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64 degrees and cloudy

"Contains added colors and flavors. Contains no fruit pulp"

Updated: 2015-01-11T14:48:42.979+05:30


Gayathri v/s Darth Vader


I used to laugh at my friends and cousins who read "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus."
I remember scoffing and feeling a sense of deep disdain whenever somebody talks about it.

And then I got married.

Don't get me wrong, Gayathri is very sweet and is quite accommodating to my momentary bouts of insanity.(though I can't shake off the feeling of coming closer to getting punched in the face at times...)
But there are times during our conversations, when I really feel that we are on totally different pages.
The most recent incident happened when I downloaded a wallpaper of Darth Vader from the internet. Gayathri has a strong disregard for English films, which I learnt the hard way when I tricked her into seeing "Wrath of the Titans (3D)" in place of "Housefull 2". It was one of those silly mistakes that you always regret, but without which you would have never learnt those searing lessons of life.
 Coming back to Darth Vader, I always wanted to introduce the Star wars universe to Gayathri; but with my current quota on English movies that I am allowed to watch, it will be close to a year before we reach "Return of the Jedi". Being a teacher, I decided to take a fast track approach - familiarize the topic by including star wars references in our daily conversations.
I decided to take it one step further by changing the wallpaper to StarWars characters. Hence the Darth Vader wallpaper.
"Gayathri, this is Darth Vader" I shouted holding up my laptop for my wife to see.
"Who ?" She asked without taking her eyes off the curry she was making for dinner.
"Anakin Skywalker, he bought balance to the force" I replied. The fast track approach, you see..
"He does not have balace?  Must be a problem with his ear." She is still working on the curry.
"No no, you don't understand. Anakin was ..."
"No, I understand perfectly." She cut me off. " My grandmother had this problem of losing balance all the time. We took her to the doctor. He said it was because of the fluid in her inner ear."
"It is not that balance I am talking about. Its the force, light side and dark side... Remember I keep telling you?"
"Bilateral vestibulopathy" She shouts back at me.
"What ?"
"The condition is called Bilateral vestibulopathy". Gayathri is also a biomedical engineer, among other things.
"Aargh... we are talking about Anakin Skywalker. He did not suffer from any condition except severe burns on planet Mustafar." My patience is completely lost now. But I am determined to do this.
"Don't you remember Gayathri ? About everything I told you about young Anakin ?"
I saw her look up from the curry.
"Well, I don't remember exactly!" I could sense a feeling of guilt in her voice. Looks like I can push her to watch the movie today itself.
"Shivetta..." she suddenly called out,
"Did he come for our wedding reception ?" She asked curiously !

Notes to Self on Ubuntu Installation


Always install from the DVD

Running Windows Programs in Ubuntu

Ubuntu Tweak

Ubuntu Tools

Moving Over


I am tending to like wordpress more.
I thinking of moving over.....

I am now here!!!

Hand in my pocket


I feel drunk but I'm sober
I'm young and I'm underpaid
I'm tired but I'm working, yeah!
I care but I'm restless
I'm here but I'm really gone
I'm wrong and I'm sorry, baby!

What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be quite alright
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is flicking a cigarette
-Alanis Morissette

Just Do It


This is for all of us who think that life is redundant.
The following lines were written by a kid. It was then used by Nike for its ad campaign.

"Too often we are scared.
Scared of what we may not be able to do.
Scared of what people might think if we tried.
We let our fears stand
in the way of our hopes.
We say no
when we want to say yes.
We sit quietly,
when we want to scream.
And we shout with others
when we should keep our mouths shut.

After all,
We do only go around once.
There's really no time to be afraid.

So stop. Risk it.

Try something you have never tried.
Enter a triathlon.
Write a letter to the editor.
Demand a raise.
Go, climb the volcano.
Call winners at the toughest court.
Throw away your television.
Bicycle around your country.
Try bobsledding.
Try baby sitting.
Try anything.
Speak out against the designated hitter.
Travel to a country
where you don't speak the language.
Patent something.
Call her.
You have nothing to lose
and everything, everything,
everything to gain.
Just do it."



Off I went to hyderabad
My journey, I will not lecture
But for all the dear readers
I will surely post a picture.

Doodle doodle


Science is sacred, Technology is not.
Science expands understanding. Technology now is basically concerned with exploitation.

You are Faculty!!


"Why can't you come like this everyday?"
My collegue was looking at me with new found respect and appreciation. I had just received my clothes, washed and neatly pressed from the dhobi. So instead of the usual T-shirt and worn out trousers, I was now wearing a dazzling while shirt neatly tucked inside formal cream trousers which was held in place by a black leather belt with a sleek mobile case attached to it.

Its not that I dont like wearing formals, or that I am rebel who is silently protesting against the so called polished folks. My affinity to T-shirts come from the fact that they can be easily washed and there is no need to iron them. Surely, I like to be neatly dressed all the time, but I don't want to put a lot of effort into that.
You see, one dhobi for 3 hostels will always be part of the unbalanced equation of getting clean clothes back on time. He had already misplaced two of my bedsheets and the last time I gave my clothes, I had to wait for ages to get it back. I pleaded with him, scolded him, openly cried in front of him with no shame, but his attitude was as hard as the borewell water he was using to wash clothes. It was only when I threatened to kidnap his son that he returned my clothes.

So here I am in my clothes holding back tears of joy, and this dude here is asking me to come like this everyday. And the reason??? Because I am faculty now. Ever since I joined, I have been hearing this.
"You should not do this. You are a faculty now."
"Try to inhale much and exhale only little. You are a faculty now."
I tried, it was not easy. "I will suffocate to death."
"If you die, they will bury you in the faculty section."

This whole business was driving me nuts until I came across a reebok ad which said
"I am what I am"
I don't know why but this went straight to my heart. I found it to be so interesting that I made it my personal motto. Of course I am a faculty now, but I am Shiv first. This subtle truth flowed through me as rain in the desert and I am peaceful again.

Osho once said: "You can be creative only if you are playful."




I wish I was an alien at home behind the sun
I wish I was the souvenier you kept your house key on
I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good
I wish I was a full moon shining off a camaro's hood......
--Ed Vedder

I am the Saaar


I did it finally. I knew it would finally come to this and I did it. I enrolled myself as a research associate in my department.
And this gesture of foolish bravery will surely demand a change in life style. First I must ensure that I NEVER shave my beard, not let my grandmother convince me to do it. When I look at the "long" history of my department, I have come to the conclusion that only people with beards got successful results for their projects. Now I am not sure if I will be an exception in that case, but I pray each day that the laws of co-incidences always hold in my favour.

I will have to remember to stop combing my hair, not that there's much of it left, thanks to the water from the water "treatment" plant. I will have to carefully fold my shirts to have random creases, and then walk around writing down formulas in the air. Since we have a formal dress code and noise levels in the halls are to be kept frustratingly low, I dont think I can run around like Archimedis yelling "Eureka". I guess I will have to resort to something else.

What sets me apart from the other research scholars who have joined latelty is the fact that I will have to take classes for the first year MTechs in my department. To those of you who think that it is a noble chance to impart and share knowledge, let me draw your attention to the fact that I will no longer be allowed the simple pleasures of playing the guitar in lab and singing the likes of the "bulb" song.

All non-student communities can now take some time to sympathise with me. All student commumities can tremble in fear when they hear my song:

Behold this card, the red tag cries out
I am the Saar, I am the Saar
Bow to me, I make this loud
I am the rice in your sambar

Bow to me and you shall pass
All my tests, numerous they are
Laugh I will at your assignment code
For I am the Java in your .jar

A lifetime that lasted 2 years



How do you define time? Does it have anything to do with semesters and courses. Is it about timetables and schedules. I have read somewhere that life is measured by the moments that take your breath away. So if I can count those moments (excluding the ones when I saw the question papers during each semester) I think I have lived a lifetime in 2 years.

MTech is over.
All my classmates have left. All that remain are empty rooms and lot of memories. Each time I pass T53 and T55, I force myself to look away. Soon they will have new occupants. Rooms in the PG hostel, unlike me, must be so used to seeing different people each time.

MTech is over.
The rows in the lab beside me are empty. The computer on the far right is shutdown.
Browsing will never be the same again. Never again will the sounds of Umbai emerge from the 7.1 surround. There will be no editing sessions in VideoStudio.

MTech is over.
So are the trips to Coimbaotore/Palakkad in a black esteem. The parking space near the dusty recycling center is empty. There will no longer be frequent drives to the car wash garage. Never again will it go different restaurents with three friends, and never again will it take them to KG Hospital to spend sleepless nights.

MTech is over.
Everybody left their seperate ways. The industry will soon strangle these memories with projects and deadlines. Soon everybody will be in different parts of the world.
As I write this, by sheer co-incidence, my winamp shifts to another song

Varuvanillarumee vijanamameevazhi-
-kkariyaam athennalumennum
Padivaathilolam chennakalathavazhiyake
Mizhipaaki nilkarundallo
Mizhipaaki nilkarundallo

Varummennu chollippirinjupoyillarum
Ariyam athennalumennum
Pathivaayi njaanente padivathilenthino
Pakuthiye chaararullo


For the good of the Game?



If justice was not blind, if the referees were sincere to the game rather than to a team, if FIFA really stands for fair play and for the good of the game, it would have been a long haired Argentine in jersey number 3 known to the world as Juan Pablo Sorin who would have lifted the world cup on July 9th.


However, since we have already seen that fair play does not really exist in practice, since the beauty of the game has no place in a stadium full of fascists, O Argentina, the true believers of the game will consider this world cup as your alms to the world.


Conquering Sunday


"I am feeling bored. What plans for today?" Amar was looking really desperate.
"Well" I said, "We can go for a walk".
"Cool!! Where ??"
"Hmm.. I know this small hill around Ettimadai. I am not sure if we can climb it, but we can sure give it a try."
Amar is my junior. He is a chemical engineer from Pune and loves to go trekking. As with the case with most students from North India, he gets frustrated with spending weekends in the campus.

So off we went, along with a small group of friends to climb a small mountain which we now call "Hill Sunday".
The initial climb was fun.

Then came the difficult part, where you really had to be careful on the rocks. But Amar was having no problem at all.

Although I can't say the same for Ravi

Reaching halfway, we paused for a short break. Amar looked down and saw the plains that extended to Kerala. He turned to me
"Maharashtra is blessed with many forts. It has a lot of hills and its fun to climb.
Look at Kerala, its all plains. Its soo plaiinnn....."
"Yeah" I replied. "We are blessed with an International Airport. So we get to have lot of planes."
I don't know why, but that was the end of our conversation. Everybody soon started climbing away. It must have been something I said.

Prabeesh was the first to reach the top.

Soon all of us got to the top of the hill. Surprisingly, none of us were tired. But we were all happy. Everything looked so beautiful from top. Our college buiding was a tiny spec. All around us were paddy fields and coconut groves. The only thing that I missed was a camera. All photos were taken with a mobile camera. So it all came in poor quality.

The view was breathtaking. It kind of reminds me of what Amma used to say, when your consciousness rise above the mundane things in life, everything looks beautiful; even a boring Sunday.


Retouching Karizma





Karizma - Digital Zooming



This photo reminds me of two things, Sojish and a song called Speed Demon.

Speed Demon
Speedin' On The Freeway
Gotta Get The Leadway

Speed Demon
Doin' It On The Highway
Gotta Have It My Way

Speed Demon
Mind Is Like A Compass
I'm Stoppin' At Nothin'

Speed Demon
Pull Over Boy And
Get Your Ticket Right . . .

The original picture was taken by my classmate. Click on the picture for more details.

Two More Months



Saraswati is the Goddess of wisdom, bestower of supreme knowledge. This beautiful statue sits in the front of my university. I gaze at it from time to time in an attempt to invoke divine intervention towards completing my main project. Time is running short.

When I got admission for Mtech, my folks were thrilled.
"Go and explore the frontiers of knowledge. May your ignorance recede in pursuit of higher learning." They blessed me.

After 2 years, the only thing that receded was my hair line. Damn this Tamil Nadu bore-well water !!

Neelambuja nayane



"May your far-reaching eyes—which are only slightly open like a blue lotus just beginning to bloom—bathe even a worthless, far-removed one like me in your grace. Just as the cooling rays of the moon fall equally on the mansion and the wilderness, it will incur you no loss, O Shive, but this person will indeed become blessed."
—Soundarya Lahari, 57

SFC: Shiv Fan Club


"We were staying back just to hear you sing". She caught me totally offgaurd with this remark. I tried to hide my embaressment and managed a feeble "Ohh!!"
"Its a pity you did not sing." She was referring to the bhajan conducted in the ashram on behalf of Shivarathri celebrations.

Towards the closing session of the bhajans, I thought I would sit in the corner of the stage with the singers, as they were my friends. But as soon as I got on stage, I noticed a small group come and occupy the front row. Somehow I knew that they wanted me to sing.

Yeah I've had my share of experiences with singing on stage. Some were very pleasent and I wish I could take some pill to forget some other experiences. The shows with our college band "Gasoline" were always memorable. Rafeeq fuming away on the lead guitar, Nambolz doing a Lars Ulrich on the drums, and me trying hard to carry the heavy bass guitar with a cheap plastic rope for support, while trying to remember the next line of the song. During the final show, all of us were pretty excited and for some reason beyond our understanding, the audience were really enjoying and cheering us. The crowd was driving me over the edge. Towards the end of the show, I shouted "THANK YOU, GOOD NIGHT BABYYYY" over and over again, until some people from the audience decided it was really time to say good night to Shiv. They carried me off stage along with the rest of the band.

Then there was this rock show competition in Cochin University of Science and Technology. There was this group who came all the way from some remote place. We asked them the name of the college and they replied
"We are from Guruvayurappan College". I could'nt help laughing.
I could imagine the speakers blaring "Judges please note, next rock band on stage is Guruvayurappan College"
Somehow the idea that there is a rock band from a college named as Guruvayurappan College was smashing my funny bone to pieces. But that silly grin was soon wiped off my face when I saw the band do a practice session. While we were planning to do some soft songs, these guys were blasting away with material that would rock the devil himself. The competition was over for us soon. We exited through the back stage, and we did not wait to listen to the others.

Life in Poornam was different. I used to break into songs at the drop of a hat. I tried to make the "shift weary" techs understand that music is a really powerful phenomenon. Pretty soon, I was forced to confine its power to the small limits of the lonely training room.

And so when this lady in her late sixties came and told me that she and the other ladies, also in their sixties had come just to hear me sing, I had every right to be shaken. But since I am a gentleman, I assured them that I would oblige them with a bhajan anytime they wanted.

I had always imagined myself singing in front of a woodstock audience with people shouting, waving their hands and taking over the chorus at times. So what if I can't sing at Woodstock, I will always have a group of grandmothers cheering for me.

Why change ISO Settings.


"Whats with the ISO stuff on all the cameras?" This was a casual question directed to nobody. Rafeeq, Amol and I were toying around with a Canon A95 when this question came up. "Well" I replied "Its something to do with light sensitivity. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the camera becomes to light.""Then why bother to keep ISO 50, 100, 200 on the camera instead of simply ISO 200."We are a bunch of super smart kids. We can come up with smart questions all the time."I guess it has something to do with noise. Higher ISO introduces a lot more niose." Amol replied. We are a bunch of smart kids who can come up with smart answers to smart questions."If higher ISO signifies higher sensitivity to light, then naturally you must have lower noise." I already told you that we were were a bunch of smart kids.This final question created a rare silence among us. A silence introduced by deep introspection.So what really is this ISO.ISO, which stands for International Standards Organisation (formerly expressed as ASA: ) is basically a numbering system that expresses the speed of photographic negative materials. Now that the techno geeks are satisfied with the definition, lets put it in another way. ISO basically tells you how sensitive your film(or sensor, if you are using a digital camera) is, to light. A higher ISO signifies a higher sensitivity to light whereas a lower ISO signifies a low light sensitivity.More Explanation: A high ISO like ISO 3200 makes sure that you get a clear photo in low light conditions, whereas a low ISO like ISO 100 requires you to have a LOT more light for a sharp and clear photo. In fact, ISO 3200 films are used for photography in near darkness. Why give so many ISO optionsISO affects exposure. The two basic things that control exposure are 1. Shutter speed2. Aperture size.The ISO settings affect this shutter speed/aperature combinations so as to decide the exposure.More Explanation: You are about to take a very nice photograph, but your camera says that there is no enough light for a decent exposure. To make things worse, lets say you don't have a flash or a tripod to help you. This is where ISO comes handy. Just increase the ISO settings, and you are good to go. Now if you are wondering as to why that happened, allow me to explain:Doubling your ISO settings will double the sensitivity of the film (or sensor, in case of a digital camera) to light.Switch to ISO 200 and you will only need half the light at ISO 100 for a clear picture. ISO 400 will require only a quarter of light that ISO 100 requires. Pretty cool huh.So why use low ISO anyways?Just one answer: NOISE !!!! Whether its a film camera, or a digital camera, higher ISO settings will introduce a lot more noise in the picture.In high speed films, there are more layers of silver halide. This tends to make the light sensitive grains of silver halide more noticable. Now you know why some pictures look grainy. In case of a digital camera, this effect is in terms of random pixels of color.However, at times, you can use the noise introduced by higher ISO to give a mood or atmosphere to your images; especially black and whites.When to change ISO1.Clear hand held photos.When you dont have a flash, or a tripod handy, simply increase the ISO for to get a nice and clean picture. Higher ISO settings ensure higher shutter speeds thus minimizing the risk of camera shake.2.Adding to mood.At times "graininess" can contribute to adding an atmosphere or quality to black and white images. But you can also do that while post processing.3.Motion ShotsWhen you are taking shots that r[...]

Post Processing



And yet, during those brief moments of elevated consciousness that life presents occasionally, I realise that there are more wonderful things in this world than Photoshop, Picasa and Gimp.

Along the corridors of dusk...



Irulil orekantha veethiyil enthino
Ithuvare ninne njan kaathirunnu
Ini nee varillennarijittum eekanayi
Verute njan aareyo kaathirunnu

Ivide prateekshayum swapnangalum verum
Kanikalayi teeratha pookal maatrum
Maduravum mundirichaarum manasinte
Kshanika vikaaranubhooti maatram.

Ini nee varillennarijittum eekanayi
Verute njan aareyo kaathirunnu

A trip to Todupuza


It all started when this tall dude from B'lore called me one day and said "Lets drive to Todupuzha." Apparently, this dude's sister was getting married, and he had invited us, not for the wedding mind you, but to watch him wear a semi-translucent mundu for the occasion. I have to admit, I had seen a lot of worse things in my short life span, but this would top it all. Also, it has been a long time since I had seen my old friends(with or without mundu) and I have always fancied long drives. And so off we went in Amol's car, the three of us, Amol, Bachchan and myself.The idea was, as usual, start early - drive slowly - stop at as many chaya kadas (those small places with boards that say "Hotel Teashop") as you can - and arrive in time for lunch. And as usual, things did not go as planned. We started our journey quite late. There always seem to be these last minute technical problems, like the alarm magically fails, careless parent forgets to wake up responsible child on time, you know, stuff like that.Anyways, by about half past eight, we are on the road and cruising to todupuzha. Amol was in his customary T-shirt and jeans, while Bachchan was sporting a bright red shirt and long curly hair kept barely in place by copious amout on some gel which, quite strangely, reminded me of Venus Williams during Wimbledon press conference. Half an hour drive through the beautiful country side and we stopped for our first cup of tea. I have always found chaya kadas to be very interesting places. They are usually small, filled with the local crowd busy with discussions on a wide range of topics from "Why did Baiju cross the road.." to "Was Leader Karunakaran really double crossed." Chaya kadaas are also a good place to savor typical kerala snacks like bonda, pazham pori, and parippu vada. Usually, there will be a common menu card on the wall that lists these items and their prices: We sat there for some time, enjoying the tea and reading the local newspaper.Bachchan took over the wheel from here and we started on our way to Todupuzha. Nothing much happened during that drive. We were just enjoying our own company, cracking jokes, with Bachchan trying to improvise on them until it made us sick and we asked him to pull over.We reached todupuzha by noon and soon joined the rest of the gang from Blore. Boy, nothing had changed, except of course the bellies. It was time for the muhurtham now, and so off we went. The marriage function was according to the custom hindu rituals. We upheld the name of ABBAS by sitting in the back row yet again.What followed was the much awaited sadya. And how we ate. We had to sit for an extra five minutes for the food to settle down, so as to get up to wash our hands. When the wedding photographer came over to our side, I forced him to take another photo cause I had payasam all over my beard. As there was some more time for the B'lore dudes to board the bus, we decided to take a dip in the river. It was there that Rafeeq actually swam a few micrometers. The water was green, cool and very refreshing. I took some pictures of the river and also of BNDs (Butt Naked Dudes) in it. However, I am forced not to post those pics in order to protect the identities of all those pot-bellies. Everything that has a begining, has an end. Finally it was time for all of us to leave. The Good byes were quick but they contained a lot more than words. Afterall, time was never on our side. Just a few years back, all of us shared the same life, shared the same acc[...]

I forgot to take a Tripod



There was no tripod, but there was lot of trucks parked beside the road.
So I kept my camera on the side of a truck and tried to take some pics of Coimbatore night life.



Every minute Zen


Amma always reminds all who come to Her to be aware of each moment. Amma compares living in this world as to sitting in an exam hall and writing the exam. You should be really alert. And when the bell rings, you have to leave. Amma's examples are always very simple. Sometimes they are so simple that we miss the whole point. But the great masters explain things in a lot of different ways.

Zen students are with their masters at least two years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wodden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: "I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs."

Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in's pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.

Let the sleeping dogs lie



Dogs don't have to go to class
They can sleep all day and night
They don't have to take gate pass
To go out of campus for a bite

Dogs don't have to take exams
Nor sit in classes bored
Dogs don't get stuck in traffic jams
When they go to Coimbatore

Dogs dont have to take seminars
With professors sly and mean
Dogs don't have to go to war
With staff in the canteen

Everybody just love dogs
They are so nice and cute
But the reason that I love dogs
Is they just dont give a hoot