21 November 2019

Thanksgiving came early this year!

For a road warrior like me, four days out of seven, home is where the hotel is and family is whoeever happens to be in the hotel lobby in the evening. For many months now, I have been sleeping during the workweek in a Courtyard near our office and the staff there has become my friends and family circle in the evening. In fact, I am on to my third manager of the hotel already but most of the staff has stayed the same. From political discussions with David to learning about tequila and mezcal from Eric to discussing kids and calculus with Lisa … there are way too many fond memories I have now.

Last night was my last stay for this month. I am scheduled to be out of the country with Sharmila and the kids like every year during Thanksgiving. So, last evening, I rounded up all the hotel staff and threw a Thanksgiving dinner. Now, I did not cook at all. And there was no turkey or cranberry sauce either. But the Americans were there and the Indian was there (ha! ha!).

We took the very old tradition and gave it a modern touch by GrubHubbing some yummy Indian dinner! There was Eric from the bar, Samantha from the kitchen, Tracey from the front desk and Alfredo who fixes just about anything in the hotel that breaks down. Had a great conversation with Alfredo about his background from Puerto Rico and his three kids here.

Thank you Eric, Samantha, Tracey and Alfredo! You all (and others in the hotel) make it a home away from home for me every week!! And I am thankful for that!

15 November 2019

Puzzle: Of wine and water…

There is a wine glass filled with 1000 spoonful of wine. There is a water beaker with 2000 spoonful of water.

You take a spoon of water from the beaker and put it in the wine glass and mix it thoroughly. Then you take one spoon of the stuff (mostly wine with a little water) from the wine glass and put it in the water beaker and mix it thoroughly.

You do the whole thing over again. And one more time (so total of three times).

Of course increasingly the water beaker is getting more wine and vice versa.

Question is at the end of the third full round, do you have more wine (by volume) in the water beaker or more water (by volume) in the wine glass and by how much?

Here is a tougher version… what if after the above three cycles, you did the water beaker to wine glass one more time and stopped? (You did not do the wine glass to water beaker to complete the cycle; essentially three and a half cycles). Now, do you have more wine (by volume) in the water beaker or more water (by volume) in the wine glass and by how much?

Instead of putting your answer (and how you arrived at it) in the Comments section, write to me directly in messenger.

12 November 2019

Brevity being the soul of wit…

Over the last two decades, about twice a week, I have sent two sets of text messages to my wife, Sharmila. They have been invariably: “Boarded plane” and “Landed”.

With that one exception two years back when I was so frustrated with my flight delays that I had vented “Emplaned” and “Deplaned”. But otherwise, I have stuck to typing those few words consistently.

My wife, on the other hand, no doubt driven by the realization of the futility of spending more time conversing with me has had an interesting progression in the length of her responses. If progression was the word I was looking for. I reckon regression might have been more apt.

From full sentences of late 90s to this morning’s response, you can see … whatever “gression” it is.

Safe flight. Text me when you reach. Love you.
Safe flight. Love you.
Safe flight.

It is like I have gone from “Max 80 characters in SMS” to “No more letters for you” faster than my flights could decide how late they wanted to be!!

🙂 🙂

3 November 2019

A hard puzzle from India!

Tuesday afternoon, I was all by myself. Both dad and mom were sleeping. Not knowing anything better, I went around going thru the books that still adorn the book shelves in my parents’ house. These are books from my school days. They have kept them still. Most of them are disintegrating – but they are still there. After going thru some of the books that I had studied in high school, I chanced upon this book I still remember for very hard math/physics problems. Written by Irodov, it was a book I had bought from Kolkata Book Fair in 1984.

I glanced thru a few pages. Sure enough, they are as hard as I remember them. There was one that caught my attention as a very interesting one. You can see the one in the picture that I have circled with the red line.

This is a very tough problem until you hit the solution and realize how elegant the solution is.

Here is a version of the problem:

There is an equilateral triangle – each of side length “a”. There are three ants at the three corners. Let’s call the ants A,B and C. At the same moment the three ants start moving at exactly the same speed. Ant A keeps moving towards wherever Ant B is. Ant B keeps moving towards wherever Ant C is. And Ant C keeping moving towards wherever Ant A is. The question is : eventually when they meet, how much distance would each ant have traveled?

Now realize that for every ant, the target ant is moving continuously. So, every ant is continually changing its direction. It is not as simple as an ant goes from one vertex to the other. That is what makes the problem hard.

After thinking about the problem for some time – and not getting anywhere – I posed it to my brother when I met him two days later. Together we spent about an hour in our drive to Kalyani from Kolkata discussing the problem. Eventually, we reached Kalyani and asked mom for some paper and pen. Another half an hour later, we did manage to solve the problem. Excitedly, we pulled out the Irodov book again from the shelf to see if the answer it had given matched ours. It did!!!

This was only Chapter 1 of the book and the 12th problem in it!! That chapter alone had another hundred plus problems. And then there were many more chapters!!

Man, I am way past my prime when it comes to ability to solve these kind of problems.

Anyways, see if this excites you to give it a crack.

If you get it, try the same problem with a square of side “a” instead of an equilateral triangle.

3 November 2019

That familiar lump-in-throat moment of every trip…

Drove back to Kalyani from Kolkata to spend another couple of hours with my parents. The most important goal was to take my dad out for a walk in his wheel chair. Which we did for an hour. We spent the hour aimlessly strolling around in the streets of Kalyani.

Now, he has to wait for another three months when I will be back.

He was too tired to stay awake to bid me goodbye!

Till next time!!

3 November 2019

One last surprise for this trip!

It used to be the case that the first sight of these two young gentlemen reminded me that I had alighted in Kolkata airport. That, and the oppressive heat and humidity.

These days, a far more oppressive thing called education with it daily tests, projects, private tutors and heavier-than-the-kid backpacks has taken away that luxury from my itinerary.

Met my nephews for a couple of hours before catching my flight back to Atlanta. They had no clue that I was in Kolkata!

And that would be the final surprise I had in store for this trip.