Friday, June 30, 2006

So many times I have bought albums simply because of the covers...

Hail to the thief,Radiohead


The Eraser, Thom Yorke

.... though for all of the above its quite like double bonanza.... Music+Cover, what fun!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Glad to know that things maybe changing in Delhi if you do have the money (article via NY times). But when was it ever a "snake charmer city"??

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

my Japan month

I have this Huge pile of Japanese movies at home, all courtesy a friend. I hadn't heard of any of them but each story sounds fascinating. And something that makes me extra happy is that 2 of them are pure anime. The only anime I have been exposed to so far are the usual Miyazaki (actually watched Totoro for the 3rd time yesterday.. the movie is magic, though my favorite is still Porco Rosso), the Maison Ikkoku series, and Dragonball. Now my repertoire increases, and I get to be more educated, Yippeee!!!

Am also reading the Otori trilogy at the same time. Its such a fast read that I can finish it on my train commute without much brain exercise, which is perfect for me these days. Thats not to say its completely frothy, but is actually a well-researched, swashbuckling (love that word!) adventure story set in medieval-era Japan replete with warriors, monks, beautiful and strong women, lovingly painted landscapes and intricate codes of honor and sacrifice, all in all giving a pretty good overview of the society Japan was and maybe still is. Somehow I always thought the author was a man, but Lian Hearn isn't, and I hear that she is writing more for the series so I am eagerly looking forward to the new ones.

All in all,seems like a Japan month for me. Now if I could only get to Tokyo :)

ps. I found this great video from "Tonari no Totoro" on YouTube, hope it works.

Friday, June 23, 2006

In Congo

This puts things in perspective for me (link in the title). Sometimes when I compare what Kaushik does to what I do..

Sunday, June 18, 2006

WM in Frankfurt

A weekend at home after what feels like ages. Work is on full swing and there are not enough hours in the day to even spend time with K. When we are together we spend all our time either watching soccer or soccer fans in full spirits on the streets of Frankfurt. Its an ideal time to get the real feel of Europe through people watching. The streets are so full of color nowadays that even if it rains, the yellows, oranges and reds predominate. There is no gray while the soccer fever lasts. It started with the Sky Arena, a show where they used the Frankfurt skyline as a huge projection screen. It was simply awesome.. (hmm... think of how this would look in NY, the mind boggles). We had gone across the river early so that we could see the full skyline and were lucky to get a good spot. The pedestrian bridge was full of people on this dark cloudy night and when the music started along with the countdown, cheers went up along with quite a few beer bottles clinking. There were two different themes - the first dealt with different emotions associated with soccer (or life itself) such a ambition, hope, joy, dissappointment, success, desire et al. Each emotion was given a different colour and different scenarios depicting the emotion taken from soccer matches of the past were accompanied with the mood-inducing music. Alongwith the music there was commentary on the particular match with voices rising when there was goal, giving it a real match feel. People were cheering, dancing and sighing along with the show, it was that electric! I was left wondering as I saw the beautiful laser lights go out into the clouds how it would all look from a plane landing at Frankfurt airport that night. The second theme which was more abstract, serious and very beautiful depicted power politics, the economic state of the world, how money influences soccer and more, terrorism, and the need for peace. The faces of children asking for the space to laugh, play and just be free was haunting. And then we slowly made our way down the banks of the lighted river in the company of thousands like us, talking about the show and the chances of various teams playing in the World Cup.

Soon the fans arrived. Full of hope, joy and bursting the city with their collective spirit. Early mornings the train station is full of them with placards around their necks offering exorbitant amounts for tickets, any ticket, any match, while other fans catch on some sleep on the station floor. When I come back late in the evening after a long and tiring day of work, I can feel the tiredness dissappear and my spirits lift in sync with the fans cheering the latest victory with drums, body paint and lusty shouts. Something that struck me as extremely strange is that every car driver honks on the streets when their team wins... so you could be walking down the road and car after car goes by you each honking to the high heavens! It disturbed me in the beginning but now I take it as all being a part of the game... and when I told this to my European friends back in NY, they collectively let out this huge sigh condemning the ignorant me saying that this was the best part of the celebration, and making it clear how jealous they were of me being in Germany at this point of time. I dare not show them how much I am enjoying this mad season, else I will lose all goodwill et al. :)

In the meantime, quiet, business-like Frankfurt is gone and in its place stands a gregarious city, one populated by people of every size and color... Brazilians, British, Africans, Italians, Koreans, Americans, Argentinians, East Europeans...different ethnicities inherent to the city emerge along with the visitors, all a diverse bunch of people ignited by common passion. The city is alive by night (quite in comparison to other weeknights), eating places all open, and sounds of revelry reach even our quiet residential neighbourhood at the outskirts of the city. What I enjoy most nowadays is to stand at the window at night, taking in the cool breeze and listening to those cheerful flavor of sounds, somehow they make me sleep better :) I like this so much better than Heidelberg where the only indication that the WM is on, is that the streets are deserted from afternoons on, everyone is at their local cafe or bar catching the action with friends on a giant screen TV, while we the crazy scientists work through this fever everyday as if nothing is happening. This maybe different in Frankfurt (or any other host city) I feel, the infectiousness of a match being played in the city cannot be ignored so completely!

Its been too busy so far, but one of these days we have to go the Stadion in Frankfurt and just watch the crowds while a match is in progress. It seems to be that although the World Cup gives all kinds of license to people to (mis)behave, and in general be as "ungerman" as possible :), somehow the spirit and passion that goes along with it eclipses all else, its seriously as the German organisers say "a time to make friends".

p.s.Incidentally I have seen so many impromptu conversations (and fights) arise in this past 2 weeks, way more than I have seen in the past 4 months of living here. Its just that I don't seem to be a fan to be included in the passing remark, should dress myself is some colours perhaps... there are these times when Indian participation is sorely missed.

p.p.s. another incidentally, World Cup is called WM (WeltMeisterschaft) in Deutschland a.k.a. Germany, so just as a shortcut I use them interchangeably.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I have been procrastinating again, nothing new... but just to remind myself I am going to write about these as soon as I am in the frame of mind. In the meantime they remain like short points on a memo. Hopefully being on a public space will make me expand on them, and not just leave them as such!

- Met "Sines", a fellow blogger on Monday. Was a first such meeting (with a blogger, I mean. I do know some bloggers personally but I knew them before they started blogging, this was the first when I met the person through blogging). Felt like a major achievement :) I was apprehensive at first. Why?
a) Just like that.
b) It was a working day, that too a monday and I was scared that I'd forget all about the meeting amidst my experiments (have a history of doing such things)
c) Sometimes the image that you have a person from a blog maybe different from a real-life person, and sometimes you'd rather have the image.
I needn't have worried, it went beautifully! It was so natural as if I was just meeting an old friend after ages. Nothing seemed contrived, put-on or out of place. Lots of gossip was exchanged, along with some very interesting stories. She was as honest, crazy and likeable as she is on her blog. And its adds a new dimension to reading her blog as well, and now I can actually count her as a friend! Sines took a photo too which she will blacken appropriately, I think :) and the gray, rainy Monday that was melted into a special light-hearted 3 hours of blogger bonding if you will.

- Got my iPod back. It was sent to the Apple repair center ever since it started shutting off on its own. They replaced it, and I have the same inscription on the back as in the original, which was a graduation present from my lab. Am really sentimental about it. I just hope this one doesn't have any problems since I have only 3 months warranty on the replacement. But the journey to Heidelberg and back is pure delight now. Am making up for music-deprivation for the last 2 months. Have been listening to the Rang de Basanti soundtrack lately, and listening to it in my ear is something different. Everytime I listen to 'Luka Chhupi' and Rahman joins in the song especially the high notes, the heart agonizes.

- I read "Opal Mehta...", and ended up feeling sorrier than ever for Kaavya. Plagiarising is plagiarising and all that, but going through the book especially the part where she is incoherent and completely hysterical in her interview because she is so desperate to get into Harvard made me think that maybe there is more than fiction here. She even mentions Harvard Crimson, ironical perhaps. And the whole tone of the book is so "Harvard is the only place to be",so much lovesickness for the place, that at the end of it all, especially in retrospect, I really feel sorry for her.

I don't think this is a memo anymore, rather a full-fledged post. That was fast. Seems like my fingers flew over the whole thing before I realised it. Must be the Espresso I had after dinner, along with the fabulous Tartufo. Yummy! This was celebration for the first ATM that was installed in Congo, something which Kaushik had been working on for the past few months. So its all good! Now I hope I get some sleep, have a long day tomorrow...Gute Nacht, Schlaf Gut :)