August 9, 2006

discover AustraliA ver2.0

dis cover A us traliA ver2.0


One year is over. It is hard to believe that it has been a year before I landed in Australia. The last 12 months have been so much eventful. I have not changed much; my English accent has not changed at all. I have not gained or lost weight (I checked). I still find it difficult to follow Australian's slang. I have no idea what's going on channel 7, 9 or 10. I have not made plenty of Australian friends as I imagined. I am familiar with just one Aussie family. May be I would've made 30 or 40 Indian friends. I have not travelled major parts of Australia (or even South Australia). Just I had been to Melbourne once for a conference. And when I think that one year has flown in my 2-year research programme, I am really scared. Hardly any months left to wrap up my things here. Wait, I am not going to complain all my things to frustrate you. Some things have been changed for better or worse.

I read somewhere that you are same person as last year except for the books that you've read and the persons you've met [in that period]. I would like to add "thoughts" with that. "Thoughts" that had crossed our minds in the whole period. They make a huge difference to our future. I believe they drive us into a better or worse future.

Short Summary

Then (2004)

Now (2006)

Letters

Blog posts

Books

e-books

Idly, Masal Dosa, Vada

Pizza, Pasta, Donut

Photo Magazines

Flickr

Hi5, Yahoo Groups

Orkut

Libraries

Web portals

Movie Theatre

DVDs, P2P Downloads, Streaming videos

Microsoft, IE

OpenSource, Firefox

During this one year, my English has improved. I have read at least 200 books, watched at least 170 movies (yea, I think I can list them), learned to cook some new dishes (new recipes) and learned to get along with new communities. I am getting used to the 10-minute weather of Adelaide (literally 10 minutes sunshine and 10 minutes of rain. People tell that South Australia doesn't have a climate, only weather!) and four seasons of Australia. My day usually starts at morning 8'O clock (I wish it becomes a habit), after doing some regular duties I will have breakfast (Bread / Wheat Biscuits / Oats with milk) and then catch a bus (there are free mini-buses 'Adelaide Connector's) to the University. Oh I forgot to tell about my lunch box. Lunch box has some bread / chapatti / rice. Nowadays, my time at Uni goes in reading and writing my thesis, occasional meetings with supervisors (he is on 2-month vacation) and state department officials. Then around 7' O clock in the evening I leave to home. I cook some dinner like Pasta / Rice / Chapatti / Noddles and eat. Then read some books (Now, I am reading 3 books at a time Burnum Burnum's "Aboroginal Australia", Paul Coelho's "The Zahir" and Robin Sharma's "Megaliving"). I have this bad habit of starting to read more than 2 books at a time and struggling to finish even one of them.

My weekends are eventful ones. We try some experimental cooking Idly / Dosa /Bajji / Vada etc. Both the days (Sat and Sun), we go and play cricket from 11am to 3pm. Then come home cook lavish dinner Biriyani /Fish / Chicken dishes (Pepper Chicken, Chicken Khoalapuri, Chicken fry). Also, when my PhD colleague "Jacinta" invites for a picnic (once in 2 weeks), I go and enjoy some time with her kids and family. My only worry is to spend the weekdays at least trying to read and write some parts of thesis. So I wont feel guilty while relaxing during the weekends.

Pasta Man

Making Pasta (an Italian dish) is easy and quick. Go to the nearest Foodworld or some other supermarket and buy "Pasta" and "Pasta Sauce". Add Pasta in a large vessel and fill the pasta completely with water. Add some salt and allow it to boil. When pasta becomes soft, remove from stove and drain the water completely. Cut vegetables (Carrot, Beans, Tomato, Onion, Potato, Cauliflower, Mushroom, Peas, whatever you like) and fry it with two table spoons of oil in large pan (large enough to fit all pasta!). Add pasta and mix it well. Now, after few minutes, add pasta sauce and mix it. Now, your Pasta is ready to eat. Serve hot.

SA Central - Flickr Community

When I saw some great photos of South Australia, I decided to see this State before my 2-year research gets over. Before that, I wanted to gather (gone crazy?) some great photographs of South Australia at one place. At that time, I was getting addicted to Flickr – an online photo sharing website. So, I created a community named "SA Central" – a stop for all great photos of SA (and photographers as well!). After one year, we have nearly 1000 photos and 93 (that's a huge number in any community here!) photographers. And the great thing is we have met once (last month) to get to know each other. I met some of the great photographers and learnt so much from them in that 3-hour meet. What? You haven't seen our community? Come and visit us at SA Central @ Flickr

Adelaide Students

Indian students are the second largest (After Chinese students) overseas student community in Australia. That means, many universities like "University of South Australia" survive or thrive on fees paid by Indian students [OK, a fraction of that money, I get it back to India ;-)]. Adelaide is a perfect place for study because, a student studying in Adelaide (South Australia comes under Regional Australia – i.e., non-urban category) gets those extra five migration points which others wont get. So, it is easy to get a Permanent Residency and Citizenship. Because of this advantage, many Indian students literally flock the three South Australian universities. There are more goodies that favour Adelaide. Student concession in public transport, cheap accommodation and living costs etc makes student life lot easier. We are online now.

Where did we come from?

As soon as I saw the native Australians I knew there is some "link" between South Indians and these Natives. If you call them by the name, "Aborigines", they would get offended…so natives. And why not they are really natives of this land aren't they? Also, I would like to call them the "original Australians" as Burnum Burnum (an original Australian!) mentions in his book "Aboriginal Australia". Look at the photo of this native (Courtesy: National Museum, Canberra). Skin Colour (Black or Dark Brown), Facial features (though they may look primitive to us), Hairstyle etc say they might be our ancestors. I didn't hear them speak, but the names of places like Bundjalung, Ngarrindjeri, Dundalli, Baryulgi reminds me some of Tamil, Kannada or Telugu names.


So, the big questions are... Did we originate here? Or did we belong to the same land and then Australia got separated? What are the connections between Dravidians and these Natives? These are my (personal curiousness and nothing to do with my Official research) research questions now I am exploring. This is of my own interest and I am reading, looking for some evidences to understand what would've happened. If you got some assumptions, ideas about these matters, you know whom to contact, OK?

Vision of Charity

One good thing I am doing (I didn't tell this to anyone till recently!) is that I am sponsoring (through WorldVision) a little girl's education in a small country in Middle America., Ecuador. So, why that girl? I wanted to start in a small way. And when I looked to sponsor she was the one who was waiting for an aid for "long time". So, I chose her and I am contributing $50 a month for her education. It is almost one year now. I am really happy to have received few letters (sent some greeting cards, stickers etc to her) from her. Her name is Heidy Lisbeth. Age 10. Oh sorry, 11 she is celebrating her birthday on September. I sent a birthday greeting to her. Well, I have get her photo. But, we have to respect her privacy. Shouldn't we? And if you want to wish for doing such charity works, sponsor a child or do visit a charity organisation and donate. I will be proud of you.

I believe that this difference in "currency rates" is a great advantage for helping third-world countries. One dollar coin is so easily affordable in USA or Australia or Britain (Pound), but when it reaches, Africa or India or any other developing country, it has a good value (at least 30 times). So, I am thinking of creating a vision of getting these small dollars to the people (living in African or Asian countries) who need them most. Such drops would make a big difference in their lives, I hope. Ideas are needed here as well. Any one willing to join me in this mission?

Australian Cinema

There are no aussie directors who are rocking in Hollywood. But, wait. They have got some quality directors who make some exceptional film (thank god, with a little budget!). "Saw" and "Saw 2" are two such well-known horror flicks made by two young blokes (story & direction) from Australia that rocked (a little) Hollywood. Now they are making "Saw 3". In case, if you haven't seen SAW movies, let me tell you how their one lines go. Few strangers wake up in an unknown room locked or chained. They would be given a task (like cutting their legs or piercing their stomach) in order to let themselves free. The moral is to teach how valuable human life is and how one should not waste it by going on drugging or any bad habits. Both films end with a sharp "M Night Shyamalan" type climax twist. Another small horror movie that did make little waves was "Wolf Creek" – a small group of tourists visit a place in the outback Australia and loose their way and battery in the car. They are being approached by a stranger who wants to help them by towing their car. Before they could realise, they are in grave danger and the story tells what happens to everyone.

"Ten Canoes" - a film that changed my opinion about Australian Cinema. Just phenomenal! It is a story of native Australian people, told by a native Australian and in their own language. The movie spans thousands of thousands of years back and forth and shares the beliefs and customs shared by the community people. It revolves around a elder man who has three wives and his unmarried brother who eyes on his brother's youngest (third) wife. To teach him some good ethics, the elder man tells a similar story which happened thousands and thousands ago. It traverses back and forth between colour and black and white. What a beautiful way of story-telling. Amazing story. Brilliant movie!!

What..? Are you NOT doing PhD?

Yeah, I am doing only Masters (2 year research)! But if you look at my university phonebook or staff page (since I am being paid by Australian Govt. and Adelaide University) it has been put "PhD Student". I felt good when it mentioned, accidentally as PhD. So, I didn't want to change. I initially wanted to extend it to PhD (adding one more year – so 3-year PhD). But, it is tough. I mean sitting and studying, thinking and writing (how did you all guys do it?) a thesis. So, I am NOT in a race to do PhD. Now, I am concentrating on finishing (or starting and writing chapters) my thesis faster and better. So, when I finish, I would give it a shot for a PhD upgrade. If they say "OK", I would be taking up the PhD. At last, my father and mother will be proud of making their dreams come true by becoming a "doctor" as well (I wished to become an Engineer!). Otherwise, I am not going to sit for another 3 years for it. I will feel happier (;-)) if they don't approve my upgrade.

So, what's your research all about?

A difficult question to answer (at least till I finish and submit my thesis!). OK, here it goes. A simple one-line version is that I am trying to create a "crop expert" who can look at a land's characteristics and suggest best suitable crops that can be grown in that land. In creating this, I collect knowledge from human experts and use A.I. (Expert System) techniques to create a machine equivalent (in the form of a Decision Support Software) of those crop experts. The practical part is that I am developing for a South Australian Government Department. Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation (yea, DWLBC they have shortened it to pronounce it as "Wallabie". So, that's to show how lazy Australians are!). I am trying to balance between some "original contribution" to body of knowledge as well as "practical purpose" of developing software. I don't know how it is going to develop still. Just 6 months left. But, you know what I might probably do it before those 6 months. Don't you?


99% Online 1% Offline

I am an Internet Addict. I have become one. It has become my breath. I spend at least 99% of my life online. And I regret that there is no such thing "Google" in real-life (offline life!). I wish what if I could "Google" people (names, faces, birthdays or their thoughts) whom I meet daily. I really regret. But, the usual websites those I visit daily range from 40 to 50. I surf them in just less than an hour. Then the cycle starts again, and again and again. Ok, the list is endless, bu they include (not restricted to).. adelaide.edu.au, sensis.com.au, microsoft.com, flickr.com, gmail.com, wikipedia.com, oreilly.com, mit.edu , orkut.com, del.icio.us , dig.com, news.google.com, blogger.com, spaces.msn.com, fotolia.com, adsense.google.com, reader.google.com, labs.google.com, itconversations.com , apple.com/trailers, scirus.com, sciencedirect.com, scholar.google.com , esnips.com, eodirectory.com, un.org, dgroups.org, fao.org, live.msn.com , earth.google.com, directionsmag.com, css.cornell.edu, tamizhmanam.com, thenkoodu.com, vikatan.com, kumudam.com, indiaglitz.com and I am counting. I thought some of websites I visit may be of some interest or usefulness to others, so I started another (aaww)blog named 1001 Fun things to do Online.

Sleep…Over!

I am sleeping for at least 8 hours. I fall asleep as soon as I hit bed. That means I am healthy. But the problem is I am sleeping not less than 10 hours some days (ok, 6 days a week!). I have asked for assistances, ideas, tips from all over. I am having disturbing dreams during my sleep. Sometimes, those beautiful days I spent in Bangalore, or sometimes my future comes in my dreams. I started noting down them to know if they "try to tell" something to me. But the "dreams interpretation" is a big, big field and not less than a dozen books exist only to confuse me. So, I left that habit of taking note of my dreams. I am thinking of consulting a doctor for my oversleeping habit.

What do you reckon? Better, I would go and sleep now!!

See you next time,
Cheers,
Thiru.Murugan

Note: By hearing all these things, one of my friend asked me, 'How do you get time for doing so many things?', to which I said, 'I dont study, thats why!'. And also, come to study abroad in a scholarship, you can do 1001 things (minus study!).

3 comments:

JDM A. said...

Good reads... :)

peerlessdeepaks said...

Nice to see a guy from Kallakurichi to be in Australia..

Where are you in Kallakurichi?

I too belong to the same place..
Just drop me a mail at deepak.pandian@hcl.in

peerlessdeepaks said...

Nice to see a guy from kallakurichi in Aussie univ..

I too belong to that place,.
Just drop me a mail at deepak.pandian@hcl.in