"" Bleh and Awe: 2015

Monday, 21 December 2015

Winter in Bhubaneswar

Dammit. I procrastinate and push away all the writing till a deadline, Sigh.

The time during my end-semester examinations left me in tremendous anxiousness and pain. I have absolutely no idea how, when, or where they got over. They just did.

Some enjoy college, some loathe it, while the rest simply survive it. I'm on the survival lot, where even the things we take for granted at home, have to be carried out. Mundane activities, done for the sole reason of survival. Still, it is far from any jungle. It's an ecosystem within itself.
I wasn't alone. A number of my pals were here. We explored the city, ate really good food; I personally enjoyed my time at the debate club and read books over warm cups of coffee. But I've got two set of memories, which I'll cherish forever, and I felt they're worth sharing. Bhubaneswar was cold during the November-December gap. It always is during this time. The eastern part of India enjoys a milder version of winters compared to the northern and north-eastern parts of the country, but blame it on climate change, it was cold. Ah, that time of the year where your end-semester exams are over. Free time on our hands! And this semester break, I decided to spend my week here.


One memorable trip was with Sougata and Shivam. Damn, it was thrilling as ever. The three of us hopped onto some bus headed westward, and opted for three usual tickets. After a period of kilometers, we were kicked off the bus because our tickets expired 6 blocks ago. We merrily walked about the boulevards,visiting Churches, cine theaters, nostalgic musical stores, second -hand book stores, and ventured into the Indira Gandhi Park. We took out a shortcut, and voila!

We were in the busiest market of the city, Market number 1 and 2. We simply strolled through the streets, and along the way, lost direction. Nonetheless, we found out our way back, and got back to our hostel.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

What I learnt from Art school

My parents wanted me to soak up culture and the arts right up from a young age, so they had enrolled me at a local art school, way back in '02. It was run by Tinku da, a resident of the housing campus where I spend most of my childhood. It was (and still is) called "Chitrankan". I still remember the very first day, my mom had packed crayons, a couple of pencils, an eraser, a sharpener, and a big art book. I was always the hyper-active kid, and I raced to Tinku Da's house. The first day, I was taught to draw basic shapes, and to identify the different colours on the crayon set.

Courtsey: Stock Photo
As the course advanced, I learnt the different types of colours, my motor skills were honed, and the different effects brought upon by the varied use of different materials. At this point of time, I actually hated the course. Because it felt silly to sit for 3 hours and contemplate, design, draw, and colour pictures. We had theory classes too, where we had to analyze the multivariable styles of different artists, famous, infamous and not-so-famous paintings. Personally, I would have been happier to spend that time playing football (Sometimes I did).  I drew like shit, coloured like shit, and was always the impatient kid. Somehow the calm and quiet environment felt outlandish; this wasn't the playground, it felt like I was held back at a place surround with painting and psuedo-intellect (I was horribly wrong).

Monday, 23 November 2015

Youtube (Personal favorites)

I love Youtube. Youtube is my source of entertainment and education, sometimes both at the same time. There are an extraordinary number of videos and channels on youtube, and videos range from music to short films to Vlogs to serious lectures to the professional  to DONGs (Do it Online, Guys) to DIY help to......cat videos. 
I have a few personal favourite channels I'd love to share with you. Which are:

Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:  This channel is one with razor-edged teeth, with the presentation of words which describe entire feelings. Words which can make you think, ponder (and regret?) and it feels like those trains of thought caught during a cold shower. Perfect relaxation.

Videos I got hooked on include: Onism, Sonder, Nodus Tollens, Oleka

VideogameDunky: Really hilarious reviews of video games. Dunky has a idiosyncratic voice which adds to the humour of his narration.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Deras Dam

I'm an idiot. A major jackass, and this post had been due for a really long time, but well, this is it.
One mundane afternoon Zeshan and I were got really bored, and decided we should pack our bags and head over to Dehradhun. Later, we joked about it and told Shubham about our idea, and one thing led to another and we prepared to visit the Chandaka forest reserve one night before.

We left at 6 o'clock (Couldn't sleep due to the sheer excitement), boots strapped and bags packed. We reached the required junction and hired an Autorickshaw. The guy was very friendly, magnanimous, pleasant.....BAH ! He was an utter pain-in-the-ass, (entertaining too), and constantly lamented the fact that the four of us should have got AT LEAST some women to hang out with and have fun. I really enjoyed the auto trip and the auto-walla, the bumpy roads, cows on the run, and the vivid trees, but in all brutal honesty, we couldn't handle all the BURN inflicted by the constant harangue of the auto dude. We eventually told him to shut the fadoodaas up.The road-trip to the forest was pure bliss. The lush green fields, the wind blowing through your hair, the hills looked like you could run and hug them, the wind breezing by, the little ponds with bubbles and fishes poking their noses, broken ruins, the wind whistling right you, more cows mooing away minding their own business.(Did I mention about the wind?) The weather was perf-wala-perfect. A thin, crispy cloud cover with the Sun playing the naughtiest peek-a-boo. We had a pit stop and refilled with some refreshments, and shared a coke with the auto-man. AND THEN HE BEGAN THE SAME OLD JABBERING. We had to tell him to stop again, and half-an-hour down the road, we reached the spot.It was okayish, I mean it looked okayish from the distance. We crossed the boundary gate and walked up (what seemed like a conquerable hill) and found what we had come all the way for.
It was vivid.It was serine.It was picturesque.I could write a million adjective and hundreds of synonyms of the incoming word, but in every sense, it was beautiful.
The banks of the reservoir
We stood there for 5 mins, and those five minutes magically became thirty. The place just took our breath away, and the romanticism of the place seemed to slow down time, just like time seems to slow down when you're hanging out with your lover. I'm sorry we didn't take too many photographs. Cameras couldn't do justice to what we saw. It was a check-dam, we were on top of the dam, and there was the deep reservoir, and it seemed to have a mind of its own. Out there, beckoned an hills waiting to be explored, and an island with really green trees and really green crocodiles. Yes, we had spotted crocs and we knew it. Too many dead wood in the reservoir? No way.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Attention Deficit Generation

The internet is a gigantic, it encompasses a large fraction of our lives, especially in the 21th century. Like every technology that has come along, the net has changed us in ways, we would have never imagined. But it does come with a large baggage of pros and cons, and unfortunately, attention deficiency is one of them.

Its not the internet who is at fault, it's us. Humans designed and made it, and we should blame ourselves for our own mistakes. There is a widespread 'disease' or 'change' in us, however may you'd like to define it. We are losing the ability to concentrate on reading text, read a book at lenght, or to listen at music at a stretch, or to focus on work (doesn't imply for everyone). Well, I figured out, that the 'instant' lifestyle we're perusing: instant messaging, instant search, instant replies, instant publication, etc, is changing us in subtle ways. We are unable to simply focus.
Inspirational ho-hum
A few days ago, I read an incredible blog post by Mark Mason (Here you go) about how your attention will be the skill in demand when you'll be at your working age. And the ability to catch one's attention is a key economic opportunity for the commercial and social world. Example? Magazine publication companies have a "attract time" of less than a second, and it can all make the difference between a sky high or a rock bottom sales. Of course it depends on quality on the content, but it need to grab your eyeballs before you can consider reading and purchasing. The attention span of humans, two generations ago were longer than ours, and the next generation has even a shorter one. The ones to survive and excel in this kamikaze (of attention and work efficiency), one should learn the art of finishing and focus on a task, not multitask around and keep everything in half eaten and unfinished.

Monday, 6 July 2015


Everyday is a challenge. We learn new things, and we practice relearning the old stuff, which can somewhat be boring but fun when you get really great at it. Taking an online course can be difficult, especially because we're all adjusted to the normal way of how things are: Newton's first Law of motion playing it's role in real life. Honestly, I've never done any online courses, so I decided to go ahead and try out a couple this summer, 2015. And things are never going to be the same again.

From WikipediaWell, it was a course on "Learn how to learn", a course based on cognitive psychology. It was  simple, but a eye-opening. We were taught how our brain and mind function (in layman terms, using a pin-ball machine analogy), and the fact that our brain and mind can be fooled by us to gain greater efficiency. It was a fun course, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After 3 weeks, it was completed, and marks were assigned. I noticed, the course was extremely student friendly, easy to follow through and the presentation was immaculate. There were tests too, and a final exam, which wasn't VERY difficult. There is a ton of free academic material on the internet, and MOOCs have been helping students especially in the developing countries to get the benefit of quality education at the cost of an internet connection. Coursera, Edx, Khan Academy, MIT OCWs, Udacity, Open2study, FutureLearn, iTunes free courseware, Stanford free material, etc (There are way too many names to remember, so check the Wikipedia page). There's even more material available at Youtube, which has a diversity from fun,short, animated videos to lengthy but content rich selections.

Education knows no bounds and MOOCs have certainly helped spread wisdom and knowledge in a vivacious and easy way. It one of the greatest gifts the internet has given us.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Old is Gold

As the summer vacations are nearing to an end, I'm trying to checkmark all the plan made. So on a fine Friday night, instead of the usual gang of friends, I decided to stay over at my grandma's house. She was simply delighted, and I packed my bags and left. On reaching and staying over there for a night, I came to certain realisations: Grandparents are usually extremely lonely and bored.

instagram: https://instagram.com/rishav.sen/Well, grandma had an old phonograph, so I was fiddling with it and playing some really old 1960-70s tracks (Bengali songs, loads of Rabindra Tagore compositions, and a few Russian and Italian opera vinyls), and they seemed pretty good. After a hearty dinner and a long chat about life at the hostel and college, along Grandmotherly advice, it was getting late and we all decided to sleep. My Grandma didn't have any WiFi, so I was completely cut off from the net. And I found some great books nad comics "Xmen: Evolution" and "Spidergirl". These were nostalgic as I had read these 10-8 years back. Grandparent's houses can be nostalgia dens, quite literally. Later I had dozed off, packed my things, thanked Grandma and her help for all the fun, and headed back home.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Why I detest Socially Networking.

I was never a fan of the internet. We've been told to steer away from dating sites, pornographic sites, not to give away our phone numbers to completely strangers. There is a reason too. First, most humans are strange animals. Yes, we're animals and we've evolved like the rest of the other inhabitants of Mother Earth. Netizens can misuse you contact information into strange and bizarre ways like uploading it on a public sphere where you can be bombarded by phone calls, prank messages, your personal information can be disastrously misused, online bullying and trolling, et cetra.

Glaucomating by social networking 
But despite the short comings, the internet is basically network if computers and you'll find a variety of human beings, and on socially interacting with them will expose to the different cultures, the way people live, different tastes in art. In fact, you may find several inspirational and like minded folks, several of them (if they are of your age) will be struggling through life and its different struggles.

Social networking is unquestionably, occupies a very important slice of teenage and adult lives. But rapidly, it is becoming the only method of social interaction. What's the point of social networking on the internet if you have extreme shyness to communicate with the person face-to-face?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Happy birthday R.P. Feynman !

May 11, 1918 is the birthday of Richard P. Feynman, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, and he continues to inspire millions of aspiring students by his scientific work and him, um wackyness. I read about him in, what is still one of my favourite books (I wish I hadn't lost it) "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman".

Richard Feynman Nobel.jpg
R. P Feynman with all that swag 
Feynman was involved in the Manhattan Project, he (also with two other scientists) was credited with the Noble Prize for his work on Quantum-ElectroDynamics (QED), he worked on problems of superfludity of supercooled  liquid Helium (that is how does liquid Helium behave as a superfluid when cooled to extremely cold temperatures), described the interaction of sub-atomic particles via pictorial descriptions which are known as "Feynman Diagrams", and he is called "The Father of Nanotechnology" as in one of  his lectures "There's plenty of room at the bottom", the the list of academic achievements is endless. He was a painter, a bongo-drum player, an active gambler, a party-animal, and something of a genius.

What I learnt about him was: there are certain prodigies, and well, the other way is to do smart work (which does include hard work). The thing is with Feynman (what I understood) that the man was all about practicality. He loved to vision the things in detail. When there were complex problems, he broke them down, or 'chunked' them into tiny solvable bits, and there by solving the whole problem. He had interests ranging from atomic physics to birds to eating fish to travelling. He is and will be the genius, but the picture isn't exactly that. He wasn't the dull science teacher type dude who sat in his cubicle and memorized books and had several Eureka ! moments. He was always playing, and he loved to play around. This habit was there from childhood, and lasted till adulthood. He had more fun than we can ever imagine, he went to parties, met a variety of people, traveled the globe, just because of his unquenchable curiosity.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

My Train trips to home

Home is, where my heart is, and so are most of my pants. Well, I have a really strange fetish. Instead of opting for the easier air-conditioned or the 30-min flights, I take, the pain-in-the-ass seater train. That's right, Dhauli Express, or the Bhubhaneshwar-Kolkata Jan Shatabdi.

My college buddies (most of them sane individuals) consider my choice as repetitive "mistakes", but I love to see how people behave. True, a General coach would have been a much better experience, but that's for next time. Till then, seaters it is.

Awkward seat number
Well, I remember clearly my first train journey ( crummy ass Dhauli Express) from Kolkata to Puri. On my way to college, I was terrified about the whole college experience ( how to live with random individuals and exist without Ma waking me up or Dad shouting/criticizing). Well, Dad was there, and my ticket said "Male 18; Coach: D6 Seat:69 ", a window seat. As I dragged the luggage on to the
train (Dad criticizing). And, as I secretly knew, my seat was occupied. My Dad told me to be smart and approach the guy and to be polite. I followed orders and Whoa ! He asked "Babu where is your ticket?" I was taken aback as surely, Dad has the tickets. In a quick flash I asked the man for his tickets, which were swiftly handed over. As I read the ticket (he really didn't expect) I spotted it was a backdated ticket. Ah ha ! "Sir, that is my seat and this is a backdated ticket", with expressions flushed red. The man, out of the blue, changed from a predator to a soft kitten and "Adjust please?". Well, Dad stepped in and asked him to shift over to some other seat. Again, Dad was there to save the day (and I got reprimanded, for the fifth time).