March monsoon and the Theory of Relativity..

Now this is where the obnoxious snob in me says a “Ha!” to all those who think I am a disgrace to the subject of Physics (which is what I had graduated in, by the way) since I find much more pleasure in painting misty pictures with words than in finding out superbly precise results of way too complex (and admittedly more relevant and practical) problems. The pathetic romantic that I am, I’d fallen out of love with Physics the day I realized that there was not much I could play around with and create of my own, unless I was blessed with brains like that fellow who thought up the entire concept of gravity while sitting under an apple tree. Who eventually ended up being the God for anybody having been remotely in touch with the sciences. And since blessed with such brains I was not, I gave up those dreams for more realistic ones.

Blame the Physics-tinged genes I inherit from my Physics-graduate mother, but maybe am still hung over my first love. And when the first thought that comes to your mind while spending an idealistically sentimental and nostalgic evening with just your thoughts for company, is a scientific theory, of all things, that revolutionized the very concept of time and space, you realize that some way down the line, there has been a calculation error. But cutting out this unnecessarily verbose prelude, maybe I should just go back to how this all started.

So when the world celebrated Earth Hour just the other day, and all of us turned off the lights for an hour, our holy Electricity Board decided to do its bit as well, and carried out its duty a little too enthusiastically, result of which was us surrendering to an entire night without electricity. Now, that the Gods above decided to amuse themselves with a brilliant thunderstorm all throughout the night, or that the trees gleefully stomped over and made a mess of those extremely crucial power lines during that thunderstorm, or that yesterday was a Sunday and definitely a non-working day, can hardly be considered the Electricity Board’s fault, can it? With such higher forces at play, all we mortals could do was work our way around the unavoidable twenty-four hours long power cut. But hang on, “work”, did I say? Because that’s the one thing I didn’t do at all…!  And thanks to the untimely (or maybe in some unfathomable cosmic way perfectly timed) downpour and our (ahem) extremely dedicated Electricity Board who sincerely do not work on non-working days, I had yesterday what most people would kill for. Time, and nothing to do.

With my phone, and then my laptop being the first casualties of this power cut I found myself, for the first time in a long time, devoid of the two things I swear I can’t live without. In the beginning it took every ounce of my patience not to just keep pacing up and down the house willing for something, anything to happen. With no music the whole day (my charge-less I-pod long forgotten in the recess of my bag) and towards evening, no light, for me it was like going back a decade when things were simpler. Life was tougher, and yet easier in so many other ways. That was a time when we didn’t have an inverter at home and power cuts meant relief from studies unless it was exam time. Cell-phone was what them rich kids got on their birthdays (with Rs.6 per minute for an incoming call too!) and laptop still meant the purring kitten me and my sister had made a pet of and would carry under our sweaters all the time. And having spent the whole day resisting this fruitlessness I felt with every fiber of my being, tired from being fidgety and restless, I finally surrendered. And woke up to the rhythm the evening had set for itself. Right on cue, my Mom decided to make a quintessential monsoon evening out of this crazy March one, and having had tea and hot “pakodas” with Dad reading out passages from the book he was reading then, just like old times, I went back to my room, lit a candle, and curled up with a book.

Pausing at times to listen to the still pouring rain, conspicuous only by its absence by then, it was like time had slowed down so much as to take me back in time. And that’s what inspired my quixotic notion about how the uber-modern theory of relativity need not necessarily involve speeds close to that of light. Now the theory of relativity, put in really naïve words, would be that if my twin suddenly decides to take a stroll in outer space one happy morning and then comes back in the evening, she’ll find me older and obviously green with envy since she’d still retain her own self while I would age in that one day. (Don’t ask me how old. I hate the mathematical calculations involved anyway). But why bother with speed of light when the speed with which our ambitions and targets are escalating with each passing milestone would be sufficient enough for this theory to hold good? Bill Gates just once advised everyone to keep running on the treadmill of life if they wanted to remain in the same place, so run we do. Only we would like to be a step ahead, thank you very much. So we run faster with each passing moment, always wanting to be somewhere else, always wanting to get something. And in those rare times when we are forced to stop in our tracks, we realize just how fast the world is spinning around us. And yesterday the only productive feature of my entire evening was that I came up with my version of the theory, and that is, if only you could send my twin back a decade, and then somehow managed to keep the world tucked away safe from all the Bill Gates’es my twin would remain childlike and untouched by cares for a much longer time than I did. Refute that if you want to, and I will prove how to it all started with computers and riches combined, the impact of which was hitherto unknown to our simple people.

But what am I to do when all I get is one day’s respite from the rat race (heaven save me, I haven’t even started working yet!)… I’m back to this place where power cuts are unheard of, and a twenty-four hour internet access makes sure am connected all the time. Aah well, I wear my running shoes and start running again and just pray my twin out there in the last decade never has to come back. Sigh!

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