Monday, May 31, 2010

Mustache May 2010

May ain't over yet. And it will not be over until i submit my Mustache May pictures.
I participated in the category Grizzly Adams and won the competition this year at workplace. There were only 3 participants this year in my category. But it was lots of fun for me.

Archimedes said "Give me a place to stand and i will move the Earth"

I say - "Give me an opportunity to be a Jhalla and i will be a Jhalla that day and every other day until the next opportunity comes."


May ain't over yet. And it will not be over until i submit my Mustache May pictures.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Maker Faire

May 22, Saturday. Went to maker faire with Vamsi.

Incredible experience. Maker faire is an annual event where people present what they have made so far. It is an event to showcase whats cooking in their garages, whats keeping them working late at night after office etc. It is one big giant science fair and science covers everything :)

I just went and tagged about 190 photos. Thanks a lot to Vamsi for clicking photos. It was great fun going with him. Enjoy the album.

More details about maker faire can be found here -

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Blue Mug

The blue mug -

It is play directed by Atul Kumar based on Oliver Sacks book - The man who mistook his wife for a hat. It stars Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Konkona sen Sharma and one more person who is not famous enough now for me to remember his name but he is a great actor.

The book, which i have not read, is based on the author's experience of Schizophrenia patients. He is a psychologist with patients who have lost their memories either completely or partially. The play is an adaptation.

There are 5 characters, no one knows each other, each come and tell their stores, stories which are memories in their mind. Each story is a memory, the ones that they remember, often not the ones that they would like to remember. The blue mug is just one such story narrated by Rajat Kapoor and there is no reason why the play is titled such other than why not?

I loved the play! Like one of the best plays of my life. I watched it with Gurshi at India Community center at Milpitas with a ticket of 25$.
Why i loved it? There are many reasons.
First and foremost - it had excellent actors. I think that is the reason i went to watch it. As i reached the hall, standing outside is Rajat and Ranbir drinking Starbucks coffee like normal people. Their simplicity was amazing. But this is not the reason why i liked the play. This cast could only bring me to the play, not to like it (liar!) But the performance was amazing.
I liked the play because of its subject - which is memories. It is so important to preserve memories, it is so important to remember, to cherish good days, to learn from mistakes, nostalgia is such a blissful feeling. Good times, childhood memories, college days, trips to grandmother's house, etc etc stories depict different parts of life, some are cheerful, some are serious, some comic and some very sad too. And the actors portray them with such amazing skill, it is too awesome. And to top it all there is Ranvir Shorey who surprised me a lot with his acting, he plays a guy who is stuck in time 20 yrs ago. The best part was that almost all stories threw a very crucial light on the character, and had a very sad meaning with them but it was all covered under the jokes, the comedy in day to day lives and it was only in the end that the sadness was revealed, life is sad with a happy face, the play was showing that to us. We were laughing one second and in the next, with just one line, the entire meaning had changed.

I do not know who Atul kumar is, i have not seen his work before but hir direction was amazing. The play used so many different techniques to convey story, each scene was choreographed differently, some i understood, some i didn't. But overall it was a very good art and tangible art at the sweet spot where you could understand and appreciate some and some mystical or abstract. Konkona could not play her part but Sheeba who replaced her was amazing.

A lot of comments were made on memories and its significance in our lives. The play ends with Rajat saying that whenever we narrate our own memory, we always think in third person, with a total detachment saying that it was not me, it was him and i have changed now. How true! My thoughts on memories are the same.
As days go by, i am forgetting my past, it is getting blurry day by day. As i experience more, i loose something too of my past. I do believe that schizophrenia is one of the worst things to happen and if it happens to me, it will be very sad, I am also of the opinion that it is likely that it will happen to me but that is just my paranoia speaking. I think that is one of the main reason why i maintain this blog, why i document my life in Life in series, to remember as much as i can about my life. If not the tiny details but atleast the bigger ones, pointers to the head nodes :) . The play resonated this back to me and it was such a good joy to just listen to memories as you are listening to grandmother's stories.

Everyone sitting in that hall enjoyed the play, i think that is the beauty of the play. Many thought that it was a comedy play, i thought that it was a very sad play. I did laugh but the message said between the lines, the silences, some acts which no one understood conveyed something that was very serious. How precious memories are? I bet very few thought about that while watching the play. I have thought about it and memories are very precious.

I would like to read that book one day.

Life in April 5 - May 21

Today has been a very fortunate day. So i thought the best way to celebrate would be to write my blog posts. A lot has happened in the past month and half and a lot of that lot deserved a blog post. But i am what i am and i will be what i am. In other words if i could have changed i would have but i have not and this has to mean something if not nothing. Ok enough! lets get going.

Lets start with the today's string of fortunate events. All are related to my workplace. There is an awesome culture here where on every friday somebody from my company presents a lunch talk. On friday the entire company has lunch together and somebody presents something and that something usually has been very interesting. I started to organize these talks since Aug last year and it was fun. It used to be very difficult to find people to talk but ever since i got to organizing people started volunteering and it just became a regular habit. And i got to hear many interesting things in the process. As i am going on vacation in June, i took retirement and they gave me a gift to appreciate my work (isnt that cool! - others gave talk and i got the gift). It was a flip camcorder.

Then, on another front, there was a jobvite forwarding contest to spread the word that my company is recruiting. We got points for forwarding an email and later using that points, there was an auction system to buy stuff. In that i bought a mystery gift which resulted in 100$ and then i bought a bose speaker system which is awesome! So today was an awesome day in my life. Free gifts and all in one day.

But it was not only today, this has been happening in the entire week. On monday during the company meeting, i got an award - Just do it award, something that is given quite selectively to individuals for taking initiative. So this has been an awesome week so far!

And it is not only this week, i should say this whole month. I had been kept quite at office during this whole month and have kept on working a lot and due to this, i have been quite happy with myself and have done some good work both algos, systems and relevance. So overall a very good work in office too.

Since i spend most of my time in office, i think the above section tells what happens most of the time. But that is not what all i do. Here is what else happened in no particular order.

The blue mug. Went to watch this awesome play starring Vinay Pathak, Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir shorey, konkona sen sharma with Gurshi. More details in a separate blog post.

Black mountain hike - I hiked 10 miles roundtip up to Black mountain with Nikesh, Very good hike. We left early in order to enjoy the morning and have the entire day free. Very good decision. Getting up at 6 am; listening to the chirping of birds in morning; the morning fresh air in mountains, all was very well. We were back from hike by 11 and as planned we had the whole day but once you have hiked for 4 hrs, all i did in that whole day was to sleep. :)

I moved. Yes within mountain view only but i moved to my new single bed apartment. Pramod Gupta (Modi) who is interning here at Mountain view is my roommate for three months. Bought a lot of house hold items such as microwave, blender, futon, plates etc. Realized that i do not have most of the stuff that is needed to live independently. Went to a lot of garage sale hunting, it is a lot of fun to buy cheap second hand stuff. I love it! Atleast thats what i did for 2 consecutive Saturdays.

India trip planning - Still going on but on vacation from June 2 to july 5th. A lot of time spent in buying tickets, visa appointment, documents, further trip etc.

Preparation of my law course - 20% complete but did something. Lots of stuff to cover.

There was a blog contest in office. Wrote two entries, those are the two previous blog posts. Wanted to write about those topics and it was a good opportunity.

Knitting - Progress on my hat is going on.

Cooking - I do not write much about my cooking experiments because they are true experiments and in the true spirit of innovation, they must be left undocumented. :) But it is good enough to note that i tried.

The new thing - Team Asha Marathon training - Yes! I joined it. I am training for half marathon. This is my newest boldest thing - aka in fashion for this month. So far i am able to run 3 miles without stopping and a marathon has 13 miles. But 2 weeks ago, i could not run even 2 miles. I am happy with my progress so far. It is a great thing to go in the morning to run. Team Asha has coaches and before run there are stretching exercises and after the run there are strengthening exercises. Its great to get tips from these people. I have learnt a lot. I am not shooting for any time, all i am focussed is to complete it. I have bought new shoes, new clothes, new accessories for it and it is very fun so far. As i make progress i will write a more detailed post. But i may miss the training as i will be gone. But lets see how it goes.

Movies -
Cinema club -
Touching home A true story made by two brothers Logan and Noah miller on their father. Their father died in jail and they promised that they will make a movie about him. With no direction/acting experience, but ssheer determination, this movie is their result and it is not a bad one. It is not that good but when you hear that it is a true story, when you realize how they made this movie, hoe they got financing, how they got Ed Harris to play it becomes an amazing thing! A heroic effort. They have written a book on the making of the movie - Either you are in or you are in my way which tells how they went about making the movie. I have that book signed by them, yet to read. The two brothers were there at the movie screening and it was great to see them, talk to them.
Winter's bone - This won the jury prize at Sundance film fetival. It is a story about a 17 year old girl with two small siblings aged 6 and 10 and a schizophrenic mother, in search of her meth addicted father who has put their house as bond for his bail. His court date is coming and if he doesn't show up, they will loose their house. Her performance was awesome and so was the direction. A lot of cast was new/unknown. The irish music was great. The new girl's performance is awesome.
New -
Iron Man2 - Slept in the movie.
The secret in their eyes - This year's foreign language oscar winner. Liked it! Not found it as impressive as some of the other foreign language winners that i had seen so far but the ending was indeed thought provoking, scary. Its an Argentinian movie and it gives a lot of look and feel of an Indian suburb. Would have loved to watch an Indian movie like that.
Night on Earth bu Jim Jarsmush. Very good movie. 5 different stories about 5 taxi drivers in 5 different cities. All during night. I love these kind of movies. And Jim Jarsmush is a great director. Need to watch it again.

Music -
Bought pandora's membership this month. It is just too good. Have been listening to classic rock. New artists that i got to know -
Natalie Macmaster - Came to know her through her song on a TED presentation. She is a Irish singer who also tap dances. Her videos are very good too..
Natalie Hall - Link : Again via ted talk. She sings old poems and those poems are very good. TED talk explains everything.

Other interesting TED talks/video -

Indian Classical music [Link via Nikesh]

What motivates people [Link via Brian] -

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tracking shot

In a film,a tracking shot is a continuous shot in which the camera tracks a subject (often an actor but filmmakers have been quite creative) without any cut. Films are generally made in short takes and then later these short takes are stitched together in the editing process making it look like a one big sequence. But even after a good edited movie, it still misses to capture the raw flow of motion with the flow of time; many things change between two cuts, even if you keep the camera at the same position, the subject's posture, his mood, time of day, and other small things that give a broken experience - a theater lover will definitely understand it! . Tracking shots are meant to provide an uninterrupted experience by keeping entire focus on the subject, but doing so in a film setting it is very hard. The complexity mainly comes in combining the flow of camera with the flow of subject . But filmmakers have taken this as a challenge and have made significant achievements. Below is my list of top tracking shots -

1. Atonement Dir Joe Wright. (5 min 30 seconds)
Almost everyone, who had no knowledge of what a tracking shot is, noticed something special about this long sequence at the seafront as British flee from Dunkirk Beach during World war 2. For 5 mins, 30 seconds camera follows James McAvoy as he makes his way through the chaos where defeated soldiers are waiting for ships to take them home. The trajectory of camera and the detailed set design makes it a treat to watch every time. Unfortunately, i couldn't find a decent video.

2. Week-end. Dir Jean Luc Godard (10 minutes)
Week-end is one of the most experimental movies of Godard and as if the content of sequence was not enough, Godard goes one step ahead to make a tracking shot out of it. With the constant honking noise in background and with Godard's reference to French bourgeois, the scene becomes more and more profound as it unfolds.

3. Children of Men. Dir of Alfonso Curan (4 minutes 8 seconds)
Yes! it is a tracking shot. Believe it! Dir Alfonso Curan breaks all bounds by tracking an action sequence involving a moving car. One has to watch its making to fully comprehend the challenges and scale involved. The camera is hoisted on top of the vehicle with its hood removed. Check it out -

4. Goodfellas. Dir Martin Scorsese. 3 minutes 3 seconds.
Martin Scorsese's ingenuity has no limits and this scene from Goodfellas proves it. The smooth movement of camera as it comes down the stairs, as it covers the alleys of nightclub, through the kitchen and finally into the main dining hall, it is simply a masterpiece shot.

5. A touch of evil. Dir Orson Wells (3 min 30 seconds)
Considered to be the father of all tracking shots, this opening shot was a fresh inspiration to many film makers around the world. The camera's movements is choreographed with precision and elegance.

There have been few other noteworthy tracking shots. Akira Kurosawa has one in Rashomon when he tries to follow the hunter. Quentin Tarantino used it in Kill Bill, vol I, and Johnny To's opening sequence in Breaking news are few which are a delight to watch. But the one that is truly above all tracking shots is the movie The Russian Ark(Directed by Aleksandr Sokurov) which was filmed entirely in one single shot that is 96 minutes long!

Book Review : In Custody by Anita Desai

As part of my goal to read 20 Indian books this year, I was exploring good listicles on Indian books. Most of them had similar items but th...