Category Archives: Education

Improbable things

I couldn’t sleep last night and my mind kept drifting between various improbable things that have happened in my life over the years.

Cardano, making the improbable, improbable
Cardano, making the improbable, improbable

Things that shouldn’t have happened (because, probability), but did. Some examples of these improbable things are:

  1. Once, when I was very young, I hadn’t completed my homework. While going to sleep, I kept wishing for fever or some other illness to befall me, so that I don’t have to go to school the next day. Sure enough, next day, I had fever in the morning and didn’t have to go to school, possibly avoiding a solid beating.
  2. The time I was returning home (in Nagpur) while drunk, riding my bike. I couldn’t spot the high tension electricity cable hanging in the middle of the road and my bike (along with me) was lifted 10 feet into the air. I fell on the road and my bike fell on top of me, all while electric sparks were shooting from the pole, the cable and my bike. That scene immediately sobered up my friends and me and we are all still in awe how I survived that incident.
  3. The time when I passed my engineering final exams because of a fluke. I have already blogged about it once, so won’t add details here.
  4. The time when I was hired at Aricent (now Altran). I lived at Kolkata with my parents. Aricent was holding a hiring drive in Kolkata and I went there just because I had nothing else to do. Somehow, I was selected in the interview and hired a few weeks later. The fact that
    • Aricent staff came to Kolkata for the hiring drive (Never happened before, never happened again)
    • I turned up and was selected
    • Got the right job (at that point of my career)
    • At the right location (I was already aspiring to move to Gurgaon) still boggles my mind.
  5. When I stayed at Kolkata, I used to watch a TV show called “Indian Rendezvous”. There was a part in the episode about Delhi which shows a balloon competition with a balloon sponsored by BT and I dreamed of moving to Delhi one day and working for BT. Years later, this would come true.
  6. How I was lucky enough to have the perfect child exactly like the one I wanted (I might be biased for this one).
  7. I had a friend “J” in college who introduced me to the song “Father & Son” by Cat Stevens. We used to listen to this song at his room very often. Years later, I was listening to this song on my own, when “J” called me and told me his father has died earlier that day.

Makes you wonder how probability isn’t always perfect and such things slip through its laws from time to time.

Recurring Nightmare

I have been having this one recurring nightmare for years. There are different variations, but the basic theme is the same.

Theme – I have not managed to graduate from college, because I haven’t passed anywhere between 6-14 exams after my last semester. Now, I am at a stage that I have to clear all my remaining subjects in the next exams, or I have to do my graduation all over again. Also, I lose my job if I don’t produce a valid degree.

Variations – In some of these nightmares, I am determined to study hard and pass this time around, but when I open my books, all the pages are blank, so I cannot study. In some variations, I do manage to study, but end up sleeping through the exam day, waking up in panic in the evening. In some cases, I am not even aware of the exams till the last moment and I end up rushing to the exam centre with no preparations.

In real life, I did manage to graduate almost 14 years ago, but by the skin of my teeth. I passed some subjects (EMF) by some fluke (I studied only a few topics and those are the ones which appeared on the exam) or after multiple attempts (Mathematics-1 took 5 attempts).

However, when I I truly lucked out was during the 8th semester exams. I had appeared for both 7th (failed subjects) and 8th semester exams during my last attempt and had only attempted the bare minimum questions in some of them. I was more surprised than relieved when the results were announced and I realised I had passed in all of these exams and graduated successfully. Later, when the mark sheets were released, I realised it was another fluke.

Nightmare
Fluke!

You see, I had actually failed in Subject 5 above, but, our university had a provision of grace marks. However, the rules were very specific and I had never received grace marks ever, before this. Some rules

  • You would get up to a total of 10 grace marks per semester only.
  • You would only get grace marks if it enables you to pass in all subjects in that semester
  • You would get grace marks only in certain specific denominations
    • Exactly 10 marks in one subject (I would get grace marks only if I score exactly 30 in that subject. 31 would also not do)
    • Exactly 5 marks each in 2 subjects (Need to score exactly 35 in 2 subjects)
    • Exactly 2 marks in 1 subject (which is what I got)

Even though I failed in Subject 5, I was awarded 2 grace marks and I passed that subject and graduated. If I had 1 mark more or less in that subject, I wouldn’t have graduated when I did. Maybe the fact that I graduated because of such a fluke is what triggers these nightmares. Strangely, when I wake up and realise it was all a nightmare, it still doesn’t make me feel better. What a nightmare!

The kicker? The subject that I couldn’t even get passing marks in was related to Computer Networking and I am now a network engineer.

My Worst Purchases-Honda Activa

So, I was “studying” in my first year of engineering (around the year 2002) in Nagpur and living with 2 of my seniors in a rented apartment. For those not familiar with Nagpur, public transportation was almost non-existent at that time and 95% of the people rode 2-wheelers (Motorcycles, Scooters & Mopeds), remaining 5% had cars.

I had nothing of my own and soon started to feel the heat of wanting to go everywhere but not being able to go anywhere.

I wanted to buy a bike, but the aforementioned jealous roommates didn’t want me to have one, so brainwashed my father into buying me a Honda Activa. I was desperate for anything, so didn’t argue much and greedily accepted it.

The Activa is by no means a bad scooter and it is quite handy for middle age men/women looking for a quick trip to the nearby stores or for kids who are just learning to ride. For a college freshman however, it was the social equivalent of walking around college with “dork” written on the back of his head in Bold letters.

As if the social ridicule wasn’t enough, the scooter was also not suited for a hormone ridden teenager riding around town “trying” to show off and competing with motorcycles. Inherently unstable, it caused me to have numerous accidents within the first few months itself.

Eventually, it was either continuing to ride the monstrosity or drop out of college, so I chose the former and sold it before it had completed one year.

It took 2/3 years, the manliest bike available in India at that time and a year away from college for people to forget I had one.

Nerd of the decade – Part II

I wrote this article about a freak called Subhankar Mohapatra almost 12 years ago. Since then I haven’t come across anyone matching his level of loser-ness, till today.

Meet Ankur Garg, another freak of nature who managed to score 171/170 in his Macroeconomy exam at Harvard.

One look at his Resume and you know that his whole educational career has been an aimless pursuit to prove only one thing- that he is good at studies and exams.

Garg, who is 36 (but looks 63) first wasted public money studying at IIT. Then he made a complete U-Turn in his career by appearing for the civil services exam and being the youngest (22 year old) to do so (I believe he looked at least 40 then).

The freak writes

“In the last phase (possibly!) of student life now, I end up getting this score (171 out of 170) in the final exam of the macroeconomics course.”

Sure, at 36, he is just finishing the last phase of his student life. At this rate he might even start working and contributing to society in the next 20 years.

If one wonders what happened to this freak during his childhood that led him to be like this, they only have to read this quote from the article

“When I was in school, my father used to say – 10 out of 10 isn’t good enough in any exam. Always strive for 11 out of 10″

With a father like this, I think it is safe to say that the fault is not his own but of his abusive upbringing.

Also, in this article, there’s no mention of his contributions to society or any achievements other than clearing exams.

The overall beneficiaries of all the hard work this person put in his life would be the politicians, whose boots he can (hopefully) lick with more vigour now.

The Pathetic State of Education in India

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Courtesy: http://asiancorrespondent.com

Growing up, I have witnessed a few things which have made me question the quality of education in this country; especially Primary and Secondary education.

In short, schools in India generally suck. They are more profit-making machines rather than a place to impart quality education to students. Moreover, the quality of teachers, especially in the Primary and Secondary education scene is very low.

I have studied in almost 9 schools from Class I to Class XII. I can say without doubt that most teachers did not teach for the joy of teaching, but rather to earn money. There’s no harm in that, apart from the fact that they are still expected to be good at their jobs; which mostly they are not.

One subject which I have seen teachers mostly suck at, is English. Apart from 2 teachers in my entire school life, none of the English teachers I have come across were good at their jobs. I have found myself arguing with my English teachers many times when I have felt that what they were saying is wrong. After a while, I realized that arguing is no use, as the teachers here, far from being open minded and appreciating feedback actually had huge egoes, which I hurt when I corrected them.

Unlike subjects like Science and Maths, if you learn languages incorrectly at a young age, you are unlikely to improve later on; you’ll be stuck with it for life. If there’s one teacher who doesn’t know proper English teaching a class of 50, he/she will produce 50 people who don’t know proper English later on in life.

This problem is not isolated to English/Hindi and other language subjects. Most teachers don’t know what they are doing and write things on the blackboard directly from the textbook or old notes and expect their students not to question what they are writing.

Also, I have recently seen students being told to take off their shoes outside the computer room, as their shoes might have “viruses” which would infect the computers. Also, a textbook as recent as 2010 still listed Pluto as a planet.

Why is the state of Education here so bad, when considering that the schooling here is much more expensive than the developed countries? The answer is “Jugaad”.

Indians have a long standing habit of relying on “Jugaad”, which is simply a way to get something done using means other than those which are proper. Mostly this would involve a monetary transaction, or pulling strings with someone high up in the system.

I have seen people I know graduate from full time B.Ed courses without attending a single class. These same people get jobs at nice schools using the same “Jugaad” technique; when it is clear that no self-respecting interviewer would have even interviewed them for more than 5 minutes. Also, these people don’t know basic English.

All this is very frustrating and makes me very angry; especially because I don’t know what I can do about it.

Murder of English

These days, especially in North India (no offense meant), people have a tendency to abuse and murder English. Reading facebook posts always puts me in throes of revulsion. Also, I am not even talking about accent (which is pardonable) or pronunciation yet. These are purely grammar and punctuation errors. This is surprising because English is one of the easiest languages to learn and with the simplest grammatical rules.
It’s more infuriating because most people these days consider it fashionable to use English for conversation within their family, instead of their native language.
I know that English is not our “National” language, but is still very important in today’s age, considering that almost everyone works for a foreign company. If you don’t like English, at least make an effort to correct yourself, failing which just write in any other language.
Following are the predominant mistakes made by people these days. I have included some examples from Facebook.
1. People are misers when it comes to using uppercase at proper places. People don’t start their sentences with capitals. Even worse is when they don’t write their names starting with Capitals. If you can’t write your name properly, you can’t write anything else.

2. When it comes to punctuation marks, the same people are very generous and use them liberally. It is very common to see sentences ending with multiple full stops (I am so sad……) or multiple exclamations (I am so happy!!!!!) or the combination of different punctuation marks (I am so drunk!!! Hell yeah [email protected][email protected]@). People also use incorrect punctuation, as seen in the example above. Here’s another example

This is very surprising, considering that this guy had an affair with our office English coach. I guess they didn’t talk much.
Although, there are some people who don’t use punctuation much and merge several sentences into one.

3. People also make a lot of spelling mistakes, even for simple words. It’s like they don’t even make an effort.

4. People use incorrect grammar. This is the most common and widespread problem among people today.  Its as if they were all sleeping in class for years when the English teacher was working hard to teach us, or that they didn’t want to learn at all. Sometimes the sentences don’t make any sense at all. This is the worst example of English I could find, with examples of all of the above. I didn’t even erase the name

I attribute this degradation due to the following factors

  1. People don’t consider learning English an important thing to do. They somehow pass the exams and then forget about it during higher studies.
  2. Most English teachers in this country are English-illiterate themselves. I was lucky enough to have come across very good English teachers for most of my education timeframe.
  3. People don’t read/write much. Most people in North India (no offense meant) act surprised to know that people actually pay to read novels. One of the most common sentences I hear is “Padhai ki kitaabe kam hai jo aur kitabe khareed li?” (“Don’t we have enough study books that you got some more?”)
  4. The “hip-hop” culture has caused the worst damage to people. It teaches people to deliberately mis-spell and mis-pronounce words. Apparently emulating how black Americans speak (no offence to the black)  is considered cool.
  5. People also suffer from the lack of will to take criticism constructively. Such “correctors” are scoffed at and termed “Angrez” (“Englishman”).

Nerd of the Year!!

And the nerd of the year award goes to: Subhankar Mohapatra from Orissa.
His achievements : 98.6% in Class 10 CBSE exams.
Really, I don’t envy him. In fact I pity him. Just imagine how sad the life of this perverted twitch would be like. It’s not that he is an intelligent guy. The sicko studies for 12 hours a day throughout a year as he says in a statement in the newspaper: ” I study for 12 hours daily. Hasty pre-examination preparations don’t help much. Hence, I study in the same breadth throughout the year” the twerp says. Now let’s try to recreate the average day of this bstard.

  1. Study : 12 hours
  2. Schoo l : 6 hours
  3. Eating : 1 hour
  4. Bathing, oiling his hair and cleaning his glasses: 1/2 hour

That makes a total of 19 1/2 hours. That leaves 4 and a half hours for sleep.


WHAT IS THE FUCKING IDIOT TRYING TO PROVE??????
What’s he gonna get by making his own life hell?? Ruining the best years of his life poring over textbooks?? Its not that people who get good marks in Class 10 fare well later in life. Higher technical education changes everyone. Bookworms can’t clear job interviews.
I just wish these nerd bastard drop dead and go to hell. The only positive thing they do is making others like me realize how many times better our life is than his..
Song of the day:- How do I live without you- LeAnn Rimes(Con Air Soundtrack)

What I have been doing..

Had my sessional examinations whole week. Got free yesterday with high hopes of watching movies to find my motherboard dead. It won’t power ON at all and changing the SMPS didnt help at all. Since most of my next month’s allowance will be gone in paying debts, I don’t think I can get a new one till after my exams. So I am back at reliace shitworld(A cyber cafe with good internet speed and locals playing counter strike and shouting obscenities..) Also, all my hopes of boozing after the exams are crushed as I don’t have any cash left 🙁 and ain’t expecting any till 3rd or 4th. Also, spent up all the fuel in my bike in a drag race with Neeraj. So, now I am just gonna buy some magazines in the next few days and spend time at home reading them. Maybe will also take up membership of a Library to read some novels. Anyways, will blog soon as soon as I fond something to blog about..