Gayathri v/s Darth Vader

I used to laugh my friends and cousins who read “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.”
I remember scoffing and feeling a sense of deep disdain whenever somebody talks about it.

And then I got married.

Don’t get me wrong, Gayathri is very sweet and is quite accommodating to my momentary bouts of insanity.(though I can’t shake off the feeling of coming closer to getting punched in the face at times…)
But there are times during our conversations, when I really feel that we are on totally different pages.
The most recent incident happened when I downloaded a wallpaper of Darth Vader from the internet. Gayathri has a strong disregard for English films, that I learnt the hard way when I tricked her into seeing “Wrath of the Titans (3D)” in place of “Housefull 2”. It was one of those silly mistakes that you always regret, but without which you would have never learnt those searing lessons of life. Coming back to Darth Vader, I always wanted to introduce the Star wars universe to Gayathri; but with my current quota on the number of English movies that I am allowed to watch, it will be close to a year before we reach “Return of the Jedi”. Being a teacher, I decided to introduce a fast track approach for introducing the topic by including star wars references in our daily conversations.
I decided to take it one step further by changing the wallpaper to starwars characters. And so I downloaded the Darth Vader wallpaper.
“Gayathri, this is Darth Vader” I shouted holding up my laptop for my wife to see.
“Who ?” She asked without taking her eyes off the curry she was making for dinner.
“Anakin Skywalker, he bought balance to the force” I replied. The fast track approach, you see..
“He does not have balace?  Must be a problem with his ear.” She is still working on the curry.
“No no, you don’t understand. Anakin was …”
“No, I understand perfectly.” She cut me off. ” My grandmother had this problem of losing balance all the time. We took her to the doctor. He said it was because of the fluid in her inner ear.”
“It is not that balance I am talking about. Its the force, light side and dark side… Remember I keep telling you?”
“Bilateral vestibulopathy” She shouts back at me.
“What ?”
“The condition is called Bilateral vestibulopathy”. Gayathri is also a biomedical engineer, among other things.
“Aargh… we are talking about Anakin Skywalker. He did not suffer from any condition except severe burns on planet Mustafar.” My patience is completely lost now. But I am determined to do this.
“Don’t you remember Gayathri ? About everything I told you about young Anakin ?”
I saw her look up from the curry.
“Well, I don’t remember exactly!” I could sense a feeling of guilt in her voice. Looks like I can push her to watch the movie today itself.
“Shivetta…” she suddenly called out,
“Did he come for our wedding reception ?” She asked curiously !

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c25k: W1D1

So yes, I too am hooked up to the c25k running program.

Downloaded the c25k podcast. Did not get much sleep, so I was up and running by about 5 in the morning. Completed day 1 of week 1 with a very very v e r yyy  slow pace.I have to log my run next time. Was trying out the Nike + GPS app, but it did not work somehow.

Feeling very tired now. Today is the beginning of first periodical exams for my students. I just hope I don’t fall asleep during invigilation.


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The Hound of Himesh Reshammiya

I have been observing my life for the past couple of weeks. After all, I am Ph.D scholar, and thats what I am supposed to do, observe and analyze. And since I do not have anything substantial to analyze, as my professor has been taking it easy on me for a couple of weeks, I thought its time that I start analyzing my life. Within a short time of introspection, I was convinced that something was wrong. I have been hardly using my camera. I almost forgot the fact that I had a blog. My life seems to be losing its vigor and color. If I was a Madagascar Penguin, I would have shouted “Kowalski, analysis!”. But alas! I am no penguin and so I will have to analyze this without Kowalski and his abacus.

What followed was a detailed logging of how I spent my entire day. After weeks of observation, I realized that my batteries are low right from the time I wake up. And though I don’t have Lymphosarcoma or leukemia, I live my life as if I am trapped in a tragic “Rajesh Khanna” movie. This is not good. I am too young and much too unimportant to be in this state. I need to find a cure.

And sure enough, a cure I did find. It was to fire my room-mate. You see, my unassuming room-mate is very found of plagiarized bollywood music and he like to play it real loud. So instead of giving me a cup of hot tea in the morning, he greets me with a full blast of his 5.1 surround sound. As a result, I find myself surrounded in all 5 directions (I have not figured out the .1 part yet) by a monstrous voice that goes “TADAPPU………. TADAPPUUUU….. TADAPPU HO TUM !!!!!!” which is followed by a long howl that resembles a dog in deep pain, which by some strange co-incidence, reminds of the time when I crashed my bike into a stray dog crossing the street. My room-mate tells me with deep conviction that the voice does not belong to any tortured animal, but to a human being called Himesh Reshammiya. For all you know, maybe this Himesh guy ran into a dog during his recording session.

Failing to reach an agreement on Himesh running into dogs when I am sleeping, my room-mate decided to shift rooms. Himesh does not trouble me anymore. I am a happy man. Life is back in full color. I sleep peacefully at nights and I wake up to sound of  students arguing on whose turn is it to buy soap and toothpaste. Life is back to normal. I even remembered my login to my blog.

I hope things stay this way.

P.S:  If you want to know what I had been going through, try imagining this  in 5.1 surround!!!

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Testing Photos in the New Background


A farmer lost in thought in the Aloe Vera fields in Amrita University. I was actually required to photograph the harvest of Aloe Vera for documenting the ever increasing work of Center for Environmental Sciences in our college. I took it as a very good oppertunity to take some portraits of the farmers. Contrary to my assumptions, most people did not like being photographed and so I had to stand a good distance away from them while taking pictures. I ended up cropping almost all of them, and so there goes my chances of taking a high resolution print.

I applied a warming filter on this picture as an after thought in Photoshop. I need to hire someone to tell me to stop when I overdo post processing.

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Back Again…. With a new look!

I am back again with a new look. WordPress likes to call it Journalist. I will keep try it for a few days. I am thinking of swtiching over to a darker background so that the photos show up good here.

During the long gap between that last post and this one, a lot of stuff happened.  I travelled all the way to Delhi with my camera gear and came back without taking a single picture. Note to self: Never ever take your entire gear when the college is booking the tickets for you.Then there was the annual Amrita Entrance Examinations that we all look forward to. This time my posting was in Patna, Bihar. Never in the entire span of my pathetic years in college mess have I felt such great love to our own sambar and thairu saadam. Everything that we ate in Patna was either too expensive or covered with black salt. After 2 days, I was surviving on bread and mineral water. Needless to say, I lost a lot of weight and different people had different versions to it. The Chairman of Admissions thought that I was model example of how to manage food expenses while travelling and proceeded to slash the Dearness Allowance for everybody by 10%. My collegue Saravanan, whose only aims in life are to have a flat stomach, an incessant supply of protein powder and a hotline to all unmarried girls in Tamil Nadu (and maybe bordering areas of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh) firmly believed that I was dieting to get married. My PhD guide was thinking on the lines of cancelling my medical leave and vacations. As for me, I was just too happy to get back to the regular canteen diet of the so called sambar and mushy thairu saadam.

And then something wonderful happened in the month of April. The Holy Mother came to our house and blessed us with Her divine presence. Our family spent one hour with Her, where The Mother discussed everything from my grandmother’s health to my research plans.  It is always thrilling to watch a great master at work. Mother had come after giving darshan in Thrissur for a straight 15 hours, but there was no tiredness about Her. Amma says her battery is always connected to the mains.

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HDR Sunrise

For 2008,

Maut tu ek kavitaa hai
Death, you are a poem
Mujhse ek kavita ka vada hai milegi mujhko
A poem has promised to meet me

Doobti nabzon mein jab dard ko neend aane lage
When the pulse sinks bringing sleep to pain
Zard sa chehra lekar jab chaand ufaq tak pahunche
When the moon raises her yellow face to the horizon
Din abhi paani mein ho, raat kinaare ke kareeb
When the day is still in the water, and the night waits on the shore
Na andhera na ujaala ho, na abhi raat na din
Neither darkness nor light, When there is no more night or day
Jism jab khatm ho aur rooh ko jab saans aaye
When the body expires, but the soul still breathes
Mujhse ek kavita ka waada hai milegi mujhko
A poem has promised to meet me

Until Dec 2009, Happy 2009.

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Writer’s Block

Okay this is, I think, the fourth time that I have begun writing on something. This time I am finished to determine it. I mean, I am determined to finish. You see, I am not even correcting mistakes now.

The recent turn of events have left me with no time at all. So suddenly, when a Sunday decides to show up with no people in the campus, I must admit that I am stumped all of a suddent with what to do.

I don’t know what to do.

And I dont have anything to write.

I guess I will go sleep now. So much for creativity.

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My resolve to go to bed everyday before midnight underwent a major reconsideration when my friend handed me a copy of Rock On. I watched it right through the night. Its good time pass and you can spend more time on nostalgia if you were part of a band in college. The songs are really good.
On a totally different note, Eddie Vedder writes beautiful poetry but refuses to share the meaning of his songs. According to him, music is personal and is viewed differently by different people. That being said:

Na na, na na na na
Na na, na na na na
Mere canteen ka ek bill, ek aadhi padi journal
Ek Phd guide ka phone number, national conference ka ek paper
Mere programs ki ek floppy, Mere class notes ki teen copy
Pichhale Saat Dinon Mein Maine Khoya
Kabhi Khud Pe Hansa Main, Aur Kabhi Khud Pe Roya
Na na, na na na na
Na na, na na na na

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Maurice is a Celebrity

Do you remember Maurice Udumbe ? He is a cute little bengal monitor that lives in our campus.

Mi Casa Su Casa

Well, I am happy to announce that Maurice has become an international celebrity now. He is currently featured in BIAWAK, which is the official peer-reviewed journal of the International Varanid Interest Group. BIAWAK has lot of photographs, news and articles about monitor lizards around the globe. Though Maurice has no story to tell, you can find his picture just under the “Editor’s notes” section in the magazine.

Click on the image to download the full journal in pdf format.

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Pinki and the hair cutting ceremony


Pinki and the Hair Cutting Ceremony

I was sitting down on the concrete surface panting, sweat pouring from every pore in my body. I had just climbed about two hundred steps up a steep hill with the complete camera equipment on my back and a very thick edition of “Lonely Planet: India” weighing down the pocket of my left leg. Too tired even to speak, I was resting with my back against the small temple wall with my legs out stretched.

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