A problem

"bored" exams ?

After watching Barkha Dutt and her panel of “experts” debate on  the issue of scrapping 10th standard board exams for an hour, i don’t think anyone is closer to arriving at a solution. Kapil Sibal thinks he’s doing a favor to us all, but a bunch of kids on the sets of “We the people” refuse his help –  which makes us question the kind of  demographic that the students sitting in the NDTV studios represent. Where are the voices of the village kids ?

Time and again, the issue of 10th boards being a mock exam in preparation for the 12th finals appears; but nowhere do we raise the question of whether we’re justified in taking away (atleast!) two long years worth of learning from these children. I’m sure we learn more in the long run from our events and extracurricular activities than from textbooks.

The teachers present on the talk show seemed to alternate between turning a blind eye, or being downright rude. When a student complained of having to give up her extra-curriculars during the years of her board exams, the teachers responded by making irresponsible statements, blaming the student, her parents, that particular school and all and sundry. Instead, they should recognise that it is our society that has given birth to this myth of having to drop everything during exam years, because of the competition in academics during these times. They must find a way to encourage the student to perform well at the activities he/she excels at, and help them maintain a healthy balance between this and academics, instead of being absolute kill-joys.

Another reason for scrapping the current education system (YES, the entire system needs to be reviewed!) is that during the years of the board exams, even if one is prepared to give up on all extra-curricular activities and concentrate solely on studies, one is restricted to thinking only within the “syllabus” prescribed  by the all-knowing education boards. Any doubts/questions one has will not be entertained by the teacher because it is deemed unnecesary by a bunch of doddering old men who wrote the text books.

Since state boards are even worse than central ones, sometimes one is forced to write an answer that is factually INCORRECT, just because it says so in the text book. I clearly remember our teachers asking us to refrain from using long and complicated words in our answer paper to avoid confusing the examiners, who were from a rural background, as we ran the risk of losing marks. We are forced to reduce our level of answering  to live “up” to the standards of the board exams.

What we need is a major overhauling of the education system in India. The time is NOW and the place is HERE. I really hope that the education ministry knows what its doing and manages to change the system for the better.


Wild Africa – A documentary

A sincere request before you commence reading this post. Do not rush through the following paragraphs. Take it slow; let the images wash over you, so you can experience a small fraction of the beauty of the documentary, without even having watched it. I hope it inspires you to actually get your hands on the “Wild Africa” series and watch it. For those of you who HAVE watched it (or think you have!), I’m sure it will bring back some wonderful memories…

Co-produced by the BBC Natural History Unit and the Discovery Channel, the series called “Wild Africa” is narrated wonderfully well in that hint of an endearing Irish accent by Fergal Keane. Breathtakingly beautiful, the documentary is divided into 6 wonderfully crafted episodes, each one dedicated to a specific ecosystem- there’s Mountains, Savannah, Deserts, Coast, Jungles, Lakes and rivers, which gives a satisfactorily concise, balanced feel to the series.

The episodes begin with wonderful moving music, and some stunning high-definition images. A blood-red sunrise, a herd of migrating elephants, beautiful cloud formations, geladas nuzzling each other, sprinting gazelle, waves breaking on the coast with foam spraying all around, ibex locked in a head to head combat, an underwater shot of seals gliding upwards through pristine,blue water, a mountain gorilla rushing towards the camera, a lion lazing around majestically on the savanna, hippopotamuses tussling and baring their teeth, and then that wonderful design – Wild Africa. Everything about the introduction screams “WATCH THIS ! We need you to learn about us, so you can do your bit to help !” (No kidding !)

Episode 1 starts off with – “Africa, the heart of the world”…How true ! “Stand on its southern shores and picture the lands rolling north..” and as the camera pans across the country, offering some breathtaking views, its hard to tear your eyes away from the screen. Within the first couple of minutes, we are presented with such a staggering variety of wildlife, that its no wonder that the producers had to split this into a 6 part series, just to attempt to do justice to the vast continent and its myriad biomes !

On a spiritual/religious note : As you watch in amazement, you cannot help but wonder at the fundamental beauty of nature. I may lapse into cliched astonishment here, but i think its absolutely justified to take a moment to reflect on the beauty of everything around us. Kinda convinces you that there must be a Creator, or a supreme power of some sort to justify
the creation of such a variety of species, each beautiful in their own way. But watching the ruthless efficiency with which predators hunt, makes you wonder whether God, as portrayed by Religion(yes, with ‘R’ in caps) is really such a nice-guy, forgiving type.

As the renowned naturalist/presenter David Attenborough says – ” My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy‘” .

But no matter how much i wax eloquent about “Wild Africa”, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words; and a moving picture, worth many more ! So all i can say in conclusion, is WATCH IT ! It will definitely be an amazingly enriching 5 hours of your life, and will leave your mind spinning with some hauntingly beautiful images which will help you better understand the spirit, and zest for life of the inhabitants of the magnificent continent called Africa.

Happy viewing !

P.S.- I hope i don’t sound like im kissin BBC/Discovery Channel ass here, but I’m sure this post is not enough to answer your queries on the documentary. For more information, please visit – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Africa

Sympathy and Melancholy

Lay beside me … Tell me what they’ve done,

Come lay beside me, under wicked sky,

Through black of day, Dark of night,

We share this paralyze …

The door cracks open, but there’s no sun shining through…”

Chaos. The word that best describes not only the state of affairs in South Mumbai on November the 26th, but also the mental state of anyone who heard about the series of attacks carried out on the nerve centre of our country. It was business as usual for the agents of anarchy: masquerading as terrorists, they fool themselves into believing that they represent the unheard voices of the underprivileged. Whether for territory ( read ‘Kashmir’), sheer spite or to sow mistrust among the populace, these gun-toting , videshi-knapsack lugging youngsters managed to hole themselves up in posh, uptown hotels, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake.

But the reason this is being written is not to criticise our government, nor is it a call for the beheading of all terrorists everywhere, for neither path can lead anywhere. The first reaction can be left to the “experts” who will ensure that hollow promises are made and conveniently forgotten come the next general elections, where pressing issues will give way to eye-catching propaganda that serves to buy enough votes for the politicians to retain their comfy cushions. And the latter is impossible , for terrorism is a many-headed monster, chopping off one head will result in two taking its place !

Instead, the carnage that ordinary Mumbaikars and Westerners alike had to witness reminds us of the fragility of human existance , the thread by which the balance of world power hangs. It makes us appreciate the knife’s edge that diplomats and negotiators the world over tread to maintain peace, and more importantly, SANITY in today’s times.

All this while, us students grow addicted to computer games such as Counter-Strike (sorry guys, hell hath no fury like a cornered n00b, and i couldn’t resist !), the call of a trigger-happy generation that desires instant gratification. Most importantly, such attacks serve to re-inforce the eternal adage – ” there’s no place like here, there’s no time like now “. For when tomorrow dawns, it may not be the tomorrow you expect; the future holds within its many folds a terrible beauty. So if you want something, go out and grab it with both hands; if something needs to be said … then what are you waiting for ? Make sure you live life YOUR way, so when the end comes …


“Lay beside me, tell me what I’ve done,

The door is closed … So are your eyes,

But now i see the sun, yes now i see the sun …

Yes now i see it …

– Unforgiven II

P.S. – You don’t mess with Metallica. Ask Napster.

To sleep or not to sleep , THAT is the question .

Ever faced with the aforementioned dilemma ? To me, it happens every single night (and during the day in some classes too, but then, the choice is obvious!) .  The tempting thing to do on assignment and pre-exam nights of course, is to give in to that velvety soft, ethereal blanket called sleep, the very stage on which life’s dreams play out (shakespeare, through the blender)  .

Generally, the conflict is simple enough to understand. On the one hand you have sweet, sweet sleep and on the other, lots of fun on the college LAN (unlimited movies, tv-shows, music, you name it, its there ).  Wakin up means facing another day of classes, and the dreaded W-word … WORK !

This vexing problem presents itself by approximately 12 pm everynight. The first tendrils of sleep start wafting through the room and gives me that funny taste in my mouth (everyone’s felt it, don’t bother denying it !). Now i gotta do something to negate this taste and clear my head; the next step is obvious – head out to either nescafe to grab a steaming cuppa soup or walk a little further to the night canteen for some hot vada pav (and my parents ask me where all that allowance goes, sheesh! )

So now i’m good to go for the next couple of hours. All around me, i can see signs of life starting up, people greeting each other in the hallways, gettin set for a long and eventful night. I go to my room, and get started on some REAL work, mostly wiki/music/sitcom/movie.

An hour or two later it begins all over again. Now depending on the intensity of this second assault, there are two steps to follow. Usually step 1 suffices – i walk down the corridor to the sink and wash my face. But sumtimes it calls for drastic measures , the dreaded B-word this time : a Bath !

Half an hour later, i emerge, shivering after that frigid nightmare, which has slapped me awake like a mackerel against the rocks (ouch!). Now i can last for however long i want ! Triumphantly, i flip open my laptop again and …. the last thing i remember is a hazy twinkling of lights signalling the end of yet another sitcom…

And now i can hear him, my room-mate calling out my name in exasperation. I open my eyes and check out the display on my cell-phone. The numbers i see on the clock suffice to lift me off the bed, and propel me towards class, as all the while i mutter a string of curses about waking up so late, and how i ought to sleep sooner. Then again, it was loads of fun. And i know for sure that the same cycle is gonna repeat itself tonight too; every night in fact. One can always sleep later… after all what are the comfy chairs in the classroom for ….?

Wishful thinking

Last evening a couple of friends and i had gone to the beach. One of the most interesting things about our college is that we have a “private” beach, which is what the college brochure claims but is quite untrue. For one, there are a bunch of fishermen who stand on the shore with these loooong fishing lines, which we gotta duck everytime (i’m not complaining, its fun! And a private beach in a college full of muggers is a waste !)

There’s also the usual beach crowd here, couples looking to escape prying eyes. Which made me think how hard it is in India (and Bangalore especially) to find a quiet place to just sit and talk to a girl, without burning a hole in your pocket. Get within a metre of a half-decent looking girl in a public place and immediately you set the alarm bells ringing and the moral police (consisting mostly of overweight aunties and chronic letchers) comes running to rescue (in their opinion) a “damsel in distress”. Its almost as if these people have nothing better to do (which is actually the case with the above mentioned) than enforce upon a rebellous world a rule they believe in – “You can’t hav a life!”

Lay a hand on a girl and immediately you’ll be branded an opportunist and she a slut. Its weird that our society ignores what’s obvious, choosing instead to stick with tried and tested TRADITION which is basically another way of saying ” we didn’t have this when we were your age sonny, so just lay off the fun, ok?”.

Its quite alright though. Perhaps the persecution makes it all the more exciting –  to lay boundaries is to see them crossed. Perhaps our relationship with the moral police is purely symbiotic, neither can survive without the other. And it IS fun to see the shock on their faces when their “rules” are broken…

The dark privacy of theaters past, the coffee was too good to last,  Underneath all this pretence, we’re just two souls seeking comfort… We’ve learnt to run away from them, to duck and hide all this while.. But isn’t it lovely when tomorrow comes, we could simply be together…not having to worry who’s around .. and just lose ourselves in each other ?

Window Shoppin’

So im gonna be an engineer, i suppose. Im doin my fresher year at NIT Suratkal, and aim to pass out with a B.Tech degree in Computer Engineering in 4 years time (“aim to”- thats the key phrase ). I should be quite sure of myself, but im not. And i should be in my electrical engg class right now, but im not.

The way i study my courses this year, i like to call it window shoppin’. For all those who aren’t familiar with the under-grad system in India, here’s how it works. The first year of our engineering, all students get to do the same subjects . So a comp student is graded on arbit things like how good he is at carpentry, or mixing funny-smelling, weird-looking “stuff” in the chemistry lab. Pointless ? You tell me.

The worst part is the actual classes. Waking up at 7 55 in the morning, leaving the safe comfort of the backlight of my laptop, and trudging down the long road to the Teaching Block. Those polished chairs, them teachers in their button-up formals, droning on pointlessly about subjects that could be interesting (again… look long and hard at “could”). They call THIS an institute of national importance ?

So i window shop. You would too. I dont apply myself in any of the classes, instead choosing to kick back, and take things one last minute at a time. I’d probably mess my GPA up (not too bad) , but this lets me concentrate on things that really matter to me, like quizzing and other extra-currics.

The next year we actually begin our chosen course. But since i cant tell the difference between cplusplus or java , im gonna be in an even bigger mess (atleast this semester i knew what a hacksaw looked like!) So bring out the neer (sic) and let the good times roll !

And all of a sudden, 4 years seems a long long time away….

P.S.- Wish you were here !

First time

Hello world ! (again?). So is it just me or is wordpress big on this whole “we wanna make you feel itsy bitsy” thing ? First page says 4and-half million blogs, 100 million posts today, a billion words added…and so on. Take a min to reflect on that .. that means that if the average blogger types thirty words a min, workin 10 mins on his article, it would take 333,333 bloggers (Thats roughly one thousandth of the US population) to account for all the blogs added, just TODAY!  Kinda makes you wonder doesnt it ? Yeah, right .

And so it begins …

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!