Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Bachelor Pad Conundrum

I am a normal person.  Well, mostly I am.  So, like all normal boys, until a few years back I didn’t realize that knee joints, back of the earlobe etc were actually parts of the human body.  Of course, then hormonal changes took place and much to its dismay, these hitherto undiscovered parts experienced the alkaline taste of soap.  Similarly, now being a bachelor, there were parts of my room here at IIT Madras, which I didn’t know existed, for instance, the dorsal side of the fan, the space between the wall and the tubelight holder, the insides of the latch etc etc.  I have discovered them now.  The reason?  Well, mother was in town.

Among the many things that should be a strict no-no for parents, the one which tops the list and wins hands down is visiting their son’s hostel/room.  And especially, if you know my mom or have visited my home in Bangalore you will know what I am talking about.  There is not a speck of dust in my house.  It is immaculate.  You could as well use my house for manufacturing semiconductor devices.  Things are ordered and arranged and labeled.  Monica Geller is extremely messy according to my mother.  Once the much fabled great-morning-cleansing-ritual starts at an ungodly 6AM, I get rudely woken up, asked to move from place to place, dancing while I try my best to get out of mom’s way as she moves hither and thither with a broom, the vacuum cleaner and a scotch-brite, mildly resembling a superhero.  The ritual goes on for around three hours every day.  Then, to worship the sanctity of the place, I am instructed not to climb on the bed or mess up the place in anyway for at the least an hour.

On the other hand, I am infinitely messy.  Normally, half my wardrobe and all my books are on the floor.  For instance, right now next to my shoes lying in all its glory is a half-consumed cucumber, a brick to break open the lock and my tie.  So, it is no surprise that I strongly discourage my parents from visiting me here.  I was mildly successful in this regard, with my parents visiting me three times in the past four years even though they are hardly a night’s journey away.  In May, while I was just about to go to Mumbai for my internship, my mom drops the atom bomb.  She said she was going to visit me when the semester starts.  I was traumatized.  I had just stuffed whatever clothes I could lay my hands on within a two feet radius into the bag before leaving for Bangalore.  There were lots of Kurkure packets lying on the floor, a dozen bottles of coke strewn all over, cheese stains on the bed, well..I can go on and on.  So, I called up Joseph who had my spare key and asked him to clean my room.  The back-stabber refused.  Can you believe it?  He actually refused!!  I came to know that Umashankar was staying in the campus for the summer.  I asked Joseph to give the key to Umashankar and I decided to fly from Mumbai to Chennai without mom’s knowledge and clean the room.  What other option did I have?

I don’t know how it exactly happened, for it happened really really fast.  It turned out that I would be arriving in Chennai one full day before my mom.  Relief!!  So, I arrive at Chennai and the first thing I do is start cleaning my room which, trust me is a daunting task.  After three hours of intense cleaning, I felt like a warrior just out of the battle.  And the first thing my mom said when she visited me was, “Eeeek!!  How can you live in such a mess?” and proceeded to start the cleaning.  The area was cordoned off and I was banned from my own room.  The cleaning lasted for all of five hours(Note that my room here is 8X8 feet in area).  Much to my chagrin and my wingmates amusement she had got curtains, scotch wipes, table cloth, small pillows for the bed and many more things to beautify the room.  After vehement protests from my side and lots of negotiations a compromise was arrived at.  The table cloth can stay, but everything else had to go.  Finally, around 5PM, it was done.  I went back with my mom to drop her off at the hotel.  My wingmates were wonderstruck at the transformation, my room had undergone and have taken photos.  Well, I am not complaining.  My room is right now, I am proud to say is the cleanest in the entire campus.  😀

Time-waste Equilibrium

If you had kept half an ear open for the past few days you would have definitely heard of the advent of a mysterious thing called Google Plus, a social networking site on the lines of Facebook, which seems to have taken the world by a storm.  There are forum wars going on, the loyalists of each group engaged in cheeky ripostes and counter-ripostes and contributing a significant portion to the millions of terabytes of useless stuff which you find on Internet these days.  I knew that Google had something like this up its sleeves, as I had read a study published by them a year back on the concept of friend circles and stuff like that(Yes, seriously).  As I vaguely remember, the report demonstrated the concept, taking an example of a primary school teacher who had friends in a gay strip bar or something of that sort.  🙂

The reason I write this article is because of a hypothesis which recently struck me while working.   I am not sure if it holds true for anyone else, but it definitely holds true for me.  The hypothesis is that the amount of time wasted in the internet is roughly a constant over long periods of time subject to the availability of internet.  I have a certain lower threshold of time, I need to browse the net, which is imperative for me to work.  When there is a shortage of time, say a day before an exam, roughly for every two hours of work I put in, I need around an hour of net just to clear up my mind.  During normal days, when there isn’t any work to do and no assignments to submit, I have a upper cap of about 6 hours a day in front of the computer.  As the time is a constraint, there is a limit on the number of new things I venture into, on the internet.

To give you an example, say I have a Facebook Account, a Twitter Account and a RSS Feed.  Now, going by the higher limit of 6 hours, I roughly spend two hours on each of them and pack for the day.  This process continues everyday and I spend roughly equal amount of time browsing through each of these sites.  Things become interesting when there is a new entrant in the market.   Say something like Google Plus comes about.  And I create an account and I like it.  The number of free hours I have is still six.  But, it is difficult to divide my time equally among all four of them because I am used to spending two hours on each.  Soon, I find myself neglecting one of the accounts(while the other two accounts get their quota of two hours each) and finally just leaving it to rot, while I completely traverse all my energy into building a new account.(Note the use of the word build, for I feel it is not an easy job)

In 2007, when I joined IITM I had a GMail, Orkut and Blogger accounts.  I shall discount GMail as an instrument of time-waste as it is a necessary evil.  I also used to visit lots of Linux Forums to get it up and running in my computer and Wikipedia for that Dirac-Delta enthusiasm I had for quizzing in my 1st year.  That brings the total number of instruments of time-waste to 4.  As the year passed, I concentrated on writing new blog articles.  Then I discovered Google Reader.  Gradually, I shifted from a writing-driven time-waste mode to a reading-driven time-waste mode, that is I stopped blogging leaving the Blogger account to fall into a state of disuse.  Then, in mid-2008 I got a Facebook account.  The number of hours I spent visiting Orkut came down significantly until it met the same fate as the Blogger account.  And then I discovered Reddit.  Visits to the Linux Forums came down drastically.  Twitter came by and passed with hardly any sound as the name suggests as I could not comprehend the point of it’s existence in the first place.  Slashdot briefly usurped Reddit’s position until I came across Stumble-Upon, which I use even now.  The arrival of Google Buzz marked the demise of Google Reader, although I occasionally visit it to catch up with some internet comic strips.  Now, Google Plus has arrived.  Which activity will disappear from my current list of instruments of time-waste, I can only guess.  Structurally, it is similar to Facebook.  So, it may replace Facebook.  Or it may replace Google Buzz.  Or it may hinder my rejuvenated enthusiasm for blogging.  I do not know.

What do you people think?  Does this hold true for you too?  Is there a cap on the number of “instruments” of time-waste a single person can handle?  Drop in, with a word.  🙂