Sunday, 18 March 2018

Origin by Dan Brown

My Review: 3   3.5   3/5

'The dark religions are departed and sweet science reigns' 

A great concept but a very lame plot! With the show of hands, how many people found this novel conflicting? This book, supposedly a graduation gift for me didn't turn out to be as good as I expected.
So, let's settle down for a talk in detail.

Where do we come from?
Where are we going?

The answers of these two mysteries lie at the heart of the human experience. Science vs. Religion has mostly been the theme of Robert Langdon. In this story, he finds himself strangled in the maze of his dear friend, who is also a genius scientist, Edmond Kirsch. Mr Kirsch doesn't agree with Church who says human came from the God and they are going back to the God. So, he tries to find an answer himself. Finally after years of hard work, Kirsch discovers a ground-breaking theory that can change the whole world. He finds the answer to the questions; where do we come from? And where are we going? 

So, Where do we come from? 
During 1950s, scientists Miller and Urey, rejecting the idea that God invented the life, decided to do the experiment in the lab to prove that some chemicals are enough to make the earthy atmosphere to create lives. After a long experiment, they found out that their chemicals had produced several amino acids. Nothing else interesting happened during the course of their experiment and Of course, just amino acid is not a solid evidence of existing of life. 

Fast-forward, after more than 50 years, comes our genius, Edmond Kirsch who declares that Miller and Urey were not patient enough to wait required amount of time and even if they had waited, the changes couldn't have occurred during their life-time. Then he introduces the same test-tube Miller and Urey were working on and declares that Miller's student continued this experiment and did all the test and analysis with the sophisticated techniques to find out that the chemical fluids now contains the building blocks of RNA, which could eventually become DNA. I must say this totally blew me away and I was so excited. While I am writing this, I remember how excited I was while reading this part. So, let me change my score from 3 to 3.5 stars. After all, I was enjoying it.  

So, all that experiment was lacking, was time. It took 50 years of mark to create RNA. How long more would it need to create DNA and eventually living organism and from that to people like us? Don't you find that fascinating? Isn't it exciting? You know what? I am going to upgrade my score to 4 stars now.

Since I am also a scientist, I got even more excited to discover what exactly was happening in that little test-tube during this 50 years? The magic word we are looking for here is 'Entropy'. And what exactly is the Entropy? It is a measure of disorder in microorganism. The law of entropy states that things fall apart. Let’s think about some examples. Imagine you work really hard to make sand castle. Seconds later, a wave comes in and washes away the castle. But have you ever seen while you are just relaxing in the beach, minding your own business, all of the sudden wave comes in and deposits sand in the shape of a sand castle? No right? This is what I am talking about. Here is another example. Someone makes you a really nice cup of tea. Then you forget to drink it and after a while it becomes cold. That is entropy. It makes hot tea cold but it doesn't reheat your tea or ask your friend to do it. Ok, enough examples. But wait, I forgot what I was talking about.  

Oh yea, the thing is we live in entropic universe. Ok, everyone got it but how can lifeless chemicals magically organise themselves into complex life-forms? As it turns out, life is not the only example of the universe creating order. Non-living molecules organise themselves all the time into complex structures. Look at the examples of a tornado vortex, a snowflake, a rippled riverbed etc. etc. So that means sometimes the universe does organise matter-which seems to be the exact opposite of entropy. So which is actually true? Does universe prefer order or chaos? Nature!-in an effort to promote disorder-creates little pockets of order. Hmm. makes sense that means your friend will never reheat your tea.

So what does entropy have to do with the origin of life? As turns out, life is an exceptionally effective tool for dissipating energy. All living organisms-including humans-which consume organised matter as food, convert it to energy, and then dissipate energy back into the universe as heat. So that means, the life indeed spontaneously emerged from lifeless matter as result of nothing more than the laws of physics. Then Edmond shows the stimulated Miller-Urey's amino acids in millions of years turning into DNA. Just wow! 

and  Now let’s talk about Where are we going? 
Here just for reference, let’s imagine humans are the result of some law of entropy of non-living things. After millions of years, some living organism are formed then comes Darwinian evolutionary theory (survival of fittest), and fast-forward we are in present world. So what’s next? Are we going back to being non-living stuffs at some point? Here is the clue- have you discovered anything unusual in last decade? 

Technology has overcome people. This is the age of Industry 4.0. People talk about digitalisation, personalisation. They are hugely dependent on their laptops and smartphones. Even my 7 months old niece gets really excited when she sees phone :0. The point here is, human has become machine dependent. There will be a time (in less than a century) when human will be entirely swallowed up by machine. This doesn't sound too vague when people are talking so much about artificial intelligence (AI) now. People are even talking about in-coupling AI into human brain. Who we kidding right? So, Edmond says that if it runs like this at some point, there will be only machines in this world and extinction of human, just like a fate of dinosaurs (scary enough!). 

The good thing about Dan Brown's book is, you cannot rest until you finish it. I was so hooked up in the book that I was happy that I was finishing this 500 pages book fast but also sad thinking it will be finished soon. If you are familiar with Brown's book, you know by now that he takes you to different cities, goes deep into the meaning of some churches or buildings, there will be codes and puzzles Langdon has to break to solve the mystery that will eventually save the world or himself. These codes are always fun and interesting. Every time new series of Robert Langdon comes, I am more looking forward to new codes and countries he takes us.

BUT...... Let’s talk about 'but' now.

A very famous scientist Edmond Kirsch is about to make a world-changing announcement of Where do we come from? and Where are we going? 
The announcement is assisted by soon to be Queen of Spain, Ambra Vidal (but she is completely unaware about the content of his announcement). I guess it is about time that I should announce Edmond Kirsch is so genius that he has programmed a virtual artificial assistant, Winston. He is programmed to behave like human and understand their emotions. As a matter of fact, Winston knows everything about Kirsch apart from the discovery itself and a password that can access to the discovery Kirsch made. 

On the night of the discovery, while Kirsch was about to announce his discovery, he gets killed. Now the whole world watching and more curious about his discovery, Robert Langdon and Ambra Vidal with the assistance of Winston has to track down the password of Edmond Kirsch's discovery so that they can make it public. It’s a huge suspense but you know what I guessed the ending miles away (I guess I am reading too much of Robert Langdon). 

Take home message? 
For me, so many things didn't make sense. 

1. Winston declared that he killed his own creator Edmond Kirsch in public to enhance the public interest of his discovery. Winston thought that it was for his own good but you know what? It totally didn't make sense. Winston killed Kirsch before the discovery was announced and without Langdon to track down the codes to find his password, there was no way discovery was getting public. The discovery would have been lost if Langdon was not there. 

2. I don't understand the role of Ambra Vidal and her connection with Edmond Kirsch. The world renowned genius scientist Kirsch secretly creates Winston using supercomputer and keeps it secret from everyone and even programmes it in a way that it permanently shuts down the day after he dies. He makes this world-changing discovery that he doesn’t tell anyone and is very sceptical about. Still, he tells Ambra how to unlock his home's door and that the password to his discovery is the 47 characters line of one of the poems of his favourite poet, which happened to be in his home library. This doesn't make sense. 

3. I still didn't get who killed Saed al-Fadl and Rabi Yehuda Köves. Was it again Winston? But Why?

4. At the end, it shows Bishop Valdespino and the king of Spain are gay couple. This totally doesn’t fit into the story and Love is a private thing. The world doesn't need to know every detail. 

As I said, the concept is good. Dan Brown talks about the AI, the recent control of human life by new technology and how fake news are weighing as much as real news in today's generation but I strongly feel that Robert Langdon didn't come that powerful this season because in previous seasons, I was so used to Langdon being the main focus in everywhere. He solving all the mysteries and it was like, without him nothing else happened. There were no loopholes and loose ends. The funny thing is, you know I was like damn! he forgot to mention his Mickey Mouse watch this time. I was like noooooo..... but it was there towards the end.  While I am thinking about that, I realised the role of Ambra Vidal is even more dreadful. She didn't come across as smart and active as other females in previous series. You know what I am going to change my score back to 3 stars. 

Oh well, The Da Vinci Code, and Angels and Demons are still my favourite Robert Langdon series. 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Introducing Dr. Parva Chhantyal

'Be brave enough to live the life of your dreams according to your vision and purpose instead of the expectations and opinions of others.'- The Light in the Heart

The moment I was handed in the PhD completion certificate, my mind scanned through every memory of past four years. All the bitter-sweet memories engulfed inside me throughout this time suddenly wanted to blast out. I wanted to scream so loud that other part of the world could also hear me. It gave me sense of melancholy feelings but what is more important is, I achieved what I wanted and this is what I wanted. All the events that occurred during this time encouraged me to focus more into what is important and what is right for me because at the end of the day, everything else is temporary.


'You may be the only person left who believes in you, but it's enough. It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness. Never give up.'- Smile Anyway

Things were not easy I tell you and you will hear this from me forever. PhD is not a joke. With the completion rate of about 50%, only people who are persistent and determined to cross every obstacle set before them can pass it. When I started my PhD program, I heard that the average length of the program was 6.5 years and I thought, ‘no way, not me; I’ll finish in 3 years.’ Later, you realise that the length you spend in a PhD seems like a big deal when you start, but it becomes less important as you progress into the research. Sooner or later you see that your colleagues' or your work is progressing really slowly that postpones the graduation by 6 months or one year, and that is not due to the lack of an ability and intellect. The more you are into the research; the more you want to adventure (that is only if you like the subject). You will learn that continuous rejection, failures and thinking yourself as an inferior in your own chosen area is common. And, you will learn that how long you are stuck in the lab is nobody's business but yours. You and only you are responsible for closing this chapter. And this will only happen with your determination, sacrifice, persistence and hard work. 

'Seek and ye shall find'- The Divine Comedy
Choose your Subject!
This subject we are talking about is what you are devoting your life for. Don't choose any subject just for sake of doing a PhD. You should be able to work days, nights, weekends, and holidays without hesitation. You should be able to attend international conferences and show your passion about this subject. This doesn't come itself. If everything goes well, you will be linked to this subject for the rest of your life. Plus, you are devoting minimum 4 years of your life. You don't want to spend your precious life on something you dislike.   

Choose your Supervisor!

Imagine you want to get married and now you have to choose your partner. What do you look for? This is exactly same case. You be careful in choosing your supervisor as much careful as you become choosing your life partner, because your PhD depends completely upon your supervisor, just like how your life is affected by your life partner. It is not about you go to club one day and have some good laugh and decide to give a shot. You may choose your life partner like that but it doesn't work with your PhD. Choose the team well. People you are working with and topic you are choosing are very very important.

'Miles, as in 'to go before I sleep'- Looking for Alaska  

PhD becomes your life. It changes your life and you. There’s a huge sacrifice involved, dependent on the person and situation. You slowly get isolated from the world but at the end of the era, you don't even realise that it’s a big deal. You are already being adopted to your new life. Funny thing, you know I was so overworked that when I handed in my thesis, I got a feeling of 'Now what do I do with my life? Its so boring :D'. Many people realize that in the middle that this is not what they want and change the career. Some people become depressed, they burn out and I was like that too but at that time, PhD was everything. Nothing else mattered. I lost 10 Kg during final year because I was so stressed out and I was really sick. I know I know I was being careless, But hey! don't worry, I am recovering slowly and I will not do a PhD again :D. 

'Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.'- The Light in the Heart

My PhD lasted for four years (including defense) but in my mind, it felt like million years. Damn! It was indeed a long time!
Now, why shouldn't I call myself a Dr :). Right after I passed my PhD, I requested all my close family members to call me Dr. Don't worry, I am not that creepy. The excitement lasted for few weeks and now I don't care (Just like a honeymoon :D).
Nevertheless, I’m not saying that the PhD is a bad thing. I enjoyed the intellectual hardship. I developed soft skills that I wouldn't have otherwise. The time I enjoyed the most was when I started writing thesis. This is also probably because I enjoy writing. I was writing days and night, forgetting food, sleep and the weekends. Every time it was thesis, thesis, and thesis. I literally became workaholic. I saw thesis everywhere. Every time, I was thinking about how can I make it look perfect. Most importantly, how can I make it such that I do not regret while reading it in 10 or even 20 years. Anyway, the point here is, get used to working days, nights and weekends. There is no free time for yourself and for your folks. People talk big about time management and stuffs, but these are all blah blah. When you do a PhD and you have set goals to finish it at certain time, this is all you care about. 

'And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.'- The Alchemist

Stay focus! Some days you are productive and some days you feel like you are wasting time. It's even worse feeling when your friends are getting married and moving on with their life while you are being stuck inside the lab. Couldn't you wait little longer? Damn, You were so in rush? Still, you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. For some reason, you feel their life is lot better than yours. But you know what? Life doesn't wait for anyone. Life goes on and you should too. Because at the end of the day, getting married and having children is not what you wanted at this moment. You have your life to live, your part to contribute and so do others. Should I still be mad that they didn't wait for me? Nah!! Not anymore :). 

As I said earlier, PhD changes your life. It changes you and it changes the way you see around but at the end of the day, when you look at it positively, it’s all for good.  

So what did I learn? 

Plan Plan Plan!!! This always keeps you into the track of your goal. Sometimes, things do not go as you have planned but you learn to adjust with unexpected changes. It makes you flexible and able to adopt quickly. It teaches you that plans fail but this is not the end. 

'I realize that I have to put myself out there to get what I want.'- Take Me There 

No matter what happens in life now, I know nothing can be as complicated and challenging as a PhD. With many memories that I will share down to my upcoming generation, I am very grateful to everyone who helped and motivated me throughout these 4 years. Even though PhD was hard, I was somehow enjoying it. The intellectual challenge, and satisfaction when I met it, the ability to commit and set goals, and also enormous opportunities to present myself around the globe. Yes, I sacrificed a lot but I also achieved a lot. All those hard times helped me to stay focus in my dream. And remember! You don't get these without little bit of sacrifice. Now, I am really excited to see what lays ahead for me in life.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Persuasion by Jane Austen

 My Review: 5/5

A beautiful story of love, heartache and the determination of one woman as she struggles to regain her lost love. A story about a second chance. A story that makes your heart swell like there is no better thing in this world. A love story that really comes once in a life time. A love story that teaches us:
“A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman. He ought not; he does not.”
Anne Elliot comes from a high class family. She has everything one desires; Beauty, wealth, social status... you name it. She meets Fedrick Wentworth, who lacks fortune and rank.
''They were gradually acquainted, and when acquainted, rapidly and deeply in love. It would be difficult to say which had seen highest perfection in the other, or which had been the happiest: she, in receiving his declarations and proposals, or he in having them accepted."  

Not so surprising for me, Anne's family and friends oppose this marriage. Then they depart. 
“There could have never been two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.”

''He was gone; he had disappeared, she felt a moment's regret. But they should meet again.''

They seperate but Anne couldn't get over him.
“She would have liked to know how he felt as to a meeting. Perhaps indifferent, if indifference could exist under such circumstances. He must be either indifferent or unwilling. Has he wished ever to see her again, he need not have waited till this time; he would have done what she could not but believe that in his place she should have done long ago, when events had been early giving him the independence which alone had been wanting.”
Nearly 8 years later, Fedrick Wentworth returns from the Navy as Captain Wentworth with huge fortune, which reminds me of a famous quote- ''If it is right, it happens - the main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.". And here is the scene that describes Anne and Captain Wentworth's second encounter.
''He was more obviously struck and confused by the sight of her than she had ever observed before; he looked quite red. For the first time, since their renewed acquaintance, she felt that she was betraying the least sensibility of the two. She had the advantage of him in the preparation of the last few moments.''

I smiled when I read it (immediately hoped nobody in the train thinks I am mad). Anne still having intense feeling for him sees that this time, Captain Wentworth is not interested in her but her friend. Is she too late?
"He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman since whom he thought her equal; but, except from some natural sensation of curiosity, he had no desire of meeting her again. Her power with him was gone for ever."


“She understood him. He could not forgive her,-but he could not be unfeeling. Though condemning her for the past, and considering it with high and unjest resentment, though perfectly careless of her, and though becoming attached to another, still he could not see her suffer, without the desire of giving her relief. It was a remainder of former sentiment; it was an impuse of pure, though unacknowledged friendship; it was a proof of his own warm and amiable heart, which she could not contemplate without emotions so compounded of pleasure and pain, that she knew not which prevailed.”

With common friends and relatives, Anne and Captain Wentworth frequently meet each other in social gathering, each realising their long forgotten love every time they meet. Each tries to avoid other as much as they can but they cannot.

Then finally, Captain Wentworth can no longer stay in silence. He writes a letter to Anne. I must say, this letter literally broke me.
''I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never''

To this letter, Anne says:
''Such a letter was not to be soon recovered from''

Finally the scene when Anne and Captain Wentworth confess their love to each other for second time, the scene that will just inject into your heart and make you cry, the scene that will remain in your soul for ever:
''and soon words enough had passed between them to decide their direction towards the comparatively quiet and retired gravel walk, where the power of conversation would make the present hour a blessing indeed, and prepare it for all the immortality which the happiest recollections of their own future lives could bestow. There they exchanged again those feelings and those promises which had been followed by so many, many years of division and estrangement. There they returned again into the past, more exquisitely happy, perhaps, in their re-union, than when it had been first projected; more tender, more tried, more fixed in a knowledge of each other's character, truth, and attachment, more equal to act, more justified in acting. And there, as they slowly paced the gradual ascent, heedless of every group around them, seeing neither sauntering politicians, bustling housekeepers, flirting girls, nor nursery-maids and children, they could indulge in those retrospections and acknowledgements, and especially in those explanations of what had directly preceded the present moment, which were so poignant and so ceaseless in interest. All the little variations of the last week were gone through; and of yesterday and today there could scarcely be an end.''
Just read those words, how can someone write so perfectly? How can anyone just incise your heart with their words? Selection of words couldn't have been more classic; story line couldn't have been more interesting and realistic, ending couldn't have been more perfect. I wouldn't be more proud to have it in my collections once I have my own library. See? This is what good novels do. They make you part of it. They make you cry and laugh at the same time that you somehow become crazy. More than anything, they make you feel like they are telling your story. Have you felt that too? Have you?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Meenu-Parva time in New Orleans, USA

"A strong friendship doesn't need daily conversation or being together. As long as the relationship lives in the heart, true friends never part."- Quoted
Cruising Mississippi river.

Jackson Square, French Quarter

French Quarter

Nightlife in French Quarter

Road trip around Louisiana

Swamp tour
Hallo Alligator!
Deep into the forest in search of Alligators.

Monday, 10 October 2016

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

My Review: 3.5/5

I finished this book and I have no idea how to feel about it. You know this can happen in real, but there was something which didn't add up for me. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what that factor is because I don't know it myself.

"I have heard people say that the more you like someone, the more you think they are beautiful even if you didn't think so in the beginning."  

Lara Jean is a 16-year old high school girl. Few years back, she wrote letters to 5 different boys she fell in love with in various timeline. One of them, Peter approaches her and then long story short, they are in love. Everything is normal up to here. Oh yea, let's not forget, before Lara Jean, Peter was in relationship with Lara Jean's then best friend, Genievive. So, now the story is getting little complicated right? Wait until later. 

The problem is, they are all in the same school. So, Peter and Genievive bump into each other quite often. At first Lara Jean doesn't mind thinking they are still friends but later on, she comes to know that they are constantly in touch with each other, they text, talk on phone and not only that, also meet in private, whatever the reason behind it is. 

''We broke so easily. Like it was nothing. Like we were nothing. Does that mean it was never meant to be in the first place? That we were an accident of fate? If we were meant to be, how could we both walk away just like that? I guess the answer is, we weren't.'' 

"Things feel like they'Il be forever, but they aren't. Love can go away, or people can, without even meaning to. Nothing is guaranteed."

The problem continues in between Peter and Lara Jean just because of Genievive. Peter says Genievive is going through some family issues so she needs him and Lara Jean says he should be spending time with her since she is his girlfriend now. At this point, I was screaming 'Go, girl!’ She has a valid point, doesn't she? 
Trust me, I couldn’t digest this whole drama. Here, I have to shout out to some guys out there. When you break up with someone that means you break up. When you break up with someone and you are in new relationship, your previous break up means BREAK UP! No matter whatever the situation is. I mean, if you can't get over previous relationship, what's the point of new one? Why just ruin everyone's life. You broke up for a reason. Since now you broke up, why stalk on your exs? Why message them? What’s the point of this?

''There is a korean word my grandma taught me. It's called jung. It's the connection between two people that can't be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them, you can't ever shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them. And jung is why somebody can't let go somebody. They are tied.''

And, at this point, our next hero, John Ambrose McClaren comes into play. John is one of those five guys Lara Jean wrote to. John and Lara Jean are instantly attracted to each other. While Peter is still handling issues of his ex-girlfriend, John approaches as a real gentleman. Everything he does and everything he says makes Lara Jean fall for him more and more. Well my friends, there is a famous saying 'A man's biggest mistake is giving another man an opportunity to make his woman smile'. This couldn’t be more true here.

''People come in and out of your life. For a time they are your world; they are everything. And then one day they are not. There is no telling how long you will have them near.''

Then Lara Jean and Peter break up. And it makes everything easy for Lara Jean and John. They hang out together until Peter realises his mistake and becomes extremely jealous of John. Then he asks Lara Jean to come back to him. At this point, I was screaming 'NO!, NO!'. Because, I was also falling in love with John.

Although Lara Jean had started to fall for John, she still had some feelings left for Peter. Now Lara Jean is confused who to choose between Peter and John. It was difficult. I was actually thinking what I would do if I were in her position. Decision like this is not easy but what can make it little bit easier is by asking yourself- 'Who would I regret losing more?'

So, lots of drama and too much confusion for our dear leading lady and at some point, I couldn't take it any longer and I screamed, 'Enough girl! Just choose one guy and get the hell out of my life.' Then comes the final conversation between Lara Jean and John, that makes me go Awwww.....

Lara Jean- ''I could fall in love with you so easily. I am halfway there already. You are so perfect in my memory, and you are perfect now. Of all the boys, you're the one I would pick. but, but I still love Peter. I can't help it. He got here first and he..... he just won't leave.''

Here, I was nodding. 'Go girl! that's right, the one who came first always count.'

John replies- ''I don't think it was our time then. I guess it isn't now either. But one day may be it will be.''
 I was like-----D-A-N-G---

I knew it, John is not giving up. Although this sequel finishes with this conversation and of course with Lara Jean running into Peter's arm but there is something inside me that says Lara Jean belongs to John. 

Hands up if you want to see Lara Jean ending up with John Ambrose McClaren in next sequel? You know what, I am team John! You cannot just come and go and come again into someone's life. Just because you needed a break doesn't mean everyone will stay still and wait for you to come and play the button again and carry on with the life. This means you disrespected your girl. Nobody deserves it because every girl in this world deserves to be somebody's number one girl.