Thursday, October 25, 2007

Buttermax Light, All-in-All Azhaguraja

Having a Ph.D in Tom and Jerry, knowing who Ray Patterson and Scott Bradley is etc makes me an expert on the Fred Quimby series (Death to Chuck Jones). A lot of people claim they are Tom & Jerry experts, but only a very few pass muster. Because they don't have the following claim. Many years before, I was talking among a group of friends and the subject of Tom and Jerry came up. I told them in my quintessential 'expert tone' that Jerry was as culpable, if not more, as Tom in triggering chases and fights that ended with Tom getting clobbered. Only a true Tom and Jerry expert would know that Jerry is in fact subtly very evil. Only a true expert would realize that Tom getting hammered by, for example, an ironing machine - as visually stunning as it is, is just incidental. The whole set up leading to the chase, the reason for the chase is what makes Tom and Jerry - Tom and Jerry. We know Tom is going to get clobbered. We are interested in the context of the clobber, not the clobber itself. When I told Jerry was evil to this group of friends, this annoying girl who was a psuedo Tom and Jerry fan made fake noises about being an expert. She disagreed. Bah! The idiot. But a great man lived who taught me to shut the trap of such women. I have to present to my dear viewers the video proving the genius of such a man. But you all are not good enough to 'get it' instantly. You need some introduction.

Now there can be no greater Tom & Jerry expert than the person who advised Fred Quimby on the finer aspects on animation design. He is none other than the ex-Chief Creative Consultant of Metro Goldwyn Meyer -- India's greatest philosopher - Goundamani. The author of this blog, his country, and the people of his country, owe a great deal of gratitude to the great Goundan. No matter how much I write in praise of Goundamani's works, it will not suffice or do justice to the great philosopher. We are forever in servitude to the Goundan for making us understand life, religion and the way things work. Tom & Jerry's conceptualization and execution was his master plan. We, lowly humans, may think it is a big deal. However, to Him, it is just a rain drop from the clouds of his genius. Goundamani always executed Kung Fu chops on his alien friend Senthil. We know that. Lesser people make an incorrect conclusion that Senthil is in fact an mathematically error free individual and has no Gaussian noise. Senthil, like Jerry is subtly evil. Furthermore, it is not the Kung Fu Chop that people are interested in, which is really incidental and almost irrelevant, but they are interested in the context. On the 'Why does he do it'. Plus you have to add the philosophical undertones that the great Goundan brings in to all his literature papers.

In his seminal work 'Vaidehi was Waiting' (He won his 8th Pulitzer for this in 1984 and also was nominated for Nobel Literature) presented as video below - He explains, so casually, the origin of light. Light is not a simple phenomena. The difference between light source and light particles is where Sankaracharya and Ramanuja differed from Viseshya and Viseshana - bheda and abhedha -the brahman and the antaryami - the chit and achit - nirguna and sarguna brahman. But to the genius and brilliance of Goundamani it all is a simple, efficient and precise. Look at the way he explains the 'cup', the 'mandille' and light in a simple statement. Thereby reconciling not only the differences between two ancient philosophers but also in a swift motion use Sendhil to disprove Jerry. Sendhil's time immemorial dialog, which should be followed by every true disciple of science, "ithula eppadi annen eriyum. ponga annen" quickly establishes Goundan's patent over the fundametal philosophy of not just Sankara and Ramanuja but of the genius behind Tom & Jerry.

P.S: "Machanna Paaradi Machamulla aaladi" is in Bhairavi Raaga
P.S2: "All-in-All-Azhaguraja" is a patented term.
P.S3: "Pathu ruba kedaikkum" inspired Alan Greenspan's PhD economic thesis
P.S4: Even today 132 countries have a constitutional law which states that women with 'koodai' (baskets) should not be supplied buttermax light.
P.S5: It is 'buttermax light' because Goundan says so.

So without further delay, here is genius in a nutshell;

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Abandoned Mother

She lay there in the hospital bed staring blankly at the open door. Her 85-year old hands and legs are tied tightly to the bed. She probably does not know that the binds are there to prevent her from walking away. She is alone and feels lonely. The bedsore on her buttocks indicates the length of her stay there. She is senile, her doctors called it Alzheimer, and if the nurses had joked about her appearance and the inability of her dress to cover her fully, she wouldn't know. If she knew, she would have complained about the poor customer service to her son and daughter-in-law. But would she remember that long enough? Would she know that the 15,000/month hospital charges is more than her son's pension? Right on cue, her son and daughter-in-law walk in.

Her daughter-in-law asks, 'ma! Do you know who has come to meet you? do you remember me?'. She looks into the younger lady's eyes and face. It seemed like this lady would've been a beautiful young bride once upon a time. But she does not remember the lady. She does not remember all the years she tortured that lady. She does not remember the cruel treatment she met out to her in public, the amount of times she asked for money from that lady's parents, the length of time she prevented that lady from visiting her parents. She does not remember the recipient of her harsh words, the subject of her rants to neighbors, friends and relatives. She does not remember becoming senile. Cannot recollect excreting and urinating in her living room. Does not remember the lady who cleaned her stools and the lady who handled complaints about her senile and abnormal behavior from friends, neighbors and relatives. The lady in front of her was beautiful once. Now she is greying, wrinkled, sad and standing in front of her. She gives her a blank stare and says,

"no. I don't remember you"

That lady seems shocked to hear this. Now, its her son's turn to ask "do you at least remember me, ma?". A mother's memory is funny and very different from a mother-in-law's memory. She quickly says his name. In a short snapping tone full of contempt. But she does not remember why she is upset with him. Maybe it is something to do with her son's wife, that lady standing next to him, who still seems to be in shock. Shocked by her inability to recollect? But why? The binds are tight, painful and irritating. She suddenly does not care about the younger lady's shock. She does not know that if she weren't senile, her answer to that lady's question, as it had been many times in the past, would have exactly been the same. But now, she does not really remember the lady. Her son asks "do you remember some slokams ma". She stares at him. "Chant Sri Sthuthi ma, you do it everyday.". For the next 10 minutes, she chants the sloka without missing a word, pronouncing Sanskrit, a language she does not speak, to perfection. She occasionally glances at the lady whom she does not remember, while chanting a sloka, she does remember. She forgets, for a brief while, her condition, the hosiptal, her binds and her anger. She is not repeating from memory, she is reliving some memory. Did someone love her many years before, did she love anyone ever? Who cares about the past love of an 85 year old? After saying the last askhara of the sloka, she falls silent. Does not speak further. The couple leave a few minutes later. They seem sad.

A nurse, who walks in after a while says, " Children these days, they abandon their own mother after she becomes sick. Is there a god greater than a mother?". She nods and is, for some reason, happy to hear that.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Men's Locker Room

It is really a parallel dimension world. Imagine this. Men get up, brush, shave, go to office, work, attend meetings, attend parties, go to place of worship, play sports, go to baseball games, jog on the treadmill, do push ups. Men do all these activities. You know what the key thing is, when men do those activities.

They have clothes on.

As inconceivable as it sounds, men prefer to have clothes on when they are around other men. They feel odd when they are nude in front of other men. Imagine an all-men party over a football game. Would it be odd if they were completely naked during that party? They don't do any of the gay stuff ("not that there is anything wrong with it") but just hang around the house. Naked. Yes! It would be very odd. It would be odd if men roam around naked during a baby shower, baseball game, corporate meetings, gym, an all boys school, gay convention, sex-education-for-men classroom, cooking class, and even in a bachelors party.

But the locker room is in a parallel dimension.

Men, somehow, due to some freak of nature are totally comfortable walking around completely naked in front of other men - in a locker room. They are totally nude. Not even a thin piece of fabric is on them. No. Nada. Nil. Zilch. You should see my gym. Its a five star gym. Every treadmill has its own towel and cleaning liquid. There are thousands of machines for every variety. Large screen TV that transmit audio on FM. Its the best freakin gym I've ever seen. The locker room in the gym/club is really huge. Its like a small village by itself. With sofas, TV lounge rooms, restrooms, long stretch chairs (like those on the beach).

And people inside the locker room are completely naked.

They walk around - naked. Pause and watch TV - naked. When they have to wait for something they lounge in the chair - naked. Its one big naked party. The funny part is they act is if everything is normal. Here I am, putting some stuff in my locker. I am a fruit. I am probably carefully storing a wallet with saami photo, temple kumkum and Anjaneya dollar. Silly me. I am gaampleeatly dressed. Nasty me. I am making doubly sure that I always wear a towel. Rummaging around extracting my iPod. And naked people come and stand near me. Naked people dry themselves using the towel. Naked people open locker. Take comb and comb. Naked people use hair dryer. Naked people don't quickly dress up. They just pick the towel, talk, nod, say 'hi', and walk towards the rest room. There is a long pathway with some brochures, posters, weight machines. So I stop to check my weight. Naked people walk by. Its a long pathway. And they don't care. They just walk by. Slowly. Read brochures. Stare at the posters.

I am live inside the 'Beautiful People' movie.

And these are the same people who question cults with weird habits? My question is - if the same set of people meet outside the locker room - Say in an office, party or stadium - they wouldn't be caught dead seeing each other naked. However. I say however not so lightly my dear friend. However, if they cross that magic boundary line of the locker room, everything changes. Everything. In this parallel world. It is okay for men to see each other naked. They can drink water naked, they can check weight naked, comb naked, read goes on.

My mind is just so damaged right now with all the wrong images. Its not practical to close the eyes and walk inside. What if you bump into something? Or worse trip. I am gonna have to spend a lot of time in a good porn site and try and erase all those images out of my mind.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pregnant Women Vs Mr. Johnson getting a tan

Formerly pregnant women, who are now mothers, have this convenient way of gaining the upper hand over men. They are incredibly proud to possess the ability to deliver a baby. The words "you have no idea what it is like to bear and deliver a baby" has no comeuppance. Most of the billion women, who are mothers, play this card without fail. Once that card is played, you have no choice but to groan and pay up. Men have to constantly battle over the mental dominance that women have over them because of their monopoly in the delivering-babies industry. I am pretty sure if biology was a customizable subject, men would clearly be able to pop out babies just as well as the next woman. Unless women came up with a stealthy way of calling such a man, a woman.

If life was a game of poker and if a pregnant woman is like a Full House (how appropriate) then having to

a) Scratch the twins, now and then, should be Four of a Kind

b) Aim and piss, standing up should be a Straight Flush.

c) Walk around and deal with the terribly over-anxious and excitable Mr. Johnson during teenage years; with his over-exposure to sunlight and his constant sniping of "A pair of hands. That's the best you could do" - should be considered a Royal Flush.

These three should be the ultimate repartee that any gender can give to the other. Then the woman will have to just groan and pay up.

Ha! Poker is Pun!

P.S: Poker Rules

Monday, October 15, 2007

Epitaph of a Prostitute

"At last, a place where she sleeps peacefully"

Parthiban, one of those rare actors to exude on-your-face-bluntness, indifference, humor and depth at the same time, says this in Madan's Thirai Parvai about wordings on the tomb of a prostitute.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kamal's Dasavatharam & The story of 'Chella Pillai' Sampath Kumar from Melkote ?

The Mughals, long before they plundered and raped Srirangam in the 15th century - plundered and raped some other part of South India. It happened around the turn of the 11th century. Saint Ramanuja, one of the earliest preceptors of the Vishishta-Dvaitha philosophy, had to leave Sri Rangam (circa. 1097) under duress. A combination of circumstances made a Chozha King (nick named 'kirumi-kanda' Chozhan), drive out Ramanuja from the temple, until his son succeeded him and made amends. So as per the story Ramanuja travelled via Thondanur to a place called ThiruNarayanaPuram (now called 'Melokote' in Karnataka). There is a fascinating story during his travel, but let me get into that later. So, during his stay in ThirunarayanaPuram, he found out that the temple there had been destroyed during the Mughal invasion and the presiding idol thrown away. On temples and idols, let us briefly get into Temple Terms 101. Moola Vigraha, is the term for the main deity of a temple. It is also called Moolavar. Utsavar, is the miniature idol used for processions. While the people who could visit the temple prayed to the Moolavar. Old, sick and immobile people had to contend themselves with the Utsavar. The Utsavar is usually a small idol about 10 - 15 inches in length. You can hold it in your hand. It is usually made of gold or at least looks gold'ish in color. I hope this description benefits you, dear readers, as you near the end of this post.

Ramanuja had a standard operating procedure. He was really 'rules' Ramanujan, in the sense, he standardized temple sloka/puja processes and worship rituals in most temples he visited (For example Thirupathi follows his processes). Everywhere he went, he also, relevantly to the story I'm about to narrate, allowed low-caste people and women to enter temples. Melkote did not have a Moolavar, Utsavar and a temple. So he fought against the local chieftains, monks and sundry upper-castes to use the help of "low-caste" people to search for the missing Moolavar and Utsavar. The people helped him dig out the Moolavar from some hole (under Thulasi shrubs) in the ground that the Mughals had thrown it into. The Utsavar however proved far more elusive and that caused Ramanuja sleepless nights. Later, Ramanuja, now over 80 years old, learned that the mughals had in fact taken the Utsavar back with them to Delhi. So the old man walked to Delhi in search of the Utsavar. Upon begging to the Sultan to hand him back the Utsavar, the Sultan relented. The Sultan, who had apparently plundered several temples, could not isolate the Melkote idol, and so showed Ramanuja a huge set of idols that were brought back after the conquests. Ramanuja did not find the idol among that set. Then it was revealed to Ramanuja by the palace folks that the princess "Lachimar" had an play doll idol she loved very much. Voila! what do you know? That was the idol that Ramanuja was looking for. Legend has it that, when the princess refused to part with her doll, Ramanuja waged a bet with her. A contest where - if he called out to the idol and if the idol walked towards him, he would take the idol away with him. So he called out "Varai Chella Pillai" (meaning come loved son or come pampered son) "Sampath Kumara" (the name of the Utsavar). Some version of this story has the adverb as "Selva Pillai". The idol, it is said, walked towards him. Ramanuja took leave of the Sultan and rushed back to Melkote, anticipating that the princess may trigger a pursuit imminently.

His instinct was correct. The princess had fallen in love with the idol so much that she convinced the sultan to pursue Ramanuja. A hot pursuit followed. An army was hunting and chasing an old man. However, the proverb 'dharmam thalai kaakum' (dharma will protect your head) served one other purpose apart from being a title of an excellent MGR movie. Due to Ramanuja's positive reputation with the 'untouchables', the tribals protected him and escorted him safely back to Melkote. But the story does not end here. The princess, who was madly in love with Chellapillai pursued the idol to Melkote. Her lover followed her and acted as her body guard during her journey. Ramanuja, by that time, had installed the Utsavar in Melkote. So when the tired and almost unrecognizable, princess reached there, she could only beg Ramanuja to let her near Chella Pillai. He consented and she spent the rest of her short life near the idol. A clever legend of 'Thuluka Naachiyar' arose as a result of her story, in the hope to use this as a 'you and me are actually bhai-bhai' story to ward off invading Mughals. This legend worked to an extent and probably saved Srirangam from getting completely destroyed by the vile rapist Mallik Kafur. The procedures and rituals instituted by Ramanuja are followed even today in Melkote. Every year there is a procession of Sampath Kumaran during Brahmotsavam and guess what? 'untouchables' have always been allowed there. I visited ThiruNarayanaPuram a few years ago. A place, apart from the temple, that is extremely popular for Sarkarai Pongal (sweet pongal) and thiruman katti. However, the pertinent point for this blog post is that - I vividly remember the image of 'ChellaPillai'. And I can recognize an idol that has some similarity to it. And that brings us to something interesting.

So Kamal Hasan released a new set of photos for his upcoming movie Dasavatharam. Photos which to a Chella Pillai symbologist, as I'd like to call myself now, suggests a rather obvious connection.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore

Simpsons on outsourcing to India. There is a reason why Simpsons is simply one of the best shows of all time. Brilliant.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pokkiri - Dole Dole: Telugu Vs Thamizh

Note: Omitted content added. Errors corrected.
So, this summer when I went to India, I dialled my uncle's cell number. Instead of a familiar dialing/ringing tone, I heard carnatic music. MBK at that. So, I learned that people can not only set ring tones for the benefit of the callee and people near the callee's phone, but they can also set a ring tone that the caller can hear. If the cell phone companies can somehow make the people around the caller listen to that ring tone, they would have made sure all the worlds involved in that call is covered. This dog, Babs/OzDude had set 'Dole Dole' as his incoming ring tone. I had never heard that song before and given the number of times I called him, the song wormed into my head. I ended up listening to the song 5000 time since then. One day I listened to this song for 5 hours continuously again and again. And then 10 more times in TV.

'Dole Dole' song is from a movie called Pokkiri. Music is by Mani Sharma. Pokkiri is soon to be made into Hindi. The Hindi version will be directed by Prabhu Deva with Salman in the lead. Pokkiri in Telugu, directed by Puri Jagannadh, was the original and first movie among the Pokkiri series. A bloody good movie at that ( I have the Telugu DVD lying at home). I was so impressed with the Telugu version. Pokkiri was remade in Thamizh with Prabhu Deva as director. Prabhu Deva made an incredibly stylistic movie with jazzy camera work. The Thamizh movie starred Vijay. But the overall flow, feel and impact of the Thamizh movie was considerably poorer than its Telugu counterpart. The Telugu movie was also stylishly made and technically good. Prabhu Deva might have assumed that it was the style + technique that made the Telugu version click, and unfortunately worked only on exceeding the Telugu movie in style, while falling way behind in substance. Both movies were huge hits but the Telugu one is a mega mega mega hit in the history of Telugu cinema. I frankly did not like the Tamizh movie.

One aspect where I dont agree that the Thamizh versions lags in - is the picturization of the excellent 'Dole Dole'. This is an excellent song, awesome in fact. This was picturized stylishly in Telugu and it had a very very handsome and stylish Mahesh Babu do a so-so dance with the absolutely gorgeous Illeana. The problem with the Telugu video was that it was too slow. Did not fit the rapid pace/tempo of the song. Prabhu Deva's subtle choreography techniques and editor Anthony's, now patented, frame transition technique makes the Thamizh version zippy and really cool. Vijay, though not even in the same ballpark as Mahesh Babu in terms of looks or style, is at least a much better dancer. Even though almost every step he does is a complete copy of an old MJ dance ( thanks to Prabhu Deva, Smooth Criminal stage version and MJs patented Ghost dance still lives), it is neatly done. There is little to choose between the beautiful Asin and the hot Illeana. It is strange to note that Telugu songs, nowdays, have hindi words embedded in them. I dont like it, but its becoming like a trend/norm now.

In any case, look how two different people, one a natural director and another a natural choreographer, interpret the same song. Makes you fall in love with movies.

The Telugu Version:

The Thamizh Version

Friday, October 05, 2007

Rule No.1

"You know sometimes I think there should be a rule of war saying you have to see someone up close and get to know 'em before it's ok to shoot 'em" - Colonel Sherman T. Potter

I recently read a news item, which reported that an army Major had died in an encounter with militants in Kashmir. Although I've been reading such news items for 2 decades and thought "yeah! so whats new?" and moved on to the sports column, something about this news registered in my mind. The Major was newly married, had a heavily pregnant wife when he died, and came from a family of Army people. I thought, 'what a classic reminder of the true stories from the Param Veer Chakra series'. He went out to save his friend and both died. Father, wife, un-born son, sister, friend, and the nation - every dimension of a person's relationship with the world is in picture. Isn't this as bad as it gets for everybody involved? Luckily, I chanced upon this rather heart-breaking post thanks to desipundit. This is a post by a cousin of the above-mentioned Army Major. Reading the post actually moved me incredibly. After reading the post, I clicked the links provided in the 'updates' column against my will and ended up feeling really sad. The Hindu, has a photo of the Major's sister, which if you see in the context of the post and the overall background is really heart-breaking. This news in rediff is equally moving.

It, instantly made me think of something very simple, yet profound statement that Hawkeye hears from his Commanding Officer in M*A*S*H;

"Look, all I know is what they taught me at command school. There are certain rules about a war and rule number one is young men die. And rule number two is doctors can't change rule number one." - Lt. Colonel Henry Blake

Obviously, I don't have the stature, intention and interest to make a maudlin post advising other people about the sacrifices people should be making for their country. The reason why I post this blog is nothing more than the "profound" - 'I have a blogger account, so I can and I want to'. The existential question here is; Why do I want to? I want to because I don't get this situation. Does anybody else get it? I struggle to comprehend, what I see as, the purity of the "patriotism" dimension here. This is the maximum any person can do to say "Hey! I am patriotic". This is why I am so conflicted? Are they really saying so? If they aren't then is that real patriotism? I feel an urge to treat this differently than the other cases of patriotism, I usually ignore. I don't attend Independence day parties (I don't shun them either but don't make it a point to go) or write blog posts on independence day. Mainly because I see the people who participate in this as fake. A fake who waves the flag while speeding in his car in Devon street on Aug 15, is no different from a fake who organizes an India Bhangra Independence day dance night. I think waving Indian flag in cricket matches as fake patriotism and writing blog posts for I-Day as fake. I just do. I don't think such people are fake in their enjoyment but fake in their expression of patriotism. Not just because it is futile, it is, or meaningless, which it is, or a waste of time, it definitely is, but it compares very badly to the purity I just described above. Yeah, not all can/want to/are able to lay down their lives for their country. But should that mean they should start doing all the other stuff? In short, should they do 'anything' to celeberate patriotism? Or are we settling for a low bar?

While I am clear about the fake'ness of the things I mentioned about, I am confused about incidents like the death of the Army Major. In that it is very pure. Sacred, almost. In that, I feel very sad for the person who died, his wife, his parents and his cousin. The cause that he died for; how am I or anybody in the country impacted by his death? Was his death futile? Did he die to keep anyone safe? If so - can anybody who wants to do something, anything after reading the news - but have no clue if/how to react to it - do something, anything? Is there a good way to say 'thank you' or repay the debt somehow? Writing a post in a silly blog definitely falls under 'anything'. But it is also as fake as anything I can think of. So anything is bad. If I get into a drivel about patriotism, which is the easiest thing to do here, then I would be no different from the various puke'able people who post on Discussion Lists, Rediff comments section and forums about how great a country India is.

Advocating peace is a low-hanging fruit that is so easy to pluck. However, I have always thought pro-war and anti-pacifism as common sense and this incident didn't change my mind. Humans will fight with each other no matter what, it is our nature, it will make us fight. We will fight in spite of ourselves. So war is fine. The contradiction of fighting to achieve peace is valid and justified. So lets cross-out boring patriotism lectures and pacifism. On the whole I feel any conversation on patriotism at the juncture by regular people is immature and does grave injustice to the Major and his family. I am at least not dumb enough to know that. While I can conclude that blogging, paying money for Kargil effort, talking at length about the greatness of India to the white man, saying 50,000 times 'mera bharath mahaan', waving flag in cricket matches, celebrating Independence day is all fake and distracts us from really doing something meaningful - I do not know what the meaningful thing is. I suspect that I will not find that meaningful answer during my life time.

There is a part about the Major's father saying (the newspaper quotes it) "I will advise my yet-to-be-born grandson that he should also join the Army". This is really quite a thing to say and I suspect a very profound thing to say. Requires tremendous maturity, understanding of life and poise. But help me understand a sense of proportion here because I don't want to understate or get carried away. How big is the sacrifice by the Major, his father, and his wife? Is the sacrifice made as part of a career choice? Kuppan's father made him an engineer, Suppan's father made him a car mechanic and the Major's father made him an Army Major? Who made the sacrifice? The parent? Or is it a sacrifice made by an authority higher up, who decided to send the Major to this encounter? Like Kuppan's manager sent him on an on site assignment to World Trade Center, Suppan's shop owner sent him to ride a brake'less car and the Major's commander sent him to an encounter. What is the motivation for sacrifice; survival, satisfaction, money? Did the Major believe in the geopolitical equations of nations and ideologies surrounding the causes and so went to war. Or was he a tool for a very responsible government who are spending people's lives as carefully as they spending people's money? Which brings us to another MASH quote, the one where Henry Blake is worried after having sent Hawkeye to the battle front line;

Frank: Are you worried about them?
Henry: I sent them, remember Frank? Their commanding officer? Back home my biggest decisions are whether or not have my own bowling ball made and do I get the cat fixed. Sending people to the front's just not my speed.

How about work satisfaction, visibility or financial benefits as a cause to make a sacrifice. I realize, that I can never make a comparison that cannot be contradicted and there are always exceptions, counters, anti-counters to anything I say. I also realize that this is a topic, which is hard to be sensible about. But I'll try to make a comparison among the thousands that are possible. Let me begin with the obvious. Army Majors get paid, what - 15000 a month ? For risking lives, working 24/7 and living in pathetic conditions, not seeing their family for unknown lengths of time. For what cause? For a cause that he/she is not sure about and a cause that most Gen X kids are cynical about. Tanjore Big Temple Gurukkal gets Rs. 1750 (plus Rs 1000 tips) every month for working all the time in a sweaty hole, getting yelled at by irate and impatient worshippers (who demand excellent QoS in exchange Rs 10 they are about to dish out), doing archaic rituals that only irritates people. For what cause? A cause that even he is not sure about and a cause almost everybody doubts. What is the motivation for the Gurukkal to sincerely do 'all' the steps in a 1000 step ritual, when nobody even understands what they do and will not notice if they skip a step. What is the motivation for an Army major to wipe out every militant, survey and scan every rock, hill and mound in unknown corners of Himalayas? When nobody even understands what they do and will not notice if they skip a step.

If both the Gurukkal and the Major encourage their children to again pursue the army/gurukkal career, then what am I missing here? Kuppan, the tachnology professional, does overtime for a weekend, does some work that appears in WSJ, and promptly files for extra pay/free dinner and comp off for doing extra time, for a cause that people believe improves the economy. Kuppan also encourages his child to not get slotted as an 'engineer' and encourages them to pursue something else. Should Kuppan feel guilty, really? Is there a scientific explanation for the career choices of Kuppan, Major, Suppan, and Gurukkal's parents? Is there a rationale which explains the reason why the individuals themselves think "car mechanic career is better than kovil gurukkal" or "I dont have the courage/ability to fight in the army, software is good I get more money?" I suspect I will never find an answer to this.

On the subject of science, it is ironic to see a man killed through a combination of science and religion. Killed because of religion and killed effectively and quickly because of science, with a puncture to his liver by a contraption that required a lot of scientific research to invent. I go back to another quote from MASH, a series which really researched and beat the topic 'war and death' to death. I am glad I saw MASH as much as I did (each episode around 30 times). It has answered my questions much better than many others. Hawkeye sums up the contributions of science working against that of doctors, a summing up that is not entirely irrelevant to Major's situation;

"Three hours ago, this man was in a battle. Two hours ago, we operated on him. He's got a 50-50 chance. We win some, we lose some. That's what it's all about. No promises. No guaranteed survival. No saints in surgical garb. Our willingness, our experience, our technique are not enough. Guns, and bombs, and anti-personnel mines have more power to take life than we have to preserve it. Not a very happy ending for a movie. But then, no war is a movie"