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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat


July Notes Durable Link to this BLOG
Misc. Notes

My learning vacation is going very well. I have learnt many interesting things about people and the games they play. I am also learning more about dogs, about hitting a good approach shot, and the difference between Common Bermuda and Emerald Zoysia.

Coming up on the list: a trip to the Smoky Mountains, a trip to South Korea, and a trip to Lake Ozark.

Someone actually sent money for using SimplyBlog. Thanks!

I enjoyed watching Wimbledon finals. Roger is perhaps the most complete tennis player of theseyears. His backhand is a thing of a beauty. But my heart goes out for Andy Roddick, who came so close.

A number of research articles added to Kamat Research Database. I have no doubt it will become a premier source of scholarly information on India.

Got myself some new gadgets -- a Fiskars axe, a Nikon digital camera, and a movable artist's model. Currently shopping for a flatbed scanner.

This month's Dignity Dialogue magazine features Amma on the cover. If you get to see a copy, check it out.

While reorganizing my folders I found some old banners we ran on the early days of Kamat's Potpourri. I am providing them here both for reminiscence as well as amusement.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, July 5, 2004
Last Modified: 7/5/2004 11:36:13 AM


Learning Vacation Durable Link to this BLOG
Learning Vacation Continues

I got a couple of nice messages about my last post admiring my variety of interests, so I will share more of my interests today and notes from my continued learning vacation.

The computed text messages placed inside of Gmail messages apparently are not all commercial and sometimes indeed help the reader. Jivha has a screen capture of how Blog Portal got listed inside of his Gmail reader. Very nice!

The problem with playing against a tennis ball machine is that it never gets tired. 8-(

It is different than playing tennis against the wall, where I win every time

Anyway, I am really enjoying my vacation and improving my game. I am getting ready for a challenge match to be played in Seoul Korea later this month, where family prestige is at stake ;-- )

I have written once before about absentia blogging -- that is updating the blog via a preset time trigger (also called "Blog to Future" or Content Scheduling).

Well, my dad apparently wrote letters the same way! After his sudden death in 2002, on Feb. 22nd, I found a letter written to me that was dated Feb 25th! He was quite an enigma.

Two of my cousins, both girls, have graduated from engineering schools with honors. I congratulate them.

But when they tried to apply for a job in India, they were told that five thousand similar engineers had alreay applied for a position in the same company! (I don't know which one, probably InfoSys, probably Wipro)

Amma then consoled me that five thousand still is much less than countless applications she saw people apply for a job in Indian Railways. She said that the Government was ill-equipped to handle so many applications and room-full of applications had to be simply put in jute bags (gunny bags) and hauled away.

One of the captions of our pictures asks, "In a country where college graduates remain unemployed for decades, what were an illiterate, unskilled man to do?"

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, July 7, 2004
Last Modified: 7/7/2004 12:54:44 AM


Off Web Durable Link to this BLOG

A couple of days ago a lightning struck my house. We are OK, but all the gadgets got fried. So no TV, no DSL, no intercom, no glory.

If you have sent me email, please wait till Wednesday(July 14) for a reply.

See Also: The Elements - Photographic Exhibition

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Sunday, July 11, 2004
Last Modified: 7/11/2004 9:20:10 PM


School Fire Durable Link to this BLOG
School Fire

BBC: School Fire in Tamilnadu kills 75 80 kids.

In typical Indian custom the authorities have arrested the principal.

For anyone who has deep understanding of Indian school system, this is no surprise. Most schools in India lack basic facilities like drinking water and bathroom, so I am not shocked that there was lack of water to fight the fire. The wrong is with the society and not with the head-master. Poor teacher, let him go.

Also, this arrest is for public consumption. Who has been convicted in India for the 1981 circus fire (some 300 children died), the contaminated alcohol (hundreds died of poisoning) tragedy, or the terrible Bhopal Gas Leak (three thousand died)?

Dishonest system, helpless population.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, July 16, 2004
Last Modified: 7/16/2004 8:55:23 PM


Memories of Navaratna Rama Rao Durable Link to this BLOG
Random Memories of Navaratna Rama Rao

Cover of Some Memories

I have been reading the autobiography of Navaratna Rama Rao (Kelavu Nenapugalu in Kannada language). It is an extraordinary book for several reasons and just what I needed to deepen my understanding of life, India, and Hinduism.

The author was a highly placed officer in the royal government of Mysore Maharaja (see Wodeyars) and recollects his experiences of governance, reflections of people. Set in the early years of 1900, it is full of fascination and amusements.

For one, Navartna Rama Rao is not a writer, this is his only published book. The prose lacks literary merits, yet it is an invaluable literary work because who else could have told this story?! The author came from a very scholarly and well-respected families, was exposed to law and English (both the language, and the people), was a room-mate of Rajagopalachari, and decides to serve the people of India, as if that is his sacred duty. None of the period literature has the authenticity nor filled with as many personal historical anecdotes as Rama Rao's book.

Secondly, I think it will end once for all, the arguments I have had for years with Amma about role of  royalty in pre-and-post independent India. Like all young people, at all times in my life, I have viewed the royals only with utmost contempt. The book gives deep insights into the distinctly Indian form of governance, of maintaining law and order, of taxation, as practiced by the kings taking into consideration the local customs, castes, and local economies.

Navaratna Rama Rao was a remarkable man. Throughout the book,  he  cites examples of using common-sense and sense-of-justice to make difficult decisions. At every moral dilemma, he digs deep into his own character and upbringing to find solutions.

I also admire author's judgment in disclosing names of towns and people, as it is a very delicate problem faced by autobiographers. Especially since he was a public figure, he had knowledge of a lot of inside politics, inside affairs and I believe he has protected the private matters of common men at the same time exposing the shallowness of some leaders.

Lastly, the author has used colloquial language freely and has apologized for it in the introduction.  I believe that the apology is uncalled for, and rather we must be thankful to Navartna Rama Rao for enriching the language by using so many administrative words derived from Marathi, Persian, and old Kannada.

I highly recommend this book to Indians who are trying to find themselves, or having a mid-life-crisis, or those on a learning vacation.

See Also:
• Book Recommendations
• More Reviews

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Saturday, July 17, 2004
Last Modified: 9/10/2004 12:50:01 PM
Tags: Review


Colorful Mushrooms Durable Link to this BLOG
Here are some pictures of colorful mushrooms I saw on the trails of Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.

Yella Mushroom

Pani Puri Mushroom!
Pani-Puri Mushroom
As soon as she saw this mushroom, my wife exclaimed "Pani Puri" mushroom!

Red Mushroom

See Also:
• Fun With Vegetables
• The Color Red

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, July 22, 2004
Last Modified: 7/22/2004 4:12:29 PM


Greetings from Korea Durable Link to this BLOG
Hanbok-- Korean Traditional Attire

Anyong Haseyo -- Greetings from the Land of "Morning Calm".

Korea is not at all what I had anticipated (well, the part about population density and fermenting beans is true) and I am mesmerized.

I have always wanted to visit Korea more as a student of nation-building (Korea emerged from ravages of foreign occupation and Korean War to become an industrial powerhouse) than as a son-in-law, and I am fulfilling both goals.

Blogged from a Internet Cafe, known here as 'PC Bhang".

More stories and pictures upon my return.....

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, July 29, 2004
Last Modified: 8/11/2004 11:10:41 AM

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