On Education

One of the things I was contemplating doing recently was joining Teach For India. It is a wonderful organization dedicated to improving education in India. They teach children and have a 2 years fellowship where you learn to teach and teach.


To join one step was to write 3 essays on three different topics. Here is one I wrote:

I have always had a desire to get into educating children. Teaching for me is one noble profession. You are just not educating the children to be better at their studies, you are also giving valuable life lessons for them to grow up to become better human beings. Teachers are role models. I still fondly remember many of my teachers, from whom I have learned so much. They are one big reason why I have been successful in life.

I had an excellent education and I believe every child deserves the same. There is extreme poverty all over India and one big reason is education. When children do not have basic education. It is very difficult for them to improve their lives and those of their family when they grow up. Once you do not have an education you also lack ambition sometimes. The reverse is with good education you know you can achieve so much more. Basic education for me is not just when a child can read, write, do the math, learn about science, history, geography, etc, but also when a child can solve problems logically, use their brain creatively. The child has to be able to think out of the box, their thoughts should not be limited to certain textbooks only.

My background is in software engineering. I think my experience in software and current technology would benefit students greatly. I would be able to not only teach the course but also give a fresh perspective to the students. Just like in the software industry where you have to constantly be updated to the new technologies. I believe that the education industry has to constantly try to improve ( which Teach For India is already doing). One way is to embrace more technologies and have a better understanding of it to prepare the students for the future world.

My goal during the 2-year fellowship is to learn how to teach better and then to implement it and try to improve the education of children. After the 2 years, I intend to keep educating in some form and find other ways to contribute like using my software knowledge.

PS: I did not go through with the application eventually, tabling the idea for now.



I would not call myself a lucky person. I have never won any lottery. In Chinese New Year, whenever I had played the card game 21, I had lost most of the time. Any game involving luck, I am just not very good at it. So I avoid it, I do not gamble, even a small amount for fun. Luck does not seem to be on my side.

Saying that in any game which involves luck there is a mathematical probability that you should win at some point, that is if you play long enough. Of course, the gambling rule is the house always wins. If you play long enough, in general, you might win some but you will lose most of the time. The exception is, if you are a really lucky person, then the probability changes.

One of my friends religiously plays a lottery game, called ‘Pick 4’. The idea is simple, you buy a ticket which is valid for the day, you pick 4 numbers. Everyday day, 4 numbers are generated in the lottery system. If all numbers match and in that order you win the big price, if not in the order you win lesser but still a decent amount.

So he has been playing every day the same set of numbers for over a year. Logic(probability) would say, that series of numbers will come up at some point. Now we were spending the afternoon together, a phone call comes up and my friend gets a call from another of his friend who knows his habit with the lottery. He says your number has come up, the friend checks the website and yes those numbers have won.

Instead of joy, he starts cursing. Guess what he did not buy a lottery ticket today! He has spent a year with it, and the day he does not buy, that number shows up. Luck, sometimes you just don’t have it.

Educated fool

I have a scooter which needed the pollution to be checked to get the pollution certificate. Since it was not updated for a long time, the person who does the checking told us to go to the Motor Vehicle office to get it fixed as his system said that my scooter details were not updated, so he was not able to check it.

Generally, whenever you have to go to the government office to get things done, it is complicated to do, lots of processes, lots of running around different places, time-consuming. So the easy way out is to pay some agents to do the work for us.

So me and my cousin went to the office, we were told before this work did not cost us any fee. When we arrived at the entrance we were immediately surrounded by a few people who told us that they would do the work for us, we would just need to pay additionally 100Rs for their service. This sounded us to be a good deal( wrong), as we were not familiar with the process to do the task. If these people would do at that cost, it was well worth it. So I provided them with the Scooter Smart card, for them to find out the details of the case and how to fix it.

After some time, they came back with a list of issues with my scooter. They said that there were pending cases with the scooter so fine had to be paid, the scooter details were blocked in the system so they have to unblock it, they also had to update the system with the scooter details. Everything would cost us 6000+, we suspected they were making things up, as if there were cases against the scooter, we would have received a message for it. We argued for some time, then told them to just do the minimum necessary so we could get the pollution check done. They said it would need an update in the system, and it would cost 2000Rs, they would provide a receipt for it. So I thought this was reasonable( wrong again) and gave them the money.

After some more time, they came back and told me I had to go to one office, and provide the xerox of the smart card, and provide other information to the officer. One reason you pay these people is so that you do not have to stand in line for hours to eventually get the thing done. They should have internal contacts and thereby get it done without any hassle. I was told to stand in line, saying only 10 people in front of me, and it would be very quick. At this point, I had a feeling that these people were fooling me, as they did not seem to have done much. Anyway, I stood in line, found out there were more than 30 people in front. All of them came for the same reason but I was guessing they did not go through these people. I had to wait in line for 1 hour plus, already frustrated, then when I reach the end, the officer looked at my papers and said I had to get an additional certificate from the scooter maker(Honda), then come back again!

This got me upset as I wasted all my time in the queue, I would have to get back in it again. One reason you pay agent is, they would know the full process, know all papers required, so you would not need to run around to find out if you did it by yourself. I found these guys and again argued that they wasted my time and I would have to get back in the queue, and since the closing time was arriving the thing would not be done. They told me when I get back they would put me right in front of the queue so I did not have to wait( guess what wrong again).

I went to Honda and got the certificate and came back, these people took me in line and told me to go in front, I went in front but already knew none of the people who were in the line already for hours, would entertain the thought of me getting in front. The agent had already by now left. I did not argue much.

I went to the end of the line and waited for another one hour plus, hoping the office would not close and I would then need to come back another day to this all over again. Thankfully, the officer extended the office time, and I eventually got things done.

Later I found out from my cousin, as he talked to a few people who had done the same thing that there was no requirement of money. Of Course, by now I could not track any of the agents, they had all left for the day. I had been fooled.

My cousin commented “Bhai, what happened to your education”

The difficult thing about teaching is learning

I always fancied myself as a teacher, and do like the concept of teaching. I consider it still one of the few noble professions, where people in general still respect. The idea of imparting knowledge, wisdom to another person especially to kids is powerful.

I have over the years taught a few kids as tuitions, with mixed results. Some did well, some did not. Other than those small experience I have had not much. The idea though always interested me. So an opportunity came where an NGO called Blue Turtle, needed a computer teacher and I agreed to do it. I started teaching computers on Saturday.

One issue I face is the interest from the children to learn, many times you see in their eyes/ body language that they are just not interested in learning or learning that topic which is being taught. It becomes difficult to teach if your student does not want to learn. You lose your motivation to teach them also after some time. The challenge is trying to make learning interesting.

Many times the topics are difficult to understand for a kid. So they tend to give up, and unless forced will not want to learn them. Here you try to simplify the complex topics so it becomes easier to digest for them. Once they start getting it, the interest comes more naturally. As a teacher, the way you teach is also a learning experience in itself, something works for some students and sometimes it does not for others. If I am to succeed I have to learn quickly as to how to teach. The good student is easy to teach to get better. The real challenge comes with the weaker students, can I bring them up a few levels. Can I make them want to learn? That is the question I will probably try to find an answer in the next few months or even years.

Pokemon GO

My latest addiction is this game. I remember it became a huge rage some 3 years back when it was first launched. One of the reasons it became popular was because a lot of people were going to great lengths just to just catch some Pokemon! Like people would often trespass to some private property. Hugh number of people would travel long distances. There are several funny videos on the net to see this kind of craziness for a game.

The game is simple, and anyone can start playing without knowing much. You just have to travel distances and catch digital creatures called Pokemon, with throwing a ball(Pokeball) at it. Once you exhaust the Pokeballs you have, you can get more by visiting PokeStops. These PokeStops are situated in different parts of the city. For example, a metro station might have a Pokestop. The game is location-based, played in the virtual world of an actual street map. So imagine Google map, you can see the roads and if you walk, you can see your progress in the virtual map. Just add Pokemons, PokeStops to it, and that is the game. You walk to collect Pokeball, you walk, you find Pokemon then try to catch it. Simple and a lot of fun. Of Course, there is more complexity to the game, once you are more familiar with it, you will learn more about making friends, sharing gifts, fighting battles with other Pokemon, etc.

I am no good with video games, it’s something to do with patience and/or my lack of eye finger coordination. Last time I played a virtual game at length was Age of Empires which was more than a decade ago. This game is perfect for me, I play at a leisurely pace. No super skill is required, just willingness to travel which I do a lot anyway. It still does not fully explain why I am becoming addicted to it. Maybe the simple task-reward nature of the game suits my taste. Maybe the pseudo-social nature of it, you do make friends in the game and help each other but everyone uses alias and real identity is never known. It could also be the adventure aspect of it where you keep looking and suddenly find a new Pokemon. Bottomline for a person who does not play any virtual game I play this game a lot. Which is starting to worry me 🙂

There is a downside to this game, since it is location-based, it needs you to always provide your location. If you are a privacy focus then this might be a no-no for you. For me the fun I have with it, I am OK with that trade. (hoping in future I don’t find news that it has been used inappropriately 🙂 ). I like it so much that I recently spent 29 Rs to buy 100 PokeCoins!!


“What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we will mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that, if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories? In these stories, it doesn’t matter who the heroes are. All we want to know is who is to blame.”

Just finished watching the mini-series, it’s a must watch, high-quality stuff. I must say HBO is making some very good shows. What I like about the show is the drama created is very intense, you are instantly intrigued from the start, and the pace keeps up right till the end. The production quality and acting are superb. The other thing I like about it is, it is thought-provoking.

We have all heard read about the Chernobyl disaster, but for most people, like me, we do not realize the magnitude of the disaster, the high cost and the danger which was avoided. This brings the Chernobyl disaster into better perspective for me. I read about it a bit, even though it has some fiction in it. I will say it is an important work, which hopefully more people see it.

It is especially important now, cause if you look at the world now, it is full of lies/fake news/propaganda. It caused the Chernobyl disaster to happen then, and we are going to have another disaster if we do not do something about it. If we just let lies win, it will happen. For example, take something like climate change. It is a fact, it is a disaster waiting to happen if we do not do enough. But here also lots of lies are spread, and if powerful people like Trump who has large followers keep at the lies, keep disbelieving, then we are going to build this up and over time another disaster will happen.

“Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt is paid.”

What I listen to

The good thing about a long commute between home and work is that you have lots of free time which you can utilize to good use. One way I utilize that time is to listen to music and podcast. I love listening to these, here is a list of current favorites.



Gaana is great if you love music and spend lots of time listening to it. It is cross-platform, so I can access it on the web and as an app on my phone. I use to use the free version which was great, but now I pay for the subscription which cost me 200 Rs for 6 months. It is a great deal for me as its cheap, there are no ads, also the feature to download music and listen offline is very useful, as there are many places like metro where the net is weak.



This Week in Tech

I love Twit, I listen to many of their shows regularly. My favorite among them is This week in tech. The show is produced very well, Leo is a great host, and generally, they bring a lot of very good guest. The conversation is often insightful, interesting and fun. They also dig deep into topics I have interest in.



This Week in Google

This is the second show I regularly listen to on Twit. It is very similar to TwiT, only it is more focused on Google and has fixed guests. Jeff Jarvis and Stacey Higginbotham both are great and gives interesting perspective in the show.



The Filmcast

Watching films is one of my favorite pastimes. I also like reading, listening to it. I found this podcast after listening to a few others, and I like this one more because of how the three guys talk about it. They talk about the latest movies and reviews them, the conversation is interesting and fun.



The Rewatchables

Similar to Filmcast podcast this one also has great hosts who talk in depth about a movie. Its USP is it selects movie based on how rewatchable it is. We all have our old favorite movies which we rewatch multiple times. This is great as basically, they are talking about those special movies. I discovered many good old movies which I have not to watch before.