Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seal Wars: The Unsolved Indus Valley Mystery

Since the accidental discovery of the lost world of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, we have found ourselves beset by countless unanswered questions: Who were the people? Where did they come from? What language did they speak? Where did they disappear? Did they have anything to do with the Aryans? Some of these answers, if not all, can be hoped to be found by deciphering the numerous seals with engraved hieroglyphics excavated from the Indus Valley ruins. About 6 years back, a team of linguists/historians came up with the somewhat disappointing conclusion that the symbols did not represent any language at all and were merely a part of a "nonlinguistic sign system." Today, however, the media is abuzz with the work of Rao et al, which recently appeared in Science, where the team has sought mathematical justification based on an information theoretic approach to support their hypothesis that the Indus Valley hieroglyphics indeed represent a natural language!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Hummingbird

A hummingbird came hovering near my window -
Cheerful, sprightly, free from cares and woes.
Enthralling me with merry midair antics,
He cured me of my Monday morning blues.

He spun and dove and smoothly somersaulted
With tremendous poise and figure-skating grace.
He finished with a bow so picture-perfect
As a disarming smile fleeted across his face.

He serenaded from outside my window.
Across the glass, I watched him pantomime.
It struck a dulcet chord in my heart that bred
The most perfect melody, meter, and rhyme.

Infected by the carefree, happy spirit
I looked into those inconspicuous eyes -
It sent me swirling down a magical vortex
Of glee, consternation, and surprise.

Suddenly I had learned to defy gravity.
Like my avian friend I too began to soar.
The pangs of a cold, humdrum existence
Seemed to afflict my humbled self no more.