Kiddo is obsessed with art & painting and she learnt about the simple use of primary colours – Rothko and Mondrian in school today.
I have a naive child-like love for Mondrian. Even if you don’t know who Mondrian is you will have seen his highly recognizable work.
I also recently encountered this wonderful piece of work which you can buy from Amazon which sets up the world map in a wonderful nod to Mondrian. The artist Michael Tompsett does some amazing map work and you can see his work here: https://michael-tompsett.pixels.com/
This picture really bothered me and it took me a while to place a finger on it.
Mondrian allows for THREE primary colours to be used whereas the Four Colour Theorem suggests that this might not be possible for all maps.
Indeed careful observation suggests that many liberties have been taken with the world map to make this work.
Paying homage to Piet Mondrian & Michael Tompsett then is this 4 colour version of the map of mainland India by yours truly. Some day I hope to write code to do this correctly and elegantly but this is all I have for now.
I’ve listened to more music over 2020 than perhaps any prior year, largely to focus during WFH.
Shazam has been integral to my music discovery process. I’ve discovered innumerable new & interesting songs over the years via Shazam.
I signed up for Youtube premium so kiddo wouldn’t have to watch ads & to listen to content with the screen off but Youtube Music has been an unexpected bonus.
I haven’t used Spotify recently but Youtube Music Radio is phenomenal in taking you down the rabbit hole given a song as a starting point. When you’re in the zone you don’t want to be having to skip music & purely on this metric Youtube Music is excellent.
So without further ado presenting some Doors to Eclectic Musical Rabbit Holes.
Stairway to Heaven – Simone Kopmajer
Sometime in 2016; IFC, Hong Kong
This was one of my first Shazams waiting for a seat at Crystal Jade in Hong Kong. There was a nice record store right next to it back when there were record stores.
What Youtube Radio gets you: soulful acoustic rock covers and of course lots of Simone Kopmajer drifts towards classic rock after a while
2. Haryanvi 1 (?) – Anil Yadav
04 Dec 2018, morning; 91Springboard, Nehru Place, New Delhi
I’d be the first one in at 91springboard each morning and the place would be empty, coffee machine yet to be refilled and janitorial staff engaged in sundry cleaning tasks. One of these folks loved playing loud music on his phone as he went about his work & this was one of his favourites. He would also sing along for good measure.
What Youtube Radio gets you: peppy Haryanvi, Bhojpuri numbers gradually gravitating towards Bollywood
What Youtube Radio gets you: Scandi Hip Hop – lots & lots of it – the genre is deep & never-ending with no drift
4. Hocus Pocus – Focus
15Jun2014, Hong Kong
Probably deserves it’s own blogpost. Picked up the song watching Robocop (2014), likely not Shazamed but discovered via Reddit. Thijs Van Leer has mad talent & brings a certain maniacal energy – see the next 20 seconds of this reaction video. My go-to song to beat procrastination & high burn sprint tasks.
This scene from the movie that features the song is worth watching as much for the philosophy of man+machine consciousness as it is for the music.
What Youtube Radio gets you: Lots of Focus, Instrumental Prog and such landing firmly inside Prog proper after 2 hours or so
5. Sirata – Habib Koite
I heard this during SaaSBoomi 2019 at Novotel or at the event venue could have been lobby, elevator or cloak room music
What Youtube Radio gets you: Slow, Melodic West African music – don’t know enough to judge drift – yet to explore fully
6. Old Thing Back (feat. Ja Rule & Ralph Tresvant)
12Jan21, Aer Four Seasons, Mumbai
After watching Unsolved a while back I binged on both Biggie & Tupac for a while so I was peripherally familiar with Want that Old Thing Back. Lyrics are as NSFW as they get, but the sax solo that periodically creeps in is just sublime.
What Youtube Radio gets you: Reserving comments as I’m yet to fully explore or characterise
7. Greetings – Joni Haastrup
11Mar20, WeWork SFO
WeWork loved blasting Joni for some reason and he kept me going through jet-lag & worse in the days, weeks & months that have followed since.
What Youtube Radio gets you: If you’re uninitiated in 70s Nigerian Afrofunk this is the place to start. Excellent music for complex tasks that need sustained medium burn effort like responding to questionnaires.
8. Kaval Sviri – The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir
We stir the data-pile a bit more this time around. We start with the question – does a certain portion of the population avoid inauspicious days through appropriately chosen C-Section slots?
I did some digging and it’s pretty hard to map out all the inauspicious times over 2012-15. In any case we don’t have time stamps just birth dates. So the two possible things we could check for are whether certain:
dates (such as the 13th)
days (such as Tuesday)
are being materially under-represented.
Dates & Months
Every date on average should see ~0.27% (1/365) of births for the year. Each number denotes deviation from average in basis points. i.e for instance Jan 1 sees 0.29% more births i.e more than double what is to be expected.
a. 1 & 2nd Jan seem vastly over-represented – I first considered dropping 01Jan presuming this was owing to typos in the original data but it doesn’t seem to be the case
b. There is material relative under-representation of the 13th vs the 12th and the 14th – except for the month of October in almost every month fewer children were born on the 13th vs the 12th or the 14th
c. Apr, May and Jun are under-represented – this is presumably owing to parents “blue-shirting” their kids and securing admissions in Noida and Gurgaon unwilling to let their children “waste” a year risking Delhi school admissions – these children would then not apply to Delhi schools this year biasing the dataset.
Days of the Week:
Surprisingly good old fashioned sanity seems to prevail here – no one wants to hit an understaffed hospital on a Saturday or a Sunday if they an avoid it. Instead there is a spill-over effect into the front half of the following week and to some extent Thu & Fri.
A recent article about Indo Anglians was doing the rounds on my FB feed. This piece, in turn, references an older piece about First World Yoga Names. I needed little else to be inspired to poke around with the DoE dataset which lists roughly 78,000 unique individuals of the 2013-2015 year of birth cohort (I could tell you how many boys and girls but that’s a topic for a whole other post in itself) and roughly 2x that number of parents, all residents of NCR.
This allows one to explore the drift in popularity of first names a single generation.
I start by presenting the most popular first names in the parents cohort in descending order of frequency:
A little more than 2.5% of the nearly 80k adult men in the dataset were named Amit with Deepak coming in at a distant second.
Neha leads but doesn’t dominate quite the way Amit does with the men followed by Pooja, Priyanka, Jyoti and Preeti
Right, so what do Amit and Pooja name their kids then? Do the girls get named Kaira, Shyra and Shanaya as the article purports? And do the boys end up being Adi, Sid and Kabir?
The winner by a mile here is some variation of Aaradhya/Aradhya/Aradya followed by Aadhya/Aadya. Taimur and Misha might be paparazzi favourites today but before them came Aaradhya Bachchan to inspire thousands of young parents. IMO the rest of the list is not as FWGN as you’d expect but I leave it to your judgement.
Without a doubt Aarav is the Amit of this generation. Also note the dominance of “VI” names which I hope to explore further in a subsequent post.
That’s all for today folks. More when I find the time…
It’s admission season here in Delhi and kiddo is in the fray. The DOE does a pretty neat job of putting up registered applicants school wise here which is great if you’re querying by school but sucks if you’re querying by student name. I wrote a little scraper + data reorganizer for my personal use last weekend.
I’ve tried wrapping it into a Google site here for anyone who is looking to get a summary of points across schools for their ward:
In 1999 I had the privilege of attending the KRMO (Karnataka Regional Maths Olympiad) camp at IISc. While it didn’t do much to improve my math capabilities, it taught me a lot about how to preserve self-esteem when in the presence of materially smarter, sharper & more capable folks.
One of the quaint bits of math that I did learn was the Chinese Remainder Theorem and true to its name it has remained in the recesses of my brain since unused as yet another thing I learnt in school which I would never use.
Earlier today I uploaded a large number of files into Google Drive in batches of 300 or so, a process that took close to an hour. When the upload was done Google helpfully let me know that some uploads in my last batch had failed.
Further Google Drive has some “helpful features” in that:
a. It creates duplicates of files when you re-upload without checking for conflicts
b. It doesn’t tell you the number of files that exist in a folder
I needed a quick way of figuring out how many files I was missing. Since only the last batch failed it was between 0 and 300.
Exasperated I listed contents and started counting the number of files manually. Not surprisingly I quickly lost count. I switched to grid mode and scrolled right down when I saw this:
I stretched out the window and saw this:
I had an epiphany – this was a job for CRT.
I quickly wrote down the number of files in the last row for different column sizes like this:
Number of Columns Number of Files displayed in last row
The number of files in the last row of each grid represents the remainder when N, the number of files in the folder, is divided by the number of columns being displayed. The question for CRT is to compute the total number of files N in the folder based on these remainders. This looks almost impossible to someone who hasn’t seen CRT at work.
After a few minutes of googling I found the method for reconstructing N here:
The math works out like so:
Drop the 6 column case because we need co-prime divisors
Thanks to kiddo I rediscovered Eleanor Farjeon and Cats which we read and re-read until one of us had had enough. The poem evokes strong, and very likely false, childhood memories of the stale wooden scent of classroom 2B, my grandpa’s deep voice and my desire to own a cat as a child.
Still trundling through this reverie I stumbled upon this meta gem:
I’ll tell you, shall I, something I remember? Something that still means a great deal to me. It was long ago.
A dusty road in summer I remember, A mountain, and an old house, and a tree That stood, you know,
Behind the house. An old woman I remember In a red shawl with a grey cat on her knee Humming under a tree.
She seemed the oldest thing I can remember. But then perhaps I was not more than three. It was long ago.
I dragged on the dusty road, and I remember How the old woman looked over the fence at me And seemed to know
How it felt to be three, and called out, I remember ‘Do you like bilberries and cream for tea?’ I went under the tree.
And while she hummed, and the cat purred, I remember How she filled a saucer with berries and cream for me So long ago.
Such berries and such cream as I remember I never had seen before, and never see Today, you know.
And that is almost all I can remember, The house, the mountain, the gray cat on her knee, Her red shawl, and the tree,
And the taste of the berries, the feel of the sun I remember, And the smell of everything that used to be So long ago,
Till the heat on the road outside again I remember And how the long dusty road seemed to have for me No end, you know.
That is the farthest thing I can remember. It won’t mean much to you. It does to me. Then I grew up, you see.
Of course we had to finish with:
Five minutes, five minutes more, please! Let me stay five minutes more! Can’t I just finish the castle I’m building here on the floor? Can’t I just finish the story I’m reading here in my book? Can’t I just finish this bead-chain — It almost is finished, look! Can’t I just finish this game, please? When a game’s once begun It’s a pity never to find out Whether you’ve lost or won. Can’t I just stay five minutes? Well, can’t I just stay just four? Three minutes, then? two minutes? Can’t I stay one minute more?
As we reluctantly wound up for the evening I had to but wonder if kiddo would one day find a lost part of themselves while attempting to similarly educate a greener, and perhaps artificial, mind.
In Robert Pirsig’s seminal work, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a student of the protagonist Phaedrus who is looking to write a five hundred word essay on the United States, finds herself at a loss for words, not knowing where to begin.
Trying to describe the Batch of 2006’s 10 year reunion weekend in a short passage, I’d like to think, is a similarly challenging task. After a considerable amount of time has been spent mulling over where to begin, it is very tempting to reduce the narrative to a mundane assortment of objective facts and the lowest common denominator of shared experience. I hope what follows does more than just that.
The new campus is a fantastic piece of architecture. Its stoic grey walls, while paying homage to Louis Kahn’s vision, have a character of their own. Twin ponds of water lilies, surrounded by flocks of noisy pigeons welcomed us to the IMDC. These exquisite flowers came to life at dusk and were in full bloom at midnight which seemed like an appropriate metaphor for the nature and intensity of our own conversations and activities. Yet, unlike the pigeons, we chose not to congregate around these blooming flowers. For the heart longed for a joy and vivaciousness that only red can engender.
Some proponents of field theory would like to believe that us humans are devoid of an independent personality, but rather, that we can only find meaning in the context of our environment. The close to hundred of us who arrived on campus, brought with us a decade of calluses, battleworn from our careers and weighed down by the responsibilities that time and age have bestowed upon us. Fortunately, we found all manner of ways to moult and rediscover our younger selves, as we were, in simpler, and perhaps only in hindsight, happier, times. For some it was just being able to meet long-lost friends, while others found their salvation on the cricket ground. Yet others resorted to the familiar taste of Rambhai’s chai or the lunch thali at Agashiye to rekindle old memories. As night fell, stronger restoratives were employed to keep open the doors of perception, helping us maintain peak performance be it at the ramp or the poker table. Few, however, would disagree that any of these experiences would have held as much meaning outside the confines of those magic red bricks, the late night dew and chilly winds of LKP or the characteristic musty odour of CRs 3 through 6. At no time was this more apparent than when the clock struck midnight, when, irrespective of where we had been until then, we found ourselves migrating slowly in groups towards the old campus under the pretext of an after-dinner chai at CT, and staying back for hours at end to stroll through campus making sure the present generation of PGP1s were adequately focused on academics.
Going back at this point to the story of the young student struggling to write her essay, her professor Phaedrus, suggests that she try narrowing down her focus at first to just the city, then to a street, to a building and finally to a single brick, at which point she suddenly experiences a deluge of literary and creative output which leads her to fill many pages talking about just that brick. Perhaps there is more here then, than just a trick to get over writer’s block.
On the final day, as we bade each other our final goodbyes, there was unanimous agreement that the reunion had turned out better than our wildest expectations. A spartan affair, bereft of holiday destinations, celebrity appearances or pro shows, managed on a meager budget by a handful of enthusiastic folks. Perhaps all that was needed to infuse the weekend with meaning, fulfillment and happiness, was the people and the red bricks. A decade into our post IIMA lives, that does leave one wondering, as to how many of us have identified similar cornerstones to anchor the lives we were returning to and to make them more meaningful.
In closing, I’d like to thank those who were instrumental in making this experience truly special – the Alumni Office and the organizing committee, Director Nanda and Prof Basant for taking the time to speak with us, our friend and batchmate, Prof Amit Karna, who we are fortunate and proud to call one of our own, Prof Handa for the lovely mementos, Poza, Anu, Rejoy, Paldy, Mansur for the memories and the entertainment and finally Tahseen and DD, without whose tireless efforts in marshaling the batch into turning up in significant numbers and coordinating and managing payments and expenses this reunion would not have been such a resounding success.
This month marks the late Michael Crichton’s 74th birth anniversary and it got me reminiscing about Jurassic Park.
Released in 1993, the film made box office history led to many other Crichton stories being filmed (Disclosure, Rising Sun, Congo, Sphere, Eaters of the Dead and of course Lost World). I have read a significant chunk of what Crichton has had to offer going back to Terminal Man and right up to Next. I don’t care much for his work earlier work under the pseudonym John Lange though Case of Need could be interesting to some.
I had just donned spanking new three strings that summer which I took to be a sign of adulthood and marked the occasion by making an earnest transition from Enid Blyton to the Hardy Boys and Three Investigators and refusing to read “comics”.
After having refused to let me see Jurassic Park in the theaters my dad came home one day with a crisp new paperback. He doesn’t really read fiction and the only non-religious books on his shelf to this day are The Tao of Physics & A Brief History of Time.
The embossed black T-Rex skeleton on the cover was inviting and I picked up the book when he wasn’t looking. I was hooked from the start. I eagerly read everything that Crichton had written until then and remember being thoroughly disappointed with Disclosure which had none of the sci-fi/action plot elements of his earlier works. (Rising Sun was at least entertaining.) I quickly moved on to Asimov, Clarke and other writers who were “truer” to the sci-fi genre and haven’t looked back since.
I did faithfully leaf through every new book Crichton came up with since but he was clearly past his prime by the early 2000s. After showing some promise with Timeline and Prey, in an almost M Night Shyamalan fashion, the quality of his work dwindled until I couldn’t force myself get to the end of Pirate Latitudes and after reading the sample of Micro recently chose not to download it on my Kindle.
But then again I came here to praise Caesar, not to bury him.
After dishing out a series of potboilers, Crichton had just written Andromeda Strain, his first real attempt at somewhat “hard” sci-fi, which was yet to achieve critical acclaim. He writes a review of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five in The New Republic which you can read here which opens a window into his mind. He uses the pretext of a review to lament the lack of good sci-fi that is also good fiction. He blames Verne and Wells for being romantics, berates Heinlein, Zelazny and Ballard for exploiting drug culture and accuses Kurt Vonnegut of being a charlatan – ‘There is also some business about a distant planet and flying saucers, but that does not make the book science fiction, any more than flippers make a cat a penguin.’ And then having finished this review he went on to write EXACTLY what he thought good science fiction should be for the next 30 years, making the genre both accessible and mainstream, giving millions of 80s kids a taste of it and getting them hooked for life.
Thank you for that Michael Crichton and Happy Birthday!