IITx diaries. Episode-1

smoochHe and she were sitting adjacent, actually more proximate, well frankly smothered into the other, on the rear-most step of the Open air theatre in-campus late at night. Let’s step back a moment. Well we do literally need to so as to give them some privacy. Now literal-qualms aside, metaphorically taking a step back to ponder a deep philosophical injunction, why need it be a he and a she?

No, now don’t get all creative and start imagining plural forms of either or both pronoun. Did you know mélange a trios used to be an accepted, or rather still is, a form of social co-habitation in Europe? I want to go Europe. To see the Eiffel tower ofcourse! What were you thinking? Back to business with the he and the she, why need there be this gender duality in a relationship-duo. Given we are liberals in the 21st century, we take no issue if it were a he and a he, smooching the life out of the other! Did that scene where the Dementor sucks the life out of Harry’s luscious lips flash in your head? Did I spoil Harry Potter for you forever? Let’s hope not. Or it could as well be a she and a she (giggles!). What? I am no intolerant bigot! Isn’t humor an inexplicable thing? People find humor in death. Well, some do. Crimes-against-humanity did not sell-out for no reason. A she with a she can’t be more ominous than mortis can it?

2000px-sexual_orientation_-_4_symbols-svgNow having established it could just as well have been a he with a he, or a she with a she, let’s just contend with the fact that on that particular fateful night, fateful as because we voyeurs trained our telescopes upon them, the them, or grammatically speaking, they, chanced to be a he and a she. And we shall not judge them for sticking, quite cloyingly, to conventional gender duality of the most populous binary relationship-type in society. So what where they doing? They were smooching (giggles!).

They were at it, for quite a while now, and one could almost see that despite the flushed face and bated breath, their lips pressed against were drained of blood and deathly pale. The guy actually wanted to just hold hands and peer into her eyes, the gateway to her soul (sigh, clichéd, I know!), but the girl wouldn’t hear of it. She was a progressive she said, whatever it meant, and she wanted this thing, which for reasons of propriety and censorship shall not be juicily detailed. But it suffices to say that it involved lips, tongue, and human saliva- a slightly alkaline fluid of pH-7.4, that aids in deglutition (fancy term for swallowing) and got amylase (an enzyme aka biocatalyst) that initiates digestion of starch. But she wanted it, she was bossy and a feminist, both traits totally unrelated, and he being a gentleman listened and complied with shocking readiness.

The pale lips in due course got numb, not unsurprisingly as anyone with experience would know (do I smell pride? Envy? Disgust? hey, its fiction remember). And with numbness comes an irking lack of satisfaction and that concomitant veil of boredom. The guy wants to go back to his room now. He got to study electron wave function for the quantum electrodynamics test the next day. But he can’t tell her that. She was too cool, and above all, was a girl. He knew given his brilliant track-record with people who carried two X chromosomes, the probability of he getting within two feet of another women in his lifetime was slim at best, and non-existent on a more conservative estimate. Does this make him desperate? Aren’t we all desperate for love (emphatic pause for effect!)?

wave-equation(After an unnecessary split of paragraph to exacerbate the pause!) He wondered what if she was the one, that it was meant to be. Just then the girl does something unexpected. Why, because the narrative required something dramatic to happen. It had gotten into a slog for a while now. The dramatic thing, yes, the girl does it. She picks up her phone, takes a pic, and sends him a copy. She doesn’t upload it with a string of cheesy cheery charming smiley’s on the social media, which is enormously unexpected and a tad dramatic. Less significantly, she says, remember me, and she disappears in a blink.

Too dramatic? Well, who’s to say. What, you? Give it a break. What happened of creative freedom, free speech, tolerance at least? Let’s stick with the fact. And the fact was, as we now shall believe, she disappears. Poof! And the guy blinks. Well, the girl disappears in a blink too. Whether she blinked at that precise moment she disappeared stands to reason. Given it isn’t of any importance, her blink, as much as the guy’s blink, let’s let it slide. (Disclaimer- No, we are not giving any less importance to the girl’s blink because she is a woman. She just was so super-awesome-adroit-quick-skilled in blinking that we couldn’t record if she blinked.)

Guy blinks, girl disappears. Let’s replay, the guy blinks, he notices a stern rap on his shoulder. No, it’s not parallel universes. We abhor the multiverse hypothesis. The two needn’t necessarily be mutually-exclusive in the same universe (pardon the double negative, I know it’s a crime. I should be hanged! maybe after am dead)- he blinks, she disappears, and he notices a stern rap on his shoulder. The next moment, he’s up, wiping the copious drool from the corner of his mouth, the left cheek, in fact his entire face, and from the notebook with the half-scribbled quantum wave equation, staring back at him in dreadful disarray.

No, he wasn’t dreaming. We shall not have an anticlimactic clichéd end. It wasn’t a dream. She was real, she disappeared, and as he blinked, he was teleported through time-and-space into the quantum electrodynamics exam next day. You doubt it? Think it’s too convenient? Consider this. For the sake of sanity, he checks his phone and there she is, with him beside, in the pic she had shared. Convinced? At least he was, and a foolish smug smile lights up on his face. He looks at the test paper again. Matter is a particle and a wave. The pitiful Schrodinger’s cat is dead, and is alive. The probability distribution for an electron at all points outside nucleus is non-zero, even for large distances, though howsoever infinitesimally small the probability gets. Disappearing, poof, in a blink, while unheard-of, could be extant. As could teleportation, with no device or wand or Dumbledore’s watch. Beyond all, there is a non-zero probability, howsoever close to zero on the numberline, of him having a girl who would walk along by his side, be-it-may by chance, for at least the measure of a good long 2 feet. Having said that, he could totally nail the smooch. The pic proves that he did.  The bell rings. Exams over. The probability of him flunking the test is 1 (definitive!). He strides to the door, gets out the hall, and blinks at the bright sunlight, just as a hand appears, linking its fingers with his, and the body attached to that hand is the girl in the pic. Sure thing, quantum doesn’t make sense. And here is why, it needn’t!

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That stupid toad!

choas.jpg‘A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets’ said the old feisty Rose in Titanic, as did a girl in my class at high school when I asked her intentions behind putting a toad in my lunch when not more than a week before she had confessed her love to me. Now the quote felt apropos to the moment and I blinked in appreciation which would have lasted for a while longer had the toad not croaked. It was a disgusting little thing, looking all clueless and to be frank, a little frightened. Being an environmentalist myself, I promptly had the toad transported to the biology lab and gave it up for the dissection that was due next week. I did hate to let precious resources go waste.

While this incident sure sounded as a nail stuck into the coffin of our little puppy love, it sure stood out 8 years later when I found self in the same city as this girl from high school. She still owed me an explanation. Not that it would change anything, but mysteries have a characteristic itch about them that compel us feeble folks to have them resolved.

I made sure to get to the café late by half an hour in hope of making a grand entry on the awaiting lady; though my little scheme was squashed by the girl who was a good wholesome hour late. Now I readily forgave her because she had long legs. Everyone has their own set of idiosyncrasies. Call me shallow, but I have a thing for long legs. As a matter of fact, I find girls who think hunky, muscular guys are hot and attractive as incredibly shallow and contemptible. It is just so juvenile and out-dated. It was the alpha males of the Neanderthals. In the today, the alpha males are those with enough wits to sift through the massive amounts of data available and make consequential choices. Rowing back on course from this little but important digression, a pair of long legs brought her to the café and she sat across, crossing them.

With great effort I unhinged my glance from this subconscious fixation on those pair of long, shapely, life-affirming lower limbs, and looked up to meet her gaze. She apparently wasn’t very pleased with the way I had turned out. My nails were dirty, my hair unkempt and longer than appropriate, not to miss the long meandering crease on my shirt that would have made a juicy data-point for any decent computing machine to churn an equation to explain its branching morphology. But I had an arresting smile, killer dimples, and a twinkle in my eyes, as my mother used to say, and didn’t feel too ruffled by her critical censure.

She said she was engaged to Jenny. Yes, it is a girl’s name. I did a quick re-take on the manliness of my killer-dimples from high school! But enough conceit already. I said I was happy for her. While totally a lie, not that I had anything remotely romantic toward this toad-toting long-legged critical feminine fellow Homo sapien,  I just didn’t have it in me to ever be happy for else. Unless that folk was a blood-relative, it evolutionarily didn’t hold water. Though I wasn’t unhappy for her; so all is well I hope. After some small talk on Syrian war, Canadian politics, and quantum entanglement, I asked her about the toad in my Tiffin.

Instead of a straight answer, she asked in return, ‘Was it predictable- that event of me putting that thing beside your sandwiches?’ ‘Hell no!’, said I. Then it was a-causal as far as your reality is concerned, she quipped and smiled. I was well aware of James Gleick’s line from the book Chaos that an inherently unpredictable event need be a-causal. The idea being, had there been a cause to which this event had been an effect, then the occurrence of the cause would have made the event predictable. Well again, another apropos use of someone else’s thesis, remember the Rose’s dialogue, yet, I had misgivings on the ‘inherent’ qualifier to the ‘unpredictability’.

In retrospect, I think that smile she beamed was a wicked one. It feels so not nice to feel out-witted. I promised her to iron my shirt and maybe clean half my nails, which I suppose appealed to what little good there was hidden, deep, in some dark recess within her, and she relented. She said, the toad was her pet, and she wanted to surprise me, while I mercilessly had it given up for dissection. (As against what I had thought, the toad had been dissected the same day, not a week later. They had needed it to demonstrate the electrical nature of sciatic nerve stimulation to cause contraction of the calf).

After a sheepish smile, we paid the bill the Dutch way and left. Though unbeknown to us, one of the students who had observed the nerve stimulation experiment that day had become so fascinated with the whole thing that he now is a neurosurgeon doing well curing folks of epilepsy. Who knew the stupid frog and my generous act would consequent the society such good!

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