IIT, India

The most sought after branch in an IIT/engg college…

….is after all these years, “Computer Science”!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can hear many of my friends from college, old colleagues, family, friends and others cringe at this thought – but it is true – “Computer Science” or its variants like “Electrical”, “Electronics” still rule the technical world.

I have heard so many people who are already in the Computer Science field(for about 25 years or so) that they might not prefer their children to be in the same field – for varying reasons like long work hours, instant layoffs, stiff competition, extreme stress, total burnout and more. But truth be told, “Computer Science” has in fact grown tremendously in the last 20-30 years giving rise to amazing job opportunities and salaries for many.

Earlier, there were only programming languages(like ‘C’, ‘Pascal’, ‘Fortran’) to be learnt in Computer Science field but now there are several other branches to it. Cyber security, Android programming, Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and many other paths have spawned because of the Internet revolution, smartphone revolution, online shopping and many other necessities of life. The Computer Science field is also guaranteed to grow more giving rise to totally new concepts.

In fact, every branch of engineering needs knowledge of Computer Science and some basic hacks and cracks to master it. The current era demands every professional to be technically savvy.

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Other branches:

The core branches like Mechanical, Civil are not going away anywhere – because one cannot work on a computer with no roof built by a Civil engineer over their head and an automobile to make them mobile!

But many students who do the core branches most likely branch out into Computer Science eventually for better job opportunities. Only a few of them remain in the core branches (like my better half :)) (at least from what I have seen) since they are extremely passionate about it.

Do the non-Computer Science branches offer the same number of job opportunities and salaries as the Computer Science branch?ย  My better half would say “yes” ๐Ÿ™‚ but I cannot say for sure.

Though, most people from the non-CS branches get placed well initially, the career mobility might be restricted to a few companies down the line. And if you are extremely specialized, your job opportunities will reduce even further! In such cases, when there are few companies to switch – consider the case, when you are dissatisfied with your current organization –ย  What do you do? You search for companies to move to and you only find a handful of them(!) making it even more frustrating!! Now, this is not going to be case for all non-CS people, but it is just a possibility…

What are your thoughts? Is the rush for Computer Science validated? Or not?

And if you have been in the Computer Science field for quite a while – are you happy? Will you encourage your child to go into the same field? Why or Why not?

Have a lovely day! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Technology

Whatsapp groups – boon or bane?

Really, how many groups do you have on your smartphone? 2,5,10, 15, 20? ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Can we live without them today? In India we can’t… ๐Ÿ™‚ Whatsapp apparently has completed 10 years of its existence – but I have known it only for the past few years or so…

‘Whatsapp’ needs no introduction,ย  but if anybody in the technically connected world still does not know ‘Whatsapp’ย  – it is a free app for sending and receiving messages and videos. We can also form groups for various purposes. Wikipedia describes Whatsapp as ”ย a freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media’

Boon:

Quite a while back when we were in the US, communicating with our parents and loved ones in India used to be an expensive exercise – with International rates going all the way to 1$/min(or more!) . We could call only once every 2 weeks and that too the call had to be short and to the point!

Fast forward 20 years later, communication has improved tremendously and we are ever thankful for it. A variety of tools have appeared and have putย  our life at ease and we can talk with anyone across the globe without shelling out a fortune. News can be shared instantaneously all over the globe at no cost at all!! Calls to India from USA, calls to USA from India and many other places around the world have become easy -peasy.

Sharing pictures, videos has also become easier and we share plenty with family and friends through Whatsapp in a much more safer way.

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There are amazing number of Whatsapp groups that develop on my phone every few minutes or seconds(yes, I am exaggerating a bit here… ๐Ÿ™‚ – but you get the point… there are family groups, friends groups, birthday groups, class groups and more and more…. School groups, college groups , latest friends groups, past friends groups and if you have kids – there are groups for them too!! Being a social person, I love every body in all my groups … ๐Ÿ™‚ but….

Bane:

It is quite an irony that we were craving for better communication even 5 years back – and now that we have achieved that… I wonder if allย  the communication is worth it? Did all of the groups solve all our communication needs or are we just talking more and more and remaining at the same question in the conversation?

Sometimes, the groups also grow very fast and too many of them sit without any activity on my phone. I compulsorily have had to quit many of them – either due to excessive activity or lack of activity. What do you do to handle the groups and the different conversations with so many people? Do you patiently read all the messages or do you feel overwhelmed and quit it right away?

My wish:

  1. I think like Facebook and other social media platforms, it would be good if the person’s consent is asked before adding a person to a Whatsapp group!
  2. What if each Whatsapp group had a lock? ๐Ÿ™‚
  3. What if some of the messages in Whatsapp can be made “unforwardable”? This would definitely reduce the spread of fake news….

Let’s see if any of my wishes gets implemented any day… ๐Ÿ™‚

In the mean time,ย what do you feel about the various Whatsapp groups? Do they overwhelm you or do you love them and cannot imagine a life without them? ๐Ÿ™‚

IIT, India, Musings

IIT-R life!

“I may be an IITian, but my mom is the real GENIUS!!”:)ย 

goes a saying on a mug at the IIT-R souvenir shop…:) Now, that IITs themselves recognize moms,ย let us dive into more of this mom’s IIT-R tales!!

With the son living in IIT-R for almost a month now, it is time to recollect some more of my experiences at IIT-R and the small things that I really loved about my short stint there!! ๐Ÿ™‚

The subjects:

  1. Most first year students have a set of common subjects(as in most Engineering colleges – Math, Communication skills)
  2. The lovely part is they have a paper on ‘psychology’ (yes, engineering students have to study ‘psychology’ ๐Ÿ™‚ ) After all, most of us know that work life is not only about technical skillsย  – there are people skills and relationship skills that are needed to manage the work space too – so in my opinion good to study psychology!! ๐Ÿ™‚ though the students themselves might not be too happy studying it!!)
  3. Remember the IIT entrance exams do not test you on English? Well, the English testing is done once you join college and eventually there is a paper that is ‘Communication skills(basic)’ or ‘Communication skills'(advanced) in the first semester
  4. In addition, they are compulsorily expected to take one extra curricular activity( either a sport, Taek-wondo or NSS) which is also something that I liked. It is good to keep the students busy with sporting activities so that no one remains idle and gets into mischief! ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Making it compulsory is even better according to me!! ๐Ÿ™‚
  5. Mental health was seriously talked about in the orientation. If anybody was depressed or stressed they were urged to talk to the health counsellors right away!!(very nice!!)

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IIT-R lingo!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I remember we had so many words and code words for so many things in my engineering college and hostel too!! It was easy and fun to use them as well…

Now, coming to the lingo that is used at IIT-R, some of it has English and Hindi mix which is easier to understand. The other totally slang Hindi ones are totally beyond us!! Anyways, I am confident that the son will learn it all and enlighten me too, by the end of his degree…:)

At the beginning of the semester, all students got a ‘Campus dictionary'(forwarded) pdf file which listed all the code words used in IIT-R(which might be common to all IITs as well) Many of my North Indian friends might be able to decipher most or all of them… can you see which ones you can understand?

  1. Kholu
  2. Gaaon
  3. Bakchodi
  4. Chapo
  5. Ghissu
  6. Dulla
  7. Chaggi
  8. Despo
  9. Fachche
  10. Haddu

There are still more… can you find the answers to these?! ๐Ÿ™‚

Scroll down to understand these IITian words …..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. ‘Kholu’ is the person whose AIR opens the branch(“Branch ka kholu kaun hai?” is a popular question ๐Ÿ™‚ :))
  2. ‘Gaaon'(village) – is the area of ‘bhawans’ that is supposedly far from the main campus area and characterized by less interference with major campus affairs
  3. Bakchodi – Gossips with no conclusion, apparently!! ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. Chapo – shortened form of “Chai Pakoda” which means a treat or party
  5. Ghissu – are students with high CGPA and no social life!!
  6. Dulla – are dual degree students
  7. Chaggi – are students with light minded approach and a CGPA around 6
  8. Despo – obviously meaning, desperate!!
  9. Fachche – is an enthusiastic fresher!!
  10. Haddu – Delhiites calling people from Hyderabad or South India!!

I have learnt a lot today – reading this and writing about this.. did you? I almost feel I am in college again… ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

college, India

IIT- A Mothers perspective

In our IIT saga, based on the feedback and our own research, we were looking to get our son into one of the older IITs + IIT Hyderabad. For the uninitiated, the older IITs are IIT-Madras, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, IIT – Roorkee, IIT – Guwahati, IIT- Kharagpur and IIT – Kanpur. In addition we also considered IIT – Hyderabad which is a newer IIT but since it was getting a lot of positive feedback, we considered that as well.

Roorkee:

After the son got admitted into one of the oldest IIT(IIT-R), travelling and visiting the son to that part of India has been a pleasure! Roorkee is a little place in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is known for IIT, the army, the pure air and generous water! The river Ganga flows and flows…all over… Actually, it was quite amazing to see so much of free flowing water. The southern states of India almost always gasp for water(before all the current floods) Water tankers are a common sight in cities like Bengaluru and Chennai. And it was a pleasure to see that there was no necessity of water tankers in IIT Roorkee!

The Hindi language also flows and flows…The son had actually never heard so much of Hindi even though our place in Bengaluru is also predominantly Hindi speaking.

Life seems to be slow paced in Roorkee and it is nice to know that nobody is rushing anywhere to catch anything!! (The driver driving at 60 kmph on an empty road was really puzzling to me – why not go at a 100 kmph on an empty road was my Bengaluruean thought ;))ย  In a city like Bengaluru we try to do the reverse – we try to do 100 kmph in a totally jammed and crammed zone!!

IIT- Roorkee:

IIT – Roorkee is one of oldest engineering institutions in India. It was established in 1847(yes!) by Sir James Thomason and it was originally known as ‘University of Roorkee and Thomason College of Civil Engineering’.ย  The main building in IIT -Roorkee is known as ‘The James Thomason building” and still hosts many Professors rooms. The James Thomason building is the single most important building in IIT Roorkee. It has been maintained excellently and the architecture still looks amazing. The tiles in the James Thomason building reminded me of the tiles in my maternal grandparents place.

The green lawn in front of the building is manually maintained very well. The foyer has high ceilings and the entry way displays proficiency certificates in both academic and sports fields dating back to 1858!!

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IIT – Roorkee has 21 departments covering Engineering, Applied sciences, Humanities, Management and more. The campus area sprawls over 365 acres which is huge. The infrastructure is awesome and all the faculty have adequate educational qualifications( Ph.Ds) to teach students. All faculty information is up online and we can see all their qualifications and experience.

Students use bicycles to move from building to building and there are a lot of them! All students are toppers in their own school/zone and it is a battle of the brightest of the brightest minds in the country!

In addition, to bicycles, there are also e-rickshaws that ply within the campus. These e-rickshaws take up to 5 passengers per trip and all it costs is 10 Rs/person to travel from any location to any other location within the campus!! (just imagine!!)

Another thing that actually struck me was the cost of living in IIT Roorkee or Roorkee for that matter. The cost of living in IIT-Roorkee or outside the campus is extremely cheap compared to a city like Bengaluru(40 Rs/haircut , ‘Coffee day’ stuff available for half the price in Bengaluru)

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Two banks operate within the campus for the benefit of students. Barber shops, stationary shops, juice shops all pepper the bhawans. The campus is kept immaculately clean.

There are no power problems – if at all – they are extremely minimal.

There is also very nice Saraswathi temple, mosque and a church within the campus.

The campus also boasts of badminton courts, a good gym, a mega swimming pool, table tennis courts, tennis courts and more sporting activities. Since IIT Roorkee is in foothills of the Himalayas – there is also a ‘Himalayan explorers club’ for the adventurous(sounds fascinating isn’t it?)

It was also nice to see mental health being spoken openly at the orientation and students are always asked to come up and talk if they feel stressed or depressed(after all, most 1st year students are staying away from their cozy home for the first time in their lives)

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Hostels:

The hostels in IIT-R are known as “bhawans”. Each bhawan feels like a separate apartment complex! The rooms are old but decently maintained. Washing machines, geysers are also present to enable the transition from home to hostel easier(again, this is the first time that most students are doing the washing and other stuff on their own)

There are 2 students in a room or some get single rooms too. ‘Coffee Day’, ‘Subway’ are two new additions to keep the hostelites taste buds happy.

First year students get allotted rooms based on their AIR rank(yes!) and that is the only talk of JEE advanced rank. After that it is open competition for all.

As a mother, the college is awesome and the faculty have amazing experience and educational qualifications and the whole IIT experience is easily affordable too.ย  Now it is up to the son to adjust and figure the whole thing out!! ๐Ÿ™‚

India, Musings

IITs and their branches

Before my son entered IIT, we were doing a lot of research on the various IITs and their branches. While the choice of IITs was relatively simpler, the selection of the branch in the different IITs was a whole lot harder. Each IIT had a slightly different set of branches and we had lots and lots of homework to do to understand the whole process better.

We as parents understood the traditional Engineering branches like:

  1. Civil
  2. Mechanical
  3. Electronics and communication
  4. Electrical and Electronics
  5. Computer Science and Engineering
  6. Metallurgy
  7. Textiles
  8. Chemical

branches

But the IITs boasted of some new branches along with the traditional ones to keep up with the changing trends in technologies. These were the new branches that really made us research more:

  1. Engineering Physics
  2. Data Science engineering
  3. Mathematics and computing
  4. Agricultural and food engineering
  5. Mining engineering
  6. Manufacturing science and engineering
  7. Ocean engineering and Naval architecture
  8. Engineering science
  9. Artificial intelligence
  10. Bioengineering
  11. Biological sciences and Bioengineering
  12. Material science and engineering
  13. Polymer science and engineering
  14. Mineral engineering
  15. Petroleum engineering
  16. Ceramic engineering
  17. Pharmaceutical engineering and technology

Note, that – not all branches are available in all the IITs. For example, as of today, ‘Data science’ is offered only in IIT, Mandi and ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is available only in IIT Hyderabad.

It is also important to note that these are all 4 year B.Tech programs. There are 5 year dual degree and 4 year BS programs as well.

I am sure you are also stumped by the other branches such as “Ceramic engineering”, “Polymer engineering”, ‘Engineering Physics’, ‘Mathematics and Computing’ and many others. Yes, these branches do exist in some of the IITs!! While I haven’t researched the scope of all the branches – we did have to research two branches (‘Engineering Physics’ and ‘Mathematics and Computing’ )since they were close to my son’s line of interest(after Computer Science and other heavily fought traditional branches, which we couldn’t get our hands on)

What were they taught? And what was their scope in the future?

What is Engineering Physics?

From the IIT Bombay website, ‘Engineering Physics’ is “an amalgam of physics, mathematics and electrical engineering courses”. The core courses cover basic areas such as classical and quantum mechanics, electromagnetic theory, photonics, relativity, and thermodynamics along with introductory courses to the various fields.The courses include Mathematical physics, nuclear physics, Quantum physics, laser physics and more.

So, it is Physics, Physics all the way… ๐Ÿ™‚

It is offered by IIT – B(Bombay), IIT-M(Madras), IIT-D(Delhi), IIT-R(Roorkee), IIT -G(Guwahati), IIT – H(Hyderabad), IIT – M(Mandi) and IIT – Dhanbad

With so much of Physics in their curriculum, what is the scope of Engineering Physics students in the future? These are a few of my findings:

  1. Students can get placed in industries such as telecom, microelectronics, lasers and micro devices etc. with amazing salaries
  2. They can also get involved in research and development activities in future
  3. They can opt for higher studies in the same line or
  4. They can also choose an entirely new line of interest

What is ‘Mathematics and computing’?

While I was mulling ‘Mathematics and Computing’ branch I found that it is very,very difficult to get into ‘Mathematics and Computing’ branch in the traditional old IITs.

The ‘Mathematics and Computing’ branch is described by IIT Guwahati website as follows:

“The curriculum for this program is designed to meet the need of sophisticated mathematics in modern scientific investigations and technological innovations. The programme has three components: mathematics, computing and financial engineering which are perfectly blended so that the strong mathematical and analytical components that are in-built in the curriculum form the basis on which the technological aspects of computing and finance are developed”.

The MnC(Mathematics and Computing) branch syllabus however is also supposedly different for each IIT. While many IITs focus on Math – some focus on Computer Science concepts too.

MnC is offered byย  IIT-D, IIT-G, IIT-Kharagpur, IIT – Dhanbad, IIT – Hyderabad, IIT-BHU – Varanasi, IIT – Ropar and IIT Goa.

Scope of Mathematics and computing:

  1. These students have a bright future in computational careers which involve data science, statistics, machine learning, Artificial intelligence
  2. They can also opt for higher studies
  3. Many of these students have also been hired by companies such as Microsoft, Netapp, Zynga and more

Hope you liked the details of various branches in the IITs and the extra detail about the ‘Engineering physics’ branch and ‘Mathematics and Computing’ branch.

Stay tuned for more of my personal musings! ๐Ÿ™‚

exams, India

Our IIT journey!

Even as my son is planning to leave for IIT to join the 2019-2020 academic session , I feel like I have to recite the whole journey to the whole world!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, the whole IIT preparation drama ceases to exist once the lad enters the hallowed grounds of the precious institution! Here are a few(or a lot of!) of my thoughts on the whole process:

What are the IITs anyways?

India and IITs are synonymous with each other. Ask any parent whose child is in grade five or six in India and their aim is always to get into an IIT. For the uninitiated, IIT is ‘Indian Institute of Technology’ for securing an undergraduate or post-graduate degree in engineering and there are a total of 23 IITs in India today. Theย Indian Institutes of Technologyย (IITs) are autonomousย publicย institutes of higher education(Wikipedia)

There are roughly about 13,376 seats up for grabs in various streams of engineering like Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and more. India’s young students and their parents are always allured by this institution.ย  Competition is fierce and this year about 9.35 lakh candidates competed to get one of the 13,000 seats. The IITs though cannot accomodate everyone, can they? So, what do they do? Have entrance exams that will definitely the raise the stakes and make the students to prepare harder…

The JEE entrance exams:

The JEE or ‘Joint Entrance exams’ are the gateway to the esteemed institution. The JEE(Joint Entrance Exam) has two parts to it. They are the ‘Mains’ and the ‘Advanced’.ย  The JEE tests you only in Math, Physics and Chemistry(which is actually a huge relief for my son – as he is not too fond of any sort of English testing!! ;)) Only once you clear the ‘Mains’ exam – will you be allowed to participate in the advanced exam. As of this year(2019), the ‘Mains’ exam itself was conducted two times – once in January and once in April( and he took the exam both the times!!) There were a few students who scored 100% percentile in the Mains exam! (hats off to them!! :))

The ‘advanced’ exam is probably one of the toughest exams in India today. This year, the ‘advanced’ exam was held in late May. Students start preparing for the JEE exams right from fifth or sixth grade!!(unbelievable, right?)

We started our earnest preparation for the JEE exam only in 11th grade – even though he attended some sort of coaching in 7th and 8th grade too.

my travel diary

JEE Main and advanced exams:

The JEE Main exam was reasonably easy this year and my son scored an excellent percentile 99.4 percentile but with an AIR of 5922(can you imagine?!!) The JEE advanced exam though was an entirely different matter. It was set by IIT Roorkee and almost everyone was shaken by the paper.

Except for me!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Why? My son always prefers harder papers and loves the challenge rather than the easier paper. I knew he would do well in a hard paper and he had brighter chance of entering the IITs! (how odd, know?!!) Finally, the results were declared on June 14th and true to my thinking he had scored very well in his advanced exam with an AIR of 2588.

JoSAA:

Once the advanced marks and ranks are in, the counselling process with JoSAA(Joint Seat Allocation Authority) starts. The whole process is entirely streamlined.ย Seat allotments for the different branches and colleges happens entirely online and with amazing precision. The rules are laid out beautifully and the movement happens perfectly. After going back and forth and dilly dallying on our choice of colleges and branches between the 23 IITs we finally accepted one IIT on Sunday, 7th July 2019.

The IITs give reservation only to the Scheduled castes(SC), Scheduled Tribe(ST), OBC(Other backward classes), EwS(economically weaker sections), physically handicapped and girl candidates. Since the ratio of boys to girls in IITs is very low, there has been extra reservation allotted for girls to enter the prestigious institution(which is a wonderful move, I would say!) IIT Delhi, even had open house exclusively for girls to attract girl talent into the institution.

What is so special about the IIT?

1.First and foremost, the students get to interact with a lot of like minded students which will definitely enhance one’s growth.

2. Next, obviously is going to be the money part. The students from the best and top IITs get placement offers from international and national companies such as Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Shell, Honeywell, Google and… you name it and they will be there!ย  The students can get placed at an offer of about 13 lakhs or more.

But of course, not all are going to be placed at that amount and a lot depends on your GPA and other factors.

3. An IIT degree has international recognition.

I am sure there are plenty of other factors but I could think of this only for now…

How much does it cost to study in an IIT?

This is something you will love to hear – it costs roughly about 3 lakhs per year! Now, 3 lakhs/year is actually mind bogglingly cheap from our standpoint(considering that we are in the most expensive part of India!!) This type of education from most international colleges and universities will definitely leave you with a standing student loan…or you would need to figure some other amazing ways to pay for it.

And finally from my son’s own words, the answer toย 

“What sets the JEE Advanced apart from other engineering entrance exams?”ย 

  1. Most other engineering entrance exams consist of only a single paper. But as for JEE Advanced, it consists of two papers, each of 3 hours duration!
  2. The format of the JEE Advanced is not fixed, it varies from year to year.
  3. Questions in the JEE Advanced can be of many types, such as multiple choice (single/multiple correct answers), match the following, integer answer type, comprehension (or ‘paragraph’) type, and numerical answer type (correct to two decimal places). Most other entrance exams usually have all questions in the ‘multiple choice single correct’ format.
  4. The questions in JEE Advanced generally require a very deep and proper understanding of the topics, and some may test you on multiple concepts. They also generally take more time to solve.
  5. Because of the difficulty level of the questions, the number of questions in each paper is very small when compared to other entrance exams of similar duration. (For example, each of the two papers in this year’s JEE Advanced had only 54 questions!)
  6. The ‘multiple choice questions with multiple correct answers’ often have a different marking scheme compared to the rest of the questions. For example, in this year’s JEE Advanced, the marking scheme for such questions was as follows:
    1. If ALL the correct answers for a question are selected, and no incorrect answer is selected, 4 marks are awarded.
    2. If some (but not all) correct answers are selected, and no incorrect answers are selected, 1 mark is awarded for EACH correct answer that is selected.
    3. If no answer is selected, no marks are awarded.
    4. If any INCORRECT answer is selected, 1 mark is deducted from the total score.
    5. Example: If the correct answers for a question are A, C and D, then marking A, C, D will result in +4 marks, marking only A results in +1, marking A, C results in +2, but marking A, B, C results in -1.

This is the reason why most Professors and academicians throughout the world take JEE exam paper and analyze it and re-analyze it…

After IIT – life is smooth and easy?

Many of you might remember my IIT/IIM post from a few years back. ‘IIT’ is neither a beginning nor an ending but a great milestone for those who have achieved it.

The life at IIT or the degree obtained from an IIT can only get you up and running initially and have a nice tag behind your name throughout your lifeย  – but it cannot immunize you against life’s ups and downs.

Life’s curves can only be handled by a lot of positivity, calmness and divine belief!!

Stay tuned for more on our IIT saga…:)

 

 

 

India, Musings

Realities of life in India!!

Yes, this is another post about the ‘Realities of life in…India’ not ‘USA’… ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ This post is mostly applicable mostly for families, individuals, couples who return after a foreign visit that lasts for 2+ years or more…so here goes…

  1. We are warmly greeted by “Sirs” and “Madams” in our personal and work environments…I was pleasantly thrown off by this sudden respect…(I did not know what to think of it initially – except,”Please,please don’t call me “Mam” – I don’t mind being called by my first name, however older I maybe to you” ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ !!) In India, I had forgotten, if somebody was older to you even by two years, we automatically became “Mam” and “Sir”!! Luckily, most of my remote acquaintances have only called me as “Jayanthi”…
  2. Remember the “loneliness” that I had written about in my US-India posts? There is nothing like that here… we have friends from our school days, friends from our college days and more friends and still more friends and counting…:) And in a city like Bangalore which has a constantly moving population, the friends circle only grows all the time…and no shortage of family too… So, none of the loneliness business – if at all, we are swimming in a sea of humanity all the time which is lovely!!
  3. As I see it, most of us in India do very well financially and personally too…if at all, the only hitch might be too many people trying to influence others decisions. So, anybody going to the US or other foreign countries for better financial prospects – not to worry – life is good here!! ๐Ÿ™‚ ( for the middle and upper middle class)
  4. India, as I have observed after my US stay has a highly dependent culture. From the time we are young, children are dependent on parents and later in life, parents are dependent on children(again, no right or wrong here – just prefer the “independent” system so that we don’t stress the relationships around us) Consider these points:

a. In the US, children as young as nine months are taught to feed themselves and by the first year, they are eating independently with no help from parents. Contrast that to the Indian culture, where parents are continuously running behind the children with a bowl and spoon in hand helping them eat!!

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b. This continues to teenage years and beyond. As young teenagers, their Western counterparts are encouraged to step out of the house and start working at restaurants to understand the value of money. Is this even a feasible thought in Indian culture??(Plus,ย  it is absolutely unnecessary too – but there goes our independent thought!!)

c. Parents in the US are also encouraged to start planning for a child’s college education from the time they are born. Working professionals are encouraged to start saving for retirement once they start working, buy a house and finish paying the mortgage by the time they retire. This ensures that the child becomes independent when they enter college. Adults are independent and have enough money and own the house when they retire too!!

I am sure all this is prevalent in India of today – but up to what extent it is being done(or can be done) in India is highly debated…

d. Who can forget the maids, drivers, baby sitters, cooks of India? Every family’s routine relies heavily on the maids of India. We are heavily dependent on them for our daily chores and life is not same even if they are ‘off’ for a day… ๐Ÿ˜‰

5. Children grow more naturally and are not confused about which way to go – the Indian way or the Western way or grasp both ways…

6. I cannot resist saying this again – but just the freedom to be able to work or study or do what you to do in life without visa restrictions is indeed a huge blessing! I feel for all the women or spouses on H4 visas(H4 visa holders cannot work) who are languishing their lives abroad with fantastic degrees and not being able to put it to good use…

7. In India, we are not the first to receive the cutting edge tech products(like the latest iPhone or the latest iPad) but it does come to us eventually! ๐Ÿ™‚

8. Inter-caste and inter-religion marriages are better accepted now… I cannot imagine such a thing some 20 years ago…

9. India has a much more disciplined and meticulous life. I don’t think I have seen anybody coloring their hair, have interesting hair styles, wear different types of attire to school. Having a school uniform regulates a lot of things for school going kids. Women might try different attires but only in a city like Bangalore or other bigger cities – the smaller tier 1 and tier 2 cities expects women to be fully clad…

10. Engineering and medicine are still the most sought after professions in India! And getting into IIT is still the greatest dream of every Indian parent!!

11. And last but not least, cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad have considerable number ofย  children born in the US. These children have returned back to India with their parents and there are plenty of schools that accommodate them. Even colleges have a separate category on their forms for children born abroad – “OCI”!! So it is all not only “brain drain” …the reality is that there are parents who have decided to come to India for goodย  and India loves to accommodate these returnees!!

Cheers!

India, US

Realities of life in the USA – 2

I thought I was done with writing about India and US but I was watching a Tamil movie ‘Achamundu Achamundu’ yesterday and all my thoughts coherently aligned yet again for another reality post!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Loneliness is a huge killer for Indian families in the USA…especially, women. If you are neither a student nor are working, loneliness will grab you in her arms and never let go of you!! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ If you live in a cold place like Detroit, Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago -you can be certain you will be in her arms at least once in your time there.
  2. Most women who are neither working nor studying, will end up making friends in the local library, school, college, parks or other social gatherings.
  3. Friends will be the real social strength for immigrants in the USA. Anybody from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,ย  Bangladesh and any/all Asian countries – we become extremely attached to them because of our common culture! ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. Social gatherings like weddings, engagements, pre-engagements, baby showers, baby arrival gatherings and more will come and go in India and you will be cut-off from them. You will see them in all probability only when the child goes to kindergarten or beyond…
  5. You will really not see many people outside walking on the streets like in India.You will definitely see cars, cars and more cars…

 

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6. Doing laundry everyday is really not the norm in the USA. It is something that visiting parents and in-laws will find difficulty adjusting to.

7. And if your apartment, has a common laundromat – be prepared to carry your clothes to the laundromat…(don’t we miss the maids in India?!! :))

8. Most families will not get the newspaper in paper format either. Again that is a fact that many visiting parents and in-laws have to get adjusted to.

9. If you get to visit the USA as a student, finances will be absolutely tight. You will be trying to prove yourself as a good student and you have to manage all the finances all alone for the first time in your life too.ย  This is probably the toughest path for an immigrant and the most satisfying one too. You will enjoy the American system of education which is fundamentally different from the Indian system.

10. One eye or rather both eyes will keep track of every movement in India too!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Who has won the election, what is the trend in women’s fashion world(for women), what are the children of India studying currently – might be some thoughts that are constantly whizzing through us – this is also the way to keep in touch with our motherland…

11. If you have decided to settle in the USA, you will be visiting India more than 2-3 times a year for different reasons and excuses!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Read the first part of ‘Realities of life in the USA’ย ย here…have I missed any other realities?

India

CBSE vs ICSE – always a good battle!! :)

As most of us from India might be aware, CBSE and ICSE are the two popular education boards in India. While most of us parents are strongly attached to one particular board for any which reason, putting our child into either of the boards is a perennial dilemma for most parents. We choose one board and then after a few years think the other board might have been better and we keep see-sawing on the decision.

However, with my son having completed his Xth grade from the ICSE board and XIIth grade from the CBSE board,ย  these are a few of my learnings over the years:

  1. When he first started school in India in fourth grade, we had safely forgotten the nitty-gritty details of boards in India(remember – we returned after a long US stint) We saw the first school, liked it and he stayed there, irrespective of the board. It was then we learnt that the school was an ICSE school and learnt the ICSE way of approach.
  2. ICSE syllabus is vast. Writing ‘vast’ in the English language is easy – but understanding the word ‘vast’ and studying the ‘vast’ syllabus in ten subjects is not easy.
  3. There are ten subjects in the ICSE board for grade 10 – yes, TEN!!ย  They are Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Hist/Civics, Geography, English language, English literature, Computers/PE/or another optional subject, 2nd language.
  4. There will inevitably be 50 chapters in Math, 50 chapters in Physics, 50 chapters in Chemistry and so on for the final board exam!!ย There have been times when my son has always been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information in Xth grade and has always asked me one simple question “How can I look at all 50 chapters the night before the exam?” The answer of course is quite simple – you cannot look at all the chapters before the exam, you can only look at the weakest ones before the exam. The ICSE exam thus needs a lot of exam hacks and cracks to be successful in it with less stress.
  5. Most parents feel the CBSE board offers less stress – because the subjects are clubbed together(like Physics, Chemistry, Biology as ‘Science’, History/Civics/Geo as ‘Social Studies’) Now, I cannot say for sure whether the CBSE board till Xth grade is less stress or not – but you sure have to study all the science laws and Trignometric formulae to ace life’s academic tests.
  6. In hindsight, XIIth grade CBSE board was a relatively easier and happier experience for my son.
  7. Now, the final irony was that when the grade X and grade XII results for both the boards were released this year, the ICSE/ISC students were awarded full marks or centums in many subjects such as Math, Computer Science, History/Civics/Geo while not many were awarded centums in Math and Sciences in CBSE schools!! ( And I am a sucker for centums! :))

Quite a twist in tale, right? The supposedly easier syllabus had lesser known centums and the grading was harder (atleast from what I have seen around me) and the supposedly harder syllabus had more centums and more students got better marks than they expected!!

I am not sure which syllabus had the last laugh?

Parenting

My ’99’ mark wonder boy!! :)

Many of you might recollect that I sat and waited and waited for the Xth gradeย marks to be declared for my son, two years ago..but this time, around the the CBSE twelfth grade results in India took us all by surprise by being declared suddenly!! (but it was a sweet surprise, though!! :)) In India we love the declaration of Xth grade and XIIth grade marks …everyone is excited and going bonkers, phones ringing incessantly – the excitement has been the same from the time I studied 12th grade!! :)(if at all, it has grown more!!)

The anticipation is always huge for my nerdy and geeky son, who is known to only “study”!! ๐Ÿ™‚ (yes, he exists!!) The boy whom I have never taught anything since the age of 2,(yes – you saw that number correct!! :)) and who has never been to any form of tuition (rather he is capable of him taking tuitions!!) all through his school, finally got his 12th grade results yesterday.

While I always wonder what is “the” thing that must be shared on social media…I always end up sharing my son’s marks on social media through a blog post!! ๐Ÿ™‚ So, here without any further procrastination – are his marks:

Computers – 99/100

Math -99/100

Physics- 99/100

Chem -95/100

English – 95/100

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With a total percentage of 97.4%!! (and ironically it is the same percentage as his Xth grade!!)

And where does he stand in school with this result? He is the SCHOOL TOPPER!! ๐Ÿ™‚ YES, HE DID IT – even though the ‘1’ mark in each subject evaded him, we are all over the moon for him!! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ We couldn’t have been more proud, happier and excited!!

To the boy, who entirely studied on his own and drew his own timetables and formed his own shortcuts and never gave his parents anything to worry about on the studying front, may HAPPINESS and SUCCESS always find you!! ๐Ÿ™‚

To the teachers, students of Bala’s present school and his past school(s) – we are forever indebted in shaping our son’s life and always having trust and faith in him!! Thank you for making him smile and giving him a happy carefree environment to grow!!