[ Sameer Ajmani : Home : Personal ]

[Sameer and Mandi] This is a picture of me and my wife, Mandi. We met at Cornell, where she joined my fraternity and proceeded to become its president. This picture was taken in the spring of 1998 at Brave The Elements VIII, a concert for Mandi's undergraduate a capella group, the Key Elements.
Mandi and I got married on November 25 and on December 2, 2000. The first wedding was a traditional Hindu ceremony held in Houston, Texas (my home town). The second ceremony was a contemporary Christian ceremony held in Baltimore, Maryland (Mandi's home town). After the weddings, we enjoyed two weeks in Disney World for our honeymoon.
[Dad] Ahh, family. To the left is my father, and to the right are my mother and sister. Both my mom and dad are doctors, and I had originally planned to follow in their footsteps; somehow I ended up doing computer science. My sister, Shama, had always wanted to be a performer and has realized that dream as a fire artist. She's also scuba instructor and has recently been accepted to nursing school. [Mom and Sis]
I've created an HTML version of my family tree. It covers twelve generations of Ajmani heritage and is actively being extended by other Ajmanis online. I've also added family trees for my wife, Mandi, and my mom.
A picture of me, my sister, and my good friend Sajeev Mehta. This was taken at a Thanksgiving brunch in Houston in 1996. Jeeves is back in Houston studying business at UH. He's my premier advisor on all things automotive; he and his brother, Sanjay, are car nuts of the most nutty type. [Sameer, Shama, and Jeeves]
I can only hope that one day Jeeves will find the right car for himself; settle down, have a bunch of little carlings, and enjoy the putter-putter of little engines echoing through his house...
To the left is a picture of a friend who I have known as long as I can remember, David Edery. Dave and I were in kindergarten together at the Jewish Community Center in Houston and spent much of our childhood playing computer games together. He graduated Brandeis University as an English Major and is now working on several open source projects, including a web-based PC inventory management system called Syslist. He served as the best man at my wedding, runs his own company, and has recently been accepted to MIT's Sloan business school. [Mandi]
To the right is another picture of Mandi, just for good measure.
[SCD Sisters] Back at Cornell, I was in Sigma Chi Delta, a co-ed fraternity founded in 1981. This is a picture of a number of our sisters at the 15th Anniversary celebration in 1996. It was amazing how much the actives and the alumni had in common, even though most of them had never met.
My brothers and sisters at SCD are great. You really find out who your friends are when you go away for a while. When I went to Boston on engineering co-op in the fall of '96, it was my SCD brethren who were always excited to see me when I visited. Some of the other people I knew at Cornell didn't even realize I was away!

Check out these SCD pictures.

This is a picture from a fraternity trip down to New York in the summer of 1995. That's me lying across the bottom; at the top is Eric Reed; at the right is Tai Nguyen; in the center is Jen Ma; and on the left is Marc Aquino. I never got the name of the big guy in yellow; he was pretty quiet. [NYC Trip]
During that trip, I learned why I would never be able to live in New York City. A Hare Krishna monk on the streets of Manhattan insisted that I was his "brother" and that I should support his temple by buying a book from him. This is why Marc warned me never to make eye contact or listen to anyone you don't want to talk to. This is also why my friend Karl Holland from Queens has dubbed me "mugbait." I think I'll stay here in Boston, where it's "safe" to talk to random people.

Update Summer 2004: What a difference nine years makes. This fall, I will be starting a new job with Google in New York City. I should be fine (Karl deems that I am no longer "mugbait"); I just gotta look out for those crazy monks.

Update Fall 2006: Back in Boston again, as Mandi still has a few more years at Suffolk to finish her Clinical Psych PhD. We loved New York and hope to return one day!

Hall of the Hot Sauce King


Where, Oh Where Have My Taste Buds Gone?

I'm not sure when it began, but for years now I've loved spicy food. And I'm not just talking a little Tabasco on my rice and beans; no, I'm afraid I've been abusing my taste buds with the extreme heat that only a child raised in Texas by North Indians can enjoy.

I guess it started at home. My mother told me stories about how she used to eat raw jalapeno peppers at school to amaze her classmates. That taste for spicy stuff carried over into the food she made for my sister and me. It's always been an ongoing debate as to who eats spicier food, North Indians or South Indians, but all I know is my mom's cooking was too much for most of my friends in its original form. Then again, I once used a South Indian cookbook which cautioned the reader, "This recipe is rather spicy. If your guests are Americans or North Indians, reduce the amount of pepper ..."

A difference I've noticed between the Northeast and the Southwest: Down there, you can buy Pace Picante Sauce as Mild, Medium, or Hot. Up here, you can buy Mild, Medium, or Extra Mild. There is no Hot Pace Picante Sauce in the Northeast. There is no Extra Mild in the Southwest.

My addiction didn't really reach its full power until I started cooking for myself and going out to eat in college. I once went to a pasta restaurant and asked them to make my dish spicy. "How spicy?", they asked. "As spicy as you can make it," I replied. The waiter brought out my dish and, well, waited. I started to eat and soon most of the restaurant staff was standing in a loose circle around our table. The pasta was very good, and rather spicy, but not so spicy that I needed to stop eating or drink water. So I finished the dish without drinking just to make their jaws drop a little lower.

Another time I went to a Thai restaurant and asked for some hot sauce. They brought out a small bowl with hot pepper sauce which smelled strongly acidic. "Be very careful; it's very spicy," cautioned the waitress. My fraternity brothers and sisters promptly encouraged me to down the whole bowl, which I did. The waitress got so scared she ran back into the kitchen and started talking rapidly to the chefs in Thai. I remember having some weird nightmares that night (anyone seen the Simpson's episode where Homer eats the ultra-hot chili pepper?).

I also used to ask the guys at the hot grill in Cornell's dining halls to make whatever fajitas or stir fry I was ordering as spicy as possible. One particular grill guy brought in his own habenero sauce and chili powder. Those were possibly some of the best fajitas I've ever eaten. Back when I used to eat meat he made me some hot buffalo wings; oddly enough the vinegary spiciness of wing sauce seems a lot hotter to me than Asian spices.

Finally, when inspiration strikes, I make my own Indian curry. My favorite dish to make is called Chole (CHO-lay) or Channa (CHUH-nuh). It's basically chickpeas cooked in a tomato-based curry. Except in my version, I quadruple the chili powder and use ultra-fresh Serrano peppers. I took this to a pot luck dinner for the Indian community at Cornell. I was the only one who could eat it (these were all other Indians, mind you). I served it to one of my fraternity brothers, and he had some "digestive problems" for the rest of the evening. Still, I love the stuff.

So, those are all my anecdotes about my experiences with spicy food (for now). I hope you readers have enjoyed hearing about it and are salivating for a few hot peppers, like me. If you'd like to find some really tasty hot sauces (and the hottest ones that exist!), check out Peppers.

[Shama the Scorpion]

My sister is so cool.

On Being Warm

Excerpt from Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
We felt very nice and snug, the more so since it was so chilly out of doors; indeed out of bed-clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. But if, like Queequeg and me in the bed, the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why then, indeed, in the general consciousness you feel most delightfully and unmistakably warm. For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.

A Good Idea (not mine)

Excerpt from Hints For Computer System Design, by Butler W. Lampson
Bob Morris suggested that a shared interactive system should have a large red button on each terminal. The user pushes the button if he is dissatisfied with the service, and the system must either improve the service or throw the user off; it makes an equitable choice over a sufficiently long period. The idea is to keep people from wasting their time in front of terminals that are not delivering a useful amount of service.

Self-Replicating Programs, a.k.a. Quines (again, not mine)

In C:
main(){char q=34, n=10,*a="main() {char q=34,n=10,*a=%c%s%c;printf(a,q,a,q,n);}%c";printf(a,q,a,q,n);}
In Lisp/Scheme:
((lambda (x) (list x (list (quote quote) x))) (quote (lambda (x) (list x (list (quote quote) x)))))
Kind of neat that it's possible, huh? This is the sort of stuff that makes computer viruses and nanotechnology (not to mention human reproduction) possible. One important thing to note:
If a program can do this, it could do something like, "Make another on just like me, then everybody make more just like yourselves, do this a billion times and then stop." The "then stop" part is important.
Richard H. Smith, II

An Observation about Lego and Star Wars

Until Episode 2, it was possible to reenact any lightsaber dismemberment using Lego people:
Episode 4: Obi-wan Kenobi
Disappears. You can do this with Lego people.
Episode 5: Luke Skywalker
Loses a hand. You can do this with Lego people.
Episode 6: Darth Vader
Also loses a hand. You can do this with Lego people.
Episode 1: Quai-Gon Jinn
Skewered. You can do this with Lego people if you kinda separate the legs from the body...
Episode 1: Darth Maul
Cut in half. You can do this with Lego people.
Episode 2: Jango Fett
Beheaded. You can do this with Lego people.
Episode 2: Anakin Skywalker
Loses an arm. You cannot do this with Lego people! What was Lucas thinking?

The Point

by Bryan O'Sullivan (cDc #300, 1995)
you could spend an hour counting the petals in a flower
it might take you a year to count the veins in each petal
if you spent ten lifetimes, maybe you could count its cells

but you'd have completely missed the point
you fuckhead

Bobby the Water God

by Sameer Ajmani (2003)
Bobby didn't know he was a water god.
Bobby saw a lake, and he loved it, so he called it Fido.
"Come here, Fido!" Bobby said.
And then he drowned.

A Haiku

by Sameer Ajmani, appears in ;login: magazine (Feb. 2004)
Craftsman or hacker
Code poet or code monkey
Who am I today?

A Pi-ku

by Sameer Ajmani (2006)
3.  flocks of geese
1 fly
4 across the sky
1 south
5 slaves to their instincts
9 migrating to ensure they survive
2 for now
6 one more generation
5 one more mating call
3 one more night
5 darwin had it right
8 don't we all just want to survive?
9 or better yet, to improve ourselves?
7 we aspire to greatness, yet,
9 do we really make a difference?
3 i hope so

[Mandi and Sameer]
A drawing of Mandi and me generated by a computer at a photo booth. A picture of Mandi taken by our friend Randi Rotjan.