As I neared the completion of my PhD, I felt much as I had imagined the Hobbit Frodo Baggins would have felt as he cast the One Ring into the smoldering crater of Mount Doom, after having encountered several trials, tribulations and anxieties on his monumental journey not to mention the recent loss of one of his fingers to the vicious jaws of Gollum just moments before the denouement of his quest. As the end approaches, relief blends with well-springs of gratitude. Had Frodo written his memoirs on the shores of Valinor, he would undoubtedly have devoted large sections of his chronicle to thank the many people who aided him in his seemingly impossible quest Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Men, Wizards and Ents among them. Now it is my turn to attempt to acknowledge the folk who aided me in my quest for a PhD.
Any journey such as this begins at home, in the Shire. I owe perhaps the deepest debt of gratitude to my own hobbit-folk the Baggins', Tooks, Brandybucks, Grubbs, Chubbs, Bolgers and Bracegirdles that are my family. I will start off with and would especially like to thank _____, Amma and Appa for their unconditional encouragement, patience, love and support for everything I have ever attempted to do. None of this would have been possible without them. Next I would like to thank the Bilbos of my world _____, ______ chittappa, ______ mama, ______ manni and ______ thatha for their indefatigable attempts at the rather thankless and perhaps Sisyphean task of infusing me with some worldly wisdom (buddhi). They persevered where mere mortals would have long since surrendered. ______, ______ and ______ added just the right amount of nonsensical amusement that allowed me to retain my sanity, while in the eyes of ______ and ______ patti I could almost do no wrong. I will be forever grateful to all of them. On to the Elves of Lothlorien: ______, ______, ______ chithi and ______ mama who ceaselessly provided me with 'lembas bread' (Sambhar, Rasam, Keerai, Kootu, Kesari and other Indian victuals) for my long journey, and indulged in healthy debates over every international, national, county and village cricket match that was ever played. ______, ______, ______ and ______ who transported me back to a lost world of innocence and bliss that I had all but forgotten. My years in California would not have been the same without them. I would like to thank ______ thatha, ______, ______ mama, ______, ______, ______ perima and ______ perippa, who influenced me through my formative years. Last but certainly not the least I am especially happy and proud to thank ______ the newest hobbit to join our fold and one with whom I will embark on several journeys in the years to come for her understanding, belief and support towards my quest. I dedicate the entirety of this work to all of these enchanted folk.
Any fantastical tale involves a Wizard (or three). My three committee members, a veritable mixture of Gandalf the Grey, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, provided me with an astonishing amount of wisdom, knowledge, guidance and support that helped me decimate every Orc, Troll or Balrog that I encountered throughout my perilous quest. Of these wise men, I would first like to thank my principal advisor ______ for his continuous support, confidence, comments and thoughts on my progress. I am convinced I learnt more about research from him than I could have anywhere else. I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Prof ______ and Prof ______ who held aloft the light of Earendil and illuminated my path as I navigated the webs of literature, methodology, analysis and writing that all constitute a PhD. Even as modest as my work might be, their guidance has helped it attain a quality that I did not think was possible at the onset. Many Ents, wise and un-hasty beings, also liberally bestowed their wisdom upon me, though they had no obligation to do so. Unplanned trysts with ______, ______ and ______ often led to matchless insights that cleared the cobwebs from my addled mind. Dr ______'s varied experiences and real-world insights contributed greatly to both my research and to my own personal life. I also benefited greatly through comments from Prof ______, Prof ______, Prof ______, Prof ______, Prof ______ and Prof ______ as well as from CIFE's and the NSF's support of my research.
What of the Fellowship? Of the Elves, Dwarves and Men that accompanied me through rain and snow? ______, ______ and ______ my office-mates and co-researchers whose work closely complemented my own, provided me with much needed solace and company as we spent long hours hunched over our terminals. Research is a social product, and I learnt as much from talking with them, as I did from my own lonely vigils with my data, journals and books. I would also like to express my heartfelt thanks to ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______ and all the other researchers who shredded my thoughts and presentations, and helped me patch it all back together into something even better.
My journey was not merely metaphorical. Just as Frodo left the Shire and marched boldly up the peak of lofty Caradhras, under and into the mines of Moria, through the woods of Lothlorien, across the Marshes and even into the land of Morder, my quest too led me to France and Germany, through Finland, across Taiwan and deep into India before its end. I would like to thank ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______ and others from ______ Inc. for accommodating my early data collection efforts. ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______ and ______ for their German hospitality. ______, ______, ______, ______ and ______ for their thoughts and introduction to Finnish culture. To ______, ______ and ______ for taking a chance on me and allowing me to visit projects in Taiwan. I cannot forget the Rohirrim or the Riders of Rohan and the Men of Gondor from India who came out in droves in my hour of need to provide me with data and insights that have formed the bulwark of my dissertation. ______, ______ and ______ eased my passage considerably and did not shy away from relating the 'real stories' that transpired on their projects. ______, ______ and ______ were far more cooperative than I could have ever wished for given the constraints on their time. ______ often provided me with lunch, enjoyable company and analytical insights into the Indian mind that proved invaluable in the final analysis. ______ graciously arranged for me to visit the project site and to talk to as many people as I possibly could. Not only did ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______ and several others on the projects in India and Taiwan provide me with anecdotes and data, their warmth, interest and encouragement made field research a far more enjoyable proposition than I had ever imagined it would be. I would also like to thank Prof. ______, Prof ______ and Prof K.N. ______ of IIT-Madras, as well as ______ of the Indian Railways for making my visit to India possible.
I would be amiss if I did not acknowledge the avocations that made my life at Stanford such a pleasurable experience. My interests and desire to contribute to social development and innovation were kindled through my interactions with BASES and ESW. Through conferences, speakers and conversations with ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______ and many others I spent delightful years learning about the magic of social change. ______, the EPATT kids and crew, and other tennis players and coaches at Stanford taught me about tennis and patience and provided me with some much-needed exercise. My "institutionalized values" have been molded and shaped by my numerous friends and teachers from ______, ______, ______ and other places ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______, ______ and ______ to name but a few of the multitude that I alas do not have the space to acknowledge. I am eternally indebted to all these people who have enriched my life and from whom I have learned so much.
Finally, every day of my life I have been grateful for all the fascinating things that I have been able to see and do and for this I thank God.
In Yeats' words, it was a 'lonely impulse of delight' that started my journey. Now the quest is nearing completion and I leave it to you to ascertain the extent of its practical or academic merit. However the scales of knowledge might value this work, it would not have been possible without all of these people that I have mentioned above. Wherever I turned I found support and inspiration, and through my meanderings I learned from all of you what Bilbo Baggins captured in verse:
All that is gold does not glitter
Not all who wander are lost
Friday, December 23, 2005
Our first "guest post". Sort of. More like a post extricated from guest under severe duress. Friend Tahei just submitted his Ph. D. thesis. We hereby present the "Acknowledgements" section of said monumental work, with all names blanked out. It loses some of its mood and vitality, but privacy needed to be protected and so on. Enjoy.