Box, Happy 50th Birthday

containershipI think that globalization could as well be called “Americanization.” Too many components that go to make up the modern globalized world are labeled “Invented in America,” from the Internet to the shipping container. Chances are that you have not heard of Malcolm McLean. Yet, his innovation has profoundly shaped the globalized world we live in. A trucker by profession, his insight was that the truck trailer is a container that would reduce the cost of shipping. That was more than 50 years ago. Continue reading

Journey to Kanpur — Part 2

Gates of IITK

It takes nearly two hours by road to get from the Lucknow airport (Kanpur does not have an airport) to the IIT campus in Kalyanpur outside Kanpur city limits. The road is fairly good by Indian standards and just before entering Kanpur city, it crosses the wide expanse of the river Ganga.

It was just a little before midnight when the car turned towards the IIT main gate. I felt a sense of nostalgia and sadness.
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Journey to Kanpur — Part 1

There are places I remember all my life,
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain. . .

IIT Kanpur

In case you have been wondering about the break in blogging, wonder no more. I have been on the road. Last week, I was first in Mumbai and then I was in IIT Kanpur.

Visiting IIT Kanpur was a bittersweet experience. The place was at once both familiar and totally unfamiliar. The place had not changed all that much since I was a computer science student there a lifetime ago, but I had changed. What had changed was not in front of my eyes, but rather behind my eyes.

There were ghosts there as I wandered Hall V, where I lived. “Misty watercolor memories, for the way we were …”
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Shubho Nobo-borsho

Subho Nobo-borsho, as we say in Bengali, which is the greetings on the “Auspicious New Year” since today is the Bengali New Year!

New year, new resolve. What else to quote but Guru Robindranath Thakur’s (aka Robindranath Tagore) prayer from Gitanjali, a collection of song offerings:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Fragments – 10

Beautiful China

Via Myke’s Blog, these pictures of scenes from China are breathtakingly beautiful. This is a magical world that we live in.

Searching Tips

And talking about magic, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, as Arthur C Clarke has famously noted. To me the technology which powers Google search is magical. Almost all of the world’s information at the tip of a few keystrokes. Again, via Myke, I came across a bunch of tips on how to search more effectively on Google.

May your searches always end serendipitously.

E. F. Schumacher: “We must do what we conceive to be the right thing and not bother our heads or burden our souls with whether we will be successful. Because if we don’t do the right thing, we will be doing the wrong thing and we will just be a part of the disease and not a part of the cure.”

Thanks, Myke, for that beautiful quote.

Fragments – 9

Pippa’s Song

The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn
Morning’s at seven
The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d
The lark’s on the wing
The snail’s on the thorn
God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world!

Robert Browning (1812-1889) painted that beautiful word-picture. It has the quality of a haiku–sparse and based in the here and now. What I especially like is the “zooming in” that he does. The time of the year is the best — spring. Then it is day time, and not just any time of the day but it is at 7 in the morning. And what is going on at that time? All things are in their place and the world is perfect. It recalls to mind the insight that Siddhartha (in Hermann Hesse’s novel) communicates to his friend, “The world is perfect at every moment, Govinda.”