A new place, a new life

A post after a long time. I must thank my college friend, who has an amazing hold on literature and I feel good when I talk to her. So I was wondering what to write about and I thought I might as well write about what I am doing currently. Yup, get ready to hear me rant and boast about myself.

On July 18th, I graduated from Indian Institute of Technology Madras, with flying colors. Thus ended a brilliant chapter in my life called undergraduate studies. I think what I am today has been significantly influenced by my life at IITM. I write this often and will state it here again, “IITM taught me to teach myself”. I have also made some really close friends, who have tolerated me all through the four years and have been my source of joy, information and inspiration. Not to mention the fights we had at times, but the number of such events is countable on my fingers. The convocation was a memorable event. With me reuniting with my friends for two days, spending both the days like we never did before. We went to a movie, ate a nice dinner, talked all through the night and bubbled with energy during the seminar itself. Typical human emotions I guess. The guest of honor was Dr. Devi Shetty, who is the head of Narayana Hrudayala hospital chain in India. He is a pioneer in heart operations and has devised smart and low cost methods for the same. I was wondering what a doctor was doing in an Engineering college’s convocation. Boy, I was never so wrong in my life. He was not there as a doctor. He was there are a successful industrialist. Of many words which inspired me, the one sentence was the show stealer, “Money is like oxygen. It is not the purpose of life but you can’t live without it.”.

And thus, after four years in my second home, I was preparing for my new journey called graduate studies. I was fortunate enough to be selected by Carnegie Mellon University for my doctorate studies (Fun fact: Harvey Specter in the serial Suites is from CMU school of drama. Oh, and the last fighting scene of dark knight rises was shot in front of the Mellon building). And thus, after a lot of typical Indian errands for leaving to USA, I boarded the Air India flight to New York and then to Pittsburgh. Not much interesting the flight journey, except that I made friends with a bunch of other Indians who were going to do their masters in Syracuse University.

Now Carnegie Mellon University is an absolutely amazing place. It is what I like to call the nerd’s paradise. An extreme example is that the students fly drones with banners during concerts in the campus. Some of the other amazing features are the Andrew File System, which is a unified file system across a cluster of computers and the Andrew printing services, which enables you to print from any computer and collect it from the nearest printing station. It is quite a small place but it is quite beautiful. I feel that I have come to the right place, since I feel that CMU is an engineer’s place.

For my PhD, I am working with Prof. Aswin Sankaranarayana on topics related to compressive sensing. Since I am a “noob” in this field, I am currently reading up theory to come the same level of state of the art research work. It looks like fun, since it is a good mix of linear algebra, optimization, statistics and signal processing.

The above paragraph may mislead you to believing that research is my primary occupation currently. Nope. My current occupation is primarily made up of keeping my house clean, cooking food, cleaning utensils and buying groceries. When time permits, I then attend classes and try reading up for my research work.

Apart from my physical and mental activities, I met some really nice people here. My lab mates and teaching assistants of my courses are amazing people. Though I am sure they are tired of my puns all the time (What is a box full of puns called? pundora’s box of troubles. Whoa whoa! I won’t crack another. Please continue reading my article.). I also met some really nice Indians here. Oh yes, of course, my adviser himself is an Indian. He is a cool and nice guy.

There are a couple of other things I observed here. The PhD students are surprisingly passionate about their work or learning. I thought they will crib about heavy load, but everyone seems happy around. I found that quite encouraging. They are also quite open to discussions about random topics. Also, we run into discussions when a group of people from various IITs meet in our lounge. Oh did I tell you about free food? One of my school mate asked me what was so great about free food. I said that there are two things which are great about free food. It is free. It is food.

Another thing I observed is that I don’t recollect the last time I felt like an intelligent person after coming to CMU. People around me are damn smart. I guess I should happily accept the fact that I am living among some really smart people.

That was the not so short article about my life so far. Before I end the article, I wanted to mention that I bought a 1950s German typewriter by the company Optima, which is the most complex mechanical contraption I have seen in my life. It should be fun to clean it and get it running.