The Purpose of Exams

We thrive on exams- educational institutes, I mean, and the profs. in them. But what exactly is an exam, why was it invented, and does it serve its purpose?

Yes, and No.

If it makes people think-before, during and after the event, it is a good thing, in my view. If it doesn't, not serving its purpose. just like education.

Maybe with smaller classes, one can explore different types of exams. Oral, for instance. With large classes which are a norm even in institutions that can afford to have smaller ones, your options are limited. But creativity can probably be used here as well, to make it a more meaningful experience.

I have of course, found brilliant students through exams. But I have also found them by other means. So exams might not be the only way to grade the student. Application, which takes time to show up sometimes, could be another.

Entrance exams are another kind. They largely want to filter out a large populace, and so concentrate on that purpose, rather than being a g…

Circumnavigating the U.S.- Part 2

This was our road trip no. 2 of its kind in the U.S. This involved touching places such as New York and Ohio (where a cousin each resided), and then Chicago, Detroit, across to South Dakota and Wyoming. Of course, Mount Rushmore was the major attraction in South Dakota. And the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The joy of actually watching The OLD FAITHFUL, a geyser that shoots water and steam at regular intervals, and soaking in the wild scenic beauty of the place, was worth the very long drive, which we did with my parents who were visiting from India.

We rounded it off with a visit to Los Angeles and Las Vegas before heading back to South Carolina where we started. Great memories, and a reason why I never really visited the US after I got back- I felt I had seen it all.
 Yellowstone Park (above) and Red Canyon, Arizona, below.

Intro to an Introvert

How do introverts behave when introduced to a new person?

I think they would try their best to avoid being in a situation where they meet new people. But if it is a must, and unavoidable, they will mostly listen, and not talk about themselves (or much else) till they get comfortable with another new person.

But this does not mean that an introvert does not have anything to talk about. He is just not used to talking about it as much as an extrovert might be. I have had conversations with self-confessed introverts that were very, very interesting- sometimes longer than those with extroverts.

So make the introvert feel comfortable, and they will open up. May require more patience than you normally have. If you have an introvert as a friend, you may not even notice that they are one. Maybe, just maybe, social media are one place where an introvert gets an equal opportunity to be social.

Circumnavigating the U.S.

Actually it was a road trip, that we first undertook in 1986 as students, and went across the U.S. from the East Coast to the West and back. On the way, we stayed with friends in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and San Antonio, Texas.

Some places on the way that were significant, were the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. This (Petrified Forest) has logs of wood that have turned into multicoloured stone logs due to embedded minerals. Later, I discovered similar petrified logs in India in Mandu, near Indore (in a badly maintained park). Here is a pic from Mandu.

There was also a meteorite crater in Arizona that we went to. After a visit to the Lonar crater lake in Buldana district many years later., I realised this (Lonar) was more impressive. In Los Angeles, we went to Disneyland, Universal Studios, and NBC studios where The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was shot every day of the week. Also saw Hollywood (nothing much to see), Beverly Hills where the stars …

Thinking- a Lost Art?

We had a lot of time on our hands in my years of growing up. We probably had a lot of physical activity too, but this post is about the time we spent thinking about things, when we were not playing, studying, or watching movies-in theatres.
One of our think-tanks in engineering college, Osmania University. 1977-82.

I am not sure what we thought about-maybe what we would do as a grownup, whether we even wanted to grow up (I think we did, as the grass appeared greener on that side then). Maybe about doing wonderful things like flying (my first flight was at age 23), travelling to a different country or countries (that happened on my Ph.D. cum sightseeing trip at age 26).

Most likely, thoughts also included finding the love of your life (maybe not, maybe you thought you had already found her/him with every new crush), owning your own car and going on an adventure (it IS an adventure, come to think of it, on our city roads), owning a Badminton court so you could play without interruptio…

Understanding and Enjoyment

Someone said long ago that Ignorance was Bliss. I would tend to put it a bit differently. You don't need to understand something in order to enjoy it. I don't understand classical music, as I don't know one Raga from another (pun intended). But that does not stop me from enjoying all of them (THAT one included).

This moment of understanding came from a recent outing - one to a friend's place where some authentic Punjabi food (no puns here) was offered and partaken. Rajma, Chawal, Phulka, sabzee and raita, can make a delicious meal, was the takeaway (no, the meal was not a takeaway kind).

Then, there is this place called Bong Adda in Belapur, which we visited for a meal. I don't understand Bong food, but I enjoy it, was the takeaway from here. Mostly, it was mutton. But there was the mandatory rasogulla (made with jaggery instead of sugar) and mishti doi (sweet yogurt/curd) to round it off.

Reminds me of a sign that I saw recently at a shop selling fish- Bengali Fi…

Aadhaar Card

The Supreme Court had to intervene to postpone (at least for now) the deadline for linking the Aadhaar card to several things.

There are several problems with making something mandatory for availing something as basic as a mobile phone connection. In today's world, it is almost akin to a right to have a mobile phone, if you wish to be connected with the world. Most (actually all) existing connections already were verified at the residence of the subscriber while giving it to you. So asking for a mandatory link to Aadhaar makes little sense. Old people or some other segments may see it as a harassment. Other options like passport etc. should be provided, if at all a further ID is required.

Except for one or two things -maybe providing one while filing returns- there are many other ways to find out the identity of a person. Biometric ID is not foolproof, as the introduction of Iris scans proves.

More research on the downside with different segments is needed, and a guarantee of no …