Category: Travel

InspirationTravel

The Strength of Mothers

Spending this Mother’s Day apart from my partner and children’s mother, still amazed by the strength and unfaltering love that she and her Sister-Mothers give. Their power is not to be ignored.

Guardian Mother Karl Marx-Hof

Mother guardians

Watching over the River

The original Lady Liberty smashes slave chains
PoliticsTravel

Waiting for a visa

My spouse received her Schengen visa this morning. It was quite a nail biter as we tried to a trip to France. She is a citizen of Botswana, while the kids and I have US passports. Meanwhile, a colleague of mine is probably in a similar condition awaiting their Schengen visa for travel to Vienna from Indore.

While we waited, I tried to get my French compréhension up by reading Thomas Piketty’s blog en français. While reading this linked article on income and class inequality in India, I learned about Babasaheb Ambedkar — an advocate for the rights of people from marginalized castes (the term Dalit is used widely though contested) and by all measures one of the freedom fighters who brought India out of colonialism. His memoir is entitled —  Waiting for a Visa.

The human crises brought about by global climate change alone should dictate the shared international acceptance of open borders. But as this graphic from the UN World Tourism Organization shows, we’re a long way off from Bob Marley and Haile Selassie’s dream of “world citizenship”.

world_tourism

The world’s visa policies evince a lot of anti-African (my spouse travels on a Botswana passport), anti-Asian bias.

I take consolation that some countries are taking the lead.

Openness

We should all be thankful that Mauritius and Seychelles are right there in the top — and that the Caribbean is greeting the world with open arms!

I’m taking stock of my US passport privileges. I’m praying for a more inclusive world.

MathematicsTravel

Calculus and The Mother

Last weekend we spent a beautiful afternoon with cousins at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi

There was a lecture going on about the divine inspiration of Calculus — a meditation on how both Newton and Leibniz came to discoveries of infinite series and limits that led to the starting point for advanced maths.

As I pondered the spirit of The Mother, my mind went back to the visit we’d taken to the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur — an astronomical observatory built around the time of Newton’s discovery. Surely, a society that had the capacity to develop highly accurate astronomical predictions had the sophistication to develop the machinery for dealing with infinitesimal rates of change.

Newton — or more likely Leibniz — was indeed late to the game by at least 200 years! 

Keralan mathematician Nilakantha Somayaji in the 1400s seems to have worked out machinery for dealing with infinitesimal velocity and converging series.

This was in service of improving the accuracy of astronomical calculations. I’m not even sure if Somayaji’s work was used in the Jantar Mantar observatories, but there is now speculation that the Kerala school might well have been known to Leibniz.

Chalk another wonder up to globalization, I’ll give props to The Mother for the inspirations.

Travel

Jantar Mantar

Blessings to my mother-in-law for treating us to an amazing trip to Jaipur!

The place that I can’t keep thinking about is the Jantar Mantar — the name translates to English as ‘calculating instrument — an astronomical observatory there constructed in the early 1700’s by the Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh. 

It’s more like an astronomer’s playground! To behold the scale of the sundials and other celestial instruments is just — well you need to take a pause

The Samrat Yantra (the largest gnomon sundial above ) is capable of determining the time based on the sun position to within an accuracy of two seconds. 

Two second accuracy — 300 years of precision!

The smaller of the sundials (the Laghu Samrat Yantra) is shown above, it was accurate down to the second when we checked. You can see a time lapse video here

The Jai Prakesh Yantra  is capable of tracking Zodiac/Constellation positions measuring altitudes, azimuths, hour angles and declinations.

There is such a rich history of Indian astronomy, so much so that Jai Singh constructed several observatories of similar scale throughout India with no need for the works of Kepler and Galileo.