Sunday, February 3, 2013
“In 2002, having spent more than three years in one residence for the first time in my life, I got called for jury duty. I show up on time, ready to serve. When we get to the voir dire, the lawyer says to me, “I see you’re an astrophysicist. What’s that?” I answer, "Astrophysics is the laws of physics, applied to the universe—the Big Bang, black holes, that sort of thing.” Then he asks, “What do you teach at Princeton?” and I say, “I teach a class on the evaluation of evidence and the relative unreliability of eyewitness testimony.” Five minutes later, I’m on the street.
A few years later, jury duty again. The judge states that the defendant is charged with possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine. It was found on his body, he was arrested, and he is now on trial. This time, after the Q&A is over, the judge asks us whether there are any questions we’d like to ask the court, and I say, “Yes, Your Honor. Why did you say he was in possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine? That equals 1.7 grams. The ‘thousand’ cancels with the ‘milli-’ and you get 1.7 grams, which is less than the weight of a dime.” Again I’m out on the street.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Though it was tuesday, the environment at home was like sunday, may be because I was resting at home. I did nothing else than having breakfast and listening to some music, from the morning till afternoon. And then I heard someone knocking the door (yes, the doorbell is not working for last five years). I opened the door to find two grand mothers of our neighborhood standing in front. They are not just grand mothers but mothers-in-law too. They had come to talk to my mother but she was outside, washing the clothes. They got my grandmother, mother-in-law of my mother, resting on the bed. So the three mothers-in-law pulled each other to conversation.
I specifically mentioned them as mothers-in-law because the conversation they were having was about their respective daughter-in-law. It is not difficult to guess what would be the matter of discussion between women of seventies; obviously complaints about their daughters-in-law! Each one of them took their turn to explain how disobedient their in-law are, while other two listened with utmost care. Questioning is the most disturbing nature of their daughters-in-law for them, and it was also the core of the discussion.
It may be rare or even impossible to see such lively conversation between old women complaining about their daughters-in-laws in the western countries. But in India, where feudal values are still dominant in social sphere, such conversations are as common as dawn and dusk. The mothers-in-law expect their daughters-in-law to be obedient housekeepers and follow their commands at once without questions. They also enforce their dominance from the start and hence they find mistakes in every work of the daughter-in-law and punish them badly. So when it comes to marriage, it is not the boy or girl who decide their partner but their parents! The consent of boy or girl is of no value in the marriage. So love marriage is still looked as a sin here, expect in some highly westernized cities.
The three mothers-in-law continued their conversation while my mother prepared tea for them. After sipping the tea, the neighbors admired my grandmother for getting a daughter-in-law like my mother. Of course, that means that my mother has come through the hardship as an in-law to my grandmother in last twenty five years. But still not satisfied, my grandma lamented with dissatisfaction. At the mean time, I walked in to my room from outside. Looking at me, my grandma said that I would get a good wife. I couldn't control my laugh when the other two commented at once - “what? Good wife?! Now?!”. For them, it is impossible at present to get a 'good' wife for their sons. To be more accurate, it is impossible to get a good daughter-in-law who follow their orders strictly! I just wonder how obedient they were to their mother-in-laws. Finally after three hours of nonstop discussion, they departed with the conclusion that 'World has came to its worst'. I could hear them sighing with relief, as if sky was taken out of their shoulders, and leaving everything else in silence. . .