Sunday, December 27, 2009


There are only few days in our lives, which we can remember as perfectly as it happened yesterday. You can reproduce them anytime, frame by frame, like a movie. These may not be the most important days of your lives, nor do they need to have any effect towards your future. They just happen to trigger the right chemical in your brain at the right time.
This was one of those days. Seldom did I experience so many emotions, so many mood variations, in a single day.

For the people who don't know me, I am quite an indecisive person. If you happen to somehow measure indecisiveness of people around the world, let's say, on a scale of 100, I would be at 70 while the average person would be at 40.
Of course, Chiranjeevi and Chandra Babu will get a  100( United Andhra or Tenlangana)

Let us give Lagadapati and KCR a well scored 20.
Roshaiya and Manmohan Singh get an exceptional 0 as they have no choice but to follow the high command.
OU students are disqualified from test as they are mentally imbalanced.

Ok, back to business, what I was saying was, if my average score were 70, on that day my indecisiveness was at it's peak 100. It was December 2, 2009. The next evening I would board a train at the Chennai Central, which would take me to Hyderabad for my holidays.
As it turns out, it was quite an important day. We, I mean my group, I mean me and my classmates Karthik and Saketh, were to submit our project before our TA( Teaching Assistant) or as I shall call TC ( Teacher ka Chamcha) .

The project was to realize a simple microprocessor which could perform addition, subtraction, storage etc...... on hardware. For that we had to first code each component like alu, control unit , so on in Verilog ( it's a programming language), then simulate the whole thing in a simulating software called Quartus and then plug it onto the hardware board and make it work.....put short it was a pain in the ass for one credit.

December 4 was the deadline. We were quite tensed as we still had to do the simulation and the hardware thing, but were consoled by other group members that once you get coding done it is Baayen haath ka khel hai. So we set the time 8:00 AM to arrive at lab, hoping to finish up the remaining portion by 11:00 AM.

I woke up at 6:30, finished the remaining half an hour of yesterdays movie, brushed my teeth and pulled my cell out of my pocket to see the time, 

"Shit".Skipping breakfast I rushed to the lab which was 1km away. With the usual smugness of early morning we started our work. We simulated the code and plugged onto the hardware to see the result.

First attempt, failed.

The drill with the hardware board was, there was a button which was to be smacked contiguously on the head by one finger, and there were four LED's which represented the result in binary, glowing for 1 and not glowing for 0. The LED's should change their state after 4 smacks each. We were to predict which LED's will glow at which smack. No LED glowed in the first attempt.

Second attempt. Only one LED seems to be working.

Third attempt. Something wrong with the board.

12:00 AM. Thousandth attempt. We were smacking now with all our fists and hoping that electricity would be generated due to smacking and turn the LED on. My best friend Sai Prasad called me
"Where are you?"
"In lab."
"Get your ass down to the bus stop at 1:00. The movie starts at 3:10"

Yeah. That was the deal. How foolish of me to book tickets for Arya-2 on the day of my project submission. But, the day before it seemed we would finish the project in 2 hours and be done. Even then we got all night to put fight, right!
Right, Karthik?
"I don't know da. I have to go outside at 3:00"
"When will you return?"
"Not before tomorrow afternoon"

That came as a bombshell to me. Now we got only today's afternoon, that too up till 3:00 to finish and show our goddamn project. We tried for half an hour more, in vain. The lab TA locked the lab, asked us to come at 2:00 and went to fill his tummy. 
"What are we going to do now?"
"We will have lunch and come back at 2:00. If it works, we show then and there. If it doesn't, you go to your movie. I will stay in the lab until I get it to work. We two will show it to him. You show it to him afterward." said Karthik.

1:00. Bus stop.
Me: "You go ra. Give me the ticket. If possible I will come. Most probably I won't."
Just when I was mourning the loss of my 160 rupees for the ticket, Sai Prasad aka so-n-so got a great idea
SP: "No. I will keep the ticket. If you don't come there by 3:00 I will try to sell it." Then he gave me the directions to reach the theater.
Me: " Ok. Remember, sell the ticket at double price."
He gave a smile filled with wickedness, disgust and god knows what else and bid me farewell.

I quickly rushed to my room which was 1km away, bathed, wore new clothes and shoes, and pulled the cell phone out of my pocket see the time 

"Shit". Again late. I had 15 minutes to go to the TIFFANYS which was also 1km away, wait in the cue to order something, then wait in the cue to get the order, then swallow whatever I can and then go to the lab from there, which was half a  km away.

I called Saketh. The TA hadn't yet come. Now I was standing on the cross roads of which one led to the lab and another to the TIFFANYS.

I said, "god bless, Robert Frost" and chose the path less traversed by, and that made all the difference.

1:55. I was in the TIFFANYS cue, with 5 people in front of me.
2:00. I gave the order for fried rice. Again, I pulled the cell phone out of my pocket, this time to call Saketh.
"insufficient balance"
2:10. My fried rice was still frying. I was standing there, waiting for my order to come, with no way to know, what was going on in the lab. Take half an hour to reach the theater, I had only half an hour to go to the lab, complete the project, then call our TA and then show it to him. Again I was indecisive.

"Damn the fried rice, I will go to the lab", I decided. I left it there, only to be the meal for another customer, or a surprise meal for the cook, may be.

2:15. I was in the lab. No progress had been made in my absence, nor in my presence for the next 20 minutes. SP was calling me every 5 minutes, checking the odds in favor of me coming to the movie. Fortunately, our TA had been strolling around in the lab, then. We called him, and explained the situation. He gave OK for me to show the project afterward, but he said that I would have to show all of the code and the hardware part. That meant, I had to make the whole thing work on hardware, which was still an unsolved mystery to us, single-handedly. Or I could waste my 160 rupees, and remain there in the lab, till the mystery was solved. Again, the moment of indecision.

I said "Damn the project. Let's go to movie." Handing my fate to the fate, I ran to the bus stop. Waiting for the bus was foolishness, so I jumped into an auto, which was loitering around the bus stop, and said "Main Gate". The whole journey, I tried to ask the auto driver his charge, only to be counter attacked by Tamil answers. I tried to understand them, but couldn't figure out if they were numbers or words.

2:50. The auto stopped at the Main Gate, the portal to the outside world for IITians. As soon as I jumped out of the auto, three fat ladies got in. I again asked him the fare, which was again answered, in Tamil. One lady in the back translated it as
"Give whatever you want"
I was touched. It was the second time in my life that I got such benevolence from auto drivers. I gave 15 rupees, remembering the fare from my previous trips.

Now I had 20 minutes exactly, to go to a theater, which I have never known before, in a place which I have never gone to before. I had to go to the local railway station, which was half a kilometer away, catch a train to Chintadripet, which is 20 minutes away by train, then search for a building which was supposed to be near the railway station, then go to the 4th floor of that building.
I said "Damn. I can't do this. Even if I go now, I would be more than 15 minutes late."
My stomach was flipping, as I had not eaten anything from morning. I grabbed a samosa from a shop along the road, and then called SP from a PCU.

"Sai! sell the ticket ra. I am at the IIT main gate now. Even if I start now, I would be 20 minutes late."

"I can't sell the ticket da. The area is deserted. No one is ready to buy. What's the problem? The first half an hour of the cinema is anyways boring. Just come, or your 160 rupees will be wasted". It was a matter of money and movie. I gave in to his persuasion.

3:10. I was at the railway station ticket counter. The fat, young and pretty lady smiled from across the ticket counter, and asked "Where to?"

3:20. The train hadn't come yet. SP was checking my travel status every 5 minutes. The good news was, the cinema did not start yet. May be, it was scheduled to start at 3:30. The bad news was, I was at the same place as I was 10 minutes ago.

3:40. I wiped my forehead. I boarded many trains, from that station and never did I have to wait for, more than 10 minutes. SP had reported that the movie had just started. The fate was against my will to see the movie. And my will was very weak. May be, if I go back to the lab now, Karthik may still be working on the project. Just then I heard the sound from the railway tracks. Two minutes later, the train was standing in front of me. It would stay only for 10 seconds. 

I could take the train, that would land hopefully 20 minutes later, at my destination. And hopefully, 30 minutes later I would see the movie, missing one quarter of the movie already. 
Else, I could go back. Hopefully Karthik would still be working on the project. Hopefully I would be able to show the project with others, which will relieve me of the unsurmountable work afterward. I had to hurry. I had no way to know, if they were still in the lab, as there was no balance in my cell, and no PCU near by. I was taking a blind chance. If they were already finished in the lab, there was no use of me going, as I had to show it again any way. I might as well go to the movie.

I said " Damn the movie. Damn the money. I am going to finish my project today and now." I repeated the dialog to SP on the next call.

I came out of the station. I saw a bus going down the road to IIT main gate. I jumped in it, at the last moment. But to my bad luck, it turned out to be the one bus, with driver controlled doors. I saw in awe, the main gate pass by. I yelled and yelled at the driver, to stop, but he was all deaf ears to me. Even when the bus stopped at the next traffic signal, he didn't open the doors. After 5 minutes, and 1 km away from the main gate, the bus came to a bus stop. I ran back as fast I could, feeling Karthik inching towards the finish with every second I wasted. On the way, I searched for any kind of public telephone, in vain. I even asked one coconut wala, to lend me his cell phone, who smiled and said "balance ille".

4:05. I was at the main gate. I begged a cell phone from one of the security guards and dialled Karthik's number.
"Abey! Where are you?"
"In the lab"
"Have you shown it yet?"
"No, da. We are still working"
"Ok. I am coming in half an hour. Don't show it to the TA, until I come."

4:30 I was in the lab. For the next one hour, we banged our heads, ruffled our hair and came with more and more ludicrous speculations on where had we gone wrong. In the end it was Karthik, the genius, who found out the real fault. Without him we could never have completed the project. As I see now, if I hadn't gone back to lab, I could never have completed the project. Finally at the auspicious time of 6:05 we landed on our first successful attempt.
Well, we didn't know it was a success until our further attempts produced the same result, again and again, and then we reasoned why it was so, and found out that it indeed was working as it was supposed to be. We called the TA.

7:00. We three together had successfully shown our project to our TA. Karthik was already late for his programme with his friends, and bid adieu to us at 7:10. While me and Saketh were questioned and tested for the next one and half hour.

9:00. At last it was over. The test had gone well. The project was successfully completed and my grades were calculated and sealed in the TA's mind. I was walking back to my room, remembering the dramatic proceedings of the day. Looking back, I was ashamed of myself and how I dealt with the situations on that day. I had taken so many wrong decisions, which resulted in 200 rupees of my bank balance, 20 rupees of my friends phone balance, an unattended fried rice and a blank seat in a movie theater. But still, I was happy, because at the last moment, standing in front of the train, I took the right decision. My stomach was aching from all the day's running. It was time for a special meal and afterward, a good movie.

December 15, 2009. Looking through my dad's monitor I was decoding and searching for my roll number in the very badly taken screenshot of the lab grades list, sent by my friend who was staying in IIT for holidays.
There it was,  CS08B007  S.


1 comment:

  1. " Damn the movie. Damn the money. I am going to finish my project today and now."
    Typical inguva sasi!