Friday, July 28, 2006

At The Core And At The Periphery

Research is not just about academics. Nor is it just the other thing one does in life. It is like a journey towards eternity: a coveted voyage and a never ending excitement in life!

I am a newbie in this domain. Still, I believe deciding on a PhD program has been one of the most marvellous decisions I have ever taken in my life. Research has been intertwined in my life ever since. It has delved into every nook and corner of my life, my passions, my thoughts, my every day doings. It has made my life so different!

Things are not so red and rosy in this arena as it might seem to be. Since my childhood I had this wonderful inclination towards new things around us. I was always moved by these novel hunt for the surge of newer thoughts, explanations, beliefs, endeavors; till, I came to know that this is what they call to be 'research'. But it was never so easy: the technology submerged and exposure congested ambience around us in India always put a bar to kids thinking on the unconventional lines of a career: and I was no exception! But I am happy that, my ever long desire to stand differently in life and somewhat aversion from the mundane thoughts did not dry up the old borne desires of hitting challenging things in life. And I came here, the much proclaimed 'Land of Opportunities' for the first and the final endeavor of my life!

Yeah, this is the first and the 'final' endeavor. Because I believe, human beings can be sincere to only one endeavor in life: and the priviledge goes to 'research' in my case. For me, it has widened up newer horizons, for I believe, research is not just another job you would do 8 hours a day and then it would dwindle away from your mind. It is something which is ever persistent: not the work, but the essence of it. And experiencing that essence changes your life altogether! I feel as if my mind is now 'open', it is 'free' and this feeling of freedom, believe me, is so different and captivating!

Research is not knowledge, neither information. It is a perennial source of acquired wisdom, something which is much above the former two. And it is this wisdom which would nurture the difference in everything: it sows the seed to reap harvest on a 'complete' world by the attempts to mitigate the 'incomplete' things. And that is what which would make one feel so 'complete' in the end.

Research is a committment, a life long committment for me. Getting at its core, do you experience its beauty and finding answers to the problems around you, you cull out answers for your own 'self' being: in a manner as though one has been destined to do this through the life as it comes. At the core and at the periphery, the world gathers more meaning, the horizon extends to infinity and you strive to be just a part of it!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Orkut: The Status Quo Of Today

Now it has been long in the minds of everyone who has been there around in Orkut since quite a while. Isn't there kind of a 'status quo' associated with certain things in Orkut which would define someone to be 'active' or 'popular' or 'famous' on Orkut? I am sure you understand what I mean!

Here are some of the things I think could be branded as the parameters of this 'virtual' status quo in this 'virtual' social community worldwide:

(1) Number of Friends: The bigger your friend list is, the more status you have. It is so because, it reflects how huge loads of friends you have made till this time. And being able to make more friends has a common conception (or misconception?) that the person has an amazing outgoing and amicable personality, a direct indication of being able to stand out in the crowd, more status in the vitual community!

(2) Number of Fans: Perhaps one of best things that has made Orkut so much popular is its notion of being fans of your liked few. Should you have more fans (hilariously preferably of the opposite sex!), it means how you are liked by all around you, more diverse shades in your personality!

(3) Number of Scraps: What does that indicate about Status Quo, I am sure you might be wondering! Well, in my view, I think it potently declares how good (or bad) communicator you are. Of course, should you have loads of scraps in your scrapbook, it also does hint that people around you are concerned/interested about you. Don't you think that these things count towards being a person who can direct, lead, mingle with people? Does not the number of scraps then qualify to be a parameter of Orkut's Status Quo?

(4) Fans-to-Friends Ratio: This is another interesting aspect to look at while analysing this Orkut Status Quo thing. What it defines is a parameter called Orkut Performance! Imagine a person who has just joined Orkut, may be three months back. Her/his fans-to-friends ratio would dictate a farsight into her/his Status Quo. How? See, should this ratio be same as the ratio of another person who has been in Orkut for a while and has decent status on Orkut, with current friend count more than the former, it can be predicted that the former is going to gain more or at least as much popularlity on Orkut as the latter soon in the coming times!

(5) Orkut Album and Profile: They are clear enough indicators. More impressive the profile is, the more expressive you are. The more the tendency towards unusual tastes and variegated photos (especially of your travel in distant lands!), the more does the status creep up!

(6) Testimonials: They are there to testify the varous shades of your personality. People would write their friends' testimonials as though the friend has been the best and the most perfect person in the whole of the Earth! The more of your friends indulge in this act, the more proof does it bear to your acquired status!

(7) Communities: People visiting your profile really 'dig' into your communities. A varied tasteful person would subscribe to so many elite taste oriented communities: it would give the other person a bird's eye view of your overall personality as a whole. The impression the person would conjecture out of that conjures up your status in her/his mind.

There can be many other things also. Some of you might disagree on the whole notion of 'status' associated with a virtual social community; or some of you might be thinking I am crazy about analysing an issue which is dumped with fake profiles, so what is the point in wasting time over surmises of the associated status. But I think these things would always be there. Are not there people with fake identification in your real world?

I firmly believe in the notion of these virtual social networks, not because that is one of my areas of research, but because it is something which I feel has been a boon of technology with an incessant target to hold and knit this disintegrating world together!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Difference: Why Or Is It Worth It?

Have you ever wondered the ill consequences of we, the human beings, being able to 'think' and 'feel'? Ask me, I would say, these are the worst things for which I would curse Darwin's Theory of Evolution!

We, the human beings, 'think', build up all different kinds of relationships, cheer, enjoy, share, fight and the relationship grooms. We generate as a consequence, more and more expectation out of the world around us, the people, the relationships, be it parents, friends, spouse or boss! But as you see the things sailing all smoothly in the waves of time, there is this one unruly wind which comes and blows away everything: leaving little or no marks or remnants of our treasured relationships over time. They are the toughest times: we get upset, we lose our strengths, we 'feel' as though the life has come to an end. We still try our best to make all ends meet, to grab a shaft in the profound dark waters: sometimes, to only meet a fag end eventually. Still we never give up, we dream of newer dreams, 'think' of brighter things and in course of time we by hook or by crook cull out a way, a motive to keep you boat of time sailing forever!

So as we started off in the beginning of the blog, we 'think', we 'feel'. How is it so? Do other animals/plants also 'feel' or 'think'? What is their rationale of life to them? Is it just survival and reproduction? Or more wide horizons as us: better lives materially, good career, advancing technologies, fruitful and potent relationships? Are those living beings hurt the same manner as us? Do they fall in love like us? Or more appropriately, do they fall apart and then again gather strength to get to life when a precious segment of life, say relationship would sever?

Many of you would say that 'no': they do not have a brain, or a less developed brain to think to this extent. But don't they have their definition and parameters of living? They do have all the basic instincts as us, fighting for survival or finding an apt mate: so why not 'emotions'?

To argue, if they do not at all have these traits, then why 'we'? Why is it the human beings who have to be so different and probably as bad to suffer on feelings? If you would say, it is something which has been inherent in the fact that human beings rule the world today and not lizards or rhinos, then I have a question for you: has this authoritativeness brought mirth to the world, or has just been another ill consequence of we being able to 'think' or 'feel'? Intelligence the 'cause' and 'mental suffrage' and 'termination' at the end?

You are to answer, are these kinds of abilities in human beings, a boon indeed? The difference, why, or is it worth it?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

We, The People

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Visit to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia last weekend was a different experience altogether. Probably it was a feeling that makes everyone, be it an American or not, to experience a very unique feeling altogther: as if you are a part of this piece of land since eons, as if you are obliged to feel proud at its achievements. Talking practically probably it is just because of the way they present it; or may be something else, but I truly loved that feeling! Experiencing that wonderful feel is now like a coveted cherished dream deep down my heart.

As would the preamble dictate, I don't know why I find it as captivating our very own India's preamble. A strange sense of freedom and liberty runs through the who of your mind: its unforgettable.

After my visits to Washington DC and Philadelphia, called the 'Home of Freedom" that is, the place where the declaration of American Independence was made, I somehow have arrived at this conclusion that the Americans really project very 'wide' their sense of freedom, their liberty, their power, their huge realm of achievenments in every sphere; talk about their National Air and Space Museum in DC showing all those real NASA rockets, Appollo or the first plane of the Wright brothers all of which have revolutionized the progress on the roads of mankind, or be it the delegate session in National Constitution Center in Philadelphia conjuring up the whole scene of declaration of American Independence. I found it to be really awesome because it aroused a sense of pride among everyone and kind of, in a way, recapilutated all what US has done towards the betterment of the mankind, whatever may have been the actual motives!

I was just wondering why is the scene so different in India. Even on August 15 or January 26, not even a handful of us feels proud over our achievements; just tell me how many Indians know that the progress we have made in these 59-60 years since Independence, its one of the most peaking in such a small duration as well as something everyone of us should be proud of.

I don't mean all Americans are patriotic. Nor do i say that Indians are unpatriotic. But one thing I believe the difference lies in where the former knows that they are a part of a strong nation, a segment of a strong cluster of mankind, and that feeling takes care of everything. But unfortunately it is the exact opposite in India. We feel gloomy, we feel insecure, we feel left out, we feel inferior; although a careful invetigation will only reveal that we have as many things to feel proud of as are things to feel gloomy. So better look at the brighter aspect; and then there would be no reason to say, I am an NRI, not an Indian!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dim Sum Vs Momo!

Yesterday finally had this expeirence, tried this new thing: Dim Sum! Italy won and coupled with a bored weekend trail, just thought of eating out. But was in no way interested in getting ready and going out: a mile's walk from the dorm. What just clicked to my mind is ordering something home. Moreover some colleague told me earlier that there are these few eateries (specially Chinese andThai ones) nearby in and around the beach who make 'free' home delivery! The next thing, pick their menu and dial their number...

Yeah but I needed to decide what to eat: espcially I being a very much Chinese/Thai cuisine person, it takes a while to decide. So with a lot of vigor, started off reading their menu from the very beginning: what just flashed by was this 'Dim Sum'. I thought 'wow' that would be great to order! The final menu: Dim Sum and Spring Rolls... ymmm...

On eating I found Dim Sums quite resembling those Indian momos: the specials of the north-eatern India, specially Guwahati or Shillong! Next was thus a 'cyber' research on the difference and similaries between the two!

They say that originally a Cantonese custom, dim sum is inextricably linked to the Chinese tradition of "yum cha" or drinking tea. Travelers journeying along the famous Silk Road needed a place to rest, so teahouses began springing up along the roadside. Rural farmers, exhausted after long hours working in the fields, would also head to the local teahouse for an afternoon of tea and relaxing conversation. Still, it took several centuries for the culinary art of dim sum to develop. It was originally considered inappropriate to combine tea with food - in fact a famous 3rd century Imperial physician claimed this would lead to excessive weight gain. However, as tea's ability to aid in digestion and cleanse the palate became known, tea house proprietors began adding a variety of snacks, and the tradition of dim sum was born.

More research went on. What is it, exactly? Let's start with what it is not. If you're the type that enjoys browsing through a menu, then a dim sum restaurant is not for you. There's no ordering; instead you choose from a wide assortment of snacks that the waiters bring out on carts and trays. Also, if you're looking to have a romantic lunch, then a dim sum restaurant probably isn't a good choice. First off, the atmosphere is hardly conducive to romance, what with the clattering of trays, people calling out their orders, and large groups of people talking at each table. Besides, the best way to enjoy dim sum is with a large group; otherwise you'll fill up on a few items and miss the opportunity to sample everything!

Now momo is the other name of the traditional Tibetian dumplings (Dumplings is again Chinese!). The two are similar in the sense that both are steamed and both are stuffed with minced or grounded chicken/beef or pork (anything else do you know?)! There is also yet another weird variation for momos in Sikkim: cheese, usually fresh cheese stuffing!

Now you can enoy some great taste of dim sum (but sorry, just for your eyes!) in the pic here above!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Finally, made it for the Trip: Boston Is Here...

It had been a much waited weekend: the 4th of July. An escape from those rigorous office schedules, many a times boring, many a times too melancholy. It just occurred to my mind that time is ripe to go around and visit the bare miminum places: you see, when you are staying on the east coast for 3 months! Count on the weeks and find that it has been 5 weeks already, and not many good places I have been, save liberty and simply loitering around 42nd St Broadway and watch those plays (which, to me, are good one-time-see, but not more than that!). Even those hot dogs are not enough to keep you engrossed for even a single day beyond 5 weeks!

The issue, might be sounding a bit weird, but the prime motivation for the trip was not really places, it was an escape from that haunted, lone, cold, dull, gloomy ambience of south Jersey. A break was then a mere necessity...

Landed up in Boston on Saturday late night: imagine, first time experience: slept the rest of the night in Boston South Station. But now one thing I know, nights in city's din and bustle are not that bad, provided you are not concerned about your security! When woke up at 8 am on Staturday or something, the neck was really aching bad: the ill postured sleep!

Started off to get the subway to New England Aquarium. Nice place out, surrondings quite a lot resemblign those of old-now-modern cities like London. Star fishes, Jelly fishes, Penguins and Sharks: all captured in that 512 MB new card I bought from the Manhattan mall the day before. Time to leave for the Science Park.

Dinosaurs, NASA and everything. More captivating part was although left to the end when we were about the leave for the Boston Tea Party Ship. It was a wonderful river side view from the background of the Science Park, as you see here above.

Boston Tea Party Ship was a different experience altogether. Very different touch from those perceptions of a busy city: much reminding of the days European colonies in US. And it was there where I ventured finally to try some proper seafood: guess what! oyesters! It was a simple oyester sandwich, but tasted awesome, esecially in an ambience surrounded by ships and cruises, an old harbor and a distant skyline!

Left was the major attraction of Boston: the freedom trail. It was evening by that time and I was really tired. Still how could I miss that 2.5 mile walk on the freedom trail? The biuldings on the freedom trail were special, built in the olden times and keeping up those heritage and the rich American culture that was imported from Europe. Far away were those huge buildings well lit like a busy city. The contrast was really vivid!

The trip and the day as well ended when we boarded the chinatown bus from South Station again in the evening. Passing by, I could see those directions to board buses for Montreal and all, and a sweet, quiet but passionate urge crept inside me: when will I ever make it to more beautiful places?