Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Making of Me

Recently Jaspal Madam (she used to teach us computer science at school) is endlessly bugging me with mails to write something about our school. Since lately I also have been reminiscing quite badly about my school, I am feeling infinitely guilty that I have not written anything, especially because I keep writing all other kinds of rubbish. The fact of the matter is, I was very busy for the last fortnight. This is the first real free day that I’ve had in quite some time. Standard excuse, eh?

I have studied in this school (Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar, Indore) for fourteen years. Those of you who know this school are probably rolling on the floor laughing right now or cluck-clucking their tongues in sympathy. But let me tell you this, it wasn’t that bad, really, in fact I’m thankful that I did not spend those fourteen years anywhere else.

My earliest memories of school go back, well, to the first year when I was a kid three or four years old. Naturally I don’t remember much of that time. Except that I used to come to the school in the school bus and it used to be quite a novelty although I was perpetually worried that I might forget which bus I’m supposed to board and get lost. Fortunately that never happened. Also we had three buses of the consecutive numbers – 187, 188, 189 and that was quite amusing too.

And before the teachers who are reading this begin to think what a heartless fellow I am let me quickly say that I remember them too. Really I do. This teacher’s day I had become quite nostalgic. Over here in college we don’t have any kind of celebration of teacher’s day. I really miss that. I remember fondly the numerous Teachers’ days I have celebrated in school. The numerous cards that I have prepared by hand to greet them. (Yes, that is a girlish sort of activity but I’ve done it anyway.) I remember you all, teachers. I had written some names here. I have deleted them. I cannot remember all of them. That is human folly. But I do realize the amount of difference you have made in my life. I will forever be indebted to you.

The best thing about his school was the amount of freedom that it gives to its students. This will come as a surprise to many. The people who run this school also do not realize this fact. There is no physical punishment in our school. That is tremendous amount of freedom. The child is free of fear. Academically, I always felt free in this school to study the way that I wanted to. I never memorized answers. I always made them up. My teachers gave me freedom to do that. I fondly remember the school library. The teachers never dictated what I could read and what I could not. They do it at my brother’s school. That was great freedom too. I could read what I liked. The examination system was unique. This will come as a surprise to those of you who are new in this school. Those who have been here for some time will know what I’m taking about. The system of having unit tests each month was, in my opinion, superior to what we have now. We had regular evaluation and the system put far lesser pressure on students. We also had oral examinations which were a great way to build our oral skills. Unfortunately this thing has changed now.

Education in Human Values. I know that most of you have mixed opinions about it. Some people like it some just hate it. Some think that preaching like this does not help. Some people say that it makes better students. I will not go into all that. What I think is that EHV was never about preaching. It was about discussion. It was about making children think about these things. Because until you can make people think, you cannot make them change. The school gave me freedom to think in this way.

Food. Now we are coming to more fun things, isn’t it. The Dining Hall is one of the most important parts of our school culture. A family that eats together stays together. This may sound a bit far-fetched but is nevertheless true. Psychology works that way. My sincere thanks to everyone who works in the Dining Hall for making my life in school so full of this simple pleasure of having good food.

I must also give my sincere thanks to Pranjape sir. I have grown to respect him a lot over the years. I now realize the truth of so many things that he taught us. When you leave home you suddenly realize that this world is immense. One cannot really comprehend this immensity. One suddenly feels this loss of identity and it’s very difficult to cope up with it. It is in such situation that the teaching of competing with the self and not with others has really helped me. If you let go off the self and compare with the other, you will be hopelessly lost in this big wild world.

Quest for excellence. If you do something, do it to your best or don’t do it. That is what he always told us. Very true. Self discipline. You realize the importance of that when you live alone in the hostel and there is no mother or teacher to scold you. Without self discipline you cannot survive.

Words are not enough to express how grateful I am to this school and my teachers. Thank you, thank you all. I don’t think I can ever repay the debt.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I Don't Need God

I’m not what you’ll call a religious person. I don’t go to the temple. I can live without poojas in my home. I do not believe that I will get punished or rewarded if I do this and not do that. I don’t deny got nor do I affirm Him. I just don’t need Him.

Either God exists or he does not.

Assume God exists. The Universe then works according to natural laws, according to Gods whims or is random. If Universe is random, thinking about religion or science or any other thing for that matter is not going to do any good to me. What will happen, will happen and there is nothing I can do or learn about it. If the Universe moves according to natural laws, a systematic study will reveal them and the fact the God exists is not going to affect me at all in any way. If the Universe works according to Gods whims then either these are predictable or they are not. If they are predictable, they can be systematically studied and hence will fall under the purview of science hence the above argument about natural laws will apply. This is actually the point where religion and science come into conflict. Religion claims to be one such systematic study, but has no scientific backing. I’ll go with science in this case. In the case that Gods whims are random, the arguments about random Universe apply.

Assume God does not exist. Then the Universe is random or is bound by natural laws. The above arguments can be evoked. Thus in all cases, I don’t need God. I’m perfectly happy without Him. I don’t need Him to motivate me to behave humanely. I don’t want that extra bit without deserving it so I don’t pray. Call me an atheist if you will, but I never said God does not exist.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Plagiarism

This post is about my first brush with plagiarism. Some time ago, I wrote an article about IITK Lingo. Today, I came to know about this article which copies a couple of paragraphs that appear in my blog almost verbatim.

Needless to say, I'm a bit hurt. I understand that content on the net is free. I myself an avid user of Linux and support the free software philosophy and all. But I do expect people to acknowledge me when they use my work. And if they plan on making some money out of it, I want my rightful share.

If copying blogs is all it takes to write an Indiatimes column, they might as well give me the job. I'll at least write some original stuff for them!

This is what the article says:

Dassu




In IIT-speak, 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.

Nobody but Rahul Gandhi gets this esteemed tag. So ok, he isn’t exactly IIT educated but his lineage, charisma and controversial remarks that challenge his own party are enough to get him in.














This is what part of my blog read:

". . . A related word is magai which is what a maggu does. Magai is also used in a lighter sense for normal studies.

9. 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.

10. 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 . . . ."