How do I write?

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How do I start impressively while also creating enough curiosity in the reader so that (s)he wants to read further? How do I do it without using up all the creativity in the start itself, leaving the latter parts completely dry? (For I don’t possess an endless reserve of witty metaphors or a vocabulary so rich and a writing sense so splendid that I can blend any given idea into a delightful prose seamlessly. That’s kind of the whole problem.) How do I sound sensible enough in the middle parts? (which are really the crux anyway) I mean, everyone is going to read the first and last couple of lines. How do I ensure that they give the middle more than just a cursory scroll? How do I come up with an ending that summarizes the point of the post and leaves the reader with a sense of satisfaction of having read something worthwhile that might last just long enough for him to press that like or share button.

And how do I do all this while largely being myself, without having to pretend too much; without deviating from the way I would generally speak about the topic, from what I believe in; and not just write about stuff that I think would appeal to more people. How do I be logical about what I am trying to say without being boring? How do I make my point amply emphatic without falling prey to the propensity of going just that little bit over the top? How do I write something that people can relate to and yet not know it well enough to feel that they have already heard the same thing a hundred times already? How do I take the mundane experiences of my day to day life and wrap such words around them as to make them sound appealing to a complete stranger?

My target, when I first started blogging, was to write a post every week. Although I had been missing that kind of rate by quite a bit after only the first month, my recent frequency has been woefully inadequate even by those unassuming standards. And I don’t really want to this blog to die and become one of those pieces of e-junk – I would like to believe that it isn’t one just yet – that fills up so much web space already. So I recently confessed these issues to a friend who told me that writing would not be such a big pain if I didn’t allow it to be one. She talked about writing without thinking about trivialities such as grammatical errors, by dropping all thoughts about expectations or fears of judgments and just going with the flow. And once you have poured down all that was there in your brain, you start to think of ways to say certain things in a better way, to refine and rearrange ideas, to see if thesaurus has something to offer to help you sound smarter and to get your punctuations correct to the degree that you can. I guess this post is an implementation of that advice to some extent.

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IIT Kharagpur – A Glimpse

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I went to IIT Kharagpur last week to attend this IEEE workshop on Medical Image Processing. Having spent just 4 days there, I can only offer you a tiny glimpse of what the institute seemed to be. Writing a post on IIT Madras would require me to be a lot more insightful. Here, on the contrary, I can be my usual biased, judgmental self. It’s a whole lot easier.

The trip was planned in a jiffy, as is usually the case when you have a mentor as spontaneous as mine. We were initially told that we could go only if we got train tickets, which being the horrendously difficult task that it is, meant that we are not going. But then we gave a neat presentation on the project one day and he was all happy and all of a sudden, we find these Spice Jet tickets in our inboxes the next morning.

Amongst the first things that caught my attention in Kolkata, apart from that misty, fishy smell in the air, and the notably distinct shift in looks and accent from tam to bong, were the yellow ambassador taxis and the trams on the roads, which, to be fair, were not as dirty as people had told me they would be. The colour accent feature in G1’s camera gave us this:

We also managed to click a few pictures of the Howrah Bridge before being threatened to be fined and almost getting thrown out of the place. Apparently, photography is not allowed there. It isn’t that magnificent anyway.

Anyway, we boarded a train from Howrah and alighted at the longest railway station in the world! Extra bragging points, I say!

The Good

The institute, oldest amongst all IITs, also boasts of having the largest campus, spanning over 2000 acres. It makes my campus look like a hole! Hostels, departments, even the various sports fields are much more spacious than ours. There are service lanes alongside certain main roads. Moreover, they haven’t had to cut as many trees in order to accommodate the recent increase in student intake.

The best thing is that they have Wi-Fi access all over the campus. And at very decent speeds too. There are no internet ‘cuts’ either.

Then there are the Bengali sweets, of course. At Rs. 4 apiece, the hot and soft, not to mention very, very delicious roushougullas and gulabjamuns are a steal! Then, there are mishti doi (I didn’t know it was mishti dahi!) and sondesh, which are fairly delectable as well.

In Bengal, everyone is Sourav Ganguly. Dada, howrah station tak kitna hoga? Dada, 6 roushougulla dijiye. Dada, yeh lbs hall kis taraf hai? It’s fun at first, but at some point you got to start feeling guilty for making your grandpa do so much work.

The Same

The workshop did manage to avoid starting on time on each of the four days. Some standards have to be maintained across all IITs, religious ostracism from punctuality being one of them.

The Bad

One thing that immediately struck me about the campus is that it is much more ‘open’ than mine. In about an hour’s walk I encountered more outsiders than I would in say, even a week here. Construction workers, rickshaw walas, other non-student non-academic looking people casually stroll into the campus. No security guard asking you the purpose of visit. No signing a register. No token business.

Talking about being open, the institute is incredibly candid about smoking. One can find people – both, students and Profs alike – smoking at just about every nook and corner. Cigarettes are even sold inside the campus itself – an unimaginable situation back down here.

For a campus so big, it’s hard to imagine why they don’t have an internal bus service. There are cycle rickshaws around, but that’s if you’re ready to part with 50 odd bucks for a ten minute ride.

As much as I hate Chennai’s climate, I found Kgp to be even worse. It’s not even on the coast, but it’s easily twice as humid as Chennai (although that’s not theoretically possible). I know my sweat glands are a little hyper active but that still doesn’t account for the profuse perspiring that I experienced each time I took as much as ten minute walk, no matter what time of the day it was.

Perhaps the worst thing about Kgp is that there is absolutely nothing to do outside the campus. In fact, when I got out of the railway station, it was like I had stepped into some village. There was a small chai shop playing some 70s ka hindi song. Classic it was! But seriously, there are no movie theatres, no good restaurants, no reasonably decent place to shop. If you’re from a city, you’ll certainly find it very difficult to spend four years there. I know for sure I would.

Returning to Chennai, it almost felt like coming back home. Funny things, time and perspective.

A change of scene

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Buoyed by the news that the insti web master has unblocked wordpress (god knows why it was blocked in the first place) and spurred on by the multitude of blog posts in my inbox from people I follow, here goes.

Perhaps for the first time, I am writing something from outside that little haven in Guindy that I confine myself to for most of the time. Perhaps too much. Finding myself in this rather well furnished apartment in what seems to be a plush neighborhood in Bangalore, I wonder what was Bosch thinking letting their interns stay in such a cozy place? Are you listening, Trivitron?

I am glad I overcame the initial inertia to get myself out of campus on friday evening. I would have probably spent the entire weekend lazing around in my room and missed the wonderful time that I ended up having. The krstc bus was not particularly comfortable and the fact that my seat was in the last row that has no push back did not help matters. But it was fun playing anatkshari after quite some time and I was surprised at the number of old songs I could recollect the lyrics of!

The contrast between Bangalore and Chennai’s weather couldn’t have been starker. It is funny how two places that are barely 5 hours away exhibit such a steep gradient in temperature. Segmenting these isotherms would be child’s play! Wow, this intern is really getting into my head! Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I couldn’t be happier to feel the cold breeze against my face as I alighted at ShanthiNagar bus stop in what is fast becoming my favourite city among the three I have spent a reasonable amount of time in. I like its climate more than Chennai and Mumbai’s. And unlike Chennai, it doesn’t have any language or food problems. Besides, girls are infinitely better looking than in any of the other two places.

We make our way to the International Center of the Art of Living, about an hour away from the city. I love the place! It’s vibrant, yet blissfully calm. The day is spent with several sessions of meditation, delicious satvic food and wonderful interactions with people from all walks of life. By evening, I have made friends with a gult BITS Goa undergraduate, a bong software engineer, a tam chartered accountant who has worked in the gulf, a gujju businessman from Colaba and two Marathi farmers from a village near Pune. It’s amazing how much perspective one can gain from such interactions!

It’s evening now, and the grand amphi theatre is slowly gearing up for Satsang with the Guru. It’s my favourite part of the day. As the Guru speaks, it’s incredible how one feels that one to one connection with him even as more than 15 thousand other souls soak in the knowledge. I am in a trance. The next morning, I do the Sudarshan Kriya in the magical Vishalakshmi Mandap. The trance continues.

One never feels too bad while leaving the ashram. One knows one belongs there, no matter where one goes.

I changed a couple of buses to get to Audugudi. It’s such a funny word! Gunjan picked me and that’s how I landed up in this plush apartment. I think it must have been months since I saw tv for watching something other than ipl or a football match. Hera Pheri may not give you those stomach aching laughter bursts, but it’s a fun watch anyway. And it’s so much fun watching these movie trailers and song videos! Yes sure you can watch them on youtube too, but I often don’t even know what to search for. It’s nice of these music channels to line them up for you, na? Also saw a bit of that spelling bee competition. Can you believe that among the twelve kids in the final round, 6 were Indians! It baffles me how they manage to even pronounce those words, let alone figure out the uncanny spellings. Also, I came across this new channel called Fox Traveller. Interesting stuff there.

I managed to watch the first innings of the ipl final before leaving. The bus had started trotting southwards when I learnt that kkr had won. I was a little disappointed, but not really heart broken. CSK truly played like kings in the knockout stages of the tournament and that’s what really matters.

The Sharma Travels return bus was more comfortable and I had a good night’s sleep. A weekend well spent!

The Joy In little Things

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I walked into Crossword the other day, after what seemed to be a really long time. With no particular book in mind, I trod from one genre to another, browsing through and being exhilarated by the expanse of printed material around me. Grabbing about 7-8 interesting titles, I sat myself on a comfortable couch overlooking a female belonging to the rare breed of beautiful girls in Chennai. She was glancing through some books in the opposite section. As I flipped through some pages, reading a snippet here, an extract there, she moved over to the end of the section and I had to crane my neck a little to check out the bulged back pocket of the her levis jeans. Thank you for the discounts Flipkart, but the joy of feeling a book in your hands, the satisfaction of knowing that the binding is perfect, just the sheer ambiance of a bookstore is irreplaceable.

This, I thought, was just an example of how little things are capable of giving us great joy.

The feeling of walking bare foot on the beach. Of grains of sand decanting through your toes every time you take a step. Of watching the sun rise slowly from the sea. An early morning jog on a frosty winter morning. Breathing through the fog that renders invisibility beyond a few meters.

The warmth of a cozy blanket on a chilling night. The joy of taking a late night shower at the end of a humid summer day. The relief accompanying the first rains after a scorching summer. The feeling of those droplets hitting your face.

Ordering extra malai on the mango lassi at a Punjabi dhaba in Chennai. Asking for extra ice cubes on your lime juice on a hot summer day. Eating a hot vada pav with that extra spicy mirchi on a cold rainy day. The sweet (spicy?) relief escorting an embarrassed fart. Of peeing long after when you first wanted to.

The joy of watching your favourite movie for the 14th time. Of priding yourself for remembering the exact number. The joy of playing antakshari. Of singing old songs with lyrics that touch the soul. The joy of playing dumb charades. Of inventing movie names that would be hard to enact.

The rapturous astonishment of meeting a long lost friend. The nostalgic rush while browsing through old pictures. The nervous anticipation before calling someone you like. The fun in teasing a friend about a crush. Of being teased about someone you like.

The excitement of watching a hardly fought contest. The thrill of an injury time goal that wins the league. Of the perfect yorker by a debutant bowler to an in form batsman. In that exquisite backhand to deny a match point on the way to winning a five set thriller.

The stretched ankles in an orgasm.

The fun in talking to a stranger on the bus. Of recalling that you couldn’t do it a year ago. The satisfaction of knowing that you have mastered some of your fears. Coming out of a tough situation calmly. Not losing your cool as often as you used to. The contentment of having grown that little bit.

The blissful energy of deep inhalation. The relaxation offered by slow exhalation. The joy of smiling for no reason.

Share those little incidents that made you happy. There is a joy in sharing too!

7 Things I Have Learned From My Mother

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1. You can be frank with me. I am your friend.

When I was around 16, my mother asked me if I had seen a blue film yet. When she discovered the poorly hidden poster I had brought from Germany, she knew in an instant what it was and teasingly warned me about getting caught by the warden if I put it up in my room. I have checked out girls in the mall with her. Indian parents can get really tipsy about their children and alcohol, but I can freely tell her when I am going out for drinks. She trusts that she has raised me alright and I won’t do anything to hurt anyone or myself.

2. Appreciate more.

If you like something, don’t hesitate to tell it to the other person. There is nothing worse than spending all your energy in doing something good for someone and not even getting a trace of appreciation in return.

She has done an amazing lot in her life for the family and usually receives very less appreciation in return. The house would literally fall down without her. Sometimes she gets really pissed off with the way people take her for granted. And that’s how I know how much it means to people to get appreciated for their hard work. And I can see it too – in the surprise of the fellow debater when I compliment him for his oratory skills, in the hearty laugh of the batch mate who has gone out of his way to help me, as indeed in the blush of the girl sitting on the next coffee table.

3. Criticize your loved ones.

If you don’t tell them what’s wrong with them, who will? If you don’t like something I am doing, just tell it to me. Don’t keep accumulating small things and then throw them out all at once.

We have a lot of fights in my house. I am angry with my mother because she is always so protective of me. My mother is pissed off because my father because goes out of his way to keep the house dirty. My father laments my disrespect for my grandparents. And this just keeps going on. But you know what? We keep correcting each other at all these small things. We fight, but we are laughing our lungs out the next minute. But these are like choti choti ladaais, as my cousin once said. It’s been a really really long time since we had – to use her terminology – a jung! Besides, we’re bettering each other by pointing these things out.

4.  You have no idea what you are capable of.

Don’t dismiss something as impossible just because someone says it’s difficult. Give it a shot.

Until my tenth standard, I didn’t know something called IIT existed. Then my mother said that this was a wonderful place and that I should consider this as an option. A little bit of research and all I heard was that this was the hardest place to get into and that I would have to essentially sacrifice the next two years of my life if I were to even stand a chance of getting admitted. A chill went down my spine, and as is the case with all new things, I resisted. She asked me to give it a shot. Today, I can’t thank her enough for opening this door for me. I’m not saying I would have been in hell if not for IIT, but the place has certainly shaped my personality in a great way in the last four years.

5. Let’s keep it clean.

My mother is obsessed with keeping the house neat and clean. She just cannot rest until she knows that every little thing is in its designated place. And this habit has unconsciously slipped into me as well. I like to keep things organized around me.  It’s nothing compared to her standards, of course. She still finds it unbelievably messy. (She loves to be melodramatic too. It runs in the family, I guess!) But still, my room is amongst the cleanest in the wing. Clothes are hanging behind the door – not lying on the floor. The books are kept in a stack – not very neat, but it’s a stack nevertheless. Sometimes I am feeling low for some intangible reason and then I just clean up a little bit, and the mood invariably brightens up!
6.  Judge people.

Now this is a little counter intuitive. Let me explain. I am never able to make opinions about people. Every time someone does something or acts in a particular way, I refuse to believe that the person will necessarily behave in the same way the next time a similar situation arises. While this may sound really awesome and altruistic, the downside is that I never know for sure who are the people that really care for me and who are the ones that are just pretending. I never know who my real friends are. Maybe that is the reason I see myself as someone with a number of good friends, but no one really that I could call an alter ego.

7. Have preferences, but don’t be so rigid as to hurt someone due to them.

I come from a Jain family. While growing up, we never had potatoes, onions or garlic in our kitchen. So I didn’t eat those things in my early years.  When I first tasted a potato – maybe it was a badly made sabzi – I developed a dislike for it. When I was about 10, I went to a friend’s birthday party where they had pav bhaji for dinner. So badly did I hate potatoes then that I insisted that I would not eat it. Now people feel bad when they throw a party and guests don’t eat what they offer. So my friend’s mother made something else for me. I don’t remember what. What I do remember is the scolding I got from my mother when she came to know about this.

My parents lost two children after I was born. My sister died when she was 6 months old; another child was born dead. I can’t imagine how much it must hurt to go through something like that. I mean a lot to my parents. Almost too much. My mother used to protect me from the slightest difficulty. And then they had to send me away for college. It was terribly hard for her, but she did because she knew that was the best thing for me. When I was going to Germany for an internship, she was petrified (the word doesn’t quite capture how she felt) by the thought of me living alone, with absolutely no one I knew beforehand. But she never allows her preferences to get in the way of what is good for me.

There must a hundred other things that I have learned from her. Thanks for everything Ma. I love you!

Older = Wiser?

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Age is just a number. 18 till I die. Don’t they just love to say that! While one has absolutely nothing against that attitude, one just wonders if there is a little more than the happy-go-lucky, full-of-life connotation to those sayings. Can it so happen that a person, despite having celebrated more birthdays, has failed to develop a reasonably endurable personality and an ability to think objectively? And I am not even talking about the weirdoes. Even in the average population – and let’s say for the time being that they are not weirdoes – does age necessarily make one smarter? More mature? Does seeing more summers unquestionably add more meaning, more substance to one’s existence?

Here at IITM, – as I’m sure, at a lot of other colleges – juniors attach a lot of significance to a senior’s opinion. Be it academics or some co-curricular activity or sports or indeed, elections. And it makes a lot of sense too. People who have spent more time in the institute obviously know more about the place and the way things work there. But it would be imprudent to deny that just as the good things pass down the batches, so do the bad ones. Because sadly, most of the people who love to shower free advice are the ones who have, quite frankly, screwed up in their time and have, in their self-centered brains, developed extremely biased viewpoints.

I have a friend who, in his first week in the institute, was completely brainwashed by a certain group of seniors who convinced him that his branch was worthless. So much so that he was seriously contemplating quitting IIT. You can’t blame the poor guy – imagine his plight as a scared fresher away from home for the first time, going from one group of seniors to another as he underwent the ‘personality development’ process. But you can blame the seniors. They were not even from the same branch. Nor were they mature enough to tell him that his education in such a premier institute would be – if he were adequately receptive – much more than what he would learn in the classroom. Today, three years hence, he is doing rather well and I assume he is happy. What a tragedy it would have been if he had gone through with that impulse!

We learn a number of awesome things from our parents and we can probably never thank them enough. However, if we leave sentiments aside for a moment, it isn’t such a long shot to claim that our upbringing is also responsible for a lot of the flaws in our personalities and what’s worse, in our characters. The classic rishwat- dena-toh-khud-papa-ne-sikhaya: ‘thoda chai pani toh dena hi padta hai yaar’; our innate propensity to cut the queue at the mall or at the ticket counter at the railway station; our nonchalance towards cleanliness: ‘sabhi toh thukte hain yaar, kya fark padta hai’; our incredible ability to lose that plastic wrapper in the middle of the road when there is a dustbin hardly a dozen feet away; the ubiquitous importance to results rather than the process – are all by products of our growing up. And we don’t even realize the impact this attitude has on our society as a whole. We do all these things almost subconsciously. We have seen people – people older than us – do the same things all around us and it has been imbibed into our very beings. And you can’t even blame these people because they themselves have learned it from their ‘seniors’!

Among the numerous A4 sheets adorning the off-white dust laden walls of my (rather well organized) hostel room, there is a paper with a list of sentences beginning with “I have learned…” I found it on one of my ‘get inspired’ explorations that I embark on from time to time. I read it every once in a while and I relate to different points every time. This one struck a chord today:

I have learned that maturity has more to do with the types of experiences one has had and what one has learnt from them and less to do with the number of birthdays one has celebrated.

The rest, as the saying doesn’t go, is a blog post.

Amazing!

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I just saw an episode of MTV Roadies auditions. A girl was sabotaged by rude comments and criticized for an hour. She just sat there calmly, listening to the judges and agreed to what made sense. She was then told to speak in her mother tongue. The moment she started talking, she was a different person altogether… her eyes sparkled, her voice echoed with conviction and her stance reflected self-assurance.

Next came a practicing homeopath who thought of himself as a ‘self made guy’. According to him, the sexiest thing about himself was his integrity, honesty and his caring nature. When asked what made Madhuri Dixit sexy, it was her smile. Not her honesty. When asked what made John Abraham sexy, it was his physique and not his caring nature. In the next ten minutes, there wasn’t a single mention about honesty, integrity or caring natures. It was only about…

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Hostel Night Restrictions – A Response

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It is hostel night season in IIT Madras! That time of the year when we bid farewell to the passing out batch. There is a vague theme, shabbily put up props to show for ambience, bad food (bloody mess secs!), uninspiring speeches, a makeshift DJ – parties don’t get any better. It’s a night the council of wardens is extremely wary of. They believe there is no way students can arrange all this without getting distracted from their studies. Besides, alcohols, drugs, girls in boys’ hostels, boys in girls’ hostels; these are concepts that don’t exactly fit into the conservative mindset seamlessly. So a couple of years back some moron can’t keep his hormones in check. He gets a little too comfortable on the dance floor; molests a girl. Well that’s what one hears anyway. And can’t you already see the wardens clasping their hands in excitement!

This is an email we received yesterday.

Suggested Action on students who are caught violating rules: (needs to be approved by CoW)

1.      Substance Abuse (drugs) – File FIR at police station.  Please note: this offense will involve issue of NON-BAILABLE arrest warrants.

2.      Liquor AND / OR misbehavior – 10,000 INR + EXPULSION from Hostel (with immediate effect)

3.      Cigarette – 5,000 INR

4.      Guests have to leave by 10:30 p.m.

The student council / designated leaders will ring the bell at 10.20 p.m.  All guests* will be escorted out by their hosts by 10.30 p.m.  The Hostel Council members will go around the hostel, search for any remaining guests before declaring FORMALLY in writing that all the guests are out by 10.45 p.m.

Any guest * apprehended between 10.30 and 10.45 p.m. will be levied a fine of punished by the Hostel Council (Rs.2500 each, and the guest(s) and the host(s) will be expelled from the hostel immediately for a minimum period of one month).  Between 10.45-11.00 PM, all the rooms will be kept open by the students and the Warden(s) will walk through the entire hostel.

5.      In any guest/host is apprehended in cases relating to (1), (2), (3) and (4):

The Hostel Council Member in charge for that wing/block will be held responsible in case he/she does not report the same to the higher authorities, and must resign and voluntarily vacate the hostel immediately and stay outside the campus for a minimum period of one month.

*The above conditions shall apply for girl guests in boys’ hostel and vice versa.

For Sharavati:         

Hostel night to be split up into 2 parts:

  • Hostel day inside Sharavati (Afternoon 3:00pm to 6:00pm)

(1)   Final year students (only) can invite their guests during this time period

(2)  Final years can invite only 2 guests

(3)  Guest list (Name, roll no.) to be made ready 3 days prior to the hostel night.

(4)  All guests have to bring their ID cards and no guests will be allowed to enter without submitting their ID Cards.

(5)  Guest ID cards along with the ID card of the girl host will be collected while entering, and will be given back to them when they leave.

(6)   No food arrangements inside the hostel during this time

(7)  The guests will have to leave by 6:00pm

(8)  The room doors SHOULD NOT BE CLOSED whenever a guest is inside the room

(9)  Defaulters are subjected to all the above mentioned punishments

  • Hostel Night in OAT :

(1)  Hostel Night in OAT (Evening 7:00pm onwards)

(2)  Students from any year can invite their guests to OAT

(3)  No tab on the no. of guests and no prior guest list needs to be provided

(4)  Wing videos screening, DJ and dinner arrangements will be made in OAT

This is utterly disgraceful. Pay attention to the wording. It is demeaning. So they propose to keep a tab on each minute a girl stays in the boy’s hostel – 10.15, 10.20, 10.30, 10.45. Can you imagine how petrified the poor chick will be as she keeps checking her watch every couple of minutes? What is this, military camp?

There is a restriction on the number of guys a girl can invite to her hostel. Seriously? What are the stats? 50 girls, 500 guys. How can she have more than 2 guy friends? Makes perfect sense. And on the only day boys have the permission to step inside Sharav. Clearly, we are all rapists here. Thanks.

One point is particularly funny. The room doors should not be closed whenever a guest is inside the room. Oh no! but I always wanted to do it in her room! Interestingly, there is no such restriction in the boy’s hostels. Of course, care will have to be taken to get dressed before 10.30.

And what happened? A guy got carried away and pressed some breasts. Well, take action against THAT guy. Fine him. Imprison him. Whatever. Set an example. Did you catch someone eve teasing? Fine them. Did someone take his shirt off while dancing to the Dj. Gross? Yes. Inappropiate? Maybe. Illegal? Certainly not! Still, if you find it unreasonable, disallow that. But just banning the entire thing is incredibly undemocratic. We’re all adults here. If the government has no problems with drinking, why should the institute form special rules? Stop being such control freaks, for god’s sake.

What is an institute like IIT doing with such restrictions? Don’t we love to brag about the quality of students we admit? Is this the kind of confidence the institute has in its ability to shape the personalities of the brightest individuals in the country? So the profs have put their hands down, ‘No, we can’t inculcate sense into our students by talking to them. So we are going to tie them down and strangle them till they’re disciplined.’ Oh by the way, how many wardens have tried to talk to the students on the issue?

Okay, let’s say they impose the ban this time. Well they have done it already. Whoever thought students would get a say in such matters. But think about it. This isn’t even a quick fix. It’s a gimmick – it’ll only serve to infuriate the students against the management, that’s all. Everything is available far too easily and the hostel isn’t the only place where it can be had. If someone wants to do drugs, he hardly has to walk 100 meters from taramani gate. There are enough cheap motels in Chennai, if sex is what they’re trying to prevent. But let’s say they have managed to keep the students in check.

Most of these students are going to leave the institute soon with rather well paid jobs. How do they propose to stop them then? Or do they think they are no more their responsibility? The media loves IITs. ‘IIT grad accused of rape.’ That’s the kind of stuff every editor’s dreams are made of. Okay, maybe I’m using the word rape too many times. But that’s what they’re making us think we are – rapists and drug addicts who have absolutely no control over what they are doing.

I like LSG. I thoroughly enjoy reading his emails – of which, we’ve been having plenty lately. He makes sense when he speaks. He also listens to the other person’s point of view. I know a few other very cool profs. What are their points of view on this topic, I would love to know. But no, I don’t have the balls to write this letter to the dean. I don’t have anything in particular to fear, but if this post were to somehow find its way to him, I would really not know how to react.

I drink very occasionally. I plan to stop it altogether, but not quite yet. But I’ve never done anything while being drunk that I regret. I don’t smoke – tried it twice; a couple of puffs each time; coughed it out. Horrible, it tasted. No drugs either. (I meditate. It is, by far, the smartest, healthiest, most inexpensive way of staying high 24/7. ) And I’ll probably get invited to Sharav anyway. (Hint, girl. Hint!) So no, this isn’t personal.

What’s The Good Word?

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The first slot on Friday mornings with a prof that doesn’t take attendance isn’t really an ideal setting for a jam-packed class. So I was not really surprised, as I entered at 8.30, to find less than a dozen faces in the room. Little did I know that the following two minutes would get etched in my memory so distinctly!
It’s amazing how clearly I can visualize the situation even today. The prof explaining a certain concept… half-awake students staring at him blankly… he tries to break the monologue… question from the previous course… students look down to avoid eye contact… and then he said the line that keeps coming back to me ever so frequently –

It’s important to recollect the right thing at the right time.

It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But some lines just stick. And hasn’t this happened to you so many times? You know the damn thing ever so well. Heck, you can talk about it in your sleep. But right at the moment you want to tell it to someone important, it snugly sneaks out of your memory.

Remember the internship review when you just couldn’t remember the name of the basic criteria that you’ve worked with for two months? Or the job interview where you screwed up the first law of thermodynamics while your resume has heat transfer written all over it? Or the AutoExpo where you couldn’t figure out the working of a single machine until Suresh explained it to you? It seemed so straight-forward then na?

Or the time you came up with that insanely cheesy pick up line. How delighted you were as you pictured yourself as Elvis what with all the flirting expertise! But just when you mustered enough courage to drag yourself up to her and her super adorable brown eyes looked into yours, the damn keyword deserted you.

Or the game of wolf where you had figured that shrewd strategy to trap the poor cop and take the rogue into confidence all at once, but – somewhere in the middle of the animated oratory – the killer argument cunningly abandoned your memory, leaving you blatantly culpable in the process.

Or indeed, the time you were writing that blog post? The exquisite opening line that had gotten you jumping in the air with ecstasy now sounds woefully ordinary because you can’t recollect that gorgeous French phrase and that Google refuses to find for you!

Familiar with that feeling of words being stuck in the throat? No matter how hard your scratch your head or pull your hair, they stubbornly refuse to come out. And right when you are taking a cold water shower in the evening or making bubbles in your café frappe in CCD (I love doing that! Especially when I’m with my ‘sophisticated’ friends :P), bam! the thing strikes you!

JEE – The Nerd’s Seductress

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To a regular 16 year old engineering aspirant, a JEE coaching class brochure can seem scarcely dissimilar to his fantasy buxom flaunting her seductive prowess. She playfully toys with the strip of her bra as she talks of the IITs being the mecca of technical education and tantalizingly sucks her finger on the mention of them admitting only the cream of the country.

‘Wouldn’t you want to be the cream?’ she teases you, licking a drop off her thumb. The ubiquitous mention of fame and money leads one to picture oneself walking through family functions, brimming with pride and confidence – chin held up, shoulders gone back and wide – as distant relatives cast looks of awe and jealous cousins and friends breathe abuses under fake smiles.

But alas! There are far too many nerds and the buxom can satisfy only so many. So she gets to pick and choose the ones that woo her best. And to say that she makes one work one’s ass off, would be to put it mildly. While all stalkers knock on HC Verma’s door for the basic know-how about her physical likes and dislikes, a few devoted ones conjure up enough courage to approach Irodov for special courting tricks. With a particular liking for finances, she makes you learn all tricks of the trade called math. As one goes through endless jargons of calculus, trigonometry, algebra, geometry and the like, she looks on with unbridled admiration. And like all girls who know they are in demand, she makes you do the rotten stuff as well. But such is her charm that one doesn’t mind mindlessly mugging up inorganic chemistry if only – to keep the metaphor going – to entice a wink.

She is very possessive as well. While the occasional flirting with a classmate may be tolerated, going out on a date or even talking on the phone for longer than necessary is strictly out of bounds. And just when one thinks that one is making some progress and starts feeling good about oneself, she pulls your All India percentile a trifle to remind you that you are not the only one trying to get into her pants. Eventually, however, the select few who do have coitus with the coveted mistress will – if they know how to take the rough with the smooth – tell you that it was all so damn much worth the effort.

As noises for scraping the JEE become louder, one genuinely mourns the imminent demise of the seductress one once successfully wooed. One can only feel sorry for the coming generations who are about to be robbed of the opportunity to showcase their ability to rise above mediocrity and will have to be content with a far lesser beauty that can never be The JEE.