Monday, July 23, 2012

Wake up call!

Scene - A student was sitting on the last seat in a class of computer science professor who was supposed to be one of the most arrogant and shrewd ones in the campus. This was the second semester at IIT and the first course in computer science for the students from various branches. The student found it hard to comprehend what he has been upto now although one-third of the semester was over. It was all there in the notes which came in the exam and the lectures told something out of his zone. So he was not interested happily sleeping. And then suddenly like always there was buzz around. Papers of Minor I, the first exam in a semester usually responsible for 20-25% of total course were being distributed. Time to wakeup and wait for yours. People were getting different ranges of marks between 0 to 40 out of 40. He expected his to be somewhere in between. Paper was okay and expectations were average. The name came, paper stopped with different people, the red marks could be seen from a distance and stupid gestures were giving some anxious moments.Finally, it reached but unlike always it was a 1/40. Not the number to believe. Disbelief and shock. It could not be right. It wasn't so bad at all. All through IIT people share the same feeling which was not shared before. You always get marks below your expectations. But 1/40 when you expected 15-20/40 was a bit too much. The paper was structured in a way that you had 4-5 questions and if you could get through the first, then only you could answer the rest. It's a mistake the student thought. Ohh! these MTechs who act as teaching assistants never really understand our procedures and profs make them correct our papers. How stupid. So he went straight to the prof. Prof said aha, so you deserve more. Lets see. Check again, you've got the right marks he says. Student is even more shock confirms but cannot figure out whats wrong with the algorithm. Prof has his moment, can you tell me what does sum(a,b) does in your algorithm? Student - It adds obviously (now smiling). Prof - Where do you mention that? Student checks and says Gosh nowhere. Boom! So here you go. No more arguments, no more explanations. And so the poor thing goes back. And only in a week's time, one more shock. He actually misses the deadline for the second assignment as he mailed his on the wrong email id by mistake. Now on the brink of his first failure because the prof has a reputation of setting tough papers ahead. It was all too plastic. That is the way world is in IIT sometimes for no reason. The student finally passed the course with a bad grade, making one of the toughest assignments (which could not be copied as a software matched them while checking), but not before taking a lot of stress. Call it carelessness, call it his stupidity, call it bad luck that's what IIT does to you sometimes. Profs can be relentless sometimes, so can be the situation. Lesson learnt probably for him and others. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Do IITians lack personality?

This was one of the searches on google which led somebody to my blog. This question has not been answered in any of the posts. Good time to do it now. The answer is yes, most of them do. And a rather sorry part is many of them unwilling to change that. But not all as some IITians do possess impressive personalities, some develop and some are keen to. As my current manager always stresses in each of his advises and conversations - "You guys are terrific when it comes to solving mathematical problems and modelling solutions but you still need to read and develop interpersonal skills to get to the top". And if you go by facts many IITians do reach the top. And in life its also about phases and experiences that model your personality. So most of the IITians when they are entering IITs have never explored themselves, have only concentrated on one aspect and did not work in different directions or had to work on different challenges. But as time goes by they do and they improve. Also by the very nature of our country IITians consider themselves successful too soon in their lives being always at top in their academic pursuits, getting all the attention and accolades. And as I pointed out earlier IITs do help in improving students in developing better personalities. Infact, when I think further most of my friends of IIT improved a lot more compared to all my other non-IIT friends while at college. There could be difference of opinion here though.
A lot of people often around IITians like to balance their complex by undermining their personality. So let me put it this way, IITians entering IITs fall behind the curve, IITians after IIT are on an average scale, IITians always lag behind for me when personality is the primary requirement for a role and IITians can compete when personality is one of the requirements. To conclude, yes its their weakness in general but given their very nature they have the tendency to get things right. And truly believe, it is something you can fix and develop with time.

{All through the post probably you can feel me defending the IITians :)}

Friday, July 20, 2012

3 idiots - Interest in IIT life - 1

Some parts were true, most were not. People have to realize commercial cinema cannot be 100% reality. What are the key differences? Well there is no Aamir Khan at IIT. People are not so mature and niether there is only one hero in IIT. Everybody is to an extent. Some of the personality traits of professor shown are true but no one Prof at IIT dominates to an extent as shown in the movie. Suicide thing is not common if you by chance believed it so. But yes, many people do realize that they are interested in something else other than engineering at IIT and that is what I would like to concentrate on in this post. There are so many societies/clubs/sports at IIT to focus on that many students who never maybe had a chance to pursue their hobbies and to think about what they actually like do so. One of the main reasons that I think that IIT does that to you in the sense of achievement that you get at an early age. If you remember the character of Madhavan and how he finally decides to pursue photography and wonder whether that actually happens the answer is yes. There are some mad IITians who get mad not about any academic research but about dramatics, sports, social work, reading etc etc. The other day I saw a status on facebook of my friend who went to IIM after IIT, then did 2 jobs moving to 4 different places, read over 300 books in two years and has left it all to read and maybe write in the future. He has been an extraordinary student and a good friend. Why am I writing all this here? Does that even matter? Do you take bad impressions about IITians post this that they do things they are not supposed to do? Well, I write to all those people who think not going to IIT is a terrible pullback and failure and get too disappointed. Take heart. There are still who get disenchanted. There are still IITians who don't know what to do with their lives, who after working so hard to get there leave it all for something else. So its never too late to start, you can make it big anytime. And even after getting somewhere you may have to start all over again. What 3 idiots told you correctly was yes there are a lot of idiots in IIT who for no reason do things which nobody expects them to do. I've ended up writing a post which looks quite disorderly, forgive me for that as I am in a hurry to finish this up. Hope to write more on this topic though. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Qualms about preparation

The other day I was discussing with one of my close friends about his "things to know" about IIT/IITians and was quite surprised to know that he still wondered how IITians manage their time while preparing for JEE. Although I've touched upon my preparation earlier, but let me approach this topic again. Being their in the vicinity of IITians for so long now, I've realized its not really about time management alone. The fact is most IITians are faster when it comes to solving problems, have better IQs and grasp concepts faster. Nothing new but the point I'd like to emphasize to all students is don't worry about time management too much. Its not that all IITians put a lot of extra effort compared to others. Yes, nobody takes the exam lightly. But it also isn't the case where they are preparing for 12 hrs a day for the whole 2 years of their preparation. My average would be close to be around 4-5 hrs excluding coaching hrs in a day. Coaching was 12-16hrs a week  And yes including weekends. Being a lazy person, I never compromised on my sleep which always averaged somewhere between 7-8 hrs. Yes, I and my coaching teachers thought I should put in more effort but if anyways you are not able to concentrate you automatically are not getting anywhere. My best guess is the number of hours on an average an IITian prepares would be normally distributed around 6. Again, I would stress people who are quick in their thought process require far less time and prepare with ease compared to the less luckier ones. When I look at the top 20 rankers of JEE I feel irrespective of the number of hours I put in I can never score more in a subject than them and invariably that is true. It might sound as if hardwork and amount of time is irrelevant but its not. It does make a difference, the only thing to remember is it can only help to an extent. You have been blessed or not blessed with certain IQs and your understanding, liking and preferences are unique. Everybody's style is different. Be comfortable with it. One more thing, hardwork becomes important as it helps in building momentum and confidence and keeps you focused and on your toes. So never underestimate its importance. So if you are one of those you are not so gifted but are always dedicated and can put it those 12-14hrs kind of study hrs go for it. Because it only can take you higher. But if you are one of those who can't concentrate for more than 6hrs just chill because there are many like you. Don't look around too much for depression but only for inspiration. Do your best. One thing that always helped me in that exam was competing with myself. Call it ignorance or anything else but I was too immersed in my preparation all the time. I would recommend the same if you are serious about your results. And to conclude, its immaterial to think too much how to manage your time better n all, just do as much as you can and relax. Easier said than done though. But yes, please do not conclude that 1-2hrs a day would do unless you are a genius :P

Friday, July 6, 2012

First day at IIT hostel

Yes, like every other IITian I also had a lot of inhibitions, expectations and an imaginary picture of what IIT and its hostels would look like. But having seen a good part of IIT-B in the counselling sessions and with a few online pics it wasn't too much of a surprise also. IIT Delhi looked much more homely and neat than IIT Bombay, more like a place inside city than the latter. However apart from the structure and the campus there was different atmosphere to the one I had imagined. The first was the air, it felt like the one I experienced in my childhood in the streets of old Delhi. The air was old and had a stillness about it even though it was July. The hostel building was even older with everything having a "sarkari" feel. And even though we were lucky to be assigned the new part of the hostel the feeling I got was common home was so much better. This is not the place I would live for the next 4 years as a reward for passing the toughest exam of engineering in the country. And inside I knew that was going to happen. Nothing too big about it but it overwhelms you in those moments. Next was observing the seniors. The image I had in my mind of the seniors was the ones who I had seen clearing JEE from Bhopal and it was very small number till then. The image of seniors was they would be people like me some a bit smarter and a larger chunk the studious, nerd kind ofs. But little did I realize it was the other way around. IITians were smarter, better looking and were just "normal" people. Some quiet, some chirpy, some good looking, some not so, some cocky, some arrogant, some polite, some not bothered. The feeling was mutual among all the freshers. In the first week, I remember discussing with many how their seniors were so much more smart, talented and brilliant than they expected. It was depressing in one sense because every IIT fresher is on a "high" getting into IIT and expects the future life to be less challenging than past. And that's when the feeling of being the one you look down upon dawns on you. One of our seniors said in the initial few meetings of the batch that he can get a better guy in the institute in any field that we choose we think we are best at be it any sport, cultural activity or any subject. And it was true. Unless you are one of those national players etc etc which 99% are not, there's always a senior in the first year who does stuff better than you. The reason being IIT gives you so much opportunities to hone your skills in your areas of interest that people become better and better at it while their stay at IIT. Its a place in a sense which helps you grow as a person too. Its not something to brag about but culture at IIT helps in developing personalities also. So yes, coming back to that first day - its a day of a lot of feelings going on inside and its a day which gives you a lot to think about. My day was one of realization and coming to terms with reality which was quite different from imagination. And also one of those which makes me think how unaware I was.