Thursday, June 28, 2007

Alice in Wonderland

Two days ago (on June 26, 2007) - it was farewell party by the 2003-2007 batch EC students of GEC Barton Hill. The fellows had intimated us poor teachers the previous day that the function would begin at 11 am and had asked us not to bring our lunch to college that day. When the function didn't start even by half past twelve, I was telling to myself - "Hmm, I understand vengeance, but it shouldn't have been over food."

Anyway, the function started shortly, and after HoD and one or two people addressed the gathering, the students obliged to serve us the biriyani. (I was committed not to speak before food.) So after the staff had the biriyanis and the students had their ice creams (they wanted to end the party with food, I suppose), it was speeches' time again.

From last evening, I was thinking about what to tell my students on this important occasion. These two weeks, some of my B.Tech batch-mates (Rajeev, Sajith and Me) were having a very serious e-discussion on what Rajeev stated as The need to fundamentally reconcile "work" and "social responsibility". Since the spirit of that discussion was still hurting me, I decided to speak on those lines to my students.

So this is the jist of what I had spoken then - sans the repetitions and with more polished English. [This is noted down from memory. So those of who had heard the speech, please don't expect a transcript.]

Respected colleagues and dear students,

This is an occasion when memories and dreams wage a war to claim the emotional space inside you. Though, I understand that memories have much more chance to win, today I choose to speak more about the dreams.

With in about two to three years from now, most of you are going to make the most important choice in you lives. You are going to choose what you are going to with the rest of your life.

I know most of you are employed and many of you have more than one job to pick from. But I don't really consider that as any choice.

Some of you might have already wondered on what is the purpose of their lives. I don't intent to give an answer to that here. But in that process, some of you might have realised that it is impossible to remain happy when there is no happiness around you. And that you find the most happiness only when those around you too are happy. I'm addressing those who feel so.

Here again I don't have a one word answer on what to do. But there are some options that have come to my mind at different points in time. I'll try to present them here in an order of decreasing risk levels involved.

1. Join Politics

I have great respect to all politicians - except for those who are hand pulled to the chairs of power by their politically powerful parents. Even if it is for money or power, it is still a very courageous route to choose. And if it is to serve the society, then it is the most potential choice to that end. I didn't join politics only because I didn't have the courage for it.

2. Start your own company

India requires much more jobs to be created. If all of you are going to be employees who are going to be the employers for the next generation? Even if the motive is profit, I think you will be contributing to the happiness of your society. But if you can think beyond profit, think of alternative means of ownership and alternative ways of management too.

3. Join an NGO

Non Governmental Organisations still play an important role in most parts of India. The the ideal solution is to empower the local self government institutions, till the ideal solution is reached, I think being in an NGO you can directly help a lot of people.

4. Join a technology provider for the Government.

The centres that governments have set up to provide for its technological needs are finding it quite tough to attract and retain talented engineers. Most of the time, it is this lack of talent that stands in the way of modernisation of government. I don't need to tell to you the amount of effectiveness and efficiency that proper technology can bring to our governments.

5. Become a teacher.

Now we have reached the zero risk point in the gradation list it seems. It is for cowards like me who couldn't choose the higher ranked options. But still, at-least you take solace that you can speak about those options to your students! Here again many at times, many a people would have told you on the good that a good teacher can do to the society. [These days I'm actually wondering more on what bad that a bad/careless/uninformed/... teacher can do to the students].

6. Keep doing (for life) whatever your first employer makes you do.

But here again, try to do some service part-time. Be with the ones on the other cubicles, but then see the men on the street too. My personal experience so far tells me that part time activism doesn't take you that far. But again, I have some friends who have shown that it needn't be so.

I don't believe or advice that anyone of you should take one of the first 5 choices immediately. Each of it requires lot more of learning. Lessons from life and lessons from a relevant higher study. But when that point in life comes when you decide to choose, make the choice from a wide set of choices rather than choosing between this company or that company.

And don't postpone that choice for too long. Not more than 2-3 years. Coz, the constraints on you are only going to increase.

And if any of you decide to choose any of the first five options or for that matter, anything except the sixth, do leave me a note. I would love to share your joy.

Keep in touch. Keep mailing. Keep blogging.


Post Script: [From Alice in Wonderland]
'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,'
'I don’t know where. . .'
'Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,'

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fixing broken glass

Glassroom, my website, was shattered by a server crash. Every meaning was lost because the meaning was not in the individual bits and pieces of the glassware but in their sequence and structure.

The list of losses is big.

  1. The user accounts of all.
  2. All the stories posted so far and the comments to them.
  3. All the configurations and tweaks that I had done.
  4. ...

But not always do losses strike me quantitatively (read "as an enumerated list"). How this loss strikes me is as the loss of shared memory of a community. A case of Traumatic Amnesia.

But the community has to survive. Please join in folks (create new accounts) and start talking (posting stories and comments).

I will also try and add a feed from glassroom onto the sidebar of this blog.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Comments Please

After having my second birth in blogam, I was a bit surprised (read "let down") to see that no one was commenting on my posts. Remember that it is the same me who was surprised one year back to see some comments on my posts even without having told anyone that i have a blog. That was when i knew nothing about RSS and Atoms and feed readers. (From there, i have learned so much so as to dare giving a lecture on Web2.0 to an audience of teachers and PG students in CET).

Thanks to nasia@exaggeration again for telling me that i had accidentally disabled the comments option. That was unintensional dear readers and critics (i hope there is audience), and please do comment if you were planning to. I love to hear from those who hear me.

By the way i'll also try and put up a "recent comments" block on the sidebar.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Humanly Impossible

Another batch of my students had their last and final B.Tech theory exam today. Its my third batch of students passing out. At the principal's office I met three of them who were there to discuss with him about giving a memorandum for liberal valuation of some of the papers.

What are the top N reasons why students fail in engineering colleges now?

  1. Sir, the valuation was very tough. There are cases of students who have failed to score 40 marks inspite of having written more than 40 pages.
    My comment : Unacceptable
  2. Sir, the question paper had so many problems. We were thorough with the theory but we couldn't do any of the problems.
    My comment : Unbelievable.
  3. Sir, in the programming lab we were asked to write our own programs. We had studied all the programs in our lab record, but the examiner was not ready to ask any of them.
    My comment : Injustice.
  4. Sir, only some one who knows what we studied in S3 could answer those questions in the S5 paper.
    My comment : Unethical.
But today, from those three at the principal's office, i heard a very strange reason on why the S8 Artificial Neural Network exam was tough.
Sir, we needed to think as well as write.
My comment : Humanly Impossible

Thursday, June 07, 2007

ഡോക്ടര്‍ ഗ്സ്പാര്‍ ആര്നെറി

ഡോക്ടര്‍ ഗ്സ്പാര്‍ ആര്നെറി
എന്തെന്തൊരു വൈഭവശാലി !
കൌശലമുള്ളൊരു നരിയെപ്പോലും
കെണിയില്‍ വീഴ്ത്തും കെങ്കേമന്
കൂറ്റന്‍ പാറ തകറ്ത്തീടും
ചൊവ്വയ്ലേക്കു പറ്ന്നീടും
കണെത്താത്തൊരു നക്ഷത്രത്തില്
ചെന്നെത്തമാ ഡോക്ടര്ക്കു !

So many things made this vaccation (May 2007) special to me. One thing (not the most important one by any count) was the collection of russian stories (translated to malayalam) that i took from Divya. She hand picked the books from her collection and also decided the order in which I should read them.

  1. മായാലോകം - a wonderful collection of juvenile fantasies.
  2. പുഴയിലെ ദീപങ്ങള് - role models, role models, living role models... we had many, but who among us will become one to our next gen?
  3. കടലോരതു ഒരു ബാലന്‍ - spotting goodness
  4. ജീവിത വിദ്യാലയം - a man's richness is to be measured by the diversity of his experiences
  5. മൂണു തടിയന്മാര്‍ - Doctor Gaspar Arnery ...
ന്യൂറ, സുവോക്ക് - unforgettable characters - but to me, someone so mine.

had i read all these at an age meant for them, would i be different from what i'm now? hm ... any way it wouldn't have been as different as it would have been if the driver of the sumo wasn't as responsive as he was when the feat threw me onto his tyres.

what is the apriori probability that i'm what i'm among the infinitely many possibilities? sure its zero if the infinity is uncountable and i believe it is so. but zero probablity events do happen. or would i be what i'm?

... so unlucky is this world. me being different was an almost sure event which didn't happen ... and so lucky is me - compliment of an almost sure event that did happen.

i'm not chokking, but i don't want a hand around my neck now. so ...


Saturday, September 09, 2006
ഇനി ഞാന്‍ ഉറങ്ങട്ടെ (Let me sleep now)
- that was my last posting here. was it that nothing was happening with my life since then? NO. NO. so many things were happening. Now even Blogger saves your drafts automatically!

so much has happened since Sep 9, 06. i'll do the recollection some time in december. but what brought me back here were two blogs. exaggeration by my ex-student nasia and tvmtalkies by my friend brahma (alias bvn).

i know so much can be done on a blog. but who cares.

it doesn't come out. it is stuck. it hasn't taken shape (read words). its swelling. i'm chokking.

and i need firefox2 - Even now Blogger doesn't have a spell checker.