Monday, October 11, 2010

"Moral of the story is...

This is an excerpt from an NPR talk show with 2008 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Prof. Martin Chalfie. I found this part of the conversation most interesting:

SIEGEL: And the money - what did you do with the money, the prize?
Prof. CHALFIE: Well, the money is a funny thing. I think people hear about this massive amount of money that people get. It's a very nice sum, and I'm very grateful for it. But there's a number of things that happened to the money. And for my - in my particular case, the exchange rate tanked between the announcement and the distribution. And, of course, it was a prize that was shared with three people.
SIEGEL: Uh-huh.
Prof. CHALFIE: But the lion's share of the prize money, since the Reagan presidency, when the tax codes were changed, has gone to the government. Because before Reagan, the rule was if you won an international prize, you kept the money. It was tax-free. Now, it's taxed. So 50 percent of it went immediately to the city, the state and the federal government. The rest of it is going to help put my daughter through college.
SIEGEL: Yes, there's an interesting premise there that if you win a Nobel Prize, you can pay your daughter's tuition in college today in America.

...if you win a Nobel Prize, you can pay your daughter's tuition in college today in America. "

Oye Bunty Bunty Oye!

Did you ever know that the movie 'Oye Lucky Lucky Oye' is based on this real 'Super Chor' ("chor" ="thief" ) popularly known as Bunty (aka Devender). When I watched this movie the first time, I was aware that the story was inspired by a real burglar, however I got to watch the real Bunty on a popular Indian reality show, 'Bigg Boss 4'. Bigg Boss, for who are not familiar with the show, is the Indian version of the very popular British show called Big Brother. The show is based on the idea of locking up a dozen celebrities in a huge villa and giving them tasks to do. There is obviously evictions every week based on public voting. This show has been one of my all time fav Indian reality show for the psychological factor that is involved in the show. You get to see how celebrities who are always on the silverscreen portraying a different role than their real life (as they say the 'reel' life) succumb to suspicion & belief, hatred & friendship, trust & backstabbing and more in their 3 months stay in the Bigg Boss' villa. Life in the villa for these celebrities pretty much makes them realize who they really are, their strengths and mostly weaknesses.

Most celebrities, I believe, end up on the show with the hopes to redeem their image that has been scarred due to a recent incident or just by the media. Well, what better opportunity to do so when you have millions of viewers watching and listening your entire stay at the villa. This was probably the big reason why Bunty entered the show too! It is alleged that Bunty was a small time thief in Delhi who made big news because of his nation-wide burglary acts. He is mostly popular becuase he has spent some jail-time but never been caught red- in the over 500 cases against him. Bunty appeared be at the show to redeem his image as a 'Super Chor', which was furthered by the hit movie 'Oye Lucky...', however that did not seem to be the case completely. He did not socialize with the rest of the particiapants and seemed to be an easy target for others (for voting him out). On the second day of the show, Bunty was punished for not following certain voting rules and that aggravated the silent Bunty. He did not stop swearing at the cameras or trying to exit the villa until he was eventually sent out of the show. This is the earliest eliminations I think in the 4 seasons of the show. During this period of turmoil, Bunty kept yelling 'Maine bola tha..Maine bola tha in &%^%^ ko ki muje nahin aana hai' (I did tell these %$%^^$^% that I did wanna be on the show).

Now, I thought why did such a petty thief want to be on a show that mostly showcases celebs who are mostly looking for attention and further promotion on media. Did he really want to be on the show or was he forced by the makers convincing him about public redemption. Whatever it was, one thing was clear -he never knew what the rules of the show/game were. He was utterly 'clueless'!

BTW, the show is hosted by our Mr. Chulbul Pandey (Dabangg) or Salman Khan.

More on Bigg Boss:

More on Bunty Ustaad:

Jai Hind!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cosmos -1980 (Carl Sagan)

"The choice is with us still, but the civilization now in jeopardy is all humanity. As the ancient myth makers knew, we are children equally of the earth and the sky. In our tenure of this planet we've accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage — propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders — all of which puts our survival in some doubt. But we've also acquired compassion for others, love for our children and desire to learn from history and experience, and a great soaring passionate intelligence — the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity. Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of the small planet Earth. But up there in the immensity of the Cosmos, an inescapable perspective awaits us. There are not yet any obvious signs of extraterrestrial intelligence and this makes us wonder whether civilizations like ours always rush implacably, headlong, toward self-destruction. National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars. "

Random thoughts 1....

Why is that we know what is right or wrong? How do we develop conscience? What determines our ideas, thoughts and feelings? These are some of the million philosophical questions that jump in my mind when I think of how we make decisions in life and how we choose our path. Why is that my principles and moral values are weaker than his? Or is 'weaker' the right thing to say because who decides what are the 'right' principles and values that we all need to follow. When I dare to taste some beef for I believe that 'when I have eaten a chicken, why spare the beef', why is it held against me by some who strongly believe in Hinduism. Who decided what the religion is and will be? When human beings evolved into what they are, there was propbably no religion, no god, no evil. All they cared about was eat, sleep and procreate. These are the basic actions for existence among all animals and thats what human begins were too. Then what made us to differentiate ourselves from animals? Why did we choose to become what we are today? Do you think lions, tigers or even consider the primates that are closest to us according to Darwinian's idea have changed from what they were when we were cavemen?
I think what makes us different all the animals and why we are here todays is because we believe. We believed we are more powerful than other creatures on Earth, we believed we have someone with superpower up there, some of us believe in not believing this belief, we believe that we need to have principles and values in life either our own or those from our religion, we believe in many other such beliefs that were made by us. Can we ever give up living based on our beliefs and live by the truth?

You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe. - Carl Sagan

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Life of a Joker (A tribute to Heath)

Away I want to wander

Nowhere I wish to reach

But just that eternity

Where nothingness has a meaning

I have learnt to live now

Live like that clown show

Make others happy and more

With a smile painted on my face


Golden towers of salt before me

Lined up and posing for all to see

I have seen such a thing never

Dark caverns have owned these forever

Some I see on the ground and some above

Breeze on the water below and I say 'Wow!'

There are none stacked on ground

Thats what I just found

"Its the relfection of the above

On the still pond, my love!"

Here she goes clicking at them

Sparkling and shiny, each like a gem

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stars shining bright above me...

"Hey Guys! You should come out and check out the Milkyway. I can see it so clearly.. its just beautiful", said Aishwarya who came running from the balcony of our lake house. "Could someone please switch off all the lights in the room? I can see the stars better then" and she looked around the room to find the switches for the 3 lamps in the room. I was puzzled when she said Milkyway. "Are you crazy? How can you see our galaxy from here? I think you are confusing it for something else". For a moment I was so sure of what I had said, but the very next moment I began to question my awareness when Jerry said "Yes, the Milkyway is visible from here!" I rushed to the balcony, dazed and confused as to what they meant; I looked up at the sky and voila!

"The disc of our spiral galaxy is quite visible as nebulae in the clear night sky especially on a no moon day. You can see all the stars are concentrated along this axis of the disc and few stars out lie around the axis..." went on Aishwarya, who sounded like a Wikipedia on the tape.

I kept looking at it awestruck; I just could not believe what I could see. The white dusty band of luminescence stretched from the horizon over my head. Upon glaring at them a little longer I could look through the haze a million twinkles along the band. I have never seen anything like this with my naked eye! "You can never see this in our smog covered city skies", said Jerry, who had been for sometime now looking at me gaping at this beautiful scene. "I used to watch this sky back home in Texas when I went fishing with my Dad". Finally, when my senses were done tripping, I spoke. "I never knew you could see the galaxy disc like this from the earth. I always wondered how Galileo figured out that we were in such a galaxy when they had no technology during his times. I wish I had my tripod to take a clip of what I can see right now." Seeing me feel hopeless, Aishwarya assured that her colleague was a photographer who had a few clicks of the Milkyway and she will share them with me. I could not get my eyes off this ecstatic view, so I pulled up a recline chair and relaxed myself on it. The panoramic view of the night sky, the sparkling stars, the glimmering lake and the unforgettable nebulous disc all stood right in front of me like a painting on a gigantic canvas. Jerry, on the chair next to me, strung his Eukelele and sang….

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me…………


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making 'sports' conversations at work...

I have always felt it quite difficult to make small conversations with colleagues or people around at work when it comes to 'American sports'. Speaking about my perils of embarrassment, it grinds my gears when I cannot involve myself in a group talk about a NY Yankees' game the last weekend or I have to admit that I do NOT follow NBA- not even the Celtics games. I also envy folks who can make 'intelligent' conversations with their bosses about game philosophy, history records and their fanaticism - I strongly believe bosses build favoritism towards them. For a guy like me who always believes in being on the good cards of friends, colleagues and relatives, I feel disheartened when it comes to making 'sports' conversations among them.
I have always been an avid fan of sports, all kind of them actually. However, I have preferred learning and playing them to watching or following them (with exception to cricket). I have always wondered why I cantfind time to watch some NFL or NBA over the weekend. I have the sports channels, I have a 50inch HDTV and I also have Sunday mornings available for leisure. Maybe I need to make a more conscious decision in the begnning of the week about making 'watching the Sunday game' a part of my weekend routine. May be I should atleast follow the scores and highlights on Or, may be atleast get updates from a friend who understands my situation. Ah, I could then impress my boss and colleagues with all the amazing game statistics I have imbibed myself with. And may be then I could prove everyone that I am a 'typical guy' who follows sports and enjoys talking about it. Hmm, may be I will just be myself....