Liquidity in Job Markets

For the past month or so, I have been  looking at job postings in my field of specialization – Geotechnical Engineering – across the US and Canada. During my searches, I noticed some general trends that the companies exhibit when it relates to the expectations and/or qualifications of the candidates they want. Most are what is to be anticipated for the corresponding position. But of all the different expectations listed, one particular aspect has many interesting collateral impacts for the overall job market. And that is the requirement of Experience.


In general, I noticed the following breakup in the job postings (I do not have hard numbers, but a constant exposure to the postings will pretty much confirm this):

  • Senior Geotechnical Engineer (40% of available positions): 10-15+ years of experience.
  • Intermediate Geotechnical Engineer (30-35% of available positions): 5-10 years of experience.
  • Junior/Entry Level Geotechnical Engineer (25-30% of available positions): 0-3 years of experience.

At first glance, the above description appears to be rather innocuous. A direct correlation between seniority of position and expected level of experience from the candidate is fairly obvious and definitely warranted. But this does not provide the complete picture. What needs to be looked at is that about 70% of jobs in the market are only for candidates who have experience in the range of 5-15 years or more. So what does this imply?

First, we have to understand where the labor supply – all experience levels – comes from and where they are currently and where they will be in the future. In the field of Geotechnical Engineering, I can think of a few hundred people graduating with a Master’s degree every year in the US, and a Master’s degree is pretty much a requirement for a career in Geotechnical Engineering. So that means there is a constant supply of maybe 200-400 eligible candidates every year for the Junior/Entry Level positions. For the sake of discussion, let us assume that all these graduates get an entry level job. (From my own experiences in trying to hire entry level candidates for my company, I can say that the demand exceeds supply. So this assumption is valid). And let us also assume that most, if not all, of the demand for the entry level/junior Geotech positions is fulfilled. So far, so good.

But this is where the fun starts. Because you see, unlike the constant supply of eligible graduates for Junior/Entry level positions, there is absolutely no such supply for the Intermediate and Senior level positions. The people graduating from colleges are unemployed and actively looking for entry level jobs. Companies are also actively looking to fill their junior/entry level positions. So there is a constant match between demand and supply for the entry level jobs.

But there is no such connection available between eligible candidates and the Intermediate/Senior positions. The ‘eligible’ candidates for these positions are typically already employed and lack any incentives to change jobs. The lack of incentive only increases with a person’s experience. That is, the longer a person spends time in a city or a company, they are unlikely to move away from either or both. People develop professional connections, drop roots in a community, buy houses, start a family and get settled in one place as they progress in their career.

If anything, the factors listed above only contribute to a ‘cost’ for the person if they were to consider changing companies and/or cities. And any company looking to hire for an Intermediate/Senior position will have to ‘compensate’ for that cost in some visible form – higher salary, higher position, faster career growth, better living/working conditions, etc. And it is not sufficient for the company seeking to hire the candidate to be just ‘better’ than the candidate’s current employer. They will have to be ‘significantly better’ since they will have to provide additional compensation for the ‘cost’ the candidate has to pay to change jobs.

All this points to a job market where the entry level positions are continuously filled and the intermediate/senior level positions are hard to fill. Most of the intermediate/senior level jobs typically stay open for a long time (several months). Anyone can login to any job platform and see this for themselves. In spite of this, one cursory look at the tone and content of the job posting requirements for intermediate and senior level positions reveals such a sense of idealism on part of the company seeking the candidates. There are typically such a large number of specific requirements listed for a candidate in these positions, one has to wonder exactly how successful are these companies in hiring people for this level?

And that is not even a rhetorical question from my side. I am genuinely interested to know what the success rate is for companies seeking to hire intermediate and senior level positions in a specific high skilled profession. What percentage of these positions actually get filled? How long are they typically open for? Do the recruiters ever relax their requirements? Do they promote someone from within the organization and/or give them additional responsibilities? Are the recruiters even aware of the nature of the job market? What do they do when they absolutely need someone?

Or in other words, exactly how liquid is the job market at the intermediate and senior positions for high skilled professions? 

These questions take me to yet more interesting aspects/impacts on the overall job market. In an illiquid job market, what does job creation even mean? Exactly how valuable is experience for a given role? How would/should one define skills shortage? And how should this be addressed? What should be the role of immigrants in such a situation?

These are questions I seek to address in future posts. Stay tuned.



The Stereotypical Dream

So I am having a good time here in Iowa. No no. It does not mean that I am having a good time BECAUSE I am in Iowa. I am just having a good time thats all. Actually, come to think of it, Iowa isn’t a bad place after all. There are many awesome places to see and things to do around it. Just nothing IN it. But I digress.

So I have a job here. And I have a car. And I have a new awesome camera. The immediate and implied consequences of those three facts are what I have been making the best use of. And as a result, I find that I am actually quite happy with my life now. Not needing to worry about money, having the means to travel around, meeting new people and spending good time with them, exploring a new hobby- everything seems to fall perfectly into place right now. And this got me thinking in a different direction altogether.

The good and happy position I find myself in right now is obviously not just restricted to me. Most of my friends with whom I did my undergrad are all similarly well settled in some job somewhere and are having an equally good time, if not better. Which made me ask the question:

What is it about my friends and I that has made it possible for us to be in this position in our lives?

Most of us are bright and smart. And where we are now must be partly attributed to that. Sure, we did make the cut in a few examinations or get admissions to some good foreign universities. But these are not really the sole factors which helped us to get where we are now. What I am trying to get my head around is the very system that facilitates this process.

The one common fact that I observe is the most obvious one. All of us started off in Engineering courses. After we finished our Bachelors in Engineering, we either eventually landed up in some management institute of repute or in some good university for Masters (in India or abroad). Subsequent to that, we found jobs and now we find ourselves in a good position. (Else, continue for a PhD if that is what is your calling.)

The thing that strikes me the most in that process is its ease and convenience. It is almost like there is a perfect flow chart laid out in front of those who study Engineering in India. Follow that flow chart where the primary variables are your effort, intelligence, desire and interest, and you are very likely to come out of the process successful. (Successful may mean more money to you. To your parents, it may mean that it is now easier to find you a suitable bride. If you are a Gult, it means your ‘value’ increases. The last two are for men, obviously. But I digress.)

My point is that in India, as long as you are not dumb, you have a good level of interest and are ready to put in the required effort, you are very likely to get to the position I am talking about  – if you are an Engineering student. I am saying that being an engineering student facilitates and/or expedites our journey through the above process. That there are extra advantages to studying Engineering that will help one come out to be financially successful. And I am also saying that not many other disciplines can claim the same.

Maybe it is because of a lack of people I know who have taken up other disciplines that I am unable to arrive at a different conclusion. But simply put, it is a whole lot more difficult for people in disciplines other than engineering to be financially successful to the same degree as their engineering counterparts.

And I do not say that with pride or happiness.

For I myself was a victim of getting brain washed into joining Engineering when my heart lay in pure science. That I eventually found a topic which got me interested and excited equally is what I consider extremely fortunate. But for those who chose to pursue their true interests (when it wasn’t engineering that is), I find it extremely disappointing that they have to tread a much harder AND longer path to be financially successful to the same degree as their engineering counterparts.

At this point, let me make it clear that I am not going to discuss about ‘true satisfaction’ in ‘doing what you really like’ and where your ‘heart lies’ etc. True, people choosing to pursue their interests in different disciplines will probably be more happy studying it. But here, I am only comparing  tangible parameters, and specifically financial success. ‘True satisfaction’ and such are subjective ideas and they warrant a different treatment.

People from other disciplines have to study longer, work longer and make decisions filled with a lot more uncertainty before they reach the same level of financial stability and success as we engineering folks do. (And by that time they are likely to be married so it will not count anyway!) I personally find this very discouraging and destructive.

In a society where we require specialists in all fields, this kind of a glaring contrast in the different options available for students to choose their area of specialization is definitely counter-productive. But fact still remains that engineering is indeed the easiest way to get to where you want to go. And though most of the other disciplines do offer ways to get there, you have to almost always tread a harder, longer and more uncertain path.

Make no mistake. I am by no means trying to suggest that Engineering is THE SHIT and that everyone needs to take up Engineering to be successful financially (as if thats not already happening). In fact, I secretly pray everyday (I don’t know to whom though) that people (mainly parents) come to their senses and encourage young students to study their discipline of interest. But the wide gap that presents itself saying Engineering-is-the-easier-way-than-what-you-want-to-study does not help matters. Of course, the way to narrow the gap is not to make the engineering path less easy or convenient, but to make the paths of all other disciplines free of hurdles and unnecessary social stigma.

Which eventually brings me to the title of this post. The Stereotypical Dream. It is a dream every guy has and cannot really deny. Financial freedom and being in a place where there are a lot of things to do and places to see. It is also a dream that every parent has of their children too. And engineering seems to be the only quick, easy and assured way to realize it. Sad but true.

PS: This post is not my attempt at a  “In your face Manu Joseph” response. Yes. I read that article and found it amusing to say the least. It is not even worth linking to.

Encounters of the Upanayana Kind-Part I

Firstly, this is not MY Upanayana that I am going to write about. The Upanayana  described here is that of my cousin, who has NOT written about it here (yet). My own Upanayana took place some 8 years ago and under totally different circumstances as you will eventually understand. Oh and for the uninitiated, UPANAYANA stands for the THREAD CEREMONY, a (sacred) ritual popular among the Brahmins. It is  a ceremony where the VATU (or the child) is supposedly initiated into the Brahmin tradition- so to speak. Of course, in recent times, all this boils down to is a set of fixed rituals that the Vatu-no-more (or now called Brahmachari or a celibate) performs twice a day- well at least is expected to perform- called Sandhyavandane. And so last week was the day that my cousin was inducted into the Brahmin community amidst quite some drama and action. Hereon in, my cousin will be referred to as VATU (child) during the incidents before his formal induction and BRAHMACHARI (celibate till marriage) after induction. But first, lets have some background about the VATU in question.

The Vatu is an atheist. The Vatu likes Metallica and has recently discovered the bliss surrounding Pink Floyd, Old Monk and the various combinations involving the two. The Vatu went to the same IIT-JEE coaching center and is now studying at the same Engineering college that I went to. The Vatu likes living in the hostel except for the part wherein he has to eat the mess food and use the same mess water and sink to brush his teeth.

So now let us flashback to about 3 months before the Upanayana.

Vatu is in the hostel playing FIFA’10. Vatu’s mobile phone rings. It is his mother. Vatu reluctantly answers the call.

Vatu: Hello?

Vatu’s mom: How are you?

Vatu: I am ok.

Vatu’s mom: Had your dinner?

Vatu: Yes.

Vatu’s mom: Ok. What did you have?

Vatu (getting impatient): Rice and Dal.

Vatu’s mom: Ok. We are having your thread ceremony on June 2.

Vatu (thinking): WTF??!!??

Vatu’s mom: Good night.

Back to 1 week before the ceremony:

Vatu (to his mom): I will be going to KQA Mahaquizzer on May 30. I will be occupied that day.

Vatu’s mom: No you are not. That day we have the Devara Samaradhane for your Upanayana (Loose translation: Pleasing of the Gods for your Thread Ceremony).

Vatu (thinking): WTF??!??


The day of the Pleasing of the Gods was a Sunday and the complete First circle of Family randomly decided to show up for the occassion. (It should be noted that for ‘occasions’ like these, the FIRST circle somehow always gets redefined to include every Seena, Guru and Ramesha- the equivalent of Tom, Dick and Harry- in the family) And so I found myself dreading at the prospect of meeting all the vicariously existing Aunts and Uncles, not to mention random second cousins seeking career advice from Akshay Anna (Big Brother Akshay). And of course, for those of you who remember, I knew I would meet up with THESE dudes as well. But perhaps what I dreaded the most was the inevitable enquiries into my life over the past 10 months-thanks largely to me having gone to FOREN and all. So, in my case, FOREN referred to the USA and so I could totally see people thronging around me yelling “Akshay Anna has come  back from FOREN!” or “Akshay Anna how was FOREN?” I could also see me being introduced to random people as “This is Akshay. He has returned from FOREN.”

Eventually, I did show up at the Vatu’s house where I found the Vatu himself (clothed in dress code for the day- Panche/Shalya) with his parents, in front of what appeared to be a mess of flowers, Akshathe, coconuts, random blouse pieces, fruit, and one self righteous Shastrigalu (priest). The whole show was being directed (as is always the case in Hindu ceremonies) by this self righteous priest sporting a supercilious attitude and accompanied by his two mandatory sidekicks whose only aim in life is to emulate (quite literally) him both in the mantra-chanting aspect and the attitude sporting aspect.

So as I watched the actual Pleasing of the Gods, it took me exactly 2 mins and 3 seconds to get bored enough to actually strike a conversation with one of THE DUDES mentioned before. The other dude seemed to be completely at home and at peace donning the Adige Bhattru (cooks) uniform and helping out the Adige Bhattru in their adige (cooking) and eating arrangements. Soon I was inevitably drawn into the career advice doling role of Akshay Anna and I did my best to spread my belief that Engineering was evil and that aspiring to become a software engineer is not exactly an aspiration. You will end up like that anyway. However, there were no games of chess involved this time around, largely due to the failure on part of the kid to get the chess set to the ceremony.

Now every family has a family douchebag. My family douchebag happens to be a 45 odd year old man (who also incidentally looks like an actual douchebag), who does not spare any opportunity to convey the fact that his IQ is less than that of TIMMY. I am not exactly sure what this dude does for a living. But I have heard from various sources that he used to run a Detective Agency somewhere! No kidding. And it appeared that now he had shifted professions and was presently working as an arranged marriage broker! Imagine that! Your marriage being set up by a family douchebag! This guy happened to sit in the same room as I was during lunch time and I was subjected to some interesting one-sided conversations (in Kannada) of his over his cell phone. Excerpts:

“Sorry there was a mistake in the newspaper ad. We want brides not grooms.”

“I have 32 grooms and 4 brides.”

“All the brides have ran away somewhere!”

Presently, one of his brothers accused him of blatantly trying to get one of his friends/relative (the groom) married to a woman who reminds people of the “Gajalakshmi” from old Kannada movies. (Think Boiler dimensions!) The douchebag defended himself by saying that the said Gajalakshmi was very insistent that she be married to a man of good standing and that he himself was very keen to ‘offload’ her off his brokering lists.

Eventually, the ‘guests’ began to leave and I found myself just loitering around doing nothing in particular. The Vatu’s father spotted me doing nothing and suddenly beckoned me and introduced me to who I believe to be some lady related to him in some way. The dialogue that ensued was quite remarkable really:

Vatu’s dad: This is Akshay. Akshay this is my “insert n degrees of separation where n>3” relative.

Me: Hello aunty.

Vatu’s dad (in Kannada): Ivara yoorunu US nalli MS madtha iddhale. (Loosely translates to implying-“There is some person whom I do not know who is doing MS in US but is related in some way to this lady here!)

Me (thinking): OMG!!! What a coincidence???!! Somebody whom I have never heard of or met before in my life knows somebody else who happens to be one among the lakhs of people who are studying Masters in USA!! Un-fuckin-believable eh??!!?

Stranger Aunt: My friend’s sister’s daughter is also studying in US.

Me (thinking): Wait! Who? Does she even know you exist?

Stranger aunt: Where are you studying?

Me: Virginia Tech (hoping it would ring some bell. After all, she happened to ‘know’ someone who was doing their Masters in US.)

Stranger Aunt (betraying her ignorance): Ok ok. So you are doing Masters in Computer Science?

Me: No.

Stranger Aunt: Ok so you are doing MS in Electronics is it?

Me: No. I am doing my Masters in Civil Engineering.

Suddenly, Stranger Aunt began to change her expression to “looks-like-I-have-been-wasting-my-time-talking-to-this-guy” kind of a look. Eventually she realized that she had to say something positive and so :

Stranger Aunt: Oh Civil is it?? Ok. So is there scope for Civil Engineering there??

Me (thinking): OK I am done here.

And on that note (and without giving a response), I just walked out of the room. And in a short while, I found myself liberated from the clutches of meeting random people who seem to pass judgment at the slightest opportunity. And so just before I left, I met my cousin, the Vatu, and empathized with him for a short while for what he had to go through and for what was still to come. But what was to come on the actual day of the thread ceremony was something neither of us could have anticipated or be prepared for in anyway!

Thats up in Part 2 of the Upanayana series!

Bliss Factor

It has been close to two months now, since I set foot here in America. Two months of experiencing something new and experiencing it first hand. And I like it here. Thats just it. I simply, like it here. Maybe its the small size of the town, or maybe its the nice climate, or maybe its the excitement of meeting new people. Perhaps, it may just be about how happy and contended I feel about my decision to come here. Whatever maybe the reason, I can, without any hesitation, say that I like it here


Perhaps I could attribute a major portion of my satisfaction to my program including the professors and the facilities that come along with it. Not to forget some very like minded classmates that I have been able to befriend. It is difficult to express the bliss I feel everytime I decide to study and find people around me actually encouraging me to spend time studying. This in contrast with all the mockery and ridicule I faced back in India during Undergrad while trying to do the same (And incidentally, unlike most of the other programs, I find that there is just one more Indian in my class). It really is something different to be in a position to decide to study at any point and actually be able to do it well. And the way ideas and concepts revealed themselves when I recently immersed myself in a topic for a few hours, reminded me of the long forgotten raw bliss, the experience of which was my only purpose in life. And now, when I realize that I really don’t have anything else on my mind and that  my greatest concern is about submitting my assignments on time, I am quite certain that this is the time when I can go back to fulfilling that purpose.

There have been a whole load of things that have definitely contributed to my bliss here. One of them, and inevitably I have to say, is alcohol. After discovering that Beer is cheaper than water here, my weekends have inevitably involved at least 2 l of Beer, the operative words being “at least”. The entire town just comes alive on Friday nights when every single person is likely to be found in some or the other pub/bar. If you want to see and appreciate the feminine beauty in this place, you need to necessarily visit downtown bars on a Friday night. Beer is really such an everyday concept that it is almost considered a taboo if you do NOT drink beer! And you will know you are in America when you find yourself drinking a whole load of beer and wine with all your professors in their home! In fact, that was part of the icebreaker arranged for everyone in my program and to which I had taken the Bhel Puri that I had prepared myself (Ellarigu Kadlepuri Thinnisdhe!!).

And then there is this whole new experience of seeing skin. You know it for a fact; you have been prepared for it; you have seen them in all Hollywood movies- but irrespective of all of that, when you see that extra piece of feminine skin in front of your own eyes, it is only then that you truly understand that you are indeed far, far away from home! Seriously speaking, sometimes you see some females wearing such clothes that you really wonder why they even need to wear whatever they are wearing. And everytime you feel you are getting used to it, there comes along a girl wearing a dress that makes you go “WTF??!!???” all over again. Not that I am complaining, but its just the fact I have seen more skin here in the past 2 months than I had seen in my entire life previously.

Technology and infrastructure take whole new meaning in here. The fear of getting sued for millions of dollars has probably put everyone on the path to perfection. And so you will find internet connections of 7Mbps which basically means that I (FINALLY) get to watch 4 Champions League matches simultaneously! Pandora and MySpace become the two new sources of music that I have never gotten tired of exploring. Of course, with all this, the price we pay is the inability to download torrents without ending up in jail. But I think I will settle for that.

And with regard to my food, about which I had cribbed so much last time around, I have to say that my culinary skills have vastly and very quickly improved. I find it extremely easy and nice to cook twice a day. And make no mistake here. I am not talking about bland stuff like rasam or Upma. I am talking serious cooking like Sambhar with different vegetables, different gravies, dal palak, dal, Akki Rotti, Veg Pulao, Peas Pulao, Shavige bath, Brinjal and Capsicum Bath, egg curry etc. I somehow am pleasantly surprised myself that I am able to cook everything with such ease.

And so, on the whole, I have to say that, contrary to my expectations,  I really don’t have anything to crib about here. And, having been at the receiving end of many plans-in-life-going-wrong, I am not setting any long term goals nor am I making any plans as to where I will be when. I am just going with the flow, letting the system take me wherever it is supposed to take me and all I am concerning myself with are my assignments and tests. Everything else seems to either fade away or just fall into place. Such a certainty in having made the perfect decision comes but very rarely……

And I am going to a METALLICA concert on October 17. LIFE IS GOOD…..FINALLY!

Updating my Existence

It has been a very eventful few weeks I have to say. Maybe not so much on my blog as off it. And now I am finally all settled and ready to venture into some unknown territory (read continent). So in order not to disappoint my (continuously and inevitably) diminishing reader count, I have embarked upon this new post just to shed some light on all the various exciting stuff (and I am not talking about Michael Jackson) that I might at some point of time use as an excuse for my diminishing posting frequency. So in no particular order, here goes:

  1. After months together of internal and external debate and tearing myself apart and some subsequent coin tossing, I finally decided to shift continents-from Europe to North America. More specifically, from Imperial College London to Virginia Tech. There were a lot of pros and cons for each of them. VT was simply better in all aspects including finance, research exposure etc. But Imperial College had Stamford Bridge next door! (God Damn it!) But then, after talking for hours over the phone with Royan, who repeatedly drilled into me (and I have to say, in a biased manner) that USA is a better place etc etc, and then with some first hand info from a VT student, I finally made the call and I am now fully happy that I made the right one. But I guess, in the end, it all really boiled down to Royan’s tireless efforts to make me apply to VT in the first place. And for that (and of course the alcohol inspiration), I think he has more than made up for all the stabs in the hostel! 😉
  2. Of course, the decision making was only the beginning of what was to be an extra-ordinarily painful ordeal of applying for a bank loan and getting all the visa documents readied. And after months together of effort, I finally got my visa a few days back and now I know for sure where I am going. And a word of suggestion about bank loans-and this stems solely from my own experience: I strongly recommend CANARA BANK for all your education loans. I have been extremely impressed by the speed and manner in which all my formalities were handled and am also indebted to all the people involved who made it possible for me to get my Loan approved before my Visa interview.
  3. Also worth mentioning, just a few weeks back, I almost got rammed into from behind by a speeding Indica late in the night. All thanks to a speed breaker built at a particularly inappropriate zone (and the subsequent marking of that zone as “dangerous”), I could have as well not lived to write this. Watching an Indica do a complete 180 topple some 3 feet behind you when you are in a lame 2 wheeler is not exactly exciting. More so when you realize that the driver did what he did just to avoid ramming into me! But miraculously, the driver escaped without as much as a scratch! And I ‘escaped’ from the accident scene soon after- for reasons Logik didn’t bother to reveal as well. Oh and BTW, it took me some 5 days to get out of my house with the same lame  wheeler again.
  4. And so having found insane amounts of time at my disposal in recent months (apart from the harrowing visa process), I hit upon this idea of doing something more constructive and substantial. I realized that I could not really get into any job as such. So I turned my attention to my writing. Having been really impressed and inspired by some of the books and blogs that I have been reading lately, I started a new blog dedicated solely to the adventures and escapades of certain characters that I developed. The blog is here. It mainly consists (or will consist) of a series of short stories about the life of a 22 year old guy who finds himself in the middle of a lot of unusual situations. The stories are almost completely original, with only a very few instances based upon something that I have seen or experienced. Realizing the inevitability of basing a character on oneself, I have made a conscious effort not to base the main character Samir on myself. I have started this new blog with quite a bit of seriousness and hope to atleast write one post every week from now on. As of now, I have only written one post and it is about Samir losing his virginity. I wish I could say this one was based on my own experiences, but alas no. So please do follow the blog (you will find the link at the adjacent column always) and I hope to keep my end of the deal of updating it regularly as well.
  5. In celebration of my Visa arrival, there was a sizeable party at my house with an even more sizeable presence of alcohol. So much so, I still have leftovers. The party may be remembered for such things like me preparing the World’s worst cocktail (and my subsequent failure at that) consisting of Shark Tooth Vodka, Grappo Fizz, Godrej Xs KIWI juice, Coke and some Blue Riband Gin as well. Also of note, is how my cousin will always forever rue that night to be the one time his younger sister beat him to a certain feat, a fact that will hitherto remain secret from their mother.
  6. After what seemed like a virtual impossibility, I finally went to Wonderla with a couple of friends, one of whom is better known here in this blog for her involvement in a certain handbag hunting expedition. The trip, though initially threatening to make me feel worse, eventually exceeded my expectations and has definitely become something that I will remember for a long time.
  7. I am presently in the midst of a shopping and meeting people spree, largely due to the 17 days that I have left in this country. I will maybe have a  few more drinking sessions before I leave and am presently in the process of learning the nuances of cooking at home. Any of you people ready to play guinea pig please feel free to drop by.

So there it is. Some of the things that define ‘exciting’ for me. I will be leaving to Virginia on August 2 with a Junior of mine from college and hope to be able to blog after going there as well. But till then, I hope to write as much as possible. In fact, I hope to write at least one post a day till I leave. Ok…Now I know what you are thinking and I fully agree- HOPE IS A GOOD THING….

Chronicles of an NITK Convocation

This post is very easily over 2 months late in appearing, but nevertheless I was finally able to finish and post it.

It was simply put, the 3 best days I have had in a long long time. Exceeding all my expectations and fantasies, I returned from my convo with a big smile on my face. Here I recollect all my memories from those 3 days.

After much delay and speculation, my convo date was finally fixed on Jan 31 2009. The day I was supposed to be bestowed upon with a Bachelor of Technology degree for my 4 years of improvised laziness and unproductivity. But my plans  included a lot more than just that. Considering the fact that I had been practically sober for over 5 months, my priorities took shape around appropriate issues. I also had a list of things to do in college which I held close to me during my stay there. So, in decreasing order of priority and importance, here is the list of what all I intended to accomplish:

  1. Get drunk.
  2. Get drunk and then get sloshed.
  3. Go for a midnight inebriated walk around the campus.
  4. Then get drunk again.
  5. Meet all my teachers.
  6. Eat the early morning hot Buns at Thadambail.
  7. Meet all other relevant people.
  8. Eat at 3rd Block Night Canteen.
  9. Visit the beach and eat the egg omlette at the nearby shack.
  10. Download as much as possible from DC++.
  11. And not to forget, I was also supposed to collect my degree!

So with these objectives in mind, I set out to my college in a train accompanied by dozens of fellow to-be-graduates. After getting duly blasted by the TC for being over zealous in disturbing co-passengers who were not to-be-graduates, I went to sleep. At around 9:30 AM, I found Sadanand and myself camping in the same junior’s room and I couldn’t help being reminded that we were room mates once again. The junior looked exactly like how anyone would look half an hour prior to committing suicide. But then, that aside, there were a lot of changes worth noticing in and around the campus. The Highway was in impeccable condition, the new hostel blocks were towering at 7 storeys and a few new buildings were already up and running. But alas! One thing had apparently remained the same, as if in defiance to all the changes happening around-there was still no god damn water in the hostel blocks!

And so, at around 11, I finally met my classmates and went to speak to my teachers. It felt really nice to go back to where it all began for me. Met both my Geotech teachers because of whom I have whatever identity I got right now and informed them of my first admit. Needless to say, they were pretty happy as well. Had lunch at the newly opened “Suraj International” thinking there would be alcohol as well, but alas, they didn’t serve drinks. And soon after, I found myself in Mangalore watching Luck By Chance at Bharath Mall and I have to say, the movie was good.  But the best part of the day was yet to come.

Tul was conducting a quiz (unfortunately under sober conditions) and though I didn’t take part in it, it was anyway an informal affair with a lot of nice questions. Practically the entire quizzing gang had turned up for the quiz and stuck together to get drunk at the one and only Garuda Bar as well. Choukkar, the alcoholic had apparently been sloshed the entire day but didn’t mind  remaining that way for much longer. And as far as I was concerned, I was getting drunk with fellow alcoholics after more than 7 months-and thats all I cared about. And I was duly joined by my room mate alcoholic Sadanand who had, in the meantime, gone to Mangalore on a mission of utmost importance and almost succeeded completely! In spite of his failure, he had still gone one up on my To-do list! And so as he joined the drinking party already drunk,  it became very evident that he was enjoying it! And to add to the shady atmosphere, some old melodious Kannada songs started blaring in the Bar speakers and sounded real awesome! After most of the gang had left, we decided to call it quits at around 12:30 in the night with Gayru who had come all the way from IIM Kolkata and it was nice catching up and belting our very own Karadi. Finally, we ended up in one of our Junior-Harish’s-room nice and high, with plans of watching a movie. Those plans drastically changed 2 minutes into the movie when Sadanand just crashed and went off to sleep. So soon, even I left to my camping room- the dude with the suicide on his face-and went off to sleep.

I woke up early next day, slightly disoriented, wondering for a few seconds where I was and what had happened the previous night. Then when it all came back to me, I got ready and realized I had to get myself registered for the convo. So I went with Sadanand and got registered at the SJA and also convinced him to have the famed Idly-Vada-Sambar breakfast with me at our very own Mysore Mess-I. He was of the opinion that the mess worker would chase us once he found out that we were not students anymore. But nothing like that happened.  A new mess worker gave us the eye but let us eat all the idlis we wanted. And they were still awesome! Free Breakfast!

And as for the convocation itself, all of us were present at the SJA half an hour before time and that was sufficient time to catch up with all of the 18 classmates who had turned up. A dress code of white formal shirts with ties and black trousers and black shoes was flouted by many including me. In due time, the entire senate entered the auditorium to an entrancing music. All the members of the senate were clothed in a strange attire fitting their designations and the whole thing looked more like we were getting inducted into some major cult rather than getting our degrees! And so after all the formalities got underway, the speeches started. And after the speeches ended, the degree giving began. First to all the MTechs and MCAs and then to the BTechs. My parents had come and were watching from the first floor. And I have to say this: The moment I collected my degree which made me a Graduate of Civil Engineering from NITK Surathkal, I felt absolved of all my guilt and regret of not having made it into an IIT and was more than just happy to have spent 4 of my most memorable years here in NITK.

By the time I went back to my room, it was 530 in the evening and Sadanand left to Mangalore with a more noble objective. And I found myself in the company of Logik, Con and a certain female entity who had suddenly lost significant weight-headed for the beach. On the way, I was able to tick off one more on my To-Do list when I ate the Egg Omlette at the Egg Shack near the Lighthouse. Then, after some confusion, I found myself on the beach, sitting on the rocks, talking and catching up on old times for a very long time. It was almost 9 in the night when we decided to go back to the campus. Somehow, I wish I could have stayed there on those rocks feeling the breeze and hearing the waves splash, for a much longer time.

On my way back, I met my HoD and he was really happy to see me. Having been extremely co-operative and helpful during my course, I was really happy to see him as well. After a brief chat with him, I parked myself in front of my Dept for some more chatting session. Shortly, my junior and drink buddy for the night,Harish,  turned up from Mangalore and we both went to do what we were meant to do-get totally drunk. Adrian joined us for our drinking session, as promised. I opened my Black Dog Scotch which I had been saving for over 6 months just for this moment and raised a toast to my Convo. Half an hour later, the bottle is empty and so I open the Tetrapack of DSP that I had bought in the last week of my stay in the hostel. I had saved this too for this date. And after that also got over, Adrian hit upon this very useful idea and next thing I know, I have about 180ml of William Grant’s exquisite Scotch with me in my bottle. With that, we escape out of the hostel and all the way to my Dept, where we camp to finish the extra quarter Scotch. Time passes by and none of us 3 are in touch with it. After the Scotch gets over, I pay my tribute to my Dept by leaving behind all traces of alcohol consumption at the steps leading in front of the Dept Building. All 3 of us, totally drunk by now, head to SAC and talk more nonsense. Logik joined us shortly thereafter. After some more idle chat, I call up Royan (the main reason I am an alcoholic) and talk to him for about half an hour during which time he tells me something he did that suddenly spiked my respect for him. (Hail Royan! Thou art in a diferent continent and at a different level altogether! I Bow to thee!!) And soon after, my conversation with Royan ended, largely due to the zero balance that Adrian’s phone began to claim. However, the night was still young, and I was still pretty high. Harish had crashed on the stage where some Shamiana had been put up. I fulfilled another of my long standing goals by performing “Aqualung” in SAC to a non-Zero crowd with my air guitar! I then joined Adrian in singing “Turn the Page” to the same crowd.

Me and Adrian : ” …Smoke the day’s last cigarette..remembering what she said…what she said”

Adrian (immediately): Here I am!! On the road again!!

Me: Hey wait man! I need to play the lead still! (I walk into the front and play the lead!)

After the song is over and I have played the outro as well, Adrian finds Harish sleeping on the stage and upsets the support used to tie the Shamiana in place and lo and behold! This dude, suddenly springs to life and jumps out of the stage in a flash expecting the entire thing to come down on him-which incidentally didn’t happen. Nevertheless, we found ourselves at 3rd Block Night Canteen treated as the last customers for the night and I end up having some Vada Pav.Now i wish I had also had the Lassi.

I dont recollect what time it was exactly, but it was pretty late in the night-almost early morning. We head to the rooms to get some cash to eat the early morning hot buns at Thadambail and when I went back to the room, I was in for a treat! Though not officially on my To-Do list for the convo, it was always there at the back of my mind. And to do the stuff in that state of mind, at that time with fellow like-minded people (some of whom had passed out during their marathon 6 hour long session) and with copious amounts of Mint flavored Hukka, it was a lot more than I could ask for! All thanks to the DASA guys, my Convo experience was complete and perfect!

I was then officially and properly stoned and went in that state to Thadambail to have the hot buns. Every piece of the Bun-Sambhar combo was like an experience of  a sudden spike in the bliss factor. And with my senses in an extra alert state, I savored each and every moment of it! By the time I came back, daylight was just cracking open in the sky. I bid good night(morning) to fellow drunkards and went to sleep. Now THAT is what I would call A LONG AND MEMORABLE NIGHT!

Having checked off practically everything on my TO-Do list for the convo by then,  I realized I was relatively free when I woke up and so spent the rest of the day in peace. Just went to Mangalore for a short trip to meet a friend and that apart, I spent most of my time in the room filling up my newly bought hard disk with everything I could possibly lay my hands on in DC++. In the end, I found I could only fill around 160GB and not more, largely due to a blatant lack of time.

I finally pack and leave at around 6 and meet some juniors on the way. Although I would have wished to have spent more time with one of them, I still had a smile on my face when I finally boarded the bus and headed to the railway station.

And so there was my NITK Convocation. Couldn’t have been any better or perfect for me. Will remain as one of the most memorable times I have had in a long time!

And Thus Spake His Holiness

Considering the fact that my first job has not really helped my posting frequency, it has now become imperative for me to take steps to discontinue my indifferent treatment to my blog. It has been a long time since I churned out the handbag expedition post. And in that, I had also dealt with how Mr. Fate seems to be so very concerned about me and my future and how He always seemed to so easily tell me “I don’t think I can let you have this, or that, or for that matter anything that you deem really important!” But then I guess He eventually got bored of stabbing me and decided to just sit and watch all the fun. And as a result, here I am- in my first job- as a Project Assistant at IISc. Decent pay for doing something I like to do. Project is good. Work is good. Meeting new people. Making new friends. And I guess on the whole, life seems to be returning back to being filled with brighter prospects for the future. And that’s as far as I can go to say myself to be settled.

But something about the project was initially bothering me to a large extent. Having specialized in Soil Engineering at every step of my B.Tech, I was a little apprehensive about this present project of mine as it was based on Environmental Engineering. And so as I was talking to my close friend His Holiness about how I felt I was being unfaithful to Soil Engineering by taking up a project in Environmental Engineering, he made some spontaneous remarks that have somehow stuck with me even now. Check this out, this is what he said:

“Look man you don’t worry about that. You can look at it this way. Think of you being married to Soil Engineering and that you want to have a baby (the baby corresponding to me doing my higher studies in Soil Engg) but you can’t due to some constraints. And so now, think of Environmental Engg as a Surrogate Mother who is just helping you have the baby. So its not like you are cheating on Soil Engg. Its just that you are making use of Envi Engg to strengthen your ties with Soil Engg!”

And that somehow put everything into place and I felt more confident about my project and my future prospects. I really do not know how this guy suddenly comes up with these analogies. But good for me, it helped me put things in the right perspective. And so as per his suggestion in a comment that he put in the previous Stab post, I now officially declare myself to be DE-STABBED!

And also of notice, is that my second shot at GRE is going to take place this October 1st. Come to think of it, this is actually my first shot, considering the fact that I never really wrote the GRE last time around! And yes, my passport is already on its way this time.

So there you have it. Something worthwhile that has indeed happened to me in my life at last.

PS: Apology Accepted.

Game On!!!

My dark and sinister plan to take over the world got a shot in the arm a few days back, thanks largely to some untiring efforts on my part! My evil plan, which has so far included getting admission into a Premier institute of learning and scoring mediocre grades there, got a major boost after weeks of looming uncertainty. The future prospects of my ingenious plan have improved vastly considering the magnitude and significance of my latest achievement! OK enough of bragging…. To put it in proper words,

I have got a project at IISc for the duration of 1 year!

And so now you see the far reaching effects mankind will have to face, due to this seemingly miniature development!

I have somehow come to believe that I should be writing stuff here only if I have something to say.

Technically, my last post….

Thats right. I am more or less done with this place now. My only exam got over today and I only have to get the signatures on my project report tomorrow. And after that, I will be officially disconnected with this place.

4 years at NITK Suratkal have not exactly been my best. But it has definitely been the most educative and worthwhile years of my life. This blog was started after witnessing certain stuff here about 2 years back. And now that I am writing what is going to be officially the last post before I am really done with this place, it feels a little strange. But I will not say anything else now.

I will mostly be leaving in a week. Leaving for good. I still really cannot comprehend the fact that it is all indeed over. So in this one week, I plan to live life to the fullest. Even if that means getting drunk twice a day, everyday, I will still enjoy this last week of my stay at NITK.  And more importantly I have a lot to say.

So I will be embarking on a BLOGGING MARATHON starting tomorrow. And most of them will be about my 4 years here at NITK. And in the end, I will write one post that will completely epitomize everything that I went through and learnt in these 4 years. So keep watching this space.

And so this is how my officially last post as an NITK Student comes to an end. BYE!!!

Civil Branch Diary

Thanks to my good friend’s timely intervention, I had to remove the Civil Branch Diary post that I had put up a few weeks back. But now that the College Mag is out, I do not have any problems with putting up my Branch’s Diary for the 4 years that we have stayed here. This appeared in the college mag VITRUVIAN and was written largely by me with inputs from various sources. I thank all those people who came up with ideas for the Branch Diary.

One word of note: The Civil girls of my batch, like I had notified in my earlier post, really believed that they had the complete rights to write the Branch Diary. But of course, I was not giving anything to them! Not that I have anything against is just that I dont like them. Period. So you will hardly find much stuff commending the girls’ achievements in here. Some of the girls actually went to the extent of making fun of it. But now that they have a copy, I have just one thing to say:


Also of note is the fact that one of my earlier posts- Banality a.k.a Bollywood-also has found it’s way into VITRUVIAN with some minor editing, which I frankly found that it made the article better. So if you have a copy of the VITRU, then do read it or you can visit the link that I have given.

So anyway, here is a copy of the Civil Branch Diary that I wrote for VITRUVIAN.

Concrete Ideas

Four years is not exactly a long time. Especially, if you happen to be studying in the Civil Dept. But it was definitely long enough for a bunch of complete strangers to bond like concrete and forge friendships of steel.

First Year

The first year took off with us Civil junta being clubbed together with the Mining junta for the duration of the first year. The first few days largely consisted of teachers regularly subjecting us to repetitive hypnotic sessions, thereby firmly drilling into our heads, the fact that “NITK is a great Institute” and that “We have made the ‘correct’ decision of joining Civil or Mining.” After the initial ice breaking was over, Yadav was ‘elected’ the CR by the handful of the class junta who actually made the effort to wake up early on a Saturday morning and go all the way to cast their precious vote. Very soon, the junta visiting the gym found it to be a totally unnecessary act, as the weekly Drawing and Workshop hours successfully catered to the need for physical exercise. C Programming theory, as per the ‘SENIOR’ Faculty (who made it a point to regularly emphasize the ‘Senior’ part), was officially over in the second week! (Thank God for Yashwanth Kanetkar!) The Trical classes were renowned for their insight into life and its many mysteries – courtesy Punekar. Of more significance, however, were the extra-small question papers in the exams, conveniently followed by the single digit marks, distributed generously for the majority! (All Hail the Relative Grading System!) Julie topped (an act that would be repeated many more times) both the semesters with his high 9 pointers-with Som and Eshita right behind him.

Third Semester

The third semester kicked off with Pandey and Manish heading off to Mech and Chem respectively to seek greener pastures. (So much for all those hypnotic sessions!)Enter The New Guy- Tidke with all his extra experience. 42 (Yes it is indeed the answer to life, universe and everything!) – was the final number of misguided souls from all over the country and abroad making up the class junta for the rest of the years! Battery, as the new CR, took the solemn oath to make sure that more classes were cancelled and assignments postponed. Crrescendo saw Julie, Shreyas, Loki, Unmukt, Waheez, Ronsi, Sandy, Meghali and VJ –all making up the 2nd year dance team. From then on, the official dance team always unofficially comprised of Civil guys and IT gals. Meanwhile, Sasikumar, with Mechanics of Materials, went one step ahead in terms of low marks which saw the whole class get more zeros during the course than in their entire life. But rest assured! The grading system once again came to our rescue with the ‘cut-off’ for FF very conveniently fixed at -9! The tradition of utilizing the Survey Practice as an excuse to get a sneak-peak into the neighbouring Maximum Security Prison (read GB) continued, with guys with dumpy levels and cross staffs getting up, close and personal views of the GB gate and the forbidden territories within! The ‘educational’ class trip-courtesy Hari and Loki-to St. Mary’s Island to witness the rare ‘hexagonal rock formations’ ended up being the most fun-filled event in the semester, with almost the entire class turning up for the day long trip! (Oh, we did see those rock formations you know..) DVR’s chillax Geology classes coupled with the Mid-Sem=End Sem Geology question papers made the third semester a breeze. The semester wound up with Julie topping yet again.

Fourth Semester

Enter fourth semester. The class junta suddenly found themselves choked in pending assignments and projects. Endangered species included the junta who did the assignments by themselves, as a result of which Som, Julie, Prass and others suddenly became, everyone’s ‘Chaddi Dost’! The combination of Fluid Mechanics and BMD (not to be confused with the sacred concept of the Bending Moment Diagram!) proved to be not so ‘friendly’ after all with the entire class junta ‘accidentally’ (yes we still maintain it as coincidental!) mass bunking for the one and only time in all the 4 years! With the progress of the semester, the expectancy level of English in BMD’s classes seemed to depreciate at such an alarming rate that by the end of the semester, the class junta began to doubt their own grammar! Meanwhile SN provided the spark in the class with his exuberant lectures on Soil Mechanics. VG’s never ending list of projects kept everyone on their toes, what with VG doling out free advice (read ‘mandatory rules’) on how to write the project like a PhD thesis! BRJ’s Structural Analysis lectures were reminiscent of the hypnotic sessions in the first year while KSBN made a guest appearance to teach us a small part of Design. Geology lab exam suddenly increased the traffic to A1 Printers with extra demand for µ-Xeroxes! The semester ended up with Julie topping the class again (This is getting very boring!) making it 4 consecutive semesters at the top for him!

Arbit Civilian: Sir, the mid-sem was very easy. Everybody scored well!

SN (smiling): Wait till you see the technical quiz…

(After technical quiz…)

Arbit Civilian: Show some mercy…Show some mercy!

Fifth Semester

The fifth semester perhaps saw the best teachers around handling the courses for us throughout the semester. LN with Water Conveyance Systems, Sasikumar with Optimization, MCN with Analysis-II, AUR with his extra cool Highway and Traffic Engineering classes and SN back with Applied Soil Mech made the experience of attending classes a truly memorable one! On the other hand, the Management Theory classes successfully reminded us of why not all courses in a semester can be interesting. Drawing came back to haunt us again in the form of Building Drawing – this time under the jurisdiction of VG! One very unfortunate batch of class junta were destined to attend one more semester of BMD’s classes –this time for FM Lab! Yadav’s second term as CR saw him set new benchmarks when it came to the CR bunking classes which in turn made the junta aptly name him ‘Bunkit’! Meanwhile, NR, RoyaanD, Som, Shreyas, Nagarjun and Pras made waves at the Civil Fest NIRMAAN at BMSCE by winning the rolling trophy, competing against colleges from all over the country! And in the class, RoyaanD, Ram, Anil, Ostrich, Pammar, Mukki, Tidke, Ganolia, Mallu, Pammar, PVD and others had firmly established their positions in the class as the Lords of the Last Bench with some of them even making it into the official late-comers list. Concrete Technology saw the junta who had taken the elective set new records in mugging and reproducing extra-arbit facts in the exams. Finally there was a switch in pole position with Eshita on top, taking over from Julie for the first time!

Sixth Semester

The sixth semester saw a blend of courses ranging from the monologue-driven Environmental Engg to the monotonous Steel Design to the no-attendance-taken Water Resources and many more. NR decided to build his ‘foundations’ in M.Tech by taking up two PG electives, thus setting the stage for others to do the same in future semesters. Yaragal’s Steel Design dictation classes saw new records being set for writing down dictated problems (and their solution!) throughout the semester. MKN’s Water Resources saw a horde of Final Year junta taking up the course- thanks largely due to MKN’s no-attendance-taken policy coupled with the extra lenient exam invigilation and generous grades. The official Last Benchers added one more dimension to their Association by judiciously utilizing the back-door of the Seminar Hall during Environmental classes (strictly for Emergency EXIT purposes only!). Meanwhile, Yadav worked extremely hard to come up with a pink gay-looking Branch T-Shirt which prompted the class junta to boycott wearing it under any circumstances. The low attendance in the classes was more than made up by the increased attendance of some of the class junta at the local bars with Ostrich, RoyaanD, Anil and other fellow Last Benchers leading the way. Nagarjun and Battery were elected PCs for a very hectic Placement Schedule that was due to come up soon. Chotu belted GATE with a cool double digit rank! Eshita continued her reign at the top by topping in the sixth semester as well.

Seventh Semester

The advent of Final Year suddenly saw a clear transition in terms of many things including number of class hours, attendance (both at bars and classes) along with the role of the CR! PvD was elected the CR amidst a heated race for the union elections and immediately raised the benchmark set by Yadav with regard to bunking classes! Swarna was subsequently elected the GB Mata by all the inmates of the neighbouring Maximum Security Prison. Julie, Ganolia, Tidke, Shreyas & Unmukt suddenly found themselves being addressed as Con or Joint Con of various clubs. Meanwhile the Placement scene was teeming with frenzy, with almost everyone getting placed in a myriad of companies. Soumya and Vineet headed the pay scale by getting into Exeter and Oracle respectively. For the first time, Core companies actually faced a problem of choice with a Civil company offering the highest package in the college this time. Placements also served as a very valid excuse to bunk more classes in an already class-starved timetable! NR and Jasim went on to win the Rolling Trophy at BMSCE for the second time in succession along with a group of juniors. Yaragal returned with one more semester of Dictation for Estimation and Costing. On the other hand, the highlight of the semester were the inspirational lectures on Structural Design and Drawing by KSBN & MCN followed by the torturous drawing sessions (in the rooms). The Drawing classes were truly engrossing with KSBN’s impeccable concepts and style of teaching, coupled with his frequent references to all the things that ‘Keshava’ CAN do! Come to think of it, is there anything that ‘Keshava’ CANNOT do??!!? The ‘light and glass’ tracing apparatus in 8th block became the most demanded thing on Thursday afternoons. The sight of all the junta walking to the drawing hall for the end sem, with their boards and drafters, reminded all of a herd of sheep heading to the slaughterhouse! The semester culminated with Som belting all the subjects and becoming the first 10-pointer in the class!

Eighth Semester

Boredom and inactivity reached new heights with most of the junta having a maximum of 3 hours of classes every week- thanks largely to AUR’s 4 hours-for-the-semester Transportation Studio! PG electives became the order of the day with most of the guys taking up M.Tech courses. Civil Engg became the only branch in the batch to hit 100% placement! Civil Events @ ENGINEER’08 saw widespread participation from various colleges- thanks largely to the untiring efforts of NR, Loki, Naga and Shreyas. Driven by boredom, jobless junta resorted to prank calls to kill the time. Major Projects remained very much in a latent state for most of the semester with almost everyone getting into action only after the deadlines were announced! Naga, having slogged for CAT, made all the Civil guys proud by receiving all 6 calls from the IIMs! Chotu improved upon his previous attempt and went on to bag the 22nd rank in GATE. Som , RoyaanD, Battery & Shreyas made it into big name universities like UMich, Virginia Tech, Maryland etc., with more admits well in sight! Civil farewell saw each member of the female population of the batch shed light on the on-campus mystery as to why all the Civil GB inmates were a cult-both in and out of GB!

All said and done, that was just the tip of the iceberg. It will take a lot more to write about all the fun and frolic that we have been through in these 4 years. 4 years, where we met some of the best people, the Masters in their field and drew inspirations from them. And wherever we may go, whatever we may do, we will always remain ‘The Civil Junta’ from NITK Suratkal!

So that was my branch diary. If you were in the Civil Batch of 04-08, then you will know who is who. And of course, I am NR in the diary.