Life@IITD

I am leading the so called “normal” life now – yeah, you guessed it right ” The Job Life”!! The one where people work like crazy on weekdays and sleep/go out for adventure activities/movie/shopping/relax with a book/eat after browsing on Zomato /read a blog like this:P, etc.  on weekends – depending on interests. The happy moment for most of us is when we get a message from your respective banks at month end; the contents of which contain a word “credited” 😛 Its a routine life, monotonous – you have to live with it. Some people like it ; but then some people also like Justin Bieber’s Baby  😉  ( On that note, I just found out a couple of days ago that the second highest viewed song on YouTube is now See You Again – actually a good idea to listen to it while writing 😉 ). OK, coming to the point .. this post is due for almost four months now ( yeah, four months since I finished my Masters in Computer technology at IIT Delhi). Just wanted to write an account of my crazy experiences @IITD….okay all right, had not written a blog post since a long time  and got no other topic in my mind ( why does this Sugar song always starts playing after See You Again)

In case you need a background on how I landed into doing Masters @IITD , you can have a look at my series of posts here. I am going to divide this post into sections each describing one aspect of my life at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi ( yeah..we should use the full name too sometimes 🙂

  1. Academics: Computer Technology was the most worked up branch for Masters when we joined ( though some friends in Power Electronics may have a different opinion :P). I am saying was because the curriculum has changed drastically starting from the batch which followed. The number of credits are reduced, labs have become optional, etc. Though I still think, we were the winners in terms of learning and also putting up more points on our CV during placements.
    • Assignments and Term-Projects: We spent our entire one year doing assignments, projects and classes.The main reason why all of us felt the “load” was that in our BTech we were not used to doing assignments like this. Most of the assignments ( in our college at least ) were written assignments where we just had to copy from two or three sites ( mainly Wikipedia 😉 ). I remember going to the Digital Electronics lab and seeing the Google Doc for the first assignment on screen which was to design a microwave controller. I had no clue how am I gonna do it…Initially, all of us thought it is impossible to do it in one day but at the end of the day all of us did submit it after completion :); such is the pressure ( or miracle ) of IIT. And yeah, I forgot to mention the most important point: you can’t copy from anywhere ..yes anywhere included Internet, your friends, your seniors submissions. Though some people in our batch thought of outsmarting the software ( and some succeed rarely ) , but I will strongly advise not to copy because if you get caught by MOSS (plagiarism detection software) you will suffer a lot. All these situations forced you to actually think and do assignments on your OWN and that is what has contributed the most to my learning curve. I especially loved doing Computer Vision and  System Software assignments. Being a person with ECE background, I was pretty apprehensive about my abilities to do programming , but I have realized of late  that their is no escape from programming anywhere. Its a tool to implement your ideas and love it or not you have to do it..you will eventually start loving it. I was just amazed with the idea that me with my laptop can do so many wonderful things and actually see its effect unlike in ECE where I used to just imagine Electromagnetic Waves and obviously, getting access and working on a chip was very difficult.
    • Courses, MTP and Professors: I enjoyed all the subjects which I studied as part of my curriculum (core courses as well as the electives which I took). My personal favorites being OS, Neural Networks, Computer Vision and Deep Learning for Vision. DBMS was also fun but for a different reason ;). The professors are good but not exceptional. It was absolute pleasure for me to attend the lectures of some professors while in others it became difficult not to yawn on the face of the professor. I always believe you do require a learning instinct and interest within yourself first rather than expecting the professor to somehow magically implant the “learning beans” inside you which will grow automatically to somehow make you love the subject and you being ‘pro’ at it. The choice of electives is mostly based on interests to the difficulty level of the course, i.e., if you want to improve your CGPA ( especially before placements ) you tend to go to a subject which will fetch you higher grades without much effort. Though personally I always prefer a subject which I am interested in more than a subject which will get me an A ( all good courses are actually difficult – but you will learn a lot from them ). Your 4th sem will go entirely in your MTech project (MTP). Again a lot of factors come into play here which primarily include your dedication and your supervisor’s impression on you. You might get frustrated at some (okay many ) occasions when you think you are doing your best still somehow not getting the desired results/ credit for your work – but that is what is research my dear 🙂download
    • TA duties: Well, there is a lot of variation in the amount and the extend of TA duties which you can get, even within the same branch.I remember having to check about 400 exam scripts of Basic Electrical Engg. as our only TA duty in the first sem ( got pizzas in the end though :P). For me, the final sem was most loaded in terms of TA duty as I had to mentor projects and take assignment vivas for two courses. Though I was liberal in marking , but its always fun to question BTech people and confuse them with the looks even if they answer a question correctly 😉
  2. Hostel : Living in hostel is always filled with pleasant memories. The late night assignments till 4 am and then rushing to classes at 8 am, finishing your browsing quota (the famous ” You are Squished ” message ), planned measures to open or download all necessary items before 1 am ( yeah the net stops working in IITD hostels after 1 am ; though WiFi in the main insti area and net in labs work 24 hours), necessary ritual to avoid Saturday lunch and endless gossiping laying in each other’s rooms were a delight. The mess food was bad/tolerable/good depending on days of the week. Staying in 3rd floor and climbing the stairs (no lift in Kailash 😦 ) especially in Delhi summer was horrible ; though coolers are now allowed inside the hostel rooms after the surprise visit by our Honourable HRD minister. You can find cats eating with you in the mess and scaring you on stairs, dogs successfully bringing down the tall dustbins kept on the hostel lobbies and shitting in your bathrooms, washing machine kept on every washroom just for display and the only laundry room in the hostel being utterly crowded so eventually you have to wash them with your own hands or else find an odd timing when you can expect to find a washing machine actually empty !! But nevertheless, how much I complain about the hostel, the fact is I like living there 🙂
  3. The Campus: The IITD campus is very small as compared to other IITs but the main advantage is its location. It is located just in the right place !! – the airport, railway station, all cool places to hangout are nearby ( yeah , with Metro everything is approachable unlike in Bangalore). The hanging spots and the birthday celebration spot ( if you don’t have lab keys) inside the campus being the WindT, CCD ..( yeah that’s all :P). Always remember that the Shani Mandir gate is more near to PVR Saket but then you don’t get autos there very often 🙂
  4. Placements: Seriously, I hated going to CSC for those tests..but now I am so happy its over :).To be honest, I am not the best person to advice you on this topic as I was not so serious about it, but yeah I always enjoying giving “gyan” to people. Just few important things to keep in mind.You will feel very bad especially in the month of November and it will seem that you will not get placed anywhere and all your tests will be screwed up, you will be able to solve just 1 question of of the 3 questions in the coding round..etc ( you know all that stuff). But just hang in there. You will definitely get placed somewhere and in a good company if you are an average student. I won’t be giving preparation tips here because the already long post will become the length of Lord of the Rings 😛 ( yeah, I crack lame jokes ).Just keep yourself physically and mentally fit during placement season and do not get affected by performance of others.
  5. Dilli-the city: Well people say a lot about Delhi being unsafe for girls and the extreme climate, but for me I love Delhi more than Bangalore. May be the reason is that I spent my beautiful college days here and may be if I worked there I would have loathed it. But irrespective of all this, Delhi is a beautiful place. There are historic monuments, malls, good food outlets, shopping paradises for girls ;), HKV, CP. The stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan – India Gate and Bangla Sahib were one of my favorite destinations.
  6. Fun times: I can’t even start describing the fun times here because it in itself needs a separate post.So, stay tuned for that 😉

Many people ask me why do companies pay so much to IITans? Why are the companies biased? What is so special in them? Well what I feel is that the competitive environment changes the mental attitude of the person a lot.You somehow learn to take risks and are more open to new challenges. You know you will figure out a way to do an assignment in Java even if you don’t know Java :P. So, basically the job gets done at the end of the day. As pointed out by Prof. CNR Rao ( our Convocation chief Guest), IIT’s are truely the only Indian Brand which need to be preserved and cherished. On that note I will conclude my post saying Jai Ho IITD and Jai Kailash !! 😛

Sorry for the long post, but the memories were also 2 years long. Stay blessed and chillax !! 🙂 And as my friend pointed out, do not take out more than two tissue papers for wiping your hands as you never need more than two 😛 So, save paper..save trees and save environment ( inspired by recent smog in Delhi ) 🙂

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A Parallel Universe ..

I was reading Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome the other day. Inspired by J’s splendid description of anecdotes, I thought of sharing a small yet interesting event of my life as well 😉

It was the time when my parents were doing PhD from IIT Kharagpur. I was about 7 years old. My mother had gone to Kalyani for a day and were to return late in the night. That left me and Papa at home, which meant we will have dinner outside.Its ironic to think that once I used to wait eagerly for an opportunity to consume outside food and now I would give anything in the world for eating home food. Truly you come to know the value of something when it is no more with you. Anyways, focusing on the narrative, we had our dinner and returned home. I was very happy and we were watching TV. It was a Monday night and we were watching Om Namah Shivay. For all my friends who remember, this was the glorious time when we had only DD National and strangely enough we were quite content and thrilled by the serials coming on it. This show in particular was my favorite due to its wonderful title track ( You can watch it here ) where a man made of fire danced the mighty Shiv Tandav !! Needless to say I would always try to sing along and dance by copying the steps of the Fireman , but was never able to do it properly.Suddenly my father remembered that he had to make an urgent STD call.Mobile phones were not the necessity of life those days as it is now ..god knows had we lived without mobiles at that time.. people met and talked..how strange and idiotic right !! Since we didn’t have landline also, my father needed to go to DVC market to a telephone booth to make the call.Usually, the simplest and the best thing to do in such a situation would be to lock the door from outside without me worrying about opening and closing the door. But I somehow had got an eerie nerve that day ( What’s the fun in not taking risks..so life should be complicated ) and demanded that the door would not be locked from outside if I am inside and I took the responsibility of taking care of the house and myself.Much to the dissatisfaction of my father, he instructed me not to open the door for any stranger and he will be back within 20 minutes.He also told me not to sleep and I just laughed at the idea and argued back saying that how can I fall asleep when I am watching such a lovely serial.Moreover, I am grown up and not a kid anymore !! So, he left and I immersed myself in TV.

After a certain period of time ( I don’t know how much..strangely I had no idea ), I heard my friend crying out my name and banging the door. I immediately went upto the door to tell her that I it is not advisable to call me to play at this hour of the night and she should be mature enough and go to sleep. I was about to say this when I heard atleast 10-15 more voices shouting and hands banging loudly on my door ( enough to wake people within miles). I felt a massive intrusion of my personal space and leisurely time. Why the hell are these people behaving like this!! Also, this is my door, not their personal property to damage by knocking it with hammers.I opened the door and shouted, ” What is the matter?”. I got a cold chilling look from all my neighbors like the one you get when you come across White Walkers.There was some relief in my friend’s face though and then suddenly she said, ” You Kumbhakarna !!  All of us were so worried “.

I was like what are you saying? She then unfolded a narrative which I was completely shocked to hear and hard to believe in.She told me that I had fallen asleep and was not opening the door.Initially, my father tried knocking, shouting my name,everything which could be done, for 10-15 mins.This was followed by the whole locality gathering there and each one of them trying their best to wake me up ( basically to prove their heroism). My immediate neighbor Aunty had even tried blowing Shankh and ringing bells.Some children took this opportunity to try to wake me up by bursting thunderbolt-crackers outside the door.People were knocking with hammers on the door.This noisy and jolly procession continued for about 1 hour with people making weird suggestions and some others just gathered to gossip and intensify the situation.They were kind enough to draw the attention of my father and the crowd on the fact that how dangerous it can be for the life of a small kid like me if door is not opened in time.What if gas leaked from the cylinder and the house caught fire or some short circuit happened because of the running TV..Poor Disha won’t even notice since she is sleeping 😦

At this point, I would like to describe a bit about the building we lived in.Our house was on the 3rd floor and had adjoining balcony with a neighboring house on the 3rd floor on the right hand side, with a gap of about 2 feet between them.My father was trying to jump from the adjacent balcony of the other house to the balcony of our house in an attempt to eventually disturb me from my dreamy world and suppress the growing tension and anxiety. Breaking the door was also an option, but I guess my father being an Amitabh Bachchan fan was more comfortable in jumping than breaking doors like Daya. He was just about to jump when one brilliant person gave the advice that I will hear my friend’s voice only because of the intimate connection between us and also the fact that a girl child’s voice is very shrill..and hell yeah it worked !!( don’t ask me how or why). My father came after 5 mins (after he was informed that the door is finally open ). He had an expression of utmost anger on his face, but a slight sense of relief can also be seen hiding under it . I thought he would shout at me but he simply hugged me THAT time (later I got an earful from my mother and father both ).I felt quite embarrased and ashamed thinking of what would have happened if my father would have really jumped and risked his life just because I couldn’t stay awake for some time !! All my neighbors then went home happily after witnessing and being part of a fun drama for the day and I was given the nickname ” Sleeping Beauty ” by my father for the rest of my life to be teased with 😀

To this day, I can’t recall the time I fell asleep, woke again and how I remained deaf to all the violent noises made outside my door.I still strongly believe that the events of that 1 hour or so never happened. All the people were simply lying, trying to pull up a prank on me or maybe this was part of a deep conspiracy to defame me which needs to be looked at carefully by the FBI 😛 Anyways, I have now come at peace with the theory that during this time ( if there were such a time) I was in some parallel universe performing the magnificent Tandav on stage, leaving people of some other planet to be in complete awe and mesmerized by my performance 😉

 

 

Intolerance in India

When I open up my Facebook page , I see many posts wherein people express their views about many events. At one end I feel happy that We as youth of this country are concerned about issues related to our country, religion and morals and are courageous enough to voice it openly on a social platform ( as opposed to the belief of Mr. Honey Singh who thinks that Indian youth just talk about party, sex and alcohol ). At the same time, I feel deeply disturbed by some posts which are totally illogical , posted without proper verification of facts and are specifically targeted  towards perpetuation of negativity and hatred. Since there are no algorithms yet to discover the correctness or intentions of posts before making them visible to the public ( would really love to work on this though !!), we have to be extremely careful in what we are reading and most importantly what we are getting influenced by.

Now coming to the main point which I want to talk about : Intolerance. Just a few days back, intolerance was just a normal word like any other word present in Oxford English Dictionary. But in the past few days, I bet you would have seen this word spoken and written almost everywhere and by everyone on this planet and people going to all extends to explain its rise in the Indian society and how living in India is the worst thing which can happen to you. Well I won’t be discussing about any of these issues because they had already been spoken about at length. Instead I want to mention a few points which according to me, WE as INDIANS should  definitely be INTOLERANT to :

  1. When women of all ages are being raped openly in broad daylight and the monsters ( YES rapist is a very lenient word !! ) roam freely to unleash their lust on another 2-3 year old kid.
  2. When politicians issue public statements justifying the actions of monsters saying that ” Ladko se Galti ho jaati hai ” and ” Ladkiyon ko maryaada me rehna chahiye” and crowing them as public heroes.
  3. When an honest IAS officer is murdered brutally and all we can do is express sympathy , criticize the Indian SYSTEM and then resume our normal operations.
  4. When a candidate who has scored in negative in a competitive exam is  given admission at the cost of a deserving candidate just based on the family name he/she was born with and to make matters worse lands up getting a government job directly mocking the merit of a  person who is desperately struggling to get employed.
  5. When a bunch of inhumans misuse your RELIGION to cover up their cowardly actions of killing fellow brothers and sisters ( And I am talking about all incidents irrespective of religion) and defame it by passing statements which we all know are pure BULLSHIT.
  6. When you become so critical of the government that you start opposing each and every action taken by it and thinking very little of what can be your contribution to the betterment of the nation. Instead you run abroad and take a safer alternative ( Can’t use the word SAFE anymore for any country in the world !!)
  7. Last and the most dangerous one, when you start judging people based on what religion or color or caste or state  he/she belongs to and completely ignore other important qualities of the person like his/her knowledge, sense of humor , compassion and attitude towards life.

At this point, I would like to discuss RELIGION. It has become the nerve which you prick to offend someone and a tool by which you can easily hurt the sentiments of others.  The concept of religion may be different for different people and each one of us may chose to respect or disrespect it in our own ways. For some it gives faith at strong times, for others it provides moral guidelines to chose between right and wrong, while it gives some a sense of purpose for their existence in the universe. For some sections of the people, religion is utter nonsense and doesn’t mean anything.Personally I feel that religion is a private affair between me and my God. Yes I can talk about it with others if I wish to but I don’t have the right to force my own views of religion on others and dictate others to follow the same path . Each person should be given this much privacy and freedom. I think all of us are at a stage in life where we are logical enough to know that NO religion in the world can teach you to kill fellow human beings and spread hatred. Also, I would like to say that absolutely NO ONE in this world (Yes not even God!!) deserves importance more than your basic needs like food, water, clothing and education which are far more essential for survival.

The human mind has capability to tune into negative frequencies pretty easily. But , we must all know that hope is the strongest element which can help achieve the impossible. What we need at this point is to IMMEDIATELY STOP people, groups and media who we know are deliberately giving communal colors to every event happening in the country and trying to portray our country as Hell as described in Dante’s Inferno. I agree We as a nation are not perfect and we DO have many drawbacks , but the end of the day we must realize that it is WE who represent India and WE have the responsibility to make it better.Please try to SEE the POSITIVE developments around you and highlight those.Let us resolve to be collectively intolerant to events which try to demolish our nation and divide us on the basis of religion, state or caste. Love yourself and the people around you because in the end these are the things which define who you really are !!

Cheers 🙂