Saturday, 16 August 2014

Hemantha Kalam - 27 'Do Miracles Happen?'

“Just because you can explain, it doesn’t mean it’s still not a miracle’
- Terry Pratchett (Sir Terence David John Pratchett OBE), Small Gods 1992

Several attempts have been and are being made to explain what a Miracle is. So, what is a Miracle? How does one define it? Has it got to be linked only to the divine?

It is believed that the word ‘Miracle’ apparently took root in the Latin word ‘Mirari’ which means ‘to wonder’. A Miracle is an event that cannot or may not be explained with natural or scientific laws or reasoning. Any act / happening that is reported and which can cause wonder, because the incident was something beyond the reach of human action or natural causes, is supposed to be a Miracle.

It is when the impossible happens. It is when there is no earthy reason for something wonderful to have happened. It is when such an event might have been attributed to a supernatural being – divine (mostly) or otherwise!

As I think I remember to have mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, my first boss (1976 vintage) used to have a small sticker plaque stuck onto his cabin door that said (the words I remember perfectly) ‘We do the impossible immediately. The Miraculous takes a little longer’

I always wondered - ‘Do Miracles take place’? In fact, I should not have; as I found the answer more than once, so far in my life – Yes, they do and how?

In 1971, we, in our family, had encountered our seemingly first miracle (think it was on 4th July). On that fateful day, my father went to a neighbouring house some seven blocks away to pluck some fresh curry leaves, for preparing breakfast as our stock of curry leaves in the house exhausted and we did not have a curry leaf plant in our house, yet.

For company, my kid sister, aged about a year and a half, accompanied him. It was almost pre-dawn and I was still lolling in my bed. Apparently my father made my sister stop a few paces behind him and attempted to pluck some tender curry leaves from the plant. In the process, he came into contact with a metal wire, used to dry the washing, which was passing through the plant.  Somewhere else, this metal line must have been contacting a live and leaking electric cable as the moment he touched the wire, along with the raw curry leaves, he was electrocuted.

The cabin with the main switch was locked and the person nearest to my father could not trace the key. So he started hollering around and a person in a farm nearby heard him. This person in the farm, Mr. Mani, to whom we owe our deepest gratitude, for eternity, had worked with some electrician once and had some basic idea of rescuing an electrocuted person. He searched for and caught hold of a dry wooden pole and rushed to my father’s location and hit him with the pole. This entire process took some 12 to 13 minutes and it was a miracle that my father survived the length of the ordeal and survived. Because, in India, the domestic supply of electricity is always around 220-230 volts of AC power.

My father was released, but by that time he was injured in his feet, and started bleeding in the foot. Till my father was carried home by these people, we were blissfully unaware of what happened. If the survival of my father was a miracle, that my kid sister did not touch him while being electrocuted is what we consider a second miracle.

Much later, one morning, in 2006, I was leaving for my office and left my home with my laptop bag in one hand and my lunch hamper in the other (the back packs for laptops were not introduced yet, then, in India). I got into my car and slowly eased it out, of my cellar parking lot, on a declining ramp into the street and drove off on a pot-holed road.

About half a kilometer later or so, I suddenly realised that I am not having my mobile phone on the empty passenger seat where I normally keep it upon. I clearly remembered taking it from the desk in my home. I wondered how I had lost it, as the doors and windows for the car were locked and shut.

Clearly worried, I turned back my car with great difficulty, in the crowded, office going traffic, to return home and to check once again, there.

I was beginning even to sweat. The cost of the mobile phone instrument was negligible - even today I try to have an inexpensive, simple and functional mobile phone instrument – but my fear was more for losing the contacts and the little but important data stored into its tiny mind and memory.

I returned home and again driving up on the now inclining ramp, parked my car in my lot, went up and searched all over in my house. No, I could not find it there too! My wife swore that she specifically saw me taking the mobile out, when leaving for office, the first time.

Now more worried, but having little else to do, I walked back to the car, all the time trying to recollect every movement of mine, on my earlier trip out, in the morning. I remembered that both my hands were occupied; one hand carrying the laptop bag and ‘the mobile phone’ and the other, the lunch hamper. So then, what happened to the mobile phone?

Only when I approached the car, the second time that morning, I recollected that to free my fingers to open the car door, I had kept the mobile phone on the roof top of my car and casually looked there. And lo and presto, my mobile was there – where I had kept it.

It was a great relief. But then awe overtook me. Now I recollected the sequence. I had kept it there and moved out on an incline, drove on pot-holed streets and maneuvered the car in tight traffic to return home, drove again on the pot-holed street, then up on the ramp, parked it in my lot unguarded and where it remained an easy target for anybody to come and pick it up (no security guard in my house and no compound wall or a fence to guard, either) and yet it was there where I had kept it. It was not hooked or pasted. It just was lying there. This is no less than a ‘Miracle’ for me!

Yes, a logical argument that the mobile could have had magnetic properties and so it stuck resonates well with me and is accepted. Just to disprove myself on the ‘Miracle’ feeling, I did the same routine of keeping my mobile on the roof top of the car exactly where I had kept it earlier on the day I had ‘lost and found’ it, for at least two consecutive times, only to see my mobile fall off within a couple of feet of the wheel rolling. No Magnet, no miracle again!

That day I was lucky and the ‘Miraculous’ happened! If somebody insists that it was just a coincidence, I have no qualms on it!

Sometime during 2007-2008, one morning, my daughter who came home from her university wanted to call her grandparents (my parents) and called over phone very early in the morning as both my parents are early risers. In fact my father always rises the earliest.

On hearing the phone ringing, my sister, the same kid sister who was with my dad in the first instance was roused from her sleep and smelled something burning. Perturbed, she called out to my mother and both of them saw my father sprawled onto the burning gas stove with the right side of his face lying on the burning gas stove and the top of his body burnt badly with boiling milk. Both of them helped him to bed and got my kid brother and another sister who stays nearby, to find out what happened. I stay a bit farther and so took time to reach.

Over sometime, my father gained consciousness and told us amidst intolerable pain, that as always he woke up early and put the milk to boil on the gas stove for brewing his early morning coffee. As the milk was about to be taken off, he had a stroke and he fell on the burning stove. He was earlier treated for Heart disease and Brain Ischaemia by a double by-pass surgical procedure, but it appeared that on this day he had suffered a stroke of Brain Ischaemia and fell on the burning stove.

If he was found any later we would not know what would have happened. Again it was miraculous and eventually, we found that he survived but this survival was the most painful for him and to all of us who could see him suffer so much. He is a man of grit, my dad sure is! He is still scarred of the various degrees of burning he survived, with his right ear slightly disfigured.

These might be the miracles that happened to us in our family. But day in and day out, all of us would be encountering some miracle and I am sure that every one of us would have an interesting story to tell.  It is like Albert Einstein said, ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle’

In 1975 ‘Hot Chocolate’ sang in the famous and popular song ‘You Sexy Thing’ ( for the full song)

……Where did you come from, angel?
How did you know I’d be the one?                                                                  
Did you know you’re everything I prayed for?      
Did you know every night and day for?

…… I believe in miracles, 
Where you from, you sexy thing? Sexy thing, you,
I believe in Miracles

It sure is a matter of belief, and I do tend to believe that miracles can, after all, and do happen!

And as Paulo Coelho said in his blog; ‘At this very moment I am doing what I most like, and that is the miracle that I try to work every day’ (

I agree! I believe in Miracles!

Now, do you? You tell me! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Thanks (English), Dhonyabaad (Bangla), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai) and Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino)

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy
Chennai, India

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Hemantha Kalam - 26 'Life is a "Su Doku"!

During the past few years I have been observing my sister (a blogger herself) settling silently in a secluded place at home and go through the newspaper with a pencil. Curious, I checked with her when she said that she was working on ‘Su Doku’. I did not realise then, but on experience I found that this seclusion is the first step of comparison of life with ‘Su Doku’. 

As a person who always felt that no game should demand any exertion on the mind, I wondered what thrill she derived, but left her to her own designs.

Now during the past year or so, when I had much time on hand and I had started really ‘reading’ the newspapers, to kill time, I started attempting to work on the ‘Su Doku’ and solve, though it could tax my mind which, in normal times, I never relished.

One incentive, I felt, would be that working on such ‘puzzling matters’ could help me keep my mind in shape and probably keep Alzheimer’s away. Funny though, but some intuition always tells me that I would indeed be a victim of Alzheimer’s in the days to come. By writing this here I am sure that I am paving not a path but a highway to be ridiculed, but I do guess that I am entitled to my own superstitions and beliefs until disproved!

Initially, even the easiest ‘Su Doku’ used to make me sweat it out, but over a period I got a grip on the game and gained the confidence of tackling it. Today anything less than ‘hard’ level of difficulty, does not really hold my interest anymore!

Now, what is ‘Su Doku’?

I am sure that I am wasting space and lines and precious time, as most of the people would already know, but let me explain as quickly as I can, about ‘Su Doku’.

‘Su Doku’ is a puzzle game. Though the present day’s ‘Su Doku’ certainly is from Japan, the real game is believed to have originated from China, around 1000 BC. The name ‘Su Doku’ by which the game is now popular is indeed a Japanese abbreviation apparently means Single number (Su = Number, Doku = Single) and the full name is  Sūji wa dokushin ni kagiru  roughly meaning, "the digits must occur only once" or "limited to single figures." ( It was only in the year 1986, that the abbreviation ‘Su Doku’ took birth. Some believe that ‘Su Doku’ originated from Switzerland and travelled to Japan via America. (

While ‘Su Doku’ also is presented in different patterns like,

Samurai ‘Su Doku’

Triple Samurai  


Five Squares ‘Su Doku’ - Courtesy:

the standard ‘Su Doku’ pattern is symmetrical.

Playing ‘Su Doku’ is a paradox.  

In a standard and symmetrical game of ‘Su Doku’, a square / box comprising of nine inner squares / boxes, which in turn will have nine squares / boxes in each will have some digits and the balance digits need to be guessed right and placed.

The numbers from 1 to 9 should be arranged in each row and in each box without using the same number again either in the line or in the inner box. Thankfully only vertical or horizontal lines should be in a row and not diagonal rows. The system is simple, but solving is challenging and the quantum increases by the level you choose to play.

All games need planning, for sure, but ‘Su Doku’ cannot be worked at all, without a combination of patience, planning, guessing, eliminating, strategising and ensuring zero error. If a single error occurs , the whole puzzle takes a toss and no marks to be awarded, unless the total puzzle is completed.

We should start by;

            1) taking a look at the resources (digits) available
     2) beginning with what we know to be sure
     3) introspecting
     4) correcting if we are using a pencil and an eraser
     5) eliminating possibilities 
     6) filling in steadily
     7) taking more time if and when needed and
     8) continuing to be positive all the time and not to despair

Now let us see what the playing rules of ‘Su Doku’ and that of ‘life’ are! 

Su Doku
One person has to play at a time – in seclusion and with calm mind
A person has to lead his own life with a calm disposition.
Frame of a large square
Frame of Time
Existence of some resources like inner structures and some digits to guide
Existence of some resources like parents, siblings, teachers and friends to guide
You don’t have answers for all. You need to find the solution by calculating and guessing and using the resources
You don’t have answers for all. You need to find the solution by calculating and guessing and using the resources
You know the missing numbers but to place them appropriately is the issue
You know resources and priorities but really structuring the priorities is the issue
You cannot create a conflict by placing the same number in a row or in a box
You need to be unique yet without antagonising – be it in your own family or in society
Law of elimination helps solving the game better
Life can be better by eliminating un wanted qualities and connections
Levels of difficulties and achievements
Levels of difficulties and achievements
Resources may be few in high level of difficulty but it is not impossible to solve. You steadily build up the needed digits
Resources may be few but you can augment and grow steadily by working with singular goal and focusing in the right direction
While working, you put digit after digit without really thinking of the final success picture
In life too we grow step by step working towards the ultimate and wholesome success
People who use pencils and erasers
are moderates and willing to correct
People who use pens and permanent markers
are pre-conceived, rigid and not willing to change without  paying a price
The fun is in working towards achievement and once achieved fun is lost
The fun is to live a full life and once lived, interest lost
The full puzzle needs to be solved and no marks for part fulfillment
Life has to be lived in full and no marks if exiting unfulfilled or insignificantly

Depending on the choice you make you can choose the difficulty level of the game in the range as Random / Very Easy / Easy / Medium / Hard / Very Hard / Super Hard / Evil / Extreme. As can be expected, resources would be more for easy level of difficulty and scarcer as the level of difficulty escalates.

Similarly, in life too, it is we who need to discover as to what level of difficulty we are in and try to solve patiently and with a calm disposition to grow and end up a winner.

Isn't it? Well, what do you think? You tell me! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Thanks (English), Dhonyabaad (Bangla), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai) and Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino)

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India