What happens in Kolkata, stays in Kolkata

I know, Kolkata ain't Vegas. A lot of wonderful comments came in when I declared that I will be visiting USEFI for a guest lecture. Which was all fine, until Shreya suggested that I reveal the details, and I thought about the incident again. So, here's the story:

It was I who had initiated the process in the first place. I had emailed the coordinator at USEFI Kolkata asking if he could arrange a short gathering where two of us at www.edulix.com could come and spread the word about the website. As soon as he said yes, I did not waste a single moment in publicizing this. Family knew first: my mom was of course thrilled to know this. I started dropping hints 'subtly' to my friends:
- "Hey, I'm going home this December. You need anything from Kolkata?"
- "Umm... not really... but wait! You don't live there, do you?"
- "Naah, but you know, I have been invited to give a guest lecture at USEFI, Kolkata"
- "Oh really? Cool!"

Or here's a better way of bringing up the topic with relatives living in or around Kolkata:
- "Hey, can you tell me how I reach this USEFI center at Kolkata?"
- "Err... why do you need to go there?"
- "Oh I've been invited there for a guest lecture" [in the most offhand dismissive fashion I could muster]

From a self-initiated blabber out of the blue, I was already invited to be a guest lecturer at the place. I found a million other excuses to bring up the topic whenever the word 'Kolkata' was uttered. When people asked me about my itinerary at home, I would blabber it all out, except the date when I was supposed to be at the center. They would inevitably ask, "And what are you doing that day?" So, it was they who wanted to know about it, not me spreading the word. Heh... heh... heh.

The co-ordinators at USEFI then decided to tie the event into the itinerary of a day-long expo at the center, concluding with a panel discussion on what to expect as life in the US as a student. This was where I was supposed to come in, and some other speakers were invited to be on the panel as well. When I came to know of this, here is how I presented it to people: "You know, since I'm giving a guest lecture there, they have scheduled a day-long event around it!". Never mind mentioning that it was a panel discussion and not a guest lecture; and that I will not be the only person giving the lecture that day. Hehe... like they say, never let the truth come in the way of a good story. :D

On the day, I made sure I dressed like a cool dude. Even though there was a nip in the January afternoon air, I wore just a T-shirt that proudly proclaimed "Texas", a cool denim, shaved myself prim and proper, put on a lot of deodorant, and reached there about 30-40 mins earlier. When no-one really knows you, it is never a good idea to be late. I asked them since I was early, if I could stroll through the USEFI library. I was allowed in with special privileges: you generally need a membership card to go in. "He's on the panel today: please let him in" :)

And then the discussion began. Given a chance to brag about the university, you don't really need to pull your punches, and that too about a top-10 CS department. A lot of 'interesting' ladies were there in the audience, and so after I said that I am working in the field of Artificial Intelligence, I also added, "3-4 years down the line, I would be one of those mad scientists making evil robots" :D. People knew right away that I had a great sense of humour!

Afterwards, all of us on the panel were asked to take up different parts of the room so that people with any questions could come and ask us any individual questions. After initially disclaiming that I didn't know anything beyond CS, and that too beyond much of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing, people still had questions about every field. So, I proceeded to enlighten people about everything from Business Schools in Los Angeles to how to arrange for funds if you're planning to study Astronomy and Radio Physics. Man, I felt so important when even after I stepped out, people (and that includes pretty girls) kept asking for my email address. :D

So now you know, what happens in Kolkata, stays in Kolkata. :)


  1. Or maybe what happens in kolkatta gets splashed on to yr widely read blog :)


  2. hear, hear! i second the above comment. so what happened with the 'interesting laydeez'?

  3. I am hearing of USEFI for the first time. :--)

    And nice job with the 'shirking off fame' :--)

  4. so i guess the question is - how many emails did you really end up receiving, especially from the 'interesting ladies'???

  5. "never let the truth come in the way of a good story." I like the quote , Im sure Im gonna use it more often :). So u goin places eh?

  6. Sky, widely read, umm... not really. But splashed, yes of course! Like you keep telling me, modesty isn't really my middle name.

    Galadriel, oh, nobody sent an email! :(

    SK, thanks! :)

    Mala, ektao aaseni: no emails from said 'interesting' ladies.

    Maverick, hey long time no see! Oh yes of course... thats a wonderful quote, innit? :)

  7. "When no-one really knows you, it is never a good idea to be late."

    loll.. very true :)

    and a lil bit of nabbing with the organisers/owners, so that we can show off to ppl who come in late as if v r the king der!!

  8. Sudipta,the single bright star in the Texas sky from NIT Surat,always enlighting others :D

    Hope you still remember me :P.

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  10. What happens when someone is asked to give a lecture where he is asked to preen professionally,answer random questions and gets to end his rendezvous with pretty ladies asking him for his email-id?

    He splashes it in his blog of course,and none too modestly. :P

  11. Spirited, hehe... any publicity, my dear, is good publicity!

  12. "People knew right away that I had a great sense of humour!"

    prolaiming to have a good sense of humor in a so in-your-face way is not a good communicator of good sense of humor. subtlety. subtlety, my friend, works wonders. :)

    and being a regular of the american center complex and usefi, i can say one doesn't necessarily need membership to enter the room. security noose is pretty loose.

  13. didn't publicize the blog there, did you? :p

  14. Stanley Ipkiss, man, you were the only person who came so close to getting the real intent of the post -- the humour was not in what I did there, but how I posted it here. But you get the medal for coming close, anyway. And we shall keep the security noose under wraps for now, shall we? :)

    BTW, it is interesting how a search for "USEFI Kolkata" landed you on my blog.

    P.S. - Interesting nick!

    Gradwolf, I would have loved to! But unfortunately, no :(

  15. It surely doesnt stay in Kolkata, and you made sure it didnt.
    It was great...


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