Sunday, August 25, 2013

[Event Alert] Fellowships and Grad School Funding Seminar @ UMBC 7th September, 2013

Maryland's AGEP and Graduate Student Development Unit of Graduate School at UMBC are organizing a seminar that will be conducted at UMBC on 7th September 2013. The seminar will be mainly a guiding talk on various funding options at graduate school and providing emphasis on NSF's Graduate Fellowship Program Application. The speakers, who are distinguished alumni of PROMISE group, Dr. Carter-Johnson & Dr. Ordóñez will be conducting the seminar. Its a pride to mention that at least 10 of their mentees who have taken their workshops have won the prestigious NSF GRFP Fellowship, or other award, for a total of approximately $1 million of fellowship money!

All interested students are invited to attend the seminar. For registering, please RSVP in the comments section of the page http://www.tinyurl.com/PROMISE-Sep2013Event with your name, school, and discipline (academic department)/major.

Here is a promotional video for the event.


If possible do attend the seminar. It will be prove to be very helpful if you are going to pursue your higher education.

Note: Breakfast and Lunch will be served too!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Delhi Gulmarg Srinagar (Part 1)



Most of my previous blogs have been about abstract entities and ideals and imaginations that reside in my head, but this one comes from the heart.  A confession before I say anything else: I really have not travelled a lot, but this journey I undertook was an experience that is beyond the bounds of expression in words.

This trip began from Pune, headed to Delhi, soared till the heaven called Gulmarg and through the beautiful city of Srinagar commenced back at home in Pune.

After meeting deadlines after deadlines and drops after drops of product release cycles at office, I wanted a relaxed holiday. But what I got was far more. It was an experience filled with awesome new friends, solace with nature, snowfalls, blizzards, snowy mountains, a few sparkling starry nights, ‘epic fails’ and roars of unrestrained laughter. What I am back with are memories, treasured and fun-filled, which bring flashes of smiles on my face when I sit at the office, travel with the PMT bus, ride my bike, run on the treadmill, or just when I lay supine on my bed waiting to sleep.

Delhi had always been a city I wanted to visit. Widely seen on the television, heard about from friends and always the most used word in GK books from school, Delhi has now been marked checked on my list!

Although the time was limited, I got to get a feel of the city by my visit to India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Qutub Minar, Akshardham, Connaught Place, Palika Bazaar, Chandni Chowk, Pahar gunj, Gurgaon and lots of travel through the metro trains.

My first day at Delhi was spent with Aabha and I stayed at the extremely comfortable arrangement at her sister’s place in Gurgaon. Thanks Anujiji! 

After reaching Delhi at around 9 and freshening up, we headed for Akshardham. Anujiji dropped us till the Huda City Center metro station, and we were off for the day. This was my first experience with Delhi metro. I had travelled previously by metro at Shanghai, but frankly, I really was ignorant of the fact that Delhi metro was as comparable to the one I saw in China. We took the yellow line and got down at Rajiv Chowk and changed to the blue line to head for Akshardham. The temple is visible from the metro station. At the first sight you realize, its huge! After getting down from the station, we took a two-seater manual rickshaw towards the temple gate. They charge you Rs. 5 -10 per person. The experience is new!


As you enter the temple, you definitely get excited looking at the marvelous carvings all around you and the majestic size of this monument. They say it was built only in five years, but what a piece of intricate and delicate work! Carved in marble and red-stone are idols of gods and stories from Mahabharata. You’ll never know how fast the clock rides whilst you are lost in the beauty and calm at this wonderful place.

[Image Credit: Wikipedia]


I would refrain from pointing out all the history about this monument in the post, but would definitely insist that this is a must visit place if you are to land in Delhi.

Next we headed for the Qutub Minar, a very renowned monument in India. A major attraction at the Qutub Minar is the rust free 1600 year old Iron pillar that still stands young in its premises. Here are some pics clicked at the Qutub minar.





While we were to leave for the day the mild showers made the day even more pleasant. But roaming in the huge Akshardham Temple and Qutub Minar was enough to get us tired for the day.

Next morning I left for Pahar-Gunj. This place has been branded by many as the backpacker's paradise. Backpackers can easily find cheap places for their stay. I'll admit that the area is tacky, but c'mon I just need a bed to sleep, not a place to spend the day when there is so much beauty. Thanks to my friend Rupali who gave me the address for Maharashtra Bhavan. I bet thats the most reasonably priced place you'll find in Pahar-Gung. They charge Rs. 200 for a night in the hall dinner inclusive! The facility is run by Marathi-speaking people (no restrictions for people from other states) and is pretty decent for the price. They also have rooms which are available for Rs. 300 - Rs. 350 per night. Here are a pictures of from Maharashtra Bhavan.

For reaching this place you need to get down at the Ramkrishna Ashram Marg metro station and it will take not more than 10 minutes for you to reach Maharashtra Bhavan.


Hall@Mah Bhavan: Pick any place you want to sleep!

From here I headed to Chandni Chowk (CC) by bus number 753 (if I correctly remember it). A place where you'll find lots of food stalls, shops, street vendors, chaos and clamour! Very nearby are the RedFort, Jama Masjid and Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib. I visited these places twice; once alone and once again with rest of the gang. Our gulmarg-heading gang ie. Himanshu (aka He-Man), Nivedita (aka Atre bai), Ketaki (aka Sathe tai), Laxmi (aka Chopde) and Amit (aka Amit papa) reached Delhi the next day. We stayed at Himanshu's friends place for the next day. Thank you Himanshu's friend! :P



In my first visit to the Red Fort, the mistake that I made was not taking the audio tour guide available near the ticketing counter. So my first visit was mostly wasted looking at very old and very beautiful constructions without actually understanding the history of these constructions. This mistake was rectified in my second trip there. I strongly suggest you take the audio tour guide machine on rent before you enter the fort. They charge you around Rs. 60 per equipment for Hindi and Rs. 100 for English. Take it.

Paratha Gali at CC is a must visit place if you are a foodie and don't mind dirty, filthy ambience. No exaggeration. I repeat; Dirty and Filty! But the paranthas that we had there were amazing. They actually fry those paranthas. We had the regular aloo, matar, paneer, and the weird and worth trying: nimbu paratha. Ketaki's reactions on eating the nimbu paratha were unforgettable!



Here are a few pics more pics from CC.







We then headed for Connaught Place (often called CP) which is yet another place which is very famous in Delhi. Lots and lots of shops. So if you are in a mood for shopping head straight here. We just ate at Wenger's Bakery there. Was nice and tasty, but just to get a sandwich you'll have to stand in a queue for 10-15 minutes. Wikipedia tells that CP is the 4th most expensive office place in the world! After you are done visiting CP, go to nearby Palika Bazaar. Its an underground market place with lots and lots of shops. Be informed that the vendors will try to lure you by calling you funny names, being overly polite, and following you through the lengths of the corridors. Fun experience!


Another attraction in Delhi, the capital is the India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Sansad Bhavan. You see them on TV all the time, so its definitely worth a visit. Also if you want to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan from inside, you can make bookings online (I came to know about it after my visit). Here is the link http://presidentofindia.nic.in/rbvisit.html.

Getting down at the Central Secretariat metro station, its a 15 minute walk to the India Gate. Its a very patriotic feeling to watch the names of martyrs carved on the India Gate. A big salute to them!



India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhavan is a long walk again. You can take a rick. What I enjoyed the most was the wonderful view of the India Gate from near the Rashtrapati Bhavan. It looked even more splendid during the evening as both the structures lit up.




Next day we headed for Gulmarg via Srinagar where the real fun began. Visit to Delhi was indeed a nice experience. A memorable one indeed. I'll soon write about my experience at Gulmarg in the second part of this post.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Introvert


The Introvert


With an unsure mind I put down my pen,
Like a goldfish swirling around its confined haven

I know not where the way ahead leads,
Where in this huge jungle I shall ever find complete peace

Discouraged seldom by others and often by own,
One venturesome leap ahead follows three back in the known.

I gaze deep inside myself too often,
Thinking of my actions and others’ reactions,
Lost in thoughts of the least importance,
Over time they delve deeper carving my subconscious

Aware and readier, my mind becomes,
For splashing disappointments from around,
Fewer words I speak than what reside within,
Surrendering to action-reaction thoughts that have me bound

The thoughts still hammer me,
Of what shall others think as they peruse over these lines,
Now that’s enough already,
I want to break free of those shackles and lies

I look above and admire the Sun,
Which shines on its will,
Nonchalantly and merrily,
Not hindered by the slightest concern

I wish not to be those mighty tall mountains,
Silent and covered with the dominating snows,
I wish to be like the free hills,
Enjoying on my face, the gushing wind that mellifluously flows

Like the rivers I shall find my path and make my own burbling sound,
Carefree, for what its worth and what counts

Free I feel…
Unfettered I shall be…



                                                                          -Piyush Waradpande

(Note: Image credits http://goo.gl/uy7cp )

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teachings from the sea



Lately I had an opportunity to visit Ladghar in Konkan district of Maharastra. It is one of the not so famous beaches in the state, where man is yet to fight against the natural beauty by commercializing it. Ever since my childhood, like many others who’ve spent their childhood far off the huge waters, I’ve had this strange attraction for beaches. The vastness of the sea and the soothing sound of the waves has always fascinated me and made me want to get amalgamated in that mystic beauty. This was the first time I had a chance to stay overnight by the beach.  I had only imagined how the beautiful sea looked like during the dawn!

My wish list also had a point saying “Go for a morning jog by the sea” on it. This was my chance to have it marked it checked.  And that was done. Not only was an item marked “done” in my life, but also a metamorphosis seemed to take place!

Mystical the sea is. Sometimes thought provoking, sometimes perplexing, but always consistent. Never does it fail to get you absorbed in its unfathomable beauty. Never does it fail to get you to learn something new and pacify the cacophonous emotions. This experience too, was a cathartic one.

The waves never stop coming on you. Sometimes they are big and sometimes small. They are like problems in our life, some mundane and the others challenging. They hit you hard; they push you back and keep doing so incessantly. They add vigor to the otherwise still life. The congenital inclination of human kind is to explore the unexplored and do what is challenging. Likewise, we all seek to fight those waves and seek tranquility amidst the calm and deep waters, far away from the noisy waves.

The numerous small and big chunks of froth, which form by the shore in the receding waves, are like the varied experiences in our life. They exist there for a short while, before being pulled back into oblivion. But impressions are surely left on the sand underneath.  Lessons are learnt, idiosyncrasies developed, prejudices formed and minds made more seasoned.

The impressions and patterns on the sand are like the ever-learning mind, which keeps becoming wiser with every wave of experience shaping it. It is up to us to realize that those patterns are destined to be ephemeral too. The waves of experience shall not stop. Delta status quo would never ever be zero in life. So even if it’s an abjectly sad time in your life, the next dawn is yet to come. The next pattern is yet to be drawn. You never know how the canvas would look like beneath tomorrow’s sunshine.

The shells on the beach are like the good memories in life, you feel good remembering them. They are colorful and bring smiles on your face, and give you every reason to enjoy life. They whisper about the good old times when you listen to them and mix up with those small and big stones around, to give life a vibrant color it has.

These thoughts just kept coming to my mind during a fine morning spent by the sea, soaking my feet in the cool waters of the Arabian Sea. As I said, it truly was a catharsis!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sony Ericsson Xperia mini ST15i review


This would be my first android phone. Its been about 3 days since I am using it. As soon as it first arrived, the first thought that came to my mind was, “umm.. small is it?” But guys, let me tell you this little thing has lot packed inside.

“Judge me by my size, do you?”

The specification/price ratio is no doubt the best according to other products available in the market.

Processor:     1 Ghz Snapdragon
Ram:             512 MB
Screen:          3” (Bravia Engine Powered)
Battery:        1200 mAh
Camera:        Single, 5 MP, with HD recording and LED flash

Lets do the step by step unboxing. Firstly, thing that you would probably note is the touch sensitivity and it sure is awesome! The 3 inch capacitive display is a delight to use. It feels so smooth that you definitely play around with it for a while once you get hold of it. The ST15i does not have a QWERTY keyboard. This I thought would be a problem for my fat fingers while texting. But so far, I did not face any problem texting or emailing. Slight mistakes are forgiven, given the brilliant display and the amazing quality touch interface.

Sony ericsson has worked a lot on their UI. Its fun and very easy to use. IPhone imitations are visible at most places, especially while re-positioning the application icons. The timescape is a brilliant feature to use. The design is slightly thick 16mm, but it looks cool overall. With the elegant black matt finish back cover and SE logo, they also give you a glossy dark blue back cover in the box. The phone looks nice and cool, SE are know for good designs anyway.

And there was absolutely no noticeable lag in operation of the phone. Only once did the phone lagged by sec quarter sec so, while playing ninJump (may due to some background applications running).

Taking about the camera, the photographs were decent, but I expected a bit more out of the camera. The pictures could have been better with lesser light, although, given enough light, they are crisp. The HD recording gives you the size, but quality is moderate to good. Actually the camera could’ve been better as per the sony repute.

I’ve read people talking about sad battery life for this phone, but I would differ. With either wifi or packet data and GPS on most of the time, the phone still is on 42% after about a day’s use. Music although was not played too much today. Hoping that it lasts for atleast another 8-10hrs.

The sound of the earpiece is decent. With headphones, it becomes awesome! The bravia engine brings life to your images and videos :)
Score on Quadrant benchmark was about 1589 which is decent for this device.

So far I spoke a lot good about the phone, lets hear some bad.

Firstly, sometimes the display feels a bit flickery. The reason being the automatic brightness adjustment, depending on the ambient light. Unfortunately there is no way to disable this.

Secondly, If you have super fat fingers, you might mess-up your text messages (It works for me although)

Thirdly, I recently came across a forum about how the phone malfunctioned for many people due to getting heated up. The capacitive touch keys at the bottom started operating automatically for some people. You might want to go through this thread. But for me I’ve had no problem so far. (and keeping my fingers crossed that it does not come in future too)


Finally the in-call voice is OK and the speaker phone is not loud enough. I feel Motorola devices have better voice quality.

Repeating again, my phone doesn’t show any signs of too much of heating up (considering my moderate use).

Verdict:
 Over all I found the phone to be total value for money.  If you have a very heavy use and you cannot resist tweeting or making a high score between two breaths, this one is not for you. If you have moderate use and you like speed, and cool graphics, awesome music, good daylight pics, and you do not live directly below the sun, and also want to be easy on your wallet too, this one is definitely for you.





Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fuh'get it!



The world is a big zoo... full of animals usually humans. Every animal has some characteristic features like height, weight, structure, color and many other similar physical properties unique to the animal. There is another category of properties, lets call them the chemical properties, because those are technically chemical and they are visible by their reactions on other animals.

These chemical properties are a result of the different fluids that run and get produced inside the brain of the animal. The interesting thing about the chemical properties is that they are absolutely unique. You never can predict the reaction accurately. To be precise, some examples of these properties are happiness, calmness, temper, mental cool, stress, tension, greed, lust, anger, favoritism, prejudice, forgetfulness, attentiveness, forgiveness, motivation, inspiration, focussed-ness etc. and infinitely many when they combine with each other. As a IT student I am tempted to think in terms of automata and say that chemically every animal is finite state machine having countably infinite states!

If you've survived the stupidity above lets continue for some more until that stupidity actually transforms to sagacious words of wisdom. Where were we? Yes... absolutely unique chemical properties... Lets add one more dimension to our current line of thinking, the temporal dimension. Now these chemical properties are non-reproducible given the same set of environment variables. The reason being the temporal variable cannot be reproduced. So these properties constantly change with time and thus prediction or taking some property for granted becomes futile.

Animals by intuition are social. They heavily interact with each other and "react" on interaction with other animals. Now the reactions may be exothermic or endothermic. It totally depends on the participating animals. Exothermic reactions boost the entropy inside and cause many more more unnecessary reactions within the brain. They are usually undesirable but they cannot be avoided always. They are bound to happen some day.

It is the chemical called as forgiveness that acts as the tranquilizer in such reactions. Other chemical called forgetfulness also works brilliantly in such situations. Both of them produce plenty of calmness to prevent future exothermic reactions.

Calmness is not produced by default. You have to train your brain to do so. You have to learn to relax and free your mind of anything that disturbs you unnecessarily. For that you need to reduce the levels of prejudice, hatred and anger. You should also be careful that you do not allow stress and tension to react where they do not have a absolutely necessary role.

This was about internals of your mind. But you never can control the chemical properties of the other reactants. They, as I previously said are unpredictable and governed by various factors like previous reactions, levels of catalysts and obviously time of the day! But what you can control is the levels of useful chemicals within your brain. Also animals, especially humans are intelligent, so keeping a track of which animals cause safe reactions and which ones cause explosive reactions is a good idea. So be careful before you spontaneously react next time :)

To bachho aaj humne kya seekha??


If you are having a bad day, increase levels of useful chemicals that stabilize your brain. Keep the highly reactive chemicals sealed and in the dark corners of your brain. Do not expect others to be always good to you, instead you be good and reduce the heat emitted from the animal-animal reaction. And still if someone says or does something hurtful... keep track and then just FUH'GET it!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Straight from the heart of a bathroom singer

Being a member of our college band, I've performed quite a few times. As rhythm guitarist I've always been standing near the drummer or the piano guy in our band (Well @ COEP stage, guitarists have fixed corners to stand :P). Looking at the singer from there is something that really could make you feel jealous! Also I've been wanting to sing at-least one song on the stage in front of the fully packed auditorium since long...(That day will surely come, I hope :) ). When I hear the "once more" shouts from the audience my desire to sing just quadruples every-time. Well, this desire of mine has been thumping me since my school days.

Thats when I actually began to practice my singing skills, well it all started from within the bathroom walls. Bathroom is the place where you get the perfect echo, the perfect reverb and your voice simply seems magnificent. Thats the place where you gather your motivation the most. That divine voice of yours in there shows you so many colourful dreams. So you try to sing better and better and apply all your concentration on the amelioration of your unpolished talent.

When you are totally engrossed in singing that favorite Ronan Keating or John Mayer or Elvis song of yours, when your voice sounds as good as anyone of them, when you close your eyes and visualize crowd of thousands of people applauding you, clapping hands and cheering with fullest exuberance, when you feel that fire within yourself, when you feel that feeling of fulfillment from within, when all this happens, suddenly the drums go wrong, the guitar strings get un-tuned, the piano looses its magic suddenly... you shake your head, come out of that divine state and realize that the person in the next bathroom is the one who did all this by singing that "Kala kaua" song! Such a disaster that is! Such a frustration that is! I call these foolish non-humans the enemies of Saraswati, the goddess of art and music.

The experience of being intruded is not always that bad, sometimes you are joined along with another "pro" bathroom singer. The jamming that goes along is a marvelous experience. The music of that splashing water and the beating bucket is a icing on the cake. All this along with the optimal temperature water showering all over you is absolutely maddening! Simply terrific! Only the ones who have experienced this can understand the true joy of this!

So to all my friends who love bathroom singing! Go ahead... juice it up! Enjoy yourself! Do it and do it like a "pro"!