Saturday, December 22, 2007

In India

So far, in this winter break: Chicago - Delhi - Chennai - Trivandrum - Bangalore - Trivandrum.

And here's from the morning skies of Trivandrum, about an hour back:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A conversation

With a friend, today evening.

Me: Yeah it's a nice house. It's pretty old, but it's alright. In fact it's kind of too large.
Friend: You know what you should do about that, right?
Me: Huh?
Friend: You know what you need to do if you're feeling the house is too large, don't you?
Me: I don't know. I think I'll just get used to it...

<later in the conversation>

Me: Oh wait, is that what you meant when you said I should do something about the house being large?
Friend: What did you think?
Me: Well, I thought you were saying I should get more furniture. You know there's room for more furniture here...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Green Revolution, Kerala Style

Or so goes the plan:
The policy will be ambitiously aimed at freeing Kerala of all chemical fertilizers and pesticides in five years.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Continuing the tradition of the last couple of years, Onam was celebrated with much enthusiasm and good food today. We were a dozen, plus two kids, for a potluck lunch. I made an avial, which literally translates to something like "cooked stuff."

(It's curious that whatever I make tastes fine in my kitchen, but at a potluck it always turns out to be a little low on salt. Notwithstanding my efforts to correct for this by adding extra salt before taking it for the potluck.)

In other news, now I have an orange coloured bike.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Several things happened since my last post, which I would have recorded here. (Not that they are all that important/interesting, but very few interesting things happen to me anyway.) This is probably a good time to update.

Firstly, I bought an apartment. It's an old building, with a toilet flush from the 1940's. Once I move in I may have more interesting things to say.

There was a work-related trip to New York. I stayed in the city for about a week, making sure that I can still stay (somewhat) cheap if I want to. I met up with many friends, old and new, on the way to NY, in and around NYC and Princeton, and on the way back from NYC. Several photos still need to be looked at.

On Sunday I happen to be flying out again, to Santa Barbara. Hopefully I'll be back by Thursday night, just in time to teach the first lecture of this semester's course.

The day before yesterday I took my new bike to the bike-shop for the 30-day tuning. Which was just as well, because whoever stole it today couldn't have taken it to the shop themselves. This time around the person who took it demonstrated a fair amount of ingenuity, expertise and guts (breaking the lock, twisting it using a metal cylinder -- taken from inside a cigarette stub receptacle near the bike-rack -- in broad daylight on a working day, in front of the department). I did call the police to let them have a look at the cylinder with the broken lock twisted around it. (Now you know how to steal a bike if it uses a cable lock. If I knew then, I would have bought the U-lock after all.)

And, Happy Onam!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Donation week!

Made two donations this week. First, the second one. It was a rather "involuntary donation." And being not present at the occasion I couldn't do it very well. So, if you were the one to get my bike, I'll be happy to give you the key to the lock too. I know, I was being too lazy to use it properly, but I'd like it to be useful for you (or, if you don't have any use for the lock, I could take it back and put it to good use on my new bike).

That's the donated bike in colder times (and a light snow). Or see it here.

The other donation was on July 4.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hello! Need Malayalam interpreter.

Déjà vu! This time, this happened over phone. Someone called me up, at my office, in the middle of the day, and told me that they are looking for a Malayalam interpreter in Brooklyn, New York. It was strange enough that I thought I'll help out by blogging about it (again).

If you're interested in serving as a Malayalam interpreter, will be in Brooklyn on August 14th or 16th (and I suppose you may have to be eligible to earn in the US), please consider contacting Mathew Salinas of aLanguageBank, at 212-213-3336.

And in another similar (but probably less strange) incident, someone mailed me out of nowhere (OK, from Princeton, which is not exactly nowhere), and asked me if I could translate a couple of lines of Malayalam poetry for her. Apparently she is working on a Ph.D. thesis which looks at subnationalism in Kerala (among other things). She's also interested in knowing the publication years of the poems. I did the translation, but if anyone out there knows the publication years, please let me know. Here are the lines:

> paaTam paaTam uRachchu naam paaTippaaTi pOvuka
> paarilaikya kEraLaththin kaahaLam muzhakkuvaan.
> nam navaraNangngaLil, nammaL than thyaagangngaLil
> naam rachikkumaapputhiya kEraLam manOharam!
> bhaaratham enna pEr kETTaalabhimaana
> poorithamaakaNam antharamgam.
> kEraLamennu kETTaalO thiLakkaNam
> chOra namukku njarampukaLil!

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I don't know if "CCA" stands for anything for you, but to me it invariably sounds like one of those things I would write about in my other blog.

Well, I suppose the next time I use the term, I'll be reminded of something greener.
"... inspite of the difficulties involved in conservation of natural resources for a varied number of reasons, CCAs still remain in the hundreds of thousands countrywide," says Ashish Kothari, founder-member of environmental NGO Kalpavriksh... Kalpavriksh is now in the process of publishing a directory of such [community-conserved areas].

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gender-neutrality and L337speak in Malayalam!

A couple of Malayalam musings.

Call me Anglicized, but one thing that I often find jarring in Malayalam is the paucity of gender neutral terms in common usage. One of these days I'll sit down and collect some examples and come up with outrageous suggestions to "fix" them. Or, hopefully, someone will point out that a process of fixing is already underway.

[Update: if India gets a woman president, would she be called "rashtrapati"? (For the record, and for what it's worth, I won't say it translates to "the husband of the notion", but rather to "the Master/Lord of the nation.")]

Now for the Malayalam l33tspeak. I'm not too keen on it myself, but I'm afraid I've already seen this being used quite a bit in the Malayalam digitalscape (though mostly unintentionally). If you can read Malayalam, you'd agree that the digits one through nine (൧൨൩൪൫൬൭൮൯) bear an uncanny resemblance to certain characters (e.g. ഫ വ മ്പ ര്‌ ദ്ര ന്ന െ വൃ ന്‌). Of course there's a little more you could do using English characters and digits. (*shudder*)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Back to Yoga

I'm expecting some body ache in the next few days, having rejoined a yoga class after more than a year's break.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Googling the library

I barely ever go to the library now. And it seems more people can stop going to libraries.
This partnership between our 12 member universities and Google is unprecedented. What makes this work so exciting is that we will literally open the pages of millions of books that have been assembled on our library shelves over more than a century.
This came by e-mail today.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Just got back from my brother's graduation ceremony.

Photos, at Princeton (last summer) and Berkeley.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

More glass

Summer is here, finally. Maybe not the season, but the break. And that's time for more absentmindedness. I bought some more glass for my camera. OK, that was not particularly absent-minded. But the address I entered at Amazon had 173 instead of 713 as the house number. It's of course a typo, except that the next day I was caught giving out my address with a 173 to some friends at dinner.

The lens arrived safely after I called up UPS and corrected the address. Something surprising happened though: when I called up, the UPS person asked if they should ship it to my old address from last year. Where did they get that from? More surprisingly, another thing I ordered the same day from Amazon (and hence with the same wrong address) was correctly delivered by Fedex. The package had my name and 173 as the house number, but Fedex figured out where it should be delivered! It seems then that UPS and Fedex do have some sort of a database where they collect names and addresses. I'm only glad that they do it, but not everyone would be pleased by that.

Anyway, here're the sample photos using the new lens. All photos were taken hand-held, with the vibration-reduction switched on. Exposure times are 1/2.5, 1/6, and 1/6, and focal lengths are 122mm, 200mm, 200mm.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Laurie Baker

Laurie Baker died today.

Here're some articles on the master architect (from melam): [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ]

Monday, March 19, 2007

Spring break

It's that time of the year, again! Photos from last year.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Back from Amsterdam. Amazingly, not much went wrong (despite not doing anything about the trip until that day morning -- thanks to a deadline the day before).

Didn't get a chance to take many photos, or even go around much. An interesting city, anyway, with numerous bikes, narrow roads, and an almost rural feel to it. After (and before) the snow and cold here, the weather over there was much appreciated.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

snow, peacemaker, and v-day pic

I just got back home, and I'm not sure if I had really seen such snow before. Anyway, unlike last week, I wasn't on my bike (took the bus, instead) which was perhaps a good idea. And the University cancelled all classes today (and tomorrow), which was also, perhaps, a good idea.

Saw an ad about this game. Really cool. Someone should make such games for all the conflicts around the world.

And, the picture is on the occasion of V-Day. (If you're curious where that came from, this may help.)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Global warming (and why I don't have a car!)

Global warming is real for sure, and presumably far from being a local phenomenon: how else would you explain the freezing cold (in Fahrenheit, mind you) and this?

Anyway, in an effort to keep the warming a little more local, I have turned down the thermostat way down (well, at least by my usually warm standards), and taken to wearing a jacket, and sometimes even gloves, at home! Thanks to a pair of ski-gloves which I can wear over my (usual) gloves, I can still survive the 10 minutes it takes to bike from home to office. brr...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why I don't have a car (or a truck)

Who needs a truck, anyway? Not her either.

And in other news, not having a car is apparently not an excuse for being single: [1, 2]. (But I don't have a motor bike either, ha! But then, [3, 4, 5] or [6]! Never mind, I have better excuses.)

(None of these are my photos. Btw, in another bout of absent-mindedness, I've left my camera behind at a friend's place. Need to collect it...)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Google maps and Thiruvananthapuram!

So what was I complaining about last year? Google Map's satellite images are still no good for Urbana-Champaign. But it turns out now they have more than ten times as much resolution for images of Thiruvananthapuram. And now with maps! (via Joseph.)

Wikimapia resolution has been good for a while, enough for people to clutter it with identifying their houses.

I must also add, MS' Live Search is pretty good for the local neighbourhood, but is not so great for Thiruvananthapuram.