When I was in class 7-10, apart from liking Science and Maths, which I am pursuing today, I loved Social Studies and English classes too. On the other hand, a large chunk of the student population seemed to think that these were a mere waste of time for those who were going to pursue only Science and Maths in the future. Their point seemed understandable at that time, given the amount of memorizing involved in Social Studies and the general difficulty with mastery in English, that was being enforced as the first language as opposed to regional languages/Hindi. Now, after almost 8 years since I passed class 10, I have come to realize the importance of having these subjects.

A recent chat with a friend brought memories of the wonderful times during History classes. There would be open questions thrown at us at the beginning of every chapter, one that encouraged us to transport ourselves back to the past and contemplate. These sort of things really helped when studying-  the subject no longer required to be memorised, rather it was about putting down all that I felt and experienced, having mentally gone back in time. Setting exams aside, I realize that these classes played a more important role. They paved the way for us to develop opinions and defend them, gave the confidence to put together our thoughts in a way that others could understand and appreciate it, it was the first step in moulding us into independent thinkers.

Read the rest of this entry »


I wrote this post for the bi-monthly magazine of our college- The Daily Bitsian. Even though the context of the article is set amidst a BITSian environment, do give it a read.

The Daily Bitsian

For a long time now, technical has come to be associated with Robotics, Coding competitions, ATV competitions and the like. Amidst all the technical talk, somewhere hidden, lies an altogether different world called Research. The difference between building  a robot, quadcopters, competitive coding etc and formulating and solving a research problem is evident right from the learning phase. Tools and tutorials required for the former are readily available on the internet whereas the latter involves literature survey and reading and comprehending research papers . The first step in itself sounds daunting to most and suffices to turn people away.  If it is so scary, how is it that some people have managed to get going? This is where the mentor steps in. The mentor plays  a  crucial role in guiding a student along his/her research path and making the experience enjoyable and fruitful.

This article is all about…

View original post 911 more words

The recent Chennai floods, Facebook posts regarding the same and also those unrelated to it set in motion a chain of thoughts that have prompted me to write this article.

As Chennai reeled under a disaster of sorts, partially due to the unprecedented rainfall and mostly as a consequence of improper urban planning, the city witnessed unity and support from its residents. Countless volunteers worked hard to help those in distress and restore normalcy. At the same time, there were a number of posts criticizing the neglect shown by the national media and those that went on to hail the citizens for having risen to the occasion independently. It was heartening to see people put aside all differences particularly in the backdrop of debates regarding the rise in intolerance in the country. However, to claim that this happened only in Chennai, as some of them went on to say on social networking sites, may not be correct. In July 2005, Mumbai witnessed a torrential downpour creating a standstill situation in one of the busiest cities in the world. The media and the government certainly played their roles in Mumbai; however, the city also witnessed several acts of humanity just as in Chennai. Perhaps, these instances may have gone unreported due to the absence of social media at that time. I distinctly recollect reading in the children’s magazine ‘Tinkle’ about one such instance where stranded school children were taken to a house, given food, clothing and shelter till the water began to recede.

Read the rest of this entry »

College life and all that…

Posted: December 6, 2015 in College, Inspiration

With my end-semester exams more or less out of the way, I had a chance to spend time with some of my crazy friends yesterday. Though I still have at least one more semester on campus, a few of them are not going to be here next semester and will be leaving campus with their bags and baggage in the next few days. This post is a mixed bag of thoughts centered around the past 3 years in college, what’s in store for us in the coming days and what it feels like to be parting ways.

Every single person who has stepped out of the comforts of home has grown from being a pampered kid to an independent and a confident individual and I am no exception. Staying away from home has first and foremost taught me to be independent, make proper use of the freedom available and simultaneously respect the freedom of others around me. This learning process was largely aided by a set of friends and acquaintances over the past three years. Just like most people in residential colleges, I have a group of very close friends too, a group that came to be formed primarily because we were allotted rooms in the same corridor. We are as different as 7 people could possibly get and yet today, each of us draws inspiration from the other, celebrates other’s success as our own. During tough times, there is always the comforting thought that you can drop into one of their rooms to share the burden. In addition, there are several other people with whom special bonds were forged based on common interests, dining table conversations, common academic projects, course work etc. These people have also in more ways than one, helped me grow as an individual.

However, as the time for parting comes nearer, it is not the nostalgia or the emotions that are overwhelming, rather I can feel a strange sense of excitement in the air. An excitement that is a result of my friends having achieved what they set out to at the beginning of college and in anticipation of what is in store for them when they step out of campus into the ‘real world’. The happiness in their eyes when they share their dreams for the coming years is something I can’t describe in words. It is at this juncture that I realize that thinking about the last 3 years in the pretext of recalling and creating memories will only make parting more difficult. We all stepped into college to grow as individuals and that we have all done and so it is time to move on.  In fact, I can recall my friend telling me that she can hardly recognize any of the people on campus these days. On the contrary, when we were in our first and second year, we seemed to know just about anyone and everyone. This is a signal of sorts to us that we belong to this place no more.

Friendships that we have forged now will remain with us for a long long time to come. The bonds that we have created with some of them are strong that our paths are bound to intersect in future. So, dear friends, all I have to say is let’s not feel sad about having to leave, instead let’s all be happy that we met, helped and inspired each other  and will continue to do so as long as we can imagine.


Wishing the very best in all our future pursuits.





For quite some time now, I see that a lot of people in my feed on facebook have taken to the idea of ‘#throwback’. In fact, Facebook has also picked up the trend and has enabled users to relive memories of ‘This day that year’.

We all have definitely acknowledged the fact that facebook lets us express our emotions without the awkwardness of having to be present physically to convey them. Yet, I find it increasingly annoying when I see my feed filled with #throwback posts. I am left wondering about the relevance of these posts. I find it puzzling when I see photos of people taken less than a year ago, reappearing on facebook, accompanied with all possible tags that the person could think of-  #psenti#throwback#missingyou#besties#nostalgic. On most occasions, my first reaction is ‘ Why don’t you just pick up your phone and give a call to the person you are referring to/ missing so much?‘. In fact, I am pretty sure that the people in question are all the time talking to each other over messenger or WhatsApp. Then why on earth do they have to let the world know how much 50 different people mean to them on 50 different days? It’s not as though we are all 60 years old and are reliving memories of our childhood.

There may be several possible motivations for people to indulge in this kind of nostalgia. The first one, though it seems highly unlikely to me, is that there is an overwhelmingly emotional incident associated with the event/photo. The users simply cannot continue to other pursuits without pouring it out to their facebook audience. Second, we as facebook users demand such posts to compensate the lack of topics for our idle conversations. In which case, such statuses are totally justified on the grounds of supply being moderated by demand. Third, the user is compelled to increase his/her social activity quotient (measured in my opinion by the ‘likes’ on a post/photo) or to show-off that he/she is a social celebrity on facebook.

As a general rant, we should all realize that while facebook is a really good thing, there is an added responsibility on every one of us to curtail the amount of time spent on it. While I understand that social networking is tied to arguments like ‘Freedom of Speech and Action’ blah-blah, our choices are accountable only to the conscience. Therefore, if we withdraw ourselves to the self-introspection mode and realize that it is the second and/or the third reason mentioned above that motivates us to use Facebook, then we really ought to re-think our priorities in life. It may not do good to our budding dreams and aspirations to spend our time on useless pursuits.

I am really curious to know if there are people who would agree with me on this. Otherwise, I may have to digest the accusation of being emotionless that people throw at me all the time.

By the way, if you thought that I was jobless when I wrote this, I would say you are justified in your opinion!!!  😉

What carnatic music means to me

Posted: August 13, 2015 in Music

The thunderous applause that M.S Subbulakshmi received at the end of ‘Maitreem Bhajata’ song at the UN General Assembly hall is in many ways a proof of the fact that music knows no boundaries of language and culture.

I have grown up in a traditional Tamil household where the Venkateshwara Suprabhatam resonates with the morning rays of the sun, a cup of filter coffee (Bournvita for a kid :P). As a kid, I was never particularly interested in classical music that would keep playing on the music system. I went to music classes just because every other kid in my neighbourhood did and because my mother insisted that I learn to sing.

So, even though I was exposed to Carnatic music at a very early age, I was never really influenced by it and neither was I particularly interested in other genres.

However, as I grew up, I became particularly fond of listening to MS Subbulakshmi’s songs. Her songs carried a lot of ‘Bhakti’ and ‘Bhava’ (devotion and emotion) and left me mesmerised even hours after I would stop listening to her music. To me, her soulful rendition was a proof of her devotion and attachment towards the art. Hence, the legend MS Subbulakshmi’s songs paved the way for what Carnatic music means to me today.

Read the rest of this entry »

It has been nearly two months since I came back from a 9-day tour to Israel and Istanbul. It all started when the Nanoplasmonics group at BITS Pilani Hyderabad (that’s what we like to call ourselves :P) got to know about the International Conference on Surface Plasmon Photonics (SPP7)  that was to be held in Jerusalem from 31st May to 5th June 2015. In mid-Septemeber 2014, Prof. Kannan Ramaswamy set us the target of sending an abstract to the conference. The deadline was December 21st, 2014. Though we started sluggishly on the problem, we were constantly motivated by Kannan sir and we had an interesting scientific story with us just in time to send it to the conference. The notifications for selection to the conference was to be announced on February 10th. The D-day came and went. No intimation. One complete week had passed by and yet there was no notification from the organizers. And then on February 17th, 2015, I remember it distinctly… I had entered the mess for dinner.. On one hand I had the plate and was loading food onto it with the other… The mobile rang.. It was Kannan sir’s call…. As soon as I picked it up.. These were the exact words he told me “Sruthi, get ready to go to Israel”… Though I was waiting to hear this for the past two months, these words left me speechless… My first international conference.. We were selected for the poster session. The conference, held once in two years is a congregation of  the biggest people in the field of photonics and plasmonics. The very people whom we had looked up as celebrities in the scientific world would be attending the conference and giving talks.

Between February and April, time flew. Tests came and went, registrations were done, flight tickets booked, accommodation arranged, poster prepared and visas obtained (we did have trouble with that, thanks to Mohana ma’am’s continuous follow up with the embassy, we could get it just in time). As soon as the compres were out of our way and as the departure date came closer, excitement was building up exponentially. Read the rest of this entry »