Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Song of the Day: A Nice re-use of a folk tune.

Thanks to the free Zing [Zee Music] channel in my French internet box, I saw this song yesterday while preparing dinner:

I especially loved the lyrics, and recommend that you watch it again to pay attention to them. Very jovial. :)

The melody, especially the hook, however, reminded me of a punjabi song I heard a long time ago, whose video had Madhuri Dixit in it. Does anyone here know which song I am talking about?

Update: Found this trailer. Movie looks interesting.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's been Another Year

It was two years ago [26/11/08] that the Mumbai Terror Attacks happened. A lot has been done since then, and a lot more still needs to be done. To prepare for this post, I was reading my own posts from this day in the past years:

Now, I too, like a lot of fellow Indians, want to chide the government for the lack of action since then. After all, Kasab, the lone terrorist we caught alive, is still alive (though sentenced to death, but appeals are still possible), and those we believe actually planned this attack are still free in their havens in Pakistan.

But then, I find myself stopping short of doing the above, especially when I ask myself "What have I done as a reaction of this event, to prevent future occurrences of this?" [well, in addition to keeping my twitter and blogger profile pic the same for over a year now as a memory of 26/11].

Sadly, I have nothing to say for this. Never Forget, as a commenter recently pointed out on my blog, has sadly been rendered defunct, with no progress for over a year.

That said, I refuse to give up. I still believe in the core idea of NF, that being held accountable for their promises is what will get our dear leaders to actually perform their duties, which will in turn keep us safe. My dear friend B has given some new ideas during her recent visit to Paris, and I intend to put them into action.

Perhaps what scares me is something I wrote in 2008 (and still believe to be true):
Of course, our collective reactions over the next few weeks will determine whether we have learnt our lessons and will start demanding performance from our politicians, or keep up with our usual chalta-hai attitude and deserve another attack.

Yes, I said ‘deserve’. I am mad, at us :-| .

I sure hope that we, the Indian people, wake up before we get what's coming for us.

[mobilePic] Yup. It's Snowing at work :).

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

[mobilePic] At a Diwali function near Paris

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[mobilePic] At a Diwali function near Paris

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

[mobilePic] Rabindra Sangeet in Paris #durgaPooja

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

[mobilePic] Mexican food in Paris! Chipotle style :-)

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Monday, September 27, 2010

[57 so far!] Itemizing Bollywood Songs

[Update Oct 14, 2010: 50+ songs now!:] Thanks for the wonderful response folks! Now there are 57 songs in the playlist. Click the link below to open it in a new tab and see the songs. As always, suggestions most welcome :).

[Context: This post is driven by my quest for peppy bollywood playlists to play in the background while I think algorithms and debug code at work]

So, Dabangg (IMDB, IndiaFM, Trailer) is out, and is a bit hit. People I know, however, have had different reactions -- M hated it, A loved it, and most importantly, my mom (and dad) loved it! [wonder what VG of JH thinks :)]

Here's the trailer, for those who are as yet untouched by this movie's PR.

Anyways, mom was talking about how Malaika Arora was awesome in the "Munni" song (first in the playlist below), which got me thinking that although she was good, there have been better item songs in Bollywood. Keeping the sexual innuendo of the dance aside for the moment, I wanted to catalog the best song+dance sequences in terms of their peppiness, and the dancing skills of the performers. So, I asked some friends for help, and the result is the playlist below.

And now, my request for help. Please let me know which songs you would like added to the list.

The Rules:
  1. At least one of the main dancer should have a guest appearance, so all songs of the type of "Tu cheez badi hai mast mast" and "Banke tera jogi" are out (I know, quite a shame. Will do a series about that later).
  2. Please post the song title, movie name, and most importantly, a youtube link (better if HD) in the comments.
  3. Needless to say, the song should be from a Bollywood movie :).

The playlist is embedded below for your listening pleasure. If you cannot see it, or want to see the whole list in one shot, please click this direct link to the playlist (opens in new tab).

So, what do you think? Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Sunny Day in Paris

My wonderful friend B is visiting this weekend, and she took the time to help me choose (well, basically choose for me) some new clothes. Another reason buying new clothes became a bit more important that day was because a can of white paint toppled from a construction site and landed right behind where we were walking, causing some minor, but clearly visible, rear splattering!

We also took some goofy pictures in that wonderful weather, which I am posting here for your viewing pleasure. They also serve as before and after pictures for my makeover :).

P.S. Another acquisition that day was my new (s)watch. :)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Resignation Letter Poem Template

Note: This is not for me. I love my job (and have recently been all-but-confirmed for a lifelong position at INRIA), but thought this might be useful for some of you :).

A close friend of mine is in the process of writing a resignation letter, and my comment on the letter included a suggestion that the following poem/verse be included. My friend had the wisdom (or not) of not including it, but maybe you, dear reader, will find the words useful for your next resignation letter :).

Here goes.
For this reason, and no
ulterior motives, I am deciding to
cut all ties with [Company Name Here]. I hope the company soars like a
kite. I will
yearn for
our relationship to be remembered fondly by both of

So, what say?
P.S. For those who did not quite get the context, see this gem by the Governator.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To Sisters, with Love

Today is Rakhi (or Raksha Bandhan), the Indian festival when sisters tie a bracelet (can range from a simple thread to a three-storey sponge morey bhaiya rakhi :P) on the wrists of their brothers, and get lifelong protection (and gifts) in return.

Now my elder brother and I are the only two kids my parents had, by thanks to all our cousins, we never had a dearth of sisters, and indeed, I am proud of the fact that we cousins are like siblings.

So, this day, dear sisters, have a great time, and know that I have some Parisian chocolates here for you -- come and get them :).

P.S. Obligatory Rakhi song :-).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

[mobilePic] yup. This waterfall is also in Paris :)

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

[mobilePic] Want some me-made chicken curry?

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy 63, India!

63 years ago, India gained its freedom, and our first prime minister gave this speech

The country has still a long way to go before all its citizens have the basic roti-kapda-makaan (food, water, shelter), but there seems to have been decent progress.

I am still to figure out how exactly I am to contribute in all this. For the moment, I celebrated I-day at home, rain bound [reminded me of all the rain soaked I-day parades I did in school :)], and made some atta halwa for the first time. Came out pretty well :).

On a sidenote, today marks one year of the launch of Jay Hind, India's first full-time online stand-up and fake news comedy show. If you can understand Hindi, check it out. My dear friend Varun writes for it, and does a pretty good job at it :). He also acts in some segments, such as the gem here (LNN - Indo-Pak Talks Secrets Revealed). Check it out! I think good satire will go a long way in keeping the country on track.

Jai Hind!
P.S. Happy I-day to my friends across the Punjab border too.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

[mobilePic] FSM, is that thou who thus shineth?

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

[mobilePic] And it is done! Time to eat. :)

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[mobilePic] The lamb roast is in progress. :)

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

(Re) Discovering awesome Pakistani Music

[Note: Feel free to click on the links in this post. They open in new tabs, and hide melodious treats :)]
I have been lucky to have been exposed to Pakistani singers and their music since my childhood. When I was a kid, dad used to play the songs of Reshma (who sung the song from which "yaara seeli seeli" was inspired). I loved her rustic voice, which I think is why I like Rekha Bharadwaj's songs today. In those days, it was just "folk song", and not "songs by a Pakistani singer" ... ah the innocent days :).

During my college days, the band Junoon, with its anthem "Sayyoni" rules the airwaves for a bit. Even now, I have the "Kabir by Abida (Parveen)" album, rendered wonderfully.

And yesterday, I was pointed by Yasser to the wonderful video below, at the CokeStudio channel on YouTube. A wonderful sufi kalaam, rendered as a melange of old and new styles. Be sure to read the captions. If they are not visible, hover on the triangle at the bottom-right corner, and click the "cc" button. If you still cannot see them (or want to see the interactive transcript), click this link to open the video in a new tab/window.

Feel free to browse the Coke Studio channel for other gems like the one above.

The melody in these songs, and the (mostly positive) comments on YouTube, both from Indian and Pakistani listeners, give one hope that someday, through cultural exchanges, there will be lasting peace between the neighbors.

Amen to that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sunday, July 04, 2010

[mobilePic] Preparing for a delicious italian dinner

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Froyo'd: Thoughts on Android 2.2

This morning, I was treated to this Engadget post, about Froyo being released officially by Google. Finally. [What is Froyo? you ask? Click here then :). In short, Android 2.2]

I waited till the evening for an over-the-air update on my Nexus One, but then, decided to take the plunge during my train ride home in the evening. Using the instructions from this comment, I downloaded the latest update from Google's servers, started the update process, and waited.

and waited.

and waited.

After the update, the phone rebooted to its pretty boot animation, but nothing else was going on. After waiting for a bit, I pulled the battery out, put it back in, and rebooted it with crossed fingers.

And it worked!

So I now have Android 2.2 running on my phone, and have also installed Flash 10.1 on it :). [Take that iPhone folks!]

First impressions:
So, is Froyo all that is was hyped to be? Well, here are some initial thoughts (after 30 minutes of playing around)
- Give it some time to sync etc. after upgrade. The speed is sluggish at that time.
- The home screen is snappier. I like the minor bounce it gives when settling on a screen.
- The move to SD card option for apps [accessible under settings->applications->manage applications] is great! I can finally install new puzzle apps :).
- The ability to switch between gmail accounts from right within the compose window is also very useful. Makes sense when you click "share" from the image gallery, and want to use your office gmail account. Now only if it gave me the option to send mail "from" another account, like it does from within Gmail.
- The overall feel is definitely faster. Which is nice :).
- Flash installed. Have not used it yet. But saw a setting for "plugins" in the browser, which I set to "on demand". So I hope it will not auto-show me flash ads from all sorts of pages [I am looking at you, ToI!]. It is also interesting to see that a lot of flash game websites are now targeting android as their platform, so that should lead to an explosion in the number of 'apps'. [update: confirmed that in this manner, Flash in browser gives me the ability to enable only certain animations. Win!]

So, those were my first impressions. More to come as I play with it. I have changed my voice recognition settings to "English (India)". Let's see if it leads to any improvements :).
[Update: The phrase "This is a test" was not recognized properly under "English(India)" settings. When I changed it back to "English(Generic)" it worked. I guess I do have a random/generic English accent now :P]

Some other reviews can be read here: PC World, Engadget.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

[mobilePic] Fullmoon Dance and Sian Mai at Num.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Cake is Back!

[Edit: This post has videos. Those of you reading it on Facebook or Buzz are requested to go to the original post on my blog to see them.]

First, the teaser [direct link]

Then, the hands-on demo [direct link]

Yup. Portal 2 is coming! Am so happy :).

And lastly, where we left off last time. [direct link]

[and for those who don't understand what this post is about, some background]

Friday, June 11, 2010

[mobilePic] Wonderful (Bangla)deshi meal chez Riyadh and Rini

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Captions, on Varun's request, from left to right, top to bottom: Chicken cutlets, shrimp with capsicum - chinese style, Chicken curry, salad, "koi" fish curry [with entire fishes], egg korma, pulao, and chicken with veggies. And there was amazing cake-topped custard later, not pictured :)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Eight years on, still alive.

It has been eight years now since that car accident in 2002. Time surely flies fast.

So happy re-birthday to (Ashish) Chandra, Akshay, Rahul and Me!! :)

P.S. Met Chandra in London last month. Good times. :)
sent from my Google Nexus One

Thursday, June 03, 2010

[mobilePic] A.R.Rahman is coming to Paris. Jai Ho!

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

[mobilePic] Off to India for 4 days.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Revisiting Maxims

This post is a redux. Because some maxims should be re-remembered. [ref: old post]

But I guess the part that has been bothering me the most are maxims such as the one above, which make very strong claims, which are not true, at least not to the extent they claim.


As another case, take the following
Good things happen to good people.

or its much stronger cousin
Bad things do not happen to good people.

WTF?! That is _such_ a strong claim. How about saying
Bad things can happen to good people, but usually they have a strong social net of similarly good and understanding people to rely on, and that helps reduce the recovery time.

which, in my opinion, is much closer to the truth than its simple, absolute version.

Yes, I understand the above is hard to fit on a bumper sticker or a motivational poster, but some of us here are trying to lead more logically rigorous lives!

Well, enough of my rant. Have _you_ seen maxims that you think should be altered/improved/deleted?

And to end, I leave you with the song of the day, my favorite one from Ek Chalees ki Last Local (must watch, for desis and non-desis)


This post goes out to all those who are going through tough times. I hope that with time (and support from friends), things will start to look up.

Friday, May 14, 2010

[mobilePic] Fajitas for dinner. Yum!

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Monday, May 10, 2010

[mobilePic] The aloo vadi curry turned out awesome. And my French neighbors liked it too. :)

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Oops for Indian Electronic Voting Machines

I was pointed to the video below by an article on slashdot on this topic. The researchers show how to tamper with an EVM so that it shows wrong vote counts after the elections. Let me know what you think, especially about whether this can be done in a real scenario on a meaningful scale.

Update: Link to website, which has abstract, and link to paper.

[Note their use of an Android app to reprogram the display :)]

Personally, I would prefer a EVM-based system where the machine also printed out a paper ballot, which the voter could see and then put in a box. The main counting happens via EVM, but in case of a lawsuit, the paper ballots could be used to verify the results. Total cost will not be much more than the earlier system, while still retaining the security and anonymity.

So, what say?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Back in Paris

I am finally back in Paris now [actually, reached on last Friday afternoon]. Am slowly processing the work and email backlog. Thanks for your wishes during the stuck-ness :).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stuck at Santa's Airport

I have been stuck in India for some days due to the volcanic ash on Europe.

Yesterday, I got into a last moment flight to Helsinki, and it landed 1000km North of Helsinki in Santa's official airport :-)

Was in a hotel last night, going back to airport now. Let's see what happens. Still  no idea of how to get from Helsinki to Paris.

More updates as I figure them out :-).


Sunday, April 11, 2010

[mobilePic] Me with the bride and groom. :-)

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[mobilePic] Fun and games at the post wedding lunch

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[mobilePic] Putting sindoor (crimson matrimonial powder) in the bride's hair.

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[mobilePic] Tying of the mangalsootra. wedding necklace

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[mobilePic] Kanyadaan: the giving away of the bride to the groom

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[mobilePic] The wedding has started!

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

India Notes, April 2010 Edition

As you might know, I am in India nowadays for my brother's wedding. Things, as usual, are very hectic, and I am writing this on my phone on the way to Chennai airport to pick up some guests who are coming for tomorrow morning's wedding ceremony.

Here is a set of disconnected observations and thoughts I wanted to share with you all. Let me know if you have any thoughts.

* weddings and other big family events are a wonderful occasion for family members to meet each other, some after many years. And when you meet your cousins after a long break, it does not take long to re-make that bond.

* The subway sandwich shop in Chennai has separate counters for veg and non-veg subs. And all halal meat. And no beef or pork. I just had an Italian BMT with chicken ham and mutton pepperoni. :)

* mosquitoes are evil.

* The streets of Patna are much safer now.

* I have lost my conditioning to the constant honking. Or maybe I never had it, having grown up in a walled campus and gone to college in another.

* Getting your blackheads removed hurts.

* BSNL 3G SIM cards will not work in Delhi or Mumbai. In Chennai, 3G will work but voice will not.

* Indian vodafone "zoozoo" ads are cool. Look for them on youtube.

* Indian soap operas are terrible. And addictive to parents :-(

* you cannot carry spare batteries in your carry on baggage.

* carrying an episode of Bones on your laptop is a great help on cheap domestic flights.

* It is hard to get attendees in a party to start dancing, but once it happens, it is great fun. Yes, photos and videos will be posted ;-). Also, remember to make some lemonade with salt and sugar to rehydrate if you plan to dance like a madman at your brother's pre-wedding party. :)

and finally,

* Family _is_ the most important thing.

Getting ready to leave in a wedding procession at 5:30 tomorrow morning,

--sent from my Google HTC Magic--

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Monday, April 05, 2010

Sunday, April 04, 2010

[mobilePic] Guess what this Finnish ad is for!

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Wedding Plans

OK, so all those who are reading this expecting to hear about plans for _my_ wedding -- sorry, consider yourself and unintended April Fool [or an April Fish, if in France :)]. (although, the last part of this post has something about my own arranged marriage :). )

This post is regarding my upcoming India trip, and the wedding of my dear elder brother!

The wedding is in Chennai [his fiancée is from Chennai, they both work in Atlanta] on April 11th, and the reception is in Patna [my hometown] on April 15th.

I am flying out this Sunday afternoon, and am looking forward to a 2-week break off the grid! Well, almost. I will still be carrying my HTC Magic with Google Android, and a BSNL 3G SIM card, but don't expect quick replies to email :).

So, any tips for attending a Tam Brahm wedding?

P.S. As promised, here is an arranged-marriage themed video I played a short role in recently. It is a short film by Swati, and was shot near Paris. Thanks to the lovely Nishtha for not slapping me :P.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wonderful Low-Budget Docu on Banaras/Varanasi

@varungrover pointed me to this wonderful documentary. Have a look at the awesomeness that is the city where I spent 4 very formative years of my life :).

Die in Varanasi (Holy Shit) from isaac niemand on Vimeo.

What is impressive is that this was shot on a super low budget. Very nice.
The filmmaker's page is here.

P.S. I am flying to India for two weeks this Sunday. Wish I could also visit Varanasi :-\.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

[mobilePic] Ethipian chicken curry in Paris. yum. :-)

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Birthday and Other Updates

So yesterday, March 3, 2010, I turned 29. [yes, n was = 28, and now n = 29].

The birthday was fun, including a ton of wishes, online (on Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, Buzz, etc), on the phone, and in person. I got a gift from E, which was pretty and useful [reminded me of the cute-and-useless bunny from the Vidushaks in 2008 :)], and Leesa is going to bake a cake this Saturday :).

After work, a bunch of us work buddies went for drinks in Paris, with @jasminf and @lafauxvaisienne joining us. This was followed by some yummy take-home lebanese food and desserts. Good times overall :).

Previously, on March 1st, we celebrated Holi at work. Here are some pics [embedded below for your convenience]:

And tomorrow morning, I am going for my 3rd and final eye injection [those who do not know why I am getting these injections, please click here]. Will tweet about it as it happens.

That's it for now. Back to paper writing!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Holi Hai!

Super busy with writing and reviewing papers, but still missing Holi :-(. Some quick links

1. Wonderful NPR post on Holi. Give a Listen

2. Wikipedia on Holi.

3. My Holi Bollwood Song playlist

4. A Special and Wonderful Holi Video. Must watch.

Happy Holi y'all! And know that I am very envious of all of you who are able to play with colors today. :-(

On the bright side, I did buy some desi sweets last evening, and S and I will be sharing them with our non-desi officemates this afternoon [like last year]. And yes, there will be color :).

[previous Holi posts]

Saturday, February 27, 2010

[mobilePic] mmm. Falafel chez Hannah

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[mobilePic] Visiting Sacré Cœur

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

[mobilePic] Ready to start work now

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