Sound of Silence



Last week I was travelling by bus from a city in western Maharashtra to my home town. It was late in the evening around 10 p.m. The bus took a scheduled halt for dinner at a roadside restaurant. I usually prefer light meals in the evening and while travelling it gets even more lighter. Quickly wrapping up my dinner I headed out of the restaurant for a walk while other fellow passengers were gorging on food.

The restaurant was kind of in the middle of nowhere with huge open fields in the front and at the back. It was pitch black outside the footprints of its lights. Clear open skies above with generous sprinkling of stars presented a perfect backdrop. It was completely still, dark and silent.  The only audible sound was that of the insects in the fields and an occasional gust of pleasant wind produced that rustling sound of dry leaves. It was as if the world and time had stopped. I could hear my own breathing and it dawned upon me that you can literally ‘hear’ the silence.


Silence is a wonderful phenomenon. It has a soothing and calming effect. You can hear it when you are at home, alone, doing nothing with only the ceiling fan generating that soft whir. You can hear it in late winter nights with loud ticking of the wall clock. You can hear it accentuated on a particularly wet evening after heavy rains with the chirping of the crickets and the croaking of the frogs. You can hear it at dawn with the gentle chirping of the birds. You can hear it on the mountain top with the wheezing of the breeze. You can hear it on an uncrowded sea beach as the waves crash ashore. You can hear it on a trek in the remote woods as the sounds of birds and animals trickles in.

As it turns out, different surroundings at different points of time coupled with specific natural sounds create a unique flavour of silence. Now am not trying to get creepy but if you get adventurous enough to venture deep into the woods at night and on top of that get lucky enough to hear the hoot of the owl and the howling of the wolf, silence doesn’t get more deafening than that! What I am driving at is, if a thing or phenomenon is to be experienced, it has to be from outside its reference frame. Put simply, there has to be that ‘anti’ thing.


Just as to experience light, there has to be darkness, to experience the heat, there has to be the chill, to experience movement, there has to be stillness. To experience the good, there has to be a bad, to experience the sweet taste, there has to be a bitter taste. Same goes for silence. That gentle breeze, that rhythmic breathing of self, that distant chirping of the crickets, that gentle splashing sound of water on the beach or the melodious cooing of the cuckoo in the morning actually help you hear the silence. It is difficult to imagine how our ‘hearing challenged’ brothers and sisters perceive silence since unfortunately they cannot hear the sounds.


Silence is the language of the Universe, most natural, most original. All other sounds are its ‘anti’ manifestations. It is just that some sounds discussed above compliment silence and help bring out its pleasant experience. I am tempted to quote one of the verses from the song ‘sound of silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel:

And in the naked light I sawSimon-and-Garfunkel_370
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

Tunguska Event

tunguska2Morning time, 07:14 a.m., June 30th, 1908. Location, the stony Tunguska river in eastern Siberia, Russia. The morning calm is shattered by a monstrous explosion, the most powerful natural explosion ever recorded in history. It is said that the explosion was a 1000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The area is sparsely populated and hence human casualties were minimum, one local deer herder reportedly died. However, there was extensive damage to the flora and fauna. The explosion flattened an area of more that 2000 sq miles). Hundreds of reindeer were reduced to charred carcasses.Some of the eyewitnesses reported seeing the entire sky engulfed in fire followed by deafening explosion and then noise like stones crashing or gunfire. The shock wave was registered by seismic stations across Eurasia measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale. It also caused fluctuations in the atmospheric pressure that were detected in England. Here is an eyewitness account as recorded by Leonid Kulik’s expedition.

“At breakfast time I was sitting by the house at Vanavara Trading Post [65 kilometres/40 miles south of the explosion], facing north. […] I suddenly saw that directly to the north, over Onkoul’s Tunguska Road, the sky split in two and fire appeared high and wide over the forest [as Semenov showed, about 50 degrees up—expedition note]. The split in the sky grew larger, and the entire northern side was covered with fire. At that moment I became so hot that I couldn’t bear it as if my shirt was on fire; from the northern side, where the fire was, came strong heat. I wanted to tear off my shirt and throw it down, but then the sky shut closed, and a strong thump sounded, and I was thrown a few meters. I lost my senses for a moment, but then my wife ran out and led me to the house. After that such noise came, as if rocks were falling or cannons were firing, the earth shook, and when I was on the ground, I pressed my head down, fearing rocks would smash it. When the sky opened up, hot wind raced between the houses, like from cannons, which left traces in the ground like pathways, and it damaged some crops. Later we saw that many windows were shattered, and in the barn, a part of the iron lock snapped.”


However, there was little immediate interest shown by the Russian Government which could be due to the political strife and the impending Russian revolution. It was only after about 20 years in 1927 that an expedition led by Leonid Kulik visited the spot to investigate. What he found was a large area of flattened trees about 50 km wide in a strange butterfly shape. He surmised that a meteor had exploded above the area but curiously there was no crater at ground zero. Later, to explain this he suggested that the ground was covered in swamps and was too soft to hold the debris. It could have been buried few meters deep. In 1938, he wrote in his conclusions that they would find the substances usually associated with such meteors at a depth of about 25 meters. Russian researchers later said that it could have been a comet. Comets are commonly made up of ice and dust and it could have evaporated while entering the earth’s atmosphere which made sense since no alien substances were found. But an exact convincing explanation still eluded the researchers.


In the absence of a convincing proof, many interesting theories were put forth. One such theory was that the explosion was caused by matter and anti matter collision. If that happens, particles get destroyed resulting in release of extreme bursts of energy. Another one suggested crash of a huge alien spaceship! In 2008, an Italian team of scientists suggested that lake Cheko, 5 miles north-north-west of the explosion’s epicenter could be the impact crater. Curiously, this lake was not on the maps before the Tunguska event. Luca Gasperini of the University of Bologna, Italy believes that there is no other way to explain the origin of that lake. However, other scientists were quick to dismiss this idea pointing to the well grown and unaffected trees all around the lake. In the event of an impact, the vegetation around the lake would have been completely destroyed. Another interesting theory attributes the explosion to Nikola Tesla! And why not??!! Tesla is known to have done things that amaze us even today. As it turns out, Nikola Tesla was working on his most ambitious project yet, the Wardenclyffe tower. With this, he envisaged worldwide wireless communications, worldwide transmission of free electricity and a defensive directed energy weapon.

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However, funding for this project was stopped by J.P. Morgan who obviously did not want free energy to be distributed throughout the world. It is said that a disillusioned Tesla wanted to demonstrate the power of his directed energy weapon and aimed it at the at the North pole. But a calculation mistake resulted the weapon overshooting the North pole and ultimately Tunguska had the bear the brunt. In the absence of concrete proofs there are numerous theories floating around, some plausible, some bizarre. Since 1908, more than 1000 scholarly papers have been published on the event and the event still continues to be investigated. Whatever it was, the jury is still out as to what exactly happened that morning on 30th June 1908.



If time travelled backwards

nature-images-86Sometimes I get weird ideas, so weird that they qualify to be labelled as thought aberrations rather than ideas. But the mind refuses to be reined in and continues to run amok. One such thought aberration was what if time travelled backwards? Now Einstein would be surely turning in his grave saying it’s all relative and there is no such thing as forward or backward. However, with my current frame of reference and the way my mind is programmed to think, “clockwise” is time travelling forward and “anticlockwise” is travelling backward. With that issue settled, let’s embark on a journey “back in time”, literally.

I would start my life as an 80 year old, with standard complement of medical complexities, whiling away my time, cursing others, creating occasional nuisance and ogling at women third my age, boys will be boys! Not a bad start, considering the fact that I would already be retired and the onus of my responsibility (actually burden) would be on my immediate family rather than other way round. After spending couple of decades, I would have gradually regained my health and would be about to join the workplace.

The medical complexities would have ebbed and I would be joining the workplace at the pinnacle of my (erstwhile) career, with its full baggage of pressures, responsibilities et al. It would be cool to have all the knowledge and the experience prior to joining the workplace. No interview, no tests. Over a period of few years, I would gradually “move down” the corporate ladder.

Though I may have a settled life, the customary midlife crisis would make it appear as if I am the most unsettled and the most unfortunate of them all. While desperately trying various options for course correction including retirement, I would essentially stay on the same course just procrastinating. While the midlife crisis would die down, I would still be doing the tight rope walk trying to balance my personal and professional life.

Meanwhile my full grown, full-fledged family would be progressively getting younger each day. The kids who had just got a job and were independent would now be attending college and then “graduate” into school. While in school, wouldn’t it be amazing to show them their own photographs and videos when they were older? Same would go for me and my wife when we would look at our photographs and videos when we were old and have a hearty laugh. One immensely satisfying thing would be to lose the flab around the waist and get the foliage back on the head.

As I would progress back in life, one day I would get married and the next day I would be a bachelor! Oh how I yearn to be a bachelor….if my wife reads this, am sure to get killed or maimed. Subsequently, it would be the good old college, sun in my eyes, wind in my hair, no studies, no worries….just friends, fun and movies. Next, it would be time to go to school. The energy, the insatiable desire to learn new things, the innocence and excitement would return. I would find joy in small things like jumping in puddles, playing in dirt, chasing insects and butterflies, making paper boats and airplanes.

Getting younger and younger, I would lose weight and height, would start wearing colourful clothes with images of cartoons, slowly losing my vocabulary. Instead of saying full words and sentences, would start blabbering in monosyllables. My routine would now be eating, sleeping, crawling around and again eating and sleeping. The diaper would take care of the rest. Finally it would be time to say goodbye to the world and get into my mother’s womb!


Walk in my space

IMG_20160308_104835852_HDRIt has been a few months now that I started my early morning walks. Well, at 10am, it is not exactly early morning when most of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood are well past their early morning chores, having reached respective schools, colleges and offices while some are on their way. Thanks to my work hours, which allow me to call it a day not before 12:00am and my inefficiencies which allow me to wind up only at around 12:30am and the icing on the cake is provided by the 1 hour commute time from office to my abode.

Once at home, my confused body clock still thinks it’s too early to sleep and then my newfound hobby(?) of reading a book or freshly published blogs takes over. I manage to barely get past few lines when the eyelids revolt and begin dropping down. I do offer a symbolic resistance by reading next few words even though they appear like some smokey figures and before long, am knocked out.

The next thing I remember is getting up bleary eyed at around 09:00 am in the morning. By this time my daughter is already halfway through with her morning school and my wife after having despatched our daughter to school tries to make the most of the ‘space’ she gets subsequently. However, we do exchange customary updates over piping hot tea which I call my turbocharger, that carries me through at least in the morning.

Another thing I do religiously is read the newspaper. However, even after reading it regularly every morning, I find my general knowledge and awareness going down. I have no qualms about blaming it on the lack of genuine news and the burgeoning advertisements. The habit persists, though it is not adding any value.

After devouring the breakfast, I am ready for my morning walk. Isn’t that what I started talking about at the begining of the post? Glad that I came back to it, thought I almost forgot!! Well, my morning walk is what I call ‘my space’. That’s because this is the time am on my own, all by myself, esconced in my thoughts. The weather is usually pleasant at that time in the morning though the sun does make an effort to make it difficult for me. However, its efforts are thwarted by the multistoried building where I live and the adjacent trees.

The walkway encircles the housing society and is lined with well grown trees. The gentle breeze creates a rustling sound as it blows through the trees which has a soothing impact over the frayed nerves battered by the previous day’s travails. The trees are home to a good number of birds and squirrels. The chirping of the sparrows and the cooing of the cuckoos is pure music to ears. The squirrels too descend down from the tress to nibble at anything they find interesting and scurry around from one place to another which is nothing short of poetry in motion.

These morning walks have now become ‘my space’ where I can take stock of my life, gather my thoughts, try to think something new (though I haven’t had my eureka moment yet) or just observe the surroundings and watch life go by.


Pour Your Thoughts On the Paper

Writing“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”. Beautiful quote by none other than William Worsdworth. This exceedingly simple yet effective quote applies not only to writers but every one of us. After all, writing is about thoughts, emotions, feelings and ideas which we humans have in abundance. Based on the situation and the state of the mind, these are expressed through talk, gestures, facial or physical expressions and writing. One thing is for sure, there is a writer that lurks behind the curtain of inhibitions in each one of us.

He has to be coaxed out from the sideline into the spotlight. Most of the times, it is the brain that controls our decisions or what we do but for something as creative as writing, let the heart call the shots. With a bit of resolve and determination, once the thaw sets in, the earlier frozen thoughts, emotions and ideas begin to flow in a trickle and slowly but surely turn into a steady flow, charting out its own course in form of beautiful descriptions, plots or stories.

But then writing is not for the faint or the broken hearted. It takes herculean efforts to overcome the initial blocks and lot of blood and sweat needs to be spilled on the paper before the rainbow comes out. It takes persistence of the ocean waves that ram into the rocks over and over till they smoothen out the rough surface or change shape or that of a river that carves out a valley or a canyon between mountains. Once you persist and overcome the initial hurdle, the next thing you do is identify the ‘sweet spot’ or the ‘zone’.  

This is the time, the place, the conditions or the trigger that make your thoughts flow effortlessly, something like an F22 Raptor does when it flies at supersonic speeds without afterburners(extra power) or a car that cruises at 60mph on an autobahn. When you are in the ‘zone’, the words flow with utmost ease like a brisk breeze in an open field. It is as if you are possessed and driven by divine power. However, it takes significant effort and patience to find out the ‘zone’. The sooner we find it, the better; I am yet to find it though.

But there is no denying the fact that writing can be immensely satisfying even for greenhorns like me. There would be times when you feel like writing for an audience, craving for that praise, raking in some moolah, getting huge views and likes on your blog which would eventually happen but your best would come out when you are writing for yourself and no one but yourself. So just sit back, relax and unshackle the horses of your imagination and let them run wild.

Here are some beautiful writing quotes:

“There is no magic trick to good writing. Writing is soul searching. Once you empty your soul, the words will appear.” – Natrietia McClendon.

“Write drunk. Edit Sober.” – Ernest Hemingway.


A stab in the past


Even though some characters are real, the story is purely fictional.

The door bell was ringing frenetically and persistently. Igal reached out for his clock at the bedside and his strained eyes could barely manage to catch the glimpse of the unearthly hour, it showed 02:30am in the morning. Suddenly, he was shaken out of his slumber by the loud and violent pounding on the door.He instantly froze, knowing fully well that it was the SS, Schutzstaffel or the German Secret Police. Before he could gather his thoughts and composure, there was a loud thud, indicating that the door was now broken and in the darkness he could make out four dark figures armed  with semi automatics right in his room. Two of them pushed him to the wall, got him handcuffed and the third one brusquely did a body search. In no time, he was bundled into a waiting truck full of other Jews including women and children, some crying some wailing and some too shocked to react.

As the truck began to move towards the concentration camp, loud beeps were heard in the background and the images began to get hazy and blurred. The beeps seemed to increase in volume until Ofir was completely stirred from his uneasy sleep. Ofir squinted to catch a glimpse of his watch and strangely enough it showed 02:30am in the morning. He was shivering with the effects of his nightmarish dream, his mind still struggling to decide which one was real. He got up and turned on the lights, his pillow still damp with the perspiration on his face.

Ofir  belonged to a generation that was born after the holocaust but felt very strongly about it since the SS took away his grand father Igal and grand mother Yael. He had heard about the horrors of the concentration camps from some holocaust survivors. Since then, he had been regularly suffering this nightmare. But he was no ordinary Israeli citizen, he was a Mossad Agent, determined to correct the past.He brushed, took a quick bath and headed straight to the Mossad headquaters.

The present world situation with ominous terror threats had forced many governments to embark on certain secret programs like time travel and mind control to counter this menace. The CIA, KGB and Mossad had made some progress on these initiatives in collaboration with respective cutting edge tech corporations. Like many holocaust survivors, Ofir and some of his colleagues harboured an ambition to correct the past.

A unit within the Mossad was a entrusted with the ultra secret mission to send someone in the past to eliminate Heinrich Himmler and his deputy Reinhard Heydrich. Himmler was in charge of the SS and was responsible for implementing the “final solution” envisioned by the Fuhrer.

Ofir had readily agreed to volunteer for this dangerous and almost suicidal mission. Though the scientists had succeeded in sending a dog and a sheep in the past, both were never retrieved. They had mastered the logic and technology of sending a subject in the past with accuracy of within an year of the targetted date and few miles of the targetted location or that’s what they thought. However they had yet to find a way to verify this or get the subject back to the present.

Ofir was made well aware of these factors but he agreed anyways since the only thing on his mind was to avoid the massacre of millions of people.He reached the Mossad headquarters at 04:00am sharp and proceeded immediately to the remote corner of the building where the secret lab was located. The doctors did a quick check of his blood pressure, heart beat and other vital signs. He was briefed about the mission, given photographs of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, their addresses in Berlin(of old times) and also the address of SS headquarters. He had to memorise all the addresses and photographs to carry out the execution with any means available and possible.

The lab was now buzzing with activity, the super computer at the corner was crunching huge amounts of data and alogorithms. The huge screen in the middle of the lab had a split display with one side displaying the relevant information with the current time and another with January 1929 timestamp and maps of old Berlin. This was the time when Himmler had assumed the position as head of SS. By taking out Himmler and Heydrich during that period when SS was being expanded and given sweeping powers, Mossad planned to change the course of Jewish history.

The activity in the lab had now reached a feverish pace. The IDF chief was now in the lab after getting a “Go” from the political leadership to personally oversee the operation. Ofir was now taken to the chamber called the time capsule which had an array of instruments lined up and sensors connected to Ofir’s body.There were lights blinking all over the lab and a palpitable tension was felt all over. After all this was the first time travel mission undertaken with a human as the traveller. The chambers door was closed and Ofir gave a thumbs up to indicate he was ready to go. The time travel equipment now came to life, all eyes were rivetted on the chamber. It was filled with a bright flash of light and after a few seconds, Ofir had disappeared. The chamber was now dark and empty.

There was hushed silence all over the lab and all eyes anxiously shifted to the huge monitor in the middle of the lab. After about 2-3 minutes which seemed like eternity, a bright blip appeared on the map of Berlin. Everyone let out a sigh of relief but they also knew that they had no control over what happens now.

January 1929, Berlin……

Ofir felt a mild headache and was thirsty. He opened his eyes and found himself sleeping in bed in what lookied like a bedroom in a small apartment. It was a cold wintry night. The room was dimly lit and the furniture looked like in the 1920s. His vision seemed blurred. He rubbed his eyes and looked around and found a pair of circular glasses beside the bed on a small table. He put them on and it seemed to help but the room was still dim so he fumbled around the room trying to locate the switch for the lights. Finally he located one besides the cabinet with a mirror. As he was switching on the light, in the cabinet he saw a military uniform with a ‘swastika’ sign on it. With the light turned on, he glanced in the mirror and found Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler staring back….!!!






The word ‘expectations’ like the meaning suggests is pregnant with expectations! All kinds of expectations, without limits, no boundaries, adjust themselves according to the context, are situational and are potentially infinite. It is like the universe, ever expanding, infinite and unbounded. Expectations are all pervading and no one can escape from them. Everyone has all kinds of expectations from life, from their partners, friends, job, society and ultimately life. It is one of the most basic instincts in all living things even animals and insects. Just look at a spider waiting in its web expecting a prey to pass by and get trapped. Look at the crocodile waiting in water, with just eyes out, expecting a calf or a deer to stop by for a gulp. It is amazing how it is built into our psyche, we don’t need to be trained or instilled with it.

Expectations start right from infancy and keep growing as we grow and later assume unexpected proportions so much so that they start driving our life. The nature of expectations too changes as we grow. During childhood, they are innocent limited and most flexible. The child of a beggar on the streets is happy with an odd snack or a broken toy. However, a kid from a well to do family expects a pizza or a burger for a snack and a remote controlled toy or a tab to play with. Here the situation has shaped the expectations. However, expectations have an uncanny ability of growing exponentially. As we grow, the expectations start growing like water hyacinth, slowly but surely until the entire lake or pond is covered. Just picture this, in school, we expect our parents to buy us a better school bag, better compass box, better stationery, better tiffin box, better story book etc. In college we expect better clothes, better accessories, better shades, better bike, better girlfriend etc. Further in life, when we start earning, we start expecting a better job, better pay, better car, and better house and now we find ourselves completely trapped in our own and others’ expectations! That’s right; now others also start expecting from us, our boss, our spouse, our children, our colleagues and even our friends. Day in and day out, we are under the spell of expectations. Our boss expects us to perform better at workplace, put in more hours, more effort and more innovation. Even the team that rolls up to you starts expecting you to fulfill their expectations!

After a hard day’s work, when you come home to relax, you face the brunt of your spouse’s and children’s expectations. Just when we expect the expectations to reduce, they bounce back with even greater force and on a larger scale. However, they are not always bad. If they are nurtured and handled properly, can have a positive influence on the situation. God forbid, but if you find yourself in a bad situation, expecting the situation to improve can help in cultivating a positive outlook in that situation. It is kind of a double edged sword, you have to do a tightrope walk if you want to come out unscathed. If you drill down a bit, expectations are results of attachment. Our attachment to things, our near and dear ones, places and situations triggers expectation. Humans by nature are selfish and they expect a reciprocal gesture for every deed, feeling and action. Being part of the society, we are all caught in the web of expectations, all the time. Even God has not been spared of our expectations. Don’t we always expect good health, wealth and life from him irrespective of our deeds? This becomes the cause of our misery. Now we cannot get rid of all the expectations but can certainly keep them minimum and in proper perspective. Not expecting at all or expecting the unexpected seems to be the mantra here. I can’t help but quote Alexander Pope:

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”