Saturday, June 14, 2014

What's in a name?

There are 3 interesting aspects about this piece:
  • Firstly, I wrote this when I was pissed off at not being called only with my first name. During college days, there were 2 other Kartik's but I was never called only as Kartik. Thankfully, Pramod came up the KRao moniker and needless to say I loved my unique id ;-).
  • Secondly, the story about the parents meeting is nearly true albeit a bit dramatized
  • Last but not the least, this is an incomplete piece. Of course, I can't recall what I intended to write and so cannot complete it. 
Nevertheless, enjoy it.

As the title suggests, the story is about a name. Yes, my name - Vaibhav. Vaibhav and only Vaibhav. The story had its seeds sown way back in time. Before India gained independence; before the magic apple fell on Newton; and in fact, even before the real version of Jurrasic Park was screening. Anyways, since I don't know any of it, I will just rewind 25 years back in time and narrate from there.

My abridged version of the story starts when a guy called Vishal imagined. Imagined that a girl called Vandana was waving at him, when in fact she was waving at her friend. Vishal excitedly waved back and caught Vandana's attention. They looked at each other, eye to eye. And then with an earsplitting sound to announce resumption of its royal sojourn, the DTC bus departed from the bus stop. It was not love at first sight, but neither was it some ignorable event.

The eye contact moved to the acquaintance stage before transforming into courtship. As time moved on, they realized they were compatible with each other. Since both of them were from middle class families, their parents were co-operative. The villain, unexpectedly, was the astrologer. The guy that Vandana's father went to said the horoscopes matched. However, the person Vishal's father consulted said the two were incompatible. The jerk had almost got me killed. Having got a positive and a negative advice, Vishal's father went in for a second opinion - as if they were considering whether or not to undergo an operation (of course, the event under consideration would lead to one). The third umpire gave the verdict in favour of the children. And soon Vishal and Vandana tied the knot.

They shifted to a one bed room apartment, somewhere in Karol Bagh. Since both of them were earning, their combined monthly income was a handsome Rs. 650/-. They would comfortably pay the rent for their one bed room flat and afford an occasional splurge at some restaurant and a weekend movie. It could have been a "happily ever after" ending of a story and nothing to write much about, but for their desire. The desire to have kids and experience all those surreal emotions that can be best understood by watching a Hindi movie. Well some time later, Vandana went into labour and the hero was born. Yes, you are right, that's me. I don't know whether my name was pre-decided or not, but the end result was that I was christened Vaibhav. So from "V2", our family became "V3".

Life's like that

I must have written this when I was in Infy - used to wear a tie only during those days. The long nights despite all the process hyperbole must have made me write this.

It was yet another sleepy Monday,
Breeze ruffling my hair, made the tie sway
I walked listlessly towards my building,
When would I come out, deeply wondering

Stairs I was about to climb,
When the swiping machines began to chime,
Turning around, I let out a vow!
Gaurav was skillfully swaying to and fro

Between the swipe machines, moving his ID card,
He generated a sweet wordless ballard,
To horror my amazement turn,
When from melody, cacophony he churn,

"Stop it! Gaurav", I heard myself yelling,
Unrelentlessly he continued at his task, unrewarding,
Curling my fingers into a fist,
I took a shot but narrowly missed

Cracked the knuckles as the wall came in contact with the bone,
Shuddering I awoke from the dream with a loud groan,
Cursing and swearing to myself I talk,
Amidst the incessant beeping of the alarm clock

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blade Runner

Considering that I am writing almost after 3 years, this is not the best post to start with . However, since this incident happened, I have visualized myself writing this post. So, I thought it best to write it up and release mind space for other ideas. Here it goes:

Around 3 months back, within a span of 3 weeks, I made 3 to-n-fro visits. The first visit was to Bangalore for a client meet, while the other two were to Hyderabad for job switch related activities. Each of these visits required me to present the best face - trimmed and cleanly shaven - to the client / interviewer(s). Luckily, each of these trips spanned less than 48 hrs. This allowed me to groom up on the day of the flight or the day before and still be in a presentable condition the next day. Since each of these visits got scheduled quite closely, I carried the same travel bag around. The only change used to be clothes that I would carry for the particular trip. The rest of the contents were as is because I probably was very lazy to unpack.

Surprisingly (or ironically), on my last flight back to Delhi, the security personnel @ Hyd airport raised an alarm. They said that I was carrying some shaving blades or the kind. I confidently refuted their claim and opened up bag and showed the toiletry bag in and out. Not convinced, the security people asked me to put the bag through the X-ray machine once more. Again the alarm! This time they made me remove all contents and put my clothes, bag and other items in 2-3 different trays. They gave me back the bag and clothes; and then just put the toiletry kit in the X-ray machine. Again the alarm! I argued with them that it was a small kit and I had already showed them the in and outs. One of them searched the kit thoroughly to his satisfaction and still could not find any blades. Then another one stepped forward and conducted another search. Surprisingly - and embarrassingly enough - he fished out a blade from some hidden zipping.

While they triumphantly showed me the blade, and I tried to laugh it away, I was shell shocked. I had not breached any security measures for which I would be prosecuted; but the point was that I had carried the same kit five other times aboard a flight (in a span of 3 weeks and the last time being just 48 hrs ago). For once, I thought that the Hyd airport security personnel possibly wanted to inflate their "catch quotient" and might have intentionally put the blade in my kit. Then again it struck me that possibly they may have tightened their X-ray screening parameters. Finally, I settled down with a fascinating thought, "What the hell! I am a Blade Runner!".

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hurray! It's exam time!

Recently, when I came across this piece, I was pleasantly surprised to note that it was a completed article. I recall having started writing this, but was under the impression that I had left it incomplete. Must have written this in the 4th year of graduation; I must have been feeling nostalgic about leaving college and it also contains a heavy dosage of GRE quality words ;-). Here it is...

A friend's email signature goes as follows: "I asked God to give me joy and He gave me life!". Characteristic of a quotable quote, this line is packed with undeniable truth and hidden meaning, not immediately visible to the naked eye. While pondering over the subtlety and intangibility of the quote, I came up with one myself. It goes like this: "A student asked God to give him joy, and He gave them exams!". This line may appear to be a trivial attempt by the author to try his hand at writing quotes, but it is indeed a paradox.

Undeniably, exams are viewed as a source of misery by virtually the entire student community. Many develop psychosomatic illnesses during the course of examinations, or sometimes just at the thought of it. Many others, complain that they are archaic methods enforced upon the students that serve no purpose in today's world. They persistently advocate for a change in the evaluation system. But then, none is able to suggest an alternative which is both feasible and agreeable to one and all. And the few studious students who do perform well constantly crib about the 1 mark lost or an unanswered question left. To anybody this would present an awfully dismal picture about the essence of exams in a student's life.

But then, like every coin has two sides, so do exams have a brighter and lighter side! I have been fortunate to study in a college - with a mandatory hostel requirement - with some of the best brains, who inexplicably believe in the cricket concept called "slog over hitting". The heavy workload that we have, coupled with the fact that the college is situated at the city outskirts, leads to little contact with the outside world. A student's life is reduced to regular assignment submissions and meeting project deadlines with the odd movie in between. This record of life, keeps playing monotonously, day in and day out. It is here that exams lease in a breath of fresh air.

Amidst the burgeoning tension, certain minor events occur which upon reflection give immense joy to the heart. If one keeps his / her senses open to these occurances, the task of preparing for and writing exams becomes an enjoyable one.

Eleventh hour preparation always calls for help from friends. The clambering for space in the already over crowded room the day before the exam, when one student dons the role of a processor and imparts "invaluable knowledge"; you and others mentally noting each and every "word of wisdom" uttered by the "Messiah"; the fun, teasing and scolding that goes on when a student is teaching; and finally your own experiences in the hot seat leave a fine imprint in the memory. These memories when recalled can make you smile, even on a hard day.

After an exam is over, heated discussions take place. Everybody justifies his / her answer and tries to impress upon others that their solution is correct. One after the other, most realize that they have made mistakes, and this deflates their morale. Suddenly, it dawns on them that any further discussion is "injurious to health" and their performance in the remaining exams. Enlightened with this knowledge, the group disbands only to form another group with another set of students. This makes one laugh, since even though the students know that the discussions will decrease their morale (and thus concentration while preparing for the next exam), they never miss out an opportunity to initiate and participate in discussions.

However, the real treat is the exam day itself. When the exam is conducted in the morning, students are forced to wake up early for a quick revision. This provides the student with the rare opportunity to witness the sun breaking across the horizon. An equally beautiful but also hilarious sight is when one and all rush towards the bathrooms to get a bath. The banging on the doors, or the shouting / scolding that goes on during the process makes one wonder "When did this happen the last time?". But the gem of all, is the constant ringing of alarm clocks that make all kinds of sounds. The rooms being closely spaced, one can hear more than one alarm at a given time. As soon as one stops, another starts ringing somewhere else. This goes on and on, well into the morning. Even though a distraction, it translates into music to the observant ear.

While the above experiences were encountered, in a specific hostel and college setting, others might have also undergone different but related experiences in their hostels or even homes. It is these experiences, that one should look forward to and also percieve to make exams a livelier aspect of life. To sum it up, even though exams are bad for whatever reasons, we can seek to enjoy ourselves even during this phase. And finally, one should remember that since there is something bad, we appreciate the good and happy moments of life.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How to write a thesis

These are my notes (or rather verbatim excerpts) from Chandrasekhar's guide. I am posting this to serve as a quick referral (for me) and for anybody else who does not plan to read the entire original document.

What is a thesis?

Thesis is a proposition to be maintained or proved. It can also be considered as a proposition made as a basis for reasoning without the assumption of its truth. Effectively, a thesis is an (obligatory) offering placed at the desk of the examiner by a candidate who wishes to get a degree. This is the most common, and often only, reason why a thesis is written. But there are other reasons for writing a thesis.

A thesis is a written record of the work that has been undertaken by a candidate. It constitutes objective evidence of the author's knowledge and capabilities in the field of interest and is therefore a fair means to gauge them. Most of all, a thesis is an attempt to communicate. Science begins with curiosity, follows on with experiment and analysis, and leads to findings which are then shared with the larger community of scientists and perhaps even the public. The thesis is therefore not merely a record of technical work, but is also an attempt to communicate it to a larger audience.

Thesis writing : Three S's

A thesis may be analysed into three S's:
  • Structure
  • Substance
  • Style
Structure confers logical coherence; substance, significance and depth; and style, elegance and appeal. The structure of a thesis is governed by logic and is invariant with respect to subject. The substance varies with subject, and its quality is determined by the technical knowledge and mastery of essentials exhibited by the student. Style has two components: language and layout. The former deals with the usage of English as a medium of sound technical communication; the latter with the physical presentation of the thesis on paper. All three components: structure, substance and style influence one another.

Differences between the undergraduate and postgraduate theses

They share a common structure and need for logical rigour. It is only in the substance and the emphasis placed on it that the differences arise. In general, it is expected that:
  • The three most commonly cited qualities to evaluate an undergraduate thesis are originality, independence, and mastery.
  • A higher degree thesis is required to present research in the context of existing knowledge. This means a thorough and critical review of the literature, not necessarily limited to the narrow topic of research, but covering the general area.
  • A PhD thesis shall be a substantial and original contribution to scholarship, for example, through the discovery of knowledge, the formulation of theories or the innovative re-interpretation of known data and established ideas.
  • The PhD candidate should also show clearly what original contributions (s)he has made.
In short, a thesis is evidence of the candidate's capacity to carry out independent research under the guidance of a supervisor, and to analyse and communicate the significant results of that work. The candidate for higher degrees must demonstrate, in addition, mastery of the literature and indicate clearly which is his or her original work, and why it is significant.

Thesis structure

A thesis should conform to the following structure:
  • Title page gives the title of the thesis in full, the candidate's names and degrees, a statement of presentation in the form "This thesis is presented for the degree of ...", the department and year of submission.
  • Summary or Abstract of approximately 300 words. (It should not exceed 700 words.) The abstract or summary should summarize the appropriate headings, aims, scope and conclusion of the thesis.
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Main Text
  • Bibliography or References
  • Appendices
If we zoomed in on the Main Text, we should see something like this:
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Review of the Literature
  • Chapter 3: Materials and Methods
  • Chapters 4 to n: Experimental Chapters
  • Chapter (n + 1): General Discussion or Conclusions
Any of the experimental chapter, should have:
  • A brief introduction
  • Experimental procedure (methods and materials)
  • Results
  • Discussion
This structure of an experimental chapter / thesis (in entirety) reflects the time honoured format of science experiments:
  • Aim
  • Materials and Methods
  • Observations
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions

Rationale for structure

The rationale for the structure is simply that a thesis must tell a story clearly and convincingly. There is a flow in the logic:
  • Introduction/Aim: What did you do and why?
  • Materials and Methods: How did you do it?
  • Observations/Results: What did you find?
  • Discussion: What do your results mean to you and why?
  • Conclusions: What new knowledge have you extracted from your experiment?
Any flaw in the reasoning or gap in the logic will be easily spotted if this structure is strictly followed.

The hypothesis underpins the thesis

The hypothesis is all important. It is the foundation of your thesis. It gives coherence and purpose to your thesis. If it is hard to grasp what hypothesis means, these explanations might help:
  • The hypothesis defines the aim or objective of an experiment, that if some likely but unproven proposition were indeed true, we would expect to make certain observations or measurements.
  • A hypothesis is an imaginative preconception of what might be true in the form of a declaration with verifiable deductive consequences.
  • A hypothesis is the obligatory starting point of all experimental reasoning. Without it, no investigation would be possible, and one would learn nothing.
  • hypothesis: that which underlies a thesis
Your hypothesis must fit the known facts and be testable. To comply with the first, you must have read the literature. To comply with the second, you must do the experiment. This is why the hypothesis is central to scientifc investigation. If an experiment shows that a hypothesis is incorrect, then that hypothesis must be erroneous, no matter how attractive. Moreover, failure of a hypothesis may lead to a re-examination of assumptions, refutation of shaky theories, and ultimately to new knowledge.

Substance : Begin at the beginning

The content of your thesis is being continuously gathered throughout the period of your project/research. Keep clear, well annotated records. Keep a running record of experiment and observation; be as wordy and repetitive as required. The following could / should be maintained:
  • Freehand drawings of experimental setups
  • Accurate description of what you believe to be perceiving (no matter however wierd they appear)
  • Questions you ask to yourself
Maintain a record book where you record your thoughts, perceptions and measurements, using words, numbers and pictures, as and when they are still fresh in your mind. Plan your experiments so that one experiment has only one hypothesis. Many experiments may together shed light on a larger, unifying hypothesis.

Write with the reader in mind

All communication involves two parties: the sender of the message and the receiver; in written communication, they are the writer and the reader. If you write with the reader in mind you are more likely to communicate successfully. The reader should not waste effort into understanding the substance of the writing, in trying to guess what the writer intended to mean. Some sound generic guidelines are given below:
  • Place in the position of importance (stress position) the "new information" you want the reader to emphasize in his or her mind.
  • Place the person or thing whose story is being told at the beginning of a sentence in the topic position.
  • Place appropriate "old information" in the topic position to provide linkage with what has gone before and context for what is to come later.
  • Provide context for your reader before asking him or her to consider anything new.
  • Match the emphasis conveyed by the substance with the emphasis anticipated by the reader from the structure.
In summary, lead the reader from the known to the unknown. Write with the reader in mind: this is usually the examiner, but do not forget the poor student who gets to continue your project the next year. If your thesis is not clear enough, (s)he may be condemned to repeat your work before making further progress, losing valuable time in the process.


Think. Plan. Write. Revise. Messy thinking leads to messy writing: cluttered, obscure and uninviting. Think and plan before you write and revise. Writing is not a linear process but a cyclic one. What appears first may be written last, with the benefit of hindsight and a unified perspective. But, where does one start; how does one revise, and how many times?

Attikiouzel's aphorisms

  • Start writing early: Do not delay writing until you have finished your project/research. Write complete and concise "Technical Reports" as and when you finish each nugget of work. This way, you will remember everything you did and document it accurately, when the work is still fresh in your mind.
  • Spot errors early: A well-written "Technical Report" will force you to think about what you have done, before you move on to something else. If anything is amiss, you will detect it at once and can easily correct it, rather than have to revisit the work later, when you may be pressured for time and have lost touch with it.
  • Write your thesis from the inside out: Begin with the chapters on your own experimental work. You will develop confidence in writing them because you know your own work better than anyone else. Once you have overcome the initial inertia, move on to the other chapters.
  • End with a bang, not a whimper: First and last impressions persist. Arrange your chapters so that your first and last experimental chapters are sound and solid.
  • Write the Introduction after writing the Conclusions: The examiner will read the Introduction first, and then the Conclusions, to see if the promises made in the former are indeed fulfilled in the latter. Ensure that your Introduction and Conclusions match 100%.
  • "No man is an Island": The critical review of the literature places your work in context. Usually, one third of the PhD thesis is about others' work; two thirds, what you have done yourself. After a thorough and critical literature review, the PhD candidate must be able to identify the major researchers in the field and make a sound proposal for doctoral research.
  • Estimate the time to write your thesis and then multiply it by three to get the correct estimate: Writing at one stretch is very demanding and it is all too easy to under-estimate the time required for it.


  • The hallmarks of scientific writing are precision, clarity and brevity, in that order.
  • Write (your chapters) in four drafts:
    • Putting the facts together
    • Checking for coherence and fluency of ideas
    • Readability
    • Editing
  • The Introduction should embody the (unified) hypothesis. The reader finds in a clearly expressed hypothesis the skeleton of the thesis. Use flow diagrams, headings, sub-headings etc., to create and sustain interest.
  • The scope and emphasis of the Literature Review must be directly relevant to the subject of the thesis. This should be a critical synthesis of the state of the knowledge. Especially important are the areas needing further investigation: what has not been done, as well as what has been done, but for which there is a conflict in the literature. The examiner finds out how the candidate thinks from reading this section.
  • Include a common chapter that presents in one place all the experimental details common to all your experimental chapters. This avoids boring repetition and clears the way for a more fluent presentation of experimental results.
  • Where several related experiments are grouped into a single chapter, it is preferable to present this sequence individually for each experiment but to conclude with one Discussion. This will meld the experiments together and unify the chapter.
  • Materials and Methods Ensure proper quality control and statistical planning and analysis. Retain enough details to allow repetition of experiments for up to seven (7) years, as legally required.
  • Examiners ask the following questions when reading a thesis:
    • Has the student read all the references?
    • What questions does this thesis raise?
    • What richness does it contain that can spawn other work?
    • What is the quality of flow of ideas?
  • Try to present your Results separately from your Discussion. There is a temptation to mingle fact and opinion, but resist it. Your work will be easier to understand if your results (measurements, observations, perceptions) are separated from your discussion (inferences, opinions, even conjectures).
  • Use SI units and the preferred abbreviations. Leave a blank space between the number and the SI unit and do not put a full stop after the abbreviation, unless it is at the end of the sentence.

The Experimental Chapters

Each of these should preferably be self contained and clearly focused. Choose and present only those results that are relevant to your hypothesis. A morass of experimental results unilluminated by a hypothesis and unembellished by a discussion is insulting and confusing to your reader.

State your hypothesis clearly. Indicate all assumptions. Include enough information about materials and methods to enable another suitably qualified person to repeat your experiments. Relegate tedious but necessary details to an Appendix, so that there are no breaks in the flow of ideas in your presentation. If you chose some specific conditions for your experiment that may not be readily
apparent to your reader, explain the reasons for your choice here.

It is customary to describe your Methods before the Materials. Describe your algorithm before giving details about the dataset on which you developed and tested it. If you are using a method that has already been documented in the literature, do not describe it in full; describe it briefly or not at all, and give a reference citation.

If your results convey no sense of the new or the unexpected, you must ask yourself whether they are the right results to present, and also whether your hypothesis was well framed in the first place. Do not present results chronologically; present them logically.

Adopt a standard nomenclature for all your chapters and introduce this in one place, preferably in a chapter preceding your experimental work. Do not change your symbols and their meanings as you go along.

Importance of discussion section

The Discussion section of your experimental chapter is where you add value to your work. This is where you comment on your results.
  • Why are they what they are?
  • What meaning can you wrest from them?
  • Are they in accord with accepted theory?
  • What do they mean with respect to your hypothesis?
  • Do your results uphold your assumptions?
  • How do you treat unexpected or inconsistent results? Can you account for them?
  • Do your results suggest that you need to revise your experiments or repeat them?
  • Do they indicate a revised hypothesis?
  • What are the limitations in your methodology?
  • How do your results fit in with the work of others in the field?
  • What additional work can you suggest?
Throughout your thesis, and especially in your experimental chapters, there should be no gaps in the flow of logic. Keep the links of a chain in mind. Each link is connected to two other links: one before and one after. Absence of any one link is a weakness. Absence of both means there is no chain.

The Literature Review

The literature review is the backdrop on which you present your work. It must be selective, but substantial enough for the merits of your work to be judged in relation to what is known. It is especially critical for a PhD thesis where the claim of originality should be defended with a thorough and critical review of the literature, especially in your specific area of research. You should capture the essence of current knowledge and comment critically on where the interesting questions and inconsistencies lie. The literature review is vital to justify your hypothesis, which must be consistent with what is known.

The Introduction and Conclusions

The Introduction is where you "soft launch" your reader on the work described in your thesis. Lead the reader from the known to the unknown. State the hypothesis clearly. Give a preview of your thesis, globally and chapter by chapter. Your Introduction has done its work if you have captured the reader's curiosity and interest in this first chapter.

The Conclusions record the power of your scientific thinking. You have to unite all that has gone before with a thread of unified perspective. This is where you say why you think your story is a good one and present evidence from your work to support your claim. The fate of your hypothesis is revealed here: did it stand, fall, or require modification?

You may briefly compare your work with that of others, present whatever new knowledge has been gained from your work, and suggest what may be done to further new knowledge. The Conclusions should give a sense of fulfilment and finality to your thesis.Write the Introduction after you have written the Conclusions and make sure the two match.

Linking your chapters While you are writing your thesis, you might suddenly remember that an idea in Chapter 3 needs to be linked to an idea in Chapter 5, etc. This is a healthy sign because it means that you are integrating your work and seeing your thesis as one whole in your mind. These forward and backward linkages give continuity to your thesis.

The Summary or Abstract

The Summary or Abstract is perhaps the most difficult part to write. Do not make the mistake of trying to write it first: you will waste time and get discouraged. The Abstract should be written last.

I have found the following exercise very helpful in trying to focus the mind on what the point of a thesis (or paper or article) is. Try condensing your thesis in:
  • one word
  • one line
  • one sentence
  • one paragraph
  • one page
  • one chapter
This method is somewhat like asking a dying man for a message: he will tell you only the most important thing(s). You begin at the most "compressed" level of describing your thesis and successively relax the constraint on the number of words to achieve increasing levels of detail. Somewhere along the way, you should have written your one to two page abstract, summarising your thesis adequately.

Writing other parts of your thesis

The Title should be neither too long nor too short. It should be focused and interesting. It should include the keywords you might use to describe your work in a scientific paper or thesis abstracting system. Try to use some verbs rather than a long list of nouns.

The Acknowledgements should include sources of financial support and all those whose help you have sought and got, and all those whose work you have directly built upon.

The Bibliography should only contain references you have actually read. To quote an unread paper is misleading and dangerous. In engineering theses, references are usually cited by number, in order of citation.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to digress from your main story to explain something, especially for completeness. For example, it may be some experimental details, an analytical method, a program listing, etc., that is not central to your story, but whose exclusion would make your thesis incomplete. Include such material in an Appendix. Moreover, do not parrot textbook material in an Appendix just to give your thesis length or to impress your examiners. In all likelihood, they would ignore such material.

Polishing up your thesis

As and when each chapter is written, read it for understanding, paying attention to the flow of logic and sense of continuity. Then read it again, paying attention this time to how comprehensible it is. Finally, read it once more paying attention to spelling, grammar, typography, placement of illustrations, etc. In these three stages, you are evaluating the chapter for its structure, substance and style.

At each reading, revise your thesis as you feel appropriate. When all the chapters are in place, read the thesis again, paying attention this time to overall understanding, coherence, comprehensibility and presentation. Get your supervisor, and anyone else whom you can approach, to read and criticize the early drafts of your thesis.

The time element

It is very easy to underestimate the time needed to plan, write and revise your thesis. As a general guideline, allow one to three months for writing up an undergraduate thesis and at least six months for a PhD thesis. As another rule of thumb, triple your initial estimate to arrive at a more realistic time frame. The period when you are writing up is the period when you are most vulnerable: the excitement of the research is now behind you, your scholarship would be running out or might already have, financial pressures will intensify, and there may be an obligation to work part-time and write up part-time. There may also be attractive job offers vying for your attention. Do not lose motivation during this difficult period. Loss of motivation is one of the principal ways in which you can deprive yourself of your PhD. Write up your thesis and get on with the rest of your life!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Few weeks back I was watching the movie, Dasvidaniya, with my parents. It was the second time I was watching it; and like the first time it was mind blowing. Top quality movies like these and in certain cases few inspiring speeches make you wonder whether the life you are leading is worth it. Unfortunately though, the positive vibes last for a few hours or at max for a day or two. This time though I seem to have clinged onto those thoughts; hopefully I will sustain the enthusiasm long enough to follow and achieve the goals that I consider really important.

The tragic part, though, is that I have been so obsessed with my academics and work, that I can't even think of 10 things that I would cherish to do or achieve. Still, I would like to do the following:

  • Play badminton every weekend

  • Participate in adventure sport activities: Have done rafting @ Rishikesh. Would
    love to do aerial stunts even though I am scared of heights :)

  • Learn a musical instrument

  • Get to meet all friends since childhood: My socializing quotient is near zero :-(

  • Learn cooking: Even though I hate discussions on how to make food or where to get
    good food

  • Making that one physical system (no matter how trivial) but which I can be
    proud of: Have never worked on any physical system design. Am still that kid
    waiting to get off the blocks.

  • Do something on the drawing side: What exactly I dont know but for months I
    have been thinking of doing something :)

Wow! Not a bad list. I seriously did not think I would get so many of these - in the very first attempt. Now that I have it on paper (or the web), its time to get started. The good thing, is that I shall have this for a ready reference (till Google servers dont crash); to remind myself that I have much more to do in life other than coding and memorizing / grasping theoretical concepts.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

96' Cricket World Cup

As far as writing poems are concerned, this is my personal best. I wrote this towards the end of the last term of the 8th class. On the last day of the class, our teacher asked us if anybody would like to share anything with the class. My friends informed her that I wrote this poem. I was asked to recite this in front of the class. I was extremely nervous and did mess up at a few lines. Despite that the applause was astounding. Will never forget that day.

The world cup caught up the fire,
The mechanic, for its live telecast, insulated the camera’s last wire.

Despite Graeme Hick’s ton,
New Zealand convincingly won.

South Africa displayed a successful exhibition at Pindi,
As that in the 70’s of the Windies,

In the match between W. Indies and Zimbabwe at Hyderabad,
The Windies regrouped and crushed Zimbabwe as if gone mad.

The match between Sri Lanka and Australia was forfeited,
And in the heart of the Lankans, the Aussies were severely treated.

The West Indies succumbed to the pressure,
And India won to the people’s delight and pleasure.

In the dual between South Africa and New Zealand,
The latter was defeated and the former honoured by a glorious band.

Due to security reasons, the second match in Colombo was also forfeited,
The sportsmanship by the Windies was cheated.

In the battle of Sachin vs. Warne and Taylor vs. Kumble, Australia won,
Due to a fine spell by Warne and Mark Waugh’s ton.

In the most shocking upset of the cricket history,
West Indies were defeated by Kenya, who registered their first victory.

The Sri Lankans blasted the Indian bowling attack,
Thus despite Sachin’s century, at the end, the face of Azhar’s men was black.

When Sri Lanka scored over Kenya a victory,
They scored the highest no. of runs and rewrote history.

In the quarter finals, the dark horses of the tournament,
Defeated England, and this was another historic moment.

In the crucial battle between India and Pakistan,
Partially due to the absence of Pakistani captain, Wasim Akram,
And some aggressive strokeplay from Jadeja and other middle order batsmen,
Left the Pakistanis staring at them.

Despite the inspiring fightback by Harris and Germon,
It was Australia’s day and so they went on.

After the shocking upset, the Windies bounced back,
To completely demolish the South African all round attack.

An unforgivable mistake by Azhar, and the unruly behavior of Calcuttans,
Forced the match referee to gift away the match to the Lankans.

A dramatic tactical error by the Windies in the end,
Allowed the Aussies to clinch the match and made the Windies face bend.

Unlike other matches, the Aussie fielding in the final let them down,
And allowed the Sri Lankans to snatch away the crown.