Sunday, November 26, 2006

Live And Let Live...

This post is basically a repercussion produced as a result of reading this post from Ramblings
Basically a lot of hue and cry have been going on about banning the social networking site Orkut because of allegations like there 'exists' some community or the other which 'hurts' the sentiments of people due to some 'anti' behavior. And this is not the first time, but we all know that even Blogger was banned in India for sometime due to some insensible allegations.
The grave issue is not whether the petitions are sensible or not. Nor am I encouraing the spread of anti-shivaji or anti-india or anti-hindu or anti-sikh or anti-communist behavior. But I think in all of the successful democracies, a key authority that the people have is their freedom of speecha nd expression, irrespective of whether it is India or US. A person does have the right to express what his or her points of view are, even if they are not amiable to certain group of people. And we should respect one's freedom of expression.
History bears the proof how politics and self-interests have debarred the advent of computers initially and then Internet in certains states in India: the 'dumb' reason being cited as, computer automation would cut down the need for employed people and thereby create unemployment (although now time and the sensex bears the proof of the contribution of IT to India's GDP). And secondly Internet was strongly discouraged because it was labelled as a source of depiction of derogatory elements like nudity and pornography. And lastly, social networking sites like Orkut.
There can be two reasons behind such a parochial outlook on the part of these people who have submitted petitions. One, they are really parochial. Two, the political benefits. Althought he latter seems more likely, yet I do not find any good reason why they cannot look at the brighter side of the coin!
Needless to say, Social Networking is the answer to tomorrow's questions be it commerce, employment (Linked In), dating (Friendster), generic public interests like photography (Flickr, Blogger) or even more generic maintenance of social ties between people (Orkut, Myspace, Facebook). I agree everything is not so red and rosy: courtesy, hike in spamming techniques (Gazzag). But yeah, no doubt, the notion of social networking on the virtual world is bound to take newer strides in different walks of our life.
Let us look at the brighter side of the coin. I personally agree that Orkut has worked wonders for me: I could find so many long lost friends whom I was probably never destined to meet otherwise, as well as could make new. And I know so many other people who would agree with me.
I have seen Orkut 'grow' in the Indian intellectual class, since early 2003. I know how much Orkut has delved into being a part of the lives of many today (including me). Is it justified to punish 95 people for the sake of 5 bad elements?
The answer is of course NO. These 5 elements exist in our real physical world too! Are they conflicting and/or hurting our thoughts and views? May be or may not be. We are not really concerned. We just need our little space to live: live and let live is what we believe in. So why cannot we do the same for those 5 bad elements on Orkut?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Analysis 2006... Wishes 2007...

Although it is not yet about time to analyze 2006's accomplishments, draw in the 'not-achieved's, swear in the new goals or pragmatically single out the wishlists, still I think I know what to analyze and they are pretty simple and straight-forward this time.
This is has not been too bad; probably better than 2005. The reason being, I believe I have made some of the good decisions in 2006 which I think can cull into being 'better' in the long run. Also was I finally able to do/accomplish some of the nicest things I always wanted in life. And what tops the list is the 3 month stay in New Jersey, at stone's throw from New York City: the city I always wanted to be in! And this great experience is all attributed to the summer internship: an experience which both academically and professionally has boosted my confidence by leaps and bounds. Today, given a task, I know it is anyhow 'do-able' however difficult it might be! And yeah the joy in my research. I think it is one of the best things that has happenned in my life! I think I am close to the saying 'research is life...'. Now fingers crossed about some of the most interesting experimental results that I am awaiting in early 2007 from my current research endeavors.
Also although not a very calculated step, but I think my joining the AME lab has been another good happenning for me. I think it perfectly fits in with my philosophy towards research: the inter-twining with the practicalities of life.
Going to core academics, yeah you consider grade-wise, this year has not been anything extra-ordinary.I am still away from clinching a 4.0 GPA. But I am not really worried about that. But may be one of the good things I would like to happen to me in 2007 is probably a 4.0 soon.
And the India trip coming up. Really excited to meet parents after such a long time. And then my very own India: the food, the land, the placidness reigning everywhere. And then my home, sweet home back in Agartala! Too excited to wait till December 25th!
And other than cooking and writing, I think I have discovered two more hobbies for myself this year: a constant source of pleasure, captivity, placation, comfort and satisfaction. And they are photography and reading. I find tremendous boost in my daily life activities with indulgence in some active hobby always. Hope I continue with them for a long time, after this experimental phase.
And lastly but not the least, my wish lists for 2007. Wait, till my more relaxed 'happy-go-shopping' mood post for that! But I can say precisely, they are also pretty straight-forward: a car and a DSLR.
Neither of them is a necessity. But yeah I need both probably. A car makes life easier, and probably open the door for me to explore another hobby: travelling. I have enjoyed travelling in summer and so I am positive about that!
And then the DSLR. Although I am a bit confused if it should be a DSLR or one of the very good non-SLR-point-and-shoot ones like Canon S2 IS. But I would definitely like to explore the options of a Canon Rebel XT or a Nikon D50 or D70. And sufficed with a decent raneg lens like 18-70 mm...
Wish, wish, wish...!!! Lets see what 2007 has in store for me!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Find Which Celebrity You Look Like!!... Cool Stuff!!

Well this is what they ( guys' Face Recognition System judges that I look like!! I am pretty amazed!! Try it out yourself!! Fun stuff. But really like this kind of applications of pattern recognition aspects on the open web. Research unfolding newer realms!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

An Excerpt From My Live Diary

Probably the most complicated of all the things whether a boon or a curse on this Earth are relationships; of any nature, parents, children, friends, partners or spouses! One can slip being too bad or even too good at them. And I am one of all those persons who has seen the latter thing happen more often in my life than the former.
Yeah, I mean all the times when you tend to be really good, caring and sweet at somebody and the person on the other end of the table would not interpret it that way. And then one fine day, you would come to know that the other person was simply conforming to the care and goodness just as a part of giving a vent to your goodness and not really appreciating it. Even if you have the slightest emotional attachment to that person, you are bound to feel as doomed as it can be knowing about this.
I am not being pessimist after these dooming experiences. Because I am know I am happy yet pensive since I have lived up to the expectations of a relationship as I think it to be. Nor am I the kinds who would get to the bar tomorrow and get drunk and 'bitch' about those relationhips. But yeah, I think my age-old notion that guys are a genre I do not like, is probably strengthened after this. The next time I get drunk I will probably be more critical about the masculine folk: if not I get too feminist!
The proper ventilation to this: 'abstract' photography! Yeah, I think I can ventilate all my thoughts through one or the other mundane object around me. And yeah writing. These two are the two blocks which have never belied me since years; writing more, since photography is more new.
Needless to say, this blog, unlike the generic, thoughtful and issue-centric ones which I generally cater to, is more like a personal note from an excerpt from my live diary.

A Temporal Transition

One of the most cherishing and coveted experiences I always wanted to have after coming to US was the Football here. Well yeah, I am talking of 'american' football, which is supposedly the 'heart throb' of both young and the old here: much like cricket in India. So finally grabbed this opportunity to go and watch the ASU vs UCLA game yesterday evening at the Sun Devil Stadium. It was a totally instantaneous decision by me and another friend and we were very much excited! What was just putting us away from the 'football fever' here in the weekends all through the Fall was that we are going to be singled out in the match crowd because we did not wear the Maroon-Gold Tee (read, supporters of ASU). But that was not good enough a reason to subside our sudden decision to go. The evening when I was skeptical to spend even $10 for a drink or dinner, the thought of going to the watch the game threw all the economizing strategies to thin air! I was ready to spare $15 for a first time real football experience!
Leave aside what the result of the game was. It was very vivid to me that ASU will lose to UCLA since it has been really a bad season for us this time. But the only pushing factor that kept me captivated all the time was the experience.
The first thing, it was my first 'stadium' experience of any match. Even though being a huge cricket fan back home in the nineties, never came in lines with an opportunity to watch a cricket match in any stadium. So this footbal thing, though not my 'yet' favorite cricket, was going to be interesting for me! The second thing was of course, getting the 'feel' of the Football in US!
So many times had I heard about the profuse popularity of Football, but I only got to gauge it qualitatively and quantitatively watching the game in the stadium. The most interesting thing is, even if your team is playing badly, you can pass your time watching at the people, rather the attires of them! And I am serious. How weirdly people would dress up to show their support to a team! It was amazing! And then the entertainment that comes in between the quarters and at the half time. Impressive stuff: you can always have something exciting beyond the game! The feel of the 'fever' was great indeed!
Coming back and jotting down my feelings here, I am kind of feeling nostalgic now. I feel like going back to those times when a cricket match playing India as one team used to be one of the nerve-recurring actions and events for one and all of us; those times when we would put cricket on top of probably everything else! And then the joy when Sachin would score a century! A feeling as though of 'self' accomplishment!
I was actually surprised that I literally went back to those memories; more because after the match-fixing thing, I was totally heart-broken and left watching matches for good. But I think this time, trying to enkindle the passion for Football as an ASUrite, I managed enkidling my old passion for cricket to a great extent. I would now agree, "Old habits die hard!" A frivolous event has struck a 'temporal transition' in me...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cultural Mismatch

I do not know why, but it is so true I miss my days back in India. They were not the best of the academic days or may be that was not the best place for the best career or the best opportunities, but there was a 'life'. I have a laptop, an apartment and a lab now, nothing else...
It has been 14-15 months in US. Initially I used to feel very bored whenever I did not have any work to do in the weekends. I then thought that may be this because it is a whole new place, new people, new culture and new lifestyle here; may be it is because I did not have enough friends till then to hang around with. But surprisingly enough, I undergo the same mental block even today after so long, whenever I am free and do not have many deadlines to meet.
This eventually goaded me to discuss the same issue with some of my close friends. And it seems, they too think alike!
I concluded that there is a basic difference in the perspectives of 'enjoying' or spending good 'life' in the two cultures. Life in India bore a different color and wore a new hue everyday, every hour. There was a very closely knit social clique of very good, good and okay friends. And whether or not all of them thought alike, there was a common goal: the affinity for fun together. And fun was hanging out, eating out, riding bikes, going to long rides, sharing the same aaloo chat roadside, visits to the beach, long walks, bunking classes for movies, late night TV browsing, night long talks, 24X7 yahoo messenger and what not! The list can go on...
'Fun' in America is very different and has only a few dimensions. When people here would say they enjoyed the weekend, they mean they party'ed last night. Yeah, parties with drinking, smoking, girls and may be doping. I do not say drinking, smoking, girls or doping are bad. It is foolish to be so judgmental and I believe it is a personal choice and I do not have any problems in any. But it is both astounding and sad at the same time that fun has so less of meaning in America. And when you talk of friends, mostly you will end up with people aired with an artificiality.
I know I will not ever have the kinds of friends I had in India. I know I cannot ask out a friend for a pani poori session by the roadside some Saturday evening. I know I cannot go crazy and start off on a bike ride at 3 am in the morning. I know I cannot spend the whole night near the dam with friends waiting to see the sunrise. But this is what I sought for...
I know I can ask out a labmate for a drink together. I know I can call in all my acquiantances some Friday night and party together with Corona bottles. I know I can go shopping with my female friends a Sunday afternoon. But this is 'not' what I sought for...