To know the essence of Rajinikanth, strip him to the bone. Take him away from the camera, remove his make-up, hide his fancy clothes, steal his sunglasses, his cigarette, his chewing gum. Then force him to talk in his second, no third, no fourth language. All this when he’s 61.
And see what he’s got.
Watch the tone, observe the craft of delivery, the exact intonation, the hands pointing at himself strategically – a masterly Wodehousian self deprecation. See the emphasis he puts on certain words, the rustic pronunciation delivered with a naughty punch . Watch those eyes, the quick movements that gauge the audience reaction.
And don’t miss the pauses. Those sensational moments of waiting, where he’s almost toying with us, telling us to laugh a bit more before abruptly jutting in and making us laugh again. Adjusting his modulation accordingly.
Watch how all this comes together in a symphony. All in two minutes. And none of this rehearsed. Watch it again. And again. And realise what a master this man is.
I’m on much firmer ground with Thums Up, the great Indian cola with the
misspelled name and the extravagant flavour curve. In India, as purchased from your
average hole in the wall, Thums Up should deliver a precise sequence of sensations:
first, a slight salty grubbiness around the mouth of the glass bottle, which has been
cleaned and reused countless times and still feels never quite clean enough; next, a
surge of fizz, rowdier than in Pepsi or Coke, so powerful that it will tickle the very tips
of your ears; then a faint intermezzo of saccharine before the final kick of what can only
be called spice, a trumpeted announcement of its Indianness. Running through it all is
an insistent bass line: memories of soft drink counters at weddings and pineapple cake
at birthday parties, of long, torrid summers and limited pocket money and post-school
afternoons and Old Monk rum, for all of which Thums Up has been the only imaginable
accompaniment in India for 33 years now.
This is perhaps how it must be done:
She is madly in love with him. Despite Gullu’s warnings, despite bhOndOO’s failures, despite he being the topic of laughter, within the last few years, he has encompassed her mind completely. Not seeing him troubles her. Seeing him troubles her more.
Two storms in two hearts, and yet the duo is stand-still. Those who have experienced it know that it is difficult to say it the first time, and equally difficult when you hear it. A few moments pass in silence.
I may not be as warm as your parents, but I care for you. I may not be your best friend, but I respect your feelings. I may not be the most revered person around, but I am true to you. I am not omnipresent, but I am always there for you. I may not know what to say when you are sad, but I will be able to offer you a listening ear. I may not know how to make you smile, but I will smile with you. I may not be the best person around, but I will be good to you. And until recently, I used to believe that I will be able to convince you by showing how much I… how much… I love you.
A very beautiful love story by the sports writer Rohit Brijnath.
Your wife is there before you and yet a terrible theft is under way, a hollowing out of her which you cannot stop. It imprisons you in a vice of confusion, helplessness, sadness, yet within this changed life Raj has not forgotten how to love Bobbie. He has just gently renegotiated the terms of this romance.
In books, love is built of a scaffolding of shared words and sharp dialogue. In films, two characters meet, tenderness is expressed, feelings are returned and they bend for a kiss. Here, love is more silent and undemonstrative, here there is a limited exchange of the normal vocabulary of affection, for Bobbie cannot easily express emotion. So, on almost every day, nothing is taken by Raj, but only given.
A very beautiful answer by William Thurston , available here .
It’s not mathematics that you need to contribute to. It’s deeper than that: how might you contribute to humanity, and even deeper, to the well-being of the world, by pursuing mathematics? Such a question is not possible to answer in a purely intellectual way, because the effects of our actions go far beyond our understanding. We are deeply social and deeply instinctual animals, so much that our well-being depends on many things we do that are hard to explain in an intellectual way. That is why you do well to follow your heart and your passion. Bare reason is likely to lead you astray. None of us are smart and wise enough to figure it out intellectually.
There are many ideas in mathematics that may be hard to get, but are easy once you get them. Because of this, mathematical understanding does not expand in a monotone direction. Our understanding frequently deteriorates as well. There are several obvious mechanisms of decay. The experts in a subject retire and die, or simply move on to other subjects and forget. Mathematics is commonly explained and recorded in symbolic and concrete forms that are easy to communicate, rather than in conceptual forms that are easy to understand once communicated. Translation in the direction conceptual -> concrete and symbolic is much easier than translation in the reverse direction, and symbolic forms often replaces the conceptual forms of understanding. And mathematical conventions and taken-for-granted knowledge change, so older texts may become hard to understand.
In short, mathematics only exists in a living community of mathematicians that spreads understanding and breaths life into ideas both old and new. The real satisfaction from mathematics is in learning from others and sharing with others.
A beautiful website on the works of Halldor Laxness .
Laxness in translation.
Dave Brubeck calls this the most interesting version of Take Five.