Monday, July 25, 2011

Silent Hours

(I wanted to talk on a more serious issue related to a recent happening. A new post follows.)

 Extended Week

We hear about extended weekend. Last 14-15 days were like an extended week where I had to work without a break. I don’t remember having been exhausted so much in recent times. On two occasions, I had simultaneously three meetings to attend. The dignitaries from outside the institute, the chairman, the rest of the committee members were kind enough to accommodate my hopping around once I finished placing my observations in the meeting. Whether it is a discussion on Diamond Jubilee Celebration or setting up of a national test and research facility or registration of new students all considered my appearance and disappearance very sympathetically. Grateful to all!

 Welcome to new students!

This week also saw infusion of two fresh bloods in our research team. After 3.5 years we got any institute scholar and this time two joined simultaneously. One is to work in speech and the other one biomedical signals, the twin pillar of our group. In between, students joined various sponsored projects and kept contributing to research. One QIP scholar, and three MS students also enrolled formally this semester though they were with us for a few months now. Anyways, it always is a pleasure to welcome new members in a family. My best wishes to all the new members.

 Environment and We

The extended week brought a completely new experience. Our team of three faculty members and three technicians moved around Kolkata for two days and collected some field data. This was on the request of Dr. Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, Minister-in-Charge, Environment, Govt. of West Bengal. It was very inspiring to see the minister joining us in one field data collection. Then he took us to his office. He has far reaching research theme in his mind to correlate environment and civilization by a statistical model and thereby predict disaster. I was thinking if it would help in tweaking some of the primary variables and prevent a disaster or if the worst happens, remaining prepared for it. My IIT colleagues told MIC that it would excite me as I work on modelling. I listened while taking a print out of a recent WHO (World Health Organization) report.

 Missed Students

I worked in industry before. There I worked on shop-floors for more than two years. But this field data collection from Kolkata para -s was an experience of different kind. Interacted with a lot of common people. We were surprised to see the awareness level. In one small Govt. school, we never realized till we were on the verge of leaving the school, that we had been interacting with an Academy Award winning writer. So humble he is and so concerned about the well-being of his students! Be it a young girl studying law or panicky elders, all had a great respect of IIT and I always wished if we could include some of our IIT students too in our team.

 The Grand Meeting

The breakfast meeting at Oberoi Grand, Kolkata was scheduled for one hour duration. The Senior Pro from US has just arrived. Their Indian Officials were also there. I have worked with the Indian team on several projects since 2003. I worked with the US team briefly for about 2 years. Except this 2011 summer vacation, I was always engaged with them. We had a lot of things to talk and we did not realize how THREE hours passed. They invited us to take a new US project which is free from encumbrance, addressed as ‘partner’ and I happily agreed. It is a very big challenge though, a good two year long project but I am confident and as always I seek good wishes of all and blessings of elders.

 Lady with the Lamp

I was totally drained yesterday (Saturday) evening after finishing all the tasks in hand. I decided to retire for some time and randomly picked up a novel of Shekhar Mukhopadhyaya from a 2010 festival collection. I must say that it could not have been a better choice at that time and went to sleep only after finishing the same. The story started with corporate war and corporate ethics (or lack of it). Enters a very strong, compassionate character as company secretary and there on the story drifts with her. She does her part to inspire others and brings an human element in the approach of those who matter. Finally, she decides to abandon the corporate job and proceed for research and a Ph.D. at the pinnacle of her corporate career. But why? What is wrong there? The near and dear ones ask. Comes the calm but resolute voice, “I miss my silent hours with books.”

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