March 29, 2005

Twice, yeah...Coincidence, naah...

This is one for those of you who have been parched for life after the gutless performance of our dearest men in blue (though this time they were donning white flannels) against the men in green from across the border.

Once, they say, is an incident. Twice, coincidence. So the saying goes, thrice is a conspiracy. Say this to our friend R. Poor guy, his place (Delhi) has of late been in the news for all the wrong reasons. OK...incident, I agree. But what if both the times the places in news have something or the other to do with R? I mean both the DPS-MMS scandal last year, and this one at IIT-Delhi!!! For those uninitiated, here is a refresher regarding the DPS scandal.

And yeah, I forgot to mention something. DPS@RK-Puram, the site of the scandal, was the alma mater of R. And IIT-Delhi is where his brother studies. Now, that is something I would just not dismiss as a coincidence (though it has been two out of two times now). May be a conspiracy? Wait until the next episode unfurls, where else, but at DCE (Delhi College of Engineering)??? (That's where R had his Engineering degree from!!!)

March 27, 2005

Sticky when hot

For quite some time now, we had known summer was back. But the reality struck hard on our faces when this happened. We were having our routine coffee break (the only peculiar fact being that we usually work between breaks rather than the other way round!!!) When our friend 'G' lifted the coffee-pan off the heat-pad, something more than just the pan came off alongwith.
Too hot to handle???And hey here we go!!!

Seems that the pad got quite worked up, and couldn't stand the heat. Quite surprising, coz we had been using it day in and day out with hotter stuff (I mean the temperature here, guys). May be the summer caught up with the poor pad. Thought summers were sticky only in India. Surely not in Germany, though!!!

March 26, 2005

NEW - XML Live Feed and Headline Animator

Was just playing around with the design of the site, and came up with some the Headline Animator and XML/RSS Live Feed for the site (feel free to fool around with these features on the right sidebar).

Quite a useful feature this Animator thing, available from FeedBurner, which also provides the XML Feed. One can use it to publicise his/her blogs, by appending an animated GIF picture as signature to his email or website. There are other interesting features too available from the site. Also got a XML/RSS reader - FeedDemon from the same site. Pretty cool and useful this one.

Also changed some settings for the site like replacing my ascetic-looking good-boyish pic with a casual one (this one was taken during a boat-ride at Luzern, Switzerland in August 2003). Hmmm...let me get my Thesis over with, and then I can devote more time to such stuff!!!

And by the way thanx a lot to Mr. M. for his comments and sincere wishes, for the completion of my Thesis..he joins the legion of my well-wishers who have so far been kept at bay regarding my lengthy sojourn!!!

More soon...Happy blogging and XMS Live feeding (??!!!)

March 24, 2005

A Damning Revelation - Part 1: IITs blacklisted?

I was quite shocked when I read this newspiece on Rediff. com. It was regarding upgrading the status of some institutions in India to the status of IITs. Shocking I said, because a few of these institutions have in fact been blacklisted by many German and US universities. I am not entitled to talk of the US situation, but here in Germany, a few Indian institutions have in the past gained quite a dubious reputation of being the source of fake certificates and other scandals. Some colleges from the Hyderabad region have been the source of such fakies. Name what you want, you will get that certificate, be it a simple Software Skills certificate, or a German G-3 certificate, to the most advanced degree certificate or a GRE / TOEFL scoresheet. (It is worth noting here that even now some German Universities do not press for the official GRE/TOEFL scoresheet posted directly from the ETS).

Moreover, quite a few other universities in India have been marked for sidelining, as the standard in these universities has plummetted to unfathomable depths. Take for instance the scoring system in some institutions. When I came here in September 2001, having obtained a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from the University of Madras, it was not so difficult for a student to obtain 80% marks for his / her final average. The corresponding benchmark at some other universities, like the Bombay / Pune University, was a mere 60% where this used to be invariably always the score a university-topper. When the German Universities set a benchmark for admitting students, many deserving candidates from such universities used to lose out to other not-so-deserving ones from some other universities, just because the standard in these universities was so high that the selected candidate's credentials were no match to the one who lost out.

On realizing this, a few universities, notably the TU Darmstadt, started adopting a scaling procedure, wherein they had a list of GPA's from different Indian Universities, thus gaining insight into their standards, which they promptly adopted as one of their criteria for selection. More importantly, they have started recommending GATE scores as a criterion, among other things. Please check the link to know more in this regard.

Well, the crux of the issue is that many institutions recommended for upgradation to the status of IITs are simply not worth consideration, as they have already gained a bad reputation here abroad, in addition to defacing the value of India as a whole, as one of the parameters that any foreign education institution uses in estimating our country is the standard of our own educational institutions.

March 23, 2005

News from Darmstadt

Just got this teaser from Murali and Vidhya when I was at their place yesterday. Why not start a separate blog just for the news from the region - the current goings-on, who is meeting who, background politics, interesting events, upcoming events / functions, useful piece of info. for every one, etc. The site / blog would be updated very often to keep pace with the 'developments' at Darmstadt, Dieburg and Frankfurt. It will cater to all, but especially to students and those interested in this region.

An important fact about this blog is that it would contain only news and not views. It would serve as a reference page for any one interested in just catching up with what's on and what's not here at Darmstadt and its neighbourhood.

Inputs are welcome from everyone who has a piece of info. or news to share with others. You may update it yourself, or can e-mail it to me (just shoot the gun on the right side-bar) so I can put it on the page.

You may locate the blog at Enjoy...and blog it up!!! Cheers.

March 18, 2005

Proud to be a Dieburger

Hmm...every one at Haus 5 is excited about the notice from Studentenwerk Darmstadt, which announces the closure of the Haus 5 by the end of the semester (October 1). Did I say every one? Well, not exactly. There are a few who aren't. And there are quite some, like yours truly, who are feeling downright depressed!!! Yeah, you will never know what it feels like leaving this place that has been my home for the best part of 4 years now. I pride in calling myself a Dieburger. It has been the butt of many a joke over the past years, but believe me man..I have been one of the very few people who liked staying at this god-forsaken place in the middle of nowhere. Or should I say at the end of everywhere? There is a joke going round here...Dieburg begins where sanity ends!!! And not without some truth...

It is tradition (if I may use the term) for people to use Dieburg as a temporary stop, a way-side motel where one stays till he gets a 'proper' accommodation in a more civilized place like Darmstadt or Frankfurt. Or should I say it was? No one save me dared to stay for long in this place, let alone love it. I may sound stupid, but I have never known how it is like to live at another place. May be that is the precise reason why I love Dieburg.

Time and again over the past 4 years I have been advised, both in friendly and not-so-warm tones, to get the hell out of this place, for various reasons. Like for example saving time travelling in buses and trains, walking a long way to the Bahnhof or bus-stop, etc. to name just a few. But I took these things as just a part of life. I am one who thinks that life must be dealt with in its real form - with all its inherent and unavoidable trifles. I bet there are many who would not agree with me - that is the part concerning my belief. I may not have stayed true to my belief in other things, but concerning Dieburg, I have held steadfast to the belief that I must learn to enjoy the minor troubles that complement my stay at Dieburg. Yes I mean it when I say complement, because those discomforts consummate my life, and it is this very fact that has added spice to my life here as a student in a foreign land, in a totally different culture, a strange language, sombre people, and the like. It has helped me face life in its entirety, helped me with improving my German, whatwith all those converstaions I used to have with old ladies and gentlemen walking their dogs on the roads who seemed only too eager to engage me in a conversation but were unable to speak much English. With a little German from my side and even lesser English from their side, I have conversed with such people many a time, some times the 'conversations' extending as long as half-an-hour or so on otherwise-deserted roads.

These are but a few of the valuable things that I have gained as a result of my stay in Dieburg. Sure I agree that I may have gained some other things, however different they may be, if I had moved to Darmstadt, but I still feel that my decision to hold on to Dieburg come what may, has been a fruitful one. I have faced the ups and downs of my German stay with a common denominator - Dieburg. The best of my times I have enjoyed at Dieburg. The worst of my times I have reminisced alone at Dieburg. Dieburg remains the place that holds many a secret about me, good or bad it might be. Be it my Altheimer Strasse room (# 34016) or my Max-Planck-Strasse room (# 5524), I would give anything to hold on to Dieburg, if I have the slightest of chances.

Many things - good and bad - have happened during my stay here. Friends made and lost. The four seasons enjoyed to their fullest four times over. But behind all this din lies the eternal hum of the one place on earth that I would pride calling my home away from home - Dieburg. As the saying goes:

Kennedy (1963): Ich bin ein Berliner.
Bhuvan (2005): Ich bin ein Dieburger.

Times change. Personalities change. The pride remains the same. PROUD TO BE A DIEBURGER !!!

March 15, 2005

Cause for concern?

This is with reference to some worrying cases of wrong diagnosis of some students by the doctors at Darmstadt. Although these have been isolated incidents, few and far between, it does provide us with some cause for concern. There is of course no reason to panic, but I thought it better to bring it to the notice of those concerned, as well as those of you who may be using the services of a doctor here at Darmstadt.

About two years back, a student complained of problems in his chest, and consulted a doctor. After a week of tests and check-ups, the doctor was not able to diagnose the exact problem. The student was referred to the Klinikum Darmstadt, but here again they just performed every test possible, to no end. After 5 weeks of clinical tests and lots of pain, the student had no clue as to what was happening, except that his condition was no better than before.

Next was the case of another student who had a relapse of some condition he already had at home. He thought that Germany with all its reputatipn as a Western country and advancements in medicine, would cure him. The contary!!! He was wrongly diagnosed, and horror of horrors, the guy's conditon became so worse that people feared his life was in danger. He had a series of surgeries over a period of one year, lost a year or more of his studies, suffered hell a lot of pain. Add to this the fact he had to move with a metal frame screwed into his skull for about a year!!! Well, I am not saying the doctors here were totally responsible for it, but they surely could have prevented his condition from regressing so bad so fast. It was one more instance where the doctors could not diagnose a patient properly.

And finally now comes the case of a new student who was admitted into Klinikum Darmstadt, with acute stomach ache. The doctors took quite some time to diagnose him, during which period he started having bouts of vomiting and fatigue. This he claimed only after being admitted to the Klinikum. And then they told him they suspected Tuberculosis. Fine. But what irked me and many other people here was the fact that all the while the doctors kept him in the dark regarding his condition, and moreover refused to divulge the details to his friends even after they claimed that they were his guardians. Desparate to get some information about his condition, they even contacted a GP who had earlier treated him. This GP requested Klinikum to detail his condition, which they seemingly did, but were later angry at this student for having contacted an external doctor for reference. The latest news is that this student is seemingly recovering, but only just. He still has NOT been diagnosed, and they keep shuttling him between rooms. He has been prevented from using the general toilet, and he ahs been instructed to share a toilet with other TB suspects.

When contacted, no plausible explanation was given by the nurses there, when we asked them what if some of the 'suspects' really had TB, and our friend did not, and what if he contracted the disease from them. Even those details which we could extract from them was only after we got some one who spoke German to speak to them.

Such is the strange condition here at Darmstadt. I am not aware of the situation at other places in Germany. Well, I re-iterate that my aim is not to accuse or condemn the system here. Rather, it is the desire of all international (read 'foreign') students here, who would wish to get a better treatment from the system here. When I say 'treatment', it does not necessarily refer to 'medical treatment'.

Not to panic..all is not lost. I surely do believe that there is scope for improvement. But I felt that people must be made aware of such things lest they should face some inconveniences like these in the future.

Comments are welcome, as also your own experiences if you have had any, on such lines.

Update: The student in question has been finally diagnosed with TB, after 2 full weeks at hospital, and 4 weeks of undertaking treatment. - BHUVAN (March 18).

March 13, 2005

Hair-do Hungama

Its Oscar season again. And competition has never been more fierce than now for a few of the awards that are on offer - especially for the best make-up (read hair-ishtyle!!!!). Now, here is one field where there is a runaway winner - Guess who??? Click here to have a close-up view of the man who has redefined what hair-styling is all about. (Photo to be uploaded soon.)

Well, the story goes thus...Seems that he was trying out his new hair trimmer, and was fiddling with the settings for the cut depth and such things. All hell broke loose when he did not know how the depth was scaled - a 1 meant a deep cut and a 5 a superficial one. Our poor guy reversed the settings, and ended up with a tuft of his precious mane in his hands. Less said the better of the guy who was actually doing the trimming. I heard he had a torrid time trying to choose which to hold back - his laughter or the tuft of hair in his hands. Wanted to savour a piece of his magnum opus I think.

Öffnungszeiten der Frau?

Und da gibt es diesen Freund von mir, der Guru heißt, der sich an Verbesserung seinem Deutsch sehr interessiert ist (Entschuldig' mich für mein 'krankes' Deutsch!!!). Spricht er normalerweise eine Sprache die eine bunte Mischung zwischen Englisch und Deutsch wäre. Manchmal sagt er Sachen, jede von denen Material der Legende ist ("Stuff of Legend").

Und es so geschah, daß er mich nach einer Chinesischen Frau fragte. Sie ist seine Netzwerkverwalterin (Network Administrator), und er möchte mit der sprechen. Wahrscheinlich möchte er ihre "Sprechstunden" kennen. So fragte er mich plötzlich: >>Wann gibt es ihre Öffnungszeiten?!!!<<

Natürlich könnte ich nicht ruhig bleiben, und leitete es an anderen Freund von mir weiter(der heißt Raman). Er sagte: >>Na ja, sie 'kommt' normalerweise um 12 Uhr, und so muß ihre 'Öffnungszeiten' wahrscheinlich um viertel vor sein!!!<< ("Normally she 'comes' at 12'o clock, so her 'Opening Times' must be around a quarter to twelve"!!!)

(Entschuldig' mich noch ein mal, dieses mal für meine 'geile' Sprache!!!)

March 12, 2005

Taxing Peter to allay Paul

I came acoss a good article today on (click here or the title of this post above), regarding the Government's right to tax the citizens over something. One particular aspect in the article that struck me was the author's comment that indicated the common man was taxed by one ministry (namely Finance) to cater to the whimsical spending (read squandering) of other ministries. How often have we seen profligate ministers fritter away the taxpayer's hard-earned money for something frivolous, or an inefficient ministry plan scuttling away all available resources? True that the sincere and hard-working citizen earns and pays his sweat as tax, and the Government (read the various esteemed departments of it) dissipates this money. Why should the citizen pay tax then? One toiling man paying so that some one else fools around with this hard-earned money???

And this brings me to another issue which I have been glossing over for quite some time now...It may sound scandalous, but I wonder if I may be right after all...

March 09, 2005

Der Anfang

Cool..for ages I had been trying to do something worthwhile than just fooling around with my time...I have tried my hand at writing before...both publicly and otherwise..Some of my articles - technical and non-technical, poems, etc. have already been published in college journals during my Bachelors in India, before. Also I started writing a novelette (or was it an EPIC?)..I would deliberate on it some other time..but for the better part of my life, I have not tried seriously my hand at Journalism..At least now, let me do what I have liked always...well, at least one of let me give it a kick-start with these Blogging sessions!!!

I have always wanted to write my "Autobiography"..well stop laughing..PLEASEEEEEEEEE..will u kindly stop tumbling over the cliff with your guffaws??? I know autobiography and such stuff are only for people who have done something to write about..(I am deliberately avoiding using the word "achieved", coz you don't always have to 'achieve' something to write about yourself). But let me say that one day in the future I am sure going to put pen to paper and scribble whatever i hav done in my least those events that I remember!!!

If you are loooking for something literary or refined, I will forewarn you that you are bound to be disappointed buddy!!! May be some things you find here would be interesting only to myself and to no one else...but I just wanted to have a forum to start writing my brains out...almost everything I wanted to write..whether or not they make sense...

The my future I go!!! Es geht jetzt wirklich los!!!