Monday, May 31, 2010

Uttarakhand Tourism

Just uploaded some photographs of my 14 Day Trip to Haridwar, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Mussoorie, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Rishikesh on facebook. Along with doing some good work, visiting some temples, enjoying nature and having some interesting philosophical discussions, I tried to learn some photography as well.

Link for the photographs is here

I will use this space to cheer for the Uttarakhand Government for the great tourism development in their state. Looks like the economy of the state is driven by tourism, at least in these 4 months. shows the great work that they are doing. However I still do not understand some things. I am hoping that a localite would read this and answer.

1) Why are "Prayags" (Meeting point of two rivers) not developed as tourist spots? Two rivers, one grey, one green in colour meet at a point and form a beautiful scene. I could capture one of the prayags out of the 5 great prayags forming the Panchprayag. I am sure government and the people would be earning more if they were developed as tourist spots?

2) Why don't they put iron hashed or criss-cross barricades in temples? Don't they know that anyone can just cross an iron bar or a rope? Is it some sort of loophole left so that the pandits can get some extra income by allowing their people to get inside?

3) These mandirs have a lot of money. They spend crores of money on organisation and temple management. Why can't they hire trained people? Why do I not see an MBA from IIMA employed at the top temples of the country. They can easily pay them more than what McKinsey is paying. Why do our temples and its management still rely on pandits?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Purpose of Life - Version II

I wrote a post on purpose of life a few day back. I had some interesting discussion and I am revisiting the post.

Some revelations:
1) Life does not have a purpose. Anything created does not have a purpose. Creator has a purpose. So, The creator of life has a purpose.
2) So, the purpose of life is the purpose its creator (God) would have while its creation. Any guesses?
3) As far as I can guess, God would have wanted us to live in such a way that we do not disturb god's world. We help it grow. We help it continue. We help it evolve. We improve the world.
4) So, Purpose of Life would be
  • Help those in need
  • Reproduction
  • Be happy and make others happy
  • Make the world a better place to be in
  • Change the way people live their lives, hopefully in a positive way
5) In Hindu Dharm, there are three types of Rin which must be paid off before one's death: Dev Rin, Pitra Rin and Rishi Rin. Dev Rin is paid off to Devtaa by doing Yagya; Pitra Rin is paid off to Pitar (ancestors) by forwarding one's Vansh (lineage or family line) i.e. by producing a son; and Rishi Rin is paid off by studying.

But Vaalmeeki Jee describes 5 types of Rin while Dashrath explains this to Raam -
(1) Dev Rin is paid off to celestials by doing Yagya and holy sacrifices;
(2) Pitra Rin is paid off to ancestors by producing a son to forward one's family line
(3) Rishi Rin is paid off by studying
(4) Braahman Rin is paid off to Braahman by giving donations and food to them
(5) Self Rin to self by enjoying all kinds of pleasures - means that one is all satisfied from this world.

Spiritual Development

Read about this concept in Ignited Minds by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam but I could not appreciate it until a discussion that I had in a beautiful swiss cottage on a beautiful hill in God's own place Uttarakhand :P

Some of the ideas in the post are original. I have absolute faith in the idea and if you do not agree with me, I will love to have a discussion. :)

Dr Kalam identified five important areas to transform India. These are:
1) Education and Health Care
2) Agriculture
3) Information and Communication
4) Infrastructure
5) Critical Technology

Pramukh Swami Maharaj of Swaminarayan Sanstha at Ahmedabad suggested a sixth dimension:
6) Spirituality

I did not appreciate the sixth point that why do we need spiritual development for development of the country.  But indeed, we need spiritual development. Spiritual development would comprise of the basic human quality to differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong, God and Satan. Spiritual development would include not cheating your family and your organization. It would put an end to corruption. It will put an end to crimes. It will put an end to riots and communal disturbances. We need to rekindle belief. This will make things easier for development.

Immediate actions that come to me that would imply spiritual development:
1) NO Corruption
2) NO Cheating in exams/labs (I am sorry for OS course case. As I said, we do not know how to differentiate between good and bad)
3) NO getting special privileges in Mandirs/Mosques/Churches because you have more power/money
4) Helping people in need - Discourage beggary though
5) NO to illegal drugs/alcohol
6) Pay Taxes

Best of Luck!! Let India Develop (Spiritually) !!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Finally its over.. Passed all courses.. I always wanted to write this post.. Its not at all interesting.. But I always wanted to do the analysis..

Some not so well known generalizations of CPI: (which I have heard in the last 4 years)

My mentor, brother, friend, senior (all in one) told me before even I came into IIT, "CPI badhegi nahin giregi.. shuru mein acchi maar lena"

First year second sem... may of us are in the false impression.. "Abe wo to main padhta nahin hoon.. main padhta to main bhi dassi hota.. its just about choice". Bull shit statement hai.. Main kitna bhi padh leta 9.5 nahin hota.. ya phir main itna padh hi  nahin sakta tha ki main 9.5 le aaoon..

Second year first sem.. "Ya to CPI le aaon.. ya CG/Manager Ban Jao.. Ek hi baat hai".. kfh? kitna stupid statement hai..

Third year second sem.. "CPI important to hai.. saali companies ko kaun bataye ki CPI basis par shortlist na kare.. us nehli se jyada CS to mujhe aata hi hai"

Fourth year first sem.. "Saala thodi si CPI bana li hoti.. 8.5 ke neeche shortlist nahin kar rahe saale"

Fourth year second sem.. "In the end, it doesn't even matter" :P

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Berkeley Commencement Lecture

Commencement Lecture by Prof. Satish Rao, University of California, Berkeley. (Congratulations! Letters and Sciences, Computer Science Majors, Class of 2003)

Link shared to me by Giridhar Addepalli, Senior Software Engineer, Yahoo! Banglore & IIT Kanpur Alumnus.


John Henry was a steel-drivin man.

John Henry worked on the railroad, he drove steel. This consisted of driving a metal spike into the rock with a hammer. John Henry was the greatest of hammerers, as well as the best of gamblers, the biggest of drinkers, nastiest of ghters, and the best of lovers.

He was born to the railroad. When he was a baby, he told his momma that he would die with a hammer in his hand. More importantly, its how he fed him family. He worked on a legendary connector in West Virginia, which is a long tunnel in a mountain connecting two sections of track. It took years and hundreds of men to build. One day, a man brought a steam engine to the tunnel and said it could drive steel better than any man. So, a contest was made between John Henry and the steam engine.

For twelve long hours, John Henry hammered and the steam engine drilled. At the end, the tape was brought in to measure.

Wait...What does this story have to do with any of us? None of us are big strong men who make their living pounding steel into stone. For me, this story is about someone who did what he did with passion, pride, integrity and a undaunted optimism. I see these qualities in so many of you. You
have faced your connector, which has been graduating in computer science at Berkeley. Whether you were born to it, as John Henry was, or were drawn to it, or are doing it to earn your living, you've faced your challenges. Your steam engines were many, from crashing programs, to unfeeling autograders,
to difficult problem sets, to mystifying exams. You rose to these challenges with the integrity that comes from working hard and earnestly on what is put before you. To be honest, you young women and men mystify me. The harder the course, the more you to like it. The more you build, the more you want to build. You run, don't walk to get into courses that overwhelm me. Honestly, many people would consider you guys to be a little bit sick, ..but I am totally impressed.

I hope you know what you accomplish. You passed those tests, satisfied the autograders, and you maybe even solved a couple of those theory problems. Very cool. Again, the earnestness of your efforts, your thirst for doing things well, and your integrity generated these accomplishments. This is the sense in which your story is reected in John Henry's.

To me, the story of John Henry also gives a guide for the future. Again, a gambling, hard drinking, steel driving man, and computer science majors at Berkeley? I can't be telling you to go out and drink whiskey and gamble, well, at least not in front of your parents. Still, even that part of the legend does suggest that you are, you must be, de ned by more than just what you do for work. You will, of course, pursue many other things, including of course, you will pursue the opposite sex (or maybe the same sex)...some
of you will your travel, some of you will do public service, and some of you will have children (Which for me, is the hardest and most rewarding thing I have done.) All in all, it is a wonderful, and beatiful world. But what
makes it more wonderful, is the energy that you bring to it. And knowing many of you, I am excited for what you bring to our world.

Still, the legend of John Henry is about steel drivin. Or for me, about injecting passion into his purpose. You know...I get excited sometimes. I see something that hasn't been done before and needs to be done, or
something that can be done better, or something that can make things easier for people. You will see this things too. People with your talents will see the steam engines coming from miles away. You will see an opportunity to make something happen. It may be a program that makes your group better, or makes your company better, or makes the world better. It might be making a sale that brings value to your company and your customers and even to your the community. It might be building an organization that really nice for the pople in it and serves its purpose well. If you see such things, if you see such steam engines, challenge them. Pursue the challenge with a passion, stay up all night, don't shower (....well..ok, you can shower,
in fact, please do).. but do what it takes to meet the challenge.

And sometimes, sometimes, you will make it real...and that will be cool. People will say look, look at what she did! That's so neat. It will be a glorious thing.

Finally, sometimes talented people such as you need a reminder that you aren't all that. John Henry hammered the spike better than all takers. But Little Bull or Polly Ann held the spike. With every strike, they would lift the spike, shake it, turn it, and replace it, all before John Henry's hammer came down again. For you too, there will always be people around you. They may not appear to be as important or as talented as you, but pay attention. Take the time to understand what they do, what they want, even their hopes and dreams. The more you consider people around you the more you will respect their integrity, and their passion. That will make you feel good. And if you are lucky, you may even be able to help them acheive their hopes and dreams. And that will make you feel great.

Oh, yes, what happened to John Henry?

He raced the steam engine. When time was called, they brought out the tape measure, 12 feet for John Henry, 9 feet for the steam engine. He didn't just beat the steam engine, he crushed the steam engine. A glorious result. Of course, right after the race, John Henry died. He died with his hammer in his hand. Even I can't see the lesson there. But you is not a sad tale. It is an inspiration. A model to live up to.

Finally, you aren't going to be the women and men with the hammer in their hand. You are the chosen ones. You will be building the steam engines. Hey, you guys even won the BIG game against those ..those who would not be named..

The world has become a place that you, with your talents and skills, can change. No one can stop you, if that is what you want. And do it, by all means, do it with the passion that you are lled with. Still, just pause for a
moment, and maybe even grieve for the old world, while you create the new world.

Congratulations, and good luck.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Movies this Sem

Movies and TV Series have been an integral part of my IIT life. In last 3 years, I have watched more than 400 Hindi Movies and 150 Other Languages Movies (Telugu, Tamil, English, French, etc). Apart from being with 3-4 close friends, I enjoy spending time watching movies/TV series the most. Saw Friends, 24, Seinfeld, 2.5 Men, HIMYM, Hustle, BBT, Tales Pin, Duck Tales, Hannah Montana, Roadies with 100% loyalty and dedication.

Just did some math to find that I have devoted approximately 2700 hours to movies/tv series now. That means, on an average I spend approximately 2.5 hours per day watching movies/tv series. :P

Movies This Sem:

Ajab Prem ki gajab kahani
Morning Walk
London Dreams
All the Best
Rocket Singh
Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
3 idiots (twice)
Mirchi Its Hot
De Dana Dan
Akele Hum Akele Tum
Pulp Fiction
Raat gayi baat gayi
Saving Private Ryan
Pyaar Impossible
Do Knot Disturb
Aao wish karein
Money as Debt 2006
Good Will Hunting
Beautiful Mind
Amar Akbar Anthony
New York, I Love You
India Untouched
Up in the Air
My Name is Khan
Hitler: The Rise of Evil
Indecent Proposal
Lost temples of India
Mein aur Mrs Khanna
15 Park Avenue
Dil Maange More
Chance pe Dance
Chandni Bar
Lage Raho Munna Bhai

TV Series This Sem:
Seinfeld All seasons
Hustle 6 seasons
BBT 2 seasons
24, 2.5 men, himym on track

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Purpose of Life

This is my last post from IIT as a student.

We are graduating from the best engineering institute of the world. We are seen as among the smartest of the country. Since we are graduating now, I hope this post will help you mull over some of the basic questions which I have been thinking about for these 4 years.

As an individual, we have our own problems and will have some throughout our lives (supporting family, paying off loans, getting a job, securing your job, fighting recession, divorce, death, market crash, business loss, health, health of near ones, etc). I agree that we have to take care of these problems first. But look at the bigger picture. Think of a person seeing us from an outside world. Did we meet the expectations of the world? Did we do what we expect out of us? By fulfilling expectations, I don't mean earning 100,000$ a year at the age of 22. I mean doing something "meaningful". Doing something that would be useful for the country/world/human race.. Leaving a legacy behind.. Leaving footsteps that the world would follow.. Providing a new way to live/think/believe.. Doing something original.. Something unique.. After 25 years when we will meet at the alumni day, we will definitely ask these questions to ourselves. The question is not that whether the world/IIT/country believes you gave something back.. The question is whether we believe that we were able to contribute something to the society. Lets work towards that goal. Lets help each other to reach that goal. With the help of senior batches passing out in 2007, 2008, 2009 and juniors who will graduate in 2011, 2012, 2013, I am sure that if we work with a dedicated soul, we can change the world around us.

Best of Luck!!

For the last time ever:
Pratik Poddar
Senior Undergraduate
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, INDIA