Posts Tagged ‘Musings’

In praise of the coffee house (and, coffee)

September 29, 2007

Long back, when I was a grad student, on cold mornings (it rained the previous night, you see–and the leaves under the foot were wet and squishy), I would skip my coffee at breakfast in the mess; I would wait till 8:40 or so, and then go grab a fresh cup of coffee at the coffee house (The theory being that the fresh decoction was made only twice–once at 8:30, and the next at 1:30–Needless to say, I was there for the 1:30 coffee too). And, sitting there under the trees, sipping the hot cup of brown coffee (which, I imagine, would have met even the exacting standards of RKN, who, when he was asked if he wanted his coffee black or white, is supposed to have answered brown) with other connoisseurs (who knew the importance of making it to the coffee house before 9:10), and talking shop, bitching about how some professors treat their students (necessary nuisance), trading information on the latest movies and books, and, more often than not, a bit of science, some mathematics and a wee bit of engineering too (which naturally lead to posts like this one on Coffee, computations and reproducibility; and, papers like this one on the flux of coffee drinkers at the coffee house 🙂

Well, some of you who know me well, might be smiling — I know that it is rarely, if ever, I had breakfast or came to the lab in the mornings; and, if it rained the previous night, I would most probably have been sleeping at 9:00; however, though my visits to the coffee house under the circumstances that I describe are few and far in between, when I think about my visits to the coffee house, that is the picture that comes to my mind–that, and the rare occasion when Abdul Kalam was in the queue along with us.

Dear readers, if you are wondering what suddenly led me to all this coffee-algia (as in nostalgia, an acute coffee sickness–as the Oxford dictionary entry explains, originally in the sense acute homesickness: from Latin, from Greek nostos ‘return home’ + algos ‘pain’.), it is this musing of Guha on his visits to the coffee houses (and the Eurozine piece that led Guha to his musings is here).

Happy reading (and many more cups of the divine drink)!

Memorising poems

September 27, 2007

Amardeep, while noting the possible neurological benefits of memorising writes,

I am of the post-memorization generation of literature people — I might have memorized a couple of poems in high school, but in college no one asked to memorize a damn thing. As a result I can only recite from memory a couple of Yeats poems and Shakespeare sonnets, which would probably horrify some senior people in my field.

We were not that lucky; during our school days, certain poems were identified for memorising and we were supposed to get up and recite them in our Tamil and English classes; if failed, much humiliation would follow. Apart from such curriculum based memorisation, we also memorised lots of Sanskrit shlokas at home. However, during our college days, much like Amardeep, we were not expected to memorise anything. But, by then, I was among a few students who liked memorising poems, and discussing them. So, on my own volition, I did memorise lots of Bharathiar and Andal. I do not know about their neurological benefits; but, it does come handy to know some poems by heart.