Ain’t so Easy to Write a Bad Romance

This is my contribution to my hostel’s entry for the inter hostel creative writing contest, uploaded mostly as a backup.   We were supposed to hand in one broadsheet with certain required elements. The basic idea for our entry is that it’s a scrapbook kept by a woman in New York whose fiance went off to London to be an editor at a newspaper at around 1911-1912, consisting mostly of letters that he sent her and lots of other little tidbits. There’s really not a whole lot else in the story that you need to know, I think. We took a bit of a gamble in having the real weight of the entire theme rest on the last sentence of the last letter, which I wrote and which is posted below. There were two other letters and a clipping from an editorial that the man wrote (it was one of the required elements). Warning: It’s quite a bit over the top with the lovin’, so if you’re in a particularly cynical mood you might want to give this post a miss 🙂 .

April 9th, 1912


My landlady does not believe in the luxury of a log fire come April, and so I write with shivering hands on this unnaturally cold night, longing for the warmth of you held close to me… ah, the memory is enough to lift the cold. Things are going quite well. I remember your apprehensions about my journey here, and how silly they do seem now-the people are ever so kind, and the opportunities ever so much more here than they could be for me back home.

Mr. Davis at the office has very kindly allowed me 2 whole months off, as there are no pressing matters at present. The suffragette movement is in full swing here, but it does not appear to have much popular support, as evidenced by the increasingly desperate acts of its supporters, and in any case my employers do not think anything will come of it. I am less skeptical; it seems rather outrageous to me that women have been denied the vote even this far into the Age of Reason, and sooner or later this must be rectified. Perhaps I speak from liberal naivete and my inexperience of city politics, though, and this is just another ill-fated movement that nobody will remember ten years hence.

Lord Sheperd, my father’s friend (you will recall my mentioning how helpful he has been, helping me navigate through the absurd theatre that is London society, as appreciative as it is of my humble talents) took me to see the house I hope we can call our own. Of course I cannot yet afford one in his neighbourhood, but it is a charming area nonetheless- indeed, it is quite ideal, a haven of quiet in this crowded, smog-filled city, with the only disadvantage being the rather bohemian neighbours, whom we should hardly mind. Indeed, they will be a welcome change in this stodgy city. It is small, but it should be sufficient for our needs. It has the most wonderful little yard; no sooner did I enter it than a vision appeared to me of a sweet young child, our own if God grants it, playing on a ramshackle swing, and I knew that this was the place we should call home. I have already made an offer, and I feel we should be quite happy there.

Tomorrow I will board for “back home”, as I still call it. Yet I hope that this soon may change, for home is where the heart is, and my heart is ever with you; and when I return you will at last be by my side, as my wife. Every hour, every minute, every beat of my heart I long for you, and the closer I come to meeting you the harder it gets. I try to work, but my mind will not stay- I care not for my thoughts, unless they are thoughts of you. Blake was right- there is an eternity in every hour that I am apart from you, and I have been condemned to this lonesome purgatory for all of them. I find your likeness in everything I see; your face lies hidden behind every cloud and you dance in every flame. Every note I hear sings out for you; every robin’s trill, every nightingale’s song. I keep telling myself that you cannot possibly be as fair as I think you to be, that my mind is simply toying with me, that no mortal woman could be to mortal man all that you are to me, and yet it will not be quelled.

You will wait for me on the pier, won’t you? I will wait as long as I must, but to wait an instant more is sheer folly. Your friends will call it eagerness, I suspect, but what if it is? There are worse sins. Tomorrow I shall board the Titanic, and in a week my torment shall be at an end.

Yours in every way,

Yes, I know: Lester. But whatever. Also, read that last line again.

There’s also a poem that I wrote for inclusion in another letter, because the guidelines required a poem.  I’m actually quite proud of this, considering I wrote the whole thing in little over half an hour.

Love catches up to me in the middle of the street
and strikes me down,
and carries me away across the water.
Love guards my back as I prepare for bed,
fighting off Time as it gnaws away at my memories.
Love knocks me off my feet as I rush to work,
and overwhelms me with your sweet scent
(lavender, and jasmine, and something I can never place)
Love sets me afire and takes no note of my objections;
it knows nothing of delayed gratification,
and it is never in mind to learn.
Love is in no mood to wait, yet wait it must,
and it is tearing me apart;
and I can do naught but watch.



From , via Greg Mankiw.

Degrees Degrees
Annual pay for Bachelors graduates without higher degrees. Typical starting graduates have 2 years of experience; mid-career have 15 years. See full methodology for more.

I mean, yes, that Aero charts highest is a surprise, but even so. Divide by 5 for median IITian salaries, I guess (and then multiply by something if you want PPP values, so it might not be that bad), and divide by another 1.5 for salaries from most engineering colleges. I find it surprising that Finance is 16th or so (click on the link for the full list), although that might be a classification thing, given that “Economics” is just below Elec.

[SPOOF] Quote of the Week: A Futile Attempt

Dhoni, reacting to the loss*, displayed his well-known calm demeanour, saying “This happens in cricket. You win some, you lose some. If we exit the tournament early, we’ll use the opportunity to prepare for the Ashes. “When a reporter pointed out that India wasn’t even playing in the Ashes, Dhoni retorted, “So what? In India, thousands of students prepare for the IIT entrance exam, even though they have no hope of joining IIT. We are merely upholding this tradition.”

*I don’t know exactly what loss either, because I have never cared, but for non-Indian viewers, the fact that he’s the cricket captain and the Twenty20 thingie is going on implies he’s talking about cricket.

PS: OK, I was a little out of it when I put this up.

Redirect: on Reservations

To The Slow Painful Death of Secularism, mostly because I’ve left a pretty huge comment there, in response to another even larger comment. The post isn’t actually as dramatic as the title sounds, just the prestidigitator expressing his surprise and dismay in a few short paragraphs over the new reservations policy, and the remarks of a priest at a televised debate over the NRP. It’s mildly interesting. Far more serious to me, of course, is the utterly dimwitted plan to put reservations for FACULTY at the IITs, IIMs, and IISc s, something that i sincerely hope will only be phased in after I graduate. Here’s a link to the story. Here’s a link to a petition to revoke the above idiotic proposal, although I doubt it will do any good. On the other hand, taking the 1 minute to express your sanity might make you feel a little better.

Just in case the idea does NOT strike you as ridiculous, recall that faculty reservations will have a much more severely degrading influence on the academic quality of the institute, with a substantially reduced possible benefit (being restricted to the few additional, unqualified new lecturers), as compared to student reservations. Which is something else I don’t like, but more because they’re unfair than because they are clearly ridiculous. But I digress. Even if one is willing to accept that students who score far lower than their peers on the selection test will do as well given proper training, it is easy enough to see that both groups of students will suffer immensely without it. And the chances are far higher that a lecturer selected on the basis of caste will do a much worse job than one selected on the basis of merit. I’m not saying it’s impossible for someone selected on the basis of caste to do the job as well as existing faculty, simply that its less likely. And given that this decision will help only a few backward caste academics, probably at the expense of the far greater number of students in all the premier institutes, the (damn it, I AM going to say it!!!) brightest minds of the country, wouldn’t it make sense to be a little less haphazard?

Another important factor is that most IIT faculty (at least, the ones I know) have taken significant pay cuts to work in what they consider an institute of academic excellence, in the company of the BMotC. They work  because of their belief that they are doing something for the country, for the students, and for science and learning in general. Take away that belief, and then we’ll REALLY be f*cked.

Just my two cents. I expect a quick search will deliver far more detailed criticisms( my own quick search didn’t find many endorsements, but I’m sure they are out there as well). Am home, so posting frequency will be reduced.