June 30, 2010

Interesting Insights

I attended an interesting lecture by Prof. M.S.Swaminathan tracing the transformational change that Sir Charles Darwin's theory brought about in Biology, to the current scenario of Modern Biology and the tools to address Climate Change. While the presentation was brilliant and lucid, there were two messages in the lecture that stood out - apart from the theories and advances in Biology that was highlighted.

One, is the fact that Darwin set out on the voyage on the HMS Beagle and spent five years observing and recording his findings on that eventful trip. But he apparently took >22 years to analyse and decode his observations that he documented in his now famous book, "The Origin of Species". This goes to show what patience can bring to a research publication.

The other interesting insight was the relationship Charles Darwin shared with his wife. Apparently, she was a staunch Catholic and believed in the Creationist theory and didn't believe a word of what Charles Darwin wrote!!! But she very painstakingly edited his manuscript, as she had a good command over the English language and the couple agreed to disagree on the theory of Evolution. She maintained that she went by belief which was based on faith and, not logic and reasoning, that Darwin believed in.

Both these insights, rather these are very important lessons many of us need to adopt in our lives:-)

June 29, 2010

More Soccer

We have entered an interesting phase of the tournament, we are well into 20 days of action!! I have watched very few matches fully but I get educated round the clock. But what really shocks me is the lack of modernisation in this huge immensely popular sport.... watched the world over. Every other sport has used technology to minimise human errors but I heard a FIFA official say that referee errors are part of the game and it should continue!! I find this highly unintelligent and out of place in this technology era.

Another jarring fault seems to be with the Jabulani ball itself. Wouldn't one think that any new ball needs to be tested in a smaller tournament before being accepted as the official ball in a World Cup Soccer? I know this to be the case in cricket. Its but the most logical thing to do. But, FIFA seems to think otherwise and we have these FIFA jokers playing with the teams and causing extreme heartburn to many teams. This ball behaves completely different at higher altitudes, the aerodynamic properties change and goal keepers and strikers are having a tough time controlling it.

Very rightly, the headline in the Times of India read, "Red card to Technology". That seems to be so appropriate in this World Cup. I would like to add that all the FIFA officials need to be given a red card now:)

June 27, 2010

Big Fat Wedding

We went as a big group to Bangalore for a marwari wedding, recently. Its been a long time since I did such a thing.... its usually a courtesy attendance for ~2 hours max and I get back to my routine... But this was different... We travelled, a motley group of 15 people by road, stayed in a lovely cottage all together, ate and hogged at lovely, yummy Bengali sandesh, rasagolla etc.. at lunch, breakfast, dinner, for all of two days.. My God, I ate so much in those two days!! I must mention here that Bengali sweets are my all time favourite and these were heavenly - the best I have had, out of Calcutta:-). 

After the formal wedding sangeet the previous day, we had our own sangeet at the cottage:-). Our noise levels were amazing, reminded me of college days.. 

And the best part was my first experience of highway driving... it felt great... And I was not tired and didn't feel any strain of driving... Its was a 350 km drive each way and I did ~550 km by myself, in two days. Uploaded some snaps that a friend sent me. I think the handsome green Chevy is also there in one of the snaps in the background.

I realised that's what weddings are all about - party time... dunno if its as enjoyable for the couple, but as friends we had a great time. And its a big fat wedding for me, personally, I dread to think how many weeks its going to take to undo and burn the calories consumed.

June 18, 2010

This is Life!!

Taking off from my previous post on Raajneeti, I am quite allergic to politics. I watch a lot of it happening around me, at work and elsewhere, and I always tell myself I am  not cut out for politics and steer clear from these goings-on around me! In other words, I attempt at being a 'witness' to these events and be amused by human tendencies:-)... But I guess, it sometimes gets into you and you get dragged unconsciously and before you know it, you gotta learn the rules of the game, like it or not!!

Well, yes, your truly, is currently caught up in one such storm! Believe me, its not pleasant but I am unable to wish it away:). Obviously I am not learning fast! Any ideas and suggetions are welcome. I know I have given no details but for obvious reasons, I can't. I really envy all those who enjoy politics. They are so well equipped to face the world.

I think I shall pick up a book and get some clarity soon. Meanwhile, I just wish the monsoon will arrive and the storm will pass.

June 17, 2010

Hindi Cinema is growing up!

I happened to watch Raajneeti couple of days back, yes, "happened" because there was a hidden agenda to remain awake for the Brazil match:-). But I am not complaining, its a well made film. Completely mainstream cimema but without the trappings of a song and dance sequence, and very unlike hindi films of yore.. Its hugely inspired from the epic, Mahabharata. And that's the beauty of the epic - it has managed to stay evergreen and is so relevant for every generation, and has remained so, for centuries.. It speaks of the very basic nature of a human mind, that has not surprisingly changed much, since the time of the Epic. Amazing, isn't it?

Raajneeti is well done, a trifle long, but I managed to stay awake all of 3 hours, that too a night show, that speaks for itself!! Also, I am not a person who is fascinated by politics and their manipulative, vengeful ways, but the movie manages to hold the audience with a good screenplay and cast. Although some of them are not upto the mark, Nikhila Trikha who plays Samar's mom was quite comical in her most important scene. Quite a number of stars had a role in the movie and its my first Kat Kaif movie. She looks pretty but I think she looks dolled up and doesn't come out as intelligent.

Apparently, its doing well in the box office too, usually good movies that I end up liking are often in the category of 'flops':-). So, here's to more such movies that don't insult our intelligence...

June 16, 2010

The Speaking Tree

This column in the Times of India has some very insightful knowledge and its quite popular among readers. The Times has also published books of the collected contributions and goes by the same name. Today's column is lovely. I really enjoyed reading it. Its so practical and experiential, such wisdom. Its amazing what transformation a Master can bring in us and its very important to understand the nature of Sangha, our community and the importance of our Dharma, our nature, to keep us centered. Awesome!

Very often media is at the receiving end from public, and also on this blog:-) but I must appreciate The Times of India to have this column on their middle page.

June 15, 2010

The bug has got to me too!!!

Yes, I have also come under the spell of the ongoing world cup in South Africa. Its only natural, I guess, unless one wants to rebel and deliberately shut out the din (pun intended!) around the World Cup! In my case I have an added reason, I live with a human being who definitely goes beserk and mad, unfailingly, once every four years.. All our conversations and schedules and lifestyle for the next month revolves around the matches!! He wants a holiday but it has to be after July 11, can't possibly holiday during World Cup, what blasphemy:)

Home apart, the newspapers are full of them... so are other media. I really am happy that media have some pleasant things to report rather than their half baked scoops that they resort to... I am also following some players and teams... doing my bit, to get educated, to have a decent conversation at home, for the next one month.

I was travelling in Kerala 3 weeks ago and they already had banners and posters of their favourite teams and players, not to mention the jerseys... Kerala is quite unique among other Indian States .... each town / district has their favourite teams and players.. I mean they have official teams... these are prominently displayed along main thoroughfares and the locals apparently fight over the teams the town must support:). I was passing through north Kerala and saw only Argentina and Maradona then. Messi has not reached Indian shores yet!!

The Vuvuzela horn, native to Africa is probably nice to hear at the start and end of the game, maybe it can be used instead of the whistle, but having them right through the game may actually cause damage to our ear drums... Its at a frequency that borders on being unpleasant, much like the ultrasonic sound of the bat, the chalkpiece screeching on the black board at some angles.. I do hope they shut that drone out soon, its apparently louder for us poor mortals watching on TV, than for those who are watching it live!

Its too early to have my favorite team, will hopefully pick a team soon!

June 9, 2010

Time for media to grow up!

I seem to be a pathetic minority in the current issue of the Bhopal gas verdict. I think all of us (actually the media) are having a misplaced priority on the issue. I don't understand why or how important it is to track down Warren Anderson and get him behind bars!!! How will it help the victims in the tragedy?? And secondly, do we take the same stand when it comes to all other accidents?? If yes, then why isn't the CEO of Air India put behind bars for the Mangalore Air crash or the Rail board chairman be put in prison for the rail accidents??

My question to the media houses is to please sift the issue thread bare and then report, and not take stands like half baked interns on their first training assignment!! Here, its not important to get Warren Anderson in prison but its far more important to get fair compensation to the victims. That's more imperative and proactive action to take. Somewhere, the media seems to have lost it and are getting more decadent in their reporting and high on the sensationalism quotient. Arnab from Times Now was screaming hoarse last night on how Times Now located Warren Anderson's home in NYC (I was telling people at home that Times Now should join the Police force:))... till the reporter in NYC said that a simple google search was all that was required to track his home:).

Can we get more pathetic than this!! What happened to the Lt. Colonel who was allegedly involved in a sex scandal? Media hanged him guilty before even before hearing his case and from the second day, there is absolutely no news on the issue, but the damage to the individual is done!! Jumping to conclusions and handing the verdict and surmising and conjectures seem to rule the day and very sadly so!

June 7, 2010

Casablanca - a classic indeed!

All of you may have watched it once atleast. But this movie can be watched again and again, I guess that's why it figures as a classic... in the All Time top 10. We were watching it last night and I must say its a movie that oozes style in every way... from the cast to the dialogues to the dialogue delivery to the visuals.. Its definitely high on the style quotient across generations of movies and I guess there was magic in the air when the movie was made... Its got the perfect cast, setting, dialogues, stunning visuals, great background on WW II..

Go, watch the movie again even if you have seen it many times and a definite must-see if you haven't yet watched this great classic of all times. Its the best stylish and romantic movie, with a brilliant cast that I have seen so far.

June 5, 2010

The month of May

It was a busy month for me with lot of touring and mentoring std X kids!! The upside was I got to see some breathtaking scenery and stayed in exotic locales but it was draining, end of day. What with the heat, a bunch of kids (27) to boot, who are at an odd age where they dress and talk like adults but are kids in every other sense!! So, it was difficult to make the connection with them, (didn't know whether to talk to them as kids or young adults!) particularly as they had a uncanny knack of ganging up:-). But I must say, nett nett, it was fun, a great learning for them and for me but I am certainly glad its over:-). I leave you all with some snaps about the month of May, for me. These were taken in Pitchavaram mangrove forest, Kolli hills and the amazing water falls in Kolli hills..

Actually, there's more pics of field trips, parties, talks and long walks and lab work but I am yet to transfer them to the PC. And I must say, I was touched by their grand tea party on the penultimate day and they organized games and food for all of us, staff, and they did an amazing job of it. Kudos to the entire batch!

June 4, 2010

Disasters galore!!

Since April / May of this year, we have been having natural  and manmade disasters one after the other every other week.. Air safety seems to be at an all time low... Reasons attributed are crew fatigue, stress and such... While we had only one plane crash, the near misses and losing altitude planes scare the wits out of most of us... But what really beats me is the complete government apathy and callous attitude. There is no official who is pulled up and there is no owning up of moral responsibility among politicians either.

Meanwhile, India is going through a very tough time with Maoists causing havoc to trains. Natural disasters like cyclone Laila and now cyclone Phet ( to hit in the next 24 hours) have added to our woes.. Not to mention about road accidents, a recent one involving a bus that went up in flames and killed all 30 in Karnataka.  

We have a Home Minister who flip flops at the drop of the hat... "The Maoists did, the Maoists didn't do it, they did it, etc.." How sickening to read the papers everyday

But talk of Genetically modified crops, and you have all and sundry raise hell, and cry hoarse on safety issues and how dangerous it would be to commercialize it. While Bt brinjal will nowhere cause any death and destruction, its release is on hold, but flights continue to be operated with or without any care on passenger safety!! Apparently India stands only next to Africa in air safety records, which means we are pits:-)

But our fate rests on few elected and non elected members (RS nominations:-) who think they have the licence to kill or not kill innovation in India. I say its a case of fear psychosis when it comes to releasing Bt brinjal and the decision is not based on science but non science!

Blood is thicker than water after all!!

I knew it all along, only didn't know it would happen in 2010... The Ambani brothers have agreed to bury the hatchet and call a truce... This was something they should have done long ago... but its better now than never, I guess...

The only losers in this truce are those who took sides during their war:-).. As it is with a husband and wife relationship, its best to not to take sides between warring brothers or between any family member for that matter, they are bound to patch up, particularly when there is so much at stake, and you will be left alone with egg on your face, literally!!

Another big loser is the media!! They don't have a story to cry hoarse, from rooftops anymore! They have to look elsewhere.. It was such a favourite with media that if they didn't have any story for the day, they would do a story on these warring brothers and fill up their news spaces!!

The second big loser are the courts and lawyers who must have had a field day fleecing these brothers:-)

I had a gut feeling that they will patch up! I think its really kudos to their mother, Kokilaben who may have really been the peacemaker and played an important role... Personally for me, while the elder brother appears to be the more intelligent, the younger one seemed to be the Wronged:-). But I am very glad to see the two get together and I wish them well.

June 2, 2010

Are there Sinkholes in India?

Many of us are aware of sinkholes and their formation. The wiki says, they are fairly common and cause damage in parts of Florida, Kentucky, Missourie, Pennysylvania in USA. Apparently Michigan area has quite a number of them These have caught my imagination since the flooding in Guatemala city couple of days back. Apparently these are caused in places where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by circulating ground water. Also happens when water table falls dramatically etc..

These sinkholes can be huge and vary in size, from less than 1 to 300 metres (3.3 to 980 ft) both in diameter and depth!! Must be quite awesome sight to suddenly have sinkhole formed overnight, like its happenned in Guatemala city. But for Indians, we will be probably not so much in awe:-). We are so used to caving in happening in main arterial roads in cities (there is one near our house where the road always caves in even after they relay the road - its happenned so often, in the same place) and pathetic conditions in rural areas that natures' ways sometimes don't cause the wonder and amazement that it should:-).