Saturday, December 15, 2012

A beautiful song...speechless

2nd post of the day. I was suppose to finish some stuff in the morning, but found out that the power to the buildings is shut. Hence, I decided to put one more post. I took some pictures that were clicked by me (80%) and then used multimedia to compile the song and the photographs..

This is a song I found online, an amazing thing about this song is the sincerity of the singer. For me it is one of those songs you listen and you know that the composer and singer have put their heart into it. Makes me teary...


Discovering the self, one step at a time

Lot of time has elapsed since I wrote a post, for reasons both personal and professional I was not in the correct mindset to pen things down. I went through many interesting and intense experiences resulting in ambivalent feelings. I will not go into the specific situations, but one thing that I have concluded is – anything and everything in the world exists only and only if it is in your experience or in other words theoretical, textbook, and things told by other people are just information that is fed and can nowhere be equated to real leaning. And so here is the 1st set of my learning’s:

1. No person can be labeled good or bad based on how they behave with you. Its all the about the time, at times people who you think are friends may behave like enemies and vice versa. The key here is not to get personal and emotional and look at things objectively. Keeping this in the mind helps us to see at the overall picture and not get caught up with individuals. And if there are people who are vindictive, malicious, and avaricious I would just advice to stay away from these individuals because there are tons of better things you can invest your precious time in, that’s a choice that you have always.

2. Emotional, social, or financial dependence on other people puts you at the receiving end, which can be very crippling and detrimental to your personal outlook and growth. I am not suggesting to be antisocial, but the point here is to share your happiness not seek happiness from external sources. Because no matter what you do outside situations, things, and people will never behave the way you want them. Intelligent people fix themselves i.e. work on inner technology not the other way round.

3. Meditate, meditate, and meditate. Yes meditate everyday, especially people who do have intense jobs that require use of mental horsepower. To explore the effects of meditation on my mind and body I did a small experiment, i.e. practiced meditation on a regular basis for 4 months and then stopped doing it for 3 months. Here is are my observations on benefits of regular meditation :
- recharges, resets, and restores body and the mind
- builds a reservoir of energy that you may have use in adverse situations or in other words makes          you feel strong not just be strong
- makes you more aware, alert, and efficient in daily work

4. For many people work fills a large part of the vacuum in life. Hence choose a job that you are passionate about. If you can get one, it’s the best things that can happen. Then you are like a self-propelled machine and it is one of the most fulfilling feelings. If, what you want to do and what you have to do agree – know that you are blessed!

5. Don’t react without thought. Sometimes in the heat of moment it is hard to resist and we snap back. If possible avoid this. I am more than convinced that at times silence can be golden and is very useful to diffusive an unfavorable situation. Many times, just keeping mum can do wonders. Whoever said “ You have 2 ears and one mouth so use the organs in that proportion” was 200% right. When to practice this will depend on the specific situation. 

Bye bye,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Paneer Masala

This is a very easy and nutritious vegetarian recipe. I love eating with bread, tortillas, or as it is.

Quantity here is enough for 2 - 3 people, provided there are other entrees.

- Olive oil
- Diced Paneer made from 1/2 gallon of whole-milk (Indian cottage cheese - see the post on how to make it at home)
- One medium sized chopped onion
- One diced green bell pepper
- One grated tomato
- Grated ginger, garlic (2 - 3 cloves),
- Half lime
- 2 jalapenos or half habanero sliced thin (depending on how much spice you can tolerate)
- Cilantro for garnish
- Spices (cumin, mustard seeds, salt, red chili powder, and turmeric)

1.Heat oil in skillet (do not overheat as it may burn the cumin and mustard seeds). Tip - you can check the heat by the throwing a cumin seed in the oil, if it burns - too hot, it it sizzles without burning - temperature is good).
2. Add few cumin and mustard seeds and stir briefly for 30 s.
3. Add chopped onions and stir for a few minutes, till the it looks like this

4. Add grated ginger and garlic and cook for 1 min on medium/high flame.
5. Add the peppers and cook for a few minutes.

6. Now added the grated tomatoes - this gives a natural red color to the dish. Mix everything well and let the tomatoes and vegetables cook for 2 min on medium/high flame.

7. Now add the spices. Chili powder and salt - to taste, turmeric - quater teaspoon) and mix everything up and cook on high heat for 2 minutes. Simmer the flame and let the spices cook for 3 minutes on a medium/low flame, do not burn it. If stuff sticks to the bottom of pan scrap it and reduce the flame. 

8. This is how it looks once the spices are cooked.

9. Add paneer cubes and mix up everything, be gentle and do not break the paneer.

10. Cook on medium/low flame for a few minutes and cover the skillet and let the dish simmer for a few minutes.

11. Once done remove te lid, add lime juice (to taste), and garnish with clean, chopped, fresh cilantro.

12. Serve piping hot with bread, rotis, naan, or tortillas. 


Monday, August 20, 2012

India's Olympic Achievement: Indifference

A Nice way to look at things.....Recently, this article by Mr. Theodore Dalrymple was in WSJ.

Earning just six medals (none gold), India largely ignored the Games. Therein lies its wisdom and glory

Interviewed last week for a British radio program on childhood obesity—British children are on track for the gold medal for fatness—I happened to hear a Nigerian sports journalist who said that his fellow countrymen were furious that no Nigerian competitor won a medal at the Olympic Games. After all, he continued, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with the largest financial resources; the government ought to spend more on sports facilities.
The interviewer very properly asked him whether the government might not have other priorities. It is certainly true that the first thought of any visitor to Nigeria wouldn't be: "This country desperately needs more world-class discus throwers."
The Nigerian journalist replied that there are always other priorities, for any activity at all. It depended on the importance you accorded to sports.
Precisely. And in this matter there is one shining beacon in the world: India. Its low tally of medals in the Olympic Games puts practically all other countries to shame. With a sixth of the world's population, it won only six medals, none of them gold—that is to say, it won fewer, pro rata, than half a percent of the medals won by Britain and 1.25% of those won by the U.S.
It is not that India tried and failed. It did not try, and therein lies its peculiar wisdom and glory. Almost alone of the nations of the world, it more or less ignored the Games. But it is India, whose government does nothing to encourage (or deter) its athletes, that is right, not the rest of the world.
There is a bimodal distribution of countries that are enthusiastic about winning Olympic medals: They are either populist or ideological. Britain, for example, falls into the former category. Woe betide the British person who dares to suggest that his country's excellent performance at the Games wasn't a sign of national regeneration but of national frivolity and meretriciousness, to which its population and its leaders now turn as naturally as some flowers turn to the sun.
There are no prizes for guessing into which category falls North Korea, which did about a hundred times better at the Games than India. There is nothing a totalitarian regime likes more than devoting its citizens to pointless activities, such as throwing the javelin, and then claiming, when one of them does it better than anyone else in the world, that it proves the brilliance of the dictator and the beneficent efficiency of his rule. How else could such excellence result?
No typology of complex social realities can be perfect, though, and so it must be admitted that there are intermediate forms between the two types of countries. The U.S. and Britain could be said to be intermediate, insofar as some politicians used the Games as a photo opportunity. Other public figures pointed to the prowess of their country's athletes as evidence that success comes with effort and determination. But was there ever a time when we did not know that?
India alone values the Games at their true worth—which is to say, approaching nil. It is not that Indians are completely indifferent to sports. They are crazy about cricket, a game whose considerable subtleties are lost on all who did not grow up with it but which teaches mental flexibility as well as specific skills.
But no official encouragement is necessary to promote this enthusiasm. On every field of every Indian city, ragged children can be seen playing with improvised equipment, as richer children play with the latest kits. It is no coincidence that, economically, India now dominates this most English of games. India has taken over cricket as its companies have taken over British companies.
For reasons that I am unable to fathom, for no person is less interested in sports than I, the United Nations Development Program regularly sends me updates on its efforts to promote economic and social progress through athletics. India, I am glad to say, does not believe in this nonsense.
Last Wednesday, India celebrated the 65th anniversary of its independence, and officials announced that it would send a space probe to Mars. This is something quite beyond the technical powers or prowess of its former colonial masters—though they, of course, did far better at the Olympics. I hope India will maintain its ability to discriminate between the worthwhile and the worthless.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weekend Rituals with Mandy

Weekends are spent playing with Mandy. Mandy is a female golden retriever, very smart, and super playful. She is very strong and does not get tired easily. I play fetch with her and sometime I hide her toys and let her find them. One of the games I also play is when I put her toy on the tree and then tell her to jump and get it. She is getting good at it. Also, golden retrievers have a very soft mouth i.e. they can carry 2 - 3 raw eggs in their mouth without breaking them. No wonder they were bred to retrive the hunt undamaged. Here are some pictures and a video of me playing with Mandy.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Technology for healing hearts...

Just read an article in Science Translation Medicine, where researchers have used nanofibers to repair heart. Here is what they did:

Currently, there are no approved therapies in regenerative
medicine for heart failure. In this work, scientists have used nanotechnology materials to repair vital tissues damaged by heart attacks in animals. The experiments, done in rats and pigs, led to the growth of fresh blood vessels and improved heart function without harmful side effects.
To promote blood-vessel growth in the heart, a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF was delivered. Previously this method hasn't worked well because the heart's blood circulation tends to rapidly wash away the VEGF. In this work the researchers developed an engineering fix for the problem. They made fibers from bits of protein and then assembled them into a lattice-like structure. Each fiber is just five nanometers wide and 100 nanometers long. The lattice structure is in the form of a sticky gel. The scientists mixed it with the VEGF and injected the combination into the hearts of two groups of test animals, rats and pigs, in which they had induced heart attacks. (Pig hearts bear significant similarities to human ones.) In both cases, instead of being washed away, the VEGF stayed on the lattice and slowly got released over several weeks.

Source: WSJ

Bone-marrow stem cells normally circulate in the blood and are part of the "repair crew" for damaged tissue. In the animal experiments, when those cells sensed the release of VEGF, they relocated to the heart and began to grow tiny blood vessels known as capillaries. The nanofibers create a special microenvironment in the heart for recruiting stem cells. However, fresh capillary formation isn't enough to help a failing heart. For regeneration to continue, stem cells from both the bone marrow and the heart itself must be coaxed to grow a second layer of tissue that is necessary for the formation of arteries, which are bigger and thicker than capillaries.

To the scientists' surprise, the prolonged release of VEGF achieved that result. The researchers also detected the creation of fresh heart muscle. This, too, is significant because the "scarring" tissue that naturally forms after a heart attack is thin and can get stretched in ways that alter the shape of the heart. In the latest experiments, the nanofiber gel appeared to strengthen these weak areas of the heart.
While the beneficial results in pig hearts were particularly important due to their resemblance to human ones, two challenges remain before the same technique can be safely attempted in people:
1. long-term effect in animals, and
2. determine the optimal time window" when the VEGF nanofibers need to be administered

Long live science...
For the aficionados, here is the full paper. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Grit - what separates the wheat from the chaff.....

Just got this article today, so thought of sharing with all. Read it, its inspirational!

"Came across an amazing and touching story about Dawn Loggins, a homeless American teenager, who got into Harvard recently. The story has so many life lessons.

Dawn grew up in a home without electricity and water. To wash her hands, she had to walk 20 minutes to get water. At times, she would take a bath or shower 4 - 6 times a YEAR. Just past the midpoint of high school, she was fortunate enough to gain entry to an elite summer program for promising students in her state. When she called her parents to come pick her up, she discovered that her parents phone had been disconnect. When she called friends to try and contact her parents, she eventually discovered her parents had moved out of state without telling her, without bringing her, and with no plans to return. In other words, Dawn had been abandoned.

Under these extreme circumstances, most people would simply give up on life. But, Dawn had a different idea. She knew that if she didn't do something about it, her life would take a path similar to her parents--and she definitely did not want to repeat their mistakes. Her dream?

She wanted to go to college and make something of herself.
Her dream of dreams?

To go to Harvard -- even though nobody in her area, in her school nobody has ever gotten into any Ivy League school let alone Harvard.

Her teachers and principal took turns letting her sleep on their couch and feeding her. To help pay the bills she took the job of janitor at her school -- cleaning the floors and toilets before school started each day. She would wake up at 4am to go to school to clean her classmates messes, attend school all day, do her after school activities, come home, study, sleep and repeat the whole process again. Her entire community helped to raise, shelter, feed and clothe her. Everybody pitched in where they could. And after all this hardship (and probably heart ache), Harvard sent a reply to her application... and She GOT IN!

Now lets examine this situation more closely. Dawn's grades were good, but definitely not perfect. Her test scores were good, but again not exceptional.

So why did Harvard say yes?


For someone in Dawn's situation, the magnitude of her accomplishment vs her resources was just exceptional.

One of professor at University of Pennsylvania Angela Duckworth has been doing some exceptional research in psychology and education. Her area of focus has been trying to answer the question of where does success come from. Her latest work has identified that one of the leading predictors of life success, that is MORE predictive of life success than grades, test scores, or degrees, is what she calls "Grit".

Grit is the ability to work HARDER in the face of ADVERSITY.

It is one thing to work harder when what you do is working and you're "winning", it is another thing entirely to refuse to quit, focus, and worked harder with absolutely no short term indicators that you'll succeed.

THAT is what Prof. Duckworth calls "grit".

Now going back to the story of Dawn and how she went from homeless to Harvard, the one thing she exhibited in spades (arguably more than any other in coming Freshman at Harvard) is GRIT.

Truly ANYTHING is possible. What a remarkably impressive young women".


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

From CAL with love - for my thesis advisor

Here are the pics of my farewell from CU. Although many group members were out on vacation and some busy with experiments, all those who were there enjoyed it. What did we do? We went out got some nice drinks and than started playing ULTIMATE. I loved it. As a matter of fact outdoor activities and sports are something I enjoy a lot. I am one of those guys who will be ready to play and learn any game. So we played 2 games and needless to say that both the times my team was the winner, although one thing I noticed was that my boss (Jim Hone) is a pretty awesome player. He can do a forehand, backhand, can throw the frisbee this way, that way etc etc. In the first game we were in the same team and we completely obliterated the opposition. Then Jim switched sides and we had a difficult time in beating his team, in fact we were able to score just one goal in the stipulated 15 minutes (pretty lame compared to the 5 golas we scored in 15 min when both of us were on the same side). 

Pre-game relaxation

Hone group - Partial 

I think we did a pretty awesome job

Oh man I am tired 

Let me text my friend that we won

Victory tastes sweet

How do I describe Jim, who is rare combination of elegance, simplicity, and humility. My interactions with him have convinced me that he is one those guys who will excel in whatever they do in life. A true inspiration and role model he is a wonderful, wonderful person of the new world from whom I have learned a lot. I owe him an enormous amount of gratitude for what he has done for me. My whole time in his group was very fulfilling. He has had a great influence on my life and from him I have imbibed the importance of humility, dignity, and being dependable.

 Final goodbye pic - Me with Jim all sweaty and happy

Although words could never adequately express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for Jim -- I shall attempt to express my feelings by making him proud from my deeds as best as I can.
A poem by Emily Matthews is somewhat close to what I wish to say.

" There are wonderful people 
who give from their hearts
in thoughtful and unselfish ways,                                              
So willing to share, help out, or be there,                                               
no matter how busy their days...
There are people we count on,
whose wisdom and caring 
help everything workout just right - 
Wonderful people
who shine our lives
with their gentle and beautiful light".

Finally I would just say that -  if only you could hear the prayers that fill each thought of you. And the smiles that warm each memory of the generous things you do, you'd know your're treasured more than words can say. 

Thank you Sir, for showing me what I am not and what I could be!
Thank you endlessly,
For you, with you, always...

Adieu Alma Mater

It is time for me to take the next step in my life, which means leaving the current place. My feelings are mixed, at times I feel very enthusiastic about the new place, people, and the opportunities it will offer but on the other hand there is a bit of apprehension. I guess it is human nature not to be comfortable with change, but seldom do we realize that the only thing constant is CHANGE. Whatever the future may behold one thing is sure, which is, my deep indebtedness to my Alma Mater i.e. Columbia University.  I owe this institution an enormous amount of gratitude for what it has taught me about life. My whole time here was full of growth - scientific, personal, and spiritual. Honestly, it is one of those moments in my life where I can look back and say - I do no regret any time I spent on and in the vicinity of this majestic institution. It was almost like a second home for me. A sense of comfort seemed to take over whenever I entered the neighborhood or the campus. It was a feeling that do not worry  you are protected from the rest of world. 

One of my favorite spot on campus was the steps of low library, where resides in her grandeur the great Alma Mater, silently being a witness to endless events. Alma has been a witness to all my trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Shared with her are the most sacred aspects of my life. When I fell in love I sat with her, when I fell out I was on the steps, when I was dejected she comforted me, when I was ecstatic she celebrated with me. These feelings and incidences are a secret and will remain a secret not because I am ashamed of them but because they are too sacred to be shared. Yes that is the thought in the orient i.e. all that is precious in life is a secret. The sure instinct of a person is to keep them withdrawn in the innermost recesses accessible to few - perhaps to none. So the experience of being with her can only be described in a very inadequate and misunderstood word called LOVE. Love in its purest form i.e. free of any kind of expectations and attachements. 

Who knows what will happen in future but the skills I have imbibed will remain with me and make me work harder, so looking back ALMA can be proud of her product.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some of my favorite quotes....

During a clean I stumbled on my old diary, which has some nice words of wisdom. I decided to compile and put them online, so here they are.

1. I have only just a minute, only 60 s in it, forced upon me - can't refuse it. Didn't seek it, didn't choose it, but it was up to me to use it. I must suffer if I loose it, give account if I abuse it. Just a tiny little minute. But eternity is in it. 

2. Do not tell your problems to people. 80% do not care about them and 20% are happy that you have them.

3. All that is precious in life is a secret. Love is a secret. Life is a secret. The world is a secret. Your feelings, your emotions are secret. You are the biggest secret. 

4. Everything is changing. And this is all there only to heat you up, to bake you. You are baked in joy, and you are baked in sorrow. You are baked in this event, and you are baked in that event. If you put your finger deeper into things you will get burned, so move lightly. 

5. (a) Reality exists as an objective absolute - facts are facts independent of man's feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

(b) Every man is an end in himself, not the means to end of others. He must exits for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. 

(c) The pursuit of his own rational self interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life. 

Best regards,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Good Bye Grandpa...

The most certain thing in anyone's life is Death.  Life is constantly uncertain, but death is a 100 percent certainty. Yet why we as human beings forget this reality and waste precious time in arguments, holding on to the past, and keeping grudges. Recently, my maternal grandfather passed away which has made me ponder on the limited nature of life. A 6 feet tall person reduced to ashes that can be put in a small pot – this is a fact. I was very attached to him and would often share and do things that I normally won’t with other people. The oldest memories I have was, when I as a kid used to sit near him every morning and insist that I will also shave with him. He used to oblige me by giving a razor without a blade and I used to happily fool around with it. For my mom, he was a friend, mentor, and someone, to whom she could go for any advice, no wonder she is in deep grief because of this loss.

Being aware of this fact that one-day I too will die helps me to think and act on the higher dimensions of life. It is only once a person realizes that death is guaranteed, the perspective to look at life changes completely. Who has the time to waste on all kinds of nonsense and stupid things people partake in. Hence one of my goals is to make every moment of my life and people around me as beautiful as possible.

Jananam Sukhadam Maranam Karunam
Milanam Madhuram Smaranam Karunam
Kalavashadiha Sakalam Karunam
Samyadhipateh Akhilam Karunam"

Birth is joyful, death a sorrow
To consort is joyful, to be left with memories is sorrowful
In the inevitable flow of time, everything turns sorrowful, (for the individual, not for the cosmic order)
In the kingdom of time, the end is appropriately sorrowful.

Till then, goodbye Grandpa…

I will miss you,

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Friends with best friends...

Friends with best friends

What a perfect Saturday, woke up early, got ready, and then play ed with dogs. This is how spent my day and I am very happy. A bunch of us gathered in Central Park (10 dogs, 11 humans), chatted for while and then went to walk and play with the dogs. Let me see if I can remember the names of the canines - Alpha, Huska, Flint, Lola, Anka, Duke, Jet, Jutta, etc. It was fun to hang out with them, I personally believe that a dog comes closest to what unconditional love is. A few weeks ago I was talking to one of my friends and I asked him - Hey do you think it is ok to get a dog? And snap came the reply - Ya dude for sure. He has one and he mentioned to me that whenever he visits home, their dog is the only person most excited to see him :).

I enjoyed myself and I am in love with the German Shepherd breed. They are strong, smart, self confident, and fearless but not hostile. Additionally, they are committed, protective of those they care for, loyal to their family and friends, curious about strange things, good leader or follower, but not afraid to go out on their own. All the qualities I love, cherish, and uphold. 

Good night,

Friday, March 30, 2012

A candid confession and a deep realization

In my life I have been in situations where the sole purpose of getting/winning something was a spirit of competition. I do not know what is the source of this mentality – my background, genes, upbringing, or the environment I am exposed to. But one thing I know for sure that it can soon turn ugly and lead to situations and decisions that I have regretted later (personal experience). I was always confused about this issue, but not anymore. It is one of those moments when you meet someone who has a deep understanding of life and the answer hits you in a way that resonates with your consciousness. Here is the summary of the interaction I had with this wise guy. He answered using an example of students trying to get more marks in tests, but the idea is true for any kind of competition.

My question was – how do I handle competition without thinking too much about the competitors and the prize?

Do not try to find poor substitutes for truth. Now to study in a university or do something in life you do not have to compete with anybody. If you are truly interested in knowing what you want to study/do, you will study to the best of your ability, not because your friend is studying but you want to know. That is why you are studying. When you study like this, your study releases you, it is a liberating process, it enhances your growth, but when you study to get one mark more than your friend you are getting entangled and you become sick in the process. To do what you want to do well, you do not have to compete with anybody. What is it that you want to do? Throw your life and do it. What has to happen will happen according to your capabilities, your intelligence, and your abilities. Somebody is doing something if you try to do that you will go mad or in other words if you compete with somebody you also limit yourself, you do not realize your full potential. If someone is a monkey you will become a little better monkey than him.  

So in summary do what you want to do and throw your life at it, what has to happen will happen as per your capability.

I was super silent after this answer and could literally hear every sound in the environment, it shook me in a very positive way, that cannot be captured in words.