Saturday, December 26, 2009

Year-End Take on Shayaris…

…by introducing Waseem Barelvi, i.e.

वसीम बरेलवी

I don’t feel like giving any ‘long’ introductions in this post so to get familiar with the format of this post, check out this post. But before we begin I will ‘re-iterate’ the fact that the translations in this post are not-at-all on par with the original shers. They are just a part of my brain’s effort to continue having faith in the belief that ‘I know English’ and also a sympathetic heart-felt apology to those few Hindi/Urdu-illiterate souls who get lost on the web and end up here once-in-a-while. I will also emphasize that BETTER Translations from my readers (occasional or frequent) are always welcome! So lets begin…

Waseem Barelvi-I

मैं इस उम्मीद पे डूबा की तू बचा लेगा,
अब इसके बाद मेरा इम्तेहान क्या लेगा!
ये एक मेला है, वादा किसीसे क्या लेगा,
ढलेगा दिन तो हर एक अपना रास्ता लेगा!
मैं बुझ गया तो हमेशा को बुझ ही जाऊँगा,
कोई चिराग नहीं हूँ जो फिर जला लेगा!
कलेजा चाहिए दुश्मन से दुश्मनी के लिए,
जो बेअमल है वो बदला किसीसे क्या लेगा!
हज़ार तोड़ के आ जाओ उससे रिश्ता, वसीम,
मैं जानता हूँ वो जब चाहेगा बुला लेगा!

Main iss ummeed pe dooba ki tu bacha lega,
Ab iske baad mera imtehaan kya lega!
Yeh ek mela hai waada kisise kya lega,
Dhalega din to har ek apna raasta lega!
Main bujh gaya to hamesha ko bujh hi jaaunga,
Koi chiraagh nahin hun jo phir jala lega!
Kaleja chahiye dushman se dushmani ke liye,
Jo be-amal hai wo badla kisise kya lega!
Hazaar tod ke aa jaao usse rishta, Waseem,
Main jaanta hun wo jab chahega bula lega!

I drowned thinking you'd save me,
Now how else would you test me!
Which promise do you seek in this carnival,
After the Sunset, they'll continue their travel!
If I die once, I will be forever extinguished,
Am not a candle that can be again ignited!
It takes courage to bear enmity towards an enemy
How can a coward ever take revenge on an enemy!
You may break-up with Him a thousand times, Waseem,
I know a fact that He can summon whenever He likes!

Believe it or not, all these shers are about Death! These make death sound like an exhilarating experience almost like this one! Or maybe not… Anyway, I won’t try to interpret any of these shers for you, try your own hand (or brain) in interpreting these! I assure you, after these shers get ‘internalized’, you’ll feel worldly-wise! Lets continue…

Waseem Barelvi-II

हम ये तो नहीं कहते की हम तुझसे बड़े हैं,
लेकिन ये बहुत है की तेरे साथ खड़े हैं!

Hum ye to nahin kahte ki hum tujhse bade hain
Lekin ye bahut hai ki tere saath khade hain!

I am not saying that I am superior to you,
but it's enough that I'm standing beside you!

This sher is a repeat from this post but you did not notice that, did you? If I’d just shut up but you got to keep an eye on the Word Count, always the Word Count! Notice a similar instance here, if you can [hint: the left one on page 70…] before moving on!

Waseem Barelvi-III

लगा के देखले जो भी हिसाब आता हो,
मुझे घटाके वो गिन्ती में रह नहीं सकता!

Laga ke dekhle jo bhi hisaab aata ho,
Mujhe ghatake wo ginti mein rah nahin sakta.

Use all the known forms of counting,
'Subtracting' me won't make you Count!

This here is a great Arithmetic lesson! Also a great lesson in Confidence, Optimism & Persistence (COP?)! Somehow, whenever I think (a bit more than usual) about this particular sher, I am reminded of my father… I don’t know why! (or probably I don’t want to share it with you!) Before we get too personal, let us move on…

Waseem Barelvi-IV

सलिका ही नहीं शायद उसे महसूस करने का,
जो कहता है खुदा है तो नज़र आना जरूरी है!

Salika hi nahin shayad use mahsoos karne ka
Jo kahta hai khuda hai to nazar aana jaroori hai!

Maybe feeling His presence is not a qualification I possess,
But whoever claims to be a God must be atleast perceptible!

Inverted (/Reversed/Opposing) sentiments compared to the last sher of the first video in some respect but elegantly (& correctly) put nevertheless! If you have been counting, I have put up (translated) 9 shers (2-liners) here. As was mentioned earlier, this was just for my own amusement and if you were also amused by all this, that was just collateral damage, do not hold me responsible for it. However, if you were not amused by all this, I have just this to say to you: “What the hell are you doing here till now, anyway?” Or “Did you bear with it because you overheard somewhere that it was going to get good?”

if (You Are Still Here) && (Inspired by His Shers)

   goto A_Long_Visit_To



My Waseem Barelvi Playlist on YouTube

As you’ve noticed by now, the above link is not my usual end-of-the-post-link. That is because IT IS at THE END of this post where  I’d like to invite you to check out my

Life in Physics…

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Quotations and (my) Random Thoughts

I thought of writing up a short fiction story along the lines of Futures’ stories in Nature. But, Damn… it’s hard just to come up with something, forget about it being Good! So I thought I’ll take up an abandoned project by PJ: to ‘publish’ quotes of Prof. Peter van Nieuwenhuizen from his QFT, SUSYGY & String classes. These are quotes as they were copied in my notebook during these classes or later from memory. They may not always be accurate word-by-word but within their context, they capture the relevant sentiment exactly (as is commonly said in certain circles: भावनाओं Bhavanaon को ko समझो samjho! [Translation: Understand the feelings!]). I am feeling too lazy to give the context for all these quotations so if some quote seems to have conflicting meanings, take the less ‘controversial’ one to be true! Here we go…

=>It is well-known to those who know it well.

=>It is not well-known that it is well-known.

=>It is known that there are no bound states but how it’s known is not known!

=>If you have a differential equation, you try to solve it!

=>So, Is the world based on Solitons? Mine Is!

=>It gets so deep that I no longer understand it. Though, I’ve also written a paper about it; on good days, I understand it and on bad days, I give it as a homework!

=>[Early stages in N=2 SYM monopoles’ calculations:]

1. General wisdom is wrong. (My paper first in this field!)

2. Cheat to prove M=Z but at least it’s Inventive Cheating!

3. Say I give up: These are honest people but you cannot write papers with that!

=>Ask two proponents of opposing camps and you go to get a cup of coffee. (The relations are not that good afterwards!)

=>There is a way you can write 16: 4x4. It’s not difficult, it’s just a lot of writing!

=>In higher (11) dimensions the gamma matrices are not 4-by-4 but more-by-more!

=>Witten theorem: Total derivatives on fermions do not contribute.

=>Shakespeare theorem: What’s is a name?

=>Professors: More learned they are, more theorems they know, less true they are!

=>Very few people are  in this area. Hope it remains that way!

=>If Higgs is not found, Nature is not so nice!

=>[] He refuses to look at this problem. This is one way to solve problems.

=>Nobody doubts now that we live in 10-D!

=>Anomalies in rigid symmetry: Field theory is all right but physics is bad!

=>Something changes in your life after you do a 2-loop calculation.

=>Anomaly times Anomaly is very anomalous but it is still there!

=>It is a good exercise to see how difficult it is!

=>A good theorist is always flexible. Gell-Mann is very good! [Quarks -> No Quarks -> Yes Quarks]

=>Best if you understand both & worst if you understand neither.

=>Wess & Zumino: 1 paper for 10 topics; Ordinary Physicists: 10 papers for 1 topic!

=>Kaluza was a mathematician (a theorist). How do you prove that? He did not know how to swim. So he bought a book which 'taught' swimming. After reading that book, he could swim!

=>8-D: When you are confused what to do with your life!

=>I’m on a different Riemann sheet. I’ll come back now.

=>Ha…i excels in no examples but only general theory; My notes excel in no general theory but only examples; If you take intersection, you are lost!

=>Wrong paper by me led BV to the right stuff!

=>If I stress everything, it’s stressful.

=>Deeper than deep; Maybe deeper even for nature!

=>0 (Zero) is always deep. There’s a reason behind it.

=>Either you are very famous or you made an error (or both)!

=>Stay away from K_n(x).

=>You can make it so complex that it looks profound! (longer & clearer)

=>Definition rules out the question!

These are almost all of the quotes of PvN I have recorded till now. The remaining ones are quite ‘controversial’ and he has explicitly tagged them with ‘these should not leave this classroom’! So that’s all for now. Wait, it seems the word count has not yet reached a respectable number. So now, I’d like to write my own random thoughts (lets refrain from calling these quotes!) since it’s my blog post to begin with and to end with, I write one (and only one) post in one month! Also, where else would you get to know my thoughts (random or not) unless you subscribe to ‘The Dharman Show’! Here we go again…

A) Definitions (There was such an exercise in English Grammar course in class IX!):

=>Illusions: Something that is and isn’t!

=>Misconceptions: Something that does but doesn’t work!

=>Misunderstandings: Something that is and isn’t right!

=>Overheard: When you are there!

=>Misheard: When you are but not there!

=>Unheard: When you are not quite there yet!

=>Sketchbook: What Sora holds!

=>Condescension: When ascent descends!

=>Death: Which scares less than waiting for someone!

B) Status Messages (These are inspired by some half/dim-witted status messages by one of my literally ‘love-struck’ brother!):

=>How can one be so dumb that one’s classification as a living being comes under scrutiny (forget about being a human being)?

[My bro wait here, Others may continue past the right bracket below: This may seem like a literal attack on You(r sense & sensibility) but I assure You, it is not!]

=>Why should one be afraid of one’s own maturity?

[To my Bro again, Others may continue past the right bracket below: This may seem like a literal attack on You(r sense of maturity) but I assure You, It Is!]

=>It takes courage to be a coward!

[Bro wait again, Others may continue past the right bracket below: This may seem like a literal attack on You(r sense of courage) but I assure You, IT IS NOT!]

C) Phrases (Whatever…):

=>Google Translator Magic: ‘お っぱい’ gets translated to ‘Your Farewell Dinner’; Remove the space after first character and ‘おっぱい’ translates to ‘Boobs’; Or shift the space behind second character to have ‘おっ ぱい’ translated as ‘Oops Bra’; and you can keep on playing...

=>Variable constants (a,b,c,…), Constant variables (x)!

=>R(ight)=W(rong)+C(orrections). If you are wrong by a large factor, then R=W(1+C/W) –> R=W for all practical purposes!

(Adapted from a talk by Dr. Robert Panoff)

Since, it has been proved now that it does not matter if you are Right or Wrong, I’ll leave you with some more insightful


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Overheard, Misheard & Unheard offs-I

OMUs 1

As the 2:20 PM bell rang that day as usual, the students from all sections of the classes VI to XII rushed out of the school building. I was one of them too. As we stepped out of the building’s side-door onto the brick-laden narrow pathway, I heard a guy’s voice murmuring, “You know that’s Dharmesh!” My ears instantly got directed towards that voice and the corner of my right eye caught a glimpse of two guys probably of class VII (+/-I) walking beside me. The other guy ‘rejected’ his friend’s hypothesis and added, “Dharmesh is taller than Him and Dharmesh must be in class X or XI.” I was in class XII at that time and I was also a bit interested in this character named Dharmesh! Why? Because Dharmesh was supposed to be an epitome, apotheosis even… of a student and I just wanted to meet him and get to know what made him so! But that guy’s comment made me realize my folly. It could not be such that just meeting Dharmesh would satisfy my curiosity! No, it could never be so simple because I had just realized that Dharmesh is just a myth, a legend, a fable… in fact, it is just a name thrown around by some people which gives others (like me & those guys) either a cold sweat or a cold shoulder. Thus, I was convinced that I could be a Dharmesh as well and nobody would be the wiser! However, I am glad that I was the Dharmesh they were talking about.

The above paragraph may seem like a short fiction story I concocted but it is not true. That is a true story from nearly a decade ago along with the quoted and systematic uncertainties! To fill this month’s blog quota, I’ll take a walk down my memory lane and come up with some weird and hilarious (hopefully) anecdotes from my high school days. Here goes another one similar to the one above:

OMUs 2

On some other auspicious day of class XII, I entered the school building’s same side-door after the bell announcing the end of our lunch-break sounded. There is a concrete railing, separating the walkways around the morning-assembly-ground inside the building, on which some students sit during the lunch-break. I saw two girls (probably of class VIII) on the railing as I entered and continued walking past them to get to the stairway on my left a little ahead of us. Just as I passed them, I heard one of their voice which (like before) murmured, “You know that’s Dharmesh!” The other girl’s voice replied, “Really, He looks kind of dumb, doesn’t he?” By this time, I had turned into the stairway, away from their sights & sounds and I could not help but smile!

The following is a bit different than previous ones but still similar to them in some sense:

OMUs 3

We used to have short quizzes with 10 or so questions picked from a given topic on Wednesdays after the morning assembly. Four teams representing  four Houses (Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Gaurishankar & Kanchenjunga) consisting of four members each would compete and the ‘points’ gained by each team would accumulate over the whole academic year and... This history is not important, what is important is that for the topic of ‘space science & space explorations’, I was recruited ‘against my wishes’ for Gaurishankar’s team when I was in class XI. On the chosen Wednesday, I donned a lackadaisical attitude and went to the designated place after all contestants had already gathered which frustrated my house captain a bit (as if I cared!). After meeting my team members, I began browsing through my competitors’ faces, I noticed a familiar face and most probably she also noticed me because the next sentence from her (to her team-mates) was, “Hey, Gaurishankar’s team has Dharmesh!” This apparently innocent & informative sentence was said in such a spirit-crushing tone that led me to wonder if even my presence was considered an ‘evil’ out here. Anyway, the quiz continued and as I ‘envisaged’ I was almost of no use to the team except that I got the first answer correct. I knew 2-3 more answers but my team members knew them too (they’d prepared well!) and I didn’t offer any more ‘assistance’. Finally, ‘we’ won that quiz (if I hadn’t contributed, there’d been a tie which is not that bad either!)… it was a first win for Gaurishankar that year and ‘our’ winning streak continued for a few more weeks!

The following anecdote is quite ‘controversial’ and after a first reading, if you don’t get it, get over it and get on with your life. Do Not re-read this piece:

OMUs 4

I used to go to the library after having my lunch for the remaining 15-20 minutes of the break. [A side note: I was the ‘only one’ allowed in the library during lunch-breaks without any questions asked. Others had to convince the librarians that they had to consult the reference books for some project or some other such excuse!] On that particular day of class X, I was stopped on my way to the library by a girl (the same one mentioned in OMUs 3) and was asked to select one of the two chocolate bars lying on her outstretched hands. I did not get whether she wanted me to tell her which one I liked most or was she offering me one. Assuming the later, I refused and went to the library. The bell sounded at the end of the lunch-break and I went back to the class. After sometime, she also came to the class and offered (it seemed more like ordered) me to take one. I refused again. By this time, another girl had entered the class and having heard our little exchange, she jumped in and ‘on my behalf’ told her, ‘If Dharmesh does not want it, why are you forcing him to take it?’ The reply was quick: “Who asked you to poke your nose in someone else’s business?”… And I was standing there near my seat looking dumb-founded listening to two girls quarrelling ‘over me’. My mind was now busy thinking of ways to get out of this unpleasant situation. I turned my head away from the bloody scene in front of me and my eyes ended up looking straight at yet another girl whose gaze disturbed me and on top of that, she smiled (out of pity probably) and I could not help but smile back! (Damn it… too many witnesses for this event!) Anyway, our teacher arrived shortly and a major ‘disaster’ was averted. Although those two girls dispersed towards their seats, I heard them telling their respective groups of friends about their quarrel and it seemed like hell was going to break loose later. I don’t know what happened between them after the days’ classes were over but I guess either their tempers were short-lived or they realized ‘fighting over me’ was not worth it!

This post belongs to a series named OMUs as you would have probably guessed by now. This series along with other series well-known as IMMs will capture some of the comedies/tragedies my life has showered/will shower on me along the lines of ‘Sketchbook’. Keep looking out for more.

Halloween celebration in ‘Sketchbook’ [Relevant pages are 87-94!]

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Art of Condescension*

Just because I'm egotistical doesn't mean I'm not brilliant. -W.C. Gall

As the title suggests, this post is about one of the 9 (Human) Virtues of all time: Condescension.

This virtue is defined/documented pretty well in this sher (couplet) by the great poet Waseem Barelvi:

हम ये तो नहीं कहते की हम तुझसे बड़े हैं,
लेकिन ये बहुत है की तेरे साथ खड़े हैं|
-वसीम बरेलवी
Hum ye to nahin kahte ki hum tujhse bade hain,
Lekin ye bahut hai ki tere saath khade hain.
-Waseem Barelvi
(I am not saying that I am superior to you,
But it’s quite enough that am standing beside you!
-Waseem Barelvi)

I’m sorry to those Hindi-illiterate souls who can not appreciate this sher due to the phenomenon well-known as ‘lost in translation’. I also agree with those Hindi-literate souls who think that this is at best a ‘rough’ translation. But it has been endorsed by Shantanu (of Humans-trying-to-be-God fame) so the feelings must have been accurately conveyed! Those who truly appreciated this, would probably like to see the full video and here it is:

Another ‘well-deserved’ instance of this virtue displayed by Waseem Barelvi is in the following video:

Actually, there are many minor instances you can notice but mainly I’d like to urge you to listen to him closely around 8:00 minutes when he says “आप aap थोड़े thode दिन din बाद baad समझलें samajhlein, कोई koi जरूरी jaroori नहीं nahin की ki अभी abhi शेर sher समझें samjhein आप aap!” (Translation: I’m not asking you to understand the sher today, you can do that a few days later!) This is what I call perfection of the Art and its ‘proof’ is the resounding applause he got after making that statement!

Someone else who is good at this Art is Saba Balrampuri. Consider the following sher which she recites from 2:50-3:10 minutes in the video following thereafter and the ‘subtle’ smile which emerges on her visage as she starts the second line! This is what distinguishes her from others as an experienced practitioner of the Art.

अभी आप वाकिफ़ नहीं दोस्ती से,
ना इज़हार फरमाईये दोस्ती का!
-सबा बलरामपुरी
Abhi aap waqeef nahin dosti se,
Naa izhaar farmaaeeye dosti ka!
-Saba Balrampuri
(You are not familiar with friendship,
So do not yet declare your friendship!
-Saba Balrampuri)

This is enough ranting about poets, lets move on to other forms of ‘entertainment’ – Cable TV. And who else is worthy enough to be mentioned in this category other than John Hodgman? If you don’t believe me, have a look at this video and learn what the great Artist has to teach you:

If you were thinking about the ‘who else?’ part of the last paragraph and you came up with a name to tell me… don’t bother! I already know who you are thinking about and here is an appetizer video of Him:

Yes, He Is Stephen Colbert, the great personality who has mastered the Art, the great Human who has ensnared the position of the God of Virtue of Condescension.

After you’ve reached the level of God, there isn’t any more room to move UP now, is there? So I will have to end this post now but I leave you with a link which forces on this post a periodic boundary condition (…as a sign of rebellion?)!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

PS: If you didn’t understand the implication of the last sentence, that’s because you are staring at the link above and not clicking on it! I promise everything will make sense in a while after you click on it…

*Disclaimer: Recently(?), ‘getting offended on minor issues’ has become an obsession (or maybe it can be considered a dual to swine flu!)… So If you are easily offended, DO NOT READ this post. [But now that I think about it, if people understood & followed this statement, we would not have had so many ridiculous instances of ‘getting offended’, would we?]

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I will be Back There… (III)

Read on…

Before leaving once more for Stony Brook, I would like to make one thing clear: I did also read books at home and fiddled around with some of my MATLAB programs. These were the books that I read:

Four books in one month… not bad I guess!!! Now on to some programming… I thought of upgrading SUDOKU SOLVER from 6.2 to at least 7.x this summer but unfortunately, that couldn’t happen. Instead I just fixed some ‘minor’ graphics issues and a ‘major’ bug in ‘Licensing’ part of the program which had lingered around for too long since last release i.e. ‘Release 11’ and that is why now it is ‘Release 11b’ as can be seen in the snapshot below! (Do check SS 6.2 out by clicking on it…)


Another not-so-well-known program is ACBOOK (derived from accounts book) which received a hefty upgrade from version 3.0.β to 3.5.β where β is put there just for fun (because I can since MATLAB allows me to!) and the fact that no one (including my father – he’d rather fill up notebooks!) has ever agreed to use it even when it is FREE and no ‘Licence’ is required (a ‘password’ IS, though!) unlike SS… Go figure! (So please do me a favour and check it out by clicking on the snapshot below where you’ll get other ‘scientific’ GUIs/programs as well!)

ACBOOK 3.5.β

Now that we’ve outlived our prescribed duration at KTM, I left for Stony Brook on the afternoon of 23rd June and my parents tagged along to send me off. It was not a direct trip to the airport; there was a ‘layover’ included which is probably why both of my parents tagged along as they did not do that in 2007! Moreover, since there was unrest in KTM on that day (actually that week – don’t ask me why?) we had to take a longer route along the ‘Ring’ road surrounding KTM valley to get to wherever we were headed, including the airport.

  • ‘Layover’ – This was a visit to Shramanis who were at someone’s residence for the moment. Getting there was an arduous task in itself. We had the directions which said to keep looking at the right of the main road and take the second steep slope we encounter. Well, we came across a 4-point vertex and thought these two slopes qualify as the first slope, lets get to the next slope. Well there were none on the right! So we stopped on a left slope and inquired to be told that the second one on the 4-point vertex was the correct slope to take! Let me tell you about this slope: It was a narrow road with a long, upwards, curving way with a local inclination of at least 30 degrees. I always thought no car would go up there but I was proven wrong! Finally, we reached the house and was greeted by an elderly lady who somehow (this is another great anecdote, but I’ll refrain from revealing it here!) knew my parents. When I was introduced to her and was told that I was leaving for America she slashed out an advice at me, ‘Don’t marry an American girl’. “Hey, what the… whoa!” was all I could think and “this is definitely not the way to make me like you!” Anyway, we chatted with the Shramanis, offered them some snacks and left. On the way out, the lady offered us sweets, the kind which I had not tasted yet, actually that particular combination – cham-cham (I don’t quite agree with 2/3 details on this blog like flattening the rolls or refrigerating them for a day) rolled in mango paste. I thought it would not taste good but I was again proven wrong, it was delicious and this is the best way to make me like you! So we bid her farewell and headed towards our real destination…
  • Tribhuvan International Airport, KTM – We reached there and after some small talk with my parents (and driver) I entered the airport.
    Tribhuvan Intl. Airport, KTM (Just checking 'Insert Map...' in WLW!)
    I was told by my father that paying the airport tax (NPR. 1356 ~ US$ 18) at the airport has been discontinued as it is included in the ticket itself nowadays. (You would think this is good news but then you are not familiar with my misfortune inside airports.) So, I had my baggage ‘x-rayed’ and made a beeline to the baggage check counter. Guess what? The officer there tells me to go back and pay airport tax! I asked him: Is it not already included in the ticket? He replied: It is for tickets issued after March but yours was issued in February. Well, I struggled a bit to find NPR 1000+500 in my wallet to pay the tax. I got change for NPR 1355… I thought to myself this is not that bad! Then came the weight problem: I had 2 pieces of luggage this time, weighing 22+8 Kg (to my relief because at home they were 24+7 Kg!). This meant 10 Kg more than allowed (if you recall ‘Part I’) but then I showed them a ‘card’ and they let me pass without any fuss! The flight was 40 or so minutes late which was earlier than I expected because my sister assured me there’s no way this flight will take off before getting delayed for at least an hour and a half! Why am I making it sound like the flight delay was a welcome event? Because I had a layover of nearly ~10 hrs following the scheduled times at…
  • Indira Gandhi International Airport, DEL – Could not ‘fool’ the security guard this time! Though he did direct me to the visitors’ lounge (there was AC!) where I stayed till the reporting time which was after midnight (~1AM; I reached around 7PM). Now my parents had this weird thought that I would fall asleep while waiting at DEL and miss the flight! I don’t know how such misinformation percolated in their psyche… I mean sure they’ve been locked out of the house twice (or maybe thrice) because they left me alone in the house and I fell asleep and did not wake up to open the door when they returned even after they rang the bell and banged the door for what seemed to them as eternity… But come on, me sleeping at the airport, that’s unheard of!!! Anyway, they were not going to take any chances, so they gave me an Airtel SIM card to check upon me once in a while after 10 PM. Even Didi was recruited for this task! Apart from them, even a cop checked on me and asked for my ID… Little did I know that I’d been ‘tagged’ and something more sinister was waiting for me in the airport! Fortunately, I did not fall asleep (like I would have after that!) and entered the airport building at the prescribed time. The earlier cop was there at the entrance: he frisked me first (which was for the first time in my life) and then ‘checked’ my baggage using some hand-held device… probably for drugs, explosives and books on ‘how to smuggle contrabands through airports’! So I got in the airport, got my baggage checked-in and am stopped in my tracks by the QA staff to be asked if I’d come from KTM. What the hell??? Its on my e-ticket, why the hell do they need to ask me that? Anyway, I proceeded to security check and just as I cleared that, another QA staff stopped me again in my tracks and informed me that a Customs Officer had summoned me. WHAT THE HELL??? By this time, I was pretty much exhausted (I’m usually sleeping at this time, you know!) and in no position to show my emotions explicitly so I put up my best blank face and just tagged along. The CO asked me: ‘Where are you going?’ (Is this guy for real?); ‘Do you work there?’ (I don’t know if he understood what TA was?); ‘How many US dollars are you carrying?’ (Is this a fair question, I have no idea!); ‘How much Indian currency do you have?’ (What? Is taking INR outside India illegal? I again have no idea!) After answering these questions as straight-facedly as possible (it may have been ‘condescending’ on my part too!), I was allowed to go. After this ‘tag-of-war’ was over, other things went smoothly! Also saw a lot of army personnel heading to Congo(?) as UN peace-keeping(?) forces. The flight was on time and it was a nice trip to… (I remember watching a movie but can’t remember the name!)
  • Doha International Airport, DOH – Nothing much happened at the airport apart from a little inconvenience of standing inside the shuttle bus, after it stopped near the plane, for about 20 minutes which is infinitely long compared to the fact that we are NOT supposed to stand in there AT ALL! This flight was not full as compared to earlier flights. Why do I say so? Because the three-seat-block where I was seated had this configuration: ||X G M| Here, X means a vacant seat; G means a girl and M means me. I am not saying the flight wasn’t full because one seat near me was vacant but because in the ‘middle’ of the flight, my co-passenger left her seat and did not show up until the end to take her bag from the overhead compartment and fill-up the immigration forms! She must have found a better vacant place than the two seats she was hogging (for sleeping) before leaving. The tipping point (for her decision ‘to leave or not to leave’) must have been one of these: my refusal to ice-cream (offered by QA); a Mr. Bean-type maneuver (watch Mr. Bean’s video from 2:26-2:31); Jon-like expertise on boredom (read this)! Well, this was good for me because I was now hogging (for sleeping) all the three seats! YO!!! I remember watching ‘Watchmen’ on this flight. After ~10 hrs, the flight journey came to an end and we landed at…
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport, JFK – Formalities completed… AirTrain boarded… MetroCard bought and on to…
  • Jamaica Train Station – Bought ticket to SB but ‘did not know’ which train to board, so Phoned PJ to ask which train to board and Thanked PJ for calling me back with correct information. I’d bought an off-peak ticket but this express train (direct to SB no train-changing at Huntington) was at peak hour so had to pay extra after getting on board the train. I find it funny to note that whenever I’ve chosen a seat on a bus or a train here, most of the time it has been a seat for the disabled but this time it was deliberately so since my luggage was disabling me to climb up/down the stairs in the train to get to a ‘proper’ seat! Anyway, the conductor did not say anything to me and I reached…
  • Stony Brook – Got off the train in the expected drizzle and there was the Railroad bus waiting at the bus stop! Reached SAC without any problems. Hoped to meet PJ so that things would be ‘weakly chronologically symmetric’ but he had already gone to Chapin… The Hospital/Chapin bus was late (some things just have to be symmetric, don’t they?) but without any more problems I reached…
  • Chapin Apartments – I walked to my apartment in the drizzle which was exciting like it was when I reached KTM. [Did I not mention this in ‘Part I’ that I was standing in the ‘rain’ before my sister arrived to pick me up? Oh well…] Symmetry rules! It is Good to be Back Here at the university but don’t worry, Mummy, I will be Back There. (Most probably in 2011, if not, then 2012 for sure because my visa expires then!)

Stony Brook University


So there you have it: my completed essay on something as inconsequential as visiting my home! As you’ve been noticing for a ‘couple’ of posts now that my end-of-the-post-link has been the same. This is ‘because’ my webpage is going to be moved from Google pages to Google sites by Google pretty soon (wow, 3 Google(s) in one sentence, no wait 4 Google(s), no wait … googols of Google(s), ohhh… hell with this, ∞ of them and beyond…) but this link will remain the same, so take a note of it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I was There… (II)

Read on…

So after missing out on a Sunday of my life, I finally reached my home on late morning of 25th May. And what awaited me was first & foremost meeting with my Parents, Didi, Jijaji, grandma(s), aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, nephews, wives, kids and most importantly the last two don’t exist! Second of all, it involved visiting a few temples, a garden & a casino. Third of all, it meant eating a lot of sweets/ice cream and exotic ‘once-in-a-month’ dishes at home or in one restaurant!

Now I’ll walk down my memory lanes and ramble on in  chronological order as far as possible:

  • Jetlag got over in 2 days with all the people around and the unending ‘conversations’!!!
  • After that, my parents (JK) wanted to have a little chat about me, my future and future plans! You pretty well know where all this is going, don’t you? First of all to lighten up the ambience , they asked me about what I’d done in the last two years and what will happen next and what will happen after that? I tried to answer these questions as honestly as possible and to keep our conversation light, I even inserted some anecdotes involving my advisor (which did not seem to work!). Then they got to the main point:

JK (in serious mode): <Before asking the Big Question, they spelled out their own immediate & future plans and some of the familial ‘stuff’ that I’m supposed to know & consider while forming my answer to…> When Are YOU Marrying?

me: <Before giving the Ultimate Answer, I respectfully agreed with whatever they’d told me and uttered…> not now!

JK (after what seemed like a menacingly lengthy silence): <After a long & threatening silence> OK.

me: <After analyzing & cross-checking signals from my auditory nerves> ok… <good night!>

  • Then for the next few days/weeks, there were breakfasts/lunches & visits scheduled to various family members & friends. Among all these, the most important was a grand lunch at a not-so-grand ‘restaurant’ thrown by one of my uncle (& aunt) on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary which was attended by 20 or so people. We also ‘celebrated’ two birthdays – my cousin’s (he can be found in the slideshow below if you are interested!) and my maternal uncle’s (Mamosa - this is a common noun, just in case for the gullible ones - is also in the slideshow!). Obviously, my return from America also deserved a celebration and indeed we had a great party i.e. lunch at home. And many other small ‘parties’ were attended and ordinary visits made during the course of my stay.
  • Shopping for my clothes and few other accessories was somehow included in the ever-busy shopping schedule of my sister’s and ever-busy schedule of my father’s. For the uninitiated ones, I don’t shop on my own where prices are variables (as opposed to constants) because solving equations of those variables is worse than a nightmare (or a death experience) for me!
  • Enough with the familial stuff, lets get to the places I visited:

Swayambhunath Stupa: Well not quite, there’s a new shrine built at its ‘base’ with 3 huge idols of Buddhas/Bodhisattvas. (I don’t remember all 3 names but I guess two of them are Amitabha & Avalokitesvara.) That was all we’d ‘time’ to visit on that day… so we did not climb the 100 or so (the short cut) stairs to get to the ‘real’ Stupa!

Pashupatinath Temple: Visiting this temple is almost a ritual followed at least twice during one’s stay – when one enters KTM and when one leaves KTM! And I also complied. During the first time, the main temple was too damn crowded and one had to push & shove to get a glimpse inside which I partially skipped by just glancing over others’ shoulders and backing off ‘safely’. Fortunately, the second time the visit was a breeze and one could not only get a glimpse but in fact stare for quite some time inside the temple!

Panchmukhi Balaji Temple: It is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman situated in Kavrepalanchok district about 7-8 Km from its headquarter city of Dhulikhel. It is more or less a standalone temple overlooking Arniko highway (named after Arniko) with a great scenic view around it as would be obvious from various ‘pictures’ that follow! Yes, this was indeed a picnic – as the collage below probably shows…

Panchmukhi Balaji Temple

Panchmukhi Balaji'09_collage

Kaiser Mahal/Garden of Dreams: Visited this place on the cousins’ (mentioned above; to-be-seen below) birthday. Entry fee is halved for groups of more than 9 people and including my youngest nephew (<2 yrs.) we were indeed 10! But the two guards did the counting and stopped at 9… both of them… twice!!! So we told them to count the ‘kid’ also! [:)] They ‘hesitated’ so my father said ‘then we will call in our driver also!’ And the rest, as they call it, was just pure ‘FUN’.

Casino @ Soaltee Crown Plaza: It was one of the not-so-good experiences of my trip to KTM and that also due to a petty skirmish over INR. 100 which my (elder) nephew gave to collect coins that were never handed out! Eventually, we did get it back but my sister was not satisfied with just getting it back! So we ordered three plates of Paneer snacks (free of course) and ‘left’ them after just taking one or two bites! (Well, not quite! Actually the oil used in preparing those snacks was as malodorous as (if not more) the strategic garbage lying around in the city!) So it was not that satisfactory after all or maybe it was for my sis but leaving Paneer just like that… its unheard-of in my presence… that’s what I call sacrilege and who was responsible for this sacrilegious act – the cook who made those… those… ohhhh… the humanity!!! Such wastage of Paneer… Why??? why??? [:((]

  • Now that, we’ve gotten ourselves depressed over food and also the fact that its nearing my dinner  time, I’ll talk about remakes/updates of my MATLAB programs (which were done at KTM but made available online after coming back…) in the last part of this trilogy of posts or in short, next post.
  • Finally, as every happy (or sad) story must come to an end, the dreaded (by my parents?) & much awaited (by me!) last day (23rd June) of my KTM Visit’09 finally arrived and I left once more for Stony Brook.

Places of Interest!

To be continued…

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I am Back… (I)

The well-known academic proverb ‘whoever goes home, must come back!’ applies quite well to me (at least this time!). So as you’ve guessed, I’m indeed back from home and am trying hard to complete my June’s blog quota!

School kids are usually asked to write essays in ‘language courses’ on ridiculous topics like ‘How you spent your summer vacation?’. And I always feared writing essays on such topics. Why, you ask? For all the obvious reasons: weak vocabulary & laconic nature of mine did not allow me elaborate answers that could be uttered (or written) as simply & succinctly as possible! But today, for the sake of fulfilling my blog quota, I’ll venture into this territory of essaying a typical essay!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation?

I left SUNYSB on eve of 23rd May for the first time to visit my family in Kathmandu, Nepal. There were too many legs in this trip which had to be completed successfully before I could reach my home and rest and relax and be pampered with exotic cuisine & Sweets. Though nothing interesting happened on this trip globally, it is equally interesting to analyze each individual leg of the trip locally to get to a respectable word count:

  • Chapin Apt to Univ. Bus Stop (~5 Min.): [:|]
  • Univ. Bus Stop to SAC (~10 Min.): Loading luggage on the bus is definitely a problem! [:(]
  • SAC to Physics Bldg. (~5 Min.): Meet PJ…
  • Physics Bldg. to SB Train Station (~10 Min.): PJ tags along (or so I’d like to think!)
  • SB Train Station to Huntington Station (~40 Min.): 3 people (AG, PJ, SF) to see me off! That hasn’t happened to me in like 30 years!!!
  • Huntington Station to Jamaica Station (~50 Min.): Got in with some struggle but got in nonetheless!
  • Jamaica Station to JFK Terminal 4 via AirTrain (~15 Min.): Wow! this is just great, the escalator doesn’t work… anyway, got over it… But then why is the ticket to AirTrain called MetroCard? Confused me such that I could not figure out how the card should go in the slot and I’d to be assisted!!! How lame is that? More important than that is this eternal question: WHY is there a LONG line at Qatar Airways baggage check-in 4 hrs before the scheduled time of departure (STD)???
  • JFK – Baggage Check-in: My luggage weighs 30 Kg (should be <= 23 Kg)!!! WOW… am asked to shift at least 6 Kg to my bag on my shoulders or else… So I do just that!
  • JFK – Security Check: No Problem!!!
  • JFK – Boarding QA: All right, at last and its right on time!!! [:)]
  • NY [JFK] to Doha [DOH] (~10 Hr.) : YOU can NOT sleep in the economy class seats. After eating the served meal, playing with the touch-screen monitor, catching a couple of winks, there’s still 5 more hours to go!!! What the Hell??? But it all passed eventually, the flight landed 1 hr before ETA!!!
  • DOH arrival to DOH departure (~3 Hr.): Transit security checks, no problem and boarding again on time!!! I’m impressed…
  • Doha [DOH] to New Delhi [DEL] (~3 Hr.): Peaceful flight again… watched Dasvidaniya on-flight!!!
  • Delhi Arrival formalities: Peaceful again… but just before the exit, a ‘policewoman’ asks me ‘Hey, how many laptops do you have?’ I say, ‘None!’… some more trivial exchanges and after a while her colleague gestures to her to let me go and go I did!!!
  • Delhi Arrival Terminal to Departure Terminal: Came to know about the elevator that runs there for this purpose! Slip-in the terminal by suggesting that security check has started for my Air India flight which did not start till half an hour later… Indeed, I’m pleased with myself!!!
  • DEL – Baggage Check-in: Now 25 Kg (should be <= 20 Kg) is not a problem… Why? I realize later that the flight is only 50% full!!!
  • DEL – Security Check: No Problem again which is not always true!!! And I was right because after this I went to a PCO to call KTM and let my family know that the flight is on-time and ‘send my ride’ accordingly! After the call, I pick up the bill which reads Rs. 811 and I’d talked no more that 2 minutes! I complain to the owner and he says it is to be read backwards and tells me to pay Rs. 118! At this point, I didn’t know if I were to feel infuriated or laugh hysterically… anyway after some more verbal exchanges, I give him Rs. 20 and leave feeling triumphant!!!
  • DEL – Boarding: Which to my surprise was also on time even by Indian Standards!!!
  • New Delhi [DEL] to Kathmandu [KTM] (~1 Hr.): Always enjoyable…
  • Kathmandu Arrival formalities: Everything went smoothly… Collect my baggage and head out of the terminal.
  • Airport to Home (Morning of 25th May): I get out of the terminal and look for the familiar faces of the car, driver, my sister, anyone!!! What the Hell??? No one around??? How can this be happening? Every leg of my trip started on-time and completed on-time (even early sometimes!) but why break that continuity at the last leg??? After waiting for 10 min, I call home and am told my sister & aunt had already left… Well, I wait for 5 more minutes and I see the familiar faces of my sister & aunt… Sometimes you got to ask tough questions without delay so I asked them why the delay? Their answer had two parts: One part was more or less obvious: my sister was included in the ‘receive me’ party and  another was traffic at peak hour which (they were not kidding) has increased a hell lot since two years ago… anyway, it is GOOD TO BE BACK HOME!!!

Tahachal [My house is inscribed in a red rectangle.]

To be continued…

Friday, May 22, 2009

Illusions, Misconceptions & Misunderstandings - III

WARNING: This series of posts should be read under Parental Sub-conscious Guidance. Not suitable for Minors (under-)grads with only trivial encounters with Physic(ist)s.

This is the third volume of the IMM series of posts. For previous ones, search the archives on the left! So lets get started...


Following is a conversation between a guy and two girls I heard on the bus early in the morning (~7:40 AM) while travelling from my apartment to the department to attend QFT class:

…<some uninteresting crap>

Guy: There were two girls with me, who were first-timers…

Girls: So how did it go???/What was it like???

Guy: Well, <someone> told me that I could do whatever I felt like...

It gets a bit graphic after this for a few sentences and ‘uninteresting’ but anyhow it became clear after a while what the whole conversation was all about… Any guesses??? Its obviously not the obvious one!!! Behold the SCENE they were apparently talking about - Proctoring an Exam!!!

If you don’t understand this talk now, hell you are not alone (also that is not my problem!) I still don’t  get what the hell was he trying to convey anyway!!!


This one is particularly about coincidences and am experimenting on trying to fit it into these series of posts quite ‘seamlessly’! So here goes the Untitled experiment:

Setup: Late last year (around Diwali [Oct/Nov] I guess), I had a dream about a girl’s name ‘Anita’. It was not the first time though(!) and it is more unusual because I do not know anyone of that name in reality!

Theory: My mother who was visiting Kolkata (CCU) at that time informs me “she’d found her daughter-in-law!” I go ‘Hahaha hehehe’ and shrugged ‘it’ off… What else can one do while on a phone call??? :)

Data: After a few days, I saw a name on Orkut’s recent visitor list: Ankita. Obviously, I checked her profile and gathered two ‘crucial’ pieces of information: (i) she IS from CCU; & (ii) she is NOT connected to any of my friends!!!

Results: I go ‘Holy Crap!!! Was She Serious???’

Conclusion/Discussion: I called her up (not then and there, of course!!!) and asked for some details. It turned out my mother was kidding with me…  She did not even have a NAME to tell me in the first place!!! I’m still laughing out loud at how ironic all this turned out to be at the end of the day. :=))

The discussion can obviously continue indefinitely about the success of this experiment but I’m going home (KTM) on Saturday for a month and am writing this post to fulfill the post quota for May (as was done last month… I hope this does not turn into a routine!). So if you want to discuss this experiment further, I leave you with the YM Chat thingy below (also as an experiment!) instead of the usual end-of-the-post-link!

Testing YM!!! 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gauging my Knowledge!!!

Many people have asked me and I’ve asked many people why a photon has only two polarizations/ degrees of freedom (DoF) and not four! The ‘qualitative’ answer which most people (including me) gave and with which I was satisfied for quite some time consists simply of two parts:

  • one DoF reduced due to gauge invariance (4-1=3);
  • another DoF removed due to masslessness of photon (3-1=2)!

But after sometime, hearing this mundane answer did not satisfy me or the others anymore (basically others but lets not digress)! So I took it upon myself to settle this once and for all. You may ask why go to such lengths to answer an age-old question of which everyone knows the answer which is ‘DoF for a massless vector gauge field in D dimensions is (D-2)’. Well, there are two reasons:

  • As PvN stresses in his classes it is always good to have a concrete example worked out than always deal with generalities/ abstractions!
  • In GS’s QFT class, I got to know the ‘answer’ which one of the many people (lets call him PJ) does not agree to happening… go figure!

There is one more (2+1=3) very important reason: after reading this page by WS, I got the urge to test the Unicode stuff myself. So I post here the answer starting ‘from scratch’. This will probably be the only place in which I present Math and Physics simultaneously and roughly in equal proportion. [As should be obvious from my second reason, the following is ‘shamelessly’ lifted from notes of GS’s QFT class. Though any mistakes below would be entirely mine due to the well-known phenomenon of Lost in Translation.]

Lets start from the Lagrangian and Equations of Motion (EoM) for the massless vector gauge field Aμ:


EoM: ∂μFμν=0 ⇒ □Aν-∂ν(∂μAμ)=0

We know that ℒ is invariant under following Gauge Transformation (GT) where λ is a gauge parameter:

GT: A'μ(x)=Aμ(x)–∂μλ(x)

We can use GT to change EoM: Given Aμ(x) that solves EoM, construct λ(x) such that □λ=∂μAμ which implies ∂μA'μ=0. A thing to note is that A'μ(x) still has same Fμν and EoM, i.e. A'μ is physically equivalent to Aμ.

Now we gauge fix the Lagrangian, i.e. give up manifest gauge invariance but keep all the physically distinct solutions:


EoM: □Aν-(1-α)∂ν(∂μAμ)=0

where α is a (real & non-zero) gauge fixing parameter.

Acting with ∂ν on EoM gives α□(∂μAμ)=0 ⇒ ∂μAμ=0.

Now we are left with D EoM & 1 Lorentz condition:

□Aμ=0 & ∂μAμ=0.

Solving the first equation gives:

Aμ(x)=aμe-ik.x where k2=0 with k0≡ωk≡|k|

(Notation: k is a D-vector and k is a (D-1)-vector!)

Lorentz condition enforces k.a=0. This suggests the general solution: aμ=Ckμμ where εμ should satisfy ε0=0 & ε.k=0 (as is easily checked!) This already suggests 2 DoF have vanished; lets make it concrete by gauging Aμ using

λ(x)=iCe-ik.x ⇒ A'μ(x) = Aμ(x)–∂μλ(x) = εμe-ik.x.

Now, it is obvious that a vector gauge field has only (D-2) DoF since ε0=0 & ε.k=0. In other words, timelike and longitudinal components are not physical, only transverse components (usually called polarizations in 4-D and hence the symbol ‘remaining’ is ε!) are physical and count as DoF!

Thus, we see that loosing two DoF is not so straightforward as the argument at the beginning of this post suggested; there is a subtlety as to how gauge invariance and masslessness conspire to get rid of these DoF. If you are wondering where the masslessness was used(!), keep reading…

Finally, lets look at the massive vector field and observe how longitudinal component remains physical!

ℒ=-¼FμνFμν+½m2AμAμ (Not gauge invariant!)

EoM: □Aν-∂ν(∂μAμ)+m2Aν=0

ν EoM ⇒ m2(∂νAν)=0

Here also we are left with D EoM and 1 Lorentz condition:

(□+m2)Aμ=0 & ∂μAμ=0.

But that is as far as we can go since no GT can reduce DoF any further (basically due to m2 in EoM) and so we are left with one more DoF compared to massless case, i.e. D-1 DoF.

I hope this satisfies some (if not all) of the many people I referred to earlier. And if you (the reader) have a succinct/ concise/ elegant proof (but explicit as done here), you are welcome to post it in the comments or tell me via any other communication means you may find reasonable!

So, that is it for this month and if you have not read this ‘ground-breaking’ paper in fundamental mathematics; you are missing out something very important in your life!

Time variation of a fundamental dimensionless constant

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Obsession with Sketchbook

Before I start talking about the story behind my title and complete my post quota for the month of March, let me say I am ‘glad to tell you’ that I have my first paper @ SUNYSB (numerically 3rd) put up on [I may write about this in some detail in next month’s post.] Now that we are done with the formalities, lets get back to the informal stuff.

As you might remember from my previous post, I was (am!) quite hooked to the anime/manga called ‘Sketchbook’. I mean how can you not be hooked to this brilliant piece of work when the ‘darkest’ character (Kokage Kuga) is asked to laugh after being ‘complimented’ for having a poker face!

Kuga Smiling!

In fact, one of my friends says he’ll also get ‘hooked’ to this one after realizing there is a nature-lover (Nagisa Kurihara) in this manga! That said I’m so hooked that while working on the problem of  ‘Gauge Invariance…’ (check previous post to understand what I’m talking about!), I inadvertently started sketching the main character (Sora Kajiwara) on the same piece of paper! If you don’t believe me, here’s the sketch (the better one!):

My Sketch of Sora...

What I was trying to sketch was this: [:)]

Sora... Deep in Thought!

or this!

Delighted Sora!

Now that I’ve wasted some of your precious time with irrelevant ranting, please get back to whatever you were doing before arriving to my relatively short post this month. Obviously, I’ll leave you with a last link as usual!

Nawaz Deobandi recited poems for 40 minutes on-stage!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Experiencing Death!!!

27 Jan: While taking an afternoon nap on this day, dreamt of chest's right side hurting a bit... slowly the pain seemed to worsen, so put one finger on a rib and pressed slightly... it didn't help much... the pain continued worsening... more and more and more... also it dawned that breathing had become difficult... increasingly difficult...

Suddenly, revelation hit... ITS NO DREAM!!! ITS REAL... indeed it was... excruciating pain in right side of the chest... difficulty breathing... can't breathe properly... can't inhale completely... pain shoots up while inhaling... as if the ribs are poking in the right lung!!! stand up slowly... STILL it pains while breathing... revelation hit again... DAMMIT ITS REAL!!! ITS NO DREAM...

Removed T-shirt... thinking maybe it soothes pain while breathing in short 'pulses' to reduce stinging chest pain... checked right-chest: huge depression on right-chest... now pretty sure of ribs digging in lungs... flush of despair, anxiety & pain... body heats up... start sweating... vision blurs... zooming through white space... like the stars screensaver but no white dots in black sky, just white streaks in white background!!! closed eyes...

Thoughts (in order of appearance!!!) start surfacing:

Is this 'Dying'??? (breathing excruciatingly painful...)

Should go to Infirmary... but that is too far!!! (can't even move my legs properly now...)

Should recite Navkar Mantra like mother tells to do under such circumstances!!! start doing so... stop after 4-5 times and thinking of lying down... (STINGING PAIN) lie down in opposite direction wrt earlier... feel cool breeze from a very slightly open window... (is it soothing???)

Now thinking of chugging Bryonia - homeopathic medicine for all ailments: cough, cold, fever... (probably would also work in case of dying of pain!!!)


Slowly the pain disappears and the depression on chest seems to have been filled... lungs no more constrained... can inhale fully... open eyes slowly... vision restored!!! stand up... can breathe normally... no pain... flush of relief, Relief & RELIEF!!!

AFTERTHOUGHTS: The rumored depression on my chest still exists: it seems to be an indispensable part of my emaciated body!!! It seemed huge maybe because of pain, fear, delusion or whatever (leaning towards right makes the depression deeper!!!) and while lying down it does disappear which is normal!!! The pain may have been due to CO2 poisoning or lower O2 levels (but symptoms don't quite match!) owing to several factors: (i) the quilt (pretty low temperature outside!) was tightly wrapped around my face forming 'huge walls'; (ii) the 'wrong' inclination of the floor (or bed) meant my head lay lower than my feet; (iii) almost sealed room with only a slightly open window near my feet. The recovery may have been due to the  access to 'fresh air' after reorienting myself! After thinking of all this crap, I lie down again on the bed and laugh out loud for quite some time... enjoying the Death Experience!!!

Lastly and most importantly (and obviously) like in Rurouni Kenshin, the moral of the story is: There is Nothing Stronger than the Will to Live!!! :)

After reading through this 'grim' post, do lighten up by reading

Hidamari Sketch

*Great resolve now that I think back, though as of this day I'm yet to solve it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tasting Indian Food!!!

After being in US for nearly 17 months, homesickness has started to set in. And most of it is because of not getting 'typical' Indian food (the vegetarian portion is being considered here if you do not realize!) as seen in this image.

FOOD on Table

Look at all the Sweets: (1) Agra Petha, (2) Gazak, (3) Gulab Jamun, (4) Kaju Barfi/Roll, (5) Cake... & Namkeens: (6) Samosa, (7) Dahi Wada, (8) Cheese Toast, (9) Chhole, (10) Noodles... Maaannnn, if I were not as abstemious as I am, I'd be running out of towels to wipe off all my drool here in the apartment!!! So why am I  bringing this 'delicate' subject up in this post??? Good question indeed!!!

That is because I'm a self-constituted/confessed Sweet-Critic/Connoisseur. As a matter of fact, I taste all the sweets brought to home before anybody else. Now you may be thinking that's because I'm the youngest of all!!! (I hate these logical reasons...) Hell No... there do exist younger ones in the house (once in a while) but I am always able to snatch the first bite, Hell Yeah!!! Who do you think I am??? No one kids with me  when sweets are involved and that includes adults, kids and gods! There is a running gag in my family about offering 'प्रसाद prasad (offerings)' first to me and then to Ganesh!!!

OK, that's too much ranting about My Deserved Holiness (MDH: I wonder how many will get the pun in here)... Lets get back to the topic of this post: food and pick up from the first sentence of the last paragraph: ...seur. I tend to include any food item made of Paneer also in the definition of sweets much like the following usage of word 'sweet':

Someone: Hey, I got accepted/appointed/promoted/married to...

Someone else: Sweet!!!

So I could not stop myself from picking this "Amy's Indian Mattar Paneer" packet when I caught sight of it at Pathmark in the aisle (or 'path' as they like to call it there!) having frozen Pizzas.

Front: Amy's Indian Mattar Paneer

Being a Critic/Connoisseur, I just could not let go of this opportunity of tasting something whose origin is so delightfully explained on the back of the packet!

Back: Origin...

Carefully note that only Mattar Paneer is written on the packet's front but the image shows Rice (pulao) and Garbanzo Beans (chana masala) also. I thought they might be providing serving suggestions but then I read the ingredients:

Back: Ingredients...

It shows all the ingredients shown in the front image but still I did not realize/believe that I would get all the three items in one packet - I was hoping it would just have Mattar Paneer. Noting so many organic things in the ingredients, you feel doubtful of all the things you have eaten your entire life till now!!! Also, noteworthy is the fact that Amy states SPICES* in the ingredients and then in the footnote says (no hidden ingredients)!!! This can probably be produced as an example of  a figure of speech called Ironymoron.

I b(r)ought it home, opened the packaging and I was left with my mouth agape. It had all the three food items and arranged almost in the same format as shown in the image on the front of the box. Even the number of Paneer pieces was same (6)! I microwaved it and tasted all the three items in one gulp. That aroma, flavor, texture was as close as it could be (here in US!) to what I would get at home or a 'proper' Indian restaurant like those run by Haldiram's!

Let me explain first the 4 aspects which I use to classify Sweets (food in general) before I proceed further:

  • Aroma: The scent which you get even before you put the sweets in mouth. The smell of rose water or vanilla essence is the best!
  • Flavour: This has to be experienced by yourself and the best way to describe it is the feeling of uuummmm... as the taste gets unleashed in your mouth.
  • Texture: The quality of the sweet which is experienced as you chew it and roll it on your tongue. The best is when either the whey is rubbery and you realize you are chewing it longer than usual or the khoa dissolves in your mouth even before you realize you didn't need to use your teeth!
  • Bliss: This is the rarest aspect one ever considers but since I'm a connoisseur, I got to go ahead of the mere mortals and say something  unusual. This is not the quality of the sweet itself as such but the feeling you get after devouring your favourite sweet one piece at a time. Obviously, it has to be prepared in the best possible way such that you can close your eyes and murmur the immortal line: "Today's a good day to Die!".

Now lets check how many aspects of the Amy's 're-creation of Indian food' appeal to me:

  • Aroma: Excellent apart from the fact that I don't like Cumin's scent in my food!
  • Flavour: Excellent again. The mildly spiced curry had the correct composition of Spices - the way I'm used to!
  • Texture: Pulao and Chana Masala were perfect but it is the hardest aspect to infuse in Paneer, at least one that satisfies me! The raw Paneer used felt a little 'stiff' (my vocabulary of adjectives is limited so I cannot depict what I felt accurately but those thinking that microwaving it for some more time would have made it tender are wasting their thoughts!) which could have been remedied (I guess!) if they were fried which masks the 'stiffness' a little. But then maybe I should not expect much from frozen foods!
  • Bliss: It made me close my eyes but instead of murmuring the immortal line, it made me murmur the mortal one: "I'm not dying till I get to eat home-cooked food from my mother's hands one more time"!

So, what is the result of my assessment? I'd give 4.5/5 to this 'would have been magnificent' product... '.5' deducted because price is too damn high (~$6) and the whole thing is not even enough for one meal. Generally I can buy 3 individual packets of Vegetable Pulao, Chana Masala & Mattar Paneer from Desi Store for that amount and use each packet for nearly two meals... obviously I use some 'extra' Chapatis or Parathas!!!

I realize now that this was a pretty long post and Kudos to you my dear reader for be(ar)ing with me till now! So, here I end my review of an American-Indian Food!!!

As is the norm, Check these Indian Sweets out so you know what you are missing on this Earth which can make you feel like you are in Heaven:

List of Indian Sweets