Saturday, November 19, 2005

Living in the Past - Network Analysis

I am sometimes accused of living in the past, of talking a lot about the college days and have been told 'Dude, those days will never come back.'. Heck I knowthat. That's why I talk about them. Or I'd be living them, right?

I learnt a lot of useless things in Manipal. Like how the Babcock and Wilcox Boiler works. I am glad to say that I don't remember how it works at all now. Clearly, those neurons have been put to better use. I learnt useful stuff too, which I have since forgotten. I could tell every production motorcycle in those days (and there were only a few back then) just by the engine note (my hostel room overlooked the street).

But something that has never been forgotten is Network Analysis.

Third sem was a lot of fun. Many visits to the beaches, many movies, many books(The Hitchhiker's Guide, most notably), many late night discussions, riding ra42s bicycle around the hostel corridor to see who could get the best time, listening to borrowed tapes on borrowed stereos. This was the semester of pinks' scooty, hikes in the country side and also Network analysis.

Network Analysis was a mass-ordi paper. Ordi basically means that you got < 35 out of 100 on that paper. You would have to take the paper again next year and it would show on record. Mass ordi paper means, well, lots of people got ordis in that paper. We knew all this going into the third semester.

Me and my buddy ra42 figured, hey, we know volts law (something about how i1r1=i2r2 or some such thing, I have forgotten). Everything else is going to be a derivation of that. I mean, how much more complicated could networks get, right?:-) So, well, almost everyone else is panicking. People are taking extra tuition, they are busting their butts studying and we are discussing concepts like 'What makes a joke funny?' (The answer btw is that most good jokes employ paradigm shifts to create humor. You think something is going to happen, but something else does.) . Much time was spent discussing Ayn Rand, The Importance of Having a Value System, Does God Exist?, Do God Need to Exist, The Hitchhiker's Guide, Yes Primeminister, The Relative Merits of Actresses, The Relative Merits (or the lack thereof) of our collegemates, Dire Straits, Doors, Pink Floyd etc etc, in no specific order. Just your basic college hostel education.

So, exam time rolls by, it's the night before the test. We figure we better do something about the test. The very air crackles with electricity and tension. Everyone is tensed, everyone is studying hard. You can practically smell the fear in the air. We trek up to Boxer's hostel room and ask him for help (we don't have notes, we barely know the syllabus). Boxer asks us a few questions. When we dont know the answers, he gives us a look reserved for condemned men, and says 'You guys have no chance tomorrow. This is what I am going to do. I will show you a few problems, learn them well and hope they show up in the test.' We studied most of the night that night.

The next morning, I awoke, showered, shaved, got to the exam hall. Right outside the hall, Sammy told me the solution to yet another problem. We all went in, wrote the test. Sammy's problem was there. Many of Boxer's problems were there. I passed, as did Ra42. We had survived!

Believe it or not, this is one of the biggest things I remember from my time in Manipal. It's not like cooler things didn't happen. Of course they did. But, for some reason, Network Analysis, like Wordsworth's Daffodils stands out in my Manipal memory. In a way it was not so good. It reinforced the general 'Chalta Hai' attitude.

Maybe if we had got a sharp rap at this juncture(like getting marks I really deserved:-)), I would have been a more serious guy, who filed his tax returns on time, who didn't wait till the last moment to get his car inspected, who booked tickets well in advance of his trips etc etc. But, well, it didn't happen, did it?