Monday, May 29, 2006

Hmm… it happened again; while I was going for dinner I met this young lad. As a true andhraite he first spoke in Telugu. Some of andhraites have such a strong accent that even if they are speaking Hindi or English, it feels like they are speaking Telugu. So, after carefully hearing him twice or thrice, I determined that he is speaking Telugu and asked him to speak Hindi. So, this guy told me that he has lost his purse and needs some money to go to his place. At first he asked 80 rupees and then said needs at least 40 rupees (as I was unaware of the place he mentioned he has to go, I couldn’t figure out myself home much he might need) adding that if I give address, he will come tomorrow morning and give the money back to me. He looked genuine but then my recent previous such incident came to my mind and I told him that I don’t have money; maximum I can help him is 10 rupees, gave him that and proceeded. Unfortunately, with me things don’t end such way, that guy had gone but as it always happens to me my conscience started killing me when I started waiting for my dinner at the mess. I started thinking, well if he looked genuine to me, why the hell I didn’t give him money, even if he would have cheated me, I can certainly afford losing 40 rupees. If he was genuine my money would have helped him a lot. What is more important, that somebody got help or I don’t get cheated? Ideally it should be the former one, but as most humans do the latter had become important for me. The very concept that I am getting cheated and the money is not being used as you would have likde it to be psyches me out. Well, I started feeling bad about the whole incident. I could have asked some more questions, as one friend do in such situations so that he is certain of his conclusion no matter whether the conclusion is actually true. That way, at least his conscience doesn’t trouble him. In my case, actually even then my conscience will trouble me if I haven’t helped or later I find out that I had been cheated. In this case, I hoped with 10 rupees at least he can call somebody he knows and ask for help.
I don’t know, why but such incidents happen to me at quite a good rate, as I remember correctly almost once in a two weeks. Now, probably you will understand why I was such a skeptic even when I though the guy was genuine. I don’t understand this rate, is there something written on my head like “this guy will help you” or “you can easily fool this guy”. In Hyderabad largest percentage of such people asking for help will be those who went for Tirupati and lost or finished their money in between. And even after so much experience with such people I haven’t yet been able to decide whether most of these are crooks or genuine. Once I met one unique fellow, I came to know about his crookedness since one my of my roommates also happened to be asked for help by this guy. This person tells people that he is former government employee and then something happened for which he has filed some petition and then takes out a huge bundle of money and says he already has collected some money and needs last 10 rupees. I doubted him and didn’t give him money, but just a minute late saw one person giving money; and this guy asked my friend money 2 days after that.
I don't know what to do, but life is not easy anyways.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Reservation issue is getting bizarre day by day. At one end there is Mr. Arjun Singh and government, who want to change everything except their decision, suggesting bizarre solutions like increasing seats in all the collages. Already most education institutes are facing faculty problems on the top of that there hardly any educational institutes who have money to expand their infrastructure and these people suggesting seats increase, how much funnier can it get? I read again in the newspapers today, that it might take 3-4 years, to increase seats, but is it really possible, and what about the overall quality of education? Of course, I agree higher education must get more and more prominent as years go by, but it can not happen just like that, it needs to be done through some major reforms in the entire educational system and not just focusing on increasing the seats.
On the other end students doing hunger strikes and all, I definitely understand protests but making the public suffer for the protests is what I don't understand. I have the same objection as I have to strikes of government servants, teachers (I have real grudge against them, as they always strike just before board exams), airport employees, etc. I got message yesterday from somebody that one person died in hunger strike, what is going on? What the heck are people trying to do? What we need is more and more support from students from all educational institutes than strikes.
Mr. Arjun Singh has absolutely no clue as to what he is talking about and how his decision is going to affect the country? If you read his interview here, you can see he seems to have no clue about background of his decision, how he is going to implement the decision and so on...
It is also very clear, that the parliament is not clear whether the reservations are needed at all?
I wish there is someone who can take wise decisions on such issues and more importantly has the authority to do so.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Food Taster...

In my two years stint as a Masters student at IIT KGP, I learned and unlearned many things. One of the things that I unlearned or rather had to unlearn was to being selective about taste of the foods. The exotic, tasty, super-hygienic food at kgp made sure that even 2 years after leaving kgp I still consider anything edible as good food; only something stale or something horribly gong wrong can be recognized as bad food. When I eat something very tasty or home food I feel like I am in heaven. Being put up in the new hostel at kgp, consisting of new cooks, the food I ate was even more outstanding. It was the place where I realized that even something as simple as omelette can be made uneatable. Sometimes, we used to get dosas for breakfast, and horrible would be a softer word for them; when we complained our mess manager he used to say that cook is new and he would learn. Wow!, that was a revelation; a cook selected through rigorous central government procedures and doesn't know how to cook. My mess manager probably could write a book about 'how not to get a good cook'; its just unimaginable that in place like kharagpur which has much more than significant population of telugu people you can not get a cook who can make eatable dosas.
This was in IIT, the other hotels etc, were a different story at all, except on dhaba inside IIT and one far away at a place called 'gol market', there was hardly any hotel where we didn't taste stale food once and fought with the people there. The dhaba inside IIT was good, that was the only place where one can get descent tasty food in IIT, so it had other problems, sometimes we had to wait for an hour or so for food to arrive. The 'Dal tarka' we used to get there, I am still to get that good 'dal tarka' anywhere. Thee other dhaba was damn good especially for non-veg people.
I can go on and on this topic, especially how quality of food in our hostels were ensured by a central facility, etc. etc.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Faculty problems...

One of the biggest problems, Indian higher education is facing right now is faculty. There are not just enough faculties, I mean just in numbers; quality of faculty is one level higher. The problem is for real; as an engineering student I have seen how pathetic is the quality of lecturers in private colleges and in my days in IIT, I have also seen it failing to attract young enthusiastic good faculty. However, I read in ‘Times’ few days ago, faculty is going to be imported from Europe and just couldn’t stop laughing. It is yet another example of how stupid solutions can be implemented to solve the problems. If there is any country in the world, which has the highest number of well qualified, enthusiastic professionals that can make great faculty, I guess that has to be India. If you study last decade, the number Indian faculty in all top universities across the world has been increasing rapidly.
The problem is definitely not availability of faculty, it is attracting it. If one has to get European faculty, I guess one has to attract them by paying very high and providing good growth opportunities (I am sure at the expense of existing Indian faculty, we Indians always have this bias of considering westerners better than us). If you do same thing for Indians, I am sure one can get better than better faculty than Europeans. In India, most professionals look teaching as the last or convenient option (when on is more concerned bout place or doing time-pass rather with career perspective) if all other options are exhausted.
So, what is so unattractive about being a lecturer in Indian universities and colleges? Well, many will point out pay packages, but according to me that is just one of the many things. There are many more reasons; like reputation for the profession, slow growth opportunities, lack of research and consulting opportunities, etc. I have just mentioned three of the most important ones. Of course, the first one is derivation from the others, but it is true that in our society if you for teaching profession people think that you didn’t get any other opportunity and therefore you went for teaching.
Well, what brings a good interest and develops faculty is research and consulting opportunities; this is one of the reasons why most of the IITs faculty is so good. If while teaching one gets research and consulting opportunities not only one can increase his/her but also gets familiar with the latest of happening in the filed, bring them and experience and all of it leading to teaching students well with help of experience, examples of actual application, understanding of basic concepts and latest developments. Focus must be on such issue like bringing consulting and research opportunities in the universities rather than importing faculty from foreign countries. Universities and Government has to introspect as to how such opportunities can be made available to the faculty. For such opportunities to exist Industry must trust Academia, which today does not happen. Academia itself should take initiative and do some projects for Industry on experimental basis to establish the trust, may be in initial years Government can support such collaboration. From industry side, Indian industry itself badly needs such research help in order to cope with the international competition and excel on the global level. Take example of IT industry, how many years can they survive on just giving services to foreign companies and countries they have to look at the other options. They all try to move up the value chain (God knows what that means) but what they don’t understand is with what they are doing now itself, they can change the world with different attitudes by generating value rather than lowering costs and for that they need research help from academia.
There are good solutions available than doing stupid things like importing faculty from European countries, academia must spot it and Industry itself should take initiative because after all these students are going to Industry after they complete their education and hence the future of industry depends on issues with academia.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Cheer up...

Its amazing how pleasant environment changes how you react to the situations and it changes your mood. It probably affects me more as I am very moody person. For example, today I was very worried about something in the office and thinking very hard how to deal with it, and suddenly joined my boss with conversation with other colleagues. My boss has great sense of humor; he can have very cheerful conversations and make small timely jokes to lighten up the environment; he even explains very difficult concepts in such conversations. Well, I am not trying to butter up my boss, I am just trying to tell that after such conversation suddenly despite all my worries, I came in good mood and my characteristic smile came on my face.
It is very important for a person to be in company with people who are always cheerful and face the life smilingly; not does it just cheers you up but also gives inspiration to face all kind of situations patiently. And exactly opposite is the situation when you are with people who are always sad over things surrounding them. Actually I was going to write this about people who always complain and cry over situations, but then I suddenly realized that not all people who complain are sad. You can say the realization might have come up from my own experience itself. When I complain I still care about the things and I am not sad, it is just that I want to improve them and contrary to that when I stop complaining I am really sad, I have given up. I find those people amazing who complain and cry over things very jokingly, and make joke on themselves.
Laughter and cheers are among the most important things in our life, without it our life will become hell. We have to turn around things cheerfully and enjoy every bit of life. All such things are better said than done. Well, hope everybody around me does it without taking wrong meaning (ha ha ha… sometime I can’t help but pessimistic. It is difficult to follow your own medicine) of it…

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


He: did you hear about the new plagiarism case of one author called Kavya Vishwanathan
She: Yeah, how shameful for her to do any such thing like that.
He: did you see, some funny comments by some stars about her writings in times. Especially, Anu Malik defending it.
She: of course, he must. He is the one who gets inspired by the music of the most other artists. It is very shameful.
He: Of course, it is. (smiling)
She: Why are you smiling.
He: You know I just remembered one of my professors. He wrote a book on his area of specialization, which was inspired by some other book, same way as many our Hindi movies are inspired by movies from other languages. What more funny was that he used to say that it is ok to copy as long as you acknowledge original author.
She: chalo, at least he had that much respect for the original.
He: Hmmm… yes. I also had one thought… suppose I want to write a novel in the future and if some line I write happens to match exactly from some other novel, which I never read or read years ago, would that be plagiarism too?
She: You and Novel????????? :D
He: Didn’t I say suppose?
She: Ok, Ok… But why will it match?
He: Why not? Come on… If not millions, there are at least thousands of novels get published every year and it is definitely possible that in two of those books a situation and sentence may match by coincidence.
She: Well, though it seems almost impossible, but I don’t think I can argue against that.
He: So, what do you think?
She: It might not be the case that you have done plagiarism but I guess if somebody notices it or author wants to sue you; you won’t be spared.
He: I guess so, I am filling very bad for myself. Life is unfair and unfortunately it is never unfair in favour of me:(
She: Hmmm… hey, you are acting like you have really written the novel and got sued. By the way, I think you just got inspired by Calvin and Hobbs.
He: yeah, I thought you would notice it. Hey, I just got another weird thought; what is if I copy something from an extremely good novel written in some other language and especially from a language, where rarely people read English literature. Even if somebody notices it, fat chance that they would be able to prove anything.
She: Looks like you are in a nasty mood today.
He: Not really, but thoughts on this topic are endless, especially if you happen to go through engineering or management curriculum or doing some software development, you know how important Ctrl+c, Ctrl+v and google is in our life.
She: Hey, I guess we should stop you have started going into your philosophical type discussions. He: Ok, as you say.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Winds of change...

Yesterday night as always as I was doing some timepass on my PC, I heard quite a sound of trees. As I went outside I saw a superb forceful wind blowing outside. I enjoy strong winds.(probably I never have experienced real storms or hurricanes or other destructive winds like that) I don't know there are some natural things I enjoy a lot. Despite I being Mumbaite and seen such showers some thousand times, watching heavy showers is also one of those things I like a lot.
I just stopped whatever I was doing and sat for around 45 minutes in the gallery enjoying the wind. Suddenly, a flurry of thoughts started coming to my mind, how nice would it be if these winds could also bring about winds of change in my life.
How wonderful it would be if one day some wind comes up and blows away all the trouble in life, alas! Fortunately or unfortunately such things never happen in life.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Difficult Times...

Most difficult times in the life seem to be the one when suddenly everything seems to be going exactly the opposite way you want it to, you just start wondering, what next? The next is normally something really good or something extremely bad which completely shakes up all your beliefs and confidence. Most amazing thing about all this is when you know something very important for you is going the wrong way suddenly you notice that even the smallest the incidents are going the wrong way.The reason why I say something good might come out is because the people who have tough character normally like such challenges and then they start working towards something better, and for normal people only when things start going the wrong way they realize that they are in a fool's paradise and they have to work hard to get something better. Well, can they do better? who knows? Difficult times only bring out the real personality out of the people. Very few people have the gift of being able to handle such situations very calmly, most either panic or give up. Of course, one always should keep his/her hopes alive but the problem is that just keeping hopes alive doesn't work, one also has to keep working towards bringing the hope into reality.Then there is another situation, where things move so fast that you don't understand what exactly is happening around you, is it good or is it bad. You just get driven by the pace with which things are happening, just going with the flow, and when you stop, you realize what grave mistake you did. So, what do you do at such times? How do you take time out for yourself so that you can judge the situation and find out whether what you are doing is good or bad for you?Hmm.... here is another abruptly ending blog, really if any blog deserves name 'random thoughts' it has to be this.