ARC

A little bit of everything


Month: June, 2006

War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds
A freak thunderstorm hit Cologne last Sunday and this is how it all began.

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The Fly

The Fly
This is a photo shot about a month back. I did not post this until now as I wasn’t very sure if it worked or not. You can say that I’ve changed my mind a little. Of course, it is not a perfect macro being as it was my first and only try so far of an insect macro. With hindsight, using a tripod and increasing the dof would have made the photo better imo.

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The Politics of Science

There was a lec-dem yesterday at the Centre for Drug Research Institute. CDRI is a premier government funded research institute for biomedical research located in Lucknow. CDRI is located in Chattar Manzil Palace, where the regal nawabs of Lucknow once lived the good life. It is a huge magnificent building. If Nehru called dams the “temples of modern India” then surely research institutes like CDRI would be the reigning deities of the nation; strech the analogy further and you could imagine scientists as the “priests of modern India.”

The striking irony: A product of scientific rationalism like CDRI located in a palace that was built for a pre-modern way of life.

The lec-dem was by a distnguished scientist from the National Physical Laboratory (another government lab) who had just returned from Antarctica. This gentleman is the coordinator of India’s Antarctica project and has visited the icy continent twice! The lec-dem was organised with a view to share his experiences about his journey. But the subtext was to also introduce the audience to the potential to exploit Antarctica’s resources. More on that later.

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Go Brazil Go!

Go Brazil Go!
I’m not a very big fan of the Brazilian football team. Not because they are bad, on the contrary the best moments of their football are sheer poetry. But it is a little boring to see them win year after year. And judging by the way they are are playing now they stand a very good chance of lifting the World Cup for a record sixth time. So here’s to (arguably) the best football team in the world today. Inspite of all I’ve said I hope they go all the way. Viva Brazil!

(I have no idea what happened on the lower right edge of the photo. I doubt it is vignetting. Any ideas?)

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Sadness of Distance

The smiles, they
Broke open
In my heart
Like blooming flowers

I wrapped them in
My love
And gave them
To the wind

To whisper in
Your ears
And dissolve the
Sadness of distance

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The Singer

The Singer
The FIFA World Cup is being shown in Cologn on huge screens in 3-4 fan zones. Before and between games there are various cultural shows from the various countries playing in the championship. This is from one such show at the fan zone next to the Dom.

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Sajitha

Sajitha
As some of you may have noticed Visual Obscurity was down for almost a day due to some error with the sql database. After a day spent in aimless frustration, I finally managed to overcome the problem now. So here is today’s photo without furthur ado.

This is a friend of a friend of a friend! I hope I got her name right. A bunch of us had gone to see the match between Germany and Sweden on a giant screen next to the Rhine. Although, we all got roasted in the (pretty hot) sun the match and the atmosphere were great! Today’s photo is from there. After processing the photo came out a little darker than I wanted but I kinda like the way it looks now, has a slightly oldish film feel to it.

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Double Blast

Double Blast
Nothing much to say here. This was taken in Heidelberg.

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The Great Appeasement

Reading a recent news report about the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu ordering officials to stop the screening of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in theaters makes me wonder if religious appeasement is not scaling new heights in India. Apparently, some Christian and other minority group’s religious sentiments are hurt by the film. This is strange considering that predominantly Catholic countries such as Italy, Brazil etc. have not banned the film. And even the Vatican did not call for a ban but has only asked Catholics to avoid the film. So I wonder if Christians in India have stronger feelings or do not agree with the Vatican over this issue? Or is it a perfect excuse to gain some political mileage by both the Catholic organizations and political parties rushing to please the former’s demands. After all, the book has been in print, has sold like hot cakes, and has been discussed to death for more than a year now. Why didn’t these people protest so strongly then?

I think these government orders set a dangerous precedent. Now the door is open for any group to demand a ban on anything based on the highly ambiguous argument that it hurts/offends their sentiments.

This also raises the issue of free expression. If we stifle dissenting views then how can new ideas arise? Whatever happened to freedom of speech enshrined in our constitution?

As I write this there have been fresh protests in Hyderabad by a Christian organization outside a movie theater, which was showing the film after a High Court judge quashed the government order banning the film, terming the order “as extravagant, arbitrary and wholly irrational.” Need I say more?

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Riding in a Cyclerickshaw

Cyclerickshaws are one of the modes of transport in Lucknow.

You can’t be very finicky about transport here because the public transportation system is so bad. Public buses were introduced a year ago and are still infrequent. There are no bus stops, so to board a bus you just wave your hand when you see one approaching and the driver stops just enough for you to hop in. Similarly to get off you yell at the driver to stop and jump off when he slows down.

Then there are the ‘vikrams’, basically motorised three wheelers that pack humans in like sardines. The Sumo SUV jeeps are even worse in this regard. You can barely breathe in one, let alone move. The stench of human sweat is nauseating.

There are ‘share’ autorickshaws, but these ply only on the major routes. So, despite personal misgivings and morals, you cannot afford to be too choosy about your transport. It is mix and match that gets you from point A to point B.

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