Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Uncomfortably Numb: 2014 & 2015






In 2015, and the last year 2014, I haven't written a lot. You may find a brief analysis of the reasons in this blog. One can agree that life gives us lemons, but one has to find the opportunity to make a lemonade out of it. However, opportunities presented themselves from time to time, and I hope I made the best of it. 

Before I get into the nitty gritties of the description of the events, I would like to personally thank Anand Hingway, Dr. Bharat Lohani and Pragya Kirti to sort of push me to write again. 

2014 began with a bang. Two of my papers, found acceptance in the international community. The joy of finding the name of the college in the area of Geoinformatics, and that too in an international arena was immense. Almost at the same time, Dr. Chinmaya Das, a colleague from IIT Kanpur, joined the MGM Campus. While we were discussing on the various aspects of collaboration, I found interest in the colourful 3-dimensional visualizations through a software called PyMol. While at school, I had found Biology to be a repulsive subject mainly owing to the gory dissections and the videos of surgeries that I saw, but this was another facet of Biology before me, after the Landscape Characterization Project, where I had worked with Dr. P. S. Roy (Oct 2000 - Jan 2003). 

On a very positive side, one of the best points of 2014, was Dr. Bharat Lohani visiting our college and giving presentations to the college audience. I watched with curiousity how people were overwhelmed with the pure simplicity with which an IIT Kanpur professor conducted himself and delivered his lectures. 

January 2014 also saw the entry of a certain negative character, let us name him Gurughantal, along with his life partner in our campus. For the lack of complete documentation* with me, I cannot reveal the name of this person, but in the next six months or so, this person along with his wife, destroyed the beautiful and congenial environment that was at the campus. Their behaviour included placing false allegations on people, especially misusing the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. They were the alumni of a very reputed institute of India, and did everything to put their alma mater to shame. This included blackmailing students who were not in their good books, harassing female staff members who would not comply with their misgivings by sending emails to them at the oddest of hours, forging laboratory records, pushing the supporting staff to destroy the laboratory glassware and taking credits for what other people had done and contributed. Fortunately, following parallel investigations from their previous workplaces, and pattern observations on social network feeds, enough data was found to eject / terminate Gurughantal's services from the campus. Even while Gurughantal left the campus, his wife vitiated the atmosphere with wrong pieces of information amongst the students, while playing a victim's card and resigning herself. On later conversations with the students, it was revealed that the recruitment of Gurughantal and his wife had miserably backfired, for no academic commitments had been fulfilled / completed. Students reported massive shortcomings in the practicals conducted and faculties found several shortcomings in the newly "prescribed" syllabuses. 

2014 ended on a rather gloomy note. While Gurughantal was dismissed from the campus, Dr. Chinmaya Das was to take his position. In the early evening of December 31, Dr. Das was attacked by some drunk robbers. He was hit on the head by a bottle. The local administration downplayed the incident by calling it an isolated incident of petty robbery, but I have reasons to believe that Gurughantal and his evil allies were behind the matter. 

2014 also told me in as many clear words that status quo shall remain. Paulo Coelho's Alchemist mentions that if a particular incident happens twice, it would happen for the third time as well. It did! Evidences and parallel events communicated that too. It became clear how matters like the length of socks, half pants and aloo parathas with lightweight butter were matters of World Tragedy, and the status quo wasn't. It also became clear how eating Aloo Parathas would get me killed, but drinking unfiltered water won't (sarcasm). Willingness, expression, reason and rationality all became mutually independent vectors in 2014, as far as I was concerned (Immanuel Kant was already confusing enough). 

2015 welcomed me with a visit to IIT Kanpur, and the first thing I did on reaching the campus was to visit the guy selling peanuts in the campus. On several past occassions, he had many stories to tell, and I was eager to listen to him again. I was amused, being currently placed in Maharashtra, as how he called the simple BHEL as BHELPURI, and how he excused himself by saying that the PURI often turned soggy in the winters. The two mornings I witnessed there, were full of joyful jumping on the streets. I comprehended why the Alumni used to be so excited when they visited the campus. 

In April 2015, I was on the field, on a survey project for the student, when suddenly my brother called me up and said that mother might have to go for a major operation. Understandably stressed and worried, I had to leave the campus for Chennai, completing the syllabus in a hurry. Dr. V. S. Pradhan and Dr. S. B. Shinde were kind enough to let me off, during this period, while they took some burden off my shoulders during this time. 

Mother was taken in for surgery at the Apollo Speciality Hospital, and with the good wishes pouring in from all sides, she came out hale and hearty from the operation theater. Rakesh was at my brother's side as earlier (in 2008). At the same time, there were a lot of good wishes pouring into my "wall" of the social network. Many messages that said "Tell me if you need any help" were specially heart warming and consoling. Dr. S. D. Deshmukh, thank you for remembering me in these hours. 

I would specially like to mention the names of Dr. Dattatray Regulwar and Dr. Sanjay Jamkar who readily visited my college on a single request and presented their work in a workshop meant for people interested in the domain of patenting. Both the professors handle so much of work, that I guess, I have to observe them for a month to learn time management skills. 

I was invited by the Government College of Engineering Jalgaon for conducting a five day workshop in LaTeX. This was one of the things which I didn't do earlier, and this told me that I can sustain six hours of lab sessions at a stretch, for five continuous days. The reactions were generally positive, and I got some more feedback on how to do it better the next time. Dr. Mohan Nerkar who appeared to me as a big foodie, make special attempts to give me the taste of Jalgaon food. In this connection, Shri Dnyanesh Gaikwad tolerated my evil and not so evil jokes till late night while dropping me back at the Guest House after dinner! 

My maternal grandfather Shri Sameer Basu, whom I fondly called "Dadu", passed away quietly one one morning, after several months of being unwell. It wasn't clear how he suddenly developed a lung infection and then left this world. Very strangely I couldn't be there physically, while the last rites were being performed. As one of my cousin brothers put it, it was the end of an "era". 

2015 ended with cups of tea, pretty charming smiles and a gloomy, lonely evening. It was as Baudelaire said "Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir; Le soleil s'est noy√© dans son sang qui se fige".

 Few days later Dr. Bharat Lohani reminded me start writing again. I'd told you sir, "I always need someone to give me a kick to start up". You did it again, positively. I wish that, for all the readers of my blog, this year be full of productive work and positiveness. I wish that, you get the discretion to identify the Gurughantals and immediately lock them in their places where they should belong. I wish that you be welcomed with smiles and warmth to wherever you go. I wish you a Happy New Year.

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*It is brought to notice that all documentation regarding the bad activities of Gurughantal are available with the campus administration. Requests for making them available online, have been received as well.