The best game from childhood would have been ‘lets pretend’ ! In a boy’s worlds, that would undoubtedly mean running around with a toy gun and thinking of himself as a police officer. A lot of characters enter and leave this stage of play acting : truck driver, elephant mahout, soldier, monster killer are a few such names that I can recollect. As years slip by, realisation dawns for a majority of us about what these jobs entail. Beyond the obvious financial implications and societal divisions of occupations, these fragile dreams of childhood disappear to be replaced by the orthodoxy of career oriented education ( in India this corresponds to the disciplines of engineering and medicine ). A few though choose to chase their dreams and either become shining stars or disappear in a contended if not mediocre oblivion.
The power of popular media can never be discounted in creating such colourful and larger than life images in the minds of the young ones. All this preamble of mine was to drop a quick anecdote about a popular movie in Malayalam named ‘Manichithrataazhu’ which dealt with the concepts of dual personalities and possession in an extremely popular fashion. One of the protagonists in the story is an established psychiatrist who is able to bring in reason and scientific thought to an otherwise open and shut case of demonic possession. The movie was so very popular that in the couple of years that followed, there was an influx of students wanting to study psychiatry ! Most of it came to nothing for they soon realised that reality is much less colourful.
All this came to mind as I was reading a book on neurology by V.S.Ramachandran whose work on the concepts of the phantom limb is something that I find to be infinitely interesting. There was one line that caught my mind in particular on a question about the nature of god. When asked what would god be like, an answer that a neurologist could think of would be that god is a cartographer. The reason being that the human brain is a collection of a mind boggling number of maps and pathways. A simple action of a smile or a hand gesture involves countless connections and relays going to work to get it done. Imagine what would it be if the maps went wrong even by the slightest bit or were plotted in a different fashion ! I am fascinated ! But no, I am not going to study neurology on a whim !