Monday, November 29, 2010

Warm Virtual Memories

Ever held a coffee cup with both hands ? Nestled comfortably in my palm, with brimful of hot charming beverage filling its soul, its felt so warm, no nice, the oh-so good feeling took over my senses.

Not the kind of paper cup Starbucks or ERC offers, but real coffee-mugs. It's gotta be white, and ceramic. And then the feeling is just like warm sweet engrossing virtual memories.

It is slightly cold outside. Just had my breakfast with toast topped with thick butter, coupla boiled eggs and microwaved tomatoes garnished with dried dill. Eyes are set firm on the open page of "Rebecca" which was then narrating the thoughts of a young shy naive girl. She has been just proposed marriage by Max De Winter, current owner of the most amazing villa Menderley.

The movie is a good thriller but the book, so far at least, has scored pretty high as a romantic novel. But the crowdpuller has to be the numerous virtual memories the she creates in her mind and the way she narrates them.

Take for instance the curious thoughts interplaying her mind - it all happened so quick and unexpected for her - soon after she accepted the proposal. She is happy. Should be very happy. She spins the wheel of imagination as her man breaks the news of their engagement to her employer, from whom he is literally taking her away.
The walls of the suite were thick, I could hear no hum of voices. I wondered what he was saying to her, how he phrased his words. Perhaps he said, 'I fell in love with her, you know, the very first time we met. We've been seeing one another every day.' And she in answer, 'Why, Mr de Winter, it's quite the most romantic thing I've ever heard.' Romantic, that was the word I had tried to remember coming up in the lift. Yes, of course. Romantic. That was what people would say. It was all very sudden and romantic. They suddenly decided to get married and there it was. Such an adventure. I smiled to myself as I hugged my knees on the window seat, thinking how wonderful it was, how happy I was going to be. I was to marry the man I loved. I was to be Mrs de Winter.
But then follows another chain of thoughts... she was in love, but was he too? Max De Winter was married before, a famous marriage that recently ended after the untimely death of his even more famous wife Rebecca.
It would have been better, after all, more natural surely to have gone into the sitting-room hand in hand, laughing, smiling at one another and for him to say 'We're going to be married, we're very much in love.' In love. He had not said anything yet about being in love. No time perhaps. It was all so hurried at the breakfast table. Marmalade, and coffee, and that tangerine. No time. The tangerine was very bitter. No, he had not said anything about being in love. Just that we would be married. Short and definite, very original. Original proposals were much better. More genuine. Not like other people. Not like younger men who talked nonsense probably, not meaning half they said. Not like younger men being very incoherent, very passionate, swearing impossibilities. Not like him the first time, asking Rebecca... I must not think of that. Put it away. A thought forbidden, prompted by demons. Get thee behind me, Satan. I must never think about that, never, never, never. He loves me, he wants to show me Manderley.
Had she been little more young or little more matured, she would have knitted the whole nine yards of "does he". Instead the bubbly lass drowns herself in her own thoughts and creates a warm lovely wall of romantic wall across her, allowing nothing to stay between her and her love, in an uncomplicated direct way.
I picked up the book. I caught my foot in the flex of the bedside lamp, and stumbled, the book falling from my hands on to the floor. It fell open, at the title-page. 'Max from Rebecca.' She was dead, and one must not have thoughts about the dead. They slept in peace, the grass blew over their graves. How alive was her writing though, how full of force. Those curious, sloping letters. The blob of ink. Done yesterday. It was just as if it had been written yesterday. I took my nail scissors from the dressing-case and cut the page, looking over my shoulder like a criminal. I cut the page right out of the book. I left no jagged edges, and the book looked white and clean when the page was gone. A new book, that had not been touched. I tore the page up in many little fragments and threw them into the waste-paper basket. Then I went and sat on the window seat again. But I kept thinking of the torn scraps in the basket, and after a moment I had to get up and look in the basket once more. Even now the ink stood up on the fragments thick and black, the writing was not destroyed. I took a box of matches and set fire to the fragments. The flame had a lovely light, staining the paper, curling the edges, making the slanting writing impossible to distinguish. The fragments fluttered to grey ashes. The letter R was the last to go, it twisted in the flame, it curled outwards for a moment, becoming larger than ever. Then it crumpled too; the flame destroyed it. It was not ashes even, it was feathery dust... I went and washed my hands in the basin. I felt better, much better. I had the clean new feeling that one has when the calendar is hung on the wall at the beginning of the year. January the 1st. I was aware of the same freshness, the same gay confidence. The door opened and he came into the room.
If the novel ends up having any resemblance to the movie then, this is just the beginning of many other attempts. The past of Menderley would become present with her arrival, treading on her husband's shoes. Memory is just like that - for some, it just refuses to fade away. Still...

It was all a very warm feeling. There was chill in the air. The sun was just out, and sneaked in from behind the half-drawn curtains to deliver morning greetings. South-Indian coffee made in Italian mocha does not taste original, but not fake either. A little while ago she had hugged her knees sitting at the window. Not smart enough to be silly, I hugged my coffee mug. And it felt very nice. Very warm. Very fulfilling.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ad Haiti

In the long vertical list of catchy news titles, Google News chose to display this one at the top "Haitians Cry in Letters: 'Please — Do Something!'" (NYTimes, Sep 19, 2010). Supposedly a computer program chose the exact placement of this article, nevertheless, I paid attention and went ahead with the click. The same Google News has been telling me for more than 6 months that most countries who had pledged aid to Haiti (for the Jan 2010 earthquake) has failed to deliver. Reports trickle in that the situation as of now is no better than what it was 1 month after the earthquake. Priorities are strange in "least developed countries".

I evoked a mixed burst of emotions as I read the article - NYTimes kept showing a clickable ad about luxury travel offers side by side. I wished that the ad servers displayed more consistent ads. This isn't something totally out of the blue ... keyword "Haiti" does not necessarily mean a vacation travel destination. Sentiment analysis is already a niche area of R&D for CS/Linguists.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

midoonestam / I know

Been continuously listening to "Midoonestam" by Soroush Malekpour for the last several "days". It is still playing on a loop in my music player - non stop. Sounds very much like a good Ghazal - but without words to destroy the resonance satiating my Atman.

Even after a lot of searching, I am still ignorant-yet-curious about what Midoonestam actually means (as far as I could gather, its a Farsi word).

You might like it. Youtube link:

Edit: My esteemed ex-colleague helped me confirm it's meaning - "I Knew". Thanks, Ilir.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ominous Dark Spot

AP: "Everything seemed to be going downhill," said Sveden, of Brewster. "I seemed to be tired a lot more. I didn't want to do too much. My appetite was diminishing."

I feel the same too.

AP: "There was a lot of inflammation there and I thought, OK, there's a tumor at the bottom of this," said Spillane, who went in with a scope. But the more Spillane probed at the encrusted mass, the clearer it became that it was no tumor. "It was pretty grungy, but it looked like a pea," Spillane said. "I sent it to the pathologist. They said it was a vegetable."

I am not making fun of Sveden or his sad situtation, please make no mistake. I am saying that most of the things that happen to us are consequences of something we do, something someone else does. And then there are coincidences - and notwithstanding hard work and perseverence, one has to agree that a stronger force can wipe out everything for good or bad.

That is my take - all that happens, happens due to consequences and coincidences. Just to show how much surprise life has in store for us, here is another similar report.

AP: "In 2009, a Russian surgeon said he found a tiny fir tree in someone's lung and suggested the patient could have inhaled a seed. Experts said at the time that a fir seed could not germinate in the lung because it needs sunlight."

(From a news article by The Associated Press: Docs discover pea sprouting in Mass. man's lung)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Know Him!!!

No one told me ... but good ol' trusted TimesOfIndia never fails to report "Good News" (and as usual, never fails to make the obligatory typo - BBM should be read as BBN).

Quoting ...
Saikat Guha to have been selected for the NASA Tech Brief Award in recognition of his contribution to the National Space Programme and to the mission of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, US.

Guha, presently employed as a scientist at the US-based B B M Technology has been selected for this award by the NASA Inventions and Contributions Board chairman for his work on Phase-conjugate receiver for Gaussian-state quantum illumination.
It's impossible for me to call-and-congratulate him right now and he should be far too busy with talks and accolades to acknowledge matters of little significance as this, but nevertheless ... I used to know that guy, at a place far away and at a time far ago. What a year for ya!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


(read thrice, first to parse, next decipher, last to grasp. there's aint no typo.)

Raining Hard.
Heard Loud "Help".
First Ran Fast.
Then Understood.

PS: No... this ne'er happened. When I am counting raindrops I lose my hearing.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


If it's bad to feel bad,
It's worse to feel nothing!

The doctor prescribed me dry-heat and one exercise to beat the upper-back pain that I was endowed with; may Hippocrates give the doc lots of fame and fortune but the cool doc simply went overboard - he directed me to swallow little cyan split-pea size Amitriptyline Hydrochloride pills, right before dinner.

Those dang rotten pebbles takes my breath away, and any strength in my limbs, and any consciousness even an awaken idiot may have, for a lull stretch of 12 hours! Which means, given that I am used to late dinner around 11 or 12, I am unable to stand on my feet till noon the next day.

Sick of my sickness, I searched the internet; then, this wretched self came to know that he is experiencing one of the side effects of this anti-depressant! Yes, that's what this pill is commonly used for, and I suppose was given in this case to soothe the neural wires snaking through my spine.

The whole day is now spent with vacant stares and not really understanding what good or bad is happening around. Can't even think straight nowadays, I am worried that when I will finally wake up, I will find I have lost my heartbeat.

Please remind me who you are, if you find me loitering on road. Thank you for asking how I am.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Also I don't have 500 $million

Received this in a fwded mail from an old pal "Tiger Woods: A Cautionary Tale For All American Men" written by Tom Leykis, an American radio talk-show host.

I never listened to Tom Leykis's show when I was in Boston. I did listen to radio, and quite a bit to the talk shows on NPR, and I would have listened to Tom had I known about his show. Like my identity, internet is able to wipe my location with lavendar-fresh finish; so now that I know, maybe I will.

I will not leave a link here ... if you are interested, you can easily find his blog and the above mentioned article. Couple of excerpts to excite you.

Just a guess from observing his demeanor and hearing his very controlled interviews (not to mention his painfully unrevealing “apology” press conference): Tiger is someone who probably had very little time for a social life growing up. Guy friends, girlfriends, and all that goes with that were likely shoved aside for early mornings hitting ball after ball after ball with his dad. Did he develop like a normal American teenager? Did he make out in the backseat of his car with girls with whom he went to school? Did he go to his prom? Did he ever just hook up? I tend to doubt it.


The real truth about marriage is something that men who look like beaten dogs whisper to each other at Hooters, at strip clubs, at sports bars, at bowling alleys, and even over the cubicle walls at offices across America: marriage is for men who cannot afford to live parallel lives with hot women in expensive hotel rooms. It is for men who need someone to share the rent or the mortgage payment. It is for farmers who need more farmhands when they become too old to till the soil. It is for men who grew up too lazy to clean their places, and so, as a result, are willing to take on a 180-pound mommy stand-in who will clean it. Marriage is not for buff, famous, educated men who have 500 million dollars and the freedom to do almost anything they want.


Tiger Woods had no business getting married or having any children at all so early in his life. And, if you are a successful young man in America who has worked so hard to get where you are, neither do you.
There are lots of comments ... mostly supportive, on this article in his blog site. Right now I don't have time to turn toss and ponder over his assertions. But scary as they sound, I made a quick run down. After all, I am lazy to clean my place and don't stay with my mom any more.

* male - CHECK (last checked - right now!)
* young - CHECK (30 ... well ... sorta)
* successful - CHECK (kinda ... I am not homeless and can afford butter for my bread)
* worked hard - CHECK (I'm single so I have no other option)
* American - FALSE (Yay!)

/me feels so relieved!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

a PhD student

Ahoy! Here is a gem of a picture which my venerable colleague BK dug out from her knapsack of past photos. She calls it a "blast from the past". Quoting her (without prior permission which I am sure she would have granted):
We probably clicked this before Bera left the country. Thought you guys would like a copy of a typical goofiing-around-in-psy-221 pic :)

I think this picture should be preserved in some kind of PhD showcase. It shows all the primary signs of the workplace of a (tenured) PhD student - 2 computers (one displaying Google to whom all PhD students owe their allegiance), a wall with lots of random postings, open books and papers, a busy shelf with useful cutlery and most important, hostile peers who keep you alert!

PS: That is Ilir in the picture trying to "frame" me. He is a sucker for free stuff! Beware.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mists of Morn

When all eyes are shut, mine are wide open. Then when the million pairs flutter wide, my weary self feels watched and dozes off.

"Sleeping off" one's fear is a wonderful trick I had learnt many months ago and have been using it since then. It works. So much has happened over the past couple of years, that taking stock of those, repeatedly every night, tires my brain cells past a good physical exhaustion. New place, new faces, new air, new goal. Natural seclusion. Self-rebuilding is a defence tactic that I never chose as Elective. Some people are exceptionally good at adjusting to the container they are placed in and some, like me, try to climb out and find their old earthern barrel dumped in some corner or smashed out of earth. Unless someone puts a post-it on their eyelid "The world is still as gay as yore".

Thus, woken up just now at 10 in the morning, I feel a hangover. This is probably the worse part, because I need to sleep little more ... till its noon and I get busy in mundane work to not think anymore. Thinking is sinking. My medication: Movement 2, BWV 1056, in piano.

In the book I am currently reading, rather in the last chapter that I read, Pip is moving out of his home to become a bespoke gentleman, as wished upon by an unknown beneficiary. His worst night is bestowed just before his best to come days. The final journey out of his village is long. He thinks he can always go back at the next halt but never does.
It was a hurried breakfast with no taste in it. I got up from the meal, saying with a sort of briskness, as if it had only just occurred to me, "Well! I suppose I must be off!" and then I kissed my sister who was laughing and nodding and shaking in her usual chair, and kissed Biddy, and threw my arms around Joe's neck. Then I took up my little portmanteau and walked out. The last I saw of them was, when I presently heard a scuffle behind me, and looking back, saw Joe throwing an old shoe after me and Biddy throwing another old shoe. I stopped then, to wave my hat, and dear old Joe waved his strong right arm above his head, crying huskily "Hooroar!" and Biddy put her apron to her face.

I walked away at a good pace, thinking it was easier to go than I had supposed it would be, and reflecting that it would never have done to have had an old shoe thrown after the coach, in sight of all the High Street. I whistled and made nothing of going. But the village was very peaceful and quiet, and the light mists were solemnly rising, as if to show me the world, and I had been so innocent and little there, and all beyond was so unknown and great, that in a moment with a strong heave and sob I broke into tears. It was by the finger-post at the end of the village, and I laid my hand upon it, and said, "Good by, O my dear, dear friend!"

Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried than before,—more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle. If I had cried before, I should have had Joe with me then.

So subdued I was by those tears, and by their breaking out again in the course of the quiet walk, that when I was on the coach, and it was clear of the town, I deliberated with an aching heart whether I would not get down when we changed horses and walk back, and have another evening at home, and a better parting. We changed, and I had not made up my mind, and still reflected for my comfort that it would be quite practicable to get down and walk back, when we changed again. And while I was occupied with these deliberations, I would fancy an exact resemblance to Joe in some man coming along the road towards us, and my heart would beat high.—As if he could possibly be there!

We changed again, and yet again, and it was now too late and too far to go back, and I went on. And the mists had all solemnly risen now, and the world lay spread before me.
Pip has to move forward. His past will be always there, and ingratitude towards it will only make him suffer more. But he can build upon them and soar higher clouds. I am yet to see what happens to him next, but I wish he becomes a better person now that holy waters washed his clumsy cheeks.

Picture above:
Taken at about 10am (!) in India (winter). Lone stranger amidst mist.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kolkata Intellectuals

Kolkata Intellectuals

কলকাতায় বিদ্বজনের অভাব নাই । জ্ঞান-অজ্ঞানের সীমানা যতদূর সম্প্রসারিত করা যায়, এই শহরের জল-বাতাস-ধুঁয়াবর্তিত স্ত্রী-পুরুষ পাইলেই তাহার সুযোগ লইয়া থাকেন । তথ্য, তত্ত্ব এবং জ্ঞান সব এক রোয়াকে বসিয়া, এক ঠোঙা হইতে মুড়ি খাইতে খাইতে সকল বিষয়ের চর্চা করেন ।

সর্ব-সমন্বয়ের এমন শহরে সংবাদমাধ্যম বেশ কিছুদিন যাবত্ একটি নূতন শব্দের প্রচলন করিয়াছেন - "বুদ্ধিজীবি" । বিগত ২-৩ বৎসর ধরিয়া মধ্যমধ্যই শুনিতেছি, নানারূপ সংবেদনশীল ঘটনার পক্ষে-বিপক্ষে ইনারা মিছিল করিতেছেন, সংবাদমাধ্যমে মতামত দিতেছেন, "শিক্ষিত"-"মার্জিত" রূপে প্রতিবাদ করিতেছেন । সংবাধমাধ্যমদীয় সংজ্ঞা অনুযায়ী তুলি-কলম যাত্রা-নাটক দূরদর্শন-বায়োস্কোপ ইত্যাদি যাহাদের ধ্যান-জ্ঞান, সেই সকল কলাকুশলী উক্ত দলভুক্ত । উনাদের শুভ ইচ্ছার প্রতি আমার আন্তরিক শুভেচ্ছা রইলো ।

কেবল ধ্বন্দ হয় এই ভাবিয়াই যে এই প্রকার জাতিভেদের কি প্রয়োজন ছিল ? নিজ নিজ ক্ষেত্রে বুদ্ধি সকল মানুষ প্রয়োগ করিয়া থাকেন, এমনকি সাংসারিক ক্ষেত্রে (পুরুষ)বুদ্ধিজীবিদের ঘরণী অনেক বেশী বুদ্ধিমত্তা । "বুদ্ধিজীবি" শব্দপ্রয়োগে যে প্রচ্ছন্ন অপমান ধ্বনিত হয়, তাহা বড় প্রকট, বেদনাদায়ক । বহুবৎসর আগে এমনই আরেক শব্দের প্রচলন ঘটিয়াছিল উক্তমাধ্যমকর্ত্তৃক - "জীবনমুখী গান" !!! সেই সময় সাহস করিয়া জনৈকা সুবিখ্যাত শিল্পী প্রতিবাদ করিয়াছিলেন - "আমরা কি মরণমুখী গান গাই ?" (অপ্রাসঙ্গিক হইলেও পুলকিত হইতে হয় জানিয়া যে, মন্ত্যবের কিছু দিন পরেই উনি এক জীবনমুখী গায়কের সহিত একই মঞ্চে অনুষ্ঠানে অংশ নেন) ।

যে শহরে পৃথিবীর অপর প্রান্তের ঘটনার প্রতিবাদে ধিক্কারমিছিল হয়, যে শহরে ক্রীড়া প্রতিযোগিতায় নিম্নমানের প্রদর্শনের জন্য স্বদলের নিন্দা অথবা উচ্চমানের প্রদর্শনের‌ জন্য বিপক্ষদলের বাহবা সর্বজনবিদিত, যে শহরে দেশি-বিদেশি সকল কৃতীজন সমাদৃত - এমন কলকাতা শহরে জনকতক মনুর সন্তানকে "বুদ্ধিজীবি"-র মুকুট পরানো হইল, অথচ তাহার কোনে প্রতিবাদ হইল না, ইহাই আশ্চর্য সৃষ্টি করে । বুদ্ধিজীবিরাও এই অলীক শ্রেণীভেদের ক্ষীণতম প্রতিবাদ পর্যন্ত করেন নাই; artists and academicians are not the same as intellectuals - যাহারা ইহা বোঝেন না অথবা না বুঝিবার ভণিতা করেন, তাহাদের কি বুদ্ধিজীবি বলা স্ববুদ্ধির পরিচয় ?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Eve without Web

Nearly a third of a day ago I was told by someone to lead the life of an ascetic. That was the medication prescribed for certain symptoms rising out of my habit of baring my mind. The greatest mystery about truth is that it is often more misunderstood as lie than falsehood itself. As truth got unfolded, my lines were read between and earlier statements were (re)interpreted to a completely false conclusion. I suppose we are so used to deception, that a candid expression is almost universally noticed, either to an applause or to suspicion. I take facts by facts but my expectations about others doing the same is definitely a thing of the Mars, if not Utopia.

I don't smoke, nor drink or have a fatal attraction towards television that I can get rid off. Must an ascetic abandon his uninterrupted nurturing of some unworthy passion, I decided to put my habit of being on the internet to a test. I decided to stay disconnected till tomorrow morning. Not doing this for the first time, but not as the first step of becoming an ascetic.

9:25pm. A force can only be replaced by another force of same or more strength. Passion must replace passion, love must replace love, hatred can be replaced by hatred towards hate, if I cannot get online I must be doing something equally occupying. I had started to watch "The Berlin Express". It just ended. Twice I had the urge to take a peek at my mailbox, but I able to curb it. Next reporting, an hour later.

10:32pm now, and I smell something burning. The scene in front is showing a person from an Italian asylum taking a leak with his fly still buttoned, but it didn't take a minute to dawn upon me that the smell bothering me isn't, possibly can't be, coming from the movie 'Amarcord' but from my kitchen where a rather watery ensemble of veggies is supposed to be slowly enraged to perfection. Shoot!!! I quickly go and fill the pot with water to its brink. Dessert to ocean in a the wink of en eye. And I have managed to spent one more hour avoiding the urge.

11:02pm. Finished making 5 round flat whole-wheat breads. Miracle of technology has gifted the ability of enjoying homemade "roti"/"chapati" to people challenged with rolling pins and dough. Now I can make chapatis at the rate of asymptotically one in every 5 minutes, start to finish and no messy guts lying around. I also reaffirmed my theory of losing weight, cooking food for self. It has nothing to do with the taste, in fact it better be friendly to one's palate to facilitate a long term entate; the energy spent during cooking is enough to burn the excess carb one might be taking in. Well of course, the person concerned has to possess the inability to sit quietly at a place for even a minute: I have been walking around constantly during the last half an hour. Still no sign of the return of any urge. Good so far.

Two minutes have passed since the hands of my watch agreed on their positions. Midnight has just happened. I had to stop "Breakfast at Tiffany's" because I didn't want to spend the whole evening only watching movies. I had to anyway switch to this Hollywood flick because it is cumbersome to eat and watch the subtitles of the previous one. I better start making my bed. I just made a quick pass at the breeze from the balcony ... it is lovely. I remembered I had to send an email to two students about some web stuff ... but I cannot take the risk of opening the door of a card house; the whole effort will wash away in an instant. There is a photo staring at me from my desktop. I will let it stare and shutting my mind, drop the curtains atop my laptop. Good night, bis morgan.

Two birds woke me up. It is 6:50am now. They were fighting, or jostling but in a rather hostile manner, out of my sight; but foolish as they are, they didn't bother to consider my ears and were just outside my window. Rascals, had to scare them off ... the next they always do is lit my floors with litter. I remember falling off to sleep last night while I was working on a, what I think is incorrect, proof in Flavio's paper; I want to email him and seek an explanation. Email?! Coming back to me pretending to be abstinent, I think I will postpone the ritual of breaking it once I reach office. Soon after I woke up, I started 'St Matthew's Passion' (this one is sung in English and indeed sounds unfit) and the wonderful sacred music is currently occupying my heart and soul. I have been told I am living in darkness, maybe this music will lighten it up. I better prepare to leave for work. Next, from froffice.

8:57am. In front of my work PC and posting this blog. Long wait is over. And I did not miss anything. The good part is for the last half of the waiting time, I wasn't even eager for this moment to arrive. Maybe I will this thing again ... but I surely will not bore you again.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28, 2010

Two good news! One just in, other today morning.

Brother got a surprise promotion - henceworth he will be called Senior Consultant. I think I should get used to seeing him in suit and tie doing even more late hours.

Bhavana was awared the BU CS Department Best Research Award (Grad Student). Frankly, I saw it coming once she informed me of the acceptance of her paper in STOC. But nevertheless ... WOW! (And she is also getting married during this summer, but this another story). On right, my prized possession.

Congrats to both of you. Proud to know you.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


From which the Hindi B&W gem Kohra was adapted.

Why do I have to watch such wonderful movies alone ?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

lost post

One day Comrade (oops) N. received the following email in his inbox. I had a plan of posting it here on my blog. Not sure what happened to the plan, but applying the rule of better late than never, I present to you now ... more "self chauvinism" (exaggerated).
... Even if it be not so, here are two movie recommendations, one short and other even shorter, for we are all hard pressed to succeed and supersede with little time for digressions that benefits us.

Both are available in youtube, so please accept my thanks to Google on behalf of the have-nots. If you have already watched any of these, I am shocked that you never told me about them!

One is Renoir's "The river" (not so sure about the article). This is a simple movie, yet very very complex if you choose to dive, it is about India (and as the auteur said "about India without tigers or elephants") yet it could be about any riverbank locality, it is about three silly girls' coming of age yet it could be about how human beings deal with expectation, loss and unwanted turns in life. But all the while I was watching it, I had one of my (not oft-noticed) pleasant smiling expression on my face - because the movie was just beautiful, simply beautiful ... it is hard to describe when something which is simple and beautiful. The emotion was far from realism, there was an attempt to tell a story; tell a story like one's mom or grandmom or some old person tells a story, pausing when needed, with utmost care to ensure the kid is enjoying the story and creating a sweet-loving caring atmos. It does not remain just the story or the person or the candies that are stacked on the side ... everything blends and you just have a wonderful time. When the story ends, well... it ends. The feeling stays for a while and even water tastes better for the next half hour. As you can imagine, this was clearly a director's movie - the editing was superb, the colours ... amazing and the movie never gave me a chance to notice how the players were acting. As long as the movie was in motion, I was concerned about the characters as I would do in a dream where I never even think of figuring out who is behind the mask.

The shorter one is "The great train robbery" (1903 version). It was a notable first, you can read up all of that. Its a 10 min movie, about <15 shots. Each shot is beautiful ... each shot is shot with a static camera (panning only in two shots) and every shot could be printed on a 11x14 canvas and it would make a fascinating photograph. The contrast and the composition is of the highest quality. The other
great thing about the movie is that it tells a very simple tale, for someone in 2009, yet at about 3 mins in the movie, which is when I thought of noticing the time, I felt that the movie has been going on for quite a while. People talk about compact, solid lectures; here is a compact solid movie. It is surprising that you could show so much without moving the camera, without sophisticated acting, without a
complicated storyline just by thoughtful direction. I had to see to believe it.

Written in June, 2009. Posted in 2010.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Congrats dear.

Feb 25, 2010.
Women Reservation bill was passed in the Upper House of the Indian parliament.
After 14 years.
Scuffles. Impropriety. Rowdiness. Scorns. Attacks.
Yet, the bill was tabled and passed.

The bad is not going to sleep well.

For once, I applaud the determination of the current ruling party, Indian National Congress. It is not UPA anymore.

Congratulations and wishing you all the best. All housewives and working women (of India). And Mom.

Who manage their work, (public and/or private) relations and finance better than many MBAs, MPs and Ministers.

Salut! Let's drink to a sensible future.

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's not me, it's YOU

Media hounds didn't miss any chance of reporting this piece of sensational news "Many women think rape victims are partly to blame, says new survey". As expected, it even got the glorious cover-page spot, thanks to the credibility of BBC News who reported the findings. Here is a link to the original report.

BBC Survey (Feb 15, 2010) :

The first impression this generates is a complete heresy against our individuality, our social identity. In the survey of 1000 people in London,
"More than half of those of both sexes questioned said there were some circumstances when a rape victim should accept responsibility for an attack."
Only careful examination of the survey, and reading between the lines, reveal the actually interesting facts. Taken in the right spirit, and boldly declaring the place and nature of the survey (including the kind of people surveyed), the conclusions may actually shed light on some facets of the surveyed society. But it is far from becoming a global truth. And that is why I demur.

First point to note is that the survey was done in a cosmopoliton city (London, but could have been New York across the ocean). Where the usual practice of one-night-dating ends with a "drink" at someone's house. And where bars are the defined place to "meet new people". Thus,
"One-third blamed victims who had dressed provocatively or gone back to the attacker's house for a drink."
Still yet, I am sure these same one-third would deplore wedding crashers arguing that open-gate does not automatically imply open-invitation.

With due acknowledgement to Stan Lee, let me quote "with liberty comes responsibility". There are many places who don't share the same liberatarian standards as the top "night-life" cities. Not only places in south Asia or Africa or remote islands but even some southern cities in the southern states of the USA. I believe there is an overdose of liberty all over the world. Overdoing anything, even charity, is suicidal
"Almost three quarters of the women who believed this said if a victim got into bed with the assailant before an attack they should accept some responsibility."

My next criticism against hidden meaning is in the context of
"When asked about their own experiences, more than a third of those polled said they had been in a situation where they could have been made to have sex against their will. Women are more likely to have been in this situation - 40% compared to 20%."
Take a deep breath, recount some of the violent, brutal rape stories from non-Western countries that sometimes come to limelight and appreciate the difference in the nature of "forced sex" across the planet. Not many capital cities cannot boast of a night when a women wouldn't be crazy to think
"Meanwhile, the survey suggested that many people are relaxed about their safety. Almost half of people have walked home via side streets on their own."

The deterrents against rape are more realistic in only a handful countries; here I am referring to the actual implementation of the law. But even so,
"The survey also found more than one in 10 people were unsure whether they would report being raped to the police, and 2% said they would definitely not do so. The main reasons were being too embarrassed or ashamed (55%), wanting to forget it had happened (41%) and not wanting to go to court (38%). "
We largely made the stigma associated with skin colour a history; I personally maintain thar no job, when done with sincerity and in the right spirit, is inferior to another just because of the title it carries; hereditary nobility carries negative sentiment in many circles. Why can't we do the same for rape and violence against women (or weak)? Look beyond what was imposed upon a person. Correlate actions with the actor. Only count the pennies I have earned for myself.

Rape is hard to prove, rape comes with a permanent stain on every involved person as soon as their names gets disclosed (including the victim). Often the victim stands to lose everything in her attempt to regain her dignity. I agree that getting drunk and having sex is not exactly abduction of modesty against free will and I feel a lot of the surveyees related rape to something like that. Definitely not many actual victims were part of the it (which is actually good, assuming the survey was done on randomly chosen women). And definitely not people who are aware of the kind of rape that plagues the less libertarian, more conservative societies of the world, where policing depends more on assumed moral standards than written words.

Cough-Aid Sleep-Aid

Having trouble falling asleep ?

Running to the local pharmacy may not be a viable option... its past shutter-time or the pharmacist isn't gonna hand you any sleep aids without prescription (which you obviously don't have) or maybe because the sweet lady at the pharmacy knows your entire family.

And this awesome idea strikes you. To take a heavy dose of the cough syrup in the cupboard. Benadryl, Vicks NyQuil are common ones. You might have something sphancy but most likely it will contain some amount of anti-histamine (unless of course the doctor was on your side while writing the prescription). Tell you what ... it actually works.

Just a note of caution. Giving full credit to your ingenious idea, midnights are not the time to adventure and experiment. Take a small dose if you are really serious. And don't repeat this often ... seek professional medical help. These over-the-counter drugs are notorious for habit forming. Also be cautious about the dosage; overdose of sleeping medicine often lead to fatal condition.

This is a public service announcement.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

For those sad clouds

Aren't clouds sad ? Not the white ones that giggle around the sun like bridesmaids. The real ones, the ones that shake you inside. Seldom with rejoice, but either with fear or with memories that you thought were history.

For those days which start with such clouds announcing the day, for those nights when the moon seems too bright, for those drops of rain which we yearn forever but never falls with enough speed, and for those walks which takes us backwards in memory, the is nothing like a soft, despairing tune humming in the background. A cheerful sonata would be as disturbing then as the bang of a metal crane crashing on a factory roof. Oops!

When I am feeling blue, I like to be alone and listen to music. Here is my personal bouquet of classical music brewing melancholy. (Links to Youtube videos).

Not really "classical" but this brings all my emotions out in front of me. One of the best. A violin piece by Nguyen Xanh Thao (some people claim it is from Final Fintasy X, though that has been debated). Everyone has their video before uploading to Youtube, so only bother about the music.

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Right named for a wonderful composition to create the longing for moonlight to light you up, from inside. Look for the first movement, and look for a slower tempo interpretation; it is supposed to be played in Adagio. The third movement is also very sweet, a little on the romantic side.

Chopin's Funeral March. Need say anything more ?

Barber's Adagio for Strings. One Youtube user commented:
"when you speak,dont make a sound,
when you cry,look around,
to empty spaces all around,
life is hard
so it seems
when you are so alone.........
but not in dreams"
I liked the interpretation by Bernstein.

Most of Chopin's Nocturnes. I have a whole box-set of them if you want to borrow. There are too many to list here. I personally do not find Beethoven matching with the gray-coloured clouds. he is too romantic to my ears; but your mileage may vary (try Beethoven's Appassionata).

There are more if you keep your ears open. If you have suggestions, please add them in the comments with links (only instrumental).

Good sources for classical music:
(1) Youtube, of course

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"... I'll you something ..."

I am sure the approaching Sunday (Feb 14) is a good enough context to talk about this song:
Oh yeah,
I'll tell you something
I think you'll understand.
When I'll say that something
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand ...
If you don't recognise this very popular Beatles song from 1963, move on. Nothing much for you here.

The Beatles version was written with the American market in mind (*) and undoubtedly best represents the mood of the young romantic crowd.

I was surprised, pleasantly, to hear the version Petula Clark recorded in 1965. She dressed up the peppy rock song in a ballad form and gave it her warmest voice and finest tune to make it the best fitting complementary version sung by a girl. There is a version in Youtube here.

(*) MacDonald, Ian (1998). Revolution in the Head. London: Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-6697-4)