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2013 September 9 [Monday]

Ata tala varnam::Viriboni

A varnam is one of the hardest phase of the learning process in the shishya-parampara (student learning process) within the Karnatic classical school, a grounding in fundamentals of sorts. In my opinion, that intricacy makes them more soulful and complete as compared to. say, a kriti.

Varnam's are further classified into "pada" varnam and "ata-tala" varnams.  "Viriboni" is one such Ata-tala varnam set to Bhairavi ragam by Pacchimirium Sri Adiyappaiyer

Composition: Viriboni
Composer: Pacchimiriyam Adiyappa
Raga:  Bhairavi                 
Mela: Natabhairavi - 20

Type:  Varnam                  
Tala :  Khandajathi Ata

Arohana:    S G1 R2 G1 M1 P D2 N1 S || S Gi Ri Gi Ma Pa Dhi Ni S
Avarohana:S N1 D1 P M1 G1 R2 S      || S Ni Dha Pa Ma Gi Ri S
Bhashanga Raga: Chatusruti dhaivata


PALLAVI:
viribōṇi ninnē kōri ||
marulu konnadi-rā ||

ANUPALLAVI:
sarasuḍau dakṣiṇa dwāraka ||
sāmi śrī rājagōpāla dēva ||

CHARANAM:
chirunavvu mōmuna ||


If you are thinking this is just five lines, dont. Ata-tala varanams are very complex pada-varnams and we usually take 25 minutes to finish it. Yeah 25 minutes to practise five lines of lyrics!

Ata-tala varnam, as the name suggests, are set to a 14-beat cycle, far different as compared to a varnam set to Adi tala. That complexity in beats makes it complex and yet soulful, thanks to the complex svara structures.

They are also used for the Bharatnatyam dance recitals, where the ragam-tanam-pallavi is more intricate as compared to a regular varnam and it could go on for as long as 35-45 minutes, depending on the choreography and the visual story-telling the artiste-dancer indulges in.


2012 December 16 [Sunday]

Happy Pandas

I've always wanted to attend a scientific Foss hacking session in Python and last Sunday, I made that idea come true. So how do you even begin to describe a fantastic Sunday that got over even before it started. Well, that was how it felt in retrospect...  :-)

Having kick-started the Pydata-Pandas workshop-sprint, it was annoying to catch a viral bug the week before the sprint-workshop one is  organizing - talk about increasing the stress levels. The cold weather did add to my discomfort, but could not dent my enthusiasm - I was organising my first event on a whim, at short notice in a new city (country?) where I hardly knew anyone, not to mention it was at the start of the Holiday Season! See what I mean about having perfect timing ... gee, what was I thinking!?!

Aahz announced it on the Pythonsprints site and soon enough Sunday dawned bright and shiny. I reached the Pivotal Labs Manhattan office to find Asheesh calmly sprawled on the ground calmly munching on croissants and sipping Java (err..coffee). We had planned to come in a little earlier incase someone needed installation help. I had not eaten any breakfast but I was more stressed than hungry as this was the first event I was organizing in an alien country. I declined the yummy snacks and nervously wondered if Chang would show up?; ... will all the people who registered show up?; ... this was the Sunday before the Christmas week and maybe everyone may decide to sleep-in or go off on a holiday; would Saturday have been a better choice, or maybe we should not have kept it free - what if nobody came despite registering, what if ....   oh, well..the monkey-mind was hard at work :-P

Disastrous thoughts were stronger than the currents of the Niagara, when Chang and Emily made their appearance and I managed to make small conversation as the stress ebbed away. Things were sunnier when JT arrived and opened the doors, leaving me with less time to indulge my monkey-mind. We all got busy setting up the space for the event, arranged the tables and chairs, checked if enough power-points were available, checked the video camera, set up the name tags, did a recce of the adjoining kitchen.

Pivotal Labs has the nicest open kitchen, well-stocked with a variety of snacks, fruits, nuts and a large variety of drinks that cater to all taste buds. I hate carbonated sugary drinks and artificial flavouring which restricts my choice to drinking H2O, but to my surprise there was coconut water. Now if you liked your pint of beer while coding, the PL kitchen had that too. A big shout-out (Thank You :)) in gratitude to Pivotal Labs for being the most gracious host an organizer could ask for!

Back to the tiny tasks bits, I got a print out of Chang's presentation so he could have his notes handy during the workshop. The machine was a Mac, so ipython files would not work. The solution was a PDF. When you are organising an event like this there may be small miniscule things that can hold up your event so you would need to plan and budget time for them. Someday I shall collate my thoughts on 'how to organise small events' like workshops and sprints in a new blog entry.

A little past 10 AM, I introduced Chang She to the assembled attendees, and Chang kick-started the Pandas workshop by walking us through the Pandas data structures for 1-dimensional, 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional data. He moved on to DataFrame components and indexing, accessing data via files and Databases, Broadcasting and some basic Statistical computations. 

It was not all theory, as all the participants were following and experimenting on their laptops, in part, thanks to Asheesh's excellent "Laptop setup guide", enabling attendees to come with configured machines, making it easier to get going with Pandas. They worked on the small tasks and exercises that Chang gave out as the session progressed.

Soon it was lunch time and Asheesh being in-charge of the food (and the finances), did an awesome job of keeping us well-fed - we had Vegitarian wraps, Egg wraps and Hummus wraps, and Salads. That was the first meal of the day for me and over lunch I got to know a nice group of interesting people; with the conversation meandering around scientific programming with Python, Julia and R-language, different programming environments, our offices, work, etc..

Small talk and big lunch over, it was now time to Sprint - not literally, just the mental hacking kind! Chang split us up into small groups of 2-3 people and it was very exciting to see the attendees pored over their machines, trying to tackle Pandas bugs.  Working in small groups of 2 (or 3) people meant Chang could walk around and talk to each group to help and guide them. He was ably aided by Asheesh who also went around helping other sprinters, answering questions, etc...

I was neck deep in the Pandas code and a flash went off - looked up to see Asheesh behind the lens. Reminded me that I had totally forgotten to click pictures. Having organized multiple workshops over the last few years, Asheesh was an experienced pro unlike the rookie (me) organizing her first event. Pictures speak a thousand words:
[0] https://plus.google.com/photos/113578342347990591936/albums/5823492237517007505?authkey=CIC53t-xnYGVZQ
[1] http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulproteus/sets/72157632277350121/detail/


The sprint went on till evening, when finally at 1745 hours, Pivotal Labs had to ask us to leave. Yeah, we had so much fun that they had to tell us it was time to go home !

For those who love numbers, enjoy these statistics. We had 31 registrations (Capped at 30, but we had a waiting list that accommodated the cancellations.) and 18 people attended the Pandas Workshop-Sprint, with 7 female hackers, which makes it a cool 39% female attendees :-))  Infact, three female researchers had to opt out due to other obligations during the holiday season. The most amazing email was from a person who missed the registration by a few minutes, wanting to drop by on Sunday morning hoping for last minute cancellations. _That_ was the kind of response I would have expected for a talk, never for a Sprint!

Ofcourse, this entire event would not have been possible without our generous sponsors. A huge Thank you to:
* Chang She for conducting the workshop.
* Pivotal Labs, our generous host for the day -Thanks JT for spending an entire Sunday with us.
* The Python Software Foundation, whose generous grant for "Breakfast+Lunch and Asheesh's travel from Boston", kept us fueled and
on track all day.
* O'reilly Media, who gave all attendees a free E-book copy of Wes McKinney's "Pandas for Data Analysis", including a 40% discount on the
print copy of Wes's book.

Thank You Everyone !


2012 December 4 [Tuesday]

Announcing the Pandas Workshop Sprint

Positively thrilled to announce the one-day hands-on intensive Pandas workshop and sprint for new contributors with Chang She - a Pandas core-dev leading the sprint.  Its 4 am'ish and I just finished spamming a few mailing lists, IRC channels and thought I'll write a blog-post if I must be energetically expensive.

You can find the workshop details on the wiki: https://github.com/svaksha/PyData-Workshop-Sprint/wiki/2012-NYC but here is a short "how did it happen in a week recap". Last month, I had attended a day-long "Introduction to JavaScript" by JohnResig, and I enjoyed it. Later, I met some PyLadies and on the train ride home, I felt that we needed to have a proper workshop, core-dev in attendance, leading us along the way.

Given that there was a PyData conference in NY a few weeks ago, this was the place to be at, so I pinged the diversity list for speakers, and of course IRC - The response was phenomenal and unbelievable - People went out of their way to make my wish come true - they tweeted, emailed, chatted on IRC, gave me advice, introduced me to core-devs, volunteered for the event, pinged friends for hosting space, encouraged me to write to the PSF/sprints funding, ... and on and on.

I have so many people to thank that there will be a longer blog post, post the event  ...yeah, the list is long but maybe if I get started now (and my apologies if I have missed your name  ... feel free to gently lart me, its 4AM and I am sleep deprived :)) ...  Alphabetically-ordered XXXL THANK YOU'S to: Aahz, Asheesh, Brian, Carl, Chang, David, Diana, Jesse, Josh Knowles, Krissy, Meghan, Sheila, Steve, Wes.


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