November 29, 2007

Google Sky

Yeah, yeah, you don't need to smirk. I can't stay away. This blog has become a compulsion for me. But I had to show you this. I was actually making the presentation for tomorrow when I discovered this. Unlike last night this presentation has nothing to do with my research. Its for course designing project thats undergoing in our department right now. I am working on how can we use Google Earth as teaching tool in Earth Sciences. Honestly Google Earth is cool and there is so many Google Earth files (that can be opened using Google Earth) available online. From Sea-surface temperatures, bathymeteric data, Real time Earthquake, Volcanology data to Weather snap-shots. Its awesome (I think I have already established the fact that I am a geek).

But the best feature is that you can switch to Sky (available in newer version, you have to download the newer version). And then there are again online files available on showing exploding stars etc. Or just revolve the sky around you. Its an amazing view. Just a few snap shots to prove my point...

November 28, 2007


I admit it, I am addicted to blogging. Or may be I am addicted to procrastination. I am addicted to shopping too. And photography. Karate. May be everything that gives me an excuse to not to do research. I am currently overloaded with work and I am watching 'Sex and the city' while writing this and drinking coke (the only way I can have caffeine).

I have to make a 5 minute presentation and its taking forever to get started. I don't get it. How can you wrap up your 3 years of work in 8 slides and 5 minutes? But somehow I have to so I am drinking coke, watching 'Sex and the city' and writing this or rather procrastinating till it will become impossible to procrastinate anymore. May be thats now.

Oh yeah, before I sign off let me get to the real point of this post. I am presently overloaded with work and as I have already established procrastinating doesn't help so I am cutting back on this addiction for at least next two weeks. I know its going to be hard but I will try hard not to give into temptation. I promise I will be back with more stories about sleepless nights, stressful days, arranging a baby shower and may be Google Earth.

Okay I have to write this too. Just heard on the Sex and the city. The context: Samantha tells Carrie that she doesn't have time to read her column every week. Reason why it affected me: Got the same response from few of my friends when I asked them about this blog: they don't have time to read it! And, finally, here is Carrie's response:
"Even my friends find me irrelevant."

Okay now I am really going back. See you all soon.

P.S.: Don't worry. I don't think I can stay away from this space for more than two days. So I will be back sooner though regularity and frequency will be an issue.


Okay I give up. I have been trying to get this three-column site template (BTW, this is a cool site if you are looking for changing your site template) to work. It looks ok on Mozilla Firefox but its still a disaster on IE. I am still working on it and will try to fix it. Meanwhile if someone can help me to figure it out, I will be eternally grateful. I seriously need some help here. I have no idea what I am doing. After all, I am not a web designer like this guy...

P.S.: BTW, I would like a feedback for this new site template too. Criticism will help me to improve it further. So if you are having a rough day, vent out and criticize as much as you want.

November 26, 2007

Nevers #1

Ok, I started this post as a list of Never-to-do's but the post seemed to go on forever so instead I took one nugget from the list and expanded on it. So here is my first post on Never-to-do. This one is a piece of advice for charmers. For the purpose of this blog, Charmers are people trying their luck charming someone, although this particular post is focused on guys. So here it goes...

If you are trying to court a girl, never tell her/tease her about/joke about/whisper to her: 'Girls are Stupid' or any other equivalent generalized statements like 'Girls are bad drivers' or 'Girls gossip'. We girls, in general, take these allegations personally. So the statement 'Girls are stupid' are translated to 'You are stupid' and hence forth. Obviously, you don't want to say that to the girl you are trying to engage. And please the add-ons like, 'Present company excused' or 'Of course, I don't mean you' etc. makes us wonder even more that you actually do mean it personally.

Once you made any statement like that, its an all-lose situation after that. Don't even start giving some isolated examples to prove your point. Even if you prove it to be true, somehow, you will loose her. Each and every statement you make in favor of your allegation, will just expose your insensitivity, lack of proper manners and a 20th-century mentality. None of these qualities are desirable.

If you think you are being funny or just teasing someone by making these ridiculous statements, you need to get your sense of humor checked by an expert (I volunteer. General diagnosis: You have a sick sense of humor. Incurable disease. Sorry, I digress..). We don't think insults are amusing, even though we might not express that on your face (we are more polite than you are, obviously).

And for those of you who think these statements to be actually true, I have full sympathy for your spouse. She either must have very high level of tolerance or very low self-esteem. And no, I am not a feminist. I don't raise flags of woman empowerments but I refuse to be insulted because of some stupid notion you have about female species.

Thats it for today's "Nevers". Watch out this space for more "Nevers". Someday, sometime it will be back.

November 25, 2007

In a shock...

I have a confession to make. I am a snob. I don't like being in company of people I don't like/respect. I also don't like being with people who keep poking their noses in my business when I haven't given them that right. Being so picky about my friends, cuts me off from main desi stream here. I usually don't have any idea about latest bollywood releases or cricket series going on. True, I can catch everything on internet but since these things don't come up in daily discussions so I don't bother.

My only passage to desi front is through my friends back in India. Orkut provides a great platform for that. And as all of you using Orkut know, it has a lot of new cool features now. So one of my cousin (bless him) decided to add few trailers/songs from recent movies as Saawariya and Om Shanti Om. And thats where I found this.

You can't imagine my shock. How long have I been out? When did this start? Display of male body on a big screen, that too in a song! I am really interested in knowing about audience's response. With my, now limited, knowledge about Indian audience, there has to be a pin-drop silence in the theatres during the opening scene of the song. No one must have moved or coughed. The moments when you know everyone is holding their breaths by ample amount of oxygen present in the crowded theatre. I always thought, they want to think that they are invisible in those moments so that person next to them wouldn't know that they actually watched that (Guilty Pleasures?). Rest of the times, they would make their presence known to the whole theatre at large, by shouting, whistling, laughing or just talking very loudly on their cell phones or to their neighbors.

But may be none of this happened. May be I have been out for too long. Someone please enlighten me about latest reactions given by theatre audiences.

P.S.: 1. Its a nice song. Shaan has rendered it beautfully.

2. Excellent cinematography as well. Typical Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Its just the subject of emphasis shocked me.

November 24, 2007

Salem Falls...

....Thats the name of the book I am currently reading. Its another one by Jodi Picoult. Anyway, I am not gonna bore you with the story line just yet but I want to put few beautiful lines from the book. The context isn't too relevant here.

"She was doing this because she knew what it was like to hit rock bottom and to need someone to give you a leg up. She was doing this because she understood how a world jammed with phones and e-mail and faxes could still leave you feeling utterly alone. But she also knew if she said either of these things, Jack's pride would have him halfway down the street before she could take another breath."

The emphasis in the quotation is mine.

November 23, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

I spent the entire day watching the Forensic Files marathon (its a serial about the case studies in forensic science) on Court TV. They called the marathon 'Guilty Pleasure Marathon' for some reason. Anyways, the primary focus of the episodes, that I watched, was murder by poison. In most of these cases, the murder was initially passed off as death by natural causes till some one insisted otherwise due to various reasons. This was the first time ever since I am watching forensic files (since my school days), they didn't divulge the murder weapons (namely poisons) for the fear of copy cats.

Well the worst realization was the profiles of these murderers established by these cases: Straight A students, avoid confrontations and like to read about the murder cases. I personally know so many of people matching this profile (including me) that it scares me. And all these geniuses always come up with the poisons with no known antidote (another reason why they didn't want to divulge the poison's name). Guess its high time to start believing in God and start praying that I don't piss off any of these dormant killers.

P.S.: 1. BTW, my BFF (BEST friend and not Boy Friend) is a PhD in chemistry. So don't piss me off either. Consider yourself warned. :)

2. On the second thought, I will use my Karate skills instead of poisoning. Poison always leaves a paper trail behind (the reason all of them were caught in the end). Still consider yourself warned.

November 22, 2007


As badly as it started, this year Thanksgiving was far more fun than previous year. Graduate student council (GSC) at Stanford sponsors thanksgiving dinner (actually it should be called Thanksgiving meal as you can't serve a dinner at 12 noon, 2PM or 4 PM(the shifts they divided the meal serving)) for students (I have never attended this event before for various reasons) and I was offered to photograph the event on behalf of GSC (read: I will be paid for the deal). So I spent four hours photographing different people, OFFICIALLY. The term makes whole lot of difference in my approach towards people though it didn't make me any better photographer. I need to post at least one of the photos, so here it is (officially, I am not supposed to share these with anyone, not yet at least):

Anyway, the most interesting part of the day started after that event. I was invited to dinner by one of the friend. Her daughter, Amy is very fond of India and is making a career out of it. And I don't mean it in any crooked way. She is very serious about going to India and work there. She speaks pretty good hindi, watches bollywood movies and is taking classes of hindi literature. Thats not all, she is learning how to read and write Urdu! But thats the academic side of it. She knows and understands Indian culture and history very well too, better than quiet a lot of Indians. Its just great talking to her. But today she startled me by asking me about my last name in respect of my caste, like an average Indian. Can you imagine that? She has picked up the nasty Indian habits! She actually understand difference between Varna (वर्ण) and Jati (जाती).

Anyway, the discussions were pretty interesting. Amy's brother, a political science major, made the statement of the evening:

Indians in America are the new whites.

He compared Indians in America today to the Jews immigration during late nineteenth century and the way they got assimilated in American society. He compared Indians with other Asians and said that Indians are more easily assimilated in American society than Chinese, for example. Obviously we all disagreed at first, as Indians love to be in their well knitted society even in foreign land and inter-racial marriages aren't welcomed by the families. But, as he pointed out, the Indians are different from other ethnic groups in the way that they can easily get accustomed to/mingle with an American group as friends, if not necessarily get married. They have better language skills (read: Good in English). Their technical superiority is being acknowledged, making them a respected and desirable member in any educated society. Well those were good points and we didn't have arguments against them. No matter how we, Indians, view foreigners; those goras and kallus (at least the educated ones) are recognizing us as a welcomed member of society, just like Jews in America in late nineteenth century. I am not sure how long will we Indians take to recognize these changes and welcome them back.

Morning Troubles

Today morning was the worst possible morning one can imagine. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. What happened?, you ask. Today morning our toilet decided to get clogged up. It means, if you flush the water tends to rise instead of going down. In the morning and that too no ordinary morning, a Thanks giving morning. Did I tell you yet that I hate national holidays? Well I do now. And as luck would have it, my room-mate happened to discover it which means I couldn't use it any longer. But its the morning and I gotta go. So I jumped into my car and started trying to locate a restroom in vicinity.

I thought that most of big stores would have a restroom. The first stop was Safeway (the big grocery store). But somehow they didn't have one. I figured the food and toilets together should be some health violation, may be thats why. Ok next stop, Walmart (the big convenience store). Did I already tell you I hate national holidays? The store was closed. That also meant that most of the shopping center was closed. What about Pharmacy stores? Usually, pharmacy and grocery stores doesn't close on holidays. And they shouldn't have trouble with any health violation. So I walked into Rite-aid. I went around the store twice. As I was walking out the store, I saw one of the employees eyeing me suspiciously. I was on the verge of walking upto him and tell him that they don't have what I am looking for. A restroom.

My last resort was our office. Seven miles from our home but it has restrooms. So I started driving towards the office a little bit faster now than usual. Ok I will admit it. I was speeding. I didn't even slow down when I saw a police car standing on the side of road. This was an emergency. And if the officer would have stopped me, I would have told him/her to mail the ticket to my address. I gotta go. But thankfully they had other things on their mind to go after a speeding car.

Finally, I reached my destination. No further troubles...Thankfully.

P.S.: 1. Our toilet is still clogged. I think I already told you, I HATE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS. Nothing can be done till tomorrow, the plumber says. So tomorrow morning, I have to follow the routine again.

2. I think its toilet's way of telling us that we should be thankful for having a working toilet in our home. Its Thanksgiving, after all.

3. Oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Remember to thank your toilets!

November 21, 2007

Going to Movie by Myself.. ALONE

Ok from today on its a 'Been there, done that'. I can see horror struck face of my BFF (Best Friend Forever) and asking in a faint voice, 'How could you? Why did you?'. May be one or two other friends are joining the gang. To answer the question, 'How could I?', here are steps involved.

Step 1: Started driving on the road leading to the movie theatre, wondering am I really going to pull this off.

Step 2: Turned into the movie theatre driveway. 'Oh God, there are so many people around.' Thought of turning around and leaving.

Step 3: Parked my car in the parking lot. A couple comes out of car parked next to mine. 'Do I really want to do this?'

Step 4: Started walking towards the theatre. Extremely conscious about walking alone.

Step 5: Reached the ticket counter and bought a single ticket for movie, 'Enchanted'. 'I am doing it.'

Step 6: Went Inside the theatre and walked straight inside the complex. Tried to merge with the crowd of giggling girls in front of me. 'Hope no one who can recognize me, is in the theatre today.'

Step 7: Sat in last middle last row. 'Its the darkest row, so no one can see me.'

Step 8: Trailer starts. A lady comes up to my seat and ask whether the two seats next to me is taken. 'No'. She and her daughter sits down.

Step 9: Movie Starts. 'Stop the urge to comment.'

Step 10: Movie ends and I was the first one to be out. Actually I don't get why people keep sitting after the movie ends and the titles start. Do they actually want to read the credits? Or is it there something that I am missing?

BTW, the movie is pretty good. I laughed the entire time. As for the question 'Why I did it?'. I really wanted to watch the movie (it opened today) and trust me it was worth all the trouble. The most difficult task was Step 9 actually. Keeping my creative comments to myself.

For all the people concerned: its not a big deal. It actually was a good adventure. Try it out some time. What a thrill!

For all the people who are thinking what the big deal is: its not. It was just my first time.


Latest headlines tells me that U.S. is astonished by Saudi rape sentence. A gang rape victim is punished because she was with an unrelated male when the incident took place and U.S. is mildly surprised at the verdict. If this would have happened in Iran, there would have been hue and cries by the same department about status of woman in Islamic society and hence justifying their hostilities against them. How they feel about a humanitarian issue depends upon the current political situation? How convenient.

November 20, 2007

Soul Mates

He was staring at her face. Nah, he was staring in those eyes. The eyes that can pierce through him so easily and look whats inside. 'This will be the last time I will be seeing them', he thought. Last time before he got someone else. How did this happen? How did they arrive here?

They were in a restaurant talking about something, he can't recall what. All he can recall now are the expressions in those eyes and the way they watched him. Their number was called and he went to get his coffee. When he came back, he caught her staring at the napkins they were writing on during their discussions. She was staring at his hand-writing. He could see the nostalgia on her face: remembrance of the times when they used to sit next to each other in class, the way he used to write on the side of her notebooks, make smilies, just distract her. He could also see the struggle on her face: whether to sneak the napkin in her purse or leave it there. He sat down, picked up the napkin and started tearing them apart. He couldn't make himself look in those eyes while doing much is this hurting her. 'Throw them in garbage instead', there was a tremble in her voice. He did. And when he did look in those eyes again, there was more concern in them than pain. Thats when he realized how much that hurt him. He wasn't tearing those napkins apart but his own heart. She saw that pain. Like always, she read him like a book.

Is this what they call love? Why didn't he realize it sooner? She was his best friend. She was there when he started going out with his fiance. She was there when he lost his job. She was there when he was trying hard to start a new career. She was there during all the hard times he can recall and yet he never realized what all that meant. He knew he had a crush on her. She thanked him when he told her that. She confessed having crush on him too. But thats what it was, a crush and they both were mature enough to maintain their friendship even after those confessions. They flirted occasionally but with understanding thats all it was. Nothing serious. None of them had courage to confess to being in love now. Or may be it was too late.

Its been years since he got married and lost contact with her. They have been acknowledged as 'Made for each other couple', 'Soul-mates'. Still he can't shake off those eyes. Those expressions. That meeting. Her.

P.S.: 1. One of the side-effect of reading fiction: imagination runs wild. And since this blog is my venting-out place, so here is the result.
2. Don't worry, I am not that big a fan of romanticism. Just the question of Soul-mates stirred this up.
3. I know I am not a writer so I am not looking for any critique either. Read it and forget it..

Happy 100

This is one of the post from my photoblog. The first shot to get 100 views. Somehow, this shot seems to be pretty popular. Not that I don't like it but somehow it wasn't the perfect shot. The breathtaking beauty of this scene wasn't captured entirely. I blamed my point and shoot camera for that. But honestly, I don't think I would have done a better job with my SLR either. It might have been a bit more clear, thats all.

I took this shot in Jammu's Bagh-e-Bahu park. Its a beautiful park. If you happen to visit Jammu do visit this park.

November 19, 2007

Second Glance

I just finished Second Glance by Jodi Picoult. This is my third novel by Jodi Picoult. The first novel by her that I read, My Sister's Keeper, is probably her best work. The book was about a family with a daughter with leukemia. In order to save her, the parents decide to have a designer baby, designed to match her sister so that she can be a bone marrow donor. Its an amazing book. A must read.

This book, Second Glance, deals with paranormal stuff. Its tough to keep the book down (though this is my problem with almost all books) as the ghost can and did appear anywhere, anytime but compared to the other books by Jodi, this one wasn't that good. Though this book made me think..Does, not believing in God, automatically means not believing in Paranormal? Or are those two different aspects? The same old argument pops up...if you can't prove something, it doesn't mean that it doesn't exists. An argument given by religious people in attempt to convert atheist/agnostic people like me. I tend to incline towards this argument. Didn't subatomic particle exist before they were scientifically discovered, even though no one could see them or prove their existence? Its a good argument and so far I haven't been able to counter it. I think it finally filters to the individual's perception then. What we choose to believe. May be all these things exists or may be not but none of these phenomena or even God affect our daily life. So even if at some level they do exist, I don't care and obviously don't wait them to take actions on my behalf. May be thats why I prefer calling myself agnostic rather than an atheist (apart for it being convenient for me).

Thats what I like about Jodi Picoult's books. They actually make you analyze your own believes. She provides really good insight to her character's psychology. She usually takes up a social issue and describe events around that issue while analyzing each and every character's thoughts and beliefs. There are no blacks and whites in her books. May be thats why her characters are so real and their way of thinking affects you. The people chasing ghosts aren't freaks and scientists not believing them aren't perfect. Its just the circumstances, they have been through, affected them and their beliefs. How can anyone, who hasn't been through those particular circumstances personally, say that he/she wouldn't have done the same under those circumstances?

The best quote from this book is below. The circumstance of this dialog was argument against existence of soul-mates or an argument against destiny having any part with our choice of life partner.
...Fate is what people invent to explain what they can't understand. If you think Eli's the one, you tell yourself it was meant to happen. And if he breaks your heart, you'll tell yourself it wasn't meant to be. I've spent ten years trying to find a man who knows where I am in a room the moment he steps inside, without even having to look. But it hasn't happened. I can admit the truth to myself - that I've got lousy luck finding love - or I can tell myself that I haven't crossed paths with my soul mate yet. And it's always easier to be a victim than a failure.


As they say, if you need to get something done, you have to do it yourself. I took the day off today to finish off the novel I have been chewing on for so many days (Ah, the luxury of being a grad student). Anyway, that meant I was off line approximately the whole day today. I checked my mail just now to find that there have been 6 mails to and fro from two of my group-mates to book a conference room for a group meeting next week. I was copied on all of them. All you need to do is to go online see if any room is available and book it. 5 minutes job. But they can waste more time telling each other about it than actually doing it. Eeeee, people..its so hard to deal with them at times.

P.S.: I added two more mails in the whole charade and we still don't have a conference room reserved as I am having problem accessing Stanford network from home. It will be done tomorrow morning when I will be in my office.

Suraj Hua Madhyam

On the road, as we came from Orland, Ca. One of my few experiments on this trip...

November 18, 2007


Yesterday I went to Farm Sanctuary in Orland, Ca. They have this event where you feed Pumpkin Pies to the Turkey for Thanksgiving. For the benefit of people unaware of importance Turkeys and Thanksgiving, its sort of a harvest festival in which the traditional dinner consists of Turkey (a bird similar to chicken). So the vegetarian (oh yes, people here are vegetarian by choice and not by upbringing) in the region protest by feeding Turkey the Pumpkin pie. Later on they serve a Vegan lunch. BTW, Vegan means a diet that doesn't consist of animal products.

No, I am not going into the whole vegetarian/vegan debates. I eat non-veg myself and I am invited for a traditional thanksgiving dinner next week so I am very much going to eat a Turkey then. I didn't go there to mock their protest either. I just wanted to see the farm and take few pictures. It was fun interacting with animals too. The point of this post is that Vegan Lunch that I ate. It was awful. I can't describe it in any other terms. I somehow swallowed it. People there (including kids) finished everything they had on their plate (though I guess those kids have never tasted anything better, their parents being vegan). And somehow during the talks they kept mentioning and thanking for some "delicious" vegan food. I swear I didn't get that one.

The trouble with that vegan food was that they were trying to get the texture of meat using vegan materials. They did get the texture but it tasted awful. I don't know why do they have to imitate a traditional meat diet using vegan materials? Why can't they come up with some other recipes, add few spices and make something worth eating (Actually they will be able to turn more people to eat vegan that way)? For example, they had some boiled beans and corns with salt. Just add some grounded black pepper and lime juice. It will taste so much better. Why torture yourself for loving animals? Or may be they just want to torture themselves. Becoming a vegan is just a way of doing that...

November 16, 2007


Just went out to get few things at 7-Eleven (neighborhood convenience store). As I was walking through the parking lot, I saw an old man in nice pant-shirt, a headphone and a BLACKBERRY in his hand. I went in, got my stuff and as I am walking back through the parking lot, same old man calls out to me, 'Hey honey, have any spare change?'

I have an older version of this Motorola phone (I couldn't even find the phone I have anywhere online, guess its completely obsolete) that I bought 2 years back. I am not sure what to feel? Embarrassed, insulted or just amused? I am just numb at the moment.

Camera and Photography

In past six months, photography has transformed from a hobby to a passion for me. It started with the photography class I took last summer. The lure of darkroom and the world of artistic creativity using light dragged me to this world where I see everything through a 2D frame. I post the results in approximately every way possible including this blog, a separate photoblog, facebook album, orkut album and e-mailing them. In return, the most frequent question I have been asked in these six months is:

'Which camera do you have?'

Somehow photography has not been accepted as a form of art. Its as if the camera does the clicking itself. The same way as some people think that a result from computer can never be wrong. They have never heard of the concept of 'garbage in garbage out'. They don't understand that computer does exactly what you, as a user, tell it to do. If you give wrong instructions, the results will be erroneous too. It doesn't matter how fast your computer is or what processor it has. Same goes with the photography. As Ernst Haas puts it best:
The camera doesn't make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.

Thats the point. You have to see and not just look. I don't claim to be an expert in photography. When I see something interesting, I try to evaluate the thing that attracts me most towards that scene and how can I capture that feature best. Rest everything falls in place. I can point out at least 5 mistakes in most of my shots afterwards but thats how I learn. I try to remember all those points and try to correct them next time I am shooting similar scene. I also learn by seeing how other people have captured the similar shots. But my camera don't teach me anything regarding those shots.

Camera is just a piece of equipment that facilitate my efforts to capture a composition that I find beautiful. SLRs are amazing that way as they give me a lot of freedom to capture those composition but again they don't click themselves. Its true that you need to learn how to operate those cameras in order to click but being expert in camera doesn't necessarily makes you a good photographer.

What makes a good photographer (again, I am no expert)? As Ernst Haas puts it:
A picture is the expression of an impression.
Style has no formula, but it has a secret key. It is the extension of your personality. The summation of this indefinable net of your feeling, knowledge and experience.

In sum, Photography is all about you. Its a way to express yourself, just like any art form. And like in any art form no one is born expert in the technique. We all learn gradually from our mistakes. But don't make the mistake of making the means (the equipments, the technique) the end result. To end I want to once again quote Ernst Hass (believe me, I was just researching for this post when I stumbled upon these quotes and not the other way round):
Best wide-angle lens? Two steps backward. Look for the 'ah-ha'.

P.S: I just realized this post is the result of one of those irritating questions that sets off my trigger. I am creating a new label 'Questions' to put all those posts together.

November 14, 2007


'To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, 'There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.' -- Ansel Adams

I went to see a friend at Stanford hospital today(She is fine). Took some shots on the way back. The front porch of hospital is very well maintained. The whole set up is very serene and to some extent breath-taking. I just love to sit down there and hear the fountains. Did you know that sound of flowing water has a calming effect on human brain? Sit next to a fountain sometime and hear the water drops falling in the water. Its so much better than those iPods in your ears.

Impact Factor

(Click to enlarge and read)
Honestly, I wasn't attempting to stall you when I found this one. This is the actually the latest in the Ph.D. comics series. It made me laugh so I thought it will be good one to put here.

Home Sweet home

Its been a long while since I have put a picture here and as I don't have anything better to write, here is a shot from yesterday's experiments. Its not one of the best pictures. Its slightly out of focus but I like the idea of this one. I will try it out again some day, may be at time of day when there is no sunshine in the picture. Just to make clear the two doors are mirror image of each other. I am standing inside one of the doorway (doorway to my home) while taking picture of the other.

November 12, 2007

Whatever happened to love...

Ok, before I start, I must confess that I have always been skeptical when it comes to the concept of Love. And let me be clear, by Love I mean the romantic inclinations and not the affections of parents, family and friends. As you must have guessed it, I have had quiet a few heated discussions with my friends about this topic. Anyways, thats not the topic of this post though the idea was conceived during one of those discussions with one of my friend.

The discussion made me recapitulate few confessions/reasons that my friends have given me over the years to be in a particular relationship. It was surprising to realize that that reason wasn't what it should be: Love. The various reasons I have come across are (in no particular order, first come first serve from my memory)...

1. Habit: I have been forever with him/her. He/she has become part of my daily habit. I am sure I love him/her. (I have one word for these people: Variety).

2. Obligation: He/she waited to be with me for so long, I don't have heart to say no now. He/she isn't bad either. I think I like him/her. (So keep asking a person out..he/she will finally cave in).

3. Need: I don't know how to cook/to take care of myself and she/he can. Its a perfect match. (Yeah for you, what about the other person?).

4. Greed: She is successful and earn well. We will have ample money to spend (Believe me, I have heard this one more than once).

5. Trophy Spouse: He/she is so good looking/popular. It makes me look cool. (Well they exactly didn't say the last sentence but thats what they meant..)

6. Reflection: Because he/she loves me so much. He/she is so obsessed with me. (Actually this is a modification of trophy spouse..these people actually like to show off how much their spouse loves them. I guess this is the closest I came to Love, at least one of them was in love).

7. Whatever: (This is my favorite). Because he/she asked me out and I wasn't going out with anyone at that time so we started going out. (Give me a break).

8. Convenience: We work together and this way I don't have to quit my job and settle down somewhere else. (I think they are in love with their job instead of that person).

9. Revolt: Because my parents have been pressurizing for the marriage and I didn't want to go for arranged marriage. (well isn't this a new type of arranged marriage when we arrange it instead of our parents? Isn't this just a revolt against parents/tradition?).

10. Help: This one is very popular among Indian students. He/she has good network and can get previous course notes/assignments. That way I can get good grades.(Very professional, I say).

11. Lonely: Last but not least, is being alone. I have to have someone in my life, no matter who. I can't cope with loneliness. (Well, so far this is one reason I can somewhat live with).

May be being in love is fashionable and thats why these people are in those relationships (so that they have a boyfriend/girlfriend to make their fashion statement). Or may be I don't know the definition of love. Will someone care to explain it to me?

November 9, 2007

Yummy..oh my tummy

Warning: Two of these nice, sweet, delicious ladoo causes your tummy to hurt and go under a big turmoil. Oh God, bless my tummy.

Happy Diwali

Finally, I got home and could get on the internet. This shot is from my own personal celebration of Diwali tonight. I hope you had a better time and wish you all a bright and prosperous New Year. Now I have to go back and reply back to all the nice and kind friends who took time to wish me today.

P.S.: Just realized, this post follows the post on Atheism. Please don't get confused, I set all this up (including the black cloth (actually a pillow case) in the background and a bright table lamp to get proper lighting) to get some cool pictures of Diwali and not to pray for prosperity or anything. I am big fan of traditions even though I am agnostic. See how pretty this looks!

November 8, 2007

Bhagat Singh and Atheism

Ok, I am not a big fan of writing about something that some other blogger has already posted about but this one is opinion-changing post so here it is. India Uncut has a link to a wonderful article by Bhagat Singh titled, "Why am I an atheist?".

My close friends know that I am a big fan of Gandhi and always had an aversion towards the violent freedom struggle. In fact, Gandhi is my second favorite character from the history, the first being Chanakya/Kautaliya. And let me be clear, I admire both these figures for the same thing: their cunningness and their political/financial understandings that actually made India strong at two different time periods in history. But I digress. Coming back to the article in discussion, I never expected Bhagat Singh to be an atheist, let alone have such a deep understanding about religious beliefs. As Amit Verma puts it, the article makes you want to learn more about Bhagat Singh as a person.

I like to think myself as an agnostic and not an atheist. I don't have courage to discard the existence of a supernatural power and not because I am scared of an Almighty and his wrath but because its a psychological need that I have come to accept. As I wrote earlier, I am a hypocrite when it comes to concept of God. I believe in him when the pressure/stress around becomes too much for me to bear. If I am in a stressful situation, the only way I can relax is by believing that He exists and will be responsible for the consequences of my actions/decisions (As we say it, aage uski marzi (All is in God's hands now)). I don't have enough strength to take responsibility of all my actions and I have a ready made concept/person to blame, then why not use it (I say, When going gets tough, believe in God)? But I do so in full knowledge that I am using the concept of God for my advantage and ultimately its me who has to change in order to succeed (it just gives me a brief respite). Having said that, I completely agree with the views of Bhagat Singh. I wish I had enough courage and emotional strength to become a full-fledged atheist.

The article makes me wonder that how many of the atheists in the world were brought up as an atheist? Most of atheist I know(including me), have come from families of firm believers and thought their way to Atheism. As Bhagat Singh puts it:
According to me, any man who has got some reasoning power at his command always tries to reason out his environments. Where direct proofs are lacking philosophy occupies the important place. As I have already stated, a certain revolutionary friend used to say that philosophy is the outcome of human weakness. When our ancestors had leisure enough to try to solve out the mystery of this world, its past, present and the future, its whys and wherefores, they having been terribly short of direct proofs, everybody tried to solve the problem in his own way. Hence we find the wide differences in the fundamentals of various religious creeds, which sometimes assume very antagonistic and conflicting shapes. Not only the Oriental and Occidental philosophies differ, there are differences even amongst various schools of thought in each hemisphere...
...All these creeds differ from each other on the fundamental question; and everybody considers himself to be on the right. There lies the misfortune. Instead of using the experiments and expressions of the ancient Savants and thinkers as a basis for our future struggle against ignorance and to try to find out a solution to this mysterious problem, we, lethargical as we have proved to be, raise the hue and cry of faith, unflinching and unwavering faith to their versions and thus are guilty of stagnation in human progress....

But above all, I like the underlying question of the article:
Is it due to vanity that I do not believe in the existence of an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God?

I think, all the atheist, agnostic people reached to their conclusions by only one reason: Common Sense.

Human Egotism

Forced to Run Straight, a River must Twist Now. When will we stop playing God and stop destroying environment?

November 7, 2007


NY Times Quote of the day is:
How do you function as a lawyer when the law is what the general says it is? -- Babar Satar, on Pakistani lawyers' protests against President Pervez Musharraf

I don't understand what they are complaining about? Isn't that the whole point of dictatorship? Being "God" of your own country...

November 6, 2007


Written on a cereal box:
Win fabulous prizes. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Details inside the box.

Am I supposed to shoplift the cereal box or am I supposed to just open up the box right there, get the details and keep the box back on the shelf?


Read somewhere:
I want to know what good is a web search engine that returns 324,909,188 matches to my key word. That’s like saying, “Good news! We’ve located the product you’re looking for. It’s on Earth.”

November 5, 2007

Geeks and Lions

Tip #83A (from the book called "Tips for stalling your blog-readers"): If you don't have anything to write about and you still feel obligated to write something, look through your forwarded mails/spam mails and generate a material to write.

Tip #83B: If forwarded mails/spam mails scam, I mean trick, doesn't work, try some match making sites and make fun of few idiotic proposals.

(P.S.: For previous references of the aforementioned book please click here.)

Here is something from my forwarded mails. I knew saving all that crap as a word file will pay off some day. So today we are actually trying to catch a lion. See how our dearest, cutest grad students will go about it but first few legal stuff.

1. Please don't try any of these at home. They are only theoretical conjectures. Trying them in the field can be dangerous.
2. Geek Alert: This manual is specifically meant for Engineering and Science graduates. Any other person trying to comprehend this document will be responsible for the consequences (For details about the consequences, please refer to the manual).

Copyright disclaimer: If the person who authored this document, happen to visit this site and think about suing me, then sorry dude you gave up that right when you forwarded it. Now sit back and just enjoy the ride...I mean popularity of your manual. BTW, great work.

So here it goes:

Manual for catching Lion

Six ways to catch a lion

1. Newton's Method: Let, the lion catch you. For every action there is equal and opposite reaction. Implies you caught lion.

2. Einstein Method: Run in the direction opposite to that of the lion. Due to higher relative velocity, the lion will also run faster and will get tired soon. Now you can trap it easily.

3. Schrodinger Method: At any given moment, there is a positive probability that lion to be in the cage. So set the trap, sit down and wait.

4. Inverse Transformation Method: We place a spherical cage in the forest and enter it. Perform an inverse transformation with respect to lion. Lion is in and we are out.

5. Thermodynamic Procedure: We construct a semi-permeable membrane which allows every thing to pass through it except lions. Then sweep the entire forest with it.

6. Integration Differentiation Method: Integrate the forest over the entire area. The lion is some where in the result. So differentiate the result PARTIALLY w.r.t lion to trace out the lion.

This manual is STRICTLY for circulation among ENGINEERS and SCIENTISTS only.......anyone found violating the rule will be the lunch for the lion that is caught.


Have you ever been stuck in the elevator? I finished that task today, even though it was for 15 minutes only. Okay the event went like this.

Around 1:30 this afternoon, I decided to go back home early as I wasn't feeling too good (most probably due to my lunch). I parked my car on the fifth floor of the parking structure and since I wasn't already feeling very well, I decided to take the elevator (Big mistake). An elderly gentleman joined me with my wait for the fateful elevator. It arrived and we both got in. BTW, this elevator was the one with the transparent glass on the other side so that you can see outside. Anyway, I pressed the button for my floor and politely asked him for his. He was going to floor 4. The elevator door closed. And then the wait begin...but the elevator didn't move. "Why isn't this elevator moving?", I asked after 10 secs of waiting (how fast our patience run out these days). The elderly gentleman looked up(he was apparently in his thoughts) and realized that the elevator wasn't moving. And then started the pressing of different buttons.

Did you ever notice the "Alarm" button or the "Emergency Call" push buttons in the elevator? Did you ever wonder how to use them? Well I was wondering that so I asked "So do we use Alarm button now?". "Not yet", came the answer and a moment later he added "Don't panic.". I assumed he was telling himself that. We continued pressing the "Open Door" and "Level 1" button alternatively for another minute. Then we tried "LL" (Lower Level = Basement) button (may be it will go the other way). Nothing worked. So he finally decided to press the "Alarm". Well it rang an alarm with in the elevator. Hmmm...thats interesting to know. Why would anyone want to sound an alarm inside the elevator when he is already in the elevator?

Anyways, I suggested to go for the "Emergency call" button. Its supposed to blink indicating the help is on way. What to do if it doesn't blink? Ours didn't. It just went off after 5 secs. We pressed it change in results. By now we have learnt that pressing the button repeatedly isn't working for this elevator. So I took out the cell phone (Surprise, surprise, I had my cell phone and it was fully me, me and my cell phone are rarely found together) and said a bit shakily, "well we can use the phone". He said equally shakily, "Is there a phone number we can reach?" I canvased the whole elevator for a number to reach. There was "How to operate?" writing, a permit of elevator operation but no phone number. So should I dial 911? That was a scary thought. Trust me. But as I was contemplating dialing the emergency number there was a sudden bang and the elevator started to go down towards the basement, at normal speed I must add. 'Well now', I thought, 'finally I can go back to being sick', but then another thought struck, 'what if doors still don't open'. Well, it reached the basement level, finally, and slowly and smoothly the door opened. And we were free to climb six floors (five in case of elderly gentleman). Great.

I know its pretty anticlimactic but hey, this is real life and not Hollywood, what did you expect? Handsome, cute, macho firemen coming to our rescue? Sirens blazing everywhere and us coming out of a hostage situation? Dreams, dreams...

P.S.: In case you were wondering, yes, thats what I was contemplating about when that wretched elevator decided to start working again, breaking all my dreams to be rescued by a handsome prince...sob.

November 4, 2007

Desism Vs. Racism- Reloaded

Thanks to Aditi (the author of the article "The Desism in Racism" ), I now have the link to the original article. All of you ,who liked or was piqued by the post Desism Vs. Racism, will find this article highly insightful. I strongly recommend you to read the entire article. Now without any further delay, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you :

November 3, 2007

American Funniest Video

If a tree falls in the forest with no one to hear it, then does it make a sound? This kid doesn't think so...

Publicizing the Privacy

As our hindi teacher in high school often reiterated, Man is a social animal (In her terms: मनुष्य एक सामाजिक प्राणी है। (Ooh.. I love this multilingual feature of Google's)). I think that's the best way to describe the issue in hand. We, humans, by nature live in society. We need certain amount of socializing in order to survive and still we need some amount of privacy from people around us. A contrasting requirement. We have invented so many ways to increase our communications. From the earliest method of communication developed by humans, i.e., development of a language, followed by writing skills to some kind of postal system, we did quiet a lot to communicate and socialize. And now we have telephones, cell-phones, pagers and above all, internet. We email, blog, become members of social internet networks and still we want to live in our own private world. The question is where does socializing ends and where does the privacy begins? For example, are friends part of socializing and end of privacy or are they part of our private world?

Sharing thoughts is communication, sharing with whom makes it private or public. But now-a-days the means of communications decides the audience and hence deciding about it being private or public. Still that doesn't deter us from putting our most private thoughts on a public platform. At times, under an assumed name. The question being: Are the personal thoughts communicated on a public platform under an assumed name private or public?

Take me, for instance (no I am not using any assumed names), I like to blog (as should be evident by the frequency of posts on this blog) but only very few of my friends know about this blog. None of my campus friends have this url (which is ironic as the blog is titled Grad Life). I don't want any one and everyone, who knows me personally, to know about my personal thoughts but somehow strangers reading these posts doesn't bother me. Does that make me a hypocrite? I want to connect with a world beyond the one I am living in but I don't want to open up in the world I am already living in. And somehow this is an issue of privacy for me. Strange, isn't it? I guess this brings us back to the initial question: where does the privacy begin? What is privacy? May be, being a social animal we can't live in a private world, we will communicate and reach out to someone, not necessarily our friends, somehow, not necessarily by a private communication. Thats our instinct.

Your thoughts?

November 2, 2007


One of things I like about Facebook is getting updated status of my friends. They are very entertaining. Here is a sample of latest status of my friends (for privacy issues, I am using the initials):

MK is wondering whether she will ever be a real scientist.
5 hours ago. (Yep. She is a Stanford Geek!)

GC is in love with this weekend !
7 hours ago. (And she isn't.)

KM is wishing a very happy birthday to her special guy :)
10 hours ago. (She is sooo.. in love. She is obviously a teenager. In fact, A sophomore.)

MP is starting a weekend adventure.
10 hours ago. (Hmmmm..."Weekend Adventure". Interesting.)

VB is going to be catwoman on Saturday!
22 hours ago. (Fun Girl.)

ES is Rawr.
on Thursday. (Okay, I have no idea, what does that mean.)

PJ is applying for a green card!
on Wednesday. ("PJ" will be soon American.)

YA is excited he felt the earthquake.
on Wednesday.(Crazy People.)

GC is is back in the game!
on Tuesday. (Which game? )

RP is feeling old-er-er.
on Tuesday. (His B'day was two days before the day he posted this. Explains the two "-er"s. )

NA is having beers
on Monday.(Good for him.)

Richa is upset.
a moment ago. (That's me. :( )

November 1, 2007

Heart or Brain

Blood is such a vital component in our social life. The bloodline of a person can define who he is, where he came from (for some people)? My flesh and blood..defines your family. Blood-traitor is a person in the family who betrays the family. The temperature(hot or cold), color(red or white) and thickness of blood can tell you about someone's personality. And to think that the organ that pumps all this blood in you is your Heart. So when you give someone your heart, you give away a very vital organ which is not only necessary for your survival but also defines you. You can't survive once heart stops working..

On the other hand, you can be brain-dead and still be breathing. A vegetative survival, but technically alive. Vegetative because, the brain controls everything you are and not everything that defines you. Your emotions, your feelings, your memories, your experiences, your cognitive thinking...everything that is you. Giving someone your brain will be same as giving yourself. But we prefer to give our hearts, that is our life but not ourselves. hmmm..interesting, no?