Oh Istanbul !!

When we booked tickets to Istanbul, I knew something magical was brewing for times to come up. The magic that promised of oriental charms and sights, of a cultural trip different from anything I have experienced yet, of delicacies, of sumptuous buffets and mezze, of dope coffee and cay. And of course of baklava.

I was in class 9th when one of my cousins visiting from the USA, bought baklava while at transit in Istanbul. My sweet tooth knew this will be one of the choicest sweets from outside India, I would be relishing in years to come.

For our first two days, we booked a hotel in the heart of Istanbul, in Fatih, Literally 5 minutes walk from Sultanahmet – the blue mosque. Slowly we fought 12 hrs flight and time zone difference, and undefeated loitered around the area. We found rasta bazaar, which was a miniature version of Grand Bazaar, we saw tourists thronging benches between Hagia Sophia and the blue mosque. There was a seller selling roasted chestnuts and corn, we opted for former and were not disappointed.

chestnuts

Albeit to our surprise, coming from the tropical island, we underestimated the weather and had to venture out to buy jacket/sweatshirts. We got 2-way ticket to Aksaray and were promptly guided to a nearby mall by locals. It was pleasant to be outside the tourist district, and have a feel of local life in Istanbul. We ended up buying some fresh fruits (cherries and almonds). After an hour or two, we hired a cab back to our hotel, too tired to walk back to the tram station (T1 line, as its popularly called there).

Next day we had time till lunch to explore Istanbul, before catching a flight to Capadoccia. I entrusted my confidence with “the Museum of Turkish and Islamic art “. We two were the first ones to get into the museum at 9 am and had the whole lobby and all the antiquities exclusive to us. We admired begone era of Turkey, its journey, meandering through its corridors of past. I was pleasantly surprised to see Prophet Mohammed relics in the museum. We ended with a vista greeting us with the view of Sultanahmet. Of course, photography ensued.

Thus we ended our first leg of Istanbul visit.

After flying out from istanbul on Turkish airlines, and catching this amazing pic of Bosphorous Striats dividing Asia and European part.

For next 6 days we would be visting rest of Turkey. On our 6th day, we caught a flight from Izmir to Istanbul. This time we were staying in the modern corner of Istanbul, 5 mins walk from Taksim Square in chic Ramada hotel. Most of the group was tired from the journey and slept off after lunch. But sleep eluded me, and I ventured out to find famed Galata Tower. I queried at the reception desk, and the receptionist said something called “Istiklal Street”. I could not found Istiklal Street somehow on google maps and ended up doing a 2 km walk across the Bosphorus to Galatasaray. When I took the climb up from the main street, the presence of touristy shops on both side signaled the approach of Galata Tower. And few steps down the cobbled pathway, there it stood – the Galata Tower adorned with a long serpentine queue of tourists vouching for a 360-degree view of Istanbul. I took some obligatory pics from the camera, and walked away from it, happy to have discovered it on my own, and now sleepy from waking up early to catch that Izmir-Istanbul flight. I took a cab back to the hotel, and saving myself extended meter costs thanks to google maps when the aged driver almost took a wrong turn to get some more Lira.

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Awakening?

Often at times when I read through my old blog posts, I wonder if I was the one who wrote it. It’s like some other person in some other domain came up with these wonderful words. Probably that’s how dark ages felt to Medici family. Humans would have felt, it seems that we know all this maths and algebra and architecture, but it’s just that we have forgotten it while evolution.

I still have those emails coming from my publisher, thought a lot less frequent now. Previously it was a lady named Ada, and now it seems she is gone and replaced by Hannah. Still, it feels like another era, another planet.

Life these days is most entrenched in writing, writing code, not these words, which are feral and wild. Strange it may sound, but one kind of writing feeds the heart, and while writing code, umm, feeds the wallet. Probably it all boils down to linguistics, it is the medium through which we express ourselves, be it the logical thinking part of the brain while writing codes or the calm, artistic part which probably is active right now.

I slept off earlier last night around 9pm, probably from swimming fatigue and making up for lost sleep. I woke up around midnight, only to realize that my fatigued legs have healed, and I dreamed how sleeping cleanses up the body or something. More on this later, till I finish up researching what happens when we sleep, physiologically and psychologically.

Among other things, I joined Toastmasters 1.5yrs back. Its fun and confidence boosting, to prepare speeches and deliver it in front of a willing audience. And those shiny velvety best speaker, best evaluator ribbons are sure fab. But probably instaGen would be happy if someone would come up with instaCertificates, there that’s the next big thing.

Awards and trophies, as instaCertificate – we make socially acceptable, smartphone supported. Get all the social validation and ego boost you want and crave for. Our product will help you get all the likes and comments you want, and be Kim or Ronaldo for a day.  I am resisting the hashtags, I think WordPress does not support them(yet?)

best

Until next time.

 

Musings

On his diurnal morning pilgrimage to work, sometimes his eyes were wide awake to register happenings around. Today was this day.

There was a girl with coffee, spilled coffee on her snow white sneakers, which were current haute couture of this generation.

She tried to erase the coffee marks using a tissue, for what were white sneakers sans their white glow?

He sat surrounded by daily commuters, mostly engaged religiously to their smart phone screen, among cacophony of apps and data. A bright shaft of sun illuminated their plebian shenanigans, revolting against their machine, and trying it’s best time get their attention off the artificial lighting, and all it got was squinted eyelids in response.

Michael Chabon had been his constant companion for almost two weeks now. The book, though short like a novella, was ” a natural excuberence and extravagance of Chabon’s writing is matched by his dazzling wit”, as Sunday Telegraph has noted.

It provided a certain solace and nutrition to his senses starved of prose & verse, but abound with automation tools and career/soul searching

The metro moved through stark contrasting world on either side, as seen through its windows. Greens of Dover juxtaposed to cemented high rises, on opposite windows.

They descended at Buona Vista. A diffident Chinese teen, adjusted his coiffure subconsciously, while passing by cute European teenagers. For such was Singapore, a complex amalgam of coutries and continents, merging in this giant 740 square kilometer cauldron of dreams, identities and life.

“One north ”

And thus began his work day.

Consciousness & quantum physics eh?

They sat around coffee mugs, and probably that discussion came from how gen Y differ from Gen-X, in sense that have Gen-Ys have shorter attention spans, with a affinity for video games.

– Probably its just the brain wiring, neurons firing.

Manu suggested having seen that last episodes of documentary by Dr Eagleman, where scientist were trying to make a digital copy of a human brain , which currently stores data in Zetabytes = equivalent of amount of data currently existing in the world. [1][2][3]

Another set of scientists were making artificial brain, but the obvious question that pops up what will you do about consciousness ? ”

P said , “we might be having parallel universe right here, next to us. Have you given it  a thought ever that there exists a possibility that you have a quantum counterpart. Quantum physics have this theory of entanglement, where two subatomic particles revolve in opposite directions, to balance.”[4]

Manu : “ahh I have heard of that one, but isnt it subatomic. So you are extrapolating it to human existence”

“Ya, so thats why in religious books and sects its said for example dont harm others, coz if you do then in parallel world it hits your counterpart, and things get disarrayed there. For same reason probably Gods have a way of things to keep balance between humans and their world, and hence each religion has set of practices.”

“Seems plausible”

“Bu then there is a problem to this, whenever a single being gets ahead in path of evolution, say Buddha, and then tries to change mind of humanity, he will end up failing. In the sense because collective brains > 1 single enlightened brain. And history is an example of this.”

“that’s an interesting thought..”

“I heard it from an indian guy, and he wrote a book which goes by name exits of great man or something” [5]

“Possibly when we say moksha, it might be the case that we need to attain salvation not just for one person. Getting an individual salvation is impossible, only by going together can humanity reach salvation.”

 

 

 

Reference

[1] The Brain http://www.pbs.org/show/brain-david-eagleman/

[2.1] https://science.mit.edu/research/faculty/seung-h-sebastian

[2.2] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mit-neuroscientist-discusses-quest-reserve-engineer-human-brain/

[3.1]  Synthetic brain https://www.theguardian.com/science/2009/jul/23/synthetic-brain-project-consciousness

[3.2] http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/

[4] Quantum Entanglement https://futurism.com/physicists-take-one-large-step-towards-proving-quantum-entanglement/

[5] https://www.amazon.com/Graceful-Exits-stories-Tibetan-Buddhist/dp/1590302702

Blogging in age of snapchats…

Trivia :

Guess the size of Tibet ?

5 time that of Singapore

Some small state in India…

Other day Seth Godin was reminiscing why he did not join twitter and rather stuck to his blog writing. It seems to be a true in certain sense that social media has ruined sense of writing. And not going further it certainly seems to be the case with me. Posting pictures on instagram or sharing posts on facebook , probably quenches the thirst for writing.

If you are reading this , I assume you are still sucker for blogs, and would like to read more than 150 words of twitter or some shared photos on facebook.

In same podcast[1], Godin told about Neil Gaiman method to write, he bores himself to death, and thats when words start flowing. So as it usually happens deleted all social media apps, yet again. Let the detox begin ! 

Only yesterday publisher called up, umpteen times. Not from their usual UK number, but somewhere from new Zealand. I took the bait seeing someone calling from New Zealand, and excused myself for still writing that book i mentioned 4 august 2016. That’s eight months of postponing. Hmmm, make me sad in a certain sense.

Talking of Gaiman , so finally finished American Gods [2], after almost 2 yrs, so ideally now I should be jumping to his next book rather than reading “A mountain in Tibet” by Charles Allen.[3]  But since folks back home are venturing for kailash trek makes some sense to do r&d on Tibet.

Trivia answer

So Tibet is 2.5million sq kms area, almost 1/3rd size of India, that HUGE !! 

[1] http://tim.blog/2016/02/10/seth-godin/

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30165203-american-gods

[3] http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1571415.A_Mountain_In_Tibet

Of living in simulation and AI !

His nose was clogged, and a stream of sweat passed down from his temples, he had been recuperating for 3 weeks now, from those impostor bacteria or virus hosting themselves in his body, and his body calling upon them for illegal trespassing.

The house of cards, was moving along, in its own political glory and an incoming house shifting was due this weekend, along with couple of social calls and a concert with Morrissey. His friends were Morrissey fan, and he kind of became one eventually.

There was this single streak of light, shining through the heavy curtains, which found its own path and illuminated his self.

There were notifications of stock market movings, of whatsapp notifications and he thought to himself what have we done to ourselves with life becoming endless small manoeuvre of clearing notifications , with a short attention span, and clutching over small metal rectangles for most of our waking life. As it was mentioned in simulation argument by University of Maryland, theoretical physicist. Aren’t we already in a simulation ? [1]

And if you come to think of it, it was 2/3 of your waking life delving over world news, keeping up with trends , meeting your friends, judging ones not your friends, and love feelings for your girlfriends, spouses and kids. It was other 1/3 of daily life that intrigued him, when everyone went down to sleep. Thats where all those waking alpha waves, beta waves and delta waves started emitting from your brain cells, and all would dream. It was like a common thread running across everyone’s life. I think neil gaiman was a genius basing his graphic novel on this.[2]

Then there were ones who dreamt of going into space, to mars by 2030, betting on artificial intelligence, thats like that, the amount of stuff that computers did for us and is doing of us is overwhelming. And to imagine in 10-20years as futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts , AI would have a life of their own, what they won’t have is concsciousness.[3]

And in pursuit of this he had been delving in world of machine learning and artificial intelligence for quite a while now. Getting his basics cleared up with all those mathematical algorithms with heavy duty statistics and linear algebra. and trying to find its decent implication on his current project ideas and may be a future company based on it.

You see it is inevitable, he looked back in his iPhone 7, to see what latest notification it held for him, he moved around bit and bought pack of groundnuts to keep him company. Ever since he lost his old iPhone to the fairies in Isle of skye. (https://arunabhmishra.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/the-lazarus-effect/)

Remembering it seemed to be from another world, although it had been a mere 4-5 months, thats how one gets woven in his daily life of ambitions , careers and responsibilities.
He had promised himself to finish off his last two lectures from machine learning class, and in guilt he stopped jotting this down.

[1] http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/series/40372-the-sandman

[3] http://futurism.com/images/the-dawn-of-the-singularity/

[4] http://cs229.stanford.edu/

Of Half marathons, lizards and type A

Recently if you have been around him, you would have come across him repeating type A personality, almost as a leitmotif : Type A’s are this, type A’s are that. Type A’s  had  this system of competition, where they challenged themselves and others to around 100km per month, nike running challenge. He usually tried to keep it easy and disciplined, like 2km per day , would garner him, 14km /week. But math worked that way, not his  fickle self. Inadvertently after every two weeks or so ,he would always be short of 10-15km, after 2 weeks. That was when his type A kicked in , fuelled by the incoming losing challenge , and a will to lose unwanted calories from weekend bashes. Along with it came his faithful 2L hydration backpack, Asics gel running shoes, and determination to run for at least 10km.

– One round around Macritchie would be 12km , and may be if I   can just sustain for another one hour or so, I am set for a half marathon distance, and a second place.

Somehow the weather was good, his knee supportive , and he ran-walked-sprinted through first round, and by the time he was at hydration point of café at Macritchie , his app read 14.0kms,

– so another 7kms to do, And if I am lucky enough I will break PR of 2:50hrs, which means 7km in 50 mins.

He buckled on his knee brace, and refreshed by an from isotonic drink, he started off pacing after 14kms, tired yet determined to beat his PR. After 2km he was out of breath, shins revolting and heart beating faster.

-May be not today, just finish off 21km, and you would be back in challenge.

There was a gigantic monitor lizard on the plank ahead, twice the size of breadth of plank, probably out thinking

Monitor Lizard : “ahh all them humans would be off now, I can venture for my Sunday evening stroll, or might as well go skinny dipping.”

 

Him : “Wtf , this one is huge and menacing, do I wait for it to go , or just keep pacing, with heavy footfall, and shoo it off “

 

M.L. : “Is this runner dude gonna come over, OMG, I am scared, may be if I can just jump off in water and swim away quickly . What if this predator follows me in water, they sure can swim. OMG OMG “

 

Him: “Get over your fear !  monitor lizards are as scared of you as you are of them. We have similar self-doubt about one another. Continue running ”

 

M.L.: “ bastard !, he is coming this way, forget the swim, just get back to the jungle”

It moved back, and got in quickly behind the bushes. He kept running with heavy footfalls, unsure of himself and of the monitor lizard.

 

Him: “I hope it isn’t lurking behind, and will pounce with its bare teeth on my poor naked shins, just imagine its teeth sinking in my flesh. Oh dear, just fucking run ”

 

M.L.: “ I hope he doesn’t follow me in the bushes. Fuck he is running faster, run for your dear life. Great komodo , help your disciple”

 

And faster it ran inside the jungle, over rustling leaves , and faster he ran off the wooden planks , and continued running till he was some 100m faraway.

 

Him: sigh, I should just come back fast enough before it’s total dark, faster ! “

 

M.L.: “ oh dear, that was close, that bugger will probably come back again, sigh !”

 

Nonetheless , he finished off his half marathon distance – first half for this year –  still not able to beat his PB of 2:50hrs. Back in his condominium hall, stretching with ice pack, lemon ice-cream, and 4 glasses of guava juice mixed with rock salt, and promise of social validation through an instagram post.

Nonetheless, it finished off its Sunday evening stroll distance, and skinny dip across the lake. Back in its nest, it lay stretched calm and quiet, near the moist corner of lake, marvelling at the stars above, and the fish it just had consumed, and promise of its survival through nature.

Until next time, when he would again slack on his training schedule, and feel guilt over calories consumed from drinking wine and that particular German erdinger beer.

When you hitchhike …

 

DSCF63691. Do not lose heart if no one stops. Remember pain of walking with 15 kgs of load on back  is much more than that of  getting rejected

2. Thou shalt not covet big SUV’s and wish , but they have so much space !

3. I wish this old couple thinks I am their lost son.

4. Do not dally your arm in a half hearted way, full straight and perpendicular.

5. When frustrated keep on moving. I finished 42 kms , this 10km would be done in a jiffy.

6. The scenery , yes , distract yourself observe highlands, see those carefree sheep, happy and clearly not backpacking or hitchhiking.

7. Take in the look from other lane cars, the sympathy in their eyes for my poor self.

8. After 1-2kms , realize you did not check which was the right way ? confirm with only person you saw in last thirty minutes.

9. “Portree that way, aye.  Say 10-12 miles ”
Reply with an scottish ayes , “Aye, bus ?”
“Aye, bus stop near church”

10. Church ! Now is the time to conjure up your faith, remember school days, remember morning prayers you did for 52 weeks * 14years of St. Johns and St. Mary’s.
“Our father in heaven
Give us today our holy hitch hike !!

11. Again out goes the hitchhiking stance. Confident, smile on face, cap down, and arms perpendicular and determined.
Oh ..car is giving parking dipper.
Is it stopping for me ?
Yes it is.
“Hi can you drop me to Portreee”
“Sure why not?”
Hallelujah !!

12. Now chat, this and that , what did you cover, how you ended up being in Skye from Singapore.

13. You’re from Glasgow ? I was there like yesterday . Great place .

Ahh, you guys are actually Polish ? I have a friend back in Singapore from Poland, (should I throw in that Polish vodka anecdote too ?)

What a coincidence , your husband is wearing same watch as me (Garmin fenix ) Wow, does he runs.

Finally the driving force behind the wheels speaks ,
“yeah man i tried getting into London marathon this year, but the lottery system man. It fills in so fast.”

 

 
Voila Portree, here you are.

The lazarus effect?

28 June 2016

1515 hrs

He woke up two hours earlier than usual nine o’clock, and after hanging around in a bed for a while, thought he should submit that travel insurance claim for broken and water logged camera. The claim form asked for original receipt, which meant getting that black box of Fujifilm out and dusting it off only to find unfilled warranty card, and no sight of bill. That would be bad, he haplessly hovered with on-off button of now defunct camera body.

It had served him well, when he bought it right before his trip to Ladakh , three years back. It caught glorious landscapes, impossible clouds and pink flushed cheeks of Buddhist monk kids. He started to get hang of its function, came back to Singapore to be charade by his friends – photography gurus- of having shot everything with  exceedingly high ISO. Only then he realized that mirror less camera have behemoth ISO of 25,600.

Next he got to Paris,France on an official trip , he was able to snuck in his faithful camera among corporate luggage and snuck out for Church of Notre Dame , Shakespeare and company , reflections of Eiffel tower in water puddles and one and half winged sculpture in Louvre. The zoom lens became his favourite, sending him to places inaccessible, top of Louvre, or zooming in to unaware streets buskers.

 

Next he got amazing pictures of his cousins marriage and tried it out in his hometown, most ancient city of world , to catch the glory of sun rising over ganga. Soon he would take it around absolute corners of world, getting roman colosseum, or capturing couple reading at Roma Termini, and the gigantic Bruneschelli architecture marvel of Florence cathedral, an Italian wedding in Cortona, Tuscany.

And then he got chance to mend his ISO mistakes, with yet another version of Ladakh, only this time it was Scottish Highlands. The verdant green , and its lochs and other worldly landscapes promised him ample photographic adventure. He started off to Isle of Skye from Glasgow, and after twelve hours of bus journey, followed by 30 minutes’ walk , and 20 minutes hitchhike from generous Scottish young couple from Inverness in old red model of Audi two door automobile. He reached Kingsburg, some 15kms from central village of Portree. And beautiful it was, with a loch at the end of horizon, sheep pens and a small stream and 4-5 cottages. Just what he had hoped from Skye. Long endless blue skies, marked by greens and azure blues of Lochs.

 

Next day he embarked on a 8 hours round trip of Skye, since doing it solo on foot or bike looked impossible in one day. He staggered and resisted the urge of climbing Old man of Storr , and just being fulfilled with a view from down next to mini bus. What else can one expect from tours like these ?

The kilt falls were just okayish , rather the bagpiper was more enthralling to his camera eyes and bagpiper’s bagpipe to his ears. They continued down and up, and finally to Quairaig , it was misty, and rain hung in heavens above waiting to come down, the chill of winds was agonizing yet beautiful, and the mountains above and below and his levels added to dreamy escape , and unadulterated panoramic view all the way to horizon.

Then came fairy glens, followed by Neist Point and then came Fairy Pools – one that have caused this whole write-up. He walked down the hill through fields with girl from Los Angels and dentist from Australia , explaining pros and cons of being in Singapore to the American. The fairy pools ensued, and he marvelled at transparent water which hung over rocks like ether, and bunch of Scottish kids plunging in chilly water. His tour guide had given him small water bottle, do taste the water, you will live for hundred years !!

 

He found a miniature waterfall enough to get his bottle filled, he bent down, about to place his right leg firmly. That was the moment he remembered , him bending down with water bottle, with Beth – American next to him , and dentist bit far behind, cold of the air.

Next moment he was in that freezing cold water. He slipped over precarious and slippery algae, his right foot and hiking boots never found the grip they wanted. Neck deep and paddling vigorously he realized what a disaster it had been, he managed to took off his promised waterproof jacket , Beth gave her a hand, but he calmly handed her jacket first, and then tried to rise up. But the rocks around were high , and there was no grip to be found, for a moment he remembered his rock climbing lessons, and tried to get a firm footing on a rock ledge, underwater, but its slippery even underwater !

A good Samaritan finally gave him his hand , and he emerged from the fairy pool, not a single drop of fairy water on his taste buds, and yet neck deep in the pool. Those fairies were naughty for sure, or just snatched his century opportunity ?

He stood there, shivering in windy eight degrees, with his three layers already lying on rocks, his camera gave away, with a strong crack on its lens. iPhone flickered for a while and then slept off, and he …he just stood there saddened at loss of picture and camera. Dentist came back and assured him he could still get travel insurance and promised him a ginger ale , “since you don’t drink beer anymore” when they were back at Portree.

 

Fast forward 28 days, and today morning, he was haplessly trying out on-off button. He thought of giving it a try with a battery pack, and lo and behold it switched on. He could not contain his happiness, it was “the promised waking up of Lazarus, as if jesus had healed it”….and with tunes of Oasis “you and me are gonna live forever”, he started his day , knowing his camera was back.

PS : for those who are unaware of the story of Lazarus, it comes from John 11:1-44,New Living Translation (NLT).

http://christianity.about.com/od/newtestamentpeople/a/JZ-Lazarus.htm

DSCF6571 (1).jpg

 

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