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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We the robots

Wow, what a day at office - debugging code and reading we the robots.
Thanks to Raghav Takkar for sharing this on google reader. With the first one only, i was hooked. Brilliant. period. There has been some interesting things happening over web in comics area but this one has both - creativity and insanely funny. The idea to apply human concepts in robot world is awesome. It is sort of dilbert-ish but this one so far has not gone to extremes as Scott takes it to.

My first one was about a robot who wants to loose his weight and there is a story there. This one was my fav -




Some other cool ones are :



And this one is for those like me out there -


I will be checking on them regularly. The website is wetherobots.com

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cooking needs an image makeover

Human bias - we show least respect to those whom we love the most.

If there is one art form which we experience daily in our lives, then it is food (cooking). Yes, cooking is an art, making good food is no less than playing mozart on piano, or singing rafi in bathrooms or outside. Yet, we rarely discuss about food. Especially in literature. I have read poems, poetical verses having similes comparing sunrise to beethoven's symphonies or something to Frida Kahlo's paintings etc. But what i have never read is something as .... as delicious as chocolate truffle cake.

It gets worse in Indian cuisine which btw is better any other world's cuisine because simply it has got more variety and each one is a 5.0 out of 5.0. We have bollywood, thousands of songs are written every year, even then you can hear comparing eyes of a lover with the crescent moon, yet the moment i write, my love is as deep as the chashni in jalebi, it becomes not only hilarious but bad.

Food - the art form which we all grew up with, which we savor almost everyday, gets the least respect from us. One reason i think is that we take good food to be granted. This is a totally bad assumption as food, like any other art form, requires perfection and it is not easy to be perfect. How many times have you eaten in a restaurant and didn't like the food? Yes, there has been countless such experiences but we over look this fact.

I think cooking needs a good PR who can transform its image. In school, we have music classes, sports periods, arts periods etc but there was never a cooking periods. Why? I agree that it does not make perfect sense to teach cooking. But the least we can do is atleast acknowledge this art form and start describing it in an aesthetic fashion.

Before i sign off, i would like to say this. Cooking is one of the best stress busters out there. And the scope of experimentation is enormous. I do not remember who but some artist said this - "Every time i perform a raag, i do it differently and i learn something about it. It is impossible to have two same renditions.". This is applicable to cooking as well and we should be lucky that we can also participate in this blissful practice everyday.

And here are some of my favorite recipes (In case you ever invite me for dinner)
Any recipe having lots of spinach or methi, chinese fried rice, kadhai paneer, baigan bhartha, bharwa shimla mirch, any stuffed parantha, paneer bhurji....well on more thoughts, the list is going to be endless.

Erato

Erato is a poetry magazine published by Georgia Tech students containing submissions from students. In Spring 2008, i submitted my first written poem and it was selected. Naturally, i was excited. So for next sem i submitted again and they have been kind enough again to select my three poems this time. The three poems are Crazy girl, Think of me and Golden Gate.
Although they have not yet uploaded these issues yet, but their site is here. http://cyberbuzz.gatech.edu/eratopub/issues.html

Well, indeed i am thankful to Erato for selecting my poems. Unfortunately, i no longer will be publish anymore as i have graduated. But i am glad that Erato exists and its always good to read what other students are writing. Check out the issues, they are very interesting.

This reminds me of Insite - the NSIT student magazine. I wish i had submitted something for Insite as well. I liked Insite - sme of its stories were actually very creative and some were funny indeed. I wonder if they do it now also. If they do, then they should also maintain a site and upload issues.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Three Theban plays

Yesterday, i finished reading The Three Theban plays by Sophocles translated by Robert Fagles.

I am big fan of reading mythological literature. Greek and Indian literature are more fascinating to read because they are so rich and so unconventional at the same time. The three theban plays that i read were Antigone, Oedipus and Oedipus at Colonus. The whole idea to read them started after i learnt about the story of Oedipus which is so shocking that you can get away with it only in mythological context. Imagine if anyone tries to write such a thing now, he would be issued a fatwa or its equivalent in his respective culture. Similarly, if you take the example of how Kauravas were born, Gandhari was beaten by an iron rod when she produced a bowl which was divided into 100 pieces. Even writers who write fantasy look conservative against mythological ideas.

While reading Theban plays, i was constantly reminded of Habib Tanvir. In all three plays, Sophocles has got chorus, a group of villagers, playing the role and telling the general mood of the city. This chorus has a leader as well. We see people talking to chorus, chorus advising characters etc. And chorus is not some background phenomenon, it is crucial to the story plot. Habib Tanvir used to do this in his plays. And in Tanvir's plays, the chorus used to sing beautiful lines, deep meaning. I wish only they make Dvds out of his play recordings before it is lost.

Next, i will be going in the journey of Oddyssey.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

dada, how foolish you are!

So, i was in library looking for a book on Theban stories. I will write about them in another post. In the lowest rack of Greek literature started Indian literature and there was an anthology of Rabindra Nath Tagore there. I just picked it up and in my usual style opened a random page and started to read. But it was no longer an ordinary random page, even though I am yet to read complete book, that page is the best page of the book. There were two poems that i have copied below. I should not waste any words describing the poem because when you will read it, you will understand.

The first one is The Astronomer from his book - The Crescent moon
The Astronomer

I only said, "When in the evening the round full moon gets
entangled among the beaches of that Dadam tree, couldn't somebody
catch it?"
But dada laughed at me and said, "Baby, you are the silliest
child I have ever known. The moon is ever so far from us, how could
anybody catch it?"
I said, "Dada, how foolish you are! When mother looks out of
her window and smiles down at us playing, would you call her far
away?"
Still dada said, "You are a stupid child! But, baby where
could you find a net big enough to catch the moon with?"
I said, "Surely you could catch it with your hands."
But dada laughed and said, "You are the silliest child I have
known. If it came nearer, you would see how big the moon is."
I said, "Dada, what nonsense they teach at your school! When
mother bends her face down to kiss us, does her face look very
big?"
But still dada says, "You are a stupid child."



Next one is a parable from The Gardener

At midnight the would-be ascetic announced:
“This is the time to give up my home and seek for God. Ah, who has held me so long in delusion here?”
God whispered, “I, ” but the ears of the man were stopped.
With a baby asleep at her breast lay his wife, peacefully sleeping on one side of the bed.
The man said, “Who are you that have fooled me so long?”
The voice again said, “They are God, ” but he heard it not.
The baby cried out in its dream, nestling close to its mother.
God commanded, "Stop, fool, leave not thy home' but still he heard not.
God sighed and complained, “Why does my servant wander to seek me, forsaking me?”


Tagore mentioned that it is very difficult to retain the spirit of a poem after it is translated to some other language. Indeed, how true it is. While reading the astronomer, a person who had lived in Bengal (IIM Calcutta does not count :)) would experience greater joy. My joy is second grade as i am an Indian and for foreigners, it would be third grade. But the spirit of the poem is so strong that everyone will enjoy.

Crescent moon can be read here.

The reason the second poem is so interesting to me is i like the concept of having a character GOD and writing his lines. You can get away with anything because GOD is saying it, on the other hand, the responsibility of what you write is enormous. I remember Woody Allen has tried it and given GOD a satirical angle but in a nice manner. But here Tagore writes like a GOD about GOD and is so simple and direct.

This weekend is going to a Tagore weekend. It has only started.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

M.I.A

What a way to kickstart April blog!

Its 11:28 am on a beautiful Saturday morning and my laptop is buzzing with MIA's music.

It all started yesterday night with me watching MIA's video of paper planes. I have heard Paper planes in Slumdog OST and had loved it. Awesome beats! I was under the impression that Rehman had composed the song as well. I was so wrong. Coming back to the video, it was not a great video except in the first and last scene when paper planes are flying over NY. But then in the related section, i saw some other songs by MIA. And thus began my journey yesterday night.

First some links
[Read about MIA at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.I.A._(artist)]
Her myspace page http://www.myspace.com/mia]
Her website: http://www.miauk.com/
Her youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/worldtown
Kala: her second album playlist -









Now, about her music:
MIA's music is extremely experimental. Her myspace layout explains a lot about her music. Its very colorful, very vibrant and contains many layers. But her lyrics are political, about issues and direct. If Kimya Dawson was my find of 2008 with her experimental music, MIA is doing that in 2009. She is saying what she wants to say and music just remixes the content. She is like Rahman gone extreme with beats. She is Tamillian who has lived in Sri Lanka, India, UK and now US. The impact of bollywood music is present in many of her songs.

She made a remix of Jimmy from Disco Dancer. Now Jimmy is one of my favourite songs and it reminds me of that era of Bappi Lahiri. It is simply a great number. She takes that song, keeps its music but changes lyrics to this:
When you go Rwanda Congo
Take me on ya genocide tour
Take me on a truck to Darfur
Take me where you would go

Got static on ya satellite phone
Got to get you safe at home
Got to get you some where warm
So you get me all alone

Jimmy Aaja
Jimmy Aaja
Jimmy Aaja


But still that tune, if you can play it in your head is there. Jimmy is not MIA's best song but it tells a lot about the music she likes and it tells what she is trying to say in her songs.
Other good songs from the playlist are Boyz, Hussel, and Bamboo Banga. All are super cool.
Her videos again bore her stamp. People dancing, wearing colorful clothes, and a political/social message going in backdrop.

It is sad that it took Slumdog to bring MIA to me but its cool as well. May be this blogpost will take MIA to someone else :). Listen to her, she is showing a new different way.