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Yesterday’s ascent of around 800m to La Moucherotte was quite exhausting so I have decided to do a smaller hike. Today’s hike is in the Belladonna mountain range, which is one of the three mountains surrounding Grenoble, the other two being the Vercors and the Chartreuse. The receptionist at my hotel suggested I go to Lac Achard which is a small hike (~400m) from a small town named Chamrousse. The 1968 winter olympics were held in Grenoble and seem to have developed the city as well as neighboring towns.

On reaching Chamrousse, I could see that it has been developed for skiing in winter with many cable cars to take people to the mountain summits. In the summers, people come here to trek in the Belledonne range but this time of the year falls between winter and summer so everything was closed. Perhaps the restaurant and hotel-owners were themselves on a vacation!

I had a quick glance at the map on my iPhone and decided to go in the direction of the lake without looking it repeatedly. As it would happen, I soon lost the way but decided to keep going. My motto during hiking is: There is only one direction – Upward!


After some more time of climbing, my Google Map suggested the lake is only a few meters away from where I was heading, although there was no trail leading to it. And how could it be; the map’s top view seemed close enough but not the side view!


Lac Achard (Lake Achard)

Anyhow, I decided to go to the Croix de Chamrouse, which is a peak from where people ski (in winters). There was snow enroute, just as the Russian couple in the bus had suggested. I took some quick pictures.


The cable car lines in the background, which carry people uphill for skiing in winter

The higher I went, the windier it would get. My investment in the NorthFace rainproof windproof jacket seemed to pay off since it was the only jacket I was wearing. It was surprising to see a couple climb without much cold protection and I was so amused, I asked them for a selfie.


Crazy awesome Europeans!

I took some pictures at the top – la Croix de Chamrouse but it was windy so I started my descent soon.

IMG_6123Indeed there was a cross, the French word for which must be “croix”.


The “croix” of Chamrousse

I quickly descended in under an hour and waited for the bus. Since there were two hours for the bus and shops and restaurants were all closed, I hitchhiked from the same aforementioned couple to reach a latter bus-stop with restaurants. The hike was excellent so far except that I forgot my hiking poles (borrowed from Shashank) in their car. I will buy a new pair (as good if not better) in Interlaken, Switzerland tomorrow hoping that he won’t be too mad at me! May be I can buy a        for him and his wife just to be sure 🙂


Local French/Italian cuisine

I’ve been in Grenoble for two days now and am loving it. Grenoble is surrounded by mountains (the Vercors, the Chartreuse and the Belledonne (wow, I could recall all of them!)) on all sides with two rivers — Le Drac (the lion) and Le Isere (the serpent) — going through it. Indeed, it is the capital of the Alps.

Today I went on a hike in the Vercors mountain range, climbing the peak Le Moucherotte (1910m). I started in the morning by taking a bus from the Grenoble station to Saint-Nizier (110m) and started my hike from there.


Signboard at the start

It was a perfect sunny day as I looked up to La Moucherotte.


La Moucherotte


The path went through scenic woods but it was a brutal, merciless ascent without resting spots.


Crazy mountain biker!

Tired as I was climbing, a dog ran past me followed by it’s owners. “Bon jour”, I replied my ego crushed. I saw quite a few people on the way – people and their dogs and bicycles – doing the trek. Here is a mountain biker.

Finally I reached the summit after the promised two and a half hours, much to my surprise.

Beer time!

Beer time!

The circular table is called an orientation table and it helps to find which mountain range you can see in every direction.



There was some snow on the way, to say the least.


View during descent

Waiting for the bus, chilling with some Italian food.

Waiting for the bus, chilling with some Italian food.

I am on a trip to CIRM, Luminy which is a research institute in the town of Marseille in France, for a conference in mathematics. CIRM seems to be a wonderful place for Mathematics, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The campus is on a mountainous terrain which meets the Mediterranean sea at stone’s throw. The result is a beautiful trail leading to what the French call a “calanque“.


Since this has been my first visit to France, I couldn’t help but observe a few quirks about the place. At the train station, there was a mobile charger which you needed to pedal, to charge your phone; can’t imagine this in the US! I traveled from Paris to Marseille, which is a distance of 800 km in 4 hours in the famous TGV train. Bullet trains are also unusual in the US.

CIRM is a purely research institute and in fact, is purely for conferences. Every week there is a conference in some area of Mathematics and researchers around the world in specific areas gather here to attend it. The lunch and dinner at the institute are elaborate and methodical and indicate to me that the French take their food seriously. Every meal is a five-course meal : entrée –> main dish –> bread + cheese (baguette et la fromage) –> dessert –> café. One of the days, we were served the famous Bouillabaise of Marseille, which is a popular local fish dish. It was served with white wine, customized to pique the mathematicians’ taste buds (read the description).


The Mathematician’s wine

Today I went to the local supermarket to buy fruits and other groceries. It was amusing to see the number of aisles reserved for cheeses and vin (wine). Language has been a problem because only youngsters seem to know English. But politeness and the willingness to learn their culture and language go a long way in making good conversations.

Umm… what else? Well, cars park on sidewalks, cats roam freely. Roads seem narrower and cigarettes are longer. But my sample-space of a part of a small town may be too small to generalize. Tomorrow I hope to conquer Mont Puget which might offer an excellent view of the Mediterranean. More later, au revoir!

Now I’ll think twice before going to Greyhouse. Here is why.

I went to the coffee-house today evening for a cup of GreyCap and Cogdell’s book on Automorphic L-functions. Greyhouse is a wonderful place to do some Mathematics and at times, just gaze around and see what other people are doing. My Chess buddies often meet here for some rapid games. Today the place was less crowded since the school is closed for summer.

A lady approaches me and asks me my age. I have seen her earlier around the campus and even in Greyhouse. I remember last summer, she once interrupted our Chess discussion and made an awkward conversation. Kerem pointed out she’s crazy but “not guilty until proven” is my principle.

Not wanting to create a fuss, I told her my approximate age and she left me alone. After a while, she came to me and asked if I could share the table with her. Honouring the etiquette of the coffee-house, I welcomed her. Now she asks if I could be her friend. I say yes. But soon things start getting weird.

“Would you like to be my friend with benefits?”

“No.” (What the fcuk!!)

“Do you know what that means?”

“I think I know.”

“Hugging, kissing, … ”

“Yes I know” (This was getting creepy)

“Do you have a girlfriend?”



“Because I love some things (pointing at my book) more than others.”

She laughed aloud enough for everyone around to hear. I could feel the pain hidden in that laughter. I felt pity toward her.

She tore off a page from her pocket-diary and wrote her phone number on it. When I accepted it, she asked mine. I refused to share my cell number with a creepy lady I just met. She asked her note back and I gladly obliged. With some more awkward comments, she left. I shared a moment with the Indian girl sitting at the adjacent table; I could tell she overheard our conversation.


The conversation had an impact on me I hadn’t imagined. It was not just any other crazy experience but somewhat traumatizing one. I felt shaken, mildly violated although all she did was have an extremely weird conversation. I wonder what it would be to be a girl in India. Eve-teasing, stalking, groping are real problems because of roadside Romeos – jokers who don’t know how to woo a girl but know a lot of other creepy mischief. The askew sex-ratio also doesn’t help. My (female) friend used to tell me the little ways she used to retaliate against these miscreants. They should be brought to book. Hopefully “Ab ki bar Modi sarkar” or AAP improve things.

पूजा: अाईला सांगू नकोस!

It has been almost a week since I returned to Purdue. The past month in India passed so quickly it just felt like a week. I was glad I could meet my family and so many friends.

I attended a workshop and conference on Galois representations at the TIFR. Situated besides the sea-shore, it always feels great to visit the Tata Institute. I was very surprised Prof. Ghate recognized me although we just met  once, that too three years ago. I met Prof. Rajan (my VSRP mentor) and my Masters advisor Prof. Anandavardhanan. It was nice to finally meet Sandeep Verma, a student of my advisor Dr. Shahidi. I couldn’t meet Anand Sawant since he was making an academic visit to Germany but it was good to talk to Sachin Sharma, my old friend at IMSc doing his post-doc at Tata. Although I couldn’t meet Arghya, I made friends with his friends – Shaunak, Aditya, Vineet and Ashay – and we discussed some Mathematics. There were prominent mathematicians attending the conference including Marie-France Vigneras, Sujatha Ramadorai, Pierre Colmez, Dipendra Prasad and Chandrashekhar Khare.

Conference photo

Back home, it was after a long three-year wait that my parents, sister and I were together. We celebrated by going on a short vacation to Jaisalmer and Jodhpur in Rajasthan. There were sand dunes around (it’s a freaking desert) and we had a camel safari. It was fun!

The vibrant colours of India

The vibrant colours of India (cloth shop inside Jodhpur fort)

Rajasthani folk dancer (Yes, they are glasses she's balancing on)

Rajasthani folk dancer (Yes, they are glasses she’s balancing on)

On the pretext of giving his iPad to his folks, I met Partha’s dad.  Fortunately he didn’t ask me usual questions Indian parents ask! Shashank is one of my best friends and he too came to India to attend Avdhut’s marriage. We went to visit Vaibhav (photo below) and had an interesting discussion on genetics and evolution. As always, it was fun meeting Amar – my roomie at IITB. He went paragliding near Pune a day before I left for the US and seeing these pics, I regret not being able to join. Yes, I also met my Purdue roommate Nikhil, who came all the way from Pune to meet me. Nikhil, Rubin and I had a great time cracking Purdue jokes here in India. Another close friend Ameya married last year and in this India visit, I met Asmita and him. (Everyone seems to be getting married 😦 I’m getting older.)

Vaibhav and Shashank

Vaibhav and Shashank

The star of the show was Avdhut, whose marriage was a pushing reason I visited India. His brothers had arranged a bachelors’ party a week before the wedding and I won’t go into details because what happens in Murud stays in Murud. But yes, I did meet Arun and have curious philosophical discussions with him. Avdhut’s marriage was a good excuse for VNITians to meet up – Raju, Tapa, Swapnil, Milind, SKS, Khan and the great Maythegod! Bless the newly wed couple!

Avdhut weds Aasawari

Avdhut weds Aasawari

My awesome dream-visit was brought down to earth after landing at Chicago. It was -27 degree Celcius cold!


* Just yesterday, I got a Macbook Pro! I promised myself I’d write this post on my new Mac.

* I was stuck up in Chicago since the interstate I-65 was dysfunctional due to heavy snowfall; shuttles were canceled and the train was overbooked. Kyle rescued me by giving a ride since he too was driving from Chicago back to WL. Hail Facebook!

Kyle gave me a ride to Purdue

Kyle gave me a ride to Purdue

* Steve Spallone is visiting Purdue next week. He is an American mathematician working in India and I’m quite the opposite. We discovered each others’ blogs accidently. Curiously, he too works in number theory and in fact is Shahidi’s collaborator. I’m looking forward to his talk!

The land of organized chaos

The land of organized chaos

  • Your first (half) marathon is the most cherished one. Ironically, it’s also your slowest!
  • I ran a half-marathon at the Indianapolis Marathon today, 19 October, 2013 in 2:18:56.
  • Running a half-marathon = 13.1 miles = 21 kilometers sounds like the craziest idea until you actually run it. After that it seems trivial.
  • It was good to have Jacob and Ryan run the 13.1. Qi ran the full marathon; bow to thee, master! Tianyang’s support in cheering us was invaluable.
  • A 81-year old lady completed the 13.1 in just over two and a half hours. Highly impressive. Humans are crazy!
  • I liked the way the marathon was organized. Fully planned, everything taken care of including parking and restrooms. The concept of time tracking by a tracker attached to the shoe was amazing. I’m impressed with technology.
  • There was so much energy in the atmosphere that you just couldn’t get tired, stop. People cheering, runners discussing their past and future marathons, volunteers offering water and energy drinks, loud music.
  • All this excitement made me forget the bad weather, it was 5 degrees (Celsius of course), windy and raining.
  • A lady had “13.1 on my 30th birthday” printed on her shirt. I wished her a happy birthday! There were some people from Lafayette, we had a “Go Boilers!” exchange.
  • There were volunteers encouraging us to keep going. Randomly, I would tell them they’re doing a great job cheering us 🙂
  • I was hoping Jacob, who was ahead of me would cross me and I’d wave to him saying, “*How* is it going?”!
  • I was in extreme pain after crossing the finish line, but knew I had made history (at a personal level, in the least).
  • There’s only one key to completing the run, don’t think about running, don’t count the miles, don’t calculate your pace — Just RUN!



October 2012 : Biked from Bloomington to Purdue for Habitat for Humanity, 125 miles in 2 days

October 2013 : Ran a half-marathon at the Indianapolis marathon.

October 2014 : (Crazy suggestions?)

Half-marathon! Pu-Ma runners

Last week, I went to a summer  workshop in Salt Lake City, Utah. As I checked in the university guest house, an elderly gentleman with a white shaggy beard walked to me and asked, “You must be a mathematician.”

Turns out, (as he later introduced me) he was Gregg Zuckerman, a famous mathematician working in representation theory. He knew my advisor Shahidi and was astonished Shahidi didn’t ever mention to me about him.

To his question, I replied in true mathematical spirit, “That depends on your definition of a mathematician!” leaving a chuckle behind.

If you have a broken molar or a fractured jaw and are looking for a liquid diet, welcome! This is quite the place for you.

I recently fractured my jaw and can consume only liquids since my jaw is wired. (See this post for details). I was not quite satisfied with the search results for “complete liquid diet”, “what to eat with a fractured jaw”, “nutrients in liquid form” et al so I Google-searched a little and am writing this post for the benefit of someone with a wired jaw.


There are six nutrients that the  human body requires – carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water. They are all required for a healthy living. While excessive intake of some of them is okay, for some others it can be dangerous. For example, excessive water is drained in the form of urine whereas excess of fats can lead to complications. Carbohydrates (mainly glucose, starch, sugars, fibres) are used for producing energy. Proteins are mainly used for body-building. Fats are necessary also for producing energy and as energy reserves among other uses. It is a not true that consumption of saturated fats leads to coronary heart diseases. See the “French paradox” as a counterexample.

Liquid foods and nutrients

Below, I list some commonly available liquid foods and the main nutrients they provide. It is likely that one consumes them when chewing is a problem. If you have a fractured jaw or broken teeth or something similar, you might find this list useful. If so, cooked food intake is reduced so consuming fats is recommended.

Ice cream

Its a crime to not love ice cream. It contains sugars, fats and cholesterol. (About cholesterol, its deficiency causes no damage but excess can be dangerous). If you are on a liquid diet then the fat consumption might have decreased so ice cream can be a blessing in disguise.

Muscle shake / protein drink

Also known as bodybuilding supplements, they are usually taken by sportsmen and body-builders. They contain (mainly) proteins (and vitamins and minerals) and are used in muscle-building.

Soups (Added 6 July, ’12)

The crazier things you blend in a mixer, crazier will your stories be when you narrate them later. My friend Kate in Math boasted of blending pizza when she felt the urge to taste it. Using water, milk and chicken-broth, one can almost blend any solid food. One good method is to cook vegetables in a pressure cooker with a lot of water, then crush it in a mixer, filter the juice and consume the soup. Add masala depending on your choice. I used to drink even pulses (legumes) by this method since I realized my protein intake was sub-normal.


Milk contains various essential nutrients and I’d highly recommend it in any and every form. But better than raw milk is milkshake made from different fruits and vegetables. It is described later in details.

Buttermilk & Yogurt

Yogurt has Carb+Fat+Protein+Vitamin+calcuim. Buttermilk has Carb+Protein+calcuim.

Raw egg with milk (Edited on 6 July)

Screw those nutritionists who discourage the practice of eating raw eggs. Desperate times need desperate measures. Eggs are excellent sources of proteins. Three eggs a day keep your hunger away.


If you have a mixer or grinder or blender, then making your own milkshake is the best. Plus, you have the choice of fruit or vegetable. The nutrients depend on what you are adding. Feel free to try your own combinations. The stuff that I usually put in my milkshakes is –

Watermelon (also, cantaloupe (muskmelon) and honeydew)




Strawberry (also blackberry and blueberry but they contain little seeds)

(Readymade) Fruit / vegetable juice

They contain Vitamins (A, C, …), calcium and (a lot of) salt. Calcium is good for bones and particularly useful if you have a fractured bone.

(Readymade) Fruit punch / smoothie

You get such stuff at Walmart. It is a juice of different fruits. Mainly contains carbohydrates (fibres) and vitamins.


If you are on liquid diet only, then perhaps the liquid intake might have taken your thirst away. But its most essential that you drink enough water. Its one food where one can say – more the merrier.

Gatorade + protein water

This is an alternative for the Fat naysayers. I believe fats are as essential as other foodstuffs so don’t recommend surviving only on these.

Baby food

I haven’t really tried this but may test it soon. It seems it would be easy to digest. Let me know your opinion about baby-foods.

Tailpiece / Your help

Once Google has hashed this article, it will be available in its searches. Who knows some random guy/gal might find it useful. So please add your suggestions in making this a comprehensive list. The better suggestions will be added to the post (with the posters’ names!)

I gifted myself a bicycle on my birthday recently. Its a cool Trex 7.2 hybrid bike. Quite expensive but I just got back my income tax returns. So these days, running has taken a setback and biking (bicycling) has been the new sport.

It was a lazy Sunday evening when I set out for a long bike journey. It was sunny with hardly any winds, an ideal weather for biking. I biked for about 25 kilometers without stopping. I found a place for kayaking and canoeing and inquired about the rates and all. I must have been 8 miles from home when all of a sudden the weather changed. It got very windy and riding became difficult. The clouds were picturesque. Here is a picture –

At the signal, a guy got down from his car and offered me a ride. I politely declined and thanked. Least did I predict the thunderstorm that would follow. It started drizzling and soon was pouring. My home was just 3 miles away from there but seeing that I might not make it in this heavy rain, I took shelter. As in the past¹, I called up Dabadghao for help. He was surprised I went biking as he just saw a thunderstorm and flood warning on the TV. I gave him my coordinates and he said he’d do something. He had a friend with a car having a bike-stand on it. I waited for them to rescue me. It was getting darker and colder. But since the rain subsided and he would take time to arrange the car, we decided I would ride back home. Here are iPhone screenshots of the weather and my biking stats till that point.

Note to self (lessons learnt)

  • Excessive dependence on the weather app to be avoided.
  • iPhone seems water-proof to some extent. Still should carry a plastic bag.
  • Although it adds to the bike weight, should carry the bicycle lock.

The journey ended at Dabad’s home with we both enjoying the spicy Thai chicken curry he prepared. Another adventure comes to an end!

¹ Earlier, I have called Dabad on numerous occasions asking for sundry help. Unlike the irreliable Avdhut, he has always helped.

About me

Abhishek Parab

I? An Indian. A mathematics student. A former engineer. A rubik's cube addict. A nature photographer. A Pink Floyd fan. An ardent lover of Chess & Counter-Strike.

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“Do not think; let the equation think for you”

”You cannot be perfect, but if you won’t try, you won’t be good enough”

“Don’t worry about your maths problems; I assure you, mine are greater”

"A comathematician is a device for turning cotheorems into ffee"

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