mHealth workshop

We hosted a scientific workshop at IISc.

I have recently become very interested in mHealth, that is, the application of mobile computing and communications technology to healthcare.  Here in India, many believe that India’s pressing healthcare needs could benefit from judicious application of information technology. Mobile-computing technology may be particularly helpful, for example, by improving access to healthcare, by encouraging personal health management, and by enabling patient and provider mobility. Wearable medical devices are emerging, to measure pulse, respiration, ECG, blood glucose level, and patient mobility. Handheld devices support clinicians in urban hospitals, and portable diagnostic kits allow remote healthcare teams to more easily reach rural villages.  The widespread availability of mobile phones, and recent experiments with low-cost, long-range broadband wireless networks, bring connectivity to all these opportunities. Read on.

A panel discussion at the IISc mHealth workshop.
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Sun overhead

The sun was directly overhead Bangalore.

Thanks to Prof. John Thorstensen’s excellent JSkyCalc software, I was able to calculate that the sun was directly overhead Bangalore today.

I think this is really cool.  As I live in the north, the sun is always to the south of us. Each year the sun processes further north in summer, and south in winter, but never passes overhead.  Here in the tropics, by definition, the sun passes overhead Bangalore (13° 01′ 23″ north, which I can read from Google Maps) on its way northward to the Tropic of Cancer (23° 26′ 22″ north), and then again on its way southward to the Equator and then the Tropic of Capricorn.  I missed the opportunity, unfortunately, to run outside at noon (local solar noon, of course, not noon IST) to see that my shadow was directly underneath me.  But now it’s kinda cool to think that the sun is north of me!

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

IIT Guwahati

My sixth visit to an IIT campus.

IIT Guwahati was the sixth of the Indian Institutes of Technology, opened just in 1995 with a brand-new campus built from scratch on the banks of the Brahmaputra river in Assam, near Guwahati.  I visited there this week to give a talk in the Computer Science & Engineering department.  [Location] Read on.

IIT Guwahati academic buildings.
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Himalayan trek

Can you see Mount Everest in the photo below?  Neither can I.  We spent six days trekking along the Singalila ridge, the border between India and Nepal, but we were in the clouds the whole time. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic trip and a beautiful place. Read on, and check out the photo gallery!

Family photo at a sunny break during the day. On a clear day, one could see Everest in the background. Not today!
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Darjeeling is most famous for its tea.

We spent three nights in Darjeeling – two before and one after our 6-day trek in the nearby foothills of the Himalaya.  Darjeeling is a “hill station”, created by the British as the summer location for the capital of colonial India (at the time, the capital was located in steamy Calcutta). We visited at the height of summer, in April, and yet Darjeeling was pleasant.  This fast-growing city of 100,000 people clings to the hilltops at nearly 7,000’ and has stunning views north into Sikkim and the massive Kangchenjunga peak (8,586m or 28,169’) — the world’s third-highest peak. Read on!

Seen from Darjeeling, Kangchenjunga is the centerpiece, at 28,169 ft.
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White in India

Lots of people ask to photograph our children.

When I came to India I was prepared for being the only white person in most situations.  I was surprised, though, at just how rare white people are outside of the major tourist attractions. Even here in high-tech Bangalore, even here on the campus of IISc, one can go for days or even a couple weeks without seeing another white person. All that is fine with me.  It’s harder for the children, though. Read on.

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Taxi drivers

It is common to rent a car and driver.

Needless to say, it would be suicide for me to try to drive in India.  Driving on the left, negotiating the game of chicken with oncoming trucks while both sides attempt to use the other side’s lane, and navigating a confusing array of streets and potholes while scooters and bicyclists and cows interrupt your path, is just not for me. So how do I travel? read on…

This is one of the larger taxi varieties, which we hire for longer trips. Ramesh, our driver for this trip to Mysore on Dasara, arrived early to decorate the car with garlands, banana leaves, flower petals on the hood, and temporary paint on the windows.  This was a special treat1
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The third gender in India.

One of the most bizarre encounters I have had in India occurred while I was sitting in a car at a traffic light.  It’s not uncommon to have beggars or street vendors weave through the cars, two-wheelers, and autorickshaws stopped at a light.  The vendors sell fruit, newspapers, toys, cell-phone charger cables, even Q-tips.  This time, I watched a sari-clad woman approach one driver after another.  Each one seemed to give her money.  She came to our taxi… and the driver fished around for some change.  She smiled at me and brushed her hand along my cheek.  “Daahling,” she purred, as she moved to the next car. Um, ok. Read on…

This dancer in the Dasara parade in Mysore, who by facial structure and actions during her dance among the male musicians, I think is probably hijra.
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Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR)

MTR cannot be beat for fast, tasty, healthy pure veg food.

The famous Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) is a restaurant in central Bangalore that cannot be beat for fast, tasty, healthy pure veg food.

Thali at MTR – an image borrowed from another blog.

Almost as soon as you enter on the ground floor you walk through the kitchen – don’t step on the guy who is rolling out chapattis on a wooden board, while sitting on the floor – and don’t tip over any of the bubbling vats (yes, vats) of curry and sambar and rasam – before you climb the stairs to the first floor.  Room after room of long tables, filled with hungry people.  Waiters, barefoot and wearing a striped red shirt and a white dhoti, scurry from table to table with buckets of food.  Yes, buckets.  Ok, they are stainless steel buckets, with stainless steel shovels, er, ladles.  No ordering here – just sit down and soon a stainless steel platter lands in front of you, followed quickly by waiters who slop out ladles-full of delicious South Indian pure veg food.  I’m being a bit dramatic about the service, but that’s the way it is – and don’t get me wrong, the food is great.  Curries, salads, rice dishes, sambar, rasam, pickles and as many dosas as you can eat.  I was having extra helpings until I realized that they kept bringing more and more new things… I can recall at least 10 courses, plus dosas and ice cream and, to finish it all off, fresh paan.  Customers come and go, and the waiters scurry about wiping tables as fast as they can.  They must serve many hundreds a day, very efficient and very healthy and very tasty food.

Here are two other reviews; the first one seems to be about a different MTR location, and the second one has great photos of the food.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.