Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Hindi Teacher

He was a short old man, with a bald patch, the patch almost engulfing the entire space on the head. He used to be dressed in a light coloured blue shirt and a pant that seemed to find its perfect place way below the belly which extended to many centimeters above the ankle. A comb to trim the patch was embedded in one of the packets. Now and then, with effortless ease, he used to shake his head in such a way that those one or two strands of hair settled across the patch to make it look that he did have some hair. Of course, he did it convincingly, but others disbelieved with equal conviction. His slippers were never noticed, as nobody really cared for any further details after all this joke.

He entered the classroom amidst wild jeers and heavy boos with the book tucked in neatly under his arm. He would place the attendance register on the table, and get ready to call out the rooool numbers. As soon as he called out number 38 or whatever, he would say Roool number 38, aage aayiye (Roll No 38, Please come forward). Sadly, the guy with roll number 38 was the unfortunate me. I also used to try my luck to sit in the back benches in every class, but always ended up in the front desks. The history dated back to time when one of the guys in the class whistled in his class, and he thought that was me. Sadly, till date, I do not know how to let out that shriek through the narrow passage through the mouth. That really put me to the front bench much to my anguish. I used to seeth with rage at his very sight, and the way he used to talk really put me off. He would make that customary glance from the book he was reading to make sure that people would be scared by that eerie stare of his. But, the Pre-University college boys never cared. The back benchers would still be hooting and shouting without a trace of scare. Our Mr. Hindi Teacher would never venture out to the back benches to see what was happening. Obviously, he is an old man with a fragile mass. Anything could happen! His narration in the class used to be accompanied by comic gestures that could never find appreciation with the students. He used to make a total mockery out of the subject. His tone followed the middle path - which was conveniently middled to a man and a woman. He was a sort of person who could never command any respect from anyone.

In all, he was a person whom I would not want to meet again in my life. There are some people who are inspiring and unforgettable, and some whom you may end up thinking about them, but for all the wrong reasons. He was one of those who really made life miserable for those around him.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Marriage and Ootah!

Imagine driving 1200 miles on your car spanning over 20 hours. It certainly looks ominous, but mad fellows that we are, we travelled the entire distance to and fro. Yadu, Rama and I decided to take the road route to avoid massive expenditure that could be incurred from a flight journey. So, we started looking for good deals to rent a car that would provide us with unlimited mileage outside Missouri. This advantage could not be gained by hiring a car at Rolla. So, we had to look for car rentals outside Rolla, and finally zeroed up on Budget in St. Louis. By the way, if you are wondering why we had to go all the way to Utah, it was because we were invited to be a part of Ashwin's wedding ceremony.

We left for St. Louis on August 16 by hiring a car from Rolla. Thankfully, one of the guys dropped us all the way to St. Louis. We were provided with a premiere vehicle in the form of Mercury Marquis to travel all the way. Later did we realise, that it was going to be a guzzler. We were getting a mileage of only 24 for the entire trip. There were only two drivers for the entire trip in Yadu and Rama, while the third person was busy reading Mahabharata and PG Wodehouse in the back seat. No prizes for guessing who the reader is! We first concentrated on the drive to Kansas City, because that's where we were expected to have lunch. We took the buffet at 2PM at Korma Sutra. This place is in the downtown and it wasn't as delicious as the one which is off the city limits. After a hearty meal, we settled for an eight hour drive to Denver, which is in the mountainous limits of Colorado. We reached Denver at about 11 PM, and we were thankful to spend the night in the confines of Rama's cousin's place.

After a good brunch next day, we were set to travel to Salt Lake City, which was a 10 hour travel from Denver. This was a pretty good drive and the scenic beauty was a sight to behold as the roads were encapsulated in a mountainous background, providing a breathtaking view for atleast four hours of the travel. We were also rendered offtrack, as we took on unpaved roads at a particular junction, and travelled on that road for about an hour. If you are wondering what we were doing traveling on unpaved roads, we have Yadu's GPS you see. That made things really simple! We reached Salt Lake City at about 10 PM, and Ashwin had made the necessary arrangements for our stay at the hotel. We were then taken for dinner at a nearby pizza joint.

We got up early next day, and started to get ready for Ashwin's big moment. We had to wear our suits and ties, and present ourselves for the occasion. It was an Indo-American marriage, and we got to witness the gest of both the styles. It was obviously an emotional moment for his parents. It is definitely a big occasion for everyone concerned. The marriage was conducted at the Salt Lake Temple, a part of the Mormon religious heritage center. It is a massive structure where all are allowed to admire the stunning edifice of the temple and its immediate surroundings. But, the entry to the temple is limited only to the Mormans. There was a joyous gathering of well-wishers and relatives, and as the couple emerged out of the temple, were greeted with loud shrieks. The couple were then photographed with every relative and friend present in the temple, and each movement was captured in a new frame. That should give you the estimate of the number of photographs taken.

We then moved on to the Willard, a building which is just two streets away from the temple. At the 23rd floor, a luncheon was organized along with the religious ceremony to be conducted in Indian style. There was a priest from the local Indian temple at Utah to conduct the ceremony. It went on for about half an hour, with the bride and the groom attired in Indian style. With the formalities completed, we feasted on the Indian menu - Cashew Biryani, Channa Masala, Saab Alu, Butter Naan, Paneer Masala, Paysam and Mango Lassi.

By the time, we went back to the hotel, all of us had our eyelids battling for rest. All of us had a sound sleep and awakened in the evening to have a good Indian dinner at Bombay House. We did not have much time for sight-seeing, as we were all tired too. So, the next day, we bid adieu and headed back to Rolla, but this time a 20 hour non-stop travel that included the night too! It was good to be safe and sound back in Rolla.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The G Gang and The Professors

In life, there are certain things that are unexplainable in a few words. The Gandu Gang fits in this picture. There are so many things that we did in four years of our Engineering that I just have to go back to time and pick events that have given us abundant happiness. The Part I had a vivid account of the Gandus (obviously, we belong to the Gandu Gang right!!), about how we met and how things changed in those four years. PESIT had a reputation of being a highly structured and disciplined college, and the fun was to break the system from within and to do it flawlessly. There is no doubt that it is one of India's premiere Engineering colleges, but what we did within the confines of the campus was fun and joyous.

It is nice fun to talk about teachers and lecturers of school and college. So, let me list the entities who made our life fun-filled in those many years.

Mr. X = He was the man who handled our C programming class in the second semester. When he entered the class for the first time with the briefcase, we anticipated a laptop emerge out of that worn out leather stuffing. We waited endlessly and relentlessly for those few minutes, and then as he opened the suitcase, we saw papers being ruffled out and out emerged the notes. He was not as hi-tech as what we anticipated. He was after all still in the 20th century. How can we forget the way Anand M was (mis)handled in one of the classes. Obviously, M is not an austere and quiet person. He deserved that and all the more. Which lecturer would keep quiet if he went on chattering endlessly when the whole class was quiet? Now, He would kill me for that. Ok, on a more serious note, Anand M, can you explain what in the world you were doing that caught his attention when the whole class was busy chatting and writing practical records? I am sure he must have done something to unnerve the great man. Mr. X had a scooter that was an object of interest for all the students. It was an old 1985 (or older) model of Bajaj scooter, with an orange-yellow tinge which would speed past at not more than 20 kmph. Chakra had the luxury of trying out this unlocked vehicle and of course without the knowledge of its owner.

Ms. Maths: Now, which maths lecturer do I talk about. There were so many different people handling the class. Ok, I will talk about RS Flip Flop. This flip flop had the problem of racearound condition as we all know, and the real life was no different. It is no easy task to manage a bunch of jokers in the class racing around one another in terms of the incessant chatter generated. How can I forget the third semester? Prasad and I were at the receiving end of the RS flip flop. Both of us were in the illustrious list of having got to spend the entire semester outside the class. What was the reason? Both of us were not listening in the class. Now, what is new in that? There was a much more funny incident in the second semester. Anand M and Kanna were as usual busy with their pranks, when the flip flop decided to act on both the elements. You would expect both of them to be kicked out of the class right! But sadly for Kanna, the flip flop lambasted Kanna and to top it all pitied M for sitting next to this dangerous creature. I still remember the dialogue, How in the world are you able to sit next to this guy and concentrate in class? Ooof...Very sad!!! Everyone in the class was ROFL (Rolling on the Floor in Laughter)!!! Even Anand M couldn't believe he had heard rightly and none of us could figure out whether that was a compliment or an insult!!!

Mr. Maths: He was a mild mannered man, and wouldn't hurt a fly even in his dreams. But, we of the Gandu gang did not care about such trivial things. The flip flop was amended, and an N was added. Yes guys! You are guessing it right! He was NRS. We were the elite group which was dismantled in the first semester. To put it plainly: We were driven out of the class. I think it was me, Prasad, Gopal, Robin and whom? Do you remember who it was? I think we were the only guys to be out of the class and history will remember us for this sole reason of having offended this great soul.

Ms. Maths II: Now who is this part II. She was taking special classes right through the first semester and that too on Saturdays. The worst part was we couldn't decipher what was happening in the class. But you see, we were concerned about attendance and we hapless creatures attended all these classes without a choice. But, Prasad had a soft corner for this lecturer. Now, I wasn't spared here either. I still remember the day when I had attended the fest in RVCE, and though my friends told me that we should be staying in RVCE until the end of the day, I did not relent, as I wanted to attend this class. I was worried about attendance you see. Fifteen minutes into the class, and I was driven out of the class and sadly without attendance. Can it get worse?

Ms. Maths III: Do you remember the tamil teacher who taught us in the fourth semester. She was a nice mild mannered lady. AT Rajesh had a great time in the class, for he consistently adjusted the proxy settings depending on who was absent. I don't remember Robin attending a single Maths class during this semester. Ask him about it and he will deny it? That's Robin for you!!!

Ms. NA: I still remember the first test in the third semester when the whole class faltered in this test. Network Analysis was not a tough subject, but by the third semester, we knew how the college functioned and started to exploit the loopholes! We were not very serious about the tests, and there started our decline in our performance. I still remember how angry she was with the class at our pathetic performance. But overall, she was really concerned about our performance in the class. How can we forget the first semester, when we were driven out for not using our calculators!

Mr. Malaysia: Well, atleast that's what I thought the name was for a long time. He was obsessed with CROs, and I still cannot fathom why in the world we had stuffs on our first and second test which was way out of the syllabus. He also had this obsession for POTs. Now, Pots does not mean something that has got to do with mud pots, but it refers to Potentiometers. Any circuit which is not functioning had one solution: POT use maadri!!! Anybody still remembers the Class B amplifier in the third semester. He had set a record with his fantastic and complicated circuit. It had 6 POTs.

Mr. SVS: He was an amazing man who handled Civil Engineering for us in the first and second semester (with SOM). I still remember how Robin made a fool out of himself in the class. What sort of a load is that? asked Mr. SVS. Sir!! It is a shagging..no no....sagging load sir..told the great man. Kannappan had got caught in this class for laughing. Guess who had made the comment? Obviously it was the author.

Ms. Mup, Signals and Systems, Comp Arch, Mobile Comm: She was the undisputed number one in teaching. Why do I say that? See the variety of subjects she has handled. Now to put it plainly, she was one teacher where not a single guy understood anything in class. I can vouch for that. She did not care to understand that we did not understand and neither did she make an attempt to make herself understood. She was a one in a billion teacher. Now to the incidents, AT and Ramesh landed a basketball right in front of her during the COA class. The entire class was chucked out and we walked out in glee! We were kicked out of her class many many times. Does anybody remember the mobile seminar I gave in class during the sixth semester? When she pointed out that I had made a mistake somewhere, the whole class screamed: No, he was right!!!! She was an unforgettable lady!!!

Mr. KVN: Now, he was one of the most amazing lecturers in class. He was known for his witty repartees, and I am not sure whether he understood what he spoke. AT Rajesh used to follow him in class when he was moving about. KVN knew what he was doing and one day refered to him as an electron. Are you an electron or what I say? retored KVN in glee.

Mr. Murugesan: The first time we were waiting eagerly for the new DSP Professor. In came Mr. Murugesan, and as usual the reception to him was no different compared to the other professors. He was so annoyed with us that he told us, You don't know about me. I can ruin your DSP career. That was heights!!!

Mr. Siddharaju: He was an amazing individual. He handled ITC for us. He was nice in the sense that he allowed us to do what we wanted in class provided we did not disturb him. So, obviously he had good Teacher Evaluation Ratings. Does anybody remember why I was thrown out of his class? Let us see how many of you know it!!!

In spite of all the little trivias about our undergraduate lecturers, we still have a great admiration for everyone. Being in teaching career is no joke, and these people have spent so many years with us that it is impossible to forget them for the rest of our life. Though we have got kicked out of the class by every teacher, the regard for them will stick on forever. I will update the other professors in the next post.

Keep reading and post your comments!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The G Gang

Pic: Robin, Harry(though not a part of G gang), Prasad, Me, MAK, Gopal, Anand M and Kanna (Anand Raghavan - missing link)

What is the G Gang?
A post pending for really a long time to reflect upon the atrocious activities commited by us during our college days at PESIT. The characters of this gang are highly contagious creatures who can land themselves in trouble at the slightest pretext, and of course more importantly can get others in trouble all the more easily. The G Gang sounds rather filmy, but the title is transfixed due to certain high profile characters outside the gang. The G gang was thrown upon by a highly studious element in the class, and being highly shameless and uncaring, the gang took it as a compliment to prefix it with a G. Before you get into G-spot and other outrageous abbreviations, let me get this straight. Those guys are not fit for anything. It is the gandu gang, screamed the good samaritan. We laughed around on hearing this from the good guy's friend. We took it as a joke though it was hurled in a fury. At any point in those four years, we never flattered to deceive. We were always thought of as a bunch of jokers and we lived upto the people's expectations.

Who are we?
A set of complex and intriguing characters can be formed either in a classroom or in a mental asylum. Luckily, we got together at the former place. The kind of misdeeds commited by us could have so easily got us at the latter place. Let me take you to the main protagonists. We were a group of eight guys, and to sum us up in alphabetical order

Pic: In the college auditorium

Anand M: The intricate gray matter has saved him many times from another protagonist.
Anand Raghavan: A reserved and hard working guy who got spoilt in the group!
Arun Kumar: The chess whiz kid and a favourite with the professors.
Gopalakrishna A: A silent killer with well-defined ambitions
Kannappan: You remember the guy who has saved Anand M on many occasions. Well! He is the guy.
Prasad: He had a weird quote in his wallet at all times.
Praveen GK: Notoriously bothered about getting out of class.
Praveen K aka Robin: A cricketer who cared more about others than self.

How did we meet?
The first day in class, and after a tiring bus journey(it was a one hour journey on bus number 188), I came to the packed classroom. I was all the more angry since classes started on the first day itself. It was not like our Pre-University college, where classes struggled to get going. On the first day itself, I was feeling like an alien, and the questions the first benchers put to the teacher made me feel like an infiltrator in the classroom. I was waiting for the first opportunity to break loose and get out. But, sadly these things happen only in movies and to be honest, I did not have the guts to do all this on the first day itself. You see! I had to create an impression with the teachers! Our classes ran from 8:15 in the morning to 3:45 in the evening. There was a break from 10:15-10:45 in the morning, and there was another break for lunch at 12:45 that extended upto 1:30 PM. Now, how would you not call that a demanding schedule? So, as soon as I entered the class, these things obviously cannot enliven a person, right! To make matters worse, there was this guy sitting in the last row , and as myself and Gopal settled to the confines of the last bench, he greeted us. Hi! I am Anand from Anand. That was funny! Then, we realised that he is from Gujarat. He was wearing a low class sunglasses, the one which looked like as if he found it when walking on the streets. He wore a disastrous smile, and greeted us askewedly. I returned back the Hi in not so convincing terms. I was sure that he was not a "my type" guy. Gopal and I exchanged a glance that could be understood only by us.

Pic: At the send-off Party! Amazing food from Adigas!

At 10:15, I felt relieved after the Electric Circuits class and MES (Mechanical Engineering Science) class. How can I forget the people who took these classes? They were unforgettable. The break for half an hour was highly refreshing. I just ended up chatting with some of the other guys. The classes progressed like this till the end of the day. Then, when we were heading back home, we found Kannappan and Prasad, whom we realised stayed in close proximity to our area. There, we also found our cool dude, Anand waiting for the bus. On enquiring, we found out that he also stayed in Malleswaram. So, there emerged the Malleswaram Penta- me, Gopal, Kanna, Anand M and Prasad.

Now, how did these guys Anand Raghavan, Arun and Robin fit in our scheme of things. Raghavan happened to be M's lab partner, while Arun aka MAK (M Arun Kumar was his full name) was in their lab. As far as Robin is concerned, he was my lab mate.

So, I guess now finally things are clear as to how we met and came together in this circle of student life!

What did we do?

Pic: Flaunting PESIT Building!

I can safely proclaim that we were a bunch of jokers, apart from the sanity maintained by MAK. The less I talk about Kanna, the better. But, since every aspect of the Gandu gang involves around this great man, how can I stop myself by talking less about this great guy? It was KNR's (Does it ring a bell, guys?) class and these guys Anand M and Kanna were meddling with some book. KNR pointed to these guys and told them to walk out of the class. In the history of the college, noone was kicked out by him and I can bet that noone would ever be kicked out of the class by him. It was obviously shameful since we were all in the first semester. But then we never realised that this incident was the first of many in our engineering career.

Kanna was always the cynosure of the class due to his typical Veerappanish name. He was the butt of jokes from another great duo AT Rajesh and Ramesh Kumar Yadav. Rajesh had this uncanny ability to fit into any gang and befriend them easily. He had a notorious group of friends, but he was the undisputed brain of the class. Talk about a table tennis tournament for mixed doubles or girls, or talk about any announcement in the class, the notice was always suffixed with Kanna's name, thanks to the duo. He was the most popular guy in the college, and sadly even the professors felt that way. Thanks to Kanna, I was a part of our principal's thrown out list, and all the more thanks to Prasad for creating an entirely new dimension to the kicking out incident. Nobody spent more time on studies than Kanna. He would unfailingly study everyday, and during exam time, he would be a symbol of sincerity and hardwork. Of course, everybody in our group knew about his "spendthrift" nature.

Pic: AT Rajesh with his antics!

The coolest among us was undoubtedly Robin. Robin always had this motivation to get involved in things that obviously didn't have to do with him. Who can forget the day when he didn't come for the first two hours of class since his neighbour's car had a flat tyre. That really showed his duty bound nature to others. It always surprised us to see him take so much responsibility at home. Who remembers Shravan? He would unflinchingly do all the work at home, and if time permitted, would be there for the first hour in college. Now, if Robin is reading this, I am sure he would blow my brains out! I also remember the time during the study holidays. That one guy who would be unperturbed by all the xerox copies floating around. He would always do what he considered best. When all of us used to spend time calling up others to find out what they are studying, Robin would be at his usual best fiddling with the basic necessities! Definitely, he was the coolest one.

Do you remember me telling about Prasad carrying a perplexing note in his wallet. The quote reads thus O citizens, first acquire wealth. You can practise virtue afterwards. This used to be his quote at all occasions. An outright guy with a rigid set of ideas. If you had a question to Prasad Hey, Why don't you concentrate in Analog Electronics class? The answer would be Come on man, why bother to learn analog stuff when the world is going digital. If you have to counter that, he would come up with something all the more stupid!! There was no way in the world one can win an argument against this guy. He was one guy who would not even make an attempt to study from the reference text. His statement would be plain What will you understand from that man?.

Gopal was my buddy in PU days. A sincere guy who would try his level best not to get into the bad books of the teachers. I still remember the PU days, when he gave proxy to one of the classmates and the worst part was getting caught for it. That was the day he vowed that he would never do it, and like Bheeshma followed it up dutifully. We refered to him as the silent killer, as he was a very quiet guy but always came up with some or the other behind the back activity.

MAK was a chess whiz kid. He had the ability to play chess for 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. He had built an aura around himself. He could play chess with ten people simultaneously and the best part is defeat all of them blindfolded. We would rate him as the Professors' favourite. He was always a part of the college activities much to the annoyance of Prasad.

Anand Raghavan was a quiet guy, who would spend a lot of time mud-slinging mmmMMMM......Offline comments!!! He was known for his sincerity and dedication, and would always emerge with flying colours after the exams.

Finally, being a modest guy, I wouldn't want to comment much about myself. All I can say is I was a perfect embodiment of everything!!! (I am sure others would be seething in fury seeing this).

Coming to the honest part of classroom education, we never listened to a single word in class, and we were never actually spared by anyone. In the sense, we were "out"going students of every class. There was not a single teacher who has not thrown us out of the class for some reason or the other. But, thankfully, we never changed for the worse. Do you guys remember the Mobile Communications seminar?

Though talks on Gandu gang can go on for days, I am sure I can get enough material to write a book on what we had done in those wonderfuly four years. I am limiting my content here with great difficulty.

Oh! I totally forgot to mention the everlasting name in our memory - Corner Seenu? Now, does that ring a bell?

PS: A tribute to the great time we had in those great four years!

Friday, August 11, 2006

New York Nagaram - Another ARR Magic

As AR Rahman came up with his latest album, Jillunu Oru Kadhal, I expected it to be just an yet another composition from the maestro. But, it turned out to be an amazing musical experience for the listeners. This album from Rahman is one of the best Tamil compositions in recent times. There are about six songs in the album, but the one that caught my attention was New York Nagaram. This song is sung by ARR himself, and the silky voice lends a soothing touch to the song. It is good to see that Rahman is singing more often these days, as we saw in Rang De Basanti and Swades. Both, Lluka Chhuppi and Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera went on to become charbusters. New York Nagaram has become a sort of anthem for the youngsters, with amazing music and unbeatable lyrics from Vaali.

The song starts off in a very unconventional mode, with Rahman lending an out-of-mode humming tune to the song. The humming is soon drowned to a nicetly by the touch of guitar, and then the lyrics flow forth in absolute clarity. The lyrics are not lost in music, as it happens sometimes. But, as long as the music is good, who is going to complain about the lyrics anyways? The perfect ebb in Rahman's voice renders a totally different setting which would have lacked totally with the purists. The modulation in voice, the synchronization, the background beats, the percussions and anything that can be thought of, has resulted in the end product being of very high quality.

This album has already hit the charts in style, and it remains to be seen whether the movie can support the quality of music. It has always been a problem for Rahman in recent times, where the movie has bombed when the music has been of exceptional quality. Bose and Kangalal Kaidhu Sei are perfect examples in this regard. Whatever may be the outcome of the overall music, Rahman as always has set a new trend with New York Nagaram, which undoubtedly is the best song of the album. The freshness in the album is sure to do well with the masses.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

NatWAR in(out of) Congress

It is disgusting to see that one of the cabinet ministers, Mr. Natwar Singh along with his son was involved in the Oil for food program in Iraq. The Congress party wanted to be absolved of all charges. It was surprising to see that the Congress was not getting behind Natwar in the whole issue. Obviously it is clear now. The Congress had to protect its leader and supremo, Ms. Sonia Gandhi as she was clearly at the receiving end. She had supposedly sent letters through Natwar to procure oil contracts in Iraq. Now, this looks like the plot has been lifted directly from a Bollywood flick right. Absolutely filmy! But, then when was politics in India without all the surpise elements. There are so many things going behind the scenes that it becomes virtually impossible to figure out what is happening. We just know of pre-poll alliances and post poll alliances coupled with totally flawed and broken vows, but we have absolutely no clue of the intricacies interwoven in complexities that goes on in the political areana.

Congress was looking at an appropriate opportunity to expel Natwar from the party. Natwar too was making things easy for Congress to come to this decision. He went ahead and moved a privilege motion against Dr. Manmohan Singh, our honourable Prime Minister on the issue of the leakage of Justice Pathak report on the Volcker Commision report. This issue has put Natwar in the limelight as far as other parties are concerned. BJP, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party have made it very clear that they are supporting Natwar and have already begun to portray him as a national hero who was made into a scapegoat. Politics show the true colour in people, but the sad part is people do not have a choice, as the same set of leaders have to come back to power.

This issue has blown up in such a way that it is really going to be interesting to see how this issue shapes up in the coming weeks.