SMC annual meet, in the memory of Jinesh – MES kutipuram.

Each time being at that college among those students, you really feel rejuvenated.

On September 29th, MatriCS, the association (an awesome one at that!) under the Computer Science department at MES College of Engineering had it’s inauguration as well as was the host for the SMC annual meet. These two days are those that I don’t want to forget in a hurry. Hence, I thought I’d just write down about how it went so that next year when we meet, we might be able to have a nice laugh at what all happened this year.

I was not actually expecting a formal event and as such when I suddenly came to realize that the event was at the auditorium, it felt a bit weird. However, the moment I met Riyas, the third year CS student there who was extremely enthusiastic about getting things done, I knew things were going to get better. He had this friendly way of welcoming people and getting them to fit in without any trouble. I hope he keeps that spirit up because the society needs people like him. There was Hiran ettan (met him for the first time) and some other lady and Riyas took all the three of us into the hall.

I could sense the tension of the organizers to get things started in time, realizing at the last moment that certain people who were supposed to talk at the event, were not going to show up (Boy, I really hate when people do that). I had myself been in similar situations before and it was heart warming to see everything, more or less, going smooth. Shamsir, the current chairman of the association was getting everything together with an air of command. A jovial, innocent fellow who is as much enthusiastic as Riyas in getting things done.

My wishes and prayers to both of them.

I’m not going to go about describing each and everything that happened. You can find the itinerary of the event over here.

It was an awesome auditorium and there was a small session regarding OCRs, which were helpful for the blind people to use computers. I marveled at how the organizers thought of incorporating such a talk into the event. To know that the time had come where Computer Engineers had a real part to play in the society, gave us a feeling of responsibility.

29th of September was a special day because it had been exactly a year since Jinesh had passed away. The SMC members did an excellent job at collecting all the articles and blog posts written by Jinesh and compiling them into one single book under the name of “Logbook of an observer”. A hard copy of the book was handed over to his Father at the ceremony and people who knew him personally as well as through the net talked about him. Another person named “Shyam” was also mentioned who had this sincere love for our mother tongue. Knowing that people like them existed and how much they had influenced the world around them in the short time they were here, was really inspiring.

One of the other mention worthy (really mention worthy) things about the event was to get to see people in real life! And that is awesome. I mean, a few days ago, a guy called Ani Peter asked for help regarding translation on the SMC mailing list. I decided to help him out and with my inexperienced typing, helped out a tiny bit.

I was looking forward to meeting him at the event. With this thought in mind, I was sitting there in the second row of the auditorium pretty much alone. The speeches were going on and when it got monotonous, I happened to get a glimpse at the laptop of the lady who was sitting beside me. She was the one who was with Hiran ettan earlier. Her laptop booted and displayed the login screen. Just above the login screen was written “Ani Peter”.

Augh!

The point being, it is nice (and necessary!)  to meet people in real life. Hrishikesh (a really jovial and friendly guy), the artistic Ark Arjun, Hiran ettan, Manoj, Rajeesh ettan (An ultra cool guy with an awesome attitude), the sisterly Ani Peter, Adhil (whom I had briefly met for Chakkakuutaan), Manu (the renowned MES geek) were the ones among the newly-seen-in-real-life people.

It was heart warming to see Praveen ettan, Ershad, Nakul, Musfir, Sadiq, Anish, Kiran (well, I’ve been seeing this guy everyday for a month now, but still I was glad to see him at MES). Also the guys from MES itself. I’ not that good with names, so forgive me if I have accidentally left someone out. Yahul, Rahul, Navin, Sohail and the other young hacksters there who all added to the bright and wonderful atmosphere there.

The afternoon sessions of the first day were informal ones and I felt right at home. Anish talked about the Free Software philosophy and Hrishi came forward with introducing Diaspora and the free movie initiatives. Well, one of the troubles that the speakers always face is the problem of making the session interactive. When they ask something and the audience sit as if they had no clue what was going on, it usually becomes a bit depressing. However, little did they realize Musfir was one among the crowd!

He just would not sit taking everything that the speakers said for granted. He shot out with his questions and the whole session was completely interactive. It was nice to discuss and talk about philosophies. The Open movie initiative was really interesting and we all sat and saw the movie tears of steel.

However, there was something that bothered me with the whole ordeal. I was quite worried about the message that was reaching the students. I mean, the people who were giving the talks were really good programmers and developers. They gave talks on the matters that affected what they were working on. I felt that the technical part of the message was not getting through to the students. The feeling that the free software community was growing as a political party based on ideals and philosophies without the hacker spirit actually being there was somehow becoming more and more evident. I’m sure there might be an alternative explanation to this, but I’ve been seeing this trend (with me too!) growing up.

As if to counter my thought, the second day witnessed two wonderful workshops. One was on Shell scripting by Rajeesh ettan, which was extremely informative as he explained in detail many aspects of how the shell worked and its configurations along with the basic, practical funda of how to use the shell to script something. It has ticked me off into learning it and I’m sure be giving it a shot now.

This was followed by Ershad’s workshop on git, which was superb as usual. The sessions were wound up at about 1.30 with trophies being awarded to the SMC people who helped out with the events and sessions. We all had a few informal chats and I bid my farewell to everyone then.

I missed the hacknight on the first day which, as I was able to gather from the people who attended it, was extremely fun. I also missed the afternoon session on the second day which was on Remote Desktop and Networks. Hoping to read the details of both from some place else.

All through the event, I really missed Sajith sir. I’m sure all the students there missed him too. Here is praying and hoping that he will have his troubles settled and his wishes granted.

A heart warming experience. Something that students of MES can be proud of. I hope that they keep the spirit and enthusiasm flowing in the future as well.

Rupet’s dolls.

When I heard Rupet’s dolls had finally hit the store, I was so excited that I just had to immediately see my friend to share the excitement. Nidiya lived a few houses down the lane. I turned off the TV, told my Mom that I’d be back in a jiffy, got hold of my umbrella as we were continuously having rains, and hurried onto Nidiya’s home.

Just as I rang the bell, I could hear a lot of voices from within her home. Standing there wondering what all the hassle was about, the door opened and I heard Nidiya bidding her Mom a quick goodbye. It was never a good sign for me if she was excited. Mainly because she starts going off on wild goose chases and I’m usually the one she drags along with her. Although it is absolutely lovely to be with such an enthusiastic girl, I sometimes do feel what the point of all of it is.

“Hasna, what a surprise!”, she cried upon seeing me standing there without a clue.

“Hey Nidu, what’s up with all the hurrying? Moreover, why does my sixth sense tell me that you were on your way to fetch me to accompany you on one of your so called “who-buried-the-treasure-over-here hunt” instead of simply a “treasure hunt”?”

“Ha ha ha”, Nidiya chuckled warmly. Whenever she smiles, I look at her and lose myself in a few moments of thought at how beautiful and adorable she looks. Especially while smiling. It is a good thing for me because when we both walk together, all the boys look at her and usually do not even pay the slightest of attention to yours truly. I admit that it kind of hurts, but I guess it is better that way in the long run. Anyway, I came out of the spell that her beauty had put on me and smiled back.

“Ever the loyal friend”, she continued, “However, the truth is that we don’t have time. Remember that fact about how the latest multi core processors could do processes in parallel? We even had a debate about it two months back.”, she said, winking at me.

“What! That was two months ago and we had left it then and there agreeing to how hardware parallelism was achieved! Don’t tell me you have gone off on one of your irrelevant tangents regarding this too.”

“Ha! Good news for you then because I have!”, she said sarcastically. “I’ve been reading upon it a lot and doing a lot of research on the matter. Downloading simulators, talking to people online, discussing in online communities and what not. However, here is the drill. I’ve finally tracked it down to Mr. Shafik! Can you believe that?”. There was fire in her eyes as she finished saying that. A look that said that she was blind to everything else now that she was so close to the truth. You people might be wondering what that look is but trust me, I know her and I haven’t seen another person in my life with such zeal and enthusiasm for learning. She just wouldn’t rest until she got to the very core of it.

“Shafik, our  milkman? Cool!”, I said dumbly.

“Augh! No you silly little girl.”, she blurted out extremely irritated. I loved doing that to her. “Mr. Shafik from our own University! Don’t tell me you don’t know the person. Apparently, he was one of the design consultants in the manufacture of the processor!”, she continued in full excitement. I knew what was going to come and just as I had that thought, she said, “So let’s go! No time to waste.”. Ah, there it was. So much for the excitement that I went there with. My mind was on fire thinking how I could show my excitement at Rupet’s dolls. To mention going and seeing toys over learning about processors was a shameful thing for an Engineering student. Still, I too was not one who gave up that easily.

“Wo, wo, wo, hold on. I came here in my own excitement. We’ll go to the University now, but on one condition. As soon as we get back that you’ll come with me to see the Rupet’s dolls exhibition in town! They are out, can you believe it!?”. Now I was sounding excited.

“Yeah sure”, said Nidiya. “I’m not sure what those are but I’m sure they will be worth seeing if they got your attention. Now let us go!”.

We went to the university and got back in the afternoon. She had her fill when Shafik explained to her the core semantics and details of the implementation. Content and happy with her research efforts, she had that “pleased with one’s self” look on her face. However, I was not done yet.

“Let’s go for the exhibit!”, I said disturbing her train of thoughts. She felt irritated on being pulled away from her world. Since it was me who did it, she kept it to herself and gave me one of her lovely smiles.

“Let’s grab some lunch and we’ll be on our way”, she said.

We had lunch and caught the bus to town. We could see posters and billboards of Rupet’s dolls all along the way. They had given it a pretty wonderful publicity for over month now through TV and newspapers. Everyone was anxious to get their hands on them as much I was. We reached town and went to the central supermarket where the first batch of toys had arrived that day morning.

I was scared that this might bore Nidiya too much and I was beginning to feel bad about dragging her over there. The rush at the market was unbelievable and it took almost half an hour to find our way through the crowd into the market. Just as we entered it, I stood as if I was struck with lightning. Trying hard to digest what I had just witnessed, I slowly turned and looked at Nidu. I felt relieved on seeing her eyes widened and her jaw dropped. Bringing her along was not a disappointment after all.

“I need a closer look”, she said and hurried over to one of the dolls on the show stand. I followed her and what we both beheld put us in a trance. The dolls were so life like that it was almost indistinguishable from a real human! You could even see the nerves on the hands slightly protruding. The palm of the doll’s hands were so masterfully crafted that each and every line was perfectly visible. Even the nails had the slight pink tint to them. Their eyes seemed to have life in them. The light lines on the lips, the eyebrows, and even the hair on the skin was there and that too in a perfectly normal nature that you would not at feel like you were looking at a doll at all. I even began to think these might be real life dwarfs standing there to trick us and tried pinching and slightly piercing one with my pin. They did not stir. They were dolls.

“Hasna, this is absolutely awesome!”, Nidiya cried. I too had not expected to witness such a marvel.

“Let’s check out the others!”, I said and dragged her away to see the other dolls.

Each one was better than the previous one. The price of the dolls were a tad bit too much for ordinary people, and hence we contended ourselves with just looking at them. We had spent more than two hours there savoring the sight when I noticed that it was getting dark out.

“Hey Nidu, we should get going. First you did not want to come, now you don’t want to go?”, I mocked her. She did not reply, but went straight over to one of the representatives and asked him,

“Sir, where do you get these dolls from?”

“From Rupet, Of course!”, the representative replied with a laugh.

“I mean do you know the place where they come from? Do you directly order it from Rupet himself?”

“Well, their agents came and gave us their number. We rang them and placed an order and here we are!”, he again ended with a smile.

I pulled her away from him and we got out of the market. However, she was already drawn towards the dolls. She kept looking back at the market as we hurried to catch the homebound bus.

“Wow, now those were some cool dolls I say!”, I said trying to show my amazement. Nidiya just nodded and let out a slight hum without giving any reply. “Hey, snap out of it Nidu”, I shook her.

She came back from the world she was in and gave me a weird look. I started feeling extremely disturbed because I had seen that look before in her eyes. It meant that she was hooked onto that matter and she would never give up on it unless she understood every aspect of it.

We got down at the stop near our homes. I asked her not to keep any of this in mind and tried to get her mind back onto the matter of processors. On our way home, I was relieved when she suddenly started telling me about what Mr. Shafik had told her about it. The enthusiasm with which she explained the matter really would get the person hearing her interested in it. Suffice to say, I was all about processors.

Days passed and one day, I was surprised to hear from her mom asking me whether Nidu had called upon me or whether I had any idea where she was. It was study leave for us and we had not seen each other for almost a week now. I grew concerned and asked her mom what was going on. She told me that Nidiya had something on her mind and would spend a lot of time walking here and there muttering to herself. I was not alarmed at that because she usually was like that. However when her mother told me that she had been making quite a few trips to the super market lately, I started to feel a bit worried.

I went over to the super market and inquired whether such a girl had come there. What they told me raised my anxiety even further. It seems she had talked them into giving her the distributor’s phone number. “What is she planning on doing? Learn the craft from the masters?”, I thought. That girl never knew when to let go of something. I did not waste much time. I called the distributors and got their address. I hurried over there and saw the managing director.

I asked him whether a girl had come to him inquiring about Rupet’s dolls.

“Ah yes madame. A pretty young girl had come inquiring about it. However, we do not have direct contact with Rupet’s dolls. We get a call from a number consistently every week and we place our orders then. We never used to call back. She made us give her that number and she went away with a chuckle. That is all I know.”

Nidiya went missing from then on. Nothing can express the guilt and grief that I have bore over the years. It has been 18 years since then. I have relocated to another country and have been settled there for the past three years now. To my surprise, today morning it was the grand opening of Rupet’s toys here in central city. There was a huge crowd at the mall. I went over to the mall which brought back all those bitter memories.

I got in and looked at the dolls. One doll caught my eye. It had a special black dress. I looked at it. It’s skin was so fair and smooth. It had the hands of a sweet little girl and the figure of a beautiful young lady. I felt something horrible within me just then. In that sense of fright, I slowly took the doll. My hands shivered. Slowly I turned it around, and beheld one of the most beautiful faces that I have ever seen in my life.

It was Nidiya.

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Yet another one of my sister’s weird dreams.

There is nothing better to lift your spirits than a loving sister.

Ahem..

Well, having finished college, being at home, I usually spend quite a lot of time in front of my computer. That is how I got to publish my book, how I blog regularly, etc.

Lately, I have signed up for an Online course on Programming Languages offered by brown university. You can find the details here. Hence I dedicatedly started spending more time in front of the computer. I watch the online classes, read the lecture notes, work out the exercises, do the daily quizzles, work on the weekly assignments and so on.

Two days ago, at exactly 3.30am in the morning, the Universe (Yes!) kinda felt that I was too happy and content with what I was doing, and decided to toy with me. At that exact moment, a fever built up, my stomach started rumbling and I started vomiting too! Things could not get any worse.

Somehow I managed till morning and woke everyone up and told them my condition. My sister being a doctor, made me take an analgesic to lower the fever. When I was a bit more stable, she prescribed a few antibiotics that I started to take right then itself.

I was so totally dehydrated and weakened that I was bed-ridden for the two days. I would sleep, watch some cartoon or movie to distract my mind from the nausea, suffice to say I was in front of my laptop itself.

Yesterday afternoon, my sister came back from her work and saw me lying down watching an episode of “Mind your language”. She, very lovingly, came towards me, took a pen, opened up one of my old records and took a blank page, and drew me the following picture!

Just so that you couldn’t read any : Haris.

What are you doing?

Assignment.

Watching video.

Work.

Blogging.

Nothing.

Reading.

Studying.

I have a fever.

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Ah, I love her. She is one super awesome cool lady. When life gives her lemon, she makes chicken curry with it!

He is Me.

One day early morning, two people happened to cross each other’s path. One of them was returning home after spending the whole night in prayers and worship while the other person was returning home after a night of ‘shameful’ activities.

Upon seeing each other, the first person thought, “Oh! That poor man must be tired from having prayed all night long”.

Ironically, the second person thought, “Heh, looking at him coming so innocently. Like I don’t know what he has been upto”.

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Similar to all the posts that I write, this one does not convey a meaning that is absolutely correct. I’m putting down what I have learned from my personal experiences as well as from the people I’ve met in my life. This only is meant to offer you a different perspective of the normal things that we live through each and everyday. Hence if you disagree or have a completely different take on the matter, you are more than welcome to share them.

The idea that I’m trying to convey is that whenever you really feel that a person is bad, that is because that “badness” exists within you. I’m not talking about what you say about a person in public or to your friends. I’m talking about the thoughts that you have in your conscience regarding a person that you see. When you doubt him for something bad, you usually think that you are having such a verdict because you have experience. However, most of the times, I have found the truth of the matter to be that you come up with that verdict because you yourself are a victim of that.

Interestingly, this not only applies to the negative side of things. When you can genuinely think good about a person, I’ve felt that it is possible mostly because you have that goodness within you. However, it might be well for you and me if we drop this positive side of things because otherwise you will most probably start being arrogant about how good you are. You know what I mean right? Too much of self-righteousness might creep up and nothing can make a person more annoying than that.

Hence the next time you think bad about someone and judge him (which is one nasty thing to do) at least try to give him the benefit of the doubt. Just like that, when you sit there gloomy thinking that how bad and unfair the world around you is, maybe it is time to look within you and start making a few changes starting with the man in the mirror himself.

The tech savvy kid.

We were at my uncle’s home for a family gathering. We had a great feast at noon and were spending the afternoon time chit chatting with each other.

In the midst of this, one of my cousin sisters’ daughter, who was 3 years old, was sitting on the bed in one of the rooms, shouting and making noise trying to get some attention. She used to play with her mom’s mobile phone and she wanted that. However, her mom was a bit busy at that moment.

My sister noticed this. She went towards the little kid and after a few pampering words, gave the little one her phone, which was the ordinary one with the keypad and all.

The little one took the phone from my sis smiling, looked at it and then, started to swipe her cute fingers on the screen, wondering why nothing was happening.