Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Holy Night

Cannot stop myself from sharing this article which is front-paper news of Kolkata edition of many newspapers today. This is the struggle of Jhuma Sarakar whose father, a small wage earner mason, was sent to life imprisonment by lower court when Jhuma was in Class VII. The devastated family saw the mother start working as domestic help. There was some support from uncle in initial years. Jhuma did not abandon study. Joined college and started giving private tution. With that she started long court battle to prove his father's innocence. Everyone in the family always saw in the father a pious and kind person and was convinced of innocence.

In the words of Jhuma, "My faith in his innocence prompted me to raise money for the legal battle by giving private tuition. My mother works as a domestic help. She brought me up. I had resolved that I would not marry before my father’s innocence was proved." (The Telegraph Link) and "I was a child then. Though I knew that my father was innocent, I couldn't do anything to help. Finally, when I joined college, I decided that we would have to get justice for him. I started giving private coaching and spent whatever I got in providing legal help for my father. My father was in jail for so many years for no fault of his and this was the least we could do to get him out. My uncle provided a lot of assistance." (ToI Link)

2004 to 2013. A long journey. The day was yesterday, the 24th Decemeber, 2013. The father was released by higher court. The Holy Night descends in Sarkar family with a different meaning all together. The stars salute the grit, the determination of the daughter. We join them and take a bow before the daughter.

And this is the country where daughters are seen as burden! We at IIT Kharagpur are exploring means to reduce female foeticide. Hope we can do our part so that Jhumas can continue to prove their worth and the Agnipariksha from Ramayan ages stop someday.

Jhuma is now studying M.A. Her brother abandoned study in Class VII.



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ishq

I am happy today. Reason? Her Highness is happy. We tend to believe that it is not-so-easy a task :-) One may ask, how much did the gift worth? The fact is different. It was a gift that I gave to myself. And that brought the smile. Yes, I took morning walk this morning after a long, long time.

There was no short-cut either. It was full 4 KM stretch and in my favourite terrain. When was it the last time? Two months back, or more - lost the count of it. Past few months had been very, very hectic. Added
responsibilities. Extra effort to fit into the shoes. Lace tied. I have earned my gift. The morning walk.

Another thing changed in between. The fun of being a part of the crowd and in a shooting spree with camera is being replaced with more formal stuffs. It was a smooth ride in crossing 10,000 marks of shooting pics in last 4 years. Most of them were for NSS (Link) and NSO Health and Fitness (Link).

I attended this year's NSS Annual camp in bits and pieces because of the new responsibilities - had been camp commandant in last five years. And this forced me to change my facebook friends policy. I started accepting friends request from students after two days of the camp. The students were posting their activities, how they were building murram roads, cleaning bushes etc. in their profile. And I could feel the pulse of the camp through them. All NSS camp pictures in this page are taken from facebook upload of students.

I spent longer on the concluding day of the 7-day long camp. The NSS faculty compering the show called me to say a few words. Later I found that another NSS faculty recorded the same and shared that with me. I
find that I thanked all, explained the policy change :-) and felt proud that the worry of what would happen when I move to other responsibility was unfounded. Feel so proud of the NSS, IIT Khaargpur team! Told the NSO Health and Fitness team too last week that they are to get
ready!!


Yesterday, attended an important meeting at Delhi. Watched the movie "Naram Garam", and Kabi Sammelan "Wah! Keya baat Hai" in the flight. As said, things are under control now! Remember that last week on Friday afternoon while waiting at Fortis hospital, Kolkata for our collaborator to finish heart surgery and begin discussion (and a demonstration of laptop version of heart sound analyzer developed by us), I was checking end-semester answer-scripts much to the bewilderment of people in hospital reception.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Amol Palekar - you are prepared for a sweet family drama! But Birju the artist gives a test of both art and artist in the following segment (Link) at 3:30 minute onwards. "Aagar umar ke lehaj se kaha to thik hai ... Kalakar apne Mata, Pita aur Guru ko chhorke kisi ke pao mein haat nehi lagata. Samjhe aap. Namaste."

The "Wah! Keya baat Hai" program in Air India flight had interesting lines. A couplet there asked one to be cautious as "Ishq o nadi hai jiska kinara nehi." Received a mail from a young monk of Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math on Saturday. He says, "Swamiji mentioned work and worship can be performed in three ways: work and worship, work as worship and work is worship. Our way should be the last one."

I don't know which part of this story is Ishq, which is work and which is worship or if the fine line melts somewhere when we think less of our own well-being and more of the society around us.

End-quote from Vivekananda: "The whole gist of this teaching is that you should work like a master and not as a slave; work incessantly, but do not do slave's work...Love and do good to everybody, but do not become a slave. In the first place, attachment degenerates us, individually, and in the second place, makes us extremely selfish. "

Friday, November 22, 2013

Obvious

The clock strikes 8 PM. The person who locks the office appears in your door. Time to leave. Next destination is Dept. to finish the rest of the work. 8:45 PM - phone call from home. Start winding up slowly. Walk past the corridor, stop a while at a colleague's door. A quick rerun of the day. Did you hear correctly - what is more important, being a high achiever or being a good human being? 

Do these two have inherent conflict? Vivekananda said, "Unselfishness is more paying only people do not have the patience to practise it." Can we not have both high achiever and a good human being in one? If we are asked to choose between a high achiever and a good human being, the answer should be obvious. But is that so?

Every choice has a cost. If we choose good human being and not the high achiever, we miss out association with those achievements and additional scores that come with it. If we do not choose good human being, we are on a slippery ground. 

Is it a choice for only today or also for tomorrow or day after? One may ask, tomorrow will come only if we are able to survive today. The fact is, whether we survive or not, tomorrow will come. We have to go one day. But tomorrow will continue to come. That is inevitable.

There was a facebook post this evening! Excerpts below in italic. Immediately three persons come into chat. All from outside IIT Kharagpur community. One is childhood senior, one is childhood junior, and the third is an in-law, cousin brother's side. "Is everything fine?" Can it be otherwise? You post a message which is not that obvious and immediately three persons ping you, comfort you. 

Achievement! What is that? 

And here is a person who thought that the issue deserves a post! Only a blind person or a blinded person cannot see what is obvious!!

Be God's child. You need not fear anything! Fear, according to Vivekananda, is the greatest weakness. He said, "Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succor you want is within yourselves." He further said, "“Face the brutes.” That is a lesson for all life—face the terrible, face it boldly. Like the monkeys, the hardships of life fall back when we cease to flee before them."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Correction in Advertizement

I have requested the officials to correct the anomaly in dates for the 18th Nov. interview. Initially, we wanted it on 14th Nov. It was found to be a holiday and thus was rescheduled on 18th Nov. The advt. (Link) at IIT Kharagpur temporary job page should read as given at the end of this post.

On the complain why I have not posted for long - I shall take the shorter route .. New and increasing responsibilities at office .... Challenge at home, Mother's total knee replacement (both knees were replaced last month) ... one child at home and a relatively old http://nssiitkgp.blogspot.in/  and a toddler http://healthandfitnessiitkgp.blogspot.in/ .... As soon as I get some space to breathe, will be back here. However, keeping myself updated in facebook!! Those who will not be happy with these few lines after getting used to my long posts :-) here is a copy-paste from my facebook "What's in your mind?" answer of today - To lead is to sacrifice. Highest leadership, highest sacrifice. Sacrifice gives moral strength to the leader, earns respect. That is the real power. Rest is only supplementary. Let us not miss the bird for the bush. How true is Vivekananda saying we memorized in children's wing of Akhil Bharat Vivekananda Yuva Mahamandal "Shirdar to sardar, matha dite paro to neta hobe." Sacrifice cannot be forced unto oneself. It comes from love. See yourself in the mirror. Look at your eyes. Do you love your people with all their strength and weaknesses? If not, leadership is a torture for yourself as well as for the people you lead. Remember Nabanida saying once that if you do 10 yourself, other may do 1. Leading is always leading by example.

Project TitleREDUCTION OF FALSE ACCEPTANCE/REJECTION FOR NON-COOPERATION SPEAKERS IN AUTOMATIC SPEAKER RECOGNITION SYSTEM (FAN)
Reference NumberIIT/SRIC/R/FAN/2013/166 DATED 29th October, 2013
Temporary Position(s)Walk-in-interview on 14th 18th November, 2013 at 10-00 AM at Deptt. of Electronics & Electrical Communication Engineering for the post of Junior / Senior Project Officer (JPO/SPO)
Number of vacancies2
Consolidated CompensationRs. 16,000/-p.m. to Rs. 20,000/-p.m (depending upon qualification & experience)
Coordinator / PIDr. Goutam Saha, Dept of E & ECE
Qualifications & ExperienceM. Tech (Preferable) in Electronics / Electrical Engineering OR B.Tech / BE in Electronics / Electrical Engineering preferably with valid GATE/NET score. Candidates should have good academic record (minimum first Class in all exam.) Competence in Digital Signal Processing, Speech Processing, MATLAB with research experience in signal processing & pattern recognition, preferably related to speech processing is desirable.
Relevant ExperienceCandidate should send prior intimation with their CV to the email ID gsaha@ece.iitkgp.ernet.in by 17.11.2013 with a subject heading ‘Walk in interview for JPO/SPO’. No query will be entertained regarding relaxation of the minimum eligibility criterion and candidate not meeting the criterion will not be allowed to appear before the interview board. 
Last Date18 17th Nov 2019 2013
Application FeeRs. Demand Draft for Rs.50/- (not for female candidates) drawn in favour of IIT Kharagpur payable at Kharagpur.
M.S. / Ph.D. enrolment subject to clearing Dept. examination.



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Inspiring Words

I was a part of the audience this weekend where Padma Vibhushan, Dr. M. S. Valiathan (Link) was delivering his keynote speech. The occasion was PULMOCON - 2013, 11th All India Update in Pulmonary Medicine organized by Institute of Pulmocare & Research (IPCR), Kolkata. We have active research collaboration with IPCR. The invitation card quoted Vivekananda, "The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is an atheist who does not believe in himself. " The conference hall had two large sized Vivekananda pictures in between multimedia projection screens.


Dr. Valiathan took us through the history of medicine and medical research in India. It was really 'mesmerizing' as described by one of the two vice-chancellors present there. He talked about lacuna, the disconnect that exist in medical research space. But he did not sound criticizing as such but telling the audience to feel inspired, contribute and be a part of India's growth story. The speech many times referred to Dr. Sambhu Nath De, the discoverer of Cholera toxin, who had nomination for Nobel prize several times but his work remained 'unsung and unnoticed' in India (link).




Dr. Valiathan was at ease to quote Upanishad and making his point across. He narrated the story of Nachiketa, the importance and meaning of Shraddha for which 'there is no equivalent word in English dictionary.' He stressed on the need of firm determination, single minded devotion and obligation of privileged community like us to all, that includes future generation.

I was sweetly surprized when his speech referred to our work on 'lung acoustics' and he said that such type of work is needed. The development of lung sound analyzer is a collaborative research between our lab. at IIT Kharagpur and IPCR. Felt so, so much proud and inspired! Thank you, Sir. We shall keep trying to the best of our ability.

The function felicitated vice chancellor of one university for his contribution to medical research related to medical image processing. Felt proud because he is our Dept. colleague at IIT Kharagpur and is on deputation now. I was overwhelmed to find several medical workers working in remote villages, promoting health and awareness as foot-soldiers, getting felicitated at the function. This is very inspiring. The organizer, IPCR deserves kudos for this.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Teacher and Student

There was Hindi Diwas (Hindi Day) related programs last week at IIT Kharagpur. Attended one Kabi Sammelan (congregation of poets) briefly. The anchor-organizer told why arranging such a sammelan is difficult. He was told by an experienced person that it is like walking of a clay doll along a path which passes through a river. The creative self of Kabi (poet) can throw up surprises with satire on current time, anti-establishment lines or something which may not be palatable for everyone in the audience.

Stumbling upon a social networking place where young students converse is not easy either for teachers as it may embarrass. It could be one of those 'Confession' pages of facebook or questions posed in Quora. But it is a good opportunity if he enters those pages as students and not as a teacher, as one who wants to be educated. He may get some feedback for himself which may not be available in usual channel. If it is good, his confidence increases. If not, he should humbly introspect. Of course, he should be able to separate signal from noise. He should not get carried away either way as this social networking space is dominated by certain fraction of the student community having strong likes or dislikes and / or specific traits!

Not every teacher may be as lucky :-) to be a part of student conversation, being loved or hated (love me, hate me, but you cannot ignore me :-)) !! In fact, most of them are not. Still if one does not feel uncomfortable with the way young students converse, it is worth going through their experience, the issues that occupy them. And one may be sweetly surprised to see that even if baser stuffs usually purge the space, it is the occasional gems that get most 'like's, the ones that exhibits the higher self of one - the struggle, the sacrifice.

Before I paste two such 'Confessions' verbatim here, for which I would also like to say respect _/\_ like student friends, I remember one lecture of young Ramakrishna Mission monk of a US centre. I first heard it in 2006 during my one semester association with USC. But every time I hear it, it is a humbling experience. The title of the talk is 'Teacher and Student'. I made a youtube version of it with our young students taking the role of teachers in village schools which is available here (Link).

---- verbatim from students' public post ----

[The following is about the range of difficulties a student can face and how he fights them and emerges as winner. We perhaps do not teach this to students. Rather we are taught by them when we read this aspect of their life.]

This one is the best among confessions, i have read till now._/\_ here it goes:

#I see a lot of my juniors confessing about love , sex , make outs, awesum college life. i want to confess something else .

1. I joined heritage in its initial batches. i was very introvert and was a ragged a hell lot . A belt was tied around neck i was made to roam around the college in my first day. When i complained to my dad he thrashed me saying that i was a loser and wasting his hard earned money.( he hoped that i was in IIT) I felt liked being raped that day, not by my college seniors but by my dad.

2. I got a very low grade in my first semester because i was pressurized by my dad to appear for IIT again. I Got a severe thrashing from him again. my mom somehow rescued me.

3. In second semester i mustered up enough courage to propose to my best friend but she rejected me because in her words ""she didnt wanted to be ridiculed by her friends "". she stopped talking to me after that. I was heart broken as she and my mom were the only people i shared everything with.

4.during the 4th semester break , while i was returning home after teaching a student . i got a phone call informing me that my mom had expired. my world came crashing that day. I cried for for days on end and somehow picked myself up as i had no other alternative 

5. My attendance fell very low that semester and i was summoned by the principal . when i told him about my mothers death he replied "I hear this lie everyday .please bring me the death certificate if u have one." Then while i was leaving he told me "no need to bring death certificate , useless guys like u can even fake that .call your dad"

6. my frnds always ridiculed me because i was loser .i dint laugh at their jokes .to mix with them i started drinking .i dint like the taste but liked the high . i often used to act drunk to appear more cool. i learned to call girls "magi "" but never knew its real meaning . that helped me survive college 

7. it was the campussing day , i got rejected that day again .hoped to make it to the next company. but was unsucessfull till the and of campussing . i had tried a lot . attended English speaking classes (my English was horrible) , brought new pair of shirt . when my dad heard this he told me not to call again and this time i didnt feel remorse or regret for him . for the ntire night i contemplated suicide but couldn't as i had promised my mom that i will shine one day .

8 . i started doing private tutiions and preparing for CAT. i gave my everything. I got 99.87 percentile but couldnt make it again to a big IIM because of my low grades. What had i done now to deserve this ? i felt. I finally got admitted into decent college and a helpful bank manger arranged for loan .

9.After passing out i got into volvo eicher as a junior manager . i dint last for 3 months because i couldnt lick my boss s boot properly .My service was terminated because of being inefficient .

10. i started making iPhone apps in my leisure time while i was applying to a few companies . Slowly i took it up as a more serious start up. got hold of 2 more friends like me who were from cs background and were unable to find a job .

11. in 2011 i made a small office. by the end of 2011 i had a small group of 8 engineers working with me. In 2012 we bagged several contracts from companies like mobiquity, exxon mobile and the workforce increased to 80 developers. In march 2013 i will be applying for turnover of over 5 crores .

I dont know how to thank god for his blessings . i thank that senior who ragged me in my first day at college, that girl who dumped me , my professors who ridiculed me, the numerous friend who though i was a loser . it is you who gave me the courage , the fire , the anger to succeed against all odds . seriously no hard feelings guys , u made me what i am. i dont stay with my dad but i send him enough so that he can lead a comfortable life .
My advise to all juniors. shine in life .When a loser like me can why cant u? never let people say u cant do it . many people might have faced similar or more lows in college life but NEVER EVER give up. Let not a broken relationship , failed grade,lost job opportunity or "status" among friends define you . And never lose faith in humanity in goodness. there are few bad people but there are a lot more good people around here . I met a lot of good people,professo­rs in my college .and believe me heritage taught me a lot Lastly MA, hope u could read this. I love u a lot.

[This is about how much sacrifice a young student can make, beyond the manual of a teacher like us.]

If you are one to go by likes, as of now, in 24 hours, this got 21000+ likes!

#884 24th may 2013 was the day which changed my views about life... my room mate at iit had fallen in love in the 3rd year of our college to one of the most chirpy, flamboyant girl of our batch. i had no particular reservations for their relationship other than the fact that they were quite opposites my buddy was shy, intro and she altogether was different and i actually felt that she did not love my friend as much as he did. actually becoz of her nature i thought she took their relationship very lightly. but whatever be my notion both got along well then i got placed in the usa and left while my friend got placed in an mnc in india . we kept in touch for a few months but like it happens usually we got busy in our lives and could not interact much. i took my parents to usa and my links with india got completely cut. now 9 years later i am on an business trip to india i thot of meeting my college friends and contacted many thru fb and likewise. i tried contacting my roomie but met with no responses.when 7, 8 of us met i got this news that my roomie died 5 years ago in the delhi blast at karol bagh. i was shocked and cudnt sink in the fact he was his parents only son and that troubled me more about how those people wud be surviving. so i took his address and went to meet them. when i entered the place(a simple yet utterly beautiful one) i found a group of four 2 old men and 2 old women were having their evening snacks and were smiling, laughing and talking i went on and introduced myself to them they all greeted me with a lot of love and asked me to join in and served me some tea. i took it and was left with no words on how to ask them about how things have been over the years. so i decided to leave and as i was about to rise the gates opened and my friend's gf entered (i thot so these two finally married). she was surprised to see me and welcomed me and asked me to stay over the dinner. after a lot of pestering i agreed and later mustering a lot of courage i asked her so how's life ? to which she smiled and replied good. after a moment silence she continued" we were happy very happy together and were about to get married when it all happened i was devastated but then i looked at these 4 people (his and her parents) and decided that i wud have to move on. i bought a new place brought in all four together and are now living happily." she said when i do sumthing for them i know shubhu smiles and its his happiness that i always want. i asked her how is she managing she said love is not only about his physical presence in my life it is about celebrating togetherness and that we do each day with our parents and i know somewhere he is also around here watching our every move keeping us protected. and then she added wish i had his child. after listening to all this i realised the strenghth of their love and coudnt help envying my friend on how lucky he was to have found this girl who is selflessly busy playing her role in their relation without the society bound order of marriage etc. i cudnt help feeling small at the girl's immense strength and pure love that their relation stands on. i relised how wrong i was in those days. she said she has enough memories to last for a lifetime and said. " log aksar humse humari khushmijaji ka karan pucha karte hai to hum bh palat kat kar kahte hai, huzoor apki aindagi mein yaadein hai par humari to har ek yaad hi jindagi hai" a huge salute to you girl and lots of respect to you. indeed life is beautiful its just the matter of ones view to take the challenges.

Salute to the girl! It is with the hope you get after reading such stories, that the world goes on!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Teacher's Day

The 5th Septemeber morning started with trying, failing (read: not doing well enough!), and again trying ... ! Yes, I was trying to put a gift-wrapper around a small gift that my daughter was to present to the class teacher. There was time pressure. She had to report to school by 7:25 AM. And I forgot to do the job assigned to me previous evening. Unpardonable! I deserved the guilty-look that I wore on my face till I finished the job.

But I felt really bad to see one health drink advertizement on television while doing that job. In the advt., one child complains that her mother provides her 'cheaper' health drink which compromises her growth, and not the costlier brand that was there in the advertizement. And the child thinks that the mother is guilty when it falters in any competition as if that health drink would have brought a winner! Mother is our first teacher. To put up a child against the mother to jack up sale of one product is simply ominous.

'Shraddhaban labhate Jnanam' - one who respects, learns. Once we lose respect, we cease to learn. We learn from everybody. We learn from even non-living things. There is a famous poem in Bengali by Sunirmal Roy,  titled 'Sabar ami chhatro' (I am student of everyone) where he says,
(my poor translation) "Sky taught me openness / Wind taught me incessant work / Mountain taught me to be graceful and silent / Sun told me to be brave / Moon taught me to be sweet / Ocean taught to nourish pearl of thoughts at bottom of our heart / River taught to move ahead, unmoved  ....

In the evening attended the function at our lab., mock presentation for high value project from the Dept. (to give would-be presenters a feedback), and the function at Netaji Auditorium put up by Radhakrishnan Hall of IIT Kharagpur, in that order. Could watch a beautiful play and listen to speech made by a student (youtube link).

And of course, sent and received lots of messages.






Monday, September 9, 2013

The 9th September

The 9th September, a day of reverence, not only for me but also for many people who knew him, who remember him (Link to Remembering).

Ma (Mother) liked the novelty component of the garland.

This year it coincided with Sri Ganesh Chaturthi. The day started with listening to "Jai Deva Jai Deva Jai Mangalmurti" (youtube video).

Spent sometime with Benida, Sri Benimadhab Goswami, who always inspires and who has a major influence in our growing-up, next to parents.

In the evening, participated in Shashwata Bharat (Eternal India) program as a part of 150th birth anniversary celebration of Vivekananda. Walked with students and faculty colleagues in the Parikrama (procession).

It was inspiring to see Director, IIT Kharagpur leading the Parikrama on foot for the entire track from Gymkhana to Kalidas Auditorium, about 2 KM.


One of the student who anchored the Kalidas auditorium program shared his notes on Vivekananda by a late evening mail.


  • The education which does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion - is it worth the name? Real education is that which enables one to stand on one's own legs.


  • Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain, which runs a riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas, and made them your life and character, you have more education than the man who got by heart a whole library.


  • Stand up and fight! Not one step back! That is the idea. Fight it out, whatever comes. Let the stars move from the sphere. Let the whole world stand against us! You gain nothing by being cowards. You have cried to all gods in the world. Has misery ceased? You are an infinite spirit, it doesn't befit you to be a slave. Arise! Awake! Stop not till the goal is reached!


  • We want that education that India really needs. We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one's own feet!


  • "Once when I was in Varanasi, I was passing through a place where there was a large tank of water on one side and a high wall on the other. It was in the grounds where there were many monkeys. The monkeys of Varanasi are huge brutes and are sometimes surly. They now took it into there heads not to allow me to pass through the street, so they howled and shrieked and clutched at my feet as I passed. As they pressed closer, I began to run, but the faster I ran, the faster came the monkeys and they began to bite at me. It seemed impossible to escape, but just then I met a stranger who called out to me, 'Face the brutes'. I turned and faced the monkeys and the fell back and fled. That is a lesson for life - face the terrible, face it boldly."










  • Sunday, September 1, 2013

    OMG! I did good!!

    I did good!! OMG!

    This was an examination where I was fully prepared to get an 'F'. I almost jumped from my seat and hugged the person who announced the result. OMG! I did good!!

    Let me say why I was expecting an 'F'.

    Mother was hospitalized for sometime (Link). Mobility is an issue for her and she is mostly on wheel-chair, does not want to wait for knee transplantation till my winter vacation. Had to say 'No' to a very important responsibility for which the nation looks towards IIT with bated breath, as it needs lots of traveling and I need to give time to mother. Felt honoured that I was considered capable enough for that very, very challenging job.

    The knee operation is planned at Fortis, Kolkata. Discussion is on with the doctor. Hospital stay could be for two weeks. Post operation physiotherapy for six weeks, is critical. Mother is prepared that I might not be available everyday by her side during hospital stay. But, I don't like that, feel stressed - how I would be able to manage both professional and family commitments, I do not yet know.

    I personally was having one symptom. This apparently indicated one parameter not doing good and would require prolonged medication. Test was suggested. Otherwise too, annual check-up was due. Last year some of the parameters were on the border line. We have a family history of high blood pressure. I fare 140/90 for long which again is considered borderline.

    One set of blood test was conducted on TUE (empty stomach) and the other was done on THU (post breakfast). It was not possible on WED due to morning class.

    I was to take test reports, meet doctor, get blood pressure checked on THU evening and perhaps to get started with medicine which was not required so far for me.

    Then came the THU afternoon / evening. Received something which was not expected at all. More than what was delivered, the way it was delivered was very disturbing. Felt bad for the team I serve and feel proud of, that comprises of young, enthusiastic, hard working people, devoted to the cause.

    Defended to the extent possible. Felt grateful for the support received across the vertical. Even then had a sleepless THU night, may be for not facing a situation like that in my earlier association here, may be because of the quality of company I enjoyed till now or may be for getting used to certain kind of approach (Link to one post, Link to one youtube video). Thanks again for the support received from across the hierarchy.

    And yes, missed the doctor's appointment and could not collect the test report because of this unfortunate matter. Family members were so anxious to see me that much agitated when I returned home at 9 PM, they forgot to scold me that I had missed the doctor's appointment, neither I could collect the blood test report.

    Comes Friday. There was a 10:30-12:30 double lecture and 1:30-4:30 lab. I thought that I wouldn't be able to survive beyond one lecture hour and would compensate one class later. But, chalk-duster-blackboard and hundred students before you, you are a transformed self. We couldn't feel how two hours passed.

    Phone call from outstation close relative came at 5 PM. There was a string of advice, that I must not miss the doctor's appointment that evening. Also, I was advised to be regular and sincere on taking medicines that doctor prescribes.

    The writing on the wall was clear. I too almost gave up!

    Entered doctor's chamber at 7 PM. He checked reports. The borderline cases or the shooting beyond the range for two parameters do not need medication but rationing of some food items.

    Then came the final test, measurement of blood pressure. Like a student who knows that he is going to fail for activities in the run up of the examination, and prefers to surrender before the examiner expecting the unexpected, I told timidly as the doctor put the blood pressure cuff around my arm, "I am little disturbed. Had some fight. I don't expect to do well."

    The measurement was done. Doctor looked at me while unwrapping the blood pressure cuff. I knew the result, that it would be an 'F'. Still I asked, "How much?"

    Sharp came the answer, "140 / 90."

    OMG! OMG! I did goood!!

    One person felt disappointed though :-) because I didn't join her club. She takes medicine regularly for the love of it and wondered how I got spared this time too!

    Endnote: That I passed the test made me qualified enough to honour the guest list of printed invitation cards, where local community just outside IIT Kharagpur campus were organizing a blood donation camp this morning! And when asked, made a short speech too on voluntary blood donation movement and its significance in our healthcare.


    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    Parables

    We usually study parables when young - in our teens or pre-teen days. The lessons often are not fully understood as we do not get exposed to different facets of life at that age. That which are supposed to be etched in our memory, often ends up in stories that we can afford to forget. I was told that a management school (not of IIT Kharagpur but one of the IIMs) used parables from Ramakrishna Kathamrita (Gospel of Ramakrishna Link) to educate their management cadre who go for administrative jobs. Here are few parables that I studied in young days. It is always worth revisiting the parables of different families even if we consider ourselves grown-ups now and educate ourselves once more. ... refresher's course?!! :-)

    From parables of Sri Ramakrishna (Link), on what we consider as reliable information:

    A man said to his friend, "I have just seen a house fall down with a terrific crash." Now, the friend to whom he told this had received an English education. He said: "Just a minute. Let me look it up in the newspaper." He read the paper but could not find the news of a house falling down with a crash. Thereupon he said to his friend: "Well, I don't believe you. It isn't in the paper; so it is all false."

    Panchatantra is treasure-house of such wisdom. It used animal characters to drive home the message, perhaps to avoid offending high ego of human species! There are several cartoon films on it which are quite popular. The following story is available as narrative in this youtube video (Link). This shows how a foolish friend can harm more than an enemy.

    There lived a king who had a monkey as his pet. He loved him very much. The king gave him all freedom and treated him as his good friend. The monkey used to be with the King wherever he was. One day, the king was taking a walk in the royal garden. As usual the monkey was walking with him. Suddenly the monkey started to jump here and there. 

    King: What? What happened? Today his action doesn't look normal. Hey what's the matter?
    King: What happened to you today? Why are you doing this? There should be a reason for this weird kind of an act. hmm...
    The King looked around and was shocked.
    King: AH... sh.sh. snake.
    The monkey leaped across and killed the snake.
    King: I am alive because of you. Thank you so much.

    Next day the king narrated the whole story in the court.
    King: Since he has saved my life he is been appointed as my chief guard.
    Minister: Oh king! A monkey is a monkey. He cannot think and act. You may kindly think it over and decide.
    King: He has saved me once and I believe that he will save me in the future too. 
    Since no one could question the king everyone of them remained silent.

    One day...
    King (to monkey): Hey my dear. I am going to teach you. Say A for apple, B for boy, C for cat, D for dog.... good boy. Ok I am going for some rest. Make sure no one disturbs me. If some one or something disturbs me just say shooo.shooo and get rid of them. Got it.
    King: Wow intelligent.
    The king was asleep. A little while later a fly came near by. At once the monkey said shoo.. shoo. The fly flew away. After some time the fly sat on the king's hand. Again the monkey said shoo shoo and got rid of the fly. The fly came back and this time it sat on the king's neck. Looking at this the monkey got wild and drew the sword to kill the fly. 
    Poor king. The fly escaped from the blow but the king.... 


    Aesop's fables find its way to become a must-read for all kids. This fable says why one should be careful about flatterers (Link).

    A Crow, having stolen a bit of meat, sat in a tree and held it in her beak. A hungry Fox, seeing this, envied the crow and wished to have the meat for himself. So he came up with a cunning plan.

    “How gracious you are,” he exclaimed, “how beautifully your feathers shine! Oh, if only your voice were equal to your beauty, you would deserve to be called the Queen of Birds!”


    The Crow was really flattered by these words, so, anxious to be called the Queen of Birds, she gave a loud caw and dropped the meat. The Fox quickly picked it up, and thus addressed the Crow: “My dear Crow, you have a nice voice, indeed, but I’m afraid you have no wits.”


    I shall end this post with a parable of Jesus. This is the famous story of good Samaritan. It tells who actually is one's neighbour, the one who cares (Link).

     A lawyer stood up to put him (Jesus) to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live." But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 

    Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

    Sunday, August 25, 2013

    Sound of Kharagpur

    While returning from Brahmakumaris' centre on Rakshabandhan evening, got stuck in one place at bungalow-side near railway station. Few snapshots at the end of the video shows what the place looked like once upon a time (1938-1940). I shall write about this old Kharagpur town later. Coming back to present time, there was ceremonial parade on the road. And true to Kharagpur tradition (Kharagpur town, different from IIT Kharagpur) there was loud-speaker and music. And the tune that was played made me feel that I am frozen in time. This is the Kharagpur of my childhood in railway quarter of old settlement area (Link). The same song that was one of the most popular at that time is played with similar musical accompaniment. A short clip was recorded and is available as background music :-) of following video.

    We used to have full volume music in our locality on all occasions - for birth, death, marriage, retirement (not exaggerating!), all social, religious functions  for family and youth clubs. It included lottery draw and orchestra nights on make-shift stage.True to its cosmopolitan nature, we had such occasions almost everyday. Every year one company used to come with traveling kiosks and stationed in the ground in front of our quarter. For about a month they used to play loud music and sell cloths to customers, "Cali Cloth asuchi / Koun koun anuchi / Shirting anuchi, Suiting anuchi ..(Cali Cloth has come. What are the things brought? Shirting, suiting ...)" Once my chemistry private tutor of class XI-XII who used to stay at IIT side came to our quarter. He got scared how I could study with loud speakers blazing like that. It was all but practice. I would rather say, my concentration increases if songs are played in the background :-)

    The following are some of those sounds of Kharagpur that I grew up with and that make me feel nostalgic.

    The original Sambalpuri song that I heard minimum 500 times and relived in it on 22nd Aug. evening.

    The famous Bagh / Sher (Tiger) dance during Mata Puja.

    The Ravana Pora (burning) is still one of the biggest event (another link).


    We stayed next to Bara Maszid (three tombs in the google map of 1st video) and grew up listening to beautiful azans. The following rendering, the voice is similar to what we used to hear everyday.

    Attended many such kirtans with my mother in Bhowanipur, Subhaspally area.

    Finally, the sound of mela - this year's Rathayatra Fair.

    And Bengali version of following prayer and Swadesh Mantra of Vivekananda every afternoon at B.N.R. ground before P.T. and play.

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    Happy Rakshabandhan

    This time it was spread over two days. My sister telephoned yesterday and wished in that distant mode. One old acquaintance, now a monk at Ramakrishna Mission centre reminded in chat how we used to celebrate in our younger days!

    Yesterday evening, one student came to my office and invited me to today's evening function at Brahmakumaris' local centre. I said that I would be able to go this time and regretted that in an earlier function (Shivaratri) I was occupied. The student reminded that it is Rakshabandhan day and said, "If you do not go, Didi (elder sister) will come here." I knew that the threat was real :-) and it would have been unthinkable for me to make the revered Didi come all the way.

    It was a 6 PM function. I had my grounds fully covered by that time here! The drizzle also stopped as I set off. On reaching, I found that a meditation session was going on with Didi  at centre and also other sisters were there. There were few IIT Kharagpur students there. After some devotional songs, Didi explained nicely the significance of this function - the Rakhi, the central flower of self, attached on two sides by two strings of affection and purity. Didi quoted Vivekananda's Chicago address and how his address that started with "Sisters and brothers" touched every heart. It is the life behind that gives power to words. She talked about importance of character buildling. Yesterday, the sisters went to district jail and tied Rakhi to inhabitants there. After the talk, she and another sister tied Rakhi to me. While doing that she also blessed me. I also received a book and sweets.


    It was great to see executives of local Satya Sai Trust and Patanjali Trust also there and Rakhi were tied to them and also to all those who gathered. Promised to visit again before leaving.









    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    Perception-Responsibility-Criticism

    The facebook friends request list was swelling up! It was time to take action. I need to be particularly careful for requests coming from IIT Kharagpur students who are still on roll. It is a strict - 'No', 'No' for Dept. students till they graduate. For others, I need to visit student database, check if there is any possibility of intersection somewhere in their remaining stay here where I shall be awarding them grades. If not, then I go ahead. This is because, to me, we not only need to be impartial, we should also appear to be impartial. We are surrounded by students, young and intelligent, the competent and confident, the makers of our country's destiny. The perception is important. As much the foot-print that we leave.

    Often, this leaves us with limited choice or has the potential of breaking heart! My batch-mate's son has taken admission in our institute this year. Had a session with her entire family when they came for document verification. Told the son what we tell all freshers [Link to Fresh Blood] - that clearing IIT-JEE and getting into an IIT is an important step, but only a step, may be a big step. It is not the destination but a part of one's journey. It is important what one does with the best of the facilities the country can give to its young people. Our country is not rich enough to give similar facility to all. Thus, a student here has to take more responsibility and make the most of what he gets. If one does not feel for the country or not interested to take responsibility then why one deserves more facility than others? In that case, let nation's wealth be spent equally for all with no exception!

    I'll be lying if I say that I was not worried about the consequence of this lecture :-) to a young incumbent of IIT family, specially when his parents and sister was with him! But the more I spend time with young generation, the more is my confidence in them. And I was proven right again! My friend rang me after return and told me that the son has become a kind of fan. And then came what I started with in this post - 'friend' request in facebook from him. I rang and told that I am sorry and I would keep the son waiting for few more years. Today, when I accepted the 'friend' request of G. Sec. of one hall, a senior student but still a student, I first went to his student profile and assured myself that he is from a dept. which is far enough!

    Perception is a not-so-small issue for a person who holds an office of responsibility. One of my colleague was freelancing in one student activity (extra-academic, link). All other colleagues who held the official responsibility of that activity, were in praise and felt grateful. When a new position was created there, this colleague assumed the responsibility officially. And one morning, he had a pensive look. For some reason, he needs to be away for two consecutive weekends (the activity takes place on Saturday). Others were there to do little extra when he or someone is away. But he was feeling bad. As a freelancer, his engagement was far more enjoyable. If he had done one unit of work that time, it was getting noticed and he used to feel good about it. But now with official responsibility, if he does not do one unit of work, he feels that it is getting noticed and feels bad about it. Take this for example. A person was giving lift in his car to waiting passers-by almost always whenever he was going to station from campus. He used to be applauded by passers-by. The day he takes the official responsibility of ferrying people from campus to station, every single refusal (even if he has some issue) would receive discredit, criticism from same passers-by and no-credit for doing the job well rest of the times.

    No wonder that a person's life changes a lot when he assumes a responsible position. I may feel grateful to the service offered by a person. But, as a responsible person, I have to go by merit and show my gratitude at personal level. My mother was cared very well by two attendants when she was hospitalized weeks back [Link]. They come from a poor family background. I gave them my cellphone number and told them to contact me if they need any help which I can offer in my personal capacity. One of them expressed something for her children's study. But the other's request, she herself might not have been knowing, was something that enters a different territory. And I politely expressed my inability for the second.

    Often, it is easier said! Over the years, our dealing with people develops a standard for ourselves - a perception, an image. It is not always possible to maintain that standard or one-to-one relationship with new role and new responsibility. We fall short. If we try to reach out to maintain old norm, we may fall short in new role. I used to spend a lot of time with some local youth encouraging them, counseling them etc. One of them after completing engineering, is now engaged with a telephone service company at Guwahati. He came to Kharagpur this weekend (to return on Monday) and wanted to meet me today morning regarding job issue he is facing there. He cannot discuss it over phone and needed to meet me for sometime. But our house-maid had taken leave today and I was at the disposal of Her Highness :---) at home, helping her as and when needed. The young person was waiting for my call, and I had no option but to tell him that I have job queued  up at home where I do not have the control over sequence. For example, only when Her Highness finishes brooming (I am not allowed to), I can start mopping work assigned to me. I asked him to wait at home and spend time with his son, now that he has returned after a month, I shall catch up with him at his residence.

    Amongst all these, I could dispatch the first set of the manuscript of new edition of one book yesterday. Feel relieved to be able to meet the deadline. But on Independence Day evening, was torn apart for not being able to be a part of the audience where our students were putting up a play. And one knows how much effort goes behind a stage performance like that! That evening it rained heavily, and I got immersed in an important segment of the manuscript preparation. Sorry folks! Anyways, the new edition of other title is just published. It was supposed to be an international edition with review done by faculty of US universities in the beginning and again at the end of the work. And it earned very good review. The publisher was very happy. They were at final stage of releasing it first in US. But something funny happened and I respect the confidentiality of all concerned and have absorbed the feelings for things not going the way it should have been, for something beyond control! Happy to see that new edition is released now and here. There are few more stories cooking! But let the chicken get counted only when the egg is hatched :-)

    [Endnote: Met the young engineer. Discussed his issues. At the end he said, "How come that what appeared as all negative then, appears positive now!" :-) For me it was great to find that within two month's of his job, he has earned respect from his employer who are frugal in all count and for his hard work and honesty. While I was talking to him, Nibedita and her husband rang from Zlin, Czech Republic. They talked about the progress made on the foundation work (Link). Also, they said that Mayo Clinic, USA personnel have gone through the post and appreciated how it was woven. Thanks to all for kind words.]