morphological_box

Morphological box

I have been meaning to add my research online for some time now. I finally got time to delete the old content on this site. Mostly related to my comic book and the film. I am going to repurpose this site to write about my research in systems design, my work in building products and the tools that I come across.

For starters, I am going to talk about the Morphological Box. It is a great analysis tool for non-quantifiable problems and to come up with an approach for a solution.

The basic premise is pretty simple. One needs to break a system into its subsystems then come up with alternative ideas for components and go to town on creating combinations. I have used this box as a starting point for trade-off analysis and have greatly benefited from it. Give it a try.

Here is an example from the Industrial Design Engineering Wiki

http://www.wikid.eu/index.php/Morphological_chart

Image Credit: Wikid.eu

Joe Daly

The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book

I got excited after a long time reading a comic book and didn’t want it to end. The art is very detailed and is reminiscent of Hergé. Joe Daly even has a panel where the main character gives a kid “The Blue lotus” to read. I laughed out loud on the first page where he describes why designing bricks with faces is sticking to the brief. what is there not to like about a comic which has humor, mystery, local flavor, damn good art and great characters. Get a copy.

Kanchenjunga

In search of immortality

2009-07-23

We were watching ‘The Fountain’ by Darren Aronofsky the other day and my mom remarked how it reminded her of our first digital feature called Turjya. We made it in 2003 and it was about this guy with a map seeking immortality. Check out the trailer. We knew nothing about constructing a scene or blocking or editing. We just took the camera and began filming. Thanks to Pramida without whose support we could never have started or finished the project. The adventure started in Hyderabad where we did a lot of indoor shooting and a bit of the outdoors at the Kapra lake and then we went on a whirlwind tour of the country to shoot the remaining scenes. The team was Nishant Pant-line producer, Dev-DP, Asheesh-Lead Actor and Art -Director and I directed the film.

Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore-Metrupalyam-Ooty-Burliyar-Coimbatore

Our first destination was Silent valley national park. We didn’t go all the way but stopped about 40 km from Ooty at a forest guest house and decided to finish shooting the forest scenes there. We first went to Metrupalyam and took a bus up to Ooty where we hired a couple of motorbikes and spent the day in Ooty. The next day we started for the forest guest house and On our way we saw Nizam of Hyderabad’s summer Palace. We wanted to shoot the hospital scene there, but we were chased out of there by ferocious dogs. With our tails between our legs we carried on. The guest house was eerie. There was this guy called David who was the caretaker of the bungalow and he was also the cook. We got a lot of supplies from a neighboring village and gave it all to David who would whip up delicious dishes with potatoes and eggs and have a feast ready for us by the time we went back after a hard days shoot. The shoot itself was full of surprises. The Emerald lake, the Todas, the wild buffaloes and our encounter with a sambar on a deserted road, the leopards growling at night. It was one of my first experiences being in the wild. We wrapped up and headed to Burliyar from there. We took the toy train from Ooty and we wanted to film a shot there. But the conductor didn’t let us shoot and threw us out at Lovedale station. We then took a shared jeep and got off at this hotel in Burliyar where we planned our next steps. There was this stream right by our hotel and we hitched a couple of miles upstream and found a waterfall where we decided to do a little more shooting. We shot the wrist slitting from the climax here and after getting enough coverage we decided to take a dip. I had a terrible back ache throughout the shoot and this was the only place where I felt a little better after treating my back by sitting under the waterfall. Our next destination-Sikkim. It felt like we were on the train for a few years.

Sikkim, Metrupalyam-Coimbatore-Chennai-Howrah-New Jalpaiguri-Kalimpong-Jorthang-Yoksum-Tchoka-Dzongri-Delhi.

With numerous delays we finally reached New Jalpaiguri. In between we got off at Shantiniketan like Michael Palin got off in Pune because his dad had served there. I don’t know why I got off there. Maybe because of Tagore. Maybe because of Nandlal Bose. we reached new Jalpaiguri late at night and took a jeep. The driver was drunk as expected and after a near death accident and a fight with with the driver we decided to hitch. We walked to the nearby police station and the guys there kindly stopped a truck for us. We took the truck all the way to Jorthang. As soon as we got off at Jorthang the police there stopped us because we looked shady and interrogated us for over an hour, they looked at our equipment, our id‚Äôs and just wouldn’t buy our story that we were students. They eventually let us off but only later came to know that the information bureau was after us. More about that later. We took another Jeep to Yoksum which had one street with small guest houses and an eatery. This was our base from where we trekked to a camp from where we could capture the Kanchenjunga. It was a 2 day trek and we spent a night at a remote mountain village called Tchoka, with no electricity and two or three huts. We had a lot of tchang here. Tchang is fermented millet beer served in a bamboo mug. Fermented millet is first put in a mug and then hot water poured over it and then is drunk using a bamboo straw. It quickly gives you a high and you need to be very careful. The next morning we finally reached the deserted camp called Dzongri. Our DP, Dev got diarrhea so Asheesh and I went up the mountain to get the required shots. The rest of the day we just stayed there looking at the mountain in utter silence and awe. When we went back to our base we found out from our hosts that the Information Bureau was making inquiries about us. We got really scared and wanted to leave immediately but couldn’t since it was raining and we had to wait for an extra day. Since Sikkim is a sensitive area, not everyone gets permission to shoot there. And the permits were really expensive and since we were poor students we really didn’t have money to even think about paying the fee. To cut a long story short, we smuggled our camera in. So the news of the IB made us rethink our strategy and we hid the tapes in our underwear and all evening stayed in bed and avoided going out. The next morning we took the first jeep out to Jorthang. That was a close one! There was a landslide on our way to Siluguri and finally reached a day late. As expected our train tickets were on waiting list and we couldn’t get confirmed tickets because there was this huge group of school girls going to Delhi by the same train. We got on the train nevertheless and after bribing the TT, we got 2 seats in an already packed military compartment. We put all the equipment on the top birth and took turns sleeping. The train went through Bihar and UP and it was late and the boogie was dirty and several people got on with no ticket. Basically it was a circus and never again with a waitlisted ticket. When we got off at the New Delhi station, we were already tired and had several days of growth on our faces and our clothes were dirty. We were walking to a friend’s house to clean up when a cop stopped Asheesh and me and took us to the police station at Gulmohar Park because we looked suspicious. No amount of pleading helped. They finally took out our expired id cards and called our faculty at NIFT to verify whether we were students. It so happened that the faculty did not like us because we were rabble-rousers. They refused to identify us and even today I don‚Äôt know whether they were playing a prank or if they really wanted us in jail. One of them took pity and told the cops she knew us. They let us go and asked us to get a shave. The same evening we left for Jaisalmer.

Rajasthan, Delhi-Jaisalmer-Delhi

By the time we reached Jaisalmer, the train bogies were covered in an inch of sand. There was sand everywhere. Just like Shantiniketan, we got off at Pokhran, the site of the underground nuclear testing. We bought hot mirchi pakodas here to commemorate our arrival. The city was out of a fairy tale. Out of nowhere we saw this huge structure in the distant desert, beatiful in the glaring harsh afternoon light, We stayed in a haveli within the fort and that evening allowed ourselves the pleasure of chilled beers. It was brilliant.The next morning we took camels out into the desert. There were a couple of other tourists with us and whenever we made stops, we rushed off to get coverage. That night we slept on a dune, after listening to the camel riders sing. the food was tasteless and full of sand. But we didn’t mind knowing that there were only about 2 pages to be shot. Rajasthan was the only place in our shoot where we didn’t face problems. It could have all gone wrong when Asheesh with his long hair and a beard asked our hotel manager where the Air force base was. If the guy had raised an alarm we would have been sitting in jail today for looking suspicious!

Delhi

After coming back to Delhi we did the remaining shoot. our professor at NIFT, Mr. Chand Gupta gave us a helping hand by acting in the film and also giving us a lot of encouragement. There were several people who helped us and like most student films, the list of people we thanked was longer than the production crew. In Hyderabad, we got to shoot at Outswinger, the pub and Andy made it happen because he knew Shane, the then manager of Outswinger who is no longer with us today.

delhi

India

2009-03-25

I am going to do again what most blogs with a lot of following seldom do. Write a long ass post. Please bear with me.

Delhi
we got out of the airport at 2AM and it was foggy. I felt like kababs and we decided to drive down to kumsum at Nizamuddin. Munish drove expertly in near zero visibility conditions with dada navigating. It was a harrowing experience and Pramida kept reprimanding me for making them drive to Nizamuddin. But the kababs were worth it.
The same morning we left for Agra. For an international destination, the Taj has one of the worst approach roads. Dirty with trash and dung all over. It was a Saturday and it was like a bloody circus. As soon as we got out of the car the touts started harassing us. The luggage check was a small room with hundreds of people jostling to get in to retrieve their wires etc. A small fight broke and there could have been a stampede if not for the cop who kept taking aim at people with his long staff. Because of the fog we had to wait for a while to be able to see the Grand structure.No doubt it is beautiful but I would not recommend it to anyone. Please go to Humayun’s tomb which has the same design but is built with red sandstone. when we finally got out of the Taj people started harassing us to get into the meena bazaar to buy crap. We escaped and quickly went on our way to Fatehpur Sikri.
The Buland Darwaza is an imposing gate and delivers what it promises from the outside. A peaceful courtyard with Salim Chisti’s dargah and the mosque, all very unreal in the evening winter light. Come here with some time in your hands so you can sit and enjoy the beautiful space.
We spent the next few days hanging with friends. The first stop was Delhi Haat where we ate momos and kashmiri khana which included goshtaba, rishta and rogan josh. Then we went to Sarojini and had badam milk and jalebis while the girls shopped. Dinner was at Karims where we ate excellent barra kababs and also picked up boti kababs for later from a kababwalah in the street outside the mosque. I recommend Nizamuddin to all you foodies out there. We used to bring kababs from here and biryani from tefla’s canteen (JNU) for most of our college parties.
The next day we started for Ranthambore in Rajasthan. On our way, dada and Dev narrated the story of a movie called Khooni Darinda, From what I hear, it is worth a rent!

Ranthambore conjures up images of jungles, lost treasures in dilapidated forts and adventure. They place lived up to its hype but the tigers decided to sleep in. We did see plenty of monkeys, Sambars, Neelgais(antelopes), T-bills and other birds. We saw the pug marks as expected but not the tiger. Went to the fort later that evening which is right by the national park and from the top could see the cantors and jeeps going around. We left for Bundi the same evening and made a pit stop at Indragarh. The samosas were delicious with the samosas smashed and chutneys poured into them. We also tried the sev curry which supposedly is a specialty from Gujarat and Rajasthan. Picked up a few guavas which were a little raw but sweet. On our way to Bundi from Indragarh we saw a few wild animals on the road. One point we slowed down for a neelgai but the poor thing got scared when Pramida let out a yelp not realizing that the animal was so close.
Our first stop was at a guesthouse which was run by an old guy. His living quarters was full of old pictures of men in royal uniforms. They are probably aristocrats. We decided not to stay there because the pots didn’t have seats and the girls were uncomfortable. Instead we went to the neighboring guest house run by a family. The kids were very agreeable and helped their parents with cooking, serving us food etc. all while studying for tests. We were not really easy guests making demands on the poor folk. But they really looked after us well. Make sure you stay here if you go to Bundi.
The palace in Bundi is really beautiful. It is still owned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji and a huge section of the palace is closed for public. But the diwan-e aam and the offices and a few sections presumably the apartments for minor queens were enough to get a general idea of the architecture and the interiors of the palace. The toilets were awesome. We were trying hard to figure out what the holes were for!
The Palace was empty apart from the monkeys who sat on the throne which for humans was off-limits. Then we went up to see the Taragarh fort.
The fort is beautiful and there were hardly any people. Just another couple apart from our gang. The whole place was covered with shrubbery and the light was fading. There are old palaces and the traditional Rajasthani wells inside. The interiors were all very intricate. It was a maze and there were places where I thought I was lost. Stuff my childhood dreams were made of. Just needed the treasure map.
That evening we went to this place which looked like the lounges in Goa, Pushkar and other places where tourists get trashed and trip on weird looking psychedelic art on the walls and lay down on the deewans and listen to techno. We were not trashed so we really didn’t like it because they took about 2 hours to get our food. Mind you, it is extremely difficult getting non-vegetarian food in the town and only a few places serve alcohol. The food was lousy and we ended up disturbing our hosts and made them cook for us again.

The Rock Art of the ancients
Mr. Kukki, the unofficial Resident archaeologist of Bundi who discovered all the rock paintings took us on a tour of one section of his discoveries. There were scenes of men hunting, animals, people and other weird stuff like a man flying on a bird all drawn using locally available volcanic rock. There are about 55 sites that he discovered in the last 14 years and makes a living by taking people to these sites. There are others in the town who have caught on and have similar tours but this guy has dedicated his life to this. If you ever go, please make sure you use his services. He is interesting, a little rigid. He will take you to places that he thinks you might enjoy like waterfalls, small temples when all you want to do is look at the art. Make sure you tell him that you just want to see the rock art if you want to make the most of your time there.
On our way there, a bunch of scamsters on bikes tried their level best to sell us some fake gold. Don’t stop for these people. There have been instances of grand theft. The region has a tribe which prides itself for producing great tricksters and even have a roadside eatery named after ‘scam’.
Mr. Kukki has an awesome collection of pre-historic artifacts. He has stuff from paleolithic, chalcolithic, microlithic and mesolithic eras. He has arrow heads, stone tools, jewellery, coins and weapons. He lets you touch them and it is an entirely different feeling when you are not just peering at them from behind a glass pane.
For all you Pre-Independence Raj time literature enthusiasts , Bundi is where Rudyard Kipling stayed and wrote parts of KIM and it is believed that the Taragarh fort served as an inspiration for the monkey king’s fort in the Jungle Book.

Delhi
Back in Delhi we spent a lot of time hanging out with friends. We went to a place in GK for dinner and drinks and had a great time. The next day we went to Chandni Chowk since Pramida wanted to go back for Jalebis there. We went on a binge and ate whatever we could lay our hands on. Then went to Ballimaran to eat kababs and ate at Karims and then at different stalls that line up Jama Masjid’s Gate number 1. After stuffing ourselves with kabab we took a quick tour of Meena bazar, my first time here and I was quite surprised by the deals. There were suitcases going for pennies.
On that note let me give this a rest.

Garage Band

I dropped in at the library yesterday and after renewing my membership, I went to see if there were any new arrivals at the comic book section. Right next to the section, there were a bunch of expectant mothers with their firstborns at their side, loudly making plans for a play date.  A nice scene for a comic book, eh?! Any case, I came across this graphic novel by Gipi called ‘Garage Band’. I was immediately transported to the world of these 4 teenagers in small town Italy with their quirks and their common love for music. Each character was beautifully fleshed out and unusually revealing. This without stepping out of context of the central theme of the book. Garage Band, without going into details brings up a lot of issues like the state of the music industry, economic philosophy, health, taste, obsessions, love, lost dreams, relationships and friendship. These things form the sub-textual landscape of this book. Just like real life where all these things are a part of every day existence but are rarely ever put into words. Curiously, the dad’s of the 4 main characters also have their respective obsessions. Like model planes, underwater fishing, sculpting and dogs. while the  women in the book are warm and indulgent. the art is distinctive and evocative. A must read. Published by First Second Books

Gipi’s Personal blog

Buy Garage Band

Blues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009-02-12

I am changing my tires and I am changing my gym. Updike is dead and so is Hazel.
I lived with my tires for 4 years and now it is time for them to go. Most probably I am going to get my battery replaced and change the oil and filters when I am at it. My gym membership is coming to an end. I enjoyed climbing but now I am looking for something more economical. I am getting an unbeatable deal at another gym which has an indoor pool, racket ball courts and a regular gym. Updike died a few weeks ago and it reminded me of college when I used to read his books while drinking Golden Eagle. I feel sad. I was also devastated when I got a message this morning about Hazel. She was a great dog. It is tough to lose a pet. I don’t know how Toton is taking it. I don’t know what to say to him.
Let me try and beat my blues.
Deliverance
I saw this movie a few weeks back. It was very honest and poetic. It felt like I was reading back issues of Nat Geo and when I think of back issues of Nat Geo, I am reminded of the endless days of trying to build the perfect boomerang. The damn things never worked; probably because I used cheap plywood to make my boomerangs. During my boomerang days, there used to be this buffalo near my house. The buffalo would come and stand outside our gate every afternoon to get a shower from our garden hose and I would oblige. We became good friends and the buffalo even gave me a ride now and then to the neighborhood shop. Another animal I became friends with and had the pleasure of riding on, was a camel called Kalu, in Rajasthan. We were filming ‘Turjya’ and took the camels from Jaisalmer to Sam sand dunes. There were a couple of French tourists who were riding with us and I was amused when I saw them change into silk pajamas when they retired for the evening. The only other person I saw in silk in the middle of the desert was Prince Feisal in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.

Talking about the French, I was pleasantly surprised when I was in Paris last month. I had heard a lot of horror stories and was not really expecting much but I enjoyed Paris as much as I enjoyed Madrid in ’05. We were at a hostel in the Latin quarter with its small eateries and pubs and lot of backpackers. We stayed very close to Ernest Hemingway’s first apartment in Paris. Just before our trip I had the pleasure of watching “Quiet Days in Clichy based on Henry Miller’s book by the same name. I wanted to check out the neighborhood and it came about in an unexpected way. Pramida fell sick early one morning and I rushed out looking for a pharmacy. I was in my pajamas and flip flops :) and it is not really nice when it is zero degrees outside. The neighborhood pharmacy was closed so I walked to the main street and took a cab.
The cabbie was this friendly Moroccan guy who went out of his way to be helpful. After several closed pharmacies, we decided to ask for help and asked a cop who directed us to an all night pharmacy in Clichy and that’s how I finally got to see Clichy! When the cabbie dropped me back, he refused to take the tip and asked me to enjoy the rest of my stay in Paris. The food, the beer and the people. All very refreshing.
Just being at the Arc de Triomphe brought back memories of hundreds of films from the 70’s most notably of Alain Delon driving on Champs Elysees. Paris is just that. A cinematic place. A place full of stories. I won’t bore you with the details but you must go to Paris.
It was a cathartic experience and talking about catharsis you should check out Liam Neeson’s Taken. Written by Luc Besson, the film is one roller coaster ride. Like we say in Hyderabad, “kya khatti tha!”
Brussels and Luxembourg were pleasant. I enjoyed myself at the Belgian Centre of Comic Strip Art in Brussels. I asked Pramida to take silly pics of me pretending to walk with TinTin and Haddock. I had waited to see this for over 20 years. I was so overcome with emotion that I decided to get a tattoo of the fetish with the broken ear from ‘Tintin and the broken ear’. I am still trying to figure if it is a good idea. I will probably get it one drunken night. The main square in Luxembourg is very cinematic. I could almost picture a dictator walking out and giving a fiery speech from the balcony!
A trip to Western Europe is like time traveling. The great wars, the artists, the writers, the imperial colonizers. It is too much to absorb, but the feeling is like chasing the dragon.
This was our first couch surfing experience and our hosts in Amsterdam were such great people. We spent the New Years with them talking politics and philosophy (they are students of philosophy) and drinking vodka. My one-off indiscretion while I remain faithful to beer, rum and my new mistress the single malt! We plan to go to Africa this year with Toton and Preeti and I have invited our hosts to come along. Hope we get a chance to host them and make them feel as welcome as they made us feel. Same with Dada and Lena who opened up their home in Delhi to us. More about that in my next post.

Hulla

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008-11-19

I saw hulla the other day and was quite impressed. Almost the same exact thing happened to my family but it was much darker and painful than in the movie. and I had often witnessed my dad go berserk when we used to live in an apartment where my parent’s bedroom window opened out to the street. The window was right next to a shop where the local goon used to hold court. No amount of pleading or threatening worked and the goon even threatened to kill my dad. If not for my mom he probably would have. That guy in any case was murdered a few years later…stabbed in the back.
The movie had a fantastic cast. They breathed those characters and from what I hear Sushant and Rajat couldn’t even rehearse because of scheduling conflicts. I loved the joke about changing the Indian cricket team colors to black and blue. Vrajesh Hirjee was brilliant like he always is. He is an under utilized talent who should be getting better roles. But what a bunch of awesome storytellers. When the movie started for a moment it felt like I was watching a Basu Chatterjee film. My only problem with the film was that there were not a lot of wide shots and no moving camera. Probably it was a directorial choice to make you feel trapped like the character but in my opinion it would probably have made the film more cinematic. But I am nitpicking, the film was awesome. Go rent it.