Cycling Day n – Some thoughts


Cycling nThis is where man meets nature. The first meeting is always filled with electricity so we had the opportunity to experience the buzz electric of fireflies. Stumbling upon treasures is not easy. But, when man’s made aware of their existence, he experiences the feeling of ‘most alive’ in his encounters with such natural utopia.

Man can only go so far as his tools take him? No, they have never been his limitation. He has conquered and controlled nature but he sure knows there’s not enough he can do in his lifetime to hollow the deepest secrets in the box. When he realizes the box is inside him, he will stop wandering!

How the oPhone can cure hunger?


Yes, it’s true, it could happen. Smelling a delicious piece of food is as good as having it! If you don’t agree, ask Jimmy Johns which is all for “Free Smells”! There’s a power in our sense of smell, in fact, when I was in schoolschool (grade 10), a few scientists even won the Nobel Prize for discovering the mechanism or process by which olfactory sensors in our nose work. 

oPhone according to me is a great innovation and it’s not surprising as it comes from the world famous Wyss Institute scientists. Now you can send ‘smelly’ messages to your near and dear. Sounds gross, but believe me, you will be able to, if you read this article- http://www.wired.com/design/2014/01/send-scents-texts-new-phone/?cid=17205604.

Image

On the other hand, I wonder if like everything is insecure today, even these machines will be prone to hacking and tampering. Wonder how that would be like! Atleast it’s safe to say only the rich can get a hold of such gadgets. Even if they aren’t expensive as of now, these devices must be made so expensive that only the wealthy can afford them. Don’t try making everything cheap, some devices should be reserved to be affordable only by the rich. ;)

Humans give technology to humankind and they expect humans to behave civilized, but you can never trust humans. They don’t know how they behave when they see something new. So, a sincere request to Mr David Edwards and his group to sell them only to those who are going to make positive use of them; maybe to spas for aroma therapies and to meditation centers etc, I don’t know  but please don’t make it publicly available for all because that would be one literal smelly mess the world can get into although there’s no doubt it’s already in one right now. I know it’s going to be commercial but I hope you take this suggestion seriously.

Fall and Deepavali


It’s not just in the Spring that we see colors and blossoms; Fall is a good time to see the beauty of nature as well. For me, nature sits right outside my apartment. I have conversation with it every day while going to the University! With the temperatures dropping, as they should, this time of the year, Fall has given many beautiful sights to nature lovers. With recently acquainted knowledge about the Science behind changing leaf colors (less chlorophyll, so more anthocyanin and carotenoids), Fall is getting very pleasant (the path from ignorance to darkness is a tough one but everyone must get there eventually). With Deepavali just around the corner, it is time for more celebration by lighting Diyas in Sesame oil. ‘Fall’ing time is also in ‘Q’ (November 3rd is the scheduled Fall back, which means we will have sunrise at 7ish instead of 8ish). Seeing people in their winter-wear already is a ‘cool’ sight as well! Just yesterday, I had a pleasant opportunity of being a spectator to some undergraduate students in Halloween costumes. Glad to see them following this tradition!  

ImageImageImage

 

Talking of tradition (usually takes me back to Bharat Desh), I remember Life in Hyderabad, India is a different story this time of the year. It reminds me of my school days when we were finishing the syllabus for the Half-yearly exams that usually happen in December and so many talent search exams in November. At home, with Deepavali approaching, I used to go shopping with my parents to buy crackers (which, after a while, we stopped doing) and sometimes run into classmates at the HACA Bhavan ‘firecracker market’. Later in the evening after Puja, we used to spend time watching the special programs on TV. It’s always good to meet the neighbors who are never visible downstairs bursting all sorts of crackers. That’s a lot of information about Deepavali and Fall. A random mini-blogpost again, if you can handle it!            

Wish I had some samosas and chai with me right now! 

If you feel my English is not the usual type you are used to, then it’s because it’s Indianized :) Look at the link for what’s Indianism!!! Funny but true!   

http://travel.cnn.com/mumbai/life/10-indianisms-652344

 

Springing with fun


Spring blossoms are a feast to the eyes. As a newcomer to US I am exhilarated seeing the colors on Purdue campus and in Lafayette, Indiana. Spring came late this year and is going to end soon with Summer just around the corner. But there’s always enough to do when you see almost everyone outside. The other day, I say students with their hammocks studying for their finals on campus. Then there is this apple tree close to my place in Lafayette that blossomed. The smell of apple’s blossoms is  naturally sweet.  I had the fortune of eating ripe apples of this tree too (ones that ripened and fell- not ones I plucked) in the Fall. This tree holds a very special place in my life in Indiana. I was able to capture a bee mesmerized by the smell from the apple flowers this morning.

I am going to participate in the Arbor day tree planting event this Saturday- a great opportunity to cherish our beautiful nature and learn to respect it. Thank you Purdue BoilerOUT for organizing this event – we must always remember the Sanskrit saying “Vruksho rakshathi rakshitaha” or “Save the tree and it saves you”. We are lucky to be alive because of the trees that supply us with clean air. Try planting a tree this Spring and don’t forget to take care of it.

Hammocking around Purdue Mall
Hammocking around Purdue Mall

 

Purdue Rowing club practicing in the Wabash
Purdue Rowing club practicing in the Wabash

 

Bee attracted to apple blossom
Bee attracted to apple blossom
Tulips in Lafayette, Indiana
Tulips in Lafayette, Indiana

 

 

Ekkadi Manusha Janmamu- Pedda Tirumalacharya Keertana 1


Image

Ragam: Bouli
Language: Telugu (spoken majorly in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India)
Composer: Pedda Tirumalacharya (s/o Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya called ‘Pada kavitha Pitamah’)
Link of the rendition on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV6EewU9OOM

Composition:

Pallavi:
Ekkadi Maanusha Janmambetthina Phalamemunnadi;
Nikkamu ninne nammithi; nee chitthambikanu
(What is the fruit of this human life you have presented to me among the 84 lakh lifeforms? I am Your devotee alone and what You do with me is totally up to Your wish)

Charanam1:
Maruvanu Aahaarambunu; Maruvanu Samsaara sukhamu;
Maruvanu Indriya Bhogamu; Madhava nee Maya
(Oh Lord Vishnu! You designed me in such a way that I don’t forget to eat, I don’t forget the worldy pleasures and I don’t forget sense gratification, all this is due to the illusion you created)
Maracheda sugyanambunu; maracheda tattva rahasyamu;
Maracheda guruvunu daivamu; Madhava nee Maya
(On the other hand, I forget the knowledge mentioned in our Vedas and Puranas i.e. knowledge about You, Lord Madhava, I forget that the secrets that help me discover You and I also forget my teachers and the deities, all this is due to the illusion you created)

Charanam2:
Viduvanu paapamu punyamu; viduvanu naa durgunamulu;
Viduvanu mikkiliyaasalu; Vishnuda nee Maya
(I do not stop committing sins or conducting virtuous acts (the cycle of virtues and sins is building up on me) without realizing the reason for my existence- to reach You; I do not give up my bad qualities/habits; I do not let go of my excessive needs; all this is due to the illusion you created oh Lord Vishnu)
Vidicheda Shatkarmambulu; vidicheda vairagyambunu;
Vidicheda naachaarambunu; Vishnuda nee Maya
(I do not perform the 6 necessary activities of 1.performing and 2.moderating Yagna, 3.learning and 4.creating opportunity to learn the Veda near the Guru, 5.donating and 6.accepting donation as required; I do not exhibit dispassion/detachment to this worldly pleasures; I let go of the good practices laid in the sacred Vedic scriptures; all this is due to the illusion you created oh Lord Vishnu)

Charanam3:
Tagileda bahu lampatamula; tagileda bahu bandhambula 
Tagulanu Mokshapu maargamu; Talapuna yenthainaa
(I get involved in so many activities cause me to be in relationships with many people i.e. my activities make me depend on so many people; I attach myself to several worldly relationships; I do not understand why, despite doing so many worldly activities I do not try to get onto the path to Salvation)
Agapadi Sri Venkateswara Antaryamivai 
Nagi nagi nanu neevelithi Naakaa ee Maya 
(I can see you before my eyes Lord Venkateswara, also you exist within me [as you are all-pervading]; And looking at my helplessness with (dealing of) the world of Maya you created, you laugh at me- I am your devotee, is this Maya necessary for me? I plea for your mercy to let me free from this Maya so I can realize the true meaning of this human life, to chant your name and reach you on the path of Salvation)

Thank you for reading this 1st attempt of my translation from Telugu to English. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray


This book is truly representative of dystopia, not just of the protagonist Dorian Gray, a young man from London whose life is marred by his actions- or what art has made him do. His portrait painted by Basil Hallward the painter has caused Gray to be obsessed with self-love and made him a slave of his senses. He tries his best to be good but the novel is written to give no room for virtuous behavior. Lord Henry is my favorite character, especially because of his epigrams. They moved me and made me fall for his tricks. There is verity in some and falsity in some others. I do not completely agree with what Lord Henry proposes every time but I will say this- he is a master schmoozer. He just knows how to captivate his listeners- be it an official event or an informal party. He is the one who considers Dorian’s youth as his greatest asset and thinks that he should always remain as such and never change. The plot of the novel turns out to be morbid in the middle and the actions of Gray haunt him and his picture, even more.

Wilde describes beauty beautifully; he is a master writer and knows just the way to write to keep the pages turning for his readers. I took a long time reading this book than usual because I loved it so much that I wanted to absorb every piece of information in those pages. It was simple something that you don’t read every day- this is a special one so save it for some occasion. The book makes the men and the men make the book; at least this is true for the most part. It seriously makes me think that in the age the book was written, it was a bold attempt by Oscar Wilde to let out such strong feelings between friends who are men.

The description of the painting by Basil Hallward is such a wonder in itself- I read the melody in Wilde’s writing. It makes us miss life in 1890 when the characters lived. It is truly an age you want to be in at least to enjoy the enchanting parties and charming people described by Wilde. The climax of the novel is morbid again but a justification was beautifully provided so there’s no need to worry if you are a stern moralist.  I am surprised that this is the only novel Mr Wilde had authored; I seriously wish he were alive.  I won’t say more about the novel, read it yourself and get carried away to another age.

The Inheritance of Loss


Kiran Desai’s “The Inheritance of Loss” is an interesting work clearly showing the author’s flair for writing. She describes Indian and American stereotypes perfectly and with great detail too. She concerns the characters in her novel with troubling events that take place in the lush green nature-blessed Kalimpong along the Teesta River in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. As the plot progresses, Kalimpong transforms from being a beautiful nature-lover’s haven to a ghost town that is destroyed due to riots instigated by the extremist GNLF fighting for Gorkhaland. She contrasts the life in the Himalayan town of Kalimpong and bustling New York city, which may have had an influence on Desai.

Desai is a good storyteller who mesmerizes the reader with verses that show her clerisy and mastery of English but the plot is not compelling enough to keep the reader turn pages- and I expect this to be a characteristic of the Booker Prize winning works. There are some funny situations and others that are too hard to imagine- Desai turns the plot using its eccentric characters as weapons, into a moody concoction that doesn’t end on a happy note as you may want it to. It nevertheless shows the reality of curfew situations in India and trauma that citizens face due to unpleasant violence.

What’s most funny about the novel is the way in which the characters are stubborn about their feelings despite the level of education that they have been blessed to have at Oxford or Cambridge- this makes me wonder if people become narrow-minded after going to reputed International schools.

Nothing can be called atypical of behavior of people in the country that Desai writes about. Some of the situations that one can connect to are the US visa process, book-loving nature of the characters (which I am sure, Desai also is) and being a gourmet of good food. Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” has a scene in which a character is involved in a communist march. Desai’s novel also has a similar scene with the character Gyan- should we think of this as Roy’s influence on Desai or plagiarism of ideas or that Indian political situations in any state are so banal that authors are forced to think the same way when it comes to politics affecting the general public?

Read the book to learn about the beautiful Himalayan region of Darjeeling, its residents and life of illegal immigrants in New York City.

The God of Small Things- Review


An melancholy  novel that revolves around the lives of a few characters from a family in Kerala, specifically from a town Ayemenem- in the year 1969. Estha and Rahel, dizygotic twins in the novel form its crux and their feelings were significantly portrayed (reminded me of my childhood dreams and feelings). Their disintegrating family and its troubles inform them of impending danger that leave them distraught and shaken. Childhood trauma seems to pass on to what they do with the rest of their lives.

Roy has elaborated the feelings and completed each character’s nature with her skill and choice of words. It was a shock to see no hope and positivity in the book as most of it focussed on lives of Rahel and Estha, who had to cope up with a lot of pressure from their family from the start of the book. The twins learn that “Things Can Change in a Day”.


Set in God’s own country- Kerala, India, the book is definitely not for someone looking for a casual light-hearted reading- it shows the pangs of childhood conscience with deep emotions. On the other hand, if you are looking for some excellent description of nature in Kerala, you will be mesmerized by the picture Roy provides of its beauty and moving emotions attached to it.

Interesting characters: Ammu, Baby Kochamma, Chachko, Comrade C.M.K Pillai and Velutha
Friendly suggestion: Do not read it if you already have family troubles- it may depress you. Recommend it to open-minded, have-a-positive-outlook and serious-fiction-loving audience.

 

Chalo Amerika -1


Hi everyone.

It has been a while since I posted my experiences and that’s because of the visa process and departure to the United States. Now that I’m here at Purdue, let me share some experiences of my first visit.

I landed at Chicago airport on 22nd of August via the Air India flight from New Delhi. The flight itself was a great experience as I was a first-time traveller on an international flight. I was given a seat with large leg space so I had my own comfort while on the plane. The economy class seats tend to be congested so you actually do not get enough space to turn to a side and sleep. That was the only uncomfortable part of the flight. You get to watch as many movies as you can on the flight but I suggest everyone travelling for the first time to sleep as much as they can on the flight. Drink lots of water and juices on the flight because you get dehydrated. Just stretch your muscles by walking around in the plane. There’s not much one can do on a window seat on the plane, so the aisle is good to go. The food on the plane is not so good; it is advisable if you got some home made food to eat so that you do not feel homesick already :-)

An I-94 card is handed out few hours before landing. It has to be filled and any valuable items that you carry have to be declared on the form. You cannot carry fruits and vegetables to the US :-p . Finally the plane landed and I was in the USA!  The immigration process at the Chicago airport is very simple and finally I came out of the airport after checking out my baggage. The trolleys are big enough to carry the suitcases (I took three heavy ones) so you won’t have problems with luggage handling. Be sure to get a calling card that works well with your mobile phone so you can call back and let your family know about your safe landing. I was lucky to find a PhD student and an Indian Professor going to Purdue so I had company from the Chicago airport to Purdue Airport(Yes, there’s an airport here!)

Seniors I contacted on the IGRASP forum came to pick me up from Purdue Airport (Vartika Mishra and Gauri Kulkarni) and drop me at the off-campus housing which my friends from India already occupied. It was very sunny as it was 1.30 PM by the time I reached home. I saw my roomates for the first time in person! The apartment is big enough and I am typing this article from my room!

More about Purdue and USA in the next post.