This Is Called Frustration

Placements for our batch kicked off today, when Nagarro Software came to pick up pre-final year people from MCA and BE(CSE).

The CGPA cutoff was 7.77. Mine is a lowly 6.00.

Practically everyone from my batch who was above the cutoff submitted their CVs. About ten people attended the PPT (pre-placement talk, that is), and only four didn’t get frustrated through the process and gave both the logical reasoning and the technical written tests. After this, two were called for interviews- Amandeep Batra and Ravinder Kaur.

After discussing the tests with the people who took them, I once again regretted my low CGPA. These blokes, despite having CGPAs in stratospheric regions, knew practically nothing in the test. I, on the other hand, seemed to know the answers to the questions that particularly frustrated them.

This came out even more after the interviews- Batra forgot all about virtual functions and virtual classes and flubbed a question on semaphores while giving his interview, and Ravinder Kaur couldn’t remember that the 8-Queens problem is solved by backtracking and neither BFS nor DFS; or what friend functions are for.

In the meantime, I was hanging around the interview hall, coaching a bunch of people on interprocess communication and object oriented programming- people whose CGPAs are much superior to mine.

That’s the bad news. I don’t study, so I never make it pass the first hurdle – CGPA- for campus placement. Then I wind up coaching people who know much less than me, but have much higher CGPAs. And the most frustrating thing is that CGPA is the only thing making life difficult for me. I’m pretty sure I can top all the written tests and interviews, and put up a fair bit of fight in group discussions.

And now here’s the good news.

The best companies- Infosys, TCS, Maruti (though of course Maruti only takes Mech Engineers)- that come to TIET for placements don’t care for CGPA. They don’t put a minimum CGPA criterion at all. They take their own qualifying test. So, getting placed even in Infosys shouldn’t be too difficult for me- provided, that is, that Infosys comes to campus next year.

But, of course, there’s a more important issue to be addressed- should I go for placement at all? It’s all very confusing.

Mirza

Those of you who are fortunate or unfortunate enough not to be Punjabi by either birth or by nature wouldn’t know about Mirza.

Mirza and Sahiba, along with Heer and Ranjha, are the Punjabi equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. Circa 1500 AD, Mirza loved Sahiba, and for doing so, was pursued on horseback by about two thousand of her outraged relatives, who then proceeded to beat him to death with hockey sticks.

I’m not too sure how they got hockey sticks in 1200 AD, but I’m recounting the tale as best I can. I have heard various disparate versions from various disparate sources, and legends do tend to get a little embellished over time. It is quite possible that the incident took place later than 1200 AD, and that something more basic than hockey sticks were utilised, and that the number was closer twenty than two thousand. However, I wasn’t there, so I can’t say for sure.

However, one thing all the versions do agree upon is that Sahiba was a full-fledged, genuine Punjabi peasant girl.

The average Punjabi believes that the full-fledged, genuine Punjabi peasant girl is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. In this matter I find myself in disagreement with the average Punjabi. The full-fledged, genuine Punjabi peasant girl, after a lifetime of tucking into “two numbers aloo paranthas” and very often even more for breakfast, is the possessor of several cubic metres of backside, and usually has more facial hair than the average Punjabi peasant boy. For this reason, I find the whole Mirza-Sahiba affair even more tragic. If Mirza had been beaten up by two thousand people for falling in love with, say, Meg Ryan, or Preity Zinta, there would at least have been some point to the whole contretemps.

But anyway. Returning to the present moment.

The reason I bring Mirza up is that, as I recently told PP the Ironman, I am currently obsessed with the song Mirza from the American Desi soundtrack. It is one of those few songs- much in the manner of Mitwa from Lagaan- that makes you want to break out in dance immediately, whether you are on stage, in a car, on in front of your PC. It has an uncomplicated beat, and is full of joie de vivre. I plug it without reservation (and, no, I don’t get money for doing so).

Punjabi MC vs. Surinder Shinda- (American Desi)- Mirza. Get your hands on it.

Moving Out

(I’m not too sure when this was actually posted, because a bug in my CMS reset the post time to the time of the last comment. I’ve set the post date to 24 March 2003 to keep it in sequence.)

Disaster has befallen. My bua wants us to move to Sainik Farms.

Those of you who were subscribed to the W-Files about eight months ago would remember that I had discussed the terrible shape my current house’s plumbing is in- the pipes leak about 4000 litres of water a day (which fortunately, flows back into the ground- but it’s wastage anyway). I also mentioned that my family was keen to knock down the house, and rebuild it from scratch, and that Ishaan hoped that this task would be performed using vast quantities of high explosive.

What eventually emerged was that the house wouldn’t be knocked down and rebuilt from scratch, but merely have it’s insides knocked out and have the construction redone- no new foundation, or basement, or some such. In the interim period between the good old house and the new improved house, we would have been living in a rented house nearby- an ideal solution, in my opinion.

But, alas, not in my bua’s opinion.

I should mention that since as long as I can remember- and very probably since her early childhood- my bua has been obsessed with having a huge house with a huge garden. While she does not exactly aspire to live in Rashtrapati Bhavan one day- she will settle for nothing less than 2000 square yards. Her proclaimed idea of a good time is to sit in a garden and do nothing. I have some doubts as to the sincerity of this claim. She very rarely sits in a garden and does nothing- what she actually does is go to work early in the morning, come back in the evening and eat, and then watch soap operas on Star Plus while the rest of the family has dinner. But I digress.

Anyway, since reconstructing a house is stressful, and we can’t afford to expand the garden size there, my bua is now interested in moving to Sainik Farms.

Those of you not in Delhi should know a little bit of background about Sainik Farms. It’s a bunch of illegal farmhouses without farms. All these houses are huge, and most have huge gardens. They’re tailormade to my bua’s requirements. Also, since the whole place is unauthorised- the houses were just built without any sort of authorisation- they are cheap. 20 Megarupees for a 2000-2400square yard house built over two floors.

Unfortunately, Sainik Farms isn’t just in the middle of nowhere. It is nowhere.

Sainik Farms is just miles upon miles of huge houses behind ten-foot walls. The walls, by the way, are straight out of Pink Floyd’s The Wall– high, menacing, and forbidding, with shards of broken glass sticking out. The effect of surrounding a huge garden with such walls is to put you in mind of a lunatic asylum- lots of nice open space for the inmates to walk around in, but just you try to get out.

The roads are half-lane lightly tarred dirt tracks. Since it is illegal, there are no electricity or water connections, you have to pump out your own water and dump it back into the ground, and as for electricity, you buy it from a generator pool at almost ten rupees a unit. There are no markets, one can easily get lost on the way to one’s own home, and half the people living there are smugglers.

It’s not that I’m very attached to my current house (I am, but we’ll discuss that later), but I can state with no small amount of emphasis that I do not want to move to Sainik Farms. It takes a minimum of twenty minutes- in a car- just to get from your gate to the main road. By contrast, here at my current home in Safdarjung Enclave, I can be at Ishaan or Rishi’s house in three minutes on foot, the local market in ten minutes, and a bigger market- Green Park- in half an hour- or ten minutes if driving. From my house, I can hear, on a good day, three rock bands practicing in the neighbourhood. If you ever hear anything in Sainik Farms other than the Sounds of Silence, it’s the noise of generator sets. Behind my house, there is a small park where the neighbourhood kids play badminton and goggle at me in stunned stupefecation as I pass them by. As I have already mentioned, in Sainik Farms at least half your neighbours are smugglers who wouldn’t think twice about mowing you down with their Jaguars or BMWs.

And as far as greenery and gardens are concerned- my house is ten minutes away from both Deer Park and Nehru Park- several square kilometres of foliage stretching to the horizon, and you don’t even have to bother about the upkeep- the Municipal Committee does that for you.

Fortunately, my father would rather buy a house in Sainik Farms, if at all, as an intermediary, and move about five years later to some place like Friends Colony. That’s better than Sainik Farms, but even there, in deference to my Bua’s wishes, the house will be on at least one thousand six hundred square yards, with lots of garden.

It seems that I am fated, as I move through life, to move to larger and larger houses, and smaller and smaller communities. At the tender age of two, my nuclear family became a joint family when my parents moved out of Azad Apartments to the family house in Safdarjung Enclave. The resultant deprivation of stimulating people that I faced is the probable reason that my social skills were set back ten years- it was not until as recently as six years ago that I started to look people in the eye when I talked to them.

Now, just when I had adapted to my circumstances, and come up with the brilliantly pro-social concept of the W-Fillets, I am to move to a place where my chances of interaction with other people reduce even further, sacrificed to a garden. Instead of friends and family, I will be surrounded by flowers. When I want stimulating discussion, I will have to hold conversations with vegetables instead of gabbing with iCow until three in the morning. It makes me sick.

Other People’s Memories

Ishaan has been asking me for some time to collect photos of his farewell from whomsoever might be in Delhi, scan them and let me have them for his site..

Rishi provided about four photos, and Zubin provided none, claiming he didn’t have any of passable quality. Sabina and Naomi provided not only photos, but also their slambooks this week.

Yesterday, I leafed through their slambooks and basked in a warm glow of nostalgia. Then I felt like a bit of a bastitch for doing so.

I don’t know aobut other people here, but I take memory very seriously. I guess Sabina and Naomi don’t find their slambooks all that private if they lent them out unasked for in the first place, but personally, it felt like a violation of other people’s private memories to go through them. After all, what’s written in a slambook has been written specifically towards the posessor thereof. I do enjoy sharing my meories, but only at times places, and with people of my choosing. If I had a slambook, I’d have a few reservations of just putting it in an envelope and giving it somebody for him to form his own memories.

Then again, maybe it’s just three years of objectt oriented programming taking over and insisting that everything be classified into public, private and protected. A blog is public, but a slambook is private.

And counterpoint again- if a slambook is actually as private as I think it is- it’s gratifying that people have enough faith in me to trust me with their private memories.

But still, I am very glad that I only leafed through and didn’t actually read any of the entries full blast.

Wedding Bells IV

Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.- Goethe

The gods gave man fire and he invented fire engines.  They gave him love and he invented marriage.- Anonymous

Insanity is considered a ground for divorce, though by the very same token it is the shortest detour to marriage.- Wilson Mizner

Marriage is for insecure people. (Chapati or Chips, by Nisha Minhas)

Marriage is just a way of getting out of an embarrassing pause in conversation. (Four Weddings and a Funeral)

What with Vishal’s wedding, and the wholehearted disappointment among Dubyaphiles that he wasn’t marrying the airportgirl, I have been pondering the whole concept of marriage.

Concerning the four people who got married while I was in Class X and XI- one marriage has already ended, another is in dire straits, and two are sailing along with no indication of trouble. That’s only a 50% success rate.

After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that marriages, and for that matter, all interpersonal relationships of all sorts fail due to mental laziness- not using your imagination enough.

To start with, most people I’ve seen- especially in Punjab- don’t give any thought to marriage. They just do it, without considering why they’re doing it. Practically everyone in my batch out here in Patiala plans to get married within five years of graduating. Why? Because it’s the expected thing. So far, so good. As long as you’re just doing the expected thing and conforming to stereotype, there aren’t many chances of things going wrong. But, alas, Murphy’s Law has to be factored in.

While getting married because that’s the way it’s always been done may have worked fifty, twenty, or even ten years ago, it won’t work any longer. The primary reason for this is cheap, ubiquitious and constant cable television, and the Internet.

A hundred years ago, the only way to stimulate your imagination was to read books. Fifty years ago, you could also go to the movies. But you can’t go to the movies everyday, and very few people take the time to read. But now there’s cable television- which, unlike both movies and books, pushes content right to you, and does it all the time. And after ten or fifteen years of low-grade mental stimulation, even the most unimaginative person is going to want adventure and excitement and really wild things from his or her life. And when he or she finds that he’s not getting it from his or her marriage, trouble will start brewing.

And the entire tragedy is that then thing which started problems- imagination- is also the only thing that can fix it. You need imagination to appreciate adventure and excitement and really wild things when they aren’t there, but- and here’s the important thing- you also need imagination to create adventure and excitement and really wild things. Once you’ve crossed the very important threshold of wanting to make your life wonderful and interesting, all you need is imagination and a little initiative to actually do so. But instead of taking the next step and coming up with a solution to the problems, people get scared. They’ve found that imagination has opened up a Pandora’s Box, so they don’t use it anymore. And that’s a bad thing, because then the problems just stay and simmer.

Every youth survey published in the past few years has stated that a majority of people claim that they want their parents or extended families to arrange their marriages for them because they’re so busy concentrating on their careers that they have no time for romance in their life. The inference- that they want romance, but they aren’t willing to go out and make it, but want it handed to them on a plate- is very scary. Even more so, when you consider that in India most people take the jobs and career paths they get- not the ones they’re most suited for or passionate about. If you’ve got- for lack of a better word- romance in your job, you’ll probably be able to create it in your marriage too. But if all you’ve got is a vacuum, something’s got to collapse inwards soon, and chances are it’ll be you or your marriage.

So, what do we have until now? Oh yes. First, people get married because getting married is a family tradition- everyone’s been doing it for thousands of years, so why rock the boat. But, due to excessive cable TV and other cultural stimulants, they think they’re doing it because they’re in love, or so that they can infuse their lives with romance and wonder and excitement. However, due to mental laziness, very few people actually use their imaginations and work towards the actual infusion. The net result is that they become disillusioned and the marriage enters dire straits. Then they become miserable, their kids become miserable, and everybody around them becomes miserable.

So you can remedy the situation in three ways. Firstly, don’t get married. More and more people are doing this, and more power to them. You don’t need marriage for companionship when you have your friends, it’s economic benefits are pretty irrelevant in this day and age, and as far as sex is concerned, hatheli zindabad! Marriage is one of the most unimaginative things you can do. It’ll lock any relationship you might have with a person into a set pattern, and prevent true innovation.

Alternately, lose any illusion that marriage is romantic. What it is, is an agrarian age economic institution designed to prevent wealth from leaking away. You can make it romantic if you want to, but you can make anything romantic if you want to. Witness the W-Fillets- they make a drab and dreary existence living among the Punjabis seem interesting. Get married if you feel societal pressure or familial pressure to do so, but don’t expect your marriage to provide you with adventure and excitement and really wild things. Those are totally dependent on you.

Or finally, use your illusion, and go all out and bring on the excitement and adventure and really wild things yourself. Since this is easier said than done- people can’t even do it with their day to day lives- I would not recommend this at all to most of the readers of these Fillets. Not unless you’re already passionate about life and whatever you do.

Everybody else, just don’t get married. Your marriage will just become a wall between you and everyone else. It’ll become a meaningless substitute for any genuine achievement you’re capable of accomplishing. Don’t go there. It’s not worth it.

Cold Showers

I had my first cold water bath of the year yesterday.

Some of you might think I’m doing it a bit early. The majority of you will probably think I’m doing it very late.

While I’m not as extreme a hot water fanatic as Zubin- who reputedly has hot water baths well into June- I do admit that I like my weather and water warm. And as you will just have noticed, I also like alliteration, but that’s beside the point. Right now. Anyway. Coming back. Yes, hot water.

Apparently, I take after my maternal grandmother, who feels chilly even on Midsummer Night. While the rest of us are sweating buckets, she stacks blankets on top of herself.

While I’m not as extreme as Nani either, I admit that I don’t really feel the heat. I sweat so little that I actually enjoy the sensation when it comes. I go to my drawing room and bask in the sun, waiting for little drops to sweat to trickle down behind my ears and cool the bits of skin that get extra heat because of the insulation provided by my hair. This is something that even the rest of my family, who are equally, and in some cases, more insane than me, find weird and astonishing.

So, yes, a cold water bath at this particular time of the year- I started wearing only T-shirts just today- is something out of the ordinary for me. Here’s how it went.

I came home, suffering from the agonies inflicted upon me by evil deluxe bus conductors (see W-Fillet #12 for details) and decided to ease my pain with a bath. I also decided that it might as well be the first cold one of the year, since Delhi’s quite warm, especially compared to Patiala.

In the process of preparations- getting towel, fresh clothes, et cetera- I discovered that my brother, in conformance to his odd fetish, has kept only Dettol in the bathroom. I approve of Dettol for the washing of hands before meals, but using it to bathe with is ridiculous. A shower is something I now get only once every two weeks (why, oh why, did I move out of hostel B), and I intend to make it a pleasurable and sensuous experience, by Jupiter! A short trip to my parents’ bathroom, from where I retrieved a cake of Biotique plum-scented Aurvedic soap fixed that particular problem. Then I got down to work.

I can tell you, it wasn’t easy going. The minute I stepped under the shower, symptoms of analyptic shock stunned me. I stepped back, repelled by the water. Then, gamely, I tried again. Alas, it was with the same results.

After about two minutes of stepping gingerly into and out of the water stream, I decided enough was enough. I turned off the shower, and applied soap and shampoo. Then I turned the water back on, and stepped right back in.

Wooooooohh!! Wooh-wooh! Coldcoldcold! Ahhhh… refreshing!

What a wonderfully delicious sensation. After two weeks of mixing cold and hot water in buckets in my dingy hostel bathroom, and sloshing water over myself with mugs, this was a welcome change. The water literally blasted the lather off me, and presumably exfoliated any dead skin particles that may have been present. I stepped out of the bath with a glowing mood, not to mention a glowing complexion.

Now that I have restocked my bathroom with the essentials- Liril lemon shower gel (with loofah)- no more Dettol!- and Biotique Green Apple Shampoo- I anticipate that bathing will join breakfast as one of the most pleasurable pastimes home has to offer. Perhaps, like breakfast itself, bathing will become a twice-daily activity for me. If all my baths are as good as the one I had yesterday, I’ve got no complaints.

Deluxe Buses

That’s it. No more deluxe buses.

You get wonderfully wide and soft reclining seats, the bus travels much faster and stops at Haryana Tourism Panipat instead of some obscure dhaba for the food break, and this is quite a good deal even at double price.

But is it really worth it when they’re going to show Dil To Pagal Hai all the way from Ambala to the Delhi bypass?

This was the third time I’ve been able to catch a deluxe bus. The last time I did, they showed Ghayal- a movie purists would scoff at, certainly- but when you’re going home after two weeks, watching Sunny Deol bring about the timely demises of villainous scoundrels has a certain charm to it- especially if you have a packet of Nutyumz with you.

And the first ever occasion I traveled by deluxe bus, they showed Saudagar. Since all I had after buying the ticket was the princely sum of two rupees and fifty paise, I had to watch Saudagar on an empty stomach- something not very advisable, condiering Saudagar is the movie that brought the phrase ‘ilu-ilu’ to an unsuspecting and unprepared populace. But- at least Saudagar had blood feuds. And Manisha Koirala. So I soldiered through bravely.

But Dil to Pagal hai? That’s evil. It’s psychological warfare, it is. What kind of sadistic fiend derives pleasure in inflicting Shah Rukh Khan and Chopratrash on people- that, too, in a moving bus?

Fortunately, I had Nutyumz to see me through, and keeping the window open attenuated the sounds of Shah Rukh Khan’s incessant blathering and Karishma Kapoor’s caterwauling to some extent, but I have suffered, oh how I have suffered.

So that’s it. No more deluxe buses. Who needs cushioned seats anyway?

Dipping IQ

I’ve been practicing sample CATs. I’ve been consistently getting scores around the 80-85% mark- always half to two points short of ideal scores.

Though my scores will probably improve with more practice, this is a bit worrying, since I had been getting 90-95% in sample CATs and GREs I had given in first year, and that was without sitting down with a strategy and pencils and scratch paper- I would just go and give the exam. Evidently, my aptitude and IQ have actually decreased after two and a half years of university education.

Taking all factors into account, there are two theories to explain this- the first is that the more you specialise, the more your general intelligence and aptitude decrease. In other words, by the time you get a PhD, all you’ll be good for is the subject of your PhD. For everything else, such as tying your shoelaces, and inhaling oxygen, you’ll be dependent on other people.

The other theory is that stupidity is contagious, and I’ve been catching it ever since I started college. This theory is supported by the fact that many people in my batch are morons. And if that wasn’t enough, my university is sistuated in Punjab, that land of sardars- a nonhuman species whose members are capable of rupturing their appendices instead of breaking their bones when they fall off rikshas; and who would rather have chicken wings than drink wine off Yana Gupta’s legs.

Hence Proved….

Wedding Bells III

This is a bit late. In fact, this is very late. More than a week. My apologies. I’ve been so busy doing things that I’ve had no time to write about them.

All right. Wedding Bells was supposed to be a three part series, but due to the very interesting reception, it’s now four part. Taking into account the fact that the wedding itself had been so utterly boring, I had told Anuj that I expected the reception to be no better. n00j, ever the optimist, said you never knew, and that something might happen.

It did, and how!

Moments after we arrived at the venue of the reception, one of the caterer’s gas cylinders exploded.

An exploded gas cylinder is a sight not to be missed, especially when the gas has already been burning. The gas first rushes out with a whistling noise and then goes kaboom. After that, it burns off with a spectacular flame, resembling the burning tapers one associates with Egyptian pyramids in B-grade movies, but on a larger scale. In other words, an inverted cone of flame, about three or four feet high. After that, it burns steadily, illuminating the nearby trees, and after five minutes, the flame finally subsides reluctantly, allowing the caterers to return to their business of preparing Fish Tikka and Stuffed Aloo (which, I might mention, were only two of the utterly superlative snacks on offer that night).

A beginning like that sets the tone. The reception turned out to be one of the most interesting social gatherings I have attended in recent times.

There was free booze on offer, which prompted me to drink, after about four and a half years of abstinence. I promised myself not to exceed two Bloody Marys. As a matter of fact, I never even went beyond one, mostly because I was too busy eating. However, other people were not as restrained as I was. Over the course of the evening, I was accosted by no less than four very drunk strangers, who were presumably impressed by my striking good looks and gorgeous attire. The worrying fact is that they were all male. A facsimile of the first, and most interesting of these encounters is provided below.

Middle Aged Gent: Hello.
Aadisht (assuming that MAG is an obscure relative whom he should know): Hello.
MAG: What’s your name?
A: Aadisht.
MAG: Aadit?
A (realising that MAG is not a relative, and also extremely drunk): Yes.
MAG: Aadit! What a beautiful name!
A: Thank you.
MAG: I wish I could have a son. Then I would call him Aadit.
A (amused): Thank you.
MAG (abruptly changing topic): Are you married.
A: No.
MAG: Good. Never get married. (points to wife) She dominates me.

At this point, I moved away hurriedly.

I’ve mentioned before that the catering was superlative, but I’ll mention it again. It bears repetition. The brides parents, who in addition to being dumb-looking, possessed of foul siblings involved in active politics, and pure vegetarians, also have no sense of judgment, had selected absolutely rotten caterers for the wedding itself. In addition to the whole mamaji and LK Advani fiasco, and the fact that there was no last-minute substitution of bride or groom, the food that night had turned to ashes in my mouth. By contrast, the caterers at the reception were, to quote Ron Weasley, bloody brilliant. The Tempura Fish, the Stuffed Aloo, the Subzi Rangbirangi, and the multifarious species of chicken tikka on offer were just a teaser to one of the greatest dinners I have ever eaten. The caterers knew their stuff. The Italian cuisine on offer was not just pasta dumped out of a packet into a tawa to be deep fried in mustard oil, but something as close to the genuine article I have ever eaten outside of Flavors (under the Defence Colony flyover). The salmon steak was the best fish preparation I have ever eaten in Delhi, and the third best ever (the first two being butter fish at a wedding in Calcutta, and fried crab and fish curry at a beach shack in Goa). Of course, this is not to detract or demean the Indian stuff on offer, which, after two weeks of hostel food and insipid catering, brought me a little closer to heaven. The full bodied texture and warm sweetness of the gulab jamuns is something which still produces a frantic itching at the tip of my tongue.

Of course, I needed several glasses of Eno once I reached home, and I was so stuffed that not even the DJ playing Kaliyon Ka Chaman could induce me to come on to the dance floor- a Herculean task that only the Tomato Song could manage- but I have no regrets. It would have been a travesty and an insult to the chefs not to have eaten as I did.

All in all, one of the most enjoyable evenings I have spent this semester.

Coming soon: Wedding Bells IV, which will finish the series and comment on the entire concept of marriage.

Sign Language

Simran Stores has this banner up on display:

GRAND OFFER!!! 3 PAIRS LADIES FOR 500 RUPEES ONLY

Imagine that.