Flying South for the Winter
Last year I made the most insane road trip across the United States. From Lake Michigan to the Pacific. This time I am making a much saner trip to the Augusta, GA. It will be insane in some other way. My cousins and me driving my aunt and uncle crazy.
Looking forward to some clear skies and sunshine. I must remember to take my shorts.

From the Bubble of American Supremacy | George Soros: "Bubbles do not grow out of thin air. They have a basis in reality—but reality as distorted by a misconception. Under normal conditions misconceptions are self-correcting, and the markets tend toward some kind of equilibrium. Occasionally, a misconception is reinforced by a trend prevailing in reality, and that is when a boom-bust process gets under way. Eventually the gap between reality and its false interpretation becomes unsustainable, and the bubble bursts.

Exactly when the boom-bust process enters far-from-equilibrium territory can be established only in retrospect. During the self-reinforcing phase participants are under the spell of the prevailing bias. Events seem to confirm their beliefs, strengthening their misconceptions. This widens the gap and sets the stage for a moment of truth and an eventual reversal. When that reversal comes, it is liable to have devastating consequences. This course of events seems to have an inexorable quality, but a boom-bust process can be aborted at any stage, and the adverse effects can be reduced or avoided altogether. Few bubbles reach the extremes of the information-technology boom that ended in 2000. The sooner the process is aborted, the better."

Rivera's Murals
The Art Institute of Chicago does not play fair. After having been there not many museums can match up. The Detroit Institute of Art, though no exception has its highlights though. The DIA was under renovation and we could not see the famous Van Gogh - "Self portrait with Sun-Hat". The museum interestingly is organised thematically rather than chronologically which makes it interesting to see three-four hundreds years of painters at one time and their take on the same subject. The Seurat that they had was neither the size nor of the grandeur of AI's Evening on the Grand La Jatte but still pointilism still fascinates. You can look a hundred times and its still fascinating.
The whole trip was made worthwhile just by the Rivera Mural Commissed in 1932 by Ford and is a tribure to the auto industry. It is impossible to appreciate the whole thing at one go. It covers four huge walls. It consists of a main picture and then sub-panels. Each having a specific purpose to the theme. It was more like listening to a four movement symphony. In this case the movements having a much more tighter thematic structure. Its is about racial equality, the relation of industry and nature. The various industries are depicted and industry as depicted as a growing foetus from the womb of
Mother Earth. He merges Edison and Henry Ford as a manager in one panel. He and Frida spent a month photographing the Detroit plant before he spent about eight months finishing what he considered as one of his finest works.

Dodging Bullets in Downtown Detroit
It had to be my great idea to have lunch at the Mexican Town in Detroit, it took us one hour to get to a place which technically is 5 minutes away. Thanks to the people. The people who were not around in this 'ghost town'. I can give some benefit of doubt to the fact that it was a Sunday and it was cold outside, so not likely to see many people taking a stroll giving directions to four brown guys in a car.
There were no stories about dodging bullets in downtown Detroit. Just liked the title and since you are reading this so far. Its more hype than anything. I have lived to tell the tale.
The food at the Mexican place was great. The bowls of salsa and chips never stopped coming. The decor was of a mexican villa with its head of the bull and portraits of flamenco dancers and bullfighters. The waiteress starting talking to us in Spanish. Not surprising.
As part of adventure I ordered Napalitos,which is made from a type of cactus. I seem to have a weakness for exotic sounding dishes. It was not too bad. Tasted like dudhi. Next door was the Mexican store which looked, smelt and even would have tasted like any Indian store. It the identical spicy smell that assaults you the moment you get in. Similar with special foods re-packed in plastic bags by the owners, and the Mexican equivalents of Thums-Up and Parle G, including greeting cards in Mexican. Ironically printed in China!
A sign that you have you truly arrived in the USA
When I gave a quarter and a dime to an American beggar.

Rock n Roll Hall of Fame

One Student
Mathematics: Might fail the class. Refuses to apply himself.
English: Very good knowledge of literature. Works well
General Science: Satisfactory work. Behavior in class far from satisfactory
Chemistry:Missed one exam.
Excerpts from the report card of John Lennon
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Cleveland, Ohio

It was a pilgrimage of sorts for me to go to the magnificent I.M Pei structure that opened in 1995. There are five floors and I could see only one in the entire day. The stuff that they have is amazing. The listening booths present the genre,artist and his links and info with the music, of course. Everything is audio-visual celebrating everything that rock and roll is all about. This includes a section on Teen Idols, clips from TV and radio about R & R being bad for the youth, a huge video wall, the 30 foot Giant Fender Amp replica that Neil Young used for one of his concerts. Finally saw the famous Sgt. Peppers suits of the Beatles and John's report card.
The museum has a huge collection of Hendrix stuff including one of the Fender Strats. One of the ones that survived his battering.
The most astonishing exhibit is the original Sun Studio on the second floor loaned to the museum by Sam Phillips. The same piano that Jerry Lee Lewis played on his famous Sun Sessions. Seeing such stuff was eerie.
Another interesting exhibit was the letter to Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone by Charles Manson, asking for a years free subscription in return for an interview.

Last Exam..Blizzard..Rock Concert
The time that I was waiting for finally arrived. The date reads 17th and I did finish my last exam. If I been less insane I could have made this my last exam ever. In some sense. That's another story.
There was a blizzard this morning and I it was fun to walk around in that before the exam started. It took some time for my fingers to "thaw" before I could start writing. The walking around also resulted in soggy socks, a peeve on which I have ranted before.
First things first after the exam. Harlan Hatcher library. This means that I now have an updated list of books to be read. That column on the left has yellowed with age this Fall. I have to first I must finish the fall backlog of books. The book club in the CO-OP(where I live) has decided to read "Animal Farm" this winter break. My choices were a "Bend in the River" and "Money" , none of which I have read so which I will read anyway.
The afternoon was spent at a rock concert. Actually watching a rock concert the TV room. Thanks to somebody's good sense they have hooked up a Kenwood surround sound system to the DVD player. I was watching the Monterey Pop festival Complete. The volume was turned to a conspicuously loud level. Why? Because it's a rock concert dammit! No one complained, but a couple of people peeped in where Janis was doing "Ball and Chain". Not surprising at all. Janis-Ball and Chain-at the Monterey Festival 1967. It's crazy. Watch it!(LOUD)
I watched the movie twice. The second time with the film-maker and producer commenting about the various aspects of the film and performances. It's kinda of hard to believe that none of these guys and most people there, had ever seen or heard of the Jimi Hendrix, The Who and really did not know what to expect.
Ravi Shankar
Putting Ravi Shankar at the end of the film (not the original concert) was a masterful idea. As he explains,
"...I put Ravi at the end because I felt that that's where I think I wanted to leave people. A sense of arrival at a different place. They all thought that they would come here and get liberated by drugs and what actually liberated them was something totally unexpected."
D.A. Pennebaker

Ravi Shankar performed Raga Bhimpulasi along with Allarakkha Khan. The audience was moved by the Jugalbandhi. I feel its quite a shame that the percussionist always is the junior artiste. Throught they refer to A.R. as '..the tabla player.". Perhaps if A.R. had also managed to get some famous drummer as his pupil then he would be just as famous as Ravi Shankar.

Google update
Quoting the Wall Street Journal
" ..Google plans to open a development centre in Bangalore with around 100 employees". The article went on to mention that there were a significant number of Googleemployees who were willing to spend 'significant' amount of time training the engineers in India. This will also be their first overseas facility. All the other offices are sales offices.

Google and power of Blogging
This is thanks to Vivek who sent me the story. NYT story

Some issues that provide food for thought

1. This makes it possible for anyone out there to make manipulate the Google page Rank, of course provided that there are enough people out there willing to support that particular idea of cross linking. The most common hates would not be a problem to garner blog support. Anything like maybe Greatest Cricket Team linking to India for example would be hard. (Takes you to A Windies site using I am Feeling Lucky.. wonder of wonders ..) An easy target would be Britney Spears. "Worst popstar" (Thats my contribution. Will it catch on? Guys?)

2. Really interesting to see how blogging is rapidly becoming a the New Free Press. Of course you have maybe hugely misreported facts, titled opinons, personal idiosyncrasies and yet it is becoming quite a community of people. The Internet is a great thing but it also means Real people out there can make a difference to public opinion. They called the Fourth Estate the Press but now even the Press can be relied on really accurate news. There is another Estate the Fifth Estate of bloggers.

3. I was tempted to call this blog the Dead End of the Blog because it does not link to another blogs. In the vein of that one smart alec who put up a site saying "This is the end of the Internet. You will have to go back". Adding a sidebar is one of my other facelift plans for this blog. Gimme two more weeks. Atleast it will save me the trouble of typing in all the address of the blogs i regularly read. (Also I would be improving their Page Rank)

3. Currently typing 'hirak' on Google gets you here. Though Hirak Parikh takes you to my personal webpage. This is because most people link me with my first name. So another frightening fact is that all the people who have linked me decide to associate some phrase like "Hirak: Jerk of the century" or something...?

Jimmy John's
Their claim is that at Jimmy John's you get the world's best gourmet sandwich. Maybe not the best but definitely the freshest subs around. I like the attitude and the humourous signs. There is a neon sign that says, "Free Smells". The sign inside say, "You must eat at Jimmy Johns because your mothers says so." Great irrestible after that right. Wait a minute till you reach the counter. They have a sign that says, "Be ready with you order when you reach the counter and say, 'loaded ' if you want onions." In short don't waste our time. Their website is great with history of the college dropout owner.Jimmy John's Looks like that if you want to achieve something in then dropping out of college looks like the only way.
Whatever the stories when you bite into that fresh French bread with sprouts and chunky avocado only with the usual suspects, your mom was right. Check some of the ads they are fun. Its fun in way to see a sense of humour in a website for sandwiches. Explore around you will find it hilarious. There is a TV ad starring India in a vegetarian role and then the Baggy Pants ad is the best.

World Aids Day
I was shocked to find out that India after South Africa has the highest number of HIV/AIDS affected people. Currently Africa is hitting the crest of the wave. India is predicted to hit that in around 2019. It is mind boggling to think the economic consequences of this. The strain on the health system, loss of productive labour, effects on AIDS orphans and families.
Its not easy to get people who need this info the most to realise the gravity of the situation. A worker once pointed out that ".. how can you talk to these people about AIDS/HIV when they don't have basic ideas about health and hygiene?" So again the solution boils down to education. Another problem is the bad attitude of people in India about AIDS victims. Quite a percentage felt that, AIDS victims should kill themselves or they deserved it and it was punishment from God. So AIDS patients in India are double dammed.
I was walking across the DIAG when I see these bunch of girls on a table giving out the red AIDS ribbon. I walk across there to get it and the girl says offers a brochure and asks if I would like condoms. They are lying in a basket on the table.
It was an offer that one should not refuse especially if you want to mantain the image of the exotic Indian mystique. So I smiled and said "Sure". Now picking one would be to looking like a newbie and grabbing a handful would be bragging a bit. I took what appears to be sensible. Three. I was also choosy in picking the colours. That was a neat stroke I felt in this whole scam. What was more surprising was to learn that NOT many people stopped by to pick them. The girl said that, people felt shy about getting condoms. It was somewhat strange considering that was America. The land of the free, the land of the brave. Apparently not. Its quite prudish, homophobic, conservative. Much more than conceived.
PS: Always take 3!