30 Sept 2011

Teaching and learning

I liked to teach my classmates in school and college.  Most of my classmates seemed to like the way I taught.  They found it easier to understand things when I explained them.  I enjoyed explaining things to them too, so I never missed an opportunity to teach.

Since I liked teaching so much, I decided to teach at a local computer institute.  I taught things like BASIC, C, MS Office, etc.  It was all very interesting for a while.  And then suddenly one day it all started to be boring.  Unsurprisingly my students didn't seem to understand the lessons either.

Today, after about 11 years, I think I have an insight into it.  When I had just started working, I had to learn what I was teaching.  Everyday I'd learn something, and then explain the same to the students.  Very soon there wasn't anything new I had to learn to do my job.  My work was to simply repeat what I already knew.

Most of my teachers in college were hoplessly bad.  I think it was because they faced the same issue that I did: they weren't really learning anything new.  That gave the students a terrible learning experience, and probably made the teachers' jobs suck too.  An educational institution should employ as teachers only those who are themselves learning.  Because, like Steve Yegge said, the most important thing you learn in college is how to learn on your own, and you can't teach a kid to ride a bicycle at a seminar.

Asking right questions

You might have heard this.  A leader doesn't have to know all the answers; they only have to know to ask the right questions.

If you take a bunch of good developers and put them in a team without a good leader, you will end up with something like Opera.  But if you add a few good leaders to the same team, they will produce a Chrome.  A leader isn't necessary to make a few people's lives better or to get loyal fans who'd keep praising your work.  But you need leaders if you want to change the world.

Recently I have been catching myself ask irrelevant questions in meetings.  The coder in me has to understand all implementation details as we talk.  The impatient enthusiast in me has to immediately convey all cool ideas I can think of.  I think I am just a coder who can create Opera.  (FotoBlogr is one recent example.  My friend who uses it likes it a lot, but I have no clue how to make it useful for others.)

But... we learn most things by seeing others do them.  I now realise my questions are stupid mainly because I see others around me ask better questions.  I'm in the right place; I just have to learn from them.  This is my opportunity to learn the skill of asking good questions.  And eventually figure out how to build an app that's useful for more than one person.

25 Sept 2011

Quotes: The Madman

Khalil Gibran is an author I like.  I have apparently finished reading The Madman once, with some notes of quotable phrases I liked in the book.  But the beauty of such books is that one can read them several times over again, each time discovering new meanings that went unnoticed in previous reads.  Since I'll never be 'done' reading the book, I'm publishing the quotes now, after finishing just one pass through it.
  • Those who understand us enslave something in us.
  • Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.
  • And I love my Hell too well to have thee visit it.  I would be in Hell alone.
  • “The joy of scaring is a deep and lasting one, and I never tire of it.”
  • And what comfort is there for controlled desire and unspent passion?
  • But memory is an autumn leaf that murmurs a while in the wind and then is heard no more.

22 Sept 2011


If a picture is worth 1000 words, a piece of literature -- like a poem -- is worth several hours of video.


Self-doubting parents doubt their kids' abilities too.  Kids almost never fail to make their parents' doubts their own.

15 Sept 2011

I blog because

... writing your thoughts down as you're thinking is like going to a temple for a prayer.  You can sure pray wherever you like, but the prayer is easier and more effective in a temple.

8 Sept 2011

Good weather, bad weather

Sydney has a very pleasant weather today.  (I have never understood how "warm and sunny" is better than "slightly dark and cloudy".)  Just as I was thinking about this, the not-so-uncommon thought came: "what if all days were pleasant like this?"

First response my mind gave to that thought was something very common: if all days were like this, there won't be nothing "pleasant" about this weather.  And then came another (not-so-new to me) revelation.  I start to want this weather for everyday precisely when I am not thinking about the weather I am oh-so-happy about!  I reckon the thought process goes like this:
  1. Nice weather.  Happy about it for a few moments.  (Ain't it weird to be happy or unhappy about something like weather?)
  2. Mind goes "I like this weather.  Remember that bright sunny day that came in the middle of last week?  I hated it.  I'm glad the good weather is back now."
  3. "That bad weather last week... it's so bad I don't want it again.  I know it's gonna be here in another month when summer starts.  But I don't want it.  I want it to remain like this forever."
Stupid mind... even in good times, it has to fret over and fear bad times that would eventually come (albeit to stay only for a while)!

4 Sept 2011

The courage to wander

It was noon, maybe around 12.30.  We were on a newly paved road near some channel of Beas river, to the south of Manali.  I was tired, so pulled my bike over to rest for a bit.  My brother parked his bike near mine and we drank some water.  There was no shade, and the sun was hot; any other day we wouldn't stand under the sun like that to relax, but after a few hours' ride taking the jacket and helmet off and stretching our legs were indeed relaxing.  Occasional locals passing through the road gave us a strange look and just went by.

That day wasn't notable for anything that happened then.  That place wasn't notable for anything that happened there.  Yet, it's been etched in my memory and I keep thinking about it every now and then for more than a year.  And several other "ordinary" places too that I'd been to in some trip or other.  This is what travelling gives you.

When I was planning my Pilgrimage 2010, I heard other people's travel stories and thought maybe I am not the travelling kind because I don't do anything other people seemed to do.  I don't talk to the locals, unless they make an effort to talk to me.  I don't try a lot of local food.  I don't go to touristy places and take pictures.  I don't do anything adventurous.  But now, more than a year after my first ever long travel, I think travel is very personal and you do it in your own way.  Like a firang rolling dosas into burritos and still enjoying it.  There's nothing wrong or right.

I came to Australia wanting to travel.  It's been months and I am doing everything but leaving home.  Slowly I'm starting to get claustrophobic... I want to see the skies; I want to see the roads; I want to see the waters; I want winds all over me; I just want to get lost in this huge world.  Maybe I should just leave on a Saturday morning and just go to some place with no planning whatsoever.  The worst that can happen is, I might completely forget that trip in a few weeks.  But who knows, I might as well find my next Manali road that stays with me forever.  I just have to gather the courage to walk aimlessly on some random path.  I hope I do.

3 Sept 2011

The cooking saga begins

After starving for a few weekend days with absolutely nothing to eat[*], I gave in and ordered a microwave.  The oven got delivered yesterday, so on the way back from work, I bought some eggs and some milk for making coffee.  I had no idea what I'd do with the egg, but if at all I am cooking something, I wanted it to be egg.

I woke up late today, as it's usual for a Saturday, and made myself an instant coffee using the microwave.  Was wasting time on the web till 11.30 when I actually felt like some food.  With eggs and a microwave at my disposal, I decided to use the simple recipe I found on wikihow.

With almost nothing to add to eggs (apart from salt, which I remembered to buy yesterday) the eggs were a bit bland.  Well, actually it was too salty, but it'd have been nicer and better-looking if I had had some onions and green chillies.

Cooking is sure some work, but it's a lot easier than going out only to eat.  I guess I'll cook my breakfast over weekends going forward, mainly because it's simpler and I don't enjoy starving anyway :)

Now that the hunger god is pacified, I should go buy some essentials to make future cooking experience better :)

[*] I always have candies, ice creams, and some Indian snacks at home, but I don't eat them when I am hungry.  They are to eat when I am bored :)