For quite some time now, I see that a lot of people in my feed on facebook have taken to the idea of ‘#throwback’. In fact, Facebook has also picked up the trend and has enabled users to relive memories of ‘This day that year’.

We all have definitely acknowledged the fact that facebook lets us express our emotions without the awkwardness of having to be present physically to convey them. Yet, I find it increasingly annoying when I see my feed filled with #throwback posts. I am left wondering about the relevance of these posts. I find it puzzling when I see photos of people taken less than a year ago, reappearing on facebook, accompanied with all possible tags that the person could think of-  #psenti#throwback#missingyou#besties#nostalgic. On most occasions, my first reaction is ‘ Why don’t you just pick up your phone and give a call to the person you are referring to/ missing so much?‘. In fact, I am pretty sure that the people in question are all the time talking to each other over messenger or WhatsApp. Then why on earth do they have to let the world know how much 50 different people mean to them on 50 different days? It’s not as though we are all 60 years old and are reliving memories of our childhood.

There may be several possible motivations for people to indulge in this kind of nostalgia. The first one, though it seems highly unlikely to me, is that there is an overwhelmingly emotional incident associated with the event/photo. The users simply cannot continue to other pursuits without pouring it out to their facebook audience. Second, we as facebook users demand such posts to compensate the lack of topics for our idle conversations. In which case, such statuses are totally justified on the grounds of supply being moderated by demand. Third, the user is compelled to increase his/her social activity quotient (measured in my opinion by the ‘likes’ on a post/photo) or to show-off that he/she is a social celebrity on facebook.

As a general rant, we should all realize that while facebook is a really good thing, there is an added responsibility on every one of us to curtail the amount of time spent on it. While I understand that social networking is tied to arguments like ‘Freedom of Speech and Action’ blah-blah, our choices are accountable only to the conscience. Therefore, if we withdraw ourselves to the self-introspection mode and realize that it is the second and/or the third reason mentioned above that motivates us to use Facebook, then we really ought to re-think our priorities in life. It may not do good to our budding dreams and aspirations to spend our time on useless pursuits.

I am really curious to know if there are people who would agree with me on this. Otherwise, I may have to digest the accusation of being emotionless that people throw at me all the time.

By the way, if you thought that I was jobless when I wrote this, I would say you are justified in your opinion!!!  😉

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What carnatic music means to me

Posted: August 13, 2015 in Music
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The thunderous applause that M.S Subbulakshmi received at the end of ‘Maitreem Bhajata’ song at the UN General Assembly hall is in many ways a proof of the fact that music knows no boundaries of language and culture.

I have grown up in a traditional Tamil household where the Venkateshwara Suprabhatam resonates with the morning rays of the sun, a cup of filter coffee (Bournvita for a kid :P). As a kid, I was never particularly interested in classical music that would keep playing on the music system. I went to music classes just because every other kid in my neighbourhood did and because my mother insisted that I learn to sing.

So, even though I was exposed to Carnatic music at a very early age, I was never really influenced by it and neither was I particularly interested in other genres.

However, as I grew up, I became particularly fond of listening to MS Subbulakshmi’s songs. Her songs carried a lot of ‘Bhakti’ and ‘Bhava’ (devotion and emotion) and left me mesmerised even hours after I would stop listening to her music. To me, her soulful rendition was a proof of her devotion and attachment towards the art. Hence, the legend MS Subbulakshmi’s songs paved the way for what Carnatic music means to me today.

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It has been nearly two months since I came back from a 9-day tour to Israel and Istanbul. It all started when the Nanoplasmonics group at BITS Pilani Hyderabad (that’s what we like to call ourselves :P) got to know about the International Conference on Surface Plasmon Photonics (SPP7)  that was to be held in Jerusalem from 31st May to 5th June 2015. In mid-Septemeber 2014, Prof. Kannan Ramaswamy set us the target of sending an abstract to the conference. The deadline was December 21st, 2014. Though we started sluggishly on the problem, we were constantly motivated by Kannan sir and we had an interesting scientific story with us just in time to send it to the conference. The notifications for selection to the conference was to be announced on February 10th. The D-day came and went. No intimation. One complete week had passed by and yet there was no notification from the organizers. And then on February 17th, 2015, I remember it distinctly… I had entered the mess for dinner.. On one hand I had the plate and was loading food onto it with the other… The mobile rang.. It was Kannan sir’s call…. As soon as I picked it up.. These were the exact words he told me “Sruthi, get ready to go to Israel”… Though I was waiting to hear this for the past two months, these words left me speechless… My first international conference.. We were selected for the poster session. The conference, held once in two years is a congregation of  the biggest people in the field of photonics and plasmonics. The very people whom we had looked up as celebrities in the scientific world would be attending the conference and giving talks.

Between February and April, time flew. Tests came and went, registrations were done, flight tickets booked, accommodation arranged, poster prepared and visas obtained (we did have trouble with that, thanks to Mohana ma’am’s continuous follow up with the embassy, we could get it just in time). As soon as the compres were out of our way and as the departure date came closer, excitement was building up exponentially. Read the rest of this entry »