Friday, August 28, 2015

Where are you my Mr. Confidence?!

I want to say "I'm great, thanks!" every time anybody greets me or asks me either seriously or casually without meaning much, as is the case most often. But I can't say it cause doing so makes me feel guilty of not being truthful, although they won't know my reality or even care to know. So, "Hmm, I'm OK!" is normally my response.

I know I am not doing great. Nothing is going as good as I wanted. Not that I have too many wants or too big of wants. Even the simpler wants don't seem to be falling into my way. The situation worsens by the each passing day as I helplessly gaze myself spiralling into the deepest level of hopelessness. Seeing me in such a bad shape, some of my mates would out of deep concern ask me "where is the positivity that you used to always exude?" My guess is just as good as theirs.

That feeling of hopelessness creeps in every now and then, almost paralysing my academic pursuit forward. It is so frustrating but in the truest of sense there is not much of way-out options from this bad situation than fighting till the last breath. I have been looking for an answer in the form of inspirations and motivation from external sources which have been largely successful but now it remains for me to really refocus, if possible reinvent and relaunch from this bad port to a higher, perhaps a better place. I need to really regain my confidence and self-esteem which I have been running on low for quite a while now.

But I have not been able to figure how to do so far. The remedies that I have been trying to put up have yet to yield positive result. All the while I came to realise that the situation can either make you or break you. Its the way how you handle it that matters the most. Sometimes, I feel it isn't always the case that the "Tough situation makes strong person". But there is always a hope in everything, and that a solution exists to every problem. Just that it may not be so trivial to figure it out yet,  that much I have learnt from being a struggling yet passionate practicing mathematician!

Hope good wishes and prayers are on my way from the beloved readers.

Happy Day. :)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

“The Imitation Game” --The Power of Mathematics

That was it; my brain wouldn’t register anything anymore, thanks to the terrible insomnia I suffered the night before. With terrible headache and blinding dizziness, the last place I wanted to be in was at the monotonous three-hour each English and computing classes! Yeah, you know what I meant? Elementary and obvious stuff-word document, excel, power point etc. All I wanted was to just go home and launch straight into the bed, so badly. But I couldn’t. My friends had a plan-the plan to go watch movie. “Come on, you should come, it will be fun”, says everyone, almost dragging me on.

Yeah, why not, being a nice (obedient? :) ) friend that I am, I hopped into the Bus to the Randwick city. My friends are a good mix of Cambodian, Nepalese, Bangladeshi, Mongolian, Indonesian and Fijian. The good thing about our group is that there is only one from each country, meaning we don’t have to deal with people conversing in their own language. The only complain if I may call is the disagreement that we encounter every time we decide to choose the restaurant-some needs Halal, some hate seafood while some love, some don’t eat pork and beef while some eat eggs but not chicken (that’s me!). If one is really hungry, this is not a group to be in in the very first place!
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing 
Source: Google

After a few minutes of manoeuvring, we arrived at the Ritz Cinema. “The Imitation Game” was the movie they had chosen and even managed to buy the tickets the day before. Yeah, for all of us! I had not a clue of what it was about. All I cared was that it was not an animation movie! Just in case I informed my friends that I might fall asleep in between and made sure they don’t leave me alone in the theatre long after they are gone! But little did I know that the movie that was up would enter into my list of best movies based on true story. The 114 minutes movie is based on the true story about the World War II which features Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing who was an English Mathematician known for his high intelligence from a very young age, recognized by the teachers but not respected! :(  His expertise in cryptography takes him from Cambridge University to the newly created British’s Intelligence Agency MI6, where he was tasked to crack Nazi codes, Enigma - which cryptanalysts had thought unbreakable. Turing's team, including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), analyses Enigma messages while he builds a machine to decipher them. As expected his journey isn’t a smooth sail. It is quite saddening and frustrating to see how bureaucracy blocks his way, but Turing and team finally succeed and become heroes. As per the endnotes, his invention of the machine which he named Christopher in memory of his childhood friend had helped shorten the war by 2 years and saved millions of lives.

So, see, this is an intense mathematics being put into real practice! Now, I have an answer to people who wanted to know why crazy people like me ‘love’ mathematics and devotes life and time in learning the subject. A friend of mine recently asked me, “What is there in mathematics which needs more in-depth study on?” Another friend nods in agreement with her. I tried convincing her that if everybody thinks like her and not take effort to learn mathematics, then there will be a time (not too far) with not a single mathematics teacher. They don’t seem to be convinced going by their plain expression. “What is there? Even engineers can teach mathematics,” comes out the response almost instantly. Well, apart from feeling little pity about the lack of understanding of the applicability and multi-disciplinary nature of the mathematics, I couldn’t debate head on. I retrieved myself feeling defeated after this, “Yeah Engineers can teach, tell this or that happens, apply that formula, BUT won’t be able to say WHY this or that happens!” There are more to mathematics than the mere numbers and formulas which normal people think it to be! But I think the part of the problems lie with the mathematics teachers ourselves for failing to communicate and teach the applications part to our students. As a result of which our students become engineers, teachers, officers with no gratitude for mathematics and its enormous ability to solve world problems like-Enigma! Mathematics is after all far more than being ‘boring and tough’ subject. 

In doubt? Go watch “The Imitation Game”! :) I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!

Alan Turing!

Source: Google

P.S. However, despite all those historic discoveries and contributions to the humanity, this quiet genius (Alan Turing) met a disgrace after the authorities revealed he was gay and forced to take hormones. He committed suicide in 1954. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

But WHY? Why and why?

I've been scanned, literally, through to a lot of 'whys' and still I've yet to be over with 'why'. Almost everybody that I bump into there I get that anticipated ‘why’ flying rather instantly. My friends normally dub me mostly affectionately than matter-of-factly as a positive person, but I am quite doubtful as to how long I can stay positive if these ‘whys’ keep flowing! I don't blame anybody else for that matter since throwing those sorts of question keep me checked! But some times it gets tiring to hear over and over again to the extent that it begins to even sound offensive! Nevertheless, as the time passes by I bounce back to normal. Good thing about all these is that it gave me and continues to give me opportunity to reflect upon my course of actions hence leading to a newer and more importantly better perspective.

It was in year 2007 that I got an opportunity to study mathematics in the United States under the auspices of Fulbright scholarship. Why mathematics? You'll be a teacher upon returning know that? I didn’t meet a single person appreciating my choice of subject! All right, whatever, I followed my intuition and four years later I came back with the degree. Soon after, I applied, sat for the interview and was luckily selected, barely, for an assistant lecturer post at Sherubtse College. Why Sherubtse? It's very remote, why not CST or Gedu? Yeah, all right, whatever! A few months already into the job and I was kind of getting the hang of it! Why aren't you married yet? Why don’t you have a girl friend? Car? Blah blah, yeah, all right whatever! A semester later, I was sent off to Samtse to undergo PGDE for a year. I feel extremely lucky to have got chance to learn new things about education and pedagogies. And there comes another cohort of whys- why are you doing this, wasting time and money? You don't need this in university teaching. Nine months passed by with lots of fun, at least got a year to experience Bhutanese college life! Back to the college, now with full load-two modules for a beginner! Ah ha? Then another set pops up: why are you not going for masters? Why wait for third countries? Waste of time by waiting! Blah, yeah you are damn right! A year later, I got called for the interview and subsequently nominated for the Australian Awards intake 2015! Why don't you take dependents? Why not take your girl friend? Why not marry now? As if marrying is as easy as they think! Why don't you make fake MC and take someone with you? Why to Sydney? Go to Perth! Aha? Why to UNSW? It's a tough university! Why mathematics again? Take Statistics! 

Thank lord, I survived all those years and even become resistant to all sorts of questions. But one thing I couldn't do was giving an answer to any of the questions. Hope one day I can be able to do to all.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Bad Feeling! - Part III

My only hope was on the hot stream to do the job of ‘cooking’ the rice while we make our way to the monastery. Other was, of course, a miracle to happen! I believed in god. I cursed myself so much that I hesitated to even join the team. I didn’t know what or how to confess the truth. Through the phone, I hinted them the worst but it was for them to unearth the hint. Nevertheless, it was not going to fix the problem. When I reached the spot where my friends were believed to be waiting, I could barely breathe. I am so particular about time and I become impatient when people fail to stick to time. Today though, I felt like a hypocrite. When I saw madam Karma, I didn’t know what to say as she sounded lil mad while calling. But to my surprise, she was the only one waiting there. Upon enquiry, it seemed like others were still on the bed. We waited there for next 30 minutes or so. That time, I frowned at Karma saying that if she didn’t call me to hurry up, I could have even cooked new rice. She hasn’t expected it to be worse. Sensing worse from my tone, she reached out to the bag where the rice cooker was and pulled the lid open. She didn’t overact (good on her), but I could figure out from her expression that she saw the worst. She plainly remarked, “It looks fine, may be water wasn’t enough?” Soon everybody came and we set off for Barshong. I could make out from their looks that they had a rough night, yet they were pumped up for the eventful day. But I was in a deep pain of worry. I felt really terrible and ashamed. Till then Karma was the only one who knew the condition of food, but I knew rest would eventually see and the worst, might have to come back empty-stomach. The fact that another friend madam Kezang had brought rice comforted me but it didn’t justify me to be happy while failing on my task. They were talking, laughing and enjoying the moments, but I was with those thoughts of spoiled rice. How will they react, how will we eat, how will they think of me hereafter, will they laugh on it, or rather angry on it, those were the thoughts that haunted me throughout. I have never felt this bad in a long time!

As eventual moments are bound by time, the lunch time came and they had already taken the food to a nice place by the stupa overlooking the Barshong village. By the time Tshewang and I reached on the place, some of them had already started serving themselves. I was so ashamed and beaten up by the thoughts. Nobody seems to dig in from my rice cooker, and that was clear enough an indication. Not knowing how to tell or rather what to tell I took out my camera and clicked on each one of them. I was the last one to serve. I thought I was the one who has created that mess, so if there is anyone to clear up the mess, it would be only me! I picked a plate and a spoon and dug out the half cooked rice, plateful and helped myself. I didn’t add pressure on the rice brought by Kezang as it was barely enough for them. That was why I had decided to serve myself at last. While everybody was helping themselves, I struggled to find a tiniest of ‘place’ to hide my face J. What a shame! I would never forget in a long time. Thankfully, though, nobody, except for one, remarked anything on the spoiled food, at least directly. Rather they quietly had the food as if nothing was wrong. Since nobody was willing to remark on it and that I knew too well that nobody had failed to notice that, after much hardship I finally apologized for the food. I begged their forgiveness over and again. Thankfully, they were kind enough to say that it was cooked fine and that there was not a point to worry about. I knew it was just a word of comfort and hardly meant it. Despite all these havocs, the session was finally over. At least everybody knew the truth and saw the worst, so I sought solace in those light breeze kept blowing from the valley below. I promised and assured them that I would not repeat such ‘offense’ in future. I promised that I would cook from evening itself if such a situation ever arises in future. Sumjay sir, a senior most colleague in our group made a point for future direction; he suggested that if such events are to be planned in future, the information will have to be floated well in advance so that everybody would be able to come on time and that nobody have to put up with the half-cooked rice. Everybody agreed in unison and we set back to our respective destination.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Bad Feeling! Part-II

Therefore, the day at such a heavenly place is a dream of many. I had dreamt for a few years, and thanks to the initiatives of my friends, I could finally be there. I had every reason to be happy and ecstatic about the day and the eventual destination. But I was not! I was disturbed by a thought, which I never intended to think but had to. Every single minute was a mental torture for me! I looked around to see my friends having best of their times, which I totally envied. I wished to be in their shoes but I knew I couldn’t. I was a severely disturbed lad on the block of hundreds of devotees. Hands firmly clasped into a form of lotus flower, I tried visualizing Buddha and Guru Rinpoche in an effort to drive away those bothering thoughts. Although I was surrounded by hundreds of people, I felt so lonely. If it wasn’t for my camera, I would have felt even lonelier; it was the camera that gave me the best of companion on that day. Not that my friends ignored me, I know they would never do that to me, but I felt disconnected myself. I clicked and clicked catching best of their poses. Occasionally, I popped inside the frame and faked a smile. The natural smile, which I wanted to bring it over, didn’t materialize. As the Rinpoche graciously administered the Phupai Wang, I tried visualizing a phurba-spiritual dragger-as instructed. Those were the only moments I was freed of the disturbing thoughts. For a moment, I was lost in a captivation of artistic brilliance that giant and tall pillars wore in the prayer hall. I felt a deep pang of shiver and goose bumps upon seeing the gigantic Statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Karmapa. While being lost in such thoughts, the Rinpoche had already wrapped up the wang and monks and people alike were queuing towards him to get blessed. As we snaked (or perhaps snail-ed) towards the Rinpoche I scanned around and in return got amazed by every bit of artistic richness of the hall. But all these amazing moments and time came to an abrupt halt by the announcement made by a senior Monk on a microphone. He didn’t offend me, though. In fact, he was making an announcement for the devotees gathered to have lunch at the monastery which was been arranged and sponsored by someone. It was the mention of the ‘food’ that brought me a great tremor. By the each passing minute and by the passage of each moment gearing toward the lunchtime, my heart raced and my adrenaline rose. 

Well, what is with the food that made me so worried about? Okay, this is what actually happened. Earlier, I was tasked to prepare rice while rest of them prepared curry. I agreed and I didn’t foresee anything going wrong with that, particularly so because now rice cooker does the job! Right? Wrong! I had also caught up the World Cup 2014 fever and its inaugural match between home nation Brazil and Croatia was already on air. So, I would be a jerk to not stay up late, right? Wrong! I stationed comfortably in front of the TV and got lost completely in the frenzy of the opening match. By the time I realized it was already 3 AM. That means, I had barely 3 hours to sleep, that too assuming that my tenant/immediate neighbors lower their TV volume and their noise. 9:30 AM was the time set by my friends.

Around 7 AM, my roommate Karma who was leaving for Delhi on the same day was already wide awake. Else he would miss the bus. Since we weren’t going to meet until next semester, I wanted to bide goodbye and see him off. I quickly shook off the sleep and accompanied him to the road point. It was then 8:30 AM, the time at which the bus normally reaches Kanglung. We waited there patiently but as if it was to mess my day up, the bus roared came only at 9 AM! I felt restless because I had yet to cook rice. On an average it takes good 30 minutes or so for rice to be fully cooked and be ready to serve, so, I barely had enough time. I began to really worry, now. I rushed back, kicked open the door and quickly stuffed in 8 cups of rice and kept it on a cook. I was racing against the fleeing time. I murmured prayers and entrusted the rice cooker fully for the task. Fingers crossed. While it was carrying the last minute task, I watched the recap of the inaugural match that handed fan favorite Team Brazil a commending win despite the shaky start conceding its own goal! I almost fainted when my phone ranged. Not a wrong number nor a misdial. It was my friend, yes, calling me to come faster as ‘everybody’ was waiting for me. I nearly broke down then and there. Thankfully, the light on the cooker has shifted from cook to warm. Lil relief, I opened the lid only to be greeted by barely-cooked rice. It looked like they were all angry and yelling at me. I froze, literally. Not knowing what to do next, I put another 5 cups of rice into a pressure cooker thinking that it might not take much time. While it was yet to make a first whistle, I dressed up and made sure camera was working fine. I thought it was the first whistle, so I kept it on till the second whistle to blow. But little did I know that I was waiting for yet another disaster. Since it was not whistling, I gave a quick tap on the handle and instantly it whistled and off came gushing the smell of burnt rice, filled the entire room within no time. Excellent! This was exactly what I wanted to not happen!!!! This was even more worst the uncooked rice, so I tugged in the uncooked rice along with the container to a bag and hurried up to the place where my friends were supposedly thought to be waiting. be cont'd