happiness by building a remarkable life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Design Anecdotes from IISc - I (Who will Bell the Cat)

Design anecdotes from IISc will be a series of comments, stories and suggestions from my seniors at IISc or my experience. I hope to write something on this time and again.

Here goes my first post (Shared by Sunny Bairisal, 3rd sem MDes student at CPDM, IISc Bangalore)
We all know about the funny story "Who will bell the cat?" A group of rats wants to get rid of the problems they face because of the cat who kills and eats them coming out of nowhere. So, as a gist of their discussion they want to put a bell on the cat's neck which will warn them of him approaching. And, when all of them are very happy of the solution achieved, one guy came out with the question "Who will bell the cat ?" 

Well, the story ends there. But, how the hell that can be related to design or more specifically to product design? Design is defined as '"the general arrangement of the different parts of something that is made, such as a building, book, machine, etc." in the oxford dictionary. In the real world, however, design is related with problems in most of the cases. Necessity is the mother of invention and when we have a need, we design a solution for that. It is not so easy, because problems are subjective or that they don't express in a way that we need this specifically. People from a long time wanted a faster, cheap and convenient way of communication. But, nobody asked for a mobile. It is the task of the designer to identify an objective in the need and for that he will have to identify problems first and design the problem in such a way that it leads to an objective,a definite goal. 

If you can identify the problems and you can associate the problems with an objective solution, half of the design work is done. Conceptual part of product design is often associated with construction of an objective problem where you express the solution of a need with a physical shape. Or, if you know who is the CAT !!


So, if you can perceive the CAT, you can design a bell or more appropriately you can design a way to BELL THE CAT. Identifying problems is the first and foremost step of design and if one can master it, he/she is a step ahead in the path of becoming a good designer.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why do I love my mom and dad, or as I call 'em "Maa and Deta"

My parents are teachers in government primary schools and their educational qualification is 10th passed with third division, which means a percentage less than 45%. I am their third and youngest child. However, they are a lot better than other parents I have seen, who are educated but still thinks their children have to do whatever they want and are pretty bad in parenting because their children didn't love them as much as they should (Yes, offense !!)

I was a geeky geeky child. But the credit goes to them, not me. I was the first boy in my school days, always from class I to X. But when I used to come home with a big smile on my face and the marksheet in my hand, dad said, "Its not the position but the percentage and the knowledge that matters, what if all your friends didn't study hard enough?" And when I went to Cotton College to pursue science and everybody had almost the same percentage as me, I remembered his words. I may be the first boy in my little school, but not everywhere. What I remember, everywhere in my home all I saw was books, not toys but books. I started reading from an early age, and that is the most precious gift anyone can ever present to his/her children. 

My dad reads books and whenever he finds something special or interesting, he reads it aloud me. He can utter sanskrit verses without the slightest tint of hesitation and has memorized the Gita in Assamese from top to bottom. My mom is the most lovable teacher in the little village primary school, and I am a proud alumnus of the same.

I was never beaten up, my dad never had to beat me because he had such a great personality it is difficult to do bad things in front of him. I am no saint and I have done pretty bad things to in my life, but knowing that was a bad thing and not repeating most of them was a sense of conscience that instilled to me by my parents. Whenever my hands were dirty, or I am not dressed properly... my mom used to wash my face and put fair-and-lovely all over my face. And what an interesting approach to teach a child, I used to promptly go an get cleaned. I was not told to, but somehow she managed me to get it done by myself. I still feel pity for the women running after and scolding their children when they don't behave properly.. "Take a chill pill and get a lesson from my mom."

I completed my engineering and came to IISc leaving four jobs, and my dad supported me till now. When I published a paper in Japan and wanted to go and present there, he told me that he will borrow money if I can't get financial assistance from my college. And he is the dad who didn't give me new clothes in every festivals like my friend's dads used to. That was a great lesson.

Whenever I got frustrated and thought things aint gonna work out, its my parents whom I call first, and courage used to build up within me. It was not the life of struggling with exams to get a seat for MTech my dad wanted, like every typical Indian parent he wanted me to secure a government job, and lead  my life. But there was a thing in between. From early days I saw my dad going to social meetings, cultural gatherings and all that. And like every other lower middle class family,we had money problem. Nevertheless my parents are always happy. And they gave me an important lesson, that I need to help other people to be happy. Even if I would have become a SBI PO after my BSc in Mathematics (that is what my dad wanted), he would have asked, "Are you happy ?" And till now, everyday when I talk with him for more than 5/10 minutes, he asks me the question, "Are you happy with what you are doing, if you are, then there can't be any problem."

When I couldn't clear GATE in the first attempt,  they said may be God has something better in store for me. When I got four jobs, and was proud of myself a little bit too much he told me that it was not a very great thing. When I got admitted to IISc, they congratulated me but also said, "Its not what you have, but what you can do with what you have !!"

Perfect balance, as it is said in Gita,

Dukh paile uddigna nohoi jijon
Xukhot jaharo naahi aanondito mon
Prio opriyo teje, are krodho bhoi
Hehi vir budhimonto janiba nishhoy.
(Who doesn't worry in bad times and don't fly in good times, who can leave near and dear ones and fear and anger, he is an intelligent man)
which is often told to me by my dad, now.

My mom likes to smile and it is simply difficult to remember her in a grumpy face. For the first time in life, at the age of 16,  I came to Guwahati to pursue 10+2, I lived away from home. Then I understood, Maa is like the curtain in doors, you never feel their absence till they are in the right place and you can hardly stop thinking about her when she's not around. So, sometimes when I  call her up, and its time to disconnect the phone, I tell her, "I love you, darling" to which she promptly replies, "Don't you have a girl around, tell her not me" with a big laughter.

No wonder, when some days ago when I updated my status in facebook writing about my elder bro getting his PhD, he promptly commented, "Proud to be the son of Chandra Kanta Nath and Satya Bala Devi" -  Hell yeah !! Me too, bro... and grateful too.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Worthless Bunch of Hypocrites

Scene 1: I am riding an almost two decade old bajaj super with two guys sitting behind me. Its an enjoyable ride, because when everybody in our generation is riding an apache, or another branded stylish bike, we were really looked at (and laughed at too) by people. Anyway, who gives a sh**. Suddenly, hamara bajaj makes a kinda different sound and stops in the middle of the road. I checked the tank, it is half filled with oil, so that is not a problem. I tried and then both my friends tried and tried, but it did not give us any response. I tried to start in reserve mode, and that was the limit of my engineering funda... Eventually, we pushed the scooter almost half a mile in the scorching heat of July to a workshop. The boy there, who was younger than me, tweaked a thing or two and it was okay all over again. I paid 20 bucks, and one of my friends completely wet with the sweat remarked, "what did you learn in engineering, that also in mechanical?"

Scene 2: Its really hot all through the daytime and I wanted to take a bath again in the evening. So I was pumping out water from the handpump we had at home. Suddenly, a washer or something got loose and the whole lever hand came out of the pipe like section. I took a wrench, opened it in the hope that since I know Turbomchinery, repairing a pump would be easy. After trying for half an hour, I called a plumber specialized in handpump (or as we call it Damkal) and got it repaired.


So, what the hell is my point ? You might all be wondering about that..

Well, I am a graduate in mechanical engineering from an NIT (an institution of national importance) and presently doing my masters in the best university in India. But one hamara bajaj and a handpump had it on me. My arrogance was shattered into pieces, I am no longer proud to say I'm from an NIT and now from IISc. May be, I am demeaning the status of the institutions I'm referring and really, I feel ashamed.

So, ain't people like me a worthless bunch of hypocrites?

Why should you cast YOUR VOTE ?

This is not my suggestion, this is something that was shared to me by someone who knows a lot better than me from IISc.

Most of us, including me, don't want to vote. The reason is that we don't like politicians, and not one of the options that are in front of us looks like a good one to us.  So, we don't cast our vote. The result is, casting of vote is done by less than 60 percent of people in every election. Let's see what happens then...

Lets say there are 100 voters in a constituency and 60 cast their vote and 5 candidates are there. The result is 40% vote by the winner, 20% for two of them, and 10% each for the other two. Then, lets see the numbers, not percentage.

40% of 60 equals 24.
20% of 60 equals 12
and 10% equals 6
So, 24 +12+12+6+6=60.

That means out of 100 people 24 people voted for the one selected as the MLA/MP of the constituency. That is just 24% of people.
For the love of God, are you friggin kidding me ??

No, not at all. No one is f***ing with the stats. If you can read english, I can sincerely hope that you can do this calculation yourself. So, the so called majority is the support of just 24% of people. If you do this calculation with the candidates of your own constituency, the result may come down to 11-12%.

So, think about it. The people sitting at LokSabha, VidhanSabha are not the people supported by majority. They are simply there because of the laziness of people like us, you and me.. because we were too damn lazy.






Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A review - Connect the Dots

Connect the Dots - is a book by Rashmi Bansal (famous of Stay Hungry Stay Foolish and YouthCurry) about 20 entrepreneurs who did not have an MBA and still curved their way in business, and all of them exceptionally creative in their theme of business. A truly inspiring book where there is a dropout from college, a dishwasher and some IIT graduates taking big risks forsaking their seven figure salary are featured. The style of presenting the book is typical of Rashmi Bansal, you know it has to be her if you go through it.

I highly recommend this book, because it is truly inspiring in the sense that it has people you know from different aspects of life who overcame failure and made a mark enriching their own, and more importantly, other's lives. Like the guy who made the popular Tantra t-shirts and the owner and founder of Veta (spoken english tutor). Reading the book is like reading a popular and interesting short story collection, and a non-fiction seems as fiction. But soon, you hit the reality and know these people have really done that and not just you are through a optimistic bollywood movie like A Wednesday.
Have you ever looked up to the sky and instantly fell in love to it ? If you have not, you better do.
It all started, well about 12 years ago, I was reading "Anuradha'r Dekh" - Phanindra Kumar Dev Choudhury. I found a line about the sky and something about "you should have a look at it everyday." So, I came out of my room, and looked at the sky. Okay it is big, but then...what bullshit, I thought. Being a class VI/VII student I was interested in each and every book (Yes, I was kind of a geek, not now, but back then), cricket and Sachin Tendulkar(He was, is and will be my hero). So, naturally I did not feel a thing.

Then I got into the habit of collecting quotations (I was gifted a small, nice notebook by my eldest bro with micky mouse on it, which I preserve till date). And someday, I lay may hands on Anuradhar Dekh, flipped through it and copied some lines from it to my collection. I read my collection now and again, and some quotes I like so much that I read them over and over again and I manage to memorize them. That same thing happen to those specific lines about the sky.
Then I came to NIT Silchar, and a day did not pass without a party. So, as usual, I got drunk, went to the basketball court and slept there. Eventually dew drops had their refrigerating effect, and even if I don't know their COP, I was chilled to the bone and got up at around 6 am in the morning. I fumbled my pocket for a smoke, alas !! So what do I do, I tried to get up but the cold and alcohol did take their toll on me. I lay down again.
And then I saw the sky, it was clear and blue and for the love of God, a hell of a beauty.........
I felt somebody in a sweet voice is speaking calmly and poised, those lines, far far away.........
And I felt nothing for some seconds, the pain, cold, hangover everything was gone and I ran to the field to have a more expanded view of the sky. It was big, very big and... beautiful, and I was just speechless...
And that's how I fell in love with the sky. I still look at it and feel its beauty...

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I am a student [Master of Design - Product Design and Engineering] at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. I completed BTech (Mechanical Engineering) from NIT Silchar. My native place is Sipajhar, a small place with rich cultural heritage, in Assam. I am interested in designing products and systems for a better life. I like to collect quotes, read books,blog and surf net, dance and sing Bihu songs and write poems and articles. I don't like to talk while I am eating. But above all, I want to be happy all the time. Contact me at m2n037[at]gmail[dot]com
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