Monday, March 31, 2008

Just Do It

There are times when you are restless. Your hands are itching to do something but you don't have the time for it. Your mind is brimming with ideas but you keep ignoring them because of matters of greater priority. Last week I did everything I wanted and more, seeing off yet another session of mockery called periodics, hopefully my last one. Actually it was the uselessness of these tests that got me going.

For starters, I finally attended a full-fledged birthday treat after ages, bang in the middle of tests. The best part was it was home-cooked food made especially for us, and not a flavour less than the most delectable dish you get in any restaurant followed by the yummiest of fruit cakes I have ever eaten. When I say that, you got to take my word on it, because I have eaten cakes from one to many confectioneries, and none has stimulated my taste buds like this one. Thank you aunty and S.A. your gift is ready!

I finally found time to give my blog template a new look. I liked the previous rich black template, but it had been that since a long time, so I thought I will make a switch. I ran through quite a few sites with ready templates but then I didn't like most of them. In stead I decided why not use one of the many pictures which I have clicked. I chose one of the wide bottom angle pictures of the woods of Ooty, which have sunlight creeping in through the canopy in sync with the the lights and shadows theme of my blog. Let me know how you like it.




Most importantly, we had a mega brainstorming session on an idea whose seeds had sown in our minds a long back. We'll get to the 'we' part when the time is right. For now, all I can tell you that it is big, noble and revolutionary! As a direct result, the work involved is also tremendous but if we pull it off, you will hear about it before I tell you. Actually the stakes are so high that there are no 'ifs' and 'buts,' we have to pull it off.

Lastly, we finally got back our final year project completion back on track. We had to take a forced sabbatical from the work due to the unforeseen inefficiency of our college department at providing the right resources at the right time. I will write an entire blog on my views of on my college before I end my engineering education, so watch out for this space. There is loads to write, both good and bad, so there will surely be more than one post!

All in all, a week of action brings a lot of satisfaction.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Examination Epidemic

In 2005, a student from my college jumped from a building to his death, because he failed in all his papers in that year. In 2007, another followed on the path of suicide, because he thought he had failed in his final year. These are just two instances of which I personally know but they are not one-off cases. Did you know that 5000 students across India committed suicide last year due to exam related stress? I often came across the news of suicides in newspapers but the number comes as a total shocker (a reason why I am writing so soon again). And yes, the number comes from a credible source in the form of NIMHANS and has been brought to public light by none other than NDTV 24X7.

Most youngsters are the life of their house. They should be brimming with ideas and energy. The future of the country is in their hands. On the contrary, they fall into the vicious circle of disappointment and depression that eventually drives them to the point of committing suicide.

It is easy to say it is a defeatist attitude and suicide is not the means of solving any problem, but the kind of pressure these students face is tremendous. It starts right with the people who you trust the most, your friends and family. The peer group always sets standards for itself which students try to match up. There is this pricking sense of inferiority that creeps in when you can't keep up with their pals. In addition, the heavy burden of expectations from your family, sometimes, purely aspirational, at others, a dire necessity is shattering.

At the root of the problem is the system of assessment employed in our country. The fate of a student's career is decided by one exam. Even if you have prepared extremely well, cold or fever on the day of the exam can lower your performance in the paper and become your Achilles' heel in those decisive three hours. Moreover, the pressure of preparing is such that in the board classes, student literally transform into learning machines, rather mugging machines, by hearting scores of pages, which they sometimes don't even comprehend. Coaching classes eat up into every holiday. There is no time for sports and recreation. People just stop living normally during that one year. The pressure is bound to grow then.

The hype is quite unnecessary. I have seen students who have done everything which a student normally would when in any other year and still come out with flying colours after the boards. In fact some have had more fun during the board years than otherwise, but it hasn't affected their performance. It is a state of mind. Be positive and put in your best considering the circumstances around you. The outcome is not in your hands.

The exams are about how you take to the pressure. Coaching classes can provide you the means to information, but at the end they can't accentuate your intelligence. It is important to not lose yourself in the process of gaining more marks. Your family and friends will understand when you are being pushed to the brink, but you need to talk to them to let them know. A suicide might solve the problem for you, but there are a lot of others around you who care for you and who have dreams for you. Don't disappoint them. It is just another exam and just another result.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Talladega Teachings

“It's because it's what you love, Ricky. It is who you were born to be. And here you sit, thinking. Well, Ricky Bobby is not a thinker. Ricky Bobby is a driver. He is a doer. And that's what you need to do. You don't need to think. You need to drive. You need speed. You need to go out there, and you need to rev your engine. You need to fire it up. You need to grab hold of that line between speed and chaos, and you need to wrestle it to the ground like a demon cobra! And then, when the fear rises up in your belly, you use it. And you know that fear is powerful, because it has been there for billions of years. And it is good. And you use it. And you ride it; you ride it like a skeleton horse through the gates of hell, and then you win, Ricky. You WIN! And you don't win for anybody else. You win for you, you know why? Because a man takes what he wants. He takes it all. And you're a man, aren't you? Aren't you?”

If you are wondering who Ricky Bobby is and what he is doing on my blog, let me tell you that I personally don’t know him. He is this character from the movie “Talladega Nights – The Ballads of Ricky Bobby.” I am not be acquainted with him, but I am sure there is a Ricky Bobby in every neighbourhood - who is afraid of losing, who fears the consequences so much that he doesn’t reach action, who cages his minds in the bars of society, who lets insanity rule when it shouldn’t.

I saw the movie today evening. It was not critically acclaimed, nor did it break any box office records, but what it did was made me laugh and taught me quite a few lessons. These basic and more or less known philosophies were spiced with humour and melodrama and crudely sautéed with human emotions and beliefs that both you and I would have easily associated with. The opening paragraph gives a gist of it all – our story in every line, a part of us in every phrase, true in a frame of time.

Lesson 1: It’s because it’s what you love.
Not many of us understand it’s meaning until we get our foot so deep in the sands of what we thought we liked. When you do face the truth, you are so stuck that you can’t get a move on.

Lesson 2: It’s what you were born to be.
Destiny, regardless of whether you believe in it, plays its role and leads you when you don’t know where you are going.

Lesson 3: And here you sit, thinking. Well, Ricky Bobby is not a thinker. Ricky Bobby is a driver. He is a doer.
Looking before you leap is good, but over doing it isn’t. Remember, your goal was to leap, and circumspection was a means to increase the probability of success.

Lesson 4: And that's what you need to do. You don't need to think. You need to drive. You need speed. You need to go out there, and you need to rev your engine. You need to fire it up.
Yes, doing is not enough in today’s world. We keep thinking and thinking and thinking, and then we start doing, but we must not forget that there are others who have begun too, some even before us. People say at the end of the rat race called life, we are still rats, but even rats follow a hierarchy in their clans.

Lesson 5: You need to grab hold of that line between speed and chaos, and you need to wrestle it to the ground like a demon cobra!
This was by far my favourite. The line dividing speed and chaos is thin and slippery. Getting hold of it is tough and staying in control even more. Our life today is so stressful because we don’t take control of the line, but then, not everyone sees the bigger problem with their myopic foresight.

Lesson 6: And then, when the fear rises up in your belly, you use it. And you know that fear is powerful, because it has been there for billions of years. And it is good. And you use it. And you ride it; you ride it like a skeleton horse through the gates of hell…
Fear can make us do many things which we won’t otherwise. Being chased in a marathon by a bear will make you last far longer than you would other wise, no matter your usual stamina levels. But yes, it can have negative influences too. So if you are trying to wield its powers, you better be sure.

Lesson 7: …and then you win, Ricky. You WIN!
Winning and losing is a part of the game (I can sense those I have heard that before vibes from you now). But then winning is what makes you nostalgic, winning is what makes you feel good about yourself, winning is what creates a niche for you, so if you do not win, at least make sure you tried.

Lesson 8: And you don't win for anybody else. You win for you, you know why? Because a man takes what he wants. He takes it all. And you're a man, aren't you? Aren't you?
Let us not confuse this with team work. In the context of the movie, it meant that you don’t win for impressing people or for building a fan-following, you win because you have worked for it. The adulation and perks are a by-product. Don’t let them get into your head.

I have analysed it a bit too far I guess, but I hope it has made a good read!More Talladega quotes over here though this was by far the best and most meaningful. But some of them are rib-tickling, especially the grace.

Shake and bake man, shake and bake!!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Tagged with a 'T'

I have just been tagged by Yashshri. Her highness has assigned the letter ‘T’ to me. The tag demands I take words with T which mean something to me and tell you what my connection with them is. Silly, yeah, but should be fun. Besides I have never been tagged before. So here goes…

The: Can’t live without the word.
The Pursuit of Happyness: My most motivating movie.
Taboos: State of Mind.
Tahina: Love my felafels with it.
Tact: Too much of anything is not good.
Teeth: Pain, especially wisdom teeth.
Tabloids: Why?
Tomatoes: Healthy, besides I like red!
Tailors: Takes ages to find the right one.
Team: Good to be a part of, even better to lead one.
Tenacious: Mumbai
Telephone: The best thing that could happen to social animals.
Trekking: Rejuvenating.
Tax: Necessary evil.
Tireless: My spirit
Tea: Avoidable.
Timeless: A great idea.
Time: What I am always short of when it is needed the most.
Talisman: Sheer superstition.
Talk: Becomes a conversation only after a certain amount of refinement.
Take-aways: Bachelor’s Bliss
Toblerone: Wow.
Television: A break from work.
Tandoor: A nice change from home made rotis.
Tan: Not my reason to visit a beach.
Tantrums: A one Ms.S..gupta.
Tattoo: Depends where they are ;)
Tendulkar: Class personified.
T-Rex: The next thing I want to see at a zoo, though non-man-eating ones.
Tests: Futile.
Tennis: Roger Federer
Testing: Mandatory.
Tiffin: The only thing that keeps you going through the lectures.
Thinking: Something which I don’t get tired off.
Thanking: Very few people who truly mean it.
Trust: Easier broken than built.
Trains: More fun than low-cost airlines, if with a group.
Travel: Australia.
Tigers: Awe inspiring and regal.
Technology: Overwhelming and evolving perpetually.
Tight Pants: Depends on who’s wearing them.
T- shirts: Made for comfort.
Tight Spots: Push you higher.
Tobacco: A step closer to death.
Touch: Sense and Sensibility ;)
Times: The newspaper I write for.
Traffic: Lots in Mumbai, even more in Dubai.
Today: The most important day of my life.
Tomorrow: Oh my god, I have so much to do.
Towel: Ranbir Kapoor in Sawariyaa (Why?!!)
Twelfth: Birth Date.
Twosome: Acceptable.
Threesome: What were you thinking?!
Twenty-Twenty: Exhilarating.
Twilight: The best time to click pictures.
Talent: Photography and writing.
Tender: Mumma’s love.
Tedious: Assignments.
Topper: 96.2 ;)
Tummy: Subjected to a lot of poorly selected food.
Tags: Fun.

I pass this tag to
Pallavi - the letter ‘L’
AI -the letter ‘P’(I know there is an ocean you can talk on, but the most significant aspects which you may want to discuss)