New beginnings!

They say life is a collection of stories, stories of your memories, your relations, your experiences. Well, I’m about to bookmark volume 1 of these stories, the past 23 years of my life, put it in the bookshelf of my heart and make a new beginning to a new volume of stories! In 2 days I will have moved to Australia!

As a child I was introduced to a Sanskrit term by my grandmother – ” Vasudaiva Kutumbakam” – ‘ the whole world is one family’. It stayed and sowed the seeds of a dream of travelling the world. The whole idea of travelling “sata samudra par”  – Marathi phrase for ‘far far away’ literally meaning ‘beyond 7 seas’ seemed so fascinating to a dreamy child. I dreamed of being a sailor sailing to new shores, a pilot flying across the world!!! As the child grew to a boy, the dream started taking plans and now its on the verge of becoming a reality!

For me its a new beginning in the literal sense! I do not want to be a  traveller out for sightseeing. Being part of a family means assimilating. There is a old legend about the first time Parsis [Zoroastrians] arrived in India. When the Zoroastrians requested asylum, the local king motioned to a vessel of milk filled to the very brim to signify that his kingdom was already full and could not accept refugees. In response, one of the Zoroastrian priests added a pinch of sugar to the milk, thus indicating that they would not bring the vessel to overflowing and indeed make the lives of the citizens sweeter. The king gave shelter to the emigrants and permitted them to practice their religion and traditions freely. This has been the foundation of my dream. To be like them, wherever I go in the world. To become a part of a new culture, I will have to learn and accept its customs and traditions, to learn the language as if it was my own mother tongue. Heck, I will have to develop a new sense of humour! I feel like a new born all over again!

To put my life till date on hold, to make a new start has been a numbing process! The tug of war my heart has been through between my dream and an ideal life I’ve built for myself has been truly testing! You cannot express your feelings to the people you love. Once let go, the river of emotions is difficult to dam! Yet with all the memories, all the love of loved ones, I embark on this journey to live my dream. And its just the beginning of a long journey beyond the 7 seas! Hello world! Here I come!!!!

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Sun filters through the large windows creating a sepia type haze, tiny particles of dust barely visible float down and rest in front of me, outside the daily clockwork and grind of city life carries on. A man sits at a bus stop nervously picking his fingers as a woman walks by shrouded in her own discomfort, next to me a man taps his foot as he stares into space, I sip a coffee, life is full of these small complexities.

I walk lost through cities, foreign languages intoxicate the air. As time ticks by I feel myself returning to my self everyday, with every setback comes a flickering candle of hope and beauty. I am learning to float in the seas that once drowned me. When the currents get too strong and I feel myself being dragged back under, I relax where I would of panicked and reflect where I would…

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Google wants to be your best buddy!!!

I read this article about “ubiquitous computing or intelligence augmentation” – the idea that computers will no longer be devices we turn on, but so integrated into our everyday environment that we can ask them to do things without even lifting a finger.

“Siri” anyone? Our our very own desi version “Aisha” by Micromax?

The article mostly focused on Google’s efforts into integrating into our daily lives. To go back a little, this phenomenon was actually started by Apple with the Iphone. It was the actual beginning of integration of computing with our daily lives. PCs were just to get work done. And then the other tech giants couldn’t stay away from the action, could they? Along came Android. Google’s baby has been the only real contender to Apple in this segment.

The article gave an example of a group of people at a party talking about something. They use Google search to confirm a fact related to the topic. It seems Google is not happy with it. They feel like they are the uninvited guests  in such conversations. They want to be part of it and the future research seems to be headed in that direction.

They want to be with you when you want entertainment. Voila! You have Google Smart TV. They want to travel with you. Voila! You have Google glasses. Now they want screens in your kitchen walls and dining tables. Voice commands are already in fashion! Yeah there are just fashion now and something to show off. But soon they will be highly effective in communicating. Apple’s Siri, the voice activated assistant can already discuss about new movies, sports and restaurants. Google seems very upbeat about it, directing lot of research effort towards this. For example they have identified spikes in mobile search queries during meal times, concluding people need information when they are together and away from their computers. Smart! So now they want themselves to be integrated into homes, in walls and tables or any possible furniture. So if you are having a party at home or a family get-together and a hot debate is on, you can always shout to your wall or the tables for factual confirmation. Wonder if people will name their different devices like pets, ‘Andrio’ [taken from android] in the table and ‘Googs’ in the wall, ‘Smarty’ in the TV!! [Voice command in Samsung smartphones are already named. You have to call ‘Hi Galaxy’ to activate it.] They will always be ON and listen to what you say and respond accordingly as someone voicing opinion. Great concept! Everyone will soon have a “female” friend with a vaguely robotic voice answering questions in conversations!

Quoting 2 examples from the article itself – If people are discussing the migratory patterns of monarch butterflies over dinner, the devices will be able to hear that and present a map, OR when you meet someone, your glasses could show you the person’s latest social accounts statuses and your last email exchange.

Others are not too far. Apple already has SIRI and its continuously evolving with time. Microsoft is experimenting with computers that understand gestures and voice. This is already employed in gaming consoles. [ there was once a funny occasion where I saw a guy trying out tennis on a gesture enabled Kinect console in a mall! I mean he was all over the place. Only if he could actually join a tennis academy!] IBM is teaching machines to learn and interact with people.

Do check out this video on Pranav Mistry, an Indian computer scientist who is working on a technology known as Sixthsense. SixthSense is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information.

I wonder where all this will take us! I mean now most of us are almost at mercy of our phones. My smartphone is inseparable from me and I cannot bear a single day when my internet is not working or my phone is down even with the smallest lag. These tech companies are spoiling us. But I’m not complaining, bring it on! I saw the preview of Google glasses and can’t wait to try it. Its not just about giving complete packages, sometimes its just fun to know where you are headed and how things will be. Because everything is in the process of evolving continuously. I have seen the journey of Android from v1.6 to v4.1. Every time a new version comes out its like little kid’s excitement to try it out. It wouldn’t be the same if you are to get a complete and perfect package once and for all. In this field I’m backing Google. No one does it better than them in managing information and data.

Everytime a new interacting device is launched I will be there. Be it shouting at walls, or talking to the table, or wearing one, I will be there to try it all! Coz for me, in the end its about the journey, and never about the end!

Cheers!!!

The pursuit of knowledge!!!

College life has ended and we friends have embarked on individual journeys of our lives. Rarely do we get a chance to sit down again over a cup of tea or coffee and talk our hearts out. The little time we get in these fixed “appointments” is getting updated about each others lives, what each one is doing and where are they heading? So when you do get a chance to sit down for a “reunion” and being “just like ol’ times” it is really endearing.

One such occasion was yesterday, meeting of 3 idiots who always debated about the state of the world over cups of tea and hot samosas in the college cafeteria! I would always be grateful to these two guys who have always been an inspiration for the pursuit of knowledge. And really its “knowledge”. I always find the concept of General Knowledge funny. Its actually just facts and information. It should be called General Information – when did this event happen, who was who’s whom, something  is where, etc. The understanding and perspective these facts and information give you is your little wealth of knowledge. And this is what these “guardians” – if I may use this term – have taught me.

They always seek knowledge just for the love of doing so. Though they both couldn’t pursue their interests as careers, they never let it come in their way of learning what they wanted to. One of them is a public service aspirant preparing for the Union Public Service Commission examination. I’m proud of him for following his dream. I used to think he learned all he knows to prepare for this examination. But the more I got to know him, I realized its actually his knowledge and the hunger for it that drove him to pursue greater deeds.

The second guy is just enthusiastic to know whatever he can. You tell him anything and he will listen attentively. He is like a mini encyclopedia. He can talk on numerous personalities, nations, political issues, national and world history, geography and civilizations, literature and many more topics at length. And mind you these are not just facts but also in depth perspectives. Like the term we use in management and engineering “why-why” analysis of everything.

Above I was factual, about these two friends of mine. Now let me put them in perspective.  I have met very few people in life who have such a passion to just “know”, anything. We come across so many ‘experts’ of various fields in life who have an authoritarian aggression arising from the pride of their knowledge. These two have taught to be humble about it and always be open to updation. We have bunked numerous classes to sit in the canteen to hold our debates which always were initiated with topic “Bhartachi bighadleli arthik ghadi” , that’s “analysis of the distressed economic situation of India” in Marathi. We used to debate and share our little understanding of what was happening around us. And then this journey took us from the evolution of human race, development of civilizations, associated geography, our regional history, current political issues to the latest film reviews. Wow! What a journey that used to be! Every time it was a different aspect of the same journey. And it was never enough!

Yesterday was a trip back memory lane!!! One of my many cherished moments that I have had with them of learning. It was again a journey through all the above! Its always been about everything except us! Always teaching each other and learning from each other! Our own school, our own GURUKUL!

I will always be grateful to them for their greatest lesson, the selfless pursuit of knowledge!!!

Self-knowledge!!!

I have had 42 views in 5 days when I began this ! Not bad huh! I will take it as a good support! Immediately I had to spruce up my appearance of the blog and make it look good. First impression is the last impression they say. Though I hardly believe it. Its important to have any reaction, positive or negative. One can always turn it then as necessary.

Anyways I also had to update the ‘About me’ page. As more people will view this blog, they would need to know about the writer to have a opinion about. I must admit it was very difficult to tell about myself. I mean I can put up facts and information but that would be a resume! Its an interaction here and its like getting to know someone, so how would would one describe oneself? I found it difficult to describe my own qualities. If I’m self-aware and self-conscious shouldn’t I have attained nirvana, grow a beard and preach the philosophy of life?

I feel we think about ourselves as who we want to be and not who we actually are. We look in the mirror everyday and we notice how we don’t look the way we want ourselves to look. We put on makeup, apply creams to hide marks, and what not. We don’t see how we are. We don’t want to accept that image in the mirror. I struggle a lot with self-image. I think more about what I want to be than what I am. How am I gonna change before I see myself?

Wow!!! That was as heavy as therapy! Not good! Although I must say this is a favorite question of HR interviewers “Tell me about yourself?” They must be enjoying themselves. From what I hear its always an awkward answer. Very few actually nail it!

Concluding with the resolve of attempt to “look into myself”, though I have made the same during bouts of depressive moments but never have come around. Hope this time is “the one”.

Cheers!!!