31 October 2005

Illusion of the mind

Cool Illusion. Trick your brains out.

Brand New Week

A brand new week has begun. Its funny how the gym is emptier in winter than it is in summer. In summer people are partying at the beach. In winter, its too cold to get their lazy bodies out to a work out. Saw a couple of good movies over the weekend. Check my blog here.

We also went to downtown DC after a long time. Did you know that they are renovating the parking lot under the Washington monument ? There is no parking allowed under the monument because of all that construction work. Damn, I used to love to park there and walk up the hill. Instead we parked in the lot overlooking the potomac, behind the lincoln memorial, on the way to Rock Creek park. Anyway, we were actually searching for this awesome Indian restaurant that I had been to some 5 years back. My roommate and I would take the blue line to MacPherson Square down a couple of blocks to this place. I knew it was somewhere on 14th and Connecticut Ave or was it 15th and Constitution Ave ? Anyway, we drove around trying to figure it out and then gave up. Bill Clinton frequented it while he was president, so that is where its popularity comes from, apart from the good food. Ah that reminds me, it was close to the White House. So it has to be somewhere near where I suspect. Okay I give up, I am gonna google it up. Goooooogling....Yes found it, it is the Bombay club on 815 Connecticut Avenue. See I was right, partly at least. You have to approach it from 17th Street. Me and my dysfunctional GPS!
The main reason for visiting DC though, was our long delayed visit to the Holocaust museum in South West DC. Having read way too many books on World War II, not to mention the movies and having gone through the agony of reading Hitler's biography, I was half expecting the gory innards of the museum. The gruelling pictures and objects were as horrendous as I had expected them to be. Actual shoes, artifacts from people slaughtered, the replica of the gas ovens. What a terrible nightmare! The deviousness of the human mind is unfathomable. All that to cater to a mustached cretin's delusions.
Nevertheless life goes on, and we begin a brand new week. Its Halloween time here in the U.S and we are back to standard time. One more hour of sleep. Yipee! Trick or Treat ladies and gentlemen.

Two wonderful movies

This weekend we watched a Brazilian movie Behind the Sun. Very nicely done movie based on the Albanian author Ismail Kadaré's book Broken April. A family feud that avenges by the principle of an eye for an eye finally leaves a family with no eye so to speak. Very metaphorical for some of the troubled times that the middle east has been going through.
On a different note, we also watched an amazing English comedy called Saving Grace. Stars Craig Ferguson of Drew Carey Show fame. Very nice plot about how human nature can go to any extreme to survive. A middle aged women who is pushed to the brink, takes up an illegal cultivation just to stay afloat. Human beings walk a thin line indeed. As always, the English countryside is breathtaking.

26 October 2005

Bangalore drowned out

Fresh pictures of a drowned Bangalore. Courtesy Kishore from good old bangalore. Its almost midnight, I was finishing up some school work, thought I should post these before I get bogged down with work and forget about it.
Here's an ode to the city, with due apologies to H. W. Longfellow.
Be still, sad city, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each city some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

25 October 2005

Optimism

I was reading about the troubles plaguing the Bangalore IT conference and couldn't help but wonder if there will be some light at the end of this tunnel. Narrow minded politicians can only win so many times. There should be some justice for humanity that tries to work hard, excel and progress their own lives and the lives of their fellow men. How can the bad sheep always pull the good ones down all the time ? I stumbled on Jane Hirshfield during this quest and I quote...
Optimism
More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another.
A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs--all this resinous, unretractable earth.

- Jane Hirshfield

Jane is a former visiting associate professor at UC Berkeley, Elliston; Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati, and member of the Bennington College MFA faculty.

24 October 2005

A lost cause ?

Just finished my mid terms. I should kick myself for not studying enough. That aside, I watched the Martin Scorsese movie Kundun last night. Very atypical style for Scorsese. But I kinda liked it. Very ethereal, almost meditation like flow to the entire movie. It did not bother to fill in a lot of gaps. It was not a typical biopic, in a way. That is why I guess. I googled up info about tibet after that. Did you know that there are a 100,000 tibetans living in 35 communities in India ? At least 4000-5000 more run away from tibet and join the rest in India. A very peace loving people.. ever wonder why they are not able to evoke the same kind of response that Chechnya, Bosnia, Aceh, Palestine and other troubled regions are able to get ? I guess its all politics of need. The places with the most economic or strategic interest to the big nations are the places with some sort of incentive to defend. I don't know if anyone can stand up to China on such issues, least of all India. Nehru laid the sad foundation of meekness with respect to china and we toe his line to this day, even in the case of Tibet.
I hope the Tibetans get back their nation. By the way, India; Good job in helping them out. Please keep it up, you are living up to your vedic traditions. The guest is supreme."

What an irony when you think about it. The bodhisatva began teaching his philosophy from India.. then centuries of invasions and revivals wiped out buddhism from india and finally in the 20th century the Dalai Lama has to retreat to India to preserve it !

18 October 2005

Retrospective Series: Part 5: Are you from India ?

Are you from India ? Something that I have been hearing so often these days! In most cases there is a certain astonishment, certain joy in the voice of the questioner, not a disdain that one might suspect. Some evenings, when my wife and I are dead tired after a long day's work we stop by at a nearby Afghan Kabob place. Simple place, a dump by american standards, but nevertheless amazing food. The lamb kabobs are ...Read More...

10 October 2005

Hell hath no fury like nature scorned

I am sure everyone has heard about the earthquake that shook muzzaffarabad, in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir. If you read through this Financial Times report you will see how even in the moments of high tragedy with about 2.5 million people homeless, Mr Musharraf just can't resist from playing the india card. In the past year when the adage, Hell hath no fury like nature scorned is turning into a self fulfilling prophecy, we are still stuck at the same groove. We humans spend all this money building our societies, spending on the military, starving our poor, enriching our rich and look what a katrina, an earthquake or a tsunami can do. Level the ground! Take everything back to square one. Nada..zilch is all that is left. The pessimist looks at it and says "Why bother doing all this...when nature has the final say". The optimist says "Why not put all our efforts into building early warning systems, safer buildings, feed and clothe the poor and find a faster and cheaper way to escape earth's gravity so that we can propogate to different planets".

The optimist camp has some robotic good news to report. We have a completely unmanned and autonomous volkswagen tricked out to navigate the nevada desert(132 Miles)...is this kewl or what !!

04 October 2005

Pod Racing at last !!! - Obiwan kenobi, here I come.

All you star wars fans out there... thought you would never live to see the day when pod racing would finally arrive on earth... you are so wrong !!! Look at this cool rocket race being planned in the US. Rocket Racing League

I think the Ansari X-Prize and this effort all go to show how important it is to allow private enterprise to fund and innovate in all leading edge fields. Let us get governments out of all these things. On a similar note, though ISRO in India has been doing a great job,Read More...

Pod Racing ala Star Wars Style

All you star wars fans out there... thought you would never live to see the day when pod racing would finally arrive on earth... you are so wrong !!! Look at this cool rocket race being planned in the US. Rocket Racing League

I think the Ansari X-Prize and this effort all go to show how important it is to allow private enterprise to fund and innovate in all leading edge fields. Let us get governments out of all these things. On a similar note, though ISRO in India has been doing a great job, I think its pace is not what it ought to be. I have had personal experience training at their lab in Bangalore and I have seen how the few people who work and innovate are the ones that carry the organization forward. The rest just feed off the big fish. My wife too has worked at a research institution that is building the Kaveri engine in Bangalore. What she has to tell me about the state of affairs is really saddening. While all the middle class Indian tax payer's money is spent on beautifying large lawns and gardens around these research establishments, great innovating minds inside are stymied with bureacratic hurdles and hierarchical organizational structuring, not to mention whymsical nincompoops who masquerade as bosses.

The Rocket Racing League will inspire people of all ages to once again look up into the sky to find inspiration and excitement
-Peter Diamandis
Lessons for India from this article. Let's race ahead too guys. ISRO should start a private public partnership to aid such innovation. This age has to be the one for conquering the last frontier. Space.

03 October 2005

Google in the air

A company that thrives on putting a new perspective on everything... google never ceases to surprise me. Here's another of their social enterprises. Google's work culture reminds one of the old Bell Labs culture, where employees were allowed to innovate during part of their daily work hours. No questions asked sort of R&D effort. Very hard to find such a culture in the post dot com bust-your-brains-out-but-make-a-profit kind of era.

San Francisco, I am jealous.

By the way, google, can you also innovate to provide free food, water, clothing & health to all the world's poor downloadable from the air ? :)

Adios Amigos..

01 October 2005

Retrospective Series: Part 4 - Assistant In Chief

This is turning out to be a nice sunny weekend. Something of a rarity as Halloween approaches. Sometimes after an intense week of work(Steam blowing from the ears and heated brain storming sessions, kind of work); I believe a weekend with a large dose of mundane, physical work is called for. I cannot possibly give a medical explanation for how the brain recuperates during that rest, but I can guess with reasonable accuracy. The brain cells say, "yo buddy, you go take a hike. I ain't budging for the next two days !". Monday's are a pleasure after such weekends. Read more...