Monday, August 31, 2015

Space, The Final Frontier .... errr ... Resting Place

It’s good to learn a new odd thing every now and then. Today I learnt about “Space Burial”. Space burial refers to exactly what its literal meaning is. The cremated remains are carried out to the outer space into the orbit of earth, or other planetary system or maybe into the deep space.

But don’t worry, these won’t be scattered into the space to add up to the space debris but they stay sealed within their space vehicle till it reaches its final extra terrestrial destination. More information are available in the wiki site wiki/Space_burial

Private companies such as Celestis, Inc. and Elysium Space offer space burial services. I have found out that the cost starts from around $2000, which is actually quite a small price to pay for being able to flirt with the stars. This is an option, I would not mind considering when time comes for my final destination.

The website of Celestis declared that there are two missions scheduled for this year. One can take the advantage of either The Tribute Flight, scheduled for launch on November 5, 2015 from New Mexico's Spaceport America, or The Heritage Flight, scheduled for launch in the 4th quarter of 2015 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Elysium Space provides three space burial service options. The plans are “Shooting star memorial” for remaining in the earth’s orbit, “Lunar memorial” to remain in the moon’s surface and “Milky way memorial” to travel to the deep space.

 Interestingly one of the first person to be buried in the space happens to be Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the Star Trek. I found this quite symbolic. Following are some statistics, sourced from wiki site, about the missions undertaken till date.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

One of Those Afternoons

 Ashutosh, Santosh and Arijit were not established writers but dreamt to be one since their college days. During the good old days in Kolkata, they used to spend hours in the college street coffee shop arguing. They have now known each other long enough to understand one another and are at peace with their agreement to disagree. Not always though!
  Sometime they would find themselves on the brink of publishing their first novel after striking a fantastic plot or encourage one of them to apply for the position of an editor of a leading newspaper. But once out of that place, money and relationship took precedence over writing their journalistic dream always got pushed to the back-burner. After so many long years things haven't changed much in this respect except for the fact that now they have access to portals for publishing their thoughts.

The coffee house in the college street is famous as a breeding ground of intellectuals and artists, while at the same time it engulfed many a prospective career through never-ending debates and impractical ideas. The irony of that place, they once debated was that all the socialists minds argued within an environment, which could be best defined as a reminiscence of the British Raj of India. 
The very idea of drinking coffee, served particularly by waiters dressed in a uniform designed to evoke the memories of the orderlies from the British era is so foreign they contemplated the other afternoon.
 By sheer luck they landed up in the same city and were thrilled to find long lost friends in an alien land. Old habits die hard and this trio too caught up after work, once every week to discuss, debate and argue over steaming cups of coffee. After all the weekend debates over hard liquors doesn't have the same zing as these sessions.

Arijit started excitedly before they could settle in, “With the freedom of press enslaved by the advertisers and sponsors, is still the pen mightier than the sword?” 
 He seemed to feel threatened this afternoon by the bias in the media and the eluding truth. Moreover with the social media being evolving as the parallel media, the audiences are bombarded with photographs, videos and statistics which are often manipulated. Everyone can put forward their views and opinions to the public, which is an advantage but there are no one trustworthy to control that.
  "Unless you are aligned to the popular or the powerful your post will never matter, no matter how excellent your views and analysis may be. On the other hand they will keep flooding the scene with more and more trash." He rest his case for others to react. It was now a bit clear that his blog was not getting footfalls, eyeballs or as they call it page views causing frustration and anger towards the media.
"No one has invented a condom for the pen yet to put a cap on the productivity of all those trash" said Santosh quoting  Khuswant Singh trying to pacify his friend. 
 “Well the pen has a cap, if one wishes to put a cap on the flow of his rubbish”, Arijit later argued, not willing to give in. “There is still a lot of optimism left in this world”, Ashutosh chipped in for the first time that evening.  “After all, the pencils always last longer than the eraser” he concluded.

 “One should not undermine the power of a humble pencil when it comes to symbolism”, said Santosh as the discussion drifted along. He quoted the thoughtful remark Mother Teresa's once made to induce some serenity.
  “I am a little pencil in God's hands. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more.”

They were touched by this and continued with their discussions on other topics.It was soon time to depart and one of them said, “I thought of telling you guys a interesting story about the broken pencil... but it was pointless.” they giggled and parted ways for another week.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Shadow or Ghost

Ana said, “What’s the matter, Ron! Why’s this strange expression all over your face?”
“Actually “Ron started and then stopped abruptly. “I have to leave. I got something urgent to catch up. I will come back soon and go through this notebook. I promise,” he said and got up to leave.
He started to walk down the stairs and Ana followed him, trying to understand what has gone wrong if at all anything has gone wrong.
As he was about to cross the threshold, he turned and said, “I need to go and see an ophthalmologist one of these days. I need someone who is awfully good. Do you have anyone in mind?”
“Why?”She asked, concerned.
“You remember that afternoon when I slept off in your attic while waiting for you to return.”
“That was more than three weeks back, wasn’t that”, she continued. “You were startled when I woke you up. It was as if you have seen a ghost”.
“I do not remember that part. But when I was driving back home that evening, I felt there was a man sitting beside me in the front passenger seat”. He paused for a moment and then said “and that was not the last time. I seem to be having a company rather a constant company”.
“It could  be  what they call a ‘corner of eye phenomena’ and that’s the reason I would like to consult a specialist”.
“What’s that?” She quipped. “I have never heard of something like this before”.
“People sometimes sees an image from the corner of their eyes. The image occasionally resembles faces or human figures. Usually this phenomenon is short lived and the image vanishes if one looks straight at them. That is the reason these images are called ‘shadow ghosts ‘or ‘shadow people’,” he explained.
“Oh! I see that you have caught a shadow?”She said. “It’s not about your eyes. It’s likely that you have seen a spirit. It was probably of a person who has been long gone from our world... physically”.
“You know something”, she continued.” Seeing a shadow figure or a glimpse of someone is a very common way of meeting a spirit. In fact, most of the time this spirit is not a ghoul or a ghost. That’s the reason for them not being confrontational.  If there was an intention to frighten you, he could have opened and slammed the door shut midway or at high speed. Or would have tapped your shoulder and whispered in your ears”. She paused to take a breath.

“Stop this nonsense!”He said. There was more confusion in his voice than irritation. “If you don’t know about any ophthalmologist, that’s fine with me. I will find one. But please do not  make me more confused than I already am at this moment. It’s not at all a funny feeling!”
He started to move towards his car. Before opening the car door, he turned around and shouted, “Bye Ana. You take care”.
“Bbye” she said and then she murmured , “did he hear me!”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why Give Night A Bad Name ....

Night, you are so beautiful, quiet, serene and peaceful
I can spend a lifetime gazing at your stars looking for the departed souls

When your moon is in all its glory and stars keep winking for attention
Lover gets moonstruck, strong becomes romantic and even the mighty turns emotional

and the poet sits alone tipsy, while tired farmer sleeps dreaming of a bright new day

Why they do wrong things during nights? Why did they give you a bad name?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Earth, Fire, Water, Air, Tel - Ecommunication & Speed

The Banerjees are a happy family of four. The parents and the brothers and sisters, all busy with their daily chores.
While the younger ones are in their teens and full of excitement, the parents are having are going through what everybody calls, a midlife crisis. Nothing seems to excite them any longer.
Mrs. Banerjee has decided to start her own consultancy. She has chosen a though challenge of reviving faltering businesses by giving their trademark products a new lease of life.

Mr. Banerjee on the other hand wants to come out of his plum finance job and dive into fashion consultancy and photography.
Scene 1:
Date: 20 July 2015
Time: 9:00 AM
Place: The living room, Banerjee Residence, Kolkata, India.

Son: I am fed up with this Ipad. I have been trying to upload the bike trick from this morning and all that I can see is circles.
Daughter: Mama, He had promised that he will give me the pad after 15 minutes and now it’s more than an hour and still not giving me. I wanted to listen to that song before I go to school. There is a audition tomorrow.

Mrs B: Oh! Keep quiet both of you. If I cannot send my proposal within the next hour, I will miss the biggest chance of my life. My career will be history.
Mr. B: (trying to answer a business call and at the same time upload a power point presentation from the laptop) this internet speed is going to kill me. That’s the biggest handicap of our telecommunication industry. I had worked so hard to get the contract for designing the costumes of the participants of the music talent hunt program that’s going to start on the TV soon. I got the styles, theme, and budget all in place but if I cannot present it, what was the point in working so hard. I agree the files are big but that the nature of the game.

 Sometime later .....
Mr. Banerjee have taken the wise decision to install Airtel 4G for their home internet network as well as his smartphone. Now their work takes about the same time as it used to take but communication time and the frustration time has been wiped off the system. By 8:00 AM in the morning all family members are done with their pre-breakfast internet chores and ready to face the day.
Scene 2:
Date: 2 September 2015
Time: 8:30 AM
Place: The living room, Banerjee Residence, Kolkata, India.

Mrs. B: The breakfast is being served. Everyone hurry up.
Son: Hey Sis, do you need the pad. I am done with it. Dad, you need to see the highlight of yesterday’s exhibition match between Arsenal and Manchester U. It was superb.
Daughter: Thanks Bro! You are being too kind these days. I am suspicious.

Mr. B: Leave the pad aside. Let’s talk over the breakfast, it’s good to start the day with some great family time. It makes the stress disappear give lots of positive energy to deal with the challenges of the day.
Thanks to our new 4G connection, it has added some precious hours to each day of our life and we can enjoy this time with each other and still stay focused on our goals and dreams.

Everyone: Thanks a lot for getting us these unbelievable speed, we can do all we do so much quicker and with so much ease.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Gambler’s supper

Given a choice, I would like to dig my four fingers into one of those delicious meals with curries, rice and other side dishes. But life doesn’t always provide choices as most of my lunch ends being sandwiches while the car being the dining room.
After today’s lunch, I thought of digging a bit into the history of this food keeping many like me up and running.

There lived a recklessly extravagant British statesman called Jon Montagu (1718 – 1792) in south east of England in the eighteenth century. He was the fourth Earl of Sandwich, a historic town and civil parish on the river Stour and notorious as a gambler.
Montagu had invented this bread-enclosed convenience food known as the "sandwich", so that he would not have to leave his gaming table to take supper.

The concept is this food is wonderfully simple: a delicate finger food served between two slices of bread. People of the Mediterranean and Greece are known to have this culinary concept in practice since ancient times and Montagu is thought to have picked it up during one of his trips.
Early reference of sandwich is found in the 1760 that during the initial days they were assumed to food consumed primarily by the masculine gender during late night parties and drinking sessions.

The general public of England and rest of the world got indoctrinated with the passage of time.

For Reference: Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, Solomon H. Katz, editor, William Woys Weaver, assoicate editor [Charles Scribner's Sons:New York] 2003, Volume 3 (p. 235-6)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

You May Say I' am a Dreamer

I always dreamt of a home, just like in the film President (1937) “Ek bangala bane nayara, ati sundar pyara pyara, Vishwakarma ke dwara.”  Yes, dreamt and not really own a home as in my dream, but I am hopeful of fulfilling my dream pretty soon.  I always have dreamt big as they say “when you dream, dream big.”

I would like to own my dream home in a skyscaper and would like to buy myself a duplex on the 20th and 21st floor of a high rise. Just as K. L. Saigal would have sung “Itana uncha bangala ho yeh mano gagan ka tara, jis pe chadh ke indradhanush par jhulaa jhule chand humara”.

The property would have the guest room, lounge, dining, and kitchen on the first level and the 3 bedrooms on the second level and a terrace.  Each of the bedrooms would have balconies, a small dressing room, and the master bedroom would have a small study attached to it.The maid's room, however, will be semi detached.

As for the interiors, the flooring would be wooden and the doors and windows would have a mahogany brown wooden color. The walls would be painted cream and the ceiling white. The kitchen would be a spacious one with marble flooring and fitted with both chimney and exhaust (as we do use a lot of grease in our cooking). It would be fitted with GI modular (from Godrej Interio) and all the regular electronic fittings (viz, toasters, dish cleaner, grinder, juicer etc).

The living/lounging area would be fitted with a home theater and would have a lot of art work on the walls.  The stairs leading to the second level would have exquisite sculptures.

The home will be a smart home with interactive devices and gadgets and will be equipped with Godrej furniture and security systems. The interiors will be designed with a minimalist approach with lots of open spaces.

 Now, that is my dream and I believe I am going to live my dream someday, Goddess Lakshmi willing or in K. L. Saigal’s words “Bhandar hoye lachami ke haathon mei sara, paye ab jibhar ke sukh jisne bipat uthaye.”

A Dream That Everyone Dreams

 My “dream home” has fascinated me and my mind since I was a kid. As the mini me then, I would think of a home by a river miles away from the hustle bustle of the city where the only sounds would be from the flowing water and an occasional bird chirping.  As I grew up, I started loving the mountains and my dream of a dream house gradually veered towards the mountain and I started dreaming of a small house atop a huge mountain from where the only things my eyes could see was the cliffs covered with white ice. I would dream of myself seating on the window with a cup of steaming coffee and watching the mountains while drifting away to the dreamland.  Time passed fast and soon, I started to dream about living by the sea in a secluded island and watching the sea roar, cool breeze blowing over my shoulder and me sitting on the rooftop with a can of beer in my hand and wondering what made the ancient travelers take to the sea or if mermaids were a reality.
Now at this age, I dream of a different kind of a house, not on the mountains, not by a desolate river or a distant desolate island.

Now, I dream of a house near the city, albeit a few hundred kilometers away from the din and bustle of the city.  The property I dream of is of a few acres (not hundreds but 10 would be just fine).  The outer perimeter of the property would be lined with trees.  The trees would provide me with lots of oxygen and privacy and provide nesting place for my winged companions.  The driveway would be lined with trees on both sides and would lead to my “dream house.”
In the middle of the property, an expansive Victorian style two and half storey bungalow would stand in its full glory.  The exterior of the building would be made from stones/bricks and would be designed in such a way that nature would peep in once in a while during the course of the day bringing in ample natural light and ventilation.  I would like to have plenty of bedrooms, outdoor and indoor kitchens and large living and dining spaces.  There will be terraces, balconies and living spaces all meticulously intertwined with open, close and semi covered transitions.  At the top floor would be my studio cum office where I would like to write/paint and meditate. The stairway would showcase lots of artwork and sculptures building up the mood of the exclusive guest visiting my art gallery in the basement.

Behind the bungalow would be a swimming pool, L shaped, with a diving board. The uniqueness of this pool would be an aquarium running along all the sides of the pool. While swimming in the pool, I would be having fish in their natural surrounding for my company. Beyond the pool would be a tennis court, a basketball court, and a small amphitheater with music systems for those wild crazy nights.
Around the tree lining and the outer perimeter of the property, I would like to have my organic farm, where I would grow all my vegetables and fruits.

Till that dream become a reality, I will have to be content with the 3 Bedroom apartment that I possess. I would love to have it redecorated with intrinsic details so as to evoke the feeling that I am actually living in my dream house. The walls of the bedrooms would be painted with earth colors and the living room would be painted white being accentuated with classically framed artworks. But one face of living room will be a video wall eliminating the need for a TV but equipped with touch screen and powered by a search engine bringing in answers to any query that one might have. The flooring will be combination of parquet, marble and some exquisite imported tiles. The wall of the bathroom will be lavishly cladded with hand painted ceramic tiles leaving the wall behind the bathtub for a large aquarium. The kitchen will be no less comfortable than a bedroom with clean lines and built-in appliances and seamless surfaces.
Each Bedroom set will be of a style distinctly different form one another with matching framed artworks a choice that Godrej Interio could easily provide from their wide range of products. While we would prefer to have the wooden look wardrobes in all the bedrooms, we shall have a traditional storewell in the study fully equipped with an electronic safe to keep important materials safe and secured. The balconies will be done in a way that will bring the nature into the interior living spaces and shall be illuminated by solar powered lamps as soon as the sun goes down.

My apartment will then be a place where, I shall close my eyes and envision I am sitting in the heaven and when I open my eyes I will see the same place. The only thought that will come to my mind will be "if there is paradise on face of the earth, it is this, it is this, it is this”.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Quill - A not so simple feather

It was a harmless simple feather. At least that is what it seemed to Ron. It was inside the age-old manuscript like object that Ana has discovered in the attic. Now a day’s Ron doesn't visit Ana as frequently as he used to do sometimes back.
After all the situation has changed since Ana has revealed her true feelings. Human are social animals and their life is all about relationship and relationship.
Today Ana had called him over the phone excitedly and told “please come over as soon as you can. I have some queer stuff to share.” She spoke in length about the old diary that she has found and the also the picture of the ancestral sofa.
But when he came over, she also showed him this old dilapidated notebook. She said “you have a look at it while I go down and arrange for some refreshment for you.”Before he could stop her she was running down the stairs.
It was a very old piece of treasure but definitely not before paper was invented. He was mesmerized and sat down on the chair by the discarded desk nearby. He gently placed the notebook on the desk and untied the ribbon carefully.
He removed the feather and held it in a pen-hold grip and glanced at it casually. He cannot believe his eyes. It was not a feather that he was holding but a quill.
“How didn’t I notice this so long” he thought, a bit disturbed.
He looked up at the mirror by the side of the room and was shocked. It was not his familiar face that was staring back at him from the mirror. It was almost him but somehow it appeared he was dressed for a fancy dress party themed 1715.
“What’s happening to me?” he murmured. He blinked his eyes and everything was back to normal to his relief.
“Am I hallucinating? Or it was just my imagination” he wondered.
Just then Ana came back to the attic with some cakes and lemonade.
“How long is your family staying in this house?” he questioned.
“More than three centuries”, she replied thoughtfully. I should tell you something interesting that I found out today. “Two hundred years back one of our grand great grandfather built this house. Interestingly, he was also called Ronbir. Just like you.”

Interesting indeed! Ron thought.

Monday, August 17, 2015

One Evening At Orion, Bangaluru

We were in Bangalore for 3 days towards the end of July, 2015. It’s a lovely city but seemed to have everything in excess and that includes people, cars and bikes.  One evening we dropped down at the Orion Mall. It was a bit crowded but if you discount that, it was a great experience.

The parking was available in the adjacent multi-storied parking garage which was well staffed helping to find the right parking spot.

Security screening at the entrance made us pause for a few moment but I am not allergic to such checks and incidentally this is the norm in India these days.
Once inside the mall, we were amazed by the display of flowers. The sheer size and complexity of these installations were simply breathtaking.

The mall is lined up with variety of stores and should satisfy everybody's need. The prices were competitive and more so for the branded stores. We did manage to identify and cash on a few great deals.
The place provided a level of comfort to all and it was interesting to see singles, couples and family equally at ease whether they were shopping, window shopping or just chilling.
I however would advise to avoid going there during public holidays or long weekends, in case you are looking for some privacy and space.

The star attraction during our visit, particularly for my daughter was the weaver weaving a very complicated saree inside the store in real time.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Nanobot - The small is BIG

NANOBOT. It is a new word that I have learnt the other day while listening to a talk show on the FM radio. The intent of this post, however is not to bore everyone raving about how enlightened I now feel, having expanded my vocabulary of the complicated English language.

I was actually amazed by what this small word is all about. It stands for a new technology, which many like us was not aware of. Well as the name suggests, it is formed by combining the words “nano” and “robots”. Till this time, no one has used the words “nano” and “robot” in the same breath for me.

I learnt that these are tiny microscopic robots which can be of immense use to the mankind and particularly to the medical field. A little bit of prodding into the internet revealed that nano-robotics is an emerging field of research and technology. More specifically, I was enlightened that nanorobotics refers to the nanotechnology engineering discipline of designing and building nano-robots, with devices ranging in size from 0.1–10 micrometers and constructed of nanoscale or molecular components.

The names nanobots, nanoids, nanites, nanomachines, or nanomites have also been used to describe these devices currently under research and development. Researchers working at the University of California, San Diego have claimed a world first in proving that artificial, microscopic machines can travel inside a living creature and deliver their medicinal load without any detrimental effects. Using micro-motor powered nanobots propelled by gas bubbles made from a reaction with the contents of the stomach in which they were deposited, these miniature machines have been successfully deployed in the body of a live mouse.

A few days later, I happened to be in the company of some doctor friends and I placed this new found knowledge for discussions rather excitedly. My enthusiasm was dampened with their scepticism that came from the other side. Apparently directed therapies has been in existence and haven’t reached anywhere.
Today, I am cautiously optimistic that the naobots will turnout to be the next big change for humankind.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Elsa and the Dragon

I will not claim this blog post as mine. To be precise, this is not even a blog post, it is a Vlog post and I did not have to sweat as my enthusiastic second grader took charge. She said, "I never won a competition in my entire life.” That’s quite a strong statement for someone who just celebrated her 7th birthday. “I am going to record it very nicely so that I will win!" she declared.  

I did the editing to fit it within the allowable 90 seconds, sacrificing some important aspects of her creativity. The storyline after editing can be summarized as below:

“Elsa lives in a castle. This time she has magical power to bring in rains. Her sister Ana is trapped by a dragon in a tower and the knight fails to rescue her. Elsa uses her special powers to free her sister. There is a twist to the story in the form of them getting a baby brother. … and they happily live ever after.”
The video can be watched here: Elsa and the Dragon

One lesson learnt during this exercise is the realization that work done by others with ease is not necessarily easy. Therefore, next time I do not like a part or a whole movie, I will be very reluctant to criticize.
Being the dad and her only other partner in this mission, I do feel she have done a commendable job.
I congratulated her for the effort and said "you are already a winner darling and will get an assured prize from your dad."
Now I rest the rest to judges.

This post is part of   #ColgateMagicalStories  competition hosted by   indiblogger   
Colgate Dental Cream Ad Playlist
The following version of the video blog, thoughnot part of the competition, is an elaborate one and gives an insight into the making of this movie. Making of the Movie


Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Ancestral Sofa

Ana went up to the attic to spend some time alone. She did that whenever she felt a bit low though not too often. Today she lied down on the old chaise lounge to ruminate on her early childhood and how quickly things have changed.  As if to figure out what went wrong.  Suddenly she remembered her mice friends, her childhood buddies. She missed them very much and wanted to hug them this very moment. She was confident that she will succeed in locating her old soft toys somewhere here.

Rummaging through the Attic, she finally spotted Minnie Mouse in an old trunk and quickly picked her up. Mickey too was nearby. vOnce those were removed, a maroon colored object caught her attention and she bent to pick it up. It appeared to be an old diary and upon close inspection, she discovered that it belonged to an ancestor of her dating back a few centuries.  As she was moving through the pages carefully something dropped off from between the pages. It was a picture of mother sitting on the rocking chair in the living room; and on the wall behind, there was a framed portrait of an old man sitting on a blue sofa of Victorian design.

She vaguely remembered an argument between her father and mother about taking that picture off the wall. That memory made her curious to find out what was in the diary.  She went back to her chaise lounge with the diary and started in the beginning.

She was astonished, when she found out that his great great grandfather some three centuries back was a scientist and had invented a time machine.  He had travelled in time and documented those in vivid detail.  He had foreseen that Ana's mother would fall ill and die followed by her father leaving her in the hands of her stepmother.  Probably after reading this her mother was caught between believing the diary and grief for her family. And this was why her mother was unhappy and got the picture removed from the wall.

Just then her stepsisters came knocking at the attic door and she decided to hide the diary before rushing to open the door.