Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In The End

"Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time.."

I have about 2 weeks to go now before i enter another time, dimension of sorts. I have about 2 weeks where i can be who i am parents son (oh..and a brother too!). I have some 2 weeks before i'll have to rip out whatever/whoever was nearest and dearest to me from my heart so that i can selfishly focus on starting life afresh, instead of hiding behind colourful and cherished memories of the past.

It all seems so painful, leaving loved ones and the wonderful times you've spent together behind. Now that i can count the number of days left, i realize how precious every second i spent/will spend with my mother, father, bro, Aditi and friends was/is. When in bed at night, instead of thinking about what i am supposed to do in the coming days..what i am supposed to do to start a new life, all i can seem to think of is what i did in the past and what i could've done to make it better.

But all this introspection of past thoughts, etched in my mind didn't just happen overnight. A series of events in the past week or so has given me a quick, condensed view of my past life. I went to my school, Swami Vivekanand High School a few days ago...only to see it hasn't changed one bit since i left it in March 2000. I wanted to meet my teachers, the ones who made me the person I am today, one last time. I clearly remember having cried on the day of my 10th Std. farewell party, overburdened by thoughts of having to let go of people whom you had held so close to your heart for a good decade or so. It had been 7 long years since i had gone back...and to my surprise, every single one of the teachers (even those whom i wanted to avoid) recognized me! Standing on a floor, plonk in between a group of bustling students with samosa pavs and tiffin boxes in their hands, teachers scolding some for being late and the peons shouting at some for dirtying the floor, i was, for a brief amount of time, teleported to my school days...when i was probably the one getting shouted at for being late. And yet, in a matter of few days after the farewell..i went on with my life as a junior college student and my teachers went on with theirs.

On sunday, i decided to meet the professor who taught me Physics and Mathematics in my 11th and 12th standard. He couldn't believe his eyes and was so happy to see me. Nothing had changed; the same room, the same blackboard and his bugging voice. For a minute or two, i pictured myself sitting in the class, nodding my head to whatever he said and snickering at the comments passed by my friends. And yet, in a matter of few days after my HSC...i went on with my life as an engineering student and he went on with his.

A few days ago, out of nowhere, my dad found a CD which had a few pictures and a video of my 3rd birthday. Seeing pictures of my dad and mom holding and hugging me, and the sheer delight on my face seeing so many people (and the gifts), teleported me back to the time where i was pampered by my parents beyond belief. And yet, i've been able to hold back those distant memories and get on with life...just like my parents.

On the 22nd of July, Aditi left for the USA to pursue her higher studies. The past year and a half that i've spent with her, has by far been my best. With our fair share of ups and downs, twists and turns, i couldn't imagine she was actually leaving. Infact, it was only after a day or so did it sink into me, when i kept looking at the phone every 5 mins thinking she would call, that she had actually left. To say i was depressed would be a gross understatement. I got an email from her saying how she was missing people back home and felt lonely there. And yet, today when i woke up..somehow, i didn't feel the pain...the emptiness. I fired her an email saying she'll get over it...and get over it she will. A few more days, and i'll get on with my life preparing to leave and she'll get on with hers as a graduate student.

I watched friends cry at the station too the other day, when we had gone to bid farewell to another dear friend, Shweta. Tears were everywhere...and yet today, shes busy and tied up with her training and we all have got used to the fact that she isn't around and gone about with our daily life.

I now realize that we have to make the best of every single day we have, with whoever is around us. It wont take long for us to shove down all these wonderful memories into some corner of our head in our race against time...a race we always end up losing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

MS for Dummies! - Part 2

Now that you're done with the most difficult and time consuming part of applying for a MS; the pre-application, the next step is a lot easier and quicker. Infact, if you've done your work during the pre-application stage...this step is just putting it together..thts it!

1) The "application" can as such be classified into 2 types: The online application and the offline application. In this day and age of internet and the WWW, the online application is a no-brainer! Its a lot faster, reliable and most of all, cheaper. Infact, most universities insist on the student sending an online application instead of a printed application form.

2) Since I myself only applied online, i'll discuss about the same only. Every university application has an "electronic" as well as a "paper" part to it. Typically the electronic part consists of an online application form and payment of the application fees. In many cases, at the end of the online application, you might receive a student or application ID. Note this down and provide this number in all your correspondences with the university, online or otherwise. The application fees typically vary from as low as 25$ to as high as 85$ per application. Credit cards can be used for the very same. The paper part of the application basically consists of all the documents (SOPs, LORs, transcripts, financial statements/affidavits and in some cases additional forms prescribed by the university) required to verify the claims you have made in your online application form.

3) The transcripts and letters of recommendation must be signed/stamped on every page and must be sealed in individual envelopes, also bearing the signature and stamp on all the openings. Other documents can be put in individual sealed envelopes. All the envelopes must have your name, student/application ID, date of birth and must state the contents of that particular envelope. All the individual, white envelopes can then be placed in a larger, FIBER envelope. Also put in a single page stating the documents you have provided, your full name, date of birth and your application ID in the fiber envelope. Seal the fiber envelope properly. On the outside, write the TO address boldly and legibly in black ink. The TO address will specifically be mentioned in your application page. If in doubt, send an email over to the university. Typically, each department has a slightly different address. Apart from this, on the lower left corner, also provide the FROM address i.e YOUR address along with your telephone number (complete with the country code 91 and the area code).

4) Once you've filled the forms online, payed the application fee and organized/packed the application a final check as to if everything is in order as per the requirements of the university. This is when, all the work AND the lil diary i asked you to maintain in the previous step will help you out a LOT!

5) Now, you can send these applications via courier. FEDEX, DHL, UPS are the most well known courier services. But they are pretty damn expensive (even after factoring the "student" discount). On an average, they charge about Rs.900 for each packet. What you could do instead is send your packets through "agents" who'll charge you exactly HALF of what FEDEX, DHL etc charge you and ultimately your packet gets routed through FEDEX, DHL etc. only. One such agent is "Parla book house" near the McDonald's in Vile Parle. There are a few more if you bother searching/asking. Insist on a tracking number so that you'll know exactly where your packet is.

You are officially DONE with the application step. Typically you should have finished this stage by the middle of your 7th semester...sometime around October-November...LATEST by December.

Each time you pay the application fee online, either PRINT or SAVE the application confirmation page. It proves indispensable in case of any hiccups. Also, within 3-4 days of sending the application packet, send an email over to the concerned person in each university telling them that the packet has been dispatched on such and such a date and asking them to acknowledge the receipt of the same. You might not get a reply most of the times, but keep the mail for your record.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

MS for Dummies!

I am (almost) at the end of the MS right of passage. Come the interview on the 27th of this month, and hopefully, all the running/writing/begging/cursing/screaming/shouting/sleepless nights and what not should bear fruit.

This blog might prove to be very useful for a LOT of people. Unlike what you will find on many websites, handbooks or what your stupid, daft counselors will tell you, this is a "hands on" view to "approaching" MS in the USA. This is what i had to go through; the good, the bad and the ugly. There were times i made some really good decisions for which i pat myself on the back now. But there were also a few for which i need to kick myself on my posterior.

Note:This blog is not GUIDE (official or unofficial) of any sort. This is being provided purely for your reference. Im simply listing the procedures and processes i followed. If you screw cannot hold me responsible for it.

On that "serious" note..lets begin the journey throught the intrepid and often frustrating world of MS! The "approach" to MS can broadly be classified into 3 stages:
i. Pre-application
ii. Application
iii. Post application

Because of the length, i will be splitting this blog based on the 3 stages. Lets look at the most important, pre-application stage today.


1) Engineering students who intend applying for a MS in the USA need to start scratching their heads from the 4th sem vacations itself. Wrap up your GRE/TOEFL at ANY COST in your third year itself. I recommend you take the TOEFL first. Its easier, and will get you familiar with how computer based testing works (..and the hospital like exam centre atmosphere..). Another reason you might want to finish off your GRE/TOEFLs is because, by chance (or because of your laziness/stupidity/GF/BF :p) if you screw up your tests, you'll still have some time to retake them without adversely affecting your application process.

2) You must realize, YOU and YOURSELF alone are the ones who are going to attend the MS program in the university. NOT your friend...NOT your counselor. I cannot emphasis how important it is to research/select the universities of your choice. If you are lucky, you might find a guy/gal who'll do this day in and day out (:D) could piggyback on them to save sometime. But the more efforts you put into this process, the more it'll save u hassles and heartburns later on.

3) This list of universities should initially consist of approximately 20 odd universities that broadly meet your requirements (fees, location, course, faculty, research, job prospects etc.). Every university has loads of information regarding these. Take some time out and go through them. You can start eliminating them on specific grounds a little later. Prepare this list if possible, BEFORE you take your GRE/TOEFL so that you can make use of the facility to automatically send your respective test scores to the universities (upto 4) you select. Trust me, this will save you gob loads of time, effort and money later on. Also, beyond those 4 universities to which your scores will automatically be sent, for the remainng, make use of the FAX services provided by ETS (the agency that conducts the GRE/TOEFL). Its cheaper that the phone services and much faster than the postal service.

4) One very important point to remember. PLEASE for the love of god..REFRAIN from using those silly rankings lists to select your list of prospective universities. This is what 90% of the people do and they end up burying themselves in cow dung. Many courses in universities in the 50-60-70 rank range are equivalent or sometimes better than those in the top 30 odd. And you stand a much better chance of getting an admit in one of these. Another point, certain university courses are MUCH better than others. For example, The Retarded State Univ. might have excellent CS courses..but stupid EE/ECE courses, even though its overall rank is high.

5) Organize all the information regarding the universities in a book or diary. By information i mean the postal address of the department you are applying to, the telephone number, fee structure, course structure, GRE/TOEFL codes and other remarks/doubts you may have. Try not making a soft copy of this, as this piece of paper will prove indispensable later on.

6) Run around, in your 6th that by the end of sem 6, when your results are declared, you can get your transcripts and letters of recommendation stamped/signed and ready for dispatch.

7) Take some time, to read/refer statements of purpose (SOPs) online. It shouldnt be more than one page long. Be very precise and dont try to fit in 3/4th of the dictionary. It'll not help you in ANY WAY.

8) By now, you should have your prospective list of univs, LORs, SOPs, transcripts, bank statement, affidavit of support (stamp paper ascertaining your finances) ready. Your sem 6 vacations would be going on. With this, you are ready for actually APPLYING.

Pre-application from my experience, apart from being the most important, is the most time/effort consuming stage. But, the more you work now and the better you manage your time, i can assure you, the more resources you save later on.

TIP: When selecting your list of prospective universities, irrespective of the number, select as many "middle tier" universities as you can. Lets say, if i am applying to 8 universities, 2 can be the higher ranked/rated ones, 4 of them..solid middle tier univs with a good repute and a reasonable acceptance rate and the remaining 2 being lower-tier, sure shot bets. How you classify them, depends on how much and where you look for info.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

I made the headlines!!...

..or maybe the 2nd, 3rd or 4th page..of the Indian Express. I didn't even make the news because of some cool reason. But hell, i was in the paper! :D

Here's an excerpt from the news article:

"“I was stunned when I saw my mobile number in huge letters on the poster in Dadar, last three days I have on an average received two phone calls every hour about this contest,” said an exasperated Mithun Chandrashekhar, a final year computer engineering student at Somaiya College. Mithun hails from Chennai. “They call and ask, mostly in Marathi, about some ball dance, I try my best to explain what has happened in my halting Hindi,” he said."

The full article can be seen here.

Many thanks go out to Ms. Aditi Rane for scouting out this one! :)

P.S: If you've read this better read my previous one too, contains important info! :p

Friday, July 6, 2007

For all you lazy arses out there...

...POST COMMENTS DAMMIT! I see 25-30 hits each day..but NO COMMENTS.

I dont care if the blogs make u feel happy, bring about a drastic change in your life, make you jump with joy or jump from the window...whtever it is that you feel..MAKE IT KNOWN! :)


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Oops he did it again!

The infamous Himesh Reshammiya has been in the news, multiple times over in the past. And this time, he's back...with a lot more nasal nuances AND a freakin film of his own!

Titled "Aap kaa Surroor - The Moviee - The Real Luv Story" (..mind you, those aren't typos!..all the extra vowels, short forms etc. are the real deal) , our beloved Himesh plays the role of the lead actor and Hansika Motwani (who btw looked a LOT younger just a few DAYS ago!!!) plays the lead actress. This isn't a review; i don't wanna watch the movie, for a multitude of reasons (varying from safeguarding my self-esteem to regard for public property...puking in the theater won't be a very nice thing to do!)...and owing to the massive publicity/promotion/curiosity surrounding this movie, you'll find a large number of reviews in almost every newspaper/channel/magazine.

But, i just wanna ask one, simple, straightforward question; which i hope atleast one of you is able to answer. Why would ANYONE go watch a movie (story, direction, cast etc. not withstanding) where the lead actor has all his facial muscles concentrated in and around his nose? I came up with that statement on the basis of TWO facts:

a) No denying, this guy has GODLIKE control over his nasal canal/muscles. I mean, he can sing entire SONGS with his nose dammit! Most of us lowly mortals have to make do with the mouth...

b) I've never seen him cry/laugh/ ANYTHING apart from make a stoned face, for that matter. Aren't all these expressions needed to act?

**And a few people (Shweta, Trupti, Medha and Aditi to name a few), after sadly not being able to make it to the "first day, first show", were all happy-happy-joy-joy and couldn't stop talking about the movie...**

...And there was a time, when FILMS...made sense.