Wednesday, March 08, 2006

G1 – The Story of Life

Confused by the title (the credit for it goes to jhumki) ? Even I am. Although we hadn’t really understood the rationale, we had liked it when it was used for khakee’s birthday invite. So let the story begin.

G1

It is what we, the members of Group 1 of Section D, call ourselves. It comprises of khakee, khetana, lizzy, moti, raju and me.

Genesis

The credit for forming this group goes largely to the PGP office, which put khetana, raju, moti and me in the same group in the first term. Khakee joined us in the second term, and lizzy in the third. The process of inclusion, and the deliberations that led to these decisions, are still a secret within the group, so let me not dwell upon that further. :)

The group bonding

Among all the groups of the section, it was G1 that spent most time together. Other groups generally met, worked and then dispersed. But we seemed to spend hours doing the work which we could have finished in a much lesser time. I don’t think anybody really minded this, notwithstanding the regular resolves to cut down on the time-pass. We spent a huge amount of time together, and so the friendships strengthened. Moti took the lead in spreading our notion of bonding in the section.

Acads

It is the focus area of the group and the source of most of the friction between me and the rest of the members. Khakee, khetana and moti are all tremendously serious about academics. Even I am, but my style of studying differs significantly from the others. Raju is a quiet guy by nature, and lizzy, being a new entrant, is slightly submissive still (I can’t believe that I am saying this about hunterwaali). So most group decisions are taken by a 3-1 majority and I frequently end up on the losing side. L

But this does make sure that the group is somewhat prepared for all the classes, which results in our exceptional eagerness to make presentations in as many classes as we can.

Khetana

He is everything to the group. The most hard working and trustworthy person I have ever come across. Just his presence takes away the academic tension from the rest of us. Ever smiling, it is he who does most of the work for the group. But ever since he joined the consult club, he is behaving somewhat like a consultant, giving ideas and forcing the others to work. :p

The rest of us bug him a lot … and he bears it all. But there’s a limit to everything right. He once told me, standing near the edge of the corridor in front of the classrooms, “Mera mann kar raha hai ki tujhe yahan se dhakka deke neeche phenk doo”. I must have pushed him a bit too far. Thankfully he didn’t act upon his words.

All of us trust him a lot. Most of the personal secrets of the group members are first told to him. The rest come to know much later, if at all. He probably knows most about many of us.

Tension

On the surface everything looks fine in the group, and at a group level it is. But at a personal level problems do crop up. A number of us are introvert in nature, so the problems remain out of the ambit of our group discussions, but the tensions do simmer ... until some incident forces something out and allows for a compromise.

The tit-bits

G1 has its own version of CLT. We call it the Constant Laughter Theory. The implications are that whenever moti cracks one of his pathetic pj’s and no-one laughs, he compensates by laughing at his own joke.

The End

The first year ends in four weeks, and with it the life of G1. Will we remain a group after that ? Unlikely I would think. The only thing that I find lacking in G1 is its lack of social life (I envy Group 5 regarding this). All our interactions are somewhat dependant on academic requirements. With the glue of academics removed, it will be difficult for us to stick together. Add to that the fact that one of us is in placecom, one will be on exchange, one is a workaholic … the story probably ends here.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

An analysis of online friendships

Internet has changed the way of life of many people ... atleast of those with access to the free high speed internet facilities at IIT's or IIM's.
Most of us do have chat friends ... but for me and my wing mates at IIT, the relationship with them were at a very nascent stage until we got net access in our rooms in September 2004. After that we made full use of the free time available to a 4th year IITian to spend more time with the "virtual" friends. This article draws from our experiences.
Many issues do crop up. Firstly one must check whether the person on the other side is actually the person he/she claims to be. Failure to do this can lead to rather embarassing consequences. I mean that when you tell a girl to meet you to watch a film wearing a pink coloured dress, and you go and find out that it was a prank played on you by your friends ... it can really hurt your ego. :p
Now comes the case when we are reasonably sure of the authenticity of the other party (why does this line remind me of MANAC ? ) . Now there seems to be two categories of people.

1. They distinguish between real and online friends. They treat online friends as aquantainces to pass their time with and consciously keep their real friends at a higher pedestal.

2. These people do not make such a distinction. They seem to believe that the essence of friendship is effective communication, heart to heart. Meeting face to face is not a prerequisite for that.

I feel compatibility issues crop up between people belonging to different categories. The people of category 1 take a longer time to trust the others. You join college and meet your hostel mates for the first time and you are ready to tell them your cell number but you are hesitant to tell someone with whom you have talked for hours. This can potentially create a bit of resentment within the other person. These two people do find it a little difficult to relate.
Lack of physical interaction can create other problems. Suppose you said something to a "real" friend. If that person does not respond, you can physically confront him/her. But if you find that your online buddy is not responding to mails or sms', you become hesitant to press further. You are never really sure whether the person belongs to category 1 or 2. You can seldom know with any degree of certainty what that person thinks of you, beyond what you are told by the person himself. So you hesitate in exercising your rights as a friend. People err on the side of caution.
So ... these are few of the problems. What are the solutions ? No idea.

Note 1 : Real and virtual friends are used to refer to non-online and online friends and they do not, in any way, comment on the intensity and quality of the relationship.
Note 2 : Two classes of Individual Dynamics and i am analysing friendships. Wow !! :p

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I wonder

The counter of my blog has recently crossed the 1000 mark ... with the last 400 odd hits coming in the last 10 days. I wonder who has the time and inclination to view all the crap that i write. :p

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A birthday party at IIM Ahmedabad

All of us who have studied science in class 10 know that water flows out through an aperture at the side of the container with a much greater force if the size of the aperture is small.
Why am i saying all this ?
The life at IIM Ahmedabad is extremely tough and all of us are perenially under a great deal of stress. So whenever a small opportunity to enjoy ourselves presents itself before us, we enjoy with an intensity comparable to madness. Anybody watching a birthday celebration here would feel as if he has arrived at a lunatic asylum.
I was at the receiving end of the sweet and the barbaric birthday rituals this morning. My dorm mates were exceptionally enthusiastic about celebrating the first birthday of the season, although they were being a month too late.
The process started with the dorm birthday manager booking the 0030 slot and posting the birthday invite in DBABBLE, the institute's online notice board. This is done by the evening so that everybody gets to know.
Now lets fast forward to the time of action. There are some common customs and some dorm specific ones ... and D10 has some cruel ones.
There were a lot of people. It all started with the customary bumps ... but soon the crowd moved onto some more innovative things. Bumps dene ke baad they picked me up the other way ... i was facing down ... and started beating with chappals. Trust me ... those innocuous footwears really hurt. :((
Then my friendly dorm mates decided to make a plane out of me. I am lifted up by 4 people and they run at full speed carrying me ... and stop inches away from the brick walls. Had Puneet braked even a millisecond later, my head would have smashed against the wall. This is done a number of times ... a couple of rounds of the entire floor. In between all these, the beatings continue.
One thing i have to acknowledge is the tenacity of these people. How could they carry ME for so long ? I have never been in the air for so long except in a real plane. :P
But wait ... its not over yet.
By this time somebody has lighted the solitary candle on the cake ... i guess it was a vanilla flavoured one. They carry me to about 3 feet from the candle ... and expect me to blow it out, with one of my dorm mates protecting the flame. Obviously i am unsuccessful. So they carry me a few inches closer. After a number of attempts, finally i succeed ... and i finally LAND.
Now its time to cut the cake. This tradition is common to all the dorms of IIMA. The birthday boy or girl can call any member of the opposite sex as the Guest of Honour. I had invited Medha. So after i had cut two reasonably big pieces, she took them, one in each hand, and smeared them all over my face and hair. Moreover, she is instructed to wipe her hands clean on my shirt. This i guess is the best part of the night. ;)
Now its time for the public to leave (after they have eaten the cake of course). I wash my face and hair and change. Now we are ready for the private dorm ceremony. I cut a second cake, which Creaky, the dorm rep, smears on my cheek. Now we can actually eat and drink something. After this the small party starts with people singing and dancing.
Its quite late now ... and its time to wind up the party. The last item on the agenda is what is known in IIMA parlance as Top 5. But i am not describing it ... let some things stay within the campus. :P

P.S: Its been 18 hours ... but my whole body is still aching. :(((

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Musings of a departing senior

Note: The contents of this post is based on experience gathered in IIT Madras, but may be applicable to other IIT's also.

Author - Tirthankar Dubey
Arrived - August 31, 2001
Departed - May 24, 2005

Dear junior,
I have been through a roller coaster ride in IIT during these last four years. It has been a wonderful experience, and i have done well. Looking back, i can identify a number of mistakes that i made, which i regret.
When an 18 year old freshie clears JEE ... he is overjoyed. During the two years of preparations, he has been taught that clearing JEE is the be all and end all of life. Many harbour this mistaken notion that getting into IIT was the answer to all of life's worries and one needn't work hard any more. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Academics is important ... if someone says otherwise, he is fooling you. You may be a ten gold medal winner at inter-IIT or a stud in extra-curriculars ... but in the end, its your cgpa that counts the most. The universities care more for the work you do as part of NSS than your quizzing skills and the IIM's ask more questions on acads, politics and economics than on the way you organized your cul fest. I am not saying that you should mug all the time and aim for the elusive 10 every sem. You find time for everything ... but not at the cost of your acads. You needn't be a hard worker ... being a smart worker is more than enough. Also ... start studying from the first sem itself. It is very very difficult to recover once you have fallen behind in class. My class rank was 20 after sem 1. It took me a further two and a half years to break into the top 10.
Most IITians are forced to choose between three career options.
1. Further studies in an US university
2. Management studies
3. Job
People are almost always confused regarding their choice. Very few really keep JOB as their first preference. Most try to do one of the first two and keep a job as backup. Good enough. But some attempt all the three. One must realize that both CAT and APP are very very time consuming affairs. Very very few people can do both well simultaneously. Usually people who try this approach end up screwing up both. So try not to board both the boats at the same time.
However ... there is an exception. If APPING is your first preference ... and you are doing well in mock CATs, then you can try both. You still have to spend time on your APP work ... sop, recos etc ... but the time spent on your CAT preparation may be substantially reduced simply because you don't need it. However if CAT is your first option ... don't try this. The potential gains are not worth the risk.
It is very very helpful if you get a job early. The psychological benefits of an early placement cannot be over-emphasized. It leaves you free to pursue your major career goals ... you are reassured that you have something solid to fall back on. I got placed on July 18 ... one of the earliest in the insti ... and it really helped me to concentrate on my CAT preparation.If you are not placed quickly enough, it can really hamper your CAT or APP work.
Well ... that's all for now. Enough gyan for a single day.
Ted

Monday, May 23, 2005

Changes in IIT Madras

I am leaving IIT Madras tomorrow. I had my viva last week and so i have been jobless for the last five days. During this time, as i have looked around IIT, and also thought of the time when i first came here almost four years back, i realize that the institution and the campus have gone through a number of changes, some very positive ones and some rather negative ones. Lets list them out.

Positive Changes

1.
The hostels. They were renovated during my third year. We now have tiled floors, an wooden cupboard and newly painted walls. The rooms look much much better than those of IIM Bangalore.

2. The bathrooms were renovated just before we arrived.

3. This is probably the most profound change ... internet access in the rooms. The connections had been set up during the third sem, but we got net access only during our seventh sem.

4. Academic changes. Dual degree students can change their branch.

5. The CS Department has a new building ... and it looks great.

6. The hostel administration has a new office building.

7. There will be no more floods in Mandak.

8. Hostels have air conditioned computer rooms.

9. We don't have a dhobi in the hostel any more ... rather there is a centralized laundry service.

10. The Students Facility Centre has changed. Gurunath has a much better ambience now. The Moon Lab has been replaced by the Archies gift shop and there is an extra phone booth.

11. There are xerox shops at Jamuna and Sarayu also.

12. A new coffee shop in between Sarayu and Sharavati.

13. Reverse Osmosis plants that supply clean drinking water to the hostel zone.

14. The water tower constructed with funds provided by the 1974 batch alumni.

15. An extra floor in Godavari, Jamuna and Ganga.

16. The cell phone towers within the campus.

17. The new look library building ... though i never used it.

18. A common Mega Mess for Sarayu and Sharavati. So male freshies now have the opportunity of being ragged by girls. ;)

19. A new seven storey boys hostel is being built.

Negative changes

1.
Girls are not allowed to the boys' rooms any more.

2. Velachery gate has been closed.

3. A new Mega Mess is being built for the boys' hostel. The hostel messes will be closed and students will have to travel a long way to eat.

4. No more powered vehicles in campus. The rule is being strictly followed.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Heat

Its May 13 ... 7 years since India's last nuclear tests.
I have never stayed in chennai this long into the summer ... and i realize how good those earlier decisions were.
The temperture, as well as the humidity, is soaring. I feel restless all the time. The heat is soaking up all the energy i have. I don't feel like doing anything.
I don't feel like eating, going to movies, listening to music ... or even orkutting. :((
On top of that the water cooler in the hostel has cupped. The coolers in the wings had been removed last week itself, soon after the end of the semester, for security reasons.
So we can't even get cold water anywhere in the hostel now.
I don't know how will i survive these last 12 days here. :((

Depression

Read some depressing and philosophical posts today ... notably this, this, this and this.
These and an unrelated event that took place in my hostel last night inspired me to write this.

This is he last semester that i spent in IIT ... and as every IITian knows, the last sem has the least workload. So i have found a lot of time to just lie down on my bed, stare at the ceiling and think. What were the thoughts that went through my mind during those hours ? Now when i look back, i can't remember feeling very happy about anything.
Although i am speaking only for myself, i take the liberty to say that quiet a few of my friends feel the same.
I can't remember when was the last time i felt really happy and elated, and the feeling lasted.
For example ... consider the case of my IIMA admit. It was something that i had worked very hard to achieve ... it was a dream that i had nurtured within myself for a very long time. I had imagined that moment of triumph. As expected, i was happy ... but that heady feeling lasted for only about a couple of days. Soon my mind went back to thinking about stupid things.
Is there any answer to why this happens ?
Possibly a deep feeling of insecurity regarding an uncertain future ... soon we will stepping into the real world ... away from the security that we have been used to all our lives. Maybe a subconscious feeling that these days of enjoyment can never return again and that life henceforth can only be worse ... with more worries and tensions plaguing us.
This sem i have been happier than usual ... but the intensity of depression has also gone up.
I have come a long way in the last 4 years in IIT ... but as i leave, i wonder where on the way did i leave behind my erstwhile jolly nature.