Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Student Politics Question

A question that every Indian has been asking since the time India gained independence in 1947- what is the role of politics in India?Build or Destroy?Especially Student politics in India,which has come down to a scencario of political vendettas full of physical violence and dirty political games.
I live in a college where College politics is banned.We in NITC have resisted several attempts by external student party politics to enter NITC for so many years now,including the greatest and most feared Students Federation Of India (SFI),the KSU,etc..NITC has shouted anti-SFI/KSU slogans throughout its many odd years of existence, and we will continue to do so.We have seen what party politics has done to other colleges inside Kerala.I know personally.I live next to a typical example of such a college,though out of respect i will not mention its name.

In this particular college whose case I mentioned,anytime a student(or union) wants,he can get his clases cancelled.Classes are like a disposable commodity-go for it if you want,cancel it if you're not in the mood.Exams are even worse.

The bigger problems start when the cultural festivals start-every program held here is ended by an SFI-vs-KSU fight,which most definitely ends up in a few broken bones,a police charge,a few dozen registered cases,and ofcourse, the inevitable end result- a HARTAL.Let me define this cursed word to you.No college,no class,no study, nothing.Immobility.Helplessness.Silence,Submission and Inactivity.Thats what a Hartal is.A whole population goes immobile when a thing such as a hartal occurs.Nevertheless, it is a status symbol and a show of power for several political unions,and thus it does go unstopped all throughout Kerala every odd day nowadays.

Recently there was a close attempt by the local SFI unit in our area to penetrate into our college,and even attack some of us.The result was drastic.The whole college awoke like an angered monster,around 400-500 students out on the road,all tense and angry,most of us armed with sticks and stones,and ran back at them.The police had to interfere,otherwise there definitely might have been bloodshed.The night went by in a flurry of abuses and stone-throwing between angered NITC students and local SFI activists,with the police unfortunately caught in between.

Quoting a Hindu newspaper report :

"Classes at NITC are suspended owing to the attack on Administrative Block and breaking of drinking water supply pipes by SFI and DYFI activists on Monday night..disruption of water supply affected more than 2,000 students in 12 hostels..Hostels could not be closed down since 50 per cent of the students were from outside the State, officials said..Water was supplied to the college from a nearby river.."

Check out the Link

I think the message given by NITC to the external student unions on this day is clear : "WE STUDENTS DO NOT NEED EXTERNAL STUDENT UNIONS TO TAKE CARE OF OUR NEEDS.. WE HAVE DONE SO BEAUTIFULLY FOR SO MANY YEARS AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO..We have conducted over 30 Ragams and Tathva's and will conduct a 100 more,each one living up to its name of being the best until ony the next Ragam or Tathva,and WE DO NOT NEED THE SFI OR THE KSU TO TEACH US HOW TO DO SO..."

We have seen the potentials of so many colleges all over Kerala wasted away by years of student politics..wach one of them capable of being an NIT in themselves..each one capable of conducting their own Ragams and Tathvas..but divided and hampered between themselves only on the count of Student when i see what Damage this has done to not only the academic standards and technical standards in Kerala,but the very honour and name of Kerala,I am forced to shout out loud..To Hell With Student Politics in Kerala..for its own good..

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The recent Free And Open Source Software (FOSS) Meet we conducted recently at NIT Calicut was a shout-out to the world that the Free and Open source world is growing up into a movement of international scale, and sooner or later India would turn over completely to FOSS for its IT industry base. FOSS Meet@ NITC 07 took place on March 2nd to 4th, and proved to be 3 days of absolute entertainment and a learning experience at the same time..

As the Chief Minister Of Kerala couldnt make it to the event, the Director of NRC FOSS Dr.C.N.Krishnan was the chief guest of the event. He gave interesting examples showing the importance and emergence of FOSS. The Eye-Opener was when he mentioned discussion with the Director of NITC on inclusion of FOSS in Academics! Imagine studying FOSS as an elective..

The meet was glamorised by the presence of prominent personalities from all over India from the Open source world and beyond. Atul Chitnis from Geodesic, whose keynote address on 'FOSS in Career' went through in grand style..

Quotes like "Ask not what you can do for your country,but ask.. Whats for lunch..." and "..Your country can wait, gentlemen,Leave the country and focus on yourself.." etc. definitely caught audience interest..not to mention his eerie one-word slides...

The second talk on the opening day by Kiruba Shankar on blogging saw a record fully-packed Aryabhatta hall..despite being a post-dinner late-night session..
The second and third day went through in similar fashion with more than 30 talks touching on several areas of Free and Open Source software.. Delegates were understandably confused on which talks to attend, with three parallel sessions going on at the same time..

The dinner at Mamachans with the speakers and the late night discussion on all sorts of topics from girls to toilets was another highlight of the event, and gave us organisers a change too..
The event was less of a talk and more of an entertaining get-together for the speakers, volunteers and delegates alike.. Some quotes on FOSS..

"You guys treat us so well..Hospitality in the free and open source world aint so great..The food tastes great too.." - Vivek Khurana,speaker at FOSS

"I think every laugh at this place will be a learning experience to all.."-Delegate Teacher from a nearby college

"I give a big thumbs up to the spirit and the enthusiasm of the students.The organizers,all students,showed phenomenal passion and zeal.The hospitality was near perfect.There was always someone to take care of our needs..This is good college publicity, you must be paid for it.." - Kiruba Shankar

"I feel content about being at FOSS.NITC and I'm very much looking to be there next year too.."- Parthan, speaker at FOSS

Our Help (Less) Desk at work

Our sponsors were: Principal sponsor was IT Kerala Mission, Platinum sponsor- Tata Consultancy Services, Gold Sponsor IBM, Silver sponsors Wipro and Indian Oil Servo, and communication partner Idea Networks. We thank them for their support and cooperation.

(Also see.. Venky and Monster blogs on FOSS)
The finale was another very happening talk on blogging by India's top blogger Kiran Jace.. it too saw a packed Chanakya hall..
The 'prize distribution' and informal valedictory function..where the organisers, speakers and delegates had an equally fun time...
See ya all at FOSS @ NITC 08 !!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sierra counter strike-s people all over the world

And the award for the greatest destruction of mankind's resources goes to Sierra,for bringing out their masterpiece..
The greatest game ever... Half-Life Counterstrike.

According to statistics,Counter-Strike(CS) is still the most widely played online first-person shooter in the world,and has comfortably made its place in history.In 2002 there were over 30,000 Counter-Strike servers on the Net(2nd was UT with only 9800).In 2004,statistics showed over 85000 players playing CS at any point in time!And in 2006, Steam regularly shows over 200,000 players for CS!
And this is the best statistic of all-according to Steam,these contribute to over 6.177 billion minutes of playing time each month! Thats 12000 man-years lost in just 1 BLOODY MONTH!

Here in NITC,any average day starts of with CS.Here,y
ou can wake up to the cries of 'Go Go Go' and 'Fire in the Hole' and the unmistakable sound of AK-47 gunshots.In the hostels,CS madness peaks at around midnight(and NO, its NOT the time for sleep).This is when all the 'cults' & 'clans' & 'mobs' gang up and spent the rest of the night banging away anything that moves onscreen..some of the madder ones buy more expensive screens,keyboards and even mousepads because they thought it could help them bag a few more extra headshots..HA,think of that..a professional Counterstrike MousePad!

Ever heard of 'Familiarity breeds contempt'?Thats what i thought until i saw these guys here.Some of them have bunked whole few months of classes and ear
ned attendance shortages in record time,only for CS.The NITC habitat seems to suit the evolution of these timeless creatures who know of nothing but the coloured pixels moving on their screens..You gotta admire the concentration..half this dedication put into an exam would definitely earn them top marks..ofcourse,no student in his right mind opts for boring exams over CS.

And i thought I'd seen it all until the day I saw them studying CS.. STUDYING
CS Gaming Videos to improve on their game!..unbelievable..and about specialisations- "u be the sniper, i'll be the bomber etc etc"..and about CS videos watched all over the place(pretty impressive)..and the other day i heard a conversation about this immortal being called 'the Edge' coming down to South India who was in fact just one of the better CS players in South India..
"..The Edge.. 20 continuous CS player in South India.. dude you dont know him?!..and u call urself a college student.."etc etc..he went on like this until i was sure my engineering career was going the wrong way really..

So on the serious side,I have now come to alarmingly realise that CS craze in colleges has gone to unbelievable levels.And when u see that a whole continent could be created with all those wasted man-hours,you will agree with me that the award for the greatest destruction of mankind's resources goes to Sierra,for their masterpiece..

..The greatest game ever..
Half-Life Counterstrike!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Where Creativity Begins...the Toilets..

To the average smartass who wonders why i chose to write about toilets of all the things in the world, let me tell you, these funny-sounding 6-letter words are one of the most common issues in hostel life.Toilet cleanliness is something you dont see in many places around India. But its one of the most favorable living conditions u can ever get- clean toilets. I have known people to choose rooms, hostels and even colleges based only on the toilets they get there.Cleanliness and hygiene is really important in a place where each toilet is used atleast a 100 times a day. In this aspect, it is with some pride (no smiling, guys) that i say at NITC, the toilet culture is pretty much advanced.

Recently, some of my friends had the luck of participating in a cultural festival in a college outside (no name will be mentioned).And guess what struck them most-u guessed i
t-the situation of the toilets there. Really, it struck them so much to the extent that even our newsletter article on the culfest contained more stuff about the t*****ts there. Mention of experiences of using pickle-jars instead of mugs, etc etc..things u just dont want to know if youre eating your lunch.

Amazingly, this turned out to be a hot topic of discussion recently too when top blogger Kiruba Shankar visited our college. Who might have thought engineering students who prefer to talk about girls and movies and games would touch upon issues such as this.That too with so much interest!Thats when it really struck me..People of NITC,u have atleast something to be proud of- your own toilets!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

"Class Committee meeting, February 07", or ,"13 angry faculty and 2 clueless class reps"

"Notice to All Class Reps of S4, S6, S8 EEE and all Faculty
The 2nd class committee for the year 2007 will be held on 31st Jan. Agenda discussed will include
1. Performance of students in the First series Tests
2. Review of Progress of curriculum
3. Marking scheme for current sem
4. Any other issues"

Just for your info, a class committee meeting (CCM) is where the teachers get to screw the entire class for screwing them up in the classrooms. This is unfortunately done by means of 2 scapegoats called class representatives. the lucky ones who get to hear with 4 ears what was in store for an entire class of 67 ppl..

To some, the above notice may seem to be the usual harmless kind of paper document, no big deal.. but let me point out to you that it can serve equally well as a death warrant. Notice the keywords "Performance", "Progress", "Marking", and the most dangerous of all, "Any other issues".

As soon as the unfortunate class reps of S6 EEE (myself and Donna) set eyes on this, we knew it was crunch time. You see, meeting with the faculty is fine.. all nice people, human like you and me and all, but when it comes to the keywords mentioned above even the friendliest of them can turn nasty.
The show started at 3:30 pm on the 31st. I dint exactly improve the situation by walking in 2 minutes late. Walking into a CCM is NOT like walking into a class.. in the latter u have only 1 teacher to deal with , but in the former there are a dozen of them involved. Luckily I only had to put up with a dozen hostile stares (plenty more where that came from)..

The meeting started off with the usual 'Review of Progress' where the teachers list out what chunk of the huge 'syllabus' monster they have covered..A lot of bluffing is involved..But the law of 'Syllabus can never be covered' quickly turns them to the point of extra-classes..

Extra Classes

Many a life of an engineer have been destroyed over that word- so many sleepless afternoons, 1st hours, evenings and even weekends. Having a slot system to decide the time-table in ur college doesnt help, cos the Law of NO FREE SLOTS, which states "Any slot that has been made free in a given amount of time by a given teacher, will be used up in a lesser amount of time by another teacher", or alternatively, "Students are not allowed to have free hours", comes into effect. Free hours are like needles in a haystack. Maybe worse. Finally we conclude the only free slots are ones that dont exist, namely
Saturday : 9 am to 9 pm
Sunday : 9 am to 9 pm
Now, teachers are human and need their 48 hours of sleep too, so everyone quickly decides to change the topic to the next one.

Performance in the tests

This is where revenge for 'no extra classes' comes. As the teachers read out some of the most depressing marks to you (mostly single digits) in all equally depressing subjects, all eyes begin to turn toward you. and tension in the room builds up until the question finally comes at you
"Now, class reps, what is the reason for this bad performance?", which is a very pointless question- it sounds as if the class has somehow conspired (with class reps at the head, ofcourse) to purposely screw up the exams so they may get a backpaper and sit in the same class once more.
It is more suitable to say "How the Hell am I supposed to know" but Donna tactfully says "We dont know sir, maybe the portions are too much". Leave it to a girl to do the lying.

By this time the snacks have arrived (tea and banana fries), its a suitable time to discuss 'Marking scheme', cos teachers know the CRs are paralysed by the food in their mouths. 'Marking scheme' is basically a bargaining game, where CRs try to increase free assignment marks while the teachers do the converse. Quotes of '20-40' and '15-50' are continuosly traded until both parties know they cant go any further.

The last item, 'Any other issues', is where the CRs get to say any other problems they face. They are fully aided by the assuring murderous looks on the faces of 13 teachers staring at you. Saying something like "Yes Sir, we have a problem.." is the stupidest thing to do, cos the firing volley that follows leaves you thinking you dint have to do it in the first place.

Finally, the meeting is over, and you thank God that He has let you survive another Day. Until the next CCM, ofcourse...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Memoirs of a Post-Lunch Session

"Post-lunch class hours are the worst thing on earth.. second only to the first hours.."

So here we were, stuck up in this 2-3 class of Power systems, and everyone was bitching away to hell about classes n college n life etc- the usual bitching topics for an engineer.. Half the class was already asleep.. It was a 2 o clock class so the people started pouring in at around 5 minutes past 2, and the maam, who knew better, entered only at 10 minutes past 2..
Roll Call

The routine attendance call started ("Abraham"-"Present maam"..).A common hobby of the class now is making someone lose his roll call- standard tricks include keeping him busy talking, or keeping his mouth shut by brute force, so that when the maam shouts "No. 42, Rahul M.", Rahul is busy talking balls about the world political scenario or something..It is also possible to tickle a guy close to his roll no. call so that he has no way to say "Yes Maam" without laughing... usual victims of this include myself..

Now finally class was to begin.. overhead projector was switched on.. and 67 brains in the classroom were switched off.. maam put what looked like a 100 slides on the desk and started off with each one of them 1 by 1, clearly hoping to finish all 100 in the next 1 hour.. tsk tsk, poor maam.. The first benchers(who werent already drooling over) opened up their notebooks or pretend notebooks.. Slide after slide came onto the projector.. clearly 8 slides a minute is a fast way to go.. only, it never gave people a chance to even blink..

Half-Life : ChalkStrike

At the back benches, action started off with Britto finding an ammo of chalks and pelting the rest of the class with it.. Looked like a 1st-benchers vs back-benchers chalk fight, but soon it was clear nobody had any idea who they were throwing at..1 bullet aimed at the 1st bench barely missed the maam, but I'm sure she felt the bullet whiz past, cos she turned back at the class n said
"What's going on over there?"

Just an honest question, seriously.. no offense intended, or any punishment waiting at the other end for the honest guy who spoke up.. but all the same the class suddenly looked more interested in their notebooks.. so our all-forgiving teacher turns back to her slides..

At one point, owing undoubtedly to her supersonic speed, the maam tripped over her words,n got caught up in a bunch of weird formulae that not even the damn formula-maker had an idea about..the class had a jolly good laugh, and the maam herself laughed it off, saying
" To err is human, isnt it?"..

I think it was Narendar(the class smartass) who found this a suitable time to wake up n say
"Maam, to forgive is divine too"..
The Final Countdown

As the torturous last 10 minutes neared("I still have 3 lines of syllabus and 24 slides to go"), the class came into full action. At the backbenches, the chalk fight assumed epic proportions, and every now and then somebody would shout "Head shot " and "Fire in the hole" in veteran Counterstrike style..MSN locked in a tickling fight with his partner Abraham.. Some of the bolder first benchers snoring away to glory(Pritam Kumar a typical example).. Suddenly someone realised that time was up and started closing his notebooks and banging on the benches to give the clue, as if the maam dint already know, poor guy..

Soon the whole class soon joined in..It was a full orchestra with instruments ranging from benches to books to shouts of "Pleease Maam, Please Maam".. In the middle of all the din, around 5 min past 3, the moment of liberation came for the teacher, when she successfully pulled out her 100th slide out of the projector.. the class gave all signs of relief, but no more than the teacher herself.. she finally announced

"Okay.. 1 line of the syllabus is over.. now i will complete the next 2 lines of the syllabus at 5 o clock today..see you then.."

And the whole class went back to its moaning and groaning..

DISCLAIMER : No offense intended to the maam who took this class, she is one of the most hard-working teachers we have ever had..

Monday, March 5, 2007

21st Birthday of a lifetime- Beach, Ball and Booze

The day

I suddenly woke up on my 21st birthday,and asked myself "Why dont i feel any different"?.I know,many of u people out there do the same.I did it all the way till my
21st.This time, though, there WAS a difference.

The sleepy morning hours went through the same
waking-late-make-a-run-for-it-to-reach-class-just-in-time-for routine.Classes were the same thing as classes were meant to be- boring.At lunch break i walked to the front of the class to make the announcement

"Okay everyone- birthday treat at corps at 12.30"
That did it.The power of the word
"treat" is something you shouldnt underestimate-it can turn a whole population around-friendships break over this word-people die over this word-so anyways all the guys who were running for their lunch a minute ago remembered they had a reason to be back in class...

The Treat

So there i was, 5 minutes later in the corps, waiting for ppl to show up for my own birthday treat-heck, nothing can be more embarassing.But soon they started arriving in numbers small and large,that i started wishing they wouldnt turn up so much after all.End Result : a bill of Rs 543,plus the broken glass.

There was, ofcourse, the grand
GPL session.. jargon illiterates out there-thats Gaand Pe Laand-its a real 'kick-ass' experience, literally..time for ur ass to get kicked..a time for everyone to take out their frustration on ur posteriors.The cake fight was another important one-the people decided that I needed to improve my complexion,and cake cream would do better over last years gift of 'Fair and Lovely'..

Without much ado,12 of us boarded a jeep and raced away to Kaapad beach.The question of
Who should drive was solved by MSN Vinod taking the wheel,and I still regret that decision in my life.Have you heard the usage 'reached in no time'-I think it must have been the shock that kept us speechless until he jammed on the brakes at Kaapad.Oh, and we stopped over at Kerala Beverages to buy the booze too,which is when I came to know what an amateur I was at alcohol.All the 'decent' guys around me seemed to have a lot of experience-they were like veterans who have drunk bottles after bottles, who knew the fit and feel of every drop they taste,the type who meet once in while and have conversations that go like 'The other day i had to drink up a whole bottle to get drunk..Smirn-Off is'nt so strong u know' and all...

Kaapad beach

Kaapad beach- its one of the most beautiful places I have ever set eyes on, believe me.If you want to chill out, Kaapad beach is the right place to be.But NOT when the sun is shining hard right through the thick of your bones at 1 pm in the afternoon.Well we had to learn this the hard way.So after a failed attempt at beach football,we decided the water was a better idea...

The Sunset

After all the beach volleyball and water somersaulting(and yes,a bit of bathing),we got out of the water, and watched the sunset at Kaapad. Its one of those sceneries in life that make you wonder about life, the universe and everything. The sort of thing that makes us silent all by itself, and keeps us thinking about everything from nature and beauty to tomorrows Control Systems assignment.Something I'll never forget.

Time for the return journey. Dinner was large-1 hour of pure age-old animal instincts taking over any remaining bit of culture in us-complete with burps and all the works. Then we went to the Calicut beach to chill off,and ofcourse,digest off all that food.After a good 1 hour of digestion and discussions,we returned back to the hostels to start of the Booze Show..

The Booze
(Warning : I am not responsible for any shit i fall into due to this )

Room 340 was where I finally lost my alcohol-virginity.Though I was shit-scared about being in control and not throwing up all over he place,it wasnt so bad.To be frank the alcohol tasted bad-the pickles felt much better (yeah,we had the appetizers on too).But the high part of the getting drunk was truly rewarding.The sensation of losing balance was pretty new to me except maybe that one time I sat through a one hour session of Power Electronics.One of us suggested taking the 'Sobriety test' of balance.So we must have looked like a weird bunch,walking up and down the coridoor
'testing our balance',and blabbering all sorts of nonsense.One of us (name withheld on request)suddently broke into a frenzy of dancing and shouting,and then i realised I was actually one of the people in control.Or was I?.Except for the constant talking and imbalance,I dint show much problems(okay,maybe thats not so normal after all).We decided the night air would be useful, so we drove us for a night drive to a nearby place (Luckily one of us wasnt drunk and could still drive).Finally we returned later at around 3 to our hostels.

So there goes the story of how i joined the
'have tried alcohol' club.Currenly i am also part of the 'have tried alcohol but will not drink again club'. Ya Right...