28 March 2007

C'est la vie - So ist das Leben

"So is the life", says the title - first in French, then in German. Wow!! I am a linguist :)

I find myself to be a good host. Gives warm welcome, cold drinks and tasty food and good entertainment. Today I had guests. It's getting confirmed over and over that I am a good cook. When people appreciate my food every time, it's not just fluke.

It should be the first time, I cut myself. I was hurrying to cut tomato and sliced my finger. After a long time, I tasted blood. I am no vampire, but I like the taste of my blood. The strong thick taste of blood. I have told this to a couple of my friends and they are like "yuck!". Still facts are facts, the taste of blood is good. (I've had only mine.... also it doesn't mean that I like to have it or anything. Just when I get a cut in my hand, I just keep the body part in my mouth.. why do they do it in movies? No clue..!!) It's a small wound and would not leave any scars [hint hint*]

Just when my guests came in and we were about to dine, the person whom I wanted not to come... he too came! I was not sure how to respond. I had deliberately avoided him for the dinner. In the past 2.5 years we've had many dinners together.. but there wasn't even a single one from his side. He never bothered to ask me to join him for dinner or anything. Is this a good enough reason to avoid him? There are a couple more reasons. Not worth explaining.. here...

Anyway he came to my room, I am the host, I have to behave like one. I asked him too to join for dinner. My mind was a little agitated at that time. Now it's cooled down. So ist das Leben.

I want to write more about some of my thoughts. May be they aren't enough ripe. Shall wait till thoughts are ready.

Am I being a too frequent blogger? May be I should reduce a little.

That's it. Have to do some German HW.

Signing off, Sands.

PS: There is no PS.


Slightly Tough

The syllabus is becoming more and more heavy. German is getting more complicated as I learn more and more. The first two courses were really cake walk for me. Now with all the nominativ, akkusativ and dativ cases and their all combinations with der, die and das - that itself accounts for 9 different cases. The plural gives another 3 cases. Then each of these things with definite article, indefinite article and no-article gives altogether 36 cases. These 36 cases are without adding the 12 cases coming with genitiv.

And each and every adjective - what to add at the end of them. Knowing the meaning of each of them. At least 30 new words here.

New nouns - knowing their gender. Another crazy thing.

New verbs - all the 6 conjugations associated with each verb.

Altogether it's too complicated.

I always believed and still believe that I have pretty good a brain. All these 100+ cases coming together is slightly driving me crazy.

I still don't really have a clear idea about where to use dativ/akku/nominativ. That is the most difficult thing. All the above things I mentioned have very clear rules and has to get practiced. But this decision making depends on the way I think.

The way Germans think about a verb is not the same as a south Indian like me thinks. I am confident about the rules and 100+ cases I mentioned above. But this decision making about which case to use when... is going to be slightly difficult.

The major problem is that it's more based on rules than on logic/intuition.

No big deal, I'll do it well. Just a matter of time and practice.

This thing is anyway giving enough exercise to my brain muscles. :)

Tail Piece: If you ask some one why is something this way, most probably the explanation would be based on some rules. Here rules rule and intuition has a lesser role. What a pity!!

Signing off, Sands

PS: Finally, I've to agree that I started reading my German work books at home. :(


26 March 2007

Visthaarabhayam alias Explaino-phobia

The title has a Malayalam* word. I am unable to find a single word in English which has the same meaning. The following paragraph explains the meaning of the title.

I have lot of things to tell. I am a bit concerned about the space/time it's going to take if I write everything in detail. This concern keeps me away from explaining everything in full detail. This concern/fear is called visthaarabhayam - literally "the fear to explain". The only word I can think of is "explaino-phobia". :)

I had made a small trip to a village near Munich. It was awesome. I had a great time with my mallu friends. Let me get over my phobia and write down my experience.

Walking in the moonlight, I am thinking of you - song for you... just for you ;)

Taking 3 long hours to travel 60 kms, that's how it started. Now I realise, it was stupid of me to assume that all of Germany is well connected - that too on a weekend. When Jimmy informed me that he and team are going to visit the malayali priest in the suburbs of munich, it took me no time to ask him "would it be okay if I too come?".

There was no surprise factor to see two malayali priests in the two neighboring villages of Bavaria. Malayali - it's a global phenomenon(problem?). They are there in every nook and corner of the planet.

We went to one of the churches where Fr. James is the priest. The church is 1200 years old. Yes, you read it right - 1200 years. It's a small church compared to the ones we see. But when I think about the age of it, I feel it'd have been one of the largest churches of that time. I was on my kneels for the 25 minutes of the service. Oh boy! in the first 5 minutes I felt my back is breaking.. then it was cool. I slightly slept while the service was going and forgot about the back pain. :)

The best part was just coming. There was a typical Bavarian musical event. We, Indians always think that westerners don't have any culture. It's just because we don't have any clue about the culture present here. As a matter of fact, we are losing our traditional cultural stuff and at the same time, these people are preserving their culture.

The dirndl (the typical costume of a Bavarian female) and lederhose (male dress) - they still wear it. They have their art forms, dance, music and what not. I am not sure, but the priest told me that even arranged marriages too happen here.

Back to the music. It was simply superb. The hall was filled with 150 people and we 4 were the only non-Bavarians and hence the "aliens". We got a very warm welcome too. Listening to the music, watching the beautiful girls and small comments we made about everything - the evening was fun. After a long time, I tasted beer. Is it okay to use the word "tasted" when I had 1 litre of beer in a single sitting? ;)

I shall write something which surprised me. The hygiene shown by Germans have surprised me most of the times. I could never have imagined that some German would eat something half eaten by someone. While we were at the table, there was a person sitting beside us who ordered food for him and after having a little of the food from his plate, he passed it over to his son. The son had the food with the same fork and knife his father used. I couldn't have imagined this from a German. The son is not a kid - he must be 25+. I could see the family values very visibly. If I am to say the truth, I was surprised and happy for the same.

I liked the way they take care of the language, customs, culture and values - we need to learn from them.

The other church was just 350 years old. And our accommodation was in the building which was a seminary in the past. Here there was one more surprise for me - the care taker of the building. She is an old lady - 78 years old. She's around the church for the past 60 years. She's the one in charge of the things for 60 long years.

She is a lady with such graceful looks and talks. She made our breakfast and we were chatting with her during breakfast. (Of course, I could only understand the conversation. My German is not yet good in shape to talk to people). While sitting in her presence and talking with her, my mind was full of admiration and respect. I cannot express it with words.

Last but not the least, my friends. Both the priests were very good. I didn't have to meet them to know they are good. All the priests I've ever met in my life were good and especially knowledgeable. These two were no exception - very friendly and youthful people. Fr. James is from Thrissur and Fr. Sunil from Palai. Fr. James has his masters in psychoanalysis - I have to clear a couple of my doubts during my next visit to him.

Jenny - the silent mode girl, I don't think I've met girls who could remain silent for such long times. A very nice girl with amazing memory power.

Jimmy - her brother, the leader of the team, looks (just looks) a little matured, he's too nice a person. If you know the old raghu of my btech class, you know jimmy. Every parent/grown-up would love him for his soft behavior.

The third is Arun, the cousin of the the above two - just like my normal friends or me - not too innocent nor nice nor matured - but a very good mixture of all craziness needed for the age. :)

The final one - myself. The over excited one who turned to be the cook. I'm sure now that I cook very well. People have started agreeing with that. :)

Back to the business. Life is going through a very critical time. I have to pull the horizons of my activities towards me - basically I've to reduce the number and variety of things I do. I'm going to be very busy for another 30 days, I guess. My correspondence and blogging might suffer from that. This is just an anticipatory bail.

That's all for now.

Signing off, Sands.

* - it really is not a Malayalam word. It should be Sanskrit.

23 March 2007

Love is .... how should I say it?

It is utter stupidity to commit to someone if you are not sure when will you be ready to get married. It will be more stupid if you think you'll get married only after 5 years. And this promise of "I will be sincere" is almost impossible if the lover is going to be at a far distant place.. (different timezone)
- unless you live with a closed heart.

This is something which I witnessed today morning.

This guy came to me last night, with a thought that the girl was playing around with his feelings. I told him to stop giving too much importance to it. If at all she is playing, it is because he let's her to play with it.

I asked him to stop that...

Then at midnight, she starts talking with him. Slowly slowly this guy changes his attitude... finally he thinks, "after all she is promising me that she'll be sincere to me, then shouldn't I be giving that promise back?"

He promises... not because he wants to... because he's too nice a guy! He's not able to make choices here. He's not able to decide, he's not able to see what he wants.

Let him learn from his experiences!!

I cant write more.. I am tied!

Signing off, Sands.


20 March 2007

Clean Whitewashed

Everything was normal till I went to bed last night at 2:45. I got up today morning to see the world as cleanly white washed. Let the picture talk.

When the temperature went a little up and reached 18, we were happy here. "Wow, the spring is here" - we all rejoiced. And now a sudden change of 18 degrees down to sub-zero!

The picture shows how it looks from my room window. Snowing hasn't stopped yet.

- topic change -

Last week, I was talking about some physics to one of my friends. Then he shared a joke with me. I just thought I'll scribble it here.

There was a talk given by a physicist. A mathematician and an engineer attended the talk. The topic was string theory and all those stuff in 10, 11 dimensions. After the talk..

Engg: Hey mathematician, did you follow the talk?

Math: Yeah, it was cool... wasn't it?

Engg: I didn't quite follow the 11 dimensional space. How do you imagine that?

Math: Oh... that's very simple. First you have to imagine an "n-dimensional" space. Once you do that, substitute "n" by 11. Then what you have is a 11-dimensional space.

Incidentally, I went for a talk yesterday. The talk was on polytopes and related things. The talk was actually pathetic. But I liked the following part.

You first imagine a pyramid in 3 dimensional space. And imagine that the unit ball is inside it...
Once you do that, things are easy. Just move this object to 15-dimensional space. You can see the result we are talking about.

It sounded really funny to me. And the good/bad part is that, even though not completely, I could follow this part of the talk.

that's all for now.

Signing off, Sands.


18 March 2007

God is NUDE (only in Kerala)

Yes, the post is based on Mr. Balan's finding that God doesn't have dress/cloth. I am not very much interested in politics. When it comes to Kerala politics, it's different.

Not because Kerala is my land. The reason is that Kerala politics is really entertaining. In every two weeks, you can find a new comment from any political leader which turns out to be a huge scandal. Finally when the scandal is at it's peak and all news papers are writing about it left-right, some other person would comment on something else and the focus changes!

There was no politician as good as E K Nayanar to give out funny quotes in regular intervals. He was the best at it. I think nobody would ever come to his level. (and the best part is, he always made such comments which were really true - and every one protested)

So, what is the issue now? This person Balan said that Gods are nude and there should be a ruling about it in the legislative assembly. I don't know why on earth he needs a ruling on that? (BTW, what exactly is meant by a ruling in the assembly?)

The opposition was just waiting for this. They protested. Finally the comment was removed from the records. Still the opposition made a walk-out. Can you imagine? It's not a silly place to do these kind of things.

Still it happens in Kerala. And my belief is that these kind of friendly-funny-fights would happen only in Kerala.

I think, for a person's retired life, Kerala is the best place to live. Not because it's God's own country. The reason is that it's the largest city in the world with all kind of entertainments like this (a city about 800kms long and 100kms wide - okay, don't fight on the length and width)

If you know Malayalam, go settle there in Kerala for your retired life. You'll never regret. I don't know what would happen in another 40 years, when I retire. I guess it would only improve :)

The blog was triggered by an article in Keralakaumudi. Now I shall translate a small paragraph from the article. I don't think I am violating any copyright here. Anyway I am giving them publicity.

The author is comparing WB and Kerala. He says that the latest developments in WB are really too bad ... and all blah blah. Finally he comes to Kerala side.

Kerala has such a flawless system so that no such crisis will happen. Five years of rule, then five years of revolution. Again five years of rule. It goes just like that without getting bored. Not only that, the energy for revolution wont get depleted too. This is a mechanism similar to recharging of battery. Five years of anti-people rule, even if the enthusiasm for revolution is gone, the next five years of being opposition would recharge it.

There are many ways of public protest to recharge it. Even if these ways are not used, the ruling party would create enough opportunities to revolt.

Another advantage is that you wouldn't have to stay the same all the time to the monopolies.

The first five years you can invite coca-cola and make them start their production-plant. Then in the next five years, you can close the plant with all kinds of strikes.

Similarly, you can bring ADB and give them all respect and sweet reception. And after five years when you change the side you can beat them up and make them run away.

You see, these things are not possible in WB. That is the problem with WB. If it were Kerala, we could have initially protested against the monopolies and finally we could have got them what they wanted - without hurting anyone. ;)

I haven't done enough justice to the article. My translation sucks. Still it was so funny and so true that I couldn't avoid writing it down.

This Kerala-model is super good and that's why Kerala is different. :)
(What would happen in the future is a unknown though)

Signing off, Sands.


16 March 2007

Carpe Diem - Seize the day

First thing first - this is the song Pravahame.. Swararaagaa Ganga Pravahame

Yesterday I got my Start-Deutsch-I certificate. I am done with the very basic level of German. I am supposed to understand small notices or even small ads you find in new-papers. I am not yet expected to speak well. I guess it would take another year to reach that level.

Trust me, German is not that easy. I am not cribbing, learning Tamil was 100 times easier. The reason is that I am a malayali and I can relate to Tamil well.

German happens to be an entirely different language with all different rules and constructs.

In the past courses, I was attempting to learn the language without translating the whole thing to any language known to me. Yeah, means - by hearting it. I was doing that well. I did it because I didn't want to translate everything into Malayalam/English to understand. I wanted to understand German in German itself - some kind of boot-strapping. I was very successful too (apparently, I happen to be the topper in the class - just to prove that I was not wrong with my approach)

Towards the end of the course, I had to force myself to start thinking in Malayalam to really get the thing. Anyway I shall be sticking to the policy of learning German in German.

- flash back -

Once in Chennai, I was going in an auto. Guru was with me in the auto. It was somewhere near Santhome (the route of bus 12B).

Guru : Hey kuttan, you think in Malayalam before you speak. right?

I : Of course. My thoughts are in Malayalam.

Guru : That is one of the reasons why you are very fast. Even before you start the sentence, you have the whole thing in mind. And you say it out as fast as you can.

I had to agree with that. It took a long time for me to adjust the speed of my English. Chechi used to tell me to reduce the speed.

Anyway, I can't say now which is my language of thought. For counting I use Malayalam for sure. Surprisingly, priyakkutti uses English to count. She doesn't know this. But in the depths of her thoughts, counting happens in English.

Like the above one, there were many things which made me decide to learn German in German. That will help me to think in German. Thinking in German will help me to master the language easily.

A word about my teacher. She is simply a lovely lady. She definitely comes in the category of Pramode sir of ICLabs, Balakrishnan sir of PCT-classes, CPR & HAM of IITM and all those great teachers I've had. At times I feel that Daniela teaches even better than everyone mentioned above.

I have my reasons: all others had their languages to teach whatever topic they wanted to teach. But, from the very beginning Daniela is showing the art of bootstrapping. She speaks only German in the class room.

At present, her students are a little experienced, but I can't imagine how she managed to communicate with us without using a single English word in the beginning. Hats off to her.

I am really very grateful to her. I can feel the hardcore respect for her. Let me put an example for respect. Pramode sir is like a friend to all of us. Still I can't speak with him just like I speak to a friend. There is some *deep* respect for him which always keeps him at sky-level.

I never believed that the duty of a teacher is to teach well. That is the traditionally believed notion. According to me, a teacher's job is to get the student fall in love. Fall in love with the subject. Then student needs no one's help to learn, learning becomes making love with the subject.

All the teachers I mentioned earlier were following the strategy I mentioned.

Fine, the blog is going in a flow and I got to wind it up now. The length of the entry is directly proportional to the amount of boredom it creates and inversely proportional to the number of people reading till the end and (finally +vely commenting). :)

I can't leave without mentioning this one more thing. Today I completed first 25 years of my life. Wow, that's cool! I was surprised by the number of wishes I got.

I still don't get a feeling that I've grown up. The seriousness hasn't come to me. I know, the seriousness I just mentioned would never come to me. I want to remain always like this - dynamic and I would always.

But not everyone shares my point of view. Some of them think that I've grown enough to start saving money. I had told them that I wouldn't save even a single penny until I turned 25. Now I got to find some excuse ;)

That's all for now. Lot more to write..

After all, you came till here. As a reward you listen to this song, relax yourself for a while, then move on to the next web page.

Manjal prasaadavum nettiyil charthi (Chitra Rocks)

Signing off, Sands

PS1: TAG@IITM and CC@IITM were deliberately left out because they just taught well, didn't motivate enough like others.

PS2: AMP, in case you are reading this post - I shall reply to your mail soon.

PS3: Carpe Diem is a Latin phrase which means seize the day. Basically, the message is "LIVE your life".


8 March 2007

The beauty of "blah blah".

I was looking for some material for Linear Algebra and landed up at MIT Open Course Ware. I was looking into a couple of courses available.

If you want to see the beauty of teaching, just watch this (220K) or this (56K).

I specifically chose this lecture since I still remember how was the same topic taken by Hema Murthy @ IITM. She is a very good teacher and I admire her very much, but this teacher simply beats her!

This is how classes are to be taken.

Signing off, Sands.

PS: Atleast IIT-ians would know what the title means! ;)


7 March 2007

Too early to have bath; That scares me!

Oh my dear blog, I am sorry to have left you unattended for the past few days. Probably it was the longest of all the times I've kept myself away from you. Please understand me, I had some reasonable reasons for my deed. Anyway, I am back to you with all the energy in my heart and fingertips.

Climate is changing, temperature is rising, spring is on it's way. In a couple of days, all the open grounds will be filled by them who want to have sunbath. This time, I too am planning for sunbaths. I've been changing color. I am becoming fairer as time passes. I should have sunbaths to get my normal skin back.

This is just the beginning of March and spring is already here. I fear that the coming summer is going to be too hot to bear.

I shall come with more stuff, may be in the evening.. or tomorrow. A lightning just struck me and I wanted to come back to blog. Am I slightly crazy? (should I remove the word 'slightly'?)

Song of these days - Karu Karu Vizhikalal - Super lyrics too.

Signing off, Sands.

PS: The spell-checker says there are no spelling mistakes in this post.