Posts Tagged ‘R-Land’
Sigh. As much as I hate to admit, Dela was right. Gone are the days when upon hearing names like Rajnikanth, Mani Ratnam or even Sadagoppan Ramesh for that matter, my ears would shoot up hoping to hear bits of conversation in a language that I could finally understand. The voluntary introductions to Tamil/Kannada speaking Matkas seem like April Fools’ jokes gone horribly wrong, when I look at them through the rabbithole of nostalgia.
My mutation finally culminated yesterday. I stood in between two gentlemen conversing in a language that I’ve heard all in my life, feigning ignorance with a face placider than R2D2. I even hummed the tune of a despicable Hindi song in case my reactions gave me away and they would start suspecting my origins. Life has come a full circle. The centrifugal force wasn’t particularly enjoyable though. May the force have mercy on my soul.
Not unlike most other bloggers who suffer from recurring bouts of nostalgia, I too begin my tale with a “Long, long ago in a state far, far away”. Okay, maybe not that long ago. My tryst with quizzing can be traced back to some dusty old classroom in R.A. Puram which seated a bunch of nerdy eight year olds (as nerdy as eight year olds could be, anyway). The aforementioned outcasts had skipped their PE/PT period and were furiously trying to recall the capital of Liechtenstein, and peering across to the neighbour’s desk to check the UN Secretary General’s spelling- yes, that weird fellow whose name sounded like Coffee Anna. It was the ill-conceived preliminary round of the Bournvita Quiz. We were battling it out for a shot at the regional round with the possibility of meeting our matinee idol, Derek O’-Is-there-anything-he-doesnt-know Brien. I never did made it to the finals although I always among those who were awarded a consolatory certificate and an ugly water bottle with a Bournvita sticker for finishing third or fourth.
Times changed, and so did quizzing. Soon it became evident to me that knowing capitals, flags, prime ministers and authors alone just wasn’t enough. I decided to keep myself apprised of the happenings around me, viz current affairs. My first shot at professional quizzing, if you could call it that, materialized when the school’s top quizzer broke his leg or contacted typhoid or something. A godsend, as far as I was concerned. Frankly, I can’t recollect much about the quiz, but my exceptionally talented seniors got us through to the finals. Twas a photo finish and in the dying moments I came up with a brilliant answer- the name of the chap who had proclaimed, “God does not play dice with men”. I had no idea what the quote meant, but we ended up third. I was the happiest 11-year old in Madras that day. Life was simple back then.
I had originally planned a verbose, sentimental piece about my quizzing exploits (or the lack of any therein), designed to bore even the most loyal of my readers. But then I
took an arrow to the knee noticed that one of my fellow quizzers had already posted his ode (read O Dei, in a mallu accent) to quizzing. Me attempting to better the Morose Mallu at a sentimental tribute would be as futile as Dravid trying to emulate Kohli’s post-century celebrations. So instead, I shall succinctly sum up my Re.1 about quizzing. The Crucified Businessman once told me that a quiz is a QM’s way of announcing, “Hey these are quite interesting. Go read up about them”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. My personal philosophy is that a question must serve to fill a void in the memory banks by connecting several seemingly arbitrary chunks of information instead of introducing new islands and more seas of darkness. While the Hallgrímskirkja can actually prove to be an engrossing read and the source of multiple quiz questions, it is just as fascinating if not more to see that Pythagoras had invented a special designer cup to prevent over-drinking. Working out answers though is slightly over-rated as the more you actually know about the answer, the easier it is to ‘work it out’.
Most people overlook the need for a good quizzing team. I would define a good team as one where the value of the team is greater than the sum of the abilities of the individual quizzers. Mercenary teams are fun, but at the end of the day, there’s a reason why Barcelona kicks Real’s a*se in football even though the latter leads the standings at present. I was never much of a solo quizzer, and hence my chances of winning were directly proportional to how well my team mates complemented me. R, unfortunately, stripped me of one such team. Without a steady team, my career in R was much like a mismatched resistor. My four years were marked by a few rare wins, sparser than a matrix with O(1) entries. I was the Aakash Chopra of quizzing. And so, my not-so-glorious professional(read: for money) quizzing career came to an equally lackadaisical end on sunday, when I failed to qualify for the General Quiz by a point or half. Surprisingly, I didn’t whine like a three year and storm out with the fury of a scorned woman but instead enjoyed watching the finals. Perhaps, because among all things in heaven and earth dreamt of in my philosophy, quizzing is the only activity where the bridesmaid gets to have as much fun as the bride. Indeed, as much as I may crib about my unaccomplishments, few things are capable of giving me the high that hit me when I plucked “Venice’s Only Gondolawoman” out of thin air using just Italy+First Female as clues. Silver linings that make my day.
I hear that quizzing cliques in the US of A are as rare as Paneer in my mess’ Sahi Paneer (that’s the spelling they use). Paraphrasing some famous man, “Of all the things that I’ll miss, I’ll miss quizzing the second most”. (I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to work out the first and the others.)
The funny thing is, I still don’t know what the capital of Liechtenstein is.
P.S: I initially wanted to name this post “The Bravery of Being out of Range” after this Roger Waters song. But my obsession for cheap puns got the better of me.
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 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.
The journey of a thousand miles invariably begins with me offering prayers to all my favourite gods, hoping that I would be blessed with a companion in the train (keywords: despo, cute chick). That Murphy invariably ends up having the last laugh is a different story altogether. As I set foot upon my beloved M-Land, that too a day before superstar’s birthday (Happy Birthday Thalaiva!), the sirs and madams of my alma mater are busy following the road oft taken determined to end up as corporate hooters. Having obtusely incremented my six month long wait by four more days, I was wondering whether the charm of “home” was totally lost on this thick skin. But then, in a truly ‘skies lighten, faces brighten’ feeling, the boyish grin returned to my face the moment I left the portals of Azad.
There is something special about the Tamilnadu Express that words cannot explain. As I stand on platform number seven, (make no mistake, the magically most powerful number and one-sixth of the answer) listening to middle aged women abusing their hubbies in chaste Madras Basha and the local tea vendors trying to explain to the hindi-uninitiated lot that the chai costs rupees six and not five, there pervades a feeling that Chennai would have been proud of. Nevertheless there are those ignominious moments when conversations with co-passengers get a little too personal, and family details start tumbling out. It is at times like these that I have regretted my inability to pose questions in the vein of “Where did you say your co-brother was working again?”, “Oh! Your third sister’s second husband is a divorcee?”. Reminds of the truck which had a “Mera Bharat Mahaan” sign placed just above another one which said “Highly Inflammable”.
I’ve always wondered as to how every moron under the sun gets his own journey with a UOR Alumni who subjects the aforementioned chap to a sermon on the glorious heritage of the institute. Indeed, these are mere euphemisms and literary devices, I surmised. Yet, when I got my own forty two seconds of fame, the experience turned out to be nothing short of disappointing. The gentleman across me, a pass-out of my own department, rather than regaling me with old wives’ tales seemed quite apologetic about the fact that he had not graduated from an institute with a tag as glorious as the one I would get my degree from. The sole consolation came in the form of an apparent affair that a revered professor indulged in, with his lady hailing from a department just opposite the computer centre.
The journey of a thousand miles ended with the train reaching the famed Chennai central two full hours behind schedule, putting an end to the clichéd saga. Offering a stark contrast to the desi-bound hero of many a tamil movie, I wasn’t greeted by the smell of fresh jasmine nor was it the scent of the morning idli that my olfactory lobes picked up. Instead it a heady smell of rotten fish and dung that pervaded the platform, perhaps reminiscent of the octant of my life that I had just bid farewell to. I had read earlier in a beautiful editorial by Dog Day Afternoon’s predecessor, a comparison of Roorkee to a story book that appeared besmirched on the surface but yet even the fine print grew on you as you moved past the introductions. Indeed, my own lovely chapter opening many new eyes and paths, left me with a bitter-sweet smile with its deplorable ending. As the process of reshuffling priorities gets underway, I once again take inspiration from a great man’s immortal words hoping that the remaining chapters of my red-bound story book have something more holistic to offer.
- From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
- A light from the shadows shall spring;
- Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
- The crownless again shall be king
There are two kinds of people – those who know binary and those who don’t. Neighbours however, belong to the third breed, those who make you ponder about the reason why the human race exists in the first place. These 42 days in Ajaad (approximation is one of the quintessential qualities of an engineer) amongst the finest postgraduates our nation has to offer has added many new dimensions to the word “neighbourly”.
As a tribute to these fine, young gentlemen (PC demands), I present ten innovative ways to shower affection on your wingmates and continue maintaining the good relations you’ve built. Guaranteed to have your neighbours squealing with delight.
(in no particular order)
1. Meet the Smokers
“Sutta na mila” is a farce, period. The swine flu prevention mask that you bought has finally found some use, albeit for something completely different; wearing it inside your room prevents asthma (Pre-Order your chocolate flavoured mask today!). The flipside is that the various cigarettes scattered around double as a good tool for brand identification/equity (thanks to which we stood second in the legendary shARE quiz).
2. Keep it “Brief”
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s just the neighborhood chuddi-maan! In the lineage of Marvel and DC’s crimebusters who wore their underwear over their pants, comes the omnipresent undie-man, who errr….chooses to wear only his underwear and roam about. Never has a single man evoked such a plethora of reactions – inspiration, disgust, amusement and (rarely) indifference. Though “Come on ra, it’s only a boys hostel” can be used to his defence, you have to take into account the opinion of two horny southies who exclaim with anguish, “I can accept the boxers but wearing V-cut chuddies all the time is ridiculous”.
3. Loved, Louder
Now, before you mistake the benign souls who play loud music on their 5.1 surround speakers, let me explain. These gentlemen only wish to provide free entertainment to the entire wing (or sometimes, the whole hostel) and what better way than Backstreet Boys and Pritam Chakraborty. Altruism knoweth no bounds.
4. What the Flush
Recent studies indicate that pressing the flush after you are done requires an average of 35.42J of energy. Blaming the folks who do not use the flush is incorrect as they are merely following the principle of conservation of energy. A wise man once said, “It is understandable if people forget to use the taps above the urinals but…………………………..” you get the picture, don’t you?
I am totally flus(h)tered.
5. Maddus are from Mars and Haddus are from Pluto
If you ever thought all those residing south of the Vindhyas were similar, think again! Apologies to my Haddu Brethren, but when you’ve grown up on Illayaraja’s and ARR’s very best and end up hearing the same in another language, it is but natural to curse the entire gult cult. During an I’m-missing-maddu-land phase of life, “Anjalu Anjaloo” is probably the last thing you want to hear. Had it not been for S.P.B’s divine baritone, I would have probably gone mad by now.
6. Election Manifrustos
“Do you mind, if I stick a ‘Vote for Ajay Mishra (that’s me)’ poster on your door”. “Hi. I am standing for mess secy. Please get me atleast 40-50 votes from your batchmates”. “Food is neither B.Tech nor M.Tech, so I am counting on you to get all B.Tech votes”. Nuff said.
One reason to welcome Azad’s banning the elixir of those who swear by, “I drink, therefore I am”. In adherence to nature’s fundamental law of “What goes in has to come out”, the Bevdaa brigade once decided to defile the bathroom after their endeavours at sea. The result being no one in the wing was able to have a bath for the next few days.
8. Moan(a) Lisa
Moaning Myrtle’s got competition. Introducing Moan(a) Lisa, based on a true story. Not so long ago, in a galaxy close to the gaon, existed a particular room which emanated all sorts of noises. Moans, Shrieks, Wails, howls, you name it, they were all there in their full acoustic glory. Legend also has it the intensity of the sounds was inversely proportional to the distance from the nearest TS. Considering it was a double room, the lesser said, the better!
9. Read my blaag
Blaaaagging it seems, is the latest fad in the insti. Though not that common a grouch, “go read my latest blog post and make sure you comment” has become more of a command than a request. Inspirations are plenty though, especially when your neighbour’s blog is reassuringly titled “Change”. Obama, watch out!
10. Hairy Potter and the basin of hairyness
Tolkien would have probably said, “One day the hirsute shall rule the world”. Rajinikanth opines in Thillu Mullu, “Moustache is the mirror of the heart”. Neither of these however, can justify the presence of hair in the washbasin every single time. Do we need any more reasons to introduce TM-101 (Toilet Manners) as a compulsory course.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead (especially those residing in Azad’s fifth wing) is purely co-incidental.
Posht Script: In Steven Tyler’s wise words, “All the things you do come back to you”. By this very logic, one can expect the aforementioned gentlemen to be blogging about a little chronophilic rat in their midst. Do keep tuning in to “Change”, ‘the unofficial pipth wing ka blog’ for further updates.
It is that familiar time of the year again, when every group family on campus worth its aloo-subzi hyperactively initiates its annual family planning ritual. It was however during a completely different and predominantly enterprising endaevour that I found myself back in Fort knox, the only difference being that I was now the hunter. The smell of fresh meat pervaded the atmosphere, being on this side of the table was sure going to be fun, such sadistic pleasures came to foreplay. *Pop (goes the weasel).. These “confident, interesting, outgoing <insert cliched term used by freshers to describe themselves>” people burst my bubble by prefixing, suffixing and affixing every possible statement by three irritating letters Sir(jee?). Being a firm believer in the philosophy that “Respect should be commanded and not demanded”, this is one thing about R that had always irked me. Yet never had reality hit me this hard; whoever said “giving is better than receiving”, sure wasn’t kidding. “I’m just 18 for christ’s sake, not any older than you, and in all probability no smarter either”, I wanted to scream out loud, but the morons’ adulation for me knew no bounds. Before I knew it, sirs were being hurled at me left, right and centre. The I-was-just-waiting-for-this paranoia of being too old soon started knocking my door.
19 years on and Senescence still remains one of the more arcane elements of life. Perhaps it is the Almighty’s own divine way of saying with panache, “Screw you… I’m the maaaan”. As I enter my last year of teenage-dom (Or have I already crossed it? The 19 completed, 20 running thingy always confuses me), the metaphorical difference between 19 and 20 has never been so apparent. I shall soon embark on the journey that from the land of the young to that of the young-at-heart, while the clock (relentlessly) ticks life away. As the all-encompassing 21.2 looms large, I seek solace in Mathematics. If there exists an average, then clearly the set must contain ATLEAST one element below the average and I consider myself to be the chosen one.
One fine day when I’m 63 (which FYI is 42+21), I shall be regaling my grandkids with glorious tales surrounding mah heroism – my romantic escapades, innumerable concubines, jostles with the templar knights, revelling in my imagination. And then my second childhood shall set in.
But it’s not the bard’s magical words which ring in my mind but a classy one-liner from a even classier maddu song, “Jalsa” (Do download it. It’s worth the effort, I promise you).
Irukara varikum anubavikka ilamayae yethukko da
(Learn to accept youth till it lasts)
Happy Birthday, bah, a poor excuse to pick a man’s pocket every year.
P.S: *bows to Freddie. You are a legend.
P.P.S: Happy Birthday rapu-ra!
“A Maddu Related to time – 5 Weeks ago” croons the blogroll of a certain Mr.B. Speaking of Blogrolls, my own begs to be updated. The brightly lit population of R-land having to taken to blogging as the last resort to counter velagiri, it is high time I updated my blogroll with the newest bunch of illustrious names. It was just the other day that the Mallu Marauder with his usual verbose pragmatism posed the question, “you have been a rather sedate blogger these vacations?”… more a double edged sword than a question.
The answer, I borrow from the Platonist, “It’s not time but me”.. And yet this summer has been an eye-opener of sorts. In all probability the most packed and productive summer of my whole eighteen years of existence. The realization of a certain Ex-Chairman’s, “The closer you get to Maddu land the more awesome you get” has fully dawned upon me (Awesome being a very subjective term of course). Very vividly, I recall the last few days spent at R-Land, the packing of books and the promise I made to myself, “Enough of ghissing. It’s time I started participating” with the most sincere of intentions. But now, the label of “ghissu”, nor the jeers of my compatriots matter nought, I know that my tryst with graph theory, parameterized complexity and the connected vertex cover and in general algorithms is far from over.
Inspirations come in different shapes and sizes. More often than not, it has been people. Be it Pete Sampras, Steve Jobs, innumerable family members, seniors at school and college or even teachers. This time however it is an environment that has opened my knowledge eye, to quote a tamil cliché. The summer programme has come at the right time and right place. Having rediscovered my passion for algorithms and been exposed to the fascinating world of Theoretical Comp.Science, I am left wondering whether I have found the answer to my life, the universe and everything else. Sample this:
1) The atmosphere – brilliant
2) The papers being published – mind blowing
3) The rapport between PhD Scholars and profs – a stark contrast to my own dear institute
I am contemplating, with utmost seriousness, about a career in research. Research, as I have learnt, is slow and terribly frustrating but nothing beats the sheer joy of having discovered something by yourself. However insignificant it may be, it still remains a small step for mankind and giant leap for yourself.
As awesome as Maddu Land is, R-land still commands a class of its own. “Results not yet finalized da”, the god of fun announced giving room to more frustration. One wonders whether we are expected to do a Pinky before finding out our true destination.
Fate hangs in the balance, but the road ahead is clear. All is well… for now.