A random collection of Reflections on my experience of life...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Of the era that was and the age that is: electronics

Its funny that I pen down a title like that (above) when what I really intend to do is write about my experience at Pilani during my summer internship.

In one way, May 15 - July 15 brought about a myriad of experiences, each unique in its own right.
Although this fact alone should have accounted for my jubilation when I first received my confirmation mail, the fact that it is one of our reputed research institutes got me excited.
Pilani is about 5 hours from Delhi - by road - and there is no other means of transport to get there. So, after a 5 hour grueling bus journey, I finally arrive at my destination: A land full of camels and the desert wind. The land of the Rajahs, as they say, and the town for education - Pilani. It took me a bit of time to adjust to the extreme climate, not to mention that adjusting with peacocks as your friendly neighbourhood stray animal was a pretty formidable task in itself! An oasis in a desert, It could put many fairylands to shame.

Of course the most striking factor about the place was the pace of its functioning. Time would literally stay still as you would take your own sweet time to adjust and go on.
Hardly a few days of stay, and I was already convinced that I had entered a new world.

And then, I was proved wrong when I entered CEERI - the real new world! A lot more than what it appears on first sight: A modest research institute established under the CSIR. The History attached with the place is compelling: A lot of technical breakthroughs without which the country would probably have had to shelve lumps of money for technology transfer; and of course, live without television! But again it was a new experience, a new way of life and a new world to enter.

A glimpse into the developments that are going on here, and I begin to wonder about the era that was and the age that is: electronics. Since the turn of the century we have had numerous breakthroughs and path breaking findings, even revolutionary progress; yet we seek to answer the same fundamental questions and are groping for the still more fundamental answers.
One begins to question the nature of revolutions themselves, based on the scope that they claim to affect.

"New hopes, new styles, and, most important, a new way of seeing. Revolutions do not come piecemeal. One account on nature replaces another. Old problems are seen in new light. Something takes place that resembles a whole industry retooling for new production. It is rather as if the professional community had been suddenly transported to another planet where familiar objects are seen in a different light and are joined by unfamiliar ones as well." - CHAOS, James Gleick

And this is the situation that people at CEERI try to address and bring about all the time. We may talk about the next big breakthrough, the next big Silicon revolution, even path breaking findings that may allow us to look back and laugh at what we currently regard as the highest achievements we have made.
Yet, in the foreseeable future, I cant help but see a fraction of us smirk at those who laugh, for we still, as always will, remain in an endless pursuit of answering the fundamental questions that stare at us.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A new start

Lights go out, and I cant be saved
Waves that I tried to swim against
have drowned me in this sea of change

Long time to cover up, lots of spaces to fill in but the composition more or less sums it up. Last couple of months have been a helluva lot of first-time-experiences jam packed into one hell of a ride.

Well, lets see, It all started last semester with the Imagine cup national finals. In concurrence with murphy's laws, it happened to be bang in the middle of our compre exams and we had to be given a makeup for it. The going was great, though not amazing, we managed to get our project working despite faulty net connections, Windows config problems, many of those [dangerous bugs that dig their tentacles deep into your app and plan to surface at the perfect time they could cause the maximum possible damage], and of course, pathetic luck. It was pretty amazing, believe me, the we finally did get it working on d D-day! The ordeal went fine, and as luck has it, we managed to come second (well actually, its National first runner-up, to be precise :)).

Experience is the only thing that one can take out of time spent. This summer found me as a project trainee at CEERI, Pilani. A fresh experience - that; besides the rajasthan climate, that is. (The hottest place ive ever been, and probably will ever be: regularly touched 48+ degrees in d aft). But you cant take the credit away from the land of the 'rajahs', an oasis in the desert, swarming with peacocks as your friendly neighbourhood animal. And of course, the camels.
It really does put fairylands to shame, doesnt it?

Well, I did manage to get out of fairytale and back to reality, and gladly! Now I have a fresh semester to face and the entire 3rd year of college beckoning. The single most effect that this summer has had on me is the change of perspective. A fresh new way of looking at things, some say, can mean a world of difference. Change is the only thing constant and the only thing that prevails.

The all-pervasive power of change
will break you free of all your chains
and slowly, but surely, before long,
It will take you where you truly belong

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Delightful Read: The Elephant turns into a Tiger...

Very rarely do we find needles in a haystack and even rarely, gems in a stone pile. Well, I did discover a gem of an article on a wild cruize through the jungle we call the internet. Its a beautifully crafted story explaining the history and growth of India from a neutral perspective (I dont buy the we-are-the-best norm without substantiating :)).

Oh, and btw this one is written by Shashi Tharoor, India's nominee for the post of UN secG. Happy Reading!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Miracle of miracles! All the animals came to look, and admire. Some were afraid: imagine the strength of a tiger within the size of an elephant! What would happen to the rest of the jungle? Others said there was no reason to worry: whatever stripes she grew, the elephant would always be an elephant at heart

Once upon a time, in a hot and humid jungle (though one with stretches known better for heat and dust), there lived an old elephant. She was a big, slow, lumbering elephant, with a long but not always happy history, and it was widely accepted that she had known better days.

She was prone, the other animals knew, to lie back and scratch herself and talk nostalgically about the glorious past, her great accomplishments in times long gone by, but when the other animals listened they did not forget that that was really a long time ago.

After all, for some time, the elephant's own stretch of the jungle had come under the sway of a fierce lion from far away. Despite her size and strength, the elephant had proved no match for the lion and had been cowed into submission, until the day when the lion, tired of subduing distant lands, had finally slunk away.

Despite this experience, the elephant tended to lecture the other animals, secure in the conviction that she had all the answers.

She would raise her trunk and trumpet her views about the right way to do things, the correct manner of living, the ideal principles according to which to organise the jungle, and the other animals would nod politely, trying not to point out that the elephant herself hadn't done all that well, and that she was visibly becoming a bit mangy and flea-infested.

She certainly was not the strongest animal in the jungle, for her way of doing things meant that she did not grow as big and strong as she might have. (The other animals, not entirely kindly, spoke somewhat patronisingly of "the elephant's rate of growth").

She was large, of course, and that meant she could never be entirely ignored; as she came steadily, unblinkingly (and unthinkingly) on, the smaller animals at least had to get out of the way. But the number of animals who did as she did, and lived as she told them to, dwindled with each passing season.

In another part of the jungle, to the south-east, another group of animals was faring much better than our elephant. They were a sleek band of tigers, their stripes glistening in the sun that seemed inevitably to shine on their patch of forest.

The tigers were lithe and well-muscled; they ate well, they bounded about, and they grew strong and contented. While tourists still came occasionally to photograph the elephant, the tigers attracted swarms of visitors, who took pictures and films which framed the tigers' fearful symmetry.

The visitors also gushed about the greenness of the grass the tigers grazed on, brought them ever more food and water, and stroked their backs till their coats glittered.

If the elephant noticed what was going on, she pretended not to; far from wondering what shoulder and what art might have twisted the sinews of the tigers' heart, she acted as if the good fortune of such small little creatures was of no consequence for an animal as large and important as an elephant.

But then, one day, she fell ill. She lay down and bellowed, until the veterinarians from the big animal hospital came running to see what the matter was.

And when they had examined her, they told her the sad truth: either she would have to change the way she was living, allow others into her jungle patch and pay attention to the needs of the other animals (needs she could help them fulfil), or she would soon have to sell her tusks to be made in-to ivory trophies for the mantelpieces of distant humans. "My tusks!" she exclaimed in consternation (and horror). "i'll never sell my tusks?!"

"Why, then," the vets said, "you must change. You must become more like the tigers." The elephant blanc-hed (which looked particularly awful under the grey pallor of her mottled skin), but said nothing. She lumbered heavily to her feet and plodded uncertainly towards her new destiny. Slowly, very slowly, but with the deliberateness for which she was known, she began to change.

As the seasons passed, the other animals began to notice that there was something different about the old elephant. She brushed off the fleas that had begun feasting on her. A certain sprightliness entered her step.

She still moved with that familiar elephantine gait, but there was a pronounced sway from side to side now, as though she was prepared to entertain all possibilities. The old fat began to give way to muscle. Her ears flapped in a way that suggested she was — surprise! — actually listening, instead of merely lecturing others.

She dipped her trunk into clean water and sprayed it liberally on herself, washing away decades of dirt and mud (though some clumps still stubbornly clung to her). She began to grow — how she began to grow! Soon the visitors started crossing over from the tigers' sanctuary to take a look.

And they started chattering to each other in excitement, since they could not believe what they were seeing. For, appearing on the elephant's back, at first faint but soon clearly visible, was the unmistakable sign of stripes.

Large, black stripes, swirling confide-ntly around her torso. And then, even as the visitors gawped with disbelief, the elephant's dirty grey skin began to acquire a distinctly golden hue.

There was no doubt about it. The elephant was becoming a tiger. Miracle of miracles! All the animals came to look, and admire. Some were afraid: imagine the strength of a tiger within the size of an elephant! What would happen to the rest of the jungle?

Others said there was no reason to worry: whatever stripes she grew, the elephant would always be an elephant at heart. And still others said, it can't last; the stripes will fade away soon enough, and we will again see the comforting sight of our old plodding, stumbling friend.

Which of the animals would be right? Who knows? Tune in a few years from now, when we will recount the next episode of our favourite animal fable.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wind Up

Found this somewhere on the web...

Wind Up

When I was young and they packed me off to school
and taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
or if they said that I was a fool.
So I left there in the morning
with their God tucked underneath my arm
their half-assed smiles and the book of rules.
So I asked this God a question
and by way of firm reply,
He said - I'm not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.
So to my old headmaster (and to anyone who cares):
before I'm through I'd like to say my prayers
I don't believe you:
you had the whole damn thing all wrong
He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.
Well you can excommunicate me on my way to Sunday school
and have all the bishops harmonize these lines
how do you dare tell me that I'm my Father's son
when that was just an accident of Birth.
I'd rather look around me - compose a better song
`cos that's the honest measure of my worth.
In your pomp and all your glory you're a poorer man than me,
as you lick the boots of death born out of fear.
I don't believe you:
you had the whole damn thing all wrong
He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A passing thought...

I sit back here in my hostel on a hot Saturday morning (did I say morning...guess its closer noon than morning..damn, time flies), one of those days you dont know how you are going to spend but you end up spending it eventually anyway; and of course at the end of a sunday you'll end up wondering
"how d hell did da weekend just fly by?"
No. The weekend din fly by. You went right through it wondering how to spend it; and realize that rather than spend the time, the time just spent you.

I know, those of you who know me will be surprised at the my renewed concern for time...but thats what this summer internship at CEERI has taught me above all. Imagine when the freedom of doing what-you-want when-you-want is suddenly snapped! you've got to adapt, adapt to the monotonic routine that is imposed upon you. And then enjoy every bit of time that you take off this routine and spend to your liking. It makes me realize the importance of the ignorance and bliss back at college.

So, here i am on a hot, rather burning hot morning an sayin to myself: whatya doin here? not that Im so busy in my summer internship, colloquially known as PS in the BITS dictionary, but again, the BITS dictionary is only for fags...thats what the IITians say..an we tell'em "you're d fags". Its funny...it reminds me of the time I went trekkin to the Pindari Glacier...we were split into "ropes" (basically teams) lead by our rope leaders who were the pro-hikers...and we used to yell to the others that we're gonna win the best-rope-award an the others just yelled back "you're the fags and fags ne'er win!"...and all the time we kept cursing ourselves for having come for this trek at all; but looking back today I can definitely say that I still cherish those 3 weeks and would do anything to get back there...among those friends, cursing the cold and warming the tent, watching the sky and admiring the dawn, cursing the water for bein so cold, and yet enjoying every bit of the experience..now unforgettable.

So! I say to myself: Whatya doin? I just finished watching a wonderful movie called "The Perfect Storm". Its wonderful not because of a Superb storyline, or excellent effects etc...Its wonderfull because its been done with great devotion. It tells you that if you really want to do something and you give it everything you've got, you'll come up with a creation that no1 will ever forget to cherish.

So I ask myself again, Whatya doin? Im Graduating. Completing 4 years of blissful (did I say that? yes I did!) existence at BITS. Its like the legions in the Roman Army, getting ready to fight, to unleash ourselves into the battlefield...yes thats right...we're like the soldiers..in the infantry...ripening our skills at training centers that we call college. We prepare to enter the battlefield that we call the world. each one will go his own way..some will be the infantry, some will be the archers, some will operate siege weaponry while others will nurse the injured; Some will lead legions, while others shall perish. Some shall expand their empire while others will surrender, some will make a mark while others shall be forgotten in anonymity. Its funny how things correlate when u compare them.

So here I am, asking myself: what am I doin? nothin much, just writin a blog entry and am nearly done with it.
What abt you?
Whatya doin?