Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"Stilbaai"

My hande is wakker
My oë wil slaap
My kop is in Stilbaai
My hart in die Kaap

My hands are awake
My eyes want to sleep
My head is in Stilbaai
My heart in the Cape

Ek staan op die grens
Van die dag en die nag
En my kop weet nie meer wat
Om te doen met my hart

I stood on the border
Of the day and night
And my mind knows not what
To do with my heart

Ek voel soos n skip
Wat lê langs die kus
My toekoms wil reis
My verlede wil rus
My woorde wil stil wees
My stilte wil praat
My hart wil jou vashou
My kop wil jou laat

I feel like a ship
Which lies along the coast
My future would travel
My past wants to rest 
My words would be quiet
My silence would speak
My heart wants to hold
My head wants to leave you

Die storm en die stilte
Die son en die maan
Daars altyd twee kante
Wat in ons bestaan

The storm and the silence
The sun and the moon
There's always two sides
To our existence

Die verlange wil waai
Die angs wil hier bly
En al sluit ek my oë
Dit gaan nie verby nie

My longing wants to blow away
My fear wants to stay here
And if I close my eyes
It's not over

Ek voel soos n skip
Wat lê langs die kus
My toekoms wil reis
My verlede wil rus
My woorde wil stil wees
My stilte wil praat
My hart wil jou vashou
My kop wil jou laat

I feel like a ship
Which lies along the coast
My future would travel
My past wants to rest 
My words would be quiet
My silence would speak
My heart wants to hold
My head wants to leave

~Stef Bos

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Almost 2014

I've been a bit crappy on blogging in 2013, but 2014 is a new year, just around the corner.
In sum: 2013 has simply been dedicated to love.
This is Ann, preparing for her Cambridge Proficiency Exam:


Friday, August 23, 2013

Spiti & Ladakh (in wide)

Also some useful places to stay: Leh: Shashipa Guest House, Chubi -- Great, great place to stay. INR 600 for the top room. Excellent view. Great food. 01982-251251, 9906993801 Srinagar: HB Rolling Stone (House Boat), Nig'een lake, Sudrabal -- Lovely houseboat, old and charming. INR 1000 per person per night including breakfast and dinner. INR 15000 (for one room of 2) if you want to stay for the month excluding breakfast and dinner. Uncle is a bit strange but very nice. 01942423620. His son Hilal also drives 9906405076

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Let's Go


Background image: Rick Sterenbach, 1977

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Madagascar

Two weeks ago, I was in a land I never really thought I would visit just yet. In January, she said, "How about Madagascar." I said maybe later when we have more than two weeks to travel. But I know how later goes and quickly changed my mind. A few days later, we booked our tickets.

We reached Nairobi on April 28, Ann flew in from Amsterdam and me from Mumbai. I was so glad to see her among all those tall undutchables walking through Gate 11. My flight arrived 30 minutes before hers. One coffee and one cigarette later, we were on our next Kenyan Airways flight to Madagascar.

The whole experience was just wow. We didn't get to see too much of the country, cause you need at least a month, if not three to see Madagascar, but we spent our 2 weeks exploring the 'Wild West', trying to reach the 'Beautiful South' but not quite making it :) The experience was fabulous, packed with crazy-starry skies, crimson sunrise and sunsets, ox-cart villages, breathtaking waterfalls, taxi brusses, Robinson-Crusoe style stranded island adventures, lobsters right from the sea, electricity-less life, delicious Malagasy-French food, and rasta friends. Too bad I couldn't find the perfect soundtrack!

All pictures on Flickr

Monday, April 08, 2013

strange feelings

Tomorrow I start a 10 day buddhism course at Tushita, near Dharamshala.
I am strangely nervous.
So much has been going on in the last three months.
I haven't carried my camera on this journey.
It's a no phone, camera, mp3, laptop, 10 day meditation retreat.
I hope to learn.
I hope to widen.
I hope to gain more self-discipline.
Letsee.

On other news, I am having trouble liking a close friend. She's become like this, and I have no idea how to relate.



Friday, March 15, 2013

"Coming of Age"


the deep sky
speech turns into sight
the great dance
mutually embraced
eyes disentangle
only to entangle, again
serpents intersect
seeing
bands of light
forming my moral desire of being

(inspired by C. S. Lewis)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Exploring Quantum Mechanics



Very excited about my first Coursera course: Exploring Quantum Mechanics
It's taken me a while to reach this point!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Buginese

This is one of the coolest scripts I've ever seen. Source: Wiki

"Perelandra"

From a German client who works on cosmic strings and whats not: about the last paragraph: I will work on this. In the meantime I send you the paragraph of C.S. Lewis' book (Chapter 17, starting from page 277f - you should certainly read the book, it is very fascinating!). At the end of this story, the protagonist sees the Great Dance of the creation of the world, which develops out of a praise of God:
And now, by a transition which he did not notice, seemed that what had begun as speech was turned into sight, or into something that can be remembered only as if it were seeing. He thought he saw the Great Dance. It seemed to be woven out of the intertwining undulation of many cords or bands of light, leaping over and under one another and mutually embraced in arabesques and flower-like subtleties. Each figure as he looked at it became the master-figure or focus of the whole spectacle, by means of which his eye disentangled all else and brought it into unity - only to be itself entangled when he looked to what he had taken for mere marginal decorations and found that there also the same hegemony was claimed, and the claim made good, yet the former pattern not thereby dispossessed but finding in its new subordination a significance greater than that which it had abdicated. He could see also (but the word 'seeing' is now plainly inadequate) wherever the ribbons or serpents of light intersected, minute corpuscles of momentary brightness: and he knew somehow that these particles were the secular generalities of which history tells - peoples, institutions, climates of opinion, civilisations, arts, sciences, and the like - ephemeral corpuscations that piped their short song and vanished. The ribbons or cords themselves, in which millions of corpuscles lived and died, were things of some different kind. At first he could not say that. But he knew in the end that most of them were individual entities. If so, the time in which the Great Dance proceeds is very unlike time as we know it. Some of the thinner and more delicate cords were beings that we call short-lived: flowers and insects, a fruit or a storm of rain, and once (he thought) a wave of the sea. Others were such things as we also think lasting: crystals, rivers, mountains, or even stars. Far above these in girth and luminosity and flashing with colours from beyond our spectrum were the lines of the personal beings, and yet as different from one another in splendour as all of them from all the previous class. But not all the cords were individuals; some were universal truths or universal qualities. It did not surprise him then to find that these and the persons were both cords and both stood together against the mere atoms of generality which lived and died in the clashing of their streams: but afterwards, when he came back to earth, he wondered. And by now the thing must have passed altogether out of the region of sight as we understand it. For he says that the whole solid figure of these enamoured and inter-inanimated circlings was suddenly revealed as the mere superficies of a far vaster pattern in four dimensions, and that figure as the boundary of yet others in other worlds: till suddenly as the movement grew yet swifter, the interweaving yet more ecstatic, the relevance of all to all yet more intense, as dimension was added to dimension and that part of him which could reason and remember was dropped farther and farther behind that part of him which saw, even then, at the very zenith of complexity, complexity was eaten up and faded, as a thin white cloud fades into the hard blue burning of the sky, and a simplicity beyond all comprehension, ancient and young as spring, illimitable, pellucid, drew him with cords of infinite desire into its own stillness. He went up into such a quietness, a privacy and a freshness that at the very moment when he stood farthest from our ordinary mode of being he had the sense of stripping off encumbrances and awaking from trance, and coming to himself. With a gesture of relaxation he looked about him...
~C. S. Lewis, Perelandra

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Goa and I

Moving to Goa has been so nice. We (Snigdha, Radha, and Jaya) reached on December 2 to scout around. Where to live. How to live. Who to live.

Nash had his hands and house full with Guru, Sniggy, Rads, Vicky, Joana, Ana, and me (and Ann for a little while) all meshed up into community style chilling at Nashville in Soccor. Nashville is one of the most beautiful homes you ever will visit.


In week 2, for some learning fun, we turned the whole of Nashville into a giant digestive system with each room being an organ (or set of organs). We made some posters and prepared some nice, fun activities and invited folks from the neighborhood to come and learn about it. The concept, "Where's my pav gone", started with pav (bread) at the top through the mouth moving down the esophagus (about 200 bottles strung together) into the stomach where it was dipped into coca cola (acidic) to break it down, with further help from our enzyme friends. The kids then went through the small intensities (tarpoline tunnels) and then through the large intestines to land up into the toilet (their pav :)). We rounded off the evening with some tea and story telling with Snigdha, our resident chai expert. About 17 kids and 17 adults came to enjoy the experience.



The rest of the month went lazying around, exploring Goa, finding a house and in new year celebrations.


On Jan 1 I came to Mumbai with Ann to show her this crazy city in 2 days! I wrapped up my work thingis in Mumbai and headed back to set up home with Snigdha later in the month :) We picked a lovely breezy house in Donapaula near Panjim.


Now that everything's settled, work life too is on in full swing. Way too many plans for 2013 and the new TT table at Nashville is a big distraction :) So is the sea :)






Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Help Astronomers Name Pluto’s Tiniest Moons"

Credit: NASA

Wired Science put up an article on a poll to name Pluto's newest-found moons: P4 and P5.
Here are the options:


The reasoning behind the greeky names is:
But beware: Naming astronomical objects isn’t as simple as deciding whether to name your dog “Dog.” According to conventions set forth by the International Astronomical Union, moons must not be given a name that’s already been bestowed upon an asteroid (though spelling variants are acceptable). And, in the Pluto system, the names must be mythological and related to the dominion of Hades.
Very scientific no?

How about starting to name astronomical objects after some other mythologies: Latin American, Indian, Chinese?

It's a bit confusing no? What are the guidelines to calling something "International"?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"I Have Always Confused Desire With Apocalypse"

We met over a small
earthquake. Now, my knees
shake whenever
you come around
and I've noticed your hand
has a slight tremor.
Daphne Gottlieb

Monday, February 11, 2013

On Time

Time is like a marker, for humans to perceive the difference between moments of life. The scale of track is down to 10–46 seconds (that’s 1 divided by 1 followed by 46 zeroes) up to 14.6 billion years (or so). But this view of time is changing. I’m slowly understanding that it is a relative speed (and I say speed, because speed is defined in terms of time) reduced to human perception.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Universe in a Box Workshop

For the past year, intermittently, I’ve been working on a production and distribution plan for an educational activity kit called ‘Universe in a Box’ (http://www.unawe.org/resources/universebox/), designed to teach astronomy and universal frame to 4 to 10 year old children from across the world. The initial part of the project, carried out under an internship with EU UNAWE at Leiden University from January to June 2012, was largely planning (http://www.slideshare.net/scratchpost/internship-presentation-universe-in-a-box). I’ve continued to work on the project from here in India, and production of 50 prototypes began in November last year. They’re ready to be sent out to educators in over 20 countries—and some have already been dispatched! A really amazing company in Thane called Curion Education (http://www.curioneducation.com/) have worked with UNAWE to produce the prototypes.

An ex-colleague of mine, Swapneel Rane, recently started teaching at Elia Sarvat English High School in Malad, Mumbai, through the Teach for India (www.teachforindia.org) program since June 2012. I asked him if I could do a workshop with his 10-12 year old kids—about 30 of them because I wanted to use the box directly with children to see the response and educational effectiveness. A lot of science is not taught in his school—the need is mostly to focus on math and English literacy—and he said yes yes yes!

The night before the workshop, I sat with the box and handbook and planned about 10 activities I wanted to cover in the 5-6 hours I had with the kids. A bit nervous, I woke up early and reached school, which was in an area of Mumbai I hadn’t visited for a while, but lived in for 5 long years. I met Swapneel and his colleagues, and two friends Nash and Guru who came to help out.

 
 

The class was a really sweet one with super incredible kids. They were well-engaged and in the first few hours we spoke about the moon. How big is the moon? How far is it from Earth? Why do we always see the same face on the moon? How do craters form on the moon’s surface? What are the moon’s phases: why and how do we see them? We ended the first session with making a moon flipbook of lunar phases. The children were broken up into teams and given a sheet of paper. They needed to figure out how to divide the paper into 30 pieces and then draw the whole lunar cycle from new moon to new moon to make an animated flip book. While they did the activity, we went around to demonstrate and ask them questions on what they are seeing from Earth. The kids enjoyed working in teams and we had to facilitate only one group.

The second session got challenging as the children were very restless after their break. The school does not have a ground or compound to play, so the children had bounds of bounds of energy to release in the classroom :) So we needed a super interesting topic, and the children picked Aliens. We started to learn about the different planets in our solar system. Some of their characteristics, their size, how far they are from the Sun, and what they are made of. We then handed out clay to groups of two or three children and they were asked to make their alien from a planet of their choice. At the end of 30 min, they have to come in front of the class and introduce their alien and the planet its from. The class then gets to ask questions to see if the alien can really exist on the planet. For example, to live on mercury your skin needs to be made of something extra special, to live on mars you have to eat something other than plants and legs are no good on Jupiter because it is a gaseous planet. Out of the 10 groups, 4 aliens lived :) Such an activity covers a lot of skills: applying the knowledge you just learnt about planets, critical thinking, as well as presentation.

That’s all we had time for: about 30% of what I had planned (nice learning for a first experience). At the end of the session, the teacher Swapneel asked the children to write three things they enjoyed, three things they didn't like and three things they learnt. The children's comments were very positive and they thoroughly enjoyed the activities on the moon, and the aliens were a big hit! They also mentioned that they learnt team work. Some children did not like that the class was too noisy (it was extremely hard for me to control the noise levels).

But this helped me identify a major pitfall. Practical activities are designed for smaller classroom sizes. Universe in a Box works incredibly well with smaller groups of 10 children, or the class should be divided into groups of 10 children. Or perhaps bigger really well disciplined groups.

I’m increasingly becoming a fan of inquiry-based and practical learning and imagine a future where primary and secondary school science is not taught only from text books but from learning boxes with all sorts of materials, including books :)

Inspirational experience and I thank the kids, Swapneel, Mary, Adithya and Nash and Guru! And Cristina (http://www.sterrenlab.com/) for showing me the awesome Alien activity in China last year :) And Curion Education for the lunar phases flipbook! And of course, Universe Awareness for getting this resource out there into our small but marvelous world.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Great Escape


You were my greatest escape.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Morning

You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

— Neruda, The Song of Despair