Categories
Books

An Atlas of Impossible Longing – Anuradha Roy

I read a few pages of the hardbound copy of this book every morning last week. On Saturday, I finished it in a marathon reading session. It was done. I had got back to the habit of reading books, again. I had crept away from the habit citing lack of books as the problem. Then I found a library – a public library on Facebook – in Bharuch.

An Atlas of Impossible Longing is a book by Anuradha Roy. Her debut book. The story straddles several genres – reverse migration from cities, nostalgia, romance, loneliness, partition stories, a tale on generations of a family, and much more. It doesn’t work seriously towards fitting into any genre and this is what endeared me to this book at first. I read through this book in fits and starts, through early morning bus rides cutting across small villages that dot the road between Bharuch and Dahej. As industries rise up, I am reminded that it is time to close the book. It is for running this industry that the lead character in the first part of the book comes to a small town.

As the story unfolds in the later two generations, it turns to romance and towards loneliness. These aspects take up more time of the central character. The story also moves from the very simple and the very practical to the very complicated and the very romantic. In a way, it traces the generational differences between the several Indian generations into the seventies and the eighties. It explores how as we get more and more crowded we become more and more lonely and yearn for company.

These are two themes that I noticed developing through the length of the book. The author must be applauded for some very descriptive settings and for some new analogies. I would have prefered a paperback to a hard bound copy of the book. I also felt that the male characters weren’t as well-developed as the female leads. Something to work on, I guess.

I now have a copy of Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi in my hands.

Categories
Movies

Dam 999

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

I wanted to write this before I became biased by any opinion and I doubted if my writing was coloured by said biased opinions. I watched Dam 999 today at FAME, Bharuch. I quite loved the film.

The story is dedicated to the 250,000 people who died in the Banqio Dam Disaster in 1975. The story apparently took 15 years before it came out from behind the Great Wall. I would thin that one incident would be sufficient to rethink dams and the way dry lands can be irrigated. It also is a story in anticipation on what politics between the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and political gains could potentially be disastorous for 3.5 million people living downstream of the Mullaperiyar Damin Kerala (note that the Wikipedia article seems more about the controversy than the Dam itself!).

I am not much of a film critic beyond saying whether saying I enjoyed the film or not.

Categories
Geography

#pincodegeo

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

During preparations of WikiConference India 2011, I had wanted to do an OpenStreetMap workshop. Lack of internet stopped us from doing it at the Conference venue as well.

After the Conference, I’m now trying to learn and edit OpenStreetMap myself. As I thought of basic things that could be mapped, I was reminded about my frustration of not being able to put a different (and correct) pin code for my locality in Google MapMaker. I have stopped editing Google MapMaker since there are a few issues there that are still not being sorted out. That’s a different blog post.

So, I started asking around on Twitter on whether there was a list of pincodes for all states of India. I found this from Gautam John via Sengupta who remembered that this data had been shared on a Googlegroup called Datameet.

:)

I have now uploaded the same onto Google Docs (thanks to Mehul Ved for reminding me this existed  ) where I have enabled public editing of this data so that we can geotag it (i.e. get latitude and longitude of the post office) and then perhaps even add it on the town/locality’s article on Wikipedia, where I hope the data will be useful.

Use this short link – http://goo.gl/c9ksz – to share the data set.

How this data can be edited and utilised is being discussed on a Google Group that I created for this purpose. Do join it if you like.

Google docs also allows you to download the data so that you can play with it as well in a format you like. Do play with it and let us know on the Google Group.

Categories
Movies

Rockstar – Review

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

This is the first movie review I am posting.

I really had only two options for a movie to watch and I chose Rockstar. The choice was quite easy since the other option was to watch the Adventures of Tintin (in Hindi). I am quite happy that I made this choice. Rockstar is a movie that plays with great character building, stunning visual scenery and awesome music. I like the open ended storyline and a back and forth narration.

Categories
Space

Phobos-Grunt

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

Phobos-Grunt was to launch at the very early hours in the morning in India and hence I did not look up the time before the launch.

The first reminder on the upcoming launch came from Srinivas Laxman whom I rang up on Sunday. After exchanging notes on the recent visit of Yuri Gagarin’s daughter to Mumbai and the upcoming unveiling of the Gagarin bust at the Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai. Talk inevitably turned to the two Mars missions – the Mars Science Laboratory and Phobos-Grunt (I like the way Russians name their spacecraft!).  We recollected the link between Chandrayaan-II and Phobos-Grunt but were not too enthused by the early morning launch hour. Both share similar lander design and Phobos-Grunt was sort of a dry run for the Chandrayaan-II lander.

Early morning as I headed to work, Twitter was flooded with news about problems with Phobos-Grunt. The Phobos-Grunt was launched into its first orbit by the Russian Zenit rocket. Apparently an orbit boost maneuver which was to be performed was not performed. This was spotted by veteran Satellite watcher, Ted Molzcan who wrote about it. Russia confirmed that this was the case today morning after a lot of speculation on Twitter. First, it was predicted that they had 3 days to fix the problems on the spacecraft. As the day progressed, news came in that data indicated that the batteries on-board were recharging and hence they had about a 2 week period to be “saved”.  Interestingly, the story put out by ROSCOSMOS chief say that they expected this mission scenario during the planning stage and have a fix planned out.

Emily Lakdawala updated via Twitter and her Planetary Society blog while Anatoly Zak provided a more complete picture on his website. Emily’s blog provides a better picture of the confusion that prevailed among folks after there was no word from Russia’s space agency, ROSCOSMOS. If you, like me, are interested in the technical nitty gritties, do head on over to the discussions on NASASpaceflight.com Forums where this event is being discussed live with updates and translations.

This has been an interesting story to follow. It brings out the need for more information and the work of amateurs in the contribution – to help in such scenarios even while such installations such as the Deep Space Network’s of the various space agencies of the world exists. It is an interesting world that we live in.

Categories
Digital

How Google Reader’s change changed the way I share online?

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

Somehow, all the changes that Google is making to Gmail, Reader et all to make them all look similar has changed the way I use the internet. That’s a pretty powerful impact for one company to have.

I have now started reading blog posts and email on my mobile phone (a Nokia E63). Earlier, my mobile phone was used primarily for Facebook and Twitter and that too for looking up birthdays or to make status updates.

I have over the past two days set into motion a particularly set routine for doing things online. I use Google Reader on mobile (I really hate Google for killing off competition in the RSS readers market) and then star them if it is something I’d like to share. I then get home, open my laptop and use Google Reader’s Starred Item and share the items on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

I get many things from twitter. These get re-tweeted and shared into my bookmarks on Opera. When I get home these get shared via Google+ and Facebook as well.

I tried using something like delicious as well but that is definitely not something for me. I tried for sometime to look for nice alternatives to Google Reader, then decided to let others look and change how I used my mobile and my internet instead. These were easier than looking for a new alternative, switching stuff to that alternative and then using it. Too many things. Very little time.

Categories
Personal

A new Dell Inspiron 14R

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

I am now waiting for the arrival of a brand new laptop. This will be the first laptop that I buy off money that I earned. The laptop is a Dell Inspiron 14R, Intel Core i3 processor with a 2 GB RAM and a 350 GB Hard Disk configuration. This seems very little in today’s world of terabyte level consumption, however, this is what I have asked for.

Only thing that put me off a bit in the Dell experience is that their website provided wrong information. Following this webpage, I went to the Staples store in R City Mall which had only 1 DELL laptop in the whole place! The Dell Experience Zone is actually on the ground floor inside Croma. A little off-putting but it’s now ordered and expecting it around November 8, 2011.

Also thinking of reading Michael Dell’s book.

Categories
Personal

To Mumbai and back

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

Diwali gave me my first occasion to return home from Bharuch. This is a relatively small route to travel but is perhaps the busiest. Being on the straight Mumbai-Delhi line via Ahmedabad means some pretty heavy rush on the train lines. Wait listed tickets and endless refresh button clicking ensued.

The Bharuch (BH is the Indian Railway short code for Bharuch Junction) – Mumbai Central (BCT is the Indian Railways short code for Mumbai Central) journey was nice enough. Got on board at 2338 hrs and reached Dadar at 0415 the next day and reached home by about 20 minutes.

I used IndiaRailInfo.com to get the time-table. The website is pretty accurate in this regard. I also found it had this volunteer group that did many interesting things around the website – reported train progress reports, guessed whether a waiting list ticket would get confirmed or not (it predicts this but does not claim accuracy) and provides a very basic interface. I first started using this website in January when Kirk was here. Slowly I began to notice some of the crowdsourcing features around this website. One more piece in India’s strange love story with its Railway network.

IndiaRailInfo.com predicted that my ticket would be confirmed, however it did not and I returned from home by bus – a Neeta Volvo. I slept pretty well and reached Bharuch at 0430 hrs and walked the last mile home.

As I type this, I am back in Bharuch and back to work.

Categories
Movies

Watching Snehaveedu in Bharuch

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

Yesterday being a Sunday, I took a long walk into the shopping hub of Bharuch. The walk took me about 40 minutes to cover.

Bharuch has this wonderful collection of cows, buffaloes and donkeys that run around on the street that makes it a unique driving experience if nothing else. It also has quite a number of fountain soda spots for really cheap rates. The other exquisite feature of Bharuch is some of the wonderful mosques that dot the city.

Bharuch has two multiplexes (multiple screen cinemas) – INOX and FAME. There are several single screen cinemas here as well, which going by the looks still run movies and seemed profitable. I went to FAME cinemas to watch a Malayalam movie, Snehaveedu.

The movie was okay – a plain story unlike many of the movies that we see today. A very simple story told well. You can learn more or less about the storyline by reading the Wikipedia article linked above.

This post is more about the experience than the movie. To give you some context, Bharuch is a town playing a Malayalam movie whereas all it plays are Hindi movies. It does not play English movies. The idea of watching a Malayalam movie here seemed surreal, to say the least. Lots of Malayalees from around the city dropped in. The other thing, which I have not yet written here about is the monthly Kerala meals served on the first day of the Malayalam calendar month. More on that, some other day, perhaps.

Categories
Personal

At Bharuch

I usually look up the place I am going to – if not days in advance then at least while going there using a mobile web application. While reading up about Bharuch where I have been since October 6, 2011, I found little or no information. The geographical information (which I have taken recent interest in learning more about) about the place is lacking. The Wikipedia article on the town just keeps on repeating a similar set of facts and figures and is in need of copy editing and addition of a lot of information. Google Maps doesn’t do much better. While it has captured major town locations, it does not have road names for every road. In short, it is a mapper’s paradise.

All of that said, my first experience of staying in any place other than Mumbai can be best defined with just one word – SLOW. Bharuch is a slow town. It is a small town. Although, it is a town that is growing at a frentic pace as the nearby Dahej SEZ project is building up. The landscape is changing – faster than the pace of life here. People seem to be only coming to terms with the change. Slowly, there are more people from outside Bharuch in Bharuch than people who are originally from Bharuch.

It has been 2 weeks since I have been in this town. I have spent most of that time going to and fro to work and learning the ropes there. I am yet to go into town and explore it like it should. Mostly, it is the heat that stops you from wanting to go out anywhere after 9 AM in the morning. Then, it’s only after 4 PM that it is even worth considering going out. The constraints that this places means that I have not had time to explore this town.