2012, YOU WERE AWESOME - Part I

Sorry Blog, I have not been here for a long time.

With just a day and a half left in this year, in a true engineer style, I am here to recap this wonderful year. It was the best year I have ever had. Too much has happened in this year to review in a single post. Each event deserves a post for itself.


The year started out with preparations for the technical fest of our college, in between participating in technical fests of other colleges. The ones in which I participated were very memorable. I talked about them in a previous post. Soon enough, preparations for the placement season started. In between, me and a couple of my friends started work on an ambitious project which we did not see to the end, which is the case with me every single time. This is one thing I really want to change about myself. No one can match my enthusiasm with which I begin things, but I falter midway and leave the task completely. I have truly lost count of such occasions.


Last year, I lost 3 weeks due to Dengue. Since then, I have been more serious about my academics. I put in hard work for the sixth semester, and though my exams did not go as well as I expected, it was my best ever performance, 76 percent. It feels nice to get to 76 after I started out with 61 in the first semester.


Summers were supposed to spent at home studying hard for the interviews. But I came across a Summer School for Advanced Natural Language Processing to be held in the mecca of Computer Science in India - IIIT-Hyd. I had a basic knowledge about NLP from a course that I had partially done on Coursera.  I applied for it only half expecting to get a call. I woke up one morning to find an email in my inbox extending a cordial invitation. I was happy beyond words that morning. I still had to convince my parents to let me go. It wasn't easy as I had never traveled outside Delhi and never stayed independently outside home too. Convincing my father was not difficult. Though my mother was reluctant initially, but a few carefully crafted words from me, she also gave me the green light. Soon after that, the flight ticket for going and train ticket for coming back was booked. I was so thrilled for the first independent twenty days of my life. Independent travel and independent stay.


I left on my my birthday, 1 July and came back on 21st July. I had the time of my life. I was fortunate enough to have two great roomies and a 4th person too who was there with us mostly. The 4 of us had a great time enjoying during the day, and the project work would be done after 10 in the night for a few hours. I will always fondly cherish the memories made in the time spent with those 3 people. One was a Mtech student, a very sincere one with a very clear heart. I am still in touch with him and treat him as an elder brother. Another was a Ph.D. student who was married and had a child too, he was mischievous and I never had a boring moment when he was around. The fourth was a Associate Professor who lived life in king style. He was a very pragmatic person and always made all of us laugh and was generous enough to pay for our evening chai. Hyderabad was a lot of fun.


When I returned, the placement season was merely 10 days away. I prepared whatever little I could. The season lasted just a fortnight for me and on 14th August, on the eve of Pakistan's Independence Day, I got independence from the placement season by getting placed in Deloitte. Last year when companies had come for internships, I had reached the GD round in Deloitte and could not proceed further. In the summers once, I jokingly said to myself that I will make it into Deloitte come what may. Many people thought that it was my dream company as I did say this a couple of times. This year, I had read a lot of theory about what to do in a GD. Thankfully, I could do in the GD whatever I had planned. Some credit should be given to the fool in our group who suggested that we should decide before hand in which order we should speak in the GD and the other fools who accepted this idea. I was quick enough to raise my hand for being the first speaker. A poor presentation round and a terrific interview later, I was one of the 18 who were selected that day by Deloitte. One of my better friends hugged me and lifted me in air, and it had sunk in that the placement season was over.


I have been told many times that I deserved more than this. I myself have thought about it but only a few times and I try not to pay much attention to this.


I did not rest for a single day as I back to studying the next day. I sat for 4 more companies - Directi, Aspiring Minds, Epic and WNS. Just the day before I got placed in Deloitte, I almost got placed in Oracle. I had cleared the technical interview easily, and HR interview could not happen as the HR guys had to rush back to the office for some work and the final HR interview was scheduled one week later. But luckily, I got placed the very next day.


I have not talked much about the my placement season and the placement season in general. I will do it in another post soon.


Towards the end of the year, there was another happy moment awaiting me. We programmers have our own Olympics - ACM ICPC. It is held once each year and until last year, only a couple of teams used to qualify from our college for the regionals. My team did poorly in both the online prelims. We were really sad for not making it to the regionals. A few days after the second regional, I was busy chatting with a friend at 3 in the night when I received an email that my team had qualified for the Kharagpur regionals. I do not remember being more happy ever. I wrote down a hundred Hindi expletives to a friend who was in my team and was online that time. I could not believe my luck. We had finished in the top 40 teams which participated in the online prelims. That night, I really wanted to wake up my friend due to which we had cleared the prelims but he was in deep sleep and responded to none of my many calls. I messaged him to call me as soon as he got up in the morning.


We were really happy and excited about the trip. That we would end up in the 35-40 range in the final result finally was a foregone conclusion. But we were excited about the trip which would involve 2 days in train and 3 days in hostel. We did not care about what rank we got. There was another team from our college who made the trip more memorable. We did not sleep early at night while going in train. I did not sleep at all. Before we all went to our seats, we talked a lot in the darkness of the train and disturbed the sleep of all those around us in the radius of 30 seats. One aunty specially came to us and said, "Thanks for talking so much. I really enjoyed." We still do not know if she was being sarcastic or if she really meant it. We placed our bets on the latter.


Someone up there keeps special care of me. We solved two problems in a very difficult problem set and finished at the 15th spot. We really could not believe it. The joy of seeing the green balloon on submission of a correct solution is simply unmatchable and we had twice that day. We even solved a problem which the top six ranked teams could not. There was only one other team in the contest which could solve it. Even before sleeping when I asked my friend that day, he too could not believe that we had really finished at such a rank.

I was floating in seventh heaven for the next many days to come. It is one of the greatest achievements of my life.


The year had already turned out to be my best ever. But one last good news awaited me. There was a company which came to our campus for hiring winter interns. The profile which they offered - Data Scientist, has been my dream job for the last many months. I really wanted to get the intern, but there was this problem that if I took up an intern, I would not be able to do many things in the two months - like taking part in my cousin's marriage celebrations, outings with my friends on weekdays, participating in technical and cultural fests. On one hand, all this and on the other, a chance to go into the field which has been my dream for too long. I finally left it to my fate and decided that I would be happy with whatever outcome the next day had. There was this one thing which was common on the night before Deloitte interviews and WNS. I was not sure if I wanted to get into Deloitte as there were better companies that would come later. But I left it to destiny. The result was the same both times.


There was a written exam which I almost topped. It was followed by a programming problem which was solved only by me. The interview was only to be a formality after this but that is not what one thinks before the interview. I had a short interview after which I was confident that I would make it.

I did.
And I am writing this blog post in my office.

Quora has been an important part of my life this year. I have spent a lot of time on it. For those of you have not heard of it (go check it out) - it is a site where people pose questions of all types and relevant people answer them brilliantly. The upvotes please me very much.


I have had a lot of fun watching all the seasons of Arrested Development and Game of Thrones and I love talking about them, especially the latter. I love the music of the show - starting from the theme at the starting, to the background score and the different theme which comes at the end of every episode. I love the many endearing characters in the show. I have never had an experience with fantasy since I have not completed the Harry Potter books nor I have seen or read Lord Of The Rings but I really am impressed by the world and characters George Martin has created. I cannot wait for the 3rd season to begin.


A under-rated fact this year is that I have been not been sad very often. I remember just one moment and that too pretty recent. My friends went out one day without me. Though I understand that I had my intern, and that one or other thing always comes in the way of an outing and that everyone else was ready that day, but still, Dil Toh Bachha Hai Jee.


This year had been a different year for me. I have done less of everything that has defined me over the years. I have heard much less of music that I have in the previous years. Over the years, I have spent a lot of time travelling alone in buses and metro and thinking about anything under the sun. This year, I have not been traveled alone a lot. I have not gone to walk at midnight which I had been regularly doing since many years. I have never liked sleeping. I have always thought that it robs us of the time which we can spend living. But this year I have slept very much.


This year has been a marathon. Running from one post to the other, not getting time to reflect. Fest preparation, fest participation, mid-semester exams, end-semester exams, placement preparation, summer school, placement season, mid-semester exams, competitions, end-semester exams. I have been thinking since six months about coming here to this blog and writing all that has ensued, but I have kept running. Only on this final day, I have got down to penning my thoughts about this year.


I hope to see things to their completion in this year, something which I have not never been able to do. I hope to run less in 2013 and beyond and look around myself more.


I want to end with a song I love. I cannot explain in words what I feel when I listen to this song. I feel that all the truth which is there to know in life, has been condensed into this beautiful song, especially the last para.


Wahan kaun hai tera, musafir, jaayega kahan,

Dam lele ghadi bhar, ye chhaiyaan, paayega kahan,

Beet gaye din, pyaar ke panchhin,

Sapne bani voh raatein,
Bhul gaye voh, tu bhi bhula de,
Pyaar ki voh mulaaqaatein, pyaar ki voh mulaaqaatein.
Sab door andhera, sab door andhera,
Musafir jaayega kahan.

Koi bhi teri, raah naa dikhi

Nain bichhaye na koi,
Dard se tere, koi naa tadpa,
Aankh kisi ki na royi, aankh kisi ki naa royi,
Kahe kisko tu mera, kahe kisko tu mera,
Musafir jaayega kahan.

Musafir, tu jaayega kahan.


Kehte hain gyaani, duniya hai faani,

Paani pe likhi likhaayi,
Hai sabki dekhi, hai sabki jaani,
Haath kisi ke na aayi. haath kisi ke naa aayi,
Kuch tera na mera, kuch tera na mera,
Musafir jaayega kahan.

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