It was still America


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The movie theater was moderately crowded. I expected a larger crowd, but then again it was a Saturday afternoon show. 2:50 pm; an ideal time to sleep. Indians tend to like to sleep on Saturday afternoons. The moderate crowd seemed to thoroughly enjoy the movie. Usha Nadkarni’s performance in the courtroom evoked guffaws as expected. So did some of Sachin Khedekar and Anang Desai’s scenes. It was typical Hindi movie of two and a half hours. As the movie ended, the crowd slowly dispersed. First out the theater screen playing the movie and then the multiplex, out into the shopping mall housing the theater. Indians — young and old, seemingly content. I was content too; an enjoyable movie amidst familiar people. It was not until I stepped back into the shopping mall that it hit me. It was still America and not India. It was still America.

Cross posted from here: https://medium.com/@varish/it-was-still-america-f71070fd53d6

A special thank you to …


Post Master’s thesis defense, I decided to write up a different kind of acknowledgement. Inspired by Chaitali’s blog a few years ago, this one acknowledges all those, who we should be thanking too, but we forget about them!

First off a big thanks to my laptop (a Dell Inspiron 1525) and the Dell desktop box I use in my lab for being my constant companions, all through reading of papers, writing the code developed to test my approaches, writing my thesis, making presentations etc. Both Windows 7 & Linux Mint 7 served me well ! Thanks to Microsoft Word and Latex, during the writing part of my thesis and a couple of papers that I have worked on so far. Thanks to the Ebiquity lab printer, printing out countless reference papers and thesis while I proof read it.

Microsoft PowerPoint was awesome. Without it, making good presentations would have been difficult. It helped me win the best presentation award at the UMBC Graduate Research Conference 2010 and prepare a good presentation for the defense as well! Be it snow, rain or heat, my car, the Mazda Protege (a car with the Semantic Web connection 😛 ) was my constant companion. The car was a big help, when I wanted to stay late in to the night in my lab. Mr. Capresso in the Ebiquity Lab, churned out countless cups of coffee to keep me awake !

Last but not the least, Life would have been difficult if it wasn’t for Mr. Google and Mr. Bing ! Thanks a lot ! And yea apologies to all other softwares, systems that I did not name here due to lack of space ! 😀

PS: I did a lot of practice talks of my presentations and my defense in the basement of my house ! Thanks to the basement as well for listening to the same talk again and again ! 😛

One Year


August 6, 2009 marks my first anniversary in the US. It was this day in 2008, I landed at BWI. There were senior students from the previous batch at UMBC, who received me at the airport, I stayed with them for the initial 2 – 3 days. They really helped me and everyone else from the Fall 08 batch to settle down in this new place. Its been one year since that day and August 6 this year, another batch of students arrived at UMBC. This time it I was who picked up them from the airport, they are the spending their initial days with me and my room-mates and we will be the ones helping them out settle. Its cycle … we were in the same position as our seniors were one year ago and that too on the very same day as in 2008. I never realized how quickly one year went by … time surely flies … This one year nonetheless has been one exciting journey and I look forward to the next year 🙂

And finally I attended one …


I have been a huge WWE fan as kid and I always wanted to watch a WWE event live. Last week another one of my childhood dreams were full filled – watching a WWE event live ! I attended WWE’s ECW and Smackdown! shows in downtown Baltimore.  The atmosphere was electric and it was just the way I used to see on television.  Seeing Tony Chimel, good ol’ JR (Jim Ross), Christian, CM Punk, Jeff Hary and the other wrestlers perform made my evening and it was all the worth travelling to downtown Baltimore 🙂

When power goes out …


There is lot of dependence on electricity in the US and I got a small preview of it today morning. When I reached office, I saw darkness in the usually well lit building and I realized there was no power which meant the lifts were not working and the access cards to the office won’t work either (fortunately the door was open). The office in itself was dark in most places where there were no windows. Most windows were closed (and could not be opened) which meant that it started to get very warm inside the office. I decided to have my usual morning coffee and could not do that too since the coffee machine won’t work as that too was powered by electricity. I could not grab a can of soda either; the soda vending machine too was powered by electricity. Water was also out of bounds, the water purifier was electricity powered! So when power is out, you can’t do much here other than grabbing a nice book and reading it peacefully 🙂

An encounter with God ?


Things were not going great for Kapil these days. He just missed his connecting train back to Mumbai and the next train was 7 hours later. His faith had shaken and he had a lot of negativity filled in his mind. Why it is only me that has to go through all the bad times, I want to meet God and question him was the thought in his mind for a few days now.

Sulking over his not so good time, while he was waiting for the next train, he heard a voice “Is someone sitting here?” . “No, you can take the seat”, Kapil replied back at the young man who seemed to be in his mid twenties, tired yet cheerful. Few minutes later, the man started off to strike a conversation with Kapil. The talk was regular – where are you from, what do you do, where are going now and all that stuff. Kapil didn’t mind the conversation either – rather than sulking over his bad time, he was feeling better having this conversation.

Suddenly the man pops up a question – “Do you believe in God?” Kapil was taken aback by this question. With his bad days on, his faith was shaken. Kapil tentatively replied “Yes I do. ” “How strongly do you believe in God?” , the man countered. “Quite Strongly “ , Kapil replied. “Good. It is important for your faith not be shaken when you are going through bad times” , the man said. The man carried on, talking about a Reader Digest’s article on Srinivasa Ramanujan, the great Indian mathematician, who even though he could not clear elementary school exams, went on to become one of the greatest Mathematicians and how his self belief and faith had helped him to do well, when he was in UK all alone.

Abruptly in the middle of the conversation, the man suddenly looked at his watch and said that he has a train to catch. Wishing Kapil all the good luck and success, the man went off. Kapil pondered over the conversation he had with the man and was already beginning to feel positive and good. He wanted to thank the man for the positive talk and went looking for the man. But to Kapil’s surprise, he could not find the man and there was no such train as mentioned by the man, leaving the station at that time. Kapil pondered for long… Who was the man …. Was it an encounter with the god himself?