My Blog
21816
blog,paged,paged-2,stockholm-core-1.1,select-theme-ver-5.1.7,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded, vertical_menu_transparency vertical_menu_transparency_on,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.0.5,vc_responsive

To You

STRANGER! if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

23andMe RAW DNA Data

Today Hindu fundamentalists are redefining terms such as “Hindu”, “Hinduism”, and legitimizing violence in the name of ancestry, DNA tests can come to our aid and help us understand how are all linked to one another.  These tests also helps us understand the inbreeding that has taken place in our community in the name of caste.

As you can see, my father is 100% South Asian. The geographical spread of his DNA takes us as far as Afghanistan. My mother on the other end has inherited a tiny bit of DNA from East Asia, Yakut and American regions.  2.5% of my genes are from the neanderthals!

Ancestry Map of Sharada Prasad CS

Ancestry Map of Sharada Prasad CS

 

Neanderthal DNA composition of Sharada Prasad CS

Neanderthal DNA composition of Sharada Prasad CS

 

Ancestry Map of CK Srinivasa Murthy

Ancestry Map of CK Srinivasa Murthy

 

Ancestry Map of HR Savithri

Ancestry Map of HR Savithri

You can download my raw DNA data by clicking on this link. You can use the data either for research for judging me based on my genes 🙂

The Intersection

I am a podcast addict. I cannot do any house chores unless I am listening to an audio book or a podcast.

A couple of months ago I came across The Intersection. As their website puts it,

Every fortnight, The Intersection narrates stories that meld culture, science and history in India. Through interviews, anecdotes and original research, Padmaparna Ghosh and Samanth Subramanian bring alive the rich breadth of human imagination and knowledge, making for a riveting listening experience. The incessant punning — well, that’s just a bonus.

I have been listening to them regularly and started to like them. The podcasts are not long and the topics are very interesting. The first podcast about Bombay blood group is a good representation of how eclectic the podcast wants to be.

In India one cannot air news or any political debate over a private radio channel; only state can do so over the radio. This state monopoly is anti-democratic. Podcasts could change this. I hope there will be more podcasts in India, in vernacular languages, that will provide incisive analysis of Indian politics and society.

Why do people honk so much in India?

Yes, this is a question many people ask, including Indians. Over the last decade I have deeply thought about this confounding question and I think I have an answer.

India a country where the society vehemently controls and sometimes even rejects the strongest of the human instincts – sex. The society lacks the basic understanding that sex is a very human thing to have. If you come to think of it, without sex, there would be no humans around, but only cows in India.

Most people these days get to learn about sex through pornography. Hence the whole idea of bodies and expectations from sex is distorted. Not many people get to experience the intimacy in public – such as holding hands or kissing. Result – pent up sexual frustration.

You get better at a sport by playing it more often with different people. Same rule applies to sex. As the society is neither setup for dating nor divorces, most people probably don’t know how to have good sex. Result – pent up sexual frustration.

Just as the talk about sex, the actual act of sex in India is silent. How can one enjoy sex if we have to seal our lips because of the worry that our children, neighbors, or in-laws might hear us? The sonic suppression of sexual act coupled with the absence of orgasms push people to express their frustration through blaring honks on the road. Vatsayana is ashamed of us!

Suppressed orgasms have made India a violent country. They are the primary reason for the ever present road rage in India. Why else would one hit a fellow driver, without even starting a conversation, for a silly bumper dent?

According to my analysis, India is honking and yelling – “I AM HORNY!”

Next time when someone honks, please don’t be mad. Empathize and express your solidarity by smiling and honking back!

Is routine the killer?

Please watch the video before you read further.

The journey is inspiring. The video communicates the charm of the experience quite well. The take away message of the video is emphasized in multiple times – routine is the enemy of time and it has to be disrupted. For the life to be called “well lived”, the brain should be turned on, all the time. The way to turn the brain on is to travel, to provide the brain with an external stimulation. I have some concerns regarding such an approach to life.

Routine is life to many of us. Many people have jobs that don’t pay well to save and travel, many have families that they cannot leave and go. A well lived life need not be a life where one is well traveled.

I love motorcycles. But I also understand the importance of doing journeys on a bicycle. Certain places are so beautiful that the only way to experience the cultural and natural landscape is to take more time to immerse ourselves. Cycling provides a great opportunity to do so. But doing long trips on bicycle is not everyone’s cup of tea. I admire and appreciate Jedidiah Jenkins effort in doing the whole trip on a bicycle. But one should also remember that travel is a new industry heavily promoted by capitalistic forces. The video urges people to travel but it does not take into consideration the damage such a travel can do to the environment. Not everyone has the time and stamina to bicycle.

What I prefer instead is developing a sense of gratitude for all that I already have. The brain can be conditioned through meditation and other spiritual practices to be constantly alert and stimulated. The mind can be trained to imagine and experience good things. Below is the video I recommend

What can we learn from Pitcher plants?

Pitcher plants stay in one place but hunt moving creatures by their art of lethal attraction. Some of the pitcher plants consume small rodents, snakes, and insects in whole. But not all of the plants nitrogen needs are met by the food it consumes. Hence it has evolved to attract tree shrews and some species of bats to use pitcher plant as a toilet bowl. The plant does not feed on these creatures as it needs their poop, a great fertilizer.

Hope the plant inspires us to rethink about the nutrients present in our own excreta.

The memory game

Star Trail, Mexico

Star Trail, Mexico

Many of my friends brag about their children’s capability to identify cars from a distance. Some are such experts that they can name a car just by its engine sound. I am impressed. I am glad that children have developed such memory. Even I was fascinated by, if not obsessed with,  cars during my childhood days. The list of cars was small Ambassador, Maruti 800, Fiat, Premier Padmini, and Contessa Classic. Hence identifying them was not considered as a memory prowess. Also, there was no way for us get to know about cars other than those that were on the streets. There were no weekly magazines dedicated to cars, no internet, no huge billboards with insecure men standing next to huge cars, no car games on the computer or smartphones.

Even Srushti, my niece, will start identifying cars and we might all start bragging about it. Identifying soon become a norm and not a talent. What would be nice for children (and elders) is to identify plants and trees around them, and the stars above them. I walk past trees without knowing their names. They are there in the same place all the time, smiling at me, and greeting me with their shade. But I am this rude person who does not care to even know their names. I take them for granted. I have been walking under the starlit sky ever since my birth. But I can hardly identify any constellation. I don’t know the birds those chirping birds or names of the moths and butterflies that hover over the flowers in my garden.

Unless I get connected to the nature around me, I might not observe the changes in it. I easily recognize the sickness in a friend but not in stranger. Nature should no longer remain a stranger to me. I want to be re-introduced to it through Srushti. I hope the two of us will be able to develop stronger bonds with nature. I hope we both realize how diverse nature is and how boring man-made things can get.

Open Defecation – Government is the culprit

Delhi Metro is an ambitious project costing thousands of crores. Yesterday I walked out of IIT-Delhi hostel gate and saw a group of workers working behind the barricade of Delhi Metro, near the flyover. It was about 6:15pm. I walked to the group of workers who were getting out of a huge pit. A brief conversation with them revealed the following.

They are migratory workers (nothing new). They have been living right next to the work site in tents. Contractor provides only water and electricity but no toilet facility. They defecate behind the nearby shrubs ( which is at least 400-600 meters from the tents they live in). I observed that one of the workers was living with a woman and a year old child. I just could not imagine the hassle the woman has to go through.

I tried speaking to the contractor. His name is Sohanlal. He did not answer any of my questions stating that he is too tired and that I should visit him during the morning hours. When I asked him whether I can take a picture of the workers and their family, he said, “Why don’t you go and take pictures of other poor people? They are everywhere in this city”

Laursen and Toubro is the main implementing agency for Delhi Metro. It is accruing profits while the people who work for it are not getting access to basic sanitation. Last time when I was in Delhi, I saw a constriction work at the swimming people. Even the workers there did not have access to toilets and had to defecate in open. Government should stop its double standards. It should insist in all its contracts that basic sanitation be provided to all the workers working on any project funded by the government. Only when the government shows that kind of commitment can a country flourish. Superficial acts will not help.

Delhi is a reflection of affairs in this country – inequality, injustice, violence, rapes, poverty, drugs, prostitution, and religious politics. Delhi has to fix its own problems first before venturing to fix the problems of rest of the country.

Difference between UC-E17 and UC-E6 USB cables

My Fujifilm x100s, my earlier Nikon D7100, and my new Nikon D750 don’t have a micro or mini USB connectors on them. Hence one needs to use a special cable. While Fuji just calls it as an USB cable, Nikon has fancy names for these cables. The names of the USB cables that come with different camera models of Nikon also vary. For example, the cable that comes with Nikon D7100 is called UC-E17 while the one with D750 is called UC-E17. Is there any difference between the two? Apparently not. I used UC-E6 on D750 and UC-E17 on D7100. Both the camera has responded well. Even my Fuji x100s worked with both the cables. I did not find any links online that could explain the differences among the USB cables of Nikon (there is also an UC-E16!). I did not do any tests related transfer rates on any of the cameras. I am happy as long as I can transfer the files. So, if you’re looking for an extra cable to use with any of these cameras, just grab the one that is the cheapest ( UC-E17 /16 or 6) in your favourite online store.

Clock Reset Icon Mystery – Nikon D750

On day 1 of getting my new Nikon D750, I made several changes to the default factory settings. Several icons lit up on the back LCD screen when I pressed “Info” button.  But the presence of “Clock Reset” icon worried me. Even after 10 days, it just stayed there. According to the user manual, the icon should flash if there is any problem with the internal clock or internal clock battery. The internal clock battery charges within two days and lasts for three months. In my case, the icon just stayed there. It did not flash/blink. In the above pics, I am talking about the clock icon to the left of NR icon. It just stayed there. I changed the battery once, left the camera without any battery for two days, and the internal clock was not reset.

Clock reset Icon - D750

Clock reset Icon - D750

I posted queries on Amazon.com and flickr D750 club. The mystery was solved by Peter Hastings on Flickr. The icon appears when long exposure noise reduction is enabled. Disable that feature and the icon will disappear.

I wasn’t seeing the icon on mine but when I was trying to replicate your settings it appeared!

See what happens when you turn long exposure NR off!

I thought that it might be a software bug, but when I looked at the manual, the ‘clock not set’ icon on p15 is like a clock showing 9 o’clock, but the icon on p14 looks like a clock at 3 o’clock. And if you look at the top of p14 in the manual, the arrow under ’28’ points to between the two icons, not just at the letters ‘NR’, so I think that it’s intended that when you turn NR on, both icons should appear – the clock indicating long exposure.

I don’t know where the ‘clock not set’ icon flashes – presumably it isn’t allocated a spot on the ‘info’ page because you will probably never get it?

Peter