Thursday, September 13, 2012

The taste of India

I have been escaping into a parallel research topic, much against the intentions of the sane and organized part of my mind. I recently read a post on Pinterest that said, if you want to find out what you are really passionate about, look where your mind goes when it wanders. :)

Lately, my mind has been wandering away from the lab and away from academia, towards applications and concepts that are more people-centered. And that is why, perhaps, the obituary of  Dr. Verghese Kurien captured my mind. Abi blogged about it and I took off from there. Since I am post-docing at Michigan State now, I found a connection to the story. It is interesting to know that MSU did not have a dairy program back then.Now MSU's dairy and animal science course is regarded as one of the best in the US. By far, the best outcome of their research is the MSU dairy store that sells ice cream made entirely on campus. "Death by chocolate" is my favorite flavor. :)

In the course of my work on economic modeling for biorefineries, I have also realized how important a place India has in the near future when it comes to animal feed markets. And unlike the US, where most of this demand comes from cattle farming intended towards beef production, in India, almost all of the animal feed market is catering to the production of milk. India is the largest producer of milk in the world when you consider milk production by individual countries. I think the Amul story has a lot to do with this place we have today. 

This also led me to a beautiful film (Manthan) by Shyam Benegal. I had watched it before but this time, I had a new perspective. Any team of human beings, working in any area, be it arts or technology, always comes with a potential for negativity, exploitation, ego trips, discrimination, dissatisfaction, unethical conduct, corruption and misguided optimism. But when a team works so well, it is obvious that it is expressing the antonyms of all the above words in significantly larger quantities (in a hypothetical scenario where they could be quantified). And what the team expresses is a reflection of the person who leads it.

I will leave you with this and this. They always get me nostalgic. :)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Poetic detour

Raj's post about Vikram Seth's novel (A Suitable Boy) made me escape, to see my favorite Vikram Seth poems. Some of his poetry astonishes me every time I read it. Although it reads simple, it always unearths a complex, difficult-to-put-your-finger-on feeling.

Thanks to Poem Hunter, we can all read some of Seth's poems. 
But I cannot suppress the urge to copy-paste some of my all time favorites here.

1. Unclaimed
To make love with a stranger is the best.
There is no riddle and there is no test. --

To lie and love, not aching to make sense
Of this night in the mesh of reference.

To touch, unclaimed by fear of imminent day,
And understand, as only strangers may.

To feel the beat of foreign heart to heart
Preferring neither to prolong nor part.

To rest within the unknown arms and know
That this is all there is; that this is so.

Vikram Seth

2. Prandial Plaint

My love, I love your breasts, I love your nose.
I love your accent and I love your toes.
I am your slave. One word, and I obey.
But please don't slurp your morning brew that way.

Vikram Seth

3. Timezones

I willed my love to dream of me last night, that we might lie
at peace, if not beneath a single sheet, under one sky.
I dreamed of her but she could not alas humour my will;
it struck me suddenly that where she was was daylight still.

Vikram Seth

I am also amazed by the emotion that could have inspired  Round and Round.
It reads like Vikram Seth is trying to collect water droplets off a leaf. What touches me above all the simplicity in his poetry is the acceptance of  loneliness, with no long term solution or alternative. And he does not express it as a lament or a pain but simply as an everyday reality, sometimes even with a bit of humor.
Perhaps one of his better known (and widely read) verses is All You Who Sleep Tonight.

So a big hug to Raj for putting Seth back into my head. I just ordered  A Suitable Boy. :)