Welcome to my Personal Page.
This page is full of my personal rantings. So if you are absolutely sure you want to go through that torture, be my guest. If you are only interested in my research, please visit my Research page.
I am a simple guy with simple tastes. Leave me on an island, with an ample supply of good books, movies, and tv series, and I would feel like I'm at home. They give you food for thought, open up a plethora of possibilities, reveal how imaginative a human mind can be when it chooses to be so; and of course, they sometimes help you have vicarious satisfaction (hail Freud). I have some Narcissistic tendencies -- so I go on and present my viewpoints even if nobody cares to listen to them. So, here we go....
I am an avid reader. I primarily prefer fiction, Victorian novels being my favorites (I started with David Copperfield -- yeah, a strange choice for an early reader, but that has kind of left a soft spot in my heart for Dickensian novels). Fantasy takes the second spot. The Lord of the Rings would, of course, be my first pick any day, followed closely by The Hobbit, Harry Potter and Bartimaeus. Indian mythology also interests me a lot, especially the fantastic stories from Ramayan and Mahabharat (trying to dissect these mythos to logically ground them on the social and cultural rites of the time is one of the passtimes I like to indulge myself in). Thrillers and mysteries are more like quick fixes ... the exception being Sherlock Holmes stories, which I delve into in detail. Though I am very much into the mythos of superheroes, the thirst is more or less quenched by movies/ tv series. Hence my incompetence regarding graphic novels ('ve read only one - The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and really loved it) and comics (well, actually I'm a bit well off here, since I have read all the Asterix issues). Any way, for a better taste of my reading habits, you might be interested in checking out my Goodreads page.
As far as non-fiction is concerned, I primarily limit myself to philosophy and autobiographies. I absolutely adore Feynman (who doesn't), Ramanujan, Gandhi, Kalam and Randy Pausch. I would recommend 'Surely you are joking, Mr Feynman' and ET Bell's 'Men of Mathematics' (a close look into the life and works of all the great mathematicians in history, right from Archimedes and Zeno to Cantor and Poincare -- I read it in high-school, and when I came across works of Euler, Lagrange, Gauss, Riemann, whow, almost everybody in that book, during my college-life, they just looked like good-old pals) any day, to any one. Well, I can't claim that I have read a lot of essays, but as far as philosophy is concerned, Bertrand Russels 'Unpopular Essays' takes the lime light. So does his 'Problems of Philosophy'. For the skeptical and uninitiated, I would personally recommend Dennet Daniel's article "Where am I" (Brainstorms - Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology, Chapter 17), which makes you think from the first page itself (if your brain and body are at two different places, where exactly are you???).
Here's what I personally think are the prime differences between movies and books -- Firstly, the author of a book tries to create their own world, but the world is actually perceived the way the reader imagines it to be - the same description of Middle Earth can create absolutely contrdictory pictures of the fictional world in the mind of two individuals from different cultures or having varied life-experience. And of course, there's the individual imagination to account for. Movies, on the other hand, are a director's perogative. You bask in his/her imagination - sort of like sharing the same dream-space (vigilant readers might spot the Inception-talk). Every one of us gets to look at the same kind of houses or fortresses that abound Middle-Earth; we share the same visualization of Minas Tirith, envisioned by Peter Jackson (and his team) of course. I am sure any one who has read The Lord of The Rings before watching the movies would undoubtedly realize what I am talking about. Secondly, visual stimulus, just like any other physical stimuli, is much more potent than imagination - so that it sticks longer, even if it lasts for a short period of time. Imagine what movies do in 2-3 hours compared to what books accomplish with a thorough reading, which usually takes a few days. And finally, they are a little less involved, because they kind of eliminate the extra level of cognitive pre-processing, viz. the imagination part that is associated with reading books and trying to visualize what you are reading (I am, of course, not saying that movies present a lesser intellectual challenge -- anybody who doubts it might as well go and try to understand Inception or Mulholand Dr. or Donie Darko or 2001: A Space Odyssey in a single sitting).
Anyway, the ardent movie-watcher that I am, I enjoy almost all kinds of movies, starting right from silent movies of Charlie Chaplin to present-day blockbusters. Classics, like that of Hitchcock, interest me, especially the way they are able to grab your attention in spite of their black-&-white nature and archaic films (or is it 'especially for their...'). I would count Cameron, Scorsese, Tarantino, Lucas, Coen Brothers, Aronofsky as my ideal directors. Sci-fi entices me any day, with The Matrix leading the charge, followed closely by Spielberg's epics. Of the present day young directors, I am an absolute fan of Nolan, his The Dark Knight being one of my all-time favorites, followed closely by Inception (interested readers might want to check out a presentation I gave on Inception in my Arts course). The more the movie makes me think, the better it is. Browsing through IMDB pages to go through movie trivia and FAQs, thinking about alternate interpretations and going through others' views of the same is kind of a hobby I pet. Besides their pure entertainment value, the ideas they provide you with are just marvelous. For instance, look at the way Solyaris brought out the idea of how inadequate our communications with an alien life-form can be owing to a possible non-human psychie/intelligence. Or back home, look at the superheroes. A favorite pass time would be just to analyse the possibilities of X-Men's powers, if at all they are possible with slight changes in genes, and exactly how. These can spawn hours of discussion amongst one's peers and friends.
If movies are short-stories, TV series are the novels -- much more time for character developement, idea formulation and of course, the suspense. I started with Prison Break, a thriller, but then gradually moved towards dark humor and drama. Though I used to like comedies a while back, I only follow The Big Bang Theory now. Shows of BBC and HBO interest me a lot, be they historical dramas like Rome or Spartacus, or present day The Wire (I came to know it is the subject matter of some university arts-stream courses-- well, it's definitely worth it). I dig the Sci-fi genre, with X-files leading the list of my favourites. Of the running shows, Dexter in my opinion provides an interesting look into human psychie.
I love traveling. Visiting new places, discovering the nuances of their culture, and of course, basking in the glory of Mother Nature -- who wouldn't love that. Moving through the European cities is like being transported to the Medieval era, complete with gorgeous cathedrals and art-work. Check out a few of my and my friends' clicks from Paris, Berlin and Italy(Rome, Venice, Pisa), from Summer 2010. While cities have their own tales to tell, Mother Nature entices me in a completely different way. Just go and sit in Her lap, and enjoy the serene beauty -- a perfect set-up to forget all your worries and just give yourself up to a Higher power. Check out my feeble attempt at catching that beauty in a point-and-shoot cam. One might also go through the pics of a few wonderful beaches (Goa, Etretat, Bithoor) or the Parks.
Sometimes when I am overwhelmed with an urge, I tend to put down these experiences into words. Here's a short write-up on a rafting trip I had over the Summer of 2010. I must say, it was sort of my first adventure trip. I was not much into them, owing to my then bulging meat-suit I suppose, that was prone to accidents. A little effort that paid off in my loosing 20 kilos past, I had the greatest trekking experience of my life, amidst my Undergrad friends who had just completed their degrees and were heading out to 'meet the world'. Trekking for 50 kilometers, for 4 days, in the rough Himalayan terrain, amidst rain and a bit of hailstorm, to reach the Kafni glacier, to be cut-off from the rest of humanity (no cell-phone coverage), with friends that you will soon be missing out on -- now that's an experience of a lifetime. Check out the beautiful photos of the hill-side, and if you are more interested in a personal touch, go through my incomplete rantings in my blogspot.
I am not much of a sports person, but I consider myself fairly OK in tennis, swimming and cricket. Cricket was my favorite game (as is with every other Indian child), till I grew up. Then I concentrated more on playing it rather than watching it on TV. Swimming and Tennis, well I got into them in college, and soon discovered that I really loved both, to the extent that they have sort of become part and parcel of my daily routine. I am beginning to discover the addiction of football, volley ball being something that I am too enthusiastic about (to the utter chagrin of my play-mates who have to deal with my incompetence in that particular area).