Tuesday, 26 March 2013


In the first six months, I don't really think time flew. I like that it didn't. I wanted it to be paced evenly, savour it and not let it rush me by. I have had to struggle through Deutsch, several attempts at getting the kitchen right (the pictures on the blog are obviously better attempts), lot of cross-cultural learning - away from the familiar. In the process I allowed myself to go through re-feeling perspectives and love.

I feel a lot more challenged. I increasingly meet people with vastly different outlooks that make me question mine. Not because I weren't sure of me, but in a more expansive, how well do I know myself manner. At times it does feel like crap. Living with family has an auto benefit (problem) that you don't need to be interesting or push yourself anymore. Also, Indian families never really allow for alone-ness. Far away from everyone, I feel starkly lonely at times. At times I feel guilty for not being near my parents and being able to help/ entertain. Then I talk to a friend, or go through my reasons of wanting a shift and feel lighter.

There's a lot of freedom. I choose to have the whole responsibility. All the freedom is also making me understand my boundaries. Sometimes I cross a few, and at other times, I refrain because I just like how it is.

Making cross-country-changes like these as a grown-up are far tougher but also more rewarding. The ability to appreciate things and people is far greater. And I have to admit overall, I like it. I sleep better. I wanted to save the magic, and replay, the first six months. Before, I start again.

PS: the video reads better on full screen oder Youtube

Friday, 22 March 2013

TheFirstSixMonths: #ifihadglass with Google

We were talking about success of Hi-Tech projects recently. Especially really innovative things that we've never used before, and thus there's always a chance that it may not work. Btw, it is estimated that 70% of the new things we use in 2018 have not been invented yet. Imagine! In the middle of it all, some smart guy asked if Google-Glass was a success. We all sighed it off, almost mocking his lack of knowledge on the fact that the product isn't even out yet. Two things happened: One I realised, actually I don't know far too many details on it either. Secondly, what brilliant marketing! As some are touting it to be something for which demand has been created pre the supply.

Interestingly, the Nightflier's also had stories about this new thing gaining interest. Handing over-

Sergey Brin demo-ed Project Glass during google I/O last year, it looked like another toy Google designed which would never see a consumer-centric campaign. But recently the #ifIhadglass campaign took off [so far 145K mentions, 5:1 sentiment ratio] I am fascinated by the sleek design and augmented technology features of Google Glass. Everyone is praising Google's design, even seeing the day when design will no longer be an Apple domain. The videos and initial tech reviews look very very cool.

Viele Fragen
Google says it is about augmenting technology in a way to fit into our existence to make us more "aware" of our surroundings. I for one cannot see how wearing a screen right in front of my eyes is going to make me more aware of passersby or bystanders or even my friends and family. If Google says glass is going to make you more aware of the surroundings by just letting us take pictures or videos and share them instantaneously or get directions without distracting ourselves then its just an adage to the smart phone where you would extend smartphone functionality to glass via bluetooth and not use your hands that often. Another pain point about Glass is the data or the connection. If you are in a tunnel or far away from cellular range, the glass would serve no purpose. But in a populated neighborhood say like SFO may be Glass is just the thing you need to keep your bearings straight.

Sci-Fi Future?
Behind all the doubts is the possibility that may be there is something fundamental about how we augment technology into real life/world that will change. Or it will open new dimensions. The possibilities are immense. Hence the excitement and fascination. Quora has interesting threads going on about how the UI design must work for such device. There are few interesting mock ups for possible future apps. #ifihadglass is revealing interesting answers from a consumer point of view. The most practical one till now has been how glass can be used inside operation theaters by doctors during surgeries and by hikers/trekkers who are in perilous situations and need instant support.
Another quora thread which explores possible glass applications is noteworthy. I would say the future shown in the sc-fi movies is here. If only they had this campaign in India!

See if for yourself!

PS: Immense stalking potential !

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

TheFirstSixMonths: Movie Review- Harud

...means Autumn. Just finished watching the film, and found it disturbing. Not because it shocked me. I am aware that missing people phenomena in the state is by and large a thing they live with. And I do not think people deserve to go through such experiences, even if, a few of them went about creating havoc. I feel people can be influenced into violence, only when there's something starkly wrong in the background. In this case it wasn't lack of education, but perhaps a deeper social nuance. Even if many decided to choose violence, many others suffered in the process- and not by choice.

Germany started the war, and as I heard someone say today, it boomeranged back and hit them with massive destruction post the war. Many people supported the party for the inflationary/ economic conditions it addressed and was able to run a campaign with. Some people fled the country. Some stayed. All suffered. But the politics and war aside, not every war victim, in any form, deserved to go through it.

This movie shocked me not by the content. Just by the mere knowledge that I choose to ignore it on a daily basis on most cases. Like the rest and the other side. I wish I had the objectivity for the problems we face in our worlds. I wish I could push myself enough to do something. Constructive. I wish I could slap the guy who wrote the Times of India review for the movie. Because, giving opinions in the backdrop of severe lack of knowledge and empathy is a listed crime.

Conflict tales are not easy to portray. Conflict changes who we are, and what we project into our worlds. Certainty and Superman are not what carries into the childhood. Understanding it requires challenging who you are as a person. Of course I'd imagine it's easier for people close to it to be able to showcase it. But that's also what makes it equally tough.

People who go missing leave a vacuum. The sort of loneliness you decide to live with. Till it numbs out. As if it never occurred. Not once truly filling up. Even with Rafiq's newly discovered old camera.

P.S. Chasing Tales, at the backdrop of the recently awarded national movie awards. Aamir Bashir is very very creative. I loved the songs in the backdrop also. I wish the muttersprache was used as the main language.

Monday, 11 March 2013

TheFirstSixMonths: Cannoli und Spinat in Deutschland

They seem to love Italian food here. A lot of fancy eating out places are Italian. Both the vegetarian girls are compulsive cookers (I wish I could stake claim to this word!). Cooking is much funner, and also satisfying thus, providing both Italian and vegetarian options to play with.

Spinach-cheese filled Cannoli 

Filling for Cannoli: Fry onions and a little garlic for flavour and add frozen Spinach (or the leaves post being boiled and mashed a little). Cook on a slow flame for 8-10 minutes. Take off from the stove and now add Quark to the Spinach. Mix well. Add grated Feta cheese (as much as you'd like, but it goes well with Spinach). Add salt, pepper, if needed, according to taste.

Sauce for Cannoli: Tomato puree cooked on a low flame with salt and pepper for taste. Can add other spices as per taste. We added basil and oregano.

Fill the Cannoli (we bought Cannoli btw) with the Spinach-cheese filling with a spoon and finger on the other end. Lay the Cannoli next to each other on a baking tray. On top add tomato sauce covering the Cannoli well. Pre-heat the oven. Add grated Parmesan cheese on top of the tomato sauce. Put in the oven for 20 minutes at 250C. Check once with a fork to see if the sauce has seeped in and the Cannoli is sufficiently soft after 20 minutes. Serve hot !

Really easy and tastes most yum! Most tempting to try again with different fillings!

Friday, 8 March 2013

TheFirstSixMonths: Post travel pictures

Every time I'm in a conference, I see more people carrying their iPads lifting them up for photos. While it might look strange when people do it to beautiful landscapes, it somehow fits the conference room slides. These then are tweeted immediately, and analysed in quick succession. In fact Instagram apart, the biggest reason people use mobile devices to click photos is the inherent shareability. I wonder why camera makers can't really create a good sharing/ software ecosystem on the camera itself. The Wi-Fi camera, the touch screen, the download software on the computer and edit, somehow just don't match up to the instant pleasure of Instagram (or others). Now, whether our lives become fuller because we're on these networks sharing incessantly is a divergent point.

And divergent-ly, I feel, constant sharing has brought out the voyeuristic urges in us. It doesn't necessarily mean something is missing from before. But we are able to check someone else's life out without having to call or meet which perhaps we're not even interested in. Makes it sound shallow, except that observing online images can also be inspiring. I know a thousand (and growing!) photography start-ups that came out of Facebook sharing to begin with. Over exposure can also be cured by mobile/ Internet free vacations. So well, all's not lost, yet.

Going back with or without sharing, I've always held a soft nook for the original Kodak paper-ed pictures. And at the back of my mind, the fact that one day I may print them- once I get to that project, makes me still take the Canon everywhere, and not rely singularly on the phone (I did that excessively with my Nokia N series I owned once for the mere convenience).

Convenience is still important, though I'm also increasingly finding favour with curating and savouring. Pictures that I choose to keep printed in hard-bound old fashioned books- for which by the way there are these fabulous online applications. These take pictures from anywhere- Dropbox, Facebook, Picassa, Your Computer, and put them the way you choose to in delicately designed books for keeps. Of course one does wish to get rid of preset templates and further design flexibility, but it's a start ! The best I still imagine is a black scrap book and typewriter fonts making it an art project. That life is.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

TheFirstSixMonths: Marukami's extensions- Fashionable literature

I'm often inclined to believe (and not alone in that) that Haruki Murakami blurs the distinction between dreams and reality. At times I re-read parts in books or passages just to marvel how anyone could describe things in such intricate living details. I picked my first Murakami book accidentally when I was 'dance' influenced. And it read 'dance, dance, dance'. Post that, one friend was going to Japan, and I politely indicated my interest in knowing if the Dolphin hotel really existed. I tried to do the same when I landed in Japan a couple years later. I'd probably still do that. And to think that I can't even read the original Japanese, aber a mere translation!

In a February end of year Werkschau, in the local (and famous) design school, I walked by a design which coincidentally quoted dance, dance, dance. It didn't take much for me to realise this was special. I reached out to the designer, who had the most interesting things to share. Here's more in conversation with Yumiko Nishibori, because talented people are inspirational :-)

Warning: Long post with pictures, but isn't editing beauty a listed crime?

Q TFSMWe noticed that you have a psychology background before studying design. We thought that was interesting. How does it help in the design process?
Yumiko: I'm still interested in Psychology and I like thinking about some issues in a psychological and philosophical way. But I haven't yet put any psychological issues into my design in purpose. I always try to think about my concept very deeply and in doing so it maybe helps me for I'm familiar to some psychological terms and phenomena.

Q TFSM:  How did the Murakami inspiration come about? How do you feel about your interpretation now after designing the line?
Yumiko: I have been reading Murakami since I was 14 and I've read his work ever since over and over again, but I never get bored. I discover hidden corners in his stories or I read the stories from a different point of view. No other novelist had influenced me so much than Murakami. So it was quite obvious that I chose Murakami as a part of my thesis. I  like the result very much. It's my personal interpretation of Murakami. So I was happy as many Murakami-readers liked my work. For me, it was the best compliment I could ever get. 
More- http://yumikonishibori.foliohd.com/

Q TFSM: How do you combine the cultural influences of Japan and German languages/ culture in your design?
Yumiko: I guess it happens automatically though I usually don't mean to put something Japanese in my design. In the past, I thought I'm more German than Japanese because I've grown up in Germany. But in the meantime I have been always linked to current Japanese culture such as music, TV-shows, Manga, etc. Besides, I had read Murakami only in Japanese before and as I tried to read his work in German (because I had to write my thesis in German) - I have to confess - it felt quite strange. I also notice that I'm thinking Japanese in some cases then switching to German, then to Japanese again, and so on. I guess I'm still very ambiguous in matters of my cultural identity. 

I would always wonder how artists would be so liberal, and creative and be able to use different mediums for expression. Just interacting with Yumiko and re-reading his thoughts made me realise, how beautiful it is to be able to extend interesting personal settings and influences into work and make the process and the output remarkable.
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