So near……as always…..very far

India lost a winning battle……again. What I am tired of seeing is the lack of commitment from the Indian cricketers. All we had to do was bat out the entire day. By the standard set by Indian batsmen over last 5-6 years (individually), that should be a cup of tea. With fine examples set by captain himself (of not being in form for I don’t how many years) I don’t foresee any improvement in cricket.

Individual strength of each Bangladeshi cricketer could be say 10, but team strength comes out quite close to 110. With India, it’s a different story. Individual strength could be at average of 50, but team strength doesn’t cross 200. New Zealand may not have big stars, but their team strength matches to almost all teams (except Australia, who seem to have both individual strength and very very strong team strength). I am tired of comments from experts about India being too good on paper but mediocre as a team. Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar are easily one of the best batsmen in history of cricket; Anil Kumble is easily a legendary in bowling department. In onedayers, we had the most successful opening pair in form of Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. The big question remains: how do we manage to lose despite having these players?

Bigger question asked every time: why should only Sachin or Kumble alone shoulder the batting and bowling responsibility?

I see a major flaw in selection system which allows any player with just one good innings to retain his place for next twenty tests. Even the best players in Australia are sacked if they do not perform. We saw captains resigning after both ’99 and ’03 world cups after their teams’ poor performance. Having not won a single multinational tournament after Nat-west, we still have the same team as we did three years ago.

We do not learn from out mistakes. Repeated urges to improve fielding quality of the team has fallen on deaf years. In fact only two of the current cricketers focus on fielding. We do not stick to a standard batting order. The way our captain gets out in predictable. Why can’t India set up fast tracks? We need to win test matches abroad too. Indians adopted kookaburra balls long after almost every other test playing country recognized it as a standard.

Our bench strength isn’t strong enough to fill the void created if any senior player gets injured. Why shouldn’t regional level cricketers be exposed to higher standards of training? Why should the initiative of calling the county teams to India or state level teams to rest of the world be a big decision to make? Why shouldn’t one dayers be played at regional level too? There are several ways of improving the quality, but none of them are implemented. All I can do is hope that India wins the forthcoming one day series. All the best for the team. May the better team win.

Change the system

It has been some days since I have updated my blog, been busy with a set of lousy tests. I have been sleeping at about 3 for last few days. It is a disappointment to have tests based on memory rather than your understanding of concepts. Every night before the quizzes, most of us in the institute usually mug our way into the quizzes. It is the same with the entire country. Our education system stresses more on memory than our understanding. This is the marked feature of Indian exams, especially in social studies’ question paper.

A couple of years ago, I happened to see a comment on Indian education system as ‘trying to find out what you don’t know rather than what you know’. This indeed is very much true in my opinion. Academic excellence depends too much upon what you do on last day, and not on interest shown during the year. The marks you score is highly irrelevant to the knowledge you posses. It doesn’t do justice to most of the ‘lateral’ thinking students.

That’s the reason why most of the achievers in the world have been those who have not followed the crowd and shown their presence by their shear brilliance. Did you know that Picasso was remarked ‘uneducable’ by his teachers? Edison also shared the same fate as a child. Despite knowing all this, only a handful people voice their opinion against this. Only creative geniuses have the courage to go all out against the system. Some of them come up with ‘another brick in the wall’, which, no so surprisingly, has been the most influencing song. Our system kills any creativity that one has cultivated. (I do believe creativity can be cultivated; if one has right eyes or ears for it.)

We Indians excel at all places as technicians, but not as designers. The answer lies in the roots of our system which inherently curbs our thought process. None of these can change if year after year the questions remain ‘state five advantages of biogas plant’, ‘give six reasons why 1857 revolt failed’ or ‘what kind of crop are grown in eastern part of Africa’. Why is it the only academic success is seen as the real one and not sports or music?

It shouldn’t be surprising to find most of the world’s richest being school or college dropouts. Why is it that we don’t find people with interests varying from building your house from scratch all by oneself, in philately or other hobbies? I think the reason is curiosity is ruined by the system at a young age itself. What do you think?

Grass is greener….

If you are looking for a purpose to do something, don’t look. Why not do the things just for the love of it? Having gone through nearly two year of training to be an engineer, frankly I find engineering not at all amusing. I think when something is done for a purpose, it loses its charm. All around me, I find this unquenchable thirst for marks, making me wonder where exactly do we stand in our desire to become the best. Some of my friends run from pillar to post to get the extra two marks on their answer papers.

After parting from the stream of pure sciences, two years back, today I find those subjects more fascinating. Whenever, a challenging question comes up, I leap into it and probe into the solutions. On the contrary, if any good question on my engineering discipline is given, it takes me long time, if at all, to have a glance at the problem. It is just a case of ‘grass is greener….’, is it my interest (or lack of it), or is the thirst for marks that makes me avoid the topic altogether.

My main interest lies in algorithms. Some of my friends ask me if I practice programming to join a software industry. My plain answer is, “no, I just love spending my time on them.” For every task that is done, the crazy little thing called purpose is sought after. (Yes, I am listening to the queen’s song). Coincidently, the ‘crazy’ little thing called love is not looked for when it comes to choosing your professional life, its all about monthly pay check. We end up doing something which we have no passion for.

It is common, at least in India, to see parents discouraging kinds from spending time on drawing or sports. Its status remains, ‘not worthy enough to make your life.’ Any nurtured talent in the kid is lost.

Bhagwagita says that don’t think of the result when you do anything, just dedicate yourself to it. Most of us may not have an eye on the results, but we do hope for the results to follow. I seldom find people doing something from which negative (or no) is assured.

This is a lousy topic to write on, everything had been said a million times. That’s probably because it has been ignored million times. I end here stating my stand that I do believe that everything we do need not have a purpose. Hope I have not bored you. I am bored writing this. That’s why it is smaller than my other blogs.

Winds of change II

Sequels are never successful. With exceptions of LOTR and Harry Potter, none of them have been as successful as the first one. Why? Because they are usually no different from the original movie. This is my first sequel to any blog. This is indeed not different from the previous blog but for the fact that I have different examples. Yet I write this. I am not sure about how this will be received in comparison with the first one. If it’s received as well, “boy, am I talented or what?” If not I am just another guy who can’t make sequels.

50s saw the rise of rock ‘n’ roll. People wanted something more than the sound of jazz. 60s was phenomenal for rock ‘n’ roll. White did have reservations about the music, branding it as black’s music. Artists like Elvis did break the barrier and went on to become legends. 60s also saw the birth of politically conscience song writers in the form of Bob Dylan and others. By the 70s, world grew tired of the politically conscience lyrics and wanted something totally different. It was the turn of Aerosmith, The Who, Kiss etc to take on the world with their wild acts. Both on stage and off stage. The act of breaking guitars on stage popularized wild acts on stage. With people asking for more there was no turning back until they got way too predictable. 80s saw ‘moderate’ rock evolve and flourish. Yet again, it was wiped out as teen pop bands saw their fan club spreading. Nothing has happened in 00s as yet, I do see a musical history happening in a small time. Let’s wait and watch!

‘Old is gold’, so they say. In fact this is told only by older generation. It is them who don’t accept any change for good or for bad. Change could be as small as adding some fans in the workshops, the request is outright denied. Their usual reply is, ‘last batch suffered more, you are lucky, be happy.’ I wish I could answer back to them saying I agree last batch suffered but that doesn’t mean we have to suffer too. I hate when they say the music I listen to is crap. Ones or twice is fine, but not every time. They like the thing to be done traditionally, even when the same task of assembling components can be done hundred times more efficiently on a computer. The knowledge we earn on doing it the either way is one and the same.

ATMs are so convenient, aren’t they? A year ago, our ATMs had the facility to pay out mess bills. It was disappointing to learn that our hostel officials did not trust the technology. They asked us to produce the receipt every time bill is paid through ATM. They didn’t seem to understand that the whole convenience of ATM is lost.

Except for one or two forward looking Profs, institute doesn’t seem to be interested bringing in e-learning. Had our politicians been any younger, India would have been so different!

It is interesting to see ads on television which target younger generation, like Pepsi or Coke, they change very frequently. This is obvious when our generation is open to changes.

Alas, things do change, slow or fast. It is true when they say only thing that doesn’t change is change.

Winds of change

MTV president was asked, “Why MTV was that popular?” His reply was, “It is like an amoeba, it keeps changing.” Point noted. It is change which keeps us going. Every moment you learn something new, your perception changes, and your attitude changes. Compound this to one’s life time, one would have changed completely many times over. When I was freshie, I happened to go through a notice which said, “Five years from now, you will be the same person who are, except for the books you read, tapes you listen to, the friends you have…” I thought it was a good way of putting the point across. Little wonder when Newton and Leibniz came up the concept of ‘rate of change’, it changed the world.

Every afternoon when I get back to my room, I switch on my computer. Eagerly browse though LAN to find something new. And when I do, I am exited. I change my wall paper quite frequently. Winamp skin doesn’t remain the same for over a fortnight. I selected my frames for my glasses just because it looked different from the rest. I am library volunteer in my hostel, every week there are at least two students asking me if new set of book were bought.

A new game show on television is always looked forward to. A novel idea is received handsomely by the people. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with his idea on web-based email, it virtually revolutionized the communication system. Google’s development of Gmail wasn’t yet another email client on the web; it changed a lot of things.

My humanities professor talked about how technology has changed the way how people react, how people interact, and how it has brought about changes in every person’s lifestyle. You get an email now, when will you reply? Class’ unanimous answer was, “immediately”. Instead of an email, if it was a snail mail, reply took about 1 or 2 days. Just because email arrived fast, out tendency is reply quickly, not so with the snail main.

Good or bad, change is inevitable. One shouldn’t be surprised when anti-incumbency is a major concern for a ruling party in a democracy. The real reason why certain successful leader was toppled over is simply the ‘change’ that people were looking for.

Our hostel mess council meets twice or thrice in a semester to change the menu. The quality of food doesn’t improve anyhow, but change is always welcomed.

I love the slogan, ‘maggie hot and sweet chilly sauce, it’s different’. Captures anybody’s attention! People are obsessed with change, that’s why all our soaps and detergents are always ‘new and improved’. I am wondering when we were using ‘old and obsolete’ products. Some of us change our cars every 3-4 years just for a change, or try out a different genre of music once in a while. All of us love surprises, don’t we?

My mondays to fridays

Does it ever work for you guys if run your watch, say, 10 minutes fast? It never does for me. I have tried it several times. You have your alarm clock 15 minutes fast, it rings at 7:30, you know its 7:15, sleep for some more time end up waking up at 8. That’s what I don’t like about watches, it doesn’t wait for anyone. If it is fast, it remains fast. If it is slow, it remains slow.

It works for my room neighbour though. He is kind of guy who believes in running with time and all, not running behind it. It is good in a way. He has his clock about 10 minutes fast, lives by it. The thing is, he is so engrossed in studies and all that he probably doesn’t know that his clock is fast. He could be one of them who presume others are also living by his watch. This is not good. It is obviously very irritating to be woken up at 7:10 when you want to wake up at 7:15. It happens every day during our quizzes. When I sometimes think about it, it is not as bad as it looks. I mean, all he is doing is pulling me up. At least he is not the Indian frog who is trying to get the other frog down or something. He is a very soft person. He really is. I really wouldn’t want to scold him early in the morning for waking me up early, I just thank him instead. I think it’s phony to do that. I don’t want to be that way. I appreciate those who freely express themselves. I really do. But I am not one of those. This is all society’s fault. What I mean is, law gives you freedom of speech and all, but society prevents you from using it. What good is such a law?

Sometimes I do happen to wake up at the right time. I run to the bathroom with brush in one hand and tooth paste in the other. I don’t know why I never carry them in the same hand. It is a lot easier that way. Anyway, in my defense, our brains don’t work at those early hours. After I brush my teeth, I run to the mess and gobble the stuff up and run to class. Same is the routine of most of my friends. My neighbour, however, doesn’t fit into this routine. We all then rush to the class on our bicycles and all. The day begins.

This routine won’t last long. I know. Our dean has an idea of a mega mess serving food to all the hostel residents. The building construction has already started. It will be completed by end of this year. This has been out dean’s pet project, much like Atal Behari Vajpayee’s golden quadrilateral project. He was looking forward for this from the day we entered the institute. If you have read other blogs of mine, you would know that I love to have something to look forward to. Dean loves to look forward to his project. It is very good. You cherish every moment of your life that way.

Back to mega mess, I and my friends believe that when the mess is built, going to our breakfast will be an adventure on its own. It is not as close as hostel mess. I don’t intend to say I hate adventures or something. In fact I love them. But you can’t face an adventure everyday of your life. The pace of the current schedule is lost. You can’t run to the mess. You have to park your cycles first, take your food, and then get back to the business.

We reach our class, usually five minutes late. Some professors don’t care while others do. That’s peculiar with Profs, you can’t predict them. Some of them smile when we are late, others frown. It would have been nice if their reactions had been left behind just on the face. But some Profs take it to their nerves. They really do. They arbitrarily wave their hands and all. I don’t follow the sadistic pleasure they derive out of this.

After some fight, we usually get our way and sit in the class. I don’t know if it is because they are old or something, Profs don’t realize that we are hardly paying attention to them. When they do realize this, they make their best effort to come up with a joke. All of us laugh; yes we do, but sarcastically. It is too phoney, but they deserve it. Yet again I fail to understand Profs; sarcasm just isn’t enough to tell them that their joke sucks. I don’t mean to say they are dumb or something, but that’s the way they are. Some of them talk about morality and all. Why??? All of us may not be morally straight. No matter how immoral we are, we don’t deserve to hear the lousy speech.

Day passes, we have our lunch, and afternoon passes. Those who have afternoon free end up crashing for an impending night out. I like having aftees free. It is not like I am million times more productive or something. But I like to have my own time, for instance, to write a blog.

Then the evening comes, sports kicks on. Activity level is the highest between 5 and 7. That’s what I love about sports. It’s addictive. What is addictive is fun. It is much like alcohol or cigarettes. There is a difference to point out, alcohol and cigarettes are acquired taste whereas sports are instantaneous, like a candy. All of us may not have sporting spirit and all, but that doesn’t prevent most of us from enjoying it.

Dinner is served right after. Yes, at 7. It is crazy, don’t you think? It is our Profs who made the decision. We are forced to abide by it. We are asked to respect our teachers. I don’t get the elders either. Why should we respect someone just because he is our teacher? I don’t mean they don’t deserve it or something, some of them really do. But they are one of us who happened to teach. They picked their profession just like all of us did. If they picked teaching thinking of the guaranteed respect package, trust me, they don’t deserve any of it.

Evening consists of all the activities. It is mostly senseless conversation though. Some of us play games over the LAN. That’s the beauty of technology. It brings people closer even when he is in the next room. Late night activity is usually individual with their computers, like me with this blog. As I end this I shall resume reading ‘catcher in the rye’.

this blog is dedicated to…

A couple of weeks back, one of my friends was cribbing how screwed up or worthless his life was. I told him that I have a song for him. Out of nowhere he comes up with, ‘is it a love song??????’ He reasoned that i had said, ‘i had a song for him’. Thing were settled after about 2 minutes. If you are curious, the song was ‘always look on the bright side of life’ by monty python. I would love to dedicate this song to him on MTV. (No offence to Channel [V] or anything, but mtv fits, ask sting and dire striats why.)

It’s so lame to just dedicate a song to sombody! You can simply dedicate anything to anybody, Industries to nation, roads to a person, songs to a string of people, the list is endless. I lived in a place called Kudremukh for the first sixteen years of my life. A person who designed the place must have been an absolute moron. There is a bus-stand right inbetween a school and the playgroung, there is sewage plant in fornt of a jain temple, practically no foot path, church, mosque and a temple are way on top of three different hill making in inaccesible, the administration building and the iron ore mines are on two opposite sides of the town etc etc.Way back in ’99, a dam (named ‘lakya’) was dedicated to the nation. Lavish party was organised for the iron and steel minister in this pretext. The irony is that, only slurry out of the mines are dumped into it. Come on, our nation deserves much more than that! Right now the industry in middle of a major issue of pollution and being located on a national park. It is in the verge of getting closed. I guess mother India did teach the mines a lesson.

Request shows on radio or tv for every one is like ‘been there, seen that’. The most painful part of the shows are with the dedications. They range from grand mothers to girl friends. It is hilarious when the RJ or VJ himself doesn’t know the song he is playing and people go about dedicating the songs. Even if it’s right with most of us, you can’t dedicate ‘everything about you’ to your mother, or even better… to your girlfriend. ( the song is actually ‘…i hate everything about you…’ by ugly kid joe). I love it when an RJ stops taking dedication and even then the guy on phone is persistent on dedications. I pity the guy, he is being denied what can be done without anybody’s consent and more importantly, for free.

From what I observe, dedications on a book are usually given to dead people and for a song, the limelight on a living person. To add a twist, some book are dedicated to just the memory of the dead guy, but not the guy himself. And for something as arbitrary as a dam, it is dedicated to something as arbitrary as a nation. For some reason dedication on a book is strictly restricted to author’s family while a song could go to the prime minister. For something as massive as oscars or the grammys dedication go only to the parents. It can easily be inherited back, you know. Fans do get their part sometimes. The exact share of dedication to the fans is always unknown.

Some do believe the dedications help you to tell a person that you care. Yes, things are so easy when someone else does them for you. Plus, dedications are easy way to get out a situation when you owe somebody something. All you lose is a phone call. Dedications do go to the special someone. That is the easiest way to get out of all your debts!

Alas, habits die hard, we will continue to be stupid. But thats what makes this world a livelier place to live in. By the way this blog is dedicated to all its readers and the dedicated bloggers.

Tech talk

My friend, two days back, was asking us on what we look forward to this semester. We were talking about uninteresting courses we have this semester. Thanks to the administration of IITM, we have been enjoying with our LAN and Internet for about 6 months now. What the diro and other admin people have done is given us a thing or two to look forward to. It could be a movie, a song or even your project, technology has always guided us through. This time around, it has kept every one occupied. With vested potentials of LAN known to all of us, not a single minute is spared in this institute to use it to the maximum.

If anyone has visited my profile here, you find one of my interests to be algorithm and programming. I have enthusiastically taken part on all online programming contests I have got my hand on. I use internet to look out for tougher problems and better competition. It’s wonderful for all of us to wake up every day, and think of something challenging and ponder over it for the rest of the day. Internet is always an answer to any project, any presentation or any assignment we are given.

The story has a bitter part too. In the humanities course of mine, the free-rider attitude was talked about. It’s simply something in you that says you alone cannot bring the system down (or up). That unfortunately is problem with the LAN here. Not everybody shares files that are worth sharing, because of which all of us are losing out more entertainment. What people don’t understand here is that every individual can make LAN better. Share files, people! That’s what LAN is for.

Yet again there are other set of people who open files over LAN itself causing comps to slow down, the irritated user then stops sharing his files. This is further emptying the LAN. This is just a food for thought: the free rider’s attitude is what making India such an unclean place to live in and such a corrupt nation to be ashamed about!

We and our IPs

What occupies a small, but significant, part in an IIT-M ians life is making graffiti on the notices on the notice board. In an effort to be different, we call the notices IPs, standing for internal publicity. The fact remains that hardly anything we do deserves publicity, except acads of course.

IPs fall into a set of categories like lost, lost and/but found, literary or sports events, extramural lectures and misc. As I was saying, ‘lost’ IPs usually involves losing cell phones, wallets or cycles. I am sure you would agree here that these don’t deserve publicity. IPs of ‘Lost and found’ category are rarely seen, but come with strings attached: ‘Treat expected’ Yet again, does out greed need publicity? If anything quality needs publicity, it’s honesty. That’s exactly the reason why politicians, though shameless, are popular.

To be frank, the lit activities do set high standards here. Those standards are set by not more than ten individuals. Lit skills of an average IITMian don’t deserve publicity either. Next in the line are extramural lectures. Is it something that WE do? Obviously not.

Misc category is better not talked about. Those are something that an average IITMian maggu doesn’t care about. Before concluding this, I must tell you that a misc IP is not ignored when the reference to grade cards is seen. IPs from NSS are keenly read by all the freshers. An innocent outsider would definitely find that the social service minded people are just the freshers, who are sure to turn anti-social in following years.

Talking about graffiti, as a fresher, the unknown destroyer was elevated to the standards much higher than any writer known. Little did we know that it gets predictable after some time, annoying after some more, chocking after a little more and inexpressible as it stand now.

IPs that are stylish are the first targets of this destroyer. In an older blog, I had talked about how easy it is to find fault with others. This quality in all of us is easily reflected on our notice boards. Not coincidently, this is not a quality that requires special publicity. All that is done is rhyme what is written with certain anatomical parts which aren’t uttered by her majesty, the queen. I am not so sure about the king.

All said and done, it is these IPs which brings the whole student community together. This includes (the minority) hard workers too. The jobless ones are always united. That’s the first thing we read in the morning before reading newspapers and last thing we read before dinner. A new IP is like a boring magazine, but one that is eagerly looked forward to. The destroyers continue to prey, the others continue to crib. This crib of having to read the graffiti somehow goes under publicized, while this is the only thing that requires publicity.

Almost Famous

“…Then daddy came in to kiss his little man, with gin on his breath and the Bible in his hand, and he talked about honour and things I should know it really didn’t matter how far I go…”

A country music fan will immediately recognize this as a song from the great Don Williams. This is the thing about celebrities, them and their conversation with their elders or parents. My question is, has such a thing ever happened to you? Have your parents ever taken you out for a walk and given you the words of wisdom? All that I have seen is my teacher shouting at top of his voice asking us to be ‘ideal’ and we students seldom paying attention to it.

About 6 months back, I was watching an interview given by Richard Feynman after receiving his Nobel Prize for Physics. He happened to narrate a similar story in his childhood. He talked about advice given by his father when he was young and how practical his father was then. Yanni shared the same experience in his concert in India or China. “…The best things in life are inside each one of us…blah blah…” I am still wondering how much of these stories are actually true.

I have never had such a talk with my parents, nor have any of my friends. Perhaps that’s the reason why none of us are famous 😉 All of us are good at blaming others for our misfortunes (not fortunes) anyway. Trust me, the easiest thing on earth to do is find fault with others! “It’s all because of you man”.

“…I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be. So what do you do with good ole boys like me?…”

PS: The last lines are from the same song, ‘good ole boys like me’ , Don Williams.