Friday, May 26, 2006

From Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

So it ended yesterday. I had the final presentation of my project. Now only administrative formalities remain between me and my degree. Its funny that I don't feel much different from yesterday. But as read somewhere, the trick is that you are now a much different person than you were 5 years ago.

The only feeling that I have is a sense of purposelessness. I remember this feeling quite well. The last time it was felt was exactly 5 years ago, when the JEE result was announced. Till the time of admission, I roamed around in a zombie like state, without any sense of purpose in life. Sure there is excitement about future plans, but future plans will be carried out 6-8 weeks from now. There is nothing one can do to change that and there is nothing one can do right now but wait.

Its not a particularly nice feeling. Rather like title of one of Wodehouse's stories - "Jeeves and the Impending Doom". Only Jeeves can be replaced by me :). In a way, this post is a reflection of my aimless wandering mind, which is currently the HQ of "Devil Works Inc", just as the saying goes. So I loads of time to watch tons of movies. I also have time on my hand to attend rallies and demonstrations if I feel like. And slip in some excursions to DU. All in the burning Delhi sun. Which reminds me ... I better enjoy these last few days in this sun. Its not going to be like this in Bangalore :(.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Majors over!

Actually I have no clue if the title of the post is totally correct, but methinks that I am not too far from the truth. This is because I didnt have any courses with exams this semester. None. Zilch. Zukk. Take your pick.

This is possibly one of the perks of being a dulla --- no exams in the final semester (unless you have to pay for past sins like audit fukkas and such like:P). Having diligiously managed to avoid the same, I was clear of all lecture courses. Which leads us to the fact that I didnt have any majors. It feels a bit weird because I cant remember what my last major was. I mean, I dont remember what I felt like when I took that exam. The feeling of joy, relief etc. was distinctly absent. I had not forseen that the lack of lecture courses would make it my last exam in IITD. Just that I cant remember what "it" is. Was it High Speed Networks or Distributed Computing ? Perhaps someone can help out on this.

Well, I dont have much to write about the last exam, but plenty to write about the first one. I remember that day with all its gory details. The "interaction period" had just ended and we were trying to get used to the heat (no water coolers here), the water shortage (2 showers day ?! in your dreams) and the long hours of classes and labs. Particularly tortuous was the engineering drawing class whose only consolation was the fact that it was the last class on Friday and I could go home after it!

Anyway, coming back to the point, our happy, mundane existence was suddenly shaken by the advent of something called the "minors". As the name suggests, they are nothing more than a minor irritant once you get used to them. But the these were going to be our first exams in IITD. And the FIRST of them was a maths course - MA111. The terror of first year CS and EE students. Almost half our seniors had got Ds last year (rumour had it) and many were repeating. And this was the awe inspiring minor which was going to be our first exam.

The more observant among the readers might have missed the fact that I didnt mention power shortage along with the rest of the problems earlier. As far as I can remember, there wasnt any. Atleast not till the day before the minors. We were wading through sets and metric spaces, theorems and proofs. And then, there was a power cut. There was panic and confusion all around. Some relief too, since now there was a valid reason to stop studying.

We trooped down to the mess where something wonderful called extra-messing was going on. The mess had a line from a genset and the tubelights were on (no fans ). In that stuffy, sweaty atmosphere, progress was made on MA111. The more enterprising took off to the institute, where there was power in the academic area. Some time into the night, the valiant genset of the mess gave up and darkness reigned.

Details from here on are a bit fuzzy. I cant remember if I studied under candles or something, but I do remember that I gave up and went to sleep in the heat. My bed was soaking wet ... with sweat (what else !). Around 5am or so, power finally did come. Seniors claimed that this was a regular feature before all minors and majors. The institute authorities, in their infinite wisdom supposedly didnt want us to study on the eve of exams. We were supposed to have done that earlier. But this is mostly an urban legend (readers who have more on this are welcome to post).

The exam surprisingly went off quite well. I also heard lots of stories about what others had done. Apparently one of my friends went to sleep on the cold stone of the WindT !

The power saga repeated itself in minor 2 and possibly the majors too. In case you are wondering what the scene is today -- we have generator backup in the hostels now. Of course, this doesnt mean that there are no power cuts before the exams!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Nothing is permanent but change!

Its not me but the ancient Greek philospher Heraclitus who first said 2500 years ago. Somewhere deep down inside us, we dont want to change. Change kicks us out of our cosy, comfortable existence that we have got used to and makes us start all over again.

It was the morning of 11th April 1988. I was small boy (most probably a crying small boy) was begging my father not to take me to school. School was a big red building, far away from home. The people were all new and scary. Hell ! Everybody even spoke in English, something which was yet again NEW. The first few days (weeks ? months ?) were pure hell. I didnt have any idea what was going on, I just knew that I had to go to someplace in the morning and would be back home in the afternoon. I didnt know ANYONE in that damned place. Speaking in Hindi was discouraged which was extremely unsettling.

Gradually things changed (yeah that word is going to crop up many times) -- for the better. I got friendly with one or two other people. Its nice to know that I am in touch with one of them even today. A senior at school was my neighbour and we were really good friends for the next 10 years. Newer friends were made, old friendships were forgotten. Going to the next class was a ritual that was followed in an uninteruppted manner for the next 10 years. The 10th boards were a minor hiccup in the scheme of things. But mostly they were a gentle kick, the kind I talked about earlier, to serve as a reminder for the future.

Having followed a simple process of elimination in all academic choices, I decided to take Science and with it came the accompanying baggage of preparing for JEE. Lots of classmates were going to various coaching classes and a lot of discussion in school revolved around various things that happened there. Life was going along happily, till another kick landed me at a coaching class too. Again, I was the loner -- my batch was the weekend one. There were no friends from school who had classes at the same time or even the same place as me. Once again, meeting new people, who as our chemistry teacher said were our dusman.

To cut a long story short, 6th May 2001 was the D Day (please note --- exactly 5 years ago). The day 20000 people fought it out in a day long battle. The upshot of this battle was that yours truly again landed up at a strange place devoid of any friendly faces. Once again, the slow tortuous process of meeting new people and adjusting to new places. The Healthy Interaction of course didnt help much :P.

Anyways, life again settled into its own rhythm and the strange morphed into the familiar. Life consisted of 4 month long semesters with vacations at the end. The semesters themselves consisted of various activities, only some of which had to do with academics. But the change monster struck again with a vengeance. Just as I thought that things couldnt go wrong 4 years were up. Some of my closest friends passed out and went to different corners of the world. I wondered how us dullas were going to pass the final year. Things werent so bad as I imagined. Alot of people were posted around Delhi and many turned up every weekend, leaving us confused if they had left at all. And somehow, this last year has almost passed too.

Surely but slowly, the biggest kick was coming my way. The transformation from student life to corporate life. The care free life of a student, with its time bound promotions and big vacations, the freedom to bunk classes whenever you want, the long nights spent on pointless discussions -- all this is about to be taken away ( not the pointless discussions probably, but pretty much everything else).
The only difference is that this time round, I am prepared how things will change. I was too small to comprehend the school change. Change after school was filled with uncertainities. But atleast I have some idea of where I am going to go after IIT so this change is not so random. The same old process will be started again.

Which brings us back to the biggest change --- leaving my home of than 20 years, the city that I have grown used for a new place with different climate, culture and language. The extremes of Delhi's climate will be missed as will jerky rides in buses, no respect for traffic rules etc etc. But thats a different story altogether, which will be penned probably in 2-3 months.

Practice makes a man perfect but probably one is never perfectly equiped to handle change. Tackling change has taught me one thing - resistance is futile. Sure some things are permanent but they are not particulary nice (depending on ur POV). As Benjamin Franklin once said - "Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Food for thought ? ;)