Remember that Hit Movie of so long ago? Madhuri Dixit dancing in weddings with her didi‘s devar? Remember the dialogue where she’s telling someone what she’s studying? No? Well, she gushes with a “Compyuuuuterrrrsssss” and that zillion-watt smile of hers, and everyone around her also gushes with pride, and fawn admiringly over her. Well, Bond and I watched that scene not very long ago for the gazillionth time, and used to give that gushing dialogue every time we were asked about our career interests till we felt sick of it. Er, no, it was actually coz the people asking us about our career interests turned out to be potential employers.
Flashback not very long ago. Remember that Bobby Deol-Ajay Devgan flick called Tango Charlie? It had Deol going bride-seeing. His dad asks for dowry. Her dad says hell, I’ve educated my daughter, what more do you want? He says so what, I’m better at stuff than you are. She says I can beat you at most things: Tum Microsoft Word jaante ho? He replies, Haan, pata hai… woh kaun hai?. She smirks. He says he can beat her at goli chalaana, he’s a decorated army officer. She says You Wish. Takes him to a game console. He can’t handle the joystick. She wins. No dahej.
When I was fifteen, every aunt and uncle told me to get into Computer Science. Great field for girls, they said. I had slightly different plans back then. At age seventeen, they said much the same things, apart from raving about the excellent pay and opportunities to go abroad, apart from the easy career path. But now, when I’ve chosen the IT path, they’re saying the same thing about a career in Finances/Marketing/Whatever job it is that an MBA from IIMB [it's ten minutes from home, so it's considered an excellent option for me to consider] guarantees you. One aunt had even taken to hounding me at family gatherings and extracting oaths from me to write CAT!
IT for women seemed perfect, dinnit… the world’s first programmer was a woman [Ada Lovelace], the original programmers of ENIAC were women…. the field didn’t deal with heavy machinery, needed a fine hand far as hardware was concerned and a fine mind where software was, size did not matter [smaller devices meant faster computing, and that was discovered by a woman - the Amazing Grace Hopper], wasn’t physically demanding…. basically most of the excuses that kept women out of jobs didn’t apply here, so why aren’t there more women in computing than there are? And I don’t mean in services.. in R&D and teaching [not counting the ALs of NITK], though at school level, 90% of the teachers happen to be women.
And… I don’t see the point of instituting an Anita Borg-esque scholarship for women in computing in Indian colleges as long as the education system maintains its tilt towards rote learning.
On a different tangent, for all the celebrations of India being the next big thing in IT, there’s not much original research coming from Indian institutions [that does not include Microsoft, IBM and Google] … not as much as there should be, anyway. There’s hell lot of scope for innovations in Natural Language Processing, how come there’s not that many people taking notice? Maybe this sounds like gibberish, maybe this isn’t a well-informed statement, but I feel as long as high-paying IT product and services jobs abound in India, it’s gonna kill, or at the very least, maim original research. It feels like second-wave colonialism to me. In 1890, “computer” was a government post, and I guess the job desc would have been a human calculator. Things don’t seem to have changed much. Correct me if I’m wrong there.
At first I thought of naming this post “Only a Northern Song”, and then thought of “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Other candidates included “Cry for a Shadow”, “Lady Madonna”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “Cayenne”, “Singin’ The Blues”, “Yesterday”, “Let it be”, “Michelle”, “Watching the Wheels”, “We can work it out”, and on completely non-Beatles-ish notes, “Mouse or Rat?”, “What he Said” and “..And now for something completely different”. But for reasons beyond me, Twelve-Bar Original stuck.
Funny title, you might think, but I’ll say it’s irrelevant. This post was supposed to be about school and college. About absence making the heart grow fonder. About preparing for IIT-JEE. About long conversations on the phone discussing Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures, and comparing notes on the absurdities you hear in class ["Sir, in a container, sir.. if all gases are the same gas, what will be the partial pressure of each, sir?"].
It was supposed to be about obsessively listening to Radiocity 91 FM, dedicating songs on The Request Show With Jonzie to pull a classmate’s leg. About almost breaking down due to the pressure, and friends pulling you through. About people simply unable to keep secrets, and the hilarity that ensued thus.
On quizzing and arbit trivia-gathering. Debating and scripting plays. Finding the right accent for Eliza Doolittle. On absurd conversations at late hours ["Who's your favorite actress, man?" "Yana Gupta" "She.. er.. acts?" "Oh... no, just her ass-ent... er.. accent. Accent. Eastern European, right?"]. On alleviating someone’s suicidal tendencies. On discussing Harry Potter threadbare till JK Rowling herself would have been surprised at what came next.
On the elation at finding that you had a GMail invite, when they were such a rarity and Yahoo! still held its ground. On finding that programming in C was actually fun. On arguing that Elvis is any day better than the Beatles when you actually had no idea what The Beatles sounded like. Listening to them and feeling that Elvis can’t even hold a light to them. Defending Elvis in spite of that.
On first hearing about blogs, and learning that it’s not “blob” mispronounced, but a short form of weblogs. On starting your first blog. On starting your second blog. On discovering that engineering is not the end of the world.
On long pointless walks from one unchartered destination to another. On finding constellations in the night sky, or atleast trying to. On palmistry and zodiac signs. On being there for a friend when she needed us the most. On teary confessions. On getting thrown out of CCD together. On coming out of the closet. On parting hugs. On losing touch. On not caring. On meeting again. On realizing you’ve lost so much touch you can’t identify with each other anymore. On finding places for different things in your life.
Some things never do change. Most do. And all that that remain are memories. Bitter, sweet, astringent… somehow they’ve never left me with a bad taste in the mouth.
This post is just a spillover of a whole set of conversations that arose over the past two-three years out of sheer joblessness whose only aim was to keep words flowing with the speed of thought, whose only result was to leave the meek and the small-picture thinkers irritated enough to want to hit me and a friend of mine.
Well, this friend of mine and I have half-serious conversations about social emancipation, and changing the face of the world and everything on the path to that ultimate aim. We’re a couple of procrastinators, which is why the world is in the state it currently is.
Anyway, that’s the introduction to the bunch of ideas we have, which we really want to implement, but just don’t know how, or are too lazy to find out. Call it ArmchairAmartyaSen-ism, or ArmchairAbdulKalam-ism, but these are ideas borne not only of our wasting time together, but also from a genuine desire to “give it those ones”, and make the world a better place.
- Well, this one came up when I was frustrated with the pseudo-South Indian food in the mess [Rocksolid Idlis are too much to take, and that too on the Coast, so close to Udupi, wouldn't you agree?]. We want to start a chain of restaurants exclusively for NITs, IITs, and maybe the IIMs (I’ve heard the food in IIMs is as unlike the general image of Mess Food as can be). It is no big challenge having a low-cost darshini next to a college in Bangalore – you’ll have a huge crowd all the time, no lull season at all. But in an outpost in the middle of nowhere, like say Suratkal, yes, you would get your crowd, but the real pleasure lies in seeing the happiness in the faces of your customers at having good food, especially when they are so far away from home, and they’re sick to dying of mess food. We’ve even come up with a name – Food Chain, simple and logical as that. Oh, and maybe we can get into one of the IIMs, and give up high-paying jobs with investment banks to start this venture, and most importantly, let ToI and The Hindu know of this, and give a press release about how we’re going back to heed the needs of our Alma Mater. It’d be worth two years at IIMx to publicize this project this way, what say?
- This one is where we are inspired from the one In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones. We want to keep hens in our rooms so as to sell the eggs to starved, anaemic, malnourished inmates of Girls Block [who's first on the list, no need to guess]. Quite easy an idea, only problem is to keep the hens in place, make sure the cats and dogs don’t get them, and ensure that our hostelmates don’t make a meal of them [That's what Shahrukh Khan does in Annie...].
- I read Wings of Fire a long while ago, and thought His Ex-Excellency must really be a humble and positive man to write so much about the Government without once mentioning how fazed he was by the redtapism. But after I discovered the actual writing was done by someone else, the only thing that struck me was that the style was, to say the least, SAD, and that I could have done much better. Hence, I want to write a biography of His Excellency. What’ll it be called? Well, I use a phrase commonly to say something isn’t as tough as it seems, and that it can be cracked without too much effort, and I want to emphasize on the simplicity of the man, and how he can be emulated, so the book is gonna be called “Being Kalam – It’s NOT Rocket Science!”
- This friend and me, along with Tuna, like watching cartoons more than any other TV shows on the LAN or outside (well, maybe where I’m concerned Blackadder might be an exception). We’re also die-hard fans of Mel Blanc, and Looney Tunes. So we wanted to found the Cartoons Club at NITK, where like-minded souls could gather to decide on which cartoons to show on Saturday/Sunday mornings at one of the Seminar Halls. But thanks to Nippon, all people watch here is Manga, and just maybe a bit of Talespin and Duck Tales.
- And, oh, yes, we’ve also researched on the best place to sit in class. The complete paper is here. We agree it is by no means complete, and we might be wrong in the detailed aspects of our calculations, but it works.
- After reading Life of Pi, I’ve grown to think deeply on the topic of Solar Stills. I think a deeper thought into the matter of water shortage at NITK with solar stills in mind might solve the problem atleast partly, if not fully.
- If we get into the education department of anywhere, one of the first things we’d want to do is change “There Is No Such Thing As Ghosts” to “Well… there may be things such as ghosts, but there’s no concrete proof, however I’d urge you not to completely rule out the possibility”. And people who close their eyes to the existence of the occult sciences [yes, sciences] are the same as those who refused to believe the earth revolved around the Sun, and those who believed the earth was flat, and those who believed that no machine could exist that would calculate.
But.. oh, well… we’re just going to turn out into an ad-film maker and a software engineer, or a software engineer and a software engineer, or maybe Ruler Of The World and Publicity Agent In Charge Of Total Brainwash.. I don’t know. I fear and fear accurately that these wonderful ideas will die a natural death as we get on with real life, the life outside of our respective heads, that I feel the need to preserve the supposed nonsense somewhere other than my unreliable memory. Maybe one day sometime in the distant future, I might chance upon this page and gain inspiration to solve one of my biggest problems from the idea of a girl who feared not to dream and plot without constraints, and did not worry that the world thought her ideas were downright crazy and laughable, that though she did this for dinner-time entertainment, somewhere deep down she knew they’d work, they only needed fine-tuning and financing… that the earth revolved around the Sun was a crazy, blasphemous idea once upon a time…
Much of what I’m going to say here has been said a million times elsewhere, so I’ll keep this quick and short.
So we can’t prove the existence of Maryadha Purushottam Ram. So he never existed. The Ramayana and Mahabharata are fairytales suitable only to make megaserials and cartoons from. Hindus are a bunch who Worship False Gods, a heathen lot, perpetrating inequality by establishing and strictly following a caste system.
Hinduism is a stumbling block on the Nation’s way to progress. The idolaters won’t even let nation-building activities (Never mind that the Sethusamudram project would at max let only small ships and vessels pass via Ramar Sethu, that inland transportation is easier and cheaper by road than by sea, and that it would increase the risk of tsunamis hitting the west coast, and the costs of the project would outweigh the benefits) take place successfully by citing their religious beliefs. When will they ever learn? How many more years before the brainwashing that starts from kindergarten will completely work with no exceptions?
Thank heavens we have photography. Otherwise maybe Hitler would have been remembered by future generations as a genial man driven to suicide by the rest of the world.
It feels like the humble beginnings of 1984. How much longer before the government has a Department of Misinformation which works tirelessly at modifying previous years’ data so as to make us believe, or rather understand, that we have made progress, we are always making progress?
Seriously speaking, would anyone even hear of razing down the Wailing Wall for a new superhighway? Or dispute the existence of Jesus Christ? Or of Virgin Birth?
Update: A considerable amount of literature survey has gone into the writing of this post. It tests my patience to have to go back again to square 1 to explain the whole Ram-Kahaani (excuse the expression) again to every ill-informed person, so here are a few fundae clarifying my position on the issue, and WHAT I am writing about, and what meaning each sentence holds/ is supposed to convey.
- To start with, the basic premise is, this is not an economically feasible project. So no response will be given to people who talk about “for the sake of economic progress”. Your point is simply not valid, not worth arguing about. And it’s too surface-level; you can use this for your primarySchool debate, or while having chai with like-minded pals.
- Another concern is the ecological concern. I suggest readers read this article before saying another word.
- My issue is not about whether Ram existed or didn’t. Who is to say he did? Or didn’t? There is considerable debate about whether Lady Godiva existed, whether William Tell existed, or whether Romeo and Juliet were for real or what… or for that matter, whether Shakespeare really existed or was the pen-name of someone else… all that is lost to the mists of time.
- So what am I arguing about if not any of the above? Well, it is this: in spite of the project being shown as non-feasible, and rather detrimental to the country’s progress, they are choosing to ignore this. They have gone as far to hurt the beliefs of a large section of the society. The same government which does not hesitate to ban Satanic Verses, or The Da Vinci Code goes about making statements such as this, in complete violation of Section 295(a) [Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.]. My issue is with the fact that this is a gross miscarriage of justice, of the spirit of secularism, and applying of double standards. It is a sad thing for India if the spirit and faith of the majority of its population is being broken to pieces and no one’s even noticing. To hell with pseudosecularists. No.. wait.. that’s where they originally came from!
- As for Holocaust and 1984, it is commonly said that the path to the Holocaust was paved with apathy. No one realized what was happening. It was “somebody else’s problem”, and people were taken in with Hitler’s words on ethnic cleansing, and really believed there was a “Jewish Problem”, which merited a “Final Solution”. At the beginning, Jews had to wear yellow Stars of David. It all started with something so insignificant. Students in school had a subject called Racial Science where they learnt about how Aryan race is superior to Semitic races. Every single thing in schools reeked of anti-semitism ["Number six, shaped like a Jew's nose"... that sort of thing]. While it all seemed insignificant, harmless little things, all together, they gave Jews themselves an idea of what they were, and the Jews themselves began to believe all that that was said about their inferior race, and some even went willingly. Only after WWII ended, and only because of the media attention and media portraying the whole operation negatively do we have such an idea about this. If most people today read Hitler’s propaganda, they would be quite taken in, too!
Well, there are some incidents we’ll never forget. Some of which get taller with time. And this one I’m going to write about is one of them.
Blame it on FinalYear, the universal explanation for all kinds of inexplicable behaviour, including inexplicable bouts of nostalgia. But… thing is… I’ve been hearing multiple versions of this tale, and I’d rather put down the facts once for all, ‘coz Truth By Repeated Assertion is a dangerous and effective device, and this is not one story which I’d like to develop add-ons and plug-ins.
Here goes… It was in my third semester, when my room was in the aisle, due to which cellphone signal I got in my room was pathetically minimal. I had to go out of the hostel block to have a conversation on the phone. So there I was one night after dinner, walking all around the Girls Block, around the mess, the Net Center, and near the gate, talking to Ma, telling her I’d almost stepped on a dog’s tail and got bitten the previous day. And just at that precise moment, this seemingly rabid dog nipped my calf.
I’d then started screaming, coz I’d read somewhere that that’s a way to scare off dogs, trying to shake the beast off my leg and shouting into the phone that I’d got bitten. I ran in through the door, with everyone I met on the way asking me to wash the bite, and my phone lost signal. I did wash it, and discovered that it was more or less a superficial bite, the mongrel hadn’t drawn any blood. My neighbor Nam took charge, and said we’d go to Suratkal.
By now, my parents had panicked, and adding to the confusion was the fact that I was not reachable. I met my roommate on the way going to S’kal, and filled her in, and said I’d be back soon. I was wrong then.
I later learnt that Ma and Pa panicked more than they ever had at that moment, and called my roommate, who had a bit of a job comforting them, allaying their fears of improper medical attention a bit. Their fears were not unfounded.
At Suratkal, we found that Chirashree, one of the hospitals was closed…. God! It was only 9 PM! With no other alternative, we went towards my impending doom, to Padmavathi.
Without doubt, this is the worst possible place for medical attention. The doctor and the nurse there cleaned the bite, and administered a tetanus shot.
“Was the dog rabid?” the Doc asked.
“Yes… no… I don’t know”
“You teased it?”
“It bit me for no reason”
“Hmm… then… it must be rabid”
I sedately nodded.
“You know, may-dum, you can just not say what might happen in such a case. I can give you Rabipur and get it over with, but even if a rabid dog’s saliva touches your skin, you can be sure of getting the disease.”
“So, to be on the safest side, I suggest you take a course of Immunoglobulin.”
“It will cost a lot, may-dum”
“Sixteen thousand rupees only. And it has to be done as soon as possible”
WTH WTH WTH. I don’t think me and Nam together would have this much in the bank!
“I.. er.. need to discuss this with my parents….”
*Voice Lowered* “May-dum, if you want, you can sue your college. It happened on your campus only, no? If you want, we will offer to fight your case”
“…and … er… with my Warden”
“Don’t make late, may-dum, it’s rabies we are dealing with”
“..and my family doctor”
So I made a call home, my parents had gone straight to our doctor there.
Dr. Ravikumar, a doctor in government hospitals who delivers babies for Rs. 25, treats dehydrated and malnutritioned children for Rs. 10, giggled when he heard of the incident. He laughed out loud when he heard about the immunoglobulin and fell off his chair when I came to the part about suing the college. He asked for the Padmavathi doc to be put on the line; he wanted to have a bit of fun.
I don’t know what exactly went on there, but the S’kal doc was red-faced after that, and Dr. Ravikumar sedately told me to leave the place as soon as possible, and go to KMC. He further said Rabipur would have been sufficient even if I had been brutally savaged by a pack of dogs.
I then came back to the hostel, packed off a few things, and me and Roomie left for KMC. We were just in time to catch the last bus to Mangalore.
After half an hour of dealing with irate support staff, and interns with an irritating sense of humour and nurses who were so bored they laughed at the interns’ jokes, we were ushered into the presence of a doctor, who, weirdly, was tall, dark and handsome. He assured us that there wouldn’t be any problem, he knew it was imperative we don’t try rushing back to NITK at this late hour, he’d ensure that we’d get to stay the night here, and anyway, we had medical insurance provided by the college.
That’s what we did, and I was released the following morning and got back in time for my classes. I was beseiged with many “How are you now??”s, and rabies is a slow disease that doesn’t give any initial symptoms and I was on an anti-rabies course now, I couldn’t think of anything to say other than “I’m fine… man, the Doc was goodlooking” completely shocking the hell out of the enquirer who might have assumed I had a night of pain and turmoil (nothing could be farther from the truth. I had a most peaceful night with none of the usual hostel noises – someone playing Himesh throughout the night, or Pehla Nasha, or someone celebrating a birthday).
The incident also ruffled a few feathers, and the GB III Block got swing doors to keep dogs out, something we’d been asking for for a whole semester. I’m also not so scared of dogs anymore, and my faith in Denim’s ability to reduce the intensity of bites has increased manifold. But more than anything, it brought me closer to my friends, and also gave me something nice to remember III Semester by, apart from the tumultuous, monotonous highway to hell it was, otherwise.
Well, I did say I won’t be posting for three weeks at the very least and all that, but the ratio of free time to blogging time reached an abnormal high, and while this one will somewhat attempt to normalize the ratio, it won’t quite be enough. I have exactly THREE theory courses this semester, one of which has had only one class so far, the other classes take seven hours a week. I don’t know what to say about that; my German class is six hours a week!
But this post, as the title might reveal, is not about my feeble attempts at learning Deustch, but about the course that I have four hours a week.
Well, this was one course I’d really been looking forward to, thanks to Database Management Systems in fifth semester being one of the best I’ve had. And the teacher was one who’d made Compiler Design come alive for us last semester, so I was hoping to do wonders with organizing data this semester.
Unfortunately, fate is not so kind to me as to let me attend my classes with patience and leisure, even when I can afford it.
At first it was because I’d taken my time coming back to college, thanks to bad, bad planning and scheduling. Then it was the Placements. And then I went home for a fair bit.
So that was three Monday morning classes gone. The ONLY classes we have on a Monday.
Then with everything settled, I thought attending classes would be a breeze. I have been proven wrong, wrong, wrong.
I asked this dear friend of mine three Sundays back about when the next day’s only class was. She, with the conviction and confidence that gets you through interviews at Amazon and Oracle, said it was in the third hour. So Monday morning, I wake an hour before when the class was scheduled to be, and then I see my classmates scooting off for class!! When I demanded an explanation from Ms. Oracle, she said she’d foreseen wrong… she had some impression that third hour started at 9 am or some godawful excuse like that [Have you heard of first hour at 7 am at NITK?]. Strike One.
The following Sunday night was full of thunder, lightning and clothes on the clothesline being blown far far away. As can be expected, the power was down, and my room swarmed with insects [Why me???] – black beetles and the like, not to mention mosquitos. Many a time that night, I thought of this girl and wondered if she would help me sue the manufacturers of Odomos for having an ineffectual product line. I had a horrible night, and my roommate has the whole of Monday off [she also has Friday off... someone please punish the Civil Engineers of NITK for having it all], the result of which was both of us woke up only at the stroke of ten. Strike Two.
And to top it all, attendance was pitifully minimal in that class, due to which the teacher gave us all a piece of her mind. The next class the next day saw close to 100% attendance, and I finally got to attend a class, leaving no doubt in the teacher’s mind about why I’d kept missing her classes.
Yesterday was the next Sunday. It was a night of revelry, of celebration, of all-night yapping. No, I did not miss today’s class coz I was too tired to get up. No, I did not miss today’s class because I slept through my alarm. I’d taken every possible precaution to avoid every single contingency. My entire wing was to ensure I wouldn’t miss Monday morning class, no matter what the level of revelry the previous night, no matter how late I went to sleep.
So I woke up on time, breakfasted [I can remember my German teacher's lines on split infinitives here, but that's for another post...] on time, went to class just in time… just in time to see a classmate getting told off for coming one minute late, and asked to shut the door and come for the next class. No, I didn’t dare to knock on the door after that. Strike Three.
I’m not overtly worried about shortage [though that admittedly is a worry, albeit small]. Just that I don’t want to be seen as letting finalYear get to my head and that I’m bunking classes for the fun of it by the people who matter… I’m not at NITK for my health, and bunking is anyway a shallow pleasure reserved for firstYears. And it’s not like bunking one hour a week gives me an overt amount of time to have fun in. It’s not like class is mega-boring… this is one course I’ve been looking forward to! And that’s why I don’t want to be missing classes left right and center.
Here’s a prayer to the God(dess) of Attendance, if there be one, hoping that I don’t miss the very few classes I have, which I am not FORCED to attend this semester, for a change, which I attend for the purpose of gaining knowledge, not to pre-empt possible attendance shortage.