Sunday, September 19, 2010

On exams rather "examinations"

At the onset let me make it clear that this is not one of those post which people write when they have screwed up an exam or a test. Surprisingly, i am doing well in the papers.
But a very strange thing happened to me in the Probability and Statistics paper at IIM a few days ago. I hadn't studied much both because of me being me and the paper being open book. So, I was searching for a solution in the gigantic1020 page book thinking all the time about ctrl F. Suddenly I stumbled upon a title reading Decision making and decision analysis. It held me by my enthusiasm and pulled me. I started reading it without even realising that i was digressing and that the time was running. I had to search for how to go about a two tail test, which i had heard a lot about in the past few days but just could not make myself to read it, not even in the exam. Anyways, the article continued for five minutes and i learned that it wasn't as interesting as i thought it would be.
Now I suddenly became aware of the question i had to do in the paper and again started rapidly turning pages of the book to land on something useful. I didn't, in fact I landed on another thought which went like this:
How foolish of me to read a completely irrelevant chapter from the book when the exam is going on. I am really going to suffer in future for such carelessness on my part.Why did I even stop on that article? Why did I think that it would be interesting? Boy am I inquisitive and easily distract-able? But I want to learn what I like? Isn't it what education should be? A pull model rather than a push model? Students are given all the opportunities to learn and all they have to do is ask the right questions and hunt for the answers. Sure i am thinking about an ideal world...
...still i have seen a ted talk by some person with the "hole in the wall project". He had demonstrated how non-english speaking 14 year students self-learnt about complex biotechnology fundas when all they knew was how to use google.Something is fundamentally wrong with the way education was being seen. It is wrong even here: which is supposed to be the best education institute in india.

All we are thought is what i learnt in engineering by the term "pattern recognition". In the class you are introduced to a pattern and told a set of procedures to follow when you see one. After some steps you will invariably arrive at an "answer". You are given some time to practise this algorithm, and in the exam you are asked to repeat it. Now if you are "smart" and "intelligent" you actually do it right and arrive at the same answer as the model answer. It requires a lot of grasping, practice, presence of mind,speed,sincerity etc.But as a reward you get scored. And if you get good score you have proved to yourself and to the world that you are intelligent and that you can be complacent about your future.
I am sure the concept of exams and tests must have started with an intention of getting a feedback as to whether the whole process of learning is actually going in the right direction, then it must have totally moved to a concept of testing similar to the quality control tests in an assembly line. For example in a glass manufacturing plant there is a person at the end of the assembly line who checks whether the moulded pot is perfectly round, if it isn't he pulls out the glass piece and puts it back as cullet which then gets recycled. But now with a fierce competition in the world, made more so because of the "winner takes all" notion rising ( nicely explained by Nicholas Taleb in the Black Swan ), it is not so much about failing the test as it is about being at the top. In the glass example it did not matter how much round the glass was once it was above a given mark. 
 ....i am publishing a partly written blog , because it is getting difficult to write a complete article, will complete it asap. will touch upon the following points later

  • What great minds would think about it
  • error of macro trickled down to micro
  • solutions?
  • Practicality? dissonance because of non integrity in the objectives of educational institutes

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Everyone should read it... amazing insight!


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bye: the easiest word to say

splitscreen wave hand
The feeling is amazingly overwhelming. You think how its gonna be from tomorrow without these people around you. And hardly have you thought enough when you want to withdraw from the thought because it is painful. But you know you must think about it today or tomorrow.

You try to remember how it was when you said bye the last time. You suddenly remember that how you did not feel anything till after a week when the feeling sank in and then you felt asphyxiated by it. You had then wished that why did this feeling not come when i was around those who I wished adieu without feelings.

As they say "be careful what you wish for, for you might just be granted your wish". This time the feeling sinks in when you are about to part. You realise the part each and everyone plays in your life , suddenly. You know that you are going to remember the people when you hear songs that are automatically associated to each of them individually by your unconsciousness. Then you won't be able to hear those songs for few days and eventually would not be bored by those songs even when played in loop for the whole day.

These thoughts could never ever be described and they try to blow you up from inside. your body resists blowing up with your throat feeling the pressure lump, but your eyes give in and the tears leak out. Then you begin to part and you are worried because you don't know what you are going to do as the last thing between you and your friends.

Suddenly the word comes to your rescue naturally. It eases the pain and makes your parting just another among the infinite partings in the universe's time and space. Bye and a wave of hand. It's so cliched yet so apt.

A hug , a "bye" and a wave!
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

love this one

एक फकीर ने ज़िन्दगी की कुछ इस तरह मिसाल दी ....मुट्ठी में धूल लेकर हवा में उछाल दी !!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I had a unique day today: a portion spent in a 5-star hotel, another in sadar bazar. Both in Delhi just 15 rupees apart.

I reached Jaypee Siddharth Hotel at 7:30 in the morning,which was too soon, for IIM Kozikode's interview (will write a separate post on it soon). The entry to the hotel was very fancy, with security checks and unnecessary lighting. I was hungry as hell and the 90-minutes wait before our GD and essay was killing me. My body was showing signs like it shows on days when I don't take lunch, miss the dinner, don't wake up for breakfast and am engaged in some task causing the next lunch to get delayed.

The Air conditioner made me forget, that after the interview I will be thrown out into the torturous sun , rendered more so because of the AC. Also the pleasant temperature somehow made me more hungry! I knew I had no option but to eat in the 5star restaurant today. I went to the ATM withdrew 500 rupees hoping to eat something, anything. I entered the restaurant and to my horror, the breakfast was buffet. It was a horror because in buffets you see all the things , which you can't eat (or afford) so deliciously presented. But I sat down at the table, called the waiter and asked. " Bhaiyya kya system hai yahan breakfast ka". As soon as the words left my mouth they felt awkward and were made more so, when he replied in crisp English, " Its 850 per plate, sir". Last I heard waiters were supposed to please the customers. I ask, which syllable in his sentence was deliberated to that end?. I avoided further embarrasment by eating my "hainnn!??" as soon as it surfaced on my mouth.

I asked for a tea, worrying with every sip, how much did the last sip cost. Throughout that exercise, the maximum number for the 'what may be the final price?' that came to my mind was 50. It cost thrice that. I pulled out two notes placed them in the folder and waited, cursing the circumstances. The waiter did not return for another 10 minutes. I stood up and waved a hand at him. He came towards me puzzled! I asked him about the remaining 50 rupees. He was surprised and brought back the folder with 50 rupees in it. My reaction 'Really?! 50 rupees as tip!'

After the interview I came out and saw a metro station called Rajendra Place right across the road.I knew I had to use this opportunity so I boarded the train to Chowri Bazar .I got down there and asked a Rikshaw waala to take me to Sadar bazar.He said 30. I told 15. We agreed on 20. I sat in the Rickshaw, saw the man half my weight, thrice my age, pull me with whatever strength that remained in his body.

In a normal setting, I would hardly have felt anything. But someone once said "what you eat in the morning decides what you think throughout the day" and I had tea worth 150 today.I felt guilty because I bargained with this Rikshaw puller and stripped 10 rupees off him, whereas if a corresponding price with the tea was to be paid, he would well deserve a 1000 bucks. I was worried, not just because I felt I lost my integrity somehow, but also because, how so very easily the surroundings and the prevalent norms molded me. Am I so malleable?

Then throughout the day as if I was suddenly conditioned for Sadar Bazar, I started bargaining and won a deal for Rs.7 when the demanded price was Rs.10. This way I saved 2000 bucks. To achieve that I had to walk several kilometers in scorching sun. I was happy to have achieved this bargain. I was thinking all the time: how do we know what price to quote?

150 for cup of tea. 20 for a rikshaw ride. 7 for a rubik's cube. 110 for auto ride. 80 for auto ride back on the same route. isn't money expected to standardise utility? is it really achieving it? is it even better than barter?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

IIM Ahmedabad interview

14th March 2010, IIFT Delhi

Morning 8:45 exactly around 28 call getters were divided into 4 panels .Then we were called in for writing our essays.

In ten minutes we were supposed to write an essay on "Is banning politicians with criminal records from contesting election violation of their rights?". At first I felt it was a bouncer, so I only had two choices, either duck down and give up or hook. I could not have played a defensive shot. It was a bouncer because I had to be sure that I don't mention any random political proper nouns in the essay which i could be questioned upon later in the interview. so very carefully i put forward two points, in a fairly structured way.
Firstly, that in india politicians are looked upon as leaders, and there is a need of immaculate integrity at the top.Secondly, if thousands of citizens' rights are at stake, we can forgo a chance of violating one politician's rights and if he is a true servant, he won't mind it. I thought the essay was fairly above average.

then after quite a long wait, i was called in for the interview. I was 5th.

Let me introduce the panels.
P1: an old professor, looked very systematic and rules driven
P2: a young prof. who did not speak much (and spoke nothing looking at me)

P1: So, you are doing Electrical Engineering. Is Electrical and Electronics same?
Me: Sir, in our college, there is only an Electrical Engineering as a major, but it has 4 streams we can choose from. There is telecommunications, VLSI, Power and automation.

P1: So what is your stream?
Me: Mine is VLSI (I was frightened now coz I knew nothing more than the full form of VLSI)

P1: Very Large Scale Integration ha! What is the difference between LSI and VLSI?
Me: The difference is in the density of transistors per unit area. VLSI works with very high density as compared to LSI

P1: So what is this trnasistor?
Me: I explained what it is and how and where it is used in both analog and digital domain

P1: How is it represented?
Me: Answered

P1:So how many transistors are there on this Pentium chip?
Me: Order of a million sir. But intel is coming up with a new chip named Gulf Town with a billion transistors

P1: OK. You talked about area. What is area of a circle?
Me: (I was surprised by the question and said hesitantly) sir, pi into r square?

P1: so how is it derived?
Me: (now its more like it)told him pi is experimentally calculated as circumference by diameter and derived the area by integrating a sector's area

P1: (somewhere he got confused or appeared to be and finally agreed that it was ok. I did not know why he did that)so why did you take sin d theta as d theta?
Me: at small angles sine theta is approx theta

P1: so is area of circle an approx formula
Me: no and explained why calculus is accurate and not approx...also mentioned sine law ...

P2: So you have been in Delhi for 4 years. you know about common wealth games?
Me: yes sir later this year.

P2: why are they played and why are they named so?
Me: CW nations are originally the British colonies. CWG are a good way to develop relations...blah blah

P2: is it worth spending so much on them?
Me: gave fundas on image of india, foreign money coming in, long term investment (i think i missed infrastructure development which he wanted to hear)

P2:So, if the money is directly given to orissa, their problems will be solved.can hosting CWG solve these problems
Me: gave random fundas

P2: OK.there is an uneasiness on why bankers are given bonuses. Why do you think it is?
Me: Gave fundas on recession and contrast

P2: even reliance people get so much money. why no easiness there? why only ankers?
Me: fundas of stereotype of bankers, and how they play wwith others' money

P2: (somehow managed to confuse me completely ) by comparing Reliance and Bankers (and either deliberately or not he was speaking in a very weird way, not looking at me while speaking and speaking in what cannot be called a clear voice)

Me: okay sir they are one and the same

P2: tell me something about railway budget
Me: (did not know enough so thought the best option was) not much aware about it sir.

P2: what do you know about green coal?
Me: (now surely he was testing me)it sounds like environmentally efficient coal, but i have not heard about it

P2: In delhi, what are the companies involved in electricity and energy sector?
Me: the companies are basically divided into Gencos, transcos and distribution companies.

P2: (interrupting) so what do you think, this triversification helped. what is the situation in delhi?
Me:I think, this move of triversificationis a move towards ideal working of things. it helps small players to enter independentlyinto any allows sharing of grid etc. in delhi the prices have not gone up, though they have also not gone down as expeced. But, i think we should give it time and it would work out eventually.

P1 and P2: Ok, thank you.

Me: (stood up and realised that i was not at all asked about my hobbies. My strengths are not even talked about. So what i did next was a gamble and i am still not sure whether i should have done that. but i had to take a decision then and i did take one without faltering)I would have liked if you had asked me about my hobbies sir (and handed over my file to P1. This file had a collection of the paintings and structures that i have made)

P1 looked at it very disinterestingly, though I explained each of my unconventional paintings (3d art, rubik's cube wall, took the opportunity to mention that i am ranked 16th in india for speedsolving rubik's cube, charcoal painting, ambigrams etc.) P2 got interested somewhere in between and offered me a chair. I sat down. P2 took the file and started enjoying it, but P1 was keen on sending me out."Ok thank you" he said and handed me a toffee.

Now people ask how did the interview go? Please comment!

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Friday, March 19, 2010

About balance

Given time...things evolve, become better, problems solve themselves (or reach a point where they become irrelevant). All this at a holistic view, obviously.
This makes me wonder, isn't it a proof that the final state , is that of balance and stability. Though its proven that entropy is increasing, can't we see it in a way that system is reaching a state of homogenization.

Let me write an example or two: when a container of a gas (say oxygen cylinder) is opened, we see that gas rushes out and spreads everywhere and we say that overall entropy of the universe has increased. But isn't it also a valid perspective , that the ultimate stable state of the universe is complete homogenization, not sharp categorization , but homogenization which the gas is trying to achieve by spreading. If we let all such gases let loose, we will have each and every gas present everywhere. there would be no way to identify one space in the universe from another.

Isn't that the ideal state of a society too? The state of complete equality.

We have a good example of Wikipedia, that can be told here. Wikipedia is complete chaos, anybody can put in anything, anybody can read anything. No categorization whatsoever. Is it really a bad state to be in.

the point that i want to make here is that chaos is egalitarian, complete chaos more so and if increasing chaos is a natural arrow of time, don't worry we are moving towards the ultimate balance .

Friday, March 5, 2010

loved it! i want to be the one to have written it :)

““The thing about performance is, even if it’s only an illusion, it’s the celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities.””


Daniel Day Lewis

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

finding frozenland

"Freezing Cold" is a hyperbole, but not at -12 degrees Celsius. Not when you are sitting besides fire and you see water inside a bisleri bottle freeze. For 11 of us "Freezing cold" would never mean the same as it did before our Doditaal trip.

We, namely Jatin, Ranka, Piyush, Kanki, Maddu, Shweta, MM, Amrit, Rishav, Bose and me, went through Rishikesh, Uttarkashi, Nachiketa taal, Agoda ,Bebra, Maanjhi, Doditaal, Darwa pass and back on a trip of a lifetime in the last week of the year 2009, the year when we got our first jobs!

We achieved many a milestones during this trip. We trekked 65kms in 5 days. We survived on mere bread jam, maggi and rice. We crossed 4000 mtrs. mark and reached upto 4200. We made rendezvous with a frozen lake. We survived a temperature of -12 and the movie "Zabardast". We returned safely.

While we were on the trip, however, there were two questions which needed to be answered. Firstly, What all do we carry in our backpacks? We knew we would need food to feed us for the next 5 days , we knew we would need clothing to protect us from extreme cold, we knew we would need shelter from the cold nights. We realised why they are called the basic needs. We just could not take anything more. Because everything we took was to be carried by us. So the question was crucial: What do we carry in our backpacks?

When we had almost reached our destination, bargaining with our legs all the way,to take just few more steps, came in the second question. Can I go that last furlong? This question was made more important by a funny thing about the mountains. In the mountains, your destination can appear only a furlong further, so then you start walking and after half an hour you realise that your destination still appears a furlong further. So the question became more serious. Can I go that last furlong (which may be more than a furlong)?

We had our trip and were coming back when these two questions manifested themselves in a completely different way in my head. They appeared to me as the most important questions in our lives. We all are carrying our backpacks in life. The relations, the boundations, the norms are its contents. So, what should we carry in our backpack, on the journey of life? And also, in life, everyone of us have goals to attain. How can we be sure that these goals are achievable. How do we know that we are capable of going that last furlong in achieving our targets. Can I go that last furlong?

The trip was titled "finding frozenland" because we were focussed on finding things like frozen lakes, subzero temeratures, snowcovered mountains etc. No doubt we found those. But on this trip we found something much more than that. We 11 people found each other. Sure it was a journey on the mountains, but it was a journey through each other too. Each of us shared a part of his/her life with the others, which everyone enjoyed and would never forget. This journey through others, entangled the threads of our lives in a beautiful knot of friendship.

I got my questions answered:
What should we carry in our backpacks? Friends. Why? Because they make you go that last furlong!

The trip could have well been called "Finding Friendsland"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How terribly sad!

“How terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.”
Jostein Garder, The Solitaire Mystery

Thursday, February 18, 2010

way to live your life

You have to find something in everything,
because you can't find everything in something!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thought killer's poem

This is something none other than me would completely understand, because they don't know the context. So I will give you a little context.

I am writing a story and in it there is drop in the river who is encouraged by other drops to keep flowing when he stops to think. The encouraging (rather threatening) poem by a drop named 'thought killer' goes like this

Flow away fellow flow,
flow not for friend or foe

No one's never known to nay,
The Nature's impeccable number
Would(/Won't) you want to wander where,
World's water's way's a wonder!

fellow flow: is how they greet each other in the water world
Nature' snumber : time

Now one day the drop decides to give up his boring routine and set of for a course that is opposite to his regular flow.He encounters the same thought killer and the same poem from his mouth. But this time he feels that the poem is encouraging him to leave the routine. The same poem doing exactly opposite things. His belief that ' you hear what you want to hear' is strengthened.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thoughts of Einstein

This is my fourth speech at toastmasters. I could not post it before because it was a complete sponti speech. No preparation whatsoever.

"God does not play dice", said Einstein and it is obviously the most famous thing he ever said. Ironically, it is one of the few things he said which are proved wrong.

Fellow toastmasters, I believe in the power of simple words and today, I am going to tell you his other thoughts which were his best. In a more flowery physicist language they are called "The Theory of Relativity". The thoughts are so complex that in Einstein's own time only 14 people on earth actually understood the whole thought. But using simple words, I hope to put them across.

To start with Einstein had two firm foundations to start with: two firm feet of belief to stand on. First one, the left foot was simple. He proposed that if Physics is a good science then if its rules are true for this chair , they should also be true for that chair. If they are true in this room they should be true for the room below this. If they are true on this planet, they should be true on any other planet.

The second, the right foot is a little tricky one. He reasoned that everything that moves has speed. So even light should have finite speed. So, because of this limit, light from the sun takes some time to reach earth. 8 and a half minutes. Light from some of the stars take years. That means that the light from the stars that we see today only proves that such and such star existed a thousand years ago. So there is no thing as the real time. There is no need to keep THE clock which shows the real time. HE said that everyone has to buy his own watch and keep his own time. I know that is expensive , but that is how it is.

Now the things start to get real confusing. Because now Einstein said , that if we are carrying a different watch then probably even the speeds of each of our watches is different. A second in my watch may be longer than the one in yours.

Manoj, always tells me that I don't use the stage much and stand at one place. So Suppose, that exactly at 1 o'clock, in both my and your watch, I start running here and there on this stage , to use it completely. And very fast for that matter. Then when I have been running for a long time and Manoj has pity on me and exactly at 2 O 'clock in his watch he asks me to stop.
Then what will you see. Of course, apart from me being all Sweaty, Smelly and Silly. If I show you my watch, and this being a glorified example, it will magically show only half past 1. This has nothing to do with "If you sit with a beautiful girl on a bus, one hour seems like a minute and if you sit on a stove, it seems like eternity" That is just relativity for dummies. Not for us. This experience in the flowery physics language is called "Time Dilation".

One other interesting thing that you will see and which is also beneficial to me. I will actually grow thin. This physicists scaringly call "Length contraction".

All this happens for real , why don't we see it? Because we need to see beyond our normal narrow vision to see them. Scientists and saints observe them in stars. They observe them in atoms.

So, students, if you already have had enough for today, lets disperse and meet in the next class.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A story of Prof. Shiv Dutta Joshi

Prof. S.D.Joshi would not appear to you as the stereotypical professor of IIT Delhi shown in "3 idiots" (Bala Sir may..but then that is a different post altogether). He won't appear to you as any stereotypical teacher, if you meet him outside. He is simple, sober, smiling and intelligent. He appeared exactly that way when he came to our hostel for the STIC-D(Students Teachers Interaction Council Dinner) last year. Till that day we all regarded him as a chill prof, who knows his subject through and through and who is modest enough not to intimidate others by his knowledge.Now the respect has increased manifolds.

That day he told us one of the most amazing first person account you can ever here. Its genuineness and the genius was evident just like that.

I will try to tell it in first person, almost verbatim, though it is difficult because it happened one year back

I started working on my PhD thesis in IIT, I was lucky to be able to work in a field I liked. But all my work was to solve a particular problem (whose details Sir mentioned, but I cannot remember).

I still remember I used to go to my mentor's room. He would not be there most of the time. And then daily, in the morning, all I did was took few blank pages, sit on a chair there, write the same question on the top of the first page and then for the whole day just keep looking at it. Doing nothing else except doing some rough scribble here and there. At the end of the day, I would just leave the room, feeling nothing, but the question still in my mind.

I continued this routine for almost 4 to 5 months and now I was supposed to show some results as the semester was going to end. There were no means to gauge my progress because the solution was unknown. I did not know, and neither did anyone else, how close to or how far from the solution I was. So I could not say that I have completed x percent of my thesis work.

Then one day, while I was diligently repeating my routine of staring at the question, something just struck me. I knew I had found the solution. I was very happy but I did not write even a word on the paper that day, not even a scribble. I left my mentor's room, called my friends and went for a movie. I have never felt so happy.I was happy because there was something in my brain that no one in the world ever knew.

I enjoyed life for the next fortnight. I had not written even a word of the solution. Finally because of the pressing deadlines, I sat down to work and writing the solution was as easy as I thought.

Even today I love research because I get to feel that exhilaration of doing something original. Those moments are few but then you just love them.
Amazing man! Amazingly simple and modest.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The image edit that was just awesome

While we were tired and descending the gigantic mountains of Garhwal, near Uttarkashi, Amrit made me stop at this place and told me to pose. I saw a dry tree trunk coming out of the edge onthe path and chose to pose using it. It was a better than average photo (escpecially because MM being in it too and not posing or anything, made it look like just-another-photo).

Then one day when I was editing the photos, I used almost all the options available in Picasa on this particular photo. That included removing MM from the pic, adding colour to black and white gradient and some basic fixes. And just like that this amazing picture was born.

I did think of a little aesthetics here and there, but now when I look at the picture there are a thousand interpretations (poetic,aesthetic, general) that I think of which I did not think about while making it. So I don't believe it was made by me, it was made through me (like in Gita) is more apt.

I just can't have enough of this photo :)


This is the 5th speech at toastmasters that i am planning to give. Content is completely inspired from Devdutt Patnaik's blog post . The way of telling is mine :)

Though the name suggests Reintroduction, no I am not going to give my Ice breaker again. I am not going to reintroduce myself. But I am going to reintroduce four gentlemen who came to be, hundreds of years ago, and have been living with us ever since. We have stopped recognizing them lately, and even if we remember them, we get all confused with which one is which.

Fellow toastmasters, allow me to call between us these fine gentlemen, aptly named Raja Bhoj, Gangu Teli, Gobarganesh and Shekhchilli . I know for most of us the last three are synonymous with morons. But it was not so when they were born in the folktales of India.

So without further ado, let me reintroduce to you Mr. Shekhchilli. He is a man with dreams and desires. He has the capacity to look into options no one even ventures into. Let me share with you an anecdote from his life. Once his master was happy with him and gave him a pot of milk. As soon as he had the pot, he started thinking how he could make butter from this milk and sell it to buy "more milk then more butter then more milk then more butter than a cow then more milk then more cows ..." and sadly for him the pot in his hand fell.

Seeing this the person who laughs most is Mr. Gangu Teli. He is a realist. He does not believe in dreams. He believes in present , he believes in getting things done. In that he believes in stick, not the carrot. By profession he is a teli (or an oil presser). In his profession he is always on a lookout for efficiency and effectiveness. Because he is a doer, he thinks he moves the world and suffers from overconfidence .

Mr. Gobar Ganesh is the timid and shy person at the back. He looks at everyone and thinks that the other one is too smart and starts imitating him. He has no opinion of his own and believes in the opinion of the one who talked to him last. So he shows signs of dreamers and doers at some point or the other, but does that involuntarily .

Raja Bhoj is the ideal leader. He knows when to be a doer and when to think ahead. He has his own opinion on things. He always aims at achieving balance between the extremes of Shekhchilli and Gangu teli.

Now these four gentlemen are present in every organisation that is successful. From hundreds of years of experience they tell us that to run a group successfully, you need everyone on the team. Even if one is missing and other three work their best, the organisation is bound to collapse.

When shekchilli was out , we saw lack of vision and the recent recession. When Raja Bhoj was out , shekhchillis and gangu teli's fought and bought many sport teams to dust. Many entreprises have not even seen the light of day because though they have good ideas and leadership  but no Gangu Telis or Gobar Ganesh's to make them happen.

All they have come here to say to us today is "None of us is more important than the others. We all are needed and stop calling us morons"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On achieving

The first response to "What is westernisation?" in India is invariably burgers and jeans.But like always these first responses are only the apparent, observable effects and not the cause. Primarily I think there are two causes that make us do stuff like drink cola, eat chewing gum, wear revealing or skin tight dresses, be indifferent to far relatives; sometimes farness reaching as close as parents, etc. (Note I have not put speaking English in there)

The first cause is fairly visible and obvious. I think it is a lack of confidence in our own culture and better selling by the west. As Shashi Tharoor said in his TED Talk "each nation has a good story, what matters is who tells a better story". We are too impressed to see the greener grass on the other side to actually feel the warmth and the softness beneath.

The second cause which I am really worried about is which i think is also a cause fueling the above mentioned lack of confidence. It is a new mentality among the human beings all around the world to be heroes in their lifetimes.This is a fairly hidden cause because it was not present during the times when westernisation began in our culture, so it is easy to miss. This change in mentality is affecting the western world as much as it is affecting our way of life, only that it is affecting them a little early.We being master imitators, it spreads to us almost as a free gift.

Let me elaborate on what I mean to say. Compare the stories of say Ramayana told during king's times,with the stories of Rama told by Ramananda Sagar, to the animated 2-3 houred Ramayana. Leaving aside the time of the reel there are many other things that are different. The change which most relevant to this discussion, is that during the olden times the story of Ramayana acted as spices in the main food. The food being the substance, the moral, the lessons on politics, the spiritual understanding. Just to add taste and make them easier to remember, the stories were framed.

Gradually, while they reached the times of Ramananda Sagar, they started to be perceived as stories of God. We no longer bothered as much about the hidden meanings, first of all because they were hidden and did not take the screen time. What took the screen time were special effects on the stunts that god performed, though what was common to the past era still was that we did not associate us with god. Ram was still some ideal man who was very very different from us.

Today when we see the animated Ramayan, for the kids of this generation, it is not very different from say spiderman or pokemon adventures.We are only eating spices so to speak.

Now coming back to the 'change in mentality to become a hero in a lifetime' thing I was talking about. Let me again give you an example of a TV series called Sa Re Ga Ma, so that we can all relate to it. In the times of Manna Day and Mohd. Rafi, singers were a different class of people, their technical knowledge was esoteric, almost all singers did nothing else in their lives but sing and nobody who did anything else ever sang, at least not on stage and never on TV.Compare it with the time today when we are so connected to the reality shows that we are more bothered about the love life of the singers than the actual song. The song may be recorded and filtered but it does not matter to us as long as the comments by the judges after that are spicy, cheesy, extraordinary, extreme...anything but mundane. Doesn't matter if they are wrong or contradictory. I bet people don't see a paradox in experts arguing whether an amateur singer is 9/10 or 4/10 every time.They are too busy following their idols. Another interesting thing is we have started to accept faults in our idols. Imagine some singer being even accused of being a child molester in the old times. Imagine someone giving a hit album after being molested.

All I want to show by the above example is that we have started believing that after all even common people like us can be heroes. Everyone can be extraordinary.

But poets in the past would have thought it is a good thing. Why am I sounding so worried and cynical? Because I think we all can be heroes by being ordinary and people around me are not understanding it. And trying to be extraordinary is killing them.

Lets take the example of IIT JEE. Holistically, it is nothing but an exam to test students for their engineering aptitude (that too of only one kind - theoretical) and in doing so take the best few thousands to teach them engineering. Now think of a student who is not inclined to be a good theoretical engineer, ....(sorry! need to go now,will continue later)

Finding Frozenland

After two months of vishraam I was finally able to give my third Toastmaster's speech.I was lucky enough to have had an amazing trip with my friends in those two months, so that formed the topic of the speech. I was also lucky that Ranka came to hear that speech, and also wrote a blog post on that speech. So interested junta please read it here