Protest at PESIT – an account

Today, I witnessed something that was shocking, surprising, ruthless, emotional – all at once in college. A second year EC student committed suicide in his hostel room by hanging himself and without leaving behind a note. I got the news at around 9am while looking out of the classroom window where a huge crowd had gathered outside the boys hostel which is right next to our building. The classes still continued, with many rumors floating around. We had lab internals at 10am which was disrupted when a teacher walked in to announce that the day was called off due to the sad demise of this student. We were asked to leave the campus immediately. As I waked towards the main gate with my friend and the rest of the college crowd, we realized that the gates were locked and saw a big group of students shouting / protesting against the institute management (especially against the hostel warden). We didn’t know the real story yet and watched a bigger crowd gather near the main building and gates. Press and media had already arrived at the scene – students didn’t allow them inside the campus so they climbed the magnum gate and took videos. Cops came soon in jeeps and vans. Students continued to shout slogans against the hostel warden and the principal. I couldn’t fathom what the actual cause of the protest was – as some people shouted against the college rules while some were against the hostel warden. There were many mixed up issues about the whole situation. By this time, the crowed moved towards the main building along with the director as he struggled to walk through the crowd with the police without being pushed or pulled. Some unruly students then threw stones at the glass building and broke principal’s office. They were immediately made to stop acting this way by other students who went and calmed them down.

We moved towards the cricket field (due to larger area that could occupy everyone) to discuss the issue with the management. Agitated students gathered at the field to listen to what the director had to say. In between shouting and all the chaos – I gathered that an unofficial student union was being formed to discuss the issue with them – as 500 people can’t do it all together. A couple of students who had spoken aloud before – formed a group and would represent the student body. To calm us all down, the DCP took in charge and spoke up loudly. We obliged to her and sat on the field. First – the cops and media were asked to leave as it was now more of a student vs management issue. We told our problems to the reps. Some of which were:

  • 5 marks for attendance to be removed.
  • We should have 3 internals (best of 3) instead of the currently existing compulsory 2 internals. Follow the VTU system.
  • The minimum marks for semester end exam writing eligibility criteria makes no sense in the GPA system. It was asked to be removed.
  • Councilors and doctors to be in the college premises on most days. We have no medical center as well.
  • Support extra curricular activities. Not treat students as prisoners.

While these were some academic demands, there were many demands for the victim’s family as well – college should compensate for travel of his parents, cremation. Warden’s apology for his mishandling of the situation and letting in media barge to film the student – while he was still hanging from the ceiling. Apology for the late arrival of the ambulance which arrived 3 hours late. The principal also clarified that he had not given any statement to the media yet, and everything that was telecasted was based on assumptions.

The director listened to every point and agreed on most changes. (Some illogical demands came up too – which I have not mentioned and don’t think are necessary). I think the principal and the director handled the situation well, and took a stride to support the students. By this time, both the management and students were on terms. The student union announced a candlelight march in the memory of the victim. It was extremely intriguing to see such a huge crowd turn up for it in the evening (more than the number of people who were protesting). We lit candles – the teachers and the principal guided us through the campus starting from the boys hostel. It is the largest crowd I’ve seen in my campus – more than during the cultural fest times. It was something that I’d never though I’d witness in (my) college. It was an emotional and a proud moment.

My take – since the boy left no note, the blame game has started. Yes, the pressure is unbearable sometimes. Too many tests, reports, assignment submission along with project work takes a toll on us. But is suicide the last option? Certainly not. Many have survived this system (and even tougher ones) and passed through it successfully – with happy and depressing memories. Some rules can be removed or tweaked, but this kind of situation should never be taken advantage of. Some students protested today without sticking on to the actual cause and drifted towards irrelevant and illogical demands. Yes, this is probably  a good opportunity to make the management listen to us and bring reforms, but not at the cost of unruly behavior and breaking college property. But in the end, I think the students showed some great character by listening to the authorities and calming down. When this happened, the whole atmosphere changed and provided an opportunity to carry out talks and stop the chaos. One thing that sickened me was watching the video of the boy hanging being shown on television channels and media coming up with random cooked up reasons to justify it. Read more about how the media reported the issue here.

Amongst all this, we are just lost in between deciding what is right and what is wrong.

Thank You, Steve.

I was woken up at 6 am today morning by a phone call from my sister. “Steve Jobs died!” came the voice from the other end.

Saying something profound seems silly now, after the insane number of tweets and status updates overflowing on the web. I have been an apple / Steve Jobs fan only from a few recent years unlike other geeks out there. But that’s the beauty of it all – you don’t have to be a computer science geek or a technology freak to appreciate and like apple. Steve Jobs made me realize that good simple technology is for everyone. I don’t have to belong to a clichéd tech community to talk about it and that feels good. I remember my first iPod – a silver shiny nano which I got at 10’th grade. What a minimal user interface and yet so powerful! Another memorable incident was my sister teaching my dad how to use an iPhone. “Just touch whatever you want to see, it opens”. Needless to say that he spent the whole day fiddling with it. My parents can now video chat with her and relatives just by clicking on the FaceTime button on the screen. No more wires to fix and control panels to open to figure out how to enable the microphone, webcam and headphones. How can technology be made so simple? Thanks to him, undergrad students now talk about entrepreneurship and new ideas. I’d been silently dreaming about a MacBook pro from a long time. Finally, when it was time to buy it, my BIL asked me why I’d decided to go for an apple product and not any other laptop. I would get a better laptop for high configurations at the same price. I might have seemed like being a trend follower at that time, but I’ve grown into it since then. You have got to use it to truly appreciate it’s effects on you.

It is extraordinary how so many people are thinking and talking about one man at this moment. It is great to sit and read all about it. Finally, thank you Steve, for that Stanford commencement speech.

Facebook: Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Let’s face it: Facebook is a drug. Once you’re hooked, it’s hard to leave. But recently, it’s become a huge mess with N customizations and features. I’d give up Facebook gladly if I could. Really. When a friend recently announced that he’d completely deleted his account, I was the only one who envied him with all my heart. Oh, what a free life he would lead! No more updates, e-mails, stupid tags and obligatory friendships! The only reason why I am still sticking on is for the 2 pages that I run. One, the PESIT Photography Club page (I don’t really “run” it anymore as the other members have taken over it – for which I am very glad and thankful for, but I’m curious to see what’s happening, etc) and the other of course- the START magazine page. It is important to have a regular audience for any initiative to be recognized. It would be very difficult to spread word about every new issue and updates without it.

Facebook (or any other social networking website for that matter) can be used wisely if you know how to take advantage of it and not get sucked into it’s mesmerizing stalky behavior. The best thing I did was to disable my wall and tagged photos. I also disabled anyone from tagging me in images and posts. This reduced the number of spam e-mails and kept my personal life intact to an extent. Now, I get to share whatever I want with only a certain set of people. It has also been much of a pain with plagiarism and other issues. I’ve had some person use my photo as her profile pic (O__o) and she simply refused to take it down. Reporting the profile/photo didn’t help either.

In today’s times, I feel it is important to get your work recognized among your peers and seniors. How else would anyone select you to take photographs for their cultural event? Or, how else would anyone get to know that you won the first place in debate and invite you to their marketing team? How else would anyone offer to collaborate with you in their future project? It is also one of the easiest (and free) medium to communicate with people – all at once. I could easily get in touch with folks working on a project similar to mine and interact with them through messages. It is necessary to know where to draw the line though, and to realize that it is what you make of it instead of what you give to it. So yeah. I could go on and on but you get the point.

P.S. – I participated in a debate regarding Facebook last semester in college- most of the points here are taken from it. This was written randomly after I saw the f8 conference. It would be interesting to see how the world evolves with Facebook. And people’s reactions are always priceless! I’d like to be the silent watcher of the future events. 

18’th generation teaching style in 2011.

These days, I’m either really frustrated or really depressed. Sometimes I’m both. Everything seems to be speeding up and somewhere along the line, I stop and wonder about how the hell I ended up here or what the hell am I doing?

When 3rd semester began, a lot of us (or a few of us) were very keen on getting into the core course and study ‘biotechnology’ as a field. I am currently in my 4’th semester and I am still wondering if that has happened so far? We have a lot of mechanical subjects added to the course. I am not complaining, but nobody around me (including the teachers) seem to be able to answer my questions any more. Their knowledge is so theoretical and limited to the books. It frustrates me. The whole system is ancient. There is nothing related to application. We do have practicals, yes, but they seem to have no connection with the theory that we’re studying simultaneously in class. Estimating the amount of protein and inorganic phosphorous in the body fluids is fun, yes, but why isn’t it being connected to any of the theory subjects? Bio-energetics has 20 to 30 cycles that has to be studied. And 20 to 30 substrates and enzymes. Learning about them all is at times interesting, yes, but how are we expected to remember them all during the tests and exams? Teachers need to teach us about such skills rather than plain blunt textbook stuff. Even I can mug up the whole of Lehninger’s book and blurt it out in class. Or, make power point presentations (with pages and pages of text – in comic sans) and ‘present’ it to class. Teachers have to help students in understanding the concept and at the same time, help us with the learning techniques.

This not only makes the subject more interesting, but also increases the confidence levels of students. By doing that, maybe we’d want to explore more of the subject/ topic and get involved in it. Molecular biology – one of the most interesting subjects (where we learn about the central dogma of life) is being made so mundane and boring. This is the kind of subject that’d need more of videos and visuals. Not badly drawn 2-D figures of 5/6 enzymes and their functions.

The problem is, these old fashioned teachers don’t want to change. They are not even ready to accept a new idea. We had a lot of discussion about this during the faculty advisors meeting. The teachers only defend themselves and their methods, but nobody wants to bring something new to the new generation of students. How will they understand that the kind of teaching that they had during their times just won’t work now? We do not want to come to college every morning, takes pages and pages of notes, do something in lab that we cannot connect to the real world or even state it’s applications, take more notes, and go home? The system is only bothered about finishing the syllabus on time (before tests and exams) whether we learn anything or not. Nobody is in a position to justify anything.

If you are still a student, are you just going with the flow, or are you trying to change anything? If you were a student, what did you do?! How important are teachers in your learning process?

Smoke.

Till a few months back, I believed that everyone who smoked was a bad person. Somewhere at the subconscious level, when I learn that a person is a smoker, everything associated with sadness and evil gets registered in my mind. In reality, I know that it isn’t true. Smoking is a personal choice. People do it for all different reasons, some happy and some sad. It’s definitely not a sin.

Last year, I got to know that one of my good friends in the group smokes. After a few days, I learnt that a few others in the group also smoke. I mean, our group in college consists of 8/9 folks out of which ~4 of them fag. How come I have never done anything about it? What am i supposed to do? I go around being a good girl, doing the right things, etc and can’t even change the mindset of my own good friends!

But should I tell them what’s wrong and what’s right? They already know it! They are engineering students for heaven’s sake. Students with a lot of problems. Smoking is just their way of releasing stress and calming themselves. So it really isn’t a bad thing, is it? They know that it hurts their lungs every time. A kind of hurt that has no pain. It’s their life, they can do whatever the hell they want to. To be judging them based on this fact would not be fair. I stood for euthanasia once upon a time (and still do). What’s the difference, really?

“We can’t all be photographers, musicians and graphic designers when we grow up.”

I read a lot. Some people have lots to say.  Some say little bits in short beautiful sentences. Everyone wants to express. Nobody really cares how their opinion may affect or influence others. I think its a wonderful thing. I like all the openness and freedom.

I stumbled across a tumblr of a 17 year old American guy and this is what he had to say:

“We can’t all be photographers, musicians and graphic designers when we grow up.”

It obviously goes out to the western generation [I really don’t see many young Indian folks doing the same thing as them, but that just may be me]. My friends are busy learning physical theories and mechanical operations. That is a completely different story to get into. However, I want to address the statement made above for the lesser few of us who are into photography, music, designing, etc alongwith being caught up in the science web.

Dear fellow teen soul [above], when I first read your statement, it radiated negativity from all directions. It seems like an unpleasant thing to say to the hundreds of other aspiring young photographers, musicians and designers who are a little bit behind.  Your view is based on ignorant generalization that everyone doing it aims to make it their career in the future.

Yes, many people may do it because it is a huge ~trend~ right now. We do it not because we aim to earn our living by clicking pictures or producing tunes. We do it because that is our way of expressing ourselves. We don’t really care if you like it or not. We don’t care if nobody is ever going to like it. All we care for is having to let our emotions flow out through this medium. It is our way of a creative let out. Some people want to pursue a creative profession because its their passion. That doesn’t mean the ones doing it as a hobby are not passionate about it. People will always underestimate the importance of art as a professional field, may it be in any form. It is entirely an individual’s choice to become whoever the fuck they want to. Or at least aspire to.

thinking

I just answered many research questionnaire’s about my self and my behaviour given to me by a a researcher from psychology department, who is doing her PhD on the topic “Blogging Improves Self-Identity”.

At first, I was really amazed at this whole idea. But come to think of it, it all really makes sense now. I was required to answer all weird questions, everything soo random. It somewhat got me thinking about myself in a way. For instance, there were questions based on my religious believes, my future plans, my role in the family, etc. I have never actually though tof these things in detail. I just know that I’m a daughter/sister/student/friend/blogger/dreamer/photographer/stupid girl. But never thought of the roles that I am and that I’ll beplaying in my future. As of now, I just know that I have a 4 day holiday and that I need to be preparing for the upcoming tests. Long term planning scares me.

I have never really talked about my Religious Believes or about my Political Principles and Ideals in public, with other people. These are the things that I am still learning and experiencing and so would always keep them personal. My Ideals is for ‘Me’ only and no body else could force such things on Me. I think it is the same with you all.

To plan or not to plan?

I asked this question on twitter and was surprised to get so many replies.

#Q – Is it better to plan your future or just let things “happen” and stay happy?

@dineshbabu – Your future already gets planned by what you do today, so just focus on what you are doing today.

@aarthycrazy – It not a Q of whats better. Its more a Q of who you are? I myself love life as it happens. It always thinks of sumthing to surprise U =)

@airr – I used to plan and even have backup plans …. now I have given up on planning.

@sneezymelon – The latter. Anyday.

@funthusia – Well that’s like sayng whether it’s better to know ur husband before marriage or (marry anyone) & just let things ‘happen’ & stayhappy.

@primaveron – I guess it’s good to plan ur future, but sometimes plans may change, and you shud be okay with it =)

@parambir – After 6 months of effort in planning my life, I found that my earlier approach of letting things happen was a better one!

this and that.

I *hate* expectations. And presumptions.

“You studied in the central board. Its easy for you.”

“You did well in XYZ. I know you will do well in ABC also.”

“You should have taken up biology more seriously. It was easy.”

“You studied in PQR school!! You CAN be confident.”

“Your cousin got a decent rank. So can you.”

“..Then how come he did well?”

Why can’t people just let us be? I mean, how does it matter ultimately? It only lowers the self esteem. It is more saddening to see theirexpectations crash.

30 years from now

Someone said :

“30 years from now it won’t matter what shoes you wore, how your hair looked or what jeans you bought; what will matter is what you learned and how you used it.”

I say :

Dear dude sir,

I believe in living in the present. If wearing cool shoes, having good hair can make me happy today, then theres nothing like it !

What is the guarantee that we are even going to be alive after 30 years from now ? You’ve heard of things like Global Warming, Earthquakes and Tsunamis right ?

~ Live Like Theres No Tomorrow ~

Even if we make it through the future, I don’t want to remember myself as an aloof, raged up, anti-social teenage nerd with no friends at all.

In the future, whatever may happen, I will know it was due to the decisions that I took, so I’ll be happy. ( Please note : This sentence is plagiarised from Jab We Met. I completely stand by it even though things dont turn out that way in the movie. )

Today, I learnt that a carbonyl compund having an alpha hydroden atom can undergo aldol condensation to give an aplha-beta unsaturated carbonyl compound.

Heck, it’s soo going to help me after 30 years !

( P.S. – I Love Organic Chemistry !! :D I know this is opposite to the topic, but who cares ? I love Aldol Condensation too !! )

Change

Mom says : When we change, we grow.

Sis says : Face your worst fears one on one. Don’t run away from it. The key to change … is to let go of fear.

Friend says : If certain things change, they change for the good.

The school board says : Big things happen when you do little things right.

Mr. monk says : Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.

I just hope everything goes right this year. Wish me Luck.