2 + 2 = 5 (Short story)

2 + 2 = 4

It was just anyother day in the school. The kids were playing around before the class teacher enters. They were running from one corner to another sharing their experiences and enthusiasm. Amidst the enthusiastic and energitic joy of the students, teacher enters the class room. All the enthusiasm, energy and joy gets silenced in no time. All the minds that were filled with confidence a minute ago, suddenly numbs in submission to fear. Their bodies that were running around in freedom comes to stand still in obedience to authority. They just wait for the order to be given.

The teacher yells at the students to stand as straight as a stick, exibiting arrogance and demanding complete attention. The tender heart of the student, who already is under pressure because of the very presence of the teacher, further goes pounding responding to his loudness. With a military obedience students further straiten up their bodies. A further order from the teacher to sit, the students with utmost care not to exibit any casualness unconciously take to the hard school bench, keeping the backbone straight.

Teacher finishes a round of walking around the class observing all the students. He gets back to his position from where he gives his lecture. With a stern and military voice he informs the students that there has been a change in the syllabus. The change in the syllabus should be obeyed by all the students. They obey to it without any discussion or even a surprise. They remain still as even a show of consent would attract an attack from the teacher. Turning his back to the students, teacher begins to write on the board. He writes 2 + 2 = 5.

Teacher after writing the new equation on the board turns back to student. He orders “Repeat after me. 2 + 2 = 5”. Students with much more loudness repeat the equation together “2 + 2 = 5”. Teacher further orders the students to keep repeating the equation again and again. All of the class goes into a rhythamic chanting equation again & again “2 + 2 = 5”.

Amidst the rhythamic chants of the new equation, a hand from penultimate row of the seating begins to raise slow and with full of fear. Just when the hand is about to straightenup, the sound of the rhythamic chants suddenly increase to their loudest. This triggers the hand to low down, immediately. Another hand raises from the back row. This hand has come up fast. Looks innocent but straightforward, more importanly gets the attention of the teacher.

The teacher frowns even before the student begins to speak. But this innocent and straightforward student doesn’t stop with just raising his hand but stands up and asks the obvious. “Sir, isn’t 2 + 2, 4? beca…”. Teacher without even allowing the student to complete his question responds back loud. “Donot question, have faith. Can’t you see 2 + 2 = 5”. Student startled at this equation’s absurdness begins to confront other students “Guys can’t you see 2 + 2 = 4” by bringing 2 fingers from each of his hands together. Other students just keep quiet, the teacher looses his cool as he himself is surprised at being questioned. Teacher further claims what the questioning student is doing as blasphemy. But the innocent student just doesn’t give into agreeing what teacher puts forward and continues his argument. Teacher orders the student to stand still in his place and moves out of the classroom. Meanwhile, the innocent student continues to convince other students and asks them to realise the obviousness of 2 + 2 = 4.

The teacher returns back to the class room bringing along with him 3 more students. The teacher shows the newly invited 3 students to the class and says “Look at these 3 students. They are brilliant. They are successful. They have been toppers of the school consecutively for 4 years. Listen to what they say.” The teachers asks these successful students the same question. The 3 students respond concurrently in chorus “Aye Sir, 2 + 2 = 5”. Looking at the response of these 3, the questionning student stands in disappointment, he had his hopes on them. But, they let him down. They not only looked normal but more obedient than anyother student in the school.

Now, showing this case of 3 successful students agreeing to the equation 2 + 2 = 5, the teacher demands the questioning student to repeat it. But he just remains silent and still. The teacher further looses his patience and calls the student to come up to the black board write the new equation. With bent shoulders and disappointed face, student drags himself upto the black board. He picks up a chalk piece and begins to write.

Meanwhile, the 3 successful students get their guns ready aiming point blank at the student. Under the equation written by the teacher as 2 + 2 = 5, questioning student writes the obvious equation 2 + 2 = 4. As and when he finishes writing the equation the 3 successful students trigger the gun aimed at the student. The boy falls at the gun shot right at the altar of the learning classroom. The blood of the innocent spills on the black board erasing the equation 2 + 2 = 5. The 3 students drag the body of the innocent out of the classroom. And the teacher continues his class.

The rhythamic chants of 2 + 2 = 5 begin again in full throttle. This time the teacher demands all the students to write it in their notebooks. All the students write the new equation in their respective books. But, one student at the back, hiding in privacy of the notebook stops his writing at 2 + 2 and thinks. Before closing his notebook, he finshes the equation by writing the answer as 4.

PS : Adapted from a European Short Film


Urban Enigma

The late 90s in Hyderabad was filled with ‘development’ euphoria. Unpaved roads were getting covered by thar, single lane roads were turning into multi-lane. Road side streetlights were shifted onto the divider of a by-lane road. Elders always spoke about Hyderabad becoming a land of opportunities. Tall buildings under construction were confirming such hopes. Global investments and global attention on the city was reported daily in the newspapers. We were to believe that billions of rupees were waiting at the borders of the city to leverage on the ‘development’ activities. In other words, there was a sense of urgency for ‘development’. The center of the city was rapidly moving from banks of Musi river to the private banks of Hitec City, under the name of ‘development’.

This radical transformation in the economic geography of Hyderabad changed the perspective on future among the traditional and emerging middle class. All the aspirations were tuned towards service sector (read IT and Outsourcing services). A huge mass of people were absorbed within the ferments of this (then) emerging sector. With the population of Hyderabad getting doubled from 3 million over a span of 10 years, a neo middle class (NMC) that is intertwined with IT service sector emerged – a class that is more global in character compared with the traditional middle class. NMC comprises of two kinds of people – one, traditional middle class that transformed into NMC, two, emerging middle class that moved up the social ladder from a successful engagement with ‘development’ agenda (Eg. economic success in IT sector or real-estate).

Before the emergence of NMC, during the late 90s euphoria, people imagined the future with good conditions of life, less bureaucratically organized and implemented with ideas taken from global input. May be some old egalitarian enthusiasts who bought the ‘development’ idea have hoped for a more equal economic landscape across the city. But, people felt their right on the city was implicit in this whole process of ‘development’. Economic success to a huge number (but a minority) of people affirmed such delusions. Little did they know that through their inability to come out of the ‘comforts’ (credit) offered, they gave blind acceptance and let American corporate money shape their urban life. (Lower middle classes’ struggle to have their right on electricity has gone unnoticed among emerging NMC).

“…in making the city man has remade himself” is an important statement by urban sociologist Robert Park. When this is true the following is correct – who makes the city – what city he/they makes – decides how people of tomorrow are going to be. Also the social relations, life style, aesthetic values of tomorrow are deeply encoded in the DNA of forces of city ‘developers’.

Today, Hyderabad is a home to 10 million people. We the 10 million have some questions to ask ourselves –

1.Did this urbanization in urgency contribute to human well-being?

2. Did it leave us perplexed in a world of alienation, anxiety, anger and frustration?

3. Do we lack the substance for a systematic critique?

Let us seek to answer with this Urban Enigma series…

Fourth Dimension

I have to confess that the movie ‘Interstellar’ renewed my interest in astrophysics and understanding fourth dimension. It was in 2008 that I used to have discussions about fourth dimension after reading Hawking’s ‘Brief History of Time’ and ‘Theory of everything’. These two books showed a way to search answers for the countless questions we ask ourselves – who are we? where are we? etc. Then, I felt it was very complex to understand it. My recent rag picking of information on space-time from Youtube videos, articles made me understand how complex it is to understand the fourth dimension. And the intention of this blog is NOT to make the reader understand fourth dimension, but to understand its complexity and how we are ‘trapped’ in a 3-dimensional space.

Mathematical fourth-dimension –


Let’s begin with understanding the mathematical fourth dimension. The above picture illustrates the 4th dimension in the euclidean space. The question – why is it not a still image? We’ll answer. Before that, let us understand 1-Dimension (1-D). Space with 1-D is a single line. There will be a single coordinate axis, alone, say x. An object in 1-D can either move forward or backward. To point out an object X in a 1-D, an example of a tuple looks like {2}. Which translates to, position of object X is 2. Object X looks either like a dot or line (connection of dots). Moving to 2-dimensional (2-D) space. It will have two coordinate axes, say x and y. The axes are orthogonal to each other. To point out an object Y in a 2-D, an example of tuple looks like {2,3}. Object Y can move forward, backward, left and right. Y can be a circle, triangle, rectangle etc. – so any plane figures.  Now imagine, an object Y from 2 dimensional space comes to meet an object X in 1-D. Since, the intersection of 1-D and 2-D space gives us only a 1-D space, all that the object in 1-D can view is either a line or dot. X from 1-D with its limitation of being in a 1-D is not able to get the complete picture of Y. Extending the scenario to 3-dimensional space – add z-axis to already present x & y – orthogonally – Object Z. Tuple example – {2,3,5}. Z can move forward, backward, left, right, up and down. Z can be a sphere, cube, cuboid etc. Consider the intersection between 2-D and 3-D. We get a 2-D space. Now, when Z comes to meet Y. Y can see Z only as a circle or square or rectangle. Since, Y is struck in 2-D space. Moving to 4-D – we can observe that x,y and z are perpendicular to each other in 3-D. To envision a 4-Dimension, we should be able to show an axis, that is perpendicular to x, y and z. Showing such an axis in 3-D space is impossible and hence, we see it in the gif image (motion picture) put before the paragraph.

Understanding the boundless universe –


Universe is expanding. We came to this conclusion from knowing that distances between galaxies are increasing. But, the question remains, is universe infinite? Applying our limitations in higher dimensions, we may get an answer. From above we can understand that an object is not able to comprehend object/information that belongs to a step above its dimensional space. Consider object Y (Object in 2D. Limitation – it cannot comprehend 3-D). Let the plane that Y moves on, be a surface area of sphere. Y being from 2-D space believes the surface area of sphere as plane. Now, with enthusiasm to explore, Y embarks on a voyage to see the ends of the plane. Will Y ever find an end? Y (with its limitation of 2D understanding) comes to believe that the plane is infinite and boundless. But actually, the sphere is finite and boundless. Similarly, universe also may be a boundless but finite space. It is the object Z (or read humans) that is not able to comprehend its higher dimension (i.e. the fourth dimension), completely. Interestingly, this higher dimension is part of our everyday life. We use it everyday, every hour, every minute, every second. We visit it when we want give the complete coordinates of meeting place or a dating place. It is every where. It is all around us. It is TIME.

Fourth dimension & physics –


It is interesting to note that the phrase “time is precious” has altogether a different meaning. But, even in daily sense, when we plan to meet someone, we share the details of spatial coordinates and also time. Not sharing time leaves the plan incomplete. In physics, after the 3 spatial dimensions (x, y and z) 4th dimension is a temporal dimension – time. Understanding time implicitly means understanding time dilation i.e. relativity in time. In our daily routine, too, we see time is relative to GMT. But, when we speak about time dilation it is not the relativity with respect to GMT that we talk about, but, the relativity with object from another space-time dynamics. Time dilation is observed (not caused) in two different situations. One, when observers are moving relative to each other. Two, when observers are situated on different gravitational masses (Eg. read two different planets). This is not any hypothesis. This is part of daily routine for space scientists. The satellites moving in space run slow in time than us on earth, by a few seconds.

What should we do?


We are a rare species. We haven’t yet found anyone of our kind (at least, with whom we can have an intelligent conversation and solve the mysteries of our universe). Hawking believes there is no such species in a billion light years from earth while Neil degrasse quirks that aliens might have visited us only to find intelligence absent on earth (we not being sufficiently intelligent for them. As in, what do you find when you see an insect or an ant? intelligence?). Sun is halfway through its lifetime. Before sun starts exploding into a giant redstar earth would have already burst. To escape from that certain catastrophe understanding the fourth dimension and above is essential. Hawking or his friends’ combine cannot do this alone. We need to think and move as a species. For all of the mankind to be as one, we need to quickly get to such a political arrangement, too. Observe our lives and politics, today. Every moment is governed by profit, power and pride. United States’s NASA is given a budget of $18.4 billion while its Corporate Banks were given a bailout of $1.4 trillion. As individuals we are not just locked in 3-D space but also trapped in consumerism & elitism. With such conduct of affairs and politics we would lose much prior to the certain catastrophe. All those working for an egalitarian society now have a new reason. Working for such a society is not just an option for us, but a necessity.