How so much I wanted to customize my blog and photoblog to represent a quasi-extension of my personality ;), but alas I have not been able to do that in two months and with the amount of things to write about and show pictures of crossing the danger levels! Friends, Romans and Countrymen! I present to you “Confusion Art
” - plain vanilla remix!.
Sadly this post will mark the end of blogger. 75 posts it was standing by me, sharing ups and downs, walking left right and center. Blogger.com - you shall be my first love. errr! Maybe not.
yanyways do check out Confusion Art
for the latest happenings in my life. Maybe some old ones too! And you are working at your station as I am writing this post, expect some posts in couple of hours.
Three weeks of Adventure
During a 'bulla' session yesterday, one of my friends passed a comment, 'Tere ko to vaise bhi hero banna acha lagta hai' (You like to become hero anyways), and I was bemused. By hero he did not mean the 'reel hero', but the essence of the word was 'to stand out from the rest of the lot'. I was confounded with his statement, as he was right to a certain extent, rather in a certain way. I do like to do uncommon things most of the times and these are small little things not worth thinking/talking about. Although it still remains a question - do I like to do because I really like to do them, or do I like people appreciating me doing it. Let that philosophical dialogue remain a question for some later post, this post is about a little 'uncommon' thing I used to do, and the last time I did it, it led to three weeks of adventure :).
Most of the times I have lunch at Canyon View in UCSD, and many a times I go there by my bicycle. The final leg of the route has a small sloppy path which merges into a flat road by a means of uneven banking. There is however, a small one feet strip which curves into the path where I am to go. Ideally I should use the road to go there, as that is the safest and easiest way, - but I often choose the small curvy strip. Last time I did that was three weeks back when lo I was not able to control my bicycle and I landed on my right palm. I have skidded a couple of times riding my bicycle but, the feeling was different this time. I had a premonition just instants before the fall, and things exactly went the way I had seen it all. Although it was not paining a lot then, I knew something was wrong with my right wrist. The adventure begins.
Few more hours into the pain, and the wrists starts to swell up. Reluctantly, I go to the health center and they take an X-ray. There is no fracture and I belittled myself for going to the hospital without any serious injury. But pain soon turns into agony and agony into torment. I can say that that night was the most painful night in the recent past. It was interesting to see the play between sleep and pain - both fighting hard to have my attention. There was no clear cut winner. The next day was as bad. No relief whatsoever. Reluctantly, I went to the hospital again, and thankfully this time I was seen by a sports injury specialist. In no time he referred me to a wrist specialist. He confirmed that there was no fracture visible in the x-ray but proposed that it could be a bad sprain or else a micro fracture. I was a bit satisfied with this meeting, and got another appointment in two days with the wrist specialist. From then on the pain mollified and when I went to see the specialist I was able to move my fingers marginally. He was not able to make a firm decision either and vacillated between a bad sprain and an inconspicuous fracture. Nevertheless, he advised me to put on a cast for three weeks, rationale being it will aid the healing process in either case.
So the past three weeks I have been living off my left hand :). It was an interestingly frustrating experience. Here is a list of the things that are interestingly frustrating to do, to the limit that some of it can’t be done with just the left hand,.(in order of recall)
1. Applying toothpaste on the tooth brush/the process itself
5. Washing dishes
6. Buttoning the cuff buttons
7. Buttoning the pant buttons
8. Opening a jar/bottles
9. Always sleeping on left side
10. Paying via cash
12. Cutting vegetables
13. Doing laundry
Anyway, this journey ends tomorrow (hopefully, no fracture, does not feel like it), so this had to be a blog today.
Its been ages that I had a post, and it was most probable that I would not have posted anything on this as I am working on my own web space now, keep your eyes on www.confusionart.com
but I was just impressed by this.
Many of you know that I work in the area of image retrieval, the basic idea being - "I should be easily able to retrieve the image that I want to from my database, and find images that I have a picture of in my mind, but one that I have never seen before." One of the paradigms of image retrieval is call query-by-example where in you provide a query image and the system should return all the images it feels that are *similar* to the query image and this operation is said to be successful if the user also feels so.
Now last winter I was talking to Doug ( another researcher at UCSD, working on a similar problem but in the domain of music annotation and retrieval) that I need a simple software that, given a song should be able to retrieve all the songs that are *similar* to the query song. He being a specialist in music analysis said that similar is not a well defined term as similar could mean by the same band, same year, same genre, same beat, same instruments and lot many things. Moreover a song changes over time and its not trivial to define similarity. From a non-expert point of view I still felt that it should be possible to define *similarity* the way I was thinking - It does not matter who is the singer, what year it was composed, what genre it is, just plain similar in perception. Alas I went home in winters and things went dud!
Recently came across www.pandora.com
and they have achieved what I wanted, to an extent. Although everything on their database is manually annotated and hence in a way they have provided manual similarity measure between songs. You give them a song or artist and it keeps on playing songs *similar* to your choice. They do so by matching around 400 features of the song/artist (after all Doug was right, there are indeed many parameters to define similarity on) which have been provided by professionals to each song. But the result is just awesome. I tried to find songs similar to *Enya* and I must say it has been two days that I am on the same channel and it has played just awesome songs from various artists. I wrote this blog when it played *Dream of dolphin* by Enigma, one of my favorite. Bang on one great *similar* songs.
So after www.dhingaana.com
this has become my favorite site for music. :)
I got stripped
How do you feel when you are stripped off your clothes. I mean literally. To me it felt funny ;).
To give some background to this incident, everyone here(residendial housing complex for graduate students at UCSD) does their laundry in a common room which has 'lots' of washers and 'lots' of driers. I usually go once in two weeks with my load of clothes to get a clean and refreshing new set, ready to be soiled again, in another two weeks. This laundry room also has a 'table of commons'(TOC), that is for, if you dont need something and feel that it might be useful for others, you leave your stuff on the TOC and anyone who wishes can take possession. Generally, it happens, that people are shy to pick stuff from TOC and prefer to do it when no one is around.
So coming back to my story. Today morning, as I was entering the holy place to collect my washed and dried laundry back, a guy in his twenties passed by me in swift strokes that some how signified he was guilty of a crime. Bit surprised as I walked in, on the next step I saw the TOC on my right. On this there was a small pile of clothes and things got into perspective, as I figured out that he was searching through the pile as I was about to enter. He did not want me to see him doing his scavenge hunt so left slyly. Slighly aloof from that pile of clothes was one shorts that just caught my eye. That is because, I had exactly the same shorts I use for soccer, and I knew that it was of good quality. I just said to myself, after collecting my clothes, I will have a look at those shorts, and maybe if it is indeed of good quality and condition, sneakinly grab it...(oops, did I reveal something?). It so happened, that right most corner of my eye, got a glimpse of another jeans, that looked exactly like the one I had. When my head turned right, and I had the full picture in both of my eyes, it struck me that, THAT whole lot of clothes, where no one else but mine!!!. Someone took out my clothes from the drier and had kept it on the Table Of Commons. "F***! these are mine", I went and clumsily started to collect as if each one of the clothes would vapourize the next moment!
So I went back and did a status check, to find, that I was stripped off my clothes. This is the tally of things I was able to remember that was 'stolen'.
1. 3 Lowers - One in extremely bad shape, and two almost new
2. Two jeans - One in extremely bad shape, and one okayish
3. Three sweat shirts - Two in extremely bad shape, and one new
4. One tshirt - Okayish
..and still counting. I regret I dont have a count of my underwears, to have my laugh.
To all the people who are reading this and live in mesa. Dont ever leave your clothes overnight in the washroom. You might be stripped off yours too. :)
In Kuala Lumpur Right Now
Could'ne help posting this, but at this very moment I am writing from a shady internet cafe in the china town area of Kuala Lumpur and every hour spent here has been an enriching experience. The sweet experiences I am having here is making my one day stay really memorable. The people here are too helpful. They go out of their way to help you out. Most of them can speak broken english so communicating is not a problem.
Anyhow, stating chronologically, the first mild shock I got was to see everything non vegetarian in all the joints in the food court. I asked a couple of them if they had 'anythig' without meat, but they were negative, finally I got this lady to get me fried rice with vegetable, but I could sense some pieces of meat (a couple) while I was eating it. No, complains. Next instead of taking the express rail from airport to city center, I took the bus. Although it took more time (but was cheaper), I wanted to see the view along the roads, and it is really a green place - tropical rain forests you see!
I was not knowing where to go next, someone suggested me to look for cheap accomodation in China Town, while I was on my way looking the map, out pops a guy asking if I need help. He then walked with me to a couple of hostels, but before that I walked with him to the postoffice as he has some work there, and then to his house, where he has to drop some things, although later I thought 'something' was fishy about him ;) but he did help me to find a place to stay, although not in china town, but another happening place here called, Bukit Bingtan.
I am walking on Jalan Bukit Bingtang, I see a man, I see a crowd around, I got my small little space and started to see what everyone else was. It turns out that today is some festival here, and artists from different country perform various street tricks at different places around the city. This guy swallowed a 4 feet long baloon down his throat and didnt even burp.
Next I am on my way to central market, this is the place where local handicraft items are sold. On the way had a delecious Daab pani. The guy there probably in his fifities, was a nice chatty fellow. Taking about the rich and the poor indians to the girls of india being very nice, he asked me why was I travelling alone ;). I promised him to come after some years (read that two, I slipped and it just came out of my mouth) to have his daab paani. I tried to give him some tip but he refused. I was indeed surprised.
Finally I reach, central market. A nice enclosure of local stuff. Malaysia basically has three different kinds of people - Malay, Chineese, and Indians. There were different corridors there for the three sytle of handicraft. I found a lady from pakistan selling things from india, pakistan and iran. Again a nice talkative lady who tells me tricks to bargain there, and herself gave me 50% discount. She was the first person I was able to talk to in Hindi and she was from peshawar and understood urdu.
Next I enter an indian shop - not the indian you are thinking of, this was an american-indian items shop. The guy there says that he feels I am from chile - from all the palce he could think of - chile. I wonder if people there do look like me. Btw sometime later I was buying dried figs from a small girls and she hesitatingly asks me where I was from. My true answer also surprised her, she was small and shy and blurted out she thought I was from 'Australia', duh! probably she got a bit nervous when I asked her about her guess.
Anyways, some more lillte things here that has shaped this journey so far. Still some more hours to go tonight, and some more tomorrow. Plan to do tomorrow the real touristic way - will try for Petronas towers and Batu caves. Lets see. :)
(sorry for the errors if any, I did not even have time to read it myself, the cafe tme is ending. its RM$4 == Rs52 per hour:)
Photography - Are edited images okay?
Sharing a common interest in photography, a couple of weeks back during a discussion with Phantom
, he said - "But that photo was edited and not original!". What he was referring to, is the idea, I myself adhered to, and considered appropriate - 'A picture should be only praised, in capacity of calling it a photograph, if it has not been modified in any form on a computer'. If we use a computer or any digital means for that sake, to edit a photograph, it is in a different league altogether, and should not be compared with photographs which have not been 'retouched'. Lets re-look this point of view.
Its been almost an year now, that I got my NikonFM10 and started to call myself an 'aspiring' photographer. I always used to admire photographs, but never had an exposure to the process of classical photography. Early this year, I did a course in B/W photography, where we developed our own negatives and made prints in a darkroom. This was the time my notion of photography changed. I realized that behind every excellent professional photograph before say 1990's, was an exorbitant amount of time spend in the darkroom. Taking pictures, compositioning, framing, timing, is only half the work, or maybe even less. The other half is what the darkroom does to the photograph. From developing to printing, there are innumerable ways in which an artist modifies what he has shot, to better its appeal. Improving brightness, contrast, suppressing the midtones, improving the highlights, cropping to a desired area, darkening some areas, washing out other, changing it hues (for color photographs), all is done inside a darkroom for each photograph separately. This is an 'integral' part of classical photography, and cannot be parted with. Infact, it is not even appropriate to call this 'improvement' as there no defined 'original shot' to improve upon. Moreover, with digital camera's you HAVE to edit, to produce a B/W photograph.
Now with computers, the same process can be done, at almost 1/1000th the time and effort. In darkroom, to test each incremental step, one needs to print the photograph, which takes atleast 4 mins for the chemicals to act upon it, but on screen its just 0.4 seconds. This is not something optional, but an essential step to produce the end result. So from an appreciation point of view, I now have completely changed my outlook, to one that focuses on the end result and not the process. The issue, then is, that on computer, a lot more can be done to alter the photograph that was not possibly classically. This is where another hitch lies. The feeling that doing image adjustments is one thing, but completely modifying the photograph is another. But, art has no definition per se, it could very well be termed as another art form, if not classical photography. The picture below was taken by Dubey saab
There are two problem if I accept everything, under the domain of photography. The first one is more practical, and the second one philosophical. Practically, what would you call a person who is apt at digitally modifying a photo. Is it justified to call him a good photographer? Or should there be another term for such a person. Personally I am confused on this, for this person does have the abilities of compositioning and a sense of art to produce good picture, but it is not sure if he has the human touch and a sense of perception, that a classical photographer has.
Philosophically, and this is personal philosophy, the sweetness of effort spent in a darkroom is lost, when the process is done digitally. In anycase, I have now developed more respect for digitally processed photos, any try to look it as art, instead of thinking about the classification problem. Here is one of my 'retouched' work.
I have been brought up with an idea of fasting as an integral part of life. When I was young, I was motivated by my father to keep vows. Just for the sake of it. For example, I was in love with papads. I could have had a whole meal of papads itself, and usually I used to order for a papad even before I started my meal. So my dad gave me a challenge, to test and ask myself, "Can I live without papads for a specified period of time?". And so I stayed for weeks without it to take on this challenge. I really enjoyed the feeling of 'achievement' once the fast/vow/challenge was over, and used to resume to normal routine. For me fast is not something meant only for ascetics or the weight-troubled people. Also fast is not only related to food, but can touch various spheres of life. I believe its effects touch deep inside and the satisfaction it brings is unparalleled.
As youth took on its speed, I had forgotten this long lost joy. But, graduate life has given me an opportunity to slow down and live the life I really want to live(or atleast give an attempt). So, I planned another fasting. This time, Khatri Bhai was there to support me, not only motivating me to do it, but by being an 'integral' part of it, and phantom a 'official' part of it ;). The fasting was to stay on fruits and vegetables for seven days. No cereals and no dals. I almost believed to factuality that I cant live without rotis or rice without giving myself mental trouble, and this was to test myself of this limiting belief. Also, I was motivated in part by reading Gandhiji's autobiography, where he also experimented with food and in another part by my health condition.
To my surprise, it was an amazingly easy task to perform. I could not have imagined that I can stay easily without cereals and dals for a week. Infact, four days out of seven, I was living even without milk. And one of that day, was a pure juice day - no solid food, not even soup. To my good fortune, and what made the fast more exciting was that Bhavjit had his farewell party the very same day I was to stay only on juice. This was the only day I really felt week and need for food. My average diet during this period was, juice and munakka breakfast (sometimes sprouts), some fruit plus just boiled vegetable(usually carrots or cauliflower) for lunch and soup for dinner. I even abstained from any spices, living on just salt, pepper and lemon. I am happy that we were successful in the attempt and would do more such fasting in the coming years. Oh! and did I tell you that such fasting is also considered a cleansing process for the body in Ayurveda literature and even western medical science :)
My father also suggested me this book by Paul Bragg
, which I have still not manage to procure. On the flip side, I was expecting a more pronounced effect of such a fasting on the body, with some spiritual side effects ;), but it seems that with pure satvik food its important to keep your mind at peace to reap the real benefits of such fasting, which was missing this time. I was as active as I am on any given day, and did not gave time to be with myself to have mental relaxation. Any suggestions for next fasting?