Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Pitch!

I had a wonderful Thursday!
A class in the morning, a pitch contest in the afternoon and a trip MIT in the evening!

A pitch is a business pitch. This contest did not require a b-plan in place.
I anyway participated, just for the fun of it.
I didn't win anything. But I thought I did good and it was fun!
I did get goodies for participating. A coffee and a book. The author was one of the judges!

And then I went to MIT to get training for Splash (a weekend when anyone can teach anything :) )
So the training happened in a class room which had heat transfer equations all the black board that I had used for my BTech Project I so loved doing, and I felt bad the left my engineering track. It was sad, really sad!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pittsburgh Header Again

Here is another one from CMU and I should give credits to Athula for finally giving me the pics!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Bostonian

The first weekend I was here, I cried. Because I was alone and I didn't know anyone but also because it was so strange that I didn't see many people on the street and I could sit on a bus with a bunch of people who never talk to you at all and your neighbors didn't care that you existed.

A couple of months later, I know, Bostonians are chivalrous, smile and nod at strangers, wish a good morning and pat their neighbors dogs and strike up a sentence or two once in a while.

Last weekend when I was walking home from Ivo's house to mine, I had a perplexed expression on my face trying to figure out my path (no, I am never lost, I always find my way), when a stranger said to me "Smile, Honey! It isn't that bad". And out of nowhere I burst into a smile. "See. That was easy. Keep it going" he quipped and walked away. A complete stranger he was. Bostonians huh?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quickest Boston Tour

This weekend was fun as well.

Started out on Friday when Ivo wanted to check out Halloween Costumes! We went to the biggest costume shop in Boston. Yet! We found nothing. OK not nothing! I got rainbow socks and she got a moose headband and fake eyelashes. But not costumes. We then went out to join a few girlfriends. And I ended up crashing over at ivo's place.

We woke up to a lazy lazy Saturday and we went out for lunch. And when I say out I mena we walked out and kept walking and walking till we did not find any place to have a nice lunch and finally settled for Starbucks ! We then managed to buy out the entirity of Stop and Shop and carried a million bags back to her house. I walked back home and she went to school to study.

I had to pick up a friend who was coming from NY. So I cooked and went to pick her up. I picked her up at South Station and showed her Downtown by night. On Sunday, I took her in an ad-hoc manner down the freedom trail. We had lunch at Quincy and sat down by the harbor for a while. We then went to Harvard Yard and roamed around a bit before heading back to Boston. We stopped by Copley and visited ISKCON again. We walked the streets for a while, stopped by the school and picked up ivo. We joined her friend we ran into at Harvard T for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and then we headed home. A lot of walking for one day!
Today morning, she woke up and left to NY.

Another week begins! This time more with deadlines than plans!!

Weekend, A Class apart

I took a weekend course = the whole course in 2 compressed weekends = 15 hours per weekend.
Last weekend was the first of those. I wondered how I would sit in the same class for 15 hours. But it was fun. It was ultra fun. We did lots of hands-on assignments and had a guest lecture and it was pretty cool!
One more of those weekends coming up and then I'll be done!

On Sunday, which was the 10th day after the Navratri or the Vijaya Dasami back home in India, I decided to go to temple. I looked up Google and realized that the closest temple was an ISKCON temple. The only devi temple was in Ashland and there is no way I could have gone after hours of classes. So I decided to go to ISKCON. I dragged a friend with me. She dragged a roommate with her. And three of us started out. I had been to ISKCON temples before. They are sort of different. But none like this.
This had an American Swami give an american talk on how Rama killed Ravan and brought Sita home and people celebrated Navratri. And then we had bhajan which was absolutely brilliant. And there was a guy playing the saxophone with the bhajan. It was beautiful. And kids beat a Ravan stuffed with chocolates (like the Mexican pinata). And then we had brilliant Indian food for prasad and went home happy and content! A festival well-celebrated!

After Harvard on Thursday and classes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I missed Ivo's dinner on Saturday. I was just too tired to go.
But I did not want to miss the lunch we planned at a Japanese restaurant on Monday with Ivo and the Chinese friend. So we went to a nice little place. The icing on the cake was supposed to be the tempura ice cream. I hated it. I cannot have fried ice cream!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Finally, finally, finally! I got to go to Harvard University.
My nica friend (ivo) and I made friends with this guy we met through our friend from college when we to the beach. He is doing his PhD in elec (will be done soon) at Harvard Faculty of Arts and Science! So we asked him for a tour and he agreed. But we are all busy people. Busy. Busy.

So we finally made it on Thursday (which also happens to be ivo's birthday!!!)

We were late by an hour before we turned up at Harvard T stop. And then our tour began when we started walking through the Harvard Yard where all the dorms were. There was this old building (massachuesettes hall) that is out of use and then there was the first dorm to have flowing water (before which people had to use the handpump in the yard).

And then were was a statue. The plaque says "John Harvard, founder, 1638". But actually it is not John Harvard and it some early grad and John Harvard was a benefactor and not a founder and it was founded in 1636. So! The statue is called (nicked) the statue of three lies.

Then, we went to the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library built by Eleanor Elkins Widener (Harry's mother) in his memory after he died on the Titanic! It was beautiful! It had stuff about Titanic and this grad student Harry.
Then we went to Memorial Church for the alumnae and students of Harvard who gave their lives in WW I & II.

We saw the Sever Hall, and this one has an awesome thing about it. At the entrance, the archway, it was acoustically designed such that if you stand to the one side and whisper you would be heard brilliantly clear and amplified on the other side (Which is just a few feet away, yet) it is AWESOME!

We took a look at the theatre but could not go inside since rehearsals were on, and we also saw a couple more buildings.

We were then joined by our friend and went to the Harvard Business School. But since we did not know anyone there, we jsut walked around the campus, peeped into the library, sat out in the lawns and had cookies and cupcake.

And then we went to this little cafe (the name I will find out) which is famous for it's hot chocolate. When we walked in and were waiting for a table, we saw a famour string theorist Lisa Randall. We got her table and enjoyed hot dark chocolate!

PS: I know my post looks like a wiki page :P

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Unknown Lands

Have you ever heard of a country called Moldova? I haven't! And all I can think of it to contact my 8th class friend who used to play hangman of countries names with me and tell him that I have a new country name.

Well it is not a new country name. It is relatively new but not new. And I am ashamed at my ignorance. Because it is a country rich in history and culture.

How did I suddenly know about it? I was checking out my blogger stats and I came to know that someone from Moldova visited my site a few times. I am surprised.

Moldova is a landlocked democratic country in Eastern Europe between Romania and Ukraine, which became a country along with the others when USSR broke up in 1991. It has strong Russian influences in it culture but some of Latin as well. The script of Moldovian is Latin. It has good music and museums. It did have a cinema but that declined after it was declared independent. It also has a self declared country within its territory called "Transnistria" which is not recognized as a country except by that very country. Moldova has good quality wine and hosts the world's largest wine cellars but due to political reasons its wine has not been popularized.

The world's largest wine cellars.
For travelers, beware of scams and crimes and don't mix up between Romanians and Moldovians (might be offensive) and most importantly, be chivalrous to women.

Five Minute Poem

For one of my courses today, I had to do an assignment called the "Five Minute Poem" which is a idea by Beverly Tatum.

It was an interesting exercise and I think you should try it for yourself. Here are the rules:

Four Stanzas. Each Stanza Has Four Lines. Each Stanza Begins – “I am from…”

First Stanza: Familiar sights, sounds, or smells of your neighborhood

Second Stanza: Familiar Foods

Third Stanza: Family Sayings

Fourth Stanza: Friends

And here is mine (since it's not really a poem, I did not put it in my poetry blog):

I am from the rainbows lair

Of bright and bold sprinkled everywhere

A billion throng loud with laughter

Rain soaked earth with a mixed mutter

I am from the land of spices

Pickles and masala chai form our vices

A spread of color on your plate

A spread of tastes for your palate

I am from a culture rich of hyperbole

Praise less subtle in humor relay

Of theatre and politics bearing the name

For the games that they play all the same

I am from a circle of trust

Differences lie only on the crust

Share a laugh about the bad times

Share it till everyone joins and rhymes

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Opening Our Doors on Columbus Day

Columbus discovered the New World on October 12th, 1942 and I got a holiday today because it is Columbus Day. It is I guess the closest Monday to Oct 12th. But then my Mondays are off anyway so it should not make much of a difference.

But I attended a little bit of the Opening Our Doors by The Fenway Alliance (of which my school is a part). I wanted to do a lot of things, like listening to music concerts or look through art galleries or watch some short films or some plays. But I didn't do most of it.

We (by we I mean my freshmen friend from China who watches Bollywood films and my good ol' Nica friend) met up a little later than we thought and spent a good 2 hours having a great lunch with a double helping of ice cream after tasting all the flavors at the Residential Campus cafe.

We then decided to check out the cultural festival of sorts and managed to check out only Evan's Way Park that had hands on art work to do like painting of all sorts and pumpkin decoration and stuff, more like Shankti Kunj of IIT Madras.

We painted the ground with colored chalk, one of us got a henna tattoo, we drew stuff on a chart with color sketches, made conversation with a photographer (she is pretty good, check out her site), posed for some pics at various points, we watched face painting, wrote poetry for the PoeTree (the only tree that turned yellow in Evan's Park), we even made wishes and we had a lot of fun. We also visited the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum!

Even though my weekend unexpected started on Wednesday itself, I spent Wednesday writing a paper that was due, Thursday getting a hair cut, Friday studying, Saturday at the Silverman Business Competition where my roommate was competing (and I just tagged along to watch), Sunday lying in my room all day and I still have to do laundry :( !

Friday, October 08, 2010

hairstyles and little girls!

Till a few hours ago, I had long hair mostly because I like reasonably long hair and I kind of didn't get around to get a hair cut. I thought I'll get a hair cut just before I left India. But on a random day when I randomly googling, I found the site of this non profit organization called "Locks of Love".

Here is their mission statement:

Our mission is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.

I decided to keep the length till I reach US and figure out when and where to donate my hair. I finally found this place called Dekwa which cuts off pony tails and they do it so often. Also as an encouragement, they give you a hair cut for $25 by a senior stylist or for $0 by a junior stylist.

I tried their phone a few times before I went to Seattle and before I went to Pittsburgh. So finally today when I got through I asked them to fix an appointment at the earliest and I didn't ask them anymore questions. After I fixed the appointment I was so worried that my hair might be too short if I cut of 10 inches. And yesterday night I was almost senti about letting go of such a length.

Finally, I went to the salon today. And as it turns out, 10 inches isn't that long and my hair isn't that short after.
The girl first made 4 thin 10 inch ponytails and cut them off. She then bundled them together and they will be sent to Locks of Love. Then she she spent an hour and a half to cut little little pieces of my hair to get an even hair cut (since cutting a pony tail would give a very rough cut). Then she spent an hour to give me some layers or something. Then she spent half an hour to check if she did it right. Then she blow dried my hair for another half an hour. All the while her boss/tutor kept checking on her. She was fun and nice. So basically, I spent about 4 hours in the salon. It took me a little less than an hour to get there and about the same to get back. Essentially I did nothing else today!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Carnegie Mellon University

Apart from the fact that CMU is one of the best for CS and of the most sought after univs by most of my IIT friends who decide to go ahead with an MS and/or PhD, I did not know much about it nor about graduate scools in general in the United States. I visited the campus the other day and as my facebook friends already know, I am in love with Carnegie Mellon University.

Gates Hillman Complex: It was opened last fall, built by grants from the Gates foundation and Henry J Hillman, hosts the department of computer science (which is where my friend works). It is beautifully built with contemporary architecture. Connecting a 3rd to the 5th floor a helix or a helical staircase with space in between for a couple of classrooms. It has technical art displayed at a few points like the one in my header, art the kind I have never seen. Most of the walls of public seating areas can be used as white boards, so can a few tables. They have vague staircases in between which are called the Hogwarts stairs. They also have atria, reading rooms with a beautiful view, conference rooms with the view of the city and a winter garden with a walking pathway.

Pausch Bridge: Connecting the GHC to the Purnell Center for Arts is a footbridge called the Pausch bridge in the memory of Randy Pausch who was a professor at CMU and died at the age of 47 with pancreatic cancer but went around the world delevering his "Last Lecture" when he found out the about his cancer. The bridge has LEDs that can be programmed to display certain patterns and the bridge has a unique abstract art which includes several penguins as that was Pauch's favorite. Here is the pattern:

The Fence: Once upon a time when there existed a Carnegie Tech and a Mellon Institute separetely, one had a majority of boys and the other girls. So students dated across campuses and young love blossomed at the fence that divided the two campuses. When the merger happened and the fence was to be brought down, the student community and the alumni community raised their voice against it because of the memories and the significance it has. To fulfill their request, a part of the fence was left (or rebuilt) which is not "The Fence" and is painted as an how students want according to the upcoming event.

The Cut: The final thing is the cut. An art exhibit constructed in the middle of the lawn. I know not its significance but it's awesomely weird.

PS: More pictures to come

B-schools and Tech schools

After moving on to b-schools and having experienced Indian and US b-schools, I feel it is pretty much the same everywhere. Everywhere I feel b-schools are designed to kill you. But that is 'stress' training for the corporate world. Everywhere b-schools seem to focus on entrepreneurship and social ventures (whether or not things happen, they do try). Everywhere b-schools don't need too many facilities and the provided facilities are in good shape (at least most b-schools). Everywhere b-schools are very costly. Everywhere people who pass out of b-schools earn a lot.
There are differences. I do feel that people in US feel strongly about their choice of graduation and are motivated to work for it. I do feel that we Indians are not that passionate about education and are not as motivated since it is only looked upon a means to achieve an end which is more attractive than the means itself. Indian b-schools party a lot more than in US since the Indian b-schools have a younger group of people. US b-schools have people from all ages doing all kinds of things and have extremely flexible terms to be able to prolong your 2 year graduation for nearly 4 years. Indian b-schools are more or less like extensions of undergrad schools since 40% have no work experience and 50% are below 25 years of age. And in India grad students live campus helping in the party mode!

Tech schools
I will always have respect for Tech schools. I will always consider myself an engineer and I will always love tech stuff (even though I did not feel that way when I was studying at IIT). But now I know. I loved IIT and I will probably never love find a better place. It was full of young people who were staying away from home and they are all kinds of people with all kinds of smartness. Some street smart, some tech smart, some politically smart, some nerdy smart, all smart. Some nice, some mean, some cunning, some bullied, some loved, some hated, all changed. We all grew up together and we all lived together. We all (well mostly) survived.
After visiting a US tech school, I feel we lack heavily on facilities and equipment that at most times are immensely expensive. But I guess that's why people go to US to do their research. Indian tech schools are only made to make you smarter and prepare you for research and send you away. I was in love with my lab back in IIT but today I understand it's limitations. If US provides world class research institutes, India and China provide the human brains to run them.

My Blog My Echo

My new header
those things emit information from the blogs across the world about new technology in computers and are stuck on a hall way in CMU.
If you stand between them you can hear what they say because they will be in resonance.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sunday in Pittsburgh!

Sunday we woke up early morning and left my 2.30pm!!!
We went to the popular Pittsburgh Sri Venkateswara Temple. It was beautiful. We had traditional South Indian food and filter coffee as well.
We then went to a Catholic Church. And then to a Catholic Cathedral where I paid respects to a good friend who passed away a few weeks ago.
We then went to a Scare House and got really really scared!
Then we made our way to Hofbrauhaus in Pittsburgh modelled after the legendary Hofbrauhaus in Munchen (and not Munich). There was also a man dressed in Bavarian clothes who played nice Bavarian music who looked to me like a German version of Santa Claus.

A lot for a single day!

Niagara Falls!

Niagara literally means "split in the land" according to native americans (though I have not been able to find a link saying so on the internet; I read it Niagara) and is made of the American Falls and the Horse Shoe Falls (and even the Bridal Veil Falls I think).

This is where we went on Saturday.
We went to the Cave of the Winds tour where you walk past the gushing American Falls which can seem adventurous. It was fun. But sadly I wore leggings with sole and my wet were soaked in water that must be about 5deg C.
We then went to the Maid of the Mist boat tour where we were taken on a boat to the center part of the Horse Shoe Falls. The cold wind and mist were in my face and I was surrounded on three sides by the falls. You cannot feel anything due to the cold and you cannot hear anything due to the gush of the wind. This moment was miraculous, almost divine! A moment that makes you feel so small in front of nature.
The major part of the area was connected by trolley whose driver provided insightful information about how dangerous the falls and the water current are and how careful we must be. I wondered how it feels to be dragged away by the current and thrown into the falls and not survive. I made my way back with ice cold feet and I could actually not feel most of my feet and my hands lost some of the motor control or rather my thumbs were no longer useful as thumbs. So we had to stop by at a rest room and I got myself to get my fingers back.

There was a statue of Nikola Tesla there. I don't know why. I like him. So I took a picture.

Early Weekend!

My Weekend began on Thursday morning when I woke up at 5.30! I have a flight to Pittsburgh early to spend it with one of my closest friends ever from IIT.
We spent Thursday having lunch at Cheescake Factory, shopping for a while and dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant whose name I forget.

Friday was a fun trip around Pittsburgh. I didn't know that Pittsburgh was so beautiful. Down town Pittsburgh has two rivers on either side, Allegheny (fair waters or beautiful waters) and Monongahela (falling deep banks) and they meet up at the edge of downtown to form Ohio river. And all this can be seen if you go on the hillside through inclines. Beautiful pictures to take!
There was this hangout place where old equipment from steel plants was put on display. Apparently, Pittsburgh was a steel city once and hence the name Steelers for their football team.

And the night rested with a dinner cruise on the three rivers which celebrated a little girl's birthday party, a young lady's bachelorette party and a mature couple's 50th anniversary! At one point of time, the bachelorette was wishing the lady celebrating her 50th anniversary while the little girl was running around them!
Such is Life!

PS: The previous weekend has not gone on record for I did nothing but stay at home. I did manage to go to a farmer's market and buy veggies and cook!