Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The really really tiny world of nanoparticles

The present times offers to us a view of two contrasting directions that science is proceeding towards. While on one hand, astronomy continues to paint its footprints on the untrodden boulevards of space, nanotechnology on the other has decided to focus on what’s within.
With the revelation of a quantum realm, we had only dreamt about before, the torchbearers have embarked on a quest of finding ways to put this new science to good use. With a world nothing like what it was a 100 or even half a century ago, science has many a times stumbled upon its own establishments, atomic and chemical weapons being prominent. But in the meantime, it has also provided mankind with hope, and a chance to make things right, and this means correcting our mistakes in the tiniest scale, and nanotechnology is our tool for the purpose.
Wikipedia describes nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular and supramolecular scale.  Considering the dimensions of the matter, which ranges between a tiny 1 to 100 nanometres, nanotechnology has to face the quantum mechanical effects up to a scale of immense extremity. This is the reason that today nanotech is in itself a titanic genre for research rather than being a singular technological achievement.
It is indeed the potential that this new technology holds in the fields both industrial and humanitarian, not to ignore military too, that the leading world governments have been so gracious to invest in its R&D. In fact, the word nanotechnology is itself grammatically misleading because unlike the name (that suggests nanotech to have a limited boundary and scope), it has a very broad field of application, some of them being molecular biology, organic chemistry, semiconductor physics, micro fabrication and surface chemistry.

The application of nanotechnology for commercial purposes began in the 2000s, most noticeably TiO2 and Zinc Oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens, cosmetics and food products, silver nanoparticles in food packaging, clothing, disinfectants and household appliances such as Silver Nano, Carbon nanotubes for stain resistant textiles and cerium oxide as a fuel catalyst. As per a report in 2011, there are at least 1300 nanotech based products available in the market.
One of the biggest fields where nanotechnology is presumed to be able to play a constructive role is medicine in the form of Nanobots. Nanobots are chemical machines which have the affinity for a certain disease causing microbe or virus and perform a search and kill operation once introduced in the body. Nanotechnology is also gaining popularity in industrial and chemical processes such as desalination of water, wastewater and groundwater treatment which falls under the banner  of Nanoremediation. Latest research has also revealed the eligibility of this new technology in the construction industry, military goods, nano-wires and nano-rods which may be used in the automobile industry, enhanced batteries and solar panels for the production of energy, etc.

The fact that nanotechnology allows us to alter and modify the structure of matter at the quantum level, presents itself as a solution to many of the conventional techniques which come with a lot of side effects, low efficiency, cost ineffectiveness and pollution, to name a few. However, just like all the sciences nanoscience too holds the possibility of turning into havoc if the research is misdirected for a nation’s personal aspirations. Hence it is important that every nation of the world comes together and uses this new gift of science for the cause of humanity and turn the world into the promised utopia.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Brief Tale Of Madan Mistry (Part 2 of 2)

It looked like tamarind juice to me but then I thought of what use would be it to him. So I asked. He said it was a medicine a Bez (a local wizard doctor) had given him for the stone in his gall bladder. I asked him alarmingly,
: But shouldn’t you get it operated?!"

He replied,
: The operation's gonna cost me from 30 to 50 thousand rupees and added to that I won't be able to do any work for at least a month or two. I have met people cured by this medicine so what’s bad in trying it?

The talking went on and on and at one point he began to talk about the family for whom he was working at that time.

: “That man's a walking disgrace upon mankind…” - he said “…probably the greatest miser in the world."

Madan Dai had a unique accent, he had this funny way of speaking that you have to literally concentrate to properly understand it or else it as absolute gibberish. Even after living in his presence for more than 8 years it is hard for me.
He went on speaking, it was getting hard for my brother to concentrate and for me to teach him, so I gave him a break and in no time he was invisible.

: “Don’t you watch the league?”- He asked me.

I have mentioned elsewhere that he was an avid cricket fan so I thought it would be unwise for me to speak about the league now. Utterly uninterested to talk about cricket at that moment, I answered cunningly,

: I will start watching it from the semifinals, because that is when it gets interesting, the rest is all boring game show.

Oh how I wished it was effective, because no sooner had I finished my sentence that he began giving a verbal highlight of all the matches played this month and all I was capable of doing was replying with periodical ‘Yeah’s and ‘Wow’s.

: ... they had to make 24 out of the last over and he hit three sixes, two twos and a single. Or wait! Was it two twos or two sixes and two fours? I can’t remember properly…” – suddenly his phone rang and then it stopped. He kept looking at it for some time and asked me-

: Do you have any new funny video on your laptop?

Before I could start preparing an answer, he continued with his own-

: Do you remember that animated video you gave me the last time? The kids at where I stay are so mad to watch it all the time. They just love it. But I deleted it somehow by mistake. Do you still have it?

Situations like this sadden me. Madan Dai was approaching his half century and still a bachelor. Sometimes when I think about him I wonder how he might feel to be so lonely, after all having a family, a life partner and children to dedicate their lives to are what a heaven is for a man. I don’t know what feelings swim around Madan Dai’s head and heart but I am sure they are not content and happy ones. Feelings like ‘dying lonely’ and ‘a life with no love’ has scared the hell out of since my milk-teeth days and my heart always generated a feeling of comfort and sympathy for such people. Today was Madan Dai’s turn. Suddenly I felt my ‘why don’t you get lost’ attitude turned into ‘I am your best friend’ ones.
While my brain was processing all these, I had my answer prepared, erased, re-written and ready to shoot –

: I don’t have that video now because I was facing a shortage of memory space but I have some funny audio stories, you know, it plays just as a song does but it’s not a song, it’s a story.

: Well then you should give that to me, the kids there are gonna love it.

In the meantime I had switched my laptop on; he remembered that he had to take the SD card off, as the Data Cable won’t get into his model of the phone. While the rituals were being carried out, he set off again,

: The family for whom I am currently working for and also staying at, the owner is one f-ing bustard and his wife an even bigger bitch. Do you know? Whenever I am being off from work and if she saw me idle, she will not rest until she sends me to the shop to get something or get me busy with some other work. She just doesn’t seem to realize that I am not a house-maid but a carpenter! And there were times when I had to do her shopping by my own money! Don’t ask me if I ever got them repaid even once. And whenever she had to call someone, she won’t use her phone. Instead she would ask me mine and won’t stop until the battery dies or the prepaid balance. Now they have to pay me three thousand four hundred and sixty rupees including my wage and what they borrowed from me but I am starting to realize that I am not going to get a paisa from them. So I shall come back by Monday, I have already brought my tools out and kept them at your uncle’s house and soon I will bring my clothes and other stuff out of that godforsaken house or else that bustard might sell those off too.

The sound clips had been transferred. Madan Dai re-inserted the SD card back to his phone and walked away with neither a thank-you, nor a goodbye.  

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Tiny Little Fears Of An Unsuitable Lover

     Of all the moments of my life, the most beautiful  are the ones I have spent with you, talking our hearts out, imagining your hand out of thin air and caressing it, asking each others dreams and calculating a trajectory in the mind where they can possible meet on time's never ending alley, planning things too ambitious for what we are now, to be precise, what 'I' am now.

     Listening to everything you have planned for us, I ponder over my limits; am I the right guy for you to do those things with, both practically and financially...

     I don't know, what's beyond that line we both talk about. Knowing your destiny beforehand, often I wonder if I shall have some worth someday, that will make me fit and eligible enough to stand by your side and hold your hand, something I can call absolutely mine, an identity that will make you feel proud of me and the list never stops, because I am too desperate to make you mine, but the only things I have been doing all this time was fading away in your blinding light, following you everywhere you go but never really there, holding you up when you called for it and feeding on your happiness only.

     I don't know if it is right or wrong, but there are moments when it feels like you are taking me for something else. Something I am pretending to be, or just a false image that time is holding before your pure and innocent eyes that they can't see through. I fear, if I shall be able to deliver to you what you need of me. That, is a terrible thing to think about, trust me.

     There are also times when I fear, if you mistook your own brilliance (that fell upon me and got reflected), to be mine and what if you fell in love with it? At other times, I fear what if this is not real? What if you are not real? What if all of this is just another dream after which I will wake up to nothingness? What if you don't actually sound like you do over the phone? What if you won't love me when you meet me in real? But you say no, everytime I approach you with my fears and you laugh them away with a promising hug that it is never going to happen, not in this universe, in this life; that I shall be the sole guardian of your purest heart and the biggest reason for your smile no wonder how great a calamity hits us.

     I have tried, tried beyond tearful sobs and an aching chest. And yet I can't let go of them. They are so obstinate, so stubborn. I have tried hard to shut them away but only to love them more and more and now it seems I can't live without them. I fail misearbly to understand this feeling, why does it happen with me?

     Countless times I have walked into the cold chambers and I have tried to strangle them to death in the dark of the night. But I withdrew evertime. Perhaps I should accept the pain, from what I have seen and felt, these fears are undetachable and are going to stay until that day you will really be mine. Inspite of all your warm and caressing love, a mixed smell of insecurity amd uncertainty always lingers, somewhere deep within my consciousness, it tickles my fears awake everytime to sob in the lonely nights, imagining the greatest of catastrophes that can befall us, because from all that I've tried, I have understood quite well that a fear can never be killed and that is the worst thing about it.

     And so I remain, existing between the profound joy of having earned your love and trust, and the depressing gloom of the fear of losing you any second. Perhaps that's my truth, perhaps that's how I am supposed to live and if I can't probably I should try to adapt to it. After all, it is all in the mind. Ain't it?

Monday, 10 April 2017

The Brief Tale Of Madan Mistry (Part 1 of 2)

He came to visit us not that often but mostly without any notice and on most occasions, uninvited. His presence always felt like that of any other family member around you. He would come mostly to uncle's ( who lived  just next door) for business and would often come into our house without knocking, shouting, "Raja re! Ki kori asa?" (Hey Raja, what's up?).

Madan Dai, as we dearly called him was a Bengali carpenter. He hailed from West Bengal, from the Koch Bihar region if i am not wrong. He first visited Assam somewhere in the 80's when he was just a little kid, with his dad who leaded an woodcutters' team. My grandpa hired them mostly and so a family like bond was created between them and us. Time passed and they left, but Madan Dai stayed and learned carpentry, a bit from here, a bit from there and became quite a good one in his job. Then one day after my parents' marriage, he reappeared. He was so unrecognizable, as dad told me and yet he remebered my family. He then began to live on rent in one of our rooms in a permanent sort of way. He mostly did wedding contracts, furniture and accessories and took household orders too. I remeber him since I have known a man is a man, a cow is a cow and you should always cry for your mom to take you to pee.
 Madan dai was a constant humour. A die hard cricket fan that he was, he also built me my first cricket bat, a good one made from Hilikha wood. I remember it lasted for a pretty long time until it landed on its destiny - the pond like pit at the back of our home where all the garbage was dumped. He never allowed himself to refrain from reading a monthly magazine and if I correctly remember, it was called 'Sising Faak' or something that sounded identical and it mostly cracked jokes on the then Assamese politicians and some day-to-day comedic situations and everytime he came across a punchline he would jump abruptly from the chair as if springs were tied to his feet and after a wholesome laughter he would narrate the same to dad or mom or whoever was in his vicinity. I remeber exactly the way he used to do that and even now when we talk about him, we donot fail to have a good laugh at it.

He was a good storyteller too and a radio fanatic and this habit that I too acquired from him is still pristine. The nostalgic remains of some of his radios were still lying around in the backyard untill dad cleared them off about a year ago.

 When I was about 9, he left and started living somewhere else. But he never failed to visit us on the many festivals and other occasions and his departure would often leave me in profound joy not only because the noise would be gone with him, but also 'cause of the ₹10 note he left in my hands.

He always had a bad timing. That day too I was only teaching my little brother some trigonometry when the frontyard echoed with his so familiar noisy voice. Mom was brooming the same room we were sitting in and she threw a 'we are doomed' sort of look at me, because she knew very well he wasn't going to leave early and my brother had his exam a day after. But he was a storm you wouldn't dare to stop. He came in, as usual without knocking and greeted mom and without even her asking him, he began describing where he had been, how he has been and where he was coming from at the moment. He was carrying an enormous bag  with him and in that bag I saw two enormous plastic containers filled with a dark fluid.
(To be continued...)
Raj Kishore Gogoi 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Tips to become an Indian Mantriji

The only good thing about democracy is that it gives people the wisdom that you can never really know a person by his appearance. Democracy turns ‘personally right’ seeming decisions into frustrating 'national errors' (that's what i call the ministers) and all you are left to do now is find the needle (good work) in the haystack (corruption and autocracy). Every passing election makes people think where it went wrong, were they too expecting? The reason why they don't allow you to disclose whom you've voted might be that you don’t die of frustration and  shame on your own selection. Democracy is a phenomenon that turns the country into a brothel and the opposition into a shameless, big eyed and foul mouthed and toothless hypocrite. Democracy depends upon the fact that people know but they don’t remember.
To make it more vivid, a man asks another, “Do you know how I can be a minister?"
The second man asks, “Where?"
"India." - replies the first one.
"That shouldn’t be hard. There are numerous ways. For instance you can team up with an old coward who fled from the battlefield and sit fasting on a public ground. There are also the harder ways of murder and rape but you know with dedication nothing is impossible. The easiest one in my opinion is to get rid of your brain so that it becomes easy for you to make fool of yourself everywhere you go with your caravan. There is another hard but interesting way - for that you've to become an actor, win hearts with your artificiality and comtunue the same after you become a minister and if you are a rich one of the kind, you can also donate 0.00001 % of your net worth to the flood victims of a state you had no idea existed before you saw it in the news. I call it a harder way because after you become one it really becomes hard to manage time between your shooting schedules and parliament sessions. You will also be needing the divine art of blaming and throwing mud other parties and the great vision of observing a hidden meaning in everything your rivals say. The foul mouth and half brainer comments are a compulsory qualification for all the above categories. You become any one of these and the parties will come and offer you a candidature for election and a monstrous marigold garland with their own hands. The winning part is even easier. All you have to do is distribute promises, fried chicken and liquor.
     The next step after your victory is creating a legacy. Now, you can do it in two ways, either do some good in your constituency or rope in your family members into politics. Always remember, no force in this universe can defeat you if your family stands with you, provided that they are ministers too or at least be gazetted officers, with a false degree of course. I am not saying this, it's Indian philosophy and written with golden words in a doctorine we dearly call Bollywood. And never fail to give the public a circus if you fail to give them bread, an advice the Romans left for their worthless successors. And thus, you become an ideal Indian minister.”

My dad once told me, " Son, this country shall be brought back to its old glory only by bachelors." At first I thought that was a joke but I realised there was a bigger philosophy behind. Married men and women tend to be more corrupt than the bachelor ministers, because you know how wives are, not to speak of their demands and shopping and the ever increasing prices, it is reasonable for them to hide away a penny or two. And the many donation hungry NGOs and bodies, a  minister even uploaded an open letter on social media once, disclosing that they ARE not corrupt but situations FORCE them to be. O my fellow Indians, you are so good at axing your own feet.



Raj Kishore Gogoi

“Is it reasonable in any way to waste your classes like this? It might not be important but at least it will do you more good than playing games on that stupid play station. I know you are not going to do any studying today, it’s just an excuse for your laziness.”
Robin had decided to skip school today. He wasn't before, but then he remembered some assignments he had to do. Earlier in the morning, his mother had told him to deposit some money at the bank while returning, but he was just not in the mood for school today. But mother won’t give up. She kept on trying every means to get his ass out of home and the bank business too was important. Robin could understand her tactics, so he pretended to ignore her quietly and began helping his father in the backyard in stacking away some wooden planks.
“Good morning Chetia Da.” It was Bogai on the wicket-gate. He was a wage labourer at Robin’s dad, Mr. Chetia’s steel workshop. Mr. Chetia has just recovered after he injured his waist, slipping over a wet floor a week ago. Most of the pain is gone now but the doctor has forbidden hard work for at least a month.
“What’s the matter Bogai?” Mr. Chetia inquired.
“Pradeep Da is calling for you. He is going to Jorhat”
“Bustards...” Mr. Chetia murmured. “You go and unpack the new arrivals, and tell Pradeep I’ll be there after breakfast.”
Pradeep was Mr. Chetia’s business partner and came from the Marwari community. He looked after the accounts and dealings while Mr. Chetia looked over the labourers. The moment Bogai was gone, Mrs. Chetia called them in for breakfast.
“Who was that?”
“It was Bogai. I have to be at the shop.”
“Can’t Pradeep handle the shop by himself for a single day? Doesn’t he know about your accident?”
“He is going to Jorhat to visit a cousin admitted at Sanjeevani. Don't talk about these things to me now”
  “Why shouldn’t I? Don’t you look after everything all by yourself when he goes attending the marriages and Pujas and sick people all around the country? Now can't you stay at home even at your doctor's advice?” Mrs. Chetia was fuming.
It was true. While Mr. Chetia never missed work except on cases of severe ill health, Pradeep remained absent for almost half of the month. Not that he was skipping his accounting works, but his frequent leaves and travels were not at all digestible for both Mrs. Chetia and Robin. But Mr. Chetia always kept calm whenever his wife brought up this topic and both Mrs Chetia and Robin wondered why.
Robin felt, this is the moment and asked him directly, “Why dad? Why do you always dump away this topic? What is the reason that you never protest before Pradeep Uncle about it?”
Mr. Chetia kept eating quietly for some time and said,
“The reason is that, Pradeep, he can survive even without the shop. His father has left him with enough property to spend for this lifetime. Along with that, his accounting and management skills can easily get him a job in any one of the many firms in the state. Only about two months ago he told me that the owner of steel mill himself asked him if he would look over the management. He even offered him a 3 BHK flat at Guwahati, not to mention the salary. I call it good luck that Pradeep hates working under someone; otherwise we would have lost everything.”
“Then he’d better leave, you do all the work alone, almost all the time. What more harm is it going to cause if he leaves the partnership completely?” said Robin.
“There are many things, son. Let me explain it to you. Do you know Nipen? Who owns the workshop a Paban Nagar?”
“Yes I know him, his workshop barely has a customer and remains shuttered all the time.”
“That’s the point! Do you know why?”
“Why dad?”
“You won’t believe me.” Mr. Chetia replied with a smile.
He resumed his eating quietly and after a few seconds spoke again.
“Okay, now answer me this. There are so many shops here and an appreciable number of customers too, then why are the shops owned by the local Assamese guys so quiet, while those owned by Amit Agarwalla and Suresh Tiwari are the busiest?”
Robin tried hard to think of a possible reason.
“I’ll tell you why. You know Amit and Suresh, they both aren’t locals. They were born here but Suresh’s father was only a blanket maker who used to come from Motihari every year for the winter and later settled down opening a grocery here; and Amit’s grandfather came here as a carpenter in the 40’s. So you can’t certify them as pure locals. And that’s a blessing for them. Our Assamese community is gifted with an amazing mentality. We can never bear our neighbours get richer than us and that’s the reason our people fall. Now that I have Pradeep with me, it’s not because of me that the customers come in to do business with us. My success will be impossible for them to bear and that’s also the reason Nipen’s shop is remains closed for half the year. And if Pradeep wasn't there I would've ended up the same as him. Pradeep's identity itself is a symbol of trust for our customers because the Assamese trust strangers more than they do trust their own brothers. And further more, Pradeep's identity widens our market. Tell me, who will buy products from an Assamese, the people that distrusts  and envies their own?"
Mr. Chetia finished his meal, took out the car and drove away. Robin stared untill he disappeared around the corner.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

In Love With A Fragrance Ep. 2

(Episode 2)
The phone beeped. The notification bar displayed a new message. He swiped open the phone and clicked on the messenger app.
"You there?" The message read.
"Yeah, what's up?" He replied.
"Nothing now. Sitting idle after dinner."
A brief pause and one more text - "I miss you."
"I miss you too."
"What was for dinner tonight?" ...

        Jessie and Fred met for the first time at Winston Junior, where Grandpa admitted him after he'd moved after his parents' demise. He was only 14 then.
          Jessie was a piece of heaven sent to earth. She was like one of those wild flowers that soothes your eyes the moment you see them, blooming in the middle of the grass, so different yet the harmony, it just makes you fall in love. Just one week of being around her for 5 hours a day was all it needed. A single look at her kept all of his sorrows, his pain and sobs of misfortune at bay. Like she'd been sent for the very purpose. Oh! how he wished he had her near him, on whose shoulders he could burst out of his suffocations. How he wished he could escape the pityful gazes of his classmates, confused if they should come and talk to him or leave him alone 'cause he might get hurt. And Jessie, her heart too pained at his loneliness and Fred always wished she would walk up to him and talk to him. When he realized, it actually should be the other way round, he wished he had that courage. Just calling each other, for the first time was proving to be too Herculian. All he could do now was to watch the other boys getting close to her and punching their jaws off in the arenas of his imagination. It was unbearable for him and maybe for God too because what happened next was a miracle for him.

(To be continued)

© Raj Kishore Gogoi 2017 (IPR)

The really really tiny world of nanoparticles

The present times offers to us a view of two contrasting directions that science is proceeding towards. While on one hand, astronomy contin...