Not Allowed

Posted in Uncategorized on 08/11/2016 by Shup

“You are not allowed to play with me.” my son said to his mom, while in the midst of playing a board game with me. That phrase, my son being two, to me, seemed to be too complex for him to have concocted by himself; especially since I have taken great care not to ever tell him that he is not allowed to do anything just because. For example; when he would want to use my chef’s knife, soldering iron, hot glue gun, or drilling machine, I would explain to him in the case of the knife that it is too sharp, and before he can use it he would need to learn to use his knife properly. He would understand eventually after several iterations and repetitions, and proudly declare, “When Anoosh (is) bigger, Anoosh (can) use papa’s knife.”, while happily cutting soft olives to put on the pizza we are making, with his own knife, much smaller and understandably far less sharp.

It was inevitable that groups of children would eventually say such things to him, but the realization that he had to face and deal with a rejection like that at two brought back bitter memories of my own childhood, or at least the parts that I can still remember. I was the smallest kid, youngest in class, one of the better students, and by far the most well versed in the sciences; a very bad combination in my experience. I have had to face down some version of, “You are not allowed to play with us.” more times and for more years than I care to count.

I did not know how to deal with it back then. My attitude now to such things are, “Clueless peasants!” no offence to real peasants, “Ignorant fools!” pity they are ignorant of their own ignorance, “Off with their heads!” as if that would make a difference in their intelligence.

In any case, by and large I am clueless about what to tell my son; or how to guide him on how to deal with such situations. The one thing that I don’t want is for him to emulate that kind of attitude, and eventually feel that it’s beneath him to be more inclusive and accommodating.

chibi_gaara_by_punkypeggy

Death & Taxes

Posted in Uncategorized on 06/06/2016 by Shup

There is an array of things that I’ve never gotten used to, but nothing tops death and taxes. My earliest memory of someone dying was that of my grand dad, and my latest is that of an old friend, Rahin, who died today after a long battle with cancer (acute lymphoblastic leukemia). This is who he was, through my eyes…

I have known him for nearly a decade and a half, fresh out of university, and a member of my first handpicked team, that I started to call “my kids” at some point. We had a crazy time at work, pulling all-nighters to get shit done, or just to play Unreal Tournament, and later Age of Mythology, over the network. He was one hell of a gamer! Let’s put that into perspective… We were playing all against one, the one being him, and he would still win every time!

In my mind he was the soberest man I have known closely, near the other end of the spectrum that I belong to. Unlike me, he did not smoke or drink; nor did he have any crazy life threatening adrenalin junkie urges. And very much unlike me, I’ve never seen him loose his temper, get angry, or even raise his voice. He had a subtlety in himself that both fascinated me, and made me admire him.

The man was passionate and humorous, with the refinement of a seasoned artist. Who am I kidding, he was an artist!

He never made a fuss about anything in my eyes, not even his terminal illness. His way of breaking the news to me was, “I won the lottery… I think I made a mistake by not smoking and drinking :-D”

His last words to me were, “Inshallah, we shall meet again next time if I survive :-D”, by ‘next time’ he meant the next time I am back to visit Bangladesh.

Rahin, my old friend, you are still one of my kids, and I shall remember you, and miss you. I wish I didn’t have to.

rahin cox bazar 2004

Late Night Fatherly Ponderings

Posted in Uncategorized on 29/09/2015 by Shup

Anoosh, my dearest little Noosh Noosh, you are loved, you are loved beyond how I have ever imagined I could’ve loved. You are my first and only unconditional love. You are my first and only love in perpetuity. You are my first and only love at first sight.

My life, for what its worth, is yours to use, exploit, or ignore, but where ever you are, I shall always be there for you. I was there when you were born, I was there when you walked, talked, and turned one. I shall be there when you live, love, and grow; and I shall be there when you hurt, despair, and fall. I shall laugh with you, I shall cry with you, and I shall have the sturdiest shoulders for you.

Sometimes, I may seem harsh, and at times, even cruel, but I’m all soft and mushy inside for you, and if I had made you cry, I have cried inside already.

I wish I knew what you think, and I know that soon you will tell me, and sooner still you will choose not to. In secret I hope that that day will never arrive.

I felt pride to see you walk, hear you talk, and etch your first sketch, the kind of pride probably only a father can feel. I feel proud of your achievements, more than my own, and I shall be proud of you always.

Whether you play the guitar, sing, or dance, I shall be the loudest fan to cheer for you; and as embarrassing as it might be, whether you play cricket, football, or quidditch, I shall still be the noisiest fan to cheer for you. I am your papa, I am your biggest fan, and in time I shall be everything I need to be or can.

Anoosh, my dearest little Noosh Noosh, you will forever be my little Noosh Noosh, and I shall love you always.

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The cruelty of randomness

Posted in Uncategorized on 14/04/2015 by Shup

Last weekend, I was travelling across Germany, on the ICE, cruising at 200 kmph, while idly gazing outside as the endless fields, forests, rivers, and mountains passed by. When the monotone of the scenery outside bored me, I stared at my phone, exchanged lazy messages with loved ones near and far and watched online videos over the Wi-Fi network.

On the next stop, someone politely asked if the seat opposite to my table was empty. Without even glancing up, I told him, “Yes, it’s free.” As he stowed his backpack away, I noticed that he was a boy of may be 16 or 17 years of age. His movements looked slightly clumsy; having dodged to avoid being hit in the head by something just added to my annoyance, only to be rudely made self aware of my own prejudices when I realized that the object that I just dodged was a foldable cane. The boy was blind, travelling alone, and went about doing his thing like it was nothing.

As he took his seat, I noticed the bundle of papers he had in his hand, neatly sorted, color coded, numbered, tagged and bagged! Another glance revealed that it was a very detailed and extensive travel itinerary. I was both curious and awe struck. I took a moment to gather my thoughts, and said, “Hi…”

That was the start of a very long conversation, punctuated by the occasional monologues from me describing the scenery outside at his request. At times I would describe, the mountains passing by, with white tops, green canopies on one side, and a timeless river on the other; and immediately I would realize how futile I am at describing something to someone who’s perspective of the world does not include vision. I am vision bound, everything I do, and think about primarily relies on my vision, and I do not have a description of the world around me without vision.

Being a biologically fully functional person (color blindness doesn’t count :-P), I am not above feeling a sense of pity towards the occasional disabled person I encounter. This encounter was no different, except that within 5 minutes into the conversation, those feelings disappeared. This boy is strong, he does not need anyone’s pity, and it’s not his limitation but mine.

He had a BahnCard 100, which allows him to travel in and around Germany using any train, tram, bus, or underground network for a year without limits. I used to have one, that’s why I know how it works, but those crazy travel days are over for me now. That particular year I made over 40 round trips around the country, one almost every weekend! This boy is on a massive adventure, travelling throughout the country for an entire year. That bundle of paper is the details of where he is and will be during this adventure. It’s sorted, color coded, numbered, and tagged not for his use, but to make it easier for the less able people around him who rely solely on their vision to get anything done, such as the not-so-blind train conductors, hostel receptionists, hosts, and the random engineers sitting opposite to him.

I salute the parents who have brought him up to be the young man that he is. He was raised to believe that he has no limitations, and therefore he does not. He is doing whatever the hell he wants and doing it better than most of us can. Many people believe in a lot of hog wash, karma, life’s endless possibilities, hard-work-success, to name a few… I am too ingrained in reality to find comfort in such things, and too proud to use a crutch to sugar-coat reality. This boy had the absurdly terrible luck of being blind, but had the profoundly good fortune of being born in a country with such ridiculously good infrastructure, and coincidentally excellent parents. All of that came together to make him the person he is. I presume, very few in his shoes can say the same.

Later that evening, I was looking at recent pictures of my son, his big, beautiful eyes, and thought about the challenges the boy’s parents may have faced and cried a little. Then I considered that I have 2 variables under my control, where my son is born and raised, and what kind of parent I shall be. The first has been taken care of. The second: I shall be the parent that knows his son is perfect, beautiful, strong, intelligent, and without limits, and if anyone says otherwise to him, I shall crush their skulls with my bare hands!

eyes

Life of a nerd

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 12/07/2013 by Shup

What we do all day is basically stare, either at a blank screen, the ceiling, the bottom of a coffee mug, or whatever else it is that each nerd in their individual unorthodox minds find as uninteresting as possible to zone out. Our work habitat is mostly punctuated silence, interrupted by the intermittent groans, grunts, and WTFs of fellow nerds.

We are like cartoon characters with their own distinctive feature sets; some wear their shades all the time, some constantly fidget, some wear their sox over their pants, some chat with themselves, some drink coffee incessantly, some complain relentlessly, and some just don’t care! But there is one aspect common to all nerds, and that is the fact that every last one of us were born socially challenged!

Don’t be fooled by a nerd that seems to be communicative, groomed, charming, and sociable… That is all but a façade… They have probably spent years, in deep dark caves, painfully and slowly, acquiring these unnatural skills to somehow get by in their surrounding artificial non-nerd environments. In reality, the true nerd always lurks within, only cloaked by layers upon layers of onion shells, waiting to pounce any instant.

On a daily basis, we create and solve complicated problems all at the same time; often times these problems have been created by us in the first place! Even stranger is that we create hidden, more complex, problems by simply solving some other problem, so frequently that we even have a name for it: regression.

It’s bizarre, masochistic, and we love it!

We thrive for those “eureka” moments… The first one: when we find where the problem is; the second one: when we figure out how to fix it; the third and last one: when we witness it actually work in reality.

And we live, die, and kill for those ultimate “eureka” moments… When we actually build something anew, and see the machinery at work.

These are the dopamine highs every nerd worth their breath is addicted to. And like all addictions, the next high needs a bigger dose, and before you know it, the rat race continues in endless spirals, consuming the nerd with bigger, meaner, and more intricate mazes to solve. There is a reason why the clichéd image of a nerd is “forever alone”

To prove my point, we even stand in a circle daily, much like an alcoholic anonymous group, to take turns to talk about the problems we are dealing with lately.

After spending a life time with this unforgiving addiction, I finally decided to quit, and live a normal life, but unfortunately I have relapsed… And so begins the next cycle in this endless rat race!

Nerd

Nerd

A First Class Experience

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 07/03/2012 by Shup

Disclaimer:“The events depicted in this article may be fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.”  😉

While flying back home this time, against all conventional wisdom, I flew Qatar Airways back to Bangladesh. My itinerary was Warsaw -> Vienna -> Doha -> Dhaka, with less than 3 hours in each transit.

The flight from Warsaw to Vienna was as expected, and rather event less. Since the flight was between countries within the Schengen region, there were hardly any checks. It all changed remarkably at the Vienna airport. The regular security checks, as annoying as they are usually, turned into a nightmare! I happen to be in queue with all the people on the outbound flight to Asia, namely Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. The close to 500 people, mostly my kin, were embarrassingly ill mannered to put it mildly. Loud voices, and rowdy behavior towards the people working at the check in counters and themselves, were the least of their issues. I truly felt sorry for the counter workers, and mortified. At one point the shoving and pushing from every conceivable direction, and the constant sneer and annoyance at my chilled poise was just insufferable. I left my spot in queue, sat on a chair nearby, popped open my laptop, and started playing “Age of Mythology”, thinking to myself that I had plenty of time to finish a game, wait until everyone else was checked in, and finally check myself in and get on the plane! After all, that plane is not going to leave without me 😀

When finally, the crowd died down, and there were hardly anyone left, I started walking up to the counter area. There were three, an elderly man, and two young (by my definition is anyone who is around my age: ± 5, younger people are kids, and older people are simply old) ladies. I found the one on the far right rather cute.

As I walked closer to her counter, I saw this look of irritation in her face, the kind that I have never been looked at before! It was new to me, and in a moment it dawned onto me what it meant, and how she felt after grinding through 500 of us, in all our raw uncensored egalitarian uncouthness. She must’ve thought, “GOD, NOT ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE! KILL ME NOW!”.

I mustered up my best flirtatious smile and said, “Having a rough day?”, she smiled back and that was it… We talked for the next 5 minutes, exchanged pleasantries, I half jokingly and half seriously apologized, “I’m sorry for all the trouble on behalf of all of us, we come from a very hot part of the planet, and we tend to be both hot blooded and hot headed!”… We flirted a little, and finally she started checking my passport and tickets, and after a short pause, she asked whether I’d wait 5 more minutes, to which I replied, “I’ve been waiting for 2 hours, another 5 minutes is not a problem at all.”

She vanished for a while, reappeared, put herself back behind the counter, raised my tickets in front of my face, and to my horror tore them in half! I took a deep breath and calmly asked, “Is everything alright?”, to which she said, “You’re a really nice guy, I like you, and I upgraded you for the rest of your trip to first class.”, on top of that, she gave me her number and asked me to call her if I happen to pass by Vienna again.

The rest of the trip back home is first class history.

Moral of the story: Be nice, period!

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Be Nice!

Ambition

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 17/01/2012 by Shup

At the age of may be 7, I have no personal recollection, I have only heard the stories from my parents, I dismantled the family vacuum cleaner in the middle of the night because I was curious about how it works. A week or so later I built a miniature vacuum cleaner using 2 ice-cream cups, a motor taken out from an old toy, drinking straws, a toy windmill, and toilet paper for filtering; all somehow held together with large quantities of superglue.

Soon after, I was exposed to my first concept of intelligent life other than human beings through a cartoon series called Transformers (currently there are three very well CGI animated movies derived from the original series, quite entertaining, I recommend everyone to watch them). According to my parents, my first question was to ask how do they work (of course that was the case with almost everything I saw around me), to which my parents replied that they didn’t really know and I instantly decided that when I grow up, I will make walking, talking and thinking robots like the Transformers.

Till this date, my entire life has been directed towards that goal, to learn, understand and research on how intelligence works (currently I’m obsessed with simulations of swarms and how intelligent behavior patterns emerge). In pursuit of that passion I have focused on the sciences throughout my school years, studied Computer Science (for my Bachelor’s degree) and have got back to completing my Master’s degree (again in Computer Science) after 8 years of working in the industry. The purpose of these 8 years was to save enough resources to fund my stay in Europe while I concentrate completely on my Master’s studies.

As I grew up, I’ve been intrigued by science, its methods and the answers it provides. I have been inspired by the scientists and engineers who have dedicated their lives to pave the way forward. I look at the mountain of knowledge piled before me by hard working men and women, some scientists, some engineers, some not, from the entirety of human existence; and think to myself, “I want to climb that mountain!”, understand every nook and carny my little 1.5 kilograms of grey matter can allow… Or at the very least climb to the top of the tiny part of that mountain that is my specialized field of expertise and lay down one small brick… Stand on it, piss around it, mark my territory, and claim that “THAT” is my brick!

Having said that, I need PHD / research funding!

Ambition