Friday, September 22, 2006

Weekend Whining

Amartya Sen was at IU yesterday, and he talked about Identity and India. It was the first time I was breathing the same air a Nobel Laureate was breathing. That must do something to me, I guess. He read from a prepared lecture, and inspite of that, it was an entertaining one. When the brightness of the lights in the auditorium was increased, he joked, "I can see now that I am spreading enlightenment". During the QA session, when somebody asked him, if there were any books other than his own he would recommend somebody for getting an understanding of India, he said he didn't see his books in that light, and said he was surprised that his The Argumentative Indian was a bestseller, he then joked that the best complement he ever received for that book was last week, when his publisher Penguin, mailed him telling him that 15,000 pirated copies of that book were seized in Delhi. There were other witty comments spread through his talk.

Technology can fail you in very significant moments, it happened to me twice this week. At Sen's lecture, I wanted to get his picture, but my camera would display "low battery" when I could get a good view of him, and when I did get it to work, he wasn't visible. All I could manage are the photos shown here. On september 21 I wanted to call my mother for her birthday, and knowing that she would leave for college, I rushed home with a calling card and using my friend's phone called home. All I could hear was my father saying hello, when the call ended and a message said all the card's charge was consumed. To think that I had spent 5 dollars on it. The next morning I had my mother call me, so I could wish her. Pathetic.

I've been eating outside these days, as I have little time between group meetings and classes to go home and eat. A chicken sandwich combined with ice cream or a coke has been my staple diet last week. Not bad on the palate, but not too good for my wallet. I got my first cheque for my work as an assistant instructor, two days back. I still need to buy a laptop. I was expecting Apple to release a laptop with the newest Intel chip, but looks like they're going to take their time. I get to access the internet only when at college, and so it's been some time since I had my hellos returned from the other side of the planet.

It's getting cold. I am shivering as I write this, but I need to get used to the current temperature, as I hear that in the winter when it will snow, even with all the layers of clothing, it'll still be as cold as it is now.
It's 9.40 now, I better be heading home for Dinner. Lest you should worry about my wellbeing, I only used whining in the title to sound well with weekend. I am well.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A month in the US

Last night, we drove to Indianapolis to watch a 10 pm show of Bommarillu at the IMAX theatre in Washington Street, that makes it my first movie in the US. Listening to a lot of praise for that movie, I went in expecting a movie that well, deserved all that praise. The movie, was not bad, and especially for a director working within the parameters of the love story with disagreeing parents, it was a fine job. But, we have Prakash Raj realising his faults as a father for the 40th time, Dharmavarapu playing the not anymore funny college lecturer, a heroine who wears long flowing skirts everyday and can walk only in hops and jumps and a hero who keeps jumping into the air every 30 minutes. Cliches abound, like in most Telugu films. The film was enjoyable though for some of its moments, but it's not a film that will be remembered once its run is over. In spite of all it attempts to say about a father-son relationship, there isn't anything profound.

Life's getting to usual, with classes and assignments. My only complaint is that my weekends are occupied with group assignments. The classes have been fun. On the first day of our HCI class, the professor tore open a packet of ketchup from McDonald's and squeezed all the ketchup onto a sheet of paper, then he did the same again, then again, four packets in all, before he threw the sheet with all the sauce into the wastebasket. He then distributed chewing gum, band-aid and Tetley tea. By his own admission, his classes are "sometimes weird". In that class, we were marvelling at the good design of some products and criticising the bad design of others. As is evident, the professor really liked the design of the ketchup packet that would open only if you intended to open it. Each one of his classes begins with listening to a music composition, and trying to understand its design.

In another class on informatics, the professor talking about the notion of semantics, gives us the example of a metaphor that takes different meanings in different contexts. He chooses "banging on the hips", from a poem. He tells us how a catholic upbringing would give one the meaning of a dance where you bang on the sides and then about the other meaning of sexual intercourse, while actually making gestures to indicate the two. The examples are always full of life and he always talks self-deprecatingly about his family and his former job studying the effects of shampoo on hair.

I am getting to meet more people, and I am slowly reaching that stage when I will be beginning a conversation without being asked to repeat my first line. At the place I am staying, there're a lot of Indians, and it's beginning to feel like home when I get back. I am not sure, what kind of a person two years here will turn me into, I hope I will like the end-product.

Friday, September 01, 2006

At Home in Bloomington

Park Doral Apartments

Apartment 2610

My Room, I got the bed and the chair in a furniture giveaway.

A senior gave me the table for free, the Lamp cost me $12, the photo prints were free from yahoo pictures, other decorations, window blinds and a tube light cost me another 40$ in all. That means a furnished room under $50, not a bad thing at all.

I've been cooking. It did taste good!