Ann Arbor

My year in cities, 2009

To continue the tradition of two years (2007, and 2008), here is a list of cities I have been in 2009. It seems quieter than the last few, but I realized some of them were multiple trips and extended stays. I hope 2010 is a longer list!

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Bay Area, CA (Sunnyvale, Mountain View, etc)
  • Assilomar, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Providence, RI
  • Paris, France
  • Lyon, France
  • Boston, MA
  • Detroit, MI
  • Ann Arbor, MI

Tony Rosenthal, 1914 -- 2009

Michigan Today has a slideshow tribute to Tony Rosenthal, abstract artist and sculptor, who passed away this July. A Michigan alum, I know of him primarily from his Rosenthal Cubes, a pair of identical 15-foot cubes called Endover and Alamo. Endover is located near on Central Campus in Ann Arbor, while Alamo is located at Astor place in Manhattan, New York.

I think the difference between the two is that the New York cube has a platform and is a little harder to spin (yes, I’ve spun both!). I still find it amazing that the 41-year old sculptures are fully functional despite being exposed to the elements for so long.

My year in cities, 2008

This year was less crazy than last year . Nonetheless, here is a list of cities I have visited in the year 2008:

  • Seattle (+Bellevue +Redmond)
  • Traverse City, MI
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
  • Mumbai
  • Delhi
  • Kolkata
  • Fairfield, CA
  • San Francisco
  • Mountain View, CA

And of course, home snowy home:

  • Ann Arbor, MI

Here’s wishing all my dear readers a wonderful and happy new year ahead!

Magic Bus for the iPhone

The Magic Bus project at our school enables students to track all the buses on the university bus system in real time, using GPS. They have a really cool Google Maps mashup, with little blue buses crawling around Ann Arbor’s map. Since these interfaces are quite detailed and javascript heavy, they don’t really lend to a great user experience on the iphone (actually, i dont even know if the mashup works on the iphone).

Enter Magic Bus for the iPhone, available at

This web-app simply takes the Magic Bus data feed and reformats it in an iPhone-friendly manner. Each route is listed in a section with its stops, and the number of minutes until the next bus (and the ones after them) at that stop.


Tap on “prefs”, and you can pick and choose only the routes and bus stops you are interested in, since it’s a little unwieldy to see 43 bus stops and 9 routes at the same time. (This also makes the load times faster)


Ironically, I wrote this almost a year ago; I just didn’t have the time to document it and tell people about it. Hopefully, people will use it now!


The Dalai Lama visits Ann Arbor

Tenzin Gyatso, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and the 14th Dalai Lama delivered the annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability at the Crisler Arena last Saturday. This was his second trip to Ann Arbor, the last one was in 1994.

I was woken by a phone call from Akash, informing me that he had an extra ticket to the Dalai Lama show, and wanted to know if I was interested in coming. I jumped at the offer, it is always fun to see famous people. Given that these tickets were extremely rare and were selling at absurd amounts of money on Craigslist; I’m not sure if I should be grateful to Akash or rebuke him for his choice of ticket recipient.

Walking to the Crisler Arena was fun; throngs of people dressed in their hippiest — for some reason Bob Marley t-shirts, flowing handloom skirt and jute sandals were appropriate fashion decisions for a lot of people that day. It reminded me of the Harry Potter book releases; I saw a middle aged woman with short white hair walk by me wearing the maroon and orange monk clothing that the Dalai Lama always wears. I find it quite amusing how rastafarianism, sprituality, liberalism and fantasy are seem to occupy the same space in the brain of some people, entwined into a singular non-conformist happy-thought.

In stark contrast to this crowd were the slowly growing crowds of the Chinese protesters, conspicuously dressed in “Keep Olympics 2008 out of politics” t-shirts. Considering the huge furore over Tibetan and human rights protesters sabotaging almost every Olympic Torch rally, I had expected this. Many of them had tickets and made a concerted effort to be as visible as possible during the event, the rest were outside holding signs that said STOP LYING, driving around the arena with the Chinese flag flown as a mark of solidarity. The message was clear — as a friend’s Facebook status read, “Tibet was, is and always will be a part of Mainland China”.

The arena was packed; and the event started with a group of flautists playing random “spiritual sounding” tunes; which was nice, except that if I recall correctly, one of their tracks was the background score of some Indian-esque movie I can’t put my finger on, while another was a film song depicting a rather pubescent Sunil Shetty crooning over the delicious Shilpa Shetty. But hey, whatever gets you in the mood.

We then had some words by the head of the host-department and the President of the University Mary Sue Coleman, who then invited the Dalai Lama to talk.

So, what did I think of the speech? A lot of people asked me if this was a life-changing experience for me and whether I was moved by the greatness of the man and his words. To be honest, what really impressed me was not His Holiness’s words; but, wrong or right, the solidarity shown by the Chinese people to defend their country’s image against the Free Tibet media machine.

For those interested in watching the speech, here’s the video of the event:

image credits: IShutterTothink, alexander, heathzib and MLive.

update: Old friend Anita has some interesting commentary from the other side of the planet.

training starts today!

Now that VLDB insanities, and St. Patrick’s Day’s festivities are behind us, I begin my uphill climb towards getting rid of all the evil life-shortening substances I have put in my body over the last few months. The goal is to not embarrass myself at the Dexter-Ann Arbor 10K run, which is on the 1st of June. I have 2 months and 12 days to do this; so hopefully this isn’t an impossible task.

The plan is to detox and switch to a strictly healthy diet first. So dear friends, if you ever see me eating anything that says “McDonalds” or “Milky Way” on it, please feel free to slap me in the face and shake some sense back into me. That’s what friends are for, after all. The second plan of attack is to start running Monday, Wednesday, Fridays along with strength exercises, and go swimming Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays. Sunday is rest day. For March, let’s keep running at 3 miles a day, and 500m swimming. Thankfully I’ve been doing 60 push-ups everyday already, and have been running once in a while, so my body should not collapse by April.

To be honest, I’m not looking forward to the sugar and fried food cravings. But I’ll do anything for a T-shirt, and this should be worth the trouble. Expect weekly updates on this front!


status update

Greetings beloved readers! I am finally back in Ann Arbor, returning to grad school and a sane life. Regular commentary resumes henceforth!


in india!

Temperature in Delhi: 26 degrees Celsius
Temperature in Ann Arbor: -11 degrees Celsius

Feels good to be back :)


Barenaked Ladies at Ann Arbor

Barenaked Ladies are coming down to Ann Arbor, and will perform at Borders, on Wednesday October 4th, half past noon.


detroit to ann arbor

Apparently commuting from Detroit to Ann Arbor is possible by Amtrak.