Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Bhai!

Today (Oct 28) is my elder brother's birthday.

All through my childhood I have drawn guidance [and many punches and kicks :) ] from him, whether on nuclear reactions in school (he taught me about fission when I was in 5th/6th grade, since he was in 11th/12th), computers (he installed Red Hat Linux 6.0 on my box back in high school), or girl-matters (<no disclosable details here ;) >).

So bhai, as you chill out in Atlanta, and perhaps go Rock Climbing in Atlanta after a hard day of software-architechting, keep this song in mind....


P.S. He will be here in Paris for a week from Nov 28. yay!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Diwali

Obama Style

Bollywood style

and INRIA Style (click here to see whole album)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Inspired by a 16-yr old

I was pointed to a BBC story this morning by @ShashiTharoor, and was immensely moved by it. Wanted to blog about it, but was kept from it by work.

I would like to tell the story by quotes from the article itself:
[16 year old]Babar Ali's day starts early. He wakes, pitches in with the household chores, then jumps on an auto-rickshaw which takes him part of the 10km (six mile) ride to the Raj Govinda school. The last couple of kilometres he has to walk.

The school is the best in this part of West Bengal. There are hundreds of students, boys and girls. The classrooms are neat, if bare. But there are desks, chairs, a blackboard, and the teachers are all dedicated and well-qualified.

As the class 12 roll-call is taken, Babar Ali is seated in the middle in the front row. He's a tall, slim, gangly teenager, studious and smart in his blue and white uniform. He takes his notes carefully. He is the model student.

Babar Ali is the first member of his family ever to get a proper education.

So far so good. Lucky kid from poor family is able to raise enough money to pay for the transport costs (~1800 Rupees a year). Wants to study. OK. Heartwarming, but what is the big deal about this?

Well, this is.[emphasis mine]
The minute his lessons are over at Raj Govinda school, Babar Ali doesn't stop to play, he heads off to share what he's learnt with other children from his village.

At four o'clock every afternoon after Babar Ali gets back to his family home a bell summons children to his house. They flood through the gate into the yard behind his house, where Babar Ali now acts as headmaster of his own, unofficial school.

Lined up in his back yard the children sing the national anthem. Standing on a podium, Babar Ali lectures them about discipline, then study begins.

Babar Ali gives lessons just the way he has heard them from his teachers. Some children are seated in the mud, others on rickety benches under a rough, homemade shelter. The family chickens scratch around nearby. In every corner of the yard are groups of children studying hard.

Babar Ali was just nine when he began teaching a few friends as a game. They were all eager to know what he learnt in school every morning and he liked playing at being their teacher.

Now his afternoon school has 800 students, all from poor families, all taught for free. Most of the girls come here after working, like Chumki, as domestic helps in the village, and the boys after they have finished their day's work labouring in the fields.

800 students!! Holy Fscking crap!

The article goes on to say that there are a total of 10 teachers there now, all students at other schools or colleges, all voluntarily contributing their time.

The article also says that these kids do not have a roof to study under, so when it rains, classes stop.

But unlike (you and) me who was happy when school was off due to rains, these kids are surmounting HUGE odds to study, and to teach.

Seriously, read the article. There are videos there too.

Oh, how I wish I was able to take 6 months to a year off to do something like this :-|.

P.S. Another interesting post was made by Abi recently about the new NCERT books, which are making science and maths education more fun and relevant in Indian schools. Good to see some progress there.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Step into my Apartment

Here is a video I took of my apartment when I had moved in, some weeks ago. Finally, with my home internet line working properly, I was able to upload it.

The added coolness comes from the fact that the apartment is on "Boulevard Colbert" ;-)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Good Times

Yesterday was a good day by most counts.

First, the France telecom guys showed up (after their crazy SMS to me two days ago that they will come on the 9th of November at 00:00hrs!).

Turns out that the wire was disconnected in the circuit box outside my apartment. They attached it, and my Internet works! :)

The Second (and perhaps the biggest) piece of news was that my journal paper to the IEEE Transactions on Computers, which was under minor revision, has finally been accepted without any more changes. Now just a week more to upload all the files, and it will be done :).

Thirdly, I realized that neuf now allows free phone calls (using the VoIP phone that comes as part of my DSL plan) to INDIAN LANDLINES also!

Fourthly, I finally installed 64-bit Ubuntu Linux on my new desktop, (pre-assembly picture here) and can properly use its 4GB of RAM and 500GB Harddrive. And yes, portal is running well on it :). See screenshot below.

And the final good news came last night, when I realized that the free channels that come with my IPTV (again, part of my DSL plan), include Zee Music! Finally, auto-playing new bollywood video songs in the background :).

Life, in short, is good.

P.S. Tonight is nuit blanche, and I will be meeting Barman and Dalal from my ITBHU days. More good times :)