Thursday, December 31, 2015

So Long 2015!

New Year Resolutions (NYR) are for those indecisive baseless pots who forgot there was a year last year. So continuing our tradition from yesteryears, we instead focus on Last Year’s Accomplishments (LaYA). Together they make such a nice sonorous name: NYRLaYA (निर्लय), on which note we start with the beginning of time, beginning of 2015.

Jan – Frankly, just another month of another year. But the month starts with a partcular kind of excitement and hopes. 2015 was so for me as I got my resident visa in China. And for him, a visit to S. Korea participating in a winter school. We celebrated our Cotton anniversary with cotton candy in our hands and horrible winter rants. 

Busan in Jan

Feb – First hand experience of Chinese New Year: a year of Goat / Lamb / Ram / Sheep. I went to Taipei and we spent the long week enjoying the empty city. We made friends with the Domino’s pizza place to say the most.

CNY Celebrations in Feb   

Mar – I didn’t want to go to Taipei so often so we decided to meet at HKG Disneyland. That trip was an adventure in itself. Lots of work got done but time seemed scant in this month as I was getting used to the new country, trying to learn the new language, going around local places and trying to manage the everyday bread and butter. 

HKG Disneyland in Mar

Apr – We celebrated His birthday with a large cake and other bakery stuff. We did some touristy things in Taipei while he updated his MATLAB programs to new versions with resizeable GUIs and all that. Look at the relevant tabs above for details.

His B'day in Apr

May – Summer began and I continued to hop around Guangzhou exploring the city. Academically, His first paper of the year was put up on arXiv after a long delay. Others who heard them (He+3 collaborators) talk about it were more relieved than them I believe.

Watching artwork in May

Jun – A trip to Kuala Lumpur followed by a trip to India. We were exposed to a terrific weather and an equally terrific traffic in Bangalore where he attended Strings’15 Conference. One of his friends from Stony Brook, Marcos was attending the conference too and along with him, we took a trip to Hampi (read the trilogy here and peruse the album here). You should be able to read how the trip felt in Marcos’ own words someday on this blog. Till then, we move on to July.

Genting highlands in Jun

Jul – Good food, relaxation, meeting family & friends in Rajasthan is how July started and it ended up with lot of work at home and office.

Picture Perfect Peacock in Jul

Aug – While it was raining outside, I was making plans of learning and buying a piano. He went to Kyoto,  Japan for another workshop as you might remember.

Women in Yukatas in Aug

Sep – The third quarter is almost over (His one year in NTU too) and it was time for him to move to a new house. This house has 3 cafés just across the street and I wish he visits each one of them (which he is yet to do)!

A Café at NTU in Sep

Oct – A time for me to reflect back on memories, both sweet and sour, to look forward to festivals and more. I started learning Piano in this month and attended a Chinese wedding.

Chinese Wedding in Oct

Nov – I was working towards the end of year goals in office and my personal goal of learning the piano. I went for a Violin concert performed by school students. We took up a challenge to write 24 posts this year whose culmination you see today. He also attended many workshops this month, even travelling to Hsinchu for one.

Violin Concert in Nov

Dec – I grew old by a number, qualitatively every day but quantitatively on a specific day. I have been in Taipei for most of this month and we have been enjoying cakes every week because why not? Academically, He published 2 more papers on arXiv, one just today.

My B'day in Dec

Happy New Year, 2016!


Friday, December 25, 2015

Physics & Sketchbook

Symbols & Words

Wikipedian Definition

Objective & Subjective

Confusing Discussion

Science (⋯) & Art (Metaphors)

Kaku-esque Definition

3 images, 6(+2){+6} words to explain the idiom:

A picture is worth a thousand words

See you next week with our long-awaited and highly-anticipated (by whom?)

24th Post

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Search for Love

Last weekend, we were listening to songs sung by Arijit Singh on the Saavn app. I used to listen directly from the website before that. We came across a beautiful song never heard before, whose title read “Looking for love (मैं ढूंढने)”. The few Hindi lines of the song were amazing but the English lines (as if trying to translate them) were just the opposite. So we thought we would give it a go and have tried to translate those great lines. As usual, read the disclaimer in the relevant tab above!

मैं ढूंढने को ज़माने में जब वफ़ा निकला
पता चला के गलत लेके मैं पता निकला

Main dhoondhne ko zamaane mein jab vafa nikla
Pata chala ke galat leke main pata nikla

When I left in search for loyalty in the nation
It turned out I took wrong turns to my destination

मैं ढूंढने को उसके दिल में जो ख़ुदा निकला
पता चला के गलत लेके मैं पता निकला

Main dhoondhne ko uske dil mein jo khuda nikla
Pata chala ke galat leke main pata nikla

When I left in search for God almighty in her heart
It turned out I took wrong turns to reach my sweetheart

मैं ढूंढने को जो कभी जीने की वजाह निकला
पता चला के गलत लेके मैं पता निकला

Main dhoondhne ko jo kabhi jeene ki vajaah nikla
Pata chala ke galat leke main pata nikla

When I left for understanding the meaning of life
It turned out I took wrong turns to the school of life

And that is what love is all about…

While happiness is… Reading Sketchbook. Two new scanlated chapters of Sketchbook from Vol9 were released this week. Look at my favourite panels below.

Sketchbook_v09_ch129_110      Sketchbook_v09_ch129_111


And the world just looks like a better place with these people.

If you have any troubles understanding the above, comment on this post and you shall be laughed at. And then over the next few days, we may get around explaining them to you. The best part would be us laughing together, if you’re still around.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Error in Translation

I am not kidding… This is what the (Bing) Translator app showed on its live tile last week (3/12/15):

Get Off

What the actual hell? Who the hell… How the hell did this translation got through to unsuspecting users like me?

For those Hindi-illiterate readers out there, let me explain. The Hindi question shown above doesn’t mean the English question at all! Not in a million years textbooks! What it actually means is “Where do I get discounts/freedom...?” The correct translation to Hindi would be something like “मुझे उतरना कहाँ है?”

To make matters worse, if you enter the above English phrase (Where do I get off?) in the app itself or the website, the translation offered is much more horrible! It spits out this: “मैं कहाँ मिलता है?” which, to say the least, is not even grammatically correct! It literally translates to “Where is[sic] I got/found?” What the hell indeed!

Now, I can see some of you starting to take higher moral grounds and offering dishing out suggestions like, “Just Use Google”. To that I say, let’s give it a try and it gives a correct translation: “मैं कहां उतरूं?”!

To complete the story, let’s try the second half of the experiment:

Google: “Where do I get discounts?” → “मैं कहां से छूट मिलता है?”, which is bulls-hit.
Bing: “Where do I get discounts?” → “मैं छूट कहाँ मिलता है?”, which is slightly less so because it doesn’t add ‘से’, which makes the Google question ‘from where’ not just ‘where’!

But both are contextually and grammatically incorrect as they haven’t realized that the verb associated with ‘discount’ needs to be of a different form. They use all the ‘right’ words but eventually do not offer the correct translation, which is the phrase on the above photo: “मुझे छूट कहाँ (पर) मिलेगी?”. So the differences are:

मैं (I) → मुझे (~to Me)”;
मिलता है (wrong form of ‘get’) → मिलेगी (right form of ‘get’ for ‘discount’).

I see some of your twinkling smirks ready to suggest that Google is still better and to that I reply, I don’t care about any of these if they can’t even get the right verb-form which forms the basics of Hindi grammar.

Anyway, that’s too much knowledge sharing & ranting on my part so I leave you with an article about how are machine translations done.

Learning to Translate

Saturday, December 5, 2015

House Hunting

First things first. The answer to last time’s picture question is a ‘Vending Machine selling Books’ at Taipei’s High Speed Rail (HSR) station.

I’m going to complete my one year here in Guangzhou and my current house agreement is coming to an end. I never thought I had to change the house, well, in India, good tenants continue to stay forever. Literally forever! Sometimes for generations and the owners then have to pay an incentive to the tenants to make them vacate the house. Having come from such a background, I was amazed to hear my landlady informing me 1 month in advance that she would increase the rent by 10% and charge the brokerage fee again to renew the rental agreement. Wow! That came as a very unpleasant surprise.

As per my Indian standards, I considered the situation as an act of ‘Greed’. She hasn’t acknowledged my loyalty – keeping the house spic clean, paying the rent on time, keeping her well-informed of my vacations and other things. So, I set out, brave and unafraid of the world, trying to find a better place for myself. Two friends came to help (they are doing it till date!) and they have spent more hours than me trying to find the place. One-quarter of my friend’s phone book is filled with just the phone numbers of agents and landlords. I personally think that she has learnt the trick(s) of this trade and is now more than capable of starting a rental agency in Guangzhou.

I have learnt the hard way that ‘People in the housing industry are fake’. They quote lower rents on the websites to attract more phone calls. The pictures shown on the webpage and the actual place do not always match. A 2 bedroom place at a reasonable price should mean that someone is already living there but it’s not mentioned in the advertisement. When the landlord says, ‘I’m out of station and transfer a token advance money first’, it means the place exists only in a fictional world. When the agent tells you that he will show you 5 houses, most probably 3 out of 5 will be in the same building. Only in this world, can they have a washroom bang opposite to a kitchen, a kitchen set-up in an open balcony, a kitchen-cum-washroom. Reality strikes. I understand why my landlady thinks too high of her apartment.

I was reading an article a few weeks back on 10 things one should do if one likes travelling and one of the points was to live alone, live alone in a not so familiar country. I realize how I was taking so many things for granted back in India. I don’t know why they call India a poor country. I know there are those financial dimensions that they take into consideration. But I personally think an average person (middle class) lives much more comfortably there than in any other part of the world. Starting from the morning, we have a guy delivering milk to us everyday, a lady who comes to clean and dust our house, another one to cook, one more to wash our clothes and clean our utensils, a man delivering newspapers, a vendor coming to take our clothes for starch/ironing and then coming back to deliver it, come evening the same guy delivers milk again and a watchman blows his whistle throughout the night and stays up along with the stray dogs on the street to safeguard and protect us. I wonder how many people in the developed countries enjoy this kind of a luxury (ignoring the fact whether we really need it or not). It’s time people who enjoy these privileges start appreciating what they are receiving and respecting the people who put in a lot of effort to make it happen for them.

On that note, Enjoy Winters!

Swan on Coffee