To do that ... I happen to write!

Monday, 24 May 2010


A yummy Poha stall outside Udaipur Bus Stand

Something which I terribly missed during my 4 year stay at Delhi. 

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

AIIMS and IIT: Random Coversation

Central Lawn of AIIMS

Background Info: AIIMS is considered as one of the most prestigious medical colleges in India. Out of 100,000 students who sit for its entrance exam (MBBS): 77 get selected making it THE hardest college to get into, in the entire WORLD. Full Info at Wiki.
Recently, I was in AIIMS catching up with one of my friends there. His room was to die for, especially in the scorching Delhi heat (for those of you who don't know - every student living in AIIMS gets an AC in his/her room!) After the initial jubilation of meeting after several years was over, we got down to talking.

TND: Top Notch Doc
TNE: Top Notch Engg. (ha!)

TND: "If you take the brand AIIMS away and compare it with any other medical college - there would be hardly any difference between the two..."

TNE: "That is surely becoming true even for the IITs"

TND: "Initially AIIMS was supposed to be a research institution, possibly restricted only for postgraduate studies; but with growing pressure - you can see the AIIMS of today."

TNE: "That is, as far as I know, true even for the IITs.What is the structure of AIIMS?"

TND: "There are students - we, who until their final year concentrate mostly on theory and observing patients. In our final year we have do an intern - right here - in AIIMS, where we treat patients in OPD. Then there are residents who are the busiest people around here - they treat patients, they do research and they help us. Then there is faculty who after years and years of such tough life like to play it a little cool. But then they have a lot of higher end stuff to do..."

TNE: "We regularly hear that one has to wait infinitely long before he/she gets treated at AIIMS. What is the actual story?"

TND: "
I think the pressure on AIIMS is just too much. The line for OPD starts from 6:30 AM in the morning. The window finally opens at 8:30 - and you get cards issued for the morning shift till 10 AM. Then you wait for 2-3-4 hours for your turn before the doctor sees you. If you are lucky you are in the doc's room for about 5 mins. Each resident looks at approx 100 patients in a 4 hour morning shift. With that quantity - quality ought to go down. Not in terms of how we treat patients but in how much research are we able to produce..."

TNE (picking up a book on Dermatology and STDs): "You know, I have always been in awe of doctors - I wonder why people always forget medical schools when they talk about the India of 21st century; why do they always concentrate on IITs or IIMs..."

TND: "You surely don't want to read that book before going to Dinner"

TNE (Opens the book, flips through it): "Eeekkkkkkkk"

TNE (After catching his breath again): "I am changing the topic rather abruptly, but I always had this doubt - Do people who come from reserved quote make equally good doctors?"

TND: "Look, not all people who come from general quota become good doctors - and similarly all people who come from reserved category do not necessarily make bad doctors. The ratio might be slightly skewed but then again - the bias you might have has no standing"

TNE: "Hmm. So even here, are there people who study just before exams, or do you guys have to be very regular?"

TND: "Well there exist both kinds of people - many of them study just before exams and others study throughout the year. You cannot check everything a person knows during exam. And what would be asked in an exam can always be predicted. So people who study throughout the year might not have a great edge over others in exams, but then they definitely make better doctors 10 years down the line"

TNE: "Man, that is so true. So what after MBBS?"

TND: "Post Doc"

TNE: "India?"

TND: "Yups"

TNE: "Do people go out?"

TND: "Earlier 30% people used to go out, now it has come down to 10-15%"

TNE (coming out from a deep thought): "You say your curriculum is theory based and does not check the practical knowledge one might have - I mean how can that be possible: You people are doctors for god's sake. You would actually treat patients one day. You are not phony people like us..."

TND: "
When I said about our curriculum being all theory, I believe I meant only the written exams stuff and nothing else. We do have a practical aspect (as you said we are doctors here and do treat patients). We have morning postings in the Wards/OPD from 9:30 AM to 1 PM 5 days a week and we learn about patient care from the residents and faculty. When I said that the residents have it rough I did not mean that the Faculty does nothing. They also teach us but they are also very busy in patient care, research projects, conferences and writing scientific papers. We also have regular assessments of our practical skills in the form of ward leaving assessments (Practical exams and viva-voce at the end of our posting in each department) and the marks count towards our final exams.So you need not worry. But definitely things can be improved - everyone knows that they can be improved but no one does anything to change them..."

TNE: "Man, the story is exactly the same everywhere"

TND: "Infact, our performance throughout MBBS plays no role in the college we get for the post doc; it depends only on the marks we get in the exam for post doc."

TNE: "Ah this is little arbit"

TND: "No actually, I think we are being too critical about the system just because we have got everything right. Like
what you study here in 5.5 years is definitely of great use when you write the post doc exam, the only thing is: there is no direct co-relation between the two..."

TNE: "Yups. AIIMS has got to be one of the best places you can do your medical schooling from, but I guess the point we are making is - despite of that we should not become callous and should continue improving. Everyday...



We engineers lead a fairly simple life. So there should be absolutely no reason why should we sit back and just observe the sorry state of affairs. As far as Doctors are concerned - I guess, they do an extremely difficult job: afterall, what can be more difficult than dealing with life, and death - everyday...


Some other interesting bits of conversation

TNE: "I've been thinking since last 1 hour - What does OPD stand for"
TND: "Out Patient Department"
TNE: "Man - that is so counter-intuitive!"

TNE: "Are there girls in AIIMS"
TND: "1:5. And all good ones get taken early"
TNE: "We live 1:10 - Imagine our plight!"


I put his Rs 9000/- Stethoscope to my ear and I cannot but tell you the child like delight I felt. It was the first time I heard my own heart beat. Hearing the beat of life literally gave me shivers. I vicariously felt like being a doctor...saviors of life...mortal Gods.

Is there some law which says: if you hear your own heart beat, it becomes faster?

Doc chose to answer this rhetorical question:
The heartbeat does get faster and skips a few beats if you listen to it consciously.


TNE: "How are your Profs?"
TND: "Oh they are very difficult"
TNE: "Difficult!"
TND: "Ah - sorry - Profs is short form for our exams called professionals"THE : ":O"

~~~ The End~~~

Post Blogging Discussions: Thanks to
the friend for painfully going through the entire thing and helping me correct the facts. I had got some of them terribly wrong. Apologies. I guess responsible journalism is difficult ~

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

42 Things to do before you graduate from IIT Delhi

IIT Delhi - like never seen before (from the roof of our lab in charge)
  1. Make friends. Get close to them. Let the boundaries dissolve. Let the ego melt. Trust them. Understand them. Let them be what they are. Be what you are  
  2. Fall in love. But don't let your boyfriend/girlfriend cut you off from the remaining world.
  3. Do atleast one course with absolute interest, such that it brings sparks to your eye whenever you think about that course.
  4. Find a mentor (senior/professor). Get friends with him/her.
  5. Climb on the hyperbolic-parabolic roof. Lie down facing stars. Hear soft music
  6. Go and sleep on your hostel roof, when it's too hot or when it's drizzling. Don't get caught.
  7. Write a personal mail to each and everyone who has touched your life in last 4 years. Thank them.
  8. Go to the Himalayas with your friends on a challenging trekking expedition. It strengthens your friendship.
  9. Participate in some highly competitive cultural activity: Inter Hostel, Rendezvous etc...Atleast go for the audition. You will never get a chance to experience such fear again; and an opportunity to overcome it.
  10. Participate in some highly competitive sports activity: Basketball, Water Polo, Hockey. Try playing rough and soft; for yourself and for your team. Experience how different emotions does each thing arouse in you and others.
  11. Go to Chandni Chowk: Eat chaat, parantha, lassi, sweets and kulfi. (Some of my visits: Chawari Bazzar , Chandani Chowk ) 
  12. Surprise your parents/close relatives with a surprise visit. Invite them to IIT Delhi; especially during some festival. Introduce your friends to them. Give them a chance to relive their college life.
  13. Treat freshers (and all juniors) with love and respect.
  14. Go and visit the house of all your close friends. Talk to their parents, siblings. Dine with them. It strengthens your bonding.
  15. Blog about your experiences, feelings, ideas: anonymously or otherwise. Express yourself.
  16. Get access to the IRD conference room and sneak through a door to its right. You will find yourself on the unexplored Insti Roof of IIT Delhi. Don't get caught.
  17. Do a fascinating project. Something you always dreamed of doing since your childhood. Give the project everything. Years will not be able to fade the joy of working on your own ideas. I have heard people who graduated 10-15 years back talk with child-like joy about their college projects.
  18. Visit Delhi University (of course find someone who you can talk to, once there!). Apart from other things, they are awesome in their right brains where we suck, and can teach you a thing or two about arts and literature among others...
  19. Buy a good camera. Develop a good sense of photography. Take a lot of picture of your friends throughout your stay here. Have a friend who can take a lot of equally good pictures of you. But don't get obsessed with it.
  20. Watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S
  21. Talk to Juniors. See where IIT Delhi's future is going. Relive your past.
  22. Devote yourself to at least one organization within IIT Delhi. (For me it was Technocracy)
  23. Get out of your comfort zone: visit slums in Delhi. Work with an NGO/NPO.
  24. Write an anonymous letters to a professor in the middle of a course: Critically comment on his/her teaching methods and how can they be improved. Note the professor's reaction in the classes onwards. If there is no difference write another letter.
  25. Go to India Gate with your guitar (or someone who can play guitar well) and your friends. Sing songs till wee hours.
  26. Talk to people about their dreams. Things they are really passionate about. Discuss with them things which you are really passionate about.
  27. See people getting wasted. Make a complete fool of yourself: once.
  28. Try penning down a paper. It needn't be a core technology paper. It can be something on Environment, Literature, state of education in India...Just try to write an essay at some competition...especially about something you like doing. It makes you introspect a lot.
  29. Put a night out at Wind-T when the weather is nice and breezy. Spend it reading a book you like.
  30. Write examination for someone else. Don't dare get caught.
  31. India is a very diverse country. Your peers are the best people who can educate you about real India. Talk to them about it. Ask them to tell about their city. Discuss the problems you think India is facing and it's solutions. Discuss each others religious believes. Try to understand others religion.
  32. Don't get ill. The simple way of doing it is: Get regular sleep. Eat proper food. Exercise. I didn't do either in my 1st year. I was constantly ill. After I started doing all of these things: I haven't been ill even once from last 3 years.
  33. For once in a while, do what other tell you to do. Let them decide. Let them lead. Enjoy the joy of having no responsibilities.
  34. Develop a habit of questioning. Try to find how can you do it in a polite way so that you don't put people on their defensive. We Indians, as a culture, ask very little. Change that.
  35. Talk to kids who are yet in their school. Visit your school sometimes. Talk to principal. Don't worry - you will always be treated very highly. It will bring back all the fond school memories.
  36. Don't do all spartan stuff. Do things in group. Even when you watch movie or TV try to do it in a group. You will anyways watch movies alone for the rest of your life.
  37. Do some part time job. Don't do something boring on computers. Go out and do some intern/teaching/journalism/marketing etc. Do something where you will meet a lot of new people completely different from what you get to meet here. Don't make this work your priority. Just try it for 1-2 months. Don't do it without good pay.
  38. Play kho-kho near WindT. And also all those childhood games: Vish-Amrit, Unch-Neech, Tipi Tipi Top, Chain Chain, Sitolia etc.
  39. Try appreciating things. It's hard to do that. Give people credit for what they are doing. They will do better. If you feel things are not upto mark - give them suggestions; don't criticize them.
  40. Carve out time for yourself each day. Think about your goals, priorities, mistakes etc.
  41. Hunt for home food. Day scholars make excellent preys.
  42. Decide a date when all of your closest friends will meet, once a year, on a vacation trip. This is something you should do on the last day, the day when you are leaving IIT Delhi. For ever. (We have gone to several places, some of them being: Laddakh, Har ki Dun & Dodital)  

    These 4/5 years are never going to return. Ever. You will never be a free bird again. Enjoy your freedom. Responsibly. And do something that justifies your belonging to this institute. To the least, become a good human and a good citizen.

    Dream. Dare. Do.

    Also 50 things to do at MIT
    PS: Janta - you are welcome to extend the list. To agree, to disagree with the things said. I hope several things written here go beyond IITD and apply to college life everywhere...
    Later Additions based on suggestions from people:
  1. Have a "pen" friend in a far away IIT to be able to understand a different perspective, to be able to tell things the way you want to (Surbhi, IITM)
  2. Have a "pen" friend from far-far away world
  3. Help someone in dire need, may not be a friend. you'll feel good about it... and there will be someone who'll remember you forever... (Naman, IITM)
  4. Go and ring the bell at the top.....the one that tolls only at graduation.....and yes - don't dare get caught :D (Anshul, IITD)
  5. Savor the food of Sassi and Tankush. Chances are that you will get ill but past experiences say that you will not. So do it (Abhishek, IITD)
  6. Somehow sneak (possibly with your girlfriend!) to Bharti Roof. Watch the sunrise/sunset Anonymous
  7. Meet a really special girl at your social. Have a great time. Let her go. (dunno if let her go = ditch her!) Anonymous

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Let there be Tranparency

"Yaar, there is too much work as of now..."
"Why - I guess all the competitions have ended?"
"Yes, but trophies still need to be decided"
"But the competitions have ended"
"Yes, but trophies aren't yet decided"
"That doesn't make sense"
" :) "

- Week1, March 2010

The institute night (called BHM) is approaching and winners are to be awarded. But it isn't yet decided who are going to be winners! Next 2 weeks are going to be devoted to intense round of negotiations to decide winners. Winning competitions round the year is not sufficient. You need to master politics! Ah, my IIT Delhi.

Those who get trophies during the negotiation are happy. Those who don't - think that they will negotiate better the next time. Everyone cribs about the system. Anyone has the power to change the system. No one does. The system continues. Ah, my powerless IIT Delhi.

Let me clarify the point once more: Passion oozes from people when they are competing. And winning definitely plays the major role in deciding the winners. But that's not all. This last line is what bothers me a lot.


"Today is the last date of submission. And every day you get late in submitting your term paper will see that 5 marks are deducted from your total marks"

"Attendance if for 10 marks"

"How did you present in the presentation was immaterial. How much of theory did you put in was important. That's how I am marking you"

- All dialogues belong to nearly last week of the semester and were never recited even ONCE during the whole semester

Professors are equally messed up in deciding clear policies. If they are first timers, I guess that's understandable. But when you have been teaching for x years: you are expected to know that students loose track of their priorities.

Students must attend all classes. O'course. Students must submit assignment before the last date. O'course. But why make all the reward and punishment rules on the last day itself. If such is the case what then gives teachers the authority to say that students do all the work at last minute!


One thing that dearly impressed me about TOYOTA was one of its management principles which said:

Use Visual Control so no problems are hidden

So tell me. Why can't each board and each course maintain an excel sheet which is updated every week?

Suppose you were to present your term paper on 2nd February. You didn't. Your marks on excel sheet show that you've got a zero. It's non-negotiable. Do you think that remaining people in the class would give their presentations on time?

Suppose attendance is daily updated. And so are the marks associated with it. I can just SEE my status. I don't have to keep running to the prof to keep asking him. It makes life easy for everyone.

Suppose you win an event in dance. Your hostel points shoot up. Suppose you have x articles accepted for publication in BSP. Your hostel get points accordingly. Immediately. The excel sheet shows that. The whole institute can see that. When the year will end all you would need to do is to sum up the points and see which hostel has most of them. No negotiations. No politics.


The gist of entire thing is this: When you use visible tools to express and monitor day to day performance of individual/hostel: all the problems will surface at once.

The main reason people don't do it is either because

  1. They can't decide in advance what rules to make. They just aren't gifted enough.

  2. They want to remain powerful by having the negotiating powers. They want to favor friends. They want people to come to them and beg.
Remember days when we used to prepare for JEE: wasn't test rank and instant feedback on our performance useful? Didn't it motivate us to take correcting steps?

In the beginning there will be clashes. There will be a certain level of inconvenience. An unsettling feeling. But this happens with every change. However, over a period of time things will smoothen out; people will being to respect the system and everyone will be able to divert their energy to better cause. Or probably to just enjoy, get time to chill out: to study.

Let there be Transparency