Saturday, April 24, 2010

PSBB Teachers 25 - Radhakrishnan Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 24 here)

Maths/Class Teacher - '98

Mrs.Radhakrishnan - Not sure if her name was Radha Krishnan or she went just by her last name, but Radhakrishnan mam was known as that only. She taught Maths for us in 8th standard and was also our class teacher. A very low-profile, disciplinarian who was yet another wonderful Maths teacher (again yet another teacher) with precise, neat hand-writing. That year was also party to what could be called a controversy in high school circles - I was the Class Leader then, and played hand cricket inside class before school-hours began and there was a group that wanted to see me ousted, and they promptly pottu-koduthufied me to her. She, however, after a strict telling-off, did not oust me from class-leadership. For whatever reason, her quiet and serious demeanour made her one of my most respected teachers in PSBB.

(Part 26 here)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On being Unclear if we are Nuclear

(Originally written on Sept 23, 2009 - during the height of the controversy, but remained in my drafts)
I am almost nobody to comment on whether India should or should not test a nuclear bomb. All I want is for India to be a nation which conclusively, correctly possesses a nuclear bomb so as have minimum credible deterrence. Now, however, I see that with Dr.Santhanam's claim, half the scientific community and most of the country thinks we dont possess an actual proper nuke. Unfortunately, since this has been made public, now other nations (most notably Pakistan and China) know.
Given the conditions of the Civilian Nuke Deal with the US, I understand there is no way we can even think about testing a nuclear bomb now, let alone actually test it. I would not have been really worried if, as Dr.Santhanam claims, our nuke test was indeed a "fizzle", but none of those outside the Indian scientific community/government knew of it. At least, we would, on paper, still have minimum credible deterrence. Now, it is apparent that we don’t, going by even one informed voice of dissent.

It is also sad to see Dr.Kalam's name being unnecessarily dragged into this and tarnished. Unfortunately, I cannot sympathize with him either, given that Dr.Iyengar's & Dr.Santhanam's statements about his incapacity to not comment on the issue because of his not being a nuclear physicist are spot on, irrespective of their words about the actual nuclear test.

All I can do now is sit back and hope/pray that one of the following happens -
1. The dispute is settled after a thorough & intensive investigation and Dr.Santhanam is convincingly proved false and everyone in BARC assures us that we do, indeed, possess a nuclear weapon.
2. If Dr.Santhanam is proved right, we should go ahead and test again until we are sufficiently satisfied about the capacity of the bomb. In this case, I have no idea what will happen to the Indo-US Nuclear deal and the slew of sanctions which will obviously follow.
3. Even if the test was indeed a fizzle, the government should settle for a behind-the-doors agreement with Dr.Santhanam, asking him to come out and state that he was wrong in his claims and that he has now, after seeing NEW information, been sufficiently satisfied with the capability of the bomb. This should obviously not be so naive that he merely retracts his words. Whatever, the international community (mainly China & Pakistan) should be convinced that we are a nuclear power, basically, to attain minimum credible deterrence.

Obviously, most preferable is 2 and least preferable is 3. The worst thing to happen, of course, would be the persistence of the current stalemate, where the government just issues a few rebuttals here and there, the media publishes them, then conveniently goes on to the next controversial tweet by Shashi Tharoor or another gang-rape of a mother in Mumbai or (the media's favourite bunny) the investigation into Modi's role in the Godhra riots. And I will not be surprised if this last thing happens, it isn't beyond India.

Until such time, however, I will just have to sit back and whine like this. I am, after all, an insignificant face in the crowd, just another ordinary Indian citizen.

Monday, April 12, 2010

PSBB Teachers 24 - Subhashree Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 23 here)

English - '96-'98

Mrs.Subhashree Chandramouli - Quite possibly, the most "fun" and student-friendly-type teacher during the 6th-8th period in PSBB-TP. A chubby, cute, well-dressed teacher with an awesome sense of humour, she totally knew how to endear herself to us students, and endear herself she did, so much so that she was probably the first teacher we demanded to have as our class teacher in 8th standard, at the end of 7th standard, when she taught us English, for the first time. Sadly (for us), C section got to have her as their class teacher in 8th standard.
(On a side note, her daughter, Divya C was a year senior to us in school.)

(Part 25 here)

My problem with this Overdose of Social Networking...

A friend quoted 'The Greatest Comedian of All Times' (in her words. I'm guessing Seinfeld, but not sure) - "You've got to give people a chance to miss you a little bit" in the context of Google Buzz. Hilarious though the statement is, it drips with truth all over. Still... though I totally agree with it, this isn't my problem. Or wait, it might be.

Cliched phrases like "The world is getting smaller" and "It's the communication age" often take into account only the technological capability for the world to be more networked & connected. What's more important is whether this increased connectivity leads to more interpersonal communication (which, IMHO, should be the actual meaning of "improved connectivity" wrt humans).

A new social networking site immediately kindles hopes. Hopes of reconnecting with people we've lost touch with. And make no mistake, it's amazing how, with every such new social n/w option, we somehow "reconnect" with a someone we've lost touch with. Logically speaking, if we're in the "Connected" age now, then it automatically implies we should only make "new" social contacts, and not "renew" older ones, right? Sadly, Not the case. And herein lies my complaint.

Now this might be a totally personal issue, but I've steadily noticed this happening ever since my first mega-"separation from friends" happened, when I came to the US for grad studies. First, we had email & chat (ok technically not social networking, but networking nevertheless), which we somehow seemed to use with friends in college. Then orkut happened, and I remained devoted to it even when Facebook came. And then twitter happened. For me, twitter was/is awesome in that I got to meet a lot of new like-minded folks (apart from getting to see some serious humour from the usual suspects). That's another story.

That Expectation kills, is realized in all its true glory with every new social networking site. 2 unrelated cases -
  • A very dear friend from college who shockingly fell wide outside the radar ever since I came here. Chat happened for a few months after I came here. Then it became email once-a-year or when there was a necessity, which is how it is now. Screw emails, screw chat, screw orkut, screw FB, screw twitter. And now, she's following me in Buzz. Am I to expect some "renewal" now and be disappointed?
  • Another good friend who followed me in twitter. The more I tweeted, the more I was rudely shocked as to how little she reacted/interacted with me via tweets. And it wasn't the case that we were in spectacular touch over phone/chat. Where twitter gave us an excellent opportunity to interact, broadcast thoughts, I got this feeling of gross neglect. After a point I was so frustrated (paranoid?) I ended up blocking her. Can you believe it? Immaturity/childishness at its glorious best alright, but it wasn't without reason. It's like Eve's reasoning in "Paradise Lost" - I'm better off knowing fully well she doesn't follow me and not expecting any communication than vice versa.
You see, I am egoistic alright, but there is a threshold in friendship beyond which I absolutely shed all ego. All the people above had very much crossed this threshold, and there is no cause for any of my ego with them. You see, a friend NOT RT'ing me in twitter isn't an issue. That someone who is so close to me fails to react to something I have to say (which, in most cases, happens to be "important", "contentious", "reaction-provoking", etc. which is exactly stuff good friends are supposed to talk about, and which we do talk about, day in and day out) really gives me this enormous "conscious" (as naive users of English would say). Neglect? Dumbness? Idiocy?
  • Doesn't (s)he have anything to say about what I just tweeted?
  • Did I say something that's so dumb it failed to evoke any reaction from him/her?
  • If (s)he responds to/RT's someone else's, why didn't (s)he do so for mine, which was very similar.
    and so on...
After all, what is good friendship without your "friend" having something to say on whatever (at least most of it) you say, and reacting to/understanding whatever you say the way your statement was meant by you. Sadly, in my case, 95 % of the times, at least one of the two was true (not reacting/misunderstanding what I said).
(Please don't give me weak/dumb suppositions that my friend was busy/didn't see what I said. I have said all this only because the supposition isn't strong enough as a fact or is simply not relevant.)

Another thing I noticed is that newer social networking sites are being used by people to keep in touch with current contacts, and not old ones, which is how it should be.

Social networking today has pretty much been reduced to "rich getting richer & poor getting poorer" - huge egos becoming more bloated & small hearts made smaller.

A simple look at the number of people following more than 250 somewhat-regular-tweeters will prove my point. If you have a job & a life, there is NO WAY in this wide world that you will be able to sincerely follow more than 250 folks. I follow 50 and this pretty much takes a huge chunk of my non-work, non-sleep time. Which means people follow others just so they will re-follow you? How sad!

And that, again manifests itself when there's yet another new social networking enabler. Buzz is great, no questions about it, but it is, no doubt, poised to create a buzz in the minds of the buzzer about whether his buzz is actually creating any buzz.

Monday, April 5, 2010

PSBB Teachers 23 - Lakshmi Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 22 here)

Sanskrit - '95-'98

Mrs.Lakshmi Krishnaratnam - Lakshmi mam was the other Sanskrit teacher we had during the 6th-8th period. She gave the impression of being this typical affluent Tam-Brahm society-lady - impeccable & fresh sarees, and used to drive to school everyday in her light blue Fiat/Premier Padmini (that's always been a confusion for me). While Girija mam was the more middle-classly-relatable & less-flamboyant-talk types, Lakshmi mam's demeanour was endearing in her own unique way. :)

(Part 23 here)