ANAMIKA

'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Crossing into 2014

Building Vocabulary:

I know a certain institution in Kerala that prominently displays a 'Word of the day'. Those in charge of picking suitable words had a recent windfall - three interesting words in a single sentence. Giving the sentence itself would be superfluous; the words were "lacerate (verb)", "rail (verb)" and above all, "recuse (verb)"

The following remark assumes a minimal familiarity with Greek alphabets - especially, the lower case ones; one also needs to switch to an Arabic way of seeing things - right-to-left - and back.

Tarun Tejpal has been the ultimate alpha male of Indian media-dom for quite a long while - the ponytail did not matter either way. Now, by a curious twist of fate, one hears, some medical folks in Goa were busy checking whether the gentleman is a rho male or a sigma male. Indications have been that the result of the investigation was "neither rho nor sigma but SIX!"

Aside: the six there is an Arabic numeral but it can be linked to something very Grecian - herms.

Giving it back to the Dutch:

Sometime back, I wrote lengthily about how contacts with the Dutch have enriched Kerala. And here is a way Kerala can repay a bit of that debt.

I have been trying to relearn the basics of Operating Systems. Semaphores, introduced by the Dutch Master Edsger Dikstra, is one concept I found particularly intriguing.

"Semaphores are devices to achieve signaling between concurrently executing client and server processes.... Each semaphore comes with two operations: to acquire a semaphore, one issues a 'P' operation on that semaphore and to release it, you issue a V...."

Now why 'V' and 'P'? This apparently strange notation has caused a lot of confusion among students. Here is what Wiki says:

The canonical names V and P come from the initials of Dutch words. V stands for verhogen ("increase"). Several explanations have been offered for P, including proberen for "to test" or "to try,"[3] passeren for "pass," and pakken for "grab." However, Dijkstra wrote that he intended P to stand for the portmanteau prolaag,[4] short for probeer te verlagen, literally "try to reduce," or to parallel the terms used in the other case, "try to decrease."[5][6][7] This confusion stems from the fact that the words for increase and decrease both begin with the letter V in Dutch, and the words spelled out in full would be impossibly confusing for those not familiar with the Dutch language.

Leaving the techinicalese aside, a quick invocation of God's Own Language can make things crystal-clear. P = "pidi" (grab!). and V = "vidu" (let go!)

What was more ridiculously over-the-top?

Was it Tendulkar's Bharat Ratna and his farewell pageant? Or is it the 2500 crore Patel statue?

A few days back, I saw the Kerala Mens' Volleyball team start off on a journey to Moradabad to participate in the Nationals. The team included several internationals. And they had to travel by Second Class Sleeper - a bunch of six-three to six-six athletes who have played for the country, nothing less, that too against World-level opposition (not just former British colonies) having to squeeze onto six foot berths for two successive near-freezing nights. And recently, when the name of Tom Joseph, who has been India's best volleyball player for a while, was proposed for the Arjuna Award, it was reported, a certain cricketing bigwig moneybag or two walked out of the meeting in protest.

The following statement at rediff sums up 2013 for Indian Cricket: "On the positive side, it was good that an ad hoc series against the West Indies was organised to give a farewell to Tendulkar. The Master Blaster deserved to sign off on a winning note. A (proper) trip to South Africa would have ensured otherwise."

Yesterday, I saw huge chunks of something pure white and glistening afloat on a canal near Vadodara. Lit by a glorious December sunset, they reminded me of photos of the Magellan strait and its icebergs. But the Vadodara chunks were not of ice but of some chemical foam released by the city's countless factories. The same city, as has every city in Gujarat, kilometer upon filthy, plastic-strewn kilometer of rail-track-side industrial slums. And the regime that prides itself on this kind of 'development' is now sold on reducing the Sardar to a mere effigy - albeit a 600 foot one; the very idea makes the Congi tradition of naming any piece of state property anywhere in the country after the dynasty or Behnji's marble elephant herds or the Shivsena-led renaming spree in Maharashtra seem like child's play.