Wednesday, December 5

Thanksgiving at Smoky mountains

What better than spending the long weekend in a nice cabin house with a beautiful view of the mountains willing to reveal their fiery colors and a lake that is dried up. Hope it does not sound too bad coz it was certainly not bad- the house was amazing. although it probably would have been worthwhile to stay at such a place when you can actually enjoy the outdoors. Thanksgiving weekend was too cold for me. The mountains were beautiful- I felt sad seeing the remnants of summer (dried up plants which would have borne some wonderful wild flowers). As always with a big group there is always the issue of where to go and what to do, but there were a few of us who actually followed the herd. So fortunately I not contribute to the 1000h planning sessions!!!
So day 1
- a hike and then whatever was the plan, crse did not work that way, nature would have it otherwise.. Anyway, we did do the mistake of taking "the most" congested route through any Natl Park..a 11 mile scenic loop has never been so frustrating, at the end of it was a decent trail (Abrams falls, I think was the name). May be I would visit the great mountains in springtime to enjoy some wild flowers and some good hikes (was not keen on hikes- it was cold...and it had snowed about 16inches up at higher elevations). For all that chagrin we were rewarded with the appearance of hoofed-deer (for want of a better name), some wild turkeys and the star of the show- a black bear!!! yes yes..he stood unperturbed while we stared at him from a safe distance (we were in the car)
Day 2 The Indian settlement was nice and probably nicer if you were willing to lighten your wallet. It was funny coz there were people in the gang who came to Cherokee for some action and did not realize that it was just a settlement where tourists come, spend money and generate revenue for the natives (in fact main form of revenue comes from casinos a.k.a legal gambling). We did manage to get to the highest point of the mountains-clingman's dome Drive almost all the way and then a 0.5 mile hike (quite steep and very cold!) Pity we spent most time in the car because the cabin house where we stayed (Dandridge) was quite far from civilization. We did have our share of fun at the cabin with some "oh-I-would-never-watch-this-again" movies to party games.
The one thing I would have loved is a leisurely walk in Gatlinburg, a quaint little town/city, all decked up for the holidays.

So if you are planning to go to the mountains- Avoid the scenic loop if you can, and look around you never know who might pay you a visit!!!

Can I publish my own book, please?!!!

If Scott Adams can write and publish a book, so can you or rather so can I*. In any given day, there will be at least one author being interviewed on NPR. These people range from politicians and their wives to some random dude writing his memoirs. You listen to them and you go "what, who are these people" and more importantly, "who on earth will read their books" and "who on earth would want to publish them?". Dick Cheney's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, Barrack O'bama, and loads of others, I cannot remember all of them of course- I mean they are already all over the media, what more can there be to say. Although I am curious as to what the contents of these books might be I am sure I won't buy or borrow any...basically I won't read them!! I think it is a waste of time knowing what these liked-by-paparazzi have to say about their lives. Books are supposed to impart knowledge and what can I possibly gain from reading O'bama's life history or even worse- Jessica Simpson's book on dream weddings (now really....if she can write a book .....we all should, well probably she hired someone to write it for her...still!!!!)
Well...think about it, to me this trend of writing/ publishing a book as soon as you are remotely famous seems very American. If you consider writing a book, consider media publicity; could be any of these following- imprisonment, might help if you are a friend of Lindsay Lohan; a political career, you could get to give a piece of your mind to Bush Jr. or anything else innovative you can think of!
So I got to stop now...have a book to write people!!!

* If you aren't already a dilbert fan- go to dilbertblog.

Sunday, November 18

Dealing with "them"

Well dealing with parents is harder than I thought! Here is what I think- they are leading a what is seemingly static life and since we have undergone so many changes, it hard for both of us to come to a state of agreement! Somehow I am very different from them or so I think. When and how this dichotomy happened- but it seems to have, I am quite diffferent than they are. The problem though lies in the fact that they are oblivious to this- they do not see that I am different- for good or for bad , that is a different issue altogether now, isnt it? They think I am this 2 year old who requires constant attention and care. Anything that I do or say does not seem to do much, in fact it ends up in an argument. So I let them give me all the care and attention!!
Something that my mum asked me made me really think about this- she asked me something like "so you dont need me?" And I was taken aback, did not know how to answer- ofcourse I dont need her, why would I need her? I was not sure what to answer- if I said yes that would be a lie, if I said no she would feel bad!!!
So anyway, I am sure one day I will figure out how to tell them that I am an adult now and was for a long time and that they should slowly disengage from all that they do for me and start doing stuff for themselves...they have done more than what needs to be done and I am thankful for that. It is my turn now to make sure they do things that they might have put off because they were caring for me all these years!!!

Wednesday, September 5

Bihar se laloo!!!

Agreed- he is the man, he is the man who made profit out of the biggest government endeavours- the Indian railways (mind you not a lot of these goverment, I mean anywhere in the world, run organizations make profit..) I am mindful and appreciative of that facr but I still cannot tolerate it when he shows up on a TV show (yeah I watch SaReGaMaPa challenge on Zee).What I cannot tolerate much more than Laloo is the fact that we Indians can never give up being subservient. He is minister and a bad one at that...then why bother with things such as"Sir, I am fan of yours...aap yeh kaise karte ho, woh tho kamal kiya apne...apki blessings chahiye sir bas wohi kafi hai!!!!!!" Not just the contestants of the show, the judges and the spectators also had something or the other to admire about him. What can you admire in such a man- a very average person (I am being generous now!) who just happened to be a man of power. And most of all he was an hour late to the show during which we had to endure some pretty bad music.

PS Anyway this actually brings to what my next post will probably be- what is respect, when and who should it be given to? (Interestingly this was the topic of a lecture given today by Dayand Saraswati!)

Monday, September 3

Extremely loud and incredibly close- a book I am trying to read

So among all books I have read, I would say this book "Extremely loud and incredibly close" is the weirdest। A strange way of depicting the emotions and sentiments of a young boy who lost his father in the 9/11 attack. Oskar Schell is on an inspiring mission to all the five burroughs of Newyork (at least that is what the it says on the cover!) I cannot imagine how much time it took for this author to write a book such as this- what sort of thoughts and emotions did he have to go through before writing every page of this book.
Anyway I could not read it beyond about 100 pages (reading a book was never such a torment), so returned it to the library actually even before the due date (come on y'all that hardly happens!
The reason for me being persistent with "Extremely loud" was this other book- I went through an I-cannot-read-this was A.S.Byatt's "The Game". For about a year I would start the book , read it until a particular page (it was always around the same page quite surprisingly) and drop it...after about 3-4 trials...not only did I manage to finish it but infact I loved the book. Well, that did not happen with "Extremely loud".
So, if you have already read through this weird book...then I guess I would have to put you in the category of strange people with stranger tastes!
Happy reading!

Thursday, July 26

Have you read it?

Warning may contain spoilers!!!!

Well its Harry Potter time once again... I got the book on Saturday and finally managed to finish it yesterday (even though all of Sunday I could not lay hands on the book, busy cooking). The book was dragging in parts but there were times when I thought JK Rowling had really used her imagination. I did not like the big war like event outside Hogwarts but I did love the fact that Snape was indeed a "good man". So all is well that ends well, I guess (dont want to give too much away). What was the epilogue about- seemed like she generally had to add it to sort of give it an ending or something....can you imagine Harry's childern (hopefully there won't be books about them!)- was quite funny actually. If you read just the epilogue you would wonder as to why on earth did this book get so much popularity-certainly not the writing. The epilogue was very mediocre. On the whole it was alright. I must say the best reads were Goblet of Fire and Half Blood Prince. I am slightly sad that this is it for the Potter boy. SO go ahead give him a big farewell!!!

Tuesday, July 10

Mirror mirror on the wall....

For the first time in years, she stood in front of a dusty mirror hanging from the largest wall in her room- a beautiful victorian style mirror that has been horrendously underused. She had never, in years, paused for more than a few seconds in front of this long piece of glass..just to check if she looked personable enough. Today as she looked at herself, she realized how much time has whizzed by. She was fraught with a feeling of having aged all of a sudden..she was only 32, how could she look so old. Shiny grey hair and thin lines on her face gave her a shiver. How could this have happened- she had started using every anti-aging formula she could find in the market- she was very preemeptive. She was angry that her reflection was showing someone that was not her, someone that she was not comfortable with. She was in tears, but she did not understand as to why she felt so weak. She did not understand if it was just her countenance and looks that bothered her so much or was it something much more than that. After spending considerable time introspecting, she knew one thing- life was too short and there were just too many things that she wanted to do. She knew she had to take affirmative steps- not just to be happy but to make others happy. She had a smirk on her face. When she looked at herself in the mirror there was that same old sparkle in her eyes, yes something which everyone used to adore about her when she a child!! Boy, how could a mirror...

Tuesday, June 26

Am I an addict?

So its either a channel where chefs churn out yummy stuff in their fancy kitchens or a channel with formally clad men and women using hi-tech gadgets to solve crimes (past, present and infact future crimes can be solved-believe me!!!. Give me one of these- me and the couch will become one. I have begun to wonder-may be I am an addict- it is not however reached a point where (yet!) I get mentally agitated if I don't get my daily doses of one or both of the above mentioned "idiot box series". I do howevere once in a while imagine myself being in a forensic lab and solving some cool cases. I must say these shows somehow bring in a sense of grandeur-reality seems to be lost in it. I have resisted the monster for a long time until I came here- I guess weekdays especially after work, past time TV watching has turned into this rote.
Well as long as it does not become an addiction of sorts.....

Anyway folks...may more crimes be solved!!!!

PS boy there is a website for every darndest thing...I will not say kill the TV but the least we can do is make room for more activities.

Friday, June 22

I am still in grad school

Life was going on..until one day we decided to publish some of my/ our work. Then it began- the blots had to look prettier, images had to look sexier (guys guys.....unfortunately these are sexy images of cells and worms!!) and numbers needed to be tighter (who knows when you might come across one of those statisticians who might say "of course there is a 90% increase in the experimental sample compared to the control, but is the difference significant" and you, on the other hand give them the what- are- you -talking -about look). So this is what I have been doing- not all of it (I am just one of the authors!!) and I must admit it is harder than I thought. Especially when you have to make your figures, constantly imagining as to how they might look when they are compressed by these journals to say 40-50% of their original sizes!!! Thats quite a feat is'nt it? If you were ever wondering where I was or secretly hoping "Dear God-let it be true, let that blog be inactive forever and ever".....I am back (kinda!!).
PhD is hard man.....and to all of those of you who managed to get by without ever having to say "I can quit right now!"- may be you should go through a reality-check...

PS: I am not a great fan of statisticians, they can be quite twisty and hard to follow most of the times. Read this or this

Wednesday, April 25

Its her Birthday!!

"Its her Birthday today!!" my mother declared aloud. As I look up at her face I could see speckles of tears trying to fall out of her eyes and she was holding them back so much so that she would not blink. I wanted to put my arms around her and tell her that it was alright to cry. All I could do was whisper out a few mumbled words amongst which some might have been "yes, it is or yes it would be". Neetu, my only sister would have been a brilliant, beautiful 24 year old woman. On this day-on her birthday, I cannot help but think about all the times that we had together (well most of them were spent fighting..). Somehow what I thought was impossible did indeed happen- I actually learnt to live without her and as far as my parents are concerned- live for her and live like I have become one with her. I have emerged as a strong person while the strongest person I knew, my mom, has become decrepit! Even now ma talks of Neetu as though she still exists. After all Neetu was the darling of the family. Although I don't talk of her much, I still remember the last day- she was calm and composed, she had that dainty smile on her face, sort of saying goodbye to all of us.
Well if I were a little younger, I would have spent a few more years wishing for a miracle to bring back our "bulki darling", but I know better now (or at least not to hope for anything unimaginable). So I go straight to my mom, put my arms around her and all we could do was shed a few tears.

Friday, April 20

Earth day-this Sunday

Hi folks,

Its Earth day, this Sunday April 22nd. I knew it was sometime now so I was wondering what little steps I can take to celebrate being a part this wonderland called EARTH. I try to reduce, reuse and recycle when I can. It is quite a challenging thing to do specially because I live with roommates. When it comes to conserving energy of any sort- my roommates are what I would call "Prodigal"- may be a strong word but that is what they are. Caring about the environment is the last thing on their minds (and they might even actually give a reason "what can we do we are grad students?!!"). Why do some of us, at least try our best, to preserve what is left our Earth while there are others who don't even care!! (yeah that's what it is- grad students or not, where there is will there is a way) What is even more upsetting, is the fact that most of these people think big and dream big but unfortunately only about themselves- in fact I am tempted to call them all "selfish to an extent". But my personal opinion hard is it to turn those lights off when not in use, save water by closing the tap when washing dishes or brushing your teeth or well the reason that triggered this post- turn your heaters off when it is 68F outside!!!! This is not a post to let my anger out after seeing the heater the light on (well...may be not entirely), it is more so because I want folks visiting this blog to understand that caring for our planet Earth is as important as cleaning yourself up- after all it is first home!!! So get up and do something, anything (and don't lie to yourself that you conserve enough!!) It is time we started caring, all of us- grad students or not!!

Monday, April 16

Virginia tech massacre

I did not even get to read the news this whole day until I saw an email from Ashok- the subject line read "Vtech killings". I have been following the news closely through the evening and I cannot get the grip yet- why would someone do such a horrible thing? What is the difference between such people and terrorists like Osama Bin Laden? I feel helpless as I can only sympathize with all the students in Vtech and probably join millions of others who are praying for all those who have lost their lives and all those in the hospital to make it back !!! You have to really lose your heart and soul to commit such a heinous crime- no reason will justify this killing. I just hope at some point there would be an end to all this senseless murders and probably more stricter gun laws!!! Yet another incident that will stay in our minds forever.

Sunday, March 18

Life on the web?

"Oh I read it on the internet!" has become a norm of the day. Personally, I can take it only up to a certain point. I cannot quite get it when people tell "oh, I looked up that my red eye symptom on WebMD and was freaking out- may be it is that deadly infection that causes blindness" or "oh, I have stopped eating carrots because it is a root vegetable and is carbohydrate rich!" What ever happened to the good old doctors who pay a lot of money to earn their degree and to the balanced nutrition for a normal, active healthy person. I am not anti-internet and I do not claim "beware of the web-it will get you!". All I am saying is- take what ever you read on the web with a grain of salt. Not all of what you read may be right for you- you need to be able to assimilate all the information from the net and use it wisely. "Athikam kudithaal amruthammum nanju" (its an old tamil adage which essentially means- too much of anything cannot be good at all). I am not sure if it is worthwhile to change your lifestyle based on articles you read on the web. For example when it comes to food, there are these universally agreed bad food but surprisingly those can be cut down with effective choices that you make. But there are these others- always in the midst of controversies and you always wonder "should I eat/ drink it or not?". For those people I have one thing say- sooner or later there are going to be studies- "stop eating lest you shall die soon"- are you guys going to stop eating then?
About being our own docs- its a good thing to know your body in and out. If it does not behave, it might be because of a simple rhinovirus that you might have and not lung cancer!!
Make smart choices lest the web shall get you!!

Sunday, February 18

What do we Indians care about?

Now I must warn you- I might be completely wrong for I simply have not spoken to a million people before this post, therefore these are primarily what I think about "What exactly do we Indians care about?!"
In a broad sense, we do not care much about anything as long as we are not disturbed from our cozy cocoons. Even then there will only be a stir and then we all go back down there. As the middle class communities we are a huge part of the gazillion people nation. We could have and should have made a difference but doesn't seem to be the case does it. Politics, health, education, civic amenities, environment, child labour (that's right I need a "u" there!), casteism, corruption...I could go on and on about the issues that we need to care about, yet something is amiss. All we do ever do is complain and big time (of course there are people trying to make a difference, only it is not enough). When I landed here in the US the first thing that struck me was the fact that people here care deeply about issues pertinent to them. They exactly know where things stand say for e.g. when it comes to there local school boards. They are very much AWARE of it.
In a land of billion people, I guess not many have the time, space and right resources to make any difference or to even care- but that does not mean we can become indifferent! That's right, that's what we have become-INDIFFERENT. Amazingly enough the people at home seem to be content going abot their routine (whether they are happy and enjoy their lives is a different issue, for it is a hard sight to catch a smiling face at least in Madras and at least during peak traffic times- everyone has a frown!!)

Wednesday, February 14

Back from India trip and it is snow day today!!!

So I am back!! This time with my mother...

(I had so much to write about when I was back home but sadly now I cannot remember much at all)
Anyway it is a snow day today for us here is MD- not because of 3feet of snow accumulation but due to freezing rain and sleet that fell till this morning- you could hear the thump! It was amazing. It is my mum's first ever snow (first ever in her life!), so she had to pull me out also for a walk...

Tuesday, January 16

Each maid a heroine, each man a friend!

We were crazy. We were young. Silly was the new normal! You could do just about any silly thing and get away with it. We had friends- they meant something. You could never imagine a life without these friends- who were they, where did they come from, what did they do, were they 10 pointers...none of it mattered. There was a promise that was made in our minds, a promise to be together for as long as time exists, a promise never to part. Life was as beautiful as it can get.

Skipping classes and paying a visit to the IC (Insti Cafetaria) or Sky (pappu da chai!) was normal. Rambling about ShivG to look for "love birds" -a topic for dinner table gossip was also perfectly normal. Those quite moments at the Saraswati mandir or the rush to reserve seats for friends at our Sunday breakfast were normal too.

Riding all the way to C'not the day before exams for a delicious glass of bluemoon butterscotch milkshake or butter masala dosa from Annapurna was being trendy in its own way..None of what we ever did seemed like a "waste of time".

I guess this quote sums it all up
How beautiful is youth! how bright it gleams with its illusions, aspirations, dreams! Book of Beginnings, Story without End, Each maid a heroine, and each man a friend!
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Don't lose that child in you - that edgy, trendy, beautiful and strong youth in you!!

Vincent Van Gogh says- Its a pity that, as one gradually gains experiences, one loses one's youth.
Don't let that happen to you...

PS This is not the end of this post...its my favourite topic and you can surely expect more!

Sunday, January 14

Pongalo pongal

Pongal nalvazhthukkal makkale!!
Thai porantha vazhi porakkumnnu kavizhar kannadasan sollittu poyitarungo...(The month between Jan15th and Feb 15th is called thai madham and its that special month of harvest) Its an important festival to remind us all to thank the Mother Nature for all the food we get from her and also the farmers who strive hard to put that plate of food on our tables. Traditionally its a 3-day festival- with first day called bogi pandigai (old things pave way to newer things, so we burn old things early in the morning and announce that proudly by beating the drums "molam"). The second day - big day called pongal thirunal- a day to pray and offer our thanks to all the entities of Mother Nature. And of course the famous- mattu pongal or kaanum pongal.

Sunday, January 7

Do you still believe that global warming is a myth?

I am surprised that there are still people out there who say "global warming is a non-existent, inconsequential thing". The past 4 or 5 years that I have been here in the US, I have seen a steady increase in the temperatures during winter (the first year being the coldest). It was at 72C here in greenbelt on Saturday people!!!! This is January- where did all the 30s odd temperatures, with wind chills that could keep you at home forever, vanish? Oh what will happen to those wonderful bulbous plants that need at least a short period of freezing temperatures?! It is going to be really interesting to see whats in store for us as we get older.

Monday, January 1


Happy New Year people!
May this New year bring you all that you had ever wanted. Let us all make an effort to make this beautiful place a better place for us and every single living being on this planet..
So long 2006!!!