I am the alpha and the omega
July 31, 2004
Cohn's Law
The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything. Stability is achieved when you spend all your time doing nothing but reporting on the nothing you are doing.

The concluding series of

Down the Memory Lane - Part IV

Going to college is a huge transition step for anybody.
Including me.
The entire cycle of meeting friends everyday, academics, hostel life, cultural and technical festivals are sure to come as a new experience for everybody.
What I am going to try to describe here is only a slice of that.
You have to be IN HERE to get the whole cake.

As first years, we were only headed by the (un)trusty seniors who asked us to go and cheer for the hostel in the Inter-hostel WM finals, or do some layman's job like cycling around for the clues in the Treasure Hunt or volunteer work for the Hostel Fete, etc.
While all this seemed quite a bit boring (to say the list), it is what got many interested into the entire world different from what IIT's are associated with, academically. That interest did seep into me to, but after the first year, I couldn't sustain it for long. I was more inclined towards studies. Sudhon would be a better guide here. (Probably, I should ask him to write a bit here.

Of course, another aspect where IIT Madras was always famous for Saarang (Mardi Gras, for ol-timers), the biga-mega-giga culfest, and Shaastra - the tech fest.
The first Saarang, I was unfortunate to miss (I was invited to attend the RD parade in New Delhi - at the same time). But the other three, I did put my head there. (U can read my review of the last one in the January Archives).
Saarang was always the grand conglameration of spicey events and high-voltage gigs and, of course, I admit it, a literal Baywatch. The mega quizzes which ran into the wee hours of the morning, the head-banging rock shows, the informal stalls designed to make everybody look like fools, and yet tempt them with prizes, the popular dramatics, choreo and the JAM sessions were all but Masalas in a tasty pickle. The Saarang '04 T-shirt sayings:
Bush around the beat.
Leave no turn unstoned.
Leaf over a new turn.
Live a Saarang

But Saarang was much more than all of that. A quintessential thread of the Spirit of Saarang ran through it, which could only be realised, understood and digested, but never can be taken.

Shaastra, the tech fest, more famous for attracting geeks, and non-geeks into fellow geeks.
Jus Kidding
This techfest, now having recently got the ISO 9001 certificate (which means that all events started and ended on time - a stark contrast to Saarang), is but a conglobation of events tied up to represent a tech fest. I literally wanted my body in many parts so that I could attend the quizzes, the gaming arena, the lectures, the video-conferences, the workshops and many many other events.
But I loved the gameodrome the best. For two Shaastras I had put nite-outs to play some of my fav-games on the LAN with eight other equally enthusiastic people.
This truly unique event, I will miss a lot.

Apart from Saarang and Shaastra, we had events all year round; the points won by the teams being added to hostel points, so that, at the end of the year, it could be decided which was the best hostel. (In fact, that title was taken by my hostel after a very long time).
While these were the more happier aspects of being in IITM, there are, still some placid aspects for the diffident. The innumerable runs to the Academic sections (which I still have to do), ganging up together to go to the outside world, the innumerable treats at swank hotels, the hostel nites everybody's life was turned inside out and where final farewells were given and innumerable events, episodes and debacles that go to form part of the everyday life at IIT, which are too big to describe in words, is what makes it different from other colleges.
Finally, the convocation which got over the day-before, was probably the final time I would meet most of my college. Friendships forged over a long period of time, will now be strained taut with only the emails and messengers saving it. (Ironical, isn't it, as it is Friendship Day today). I will truly miss all the people whom I have had acquaintance with and felt close.

With the getting of the degree, one of the threads holding us to this honorable institution has now been cut. Only the Alumni Association, can hopefully, keep us in contact.
From the first sight of IIT during my early years of life, to now, I have gone through many stages and events, but IIT WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF MY HEART. A remembrance of who I am and what I am and how much I owe to this noble institution and the country which has it.

That concludes this Mini-series. Hope you had as much fun reading it, as I did, writing it.

Posted by satosphere at 10:34 PM

July 30, 2004
Cohen's Laws of Politics
Law of Alienation
Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate.
Law of Attraction
Power attracts people but it cannot hold them.
Law of Competition
The more qualified candidates who are available, the more likely the compromise will be on the candidate whose main qualification is a nonthreatening incompetence.
Law of Lawmaking
Those who express random thoughts to legislative committees are often surprised and appalled to find themselves the instigators of law.
Law of Permanence
Political power is as permanent as today's newspaper. Ten years from now, few will know or care who the most powerful man in any state was today.
Law of Secrecy
The best way to publicize a governmental or political action is to attempt to hide it.
Law of Wealth
Victory goes to the candidate with the most accumulated or contributed wealth who has the financial resources to convince the middle class and poor that he will be on their side.
Law of Wisdom
Wisdom is considered a sign of weakness by the powerful because a wise man can lead without power but only a powerful man can lead without wisdom.

My Degree
I will upload other snaps when I get time.

Click on the Convocation Album to see the pics.
I must add that I am not very photogenic.

Meanwhile, something to ponder over.
Seen in a pamphlet on TVS Car Service
Tips to maintain your car:
1. Don't drive in the sun.
2. Don't drive in the rain.

Posted by satosphere at 11:18 PM

Cohen's Law
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts -- not the facts themselves.

Convocation - A Dress Rehearsal

Yesterday was being purported as the rehearsal for the Convocation today. It was more of the shim sham than anything else.

First stop was to collect the ceremonial robes. Robes that were so old that at first glance of the torn threads and frayed threads, I thought that they were actually worn by Kings of Yesteryears. Only after the glance at the only neatest portion of the robe - the name tag that said
Mount Rd., Madras

did I realise that it was stitched specially for this. Still, having heard horror stories from friends about how the color comes on to the white shirt underneath when we sweat, I was apprehensive on wearing the pure white formals that I had got for this occasion.

Second stop was the Student Activities Center Auditorium (SAC, for short) where the 41'st Convocation is to be held. I entered with a couple of friends and all that was was about 30 confused people milling around on stage, and about 300 on the seating area, trying to match this confusion.

At 4pm, when the actual program was about to stop, the only thing that was announced on the mike was the regular nonsense:
"Mike Testing, Mike Testing
One Two Three

Check. Check

Why cant they say Mate or Cash or John Testing. Four Five Six or something like that. It would make it more fun.

But it was not all that bad. Met a lot of classmates and old friends. Old Gangs were formed and new information was passed. The most asked question there was, of course:
"When are you leaving?
Where are you going?
Are you all packed?"

and similar related questions. Email id's were also exchanged a lot.

Later, went to hostel. Met some of my old friends. Did dearly miss the riotous Tam group. Many were stuck up at IIMA and IIMB and still others at jobs. Ended up spending a lot of time chatting and gossiping.

Then went with the entire lot to the OAT for watching Matchstick Men, specially screened for the Convocation. Amazing acting by Nicolas Cage. But the ending was an anticlimax. I expected more.
After getting drenched in rain, I reached home safely, much to the surprise of my parents.

Today is the big day. I get to get my degree certificate today. (Though many seem to wonder what I have done in the past 4 years to deserve a degree)
Snaps will be uploaded as soon as I get my hands on them tomorrow morning.

Posted by satosphere at 12:12 AM

July 27, 2004
Clyde's Law
If you have something to do, and put it off long enough, chances are that someone else will do it for you.

Too many things happening in too short a time.
Its as if life is speeding by these few days, leaving just very little breathing space to even blog.

  • Saw Spiderman 2. Amazing movie. It really hit the Sentimental note a lot this time; it also focuses on how the hero of Spiderman has to cope up with real life issues such as college, job, money and girlfriend. The icing on the cake is of course the amazing camera work and graphics.
  • Had a whale of a time in the weekend. Went to Maayajaal with friends (where I saw Spiderman 2) followed by a boat ride at nearby Muthukadu, followed by a lovely evening spent at an very isolated section of the beach on ECR and finally ending by a dinner at Elliots beach with family and friends. Just a break that I needed. (Imagine driving at a 100 on the ECR at nite with Yakkai Thiri blasting on the background).
  • Just recently got a Sony DVD player. After watching the classic Home-Alones, I switced over to the more mature Comedy in Julia Roberts; classics including My Best Friends Wedding, Runaway Bride, Pretty Woman. Truly hilarious. I will soon top it up with Lord of the Rings and the Matrix trilogies.
  • Finished reading God of Small Things. An opine: It is a comples story of a complex family with this huge complex. While the entire story revolving around the reactions of a family about an affair between a Touchable and an Untouchable told as such would have made it ordinarily plain, the style of writing, the mastery over metaphors and similies and the sentence construction, the constant time-shift between the past and the present in a very fluid manner makes it an amazing reading. It was because of the very same reasons that I had had to give up twice before, before even reaching the second chapter.Thank god for boredom which made me pick this book (which I had had for 4 years)
  • Registered myself for the World Cyber Games prelims for NFS Underground and UT 2004. Starting tomorrow. I know that it is going to be very difficult, but I just want to have some fun at multiplayer gaming.
  • My Convocation is on the Friday, with the Rehearsel on Thursday. Getting excited. This is probably going to be the last time I am going to be seeing all my College friends too.
  • Finally, the packing part is about 90% done. Just a few minor things more. And everything I am taking seems to fit comfortably within the 64 Kg and the 2 suitcase limit.

Posted by satosphere at 11:09 PM

July 25, 2004
Clopton's Law
For every credibility gap there is a gullibility fill.

Down the memory Lane - Part III

I was always branded as a pseudo-hostelite. Truth is, I went home only to watch TV, play on the comp, and more importantly: do the laundry. What that little two days spent at home afforded in terms of reducing home-sickness is just trivial. I hardly ever got homesick during the 4 year period, inspite of once staying a month in the hostel during a difficult period of end-sem exams. Thus, while I may not get classified as a true "Hostelite" as I had only stayed on an average 5 days a week in the hostel, it did give me a good perspective on what hostel-life is all about.

My original hostel had been, as mentioned before: Mandakini. But as the leaf turned over, it so happened that not enough seniors left in order to accomodate all the incoming juniors. So some had to invariably shift. That some included me. I was transferred, or rather, asked to be transferred to Alakananda Hostel, where there was a larger proportion of Chennai-ities and a larger proportion of branch-mates in my batch. Was it a change for the better. I suppose it was.

I still remember:

The long nite-outs, spent many times farting (meaningless gossiping and NOT creating an atmosphere of noxius air and pungent smells), discussing events, rumors, anecdotes, stories, news, books, academics, silly profs and their sillier actions and their silliest method of teaching courses; spent sometimes studying for exams; spent many times gaming; and finally spent doing nothing but watching movies.

The sometimes early morning rides I undertook with friends to the nearby Beasant Nagar beach to enjoy the morning sun, and sometimes a cool walk.

The afternoons spent crashing heavily, until someone with no sense decided to wake us up so that he could have company to go the mess for tea.

The evenings sometimes spent playing games, sometimes swimming, sometimes reading books (some new book always found the way into the wings - new books ready to be read, reviewed, criticised and then shamelessly passed on).

The messing around in the mess, noon and nites, eating food aka grub (though it could hardly be classified as one) with a heavy heart, discussing abject subjects with an even abject interest. Fussy Lucky ones managed to stay out of the circle of hostel messes completely, feeding solely on the snack crumbs at the nearby bakery in the evenings and a regular "Garden restaurant" in the nite and once again, in the late-nite. The availability of ice-creams in the messes and the opening of a Dhaba really spiced up the last year of hostel-stay.
Even otherwise, the bad grub was completely offset by the innumerable treats that were given (and shamelessly taken too) in multifarious restaurants around the city. Popular ones being the Sangeetha and Shakes & Creams in Adyar, Residency, Dhaba Express in Beasant Nagar to name a few.
I also contributed by bringing grub from my house which relatives pretentiously left at my place thinking that I lived in a out-of-civilisation tribal area. Grub that included tasty namkeens, washed out chips, cakes, pastries, and some traditional sweets. I just assumed that it was in their best interests. But that did help me in me becoming more popular among the guys because I got good food to offset the measly hostel grub.

The Eating Out that sometimes formed a part of End-Sem completion celebrations, mostly observed by dipping bodily into the waters of the Bay of Bengal, frolicking in the sand and consummated finally by cosuming food at nearby restaurants.

While all this seemed rosy, there were quite a few disadvantages of staying in hostels, especially at IIT Madras; a scenario quite not possible in other IIT's. Problem: Lack of water.
The lack of water which coerced hostel management to get water supply through tankers, which effected the release of water daily to be limited to a period of 2 hours: one in the morning and one in the evening, forcing the billigerant hostelites to catch water every nite so that water would be available in the morning to atleast brush teeth and "Do the Loo", and if possible, take bath, or better yet, stay bath-free for a week. THANK GOD for Deoderants.
This total water scarcity which had forced compression of more than two semesters (from 5 day week to 6 day week so that the sem would close 3 weeks earlier) also caused the non-washing of the BOGS (Bathroom Of Graduate Students, as we always called 'em) resulting in toilets so dirty for weeks that we would have gladly used the public corporation toilets.

Another "Unique" problem to IIT hostels: Monkeys. Actually: the common langur.
Initial observation brands them as:
"Oh, Look at it. Its so cute nibbling on that leaf."
"Wow. Look there. Its so cuddly."
"Hey. There is one grooming the other. Can there be anything sweeter?".

Bull s**t. One week of stay in the hostel is enough to change anybody to gun-toting, shotgun riding, ready-to-shoot-any-monkey mood. One week. Thats all it takes.
My first experience with them: First year. I brought a huge load of home-made namkeens and a cake from house. While going to the afternoon session of class, the window was left open by mistake. Come evening. I open the door the a nite-mare. Namkeen spilt and spread all over the floor. Mineral-water-in-a-can tipped over, gurgling slowly, wetting and softening everything. And to complete the party celeberations, columns of red ants that decided to do the cleaning work.
Ended up spending the whole evening cleaning the mess.
Come every afternoon, there is a monkey raid. Apart from tipping over garbage bins and making the corridors dirty, they surreptitiously enter the rooms, make everything dirty, untidy, and untouchable and sometimes entertain us by "making babies". The worst part was, just after the BOGS are cleaned, they come over, spoil and soil everything, leave the taps running (wasting the little water that was available for bathing) and sometimes scare innocent hostelmates doing their loo.
Argh. I still hate em.
All this apart, life in hostel was fun, inspite of not having even LAN among the rooms. I must say that the magic of staying in hostels completely took me by surprise. A feeling that shud, rather, ought to be enjoyed by anybody who joins this institution.

Posted by satosphere at 10:08 PM

July 23, 2004
Cleveland's Highway Law
Highways in the worst need of repair naturally have low traffic counts, which results in low priority for repair work.

Down the Memory Lane - Part II

I admit. Academics in college IS different from that of a school. But what I didnt expect when I took that leap from school to college is the total stark change in the method of teaching, the system of academics and the intricacies of college education.

First Day. Monday morning (Why does it always have to be a Mon Day?) Me. Cycling furiously in sweltering weather towards the distant classes. (On retrospection, the distance seems to have reduced as the years passed by.) Reaching the Class Room Complex. Confused as to where to go. Asking equally, if not more, confused students where to go. (Remember the dis-orienting orientation?)
First class: Material Sciences. 100 (equally?-)brite students jotting down seriously and sincerely the syllabus, books, prof's names, email id's and room no's followed by the heaving at the overwhelming enormousness of the entire thing, the quizzes, the mid-term exams, the end-sems, the assignments.

Days passed. Courses passed. Snickering remarks behind the back of bad profs, didnt-know-what-they-were-teaching profs, pedantic profs, passed. Exams passed. Assignments successfully passed. End semesters successfully passed. Waiting anxiously for grades, passed.
And then the whole routine, again. Over and over again. 7 more times. The only thing changing: more courses, more tougher courses, more assignments, more difficult exams; and the added project work in the last sem.

Typical first year problems faced by me and everybody, fazed me and everybody.
A course called ID110, Engineering Design Principles, which involved the brains to sow their engineering skills into practical problems: like measuring the length of a 2km long road, without surveying instruments; like measuring the height of a water tower, using trignometry: like developing a cantilever out of broomstik and have the maximum weight held/cantilever weight, (Mine came third at 500gm/8gm) did kindle the interest of all students.
An interest which was never rekindled afterwards.
A course called Engineering drawing. Memories revived everyday by seeing juniors hurrying to classes in their huge drafters, and the even larger chart boxes. It was quite a fun course. 3 hour long sessions of drawing, followed by even more furious rubbing, moving scales around, asking the girls innocently as to what to do next, inspite of having finished it already. The AutoCAD sessions really spiced my day. They made the job of Engineering drawing much more easier. (The S grades I had got in both the Drawing courses did help buoy my spirits).

The dreaded workshop. Especially the fitting workshop. 3 hour workshop Heads made us 3 (sometimes 4) hour drones, shafing the file mindlessly over a stupid iron piece which wouldnt care less if it werent filed and then, miraculously increased in size. The files, with equally ridiculous names, only job was to file away our hands, leaving way to blisters and torn skin to take over the pain that resided for the next week.

For the not so lucky: NCC. A dreaded 3 letter 4 hour gruelling session, that dragged us every weekend day early in the morning, for 20 days a year. Wasting most of the energy saved from eating the thimble sized morsels at the hostel mess into stomping the ground in torn, but yet, still hard boots under a hot sweltering sun; the only consolation being a small creamless cake and a hot puff, which, most of the time went to the mouth of a more hungry dog that promptly and punctiliously came to every NCC session. The 20 day "compulsory" "camp" conducted in one of the hostels was perhaps the last straw.

Somehow, the last 4 years have passed by. 'N' nerve-wracking nite-outs doing assignments, mugging for exams, doing project work. I persevered. I didnt give up, unlike the exceptionally some who did. I survived.
Academically, I was, perhaps, successful. I can't say otherwise. So many other things I had wanted to do, yet couldnt...

Next Post: Hostel Life.
To be continued...

Posted by satosphere at 10:05 PM

July 21, 2004
Clarke's Law of Revolutionary Ideas
Every revolutionary idea -- in Science, Politics, Art or Whatever -- evokes three stages of reaction.
They may be summed up by the three phrases:
1."It is completely impossible -- don't waste my time."
2."It is possible, but it is not worth doing."
3."I said it was a good idea all along."

Mini Blogger's meet.

Just back from what was a Mini Blogger's meet. Or was it a Blogger's Mini meet.
Truly, it proved to me that Indian Time is IST + 1/2 hour.
Make that 1 hour.

While I was getting ready to come - to JavaGreen, a coffee and drinks outlet in Adyar, I called up Ravages aka Chandrachoodan, he said that we would be meeting between 5:30 and 6 pm. I graced the occasion by my presence at 6:15 pm. The rest started arriving after 6:30pm. The last person came at around 6:45pm.
The total tallied to 8: Ravages, Lazy Geek, Swami, Senthil, Deepak, Krithika and Balaji.
While we pondered over the decision of whether to eat there as the contingent was too big for that place, the rains which had avoided Madras stringently for the past month suddenly started pattering their drops lopsidedly all around us.
We waited for it to subside from a sharp shower to a drizzle, and then decided continue the "meet" at Shakes and Creams.
So while we did grasshopper-hopping over puddles and ditches and butterfly-fluttering over little ponds to reach to that place, the rain started to increase in intensity. So, for a while we took shelter under an overbridge ("Bridging the blogger's meet?")
At that place.
Over handfuls of Afghan raisins while deciding the menu, we discussed almost all matters under the sun - or the rain at that time. Including movie reviews, book reviews, funny incidents and anecdotes alike.
We also had a pass at Ravages' post of Junior Copywriter. Last time, it was his Selective Amnesia. (He selectively forgot about that too.)
While I had a Belly-Dancer to entertain me, others went to a high with scoopfuls of Brown Sugar. A love traingle was also enacted with the Sultana's Romance.
Finishing touches given by exclusive scoops about upcoming future posts in the next month by the bloggers there.
A couple of snaps that I had got.

Lazy geek, the money handler.
A tradition of catching the money-handler off gaurd.

The entire gumbal, except me.
Couldnt help but cut off Ravages.

Posted by satosphere at 1:08 PM

July 19, 2004
Clarke's First Law
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
Corollary (Asimov)
When the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists, and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion -- the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, right.
Clarke's Second Law
The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.
Clarke's Third Law
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Walker's Delite

The Sunday, which went past, brought me irresistably to the Thiruvanmiyur beach.

Attracted by the sweet smell of success of going there, BY CYCLE, I hopped on on what was to be a very LONG journey, lasting 45 minutes from my place.
Absorbed by the fables I heard about it as being a very secluded shopless beach, I managed to pull myself out of the bed (with a small thanx owed to the blood-suckers king: mosquito) at an unearthly hour of 5:30, and landed there at the beach by 6:30.

A half hour of walk there, cool breeze, hot sun, cool sand, hot body, cool water, hot thirst, cooled my senses irrevocably.
And soothed my painful calfs.
And made me ready for the return journey.

Thiruvanmaiyur Beach. No frills. No bills. Pure walk. Pure exercise.

This place is a pure walker's delite. Azure blue sky, clear waters, beautiful houses apart, the secluded, unknown to many, known to a few, shop-less (fish-stall-less, bajji-stall-less, corn-stall-less, ice-cream-stall-less, shooting-practice-stall-less, balloon-stall-less), plastic-less, traffic-less beach is a perfect location for walking.
Marina beach: too crowded. too polluted.
Elliots beach: too crowded. too small.
Thiruvanmaiyur beach: empty. small. but not crowded.

A beautiful sea-side brick house by the beach

Next time, you want to go to a beach, but want to get away from it all, but still want to stay in the city, try this one. Its too good.

A tree-lined road in Thiruvanmaiyur.
From an ant's perspective!

Care to guess the road's name?

Posted by satosphere at 12:10 PM

July 17, 2004
Clark's Law It's always darkest just before the lights go out.

A Slice of Kabul

My dad, having just recently returned from Kabul, got loads of snaps of Kabul. Since many would not really know what the country is like, here, what I am trying to depict is just a small sliver of the life of Kabul, and the country that is Afghanistan. Courtesy, the digital cameras of many Indians working there.

The traditional Roti consumed by Afghanis, along with meat and beef.
I ate a piece and it was tasteless.

A carpet being displayed at a store in Afhanistan.
My guess is that it is a woollen one. A costly one : 200$

Winter in Kabul. Puts me in all sorts of fantasies, because

A rancher herding fat sheep. Way outside Kabul.

One of those fat sheep's posterior.
It is carrying a HUGE LOAD of Fat.

On a picnic trip 50 km north of Kabul.

A perfect picture postcard photo.

Posted by satosphere at 12:02 PM

July 14, 2004
Clark's First Law of Relativity
No matter how often you trade dinner or other invitations with in-laws, you will lose a small fortune in the exchange.
Corollary - Don't try it: you cannot drink enough of your in-laws' booze to get even before your liver fails.

The following few posts are memories of my college-years, which just got terminated recently. Memories, triggered by the Invitation to my Convocation, signifying the end of all ties with my college, and the recent counselling sessions, the beginnning of any student's entry into IIT.
Besides, these are memories that should be closely treasured by, before they all
So incoming, a collexion of the recollexion of memories, anecdotes, interesting bits and memorabilia, that just go to make up my college life.

Down the Memory Lane, Part I

I still remember the very first trip I had made into IIT, just to see the rank I had got. Even though it was posted at the entrance, and even though I did not go more than 10 meters into the campus, it just got me a whole lot closer to the dream I had had since my 10th.

I still remember the counselling sessions (mine was on the first day itself) , where we had to choose the branch and the IIT where we had to go. The last minute decision (it was, infact, exactly the last minute) to bump up Mechanical @ IIT Madras over Electrical @ IIT Kharagpur made me what I am today. The thought that this blog mite not even have existed does put a bit of fear. I am happy now that things have headed in a good direction.

I still remember the orientation function afterwards. In my mind, as in everybody else's, it was as dis-orienting as possible. The seniors (including girls, or non-males, as everybody refers to) giggling from the floors above, sneering at the next victims that they could pounce upon as soon as we entered the hostels did not present a pleasant site.

I still remember the day I moved into the hostel - Mandakini, to be exact, on the eve of the day before the classes started. We were bunched up, three in a room (designed for two). It was often said by returning alumni, that the one thing they would remember after leaving IIT, is their hostel room numbers, which almost becomes engraved in one's mind. I cannot just put it in any other better way. Mine was 368 A, the 'A' signifying that I was the first in that room; the other two being a Northie guy in Electrical, and then luckily, a Tam guy in Metallurgical, who had come to the same JEE coaching classes with me. Consolation for me. Sudhon was in the same hostel, 4 rooms from mine.

I still remember the first time I got ragged. A group of quite note-worthy seniors caught me just as my parents left me and then asked me to do some quite wierd stuff. I got through, and IT was quite a mental hell for me. Then on, the decision never to rag others stuck to my mind.

I still remember the first food that I had had at the mess. While, to some, it did cause allergic reactions, constipations, and some vomitting even, I could just manage it. Physically, I could not find anything wrong with it. Apart from the insects, beetles and spiders which occasionally find its way into the huge buckets of sambar, rasam, equally huge vessels competing for size for rice and curry and the dinner plates, or the water that would have made sea water taste like mineral water, there was nothing wrong with it. It was just plain boring, and not tasty either. But, it was just food. And a man needs to eat. I soon ended up competing for the lowest mess bill that month, by not eating any of the extra stuff provided with the basic food (like cool drinks for a hot afternoon, vegetable kurmas, egg curry, puffs and samosas to accompany tea, ice-creams during dinner...). One thing I am glad about is the fact that eating in the mess, immunises anyone against any food and water borne diseases in the future - that ocould come in quite handy.

To be continued...
Next Post: College academics.

Posted by satosphere at 11:39 AM

July 12, 2004
Cirino's Law of Burnt Fingers
Hot glass looks the same as cold glass.

Looking forward and moving ahead

As I was saying, I seem to have run into, or rather, will be running into a host of problems whose dimensions I cannot even imagine. Apart from the basic physical problems that I will encounter, I also have to face social problems, economic problems (I hope not), infrastructural problems(transportation) and even the moody weather too.
All these seem to have left no time for me to even think about psychological problems that I may have to challenge, until I was reminded very recently.

Will I miss my parents?
Will I miss my close clique of cowsins who were my brothers and sisters for so long in my life?
Will all this affect me a lot?
How much will all of them miss me?
How much will all of my friends in India miss me?
Will I able able to adjust there easily?
Will I get homesick?
If, then how will I get out of it or manage it?

The list, here too is endless.

But, this is not the end of the matter.
A shocking news came to me a few days back.
My dad's deputation @ Kabul is being extended by one more year.
While I may not be directly affected by it, as I will be away for 5 years anyway, I am more worried about my mother.
As it is, even with me @ home, there is not a day which has passed without her chatting with my dad for an hour daily, and then afterward lamenting effusively why he is not here. She also gets these nitemares daily, and refuses to sleep without me by the side.
It pains my heart really, knowing that there is nothing I could do.
With this news, my mom really went over the edge. No amount of tears spent by her in front of the webcam (while chatting with my dad) seems to have melted my dad's stone heart. (I actually exacted the time spent that day as 2 hours of crying.) I am actually angry rite now with my dad in that respect.
The coming year, with me also @ Austin, and my mom alone, I am pretty sure that it would pull her to the verge of suicide. (She already keeps saying that sometimes.) No amount of my consoling and counselling ever seems to help, and I just gave up trying. There is only so much I can do.

I just can't afford to go there with so many things in my mind.

I probably have to start thinking objectively from now on, separate emotions, feelings and beliefs from all other materialisms.

But, that, will take a very long time.

Time, which I dont have in large supply.

P.S: I know that I became very personal in the last two post, more so in the last one. Do forgive me. I will come up with something more objective the next time. All these were so pent up in my brain, and there was no other way to relieve it

P.S.S:This post should have been more appropriately titled: "Looking forward and worrying ahead".

Posted by satosphere at 11:43 AM

July 10, 2004
Churchill's Commentary on Man
Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on as though nothing has happened.

Looking Forward and Moving Ahead - Part I

All these days, I only seem to have planned the act of going THERE.
For the past one year.

Starting rite from the very act of:
asking seniors where to go to,
to the application process,
to getting recommendation letters,
to getting admitted,
to contacting the professors and getting aid,
to getting my I-20 and preparing for VISA interview,
to booking the flight tickets,
to getting stuff for going there,
I only seem to have planned the act of going THERE. I never imagined what I would be able to do, have to do and what I must do over THERE. I never even thought about the act of living THERE.

I am always a person who planned out lives, and always played by the book of life. I like keeping things organised, and nothing going "not according to plan". So it seemed to me that by now, I should have planned what to do there. But without prior inforamtion of what to expect, and what I have to do, I simply can't plan. This somehow did affect me in a different sort of way.

Some of the uncertainties that I would have to face seem to be:
I havent got an apartment yet. Am I going to live on the street? (God forbit, NO) .
What type will I get?
Will it be big and comfortable?
Will it be close to the college?
Will it be furnished?. If not, where do I have to go for that?
Will it be in a good neighbourhood?
Will I have time to cook atleast dinner?
Will I be able to get good Indian stuff there to cook?
Are there enough Indian stores nearby?
Is there a good transportation system available? (I know its answer: NO) Can I get a bike (cycle) to get around easily?
Can I get a driver's license?
Will I be able to get a car, on a lease atleast?If so, will I be able to afford an insurance for it?
I still dont know what courses to take.
I dont know what books to take.
I dont know how much the workload would be.
I dont know how much the atmosphere would be, having studied only in the stuffy classrooms of IIT.

The list is on and on and literally endless.

With so many things pre-occupying my mind eternally, and with soooo many uncertainties, how can I organise everthing here. The difficulties do seem unsurmountable. Its like trying to race to every tall peak of the world, every second, every minute and every hour of every day.

To top this all, I have been asked by a parent of one of the students in my college (and school) and who is also heading to the same univ (with full aid, of course), to look after him.

The only reason I am sending my son there is because you are going there too. You two have been classmates since school and I cant imagine sending my son alone. In fact I would not have even sent him to any other IIT. So can you please take care of him? Look after him properly and please always support him. You probably cannot understand how much he means to me. Ask you mother, to get to know how I feel.


What am I doing? A babysitting job? As it is, I seem to have enough going to pre-occupy my mind for a long time. And now, THIS. All I could say over the phone was "Ok ... I will ... Surely ...". I still havent got a roof over my head there, and you want me to take care of him too. Listen. I know how over-whelming this is to you. Leaving your son for 5 years in a foriegn country is not an easy job. For anyone. Even for me. But I first have to take care of myself

Besides, there is a good Indian diaspora there and even an Indian Students Association, who usually take care of the "special" needs of people. And Indians generally have each other to depend on. (That doesnt seem to satisfy me, though.) Any problem, they should be the one who is approached first.

To be continued...

Posted by satosphere at 11:41 AM

July 08, 2004
Chisholm's Third Law
Proposals, as understood by the proposer, will be judged otherwise by others.
1.If you explain so clearly that nobody can misunderstand, somebody will.
2.If you do something which you are sure will meet with everyone's approval, somebody won't like it.
3.Procedures devised to implement the purpose won't quite work.
4.No matter how long or how many times you explain, no one is listening.

A set of mystifyingly confusing facts

  1. A rat can last longer without water than a camel.
  2. Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or it will digest itself.(Anybody willing to testify it???)
  3. The dot over the letter "i" is called a tittle.
  4. A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.
  5. A female ferret will die if it goes into heat and cannot find a mate.(Luckily, that doesnt happen to a human. Think of the consequences!!)
  6. A duck's quack doesn't echo. No one knows why.
  7. A 2 X 4 is really 1-1/2" by 3-1/2".
  8. During the chariot scene in "Ben Hur," a small red car can be seen in the distance (and Heston's wearing a watch). (Thats time travel for the theatrical scene!!!)
  9. On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily! (That explains a few mysteries....)
  10. Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn't wear pants.
  11. Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood. (What if it gets termites in it???)
  12. The number of possible ways of playing the first four moves per side in a game of chess is 318,979,564,000.(Wonder who found out all of them???)
  13. There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with orange, purple and silver.
  14. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan. There was never a recorded Wendy before.
  15. The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
  16. If one places a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death. (Who was the sadist who discovered this??)
  17. Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to s-l-o-w film down so you could see his moves. That's the opposite of the norm.
  18. The first CD pressed in the US was Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."
  19. The original name for butterfly was flutterby.
  20. The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.(I wonder why. A huge needle to prick in the butt would do!!!)
  21. The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time, the most known player on the market was Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola.
  22. Roses may be red, but violets are indeed violet. (Doesnt the song go "Violets are blue"???)
  23. By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you cannot sink into quicksand.(I would never want to try that!!!)
  24. Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.(Hey diet conscious people: Are you reading this?)
  25. Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
  26. Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.
  27. Sherlock Holmes NEVER said, "Elementary, my dear Watson."
  28. An old law in Bellingham, Washington, made it illegal for a woman to take more than three steps backwards while dancing!
  29. The glue on Israeli postage is certified kosher.(Talk about perfection)
  30. The Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from public libraries.(Maybe that s a record that should be included in that. In my mind, it goes something like this: "The Guinness record for the most stolen book goes to the Guinness book of Records. Oh My god, somebody stole the record for the Guinness book of records"!!!)
  31. Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because passing wind in a spacesuit damages them.
  32. Bats always turn left when exiting a cave!(Maybe thats because they live in an upside down world)

Posted by satosphere at 11:55 AM

July 06, 2004
Chisholm's Second Law
When things are going well, something will go wrong.
1.When things just can't get any worse, they will.
2.Anytime things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.
I seem to have missed the first law of that guy's somewhere

The problem with HIJKLMNO

Somehow, the above laws seem appropriate to the current situation.
Already the summer is so hot; so hot, that Martians would think that this place is in Mercury. To add to that, the humidity is so high that it is impossible to avoid a sweat even standing a minute outside.
Just when you think it cant get any worser, there comes the problem of the acute water (H20 - HIJKLMNO) scarcity in this city
The rains seem to have forgotten that this city exists in the map of India totally (Selective Amnesia ???? But then again, they do it every year consistently).
And to keep up with the incessant water needs, the ground water table has also kept going down at a constant rate.
And in my place, it has gone far past the grapples of the current bore well that we are having. (Somehow the trees here are able to reach the water table - do they have magical roots???)
So to contend with the water problem, we have ended up buying water for the apartment of 6 flats.
Then came the new problem.
The residents are so greedy that the water in a full tank gets gobbled up in less than a day.
So another regulation.
It comes only for 10 minutes everyday.
So you think that mite be ok. U can catch all the water you want.
And probably one person can have a shower in that time.
But Wait.
It gets worse. (But how could it get worse, one may ask. Just remember the Laws stated above).
It comes in only one tap.
For ten minutes only.
In that we have to catch enuf water for washing clothes, bathing, washing dishes, handwashes, the loos and every other damn small thing.
So how do we manage?
Actually, we just about manage.
We catch that water into an 80 litre bucket. And after that gets filled, its again Rush-Rush-Rush to get 4 other smaller buckets filled followed by washing of dishes if the water still comes.
One of those buckets for washing clothes. 2 other for bathing and the third is for general washing.
We seem to have managed so for. And I dont know how long I can tolerate that.
But things do seem to get better. There are plans to sink another bore into the Planet that is Earth. That will hopefully solve this icky problem
And probably, I can forget all this when I leave India.
Thats another month though.

Posted by satosphere at 9:46 AM

July 04, 2004
Chili Cook's Secret
If your next pot of chili tastes better, it probably is because of something left out, rather than added.

Shopping Spree

I went on a huge, HuGe, HUGE shopping spree today, to get some free clothes (in exchange for a lot of money). Some at a good discount, others at none at all....
Mostly restricted to the huge shopping plaza that is the Spencers, and parts of Globus, the amount of stuff I had bought would make any average shopper droop his head in shame. (Myself, I would have rather shaved my head off in shame). A total amount exceeding 10K was spent on about 8 Tees (no, not golfing tees), an equal number semi-formal trousers, a couple of jeans, a single shirt (became a lone wolf probably), a couple of ties as a side order, and some other miscellany.
The amount of time spent - 3 hours at Spencers and an hour at Globus along with my cousin (she begged me to mention her name here. For courtesy sake: Sunitha).
Normally, I go shopping alone: I see a shirt or a pair of jeans, I just check if it fits me and is comfortable and looks good. I care the damn about whether it will match with anything else or whether it looks too out of place. (That seems to be a common stigma associated with all men. Women (correct me if I am wrong), on the other hand, tend to look on the finer aspects of things (another stigma???), how well it looks, on what occasions it can be worn and what else go along with it... blah...blah...blah.... (I am no judge of females in general and women in particular, but this also does seem to be a general conception among everybody - don't you agree?
Enough of that discourse.
I have had enough shopping today - enough to last a month. Thats probably all I need before hopping flights to get to the US of A.

Posted by satosphere at 11:52 AM

July 02, 2004
Chesterton's Observation
I have seen the truth and it makes no sense.

Barry Plodder and the Commander of Kazhakastan

Well, this in no way is going to be a funny-bunny review of the Potter that is Harry. And I am not a Potter fanatic. I liked the book, and enjoyed the graphical beauty in the movie.
Went yesterday (the 1st) though. Its going to be very objective though, as if I am going to apply the scientific method on it.

Harry Potter III - The Prizoner of Azkaban

I made an earlier booking for three (2 college friends) at the ostentatiously expensive Sree theatre at the ever-so-popular Sathyam Complex to avoid the hassles associated with going for current booking.
Having had read the books earlier, and an extremely forgetfully long before, I had a great trouble grasping the story initially, with regards to what happens and why it happens, but as the movie progressed, I was able to, well, understand a bit more better.
Acting: much more mature and hence much better. Potter gets finally freed of his childishness and so does the Weasley. Lupin (played by David Thewlis) does an amazing role and so does Sirius (when he appears). The rest of the characters are the same though.
Story: the story has been a bit truncated and moddedhere and there, but the focus points of the story have been well worked upon. Kudos to the director Alfonso Kuaron for being so judicious, though, as Krits had mentioned, some errors were absent-mindedly introduced (like that of Potter practising magic in the muggle world.
The movie does seem a bit more gloomier and shadier than the previous two installments. The magical sky above the main hall in Hogwarts is much better now. And it has worked out for the best, and whatever preconceptions that I had, were served properly.
Graphics: undoubtedly, the best part. Amazing work done in that department. They are so fluent. They seem to blend in with the movie.I especially loved Buckbeak, the Hippogriff (for the uninitialted - a horse with an eagle's head). Everything is so fluid, amazing work.
The flight by Potter on that creature too was amazing.
The Maurader's Map has been excellently done, just what I had imagined.
The dementors, too real, though I didnt imagine them to be flying and to be so big.
The one odd part was the squeezing of the magical Triple decker between two London Double deckers: looked very artificial.
Looking forward the 4th movie and the 6th installment of the book.
Rumor has it that the current three actors - Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have played their last roles with this movie. Will miss them though. Daniel Radcliffe, well, has characterised Potter the world over.

Posted by satosphere at 12:18 PM


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