend his month here. They would both learn something useful.

For the first week, Sammy ate a Mediterranean diet. He stocked up with fruit, vegetables, fish, grains, nuts, and olives, and drank strong coffee and smoked cigarettes. Dr Bungawalla scanned his brain with the EMU (Electromagnetic Medical Unit), and recorded the changes. His chief interest was in the effect of olives; olive wood had been used in Greece to make statues of gods. There must be a reason for that.

The second week, Sammy ate pulses, macaroni, rice, beef and pickles. This Egyptian diet had fortified the builders of the Pyramids and Sphinx. Dr Bungawalla was especially engaged with the nourishment provided by lentils; these tiny seeds were a source of total nourishment. He saw that Sammy’s Hyperintensities had decreased in volume.

The third week, Sammy consumed an Indian diet. He added plenty of coriander, cumin, chilli, turmeric, garam masala, mustard seeds, salt and pepper to his meals. He also ate curds and sweet fried pastries. The chilli made him sweat and activated other nutrients he’d consumed. Spice fires the soul. Dr Bungawalla saw that this diet was boosting his antibodies, with no detrimental effects on Hyperintensities.

The fourth week Sammy ate Chinese food. He ate mostly vegetables and rice with a wide variety of meats, including pork stomach and trotters, beef brain and tongue, chicken gizzard and feet, and snake guts and heart, all washed down with pearl green tea. Dr Bungawalla saw a reduction in the volume of Hyperintensities. After further examination, he saw that it was not caused by food; it was caused by pearl green tea, which calmed the spirit and created fluidity. From now on Dr Bungawalla would drink this tea in the hope of slowing down his Alzheimer’s’ Disease.

Dr Bungawalla never assumed that modern medicine was best. He believed one should try traditional cures, beginning with your daily food. Hyperintensity Volume was a marker of small vessel damage in the brain, a reduction of which leads to a reduction of strokes and cognitive decline. But he also knew that it wasn’t just diet. There were associated memories encoded in White Matter, those of family joviality. Any of the diets that Sami had tried – Mediterranean, Egyptian, Indian or Chinese – would help Dr Bungawalla if rather than eating alone each night, he could share them with someone.

Brainspam

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by javedbabar

“Area O has 42% activity. Area M has 12%. Area H has only 4%. Area T has 9%. Area C has 14%. I am using these as the Rest State Benchmarks.”

Martin wasn’t sure that he was meant to hear these remarks, but the door was open and he hadn’t been drugged. It was a young female voice. He wondered what she looked like.

His experience so far was not interesting. After an hour in reception, they’d taken him up or down some levels – the elevator was strange and he wasn’t sure which – and brought him to this room called the ScanLab, where spots of gel, and then electrodes, had been attached to his head. He’d asked them how many; they’d said twelve. He’d sat here for half an hour with nothing happening. It was not a great way to spend a day, but he was getting paid a hundred bucks for two hours work, so who cares.

A tall lady with dark hair and brown glasses came in and said, “Hello, I’m Joyce, your researcher.”

“My researcher?” he said. Maybe she looked tall because he was lying down.

“Sorry, I mean the researcher. Thank you for agreeing to this. It took longer than expected to set things up, so we’re a bit behind. You can leave after two hours if you wish to. But if we need to keep you longer, and it’s okay with you, we’ll give you an additional hundred dollars per hour. How does that sound?”

“Keep me all day if you want!” This wasn’t a bad gig.

“Wonderful. Let’s begin.” She adjusted her glasses. “We want to show you some items and record your responses. That’s it.”

“And I presume you’ve wired me up for a reason?”

“Yes indeed. As well as your conscious behaviour, we would also like to test your unconscious behaviour. You don’t need to be sleeping for this; we just need to know what’s happening in your mind.”

Martin would have liked to see too, but the monitor was in the room next door. He wasn’t getting paid fifty bucks an hour, going up to a hundred for overtime, for watching TV.

Joyce passed him a card bearing mathematical symbols, which he realized were Greek letters. He noted Alpha, Beta, Theta, Gamma and Pi, but couldn’t make out any larger meaning.

From the other room he heard, “Look – Area T has hit 38% here.”

“What is this?” said Martin.

“It’s some early advertising. A lost and found poster from Ancient Greece. Can you make any sense of it?” He said he couldn’t.

She passed him another card, with hieroglyphs. He recognized the Ankh and Eye of Horus; palm trees, people and animals were easy; the blue curls must be water.

He heard, “Area C now, look… 48%.”

Joyce said, “This is a home rental ad from Ancient Egypt.” Martin raised his eyebrows. She continued, “Beautifully laid out, isn’t it?”

Before he could answer, she passed him a third card bearing Indian letters. He’d seen similar script on people’s tattoos. He recognized the curly 3-like letter as an OM sign, but that was it. He heard, “Area O is 68% and Area M is 34%. Area H is minus four.”

Joyce said, “These are personal ads from Ancient India – families advertising for marriage partners for their daughters. They were way ahead of us in dating!”

“Now try this one,” she said, pushing a fourth card towards him. It held Chinese letters, none of which he recognized, but which for some reason gave him a sense of great wellbeing.

“Woh!” he heard from the next room. “Area H is 100%! All other Areas are high!”

Joyce looked up suddenly. She’d lost her cool.

“What was that card?” he asked.

She hesitated and looked at the mirror, and then at him. “A poster for medicine from 3000 BC China.” She pulled out some other cards. “Now please look at these.”

There was a tortoise.

There was the sun.

There was the ocean.

There was gold.

His sense of wellbeing remained. That Chinese medicine must be a strong one. The images were harmonious, and all of long-living or imperishable things.

There was excited conversation in the room next door. A man said, “Is that it? Have we found the leverage point?”

Another man said, “That’s it! We’ll check the relevance of his surrounding content, and traffic received, but I think we’ve got it. Area H, the Hypothalamus, fully engaged with the Elixir of Life poster. That shows we can directly control biological functions with archetypal advertising. Prepare the Brainspam.”

When Martin went home he felt very different. Everything was wonderful, and would remain so as long as he kept taking his medicine.

Re-Search

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by javedbabar

In Varanasi Robby had met an old man with waist-length dreadlocks wearing saffron robes. He was sitting on the banks of the Ganges with a mass of jumbled jewellery, and marigolds in his hair being nibbled by the occasional cow. He said to Robby, “There is no search; there is only re-search.”

Saffron-shirted Robby was fully immersed in India, and had even taken a Vedic name, Karma. He said, “What do you mean by that?”

The old man said, “Do you think that this is the first time we have lived? We have existed countless times in an endless universe! Everything is known already! It has been done already! You have no power. You cannot do anything. So re-search for true knowledge. Otherwise you are just wasting time.”

“But if time repeats itself, then why does that matter?” He was all for Indian holy talk but also needed logical veracity. Why would it matter? Why would anything matter?

The old man said, “This you must discover for yourself.”

“Can’t you tell me?” said Robby, annoyed. Why was he talking to this guy anyway? He wasn’t telling him anything new. Just another holy man wanting cash probably. But he hadn’t yet asked Robby to make a “donation to God”. The old man instructed him to bathe in the Ganga River, to chant great mantras, to pray to the home of the Gods, Mt. Kalash, and to make holy designs with coloured powders. “Do re-search,” he said and turned away.

Robby had pretty much forgotten the old man, but every now and then his silly phrase came to mind. “There is no search; there is only re-search.”

After many years of travelling, Robby washed up in Lucerne. It was a beautiful Valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains, cedar, fir, and pine forests, and glacial rivers. He spent most of his time in a cabin on the riverbank, and worked occasionally stacking shelves or pumping gas. It was an easy life but he felt that something was missing. The old man’s words came back to him, and also his epilogue, “Otherwise you are just wasting time.”

What did he mean by re-search? Did that just mean finding again something that was lost or forgotten? This sounded like a regressive activity. Maybe that thing had been forgotten for a reason. The vegan yogini he was dating in India told him of horrors such as witch-burning and widow-burning. Why would you want to re-search for these? Best to forget them.

Could he have meant research, meaning looking into things further. This sounded more progressive. You could look at old newspapers, magazines, and books, or search online. There was plenty of information on everything, you just needed the skills to delve and sift. Decide whether to trust Wikipedia’s 4 million amateur articles, or stick with the 100,000 professional ones on Encyclopaedia Britannica. Grass roots versus experts.

But surely even better than research was search – actively finding things, real things, rather than their records? Real people and places during real adventures! The Knights of King Arthur’s Round Table didn’t sit in Camelot doing research; they went on a Quest for the Holy Grail. Robby had heard that there was a difference between looking and seeing. Everybody looks – for example at a blank canvas, or empty steppe desert – but few people see – like Picasso saw Guernica, or Genghis Khan saw Mongolia. Underlying any search lay the ability to see. It was all about awareness.

But was not seeing also a secondary act, witnessing what existed already? Prior to seeing must come creation. Was this notion contained in the S of see, a fluid symbol of being like the Taijitu –Yin-Yang – symbol. SSSsss… like a snake. The serpent that lay coiled at the base of your spine, awaiting stimulation. Ready to arise, energizing your chakras one by one – your base, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown. Like the serpent at the base of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, that tempted Eve to offer Adam the evil apple. A being of power but also of danger. The serpent lives in both worlds – both upon the earth in light, and beneath it in darkness. By coiling a snake around Mt. Meru and churning the milky ocean, gods and demons created the world.

The old man had said, “There is no search; there is only re-search.” Was this his ultimate meaning? The S curving like the shape of the lingam – egg shaped symbol of Siva, the world’s destroyer and regenerator, which curved like Einstein’s notion of space-time. A completed curve made a circle, a circus, a circuit, a cycle. A beginning and returning.

Robby sat beside the river and repeated the old man’s rituals as best he could there. He bathed in the River Lilly, chanted forgotten mantras, prayed to Mt. Negra, and made holy designs in sand with his fingers. He recalled his Vedic name, Karma, meaning action.

Then he thought to himself, what on earth am I doing sitting on my ass here in the forest – a grown man with no job, house, money, or purpose – when I have the whole world and my whole life before me. Robby’s ten years of re-search were complete. He arose, got dressed and walked down the road.