Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Category: Family and Friends

Remembering a great teacher

1995 was a difficult year for me. I had finished the 8th grade at Indian School Muscat. However, instead of joining the 9th grade with my friends, I had to move to an entirely new school, Indian School Al-Ghubra, which was much further away and worse, was our arch-rival. My first few weeks at the new school were horrible. I missed my friends terribly; everyone was a stranger and I had a hard time adjusting to the way things were done at the new school. My first mid-terms were a disaster. While I had consistently scored in the 80’s to 90’s in my old school, here it was a different story. My grades were pretty bad. Looking back, I think it was mainly due to the stress of moving to a completely new environment. I was unsure of myself and I simply wasn’t used to the way things were done.

I still remember when I got my Math paper. I had scored a dismal 37.5 out of a 100. I was shell-shocked. I had never scored that low on a math paper. As I stared at the paper, tears welling up in my eyes, I heard a gentle voice tell me, “It’s only the first exam. You’re new here and I’m sure you’ll do better next time…” I looked up to see my Math teacher, Mr. Vida, looking at me with a little smile on his face. I didn’t believe him then, of course. More urgent things were at hand, namely soon-to-be irate Indian parents whom I would have to answer to, at home. It seemed rather insignificant and pointless to me at the time. But looking back, I can see it for what it truly was: a concerned and kind teacher taking the time to comfort an obviously-distraught student.

Over the next few years I became very familiar with Mr. Desmond Vida, and his wife Mrs. Pushpa Vida, or as they were known around ISG, “The Vidas”. I used to go to after-school tutoring sessions for Math at his place, which in addition to being extremely helpful were also quite simply, fun. A lot of my classmates were there and our study sessions regularly had less-serious interjections were we all laughed and joked, along with Mr. Vida. Those four years at ISG were formative and extremely important since they played a huge part in molding me and shaping me into the person I am today, and the Vidas were a huge part of that.

Mr. Vida didn’t simply teach us Math. He did more than that. He was a mentor and a guide who helped his students realize their potential. He consistently encouraged us. This was especially poignant to me, a student who never really fit in with the “learn-by-rote” mentality of the Indian system of education. Oftentimes while I was wondering if something was wrong with me, he would remind me that no, there was nothing wrong, I was a smart kid, and that I was simply better at applying knowledge than regurgitating it (an opinion that was vindicated years later when I finally moved to the US for college and started acing my Math classes).

After 10th grade, Mr. Vida taught us English. He was as effective in English, as he was in Math. He didn’t limit himself to the syllabus, but deliberately went outside it. We would hold long discussions in class about the subtleties and nuances of the prose or poem we were examining. To help us understand our lessons better, he had us present plays on some of the subject matter. I fondly recall those after-school rehearsals, still.

I graduated high school in 1999 and Mr. Vida was there to congratulate me and everyone else. He told us how proud he was of us and that we would all go on to do great things. That was over 13 years ago. Over the years we kept in touch intermittently through email and eventually, Facebook. Mr. and Mrs. Vida moved to Australia and continued doing what they do best: teaching.

Then this morning I found out that Mr. Vida had passed away due to an accident. I read the words, but they didn’t register. The kind, intelligent, jovial man in my mind’s eye didn’t jive with what I was reading. I was shocked. Fate snatched an exceptional man away from us, before his time. Like I said before, Mr. Vida wasn’t just a teacher. He was an exceptional human being. He guided us without telling us what to do. He encouraged us and helped us along when we faltered. He was never one to patronize either. Even though we were still somewhat childish, he understood that we were on the cusp of young adulthood and treated us with respect, and without passing judgement. He was always there for us to turn to if we needed help. When I heard the news, long-dormant memories came flooding back: the laughs, the jokes, late-night Math tutoring sessions before exams, and especially before the 10th grade board-exams. The play rehearsals where we’d end up fooling around (much to Mr. Vida’s consternation) rather than doing anything useful. Cruel irony then, that these fond memories were now tinged with sorrow.

Mr. Vida, you were a wonderful teacher and you were an inspiration. I am honored to have been taught by you. You will be missed, but not forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cruz and Mrs. Vida in this difficult time.


Guru Brahma Gurur Vishnu
Guru Devo Maheshwaraha
Guru Saakshat Para Brahma
Tasmai Sree Gurave Namaha

Translation:
Guru is verily the representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
He creates, sustains knowledge and destroys the weeds of ignorance.
I salute such a Guru.

Pictures from our anniversary balloon-ride

I booked a balloon-ride for my wife and I for our second anniversary. It was the first time that both she and I had even been on a balloon. It was an awesome experience and a whole lot of fun. These are a few pictures from that trip. I’ve touched up some of these pictures with Picasa. I’m still learning and so I occasionally I’ll shoot something where the composition is ok, but the colors are all off. Still figuring out how to shoot things in different lighting conditions!

A few pictures from my vacation to Oman

Here are a few pictures from my vacation to Oman. I only wish I had longer that two weeks! I traveled with my wife, my best friend Michael, as well as my sister and her husband. We visited Nizwa, Muttrah, the Grand Mosque, as well as friends and family. The following pictures were taken with my Nikon D3000. I’ve made minor edits like straightening, or converting images to black and white. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

SETI Dog

Ham as SETI Dog

SETI Dog: Listens for signals from space

Note: This is Ham, my sister’s tri-color Beagle. He recently had an allergy to his collar and so my sister put the dog cone on him so that he wouldn’t scratch at his neck all the time. She also took pictures. This particular one made me laugh and so I made a poster out of it.

She Said Yes

Yes

She said, “Yes”. Although I guess it was never in doubt that she would say anything else (being a semi-arranged marriage and all), it still feels nice :). The official engagement ceremony was today. It was a traditional Nair engagement ceremony (known as a nischayam – literally translated, “decision”) where both families express their consent to the alliance and inform everyone in attendance of the same. I don’t have pictures of the ceremony on me; I’m waiting on the CD of photos from the photographers. This picture is from when I first gave her the ring.

Ten years

So ten years ago, I started college. Yeah. Ten years. I remember the ten years before that, and they seem very long compared to these last ten years that have gone by. As people always seem to say… it just seems like yesterday, and I can vividly remember each of these last ten years. It has been an amazing decade for me. Friendships that have been through a lot, that have gone through trying times, and that have come out stronger. Experiences that have shaped me and changed me, from a wide-eyed college-kid into an adult.

Five years ago, I made a similarly introspective post and I wondered where I would be five years from then. Well, so here I am. 27 years old… almost 28… I’m a veteran of a war and I’m finishing up my military service, I’m a citizen, I’m gainfully employed at a job that I absolutely love, I still own a house and a car, and finally, last but not the least, I have found that special someone I’ve been looking for my entire life (and let me tell you, she’s AMAZING). There were many times during the last ten years that were hard for me… but I somehow got through it all, and actually ended up on top when all was said and done.

Looking back at my early days in this country I laugh at myself when I think of how naïve I used to be. But I guess that’s a part of life and it’s probably something that everyone goes through. All in all, I think I’ve done pretty well for myself. So, here’s to another wonderful ten years.

The Problem with Shaadi.com

Arranged marriages are common among Indians. I’m not going to go into the merits and demerits of it; that’s not what this post is about. What I want to address is the problem with sites like shaadi.com that supposedly make it easier for Indian people to arrange these marriages. Now don’t get me wrong. There are many people who have met their soul-mates through shaadi.com (and similar sites). My sister met her husband through that. But the problem with these sites is that they are not geared towards the individual. Before I elaborate, we need to talk about what arranged marriages are, and why they are arranged.
Read the rest of this entry »

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope this year is better than the last. I’m in Irvine right now, with family. I won’t be back in AZ until the 4th. Looking forward to relaxing for a couple of days.

Sorry for the delay

I’m really sorry for not updating this journal for… well, seems like forever. I figured I’d start writing regularly but that turned out to not be the case. A few things got in my way. Ever since I started working at Infusionsoft, I’ve had less of a desire to come back home and sit at the computer… again. The reason being, that most of my code-cravings are taken care of at work. Seriously, I love it. As a result I don’t really feel like coming back home and sitting in front of the computer.

The second thing was that my parents were here for a long time, and so I was spending most of my time with them. Then what else… oh yes, there was a thunderstorm and the power went out and my server decided that it didn’t recognize the NIC it had recognized for the past four years. So I went and bought a new one, and as soon as I plugged it in, it recognized the old one. I love computers. Then of course, there’s the fact that I was just pretty lazy. For some insane reason I decided that I wanted to upgrade the server to FreeBSD 7.0 and then I kinda just dragged my foot on setting everything else up.

Finally, there was my getting deployed again. Yeah, you read that right. I was going to Iraq… again. I pretty much found out about it around the time of my WLC training. So there was all the preparation for that. I really wasn’t looking forward to going (who does, anyway?) but I figured I had to (all that duty stuff, raising my right hand, taking the oath). However a few weeks ago I found out that I really didn’t have to go. As it turned out it hadn’t been two years since I got back and so I had the option of not going. So I told my readiness NCO that I didn’t want to go. I have my career to think of, and I think one tour in Iraq is more than enough. I was pretty torn when I had to make that decision. It took me about half a second to decide what I wanted to do. Part of me almost wanted to say “yes”. But I think this is the better decision.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I’m alive and that I’m definitely going to try and write more frequently on this journal. I’m doing a lot of exciting things at work and I’d like to be able to write about them. So, until next time…

A lot of stuff

I didn’t update this site for a while because I had a lot of stuff going on. A lot happened towards the end of last year. My house was destroyed, and then it was rebuilt. While that was going on, I also lost my job when Intel decided to “redeploy” my entire group. I was offered an option to look for positions within the company, but I declined. I honestly wasn’t doing as much programming as I would have liked, so I decided to look for jobs outside Intel. I interviewed with Google and didn’t get in despite doing really well (their words) on the phone and in-person interviews. I got a call back from the recruiter who said that “although the interviewers really liked you and thought that you were incredibly smart and knowledgeable, they didn’t feel that your skills are a good match for the position”. I thought it was a standard “Thanks, but no thanks” response and I was a little disheartened. To be honest, my faith in my own skills and knowledge was a little shaken. I talk to my friend Iliyan (he works and google and he’s the one who actually referred me) and he said that they were actually telling the truth. Apparently, at Google they try to match you up pretty well with your job. If they feel that you don’t match up with the position, they don’t offer it. He said that if I had applied to Google and Mountain View, instead of Phoenix, I would have received an offer for sure. He also let them know that they made a mistake in not hiring me. Either way, I wasn’t all that depressed.

I got a few more offers and did a few more interviews before finally accepting a position at Infusion Software. They basically write CRM (Content and Resource Management) Software for small businesses. They are a relatively new company. I have been here for a month and I’ve been loving it since my first day. The first day I walked in, they basically said “Here’s your system. Pick an OS and install it and set up your development environment”. I was like “Awesome!”. Of course, I set up PC-BSD (which is basically a FreeBSD distro). The environment at Infusion Software is very energetic and fast-paced. The demographic is also rather young. During my interview they showed me around and when I got to the developer room, they showed me a projector and said “This is where we play Halo or Guitar Hero 3 when we need to take a break”. ‘Nuff said. I’m glad everything eventually worked out. I was rather stressed after my house got wrecked, and to add to it, I got laid-off. The way my friend Suhrid puts it. “You have the weirdest luck in the world. Really bad stuff happens to you, but then something really cool happens after that to make it better than before… you got to remodel your home for a great price, and you got a better job!”

My parents came down for a month at the beginning of January. My mom’s staying behind to help me set up the house. Of course, because of that I had to tell my girlfriend that she couldn’t come over anymore (this is all true, yes it is). Oh yeah, so I’m renting out my house. My parents had bought a house here that they don’t live in. So I’ve basically moved over there. It’s a bit of a drive to places, but nothing too bad.

Oh yes, I finally got to put my citizenship to use. Yes, I voted in the primaries. I registered as Republican so I could vote for Ron Paul. Let’s just say that I believe in a lot of what he says because I identify myself as Libertarian. I know a lot of people said that he wasn’t going to win, but that wasn’t the point. This country needs to change. It’s constitutionally a multi-party system, but the only parties that matter are the Republicans and Democrats and they haven’t been doing anything for this country. The current administration has done a great job of ignoring that piece of paper this country was founded up. The subtle erosion of Civil Rights alarms me. We need to remember what this country was founded upon. Honest, law-abiding citizens should have no fear of their government. That is why I support Ron Paul. It is besides the point that he didn’t win. We need to challenge the current situation. We need to change the current situation. Of course, the idiotic media ignored Ron Paul and didn’t even talk about him. Despite that, the man was able to garner a large and loyal following through the internet. What that says is that there are people who are willing to listen and who want to listen and who want change. The sad truth is that the people with big pockets, and big media exposure get all the attention, and not the people with the good ideas. I hope that in time his ideas will prevail. I hope in time Americans will realize that this country needs to get back to its roots.

That’s about it. I’m going to try and update this blog a little more frequently, but no promises.

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