Archive for Varanasi

brands with a tree logo…

Posted in Mountains, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2013 by xi'an

As the cold wave in Varanasi caught me by surprise, I asked the conference organisers for a place to buy a down jacket and they kindly drove me to a nice store called Woodland within the city. I purchased a cheap down-like jacket there (as demonstrated by the newspaper excerpt!) that solved my problem. And I thus discovered a brand that looked surprisingly similar to Timberland, slowly coming to realise this was the whole point: change Timber into Wood, slightly modify the tree in the logo, and you get a local brand that recycles Timberland designs and products to their own profit… (This seems to be a common occurrence in India, judging from this New York Times article.) Anyway, it is rather entertaining to visit the Woodland website, as they mimic major outdoor brand websites like Patagonia or Petzl, but do not offer any material one could seriously consider taking hiking and even less climbing! (Besides the jacket that managed to keep me warm for the rest of the meeting!, I also bought a cheap pair of sneakers and that quickly  proved to be a mistake, as the fit is only approximate and the material of poor quality.)

Mother India

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , on January 15, 2013 by xi'an

advertising in the streets of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Jan. 10, 2013I saw several Amul posters during my trip to India and they all were related to women’s rights in the aftermath of the atrocious rape in Delhi, so I assumed this was a political party or organisation. However, when checking on the Web, I found that Amul is a dairy cooperative from the State of Gujarat, selling milk and milk products like ghee. It however runs ads involving their mascot, which can be quite political. Like the one above taken on my way to the airport in Varanasi. Or the one protesting the repression of the post-rape demonstrations in Delhi.

breaking news…

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , on January 14, 2013 by xi'an

article in local Hindi newpaper about the conference, Varanasi airport, Jan. 10, 2013A newspapers excerpt I glimpsed at the conference and copied at the airport. I cannot tell much about the contents, not even spot my name!, by fellow travellers told me it focussed on the application part of the conference, mentioning leeches in the title… Fun, anyway, if you do not mind the orange down coat!

India snapshot (#21)

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on January 12, 2013 by xi'an

candles on the Ganges in the sunset, Varanasi, Jan. 9, 2013We went before sunset on a boat ride along the Ganges, terminating in the main ghat,Dashashwamedh Ghat (दशाश्वमेध घाट), in a pleasant temperature announcing the return of warmer weather. As we were slowly drifting with the motor off, some passengers released a marigold bowl with a lit candle in the midst…

India snapshot (#20)

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , on January 12, 2013 by xi'an

cow on one of the ghats, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Jan. 6, 2013Last step of the Indian trip, in Varanasi, when walking the ghats, with a local. And the Ganges as a background.

ISBA regional meeting in Varanasi (day 3)

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2013 by xi'an

plaque in the department of mathematical sciences. BHU, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Jan. 10, 2013On the last/my day of the ISBA meeting in Varanasi, I attended a few talks before being kindly driven to the airport (early, too early, but with the unpredictable traffic there, it was better to err on the cautionary side!). In the dynamical model session, Simon Wilson presented a way to approximate posteriors for HMMs based on Chib’s (or Bayes’!) formula, while Jonathan Stroud exposed another approach to state-space model approximation involving a move of the state parameter based on a normal approximation of its conditional given the observable, approximation which seemed acceptable for the cloud analysis model he was processing. Nicolas Chopin then gave a quick introduction to particle MCMC, all the way to SMC². (As a stern chairmain of the session, I know Nicolas felt he did not have enough time but he did a really good job of motivating those different methods, in particular in explaining why the auxiliary variable approach makes the unbiased estimator of the likelihood a valid MCMC method.) Peter Green’s plenary talk was about a emission tomography image analysis whose statistical processing turned into a complex (Bernstein-von Mises) convergence theorem (whose preliminary version I saw in Bristol during Natalia Bochkina’s talk).

boats on the Ganges before sunset, Jan. 8, 2013Overall, as forewarned by and expected from the program, this ISBA meeting was of the highest scientific quality. (I only wish I had had hindi god abilities to duplicate and attend several parallel sessions at the same time!) Besides, much besides!, the wamr attention paid to everyone by the organisers was just simply un-be-lie-vable! The cultural program went in par with the scientific program. The numerous graduate students and faculty involved in the workshop organisation had a minute knowledge of our schedules and locations, and were constantly anticipating our needs and moves. Almost to a fault, i.e. to a point that was close to embarassing for our cultural habits. I am therefore immensely grateful [personally and as former ISBA president] to all those people that contributed to the success of this ISBA meeting and first and foremost to Professor Satyanshu Upadhyay who worked relentlessly towards this goal during many months! (As a conference organiser, I realise I was and am simply unable to provide this level of welcome to the participants, even for much smaller meetings… The contrast with my previous conference in Berlin could not be more extreme as, for a much higher registration fee, the return was very, very limited.) I will forever (at least until my next reincarnation!) keep the memory of this meeting as a very special one, quite besides giving me the opportunity of my first visit to India

India snapshot (#19)

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , on January 11, 2013 by xi'an

monkey on the steps of Assi Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi, Jan. 6, 2013This monkey came right behind me when I was taking pictures of another group of monkeys, presumably looking for pilfering opportunities. When I turned, it took this pose, as if it was not in the least interested in me!