Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame

Before I went to Cleveland, all I know about that city is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although I am a fan of Boston Celtics, Lebron James never fails to amaze me. But Cleveland has lot more to offer than just Cavaliers. I was there during the Christmas break and I felt in love with it. Besides the normal skyscrapers, they have Cleveland Browns, Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland Indians, Lake Eric shores, and many other tourist attractions. But I never knew the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is located there.

The museum and Hall of Fame is located on the shores of Lake Eric and it has six stories of exhibitions. The entry fee is about $20 but they have a discount for students. So we got in for $17 each. We could see the dresses and musical instruments of great artist, listen to songs which shaped the rock and roll culture, play around with touch screens and learn the history of rock and roll, and see some original lyrics of great songs handwritten by the original artist. Elvis's car, guitars, dresses and shoes are all on display. We can also listen to 500 greatest songs that shaped the world of rock and roll. It's a great experience listening to Led Zeppelin's stairway to heaven, Beatles' yesterday and hey Jude, Midnight Oil's beds are burning, CCR's fortunate son, Bob Dylan's blowin’ in the wind, The Eagles' Hotel California, Elvis Presley's mystery train, and Pink Floyd's another brick in the wall, just to name a few.

They also show how the rock and roll culture flourished despite so many strong oppositions from conservative politicians and interest groups. They have a cafe on the 4th floor (or is it 5th, I am not sure now.) where we can drink and eat while enjoying the lake Eric water body. On the second floor, they have a small shop which sells souvenir. It's a life time experience and I am glad I made it.

Trip of North-East US

It's Thanksgiving break again! Time to rejoice, not because I celebrate it but because I get two week's break. I can do whatever I want and the world will not complain: no date lines, no late penalties, no surprise quizzes and test, no meetings, nothing! It's time to relax from the busy schedules of study and other club activities. So six of us decided to go on a road trip to Portland in Maine, the land of lobsters.

Everything went so well as we planned till we reached Salisbury, Massachusetts when one of our car flipped over and went below the road. Thank God! Nothing happened to us. The process of calling the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the police to access the accident took us quite a while. The car has been destroyed quite badly but I am still wondering how two of my friends managed to stay without even a very minor injury. They pulled the car up and sent it off to a workshop in Boston and we continued our trip to Portland.

It's already 1:00 am and we still have about 70 miles to cover. Six of us used one car and finally reached our hotel at about 2:00 am. We checked in and soon, everyone's fast asleep.
It's already 12:20 pm when I woke up next day. Two guys were still sleeping and the rest were about to leave. I rushed to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, flushed my face with few sprinkles of water, put on my jeans and jacket, and got ready to march with them.

Portland is not a big city by American standard. But for a person like me who's brought up in remote Bhutan, I can't help but jump in jubilation. All I need to do is remove those other American cities from my mind and it becomes a mega city. Over the period of about a week we went to the Portland Museum of Arts, Portland harbor, downtown, malls, and other tourist attractions in the town. The native cheese and beers have their own flavor. We went to watch "Quantum of Solace" and as predicted, I felt asleep. A visit to Portland or any part of Maine is not complete without having Lobster dinner. I tried to go with “lazy man” lobster (they basically remove everything for you) but decided to go for normal. Two huge lobsters and scrambled potatoes made the trip complete.

The wineries of New Hampshire and the wine they produce will make me nostalgic every time I taste a bad wine. The sales tax rate is lower than that of New York and it looks like everything is cheaper except the lobsters. The oceans and lighthouses, waves and sands, seagulls and seaweeds have their own beauty. Having been born in the mountainous country, the sight of oceans, horizon and plains are always more appealing to me than the snow capped mountains.

Once back to my station, I will be kept busy by my professors: readings, homework, projects, test, exams, and assignments. I also bought a book called "The Way of the Bodhisattva" by Shantideva, which is called "Choejug" in Bhutanese. It's a good book and I am enjoying every bit of it. In fact I should, I paid about $23.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Childern of Heaven

In 1997, Majid Majidi directed a film which would be the first Iranian film to be nominated for Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Children of Heaven centers on the story of a young brother and his little sister, and the adventures over the lost pair of shoes. Ali (elder brother) takes Zahra's (little sister) shoes for repair, but loses it on his way back home. Realizing that their parents have no money to buy a replacement, the siblings decides to keep the matter secret. Instead, they devise a plan to share Ali's sneaker: Zahra will wear in the morning and Ali will wear in the evening since their school has a shift system. They go through a series of adventures in trying to hide the secret from parents, attend the school regularly and to acquire a pair of shoes for Zahra. Ali enters a marathon race hoping to get the third prize: a new pair of shoes. Unfortunately, Ali wins the race and receives a cup and a medal instead. The movie is on youtube and anyone who wishes to watch it can, Click Here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Last Lecture

If you could only have one last chance to share your knowledge with the world, what would you say and want your legacy to be? This is the basic idea behind the generic "Last Lecture" given by some renowned professors.

Randy Pausch was a Professor for Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. Unfortunately, for Prof. Pausch it became a reality. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and soon it turned terminal. He accepted to give the lecture before he knew that his cancer will prove fatal. Indeed, it really was a Last Lecture.

He gave a talk about "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" on September 18th, 2007. The lecture is given below:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yak Legpai Lhadhar Gawo

Soe Jangothang, a small village near the foot of magnificent Mt. Jomolhari became the village for Chuni Dorji in 1922. Like most of his fellow citizens of his time, he never had the opportunity to enroll in formal school. He was everything but educated, yet he excelled in playing with words. He spent his whole life herding yaks, singing songs and dueling lozays. According to Kuensel (December 29, 2003), he became the singer and composer for His Late Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk till His Majesty’s Death.
Ap Chuni happened to compose one of the most beautiful songs from Bhutan: Yak Legbi Lhadhar. The combination of the melody and the emotional story it narrates has the capacity to bring tears to everyone who listens to it. The lyrics of the song is as follows:

Soo yak legbi lhadhar zshel legsa
Yak legbi lhadhar lhachu dhi

Soo yak kayyul droyuel shedming go
Yak kayyuel droyuel shed go na

Soo thow gangri karpoi zshaylu lay
Pang sersho khagyel thosa lu

Soo ya metho baabchu legsa mo
Yak rang gi phayul dhiley inn

Soo tsa zawa ganglay zengo za
Chhu thungma ngomchhu tsholay thung

Soo na thruelni lhadhar nga thruel way
Nga laywang che gyi lhadar mo

A rough translation of the lyrics is given below:

Ohh, handsome Yak lhadhar with a beautiful face
Yak lhadhar is like a God's son.

Ohh, You dont have to know about the home of yak Lhadhar
But, if you have to know about Lhadhar's home.

Ohh, Lhadhar's home is near the magnificant white mountains
Where the yellow meadows covers the landscape.

Ohh, a place where the flowers adorns the landscape
That is the place which Lhadhar calls home.

Ohh, I have been eating the green grasses of the highlands
I have been drinking water from the pounds and lakes.

Ohh, it's I, Lhadhar who feels sad
Its I, Lhadhar who has no luck.

[Note: This translation is done by me, so quite a huge amount of messsage is lost in translation. ]

The video above have a clip of Ap Chuni singing the song he composed years ago.

It describes the feelings of a yak, Lhadhar, who was slaughtered for a ritual in Laya. It begins by describing how handsome and wonderful is yak Lhadhar. Then it describes the beautiful environment in which Lhadhar grew into a adult yak along other yaks. But suddenly, all the joys of his life comes to an end when his owner receives an order from a powerful local lord to give Lhadhar for slaughter.The lyrics produced above is what is popularly sung nowadays. The actual song was said to run for more than an hour.

Late Soe Gup Limchu was said to have popularized this song among the mainstream bhutanese people and even today, most people mistake him as the composer. The song is played in the country on radio stations regularly and it made a debut on International scene when it was adopted for Travellers and Magician's soundtrack.