Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don’t miss the Interlude

It was roughly around three thirty in the afternoon, yet the sudden rain changed the tempo of the day. Oceanic road extended to the foreseeable future with its shiny wet patches all over the place. Rain has spoiled the nature. The breeze, the clouds, the trees,, the ocean, it all danced quick step. We drove along, as the untamed ocean pounded on the rocks, breaking, and blowing a mist of salty breeze away onto us.

Sky was mostly gloomy, yet its prisoner has almost got out of the cloud. Isolated points of turbulence mark distant patches of varying brightness on the canvass of the great ocean. Trapped Sun rays reach them from the circular portholes of the cloud in bright orange beams. - Spectacular scenery. - Nature at her beauty.

Yet I didn't feel as if we were on picnic.

Well, we were not.

I was driving along the yet-to-be-finished Ocean Drive, somewhere close to Bambalapitiya, in order to make in time for my baby's doctor appointment. And we were running late.

All that came to my mind was, well, the speed of the car, time of the watch (only my wife had one), and the meter reading of the imaginary policeman who would appear from behind any bush or building - and then the negotiation, fine or the bribe to get away.

To be honest, I did notice the beauty around me, tried myself to drag into it, yet failed. A distant glimpse of a joyous feeling rose, and suddenly found that it was very much out of place. And I wondered why…

We miss the interlude of life. We are waiting for the long weekend or the annual leaves to make us happy. And we let go the long boring rest of time, made so by our own selves. Then we call it the madness, curse or rat-race called life, which sucks. Even rats must be laughing.

Life's interlude is not really an interlude. It does not come after voices faded. It does not happen in a known day or time. It happens always. It is infinitely bound with every other day-today happenings. It's the idealistic mind of us which ignores the moments of joy in the expense of an imaginary fear, life goals or humanly concerns of ours.

But the same us dump all those concerns and fears and life goals out of the window of the picnic vehicle during the long weekend. Amazingly we fail the same for most of the little bits of times that come in our way totally free.

And it can come anywhere anytime in your life. In a little laughter at the back of your office, a rare traffic-free drive on the way to your work, or may be on your way to meet your CEO in the scenic open-lift ride in the skyscraper by the busy harbour in sight, - later to find out your are just fired. Well, in getting fired itself. This picnic is called life. And we are taking it like it or not. It's a matter of keeping your eyes open during the journey.

There are two types of people who climb that thorny harsh mountain. One type climb it to reach the peak - and then perhaps, to mark it with the flag on the top. Another lot climb to admire climbing. Reaching the peak is a mere point of their journey. They enjoy the journey for itself - the thorns for thorns, slippery rocks for slippery rocks, and leaches for leaches. Life is more enjoyable for the latter type.

Not just the picnic, the life is a gigantic scholarly institute as well. I like to talk to different people and study many different things. I like reading anything that comes in my way. In a very much unknown church, once I found very interesting headstones of many generations apart. It may be boring if it was of a deadman 25years ago. But the mere writing of both Sinhala and English of two hundred and fifty years ago means a lot for you. Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe was still unborn by then. Don't laugh. You'd read them certainly if you saw them in a museum, and be surprised, like I did in that church.

I may be talking in irrelevant lines. There are people dying in hunger. There are people who endanger their lives in the enemy line on behalf of all of us. But just talk to such people. Within their limitations they enjoy their life. And if not for that joy they wouldn't be doing what they are doing.

And then they would be working in offices, like most of us. And hate the life. No joy, the usual rat-race, the whole list of complaints.

Someone else once wrote the following.

"Some say that life is very short. But Life is the longest period of time that anyone can feel."

So do not wait till the end of it, to enjoy it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Arthur C Clarke

The greatest "engineer" of fiction is dead. Perhaps I was late to write a tribute, but the man who died is worthy being remembered at any time.

Of all the fictions from fairy tale to Hollywood cinema, I never found better constructed ones than that of ACC (Arthur C Clarke). His fictions may not have tenderness, love, or other human feelings. But the gigantic technological achievements he designed were so well constructed even beyond the details of some engineering project proposals. And they were so accurate to every grain of elementary science.

He did not write about jumping through a worm hole or travel through time with your college friends for an evening out. Every such scientific construction had a high precision detail and the actual weight and calamity of the event.

My taste in his work has made me feeling disgusted when I see the rest of the hype that we call scifi today.

Unfortunately he failed to take the lift to the space hotel to celebrate his 100th birthday - the lift which he designed so well, that the fiction itself is a blueprint for the task one day. 

This one man had more influence than most of my own teachers to tread in the path which brought me where I am. In an outback village with no taste of the utopia that we dwell today, this man's writing made me known more of NASA than many Sri Lankan govt offices and gave me that dream of joining NASA one day, of which I got much of inspiration and planned ahead in the path. It is immaterial that I never lived up to that dream, and joining NASA does not seem as galactic as how I saw it then. But that motivation was immense in my life.

And more over, his writing (translated by Mr S M Banduseela) inspired my life long ambition to be a writer. That inspiration is still intact, pity I lack even a fraction of the talent of his.

An extract from following site suggests how gigantic Clarke sat on the foundations of space exploration.
[Source: Clarke Obituary]
Planetary scientist Torrence Johnson said Clarke's work was a major influence on many in the field.
Johnson, who has been exploring the solar system through the Voyager, Galileo and Cassini missions in his 35 years at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, recalled a meeting of planetary scientists and rocket engineers where talk turned to the author.
"All of us around the table said we read Arthur C. Clarke," Johnson said. "That was the thing that got us there."

I'm sure that world will remember him many times in many millennia whenever they realise a dream of ACC or face a catastrophe which ACC has warned of (and attempted to solve by means of a well constructed fiction).

There is no point to wish him a rest in peace or nibbana or some sort. The man had no religious views although religion was perhaps the second most spoken topic in all his fictions. And he once stated (in a preface) that religion is such a sweet craze in human mind.

Let me wish, may all his dreams come true one day. And those dreams are what he has already attained immortality for.