Archive for the ‘Life’ Tag

Is all this just a subculture?

I really love technology. It has given me a whole different meaning to my life and the lives of so many people. It is almost like another culture which all of us are a slowly becoming a part of. Think about it..

PCs, Internet, Blogs,  Mobile devices, Portable Media players, Software, Open Source stuff, Podcasts,  Hardware, Technology Conferences, Web 2.0 (sorry kitty),  Online communities, RSS feeds.

(Image from ryyo)

This is my culture. I tend to exist in these things most of my day and I love it. These and other related things give me all the necessary motivation and meaning to continue to exist and continue to do things which I love.Technology also gives so much power to the users. Vast amount of knowledge, and ability retrieve it almost instantaneously. It’s so crazy, that many times I get drunk in its power, and ability to do things..

On an MRT ride last week.. I suddenly had this thought…

Is this just a subculture??

Really… how big and potent is this culture? Is it possible that I delve too much in these things that I do not see the world beyond it? How much have all these things affected the general population of the world.. How much has it actually changed the world?… not my world.. but the world in general…

I wonder……

Two weekends with speechcraft…

Speechcraft: “Speechcraft is a special program to develop your public speaking abilities. Experienced speakers and communicators present the basics of public speaking in a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere.”

I had volunteered to help out in the two sessions of Speechcraft organised by the NUS Toastmasters. Despite being in Toastmasters for 4 years I really suck at it (Easily attributable to my laziness to do projects..), hence I was just helping in facilitating the workshop.

There were two session of speechcraft organised by NUSTM on 12th and 26th of May. The idea was to get some recognition within the NUS community and at the same time help fellow NUS students to start on honing their public speaking skills.

The workshops were aimed at beginners, and thus addressed basic skills like stage fright, nervousness and organisation of your speech. Some of the senior members of NUSTM were the trainers for the workshop, including Weike Tay and Eric Feng.

While whole day workshops are tiring, I was very satisfied with what I gained form it. I am not sure how much I helped them, but they surely taught me a couple of things. It’s almost ironical but true is most cases. We go in with the expectation of teaching/training people, but end up learning a few lessons ourselves….

Well such is life… Beautiful. :D

What does NTT stand for??

OK. I am almost sick of people asking me this question.

Can’t a guy have a nick without having to explain its etymology??

For all those who absolutely need to know, here it goes.

Long long ago, in the southern province of China….

Erm.. sala… wrong story.)

Long long ago, when NTT was in secondary school, he used to be absolutely crazy about aircrafts. Especially military aircrafts. He knew all about them and could recognise most of them from any angle.

Thus, NTT started calling himself Tupolev, after the Russian aircraft manufacturer, who made aircrafts like such the TU-160…..

NTT really liked the TUs, and the fact that not many people knew about them.

In JC days, when NTT had to come up with a nick name to use in those quick CS games (in the computers at the back of the classrooms, during lunch breaks), he obviously chose “Tupolev“.

During Uni, when NTT organized orientation for his Juniors, there was a group of his friend who were playing pranks by writing “Not The” behind every thing they saw. Such as….

And soon using “Not The” before your nick-name became an ‘in’ thing among his friends.

Thus, NTT was born. So here you go…. NTT = Not The Tupolev….

Later, NTT also realised that “NTT” sounds like “entity”, which has some kind of zen feeling to it.

Now NTT is just plain old lazy to find a new nick, or use his real name (which is difficult to pronounce properly for most people).

Shifting’s a Bitch

I just shifted residence over the weekend, and it was a bitch.

I shouldn’t really be complaining since I realised that I had not planed at all for this move at all. I started packing the day before the movers were supposed to come down. BIG Mistake.

We packed the whole day and only managed to get like half the house done. Luckily the movers were nice enough to come later in the day. So we managed to pack most of the stuff by then.

In the hurry, I forgot to label all the boxes and now I don’t know what’s in what. This is really annoying. What’s worst is that many boxes don’t contain things related in any way. Just a random set of things which happened to fit. So now, opening each box is becoming like opening a present, you never know what’s going to inside.

I also forgot to pack all the daily requirements and basic stuff separately, and hence, I now I am missing quite a few of the important item, including my toiletries. Thus, NTT has not shaved for a few days and looks erm.. you get the picture. :(

Anyway, here are a few lessons I learned this time around. I hope I will be able to use them next time I have to shift.

1 ) Stop collecting useless old junk.

2 ) “Sentimental things” can be scanned can kept as soft copies to save space (Thanks to sweska for this tip :) )

3 ) Trash all unrequired item, and bad, broken, not-working stuff. You are never gonna have the time to repair it.

4 ) Plan the shifting well. (I am talking about pencil, paper and a schedule..)

5 ) Don’t rush the packing. (3-4 days is a good time frame)

6 ) Pack stuff that required immediately separately and label the box accordingly.

7 ) Pack all the food seperately and label that as well.

8 ) Label all the boxes properly.

9 ) Use boxes for everything, plastic bags are evil things.

10 ) Use trolleys and stuff with wheels to move things around. It’s easier..

NTT Loves NUS

NTT misses his Alma Mater so much that today he rushed from work, much to the annoyance of colleagues and bosses, and took a 1.5hrs bus ride changing 3 busses to get to his Alma Mater.

A flurry of sms, a quick, lonely dinner and a shuttle bus ride later, NTT took a cab all the way back home.

NTT really loves NUS and he needs to check his calendar more often.

Free Beer!.. umm.. it’s not Free..

I found Free Beer!! And for the rest of the non-alcoholic us, there is free soda (or pop.. or soft drink)! But, you’ll probably have to pay a lot to buy it.

Alright, so English is one confusing language, and moreover it’s very badly used. And ‘free’ tops the list. Latin seems somewhat better, since people use Latin words to differentiate between the various meanings of ‘free’. With lot of free things floating around the web, its good to know what ‘free’ actually means. So, there is :

Free as in “free beer”.

This is similar to the Latin word gratis, or in more descriptive English, free of monetary cost.

Like free beer at a party. You have the permission to use the object (drink the beer) without any payment, but you do not have rights to the beer or ownership of it. You can’t bring it home, etc.

Free as in “free speech”.

This is similar to the Latin word libre or in more descriptive English, free of restrictions.

Like free speech, you can use the object, reproduce it, re-purpose it, and generally do whatever you want with it. One possible restriction is that you might need to credit the source of the object.

OK. So here the most confusing thing of all.

The Free Beer, is free like Free Speech!!!!

Getting most out of your University time…

Having gone through 4 years of undergraduate studies in NUS (I believe it applies for NTU), I realized that most students approach their university studies incorrectly.

Xsmatters had a very well written article about this. While the article is specifically directed at entrepreneurship it also applies generally.

Universities are great places for youths to learn, grow and do something worthwhile. They provide a lot of resources, both physical and psychological for students to use. But how many people actually take full advantage of it? Do You?

It is actually very simple to make most of your univeristy. The important ideas can be encapsulated in three points, three verbs, three action items. Create, Challenge, Communicate.

Create

Being in the university gives you access to the great wealth of knowledge, libraries, the faculty. And other resources like fellow undergraduates, and facilities like the business incubators. There are also many CCAs and clubs which lets students explore many interesting areas. Furthermore most of these are either subsidized or free.

University was the only time when I had the freedom, time and the resources to create something. I did not have any great responsibility, or pressing deadlines. Perfect environment to think of new ideas, work on some of your own initiatives, learn something new, start your own business.

Specifically, I believe that with any course, you can learn a lot more if you try to be creative, come of with new ideas, theories, concepts, and play around. Coming from the more theoretical and ‘stiff’ faculty of engineering, I felt the need to have more creative learning environment. But I will not direct this rant against the education system. In the given education system, the students should take the initiative to be creative.

Challenge

Students should challenge anything that they do not believe in or agree. This is something I saw when I was on exchange. In DTU, students were encouraged to ask question anytime during the lecture. While this might be true for most NUS/NTU lectures, there, most students actually asked questions. Many times the tutors and lecturers were challenged over their material. This might seem a little rude according to Asian culture, but I saw great benefit in it. During some of the courses I had really amazing discussions with the lecturers, providing great insights into the subject.

I believe, students should not accept anything given to them blindly. While this is rampant at secondary school level, university should make students think and come up with their own conclusions. The aim is to create graduates, not mindless sheep who can only follow the leader.

Once, you start challenging things, you realized how many redundant things you are doing. Do you really want to do this? What will you get from doing this? Is it really that important? Can you spend this time doing something more creative, which would help you achieve your personal goals or aims?

Communicate

This is one of the most basic, but most important issue I see in local universities. Again, I do feel its a cultural thing. Students can’t or those who can, don’t communicate.How many times has the lecturer asked a question during the lecture, and received a silence as a reply?? How many?? And the lecturer ends up answering his/her own question. This is just sad. (This is rampant in Engineering. What about other faculties??)

Students need to communicate well in order to get the most from their university education. They need to tell the lecturers what they understand, what they don’t. They need communicate with their peers to exchange ideas and discuss course work. They need to communicate with people around university to generate new relationships to grow and learn. But, we don’t. We prefer to stick in our own cozy cocoons and never dare to explore.

I have seen so many students, which great ideas or contents for their presentation, but just lack the communication aspect of it. Their presentation fell flat. Isn’t it sad, that while they knew what they wanted to say, and it did make sense, but they just couldn’t get their point across.


While these three points are not the mantra for getting into dean’s list every semester, I found them very useful in achieving a fulfilling experience during the final year. I did take many risks by challenging the norms, going beyond my comfort zone in many instances, and trying out different things. In the end, I had lots of fun, learned many things, made many new friends, and still managed to graduate at the end…

I need an Idea….

Now, I am 100% sure, working in the Industry kills every ounce of creavity left inside you. During my final year at NUS and before I got my job, I was brimming full of Ideas.

My little scribble book was filling up on an almost daily basis with interesting little ideas for small and large projects. Some stuff would be considered innovative, some almost fantastical, but all of it creative in my own sense.

For the last 2 months, I have not touched my scribble book. It sits at the bottom of bag. Holding all the sparks of inspirations..

I have neither the time to continue developing those ideas, nor am I comming up with new Ideas.

Life has become another mundane chore… Sigh.. To think I actually wanted this….

I remember…

I generally hate weather like today’s. Dark, overcast skies only bring back images of the Danish winter, not the best part of my six months there. Such weather always makes me sad, depressed and lazy.

But today was different, something about the light, weather and the smell of those few drops of rain, brought back really old memories.

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I remember….. when I had gone for a week long camp. It was in Primary school. 4th Standard to be precise. That would be Primary 4 according to Singapore terminologies. We used to live in Dombivili (one of the suburbs of Mumbai), and my school had organised a camp for us in the wilderness near Pune.

As I started remembering things, a flood of memories came back to me. The prep for the camp. The equipment list. The HUGE Mug with a wierd smell. :D The hand-me-down shoes. The candies during the bus ride. The camp site. The wilderness. The lonely feeling. The treasure hunt. The gender segrigated sleeping arrangement. The loud snoring at night. The flooded river. The games, and the shorts w/o any pockets. The Gorge-Walk. The morning tea. The climb to Sinhagad. The khichadi sans salt. The nite-watch. The open milk-maid tin and the cut finger. The disgusting toilets and washing plates with salt/sand.

It was such a great time, not a care in the world! I remember feeling scared and missing my parents a lot. I also remember making a whole lot of great friends and even more mischief. And most of all, I remember the amazing nature that I saw. I have seen more beautiful natural beauty and some really amazing sights in my life, but that week in the foothills of Sinhagad, I will never forget.

I don’t remember the name of the village where we stayed or the name of the organisation that held this camp. All I remember is that the camp was named ROOTS!

ED: I do remember the name of the village.. it was khanapur, in the foothills of Sinhagad…

I wish…

On such days I feel for Frodo… He loved the ring, and yet he hated it for making him and everyone around him the way they were, miserable…. Throughout the journey he only wished to destroy it, and yet even at the final moment, he faltered… His will and heart was beyond his control…

I remember his words.

He said, “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened

But then I remember Gandalf’s reply, “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us ……. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”

Surely, it is not for me to decide what should have been.  But maybe this was all meant to be, and hopefully one day I will know the reason why…

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