Sunday, January 29, 2006


I have just finished doing what I have never done before: Watched a movie twice in two consecutive days. That too in Priya, buying tickets above the normal Rs. 45 affair. Before this, I had never watched a movie twice in a theatre, let alone on consecutive days. The movie, as you might have had guessed by now, is Rang De Basanti, and both the times, it has felt like a tight slap on the face.
I am not an avid movie goer, and cant really comment about the technical quality of the movie, but from my point of view, it hit me like nothing else has ever before. RDB has taught me a few things, and I feel exactly like many of my peers had told me it would: You are left speechless. And I was left with a feeling of complete guilt as well. Guilt because it felt that at the ripe old age of 23, I have not achieved nothing, while people like those brave krantikaris had laid down their lives by this time. It actually reminded me of something I had read in the book on World History in my childhood, Julius Ceaser was crying out aloud, at the age of 33, outside a Roman temple. When someone asked him why, he replied, "By this age, Alexander had conquered the world, and I, I have won nothing." Bad comparison, alright, but thats exactly how I feel right now, wanting to cry out aloud.
RDB is a funny movie. It has some of the best subtle comic dialogues. It is also, by far, the darkest movies I have ever seen (And this includes all Hollywood films I have seen). There seems to be no hope, after watching the end. Corruption is here to stay, as are the perennial problems of casteism and communalism. And it exists everywhere, sadly. How many of us newly office goers are not trying to avoid paying the actual tax by coming up with bills we havent actually paid for? And how many of us are willing to pay the entire fine to the government, rather than putting one tenth of the amount into the traffic policeman for a traffic light violation? Not many, I would guess. How can we change society when we ourselves are dishonest in the first place? The first step then, is to change ourselves, and later attempt the change in society, which itself throws up many challenges.
RDB seems like two movies merge into one, and while I watched the first half, it seemed that nothing could overshadow the first half performance. But by the end of the movie, the period before the intermission had slipped into oblivion, and all you could remember was the deep patriotic message that the movie was trying to convey. And maybe it was not exactly a patriotic message. It was a message of the triumph of the Human Spirit, and what can it achieve. The movie was actually about how can people change the society. However, these people succeed, because they had nothing else to live for. Can a normal human being produce such a service? I doubt it. For there are other things as important, if not more important, than freedom. To roughly quote Vikram Seth in From Heaven Lake, his travellouge through China, (Please note that the year was 1982, when China's human rights record was in tatters, but its economy had become strong. India, then was still following the long lost dream of a classless society, which left the economy weak) "I was asked in a paper in Stanford, if I had a choice between India and China, as a place of birth in my next birth, what will I choose? I wrote that if I was living in the conditions that I am today, I would definitely prefer India. But if I were among the poorer 35% households of India, those who live everyday at barely Rs. 10 I would prefer China, because even though freedom, and liberty, while being great virtues, are not enough to buy you bread and butter." Can people having a decent lifestyle actually fight for a better cause? I dont think so.
I liked RDB, because it taught me the following things about life, or it helped me deduce the following (when I thought I knew all):
1) Any person has it in him to be a superhero: All it takes are the right circumstances, and making the toughest (which is also the easiest) decision. When life becomes futile, the easiest thing to do is to end it. However, like DJ says, all that is different is the end.
2) When love happens, it is best to leave it to the almighty. If anything has to happen it will. Try your best, but wait. God sees the truth but waits.
3) Life starts only after college. You define life till you start working. After that life starts defining you.
4) You only realise the impact of things after they happen somewhere close to you, or when someone close to you is effected.
5) Determination, with the right amount of hard work and planning, can lead to anything.
6) Corruption is a big issue in India (This was surprisingly not my view earlier), and
7) The common youth of India is not very sure about India's past, or even the present. How many of us, for example, know of 379 as the official figure for the Jallianwallah Bagh tragedy?
I want to say out a lot more, but I guess I shall stop for now. Its almost 4 at night, and I have to be at office by 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Training and Placement

There are so many articles written about IIT nowadays, and this one is in the process of joining the list. Today I came across a pretty sarcastic blog (and if I werent an IITian, it might have been humourous), which talked about IITians acting like prudes, when infact they are capable of not much. The guy writing the blog had probably been humiliated by an IITian sometime in his life earlier, and despite his best efforts, had failed to clear both JEE and GATE, and what better way to get even with something that has caused you such mental aghast than slamming it on your blog. And he has done some pretty good job of it as well. Because after reading the article, you had probably get down to believe that IITs are institutes producing only self - obsessed bastards, who have nothing else to do except discussing Newtonian laws (oops..he failed to mention Einsteinian), ogling at beautiful women, preparing some brilliant coffee, going to the office place wearing slippers, and making fun of other people.
Now, after 50 years of IIT, if this is the image that is being portrayed to the outside world, then its a matter of deep concern. Especially at a time when IITs are fast losing their importance as centres of excellence in technology. And at a time when the T&P department starts believing that its not their job, in the first place, to get every man a job.
IIT is the stuff of what dreams in a middle class household are made up of. Clearing JEE is often seen as the fastest way of making money. When people come to IIT, its often with the dreams of getting a 30000 + a month job, along with the images of a secure future. And the best thing about IIT is that it helps keep the dream right through the first three years. Things like extra-curicullars, are encouraged at the expense of a good CGPA. And the whole system falls flat in the fourth year, when you seem to be running from post to post to get a good job. And the answer to what becomes the ultimate question "Why do you have such a low GPA?" And you have no answer, because there can be no answer, except for the one which we are unwilling to give, because we havent put in hard enough efforts because we didnt think it was worth it. And then all that IIT provides you after years of toil as an engineer is a software coding job, which tests none of your analytical or engineering skills in the first place.
The worst thing about Training & Placement is that people, because they work on a voluntary basis, and not on an official basis, dont take it as a responsibility. Now what I am going to write is in direct contrast to what I wrote as a comment on someone else's blog the other day, but I guess this is true: Politics in IIT, while not always making the best man incharge, also makes the people work hard towards making a mark. How else would you explain a ceratin 6 point something (and its a negligible something I believe) becoming the G.Sec of AIC (Academic Interaction Council: the body in IIT that runs the academic schedule). His CG and the post he holds seem to be a complete misfit with one other. It would much better be handled by the Institute Rank 1, you will say. But this guy has brought in sponsorships worth RS. 25 lakhs (unconfirmed reports put the figure at Rs. 30 lakhs as well) for Tryst, which otherwise was usually conducted on a Rs. 5 lakh budget. And he is working because he wants to make a difference, which was why he expressed his desire to become the AIC G.Sec in the first place. He also knows that any failure on his part would make him accountable to all those who rooted for him during the elections.
T&P cell, on the other hand, comprises people who think they want to make a difference in other people's life, but who more often than not tend to give up halfway. The T&P cell this year has been hailed for its professional approach, and its because of the perseverence of just two and three men. But there have been black sheep in it as well. I know of a person, one of my good friends, who worked day and night for the placement cell, till the moment he got his job, which was on the first day of campus itself, and then he just stopped. He wasnt motivated enough, he said. There are others who have got jobs and are still working for the cell, but these are too few, and the rest are working outside T&P. T&P, I have heard, buoyed by its new found success, and an all time average salary high, has stopped inviting more companies. And this, at a time when only 50% of the batch has been placed. And of these, some have multiple offers, from companies who have openly recruited off-campus and on campus at the same time.
Now there is even talk of paying a handsome salary to students who are working in the T&P department. This shall make everyone eager to do their bit, which shall further undermine the working of the cell. This, when only two or three people (even this seems to be an exaggeration, probably only a single person ) has worked hard for the cell. And then comes irresponsible statements from students working in the cell, "It is not the T&P responsibility to get everyone a job in campus. We are more concerned with the logistics and planning of companies visiting the campus." This is kind of ridiculous. I have lived with people who werent placed till the day they got their degree. And they werent the worst guys on campus. It was embarrasing, for them to tell everyone they had not been placed. And had the T&P cell be made a political body, we could probably have someone manage things much more efficiently. Then probably people could assure that everyone got jobs, not very high paying, but atleast jobs. The great IIT dream could possibly still be rescued. All it takes are some hardworking individuals. And possibly, some politics, or some accountability.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Basic Fundamental of Life

Yesterday night was Friday night. And like all Friday Nights, it was a time of merry making and meeting friends. And yeah, ofcourse, of drinking. And about discussing the basic fundamentals of life. It has often been seen that the best conversations take place over a glass of whisky. Vodka tends to make one noisier, and aggresive, as such killing off the chances of any conversation. Whisky, at moderate levels though, acts just the opposite. It tends to calm you down, and makes you receptive to others' ideas; and gives you the confidence to air your own views. In short, whisky (in the right quantity, ofcourse) creates an aura, where conversations can flow without any interruption.
These nights have taught me, and I am sure a lot of my other companions, a lot about life itself. And yesterday, probably was the culmination of everything I had ever wanted to know. I think I have found the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. Life is too subjective to ever have any objective answers. Actually there is no objective question, and so the answer is different for different people. Life is all about finding the question, and then finding the answer to the question. Its about first finding what actually you want from it, and then getting it as well.
There are few things more that a person can ask for professionally in India, but being among the confines of the premier educational institute in India. And while, I thought myself as being successful for some time, the feeling soon wore away. I was just one among many, and it led me to understand the very essence of success. In my endevour for the answer, I remember once asking my favourite college professor during one of the "Introduction to Department" classes: "How do you define success?". And the answer had been, in his typical fashion, "Success is defined by you." And this one answer, while making him my favourite professor, was something I was not truely able to appreciate.I always thought he was right, and quoted the incident at various conversations, but was never fully able to understand the true meaning of it all. Until yesterday. Yesterday I knew my question (I got to know what is the challenge I will love the most). And now I know success means finding the answer to the question(Achieving that challenge). If I find the answer, I am going to be a success, else I will be a failure. Or else I shall just seek a second question from life, and seek a new answer. And so on. Till I become successful, or I die. Even if I die a failure, it shall be a fighting failure. Come on life, I am ready to take you on, and the challenges you throw at me. I am going to be successful, but if I am not, its not going to kill me. I will just keep trying.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Love is On the Way...and other stories

I have often wondered as to why do people fall in love, and not rise through it? And I have often also thought as to why people break up in a relationship? Why dont can people make love stay? And why do most relationships not end sweetly? And why do people fight in a relationship?
[Disclaimer: The following work is a strict work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is co-incidental]
Now here is a small story: Lets call the characters of the story, Mr. Z, Mr.Y, Mr.X, Mr. W, Mr. V, Mr. U, Ms. T,Ms. S, Ms. R, Ms. Q (A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I and J are often used, so I tried using the opposite approach. Please tell me if this gets confusing, and we can use numbers). It is actually not too tough. There are six male characters and four female characters. Its a story about love and relationships, and how can relationships fail.
The story so far : Z,Y,X,V are very close friends. They are self confessed losers, missing the four basic amenities of life. V and X are very smart and atheletic, Z is considered one of the brainiest and Y is the soundest of the lot.R comes into their group, becomes the best of friend with everyone, and with Z's help, V and R become a couple. Z has been in love with T for the past two years, and already confessed her love for her, but been shunned. Z, having played a successful part in making V and R come together, starts thinking of himself as Hitch. X had a steady relationship with a girl from his hometown, but the relationship broke because of the distances between them. "Once bitten, twice too shy" X is hence unable to get into any other serious relationship. Y has never been in any relationship so far, has never been interested in girls. He did feel a certain something for R but that feeling subsided when V wooed R away.
Story continued: W is V's friend, who is also in love with T. W is everything that Z is not : confident, achiever, smart, and sporty. Z starts liking W and a mutual friendship develops, based on the premises of their loving the same girl. W is making quite progress in wooing T. Z also realises that W and T would make a great couple, and hence asks R, who is also T's friend, to intervene. (This is done without W knowing it). And when R intervenes on W's behalf, T is bewildered and embarrassed, accusing W of spoiling what might have been a good relationship, by talking about it in the open. And so this relationship ends, without having actually started. Human ego is a tricky thing. It can make you do the hardest of things, and prevent you from doing the simplest things. And while this was all Z's fault, W, in all his magnamity, continues his friendship with Z, and it only grows.
Now, S is a girl smitten by X, who, as already mentioned above, is afraid of relationships. And so Z, unruffled by his past failure and hoping to set the record straight, jumps in to make X like S. Z fails yet again, despite a few successes, as X's relationship phobia prevents him from responding positively to S. Another relationship that was meant to be was killed. And, then, Z finds himself liking S, courtesy of long periods of staying together, and proposes to her, She accepts initially, maybe because she has become a good friend of Z and cant bear to break his heart, but sometime later, she realises her mistake, and breaks off the relationship. Another relationship fails, one that was never meant to be in the first place. Again, its probably important to understand, that X and Z remain the best of friends. Through his misadventures, Z does experience a lot about life, and certainly become wiser. He has also decided never to have anything to do with other people's life.
The story is drawing to a close now, but two of the characters are not even mentioned so far. U and Q were in love, when Q met Y. But because of the distances and some misunderstanding between Q and U, they fall apart. In the meantime, Y has started liking Q and Q has developed feelings for Y. All this while, Y has been the guide, friend and philosopher to Z. Z doesnot want to play spoilsport, but he also wants to warn Y about the pitfalls in love. What might happen in a relationship is anybody's guess. Will this relationship be successful, or will U come back into Q's life and play spoilsport? And will W and T, X and S ever get back together? And what shall happen to Z? I dont have the answers. If you do, please write in.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A fall..or something of that sort, with full respect to Sir Donald Bradman, and a new beginning

Prologue : Sir Donald Bradman, the greatest batsman ever to grace the game of Cricket, needed just four runs off his last innings to end his career with an above 100 runs per innings average. However, he was, ironically, bowled out for a duck, leaving him with a career average of 99.94. His highest score in tests was 334. Years later, when Mark Taylor, playing at 334*, declared his innings as a mark of respect to Bradman, he was hailed the world over for his sportsmanship. Today, I have kind of followed in Mark Taylor's footsteps. To learn more, read on.
Today was the day when the CAT scorecard came out. And it was a disappointment at first sight in almost all fronts. My %ile score dropped from 99.96 the last time to 99.94 this year. Even in my forte subject, Data Interpretation, my %ile dropped from 100 to 99.99. These figures made me pretty sad, for it was a clear cut sign that I was regressing. Now, considering that I had put in much more efforts the first time around, my performance this time is probably better; but I should have clinched a better score because of relatively greater experience, so the two factors almost cancelled out. And thats what made me sad, for I had fallen, or something of that sort, from my earlier peak, but now looking back at it, I am kind of happy. I have joined Sir Don Bradman, equalling his 99.94 figure. So I am going to dedicate this CAT score to the memory of Sir Bradman, and hope he acknowledges my gesture from heaven the same way he did Taylor's.
Tonight I had a long discussion with my friends over life. Now, as it has often been found out experimentally over my four (and a half??) year stay during long night discussions among our group, politics is the only topic which can make people forego sleep till the wee hours of the morning. So tonight it was surprising to find out another topic to which everyone was ready to contribute and listen attentively. And this conversation told me a lot of new things about myself, and about my friends, and a lot about people and conversations in general.
I realised today, for example, as to how important is listening to a conversation. And I also realised why Ayn Rand was so right and so wrong. She was so right about Howard Roark. But so wrong about Ellsworth Toohey. Ellsworth Toohey is Howard Roark, and Howard Roark is Ellsworth Toohey. I am sorry to sound so much like a baba (this is supposed to be a pun, for those who understand it, that is), but I have never liked the whole theory of objectivism. After reading Fountainhead, I had ghostly visions all night, and I even got a phone call that said, "You have read the Fountainhead, and so you'll be dead in seven days." (Only joking, ofcourse, but it is bad, and whats worse, its big). They say Atlas Shrugged is better, but like they say, once bitten, twice too shy. And Atlas Shrugged is thrice the size of Foutainhead. What better way to get even with a book that has eaten away precious hours of your life and left you with an incomplete feeling (when you were better off studying EE203 or EE205 or one of those arbit Electrical Engineering courses in IIT; it would have atleast assured the four years did not get extended) than to slam it on your blog?
They say good things in life come in small packages. Seems like its very true. Like my company. It offered me a pretty small package, but its turning out to be a good, fun-filled experience for me. I am soon going to pen down my experiences with ADT.
I am just finishing reading Still Life With Woodpecker today. It is a great read, and like all other Tom Robbins' books, makes you think about the serious problems of life in a pretty light mode. Tom Robbins, for the uninitiated, "is a maverick author of eight novels. He is among those authors who attain rockstar status among public in Australia, Europe and USA. He presently resides in Seattle." (This is straight out of the 'About the Author' note from the book.) This book contains answers to important questions such as, "How to make love stay?" and "Who built the Pyramids?" A much recommended book.
Epilogue : Sir Don Bradman is so happy with my gesture, he makes my interview blues go away. (Ghosts can do anything they want, you know.) I have a nice answer to explain my below par CGPA, and my extended degree. And I so impress the interviewers that I get all six final calls. And then suddenly, someone wakes me up.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Random Musings.

You win some, you lose some, and the rest are draws. That is exactly how I am feeling today, after the initial euphoria over my IIM calls has waned away. Today was a pretty good day as well, but still something is amiss. I got a US visa for 10 years flat, and my team and me did a fairly decent job with the project at hand today. And one of very good friends got a job from campus today. But there was also a disappointment, and it is really amazing how much can one disappointment ruin a day full of happiness.
Today I finally found out I won't be going to the United States Of America. My company had taken this decision in the positive interest of the client (for whom I was going to work while in the US). Because I was not very sure about my stay in the company after the IIM results were out, there was no point in their spending money on me. Not that I was very very keen to go there at the middle of the winter season (with temperatures dropping to -30 degrees around Chicago, I am probably better off not going) , especially as it meant that I had to miss my IIM interviews, but I was still happy having the choice. Oh, the strange ways of the human mind! I had always dreaded making this horrible choice between IIM interviews and a business trip to the US; but now that I am not required to make this decision, I feel even more horrible.
There are times in life which make you realise that you cannot have it all. Today is such a day, and I am looking forward to now making up amends for all the mistakes and blunders I had committed during the past year, which cost me final calls to IIMs last year.
Hers looking forward again to a rollicking 2006, and hoping that the world would become a better place to live in. And that all your ambitions and dreams come true.
And so I end up my shortest post ever. To make up the size and becase these lyrics seem as random as my posts have become recently, here are the lyrics of one of my favourite songs (And please someone explain them to me as well). The songs again by REM, and its called Find the River.
Tailpiece (What does this phrase actually mean??): Why are guys without girls called losers, when actually its the guys with girls who 'lose' it?
Find the River:
Hey now, little speedyhead,
The read on the speedmeter says
You have to go to task in the city
Where people drown and people serve
Don’t be shy. your just deserve
Is only just light years to go

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon
I have got to leave to find my way
Watch the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

The ocean is the river’s goal,
A need to leave the water knows
We’re closer now than light years to go

I have got to find the river,
Bergamot and vetiver
Run through my head and fall away
Leave the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

There’s no one left to take the lead,
But I tell you and you can see
We’re closer now than light years to go
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
Fall into the ocean

The river to the ocean goes,
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way
There is nothing left to throw
Of ginger, lemon, indigo,
Coriander stem and rose of hay
Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naivete
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way

Monday, January 02, 2006

Of New Year Resolutions, Black Eye, United States of America and more.

Welcome 2006. Goodbye 2005. It has been a year that has been, to take a hint from Clint Eastwood, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." It has been a year of tremendous lows, but at the end of the day; the best thing about the past year was that it taught me a lot, about life, the Universe and Everything.
I have a few resolutions for the New Year: This is the first time I am making resolutions, because this is the first time I feel disciplined enough to try to keep them. One is to achieve something worthwhile by the end of this year. In professional terms. In other words, achieve some "success", in the way the society defines it, because it will make people close to me happy. Second is to improve my health, and become ummm...less fatter. Third is to drink less. Well last year saw me at my worst, but this time I am planning to cut down my alcoholic consumption. Finally, I am also planning to stop judging people, because I have discovered that Buddha was probably wrong, the cause of all sorrows is not desires, it is this desire to judge and keeping expectations from people that causes all troubles and sorrows in this world. [More about this later, I am hoping to open a new school of philosophy based on this one noble truth.]
And 2006 could not have started on a brighter note. I have had two good things happening for me professionally: I have got a US visa (I am still to get back the passport though), and on the cards is a two month trip to Chicago (The Windy City), USA; as one of my company's representative to Kraft Foods. Kraft foods, incidentally, happens to be the second largest food and beverage company in the world, so it can help my resume a lot. (I now have suddenly discovered that resume is an important factor towards success, and success does matter, even if not to you, but to those around you. And this strengthens my resolve to become an achiever.) The second good thing to happen is that I have got a Black Eye. No..nobody hit me or anything, but I have just recieved the calls for all six IIMs. Now the six IIMs are located at Bangalore (B), Lucknow (L) Ahmedabad (A) Calcutta (C) Kozikode (K) and Indore (I), which makes BLACKI, but because it sounds so much like a dog's name, its better to call it a black eye. It is a feat I did achieve the last time as well, and so is nothing particularly special, but I feel much more confident and disciplined now to be able to convert them, particularly the big ones, A, B and C.
However, the new year has also brought along with it hard choices for me to take : What if I can choose only one of the two? It is going to be a very hard choice to make: especially since my parents favour me taking the GD/PI, while I am more attracted about visiting Chicago, even though its winter and its freezing cold at -30 degree centigrade. I will just like to go out and explore the world on my own, and I believe this is the right age to do it.
A word of caution: my mind seems to speak, dont count your chicken before they hatch. Remember, 2005 started almost similiarly. And then the bubble burst, worse than the Harshad Mehta induced fall in BSE in 1993 (Or was it 1992, I am never sure of numbers). My degree got extended, and I was on the brink of suicide, not once, but twice. But life now seems so much nicer. Just a testimony to what someone once told me: "Everything happens for the best. " I never believed it then, but today, with everything going my way, I will vouch for it as well.
I never dedicate my blog to anybody, but this time I will dedicate it to one of my very good friends (I have a lot of very good friends, no best friend, which is good, in a way), who, but for some professors who thought that IIM will do well without people with good speed, and opted for accuracy instead, would definately have made it into every IIM. Here is to you, my dear friend, to remind you, that even though when everything seems to be lost, there is always some hope to be found in this world. When you have reached rock bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. I have been there quite a few times, and today is the highest I have ever been, since I marched into IITD with a AIR of 228. And that seems centuries ago. I might have been talking about the tunnel so far, but now that I see light, there is so much more satisfaction. I have just ended the worst year of my life, with hope and promise.
So, dear friend, please dont give up. There is much more to life than CAT, and unlike it seems, God does exist. He even sees the truth, but waits. And the longer he waits, the better is his reward. And if you are still feeling low, just read this, my manna in the days when I felt like ending this "useless" life, and better still, try singing this along (REM are my favourite composers) :
When the day is long and the night,
the night is yours alone,
When you're sure you've had enough of this life,
well hang onDon't let yourself go,
'cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong.
Now it's time to sing along
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go, (hold on)
When you think you've had too much of this life, well hang on

'Cause everybody hurts.
Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts. Don't throw your hand.
Oh, no. Don't throw your hand
If you feel like you're alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

If you're on your own in this life, the days and nights are long,
When you think you've had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts sometimes,Everybody cries.
And everybody hurts sometimesAnd everybody hurts sometimes.
So, hold on, hold onHold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts. You are not alone