6: Time for a change

It’s been a month now since the semester is over, but when you are sitting in California, and visiting amazing places on weekends, writing blog posts isn’t the highest priority :) But the 6th semester deserves 10 blog posts and atleast one is mandated.

6 not only had a personal highs, but in general wrought a lot of changes. I’ve begun taking a lot of pictures this semester. I always thought it was stupid of people to shoot images like crazy, but it turns out that photos are a very good way to trigger memories about past events. I also started scribbling down little notes about memorable days. Not only are they a great resource when writing posts a few months later, but you can capture your state of mind at that point which is impossible later. This is an outcome of the approach to the end of the college and seeing the emotional situation of the seniors during their final semester.

I’ve been torn between making this post a chronicle of events or focusing on deeper things, which I don’t write very well about. Apologies to the two friends whom I chided on not writing good enough entries. It is hard work :P.

Even semesters usually start with Synapse, and boy was this year’s Synapse blazing. The only reason this paragraph exists is so I could use the word blazing. But Synapse does not fit where this note is going, although it served as the beginning for many of the things that happened.

Life this semester was like American television shows, one larger story arc with lots of action in between :) That arc is of course trying for internships on two sides of the world. On the 22nd of March when Mozilla hired me past midnight – that was an EPIC moment! Living in Silicon Valley, working on Firefox and getting paid for it is a dream I never even considered, and it all became true in two hurried months of interviews with the nicest people, and visa procedures that make you an expert in filling up forms. I guess, now that I’m hired, I can reveal two interview gaffes I made. One of my interviews was during conf.kde.in when I was in Bangalore, with my Ahmedabad phone number. This meant I was on roaming. I conveniently forgot about the charges it entailed and was surprised when the call dropped half way through discussing hash tables. The second ‘disaster’ was on the final interview. Due to some time-zone blunder I was woken up by the interviewer and proceeded to give the interview in a most uncomfortable manner. That I still got the job seems like a bit of a shock now. (Note: Do not let the interviewer in on the fact that you’ve just woken up. Continue asking questions about the company until you are awake enough to deal with the technical parts.)

Most of my college life has been an attempt at improving some or the other part of my personality. Being more impulsive has been at the top of that list. I used to be too much of a planner with an inbuilt cron daemon and all that, and if you continue with that you can miss a lot of the fun parts of college life. With the switch I’ve lost a lot of sleep, but it was well worth it. The outcome – memorable all-nighters which had nothing to do with studying, going to a movie the day before the exam because it was a three day international film festival and spending a lot more time away from the computer. I now think this is also an attempt to break down every stereotype associated with me in college, and since the t-shirt incident last year, I’ve been performing brilliantly at it :)

As if determined to give me more reasons to be impulsive, India put on a massive World Cup win! I don’t really like cricket, but the crazy atmosphere in college, the constant cheering and the euphoria when the cup was won, was absolutely remarkable, and I think the Nikhil of yester-year would not have attended the matches.

The other change has been to experience as many things as possible, which means eating in new places, travelling around, attending just about everything I could. This has been at the cost of certain responsibilities, which might be seen as bad by others (ie. not holding enough OSID sessions) but I’ve finally decided that it is more important for me to be personally satisfied with what I am doing than to conform (again) to those stereotypes that the old Nikhil has built up.

I do not mean that I want to shirk my achievements. It feels good to know that you’ve set certain examples that others follow and to be a guide when jumping into the difficult world of FOSS development. This year, over 8 students were selected for Google Summer of Code from DA-IICT, and to know that me, Aditya and Dinesh had a part to play in it felt really good.

While I was having fun, the KDE India community ticked off its dream of having a conference here. conf.kde.in was a very special occasion because it was the first time the KDE community had a India conference. Pradeepto and Shantanu and others in Bangalore put in a ton of effort , and the eV provided full support, which led to a wonderful conference with well known KDE speakers and some great food :) The response was tremendous and some of the effects are already visible with the number of Summer of Code and other contributors who were conference attendees. My own contributions have been at an all time low and it seems it will be that way into the summer, but the motivation has not dwindled only due to the wonderful people.

Academically this semester was a personal disaster. I had really easy courses for the most part, but I did not like the amount of effort I put in. The parts which I thoroughly enjoyed, I did really well, but for the most part I was a pig-headed ass, and that has to change. I did get a 9.4/10 overall though :)

The software engineering course was Shakespeare all over again. I feared it, then I mocked it, then I rebelled against it, then I just mis-quoted it in desperation :), and in hindsight I respect it. It was a hard lesson in managing a team, getting work done and staying with one piece of software for four long months and polishing it. It proved to me that the hacker style of coding is not enough on its own to produce good software.

Finally, in my ‘thoughts document’ (see SEN ke side effects!) that I mentioned at the beginning, there are certain names of people that have affected or inspired me in college. While writing this I’ve been deliberating on whether now is a good time. It’s not, but two groups of students do deserve a special mention:

  • The Press Club – We’ve had an excellent year with readership through the roof and high-quality articles. The batch of 2007 has been the principal force in rejuvenating the magazine and the main source of the more argumentative and well analyzed articles. At the same time you’ve been humble mentors and this is getting really fluffy so thanks a lot is all I’ve got to say.

  • Special Ops – Ah, what to put here about the weirdest bunch of juniors and some batchmates, some of whom I got to know only this semester? Thanks for letting me enjoy the World Cup, listening patiently to my PJs, playing TT, and not treating me like a senior. Now just stop calling me bhaiya and we are cool. Also remember, you are all 10 pointers :)

There are other people, but I don’t want to embarass them and they don’t come under any group :P You know who you are.

If you’ve made it till here and know me, you may be surprised at how this post has played out, considering I’m the un-emotional, hug-less boy. Do NOT raise this slew of changes in a face-to-face discussion with me (especially you Mama and Baba :)), in some things I’m still closed source.

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