The day when I practised “Mentalism”


Probably the earliest instance of telepathy :-p
Probably the earliest instance of telepathy :-p

The other day I was watching a show on mentalism on National Geographic. Though sceptical about such shows most of which seem to be staged nowadays, I couldn’t help but remember my own tryst with accidental telepathy, way back in high school.

It was the Doordarshan era and interesting shows were only a handful. “Turning Point” hosted by Girish Karnad was a favorite. That show had a Q&A section handled by Prof Yashpal. We could write our questions in a postcard and send it to them. They would choose questions using some heuristics and answer them in the show.

I was (am) a voracious reader and I read about some guys in a novel who were communicating with each other via “telepathy”. I was intrigued. I wanted to know more about telepathy and how it worked. I wrote my question in a postcard and posted it. And forgot all about it for some months.

One day, my English teacher at school asked me if my question about telepathy was answered in the show. I was flabbergasted. I hadn’t talked about my curiosity about telepathy with anybody and wondered how did my teacher knew about it. I asked her.

She gave a bewildered look and asked me, “You did tell me telepathically about your question and that you had posted your card”. Taken aback, I started thinking about when I did that and how did that happen. I was amazed with myself for having been able to transmit messages mentally. I was also wary about having amnesia. Maybe I had discussed this with my teacher and had forgotten about it. On all accounts, my mind was in a free whirl the whole day and a couple of days after.

After a week, my teacher gave me a postcard. That was my own postcard in which I had written my question and had posted it to Turning Point.

It turned out that I hadn’t posted it after all. Me and my teacher both used to go the public library in our neighbourhood to read and borrow books. I had written the postcard and must have kept it inside one of those books. My teacher had accidentally come across that postcard and used it to pull my leg.

I did send my question after that, but I guess Prof. Yashpal didn’t know the answer after all 😀

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Solstice at Panipat


Reading the book “Solstice at Panipat” made me reflect upon the fact about how history takes a bird’s eye view of one’s lifetime. And how most of how details of the events that shape up are lost either in the humongous amount of din or in the lack of.

A veritable time machine, the book by Dr Uday S Kulkarni threw open doors to the not so distant past, hitherto little known to me. Probably I’m not the only one whose knowledge of the Marathas (and India) is so less. History in school was so dry.

It is my firm belief that, history or any story for that matter cannot be clearly described only in black and white, but always in shades of grey. The book too reinforces this belief.

It was a revelation of sorts to learn that the Marathas were responsible for the security of the Mughal empire. As was learning about the impervious relations between the Rajputs and the Marathas.

Malhar Rao Holkar and Najib Khan seem to be the key nobles of the time who made a difference. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if Malhar Rao Holkar would not have protected Najib Khan. Probably Abdali wouldn’t have come to India, and the Marathas would have established much more control over the whole of North India. And this might have helped blocking the English from gaining a foot hold and later extending their presence in the whole of India.

Another salient point that could be gleaned is the fact that most of India was under constant turmoil during the same time European countries were experiencing relative calm in their mainland. This probably explains the lack of industrial advancement in India as compared to Europe and America though we were quite advanced in fields like architecture, medicine, etc.

The amount of research that has gone into writing the book, contrasts with the abysmal level of analysis and general lack of application by other well known contemporary historians.

The only criticism that I can think of is that in the midst of the narration, references are made asynchronously which made it difficult to follow. But then, just explaining things chronologically would have made it yet another high school textbook.

The book and the author are an inspiration for students of Indian history. And a must buy and read. (The author himself has published it. Hence, the recommendation to buy and support)

I also posted this on Good Reads –