Saturday, February 24, 2007

Justified Text

Nothing special in this post...Just wanted to say that justified posts do look much better...the blog entry looks more organized and if you can define 'clean', then it looks a lot cleaner.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Midnight Awakenings

It's 2 o' clock now, and it seems the Goddess of Slumber has deserted me for the night. I guess that's what happens when you become used to sleeping 6-7 hours a day at the maximum. I slepts at 2000 hrs yesterday, hoping to go on a slumber spree and waking up at 0700 or something...but its 0200 hrs now and sleep now appears to be as remote as Mars is from the earth.

So now it's going to be nothing but endless waiting for the night to end and the light to come...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Love Computers...

Being a Computer Science student, you would expect me to say something on these lines, wouldn't you? But I think this statement goes beyond that...

When I opted for Computer Science at BITS, I did so primarily because I had little idea about the remaining branches of engineering. I seemed to be quite interested in electronics, but I had no idea as to whether I wanted Electrical and Electronics engineering or whether I should opt for Electronics and Instrumentation engineering. So rather than opt for a discipline which I had no idea about, I chose to go for something I was quite familiar with and whose basics I was quite proficient at.

But after that, it has been a different story altogether...

We were doing the part on Assembly Programming in our CP I (That's Computer Programming I) and all the related stuff and suddenly it hit me like a train running in full steam...I realized the amount of pains that inventors have to go through to make our interaction with the computer a lot simpler.

For example, imagine writing a program in all zeros and ones. As it is, fifteen opcodes are proving to be difficult to remember...What might happen if we have about two hundred machine level instructions to program in? It is during these moments when such thoughts come to your mind, that you truly realize that even the computer is a dumb box...which though capable of taking you on an unplanned trip to the most exotic places on this planet and beyond, is still only a result of man's superlative thinking and reasoning ability.

That's why I love computers...because they represent an inkling of man's ability to generate things that are better and more efficient than himself...because they represent the flight of man's desire and success at making things that can do what hundred men cannot do together in their lifetimes...

Sunday, February 18, 2007


The last post was about the activities that are taking place at BITS over the weekend. Well, it's time to add two more to the list.

First of all, there is the BASANT book fair at Akshay (the local departmental store) and from what I've heard, the collection is quite decent there. So, have to go there at some point of time before the fair actually winds up...

Also, the new quiz Anveshanam is here...I've solved the first two questions but the third one does look quite daunting and complicated...If anyone's interested, check out the link on the link on the SU site (Unfortunately, it's only open for BITsians I think)...

Weekend Blues at BITS...No Chance!!!

Just back from watching a Manchester United match...Drew 1-1 with Reading in a game in which the team missed about six to seven clear chances...Some day other than this, the scoreline could well have been 5-1 or better...But still, we are still in the FA Cup and hopefully, Fergie will put out his best team in the return leg at the Madjeski Stadium.

Anyways, lots been going on here over the weekend, not the least of which is the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON EMERGING MECHANICAL TECHNOLOGY – MACRO TO NANO, which in true BITsian style has been rechristened as EMTM2N. As a first year and as someone who is very new to such conferences, it was an eye-opener seeing the things held in perspective by some of the personalities conducting cutting edge research in this field. The biggest gain, that I believe I had from this, was a further proof of the need of interdisciplinary approaches to research. It's no longer enough to just know your field and hope to conduct research in it; it's essential to know about related fields as well, so that your research is not bogged down by some constraint or the other of your own making. The conference has its last day tomorrow, (or today should I say, since it's already past 12 midnight), and there is this special attraction - our own BITsian version of Robot Wars...So be there!!!

There was also the English Press Club meet in which all of us clubbers assigned ourselves to articles that we must write for the new issue of Fine Print (that is our monthly newsletter). It's an exciting time for the topics that we are trying to cover are quite varied and if I may say so myself, really relevant at this point of time on campus.

Tomorrow is another new day, but you can be rest assured a lot will be happening...Have to attend the General Body Meeting which the Election Commission is holding to review the work of the Student Union President and General Secretary...Should be interesting enough...

To be honest, who needs a workday when weekends are so busy???

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Arabian Odyssey

This is a piece I wrote a while ago regarding my trip to the sands of Arabia:

You look out of a window and see red, everything red as if on fire. You strain your eyes, trying to catch a glimpse of any other shade except for that fiery red. But you fail miserably from your window high up in the air. As you go on, you get accustomed to sights at the ground level. You see dunes, monstrous on the ground, but tiny from the airplane where you are sitting. Stretching in a straight line like grand armies marching out to meet their foes in war and death, the dunes look like great, grim-faced, battle-worn warriors of sadistic and ruthless nature, who go everywhere in search of death, glory and nothing else. The clouds that you see surrounding you at that altitude of 30,000 feet above the ground (higher even than the world's tallest peak, Mt. Everest) appear red - such is the fire and the power of the desert.

Yet these glimpses are but a poor picture of the beauty of the desert landscape. It is not completely featureless as you initially are led to believe. After the initial shock of seeing something that has often developed the reputation of being a merciless graveyard that kills you slowly but surely, with your own eyes, you begin to decipher the vast desert landscape. You get few chances of taking a piercing look through the reddish-hued clouds and if you capitalize on those opportunities, you see rocks - ragged, monstrous and alone, standing like obstacles that have been created by the Unseen Power to hinder the free wind. There you see ridges appearing out of nowhere. These are brown-black in colour, appearing as if the sun has baked them to the point of being burnt. If you get the fortune, you can see the ragged, cruel cliffs and sheer rocks fashioning steep slopes. These precipices rise from sheer oblivion into the ridges which tower above the desert landscape. It suddenly dawns upon you that nature has fashioned these ridges, not for preventing infiltration by outsiders, but actually for keeping them in once they enter this domain. You may even see a vast mirage occasionally, but you know the desert. You know it is a delusion. You know that it may indeed have proved to be the death knell for many old travellers. You know all this, even from that high place where you are sitting comfortably and striding along with the swirling wind.

The sheer ruggedness and unfriendliness of the terrain is reflected in the landscape. Even the sky beneath the clouds looks red, not due to lights on the ground, but in fact, due to the red, hot sand. The lifeless desert peeks at you from beneath those clouds and you begin to belief that the region is indeed, a ruthless murderer of life. Yet, it is not so. There is vegetation, oh yes, it is sparse but it exists nevertheless. Thorny shrubs establish their realm in this region which support nothing else and you begin to wonder what the Unseen Power must have felt while creating all these.

Then you find the aeroplane is descending. Slowly but surely - in a matter of about ten minutes - you descend to about ten thousand feet. Now you begin to see the ground level more distinctly. You see a road winding down like a thin ribbon across the face of the desert. The road seems to stretch beyond friendly borders and onto the desert on the other side of the horizon.

With the airplane's descent, you know that the end of the journey is near. Soon you begin to see the city where your journey ends. You see houses - small and quiet. You see roads - wide, busy and beautiful. But soon, the aerial vision fades away. Your airplane lands and you step into the cool, air-conditioned clime inside the airport. But the situation on the outside cannot be more different. It is hot. The sunrays penetrate you like painful needles. The temperatures show the weather to be no hotter than 40 degrees, but you know it better than that. Mere statistics cannot convey the dryness of the air and the absence of a single, grey cloud in the sky. It is these factors that make the desert clime all the more unbearable.

Such is the first impression that you get of the Great Arabian Desert, the second largest plateau in the world. It is as if you have stepped into the realms of a whole new world that seems both ancient and modern, both rugged and sophisticated - at one and the same time. Such is the might and the rugged beauty of the desert that you half admire it and half fear it. Admiration, because you appreciate of the existence of such a different civilization only about two and a half thousand miles from your home and fear because you know now how cruel and lifeless nature can make itself.

That is precisely why; you want to modify the opening lines of Blake's poem and say-

'Fire, Fire, Burning Bright,
In the sandy desert's might,
What immortal hand or eye,
Made man, such an enemy?'

Incoherent Ramblings...

There is something addictive about blogging...Once you start writing, you rarely stop forever...Even in your free time, as thoughts transcend the distance from inactivity to activity, you wonder whether and if yes, then how, you can put forth your thoughts on your very own blog. But blogging does help to clear your mind. Sometimes, just getting thoughts out of your system helps you to clear some memory space from your brain. I rather tend to think that this blog is my Pensieve (Harry Potter fans will surely know all about it) and whenever the number and extent of these thoughts become too overwhelming, I can write them and try to sort them out...And of course, besides all this, it does help in retrospection as you read what you wrote earlier.

But this post is not about the virtues of blogging...I'm sure that those of you who do visit this page, know all about it and as it is, I'll not bore you with this stuff. As the title of the post says, today's post is just a bunch of incoherent ramblings...

Even as I write this, it is 0800 hrs in the morning. It's been a while since I woke up and fog seems to have resumed its love affair with Pilani. The beauty of spending the winter in Pilani is the fact that every time you think the cold is lessening, it rears up its head again and sends the temperature plumetting a further four or five degrees. It's beautiful going out at this time of the morning though - the clock tower isn't visible from far and neither is the temple...You get the impression that you are somewhere else, and not at BITS.

So long then, see you. I'm sure I'll be returning to this space in a very short time indeed...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Break Away...

Nothing really in the post to be honest...I'm putting up the lyrics for one of the songs that has, over the months, struck a connection with my mind...It's Break Away by Kelly Clarkson...

Grew up in a small town
And when the rain would fall down
I'd just stare out my window
Dreaming of what could be
And if I'd end up happy
I would pray (I would pray)

Trying hard to reach out
But when I tried to speak out
Felt like no one could hear me
Wanted to belong here
But something felt so wrong here
So I prayed I could break away[Chorus:]

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes til' I touch the sky
And I'll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won't forget all the ones that I love
I'll take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway

Wanna feel the warm breeze
Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean
Get onboard a fast train
Travel on a jet plane, far away (I will)
And breakaway[Chorus]

Buildings with a hundred floors
Swinging around revolving doors
Maybe I don't know where they'll take me but
Gotta keep moving on, moving on
Fly away, breakaway

I'll spread my wings
And I'll learn how to fly
Though it's not easy to tell you goodbye
I gotta take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won't forget the place I come from
I gotta take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway, breakaway, breakaway

The New Face of Nationalism...

Came out of the workshop test today and it was raining cats and dogs outside...Of course, I love the rain (as is no doubt clear from my previous post) but it does become a bit constricting, especially when you are wary of letting yourself get soaked for the fear of falling ill during this weird phenomenon of weather change...So I took up the task of watching Rang de Basanti...a movie that almost the whole of the Indian youth seem to have watched (all my friends have!!!) except maybe for me.

Believe me three hours is a long time for me to sit at one place...I'm very much an active person...I must have activity in my it was a remarkable task for me to sit through the whole of the movie at one go. So how did this happen? I might prepare myself for some brickbats and jeers when I say that the film, in its essence - especially when you see it as a stand-alone work from the point of film-making - isn't the greatest...The acting goes over the top at places...the story isn't watertight and the direction isn't foolproof.

But it's the message that struck the right chords for's the emerging new face of Indian nationalism that made me sit up and take notice (even though the message is a bit convulted to satisfy the public's craving for drama).

Today we have come a full circle with our nationalism...There is no place in today's society for the nationalistic fervour which the freedom movement witnessed...In its place, a more subtle and sophisticated attitude has emerged...Indian nationalism has transcended from the collective strength of the community to the unique qualities of an individual...It is as if India today understands and encourages the power of the individual...It is like 'As an individual begins his meteoric rise, he takes with him his entourage - all the people who are with him...near him - and so the chain continues and the society becomes progressive once more...

It is not just about fighting now...It's no longer 'theirs only to do and die''s about making an educated's about deciding our own's about the will to make a's about the desire to go forward...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Weather Change...

I'm just about loving life at the moment here in Pilani. As I compose this entry, I can hear the sound of the rain bearing down in a slow, steady drizzle on the roof of the hostel. I can smell the ethereal aroma of the ground soaked with rain to its core. I can feel the hair on my body pricking up in tingling anticipation as the wind - sometimes harsh, sometimes slightly milder and carrying more than a bit of chill - passes over my skin.

Only the day before today, I was cycling my way for a tutorial in FD III (That's one of the classroom complexes on BITS) and the whole world was swathed in the covering of dense fog. Visibility was about 15 yards at the maximum and as I went along the road, there was nothing to be seen except the road in front, the sidewalk and the surrounding hedge - no sign of the insti building nor of the bhawans (hostels)...At that moment, I found myself having this sudden urge to forget about the looming tests and just leave...leave on a journey...some journey...any journey...

Why then is the weather playing these tricks all of a sudden? I don't know, but boy, am I glad it is!!!

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Night Beckons Me...

A Night Out!!! That's what waking long hours into the night is defined here by most of us in BITS. It is probably one of the most integral parts of spending your student life here...waking through all unearthly hours of the night, interspersed with regular midnight rendevouz to the All Night Canteen (ANC) and a liberal dose of full time 'masti' and 'dhamaal' (for the non-Hindi people out there, you could use the alternative words - fun and frolic - though they wouldn't convey the full meaning)...BITsian night outs are, well, just a part of the BITsian culture.

But it isn't just about these things, is it? For if it was, what would the difference between the day and the night be? Wouldn't the night be just as bright and welcoming as the day? Where then would the fear of the night...the dark...perpetrated through the days of childhood...go?

The dark is fascinating enough...But especially on these nights when midnight wandering becomes a custom, it assumes a more holistic meaning...

Never have I felt the pulse of life so strongly as I have during these nights, whether it be during my trips to ANC or during one of my sojourns to the temple lawns in the middle of the night. Ironic isn't it that I should be feeling the pulse of life at the precise time when the whole world is seemingly consigned to hours of dreams and pleasant slumber? Yet that feeling exists. It is as if the long labours of the whole day have come to fruition for each and every living being around and even as they sleep, the feeling of having earned the night's rest...the feeling of having done something productive during the hours of light...contributes to a whole sphere of serenity that descends upon the world as the hours of the night pass but which inexplicably passes on as soon as the first rays of light penetrate the gloom of the dark.

The night is is black...but doesn't black assimilate all other colours that it encounters without preference or so much as a second thought?

The night does the same for me...It makes my heart soar at the thought of another day well makes my mind look forward to the promise of another day approaching...but above beckons feel its serenity and dark splendour...unlike anything else I could find on this planet.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Do We Really Want to Be Unique?

We usually classify people into different categories - extroverted, calm, quiet, reserved, downright introverted and God knows what else! It is indeed a very telling characteristic of the human mind that we tend to categorize everyone we've ever talked to - irrespective of whether that conversation spans ten words or ten thousand - into the above categories...maybe not exactly into the above but certainly into some group or the other.

Why is this so? Why is there this obsession with classification? Maybe it is there because such a classification assures us that we're not the only ones like ourselves. Maybe it is there for the same reason why people look to others...others who are achievers or are great in their own right...for inspiration because it lends a meaning to their lives...because it makes them believe they are not the only ones of their kind and there were, are and will be many others who will be similar in being, thought and mind to them.

It is at these times that I realize the full meaning of the statement that we all do tend to make out of habit, or just out of a wish to sound acceptable and true (even if some of us do not tend to make this statement, still every one of us must have used this statement at least once); that-

Man is a social animal

I believe from whatever I've observed of human nature that we just can't stand the thought of being alone in anything. We need the reassurance, time and again, about the validity of our actions in the eyes of our fellow humans. We need the reassurance of someone saying 'been there, done that'. Even the most individualistic person in the world seeks that because that assurance makes him believe that his life is being spent meaningfully. I challenge all those who would defy what I've said here. I challenge all those who say they don't care about what others think and do...I ask all such people who make those claims to look into their own souls and question themselves...I think the answer they get might surprise them...

That is why some people attain greatness...because they can marry their pursuit of excellence and immortality with acceptability in their fellow humans' eyes. Even those like Galileo whose greatness was only fully appreciated after their deaths, became great because they pursued the one thing that is ultimately cared for and respected by all humans - the truth. They ultimately became great because their work and their lives gained recognition in their fellow humans' eyes...