Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Fountainhead

Recently I wrote about the philosophy of Ayn Rand based on her novel The Fountainhead, as part of an assignment. The philosophical part of the assignment would be pretty difficult to digest but then the synopsis of the novel, I thought, would be worth sharing. So here you go! Please refrain from reading further if you are planning to read the novel in future. For those who have already read it take a trip down memory lane rekindling one of the masterpieces of modern literature.

-- Warning: spoiler ahead --

Howard Roark and Peter Keating are from the same architecture school. Keating graduated as the topper with contemptuous help from Roark while Roark was expelled from the school for refusing to adhere to the curriculum by changing his own ideas. After his studies, Keating joins Guy Francon’s privileged architecture firm while Roark works under the veteran architect Cameron, who was uprooted long back by Gail Wynand, the media tycoon. Keating has plans to marry Dominique Francon, daughter of Guy Francon who is also a columnist, and succeed him in his business. Roark has his own notions about buildings, that each building is a character by its own and hence new buildings shan’t be just a copy of its old counterparts, which unfortunately was done by architects of his age. Hence he doesn’t get many assignments. He isn’t able to pursue his architecture-ship further and eventually ends up working in a quarry for a living, where he meets Dominique Francon and both fall in love. Roark soon receives an invitation to do the design of a building at New York city and leaves the quarry.

Keating’s mother wants him to marry Dominique as he falls in love with a poor woman. Dominique makes Keating marry herself, in order to test Roark and she also tries to demerit Roark thinking that the world doesn’t deserve his creations; all due to the love she has for him. Ellsworth Toohey, the main anti-hero of the novel, with some hidden plans, invites Roark to design a temple. Roark places a nude statue of Dominique in the temple. Later Toohey talks to the public about the poor design of the building and sues Roark, basically to hinder his growth. Toohey also makes Gail Wynand meet Dominique which results in the marriage of Dominique and Wynand. Meanwhile Roark and Wynand become friends.

Roark designs a housing project owing to Keating’s request and later finds out that the initial design he made has been changed by Keating’s associates. As a result Roark blows off the building and Dominique gets hurt while helping him. Roark convinces the court why he blew off the building and talks about his philosophy which forms the essence of the novel and Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism. During the trial Wynand’s newspaper accuses Roark mainly due to Toohey’s presence in it as a columnist and Wynand takes its side. As a result Dominique leaves Wynand and marries Roark. Finally Wynand realizes his mistake, fires Toohey and gives Roark a new construction project where the story ends.

-- Spoiler end --

The Fountainhead is the best fictional work and also the best love story I have ever read. But somewhere I could empathize with Howard Roark as a character that I feel I am like him in many aspects.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

There you go!

Wishing you all a merry christmas and a happy new year! Have a great year ahead guys!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Clean bowled

India is on a commanding position against Sri Lanka in the cricket test here at Ahmedabad. Some of my friends went to watch the match yesterday and were thrilled to see India’s performance, while us here at campus, watched bits and pieces of the match from the TV, with sporadic outbursts of human emotions of joie de vivre whenever the ball crossed the boundary, emulating typical Indian populace. No other game is as popular and favorite as cricket in India.

Air Sahara is going to sponsor the Indian cricket team for the next four years further to a winning bid of Rs 314 crores. The deal is confined only to the display of their logo on the players’ chest and their leading arm. More money is going to come to BCCI (Bharat Cricket Control Board) from the display of logos on the non-leading arm, kit etc. of the players from prospective sponsors for which the tender will be opened on 23rd December. The TV rights of the matches are expected to fetch a sum of more than Rs. 400 crores. These figures added with other revenue streams are predicted to give an incredible profit of more than Rs. 700 crores to BCCI in the coming year.

On the other side, India has the highest cricket viewer ship in the world and hence is a paradise for TV advertisements. Ever thought about the number of advertisements being aired on a single channel for a single match and the associated amount flowing behind it? Though the math is simple, the figure is much more than what we can probably imagine of. Then there is an awfully big bookmaking market where bet amounts are in crores. Cricket is not just a game in India; it’s a business too. In such a situation it is worthwhile to ask ourselves a question. Are we giving more importance than is required to a silly game?

Monday, December 19, 2005

There it is!

In the sixth and final term, supposedly the most chillax term of all, I bid for the bare minimum number of courses needed to satisfy my credit requirements, which turned out to be a soothing Four in number! No tough courses; courses thoroughly planned and selected after by-hearting the time table (:p) so that there are no classes for me on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays giving me an off of four days every week for the next two months. But when I went to the case unit to collect my study materials, what awaited me was an awful collection of 18 books and 6 case mats! 15 of the books belonging to a course I have taken called LVMR (Leadership: Vision, Meaning and Reality). The interesting thing about these books is that they are not the usual ones containing theories and jargons of management but are stories, novels, philosophical and similar interesting stuffs. Above all I hope it will take me back to my reading habits which was long lost when I started my post graduation. And that is when I realized that I haven’t read more than 5 normal books in the last two years! (:-()

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Can I believe my eyes?

The world around me is beautiful. When I look around I see lush green meadows, clear blue sky, an assortment of flora and fauna, garish setting sun, azure depths of the ocean and I end up thanking my eyes for letting me see and enjoy this spectacular world around me, in all its glory. Eyes, in deed are a wonderful pair of sense organs. And I can’t do anything but end up philosophizing them.

Eyes, how many mega pixels are they?
Well, I am not talking about the latest digital cameras whose manufactures babble about the maximum resolution they can give. If we think about our eyes a bit more and refresh our high school biology lessons, the retina on which the eye-lens refracts light rays is made up of two kinds of photoreceptor cells called rods (enable black and white vision) and cones (enable color vision) which convert those light rays into electrical impulses, through an electrochemical reaction, which is processed by our brain to make us ‘see’. Roughly 125 million of them are intermingled non-uniformly over the retina, which means that the resolution of our eye is confined to the number of rods and cones we have, which is nothing but 125 Mega Pixels! Yes, if we had the ability to zoom images as we do using normal picture viewer software, after some limit, we will also see objects pixilated!

Do we see ‘everything’?
Humans can ‘see’ radiations of wavelength 390 to 780 nanometers (visible light) using his eye which form only a small part of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. We can’t see other radiations. We see an object when light rays fall on that object and the reflection is captured by our eyes. What if a particular object reflects only radiations of wavelength other than that of light? Duh! Then we won't be able to see that object. Thus there is a whole different world around us which we can’t see. A world that is quite different than what we can probably imagine of.

Does everyone see the same color?
Suppose a person sees a rose and identifies it as a red rose. Another person who is seeing the same rose is also identifying it as a red rose. But are we sure both the people identify it to have the same color? Ok let me explain it. Suppose a child who is seeing a yellow rose (color is yellow, called as yellow) ‘sees’ its color as a red. So for him that particular color would be yellow (which actually is red as seen by him) and is called as yellow. Which means, whenever he sees a yellow rose, even though he identifies it as a yellow rose having yellow color, actually he would be seeing it in red color. Physicians call it an extreme case of color blindness but I should say that people see the same object in different colors!

Can we believe our eyes?
Ultimately every single object in this universe is made up of atoms. An atom consists of a small nucleus at its centre and sub-atomic, wave-like particles called electrons spinning around it. The ratio of the sizes of a typical atom to its nucleus is about 100,000:1. For solids, this ratio comes down a bit; nevertheless, almost the same. But on an average, the nucleus forms a very small part of the whole atom. That is 99.99 percent of an atom doesn’t consist of anything. It is pure vacuum. Atoms form molecules and in turn form different objects we see around us. That means that when we see an object, say a pen, we are actually seeing something which is made up of particles which are 99.99 percent vacuum. Or we are seeing a pen which is actually 99.99 percent vacuum. Still we see it as a complete pen. Our eyes add the non existing 99.99 percent! And we believe our eyes for making us see something which is not there at all.

Thus there are a lot of limitations to the human eye. It doesn’t show us all the things, shows us something which is not there or shows us something which is 99.99 percent nothing, gives us a totally wrong picture of our surroundings. But still, in a way, all that is shown to us by our eyes are enough and more for us to exist; to enjoy and appreciate the wonders created by the nature. And we know how miserable the life of a blind is. Eyes are precious in deed. Nonetheless, for a subtle conclusion; next time when you see a friend of yours, just think out how he/she would look like in reality as compared to what ‘you’ see him/her using your eyes. Looks are deceptive, when you have eyes like this. :-))

Friday, December 09, 2005

Time just flies

Our fifth term had come to an end and now it’s one more term remaining for the convocation. Most of my friends are at their houses enjoying the break and homely food and I stayed back since I want to go to my house in January. Enough time for a recap of my past life while I laze around here, I also have to plan for my future. Placements are going to happen in March and we have to prepare our resumes before that, lots of contests and stuff are walling up which will all formally end on March 31st. Till then its kind of fun but after that I have to re-enter the corporate jungle. And the thought itself scares me.

Though I have to bury myself in huge case-mats and text-books during my studies, I don’t have to worry much about finishing my work and meeting deadlines, which I was more than indulged in while I was working. Well, there are submissions and deadlines and stuff here as well but it all happens by its own as if it is meant to happen, time to time. Student-life is a worry-free life indeed.

Nights are really cold these days. Times of India reported yesterday’s minimum temperature at Ahmedabad as 12.8 degrees. Ooty or Kodaikanal would be a comparatively warmer place now; I’m sure. Last year the temperature came down to 4 degrees in the peak of winter. But still it’s really fun to be in such a climate.

A cup of hot coffee from Café Tanstaafl (This is our cafeteria whose name expands to ‘There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch’) at 4 in the morning can do wonders in such a climate. It can drive away sleep if any, it can drive away cold, but along with that, it can bring in old memories. And believe me coffee and memories are a nice combination. You think about a beautiful moment of your life and then take a sip of coffee that’s steaming out into the foggy night; man, that is a delight. And then thinking about those bygone moments you blow gently over the cup, help the hovering steam to meet the dark-cold, for the next sip. Then I realize that it’s been almost two years now and like the steam in the cup of coffee, time just flies...