Dissertation pressure is mounting up day-by-day. Just one month is left now for the deadline. I am working on my project. But, not all the time. Thanks to reliable internet connection in university student halls, I can often take my mind off with some good movies.

I watch lot of movies through video-sharing free websites. Youtube has many of them. Netflix is offering one month free access. I am quite addicted to it now. I normally watch almost anything, unless it’s too serious. I can watch those too, it’s just that I am not in right frame of mind now, I’d rather some light relief like an action or a comedy!

I have a friend who picks up a director or actor and then surfs through their entire work. It’s crazy! To this day, I am not sure how to tag him – movie-geek or movie-freak!

Interestingly, I watched two films which deal with more serious stuff – relationship. And more interestingly, it’s a particular relationship – brother-sister.  The first one was ‘People like us’ and the second ‘You can count on me’.

I really enjoyed both movies as I have a sister of my own, may be that’s the reason. My most joyous moments and worst fights that are etched into my memory, are with her only. You can search through Jennifer Lawrence’s interviews how her brothers helped and troubled her throughout. It’s kind of de-facto standard of brother-sister relationship. You can go as far as you can, but you can’t stay away from it.

Speaking of which, so is the internet. Other broadcast mediums are now getting thinner compared to internet pervasiveness. TV stations have now started their pay-for channels in internet. Previously, people used to listen to TV or radio for news. Now, they watch twitter or RSS feeds to get it. It’s quicker and faster that way. In fact, there is an emerging area of e-science which deals with visualization and data mining on free available data on web. It’s an amalgam of social science, computing and many other domains. And, it’s producing unforeseeable results.


This week, I have worked in animation festival 2013 – Animation13. The annual animation festival runs in its 6th year since inception. It is a UK wide festival organized by our School of Computer Science and open to UK school students aged 7 to 19. This year entries are received from 1,583 students (154 schools). From all these entries, 41 students from 24 schools are honored on the award day – Friday 12th July. You can browse the details here.

The day went really well, with greeting of guests at morning, managing key activities at afternoon, helping guests throughout the day etc. Funny thing though, the graduation for the undergrads were going on just a building away – Whitworth Hall. Now, some of student helpers came to street with animation day posters to guide the guests to the venue entrance. Note the venue – Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama! Honestly, it is not that easy to find the building. Although, I admit it is a superb venue considering the auditorium and large theaters. Moreover, parking lot is also not far away.

Anyway, the shirt we were wearing that day are the purple shirt that is used across university and is almost the official student helper signature. We faced all kinds of queries – related to graduation, how to reach to Whitworth Hall, Manchester Museum, restaurants and other university buildings. We even never heard of some of those building names before. I guess, the signboard of animation day didn’t help much to avoid these queries. People just looked at our purple shirt and thought to use us as local google! 🙂

The hot day made the street jobs even worse, specially at the entrance of Oxford Road, due to direct sunlight to your face. Luckily before the start of the day, we had a nice informal group chat, got to know other student helpers well. That came handy to make few adjustments. Keeping our health in mind, we switched our routines after each half an hour to get the street job going.

Let me tell you, managing kids is one of toughest jobs in the world. But, there were enough student helpers around. Few student helpers from the Music and Drama department were also present to set up the presentation systems. Kudos to those folks who presented hands-on activities at the afternoon. Those activities were the real crowd-puller. Even we got fascinated by those activities. There was also an amazing keynote talk by Dr. Gavin Brown. And all of these would not be possible without the superb administration of event committee, under leadership of Toby Howard.

Speaking of presentation systems, Amar Bose, the founder of Bose Corporation, recently passed away. He created the iconic Bose sound systems, which we all dream of owning one. The presentation systems at Matin Harris Centre were also excellent. All kids had a great time. I sincerely believe, childhood is the best period of life. Events like animation festival help kids to dream further. You can check out the winner entries from the official website. Most of these entries are really cool!

Trip to Mam Tor

Along with studies, we have come across many nice people. One such Good Samaritan hosted me and my friend this weekend. The idea was to hike Mam Tor together. Mam Tor is the highest mountain in Peak District and a famous tourist spot. We had been to places very few times, due to academic pressure and lack of personal vehicle. But, we have seen Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in United Kingdom in its snow-capped form, on our trip to Scotland in December. That was quite a sight, although it would be less exciting for someone like me who has seen Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, in full-moon. You have to see it to believe it! Just Amazing! Naturally, we saw Mam Tor as just a hiking trail. And we were sure with the nice company we had, the hike would be good fun.

Mam Tor

Before travel, me and my friend visited Curry Mile to get our lunch for the day. The food was much fresh and less costly than the super-brand shops. By the time we picked our lunch, our host arrived. He had a nice car which we three got along to Peak District. Except a brief period of busy traffic, the road was smooth. It was easy to understand that we were going towards countryside, just from the change in surroundings with lot of greenery coming in picture. We went past Lyme Park. “Pride and Prejudice” fans might know about this park, currently maintained by the National Trust. On our way up and down, we saw few airplanes sailing in very low altitude. Our host told that this is the route of airplanes flying to and from the Manchester airport. This route is chosen with direction of air flow to maximize air traffic efficiency.

We reached at our destination a little after noon. Many hikers and bikers were already there. After surfing through the nearby village, we decided to hike towards the mountain peak. For the first time after coming in UK, I realized how bad state my fitness is in. I guess, this is the bad effect of spending long hours in front of computer. My friend, who is an asthma patient, was in trouble on the way up. Fortunately, the mountain height was not that much, just 517m. On our way up, we saw people paragliding, taking off from the mountain peak. Once we reach the peak, it was lovely sight to see the valley. the valley was named as Hope Valley. There was Sheffield on one side, Manchester on the other. From the top, one can easily spot white dots among greenery. Those were nothing but sheep grazing happily. The Sun was playing hide-and-seek among the clouds. We saw few trains passing far away. Nice view all around!

The Valley

After resting there for a while, we traveled through ridges in a man-made footpath, made of stones. The stones were laid out and used as footpath to prevent soil erosion from travelers’ walk. There was nice ambiance, with Hi-Hello going around among fellow hikers. Our host chose an unusual path for descend. We hiked through greenery this time on a rugged path. We came across a dormant motorway, destructed by landslide some time ago. We also noticed some mining activity nearby. Once we reached below, we took food from the car and traveled far away to find a quiet place to have our lunch. Interestingly, that place was also a resting place for sheep. We finished our lunch without disturbing the herd. On our way back to Manchester, the conversation was largely absent due to radio commentary of Wimbledon final. Our host dropped us at our accommodation. The day was well spent and it would not be possible without our host. Can’t thank him enough!


Recently, there was a graduate job fair at Armitage Center, Fallowfield. It was a two day event. Lot of companies came to interact with the students. Even before going to the event, we know chances are very less to get something fruitful. In case you follow recent news, you would know immigration is still a matter of huge debate in UK, specially when the election is approaching. First the post-study visa was suspended, then few EU countries were blamed for high immigration, and now the third chapter. Some countries including India are put in high-risk zone. Any traveler from that zone coming into UK needs to deposit a bond of £3000 at British Embassy before coming here. UK government is doing what it thinks would be best for its people, so that’s fine. But, an ominous message is received among employers.

We still decided to pay a visit to the fair. Before going, we checked the register of sponsors and identified potential employers that we were interested about. We also checked whether those companies are coming on the first or second day. With hell-ish weather, we arrived at the fair on the second day and found the event well organized. Some companies seemed to be genuinely interested after checking our profile. But at the end, the dreaded question of work permit came up. And though they are listed as official sponsor of work visa, they curtly replied that they would not be able to sponsor us. This is happening not only in the low or mid-size companies. Even bigger brands are avoiding international students. I personally know at least two instances of it.

Best way to have your visa extended is either a PhD admit or entrepreneurship. Few extraordinary people secure PhD admit, and even very few get funded PhD offer in UK. Visa extension on entrepreneurship is quite interesting. In that way, government can get some investment from international students. If it becomes successful, it will create further jobs for local people. But really, if someone has that good entrepreneurial quality, why would he/she want to risk the capital in a foreign market. They can very well set up business in their home country!

Anyway, back to academic world. The result will soon be published for the second semester. We all are pretty tense. Moreover, the project is going on. In all, life is pretty hectic these days. To exacerbate the matter, all kinds of construction/repair work is going on at my accommodation Whitworth Park. In case you want to sleep bit extra on some weekdays, the nice construction workers will volunteer to act as alarm bell. Few of my flatmates regularly flee to library or learning commons to find solace. Probably I have to resort to that as well. So much for the ludicrous rent!