Monday, October 31, 2005

And Happy Hallowe'en

Its been one of the traditions of Cold Spring Harbor Lab ever since I have been here - Marco's party for Hallowe'en. Everyone has to come dressed up in full regalia, and dance through the night. It brings out the shyest scientists in the lab in spirits you wouldn't believe, and they spend days planning what to wear and how to go about it. Friday evening was full of sly giggles, and last minute rushes to the thrift store or 'party city' and in the night, unrecognisable monsters and such shine forth .... ooh la la, its such good fun, and I have enjoyed it so much through my grad student days here. This was the last party since grad students eventually do graduate :) I already have, and Marco supposedly soon will.. so just this - thanks Marco for making this day when we forget who we are, and just descend into something we never want to meet again, especially at night! HAPPY HALLOWE'EN!!!


I have been dying to put these pictures up, after the party that we had on Friday....evil grin :).
To all of you, who dared to be different, Hurrah :)))




Happy Diwali



To my family, friends, and all those who may or may not read this blog...HAPPY DIWALI !!!

History once more

On a beautiful Sunday, away from the tragedy, a day was spent contemplating many things happening in the world, and then trying to escape into another world- our past. Thanks to Uma, I was aware of a new release - Gombrich's "A little History of the World", a book written in a manner that makes it beautifully accessible to young ones and everyone. It charmed me, and made history alive again. "All stories begin with 'Once upon a time'. And that's just what this story is all about: what happened, once upon a time."


As Gombrich writes " What I have always loved best about the history of the world is that it is true. That all the extraordinary things we read were no less real than you and I are today. What is more, what did happen is often far more exciting and amazing than anything we could invent." Baba once told me the same thing, but I was too immature to realize or to even listen, and it is only recently that I have been on this spree of looking up and starting to read the very same books that were on the shelves of Baba's study, a room I inhabited in my teen years ignoring the history books simply because it was my father's profession. As they say, its never too late to learn :)), and my phone calls with Baba are becoming increasingly peppered with such common knowledge and more questions than ever. On my next trip to India, this book will go to him and delight him, since he has always been a big Gombrich fan.

The parts that delight me most, apart from the wonderful and compassionate writing from one who truly understood our past, is the way he introduces each chapter, making beautiful analogies that help visualize places, and how people lived.
Such as: "Can you picture the desert? The real hot sandy desert crossed by long caravans of camels laden with cargoes of rare goods? Sand everywhere. Just occasionally you see one or two palm trees on the skyline"and then "And yet it was in this strange desert land, with its few, warlike inhabitants, that perhaps the most extraordinary of all the events I have to tell took place" and so Gombrich starts the chapter on Muhammad, his teachings and influence in that period. In the book, Gombrich further describes "the migration of people akin to a thunderstorm, and the middle ages as a starry night"...... and you can visually see and feel them as such.

The book takes on a journey starting from the discovery of Neanderthal man, through the rise of different civilizations and religions across the world, culminating in WWII which Gombrich experienced personally. Elegantly and so passionately, he weaves in and out of continents, touching China, Japan, the Indian subcontinent, (sadly leaves out South America), focusing more on the European continent, never being condescending, instead being a student and a teacher through his words.

A keen observer possessing a deep understanding of the past, he knew that : "The history of the world is, sadly, not a pretty poem. It offers little variety, and it is nearly always the unpleasant things that are repeated over and over again." Looking at the state of the world now, his words chillingly ring true.

Just as Gombrich's "Story of Art", changed and deepened my perception on art, I know that after reading his beautiful lesson in history I will never be able to look at the past in quite the same way again. History will forever be exciting, a living, breathing form that has shaped our present.

If you can, please read it.

Also a more detailed review

Saturday, October 29, 2005

But WHY??

When will it end? This endless cycle of violence?

Now its Delhi thats hit. 3 bomb blasts in one day, on a day before the big festivals of Diwali and Eid, when there's known to be big shopping being done, people going around, and they chose to strike on that day. Why chose any day to unleash this horrible violence? More helpless innocent people dead. Its just sick, sick, sick! Have grown up in Delhi, spent 20 years of my life there, have friends galore, memories galore, and know that Sarojini Nagar is one of the fav. shopping areas for them..so now I have to check, find out if everyone is safe...and is that something anyone should have to do? Just praying hard for friends and family there, and for all those I don't know but who have suffered in this terrible tragedy of hate.
Oh god, I hate these terrorists! What do they achieve other than killing people? Killing Living people who breathe the same air, are made of the same elements as they, and struggle to live on the same earth as they? I will never ever understand, and I never ever want to.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Several things on my mind today.

Varna’s experience yesterday on a Delhi road persists in my thoughts. Maybe because its another in a long series of accidents that I have seen on that road? I know that road. I have been there so many times, have seen so many people almost run over, some even slightly hit, but nothing so major. Its next to a friend’s place, whom I have visited crossing that road so many times. And so I can picture it so well. Worse still, I can also picture the apathy, and greed, the callousness and the utter cruelty. And it makes me scared. Is that how Delhi could have made me? Or would I still have the sense of humanity that Varna showed under the circumstances? I think the question I really want to ask is Why? How do we lose the sense in the first place? And why can’t there be more people like her who never lose it? What is required in your psyche that helps you keep that heart in the right place?

Familiarity with the place and circumstances, makes the episode very frightening and very sad, to think that in all these years since I have been away, Delhi has yet to lose its callousness.

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On simple blog ethics. Being quite new and still quite an amateur (especially after seeing the stupendously creative and awesome blogs around), I still don’t quite realize the art of "comments". Writing them or answering to them. Should a blog comments sections be treated as a sort of email, so when you leave a comment it is answered to, and the same is applicable to when somebody comments on your piece? Or is it just a personal choice-to answer or not to answer, that is the question. Though when I look around, the enormous numbers of comments make reciprocal answers impossible for some bloggers. I should clarify that these sentences are not statements of any sort, but just musings to help understand the blogosphere better. Any pointers are welcome.

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On Travel. To the beautiful land of Peru. I watched the Globetrekker episode on Peru, and am all fired up about visiting the country (especially Lake Titicaca, the Amazon rainforest, and Machhu Pichhu). It helps that Kaushik has a good Peruvian friend to get us started. But perhaps I should stop thinking of traveling around, and just focus all my energies on just getting a German visa so that I can finally live with my husband. The German authorities don’t seem to want it, the current boss doesn’t seem in favor of it either, so I have to make it work. And work It will :)...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

There is an ache in my heart today,
and only your hug could make it go away.
A big smile at the airport, a wave and your big smile.
Through the security,
Watching you, aching to have you back.
You turned at every step.
Flight no. 25, Singapore Airlines took you in.

The phone speaks your voice.
I hug the pillow.
But I wish, I so wish,
that this ache in my heart would just go away.

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Its been 8 years living apart. Out of necessity, out of stupidity. Would think its easier now that we think we will be together soon. But visa troubles have been plaguing for ages now, and every step is a battle. But the smiles and joy remain. There is still a song in the heart - that of being together. Hope... that its soon, very soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My current fav website... having fun on this... How Stuff Works
K, enjoy, Its a New Day Today!

Blog Quake Day

Desipundit has declared today as Blog Quake Day to raise awareness and form a united front to help victims of the recent earthquake that hit the northern part of India, and Pakistan.

One of the most affected population during natural calamities are children, and so I dedicate this post to the children that were affected in this enormous tragedy.

Some of the charities focusing on aid for children are -
Earthquake Relief fund for Orphans
Save the Children

More general aid and help in any kind can be offered at any of the following organisations -
Grameen Foundation
WorldVision
Doctors without borders
Oxfam
Mercy Corps

Additional ways to help can be found all around the Indian blogosphere today. Please be a part of this effort.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Happy Sunday

Kaushik is here for the week, so much fun will be had...!!! Happy grin :)))

After ages, there is a clear sky to look upto. The leaves are turning to much admired shades of color, the only scare I have is that all of them will fall out before we can really see them in their glory. There are huge gusts of wind following the rains, and our driveway is littered with yellow, green and some shades of red, leaves. Fall is my favorite season, because of the hint of autumn spices in the air, the colors, and the weather and Halloween! Not the rain though, but the sun with the chill, and that favorite sweater, and the hot mug of tea to go with it...and today is just right, the ideal Fall day!

Plans are to go to the city, and have a late night out, with husband and friends. Maybe a musical, maybe a hike, maybe a ferry ride, and maybe the museum or just relax in a bookstore --- endless possibilties, all of them joyful.. Oh, after all these days I am super thrilled to go out and have some fun!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

SHUBHO BIJOYA!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Its "Mars" time

I just listened to this awesome lecture on the Mars Exploration Rover Project by its leader Steve Squyres. He maintains a site here. Oh I am so thrilled, I just loved it!

It is after quite a while that I have goosebumps arising from the thrill of scientific exploration and investigation made during a wide audience lecture. In general, I always feel that when any well-known scientific figure talks to a non-scientific audience, the complexity and intricacies of the subject are either vastly undermined or largely ignored. (Digression- Of course there can also be the other extreme where the audience has to suffer through slides of pure untranslated scientific data without any meaningful interpretations). I find this somewhat condescending attitude a little annoying, and generally don't like to be told that all is hunky-dory, and that the specific questions have clear answers without ambiguities. Being a scientist I always find that hard to believe. It takes ages before a hypothesis is clearly proven, and before that come miniscule faltering steps, and speculations. And these are the most interesting bits that can allow an audience to figure through the questions and come up with possibilities on their own. I find that the process with all its failures make talks much more alive, and interactive. And this is what Dr.Squyres did.

First of all I have to say that the topic - Exploring Mars, is by itself, exciting. But he brought forth the enthusiasm, drawing from the beginning the struggles, the ingenious ideas, the sheer simplicity of some solutions, never undermining the science involved in all the stages. Each detail was lovingly shown, making it easier to grasp the enormity of space exploration ventures. He dispeled some of the popular notions that prevailed before the mission, but not all. There are many varieties of textures on Mars, and for now, its just a beginning. But oh, what a beginning! When the mission started, the Rover exploration robots - "Spirit" and "Opportunity" were estimated to last 90 days. Its been almost a Martian year (600+ days) now and both are alive. Simple solutions of facing in the right direction to keep the solar panels that power them going, lucky "cleaning" events such as winds to clear the omnipresent Martian dust off solar panels, all add to the longevity of the courageous Rovers. They bring forth images, data on minerals, rocks, atmosphere, and more to help us piece together the history of Mars. Originally thought to be dry, the explorations have revealed large chunks of evidence for the presence of water at some point on the planet. Dried beds with porous rocks, minerals that have crystallized out of the porous rocks, and other minerals containing oxy-hydroxy molecules (goethite) all point to the planet being wet nobody-knows how many years ago. Surfaces containing fine and coarse grain materials hint of violent upheavals in Martian planet history. More and more data keeps creeping in. The landscape keeps changing, from craters with lava rock, to beautifully sedimented hills (named after the Columbia shuttle), and surfaces with a wealth of geological information. To sort and analyze these enormous volumes of data will take ages and many careers, but its just a beautiful start, and with each passing Sol (martian day-24hr39min), they quench our thirst for knowledge some more.

To think that just a 100 years ago, driving cars were the big achievement. From then to now... as Steve Squyers says "Its certainly a lot of fun driving robots on Mars"!

Its been a long but short, giddyingly glorius ride. To be able to see what went on behind the scenes from the beginning, the people involved, the creative process, made me want to be an undergraduate participating in this "once-in-a-lifetime" mission. As G says, humans can create the worst disasters on the planet, but they sure can challenge the frontiers in an inspiring way too. For now, that is what makes me happy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Support...

Freedom of Speech!

I was just signing off from my blog when I came across this in Ash's blog. The fact that a viewpoint in a personal blog can have such major repercussions in the real world is really an eye-opener for me. Since when do you have to mince words and not have any right to question facts, in a society? As long as it is within limits (which is certainly true in this case) each question gives us new knowledge and newer ways to look at things. Unless of course, the questions prove to be uncomfortable, which can only be when there is something to hide. But then to bully not just the person but an entire organization! How can that reflect well on any institute or its students? All it Can prove is that the institute is ill-equipped to handle matters professionally. I was seriously shocked at the series of personal attacks in the comments section of another blogger YouthCurry who initially reported this IIPM story. Even if a report maybe biased (I am saying this, since I have no way of judging its authenticity), there is a proper way of responding such as arguing with reason and logic. What is the purpose of name-calling or vitriolic comments, and how do they change any of the facts? Of all the comments I read on behalf of IIPM, only two were reasonable and concerned facts. The rest were just gross, attacks without any decency. Its such a shame when a matter of pursuing truth can degenerate into a sordid mess, one that could have been avoided Without causing damage to any individual, institute or its students. Pure bloody shame.

India Uncut details the whole story

Utterly hilarious

Mahishashurer Paala
Sanjib sent the link to me. Do have a look!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ei Meghla dine ekla

ghare thaake na to mon,
kachhe jaabo kobe paabo,
ogo tomar nemontron.....

(roughly translates to :
alone on this rainy day,
my restless self refuses to stay home,
I want to be near you,
When will you invite me ....)

Juthi bone, oi hawa, kore shudhu asha jaoa
Hai hai re, din jai re, bhare andhare bhubon
Kachhe jaabo kobe paabo ogo tomar nemontron
Ei Meghla…

(In the jasmine grove, the wind frolics, to and fro,
Alas, the day goes by, the world is in darkness,
I want to be near you, When will you invite me,
Alone on this rainy day....)

Shudhu jhhore jhhoro jhhoro, aaj bari shaara din
Aaj jeno meghe meghe, holo mon je udasheen

(The winds are stormy, its been pouring all day,
Amidst these clouds, my mind is sad)

Aaji aami khone khone, ki je bhaabi aano mone,
Aaj aashbe, ogo haanshbe, kobe hobe she milon
Kachhe jaabo kobe paabo ogo tomar nemontron
Ei meghla…

(Today every second, my restless mind wanders,
Maybe you will come today, smile at me, Oh when will we have this reunion,
To be near you, oh when will I get your invitation
Alone on this rainy day....)

Song running in my head and my iPod...
Nostalgia...... and a rainy day...... :)

A fresh bout of clouds on an IIT Powai evening

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Just the two of us.


No words needed.
Simply the best feeling in the world.

Hiatus

Its been some time since I blogged. There are too many personal issues to deal with. They all induce a sad frame of mind, and drain away the energy that I wake up with everyday. The last 2 days have been very drab actually, no spark in the morning. Till when they are resolved, these pesky, annoying, oh-so-make-me-feel-powerless circumstances crowd my mind and push everything else away. I would like to be able to just pass them off, and laugh at these troubles, but at this moment I can't. So its much better that the sadness and the drabness does not pervade this space, and writings will return when I can put things in perspective.