Thursday, October 20, 2005

Which SF Character Are You

You can also take the test at http://www.tk421.net/character/

It turns out that I'm Worf! Worf! I can't believe it!

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

IITK Lingo

Just read a blog about the IIT Madras lingo a little while ago. Now the natural feeling of rivalry between the IITs prompts me to write an account of the lingo of my own IIT - IIT Kanpur. There are a few random records of IITK lingo available on the net but they are obscure and somewhat old. I don't think there is any other blog on the topic.

I'll try to be as comprehensive as is possible but if I miss out on something please be kind enough to tip me off.
  • Arbit: stems from arbritary. Used to describe anything strange or un-understandable. After exams - Kya arbit paper tha! (What an arbit paper). Since this slang is so popular throughout India, I don't really need to explain it.
  • Bakait: someone who is very smart and confident. Also used to describe any kind of good quality in the person. For example Sachin is a bakait criketer. As pointed out in one of the comments, Bakait used to be a derogatory word. Now it can be both, depending on usage.
  • Bhasad (rhymes with gadbad of hindi): any kind of chaos. If some stage program has gone wrong - bhasad mach gayi. If there is a big gathering with apparantly no reason - Bhasad ho rahi hai. The adjective of this is Bhasadu - one who maks bhasad. If a guy is very notorious - Bhasadu aadmi hai. Bhasad is the most unique slang that I've every heard.
  • Bulla: the thing that a group of young people does when it has nothing else to do. Bulla means chatting and I'm not talking about the online one. Bulla may range from merely killing time (The weather is quite nice today) to making lewd comments about girls (You don't want an example of this) to serious discussion on the national foriegn policy to making fun of that one bakra in your wing.
  • Chapu: this is another slang that is most frequently used. It is an adjective to denote greatness of anything. A famous person is chapu, delicious food is chapu, a ten pointer is chapu, a four pointer is chapu too (in ironic sense), Sachin is chapu cricketer, Godfather is chapu movie.

    One thing to understand is that Bakait and Chapu are a bit different. For one, Bakait is used mostly for people. Also, Bakait is used to denote strength in character or persona. Chapu is more widely used.
  • Dassu: He is The One, he is the elite amongst the elite, he has almost a demigod status, he is the one who has enough guts to challenge the mighty professors who control the life of an IITian, he is the Ten Pointer. Everyone wants to be him, whether they would admit it or not. But only the chosen ones have it in them. Hail all Dassus.
  • GPL: Gand pe laat. The practice of lifting people up by arms and legs and then beating the ass out of them by kicking them on their buts. Done customarily on birthdays and other moments of happiness like job selections, successful completion of the even for which you are the coordi, and sometimes just for fun.
  • Junta: this is one word that is used most by IITK students, mostly because it is understood outside the hostel too. Not to mention that it is one of the few decent words that we use. This one word encompasses all sorts of gatherings of men and women that you can imagine.
    Usage:
    • Aaj class mein junta bahut kam hai! (There is very less junta in the class today!)
    • Yaar, junta sari bewakoof hoti hai. (Yaar, all junta is stupid)
  • Lassu: the classic flirt. He lives not in the hostel alloted to him but in or near the girls' hostel. The lassu would not leave any opportunity to interact with girls.

    The verb is lasna which means to flirt. Lasna is also used in contexts where someone is giving undue attention to someone. For example if the maggu is asking too many questions to the prof after class - wo prof se las raha hai.
  • Maggu: a guy who studies a lot. Usually despised by nost of his classmates, this is the guy who scores a lot and does nothing other than sit in his room or library and read books. Is usually characterised by a lower (relatively) level of IQ but a mind boggling memorising power. If the professor disallowed indian standards in the class, this gu would be unperturbed because he would have already mugged them up. Never, ever call an IITian a maggu.

    A related word is magai which is what a maggu does. Magai is also used in a lighter sense for normal studies.
  •  Tel: Tel machana is to bungle something up. If you have screwed a mid-sem then paper tel ho gaya. If you cul-secy possesses the brain of a Dodo then Antaragni tel ho jayegi.

    The noun form is Telu. As in - that person is a big Telu. Or by the above example, the cul-secy is a Telu.
  • Tulla: now outdated, it refers to roaming around with nothing to do. It is usually done around the girls' hostel or atleast passes near it. Is normally associated with bulla. Tulla is very important for those rare couples in IIT. I don't know why but all couples at IITK are always on the move. The commonn variant of Tulla is toolna - eg Chalo toolne chalte hain. When a guy is roaming with a girl - Woh bandi tula raha hai.

    This word had become extinct for some while in IITK. When I was in my first year nobody taught me this. Then we met an alumnus who used this slang. None of us could understand. An elaborate search on the net revealed the secret. The word is becoming popular again along with its variants.

    Note: With the continued efforts of me and my friends, this word has been revived. This is my fifth year at campus and this word is now popular.

I think I've covered a lot of words. I cannot think of anymore. If someone points out, I'll add them later. The interesting fact to be noted is that most of the IITK lingo comes from Hindi unlike other colleges where a lot of lingo is derived from English. The reason is that most junta of IITK comes from UP and Bihar. The influence of Hindi is but obvious.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Contemplations on a Leisurely Evening

(A story that I wrote some while ago, it's my personal favourite)

After a most satisfying dinner, my friend and I retired to my study. I asked my wife not to disturb the two of us any further that evening.

My friend slumped into an easy chair as soon as we were alone.

"Do you mind if I smoke?" he asked. I did mind. But since I was receiving him as a guest after about five years, I did not wish to deny him such simple pleasures.

"No." I therefore said.

He lit up his cigarette with the complacency one generally feels on Friday evenings. He took a few deep puffs and filled the room with his exhalations.

"I was surprised," he said at length, "when I heard that you had taken to full time writing."

"I had been putting off that decision for quite some time now. But when this publisher gave me such a big offer, I couldn't resist it anymore. Nevertheless, I was as surprised as everybody else. I always thought of myself as one who likes to play it safe."

"I know." He said. Indeed he did. Perhaps nobody knew me better than he did. We had been friends for that long.

"I just hope," he continued, "that you have thought it through before you took the decision. Writing might not turn out to be as smooth a sailing as you might have imagined."

I knew what was coming. There was a time when we used to have such arguments everyday. Each person trying to put down the other one. The arguments were perfectly friendly, almost always.

"Are you suggesting that I might not survive in the field?"

"Yes." He simply said.

"You are perhaps forgetting that I have already sold two books."

He was gazing at the lit end of his cigarette as if searching for some microscopic entity.

"I am aware of that." He said, looking straight into my eyes, "And I have read those books. They were good enough, I must say, but they lacked finesse."

"Well?"
"You do not appear to be very imaginative. Your plots and characters are just variations on established themes."

I tilted my head to one side and frowned at him. Our debates could get serious sometimes. He was a lawyer, had always been a lawyer, and certainly I did not think he was in the least competent to give a literary criticism of my works.

"What do you know about writing?" I asked savagely.

"Oh, plenty! Just selling a couple of stories doesn't make you the god of the genre. You write science fiction, you say, and yet, not even a single alien species in any of your stories is anything I haven't seen, heard or read before. You are so formulaic."

"I have a reason for that. My stories are plot oriented. There is always an idea I wish to convey. Inventing fancy imaginary worlds is not relevant to my plots. It will only serve to obscure that idea. I keep things as simple as possible for my readers."

My friend smiled viciously.

"Accept it, my friend, it is lack of imagination."

"No!"

"Well then, prove it! Can you give me a full and consistent description of a totally exotic alien species that I have never heard about."

"I can."

"Now? Within fifteen minutes?"

I stared at him. I knew I had fallen into a trap. But I took up the challenge. I walked up to the window and started thinking. My friend quietly finished his cigarette.

"Okay," I said at last, "listen to this."

I settled down into a chair beside him.

"Imagine a planet about the size of the earth. But unlike earth which has a complex structure comprising of the core, mantle and crust, this planet is mostly crystalline. A gigantic crystal which is circling its yellow dwarf star. The crystal structure is not so simple though. When this planet crystallises out of its planetary accretion disk, it develops a highly complex structure inside it. How is it till now?"

He looked at me with a poker face. But I knew he was intrigued.

"Go on." He said.

"Due to this highly complex structure this planet has become a giant computer."

"A computer? How are you going to power it?"

"It is an optical computer. Powered by its sun. The light enters at one end and goes out at another but stupendously complex calculations can be performed in between. Initially the calculations are meaningless, random excitations of atomic orbitals and random photon emissions. But then the process organises itself into small meaningful programs. Programs that can replicate themselves!"

"You mean like DNA?" he asked. I nodded, "How?"

"How did life originate on earth?" I said. Understandably, he remained silent. "Chance, let us say. The same hand of providence that created our DNA created these tiny little programs. These programs then begin to evolve."

My friend leaned forward in his chair.

"You are forgetting one thing. For evolution you need natural selection. For that you need an environment with some challenges. In this giant computer of yours, each program can run without any danger to its existence."

"Well then let's give them an environment. One part of this giant crystal is running an "environment simulation". Let us make it the core. And other smaller parts are running "creature simulations". Both are connected by a two way link. Internal states of the environment determine those of the creature and vice versa."

"Do you mean a matrix like scenario?"

"Essentially, only that everything is natural and the creatures themselves are programs. What they might be experiencing would have nothing to do with their actual physical form. They could think themselves to be organic creatures totally oblivious to the giant crystal and its optics. Their world could have totally different physical rules that ours. Different equations, different constants.

"So, they evolve and they evolve. Until they reach the stage of conscious beings. And then they begin to alter their environment in big ways. But changes have occurred in their own form too. The big leap has been the development of a "mind simulation" beside the "creature simulation". The mind is linked to the body and the body to the environment. Together they form a consistent world."

"You have hit upon a most fascinating concept." My friend said, "there could be a whole different universe inside this simulation with its own set of rules. These creature could be exploring it just as we do."

"Yes," I said, my excitement was growing, "but then, the resolution of every simulation is finite. Thus the creatures will start encountering limits. Like the speed of light for example. Since signals inside this simulation cannot travel instantaneously, a limit on speed of light comes in. And elementary particles. One cannot do computations with an infinite number of particles or with continuous matter. Thus there have to be some particles which are elementary. It need not be these things of course, but something similar."

"And these creatures will never know! They'll forever be wondering how they originated or why there universal constants exist."

I sat back in my chair. I knew I had won the argument.

"I don't know." I said, "maybe they would. But when they start investigating such limits they might discover their true nature. They'd have to if its got to make a good story!"

We chuckled.

"It will make a good story. Okay, you win! You can become a great writer."

At this point my wife interrupted, despite my having asked not to.

"Coffee?" she asked. I looked at my friend.

"Sure." He said.


Somewhere else . . .

Vox looked with satisfaction at his exploration team. They were doing their job perfectly. This planet was the most exotic thing that they had ever encountered. They could not even begin to theorise how such a big mass of crystal had come to exist let alone understand its immensely complex structure. He looked at the screen in front of him that showed the schematic of the optical activity in the central core. The beautiful symmetry of it fascinated him. He longed to know what it was all about.

He could have looked on at the display for ages if he had not noticed a strong spike in one corner of the display.

"What . . ." he began then stopped as he heard some altercation a few meters away from his enclosure. He came out in a hurry.

"What happened?!!" he cried out.

A lot of personnel had gathered towards the northern side of the camp.

"What happened?" Vox shouted out again.

"Nothing much!" someone answered, "Trilex here toppled over some heavy equipment, the power cells have erupted."

"Lousy dumbhead!" Vox muttered to himself, and then louder, "fix it and report to me!"

He went back to his enclosure shaking his head.




The first thing that I had asked my wife when I first met her before marriage was - "Can you make good coffee?"

It turned out she could and I'd be eternally thankful for that. She poured out cups of it for the two of us.

"There is something terrible on the news." she said.

"What?"

"A bad earthquake has struck the Indian Ocean. The resulting Tsunami has wrecked havoc in many countries."

"That is so unfortunate!" my friend exclaimed. We rushed to the living room to hear more of it on TV.

FINISHED
January 17, 2005
5:34 PM (IST)
Kanpur (UP)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Ignorance is Bliss (v0.2)

The man enters the street with a pair of chappals in his hand. At first I do not notice, then I dismiss it as some religious ritual (we do happen to have a temple at the far end of our street) and finally I realise that he is not barefoot but is nevertheless carrying another pair chappals in his hands. It finally strikes me as odd and I am pulled back from the higher dimension of thought that I slip into while I'm murdering time in my balcony.

The man is wearing a simple white shirt with stripes and dark trousers. He is unshaven. His hair and stubble both show considerable amount of grey, not from age but from overwork. And of course, he has those chappals in his hand.

Starting from the end, the third or the fourth house in our street is owned by Joshiji. He's the proud patriarch of a family of twenty plus individuals. As if to assert his pride, he stands tall and stiff with long flowing hair upto his shoulders. Every evening, he spends a lot of time strolling in front of his house, observing and periodically admonishing the numerous young ones of his household that play on the street.

The man approaches him reluctantly and appears to say something. The conversation lasts for a few minutes and the man walks on again. He is obviously very disappointed. It is then that it strikes me. The man is actually trying to sell those chappals.

This strikes me as odd immediately. People like him usually have small shops on the footpath. They don't go about selling their stuff in the streets like this, with just one pair of footwear. The man makes another vain attempt with Agrawal Uncle who sends him away even without listening. Along with his son he laughs at the man as he walks away.

My mother comes out into the balcony to throw the vegetable peels onto the street.

"What is that man doing?" she notices him immediately.

"I don't know" I say "He's probably trying to sell those chappals."

"Strange fellow!" she says and stays a while to watch. The man comes over to my house and looks hopefully at me. Obviously he's been watching me for a while and thinks that I'm an interested customer. In his monotonous, plaintive voice, he speaks out the same sentence that he must have spoken at least a hundred times since that morning.

"Would you like to buy these chappals, saab?"

I don't know why but his dark, sunken eyes move me. I look at my mother who is making a conscious effort to look away.

"Saab, saab!" he calls out again in an attempt to catch my attention.

"No, I don't need them." I answer at last.
"Please, saab, I have a sick child at home. Please buy these chappals so I can buy medicine for him."

"No." I say again.

"Please, saab. There must be someone in your household who needs them. Please buy them. My child is seriously ill."

I look at my mother again.

"Give him a rupee or two so he goes away." She says and walks back into the house.

I look down at those sorrowful eyes again.

"Wait, I'm coming down." I say.

I climb down the stairs to the ground floor. I never talk to people, especially to those from the unprivileged society, while I'm standing in the balcony. To me it seems like I'm insulting the person in this way. I always go down and talk. Or give money and food, in case of beggars. I never throw stuff down like my mother tells me to do.

The chappals are not a good make. They have obviously been made in haste. And they are not leather chappals, as I had expected, but made of some kind of cheap plastic.

"How much for them?" I ask.

"Sixty, saab" he says.

I fumble for my wallet but then I hesitate.

***

Jamnaram has been ill for four days now. He has not been able to go to the market and set up his little footpath shop. Not that he ever does roaring business. But at least he is able to earn enough to feed himself and his little son. Now for four days, he has not earned a single rupee and the today they finished the last of whatever food was left in the house. Tomorrow, they'll have to go and beg the neighbours.

His son sleeps beside him in the blissful ignorance of childhood. Jamna fondly runs a hand through his hair. Poor motherless child. I'll do something about it, he thinks, you need never worry.

The next day his son wakes up with high fever. Apparantly the fever was contagious. Jamna borrows some money from his neighbors and takes him to the hospital. After waiting an entire day at the government hospital, the doctor finally examines his son. He prescribes medicine. The nurse at the counter for medicine informs him that the medicine is not available. The hospital staff has either black marketed the medicine or want some payment for it from Jamna. Exhausted, Jamna gets back to his slum. His son is getting delirious with fever. He is himself getting delirious with fever.

Jamna spends the night making a pair chappals out of whatever material is left with him. He does not have the money to buy new material so he makes do with whatever is left. In the morning he sets out to sell them.

***

Jamna wakes up with a heavy head in the morning. He'd stayed up late last night and drunk too much. He had done whopping business yesterday. He's sold almost all his chappals and earned more than five hundred.

He had thrown a grand party for his friends that evening. They'd all got drunk, all at his expense and had chicken for dinner. The drinks kept flowing in as someone fetched the cards. Jamna was supposed to be the star player of that day.

He had lost all he'd got left and he'd lost a lot more. So that now he was in debt.

The very thought made Jamna's head ache harder. Within a few days Ramdin would start pestering him for repayment.

His son walks into the house.

"Baba, I'm hungry!"

Jamna hits him hard in the side.

"Go away, you bastard!" he shouts "go find food on the street. Why didn't your mother take you with her when she died. Would have been so much easier for me!"

The child cries and runs out of the house. Jamna searches the house and finds a shabby pair of chappals in one corner. If he can manage to sell these, he will still be able to get food and liquor for tonight.

***

I hesitate as I fumble for my wallet. I look up to the balcony to see whether my mother is looking. She's not. I fish out a hundred and hand it to the man.

"Keep the change" I tell him.

The man is delighted. He gladly hands me the chappals. I can see that they are no use to me. I will never be able to wear something so cheap. They are probably not even my size. But it's not the chappals that I've bought. It's the delighted look on the man's face. I try not to think about the real reason for that look. Ignorance is bliss.

Finished
2:37 am
October 7, 2005
IIT Kanpur
India.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Gods


Gods


We were hiding on a small planet of a small star of a small galaxy at he periphery of the galactic cluster. We were frightened and thus low on our energy. WE were frightened of the Rebels who had overthrown our government and taken over. They were searching for us - to capture us. We would all be put into places they call prisons and then ... no, they don't kill us. They feed on our energy. They had machines that could extract our energy, against our wish and leave us drained.

To be devoid of energy is a horrible experience. A non-sensitive being cannot understand it. It does not cause physical pain, no, that can be easily cured with medicines. Rather, it overwhelms you with utter despair. The feelings of depression, frustration, nervousness all plague you at once.

But we were in no better condition hiding on this planet. We were all low on our energy, except some grown-ups like dad. All the para energetic machines which work with living energy were dead. They would have made our hide-out perfectly safe. But no one could run them. so low were we on our energy that we actually had to eat to sustain ourselves. That we would have to droop to such a low level of sustenance had been beyond the imagination of any. Nevertheless we had to do it.

All this made dad take the decision. We'll leave - he declared. Everyone was anxious. WE were going to leave - to where? There was nowhere to go. Whole of the cluster was occupied with the Rebels.

"Can't we stay here?" I asked.

Mom shook her head. The Rebels had come to know our whereabouts. They were coming for us. Dad and his men were eluding them with their gadgetry but it would not be long before they found us.

So we left for the eternal void. The space that had always existed and would always exist engulfed us. Hid us, among its many secrets.

We travelled, I don't know for how long, one loses all sense of time in a spaceship. But the chrono told us it was one month. One month! We could have circled our cluster many times over in that time. And yet, we had not reached anywhere. At least our energy levels had revived. WE had to eat no more. When your energy is high you do not need to eat to sustain yourself. Our para-energetic machines were operable and we were using them to locate life. But they told us that there was no energy controlling life in the radius of a million light years.

At last we found a galaxy. A small one. I liked it the moment i saw it on screen. It was very small, almost cute. All alone in space, it did not have a cluster to belong to. My eyes gleamed with the light emitted by it.





I plucked a flower - it was violet-pink - and smelt it. It was a strange but sweet smell. I liked this place instinctively. I liked the trees here, the animals here, the tiny insects that climbed onto my hand and crawled on it.

Our men were inspecting the surroundings. I wondered whether the planet had intelligent life. It would be fun, I mused, to know what archaic life forms were like. We had evolved to energy controlling beings about 10000 years ago. Civilized man before that could not control energy.

Suddenly there was a movement in the bushes and a man appeared. He was humanoid in shape. He had a stick in his hand with a pointed metal tip. Later I came to know it was called a spear.

"We would live here!" Dad said.

"What! With animals?" Mom exclaimed.






Sarah showed me her colored pebbles. She was delighted to have them. One by one she would take them out from her bag and show them to me. She had done it several times. Each time I watched her childish play with patience. At the age of seven when I was struggling with calculus, she was playing with stones.

She asked me to show the magic. It was no magic, actually. Anybody having the energy could do it. I placed the pebbles on the rock and with mere thought lifted them up. Then I put them down. Sarah clapped. She was delighted.

These people were so primitive. All of them. Sarah called me son of god. My father was god for them. And so were all of us, the two hundred odd people who had come with my father on that ship. WE ruled the natives. WE had tried to teach them. They had learned to read and write, and a few other techniques but had failed to learn more. Their mental level was too low. A single generation has a limit to the knowledge it can assimilate. Only with time would their race learn more.

Our control of the energy was magic to them. We could live without eating. Lift things in air. Had vehicles that could fly. So, we were gods.

I liked these people, whatever they were. I liked Sarah. She was my age and a nice playmate.





I looked at Sarah as she dried her hair in the sun. I was awestruck, mesmerized. She was utterly beautiful. She had never looked so gorgeous in the fifteen years I had known her. I suppose it was the effect of our youth.

I went up to her and held her hand.

"Come!" I said.

She gave me a questioning look but followed me. We almost ran to where Dad and Mom were sitting. They were startled as we entered suddenly.

"I'm marrying her" I declared.

Mom was shocked.

"What in the ... you can't do this son!" She protested. But father silenced her.

"You can't help it" he said "this had to happen, one day or the other."





I felt anxious. Sarah was going to deliver our baby. It was our first time and I was tense. Finally, the news came. I had become the father of a son. He was brought up to me. He moved his tiny limbs but had no halo. The halo that surrounded every energy controlling creature. I looked at my mother.

"He doesn't feel the energy" my Mom said softly.

I looked back at my son. It did not matter. He was my son all the same. He did not need energy in this world.





I saw a ship land near our town. From the make I knew it was from our galaxy and the occupants were friends.

Their leader met me in private. They wanted us to return. They had re-established their rule and needed the much learned men in our group. to reconstruct our civilization. After the death of my father I was the leader of the group and had the right to summon everyone back home.

I looked at Sarah. She could not go with me. She could not have survived among energy controlling creatures. Neither did she want to leave this place. I looked at my son. He was playing with his friend. He was about eight at that time. He seemed to have acquired all the traits of his mother. Though hos brain was sharper he was perfectly like the natives. So were the many offsprings of those who had followed my suit. All these could not leave this place.

Of course I could leave my family here and go. They could not have stopped me. I could marry my own kind and settle down with another family. But I had some duty toward Sarah and my son. More than that, in fact more than anything else, I loved them.

"All those who wish" I said "may leave. I'm going nowhere. I have a family here. We people have no place in what is now your world."

They tried to convince me but in vain. Many remained and many left. Mostly old ones who could not forget their real abode.

So I lived on happily with Sarah and my son. Until my time came and I became one with the energy. We people are unlike the natives, we exist even after death, in another plane of existence. We can see and hear all that is in this world, but we have no material form.

So I watched this world in that dream like existence. My son had his sons and they, theirs. My tribe faded out. Time passeed on and on and on.

Thousands of years have passed. My heirs have developed - their culture has developed - their science has developed. They have even reached out to space, if only to the singular satellite of their planet.

And some of them say - It is said that once there were gods. They could do anything. They could lift things without touching them and had vehicles that could fly. Ah, but I don't believe in all this. Its all a myth. One should believe only in scientific facts. There are no gods, no miracles.

I listen to them and I smile at their ignorance. That is all I can do now.

FINISHED ON

7:55 PM (IST) FRIDAY

28 SEPTEMBER 2001

INDORE (MP) INDIA.








The Probe

The high priest closed his eyes in meditation. He tried to quiet his mind, setting it upon the mysteries of life and the glory of the unknown. Just then he heard the rustle of curtains. Someone was there to see him.
Nobody, absolutely nobody disturbed the high priest when he was in meditation. Whatever it was, it had better be important. At leisure, the high priest opened his eyes. The messenger was waiting patiently at his door step.
"What is it?" he asked sternly.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, sire, but there is an important matter that you should attend to.", the messenger said.
Watching the look on his face, the High Priest felt disturbed. He was a new High Priest. Inexperienced, nothing of significance had really happened in the two years since he became High Priest. He did not particularly like this position of responsibility.
The large gathering in the premises of the temple did not help.
"What is it?" he demanded from the Second Highest Priest.
"Some thing unusual has occurred." Said the Second Highest Priest, "These people say that something fell out of the skies yesterday night in the Village. The Headman himself came early in the morning to inform us. The people are scared, sire. You should do something about this quickly."
The High Priest decided to go the Village to see for himself.

The object was huge. It stood twice as tall as a man and wide as a room. What it was, was anybody's guess. To the High Priest it appeared to be a vast jumble of metal pipes. As if a thousand utensils had been crushed together by a giant hand. And it had wheels. That much anyone could make out. But these wheels were not wood, nor metal. It was a strange black material. Black wood, perhaps? The work of the Evil?
"When did it come?" The High Priest enquired.
"Last night, sire, just after midnight. As soon as daylight broke out we rushed to the Temple to inform you. It came from the sky, from towards the north and fell in to the fields."
"And had it been just lying there since that time?"
"Till now, yes."
Suddenly the object rumbled. Everyone shrieked and ran at once. The rumblings stopped and the circle around the object stabilized again but this time with a larger radius. The High Priest was having great difficulty in maintaining his composure.
A long arm shot out of the structure bearing what looked like an eye.
"What is that?" the Second High Priest whispered. It was pretty much the thing that the High Priest himself was wondering. The eye rose high and then in a wide circle.
"It is watching us." Said the High Priest with conviction.
"Watching us? What for? Is that its eye?"
The High Priest shook his head. He took a bold step forward.
"Who are you?" he called out in a loud voice, "Why have you come here?"
The Eye turned towards the High Priest. His heart leaped. But he stood his ground. He could not disgrace himself in front of so many. The Eye moved forward, taking a closer look. Then it retracted. The Devil rumbled again and the Eye settled into it.
The crowd kept waiting in anticipation. But nothing happened. They kept waiting till midday but nothing happened. Finally the High Priest decided to leave. He gave orders to be informed immediately if something happened.

The Temple declared the object to be Devil. Some people believed otherwise. There was rumor doing the rounds among the commoners that the Object was actually a messenger of God. The High Priest was making a mistake in not recognizing it as such. There were those who thought that the choice of the new High Priest had been in correct. The one who was the Second High priest should have been the High Priest now. But the dieing former High Priest decided otherwise. The old man was delusional.
The high priest was aware of all these rumors. They disturbed him. It could not do for the people to be unsatisfied with him. He was well ware that the power vested in any man was only as much as the people gave him. It people did not obey his orders he would have no power.
He had to do something about the matter. That night he gathered a force of ten strong and able bodied men. Armed with mallets and hammers they marched to the site where the object lay. Then with strong sure blows they broke down the work of the devil. The object was crushed to pieces.
The next say arose in a new light. People looked at the High Priest with renewed reverence. He became and instant hero. It was advertised that it was due to his supernatural powers that he Devil had been over powered.

I Have One Too

A Fifty Five Word Story
(I really hope I can stick to the word limit here)

Believe it or not, God actually gives personal audience to every soul before damnation. He's God, after all! He can twist space and time to his liking! But each is allowed only one question. He's god after all! He's got an entire Universe to worry about!

So, I asked - why?

God knitted his brows and appeared to think.

"Come to think of it" he said "it really is an interesting question. Howcome I never thought of it?"

It turns out that MS Word actually shows the word count to be 78. I hate MS Word. No human would have bothered (or had the patience) to count. I hate MS Word anyway! However, I guess this is a passable fifty five word story? I tag nobody.

New Layout

Any comments on the new layout? You will notice that I've added sections for the last song that I really liked, the book that I'm currently reading (the older ones will keep getting pushed down), and for something on the web that you'll never regret reading. How is my new choice of colors? Not that I made it myself but still . . .

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Info and Warning

Hi,
I'm really sorry that I had to turn on this capcha (word verification) thingy on for the comments but I was getting too much comment spam. Second, I've written two posts that are too long. Beware.

Are Teachers Really That Bad?

A lot of people seem to be having a take on their teachers these days. Read this post by Anirudh for instance. If you ask me, I really don't know. When I look back at my life, the fourteen years of my schooling and the two years here, at IIT Kanpur, I find that I've encountered a large number of teachers both good and bad. And its difficult to summarily brand most teachers as bad.

Because what most people seem to be talking about is an ideal situation. That is what most people do - idealise things - when they set out to analyse anything. It's probably a sin stemming from overuse of science in this century (I have something to say on that too, but will leave it for another occasion, another post). What we have to remember at all times is that the real world is not ideal.

The first thing is that most people in this world are not doing what they would like or want to do. So is the case with teachers too. Many teachers are teaching in schools or colleges because they could not do anything else in life. Indeed school teaching is perhaps the last option left to any unemployed graduate these days. If that is the kind of people who are teaching, how do you expect quality from them.

Second is that teachers are also humans. This was the point that one of my teachers drove hard into me at a very early stage of my life. She was my class teacher in class eight and taught us science. The class was having difficulty with the math teacher. What she told us at that time (I don't remember the exact words - I never do) was something like this. The math teacher is also human. You cannot expect her to work independent of external things like an automaton. The teachers performance in a large part depends on the response of the students. If the students don't respond at all or respond in a negative manner, it becomes very difficult for the teacher to teach. Although, the situation did not improve at that time, the advice certainly struck home with me. As a student it is very important to treat the teacher in the right way and send the correct "signals" to him/her. It is only then that learning can be efficient.

Third, when I look back at life I find that I've encountered more good teachers than bad ones in my life. For the benefit of people who like to do such things, I'll define what I mean by "good" here. Since the function of a teacher is to facilitate learning, a good teacher is the one who helps in learning. A bad teacher is the one who inhibits learning. But there are also people who do neither or are somewhere in between. As I'm an optimist (something that Yash would probably not agree with!) I'll call all those teachers good who do not inhibit for most of the time. That is - neutral parties are good too. After all you don't expect this world to be full of Einstiens, do you? (As an aside, I had to use a metaphor that was unconnected with the topic. This is sad. Why have I never heard of a legendary teacher? If it is just my ignorance, do educate me.)

Using this criterion, I find that most teachers that I encountered were good ones. It's only once in a while that I came across bad ones or really horrible ones. Thus, I find it hard to believe that teachers are bad.

But yes, the kind of interaction that you have with teachers changes over the course of your life. When you are a child it is very easy for you and also for the teacher to become personally attached. That facilitates swift learning. As you grow older, your ego and the teachers takes over and it becomes difficult to form that bond. You are able to do it only in very few cases. In colleges where a professor may be interacting with hundreds of students at a time, it becomes humanly impossible to form a personal connection. The ideal situation is when you can interact with the teacher on a one to one basis. But that is not possible where large numbers are involved.

About classroom teaching, we have to understand that charting out a syllabus is necesary. On one hand it does force you to study what you don't want to study. But I will ask just one question - do we really know what we shoudl study and what we should not. When I was in school I hated history and sanskrit. But now I do appreciate the fact that I was tought these things. Sometimes you have to undergo hardships to reap the benefits later on.

Also I have an opinion about why most people hate teacher. Its just because it is human nature to resent authority!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Suggested Movie

Solaris : a nice take on god, second chances etc. A bit abstract, though.