the scholarship form.

Every student is expected to get his scholarship form signed by his advisor every month. The forms, one for each student, are neatly kept in a register (folder) in office near the entrance, easily accessible to students. Until lately, the office staff used to send a reminder to students every month to get their advisors’ signatures for processing of scholarship. Every student used to take out his form from the register, take it to his advisor, and after getting signed, used to put it back into the register. Office staff would then process the forms by the middle of the month and send to the Academic/Finance section for approving the students’ scholarships for the month. This is a useful exercise for some students (like bhOndOO) who happen to meet their advisors once in a lifetime.

Often something or the other would be missing from the table on which the register is kept: sometimes the pen, sometimes the refill in the pen, while sometimes the ink in the refill. One month, I was taken aback to know the missing item from the table: the register itself! On enquiring I came to know that it was in the custody of office staff. The office lady took out my scholarship form from the register and handed over to me. I did not understand the sudden change of process, but since I was more keen on getting my advisor sign on the scholarship form, I did not ask. Later, I came to know this story from Arun and Satadru. Thanks to both of you.

bhOndOO woke up early that day. He had enough sleep and was feeling fresh. Before breakfast, he had finished bath. He got ready, combed hair, looked at the handsome young man in the mirror, locked his room, finished breakfast, and rode to the department on his bicycle, whistling Suhana safar aur ye mausam hasin, Hamein dar hai ham kho na jaye kahin….

He was welcomed at the department by the melodiously voice of a cuckoo. bhOndOO looked at it and smiled. Today is a good day. I should do some work today, bhOndOO told himself while parking the bicycle. He came to the lab and checked his mails using the new webmail created for students. His eyes noticed a mail from office. It asked him to get his scholarship form signed by his advisor. Suddenly, the beautiful day was no longer felt so. While looking at the mail, bhOndOO kept trying to recollect when he met his advisor last. Finally, he realized that it was a few weeks back — to get the signature for previous month.

bhOndOO searched hard in his brain to find out what all Prof Krishnamurthy, his advisor, had asked him to do. Oops! I needed to implement context-sensitive version of the algorithm. Hold on! I had to first implement the context-insensitive version! Man! I have done nothing. Is it one month since then? Time in Bangalore flies very fast yaar! bhOndOO then remembered all the treks, trips, and farewell parties, and cursed himself for not having anything to show to Prof Krishnamurthy, except the photos of the treks, trips and the parties.

Let’s face it this time (also), bhOndOO made up his mind. He logged out of his account, left Computing Lab and went to the office. He took out his scholarship form from the register and was about to leave when he noticed something on the form. The entry for the current month contained crosses (xxxx). There was no space to sign! Who did this? bhOndOO knew the answer: no, no, not Gullu, but Prof Krishnamurthy.

He quickly day-dreamed of what all his advisor was going to say to him:

  • I have deliberately done that. You should learn a lesson from this.
  • Research is not about outings and parties, it requires 100% dedication.
  • You are not fit for research life. Go to hell!
  • Unless your scholarship stops, you won’t start working.
  • If you still don’t get the lesson, you are free to leave PhD.

bhOndOO started crying — in the dream. In reality, he got angry. This is not the way of dealing with a student. A student is not a slave! If Prof Krishnamurthy wanted to scold me, he could have directly done so or he could have not signed in the register! What is this childish manner of behaving! This doesn’t suit a faculty member in a prestigious institute like IISc!

bhOndOO’s face turned reddish, his pulse rate doubled, and behind his big spects, he started looking terrible — almost like a Bollywood villain! He held the form (mental form as well as the scholarship form) firmly, left the office and started walking towards his advisor’s office. On the way, he heard the cuckoo singing and poured his anger over her: You don’t have any work other that shouting the whole day? The cuckoo stopped singing.

bhOndOO waited for 100 seconds outside Prof Krishnamurthy’s room. He was trying to make up his mind. Before he could successfully do it, he saw another professor peeping from inside an adjacent room to see why bhOndOO was standing at the door. The professor’s look almost forced bhOndOO to get in.

“Sir, why did you cross my scholarship bill?”, bhOndOO just threw in the words he found, before his advisor could turn to him and wish him Good Morning. Prof Krishnamurthy kept looking at him and did not understand a single word. “Sorry?”, and he raised his eyebrows.

By now, bhOndOO’s pulse rate was obstructing his words and thinking. He tried to speak but could not find any better wordings. Finally, he managed to say, “Sir, …” and handed over the form to his advisor. Prof Krishnamurthy looked at the form, made a face as if he was trying to find a polynomial-time algorithm for a supposedly NP-Hard problem, and exclaimed, “Oh! There is no space to sign for this month. What should we do?”.

bhOndOO realized by now that his whole thought process had gone waste. He quickly controlled the situation by changing his tone, “Sir, someone has added theses crosses. Don’t know who and why.”.
“This is a problem. Let me ask office staff.”. Prof Krishnamurthy called up the office and talked for some time. Meanwhile, bhOndOO’s pulse rate normalized. He felt happy that his advisor did not do anything on the scholarship form, but felt happier that he did not understand what bhOndOO wanted to say! Prof Krishnamurthy put down the phone and turned to bhOndOO, “I will send an email to the office approving the scholarship.”.
“Okay Sir.”, bhOndOO said happily and turned to leave.
“You can take this form.”.
“Oh! Sorry Sir.”, bhOndOO took the form, “Thank you, Sir.”, and he turned again.
“Yes, Sir?”.
“What happened to the pointer analysis algorithm implementation?”.
bhOndOO, again did not find words. He managed, “Sir, I was thinking that I should first implement the context-insensitive version. Later, I can add the context-sensitivity. What do you think, Sir?”.
“Yes, that is a good way of going about it.”.
“Okay, Sir. I will keep you updated of the progress.”.
“Sounds good.”.

bhOndOO finally managed to leave the room in single piece.

Since then, office staff keeps the register with them and they have also allowed faculty members to send scholarship approvals by email.


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