Saturday, May 05, 2007

This too has passed

This is not good. I’m spending what may very well be my third night out of the last four in the lab. Air conditioned or not, I really should be sleeping. I have to do some work – two large chunks of work actually – before tomorrow morning and it’s not as if I couldn’t have avoided this last minute scram. I just procrastinated beyond the point of any sense at all. A couple of nights spent finishing what should have been done earlier is comic and indulgent, but I really do want to sleep tonight and absolutely the last thing I want to do is to read about bloody timed automata. The weird part of all this is that about 10, or at most 12, hours later I will never again in my life have to read, write or communicate about timed automata. Timed automata will be wiped out from my life for ever and if I forget every little scrap of information I have not been able to stop despite my sincerest efforts from going into my reluctant mind and if I burn all the printouts I’ve taken this semester and if entire folders and assignments get deleted and if tomorrow timed automata were to be suddenly outlawed from the world, none of it would make a paisa-worth of difference to me. And yet, there’s nothing I can do but try my best to understand as much as possible of timed automata. It’s all really rather futile.
Sometimes I think that the only subjects that are of any real use to me are some parts of mathematics and the humanities courses that I did at IIT. The rest were there to fill my time. I could have used those courses to sharpen my mental faculties or I could have worked hard at them to keep from losing momentum. But to think that the course content itself was of any importance is to delude oneself. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing I’m leaving a stream of study I have no interest and little aptitude for. I wonder what people who are good at their engineering subjects, and worse, actually like their stuff, feel when they leave them to do MBAs or something similar. I don’t subscribe to the selling-your-soul-for-money nonsense or the theory that so much money is spent on us to make us into engineers and hence we are under some sort of obligation to humanity to engineer all our lives. But I don’t know how people who leave what they love for what they don’t feel. Perhaps most of them can love just about anything after finding beauty in subjects I find exceedingly dull. Perhaps they adjust easily to new subjects. Then, do those of us who have trouble finding things interesting find nothing interesting at all? I will, of course, be in a better position to answer this say, a year later but it’s a question that’s been troubling me in recent days, especially since I’ve been getting time to think at these totally avoidable ‘night-outs’ of mine.
Obviously, the time that I devote to writing a post eats into the time I should be spending studying or working. However, it is the part I enjoy most about the night-outs, so here goes another.

Some hours later:
It’s amazing. I have nothing to do here except study – three songs I’m in no mood to hear, no movies, books or music videos, no LAN, no one’s online and nothing’s happening on the Net. I have read all the blogs I normally read and have checked for new emails too many times already (there aren’t any). I am actually studying because there’s nothing else to do. I mean, this actually works – remove distractions from your life and you study/work by default. I always thought it was individual will and motivation that decided whether people studied or not. I had no idea removal of temptations worked this well. Try this at home.
Meanwhile, I’m getting rather pissed at myself because I need sleep and I can’t get any because I must work. What’s worse, since I’ll only finish by about 5 or 6 am, if at all, there’ll really be no point in sleeping because if I did I wouldn’t be able to get up in time for my work to serve any useful purpose.
I’ve been writing limericks of a slightly personal nature that may not see the light of the day but are pretty decent nevertheless. They’re certainly a change from all that I’ve written in the past months, mainly non starters.

For however much you opine
(And you’re quite generous with this line)
That I don’t, can’t, feel anything deep
And all I care for is my sleep
So often I’ve been far from fine

and others on similar lines. I think it’s especially apt because of the sleep line. Maybe all this is preparation for the future - which, frankly, terrifies me – but the point really is, what’s the purpose of a life in which I have to go through pain and discomfort and lack of sleep and it’s all a good thing because I’ll get used to an experience I’ll repeat in future? I mean, so I didn’t work when I should have. Big deal. I must have done something I enjoyed, like watching a movie or chatting someone up or writing a post. Why should enjoying life, living life, make me feel guilty? Why do we attach such a premium on hard work? And why the corresponding guilt attached with laziness?

Does work really set us free
Or is it all a giant Nazi conspiracy?

PS: It's 6 am now. Officially 3 out of 4.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Day in the Life of Robert Frust

2243 hrs: It’s been ten minutes now since I arrived in the lab. I’ve come here with the intention to stay all night. My main purpose is to study for my sociology exam tomorrow. However, I’ve come equipped with the DVD of the ten-part Dekalog and a pair of enormous headphones belonging to a dear friend I’m going to see a lot more of in the next two years for relief from the tedium of studying about development theory. I also have in my bag a packet of buns that I’ll consume some time between now and daylight (not that I’ll know it’s day inside this artificially constructed atmosphere with bright lights and unnatural temperature and humidity designed to make humans work at hours our bodies were meant to dream in, but never mind…). I also plan to go out for walks every couple of hours or so for a cup of coffee and a break from too much light.
But the most important activity today, and an interesting experiment to boot, is this: I’ll write a little every hour or a couple of hours - I don’t know – and at the end of the night I should have an interesting post that should meander through a lot of different things I’ll think about during the night (not all of which I’ll consider wise to communicate). Here’s looking forward to a good night!

2303: Too soon, I know but can’t resist. I’m in the lab with this PhD scholar. He just farted. There’s nothing particularly strange about that, of course. What is strange though is that he has his headphones on and while I could hear the phhht he made from ten feet away I’m sure he didn’t hear his rear roar. To work, to work.

2317: The only company I had in the lab just left. I’m free! I have the lab all to myself. I’m still not free enough to watch porn in the lab but soon almost everyone in the department building will have left and then I will be. I won’t, but it’s nice to know I can if I want to. Like the right to vote. Out of inertia or apathy I may never get a Voter’s Identity Card made, or never actually vote. But that’s not the entire point.

0031: It’s getting extremely cold in the lab. There’s no music. Maybe I should download some music. I’m finally feeling the effects of not having slept last night and having had only 3-4 hours of sleep in the day today. I’ll have to go out for coffee, warmth and fresh air soon. But I’m not doing that till I finish the first set of slides.
I’ve also started getting the feeling that I might have to stay on and write my term paper tonight because it may be too late otherwise. I have more critical work to do tomorrow, sleep or no sleep, and a major the day after.
Tonight, I may very well have to munch buns in hell.

0052: Just leaving for a cuppa with ex.

0459: Well. Where do I begin? We talked, and talked and talked. Ditto walked. Mosquitoes found us wherever we sat so we came back to the lab. I showed her the Dekalog because I thought she’d appreciate that the film was Polish. She did. We talked of languages – Slavic languages, the beauty of Urdu and the utterly unsatisfactory expression of English. She laughed at people who thought Italian was the most beautiful language in the world. She laughed easily tonight. I laughed a lot too. She gave me a wonderful song - Undertow by Pain of Salvation. We looked over the lyrics and I wondered aloud at my inability to express like that. If only I could…
I said I’d walk her downstairs. Then I said since I’d come down I might as well grab a coffee. I bought my coffee. Then we walked some more and my coffee got over. Then we talked some more and it was time for me to leave. I didn’t want to. She said I wouldn’t fail in hukka. I agreed happily and walked and talked more. We talked frankly. We talked of others, of ourselves, of each other. We talked little of the Past. We talked little of the Future. We joked and laughed at things I only joke about with her, at any rate in this language. Eventually we had to concede I wouldn’t pass without studying at all, so with difficulty we came once more to my building.
Here, then, I am, typing out a cruelly excised account of all that happened. This bare bones summary cannot capture all that was said and heard tonight. Sometimes, magic happens. More often, it doesn’t. And I am listening to Undertow, which is highly recommended. I feel full of good cheer right now.
And now, all hands because I really am in dire straits if I don’t devote every nerve ending in my body to studying for the next couple of hours. Couple of hours! Shit.

0550: The good news is that of the three sets of slides that have been added since the last test I’ve at least read carefully through two. The third will be done soon. It’s not so bad after all. I’ll have no respite even after the test though. I’ll just have to pull up my socks, tighten my loincloth and down a couple of cups of coffee and get right back to the entirely avoidable business of last-minute, D-Day, Panic Button work required to pass courses.
It’s daylight now, which is depressing. At night I always feel a sense of infinity. I get the feeling that the night will go on for ever. With first light comes the rude awakening that the night advances just as fast as the day and 8 am had been steadily getting nearer while I was reveling in the nighttime mosquito-infested air. Only two hours away now.

0610: Very sleepy now. Will get hallucinogenic soon. Wait, is that my phone ringing?

0622: I have been listening to Undertow in a loop now. I just looked to see where my exam would be held and got a pleasant surprise – my exam is at 1030 and not at 0800 as originally believed. This gives me time to breathe. Also to shit, shave and shower. Speaking of which, I remember a teacher once telling us that in the National Defence Academy, cadets had to finish the 3 S’s in 3.5 minutes. I don’t know if there is indeed an upperbound on the amount of time one can spend on one’s ablutions in the NDA, but if there is one I really don’t see how it can be 3.5 minutes, or even 5 or 7. One can perhaps imagine wrapping it all up in 15 minutes in times of dire urgency but anything less than 10 deserves a prize. Perhaps you can skip the 3 S’s on a couple of days and collect coupons for 3.5 extra minutes per day missed and encash them on the third day by having a long luxurious hot soak. Or perhaps everyone multitasks like crazy, brushing their teeth and shaving while on the pot, and then rinsing and gargling in the shower. Or perhaps… oh well, never mind! I rejoice to inform my readers that we at IIT can take all the time we want in the pristine toilets. Just one word of advice: always check whether the flush works and water is available before settling down with your morning thoughts. Unfortunate experiences have happened, though fortunately never with yours truly. Calls have had to be made for emergency bottles of mineral water (no running water) from the pot, though why someone would carry their cell phone to the Big Job beats me. There’s worse but never mind. We’re okay, most of the time. Yesterday, though, was very bad. Not only did we have no running water, we had no Internet! Basic human rights, anyone?
Can’t decide whether I should stick around for longer. If I do, someone may come to the lab and I won’t have to go deposit the lab key with the PhD scholar who believes he farts soundlessly. Besides, I’m enjoying writing this post and I don’t want to say goodbye just yet. If I stay, I’ll just keep listening to my new favourite song over and over again.

0654: I just orkutted a bit, wrote a couple of scraps, wished a senior who got engaged a while back a happy married life, asked another if he was interested in Spiderman 3 etc. Pretty general. Didn’t add anyone to my Crush List or anything. I think I really should fold my tent and walk the long walk back. The stale air-conditioned air is doing my oxygen starved brain no good at all. It’s not yet time to post though. I’ll take this post to my room and update it till I leave.

1018: Just woke up. Exam at 1030. Woke up just in time. This could have been disaster. It won’t be though. Must rush.

1244: The examination was easy. I finished it half an hour early. Undertow playing again. This song reminds me of Evanescence and the genre Evanescence claim their music encompasses - Gothic Rock. I think I have a cover by a female singer who, like Evanescence’s lead, is also singing on a very high note.

1302: Mozilla just died on me. I've had to re-edit, re-link, re-italicise and re-embolden everything.

Today’s been fairly eventful. Another day well lived.

Personal Blogs by Indian Bloggers