Monday, May 18, 2009


[Image Courtesy - SobelMedia]
I am sure that by now most of you would have either read the numerous reviews of WolframAlpha, an ultra-trendy new search engine by Stephen Wolfram and his team of distinguished scientists and mathematicians or tried comparing Wolfram's search results with those of Google/Live/Yahoo/Ask. Here are some of the salient (and cool) features of WolframAlpha that make it worth trying:
  • Highly Intuitive: Since, it relies heavily on the expert knowledge and statistics, some of the search queries give much better results than those given my other search engines. Lets say we wish to quickly run a comparison between Nissan and GM and we enter "Nissan, GM" in the search bar of WolframAlpha. Boom - it gives us the latest stock prices, market caps, revenues, earnings per share etc. of both the companies in a tabular form and within seconds you learn which company is doing better. Check this or this.
  • Highly Data Driven: Whenever, you need more information about some specific metric say a date, a town, a country or a formula - just put that information in the search bar and Wolfram fetches yoo the elaborate and related results within seconds. Seeking information about a city or an event is as simple as this or this.
  • Great Learning Resource: Haven't you heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I find WolframAlpha to be great resource for learning music or even sports. Check this or this.
  • Instant Weather Check: Real time Weather information is just a click away now. Check this.
And I am sure the list goes on and on. In a nutshell I would say that this new search engine does a remarkable job in searching, processing and fetching us back the systematic knowledge on the WWW. Lets wait and watch-something tells me that folks at Wolfram Research are going to come up with many more inovative features in the days to come. If you do find some exciting feature about WolframAlpha, do let me know. Till then
Happy Wol-framing :D

"All exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation."~Bertrand Russell

Monday, May 11, 2009

Three Two One...!

[Atlantis Crew - Image Courtesy - NASA]
and Go ! Yes, I am referring to NASA's STS-125 (Atlantis) that was launched at Kennedy Space Center in Florida yesterday. As I watched the near perfect shuttle launch at NASA TV late evening yesterday, I kept saying "Wow !" to myself and marveled the way science has progressed over the past few decades. While the scientists and researches keep raising the bar year after year, I wonder whether we (as individuals) can position ourselves right a growth curve with a positive slope (the more slope the better :)) on a regular basis as well?

Anyways, here are some quick facts about the mission:
  • STS-125 is on an eleven day mission to Hubble Telescope.
  • Its seven member crew will conduct five spacewalks install new instruments, replace thermal blankets replace gyroscope on Hubble thus making the telescope better and ready for the years to come.
  • Meanwhile space shuttle "Endeavour" at Kennedy Space Center is ready for launch as well (To rescue Atlantis crew in case of an emergency).
  • A Wide Field Camera 3 will be attached to Hubble and the camera will relay even more vivid and detailed pictures of the deep space to us on a continual basis.
  • Another new instrument that Hubble will be given is "The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph". This instrument is meant to observe the light put out by extremely faint quasars and see how that light changes as it passes through the intervening gas between distant galaxies.
Well if this feels like an overdose of scientific facts, here's a cool fact - Michael J Massimino (one of astronauts at Atlantis) is on Twitter (His Twitter ID: Astro_MIke) and intends to relay messages from the outer space ! I am incredibly curious (and excited) and will keep checking Twitter-sphere every now and then; After all you wish to be the amongst the first residents on earth to read his 140 characters of wisdom :D

Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~ Albert Einstein

Friday, May 08, 2009

KGB to the rescue...!

[Image Courtesy - 20Life]

Now that summer season is officially in which means it is time to hit the roads, go on nature trails, enjoy the sunlight, wear those cool T-shirts and make new connections (friends) yet again! But when you spark a conversation with a stranger, one of the following two things usually happen:

(A) You learn in few seconds that you both share a hobby (Museums, Art, Photography or say writing).
Voilà! you find an immediate connection and declare that your new friend count is N + 1.

(B) You both end up asking tons of questions to each other (spc. when one of the two people is of those nerdy types) and realize in the end that it's time to bid a warm good-bye :D

Mind you, either of these scenarios happen in split seconds but the one I am concerned about is Case (B). To me Case (B) is like a lost opportunity because if one of you had answers to those esoteric questions, you could have fostered a new friendship, a new connection and may be a new venture as well! Now you might as well ask that is there someone whom you can seek answers from right away. Well, without any further circumlocution - let me suggest you to check out KGB's website right away.

KGB has saved me many times in the past 2 months and I have become a big fan of the service ever since (It's blazing fast, accurate and reliable)! Before your mind start conjuring up images of Russian secret service or their possible association with me, here's a quick summary of how the service works:

(1) All of a sudden you get questions like the foll. in your mind:

Who invented Jeep?
Which non-software company houses the world's biggest database?

When was piano invented?
What kind of footwear do ninjas wear?
What is the toughest team game?
Which country has the lowest/highest GDP?
Who sells the best pizza in the world?

What is the temperature in space?

(2) You put the question down in your phone and send a text to kgbkgb (542542).

(3) Buzz, Buzz - you receive the answer from a real person within moments.

(4) You feel happier and contended :)
You might prefer using Google or Yahoo answers but in case your question is an uncommon one, this service can be quite useful. Infact, their website says that " In 2007, kgb served more than a hundred million consumers globally and answered over a billion questions." That sure sounds a bit(or may be a lot) impressive indeed!

In case you are still not convinced or "texting" doesn't necessarily jive with you, remember that calling up that super smart and intelligent friend of yours who always won those Quizzes back in school is always an option :)
Do remember to give an amazing present to your mother this Sunday and have a great weekend ahead !

"Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide."~Napolean

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Possible...!

Kudoz to professor emeritus James F. Crook for having devised an algorithm for solving Sudoku puzzles. Here are some quick pointers about his "Pencil-and-Paper Algorithm":

  • The algorithm is made up of five logical steps
  • It requires players to mark up empty boxes in the Sudoku grid with all possible remaining number and, by comparing number sets, to labour through a "tree" of options that ultimately provides a solution.
  • As of now, the computer takes takes over an hour to solve a Sudoku puzzle. (See humans always outsmart computers ;))
  • The paper text can be viewed here.

This algorithm is certainly an achievement in the mathematical world and reinforces the fact that almost everything that can be depicted as a flowchart is solvable by computers. After all computers have been known to be super efficient in deconstructing seemingly tough problems and hammering out their solutions using computing power!

What puzzles me though is how come human beings are able to solve a difficult Sudoku in just 10-15 minutes time while this latest algorithm takes an hour to crack a Sudoku puzzle? Is it our logic sense or intuition or just our imagination that does the magic-Well, I don't know! What I do know is the fact that struggling with my pencil (I don't mean chewing the back of the pencil over and over again ;)) and working out a Sudoku puzzle on a Sunday morning is an adventure in itself. And the "Ahaaa" feeling (emotional high) you get post solving a puzzle keeps the excitement and the desire to solve the next puzzle on :D

Happy weekend folks and good luck for today's puzzle!
"A moment's thinking is an hour in words."~ Thomas Hood

Monday, March 23, 2009

Swimming with the Dolphin...!

[Image Courtesy-Sun]

Ever wondered what's common attribute among the coolest sites you see on the now ubiquitous WWW? Here are some examples of the kind of sites I am referring to - Zappos, Craiglist, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Zimbra, Booking, Footnote, DocASAP etc.

Well, all of them are powered by the world's most dominant open source database [MySQL] that claims to have more than 11 million installations across the globe. Infact, it has almost become a default choice for a new generation of applications built on the LAMP Stack. What is particularly notable is that you get ace performance, reliability, flexibility and total control over your application with every MySQL installation. Call up that "cool" friend of yours who worked in a startup firm for sometime to knwo about specific advantages of MySQL.

I have been working on MySQL for quite sometime now and I would describe my experience as a "breeze". DB Installation , DB Programming and even DB Administration are way too simplified in MySQL and whatever you set out to do is like an experiment which makes it all the more fun!

So whether you a fresh college graduate who is aspiring to become a DB Developer or an established DBA waiting for next release of Oracle or SQL Server DB, do give MySQL a try sometime. Believe me you'll love this hassle free and trendy DBMS ! Meanwhile let me continue to swim with
Sakila in the days to come :D

"Don't reinvent the wheel, just realign it."~ Anthony J. D'Angelo

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vrooom Vrooom...!

[Image Courtesy-Worldcarfans]
As Software professionals, we are supposed to use our left brains most of the time, which makes sense considering the kind of complex work (Ahmmm Ahmmm - that was my inner voice ;-)) we do everyday. But haven't you ever felt that satmetimes images, illustrations or just a quick pencil sketch (I just love Whiteboards!) seems to aid in better and quicker understanding of convoluted concepts than plain logic? If you've ever wondered about studying art or if you love visiting art galleries or museums, I am sure you would perhaps grasp the point I am trying to make here.

However, if you are sure that you are a left-brained (smart, clever, intelligent,quick problem solver) person with an exceptionally high IQ (Lucky You :D) and live on East Coast, consider yourself blessed and plan a trip to NYC soon:) Yes, I am referring to the much talked about the upcoming "BMW Art Car Exhibition" that will feature (the gorgeous) BMW 3.0 CSL Coupé. Try visiting the upcoming Art exhibit at Grand Central Terminal [NYC] and let me know in case you fall in love with the black and white graph paper patterned design on the CSL coupé, by Frank Stella, an ace artist, or with art in general! See you at Grand Central then :D

Exhibition Dates: March 24 to April 6, 2009
Location: Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal, NYC
Exhibition Details - Here

PS: There are some really good technical conferences you might wish to check sometime such as-A, B or C - just in case you wish to hone your technical skills or learn that super cool new Performance tuning concept. Good Luck & have a great weekend ahead !

"The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary"~Thomas Edison

Friday, March 06, 2009

Spring Forward...!

[Image Courtesy-TIME]

Its that time of the year again when accurate "TIME" matters so much and you want it or not-all your gadgets, your car clock and all your electronic gadgets grab your attention atleast for couple of minutes :) Yes, I am referring to 'Daylight Saving Time' here.

If you are an IT Professional, I am sure you would be aware of the hoopla that surrounds this yearly event in every company. Infact, DST reminds me of the amazing time I spent in a big Indian IT consulting firm I worked for in Mumbai four years ago. Back then, in March, our Program Manager used to make a detailed plan outlining numerous tasks and used to emphasize the criticality of every task quite visibly (meetings, meetings and more meetings!). The best part was that our DBA Team was conveyed a very strong message - "With great power comes great responsibility!" (remember Peter Parker ?) and we were conditioned to believe that we are like special task force commandos whose mission is to keep the IT systems of BIG Clients alive during the crucial flip-over moment when clocks are moved forward in the States. Orders were orders and thus we did our jobs with utmost devotion, sincerity and passion and the celebrity treatment ("Amazing work team!" emails from Senior mgmt) that we used to receive post DST sure felt awesome back then!

Anyways, coming back to present-here are some quick facts about DST:

  • In simple terms, the clocks are set ahead one hour on first Sunday of March to create an extra hour of daylight in the evening during summers.
  • The correct term is 'Daylight saving time' and not 'Daylight savings time'.
  • The first American to advocate for daylight saving was Benjamin Franklin.
  • America's EST time zone makes the switch before the rest of the country.
  • The states of Arizona and Hawaii do not follow DST.
  • Post DST, Central Time will be referred to as CDT instead of CST.
  • Mathematically speaking, you loose an hour's sleep but hey you can always cover up by either going to bed early on Saturday night or taking a nap on Sunday afternoon :)

So remember to spring forward your analog clocks at 2 a.m. this Sunday and have a cool weekend ahead!
"If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality"~Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Messengers Of Peace...!

[Image Courtesy-Queenbgy]
Can someone please suggest the people who keep trying so hard to disrupt world peace to turn their focus on bigger issues like acquiring new skills, helping their families amidst the turbulent economic times and most importantly let others shine for God's sake !

While news alerts like this, this or this have always shaken me to the core, I just hope that atleast 0.01% of the incorrigible terrorists and the likes transform for good this year! Can somone send me email/postal addresses of some of the terrorists so that I can send them biographies of few world renonwned peacemakers such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama, Aung Saan Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi and the likes or send them some interesting real-life projects/challenges or even comics to keep their minds engaged elsewhere...Sighh :(

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."~Albert Schweitzer

Friday, February 27, 2009

Flame On...!

A friend of mine recently got married and the happy couple seems to be super busy in their pursuit of exploring as many places as they can ever since. This interesting couple (I wish I could add links to Facebook profiles of Tc & Jz but there might be privacy concerns you see ;)) resolved to explore East coast of America in 1st Quarter of 2009 and from the number of Picasa Album updates-I can safely presume that their Tour d'America is well on track! We have always heard about the importance of teamwork and synergy at our workplaces but Tc and Jz reinforce the fact that as individuals we can harmonize our contributions and work towards a common personal goal too.

Before I pen down more about their escapades (Winter biking trips, Cruise trips, Rainforest hikes etc.-both these active members of LP are well beyond crazy), their latest plans intirgued me a bit. Tc and Jz are planning for camping in NH this weekend (Shhhhh-the place is a closely guarded secret :D) and are sending out invites to their close pals with one strange prerequisite-a 50% plus score on a quiz called Fire-IQ. Doesn't this sound odd? I was a bit taken aback upon learning about this condition (it was like a dent on male chauvinism you see ;)) and decided to attempt the quiz right away.
How I felt post the quiz - Enriched and Cheerful ! I said to myself "Wow, There are so many new facts we can learn everyday provided we remain receptive to ideas and connected to friends." Thanks a lot for sharing the quiz Tc and Jz-you kind of made my evening!
Before you attempt the quiz(I know you are curious:)), few words of wisdom - "Don't be either alarmed or discouraged if you find that your Fire-IQ is not as high as you might have hoped. Have a pen and paper handy and take notes while attempting the quiz and treat it like a game!". Hats off to
Keith McCafferty for creating this quiz. What an amazing way to pack seemingly boring and tough facts together and adopt cool strategies such as catchy one-liner feedbacks (my fav ones are below) that make you smile, images that make you think, illustrations that make you say 'Hummm' etc. Wish all tests offered as much fun.
  • Congratulations. You've made fire!
  • You are dead wrong, no pun intended!

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, hit the "Start the Quiz" button. Once finished you can certainly utter the now famous punch line of the Human Torch from FF4 - "Flame On":) Happy Learning folks !

"Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody's heart."~Anthony J. D'Angelo

PS: Now on-I'll be posting links to an interesting ebook and a supposedly nice song :) Hope you like them!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Modern Pilgrimage...!

[Image Courtesy - Cleartrip]

What would you do when you are supposed to visit almost all major Indian cities, meet all possible relatives, buy tons of presents - all this in just a week's time ! Oh and yes - you are making a BIG career move in the same week as well. Well, I am sure that with so much on the agenda, any normal homo-sapien is bound to seek external help (Friends, Relatives, Travel Agents or Divine help - depends on individual beliefs :)) .

Based on this assumption (Hey hang on a sec-I know this is an incorrect English Usage and presumption is the right word in this context but you see old habits die hard and I am still learning the nuances of English Language :)), I and my sister decided that we got to help our parents navigate past this tough situation-afterall we (thought we) are equipped with all possible amunitions viz. Credit Cards-VISA/Discoverer/Amex with Gold/Silver/Platinum Memberships (wish they had something called Uranium Membership too:)), internet ready Laptops, URLs of 10 search engines to grab the perfect ticket deals and ofcourse oozing aplomb required during such testing times. Now, before you conclude that every parent should have kids like us (and wish us luck, happiness and merry times...Ok stop Chinmay!) you might wish to know what happened when we called up our parents yesterday in anticipation that we will be declared the "perfect kids" right away !

Me (on behalf of myself & Surabhi-my sis) placed a call to our parents yesterday (Thanks for providing the superlative service Airtel) , wished them "Good Morning" and asked them right away about their travel dates so that we can quickly start our operation "Perfect Kids". To our utter surprise, it turns out that they already took care of every aspect of their trip-from shopping to booking air tickets to hiring cabs for local commute to hiring Agarwal Packers (They are the UHaul of India) and what really shook us was they planned and executed everything in just a couple of hours !!

Within moments, I changed the topic (I have learned to dodge disappointments in novel ways and what a wise decisioj it was indeed :D) briefed them about my latest (cooking) adventures, discussed couple of crazy ideas I have been getting oflate and brought the conversation to a close in 10 minutes. Phewwww !!

The question that stayed unanswered was-How did they do it - Was it some kind of "Inside Box" approach or was it planning using Post-It Notes or did they use Zoho? Well, we don't know but we'll continue our pursuit of trying to be responsive, cool and adventurous kids Dad/Mom :D.

Njoi this track for now and do check out Cleartrip-one of the hottest site in India these days. These folks seem to be really putting lots of efforts (technical and creative both) month after month and I am certainly amazed!

Click on the Image above (or here) to and enjoy this amazing track called "Change Your Mind" by Sister Hazel !

"I was born not knowing and have only had a little time to change that here and there."~Richard Feynman

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Eye on Zimbabwe...!

[Image Courtesy - The Difference Magazine]
While International concern has been building up against the current Zimbabwean Government since couple of months, the latest Cholera outbreak in the country hurts the prevailing helpless state of affairs (inadequate drinking water supply, weak health system, collapsed social infrastructure, poor land reforms policies etc.) in this African country. I must admit that conversation with a lady (Nyarin is a Zimbabwean Immigrant) in Library last evening shook me to the core and I just hope and pray that things get back to their normal self in Zimbabwe soon. Here's a quick chronicle of the crisis:
  • At independence [April 18, 1980], Zimbabwe was one of the most promising countries in Africa with a one of the region’s highest literacy rates, thriving agriculture industry and a robust healthcare system and everyone seemed optimistic about future of the nation.
  • Robert Mugabe, who was elected as President, took many strategic decisions, made significant investments in healthcare and education systems. A very strong agricultural sector and country's committment to allround development helped Zimbabwe gain a significant position amidst the developing African nations.
  • However, by the late 1990s the situation totally reversed with sky high inflation, severe food shortages, widespread epidemics and breakdown of basic public services due to unexplainable socio-econmic policies by Mugabe's government and lack of willingness to change in accordance with the external factors.
  • Last year, WHO announced that Zimbabwe had the shortest life expectancy in the world - 37 years for men and 34 years for women. This sure was a very very disturbing news for the whole world.
  • In 2008, Morgan Tsvangirai, who leads Zimbabwe’s main opposition party (Movement for Democratic Change) challenged Mugabe for the presidency. However, members of MDC encounteres severe resistance from Mugabe's camp.
  • Finally, Tsvangiri was sworn in as the Prime Minister last Wednesday[11th Feb, 2009] and he aims to put the country on a progressive track again. The best part is the ininhibited support Zimbabwe has from the African Union to realize this dream.

Personally, I feel that Zimbabwe certainly has the potential to tackle its seemingly unending crisis. (There's always hope!) The need of the hour for the nation is one to show the world that it is serious about the CHANGE (Tsvangiri to me seems the perfect man/leader for achieving this) and two to seek International support (WHO/AU/ONE) and sincere well wishes.

I thus request you to grab 10 seconds from your free time today (We are well-wishers right?) and join me in signing this petition (Thanks Much!) or even forward the same to your friends (Thanks sooooo much!). I strongly feel that each one of us can make a difference & like we always say at ONE - "Every Vote Counts!"

Make a Difference

"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform."~Mark Twain

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cleverness Squared...!

[Image Courtesy - KenKen]
What do you do when the thoughts in your mind flow like a running water and you find it hard to give your 100% attention to the coolest project amongst a dozen others you are pursuing at any time? (Now, that certainly sounds familiar :D). Well, the answer is simple, you engage yourself in activities that build your conctration and help you to FOCUS !

The other day a group of cheerful kids in the local Public Library caught my attention momentarily. They looked super excited and were discussing about some logic riddle. Now the word "puzzle" was sufficient for my brain to instruct my ear lobes to stretch themselves and make every possible attempt to learn about this supposedly cool puzzle. After a few minutes of eavesdropping (Hey I knoe its a bad habit but the situation was critical you see), I got the name of the puzzle - "KaneKane".

Very quickly I grabbed a vacant PC in the Library and googled for "KaneKane" only to learn that the correct name of the puzzle was "KenKen":( Anyways, I avoided the immediate disappointment by telling myself that it was more of an accent issue than a hearing issue (Yay-me !) and started reading more about KenKen. I learned that this puzzle was invented by Tetsuya Miyamato - a charismatic Japanese Maths teacher and almost every forum on the internet declared KenKen to be the best and the most brilliant successor of Sudoku. Waaaaoooow - I said to myself, I gotta solve one right away! See this is what happens when you go to Library with a humble ambition of end up doing everything but studying ;). But c'mmon you can do whatever you wish on the weekends-right? Anyways, here are some of the most appealing things about the Puzzle:
  • Quick: Unlike Sudoku, KenKen requires arithmetic (+, -, *, /) and it sure serves to recall the dormal High School Mental / Vedic Maths though its not a necessary prerequisite.
  • Cage Concept: In addition to seeing that any digit is not repeated in any row/column, one has to ensure that the digits within the cage (boldly outlined box) work out using the Arithmetic Oprn shown to yield the target number indicated.
  • Simplicity: The cages with just one box need to be filled in with the target number in the top corner and often you start solving KenKen by filling in these numbers first.
  • Meaning : It means Cleverness Squared :D

While I have always loved solving Sudoku or a Kakuro, KenKen beats them all for its so much more fun! Here are few links you might wish to check out when you wish to exercise your brain, reconnect with your love (with numbers I mean), build concentration and ofcourse join the global KenKen craze :D Happy Solving Folks !

Link 1 Link 2 Link 3 Link 4 Link 5

"When the impossible has been eliminated, then whatever remains, however improbable, is the truth.~Sherlock Holmes"

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Let me know if your face too registers a warm smile after watching this video. Lets hope that Windows 7 is equally amazing as well. (I certainly need plenty of convincing reasons to uninstall Ubuntu from my Tablet and load Windows instead :D.)

But this video seems to be a pretty impressive campaign by microsoft !
"Act out the experience that you wish to leave people with !"

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Acknowledging History...!

I am so amazed upon reading the following email today evening:
From: Bank of America [mailto:artsmedia@bankofamerica[dot]com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 6:00 PM
To: Gupta, Chinmay
Subject: Museums on Us from Bank of America

"This coming weekend get free admission to over 70 museums nationwide with Museums on Us™. Just present your Bank of America check, credit or ATM card, along with your photo ID." Click here to find the list of participating museums in your area, and to learn more about Museums on Us™

While my instant reaction was this, I did a quick computation to get the number of days between today and the last time I visited a museum and the revelation was certainly not a pleasant one! Very quickly, I checked the nearest public library's website and guess what I learned - There are over 25 museums around Boston - now that's certainly very very cool!

While I quickly narrow down the options, get new camera batteries, grab a Staples Recordbook (I love taking notes!), I think its worth mentioning a few points about what can be inspiring about any museum in general (Hope post reading the pointers, my roomie agrees to give me company as I explore one museum after another starting this weekend-Hehhheehh :)). Off to the essentials:
  • Visual Appeal: Stamps, ancient coins, wood cravings, manuscripts from the past - always have an amazing appeal specially when you find them housed in nice glass cases with a short description of the artefact. And such vivid visual patterns get recorded almost instantly in our minds. Which is why most of us find it easier to recall what we saw in the museum rather than what we read in a book/newspaper.

  • Vocabulary: If you represent 98% of the people (Yeah you'll find me in that bandwidth;)) who visit any museum, chances are that you might words/literature in the exhibit you have never heard of before. And believe me noting down some of that esoteric stuff can be really cool. All you have to do next is when you get back home, put that scary word in google search bar, check its usage in ordinary sentences and thats it. See you added a new word in your Vocab. Bravo!

  • Creativity: Have you ever noticed how the folks at museum come up with ways to market the museums in order to draw more crowds? While we all notice the museum listings on internet or in libraries-but have a look at the ad listing and you'll understand how much of reasearch is done by every museum to come up with an ultra-creative Ad.

  • Management: Museums perhaps require much more money than what you and me pay at the Ticket window for their expansion and upkeep. How do they manage to do this fund-raising? Think about it !

  • Euphoria: In any museum, you'll often hear those "What is this Mommy?" or "Why this is the way it is?" kind of questions kids shower their parents with. Now, if you are a parent, chances are that you'll be forced to put your thinking caps on to answer such questions. And if you do manage to give a convincing answer to your smart small wonder, you are going to feel very very happy inside! Bravo Again!

I have always believed that museums have a profound impact of our lives and psyche; but what really pushes me towards the museums (@ New Haven, DC, Chicago, Texas, NYC and now Boston) is that fact that people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities often visit a museum purely out of interest and being a part of such "interesting" crowd can be wonderful in ways more than one. Enough said - do check out the museums in your proximity here. And Thank-You Bank Of America - I loved the idea and rest assured you have a happy customer here:)

Happy Exploring Friends !

"The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.~William James"

Monday, January 26, 2009

Positively Radiant...!

[Photo Courtesy - Esprit]

Yes-that is exactly how I felt yesterday. I mean it sure was a special day (my birthday :)) but what made it all the more memorable was the fact that so many acquaintances (my family members, friends, relatives, office peers etc) called up to convey their sincere wishes in diverse styles and modes of expressions (Phone, Gtalk, Orkut, Mail, Songs) ! Was the universe a bit brighter yesterday or was it just one of those "perfect days" - I wondered...

Since I have been working on enhancing my "Thinking Skills" for quite some time now, a quick analysis of events around me has almost become my second nature. Thus post every call by a well-wisher, I paused for a moment to observe what my mind (Phewww ! It never ceazes to stop wandering - god knows what is it that keeps it busy all the time ;)) is upto and what a fantastic exercise it was. Here' a gist of it:
Trrrringggg - Trrrringggg
Me: Hello
Friend (Excited): Hey Many-Many Happy returns of the day pal...How you doing?
Me (Happy): Thanks a lot bud - I am great...How about you?
Friend (Curious): Good Good...So where's the party tonight? And yes, it better be a grand one dude !
Me (Happier): Planning to go to a Mexican Restaurant nearby, they have a dance floor in there as well-come on over...We'll have a blast !

And then your mind goes off to the races-very quickly it scans the memory archive, gets you back a visual/sensory snapshot of the moment when you and your friend last met and had a fantastic time and thus you become cheerful for a while! Now, before you settle down (to your equilibrium mental state), you receive another call from an even closer friend and your happiness reserves remain full. Fast forward 5 hours-you are one of the happiest person in the town :) And when a sumptuous dinner with room-mates and some fancy footwork (dance)marks the end of your day-you wonder how come the world has become such an awesome place at once....Which is why I said I felt "Positively Radiant" :D

Now on days when you don't have your birthday here's what happens (I think)...
Eventually your mind reverts back to its equilibrium state and you again engage yourself with tasks that you usually do to spend your weekend. And in case you are not one of those cheerful kind of homo-sapient, you end up focussing on the "not-have" elements in your life again huh'! The solution-either be on phone with your well-wishers all the time all the time (if you can afford it:)) or engage yourself in things you really love doing-singing, dancing, writing, drawing, traveling, watching movie etc. and yes do wish your friends on their birthdays. You never know - just one phone call can make their day brighter !

Oh by the way-thanks a lot Dad, Mom, Surabhi, Juhi & all my amazing friends for the lovely presents & associated surprises - I can't cease admiring them or talking about 'em to my friends over & over again :) The Esprit glasses were an instant hit and so was the Blackberry Wallet and the carved Coffee Mug (the most creative present). Love y'all so much!
Happy Republic Day !

"Life's truest happiness is found in friendships we make along the way!"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And The Oscar Goes To...!

I read somewhere -"Be careful for what you wish just might get it!" and a news alert I received in my email few moments ago reinforces the adage ! It was just last week that I wished right here on my blog that Rahman (read India) gets an Oscar soon and looks like he's almost there ! Very quickly I Googled about Rehman's bio and here are some interesting facts I learned:
  • Early Starter: His father R K Shekhar was a composer for Malayalam movies and Rahman started playing piano at the age of Four!
  • Right Education: He went to Trinity College Of Music in London and graduated with a degree in Western Classical Music.
  • Perfect Work-Ex: He joined the noted Illaiyaraja's troupe as a keyboardist at the age of 11 and along his early career he worked with several renowned composers like Vishwanathan-Ramamurthy, Zakir Hussain, L Shankar, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan etc. It was this experience that helped him earn a scholarship to the famed Trinity College Of Music.
  • Entrepreneurial Insight: He went on to set up his own studio called "Panchathan Record Inn" to experiment with his music, sound engineering, design and his studio remains one of the ost reverred music studios in Asia !
  • Opportunist: He always focussed on the next opportunity and always strived very very hard to create a music that appeals to all cross sections of society. He was offered to compose music for "Roja" by noted Indian film maker Mani Ratnam and the movie's music score was a smashing hit (He won a national award for the Best Music Composer)
  • Philanthropist: Time and again he finds novel ways to participate in charitable causes. (Tsunami Relief Concert, Vande-Matram Album, A R Rahman Foundation)
The more I read about this exceptional genius who keeps redefining contemporary Indian Music year after year, the more I get inspired. I think I would go spend some 30 mins at ColdStone today evening to celebrate the Oscar Nomination news! And yes-Thanks Renga (He's my roomie & we spend way too much time listening to songs ev'day;)) for acquainting me with Rahman's ace compositions from Kollywood too! C ya in few minutes...till then enjoy the track "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire :D

"Mistakes are portals of discovery."~James Joyce


[Image Source -]

The high-wattage Presidential Inaugration ceremony held in Washington DC this Tuesday created the much anticipated ripples both before and after the event. While there have been umpteen discussions on various News Channels on how the new administration is going to provide the thrust to the US Economy amidst the prevailing turbulent times with record deficits, phenomenal national debt, ever-growing economic crisis and ofcourse the ever-rising unemployment, what amazes me is that Obama stays (super) positive and is keen on putting people from thinking mode (What would happen if? Can I do this? Should I study further? How do I protect my investments?) to working mode (Yes, I can! Lets do it !).

I had an elaborate discussion on the specific elements of his inaugration speech with my parents back home(in India) yesterday (Thanks to Gtalk which keeps getting better everyday) and we talked about what the so called "CHANGE" means and as individuals what can we do to help initiate and sustain this change for good. The talk was quite an eye-opener for me for as expected my Dad & my grandfather had better statistics (GDP, Employment Figures, R&D Spend for India Vs US etc) and facts from history than I had and they could analyse the forthcoming changes in ways that totally impressed me (And I thought we Gen-Xers are good with numbers :D). Anyways here are the 4Es we arrived at (Focus Areas for the new govt.):



  • EXPLORATION (or Innovation)

All I would say is "Change is so much coming" :D. I wish Obama and team the very best and would like to dedicate my favorite line from STARWARS to them - "May the Force be with you!"

"A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it. ~Einstein"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mini Escape...!

[Image Source - Bigoo]
There are some days when you pretend that things are absolutely fine or you are totally cool & composed when you're not-Well, this Sunday was one such day. I was super-bored for the heavy snow prevented me from going out and the weekend almost seemed like a house-arrest. The good thing was a day ago I procured a book called "I Am a Pencil" from the local library and with nothing else to do decided to read it. The book (a beautiful narrative of adventures of a teacher and his students) was such a nice read for I could correlate so many events there with that of my own ertshile teaching experiences and perhaps thats why I finished the book in 4 hours flat. As I patted myself (finishing a book can be a BIG achievement at times :D) and headed for the kitchen to do preprations for the supper, all of a sudden the conflicting forces (True Self Vs The Other Self) in my mind were at conflict again. It has happened before and believe me it can be really tough at times. Anyways the conversation went like:

True Self: Hey you did a good job-finished a nice book dude!
The Other Self: As if anyone cares...tell me did you make any new friends oflate?
True Self: Ummm yeah, I can write a quick email to Mr. Swope-the author letting him know his book was brilliant ! So there I have a new friend right..What say ?
The Other Self: Aggggghhhhh, weekend means stepping out from home, visiting a mall, watching a movie, hanging out with friends and NOT reading a book-do you get that?
True Self (Justifying): Yeah, I understand but you know there's kinda paucity of friends in this place :( so I am doing what appeals me the most. Whats wrong with that?
The Other Self (Pushing Again): Hey listen, friends don't come knocking at your door, you gotta explore new places, cultivate new hobbies, participate in community events and thats how you meet new people. You gotta do everything except sitting in home in your illusionary perfect world !
True Self (In Defiance): But books give us so much of inspiration and plenty of insights. Besides isn't the very fact that the distinguished authors spend so much of time (usually 2-3 years) putting their experiences down in black and white for the readers awe-inspiring in itself? I bet it is.
The Other Self (Taken a back): I am afraid I won't agree 100% with you on this note. Its authors' job to write. Its like you like writing elegant code and they like writing their musings - simple ! My point is go make friends-you need a few for your own good! Friends can teach you a lot more than books and bestsellers.
True Self (Turned Submissive): Yeahhhh, in this perceived land of opportunities, you get platforms to learn, to perform, to become independent but you are right-making good friends seems a herculian task :(
The Other Self (Elated): Daaaaah! Nothing is "tough" dude. Now would you please step out and go for a brisk walk atleast. I am sure you'll feel better!

You see-this is what happens when you try being a humble human being who is usually happy living in his own world of books, delicacies and internet. Your other self (mine is really ultra crazy and can crush me with ever increasing expectations)never lets you stay quiet and happy. Anyways, orders are orders-I put my amunitions on (2 Jackets, Leather Gloves, Fur Cap, Snow Shoes, Mini-Torch and my ultra heavy key-chain), took a deep breath and marched ahead on the assigned mission. To my utter surprise my so called march lasted for a mere 10 minutes! While walking past my car in the parking lot, I noticed an inquisitive looking lady shoveling snow from the area and I decided to lend a helping hand. And what a wise decision it was !

Within minutes we cleared the lot A space and as we headed for clearing the lot B, my true self reminded me about my goal for the evening (to make a new friend) and I thought it was time to talk. I learned that Stella (think I got her name right;)) is a real estate agent and has been living in New England Area since a decade and she really loves her profession. I too explained her what I do for a living(it was tough though;)) and soon we were talking about Indian/Western cultures, Economy, Financial Crises, latest bestsellers, movie releases and ofcourse the omnipresent snow in New England. She was particularly curious about the Indian Music and Dance Styles and told me that she felt very happy for the Golden Globe Award
won by Mozart of Madras recently.Well Mr. Rehman you made all Indians so proud yet again and your speech was truly inspiring as well! We are sure that now Oscars are within reach too!

We (Me and Stella) talked and talked and talked and yet it seemed that we cleared the lot B in minutes (it was well past an hour though;)). As I said goodbye to her saying that I'll keep in touch via email, I asked myself do I want another snow storm soon-well may be Yes (that was my Other Self;) !
But on a serious note I am very happy at having made a new friend whose interests vary from reading to cooking to skiing to dancing! So, Thank-you Mr. The Other Self-sometimes your advice does work;) Besides it reinforces the notion that opportunies in life are plenty-we just gotta have a right focus and a right attitude!

"The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy~Meryl Streep"

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Just when I thought that the New Year celebrations are over and its time to head back to the dramatic reality (read life ;)), a colleague of mine invited me over to his place for dinner this Saturday and what a memorable evening it was! While I loved the delicacies he and his wife prepared with so much of affection, what captured my attention were their super-energetic tiny tots-Ayan & Lipi, their equally tiny friends-Matthew & Megan and their varied recreational interests. After exchanging the usual plesantries, all of us made concscious moves to know more about each other - you know smiling, asking about hobbies etc. Even though I have always liked social get-togethers for they provide numerous opportunities to meet new people and connect with them on some common level but this situation was way . Think about it - When 4 seemingly naive kids (Okay a bit naughty too!) stare at you for well over 10 minutes, exchange puzzled looks and keep giggling on and on-you'll are bound to feel like an Alien! Here are few reflections from the Scene:

Living Room:
I called up Ayan and asked him to get his pencilbox, crayons and few sheets of paper. His instant reaction was like "Hey how can a stranger order me to get MY things?" but a bit of coaxing helped and soon we (myself and all the kids) seated ourselves in a circular fashion all set for a round table conference. From my erstwhile teaching experiences, I have started believing that pictures/illustrations are the quickest ways to spark one's creativity and I felt this was a time to test this fact. I said to them lets try to draw something that we love sincerely and lets see who does it first. Inside, I smiled for I thought this would get them all moving but they seemed least interested :( But thats okay (I said to myself) for if everything happens according to our will, life would ceaze to be an adventure! Matthew (the most energetic of the bunch) spotted a football nearby and tossed it right at my face and before I could muster up courage to ask them to focus on drawing exercise-I realised that the need of the hour was to play "Football Toss" game. And-we had a blast !

Dining Room: O boy-kids can be so much inquisitive yet innocent. Check this conversation thread...

One Parent: C'mmon Kids - try guessing Chinmay's age?
Ayan (5 yrs old)- Well, ummm 4
Megan (6 yrs old)- 5
Lipi (3 yrs old)- 1 ...Giggleee
Matthew (7 yrs old)- C'mmon he gotta be atleast 8
All [in unison] - Yeahhhhhhhhh Eight !

I wonder how they came up with the number 8 but since it was a team effort (Wisdom Of Crowds)-I smiled back in amazement. Later (after supper) to my utter surprise-each of them made an illustration-God knows what prompted/motivated them all of a sudden but here's what they sketched. [Ayan-some zig-zag pattern, Megan-A Flower,two leaves and Me(how sweet!), Lipi-A Pencil, Matthew - A Dinosaur].

All in all-I will always remember with fondness the time I spent with these four small wonders-they truly know how to savor every moment in life. As things stood, it was an amazing day indeed.

"They can because they think they can !"