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An Adventure…

One post a month was the frequency I used to blog at. Then one post a day. Today it has been two posts with the other one deleted…:P I would have stopped at one today too but I went through something incredible earlier this year that I have not talked about or blogged about. I somehow could not do it until now. The start of this story would be some where in 2004 when I wrote my GRE and was obsessed with the idea of pursuing my Masters. Of course then TCS came and took me away for a year. Somewhere before joining TCS and finishing my BE I had decided that I would like to do an MS starting 2006 in USA. Now lets fast forward a couple of years and see where I was. I was sitting in this small bright room which had tonnes and tonnes of books on shelves. It was my professor’s office. As usual whatever the professor was talking went over my head but he did agree to let me work with him. As many of them do, I started working on my thesis the next spring with him. Again lets forward a year or so. We started working on one research problem and though I made miniscule progress, I was not happy working on that problem and my professor was running out of patience as the results were not satisfactory. So we started working in a different direction and yet nothing happened. Things took a turn once I returned from my vacation in India when my professor suggested that since we have not made enough progress, may be we should re think our problem again and work on something totally new. I had by then resigned to the fact that as usual fate had chosen the tougher path for me while compared to the normal ones normally offered to others. All this while, one thing that I did not realize then, but do realize now was my professor did not lose patience with me. Of course we did have our share of arguments but what’s the fun in driving the normal route?Ā  šŸ˜› So now he suggested working on a totally new research problem and on a platform that I was comfortable with and also interested in. It was challenging as it involved Mathematics (my favorite). It was challenging as I was looking at problems from a new perspective. And best of all it involved a programming language I loved. So again work started, the formulation was done, initial simulation was done, we were happy with results, and I proceeded to the actual experiment. As a parallel process I had been searching for jobs for almost 6 months by then, attended some 40 odd interviews over phone and a couple of personal face to face meetings but yet an offer proved elusive. I was pretty much resigned to the fact that I might have to pack my bags after masters and think of some thing in India as I was not keen on a PhD and I also knew that I was neither diligent enough or brilliant enough for the same. So my experiments were an on off process as the equipment I used at times did not work at all. I was at wits end trying to make it work. Even my professor did agree that it was not working at times. Add to that a worsening job market which made me realize that I was running out of time. Thanks to one of my grad school senior I finally landed an interview with a growing start up in california. I was interviewed for an hour by this awesome and brilliant person and made to realize that whatever I thought I knew was not the end of the world and I had to learn a lot more. This was October 23 2008 if I am right. A week later as I was going from my lab to the DMV to get my license renewed I got a call from the very same person that they were offering me a job and yada yada. I literally screamed my head off and said “I do not even care about whatever you are going to pay me. All I need is a job and I am blindly signing on the offer letter.” Him being the patient man he is then retorted “Vishwajith that is not a professional way to accept your offer, you should have said OK, why don’t you mail me the offer I will look at it and get back to you, what if I say now that I have been joking all the while?” I replied “I hope whatever you just said is a joke and that the offer is the real deal.” He said yes and from there on started a totally different head ache. I had to wind up research and graduate. My professor though was in no mood to let me go that easily as he wanted a good thesis out of me. I wrote an entire thesis twice and it was rejected as pathetic. The equipment was not working, on the other hand my would be manager at work kept asking me when I was going to join. Thus resulted a hurried trip to the equipment manufacturers place, collect the data at their place, return, start working on the new data, get the results, though I had not completed the entire set of experiments my professor I asked me to. I wrote a new thesis again and sent it, this time my professor was irritated big time and asked me to spend proper time on it to write it. We reached a compromise that I would finish of my experiments and start working in California before coming back to get my research signed off with my committee. Now I informed about this plan to my manager and he was happy with it. But again there was a twist. Any student who gets a job here needs to apply for a work visa as you would all know. So I was warned by all and sundry that IF I did not submit my thesis by March 31 and get a letter from the graduate school then my visa application would be in trouble (the H1 B application process starts on April 1 and to call it a mad rat race is an understatement). The first two months at work went in me trying to satisfy my leads and bosses (after joining in late I had no choice). As March crept in I realized that I still was not fine with the thesis part. Yet my professor asked me to set a thesis exam date on March 27 and I had a committee too. March 27 again was a Friday. šŸ˜€ Till a week before that exam my thesis was basically screwed up. Whatever I came up with my professor just did not agree. He then asked me to make some formatting changes in the document and give it to him so that he can proof read it and email it with the corrections for each chapter. So again I had to take a day off at work much to my managers consternation and work on those changes. The rule is to send the thesis a week before at the least to the exam committee and here I was two days away from the exam working on it. That Wednesday I had to fly to the east coast for my exam and I took half a day off at work and was still busy working on the thesis when I realized that I had to prepare the powerpoint presentation. I was already late for my flight and was working on my thesis on the train to the airport. The flight was from SFO to Las Vegas to Charlotte to LEXINGTON KENTUCKY. Guess what, I missed my American airlines flight as I reached the airport just 15 minutes before take off and half an hour after the gates are closed. I begged and pleaded the authorities to fly me via some other route and they asked me to keep waiting at the gate till the next flight (to charlotte directly) that leaves. This flight would reach Charlotte in time for me to board my next flight to Lexington Kentucky and I still was parallel processing on the thesis and the ppt. Finally I emailed another draft of my thesis to my professor who said that this would be the final version as there was little time left. I also requested my lab mates to be present for a dry run of my actual presentation. So finally I was allowed to board the flight, and reach Lexington on time the next morning. From here on up to the exam everything went smoothly (apart from the dry run which had nervous me trying to figure out what I would talk about during the exam and how I would present my work). I passed the exam. But the adventure continued. I was supposed to get a letter from my Dean so that I would be eligible to apply for the visa. But then as luck would have it the Dean was travelling and was supposed to return only on Sunday. I pretty much gave up at this point and went ahead to have a dinner with my lab mates at a nice restaurant. My manager called me at that instant and asked me quite bluntly if I got the letter. When I said no, an awkward pause and a certain conversation that I choose to censor out followed. I then begged my professor to sign off my thesis which he did late Sunday night. Before that I contrived to miss my flight again out of Lexington KY that Sunday morning and had to endure a begging/pleading/requesting session with north west people before being re-routed via Detroit. In the mean time I informed my manager that I would be late to work on Monday, and so I sat formatting my thesis according the graduate school guidelines. Finally the dean did reply to my mail stating that he would ask the graduate school to expedite my process of adjusting the thesis according to their guidelines. Boy did they do that and did I need it. Monday still was March 30 and before end of day that day I got the Deans letter stating that I had completed the course requirements. I ran to work and gave the letter to my HR with a goofy smile as usual. The next day the graduate school too gave me a temporary letter stating my course requirements are done and dusted. My manager who had gone to NY to attend the board meeting returned and asked me a simple question “How irresponsible can you get, to delay submitting your thesis, miss the flight on both the directions on your trip to take up an exam?” I just mumbled that things got twisted every possible way and with a hint of shame I added that I would try to be more responsible. If my entire Masters was one roller coaster ride, then the last one month of it before my thesis exam was like one of those individual roller coaster rides that I experienced at Cedar Point, Ohio. For now read this and think of a superlative for irresponsible so that I would fit that category. If there was an irresponsiblest then that would fit me I suppose. šŸ˜€


6 responses

  1. quite an adventure indeed šŸ™‚

    i love math too šŸ™‚

    December 11, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    • viswajithkn

      Yeah…somehow i liked that period and loved the roller coaster it took me. It resulted in increased tempers, bp etc etc for quite a few people. Yet it was fun.

      December 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm

  2. Sigh, when we were students, we couldn’t wait to start earning and become independent. Now that we are, we miss the good old carefree days, no?

    December 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    • viswajithkn

      It was fun…The grass is always greener on the other side!

      December 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm

  3. awesome header!

    December 12, 2009 at 7:35 am

    • viswajithkn

      thank you thank you…thats what returning from work at 10 does to me and thats how addictive blogging has become..

      December 12, 2009 at 7:36 am

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