Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Having Food

I thought let me grab the chance of giving you some advice. :)

If one does not enjoy good appetite, I
was wondering if there's a way out of that. Well, the problem may be
with some 'chemical locha' in the body or brain. In that case, I
don't know if what I say below would work or not. Here are two things
you can do:

1. Trying to reduce the number of people you eat with. I find the
company of zero or one people ideal during my meals. I like talking
little while eating; and if at all, I like talking on thing which are
peaceful and quiet. I don't like having any discussion that requires
surge of adrenalin or intellect or both. For example, Science,
music, philosophy, literature, art...anything that I am serious about
is a no-no during meals. The idea is to pay full attention to whatever
I eat and spend as little energy on talking

2. When I used to fuss about food in my kidhood, my Mom used to say,
"Chander moto mukh kore khao" (eat while having a face like moon.)
That has had deep effect on me since. I have made it a point to try
feeling happy about the food I am eating. Food hides good tastes
behind bad taste. I found that it was fun to look for what tasted good
in that food. If anyone in the world can enjoy a particular food, I
try finding out a way to relish that food in the same way. I often
succeed. :)

In short, we must give full attention to our food. We should eat it
with affection and joy. :)

May we all be blessed with good appetite and even better bowel movement! :D

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Excerpts from the early days of PhD

Follows excerpts from a letter I wrote sometime in the second year of my PhD. The mood is that of pride, exuberance, hope, and a lot of inexperience. I had no idea yet what lay ahead of/for me. A lot has changed since then. Much that's written here would never have been written later, if not then. But, that proves it: This PhD has been worth its while!

letter 1
W Bhaai, hum abhee bhee IISc mein hee hain. PhD kar rahe. Aur kucch saal to lagenge hi. And what do
you want to hear of my experiences? I wonder if they will appear interesting to you at all. OK for your,
here're a few lines:
I am working under Prof. Y. N. Srikant (Chairman, CSA dept., I am working on automatic verification of theoretical models of
software, with emphasis on Software Architectural Models. So, it's mainly a combination
of Software Architecture, Compiler Design, Program Verification.

How do I do my research? I keep reading books and papers, with a view of finding out what remains to be
done. If I find something of that sort, I try more seriously to search out whatever is
available on that matter all over the world. Ideas start coming automatically.
Till now, I haven't hit an idea that's not been done by anybody else. Often
I have come up with brilliant looking ideas; worked on them for a few
days, and even for a few weeks; and then have found that they have already
been worked on before. So, it's a long journey. Like this, I keep learning
new things; and hopefully sooner or later, I will be so good in my subject that I will be
the first to come with some idea. That's generally about my research.
There're many
many other things I do here.

I am convenor of the IISc music team. That takes away around 25-35% of all my mental
activities. It's a large team consisting of nearly 30 people. Since, it's a
high talent zone, it suffers all the problems of a normal organisation.
Miscommunications, ego clashes, irregularity. and even people running away
and layoffs! Being a convenor of this team is quite a full-time job, I assure you!
I am also the official cartoonist of the IISc monthly newsletter. So, a
day a month has to be fully devoted to that. I am also a part of the Students' Support Network. A
team of 8-9 people trained in lay counselling to help students with
psychological problems (there're quite a few here, due to the stressful life). I underwent a
short course in providing lay counselling some time ago.

Apart from that I usually socialise a lot. I have a large circle of
friends. Almost everybody in the campus knows me. So, that's an overhead,
as well as an advantage.

After telling so much, all my well-wishers usually give me a worried look
asking: 'Sujit, hope your research is going on well!'
Well, I usually don't answer that question. Let time figure that out for everybody! :)

letter 2
Hey W, That letter of yours gives a lot of openings for the egotist within me to speak up.
Well, I will keep him quiet for now and try to be brief (I may not succeed!).

PhD life (for me, atleast) is vivid, active and exhausting
experience. I learn a lot lot more than an average man does any day.
Simply because I find this environment far more condusive to keeping your
senses alert and awake. It's a blessing not granted to many. Some never
get even a taste of it. And some unfortunates get it and never realise
what they're whiling away. I am fortunate, very fortunate!

Darker sides? Well! None really, if you're talking about me and my
life. I am just fine. I get a modest 6k/month. Much more than enough to
lead a perfectly splendid life in the campus. Anyways, it'd take quite a
rich man to be leading a life full of so many experiences, such greenery,
such great company, such facilities and simplicity. All my needs are more
than met.

Perhaps, you're talking about the lack of the 'feeling' of a
growing bank balance. Well, I was never good at deriving any pleasure from
the feeling that I must be having a large bank balance. This fulfilling
life more than compensates for whatever that means. I am already richer
than most, forever!

(One reason for this post is also is also to push that previous post down. It was more an experiment with that Hindi typing than making a point. I consider that experiment a failure.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

शाकाहार और मांसाहार

इस दुविधाजनक परिस्थिति में कई बार पडा हूँ जब मुझसे किसी ने पूछा कि शाकाहार क्यों।
मेरा शाकाहारी बन्ने का कारण शैधान्तिक है। और ये मेरे मांसाहारी मित्रों को पसंद नही। मेरी माँ को यदि कोई प्रश्न करे कि आपका बीटा शाकाहारी क्यों है तो वो यही कहती है कि उसे हाजमे कि तकलीफ है। माँ अनर्थक बहस मे ना पड़ने के लिए ऐसा कहती है।
मैं इस विषय में झूठ नही कहता। मैं शाकाहारी हूँ और इस बात का गर्व कर्ता हूँ। मांसाहार को मैं अनैतिक मानता हूँ और इस विषय में तर्क वितर्क से मुझे कोई परहेज नही।
पर इससे पहले कि कोई मेरे विचारों पर पर कोई धारणा बना ले मैं कुछ बातें स्पष्ट कर देना चाहता हूँ। पहला ये कि केवल मांसाहार करने से ही कोई हिंसक नही बन जाता ना ही शाकाहारी बन्ने पर कोई महात्मा हो जाता है। व्यक्तिगत तौर पे नैतिकता की परिभाषा वह नही जो सामान्य तौर पे होती है। उदहारण: हमारे खान पान की आदतें हमारी नैतिकता के ज्ञान पे नही बल्कि हमारी परवरिश पर निर्भर करती है। जब तक खान-पान में हम अपनी तरफ से मूलभूत परिवर्तन ना लायें तब तक उसपे सिद्धांतों की कोई प्रासंगिकता नही।
मेरी परवरिश एक मांसाहारी परिवार में हुई। मैं एक आयु तक स्वयम मांसाहारी था। मैंने जान-बूझ के अपनी आदतों में परिवर्तन लाया। मुझे अधिकार है कि मैं अपने इस फैसले का पूछे जाने पर सही कारण बताऊँ। मैं नही मानता कि इसमे किसी को कोई बात व्यक्तिगत आक्षेप के रुप में लेनी चाहिए।
खैर! मंसहरियों से जब भी मैं इस तर्क में पढ़ जाता होन तो एक मेरे बताये कारणों का एक जवाब सदैव पाटा हूँ। क्या वृक्षों में प्रान नहीं? क्या तुम्हे यकीं के साथ पता है कि उनकी ह्त्या वक़्त उन्हें कोई तकलीफ नही होती?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Men and Women

Here was one quite a nice poem written in praises of women, that I got in an egroup.
Why Women Cry

Why are you crying, a young boy asked his Mom?

"Because I'm a woman," she told him.

I don't understand," he said.

His Mom just hugged him and said,
"And you never will, but that's O.K.".......

Later the little boy asked his father,
"Why does Mom seem to cry for no reason?".
"All women cry for no reason," was all his Dad could say......

The little boy grew up and became a man,
still wondering why women cry.

Finally he put in a call to God and when God got back to him, he
asked "God, why do women cry so easily?"

GOD answered......

"When I made woman,
I decided she had to be special.
I made her shoulders
strong enough to carry
the weight of the world, yet,
made her arms gentle enough to give comfort...

I gave her the inner strength
to endure ch! ildbirth
and the rejection
that many times will come
even from her own children.

I gave her a hardness
that allows her
to keep going and take care
of her family and friends,
even when everyone else gives up, through sickness and fatigue

I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all
circumstances. Even when her child has hurt her badly....

She has the very special power to make a child's boo-boo feel better
to quell a teenager's anxieties and fears....

I gave her strength to care for her husband, despite faults
and I fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart....

I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife,
sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him

For all of this hard work,
I also gave her a tear to shed.
It is hers to use
whenever needed and ! !
it is her only weakness....
When you see her cry,
tell her how much you love her, and all she does for everyone, and
even though
she may still cry, you will have made her heart feel good.

She is special!

I felt that there was need to do a balancing act. After all guys, particularly nice guys like me, have seen or done none of the atrocities that their kind have been charged with for milennia. We keep hearing that we belong to that sex-starved, beastly kind called 'male'. After all there's a need to recapitulate on our true nature. So, I wrote the following:

Baap re! Are women so very good! Let's write something parallel for men...
Quoting God...
I gave him a kind and noble heart. Covered that up with muscles, so he
could be powerful enough to carry the load and sorrows he must bear.

It was him for whom I secured all the bothering of finance for
his family. I also gave him the forbearance to never show its difficulty
to the family he loves. He too wanted to sit back and sulk on somebody
along with his kids. But he couldn't. As a man he must see to it that they
live on.

I gave him the responsibility for making his family feel secure. Even if
he is left with no strength he manages to make his family safe and secure
from the greatest dangers of the world. He too wanted to tremble like a
leaf. But he couldn't. Because he is a man!

I gave him the role of always acting the ideal person for his children so
that they grow up to be as good as or better than him. Even at the face of
being ridiculed as old-fashioned and boring by the very children he lives
for. He too wanted to cry and scream expressing his pain. But he couldn't.
Because he is a man!

While the woman could care, love, caress, laugh and cry with her child --
and be called the Mother, the greatest friend, guru etc. The Father had to
go out in the heat so that his child and wife could eat. He too wanted to
caress and love his child. But no! he is a man!

But then I just had stop short of making him the perfect creature. I
couldn't give him a single drop of tear. For, I had already given all of
that to women.

A women thus can express her love, hate, fear, happiness and sorrow all
through TEARS! And earn love and regard as 'Oh so feminine!'

Man keeps taking the blame of being unfeeling, heartless, mean, physical,
base, and what not - because he can't cry!

Poor men!

In summary...

Hey, we all are the same, with some minor external differences. Don't
romanticise unnecessarily. Let's love and respect everybody equally (I
know, that's easier said than done).

I will be happy to see the day when men will be actually enchanted by
women showing the talents men think themselves good at.

I will be even happier to see the day when women can see a man crying
without thinking, 'how...!'