2010 in review

3 01 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 4 times

In 2010, there were 2 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 17 posts. There were 6 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb.

The busiest day of the year was September 16th with 147 views. The most popular post that day was A Definitive Guide to PhD (Pt 1).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were orkut.co.in, facebook.com, iisc.wordpress.com, orkut.com, and ncsi.iisc.ernet.in.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for sudarshan kriya, sri sri ravi shankar, art of war, the art of war, and 100 days of kriya.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

A Definitive Guide to PhD (Pt 1) September 2010
21 comments

2

100 days of Sudarshan Kriya November 2008
5 comments

3

A Small Story of Love March 2010
18 comments

4

About Me October 2008

5

About a Girl October 2008
11 comments

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A Definitive Guide to PhD (Pt 1)

16 09 2010

Hello Folks,

Welcome to the first part of “The Definitive Guide to PhD”. As an 8th year PhD student and with the due blessings of my seniors (9th to 11th year PhD students (uncles?)), I feel I am qualified enough to tell you newbs what to expect from your PhD. It’s always good to be prepared. Sun Tzu, as he says in, “The art of war”,

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

Sun Tzu

Not to say of course that PhD is a war. War is something where either of the sides can win. When it’s already decided that you are a loser, it can perhaps be called PhD, for simply lack of words.  But before you get disappointed, let me share my wealth of experience. The wise ones as they say learn from others mistakes. Though people and at times you, yourself would doubt how wise it was to have joined for PhD, be very sure that you have not made a mistake. Mistake is something that can be corrected. When it cannot be, it’s called a blunder.

For the first part, let’s describe the types of advisors or “guides” that you may come across. But before that, what should you know:

  • First and foremost, know that your boss is your God. (And do not forget, Yama, the God of death, too is a God.)

Yama: The Boss

  • The number of years you will take to finish you PhD is give by,

n = 3 (m+1)

where m is the number of years your boss says he will give your PhD in.

  • Your boss will never crush your dreams. The dreams with which you enter the campus like curing cancer or making a time machine or sorry…I forgot what mine was (it was at the beginning of this century, dude!) are simply unrealistic. All your boss does is to let you know that, journals like Science and Nature are out of your scope and you should be satisfied with the IEEE or Elsevier is where you belong.
  • Your boss does not have a big ego. However, it would still be wise if you never ever tell him something like, “But you only said it.”

Once you know these basic axioms, I will come up with the different “Types” of Boss in part two of the series. Until then, ya well… download movies from the repositories.





A Small Story of Love

23 03 2010

I have been asked why I don’t blog so often now and I am sorry if you guys miss my writing. And well, I take it as a compliment of course. Reason is simple. I don’t have much to say. This blog is not about my idea or opinions. It’s just some stories I have encountered in life. Some are mine and some are of people I know. But basically they are stories. So until something doesn’t happen around me, this blog stays put. So you can guess, someting has indeed happened recently. I fell in love. Today’s story is about that love. Here we go.

Last week I went to Rishikesh. Don’t ask me how. I just did. Went for a conference to Delhi. Felt out of place there and thought of doing a bit of soul searching etc. and landed up in Rishikesh. There I met Pavni. This is her little story. It’s edited because it’s my blog but the crux of it hasn’t changed.

During one of Guruji’s (that’s His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) satsangs in Rishikesh, an old lady came up to Him with a child in her hands. The lady wasn’t old I guess. Just the lines on her face, from too much of physical work made her look old. The child, she told Guruji was an abandoned child. She had found the baby girl in the bushes nearby on the banks of river Ganga. She didn’t know what to do with her.

Guruji just smiled as He normally does. Nodded His head and made an eye contact with “Her”.  Don’t ask me, who. It was just somebody sitting in the Satsangs. And She immediately knew what She had to do. After the satsang was over, She went to the lady to have a look at the child.

She was a beautiful child. She was dark but then, She thought, wasn’t Krishna dark too? She lay there smiling in the old woman’s hands. Blissfully moving her tiny hands and feet and smiling at Her. And She knew, there was some connection here. It was love in first sight.

“What’s her name?”, She asked the woman in Hindi.

“I don’t know.” said the woman.

“Let’s call her Pavni Ganga.”

And so she came to be known as Pavni Ganga or simply Pavni.

“I can take care of her”, said the old woman, “but I don’t have enough money.”

“Don’t worry about it. I will send you money regularly. You just take care of her needs.”

And so it happened. Pavni became her adopted daughter. This happened in 2006. Four years ago. Pavni now is four years old and the love story is still on.

Two weeks back She met Pavni again and enrolled her in a school run by a relatively unknown NGO called KHUSHI FOUNDATION. Pavni now goes to school.

This Saturday I met Pavni. She is a very beautiful 4 year old girl and is very bright. She liked me immediately. Her home is right next to the Ganga river. We played in the river for a while. We made some silly game to play and she liked it very much. It basically involved splashing a lot of water and getting wet.

She then took me to see her school. The NGO, run by a Dutch woman Madelien Broekman. On the way we saw a shop. Pavni is crazy about chocolates. She does a lot of dramas just to get that chocolate. (Just like She does.) I had no choice to get her the chocolate. So that’s Pavni. I was glad I could meet her. It was one of the best evenings I had. The holy river and the story of love.

And now the answer, who is She?

It’s none other than our dear Minni.

Sure go to Rishikesh. That is one place you should never miss. Sure go for river rafting and the ashrams and the chantings. But remember this small little story and go meet this little angel, who is being taken care of by another angel. You will fall in love with her. At least I did.





Earth Hour @ IISc

28 03 2009

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I have come to believe this and I’m sure many of you will agree. Things mostly work if they happen spontaneously; more the planning lesser the chances of things working fine. This one happened just like that.

28th march, 8:30 – 9:31 PM (local time), is celebrated as “Earth Hour” throughout the world. What you (the whole world) do is this – you simply switch off all the lights around you. It starts off from Australia and New Zealand and goes around the earth longitudinally. Imagine watching the earth from space; regions getting blacked-out, one after the other. Must be fun for those damn Martians watching.

Oh, the cause by the way is to make everybody aware of this new mad cow disease, “Global Warming”. It simpler than that actually. It’s just to let people know that they should switch off their lights and other electrical appliances when not in use. So this was the back-ground for an exciting evening ahead.

At lunch, a few of us sat nibbling at the food when somebody just mentioned casually about the earth hour. It was more than enough for the satsangis to spring into action. Within minutes a plan (spontaneous plan) had been unfurled. The mess-authorities had been spoken to. Word was spread in other messes. Posters were made.People went out and got candles…

(Why candles? Switch off lights and burn the carbon emitting candles? Boy that’s stupid.)

OK! Here’s why. Google a bit and you will notice that carbon emission is 31% lesser for candles than tube-lights and that too if we are talking about same light-intensity. Period.

The whole thing is also meant to be more of an awareness. People should know what’s killing the earth. And thirdly, let’s not make it too inconvenient for skeptical people around.

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At 8:15, we (the AoLites in IISc) were armed with candles. They were lit and were arranged in a wonderful ratio of 1candle per table. That done, the lights were turned off and so were the fans.

What followed next was a big round of applause and cheers from almost all the people. It was a success. We then had nice dinner – full of laughter and jokes. It was a nice feeling to have done something rather than just sit and talk about doing something. The dinner seemed extra special and extra tasty.

When it’s IISc, expect lots of people to criticize you. And if they know that you are from Art of Living, expect being ridiculed and laughed at. All that happened. There were attempts by some pseudo-intellectuals to switch on the lights. That was dealt with. However, nobody seemed to have the guts to talk openly or argue with us. Off they went to some remote place, switched on the lights to smoke their coffin nails – the cigarettes. (I wonder though, why one needs light to smoke a cigarette. Perhaps they are scared of putting it in their nose. Whatever, may God bless them.)

At 9:30 the lights went on. We collected the candles and walked back happy. Feels so good. Tomorrow morning – So-Ham time.





Spirituality of the Geniuses

11 11 2008

The Indian Institute of Science or IISc as it is lovingly called is as you know THE Premier Research Institute of the country and by country I of course mean India. Unlike the IITs, which were 7 on the last count, the country has just one IISc which goes to show the “whats-the-word” about it. (Some word which means something like “awesomeness”{if that’s the word}).moto_0037

The students here, including me, the author of this post, are said to be the scientific cream of the country. Now, despite my unlimited modesty, I cannot deny that this place is a place of scientific geniuses. And mark my words, I said “scientific” geniuses. And a constantly analyzing and a questioning mind is sometimes too much when you take up “spirituality”.

This is centenary year for IISc and thanks to Guruji and all the volunteers, IISc suddenly has a big gang of Art-of-living-ians. We are roughly 30-40 people now. That’s excluding the people who have done the course but do not do their regular kriya. Anyway, Guruji has often said that science and spirituality do not clash. And I agree. (Who am I to disagree with him anyway?). But then, in IISc, things are funny. They aren’t normal. Rashmin, who has taught most of us, would testify. And although science and spirituality do not clash, the minds of us IIScians go out of the way to contradict these things. Anyway, so be it.

Before throwing stones on other people’s glass houses, its always better to get stoned and not leave your own glass house unbroken for others to break it. (I know I am making a mistake somewhere, that’s not how this proverb is). How did I get into art of living? I don’t know. Last thing I remember before I heard “So HAM” was that I wanted to go to Andaman Nicobar and stay there alone. Needless to say, AoL has changed my life.

Whereas science wants experience first and then it believes, spirituality demands belief first and then come the experiences. Now that causes the conflict. How can I accept something I don’t know about? Anyway, on a closer look, the patterns reverse. When one does a scientific experiment, he isn’t sure of the results but it’s done nevertheless, while when one hears the benefits of spiritual practices from thousands of people that constitutes as a statistical truth. And well, for me, one day I realized: How come I believe in electrons when I haven’t seen one? Isn’t that faith too? Don’t I just believe in them because I can feel their effect? So shouldn’t I believe in Guruji because of all the happiness He has made me “feel”? I guess that was one hell of an enlightenment for me.

But to think of it, it’s still my logical mind at work.

AoL in IISc is fun. We have mid-night satsangs every Saturday where we read some pages from the Bhagwadgita. We also have regular Sunday long kriya in the campus. That reminds me. So there is this guy. Let’s not take names ok. So I tell him, hey come to Sunday for the long kriya. This is how our conversation went.

Me: Hey come for the long kriya on Sunday

Guy: no, it’s ok. I do the long kriya in the room itself.

Me: what!! Long kriya in the room? How?

GUY: Well, it’s so simple…instead of 20-40-40, I do it 40-80-80.

Talk about using your brains.

The narad bhakti sutra and patanjali yog sutras have been fun and the discussions have been amazingly amazing. Everyone wanting to put in some logic so that just for their own sake, science doesn’t come in the way. It’s funny.

This one happened during the course. Rashmin was taking a guided meditation. At the end of it a tiny little girl (TLG) comes to me and says:

TLG: My eyes were open during the meditation and rashmin kept signaling me to close them. I did not heheh

Me: But why?

TLG: I knew all that already. Attention to feet and awareness about feelings and all.

Man, we are geniuses.

Another one:

Another nice little boy (NLB) who had recently done the course…

NLB: Why do my fingers hurt during the kriya?

Teacher: You are becoming purer, that’s why.

NLB: You mean I am impure now?

Ya, IIscians need logic.

Then a fellow writes in a common email: I will not recommend art of living to anyone because you guys are pseudo-scientific. Mr. Ravi calls himself a God and you believe in him. I cannot accept this hypocrisy.

Talk about being naive and he shocks you further.

It could be because I am not doing my daily kriya but I did not find any use of art of living. I know what meditation is.

Ya well, he is in knowledge alright, albeit a wrong one. God bless him.

Then there are people who believe that we get commissions for registering people and there are these people here who feel that their life got ruined after they did the kriya. Of course, they aren’t people who do their regular kriya. Others are embarrassed to come for the follow-ups because their friends tease them….yup footballs of others opinions exist despite the chunks of grey matter. God bless them too.

Anyway, that’s how things stand at the moment. We have this well-knit family. We eat together, watch movies together, sing together and listen to knowledge together. When we sit in the mess, non-aol people seem to get attracted to our group too. It could be the loud laughters or it could be the glow of happiness on our faces. Then we’ve also done 108 surya namaskars for more than one time. Not just that, our consciousness is so inter-woven that we actually have same thoughts at the same times, although currently these thoughts are restricted to visits to corner-house or bun-world. Still, its one hell of a start. We have learnt our lessons. Different people, different backgrounds are accepted. Not just that, they accept the group too.

It’s all nice. There are times when somebody strays out of knowledge and he is then brought back in. It’s just like a family. In fact it is a family. The scientists and spiritualists together. Isn’t that what guruji wants?

Let me end this with a personal quote:

“You know you are in knowledge when people start running away from you for the fear of an Art of Living intro-talk and you end up laughing about it.”





100 days of Sudarshan Kriya

10 11 2008

skSudarshan kriya is a unique breathing technique developed by my beloved Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It basically involves breathing in and out in a certain rhythm and has tremendous benefits.

Basically the kriya and other pranayams need to be done daily and if possible in the morning. But human beings and especially me are lazy. Despite knowing that it’s good and needs to be done everyday, invariably a day comes when I manage to miss it.

Hence, I have decided, that starting November 10th, I will do the kriya for 100 days without missing a single day – come what may.

Hence the chart below. It will help me keep a track of the way I have been doing the kriya. Others too may join in if they wish to.





Things Men Do

14 10 2008

This one is gross. This could be funny but it’s still gross. Particularly the fairer of the two sexes could find it, particularly gross. So if you are a goody-goody kind of a person who doesn’t like to read gross things – stop right here.

Now that I know that you aren’t grossed out by things that are indeed gross – let’s start.

This one concerns men. Women folks somehow always seem to have a man of their dreams. At times it could be somebody like George Clooney or George Bush or Superman – anybody. As far as men go, they want to imitate these men. Somebody wants to be an Einstien while someone else might want to become a Manoj Kumar (or Abhishek Bacchan if you are talking about me) to impress a particular girl of his  respective dreams. Now you’ll say – “well, what’s so gross about all this?”

Well, men and women, as you fantasize and imitate these men, does it occur to you as to how these men behave in a public toilet? Ummm…okay, that’s gross! Right! Stop right here because from next paragraph onwards you are going to be introduced to different types of men depending on their behavior in a public lavatory.

Now, since you are reading this, I assume that you are mentally tough and so with this, I start my classification of men depending on their – well, pissing behavior.

<1> The Shy Guy

This guy is – shy. What he needs is a complete privacy when he does his stuff. First thing he does when he enters the loo is that he checks if the lavatory is almost empty. An empty lavatory is like a dreamland for him. Then what he does is, he occupies the cubicle at the extreme end – the last one. If that’s unavailable, he selects one which has unoccupied nearest neighbors. Once he gets the cubicle of his choice, his gaze is focused on what he is doing. His eyes don’t wander about. Just does his thing quietly and goes away.

Problem comes when, out of nowhere, somebody comes and stands besides him. Even worse when the other person starts a casual chitchat with him. Under such conditions, despite the rising pressure, this guy cannot pee. He stands there for a while just pretending that he is pissing, flushes the toilet and runs away. He then comes back half an hour later and goes through the above-mentioned routine again.

The fact that this guy could be a cool dude outside the toilet has nothing to do with his toilet shyness.

Amongst famous people who could belong to this category are Rahul Dravid, Ajay Devgan.

This author, that’s me, too identifies himself in this category.

<2> The ‘Pee’ker

This guy has nothing better to do than peek into the next cubicle. He is the ultimate nightmare of the shy guy. I have no clue as to what sadistic pleasure he gets by peeking. Now, he doesn’t stop here. Peeking is still – well, grudgingly acceptable but this guy starts to comment on your anatomy. Its freaking pathetic to hear a comment like “whoa, so big” or a stifled laughter. YUCK!

Famous people: Stiffler from American Pie, Akshay Kumar, The entire Australian cricket team.

<3> ‘Pee’thovens (alright, sorry for this pathetic pun)

This guy creates amazing sound effects in the loo. To start with, he needs a sort of hissing sound to get his leak started – sssss…Then comes a sigh of relief, “AAAhhhh…” like an Arab who’s found an Oasis. The come a “uuufff…” if his job doesn’t get over in 38 seconds. Its a boon that man cannot make all sorts of sounds, or else a men’s toilet would be full of sounds – from a waterfall to a tornado or even an ocean may be.

Famous people: Himesh Reshmiah, Annu Malik, Govinda.

<4> The stand backs

These guys are like those cricket players who always find a name in the 15-member team but can never break into the playing eleven. Come what may, these guys will always prefer to stand behind somebody who is pissing. Even though there could be six other empty cubicles, this guy would stand in line. The intention of this guy is still not clear to me. It could be a prank or just sheer habit or may be a numerological preference for some cubicle.

Famous People: Johny Lever, Ajit Agarkar

<5> Flying Zippers

The funniest of the lot. This guy is perhaps too lost in himself. Even before he has entered the toilet, his zippers are off and he walks shamelessly unaware of other people’s wild and horrified gazes and begins his job, no sooner has he reached his cubicle. Zero time lag. However, this guy is not a shameless freak. He is plain absent minded.

Famous people: Archimedes, Paresh Rawal

<6>Literature Laureate

While his left hand ensures that the lavatory remains clean, his right hand is busy writing/drawing something on the wall. These guys are artists with apparently no muse. Their creativity blossoms only while they are peeing. Most of the drawings they make are ideal examples of female anatomy – men’s toilets are full of such artistic masterpieces. Some of them could even make a biology book bow down in shame.

But the real geniuses are the one’s who write. The graffitists. The advices they write about life are worth following. Life would indeed become better. Certain examples of what they write:

a) Stop reading start pissing. (wow)

b) Turn to your back. (At the back) Turn to your right. (On Right) Turn to your left. (On left) “Dude, life is too precious to spend looking around in a public urinal. Piss off. (How true!)

Famous People: Kurt Vonneguut, Leonardo da Vinci, the guy who wrote the song ‘aati kya khandala’

<7> Movers and shakers

Now the literature guy also writes “No matter how hard you shake, the last drop is always in your underwear.” This is a fact of life and you have to accept it and move on. But then

there is always this guy who just seems so stuck up. He refuses to acknowledge it. This guy belongs to the movers and shakers type. After he is done, he shakes his…whatever…vigorously and for a long time. It really looks pathetic from back.

Famous People: Prabhu Deva, Sreesanth

<8> Pleeeeeease

This guy enters into the loo only in case of extreme emergency and always when the toilet is full. He gives an amazing expression of agony and pain personified and begs others to allow him to break the line. You have to give in after looking at his pathetically distorted face.

Famous people: Rajpal Yadav

<9> The quick ones

Another mystery. How these guys do it, I do not know. They finish peeing in 5-8 seconds. Complete mystery. At times I have wondered if these people really do anything. Could be a shy guy in disguise.

Famous People: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs

<10>Dirty Harry

Hate them. They do not believe in the use of good old H2O.  They neither wash their own hands nor do they flush. Bad! Bad!

Famous People: Gulshan Grover, Shakti Kapoor.

Right on girls – these are your dream guys. Chose carefully.

Guys – these are your heroes. Follow ’em cautiously.

Note from the author: The author would like to apologize if somebody’s religious sentiments are hurt. Comments of course are welcome.