Monday, March 02, 2020

Originally from June 2016 - I have a 7 month old, and a lot of my friends who are parents often get offended when I compare human babies and puppies and say how similar they are.
The aforesaid friends obviously have never had puppies. Neither have I, literally speaking. But the offense puzzles me. I am not degrading a human baby, I find it fascinating that so much of animal life, mammals in particular, are so similar in this circus of life, that you wonder about the humour of the ringmaster and the hubris of humans.

Explanations to a 4 year old

As of today, these are some questions my 4 year old and I are wrestling with:
What is the Government ?
What does the President do ?
What is the coronavirus ?
Methinks the last one is easiest to comprehend and explain - It is a germ. It makes you sick. Keep washing your hands to get it off so it doesn't make you and others sick.
In the present day, the answers to all three questions may be indistinguishable from each other.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Pots and Pans

Pots and Pans

These colorful toys with lights and bling
These farm animals that moo and sing
These fancy cloth and textured books
These boxes with sounds of waves and brooks
These silicone, acacia and latex teethers
These non bpa stage 1 stage 2 feeders
These whirling mobiles and swinging dolls
These swirly tops and bouncy balls
They catch my eye for a moment or two
They soon become old what were just now new
From your kitchen give me a pot and pan
And a wooden spoon to bang and clang
You will make me smile and laugh and play
For hours on hours of  my day!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Who you?

Stare at the mirror today.
Look at its eyes
Who is it?
A First name ,  Last name?
With a temporary postal address?
Somewhere on Google Maps?
On a postage stamp of land
that the owner of the eyes stands on
claiming ownership of a unique consciousness
borne of firing neurons
and pumping blood,
identifying it as A 'Person'
with a First name  and a Last name
Somewhere on Earth.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Another oversimplified quantum physics metaphor

A simple web search of any keywords involving quantum physics, spirituality and god reveals articles that are a dime a dozen. Given any layman's rather limited understanding of what quantum physics is all about, not to mention most physicists not reaching any consensus on how to explain quantum physics in layman terms, means that I can add a few more intellectual sounding buzzwords to this quantum soup and get away with sounding pretty (and!) intelligent.

A concept of quantum physics that has always fascinated me is that the very act of measuring or observation changes the experiment. It forces the phenomenon being observed into a state that it wasn't in prior to the act of observation. In other words it affects the experiment. And hence another quantum physics metaphor that I would like to add to the growing list of "quantum physics explains everything".

Consider the concept of memory and recall. Say you have to commit to memory a long list of complicated calculus theorems (I don't know why you would...maybe to impress your equally dorky significant other), or a grocery shopping list for the next day (what happened to the smartphone or the old school post-it...just go along with me, will you?). Time = t0, You first look at the list and repeat it to your self. I poll you at time t1 and t2 to check how much of the list you remember. Time t3 is showtime. Now, imagine I didn't poll you at time t1 and t2 and you directly move to time t3 = showtime. You know where this is going. There is a much higher likelihood that you will remember more of your list when I polled you, than when I didn't. The very act of forcing you to recall reinforces the memory of the shopping list. The act of observation (is the shopping list in your memory?) changes the physical state of the memory by reinforcing it.

I feel very intellectual.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Very Funny

Funny does what Funny says
Funny does it for funny's praise
When Funny tries too hard to fun it up
Funny falls and can't get up

Sunday, July 21, 2013

(Almost) Everybody is a Bengali

Now that I have your attention , with the Paati (pure) Bengalis' neck hairs prickling and the Abangalis ( rest of the world) wondering what they did to deserve such exaltation , or demotion, depending on how you view The Bengali.
No. it is not the Hilsa jhol, unreasonable Pujo euphoria, red bordered white saris, white shanka red paula, excruciatingly slow Tagore song singing singers in every family,  and saccharin sweet shandesh that makes a Bengali, though that helps. What defines a Bengali is a poetic mind and a philosophical bent, or poetic bent and philosphic mind. We thinks of words and ideas, lay them out, rearrange them, discuss them, frown over them, pedantically peddle them to our fellow human beings. With furrowed brows and a smirk, from the comfort of our arm-chairs, our self-worth supported by other cha-drinking arm-chaired learned pedants, we pontificate on how things are and how they should be. The arm chaired artistic Bengali  will look in horror at the plebian who gets up and says, okay my cha is finished, my ideas formulated, the rest of my learning shall be in the doing.  Oh no, the  beauty of our thoughts and words should never be soiled by the pedestrian action of reduction to practice.
So are we, the rest of the privileged world, keyboarded and tethered to our electronic armchairs, our self worth propped up by the mirroring of our words and images,  through tweets and retweets, posts and re-posts, a plethora of comfortable online petitions and an occasional feel-good donation, updated statuses of a flock of  bright parrots all perched on a 10 Gbps fiber optic line, chanting Me-too, me-too. Just like this blog post, re-posted and re-linked, waiting for X comments and Y likes. And I, doubly doomed, a Bengali sceptic and a Facebook Filosopher, an air-conditioned American Armchair Activist, so little to say of worth, so little to do of worth, yet so much to Update!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Angootha Chaap (Thumbprint Signer)

How easy it is to be reminded, that one's life experiences are but an infinitesimal fraction of the world's and one's knowledge and learning in one sphere is of little consequence in another.

Two weeks ago I prided myself on being able to speak 4 languages. A week later, stepping into the far-east, my utter illiteracy felt like a scathing slap to my misplaced hubris. Mandarin, a language spoken by over 20% of the world's population, with a beautiful pictographic script evolved from 5000 years of rich culture and history, where each character/word is laden with meaning, heavily nuanced, differently intonated,  and an art and history lesson in itself.

Yet, all I could do is make vague hand gestures, or get things written by helpful hands for me to wave to taxi drivers and tour guides. In other words, I had become LotstoDo, PhD. Angootha Chaap (thumbrint signer).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The last 45 days

It has been a lovely last 45 days, three of of Phaedrus' and my friends got great job offers, Phaedrus and I finally moved together to upstate NY to the same city (and apartment!) after 18 years since we became friends in middle-school, and are finally fighting it out over choice of living room furniture. We might live to tell the tale yet.
In the last 45 days I also said good bye to many many friends in Durham, who helped me survive grad school, and became my extended family. Turns out Durham is colder than Albany today. So can't moan and use the line: "I miss NC weather" anytime soon, and have to admit to "I miss NC friends " instead when I am in a complaining mood. On the other hand, we've reconnected with old friends in the new place and made new ones, so it's not altogether bad.
In the last 45 days I also put my sister back on the plane to London, having met her after 2.5 years. The Lotstodo sisters had traveled to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Washington DC, The Blue Ridge mountains, New York City and of course Durham and up-state NY. Very eventful, as would be expected with 2 strong willed sisters and an "I know what is best for you"elder sister (ahem).
In the last 45 days I learnt that furniture that isn't sourced from Craig's list or the last grad student in the apartment actually costs $$, and 0% financing is a good thing while you are trying to repair your bank balance buffeted by the domestic airline industry for the last so many years (MSP, here I come!, RDU here I come!).
Phaedrus already started work....I still have a week more to go. So In the last 45 days I also learnt, that feminism or otherwise, it is great to have a guy pay for everything. He feels chivalrous, and I feel pampered. My feminist core doesn't seem to be taking much of a beating, so maybe I am not a feminist any more. In the last 45 days I also learnt that though I can cook decently if I put my mind to it (to feed the family and friends like a good wife should), I'd rather be doing something else, like putting a mean spin on a ping-pong ball or reading a book or agonizing over how ill-prepared I feel for a job that is designated "scientist". So post-grad world, umm... here I come?!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another list of things

In the past 3 months....

1. I traveled to 7 cities
2. 3 of which were with my gori (white) advisor and desi (Indian) labmate.
3. I saw a tigress in the wild from afar.
4. And got growled at by a mother bear in the wild from very near.
5. Got hurled through time and space in an open jeep down a steep cliffy road at 60 kmph.
6. Haggled over a $850 silk rug and got it down to $700 by using the argument that we would have to walk (instead of taking a chauffeur driven car) and eat only glucose biscuits (instead of paneer and the works in room service)
7. Be driven around the Ranthambore forest by a guy who my advisor christened "lovely face".
8. Stayed in a hotel room where the bathroom walls were transparent glass (why?). In case you are wondering, we found electronically controlled blinds to allow us to perform our ablutions in private.
9. Stood in a temple queue for 5 hours, to glimpse the deity for 5 seconds. No kidding. (Tirupati)
10. Met a Duke alum on the other side of the counter at the US Consulate in Mumbai, who DID NOT give me my visa in spite of chatting with me about Duke basketball.
11. Enjoyed 8 straight hours of live Indian classical music performances.
12. And another 2 to the backdrop of a historic fort.
13. Barely made it back to the States. (involved a tire blowout, mixup of airports, delayed flights, and a suspiciously shaped box on my back that was my size)

All to the refrain of "May tori tori Hindi samaajtee HOONN" (The American way of saying "I understand a little bit of Hindi")

Each of the above deserves it's own blog post, but in the meantime, feel free to wonder.