Sunday, October 18, 2015

Europe 2015

All our bags are packed.. we're ready to go!

Sep 26-27: Pittsburgh to Toronto 

to Zurich at 8am.

View from Novotel:

Bought swiss travel.pass for 251 CHF per person for 4 days starting Sep 28. In addition bought 13 chf pass per person for Sep 27 to travel within Zurich.

Took train from airport to Novotel hotel. Since time difference between US and Switzerland is 6 hours,  we slept for 2 hours and then took a tram to "old town". 

Ate veg panini in a restaurant called "Motta".

Then walked around town and took the low boat ride in the river that flowed into the big lake.
There were very healthy swans in the river.

Then went for a big boat ride (not low boat) for a 15 minute ride and then walked back to Zurich downtown.

On the way we walked in the park a bit south of zurich and since I did not have swiss francs,  a Pakistani waiter (young man) leant us a cappuccino. I took his contact and intend to help him as he said he'd done his ms in IT from London.

Then dinner in a vegan restaurant called tibits.

Walked/ discovered a wonderful street north of Motto with a very European look (cobble stones etc). I think it was called niederstall strasse.
Back to the hotel..

Day 2: got up at 10 am because of jetlag. Breakfast/lunch  in Motto again. Walked around town and took a polytrain to the zurich university.
Took a big boat (to a place called kli*), then came back to hotel and heard from neel about being low on funds.
Had a big fight because of that.
Headed to Bern after nightfall.
Took s bus to old city altho we could have walked out too (20 minutes).
Reached old city and stood in line to watch the guy in the clock to strike a gong 8 times along with a  100 other tourists.
Then checked onto golden schlussel hotel on rathausgasse which is right in the center of old town.
Then rested for 1 hour and headed out for walking around old town.
Ate in a place called spaghetti factory. Quite lousy. Also walked into a place called casino thinking it was a casino but it turned out to be a private party.
Day 3: Next morning started at 9 am. Had a very nice breakfast in golden schlussel.
Walked the length and breadth if old town. Also saw a place where there were bears (an enclosure for bears) altho we couldn't see any.
Then went to see Einstien's house followed by by a visit to the Einstien's museum.
Then got got on a train train to Luzerne around 2 pm with the intention to take  the golden pass express at 6.
Met a sweet old lady (teacher), swiss lady lady who lady who plans ladywhoplanson ladywhoplansontravelling ladywhoplansontravelling ladywhoplansontravellingtomyanmar next month.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

String Theory and the Vedanta Sutra

I'm the last person to claim erudition in either String Theory or in the Vedas. I am, what you may call, an interested party observing the Intelligent Design vs Evolution debate like a tennis match.

However, last week  when I heard this TED talk given by Dr. Brian Greene I felt I had to jump in with an observation.
That the scientific community and the scriptures are saying the same thing is in itself not so earth shattering an observation because many have concluded this before. But when I hear  Dr. Greene talk about a Multiverse and then I listen to Ved Vyas talk about सहस्त्र ब्रम्हांड (Sahastra Bramhand) while reading the Bhagvad Gita, I feel compelled to list out the parallels between the two approaches.

Dr. Greene speaks in English with Latin references and Mr. Vyas in Sanskrit

Dr. Greene wears a coat and tie; Mr. Vyas has an indeterminate wardrobe.

Both these gentlemen are leaders in their fields having spent countless years pouring over sources of knowledge to uncover the nature of reality.

Dr. Greene relies on inductive reasoning whereas Mr. Vyas uses deductive reasoning.

Dumbing-down of the principles:
Since the subject of explaining reality is no trivial matter, both these gentlemen attempt to dumb down their explanation for the laity.
Dr. Greene uses graduate students to make colorful slides with sound effects that  then depict colliding galaxies and dark matter in a star-wars like manner.
Mr. Vyas uses descriptions of rituals and vedic rites that dumb down the underlying principles espoused in the Vedas that are difficult to grasp.

Standing on the shoulders of giants:
Both Dr. Greene and Mr. Vyas attribute their success to entities before them. Dr. Greene waxes eloquent on the work done by such luminaries as Galileo, Newton, Neils Bohr, Hisenberg etc. Mr. Vyas on the other hand, names many past sages and saints of a time before his. The subtle difference is that Dr. Greene's predecessors are arrayed from less knowledgeable to more knowledgeable as time goes on whereas Ved Vyas relies on each predecessor being progressively less knowledgeable as the arrow of time advances. So, while Galileo was not as knowledgeable  as Newton, who was a not as knowledgeable as Einstein, Ved Vyas's bases his theory on each saint, going backward in time knowing more than his descendant, all the way to the final saint who he calls God, the all-knowing.

Multidimensional reality:
Both gentlemen use the concept of a multidimensional reality to explain what would commonly seem nonsensical. When the Vedas talk of God being timeless, or the soul being ever-lasting, they are talking of a reality where the time dimension does not exist. When Dr. Greene talks of  various "shapes" in this TED talk, he is talking about more then 3 dimensions of space. Using neighborhood theory, dimensions can be defined as how many points are next to every other point in a lattice grid. Four points implies 2 dimensional, 6 points implies 3 dimensional.  Every point next to every other point implies infinite dimensional.  So when Mr. Ved Vyas' talks of God being everywhere at the same time, he is talking about an infinite-shape reality, much like what  Dr. Greene has shown in his talk.

Having said all that, and shown how both the camps are making equally fantastic claims, I have to  say that I'm rooting for Mr. Vyas.
Why is that?
There are a couple of reasons:

  1. Given that both camps make equally fantastic claims, if one hypothesis offers all the answers that explain everything, not only material reality but our thoughts and all aspects of our existence, whereas the other suggests that answers are coming in the future (which is indeterminate), I would tend to go for the former.
  2. Dr. Green in his talk, says this is a great time for astronomical research because in the future, galaxies will cross the time horizon and no longer be available for study. He also goes on to say that future scientists may treat our evidence primitive and unreliable. So, that, kind of puts a damper on the theory that given eternity, all answers will come. 
  3. There is a fundamental dimension missing in research in our "scientific" circle. That dimension is consciousness. We all know we are conscious and feel conscious. However, based on the fact that this area of study receives a proportionately low level of  research grants, tells me that we are probably never going to represent reality in it's totality using just the mainstream scientific method.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Origins of life and matter

Here are some audio files that made me look at the whole argument on Darwin's Origin of Species and the Big Bang Theory with a little (more than a little) suspicion.
  1. Purpose of BI
  2. Bag Bang 1
  3. Big Bang 2
  4. Empirical Evidence And Consciousness
  5. Consciousness
  6. Evolution 1
  7. Evolution 2
  8.  Evolution 3
  9. Natural History 1
  10. Natural History 2
  11.  Higher Dimensional Science
  12. Properties Of Spirit
 They've been spoken by Robert Thompson, an ISKCON devotee. To me they make a LOT of sense.
Give it a try!

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Neel's Graduation Party

    Neel is gradually growing his wings and getting ready to take flight! These last few months of his senior year in High School have been a blur of games and parties. (In his own words: " I got to be honest... life is good!").

    We celebrated his graduation with a backyard party on Jun 18th.
    Here are some pictures:
    Neel Graduation Party
    Among the many (other) forms of entertainment that was showcased on that day, was a "hoedown" that was put up by Neeraj, Manish, Jatinder and myself.
    The hoedown was inspired by the improv show called "Whose line is it anyway".

    Here is a video of that hoedown. (Thanks, Aayush for recording the video :)

    Some of our friends asked me to share the words/lyrics of the hoedown, so I am posting them here:
    1 I was born in Lucknow, India
    The year was Ninety Three
    My parents named me Neel Krishna
    I was a really cute baby
    My papa and my mama,
    God bless their loving souls
    Took a flight to U S A
    To a place I now call home

    2 A lot has happened in my life
    Between that day and now
    And if you listen to me
    I will tell you how.
    El-ementary school was cool,
    Tho’ I don't recall a lot
    Mama Papa's word on that
    Is really all I got

    3 Then I got to middle school
    I hope I do not blush
    When I tell you secretly
    On all girls I had a crush
    Junior High was girls and games
    Things took off rather slow
    I was taking all this in
    When cold winds began to blow

    4 High school my friends, is where
    My story takes a twist
    So I will take the scenic route
    Rather than the gist.
    Dreaming was my passion
    And homework was a lot of work
    I had no time to sit and dream
    It was driving me berserk

    5 Soon I found the time to dream
    It was more science than an art
    The period of Biology
    Is when I would really start.
    The teacher's voice came from a-far
    Like a rapidly moving train
    That had jumped off it's steely rails
    On a up and down terrain

    6 Neel Krishna, my boy, it said
    Wake up and pay some heed
    Through the misty corners of my mind
    I thought I heard it plead.
    I raised my head in looked around
    A tad bit off the desk
    Was this a dream I was dreaming
    Or had my teacher turned grotesque?

    7 It was a dream, indeed, I said
    And a smile lit up my face
    Closing my eyes again I slept
    His memory to erase
    Oh what fun to dream and sleep
    I have to you admit
    With a family as cool as mine
    Should I ever commit?

    8 Show me your class grades son
    Was my father's constant refrain
    ESembler and counsellor meetings
    Were a huge neck in the pain.
    I realized then and there that day
    It wasn't easy to be lazy
    What I forgot to consider was that
    That my parents were... desis!

    9 School was a welcome escape my friends
    Boy, What a terrific relief!
    Not a day passed by when
    In having fun I did not believe
    From the time I rode the bus to school
    Till my car I drove oh boy!
    Rarely a day had passed
    When I had had no joy!

    10 You can be what you want to son
    My father would recount
    Who knew how easy it was to do
    With a facebook account!
    So clone myself, I did one day
    Mark Zukerberg was a help
    A new image of myself I made
    Right off the cyber shelf!

    11 One thing I hated with all my guts
    In my little homebound sector
    Misries shizrees all aside
    It was papa da lecture
    Real or virtual existence my friend
    I still have got to eat
    Dinner at home I have to say
    Without a lecture was incomplete

    12 I hated papa’s lectures so
    Not because they made me blue
    I hated them with vengeance then
    Because they were so true.
    The only hope in sight for me
    To get out of my plight
    Was the soothing sound of Mama’s words
    Mera ladka hai bahut bright

    13 This dream state persisted then
    One cannot but deny
    From two thousand eight to o-eleven
    At North Allegheny High
    Between dream and reality thus
    My high school years did pass
    Standing here today is
    A fact I can contrast.

    14 Today, I'm a grad-u-ate
    My future looks bright and straight
    With good wishes from all of you
    What is there to debate?
    But truth be told, don’t get me wrong
    I am very e-lated
    But the concept of a graduation party
    Isn’t it over-rated?

    There was also some lines I wrote (in the same meter) that I could not recite on that day due to lack of time. Those words are a little more serious and were from me to Neel. (I did recite them for Neel later on that day and he liked them :). I am posting them too:


    A Dad's Perspective

    To all the dad's here today
    This goes out to you all
    Let's not forget the time my friends
    When we were four feet tall.
    Don’t know about you my friend
    But the truth has to prevail
    There were times when we felt like Neel.
    There was no fear to fail

    Books and labs took up our days
    But I'd really be amiss
    If I did not admit to you
    That dreaming was a bliss
    I dreamt of things big and small
    But by and by I knew
    That of all the things that I got in life
    The most beautiful gift is you

    An August day in ninety three
    When I first saw you on a tray
    When I look at you standing tall today
    My pride I can display
    The pride I feel is not for real
    Because a force that is unseen
    Has made you what you are today
    And will always be between

    Neel I have to say this to you
    In words that may not rhyme
    That being your dad
    Has brought to me, happiness sublime
    There were times I must admit
    I was pulling out my hair
    I'm sure you know the times I mean
    I'm sure you are aware

    The life lessons that I gave to you
    That would end up in a brawl
    Were given with the hope that
    I'd hold you before you fall
    In the past when times were hard
    I was mean to you and smug
    I’d do the only thing that makes some sense
    I’d make up with a hug

    When you look up to me and say
    Papa you have no fault
    I have tell you how wrong you are
    Take my advice with a pinch of salt.
    When you climb the ladder of your life
    Your dreams to pursue
    Don't slip up on the advice I gave
    I may have missed a rung or two.

    Like clouds can’t hide the sun for long
    Your honesty has always shone
    And as the years have gone on past
    My respect for you has grown
    So when I look at you today
    My heart fills up with joy
    I thank our God who made you a
    Fine and wonderful boy


    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Gita - Sanskrit + Hindi from Gitamrta.org

    Hello friends,

    I listened to an audio stream of the Gita translation in Sanskrit and Hindi from Gitamrta.org.

    I was so moved by the rendition that I made some mp3s of each chapter. I especially like the pace of the narration because it moves fast thru each shlok (without the explanation) That kind of gives a continuity to the dialog. For me, I'd rather read the Gita quickly a hundred times and peel off the intricacies of the divine dialog with each reading, as against reading it once or twice with an explanation.

    So I requested the creator of this archive if I could share the mp3s that I have recorded.
    And very kindly, he agreed with a simple "no problem"!

    So, here's the BG in Sanskrit and Hindi by chapters. It is produced by Kamlesh Patel (of Karamsad.com) and the narrator is Savyasachi Das:

    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2

    More coming soon...

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    Halloween 2009

    We had a Halloween Party on the 31st.
    Big guys acting like kids... and having a blast at it.

    Shalini was a fortune-teller
    I was a coolie AND a ... hold your breath... rockSTAR!

    Click here for pics:

    Halloween Party

    Thursday, August 13, 2009

    Wonderful trip to the Wild West!

    Nine glorious days in the wild west to see man-made wonders (Las Vegas) and God made marvels (San Diego beaches, Bryce night sky and a boat ride between towering canyon walls). At the end of it all, I get the feeling of how insignificant we and our lives are!

    Click here to view: