Monday, September 5, 2016


मी अपूर्वाई वाचलं नव्हतं ही गोष्ट पण बऱ्यापैकी अपूर्व म्हणता येईल. पण शाळेत कधी हे पुस्तक मिळालं नाही, आणि बरेच दिवस दुकानात पण दिसत नसे. तो योग या वीकएंडला आला. पु लं. चा हा पहिला परदेश प्रवास. लंडन, पॅरिस, थोडंसं जर्मनी असा. त्यात मग ऑक्सफर्ड-केम्ब्रिज आहे, पण त्यापेक्षाही स्टेटफोर्ड-एट-एव्हन आहे. शेक्सपिअरच्या समाधीवर गदगदून जाणं आहे. पार्लमेंट मध्ये चर्चिलला पाहणं आहे. मादाम तुसॉच्या प्रदर्शनात कंटाळणं आहे. कार्लाइलचं घर पाहताना केलेलं मूक चिंतन आहे.  नेपोलियनच्या 'चिमण्या शिलेदाराच्या' समाधीवर करुण होणं आहे. आणि मी हे फक्त पु लं बद्दल नाही बोलतोय. वाचता वाचता हे सगळं गदगदनं, मूक चिंतन, कंटाळणं, करुण होणं, मी देखील अनुभवलं. आणि हो, आपल्या विसंगतीवर, हळुवारपणे पण नेमकं बोट ठेवणं, आणि हसवता हसवता कुठेतरी विचार करायला लावणं  हे आहेच. अर्थात हा अनुभव पु लं च  प्रत्येक पुस्तक देतं, तो मात्र अपूर्व नाही.  

Friday, January 29, 2016

ABC of relativity

Bertrand Russell wrote the 'ABC of relativity' in 1925. Now, about 90 years later, I read it. These are two examples of events in spacetime, and events is what relativity deals with. It tells us that the distance and duration between two such events as measured by differently moving observers can be different, and there is no reason to prefer one observer's version over the other. Nevertheless, there exists an entity called 'interval' that each can measure and will agree upon. So not everything is relative.

Popular expositions of relativity abound, so what is there to recommend the present one? First, it's Russell. You can expect both clarity and depth. Russell goes beyond matter curving spacetime and clocks running slow for someone who is moving. He tells why Newton's law of gravitation is not compatible with relativity (if different observers measure distance differently, they will also measure the gravitational force between two objects differently). He explains how the very notion of a gravitational force emerged due to influence of Euclidean geometry (if an object is not moving in a Euclidean straight line e.g. earth around the sun, there must be some influence to explain this behavior), while relativity does away with gravitational force as something exerted from afar to explain motions of objects as responses to the local features of spacetime. And how, the very notion of matter as which persists through all of time and is not present at more than one place at a time is dependent on complete separation of space and time, and hence needs revision in the era of relativity. And how scientific convention and limitations of our senses can influence our theories (in the Michelson-Morely experiment, do you say the length changes or speed of light varies?). And so on.

It would be foolish for me claim to have imbibed everything the book has to say. But I can certainly say this. It was a refreshing read despite having met popular accounts of relativity before. It is a popular account, so you will certainly learn something. And then of course, it's Russell.

नाटकवाल्याचे प्रयोग

अतुल पेठे हे प्रायोगिक रंगभूमीवरच एक प्रसिद्ध नाव. पण 'नाटकवाल्याचे प्रयोग' हे पुस्तक वाचण्याआधी  हे नाव मला फारसं परिचित नव्हतं.  प्रायोगिक नाटक करता करता आलेल्या अनुभवांबद्दलचे लेख आणि मुलाखती यांचा हा छोटासा संग्रह. पण जर हे पुस्तक फक्त नाटकासंबंधी असतं तर मला कदाचित ते इतकं आवडलं नसतं. नाटक या माध्यमातून जीवन समजून घेण्याचा प्रयत्न हा खरं तर विषय. आणि हे नाटक मग वेगवेगळी रूपं घेतं. माहिती अधिकार आणि आरोग्य, नेमाडे आणि तेंडुलकर, फुले आणि सॉक्रेटीस अशा अनेक विषयांना स्पर्श करतं. भाषा सरळ आणि मांडणी तर्कशुद्ध, उगीच भावनिक कल्लोळ नाही. आलेल्या अडचणी, फसवणारे लोक याबद्दल लिहिलंय पण कडवटता नाही. भेटलेल्या दिग्गजांबद्दल आदराने लिहिलंय पण वारेमाप स्तुती नाही. मन विदीर्ण करणाऱ्या आजच्या आर्थिक, सामाजिक वास्तवाबद्दल लिहिलंय पण त्यामध्ये हे असं का आणि त्याबाबतीत मी काय करू शकतो हा विचार प्रधान. आणि त्या विचारांची खोली आणि समग्रता दोन्ही जाणवतात. अतिशय वाचनीय आणि शिकण्यासारखं बरंच काही.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Last three books

The miracle of mindfulness: Thich Nhat Hanh

आहे मनोहर तरी: सुनीता देशपांडे

वंगचित्रे: पु ल देशपांडे 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

झूल वाचल्यावर

चांगदेव पाटील तसा आपला जुना दोस्त. पांडुरंग सांगवीकर त्याच्याहून जुना, पण पहिल्यांदा भेटलो तेव्हा तो काय म्हणतोय त्यातलं अर्ध-अधिक कळलंच नाही. परत एकदा, कॉलेजात आल्यावर सांगवीकर थोडाबहुत कळला. चांगदेव त्यामानाने समजायला सोपा. त्याचं जग, लहान गावातलं, शिक्षकी पेश्यातल्या व्यक्तींचं, माझ्या सर्वाधिक परिचयाचं म्हणून देखील हे
कदाचित असेल. किंवा त्याचे विचार, त्याची तडफड जाणवली, भिडली म्हणूनही कदाचित. पहाटेचे चार वाजले होते, मिट्ट काळोख तसा शहरात नसतो कधी, पण सामसूम होती. पुस्तक संपलं आणि गहिवरून आलं. आता जास्त सांगत नाही. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015


It's a rare book that gives as much pleasure on the third reading as the first. 2001: A space odyssey is one such book for me. Why that should be so? Here is why: it helps keep my sense of wonder alive; reawakens it from its forced slumber. So I look forward to its fourth reading, in the not too distant future.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Small is beautiful

Recently read E.F.Schumacher's Small is Beautiful, 'a study of economics as if people mattered'. It is a classic, first published in 1973, and ranked as one of 100 most influential books published since World War II by the Times Literary Supplement. 

Organized as a collection of essays, it is a reassessment of economics as it was practised at the time (and which doesn't seem to have changed much in the ensuing 40 years). Schumacher points out that large scale, specialized industries conncentrated in a few large cities, while achieving progress in some abstract econometric sense like GDP growth or increased Capital/Output ratio, are failing to solve the real problems of poverty and economic imbalance. And the damage to the environment caused is unprecedented. As an alternative, he proposes 'Intermediate Technology', low cost, communally owned, easily accessible technology that can aim to spread development to all sectors, while reducing the environmental damage. Schumacher was also an enterpreneur, and tried to put these ideas in practice. But economics is only a part of what the book talks about; it is also a  call to rethink the assumptions governing modern life and which ultimately gave rise to the current economic situation; to take just one example, our definition of the standard of life in terms of amount of consumption, more the better. Schumacher asks whether the natural world, which is undeniably finite, will be able to sustain such a model indefinitely. Is it not high time that we start treating natural resources not as income but as capital, focusing on conservation rather than consumption? There are many such examples. 

Schumacher advises a return to traditional values that have governed societies for eons. While I found it hard to agree with everything that is in there, the book was certainly a thought provoking and eye opening read.