Kaushal Kurapati\’s blog

Thoughts on Search, Technology and Management

Archive for May, 2006

Pather Panchali – review

Posted by kaushalkurapati on May 17, 2006

We watched Pather Panchali on DVD recently. It got me thinking whether Satyajit Ray ever thought he would get the kind of world acclaim with this first movie as he got.

The movie is very earthy, engaging and the characters are endearing. I think more than anything else I would say that Ray masterfully built the characters so much to the point that you knew what to expect out of them. On the one hand the poverty is heart wrenching and at the same time you can enjoy the movie through the simple pleasures the characters experience: the simple minded and affectionate Durga, Apu and his sweet antiques with bow and arrow, etc. The lady who played the mom was brilliant in her portrayal of basic family emotions and to think of it that none of them ever acted before (except the old grand-ma), speaks volumes about Ray's cinematic ability.

Ray captures the family live in the village perfectly; it never feels like there is anything artificial about the film and thats probably why this film got the accolades it did. All the actors 'live' in their roles and not for one second it seems like they are acting. Thats the reason they become endearing and one can associate with them easily. All in all a good movie experience.


Posted in Movies | Leave a Comment »

Distinguished Alumni Award 2006, University of Delaware

Posted by kaushalkurapati on May 1, 2006

The department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Delaware decided to confer upon yours truly a Distinguished Alumni Award for the year 2006. This is a trip report on the same. We drove down to Delaware after work Thursday night after having a meal at Malabar in Edison. Its a short hike down, 2 hours on NJTP. UD put us up in a nice Marriott Courtyard in Newark, DE. Friday, Rama and I worked from the hotel room. Friday morning I went down to main street and got some breakfast from my old stomping ground, Brewed Awakenings. KT Anand and I used to hang out here way back in 1994-1995. The bagel was great and so was the trip down memory lane. The Business and Careers Conference started at 1 pm with Chairman Tom Buchanan's speech on the past, current, and future of Mechanical Engineering. He had some interesting photographs of old UD and Engineering buildings from the turn of the previous century (1890s)!

Friday afternoon we went out to roam around UD campus; it was looking absolutely gorgeous. It was in sunny and mid-60s that day and the grass was lush green. We wandered around campus and then went to an antique store on main street, where we got a beautiful flower vase, a statue of a beautiful, well dressed girl, and a collection of Indian stamps! I never knew that India had issued a stamp on Michael Angelo and the famous painting in the Cistine Chapel. After acquiring these treasures, we returned to the room, got dressed up — yours truly in a suit — and made the 30-second hike to the Clayton Hall where the conference was being held.

During a cocktails session I went and said hello to Dr. Mike Greenberg and Dr. Suresh Advani. After the brief interaction session we were led into a large arena with formal dinner tables laid out. Rama and I were at table 5 in the front row at the right end of the row, right in front of the presentation podium. Dr. Wilkins and Pat Reynolds (UD alum who won the Distinguished Alumni award last year) were at our table as well. The dinner setting was very formal yet relaxed. As we approached desserts, our MC took the podium and the awards ceremony started.

I was called 4th to the podium to receive the award. Others included Teri Kelly, CEO of W. L. Gore & Associates! All of us were asked to make brief remarks. Here is what I said:

When I got news of this award, I almost felt like it was spam. Like the kind that says you won this trip or a million dollars and just give your credit card number to secure it! But they weren't asking me for my credit card number, so it started feeling real!

The audience responded fairly well to this 'joke' opening, which was encouraging. So I went on…

Of course this is special and this is as real as it gets. I am humbled by this honor and for placing me in such august company. I thank the University of Delaware and the Department of Mechanical Engineering for bestowing this honor upon me. UD was my first home in the United States when I came from India so this honor is doubly special.

We were asked to remark today on lessons learnt. Frankly I have a lot to learn still and achieve, like my earlier co-recepients of the award. To people younger than me however, I can offer a brief anecdote. As I took a trip down memory lane for this today one thing stood out – the very first assignment Dr. Prasad asked of me. He asked me to develop a fluid flow visualization software for the experimental data we were generating. I had no clue at the time how to write decent programs, let alone graphics software. So I was completely put out of my comfort zone and had to think outside the box. I ended up learning so many new programming paradigms that summer that in hindsight this was a boon. I discovered the Mosaic web browser, for those of you old enough to remember that. I figured out that I have a passion for computers and the Internet in general and it was gotten me to where I am today.

So the lessons are that, go outside your comfort zone and try to think outside the box and you will end up learning many skills that you never thought you had. Finally, like Teri remarked, find your passion. I see one thing common in successful people and that is passion, passion, passion!

I would like to end on a note of personal thanks to Dr. Prasad for letting me pursue my interests. I would like to thank my parents for everything and for instilling in me a sense of importance of education. Finally I would like to thank my wife, Rama, for her friendship and reminding me of my skills when I tend to forget them. Thanks!

A photographer took my picture with the department chair Tom Buchanan. For the award itself my name was engraved on a grey stone plaque. The department created another plaque with all the recepients names on it; that will be kept in the department permanently.

There was a wonderful keynote address by Dr. Jerry Kagelman of NASA (another UD alum), on the Columbia disaster (Feb 2003: the one in which Kalpana Chawla perished). He went into detail on how NASA went about investigating the disaster, a mind-boggling effort. They picked up about 37% of the shuttle in all, over a 2000 mile stretch (larger than the state of Delaware) in South Texas. It turns out that in all the shuttle missions till now a small piece of a foam had been coming off as the shuttle blasted into orbit but it never hit the leading edge till that unfortunate mission. Even though the foam is a relatively light weight piece, it is travelling at 600 mph, which makes the hit lethal. Dr. Kagelman also talked about the next generation of space vehicles being looked at. It seems that they are going to return to a capsule design reminiscent of the Apollo days.

The function ended around 9:30 pm and we returned to our hotel in a minute.

My profound thanks to the University of Delaware, Department of Mechanical Engineering for choosing me for this award.  

Posted in Career, Miscellaneous | 1 Comment »