Sunday, July 20, 2008
My annoying telephone alarm rings in the morning like an ice cream truck on subwoofers. I put off the snooze and lie in a semi-sleep state. Saurabh wakes up and goes for his morning shower. I wait for him to come out and as soon as I hear the door lock open, I go “is the water hot?” To that, I get a range of answers – the most common one being “it’s getting there.” It mentally prepares me for the shower which, depending on our solar heater, can temporarily send me to the arctic. Yes, I do not enjoy cold showers. But what I do enjoy is asking if the water is hot first thing in the morning. It’s one of those many “little” things that has become part of my daily routine and makes it enjoyable. The daily Xbox dosage is another one.
I enjoy the MSRI work culture and cherishing the things I am learning here. We are currently in the process of field-testing the Braille tutor. We are also working on the Braille art imaging project. The other day, we found out that IIT Kharagpur had developed a similar tool. It was a little disappointing that our idea might not be completely novel. But they had not stated any results of field tests and limited the use of embossed images. So, we plan to explore these images further and see how different kinds of images might be useful in assisting education. This could greatly benefit Mathru and the wider visually-impaired community. As our research questions are different, we might unravel some interesting issues.
What’s happened with me over the last few weeks? Hmm, let’s see… quiz competition at Mathru, weekend trip to Chennai for my cousin’s wedding, TEM bowling night, getting to know the other interns, MSRI party at the Kosmo club, lots of powwows (project presentations), interesting conversations over lunch, ICT4D paper to bring Bill G up to speed with ICT, image processing, coding in C#, acquiring lots of information, fighting aliens in Halo, watching “Batman: The Dark Knight” at the theater, boxing classes with Kentaro, and the best one – bonding with the family (Aysha, Erin, and Saurabh). We’ve got our project presentation tomorrow so we’re busy working on that and rehearsing. It should be fun. An interesting surprise awaits the audience.
Only 2 weeks left!? As I was looking at the date on my cellphone, I noticed the hourglass wallpaper on my phone. But there was something different about this hourglass. It didn’t have sand in it and seemed to get this infinite supply of grains from somewhere. I looked a little closer and realized that these were grains of growth. As cheesy as it seemed, I couldn’t help but believe what I saw. Every now and then, a huge grain would get stuck in the neck of the hourglass and I’d have to give it a brisk shake to get it through. It seemed to have a strong resemblance to life. I think there’s no limit to how much you can grow as an intellectual, as a citizen, as a friend, as a human being. Invariably, a lump of grains gets stuck in the neck of the hourglass and you have to figure out how to break it. Sometimes, good friends help you out.
The remaining two weeks are going to be intense. Saurabh and I will have to write 3 papers, complete our field studies, and make necessary enhancements to the Braille tutor and image processing tool code. Although it makes me sad to realize that this wonderful adventure is going to end soon, I am looking forward to the future and completing our current projects on a successful note.