I missed autum…
I would paint ye stars, had I a painter been
Write ye a poem, had I a poet been
Take ye to paradise, had I a fairy been
But Alas! I am just an ordinary Lass
Want you to know ..
Thou art and shalt be my favourite fere forever
We just make sure the cellar’s full at all times.
Oh January the unknown hath cast a spell upon thee,
Masked thou art with sparkling stars tricking man’s senses
Cometh thou with freshness and hope, and numbers that game new days
With merriment and laughter we step into this newness
But Alas! When with glee we smile, the spell works
Bringing this earth to a place that is no good
Where every breath is brewed with horror and fright
Oh darkness, all that is asked of me, to trust in January yet again
I wrote this octave on the eve of 2013. Here’s a little background. I lost my grandmother in 2011, then grandfather in 2012. I was beginning to believe we were cursed and was scared to welcome the new year 2013 and that’s when I wrote this. In 2013 I lost my other grandmother, 2014 lost my other grandfather and 2015 lost my favourite person who we call BRI. Finally 2016 went well and I am now posting this poem cause I believe the curse is broken 🙂
I’ve been debating this myself, since the time I learned that I have gained admission to a Phd program at the Institute for Big Data Analytics at Dalhousie University, NS, Canada.
It was exciting at first and wanted to quit my job and jump onboard no sooner I learned of it. But then the budding analyst in me kicked in, and I took a step back and realized that I am going to do my research, so why not do a little research (digging in) to see what people have to say about doing your Phd with plans of getting back into the corporate / industry workforce.
After speaking to a lot of Phd holders, Professors, colleagues, friends, family and a lot googling, I found a few points that helped me make my decision. Read the information below (especially the little excerpts shown in qoutes) before you take this plunge.
HOW MANY PHD’S DO YOU KNOW WHO WORK FOR CORPORATES?
When I spoke to my fellow post doctorate friends, this was the first thing I asked them, “How many Phd’s do you know who are currently working for a corporate?”.
And, for some reason they only responded in Binary digits (0 or 1)!!
“Private sector in Canada hires only 4 per cent PhDs compared to the 42 per cent hired in the United States.” – The Huffington Post. Read full article.
Now this will vary from country to country, city to city and also based on your field of research.
For instance, if you have a Phd in Computer Science / Biology / Applied Mathematics or a combination of them you will get calls by big Healthcare / Analytical corporations.
“In Canada, PhDs unemployment rate is even worse: 50 per cent more than Masters (6 per cent as compared to 4 per cent).” – The Huffington Post. Read full article.
If you are willing to go against those odds, is proof by itself that you are passionate about your research and must go for it without any second thoughts.
Many things remain the same no matter which country you apply to, like this comment here –
“Many HR departments will view the PHD and assume that you wouldn’t be satisfied with the pay levels that are set to attract people with Bachelors or were self-taught. Even if you declare you’re fine with it, there’s the assumption that your job dissatisfaction will be very high after a few months and you will view the work as beneath you.” – by dcousineau. Read full discussion on reddit.
It is advisable to be straight forward and mention your salary expectations in your cover letter so that they know you are willing to work for a reasonable pay.
That being said, you must have a dream role / designation / job title in your mind before you commence your Phd. And work towards it; In that way, you will not be dissatisfied with your role or willl not be doing work that is ‘beneath’ you. This is exactly what is said below, in different words –
“There’s still a lot of prejudice against post-grad degrees in the industry, and listing a PHD on your resume may actively harm your chances at landing a job. The one exception to this rule is if your PHD is extremely focused and you’re looking for a job that perfectly matches your focus.” – by dcousineau. Read full discussion on reddit.
There are also HR departments that view a Phd student as a person who worked for a university with minimum pay for the past 4 or 5 years and try to take advantage of that fact. Be confident, and be bold. You know how much you deserve.
MONEY IN YOUR POCKET
Willingness to accept a minimum pay (funding) for 4 or 5 years while doing your research, while your friends move up the corporate ladders and buy fancy cars, is something you will have to deal with for a very long time until you find your spot in the corporate jungle.
“PhDs, even after five to six more years of schooling, earn only 8 per cent more than Masters. In U.S., they earn 43 per cent more.” – The Huffington Post. Read full article.
This may sound clichéd, but if you are passionate enough, doesn’t matter in which field you’ve obtained your Phd, companies like Wallmart, Google Alphabets will have a spot for you!!; And they pay BIIIGGGGG!!
It is the market leaders that seem to respect, value and strive on Phd holders.
4-YEARS, ARE YOU SURE?
“…looking at studies on PhD completion times at Canadian universities, it is clear that the vast majority of students do not finish in four years: the average post-master’s completion time is about five years, according to a 2003 report by Frank Elgar, Dalhousie University (PDF).” – University Affairs. Read full article.
Another important factor to consider when selecting your University is the city, campus, department, life style and weather. Otherwise, you will spend 5 long years walking in the corridors of the university shaking your head, trapped by the weather, or because there is nothing fun that the University campus can offer.
ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST
If you’ve come this far you may have realized that there is no universal answer to this as it varies from case to case
“You can very well do a PhD and wind up with much more impressive experience than you would get at your average entry level position. For example, there are students who work with governments and large corporations solving very real issues like traffic congestion and automated threat detection etc. All this depends on your research lab and how much you yourself put into it. If at the end of your PhD all you have is the word PhD on your resume along with some publications on theory, then that’s on you.” – by pamme. Read full discussion on reddit.
But, what is common for all prospective Phd students is that you have to choose a field that you are willing to sleep, eat, dream and think about for the next 4 or 5 years.
Don’t quit your job; Instead create a new one : If you wish to get back into the industry immediately after your Phd, one way to do it is to narrow down and select a field that is relevant to your employer and the University. It must be a topic that will benefit / solve a real world problem for the company. In this way you can establish that bridge between your employer and the University, and do your Phd in a mutually beneficial topic, while working at the company. It’s not only a win-win situation. It is a win(employer)-win(university)-win(you) situation.
“What’s most important is for prospective PhDs is to have a clear understanding not only of the competitive conditions for academic jobs, but also the range of possibilities opened up by doctoral education, which are far more diverse than those generally presented in graduate programmes. Those possibilities must also be developed actively through collaboration between universities, governments, other non-academic organizations and students, so that the promise of advanced education isn’t lost due to lack of mentorship, guidance and opportunity.” – The Global and Mail. Read full article.
To the future 2% of the world, good luck.. and to the 98%.. good luck as well. : )
Let me know your thoughts. How many Phd’s do you know that work in the private sector?
The spring before high school graduation can be one of the most difficult semesters. Not only are you leaving the group of friends you have grown up with and are working to officially tie up loose ends necessary to graduate, but you are also preparing to enter the adult world. As a high school senior determining what you are going to do with your life after graduation, there are a lot of important decisions to take into consideration.
Possibly the most important of these questions is: are you going to pursue higher education? And if so, how do you determine which type of higher education institution is right for you? Identifying which type of higher education program is right for you can be difficult, especially if you have limited sources of advice from people who’ve been there. Below is a short list of options to consider outside of the traditional four year public school.
Liberal Art Colleges
Interested in a little bit of everything? A liberal arts college might be the type of higher education you are looking for. These schools tend to focus on students gaining a very broad amount of knowledge in a number of disparate fields, working closely with students from differing majors, and developing strong technical writing skills. Liberal arts colleges tend to have requirements for students to take classes outside of their major and typical graduates usually have a major and one or two minors in widely divergent fields.
of liberal arts colleges are considered highly versatile and are typically able to succeed in any career path because of this exposure to many contrastable ideas throughout their education. In fact, over 55% of hiring managers say they prefer graduates with a broad education because they can work with people of various backgrounds well and they think outside of the box.
For some people the idea of learning about everything seems exceptionally undesirable. Students who would rather learn a skill that enables them to acquire a well-paying job and call it a day might find a good fit in a technical or vocational school. Technical schools were designed for this – they were developed to train people to complete specific jobs that companies are hiring for.
Often times, they focus on the practical, hands-on skills rather than the academic education. That being said, employment rates for students coming out of technical programs tend to be much higher than that of other higher education institutions. Technical/vocational degree programs can range from cosmetology, to IT, to mechanics. Really the certifications are limitless.
When many people think of online education they tend to think of somewhat sketchy, unaccredited universities that are just devised to take people’s money and offer no real benefit. Although in the past that may have been the case, nowadays online education programs are on the rise and being offered by credible institutions. A number of them are even degrees most people would not typically associate with online classes such as political management and nursing.
The number of people getting online degrees is on the rise too. According to Ohio University, over 6.7 million students are enrolled in online education programs. They elect this type of higher education because it enables them to learn in a non-traditional setting i.e. when they want and where they want. Part of the reason online programs are gaining so much traction is because they enable people to have schedules outside of school such as full-time jobs or families.
Community colleges offer a lot of students that want to attend college on a campus some form of financial relief. Typically community colleges are a much cheaper form of education and a great way to complete an associates degree before either transferring to a larger school to complete a bachelor’s degree or entering the workforce. Furthermore, most moderate to large cities have a community college, meaning it is possible to live at home at attend college. Although for most young adults this isn’t the most ideal situation, the money saved can really add up.
Attending a private college may be a great option for students looking for a very personalized college experience. In these institutions the students – not the politics – are the priority, leading to a unique culture and typically rigorous educational standards. These schools tend to be more on the expensive side; however, a number of merit-based scholarships are usually offered that can really take the edge off.
Private colleges do offer many benefits to their students. Professors working for private colleges are usually there to teach rather than do research, meaning they are going to have high classroom expectations and small class sizes. At some smaller private colleges, even intro classes have less than 30 students. The small schools also typically lend themselves to very tight-knit communities. Most students want to be involved somehow, whether it is through a few different clubs, working for professors, or by participating in classroom discussions.
There are many short-term and long term professional and personal perks that successful completion of both undergraduate and graduate education can bring to your life. That knowledge drives many individuals to seek higher education at times in their life when they are incapable, for various reasons, to spend enough time or effort to cultivate an amazing undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and transcript. Unfortunately that can have a major long term consequence: difficulty finding graduate programs that accepts individuals with low GPAs.
Not all is lost. While the majority of colleges expect all applicants to have managed at least a 3.0 GPA, some colleges and programs understand that a slightly lower undergraduate GPA is not a guarantee that the individual will not excel in a graduate program. A few college and programs requirements:
- Do not set a minimum GPA.
- Accept the GRE/GMAT to compensate for low GPA.
- Require additional professional work samples to compensate.
- Set a slightly lower minimum (2.5 to 2.7).
To set you on the path to locating a program that will work for you, here is a list of master programs for individuals with a low GPA.
No GPA Minimum Given
GRE/GMAT to Compensate
Additional Professional Work Samples
Now you know that you can still apply to a graduate program with a low GPA. Remember that the path from application to acceptance will be more difficult for lower undergrad GPA students. Why? Colleges and Universities can only accept a portion of all applicants each semester. And chances are due to your GPA, your request to be accepted into the program will be slightly weaker than the other individuals seeking entrance. This means you should do everything you can to strengthen the other aspects of your application.
You can strengthen your application by:
- Gaining as much time and experience in your field as you can before applying.
- Ensure all professional references can speak intelligently and avidly about your performance and knowledge of the field.
- Craft a strong statement of purpose and resume.
- If allowed, take the GRE or GMAT.
- And if all else fails, retake a few of the core subjects in order to boost your GPA slightly.
Choosing a Program
Prepping To Apply
Desperate to change my role in IT, I stumbled upon a 1 month program related to analysis of data. It was a SAS (Statistical Analysis System) program, held by the Analytics Training Institute in Bangalore, India. It seemed perfect. One day to go before the course commenced and there was only 1 seat left. I logged on to the web and did a quick background check of the institute. But, sadly couldn’t get much.
This institute seemed to have a clean sheet! Convinced, I pick up the phone to call the Institute. A very kind, polite lady answers all the questions I had, satisfactorily. With one day for the classes to start and the last seat reserved, I couldn’t be more excited.
My first day in the field of Analytics.
I researched thoroughly before I made my decision on pursuing SAS programming, and not R Programming (which is open source BTW!). I don’t regret my choice, but I do regret the decision of choosing a training institute to empower me with this freely available knowledge. To prove my point I shall put up a short 5 day starter tutorial to SAS, followed by few very handy links.
This is my review cum account of my experience at Analytics Training Institute (ATI) as the course progresses. A first of it’s kind on this blog.
With a prayer in my heart, “Lord, give me the strength to pound through this data. : ) “, I left home. I had to travel about 35 km one way, to the Institute. Despite the distance I still felt a spring in my stride, from the excitement of learning new things.
This is an account of my experience on Day 1 at Analytics Training Institute (ATI).
Date – 11th Jan 2015
Instructor – Tina Mary Wilson
The class almost always starts about 30-45 minutes late at ATI. Apparently the teachers are never informed by the management that the class starts at 9:00 a.m.
Well, we all have those administration and management glitches. And for crying out loud, we are in India, IST is known to be 30-45 minutes late! C’mon!
As the class progresses you begin to realize that the instructor really has no real-world experience in SAS programming or data analysis (She mentioned it in class during the introduction round). You also begin to wonder as to why aren’t you doing this course online. You don’t need to pay a large sum of money for an instructor to tell you to type this code and check the result on the screen. But you would rather know, the purpose behind that code? what are the best practices usually involved? what are the other options? when should you use which option?
With questions piling up in my head, I choose the most relevant and ask, “Is there a universally accepted coding standard followed by professionals using SAS?”.
And I get a confused look, followed by a response that is related but yet not so related.
“SAS is not case-sensitive.”
Day 2 –
As usual the class began at 9:00 a.m “Indian Standard Time”, i.e 9:30a.m, although it was unanimously agreed upon that we should commence our class at 9. The instructor had changed without letting us know in advance.
The new substituted Instructor didn’t know where the previous instructor left off. She related every concept of SAS to MS Excel. What sense does that make? We are here to learn SAS.
The class was eventually canceled, as most of the students were dissatisfied with her teaching and had left, post lunch.
Day 3,4 –
Our original instructor Tina, was back, on “popular” demand. Tina Wilson, was patient and helpful, and clarified student’s doubts very satisfactoriy. But the fact remains, that the instructors at the institute are inexperienced in the real world, but have a long history of teaching experience. She went on to cover the course syllabus, quickly. Avoiding students cancelling the course and asking for a refund.
If you are lazy to search around the internet for tutorials on SAS. Or if you are just looking to get started with SAS, but not to get deep into it. If you are in a managerial role in SAS, and just want to know what your minions do, when they say they are working on SAS. Or are being sponsored by someone/company to learn SAS. Then, I’d definitely recommend the SAS program at the ATI (Analytics Training Institute).
But, if you hope to give the SAS Base Programmers Certification, soon after the course or hope to get an in-depth knowledge of SAS, save that money, and buy a good book on SAS.
HIGHLIGHTS / TIPS
-> Classes don’t start on time
-> Too Slow. A lot can be covered during each class
-> Instructors are inexperienced
-> The syllabus covered can be easily learnt online
-> Apparently, once enrolled you are allowed to attend the same program any number of times when it is offered, as long as you register yourself for it. (What is the point? I paid for 1 course, not a life time membership of the same course.)
-> Students say, (Not sure) certain instructors at the insitute are really good. If you get a chance to enroll your self for the SAS course taken by Kamal Vaswani of ATI, Redwood Associates. I’d say go for it.
Stay tuned! Will see you all SAS enthusiasts in my next post, where I shall share some useful SAS code, SAS tutorials, SAS templates, and free SAS vidoes. In the meantime, let me know when was the last time you paid for a course outside of school or college, and actually got what you paid for?
Looking forward to hearing your experience with Training Institutes. : )
Peace. Happy learning! : )
Image Source : https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/68/SAS_Institute_logo.png
Taking Crowdsourcing to the next level : Level Extreme!
Walmart has recently revealed that it is considering a crowdsourced delivery system, in which it would get its in-store customers to deliver packages to its online customers, by providing them discount coupons if they agree to make a delivery that is on their way back home. Say what again?! You mean a stranger is gonna deliver stuff that I ordered online? What are the chances that I get it in one piece? Or what are the chances that I get the stuff at all?!
Although this idea is in the very early stages, I have to agree that it is very exciting, interesting and innovative. Kudos to Walmart. But no not for me. Thank you.
They say, the use of crowdsourcing, will help Walmart avoid shipping costs, improve delivery time and also make more happy (unsafe) customers.
Indian Traffic Police
India does not have the best reputation in terms of driving! This is no news!
To handle the (un)organized chaos (Indian traffic), many Indian cities like Pune, Chennai and Delhi, have turned to crowdsourcing to tackle traffic violations!
The use of crowdsourcing and social networking sites to police street traffic is slowly gaining popularity in India. Thousands of users have started submitting both photographs and video footage of traffic violations, to be acted upon by the police. So, the next person you see taking a video of you driving rashly, make sure you run over his phone too!
“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” – Bill Joy, Cofounder Sun Microsystems
Can somebody help us? Anybody? Unilever, despite having world class facilities and a respected and a reputed research staff. It seeks external contributions from outside the firm through an open crowdsourced Innovation project (http://www.unilever.com/innovation/collaborating-with-unilever/open-innovation/ ).
Nokia’s Ideasproject (https://ideasproject.com/home ) is a great example of crowdsourcing, as it draws on the consumer experiences of participant-innovators to generate new ideas about the kind of products they seek from Nokia. Crowdsourcing participants are enabled, becoming their own agents of product-design. Nokia promises to share the revenue generated from the crowdsourced ideas with the participants.
Yes, Nokia is trying to listen! It’s too late, Nokia!
Is that even a word? Shouldn’t there be a hyphen?
By now, you would have got a gist of what crowdsourcing is all about. If not,very quickly, ‘Crowdsourcing’ is a job that is usually outsourced to an undefined, large group of people in the form of an open call.
Isn’t Crowdsourcing, Outsourcing?
This is usually a debate. I believe that Crowdsourcing is a type of outsourcing, as when doing so one has to follow the same Questionnaire, to help decide whether or not to crowdsource, such as –
Does it involve a core competency?
Does it involve confidential or sensitive IS services or software development?
If the answer to the above such questions are “No”, then it is safe to crowdsource/outsource. More crudely, crowdsourcing could be described as projects that are outsourced to the ‘crowd’.
There are several online outsourcing/crowdsourcing websites like elance.com, freelancer.com, odesk.com, Innocentive, Cambrian House, iStockPhoto, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, Threadless, Rent a coder, crowdflower etc that have millions of users. Some believe, with websites like these it can lead to “digital sweatshops”, where workers put in long hours to generate very little pay and no benefits.
A Chinese website, Zhubajie claims to currently have 7.6 million workers, if this is true, it would mean that Zhubajie, is the largest online crowdsourcing site in the world. How many of them are underage?
From a business perspective, crowdsourcing is a popular way to get work done with minimal costs. A poetry magazine that I remember sending my submissions to for a long time, in the hope of getting published was a Canadian online poetry magazine called, Mattia. This is a crowdsourced online poetry magazine, that publishes, and maintains a regular doze of online magazines, without having a crew of writers/authors/poets. Instead crowdsources it to the public by organizing an open International Poetry Competition every season, gaining not only submissions from all over the world, but also readers and viewership. The top 25 submissions were published, and the best three are given prizes (CAD $100 for first place). Similarly, an Indian website/blog called ‘The Underground Writers’ collects submissions of articles from all over via weekly submissions and prints the best. Thus, creating content for their business, while also gaining viewership, with minimal expense.
Crowdsourcing, as a marketing strategy
Crowdsourcing, according to Laurence Wolf, cofounder and chief executive officer of Brand Honee, a crowdsourcing platform, in Australia, is “just another tool in the box of brand marketing.”
We have seen examples of crowdsourcing on the television, restaurants and in the media where crowdsourced advertising has been used. Crowdsourcing has become easier, with the advent of social media, as it is easier to spread the word, and find people who are ready to work
Many companies like Coca-Cola, Intel, Emirates NBD Bank, Walmart, General Mills, Anheuser-Busch (AB) etc have been using crowdsourcing to their advantage, while also engaging their customers.
Crowdsourcing – Good or Bad?
1. To find good content in crowdsourced submissions, someone must first sift through piles of submissions, and there is no guarantee the search will be successful.
2. No guarantee of the quality of work, as there is a lack of face-to-face communication. Companies do not get a chance to work closely with the team building the project.
3. Talent is only paid for chosen ideas. This means that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people are working for free in the hope of having their idea chosen. This devalues talent enormously.
4. There is no reliable way to verify the age of the people employed, when a job is crowdsourced, as some may be ‘working’ underage.
5. No accountability. With no contracts and low (or no) wages, one will always be on the lookout for a bigger, better deal.
The Good Stuff..
1. Work can be done for less than the cost of hiring a full-fledged team of professionals.
2. The talent pool is huge.
3. You have access to international talent.
4. Great collaboration across multiple disciplines, languages and age ranges.
5. Helps you understand your audience and marketplace.
6. Crowdsourcing is a very effective way of getting work done with minimal expense.
Lisa Arthur, chief marketing officer of marketing automation firm Aprimo says, “Crowdsourcing, is an effective approach for getting people to help you shape something that’s an idea into a tangible asset, whether that’s a piece of content, white paper, video, all the way into strategy, depending on what your need is and what the idea is.”
Umm… What did Lisa say again? More simply,
“…the world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any company to have all the answers inside.” – Yochai Benkler, Yale University.
So if you don’t know what you’re doing, make use of the wisdom of the crowd!
Sources, Related articles and Image sources –
Police man image – https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/India_-_Kolkata_traffic_cop_-_3661.jpg
“Walmart to get CUSTOMERS to make deliveries in radical new ‘crowd-sourcing’ approach to shipping” – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2300599/Walmart-CUSTOMERS-make-deliveries-radical-new-crowd-sourcing-approach-shipping.html “India turns to Crowdsourcing for tackling Traffic Violations” – http://dailycrowdsource.com/20-resources/projects/910-india-turns-to-crowdsourcing-for-tackling-traffic-violations “About Walmart’s Idea to Crowdsource Its Same-Day Delivery Service” – http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikamorphy/2013/03/28/about-walmarts-idea-to-crowdsource-its-same-day-delivery-service/ “The Pros and Cons of Crowdsourcing” – http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=87290&PageNum=3
“The Ups and Downs of Crowdsourcing” – http://advertising.about.com/od/insidetheindustry/a/The-Ups-And-Downs-Of-Crowdsourcing.htm
“Crowd-sourced adventure: The couple on a cross-country road trip letting readers of their travel blog decide where they go next ” –http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2309979/Crowd-sourced-adventure-The-couple-cross-country-road-trip-letting-readers-travel-blog-decide-next.html “Crowdsourcing is booming in Asia” – http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/08/asias-secret-crowdsourcing-boom/ Crowdsourcing Idea image – http://www.businessesgrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/crowdsourcing-2.jpg “5 examples of companies innovating with crowdsourcing” – http://www.innocentive.com/blog/2013/10/18/5-examples-of-companies-innovating-with-crowdsourcing/ “Innovation Zen” – http://innovationzen.com/blog/2006/08/01/top-10-crowdsourcing-companies/ Websites- www.freelancer.com www.elance.com www.zhubajie.com www.odesk.com www.mattia.ca “Crowdsourcing: Pros, Cons, And More” – http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/what-is-crowdsourcing/ Crowdsourcing Image 2 – http://blog.gremln.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/crowdsourcing2.png http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/wealth_of_networks/Main_Page“Managing and Using Information Systems – A Strategic Approach” by Keri E. Pearlson, Carol S. Saunders; “Chaordix – Crowd Intelligence” – http://www.chaordix.com/crowdsourcing-101/
New place. New people. New culture. New school. New grocery store. New apartment. New Beer.
Now, that’s a fresh start!
It is almost safe to say that the friendliest people on the planet are in Newfoundland. And in the province of Newfoundland, St. John’s takes pride in being the most welcoming, most friendly, and most caring of all. Coming from a city of 8,500,000+ people, to a town with a population of 150,000 people, is strange, but very refreshing. Even though St. John’s is one of the smaller towns in Canada, they have their own ice-hockey team called the IceCaps, founded a year ago, in 2011. Ice-hockey is CRAZY BIG here! Everyone indulges in some sports or the other. It’s surprising to see even the faculty of science, PhD guys, being involved in sports, and that too so religiously. Some of the professors in the university, also train students in cross-country skiing, ice-hockey etc during semester breaks. It’s just so impressive. Kudos man. Hats off.
So far, the weather has been pleasant. But it may be the calm before the storm. Quite literally. Here’s a link to the news of a Hurricane Leslie likely to hit Newfoundland, Canada tomorrow. It gives the media lil something to talk about here, otherwise a man mauling his dog will make the headlines (it actually did. Last week.).
Brian, a taxi driver, who I got quite acquainted to on my way to the one of TWO malls in St. John’s… the Avalon Mall, used a term that I was quite unfamiliar with, and soon became my favourite word for some reason, but only lasted a while – “Newfie“. Ain’t that a cool word?
Newfies is a slang used by many, to refer to the actual locals of Newfoundland. It’s a word I became very fond of, for some reason, and I try to use it whenever I get the chance,while always meaning good. Like most slangs, it can be offensive to some, and as an immigrant (or a non-newfie or a non-local), it can lead to misunderstandings, and meaningless bar fights! But, most Newfoundlanders will say, “Damn right, I’m a Newfie” with a big smile on their face. Here’s an interesting, but slightly confusing article on the subject.
So this is one of the last times I am gonna use the word, “Nefwie”. : )
And NO mummy, daddy, I haven’t got into a bar fight….. yet! 😛 hehe
There’s tons of Beer brands to experiment with, only if my loan sanction letter would’ve covered that… 😛
There is a Beer brewery just down the road from my place, and according to the landlord here, he says, you can smell the Beer being brewed every once in a while. Looking forward to that.
I have loads of things to do during my stay here at Canada, all planned up in my head. Hope I get through all of them. Just realized that ‘study’ isn’t one of them. hehe.
I keep forgetting that I am here to study; I just hope my grades don’t show it too. So far this journey has been wonderful. I hope it stays that way.
Well, I’m back to school.
<< A silent prayer, as I plunge confidently into the unknown. >>
Image source : http://msride.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/St-Johns.jpeg
Is that you, Melissa?
“…be the hottest day in Norway since 1962.” reported a brown man on the televsion, blaring in the otherwise silent room. The sun faded away in the distance, taking it’s last bow for the day, as the evening set in, the clouds could be seen gradually taking over from the far end of the skyline.
It rained everytime it got hot in Norway. It was one of the many things the residents of the small town loved to complaint about – the sharing of almost-got-roasted-in-the-sun stories. But Vanessa couldn’t have that joy of sharing stories; All the residents of the town had fled to better towns, better cities, with better climates, leaving Vanessa by herself in this lonely part of the world. Although, only a week had passed since the residents had left, it had seemed like there had never been life here at Jefferson town. With the town deserted, it looked more like an old stage-set that hadn’t been used for years.
The usual hustle bustle, had died down to the occassional, sound of the scrapping of dried leaves against the weak wooden walls of Vanessa’s house.
It was hard for Vanessa to believe that the entire town had migrated. Something very understandable after 3 earthquakes, an active volcano in the vicinity, and an ever so unpredictable weather.
The silence. The calmness outside the house, was almost surreal.
“…In other news, Apple realeases a new version of the iMag, sources say…”
Vanessa turned her gaze from the open window and pushed hard on the OFF button on the TV remote flinging it on the sofa, it bounced twice before it lay still. She turned back to the empty window, just in time to watch a lonely bird shriek as it flew across the stretch of sky, racing the clouds hoping to catch up with it’s group.
But Vanessa wasn’t that bird.
The good neighbours of Jefferson town, had begged her to come along with them, till the very last second. But, she didn’t budge. A neighbour, even offered her a place to stay. But Vanessa stood her ground. Even, at the age of 68, she was ready to battle with mother nature.
She didn’t move an inch, for an hour, her eyes looking straight at the heart of the setting sun, as she nervously scanned the enormous horizon, seen through the only window in the house. But it was a window, everyone wished to have. It was the only house in Jefferson’s town that entirely faced the thick, dense, beaultiful green forest and also had a clear view of the volcano, seen just below the orange sky. People joked, it was a view straight out of the Discovery channel.
Everybody in Jefferson’s town knew Vanessa’s house. It was not only because of the famous, scenic window, but also for it’s location. It was practically the end of town. Vanessa’s house would be the first to know, if the active volcano decides to sweep this quiet little town out of the face of the planet.
An hour had passed, since the shrieking bird had passed by. The forest outside Vanessa’s window, looked ghastly in the dark. The sun had set, Vanessa continued to stand by the window. She was a dainty lady, her legs frail, but she still looked splendid in her long, red dress. Her eyes sparkled a beautiful gray, sporting an old fashioned red lipstick, and her hair set just the way she liked it – tied to a pony with the front fringe taken to one side.
She looked outside, with keeness, as if waiting.
The tall grandfather clock in the living room struck eight times, anouncing it was 8 o’ clock. Vanessa hands anxiously rubbed againsts the window sil, her palms aimlessly moving accross the rough surface of the window sil. She looked restless. She knew it was time.
The clock seemed too loud in the silence of the house.
She was getting anxious, she couldn’t stand it any longer. The wait was making her insane.
When suddenly, a ‘thug’ sound was heard from the door.
The sound would have been mistaken for a fallen branch of a tree, or a fallen fruit ..but no… Vanessa knew. She smiled. The sound would have been inaudable, if there was the slightest of noise in the house. Not this house. The 2 storeyed duplex house, echoed in the silence. It could be heard in every room as clear as a doorbell.
Suddenly, a child’s voice came from behind her….”Graa-nd-maa?”
Vanessa screamed and jumped.
Turning around, to a child, crouched up, sitting half way up the stairs.
His hands were folded on his knees, his palms covered his face, allowing only his eyes to be seen. He looked fightened. He shivered as he began to speak.
“Whoo….. ee….. ..is..it?” is all he could manage, half not wanting to know the answer.
Max had sat there, that very spot since morning, waiting, dreading this very moment.
Startled Vanessa, smiled at him, the most beaultiful smile, but didn’t answer. Her eyes sparkled in excitement. She quickly checked her lipstick in the mirror, brushed her hair with her long fingers, and rushed to the door, swinging it open in one quick movement, without answering Max.
Max screamed, covering his face completely now. His heart was pounding faster than ever.
“Melissa!..” exclaimed a very happy lookingVanessa.
“You look beautiful!”, she continued, as she stared at a young lady in a long flowing white dress. She had black mascara on, smugged around her eyes, making her dark citcles seem prominent. Her lips a strange, but beautiful red. Her lips seemed to have sucked out all the blood from her body, as her skin looked painfuly pale. Her short golden hair moved gracefuly behind her smooth, spotless, beautifuly shaped face, dancing gracefuly in the breeze.
Melissa refused to smile, but still looked beautiful. The pitch black night sky outlined her beautifuly shaped body.
“That’s a lovely white dress you’re wearing.. you look fantastic!” exclaimed Vanessa, giving the warmest of smiles.
It was the first time Max had seen Melissa. He remained motionless, just inspecting, watching quietly from a distance.
“I knew you’d make it! I had been… Infact!.. We had been waiting for you”, Vanessa said with a smile, as she pointed to Max, who remained motionless at the middle of the staircase. A safe distance, he thought. He peeped through the gaps formed between his fingers, while beads of sweat seemed to roll down his face. Vanesaa took Melissa by the arm, and led her to the dining table. But the new guest didn’t leave her gaze off Max.
“Look, I’ve made your favourite..Lazagnia with extra cheese…”
“.. it’s Max’s favourite too!” Vanessa continued chirpilly, hoping to get a smile from Melissa, but failed.
Max continued to stare down, with a blank expression on his face.
He watched quietly, as Vanessa talked and talked while she set the table for an early dinner, while Melissa continued her quiet spell.
It was not long, before he noticed both the ladies looking at him. His ears, body felt lifeless.
“Come, darling!…let’s eat…. don’t be stubborn!” said Vanessa, offering a hand,.
Max didn’t move. He was then carried down and placed on the chair opposite the guest.
Vanessa then continued to serve herself and the guest and went on with their dinner, while Max watched them.
Fourty five minutes later, and after a lot of thought, Max built up courage to approach Melissa. He chose a time when his grandmother was back in the kitchen, fetching desert bowls, and after she had cleared the table.
Max reached down, and carefully advanced towards the other end of the table. He took one careful step at a time. Vanessa had noticed him, but didn’t react. She didn’t want to distract him.
Once he reached Melissa’s chair, he asked in a shivery voice, “Gra – eh -and ma?”
“Whe-ere es mommee now?”
“Don’t be silly dear…. She is sitting right in front of you.”
Frightened Max put one shiverring hand out, moving it, as if to stroke Melissa’s hair, but ended up waving his hand in the air instead.
Max walked back to his seat. He sat there quietly, while Vanessa served him his first food of the day – a piece of his birthday cake.
Max played with his piece of cake on the plate, while his legs dangled in the ait. Vanessa looked content.
“Does Melissa like my cake?”, asked a hopeful Max.
“Yes. She does, dear!.. Very much.” responded Vanessa.
Max looked up at a photo of him on the wall. In the picture, he was being carried by a young version of Vanessa, standing along with a beautiful, young lady, with long, flowing golden hair. Vanessa saw him looking at the picture, and told him that it was a picture taken before the accident. He stared at it, looking at Melissa’s beautiful smile.
After a while, little Max looked around.
He looked confused, dazed, lost at the same time.
“Where is Melissa now, grandma?” asked a concerned Max.
“Oh, Honey, she’s gone.”
After a minute of silence, Max asked
“But isn’t she dead Grandma?”
“Max!… ” screamed a furious Vanessa.
He remained quite for a while, and then asked
“Does she love me, Grandma?”
“Of course, she does, dear”
“Will mommy come for my next birthday as well?”
“I am sure, she will … she promised…she’ll come like she always does.”
“Every year!”, Vanessa said, as a tear drop trickled down her cheek as she turned around from an empty window, and picked up little Max by his arm.
She screamed, screamed so hard, her face turned red, as she looked at Max’s other arm dangling in the air. She stared in horror at a huge opening in Max’s right arm, oozing with oodles and oodles of cotton.
She held the remains of Max’s right arm in one hand, her lips pressed into a thin line and her pencil thin eyebrows drawn low.
“Who did this to you? Was it Melissa?” asked a furious Vanessa, half not expecting an answer while she hurried to her drawer, desperately searching, when finaly she found and took out a sewing kit and placed it, heavily on the table.
“Don’t you worry. Grandma is going to take good care of you.” Vanessa said as she removed a long needle, and a longer roll of white thread. Quickly stuffing back the oozing cotton from Max’s right hand, and began stiching it carefuly, as she whispered into his tiny, furry ears,
“Don’t worry dear, your mother, Melissa will not be here for at least a while now. You are safe.”
“It’ll just be you and me.”
Max’s shiny button eyes stared blankly back at Vanessa.