The Three Mousketeers

The bird, a nest;

The spider, a web;

Man, friendship.

William blake
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Discrimination

“What do you mean by discrimination?”

They were a bit surprised when they heard me start with this line instead of the Fundamental Lemma I promised to teach them today – quickly recovering, they said, “to see you differently”.

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You’re Winning, Everyday!

“I’ll win one day”.

This is a part of the letter a student of mine wrote me – a whole two page letter written by someone who’s put in a lot of effort to write in a language he doesn’t know – meant a lot to me!

Dear Friend, who wrote me the two page letter in Malayalam – with the magical hand that weaves poems in Tamil,

You’ve been winning all this way, in each second of extra effort you put in, for your willingness to believe and work hard to explore your full potential.

Thank you.

To all those whom I did not reply to – thank you for those personal wishes! Means a lot! I’m sorry, I will reply eventually – just had a very long day!

2D or Not 2D

Thing is, I ask myself everyday evening: write blog, watch movie, or study. It’s that I wish to write, keep writing these days. Yesterday’s master plan was to go out, have a cup of tea, come back, and write – either blog or notes for next class. Things were going smooth until bumped into RT on the way and she invited me home for dinner. I just let it go in its flow.

Morning was normal. I woke up, and had an sudden urge to play Sudoku, so started with a puzzle app I installed last night. I did some quality reading, prayed, listen to my all time fav song, until I reached mess – where, the stories of good old days of laziness came running to my mind – only to find myself wondering whether I can skip class (1st hour) sitting in mess at 8:25am – 5 minutes away from the class.

I had a good run from hall mess to department, and from there to sign, and back to class – just a minute late, still I got in. My legs were refusing to walk any fast, for my mind had set the pace for the day already.

During the walk, the question that echoed in my blog over and over again came running to my mind: Must I continue in teaching? Should I quit?

A few minutes into the class, Sunil sir was at the door. He called me out, and I was wondering – he never does that. I excused myself, and he had the news of the day – 34 government vacancies have been sanctioned, and there will be an interview soon.

I have cried for an interview all my life, but this was a little startling. Second I finished the class, guess where I ran to? To this blog.

I think I must revise a bit of analysis, algebra and fix on a topic I wish to teach in the mock setup.

Trust God and Relax.

Intermission

I always admired how skillfully TR handles people whom he’s got to say no to, like trying to convince him to excuse them for coming late for CAs, admission through recommendation etc.

For latecomers to CA, he would invite them in, let them sit, joke, laugh with them, and at last, when they make the final appeal, would just say, “Sorry, I can’t allow you in”. They are not hurt, would already be relieved of their tension, and would walk out with no bitter feeling.

For admissions, he’s more elaborate. He would, in many cases, call other colleges and recommend their name and send them off with some hope. I have seen him talk to them for much longer, sometimes, even leaving his class.

Knowledge is not always power. I saw him play this trick on me today, just to tell me no for PhD. As I feared, he said he wants to wrap up by his retirement, hence not interested in taking in new scholars. Second he started, I knew where he is taking it to, the curse of reading people. But I decided to make the best of the conversation – I explained my breadth and width of reading, thinking and expanse to which my little brain has traveled so far, few of which were trivial for him, yet he appreciated, smiled, kept the discussion alive.

Well, Sunil sir, who was right next to me, offered me to guide, if I am willing to wait for two more years. I politely told him that I wish not to make any hasty decisions now, fact that I am sure my decision might be slightly influenced my overflow of emotions minutes after discussion with TR.

I must say my policy towards praises, comments like “given your potential, don’t settle for anything low, man”, was always to ignore it – to avoid it getting into my head. It has been a constant fight with arrogance listening to such comments since childhood from proud parents of a Cyclopse, who watched their son survive despite their fears and his little challenge.

I respect TR for not excessively praising my abilities before smoothly telling no – he did not comment on my abilities, we talked neutral grounds like possible fields of research that might interest me.

For some reasons, I was not panicking. I was not at the verge of crying, or even worried a little. I stayed calm, except for hunger which distracted me a tiny bit, for I had forgotten about lunch among all these.

What next? Where do I go? Will I get a guide as good as him? Will I get a guide as praying as him? These questions must be worrying me, but unfortunately, they are not. It is God’s doing.

I am sure, in some later point of my life, I would picture this as a next denial, at least not a humiliating one – like last attempt for PhD, I think I have told that story elsewhere in the same blog.

All of a sudden, all my favourites from previous batch are texting me, engaging in conversation. I suspected foul play by Vivek, but they outright deny any temptation from Vivek to talk to me.

And melancholy echoes in my attempt to keep the conversation alive, I wish not to confess to them that I wish we continue our conversation tomorrow!

But it’s joy to talk to them. Hence I am withdrawing from here, will continue writing tomorrow.

Singing off (Slip of fingers, started to type signing off, anyway, Christmas carols are already echoing in my room, thanks to Ashley!)

The Wait

Pretext: Recipe for a Tasty PhD Scholar

I always disliked that article because I was just trying to show off my excitement, the “wrong kind” of excitement I always disliked. It oozes of my immaturity, and attempts to hide a fact known to me even when I was writing it – that this is not going to work out!

First nail in coffin me getting job in the very same department – thereby not eligible to join for full time PhD which I applied for – confirmation for which came a day after I joined.

To translate it for you, I can’t work and be a full time scholar – I got to join as part-time scholar, and that would require two years of experience. Two years, too long.

Then came the little information that as a Temporary Assistant Professor, our experience won’t be counted for PhD. The attempt to clarify that lead me to enough troubles. Pressure was mounting from brother-in-law and sister to try abroad for PhD, appealing to my super-brain they bet on always. “It’ll be a cakewalk for you”, they say.

I weighed ups and downs. A different kind of exposure did tempt me, but what do I achieve with such high degree? PhD, is a dream my dad injected in me. I do wish I can get the degree, but I’m in no hurry. I wanted to explore fields, take all the time, and find a field of my liking, and explore it further. But aiming high up in the sky would just mean a lot of hardwork, given the outcome I expect out of it, I don’t see much good coming out of it.

May be my entire thought process is summed up in this conversation with Buvana, a student-turned good friend, who aspires to fly abroad and is at the verge of it:

Buvana: What happened to your Quest for a Guide?
Me: Found Robinson. Stopped over dreaming.
Buvana: Which subject?!
Me: Whatever he suggests.
Buvana: That’s ultimate acceptance.

Well, that was few days before. Then I dropped a word of prayer, which is becoming an attraction these days, and gathered enough courage and talked to TR today, mentioned that “Sir, I’d like to discuss about PhD with you, fact that I have finished my 2-year experience period – when will be a good time?”

He was quick to say “May be tomorrow? I turned down everyone who came last two years, and I thought you didn’t want to continue with me”.

I said “No, sir, my concern was only about Image Processing becoming a legacy field of study given rise of AI, but I am open even to that now, having found interest reading in and around it”.

He again mentioned that he was rejecting people last two years, but ended the conversation saying we will talk about it tomorrow. But I was not overtly depressed on hearing that he’s not too inclined to the idea, and am left hanging for the verdict due tomorrow.

He’s undecided, from how it sounded, he hesitated to say no outright. That’s comforting, hence the only person I put up drama with is Buvana, who’s always been supportive.

What should be my approach to his decision in tomorrow’s conversation? Must I fight my case until I bleed? Or should I just accept his decision, no matter what – yes or no?

I’m tempted to complete submission to his age and wisdom, which was my policy all this while. Buvana was arguing for a fair discussion before I accept a no, and I think that sounded like a wise suggestion.

Then comes post-no scenario. I’ve been contemplating the possibility to snooze PhD for a while, meanwhile working on some solid papers in various fields (and working towards it, I have a starter paper idea in two fields). But that requires a lot of self-motivation and work.

Also, zero knowledge in publication sector is a huge drawback, too. I do not know where I should start and if my results are of any worth. I did upgrade myself in last two years – I developed the thinking process of coining problems which sounds valid according my knowledge so far, explore teaching more methodologically, and may be inspire some basic MSc-level research projects. But that’s no good enough for a PhD aspirant.

Anyway, if not to my blog, whom should I spill my mind to? It’s all hanging on a word of prayer tomorrow, and I am ready to face whatever path lies ahead of me.

Still, I cannot understand the peace, that calmness with which I am facing the entire issue. Every last time I was at peace like this, I saw God working wonders. I’ll just wait and see.

Signing off.

Me.

She makes me happy!

With all due respect, this is not proclamation of unspoken love to ever-speaking friend of mine!

Somehow, meeting Sarah makes me happy! In fact, the MCC bunch of those days, Nina, Hopes, Benji et al, somehow they make me happy!

The day I met Sarah in March, I must confess the world here now hasn’t seen me hyper enough like that ever – the good old days, when there was joy, overflowing!

I was bubbling with joy. When I’m happy, I radiate it, and I was just doing it – after ages! We talked like kids, we jumped around like kids, we played like kids!

And when I met the entire bunch for her wedding, I didn’t feel like I’m meeting them after years – they were just the same!

That’s unlike many I had met the same month after few years – they had their corporate ego to spill, clash, race for their coolness – while I felt left out, for I’m not in corporate sector earning nearly a lakh or two a month, yet cry about how much they struggle at the end of the month to meet their needs.

These people – Sarah and co – were just the same – a Zoologist might have become a doctor, Microbiologist a Theologian, Physicist become a Corporate counselor – except for Hope and me – Hope’s still Hope and I’m still a mathematician. And Nina too – she’s underwater (diver) and swims with dolphins most of the time, but still the same old Nina who’d play around with me!

They make me happy! I was yapping like a child, having a “verbal diarrhea” as Hope would say it, around them! These people did not seem to have changed a bit.

I realised that’s one of the golden reasons I always advocate against any job in corporate sector. Somehow, a lot of money brings about a lifestyle that makes you lose your true self – you start to live on a lot of things that you once wished you could achieve, showing it off though it all may break any second! May be that’s why my heart stopped a second when Jemima told she’s got job in an MNC. She did read it that very second, though I came up with lies enough.

Now when she said that the company, as a part of welcome training is getting them through a personality enrichment programme, to find their life’s purpose – and about the office culture and opinion from seniors – all I heard is how they are attempting to get people addicted to work and workplace. May be it’s my partial thinking – and hopefully I am wrong. But no matter what, I wish she grows above it all – not fall in their trap or the corporate culture, yet excel in her job, be wise enough to see things in a longer term, and stop, when it’s right time.

When Jemima told “Though I didn’t tell it explicitly, when they asked if we have a mentor, your name came to my mind”, I was happy. So much happy that I forgave myself for messing up the chalk I was carving, which has never happened in past (similar situation in past might have lead me to powder that chalk to finest dust possible in few seconds). You can see the chalk which survived my tempest for the first time, to the left. I must carve one again neatly soon.

Jocelyn told me that it’s Allen’s birthday, and I haven’t wished him yet though it’s in my mind as the next thing to do since morning.

Gayathri just withdrew from the entire world, I did offer her a hand, but she denied. Been there, done that – I think I must giver her the space she deserves. That phase everyone’s got to go through at some point of their life.

Off late, I feel much in demand to withdraw to a lonely place, and meditate. Lonely – a different place where no one would recognise me.

Any second now my new neighbour will come calling me for dinner. I will save all stories about him for a later post, for I am still watching the man with wonder – he’s a little childish, easily excited. Let’s wait and see what’s in store!

Good night!