Archive for March, 2006

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March 30, 2006

Well we had our gymkhana elections last week. I stood for the post of senator and was elected. Elections this time (in my opinion, w.r.t. the election of the executives) didn’t involve as much politics as last time.

This weekend, we have our hostel (HEC) elections. The manifestoes of the candidates make interesting reading. Then, my group’s TA201 projects are nearing completion. Exams start from 21st April. I haven’t studied for the past 2 weeks because of various reasons, so hope to start sometime soon. The Hall-Days of some of the hostels are scheduled to take place over the next three days…so I am spared from eating the mess food, which has started deteriorating again.

Acads this sem has been mixed…I think I would get A’s in 2 courses. The rest…lets see. So far, this semester has been quite good on the whole (non-academically) …I just hope it ends on a high.

That’s it for now.

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March 19, 2006

Well an update on my planned exchange to Singapore : I most likely won’t be going, as it would mean swapping a lot of courses between semesters and moreover. Also, I may not be able to take some of the courses that I am interested in.

Profs tell me that NUS is really good in terms of research output (better than the IISc/IITs) but the teaching is not that good (the IITs are renowned for their alumni and teaching, its just that only the former is hyped up by the media) and the quality of students coming in is not so good. Teaching has never affected my learning much and so given a chance I probably would have liked to go to NUS on exchange but as of now, the courses pose a problem and moreover, after going for a tour around campus during the midsem recess, I’ve kind of become attached to it, so missing a sem… I don’t know.

Anyway…yesterday I listened to something that kind of shook me… I went to church as usual, in the evening and we had this medical professor delivering the message : He was posted in a college in Kanpur and recently shifted to Bhopal. The college there offered him more freedom and so he was able to go to a missionary hospital in Kashmir to do some charity work.

There, he found out that the hospital head was his classmate at JIPMER. This classmate apparently had been the all India topper for the JIPMER entrance and was among the toppers in college too. He was a brahmin who converted to Christianity. In the last year of college while everyone was preparing for their postgraduate entrance exams, he made a decision : he wanted to serve in a charity hospital in Kashmir.

This was the dialogue between him and the medical prof (who delivered that message)
“You’re going to Kashmir? This is crazy! Do you know how many charity hospitals are there in Kashmir?”
“No”
“Well there are none”
“Then I will start one”
“How many people do you know in Kashmir?”
“None”
and with that, he walked out of the house, and they didn’t meet for 8 years when this medical prof went to the charity hospital in Kashmir.

Apparently, the hospital had been attacked several times by militants. The last time they came, they shot a few people outside the hospital, came in, put a gun to this man’s head and told him to close down the hospital in 24 hours or they would shoot him. The man had said “God asked me to start this hospital and so I did. I will not leave this place. If you wish to kill me, you may do so”.

The militants left him and didn’t ever come back.

This whole testimony shook me. The fact that this person actually was risking his life for what he believed in shook me. I am nineteen years old and some people think that I have achieved a lot in life by clearing JEE and getting the Lucent schol but now I really wonder, if I had been in that situation, would I have stood up for what I believed in or would I have run away? I guess I would have run away. But then what is the point of having n achievements if I don’t stand up for what I believe in?

Looking back at my stay at IITK, I suddenly realise that I had in some way, run away a few times : In my first year, I was against the idea of ragging and boycotted it. At the same time, I thought that if ever I got a chance, I would do all I could to stop ragging, at least in my hostel. Eventually I was elected a Hostel Executive Committee member. But I’ve just realised that despite being able to do something, I have just been a spectator.

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March 15, 2006

Well another month has passed by. Again, a lot has happened…midsems came and went…and they went slightly better than last time. I no longer have problems with mood-swings anymore.

Presently, I have a week of hols…I decided to stay back in campus during these hols as both Muscat and Kerala are too far away to go just for a week. I spend my time here watching movies, trying to start my Database Project, doing a bit of website work… I had plans of updating my website but feel too lazy now.

The latest major thing in my life is that I might go to the National University of Singapore on exchange next semester from August to December. NUS has agreed on the exchange, IITK hasn’t yet approved it… Actually I need permission from the DUGC and SUGC. The SUGC has verbally approved it but I haven’t yet asked the DUGC (which is where the problems are very likely to occur as I don’t think all the 5th sem courses at IITK are offered in the odd sem at NUS).

Assuming everying goes okay, I’m somewhat keen on going for the exchange but when I first heard that I had been selected, I initially thought of declining the offer. The reason? I didn’t like the idea of leaving campus for so long. Somehow, though I’ve been on campus for less than 2 years, I’ve become attached, both to the campus and the people here.

Great. Now after writing that last paragraph I’m again wondering if I should go 😦
I don’t know… when I left school in Muscat and came to IIT Kanpur, though I had to leave my parents, the school where I had studied in for 11 years, I didn’t feel homesick at any point of time.

Looking back I guess I didn’t feel it so much then because all the preparation for JEE had somehow mentally hardened me, as a result of which my emotions didn’t affect me so much… I sort of became a bit like a robot. But after coming here and interacting with people, I’m once again the way I used to be long long ago, someone who is a human, with emotions and feelings…which is why though in my first two semesters here, I never felt homesick, suddenly, in the middle of the third sem, I suddenly wanted to be with my parents again and started feeling homesick…though it wasn’t for long.

Anyway, I guess in the end I probably will go for the exchange…actually at school we had this kind of exchange program (About 10 of the 120 students of my batch ended up going to places like Australia, Germany and South Africa…most to Australia) and those who went had a really great time.

I had also wanted to apply for an exchange then but I knew that if I went on exchange, I would have a nice time but it would be saying goodbye to my dreams of getting into IIT, as those who went found it hard to cope with the CBSE 11th standard syllabus that they would miss, leave alone JEE syllabus. So at that time, I suppressed my feelings and went on with my JEE prep without even asking my parents if I should go.

When my classmates came back, they described their exchanges as “the experience of a lifetime” and for some time I wished that I had gone. Anyway, I guess sometimes in life you have to make decisions, and often there is no right or wrong, no better or worse, its just the way you go on, believing in your choice. In my case, it turns out that I was lucky enough to get into IITK like I wanted and now go on exchange (hopefully, assuming my DUGC agrees).

So that’s that. Regarding my summer internship, I still don’t know which company I will be interning with though it would most likely be at Bangalore. Thanks to the Lucent schol. I’m entitled to an internship with either Lucent, Blore or Bell Labs, Blore. I have also applied to Yahoo and plan to apply to Google but since I’m a second year, I don’t really know what my chances are as they usually prefer 3rd yrites.

Most of my batchmates plan to do a project at IITK. Most of them don’t seem to be very interested in the project per se and some openly tell me that they are doing it for the sake of doing it. I happened to have a few informal talks with a prof (not of my deptt). He said he had taken on a few students for projects but wasn’t sure what to give them as he wasn’t sure of their commitment.

The placement season at IITK is coming to a close. Placements have been really good last time. Ditto for the internship scene, for my deptt (well its ‘good’ assuming you consider offers from outside India to be ‘good’). The schol scene hasn’t been that good. Seniors say that this is because the recos that profs gave weren’t so good. I asked a prof about this and he said that profs, as of now, are significantly more disillusioned with students than they were 3-4 years back.

I don’t know… there are plenty of things wrong with the attitude of students of IITK (and I’m also a student of IITK, so it applies to me too) but its tough for a few individuals to change it (whether the individuals are profs or students).

I guess this post has become a bit long and should compensate for the one month silence.