A life lived

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“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

This is a biographical book on famous physicist and nobel prize winner Dr. Richard P Feynman.
His Lectures on physics (3 volumes) are popular books. Any low day, browsing through few pages of that would resurrect the mood in me.During one program on BBC, a interview of his friends revealed some insights about the person.
But this book show many facets that one can hardly imagine.Highly inquisitive Feynman nursed a great love for Physics, but book covers his many other eye-popping experiments and experiences. Be it about safecracking,drumming,drawing or learning languages, or at various responsibilities, this man did so much in his life will make any reader envious and dreaming about it. He lived so many lives.
His honesty is another point to be appreciated. I would love to have the freedom with which he could make choices, the way he could live and work!
Except for the last chapter (Cargo cult science ) which is out of place, the whole book is entertaining read. Apart from death of his wife and re-marriages of which there are just passing references, most of it are detailed and I enjoyed them. Safe cracking, drumming, painting chapters I just kept asking myself – ” did that actually happen? Wish I experience something close to it.”
Only places I feel sad for the man was when he came in interaction with the work that involved government and all his work goes down the drain – that of
selecting textbooks. It exposes many layers of corruption, irresponsibility and negligence that are applicable even today to various Government undertakings. 13 signature may look blunt and silly from outside but it re-inforces two points – One, about red tapism. Second, How stubborn Feynman could actually get and how committed was he to his words. In honesty and this stubbornness, the book reminded me of Gandhi’s autobio.
I particularily like the entire chapter on safecracker, an incident where his father walks upto a midreader and gets to know his tricks by flattering him(hey–I too try such stuff ; will tell you some other time), the incident where Feynman finds the vulnerable outlet by fluke, his experiences in Brazil, the Nobel episode (imagine a person saying “Yeah..but I am sleeping; why don’t you call me up in the morning” when he was informed that he had won Nobel prize), lucky numbers, attending biology/philosophy classes, learning other languages…oh too many to list.
Miracles, which often happened, I feel, tried to match his genius and mischiefs. At the end, it is a life LIVED, lived to fullest and in colour.

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