Monday, November 30, 2009

The things that make Saurabh

PS - This is probably one of my highly personal post and is time sensitive - it will take me 3-4 days to realize that it is too personal to be in public and I might then make it private.

So now that I am married for 2 years, I have discovered properties of Saurabh that I didn't know existed. Here is a list:

1) Making 4 cups of tea every morning and drinking only half a cup.

2) Buying a container of curd and eating it all away alone and then claiming "Oh my God! We finish off one dubba of curd everyday".

3) Invariably, atleast once a week finding a unique place of losing his specs/wallet/discharged phone/ ipod and frantically searching for it and in the process opening every drawer of the house. Finally almost sherlock homes type theorizing where it could be found - "Last I saw the phone was when i was having dinner then I went to bed, but it is neither on the bed nor on the side table which means that it has fallen behind the immovable side table." And lo and behold - that's where it is found.

4) On weekends after lunch, he claims "You feed me rice! I will goto gym now". He dresses up for gym and while I sit in one room assuming that he has left for gym after 30 minutes, I find him lying on the guest bedroom reading a book and then he looks at me with question mark on his face.

5) He is still shy of beautiful girls. Prefers to walk down 14th floors rather than share a lift with a beautiful lady alone.

6) "Come pick me from office. I am waiting." You rush to his office and he never comes out of his office atleast for 30 minutes. But in the morning when he has to leave at 7:30. He rushes out at 7:25.

7)"I will arrange my cupboard. Don't let the maid touch it. Don't let the maid touch it. Don't let the maid touch it" - he says. Not knowing that after Priya had arranged it once, I secretly arrange his casuals every week and he believes his clean cupboard is totally his doing.

8) Gets up at 6 am even on Sundays (to make his tea and sit on his computer). Whenever I check the computer (apart from stratfor) the youtube video with movie "99"-part 6 is open. Neither gmail nor facebook is open.

9) There is a sexy band playing outside the house and food festival that we can see from the bedroom window (bandrafest). Saurabh still prefers to sit at home read his book watch one of the three movies: 99 or departed or hangover.

10) Even if it is not a non-stick, his omelettes don't break.

11) Regardless of number of guests in the house, at 10 pm he manages to sneak into one of the beds and fall asleep. He has been found asleep with a book, on the laptop and on the sofa.

12) On seeing this list he would say "kya bakwaas hai".

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cognitive Science, genetic engineering, iWife and 2012

Recently was discussing with my brother - what is the next big thing in the world of technology and we felt it was cognitive science. Earlier it was Internet and Computer Science - a wave that our parent's generations witnessed, next someone speculated genetic engineering - the progress there is slow and steady and once we make one big breakthrough then there will be no looking back. It can be used to solve lots of diseases and will revolutionize medical sciences, change our life spans. Also as my uncle says - we might start having genetically engineered children - which will initially face lots of moral opposition but over generations would gain acceptance much like (and much faster than) we started accepting gays.

The other big area where we see lots of work happening is cognitive science (cognition means "to know", common used form is recognition) where millions of dollars are being spend on making machine intelligent like humans. A very interesting quote I read somewhere that "An average general intelligence is much difficult to program than programming chess expert". It referred to the computer program that defeated the Chess champion Gary Kaspurov and having dabbled in machine learning myself, I can vouch for that statement. When I was in IIT doing my masters, in the second semester, majority of my courses were around machine learning - 3 out of 4 in the second semester- we had knowledge discovery and machine learning and computation brain. The small projects we did - like programming neural nets and genetic algorithms were very alluring and lots of fun. I still remember my favorite code being "Game of Kalah" that I did way back in my engg. days for a software competition where the computer could play smarter than me even though I wrote that code, the computer could beat me, the creator of the code.

I think in the area of cognitive science we have whetted our appetite enough and there are lots of people very very keen to know how much artificial intelligence will evolve in our lifetime. This is again something that will revolutionize our lives.

My short fiction( had a concept of iWife - customized wife coming from this fascination. And a number of people asked me - shouldn't there be iHusbands too :).

So on one hand we will have genetic engineering which will have customized human beings and on other hand we will have development in cognitive sciences where machines will be more free-spirited and human like.

It will be interesting to see who will end where. I hope we survive 2012 to witness this ;).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bonus of the day

Saurabh can cook. He made bhurji for me (with garlic???) but it came out well.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."- Anais Nin( courtesy Sumit's status message)

I was advised bed rest but I still went to college. Going to college was a bad decision considering the amount of fever I have gotten upon myself. But I read about dengue and it talks about phase 2 where one gets fever after a day of feeling normal. So maybe it is my phase 2 and it just co-incided with my going to college.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"war and peace" by Leo Tolstoy

best part of dengue fever is being able to read this classic with minimum intervention from the outside world...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mahatma Gandhi's contribution to India's freedom struggle

A movie was released in Bollywood called Bhagat Singh which was largely anti-Gandhi Many of my friends who saw it said they have no reverence left for Gandhi as he didn't really do anything for freedom struggle.

I recently read two books - one on Essays on History of India by Bhishm and After Tamerlane by John Darwin (both considerably fat history books), and I started understanding and appreciating Gandhi's genius and strategy.

Before we talk about that we need to talk about why Britishers came to India. They/ East India company came basically for trade - spices, salt (there were no fridges then and they used this for preserving meat) and most ofcourse cotton (we and china used to clothe most of the world). Earlier they just wanted to trade with India and it was lucrative enough for them. It so happened that during the revolt of 1857 (which lots of people don't know that 200 british woman and children were killed) after which the Britishers became aggressive in colonizing India. Also britishers wanted to capture China and they had competition from both japan and russia, so India seemed a good base to keep an eye on china. Colonizing India was a huge resource drain on them as they had to bring large troops to India (Swiss canal being under Sweden meant that they had to go all around Africa to come to India). Also India was under several rulers Mughals, Marathas, the Bengal guy. One needed to have force everywhere to control India. So they started building the railways to mobilize the forces and the british army.
Congress that came in earlier didn't really want freedom as that seemed far fetched. They instead wanted an arrangement - something like Canada. Where Britishers rule but the congress governs locally. The congress that time consisted of elite north indian scholars who were mostly hindu. Muslims were not part of them. Gandhi wrote on Hinduism and muslims and his theories had won the hearts of both muslims and hindus especially harijans. At the same time Ottoman empire crashed and lots of muslims in India didn't have a leader to look up to (the muslims were united under the turkey's ruler for a long time - he was their spiritual leader - quite like the Pope). So they started seeing Gandhi as their well-wisher. (A guess of Gandhi that worked and made him extremely valuable to congress).
Well now Gandhiji rejected the idea of British columbia-like setting for India. He wanted full freedom. At the same time spinning wheel was invented in the west and it could produce cloth 200 times faster than the indian craftsmen and britishers didn't want cotton from India anymore. So to even out the expenses of having India as colony they started levying huge taxes (remember Lagaan movie). They also started exerting cultural supremacy where there was stress on Indians wearing the clothes made in their factories.
Gandhiji felt that it is difficult to beat them by force but very easy to beat them by making India non-lucrative for them. So he started his non-cooperation movement. He resisted the concept of India and withheld Panchayati raaj, he encouraged charkha to protect the local industry and created ressitance against the foreign clothes that britishers wanted to sell to india. He held the dandi march for salt.
At the same time WW-II happened and US in exchange for help asked britisher for all colonies in asia. Britishers gave every colony except india. One of the biggest fears of nehru around that time was that India shouldn't goto America because though america will not colonize it (Roosevolt had taken a moral stand that we will not colonize any country but will control it - a stand that US takes even today), America will take control over trading in India - something that would affect India economically. Anyways, Britishers having lost heavily during war and now, because Gandhiji involved the mass (the other thing that Gandhi was right in formulating was that the masses will bring about the changes and not a handful of people and involved masses using non-violence) and there was non-co-operation to large extent that it became increasingly expensive to sustain india as a colony. Hence britishers left India (ofcourse after a very unfortunate partition whose story i will tell later). So when folks say that without gandhiji we would have gotten freedom. The answer is yes - in 1990s but not so early in 1947. We owe him atleast 50 years of fresh air!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Some words of wisdom from my brother

He is a PhD student at Wisconsin. I loved the third statement for its sheer profoundness.

1) If you've never missed the bus, you are wasting too much time at the bus stop.

2) If you've never missed a paper deadline, then you are doing too much evaluation.

3) If you've never regretted what you said, you are not speaking what you wanna say enough.