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Nh7 Weekender - Kolkata 2014 review Day 2

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I wrote this article for Top Five Records. Read the original here.

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Read the day 1 coverage here.

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November is a wonderful time to have open air festivals in Calcutta. The weather, after having remained consistently lethal for the past six odd months, begins to enter a rather pleasant phase. The sky is the perfect blue. The heat doesn’t kill you any longer. The sweat dries faster. A zephyr actually exists. And best of all, unlike other places (cough cough, Bengaluru) where the rain often plays spoilsport, it remains wonderfully high and dry all day round.

So when Day 2 of the Calcutta edition of the Bacardi Nh7 Weekender kicked off on a fine Sunday afternoon, it was all smiles, laughter and cheer that rang around the beautifully set up Nicco Park grounds.

I was slightly late to the show that day, and when I reached, the first act had already begun at the MTS Discover arena – the French duo, As Animals. Their music was a rather interesting conflation of electronic and alternative, a…

Nh7 Weekender - Kolkata 2014 review Day 1

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I wrote this article for Top Five Records. Read the original here.

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The independent music culture in Calcutta has seen a long and meandering history. A history that begins back in the 1960s – a time when The Statesman still held the respect and the readership of the Bengalis, when the Communists were yet to form their first government in the state, and yes, when Park Street was still hip.

It has since then, gone into a period of decline, remained underground for a little over three decades, before resurfacing again, just before the turn of the new millenium. Cynics have always been ready to point out that this resurgence of alternative music in Calcutta has sorely lacked the class and exclusivity that had been the essence of the audacious, non-conformist acts from the sixties and seventies. But, the fact remains that Calcutta is, and will continue to be, a stronghold of India’s vibrant indie music scene. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that the biggest celebration of indie-music in t…

Growing and visualizing a decision tree using R

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In this post, we shall be exploring decision trees in R.

Decision trees, as you might be aware of, is one of the most popular and intuitive machine learning models, that is used for both classification and regression purposes. The theory behind decision trees is simple. Say you need to classify a set of observations, depending upon certain factors. The outcome is the response variable, which is typically a class label. So for example, we can consider two broad classes as "Good" or "Bad" and then classify students as either depending on certain factors - grades, discipline and so on. The "factors" are known as the predictor variables, while "good" or "bad" are two outcomes of the response variable.

We shall be using a data set that comes built into R, in the datasets library - viz. Kyphosis.

This data set contains four columns - Kyphosis, Age, Number and Start, and it explores the presence (or absence) of the kyphosis deformation in ch…

Installing RMySQL in Windows to connect R with MySQL

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If you're using the wonderful statistical computation tool R, and need to fetch data from or write data to MySQL databases (or run any MySQL query for that matter from the comfort of an R environment) you'll need to download some third party packages to do the same.

One of the most popular of those packages, is - no points for guessing - RMySQL- but installing it in a Windows environment isn't a very easy task. This is because unlike other R packages that can be downloaded and installed using the install.packages("packagename") from the R console, RMySQL isn't available as a precompiled .zip archive. It needs a certain Windows dynamically linked library (.dll) in order to work, and therefore, while it works out of the box in *nix OSes, it requires compiling on Windows.

Here's how you get around to making it work. This has been tested on a 64 bit Windows 8.1 computer.

First up, you need to have R installed on your system. I'm not sure about the exact v…

The end of a chapter

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Five years ago, approximately around this time of July, I had bid farewell to the city which had borne me for eighteen years to embark upon a voyage of discovery, learning and knowledge.

I had written a post back then (which in hindsight, looks laughably immature, and hence I won't bother linking to it), about how apprehensive I had been - and how uncertain things looked. Today, from the other side of the fence, with five grueling years of engineering and science under my belt, these doubts and qualms seem so baseless, and even stupid, that I wonder what made me harbour them in the first place.

The point I'm trying to make, by trying to conceal my exuberance, behind a veil of staid expressions, is the fact that I've graduated. With a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and a Master of Science in Mathematics. And a First Division in both.

Five years have passed since that day on the platform at Howrah Station, waiting for the Rajdhani Express to Delhi,

... to weari…

Mozilla Firefox wins the game of Easter Egss

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A few months back, I had written a post about what had then been, my favourite Easter Egg. I had stumbled upon it quite innocuously - hidden in the Unix terminal behind the facade of command line geekery, and it had blown my mind, simply because of its tenacity and unyielding nature. Since then, I have looked high and low for more of such bits of brilliance, and (I believe) I have finally found the greatest Easter Egg of all time.

Being a sci-fi nerd, this was staggering - not just because of how I had overlooked it all these years, but because of its all the epicness that it manages to include in itself.

So here's what it is: you fire up Mozilla Firefox, and type about:robots in the address bar. You'll be greeted with a page that looks like this.


The “Welcome Humans! We have come to visit you in peace and with goodwill” is followed by references to not one, not two, not even three, and hell - not even four, but five whole references to some of the best robot-themed sci fi th…

Shadows - a short story

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I wrote this short story for the 2014 edition of Cactus Flower, the annual literary publication of BITS, Pilani.



Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
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The shadows lived in their own gray world.
It was a funny world, theirs. It was intricately interwoven with the world of the humans. Yet, the shadows didn't know about it. In fact, they didn't know that anything could exist outside their two dimensional universe. According to them, everything that could possibly exist was confined to a length, and a breadth, and nothing else.
Since the dawn of time, the shadows had built their own societies around these two spatial dimensions. They had expanded their civilizations, waged their wars, discovered new lands, and overthrown their governments – all the while, cradled in the physical realities of a length and a breadth. The shadows had even developed their own mathematics, made advancements in the sciences, and had almost completely explained all natural…

Wolfmother at BITS, Hyderabad : gig review

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This post was originally written for Top Five Records. You can read it here.

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Wolfmother probably isn’t one of those bands that you can become a die-hard fan of, swear by, and get tattoos done on your forearms to show your unflinching support for. Unless you’re Australian. In which case, apologies, mate.



Because, let’s face it, as the generic rock lover in each of us progresses in age and taste, Wolfmother resides in but a tiny corner of our music collections - coming up now and then in rock mixes and playlists, giving us a substantial amount to headbang to while it lasts and then innocuously disappearing again until its next appearance. Even their Grammy winning single, for example, is largely unheard of in rock circles around and above the Equator.

But all said and done, it’s not every day that a band that can actually boast a Grammy to their name comes down to your town to do a gig. And when they do, you’d certainly be a fool to not give them a chance.

If you’ve correctly gauged …

Agam, live at Hard Rock Cafe, Hyderabad

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This post was written for Top Five Records. You can read the original here.
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The Indian rock scene has, over the years, engendered numerous artists and acts - many of which have given us reason to feel proud of the music that our country produces today. From the pioneering works of Moheener Ghoraguli in the 1970s to the near-virtuosos like Baiju Dharmajan and Warren Mendonsa, Indian rock has indeed walked a long and meandering path. More importantly, they have established and re-established the fact that our musicians have often been able to step outside the mundane mediocrity of Bollywood and make refreshing music, by drawing heavily from Western rock while remaining faithful to their Indian roots.
Agam hail from Bangalore, and they call themselves a Carnatic-progressive rock band. Their music is thus a heady mix of Carnatic classical, set against an ambitious backdrop of technically challenging rock; this is not surprising, as they cite Indian Ocean, Dream Theater and Rush as thei…

Hello Haiku

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This is my first attempt at Haiku.

I've followed the 5-7-5 syllables rule religiously; and I have tried to take a snapshot of nature with each set of three lines, complete with two distinct ideas in each set.

There's a big chance that they aren't very good. If you agree, don't hesitate to let me know. In the oft chance that you do like them, don't hesitate to let me know either.


palms in the wind sway
a twig snaps below my feet
my insides crumble


yon dusty highway
water droplets on the screen
parched soil all around


the dunes are yellow
lone beauty of a cactus
pricks the human soul

the sparkling white snow
rests the sun behind the peaks
the dawn rushes in

the calm of the green
the predator stalks the prey
the deer grazes on

crashing of the waves
a crab walks sideways in sand
all marks washed away

Top five stunning rock covers to shock and awe

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This post was first published on Top Five Records. Read the original here.

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This is an extremely ambitious list.

Not only does it try to select five out of all the good, the bad and ugly of rock covers that exist in the world, but it also tries to include a seemingly wide genre of musicians. As a result, you’ll find everything on this list: from an alternative metal band to a Spanish soprano singer, from an alt-rock super-group to a humble Indian indie band, and from a British metal icon to a classical pop pianist, all trying their level best to recreate some of the finest songs from rock music’s tumultuous past. Hope you enjoy it.

5. Tool cover Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" “No Quarter” is one of those vintage rock songs that reek of Led Zeppelin from the moment they get underway. Yes, it is bereft of any of Jimmy Page’s textbook guitar solos, and yes, it’s not the first song that comes to your mind when you think of Robert Plant either. Yet, it always comes off as a ma…

This Easter Egg hidden in the terminal blew my mind

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Linux users (specifically those who use Debian or its derivatives) would be aware of this particularly bovine Easter Egg that is hidden in the terminal.


So, if you attempt to apt-get moo, it shows you a cow and asks you "Have you mooed today?"

apt-get as you would know, is one of the widely used commands used to install software. A lesser known wrapper tool for apt-get is aptitude, which essentially does the same thing as what apt-get does. Technicalities aside, the big question is - what happens when you do aptitude moo?

When I did try it out, it yielded what is possibly one of the greatest Easter Eggs that I've ever come across. Here, see for yourself.


Tintin and contemporary politics : my presentation at Tintin Conference, University College, London

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I recently had the good fortune of presenting some of my Tintin research at the world's largest Tintin Conference, which was held at University College, London on 10th January, 2014.

The genesis of this research goes back to a certain course that I had taken up in my final semester on campus at BITS, Pilani - Modern Political Concepts, taught by an extremely interesting professor, Mr Hari Nair. (Read my answer on why his is one of the must-experience classes at my college here.)

As part of that course, we had to write a 5000 word term paper, which would be relevant to modern politics. Being a lover of Tintin comics, which had been the holy grail for most of my life, I decided to work on "Tintin and contemporary politics".

Writing that paper was the *single* most satisfying thing that I had done in that semester. And after having completed that course, I decided to take my work forward; aided by my very helpful professor, I found quite a few conferences/journals where th…