Jul 15, 2011

A trip to Bangalore Palace

The lecture hall of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is packed full with audience who had come from various organizations and institutes across India to participate in the Data Assimilation Research Program. The audience has flavors; most of them were scientists graduated with physics or mathematics as their majors, while engineering was confined to a minority.

The language spoken during the DAR Program was mostly mathematics, whose slang version is what I understand and communicate. A professor from Okhlahoma University, who was a Comp Sci Engineer and later changed his area of interest to Mathematics, was giving a lecture on Least Square Errors technique.

"Let us minimize alpha/2 times the second norm of the vector X, where X is a vector in R^n, subject to the constraint Z = HX, where Z is the observations in R^m, H is the model matrix in R^(mxn)", he wrote the problem statement on the smart board. I started observing at other participant's reaction, and was depressed to see that majority of them understood what he was talking about!

Not loosing my hope, I translated phrase by phrase in to slang version, which is called as 'engineering mathematical language' as

"Minimize the surface area exposed to the atmosphere to reduce the heat transfer loss, subject to a volume constraint given by V = pi times square of radius times length of the pipe". I proceeded to translate and understand most of the jargons while at the same time wondering if Mathematicians have heard about the Occum's razor.


"Did you understand anything?", Chai asked during the coffee break that followed the session.

"Not much. But if you can somehow translate it in to our engineering language, perhaps you will get some progress", I replied.

"Ya dude, engineers rocks! We take up the complicated things stated by mathematicians, and present it to the layman", Vish, another engineer, added.

"I say, let us bunk the afternoon sessions today and go some place. We are new to Bangalore and so there are plenty of places to see around", said Chai.

"Guess what makes you to feel you are at home?" I asked the group, and added "Go to a new place and have a GPS". Saying this, I took my Galaxy Pop, opened up the Google map to check out nearby places to see.

"Have you been to Bangalore palace? GMaps says its near to IISc. We will catch a local bus from TIFR campus to Mekhri circle, and the palace is at walkable distance from there", I poured the information.

While others were not ready to give up their fight so early, Chai and myself left the campus to board a bus to Mekhri circle. We walked to the Yelahanka bus stand, had tea on the way, enquired the driver of the first bus which was about to leave the station, boarded in and occupied our seats. I opened up the Google Maps to track the route and know where to get down.

After about 45 minutes of travel, the bus dropped us at Mekhri circle from where I changed my GMaps settings to search for walk directions to the Bangalore palace. We went further from the Mekhri circle bus stop, took the left at Jaymahal road and walked along the military area. After about 15 minutes of walk, we found some shops nearby.

"Let us have a cup of tea and enquire the shop owner about the palace", said Chai.

"Bangalore palace? Idhe palace groundsu", the shop owner said pointing out in the opposite direction, where all we could see is a play ground and a fun park.

"Perhaps they have a local name for the palace which we did not know! GMaps says we will have to walk for one more km in the same direction", I reaffirmed Chai after looking at the GMaps.

"Let us ask the traffic police standing near that signal", said he.

"You want to go to club?", the traffic constable enquired with a gleam in his eyes.

"No sir, we are new to Bangalore. We heard there is a palace here. We just want to go there" explained Chai.

"I think its called as wodayar palace", I added a piece of info after googling for Bangalore palace meanwhile.

"There is no palace here. This is palace ground. Bangalore palace might have existed long ago, but now this is all that is left" the traffic constable said pointing in the opposite direction to the same open playground. "People come here, go to club and booze. You want to go there?", he asked us again.

"No sir, we are not interested in boozing", we said.

Understanding that our enquiry is genuine, he said "Palace are in Mysore. In Bangalore, there is no palace".

With both of us not in the mood to disappoint ourselves, we enquired bus route to the nearest landmark, took bus to Indian Express stop, walked to Cubbon park, spent about couple of hours enjoying the woods and the sparrows in the mild showery weather, had a cup of coffee at Indian Coffee House, looked at Chinnaswamy stadium from outside, took another bus from Vidhana Soudha to Mekhri circle and walked our way back to Kaveri.