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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Living Every Moment

Sometimes, I think ...

How sad it is that we end up leading the life of a slave to meet our expectations of ourselves -- to become rich, successful, inspirational ... But the worst happens when we actually become successful! Because we create a false example of success for many others who consider us their heroes or role-models, condemning them to a life of slavery!

 How about we let go of those false self-expectations and focus on leading each day, each moment as if were a lifetime, a work of art? What would happen if we stopped defiling the present moment so that somebody would erect a statue of us and worship it when we are gone?

Monday, December 28, 2020

Wild Wild Western Ghats

If you are pressed for time, here's the photo album.

I am sure most people are now tired of staying home all the time. Following social distancing "strictly" has now clearly got understood as very unnatural. We, as individuals, as a species, are hunter-gatherers, foragers. We have a biological need to go out, and interact with others of our kind. Staying home 100% of the time probably provides the best protection against the pandemic. But doing so comes with its costs both in terms of health -- both physical and mental and social connections.

Hence, as far as social distancing goes, most of us are playing the game of probability. That is, we are good kids most of the times. But every once in a while, we get naughty -- we break the rules and take the risks. Doesn't mean that we don't think COVID is real, nor because we think that social distancing is not needed. But simply because doing so all the time would drive us crazy!


So, all for the keeping of our sanity, we headed out to Sakleshpur on Christmas day (December 25, 2020), to have a short vacation in the Western Ghats. We chose Kadu Mane Hills Resort for our stay a mid-level resort with excellent amenities, friendly staff, and great surroundings.

Drive Up

The drive is of about 6 hours. We started sharp at 6 am from Bangalore, and were at our destination by around 12.15 pm, with approximately an hour in between for two break -- one for breakfast and one for water.

Day One

We settled in and relaxed for the rest of the day. When we arrived, we saw no other guests, but within hours two to three large groups arrived. By 4-5 pm, the resort was bustling with around 30-35 guests. We took short walks to explore the surrounding area which is mountainous and covered with forest, tried some of the adventure games in the resort, and enjoyed the bonfire set up for the guests in the evening.

 



Day Two

The second day started with an unplanned trek up the hills. There must have been 20 trekkers ranging from 10 to 70 years of age. A 2 km walk took us through paddy fields, thick jungles and steep ascents to the top of the nearby hill. The view was breath taking.


 

We came down the same way, and marched straight on to the dining place for a well-earned breakfast.

Next was a drive to a nearby waterfall named Majagahalli Falls. Most chose to hop on to a rugged truck. We decided to drive ourselves. There was again a small trek down to the falls from where we parked. The shallow brook, nestled between thick foliage, decked with a gushing waterfall, was one of the most beautiful places I have been to, straight out of some Bollywood flick. I gradually got tempted to first wet my feet in the ice cold water, then to wade till waist deep, and eventually to go all out, taking a full dip and swim -- with my trousers on! That chill in the flowing water will warm my heart for many years to come. Of course, the site of Vigyan, who was visibly upset on not being able to participate in the fun due to his fracture, was very difficult for us. And yet, I feel, such heartbreaking moments are a precious source of learning for kids (and grown ups too) -- to know that it's better to make the best of what's available, rather than lamenting over what's not.

 
On our way back two senior ladies from the other group -- one of them the 90 year old matriarch of the family -- decided to join us in our car as the truck ride was too jostling. I didn't try to keep up with the truck which moved too fast for me; and probably that was a mistake. Soon we lost them, and we had to resort to Google Maps. Initially refusing to come up, Maps led us through some seriously rough, narrow and bumpy paths. It gave me many a moment of jitters, not the least as I was driving two ladies of the other family. Thankfully, we did make it back to the resort with no event to report of.

Evening, like day one, saw a bonfire being lit. Many of us gathered around it to play Antyakshari, but were soon pleasantly interrupted by notes of live music from the dining area. A musician was commissioned for some live music, karaoke and dance. Many of us performed several songs. Of course, Shilpi and I were there too. It was great fun! The tempo gradually rose to a point where you could just dance to the beats, not sing along with it. There was some alcohol in the atmosphere which helped turn the heat a few degrees higher. We didn't partake of it. But did enjoy its effects nevertheless!

Thus came to its end the most eventful day of our short trip.

Day Three


Third day was the day for coming back. We finished our breakfast and headed out for the Manjarabad Fort. It's a nice hilltop site with a fort belonging to Tipu Sultan. A 250 and odd steps took us up the hill. By now (11 am), the day was warm enough to make the star-shaped stone fort swelter with heat. Up there, I plonked myself at a shaded spot and enjoyed the view of many visitors enjoying the site.

Journey Back

We finally started back home by about 12.30 pm. The journey back was reasonably comfortable. We stopped to have our lunch at Suruchi restaurant, a vegetarian eatery near Hassan. Shilpi and I opted for vegetarian meals and Vigyan went with Naan and Paneer chilly. In the midst of the mental discomfort we were feeling due to the overcrowding of the place in the pandemic times, we found the food quite good. We entered the hustle bustle of Bangalore by around 5 pm. Barring some unpleasantness and delay near the Tumkur Road Toll Gate of NICE Road, the drive back was uneventful. We were home shortly after 7 pm. A drive stretched by well over an hour due to heavy traffic.

Highlights and Memories

The Kadumane Hills Resort will take the prime spot among our memories of the place. The timber cottage was spacious, clean and comfortable, providing a breathtaking view of the nearby hills.

The food would be a close next. Kadumane is a vegetarian place, and serves food cooked in Malnad style. The food is delicious -- not spicy, not bland -- just cooked the right way. People who like South Indian food would surely love it.

The resort pays attention to environment friendliness -- serving food in biodegradable utensils. However, it would be a lie if I say they succeeded completely. There were some tissue-papers, some styrofoam cups and such. But given the pandemic scare, and the staff which still seems not to have built to its full strength, I think they deserve a pat for trying hard.

For some like us, the absence of the need to plan our vacation days ahead of time is a great blessing. The resort, housed in natural and rugged environs of the Western Ghats, provides umpteen opportunities to the enthusiastic soul to explore and experience the jungles and hills. Some of the guests actually even treated themselves with a game of mud-volleyball. Further, a number of adventure games are there to be enjoyed within the premises.

One of the top memories would be of the large family of guests. There were -- I think -- sixteen people, connected through an elaborate family tree. At its head -- as mentioned earlier -- a senior lady nearly 90 years of age. A majority of them were seniors in the fifties and sixties. A few were in their 30s. Rounded off with two little girls may be 5 and 10 years of age. It was a treat watching their bonding and dynamics, to interact with them and gradually get friendly.

Vigyan's arm injury and how it came in his way of enjoying the vacation to the fullest was a saddening aspect. Often, we were tempted to abstain from certain activities as our child wasn't able to participate. But, we knew it would be wrong to do so. Vigyan's mature attitude in accepting this limitation was both heartbreaking and heartwarming for me as his father. On the day three, Vigyan finally took to the ropewalking game. I was apprehensive, but supported him. Here's him in the middle of his adventure:


Yet another observation was the complete disregard for the pandemic. Proponents of social distancing would probably cringe at the liberty people -- many in their senior years -- were taking whether in the eateries en route, in the tourist spots, or in the resort. In fact, there was a doctor family lodging in the adjacent cottage. On day 2, the doctor himself sprang a cute surprise. Definitely with a few drinks down, he made a fairly jovial sight being seen dancing to foot tapping numbers in close proximity with other guests. To hell with social distancing; and to hell with masks! When we put our masks back on on re-entering Bangalore roads, we smiled to each other, at the irony of it all.

We all have been through much this year. I will not pretend that I was amongst the sufferers. I was most likely not, considering what many others went through -- losing life and livelihood. In fact, personally, I recollect this year as one of the most rewarding years of my life. And yet, the monotony of working from home had, somewhere, taken its toll. This little vacation was an attempt to break that monotony.
 
If this post has taken you away -- even for a moment -- into the misty mountains of Western Ghats, I would consider the effort of having written it well paid for. 😀

Thursday, December 24, 2020

2020 - Annual Summary

This is a personal journal to document my highlights and experiences of this year. It's meant for feeling gratitude and, if possible, personal joy, and is by no means meant as an instrument of self-promotion. Why then do I share it in public? I feel that looking back at your year brings clarity and accountability. One year is a substantial amount of time, a great resource. It's a good exercise to assess how well it was used. Hopefully I will inspire some to take up something similar. Also, my format is there for my readers to use or not use.

This year has been one of the most fruitful years in my life so far. I thought up better technical ideas than before and was able to turn some of them out to the world in the form of papers, articles, talks and such. I clearly took very well to online mode of teaching. I read more than ever before. I drew more than ever before and grew better in my own eyes (which, believe me, is the hardest part!). I wrote a lot both technically and otherwise, though I couldn't publish anything in popular media this year. And I think, I kept improving my singing and my understanding of the nuances of music in tiny little steps. I am about to complete a year of living peacefully with my family under near-lockdown conditions. Knowing how divorces and domestic violence are on the rise all around, I would like to thank my stars on that count. I continued doing Yoga as per the regime started last year, and then diversified to jogging and cycling. Though I could definitely have done better on fitness front, I wouldn't say I did too badly there. I am a kilo or two lighter than I was a year ago.
 
The causes which drove these externally visible changes are deep inside me. It's impossible to write about them without sounding silly. But I will try to share a few reflections in the end of this post. Hope they will be found helpful.

(My near and dear ones! A request. If you see any omission, please remind me through a personal note.)

Research

Conference Publications

  1. StaBL: Statechart with Local Variables (ISEC 2020)
  2. Automated Testing of Refreshable Braille Display (HCC 2020)
  3. Discovering Multiple Design Approaches in Programming Assignment Submissions (SAC 2021)

 Workshop

  1. A Simulator for State Chart Based Language (Workshop on Research Highlights in Programming Languages, FSTTCS 2020)

Student Milestones

  1. State-of-the-art Seminar of Varsha Suresh
  2. State-of-the-art Seminar of Nikhila KN

Teaching

  1. Programming Languages (Spring 2020, iMTech)
  2. Fundamentals of Programming (Summer 2020, MSc Digital Society) 
  3. Program Analysis for Software Engineering (Autumn 2020, PG Elective)
  4. Programming in Python (Autumn 2020, iMTech)

Voluntary teaching. In summer 2020, I taught a short online course on 'Introduction to Programming and Computational Thinking' to some kids of friends and neighbours. As a note of thanks, the parents of the participants committed to contribute to COVID relief work.

Projects. I did a number of projects this year with various students. I consider the willingness of students to work closely with you a very distinctive evidence of your having connected well with them through your teaching. That way, I am very happy with this achievement.

Talks and Panel Discussion

  1. Webinar on Online Teaching (July 2020, NIE)
  2. Panel Discussion on Online Education (August 2020) 
  3. Webinar on AI for Education (November 2020, MINRO)
  4. Hindi and Premchand Sahitya (December 2020, IIITB Samvaad)
  5. Symbolic Execution in Testing and Verification (December 2020, Philips)

 Books Read

  1.  ग़बन
  2. राग दरबारी
  3. Sapiens
  4. Talks in Washington (J. Krishnamurthy)
  5. The Shape of the Ruins
  6. The White Castle
  7. The Moor's Last Sigh
  8. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
... and many others which I started but left unfinished, as always.

 Art

This year was phenomenal in terms of my productivity in art. This is the first time, I am able to list (almost) all the drawings I have made this year. This itself is a phenomenon for me!

  1. Milind Mulick's water colouring workshop -- July 2020
  2. Stockholm Water painting -- August 2020
  3. Laapataa -- Dishwashing
  4. Laapataa -- Meditation
  5. Laapataa -- Online Antyakshari
  6. Laapataa -- Why PhD 1
  7. Laapataa -- Why PhD 2
  8. Laapataa -- Digital Migration
  9. Laapataa -- Nothing works in India
  10. Untitled comic strip -- Watering plants
  11. How to do Studies
  12. Motu Patlu
  13. Autism -- Hold Mamma's Hand
  14. Autism -- Do not drop things from the Balcony
  15. Autism -- Behave Well in Shops
  16. Pen Sketch -- Deserted Electronics City
  17. Pen Sketch -- Landscape for Vigyan's Project
  18. Lonely culvert
Photo links: My Drawings Laapataa

Highlights

  1. Migration to online teaching
  2. Migration to digital art
  3. Vigyan's injury
  4. Commitment to physical fitness
  5. Promotion
  6. Entry to Instagram

Entry

  1. Kiki. My neighbour and friend Sabyasachi and his wife Jhuma was blessed with a daughter this year. Kiki's arrival and growing up through the last few months has been a source of much joy for our entire family.
  2. Hasuni's grandchild. Our domestic help Hasuni got a grandchild -- her daughter's son.

Exit

This year has been one of the worst in terms of the number of demises that happened in my extended circles. A major killer, expectedly, was COVID. But there were other reasons too.

Personal acquaintances

  1. Tridib Roy Choudhury
  2. Aseem Banerjee
  3. Arun Kumar
  4. Sunil Shetty
  5. Surendra Mule
  6. PVN Murthy
  7. Sheetal Amte

Celebrities

  1. Irrfan Khan
  2. Sushant Singh Rajput
  3. Rishi Kapoor
  4. Soumitra Chatterjee
  5. S P Balasubramium
  6. Pranab Mukherjee
  7. Rahat Indori
  8. Edmund Clarke

Reflection

  1. Problem decomposition. I can't trace back to the origin of this idea that big problems can be broken down to smaller manageable chunks. Over the years, I have started more and more interested in this idea. So much so that the act of trying to do something difficult has started turning into an exercise of problem decomposition. It won't be wrong to say that the whole fun of doing anything now is centred around this aspect. In 2020, I made significant progress in this direction.
  2. Keeping journal. I have been planning my days for at least a decade if not longer. Recently, I came across an interesting variant of maintaining to-do lists: bullet journal. For the last one month or so, I have migrated to bullet journal. It's working well so far.
  3. Looking at obstacles as milestones. This is very much a part of problem decomposition idea. You may start with a very restricted definition of the problem you want to solve. But you realise that to start taking the steps leading to its solution, you need to get certain things out of your way. It's been long an attitude to look at this secondary elements as hurdles or obstacles in the way of my doing what I want to do. However, a recent realisation has been that being able to look at unforeseen obstacles as an integral part of the problem is a very important part of keeping calm and staying focused.
  4. Benefits of solitude. The pandemic has many evil aspects to it. And they talk a lot about them. And they are all true. But one thing that's true and not evil is the fact that the solitude and isolation it has brought has been soothing for the introvert part of me, which likes to sit quietly and talk to itself, and imagine and brood and create. It's hard to pin down, but it could well be that the reason why this year has been one of the most productive and rewarding years of my life so far could be this disappearance of the overhead of meeting lots and lots of people: students barging into the office, classroom of more students staring at you during the lectures, visitors, colleagues stopping by to say Hi. No, none of them is really bad. It's just that when we were working from office, it used to be just too many of them. It was draining and unhelpful beyond a point. Now, I am protected by this screen I face. Each meeting must be scheduled. I am allowed to not pick a call if I don't feel like. Yet, surprisingly, I feel I have had more meetings during this pandemic period than ever before. I have collaborated more. I have done more teamwork than in a face-to-face mode. Or may be, it's just that I have been able to make my interactions with other count more as I have been able to prevent my energies from getting dissipated in futile and unproductive socialisation.

Thoughts about the Coming Year

I definitely would like to see the pandemic losing its iron grip on humanity this year. I would like us all to be free to move around more: attend schools, colleges and offices, socialise more fearlessly and travel. I hope people who have lost their livelihood, things should brighten up for them.

What I would not want to change is the calm I hear from the road, the purity of air I breathe and the enjoyable experience of driving due to lessened traffic congestion. If the pandemic has taught people a few lessons about doing more with less, about finding methods of self-employment and self-reliance, I hope they don't quickly forget them once the pandemic goes away.

Personally, lockdown taught me many valuable lessons: about online teaching and collaboration, digital art, and most importantly about myself and my natural preferences, which indeed lean towards peace and solitude and not towards unbridled socialisation. I manifested in my productivity and the general pleasantness of my disposition. I would like to continue to give myself this peace and solitude even when things open up outside.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Hypocrisy of Film-stars

The other day. in a weak moment spurred by boredom, I started watching Tiger 3 (someone just made me realise that it was Baaghi 3 starring Tiger Shroff! 🤮🤮😝😝). I couldn't survive beyond a few minutes. The stereotypical characters: a macho hero, a weakling sidekick brother, a sexy looking dumb heroine cracking double meaning jokes ... I can stand all that. What I can't stand is that these film stars, in their public appearances, will talk intellectual sounding fashionable stuff ... talking about emancipating ourselves from those same stereotypes: that a man needs to be macho, that men shouldn't cry, or being sensitive is a sign of weakness, that only dumb and physically attractive woman have "a chance". Presumably, these are movies made for mass entertainment. These masses have nothing better than your movies as sources of information! If you feed them with all unrealistic images in your movies, no amount of talking intellectual sounding stuff about equality etc. in your press appearances is going to make up for that. In fact, it's worse than hypocrisy: You feed the public with junk when you want their money, and then you talk about social causes and philosophy in your press appearances in an attempt to absolve yourself of your sins. Shame! Shame!

Monday, September 07, 2020

Losing a Close Colleague

This is not an obituary. This is a cry of pain.

For the first time, I am feeling the depressing weight of the pandemic truly weighing on me. I realise that I am exceptionally shaken by the heart breaking news that came crashing down on us last evening. Tridib Roy Chowdhury, the centre manager for the MINRO Centre in IIIT-B left for the heavenly abode yesterday. Suddenly.

Tridib wasn't the kind of a guy you would expect to go like this. Tridib was in his late fifties, but was extremely fit. An avid sportsman and cycling enthusiast. By his looks, he could have given any young person in his early thirties a run for his money. You read the obituaries that came pouring on Facebook yesterday, and you know what he was: and IITian, an inspiration, a mentor, a successful corporate, an exceptional human being.

His going like this hurts at many levels. Firstly, this is my first experience of losing a close colleague like this. I had got many opportunities of interacting closely with him over the last one and half years. I had seen how hard he was trying to bring in the positive energy, the movement, the result-orientedness that drives the corporate world, into our laid back academic world. I had found his energy infectious. And all the accolades that came along through the Refreshable Braille Display project had largely to do with him.

Secondly, It wasn't COVID, or an accident, or something of that kind for God's sake! Seeing a fit person like him succumbing to a freak cardiac incident fills my heart with a chill. If keeping fit doesn't safeguard you from your heart giving up on fine day just like that, then what does? I tend to lose my enthusiasm about the effectiveness of a healthy life-style in preventing your life from getting cut short from something we typically associate with bad lifestyle. It's really disappointing.

Thirdly, I realise how inept, unequipped we are in feeling -- leaving alone expressing -- our shock and pain! For an hour after getting the news (from Facebook), I sat there alone in my living room: numb, dazed and stupefied. Both my wife and my son were in two different rooms doing their things. They had no way to know how nerve-wracking those moments were for me. My education, my 'status', has robbed me of my ability to scream out, to accept that I am suffering, to acknowledge even to myself that I am in pain, to cry for help.

And finally, the ominous reality of the pandemic seems to finally dawn on me. It's not an open wound, not a raging burn. It's a slow, dull pain which is continuously at work inside us. It has shifted the ground level of our despair just that much higher so that one or two incidents of this kind will throw many of us over the edge. Government figures will write these off as collaterals, co-morbidities. Not COVID deaths.

A brief moment yesterday brought me the realisation how alone we are away from our near and dear ones, how helpless and vulnerable we are against the power of fate, how ridiculous it is to centre your life around thoughts of the future, and to make too much of our glorious past and present. At that moment, I would have given anything to have a shoulder to cry on, a heart that would know my feelings, a voice that would tell them to me without my having to find my voice, a reassurance that it was OK to feel sad and afraid.

At this moment, I am looking for a bunch of friends to huddle together with and whimper and cry. Nothing else!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Dissociating Emotions from People

It's not possible to like or dislike people uniformly. There are people with whom we share warmth and liking. And there are those with whom there's a coldness that can't be removed. In many cases, our interactions with people are so shallow that it doesn't matter if we let them go out of our life because we didn't enjoy our first few interactions with them. This is not affordable in some cases, in particular when it involves a friend, a colleague or someone within the family.

At work, developing an overall negative emotional chemistry with a co-worker can have very detrimental effect on our productivity and our sense of fulfillment from our work. With friends, a person with whom you must have spent many beautiful moments, tagging that person with one adjective based on an isolated experience could prove very costly. In the family scenario, tagging a person as unlikable or obnoxious may make it hard to feel happy and peaceful in your own house. Again, it's not meant to say that people can't be obnoxious. For example, if you are trapped in a relation under a roof with an abusive person, you may actually get to realise that much after you decide to get into a relation with him/her (if at all you get that opportunity to choose in the first place).

Assuming that not to be the case, one thing which does help a lot in such situations is to look at persons as a collection of, often unrelated, characteristics. A person may be lazy, but creative; lacking focus, but witty; insecure, but diligent; haphazard and disorganised, but sharp; rude, but honest ... you get it, right?

Controlling the Visceral Reaction

If we see that the relation with a person is going downhill, more often than not, it's because of a negative spiral of show of mutual dislike. When we see a sense of dislike in another person, we often feel hurt, and before anything, want to hurt back. This is a natural visceral reaction. But with practice, this can be controlled. If we realise that the dislike for us in that person may be because of a particular aspect of us, it (often) immediately attenuates the sudden urge to dislike back.

 A person disliking us (or mostly certain aspect of us) isn't a clear evidence of that being a negative characteristic in us. Rather, it's most likely something that is causing the other person to feel threatened for some justified or unjustified reason. Here's an example of an unjustified reason: your being talented may be a disadvantage to the other person if both of you are in the same competitive space. Often, something good in us forces the other person to the unpleasant predicament to having to look at some of his/her negative aspect. For example, if you are quick at finishing tasks, while the other person takes longer, your showing quick results may force the other person to accept his/her weakness w.r.t. you. He/she would rather not do that, even if projecting it as a vain, show-off or beligerant attitude of yours. Another example: if you are good orator while the other person struggles to hold the interest of the audience even with great effort, that person may judge you as using flowery and fluffy language -- probably because he/she doesn't want to accept to himself/herself that he/she is not as good as you in communication skills.

In short, when a person shows dislike for us, instead of falling for the visceral reaction of disliking back even more intensely, it helps to critically look at the above aspects. If not anything else, it helps tone down and/or slow down our own reaction. This may be crucial in arresting a relation with another person in going into an irreversible negative spiral.

Reflecting

Note that, we are also subject to these reactions. So, I am not being judgemental about anybody, nor am I assuming that we are free of these vices. It helps knowing and accepting this. It's important not to loathe oneself for not being perfect. Self-loathing is often the biggest reason why we react in a toxic manner to others.

Expressing Appreciation

Treating people as a collection of disparate characteristics also allows us to look at their positive aspects in isolation. Assuming that the interpersonal dynamics haven't already degenerated to irreversible damage, there are opportunities coming our way every now and then to express this positive observation. Being able to look at different characteristics of the same person in isolation has a lot of benefits. For one, the other person realises that we haven't mentally given up on the relation from our side, and are willing to do our bit to save it. This itself is a great plus. Further, when the other person sees that we don't look at him/her entirely in a negative light, it's a proof that our dislike for them isn't so great as to have blinded you from looking at his/her positive aspects. Internally, when we genuinely see a positive aspect of the other person, it appears morally OK to appreciate that. Note that we don't praise or criticise a person but specific characteristics. Two negative and positive characteristics can co-exist in the same person. And it's completely OK to praise or criticise them at two points in time.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Is Religion Such a Ridiculous Idea?

You may count me as an atheist. Some reasons:
  • I don't think all nature leads to any conclusive evidence of it having been created by a sentient/intelligent creator, or being maintained by one. I don't think that for a moral society, we need constructs like God.
  • I don't consider religious rituals the only good or even the best way to bring camaraderie or cohesion among people.
  • I don't consider spiritual experiences as necessarily religious.

But hello my atheist friend! Wait a moment before considering me one among you. Here's how I am not exactly like you:
  • I don't think religion is a stupid construct, let alone being a vile one.
  • I don't think science conclusively proves the absence of an intelligent creation.
  • I don't consider religious people stupid in any way. I know extremely intelligent (and wise) people who are religious. And I don't count it as their failing.
  • I don't reject the good deeds, qualities, thoughts of people just because they place it in a religious context.

Faith, like food habits, are not all cerebral in nature. They are handed down to us from our culture, and by the time we get the intellectual choice to question them, they would have played too critical a role in our making -- both in good ways as otherwise -- for us to have a total freedom to forsake them.
In fact, if one is a true sceptic, he will refrain from judging and ridiculing others, or passing blanket statements about someone's faith. When this restraint is broken, your atheism is no different than those religions you so eloquently ridicule.