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aut me aut nihil

aut me aut nihil = Either me or nothing. no,no... me not boosting. me have an inferiority complex and trying to compensate :D 

Friday, April 18, 2008 - 18:35

Chaos theory

Chapter - I
"Oh no! You booked second a/c? I hate the a/c class in the train."
"What? I thought you liked train rides." said my younger brother.
"Yeah, I do.. but the people in the a/c class are just too pretentious. They don't let you be and chatter away to glory."
"People are like that everywhere. You have a problem."
" 'I did my engineering in IIT..', 'You know whats wrong with the American economy..', 'Here is my visiting card..', these kind of look-how-successful-im topics never comes up in the sleeper class. I don't have a problem, these people are so phony."
"You sound like a protagonist from a JD Salinger novel. But I think you are just intimidated shitless. Now willya hurry up... you only got ten more minutes."
I smiled at his remark knowing he was right and followed him into the station. As I was searching for the platform number he suddenly jerked me and said, "You believe in coincidence? You see that girl? She was standing next to me in the reservation queue when I was booking your ticket. She is gorgeous, isn't she?"
"Yeah, she is..."

Chapter - II
"... my daughter." said the father.
"Here's my visiting card. Wonder the other passenger is boarding or not?" he continued.
I almost rolled my eyes when I took his visiting card and gave it a customary glance. "You are a doctor.", I said wondering was I supposed to add an rhetorical adjective like 'how wonderful?'.
"Yes", replied the doctor before I'd time to add anything. "I practice in the US. We settled there after I finished my medicine in India. In fact this is my daughter's first trip to India."
That explains the branded jeans, t-shirt and the petite figure I thought. And why she looked generally annoyed by the surroundings. It was a genuine first-time-in-India-ABCD look.
A tall well-built man entered our compartment followed by another stocky guy carrying the luggages. The later placed the bags under the seat and stood to attention. "Sir, the train will reach the destination at 0545 tomorrow. I'll be here by 0530 sir.", he said. Then he gave a proper military style salute and left.
The intimidation factor of the compartment just went sky high. A successful doctor and a high-ranking military officer.

Chapter - III
".. you lucky bastard. She is traveling in the same compartment as you." interjected my brother while trying to get a better glimpse of her standing in the platform.
"If I were lucky she'll be traveling alone. I'm sure that old man with her is her father and he is traveling along." I said.
"Get her phone number ok?" remarked my overly optimistic brother ignoring me.
"Yeah right. Anything else?"
"You think this is a mere coincidence? The hand of fate has made you and her be in the same train on the same compartment on the same day. Don't blow this."
"If fate went to all that trouble for me then why should it matter what I do? If it was meant to be it'll be. The simpler explanation is that everything is a coincidence."
"Coincidence or fate this sort of thing never happens to me."
"You do realize that it can only be one of them." I said, wanting to change the topic.
"What are you talking about?" asked my brother taking the bait.
"Coincidence or fate. They are mutually exclusive. The world cannot both be chaos and ordered at the same time. You either have free will or not." I answered.


Chapter - IV
"Are you going to be father?" asked the doctor to the Major. "I see you are reading a book on toddler care."
Actually I did't know or care whether he was Major or a General or a Sergent. No sooner than the formalities of introductions were over I took my upper berth opposite the doctor's daughter and began eavesdropping on their conversation.
"Yes, my wife and I are expecting our first child any day now." said the Major.
"Congratulations!"
"Thank you doctor. I'm very excited."
"You know when I was a kid I wanted to join the military. I wanted to be an officer like you for the longest time. I don't know why I studied medicine." confessed the doctor.
The major let out a small laugh and said, "Really? Guess the grass is always greener on the other side."
"Really. I liked the discipline and the respect that goes with the military. Even after all these years when the other soldier gave you a salute I got goosebumps."
They both fell silent for a while, probably because of the doctor's candid revelations before the doctor spoke up again.
"So, do you know whether it is a boy or a girl?"
"No, we don't know. But I'm hoping it is a girl."
"Haan... of course!" said the doctor matter of fact.
"Its interesting isn't it. The father always wants a daughter and the mother insists that it would be a boy. Why do you think that is?" asked the major.
The doctor was silent for a while and then I heard some incoherent whispers. He was telling the major the answer to his question but he didn't want me or his daughter to hear it. I began to wonder what could possibly be so secretive about this.

Chapter - V
"Haven't you heard of chaos theory?" asked my brother. As any self respecting engineer would agree, I had succeeded in getting his mind off a girl with physics.
"Yeah, are you saying events of the world only appear to be random? A butterfly wing flap is the cause of a tornado."
"Yeah, thats what I'm saying. Destiny."
"I don't believe in destiny... I think everything is just a coincidence."
"You don't believe in destiny?"
"Nope. Its a crackpot idea."
"For a guy who likes train rides it is pretty strange that you don't believe in destiny."
"What? What do you mean by that?" It was my turn to be bemused.
"Oops! there goes the green light..."

Chapter - VI
"Couldn't sleep?" asked a voice from behind me.
I was standing outside my compartment in the corridor staring at the moon through the window. It was well past midnight and owing to my insomnia I was thinking about the riddle my brother made before boarding .
I turned around and saw the daughter strode to a stop near me.
"Yeah. I'm nocturnal." I said. "Looks like you are still adjusting to jet lag." I suggested noticing how fresh her eyes looked.
"Yes. I'm supposed to be fighting to urge to be awake... but I couldn't. Hope I'm not disturbing you."
"Absolutely not. I appreciate your company. I was just watching the moon. I love train rides because I can come out and watch the moon in the night. So how do you like India so far?" I asked.
She was silent for a while preparing her answer I presumed.
"I guess it is ok. This is my first time here and want to like it."
"But you haven't found out yet why people like it so much?" I asked.
"I want to like India, don't take me wrong.. but I don't have a good reason yet. My dad, for instance has nostalgia. He talks as if it is his destiny to come back to India."
I smilied at her comment and liked that she needed a reason to like. "Destiny! I don't believe in destiny."
"You like train rides and you don't believe in destiny. Odd combination, ain't it?" she said.
"What did you just say?"

Chapter - VII
"Hey bro, I got the answer. Ifound out what you meant by train ride and destiny." I said into the phone.
"You must have got off the train just now. Did you not sleep?" my brother said sleepily.
"I also got her phone number."
"You are kidding me! Really?" I could imagine him spring up from lying down.
"And it was her who told me the connection."
"She did? What did she say?"

Chapter - IX
"You are smiling rather lively. Whats the matter?" asked the doctor to his daughter.
We were all disembarking from the train at the destination and I was within earshot range to hear them talk.
"I think I'm beginning to like India." she answered.
"Wow! Thats great. Seems like this morning is a good start. You remember the soldier who was carrying the bags for the other person in our compartment."
"Yeah"
"Well, he woke me up instead of him and gave me a salute this morning. I almost felt like a military officer." he said, smiling heartily himself.
Right then the major walked past us and greeted the doctor. "Good morning doctor. Pleasure to have met you."
"Likewise." he said. He then crossed his fingers and added, "Daughter!"
The major smiled and replied, "Daughter!"

Chapter - X
"People like train journey because they are assured of the destination. The tracks of railway line is the key. People feel comfortable knowing that there is a system in place that'll guide them to the destination no matter what. It is same as the belief in destiny." I said paraphrasing the conversation I had with the daughter.
My brother was silent for a while, most probably wide-eyed amazed by the answer, and then continued, "The more disorderly the chaos the simpler the explanation."


Disclaimer: Although I traveled with a NRI father & daughter pair and a military officer in the a/c coach some years ago nothing else in the story is true. As much as I would like this to be an inspiration by Kamal's movie Dasaavatharam, it is not.
It took only four years for this story to make the distance from cerebrum to paper. But finally I got the confident to have five characters and break the word limit I set myself.. I'm happy with how it turned out. And I almost forgot the dedication... this one goes to all my Pune friends.

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