31 July 2021

Book Review: The Socrates Express

Author: Eric Weiner

I forget who it was that had brought my attention to this book. Smart money is on Somsekhar Baksi. If you are inclined towards learning very quickly about some of the key points about quite a few philosophers – some of who, I guarantee you have not heard of and some you may not think of as a philosopher either (e.g. Gandhiji), this is a great read.

As always with every book, each time you read it, a few points hit home runs for you. One of those winners for me was actually from the author himself – not any particular philosopher. And it deals with 10 points about How to Grow Old.

Here are some memorable quotes from the book that might pique your interest.

1. Miles Kington – “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”
2. Albert Camus – “Suicide is the one truly serious philosophical problem”. Is life worth living or not?
3. Jacob Needleman – “The Heart of Philosophy” – “Our culture has generally tended to solve its problems without experiencing its questions.
4. John Stuart Mill – Pleasure Paradox – Happiness is a by-product, never an objective
5. Thoreau – Doubt is essential. It is the vehicle that transports us from one certainty to another.
6. Idealism – Everything we experience is a mental representation of the world, not the world itself. Physical objects only exist when we perceive them. (fridge light example)
7. Music speaks to the essence of life. An image of heaven even a secularized one, may or may not have paintings and statues. We take it for granted that there will be music.
8. We lead telephoto lives in a wide angle world
9. We lose objects suddenly, but experience the loss gradually.
10. Everyone hopes to reach old age, but when it comes most of us complain about it.

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30 July 2021

We missed Kim and Veera again!

“It does not matter, Rajib. Just tell me your route and I will intercept you at a Starbucks”, texted Neal.

Neal was not going to give up. He was determined to meet Nikita and myself. He tracked our route as we hopped between colleges and then met us up at a Starbucks by the highway on our way from Boston to Providence.

I have previously described this guy as one of the smartest persons I have worked with. The joy was all mine to see him and exchange notes again.

I had met Neal and Avia about two years back when he was in Atlanta for a wedding. One of the topics we had talked about that day was taking a year off between jobs. That day, I had come home and looked for a picture of me and Nikita during one of those times I had taken a year off. You might remember the post from here: https://www.rajibroy.com/2019/08/25/meeting-one-of-the-smartest-guys-i-know/

Thanks to Neal, we were able to put Nikita, Avia and the two of us (actually, their dog too!) in the same spot. It was a great time at Starbucks. Avia has grown up so much. Enough to realize that Nikita would be the better audience for all her stories than Rajib uncle!!

Neal and I caught up on all the exciting stuff he has been up to in the last couple of years. I have to admit – missed Kim and Veera though. We had missed them last time too!

Maybe next time!

29 July 2021

I needed this therapy

After a lot of stuff going on in the personal front, landed up in Boston with Nikita. Turns out we were staying in a hotel not too far from Ram and Preetha. It was already late but not too late for Ram and Preetha to make some time for me. They are the nicest people that way. The last time I met them is when they came to Boston airport to meet me in between flights or something.

It was great catching up on each others’ personal lives and literally run down the roll call list of Optiant employees!!

Can’t wait to see this too again!

26 July 2021

All nothingnesses are not the same

They try telling me that you came from nothing and you eventually became nothing. That I came from nothing and that I will go back to nothing. So, why think about it?

But this is where I agree with Eric Weiner’s words and disagree with the world.

The nothing that was before you were born is not the same nothing that is now that you are gone. One is a nothing that was always nothing while the other is a nothing that was once something. That makes a difference.

The void in space is not the same as a mine in the earth. Both are nothingness. But those nothingnesses are different because they are defined by the proximity to what was.

And what still is.