Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Reciprocity Theorem

Please dont be carried away by the name of the theorem and mistake that I am referring to a theorem in that dreaded circuits paper. Rather the topic I m referring to is supposed to be more deadly:philosophy. I think after writing a few excerpts from my life, I should write something philosophical, atleast for a change.

The name of the theorem can be changed if you can come up with a better name that does justice to what i mean. So the theorem goes like this:

“If you develop a perception about a person, that person is also most likely to develop a similar perception about you, even if you try to behave in an exactly opposite way”

This has its own exceptions and the theorem doesnt mean that if u feel Tom Cruise is cool, he is going to feel the same about you. It is to be applied between two persons who know each other and exchange words or atleast looks once in a while. The possible explanation for this is as follows.

Suppose you develop a perception about a person(like he s good, that man sucks, i hate his attitude etc), how ever hard you may try to hide this from the person(if its related to the first example i have given, it wont be the case because you wont mind the other person knowing that you think high of him, even you may want exactly that to happen), you wont be able to do it with 100% perfection. It can be your words, or your actions or even the way you look at him/her that give you away. In short, how hard you may try to hide your feelings and behave normal, you wont be able to do that unless of course you are a born crook. This causes the other person to develop a similar perception about you.

I formulated this theorem back in +2 not just from my own experiences as one of the two persons mentioned but also as a third person, with the above mentioned two people opening his/her mind about the other person to me. But there is one incident in my life that I think is a strong proof of my theorem.

I met Abraham for the first time in my entrance classes. My first impression about him was that he was one big fool.I was even surprised to find him in the top batch of the centre. A few months later, after i befriended him, he tells me “Gokul, you know what, initially i thought that you are one big fool”. This episode takes particular meaning when read with the fact that we two were the ones who eventually topped the class in entrance with one getting 29 and the other 60 in Kerala entrance.

Burning a chemistry lab with 25 paise

The chemistry lab was quite big. You would need at least a liter of petrol to smoke it up completely. But i manage to do it with a 25 paise coin and a few table spoons on nitric acid. I think its of common knowledge that nitric acid is used 4 cleaning as it is a corrosive but i was about to learn another interesting thing about it that fine day. It was our weekly chemistry lab and we were as usual jobless. I was walking around talking to everyone. Then some friends of mine(we call ourselves GRADHS) had this idea of putting a coin in nitric acid. They tried with dilute nitric acid and nothing happened. I was blissfully ignorant of this happening and was walking around. Then aravind called me asking for my expert opinion on the matter. In my usual self-possesed tone, i say

“guys what are you doing with dilute nitric acid. Lets do it with concentrated one”

Saying this i filled a bowl with nitric acid and put the 25 paise coin in it. It started quite well. There were a few crackles and bubbles coming out. Things started smelling fishy when white smoke started coming out of it. I failed to notice the fact that my friends were gradually moving away from the ‘crime scene’ as the intensity of the smoke started increasing. And by the time the smoke took a multi coloured texture i was the only one standing near it, hopelessly trying to keep it down by waving my hands while the whole class and thus obviously the teacher was looking at me.

I had my own custom made excuses for any situation that may arise. But because this was a new situation, never anticipated before and because i was caught red handed, i had perfectly nothing to say as i was led to the principal’s room other than my usual loong smile……

On Bush’s recent comments on global food crisis

When i write about the recent comments made by the U.S President blaming the emerging middle class of India and China for the global food and oil crisis, i expect an open debate on it and anyone who who goes through this article please be kind enough to post your comments and views.

The Govt. of India has countered the argument of the U.S President by quoting statistics which shows the average consumption of U.S five times that of India and restarting the debate pitting ‘food for fuel’ against ‘food for hunger’. But what i feel is than rather than giving a foreign country reasons why we are consuming so much, we should have officially condemned the statement as utterly unwarranted and arrogant. He blamed the increased food consumption of the ever increasing middle class as the reason of the crisis. But is it not the right of any nation to ever consistently strive for the improvement of the living conditions of its people? It is our rightful right to improve our living standards to levels comparable to the best in the world. This right applies to any nation just as the right to good living applies to any citizen of a free nation. In such a case even if its the increased consumption that has created the crisis the reason for the crisis is not the fact that we are consuming more but that we never anticipated the increase in consumption and prepared. Failure to appreciate this fundamental right and appreciate the ambition of every nation to create world class living conditions for its people is a reminder of the mindset of the colonial era tyrants and should not be tolerated. So in such a context i consider such a statement by a world leader, that too by the President of the most powerful country in the world highly unwanted and out of place. Adding fuel to fire, he has gone a step further by putting the blame of spiraling oil prices also on the same middle class. With an average consumption that is greater than all the major nations together and a war in its back which took the prices from 30$ a barrel to 120$ a barrel, i think even a layman can figure out who can be held responsible for that crisis.

With popularity ratings at an all time law, the war on terror reaching no where, impending elections, the Iraq quagmire and an economy in recession, I think that its high time that Mr.President took a vacation in Camp David to regain his cool.

6.01.1988 or 6.10.1988 my tryst with the Road Transport Office

Even before i made my maiden visit to this infamous govt.department, i had heard enough of the inefficiency of the Kerala Road Transport Office. But what was in store for me when i went for my drivers license is the grim reminder of the pitiable state of affairs still persistent in our govt. offices. It was a joyous moment for me, after almost four years of two wheeler usage always fearing of police checking round the corner (although i was caught only once that is another epic by itself) i was going to get driver’s dicense and i could finally take my bike out without fearing the cops.

It was all usual till the day of the test. Having easily cleared my learners, i had my test one month after that. Me and my fellow test takers were there at 7.30 in the morning waiting for the master of the show, the Licensing Officer (our antagonist, we shall call him Mr.X for convenience). Quite usual for a govt officer he comes one hour late smoking his old maruthi. The traversing of the ‘8’ was a walk in the park as the vehicle (which belonged to the driving school through which i was applying) was custom made to take any novice through the designated track. Still many managed to screw that round (God bless them and the people on the road when they finally make it to the road with a license). The next and the final round was the road test in which you are supposed to take the vehicle one round in the ground imagining it as the road, i.e obeying all the traffic rules.

There started my troubles. How many of you knew that, i mean before you went to the driving school that you have to make a gesture (similar to ‘kathakali mudra’) with your hand while slowing your vehicle (then, what the hell is the brake light for)?. As i learned theart of drivin g by myself i was ignorant of this fact and forgot to do it during the road test. For just this reason Mr.X said that i had failed and asked me to go out (please note that he simply asked me to go out without writing ‘Failed’ in my papers). I tried arguing but he blatantly asked me to clear out( the words used by him were obviously not parliamentary but after all he is the master of the show). I waited there after i had cleared the 4 wheeler test. Then the guys from the driving school came to help me out. Mr.X has to either pass me or write ‘Failed’ for me to go out. He kept on beating around the bush without saying anything straight. Then i got the point.

I have two options:

a) pay some cash and walk away with the license (200 was his cost)

b) get the ‘failed’ seal come back few days later, repeat the whole process of standing in the scorching sun and taking all those out dated tests all once again.

The stereotypical choice you are confronted with every time you make it to a govt.office. Prioritizing my convenience above my morality (my only argument may be that i am worthy of a license, but bribing is an offense) i go for the former. I tell the driving school guy that i l pay. He goes to Mr.X gets my papers right and collects cash from me. All is over in less than a minute ( so convenient, right?). I do not pay the master directly, he will get his share together at the end of the day, the driving school being a medium.

Oh God wasn’t i relieved??But it seems that fate has decided to punish me for driving without license for all these years by another episode in the R.T.O

Episode 2 (Place:Road Transport Office):

To my horror i notice that my DOB has been misprinted in the license as 6.01.1988 instead of 6.10.1988. So once again i go to the R.T.O with my passport. On inquiry the people over there ask me to come the next day to meet Mr.X himself as he is the one supposed to rectify it. I go the next day at 3 only to be informed that he was currently at Valayar check post and would be here soon. He didnt come that day and having waited upto 5 i come back once again at 3 the next day. That day he reached his cabin at 3.30. I made it to his cabin in the midst of his shouts at people who accidentally wandered near his cabin( you cant blame him, he has misinterpreted his ‘public servant’ tag as ‘public as his servants’). He asks me to find my papers in the records office. I almost lost my breath when i made it to the records section:Millions of papers in all shades from bright white to deep yellow with red tapes jutting out. In half an hour i found my papers and go back to him. He tries to access my data from his computer(Thank God, everything is computerised). But my relief doesnt last long. The computer has no idea of any such data. After a few minutes of fiddling with the keyboard he quits and asks me to come after one week(What the hell, is it my mistake that he cant access his comp?). One week later i make it once again to the office. I was not made to wait long that day as I was informed that Mr.X was on leave indefinitely due to chicken pox and nothing cant be done unless he comes back. I had cursed him a lot but never thought that it will back fire on me itself. Fed up i had two options in front of me

a) Leave the whole thing and walk with an improper license untill some problem arises due to its disparity with my other documents which was what at least two of my friends with a similar problem did

b)Ask my dad to find someone over there whom he knew and ask his help.

Fortunately my dad had a friend there and i entrust my license with him. After two months, i get it back corrected.

Think of this, what if I didnt have any acquaintances over there. I would have either been contend with the defective license or would have to walk the corridors of that office maybe another four or five times still with no surety of getting it corrected. With privitisation and consumers finally getting their deserved ‘numero uno’ status, isnt it high time that the govt offices and more importantly the govt officers come of age and find their position as public servants. Govt offices are supposed to serve us. Instead we are made to stand in never ending queues hearing all shit from the officer who assumes the position of the master of the class. And we take all the brunt in silence and anyone who tries to act is punished by making to go through the actual process which ends up no where other than in red tape. Its only with regret that i say that i was also on that side which took the injustice silently. I may go with the cliche of saying that was the easiest way out, but that doesnt change the fact that i bred corruption by being a part of it. That day i made the decision that the next time i have the choice between cutting short the path by bribing and going by the right way i will chose the later as rightly pointed out by Martin Luther King Jr:

“The ultimate tragedy of mankind is not the brutality of the few, but the silence of the many”

Half an engineer

I think I am officially(at least) half an engineer with the fourth semester ending on july 23. So the vaccation that I am having now (the reference of the length of which makes my neighbours and relatives jaws drop to the ground whom i try to pacify by referring to my last years 100 days bash which was 12 days lengthier, afterall you should have less days now that you are one year senior) can be considered as the half time break between two turbulent halfs. And what semesters the last two were??. Unheard of subjects supplemented by jargon ridden classes have made sure that i had a lot to do on the days immediately before the exams. The names of the subjects were quite funny: Random Signal Theory, Signal and Systems and blah blah and all that i can recollect of those classes are the blissful sleeping hours i had in the back bench. Obviously i will have to go through all those stuff again just before placements (i don’t want to bother my long term memory with such futile stuff let my short time memory handle it so that i can delete it the moment i get placed, hopefully). Being in the class was not so boring, there were enough amusing anecdotes spread throughout the two semesters.

One such funny thing was when i was caught by our maths prof in the class. I was blissfully having a nap after reading ‘Identity and Politics’ for half an hour. I was wearing a pink shirt that day (oh, by the way i am straight alright) which made me quite conspicuous i suppose. What i failed to notice was that almost everyone in the bench behind me were quite unconscious with saliva dropping out of their mouths. The prof pointed at them asking them to stand up. But all those good hearted classmates of mine thought that it was me the prof was pointing to. When i wake up hearing all those grumblings, everyone is looking at me. KIck starting my insticts, i get up saying…

“Sir, headache” (oh my God how many times i am relying on that ubiquitous problems to help me out)

My good hearted classmates(I would not blame them afterall) and I understand our blunder(more of mine but those idiots also share the resposibility) only when the prof says….

“Actually it was not you whom i meant”…