Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Down the memory Lane - Part III

I was always branded as a pseudo-hostelite. Truth is, I went home only to watch TV, play on the comp, and more importantly: do the laundry. What that little two days spent at home afforded in terms of reducing home-sickness is just trivial. I hardly ever got homesick during the 4 year period, inspite of once staying a month in the hostel during a difficult period of end-sem exams. Thus, while I may not get classified as a true "Hostelite" as I had only stayed on an average 5 days a week in the hostel, it did give me a good perspective on what hostel-life is all about.

My original hostel had been, as mentioned before: Mandakini. But as the leaf turned over, it so happened that not enough seniors left in order to accomodate all the incoming juniors. So some had to invariably shift. That some included me. I was transferred, or rather, asked to be transferred to Alakananda Hostel, where there was a larger proportion of Chennai-ities and a larger proportion of branch-mates in my batch. Was it a change for the better. I suppose it was.

I still remember:

The long nite-outs, spent many times farting (meaningless gossiping, NOT creating an atmosphere of noxius air and pungent smells), discussing events, rumors, anecdotes, stories, news, books, academics, silly profs and their sillier actions and their silliest method of teaching courses; spent sometimes studying for exams; spent many times gaming; and finally spent doing nothing but watching movies.

The sometimes early morning rides I undertook with friends to the nearby Beasant Nagar beach to enjoy the morning sun, and sometimes a cool walk.

The afternoons spent crashing heavily, until someone with some sense decided to wake us up so that he could have company to go the mess for tea.

The evenings sometimes spent playing games, sometimes swimming, sometimes reading books (some new book always found the way into the wingmates - new books ready to be read, reviewed, criticised and then shamelessly passed on).

The messing around in the mess, noon and nites, eating food aka grub (though it could hardly be classified as one) with a heavy heart, discussing abject subjects with an even abject interest. Fussy Lucky ones managed to stay out of the circle of hostel messes completely, feeding solely on the snack crumbs at the nearby bakery in the evenings and a regular "Garden restaurant" in the nite and once again, in the late-nite. The availability of ice-creams in the messes and the opening of a Dhaba really spiced up the last year of hostel-stay.
That was completely offset by the innumerable treats that were given (and shamelessly taken too) in multifarious restaurants around the city. Popular ones being the Sangeetha and Shakes & Creams in Adyar, Residency, Dhaba Express in Beasant Nagar to name a few.
I also contributed by bringing grub from my house which relatives pretentiously left at my place thinking that I lived in a out-of-civilisation tribal area. Grub that included tasty namkeens, washed out chips, cakes, pastries, and some traditional sweets. I just assumed that it was in their best interests. But that did help me in me becoming more popular among the guys because I got good food to offset the measly hostel grub.

The Eating Out that sometimes formed a part of End-Sem completion celebrations, mostly observed by dipping bodily into the waters of the Bay of Bengal, frolicking in the sand and consummated finally by cosuming food at nearby restaurants.

While all this seemed rosy, there were quite a few disadvantages of staying in hostels, especially at IIT Madras; a scenario quite not possible in other IIT's. Problem: Lack of water.
The lack of water which coerced hostel management to get water supply through tankers, which effected the release of water daily to be limited to a period of 2 hours: one in the morning and one in the evening, forcing the billigerant hostelites to catch water every nite so that water would be available in the morning to atleast brush teeth and "Do the Loo", and if possible, take bath, or better yet, stay bath-free for a week. THANK GOD for Deoderants.
This total water scarcity which had forced compression of more than two semesters (from 5 day week to 6 day week so that the sem would close 3 weeks earlier) also caused the non-washing of the BOGS (Bathroom Of Graduate Students, as we always called 'em) resulting in toilets so dirty for weeks that we would have gladly used the public corporation toilets.

Another "Unique" problem to IIT hostels: Monkeys. Actually: the common langur.
Initial observation brands them as:
"Oh, Look at it. Its so cute nibbling on that leaf."
"Wow. Look there. Its so cuddly."
"Hey. There is one grooming the other. Can there be anything sweeter?".
Bull s**t. One week of stay in the hostel is enough to change anybody to gun-toting, shotgun riding, ready-to-shoot-any-monkey mood. One week. Thats all it takes.
My first experience with them: First year. I brought a huge load of home-made namkeens and a cake from house. While going to the afternoon session of class, the window was left open by mistake. Come evening. I open the door the a nite-mare. Namkeen spilt and spread all over the floor. Mineral-water-in-a-can tipped over, gurgling slowly, wetting and softening everything. And to complete the party celeberations, columns of red ants that decided to do the cleaning work.
Ended up spending the whole evening cleaning the mess.
Come every afternoon, there is a monkey raid. Apart from tipping over garbage bins and making the corridors dirty, they surreptitiously enter the rooms, make everything dirty, untidy, and untouchable and sometimes entertain us by "making babies". Thw worst part was, just after the BOGS are cleaned, they come over, spoil and soil everything, leave the taps running (wasting the little water that was available for bathing) and sometimes scare innocent hostelmates doing their loo.
Argh. I still hate em.
All this apart, life in hostel was fun, inspite of not having even LAN among the rooms. I must say that the magic of staying in hostels completely took me by surprise. A feeling that shud, rather, ought to be enjoyed by anybody who joins this institution.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Down the Memory Lane - Part II

I admit. Academics in college IS different from that of a school. But what I didnt expect when I took that leap from school to college is the total stark change in the method of teaching, the system of academics and the intricacies of college education.

First Day. Monday morning (Why does it always have to be a Mon Day?) Me. Cycling furiously in sweltering weather towards the distant classes. (On retrospection, the distance seems to have reduced as the years passed by.) Reaching the Class Room Complex. Confused as to where to go. Asking equally, if not more, confused students where to go. (Remember the dis-orienting orientation?)
First class: Material Sciences. 100 (equally?-)brite students jotting down seriously and sincerely the syllabus, books, prof's names, email id's and room no's followed by the heaving at the overwhelming enormousness of the entire thing, the quizzes, the mid-term exams, the end-sems, the assignments.

Days passed. Courses passed. Snickering remarks behind the back of bad profs, didnt-know-what-they-were-teaching profs, pedantic profs, passed. Exams passed. Assignments successfully passed. End semesters successfully passed. Waiting anxiously for grades, passed.
And then the whole routine, again. Over and over again. 7 more times. The only thing changing: more courses, more tougher courses, more assignments, more difficult exams; and the added project work in the last sem.

Typical first year problems faced by me and everybody, fazed me and everybody.
A course called ID110, Engineering Design Principles, which involved the brains to sow their engineering skills into practical problems: like measuring the length of a 2km long road, without surveying instruments; like measuring the height of a water tower, using trignometry: like developing a cantilever out of broomstik and have the maximum weight held/cantilever weight, (Mine came third at 500gm/8gm) did kindle the interest of all students.
An interest which was never rekindled afterwards.
A course called Engineering drawing. Memories revived everyday by seeing juniors hurrying to classes in their huge drafters, and the even larger chart boxes. It was quite a fun course. 3 hour long sessions of drawing, followed by even more furious rubbing, moving scales around, asking the girls innocently as to what to do next, inspite of having finished it already. The AutoCAD sessions really spiced my day. They made the job of Engineering drawing much more easier. (The S grades I had got in both the Drawing courses did help buoy my spirits).

The dreaded workshop. Especially the fitting workshop. 3 hour workshop Heads made us 3 (sometimes 4) hour drones, shafing the file mindlessly over a stupid iron piece which wouldnt care less if it werent filed and then, miraculously increased in size. The files, with equally ridiculous names, only job was to file away our hands, leaving way to blisters and torn skin to take over the pain that resided for the next week.

For the not so lucky: NCC. A dreaded 3 letter 4 hour gruelling session, that dragged us every weekend day early in the morning, for 20 days a year. Wasting most of the energy saved from eating the thimble sized morsels at the hostel mess into stomping the ground in torn, but yet, still hard boots under a hot sweltering sun; the only consolation being a small creamless cake and a hot puff, which, most of the time went to the mouth of a more hungry dog that promptly and punctiliously came to every NCC session. The 20 day "compulsory" "camp" conducted in one of the hostels was perhaps the last straw.

Somehow, the last 4 years have passed by. 'N' nerve-wracking nite-outs doing assignments, mugging for exams, doing project work. I persevered. I didnt give up, unlike the exceptionally some who did. I survived.
Academically, I was, perhaps, successful. I can't say otherwise. So many other things I had wanted to do, yet couldnt...

Next Post: Hostel Life.
To be continued...

Monday, July 19, 2004

This is a first of a series of posts: posts which are a conglameration of memories of my college-years, which just got terminated recently. Memories, triggered by the Invitation to my Convocation, signifying the end of all ties with my college, and the recent counselling sessions, the beginnning of any student's entry into IIT.
Besides, these are memories that should be closely treasured by, before they all
So incoming, a collexion of the recollexion of memories, anecdotes, interesting bits and memorabilia, that just go to make up my college life.

Down the Memory Lane, Part I

I still remember the very first trip I had made into IIT, just to see the rank I had got. Even though it was posted at the entrance, and even though I did not go more than 10 meters into the campus, it just got me a whole lot closer to the dream I had had since my 10th.

I still remember the counselling sessions (mine was on the first day itself) , where we had to choose the branch and the IIT where we had to go. The last minute decision (it was, infact, exactly the last minute) to bump up Mechanical @ IIT Madras over Electrical @ IIT Kharagpur made me what I am today. The thought that my blog mite not even have existed does put a bit of fear. I am happy now that things have headed in a good direction.

I still remember the orientation function afterwards. In my mind, as in everybody else's, it was as dis-orienting as possible. The seniors (including girls, or non-males, as everybody refers to) giggling from the floors above, sneering at the next victims that they could pounce upon as soon as we entered the hostels did not present a pleasant site.

I still remember the day I moved into the hostel - Mandakini, to be exact, on the eve of the day before the classes started. We were bunched up, three in a room (designed for two). It was often said by returning alumni, that the one thing they would remember after leaving IIT, is their hostel room numbers, which almost becomes engraved in one's mind. I cannot just put it in any other better way. Mine was 368 A, the 'A' signifying that I was the first in that room; the other two being a Northie guy in Electrical, and then luckily, a Tam guy in Metallurgical, who had come to the same JEE coaching classes with me. Consolation for me. Sudhon was in the same hostel, 4 rooms from mine.

I still remember the first time I got ragged. A group of quite note-worthy seniors caught me just as my parents left me and then asked me to do some quite wierd stuff. I got through, and IT was quite a mental hell for me. Then on, the decision never to rag others stuck to my mind.

I still remember the first food that I had had at the mess. While, to some, it did cause allergic reactions, constipations, and some vomitting even, I could just manage it. Physically, I could not find anything wrong with it. Apart from the insects, beetles and spiders which occasionally find its way into the huge buckets of sambar, rasam, equally huge vessels competing for size for rice and curry and the dinner plates, or the water that would have made sea water taste like mineral water, there was nothing wrong with it. It was just plain boring, and not tasty either. But, it was just food. And a man needs to eat. I soon ended up competing for the lowest mess bill that month, by not eating any of the extra stuff provided with the basic food (like cool drinks for a hot afternoon, vegetable kurmas, egg curry, puffs and samosas to accompany tea, ice-creams during dinner...). One thing I am glad about is the fact that eating in the mess, immunises anyone against any food and water borne diseases in the future - that ocould come in quite handy.

To be continued...
Next Post: College academics.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Confessions of a Tortured Mind

One of my friends Swaminathan B. has joined IIM Lucknow this semester and here is a mail that he wrote to me:
For reference, Khebus and Venkis are KGPian suppliers for booze.

anyway ...yahn bahut bura haal hai ...Our orientation
started on the 1st jisme case methodology etc padhaana
shuru kar diye there were compulsory sessions
by professors of fin,mark, etc etc ...and then the
various committees here made their presentation .. it
all started at 9:00 AM and went on till 2:00 AM (thats
after midnight).And at the end of the day we had 3
assignments ...including an all important case submit
which would be crucial for our summer placements .The
agenda for the next 2 days were the same ..and I
hardly get to sleep more than 3-4 hrs here per day ...
I finally submitted my case yesyterday ..typed around
10 pages of a MS wrod document all on my own ... today
I have to giv a group presentation at 9:30 PM and I
still havent met my group members !!! Plus the info
that arnd 30 odd guys are chucked out of this
institute every year ...the acads rules are very
stringent ..u get 2 F's or 1 F and 2 D's ..u're thrown
out .. I guess I'l be joining infy soon...

Swami's characteristics in Kgp can be summed up with one word.. GARFIELD.
So all you people thinking about belling the CAT, think again. And those who are "BEEN THERE, DONE THAT" kinds, guide us.

--My Blog--

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Typical IITian?

I was talking with a friend recently and these questions just popped up.

Is there something like a Typical IITian?

If there is, then who exactly is a Typical IITian?

What are the characterstics of such a person?

Let me clarify right in the beginning that JEE is not something that can be counted as a common characterstic. On similar lines, living in IIT and such superficial things are out.

What I am really interested is, in finding out whether there is a concept of Typical IITian, to which a large majority of IITians would confirm?

Personally, I find it hard to define such a thing because we IITians can be quite a difficult study.

On one hand, you have strong individualistic guys and on the other hand, there are the herd mentality guys. If that was not complicated enough, the very same people who tend to follow the herd in some aspects would turn out to be extremely individualistic in some other traits.

That was just an example. But its true for quite a lot of traits that one might be interested in looking for.

So ultimately, I find it hard to define a Typical IITian. But a lot of people apply that description to a lot of IITians.

Throw some light people!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

In TYLER, I Trust!!

Fight Club!

What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Why 42?

I must confess, I always thought Why 42?, every time I came across it in Douglas Adams's works. And even otherwise.

It gives me great pleasure to find that Douglas Adams had answered this question:

The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do' I typed it out. End of story.

Find the relevant post here.

And take a chill pill now. Rest in peace. The answer is 42.