Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A new and completely unanticipated nuisance has turned the last month a real hell for me. It has also opened my eyes, as, pitiful and kind of sympathetic that I have so long been, seeing cowardice and timidity of people around, a harsh realization has occured in me that I myself is no less timid or unnecessarily cautious than several of them. It's only when the knife strikes you that you get to know it's sharpness.

It all started in junior-senior cricket match at IITK. I was in my room fast asleep when some friend called me up making me rush to the ground. On that fateful match I got struck in my right eye. It was a pretty severe blow. The pain sustained for quite some day. On the 4th day after the match, when I was about to go to bed, I saw a very bright spark on the outer periphery of my field of vision. I looked around for some source of light and got extremely alarmed not finding any. Nevertheless I convinced myself that it might have been some illusion and felt asleep only to see a series of flashes in a row after getting up the next day morning. I was taken completely by panic but I could only wait as the institute opthalmologist sits in the evening. I remember how a frightened, alarmed and traumatised me waited till evening. In the evening I rushed to the clinic. She examined my eye, and prescribed medicines and eye drops. Upon inquiring about the cause she told "ho sakta hai chot ki vaje se tumhara vitreous humour hil gaya haai". samjho!!

It didn't stop. People suggested me to consult a good doctor in town rather than putting this much faith on campus opthalmologist. I visited Dr. jain. he assured me saying that I don't have any retinal damage and precribed some medicine, but he also told that these flashes won't just go off magically. I was much relieved. After two weeks it suddenly occured in me that I'm not seeing much difference in condition of my eye. I visited him after another week only to be thoroughly re-examined and reassured.

After that I came across the symptoms of retinal detachment in internet, and the fact that they are significant threat to one's eye. Immediately anxiety and fright grasped me as to whether mine matches with those symptoms. I see those flashes still, in not many less numbers and live with the fright of it's leading to something more serious so much so that my usual course of the day is vastly hampered. I'm fully aware of the fact my anxieties and thoughts are possibly completely orthogonal to what the actual scenario is, still I have to come down to the department everyday after dinner in the hope of living some moments free of these strange thoughts amidst other people. Anxiety is devouring me despite my being well aware of the fact that anxiety can only weaken me internally and aggravate my psychological stand. I worry knowing very well that worries don't help and I only lose out things if I worry.

Hope this experience teaches me to be a little more rational so that I don't ultimately die out of the fear of dying.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Life passes by..

Though it's hardly a life :( . No variation, no change. Routine and monotonous!!!

It's only a day back that I'm back from home. A thoroughly irritating spell of 15 days that I spent there has led me decide not to ever go for a leave for this "long" a period. Most of my UG college-mates were out of town. So I used to spend the entire day at home, all alone, browsing through TV channels and turning pages of newspapers or conference papers :D :D that I carried along as my trip was followed by a thrash from my advisor (or in his word, exhortation :| ) on account of my being too much laid back after the end-semester exams. Goddamn lazy as I am, I'm fortunate to be made to work by occasional thrashes :) . Anyway, added to that was the torturous humid summer ( now I find the dry North Indian summer much more tolerable). In short, I'm happy to be back here.

That doesn't mean I spend quality time out here. My one year's stay at IIT Kanpur has been far from happening. I attribute the reason partly to the environment I'm currently in and mostly to myself.

A few days ago I was asked a strange question which I did not have any concrete answer to . When I'm not doing anything specific what do I generally think? What goes on in my mind ( of course other than some intriguing graph theory problem which I can think over any time I'm free) when I'm sitting idly in a bus or cycling down the campus road? In IIT, one cannot survive without a bicycle as hostels, departments, main gate, campus market all are kilometres away from one another :|

The friend who asked me the question actually wanted to know how much time I spend on planning my future, with the intention of drawing a comparison between himself and somebody else. Future includes everything. Future life. That may include education, profession, wedding, some interesting way to get at some queer and maybe personal dream(if there is any) I cherish. But he asked a horribly wrong person. Even "I take life as it comes" would be an understatement.

I have long left planning for future since the day the realization occured in me that I'm too lethargic to achieve fulfilment of any long term plan. I really feel amused to think that future doesn't bother me at all :D :D

I once used to learn riding motorcycle. The bike was one of my friend's. Wise as he is, he never used to let me ride on my own. He used to sit on the back seat(well aware of the danger he is running himself in) continuously giving me directions: change gear, blow horn, show indicator, press brake!!!... leaving me completely confused with so many controls at my hands and feet :|
But I was as delighted as ever. It has happened several times that I rode in moderate-high speed over a series of bumpers which completely escaped my notice, or what is even more alarming, I took turns in crossings without blowing horn or even giving careful notice at the vehicles around. I was busy, and completely perplexed, with my controls. So this are extreme examples of my complete disregard for future. Here future means very near future, maybe a few seconds ahead, say a speeding lorry only few yards away from me. So thoughts of future play no role in my it near future or distant future. I leave it to the reader to imagine how it feels to take a bike-ride when the handles are at my hands. Nevertheless I got used to screams and scary warnings from the back seat :|

I would like to add here that I'm not as bad at riding bicycle. I can confidently assure anybody that unless he is awfully unfortunate he can safely take a ride on my career. I believe that the reason is lesser number of controls. My cycle which I bought second(or third or more) hand doesn't even have one of the brakes!!! The lesser the controls, the better :D . But the trouble is that the other brake doesn't grip well. I however have mastered the art of bringing my cycle to abrupt rest. The trick is to press the lone brake as hard as you can and put down your feet. The impact between your shoes and ground may tear off the sole...but the cobbler is just round the corner :) In case you happen to be bare-footed the health center is not too far off. One doesn't always get to exploit the free health services offered by the institute.

So I just live the present. I believe to make the present a bit interesting being this much apathetic towards future doesn't do. Currently I can improve my life a bit by taking a little more interest in the academic work I'm doing and to bring regularity in swimming which I started since the beginning of this month. I don't have any better idea as to what can immediately be done to live a little better life. The four years of my BE had been glorious and the best period of my life so far. The present life is way more mundane as compared to that life. Right now I don't have any strong emotional thrust which may jolly well make a person live only for it. I'm confident I won't let any oppurtunity go by if anything of that sort comes about...but I really don't dare to even desire for something like that as that may hugely aggravate the present state instead of adding spice and salt and making it "tastier" :|

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Sir, the program is not compiling. But everything is perfect you see. There must be something wrong with the compiler. What do I do?". A very confident first year undergraduate student asked me during my lab duty. It is a part of my teaching assistantship. I hate being called "sir"!!!!

JAVA is a language I know very little!! Still it has not been that much of a problem to be a lab TA of a first course on JAVA programming but the weekly duty of 3 hours used to be quite tiresome.

The guy was not ready to accept that it is highly unlikely that anything is wrong with the extensibly tried, tested and used commercial compiler inbuilt in LINUX. It was shortly discovered that a stray semi-colon was causing all the trouble.

I had been given a different job initially. I was supposed to help the instructor in designing assignment problems. This is an institute level course and is compulsory for all UG freshers of IIT Kanpur.

The instructor is a young professor who seems to be extremely sincere in teaching the new students the basics of programming. Unfortunately I could not do justice to the job I was initially assigned. I was subsequently moved to the lab. Though sir told me " I want you to be in the lab as some lab TAs are expressing their interests in participating in problem designing..I want to give them a chance"...I strongly believe the main cause was my unsatisfactory performance. A very decent sober man that he is, prof. Baswana did not tell me anything on my face. Anyway, I liked my later job much much more!!

In course of my few months' stay at IIT, I have found the institute remarkably different from the university I graduated from. One very pleasing observation has been that, most of the teachers seem to be least bothered about CPI/marks/grades, etc. Unlike JU most of them really have the mind to teach. so I found the academic culture very different. naturally B.Tech final year and dual degree students are as expected much more competent than most of us. Bright chaps that they are( the cutoff for admission in our department is typically an all India rank better than 100 in IITJEE), they are groomed into complete enginners in 4 years.

Also I found all the staffs of IIT, taken from the bhaiyas serving food in mess to the people in different administrative offices, very much dedicated to their jobs. My experience has so far been very different and very in JU I was used to receiving very hostile kind of response from staffs most of the times. A few days back the sweeper of our wing of the hostel( The 4th hall of residence!! I have been told by seniors that this hostel of IIT Kanpur is of great historical importance!!) on his own offered me to carry out an "intensive clean-up operation" in my room( it became very much necessary although..) , something really hard to imagine in any other place.

Despite many fond attributes of this place, the first semester has been very very painful for me. I doubt whether anybody can even imagine a more burdened course structure than ours!!

Dr. Sanjeev Saxena was the instructor of the advanced data structures and algorithms course. The course mostly contained data structures which have been designed keeping amortization in mind. We have been taught Fibonacci heaps, Splay trees, Union Find data structures. I found these things highly involved, extremely complicated, and the purpose of so much of complications was not very readily comprehensible(at least to me). So it was somewhat discouraging. Also given the volume of topics the instructor ran through, we were not in a position to put in a lot of effort in understanding these things in reasonable details, although we had no shortage of reading materials including research papers introducing these concepts. So I ended up having a partial and very sketchy knowledge on these things.

Things were on similar notes in other courses also. cs618 was a graduate course on searching and indexing techniques in databases that I registered for. But had I known how the course would be like, I wouldn't have thought of registering!!! I doubt whether the teacher at all left out any indexing data structure discovered till date!! Most of them being trees of very peculiar and annoying names: k-d-b tree, R-tree, R* tree, R+ tree, M tree, X tree to name a few. Adding to that were extremely heavy implementation assignments and a course project. I didn't think I would complete the course and would get a decent enough grade at the end. But I found the course study a lot of things, all in a superficial outlinish manner. But there might be something wrong with me, as there is a good interest in databases in IITK CSE and there are reasons to believe that prof. Anab Bhattacharya(instructor of cs618) has to some extent served to arouse that interest. Prof. Bhattacharya is a graduate from JU( after that a phd from University of California at Santa Barbara...but why the hell did he return!! he could have stayed there!!) but I hope that all JU BE's are not as disgusting!

I got a zero in second mid semester examination in Quantum Computation. Though quite a few students, including some btech 4th year students, also got zero..yet getting a zero is not a matter to take pride in! I took up this course with a lot of hope(the name sounded interesting), but the course has let me down. The instructor Dr. Piyush Kurur speaks some hindi despite being a (probably) Keralite( Though my hindi is poor, it's supposedly better than the Hyderabadi hindi that the Andhra guys out here speak. But one Tamil batchmate of mine seems to be completely ignorant of Hindi. Same seems to the case with a Keralite though his btech is from NIT Calicat, a well-known national technical college. Now I am trying to invent a thumb rule for the highly confusing gender thing!!). He is also a fresh phd from Institute of Mathematical sciences, Chennai. He told me all is required for the course is some elementary linear algebra and some mathematical maturity. But this seemingly humble pre-requisite seemed to pose a very alarming barrier(Some examples can make it clearer: "Today I am going to talk about the basic differences between classical and quantum information theory" I did not take any course on information theory in my BE..he didnt even care to ask. Or "Don't you know Chinese Remainder Theorem?I suppose it has been covered in your course on discrete mathematics. I myself taught the could I have left it out?" forgetting completely that among his students are some who did not graduate from this institute). Anybody would pity me knowing that I failed to understand most of the questions in the mid semester examination, not to speak of answering them! Though I worked hard in last month, did reasonably in end sem exams, and is hoping to get a B if not an A, I myself know I have gained almost nothing from the course.

Datastreaming algorithm is a course I might say I did more or less well in. Dr Sumit Ganguly taught the course. I liked indroduced a new model of computation, it's purposes, difficulties and objectives. It also gave me a feel of randomized algortihms, what it means to say that an algorithm has probabilistic performance guarantees. I also saw some really nice proofs of lower bounds of space complexities of some problems based on excellent information theoretic arguments or reduction from a known hard problem. Also we learnt some new and really delightful methods for solving probability problems and computing expectations of random variables but however one can say one is supposed to learn these in a first course on probability theory. But I could'nt put in much effort due to loads imposed by other courses. Nevertheless, it might not be a lie to say that I have gained something from this course.

So this, in short, is how my start off in the new place has been like. I am looking forward to go home in the winter holidays in a few days!! Tralalalalala!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's real hell out here!!!!!

Taking to writing after a long break...
Anybody not experiencing it can hardly imagine the pestering pressure that we are being kept under at IITK..but it's very disheartening that the faculties deliberately suppressed this point when raised in the faculty meeting..
I came here with a lot of hope to enjoy a good academic environment, but I must say that the curriculum is so loaded that my 2 month's stay over here has been far from's rather bitter..

Big implementation assignments always frighten me(I understand it's not a matter to take pride in)..but the tight deadlines and a multitude of assignments is exhausting me and,I'm afraid, I might shortly start to abhor studying.Many guys are of the opinion that there is a point in keeping you under this end up learning something.Even if that is true,the process of learning is extremely painful..

I still remember the mental burden that I had in the week preceding the first mid semeter examination.The examination went awefully bad but as the result came out, I found that my relative score(which is what matters) has not been that bad..
Worse is that academic obligations have completely taken us up.We hardly find time for playing or even going through newspapers at some length.Monotony and exhaustion have spanned our life..
Looking forward to go to Kolkata in the Pujas.This break is very much needed..

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I wish to know what others think.

Do they also think the same way I do?

What do people mean by worthy usage of money?I feel that a person is never complete if he lives only for himself. I want to know if everybody craves internally for coming to some use of the world.That's what makes our life worth living.At least I feel so...

My opinion is when we have immense money at our disposal, no matter how we earn it, we are also endowed with "immense" responsibility to put the money to some use of the world.But finding out how is supposedly not that easy..

How does a rich man find productive ways of spending his money?I'm at confusion, somebody help...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Made it to IIT Kanpur

I find things turn out to be remarkably simple and easy for me when it comes to determination of future course at some critical juncture.This is how my WBJEE rank permitted me a seat in JU.A few months back, after writing the GATE exam I did not imagine that the result of the exam which went awefully bad for me is going to permit me admission at IITK. But it's peculiar as who knows better that I have seldom been serious about my studies?Still I didn't ever have to worry as to where I would go to after my current program terminates.It's simply strange!!
I did not get a direct admit,though.I was called for a two-stage written test/interview screening process. The IIT Kanpur campus is awesome.Some 18-20 kms from the town is the institute campus with exquisite natural beauty.Peacocks are seen around aplenty and I saw a peacock with it's colourful tail expanded dancing in full glory, for the first time in my life.Although their shyness disappointed me. I once had the fortune of seeing a peacock unfolding it's tail with the fullest of romantic expressions in it's gesture..but no sooner did it see me stop and stare at it,than it folded down it's tail and shied away.
Besides peacock there is a wide variety of birds,animals and even reptiles in the campus.Everyday I used to wake up in the hostel hearing the mixed cacophony of different birds, in which the harsh sound of the peacock was the most prominent. The students said that there are some 150 nilgai's in the campus though I didn't see one.The campus is really big, I hardly traversed even a small fraction of it.Still I confused roads(highways they are, so to speak, running amidst the campus!!!) and went around in circles several times.
The written test was smooth and peaceful.Some 74 students(including myself) out of 134 were shortlisted for interviewing.
The interview started but shortly ended for that day.Mine was held on the next day.
The students went on going in and coming out.They narrated their interview experiences and it was really disheartening to hear that IIT professors may be really cruel at you in case you turn out academically weak (in their perception).But all the people in the panel were very polite and soft-spoken.So their comments were coming as sugar coated bitter pinch.A Chennai guy was said on face "It is not the proper way to study though I know it's not your fault.You don't know anything".Very gently said though.The guy was finally taken, as were many other people who thought their interviews had been disasters.
I don't know why but the professors were very merciful on me.But the terrifying stories that I heard were making me tremble in the panel.The interview started with a standard question on a graph theory problem after I said that my favourite subjects are algorithms and discrete mathematics.Still I took minutes together to think the answer out.I was so frightened.
The remaining part of the interview went smoothly.They were really adept in confusing people.But when I was leaving I heard one professor saying to another "I think he has done quite well" and I delightfully went back to the hostel.
I found the reults the day I returned on the net.Now looking forward to go over there for admission confirmation and all.