Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Her college had planned a reunion among old students and my mother took charge of her department and other departments related to management studies. She started collecting all the details about various alumni and started tracking them down one by one. She started reminiscing about her college days and all the people she met then and the fun they had. It was a very different experience for us because she usually doesn't tell much about her college days except the fun that she had with her close friends. We know a lot about her close friends but almost none about her class in general and other students forming a part of it. She was on the phone day and night and used to get calls from all the places(except heaven and hell, of course!!) As the day drew near, she was gripped with excitement about meeting her friends after such a long time. She and a few of her friends made plans to give surprise gifts to all their friends. They also fished out their batch photograph and got it enlarged and renovated and ready. Then the D-Day came!
She was so excited that she could hardly sleep the night before. Somehow, she managed to sleep and get ready the next day. Being in-charge of her entire management studies, she went early to ensure everything went well. We went later at 10 and saw all her friends and classmates and their families. It was a truly amazing experience! Imagine meeting people who remember your mother as a young college student and hearing them relive the experiences and the fun they shared in college!! My mother now leans to the stricter side and expects us to finish work first and then play. I used to think that she was the same in college. But, back then, she seemed to have had a hell lot of fun, in fact, more fun than work :) Her friends and her, from their recounts of the past, said that they had put up a "Pala palaa Jilu jiluu Kulu Kuluu" Circus. They had done it for some skit where they had to fight out to get a coveted prize. All of them participated in the skit and even managed to bring in real animals into the show, like goats and horses for authenticity. Two of them dressed up as clowns and kept the audience in uproar. Finally, they won the first prize. Nowadays, it might not seem like a big deal but imagine having to be able to do something like that, what with them being girls and in a conservative college(more than a convent) and from traditional families!! We were awed by the effort that they had taken and were in splits when we heard other fun things that they had done in their days. I couldn't imagine that the staid lady(my mom's friend) standing by my side with thick glasses was once the same person who used to have maximum fun in the hostel :) We also had fun trying to match the person in real life with those in the photo taken years back. We were amazed at the transformation in each of their lives. Even they were amazed! But then, they were able to find out the right person very quickly(well, three years of friendship is not for nothing, right? ;))
It was an eye-opener in more ways than one! I got to know my mother in an entirely different light. I have known her to be an adult who is kind but strict, who thinks that I have to finish my work in order to have fun (but whether I do it is an entirely different matter!), who has kissed my tears away, who has taken the roles of a mother, a teacher, a confidante, a friend, a fellow shopper, my critic and my guide from time to time as the situation warrants. But, from her friends, I found that she was fun-loving, casual with studies (none of her students would believe it) and had even a gang and a unique gang name. Finally, the day came to an end and my mother brought back loads of sweet memories and renewed promises to keep in touch with her friends. I’ve already started dreaming about my college reunion. But, that is still a long way off! (I hear my mother say that Time runs very fast and that we would be ready for our reunion soon.) But, I guess we wouldn’t have that many shocks because we are all connected to one another through internet and mail and orkut and what not! We would be sharing our details with friends. It would be easier to gather everyone for a reunion but we would miss out on the fun of trying to identify our classmates. So, it is a gain-loss situation. Anyways, lets wait and see! It would be interesting, no doubt!
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The wind that will take her to the harbor
The wind that will take her ship to safety
The wind that will take her to glorious tomorrow.
She has done her duty
The duty that would stand by her
In times of adversity
In times of testing
In times of questioning
The voice smiles at the world
The world of which it is a part
The world where it has to make a mark
The world where it has to guide its subject
The voice has done a deed
The deed that makes a difference
In times of uncertainty
In times of hesitancy
In times of change
The voice smiles....
Now, here is my question. I feel that commitment is one big step in any relationship and that it has to be dealt with care once decided. I feel that my choices in even simple things like clothes (I do buy outrageous outfits, but then very rarely!) or accessories (one place I would love to experiment but feeling too lazy :)) are made after a lot of deliberation. I completely lack the art of deciding if a thing (or a guy, in this case) is “the” right one for me from a huge number of choices (that is why I think I’d be heading down the alley of arranged marriages). I need every fact out in the open before I make a decision. Though it is true that not all the facts are revealed in arranged marriages, you tend to get more input from various quarters and that leads to more information. Which leads to more knowledge and finally a better-informed decision making process. I don’t see much of a chance for failure in this model (having been proved true again and again by the information revolution around us). In love marriages, not all the facts are put in the open, ugly or otherwise. People tend to show their best characteristics to their would-be partners and downplay their negative points. It is the responsibility of the individual to find out if all that is being put on the platter is true. Especially in Indian societies, we lack the drive to find out the truth. Instead, we tend to believe implicitly all that said at the altar of love to be true. Love marriages require lots of hard work (even before marriage) and implicit trust. I’ve seen a few of my friends torn by guiltiness for having had to ask their partners tough questions and face even tougher answers. Sometimes, they are the ones under gunfire and then follows a cycle of tears, fights and cajoling and finally peace. It requires loads and loads of hard work, commitment and true love from both sides to make it happen. (Another reason why it’ll never suit a lazybones like me :))
That brings me to the question of "true love". Is it as professed in the Indian cinemas where the hero and heroine meet, fall in love, fight the entire universe (include the heroine's father for sure. A brother would be just great too!), overcome all the odds and finally settle down to a life of "happily ever after"? Throw in a couple of love scenes, a rain dance (they seem to have become ubiquitous in the recent past) and a couple of fights (to make the hero look macho! The gorier the better! In fact, the villains are usually made to look stupid at each and every turn of the story) and you have a brand new Kollywood cinema that is sure to run packed houses for atleast a month. Add some more gooey stuff like in “Aashiq Banayaa” and bring in “ladies” like Mallika or Nameeta(down south), you can rake in profits for atleast two months(which is better than ever in times when the entire industry is losing money like hell! Who cares about the people or their sensitivities? But that is a different issue altogether). Coming back to the most important question, what is true love? Is it as defined by the film industry or is it as given in the novels (which themselves range from the variety offered by M & B type to those offered by the classics)? One of my friends said that it came from the heart while another confidently voted for the love that came along with all the material benefits. After hearing heated arguments for days, I’ve come to the conclusion that it depends on the person in love (typically Libran, eh?? ;) )
Back to the argument, I was wondering if the commitments made at such an age (when they should be building solid grounds to their castles on the air) would stand them in good stead or was it just another attempt at having fun? More importantly, why is it that people are willing to go through so much of hardships in the name of love? More often than not, they are doing it all for infatuation. That makes them lose sight of what they set out to achieve and finally life takes a turn that no one can predict. The final result is that neither of the two partners tend to get nearer to their original goals and all that is left in times of adversity is the hate and bitterness of it all. The only solution, again, is true love and oodles of trust and commitment. True! I do accept that true love can solve any problem, clear up any misunderstanding and heal any hurt. It will also lead both the partners to glory and nearer their goals. But such a symbiotic relationship is few and far in between. It also requires years of friendship and maturity to build such a relationship. In all, there seems to be one glaring truth. Falling in love is something that cannot be planned for; but deciding our response to it and our plans for it is something definitely in our hands. What do u think, folks?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
How interesting on introspection!!! Almost all the religions involve the use of light(either in the form of candles or diyas) to fight the darkness in the month of December. Christians use this opportunity to light their fashionable candles while the Hindus celebrate the ever popular Diwali and the lesser popular Kaarthigai Deepam (more popular in South of India… Come to think of it, each part of India has its own festivals and customs. Even hugely popular festivals like the Diwali and Ganesh Chathurthi are celebrated in different ways all over India! This sort of diversity is fascinating and mind boggling at the same time! It is this diversity that is at the root of Indian culture. Each part of India is unique yet an integral part of the culture. We can compare it with a collage where each part of the design stands out yet forms a seamless integration with one another to give a complete design. In my neighbor’s view, it is like the palpayasam( a sweet made of milk) where the cashewnut is separate yet an integral part of the sweet. He is a connoisseur in food and related subjects.
The custom is that atleast a handful of new diyas are brought and lit along with other old ones. In some parts of Tamil Nadu, the diyas are colorfully painted to increase their attractiveness. There are different types of diyas ranging from the small mann vilakku to the enormous Kerala vilakku and the intricate Thanjavur vilakku. Each has a beauty of its own and a rich culture behind it. The diya oil is poured (some houses follow the tradition of using ghee for the diyas kept inside the house) and the cotton thiri is kept in them. After all this preparation, a pooja is done in the evening and then the lady of the house lights the main lamps of the house. Other ladies and kids light other lamps and place them all over the house. It is sheer delight to look at houses decked in lights. This is repeated everyday, right from the start of Kaarthigai till the day of Maha Deepam. There are people who keep the diyas starting a week before the D day and others who keep it from three days ahead.
My earliest memories of this festival have been those times spent in helping my mom and paati in preparing the diyas, the pooja, placing the lamps and finally going around my colony to find out which house has the best array of lamps, the maximum number of lamps and the best kolams that go along with the lamps. Then, all of us go to the temple. My paati used to make delicacies on the day of Maha Deepam and we’d hang around the kitchen waiting for her to give us samples of all that she is cooking. And, though we’d be around and she’d give us a bit of everything (except those for the Lord), there’ll be atleast one surprise item in the menu that day. Till date, I don’t know how or when she manages to prepare it. There are so many times when we would be cockily sure about the entire menu only to be beaten by that surprise addition. Then, as we grew older, our games shifted to guessing out the surprise delicacy added to the list. Nowadays, though, I am more happy lighting the diyas and preparing them than with the food. (Is it an indication for me finally becoming a grown up???) This year, we had started right on dot and kept the diyas (not many but not too less too!) on all days. The last day, we checked out each house in our locality and adjudged the winner of this year. It was so much fun to do it with friends around. I am only sad that I won’t be able to celebrate this festival next year at home as I would be leaving home sweet home for work or study. Well, you can’t have everything in life all the time, right?
Monday, December 04, 2006
One of my friends sent me a forward containing the quotes on Chanakya. They are so relevant even in the present world. I find these quotations,really deserving.These are just like an unleashing innings of an marvelous mind.knowledge is an infinite ocean,it's very hard to be through. Friends,if you have any such quotations,then give those Tornados a direction towards my mailbox.
Chanakya's Quotes (Indian politician, strategist and writer, 350 BC - 275 BC)
"A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and Honest people are screwed first."
"Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous."
"The biggest guru-mantra is: Never share your secrets with anybody. ! It will destroy you."
"There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no Friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth."
"Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions - Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead."
"As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it."
"The world's biggest power is the youth and beauty of a woman."
"Once you start a working on something, don't be afraid of failure and don't abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest."
"The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all direction."
"Whores don't live in company of poor men, citizens never support a weak company and birds don't build nests on a tree that doesn't bear fruits."
"God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple."
"A man is great by deeds, not by birth."
"Never make friends with people who are above or below you in status. Such friendships will never give you any happiness."
"Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next five years, scold them. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like a friend. Your grown up children are your best friends."
"Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person."
"Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats the beauty and the youth."
Though I have reservations about a few of these quotes, on introspection, they seem to be true. Atleast, each of them would make a good topic for contemplation on a rainy afternoon or on a sleepless night with no other soul for company. Try it! You'll learn loads about yourself. Keeping a journal of such times would enhance the journey. After such a free wheeled ride on your mind, you would feel so rejuvenated and you would have become your own best friend! Do tell me your comments and views on it!
Friday, December 01, 2006
TO MY CHILD
Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying.
Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is.
Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry and pick you up and take you to the park to play.
Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.
Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.
Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by.
Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned.
Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won't stand over you trying to fix them.
Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys.
Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you.
Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry.
Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars.
Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favourite TV shows.
Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.
I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children's graves instead of their bedrooms. The mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly and screaming inside that little body
And when I kiss you goodnight I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask him for nothing, except one more day.............
For all the moms and dads who are reading this post, I ask only one thing of you. Spend more time with your kids for they tend to grow out of their childhood faster than you think or you will have lost those special moments forever. The best times I remember in my childhood are the ones I spent with my dad and mom. I still remember the talks that my dad and I used to have when he drove me to classes or the fun that my mom had with me while in the market. True! They taught me the fundamentals of life in those places. The lessons given there have helped me pull through most of my ordeals. I don't think that those times would ever come again even if we tried to recreate that scenario. Now I know the world (atleast a part of it!) and they take me to be an adult. The mistakes that they would have accepted as part of learning then are taken with a small degree of disapproval now. So, friends, make as many mistakes as you can while growing up and learn the lessons. For, you might have to pay a heavier price later. Worse, you might not have a chance to learn them later.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Sleep! Oh! Sleep!
What a bliss to sleep
Not a care, not a stare
Not a need to check your fare
Nourishing the withered body
Preventing a work that's shoddy
Soothing the tired brow
Refreshing thoughts needed to know
Done by all without fail.
Otherwise life would become stale
A gift of God, I'd surely say
Lack of it, a heavy price we'd pay!
It was so funny reading it now but then I do remember that I was really happy with my poem back then! Come on! None of my friends could write rhymes(that is it surely!) and I can make up my own. Ah! Those were golden days! We never had a care in the world, were never touched by anything bad or cruel or violent, had loads of fun with friends who wanted nothing but time to run and play around with them, a good snack when we got home, mothers and grandmothers to fuss on us( they still do but lesser. They think I know what is best and let me my own way, which, though exalting at times, is a big responsibility and a sure sign that I've to fast get into the adult world) and make us do what is good for health and life. And, my sentiments for sleep haven't changed a bit. They have only increased. Now, isn't that a sign of me still in childhood? ;)
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
She felt happy and satisfied.
She was elated for she lived by the principle "Do your duty and that gives most joy".
The voice smiled.
Had it had a face, it would have shown....
In infinite wisdom,
it was a knowing, satisfied smile.
Now began the long wait.
The wait for results, results of hard work, of back breaking labor in reaching the goal.
The voice too.......
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Five favorite authors:
2)Arthur Conan Doyle
Four favorite characters:
1)Aalvaarkadiyaan - Ponniyin selvan
2)Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock Holmes
3)Ms.Mythreyi Seshadri - Naintha Ullam
4)Hari - Five point someone
Three favorite phrases:
1)"Nithya kalyaanamum Pachai Thoranamum" - Aathma
2)"Ethai Kandu Ichai kondaayadi, kiliyae?" - Naintha Ullam
3)"Moonlight, I love it " - The story girl
Two favorite novels/stories with a short description:
1)Ponniyin Selvan - Book on Cholas. It tells about the struggles for Chola empire and the final coronation. It has mystery, romance, humour, philosophy and what not! The hero is Vandhiya Thevan though the person after whom the book is named is ArulMozhi Varman aka Raja Raja. In one word, this is one good book. Though it has a lot of history in it, the way it has been said is truly exceptional. Only after reading this novel did I get really interested in books. A must read for everyone!
2)Naintha Ullam - A book about a girl who learns to live with her brother and uncle's family after leaving her foster family. The fun she has, struggles she faces and the silent demons that she fight have been portrayed beautifully. The story is set in Madras and Sri Lanka.
1)Anne of Green gables - one of my childhood books that I still love reading. All the Anne books are good! A sure read if you are planning on GRE because it has so many "big words" as Anne puts it :)
2) All of Sherlock Holmes - Too big to describe!
One favorite series:
Malory towers!! (nothing to beat it)
I tag all those who love books. Come on! This is a chance to talk about your favorite books and authors.And, it is fun too!
PS: Harry Potter was a close contender in the last category!! I love Potter exactly for the same reasons that I love MT. And, not to forget Famous Five, Five findouters, The secret Island series and..... I'd keep going. :)
Well, looking back, I don't know how I ever survived all the sem exams that have come my way since I joined college. Every time, I'd decide that I would give my undivided attention to studies atleast from this sem and learn(I mean, actually learn!! Not just read the xeroxes that kind friends take and give just before sem exams and internals. I don't remember ONE day when I actually sat through a book and decided what I had to xerox. It would be always be the pages that some friend of mine says. Most of the time, I'd just take a xerox when all others are taking. Or, if it was too much hassle, I'd get the book itself... But,I'd never touch the book more than once in the entire semester. My mom always complains that I never use my books. I've stopped coz of this reason.... both buying and reading :)) all the subjects. Sadly, I've never been able to do that. Every time, something or the other would come up and I would leave my resolutions in the air and run off to have fun. And, then it would soon be time for the first internals. There would be a mad scramble to try to study and I'd decide "ok... from now on, atleast, I should study". That would be promptly forgotten once those three days are over. It would be the same for other two internals. Then, we'd have the sem exam holidays.
Sem study holidays are some of the most enjoyable times I've had. We would have fun doing group studies(atleast trying to), chat sessions, taking xeroxes and relocating the old ones and doing a hundred and one things. Only the day before, I'd get guilty pangs and start on the first subject. However, since I'd have lost touch with studies(ok... when did I ever have it to have lost it?), I would wile away the time and realize it only roughly 20 hours before the actual exam starts(and I would have to sleep and eat! I'd never sacrifice on them both! Ok, R! Don't laugh!) Then, I'd start wishing fervently that I could have spent more time on studies. Somehow, I'd manage to learn and go and write the exam next day. Then, I'd be really tired and have a good sleep. I'd wile away the time given for the next exam and repeat the same sequence again. This would go on and on until all the exams are done and I would heave a sigh of relief. I would resolve that I would not repeat this again (sadly, I could never keep up the resolve). But now, looking back at the results and cgpa, I haven't lost much. I stand my own in class. I pity those who keep on studying day in and day out for the semester exams. They don't know what they are missing "out there". Sure, sem exams are important but there are other things in life too. Also, the sem exams only test the concepts that we have learnt throughout the semester. There is no point in trying to learn them again and again. That is the beauty of engineering. You learn the concepts once, you'd remember them(maybe with some refreshing) for life.
But then, somewhere, along these lines, I've actually learnt the subjects and have been enthused enough to continue my studies. And, I've had more fun learning them with friends. I've also learnt to handle stress and do quick learning(A talent that comes only after loads of practice!). These qualities have helped me in more ways than one. And, the time spent on other things have taught their own lessons which are invaluable. So, I've no regrets right now about the sem exams in my life. I only wish that I do these exams as good as the others and finish off with style!
Monday, November 06, 2006
She wanted to stop, to stop it all!
She knew she was nearer to her goal than yesterday and she moved a bit further.
Each step caused pain and weariness in her mind and body.
She knew the goal was worth the pain and sacrifice.
So she moved on....
She was bone-tired.
She felt her shoulders were burdened with too much.
She didn't care if she was near the goal or not.
It didn't matter anymore.
She was ready to stop.
And, felt peace(the peace that comes when a person is out of the deadly but powerful embrace of responsibility).
She wanted to sleep.
And, sleep she did.
She heard the Voice, "Rest awhile, not forever"
She got up groggy.
She heard it again "Rest but don't rest".
She resumed her journey.
Her goal was shining.
She is not there still, but one day......
She'll reach it!!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I have been blogging here for the few months. Many of my friends read my blog regularly and give me their comments. The only issue is that they tend to give their opinions straight when they meet me or by sms( a really easy medium to use and my friends use it extensively!) or by mail. I've tried telling them to write their comments here but most of them don't. I'm tired of reminding them about it. That is why this post has come up!
To my readers and friends,
Some of the reasons I think for your noncommenting online are:
1) You think that your comments don't matter(your comments do matter a lot because I would love to know your opinions on what I write!)
2) You feel that others might not like your opinion(as long as it doesn't hurt anyone, all your comments are welcome)
3) You think that the commenting procedure here is a bit tedious(well,I can't do anything about it! The blogger team should take care if this is the problem. Personally, I think that this is one user friendly site and that the blogger team has done a good job of it)
4) You think that conveying your opinions matter and not the medium( True! your comments over any medium are welcome but I would prefer them to be written here because it is a lot easier and would help a lot when we(or someone else) read the post at a later date)
5) You are worried about your privacy and don't want the world at large to know your opinions( I don't think anyone not known to you and with a malicious intent would try to trace you and send hate messages. Come on! this is beyond anyone's imagination! And, we are giving out so much info over orkut and other websites. A small comment here wouldn't cause much trouble)
6) You think that since you see me day in and day out, you don't bother to write the comments here( A plausible reason! Lets see if the comments increase when I shift to Bangalore in a months time)
Frankly, I've run out of reasons!
The comments that you give right to my face are on my mind for some time but I tend to forget them as time goes. A few weeks later, both you and me cannot remember what your comment was about a particular post. And, with the sem work that we have, I tend to forget them sooner. :(
The comments that you give over mail are there in my mailbox but after a few months, when I read them again, I can't make sense of it. I don't know which comment of yours is for what post! And, that adds to the confusion!
The comments that you send to my cell phone are there until either my inbox overflows (most likely) or I delete them to accomodate another msg. Frankly, I cannot keep track of them too. Finally, it leads to the same situation as the face to face comments.
So, I am in a fix over this. Fellow bloggers! Do give me some suggestion as to how you faced such a situation when you started blogging. There should be a way around and I'm bent on finding it.
PS: It is no fun when some one sends a serious comment to your cell when you are busy shopping or having fun with friends. It should be experienced to be understood :(
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
She heard a voice bend down and say into her ear "France won, Brazil lost"
She wanted to see it that day... So eager was she!!
Knowing the result, she was no longer interested
She slipped into deep, dreamless sleep
The moment was frozen in her mind
The voice guides her to the stars
And enthuses her to do better
She waits for the voice...
Monday, October 23, 2006
Another of my friends said that she would try to find the root cause of her friend’s selfish behavior and try to alleviate it to solve the problem. A commendable solution but it would be difficult to change anyone unless they themselves want to change and are ready to observe and correct themselves every time they commit a mistake. She also gave me an interesting insight. She said that most girls (and some guys) tend to become selfish once they are committed to a partner for life. This is especially true in cases of arranged marriages solemnized in a short time (the girl would want to keep talking and spending more time with her would-be partner) or in early days of love (the girl would want to spend each minute of her waking time with her lover).(Sorry, guys! This was entirely her opinion and I have used ‘she’ and ‘her’ to capture the essence of what she said. In my personal view, I think both sexes are equal in this. I’ve seen so many of my friends (guys) who just keep wanting to be with their girl friends in the starting phases of their love lives and just keep avoiding their girl friends in the ending stages J An easy way to find if your relationship rocks or is in the rocks ;) ) But, I wouldn’t categorize this to be selfish behavior. I would put it down to wanting to build a relationship with a significant other and making time for them in his/her lives. In the process, friends also get lesser time.
One of my juniors said that she will throw tantrums and make sure that A actually understood what a loser he/she was and will make sure that she was not the subject of any more of A’s selfish actions. I wouldn’t say that it is a good method because most of the selfish actions happen so quickly that you don’t even have time to protest against it. Thankfully, none of them said that they would go on as if nothing had happened or that they would turn submissive. When I posed the same question to my maid, she said that most Indian women, atleast women of her generation, usually went on in life as if nothing happened or became submissive in order to protect the family. She said that though India is nearing its 60th year of independence, women (especially in the low and middle class) have to digest the selfish acts of her parents, brothers, husband, in-laws, relatives and surprisingly, their children(for whom they would have spent most of their lives working and caring for). This is an appalling condition but how do we find the solution? The only solution that I can think of is to make a person (man or woman) become independent, both financially and emotionally, irrespective of their age. This is possible only when proper education is given to them. By education, I mean the training given to human mind to think and analyze a problem in any given situation. There is no guarantee that this would become possible once a person goes to school and becomes literate. But, this would atleast pave way for the people to read more, know more and, eventually, understand more. This is the long term solution to the problem.
A short term solution to the problem is to reduce the closeness with the person A and try to see to it that we are not affected by A’s selfishness. Also, it is necessary for us to tell A that his/her attitude stinks because of his/her selfishness and that the main reason for the split up in the relations is his/her selfishness. That should make them realize their own folly and atleast be better behaved in their future endeavors. Simply put, move away from them. We, too, would be paying a heavy price. The closer we are, heavier the price. However, realizing the person is selfish and moving away now is better than keeping mum now and suffering more later. What say, friends?
PS: A word about the online history and actual comments contradicting each other. Most of my classmates and friends who read my blog are comment-shy and prefer to give me their comments over phone(sms is the most favored medium) or in person. There were a few who even scrapped me or mailed me. Thanks a lot for your responses. I was able to gauge the way people actually deal with a mental ugliness. Thankfully, most of them were ready to accept it and fight it out rather than actually ignoring and denying it.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
This is going to be a quiz post( or a post quiz???) Please leave me your answers as comments. Don't worry. This is not going to test your grey matter(Sorry, AB! I know you were waiting for a chance to flaunt yours... But not here and certainly not now). This is more to do with what you think is the right thing to do in a certain circumstance. Ok, no more suspense! Here goes:
My sis and me were having one of our petty arguments(we prefer to call them intellectual debates. My mom has an entirely different opinion though! ;)) We were deep into some psychological stuff and were trying to prove Sigmund Freud right or wrong. Our maid usually overhears our conversation and she too gave valid points from time to time. Gradually, the talk turned towards selfishness and my sis and me were whole hearted in our decision(A rare thing!! But it still happened). We were about to jump to another topic when our maid threw in a few questions.
1) what would you when a person very close to you is very selfish??(you can't live without that person, atleast not in the immediate present)
a) You just accept the fact and go on in life as if nothing happened.
b) You accept the fact but become more careful in your dealings with that person(how??)
c) You try to change yourself according to that person - become too submissive
d) You try to change yourself according to that person - you too become selfish!!
e) You throw a tantrum
2) If you choose options c or d, how long would you be submissive/selfish??
a) A few days
b) a few weeks
c) 1-6 months
d) 6-12 months
e) 1-2 years
d) More than that (then it would become a part of your character)
Please do give me your comments. My views on this would be in the next post!
Monday, October 09, 2006
The first people to wish me were my parents, then came my sister, R my friend and the others one by one. Then came the calls from my granddad, my periamma, periappa, chithi, chithappa and my bro. One of the calls that I cannot forget is from my best friend from school,SK. It was great talking to her in the morning. Thanks, SK.I also got in touch with friends all over the world through mail(special mention to RKM and SG. Their wishes made me glad! U know the reason guys!) and orkut( even those with whom I was in a hi-bye position).
Then came people from the various clubs I am in and I got a load of chocolates from them. I was also wished by friends whom I knew over these four years from other departments and colleges. A pleasant surprise was from my juniors who wished me today. I never knew that they knew my bday at all. Thanks a lot to you all!
What do I feel at the threshold of this birthday? I usually try to take a good look of all things past and let go of the unpleasant things that happened that year. What is the point of having grudges all through your life? Yeah, you can call it a yearly stocktaking :) This time around, as I did that, I suddenly realized the responsibility that I would have to shoulder from this year on. Not everyone would consider me a kid with no cares in the world and would certainly expect me to pull my weight in whatever I do. Only my parents and chithis and periammas would still consider me a kid and would pamper me as they have done till now. Though I am not a person who would shirk work, I do love the flighty feeling that I get when I rebel against anything that I don't like. So far, I needn't give a reason for my behaviour because it came under the usual 'adolescent syndrome'. (My mom is a Ph.D in this and she can quote more than a hundred instances in less than ten minutes! So much for having a mom who is a professor at college and who can find out all that is going on inside me without me saying a word! So, the minute I rebel, she can pinpoint the exact reason as to why and what has irritated me and can solve it in minutes! I love you, amma for that! You've saved me from so many silly things through the years. And, that is another thing that is worrying me to the core.... So far, my mom was there to soothe any of my ruffled feelings and my dad was there to protect me from anything! Though they would still do all that, it is time I learnt to do all this on my own too. How long can I be dependent on my parents? There would come a time when I would be treated as an adult by the society(not that I am not being treated like that now, but I've still got some leeway) and then, all this would be expected out of me.. A good time to start my training ;)) But from now on, I am expected to follow the rules of the adult world and mind my p's and q's :)
Also, this birthday is extra special because this might be the last birthday that I spend in my home city. I've been here from the time I was born and am feeling sad that I would be leaving this lovely city soon. This is one place which is not too cold nor hot, not too rainy nor sunny. It has a pleasant climate all round the year. The climate is one of the main reasons why I want to settle down here after my sojourns throughout the world. Any ways, lets see how it turns out! So, right fromt the time I got up today, I've been enjoying all what I can about my city, its climate, its people and so on. I'm still doing it.
Have I changed from the last birthday I had? One of my friends asked me this question and set me thinking. Have I changed? In some ways, yes and in some ways, no. (a typical Libran answer! ;)) I have grown and met so many new people, learnt so many lessons along the way and have moulded myself to the demanding circumstances of my life in the past year. But, deep down, my value system has not changed. It has only strengthened with the exposure that I have got the past year. I have understood that the value system that my parents imparted in me in my childhood still stands true and that going by that system, I can never land in any sort of trouble or hardship(mental, physical and spiritual). My views of life haven't changed and the world is proving itself again and again regarding this.
The amount of responsibility that comes with freedom of the adult life is scary. But, as I did in my chidhood and teens, I guess I would learn along the way and would turn out alright!(hopefully).This is to all my friends who have been with me through this year: Thanks a lot, yaar! Its been a great experience in the past year. Hope we continue it next year too! Ok, I sounded a lot serious( and a bit melodramatic too in the previous sentences... But that is straight out of my heart!)
Signing off in style,
PS: I had my lab exam too today. Though I had written everything correctly, I couldn't show the output. So, God help me with it! :)
Friday, October 06, 2006
This is an actual essay written by a college applicant. The author, Hugh Gallagher, was admitted to NYU. Or so the legend goes .
In order for the admissions staff of our college to get to know you, the applicant, better, we ask that you answer the following question: Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realized, that have helped to define you as a person?
I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.
Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer, I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.
I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby d_, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair.
While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me. I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago, I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I
have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.
But I have not yet gone to college.
Kudos to the author!!!
Though I wouldn't dare to send such a SOP, it is refreshing change from the ones I'm used to reading at... and certainly better than the result of the last attempt I made at writing my own!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
This was written by someone on internet and has been going thru mailboxes all over the world. I've read it scores of times yet everytime, it brings smiles to my lips and tears to my eyes. I'm happy that I've got great friends who would come in this category and are still so.... Words fail me when I try. Friends, thanks for being there!
PS:Hats of to the original writer, wherever you are!
What Is a Friend . . .
In kindergarten your idea of a good friend was the person who let you have the red crayon when all that was left was the ugly black one.
In first grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went to the bathroom with you and held your hand as you walked through the scary halls.
In second grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you stand up to the class bully.
In third grade your idea of a good friend was the person who shared their lunch with you when you forgot yours on the bus.
In fourth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who was willing to switch square dancing partners in gym so you wouldn't have to be stuck do-si-do-ing with Nasty Nick or Smelly Susan.
In fifth grade your idea of a friend was the person who saved a seat on the back of the bus for you.
In sixth grade your idea of a friend was the person who went up to Nick or Susan, your new crush, and asked them to dance with you, so that if they said no you wouldn't have to be embarrassed.
In seventh grade your idea of a friend was the person who let you copy the social studies homework from the night before that you had.
In eighth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pack up your stuffed animals and old baseball but didn't laugh at you when you finished and broke out into tears.
In ninth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who would go to a party thrown by a senior so you wouldn't wind up being the only freshman there.
In tenth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who changed their schedule so you would have someone to sit with at lunch.
In eleventh grade your idea of a good friend was the person who gave you rides in their new car, convinced your parents that you shouldn't be grounded, consoled you when you broke up with Nick [or Drew] or Susan, and found you a date to the prom.
In twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pick out a college/university, assured you that you would get into that college/university, helped you deal with your parents who were having a hard time adjusting to the idea of letting you go.
At graduation your idea of a good friend was the person who was crying on the inside but managed the biggest smile one could give as they congratulated you.
The summer after twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you clean up the bottles from that party, helped you sneak out of the house when you just couldn't deal with your parents, assured you that now that you and Nick or you and Susan were back together, you could make it through anything, helped you pack up for university and just silently hugged you as you looked through blurry eyes at 18 years of memories you were leaving behind, and finally on those last days of childhood, went out of their way to give you reassurance that you would make it in college as well as you had these past 18 years, and most importantly sent you off to college knowing you were loved.
Now, your idea of a good friend is still the person who gives you the better of the two choices, holds your hand when you're scared, helps you fight off those who try to take advantage of you, thinks of you at times when you are not there, reminds you of what you have forgotten, helps you put the past behind you but understands when you need to hold on to it a little longer, stays with you so that you have confidence, goes out of their way to make time for you, helps you clear up your mistakes, helps you deal with pressure from others, smiles for you when they are sad, helps you become a better person, and most importantly loves you!
No matter where we go or who we become, never forget who helped us get there.
There's never a wrong time to pick up a phone or send a message telling your friends how much you miss them or how much you love them.
You know who you are, pass it on to someone who you want to remind. And thank you for being a friend . . .
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Most of my classmates don't like classes. I don't know why. I've always loved the way a lecturer takes his/her class, starting from the introduction where we get a glimpse what we would discussing the next hour or so. It is similar to the lovely smells that waft towards you when your mom prepares some delectable dish( that is why, I hate the electric chimneys! Though they are efficient and are most useful from a grownup's point of view, they don't give a person the fun of expecting the sumptuous dishes and becoming more hungry in the process... They just take off all the fumes and don't give a chance for our noses to enjoy the process too! Anyway!). Then comes the actual lecture. The professor slowly unfolds the process and helps the students to know the subject exactly as he wants them to remember it for a lifetime to come( the methods you learn in a classroom stick to you and you do it that way even if you find a better method later in life! Maybe because it is comfortable! for example, I learnt multiplications the normal way. Then, in college, one of my friends taught me the way it is done in Vedic Mathematics(I even brought a book about it)! Though it was simple, easier and faster for calculation, I still do the multiplication the old way!). Then comes the grand finale where the professor makes us understand the importance of what we have learnt and helps us fit it into the scheme of things with which we are familiar. That is the most difficult thing to do as our mind can process new information and old things separately but it cannot connect one another easily. The way the professor connects it is like connecting two exquisite embroidered work with threads that live in the background and yet make the entire work a seamless one! That should be experienced to be understood.
Though I wouldn't say that all the lectures I've attended are of the above sort, there are some professors who can make life a pure pleasure for a whole hour and keep you begging for more. There are subjects where I would touch the notes just an hour before the exams and still get an 'S' (the highest grade in our college). There are subjects where I've searched the net and scoured the library for more information in it for the pure fun of understanding more on that subject. I should thank all the professors and teachers who have given me such an experience. Some of the most memorable ones in that list are Ms.Roselyn John(my algebra teacher, who made algebra the most interesting subject for me in Maths. A terror in school, she was the best of all my middle school teachers), Ms.Anne(my history teacher in 8th. She was one who showed that history is actually fun and honed my debating skills(it helps me even now.. I can never stand the temptation of a good debate on any subject especially history, politics or religion).We discussed everything in her class.There was no taboo subject.),Ms.Vanamala(my Geography and english teacher, who saw to it that we learnt our maps right and could mark all the rivers of India correctly even in our sleep. Her grammar classes were great with the entire class wrestling with the hundred and one things in the famed "Wren and Martin" book. She was so good at it!), Mr.Govindarajan(my Maths sir who is a terror among students but who could make maths so delectable), Ms.Prethija(a teacher with a style of her own in Maths. She was great with Calculus and made us know the true powers of Calculus), Ms.Joy Violet(my Chemistry teacher who made the dry equations come alive in class and who saw to it that we loved the phenolphthalein and benzene formations as much as we loved Tendulkar and Schumi.Only in her class did I know that chemistry could be so much fun), Dr.Jayakumar( who unfolded the beauty of Physics in college),Ms.Kalpana(my Circuits teacher who showed that to succeed in ECE, what was needed was a proper understanding of fundamentals and not mindless learning of facts. I always learnt circuits only half an hour before the exam and still got an 'S' all the way through. We were so thorough with the concepts!),Mr.Sarita Kumar(a sir who made microprocessors so simple yet so powerful and found me my true love in ECE streams). There are a lot more teachers(from Ms.Magdalene to Mr.Sudhakar) who have made school and college life fun with their teachings. I could go on and on about them.
There are also staff in whose classes I've checked out my watch once every minute, yawned in front of their face and not understood one word of what they teach even if I put in my best efforts. It is kind of easy to segregate the staff into these two streams. You listen once to their class, then you'd know what grade you would get in their subjects. There are times when none of us in class would understand a word of what is being taught but would not show it for the sake of decency. But then, there are teachers who have taken this to be encouragement and have gone on and on. God forbid! in those cases :) We would take to passing chits and having fun right in front of their noses and they would be blissfully ignorant of it all. Some of my more industrious friends would finish off all the record work, obsi work and assignments during these boring lectures. They usually come with nil prep for the labs and bank on these staff for taking classes.Then, the whole class would have to bank on the notes of other class teachers. But in cases when all classes have teachers of this kind, it would be utter confusion and fun during the exam times. None of us would know what to learn and we would be as good as not having prepared anything at all. We would turn the books once and go to the examhall. We would then pray to all our Gods to pass us off in that particular subject because the entire paper would be a disaster and we would even write whatever we felt was remotely connected to it. My only thankfulness is that I've not had such staff many times, maybe once or twice(like Ms.S who took maths in 3rd semester or Ms.R).
Now, I want to attend all the classes that we have till the end of semester. Who knows if I would ever get the opportunity to sit in a class again and listen to lectures of any kind? So, now that the time is limited, I'm having an insatiable hunger to attend all the classes :) If all goes right, I might have classes in my Masters in some univ in US. If not, I would have to work in office and forget about classroom scenario for sometime. Till the time when we didn't know the end, we were bored with classes and wanted to finish them. But now, knowing that I have only a handful more classes to go, I want to make the full use of it. One more time to rise up when the prof comes in, one more time to scream your number for attendance, one more time to see a proxy being given(and a lot more sometimes),one more time to pass the chits(sometimes entire notebooks) among friends, one more time to hear SRR commenting on one and all, one more time to have small talk with AG,HI,CR,KV and AB, one more time to see AS nod off,one more time to see P and Rapri messaging to all and sundry, one more time to see AN take notes diligently, one more time to sleep when the OHPs are used, one more time to whisper answers to help friends when asked questions and one more time to close the note in relief. One more time to have all this fun!
Though I know that life goes on and that we have to move on in life, these things will always bring a smile on your face whenever we think of it. I'm sure each of us would have had great fun in class whichever age we were in. I love both my class of 10th and the class of IVth year though they are as different as chalk and cheese. I'm actually sad that I'm going to miss all of them(had someone said this to me some months back, I would have laughed in their faces!)I'm ready for the real world yet a part of me would still love going to classes(as I've done for the past 16 years). These things would forever remain in our memories. They would still have the sweet fragrance of our youth even when our hair turns grey and finally, white. A part of our souls would remain with our classrooms even we have passed and gone. Ok! now, I've got to go into another of my last classes. Ciao!
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I want to thank all my friends and other unknown people who have forwarded chain letters to me in 2003, 2004 & 2005 and 2006.
Because of your kindness:
I stopped drinking Coca-Cola after I found out that it's good only for removing toilet stains.
I stopped going to the movies for fear of sitting on a needle infected with AIDS
I smell like a wet dog since I stopped using deodorants because they cause cancer.
I also stopped answering the phone for fear that they may ask me to dial a stupid number and then I get a phone bill from hell with calls to Uganda, Singapore and Tokyo.
I also stopped drinking water outside for fear that I will get sick from the rat shit and urine.
When I go to parties, I don't look at any girl, no matter how hot she is, for fear that she will take me to a hotel, drug me, then take my kidneys and leave me taking a nap in a bathtub full of ice.
I also donated all my savings to the Amy Bruce account. A sick girl that was about to die in the hospital about 7,000 times. (Poor girl! she's been 7 since 1993...)
My free Nokia phone never arrived and neither did the free passes for a paid vacation to Disneyland.
Made some Hundred wishes before forwarding those Dalai Lama, Ganesh Vandana, Tirupathi Balaji pics etc..
Now most of those "Wishes" are already married (to someone else)!
You can add your own notes based on your similar experience and send them to your friends.
If ORKUT deletes my account, it doesn't matter BUT PLEASE DON'T SEND me "Orkut is
deleting accounts: Due to sudden rush..." Otherwise I'll delete my E-Mail account!
If you do not send this e-mail to at least 913760 people in the next 10 seconds, a bird will shit on your head today at 6:30 p.m.
Give me a break!!
Monday, September 18, 2006
Death is a sudden twist in the journey of life, taking us to the beyond from all that we trust and care, know and love, feel and foster. Though it has been said that death is another great journey for the well trained mind, it is not taken in the same sense by ordinary human beings( maybe that is what makes them ordinary!). Today I could see the cold sanctifying touch of Death on a happy family of which one of my friends was a part. My friend's dad passed away today morning and we had gone to their place to pay our last respects to the deceased. Though I had not met her parents earlier or gone to her home before, I could feel the sorrow engulfing me into the surrounding. I could feel her pain and empathise with her.
I went into denial when my granny died. I couldn't accept the fact that she was dead. Though my mind knew that she is no more in the world, my heart tended to believe that she was somewhere in this world where I cannot contact her. The truth took time to sink in and it did pain a lot! Though I was out of the denial mode, it didn't affect my day to day activities. Just that, when I see something which is my gran's favorite, I remember her and when I need a wise counsel, I try to think what advice she would've given had she been here. Other than that, I don't feel pain now, only a sad sense of loss! However, my family has never been the same again after the cold touch of Death. It has sanctified all of us in some way and made us grow up in a day. I could see the amount of maturity that came into my kid brother the day she died. The first twenty years of my life was not touched by sorrow and now that it has been, life is not the same anymore!
Death teaches each one of us various things. This death reiterated the fact that life is no more than a wisp of air that makes the journey to the lungs and back. What if this wisp suddenly doesn't go in or come out? Pretty scary, huh? True! I once read a proverb somewhere "Plan life as if you would live for thousand years but live life as if you die the next day". How true!! Who can say for sure if we would be alive the next moment, the next hour, the next day? But how many hard feelings, jealousy and carelessness do we employ in our day to day life making it more and more difficult for us to enjoy each living moment with our loved ones? We give an unnecessarily important place for our egos in our daily life and bloat the situation to such an extent that our relationships go to the point of no return messing what would otherwise have been a happy moment forever in memory.
I have only one request to make to the readers. Vaazhkai romba anithyamaanathu! (Life is very mercurious!) So, live life to the fullest with your loved ones. Hug them and show your love for them because they may not be around the next time. Patch up old quarrels and renew old relationships. Even if it is just a hi, it may mean the world to some one. Your smile could light up someone's day. So, go and live life, in any way you think is right! Don't waste your time in petty squabbles! So long, mates!!
Saturday, September 16, 2006
This was an excerpt from an article/write up that I came across in my internet search for various stuff. It looks interesting and would surely help everyone(atleast those who are confused whether to take MS(finishable in two years) or PhD(aid is sure but takes atleast 5 years). We Indians would love to combine both :) but that is not possible.) I myself was in such a confusion earlier and had to have a dose of common sense from my family(especially my dad) and well meaning friends to come to a conclusion. This article further strengthened it :) Hope it helps others too!
Notes On The PhD Degree
These notes provide basic information about the purpose of a Ph.D. program in an attempt to help students decide whether to pursue a Ph.D. degree.
A Doctor of Philosophy degree is the highest academic degree anyone can earn. Because earning a Ph.D. requires extended study and intense intellectual effort, less than one percent of the population attains the degree. Society shows respect for a person who holds a Ph.D. by addressing them with the title "Doctor".
To earn a Ph.D., one must accomplish two things. First, one must master a specific subject completely. Second, one must extend the body of knowledge about that subject.
Mastering A Subject
To master a subject, a student searches the published literature to find and read everything that has been written about the subject. In scientific disciplines, a student begins by studying general reference works such as text books. Eventually, the student must also search scholarly journals, the publications that scientists use to exchange information and record reports of their scientific investigations.
Each university establishes general guidelines that a student must follow to earn a Ph.D. degree, and each college or department within a university sets specific standards by which it measures mastery of a subject. Usually, in preparing for Ph.D. work in a given field, a student must earn both a Bachelor's and Master's degree (or their equivalent) in that field or in a closely related field. To demonstrate complete mastery of the subject, a student may be required to complete additional graduate-level courses, maintain a high grade average, or take a battery of special examinations. In many institutions, students must do all the three.
Because examinations givan as part of a Ph.D. curriculum assess expert knowledge, they are created and evaluated by a committee of experts, each of whom holds a Ph.D. degree.
The essence of a Ph.D., the aspect that distinguishes Ph.D. study from other academic work, can be summarized in a single word: research. To extend knowledge, one must explore, investigate, and contemplate. The scientific community uses the term research to capture the idea.
In scientific disciplines, research often implies experimentation, but research is more than mere experiments -- it means interpretation and deep understanding. For Computer Scientists, research means searching to uncover the principles that underlie digital computation and communication. A researcher must discover new techniques that aid in building or using computational mechanisms. Researchers look for new abstractions, new approaches, new algorithms, new principles, or new mechanisms.
To complete a Ph.D., each student must present results from their research to the faculty in a lengthy, formal document called a dissertation (more popularly referred to as a thesis). The student must then submit their dissertation to the faculty and defend their work an oral examination.
Relationship To Products
In some cases, the results of scientific research can be used to develop new products or improve those that exist. However, scientists do not use commercial success or potential commercial profits as a measure of their work; they conduct investigations to further human understanding and the body of knowledge humans have compiled. Often, the commercial benefits of scientific research are much greater in the long-term than in the short-term.
Computer Science research can include such diverse activities as designing and building new computer systems, proving mathematical theorems, writing computer software, measuring the performance of a computer system, using analytical tools to assess a design, or studying the errors programmers make as they build a large software system. Because a researcher chooses the activities appropriate to answer each question that arises in a research investigation, and because new questions arise as an investigation proceeds, research activities vary from project to project and over time in a single project. A researcher must be prepared to use a variety of approaches and tools.
A Few Questions To Ask
Many of you are trying to decide whether to pursue a Ph.D. degree. Here are a few questions you might ask yourself.
1. Do you want a research career?
Before enrolling in a Ph.D. program, you should carefully consider your long-term goals. Because earning a Ph.D. is training for research, you should ask yourself whether a research position is your long-term goal. If it is, a Ph.D. degree is the standard path to your chosen career (a few people have managed to obtain a research position without a Ph.D., but they are the exception, not the rule). If, however, you want a non-research career, a Ph.D. is definitely not for you.
2. Do you want an academic position?
A Ph.D. is the de facto ``union card'' for an academic position. Although it is possible to obtain an academic position without a Ph.D., the chances are low. Major universities (and most colleges) require each member of their faculty to hold a Ph.D. and to engage in research activities. Why? To insure that the faculty have sufficient expertise to teach advanced courses and to force faculty to remain current in their chosen field. The U.S. State Department diplomatic protocol ranks the title ``professor'' higher than the title ``doctor''. It does so in recognition of academic requirements: most professors hold a Ph.D., but not all people who hold a Ph.D. degree are professors.
3. Do you have what it takes?
It is difficult for an individual to assess their own capabilities. The following guidelines and questions may be of help.
In your college and graduate courses, were you closer to the top of your class or the bottom? How well did you do on the GRE or other standardized tests?
Are you prepared to tackle a project larger than any you have undertaken before? You must commit to multiple years of hard work. Are you willing to reduce or forego other activities?
Research discoveries often arise when one looks at old facts in a new way. Do you shine when solving problems? Do you like ``brain teasers'' and similar puzzles? Are you good at solving them? In school, did you find advanced mathematics enjoyable or difficult?
Have you always been compelled to understand the world around you and to find out how things work? A natural curiosity makes research easier. Did you fulfill minimum requirements or explore further on your own?
Most students are unprepared for Ph.D. study. They find it unexpectedly different than course work. Suddenly thrust into a world in which no one knows the answers, students sometimes flounder. Can you adapt to new ways of thinking? Can you tolerate searching for answers even when no one knows the precise questions?
By the time a student finishes an undergraduate education, they have become accustomed to receiving grades for each course each semester. In a Ph.D. program, work is not divided neatly into separate courses, professors do not partition tasks into little assignments, and the student does not receive a grade for each small step. Are you self-motivated enough to keep working toward a goal without day-to-day encouragement?
If you choose to enroll in a Ph.D. program, you will compete with others at the top. More important, once you graduate, your peers will include some of the brightest people in the world. You will be measured and judged in comparison to them. Are you willing to compete at the Ph.D. level?
Compared to coursework, which is carefully planned by a teacher, Ph.D. study has less structure. You will have more freedom to set your own goals, determine your daily schedule, and follow interesting ideas. Are you prepared to accept the responsibility that accompanies the additional freedoms? Your success or failure in Ph.D. research depends on it.
A few warnings:
Students sometimes enroll in a Ph.D. program for the wrong reasons. After a while, such students find that the requirements overwhelm them. Before starting one should realize that a Ph.D. is not:
Prestigious in itself
Almost everyone who has obtained a Ph.D. is proud of their efforts and the result. However, you should understand that once you graduate, you will work among a group of scientists who each hold a Ph.D. degree. (One faculty member used to chide arrogant graduate students by saying, ``I don't see why you think it's such a great accomplishment -- all my friends have a Ph.D!'').
A guarantee of respect for all your opinions
Many students believe that once they earn a Ph.D. people will automatically respect all their opinions. You will learn, however, that few people assume a Ph.D. in one subject automatically makes you an authority on others. It is especially true in the science communicaty; respect must be earned.
A goal in itself
A Ph.D. degree prepares you for research. If all you want is a diploma to hang on the wall, there are much easier ways to obtain one. After you graduate, you will have occasion to compare your record of accomplishment to those of other scientists. You will realize that what counts is the research work accumulated after a scientist finishes their formal education.
A job guarantee
When an economy slows, everyone can suffer. In fact, some companies reduce research before they reduce production, making Ph.D.s especially vulnerable. Furthermore, once a person earns a Ph.D., many companies will not hire that person for a non-research position. As in most professions, continued employment depends on continued performance.
A practical way to impress your family or friends
Your mother may be proud and excited when you enroll in a Ph.D. program. After all, she imagines that she will soon be able to brag about her child, ``the doctor.'' However, a desire to impress others is insufficient motivation for the effort required.
Something you can ``try'' to find out how smart you are
Sorry, but it just doesn't work that way. Unless you make a total commitment, you will fail. You will need to work long hours, face many disappointments, stretch your mental capabilities, and learn to find order among apparently chaotic facts. Unless you have adopted the long-range goal of becoming a researcher, the day-to-day demands will wear you down. Standards will seem unnecessary high; rigor will seem unwarranted. If you only consider it a test, you will eventually walk away.
The only research topic you will ever pursue
Many students make the mistake of viewing their Ph.D. topic as a research area for life. They assume each researcher only works in one area, always pursues the same topic within that area, and always uses the same tools and approaches. Experienced researchers know that new questions arise constantly, and that old questions can become less interesting as time passes or new facts are discovered. The best people change topics and areas. It keeps them fresh and stimulates thinking. Plan to move on; prepare for change.
Easier than entering the work force
You will find that the path to successful completion of a Ph.D. becomes much steeper after you begin. The faculty impose constraints on your study, and do not permit unproductive students to remain in the program.
Better than the alternatives
For many students, a Ph.D. can be a curse. They must choose between being at the top among people who hold a Masters degree or being a mediocre researcher. The faculty sometimes advise students that they must choose between being ``captain of the B team'' or a ``benchwarmer'' on the A team. Everyone must decide what they want, and which profession will stimulate them most. But students should be realistic about their capabilities. If you really cannot determine where you stand, ask faculty members.
A way to make more money
While we haven't heard any statistics for the past couple of years, graduate students used to estimate the ``payoff'' using the starting salaries of Ph.D. and M.S. positions, the average time required to obtain a Ph.D., the value of stock options, and current return on investments. For a period of at least five years that we know, the payoff was clearly negative. Suffice it to say that one must choose research because one loves it; a Ph.D. is not the optimum road to wealth.
The good news:
Despite all our warnings, we are proud that we earned Ph.D. degrees and proud of our research accomplishments. If you have the capability and interest, a research career can bring rewards unequaled in any other profession. You will meet and work with some of the brightest people on the planet. You will reach for ideas beyond your grasp, and in so doing extend your intellectual capabilities. You will solve problems that have not been solved before. You will explore concepts that have not been explored. You will uncover principles that change the way people use computers.
The joy of research:
A colleague summed up the way many researchers feel about their profession. When asked why he spent so many hours in the lab, he noted that the alternatives were to go home, where he would do the same things that millions of others were doing, or to work in his lab, where he could discover things that no other human had ever discovered. The smile on his face told the story: for him, working on research was sheer joy.
Monday, September 04, 2006
[Introspective post alert: Not for the weak at heart!]
What is life? This is a question that has been rankling me for the past few days. It is so difficult to find a comprehensive answer to this question that even great seers and wise men and women down the ages have failed to reach a conclusion, or they have reached their own conclusions based on their personal experiences. In this, they are not unlike the common man who decides something or forms an opinion based on some experience he had had in life.
Now, why did I go to such a contemplative mood? I ran into one of my school friends who has played with me, learnt lessons with me and generally had fun in school. She is one who could see the comical view of any situation. But then, she was not academically inclined and preferred the company of other stuff to books(my exact opposite!) Then came end of school and we parted ways. What do you talk to a person with whom you’ve lost touch over 6 or 7 years? Naturally, you update yourself with information(whether that information would be useful, that is a difficult question to answer!) Then comes an eerie silence when both of you, now mature individuals, try to recreate the old times air but are too deeply mired into the present to do so. This is more so when the person in question is not your best chum(with whom you could go on and on about anything) or a person so less known that you can say a quick hi and bye! So, after the usual ritual of exchanging info, we were stuck in that silence. To me, she looked like the girl I had left in my 8th or 9th standard. It never stuck me that she would have had other experiences which would have molded her to what she is today. It was the same to her. She knew me only as the fun loving person who used to make the lunch hours memorable with her jokes and antics. Whether she was expecting me to pull out any tricks now, I don’t know. But she was clearly surprised by the way I handled the matter in the call which I received in the middle of our conversation. She remarked that I had changed and said “So goes life”. Now what was this? I never found anything different in me! I am the way I was and am.
On retrospection, I found a great deal of truth in her statement. We do expect our friends and others to remain the same as we had left them(more so with our childhood friends, we expect them to maintain the same childlike qualities they had when we parted. It is kind of difficult to accept that the girl who played tag with you is a happily married lady catering to the needs of her husband and in-laws and expecting her first child.) It does not strike us (atleast me till this meeting) that they would have faced different experiences and changed their personalities(though the basic characteristics cannot be changed. Or, can they?) Had I been the person in 8th, I would have danced in the rain for the news that came. But, two years in Avila and four years in college has taught me more and steadied me. It has taught me to take things lightly, come rain or sunshine.
It was the same with her. For me, marriage is a very big step(to be taken only when I achieve my self set goals of studies and career). It is a commitment which I am not ready to make for now. But, for her, it is life now. Her life revolves around her husband, his needs, her in-laws, their needs and so on. True, I too might reach such a stage sometime in life. But not this young! She laughs when I tell her of the plans I have for future and the expectations I have about life. Her expectations from life now are totally different. She was the same person who played with me after school hours, who shared the canteen samosa with me and built dream castles of winning the public exams hand in hand. She was the last person I could imagine clad in a traditional sari settled well ahead of any of us in our class. I finally wanted to ask her, in no uncertain terms, what happened to the dreams we had shared in school. But then, I knew that that question would have led to untrodden paths which both of us have no need for. When it is kind of difficult to explain the changes occurring in the people you meet in daily life over a period of years, it would be, no doubt, a Herculean task to do it for people not seen for six years. Further, though she is my chum, I suddenly felt a strange sense of detachment which is hard to explain. She was the same person about whom I cared for (even how she spent her time on Sundays and planned our weekday activities together). But now, I know that I can’t care for her in that sense. Though my care for her still remains, it has taken a different dimension. I now care that she leads a happy life with her husband and kid, a healthy and prosperous one with no shadows in the path she walks. Guess, this is life!
Friday, August 25, 2006
I've written the Cisco experiences as it was! Atleast it would be a fun thing to read some months hence. So, people who are interested to know how I prepared, go to the first post which might not be much but it'll give you a fair idea. For those who want to know how the actual interview was, read the second post and for those interested in knowing about the celebrations and scouring for tips and tricks( atleast those I followed), check out the third post. Do tell me your suggestions and comments on these posts.
The good news first! I got an internship in Cisco along with 12 of my collegemates( including 3 of my department mates and 1 of my classmates who is a whiz in Linux( Balaaji, u got that??) ). I'm also happy that one of my friends has got an internship along with me. She has been with me from my 11th standard and I've never seen a person more patient( remember, I need loads of patience??), more objective in her views and more task oriented. I've also never seen a better handwriting ( can anyone write as if it has been printed as in a book? She can) and have fallen in love with her handwriting right in 11th standard(S, do u remember the first day I saw ur note and stood as if lightning had struck me and I kept on looking at ur note in awe?) and am still going strong even after nearly six years! I could go on and on about her!
Now comes the great news! I got my job confirmed in Cisco with 4 of my collegemates( one guy from csc and 3 guys from SW EEE, making me the only girl into Cisco!) Sadly, my friends in my dept couldn't make it. But knowing them and their skills and innate talents, I'm sure we would all end up as collegues. Or, who knows? Some other lucky company might seize them too! Ok! How did the recruitment process go? Here is an account! I was in the mood of getting a dual after I came back from the Tanjore trip. So, I was ready( mentally, whether I was ready with the knowledge needed for that? That is a different question. And a very difficult one to answer! I still think I don't know enough to be worthy of the money I would be getting. But that is an entirely different issue!) I decided I would sit for any company that would come next. The only criteria I had was that there should not be any bond or any such stuff. Luckily, Cisco came the next week itself! I came to know of it on sunday and I had two days for prep. I wasn't interested in sitting for Honeywell internships because I wanted to finish the entire dual in one shot and not split into internship first and then a job! The main reason was I didn't have time.
I enlisted my friend's help in preparation.She is a genius in helping me find out where I am at my best, where I should improve and where I should really sit with the book( or a whiz like her!) and start from the basics! R helped me to segregate stuff into what I can breeze through even at the eleventh hour( just one!), what I can put off till the last day(a very small pile) and what I had to do then and there! ( a very large pile compared to the other two. I had neglected my academics for quite some time now!) So sweet of her, she had come out of her celebrations (she is into Delphi, she had got in only last week) and helped me find my footing from Salem.
Then, I attacked the largest pile one by one. Though I was tempted by novels by Anuthama( a very famous Tamil novelist), I vowed that I won't touch a book until I'm done with Cisco's test, whatever be the result! That was a very huge motivator( scary motivator in fact! :) )and I started work seriously. And, R has an uncanny sense of finding out exactly what is it that I learnt and bluffed my way through even when she is miles away! Guess that is part of the friendship package! ;) She somehow helped me dissolve a part of the large pile. By then, it was tuesday evening! I only had time to do the small pile and the one subject. So, I conveniently forgot about the remaining part of the large pile and went on to the small pile. Here too, I studied as if I do for my semesters ( where I study sincerely for an hour, watch tv or laze around for an hour and eat and sleep for an hour! That has pulled me through my entire college life! I have no idea of changing that pattern!) and my mother thought that the test had been postponed to some day next week and that was why I was lazing around! ( I should tell something about my parents here. They are very hardworking and have given me loads of freedom and allow me to innovate and experiment all I want! So, she wouldn't even mind if I had got it into my mind that I had to watch a movie before every test! ( I even tried that in my third semester. Sadly, that didn't yield good results!)). Then, I finished the small pile and went to catch some beauty sleep.
to be continued.....
I then went the next day dressed up for the test and interview. I also had to meet a friend of mine. So, I thought "Atleast the dress won't go waste either way". We had a ppt in Assembly hall ( I should tell something here about the people from Cisco! In most of the ppts I've seen, the ppt would start atleast half an hour later than the scheduled time! And, it would be so unprofessional! But Cisco started it exactly at 9 and that was a good impression formed!) . The ppt was good and I was having fun with DS( from IT) and Pi( from EEE) (these girls are hardworking and brilliant. They came the whole journey with me to the interview but couldn't make it! Guess a better company awaits them!) right in the second row under the glaring eyes of the placement officer and all the prs(placement representatives of each class!). Then the ppt ended and we had a test for about an hour where we had questions from aptitude, OS, microprocessors, data structures(my weak point!!) and so much more. The test was ok but I felt that I couldv'e done better.I was even in the idea of going and meeting my friend as planned because I was very unsure of the written test.
Pi came and discussed some network topics with me. By then, my own classmates had gone to class and I was done with lunch too! So, I thought that I might not get it and why waste my attendance and why not atleast have my physical presence in class? So, I went to class and was sitting there thumbing through my brand new copy of Tanenbaum( a networking book every final year student worth his/her salt should know... And I hadn't known even a quarter of it. That is the case now too!) Then, I got the golden message from Andrew, my pr( A very accomodative and hardworking guy who can stand the whims and fancies of everyone, right from the placement officer to the last person in our class! We are lucky we got you and Ramanan, Andrew! Hats off to you!). He just said that my slot was at 9 in the night. Soon I was asking all details about others who got through and their respective slots. He said that Aravind, Balaji, Sharanyaa and Srikant were in along with me! My joy knew no bounds because all these people are really good at what they are(though some of them dont know or accept it!) and I was sure that our dual count was going to increase by 5.( I'm very particular that our dual count increases quickly! Would like to beat our seniors record and make them proud of us! That is how PSG Tech is! That is our strength!)
Andrew then came to class and rescued us from the normal life and then there was no looking back! Balaji's slot was at 5.30, Aravind and Srikant had it at 8.15 and Sharu had it at 9.30 the next day! And I was slated at 9 pm. Pi was to go in at 3.30 and DS at 4.30. The guys went to their room, Sharu to her home and me to the waiting hall. Pi came there, all ready for the interview and we discussed a bit more about networks. Then, finally,I went home with DV and she went in for the interview. I came home and had a good sleep! (Don't ask me how I managed that in the tension that I had! I have one saving grace. I can sleep in any situation if I make up my mind to! (But that is the difficult part! says my heart knowingly!))
I got up at 5.30 and called up Venkatesan and my friends who were out of the interview about the general questions and their experiences. I then thumbed through the electron devices book( it takes about a month, minimum, to learn it! And I was done in half an hour! You can imagine how fast I would've gone through the details. It was a waste of half an hour. But I did it anyway because ED was a larger chunk of my large pile and I would atleast have the false satisfaction of finishing it. Why deny this small happiness to my own self when I would have to bank on my innate skills to pull me through the next few hours? Then, I got ready and my dad dropped me in college. I went to the placement cell and saw a few of my classmates there. Not a girl was in sight! I sighed and sat down with my stuff. However, I didn't have lots of time to brood! Srikant and Aravind went in and then myself and Karthik from IT were called in for the HR interview which consisted of an essay(wow!!) and a few questions!( I could manage HR). The HR was good and I wrote a good essay( that was the fun part of the interview! One in which I was apt and could do a good work.) HR was at 8.30 and the lady (Aparna ) was sweet! She was very talented and diplomatic too!
I finally came out at 9.00 PM and was sent immediately to technical interview where I had Ekanth and Ram interviewing me. It was ok. They concentrated onto projects I had done, C, networking basics and data structures( my Waterloo!! I made scary mistakes here! Hadn't I done others in a fair manner, they wouldv'e thrown me out! Because data structures is one field where you prove your analytical ability and it requires a certain type of mind( to think in terms of data structures) and loads of practice/exposure. About the first, I don't know if I have it and about the second, I never really had the time to do it. So, I was in a fix about this! People reading this post and planning for their interviews, please please spend loads of time getting your data structures right, right from the algorithms to the actual way of writing the code in any language of your choice! ( C is good, C++ is very good, Java is cool!!!)) Then, technical interview was over in about 50 minutes and I was out of the room by 9.50. Thankfully, Srikant and AK2 were there and they escorted me safely to the gate and waited along with me until my dad came along.
I reached home at about 10.10, gave a report of what happened to my family, R, Sharu and others and fell into bed thanking my lucky stars that I hadn't atleast messed up the interview( as I have a habit of doing!!) It was a dreamless sleep ( I usually have loads of interesting dreams!) and I woke up the next day and felt that I had given it my best shot and the rest rested with the Supreme Power! I then got ready for the routine life. Suddenly, I had a call from Andrew asking me to come for ANOTHER interview at 9.45. He didn't know what the interview was for. But he said that only I was called back. I started having my own doubts if the interview scene I had felt was only my dream and if I was going to face the actual interview only now. So, I checked the golden message Andrew had sent me and got it confirmed from my family that it was not a dream( because, had it been a dream, they wouldn't have known the details, right?). Then, I got confused as to why I was being called back. Then, I got scared thinking it might be another technical session( I was lucky the first time, but would I be the same way every time???). I then got heartened thinking that may be the HR personnel wanted to hear my golden voice (this is too much! even I know it) and that was why she called. Finally, I was puzzled and it was an enigma I had to break.
I went back to the placement office, saw Sharu finish her rounds and was chatting with her! By now, it was so enigmatic that I would've just walked in and asked them why they had wanted me in again. There were so many possibilities and my brain was working overtime producing ever so many! I also confused DS by telling all about it and scared the poor girl out of her wits. Then, finally, they called me. It was another technical round and I floundered because of my brain being tired from the overwork it had done earlier( remember finding the possibilities??) and answered incoherently. Had it been my first, then I would have kissed the entire show a good bye! Thankfully, it was my second and the panel understood that I wasn't in my element and gave me a glove hand approach. I came out and lost hope! I also was consoling Sharu because she was also not satisfied with her performance. Once out of the room, my brain started working! ( I wonder if it was the room or if my brain needed some startup time!) I made so many statistics and probability calculations and tried to convince Sharu that she would get through. So, I didn't have loads of time to think about myself.
to be continued....