We are playing with fire
Speaking the truth like a liar
And then there is less water
Yet, people are drowning
Deep inside their plastic lives
Like husbands married to indifferent wives
The fire is wild and is raging
With neither a fire extinguisher
Nor a smiling well wisher in sight
We are playing with fire
In the darkness of the night.
We are playing with fire
In 1483, Leonardo Da Vinci’s sketch of the ‘Aerial Screw’ or ‘Gyroscope’ showed the world how a basic helicopter can look like. That was enough inspiration for aviation to thrive over the years. Aerospace technology has risen to heights way beyond a naked eye’s reach. Today, NASA’s Robonaut 2 can perform telemedicine to administer care to astronauts flying aboard the International Space Station. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well, it’s time to drop your jaw. How about someone tells you that a group of tiny robots can fly and create music at the same time in ways never seen before? Yes, you heard it right. Create music.
Two graduates, Alex Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger, from The University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception) lab have ingeniously pushed the limits of experimental robotics with the launch of their company KMel Robotics. Experts in hardware design and high-performance, the duo present a team of flying robots that may well be the future of surveillance, search, rescue and warfare, but their design can also perform live music that is rhythmic and fascinating.
Quadrotors, as they are called, are quite capable of agile flight. They can navigate pretty easily in environments with obstacles, comfortably turning fiction into fact. But who would have believed these nano quadrotors would one day even tap on instruments to play songs.
The hexrotors create music like playing a single string guitar hooked up to an electric guitar amp, and drums are hit with precision using a deconstructed piano action. Well, all one can say is that these tiny robots are programmed to do big things. It is an amalgam of aviation and creativity, like never before. Alex and Daniel’s modernization is indeed music to our ears.
Watch the video to enjoy breathtaking live music.
It’s undoubtedly the biggest clash of the tournament – India versus Pakistan. Whenever these two teams come head to head in a World Cup game, people around the world watch with bated breath. On 15th February, 2015, the two heavyweights will lock horns once again in South Australia’s picturesque Adelaide Oval in a day/night fixture starting at 2pm local time. And if the stadium fills up to its full capacity, more than 50,000 people would be screaming for their favourite players and team.
Pakistan has somehow never managed to beat India in a World Cup game. The Men in Blue, however, have always lifted their game to a whole new level after beating their arch rivals in World Cup matches. Both the teams will kick start their World Cup campaign with this match, so there would be immense pressure on the players of each team to start this huge campaign on a winning note. And let’s not forget, Pakistan won their first World Cup final in Australia/New Zealand.
The Adelaide Oval’s pitch, it is said, has always been a true pitch; good for batting, but at the same time providing a lot of assistance to the fast bowlers with respect to the bounce and some lateral movement as well. It would be a great contest as India always carries a strong batting line-up in big tournaments, whereas, Pakistan always seems to have a bowling battalion. The green team would definitely miss their ace bowler, Saeed Ajmal, who is out of the tournament due to a suspect bowling action. Mohmad Hafeez, who was included in the team won’t be able to play either because of an untimely injury. With Pakistan’s top batsman out, the openers would certainly feel some serious pressure to provide a good start, and with the spin attack weakened by ICC’s decisions, the likes of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and M.S. Dhoni would certainly like to exploit the middle overs when India will bat.
This is one match every cricket fan around the world is waiting to watch. Pakistan would certainly love to break the jinx and win their first ever World Cup match against India. India, well, they would be pleased if their winning streak continues against Pakistan in World Cups. History awaits.
All of us know Banksy, though very few people have actually seen him. In fact, for quite a while nobody did. So, anyway! I saw a video the other day. It was about how social media has drastically changed us, and how it has made us indifferent to the world around us, that also includes our loved ones.
This new graffiti by Banksy says it all. I don’t want to get into the factual numbers, but couples are indeed immersed in love these days, not particularly with each other or with someone else. Mostly with their smartphones. Pretentious love is the order of the day for quite a lot of people in love. Smartphones seem to grab our eyeballs more often than the number of times we even breathe. There have been cases lately of couples applying for divorce because one of them is more interested in his/her tweet talks rather than being attentive to the sweet talks of his/her spouse. Couples are more worried about their phone’s capacitive touchscreen, and less about the caress around the narrow waist or on the broad shoulder.
The stretched horizon, the wide sky, the huge mountains, the tall trees; all of this has become smaller as compared to the 10 inch of swipe-fun. We just refuse to look up, some even while crossing the roads (God help them!). In that video the narrator happens to say, “Smart phones, dumb people!” Now, ain’t that true? It was an eyeopener of sorts, even for me.
Technology is awesome, it really is. If we need to blame anyone for our disconnection with the world around us, we have to blame ourselves. People around us are great GPS, if only we ask them. A diary is more fun to pen down our thoughts, if only we had one. How much joy can a Joystick provide! Field games is the real deal. Water is the best energy drink, don’t you think? Google isn’t the decision maker, you are. Google’s just a searching tool, it’s us who needs to find our next step. I can on and on about how we have drifted way away from our tracks. The point is, we have kind of swept the basics under the carpet, folded the carpet and dumped it somewhere in the basement. It’s that bad. I wonder how many written letters are sent these days. If you want to win a woman’s heart, write a letter, no matter how stupid it sounds when she reads it. A letter is the best known Emoji. Humanity is just in its primitive stage, we all know that, but the road most of us have chosen to go further and fast is actually putting us on a path that leads to a dead end, and we just might smash the wall badly when we get there. I hope we realize that soon, sooner the better. It’s not always about the APPlication, is it?
There is a line from a Bob Dylan’s song `IT’S ALRIGHT, MA` and it goes, “…he not busy being born is busy dying.” This is by far my favourite quote, as it keeps me on my toes all the time. Bob Dylan would clearly have something else in his mind, but apparently the meaning is pretty straightforward. What drives us the most is the one thing that we should stick to and pursue in a way till we get a call from the Chief from above. This is what I have learned from the quote. It’s all about feeling alive, isn’t it? Whatever you do, wherever you go, whoever you meet, if you are not feeling reborn everyday, what’s the point of getting up anyway! The quote makes its way in everything I do that I like. It sneaks in while I am driving on my favourite roads, when I am travelling and exploring new places, when I am editing videos I have shot alone or with a friend, when I am writing (even these lines); the quote seems to be there all the time, like a strange ghost that scares you when it’s actually not around.
Bob Dylan has been a great influence on me. His exceptional work has been an inspiration to millions, me very much included. The man even seems extraterrestrial at times considering the number of great songs he has given us. All said and done, the quote will live on inside of me. It has to, I have to be busy being born.
Pushing science and logic to its limit, I dare
Or perhaps beyond the boundaries of acceptance
I bend the rules and bend my hair
I stretch the levels of people’s tolerance
I feel like a metaphor when I am defined
I just look the other way when I’m spoken of
Very few take me seriously, but I don’t mind
I really don’t lend an ear to all that stuff
Psychedelic me, what people don’t see
Psychedelic me, oh just let me be
It annoys them when their theories are defied
All of their black and white, colourless theories
I’ve died to earn all these colours, I’ve cried
I don’t need a theory to tell my stories
I keep my mouth closed and heart open
Some say and believe that I’m an introvert
Truth is, I refuse to speak to each and everyone
I conceal a lot, that way I am quite stubborn
Psychedelic me, what people don’t see
Psychedelic me, oh just let me be
There I was, standing on the pavement, right above the muddy waves that lashed the high wall of The Gateway of India. It’s indeed a rejuvenating place to be at, especially in the evening when calmness fills the air and you get more than a minute or two to think about the day that has already gone by. The sea was calm, too. The large ships weren’t looking large enough, as they were far off almost sitting on the edge of the horizon. The grey mountains stood still, looking over the entire stretch. Sailboats and yachts were floating cohesively. It was picturesque. And in one small, modest corner, a cluster of boats floated with joy, all tied together with ropes. Like kids in kindergarten, they jumped on the waves and lost balance on a few occasions. They also did look weary somehow. Their relationship with the sea might be that of an old couple in their eighties. Whatever their age, they seemed young at heart. The cluster was beautiful and unforgettable. Transfixed, I kept on staring at the blue, white and yellow colours those boats exhibited. I am scared of water, as I didn’t give too much attention to swimming. But, looking at those boats move gently on the surface of the water did not scare me one bit. I wish to revisit that place some day soon, perhaps just to see those boats float with joy.
We all love national parks. I feel animals are better off in the open than in a confined environment. So, a zoo is not a place I particularly enjoy. National parks, oh yes!
In January, 2014, me and my wife had been to the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India. Since we had opted for the morning shift, we had to be up very early. We were expected to be all set by 6am and wait in Hotel main lobby. An open SUV would then take us into the National Park. It was freezing cold. In spite of putting on jackets over our usual clothes, we also had to be wrapped around in blankets, which were provided by our guide. We also had an Australian family accompanying us in the car. They were quiet, equipped with nice professional DSLR cameras, and very much interested in spotting some animals rather than doing some unnecessary chit-chat.
The interior of this sanctuary is just unbelievable. We felt we were at the perfect place to enjoy the early hours of the morning. The fog that lay low on the yellow grass, the rays of light seeping through the gaps of the leaves, and the grey mountains in the background made the setting breathtaking. It was something that has etched in our memories and will probably stay there forever.
To be really honest, we couldn’t see many animals. In winter, animals prefer to stay in their respective abodes. Summer is when they become more thirsty, and that forces them to leave their homes and come near streams to quench their thirst. So, the chances of spotting a tiger were indeed very slim. But, there is a dense family of deer that you can easily spot any time of the year in Rnathambore National Park.
In the above click, the early morning sun rays are falling directly on a spotted deer’s face. It was an absolute joy to watch, and the chill in the air made the experience even more exciting. We did see other animals, some vultures atop some trees, and fresh footprints of a tiger, which the guide said, “Sorry guys, you probably missed the tiger by 10 minutes or so.” Yes, it sounded disappointing, but that’s how it is in a national park. You just need to be lucky.
We were lucky to have seen such a wonderful morning we never get to living in a city. Ranthambore National Park made our day, and since it was the first part of Rajasthan me and my wife were visiting, it made the next 10 days of our tour even more curious and exciting.
I recommend this national park, even though we couldn’t see much wildlife. One needs to spot the perfect time of the year to spot more and more animals. A tiger sighting would perhaps be the icing on the cake. Rajasthan is beautiful, and so is this sanctuary.
The three pictures below illustrate the interior of ‘Chaityagrigha’, where Chaitya is a Buddhist shrine including a stupa (semi-hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics) and Griha means a prayer hall that houses a stupa. It was a humbling experience to visit these caves. History tells us they were excavated way back in the early 1st Millennium AD, and they have stood the test of time.
The interior of the main cave measures 45 metres in length and 14 metres in height. The curved wooden ribs and longitudinal rafters above look quite magnificent. Their dominant presence and the grandiose architecture takes you back in history as soon as you enter.
The sculptures of men and women, and even that of animals such as lions and elephants feature on the tall pillars. The work is so intricate, it immediately makes you calculate the amount of time it must have taken for the sculptors to carve all of this from a single rock. It’s just unbelievable.
The stupa is the icing on the cake, really. This semi-hemispherical structure is so striking, one would want to sit in front of it and gaze at its wonderful curves and cuts for a while. One can actually go behind it and come out from the other side. Being an object of worship, locals and even tourists go behind it to pray. And when a baby shouts, its voice echoes in the cave, bouncing off the sculptures of those men and women, giving us the impression they have gotten into some vague conversation with each other.
Karla Caves are now protected as a National Monument. It’s a great example of Buddhist style of architecture, and one of the most famous centres of early rock-cut architecture. Do not miss to visit these jaw-dropping ancient caves if you are in Lonavala/Khandala in Maharashtra, India.