Word of the Week #158:

Epicurean

Can food change the world?

Well, food can change a life. And if you change enough lives, you change the world, right?

Actually, if you think about it, it has already happened.

Back in the 15th century, the Ottomans captured Constantinople and raised the taxes on spices. This was the reason why the Portuguese rulers, and eventually others, began searching for alternate routes to India, and ended up discovering North and South America, Australia and several other islands.

So it can be said that the entire identity of the modern world is based on Europe’s pursuit of better food.

And ingredients like tomatoes, which now form the backbone of Italian and Spanish cuisines, did not originate in Europe. They were brought to Europe by the early South American settlers.

And today, can we even imagine pizza without tomato?

The food recreates the world, and the world recreates the food… It is a beautiful circle…

You know what else is a beautiful circle?

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Word of the Week #157:

Discourse

I like politics.

I suppose that might seem strange to some people, but yeah, I do enjoy it.

It is the most entertaining spectator sport on this planet, some might say. And it is definitely the most consequential one.

But as with most sports, there is a right way to play. Unfortunately, most participants do not seem to appreciate that.

You can win by focusing on your own strengths, right?

Talk about tax reform. Talk about better public education. Talk about better public transportation. Talk about clean, cheap and reliable energy. And, occasionally, back up your talk with some actual performance.

When you have true game, you do not need to rely on thumping your chest, talking trash about your opponents and stretching the rules to their limits and hoping the referees do not notice. Those skills may be a part of a champion’s wide repertoire, but are not a winning strategy.

Just play hard and play fair. If you are good, there is no reason why you cannot win.

After all, what is the point of playing dirty and winning, when half the audience is only going to hate you and everything you represent for the next 4-5 years.

Word of the Week #156:

Vicissitude

Change.

Everybody wants it, and yet, nobody seems to want it.

Do you want better public transport? Sure!
Do you want a new Metro Station right outside your door? Absolutely!
However… Do you want a construction site right outside your door for the next year and a half, bringing with it the traffic, noise and dirt that invariably accompany it?

Nobody wants it.

But that is the thing about change. It is not a result, it is a process.

If you cannot commit to the process, you do not deserve the result.

Change.

Word of the Week #155:

Esse

Last week, we tried to answer an important question that people tend to ask us: Why do we write?

But there is another question, one that is arguably far more important, that comes to mind that one must try to answer.

Why do we live?

In a way, I am glad it does not come to my mind too often, for there is no simple answer I can offer.

Should life be more than the mechanical execution of our mundane routines, the fulfilment of our fundamental needs? Should life be more than just a checklist that we have to complete before we run out of time?

Should life have some sort of meaning or purpose? Should we need a reason to get off the bed every morning besides our bladders?

What about us artistic types who live in our own world and are unencumbered, at least relatively, by the mundane? Do we live to write? Or do we write to live? Are the two mutually exclusive?

Well, the later is absolutely true for me, and I believe Stephen King would agree.

“Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

Stephen King

So, why do we live?

Does our life, our existence, make a significant impact on the grand scheme of things to warrant the effort we have to exert on a daily basis?

Directly, probably not.

The simple truth is that too few of us will achieve greatness in our lifetimes. And even if we do, that too is fleeting.

Every year, over 60 players join the NBA; so far, only 111 players have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. 111 players in almost 70 years… And I would be surprised if you can name 5 of those players who were inducted before your parents were born. Hell, I would be surprised if you could name one.

Too few. Too fleeting.

Not every scientist will be the next Newton. Not every writer will be the next Shakespeare. And I highly doubt that too many carpenters can claim to be the next Jesus.

But you can definitely earn a footnote in someone else’s discovery that changes life on this planet, and possibly beyond. You can always hope your stories inspire one child to see the world in a different light. And you can absolutely provide someone the comfort of a cosy armchair after a long, hard day.

If you think about it, we are the grand scheme of things, and it is a cumulation of every single thought, word and action of every single being that creates the world as we know it.

Life must, therefore, contain within itself the potential to change everything in the entire universe. And possibly beyond…

But that is the answer to a different question altogether.

The question remains, why do we live?

My answer is actually quite simple. ‘Cause it is all we know.

Word of the Week #119:

Deluge

When it rains, it pours.

We have all heard this, right?

Well, throughout the course of my life, I have always found it to be true, but rarely have I experienced it quite as literally as in the past week.

Last Saturday, we saw 265mm of rainfall in a span of 8 hours. In contrast, the average rainfall for the entire month of July is 317mm.

And according to meteorological experts, the worst is yet to come.

Sounds like a good time to jump off SS Sinking Ship, if you ask me…

The odd thing is that we have now come to expect and accept what are clearly major anomalies in the weather. Getting the entire month’s rainfall over a single weekend cannot be normal.

Just imagine it: Can you eat a month’s worth of food, and then not eat for the rest of the month?

Okay, “a month’s worth” is not very specific, I suppose.

Consider it this way… An average adult consumes roughly 2500 calories a day. That is 10 slices of a supreme pizza from Pizza Hut. So, roughly 300 slices a month. Now, does each pizza have 6 slices or 8? Let’s assume the latter. So, 37.5 pizzas.

Now, imagine trying to eat 37.5 pizza in two days. Will you eat yourself into the hospital or into bankruptcy, that is the question.

Wait… I forgot the point I wanted to make… And now I want pizza.

The point is, never try to get work done when you’re starving.

And maybe stock up on food and water and drinks and batteries, and get ready to stay indoors for a fair part of the week.

And for the love of God, turn off those ACs that are permanently cranked up to 22°C. You are only making it worse.

A storm is coming. And, by all accounts, it is only going to get worse.

Book of the Week #32: [Guest Post]

Yashas:

She is back, Ladies and Gentlemen, and quite frankly, we could not be more glad!

And this week, she picks out a book that falls directly into her own backyard.

She says she hadn’t written this post with my blog in her mind; she just wanted to share her love for the book with the entire world, and isn’t that the very purpose of our blog?

Needless to say, I managed to badger her into sharing her words here. Such avaricious, you know.

For the uninitiated, might I elaborate just a little on the significance of the phrase “Pale Blue Dot”. It is actually a reference to the photograph of the Earth taken on 14th February, 1990, by Voyager 1 from a distance of roughly 6 billion kilometres.

pale_blue_dot
Pale Blue Dot

Really puts things in perspective, does it not?

So, here we go…


Shruti:

Pale Blue Dot,

by Carl Sagan

Literally the best book I have ever read!

You might think I am enlisting the book in that category because I am an Astrophysics student. I won’t deny that I might be ‘biased’ that way, but in all honesty, I feel that this is one book that every person should give a read.

Having watched and thoroughly enjoyed the Cosmos series by Carl Sagan, I couldn’t wait to read his books; although, I did wait. I watched that series more than three years ago! Insightful, inspiring and refreshing.

Was the Pale Blue Dot just what I had expected? No, it was much more.

This is one of the richest books I have read, in terms of content, style and language. Sagan has the ability to capture the imagination of even those people who are least interested in space science. His words are arresting, his style intelligent; what else could you expect from a world-renowned astrophysicist and science communicator?

Continue reading Book of the Week #32: [Guest Post]