Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The issue of vegetarianism being an issue.

(this post has been long due. It is quite inspired by a nice POV discussed on quora (joey flores). In fact I have quoted him verbatim in some places. PG-R for explicit language.)

Why I am vegetarian (in no particular order) -
a) I have always been one all my life and I find it impossible to change my eating habits now. I am not even able to think of situations like "if I were a non-vegetarian", or "how does chicken-taste like" (even when I am writing this question, I am not able to think anything more about it. It is that psychological for me now)
b) I am Jain by religion and it is prohibited in my religion
c) It goes against my principles. You may argue vegetation is also life. I agree with it. But there is a higher order killing involved (the life of a 5-sensory organism + humungous number of microbes inside it and those that inhabit the carcass) to get a non-veg meal than a vegetarian meal (a single sense organism + microbes at the roots (but then, I don't eat roots for the same reason).
d) I am able to satisfy all my body needs (including tasty food and proteins) with vegetarian food, so I don't feel the need of converting to the other side at all, even when I am living abroad where vegetarian options are few. I am routinely able to kick ass of hard-core fit non-vegetarians in various sports activities. I don't need to mention that it is a scientifically proven fact that vegetarian diet is healthier than its counterpart.
e) If I have to eat meat, I wouldn't mind human meat. Don't be a hypocrite. Apparently it is the tastiest meat out there. You should also try dog meat (some tribals do). Yes, eat the meat of the animal that you pet.
f) The way meat is prepared is equivalent to pure murder. Just watch Food Inc. if you aren't convinced. Even then, there is no 'less painful' way of preparing meat- it is still murder.

Why I am justifying my choice?
Vegetarianism stirs debates. Long and seemingly unending ones. Why is that so controversial?
Most vegetarians out there choose vegetarianism because of (a), (b) or because they believe they are making a compassionate choice by avoiding animal products. When such a person tells you these reasons, it makes you feel that anyone not making that choice lacks compassion.

Many of my friends make fun of my eating choices when I am around. When I am not around, they eat meat without much thought at all. So, why do people who normally put very little thought about eating meat suddenly feel they have to proactively bring it to the forefront when I am there and make a controversy out of my choice?  They just go on and on about how delicious it is, even though they know that it's something that bothers me a lot.  After all, I call it murder.

The kind of lame arguments I get to hear almost every time this debate rages on-
meat- eater--> man has been after all a meat eater from the start. Hence I am a meat- eater. Is this where I kill that guy?
me--> for the record, he also ate fruits and vegetation, except he probably didn't know how to do agriculture for a long time. Furthermore, existence of tools which might have been used for hunting does not imply that the entirety of mankind were meat- eaters. More importantly, the fact that some prehistoric brainless git of an ancestor ate meat does not justify your meat eating. If it does, then you should also indulge in theft, cannibalism, murder, rape and such activities that some ancestor or the other definitely indulged in. Hypocritical bastard. All these activities have the same morality- violence.
meat- eater--> I don't get enough proteins
me--> pulses, milk, soy all are rich in proteins. Now I understand, you all are just 5th grade students who are mama's boys and don't want to eat good food. Not a single fuck will be given to you.
meat- eater--> It is a part of the natural food chain.
me--> So why do you care only about the food chain? Start caring about ecology, about the environment, about how man has been anything but a part of nature and been shit-raping it. There is always a choice. The meat you eat was never a part of food chain to begin with. They were artificially bred. In gigantic numbers.
meat- eater--> The animal has no other purpose in life. It must be happy to have let a being of higher intelligence survive on it.
me--> No one asked you to decide that. You are not God. Just because you breed them doesn't give you the right to kill them. Lets kill you and offer you as a human sacrifice to one of those farcical Gods you find everywhere. I bet you should be happy about it as you, a lower being is being offer to a higher being- whether you acknowledge it or not (did the animal acknowledge your beliefs?).

It becomes a controversy because at the end of the day, my choice infringes on their ability to do what they want without thinking about the consequences of their actions on other life forms. They see me asking the waiter to avoid animal products and they know that I think what they're doing is wrong.  They're not passionate about the topic, but they'll argue it as rabidly as I do.  It's not because their opinion is terribly important to them in general. They argue so forcefully because to lose the argument is to lack compassion and acknowledge the wrongness in creating suffering of others. So, they make a joke of the vegan lifestyle, most of the time not because they think it's silly, but because it has to be proven silly so that they will be seen as the 'good people with the right choices'.

Some quotes by some vegetarians and philosophers-

Bottom-line, I have no qualms if you are a meat-eater as long as you don't pester me or other vegetarians like me about my choice. For us it was the most natural choice. If you do, the jovial and superior nose on you will be ripped off and thrown to the gutters.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Animation.. you should be watching

  I have been watching anime since almost 3.5 years now. I remember the very first anime that I saw- DBZ- at the beginning of my second year in IITBombay. Technically speaking, Beyblade was the first anime I saw. It featured on Cartoon Network during Cartoon Network's heyday. Almost every kid in the school I knew watched the channel. I liked Beyblade then, because of the intensity displayed by every character. I didn't understand that until very recently. DBZ was something I wanted to see because I had seen Goku and his gang feature on the popular compass sets we got in the stationary shop near my home. I must say the first 100 episodes were gripping but soon it all became formulaic and boring and I started skipping through the anime since each fight took atleast 10 episodes to finish. This anime introduced the now cliche' concept of increasing strength of the heroes via training to fight increasingly stronger villains. Nonetheless, I somehow couldn't rest until I had completed watching the series. Every anime manages to keep the interest of the audience by finishing its episode on a cliffhanger. No exception. That's one of the reasons why anime are successful. It is like Ruffle's Lays- no one can watch just one (episode). Also the length of the episodes is generally 20 mins, which makes the series more entertaining when watched in one go.
          I have come a long way since my infant days in anime and I have watched more than 70 anime shows and read more than 25 manga. I cannot deny that anime, however childish it might be, has deeply influenced me. After DBZ, I didn't watch another anime till the end of my second year at IITB, for the fear of being disappointed again. I also wasn't doing well - I was utterly bored and was nearing clinical depression for I hated mechanical engineering- my undergrad department. I gradually lost motivation to study as the second year progressed. I found myself dangerously devoid of any motivation at all at the time of finals. I couldn't help it though. My room-mate happened to have a few episodes of 'Naruto'- a teenager's anime on a boy who is shunned by his village and made out to be a loser. A few episodes in I was completely hooked on (I know this is a cliche' statement made by most anime lovers found in anime reviews). I was somehow impressed by the boy's tenacity and intensity in whatever he did and that he had an unwavering will and goal. Something clicked inside of me and I knew...
I scored maximum CPI in those final exams, despite watching the anime during the exam. It was also then that I started making plans of making it to Stanford- to get rid of mechanical engineering from my life..
          That is only a part of how anime has influenced me. At this stage, I cannot mention all the anime I have seen and all the characters that I like, but here is a list of some anime I definitely recommend to anyone. I have #tagged keywords related to each entry to keep the descriptions generic and short. Most of them have the following in common: music score, intensity, plot, characters. So I won't mention those 4 unless any particular attribute is extraordinarily impressive for the anime under consideration. While it is really hard to rank the top 10 anime in any particular order, there is a definite order for the remaining. An anime show is as good as its characters + plot, roughly speaking. So it should not be surprising that my all time favorite characters stem from these anime. I have included the characters that I liked in each of the mentioned anime in paranthesis. Some of these characters are italicized because they have been included just for being bad-ass!

1) Full Metal Alchemist- #fun, emotional, bravery, family, issues, action {Elric Brothers, Roy Mustang, Riza Haweye}
2) Death Note- #intelligent, psychological, mindgames, morality, ethics, good vs evil, anti-hero, dark {Kira, L}
3) FLCL- #craziness that is growing up, coming of age, scifi, comedy, random ride {Haruko Haruhara}
4) Monster- #dark, mystery, psychological,  realism, horrors and sins of man, serial killer and chase, intense, can't miss even 1 second- plot {brilliant doctor Tenma, Johan Liebert}
5) Code Geass- #anti-hero, bravery, heroism, morality, logic, good vs evil, plot, responsibility {Lelouch, CC, Suzaku}
6) Clannad, Clannad After Story- #romance, family, hometown, coming of age, comedy, incredible drama, character growth, mature issues like depression, alcoholism, responsibility and tragedy, music score #grown up men have cried {Nagissa, Ushio, Tomoya}
7) Great Teacher Onizuka- #downright most comic thing I have ever seen, brilliant characters with dimensions {Kanzaki, Onizuka}
8) Cowboy Bebop- #style, attitude, drama, scifi,  amazing characters, music score {Faye Valentine, Spike Spiegel}
9) Neon Genesis Evangelion- #scifi, psychological, characters, music, the perfect anime {Rei Ayanam, Ikari Shinji}
10)  Gintama- # entire cast of characters, antics, dialogues, situational comedy at its best, attitude, breaking the 4th wall, outrageous{Gin, Kagura, Okita, Tsukuyo, Madao, Katsura, Hijikata}
11) Naruto- #dedication, intensity, amazing plot, dealing with issues like loneliness {Uchiha Itachi, Naruto, Minato}
12) Hikaru no Go- #intense, rivalry, friendship, historical, mindgames, coming of age, professional life {Touya Akira, Shindou Hikaru}
13) Katanagatari, Bakemonogatari- #dialogues and more dialogues, drama, intense, characters {Senjougahara, Togame}
14) Darker then Black- #scifi, plot, dark, mystery, psychological {Yin}
15) Nodame Cantabile- #music, coming of age, romance {Nodame}
16) Rurouni Kenshin- #romance, historic, sword fights, heroism {Kenshin Himura}
17) Toradora- #romace, sweet and bitter ending
18) Samurai Champloo- #historical, sword fights, plot, fun, animation quality {Mugen}
19) Gurren Lagan- #intense, coming of age, inspirational, spirited, sacrifice, responsibility {Simon}
20) Ergo Proxy- # scifi, dark, futuristic, music score, psychological {Pino}
21) Bleach- #attitude, action, sword fights, power-ups, mystery, supernatural {Ichimaru Gin, Urahara Kisuke}

Special Mentions: Elfen Lied, Blood+, Full Metal Panic, Black Lagoon

Current Anime I am watching: Lupin III- #pure fun, comedy, adventure, romance, robbery, chase {Fujiko Mine, Arsene Lupin, Zenigata, Goemon, Jigen}
There are still a handful good anime which I haven't seen yet, prime examples being Ghost In The Shell, Fruits Basket, Mushi-shi, Haruhi Suzumiya, etc... I don't want to finish off all the good anime, do I?

Not to mention, I haven't even started with anime- movies and Western animation... :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

A rush of blood to the head.

    Those pitch black irises captivated me. I had met them, not for the first time, when I was roaming about in the Himalayas, trekking with my friends. I was flicking through the photographs I had captured on my camera. That time, like all the times before, I had forgotten about them, until now when I saw my friend's (name concealed upon intimation) eyes boring into me again. I observed them for the first time.

    At the first glance they looked expectant of something. Some change in near future may be. Then the eyes swiveled in their sockets. I continued making my observations. It was then that it struck me that they were excited of something. Hence the expectant look, arising of the expectation of probably some overwhelming danger to pass on. But they also held the look of having already given up, having accepted defeat. I could not reconcile these seemingly contradictory feelings. 'Given up on what?' I thought..given up on obtaining a TV in the household? given up on getting his hands on the brand new Volkswagon Beetle? given up on some particular person, say a friend or relatives, or all of them in general? given up on the boredom that life entails or his life? The face to which those hopeless eyes belonged smirked dejectedly, as if knowing what I was thinking. But then, what is hope, especially to someone who has lost ambition? Or had he no ambition left?

   His family plunged into financial difficulties the year his father was born. It was after years of toiling that they broke even and started to save something. It was pure talent and hard work on his father's part. His father did not build a big empire as the Ambanis for he was already investing heavily in his child. He used to remark, 'Son, I cannot give you money, estate and worldly possessions. The only wealth I can give is knowledge'. It was very philosophical statement and my friend comprehended little. Well, so did his father until recently. But that's another matter altogt

    I will keep this short. As I was saying, my friend was brought up in a decent household that managed 2 meals a day. Despite that, he attended the best schools and colleges, same as me. We used to attend seminars and talks on science topics like, 'The Big Bang', 'The Universe', 'Archeology' which filled our young heads a passion for science. And history. We had a scientific attitude towards life and took pride in that. Hence this close friendship. He had decent grades, a decent college degree. He had gone for his Ms and had procured a decent job. He already lead a decent life, with the required amount of quarreling with as well as love for relatives and friends, with office members, and the world in general. The usual social life. He was moderately active in social circles, on social networks, and owned a Hyundai Santro. He would sure earn enough money to meet the needs of his next three generations. It was the good life ahead. Probably a bit ordinary- a life led by still a thousand men similar to him. It was mundane.

   Recently, he had started suffering from fits and had periods of 'absence', periods he could not account for having spent doing anything, as if day dreaming. It was as if a shadow crept over him. He suffered from acute depression, the doctors said. They prescribed him sleeping pills to cure him of a resurgent insomnia. He thought it was time for a change..He went on an Europe trip. They were exhilerating...the Alps..but only for a while. A few weeks after he came back, he suffered from another bout of depression..

It was night when I met him in my room, when I had first observed his eyes. I talked to him about his problem. I asked, "Have you lost interest in what you do?" "Maybe", he replied. 
    "Maybe? That's neither here not there. Answer me frankly, does your job interest you anymore? You have worked your ass off for whatever you have achieved."
    "You're right", he said finally after much contemplation and added, "But I need to change my job. It might do me some good after all" 
     And then his body suddenly stiffened, as if having a seizure, and looking straight into my eyes, he asked, "Have ever thought about what is the purpose of life? I mean, what is the point of achieving anything at all when it does not remain with us if we die? Do you think anyone dies with a satisfaction?"
    I was sure intrigued by this sudden turn of attitude. I replied, "Sure! For example if you have achieved everything you wanted, done everything for everyone close to you, been a good individual, lived a lawful life, you die a satisfied man!" 
   "Do not delude yourself!", he remarked with vehemence. "There is no satisfaction in dying. Death is an infinitely painful process. More painful than giving birth to a child or knocking off a tooth. Birth is similarly a frightfully painful process. Why would a newborn baby cry if it didnt feel the pain of birth, of squeezing through 400N of wall force? Similarly when your heart fails, it wreaks your muscles and inflicts you with thousand times the tooth pain. There is no meaning to the phrase 'dying peacefully in sleep'- it is peaceful to his relatives for they cannot bear to see him go or they want him to go quickly for whatever reasons! Death is always instantaneous, though it may occur after its cause. Imagine that all the pain of dying was to be experienced in a split second during sleep or even during a heart attack. You would practically get what we call the 'Dirac delta function!' Death in any manner inflict immeasurable pain. So tell me how can there be satisfaction in that? You may convince yourself by saying that you feel satisfied your whole life, but your brain would not be able to grasp an emotion like 'being satisfied' while coping with the labors of death!"
   I knew he was right, even if I didn't want to admit it. But then I wasn't one to back down. I retorted, "What drives a Nobel Laureate? Isn't it love for his subject? Does he not feel satisfied throughout, having always done what he loved? What drives and artist? The same thing! What about a corporate? The same thing!" I knew I had triumphed. My head was thumping badly.
   "Don't give me that crap", he replied smiling. "As Einstein once famously said: 'The important thing is to not stop questioning, curiosity has its own reason for existing'. Mark my words, a researcher feels satisfied with what he does but not with what he has done. He always has to explore more. But then, doesn't all knowledge already exist as a logical necessity and just that man doesn't possess it all? Isn't research a re-searchA scientist, a researcher, even a top level one like a Nobel Laureate loves his subject because he knows of no other way to satisfy his curiosity, at the same time he is never completely satisfied that he is curious enough to know everything! He craves for the total knowledge. In case of an artist, he craves for the masterpiece. For a corporate, it is the knowledge of future that he craves in order to earn more money. Where there is greed, it is greed for some kind of knowledge, and satisfaction cannot exist in totality." He paused looking for some visible signs of impact on my already numb mind, while I thought I understood what had been troubling him all along..Then he added, "In short, any occupation results due to greed for some kind of knowledge to meet selfish ends."
     "So, your proposition is that this life holds little satisfaction because of greed", I pressed on. "You believe that even a noble deed like serving God and doing good deeds holds no satisfaction?" He laughed like a madman. I was worried as to what this conversation was leading to..but at the same time I was intrigued to see this completely logical and devoid-of-emotion POV.
     He said, "Yes life as currently it is cannot give complete satisfaction.You are sick! First tell me how do you serve God? Secondly, serving your fellowmen, doing good deed for them, isn't that your idea of what God must be wanting. It is because you delude yourself in thinking that serving your fellowmen is serving God which should grant satisfaction, that you think you get satisfaction. If you knew what God wants, you would exactly know how to serve him. But again, isn't God the supreme being? Isn't he logically devoid of desire i.e. greed- one of the sins condemned in all religions? Then why would he have any 'wants' or requirements of us humans? Why is it necessary to give him 'bali'? May I ask who knows what kind of bali suffices? The fakir or the saffron saint? Is it written in the Geeta or any other holy book? NO! Then on what basis will the saints themselves suggest a bali? What hopeless objective is it to appease Him by offerings or by Puja or any such form of worship?"
    I tried to interrupt him, but he continued in the same ridiculous vein, "Next question is, what satisfaction is there in serving God, even if you knew how to do it? According to you, isn't satisfaction a product of a selfish deed? Otherwise Nobel Laureates wouldn't exist by the same logic!" It was like being lectured. And humiliation. But I knew something was wrong with the logic of this world and he seemed to be on the right path. "So there has to be some selfish gains from serving God"
   I had found a logical flaw in his argument at last. I said condescendingly, "But isn't obtaining satisfaction a selfish gain?" Period. My head was now pounding after taking all his blasphemy.
   He had a weird look in his eyes. "You know, I had hoped that at least you of all the lot would finally understand me. Only if you can find the fallacy in your reasoning that you will redeem yourself in my eyes", he challenged. And I immediately knew what was wrong. It was like arguing 'serving God is a selfish deed, hence it gives satisfaction, and because it gives satisfaction, it must be a selfish deed'. It was circular logic and thus, flawed per se. I apologized reluctantly and asked him to continue, hoping that at some point he would be wrong with his logic, after all don't all great debates of mankind end on singular and subtle points that turn up only at the end, when the 'bigger picture' is revealed?
  I said, "Fine, I will let go of the usual image of God all religions prescribe. Let us define a God that does not fit with any of the religions". He was smiling, as if happy that his erring child had finally realized his mistake. He had managed to make a dent in my convictions. But I was getting tired, considering the severe headache. He took no notice of it and said, "do you know all religions in the world? do you know what God(s) each of them prescribe? Have you even taken pains to research them all?" It was a series of rebukes.
   I asked him, "But do you?" To my utter surprise, "Yes" he replied. "Infact I did not require to research them all. I eliminated most of them on the basis of logic I described above. And I have arrived at one scary yet exciting Truth that I won't yet describe to you. First I must make you understand why that Truth must exist as a logical necessity- as a tautology arising out of agreeable axioms, and not due to some stupid, corruptible human beliefs. You must have faith in the axioms, and then you will have faith in God"
  "Go on", I said. "But make it quick."
   "This is a quote from a man famous in his secret circles:

Some foolish men declare that God or the Creator made the world. The doctrine that the world was created is ill-advised, and should be rejected. If god created the world, where was he before creation? If you say he was transcendent then, and needed no support, where is he now? No single being had the skill to make the world - for how can an immaterial god create that which is material? How could god have made the world without any raw material? If you say he made this first, and then the world, you are face with an endless regression. If you declare that the raw material arose naturally you fall into another fallacy, for the whole universe might thus have been its own creator, and have risen equally naturally. If god created the world by an act of will, without any raw material, then it is just his will made nothing else and who will believe this silly stuff? If he is ever perfect, and complete, how could the will to create have arisen in him? If, on the other hand, he is not perfect, he could no more create the universe than a potter could. If he is formless, actionless, and all-embracing, how could he have created the world? Such a soul, devoid of all modality, would have no desire to create anything. If you say that he created to no purpose, because it was his nature to do so then god is pointless. If he created in some kind of sport, it was the sport of a foolish child, leading to trouble. If he created out of love for living things and need of them he made the world; why did he not make creation wholly blissful, free from misfortune? Thus the doctrine that the world was created by god makes no sense at all.

  Hence there is no necessity for such a God to exist, for even if He existed, He would not be perceived, and all the more reason to not worship him."
  I asked, " But can't Big Bang be viewed as an act of God, since matter seemingly got created out of nothingness or singularity?" He replied, "Big Bang is just a hypothesis, it has never been verified. There is as much evidence for it as against it. It may well turn out to be a pursuit of fools. There have been several theories suggested in place of Bing Bang. A well established thoery is the Hoyle-Naralikar theory of cosmology that says that the universe has no beginning and no end! Also, do you think the science of today is in the most advanced state? There has been ample evidence showing that our ancestors had diverse knowledge regarding various subjects like mathematics, chemistry, biology, one of the examples being the mummification process. Probably they had more knowledge than us than not, except that they perished and only fools remained?"
  "So what's your point?", I asked exasperatedly.
"Patience is a great virtue", he replied toying with me. "Do you finally accept that this life in its current known capabilities is insufficient of providing complete satisfaction?
"Do you accept that complete satisfaction and complete happiness or bliss are two sides of the same coin?"
It was a trick question. But it made everything clear. 
"Do you think Nobel Laureates, to use your own example, will feel completely satisfied if they discovered complete knowledge? Or even Grand Unification Theorists pursuing the goal to unify all theories of material interaction will feel complete happiness for possessing complete knowledge?"
It was easy."Yes."
"Don't you think that all the science that we currently know deals with object (physical object/abstract mathematical objects like groups or man made non-physical entities like economic instruments like bonds etc) interaction theories and there is no way of gaining knowledge other than that regarding object interactions?"
"Don't you think there might be knowledge, or at least a single yet unknown fact to be gained other than those regarding object interactions, just like there might be a 4th Dimension?"
"Yes, it's plausible to say the least."
"Do you think a rational, logical person like a Nobel Laureate would feel satisfied if he is asked the above question?"
He was converging onto the finale. "Yes, I believe". I noticed my heart was beating faster.
"Do you believe someone died a satisfied man?"
So that was the root of everything.
If someone did, then he must have possessed all the knowledge in and of the world.
"It is quite possible, even if I or most of mankind doesn't know of it", I replied. Or facts may have been distorted or mixed with fictitious facts to protect other religions, I thought. I had had enough.
And then he said very slowly and clearly, "That must have been GOD".
He knew too much and had to be silenced.
I whipped out my 9mm and shot at him point blank. And as he fell down, I saw his satisfied smile.

P.S. The author is tolerant to other beliefs, but he is under no compulsion to deem them worthy. It is not mentioned that the author's beliefs and those mentioned in the short story are the same.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Survival basics

The month of December is a really long month, specially because it's vacation time. For us IITians, its a 31-day vacation. And this one has been a really taxing one..to the last day. Made me think that one should have a manual on survival basics for such long stretches of holidays. Taking the cue, here is a list of few must-haves if one must survive the long and dreary days (even though its winter time)-
1)Laptop with working battery.
2)Wireless broadband (atleast at home)
3)Sweater (it's winter, what were you thinking)
4)Camera kit (winter photography is much cooler than summer photography)
5)A pair of shoes/chappals
6)Photoshop CS2+/ any Image-editing software
8)Social Networking presence
9)Some hill nearby
10)Mode of transport

With all the above, I started on my Activa for the 'Hanuman' tekdi (also called Law College Hill) near Fergusson College (hence, also called Fergusson College Hill). My climb initiated from BMCC college, though it was not much of a climb for a regular (4-5 times a year) Singhagad climber. Along the way I came across different flowers which i had never seen before. I wondered they were still in bloom during the winter time.
I am not much of  a florist nor knowledgeable in wild flowers, so you will have to do without an ID. But who cares? The scene was nice.
I know this one- it's called bougainvillea. You can see the BMCC ground in the background.
After lounging about at the foothills, I started on the 5 minute climb to the summit (lol, pardon my use of such jargon). The air was becoming thinner (sorry for the exaggeration) and a cool breeze had started blowing. I don't usually follow what I preach- I had forgotten to put on my sweater. So I had to complete this trek in time, before the wind really picked up. After laboring for 5 mins, I reached at the top and was greeted by this awesome view-
The trained eye can notice the silhouette of Singhagad. Why I like to climb this joke of a hill is because it gives a lot to explore at the 'top'. From the top, one can virtually see the whole of Pune from Pashan to Pimpri to Khadki, Ganeshkhind, Aundh, Koregaon park, Lohegaon, Camp, Deccan, Kothrud and other outskirts. A rough, stony, weathered path continues towards Symbiosis college and Law College road towards the west from the top. After walking a few hundred metres, one comes across a Chinese Temple-like structure which octogenarians use for their exclusive laugh clubs.
The sun was peering through the branches and structure by the time I reached there, signalling that the sunset was due. A single glance dispelled my doubts of what attracts the old population of Pune to that bare structure. With the sun saying its last good-byes, the moon suddenly struck a nice pose in the sky. Being the day before the 'Blue Moon', it looked almost full to the naked eye. I couldn't resist to take this pic while coming down.
I knew I had my fill for the day and started descending. At the foothills, I found this flower which remained true to the season

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Suzuki Kizashi ("Prelude") and Bryan Adams

Darn, I love this car

Why was Bryan Adams advised parental guidance for "Ninja Assassin"?
>> It's because Bryan Adams sang "18 till I die"

a year of controversies

If this year belongs to anybody, it has to be the politicians..not just Indian, but world policitians... The 3 C's that rule India- Cricket, Cinema, Crime. The politicians are a subset of 'Crime'. Who doesn't know they don't indulge in criminal activities? But we all love them, don't we? So much that of the three headlines on the tabloid-ish TOI's web page, one is on politics, one is exclusively on crime and the other is on cinema or cricket. It's really easy to print a news paper if you stick to the above basics. Add in a bit of glamor quotient and some editorials a little bit of business world and BANG- you have your own newspaper. So here are few snippets of their 'parakrama' (believe me, its nothing short of it)-

1) Wanna a Nobel Prize? Become the next U.S President!
Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore (well he was at first awarded Presidency in one of the most controversial elections), and now Barack Obama. What left me most intrigued was that each of these awards were hotly debated. Grounds on which Obama was awarded- _____________
I was stumped and so was Obama.

2) Tiger Woods really brought up his 'X-factor' by having had as many mistresses as number of Golf majors he has won. Not to be left behind, India produced its own high level scandal, the center of which was ND Tiwari. This is what we call as beating Tiger in his backyards.

3) The number three spot goes to Mrs President- Pratibha Patil. Forgetting to salute to the Indian at a ceremonial reception for her in Mexico, having conversations with spirits of the dead,  insulting remarks on Indian culture and tradition,  and regular, expensive, state sponsored holiday trips with more than a dozen family members. At a holiday trip in the Andaman Islands more than 400 trees were chopped to make way for a helipad for the President's chopper and another 60 trees were felled as they would block the President's view of the beach. If you do not believe me, check wiki.

4)JMM chief Soren. This guy has been proven guilty in so many murders- and has escaped capital punishment by means accessible only to politicians. Now he has been sworn in as Jharkhand PM for a second term. Shows the level of Jharkhand's degradation. Makes me think Mumbai is better of w/o immigrants from those states.

5)Jai Maharashtra- Raj from MNS. 

6)CP15- Copenhagen. With the 170 odd countries not reaching any conclusion at the end of the summit (how can you expect 170 individuals to?) , it was necessary to put forward a general proposition agreeable to all so that it becomes a step forward rather than dissolving the talks for good (or bad) and taking two steps backwards. Taking the cue, our dear Obama stormed into the behind the doors meeting being held by BASIC countries- China, India, Brazil, SouthAfrica ....
"Oh, you are all here. I had some things to discuss with all of you so it’s good that you are together in the same room,” US President Barack Obama said as he strode into the room

7)Bal Thakarey on Sachin, "There was no need for him to take a cheeky single by making such remarks,By making these remarks, you have got run-out on the pitch of Marathi psyche. You were not even born when the 'Marathi Manoos' got Mumbai and 105 Marathi people sacrificed their lives to get Mumbai. He left the crease and moved to the pitch of politics by making these remarks which have hurt Marathi sentiment"

8)This one's really hilarious. I came back home from Insti (IIT-B lingo) in time for my sister's birthday. The first thing that I get to see lying on my desk is-

Monday, December 28, 2009

Website management and Fourthie Lukkha tips

Being bored of applications to Univs, I was not surprised to find all kinds of swear words going through my head (I was at home and couldn't speak them out aloud, could I?). After some surfing through my own ThinkPad's contents to find something else to do, I chanced upon my own website material and got hooked onto one of my favorite pass-times- web designing. I decided to revamp my troll, ancient website into a slick one- one fit for applying to universities. The problem however lay not in designing, but in uploading the modified pages onto a server protected by the IIT firewall.
        One way around the problem was to mail a zipped folder containing all 'to-update' contents to a friend and tell him the username and password to my account on the server where the pages are to be uploaded. It involved  putting my pleading skills to use and a lot of half-hearted effort from my friend's part. Well one cannot blame him if for this simple job he had to download and install a brand new FTP client, create my profile and upload it. It takes 5 complete minutes to do that. Being December time, one cannot expect anyone inside IIT, already consumed by home-sickness caused by extended stay thanks to December placements, to be in a mood to do any favors. So I took upon myself to infiltrate the firewall or rather what I did was circumvent it.
        Thanks to another lukkha friend- Varun's advice, I came upon an esoteric piece of knowledge. There is a way to infiltrate IIT internet. Inside IIT, two depts- CSE and EE have kept 2 of their ports (ssh and telnet) receptive just for this purpose. I cursed myself for being in ME, and started out on this new found hope. On ssh-ing into the dept server, I logged into his account and accessed my dept web server. Now I could download my own files into the local directory- Varun's account and edit them at will on the terminal. But fate had more shenanigans planned for me.
        The thing about websites is that just the written content of a page is not what one wishes to update. To improve the look of a page, one has to link images and other visually pleasing elements in the html code. So I had to find a way to upload image files from my ThinkPad to Varun's account. Everything seemed to be on song that day as I immediately found a solution. There exists a virtually unknown terminal-based mail client called 'mutt', with the exceptions of total linux geeks, that allows you to access emails like Outlook and Thunderbird but at a very economical price- it eats only 0.6Mb of the memory. Pronouncing 'mutt' the Marathi way gives it a new perspective! As luck would have it, mutt was already installed for all accounts by the generous soul of EE's system administrator. All I had to do now was to learn to configure mutt.
        They say the 'man' command is the best tutor, better than any book on a linux software. Believing in that age-old linux-adage, I typed in 'man mutt'. After scrolling down a few lines of almost gibberish, I came upon this-

I could not help but smile inwardly at first, then smile broadly and then burst out laughing.
Here is a nice tutorial on how to do it- LinuxJournal. I gave up on the idea of configuring mutt shortly afterwards as I had run out of fuel and my mom was virtually begging me to eat my dinner.
          The next day, I started exploring this much talked about page-ranking business. Google is smart because it 'ranks' higher the sites which are popular. Hence these sites show in the first few pages of google search. This ranking is based on their own unique page-ranking algorithm. This algorithm is far too complicated as the details would fit a book. So I will just bring out the important points...Every site has a page-rank associated with it. Initially all sites have rank 0. The ranking is based on how many 'back-links' are available to the site. There may be many other sites that are linked from the site under consideration, but back-links are those which link TO that site from other sites. The number of these back-links and their respective own page-ranks decide the page-rank of the page. Things can get really complicated and thus there are the 'SEO' (Search Engine Optimization) companies that provide advice on how to increase your page rank. Those who are really interested in how page-ranking works may look this up. Based on this advice, I provided the link to my website where-ever my public account was active- facebook, orkut, flickr, linked-In, Twitter...I also included the google-analytics javascript code in the source html to track my website. There are many free 'counters' available that also track down the number of hits on the website and their locations, like clustermaps. I used flagcounter along with google-analytics. The real reason behind that was it gave me in situ information on the web traffic from different geographies on my page...which looks cool. To cap off the day, I came across a joke-
Amitabh Bacchan to Shashi Kapoor: Mere paas paisa hain, bangla hain, gadi hain, naukar hain..tumhare paas kya hain, oin?
SK to AB: Mere paas Maa hain..for a while AB looks stumped, then-
Amitabh Bacchan says:Fooled you..mere pass Paa hain..ab bol.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Men are born with autofocus.

        Many of us have experienced defining moments in our lives..not unlike the stereotypical 'Aha' or the 'Eureka' moments, but not exactly the same either. These moments get etched into the memory and are the ones that we count at the end of the life- duh. Most of us are also lazy to think them over, leave alone writing them down. I am going to become one of the exceptions now precisely because I have nothing else to do.. with more time to spend than I want, I cannot be blamed for this. Story goes something like this..
        I am the simple, naive, straight, quiet, shy, enthusiastic young lad with deep interest in painting, sketching, music out of love for creativity and nothing else. You need to remember that. The iitian in me had always wanted to study those subjects from academic point of view. After 3 yrs of unconscious brainwashing, I have been instilled with these attitudes, though whether they are for the good is another matter altogether. The opportunity came knocking on the door when we were given the much valued freedom of choice (believe me, it becomes far too relevant when it comes to choosing subjects) for humanities and social sciences electives. Me and my flying friend KP aka Kalyat Panauli (come again, kaunsi panauti?) Ashwin Krishna (sigh). These South-Indian guys have fetishes for long names but this guy has an equally long life-story to go along with his name. The great Jean-Paul Sartre (may his existentialist soul rest in peace) once said, men are 'doomed' to be free. Likewise, South-Indians are doomed to have long names. But I won't digress more and will come straight to the point. We were paying one of our regular visits to one of the Professor's classes, mind you, out of no intention to learn but due to lack of anything better to do like most IITians find themselves doing early in the morning (~9:30 am).
        At this point of time, I would like to point out the reason behind my peculiar choice of words "paying a visit", the reason being that this class was like no other class. Here, one could have a breakfast at the KRESIT-canteen on the ground floor and announce the entry into the auditorium at 10:00am like nothing was wrong with it. The sun would still rise in the east and we were still the kings of our own worlds. The Professor always overlooked this, or rather chose to overlook. The topic of discussion was paintings of the Modern era as indicated by the highly polished presentation going on. Now the queer thing about that Professor was that he has the habit of making questionable/ obscene gestures with his hands which actually and fortunately go with the explaining act. While this was first noticed by KP on account of his highly receptive sensors and filters to this kind of info (come on now,  remember I am the simple, naive guy), almost every male in the class knew of the Professor's antics by the end of the class. None of the girls had a wind of it. Coming to the male to female ratio, I would say this class enjoyed a much better ratio (5:1) than most of us IITians would ever dream of, and the females of this class were also much more progressive (yay). So we guys would fight to stop the gales of laughter whenever the Professor would submerge himself into the explaining act. Men are certainly born with autofocus.
        I must make my statement before any rogue feminist out there comes and cuts my throat and shuts me up for good before I can protest on the basis of the cherished freedom of expression. Remember ever being at a bus stop crowded with men and only one woman? I know you won't remember that. You wouldn't notice the men but only the woman! That is what I mean by autofocus. We are born with it. The situation is same with every animal species. Take the example of the peacock. It has to flaunt its feathers to attract the attention of the peahen who is always the center of attention. Ah, back to THE incident, we were still clutching our stomachs in silent laughter while the Professor and the girls looked unruffled. My sympathies with the poor guy giving the presentation. The old man had stolen his show. But the best is yet to come. The presentation guy was flicking through the slides due to lack of time thanks to the Professor's overly expansive explanations. We were trying to follow the slides as much as possible and STOP spake the Professor.
Professor: Go a slide back.
Presentation guy:..
Professor: Now this is the picture of two nude women and.....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The First One

For math geeks:
What's purple and commutes?
An Abelian grape!

Smelly Cat
Wanted Dead or Alive: Shroedinger's Cat!!

Sachin Tendulkar
Commit all your crimes when Sachin is batting because even God's watching.

Taare Zameen Par( with all due respect)
a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac once lay awake all night wondering about the "Existence of Dog"!!

For metallurgy junta
Metallurgists are not hard working, they are work hardened

The shortest mathematical joke:
Let epsilon be smaller than zero

Honesty is the best policy,but insanity is the best defense

A chemist walked into the store and asked the pharmacist :do you have acetylsalicylic acid?
You mean aspirin?" asked the pharmacist.
"That's it, I can never remember that word."

If Neo were a mathematician
He could have as well inverted the matrix and premultiplied it with itself to obtain his identity.

A (narrating an incident about a girl to his friend B):Ya there's this friend of mine-B:ooooh
A: arre its not that! She's a friend of my sister
B:Ya right, and by transitivity....

IITian's Law of the Uncertainty:
Beauty*Brains < C Special to General Relativity:
Albert Einstein once thought that if he drove a car faster, he would age slower and hence live a longer life.He met with an accident.