Thursday, July 31, 2008

Truly, Madly, Deeply :)

This defines my current mood today. Dedicated to all of whom I have loved or still do! I know if you are reading this blog, you would know!

However, life and love are transitory to a great extent. Roads merge and part, we meet and part with a host of people, things and happenings. Everything gets swept in the lashing waves of life. What remains is the feel of it. So there it is...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Time Travel

I was listening to the title song of Kuch kuch hota hai tonight. It was a movie profusely popular in my friend circle back in those times (1998) and I personally loved it, since it talked about the love (triangle) among three young school-going people, very much like all of us. And suddenly I found the lyrics to take me back to those times. Then, falling in love was so beautiful, matched exactly what the song had to say "ab to mera dil jaage na sota hai...".

The contrast between then and now amazes me widely! Not that I don't believe in falling in love anymore, in fact, I still believe that it is possible that we fall in love, everything becomes pretty around us and then there is no looking back. But the perception is somehow very different. Falling in love then (if at all it was love!) was really amazing, it was like flying with all multi-colored wings in the blue sky, a background adorned by all the best things and happenings and where life merged with the movie-akin romance.

For some reason which I don't know, I have been treading the path of the past pretty often of late! Times like ten years back; my thoughts then and the perspective of life I had then (if at all I understood all this that point of time!). Whatever the reason is, the backwards time travel has been very interesting. I have enjoyed it every time, irrespective of whatever memory time pulled up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Self-quotes and their analysis

"I am trying to rise above all earthly desires; it is only papers that I care about now."

This was a statement I made to a friend sometime back about why and how I am looking forward to life, after all the things happened which I didn't want to.

However, how many times are we really capable of doing that? I thought you merely need one reason to live, one motivation to move forward in life. And it could be anything. Though I have hunted down that one reason to live, there is something somewhere else, lying around in some corner of my mind, that iches time and again; making me realize, may be there are two reasons you need in life. So that when things don't seem to be going much right on one end, you always have another reason to cling to. Let's see what the future says about this reasoning!


"Certain memories make me nostalgic."

Today I was talking to another friend of mine, when we stuck on the topic of how we associate certain specific happenings, events to specific people at different points of time. We were talking about how we would associate certain music with our past crushes, with past relationships, with exam results, or simply with the dreams we used to cherish then. Somehow today afternoon I ran into one of those kind of music back from 2001 which reminded me of several things at that point of time - it was those times when we were bursting with hopes, plans, dreams to start an altogether new kind of life (right after 12th grade finals). And then there was the odd feeling of how things of the past 12-15 years would seep down in the sands of time. Probably some of those will never revert back. They would just exist there.

But there is one very interesting point I noted about being nostalgic about those memories. Somehow I could recall only the red and rosy things; even the stress that used to torment us then feels so different now. It was the times of hopes, zero responsibilities and zealous pursuits.

I don't mean that life has been stripped of fun and hopes now. But somehow it is very different. I think life is now more shallow; our thinking is less convoluted, and our subscription to principles and rules are rather flexible. We no longer dream we could be astronauts. We no longer dream of life to be exactly like a romantic-comedy movie. We longer dream that we could change the world in a day with our accomplishments. We are more mature now; we know our little grounds. We cherish dreams, we plan, but only those which we know we are capable of. And when the gone-by memories sometimes come back to you, you feel nostalgic and going back to those times gives a very astounding feeling.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Checker-board

I like it when I find my life like a checker-board - everything laid out in a proper manner which I know, and every move that I would make is calculated and as per the current circumstances and future happenings. I am never confused; and I do exactly what I want to do in life.

But how many times does life really happen like that? I am not sure: and that is one of the major complains I have all the time - why cannot I embark on a decision or take a footstep towards something conclusively? Why is so many times a layer of uncertainty dwelling over the skies of our hopes and plans?

Hopes and those moves on life's checker-board that goad towards fulfilling some goal or the other keeps me going all the time. As a matter of fact, whenever some cloud of uncertainty would overcast them, life gets all the more interesting. It opens up newer avenues to take life as a challenge and not succumb to it.

That's why I don't like times when I don't have anything to do, anything to look forward to. I find life too hollow then - the captivating moves of the twists and turns in life make it lively and worth living!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Mere Existential Things...

Life sometimes surprises me big time: things which you would never expect happen and then leave a trace somewhere in some corner. But may be that's just a trace, may be it does not have any significance in the future, whatsoever.

Trying to come to terms with this seemingly true fact. Not quite up for it though. Because I think, whatever happens in life, has a meaning, be it for the better or the worse. May be sometimes, it doesn't. Certain things are just there, they just exist, without any significance at that point of time, or later.

Am I right? Can these traces be of any use later? Are they good enough at least to impart some experience or lesson or little bit of learning? Or are they just merely existential?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It is not what life has to offer ...

Whenever things in life don't seem to be going much right, I have often had this consolation from friends telling me, "don't worry, life has more to offer." Unfortunately, such consolations never came to help for me, and that is also precisely one of the reasons why I get much paranoid when things don't seem so right in life.

I am a person who grew up always trying to shape things in life as it came, never really trying to leave things to chance. However, sadly, life is sometimes unpredictable; one or more of the infinite variables controlling a segment could often go wrong, and that is when the uncontrolled situations would often drive me nuts - the lack of my control over a set of circumstances. And isn't that obvious for a person of this kind, to find all the consolations involving "life has more to offer" appear meaningless?

Of late, experience and maturity has taught a myriad lessons. I realized, that things could go wrong at any time and any place about anything, but what time and situation cannot steal from you is the desire to remain upright, all the time. For, I believe, it is us who define what life could offer.

Mostly, life is really what we extract out of it, how we define it, how we justify it to ourselves. Several things in life depend upon chance or are purely beyond our control; obviously, things could go wrong at any time - however, what we could control is how we want our lives to be from that point onwards. It is not what life has to offer, rather what we want life to offer us!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The darkness in "The Dark Knight"

"He is what Gotham deserves to have, but not what Gotham needs at this moment."

The Dark Knight is the story of the human superhero, the hero of a civilization which has been bogged down by the darkness of wisdom in a deep valley of hopelessness. He is the ultimate self in a time when the human mind has lost its faith in goodwill; a time when people started to be driven by their selfishness, their mundane desires and their gory revenges of the past, turning Gotham City into a reality hell of daemons.

Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) has been doing the "shit-cleaning job" of Gotham all the while. He has been letting the people of his city sleep in peace; he has been driving all those ill-motif souls to their deserved places of sins. The children have been looking up to him as the ultimate resort, and every Tom, Dick and Harry has been motivated to tread his path by wearing his gadget-y suit. Yet, Batman is Batman - his passion to make Gotham a better place to live in makes all the difference.

The movie shows the war inside a commonplace man's character, a man though like you and me, has the profuse responsibility of sweeping the gory floors of a world turned selfish and wicked. The movie raises a question on our love of the presence of a superhero - a person godly enough to possess all the qualities which could make the world a better place to live in. A person who transcends all human limitations. A man in the real sense of the term. The man of every woman's dream. A man of character, of motive, of warmth and of self-resilience.

But reality is far from this dream. Batman, a superhero with a mask cannot inspire a generation; he cannot motivate twenty other teenagers to leave the path of sin and embark on a path towards a new dawn. So Batman decides, "let there be darkness before there is that twilight." He feels Batman needs to be erased from the soul of Gotham; what Gotham needs at this moment is a real hero, of flesh and blood, a man whom the commonplace can relate to.

The movie ends with our man of character and power having to flee. Flee with no wrong-doing in record. Flee for the sake of humanity, for a better civilization, more responsible by itself. Flee with the image of a real human as the hero, not a masked superhero.

The movie somehow made me think our definitions of perfection. We dream of an utopia, and we dream that sometime someday there would be one great man who will wipe the world clean of every misdoing. We laze around, sit without the sense of a responsibility, waiting for that superhero incarnated person to come up and end all the woes in the world. But don't we ourselves have a role to play? Aren't we ourselves responsible for a better tomorrow?

The world does not need comic-book heroes, men of dreams or people whose intellect or wisdom is a bolt from the blue, rather it needs real and mundane heroes, like you and me, who can deliver the crusade of making the civilization wiser and better at each dawn, everyday.

Let us wake up before it is too late for one single person with a noble thought (like Batman) to sacrifice the 'hero' in him and get doomed cleaning a world full of shit.

I would not reveal the actual story here, but it is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever watched. It has profound philosophy, it has the passion of fulfilling one's dream and it has the real world connection of a superhero being a part of the same world we live in. The movies ends with a note which asks us the question of our own responsibilities towards mankind, instead of a all-powerful superhero accomplishment.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The "real" and the "virtual" Society

I have been trying to formulate two new problems related to my research for the coming months. The bliss I have in this regard is the considerable overlap between my sociable nature and online presence, coupled with my research which entails inputs from the wide vista of observations I can make from my own online activities. For example, the other day when I posted a photo on my Orkut profile, several people commented and I c0uld clearly observe a conversation emerging out with respect to the media (photo) that I shared. And more interestingly most of these friends of mine engaged themselves in conversation despite not knowing each other!

So what immediately came to my mind was that, can this kind of an affordance provided by online social media actually be considered as a model of social network growth? It could be an interesting novel endeavor to look at!

Coming back to my online experience and the pointers I keep getting on my research with its help, I came to know about Dunbar's number sometime back, which says that there is an upper threshold on the number of contacts (friends) a person can maintain social relationships with. And psychological studies point out that this threshold is 150!

Ironically enough, I have a decent 591 contacts on Orkut and I know several other people for whom it is much more than 150. Now the question is, while Dunbar's research is based on people's real world social contacts, does it also hold good in the virtual world? Are the rules and laws that define social relationships on the Web being redefined with technology? If yes, then what is the model for online social networks? If no, then how do we explain 591 versus 150?

But I have this understanding - despite this never ending contact list, I probably maintain social terms with less than 30 people on Orkut. What does this signify? That Web 2.0 is making us more gregarious? Or the definition of a social relationship is getting diluted with newer social media technologies coming in?

I have often seen our online experiences redefining our lives - I have known friends who tend to use smileys while talking! (though theoretically, smileys were created to mimic real human expressions!) And then I see friends having some 200 friends on the GTalk list - do they constantly chat with several of them?

I see a significant change in our societal structure - for the good or for the worse, the Web is modifying the underlying laws that would govern our societies for centuries. And I see a significant contribution that could be made by the community of social networking researchers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Every cloud has a silver lining

Today's fortune: You will be fortunate in everything

This is what my Orkut profile fortune says today. Funny as much it is, especially to a person not believing in fortune / destiny / luck etc, yet coincidentally it comes at a time when I have been considering life and its happenings to be favorable to me of late; however much bad might have happened in the past.

Since past two days, I have been feeling that whatever happens in life, happens for the better. Though it is really cliched and there is absolutely no guarantee that it would hold good, yet belief in this philosophy often comes as a big relief and source of perennial hope for future endeavors and tiding over the difficult times.

It is all about how we consider life to us. Everyone has myriads of short-comings in life and there are ample of avenues where we would complain about our lives - money, job, relationship, mental peace, disease and so on. But the hardest truth is trying to realize the limits of our ever "I want everything" bent of mind. Having everything in the world is beyond the realm of everyone. That's why we have only one Einstein, one Larry Page, one Steve Jobs, one Sachin Tendulkar etc etc.

Happiness in life is surely how we look at life; and understanding the quest for happiness in life in whatever we have is the key to building our own destiny and fortune. But there is a practical block that we need to overcome before that: that we need to tide over the "I want everything" mindset, we need to find that "one key thing" that makes us happy and we need to be passionate about trying to achieve that "one key thing" in life. And then fortune comes its way. And so does happiness. And all those ill happenings that come across our way, they are just the several temporary variables you declare in a theorem proof - they come and go, transitory in time, leave their footsteps behind, but make us learn that the reason they were temporary has a reason, by itself, the reason to achieve the ultimate final goal. Everything else doesn't matter...

And then you start believing "every cloud has a silver lining".

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Since my childhood, I always hated rains. It used to (and I guess it still does!) rain a lot in my hometown Agartala, and it meant being at home, possibly study those boring subjects in a bad education system (as a matter of fact, the Indian education system is effective often, but not very scientific and well-structured - but discussing education system needs a separate blog post sometime!), and life in a small city like Agartala would often come to a standstill being handicapped by temporary floods in several areas, and along with that would come accompanying a profuse flurry of dirt in and around nearby swamps.

There goes the myriad reasons of my dislike for rains. Even when I was in New Jersey the summer before last one (2006), I never liked the rains there; it would rain so abruptly and anytime! That way, I like Arizona a lot! It is technically a desert, and raining in Arizona is an event! And my love of mountains and rocks and surreal Nature is best satiated by Arizona's landscape - lest the summer here is real bad. But all in all I like Arizona: the icing on the cake being, no rains!

It has been raining quite a lot though, surprisingly, in Tempe since past one week! Apart from coming a big relief to the scorching heat, it is being history here - raining twice in less than a week's time! Though I am not loving it, yet somehow this weather makes me go back 10-15 years to the days of my childhood - to Agartala- nostalgia which makes me like these rains somehow because of the several colorful memories I have associated with them! The walks I used to take with Mom, the rain-soaked flowers in the garden in front of our house, the small ally in front of the house - with several puddles of rain-water etc etc. Everything seems so green even now; though numerically life has come a long-long way! Time flies - it really does!

Rains are now a storehouse of very, very sweet memories for me - it is like entering that "rabbit hole" and going back to the days of innocence, a segment of life which was (and still is) painted all green with the raindrops. Even some of the bittersweet memories seem so rosy - the charisma of nostalgia about childhood ...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Last summer, this summer ...

Sometimes it is just better to be simply blank - something like you would reply "nothing really at my end" when someone would ask you "how is it going?"

Sometimes it is just easy to live life everyday, as it comes. Lest a few responsibilities, a few duties and a few goals you need to meet in the next few days.

Sometimes planning life is not the answer to your problems, just like pondering over the past is not. The future is unseen and often it is just such an easy get around to take life as it comes.

I was contrasting this summer with the last one. The circumstances are the same (nonetheless I am an year older, so an year more of maturity and experience about life and its myriad associations); but I felt summer has been different, more because I have changed a little bit, hopefully for the better. I see my goals more clearly now, have become professionally more responsible and serious, and I have also learned to take things only as much as I can afford - be it social terms, personal terms or simply being more responsible towards my life in the long run.

Lots of things had changed last summer, and those have further changed in the course of the past one year. And in the meanwhile I have learned one lesson. Too much planning and too much expectations never come handy. Life is too large to be engulfed in those realms.

Hopefully whatever happens, happens for the better. Life treats its lessons well in time, even if sometimes its bitter.

I am into the dreaded "mid-PhD years" of my life - one of the most difficult times of life: a time difficult to maintain the mental balance, a time tough to remain constantly motivated and a time you need to fight the rest of the world to be able to remain different from them. Different as to make a difference to the world tomorrow - leave a mark in the sands of time.

Just as relationships are, getting motivation for something and staying motivated are completely different things, and the latter needs much more effort and persistence than the former in several scales. And one of the most precious things I have learned this summer compared to the last time is to maintain that level of motivation even in the so-called dreaded PhD period.

And also, that life is happy. Happiness is all about how you perceive life, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Our Global Concerns

It was $ 2.60 a gallon only last summer; and now it is quickly going to touch $ 5-6 a gallon by Fall. The airlines now don't allow anymore two free check-in baggage, rather some of them are asking for $ 15 for even the first checked-in one. Prices of grocery items, starting from milk to fruits and vegetables are on an ever-increasing hike. Inflation is on the rise each new day. Investments in stocks seem a bad idea. The future of start-ups don't look very rosy.

I am talking of the issues the world is going to see soon in every walk of life due to the exponentially increasing price of oil. The paucity of this exhaustive source is inflicting serious damage and inviting new problems which we have neither seen, nor expected to occur this soon.

The oil problem is serious and knocking right at the door. The grandeur of electricity (many times mineral oil generated) we enjoy today right from streamlining our work in the kitchen, to climbing the 80th floor, to sitting at 60 F when outside is -20 F or 120 F would soon seemingly become a dream. Our Nature driven lifestyle does not seem to last long.

All this has made the job of the environmentalists and power scientists even tougher. Doing research, writing path-breaking papers, getting hundreds of patents is one thing; and devising some technology from scratch to fight a myriad of problems in the world is another. And what adds salt to the would is having stringent time and resource constraints on devising that technology. Apart from the prices, the icing to the cake comes with the horrors of global warming.

We need efficient, aware and committed scientists to quickly come up with alternative sources of power. But that is not enough. In these days of strict government funding (e.g. NSF - National Science Foundation), only smart and hard-working researchers won't suffice. We need efficient leadership in the leading nations like US, as well as development budding grounds like China and India.

The new US President, whoever it is going to be, Barack Obama or John McCain, has a very big responsibility, not only to this country, but several global issues. And one of them definitely is the power crisis. It is an issue of grave nature that can decide the fate of our civilization in the next five years!

A young, visionary President is what America needs right now, for its own good, like issues of health care, immigration, education and Iraq war; as well as multi-faceted global problems, examples being global warming and power crisis.

Obama is the best choice, according to polls, but fingers crossed till late this year. The Illinois Senator apart from creating history in the annals of US Presidential legacy, has tons of variegated responsibilties to cater to. However, a guy only 46 who has come this far, has to have something about him - the question is, given the expectations of most of the aware non-civilians of this country, can he answer all or not of them? Can he live up to the image of being the most powerful person in the world, in the true sense? Only time will tell, before it's too late.