Monday, December 29, 2008

A Vital Question.

You know IIT placements have taken a hit when you read this.
Even the Diro is out of a job.

But the vital question everybody has not thought of yet is…
Does that make Ananth eligible to sit for placements?
Will he have to pay Rs 1000 to register or will he get a director's discount?
Mr Garg’s job gets a wee bit tougher then.

Extrapolating with some freedom, shouldn’t faculty be allowed to sit for placements too?
I am so eager to see what Parmanand Singh would be short-listed for.

This is the last post for 2008. Happy New Year to all.
Sources close to me have confided that this new years’ eve may be interesting. Very interesting. *Diabolical laughter*

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We Indians bargain well.....

You know how insulated you have become from real life after experiences as these. After an agonizingly busy morning of waking up and pressing the snooze button on my cell, I had my usual lunch of fish and some more fish followed by some fish. Then after bringing the balance of nature back to the local marine life, I noticed that there were no oranges. I usually have oranges after lunch in the winter and now there were no oranges. I decided to solve this problem in the conventional manner. I decided to buy some.

‘40 rupees a dozen’, the vendor mumbled.
‘hah! 40! Are you crazy? Where do you think I am from? Chennai? Local chele aami. I will take 6 pieces and wont pay a paise more than 20Rs’, I craftily mentioned.

He looked at me with an expressionless stare, picked up 6 oranges, put it in a bag and gave it to me.

I gave him Rs 20. Left with a smirk. And then it hit me.

PS: No observation on my mathematical prowess will be tolerated. That has nothing to do with this.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Getting Noticed!

While my friends have complained that my articles of late have been a tad too serious, there has been an unforeseen windfall. The last two articles have been picked up and linked to in other websites. While they may not be some influential journals but then its a good start none the less. : The link on Barack Obama connects to my Obama article. : Links to my article on reservation.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Only in America- The Impossible Story of Barack Obama

The following was my submission to the November issue of the Filter Copy.

“America is too great for small dreams”-Ronald Reagan

As a country America continues to inspire and confound the global community. After eight years of Bush’s de-facto war on anything Islamic and irresponsible economic policies, America might just elect a young black man as their next president whose middle name happens to be Hussein. The global community does not ask whether Barack Obama will be the next president of USA. Rather everyone asks whether USA will let Obama become president as if when we keep prejudices aside, the presidency is Obama’s birthright. Never since the Kennedy campaign has any individual energized the American population in such a manner and the impossible- America regaining the respect and credibility it had before Bush- looks a distinct if not a sure possibility in event of an Obama presidency.

It all started in 2004 at the annointation of John Kerry in the Democratic National Convention. A relatively unknown junior senator from the state of Illinois was asked to deliver the key-note address. The oratory, charisma and style displayed by Barack almost shifted focus from Kerry himself. Political pundits and observers, who were already cynical about the stumbling Kerry campaign, proclaimed Obama as the new boy wonder and predicted a great future. No one then expected him to clinch the nomination just four years later. It would have been just too early. And of course Hillary Clinton’s name had already started doing the rounds for 2008 and a black first time senator stopping the Clinton juggernaut was too farcical to even imagine. But the die had been cast a bit before 2004. In 2003 when Bush laid his plans to attack Iraq before the country, the populace was sharply divided and in retrospect Obama chose the right side. Hillary supported it. McCain vociferously supported it. Obama did not. This foresight put Obama and his sense of judgment several notches above all other more qualified candidates and proved to be his primary way of distinguishing himself from the rest four years later.

Obama is not the first black politician who gained prominence on the national stage and nor is he the first one with sights on the White House. In recent years Rev Jesse Jackson and Rev Al Sharpton have tried and lost. Colin Powell fiddled with the idea before accepting the Secretary of State carrot. And there have been a half a dozen other before them. But Obama’s candidacy has been very different from all previous one for he has successfully avoided the death trap of all black leaders- being type cast as a leader of the African-Americans. Obama ensured that none of his actions or efforts would be painted as being community specific. He went out of his way to court the whites and the Hispanics and chided any voice from within his own community who asked him to focus his attention only on his people. Speeches where he literally scolded black fathers for not being responsible enough about their parental duties may have made him seem patronizing but brought him closer to the whites who felt that there was no bias or any sense of historical prejudice in him. Obama never came across as one out to right the wrongs of the past on behalf of his community.

The biggest asset which caused Obama’s meteoric rise is his oratory. In a short span of 5-6 years Obama has left behind himself a slew of tremendous speeches which will continue to inspire generations. Whether it’s his key-note address in 2004 or his candidacy proclamation on the historic steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, he has held his audience in total rapture by his deft use of words and statesman like body language. He has made a habit of coming out of very tight spots with speeches of remarkable clarity, honesty and forthrightness. Let’s take the Jeremiah Wright issue as an example. In the middle of his historic fight with Hillary Clinton, videos of his pastor Jeremiah Wright surfaced condemning America and her policies. The event had all the ingredients to ensure an early end to Obama’s campaign. Here was a black pastor denouncing the country and the whites and Barack didn’t even utter a single word of condemnation. Showing amazing boldness, Obama refused to condemn the man and in turn came out with one of the most unforgettable speeches in recent American history. He dealt with the race relations in the US and how he views it through the prism of his unique background of having a white mother and a black father.
Obama’s fight for the democratic nomination was a much more complex and difficult affair than his current run for presidency. Hillary Clinton had been fashioning herself as the next president of the United States for quite a while. Here actions since becoming a senator all indicated where her ambitions lay. And the democrats were not sad about it. In the middle of the horrendous Bush years, the Clinton brand rose in its net worth. Democrats repeatedly got nostalgic about the prosperous Clinton years and were getting ready to nominate Hillary even if it meant Bill Clinton would wield powers again but by proxy. Quite a few expected Obama to run too. But it was supposed to be a dry run for a more serious attempt four years later. After all he had spent just four years in the senate and was the least experienced when compared to the seven other candidates. So when he announced his candidacy at the very place Abraham Lincoln had given his ‘House Divided’ speech, he had started out as the classic underdog.

The initial arrogance of the Clinton campaign helped Obama to quietly put his plan his place. He was already very popular among the democratic voters for his unique background and ability to inspire. He publicly refused to take donations from any lobbyists and interests groups and said his campaign would run only on the generosity of the individual donors. This unprecedented step endeared Obama towards the middle class in particular and the money flowed in. Just on the basis of very small amounts from individual donors Obama managed to raise 35m dollars in his first month. For the record that juggernaut had continued to roll since then and he raised 150m dollars last month, a record. A steady source of money proved to be a big boon for the campaign and it also gave early indications that people were considering Obama more seriously as president than the experts would like to believe. 2007 saw one debate after another among all the candidates. Obama held his own in all of them but made no significant dent in Hillary’s popularity. National polls showed Hillary with a seemingly unbeatable lead over Obama. The main issues hampering Obama were the facts that he was less experienced and absolutely no one believed that in spite of his popularity he could ever stop the Clinton monster truck. Then Iowa happened.
The Iowa caucus was the first event in the Democratic primaries and it happened on 3rd January, 2008. Obama scored an emphatic win, followed by John Edwards with Hillary a poor third. These results changed the course of the whole race. The Obama campaign proudly proclaimed that they had proved everyone wrong by actually showing that they can win and that too in such a resounding manner. Somehow the fact that Obama can win projected him in a very different light. All this while he was this brilliant leader who could sway the masses but was not equipped to stop much more formidable and experienced opponents. That myth lay in pieces and the nation rallied behind him in an instant. His numbers started climbing in the national polls and was within striking distance of Hillary. The Clinton campaign, rattled by Iowa finally realized the brilliance of Obama’s grassroots tactics and how he had reached out to so many people in such an effective manner.

Then started the most fascinating primary race USA had ever seen. It was undoubtedly more gripping than the eventual presidential race itself as Obama clinched one victory after another with Clinton barely managing to keep up. The Clinton campaign kept claiming that on Super Tuesday when 22 states would have their primaries together, Hillary would wrap up the nomination belying any initial gain made by Obama. But that didn’t happen. Obama’s new found ability to win propelled him to surpass Clinton on Super Tuesday too. This was the last straw and from then on it was just a count till when Clinton would feel it is no longer possible to clinch the nomination. Sensing the sudden change in fortunes, noted democrats made a beeline for Obama leaving Clinton further in the lurch.

The presidential race have seen a much more mellow and cautious Obama. The race has since been more characterized by the McCain campaigns gaffes and Sarah Palin’s comedic rhetoric than anything else. Obama’s conduct and campaign has been so proper that the infamous Republican propaganda campaign could find absolutely nothing from his history to attack him with. In all the three debates with McCain he came out as a calm, collected and person keen on bridging divisions. He refuted his own liberal credentials by adopting a more central path on key issues like gun control, abortion and gay rights hency by ensuring the conservatives do not fear his presidency. Obama’s performance as a first time senator may not have been amazing but he was always found at the right place at the right time. Whether it is framing bills on climate change and nuclear terrorism or supporting checks on federal spending, he had smartly positioned himself as a leader with a sense of acute awareness of all the important issues. He has also managed to successfully dent McCain’s foreign policy and security credentials by insisting repeatedly that security will always be top priority for him and by crafting bills for the welfare of the armed forces.

The story of Barack Obama has been fascinating and that made him a darling of the press. The media had a good hand in creating the perception of Obama as a new-age prophet who has come to rescue the country from a terrible morass of insecurity and economic downturn. If current national polls are anything to go by Obama should cruise to a comfortable victory. The world is waiting with bated breath for the results of this extraordinary election and is wondering whether America can yet again prove to the world that it continues to be the land of opportunity in spite of being on the brink of losing its sole super power status. Barack Obama knows that a story like his is possible only in the United States and does not shy away from reiterating it again and again. His ways of reaching out to all sections and striving for unity has involved the whole population in a political process they had begun to lose faith in. No one is expecting dramatic changes in their lives and neither does Obama’s record as a senator show him as one who would change things forever. But people do believe Obama is the only one in the current vitiated atmosphere who can try and brig the USA back to a standing it enjoyed in the pre-Bush years.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why so reckless?

My submission to The Filter Copy, September 2008

“It is legal because I wish it”-Louis XIV.

India seems to be the place where good ideas come to die. The recent progress in the systematic dismantling of India's premier educational institutions proves that however good an idea might be, the Indian government will eventually ensure its demise. Even if that idea is heralded as one of the greatest ever achievements of modern India.

The fifties saw our country making tremendous strides in virtually every field in spite of a chronic shortage of resources, virtually absent infrastructure and abject poverty. India showed the world that self-belief and an audacity to hope was enough to turn tables overnight. West Germany, Singapore, Japan, all ravaged by the war adopted our no holds barred march towards progress inspite of being reduced to near extinction as nation states. Fifty years later we see ourselves left significantly behind. But yet, we had still a few symbols of that ebullient decade which continued to inspire the nation of the potential within. The IITs occupy the highest pedestal in that short list of symbols.

The motives and intentions behind the creation of the IITs are well documented. The achievements of its eventual alumni even more so. They became the shining examples of a society which showed the world that this is how they train their best. It took decades of churning out top-notch professionals before the IITs became a synonym for excellence. And now that they enjoy such prestige on this planet, the Indian government, headed ironically by a distinguished academic, decided that maybe the time has come when they extinguish the last beacon of excellence in Indian Higher Education.

It has been a three pronged approach by the venerable HRD minister. The increase in reservation for students, the opening of a host of new IITs and of course ordering reservation in faculty positions. Bringing social equality has been the official reason. I won’t delve into the widely discussed issue of OBC reservation for students. The other two decisions, I feel have done more damage to the IIT brand.

Let’s begin with the opening of new IITs. Decision to open more premiers engineering institutions. Excellent. Calling them IITs. Short-sightedness. The concept of Brand Dilution may not make sense to the babus of Shaastri Bhawan but it does mean something in the rest of the world. We do not have twelve Stanfords, fifteen Oxfords or twenty two ETHs. The argument is if we have more IITs then we will have more IITians and hence by more hyper intelligent engineers! But IITs don't make people clever. They just provide the finishing touches to people who are already very smart. And I don't know whether people have noticed but we as a race have always faced a shortage of smart people. By having a few more buildings, we won’t end raising the IQ of the people occupying them. It does not work that way, Mr. Singh.

For some reason elitist has become a bad word in this country. Anyone who opposed calling the new institutes IITs are called elitists who want to prevent others from enjoying the facilities of an IIT. Yes, IITs are elitist. That’s because they were meant to be. The irreproducible campus culture would not have been possible if they allowed anybody in. If MIT allowed ten times the people in, would it have remained an attractive option as it is now? Is being the very best something to be looked down upon? Is propagating mediocrity the way ahead? Rather providing the new institutes with the same facilities but a different name would help in creating a new brand altogether which would build its own reputation over time. The gestation period for these new IITs will be quite a few years and in all probability the students passing out would not help in building the IIT brand further.

And will someone please pay attention to the problems faced by the current IITs before establishing half a dozen more? There is a massive crunch in faculty in all the IITs. While the administration is still trying to figure out how to fill the hundreds of vacant posts, we have another 6 adding to the problem. Recruitment of an IIT faculty member is no mean task. The applicants have to go through the strictest of screening procedures before making it as an assistant professor. Makes sense. They are supposed to educate and inspire the brightest set of people. It is difficult for a student to respect his or her teacher, leave alone learn, if the teacher is intellectually deficient and not qualified enough. So where are the teachers going to come from for the new IITs? We know they are not out there waiting. They would have filled up the already vacant posts then. So what is the ingenious plan of the government? My guess is they do not have a plan. You need people who can think when you need a plan and rumors suggest having the capability to think is a criterion for disqualification if you want to work for the HRD ministry.

Let’s come to this tiny issue called infrastructure. Experts believe, but then aren't they always wrong, that to run a world class institute it is a good thing if there are actual classes, labs, machines, hostels present in the campus. When the 'sudden' decision to start enrolment in at least 3 new IITs was taken for the year 2008-09, the IIT admission was taken by surprise. One primary reason was the absence of any form of basic infrastructure at the new venues. Other than the state governments securing the land, they didn't have more than a few old buildings. And as a result the already burdened IITs will have to help incubate one of the new ones. Incubate translates to harboring the students of the new IITs till the actual campus is ready.

IITG began similarly. It had humble beginnings, the reason for its establishment was political but with time it has come up very well. Something similar to the conditions now. But there is a difference between 1994 and 2008. In 1994 the existing IITs were not as plagued by a slew of problems as they are now. And an increase of one to the existing list did not bring Brand Dilution in to the picture. Curiously enough right now a survey of the standard of IITs among students will place IITG at the bottom. So 14 years and huge investments haven't actually brought things at par. This brings us back to the contention that it’s not the facilities and infrastructure of the IITs but the students joining them which is responsible for its pre-eminence. One may increase the number of IITs to a hundred but the number of smart people joining them will remain the same and they will continue to prefer the original five.

Let’s stop for a moment and keep the pessimism aside. If the current administration actually pulls off what the Nehru administration pulled off in the fifties, we all naysayers will look like idiots. Then in a few years we would have over 10 IITs producing brilliant engineers and this decision will be hailed as a masterstroke. So why are be criticizing before the idea has even come to fruition. Is that not blatant negativism and aren't we unconsciously preventing quality education for reaching more people? After giving this notion considerable thought I came to the conclusion that in spite of the possibility of a success, I would not be too hopeful. Why? The reason is this. This government consulted no one, did no preliminary survey, and took no IIT in to confidence before proclaiming this new idea. Already admission to those new IITs has been delayed because of a lack of preparations. So is it reasonable to expect that a government which is so short-sighted while taking a decision will be able to manage to actually execute it? Highly improbable.

Now let’s touch over a more contentious issue. Reservation among faculty positions. Sometimes I wonder what exactly the thought process behind such astounding decisions is. I would give anything to lay my hands on the minutes of the meetings in the HRD Ministry at the end of which they come to conclusions as mentioned above. But something tells me there are no meetings as such or any thought process either. Just a flash in the pan decision to create a flutter in the urban media and buy over specific constituencies which would suit the purposes of the honorable HRD minister.

How does reservation come in to the picture where competence should be the only benchmark is something which has been plaguing the minds for a long time. Has here been any instance where a proficient teacher was not given an opportunity because of his caste? Has there been even a single recorded instance of a professor from a disadvantaged background being sidelined by the administration? Is it viable to sacrifice quality in the name of social up liftment which will effect the minutest of percentages? The answer is not in the affirmative for any of the one above. But in turn it will definitely end up making the faculty slowly become conscious of their identity and before long a sense of division will slowly creep in. A system as proposed will wreck havoc with the academic structure in the IITs. Sample this. In a curriculum heavily dependent on the concept of electives, the strength in the class of a particular faculty member depends on his ability to deliver. Never does a student bother to inquire about his or her background. But a reservation facilitated induction may bring in questions regarding the credibility and aptitude of the individual concerned. So we may actually have brilliant Profs trying to justify their right to be in the institute just because they may be from the weaker sections. The chances of that happening are very remote but if there is even one such case; it would be an indelible blemish on the social fabric of the wonderfully heterogeneous IIT campuses.

Reservations restrict brilliance. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of social engineering. Hence it should be used as a policy not indiscriminately but in specific areas. Our research institutions and defense laboratories have almost 50% reservation and as a result countless posts go unfilled which would otherwise have been taken up by skilled individuals. Unfortunately the achievements of those very institutions leave a lot to be desired. If we want to push the IIT education structure in to the same well, then one would really have to doubt whether the hearts and minds of the country are at the right place. Reservations were incorporated to assimilate various sections. Misuse and overuse has resulted in the opposite. It has created sense of identities where we wanted to dissolve those lines of division.

It is very heartening to see the administration stand up to the government in opposing this draconian step. Inspite of all these regressive steps, it is hope that keeps the chins up in the campus. Hope that the government will realize its follies just at the last moment. Hope that the illustrious alumni will convince the authorities of the perils involved. Hope that the students and the faculty will stand together to uphold the sanctity of the institute. Hope that complete autonomy will be decreed and it will unshackle the IITs from the government’s whims.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Magical Mystery Tour

Yes, I was there.

The Exploration & Production Team (North), Shell Gourami 2008.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

30th July, 2008.

11:20 am- 6 :20 pm

One word. Bliss.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


This message is issued in public interest.

The call for a revolution under the Iron-man is suspended till further notice.I am sorry Tony.

My views in this post is rendered obsolete due to something which happened in the weekend.

I apologize for my initial naivety.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Curse of the Blue Agave.

The ring of the phone wakes me up. I get up. The head feels like someone else's. Most probably of the Great Khali. I am wearing my Tshirt. The wrong way. I am wearing my pajamas. The wrong way. My super precious Seiko 21-jewels lay in pieces next to me. My right arm is bruised. My palm punctured by my broken watch. Was I in Mandak? Or Duisburg? Not Siliguri definitely. My thoughts swirled around trying to fix my geographical coordinates. My bunk bed did the trick. Ah, Parmelee. As dazed as a Columbian revolutionary who had his hostages whisked away from under their nose, I carefully climbed down. The phone ring hadn't stopped. Unable to frame coherent sentences, I pick up the phone. There was some good news and some bad news.

The good news was it wasn't mom.
The bad news was it wasn't mom.

Damn Mexicans and their only worthy contribution to the human race.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Three Men on a Boat....of Death.

I have nothing against near death experiences. I have them every four months. As long as they are not too near, I am cool. But I get a little pissed if I am informed in advance that extinction hovered in the vicinity without me being able to do anything about it. Hence the events of last Wednesday left me a little peeved.

Ever since my intern prof mysteriously disappeared and kept in touch through monosyllabic mails, life has been good. In our grief, my lab mate John and me though it would be a good idea if we went fishing Wednesday afternoon. Now when you are fishing in the middle of the week you know your intern has finally taken the right turn. So I readily agreed. So we went off to Douglas lake some miles north of Fort Collins. Offering a soothing view of the Rockies and surrounded by open fields, Douglas lake was the idyllic angler's paradise. When we reached there was just one boat on the lake with the fisherman seemingly asleep. We were to go out on a canoe belonging to John's friend Matt. So it was around 5 in the afternoon when we pushed the tiny canoe into the lake with all of us a little worried about the gathering wind and whether it was a little too strong.

Before things got tough

The next three hours were one of the laziest ever. We slowly rowed around the huge lake enjoying the slowly setting sun. We also happened to catch two huge rainbow trouts too. Now Matt who was pretty good at this told us that its when the sun actually starts setting that we get the best catch. Now during this whole time we had seen not one but two storms slowly approaching from the west and the east. As the whole area was completely open, we could see brilliant flashes of lightning regularly striking somewhere on the western and eastern horizons. By eight when the sun was finally setting both the storms had finally drifted our side. But we were oblivious to the whole thing, excited as we were by the impending deluge of aquatic creatures. As we were admiring a rainbow very close to the shore, a bolt of lightning struck pretty close to where we were. Never a big fan of things which doesn't give me at least a minute to prepare for it, I nonchalantly asked Matt what were the chances of us getting struck by a bolt or two. Both Matt and John laughed and said they have lived in Colorado long enough to know when to be wary of a thunderstorm. I went back to my fishing rod. It started drizzling. Just two minutes later Matt shouted, “get down! Go low!”. Now when one is in the middle of the lake, it is difficult to imagine what we should get low from. Flying fishes? Bullets from the near-by shooting range? I confess I was confused with Matt's exclamations. I looked back to see an equally confused John. We both looked towards Matt who was now lying down at the canoe floor. He whispered, “ I felt static. A lot of it. Didn't you guys hear it?” Simultaneously we noticed his hair were standing kind of erect. Now those of you with a scientific bent of mend will appreciate this. We know that we sometimes get signs where lightning is about to strike. Hair standing on our head, feeling a lot of static energy around you etc etc. Oh wait, thats a coincidence! It took me ten seconds to realize that Uncle Yamraj was near. Another ten seconds of reflection confirmed why. All three of us had these upmarket graphite reinforced fishing rods. Now as luck would have it, graphite conducts electricity pretty well. (Where is a diamond fishing rod when you need one!) So there we were, three idiots, in the middle of a huge lake, during a thunderstorm, pointing three perfect conductors towards the sky. What could possibly go wrong?

Now getting struck by lightning is fine. But being informed a few moments before that you are going to be struck by lightning, is a very different affair indeed. I am sure all of you know that feeling of imminent vaporization. I felt like that piece of sodium which the eight grade chemistry teacher shows around to the class before plunging it in water. The phrase 'sitting ducks' was never more clear to me. Though one part of felt maybe the strike would end up giving me supernatural powers and I could be the next character in Heroes. The worst part was no one knew I was fishing that afternoon. I would undergo a change of state and no one would ever know of it. And even if I survived I would still be in the middle of the damn lake.

That very moment, a bolt of lightning struck right near the shore. Simultaneously our boat swayed sharply to the left. Matt's fishing line was being pulled strongly and it was evident that in the middle of all this melee, we had just caught our biggest fish. Matt, now presented with this conundrum of rowing for his life or getting hold of his fishing line took a quick decision. He chose fish over life. He pulled with all his might and drew the fish close. But then tragedy struck again, the fish turned out to be a huge trout which unnerved Matt further and he let go of the line for a few seconds which was enough for the fish to make its escape. So now we didn't have the fish either and gazillions of electrons could hit us any moment. First thing we did was to stop pointing our fishing rods out and get our wooden oars out. Then the next ten minutes would have done any Onam boatman proud.

On the run

We made it to the shore without getting zapped and packed up the boat in record time and made our way out of there. And we lived to fish another day. Most probably this Wednesday again.

The days final tally

This post is dedicated to Roy Sullivan who survived after being struck by lightning seven times during his career as a park ranger. He finally died after he shot himself over a failed love affair. So the moral of the whole story is you have a better chance with 7 lightning strikes than a woman. May Roy rest in peace. There is another school of thought who believes that a man who could handle seven lightnings but not a woman deserved to die anyway. The reader is free to choose their side.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Changing Loyalties: The Rise of Meta

This is my second post on Meta in 2 months but I have to do it as the new Meta-evangelist. This post might create sharp divisions in the engineering community. If the reader is offended, I am sorry. It was meant to be divisive.

The hand that rocks the cradle of molten metal, rules the world”- Recent Chinese Proverb.

Summers are good. Not just because I get a chance to continent hop and taste the best ale ever made. Summers mean the time for Hollywood blockbusters. Somehow the best and most hyped movies always get released in the summer. And the ones which win the Oscar, in winter.

Last year's memorable summer was made overtly memorable with Ocean's 13, Die Hard 4, POTC 3, Spiderman 3 and so on. Can anyone forget John Mclain ramming his car into the helicopter at the end of the tunnel. Or Keith Richards playing Papa Sparrow. So when I saw this years line-up I was pretty impressed. Indi was coming back but without his dad. We were being asked not mess with the Zohan. The Guru of Love promised to solve all our problems. A panda was supposed to master the most complex of martial arts. Maxwell Smart showed he is in control. Hancock pissed us off with his attitude. The Joker promised to put a smile on our face. The Hulk was back. A bit greener and definitely more incredible. And of course Tony Stark asked us why we cant have both fear and respect.

But this is not a review of movies. This post is about a declaration. I have finally decided to change loyalties. Let me explain. Of all the comic book super heroes, I always accorded Batman the greatest of respect. He was the one who didn't have any special powers and yet was so cool. And he always got to fight with the best villains. Not even Clooney's disastrous rubber uniform put me off the dark knight. So when Batman Begins showed the world how superhero movies should be made, I had had a satisfied smile on my face. Needless to say the biggest thing this summer for me was the epic battle scheduled between the knight and the Joker. But then suddenly, a certain thing happened. I met Tony Stark.

Now before I go ahead about Tony, let me talk about the metallurgical aspect of the post. Its of course a well known fact that we metallurgists have been discriminated against through ages. We are like the Jews of the engineering world. In spite of having ages (Iron, bronze, etc) named after our creations, we are never accorded the same respect as say, those insignificant chemical engineers. Have any of you heard of any thing called Age of Transport Phenomenon in history? Well, I haven't. Of course we meta boys are waiting patiently for our time. Its not long before the revolution comes when we and the ship builders (Nav-Arc boys, are you listening?) will once gain take over the world. And all non-believers and heretics will head for the blast furnace. Among the Mech community, we will spare only Pota as he knows more meta than all of us combined.

So when I met Tony I realized the revolution is near. Over many decades we metallurgists have always been portrayed as screen villains. Magneto, Metal Sonic, Blacksmith, Dr Alchemy, Composite Superman, Kryptonite man, Metallo, an array of superbly crafted robots with a taste for fine alloys, the list is endless. Just like the stereotyped cunning Jew of of the eighteenth century, we metallurgists have always been shown as connivingly altering carbon concentrations and modifying microstructures and preparing for the world' destruction. So when Tony nonchalantly said,'Yes, I can fly', I realized a historic wrong had finally been corrected. The world finally got her first metallurgist Superhero. On film.

After watching Ironman, I, with a heavy heart, decided its a time for a change. I had to shift form the camp of the Dark knight and become a loyal Ironsmith. He would lead the revolution. He was The One. He had even solved the icing problem which had been bothering us for centuries. While ideally I belong to the Magneto school of thought, I feel this moment belongs to us and we metallurgists cannot be divided on the basis of ideology. So I give out a call to all my brethren. Lets unite under Tony and get back what always belonged to us. The earth for instance. Lets again have ages named after our creations. If you want this decade to be called the Age of 3016 SS, this is our chance.

And as for the rest of you, join us while you can. And those who don't, the remember the furnace is just getting warmed up.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Try Believing This.

Date: 15th June
Time: Sometime in the afternoon
Place: Pine View Falls, Poudre River, Colorado

People screaming: Sayan,Shantanu,Abhay,Narayan,Vikram.
People not screaming: Melissa, the guide.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Should one celebrate one's 8401 st rotation around the earth's axis?

Well, I have no reason to.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Shaastra 2008- The teaser.

The Publicity Teaser for Shaastra 2008.

It shows a brilliantly choreographed sequence of IITM students forming various images denoting the influence of science and technology over the ages.

The boys responsible for it: Mamme, Moli, Gowri, Nelson, Shanmukh, DAS & Choreo Team.

Narrative penned by kirtika and Voiced by Hypo

Meta 04- A Tribute

There are 2 reasons why I am writing this article. Firstly I have nothing to do. Secondly what is written here needs to be documented urgently or else a crucial aspect of IITM between 2004 and 2009 will be erased from the human memory.

I have always felt that Meta boys in the institute have been underrated by the rest of the student community. While I agree our labs get over in 10 minutes and it takes an inhuman effort on our part not to fail a course, it is not reason enough to doubt the capabilities of a batch. But thankfully Meta-04 has changed that. For ever.

I will avoid an endless rant on how great the batch has been. Rather I have listed below some of the major incidents and achievements. The conclusions can be drawn by the reader. And if it doesn’t match mine then the reader is requested to read it again.

  1. We were the first batch to get BTPs allotted to us by the department. Randomly. In our bid not to be outdone, we then attempted to be the first batch to reject BTP allotments. A meeting called up the acting HOD saw no turnout and no one met their allocated Profs as a sign of polite protest. The result: Overturning of decision and Re-allotment. And in cases where it wasn’t done, the student(s) got down their parents to the dean’s office with subtle threats of suicide in view of mental agony.
  2. We all began our Meta dream under one of India’s foremost scientists. After heading one of the nuclear plants of the country for a decade and serving the country in multitude of ways he decided to continue his service by teaching Meta first years. But an individual who the US thinks is too dangerous to be given a visa, wasn’t good enough for us. We demanded a change. And we got it.
  3. For years have Meta batches been complaining about the P factor in their final year. Countless names have been sacrificed at the annual December massacre. Every year batches proclaim that this is it and they are going to take one final stand. No one ever did and the killings continued reducing the plight of students to an Insti-wide joke. And then P met 04. Already bruised from the BTP allotment scam, P failed all. Except 8. What followed will be called the December Revolution in the future. Cutting across a massive morass of red tape, one of the greatest compilations of anecdotes, proof, data and history took place. A case, which Crane Poole Schmidt would have been proud of, dragged on for days before a specially constituted committee. After an agonizing month, the impossible was achieved. The results were over turned and finally the P was replaced. Meta was never going to be the same again.
  4. Even the famous trip to Jamshedpur got rescheduled for the first time ever. In an unprecedented move, it happened in the middle of the semester which earned the students a 2 week holiday from classes.
  5. Meta parties reached a new level altogether. What once upon a time used to be limited to MSB 104, doesn’t happen in anything lesser than a full fledged beach resort.
  6. A department famous for its students apping in droves saw a mind boggling 2 people going out this year. Interestingly another first has been the BP 1 not being one of those 2. Instead he has decided to drill holes in the ground.
  7. One of the curious things which happened which sent shockwaves through the Btech community was the unprecedented conversion of three individuals from Btech to Dual. The Whys and Hows of the incident has never been answered but the batch will always been known as the one where 3 converted to dual.
  8. We almost got a course and its end-sem cancelled when one of us exclaimed it was too boring. The lessons were dispensed with immediately and all of us given projects to make life interesting.
  9. We made the biggest Amalgam ever possible. Yes. Finally Amalgam, big and success were in the same sentence.
  10. Slots were shifted. From morning to afternoon. From afternoon to evening. From 3-2. From 2-1. Labs supposedly happened. Courses were supposedly taken.
  11. The batch saw 3 institute secretaries, a host of hostel secretaries, 2 core members, substantial insti sports team members, brilliant thespians, inspirational singers and a political godfather of the institute. Yes they all sat in the same class. Listening to Guha.
  12. The comeback of Topa: if there were any comeback stories, this would top them all. A guy who wasn’t seen for 3 years hands out his notes to the rest of the class today. Pure class. Period.

I am sure I have missed out on a multitude of other anecdotes. I do have a bad memory. But what I do remember is there was hardly a boring moment in the last four years. And that’s saying a lot when you have been learning grain boundary movement since eternity. Please inform me if I have missed out on anything substantial and I shall update it.

Here’s raising a toast to Meta 04.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The E Company- Where life is a celebration.

Well here it is finally. The Greatest Ever Wing Video.

Its been Legen......wait for it...... dary!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

11 reasons why I shall remember Saarang 2008.

11. The Brilliant Grub at Saarang village. Special mention for Gujrati Thepla & Rajathan Kulfi

10. Waking up daily to Prof Maiyya’s phone calls asking about ticket counts.

9. Getting introduced to a crack of a song ‘Louie Louie’ thanks to spent prelims.

8. Making the wonderfully self indulgent Bacchan LVC.

7. Waking up at 9 30am and realizing am 30 mins late already for my most waited quiz of the year.

6. Watching Mash and Haridoss decimate Stella Maris.

5 .A saarang in which Pota didn’t win anything! (Incidentally he didn’t participate in anything).

4. Successfully executing my dream coordship- India Quiz!

3. Watching Udaan perform.

2. Finally winning something at saarang. That too in the last ever saarang quiz team-up with Nai. Also the record of me, Nai , KV coming second in every quiz together continues.

1. Watching Lucky Ali perform the classics. (That’s one major thing off my bucket list)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Redefining VTOL.

Source: Arun & Team's valiant effort this afternoon at the stadium.