Friday, May 27, 2005

Of patents and what-not

Hammer-head icon"Necessity is the mother of all inventions. The father is unknown."

That is the tag-line for this extraneously hilarious website - Head over to this site for some "questionable" but actual US patents. The icon towards the right perfectly describes the feeling you'll get when you read about some of the patents listed on that site... a hat mountable flag, edible dresses, solo see-saws, bicycle mounted dog running guards, gunpowder-firing golf club, urinal drink-coaster, surfboard with a viewing window, cap with a timepiece... and that's just a sampling! The author's description and visitors' comments are particularly hilarious. A must-visit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Free Compilers and IDEs

Just spotted this: If you are looking for a great free C++ compiler for Windows (and are not too weary of the Microsoft tag - but if you are, why the heck are you developing for Window? :-P), get the Visual C++ 2003 Toolkit.

Download Link

It comes with the command-line optimizing compiler and linker, plus the standard C++ libraries including STL. Great. Only thing missing is a good editor with IntelliSense :-D (but that will be asking too much of them).

For those of you who just cannot do without an IntelliSense editor (like me), I recommend SharpDevelop. It's a freeware IDE for the .NET Framework. Currently it supports C# and VB.NET natively, so if you are a C++ programmer, you have C# (which really is almost exactly C++, except just a little cleaner). If you are a VB programmer, you have VB.NET which rules!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Minding my busyness

Ever had the "I-should-be-studying-right-now" feeling just after your last exam?

This has been haunting for a while, now that I'm done with all exams and all studying. I've been restless these past few days. It seems nothing is in my hands - though I would like it to be!

Perhaps at the root of this problem is - free time.

That might come as a surprize, but I have always been used to being very busy. While in H.S., I was also attending a preparatory institute for four hours a day, four times a week. That meant leaving home at 6 or 7 in the morning and returning at 8 in the night, having done nothing but studying all through the day. The remaining 3 (sometimes 4) free days were spent catching up on homework and still more studying. There was no time to breathe.

The little time that I did snatch for myself was spent doing the things I love - reading, collecting information from the net, writing some cool new software, working on one of my techie projects, fixing my guitar, adjusting the speakers, trying to invent a better paper-plane...

That free time seemed well-earned. Now it does not. Every moment seems like a moment wasted.

So I'm a SLIder

As the comments in my previous entry suggest, I (supposedly) belong to a class of people called SLIders (Street Light Interferers!).

Read this article on About.Com to get the lowdown on what it is.

There are some things mentioned in the article, that I can relate to:
When it happens is when I'm stressed about something. Not really manically stressed, just when I'm really mulching something over, really chewing something over in my head, and then it happens.
That is true with me as well.
It is unlikely that a light will turn itself on when you walk past it, so it is a shock when it happens. If this should happen a few times consecutively, then it appears some mechanism is at work. - David Barlow
I would like to believe it's so! I'm not really fascinated to be associated with some sort of psychics' group! Haha. And I'm also glad none of the "other" phenomena mentioned in that article has ever occured with me.

Note to skeptics - While it's okay to be one, having a scientific mind, it is inevitable for me to analyze, question and reason something rather than dismiss it as a mere co-incidence. Doing so would be ignorant of me.

By the way, about 75 minutes ago, I walked past it again just to test... bloody thing lit up again :-/

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Spooky lamp-post

Lined along the streets near my home are many streetlights on electric poles. Most are the sodium-lamp type, but one particular lamp, about 150 yards from my home, gives white light instead of the typical yellowish light that sodium lamps emit.

It's fairly normal. Looking from a distance, or even up close, you wouldn't see anything different with either the lamp-post or the lamp itself. However - for the past one week, I have noticed one spooky thing - every time I walk past it, it reverses its state. i.e. Turns itself off it it's on and vice versa. Bizzarre! It doesn't happen when other people walk by it. The only trend I see is that I usually walk past it during evenings/nights (7 PM - 9:30 PM).

So I wanted to test this. While I went out for some shopping today, I stayed a little away from it for a few minutes, waiting for someone else to walk past it. Two people did, but nothing happened... It was turned off. I walked by... and just as I was about 2 meters from it - it lit up! :-/

On my way back, I was looking at it (it was lit up), thinking if it will turn itself off when I walk past. There were about 4-5 people walking ahead and behind me. They all walked by, but nothing happened. Nothing happened when I was 2 meters from it. I thought - finally - those were just co-incidences. Next thing I know is it turned itself off, when I crossed it. :-/

What would you attribute this to?

Friday, May 20, 2005

GPS and Teleportation stuff

So I went on another information gathering spree today. Researched Global Positioning Systems and the possibility of Teleportation among other things (both triggered by discussions going on at the MIT Forum on CC). So here's a quick summary (in an effort to fill the void of "technogadgetory" articles on my blog - look at the About box!).

Global Positioning System - An incredible achievement by any standards. This system of satellites allows anyone to pinpoint their location on this planet within a few tens of meters, using nothing but a handheld "receiver." There are two major constellations, one by the US Air Force (the one which is actually called "Global Positioning System"), and the other: the Russian Glonass constellation. The method they use is pretty neat - triangulation. Head over straight to Trimble for a fun, interactive description of all there is to know about GPS.

Teleportation - Another interesting topic. Contrary to what you may think, teleportation is scientifically possible (i.e. not just a Sci-fi fantasy). The only difference is, teleportation means transmission of information about how to re-create an object rather than transmitting the whole object itself.

A lot of interesting topics surfaced during my journey through the web. The basic idea was first proposed by scientists at IBM Research Lab (one of the places I'd really like to work at, another being Xerox PARC), while the first actual teleportation was carried out by Caltech researchers in 1997. It revolves around the concept of quantum entanglement. Head over to this page for a lucid explanation.

Interesting stuff!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

While you are sleeping

Ever wondered what causes dreams? Nightmares? Where are we while we are asleep?

On a purely scientific level, the picture may not be as clear as we'd like it to be, but on a philosophical/pseudo-scientific level, it is pretty well understood. I have read up on quite a lot of literature about (lucid) dreams, astral projection et al. Some are religious texts, some are theosophical, still others claim to be quasi-scientific studies.

There are many references to sleep and dreaming in ancient Hindu texts. According the Prasna Upnishad (Fourth question), while a person is asleep, all their senses "roll up into a glowing disc." This disc might be thought of as the crown chakra. However, a slightly more 'scientific' treatment is given in the Kaushitaki Upnishad (Fouth chapter, verse 19/20).
And the two together came to a person who was asleep. And Agâtasatru called him, saying: "Thou great one, clad in white raiment, Soma, King" But he remained lying. Then he pushed him with a stick, and he rose at once. Then said Agâtasatru to him: "Bâlâki, where did this person here sleep? Where was he? Whence came he thus back?" Bâlâki did not know.

And Agâtasatru said to him: "Where this person here slept, where he was, whence he thus came back, is this: The arteries of the heart called Hita extend from the heart of the person towards the surrounding body. Small as a hair divided a thousand times, they stand full of a thin fluid of various colours, white, black, yellow, red. In these the person is when sleeping he sees no dream."
Quite clearly, this refers to the fact that a person's consciousness lies in the nervous system, while a person is asleep. Confusing, is it?

Let's now look at the theosophical view. According to it, there are several "planes" of existence, much like several different radio stations on different frequencies. We live in the lowest of them all - the physical plane. Theosophy defines 4 planes:
  1. Physical
  2. Etheric
  3. Astral
  4. Mental
Every human, non-human, and inanimate object has a reflection of it in each of these planes. The physical plane is what we are most familiar with. It consists of our body and the physical organs. The etheric plane is a plane between the Astral and Physical - the "consciousness" part. Think of the body as part of the physical plane, while the "life" (emotions, heartbeat, thought, senses) are the etheric part. Etheric plane is said to be mainly electromagnetic, so it is still pseudo-physical. While we are in light sleep, our consciousness is shifted to the etheric body. It hovers a few inches above our physical.

Then we come to the Astral plane. This is supposed to be the plane where our consciousness shifts while we are in deep sleep. It is the world of the mind. Nothing is impossible here, and everything is controlled by thought. You may or may not have control of your thought process here, however. This gives rise to 1) the regular dreams we have, or 2) lucid dreams in which you are fully aware that you are dreaming and are able to influence the dream world. There are subplanes in the Astral - lower ones are horrific (nightmares) and upper ones are angelic (dreams).

Above the Astral is the mental plane, which most of us lesser mortals can forget about reaching. This plane is said to be totally abstract, with no semblance to the real or even the astral world. You see pulsating colours, moving shapes... This is the plane where deep meditators usually exist in while they meditate (and I mean deep meditators!).

For Western theosphy, the story ends here. However, looking at Oriental theosophy, there still exist at least 3 more planes -
  • Buddhic
  • Anupâdak
  • Âdi
Notice that the names of these three higher planes are in Sanskrit (with the possible exception of the Westernized "Buddhic"). It is a long established fact that ancient Hindu scholars were more conversant with philosophy and science than we today are. Let's look at each of these three planes -

Buddhic - This is the plane where Buddha meditated. It is higher than even the Mental plane. It is said to be a plane of utter one-ness, pure whiteness. In this plane, you are one with the surroundings and your surroundings are one with you. You cease to be an individual creature, and are gender-neutered. All thought and feelings cease to exist.

Anupâdak - This plane is the so-called 'heaven' or 'hell'. This is the 'base camp' of the soul after death, and before re-birth. Since Hinduism believes in life after death, it is only natural for such a plane to exist. The visions of this plane differ according to the individual's belief system - I have so far read only one person's experience (Robert Bruce).

Âdi - The ultimate plane of existence. This is where you achieve "moksha", after the cycle of births and deaths has ended. What it is like is anyone's guess. Perhaps this is the ultimate secret waiting to reveal itself after we die.

But for now, think of where you'll be when you go to bed tonight! Astral? Etheric? :-)

Edit: You read this far? Haha.. here's your reward - a quick dig at US Foreign Policy (sorry guys!).

Sunday, May 15, 2005

If you can't have it, Simulate!

My desktop now sports the OS X Tiger look :-)

Click here to see.

Also, an interesting discussion is going on here, about the universe being deterministic or not. This is one of the topics that has interested me even as a kid...

Friday, May 13, 2005

Want the Mac OS look for your Win XP?

That is easily the best website design I have ever seen. You have to see it to believe it. And don't forget to get their Flyakit OSX v2.0 pack! Out-of-the-world I'd say!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

More songs...

In my previous entry I posted "Aajkal" - a love ballad I especially like.

Here are a few more songs.

Conditions for Peace
- GET IT (3.95 MB)
This is a pure techno track. Built last year under the band name "Seventh Dimension"

Be with me - GET IT (2.83 MB)
Club/house track which I played live in my bedroom one fine evening of 2001 (using a DJ program...) Quite dancey if you ask me. Must get!

Hum Hain - GET IT (4.23 MB)
A dancey Hindi song with an English rap thrown in. Anando said he spoilt the music by adding his vocals... I was flattered ;-) But it's just average.

Na jane kyu - GET IT (4.78 MB)
This was my attempt at creating a fusion-type sound by mixing tablas with BlueJay drumkit. Sounds nice. Pure Indian pop sound though. Note that this is a very rough recording, especially the guitar. It's highly probable that you won't be able to listen to it after 3:30 min!

Saathiya - GET IT (4.85 MB)
Want the 90's movie sound back? Then get this one! Quite dancey as well. This was our first full-blown "production" kinda track. Recorded in Jan 2003. Oh and the movie by the same name came out after we had composed this one (in October)...

Those are all for now. I might upload a couple others sometime, most notably a song featuring my sister on vocals. This song is a combination of techno and rock, and we are divided on whether to call this sound TechRock or TripRock or something entirely different. It's a great one, and you'll like it if you like Linkin Park, for example. Ok that was enough to build an anticipation ;-)

Comment window is always open. Like them or not, let us know!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

For your listening pleasure

Ask and ye shall receive! :-D

Here's one of my favourite songs, "Aajkal" (आजकल).

It's a love ballad we recorded in April '04. Kiersten being a new Bollywood music addict, I chose to upload this first as it's mellow and sounds very Indian. Later, I'll upload some of the other tracks, which range from the out-and-out dancey ones to rock + techno!

The vocals and lyrics are by my friend Anando Mukherjee. Please note that this is only a rough home-recording, not a polished piece recorded in a studio!

Download (MP3, 5.8 MB)

You might also want to download the cue-sheet, which contains the lyrics in Hindi, the chords, and a somewhat acceptable English translation (so that those not familiar with Hindi/Urdu can understand what the heck is going on in the song ;-)).

Previously confined to my home, by uploading this MP3, I'm sort of "releasing" it to the world - so let me also take the opportunity to dedicate this song to a special someone... :-) (You know who you are.)

Enjoy! And leave comments! ;-)

NOTE: All my songs are registered with national copyright agency. Think twice before you plagiarize!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Put your education in perspective

AIEEE being a national exam, all modes of transportation were hogged by students. For the return journey, we only had seats in the driver's cabin. So, we camped in 10 minutes before the bus was supposed to depart.

Our driver was quite fly (for someone in his late 20's, i.e.) and his demeanor was rather hip; looney even (who in their right mind would stick their arm out just to poke fun at a truck charging head on!). He wore a white shirt and blue cargoes, a (possibly) gold bracelet, inverted baseball cap, a chain round his neck, and a tattoo on his right arm. He looked gutsy and we had settled that we're in for a ride...

The cabin was stuffed with people. People of all walks and ages. This particular guy, also returning from the exam, sat next to the driver. The cabin was elaborately arranged, with blinking lights, idol of Laxmi/Ganesh and all that paraphernalia, controlled by a custom-built control panel which looked similar to a resitance box. He even had a CD-based MP3 player hooked up to a multitude of speakers, about which he proudly proclaimed "Gana to raat bhar bajega, ghabrate kyu hai?" (Songs will be played all night, what are you worried about?).

I sat there, looking at the meandering roads, as the bus sped on its way. This was the first time I noticed that roads are indeed banked at an angle on steep turns. He drove fast, denying an elderly person's request to slow down ("Watcha thinking, dada? I'm driving slow and steady, enjoy the view!"). He was more jovial than that, which I realized when woken up all of a sudden by an unabashed display of his vocal talent (at 11 in the night) - "Ek ladki bheegi bhagi si, soti raaton mein jagi si..." - well in tune with the one playing in the background.

I decided to stay awake, witnessing him slip a pill, and overheard a conversation between the driver and the guy next to him. He spoke in lofty Hindi, with a modest sprinkling of common English words and phrases.

Guy: What's the pill for?
Driver: Uh, it helps me stay awake and alert. Have been driving for the past 4 nights; I'm a human after all. [He said this in a cheery, matter-of-fact'ly way].
Guy: Oh.. so why do you do this?
Driver: To stay alive, kid. What do you do? Which test was this?
Guy: Engineering entrance test...
Driver: Mm hmm. How many seats does it have?
Guy: About 20,000. Five hundred thousand take the test I think...
Driver: So the other 480,000 are useless brats, huh?
Guy: Not really.
Driver: Of course they will be. Look at me, I'm one of the kind. Didn't study after 3rd grade. I didn't like to study, I wanted to earn first.
Guy: Hmmmm..
Driver: So do you tutor any children?
Guy: No, why?
Driver: What? Why not! Where do you get your pocket-money from?
Guy: My parents.
Driver: Don't do this. What if you parents are no more? You should do something. You know, the more you learn, the more you can put it to use.
Guy: Yeah I know, but I don't have a lot of time.
Driver: You ought to have a time-table, sonny. Bet you can find the time. I've been earning since I was 12... and I didn't study. My dad said, if I don't study, he won't let me live in the house. So I ran away, it was 1984. Joined a hotel as a waiter, but didn't like the job. So this Punjabi guy taught me how to drive, and I've been driving since 1987 I reckon. I earned money myself, and went home seven years later. Everyone thought I had died. But I did not. Now I'm raising my brothers and sisters. They are all in good colleges, I'm the only one who didn't study. I was the 'dud coin' of the family, you know.
Guy: Hmmmm
At this point, he decided it was time to change the music. He looked back and proclaimed - "Ah, everyone's young blood here! We'll play some for their generation." - while putting in his CD of Kumar Sanu songs.

I slept thinking about it: how have I utilized what I have been given? True, I haven't been given a lot, but no one ever is! It's about using what you have. Most of us have received the best education there is, often times studying in the best school of our cities, states or even countries. Most of us have gotten into equally good colleges. How have we used this, and how do we plan on using this? As children of families who have been able to afford a quality education for us, are we not too myopic to see that those who did not have this education are earning well and loving it?

Some of us have gotten into the school of their dreams, some into their second or third choice, and some are left with only a safety (or none). Never whine about what you have or do not have. Use what you do. Use your opportunities. Make them, if you don't have any. Here I was, bitching about not getting in anywhere in the US; and here this guy is, proud of being able to raise his "learned" siblings without so much as high school education. I urge everyone to understand what a highly privileged situation we are in! When you graduate, use your education to make a difference. Like the driver said to the guy - "If you follow what I say, you will be happier."

So why did I write out this obvious wisdom? I wrote this because I learnt something new by coming face-to-face with it, rather than being told about it. And isn't life supposed to be this way? Revealing itself a little at a time...

Friday, May 06, 2005

Be back on Monday

Hey all,

I'll be out of town for this weekend. Next update will be on Monday.

Adieu ;-)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

De-mixing the remix

The song starts with some thumping kicks. You can’t help stepping in synch with the gyrating music… You hope for the cutting vocals of a pop sensation – instead, you get the familiar tune of an old favourite!

It takes you a while to recognize that you’re listening to a “remix” – the latest phenomenon to hit the Indian music industry. It’s people’s age-old fascination with serving old wine in a new bottle. Pick a golden oldie, or even a golden not-so-oldie, rip the old music, put in new beats and pulsating tones: and you get an instant best-selling hit.

The “remix” originally referred to a slightly altered, often better-sounding version of a song. Today, it has taken on the guise of a totally different, faster and thumpier version, built for one purpose – to make you dance to an otherwise mellow tune. While the original intention still lingers, much of todays music is a remix of an existing song, mellow or not. This remixing-frenzy has taken its toll on the masses, whose tastes in music are now being dictated by what is being fed to them through the television and the radio. Because much of the club-going crowd likes it, the music labels have no problem churning out albums after albums of remixed songs with the same four-to-the-floor beats, often with little to no creativity.

The origins of remixing were very benign - artists themselves released singles of their songs with altered music. Among the more prominent ones were Jagjit Singh’s “Tera chehra”, which was released in two versions simultaneously: one a ghazal and another with pop beats; Asha Bhosle’s “Jaanam Samjha Karo”, an exciting new mix by Leslie Lewis and Biddu’s “Boom boom”, a remixed version of an old composition of his. This experiment was an instant hit, and soon, composers and singers from all strata were jumping on the remix bandwagon, remixing their own tunes frantically. It wasn’t long before a whole new breed of “DJs” started experimenting with remixing other people’s music. This new phenomenon of listening to old favourites in a completely new avatar has taken the whole Indian music industry by storm.

Proponents of remixed music argue that it revives old favourites, giving youngsters access to otherwise forgotten songs which they might never discover themselves. It also opens up lots of doors for collaboration between artists.

So why are genuine lovers of music frowning at it?

Purists claim it leads to stagnation. When all of the latest releases turn out to be remixed versions of existing songs, avid listeners of music are left disappointed. As Sneha, 15, says:
“There’s nothing new left to listen to these days. It’s like a hole in the ozone layer – and it’s growing!”
Some claim the blatant remixing curtails any creativity, while composers take the easier way out: that of building new music around a popular song. Others point out that this is “ruining people’s tastes” since they only get to “hear what’s on.” Somehow the DJs don’t seem to agree to it, as they keep churning out remixes after remixes. This might have a positive side-effect:
“See, by listening to the remix we get to know about the old songs… and then search for the old one, hear the original and realise that the old one is much better!” says Nayan, 18, from Bangalore.
Another new trend that has been seen of late is the so called “DJ-wars” – two or more versions of the same song released by two different DJs simultaneously! They tend to sound alike, but sell like hot cakes, scaling the charts by leaps and bounds while obviously begetting money for the producers.

A slightly more serious problem is that new and upcoming artists with original music find it hard to convince record labels. Remixes are easy to create and easy to sell, making it increasingly difficult for upcoming artists to turn the attention of music companies from the lucrative remix scene to their own music. The Indian music industry is a satellite to the movie industry. About 60% of the music released in India comes from original soundtracks of commercial cinema. Given such a huge proportion, independent musicians who are not involved in composing movie soundtracks find it difficult enough to sustain a profitable career. Remixes are a further threat to them. This is ironic because of the fact that the DJs – musicians who bail out and remix existing music rather than creating original ones - are seeing their popularity (coupled with their bank balance) soar to extraordinary levels.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the remix revolution is the quality of videos that go with it. Indian audience are mostly television-driven rather than radio-driven and what they see has a more direct impact on the market rather than what they hear. With 54% of the population of India being under the age of 25, producers cannot think of a better way to lure hormone-loaded youngsters into buying their albums. Most of the videos that accompany these songs can be classified as soft-porn. The song “Kaliyon ka chaman” by UMI-10 kick started the trend, while DJ Harry’s remix of “Kaanta Laga” broke all barriers. There is now an avalanche release of soft-porn videos accompanying remixes of (ironically) soothing, mellow songs. “I was pretty shocked at the change in the 90's and [also] in 2001 and '03” says Neha, an Indian from Singapore. She continues,
“Though the 'costumes' seem cool, nowadays it seems like a desperate attempt to catch up with the hyped up American/MTV world.”
People who prefer cleaner music videos are also raising concern about the recent upsurge in voyeuristic and the “dirty-old-man” videos. Songs such as “Kabhi ar kabhi par” which featured girls barely 18 in skimpy outfits seem to be the quick and dirty way to sell albums. Add to that the downright offensive ones with implicit taglines such as “Pink pussycat” and the picture bceomes clear about the current state of the industry. This further raises concern about where the highly prided morale of young Indian women (and men) is heading towards. Though there has been an attempt at cracking down at offensive videos via the Censor Board, it has failed miserably; the chief reason being that producers have been careful in not including anything explicitly offensive in the videos. Fortunately, not all youngsters fall into the trap.
“I don’t like remixes. No originality, no spice. Just some women in miniskirts…”
says Ananya, a college-bound from Calcutta.

A side effect of this sudden techno-ization of Indian music is the increasing imitationism. Many of the “remixes” tend to include “samples” from songs other than the one being remixed. The infamous row between Bappi Lahiri and Turth Hurts over using a sample of Lahiri’s song “Kaliyon ka chaman” is but one example of this trend. Most of the time, the music loses touch with the vocals of the original. To the composer, it sounds like an exciting experiment; while the general population perceives it as lunacy if not done correctly.
“They do add some flavour to certain songs, but sound really stupid on slow ones. The english lyrics sound bad usually, as in a complete anti-climax to have a fast rap with a melodious Lata Mangeshkar tune,” says Neha.
This is because most remixers tend to make their compositions sound like an extension to popular western culture rather than preserving the original, Indian flavour of the song. More often than not, the beats and the music leave much to be desired. Who listens to it then? As Ananya puts it,
“[Many] of my friends do, but that’s mainly because they cannot discriminate. They like everything – so long as it has beats they can dance to, it’s OK.”
She continues, “I do see lots of remixes for tonnes of songs, but many [sound] redundant or bad.” This increasing alienization with harmony and concord is what avid listeners of music frown at.

Is there a way out of this mess?

There are a number of ways to maintain the exclusivity of remixes. Lots of international artists, Paul Oakenfold and Robbie Williams being two of the prominent ones, create covers or remixes of old songs. However, they do it only sporadically. This maintains a novelty value. The Indian government has gone so far as to restrict remixing of songs that are less than two years old. Copyright laws must be amended in accordance. A greater responsibility lies with the music companies, however. They must understand the damage being done, and take steps to resolve the issues that have sprung up. For instance, they must restrict themselves to releasing only a modest number of remix albums, and turn their attention to bringing new and upcoming artists into the limelight. It is however, a natural argument that what sells is what they produce. At this point, we, as the consumers, must also try to seek out new music ourselves.

Whether this trend continues or not remains to be seen. What’s certain is that people are gradually becoming tired of this phenomenon. As Ananya puts it, “I don’t know if this will fizzle out or not, but I hope it does!”

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Here I will wait, of course

I like poetry that I can make sense of. Sometimes I read something that gets stuck on my mind, and when the occasion comes, the same few sentences seem to speak out loud - proving that the author didn't write it for no reason. Though there have been unforgettable verses by masterminds like Rober Frost or Eliot, sometimes the works of an unknown author make a bigger impact. I'd like to share one such verse* -
And here I will wait, of course
Until you return
For now I will be silent
And let my heart burn

Need I say anything more about the beauty of these words?

*It's the last stanza from a longer poem titled "Where did I lose you" written by a poet on DeviantArt. You can read the complete poem here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

On a high tower

I like sitting on a high tower... or some other place of greater altitude, and looking down from there. People bustling about, the vehicles moving on meandering roads - everyone to their own job. It gives me access to a slightly larger view of things, to decipher the Grander Scheme. I contemplate the point of it all.

What's the point? Why is everyone rushing to wherever they are going? What if they don't make it there? What will be lost?


This world is based on a set of rules. Some are logical, some are not. So what makes everyone follow these rules? Why, for example, do we demand an equal compensation for equal work? Why do we love to live rather than die? It is perhaps the greatest mystery to me.

But that doesn't stop me from sitting atop a high tower, looking down, people bustling, vehicles moving on meandering roads... the shadow of an invisible person beside me.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


I have a special attachment to the Orion constellation.

It was in 8th grade when I managed to get access to the British Council Library. At the library, I chanced upon quite a few books on stargazing - you know, big colorful catalogues. I started looking for info about telescopes and other things related to astronomy. Soon after, I found this book called Skywatching by David Levy (he co-discovered the comet which hit Jupiter recently). And in this book I read about Orion - its shape, the suit, club, belt, sword... I was awe-struck at the vividness of thought displayed in its majestic form. I was hooked.

Every night, I used to go up to the terrace and look at the night-sky. I connected random stars with imaginary lines, trying to form a pattern that resembled the shape of the Orion constellation. I failed so miserably. I started to believe that stargazing isn't that easy after all. It was in the summer, a month after I had started looking for Orion, that this fact struck me - Orion must be below the horizon when I looked for it!

So the next morning, I got up at 3:30 A.M. Since I slept alone upstairs, I ran up to the terrace and looked up - and I saw Orion! It was so immediately recognizable! It did not need even the slightest effort to find out the peculiar organization of stars that we now call the Orion constellation. It was like the sky parted and Orion dropped down from the heavens and stuck to the sky for me to find it. It was magical.

I looked straight down to the other side, and saw the Pleiades, a cluster of seven stars (to the naked eye). I looked further and recognized the brightest star - Sirius. I kept wandering from star to star, from one constellation to the other, with the dexterity of a seasoned astronomer. It felt like I had known them for ages - like they were my own friends waiting for me to find them!

I got addicted. I started building telescopes for myself. 10x magnification, 2" objective. I started gazing the night sky with it. During the night I counted stars in Pleiades (I remember more than 30) and mapped the moon. During the day I projected the sun's image and charted the positions of black spots. I read about the Orion nebula (the one that's talked about in the movie Men In Black - but they called it the "galaxy"). It appeared as a fuzzy spot in Orion's sword (below its belt). My telescope made it appear like a slightly bigger fuzzy spot - enough to send me in a frenzy!

It was amazing. I started getting familiar with the night sky, tackling one constellation at a time. By the time I finished with Orion and Vega, the library closed down. Left with no other library, I searched for the book everywhere, but couldn't find it. So I stopped.

Even today, I feel Orion is looking over me from above, smiling, protecting and guiding me through.

Switching to

As of 2nd May, 2005, I am switching from Xanga to Blogger. Though there might be occasional posts and/or updates on my Xanga blog, I will be using this blog mostly. Blogger allows a lot of freedom and control, and some nifty features that Xanga doesn't have.

I have migrated some of my recent blog entries from Xanga to Blogger.

All visitors - feel free to comment! :-)