writer’s block…

I used to hate writing. Maybe it was because my handwriting was bad. Maybe it was because I was bad at English – it used to always end up pulling down my averages by a ong way. Maybe because I somehow got this feeling that writing is for girls. I did enter the odd creative writing competition just because my friends were entering, and write some juvenile rhymes. A couple of those rhymes were rewarded also. However, they didn’t spur me to write more.

Cut to Jan 2003. Saarang. Happened to have a long chat with a distant cousin whom I met after a gap of nearly six years. She is a big time writer (unfortunately doesn’t maintain an online journal). Writes all kind of serious stories and poetry (maybe because her sense of humor is lousy). Has published her stuff in the Newsletter of the Association of Descendants of my grandfather’s grandfather (phew!). She was fully engrossed in cracking the Saarang Creative Writing contest. Me happened to put in my two naya paise which she said she found inspirational. And she popped the question.

“SK, why don’t you write? I think it’s simply because you’re too lazy. I’m sure you can write really well if you can put in the effort.” I decided to give it a shot.

I enrolled myself as a correspondent for “the fourth estate”, the then students’ magazine of IITM. Was asked to cover some student elections. Article turned out to be highly scandalous. Me was branded as the “biggest yellow journalist in IITM”. Volunteered to do the newsletter at the following Saarang. Got the job. Continued writing for ‘the fourth estate’. One of my articles succeeded in splitting the editorial board. Me joined the breakaway faction and wrote for the “total perspective vortex” (at last count both these journals had shut down). And came to IIMB.

The great Kodhus (of the shorts fame)started “Twisted Shout” here. Its first article happened to be on me. Me decided to join the journal. Was made “head of political bureau”. Struggled initially. Kodhus wrote a story in four parts. My first contribution was to write the fifth part. Wasn’t so successful. Was asked to report on some internal literary events. Me started a tirade against the organizers. Even caused the cul-sec to make a drama of resignation. Of course, before putting in his papers, he had made sure they’d be rejected. Thanks to me, Twisted Shout lost all its contracts.

We continued to write. And I opened this journal. Other clubs gave us a few contracts which were duly completed. We got “footage of the year” award. I wrote my first independent article. After this came the “valentine’s day special”, a story in two parts written by Kodhus and myself. No other Twisted Shout publication had generated so much public adulation. I followed it up with two other stories in quick succession. Again ‘bestsellers’. And we continued to get the contracts.

Hit the pinnacle yesterday when I got the first contract by myself (all earlier contracts were due to Kodhus and swaadisht). Was asked to draft a press release. As I finished doing this, there was a special sense of accomplishment. I had come the whole hog. From someone who hated to write and thot he was lousy in English to someone who was the first person in campus to be approached when something had to be written…

of intros and gults…

Had been to a cousin’s wedding today… after a long time I was witnessing the wedding function… met many long-lost relatives, and a few others whom i didn’t recognised came adn talked to me as if they’d known me for ages…

My father’s native village is close to the border with Gultland (AP for the uninformed) and hence many of our relatives are from across the border. Gults’ fondness for foreign shores is well known. There is this story that a gult working in Burkina Faso earning one-tenth as much as one in Hyd gets ten times the dowry. (unconfirmed reports say that a Reddy IITian living in the US is ‘worth’ INR 10 million.)

Given this fascination for vilayat among gults and pseudo-gults and half-gults and one-millionth gults, the way I was introduced around at the wedding was damn interesting… especially by certain uncles who hail from places closer to the gultland border than my dad does…

“Meet Karthik. Son of Shashidhar. He is going to London next month”. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing in life. It doesn’t matter what I’ve done in life. Father’s name is just for some reference or ‘handle’. All that matters to these people is that I’m going abroad. And the typical response to this from the person I was introduced to ranged from “my neighbor’s cousin’s uncle’s son works abroad. he’s doing this…” (goes on for around 5 minutes) to “… .. .. .. ” (i forgot what i wanted to put here, sorry )…

I’m going abroad…. hence I’m great…

chilling out…

My idea of a perfect chill-out is to sit under the starry sky, strong wind in the air, a few good friends around me and a coffee dispenser nearby. And talk. Talk as if time didn’t exist. Talk as if there were no tomorrow. Talk about any arbitrary topic under the sun, under the moon I mean. No phones around. No watches in sight. Talk for hours on end…

Unfortunately, given the tight schedules here at IIMB and that people are always ‘running’ for something, such a thing hasn’t materialized for the past few months. Oh, how I miss pat! I mean Sri Gurunath Patisserie at IITM. The breeding ground for many a conversation. The location for many a philosophical discovery. The venue which bred many a great idea…

Open air… some broken plastic chairs thrown around metal tables fixed to the ground… so open… yet so private… when people see a group around a table, they generally choose to just put a ‘hi’ and go away… coffee (from the nestle dispenser) isn’t too great… but strong enough to stimulate conversation… and to draw people to the spot… except for the humidity, there couldn’t be a better place in the world to chill…

Why can’t I take it wherever I may roam?

what IIT has done to me

First the negatives:

1. It has made me maajorly geela. The culture at IITM and the sex ratio meant that I had little interaction with the fairer (???) sex for four long years. After this I had a little difficulty in adjusting back to having normal healthy relationships with girls. Took me almost a month of IIMB to become normal.

2. It shattered my confidence, like it is supposed to do to every other IITian, but in my case it failed to rebuild it back. Though I had a pretty good background, people used to downplay it majorly and tried to make me feel like a useless piece of shit as I didn’t have good enough grades in IIT. Still struggling to get back my confidence.

3. Pushed me down quite a few notches in the pseud value scale. Funda is I made the mistake of trying to conform. Of trying to do what everyone else was doing. Again finding it difficult to get back to my old (pre-IIT) level of pseud… which I think is essential for a i-banking job.

4. Killed the fire in my belly. Branded me as too arrogant. Again my mistake of trying to conform and I changed my personality to one which I started hating. Became a conformist rather than the rebel I was in school. Mellowed down so much that it further pushed down my already ruined confidence.

Can’t remember anything else as of now…

By now you must be feeling IIT must be the worst place on earth if it can do this kind of stuff to someone like me… However, it HAS had a lot of positive impact on my life. Notably:

1. The brand: I have attached to me what I believe is India’s best internationally recognized brand – IITian.

2. The people: I got the opportunity to interact with some of India’s best scientific and engineering minds. I am proud to have known friends such as these and I am sure that one day when they make it big in life, I can have the satisfaction of being their good friend.

3. The living conditions: I became ‘tough’. Living with little or no water, lousy food, no electricity supply when temperatures crossed 40 and humidity was always over 90%. Whichever lousy place I am posted to henceforth, I can say something like “been there done that (or something similar to that)”.

4. Independence: 4 years of hostel life 360 km away from home has really gone a long way in making me independent and aware about the practicalities of life.

5. Acads: Some profs/courses WERE pretty good, though such kinds are in a minority. Nevertheless a lot of the stuff I learnt there finds a lot of application in everything I do, even in some mundane matters of life.

6. Nothing better: Despite all the shortcomings, I can’t think of any other undergraduate degree in India which comes close to BTech Computer Science from an IIT.

IITM Rocks… I am proud to be an IITian


more on simulated annealling

This time, I pick one of my favorite topics: Indian Politics.

Simulated annealing is a popular heuristic technique. I’ve written some preliminary intro about it here . Read it before you go ahead with this… for those who are too lazy to do that, here goes… as for those who already know what simulated annealing is, ignore the next two paragraphs.

Continue reading “more on simulated annealling”

Death Spiral

Had an exam in management accounting today morning. yes the same one was cribbing about yesterday. Syllabus had a section called “cost death spiral” or something like that. Stuff like if you drop one of your products because it is making losses, the company will have to close down all its products one by one until it shuts down.

I am confidently spouting gyaan here while sitting there in the exam hall, I gave one of my worst performances here. Simply couldn’t concentrate. Something was seriously wrong somewhere. An exam I should’ve ideally finished off in an hour took 2.5 hrs and even then I’d done everything wrong.

One thing I can’t forget is the thought process I went through during the last phase of the exam. It went something like “This is a quantitative subject – something I’m supposed to be good at. But I’m buckling under pressure so I’m not able to do well. My mom had initially warned me against IIMs saying I won’t be able to handle the pressure. I didn’t listen to her, so I’m here. If I can’t do well even in the quantitative stuff, nice try I’ll be able to do well in the other qualitative ones. Which means that my CGPA will take a huge beating. My form, or the lack of it, will continue and I’ll do badly in my internship. I won’t get a PPO. This, coupled with my low CG, will result in me not getting any shortlists in next year’s placement season. I’ll further buckle down and end up with one of the lousiest jobs. And why did I come to IIM if I were to do this badly?…. blah blah… “. As it happened, this subconscious thought flow interrupted with my conscious attempts to solve the problem which led me to actually do badly in today’s exam – thus sparking off another iteration of that thought process…

Truly a downward death spiral.

Classes would be much more interesting if Profs were to give real-life examples such as this to explain concepts better….