2007/08/26

F.A.Q. on E.P.

The name being quaint for a B Tech branch, our bloods Boyle every time we're asked these Millikan Dollar Questions:

"Watt do you do in EP?"

Every working week (from Monday to Faraday), our time is spent Moseley in exploring nuclear physics, statistical physics, quantum physics and curvy physiques. Not to mention making PJ's, Poynting out profs' blackboard errors, thieving lab equipment and Hawking them in streets.

"Do you have a bright scope after B Tech?"

A difficult Curie to answer. All we can say is our early seniors' success Gibbs us some hope.

"Why just about 10 people in your branch?"

Our small strength is our biggest strength. That's Gauss we believe too many cooks spoil de Broglie.

"Why was this branch created in the first place?"

That's a Rayleigh nasty question. It Hertz our feelings. Anyway, a necessity to Hooke Physics with Engineering was felt. Hence our dept. profs, both old and Young, went to ESB with their Bose and arrows and said: 'Next time it will be LASER-guided Tomahawks and H-bombs if you don't agree to our terms.'
Thus EP was Born.

"Your contributions to IITM?"

We don't want to Bragg about ourselves and Bohr you to death.

2007/08/18

Quotes I

'You are all young practically'
-- Dr Murthy in class.

'It seems it has to be so.. ah! fuck it! fuck it.. I am going to sleep'
-- Dr Flea, upon being questioned on why he wanted to complete his novel before graduating.

'A particle never leaves its trajectory'
-- Dr L Narasimhan, ApMech prof.i

'One writes to sublimely offset one's sexual incapacity'
-- Nirmal, to Dr Flea's question 'Why does one write?'

'Internets are available to everybody'
-- Dr Murthy in class.

'It is not important whom you love. It is just important that you love.'
-- Poornima.

'The process is in waiting.'
-- Pseudo-Jeevesical server at Tiffany's, when inquired about the status of the dosa ordered.ii

'All of you must get above class average'
-- Rajarao.

'Why?'
-- Saudi, on reading my status message 'I have blocked everyone on GTalk except you'

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
i : As quoted by Aashish.
ii: As quoted by Pratyusha.

2007/08/10

Keeping The Record Straight

Drinking glasses in CR are cylindrical.
I asked Akhil to pass me one as I settled down for lunch. A spot of silence prompted me to contribute to the din of the mess.
'Why', I philosophized, 'are these called glasses? They are made of steel...'
'OK, tumbler', said somebody [I don't remember who].
'Again, why are they called tumblers? They don't keep tumbling always!'
'Then what will you call them?'
I eyed the thing for an instant.
'From its shape, I'd call it a metal beaker.'
A quiet agreement went around the table and I bent down to dig the meal.
The thunder changed hands. Vikas, in his spookily polite manner said: 'Why is it called a beaker?'

* * * * *
[Fishy asked me to give a detailed description of this episode. Let me do just that.]

I dismount at the Gurunath parking lot, kick out the side-stand, slip the key into my pocket and walk towards the coffee vendor.

As arranged, Fishy awaits me, and we purchase the ersatz coffee IITM has got accustomed to.
We find no chair unbottomed.
I suggest the Himalaya lawn.
He prefers to walk.
Which way?
He asks me to pick between left and right.
I vote for the latter.
We beat the path a bit.
Before you could say 'Flippitty Chip', we sit at the Narmada bus stop.
We chat on this, we chat on that, we chat on this and that.
We empty the cups and bin them.
The all-important topic of British sitcoms comes up as we walk back.
He contends that I would get addicted to Coupling.
I try to draw him to Blackadder through quoting.

"Your brain, Baldrick, is like the four headed, man-eating haddock fish beast of Aberdeen."
"In what way, sir? "
"It doesn't exist."

"You're the worst cook in the entire world. There are amoeba on Saturn who can boil a better egg than you."

"Now why in heaven's name are you dressed up like that, Baldrick?"
"There's a long answer, and a short answer, my lord."
"Tell us the short one first."
"Whim."
"And the long answer is -- ?"
"It was a whim."

He in turn sells me Coupling and quotes its punchlines.
They are unprintable.
We cross the Alumni Association and reach the mouth of the road that leads to Sangam and Alakananda.
We promise to watch each other's favourite sitcom.
We trade goodnights.
We part.

I amble toward Saraswathi, all set for the hit-bed-get-shuteye routine.
Sangam comes in view.
My mobile buzzes.
SMS from Fishy.
'Come back'
I go back, full of curiosity.
I see him at the T junction.
'What is it?' I cry.
He runs a finger or two through his hair.
'Didn't you come by your cycle?'

* * * * *
Half the Physics Dept was watching Dhoom in the bus returning from SHAR [Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota]. In the climax, John Abraham, the fastest biker in the movie, dodges the good guys, hops on to his Suzuki and zips. He tears a straight line at top speed -- but by a logic unique only to the ollywoods, Uday Chopra and the Small B, from whom Abraham made his escape only now, stand yards in front of him.
I raised the point.
Immediately Fishy responded:
'They went around the world and came back on the other side!'


* * * * *

We start out on Monday energetically. But when we reach Friday evening, we get weakened.

2007/08/03

Prof-anity

This semester too, I have been blessed with professors from Mars. Each one of those stand-up artistes pleads, 'Write a post on me, write a post on me.'
I must oblige.

Slot D
If you've invented the phrase 'abject insipidity' and are waiting to wrap it on a suitable situation, look no more. Insomniacs, try Dr KMM. He surpasses professional sandmen. He must have held a powerful animal magnetism in his younger days with that periodic jerk of the side of his mouth against every third syllable. The twitch does attenuate at the tip of the lip -- it goes on to shake the entire cheek on the right-hand facet of the ovoid head, lending the man a touch of erudition where it isn't. On the first day of the semester, this religiously attendance-rule-abiding instructor from the Centre for Systems and Devices uttered his first and final quip: he expanded his block's initials to Centre for Sleeping and Dreaming. When a front bencher pointed out the dying of his voice at the tail of each sentence, he replied: 'Yes, I know I have that problem. I must do something to sort it out so that we av f sz ca e..

Slot F
A rustic goat-herder passing by the lecture would drop his forked stick and scram from the place, imagining the class to be haunted. To be sure, the professor doesn't perform ghost dances, but his usage of
Windows Journal to learn the class chills the spine whenever the invisible hand writes on the screen. Far from technophilia, it is the need to instruct a classroom studented by no less than 140 lads and ladies that prompts Dr Shanti Pavan to favour the tablet pen over the chalk.
Electrical engineers have got to make numerous approximations in their analyses. They learn about linear networks and applications in half their courses, yet practical systems are non-linear. The department has thus conned them, alleged Dr Pawan. But a veterinarian, he went on to add, does not educate himself on the physiques of all bestial species. The dog is the prototype and the vet-to-be masters its anatomy. Ergo, when he is called to treat an elephant, he approximates it to a dog. Nothing wrong, argues the tonge-in-cheek Dr Pavan; after all, from a certain distance the elephant looks like a dog. The electrical engineer, he concluded, must take a leaf out of the dog-doc's book.


Slot E
Decades of chewing betel has rendered this man leather-tongued. As a result, his lectures serve as a true test of endurance. You will do worse by not lip-reading him. Our this typical government bureaucrat [as Srinand put it], who answers to the name VRK, declared on the first day that we nine were as his sons. And he proceeded to establish it: he commended Srinand's conduct for his indecisive 'As you wish, sir', showed his appreciation for replacing his chairs, and while we were still at his office, had us sit around his table with the air of a family discussion over dinner. Remind me to ask him for pocket money.

Slot B
Dr Pattabiraman stands out from the rest of the professing crew in that he is quite down-to-mars ['I am not an expert' is his catch-line] and doesn't find time to mow his beard. Besides persistently saying 'dabba' in box's stead, the young guru hasn't developed idiosyncrasies as yet. I like him.

Slot A
This person is a member of the faculty of IIT Madras. Let me put that differently. His name is Subramanian.

He revels in targeting students. He branded me impure upon hearing my name. He stared at me batting neither eyelid for a space of fifteen seconds in the name of demonstration. The other day he called me his enemy. As a thought experiment, he launched a waveguide missile at me. He gives you an impression that his hair has grown inwards and tinkered with his cerebrum. He isn't able to clot his anecdotes. He has shared a bench with a Pakistani Nobel Laureate. He has devoured the biographies of Modern Physics' architects and itches to recite them in class. He proudly declares, 'This course is not Quantum Mechanics. It is the History of Quantum Mechanics.' Nor does he spare wisdom-pearls. When Sriram, in the context of Young's Double Slit Experiment, advanced that the fringes were found everywhere, Dr Subbu had a repartee at the ready.
'Fringes are everywhere. God is everywhere. Fringes are God.'


Slot C
I have not yet gotten to know the gentleman. He bunked three successive classes in the week that's rolled by. I saw the pattern, and, telling myself that I'd rather burn the hour in my room, gave today's C a miss. But then surprises are always behind me like wicket-keepers. This one was nasty.

Slot G
'In Punjab they play support', said Dr Shreesh Chaudhry to elucidate on the regional nature of English pronunciation. He paused before he spelt the last word: 'S-P-O-R-T'.
'And in Patna it's isport,' continued the enchanting pedagogue, 'When I go to Bihar, which is my native place, I speak to them in Engleez. They don't understand English.' It was him that asked us to make the speech I've covered in the previous post. On international accents he said: "Australians pronounce day differently. They ask, 'Did you come here to die?' And New Zealanders, when they win, say 'Chairs!' "
I confess to liking this old man. His body language pleases the eye. Each articulation is crisp. His bosom unlocks infectious optimism. He drips charm. And true to his dept., he is a Britannica on legs. I look forward to his slots.