Friday, September 21, 2012

Peace & War


Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to Heaven’s perfect peace.


It used to be said that Nature abhors a vacuum. Nature also abhors least Human Nature.

All the great epics are about wars, so much so that 'epic' has turned out to be a strong journalese epithet for 'battles' our Didi fought recently...Paradise Regained in Bengal...

The Trojan War was for restoring Helen. The Raam-Raavan War was for retrieving Sita. The Mahabharat War was for revenging Draupadi...It is just a coincidence that they are all women.

The two World Wars were about Marketplaces in sunshine. But Hitler and Stalin took advantage of the War Cover to summarily eliminate millions of their own citizens they didn't like.

All religions talk of Peace, but more people are killed in the name of religion than epidemics...not much difference there in principle.

The burden of Shaw's Man and Superman is that Heaven is a boring place. And Mark Twain's Huck, though a mere kid, thought so too:

"Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me.  But she
wouldn't.  She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I must
try to not do it any more.  That is just the way with some people.  They
get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it.  Here she was
a-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to anybody,
being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a
thing that had some good in it.  And she took snuff, too; of course that
was all right, because she done it herself...

...Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good
place.  She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all
day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever.  So I didn't think much
of it. But I never said so.  I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would
go there, and she said not by a considerable sight.  I was glad about
that, because I wanted him and me to be together."
Once I visited an Ashram near Nellore to please my mom and donated a whopping  Rs 
1000 in her name. And also to show the place to my wife and son. And the Ashram was  
so pleased with us that they gave us a special audience with the Head Monk there. And 
he held us spellbound for an hour and more about how peaceful was Raam Rajya. If I  
recall right, it went on and on for a thousand and more years (I mean the Raam Rajya). 
Seasons arrived in perfect order. There was 24-hour water and power supply. There was 
no need of hospitals and doctors since no one fell ill. There were no locksmiths since  
there was no demand for locks...thieves were unknown...also Health Insurers. There 
were no elections...phew!
By and large it was like the US except for minor deviations...there was no Internet...and 
that little thing about doctors and thieves ;-)
It was like the Garden of Eden of which Eve got so bored...and took steps...and got Adam
expelled for cheating and copying. 
Like Huck I felt happy that I am not living in Raam Rajya; although our Raam Bhakts 
were promising to bring it back if they were elected; for which aim they took pickaxes 
and hammers and did some deconstruction.
When I started as a bachelor living in IIT KGP, it was Heaven. Peace (both academic and 
admin) reigned supreme. Pretty soon, politicians got bored with it and started gheraos,
dharnas and bandhs. And IIT KGP was often shut down for a day or two (for bandhs and 
anti-bandhs). And I got restless. Because it was so boring without classes to teach and 
students to bore. 
Feynman expressed it neatly: 
"So I find that teaching and the students keep life going, and I would never accept any 
position in which somebody has invented a happy situation for me where I don't have 
to teach. Never."

And then I married a Lady Doctor with lots of apprehension that she would get
bored and run away. There were the free BCR Hospital for IITians, the BNR Hospital for Railway Employees and the free Hijli Hospital for the rest.  And there were miracle-men like Homeopaths, Kabirajis, Unanis and such. So there was no scope for my wife to doctor around much...And I was a chain-smoker.

But within weeks she got to love the peaceful KGP Campus. And never asked me to quit smoking either for its stink or its health risks. She was a most peaceable woman, never retorting to any of my taunts.

But, the day the maid came late and did sloppy dish-washing, brooming, mopping, clothe-washing...there would be WAR and I had to sneak out like a thief.

And that bit of "Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones for away" is a hoax. That's why it has a question tag at the end in the epigraphic hymn above. It is ok for a day or two but not for weeks on end at a place like IIT KGP, otherwise the Heaven. 

Even the most hi-fi Mathematicians doing integrations all the time (closing Ishani booklets) need loved ones once in a while. It is boring to do multiple-integrals in blissful silence. Once I asked my good friend NP who was traveling to Cal to please look up a Princeton-friend of Kapeel on leave at Cal and deliver an IIT Tie meant for Kapeel as a poor return gift for his Princeton Warm Jacket.

And that evening NP walked to the Park Street residence of the String Theory guy and knocked at the door from which the loudest possible Heavy Metal Band noise was streaming out. And my friend thought that the good boy loved his music so much that he was relaxing while on leave at his mom's place. And when the door opened, there was this chap in thick specs and Bermudas immersed in doing integrations with half-a-dozen or more snaky signs before the integrand: "SSSSSS tanphi cothifi....dp dq dt dx dy dz...".

Listen to how much Feynman enjoyed working with his kid-daughter horsing around him: 

"RICHARD: [Humming softly to himself]  Jee-jee-jee-ju-ju. [He is working. Dishes are being cleared from the breakfast table. A tape recorder makes a faint whirr as it eavesdrops: a friend has taken to leaving it running in hopes of capturing stories about Feynman's past.] Jee-jee-jee-ju-ju. [Stops abruptly.]  There's some fool has made a mistake here. Some damn fool has made a mistake here.

MICHELLE: Prob'ly you.

RICHARD: Me? What do you mean, me? [Pause.] Some idiot has made an error. [Sings] I have an idiot here who made an error. 

MICHELLE: Yeah - you!

RICHARD: Michelle, dear, be careful what you say. After all your father is a nice fellow and he doesn't want that kind of trouble. [Pause.] He's made a mist-too-ko. You know mistookos happen. You know. You don't want your daddy to be a bad boy. [Drums a sharp tattoo with his fingers.] That is of course wrong! As any fool can see."

...From Genius

Ask Mrs DB if I am kidding...DB's Guide SDM discovered that DB was a bachelor and so wasn't progressing fast enough for SDM. And so SDM told him one day to get married at the earliest...which DB did and never looked back...various Master Analytic Functions were flowing out of his pen like champagne.

So, what are you guys waiting for?

As for Peace in animal kingdom, listen to what Jerome K Jerome saw with his own eyes:

"I remember being in the lobby of the Haymarket Stores one day, and all round about me were dogs, waiting for the return of their owners, who were shopping inside. There were a mastiff, and one or two collies, and a St. Bernard, a few retrievers and Newfoundlands, a boar-hound, a French poodle, with plenty of hair round its head, but mangy about the middle; a bull-dog, a few Lowther Arcade sort of animals, about the size of rats, and a couple of Yorkshire tykes. There they sat, patient, good, and thoughtful. A solemn peacefulness seemed to reign in that lobby. An air of calmness and resignation—of gentle sadness pervaded the room. 

Then a sweet young lady entered, leading a meek-looking little fox-terrier, and left him, chained up there, between the bull-dog and the poodle. He sat and looked about him for a minute. Then he cast up his eyes to the ceiling, and seemed, judging from his expression, to be thinking of his mother. Then he yawned. Then he looked round at the other dogs, all silent, grave, and dignified. He looked at the bull-dog, sleeping dreamlessly on his right. He looked at the poodle, erect and haughty, on his left. 

Then, without a word of warning, without the shadow of a provocation, he bit that poodle’s near fore-leg, and a yelp of agony rang through the quiet shades of that lobby. The result of his first experiment seemed highly satisfactory to him, and he determined to go on and make things lively all round. He sprang over the poodle and vigorously attacked a collie, and the collie woke up, and immediately commenced a fierce and noisy contest with the poodle. Then Foxey came back to his own place, and caught the bull-dog by the ear, and tried to throw him away; and the bull-dog, a curiously impartial animal, went for everything he could reach, including the hall-porter, which gave that dear little terrier the opportunity to enjoy an uninterrupted fight of his own with an equally willing Yorkshire tyke. 

Anyone who knows canine nature need hardly be told that, by this time, all the other dogs in the place were fighting as if their hearths and homes depended on the fray. The big dogs fought each other indiscriminately; and the little dogs fought among themselves, and filled up their spare time by biting the legs of the big dogs. The whole lobby was a perfect pandemonium, and the din was terrific. 

A crowd assembled outside in the Haymarket, and asked if it was a vestry meeting; or, if not, who was being murdered, and why? Men came with poles and ropes, and tried to separate the dogs, and the police were sent for. And in the midst of the riot that sweet young lady returned, and snatched up that sweet little dog of hers (he had laid the tyke up for a month, and had on the expression, now, of a new-born lamb) into her arms, and kissed him, and asked him if he was killed, and what those great nasty brutes of dogs had been doing to him; and he nestled up against her, and gazed up into her face with a look that seemed to say: “Oh, I’m so glad you’ve come to take me away from this disgraceful scene!” 

She said that the people at the Stores had no right to allow great savage things like those other dogs to be put with respectable people’s dogs, and that she had a great mind to summon somebody. Such is the nature of fox-terriers; and, therefore, I do not blame Montmorency for his tendency to row with cats; but he wished he had not given way to it that morning."




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