Mera Bharath Mahan

A hearty 66th birthday greeting to Mera Bharath Mahan! While we celebrate our independence and the great people who help us attain and remain free, I suspect my patriotism is leaking off. I still get Goosebumps listening to Vande mataram but lately I am considering patriotism more like a religion and even drawing parallels with racism. Still I am not over my patriotic feelings towards India and I take this moment to recall the top 5 patriotic actions from my life.

1. Learning the national anthem and the national pledge was one of my foremost patriotic acts. I can still recite the anthem and the pledge without referring. Try to recite the national pledge without help!

2. Religiously following “The Sword of Tipu Sultan” in Doordarshan.

3. Watching the final of 2003 cricket world cup despite having an exam the next day.

4. Regularly reading the newspaper during the Kargil war.

5. Last but not the least, watching Roja over and over again in DD. I still remember the hair on my hand standing in attention when Aravind Swamy rolls on the burning tricolor flag.

PS: Samuel Johnson once said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”

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Yoga or chemo

Last year, for the humble ambitions of twisting my body into shapes that resembles Matlab plots, I joined for yoga. I finished 3 basic levels and 2 intermediate levels and it was time for me to decide if I should join the group as a volunteer. The yoga center works with the support of volunteers and they teach it for free. For selfish reasons (mostly) of learning more postures I decided to join as a volunteer. Even though the yoga group says that they don’t promote any religious ideas, talks on chakras, spiritual enlightenment and higher levels of consciences pops up every now and then. The sad part is that the instructor does not even consider this as a promotion of Hinduism (deluded by the age old spiritual but not religious fallacy). Even then, the spiritual aspects are not pushed down to anyone’s throat and are preached only by some instructors and in moderation. After a series of serious thoughts (flipping a coin) last Monday, I joined the basic course as an instructor trainee and I had one of the best experiences.

When I reached the class I was received by another volunteer named Edward. I have seen him before but never had a chance to talk with him. He is practicing yoga for quite some time and is excellent in his postures. I introduced myself to him and started talking about different postures and techniques to improve certain postures. Sharp at 7 pm, the class started and the main instructor, Mr. Krishnaprasad , started his lecture about Yoga, its traditions, benefits etc. While explaining the benefits of regular practice, he mentioned casually that there are reports of cancer getting cured through yoga! To quote him, he said, “but it is very rare (that cancer get cured through Yoga). One has to be very dedicated and should be following strict yoga principles and diet to attain such levels of skills.” A smile of disbelief and shock spread through my face and then Edward whispered into my ears, “Krishnaprasad should not have said that. You cannot cure cancer through Yoga”. I was relieved to hear that and was about to console myself that most of the instructors are still on their senses (the first five, I mean) , when he said, “It is the divinity and goodness he possess that repelled the evil cancer cells out of his body!”

PS: Inhale, Exhale, hold for 10 minutes. There, that is the short guide to Samadhi.

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A letter to remember

I was not so active in blogging for quite some time and the popular rumor that it is because I have got a life now, is completely false. I am as lifeless as always.  For people who have read my earlier blog posts would know how difficult it was for me to deal with girls in high school. It was similar to Raj from The Big Bang Theory. My first break through with a girl happened just after tenth standard. I received a letter from one of my classmates after tenth. I was not really surprised; I always believed in the power of silence!

Soon after the Board exam results I received a letter from Afsna Moosa. The content of the letter was simple; congratulating me on the results and attaching her mailing address and an offer to continue as pen friends (e-mails were an expensive way of communication those days). And I went, “Oh she has a crush on me!” The letter (crush!) made sense as Afsna was also a quiet girl and she never talked to guys (or never had the nerve to). So, it was natural that she found me interesting (like poles attract or something like that). Of course, I preferred a letter from Ziuna but a bird in hand is worthier than a better bird in the bush! (Ziuna is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen and she was my classmate)

My life became hell when my dad and brother found out about the letter. They made fun of me referring Afsna as my girlfriend. She was a fat girl with big glasses and I did not want her to be called as my girlfriend. And to show that the letter means nothing to me I threw it in the garbage! (ya ya..  i was an asshole).  The next two years, 11th and 12th, were too hectic and I never thought of Afsna (there were Preethy, Lakshmi and Nalini to think about).

Years later, during my second year B-Tech days, randomly one day in Mens Hostel, we started sharing our experiences in the domain of “Love”. There were experts with first HAND experiences with schoolmates, aunties and maids who made the hair in our hands stand up and dance like Hrithik Roshan. Then there were the prophets of true love who were still crying about the lost love from fourth standard. But most of the guys were pathetic, who only had left hand experiences to share. The conversations somehow reminded me about the letter of Afsna and I decided to get in touch with her.

I tried everything for the next couple of months to get some contact of Afsna Moosa. But nobody knew her details. She was not in Orkut (it is an ancient social networking technology which was used mostly by Indians and Brazilians), none of my schoolmates knew her number and the original copy of the letter was destroyed. The motivating factor was the feeling that there exists a girl who has a crush on me. I was sure that I wouldn’t reciprocate with the same feelings but what is wrong in talking (cough cough.. flirting).

Centuries passed and couple of months back I saw Afsna Moosa in the suggested friends list of Facebook! I immediately friend-ed her and noticed that she was married. I was excited to find her online and she accepted the friend request immediately. We chatted for 30-40 minutes and there were lots of catching up. I was expecting her to ask about the letter and why didn’t I reply. But it seemed like she has completely forgotten about it. After around 30 minutes I decided to bring up the topic myself by saying that I lost her letter while shifting and lost the address. And she replied, “Which letter?” I was stunned. I reminded her about the letter and she said, “Oh, I sent letters to everyone in the class and none of them replied.” That was it. The girl whom I thought had a crush on me crushed the 10 year old myth out of me! Life is unfair!

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I am Christian, no, I am Christ!

I believe that there is God! Manu Joseph had written an application to Vatican for the post of Pope in the latest issue of Open Magazine. Minutes after reading the article, I got a pingback message from a blog! A blog which reviews latest news (!?) has hyperlinked my previous article. They were writing about Manu Joseph’s job application and hyperlinked my review on “Illicit happiness of other people”. And guess what they linked my blog article to – “JESUS CHRIST”. Thus, my divineness is exposed once again (hyperlinks can be considered as modern day revelations, can’t we? Its just information without a physical body or presence of information in various physical bodies :-/).

PS: Readers who address me with “Oh Lord”, will get special mentioning during my dinner with Father.

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Illicit Happiness of Manu Joseph

Serious Men, by Manu Joseph was one of the most interesting novels I have read. Just when I finished the book, couple of months back, his second book got released. My friend, Nirnaya, gifted me the book “Illicit happiness of other people”, last week and I finished reading it today.

Set in 1990 Madras, the story is about the quest of a journalist, Ousep Chacko, in search of the reason to his cartoonist son’s (Unni Chacko) suicide.  A major section of the book deals with Ouesep’s attempts to untangle the riddle named Unni (and his death), through his friends and cartoons. After all the Holmsian thrills, the story ends with an amazing twist.

The book is very entertaining with hilarious random events, crazy characters, funny but thought provoking ideas and events that you can relate to. Manu Joseph draws the picture of 1990 Madras fantastically. The irreverence towards religion is presented in such a humorous way that even my deacon roommate finds it funny.  An excerpt from the book goes like this

The strongest booze in the world is found in Kerala. It is called “Missiyah” (Jesus Christ). You’ll rise only on the third day!

One interesting thing I noticed about the story is its similarity with the malayalam movie Kadhavasheshan. The main plot of a curious person trying to figure out the mystery of a suicide is the same. I even think that one can draw some parallels between the way people discuss about the dead friend(in the movie and the book). Unni (from the book) and Gopinath Menon(from the movie) are similar in a way. Both of them are different from the rest of their types. Gopinath Menon is touched by human suffering and Unni by human behavior! Anyways, the similarity with the movie has not diminished my reading experience with the book. I will definitely recommend this book (And his first book, Serious Men).

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Update

One of the milestones as a Ph.D. student is to clear your qualifying your examination. In our University we have to clear it within first two years. It is basically letting the school know that you have identified a problem in the literature and it is worth spending time, trying to solve it. It is an important milestone because your stipend will be held if you have not completed the exam. Anyhow, I cleared the exam and the school thinks that it is not completely out of their interest to retain me here..

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Mentoring Undergrads!

Every semester we end up having some undergrad students joining us to do their final year project. It is such a pain to discuss computer science with most of them. Pramode Sir, tussi great ho, for doing this (taking the infinite stupidity from students) year after year. I am surprised by the ignorance of final year computer science/engineering students. Some instances,

1. Have not heard of lex or yacc.

2. Compilation is the process of pressing the “build” button. Thinks that c program runs in its raw form in the processor.

3. Surprised when told that jmp instruction has different opcode values based on the type of jump.

4. Thinks you can add assembly instructions in C-program (no, he is not talking about inline assembly)

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Ignorant Scientist – 1

Lately, some of my path breaking ideas have been copied by some stupid American sitcoms and I have no way to prove that the ideas originated from the best brain of this millennium. So, I decided I will start posting all the innovative ideas I have, in areas I have no clue about (of course, it includes computer science), here in my blog (where else?).

Alien generator:

This is a futuristic device. Anyone who wants to make this, have to wait till they solve the mystery called TIME. Once the faster than light (or FTL as they say in Battlestar Gallactica) travel is achieved, when traveling through space and time is something like cycling to the stationery store for a maggi, this can be made.

According to SETI, we now know that there are around 1235 earth like planets in the Universe. Definitely, once the time machine is made, we can go to these planets looking for aliens. Don’t worry if we end up not finding any, that is when the alien generator comes into picture.

Alien generator transports micro organisms to these planets, 5 billion years back in time. And BANG!! Go back to all these planets and you’ll be surprised to see what evolution can do!

Controlled Schizophrenia:

Psychological disorders, as they are called, in most of the cases are not disorders. They are just different from others. I will say the current method of curing the patient out of it is bogus!! Instead, we should find how to make use of that state. Teaching the patient about his disease, or I will say ‘power’, and how to control it completely like any other emotion in our brain will be revolutionary.

Let us take Schizophrenia. A schizophrenic patient experiences hallucinations and delusions. She starts hearing voices and seeing people. Agree or not, humans love hallucinations; look at the amount of drugs and alcohol taken, the success of harry potter. If you are still not convinced then look at the existence and thriving of religion. So, assume, one can control his state of schizophrenia. This means he can get hallucinated at his wish. Isn’t that great? You are waiting in a queue for hours and there is ” The Beatles” around you singing just for you. It is as real as anything else for you and no one else will even know!

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B’day card

This is the best birthday card I ever had! :)

From MIsc

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Kayaking

When Ram asked if I am interested in visiting Mcritchie reservoir, he gave me the impression that its a small walk around a pond and I said yes. Bloody heck, a reservoir is huge!! We had to walk 10kms around the reservoir, and I was not prepared for that. I was wearing a jeans pants and a full sleeves t-shirt! Anyhow, I was clueless about the kayaking plan after the walk and to be frank I was not that much interested. See, anything that wears out my energy is something that does not appeals me. But I agreed to do it as everyone else was planning to and I should admit that it was an awesome experience. A short summary.

1. I fell into the water (actually jumped into it, so as to raise the spirits of other fellow paddlers)

2. Paddling was not as hard as I thought it was.

3. My partner had previous kayaking experience and gave me a crash course in kayaking.

4. Even though I was the only one dripping in water when we started, by the end everyone got wet. Thanks to Ram for splashing water on everyone

From MIsc

P.S. Why do people think that I have some paddling experience because I come from Kerala ? Yes, We have backwaters in Kerala. We have coconut trees too, I don’t know how to climb those.

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