Sunday, January 29, 2006

First Row, Second Person

As soon as this incident happened on last wednesday, I thought "I gotta blog this." But it wasn't until today that I am able to do it. Blame it on my busy schedule or Blogger's Syndrome*.

Anyway, the incident I want to discuss happened in the Operations Research class of wednesday. For those not aware of it, its mostly Linear Programming and similar other optimiation technique. But I should add a disclaimer here that even I am not fully aware of it as I have just begun this course. Now I took this course because I had already taken a course names 'Design Optimization' in which we studied Linear Programming. I thought that I have a better chance at this subject as compared to others in whom I was told that there's won't be anything worthwhile to learn or the professor gave really bad grades.

Things seemed to work perfectly well till the wednesday's class where it was all a jolly ride for me and Suman while the others fretted out to understand the concepts. Thing were going on pretty well when the professor decided to start a new topic, on the principle of duality in LP. She told how every LP problem has a dual; how every maximization problem's dual is a minimization one. Then to elucidate her point, she told that a profit maximization problem is also modelled by a cost minimization problem. Then she told us to turn back the pages and open a problem that she had taught long ago. She revised the problem and asked us to reformulate the dual of the problem. The first part, that of redefining the objective function was easy as we just had to swap the variables from production rate of materials to unit cost of production. This she even did herself. No prize for guessing that she asked us to reformulate the constraints for the problem. Now as I had already done a course attributing to which I was able to identify all the constraints, I went ahead with dictating them while others stared with a halu look on their face. But things weren't as pretty as I thought. As soon as she was finished writing the equations, she turned back and said, "Now will the person who said all these please stand up and explain how he got them from a physical significance point of view". To say the least, I was bowled out. In the whole course of DO, we were just given a problem which we transformed to the dual by taking transpose and changing the variables. Here was a new problem and I was short of time. I thought that I should say something vague to keep myself off the controversy and for that I had to find something to say by the time the professor identified who was the person. I thought this would be easy as I had to just re-engineer the question as I already knew the answer. All I had to do was to say whatever was written in the equation in plain english and the truth shall set me free. But unfortunately, luck wasn't on my side. I couldn't understand what vague statement the equation meant as I tried to ignore the classroom making some unfriendly noise.

"Who was it?", the professor demanded. Many people (must have been over 40) replied in a loud voice "Ma'am..first row, second person." Obviously it was be.

"Yes", she said talking to me, "please explain how you got this result". I was still turning pages trying to understand what the statement meant. At the same time, I told my neighbours (Vikas and Suman) in a hushed tone that they should help me if they got it figured out. Sadly noone did. The seconds passed like ages and the silence grew very uncomfortable. Then she started herself "See, the person who got this was able to say as he had already done a course in Linear Programming. I just wanted to know if he knew how to arrive at the solution". The truth was out and I was feeling a bit relieved. She then went on to explain what the constraints meant in real life. What I was expecting to be an insight soon turned like a joke. By reverse engineering the equation, she came up with the 'statement' that said "Cost of production >= Profit". I couldn't understand the meaning. Even I was able to get that statement in those precious minutes, but had to discard this as a rubbish theory. I pressed to find out how and was eventually told by her that had the problem been one in which we were to reformulate the dual, something would have been given to arrive at this conclusion. I was still not convinced. I tried to find out if the problem was indeed a dual, there should have been data in it already. What seemed like an anti-climax, she told that even she didn't knew how this came!

Neat, huh.

*Blogger's Syndrome - A condition in which a blogger who has been active for a while suddenly stops posting, eventhough most of the times he checks others' blogs and also has something to say. Surprisingly, everyone suffering from it accepts it but defends it in various fashion. Although its largely attributed to busy work schedule, recent researches have shown that there might be more to it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Bhatta At His Best

The picture below is of Hrishikesh's door. As expected, he jhaanpofied an unused label from the Sugar & Spice Shop.
I feel that I have posted one too many nameplate photograph. But what can I do if such things keep happening.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Amogh Ra Got A Job Danieli. And he would be getting quite a handsome money for it.

But this is not the reason why this post is written, as there are many more in our wing who got even better paying job.

The story is that Amogh went to Sonar Bangla in Kolkata for the interview. While he was still there, the news of his selection reached us and we were delighted. Amiruddin was also overwhelmed by Amogh's selection that he replaced Amogh's Nameplate with this one.

When Amogh came back, he immediately concluded that this was done by Amiru. Not only because he recognized his handwriting, but also because Amiru wrote his own room number 'B-214' on it. Amogh lives in B-213. It was also apparent as he misspelt 'Danieli'.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

This Isn't Fair

Carlos has competition....a very serious one.

For those who don't know Carlos, he is R.P. Hall's Canteenwalla. He is very famous throughout Kharagpur for serving good quality food at reasonable prices.

Till a few days back, he almost had a monopoly in R.P. Hall. Not just because there can't be two canteens in one Hall, but also strategically. First we have the primary source of fodder for RPians, our Mess. This in fact is the primary source of income for Carlos. All of us visit Carlos mainly because we are 'fed up' with the fodder served to us in the mess and want to eat food. As most of us are dissatisfied with our mess food, its raining money for Carlos.

Then we had a supposed competition to Carlos, the Fruit-Stall ownner Monkai da (the undisputed king of a socialist capitalist). One who refuses to bring more/better food items because we eat and finish whatever he brings. This wasn't usually difficult as he rarely brought anything to his stall. All these conditions made Carlos a hot favourite for foodies. Not to mention that he opens even till past midnight and keeps the shop open till even three during exams.

Then the turning point came. The students of R.P. Hall decided that we have had enough of Monkai da. We don't care if he has Socialist or Communist (or whatever that CPI stands for) connection, and thus decided to kick him off. But he wasn't a cool customer. He was a shrewd businessman. He warned of police report and court case against his dismissal as he 'felt' that he did everything right and we don't have any proof of his wrongdoings. This was a serious problem, but had an ingenious answer. The next day, we RPians found a complaint book kept inside the mess and a notice saying that if we have any complaints against Monkai, we have to write them there. The complaint book was filled in record time. Even in the very first day, there were over 100 entries against him. This must have really pissed him off and while he was deciding on the future course of action, the winter break came and most of us rushed home.

By the time we came back, we came to know that we have a good news and a bad news. The good news was that Monkai's shop has been closed permanently; and the bad news that he himself did it. What his masterplan was that since he has not removed his belongings yet, and has put his own lock, the Hall can't break it open as this will give him an excuse to appeal in the court. So while the Hall authorities await clearance from Police and the Registrar, the new person being allotted the job, namely Rocky, brought his own infrastructure to be set up. Till the time this post was written, status quo remains.

But then, another development happened. The Hall gave clearance for a fast-food joint 'Sugar & Spice' to open inside the Hall's premises.

What was more exciting was the fact that he sold a lot of stuff...from Burgers to Pizzas and from Chana Masala to Tandoori Chicken. Don't go by the picture above. It was taken in late afternoon when half of his stock had been sold out.

Anyway, what I want to ask is that is it fare for him to open such a shop inside our hand's reach? I mean, as soon as you walk out of the mess after having eaten disgusting food, our eyes meet the delicious pizzas and buns and pastries. I foresee that a lot of our pocket money will get wasted on it before we are able to stop ourselves. Also think about Carlos. He will have to work a more to get back his lost ground as the fast food joint plans to stay open till past 10 pm. What more, with the new Fruit-Stall opening in a week or so, we RPians will have a lot more options to look into while deciding what to eat.

I ask: Is this fair? And will this smile last?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Time To Format The System

I have been very busy for the last few days. Mostly I have been occupied with my department's society's work, which I will document in the days to come.
What had been keeping me busy for the rest of the time is my room. For the last 3 days, I have turned by room inside out, rearraning or trashing almost everything. Starting with the books (see the image) to even my coins(below)! I found out that I had more coins than ever expected. But I am in no mood to share my spoils with others. I know from experience that soon they will become objects of rarity. Anyway, I have already traded many of them with my Numimatist uncle.
While I was rearranging my room, I decided that I should also fix my Name Plate that had been placed since the beginning of this semester. I already had one but they removed it so that it looked uniformly dirty throughout the hall. Apparently, they just alloted the work to be done by a staff without consulting the size of the slots. Almost all the slots I saw were misfits. I had to struggle hard to fix mine. I also decided that it was time to paste my 'happening' name plate; the one I got from GE. Unfortunately the glue-stick disappointed me as it was unable to hold the plastic to the wooden door.

Now I have decided to do what I have done with my room to my computer. Norton Antivirus 2005 sucks. I had made my system so slow that my mind often went back to the times I ran a 75 MHz processor. Adding to my worries is my Windows XP OS, which has this peculiar habit of bloating itself some 1 GB every year even though I don't install any new softwares in my Windows drive. Will be doing a lot of work in the next few days, so postings will be infrequent (as though they were frequent now).

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Alumni!! Alumni!! Come Again

Yesterday we had the Alumni Meet in our Hall. What interested most of us was not the opportunity to meet the alumni who had come, but to hog on to some food; something we rarely get to eat in our Halls. They used to serve something under that name in the mess, but it is yet to be proven food.

Anyway, alumni came and alumni went, but left behind some pleasant memories for us to cherish. Be it their stories on how the campus used to be in the sixties or the songs of their times. For some it meant greasing the hall's palm, as after all, our hall badly needs renovation.

But what caught my attention most is that the messand common room were cleaned thoroughly for the occasion. For the first time in my stay in R.P. hall did I see the mess chairs getting cleaned up without any emergency (such as a major spill). Mostly, either the chairs were not cleaned at all, or if done, only their base. On seeing this, one of my friends quipped: "If this is the effect of Alumni Meet, then we should hold more of these". Anyway, the food that was served in the football field was good, and even better were the snaps of Hrishikesh Bhattacharyya. Unfortunately, they didn't come very well due to poor light and shaking Hrishikesh.

We started with a normal Hrishikesh.....

Then we tickled him....

Then we tickled him even more...

Then it got nasty....

(NB:Published with permission.)

The moon also looked good with the clouds in front making it have a halo surrounding it. So took that pic also. No prize for guessing that this one also came poor due to bad light! Anyway, its not easy to photograph the moon with conventional cameras.