Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Buffalo Theory (Perfect Logic)

I am sure some of you have already read this theory. If you have then give it one more read and have a silent laugh. If you haven’t I guess you are about to be enlightened.

In one of the episodes of ‘Cheers’, Cliff is seated at the bar describing the Buffalo Theory to his buddy, Norm. This is one of the most logical explanations that I have ever seen.

“Well you see Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted it is the slowest and the weakest ones that are at the back are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

That my dear friends is the Buffalo Theory…..

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


The search engine Google has become an eternal part of most surfers. Almost every week there is something new at Google. So much is written about the features of Google, be it tricks to be used to make search faster or certain keywords that you can use to make the search easier. GMail, Froogle, Picasa, News all very handy tools to make sense of a jamboree that is the Internet.

Something very interesting is the fact that the Google logo keeps changing on specific days signifying the importance of the particular day. Can you recollect a few of them! I was able to recollect the one they had put during "Athens Olympics", the recent "World Water Day", "Korean Independence Day" (which coincides with our independence day) and a couple of more. If you wish to see these google faces (doodles as google calls them) once more click on the google logo below.

And if you wish to know more about the man who doodles with Google then click here.

Share with me your favourite Google Face.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Man, The Machine and a Broken Dream

I saw "The Aviator", the story of Howard Huges the Billionaire who had a dream to make big movies and make great planes. A man who inspite of all the roadblocks placed in front of him went on to achieve his dreams. The movie winning oscars proved its technical brilliance. While seeing the movie I was reminded of another great an inventor, a visionary, a rebel and a hero who failed to realize his dream, a dream to build a "car of the future", or did he ! Read on and then make your verdict! Did he fail or in his failure there was a victory! This is the story of an American Car maker Preston Tucker who gave what the Americans wanted "the car of tomorrow today!". A near accurate movie had been made on Tucker's life "Tucker The Man and His Dream" by Francis Ford Coppola.

Preston Thomas Tucker born on September 21 1903 in Capac, Michigan, Tucker was the designer of the innovative Tucker '48. His vision was to create the "car of the future," sporting features such as safety glass, seat belts, a third headlight which turned as the driver turned the steering wheel, and an engine in the rear of the vehicle. Tucker spent his childhood around mechanics' garages and used car lots. He worked as an office boy at Cadillac, a policeman in Lincoln Park, and even worked for a time at Ford Motor Company. After attending Cass Technical School in Detroit, Tucker turned to salesmanship, first for Studebaker, then Stutz, Chrysler, and finally as regional manager for Pierce-Arrow.

During World War II, all production efforts were for the army. None of the companies built any new models. Tucker built a light armour vehicle for the army. The army rejected the bullet proof vehicle on the basis that it was too fast. But his innovative ideas were appreciated by everybody. It was post-war when the market was more open, people were willing to buy and wanting something new, that Tucker felt that it was the right time to realise his dream, a dream that would also be loved by the American public. He formed the Tucker Corporation in 1946 to manufacture his dream car. Unlike Howard Hughes who had a lot of money of his own, Tucker did not have any. To realise his dream he needed money. He wanted to buy a plant, where he could build his cars. He set his eyes on an old Dodge plant in chicago which used to build engines for the B-29 during WWII. The War Assets Administration leased the plant to Tucker provided he could raise $15 million by March 1, following year. It was a herculean task for the cash-stripped Tucker Corporation. But Tucker was a salesman at heart and he believed that he could sell his dream to the American public and thus raise the capital. He hired a famous car designer Alex Tremulis, an award winning car designer, to design the Tucker Torpedo and he himself set out to raise the capital.

Tucker devised an innovative scheme to raise the capital. He went on a marketing blitzkerg across the country, showing posters, telling people what his car was going to be. He talked about the advanced features about the car, the innovative design, the rear engines and the revolutionary safety features. Having a very charismatic Persona, Tucker won hearts and minds whereever he went. He was soon able to sell dealer franchises and raise a capital of $6 million. All this without even having a prototype of the car. This attracted the attention of the Big Three car makers, Ford , Chrysler and GM who felt threatened by the new innovations that Tucker promised. Tucker's manner of raising capital also attracted the attention for the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), a federal government agency. The SEC set up an investigation into the sale of franchises made by Tucker. As the work on Tucker Torpedo was about to begin, Tucker faced another obstacle. Wilson Wyatt, head of the National Housing Agency, ordered the WAA to cancel Tucker's lease and turn the plant over to the Lustron Corporation to build pre-fab houses. Tucker was caught up between a bureaucratic struggle between the WAA and the National Housing Agency. Meanwhile troubles with the prototype were brewing up. The company did not have adequate money to afford clay to build the prototypes. So they built the prototypes by beating steal, something which was totally unheard off.

The SEC later caused costly delays in approving the initial Tucker stock offering. By selling stock in Tucker Corporation to the public, Tucker was inviting them to join his enterprise, to become part-owners and accept the risk of ownership--by sharing the profits of success, or the losses of failure. Funds raised from dealership and stock sales provided the money to design and build the first Tucker'48s. But the SEC never stopped its harassment of Preston Tucker. The established auto industry didn't want new competition, and their "Senator from Detroit," Homer Ferguson, led the battle to crush Tucker Corporation. Further energizing the investigation of Tucker was SEC Commissioner Harry McDonald, also from Detroit. Regional SEC Chief Thomas B. Han apparently hated Tucker, and was relentless in his efforts to bring him down. The SEC may have spent more money investigating the Tucker Corporation than the Tucker Corporation spent designing and building the "car of the future."

The Tucker '48 (Tucker Torpedo renamed) premiered June 19, 1947 in the Tucker plant before the press, dealers, distributors and brokers. The prototype was so hastily build, that it was plagued with problems. It failed to start and there was a small fire. All this happened behind the curtains while Tucker was speaking to the public. When Tucker came to know about this, he went on speaking and also called upon other eminent personalities to speak. At the same time he told his associates that the premire of Tucker '48 would not be put off. They worked hastily to make the car ready for display. Though many features in the Tucker '48 shown to public were stripped down from the original specifications, it still stole the hearts of the public. It was very close to what the public expected and wanted. It was now time to go into mass production.

But that required money, something which Tucker still did not have. By 1948, Tucker had a pilot production line set up but his stock issue had been $5 million short and he again needed immediate money. He began a pre-purchase plan for Tucker automobile accessories such as radios and seat covers. Although he raised $2 million, advanced payment on accessories to a car not yet in production was the final straw for the SEC. On May 28, 1948, the SEC and the Justice Department launched a full-scale investigation. Investigators swarmed the plant and Tucker was forced to stop production and lay-off 1600 workers. Receivership and bankruptcy suits piled up, creditors bolted and stock plunged. The SEC's case had to show that the Tucker car could not be built, or if built, would not perform as advertised. But Tucker was building cars. Seven Tuckers performed beautifully at speed trials in Indianapolis that November, consistently making 90 mph lap speed. However after Thanksgiving, a skeletal crew of workers assembled the remaining 50 cars the company would ever produce. In January 1949, the plant closed and the company was put under trusteeship.

On June 10, Tucker and seven of his associates faced a Grand Jury indictment on 31 counts - 25 for mail fraud, 5 for SEC regulation violation, and one on conspiracy to defraud. The trial opened on October 5, 1949 and from the beginning the prosecution based its entire case on the "Tin Goose" prototype. It refused to recognize the 50 production cars and called witness after witness who, under cross-examination, ended up hurting the government's case. In the end, Tucker's defense team merely stated that the government had failed to prove any offense so there was nothing to defend. On January 22, the jury found the defendants innocent of any attempt to defraud, but the verdict was a small triumph. The company was already lost. The remaining assets and the Tucker automobiles were sold at a piecemeal rate.

Incredebily in 1951, Tucker started again. he went to Brazil to seek backing for another new car. With the new project almost underway, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died December 26, 1956.

Out of the 51 Tucker's ever producecd incredibly, 47 of them are still in working condition. They are spread across the US in different Car museums and some are under personal ownership. Many of the innovative features of the Tucker '48 later went on to become industry standards. In the endevours of Tucker there is a very strong message for all of us. An Idea is the seed of anything revolutionary, a dream is a precursor to an achievement. It is not always that in pursuance of a dream, things will be easy or that every innovator will always win. But what is important is the willingness to pursue the dream without being bogged down by the roadblocks and without being bothered about the result.

Until next week

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Atomic Spy

The Manhattan Project is what brought the world into nuclear age. July 15th 1945 when the first Atomic Bomb was tested, was a bitter sweet moment for the science community. They had unleashed the power of an Atom. The possibilities were limitless. But how it was intended to be used and the further possibilities of creating even more powerful and deadlier weapons of destruction was the cause of concern. Robert J Oppenheimer, the Scientific Director of Manhattan Project, said in a sober voice just after the Test, "I have become Death; the destroyer of worlds."

The subsequent decision to use Nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the consequences there-of are one of the most horrific incidences of our history. The ethics behind the usage of Atom Bombs have been debated and documented over the years. An off-shoot of Manhattan Project was the Nuclear race which fueled the Cold war. Therein lies the story of a spy, a spy like no other spy. KLAUS FUCHS.

Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs, born on December 29, 1911 in Germany, was an enigma. Son of a Lutheran priest, was brilliant in his studies right from childhood. He joined the German Socialist Party in his college days. In 1933 when Hitler's Nazi party came to power, Fuchs felt threatened and escaped to Paris. Sometime later he moved to Britain where he completed his Doctorate from the University of Bristol. He had developed into a brilliant physicist, but when Germany invaded France, all Germans in England were interned and sent to various prison camps. Fuchs was sent to Quebec Canada. Fuchs was able to survive this internship by reading the scientific papers of Heisenberg, Einstein and Bohr and smoking incesstantly on the cigarettes provided by his canadian captors. As suddenly as he was captured in 1940, his release was equally sudden in 1942. He was sent back to England where he was recruited by the University of Birmingham to carry out Atomic research.

Life was good in Birmingham. He was with friends. He returned to work on Theoretical Physics on a project which was named as "Tube Alloys". Though Fuchs was happy with his work and the people he worked with, one thing disturbed him. He could not digest the fact that the British, Americans and the Canadians shared information on the development of this new weapon but excluded its other ally the Soviet Union. He saw Communism as the salvation and the answer to all problems. Disturbed by this and with his inner pro-communist belief, he walked into the Russain Embassy offering to be a spy for the Soviet Union. The Soviets were more than happy to have him on board. He was told that he would be contacted soon. Klaus Fuchs' career as a spy had begun.

Klaus' first Soviet contact was an agent named Ursula who was referred to as the "Girl from Barnbury". In mid 1942 Klaus started meeting Ursula on a regualar basis. These meetings were in true espionage style, in bars or pubs for few minutes at the most. Klaus started passing information about his work, which was restricted information, at "Tube Alloys" to Ursula. In due course of time his contribution to the project started increasing and becoming more sensitive in nature. Also if Klaus had to make more contribution to the project he would have to have access to the classified materials. For this Klaus needed to be a British Citizen. Even though Klaus' stint with German Communist Party was known to everybody, nobody suspected him to be an active Communist. Hence Michael Perrin, the project director of Tube Alloys sponsored for citizenship for Klaus Fuchs. Thus Fuchs who was an active spy for the USSR was granted British Citizenship and was given access to all classified information.

The cooperation between American and British scientist over the Atom Bomb was on rise and it was in 1944 that British scientists were invited to USA to work on the Manhattan Project. Micheal Perrin, recognizing the intelligence and the contribution he could make to the project not only invited Klaus, but also vouched for his integrity. It was here that Klaus established contact with the famous courier Harry Gold aka Raymond. Years later when Klaus' treachery was discovered, Harry Gold's role in the entire spy ring and his importance astounded the Americans. Klaus never had a very good working relationship with Raymond. He considered Raymond to be intellectually inferior and could not comfortably converse with him. But the information that Klaus passed on to Raymond was invaluable. As unlike with Ursula, where Klaus used to pass on information only about the work that he was doing, with Raymond Klaus provided specific information about building of the Atom bomb, the process of obtaining Uranium 235 and ultimately Plutonium from Uranium 238. This was invaluable information for the Soviets as they had huge quantities of U-238 but had no idea how to obtain U-235 from it.

There was a gap in their meetings as Fuchs and other scientists shifted to Los Alamos where the real work was going on. They were working on two types of bombs. The "Little Boy" which used Uranium - 235 , was dropped on Hiroshima and "Fat Man" which used Plutonium, was dropped on Nagasaki. A third bomb known as the "Gadget" was to be used for testing. It was here that Edward Teller proposed the idea of the Hydrogen Bomb referred as "The Super" at that time. Klaus thought the idea of "The Super" to be remote and far fetched. After the successful test of the Gadget, Scientists were slowly sent back. Klaus was also in the process of winding up his work and looking forward to go back to England. But before he went back, he had one very important job to finish. He had to meet Raymond!

He met Raymond for the last time on a bridge in Santa Fe. The information that he passed on here is believed to be the entire plans to build the "Fat Man" with his comments as to how certain processes could be done in a better way. On his return to England, Micheal Perrin started to build Los Alamos type of Laboratory at a place called Harwell so that the Nuclear Research could be carried forward. Klaus was made the Assistant Director of the project. The next three years went smoothly for Klaus. He still provided information to the Soviets, but this information was of not much importance. He slowly reduced his contacts with the Soviets and they in turn were no more interested in having Klaus in their ring of spies.

As early as in 1944 the Americans had intercepted coded messages sent by the Russian Embassy. But they were unable to decode these messages. It was only in 1949 that they were able to decode the messages. The result astounded everybody. The messages mentioned several damaging contents. They also mentioned a British Nuclear Scientist who was supplying information to the Soviets. The Americans immediatley alerted the MI6 about this and they in turn started observing Klaus. It was at this time that Klaus feeling somewhat disturbed, met William Skardon of MI5. Skardon was sure that Klaus was the British Nuclear Scientist mentioned in the intercepts made by the Americans. Skardon played pressure games with Klaus over several meetings threatening and coaxing him into admitting his guilt. It was in one such meeting in January 1950 that Klaus Fuchs admitted that he had been spying for the Soviets since 1942. He signed a confession acceptiong his guilt. Klaus Fuchs was brought on trial on 1st March 1950. His trial lasted for less than two hours. Klaus assumed that the punishment for his guilt would be death. But the British laws allowed only life-imprisonment as the maximum punishment. Klaus was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Despite being sentenced to 14 years, Klaus was released in June 1959 for good behaviour. Within two days he left Britain for East Germany. Two days later, he became a citizen of the East German Republic. A month later, he was made assistant director of the Institute for Nuclear Physics near Dresden. Ten days later, he married an old friend from his Paris days, Greta Keilson. He settled into a quiet life of science and domesticity. He was honoured by the East German Republic. He was decorated with the Order of Karl Marx in 1979. Klaus Fuchs died in January 1988 at the age of 76 years.

The importance of the information passed by Klaus to the Soviets has been widely debated. Some feel that the information was not of much importance as the Soviets already had advanced knowledge on Nuclear Physics. Others believe that Klaus' information advanced Soviets achieving Nuclear Capability by atleast two years if not more. Still others believe that the information was invaluable for the Soviets without which their Nuclear Project was doomed. Though appaled by the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, Klaus believed that by passing the information, he had helped achieve a balance in the world. In doing so he ensured that never again would mankind use a Nuclear Weapon again...

scientists The biggest irony of Manhattan Project is that some of the greatest physicts of our era be it Eienstien, Feynmaan, Niels Bhor etc. were all involved in creating of a weapon which led to the most horrific and destructive action - The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

Until next week .... Cherio

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Man a Heroic Being

Last week my friend had put a post on his blog Avyukta which he ended by the following sentence: We are not who we think we are. We are what others think we are.

My beliefs and convictions do not allow me to digest this statement. I posted a reply stating my reservations about the statement. Subsequently we exchanged a very healthy and informative exchange of views to bring forth each one's perspective. The conversation has not yet ended and this post of mine is an attempt to clarify as to why I believe it is very dangerous to even think that one should live by the above statement. The title of this post, the plot and content revolves around "The FountainHead" a masterpiece by "Ayn Rand".

The essence of Ayn Rand's philosophy is the concept of Man as a Heroic Being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

The Fountainhead has four central characters through which Rand presents different types of men in society. These characters are:

  • Howard Roark - Man as he ought to be
  • Peter Keating - Who seeks greatness through approval of others
  • Ellsworth M Toohey - Who seeks to destroy greatness by glorifying mediocrity
  • Gail Wynand - Who could have been great, but comprised his virtues by selling his soul

Peter Keating who has had a great start to his career, by graduating top of his class from a premier architectural institute and landing a job in one of the top architectural firms, is always unsure about his actions and goal in life. In his childhood he wanted to be an artist, but he choose architecture because his mother considered it to be a more nobler profession. His rise in his firm is fast and very soon he becomes a partner in his firm. The rise in no way is because of his ability in his profession but his ability to be as people want him to be. He is a great manipulator, who deceives his colleagues. He uses flattery to win favors from his bosses. His chief concern is approval of others. He is willing to sell his beliefs at the drop of the hat to seek approval of others. He is a second hander who needs others to even think. He cannot even think for himself. He is easily manipulated by Ellsworth M Toohey. Ellsworth knows that he does not have it in himself to achieve greatness, to add something worthwhile to the society. So he seeks to destroy greatness itself. Through his column in a newspaper, he glorifies people like Peter Keating and other second handers. He wages a war against Howard Roark and Gail Wynand.

Howard Roark does not worry about what others think about him or his work. He does not seek approval or opinion of others, even his friends. It is not that he doesn't like people or enjoy their company. But he understands people and needs them only for the work they provide. He derives joy through his work and others opinion about his work does not matter to him. He befriends those people in whom he sees the same ideals by which he lives. He helps a young struggling sculptor Steven Mallory when he himself is in dire straits. When asked by another friend that how come he helps Steven, but refuses to accept any help from others, Howard explains that a sculptor does not require people to give him work. He can work for himself, but in contrast an architect needs others to give him work. He believes that by protecting Steven from self destruction, he is not doing charity but being very selfish because even he derives joy from Steven's work.

I have read "The Fountainhead" many times, but I still feel that I have a long way to go before I fully understand the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Moreover I believe that I should expierience my life and formulate my own views and ideals about my life. But one thing that I do understand is that I cannot live by anyone else's views, opinions and perspectives. People see me differently, for someone I may be a hero, someone may hate my guts, someone may think that I am the most useless person on planet earth. Does it make a difference, or change what I am. It does if I think about these things or am bothered by them, and therein lies the danger. I will not be me if I start doing things with others in mind. Does it mean that opinions and perspectives of others are meaningless for me? I am going to buy a CD-Writer soon. In my buying process I am going to ask my others who have owned a CD-Writer or used a CD-Writer about their opinion about the brand that they own. Taking these into account I will make my decision. But I am not going to ask others opinions in matters about my life or living.

Because we live in an open society and are being continiously seen by others, it is very easy to be self-conscious. People tend to live a guarded life because of this. At the end of the day nobody but yourself matters to you. Parents,relatives and even friends don't matter. If you can say to yourself with conviction that I have lived this day honestly by my ideals, you do not have to worry about anything else. To even have the consciousness that I am not what I am, but I am what others think I am, is very very dangerous. With this awareness your subconscious may make you do things differently. I may be a fool in someone else's eyes or a hero in someone else's eye. I don't care about either of them! I do not want to even be aware of them cause it may lead me to compromise what I am.

Around a year back, I attended a Seminar on Web Services by a speaker from IBM. He said that all softwares that were to be created have already been created and we are moving into an age of Integration. The future for software professionals lies only in integrating existing softwares. I was agast listening to this. To even think that nothing new will be developed is the lowest form of depravity. The human mind is too great to stop creating. Man is civilised not because we live in society but because the human mind is the most advanced and creative. It overcomes every hurdle. It seeks new challenges and frontiers and has the perseverance to overcome them. I salute all those inventors who have enriched our lives. But I also do know that when they invented, they did not have people in mind. Their work was their ultimate joy.

I am aware of my strengths and shorcomings. I know what I want to achieve in life. I will strive towards my goal. On this journey I will require people but only for providing me with work and means to achieve my goal. I do not need them to provide me encouragement or console me through my down falls or pat my back on my achievements. I will live by my own rules. What others think of me or see me as is of no consequence to me.

Until next week !


Sunday, March 06, 2005

Beware the Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March

This famous line from Julius Caesar has a very important meaning for me. They remind me of horrible and good and funny incident of my life, which in hindsight taught me a lot. Read on... But Beware the Ides of March .

This incident happened in Nagpur when I was in the 12th standard. I was a student of Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan. They say "Bad habits are easy to acquire but very hard too leave....". How true! From my 4th till 10th I was in Bombay (Navi Mumbai to be accurate) where I was a decent enough student and basically a good guy. Life was cool (Basically life was basketball, TableTennis, Treks, Debates etc). Studies used to happen somehow or the other without too much effort. After my tenth we shifted to Jaipur where I got admission in a school which was considered to be the third best school of Jaipur. My first day in School was a cultural shock!! English in School - Nonexistant. Uniform - your Discretion. Attending Classes - you would be considered a freak if you attend all the classes of the day. Bunking School - Compulsorily once a week, preferably on Friday to see the latest movie release. Usage of Slangs in Speach - Are you nuts!! A sentence is not grammatically correct if it does not contain at least one slang. Well these were few of my observations. They say "When in Rome do as the Romans do". Within a week I became one of the crowd. Doing things as my classmates did. Buddies for life and Rowdies for ever!!

Circumstances forced us to shift to Nagpur, and that's where I was for my 12th. Very much in sync with my ways of Jaipur, I landed up for school in Nagpur. My first day in school was a cultural shock for the entire school! BVM (my school) is a very orthodox and methodical place. Everybody well behaved (well mostly), decency personified. And me!! I stood out like a sore thumb. Within a week I was infamous! I was in the bad books of every teacher. It took me a long time to make amends. Slowly I started behaving and carrying myself in a manner which was acceptable.

Months rolled on and soon it was annual day time. The whole place had a buzz. The annual day in BVM used to be a mega affair. A whole auditorium would be booked for three days. Day 1 - Dress Rehearsal, Day 2 - Annual Day for primary school and Day 3 - Annual Day for Secondary school. Our English teacher was planning a play, and for some reason she thought I should be a part of it. My interests lied somewhere else. I wanted to be the Compere for the show as the lady Compere was a person in whom I was very much interested. But what to do... the English teacher was hell bent upon having me in the play! When she told me that they were going to enact "Julius Caesar", I freaked out!!

Reading has been a passion for me right from childhood. I grew up on Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, Three Investigators, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christe in my school days. My reading domain also constituted of some classics like Count of Monte Cristo (I had read the orignal 1400 pages version), Captains Courageous and likes. But Shakespeare was a big NO for me. With all due respect to the great man and all Shakespearians, he is good but not everybody can like him. I had tried to read Hamlet, I couldn't go beyond the first few pages. So knowing that the plan was to enact Julius Caesar and that too in pure Shakespearian language, it just wasn't my cup of tea. She asked me to just have an audition, and then the whole play committee would make the final decision. I saw my escape route. I would just have to mispronounce some words, stutter a bit and bingo! they would throw me out of the play. The next day I was given a script which had around 15 lines. I must have made atleast 20 mistakes while reading the script and stuttered many times. After having finished splendidly (as per my objective), I had a smirk on my face which said, you would be a fool to select me after that. I was totally dumbstruck when the teacher came to me and said that I would fit the bill perfectly for the role of "BRUTUS". Brutus!!!

Half knowledge is very dangerous

Brutus!!!. Things could have been worse. She could have selected me for the Role of Caesar!! That would be even worse. These were my thoughts as the inital shock wore off. My knowledge of Julius Caesar was pretty limited for reasons mentioned above. As far as Brutus was concerned all that I knew was that he killed Caesar, which was cool for me, and that made him the villain. My reasoning was simple, if I portray the villain it means that I won't have to mouth a lot of dialogs. At the same time my visibility would be pretty decent. Things were not so bad after all. So I gave my consent thinking that I might as well enjoy the whole thing!

The next day the scripts were handed over to us and final castings were decided. Two items and two more shocks for me. The smaller of the shock was that the role of Portia, wife of Brutus, was to be played by a girl with whom I had had a spat early on in the year and we were not at all on talking terms. When her name was annonced for the role of Portia, I burst out complaining to my teacher. I was properly castigated by my teacher and the stare that I got from that girl!!
The bigger shock was the script itself. Brutus was everywhere in the script! Brutus had more dialogs than the great Caesar himself. And there was a big speech in the final act. Half of the words in that speech didn't make sense to me! The whole world was crashing around me. There had to be some mistake. I mean if Brutus had so much to speak, then the play would be called BRUTUS and not Julius Caesar. When I took this matter up with my teacher, she looked at me as if I was from Mars! She asked me hadn't I ever read Julius Caesar? Didn't I know that the story continued much after Caesar's death. I was cursing myself. Half knowledge is dangerous. I should have got my facts right before commiting anything.

Miserable hours were spent in learning those toungue twisting lines. The rehearsals were even worse. One scene involved Portia on her knees saying something to Brutus after which he has to lift her, look into her eyes and say a dialog. That used to be really awkward. We hated each other like anything, and on top of that to enact a scene like this! The speech was another tough thing to master. I mean simple english would have been still ok, but that shakespearian language was really tough. Somehow days rolled on and with each passing day, Julius Caesar was less of a pain.

As I said the annual day was a three day affair. On friday we had the Dress Rehearsal in the auditorium and on sunday was the play. At the same time inter-school cricket matches were also going on. On Friday our school had a match. I was a part of the team. Now don't get this wrong. I am not much of a cricket player, but the team captain was my bench mate. So after lot of pleading and coercing I forced him to take me in the playing eleven. My time on the field was miserable. We batted first, I scored 2 runs before being bowled out. During our fielding I dropped a catch and misfielded couple of times. For some unexplainable reason the ball had fallen in love with me. Whereever my captain tried to hide me on the field, the ball managed to find me, but my hands never seemed to find the ball. Our coach was pulling his hair and I am sure whenever the ball came towards my direction, he would be taking gods name a hundred times per second. During the drinks break I got the firing of my life. My captain tried to substitue me, but the umpire obviously enjoying my fiascos refused my substitution saying lousy fielding did not qualify as valid reason for substitution. The only highpoint of the match was when a ball was hit towards me, the batsmen were so confident that I would misfield, they were walking while taking the run. I somehow managed to field properly, and by some divine intervention my throw hit the stumps. The batsman who was run-out just couldn't believe his bad luck. Inspite of me, we won the match. Our celebrations were short as most of us were also part of the annual day, and had to rush off to the auditorium.

My first action on reaching the auditorium was to pour a jar of cold water on my head. I had to wash away the agonies of the day. It felt good. We were supposed to go on stage at around 6.00 pm. We had put on the dress and were sitting, watching the other items being performed. Somehow I was not feeling very comfortable. I was feeling very cold and started shivering. Now this was unusual. So I went to get a cup of coffee. When I told my friends that I was feeling very cold, one of them touched my forehead and then shouted Madam! Saurabh has got high fever. She stared at me and said that this was not the time for playing pranks. She came over and checked, indeed I had fever (On checking at the doctor's place it was actually 103 C). I was rushed off to the doctor (who happened to be my cousin). When I told him about my foolishness of pouring cold water after a day out in the sun and then rushing into an AC room, he first scolded me, then gave a few pills and asked me to take complete rest. I went back to my granny's place, and the entire Caesar crew was there. Panic had set in. If Brutus can't make it then who will kill Caesar? The optimists in the crew believed that having one whole day in hand I would recover and be able to take part in the play. The pessimists decided to start practising with the prompter as Brutus, as he was the person who had almost the entire script mugged up. On hearing this the prompter got cold feet. My teacher had totally lost her nerve. On seeing all this pandemonium my granny freaked out. I was the center of attraction. Portia my wife of the play, who hadn't talked to me for most part of the year, was sitting beside my bed and mopping my head with cold water. This attention continued through to the next two days. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling much better and was able to move around. A car was sent to pick me up. After dressing up, I was made to sit quitely in a corner. Around three glasses of Glucose were given to me in a period of half an hour before the play. The play went of well. I did not make any goof-ups. There was a general relief all around. Except me. I was in misery! Remember the three glasses of Glucose before the play. All through the play I was fighting the urge to rush to the restroom!

The Roman ruler, Julius Caesar, was assassinated on the Ides of March, but for me the play was one of the most interesting incidents of my life.

On retrospection this incidence has taught me a lot. Since then I don't commit to anything unless and until I have all the facts cause "Half knowledge is really dangerous"!!

Until next week