Sunday, May 29, 2011

Short Stories # 2: The Rich and The Poor

"The Rich and The Poor"

One fine night on a trip to the countryside, a Mercedes was the only car in sight in the vast, isolated area. In it were a father and his son, belonging to a very wealthy family. Suddenly, the lone figure of the car stopped moving. It had broken down. Sensing that there was no way out other than spending the night at a broken down inn a few metres away, the Father approached the caretaker of the inn. The old figure warmly welcomed his unexpected visitors and told them that they could spend the night there.

The next morning, the duo left the inn in the afternoon after their car had been repaired. On reaching their palatial mansion in the city, the father asked his son, "Did you see how the poor live?"

The son replied, "Hmm... Yes."

"What did you observe, son?"

"I saw that they had dogs, cows, buffaloes, cats and other animals at their place whereas we have only a pair of parrots."

"We have all this artificial lighting while they have the rich sky and the stars at night."

"We have a small swimming pool while I saw a river and a waterfall near their place."

"They can wander in their endless fields while I am confined to a small room."

"We buy all our food from the supermarket, they grow their own food."

"The boy there has 3 siblings to play with, while I am all alone."

The Father was speechless. Then the boy added, "Thanks, Pa. Today I learnt how poor we are."

Hard truth: There are always two sides of a coin. Never ignore either.

The above short story is a modified version of a popular folktale.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mangoes, Mangoes Everywhere!

"Why a MANGO is King of Fruit!"

"A blogpost on Mangoes in General, recounting my experience collecting mangoes from trees in our ancestral farm"

Come summer, and one visitor is eagerly awaited in everybody's homes. A fleshly, luscious, ripe, yellow, drop-shaped, round visitor. YES, its edible. I think you must be thinking of eating one now. Why, you may have it right in front of you, cut up, all yellow, just ready to pop into that mouth! A Mango is on everyone's dinner plate!

Low in Calories, rich in Vitamins A, B, C and minerals Potassium, Iron, Phosphorous, Calcium and Magnesium, this treat has been around for the past 6,000 years. Its native to India (and if its not grown around you, you have the right to question our madness!), and grows mainly in the tropics. India is also the world's largest producer and exporter of this delicacy. Dont fret, Mangoes have been proven to be helpful in weight loss, so no fuss there!

There is no other fruit as versatile as the Mango. It can be eaten raw, unripe, ripe, can be pickled, be made into chutneys, smoothies, ice-creams, aamras and even the leaf of the tree is used as a cultural symbol.

Plucking some mangoes from a neighbor's tree is a very common practice here. It usually results in the owner running behind the hoodlums and the hoodlums running away, taunting the owner as they run along to their safe haven. Another practice involves throwing down a mango using a sling and a perfectly aimed projectile. Such activities today are a rarity in the city. Since then Mango cultivation has become specialised, with the tasy cultivars (varities) like Alphonso, Rampuri, Pairi and Mankur being confined to 10 acre farms somewhere in the remote corners of the village.

Plucking those mangoes out directly from the trees requires you owning either a mango tree, or a farm. Every year, around the third week of May, our family (some 15-30 of them) chalk out a program which starts with all of us going to out ancestral farm in a little known village called Shirgao, some 100 km from Kolhapur, Maharashtra; then gathering some local help (those trees are more than 50 feet you know, climbing them needs some local knowledge); collecting and dividing the stuff; then heading back home, sure that the rest of the summer won't be 'Mangoless.'

It was my first time to Shirgao this May 26. Like any other Indian village, it was a scenic place. Lush sugarcane fields spanning the breadth of the village, all clustered with huts and small canals for irrigation. In between two sugarcane fields in the north of the village, is a mango tree (Magnifera Indica) farm consisting of about 15 trees. As excited and curious as ever, I wasted much of my time climbing the tree picking mangoes though I only could reach the 2nd branch!). After procuring some fruit catchers, I spent the rest of my time picking mangoes from my ground base, catching the mangoes the locals dropped, and also managed to click some snaps, along with a trip to an adjacent corn farm to get that moolah!

Then around lunchtime, rain clouds made their majestic entry from the horizon. From then on, the people jumped into overdrive to safely deposit whatever that had been collected into the cars. Then it started raining. Lightning followed. Getting wet was FUN, and inevitable. After 8hours, MORE THAN 500 DOZEN (6000) MANGOES and 2 trees still left to strip, we had to leave.

And for the following two days until the car was washed, the smell of unripe mangoes RULED. Now the wait is restricted for another week, until Green turns to Magical Yellow!

Till then, there will be, Mangoes, Mangoes, Everywhere and the smell of Mangoes in the Air!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Short Stories # 1: Piecing the Earth Together

"Piecing the Earth Together"

A Father was having a meeting with a client, when his little boy came to him, wanting to play with him. His father, already frustrated, tore a page from the newspaper which bore the image of the Earth, made several pieces of it, and handed it to his son. He gave him some scotch tape and told him to put back the image together, hoping that it would keep him occupied for atleast 10 minutes. He resumed his meeting.

After about 15 minutes, the boy returned, with a perfect image of the Earth. Knowing that his 4-year old son could not have done it, he asked, "Has your Mother done this?"

The child replied, "No. She's sleeping from the past hour or so. I don't even know what that blue, round thing is. I saw a picture of an elephant on the back of the page, so I put it together and found out that the round thing was there again."

Both the father and his client smiled at the child's innocence. The little boy couldn't figure out why they were so happy, let alone the strong level of common sense that he had used.

You don't have to be a learned one to do something, using a bit of common sense, curiosity and innocence would do better!

The above piece of writing is an integrated version, combined from two separate short stories.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Everything That Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

"Why the Murphy's Law is SO true"

You've Heard it countless times. You've probably experienced this. Ever wondered why anything that can go wrong, does? Blame Murphy's Law.

After giving you some examples, you will begin to appreciate it. Have you ever arrived at the railway station in time to see the last train depart? Has your printer run out of ink just when you want to print something important? Have you ever forgot to carry a tool/important thing with you and it haunts you for the rest of your time? Have you noticed that the furthest parking lot is the closest one? And why does the queue you are standing in go the slowest? A more common experience is that one bad thing leads to another, which ruins the first task you were doing.

If you have ever wondered why bad luck keeps on haunting you and not all goes the way you planned, then that is a result of Murphy's Law. It is an eponymous law named after Edward Murphy Junior, an aerospace engineer who worked on safety systems. One day, after finding that machinery was wired wrong, he cursed the technician responsible and quoted, "If there is any way to do it wrong, he'll find it." There are Murphy laws also on Love, War, Photography, Politics e.t.c. Well, laws like these have explanations, but they are what thinkers call 'preposterous.' If you browse through some explanations on the internet, you will find that mathematics agrees with this law.

But why is this law so true? OK, its NOT perfectly accurate but it holds. It is very true that the first 90% of a job takes 10% of the time, and the next 10% of the job takes 90% of the time. Personally, I do not think this has anything to do with 'God' or his 'Free Will.' This is just a natural human tendency. Widely regarded explanations on the law are based on Human Tendencies and Mathematics/Statistics.

We humans basically tend to look at the negative side of things and ignore the good that is happening out of it. I quote three examples to support this.

1. I tried making a Van De Graff Generator with my friend Raj and ended up learning that it won't work due to Goa's high humidity. Well, I was disappointed and blamed the Murphy's Law. But I also failed to extract the knowledge and satisfaction I had gained from this.

2. Also, while in a traffic jam, you tend to think that the other queue of cars always goes faster than yours. Well, you don't notice simple things, for eg. that there are double the cars in the other queue than yours, or that you are moving relative to the other cars.

Also, I have noticed that while focusing a telescope on a celestial object, the clouds seem to hit that PARTICULAR region of the sky. There are forecasts and ways to predict the movements of clouds. Well, the next point is Statistics. Probablility. There are various logical justifications, axioms and postulates in Statistics which may conjure up something. Well, I am no Statistician, but anyways, here goes:

1. Appeal to Probability states that when an assumption says that something will happen because it does, then the odds of occurrence are in favour of that assumption.

2. Confirmation Bias is a proven tendency for people to favour information that confirms their hypotheses rather than finding out whether that is the case.

3. There is also a saying that "If you lose a sock, its from the complete pair". Well, consider this. Start with 10 pairs. Remove one sock out. 19 socks are thus left, 18 of them which belong to pairs. Now, there is a 94.4% chance that the next sock you remove is from a complete pair.

4. Consider the above statements, and you get many versions of the Murphy's Law. Famous ones are Finagle's Law and the Cutout Syndrome (the topic for my next post).

Well, Murphy's Law or No Murphy's Law, this fact is something we HAVE to live with. Call it a logical fallacy or the work of nature, the chances are that next time you start doing some work, it will end up the wrong way! Just give it an ironic smile and MOVE ON, that's all that you can do!

Till Then, Later!

Atharv Joshi

Any comments in form of praise or criticism are welcome, so are logical debates and further experiences, also do share your experiences of this law. The article is part sourced from the internet, part original writing.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Constructing a 20 Degree Angle using Ruler and Compass

Ahoy there readers! This can be labelled as the first 'constructive' post of my blog. Yes Indeed, it is literally "CONSTRUCTIVE".

I will be showing you an extremely simple method to Draw a 20-Degree Angle using Ruler and Compass only in 4 steps. This method is my own, and I came across it sometime in 6th grade when I 'misconstructed' a 30-degree angle. Till now, after hours of searching, I have yet not found a proper method of constructing a 20-degree angle with ruler and compass on the internet. Before revealing the method, I will try to give an introduction to Compass and Straightedge construction. Before beginning, let me make it clear that I am no mathematician, and you are free to criticize any aspect of this post.

Compass-and-straightedge or ruler-and-compass construction is the construction of lengths, angle, and other geometric figures using only a ruler and compass. This was the classical Greek way of Geometry. But the Greeks did not find constructions for three problems, one of them being Angle Trisection. Angle Trisection is still considered impossible, and so is constructing a 20 degree angle with compass and straightedge.

Angles that can be constructed by Compass and Straightedge are 15,30,45,60,90,120,150,180 degrees and some other angles can be constructed by Bisection (for eg. 7.5 degrees, 22.5 degrees e.t.c). Constructing a 20 degree angle can help you in constructing 10,40,50,70,80,100,110,130,140,160,170 degree angles with only a Ruler and Compass (and your pencil)!

Given below is my method of carrying out the construction of a 20 degree angle using a straightedge and compass. It is very accurate and you get a perfect measure everytime! Readers, feel free to criticize, point out mistakes and also, don't forget to Praise! And hey, also make an effort to see if this construction had been carried out before (and comment below, please)!

The figures below are my own work, and are not perfect drawings, and the image is only a representation, not an actual geometric construction.


1. Step 1:

- Draw a line segment PQ. With centre O, Draw an arc of any length using your compass an
d label it as AB.

2. Step 2:

- Keeping your compass wide open with the same length, draw an arc S on AB. This will be your normal 60 Degree angle arc. (If you join S to O, you will get an angle measuring 60 degrees i.e. Angle SOB).

3. Step 3:

- Bisect the 60 degree angle and name the point of intersection as J. J will be your normal 30 degree arc. (After bisecting the 60 degree angle, if you join J to O you will get an angle measuring 30 degrees i.e. Angle JOB).

Till Step 3, it was a normal construction. Step 4 is where the 'Twist' occurs!!!

4. Step 4:

- Join the arc J to A, and there you have it! Angle JAB is your 20 degree angle! Now you can easily construct angles measuring 10,40,50,70,80,100,110,130,140,160,170 degrees!

PS. If you still didn't understand the construction, or have any queries, mail me at


Friday, May 20, 2011

Introducing Before We Begin!

Citizens of the Universe! Let there be Light!

Going by the Anthropic Principle, the Universe is a special, vast and FUNNY place. Yet, for 100 questions asked, only 10 of them can be answered. All of us are Wired Differently, much like the gadgets we use.

You'll find both the Elegance of Relativity and The Weirdness of Quantum Mechanics in this blog... Almost everything under the Light is covered here... from weird laws to weekly videos to cutting-edge Modern Physics to latest technology to cute short stories to not so Geeky DIY Stuff...

Oh! Me? I am your normal next-door guy with an Abnormal thirst of curiosity. I possess a deep interest for whatever that interests me! Living in Goa, India, I am an amateur astronomer, quizzer, numismatist, philatelist and blogger. Trying to cough up some original writings through this blog.


Atharv Joshi