Learning Indian classical dance
Along with my wife, Sweta (who is also doing her PhD in Compilers at UIUC), I am learning Bharatanatyam, one of the most popular and ancient classical dance forms of India. My teacher is Smt. Anine and her website is here. Unfortunately for us, our teacher re-located to Boston. We are yet to being our classes again .
Organic Community Gardening
Thanks to the Urbana Park District community programs, we rented a plot (30' x 17') and began gardening since the summer of 2015. As first timers, we lost time and a part of our plants and produce to pests and weeds. On the other hand, we learnt many lessons and gained confidence. It was very enjoyable to reap the fruits of your labor fast, compared to the slow yielding results of research. This time, we started with 3 plots but returned 2 due to other commitments. We still had a good yield of vegetables and flowers.
Yajurveda is a Sanskrit text that is part of the Vedas, the ancient texts of India that have been transmitted orally since several thousands of years. The Vedas contain verses that encompass the areas of language, philosophy, religion, science, mathematics, engineering and other matters spanning from the individual to societal. My teacher is Sri Vighneshvara Ghanapathigal from Chennai, India.
Learning Indian Classical music
My wife and I are learning Carnatic music, the branch of Indian classical music from the southern parts of India. Unfortunately, we were unable to spend as much time on this one as we wanted to. Hopefully, it goes well this year. We are learning this from our friend Sriraam who works here in Urbana.
Sanskrit is an ancient Indian classical language that is known for its highly systematic phonological organization, word derivation, grammar ( the production rules for its Context Free Grammar have been encoded thousands of years ago) and the versatility of use. Like classical Latin and Greek, Sanskrit is accented and has rules for the determination of accent and enunciation. Unlike these two languages, Sanskrit is not yet a dead language. It is still spoken in parts of India, works are created in this language and it plays an important role in the religious affairs of Hinduism. Fortunately, the rigor that went into studying and encoding Sanskrit helped preserve nearly all features of it to this day. A study of India cannot be complete without encountering Sanskrit and the copious and profound literature that was created in this language. I am learning this language by myself.
I have a strong culinary interest beyond Indian cuisine and spend quite a bit of my leisure in cooking. We try to re-create the vast variety of world cuisines at home.
I also like to play board games. Games I have played and liked are Settlers of Catan, Stone Age, Splendor and Agricola.
I read history and study religions and mythologies of the world. I enjoy reading historical fiction, and Alexandre Dumas' series of d'Artagnan Romances (a part of which is popular as The Three Musketeers) is one of my favorites. Apart from history and historical fiction, I relish reading the humor and satire of Mark Twain, the wit and twists of O Henry, the gripping narratives of Arthur Conan Doyle (about Sherlock Holmes, of course). In Telugu, my favorites among what I have read are Kanyasulkam and Barrister Parvateesam.