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October 2012

Mahisasur Mardini in Bhopal


Thousands of mahisasurs killed; people all over India overjoyed; festivities all across; happiness all around and myself proud to be a part of the celebrations. It all started with the all familiar voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra in Mahalaya (invoking the goddess) which marked the Akalbodhan (the act of untimely awakening) or the start of Indian festive season. The temperature suddenly dropped and I could see the fog outside my window; AND YES! THE TIME HAS ARRIVED!

And simultaneously started my vacations. I boarded the plane back home – Bhopal. I saw my city from the air as the plane was landing – and I swear – the city looked no less than a bride. Lights all around – some still; a few dancing; and many twinkling – as if a dream had come true.

Then came the four days – long awaited – when it is nothing but jolly faces all across. Hundreds of Pandals showcasing the age old tradition; tradition of devotion, tradition of celebration, tradition of joy. I must admit that Durga Puja or Navaratri is the grandest festival celebrated in India – both in terms of number of people celebrating it and the ways in which it is celebrated. And here is where staying in Bhopal help. Being in Central India, you can see all the different ways in which it celebrated.

On one hand the mesmerizing rhythm of the Dhak and the Dhumch Nach force you sway in its tune (as in Bengal), one the other you can see the showcase of utmost devotion and religious beliefs (as in the central India). Not to forget, the dance tunes of Garba and Dandiya (from Gujrat). And yes, the Mahabhog – I bet this is the tastiest food that you can ever have – it is not a dish; just the plain Khichdi, Sabji, Chatni and Payes but the taste is AWESOME.

At this moment in time I feel so helpless – words are such poor conveyors of emotions – they can’t describe how attached is an Indian is to this festival; but I make a single attempt to this by stating that – people cry when it is time bid adieu to the goddess.

ABAR ESHO MAA

And yes Subho Bijoya to all….

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A Creative Culture Called the Locals


Someone please give me a bravery award! I managed to get a seat in Krishnanagar Local at 5:30 PM on a Friday! You did’t get the point? Then you have not lived in Kolkata for sure. Anyone who has lived in Kolkata for even a short period of time and does not have a pretty loaded wallet will understand the value of the achievement.

For others, let me explain. Kolkata is the economic, social and cultural hub of all of east India to say the least. Millions of people living around the city travel to and from the city daily generally for office work. And the most common mode of transport used by them is the local train (because it is the cheapest). Hence there are two peak times for train travel (dictated by office hours) – around 9:30 in the morning and 5:30 in the evening. And if you ever get the opportunity to be in Sealdah Station someday during these times, you will understand what do they actually mean by saying The Sea of Humans”

The locals have a life of their own…a uniqueness quite difficult to describe in words. Here you will find scenes which are bound to change the way you think that things may happen. Take for example, the vendors – one of the identifying features of the train. You will be amazed to see how a person carrying a huge head load can squeeze through the compartments where people hardly find any space to keep themselves in a vertical position.

What more? If you are lucky, you would be able to find an example of exceptional memory retention power. In the compartments with daily passengers; you may find a time when a tea vendor enters the compartment; gives a cup of tea each to a selected set of people, and goes away without asking a penny. I was astonished by the scene when I first saw it. Then a gentleman quenched my curiosity as he said that the tea vendor recognises each of their faces. He takes the money once in a month. That’s amazing! the vendor keeps track of not less that 500 people, and remembers how many days he was present in a month! That is a walking record book!

Another characteristic of the train-passengers is their passion towards playing cards. In a situation where people are literally falling on each other, you would find a group of four people who would have spread out a large handkerchief between their thighs and are peacefully playing cards (and not to forget, the advisory group sitting right beside them, giving suggestions on the moves they ought to play). Recently I noticed newer trends as I discovered people standing on gate of the compartment and playing cards and people without a handkerchief playing cards on the floor of the compartment.

There are many more scenes that you can never forget once you visit the local trains – people carrying portable hooks to hang their bags, the awkward angles in which a human body can bend in space crunch, the strive to place some commodity on the seat in order to book it and unusual taglines used be the vendors to allure the customers. Millions of people struggling to reach their destinations on time.

And between all this chaos, when you hear a passenger saying, “Dada! Ei train er alada nesha achhe. Apni roj ei train ke dhorar jonno ja khushi tai koren (Mate! This train has an attraction of its own. You can do whatever it takes to board this train daily).” You realise that you are in the land of weird,
nostalgic and loving people – The Land of Bengal.

Batman Dreams


Batman Dreams.

Quote


Strength is Life. Weakness is Death

– Swami Vivekananda

The City of Joy…The Epitome of Culture


There are many ‘eye-catching’ cities in India, posh, vibrant, full of sky-scrapers, luxury buses and what not. Go to Mumbai or Bangalore and you will realise that ‘mordernisation’ is the talk of the day. Malls coming up all around the city; AC buses running up and down the road and what not.Talk to anyone of the ‘iconic’ city of the country and they would name Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and maybe Hyderabad. There is one city however which does not look so ‘mordernised’ at first sight. But it is that city (or the state) which has left an imprint on my heart which can probably never fade away – Kolkata (or Bengal).

A striking difference between Kolkata and other metropolitan cities of India is that Kolkata is Bengali by soul. As Vir Singhvi (a reputed journalist) says, “Tell any person in Mumbai that the city is essentially Marathi, or any Delhite that his city is Pujabi, he would most probably raise an objection. However it is not so with a person in Kolkata; he believes that the city is Bengali and he even feels proud of it.” There is a very strong sense of cultural awakening in the region. Bongs are in general very very proud of themselves and their culture.

The city will definitely not please any outsider at the first sight. The first thing that scares a first time visitor is the GIGANTIC population. Probably the number is too large for anyone to imagine. Other problems include traffic jams (which occur very frequently) rains (let it shower for 1 to 2 hours and large parts of the city are flooded) and humidity (95 to 98 percent at summers with temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius).

But the lovely part of the city is its people. Here you you can meet rickshaw (a non-motorised public vehicle), who finds it difficult to make his ends meet, being extremely knowledgeable about the highest quality of poetry in Bengali. Here people who never met earlier can be found discussing regional politics. This is a place where you can have a decent lunch at prices as low as Rs.5 (Rs. 50 = $1). This is a place where people are evaluated not on the size of the wallet but on the size of their heart.

Live as a common man and enjoy the beauty of the city. Sacrifice the feeling of being special and see how the city captures your imagination.

There is certainly something in this land which gives rise to greats – people who defined their own feild. Take Rabindranath Tagore as and example. A poet who created timeless beauties. What more, he also composed music for each of these poems to convert it into songs which are now known as the famous Rabindra Sangeet. Sons of the same land include Vivekananda (the man who shook the world with his words in Chicago), J. C. Bose (who showed that plants have life and discovered radio), S. N. Bose (co discoverer of Bose-Einstein Condensate) and Subhash Chandra Bose.

One must remember that it is the people who make a city. A city is not a dead piece of land – emotionless and mechanical, but is vibrant entity – personal and affectionate. In today’s world where relations and emotions dry out, this is a city which still preserves its personal identity. This is the city of joy; the epitome of culture: Kolkata…

N. B: If you are wondering why in this post there is no mention of the Durga Puja or the Local Trains of the city, I would like to say that these aspects of the city are too elaborate to discuss here – they require a post for themselves. So keep your fingers crossed…

A Thing of Beauty… A Joy Forever


God said, “Let mathematics be beautiful” and hence came figures like the one showcased above. And henceforth this angel has been continuously en-captivating people like me. This is truly a source of seamless beauty and in truest sense a joy forever. Welcome to the world where the harder you analyse, the richer the object becomes… Welcome my dear friends, to the world of fractals…

I hope that the title figure has already invoked curiosity if not amazement in your minds. But you are right; isn’t it just another picture? I bet, it can be anything but not ‘yet another picture’. Here is the reason; zoom into any boundary of the picture, and you get…

and further in…

Keep going!

And finally after zooooooming into one little corner you would see

 

A miniature Mandelbrot.

And take my word for it – the whole of the first figure (the original Mandelbrot) is composed of infinitely many miniatures of itself.

What is even more fascinating is that such figures have a family of their own – figures composed of miniature copies of themselves. Here I showcase a few more of their kind

 

The Newton Fractal

The Julia Set

The Sierpinski Carpet

Zoom into them and let your imaginations fly

To know more about these mathematical beauties, you can have a look at a presentation given by me (and my friends) on this topic FRACTALLY SPEAKING

Or you could do through this general article by me Fractal Article

One law to rule them all


Being a student of science in general and physics in particular, I tend to be one of the laziest persons professionally. I mean, I am serious! A theoretical physicist spends most of the time in his life reading, listening to songs, watching movies, gaming and most importantly sleeping. And oops I missed a vital point – discussing (read gossiping) with peers. And hence following the trend, I too spend a significant portion of my life thinking of useless issues (and posting them here).

One of the most fundamental questions that haunted me since I chose the field of physics was: why physics? And the most satisfying answer was its structure which made it so beautiful. By its definition itself (my version although) it tries to explain the most basic ways in the universe works. The most basic laws which make the universe the way it is. In a way it does a very vital job very simplistically. Let me explain my point with an example.

Consider the early ages, when man first started understanding the world around him. For him the world was full of facts and rules. That the sun rises from the east and sets in the west; that anything released from top falls downward; that periodically something (or someone) covers the sun so as to create night like conditions during the day were a few of them. Life was good for them but for a couple of problems. Firstly there were too many of laws to govern their lives (which is not too good if you think about it). Secondly, there was no way they could use nature to their benefit. This aspect was necessary for humans, because physically they were not in a position save themselves from the other animals or the disasters of nature. Here is where science (or physics) enters the scenes. People start realizing that day and night, falling objects and the solar eclipse are manifestations of the same law. This was a great discovery. A great reduction in the number of laws: from three (or presumably more) to a single one. Fabulous!

This in fact is an example of the way physics works. It seeks the simplest way in which to explain the working of nature. Today physics has advanced a great deal. With the help of mathematics it has simplified the structure of nature. But the goal remains the same: reducing the number of laws (or assumptions) that are needed to explain the nature of universe.

It would be very likely that the world around us would be very different than what is now. Why is the world the way it is? There has be a law which underlies the very existence of the form of nature. A law which superposes every other law. One law to rule them all…

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