:) :) :)

And that’s the reason for the long silence as well. Hope to blog a bit more regularly now..

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I’ve developed a sudden interest in financial planning, and am having a whale of a time setting up interesting objectives and planning for them (implementation is a different matter altogether :D ). I came up with some fascinating observations which I’ll be sharing here over time, along with some even more fascinating examples. See you soon!

karthrags

Posted in General | 2 Comments

My Existence

Hi all,

Found this absolute gem somewhere online. Also inserting image below. It’ll take a minute to understand, but its absolutely bang on target!

My Existence

Intelligent enough to be socially awkward, but not intelligent enough to make a contribution. Man, does that summarize me :D

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In general, loads of things happening in my life now – new job, new city and many other new things :) Life’s pretty exciting right now. No time for blogging! Hope to get back to regular posting soon..

karthrags

Posted in Geek Humour | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Twitter as news medium?

Hi all,

There were tremors felt in some parts of Chennai a few minutes back. On googling to see if it was true, I see that there are tweets letting the world know about the ‘quake near Andaman and tremors in Chennai and Hong Kong. Is Twitter becoming one of the best and most real-time sources of news? Pretty neat!

karthrags

Update: Tsunami alert for India!

Posted in General, Random | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Look!

Hi all,

For the first time since I created the blog, I’m changing the theme. This theme is called “twenty ten” and is a default offered by WordPress. I fell in love when I looked at it the first time :) Not messy, looks good and most importantly, highly readable.

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How’s it? Suggestions?

karthrags

Posted in General, Meta | Tagged , | 3 Comments

What’s right?

Hi all,

Quite a few of my recent posts have been questions I’ve been grappling with.  Posting it on the blog has been very useful in the sense that it gives me many perspectives to chase.. Here’s another question – how is the term “right” defined?

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If I say I want to do the right thing, then I need a set of tests that will objectively choose one option among the available ones as the “right” thing. Now that I come to think of it, I’m not able to put down such a general purpose test. I can hear many of you saying at this point to the tune of something like “there’s no such thing as an absolute right or wrong; it’s all relative and context-sensitive”. If that were the case, another problem crops up: how do you know if your definition of right is right? I don’t think its valid to come up with a definition of “right”-ness, and putting it through itself. Is it even possible to do that always? (Ex: something could be called “right” if it does the greatest good to the greatest number) One could empirically verify if the new definition of “right”-ness works in all cases that the old definition worked, but an empirical verification cannot be proof..

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Given this problem (which I find very similar to bootstrapping, by the way), one way out is if there is a global, invariant, non-context-sensitive definition of “right”-ness that we accept as axiomatic. If we build our actions on such an arbitrarily chosen definition (did the society choose it? Is one a sociopath if he does not subscribe to it?), then could things have turned out totally different if a different definition were chosen?

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That’s a lot of questions :) What’s your take on this? How do you decide if something is right? And a final question: is morality also arbitrary then, if the definition of “right”-ness was arbitrary?

karthrags

Posted in Open For Discussion, Questions | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Its here!

“Hey, looks awesome da!” - at the parking lot

“Saar, oru rooba aacha?” – at the petrol bunk

(did it come up to one rupee ie one lakh)

“A: Solid bike da. Solid suspension da

B: Ya, really. Wish I bought this” – overheard at a parking lot

“Mileage 40?” - at a signal

“Dei, unnala idha thooka mudiyuma da?” - innumerable times

(can you lift this?)

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Some reactions to the new bike I bought two weeks back. Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark, Silver grey :)

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The bike’s just brilliant! The ride is extremely comfortable. Counter-intuitively, its very comfortable to ride in stop-and-go traffic as well. I guess its got to do with the bike so well balanced. When I start the bike in first gear, it goes in a straight line, without any wobbles that one finds in other bikes.

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I was really torn between the Thunderbird and the Classic. I just love the retro looks of Classic, but the Thunderbird suited me better and was more comfortable. So went ahead with it. I was bent upon black till I saw the silver. The silver+chrome combination caught my eye and I promptly fell in love :D

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There are some cribs with the bike though. The first one is the lighting. The headlamp is so weak that I need to sometimes stick out my hand to see if the lights are on! Planning on changing the bulb after a while.. The second problem with the bike is the rear-view mirror. Even after being adjusted properly, there is a blind spot, in line with the pillion rider, on either side. In the RVM I see a bike approaching me, but suddenly it disappears, and reappears right next to me in my normal field of vision. Annoying, because you’re occasionally taken by surprise by a bike that seems to suddenly pop out of thin air right next to you. Not planning on changing RVMs anytime soon, though. They look SO good on the bike! Will just have to keep peeking into the RVMs more than usual till I get used to it..

Another buggy thing I noted is that the bike tends to take off in first gear if I release the clutch too fast. Literally. A couple of times it felt as if the front wheel was in the air. I’ve noted such a thing in other bikes, but to a lesser magnitude and certainly lesser frequency.

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Despite these minor niggles, the riding experience is just fantastic! 500 km in two weeks, and inside the city only! Eagerly waiting to take it out on the highway :)

Will post pictures once I take them..

karthrags

P.S. – For those who are curious, no, I cannot lift the bike. Neither can most of the people who ride such heavy bikes. And for your information, nor can you, in all probability, lift an Activa or Scooty. Dumb-bells are for lifting; Bikes are for riding. And yes, I certainly can ride a Thunderbird :P

Posted in General, Opinions | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Are you happy? How?

Hi all,

I guess this is the longest I’ve been away from my blog. Had a deadline, and then was on a book reading binge in December (read once again the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter series and a couple of miscellaneous titles :D ).

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I’ve been pondering about something for quite a while now. No clear answer yet. Thought I’d blog about it and get perspectives.. The title of the post is the question. Are you happy? How?

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I’ve been observing people around me and myself for a while. Some of us are unhappy with the current situation we’re in. Some are happy. The unhappy ones either struggle to change the situation, or just remain unhappy. The ones that manage to change the situation move to the happy guys group. (Why people are unhappy is interesting in many ways, as I found that it tells a lot about that person; its no help for this particular question though)

Looking at the happy ones, I was interested in why they are happy.  Generally, people who are happy seem to be those who are free to do what they want. But not all who are free to do what they want are happy. Why? Is there a causal relationship, or is it a classic example of correlation not implying causality?

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The last one and half years have been great for me. I’m where I  long wanted to be, I am mostly independent, and am having a great time! Surprisingly, though, most of the fun things I did are fading away (no, I do not suffer from some kind of dementia or memory loss :P ). Or rather, they do not seem significant. Have you felt this?

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This leads me to a related question: is lasting happiness a myth? If not, what in a happy experience makes it lasting? I do have many things that happened ages back, but still gives me pleasure to think about. I don’t know if they will continue to do so after some years, but at least they are more “significant” than the rest. Based on them, I have some guesses to the above question, but also have a feeling that they cannot be generalized to all.

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So crops up the question in its final form: in general, what makes people happy? What do you think the answer is? If it is not too personal, can you tell me what makes you happy? Happy not in the momentary or temporary sense, but in a more lasting sense.

karthrags

Update 1:

Was reading about the hedonic treadmill. Seems to be closely related to hedonistic adaptation, which is when the pleasure derived out of some object dims over time. Simply a term for the phrase “getting used to”, I guess. In this context, the question would read as “is there happiness immune to hedonistic adaptation?”

Posted in Open For Discussion, Questions | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

IIM CAT 2009 Experience – The Fiasco

Hi all,

Having written the GRE, GATE, I was curious to see how CAT is. After hearing that CAT is going online this year, was even more intrigued. So my friend Lenson and I registered, for day 1, the morning of 28th – the first day first show :D In short, it was a flop! It was a painful experience overall and left me feeling that a simple, old-school paper-and-pencil test would have been much better than all this high-tech mash-up.

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Act 1 – The Entry

Scene 1 – Approaching The Centre

We were instructed to be at the centre by 830am, with the instructions booklet giving us dire warnings of late-comers not being allowed entry. As we were to find out later, this was just one instance of the general philosophy of rules being applicable only one way, and no accountability from the organizers for ANYTHING. We’d be barred entry if late, but what if the exam’s delayed? Nothing. Anyways, we were there by 815am, and we find a crowd standing outside the campus. Students weren’t allowed inside the campus! At 845am, the powers that be deigned it appropriate that students be permitted to approach withing 500m of the sanctum sanctorium, the exam centre. We were fortunately at the front of the queue, and got in quickly. At the gate, each person was asked to write his name, phone number, address, college and mail id, one by one. Really pitied the guys behind, which was essentially the entire batch.

Scene 2 – Approaching The Hall

Our identities were verified by 2 more people on the way (wonder why.. It was a straight road :| ) and we eventually reached the building. A lady (guess a staff from the college, as volunteer) demanded that we surrender all personal belongings, including wallet, phone, stationery, watches. There was no table or container of any sort to keep the stuff she was going to collect, and there was no receipt/token mechanism to track who’s belongings is which!! We flatly refused, causing another delay while she checked up with her seniors and finally let us through. Immediately after that was another check where another minion demanded to see the bank chellan, of all things! Finally, after quite a few hurdles, we had arrived at the right building, at 9am (we were the first, remember)

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Act 2 – Before the Exam

Scene 1 – The Waiting in Room

We were waiting in the corridor for a while, after which we were asked to wait in another lab. We had fun there, observing how others take and react to pressure :D Some went into a shell, some became agitated and started tapping tables, fidgeted while others became more exuberant. After a while, some people were called, based on their testing room number. Not surprisingly, we had the number that was called last so had to wait the most, for about 30 mins. Finally when called, we had to give our belongings and wait to enter the exam hall.

Scene 2 – The Waiting in Line

The exam was scheduled to begin at 10, which meant we should have been at our seats by 930. Sadly, 930 was when we were in queue to get into the hall. We were thinking then, “aah, at last we’re going to write the exam!”. I get reminded of one of Murphy’s Law when I think of our state of mind then – smile; tomorrow will be worse. How true. We weren’t to know then that the real disaster was yet to happen!

While in line, again, we had a lot of fun commenting on the admins, the college, the exam, the MBA program, the person ahead of us in line, the person behind us in line, each other, ourselves, vaastu, MPLS and network QoS, xkcd and other miscellaneous stuff! By far, we were the MOST talkative pair in the whole batch, without a single silent moment :D soon, others also opened up and we had a whale of a time waiting outside!

Finally, we were allowed to get in, and yet again, we thought “at last!!”, but it was not to be; not quite yet. We were asked to come one by one, and one person went in, while we merrily carried on with our tomfoolery. s time passed, we became increasingly curious so as to what happened to the girl who went in initially. After about 10  mins, the second person was called in. We thought, “at last! The system must’ve had a glitch initially, causing the delay. Now things’ll get a move on”, and we were obviously wrong. It took about 3 mins each for every person, for fingerprints of two index fingers each, and a webcam photo! Talk about inefficiency!! We were itching to speed up the process. Since there was separate hardware for fingerprinting and taking photo, it could’ve been pipelined easily. There were 3 webcams and 3 fingerprint scanners, but only one set was used. Apathy? Incompetence? I wonder..

It was 1015 by the time I was seated, and I was the third person to get in.

Scene 3 – The Waiting for The Exam to Begin

It was announced while we were waiting outside that the exam will begin at 11am due to “technical difficulties”, and we were resigned to the fact that it was going to be a long and dreary wait. I really pity the people who had prepared for a year, doing mock tests, assiduously tracking their performance, dreaming, praying, wishing fervently that they do well in the exam.. My heart really went out to them. So much can be, and was undone by the callous insensitivity of nameless faces for whom every candidate is just a serial number. If only they had thought of each person as a person, maybe they’d’ve done their job with some more seriousness and not made such a mess of it.

I thought dealing with people was part of management. I thought logistics was a part of management. I thought organization was a part of management. I thought 1400 Rs was money enough to get enough hardware. I thought Prometric, being a reputed international organization, will do a good job. I thought since this was conducted by IIMs with the aid of Prometric and NIIT, they will put into practice all they preach. I thought a lot of things. Sadly, the IIMs and Prometric beg to differ. They might be right and I might be wrong; 42 might not be the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. (speaking of 42, it was the address of my centre :D )

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Act 3 – The Exam

Scene 1 – The Waiting for The Exam to Load

After much fuss about my height, orientation of chair and finger pressure on the scanner, I finally get fingerprinted and the mugshot is finally taken (seriously! They kept asking me to move about to get the proper picture instead of simply adjusting the webcam! All instructions I got were “move”; no direction of which side to move. When I tried to adjust by myself by looking at the screen, I was admonished :| )

After this, I was asked to wait for a while while my system was logged in. I noticed then that the girl who went in first (20 mins back) was still waiting! “Uh oh..”. My system logged in soon enough and I was at my desk, watching people struggle with logging in. I was one of the lucky few for whom the system logged in the first time. People had to restart their system multiple times before it logged in, with each restart taking about 10 mins. Lenson had to wait for 40 mins!! Of course, I had to wait through all that because we couldn’t start before everyone was ready (so we were told).

At around 11am, with a few more left to enter the hall and finish biometrics, I suddenly see Lenson freaking out. One of the admins had started his test without informing Lenson, and the timer had started ticking!! He had no scratch paper, no pencil and hadn’t done the tutorial! He lost about 5 mins in the ensuing chaos. I later came to know that his case was not as tragic as the guy next to him, for whom the admin had clicked “I do not agree” to the Non Disclosure Agreement. The test quit, and re-appeared 40 mins later, and the timer had been running all the while!

Scene 2 – The Writing of The Exam

I then decided to start mine as well, and started. I was prompted for yet another verification code (we have 2 codes on the hall ticket, one for logging in, one for accessing the data center and finally yet another!). In keeping with the theme of incompetency and mismanagement, the guy did not type in the value quick enough and it timed out. I had to wait for another 10 mins. Finally I got cracking.

But many others hadn’t. People were chatting, fidgeting and making noise. I soon tuned out and lost myself in the questions. After an hour or so, the noise level increased considerably. I resurface to find out that some people have still not started the exam!! No exaggeration: I heard giggles, chatter, some rhythm being played with pencils on the table, and the most tragic of all things, the admins’ phones ringing repeatedly in loud mode!! An average 10-minute slip test worth 5 marks in school, with no invigilation, had better atmosphere. Wonder how others concentrated..

Scene 3 – The Protest and The Exodus

Soon, arguments broke out at various points in the hall. One guy had to be home ay 5pm, one girl had a train to catch in the evening and so on, while others were writing the exam. Soon the situation degraded into a full-blown protest. A bunch of people were trying to stage a walk-out, and some admins were blocking the doors. They were arguing loudly on whether students could leave or not. That’s when I lost my cool and screamed at the admins to solve the problems of the students, but outside the hall. Thankfully, they complied and the poor bunch exited. Only then did we get a proper exam atmosphere, but only 45 mins was left for me.

After the exam, we wanted to complain to someone from IIM. There was no one representing the organizing body!! We found a guy who was not from IIM or Prometric (a “third party observer”) and put across our problems and left.

To rub salt on the wound, throughout the test, there was a banner on top with a logo  that read “Satisfaction simplified” :|

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Act 4 – The Aftermath

This was all over in the news channels with rumours, statements, interviews, opinions etc. I heard that some IIM statement quoted 200 people to be affected. There was a list of centres affected, and mine was not in the list! Hope its added soon. I suspect that the IIMs are not revealing the exact severity of the situation (my centre was VelTech). The systems booted soon enough, and the problem was at the server side. So assuming 10 students to have been affected on an average, with 30 test cities, assuming an average of 4 centres per city, roughly 1000 students were affected. 200 is nowhere close.

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This is the first time CAT is going online, and yesterday was the first day. I agree that there’ll be teething troubles. But this is way too much. To their credit, the paper was interesting. There was no dumb option; I had to work for eliminating every option. There weren’t any free hits as well. On the whole, good paper marred by very poor organization.

karthrags

Nov 29 Update:

1. Forgot to mention two more mess-ups. The directions to the test centre put up on the website was grossly off the mark! Travelling time to the actual test centre was 1 1/2 hours, while travelling time to the place as directed in the website was about 20 mins.

Yet another mess-up was regarding rough sheets. I was given a sheet nunmbered differently than my computer. When I asked, the guy curtly asked me not to throw a fuss. Five minutes later another admin is shouting at this guy for distributing wrong numbers.  Poor Lenson had already filled a sheet, and refused to hand over his sheet. The number on his sheet had to be changed later.

2. http://www.catiim.in/ has a message all saying tests have been cancelled some centres.
in


Posted in Rants | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

What IITians Have Been Doing

Hi all,

I’m in campus, and suddenly wanted to listen to Garaj Baras by Rahat Fatah Ali Khan and Junoon and went to youtube. This is what I get!

Youtube says

:D

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Oh, well :D I certainly agree with youtube!

(In case you’re not able to read, it says “Sorry for the interruption. We have been receiving a large volume of requests from your network. To continue with your YouTube experience, please enter the verification code below”)

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Here’s the song that I wanted to listen to:

Garaj Baras, part of a Coke Studio episode

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Many episodes of Coke Studio have good music. Worth exploring!

karthrags

Posted in Music, Random | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Whoa! Slow Down!

Hi all,

A post after ages! Quite busy these days, for a change! I took the evening off today and went for a carnatic jam session here. It was amazing! Fifteen people taking turns singing, or singing together; sounded superb! (and no, I didn’t sing :D ). Met some second and third years there, and nothing was odd. Now it hits me – its 4 years since I was a second year guy!!. My brother is in his second year now!! Ya I know, 4 years would have passed in 4 years only, but to me it seems as if I was in second year just a few months back, and bang.

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This set me off thinking of stuff that happened in the last 3 years. A LOT!

The highlight of second year (and a bit of third as well) was friends – sponsorship for college symposium, gang TT at Sujatha’s place, Diablo II for 4 hours a day (Level 87 Necromancer, Level 60 Assassin :D ) and discussing it for a few hours, hanging out for 5 hours at a time at some Barista, roaming the city, hanging out as a gang at a friend’s place, phone chats going for a few hours per day, 100+ messages per day, mischief as a gang in class, punishment as a gang in class, impositions!, golu rounds as a gang!, night-out the day before as a (semi)gang, nicknames for each other, “test driving” each other’s bike,  cricket as a gang, cleaning the college as a gang, gang politics… Gang, gang, gang, friends, friends, friends! Arvind, Cheemu, Krishna, Lavanya, Priya, Sujatha – thanks!

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Third year and beginning of fourth was the beginning of obsessions. First was GRE. For six months, nothing else. Excruciatingly detailed planning, near-perfect execution. Clinically methodical preparation. Obsession. I used to regularly dream of the new words I picked up that day. I could do so much preparation only because I was already passionate about English. I never really got over English after GRE. Still browse online daily for some etymology and flip through the flash cards I prepared.. Of those six months, I don’t remember much else. Flash cards in pocket, browse them in class, while having lunch, while walking, while having coffee, during model exams! and everywhere else.. The result was very very satisfactory. 1560 / 1600 :)

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Immediately after GRE, it was GATE, in fourth year. For 8 months, ONLY CS! And that too, ONLY the subjects I liked in CS. It was heaven .. No syllabus (virtually), no restrictions, just read what you like.. Regular night-outs with Anish, Pawan and PK, which were some of the best times I’ve had. Kitchen adventures, competition to see who kills and collects more mosquitoes, music, creatively comparing PK’s size to various objects (70gsm A4 sheet, for example :D ), applying concepts learnt in irrelevant and relevant real-life scenarios.. A time of intense learning, pressure and fun. Exhilerated at all the  fascinating new things learnt all by ourselves, terrified of the exam looming ahead. Attending mock tests, plotting and tracking performance, devising tools to improve efficiency. Great times.. Then came GATE, and the Big Depression. Severely underperformed in the real exam, and ended up with a score that ruled out direct admissions, but thankfully was on the outer fringe of interview cutoffs (AIR 242). Was in a haze of disillusionment for a couple of months.  I studied so hard and deserved a lot more than this. So why such a bad performance? Intense pain and surprisingly, a sense of loss. Then came the travel phase; a time of attending interviews at different IITs and IISc, and clearing almost all! Aahhh.. the thrill, after depression that too, gave me such a high that it still hasn’t fizzled out! Got to understand and love and relate to the phrase joie de vivre.

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First year of MS was probably the RICHEST year of my life. That deserves a full post, or maybe two.. I might write a few detailed ones when I’m in the nostalgic farewell mood.. Music would be one word that summarizes quite a bit of the last year, though not all. Started listening to carnatic, became obsessed with it, started listening to hindustani, started learning the violin carnatic style, became obsessed with it,  started getting into the theory of music, became obsessed with it, tried out a thousand new things never done before in my life. Also worked a bit for my MS now and then ;)

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And here I am. After the most eventful four years of my life, and thinking that the four years didn’t happen over four years in reality. Days dragged, but years flew.. Probably the very fact that it was so eventful is the reason it seems so recent.

BTech seems to have been a kind of checkpoint for me. The kind of point/event which tempts you to do a before/after comparison. A defining phase. My schooling was in no way uneventful, what with me changing three schools in 12 years. But that period pales in comparison to this phase of great development and change. Even though it was 4 years ago, I still remember the assignments I wrote, the exams that copied, all my wanglings and finaglings and fights. Incredibly detailed memories..

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Is this the case with everybody? Seems so. But why?

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I’m on the threshold of another major phase. My MS completion is in sight, but everything beyond is extremely nebulous. Exciting! Of the 18 or so years that I remember being, I liked being the 19 year old, second year college karthrags the best. I would have been mentally 12 years old then, and I’ve not grown up much since then :D

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Are you wondering about the point of this post? Nothing! Its just a bunch of semi-connected thoughts running in my head.. What about you?  BTech a defining phase for you as well??

karthrags

Posted in Random, Reminiscences | 10 Comments