Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kiwi Travelogue

Hundreds of years ago groups of seafaring, adventure-loving Polynesian explorers set sail in canoes (or wakas, as they called them) and discovered an uninhabited group of islands in the South Pacific. They became the first settlers in the lush and green wonderland full of exotic birdlife. Many of them perished in the cold. But then they learned to heat up rocks to keep themselves warm at night, make tools out of sea shells, and make warm clothing from flax fiber, feathers, and fur. They carved out a niche for themselves in what they named Aotearoa, or the land of the white cloud, a place that was renamed New Zealand by the Dutch in the 17th century. Today, more than 75% of New Zealand's inhabitants live in the North Island. The South Island, to a large extent, continues to be nature's sanctum full of forests, mountains, volcanoes, lakes, fjords, glaciers, and more. In this travelogue, I will share my experiences as I traveled across the North Island from Auckland to Wellington and back.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Glimpses of Boston

Raindrops on my face, gentle and refreshing - Boston welcomed us thus! I was there attending ISBI '09. The old-style streetlights, the pretty churches, the breezy banks of the Charles - I loved it all - the looks and the feel! Harvard Square was particularly fascinating - warm and busy, with a wealth of bookstores.
The rains haunted us every now and then. I loved it because it got me reminiscent me of Calcutta monsoons, especially as we scampered toward the T (local subway) hiding underneath umbrellas. :-) And when we were atop the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower for the conference reception, thanks to the thick clouds, we completely missed the city view! Alas, the caprices of Boston weather!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Farm Tour

Last Sunday, we went on a cook-out tour to Tanaka farms, a treasure trove of the finest seasonal vegetables. We strolled through stretches of farmland picking veggies (spinach, cilantro, beans, carrots, radish, squash, and delicious maui onions) and then washed and chopped them ourselves and finally got them grilled (along with some tofu).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seal Wars: The Unsolved Indus Valley Mystery

Since the accidental discovery of the lost world of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, we have found ourselves beset by countless unanswered questions: Who were the people? Where did they come from? What language did they speak? Where did they disappear? Did they have anything to do with the Aryans? Some of these answers, if not all, can be hoped to be found by deciphering the numerous seals with engraved hieroglyphics excavated from the Indus Valley ruins. About 6 years back, a team of linguists/historians came up with the somewhat disappointing conclusion that the symbols did not represent any language at all and were merely a part of a "nonlinguistic sign system." Today, however, the media is abuzz with the work of Rao et al, which recently appeared in Science, where the team has sought mathematical justification based on an information theoretic approach to support their hypothesis that the Indus Valley hieroglyphics indeed represent a natural language!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Hummingbird

A hummingbird came hovering near my window -
Cheerful, sprightly, free from cares and woes.
Enthralling me with merry midair antics,
He cured me of my Monday morning blues.

He spun and dove and smoothly somersaulted
With tremendous poise and figure-skating grace.
He finished with a bow so picture-perfect
As a disarming smile fleeted across his face.

He serenaded from outside my window.
Across the glass, I watched him pantomime.
It struck a dulcet chord in my heart that bred
The most perfect melody, meter, and rhyme.

Infected by the carefree, happy spirit
I looked into those inconspicuous eyes -
It sent me swirling down a magical vortex
Of glee, consternation, and surprise.

Suddenly I had learned to defy gravity.
Like my avian friend I too began to soar.
The pangs of a cold, humdrum existence
Seemed to afflict my humbled self no more.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Snapshots from the Trail

One of the things I love most about L.A. is that you don't have to travel too far to remind yourself how beautiful nature can be. Here are some snapshots from my hike on the Temescal Canyon Trail this morning. The arduous climb uphill and the never-ending walk back along Sunset Blvd. (phew!!) were made worthwhile by the splendid views of the Pacific, the gorgeous flora, and finally the delectable desi food after the hike. :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Ultimate Expressionist

Presenting... a fountainhead of full-blast entertainment, a bottomless reservoir of energy, and, of course, the coolest nephew ever... the immensely adorable Pogo!