Monday, July 7, 2014

Computers:: My Greatest Enemy to my best Friend

If you read my earlier post I was really tried hard to get away from computer at every stage of my all life and today I am in an IT engineering stream so after entering in to college, it’s was high time I should meet Mr. Computer and say him my first “Hi”. So first day of everything is always a special one in life and one never forgets it. We had our computer lab set up in a week time after college started. So on coming Monday we had a computer class scheduled and we all reached to the lab. I was confident since I had Jitin with me and he was quite good with computers. This was for the first time I actually sat in front of a computer. As all of us were working to start their computers, there came the computer lab professor and welcomed us all in Lab. Professor shared some basics of using computers etc. like shut down properly, never use Floppy drives without scanning (it was 1.44 MB Floppy drives that we use to have and today my phone single camera shot is like 3-5 MBs). Most of people in room have already pressed the power button to start their computers however since the time professor came in everyone turned around and started listening to professor. Professor was writing some basic commands on board to execute and get familiar to computers. I was sitting in front of computer and waiting for it to start where as others were already seeing their desktops on monitors and following the teacher. I got up and switch on the UPS (power source) once more and sat down, waiting for computer to respond… after a while Jitin asked me “is it up?” I said I am waiting for computer to start. Jitin looked at me and asked what is going on. I said confidently that I pressed the power button and it come up soon. He said ok and went back to professor, looking at white board for commands. We met this professor for first time since it was first computer class and everybody was very interested listening to the lecture.
You might think that the professor was teaching us for first time, or every one of us was using computer for first time (we had many people having computers at home) or it was first computer class and we were studying hard since it was first short semester and that why everyone was listening to interestingly. So the attraction was not the new high end computer or the Lab with good AC but it was really good looking lady professor who may have just finishing her studies and teaching us today first time and everyone was looking at her and studying seriously.. really seriously. After a while Jitin again glanced back and asked why the computer is still not up. I said I pressed the button. We were just taking in gestures and not words so he thought I pressed the power on button so something wrong with computer itself. So then we waited until the teacher ended her lecture and we turned back to computer. Jitin asked me to press the power button again and check. I said which power button. I already switched on the UPS. He asked if I pressed the power button I said “Yes”. He said did I press the power button on computer. I innocently said “No”. Jitin and Sonam burst into laughter and then Jitin got up and pressed the power button of computer and it started booting. I also burst in to laughter since it was the first time I switch on computer and that too horribly.  This was my first encounter with Computer in life…. I was a Maths bond and Jits (Jitin’s nick name) was a computer geek so we agreed that after college we will go to Jits home and then I will help him with Maths and I will work for some time on his computer... he used to call his computer "champu"… it was P1 and dam slower that the P4 machines we had in computer lab but it was the first every computer machine I wrote my completed working C++ program.  We started studying together, working out Maths and other subjects and compiling c++ program on his machines, which it use to compile without any problem but hell lot of coding error… and horrors…. and as we already started late for first session so we had our first and second session exams in quick succession and finally we had our finals… due to shortage of time… we had to stretch from morning 7 AM until 8 PM in the evening and sometime later as well... I can never forget the days when we really struggled to finish off our all subjects in a short time and real fascinating was the “Manufacturing Process” Workshop classes where actually sweat out cutting, filing wood to make boxes. Somehow I always had a good relationship with mechanics and logical thinking so I will say overall I was in a good stream to build my career and professional life.

The First and short Semester: The Shorted Class ever

The admission producer was delayed for our university because of various approvals (university recognition etc.) we had short time for first semesters and really tight schedule. Normally the sessions start by Aug/sep however as the IP entrance exams, then counseling and admissions was delayed therefore the first day was 19th of November for our first semester.
A day before, I was happy with dreams of going to college since I saw Delhi University college building like Ramjas College, Hansraj, Stephens where I applied to save my year with B. Sc. in case I do not make it to B Tech entrance. So I use to day dream about college life like we see in movies, having liberty to bunk classes and do whatever you want. This is exactly the same age where you are traversing through your adolescence so you feel like you are grown up enough to take your decisions etc. so getting freedom on top of it from school life type strictness and taking charge of your life adds more to feel free happiness. However today I feel that those are the days of life which can make or break someone. If you get good friends and channelize our energies in right direction you can be good or you can deep drown if you go other way. I saw both kind of people in my college time. People coming with higher ranks and paid seats scoring excellent marks and intelligent people coming in free sets flunking the exams. There were people how were still pursuing their dreams of getting in IIT/other better college and preparing for entrances so they were in this college as I took admission in B. Sc to save my year. I think those guys were putting double efforts of concentrating the current college and same time preparing for entrance exams to come.
Like every Teenager, I was also equally excited about my day 1 in college and finally my father told that he will drop me on day one since I never went to the west Delhi part until now and not familiar with route. He also wanted to see my college and drop me there. We had the address on my admission letter so we reached there and I found an equally bigger building with a playground and good area. It was Friday and i just met my first every college friends on that day Jitin, Sonam Raj, Akhil, Amerish and few other friends. 
On day 1 around 10 AM, everyone was there in common area and our director was addressing us. He welcomed us to be part of that institute and he urged us to put our best efforts to study and get the best from professors. He also promised that he will get us the best faculty and staff and provide any reasonable demands for making up best in studies (ours was a New university and 4 new colleges only). He also broke the news that our building was shared with a School so right hand side is school and left hand side is us which did not hurt us much since there was a partition between us and to a laymen we could tell that this entire is our college building for sake of telling that we study in a College and not school. I will appreciate the efforts of our director to bring the best teacher from premier institute for teaching us and I commend the efforts of every teacher there who tough us so he tried bring all the best things like we had the first running computer labs with all latest P4 at that time among all colleges and ahead of courses then other institutes. We also equally supported him by coming and attending all lectures on time and study carefully for first year since we were running short of time. We had our class starting at early morning 7 AM. I use to start from my home around 5.30 -6 to reach college in time. We had classes to early since the professors where guest faculty and they will teach us from 7-9 AM and will go to their college, then we will have a longer break in noon and then professors will be back in evening to teach us. The longer break meant spending time in AC Computer labs for some and for others Cricket time with Burgers and Pepsi from Cafe shop. Cafe shop anti ji will ensure that we never run out of Sauce for burgers and samosas.. I will usually sit in aisle on the stairs or in parking lot which was in ground and watch match with Jitin so we had s stronger friendship starting those days. At home, my mom was equally working hard for my studies, she will get up early and pack lunch for me so I and Jitin will share food. He would give his curry to me and will take my Stuffed Mirchi Achaar (pickle with Stuffed green chilllis) and we will enjoy food. Jitin's House was near to college to if we do have lectures post lunch we will go to his home and I will learn some C++ code and try my hands on programming since I did not have computer at home and Lab was always overcrowded at all times.  Jitin use to come by bus intially but then his dad allowed him to come by scooter since it was only 10 kms from his home so at times, we will go his home on scooter and he will switch off engine on the flyover while coming down ''Petrol Bachao Andolan" ("save Gas drive"). We used to be in touch with a local shop for getting some computer repair work so at times, we will go to Nehru place (an IT hub in delhi for hardware and software) and make money by assembly computers so that we can use it for our Patrol/Gas requirements.we along with Sonam and Akhil will go to Fests at IIT and other colleges and try to get free T Shirts. So we really had good days in college and we had a lot of Fun. Just FYI, I only went to 2 fests since I never liked them much as it will be late and my parent never allowed me to out of home after 9 PM and got a Free T shirts and Cap at IIT Delhi Fest in 1999
Coming back to college first day, it was our first class for physics and the teacher came and then classes were going like we are in school.. get up early, catch DTC bus to go to college and in some time the driver also knew to pick me up at 6 AM bus to Peera Garhi.. (route no 966)… it was still a little more like a school where we study and go home however we had really quick things to digest…Our first semester ended with quick uni tests and I scored well to my parents expectation.

For next 8 semesters my parent never asked me about my results and when exams are happening. I was on my own however today I feel that they never took their eyes from me. They let me do what I wish to do in life and allow me to groom freely however at same time they kept checking if I am right track.
I will share my results (unit tests and semester final exams) and my parents will just take it with the faith in had in me and I am very lucky to say that the same faith remained with them until today when I have traveled to Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and many other places during my job.
I will take this moment to again thank my parents who had so much trust in me that I will never go wrong as per our family tradition and in case I do something out of the way, they will understand and appreciate it. This confidence still exist today so I also kept the same faith and never let them go down any time in life.

One good thing to shared that I am a software engineer but when I tell you how I met computers in life for first time, it will be real fun. I have put it in next post so watch out for it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Letter to Arvind Kejriwal :: Looking for a Better Governance

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Engineering College: Really tuff to get into :-)

I scored around 82% in my 12th class. I appeared for most of the entrance exams I could. I always worked for MCQs so as the results were out… I got 790 rank in DCE but I got better ranks in UP and MP entrances and I wanted to go for computers/IT and computers seats normally just fills in about 150+ ranks in DCE so not hops there. I was ready to explore then next in canceling dates...UPSEAT… my rank was good so it was the second day of counseling and I was at IT College, Lucknow with my father. We reached the second day since my rank was good there and we got to know that we need to get a DD instead of cash so we got our DD ready in noon time and kept waiting for turn. Finally, my turn came around 11 PM and there were lot of free seats available… I happily opted for a free seat for computers in one of the government college and felt like life is all set now. The counselor took some time and then told me that only domiciles (people who are born or have their parents living in UP) are eligible for the free seats which I was never aware of and it was never mentioned in the entrance exam Boucher also…. It was like a shock for me and dad as we have been waiting for our chance since morning. I was born in UP however if I was aware of this fact I would have got the domiciliary proof however now it’s too late and no time to get proof since counselling will be over in next couple of days and all seats will be filled up. I realized it was a real bad decision to leave DCE seat for a computers branch…everything in life ends on a beautiful note… so if it is not beautiful then it is not the end… The next day we got our DD cancelled and then we came back to Delhi… Now our next stop was MP… and we are preparing our tour’de’ MP university. We already knew the place to stay in MP… my grandfather had few friends there so this time he went with me to MP instead of Dad so that he can also meet his old time friends… we reached the beautiful capital of MP…. BHOPAL…the place to stay was not very far away from the station…we got a bus no 9 to reach Arara colony, one of the posh societies of Bhopal… we spent a day there since we had appointment for next day. We checked with local helpdesk on how to reach our counselling office… next day we were moving to the IT college, Bhopal.. It was the month of September when spring was sets in… Bhopal is a real beautiful and nice city to see at that time…all lush green and we passed by those 2 lakes which makes it even more beautiful city. We got a cab from there to go to RangShala where we wanted to meet one of the professors at REC college for understanding the education system in MP…after the talk we moved to IT college by another Bus….once I reached there I liked the way things were moving and it looked quite professional attitude from the authorities there…anyways we went into a big open counselling area… there was a big display screen with college name, branch and seats available… I was very happy to see a lot of free seats available in few government colleges… I had a list of college I made after discussion with professor. Finally my turn came in and I chose the computer branch instantly without second thought. I felt luckily to get a seat for IT in REC College... I was really happy and my grandfather was also good with seat selection… We returned home happily… we got a train from HabibGanj station… we reached delhi and luckily it was the time for Tika (like rakhi) in Delhi where 4 of our extended families was gathered for celebration…as they came to know I have chosen computer as a branch I could feel a collective resistance from all of them since none of them had used or seen computer until that tiem in life and they were not so common…Ultimately, we made up mind to move to MP again and choose Mechanical branch… the very next day we were on the station again for the train to MP… we got a ticket with almost the last number in the waiting list….an un-reserved coach…. We paid some amount to TT to get single seat… next morning we reached MP and again started out journey to IT College… we reached there and it was the last day for admission and almost all the seats were finished… in prefer to wait for an year rather than getting payment seat in newly build college…we went to surrender my seat…. what??? Was the reaction of person whom I asked for surrender… after all it was a Free seat with lowest fee in Government College. He looked at me as I am going for a sin act… however he confirmed once more… and I said yes with a heavy heart.. J… We got our DD back… it we had been late by a single day then we need to go to the college to get the DD and other documents. As soon as the person cancelled my seat, I saw the 1 against the college, IT branch… it did not take more than 3 seconds for counter to get back to 0….I was like dead and not able to think what have I done… anyways one always realizes the damage once it is done…I was not sure why I could not resist this decision by my family.. One of the facts was even I was not sure what is happening… I just kept following that others suggested…anyways, we moved back to Delhi… I was a little low however I was always an optimistic person and never cribbed about life…whatever came to me I accepted, whenever I wanted something I pushed my all power for it.. I think that is the real strength of my character… so when people think something is all over I work on it and get it done… therefore as per my nature, I started preparing for GATE and was planning to enroll for the One year course for next year entrance exams… I almost made up my mind for next year and I got something to cheer about again…It was third day only after all of the pain when I heard about a new university… Indraprastha University... I filled up the exam and within 2 weeks we got the results and the counseling dates... I was invited for second day for ranks 250 until 500 and y rank was 490…I was sitting there since morning and my parent joined me in the evening… I was surprised to hear that 24 people got the same marks but as I was having letter starting with V I got the rank as 490… My hard luck the last free seat for IT was over by 480… I wish I had a name starting with AAA so that I would have got the IT Free seat… however our fate is already decided so no point cribbing and lets go was my, mother and dad there and three of us were really confused as we were not able to decide which branch to opt for…I left my MP seat for getting a Mechanical Branch Free Seat (as everyone was telling its ever green and never gets you out of jobs in market), second was an Free Electrical seat which none of knew and wanted to opt for for and third was paid seats for IT... When we were fighting with all thoughts and my turn was about to come in next 10 mins my father came back with and old person who was also there for his some relative. Dad already had a detailed talk with the person before they arrived. Me and mom did not know who he was and dad told that he is suggesting to take IT since it will help us in future... We were all confused and since none of my parent were from engineering back ground, his words really counted a lot for all of us. Those 10 misn were where my fate was stamped again (i already told its decided already what we will do in life so this is just s stamping for it)... he said to my father “If you chose IT you will do something for you son and trust me you will not regret your decision”. We surrendered to his magical voice and those were the golden words of my life…Our minds were all thinking of Paid IT seat only and I was standing waiting for my turn (to be called in next 5 mins), my parents were standing little away and thinking of how to pay 80k per year which was my fee. I looked at them and the smiled at me and dad came to me. my name was called and we went to the desk and when he asked for a seat I was still confused but my father said in bold voice with a sense of pride looking at me.. IT seat.. Paid IT seat.. is that really what I heard and my father just gave his go ahead.. I was like shocked and could not express my happiness.. that person who guided us was not there.. may be he was an angle sent for us to decide my our lives.. we opted for IT branch and my new Identity was 99/GT/IT/43 for next 4 years to come…
we came out of counseling hall with lot of relief and happiness and we got onto my dad's scooter which on that day did not feel like having any trouble else I will keep cursing that scooter for bad breaks, loose clutch and as usual missing gears.. 
That day was one of the moment of pride for me again that my father bet his life's earning to make my career and to get me what I asked him silently. He did not show any emotions or happiness but I could feel the pride feeling and happiness he had in his heart with sense of achievement like any other parent that his son will not be an Engineer.. I was one of the First to be Engineer in my entire Family.
We all drove home by 11 pm and my Grandfather who will normally have his dinner around 9 PM as daily ritual was still waiting for us. He was all really happy to hear the news and higher pride since both his son and grandson have done something that no one has done in our family yet.. He was in army so came and shook hands firmly and said "good done engineer varun sharma" and we saluted each other in his army style. I touched his feet and he hugged and blessed me and then we had dinner together and it was end of a tiring, stressful, happy, relieving day so a Day Full of Emotional ups and down and I still thank that Angle professor to help us get where I am today in life.
I realize that I am not the first person in world who got into an engineering college with a lot of difficulties/hiccups. I could understand that reason for all this hassle was lack of awareness about engineering colleges in India both for me and my family, not having career counseling at primary level (which could happen in 12th class), the state wise entrance exams where one does now know which university is better and which all exams one should apply as fees for each exam is not less than 1000 rs.…Today the selection process is limited to colleges in a state, however I believe one day it will become - a country wide selection criterion rather than state wise and this help those who cannot really afford to appear for multiple exams...
Having gone though all this, I associated with an NGO where I do this kind of counseling to help people understand what they can excel in... Depending upon their interest, family status etc... I believe I should help others so that people should know what is smart way to earn good in life..
In last, I am really thankful to my parents who supported me for my studies. It is all the result of pain that we all bore during our studies that I and my brother are in a good position. All we are today is because of my parent dedication, hard work and they wanted their children to study and become something to be proud of. I am there are still milestones to achieve... :-)