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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Facebook, Orkut – no more a fun

Few years back, when I got introduced to Orkut, it was a different time. I had not heard of Facebook then, in fact nobody around me. I was among the leading user of Orkut in my surrounding then. I injected this virus in many people's mind around me. It was thrilling then. Everyday used to begin with checking Orkut profile. New updates, scraps, updates in friends scrapbook. Beating head to refresh the memory of any possible person who at some point of the time was your friend and still exist on this earth. It was a good exercise trying to locate friends in different corners of the world. I even succeeded to catch hold of some of my school mates. Orkut then allowed only 12 photos to be uploaded on your account and we tried to make the best use of this by posting the best clicked photo till date. The photos were then receiving lot of appreciations. It was simple then like your own diary where you know all the notes written on each page.
Slowly Orkut started getting complicated. From your personal diary, it turned into a reference book where you refer any subject, searching it from the index. It turned liberal allowing more number of photos initially to 100 and now up to 10000, allowed to reply the scrap without visiting persons profile, showing the updates of all your friends on your front end. It no more remained a page governed by you, but by the friend activities. This started killing the fun. I guess the main motivation of social networking site was to spend some time for your “friend”. When you visit a persons profile to scrap him, check photos, you try to check other updates on his profile. It might introduce you to your common friend who is not in your friends list. Now these social networking sites suggests you all probable friends but that takes away all the fun you get from searching. It slowly started introducing online games which took people on a crazy ride. It no remained the social networking site but turned into a game zone.
In the mean time, I visited a place where people were not aware of Orkut, but mad about Facebook.
So with the sole purpose of keeping my those friends in contact, I opened an account on Facebook. I had few friends on Facebook for a long time till Facebook introduced a utility of searching friends. Many of my friends used this utility to reach me. Since I was not much active and least interested to check Facebook, only thing I used to do was to accept the friends request. I doubt if I visited even one fourth of my “friends” profile immediately after accepting them as friend. The worst part of Facebook was that I used to receive loads of requests related to Farmville, which I guess again is a on line game.
Recently, I realized that orkut has started fading out and facebook has taken over it in all the aspects. I see more and more updates coming from friends on Facebook and less on orkut. I feel only those people are still active on Orkut who were its initial user. I tried to make a shift from Orkut to Facebook. I started checking, updating Facebook account equally as my orkut account. But sooner realized that this transition is not smooth. I couldn't feel the high in Facebook as I felt with Orkut. It failed to absorb me even for a short time.
I am still a regular visitor of these sites and I might keep visiting these sites in future. But I also doubt that they become a history. I still see some of the fabulous photos my friends upload, but I don't feel the same as earlier to compliment them. I still receive the Orkut scraps or Facebook writings on the wall, but I fail to respond to the scraps and the writings promptly.

What is happening – Have these social networking sites turned boring or am I growing old?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What turned me into Scientist

Its a very old story. We need to go some 20 years back. I was then living in not so populated , not so overcrowded, but a very quiet city. I had some people around who made some thoughts generated in my mind. Those were a bunch of blind people, not together, but around me. I remember two of them prominently. He was blind and he had to take the support of his wife to go any where around. Some thing similar we see almost everyday at the railway stations. Then there was one who had this amazing stick which used to rest in his bag folded when he is not moving but on a move it used to guide him to whatever place he wish.
There were instances when both these options used to fail. First persons wife was not always available to guide him and the stick of the second not always showed the right path.
While I was seeing these failures, one day I met a friend who had just bought new shoes which glow a light when you jump or put pressure in a specific manner. Now I don't remember the technology he told behind it. But these two different observations initiated a chain of thoughts in my mind. I started thinking of a technology where blind people get some such shoe which will guide them and control their movement. I don't remember on what lines I was thinking then, but some kind of sensor which covers a spherical range of some 2 meters say is fixed with shoes and based on different type of signals sent by the sensor, user can take steps to avoid any kind of accident.
I tried to gather some information and tried learning few things which I thought could bring this plan in reality. But it all failed. I didn't succeed in it mainly because of lack of knowledge and also lack of access to knowledge then. With time, the thought was sent somewhere in the back of mind.
Something similar is in reality now with sensors used to guide Robots, or automatic chairs, or the vehicle on mars to run around sensing the obstructions coming in the way. But I still see blind people moving around with somebody's help or still the stick is assisting them. I heard of shoes that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy efficient enough to charge your mobile. But I haven't heard of shoes that convert the sound waves coming through the earth into signal indicating the movement of any vehicle coming towards you.

Though I became a scientist, I chose a different path and landed in a field which can not help to work on this subject. But I will be very happy if I meet blind person aided with some such technology and walking around without any assistance. Does somebody think like this?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inside Man

Imagine a situation where you enter a movie theater to watch a hollywood movie. You are inside the theater initially adjusting to the darkness and then with the seat to get comfortable. Soon, the Universal studios appears in front of you. But something is weird here. You hear some bollywood hit falling on your ears. Then you realize this is a famous song “Chal chaiyya chaiyya” from some Shahrukh movie I can't remember the name though at the moment. Guess it is “Dil Se”.
For a moment, you get confused if you are watching a hollywood movie or a bollywood movie!!
If you want to experience such a situation, do watch Inside Man. The movie begins with this song with a van moving in the streets of I guess Manhattan. They have used almost complete song with slight remix. Believe me, it sounds weird. Either the song selection was wrong or a hindi song altogether does not fit in those frames. After watching movie, I was wondering if the song had any connection with the movie theme too or the director just liked it and so used it.
This weird introduction though made me sit through whole movie and watch it.
Now, I won't write about the movie. It is a watchable movie but does not take hold of you. To cut the story short, a perfect (!) bank robbery plan with some hidden agenda.
But I definitely liked two things in the movie. The beginning and the end. The famous “Chal chaiyya chaiyya” returns again in the end.
All in all it was totally weird to listen “Chal chaiyya chaiyya” with no Malaika arora and shahrukh dancing on train, but listening the song after such a long interval was really worth.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Yawning after a sleep!!

My blog has been in sleep for a long time.
To my surprise, the blog received more number of hits when it wasn't updated regularly.
I wanted to work on the blog but you may call me lazy or busy, your choice, but it kept on getting postponed.
Some of the widgets had stopped working and I wanted to check what went wrong with those. But I was totally off the blog till recently when suddenly there was an overflow.
My few friends started blogging and I got their links to read. Then, there was a competition on a topic. Coincidentally I already had one post ready. So, I just submitted it. Later on, I got a mail saying the entry should be fresh and I should include a link of their page in my blog so as to consider my post for the competition. Well, need not mention but I didn't do any of those things and so I guess am out of the competition. Writing this make me realize that I just missed the chance to earn few thousand dollars I guess. I am feeling so bad now!! Hell!! But I got some new readers instead.
Anyway, the point was these things brought me back to the blog. Since I don't have anything interesting to write at the moment, I decided to work on the blog rather than any post.
So, first thing I checked was the widget showing comment updates. Some thing went wrong and it totally disappeared from the page. At the moment it seems working properly, but am waiting for any new comment to appear in it.
Secondly, one thing I was very curious was about the polls taken on different pages and blogs. Wanted to know how it is incorporated and how actually it works. Finally I succeeded in including this widget in my blog. Have generated a test poll question and waiting for votes like the Indian politicians in present scenario. I don't know if this polling thing really makes any sense sitting on a blog. But I will watch it for some time. If found interesting, will keep it on.
There is one more thing I want to include in my blog. I got the idea from some blog I was reading and immediately liked it. Will update this post if successfully included in my blog.
Well, these were some uninteresting words I put down on my blog and you can skip except for one interesting observation I came across. Among all the posts till date, the post on “Ashadhi Ekadashi” got maximum hits and it is way ahead of all other posts on the blog, nearly 5-6 times more hits.
Isn't that interesting!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Journées Modélisation de Paris

A conference “Journées Modélisation de Paris meet” on 3rd and 4th of June was arranged at the Chemistry Department of École nationale supérieure de chimie de Paris (ENSCP). It was immediately after I returned from India. I couldn't attend first day of the conference. But I decided to attend the second day.
First of all it was a friday, a relaxing day. With me returning from a holiday, away from work, a good way to get back to work. Secondly, one of my colleagues A had a presentation at the conference. She is an undergrad student from the United States of America spending one year in Paris under some scheme.
I was curious to visit the institute which is a home for some very old Nobel laureates like Charles Friedel of Friedel Craft reaction and Henri Moissan, one isolating fluorine and developing high temperature furnace.

The institute ENSCP is located near the Luxembourg station on RER B line. Presently Luxembourg is more famous among visitors for the senate of France, Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg garden) and the Palais du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Palace).
Returning to the subject, the venue being in the very heart of the city, I was wondering how I would reach the Institute. Although I had printed the route to reach the venue, one can easily get lost in the narrow alleys of Paris, once out of the undergrounds of metro.
The first presentation was scheduled at 9.30 a.m. and I got down at the Luxembourg station at 9.25 a.m., which obviously means I was late. I was just wondering how much time I would need to search a 114 years old Institute in an equally old jungle of buildings, when I saw A getting down from the train. That relieved me since I had information that she attended the previous day presentations. So, it was obvious to expect that she knows the way to the venue, which I initially felt correct because she directed me to take an unseen passage. I wonder about these narrow passages on most of the Paris RER stations. Most of these stations have one such passage where the heavy wind is blowing in opposite direction making you difficult to walk.
Anyway, we were out of this station and then A started searching something in her bag. I was just feeling the curiosity of what is coming out of the bag, when I saw a road map in her hand. Rather than making a move on road, she started reading the map and then looking at the directions given at the roadside. I don't why I decided to follow her believing that she is using map just to be on safer side, because all the roads in Paris almost look the same.
Well moving with a pace that only a stranger to the region can have, we finally reached the venue close to 10.00. But this was not the end of the search. According to A we had come to the back gate of the Institute and we will have to search the way to the hall of conference.
She entered very confidently in a building searching something. I guess finding nothing familiar, she finally asked somebody in her “US”ian French about the venue. It was then revealed that we had to enter some other building.
So we were back to the place where we started and looking for a new building to enter. But we were then fortunate to spot a board giving directions to the building. It was followed by more number of boards taking us very close to the hall. At one point, we were again stuck with a decision making situation between two passages. While I suggested taking the right passage, A opted the left one. The reason not being she was knowing the route, but locating a person who was present previous day and moving down the left passage.
We started following the person keeping some distance, with A in front and me at the end. It was a bridge kind of passage leading to a single closed door, which apparently to me looked like a door to a big hall. While crossing the door, the person looked behind checking who is following, stopped for a second and with some funny expression moved on. It was only on reaching the door that we realized it was men's restroom. I have never turned so instinctively by 180° in synchronization with anybody before in my life. For me it was more of a funny situation, for A, I don't know!
What more should you expect in a situation already full of tension of presenting your work in front of renowned scientist in the field. The situation was evident from all the things she was telling while coming to the venue from the station. How she could not sleep whole night, why she decided to wear total black dress and that too semi-formal (which I really don't know what exactly means). What kind of impression a 20 year old girl (yaa, she told me her age!) can make wearing a total black colored semi formal dress and how it is better than a 23 years old girl who presented previous day wearing a complete formal dress of mixed colors!! Well lets stop here. I can go on writing since a tensed person speaks a lot more otherwise than what he/she speaks in presentation.
Finally we reached the conference room (taking the right passage) and missing not one but two presentations. Just want to add here, the initial two presentations (which I missed) only were in English and all later presentations (which I attended) were in French!! Interestingly, all the slides were also made in such fashion that it hardly gave any clue about the subject (inspite of it related to science which knows no language). The presentation by A was in very fluent “US”ish French, with some slips to English at times. I might not have understood all of her presentation, but one thing it brought to me was why Americans are leading on all the fronts. Her work was no doubt interesting, but it was her attitude that attracted the attention of all the scientists. So much so that a vice president of a German company invited us to join him for lunch. The person P was an early days Scientist in our institute and told us many important aspects of research in computational field, in a short time of 2 hrs of lunch.
The lunch was followed by some more presentations (in French). While returning we peeped into the nearby Luxembourg garden to have a glimpse of the original and the oldest Statue of Liberty.
All in all it was an interesting conference. By the way, I actually had planned to discuss all the work discussed in the conference, but I guess it’s better to write a separate post for that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Je suis Apprendre le Français

Ok. Let me tell you in the beginning itself that learning French is not an easy task. Although it shows close similarity with French, but you if listen and try to understand French with your English background then you will totally fail. To learn a language like French, it's a must that you join special classes where you are taught the real and actual pronunciation of the words.
I wanted to learn join some such class after landing in Paris. But things didn’t worked out although I tried a lot. With time I gave up plans to learn French and was managing with simple words like Bon jour and merci, which you have to use atleast 15-20 times in a day.
But later on when I made some friends, I decided to learn French in a different way managing my busy schedule.
So I told my colleagues to teach me some sentences whenever possible. I will learn them. This way I will learn some sentences plus I will get introduced in a quick and easy way to sentence formation and pronunciation of different words. So even if I learn say 30 sentences, then i am introduced to some 30 verbs which is quite enough to make simple sentences and convey your message.
In this my friend Yasmine started helping me to begin with. With time some more names added with Edith, David, Amy started giving inputs from their side. But as is the case, consistency is very much necessary to make something successful. My busy schedule in between time drifted me away from this practise and it is foolish ness to expect it from others when you yoursel are not upto it.
But recently Yasmine realised this gap and tried reinitiating the practise. But i had lost the path totally. She soon realised that all her efforts are going in vain with me failing to recollect simple sentences and words.
So last week she scared me with the fear of taking an exam. This struck me badly since it has been long time I appeared for any exam. I tried to avoid it some or other way but Yasmine is a tough person to deal with. She along with Edith set up an exam for me and scheduled it for today. I was supposed to sit and prepare for exam on week end but as always is the case, fell asleep all the time i opened my written French notes. People normally have Monday blues, but today morning I had Monday black, blue white, yellow, red and all others you can think of. It was not just the fear of exam that was in but the fact that everybody in the group had come to know about my exam. Infact on Friday everybody tried to make me realize that I had an exam on Monday.
Monday morning was no different. I was feeling all the eyes on me. Everybody wished me good luck on the coffee table. Yasmine was not present on the table. I thought , maybe she is not well and not coming or very busy in work and wont get time to take my exam. But later on I realized that the exam is inevitable. Most of the group members had spend some time setting up question paper fo me. Every body had it except for me. So, if not Yasmine, somebody else would have made me take my exam.
I guess you can make out the kind of tension building up on me. Infact , when i went for lunch, the lady at the counter asked me some routine question. But I heard it as if she is asking, “Are you ready for the exam? ”Was I imagining or was it real?
I think then she understood that I am under a big stress so she asked me just move ahead. Even I moved ahead with out trying to understand what she really asked. I guess you also must have been through this situation at some point of the time.
And then it was the time. Professor Yasmine entered my office. She commanded me to keep all the notes away. Put off the monitor. She changed the password so that I can’t login. Gave me the paper and told me what I have to do. Well i guess that was not enough so she told me that you have only 20 mins to solve the paper and half hour as mentioned and made David keep a check on me. I even doubt she had arranged for some cameras in some corners of my office. I tried to search them through the corner of my eyes but couldn’t find any in that tensed situation. One relief given was spelling mistakes were totally allowed, since this was not the exam of my writing skills.
I tried my best to solve the paper and was writing till the last fraction of last second of last minute when yasmine barged into the office and snatched it out of my hands busy writing those last few important words which you remember only in finishing moments.
So, there my paper was gone and I was waiting for results. Did I tell you the options for my fate after the result. I had to score atleast 10 marks out of 20 to avoid any embarrassing situation. If less than 10, then I am vulnerable to any punishment coming my way. And if more than 10 and efforts appreciated then I may get!!! Yes may get some gift for encouragement.

Well the results were out soon and I am posting the corrected paper here.Yes!!!! I scored 18 out of 20. The two examiners came in my office with the result sheet. Check my performance.

If you haven’t understood last few words in my essay on 2nd page end, I will explain. Towards the end, I wrote in the essay that “the paper was very difficult and not at all simple. And I need a coffee now and that is very urgent”. Well thats what I meant to write. What I actually wrote might be different in meaning. But I guess the examiner understood what i wanted to write, because they came with a cup of coffee in their hand for me.
Professor Yasmine and Professor Edith honoured me with these instant gifts.

They also mentioned that since it was totally unexpected result so they were not prepared with the gift today. This is a compensatory gift and you shall get your real gift tomorrow.
So friends, I am done with my exam. I am going to sleep imagining about the possible gift coming my way. The night after exam and result is so calm. I am going it enjoy it after a long long time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Its time for Ciesta

After three days holiday everybody is back to work? Well not sure if they are really back to work, but at least to the working place. Actually not all people could make it to office today. There is some kind of strike with bus. Only option left then is personal vehicle or another route via train (RER) and then climbing the mountain.
So, those who possess cars are here and some others, like me who either were not aware of this strike or those used to climbing hill again like me (I fall in both categories) are here.
Its a sunny day.
Sun makes Europeans cheerful, it being a rare view here.
And if they have good food for lunch then they are very happy.
A good lunch and then a lazy walk to the nearby lake take up most of the working hours.
Now this sun has a charismatic effect.
It slowly starts making the screen in front of you go blur as you start reading a scientific article on it.
Very soon you realize that you are trying to read the same line for last fifteen minutes. Few minutes later even this sense starts fading out and you start struggling to concentrate on screen.
Its then more sensible to accept that you fall for ciesta and enjoy those few minutes of quick nap. And if at such a moment sunlight is directly falling at you, you are the luckiest person.
I did not realized when I fall for it and lost my conscious.
Then something strikes in mind and I felt not following the ethics of work place.
With too much efforts I come out of that charm.
My colleague sitting table next advices in his Frenchish English to continue it making me realize it is a holy act.
This was a very favorable situation and I did not tried to argue on the issue.
Both of us sink into the holy Ciesta.
20 minutes later, with a fresh mind and a cup of hot tea, now I am ready to post this on my many days untouched blog.
Enjoy the Sun when its cool.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Khichadi !!!!

So, we had a situation here today night. After a break of 2 days at weekend, everybody was lazy to cook and was looking at each other with ray of hope that somebody will take initiative. After many attempts of pushing ball in each others court, finally I guess Vijay lost the interest in the game and decided to make this memorable Khichadi. Now, if you are thinking that Khichadi was something out of the world and in next few lines I am going to give you tips on how to make this khichadi, then you are wrong. The khichadi was no doubt good, but a regular one of Vijay's one of specialties.
What made me write this post are the activities we had to take up after the khichadi was ready to eat.Because of our involvement in the game I discussed above, it was around 10.30 by the time Khichadi was ready. With our empty stomachs and empty plates we gathered around the pressure cooker and were awaiting the moment when it will be opened.But we were compelled to take an unexpected break when Vijay helplessly declared that the cooker is not opening. We all initially tried making fun of him saying empty stomach has made him crazy. But soon realized that he was right. We tried all simple tricks known to each of us but in vain. Then we tried different techniques which came in our scientific minds, but again with no result. Finally Vijay and Sreekanth seriously tried opening the lid the way you can see in this video.

I could record only one minute of their sincere efforts which in the end turn positive. Finally the lid opened and we had a glance at khichadi. That was I guess one of the moment memorable moment. Check for yourself.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dawn Brancheau

Dawn Brancheau
Do you know this name? NO!!
Well till few minutes back, even I wasn't aware.
These two news piece introduced it to me, but I guess its very late. You may follow the links to know why.




Yes the story is very sad. But I want to point out one thing here. No matter what you do, you can never understand animal nature. You may be Dawn Brancheau or Steve Irwin, you can't get them. Do not try to mold them as per you wish and need. They are animals and that is how they live. Stay away, let them live and live yourself.

So, just stop interfering their lives under the name of animal love, study, science, care, protection and yes money and business. They don't need our any kind of help.
Let them live their life and let nature decide their fate. Doesn't matter if tigers vanish after few years but let nature decide it. Doesn't matter if Dolphins become a rare species. You don't kill it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


A quick post!!

I see the signs of hurricane coming our way!!

Its name is buzz!!

Think you heard about it. must be.
Now, you see a word buzz just below inbox in gmail.
That is some new addition to gmail.
I am not sure how useful it is.
Was trying to explore it with Dr. P.
Well, haven't come across any benefits yet except that it has given me a new way to advertise me.
I have started with my blog link.

Let me think of some more ways to make use of it, till then guys

Keep buzzing!!!

Update: Buzz would add lots and lots of emails to your inbox. I mean it updates Buzz, but it also sends you an email!!
If 20 people buzz you that adds 20 new mails to your inbox!!And most of them wouldn't be serious work. I might not like it. But I am also wondering if I will receive one mail sent for each comment for each buzz or only one mail for say one buzz irrespective of how many people commented for that one buzz!!!
Confusing you!!
Quite possible since even I am myself confused.
So, lets buzz and get confused!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Paris Travelling

For a person, who comes from a city like Pune, any kind of public transportation is good, if not fantastic or superb. Pune, is a place where you do not see a bus if you wait less than one hour at bus stop, a place where you spend more on autorickshaw than on any intercity travel like Pune-Bombay, a place where shared rickshaw means trying to share a 4 person vehicle among minimum 10 if you are lucky, a place where you might faint if ought to spend half an hour on railway platform. Pune is a place where people prefer personal vehicle to travel from corner to corner of city and avoid public vehicles for above said reasons. It has the maximum number of vehicles 25 lakhs (including 2 and wheelers), not just in India but in whole of Asia, or may be in the world.
So, for a person, who come out after receiving such a rigorous training and has attained such expertise in travelling in adverse condition and carry lot of patience to wait to transportation, anything even slightly better is great. I have actually left using these public transports so many years back that if a situation arise where I am compelled to use it, I prefer to walk or start thinking of a friend’s home nearby whose vehicle I can borrow. If such a public transport phobic person arrives at a place like Paris which is known to have not good but very good public transportation, imagine his situation.
When I came to Paris, in not time I was introduced to public transportation. The Paris airport Charles de Gaulle is quite far from the Paris city. There are two ways to reach your destination from airport. First, if somebody comes to pick you up. This normally doesn’t happen. The people here are very smart. They very well know that airport is very far away and it makes one spend lot of Euros from their pocket. So they sophisticatedly plan to move out of city for just that one day and make you get introduced to public transport. Well, I don’t blame them because even I realised that it is a bit heavy burden on pocket as well as time. Just to share with you, I learnt this lesson quickly and in fact implemented on it when one of my friend Mr. V was arriving in Paris a month later. So, just a tip, don’t get surprised, if your host from Paris has to coincidentally move out of city the same day you arrive.
Anyway, coming back to the topic, I had to take train to reach the place where I stay. Although my host had given me all the instructions, still you get apprehensive when in a new land with no knowledge of language. But I must say, it went down rather smoothly with me taking right train to reach the destination without asking a single person a single question.

The trains which commute in the city and the outskirts are known as RER (Réseau Express Régional, meaning Regional Express Network).

Now, from my experience, do not try to ask about RER with your English pronunciation. R here is pronounced in way different manner and it might take as good as 5 minutes for a Frenchman to realise that you are asking about RER station. You might end up leaving 2 trains in the mean time. So, either learn French or search yourself. I use both the methods as per my calibre.

I found RER a rather convenient option because of its frequency and its coverage area. It offers you a good option to reach from one corner to another of Paris in least possible time. Most of time, it’s not crowded, and so you get good seat and chance to get quick nap. This makes you freshen up by the time you reach destination.

Moreover RER stations are very well connected to other transportation facilities that make commutation even better. Having praised RER so much, I must point out one negative aspect of it. To my surprise, I was introduced to strikes in different unions in RER within the first week of arrival. Yes, RER strikes are quite common and people here are very much used to it. But, Unlike Indian strikers, these people do care about passengers at the same time and in spite of strike you see RER running on rail. In such situations the frequency decreases, crowd increases and then it sometimes remind me the very old days I spent in Pune bus.

But thanks to these strikes, I was introduced to another powerful transportation medium that is bus. Bus transportation is equally good and help many people commute daily. The buses are well maintained with air conditioning facilities. The bus stops are normally small in size. One of the walls would have the daily timing for all the buses stopping there, the maps that these buses follow and a digital clock showing real time and the timing of next expected bus. I was surprised when I saw a bus arriving at the bus stop at sharp time. Till then, I had a feeling that following timing might be a case for trains, but for bus, impossible. I saw it happening here.

Other than this, Paris also has a web of metro trains which run with in the city. There is a very complex web including RERs and metro. One might get totally lost realizing its vastness, but thanks to the information available at every corner that even a newbie with no French language base can roam around easily.

I am not yet done because still one more mode of transport is left to talk about. They are the Trams. One must take Tram at least once in Paris. I found Trams as the most sophisticated mode of transport among all four talked about above. I do not want to compare this Tram with the one running in Kolkota. I can think of only similarity in two and that is the name “ Tram”.
Having said that all these transportation modes are very well interconnected, one questions arises, “how are the modes to use these modes are maintained?”. Even that is very smooth. You can either buy one ticket that you can use on all these modes, or on selected ones. Or you can buy a monthly Novigo pass to move around anywhere, anyway, any number of times. Just want to share, the protocol I was thinking about to exist Pune buses to reduce arguments between conductor and passengers on money matters, I actually see it here existing. So, I wasn’t thinking impossible.

With all these transportation facilities, I doubt anybody would think or need private taxis for their service. But just for information, they do exist here, but hardly seen running on the streets.

It’s getting too long, but I cannot end the post without the mention of TGV, Eurostar and the internal cycle system in Paris. To mention in one liner, TGV is intercity mode of transport that has engine running fastest in the world.

You can take Eurostar to travel to Belgium or to England via undersea Eurotunnel.

You can take bicycle parked on the streets with the help of Novigo pass and ride around for very cheap.
I am not writing much about them since I haven’t used them yet.
Now I am left in awe when I see people here sometimes complaining about the bad status of transportation and compare it with one in Germany. This on one side makes me anxious to visit Germany to experience one the best transportations in world but it also makes me nervous when I realise that I finally have to travel on the old roots of my hometown.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

3 Idiots

I finally saw 3 Idiots. After reading so many reviews about the movie by some renowned reviewers and listening comments of close by friends, the movie had become an important issue and I was dying to watch this movie. So, the one chance I got to see the movie, I grabbed it.
So much has already been written the movie that it virtually leaves nothing to write. But among these, only one review was “jara hatke”. (http://shobhaade.blogspot.com/2010/01/so-who-is-idiot-huh.html). And I totally agree with the initial lines. “Okay. I saw it. And liked it. Liked. Not loved.”
I can give many reasons for that.
One foremost reason, may be, I had too high expectations. But of course one must keep high expectations with a movie that earns 300 crores in just 10 days!
Now I will point out what I didn’t liked and what I did.

The name itself is not correct. There were no 3 idiots. The movie was all about one idiot. Right from beginning to the end, there was only one, Aamir Khan.

The ragging session was bit absurd. Only one senior in charge and rarely any other senior in view! Looked like juniors were doing their own ragging sessions as if it was an assignment. Do you remember any senior fellow actually looking at the James bond act of Chatur. I guess nobody. I found it less of ragging session but more of mental asylum scene.

Making juniors remove all their cloth is I guess the favorite ragging method known to the Bollywood director. We saw the same in Munnabhai MBBS. And I know the director of 2 movies is the same person.

Giving shocking treatment to senior to avoid ragging was interesting to watch. But showing the use of same trick in the end was totally unnecessary and I guess it was boasting idea on kids and young guys.

Zip, unzip to define machine might be acceptable in case of a student, but if a faculty repeating the same act in front of whole class is not. I feel the faculty still is a respectable person in India and doesn't do such acts in class. At least I haven't seen it.

I am still looking for a college, institute where any student directly approaches the Dean, Director, Principal just to ask the date of convocation so that his father could book the tickets in time. He should have contacted the office. Poor guy would have lived few more days and completed his project.

Suicide definitely has become a center point of the movie. Talk about 3 suicides (if I haven't missed any else). I guess only Sharman Joshi's mental situation was understandable to take decision of attempting suicide. Rest two, I guess were unnecessary.

Instead of himself trying and giving surprise to “Joy” with his completed project, Rancho should have been shown helping the guy doing his project in some or the other way. If the guy had so much self respect that he committed suicide just because Virus said he won’t graduate and showed no interest in his project, then I guess he would have discouraged more knowing that a junior without much prior knowledge about project could easily finish his project which he failed. I guess he would then have committed suicide in a worse manner then what he did.

I wonder when these people will stop showing Professor, Principal as an eccentric guy.

I am yet to see a Principal who gives introductory lecture in hostel.

I wonder how Virus must be making use of time he spends in loo, when he tries to use the short span of seven and half minutes of nap for doing unnecessary work. Also, I am yet to come across a professor who shaves in his office. Aren't all these eccentric things shown unnecessarily?

The scene between Madhavan and Parikshit Sahani was a repeat of scene from Lage Raho Munnabhai between Jimmy Shergil and again Parikshit Sahani.

The runaway bride was again a copy of Dil Hai ki Manta Nahi. It did fit well there but definitely not here.

I was thinking what they tried to tell by making guys remove their pants every now and then, anywhere. I just hope I don't witness any such act in real life.

I didn't expected the effect of “All is Well” shown in Delivery scene in Aamir Khan's movie. That was the worst of all above points and brought the movie down to normal level from the perfectionist Aamir Khan's standard.

Ranchoddas Chanchad( Is it a right name), is a Gujrati (as Karina Kapoor mentioned) who has pushtaini jamin and haweli in Simla!!!

Is it possible to just drag computer and take it near the pingpong table without any wiring issue. Was it all wireless? I spend nearly an hour arranging the wiring if I wish to shift my computer from one corner to another in the same room.

I guess I can continue with some more points. But instead now I will put some (actually very few as compared to above list) points that make movie worth watching.

The movie has a better story as now a day’s seen in many movies.

The movie is well made and keeps you watching.

It doesn’t lose the grip.

No issues about acting skills. Although movie is all about Aamir Khan, still Sharman Joshi, Madhavan, Karina Kapoor and others have done well in their less important roles.

Most appealing part of the movie was the shooting in Ladakh. That was the welcome treat for the eyes and I tried to store every scene in my mind. Ladakh is beautiful.

Rancho teaching how to teach. A very good point made in a very short time.

I cannot think of any other point in support of the movie at the moment. It definitely is not a movie that should break all the records and earn so heavily as it is doing but it definitely is worth watching once. Moreover the message is very loud and clear if understood well:

Follow your Heart and pursue your dreams

Monday, January 18, 2010


I am staying in a flat that belongs to an old 76 years old lady Ann Marie. You had a glimpse of her in one of my earlier posts (http://drkaustubhjoshi.blogspot.com/2010/01/cocktail-party.html). Its some time now that I know the lady. Someone had arranged for my accommodation before I arrived in Paris, so I didn’t know till I met her. I was standing outside my present apartment with my friend waiting for a lady who comes originally from Vietnam, can’t speak English really and is 76 years old. I was not sure how she will come, in a bus, taxi or somebody would drive her to the house. To my surprise a lady came driving a BMW a very old one in a style, parked it close to us , came out and asked in a French, Vietnami mixed English if we are the one who arrived from India. My friend, who is here in paris for last 4 years is aware of general etiquettes needed to be followed while initiating conversation with French people, took initiative and tried making conversation with the lady. The lady considered him as the one who has rented the apartment and took him by hand and started dragging towards the entrance. I was just a viewer seeing my friend in a bit funny situation and taking first lessons analyzing the lady and thinking about what all I would be experiencing in coming days. Very soon she realized it is me who has taken the apartment and my friend was released from her grip being replaced by me.
That was the beginning. I had to meet her many times in coming days for some or the other reason. I started knowing her more and more in spite of the fact that our conversations always lost the desired directions thanks to the mixture of three languages.
I found out that she has many such places which she gives on rent. It was her major source of income. In her house she had given three rooms to 3 Indian guys who work for Infosys nearby. That brought to my notice that in such a big house she is the only one from her family. Her mother died when she was 30 years old. She also lost her father very soon. I could not understand much of the details, but her arrival in Paris had some links with the Vietnam War. Her husband who was a professor of mathematics died many years back. She used to work as an assistant under one of the doctors in a hospital.These are bits of pieces of her history
I found her a very kind and generous lady. As normally is the case, she is a family oriented lady who likes to have lots of family members around her. She has two sons. Younger one is studying in a university and stays elsewhere. The elder one....., married a French girl and stays very close but still very far away from her. Once, while telling her family story, she said, “I don’t know why French girls want their husband to be just theirs. They don’t want to share them”. She tried hard but couldn’t avoid her eyes getting wet. May be that’s why she tries to find a family in people staying with her as tenants. I do not stay in her house, but those who stay in her house experience grandmother’s love. Even I experience the affection. She do interact professionally! but with a tint of love and affection. I personally feel she tries to give much more than what the tenant deserves. In return I guess she expects some moments shared. I try to do that and listen to whatever she is telling, even if it does not interest me at times. I share a cup of tea with her which has no sugar, at times close to no tea, no milk but just boiling water. At times I manage to drink 2 to 3 cup of such a tea just because she feels I liked and keep pouring it as soon as my cup is empty.
I realised she makes a bond with every person who comes in contact with her. I saw that 2 Indians who stayed hardly for few days at her home, while leaving, presented her a nice gift.
I see that she has grown old. She spills half of the orange juice on floor, a bit on me while pouring it in glass to offer me. I see that she can’t write the rent receipts ending up telling me what I should be fill in which section of the printed receipts, just signing in the end. I see her taking efforts in getting up from floor, because she has broken her bones many a times, in absence of anybody around, trying to tell her pains in funny manner as possible.
I had no plans to write this post. But after her yesterdays visit I made my mind. She revealed another chapter of old life when she was kid or young. She comes from family having six kids. I guess she is the eldest one. The poor condition made the family divide into 3 parts with 4 out of 6 in a group of 2 each had to take shelter at their relatives place. She being elder one had to behave as responsible one. She used to Jovial and showing enjoying all the fun and being happy while people are around. But use to weep once in the bed. Just imagine a 76 years old lady telling you the entire story with all the actions to convey her real feelings. I could read it because I saw her eyes getting wet and she tried to hide it making funny faces. The struggle was not over even in later years when she had to work in 3 shifts at different places allowing her to sleep for hardly 1 hr a day and that too in a bathroom. I can’t imagine how difficult her life must have been and which way will it be going in coming years. With growing age definitely her life is not going to be better, but a bit bitter.
This is our Ann-Marie.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A cool music piece: Conquest of Paradise

I heard this group while moving around in La Defence. There was a fair orgainized in there and in one of the corner shop these 2 or I guess 3 people were playing beautiful music piece. Well and that was most crowded area in the fair. I managed to record a small piece of it. Really can't remember which one is it, but I liked it and so posting it here. Updates: I searched around and this music piece is known "Conquest of Paradise". 1492: Conquest of Paradise is a 1992 music score by Greek electronic composer and artist Vangelis. The film, a recount of the voyage to America in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, was directed by Ridley Scott.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The cocktail party!

I attended a cocktail party recently.
I don't drink but since it was arranged by Science Accueil, an organization that helps Scientists visiting France find accommodation, I was suggested to attend it to get acquainted with fellow foreign scientists.
Since my house owner who is connected to organization for many years, was also invited, we planned to go together.My house owner is an old lady of ~78 years old and of Vietnam origin settled in Paris for last many years. She picked me up from the station. We had decided to meet at 5.30 pm at the Station gates.
But I guess even French standard time runs like Indian standard time i.e. everything runs late than expected time. So, as I had expected as usual I reached 20 mins before time and she reached 30 mins late.So for a total of 50 mins I was standing outside the station in cold chilly shivering wind.

Since the party was kind of introduction for foreigners in France, who don't speak one language it started with putting tags to every person with the details of their name and the language they speak.
So, I had a tag:

Kaustubh Joshi
I speak English!

It then started with a talk which went on for some 20-25 mins. They were telling about all the activities organized by them for the foreginers. The talk was initially in French later translated to English by another person.
We were standing in  a big hall with no chairs to sit, apparently considering the later arrangement for the party. So, it was all standing and listening to what two people on dias were speaking for over an hour.

Finally, all the talks were over, and it was the time to begin the cocktail party.
Champagnes and Wine bottles were opened, corks were flying everywhere in air and everybody started rushing to pick their glass.
I had no reason to rush so was standing behind but my house owner, a 78 years old lady jumped into the crowd.
and she brought 2 glasses in her hand offering me one!
I told her I don`t drink!
but it was so crowded and so noisy she was not able to understand. It was all getting chaotic with she putting it deliberately in my hands and me trying not to touch it.
To add to that everybody around started looking at whats happening between us.
That made me feel odd and just to avoid any situation coming up I accepted the glass.
I have heard so much about this red wine that it would have been a crime if I would not have tasted red wine even after visiting Paris. In fact I had to hear words like, "You haven`t tasted red wine, oh, you have all this time living in heaven and not having fun".
So, I thought, "let`s give it a try".
The first sip itself said all.
Forgive me all wine lovers, but I feel it is one of the rubbish tastes I ever had in my life. And you can not justify saying it might not be a good one, because this cocktail party of Science Accueil is quite famous in the area.
I just wanted to spit it out. but couldn`t.
The owner was I guess on high by now and was hitting her glass with full enthusiasm on mine saying "cheers"!!!!!!
         Fortunately these people do not fill glass full as I have seen back in India.
I tried measuring the content with eyes. It was not more than say 10 ml, that is roughly the amount of diluted Benadryl, the cough syrup we take. So, it was just one more sip I had to en gulp.
I hold my breathe and dumped the remaining in mouth and kept the glass on the table with a bang (i felt like imitating the love shattered bollywood hero who bangs the glass on table finishing all the alcohol in one go).
But yes i have had one glass of wine and definitely this act can never happen again. I wonder how people like to drink it one after the other glass !!!
I tried to change the taste with coke, orange juice etc etc, but the bad taste overpowered all others.
On the other side the owner had geared up totally. She was in full flow. The lady serving wine was her friend and so was easily accessible to get her glass refilled.
Very soon she had finished 3-4 glasses. She then asked me "Do you want to drink anymore?"
Well "NO" was the prompt and the quickest answer I would have given in recent times.
Once done with I guess some 7-8 glasses she decided to go back home.
The future was looking gloomy to me.
It was dark and raining heavily outside.
To add to that the Paris roads are very narrow, hardly wide enough for two cars to cross and they mostly run with 2 way traffic.
The owner, now the driver had just finished drinking 7-8 glass of wine and she is a 78 years old lady.
Her glass (spectacles, in case u misunderstand) were not good on this particular day as she informed while leaving the party venue, and she probably will have some vision problem while driving back home.
When we reached for the car,all the window and front glasses were covered with a heavy layer of due, so nothing was clear.
For a moment the driver of bus in movie Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban lingered in my imagination.
The effect of alcohol was soon clear when she tried taking car out of parking, it hit something which i could not see at all, and i guess she was not even aware of!
With the help of people around guiding her with obstacles on way, she finally managed to get the car on track.
I was in no better situation than a scared rabbit worrying about the cloud about to fall on its head.
The task was difficult because it was a long run of ~10 kms passing through a big stretch of highway.
To add to it, she told me, she is not sure about the way back to home.I realized it when on highway, she tried to suddenly turn right making guy behind apply emergency brakes and then again realizing it not being the right turn returning to the highway almost in the same speed, making the guy behind again apply emergency brakes. That was the first I heard somebody blowing horn in Paris.
I realized I can not see anything in front of me because of the layer of due on glass and the vapors condensed inside.
I took a cloth and tried to clean it. Only then did I came to know that this is big road with all the vehicles running at speed of 100+ kmph speed.
To my astonishment, the owner asked me to clean the glass infront of her also because she was also not able to see anything!!!

I started praying for no more shocking news coming my way.
With God`s grace nothing happened further and we safely reached home.
That was the fortunate end of the journey teaching many lessons on the way.