Friday, July 31

Steinbeck mania

"It is true that we are weak and sick and ugly and quarrelsome but if that is all we ever were, we would millenniums ago have disappeared from the face of the earth"- John Steinbeck

I do not know why but I have this burning desire to read Steinbeck's Grapes of wrath or may be Of mice and men again, what can I say!

Thursday, July 30


कथा, नई और पुरानी -२
She landed in Delhi from a far away land as a naive confused little child. The first of day of school was terrifying- she had to fit in, she had to make friends, there was so much to do. She was just a little girl. All her worries faded the moment he met her, the moment he took her hand and showed her around the school. We would be together forever, she thought. Soon he was her best friend. They laughed together, ate together and much to the dismay of his mother, he would always spend time with her at her house. One day much to their chagrin, her mother announced that a move to a new place was in order (you know one of those government agencies that keep transferring their employees once every few years). She was heart-broken and furious. She could not feel anything any more, she felt like her world came crumbling down on her and now rested on her little shoulders. What would she do without him- her best friend? They won't be together forever afterall, she would muse to herself. She pleaded with her mother, teary-eyed, she would say- "ma, let us not move, let us just be here", "what about my friend?", "how can I live without him?", "माँ, क्या उसको भी ले जायेंगे अपने साथ?". She knew they had to go, that she would have to leave him and go- but she was just a little girl, she was not supposed to bear separations like these. Yes indeed-they did move to a new place, and after many such moves, she let go of him or at least she thought she did. She did not write to him, she did not talk to him- he was gone from her life. It did sadden her the first few years but it is amazing what time can do- she had grown into a beautiful young teenager and she now had other "best" friends in her life. I am sure somewhere deep in her heart, he was still present. Otherwise she would not have recognized him at the park, she would not have frozen in time- he approached her rather quickly, so quickly that she could not get a hold of herself, so quickly that she let out a gasp and tears started flowing down those cheeks bringing down all the make-up, the make-up that her best friends had taken so long to adorn her face with.

Wednesday, July 29

Miracles, do you say

She stood there alone in the meadow amidst the wild flowers that were in full bloom. She seemed pensive, the flowers did not cheer her as they normally do. "What should she do?"- that was the one question she kept asking herself. She loved them both dearly and wanted to be with both of them. But the time has finally come, the time to choose one and only one. How did it happen so quickly? The questions outnumbered any answers she could come up with. She has taken to the much trodden path of trading reality for something as exquisite as being in a meadow pregnant with colorful blooms. As though somehow being there would miraculously help her decide. The day went by and she simply stared. The day was drawing to a close, she had to head back home just as the birds were returning to their nests. She took one good look at the sun going down and gasped- she now knew exactly which one it was going to be...

Sunday, July 19

How can I forget about Potter movie

Yes yes....thanks to O & I at Harvard, a lot of us got to watch the movie even before it got released!!! Yippee....
I really liked the movie despite missing a few important and interesting things from the 6th book. Ron was quite funny, and as usual my favorite Hermoine did not disappoint me! I am so glad I saw it..and loved it too!!

Thursday, July 16

What about free speech?

So a leader (Rita Bhaguni of Congress) issued such a statement about rape compensation policy in Uttar Pradesh (the great Mayawati's government!)
"She said rape victims should offer to compensate state chief minister Mayawati were she ever raped herself."
Her house was burnt down apparently and she was arrested-
for what
"charged specifically with making provocative statements creating "disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will" between people of different castes or communities."
Oh my GOD!!!!! Are you kidding me- how did this take a casteist twist? Is there anything in India that will not boil down to caste (well when the irresponsible crooks called politicians can castify education, they can do anything?) I mean she said something (stupid or not), her house got burnt and she GETS arrested. What about the thing called freedom of speech or don't we have any of those any more in our land?
How are we ever going to get better as a nation if we pin everything to religion and caste?

PS I sincerely wish there would be some day when men and women forget the existence of religions and caste. May be we could mass-erase the 6 billion (and counting...) memories of religion on this earth...!

Tuesday, July 14

this is really absurd

This is a bit of totally unsupported theory (this is excessive even for me who does not question the existence of media conspiracies!). This was a rediff article/slideshow (slash whatever!)

"Why India is an ideal target for the Chinese

To offset this adverse scenario, while overtly pretending to side with the West, the Chinese covertly ordered their other proxy, North Korea, to test underground nuclear explosion and carry out trials of missiles that threaten Japan and South Korea."

While the comments seem nonsensical, no one seems to be bothered about this allegation about China covertly ordering N.Korea, I mean there is no basis for this piece of news Rediff article writer!!! Agreed there is a lot going on between the two countries for one China is the major food supplier to N.Korea but still if you are writing a piece of article for media that millions are going to read you should at least get your facts right or the very least- put a warning saying "not all that is written is true, some may be theories or hypotheses!"

Saturday, July 11

July 4th

July 4th was mostly a usual day except for two things- I did not have much work in the lab and we watched the fireworks from the roof terrace of a friend's apartment. That day I lost any hope at all of Boston getting warmer. It was freezing that night (pretty cold and windy!) Come on it is July, should we be sweltering around this time of the year.
Well that aside I do make hoo-hahs about fireworks, how many of those have I seen during Diwali!! But it was nice to get some good pictures which I did not take by the way- Ashok did!

Wednesday, July 8


This was on Nature medicine recent issue

Nature Medicine 15, 723 (2009)

Indian universities face misconduct allegations

Killugudi Jayaraman

A report by the Times of India newspaper alleging that admissions to medical school might have been sold for money at two private institutions has stirred controversy in India. The newspaper has said it caught officials on tape demanding as much as Rs 4 million ($80,000) for admission to medical degree programs without providing receipts.

In the wake of these allegations, the country's education ministry has ordered an official probe into the claims. The two institutions, Sri Ramachandra University and Sree Balaji Medical College, affiliated with Bharat University—both in the south Indian state of Tamilnadu—risk derecognition if found guilty, education ministry spokesperson Mamta Verma told Nature Medicine.

Dayanand Dongaonkar, secretary general of the Association of Indian Universities in New Delhi is waiting for the outcome of the probe, saying that "we will decide about what action to take on our members once the government investigation is over."

Ramachandra University's vice chancellor S. Rangaswami did not reply to request for comments. The university has an ongoing research alliance with Harvard University in the US.

"We have been in contact with the leadership of Sri Ramachandra University, with which we have a professional services agreement, and have expressed our wish to see the matter resolved in appropriate fashion," says Chris Railey, director of communications and marketing for Partners Harvard Medical International.

Balaji College, the newspaper found from the college's website, was chaired by S. Jagathrakshakan, a junior minister in the government.

But after the exposé his name reportedly disappeared from the website. Nature Medicine was unable to reach S. Jagathrakshakan for comment.

The admission scam has prompted the education ministry to review the functioning of 123 universities, including 55 medical colleges that obtained the 'deemed status' in last five years."

I do not believe that this is the first time SRMC has done this. Back in the time when I was applying for a medical seat I was also asked to pay a sum. Now I really hope (I think it would probably remain one because such institutions are capable of doing what it takes to keep their name and remember money matters!) that these colleges lose their recognition not because they did not give me a seat (duh...) but because good education should not be borne out of corruption. Cannot believe Harvard has tie-ups with such universities but then how would they know about the internal goings-on.

Saturday, July 4


So this Sunday was my friend's சீமந்தம். The family had gone to the temple early in the morning to finish up the rituals after which they came back home. The womenfolk then adorned my pregnant friend with bangles (her choice of color of course and we get a set of bangles for ourselves too...yippee!!) after which was the much awaited FOOD.. which was delicious by the way (it was a mixture of home-made and minerva-made food).
But there are few interesting things about the whole ritual that was performed at the wee hours of dawn in the temple. Check this out, although here they do not clearly explain the importance of certain processes. I also found this piece here

"Seemantham is performed during the period between the fifth and the eighth months of pregnancy. The specific materials used during this Samskara, that are for the lady only, are, the quill of a porcupine, an ear of ripe paddy and some Udumbara leaves. Manthrams are intended to purify the foetus and to request Brahma, Agni, Raga (Rika), Vishnu, Soman and Ganga to protect it, to make the delivery smooth and to make the son intelligent. The main deity invoked is Raga or Rika, the presiding deity of the full-moon. The implications of the manthrams are: that the pregnancy should be fruitful; the child should be endowed with sharp and penetrating intellect (like the sharp quill of the porcupine). The child should be beautiful like the full-moon. The gist of the main mantra is: "I beseech the goddess Raga(Rika). May she make this ceremony blameless. May my son be endowed with sharp intellect." In some regions music is added. Also sometimes the ladies are asked to sing: "Be a mother of heroic sons" thus creating a heroic atmosphere. The mother fasts and keeps silent after the ceremony till night time when the stars become visible. At the close of the ceremony she touches a male calf, symbolizing a son. At the time of
pregnancy this is performed for the health and wealth of baby and also for normal delivery.
The unique aspects are parting of the hair, udagasanti, homam, valaigappu, and touching a male calf. The most important part is the udagasAnti. After the sactification of the jalam, the expectant mother is asked to bath in this
sanctified water to remove doshAs."

The thing that annoyed me- the mantras all seem to glorify male heirs. I thought mantras and shlokas were beyond gender and I have a huge amount of respect for these (I love chanting mantras- gives me immense peace)- well it just went down a notch, unless the interpretations from these websites are wrong and may be a Sanskrit scholar can clarify it!

Thursday, July 2


Check this piece of news!
I guess it must sad for the Shah's descendants especially during history lessons- I mean come on, the guy has money and power and these people are left with all but a tea stall in Calcutta. Pretty tough!!