Category Archives: Literature

Lift-Off From Moscow

moscow-streets

“We treat them like babies who cannot speak.” – Oleg Gazenko

I may have come across as pompous, a snob even. Truth be told, Father, great Siberian husky that he was, imbibed in me restraint. He often lay by, watching drearily, even as his comrades before him took to each others throats over the night’s last morsel. I never knew Mother. I was told she was a dainty terrier, which might give some meaning to my slightness. Living thus phlegmatic, and of meager means and form, I must admit, kept the life in me quite supple. Then I turned three.

I was picked up from the dusty Moscow streets by a burly comrade, snarling about Khrushchev, or so I could discern with all my pitiful grasp of Human. My last gaze at Father was, quite literally, unblinking, uneventful. I turned forward, thirsty for a world more colorful.

This is part one of three; take a look at part two and part three

Kudryavka

“I wanted to do something nice for her: She had so little time left to live.” – Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky

Kudryavka, they called me. Little Curly. I was gifted a small but tidy contraption to spend the night in, dinner with the chef’s complements. Flattered as I was, I found the platter queer, unused to the semi-solid delicacies I was being treated to. The next nineteen days saw me being transferred to alternate accomodation by the day, each contraption smaller than the last. It had been days since I defecated. The colorful world had lost its sheen. I didn’t like the food anymore. I missed Father.

It wasn’t long before I was finally taken out and transferred to a peculiar contraption. It wasn’t unlike my earlier homes, in size. But the metallic finish, the lights and switches adorning the walls, gave no aura of warmth. I whined, to get away, and also in fear that I wouldn’t fit the crevice that seemed to be my placeholder. It was only after they fastened me in that I realised just how much slighter I’d become. I could feel my heart against my ribs; it seemed to be beating faster since the past few days. I spent the next two days adjusting to my metallic shelter. I could sense something in the air. Something was going to happen. Soon.

This is part two of three; take a look at part one and part three

The Metal Ball With Legs

TheMetalShell

Day three in the metal ball with legs; November 3, 1957. I couldn’t turn around in my metal shell, my harness was a taskmaster. The chamber door was clamped down a few minutes ago, leaving me with the blinking lights and a few rations of food. The Moscow streets I’d so gaily escaped from beckoned to me. I began making plans to leave. Then my shell started trembling.

The tremors grew massive, Digging my nails into steel, I dreaded my shell falling apart. I could hear many voices, agitated, excited. Gradually, they grew distant, until all was still but the constant roar from the outside. A force pulled me to the ground, unseen but strong. I stayed down, tongue hanging limp, trying to soothe the bloody muscle pounding against my frame. Silently, I pleaded to the blinking lights, asking to be taken back to my old kennels. They soon stopped blinking.

The air was thick. My tongue lolled constantly, reaching for nothing. It was hot. I spread myself out, trying to cool down. Another hour. Hotter now. My limbs seemed like another’s, lying somewhere in my shell. I heard yelps. Mother. Or was it me? Hotter now. Another hour.

After 2,570 orbits, during re-entry on April 14, 1958, Sputnik 2 disintegrated, along with what remained of Kudryavka, known to many as Laika, the space dog. She breathed her last on November 3, 1957.

This is part three of three; take a look at part one and part two

Provoking Excerpt #01: SICP

It’s my first time coming across computer science literature that reads like one of Bertrand Russell’s philosophical pieces. Here’s an excerpt from the foreword I’ve just gotten past; if you’ve taken a course in programming languages this semester, steal this book!

Every computer program is a model, hatched in the mind, of a real or mental process. These processes, arising from human experience and thought, are huge in number, intricate in detail, and at any time only partially understood. They are modeled to our permanent satisfaction rarely by our computer programs. Thus even though our programs are carefully handcrafted discrete collections of symbols, mosaics of interlocking functions, they continually evolve: we change them as our perception of the model deepens, enlarges, generalizes until the model ultimately attains a metastable place within still another model with which we struggle. The source of the exhilaration associated with computer programming is the continual unfolding within the mind and on the computer of mechanisms expressed as programs and the explosion of perception they generate. If art interprets our dreams, the computer executes them in the guise of programs!

Source: Foreword, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Hal Abelson, Jerry Sussman and Julie Sussman (MIT Press, 1984; ISBN 0-262-01077-1)

ध्वनिक आतंकवाद

My Desk

Yeah, that’s my desk. Yes, it’s a calm, peaceful, academically inspiring little cranny in the corner of my room. Yes, that is John Mayer blazing out of my speakers; a feeble attempt at self defence. I cower behind the lens, trying to drown out the sonic pain.

Evolution has its eccentricities; did you ever realise that it’s a different breed of virus that infects you every time you’re down with cold? Not unlike the fashionable virii mucusi, terrorism too seems to be in tune with the trends, the rate of change following a frightening inverse relation to that of Akash Gupta’s bathing frequency.

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Eyes Half Closed

Before the bleak rays of dawn trickle through the curtain blinds, the night drowns in its silence, the essence of life made conspicuous by its absence. While the town lies in sweet slumber, somewhere, some place, a bright orange glob begins to stir.

The snail crawls towards the other end, ever nearing it’s goal, painfully, slowly, but surely. In the night’s stillness, patience weighs down, sleep forming the lead blocks pulling down the covers over my retina; as I stare at the screen. I watch the bright orange snail stumble on, with eyes half closed. Thoughts half formed.  Dreams half dreamt.

The progress bar fills in its recess; the snail disappears. The page refreshes. I begin to type…