Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Time to bid adieu

It is Finals Week and you'd think I'd be happy about the upcoming break from teaching, but I am not. I love being around students, talking to them, listening to them, watching them mature (or behave immaturely) as the weeks and months roll by. My students often ask me why I look happy on Mondays and sadder on Fridays and the reality is that I miss my interactions with a lot when they are not around.

What makes the Finals Week of Spring semester even worse is that some of the students will graduate and move on to bigger, better things. Most of them I shall never see again, hear from, or read about. I liken a college/school to a port on the voyage of life. You stop for a few days, (hopefully) gain some wisdom, and then move on. Someday, some small incident and how one responds to it will spark a memory - a memory of having been taught that life lesson by an instructor or teacher.

I think back fondly to some of the folks who've influenced me. Dr. M, whose style of teaching I consciously ape. I would never have taken his class if a certain University had offered me a reasonable stipend to enroll in their PhD program. Their loss, my gain!

From Dr. C (Jack to some) I learned about empowering students with responsibility for their own grades and performances by treating them as adults. Once, he gave us a take-home exam. He emailed it to us with two specific instructions. One, do not discuss the exam with anyone else. Two, open the email only when ready to take the exam and once the exam was opened we had exactly one week in which to complete it. That was it! He trusted us to be honest and not take advantage of his generosity. And we did. Be honest, that is. (Of course, the Indian in me made me take my own sweet time to open the exam as I wanted to be fully ready before I tackled it.) One day, as I was crossing Jack in the hallway, he stopped me, grabbed me by the shoulders, and said, "Where's my exam, young man?" Well, needless to say, 7 days later he had the exam. And yes, I did get an A in the class so I must have done something right!

There are numerous such incidents that I shall save for another post. For now, my hope is that someday, somewhere, some student of mine will, during a quiet moment, reflect back on his/her experience with me and remember me fondly. And that, my friend, will be all the gurudakshina I need.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Under-rated over rates

These days, it is tough to find a Test captain who can finish the mandatory 90 overs in a single day's play. For all the good things he does, MS Dhoni earns a big black mark from me for his horrid management of the over rate, very often intentionally slowing it down to prevent the opposition from getting away.

Contrast that with this scorecard from the final of the Ranji Trophy in 1944/45.

Bombay: 462 in 160.5 overs
Holkar: 360 in 123.5 overs
Bombay: 764 in 256 overs
Holkar: 492 in 154.1 overs

Total: 2,078 runs in 694.5 overs

Look at the analysis of CS Nayudu
First inning: 64.5-10-153-6
Second inning: 88-15-275-5

This past weekend I played a 30 over a side game and woke up feeling sore this morning, a full two days later. I cannot even fathom how folks could have played so many overs back then in under 5 days.

What if...

a) This is just mesmerizing....what would some of the planets look like in the night sky if they were the same distance from the earth as the moon?

b) What if the Earth had rings, just like Saturn does? How would it look from different cities across the world? How I wish this were true...*sigh*

c) And finally, if you have ever wondered what Hyderabad would look like if covered by snow, wonder no further. Here it is, courtesy some very imaginative CGI (from about the 1:35 mark).