Tuesday, September 27, 2005

PBS/BBC-Foyle's war

Watched the brilliant Foyle's War today. Have been following the series now, and want to watch as much of it as I can. I have always loved the BBC productions that were shown in India, or were gleaned from friends, and I must say that everytime I see another of their series, I become more and more regretful of how many of their productions I have never seen. Its a pity, the only way to see them here is to borrow some of the more famous series from the library, or be lucky enough to catch them on PBS (the public television).

Anyways Foyle's war depicts realities in England in the backdrop of the second world war. Foyle is the head of police in a characteristic English country backdrop, doing his very important bit in solving crime, and more, during the WWII years. What is interesting is the layers to the crime drama being played out, the way war affects every facet of life, human relationships, even in the remote countryside, and that you don't need to be in the frontlines of action to contribute your bit in the world... everything counts. It is also highly emotional, and gives the vast dimensions of the war that really could have tilted in either direction, and the sacrifices that were made in the process. At the same time, the pace and complexity of the crime drama is maintained. The cases show Foyle and his team's dedication to their job, their intelligence and integrity to maintain order and humanity in an increasingly threatened world. The acting is incredible, the situations so believable that nothing is blown out of proportion. Its a pleasure to watch such a well-made series, touching and very very human. Law and Order is all very well, but compared to this, they are so bang-in-your-face and loud and belong in a different time altogether (which by the way, is the case).

Monday, September 26, 2005

In the midst of Portuguese Irregular Verbs, McCall Smith's love for the Irish countryside and thoughts on the passing away of languages -

"Von Igelfeld looked out of the window. Little droplets of water coursed across the glass and made the countryside quiver. He had been thinking of how landscape moulds a language. It was impossible to imagine these hills giving forth anything but the soft syllables of Irish, just as only certain forms of German could be spoken on the high crags of Europe; or Dutch in the muddy, guttural, phlegmish lowlands. How sad it was that the language had been so largely lost; that it should survive only in these small pockets of countryside. This was happening everywhere. The crudities of the modern world were simplifying or even destroying linguistic subtleties. Irregular verbs were becoming regular, the imperfective subjunctive was becoming the present subjunctive or, more frequently, dissapearing altogether. Where previously there had been four adjectives to describe a favoured hill, or the scent of new-mown hay, or the action of threading the warp of a loom, now there would only be one, or none. And as we lost the words, von Igelfeld thought, we lost the texture of the world that went with them."


ps. Though its also true that with a new world comes new words to understand and define that world. But since the world is changing so much and so fast, somehow the beauty of language does not seem to be able to keep up with the change. Or maybe because this world seems to be hurtling in one direction where it does not pause and examine beauty in small things in quite the same way, the words don't reflect that "old world" sentiment, anymore. But it still is delightful when you can find those words and, understand the deepness of them, still.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

On a Sunday

This cold is making me miserable! I thought I was better yesterday, but today I am worse... Don't smell, don't hear much, feel so slow, everything seems stuffed up! All I want to do is curl up, and try to sleep, but this stuffed nose makes that uncomfortable too. Just want to complain :)

Actually I think I will make some good hot soup, and some hot tea with ginger. That should make me feel loads better. Just wish it gets over soon, and that I can enjoy Fall in all its glory.

Its been cold today. There is a sort of children's fair going on in the house opposite. There is some fiddle music, and so many children playing outside, next to the lake. The house opposite is huge, with marvelous grounds, leading upto a lake. So ordinary people can't go the lake, its all "private property". All you Can do is to just look at the lake from your window and be envious. This is what I don't like about most of Long Island. Rich people with an aversion to sharing. Not everybody of course, but most of them. At the same time, they can fund the most amazing libraries. The free public libraries here have more variety of fiction and non-fiction than I could ever dream of in even a good well-funded library in India. So yes as always, there's the good part and the bad part. Last week, I borrowed Alexander McCall Smith's series on Professor Doctor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld.

I am on the last book of the series now and it has been an utterly delightful read. Full of ironic wit about European stereotypes, in the academia and otherwise. Completely enjoyed it and highly recommended.

Mma Ramotswe however remains my favorite.

There are times I feel its been ages since I had a real home. The places I have stayed in the last 8 years - Bombay (my first love), New York (don't even want to predict how much I will miss this amazingly stupendous city) and now Frankfurt, its all fleeting. I still don't know where I will really feel I was born to be. Maybe it never is like that. Maybe its just once you start working somewhere, you start to like the place, create moments of belonging, associations and then its home. You just learn to put down your roots there. Or you chose to work in a place you like, and then the same cycle begins.

But for people who start over again and again, does any place feel like home? Or is it more like this - "As Asians set down new roots around the world, home is no longer a fixed destination, explains Pico Iyer. It is as much a favorite dish, a memory or an idea as it is an old house."

In this article in TIME I found so many resonant thoughts to how I feel. "In this special issue, TIME invites some of the Asian diaspora's top writers to embark on physical and mental voyages of return."

Read here

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I am an artiste!!!

Your Brain's Pattern

Your mind is a creative hotbed of artistic talent.
You're always making pictures in your mind, especially when you're bored.
You are easily inspired to think colorful, interesting thoughts.
And although it may be hard to express these thoughts, it won't always be.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

October break

Yay! Kaushik is coming in October for 10 days. Thank God! I was missing him too much. Its worse after we started meeting every 3-4 months, ever since he moved to Europe. Before that, when he was in India, it was like a form of resignation that we meet only once a year or something and there was no way around it, so after the initial period of sharp missing, it was more of a dull ache that I was forced to get used to. But once I knew that we could meet every 3 months, then it was just harder to stay apart. Thats just my personal experience, I am sure its different for other people.

This time, I was thinking he will come only when my residence permit for Germany is done, and we leave together, but he got cheap tickets via Singapore Airlines, and so he comes. Makes me super happy, I am so looking forward to his trip. Might make it to Yosemite with him this time, have to start planning. Will also work better now that there is a deadline.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

To keep in mind

Kaziranga story

Just yesterday I was thinking of the National Book Trust published "The Kaziranga trail" that I had read when I was a kid, and today I saw this article. Just felt like posting the link. Always felt drawn to this sanctuary but have never been there. Just brings to mind another of my definite things to do!

Wednesday night movie

Watched 2046 by Kar Wai Wong.

I found it beautiful, darkly romantic... and haunting. Words are scarce but their paucity is hardly felt. The images convey more than words ever could. Like the cigarette smoke spiraling towards the sky, the tears on the android's cheek, the "Metropolis" effect to visualize 2046, all in parallel with the 60s era in Hong Kong (which incidentally reminded me of nights in Calcutta) accompanied by a stirring background score with individualized themes for each of the beautiful women whose memories are linked to 2046. Mesmerising.

Some moments remain seared in memory -

* Chow's fountain pen poised on a blank sheet of paper, after he is requested to change the ending of his story to a happy ending. Moments slip by, the nib remains poised and the paper blank. He cannot bring his pen to change the ending.

* "Love is all about timing. Finding the right person before or after the moment is just loss in life."

* When the android in Chow's sci-fi 2046, loses "andriodness" in a capacity to feel just for a very short but memorable while.

* The balcony of the hotel, where characters are silhouetted against the evening sky. One by one they all go away, Chow remains, alone and lonely.

Read the rest here

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Irina Slutskaya

Yesterday they were showing a rerun of the skating championships in China. This was right before the Russia cup. She was just awesome - technically and in terms of creativity. I love watching ice-skating, watching those gravity-defying jumps, and twirls, the sheer beauty of line and form, flowing irridescent colors and the glimpses of passion underneath. For Irina, the passion and love shows in every move, every gesture. She had illness, operations all through the previous year, and yet came back at top form, with new energy, enthusiasm and the characteristic never-say-die attitude. She's irrepressible and seems a genuinely great person. Just one of my heroes.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Today while the blossom still clings to the vine

This is the song in my head today....

"Today while the blossom still clings to the vine,
I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine,
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joys that are mine today.
I'll be a dandy and I'll be a rover,
You'll know who I am by the song that I sing.
I'll feast at your table, I'll lie in your clover,
I'll laugh and I'll cry and I'll sing...
Today while the blossom still clings to the vine,
I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine,
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joys that are mine today.
I can't be contented with yesterday's glories,
I can't live on promises winter to spring,
This is my moment and now is my story,
Who cares what tomorrow will bring?
Today while the blossom still clings to the vine,
I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine,
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joys that are mine today."

Sung by the New Christy Minstrels and also by John Denver, its the Denver version I heard that I remember well. In a cassette lent to me by Chakri when I was in Class 8. It was a magical cassette with so many songs that I remember but never heard again. They pop up in my mind at unexpected moments and bring me back to the afternoon in Delhi, listening to them on our old Philips cassette player. Today with its memories of yesterdays.


and this is Kaushik!!!

ps.I put a nice picture in, didn't I?

This is what I was busy doing all these years of my PhD! Having fun with Graz :)))

Being lazy

Haven't written anything in ages, just plain lazy but overworked.

US OPEN is over. I am very happy with the Clijsters win. She truly deserved it. On the other hand, I so wished that Agassi would win. No doubt, Federer played way better, but I was just being sentimental and supporting Agassi. Had gone to watch the quarter final match this time, Agassi vs. Blake, and the atmosphere at the stadium was electric! The match was a good one to go to, but the best part was the overwhelming excitement and tension that comes from seeing sporting events live, and not on TV. Just wish I had the time to go to more than one evening though. Well maybe next time, another Open.

Kaushik is back from Bosnia... Yay! back in contact at last. The only flipside of going to all the out of the way places is the almost total lack of communication, which combined with this long-distance affair is not something that makes me ecstatic. But he's back and thats that. Next time, I want to see the beautiful country he describes, meet the people and have all the wonderful food he claims to have eaten. Really looking forward to traveling with him. But most of all, I will be excited to go to the places where infrastructure is just starting to come up, when there are fresh possibilities of establishing new hope, and to participate in the building process. It is so different from what I do in my own day to day life as a neuroscientist, when days are spent at the bench, analyzing, devising and implementing newer experiments in a specialized field, where you have the vision of the bigger picture, but it doesn't exist right in front of you, everyday. To be in the moment, interacting with people, adapting your plans to include what they think would be more useful to them, and better their situation is application in the truest sense in real time, and its inspiring to have that contact from time to time. I am just happy I will have that, in a few months.

Till then, there are a dozen things to wind up. Its hard letting go of experiments. I can keep planning and doing more and it can never end, till I actually move out and start my postdoctoral research, where there will fresh topics to study and more questions to answer. I am already looking forward to that too. It will be a new chapter!

Meanwhile, there is a new Law and Order episode on TV begging my readily available attention. I intend to watch everyone of them while I am still in NY!


Friday, September 02, 2005

I noticed that a few days ago, Kaushik had put up one of my random drawings on the net. Not that I like the display and am embarrassed enough by it, sometimes the tongue-in-cheek motive nonetheless needs an explanation. While taking his degree in Paris, and preserving the lifestyle of a poor student, all the equipment available to me were the backs of cardboard boxes and a pen. I have always been a fan of Warli art and decided to diverge from the usual scenes I was doing, and started doodling the face. Because of the elongated tusk-like appendages, and the miniature doodles all on him which reminded me of a tribal chief, I moulded the two impressions and called him the "Walrus King", and so his name stuck. There is also a "fisher king", but thats for another day.

Bits and pieces

Feel relatively free after a long time. There have been innumerable deadlines in the middle. Fellowship applications, paper writing and all that. Hope at least some of it is accepted. In the meantime, the weather is wonderful, and I wish I was in Flushing watching US Open today. I have tickets for the quarterfinals, so that will be fun. Watched Sania Mirza's match on TV today. She hit some really good winners, and her shots are powerful and beautiful to watch. Just wish she would reduce her percentage of unforced errors and improve her serve. Its so amazing to see her confidence and poise, the way she has come up and feels so totally at ease in grand slam tournaments. Way to go.

One of my close friends is coming to NY next week, so I will spend sometime with her. We almost grew up together on JNU campus, and its been 4 years since I last saw her, so I am really looking forward to her trip here.

Have been following the news on Katrina, and the evacuation business in New Orleans. Its really sad that the situation is so chaotic. Innocent people have to wait for days without food, water, any form of communication, inside the superdome or convention center, while rescue operations are jeopardised by continous threats of violence. The fact that people can shoot buses or helicopters which come to take the stranded people to safer places is quite bizarre. One can only hope that the situation comes into control and that things get better soon.

Now comes the need to make a trip to Book Revue. Its the closest bookshop here, is an independent bookstore, and has a gorgeous collection. Not as huge as Strand, but still very good, plus they have the warehouse section, where you get those old books cheaper than Strand. So off I go, looking forward to spending a lazy afternoon after ages.