Friday, August 26, 2005

Non-linear morale curve

With Monday meetings with my guide being the norm, I thought it would be useful to plot my fluctuating states of anguish, panic or euphoria. So here goes nothing, (inspired by PhD Comics)

Salient points on the morale curve:
a) Prev meeting with guide went well. Realizing that the next meeting is far off in the foggy future, morale is at an all time high.
b) Realize that half the week is over and nothing has been done. Panic is beginning to set in.
c) Realize that the problem is harder than thought on Tuesday. Red 'panic' button pressed.
d) A brief spurt of motivation to solve the problem, no matter what. The spirited moment is, however, shortlived.
e) Other students say that the guide is sort of cool if you dont work for a couple of weeks. This news serves as a straw to a drowning man.
f) Realize that you _have_ to work this week because you haven't worked for the previous 3 weeks. (e) is not an option.
g) Unable to solve the problem. Become comfortably numb and stoic. Adopt a "main aisa hi hoon" (this is what I am) attitude for the meeting which is only 2 hrs away. Morale increases slightly because of the 'martyr attitude'. Spend the remaining time calling loved ones and writing the will.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

To swim or not to swim

A post after a long time. I was slightly busy with business (if you can believe that!) and pleasure. On the pleasure front, I went to Hyderabad over the weekend to meet a college friend. No I didnt visit the Charminar or have Hyderabadi biryani at a midnight buffet, but I did relax around the Hussain Sagar Lake and checked out the Imax at Hyd's only multiplex.

In other news, I have started swimming. Rather, I have started trying to swim in the IIT pool.
In a daring show of courage and determination, I defeated a kid in a photo-finish breadth-crossing race yesterday :) My coach and manager Mr. Manish Bhide will attest to this fact.
Ofcourse, there are other pool-related cheap stunts, like lingering around the pool area during the ladies slot but more on that later...

PS: Bhide got 5 kgs of grub from his fiancee, so suddenly I have started making demos at his room instead of mine :)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Lecture karma

So we have this compulsory course on Communication Skills that has a 2 hr lecture every week, and that too at as early as 10:30am, which really gets on my nerves sometimes. So this time, Bhide and I decided to unilaterally end the lecture after 1 hr had passed. The plan was to occupy the seats closest to the exit, sign on the sheet and then slink away when the time came. We did take the front row seats but little did we know that God would be so benelovent upon us that the sheet would come to us in the first 20 seconds of the class. Like evil twins who can read each other's mind, we quickly signed our names and ran away like fugitives from prison before the instructor could say "good morning". Bhide created quite a show by taking a fake mobile phone call while going out. Me ? I was just running like there was a pack of dogs behind me. Guess I haven't got Bhide's grace :) Anyway, we behaved like real scumbags and it felt really gooood. Pretty nostalgic, huh ?

Little did I know that the lecture karma would come back to haunt me. A couple days later, I had an afternoon class at 3:30pm. With nothing else to do, I went to my workstation in the institute and was getting pretty bored. Then I decided that I would surprise myself by entering the class at 3:25 and be before time for a change. Well, as I entered the lecture hall, I realised that my supposedly 3:30 class was actually at 2pm and it was in the process of ending when I made my grand appearance. My eyes met the disapproving eyes of the professor and I made an oscar-winning portrayal of a guy who had casually ambled into the wrong lecture room. I slunk away before the professor could stop me and give me the third degree. All's well that ends well.
[Update: All definitely didn't end well. There was a quiz in that lecture in which I got a grand zero :( ]

Oh by the way, did I mention that Bhide is off to meet his in-laws. He flew business class, because, in his own words, "there was no other option".

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Front row ka mazaa

Since my only class today got canceled, and I had to collect my air ticket from one of the Air Sahara offices, on an impulse I decided to go to the farthest possible ticketing office in Bombay. Ofcourse Bhide came along since he has nothing better to do anyway. So off we went towards Nariman Point. Realised that to reach the ticketing office, we used quad-modal transport (walked till main gate, auto till Kanjur Marg, train till VT, bus till the office). The highlight of the trip was ofcourse getting to sit on the very front row seats of the top floor of a double decker bus at VT. This was a first for me and was pretty exciting. From up there, every turn and lane-change seems to defy the very laws of physics !! :) When the bus takes a sharp turn, one almost feels that the unstable vehicle is going to topple.

Came back to IIT for some welcome meeting for the new PhD students. Our primary concern was, ofcourse, the free snacks that were to be served after the meet. It is good thing to have a person like Bhide as a food partner because the guy never touches anything oily, desserty, too sugary - in short anything worth eating :) .

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Not so Great Punjab

Went to this eating joint on Linking Road with Vikram. The placed is called "Great Punjab" and I was rubbing my hands together in eager anticipation of some atleast "slightly great" Punjabi food. The ambience was ok at best and so was the food. The servings are not ample and the taste...well it was average at best. Oh and did I mention that they serve alcohol :) Ultimately cost me 450 bucks per head . Guess I will stick to Papa Pancho the next time I am in that neighborhood.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Delhi and Mumbai

I have been thinking of doing a serious post about my perception of Mumbai and how it compares to Delhi. I have stayed in Delhi for almost 8 years and as expected, the city flows in my veins. A full blown comparison against Mumbai was thus inevitable :) .

Ok Delhi first. Well the city is much more spacious than Mumbai - wider roads, much more greenery, parks, no rampant skyscraper construction. In terms of infrastructure, it has _many_ more roads and did I mention that the roads were a lot wider :)
In terms of food, Delhi beats Mumbai hands down in my fav cuisine department - North Indian (Mughlai/Punjabi). Any average roadside Delhi restaurant can offer you yummy tikkas, delicious kadahi paneer and tasty naans. Till date I have only found Papa Pancho in Pali Hill, Mumbai that even comes close to offer competition.
Then there are the 'people factors' - viz the average Delhite is more generous, stylish, extravagant and in general slightly loose with the purse. The 'spend and enjoy' first and think later is the prevalent attitude in Delhi. (Dil pehle dimaag baad mein :) )
And for the middle class and above, commute is much more comfortable in Delhi. The fact remains that one can travel 25 kms in Delhi inside of one hour on road on his/her own vehicle.
Things will become even better when the metro spreads.
There are other minor pros in favour of Delhi - booze is roughly 20% cheaper :) , petrol is much cheaper, proximity to the awesome Himalayan treks and hill-stations, clear cut four seasons etc and etc.

Mumbai now. Where should I begin ? The city has bowled me over with many pleasant aspects.
And many of these things are sorely lacking in Delhi.
Firstly, its a great leveller. I feel that the rich and the poor are sort of alike because this city still respects one with merits than those with means. I have seen executives with laptops and expensive cellphones sharing local berths with the neighborhood chai-wallah on their way to work. And nobody seems to mind even the slightest bit. I can almost imagine some Delhi snobs turning their nose up at this remark. I guess the most endearing thing about Mumbai is that an outsider can see how the average Mumbaikar really sweats for his daily bread. From standing in queues at the bus stop to cramming into the already jammed up local train , spending 3-4 hrs in commute everyday and still maintaining a it-doesnt-matter smile on the face.
Another factor is the level of professionalism in the city. Be it the auto-wallahs (do they rock or what !), or the commendable efficiency of the trains/BEST or the general civic sense in the residents (making queues for the auto/bus etc), everyone makes it his/her duty to maintain order in this chaotic city. [I got scolded by a gentleman at the Bandra promenade today evening. I inadvertantly entered the promenade while eating some snack and an elderly gentleman who was jogging by made sure that I finished my food before I got anywhere near the waves.] Delhi on the other hand has the apathetic "Chalta hai" attitude written all over it.
Finally, Mumbai has the monsoons to offer. Irritating (and inconvenient too) at times due to its abundance, it surely is a welcome change for me, one who has just arrived from a scorching desert called Delhi.

Will add later as and when other factors arise.