Tuesday, December 31, 2013


शायर का शायरी से जो रिश्ता
परवाने का परवानगी से जो वादा
नज़र का नज़ारों से जो वास्ता
कायर का कायरी से जो इरादा
नहीं छोड़ा

Pitstop week is still going much like that. Today was busy of sorts, as was yesterday, but of the simple kind. Simple things have come to define the end of 2013. Simple things, and intimidation.
Hopefully 2014 would leave me lesser occupied, with the kind of time I find time to myself. I could compensate it being lesser creative as 2013. Oh, well.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Coin napkins are cool

One word: compressed napkins
Though that makes for two words of wisdom, the second is also a free giveaway.
Compressed napkins, or coin napkins, or magic napkins, as they're known, are a recent invention. They are made from Nanocellulose, which was researched in the 1970s, with the patents filed in 1980s, and subsequently frees license issued to whoever that asked. Since, Nanocellulose has established a presence in several domains like paper, foods, hygiene, medico, etc. One example is sanitary/incontinence pads. I imagine that even our fresh "wet" tissues use this.

Somebody had the idea to use Nanocellulose for utilitarian theatrics, creating the abovementioned product. It is increasingly becoming a part of the experience of dining in restaurants, a post-meal feature regaling everyone at the table.

My personal interest, though allied, is different in nature. Or should I say allied with nature. They would add to the experience of the outdoors. Imagine concocting water with alcohol or antiseptic or shaving lotion - each permutation highlighting new properties of the solution - and dipping these in. They become your choice of wet tissues. Then, either
- clean your face (water + shaving lotion), or
- have a dry bath (water + shaving lotion + disinfectant), or
- disinfect a path of bruised skin (water + disinfectant) without the alcohol bite of over-the-counter wet tissues, or
- trekker's tissue (water + shaving lotion + sunscreen oil)

They are disposable. Survivalists take note.

Dismal Me v World situations

The world's got my head spinning; though I'd prefer if it was an outcome of a debilitating session with Newtonian mathematics, or a rickety bus ride in the Garhwal Himalayas, or running down the spine of Affarwat in Gulmarg. It spins in confrontation, in defense of and in violence against the same people.
Everything would be dandy, only if I could refrain from showing my human side. With very little ego to claim of, mere showmanship is impossible, and intimacy creeps in. It is a paradoxical expectation to those, who treat me as if i were speaking out from a void.

If there's anything as a timely escape, this is it. In another few hours, I'll leave for higher ground i.e. the Himalayas, my sanctuary for ruminations. As bad a thought that it felt a coupla' hours back, as appropriate it seems right now. It also establishes the point that things are better done when foolish and undoubting, when the space of possibilities or tracks to explore one's logic are limited.

Farnsworth, take me..

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Ren - अपराध परिषद की रानी

आपके नेता के रूप में, मैं समय-समय पर आपको प्रोत्साहित करती हूँ,
और हमेशा सम्मानजनक तरीके से, मेरे तर्क को सवाल करने के लिए |
यदि आप किसी योजना से असंतुष्ट हैं,
जो कि, मैंने तय की है,  सबसे बुद्धिमान है
तो मुझे यह बात बतायें ।
लेकिन मुझे आप को समझाने के लिए अनुमति दें
- और मैं आपसे अभी ये वादा करती हूँ  -
कोई विषय कभी अमान्य नहीं होगा.
हाँ सिवाय उस विषय के जो कि अभी चर्चा में था
जो भुगतान आप अदा करेंगे,
मेरी या तो चीनी या अमेरीकी विरासत का नकारात्मक रूप में उल्लेख करके,
है, कि मैं आपके सर एकत्र करूँगी!
ठीक इस चूतिए की तरह
अब अगर तुम  रंडी के पिल्लों के पास कहने के लिए कुछ और है
तो अभी कमबख्त समय है!
मुझे आभास था कि नहीं...

Here's the original

Queen Of The Crime Council

by dialogue from film (Lucy Lui and Julie Dreyfus). From Kill Bill.

As your leader, I encourage you from time to time
And always in respectful manner to question my logic.
If you're unconvinced of a particular plan of action
I've decided, is the wisest, then tell me so.
But allow me to convince you 
- and I promise you right here and now -
No subject will ever be taboo. 
Except of course the subject that was just under discussion.
The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or American
Hertiage as a negative, is, I collect your fucking head!
Just like this fucker right here.
Now, if any of you, son of bitches got anything else to say
Now is the fucking time!!!
I didn't think so...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Waking up right

Stepping out into a 14C dawn in Lucknow. It is actually one of the better (note: warmer) mornings that I'm up at. Usually, I would follow this observation with some indoor activity like panic, /r/gonewild, or sleep, but today it has started out different, since I 'woke' into the morning instead of 'transitioning' into it.
If my enthusiasm doesn't convey a tone of excitement, then let me brazenly state that there is some. There is something about ending chaos that soothes, though I still love chaos, which is the default (and average) state of our universe. I play into the chaos and it becomes paradoxical, which I believe is the Divine Comedy some guy refers to. It has been so long that I have wanted to claim weighted mornings, where the intangible sense of purpose and existential satiety is served with one's breakfast.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The most sincere Mandela eulogy?

Ladies and Gentleman, presenting... 

Nelson "Morgan Freeman" Mandela

Srzly, Professor Farnsworth, take me with you! (ya I'm still living in 2011-peaking memes)

Ngram Readings Pundit

Two good things I ran into i.e. came to know of existence, today.
One of them is Google Ngram, a statistical tool to search through historical (1800 to as recent 'historical' as 2008) referencing of phrases.

A few engaging ones

Everest vs Godwin Austen vs K2 vs Kanchenjunga vs Lhotse vs Makalu


Monday, December 16, 2013

Out on dawns

Being out and about at dawn. It is theraputic.
These coupla pics are from yesterday. Today, in sharp contrast, Delhi has such dense fog that visibility was negligible when I left out; and the friseur claims it has gone worse with the morning, and observation I didn't really look into. I enjoyed the surreal scapes fog draws, and the surroundings - a lush green cover on 3 sides - make the outing worth it.
It was a relief that I didn't ride out on the bike this morning. It would've been risking life, and worst of all there would've been no one to blame. The ride itself would've been cautious, not the ideation hour as usual.

These are dogs playing in the smaller park, which is an anteroom of sorts to the bigger park inside the ramparts. In Urdu we call parks बागीचा, and in Hindi we call 'em उपवन | With the rising cold (or dipping?) the numbers have shrunk - today I could neither see anybody, and only listen to the karate club practising.  Here are the resident dogs playing.

This place reminds me of the movie Rocky II. It is situated atop the ramparts of an old fort, and one needs to run through some bush, and then climb stairs to make it here. The view is breathtaking, and so are the silhouettes against the rising Sun. That is me.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Uncommon morning sights

Leaving out for the ride this morning, I bumped into some news right around the corner. There were fire trucks lined up around the folk art stores. Upon return, I wasted no time to rush out again, with my camera. It was the DCCI - Delhi Crafts and Cottage Industries - showroom that had been gutted. 

Mornings are a good time to be out. All the screwups of the past night lay exposed, the skeletons out, awaiting the janitor to do a cleanup job. In this janitorial role is the police, the fire department, the hospitals, the garbage men, the scrap dealers, and the tow trucks. Being a cyclist, I sometimes get to see these uncommon scenes, too. Today's scene reminded me of a coupla' more that immediately come to mind.

An upturned ice truck (they vend huge ice slabs). The ice slabs had spilled all over the road.
This was on the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway.

Roadkill. A neelgai (blue bull). This was on the GFR.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Peeking over the city skyline

The nature of a city is such, that despite the hours of 'crazy' that set it alive (and apart from smaller towns), there is a ribbon of time connecting a day to the next, when the crazy settle down and the city mulls over what is to come. This ribbon of time, as the one who is on the move will realize, is redolent of our childhoods. Warmly redolent, despite the freezing winter chill.

It had to happen. I got out this morning, a few hours short of counting two weeks that I've been back to my home ground. Despite a capricious nature of schedule (and sleeping habits), which on one hand had me forever pine for an early start, but on the other had me puzzled seldom being up very early, today's act had to wait for this long. I think it was the switch to Foundation that brought this change.

under pressure

i think i'll resort to pressure tactics.
which mean simulating myself
being under some sort of pressure.
like a scared animal
or a cornered beast
because narrowing down the cone of possibilities
means you have a restricted set of those,
and decision making becomes easier.
at this time we start ranking our options,
and even the options would be that after a more meticulous thought -
this is not talking about situations one is familiar,
but not completely familiar to,
unlike somebody pointing a gun at your head,
and more like a slow flooding
of your room with all doors locked.
i fail, unfailingly, each time.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Let's all move to KYZYL

Such news had to come from Portland, popular as the culture destination of the U.S, to even the boy sitting somewhere in Asia. Tuva - bucketlist item #16 - definitely has a growing pull. All was well until the spring of two-thousand-and-twelve and then I learnt about Tuva. It is a 'brilliant' land, rich of geographical, cultural, and aural features.

The aural allure, especially, is what the region is steeped in. Nothing has attracted people to it more than Tuvan Throat Singing, which was what the Shamans - the ethereal medium between the spirit and the living world - would practise to influence, and hence control the populace. Now that the world has found it, it has a spiking reaction of saving it. There was an engrossing documentary Genghis Blues on Paul Pena, a San Fran blind bluesman who learns this enchanting art, and ultimately competes in TYVA to win the first prize (in his respective division).

The region of Tuva itself has a mystical allure. It is a pea wedged two mattresses - of Russia and Mongolia. It is a boiler-plate and a melting-pot for a lot of the culture. Tuva is a state that the Russians 'colonized', not militarily occupied, which is what they usually would do; they adopted a more steady and sensitive approach. It comes off as a land of some very hardy folks who survived through and maintained an organic yet highly efficient and prosperous society right into the 20th century. And they love horses!

Ganges soon after t3h disaster

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

gems has betrayed me

had i known that gems has the strange property of vanishing into thin air overnight, then i wouldn't have sent it out. there's no other plausible reason.

next time i'll have to try and see if gps tracking helps. to keep track of gems, yes. 

Tessaratoma - naam to suna hi hoga

Thanks to Ted, who maintains the "Beetles in the Bush" blog, I could get an ID on the painterly insect, that I came across in the Nepal Himalayas this May. Ted was prompt in his reply, inside a day of my email. Thank you!
Awesome bug – that is a nymph in the family Tessaratomidae, or giant shield bugs. I don’t have much literature on the group, but there are about 350 mostly Old World species. It seems to be in the genus Tessaratoma and could be T. quadrata, which is the only species in the genus listed from Nepal at this site: http://www.heteroptera.fr/tessite/Tessaratoma/index.html. For comparison, here is a photo of a T. quadrata nymph from China: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hibiscustown/9363794127/ - they look pretty similar to me, if not the same.

This bug is from the family of Tessaratomidae under genus of Tessaratoma.
Tesseratomids, like most heteropterans use chemical defenses (allomones),[20] the source of the common name for pentatomoids - 'stink bugs'.[13] When threatened, tessaratomids may squirt a strong jet of caustic liquid up to a distance of 15 to 27 centimetres (5.9 to 11 in).

Phylum : Arthropoda - Arthropods
Class : Insecta - Insects
Order : Hemiptera - True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies
Suborder : Heteroptera - True Bugs
Superfamily : Pentatomoidea
Family : Tessaratomidae
Genus : Tessaratoma

[heteroptera.fr] Tessaratoma quadrata Distant, 1902
Distribution: China (Guangxi, Ghizhou, Guangdong, Sichuan, Yunnan), India (Assam, Sikkim), Indo-China, Nepal, Vietnam.

Here's Indian govt's brief on the Tessaratomidae in India
"Indian tessaratomids are represented by 41 species under 14 genera of 2 subfamilies. "

Here's a shield bug spotted in Solapur, Maharashtra, India

That wraps up an interesting recall.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

linkedin forbes techcrunch

LinkedIn, Forbes, and TechCrunch.. they've been slowly narrowing my intellectual cone. They all are connected. "Moribund" is the only word that comes to mind to describe their content; moribund, as in, "without force or vitality"; sadly, the other meaning moribund "being on the point of death" won't apply - yet.

LinkedIn has been the big corrupting force. Their innocuous newsletter in my mailbox every week introduces some really useless, directionless writing. Each time, without fail, 60% of the promoted content is on the theme of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" - average reportage and premises on common-sense.

The times I find on Forbes are mostly through the newsletter mentioned above. I don't know what the hell Forbes is on, but is it how to imagine how it survives through the cold harsh winters.

The only thing interesting about Forbes has been half their team becoming Quora converts and publishing either derived articles or direct answers. The partnership is well-known. So much, that Forbes now has a special Quora section.