VIDEO: DEVIKA CHAWLA ON ENGINEERING AND MUSIC

Meet Devika Chawla, Engineering Director at Netflix and a music composer and singer. I sat down with her to find out how she developed and nurtured her interests in science, especially computer programming and music from a young age.How did her parents help shape her interests? Why did she elect to study computer engineering at George Town University? What brought her to Silicon Valley in the 1990s?How did she get to work with Hans Zimmer for Apple’s iMovie app? How does she balance her passion for computer engineering and music?

Chawla is trained in Indian classical (Hindustani) music. She has released a handful of music records and worked with various musicians like Bohemia, a San Francisco Bay area rapper and Amaan Ali Khan & Ayaan Ali Khan, sarod musicians from India.

This TV interview aired in the US and is part of our Women in Science & Tech series  sponsored by Zoho Corp.

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LEONARD COHEN’S VISITS TO INDIA AND BUDDHISM

Singer-songwriter and novelist Leonard Cohen died in his sleep in Los Angeles on November 7, 2016. He was 82 years old.

Cohen’s “dry, monotone voice…provided a rarefied alternative to more accessible troubadours, employing meticulous language to plumb the vagaries of the human condition,” writes Joseph Cerna of Los Angeles Times. And, Cerna is absolutely right. When you first listen to Cohen’s songs it is that dry, monotone voice that strikes you. And, you wonder what is this fuss all about? What is so special about Cohen’s music? But, when you start listening to the words you realize why so many people are drawn to his music. He had a way with words is a pedestrian way of describing Cohen’s great facility with words.

He was “high priest of pathos.” and “The Godfather of Gloom,” writes Nick Paton Walsh in a 2001 article in The Guardian. Pathos and gloom were familiar friends for Cohen. He sought different ways to find depression that included visits to India and becoming a Buddhist monk for a few years.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise then that Cohen made multiple trips to India to find answers. We get a hint of Cohen’s visits to Bombay via  Ratnesh Mathur‘s post. Cohen spent time in Bombay visiting with Ramesh Balsekar, a Vedanta teacher. Soutik Biswas of the BBC writes about Cohen’s visits to India and how it changed him.

He turned to Buddhism and became a Zen Monk for a few years. Pico Iyer has a nuanced piece in Utne Reader on how he spent a few days with Cohen at the Zen Monastery outside of Los Angeles.

Often described as enigmatic Cohen leaves behind a rich legacy of songs, poems and writings.

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KAMALA HARRIS ELECTED AS CALIFORNIA’S SENATOR

Kamala Devi Harris (D) was elected as California’s new Senator. Harris won the seat that was vacated by Barbara Boxer. On Jan 3, 2017 Harris will be sworn in as the new Senator from California, and will step down from her role as Attorney General of California.

Do we retreat, or do we fight asks Harris in her election night speech. “I intend to fight,” she says. “We all have to fight…this is a pivotal moment in the history of our country.” She mentions how her parents met in Berkeley during the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

Harris has an interesting heritage. Her mother Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris came from Madras (now known as Chennai) to study at the University of California In Berkeley. She worked as a breast cancer specialist at Lawrence Livermore Lab. Her father Prof. Donald Harris was from Jamaica, who taught economics at Stanford University.

This post by Harris’ aunt or “chitti” Dr. Sarala Gopalan makes for an interesting read and give you peek into Harris’s Indian heritage and her love for South Indian food. I wonder if Harris speaks Tamil?

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American Fruits and Nuts in Bangalore

American fruits and nuts in Bangalore you ask? Yes, you can find California pistachios, Washington apples and Oregon pears from big grocery stores to the corner mom and pop shops.  According to one report  California almonds rank fifth in the list of American exports to India.