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Riding The “Waves” – Part 2

So continuing from last blog, I would like to elaborate more on Gravitational waves in this blog; what exactly are they? How useful this current discovery mean? How could they be pioneered to understand the universe? And why it took so long to physically detect them by LIGO?

So let’s start.

As explained previously that Gravitational waves are nothing but ripples in space-time fabric generated through some violent movements or explosions (Which considering the vast span of universe is norm, but to be able to evidence the same is not that common). Einstein has shown the same mathematically in 1916. Also it stated that these waves travel at light speed and carry significant information of the event which has given birth to the waves. These events could be anything like supernova death of star, colliding of black-holes, “brotherly hug” of neutron or white dwarf stars, wobbly rotation of binary stars and also gravitational radiation created by birth of universe itself.

In fact, in 1974, two astronomers working at Arecibo Radio Observatory had successfully observed the binary stars movements in accordance with Einstein’s theory and hence proof of the existence of Gravitational waves. More studies have also been made into successfully predicting similar effects, but all such proof were, in one sense, mathematical and more of an indirect evidences. Scientists around the world were keen on gaining “physical” proof.

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So what’s so important about detecting the waves? To understand the deep mysteries of the universe has always been captured the mankind’s attention since the evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens or may be even before that in whatever half-intelligent Genus we all belong to. More astrophysicists and astronomers explore and understand about universe on behalf of entire humankind, more unsolved mysteries are cropping up. As if span of the universe itself is not doubtful enough, scientists don’t have clear picture of the birth of universe also. Gravitational waves are not electro-magnetic radiation. They are in complete different league; whole new phenomena. They carry information which was not measurable before. They have tendency to travel without any interaction with matter and hence retaining the “purity” of the event. Hence it is becoming so much important to take it up the study of the waves to dive deeper into depths of unknown; in search of those brightly shining but hidden pearls of wisdom.

As per theory, any moving object is source of Gravitational waves; even on earth whether it’s ball pitched at high velocity by pitcher or bullet fired or spinning top or newspaper thrown in your verandah with ferocity of the daily boring job; practically everything. But as noted before, considering heavenly objects for which Einstein’s theory specialized for, numbers generated by this relativity equations via such miniscule objects are negligible. Waves are so weak that you can pretend that they are not present at all. And hence scientists all over the world had to rely on massive movements outside our world. Even those waves, while reaching to earth are faded out, needed very precise and efficient carefully built experimental instruments to measure them. One of them is LIGO which stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. You can find all the information related to LIGO and science behind the architecture at https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/ligo-gw-interferometer .

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So not going much detail into how exactly LIGO managed to detect gravitational waves after almost 100 years (It will require much detailed scientific setup of LIGO. Refer above given link & a picture), I would like to wrap up the blog with brief mentions of types of gravitational waves. Based on characteristic vibration signature waves are categorized as below:

  1. Continuous Gravitational Waves: It is generated by single spinning object, say Neutron star. They are mostly constant in their properties such as frequency and amplitude.
  2. Compact Binary Inspiral Gravitational Wave: As name suggests, these waves are created by binary stars. Actually it could be either binary Neutron stars or Binary black holes or mixed-doubles like Neutron star-Black hole. Whatever be the source, one fact is observed by scientists that due to losing energy with each spin, both spinning object come closer which again increases the gravity and spin; ultimately make them spiraling into each other with cataclysmic crash at climax.
  3. Stochastic Gravitational Waves: Frankly speaking these waves are nothing but same as your transistor radio tuned to no particular station but just emitting noise. But these noise here could be from the time when time started its existence i.e. Big Bang. They are small, random, ever-present and difficult to distinguish but most desirables.
  4. Burst Gravitational Waves: These waves are ghost. There is no model or signature to define them and hence no particular methodology. It’s like searching something but you cannot name what it is. They have utmost potential to reveal something which has always been “holy grail” of human conscience.

Further Reading reference:

https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/gravitational-waves

 

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Riding the “Waves”

Being predicted in 1916 as part of General Theory of Relativity by none other than “The one of a kind” brain, Einstein; it took more than a century by world scientist to physically detect Gravitational waves and remove the last hurdle for proposed Theory of Relativity. For all those whose lives burdened by day-to-day job commuting, daily manager tussles, data crunching and deadlines, family and social overabundant wants, whole universe of love interest and crush problems, EMIs and ever alluring investment plans to aid EMIs, drunken Sensex bobbing up and down or same sex decriminalization (for India); you all need to continue without expecting any change. Though space-time fabric and hence gravitational waves are effective enough to all celestial body and governing the universe, they don’t have any control over humankind’s daily chores. So please don’t expect something major of such (actually major) discovery of Gravitational Waves.

As any astrophysicist agree on the view that there is nothing more endearing than to excavate mysteries buried deep down the Universe’s vast, expansive blackness. It is Pandora’s Box. You will never know what you find next which is utterly bewildering and next to impossible if you are not wearing scientific goggles (Though Science manage to explain all these through well-defined rules and mathematical equations which is more superior than magic).

To explain the intricacies of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and importance of detection of Gravitational Waves is no small feat. I would suggest well-known books on the same (find few reference links at end). In short, Einstein was not completely “moved” by force presented as Newton’s laws when the same applied on much more larger scale as Universe. He was not convinced specifically by source of gravity which was assumed to be based on objects’ mass in classical physics. Einstein was keen on providing new model for objects which were much bigger as heavenly bodies in Universe. He took the base of Newton’s Laws and proposed General Theory of Relativity in 1916 (He has already proposed Special Theory of Relativity in 1905 fixing the limit for speed of any object i.e. speed of light).

In very simpler terms, theory assumes space as space-time fabric; kind of a stretchable fabric. Let’s conduct a thought experiment where four of your friends tightly held the each four corners of this square fabric so that it gives you smooth surface same as pool table without any table support (you can imagine corners held by anyone you like. It’s thought experiment, so take liberty:).  Now you rolled one solid snooker ball (in this case strip won’t also make any difference, take your pick) across to center. You can observe the “dint” created by ball. You can also observe that if ball travels across, it will carry this “dint” along with it. Now if you put leather ball of cricket or say baseball, you (along with your helpers if they are interested in science) notes that it will have bigger distortion. In the same manner, all universal bodies i.e. stars, planets, pulsars, asteroids, black-holes make impact on the space-time fabric. Only difference is that space-time fabric is 3-D covering entire object rather than 2-D as in our pool table analogy.

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Space-time fabric and “dints” created by space bodies

Also observe that as we done in our thought experiment, this wrap of space-time fabric travel along with heavenly body as in motion of earth around Sun. Bigger the object, more contorted the fabric is. And just because Sun is so large as compared to earth and other planets in our solar system that their “impacts” are relatively small compared to larger “impact” of Sun. This “impact” is nothing but gravity. And when such bodies collide or move or blast themselves off, than they transmit waves in the space-time fabric same as ripples at other end of swimming pool once that someone large has crashed down on your end. And this waves are nothing but gravitational waves which in turn travel at speed of light (So if Sun destroy itself by something mysterious, it’s gravitational waves will hit Earth after 8.5 minutes, at the same time when earth experience complete blackout).

Latest Gravitational waves detection has inspired this blog series which I will continue with few more articles on Gravitational waves and LIGO. And if it found footing than may want to took up with more of Einstein’s theory and Quantum Physics which in my view are the most magical understanding of the real world in terms of science.

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Last Thought: Newton’s laws of gravitation are not applicable at Universe level, but hold with accuracy as daily affair. Einstein’s theory is good for understanding universe but are cumbersome at taking into account at small level such as velocity of car, train etc. In general, Newton’s laws are nothing but adaptable view of Einstein’s theory. When you come down from Universe to earth, object’s mass could be considered for gravitational laws and hold correctly as per Newton’s laws.

Further References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_relativity

http://www.desy.de/user/projects/Physics/Administrivia/rel_booklist.html (Really impressive link to find the suitable GTR book)

(Final Note: I am big fan of science but not scientist. When Einstein could be humble enough to accept his “Biggest Folly”, I am just the small fleck in comparison. So any errors/deviations are liable to me and not Science.)

 

 

India in Space

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A picture speaks thousand words. So here it is. Most significant historical pic in terms of Indian space program which absolutely completely exudes the true Indian face of simplicity as well as temerity. It shows the transportation of sounding rocket in early days of Indian space ventures by ISRO. Truly magical moment of space flight on bicycle like that ever-remembered shot of movie E.T.

We had small exhibition last week organized by our IT organization where I work, in the name of ongoing scientific initiative. It was held by none other than the only one in India and one of the well-known commodity on International scale, ISRO: Indian Space Research Organization. And I took chance to make myself more familiar and researched with Indian space program which was achieving feat after another feat with utmost unbelievable success in recent history (And which was, as expected lauded less as compared to whatever recent Indian Cricket tour by media or covering other sensational news).

So I grab the opportunity along with recent successive launch of IRNSS-1E satellite launch to present here in this blog few tidbits about ISRO, history of Indian space-faring, future plans, little bit on science behind satellites and lovely chat with presenters in multiple parts.

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ISRO found its roots around 1969 when NASA was in process of launching Nil Armstrong to moon; with sole purpose of getting India to its feet and propelling to space. For country which was known for incessant neighboring conflicts, political turmoils, economic issues, agricultural dependency and as developing nation, it was bold move and vision by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai at the time. But no one could have imagined the height ISRO was going to achieve in span of 4 decades through competitive and inimitable intellect and hunger for success. It launched its first satellite “Aryabhata”; named after ancient Indian mathematician, with help of Russia then known as Soviet Union, in 1975.

By 1980, ISRO succeeded in launching orbital satellite “Rohini” with self-made launch vehicle SLV-3. And then after it was dream run for ISRO. Successful tests of new version of launch vehicles along with unavoidable failures considering such endeavor, had given ISRO the courage for Lunar Orbiter, Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. On 24 September, 2014, as Mars orbiter entered the Mars orbit, India had become first ever nation to achieve success in Mars mission on its first trial (No, not even NASA has done that). India was fourth such agency to do that and first in Asia (No, not even China has achieved this). Success rate of launching along with low budget has garnered so much news that at the time of writing, ISRO has 23 satellites launching mission in queue from other countries which also includes USA and France.

Future Plans: Next step for ISRO which lies in immediate future are GSLV Mk III launch vehicle for heavy satellites, Reusable launch vehicle in the likes of space shuttle, human spaceflight on its own and second lunar exploration mission. Interplanetary probes and solar spacecraft mission also in plan for long future.

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NASA has already established itself as pioneer of space missions. And if India has to reach such height in terms of space-faring than they need to adopt the same vision as USA and at some point other European countries. And that being provide ample rewards and appreciation of their talent pool. Give importance to scientific view and community. As everyone knows the story of rocket scientist Von Braun who was the inventor of V2 missiles in WW2 against allied nations and afterwards the prime brain in design of Saturn 5 rocket which launched with Apollo 11.

I was keen on discussing science of the various satellites and types but may be in next article. So ending the post with few stats regarding ISRO as on 26-Jan-2016.

Spacecraft missions till date: 75

Launch missions till date: 46

Foreign satellites: 51

For more: http://www.isro.org/

 

 

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While silky smooth, molten-gold liquid silently seeping through to circulatory system, enriching the palate and nose; I must confess that year 2015 “ended” on high note. With all the New Year resolutions in-check as usual, though not completely in influence of the single malt I was consuming; I decided to be adamant enough to stick to them at least for a while in year 2016. Of all the other resolutions, I am pretty much confident enough to complete the one: Reading Challenge 2016. Last year I set goal for single book per month which I successfully completed without much fuss and hence I am doubling the target in year of 2016 so that I must have 24 books completed by the end of year 2016.

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Thanks to the lovely reading-habit supporting site Goodreads, I am able to summarize very easily my reading journey in terms of numbers and statistics for year of 2015 which I am presenting as a blog. So here is the glimpse of year 2015 in Reading.

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Though as shown, longest book I read was J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I must say that I started reading it way back in 2005. After completing first two books (i.e. Part 1 of LotR), my mind deviated to other reading ventures. At the eve of release of first part of Hobbit Trilogy by Peter Jackson, I was intrigued again to return to middle earth and complete the entire LotR saga. So I started reading again from beginning in year 2014. So it happened that all the books of LotR had been completed in 2015, that year got the privilege to get the honor of having beautiful LotR. (And that’s why the massive page count)

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I can sense that I have very unpredictable and erratic reading pattern. 2015 was mix bag, containing all the varieties of fiction and genres; sci-fi, classic literature, historical fiction, crime, adventure, epic fantasy, modern graphic novels, superhero, noire….. To name the few. Though I missed out on non-fiction and my favorite Charles Dickens, I turn towards dependable (And Dickens’s friend) Wilkie Collins to satiate my literary appetite. Then there was also “Lord of the Flies” with other “Lord”.

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Book_list4“The Girl with All the Gifts” was most surprising and engaging read of the year competing hard and won marginally over “Hyperion”. I know that genres are totally different where former is novelty take on zombie apocalypse and the latter is hard-core sci-fi. But still “The Girl with All the Gifts” is that kind of read where once you started, you are compelled to finish it in a single swift go.

“The Terror” was my most anticipating read of the year. And it didn’t disappointed. Slow build, amazing characterization and great adventure mixed with unknown. It made me put Dan Simmons in the list of “Must Read Authors”.

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In terms of graphic novels, if you have anything with Alan Moore as writer then it is not fair competition to others. I started Swamp Thing saga and would like to continue in year 2016, but best part was “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. Wow…. How could I allowed myself to be away from such brilliant novel in Graphic medium?

In crime fiction, I am much obliged to give Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) a go.

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So that’s how 2015 ended, and now I’ll allow my mind to wander wildly, unpredictably and erratically in new Year to come up with something fresh and some classics to discuss about. Feedback/suggestions for New Year read are most welcome. Wish all my reader good Reading.

Reference Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2015/23689104

 

 

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Though numbers are not as much impressive as with lot other popular blogs, it’s kind of “wrap-up” feeling to year 2015 and hence I am publishing. Hope to be active more in upcoming year and wish my mind to churn out more for blogging community. Thanks to all my followers and visitors and to entire blogging community. Happy New Year.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 520 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Mumbai Comic Con 2015

One more checkbox is ticked off from the back of the game box titled “Real Life” where all the desires and dreams are listed out to make the “Life” worth “buying”. To attend expos which has “Comic” as their main subject was one of my desire; at east once in a lifetime. As planned out, I was proficient enough this time to attend my first-ever Comic Con held in Mumbai, India on 19-20 December 2015. And how was that, you may ask. I must admit, considering anticipation and excitement, saying that it was fun is gross understatement. It was blast. Though not as big and thundering as its western counterpart, but still noisy enough to notice with mouth wide open in utter amazement.

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Yes, that tiny happy fleck bursting with joy is me

Getting up at 4:00 in the morning and catching a cab for 3 hour drive to reach testosterone imbued highly energetic and insomniac city of Mumbai was refreshing enough to wear down all the lethargy and laziness of the early start. Reaching to venue well in advance of more than 3 hours has its own advantage of seeing volunteers and management completing the necessary activities before the fun begins. Amid handsome faces and beautiful hearts, Comic Con was guaranteed to be as exciting as expected even before it started. When it really started it was more than what I expected. While entering, I was no different than that ogling child jumping with joy and happiness at each new encounter along with us with it’s parents. There is no age of fandom; there is no age bar for Comic Con.

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Super Fan pass for both days has already sold out a month before.

Cos Play on high note, Announcements aired incessantly from various booths and mingling and adding to the cacophony of others, people pouring in from everywhere to get glance of the new on offer and takeaways, superhero quizzes and competitions getting the attention, large center stage accompanied with necessary technological advancements for latest release and special guest interviews, everyone trying to imitate superhero/villain belonging to both DC and Marvel, Plethora of “Jokers” (Most of Heath Ledger version) floating around, superb Indian sketch talent on display with send artist also pitching in, Pop culture dripping out from every nook and cranny; All fitting well to produce the ambience of new and different. It was courageous winning effort for Indian artists and all the publishers of Indian comics. It is not easy to find so true fandom and geekiness, all gathered and geared up among mass of billions until such events. It was special. Like belonging to brotherhood. Feeling is of absolutely satisfaction and joy that so many people are like you and you are not alone.

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If anyone need Medic due to high anticipation stress….
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Harley Quinn was getting popular with DC’s new 52 Suicide Squad comic series along with upcoming movie
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Best platform to display your sketching and drawing skills
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Unfortunately this was only for promotion and not for sale.

At last, I must also make special note on guest available at this year’s extravagant Comic Con. There were three international guest from Rob Denbleyker (Author: Cyanide and Happiness), Joe Harris and Gavin Aung Than (Zen pencils); Also special guest appearance by Sylvester Mccoy (Actor: Doctor Who and in The Hobbit as Radagast). Along with this there were many Indian artists to interact with such as Vivek Goel (Who’s amazing personal persuasion convinced me to buy entire “Aghori” series), Shamik Das Gupta, Abhijeet Kini, Saumin Patel, Reshmi Chandrashekhar, Leena Swamy and many more.

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Launch of new Indian title
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One of my friend has put up so genuine deranged look and style that if Nolan would have encountered him then he must have planned for Dark Knight 2
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Yaa…right. When exiting the Con, I was considerably lightweight with joy and of wallet.
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Resting out super villain personas for little refreshments.

Kiss of a Spectre

So it happened that country with renown visiting places called Ajanta-Ellora and Elephanta caves which were lauded as UN heritage sites; along with Khajuraho Temple, adorned with utmost beautiful depiction of human intimacy and nudity (male/female both) could well be considered as absolutely vulgar by Indian conservative government control bodies such as CBFC. This is just a small example. There is much more places and legacy in Indian culture; say “Kamasutra”, could also well be outright banned if these control body keeps doing the things which they are laughably known for.

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License to “proceed”

Why such rage and cry; you may ask. Recently, on the eve of release of the bond movie “Spectre” in India, Central Board of Film Certification, in short CBFC has decided that Bond is smooching too “long” (and without paying any respect to “Indian culture”) on screen. And hence, censored the scenes from movie along with few more “culture-spoiling” cuts. These brought along the painful memory of such incident which I already cried against few years back at release (actually not released) of movie “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo” (Again Daniel Craig, I think there is some debt to pay to Indian government by my all-time favorite Bond).

With already sarcastic and humorous backlash started by intellectual Indian Internet community with hashtag #sanskarijamesbond, there lies a very stark reality that nothing is moving in terms of Indian conservatism and hypocrisy. There must be controlled over such foolish decisions. There must be well-structured model in place against which such bodies has to measure their actions and not do the things on their own whims.

Though movies like “Spectre” has commercial aspect, movie can very well be still considered as art form. Artist must have all the freedom to express it as he/she deems fit. Such governing body must assure that they dole out appropriate rating system so as spectators have their expectations in place while going out for such movies. There is no point in giving a movie “Adult” rating and at the same time cutting out explicit contents (Actually funny thing is I am not sure if passionate and long kiss could be classified as explicit. I need to watch movie, unrated. Of course). Cuts must only be in place if contents have tendency to spark large scale unrest and turmoil due to particular sets of offenses.

Other foolish example:Every time I go for movie here in India, myself and other poor spectators like me are continuously bombarded with “No Smoking” campaigns. I can understand at start but every time one of the character on the screen is about to smoke, these so called control freaks use their “sixth-sense” and flash large “smoking kills” warning all over the place on screen (My mind turned this into little play: as soon as warning flashes on screen, I tried to guess which of the character is “cause” for such torture if there are multiple of them. And sometimes it’s hard to know who actually smoked which caused this warning as some faded out “back-in-the-farthest-corner-of-bar” character might have thought of smoking on screen and these foreteller having “superhuman power” knew and flash the warning before anything happen).

I am pretty much sure now that Smoking is that tenth circle which Dante forgot to mention.

Giving a funny bone a bit rest and considering consequences on serious note, India is nowadays becoming country of bans, censor, denial, protest, rules, laws, prevention and lot more. Necessity is there for rules and laws in formative way and in curing the justice system to reduce “beastly” rape mentalities, but not in such foolish, ridiculous and outright suppressive way. At one point, India churning out most sleazy and vulgar movies with item songs and all, while kisses of Bond not getting away; this itself shows farcical process and sarcastic slap to poor Indian spectators.

Closing with satirical incident: I was hanging out with myself one night in Swiss pub, probably first time such late in evening. Part of my feeble, shackled and conditioned “Indian” brain has blurted out the concern to beautiful bartender: “At what time this closes?”

“9, Sir”

“So early??!!”

“9 in the morning, Sir.” She replied with tender smile.

I still asked the same question here in India whenever I went to pubs and bars on weekends even though I know that it’s going to close at midnight or little after that. But here I earned the “responsible and respected customer” look. Same question. So opposite effects. Welcome to India.

 

Savour: Don’t rush…

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I would like to start with the incident which acted as fertilizer with enough nutrients to sprout the idea of such blog-post.

First of all, I fall in to that rare human species who defined by their avid reading habits. Why rare? As of now, I am able to meet people who read but to meet those individual who read in abundance and to read like “worm-hole”; scrunching everything which comes in the way and nothing escapes once fall within Schwarzschild radius, is rarity. Though reading is the habit which gradually grows with passing time, I have encountered something missing with fresh readers and initiates who are keen to start but restrained by some invisible mental force. So this post is for distributing the key to unlock metal restraints and get going in the wonderful world of books. But before that….

The Incident: so one fine evening one of my family’s acquaints came to visit us and I was taking out books which were on TBR list from long time. I was planning to take up something massive since I finished out with LOTR. I choose Bleak House from Charles Dickens to take the flame from LOTR, intended for marathon reading which would span over months. I can count myself as fast reader but still speed-run is not my cup of tea. Also usually, I chose to have at least 2 books in reading parallel; sometimes more. More than achievement, I would contribute such behavior to compulsion (Yes, you are allowed to say OCD).

So this person who was not much into reading had chance to observe the tome whose covers were elegantly flashing “Bleak House” in large Gothic black font (A lovely new edition which never looked as old classics generally looked). He took the book in one hand and surprised that there are species in this world who read such 700-page behemoth (may be surprised that you need to have proper forehand and biceps exercise to handle its weight during reading). And he raised the probable question which had acted as spark to ignite this blog.

“How could you able to read it? When will you complete? I can never do that in my lifetime.”

Let’s not consider the not-so-happening later events and tackle the question head on.

I believe that reading and in some other sense all other such luxurious habits have one common trait. Don’t rush them. They meant to be tackled with slow pace. Exactly like savoring the exquisite and rare wine which could never be mistreated with “rushed on” approach. Books, especially the large ones tend to be savored “sip-by-sip” chapter or few pages a day than think about finishing them. It’s this thought of “to complete something”, itself makes one put off the idea of getting into start and much worse persevere.

If the book is going to be good (or in other sense, you are good enough fitting reader for the book) than you don’t want book to end, vis-à-vis if you are not into much than however short the book is, you can only trudge and complain later. Don’t you think this same rule apply to lot other aspects of the life and sometimes the life itself ?

Now that I realized this write-up is getting into paradoxical state where I am divulging reading habits for not-so-avid-reader in “reading format” (If they are not reader why they bother to read your blog, Villpower. Rather they should right away start with some book). So I assume all those who going to read this are themselves avid readers which will bring the importance of the whole blog down to nil. So just take the humorous take-away and savor your reading.

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Basel Fastnach 2014

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Only justification I can think of about delaying a blog of most prolific and exuberant event I experienced during my stay in Basel, Switzerland last year is that I felt outwitted and too small to capture the essence in mere words. Even pictures presented here in blog is tip of the iceberg; not in terms of size but in terms of joyous mood it represents in massive ways. Anyhow it’s always difficult to capture the event whose soul is music.

Fasnacht is the spring carnival of music, oranges, flowers, bands and lots and lots of confetti. More than that, it’s event of year-long practice and preparations of various processions and bands. You will be amazed by witnessing the hand-crafted mask and costumes representing underlying theme. This theme is called Sujet. It could be based on current events, political or renounced figures or some global event presented in sarcastic manner.

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Fastnach2014 Basel, Switzerland
Music bands processions, costumes, masks, confetti and lots of fun
Music bands processions, costumes, masks, confetti and lots of fun
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Sujet based on current events

Various bands can be classified based on their instruments and play style and also their routes. Cliques play piccolo and Basler drums. Another brass band formation is called Gugge. Then there are Schnitzelbank singers with bard-like quality of singing away verses in satirical manner based on current events of Basel in Basel German. This three day celebration starts with 4:00 am Morgestraich; lantern procession showing various Sujet colorfully illuminated lanterns accompanied by Clique music play. With whole of old Basel drowned in darkness with lights turned off for Morgestraich, its sight to behold ( Though I lost opportunity to be present at Morgestraich due to night long excursions to nearby town of Liestal for fire parade followed by costume party and drank the hell out of myself )

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Apart from the city-wide fun and frolic mood intermingled with processions and bands, some of the typical European celebration rules makes Fastnach one of the unique celebration to attend to.

    • During Fastnach everyone will be addressed on first-name terms irrespective of class, age or race to alleviate the ambience of getting acquainted and making new friends.
    • Theme of the most of the Sujet represents political figure and events in satirical light which itself points towards tradition of freedom of speech. Though any foul or offensive language and compromising behavior cannot be tolerated and regulated well by authority.
    • Most of the mask wore by groups are crafted carefully by groups using papier mâché These head-mask are called Larve.
    • As the cost of costumes, band and music instruments bear by participants themselves, there is a tradition of supporting them financially through buying Fastnach badges. Every year a competition   held for artists to come up with badge designs. Winning design will be chosen for Fastnach badge by committee of Fastnach. Pinning a badge visibly has one more advantage of not becoming victim of confetti-shower from passing processions as being rude not to support the celebration in right mood.

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Though there is lot more still left to know about this one of a kind carnival, it’s best to experience and explore which is, I think, common rule to every carnival, celebration and place.

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In such tribute sections, I will try to pay homage to those transformative and impactful games, books, movies and other forms of media and/or events which has carved out special permanent niche in my life. As I lamented previously also that this doesn’t mean I am seeing myself standing at the gate of heaven (or hell, as per perspective); contemplating “happy” days of my life. But I think I had backed up by good more than 30 years shaping my life and I could clearly identify such homages which had influential impact to swerve it in positive or negative way. So in this write-up of influential homages I will take up Charles Dickens’s The Great Expectations. I refrain myself to praise it with adjectives as whatever majestic I conjure up, it always falls short in gauging the true literary span of Charles Dickens and his Great Expectations.

I must confess that initial start-up read of Dickens’s literary classic, Great Expectations was not engaging enough for me. I had never attempted Victorian story before, especially language. Being born and brought up in India, Victorian world was that unknown territory which was difficult to tread and explore. Though aware of the Dickens writing prowess, I was adamant to start but not sure from where and how. Due to this dilemma, Great expectation was subjected to such cruel mishandling like no other and put down time immemorial with few finished starting chapter. Though exhilarating, I had my fill from this cult classic within mere 80 to 100 pages of Pip’s journey.

Time was ripe when my life spiraled down and hit the lowest point. Career moving in positive direction and everything else in extreme opposite direction like two same charged particles reined free of strong force. Happy stories had no power left to amuse me and I was in dire need of something psychologically supportive. Dark and crime-fictions were too gloomy for me; dragging me more into the depth of gloominess. At last I picked up Great Expectations again as I thought it would be quite better to know the future of Pip. And I may find solace in his fictional happy life. Alas that was not the case.

I am really not sure how other readers have perceived Great Expectations but for me it was never story with soothing effect in right terms. Not doubting the flawless and extremely fledged out characterization specifically adapted for such story, Dickens strike exact cord in lot many places while expressing emotions; those little urges and desires which I had never believed till then could be expressed in mere words. It was soothing for me at least. Pip’s story became story of someone close whom I knew since childhood. All other characters are not mere portraits in the story but real characters full of various traits with which I could relate to. Though never I met such persons in reality, which itself proves exceptional writing prowess of Charles Dickens as author and how good he was at developing fictional character.

In short, Great Expectations is coming-of-age story of the boy called Pip towards becoming gentleman and hence in search of better life. Deep down, it’s tale of contradiction; hope and despair, amalgamation of relationships and lose, love and revenge, heartfelt and at the same time heart-broken, tragic and heart-warming. Its journey of having expectations and price you need to pay for achieving the same (Though Expectations in title taken in Victorian sense which means incurring large sum of money). And that’s where the core attraction of the book for me lies. Invaluable and priceless. I could go on forever but must restrict myself on treading into spoiler-zone for those unlucky ones who still had not developed taste of reading the classics.

I was so hooked by the end of the book to Dickens’s story-telling that I could only do justice by completing all of his work (still going on). Immediately Great expectations was placed to my “must-read” shelf. I still believe that book has power to reflect on reader’s emotional condition. Whatever be the state; exuberant or in turmoil, one can find what he wished for from Great Expectation while reading.

It also helped me hone my skill in reading Victorian literary classics. I had already laid my hand on Wilkie Collins and moving further. Victorian era has transformed writing in a way renaissance had done to art in Europe.

This might not be considered as review as it would be utterly improbable to review Mona Lisa when only skill you possess while drawing is to produce plain brush strokes. Nope. This is a love letter to Great expectations for mere being exists.

Great Expectations will forever be on my most influential list.