Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Excursion report: Condensed and Accurate

As the title goes, I am not going to waste my time over beautiful metaphorical and allegorical descriptions about our experience of the industrial excursion to BSNL, Dhanbad.  What follows, is an ultra condensed and accurate description of the excursion that can be framed into a report and can fetch you good grades. So, its no big deal: just facts.

We (that implies fifty odd CSE and nine mathematics students) boarded a bus headed for BSNL, Dhanbad at 10:30 AM.

Reached destination in 10 minutes

The official at the BSNL office naively inquired as to what bizarre circumstances made CSE and maths students plan an excursion to BSNL as they were interested only in Electronics or Electrical engineers.

A lot of irrelevant things happened which included demonstration of large cabinet size machines with multiple glowing LEDs. The kind which one likes to break using a crowbar while playing first person action games.

During the demonstrations, the official instructor mentioned cryptic stuff which I noted down. They are as follows:

"E1000B STS CSNMM SMC SMA SMYA SMT PCM (32 channels) TAX Tier 2 BNG"

Anyone who has any idea about what the above line means is whole-heartedly welcome to enlighten me.

In an hour, everyone was tired of learning and wanted to have beer. We tried to convince the teachers in charge but failed.

We returned- tired and exhausted and suffering from an overdose of industrial exposure and therefore we decided that we will not be attending any classes in the afternoon.

Yay! Another feat added to my CV.

Monday, March 9, 2009

We will not forget...

The boy was shivering. He hung his head in shame. The teacher had hit him hard on the back. Sixty pairs of eyes stared at him. That is more than sufficient for a boy aged 16 to be grieved beyond limits. But then who comes prepared for answering questions in the very second class of the year. He tried to reason. His inner voice screamed out: “The teacher told everyone to prepare, but you simply weren’t attentive. Now this is the outcome.” The teacher slowly walked away, firing questions at random unsuspecting students, punishing his victims. “Sparing the rod” was a phrase he had never learned. The iron routine would be followed on and on for the next two years as well. Computer Science at intermediate level wasn’t exactly a cakewalk.

The teacher’s effect on his students was tremendous. Initially fuelled by fear, even the lowest of the lot would restore to study the subject. There would be an unnatural silence in the class with all eyes on the masterful teacher, as he moved from topic to topic laying down the foundation with care. Later, the fear would be replaced by respect and a newborn urge to master the subject. My fellow Flowerites would admit that back in the good old days, when people cared about exams, the tests he put us to were the toughest and their level was unmatched by even that of the comparative university papers. Questions were never repeated and brainstorming became an obvious habit.

On the lighter side, he was immensely popular among the students and in every batch, by the end of high school; he would be having a set of fan followers. Those that came to know him beyond the classroom and the rigorous tests would talk about his expertise in almost every known programming language and popular software. Mimicry of his Tamil accent became a favourite pastime of almost every Flowerite. I hereby recount some phrases, clichés, and incidents that people always associated with him:

  • Short statured and dark complexioned, he would walk in the class with rolled up sleeves and palms smeared with chalk. Almost every class began with: “last class we had gone through...”

  • The words: “You, corner one, come to the board man...” to an unsuspecting student was a nightmare to all of us.

  • How did you get two marks out of sixty?” (Often asked to some girl on the day papers were shown after some examination.)

  • There would be a thump in every heart and nervous faces as he would announce marks of every student to the entire class –a habit despised by most Flowerites.

  • Write a C BLUS BLUS program to ...” was a phrase we heard at least five times in every class.

His passion, devotion, uncanny zeal and enthusiasm motivated scores of students to take up Computer Science and related subjects as their career or at least develop immense potential and interest in the field. He may not remember us but we know that there was:

  • A Rajeev Aggarwal (‘99 batch), graduated in CSE from IIT Kanpur. He completed his MS in the same from Stanford University.

  • A Abhijatya Pandey (2k3 batch), alumnus of ISM University (Mineral Engineering)whose programming skills were well known and well utilized at college and now overseas where he works at BHP Billiton (global giant in mineral processing) with a pay package of over Rs. 30 lacs p.a.

  • A Sankalp Bose (2k3 batch), currently in final year M.Tech CSE at IIT Kanpur, placed at Qualcomm.

  • A Manavendra Roychoudhury (2k2 batch) who is a successful Applications Engineer at Oracle India.

  • A Siddhartha Kandoi (2k5 batch), who is currently pursuing his masters in Mathematics and scientific computing at IIT Kanpur. He works in the domain of cipher and cryptography and coordinates the SUN programming club at IIT Kanpur.

The news hit me like a bullet when I came to know, a few months back that he had left the school and went back to his hometown in TN. Last week, I had to apply for a scholarship where there was a field that said: “name of your favourite teacher.” With a heavy heart, I penned down almost instantaneously: “Sir Vasanthraj.”