Friday, May 31, 2013

All the rage

How do I feel? What is my opinion? Where do I stand? What should I do? 

Questions that pop up mostly in situations where a definitive response or action is required on our part. Questions we used to ask ourselves probably half-a-dozen times a day a few years back and nearly a couple-of-dozen times a day these days (thanks to social networking).  Social networking has radically transformed the whole process of forming public opinion. It often puts us in the spot, forcing us to have and express an opinion on pretty much any issue that any of the 1 in 500 of your "friends" has brought up for discussion. 

One is pressured to use one of the many endorsement mechanisms such as retweet, like, comment, share and make his or her views public. Failure to contribute through any one of the aforementioned "endorsement" mechanisms is often construed as lack of empathy or even worse opposition. "Honest off-the-bat truthful and raw feelings", "continuously evolving opinions in response to greater exposure (and, hence, knowledge) over time", "a conscious decision to participate or stay out of the discussion", "a worthwhile tangible contribution to an issue" are unacceptable responses to the aforementioned questions anymore.

Personalities on social networks are carefully constructed avatars, sans the quintessentially human imperfections and vulnerabilities. People always seem so sure of themselves in their online avatars. However, when faced with a social issue, what is apparent is the lack of an analytical thought process and a thorough assessment of the issue (answering the 4 questions). Rather, what stands out is the need for a feeling of belonging, for not feeling left out (or lagging behind), for not coming across as unempathetic. I would like to restrict my observation to my Indian friends on social media.

Social media can be an effective catalyst for social change. However, it is often mistaken for the solution in India. Given the number of issues prevalent in this world (first, second, or third) and the overdose of social media rage, there have been very few instances when social media has actually made a difference - Arab springUK uncutmarriage equality campaign, Occupy <*> movement. India-specific campaigns, however,  failed to gain traction - India against corruption, legislation against sexual violence, government censorship. In our desperate need for conformance did we miss the whole point almost every single time? Do we just like the idea of change or do we want real change? Do we really believe that a profile picture, a shared image, a fiery status message, a tweet/retweet, or an endorsement does any good for any cause that we are for? Do we do it just to get the satisfaction of having announced our presence and intentions or of having made a contribution?

Social responsibility does not end with endorsements and online rage. One solution will not fit all the problems facing Indians and the Indian society. Sometimes real change starts from within. Sometime real education starts at home.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The List

I have been maintaining one in my head for sometime now, a list. A list of things I want to experience. I have been constantly updating the list over the years, ticking off items, adding new ones, and even deleting some. Whenever I have had the chance to discuss the same with my friends, I discovered that every individual had his/her own wish list.  Some of the recurring themes are traveling to exotic lands, extreme adventure sports, spiritual quest, learning languages and/or cooking, and pursuing fine arts. 

Never occurred to me that I have to put mine in writing (or Pin it as most people prefer to in our age of social networking) so that I don't forget it. Hope this serves as a constant reminder to myself to act on at least one every year, starting now. So here goes my list (in no particular order). 

  • Create a list of things to do
  • Learn to swim
  • Go karting
  • Ski
  • Sky dive
  • Fly an airplane (the small 2 or 4 seater of course)
  • Travel by ship (at least a week long trip...might settle for a cruise) 
  • Snorkel in Hawaii or the Caribbean
  • Bike along the Pacific coast in California (driving is NOT nearly good enough)
  • Run a marathon
  • Go to the foothills of an active volcano (already been inside the crater of a dormant one :-) )
  • Attend the F1 Monaco Grand Prix
  • Participate in and win a quiz show again with my team mate from school days
  • Teach history and science to kids
  • Go on a South African safari (MUST ride on elephant back)
  • Visit the Pyramids of Giza
  • Visit the holocaust memorial in Auschwitz
  • Walk the beaches of Normandy
  • Trek to Machu Picchu
  • Camp and trek in the Himalayas
  • Go to Alaska
  • A romantic holiday in the beaches of a secluded island in the Pacific or in the Indian ocean
  • A romantic holiday in Spain, France, Italy, and the Mediterranean 
  • Create a list and mention "romantic" twice in a row
  • Visit Jerusalem
  • Visit the Angkor Wat temple complex
  • Go to Sikkim, India 
  • Visit the far East (China/Japan/Korea anything works)
Okie. That's it for now. The list shall evolve. I dare everyone to make one!

Peace out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to build community?

I saw this poster at an ice cream shop called "Fairfax Scoop", Larkspur, CA. Left an indelible impression on my mind. Though it was worth sharing.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Excelsior is Latin for "ever upward".

Today, I watched Silver Linings Playbook. Excellent movie. Brilliant plot and narration well augmented by some power-packed performances from the protagonists. In the movie, the lead goes through a tough period in his life and in his efforts to get his life back on track chooses "excelsior" as his motto.

Now, moving on to my life....

I believe 2013 is going to be special in many ways. I will be spending a lot of time this year laying the foundations for the next step in my career and my ascent into a higher tax bracket. I am tired of filling "student" as my occupation in forms :-) I am in the fourth year of my PhD program and I see light at the end of the tunnel. There was a time not so long ago when I was convinced that I had made the worst decision of my life...trying to get a doctoral degree in engineering :-) I was petrified by the thought of never leaving the tunnel. Thankfully sanity prevailed (amply aided by an earful from the sibling) and I chose a simple strategy for myself "onward and upward". It doesn't matter whether you are in a tunnel or in an abyss. This simple strategy is bound to get you out of it and lead you to greener pastures.

So to all my friends who think they are not making progress in any word for you...excelsior.

Belated happy new year everyone! Have fun!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Installing ns-2.30 on Ubuntu 11.10 (for using EURANE)

I wanted to install ns-2.30 on my Ubuntu 11.10 so that I can use the EURANE (3G module) patch for ns2. I ran into some simple issues, which I thought might be worth sharing. This is my first technical post, so if you are not interested in ns2 simulations you can skip this post :-)

If you come across the following error 

" ns-allinone-2.30/otcl-1.12/otcl.c:2284: undefined reference to `__stack_chk_fail_local' " refer to the following blog post

If you get the following error 

"tclcl-1.18 make failed! Exiting ..." 

then cast the “const char*” to “char*” in line 566 in like this: char *p = (char*)strchr(localName, ‘(‘)

Do the same with all other lines that fail
in queue/ 876-879: (char*)strstr(v->name(), “ave”)
in queue/ line 565 to 571: (char *)strstr(v->name(), “ave”)…
in queue/ line 316 and 317: (char *)strstr(v->name(), “prob”)…
in queue/ line 333: (char *)strstr(v->name(), “curq”)
in queue/ line 335-337: (char *)strstr(v->name(), “ave”)…
in queue/ line 207: (char *)strstr(v->name(), “curq”)

Cast all lines that fail due to the  const char * error to  char *

This blog post is derived from 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Love All, Serve All, Help Ever, Hurt Never

The stranger...

I remember attending a Sai bhajan in Kovaipudur, Coimbatore along with my Mom and Grandfather when I was a little kid. I clearly remember it because...let me put it this way...I just happen to have a very good memory :) Nothing important here.

The God Man...

In the summer of my 5th grade, my grandfather wanted to visit Prashantinilayam in Puttaparthi. So all of us made a trip to the ashram. I still remember our stay in the ashram and how beautiful it was. I even remember seeing some letters written and left by devotees who had previously occupied the rooms we were staying in. It was one of the first times I saw people from various nationalities and backgrounds assembling at one place for one reason. The cleanliness, discipline, and the facilities in that place also made an indelible impression on my mind.

The Educator...

When I was in middle school, one of my close friends was (and even to this date is) this guy called Kaushik whose family members are ardent devotees of Sathya Sai. There was a small Sathya Sai temple in a house very close to my place in Coimbatore. They used to have these weekend classes called "Bal Vikas" in which they told us stories from the Bhagavatham, the Gita, about Shirdi Sai Baba, Sathya Sai and so on. It was also accompanied by bhajan sessions. Kaushik's parents along with mine and a few of our friends' decided it was a good idea to send us all there. As much as I enjoyed the classes once I was there, getting to that place was one big problem. The classes were held on Sunday mornings at 7am!

The school I went to had a very peculiar timing - 7am to 12.30pm, which meant I had to get up every day at 6am. The most important thing that I used to look forward to in the weekends was getting up late. But attending this class meant sacificing that precious three extra hours of sleep. But I learnt a lot in return. Being associated with the Sathya Sai movement definitely helped imbibe in me qualities like self-belief, religious tolerance, and giving. Was totally worth it.

The Philanthropist...

My friend Kaushik attended high school in Puttaparthi. He also went on to get his degree in medicine in a Sathya Sai medical institute. I remember him telling me about the super-speciality hospital and the medical facilities made available to the needy for free. I myself have witnessed first hand the development in Puttaparthi as I had mentioned earlier. I have always been amazed by Sathya Sai Baba's ability to mobilize help and and channelize resources to those in need.

Many a God men have come and gone. But a few have achieved what Sathya Sai has in his life time.

Did he claim to be God incarnate Himself? Yes.

Did he perform tricks to draw crowds and strengthen his followers base? Yes.

Was he a controvertial figure in his lifetime? Yes.

Has he left behind a good legacy? My answer would be a big yes!

Did I ever consider him God and worship him? No, but I have immense respect for what he has done.

In my opinion he is one of the greatest non-political leaders of independent India because all he said to his followers was "Love All, Serve All, Help Ever, Hurt Never".

Now that ain't bad, is it?

Sunday, September 27, 2009


This is not me. I do not write about my feelings. I TALK to people. But I want to let this one be and not discuss with anyone.

We were a wonderful bunch at school. We were so close back then, in fact we still are. We might not be chatting with each other everyday, but we always wish and hope for the best for each and everyone of us. We have shared many wonderful moments as kids and we still cherish it. We have never seen suffering or pain as a group before. I don't know for sure what has befallen us now. But I sincerely hope, whatever it is that is affecting our peace of mind right now is just temporary and soon things will get back to being normal and good. May God bless us all.