Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Culturally diverse? Yes Please!

Let's start this topic with a quote from Jane Austen. “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.” she said and argued “ I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” That's probably how most of us as Indians feel about our culture except a few who thinks differently.
I have been living outside the country for more than two decades and have met many people who has left the country temporarily or permanently who echoes the same sentiment. One thing that unites us all is the our culture no matter how diverse we are in our thoughts, beliefs, language or appearance.
Yes we are still culturally diverse although many of our festivals and values are now intertwined across the subcultures.  But retaining this trait for a country of India's complexity and volume withstanding resistance from people who quite often spew venom in the social media is quite an commendable achievement.
I once listened to an interview and one statement made about our country said it all. India being so large and diverse, something need to be kept in consideration while drawing an inference on any particular cause or issue. What one inferred could be correct but the irony is that the opposite of that is also equally true.
As an example one might infer that the Indian society at large is becoming intolerant towards each other's religious beliefs, but the opposite of this is probably the greater truth. We see the same when it comes to #girl child, #respect for women, #social division, #dowry, #respect for National language, #celebrating other festivals #freedom of speech, and the list goes on.

Without going into the details of people and culture as a management subject, it won’t incorrect to state that only cultural identity that Indian diaspora has is that related to back home. One may think otherwise but the world out there begs to differ and tag us all with the Indian culture.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Writer's Block or Writer's Excuse

Finally I looked up for its literal meaning in the Wikipedia. I believe it was a subconscious instruction to my fingers to confirm what my mind had been suspecting for some time now. Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years. Throughout history, writer's block has been a documented problem.
 As if finding a subject was not difficult enough that my mind also insists on justifying that with reasons before it would let me get going with my writing task. 
This makes maintaining a blog even more challenging. 
I am sure, I am not the only one who feels this way and envy those who keeps churning post after posts day after day. There was a time when one used to approach the proverbial wise-man, who could easily been a woman too, for support and solace. 

But now with changing time, we approach Google or should I say ... we google! Thinking why I should be any different, I asked Google for help and help there was in abundance.

I thought, why do I need to take the trouble to tap my finger on the laptop. After all I am the lazy bum of the twenty-first century.
I spoke to Siri to find out if she could help me out. She too was equally efficient as Google. (One day I should let Siri do some Googling for fun.)

Now I have plenty of ideas and many sources to tap ideas from. Maybe I need to start brainstorming for new excuses….

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Daymare? Nay! It’s a Dream

Your great grandchild will be surprised to know that you had physically transported yourself to tourist destinations. It will be shocking for them to accept the fact that people took such extraordinary efforts for mundane experience of a jungle safari or a walk on the Great Wall of China. An experience which could easily be enjoyed during a lunch break. If it is not yours, his grandchild will most certainly be looking at us as though we were the hunters’ gatherers of the twenty-first century.  
It’s not a daymare, it’s just a dream!
Virtual Reality is making inroads into the life of the proverbial common man at a speed much faster than what we would be comfortable to accept. Any major, important or popular tourist destination has already been digitized in their minutest of details. We can easily experience a fly over the highest peak of the largest mountain or inspect the intricate details of St Paul’s Cathedral leaning back on our desk chair. Today, it may analogous to gazing at the computer screen but I have a dream....  
Very soon VR technology to will evolve to a full-fledged Dolby digital like experience. As I write this post, google is busy documenting the street views of the major cities around the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if the forests and deserts are also being digitized by someone else.
The journey that one would embark in the near future would be as real as they comes, effectively encompassing all our senses but remaining within one's own comfort zone. Standing in front of the favorite monument one would be able to feel, smell and talk to the fellow virtual traveler admiring the same view in real-time, albeit virtually.
When that day dawns, the able, unable, disable and differently-able person alike shall experience the joy of visiting exotic locales. This is going to impact the life of all; the lazy, the crazy and everyone in between. The “selfie experience” will still remain quite intense while the “selfie camera” moves into the computer which will be shouldering all the hard-work. 
With that reality still lurking at a distance, my best selfie is yet to clicked. I do leave a virtual selfie. 
But till that time comes we have to drag our feet and physically send ourselves to places  armed with a good selfie camera. After all human beings' primitive instinct of showing off has to be addressed in style. The camera need to support different formats of all the social media options. Whether it is Facebook, Pinterest or the Instagram, the photos once posted need not get cropped. Mobiistar phone with its front, dual selfie camera to capture a 120° wide-angle shot would definitely give you an edge over the commoners. And moreover need not to worry about the battery dying in the middle of the trip and its worth checking it out virtually in the Flipkart store.

This post remembers Morton L. Heilig, referred by many authors as the father of Virtual Reality

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Forces of Nature by Marc Quinn

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Marc Quinn is a British contemporary visual artist of a very high repute and caliber. His repertoire include sculptures, paintings and installations. We were fortunate to be able to stand in front of his sculpture called ”The Conservation of Mass” and admire as it was displayed in the grounds of the Museum of Islamic Arts (MIA) Doha. This majestic looking 2015 stainless steel piece is of dimensions 263h X 750w x 192d cm was part of his first solo exhibition in the region.

Varshika had made a brief video presentation of this sculpture in her own way during our visit.
This is part of Quinn’s wider body of works titled “Frozen Waves” characterized by minimal arches, gestural shapes and stainless steel construction. The artist cautions that these are not sculptures of waves but an unwitting self-portrait by nature.
These has been inspired by the brute authority of nature that constantly enforces the “dust to dust” existence of all living creatures. Each piece are reminiscent of the gestural shapes we witness in the eroding conch shells before nature turns them back to sand particles. The immense force of nature gets crystalized into solid forms through these artworks.
All names are borrowed from the science of fluid dynamics for that extra sensation that touches through our eardrums.
The Conservation of Mass
The Conservation of Culture
The Conservation of Matter
The Conservation of Linear Momentum
The Conservation of Ultra Gravity
The Conservation of Turbulent Flow
The Conservation of Subsonic Flow

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

We The Indians … Glamour Chasers!

YouGov.uk has recently released their survey result for world’s most admired individual 2018. The most admired man turned out to be Mr. Bill Gates, while Ms. Angelina Jolie came out as the most admired woman. Both are well revered for their philanthropic efforts, no one would dare question Gates’ contribution to proliferation of the personal computers. Bill and Melinda Gates’ foundation is also doing a lot for the underprivileged children and medical research among other. Barak and Michelle Obamas were both placed in second position in their respective categories.

It’s understandable that the selection is heavily reliant on computer literacy and internet accessibility among the voting population. When it comes to the internet users in terms of pure numbers, India is in the same league with the USA and China. This is quite obvious from the names that popped up in the first twenty for both genders.
Even after discounting the much maligned AI and manipulative analytics, it’s hard to make sense of the toppers from India. The top admired Indian man is PM Modi at number 8 and closely followed by Mr. Bachchan at number 9. The women we admire are Ms. Aishwarya Rai at number 11, Ms. Priyanka Chopra at number 12 and followed by Ms. Deepika Padukone at number 13.
Leaving aside the Prime Minister, I fail to see the social outreach of the others. How do they, whom we apparently admire inspire the children, the youth, the grown up or the society at large.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

There is One Such Place I know

Did you ever wish to be in a place where you would open a cabinet and take any book if you fancy and return it at another time after you are done with it. Or for that matter place one of your own books that you have finished reading for another book lover to enjoy. No questions asked, no string attached and unmanned.

There is one such place that I know. Its the Katara cultural village in Doha, Qatar. There are quite a few shelf like these for used books that would promote the habit of reading.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Visit to an International School – A Photo Tour

There is an International school where the choir of which my daughter is part of practices on a regular basis. The other day I decided to go around with my phone camera while waiting for them to finish singing.
The environment within that school is very different from the school that I went to… albeit many years ago. It is even somewhat different from the school my daughter attend these days.
The school, I am referring to here is not under pressure of large number of students like Indian schools and that allows them to have a lot of open spaces. Pupil do not feel constricted either inside the class room or outside. The walls are painted with scientific formulae and quotable quotes.
I am sharing a few photographs and those should give some idea of the message I want to convey. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and therefore I leave you with these pictures to do the talking.

I keep posting images in my Instagram account and my user name is Sumandebray. Please check this out sometime.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Piece of Desert Rose

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There is a new NATIONAL MUSEUM OF QATAR, which is nearing completion. This is how the museum will look once it is completed.

 Nature is known to inspire and influence human being’s creative mind since time immemorial. The interlocking disc design of the museum by Jean Nouvel is inspired by the desert rose.  
Desert rose is the colloquial name given to rose-like formations of crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte which include abundant sand grains. [Wikipedia]  The flattened crystals has a great resemblance to petals of rose.
Holding in her hands
Last weekend me and my daughter went to the museum gift shop and bought a sizable piece of this desert beauty. We were quite excited with the new toy and had a quick photo session to treasure the moments forever.
Posing with a yellow rose
The desert rose may also be known by the names: sand rose, rose rock, selenite rose, gypsum rose and baryte (barite) rose.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Agoraphobic any one

Napoleon had cautioned long ago that "Mankind's worst enemy is fear of work". But centuries have passed but the fear of work doesn't seems to go away.

One of my ex-colleague used to question "why we need to complete this today while we could do it tomorrow?" Another one's philosophy was to leave office early if you happen to reach for work late. "one should not be late twice in the same day" he used to advice.
But the winner is one who let office in the morning because his boss wished him "have a great day!" Obviously he had figured out that he could not be in the office and have good times.

I looked high and low all these days to find a word that would describe this attitude towards work. On the 6th of March 2018, I got this word sent to me and I am glad to share with all who were not aware of it.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Cutting Paani with a pinch of Salt

Everyone would unanimously agree today that the need for saving water is no longer an option, it's our responsibility towards the generations scheduled to arrive in our planet in the future. When we say generations, it is not limited to a specific race, species or lifeform. The earth belongs to all.
Life is a balance between what we can control and what we cannot. There is however, another dimension to this old sayings…Life is also a balance between what we should try to control and what we shouldn’t.
While any idea to conserve water, #CuttingPani, is potentially a noble initiative, we should interrogate it with all seriousness to make sure that it would not send wrong signal. Inadequate consumption of water will have negative implications leaving the world with a generation of dehydrated people, quite similar to the anorexic population of today.
Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, more or less and constantly loses water through its excretory system. This needs to be compensated and the commonly recommended quantity is eight 8-ounce glasses per day amounting to about 2 liters. Not many of us reach this target on regular basis and some health gurus are of the opinion that majority of the population are on the brink of dehydration.
The other extreme of this spectrum is “water intoxication”, which occurs due to excessive water intake resulting into abnormal brain function and could be fatal in extreme cases. Although not as common, when it takes place, the excess water dilutes blood sodium levels and causes fluids to move inside cells, which then swell producing potentially life-threatening effects.
I believe, the message transmitted upfront need to focus on drinking more water while the appeal for “drinking water conservation” remains subtle. Restaurants and businesses could start using smaller glasses allowing people to ask for a second helping if they are very thirsty. That way we do not propagate the message of “Drink less and Save more”.
Few odd ideas for conservation of water usage from various aspects of our daily chores could be as follows. All of these without touching the drinking water segment and avoiding a wrong psychological message:
There has been no significant development in the way we wash our clothes ever since washing of clothes has been in practice.  
Making washing machine more water efficient is one way but there could also be machines that washes using microwave technology. One need to take on the mighty soap lobby to succeed though.
We could also develop clothes that doesn't catch dirt. We should be able to brush it clean like most animals does. After all our apparels are supposed to be second skin.
Could we not develop utensils that repels grease so that it needs little or no water to clean them?
Can we not make grease trap mandatory in our houses and not limit those to restaurant kitchens.
Our bathtubs could come with dedicated meters built into its body that would measure every time it was filled and charge us at a higher rate.
Why can we not make the tap water potable and ensure that the plumbing network is sanitized regularly so that we do not hesitate before drinking.
We can also make technology less expensive so that we could use pneumatic waste clearance technology in our WC so that the demand of water is minimized.
We need to plant more trees as this is the only way to produce more water.

Let’s have #cuttingpaani with a pinch of salt.

I just signed the petition, “#CuttingPaani” initiated by #Livpure. I think this is important us and the coming generations. Will you sign it too?
Here’s the link: Just Do It

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Go Ahead

You are Braver than you believe, Stronger that you seem and Smarter than you think.

Life is Like that

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Sometimes you need to look at life from a different perspective.....

Thursday, January 18, 2018

One Mile Stand

Once again they met today. Few hundred meters from the crossroads. The area was abuzz with morning activities as usual. He was ahead of her but when they looked at each other the earth seemingly stopped rotating for a moment.

He took his Cartier shades off and she removed her Gucci. The eyes did all the talking as the RJ played a romantic song on the local station.

Silently she said, “I will follow you wherever you go
He pleaded “Please do not let anyone come in between us

Selena Gomez went on …
I've been set free
I am hypnotized by your destiny
You are magical, lyrical, beautiful
You are...
And I want you to know, baby

They went up to the traffic lights and stopped again both eyes fixated. Then the signal went green.
But he was a bit too fast and she could hardly keep up with the speed. Distance grew between them and some other car came to fill the growing space between their cars.

He went straight ahead while she took a right turn. At the next signal he felt lonely as her eyes were no longer present in his rear view mirror. Eyes became moist and he put back the shades ….

The one mile stand has sadly come to an end.....