Monday, August 21, 2017

Life and impracticality

This article engendered this post.
"Should school be impractical? - the practical benefits of being impractical"

The article is an overlap of wisdom from multiple sources (of my knowledge) and domains.
Humans suck at predicting the functionality of information. We get stuck in mental models that either assume the status quo or fail to grasp the continuity of the present tense. In other words, we assume the future will be way different than it actually becomes or we fail to recognize just how different it will be. We live within the confines of the adjacent possible and we can’t predict what innovation will look like in upcoming decades as the adjacent possible expands.

Of course, school learning is what's being talked about, but isn't that how we learn in life, too? Isn't this what the concept of George Monbiot's "Rewilding" is all about?

#1: Embrace confusion and complexity
#2: Go outside.. even if it feels impractical
#3: Tinker more
#4: Scracth your itch

Of course, it could only be a self-serving bias under the influence of which I'm totally endorsing this article. Being confounded, doing impractical things, then finding their application much later, is how I've experienced life. Proceed with caution.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

a trail two days ago

returned back having absorbed all dew of the morning and being absorbed in the experience that i could recollect in vivid detail even a coupla days after. 

a new route was found on an adjacent hill face, that could make for a perfect trail loop for subsequent mornings. i'm waiting for my knee to heal further, and also acquire a pair of new trail runners, to start a new chapter - hope to beat wisdom. 

the D was a great company on the trail - my free as in freedom canine friend who is made for great journeys. he has upped my awareness quotient when out there. today we climbed through thick undergrowth, forest, then grass, some scree, and the rare vertical face, but he lead much through and was where I wanted to be before I. 

i only wonder how great it must feel for dogs who have better sensory faculties (hence, inputs) when it comes to smell, hearing, taste (we don't taste our environment at all). visual acuity, maybe we do better in, but the rest should produce a very different sensory palette.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

When I look at you

When I look at you
I'm only looking towards you
I'm really looking around you
I'm really imagining you as a blank space in my view
I'm really thinking of how wonderful it is to live without you standing right here
I'm really becoming fond of the man that is me but is all alone in another universe
I'm sometimes trying to find him but I think he's right behind you
I know it's you here who's not letting me see

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Few compare to SS

Here's a force to comprehend: Sadhana Sargam, a popular Indian singer.
Her name reflects her career - a Sadhana (discipline or dedicated practice) towards Sargam (or the foundation notes of Indian music).

She has been all about music. In a career spanning a little over 30 years, she has established herself as an industry in the Indian music industry, singing thousands of songs in several Indian languages.
Sargam has sung 1938 Hindi songs in 1546 films and 1111 Tamil songs in 536 films. She has sung 2500 Bengali songs from 1994-2015. She has sung 3467 songs in Marathi. She has sung 15,000 songs in 34 Indian languages. 
She has won all topmost awards in India.
Nothing hit me harder than this fact
Sargam performed at music festival Sawai Gandharva at the age of 4. She sang popular song "Sooraj Ek Chanda Ek Taare Anek" for Doordarshan at the age 6. The song was composed by veteran Vasant Desai.
which made me realize that she's been one of the most memorable voices in my head all this while.


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Indian journalism cred at a low

Got reading an article on Indian news channels, on why they are disappointing (to the author, and a thought which I agree with, of late): Why are Indian News Channels so Disappointing?

It summarises the situation as
India has killed television by legislating the subscription model to death. This is leading to a serious lack of ambition and a curbing of creative juices, since recovering investments is impossible
The author of the article, Mr. Ashok Malik, has rightly (so I feel) claimed that our news channels have forgot to be the role of distributor of latest affairs, and more like a platform for shallow idealism and uncritical entertainment. Shallow idealism and uncritical entertainment is, coincidentally, the most common reason why Indians sit in front of the tele, and our news channels are trying to capitalize on capturing that audience, which means they not only miss out on sincere reporting, but stand in opposition at the (deeper) ethical front as well.

Here's another illuminating article: Five Ethical Problems that Plague Indian Journalism
- Paid News
- Opaque private treaties
- Blatant blackmail
- Widening legal regulatory gap
- Flawed measurements of audience reach and readership

News, or live reporting of the world, should be straight forward. The active world out there, which they report about, is a dynamic system that is difficult to fit into simple narratives. It is worse when the 'simple' narratives become 'sensationalist' and 'political'.
Even historical analysts - armed with all data and not only the events but their outcomes - fail to be precise in why and how something happened in the past, or at making future projections. Even governments fail to understand the implications of events. And yet, these people have a panel of experts who derive and present overreaching narratives, to gain ratings through crass debates that are lie-and-lampoon contests. "Infotainment" is a hot thing.

Things like News channels and educational institutions being the new business opportunity is a sad fact of our cultural and economic landscape. Everything that prospers needs to have a "market potential" to begin with, that is, something which can be run as a business. As with all businesses, money plays the biggest influencer in decision-making. Nobody gives a damn about how it hurts the system or the nation. To make it worse, this is not just an Indian trend. You have a planet where people are fooled into believing that news is their window to the world, when in fact it is a window only into the selfish plans of other people who want to spread toxic and self-gratifying worldviews and narratives.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Thus demystified Zarathustra

A recurrent feeling of agitation has been in place for about a month and a half. Its origin lies in Gulmarg, Kashmir, over a ski visit, in the month of March. The fact of agitation, however, isn't related to Kashmir, or Skiing.
It has to do with comparative religion. It was a fact mentioned by a Bengali friend, which sounded like haughtiness on his part, which translated to seeking and interpretation on my part (once i got back to a more connected world). He had just narrated the story of the genesis as per his religion (of Islam). As a strawman tactics, perhaps, he also segued into the history of another religion, framing it such that its founding seemed to have a weak and un-divine/mortal connect.
So his history of this another religion starts with the explanation of the massive oil deposits found in Central Asia, and how one of such sites came to be venerated, all because of a fire that had started there. This fire started a religion, he explained. One day the reserves ran out, and the followers didn't know what to do. Then they migrated out and spread across the world.
This was contrasted against his religion, of course, to assert substantiality, in his narrative that had preceded.

Thanks to his haughtiness, I got to spend a day learning about Zoroastrianism, and connecting several dots in general. He might've felt tall at his claim, but his claim is what's loose in the first place. Some interesting dots:

* The kingdoms of Pre-Vedic and Vedic times
* The religions preceding today's mass religions
* The concept of Soma/Haoma present in Vedic religions
* The migration history of Zoroastrians (or Parsis, as they have come to be called in India, which is home a majority of their population since the past coupla millenia)
* Atash Bahrams or the fire temples of the Parsis
* The Kafiristan region of Afghanistan/Pakistan - and its forceful conversions
* The Kalash people of Pakistan, followers of ancient Hinduism
* The Z of Niezsche's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" ("Thus Spoke Zarathustra")
* God, Apes and Fossil Men (a book for the wishlist), on the Paleontological history of S. Asia
* The presence of Sanskrit words in Zoroastrian texts, and Proto-Indo-European languages in general
* Neopythagoreanism
* The Arched-hill/Triratna/Nandipada
* Ashoka, the great - how he murdered 99 of his brothers to ascend to the throne and built an epic torture chamber

Personally, misinterpreting natural phenomenon as a sign of the divine is nothing new, and a symbol like fire is a pretty cool endorsement.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

I is for I

My name is I. I is the queen. I rules the hearts of everyone.
I doesn't have a boyfriend and doesn't need one. I doesn't make friends and don't need any - they are not worth. Only I is worth myself.
I is the center of all attention all the time. People stare at I, in admiration and expectation, everywhere I go.
I is not afraid to speak my mind - doesn't shy away from judging everything that I experience. I comments on everything. I says what's right, and what I say is always right.
I works well on wine. I works well in fast cars. I works well with chivalry.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Here Comes Another One

Happy World Asthma Day. We are all choking on the world. The only new highs our cities claim is pollution levels. Asthma Day reminds us of air pollution. There is nothing, however, to remind us of the noise pollution - no World Tinnitus Day or World Readjusted Hearing Day (our hearing is highly adaptive, unlike our breathing). It gets much worse than we take cognizance of or acknowledge. We have turned our planet into something ugly.

Last night I dreamt of finding myself a job. Being a computer guy, it was natural that I ended up joining a dance troupe. Seems like the TVCs got to/in me; or the ex- effect. Who else but AR Rahman, the composer extraordinaire, to approach for auditions. It only took a few seconds of crappy dance moves - bunny hopping, but with flair - to clinch me the job. I was paid a coupla thousand bucks on my first day, which seems satisfactory, only if it were for real.

The morning started with some understanding on Hyperlapse. It is a cool thing, now that I come to understand it better. A moving camera capturing a shaky image is best when converted to Hyperlapses. I got so many jungle walkthroughs to apply the treatment to. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

To the wise ones

All the wise ones
Who could see through the ruse
Who resisted the advance
On the high greens of a muse
Who didn't need a meaning
But decorum that lets them thrive
Who didn't need a drug
But a will to survive
Who found their calling
In the lines of the palm
Who escaped the grip
Of a fish called calm

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Mad Boy's Love

If you think i'm not thinking about you
Then think again
Of a night under the full moon
Of a warn embrace
Of a dominating silence
Of a tender caress
Your mad boy's mad love
That you never imagined could feel so amazing
ca. 2013
under the duress of love

What it Feels in Love

You are my convergence function
My differential is deferential to you
You reduce me to infinity
You are my Fourier transform inverse
My n-tuple wants to forever be next to your n-tuple
You are my integration operator

ca. 2013/14
must've been in love, madly so, which is expressed here

Can't Wait for Tomorrow

Ends come slow
Methods that lend a blow
Pieces I find on the floor
Of what was a dense mass
in the head
Plans that blur the line
Projecting an image divine
The fruit of carefree dreaming
The deep inquiries into meaning
Tonight I write an elegy
Instead of writing idylls
And the mind will have a free reign, again,
With the breaking dawn

ca. 2013/14
was probably stoned during this scribble

Outta tune

I'll be a little bit
Shifty awkward wet toxic
I'll play a bit
outta tune

Undated, ca 2014

Another draw - my first nude

Continuing on the trail of sketching, here's another I copied through the day. A nude!
I believe his roots could be some gay comics, but was in my recent instagram feed, which I remembered for inspiration. He was posed well, with a lot of subtle variations in light that had me understanding the pencils better. I couldn't get the face right and urge he ended up looking more like me (just the face, not the physique).
Inspired by such a defined body, I did log lifts in the breaks taken during doing the sketch.
Long road ahead, don't you think?

Love begets a love begets a love

Last night, I started with what had been on my mind since a long while - to utilize my sketch pad, that lad been lying discarded since transfer to a new owner i.e. me, back in November of the prev year. I had only done some squiggles and doodles on a sheet for practise, in all this while.

What better to choose than a Tinder muse, who reminded me of divinity through a mere few photos and a succinct bio. Since we had a match, which means she reciprocated the way I expected/prayed, it makes her even more apt choice for a subject. Strong feelings already in place, I guess, which could be an outlier, since I identify myself in Jim Carey's character in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, who muses in frustration "why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?".

The sketch turned out okay. It's my best ever, and at least better than Napoleon Dynamite's conception of Trisha - I didn't even sit for 3 hours to finish shading on the upper lip. Early hours of a long sleepless night of a long sleepless day well spent.

Stumbled into an old creative moment, ca 2005

Monday, February 06, 2017

Field Recording Itch

Of late, I've directed thoughts often towards birds. That continuity led to today's thoughts - much exclusively towards assembling a field recording kit, so that the birdsongs aren't a mere fleeting memory. And yet again, I have concluded that choosing a reliable/stable/effective kit is a bit complicated. Earlier, I have browsed over hours, to come to similar conclusions.
Each time I get a bit wiser, but many questions still remain open-ended - Do I go for a shotgun or a parabolic mic? Would DIY-ism get me better field recordings? Is a separate recorder necessary? Is a deadcat must? Where in Delhi do audiophiles go (having been to Daryaganj, I've been disappointed)? Where can the field recordists/soundscapers be found in my part of the world? Would starting with soundscapes (hence a XY setup) be better as it is the ulterior intent?

Another annoying part is seeing the immediately-available-in-vicinity prices being much higher than what the same things sell for on Amazon (US). To be limited to a few options, which are priced so as to leave no scope to experimentation, is conflicting. What is the beef the audio manufacturers have with our government, to deserve such jacked up prices? This takes me back to last decade when anything electronic would blindly be a much better deal if a friend/relative was returning from the US or Emirates.

As of the moment of logging this, some bird's very unique calls intrude the airspace. Only if I'd have something to hook into it... gah!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Oil spills, wetlands, and Flamingos

It happened a few days back (Jan 28), but only today does the news of a massive oil spill on the Indian coasts trickle down to my eyes through conventional news channels. A cleanup effort ensued, which has taken care of the most of it. It is good to see volunteers in action - would've liked be one meself.
So it happened off the Kamarajhar Port (Ennore coast), off the coast of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu the southernmost Indian state (title shared with Kerala state).
A massive clean-up operation was launched in Tiruvallur, Chennai and Kancheepuram Districts by engaging more than 2000 persons at various sites including Ernavur, Chennai Fishing Harbour, Marine Beach, Besant Nagar, Kottivakkam, Palavakkam, Neelankarai and Injambakkam beaches.  
Merchant shipping fail, this. The spillage exceeds 200 tonnes, and has been under-reported to be around 20 tonnes.The general mode of our business is evasive/thrifty/lying. Being honest is the least they could do in this case. A proportional (legally instituted) fine is the most nominal punishment, for we do not realize to what extent of damage such events have on the nature. There is no way or no amount of money that can thwart the ecological cascade that might ensue.

Just a day back, we celebrated the World Wetlands Day 2017 , which wasn't really celebrated anywhere but had a few articles written about it. No representation among the masses for valuable, massive ecological zones providing our communities with sustenance - by the way of fresh water, food, flood control - for generations  - called Ramsar sites - under threat because of (who but) us.

For those who don’t know what a wetland is, it is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem.
They are also very important for animals and plants to survive. Actually, they are one of the most vital and productive ecosystems on the planet. Unfortunately, this valuable asset of the planet are slowly getting lost at an alarming rate in many regions of the Earth. According to a report, at least 64 per cent of wetlands have diminished since 1990.
In the month of November, I found myself very lucky to be in Begusarai for some survey work. Lucky, because Begusarai district was home to the Kanwar Bird Lake Sanctuary, housing Asia's largest oxbow lake - 3 times that of Bharatpur, where I had already been to and returned impressed at its immensity. Super eager, I asked around for directions, to come to know that it was only a small lake, and nothing much was to be enjoyed there. Being a skeptic about other's perceptions (esp when it comes to natural wealth), I looked it up online, to find that the place really was now an unimpressive waterhole, far from what it once was.

As a 2008 study by Pollution Research states
In the present study the pollution of a major North Bihar lake, the Kawar Wetland was studied with special reference to their effects on flora, fauna and local human population. The water of the lake is turbid, acidic and is having higher conductivity. The dissolved oxygen level was estimated as 7.6 mg/L, free CO2 6.3 mg/L, bicarbonate 80 mg/L, hardness 90 mg/L, chloride 17.0 mg/L.
A coupla years back, in the February of 2015, I had suffered a similar setback on a morning, when after adventurously breaking a journey (a roadtrip in a Tata Sumo with a friend) next to a huge lake, imagining creatures and phenomenon unseen, we woke up to find that the massive lake was now an empty trough, all its water drained for construction projects (esp a massive college complex in vicinity) - I best enjoyed that morning exploring a graveyard next to the lake that separated it from a village, a symbolic image to take back in my state of shock and mourning. This was near Hyderabad, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Population pressures on the Indian ecosystem are colossal. Things are already depressing, and we make no efforts to change. Bangalore and Chennai are prime examples of destruction of wetlands, to the extent that they (the related wetland ecosystems) have disappeared. Corruption - by the way of bribes and complacency - is rampant everywhere. In this state of affairs, the nature is no way on the track of winning.

This is the range of flamingos across our planet. See that strip on the left - that's the Indian subcontinent. The bird is supposed to exist everywhere along our western coastline in the migratory season. Yet, now it is only left with a few spots to camp at, namely in the state of Gujarat (like the RoK). This morning, I was surprised to find Mumbai on the map as well through a cousin, learning the existence of Sewri Flamingo Point, which I would've been to had I known during my stay there. Now I wait for an opportunity.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Musical ear rekindled

Two artists have lately seen a resurgence in my playlists - Keane and Bjork. I had liked them earlier, during my college days. Revisiting them led in liking turning into love. Chiefly, it were the lyrics that got me this time. That which one hadn't noticed before rises up to the perceptional surface on a future revisit, and that is the hallmark of good songs. Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know", and Bjork's "Bachelorette", were the respective tracks which pulled me back to listening to these artists.

On the Keane trail, I learnt that the band had since split, and their lead singer Tom Chaplin had undergone serious phase of depression, but also come back in the scene with a new Album, whose tracks "Quicksand" and "Hardened Heart" brought some terrific new music and lyrics to my ears - especially Quicksand, which I've played on repeat on a couple of outings since. "Somewhere Only We Know" has some of the most sensory lyrics I muchly empathize with.

On the Bjork trail, "All is full of love" was found to be even more emotive than the first time - when I'd mainly fallen for it because of Michel Gondry's music video. The lyrics are very potent, which I only now came to focus on and find (and agree with) - her life experiences put in words make me totally empathize, and I have started internalising Bjork but at the same time dreading falling for a girl like her who will be so complex and all-consuming. "Hyperballad" is another track with lyrics so chilling that they'll stick in the head, and be revisited. She talks of keeping her sanity by throwing objects off cliffs and watching them tumble down to oblivion and wondering about her own fall - a dangerous frame of mind, also so attractive.

Looking for Michel Gondry's newer work (which there's none, sadly), I stumbled into an all-girl band (the connect being one of his ex-gfs who is a bandmember), Warpaint, that makes good music. A nice name, that, too. It reminded of the time I found the Bombay Bicycle Club, another small band, which also got airplay on Indian TV much later.