Naan fiction

The story of my life
What is a blog without a space for some gossip, joys and frustrations of one’s life? It is not that tit-bits from my life are of interest to you or that it matters. Writing in a blog is like singing in a bathroom – it is a place for self-expression. It is written for the sake of writing, with no expectation that anyone will read it. Like bathroom singing, at best it amuses those who happen to hear it and at worst it annoys. I recognise that you, my reader, have reached this place in your journey to somewhere else and while you are here, I hope to amuse more than annoy.

P.s. You must be wondering why this is called “naan fiction”. Naan in Tamil means Me or I; welcome to the story of my life.


This is the fourth post I am writing today when I should be writing my paper. The term is about to end and I just don’t feel like reading or writing (don’t ask me what enables me to write all these posts, that’s the irony about me). I have been working on my topic for an year now, and am yet to defend my proposal. If I am topic fatigued now, what will become of me when I get to the writing stage? I know that I have to make writing fun – and it has often been the case. […]

Lantern & the sea: a dream to make dissertation writing ...


For the last three or four months, I have just not felt like reading anything. I have not stopped reading…but that which I read has been random stuff. My comprehensive exams are not far away, and I am in no mood to do any sustained work. Infact, I came to the office with the idea of reading and writing a paper; instead, I am writing this blog post. Part of the problem is that I’ve run out of exciting new books. I dont claim that there are none around – but I have not been able to lay my hands […]

I don’t feel like reading


Ph.D. is a long haul & often a tiresome journey. Knowing oneself well can make the process fun, quick & worthwhile I audited a wonderful course on doing a dissertation with Prof. Nick Smith in the department of education at SU. A small part of the course was about methods, theories, and other academic paraphrenalia that make up the dissertation. Instead, his main concentration was to prepare us mentally to do the dissertation well and enjoy it. If there is one lesson that was central to the lectures, it is “know yourself”. Knowing one’s body rythms, when we feel like […]

Dissertation troubles & the importance of knowing oneself



One of the biggest challenges in writing a proposal is to narrow down our interests to choose a topic In three days, I would have defended my dissertaion proposal, and it feels good to think that I’ll get it out of my way. It looks like the proposal is one of the biggest time killers among Ph.D. students; it is indeed a challenge to move from a variety of ideas to a defendable proposal. Most of us come to a Ph.D. with a broad set of interests and it feels awkward to narrow it down into a topic that almost […]

On narrowing focus for dissertation proposal


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Cyril invited me to do a small part in the SJC annual play, a valuable source of “free attendance” I was pleasantly surprised when Cyril invited me to play a small part in the Tamil Play for the annual day of St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchy. I was to be a muscle man who beats up Cyril with a few others towards the end of the play. Since I had no dialogues, I started skipping away to the library and other activities after two rounds of practice. I got together next only for the grand rehearsal. These are normally held only […]

Playing the muscleman in the SJC annual play


My publications on Tamil Nadu's public services, right to food and other issues.

List of publications



It has snowed a lot in Syracuse last night, and the forecast is that it will snow a lot more. My walk to the school was fun like never before – loads and loads of snow all around, submerged cars (no sadism here – but it was just incredible to see it all), and an entirely new look and feel to the whole city/town/village (not sure what Syracuse is). On top of all this fun, they’ve advanced the women’s basket ball game and have announced that there will be no entry fees! Having done my masters in Economics, I know […]

Snow is beautiful & I hope no one in Syracuse ...


Hi: I am Vivek.  If you insist, I am S. Vivek and I don’t have a surname.  If you wish to be formal, you can call me Mr. Vivek, which in my culture is quite appropriate.  My identity cards in the US specify my name as Vivek Srinivasan and I get quite a few polite letters calling me Mr. Srinivasan; which happens to be my father.  Much as I like him, I find it odd that he gets the credit for things I do.  For example, a local newspaper reported a talk I gave at Syracuse as ‘Srinivasan said this […]

Look, I don’t have a surname


My efforts to set priorities and work by a schedule were constantly defeated – often leading to a sense of desperation. But funnily, each time I reviewed my priorities for the year, I was more or less working along the lines though I scarcely met my targets day-to-day. I have been thinking of it for a while but started taking it seriously only after talking to a friend who had a similar problem: in the long run, we seem to keep up to a plan, but are erratic in the short run. I guess this is perhaps because of my […]

Time Management for an undisciplined fellow!



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Haircuts are expensive in the US.  The shops near the university charge 16 USD each time – that’s almost half a month’s rent I paid in Delhi!  But I guess with some looking around, there’s always a way out.  I found a way to have a four dollar haircut. A hairstyling school near the university needs volunteers for their students to do some hands on training, and they offer haircuts at one-fourth the normal price.  After the students work on you, the teacher comes to give the finishing touch and I was told that the overall experience is satisfactory.  Last […]

Four Dollar Hair-cut


After ten months of it being stolen, I got my passport back! I lost it in October 2005 along with my pouch and an assortment of materials in it. There was some cash in it but not much. It’s ten months since I lost it, it has miraculously returned. Minus the pouch, a mobile and the cash all else has been returned – and in good condition. The returned items include a few post-it notes I maintained in the pouch, few scrap papers with notes scribbled in them, a pocketbook, a telephone book, old photos, et al. My packet was […]

A responsible thief


She is interesting…and intriguing. Somewhere along the line, I developed an urge to understand her. I normally don’t attempt to understand abstract maths, modern art, and women. For a little over a forth of a century, I successfully resisted any temptation to understand them. There was one slip though, when a friend convinced me that abstract maths was just like the rest of maths. I applied myself with tremendous energy and soon the ‘rest of maths’ started appearing hazy too. I told him that the rest is now looking abstract. He was rather pleased at my newfound understanding. I tried […]

Miss Understanding



A letter to friends on the eve of my departure to USA to start my Ph.D. at Syracuse University   Dear friends, One is all set to depart: sixty-four kilos of luggage worth a princely sum of twenty-five thousand rupees and sixty kilos of me…well, I don’t know my worth, but I am insured for one lakh USD until September 6! Accumulating these have occupied a good part of my three months stay at Chennai. You won’t believe what an inveterate shopper I’ve become: each time I pass a mall, I’ve been stopping by to purchase things. And you won’t […]

Adieu India


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I am known for my dress sense…I mean the lack of it.  At the age of 27 I did the biggest cloth shopping of my life with my best friend I just purchased cloths worth 11 K, which is more than all that I’ve bought in the last decade put together. Needless to say, that’s an experience worth recording for me. Having ‘me’ purchase cloths – that too so many was an experience for the shopkeepers too, that wont come as a surprise to those know me. I was accompanied by one of my finest friends – an inveterate shopper, […]

Vivek goes shopping