The first bookstore that Jabberwock remembers is not even a bookstore! I grew up in a home which stacked lots of books and I started reading the abridged 2000 word vocabulary words before I got introduced to children’s magazines such as Gokulam, Poonthalir and Amar Chitra Katha; growing up with two more siblings, there were elaborate procedures and rituals as to who got to read which magazine in what order. But the feeling that Jabberwock describes is something that I have also experienced, even if the person who brought the magazines was my father on his trips to and from the nearby town!
Archive for the ‘Personal news’ Category
It has been three years since I joined IIT-Bombay. The Computational Materials Engineering Group (CMEG) has been growing slowly but steadily in these three years. We now have one technical assistant (who takes care of all our computers and the cluster), three PhD students (working on Twinning in copper, Modelling scattering processes in dye-sensitized solar cells, and microstructural evolution in magnetic thin films), four masters students (working on MD, twinning, modelling of formation of ceramic foams, and mathematical modelling of galvanic corrosion) a junior research fellow (working on dry snow metamorphism) and several interns (working both during the summer/winter vacations and the semester) in the group. The group will soon have its own laboratory space in which all the students will sit together (unlike the current arrangement where they are scattered in several different sitting places). We had a small pizza party in the group a couple of days ago and this is the photo from that occasion.
I recently upgraded my desktop by enhancing the RAM (from 4 to 16GB) and adding a GPU (GeForce GTX580) card. However, I had trouble in using all the RAM; it would show only 4G, and I learnt that I either have to update the kernel or load a 64bit version. I decided to go for the second option and, while at it, decided to load the Precise Pangolin (Ubuntu 12.04).
My initial attempts to load Pangolin failed because I did not turn on the noapic, nolapic and nomodeset options while loading Ubuntu. Once I got that right, rest has been a sail. I really, really like the feel of the Unity desktop even though I am still learning the tricks. On the whole a nice experience so far.
Now, I am able to get a simulation with 4096×4096 size running (which takes only half of the available memory)! This probably is the first time I am running such a large scale simulation; the previous big simulations used to stop at one quarter of this size (at 2048×2048) and I am very, very excited!
Next step is to figure out CUDA and start using the GPU for computations, and needless to say, I am looking forward to it.
Now, Bombay looks like Bombay (and, i wish it continues the same for at least a week!). For the song mentioned in the title, a word for word translation is available here!
ArunN has a nice post on book and concert lists; as usual, it is humorous, very nicely written and showcases the keen and observant eye of Arun:
Nowadays, almost all of those who attend Carnatic music concerts, including the accompanists and sishyas on stage, seem to make these lists.
The Carnatic music concert list contains unique nomenclature. For instance, each song apart from the raga, tala and composer, would also be accompanied by letters R, N, S, T, i.e. if the list is in English. The R denotes whether the song was preceded by a raga alapana; the N signifies a neraval at an appropriate juncture, an elaboration of a suitable lyric section, during the exposition of the krithi; the S tells us whether the particular song had swara-kalpanai or creative extempore of raga swaras; the T means thani, the percussionist solo usually rendered as a tail section of the main piece of the concert. When a separate pallavi section is delivered, it is marked as RTP, the Ragam Thanam Pallavi, in our concert list.
I enjoyed reading Arun’s post; but, it also set me thinking about my own propensities to take elaborate notes in general, and making lists in particular.
In my case, the tendency to carry a notebook with me and note down things were not just restricted to concerts I attended and books I read; of course, I almost transcribed entire books on to my note book — the one book I remember reading in this fashion is Schnroedinger’s What is life? In fact when I think about the book the two images that come to my mind — one is the cover of the Canto edition that I read and the other is the large sheaths of paper filled with my transcription — I am afraid to use the word notes because, like some people who underline almost all the sentences of the book that they are reading, I wrote down every sentence (and, those of you who follow my blog do know that I quote and I quote extensively; and mouse mask, cut and paste has only made my job easier).
I went for talks and wrote down almost every sentence that the speaker uttered on to my note book.
I wrote down the movies that I went to.
After getting married, in the first few months, we went to lots of temples, and I made a list of all the temples that we visited — which must still be somewhere in the pile of notebooks at home.
For every trip that we take, we still write down the things that we carry with us, the things that we buy, and the places that we visit in a notebook (in this regard, I am very lucky to have a companion who also is an inveterate list-maker and note-taker!).
I also wrote down lists during my discussions with my thesis advisor; I remember, one day he kept telling me of the things that we were supposed to do; and, I was not jotting it down (as was my wont). Mid-way, he stopped, looked at me and said “Guru, you want to jot it down?”.
Why did I (and, in some cases, still) write such lengthy and elaborate notes and lists (and, continue to in some cases)? There are plenty of reasons; but I want to draw attention to two possible reasons — with the caveat that these are not the only two reasons, nor for every case these two hold.
I personally feel that that I somehow felt that by writing it down, I was making the experience (be it reading the book, or watching the movie, or visiting the temple, or listening to a concert) more tangible; Arun also talks about the note book induced nostalgia of concerts; this is also further confirmed by the fact that the most memorable concert that I attended of TVS in which he sang “Thiruvadi Charanam” in Kambhoji, I did not write anything down; for that concert, writing down the names of songs would not have made the concert any more tangible or memorable; in fact, to have recorded that experience by writing down the song and raga on the paper sounds blasphemous to me!
At some level, in some cases at least, it also speaks of some amount of insecurity; I stopped transcribing lectures on that day when I paid more attention to the speaker and enjoyed the talk — I guess, before that, I somehow thought that instead of allowing my memory to keep track of the ideas and concepts that I heard, I will transcribe them in my note book so that they will be available for me forever — this is the equivalent of making a photocopy of a paper rather than reading it or bookmarking a post rather than reading it; this is not to say that I do not reach for my notebook when I am in a lecture these days; but they are only for jotting down a reference or some phrase (of course, Google makes it easier to locate papers and documents knowing minimal amount of key words if one knows what one searches for).
That I can think of these two reasons does not mean that I am going to stop writing lists and making notes; Leela Prasad, whose book on Hindu ethics that I completed reading just a few days ago talks about her recording every conversation using audio-visual media to the surprise of her informants; she also speaks about revisiting her notes and transcriptions later to find fresh perspectives and newer meanings; in my own case, I would love to be able to jot down all the ideas that come to me and all the mistakes I make in my derivations/calculations and all the bugs that I discover in my code; it would certainly improve my performance on the professional front. But I have at least graduated to making sparse notes during lectures and fewer lists of songs of the concerts that I attend!
Sriram has a nice post about The Maternity Bench.
At my place, we have a bench too; it certainly isn’t made to last — but it had lasted for about 60 years now; it is not teak; nor is it in great shape — if you do not ease yourself on to it, it vibrates as if there is an earthquake. But, I have spent so many hot summer afternoons lying on it reading the books and even some nights sleeping on it, that, it is impossible for me to imagine the open courtyard at the centre of our ancestral home without it! So, I obviously liked Sriram’s post!
There were hours that I spent in the new journals section of the library browsing through every journal except what I came looking for (and, sometimes there were interesting discoveries — like the time I learnt journal of differentiation has little to do with mathematics!). After online journals, now, I hardly ever go to the journals sections.
There were also hours spent at several book shelves browsing through biographies, popular science and mathematics and sociology/anthropology sections. These days I hardly visit the library looking for books; but, occasionally when I do, I make sure that I browse through at least one rack other than what I came looking for.
At least in the bookshops, we used to browse and once in a while buy a book without any recommendation from anybody and hence discover a new book/author on our own. But after Flipkart and ordering books online based on recommendations I read at blogs, hardly any author or book I discovered on my own.
Today, after a long time, my browsing in the book shop lead me to the discovery of a book that looks very interesting: Ethics in everyday Hindu life: narration and tradition in a South Indian town by Leela Prasad. I do not remember seeing any reviews of this book; in the blurb, I see a strong recommendation from Velcheru Narayana Rao:
This is perhaps the only book that moves our attention from the texts of the Dharmashastras to the practice of dharma in the actual lives of Hindu families.
I am very excited about this discovery, and I hope the book lives up to the expectations I have (I did dip in here and there, and liked what I read). More soon!
That is what the promo says; and, that is what it is as we found out during our recent visit to Nainital!
The tourism office is a good place to start; I especially loved their pamphlet which among other things contains a map of all trails and roads making it easier to go on treks.
We loved the boating trips in the lake (and the sail boat is an experience that is very different from the rowing and paddling boats), the visit to the zoo, the treks to Tiffin top, Naina peak and Hanuman Garhi, and the visit to Kilbury.
We also happened to spot a Eurasian golden oriole in Delhi on our way up. Several times, we also spotted a bluish green bird of the size of sparrow in Nainital and surrounding regions, whose name I do not know.