30 September, 2010

Time flies...

Time Flies. You Can not. They fly too fast.
This is a puzzle which my father posed to me many, many year ago.
There were a few such puzzles.
There are 9 balls, out of which 8 are of the same weight while one is of a different weight. There is a balance which can be used thrice to isolate the ball with the different weight.
The above remained unsolved by me. I had to go back to my father for the first one and I got the second one solved by someone else in 2007 in London. 
The third one, which is actually a class 9 physics question.
If there is a tunnel along a diameter of a planet and an object is dropped into it, what will happen to it.
This one I got in class 9 itself. It took a lot of work though.
The only reason I am reproducing this here is to record it lest I forget it. I do not think I will ever forget it because I did not solve the first two. My father had to solve it for me. I wrestled with it for many years off and on and eventually gave up. I am not sure if my father was disappointed with me - I have not thought about it until now.
I think that it is common for children to admire their father. Your father is probably the second person you start to recognise. He is not always there, adding to the allure. He is strong, dependable, full of love, always busy with work and taking care of the family and knows just about everything a child might ask. As a child grows up into a young person, he might start to see some chinks in this image. As time passes, the parent shows up more and more as a human with a set of strengths, weaknesses and limitations.
I live with my father now. I have always admired him.I am a few years away from the age he was from when I remember him. With this comparison at hand, I admire him even more.
He has always taken care of everything I have needed. More importantly, he has always heeded to all that I have had to say - keeping him awake when I was young and wanted to know everything about trains while traveling overnight to Patna till now, when he wants to listen to me talk about my business every week. He has been like this with my mother and my sister. He might have his physical limitations, but his mind has always been something different. He rarely loses his temper or control over what he says. He has always been fair - a good husband and son and parent.
As I become a man of my own right, I realise that on this planet, just being a decent human being is gradually inching towards the superhuman.

07 September, 2010

Post post

Regular writing has definitely been impacted since December. I am not sure why.
Theoretically, I do even less work at home than I ever did - if that was possible. But seriously, everything is taken care of. Every day, I am home by 8pm (at the latest) and then go to  sleep after 11:30. I am reasonably busy during this time but have nothing to show for it.

This is an often repeated problem I have.

I have spent chunks of my life without earning a bullet point for my CV. In 2001, due to some kind of calculating or administrative error, I was invited to apply for the Aditya Birla Scholarships. This scholarship is given to 20 students every year from the country - 10 from IIMs and 10 from IITs. I remember the exact moment I realised that the scholarship was not even a very long shot. It happened like this - We had a session where the last years scholarship winners were to guide us with filling the form. There was a bio-data + achievements form to be filled along with a statement of purpose. I had no achievements to speak of (except for the admission and scholarship invitation I guess). I wanted to ask them how bad would it be if I did not have national or international level achievement to speak of (I did not have any state or district level achievements as well, but the form did not ask for those). Thankfully, the seniors did not let me ask this question. Instead, Magic Mittal asked the seniors if he could add additional sheets given if he ran out of space. They answered yes. A few heads nodded in that room. That was the moment.

IIMA did not give you a lot of time for introspection. Both years zoomed by - the first learning the tools of the trade and the second in using substances to forget the first. However, that moment stayed on with me. I always wonder about it - how did everyone else manage to have a few sheets of achievements while I had nothing to show for the 22 years spent in getting there.

I was a geek quite early on.

I used to tinker (and break) electronic toys. I built an audio amplifier (no innovation here - used a circuit board from a hobby kit which came with instructions). The amplifier's loudness depended upon the potential difference it was given - which was related to the number of batteries given. The reverse side of the carrom board at home had a wooden frame which could fit batteries in. I used to play video games with the audio routed through these speakers.

I built a paddle ship which did not work (I had not discovered torque) and tried to build an aeroplane which would use diwali rockets in multiple stages. Like some of ISRO's older rockets, the project never took off due to lack of funding and political (read parental) interference.

I had also built a small dam in the garden. I would flood the entire garden and then run all the water through a paddle linked to a small motor which would act as a dynamo and generate electricity at a low AC voltage. I never thought much about hydel power as I had to empty a drum of water to light a bulb.
There were rumours that a particular pond had a turtle and I wanted to build a periscope to investigate it. However, a periscope was too easy and I was too lazy.

I also managed to get a video game at home on which I played Mario and Contra. I played Mario quite well. A few people used to sit and watch me play whenever they could. My cousins used to hate me for it as they did not get to play if I started a game. Anyway, that was quite a waste of time I guess. 

All this happened between 1988 and 1991.

I joined DPS Mathura Road in 1991 and lost the means to do much of this - no garden to flood, no carpenter to command etc.

From 1991 onwards I avoided any and all competitions. I tried to get into the students council in school but was not good enough. I did not attend or win any quizzes or make my presence felt at a city/district/state/national/international level with any dance, drama, debate, elocution, poetry, piano or even sports (I did run quite fast at school level but that was that). I was asked to apply for the post of a house captain by a housemistress - had I been asked by the correct housemistress, I would not have avoided her for the rest of my time in school .

Energy counts more than talent when it comes to achieving something in life (There is little of either this side of the post)
Hats off to the ones with the energy - they shall inherit the earth (along with the meek).