All your base are belong to us

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Matrix

with 6 comments

If there is one human activity that’s older than human existence itself, it is (the art of) cribbing. Our ancestors, the venerable Amoebae vented out their frustration by dividing into two.  “Grunt, Grunt Gruuunnnnttt” in Neanderthal speak probably translates to “Why is this meat so tasteless?” or  “I burnt my hand trying to start a fire” or “This cave sucks. It doesn’t even have wifi”. Okay, maybe not the last one. Millenniums later, in a parallel universe, Rene Descartes is rumoured to have said, “I crib, therefore I am”. And why else would a baby’s first home be a crib if not to prepare him for a lifetime filled with the same.

A recent survey[1] established that cribbing is the third most popular activity in IITR after,
1) Bugging seniors for chapos
2) A certain activity that takes place in the dark inside hostel rooms under sheets. (I was talking about sleeping, you sick pervert)
(Ghissing finished 42nd).
It is no secret that finding the words ‘satisfied’, ‘Roorkee’ and ‘IITian’ in the same sentence is as common as finding Salman Khan with a shirt on. But I digress from Salman Khan’s attire, as alluring as the topic may be.

One of our favourite whineyards is the absence of good electives. Every semester before the endsems, IMG (now Campus Skunk) opens its floodgates exposing the naive R-ites to hitherto unheard of terms like Cosmetology, Snorkelling and Far side Entomology. The experienced lot are forced to disown trivialities like interest and learning in favour of easy proxies, no backs and the absence of an 8AM class. The choices offered on IMG’s hallowed portals are much like the choices one has during elections:

1) The Rahul Gandhi Elective: Glamorous and promising on the outside, but mostly all noise and no signal.
2) Shashi Tharoor Elective: Taken by the charismatic teacher who puts up assignments on facebook and tweets students about cancellation of class, but in general a pointless course.
3) Mayawati Elective: Shh… I hear this is going to the best elective in 2012.
4) Suresh Kalmadi Elective: The one where the professor forgets to attend class.
5) Yedyurappa Elective: The elective which promises to get over soon but stretches till the day before the exams.

I recollect an article from my first year in the moronic magazine, aptly titled “Hobson’s Choice: All roads lead to the earthquake department”. But no more! With the influx of many a young turk, the days of gerontocracy were over. The institute had final woken to the sound of the clarion. New electives with fancy names were floated by departments above the slope, and held in class rooms that were actually near Nesci. The times, they were a-changing.

One fine Saturday morning (read 1PM), I was forced to defer a meeting with Obama regarding the ceiling debt, my usual weekend escapade with Natalie Portman and the regular blog post thereby sending millions of loyal readers into depression, for profound thoughts on life, the universe and all that jazz. “Enough was enough”, I came to a conclusion. “I am in an IIT to learn, and learn I will”. So I registered for one of those baroque, hard-to-pronounce electives offered by the MIT return. Four months later I enter my first class five minutes late, having missed 3 classes the previous week. Cold walls and the icy demeanour of 20-odd enthusiastic (read ghissu/muggu) juniors greet me. The young lecturer coolly informs me that I have missed five attendances as he had to take two extra classes the previous week, and a even a single case of absenteeism hence will result in my not being able to write the exams. “Oh and by the way, we have extra field trips too. Two hours every week in a field pulling strings to understand what String theory really is”, he added with glee. Any wise man in my situation would have decided to go on and take the bull by its horns. But that wise man was not I. And so I decided to throw Douglas Adams’ favourite instrument, the towel.

2 Days, 101 signatures and a few thousand applications later, I was one of the teeming millions in an elective offered by a department dealing with disasters. “But sir”, I argued. “How can anyone not appreciate the subtleties of Fire-Extinguising 101′. An argument that he could never refute thanks to generations of farzi* seniors who had populated the course and proven beyond doubt that Fire extinguishing was indeed every engineer’s ultimate fantasy.

My close encounters of the fourth kind had me thinking (mostly during class hours when I couldn’t be bothered to listen). Given that most of us have as much an idea about our future as Arnab Goswami has about shutting up, not to mention the delusions we seem to be harbouring, do we even need a choice? After all, isn’t the illusion of choice yet another exercise in futility till we realise that we don’t really have one. China, which forcibly united its provinces under one language and culture seems to be thriving enough to buy Greece whereas democratic India is floundering under the banner of disunity in perversity. Maybe we are better off with the blue pill, and without questioning whether or not it is air that we breathe. May be we are better off with mindless action and Karan Johar instead of “beautifully scripted journeys of catharsis”. Maybe Harbhajan Singh has made it large.

Maybe, maybe Hobson’s choice is better than Sophie’s after all.

*farzi – Having lost all interest in any form of technical education and can currently be found spewing out management gibberish

1. “Bakar and Cribbing: 2 sides of the same coin”, Thashi Saroor, Kamal R. Khan and Satan Bhagat.


Written by Chronoz

August 14, 2011 at 11:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

6 Responses

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  1. Ah, this cribbing is never cathartic but happens endlessly. Such thoughtful parallels you draw!
    A good read, profound albeit funny.

  2. 1. Your references need to be consistent. Choose, will it be last name first or not?
    2. You do not digress from Salman Khan’s attire, you digress from the topic at hand to that.
    3. Close encounters of the fourth kind indicate that you were a victim of alien abduction. Care to give an interview to India TV on that?
    4. I always thought that Welding-101 was every engineers dream. After all, that means you can get to set things on fire.

    Also, it might be good to quote your namesake here: “Apparently, whine also ages well.”


    August 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm

  3. Really enjoyed reading a blog-post after very long… As for ‘All roads lead…’, was that done in my room? I seem to remember it quite well. Or was it with Puh-nav?

    As for the electives or the lack of even half-decent ones, the system won’t change until that day when people put their foot down and decide that everyone wants to gain something from a course and not just manage wonderful grades. As for me, I got a C+ in Watershed Management (or something like that) and managed neither.

    The probability of that day will be here soon is the same as the world ending in 2012. So, let’s crib until that day. (Also, Rapu’s point number 2)


    September 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

  4. @Nisha: Thanks! I’m quite sure a lot of people wouldn’t consider this either profound or funny.

    @Kondrews: The post was in our first year man. So, it’s probably one of you guys.
    Still find it hard to believe you got a C+ in an elective. Considering you are the toast of the HS dept and even the RSes flirt with you, one would assume the same applies to the other depts as well.


    September 5, 2011 at 7:02 am

  5. […] ClayTodd Albert: Teacher, researcher, photographer, developer, tech guru, and public speaker.ChronoTronTech Leader […]

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