I need a [very well paying] job in data science. Now.

I need a very well paying job in data science. Now. In Pune, India.


 



Yes, I was visiting Kota for some official work when at the railway station of the [back then, a simple little] town, on a “whim” (borne out of a sense of curiosity, having heard the author’s name), I bought it. That was on 14th July 1987. The stamp of the A. H. Wheeler and Company (Rupa Publications), so well known to us all (including IITians and IIM graduates) back then, stand in a mute testimony for the same—the price, and the fact that this little book was imported by them. As to bearing testimony to the event, so does my signature, and the noting of the date. (I would ordinarily have no motivation to note a fake date, what do you say?) Also notable is the price of the book: Rs. 59/-. Bought out of Rs. 1800/- per month, if I remember those days right (and plain because I was an M. Tech. from (one of the then five) IITs. My juniors from my own UG college, COEP, would have had to start with a Rs. 1200/- or Rs. 1400/- package, and rise to my level in about 3 years, back then.)

Try to convince my the then back self that I would be jobless today.

No, really. Do that.

And see if I don’t call you names. Right here.

Americans!


A song I like:

(English, pop-song): “Another town, another train…”
Band (i.e. music, composition, lyrics, etc., to the best of my knowledge): ABBA

Bye for now.


And develop a habit to read—and understand—books. That’s important. As my example serves to illustrate the point. Whether I go jobful or jobless. It’s a good habit to cultivate.

But then, Americans have grown so insensitive to the authentic pains of others—including real works by others. The said attitude must reflect inwards too. The emphasis is on the word “authentic.” If a man doesn’t care for another honest, really very hard-working man in pain but spends his intellect and time in finding rationalizations to enhance his own prestige and money-obtaining powers, by the law of integrative mechanism of conscisousness that is the law of “karma,” the same thing must haunt him back—whether he be a Republican, or a Democrat. (Just a familiarity with the word “karma” is not enough to escape its bad—or good—effects. What matters are actions (“karma”s), ultimately. But given the fact that man has intellect, these are helped, not obscured, by it.)

Go, convince Americans to give me a good, well-paying job, in data science, and in Pune—the one that matches my one-sentence profile (mentioned here) and my temperament. As to the latter, simple it is, to put it in one sentence: “When the time calls for it, I am known to call a spade a spade.”

And, I can call Americans (and JPBTIs) exactly what they have earned.

But the more important paragraph was the second in this section. Starting from “But then, Americans have grown so insensitive to the authentic… .”

Instead of “pains,” you could even add a value / virtue. The statement would hold.

 

 

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$ 1 billion in new allocations, for serendipity

POTUSes and other residents of the Imperial City do not on a very regular basis visit this blog.

I was, therefore, very much surprised to find a rare bird from that place dropping by at this blog on “Wed Aug 29, 2018”, at “03:21:26” HRS IST, i.e., early in the morning of 29th August.

In any case, “the early to rise…” couldn’t possibly be a motivation here; Washinton, D.C., and India are separated by some 9 and a half hours of time difference [^]. … Ditto, perhaps, as far as that thing about the early bird catching the worm, goes.

So, what possibly could be the reason?

I don’t know. Any guesses?


I gathered from Roger Schlafly’s blog [^] who in turn gathered it from Prof. Peter Woit’s blog [^] that

Moving through the US Congress is a National Quantum Initiative Act, which would provide over a billion dollars in funding for things related to quantum computation.

Alright. At this point, I strongly recommend that you go back to Schlafly’s post, finish reading it, and only then continue with the rest of this post.


Personally, I am not at all against the proposed act i.e. the Act.

It all is American money, first thing. And, the rest of the world sure knows for a fact that America has huge amounts of money. They could easily fund even just serendipity [^]!

So, from this point of view and motivation, $ 1 billion actually looks like a paltry amount. I mean, given the fact that it all is American money anyway.


Anyway, coming back to my concerns (and those of this post), I then pursued the links to the QC skeptics that Schlafly helpfully provides in his post.

The Quanta Magazine article [^] covering Prof. Kalai’s work was something I had already browsed some time ago, when it had first come. This time around though, I showed the good sense to actually pursue the links given in it, especially the links given in this passage:

“… a loose group of mathematicians, physicists and computer scientists [have been] arguing that quantum computing, for all its theoretical promise, is something of a mirage.”

Hmmm… Mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists….

I am not sure if the “physicist” (Wolfram) is indeed arguing against QCs in the linked passage [^].

The “computer scientist” (Prof. Oded Goldreich) has some remarkable insights into the nature of the very theory of QM itself [^]. However, his note is very brief. It also seems to be a bit dated. Looks like it is an informally written and early thought on this matter.

But it was the “mathematician” (Prof. Leonid Levin) who, I found, was truly distinctive [^]—despite his being a “mathematician.”

OK, the way it happened was this. It was only when I landed at Levin’s page that I came to know that this write up was coming from him. Now, his name did give me something like a vague ring—a vague feel that this guy was, may be, a neat / original guy or something like that. But I couldn’t place him immediately. So I did the right thing. I just ignored who he was, and focused on what he had to say by way of regarding the QC as a “mirage.”

There was little trouble getting hooked on to Levin’s write-up. The writing, I realized, was very tight and wonderful. Just how wonderful? I would consider it a great achievement if I ever manage to write something that is written even half one-tenth as well as how Levin writes here. … Want to see a sample? I (anyway) can’t resist the temptation to copy-paste this particular passage:

2.2. Quantum Computers

QC has n interacting elements, called q-bits. A pure state of each is a unit vector on the complex plane C^2. Its two components are quantum amplitudes of its two Boolean values. A state of the entire machine is a vector in the tensor product of n planes. Its 2^n coordinate vectors are tensor-products of q-bit basis states, one for each n-bit combination. The machine is cooled, isolated from the environment nearly perfectly, and initialized in one of its basis states representing the input and empty memory bits. The computation is arranged as a sequence of perfectly reversible interactions of the q-bits, putting their combination in the superposition of a rapidly increasing number of basis states, each having an exponentially small amplitude. The environment may intervene with errors; the computation is done in an error-correcting way, immune to such errors as long as they are few and of special restricted forms. Otherwise, the equations of Quantum Mechanics are obeyed with unlimited precision. This is crucial since the amplitudes are exponentially small and deviations in remote (hundredth or even much further) decimal places would overwhelm the content completely. Peter Shor shows such computers capable of factoring in polynomial time. The exponentially many coordinates of their states can, using a rough analogy, explore one potential solution each and concentrate the amplitudes in the one that works.

… Damn it! Not a single word out of place, and, not a single relevant consideration missed!

… If this piece is typical of Levin’s writing, then I must say that the rest of us (outside of his specialty) have been missing something remarkable.

Go, continue with the fun. Even the title of Levin’s next sub-section—“Small Difficulties”—is delightful.

Oh, BTW, Leonid Levin is one of the two people who independently discovered the existence of the P-vs-NP issue [^]. …


It all still does not mean that I am against the act i.e. the Act.

I do in all sincerity believe that they are far more likely to fail achieving even “just” the quantum supremacy, than succeeding in it. But realize that quantum supremacy is just the potatoes here. The meat is: breaking the RSA codes. No one is talking about that part. (Meaning, I feel sure that the meat is even far less likely to be achieved, ever.)

At the same time, I also equally sincerely believe that, all things considered, the amount ($ 1 billion) is not at all something on which Americans would (or even should!) get worked up a lot.

OK. Some may experience dismay over the fact that more Democrats than Repulicans are going to get employed as a result of that funding.

However, none could challenge the fact that most people who stand to derive benefits here would be your typical scientists and engineers: middle-class, law-abiding, hard-working citizens who place high value on education and culture, why, sometimes even on reason!

Even the worst critics of the bill would agree that these people wouldn’t make for all that bad a company for a dinner. As guests, they may not make for the most interesting lot, but they also wouldn’t spoil the mood of your party with some off-color remarks. Also, it is a fact that while in office or lab, they would work sincerely on their goal—even if the goal is that of building a QC that works!

So, given all that, the money they are asking for isn’t a complete waste—you couldn’t call it “pork,” so to speak.

And then, you can never tell what accidental and unintended discovery might come out of it all. [^]

Yes, American science is weird—not to mention the American post-graduate (called “graduate”) education, and also the American engineering (especially the kind that is practiced on either coast, but especially so in California). Trends in American education, science and engineering are all dominated by all kinds of fads, entrenched viewpoints, prejudices and whatnot—except for reason. (I should know!) The QC is, from this viewpoint, just another fad.

Yet, it also remains true that sometimes, after thoroughly checking equipment, removing pigeon-nests from it, and even cleaning out the accumulated droppings, the signal still remains there—it refuses to go away [^].

Yes, 55 years is a long time to have passed since then, but still, somehow, it does seem to me, speaking in overall terms, that $ 1 billion in new allocations would not necessarily be a bad thing, so to say—you couldn’t possibly call it “pork.”


Another thing. The way I really see it is this way: The more they try to build a really powerful QC and fail—as they are bound to—the better become my chances of collecting a Nobel or two. Whaddaya think?


A Song I Like:
(Hindi) “hawaa ke jhonke aaj…” (“sawaar loon”)
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
Music: Amit Trivedi
Singer: Monali Thakur

 

WEF, Institutions, Media and Credibility

Some time ago, I had run into some Internet coverage about some WEF (World Economic Forum) report about institutions and their credibility rankings. I no longer remember where I had seen it mentioned, but the fact that such an article had appeared, had somehow stayed in the mind.

Today, in order to locate the source, I googled using the strings “WEF”, “Credibility” and “Media”. The following are a few links I got as a result of these searches. In each case, I first give the source organization, then the title of the article they published, and finally, the URL. Please note, all cover essentially the same story.

  • Edelman, “2017 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER Reveals Global Implosion of Trust,” [^]
  • Quartz, “The results are in: Nobody trusts anyone anymore,” [^]
  • PostCard, “Must read! World Economic Forum releases survey on Indian media, the results are shameful!,” [^]
  • TrollIndianPolitics, “`INDIAN MEDIA 2ND MOST UNTRUSTED INSTITUTION’ Reports WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM,” [^]
  • Financial Express, “WEF Report: ‘India most trusted nation in terms of institutions’,” [^]
  • Financial Times, “Public trust in media at all time low, research shows,” [^]
  • WEF, “Why credibility is the future of journalism,” [^]

“Same hotel, two different prices…” … [Sorry, just couldn’t resist it!]

Oh, BTW, I gather that the report says that institutions in India are more credible as compared to those in Singapore.

Do click the links if you haven’t yet done so, already. [No, I don’t get paid for the clicks on the outgoing links.]


Still getting settled in the new job and the city. Some stuff still is to be moved. But guess it was time to slip in at least a short post. So there. Take care and bye for now.

 

 

Miscellaneous: my job situation, the Tatas, and taking a break…

The Diwali is here, already!

This year’s Diwali isn’t going great for me. I am still jobless—without reason or rhyme. It is difficult to enjoy Diwali against that backdrop.


As you know, engineering colleges affiliated to the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU for short) have been telling me that my Metallurgy+Mechanical background isn’t acceptable, even though the rules have changed to the contrary, and say that I now qualify (in my interpretation).

Recently I attended an interview, and it seems like I may be able to obtain a clear-cut answer on my eligibility (i.e. the equivalence of Metallurgy and Mechanical) from SPPU.

The thing is, SPPU has been having no Dean for its Engineering faculty for about a year or more by now, because the Maharashtra state government hasn’t so far undertaken the procedure to elect (or select) the next Dean.

This recent interview which I mentioned above, was for a Principal’s post, and I was short-listed. As is the common practice here, the short-listed candidates were all invited at the same time, and thus, I had an opportunity to interact with these other, senior-level professors.

These senior professors (some of them already active as Principals at other colleges) told me that it isn’t just SPPU, but all the universities in Maharashtra. They all are currently having only an in-charge or acting Dean for their engineering faculties, because the procedure to appoint the next set of Deans, which was due to occur this month (October) has once again been postponed by yet another year.

Policy decisions such as the Metallurgy and Mechanical equivalence at SPPU have been pending, they told me, because the acting Dean can easily say that he has no powers to do that. Though the other universities are clear that I would qualify, if a genius running an engineering college under SPPU thinks that I don’t, then the matter normally goes to the Dean. If the Dean is not official, if he is only acting, he doesn’t want to take “risk,” so he takes no decision at all. Not just the equivalence issues, there are certain other policy decisions too, which have been pending, they told me. The in-charge Deans have been processing only the routine work, and not taking any policy decisions. The next set of Deans were expected to get appointed by June 2016, and then, after postponement, by October 2016. (“achhchhe din!”)

Now that the appointments have been officially postponed by one whole year (“achhchhe din,” again!), the colleges themselves have begun going to the universities for obtaining the professor’s approvals, arguing that faculty approvals is a routine matter, and that they cannot properly function without having approved faculty.

Thus, the university (SPPU) has begun appointing panels for faculty interviews. There has been a spate of faculty recruitment ads after the current semester got going (“achhchhe din!”).

The particular interview which I attended, these other candidates informed me, was with a University-appointed panel—i.e., of the kind which allows approvals. (Otherwise, the appointments are made by the affiliating colleges on their own, but only on a temporary, ad-hoc basis, and therefore, for a limited time.)

Please note, all the above is what I gathered from their talk. I do not know what the situation is exactly like. (Comments concerning “achhchhe din!,” however, are strictly mine.)

But yes, it did turn out that the interview panel here was from the university. Being a senior post (Principal), the panel included both the immediately past Dean (Prof. G. K. Kharate) and the new, in-charge Dean (Prof. Dr. Nerkar, of PVG College, Pune).

During my interview, if the manner in which Prof. Kharate (the past Dean) now said things is any indication, it means that I should now qualify even in the SPPU. This would be according to the new GR about which I had written a few months ago, here [^]. Essentially, Prof. Kharate wondered aloud as to why there was any more confusion because the government had already clarified the situation with the new rules.

I took that to mean that I qualify.

Of course, these SPPU geniuses are what they are, and therefore, they—these same two SPPU Deans—could very well say, in future, that I don’t qualify. After all, I didn’t ask them the unambiguous question “With my Metallurgy background, do I qualify for a Mechanical Engineering (full) Professor’s job or not? Yes, or no?;”  and they didn’t then answer in yes or no terms.

Of course, right in the middle of an on-going job interview couldn’t possibly have been the best time and place to get them to positively confirm that I do qualify. (Their informal indications, however, were clearly along the lines that I do qualify.)

Now that the Diwali break has arrived, the colleges are closed, and so, I would be able to approach Prof. Dr. Nerkar (the currently acting/in-charge Dean) only after a week or so. I intend to do that and have him pin down the issue in clear-cut terms.

At the conclusion of my interview, I told the interview committee exactly the same thing which I told you at the beginning of this post, viz., that this Diwali means darkness to me.

But yes, we can hope that Prof. Dr. Nerkar would issue the clarification at least after the Diwali. If not, I intend to approach Prof. Dr. Gade, the Vice-Chancellor of SPPU. … I could easily do that. I am very social, that way.

And, the other reason is, at the university next door—the Shivaji University—they did answer my email asking them to clarify these branch-equivalence issues. The SPPU is the worst university among the three in the Western Maharashtra region (the other two being, the University of Mumbai and the Shivaji University Kolhapur). [I want to teach in Pune only because it’s my home-town, and thus convenient to me and my family, not because SPPU’s standards are high.]

Anyway, I now do have something in hand to show Prof. Dr. Gade when I see him—the letter from the Shivaji University staff. … At the Shivaji University, I didn’t have to go and see anyone in person there—not even the administrative staff let alone the acting Dean or the Vice-Chancellor. The matter got clarified just via a routine email. There is a simple lesson that SPPU may learn from the Shivaji and Mumbai universities, and under Prof. Dr. Gade, I hope they do.

… Of course, I do also hope that I don’t have to see Prof. Dr. Gade (the Vice-Chancellor). I do hope that meeting just Prof. Dr. Nerkar (the in-charge Dean) should be sufficient.

If they refuse me an appointment, I will get even more social than my usual self—I will approach certain eminent retired people from Pune such as Dr. Bhatkar (the founder of C-DAC) or Dr. Mashelkar (the former Director General of CSIR, India).

Here is a hoping that I don’t have to turn into a social butterfly, and that soon after Diwali, the matters would get moving smoothly. Let’s hope so.

And with that hope in my heart, let me wish you all a very happy and prosperous Diwali. … As to me, I will try to make as much good of a bad situation that I can.


Still, I don’t find myself to be too enthusiastic. I don’t feel like doing much anything. [In a way, I feel tired.] Therefore, I am going to take a break from blogging.

I have managed to write something more on the concept of space. I found that I should be able to finish this series now. I had begun it in 2013; see here [^].

Concepts like space and time are very deep matters, and I still have to get enough clarity on a few issues, though all such remaining issues are relatively quite minor. I should be able to get through them in almost no time.

From the new material which I have written recently, I guess it would be enough to write just one or two posts, and then the series would get over. What then will remain would be mostly polemics, and that part can be taken on the fly whenever the need to do so arises.

I may also think of giving some indications on the concept of time, but, as I said, I find myself too lacking in enthusiasm these days. Being jobless—despite having the kind of resume I have—does have a way of generating a certain amount of boredom in you, a certain degree of disintegration at least to your energy and enthusiasm, even if not to your soul.


So, let’s see. Let the Diwali vacations get over, and I should come back and resume my blogging, telling you what all transpired in my meeting/interaction with the in-charge Dean, and the related matters.


Since I am not going to be blogging for some time, let me note a couple of notable things.

One, the US Presidential elections. I am not at all interested in that. So let me leave it aside.

Two, the Tata Sons issue. It does interest me a bit, so let me write down a bit on it.


I was not as surprised as some of the newspaper editorials and columns say they were. The days of JRD are long gone. The Tatas already were a changed company when Cyrus Mistry took over from Ratan Tata.

Once I returned from the USA in 2001, despite my resume, I never got a chance with the new Tatas (either at TRDDC or at TCS). Such a thing would have been unthinkable during JRD’s times. … Even keeping it aside, what all I observed about the Tatas over the past 1.5 decades was enough for me not to be at all surprised by something like the current fiasco.

No, Prof. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, reading things from where I sit, the Tata fiasco doesn’t do any significant harm to the social legitimacy of Capitalism in India. People—common people—have long ago observed and concluded what had to be. If what the common people think were to be caricatured, it would look like the position you ascribe to the “cynics”. But no, IMO, this position isn’t cynical. To carry realistic impressions about hallowed icons is not quite the same as being a cynic.

Yes, as Harsh Goenka astutely pointed out in his comment in today’s ToI, Ratan Tata’s tenure coincided with the semi-liberalization era: 1991–2012. Whenever you come to compare Ratan Tata with Cyrus Mistry, you cannot overlook that broad context.

I have always thought that JRD left too big shoes for any one to fill in. But, with due respect to Ratan Tata, I still would have to say that no one could possibly entertain thinking in similar terms, when it comes to Ratan Tata’s retirement.

Looking at the facts and figures reported this week, I don’t think Mistry was doing a lousy job. Reading through his letter, I in fact marvel at how well he understood his job—and for this reason, I speculate that he must have been doing his job pretty well. …

Realize, the letter was written within a day or two after an unceremonious removal from the top post of a 100+ years old Indian icon, a $100 billion behemoth. Seen against this backdrop, the letter is extraordinarily restrained; it shows an unusual level of maturity. To expect any more “restraint” is to actually confess ignorance of such basic things as human nature and character. (Sadhus, let me remind you, are known to kill each other in their fights at the Kumbh Mela, just for the priority in taking the Shahi Snaan. Keep that in mind the next time you utter something on nobility of character and culture.)

And yes, I also had come to think that the Nano project was doomed—I just didn’t have the sales and profitability figures, which got reported only today. My reasons were simple; they were purely from an ordinary consumer’s point of view. If you are selling the Nano at around Rs. 2.5 lakhs, just think of the alternatives that the consumer has today: you could get a used car in a “good enough” condition, not just Maruti Alto but even a somewhat more used Toyota Innova, at roughly the same price.

Anyway, I don’t understand these corporate matters much, so let me shut up.


But, yes, knowing the house of Tatas and their brand managers, I can predict right away that in the near future, you are going to see the Tatas announce a product like “Tata Quantum Dot,” or “Tata Silicon Dot,” or something like that. … Why do I think so?

I started writing on quantum mechanics, and roughly around the same time, the cable-less Internet, based on the electromagnetic waves (mobile, Wi-Fi) was getting going in India. So, the Tatas came out with the Tata Photon. Yes, “Photon”. The Tata Photon. … It meant nothing more than the usual Internet dongle (2G, and then 3G) that everybody else was already supplying anyway. (And the Tata Photon never worked too well in areas other than in the Mumbai city.)

Then, the USA was abuzz with the catch-words like nano-technology, and the Tata brand managers decided to do something with that name, and thus came the Tata “Nano.” By now, every one knows what it means.

Today, the USA and other countries are abuzz with words like “Quantum Supremacy” and things like that. You can only expect some Tata brand managers to latch on to this buzzword, and launch a product like, say, Tata Quantum Dot or Tata Silicon Dot—or both!

Tata Silicon Dot, I predict, would signal the arrival of the house of Tatas into the business of supplying the sand required for civil engineering construction.

Tata Quantum Dot, on the other hand, would mean that the house of Tatas had taken an entry into the business of plastic dart toys. Or, the business of the “bindi”s that ladies wear. That is what the house of Tatas would mean by the name Tata Quantum Dot.

And here our policy analysts think that something happening to the house of Tatas is going to affect the credibility or social legitimacy of Capitalism itself in India! Oh wow!!

Ummm…. Does any policy research center in India have any data on the proportion of the private business in the overall Indian economy (including both the organized and the unorganized sectors) over the years, say starting from 1930s? Also, the quantum of the government expenditure in the Indian economy, and its proportion in the national GDP over the same period? Would they care to share it, please? Or is it that they don’t have to look at such data for their policy research purposes? … As to me, I have been on the lookout for data like that for quite some time now, but never could see it compiled anywhere. That’s why the request. Please drop me a line if you spot a reliable source.

OK, bye for now.


A Song I Like:

Since I won’t be blogging for a while, let me give away the “other” song right away, I mean the song which had somehow happened to strike me as being similar to the song “too laali hai savere waali”; see the Song I Like section here [^]. This other song is:

(Hindi) “bhigee bhigee raaton mein…”
Music: R. D. Burman
Singers: Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

I take the “raaga” of the earlier song (“too laali hai”) as “pahaaDee”—or at least that’s what I got from an Internet search. The “raaga” of the current song (“bhigee…”) isn’t listed at any Web site. Assuming it’s not “pahaaDee” (or a variant on that), the question becomes, why the two songs might have struck at least somewhat similar to me—why, humming one song, I very naturally and casually happened to remember the other song.

It would be interesting to see if Data Science can be used to spot (and quantify) similarities in songs. The traditional music theory puts too much emphasis, IMO, on “raaga” alone. But there can be other bases for similarities, too. The sound patterns of musical pieces, I think, don’t get exhaustively (and at times not even essentially) characterized by the idea of the “raaga” alone. Talking of these two songs in particular, the similarity I caught might have been connected with certain ups and downs in notes with a somehow similarly sounding tempo. The style of the tunes sounds similar. Guess Data Science might be able to shed some light on things like that…. It would be interesting, to look into that, no? That’s what I had thought…

I mean, I had thought. … But then, these days, as I said, I am unable to work on this topic, too…  I just don’t have any enthusiasm left. Honest. I somehow finished this post, only because I won’t be posting for a while…

So, there. Bye for now, take care, and best!


[E&OE]

 

Summer, boredom, city skyline, etc.

Boredom. That’s what my life has become of late. … Boredom. … Pure boredom.

Life is boring.

Nothing interests me. Don’t feel like writing anything.

No, it’s not called a writer’s block. To have a writer’s block, first you need to be a writer. And my problem is that I don’t even want to be a writer. Not even just a plain reader. Both are boring propositions.

Life, somehow, has become boring to that great an extent.

Summers always do that to me.


While at IIT Madras, we (a few friends of mine and I) had begun using a special term for that: (Sanskrit) “glaani.”

Usage pattern:

“Did you work out those lab calculations?”

“.” [No answer from me.]

“Ajit, did you complete those lab calculations?”

“.” [No answer.]

“Machchaa…”

“.” [Still no answer.]

The fellow turns around, lethargically. [He, too, doesn’t have much energy left to pursue anything; the heat has been that bad…] … Begins to drag his feet back to his room.

“glaani.” [One attempts some answer, some explanation.]

The fellow does not even care to look back.

The use-case scenario is over.

Currently, it’s summer time, and this year in particular, I am finding it even more lethargy-inducing and boring than it usually is…


Here is an idea I had. I wanted to expand it in a blog post. But since everything has become so summer-ly boring, I am not going to do that. Instead, I will just mention the idea, and let it go at that.

How do you visually estimate the water requirements of a human settlement, say, a city? Say a city with skyscrapers, like Mumbai? (Skyscrapers? In Mumbai? OK, let’s agree to call them that.)

Start with a decent estimate of per capita water requirement. Something like, say, 135 liters/day/person. That is, 1.35 \times 10^2 \times 10^{-3} = 1.35 \times 10^{-1} cubic meters. For one year, it translates to 0.135 \times 365 = 49.275 \approx 50 cubic meters.

An average room in an average apartment is about 10 feet X 12 feet. With a standard height of 10 feet, its volume, in cubic meters, is: 3.048 \times 3.6576 \times 3.048 = 33.98 \approx 35 cubic meters.

Of course, 135 liters/day is an estimate on a slightly higher side; if what I recall is right, the planning estimates range from even as low as 50 liters/day/person. So, taking a somewhat lower estimate for the daily per capita requirement (figure out exactly how much), you basically arrive at this neat nugget:

Think of one apartment room, full of water. That much volume each person needs, for the entire year.

If one person lives in one room (or if a family of four people lives in a 2BHK apartment), then the volume of that apartment is their yearly water requirement.

Hardly surprising. In the traditional water-harvesting in Rajasthan, they would have single-storied houses, and roughly the same volume for an underground reservoir of water. Last year, I blogged quite a bit about water resources and water conservation; check out tags like “water resources” [^].

So, the next time you look at a city skyline, mentally invert it: imagine a dam-valley that is just as deep as the skyline’s height, containing water for that skyline. That would be the residential water requirement of that city.

Of course, if the population density is greater, if one apartment room accommodates 2, 3 (or even more number of) people (as is the common in Mumbai), then the visualization fails. I mean to say: You then have to imagine a deeper (or wider) dam valley.

… I used to be skeptical of residential water harvesting schemes. I used to think that it was a typical NGO type of day-dreaming, not backed up by hard data. I used to think that even if every 3-story apartment building covered its entire plot area (and not just the built-up area) with a 1 to 2 story-deep tank beneath it, it wouldn’t last for even a couple of months. But when I did the actual calculations (as above), I became convinced of the utility of the residential water harvesting schemes—if the storage is big enough.


Of course, as one often hears these days, if common people are going to look after everything from electricity (portable gen-sets, batteries and inverters), water (residential water harvesting), garbage (composting in the house/terrace garden), even security (gated communities with privately paid watchmen), then what the hell is the government for?

If your anger has subsided, realize that only the last (security) falls under the proper functions of government; the rest should actually be services rendered by private businesses. And if government gets out of every thing but the defense, the police and the courts, the economic progress would so humongous that none would bother reading or writing blog posts on residential water conservation schemes—there would be very competent businesses with private dams and private canals to deliver you clean water very cheaply (also via private trains, if the need be)… But then, I am not going to write about it.  Writing is boring. Life is boring. …. So, just look up Ayn Rand if you want, OK?

… Yawns. Life is boring.

BTW, did you notice that boring also means digging, and I was somehow talking about inverting the skyline, i.e., imagining wells and valleys. Kindaa double meaning, the word “boring” happens to have, and I happen to have used it in both senses, haven’t I?

Oh well. But really, really speaking, I meant it only in the simplest, most basic sense.

Life is boring. … Yawns….

[E&OE]