Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Choosing proper footwear

I saw this safety tip on Fermilab Today and thought that it would be a good public service annoucement. See here. This is particularly important in our country where there is so much scope for hurting your feet -- bad roads, non-existent footpaths, slippery surfaces and the like.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The size of the proton

Apparently the proton is 4% smaller than thought all these years. So I read in the Deccan Herald last Tuesday. It was a report on the following Nature paper based on muonic Hydrogen at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. I will give a talk at our BSM coffee club tomorrow morning on this. The announcement for the talk is:

Dear all,

I will give a 10 min. talk on the paper "The size of the proton" just
published in Nature, in our BSM coffee club. CHEP, Chairman's office,
10am, Tuesday, 27/7/2010.

Best regards, Anant

Saturday, July 24, 2010

K. C. Das Sweets off New BEL Road

Gosh, I hope this is not becoming an advertising corner! However, it brings me great joy to inform the readership of this humble blog that K. C. Das now has an outlet just off New BEL Road. Coming from IISc, hang a right just before the 2nd petrol bunk on your right, just after the Reliance mobile store. You won't be disappointed!

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Just Books" in RMV - Sanjay Nagar

So we have become members of Just Books that has opened a branch near where we live. It fills a long sensed gap in our lives. The decor is beautiful, the people are very nice and the book collection excellent for book lovers of all ages. They have a clever system that uses magnetic readers. It is above the erstwhile Baskin and Robbins opposite the Corner House on 80 ft road (opposite MSR Memorial Hospital).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Without comment: on convocation robes, or how not to fear history

Consider the following that was recently reported:

Stoking a potential controversy, environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday called as "barbaric colonial relics" the practice of wearing the traditional coloured robe at convocation ceremonies and publicly removed his own gown at one such event.

On the other hand, Mahmoud Mamdani has the following to say:

For over a millennium, these gowns have been a symbol of high learning from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. Should anyone ask you where they came from, tell them that the early universities of Europe – Oxford, Cambridge, le Sorbonne – borrowed them from the Islamic madressa of the Middle East. If they should seem incredulous, tell them that the gown did not come by itself: because medieval European scholars borrowed from the madressa much of the curriculum, from Greek philosophy to Iranian astronomy to Arab medicine and Indian mathematics, they had little difficulty in accepting this flowing gown, modeled after the dress of the desert nomad, as the symbol of high learning. Should they still express surprise, ask them to take a second look at the gowns of the ayatollahs in Iran and Iraq and elsewhere and they will see the resemblance. Education has no boundaries. Neither does it have an end.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A conversation with Khaleel Pasha

At this time each year, I have to leave the (mental) gated community [fn. 1] in which I normally live, to head off to Wheeler Road to meet our auditor to finalize the taxes. Since there is already enough stress in life, I take an auto to get there to avoid looking for parking and to day dream in the auto while the poor driver is taking all the stress. So I get into this auto and the driver says that he wants 10 rupees more. I, of course, react a little angrily, and then he says that prices of all essential commodities are increasing but their rates are the same. So I acquiesce and agree to his `demand'. He realizes that I am kindred soul and starts to pour his heart out. This is easy as I can handle all the languages of Bangalore, including even Kannada and we chat in Hindustani [fn. 2]. I see his name (Khaleel Pasha) and address and ask him where he lives. He says near Banashankari, but he has to go to all parts of Bangalore to earn his daily bread. He then says that he lives in a `slum area' [fn. 3] and there is such pressure on any and all housing that the rents are crawling up all the time. He tells me that his rent is upwards of three thousand rupees a month, not counting electricity and water. He pays one hundred and fifty rupees a day to the owner of the auto, spends more than a hundred on fuel and oil for the auto. He then adds that he has to work all days of the week to make ends meet. He is indebted by three lakhs of rupees, as he had to take this loan to have his two sisters married, and now is looking out to have his younger brother married. Fortunately, he is already married. Then he goes on to say that the cheapest brand of rice that he considers edible is over thirty rupees a kilogram, and that all vegetables and edibles are becoming more and more expensive. He also adds that if there is an illness in any working person's family or if someone is inform or elderly, then it becomes a real problem. So here was my reality check from `shining' and `resurgent' India. No, I do not need to go to air-conditioned seminar halls or even to lectures Halls in JNU learn about the economic reality in this great land of ours.

fn. [1]: the treachery of language which has named what should really be "walled communities" as "gated communities".

fn. [2]: from wikipedia

Hindustani , literally: 'of Hindustan'), also known as Hindostani or more commonly Hindi-Urdu, is an Indo-Aryan language, the lingua franca of India and Pakistan.

fn. [3]: from the online dictionary



Often, slums. a thickly populated, run-down, squalid part of a city, inhabited by poor people.
any squalid, run-down place to live.

Strange that he should himself call his neighbourhood this.