Monday, January 26, 2009
After ‘toing and froing’ for about half an hour and seeing that there was no end in sight for the meeting, I let my thoughts drift to more interesting channels, when the other Devdeep came up with this crazy idea: why, cannot this meeting be held on GTalk, with the various professors engaging in button punching sessions from their rooms to decide the supposed fate of this department. I would then be able to discuss my agenda without interrupting the meeting. I knew that the other I was talking both sense and nonsense. Sense because had we not participated in numerous such meetings, exchanging ideas, having endless debating sessions in whatever extra -curricular activities we engaged ourselves at college. Also, let me add that these meetings usually continued for hours, often through the entire evening and well into the night. Therefore such ’fruitful’ meetings were actually possible. On the other hand, it was nonsense to think that the professors would acquire such a habit because of the simple reason that they were um,’ professors.’ Can’t compare them to us, frolicking students you know.
But could it be? Could our teachers, with all their experience and knowledge possess the mentoring and the warmth of our seniors? Imagine a college where you can simply barge into the chamber of your most senior professor and he would greet you with a friendly smile of ‘wassup?’ The hierarchy among the Profs on the basis of their official post would not let them cover themselves in the veils of superiority and their every success or promotion will be followed by a gala treat. Would we hesitate then to throw a separate party to them after landing on that 10M package of glory? This is supposed to be a serious post but allow me to say that that my mathematics department is the only one progressing in this direction by giving us regular company at the campus tea stall.
Not that this euphoric dream of extra friendly professors includes the perception of curtailing the seriousness of the job of a teacher. The dream does not allow a student to disobey the teacher without receiving a harsh punishment in return. For that matter, do we not obey our seniors and carry out their errands as if we were part of a team. The dream will only make us obey our teachers with a more willing attitude. Also, we still allow them to set the toughest question papers in the ever formidable examinations albeit with the warmth and enthusiasm with which we set the seemingly disastrous papers of technical competitions. However, this also enforces them to conduct the classes with the attitude of a final year conducting a workshop for his juniors. This should ensure that no stone is left unturned to impart the most difficult concepts in the best possible manner. Imagine a classroom, where the matter is presented through the most professional slides prepared after hunting resources from the global library called internet; where every class is followed by rigorous doubt clearing sessions at the end of which a student is simply left craving for more. Also, the hypothesis ends where you start imagining booze parties with your mentors that you are so familiar with, in the company of seniors.
Now that I have managed to capture your attention by letting you savour this delightful dream of mentoring teachers; like a good mathematician I wish to contradict the foundation of my very own hypothesis thereby stating that achieving this dream is too unrealistic and maybe, too good to be true. The reasons being:
• The age difference between us and our teachers is significantly larger than that our seniors and hence their mentality cannot be compared. Hence a teacher-student relationship is lot more formal than a senior-junior relationship
• The control of our seniors on us is only virtual while teachers virtually control our careers. Hence the seniors need to be friendly as well as strict to their juniors so as to team up with them in order to accomplish a task.
• The comparison between a workshop and a classroom is also unrealistic since a teacher needs to deal with a seemingly endless syllabus. Also, bringing quality into the teaching is not mandatory since teachers need not desire their classroom to be audience puller which is obligatory for the workshop organisers.
• Often the cause of unfriendliness of a teacher towards a student can be attributed to his personal frustration and intra-departmental tensions.
Look around you and you will find even the best and most cordial teachers keeping you at an arm’s length due to one or more of the aforementioned causes. However, if you remember the teachers at your school or at your coaching institute, you would know that they actually come a long way in fulfilling this dream. Hence somehow I still feel that this distance can be bridged, the passage can be levelled. Maybe it requires a total reconstruction of the system, a total remodelling of the mentality and general attitude towards the profession. So what do you think, could this dream be lived? Could it be?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
With blogging as a newfound hobby, comes a plethora of miseries. The constant clicks on the refresh button to check for new daggers. The excitement every evening to check for updates from my allies leading to the anger to see that many of them are almost as miserable in the art as me. There are a few who don’t update their blogs in months. Can’t think of what other hobbies they have engaged themselves in. Then there are others, who update their blogs so frequently that they make the entities comprising the first set think ‘why didn’t I engage myself in some other hobby?’ Talking about comments, here is some real time Gtalk chat that adds to my list of miseries:
The real Devdeep: give some comments on my attempt at blogging (in case u have gone thru it)...
AL: i did go thro it... it was kewl...i din comment over there...but it was cool.....
though i was not much familiar with ISI scene... it was a good attempt to make us understand
watever im saying... if theres a mistake pl do matiyao it... im drunk ill tell u my actual comments tom !!!!!!
Tomorrow never comes. I firmly believe that AL, my good friend's face will serve as a great pincushion. By the way, ‘matiyao’ means ‘procrastinate’ according to our college lingo. All fellow non ISMite bloggers with ‘miserably wide’ vocabulary should know that this one word precisely describes the sole truth of my college life. And probably yours too, unless you are this dude who played the electric guitar since the age of six or this geek who has been breaking into international security since dad brought you a computer for your high school project work. By the way, the ‘miserably wide’ expression does not make sense to me either.
Not all aspects of blogging are disheartening. Take for example, the profile. For a long time, I had left the ‘occupation’ field blank. I had wanted to fill in ‘amateur gamer for life’ or ‘replacement for Enrique in his videos’ or any such interesting stuff. However, I realized that it is still a long way before I can actually write something more worthwhile than ‘penniless couch potato’ and decided to fill in the entry with the names of two illusions, which I have unknowingly allowed to take control of my life in the hope to end the misery of not possessing an Audi.
These days thinking about jobs, gives me goose bumps. You would get those too, if you could imagine that the company you land on one day may cease to exist the other day. Creepy nightmares, with me pinned before a creepier HR is now a common affair. Here is one such interview, I fear to face someday or the other:
What sort of inspiration made you study Mathematics/Computer Science in a mining college?
The same sort which inspired these two departments to open these courses in a mining college. It is known as extreme optimism.
So I am guessing that you are an optimist?
Actually, no. I used to be, until I understood the proposition on which these courses were started.
"Any start-up which is marred by loopholes can be fixed to utter perfection within the next fifteen to twenty years."
I now fear that the above proposition may be true.
Okay. Let us talk academics. What is the part of mathematics that you like the most?
The part that makes you spend evenings at the campus tea stall along with your departmental professors. This is the part they taught us diligently in all the semesters. Rest all the subjects were one night stands before the end of every semester.
Tell us about your organisational skills. What all extracurricular activities did you engage yourself in?
Our college is a harbour of sinking ships. I served as the captain of one such ship. (If this sentence does not make sense to you right now, wait for my future posts. I may decide to write something on this later. No commitments now.)Also we have this annual cultural cum technical festival of ours. I had some role to play in that.
Ok. That would have been interesting. Tell us in detail, how you helped in the organization of your annual fest.
Well, I was an Application Engineer then, which best describes my work. Now before, the reader imagines me taking a plunge into the pool of sheer geekdom, let me explain what I meant by me being an Application Engineer (AE). Being an AE means you need to write numerous applications and letters to all sorts of people. I have written letters to tentative sponsors that involved drowning your event into certain awesomeness that never existed. I have helped in the chalking of tens of proposals and requests to different sections of the administration that makes me feel like an incessant whiner. Really, I will always remember my third year at college for my role as an AE.
Enough! Why should we select you after all?
I may be able to chalk out a proposal to sell out your company in time. That is before you decide to buy another company with your virtual assets and merrily open the Pandora’s Box on us.
I sincerely hope that writing this down, will cause my nightmares to cease once and for all.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
"Before entering into the blogger world, I wish to commend the authors of:
- Fish Faced Follies @ www.adlibbingalltheway.blogspot.com: Although I do not know the author personally, I think that this blog is a masterpiece in itself and is my greatest inspiration.
- Same Difference @ www.whatsinsidshead.blogspot.com: The author is one of my best friends. It is he who introduced me to the delight of this fascinating hobby."
My last few days at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata during my winter project revealed new and interesting features about the ‘monochrome’ campus. Take for example what it does to the residents who dare to stay on campus for a period more than three weeks (because that is the time we stayed and we are sure that we are still the same). It causes them to develop a certain addiction to locking themselves in their rooms on the pretext of promoting ‘high level research’ giving the campus a curfew like atmosphere throughout the day. However to people like us who possess the innate capability of inserting ‘Enrique’, ‘Shakira’ and ‘Prison Break’ intermissions in between the most rigorous schedules, the campus is lot more lenient. It just contents itself by giving them a ghastly grin, letting them explore new and innovative ways of killing time. Now, after having watched ‘Memento’ for the umpteenth time, the other Devdeep decided to figure out, what would the situation be like if I developed the same condition as Leonard, once I walked into a lifeless campus as this.
Venue: The godforsaken mess of the institute.
Characters: Me and my project partner Viz. Also a few ISIites , also referred to as nerds.
Me: Look, did I tell you about the strange fix I am in?
Viz mumbles something indiscernible while trying to fish out prawns from the small ‘pond’ that was served. You see, the mess at ISI, tried to feed you with the queerest kind of dishes, one can possibly imagine. But that is another story.
Viz: I know the fix that we are in now. This food!!
Me: Well... you see... I have developed this condition. It is called short term memory loss. Since the time I have entered ISI I have forgotten the very purpose we are here for. Also I am unable to make new memories. Anything that lasts for a bit too long fades.
Viz tries to comprehend the situation and his face resembles the one on my profile. (For those who are unaware of the character, look for Mike in Disney’s Monsters Inc.) In doing so, his attention wanders to the table nearby, where two nerds are discussing the differences between a generator and a ‘God only knows what.’
Viz: Look this is what we are here for. We are here for churning out our brains on whatever our guide serves us on a plate.
For that is what projects at ISI were like. You were given a topic. That’s all you could expect as a receiver. Beyond that it is all up to you. Anyways, while Viz is explaining this I suddenly get interested in a notice that hung by my side which went on something like this.
For the first time at ISI
Rock Climbing Training at Darjeeling
Those who are interested, please contact _______
Me (Hardly hearing whatever Viz just said): Hey! Why don’t we go for this? Sounds cool.
Viz(Irritated Mode): Let us move out. I will explain on the way.
Venue: Out in the cold, in the curfew like environment of ISI campus.
Characters: The same old. What do you expect? I am no Shakespeare or Bernard Shaw. By the way, we also have Dr. Guide in this scene, who doesn’t speak a word for reasons soon to be clear.
Situation: Viz has got this strange idea of throwing me in front of the instructor with a stranger hope that putting me in an even greater fix will help me recover from my condition.
Me: So where are we heading?
Viz: You mentioned rock climbing right? That is where we are heading.
Me: Did I? You see, I have this condition...
Viz: I have realized that. I hear this every time we start a conversation. Tell that to the person we are about to meet.
Me: So who is he? Rock climbing instructor?
Viz: Yeah. Just call him instructor. Will you remember that?
Me: Sorry! And stop blabbering. You speak too much. I have started to forget why we are going to this man after all.
Viz(Super irritated mode): You will soon know. Just call him instructor. And you need to do the talking.
We climb the stairs to reach the eighth floor of a nine storey building, thrice during which I have tried to explain to Viz about my condition at the end of which he repeats the instructions narrated previously. The last instance of this cycle happens just before we enter the concerned chamber.
Viz: Hello! Mr. Guide, we are here for...
Me: Rock climbing, dear instructor.
Refer to my profile picture again to if you cannot imagine the expression on Mr. Guide. For some strange reason, Viz suddenly becomes greatly interested in his over-chewed nails.
Me: So when do we get to practice on the equipments? Please... now?
Viz understands that his foiled plan was about to lead him to a life of pain and suffering, proceeds to explain Mr. Guide about my condition, while I try to tug what seems to be a thick cord which turns out a cable connected to Mr. Guide’s Apple Mac at one end and loose at the other.
Apple Mac: CRASH!!!
Viz seems to decide that it is time to say goodbye to Mr. Guide. He fights a raging battle between the intimate desire of setting me on fire and the sincere hope that this short term memory loss is communicative and both he and Mr. Guide have a weak immune system.
Venue: My room (Room no. 4, M.Tech. Hostel)
Characters: same old and a nerd.
Situation: I have just returned from the showers and am showing my bare skin to whoever is interested. However, presently there is no one in the room but me.
All of a sudden, Viz enters the room with a black marker in his hand.
Me: What the hell!!!
Viz: I had no time to look for needles and colours and I am not gifting you my cell camera this Christmas.
Me: What do you mean? And what the hell are you blabbering. By the way, can you just help me get my clothes? Can’t remember where I placed them.
Viz does not seem to hear a thing. He forces me on the bed and yells with his mouth near my ear: Let my write a few things on you. It is going to sort out this problem.
All this scene and commotion makes the nerd next door shout something indistinctly similar to “Brokeback.”(Readers unfamiliar with the term may check out IMDB for the 2005 blockbuster Brokeback Mountain.)
It is Christmas time. When midnight strikes, Viz walks in with two cans of super strong beer hoping to revive his spirits and keeping his fingers crossed against the notion that the beer might clear my head. Fast forward two hours.
I simply ask the reason as to why there are numerous scratches all over my body, and who was the guy with a broken PC whose face had been stamped on my door? Also my next door neighbour’s behaviour seemed utterly mysterious to me. I mean why should someone send me a bouquet of roses with a card that says: “With lots of love!”?
A few days later, Viz lures me to Howrah and sends me back to Dhanbad. He himself returns a week later after completing the project. He has still kept the bouquet as a memento to something he simply ‘can’t remember to forget.’