Nov 1, 2006

A painful funny story

I received this mail today. I don't know whether it's authenticate or not, but if it's true then it's a very sad incident. I am sharing the mail with you just as I received it but without giving the details of the sender :

Hi everyone,

I heard something today that I can't avoid sharing with all the people I know. The subject of the story is a senior friend of mine: Dr. Mahbub Majumdar. Mahbub bhai did his undergrad from MIT (electrical eng), an MSc from Stanford (civil eng) and PhD from Cambridge (theoretical physics, string-cosmology) . After PhD he had many offers but chose to do a post-doctoral fellowship at Imperial College (London) since he wanted to stay in England (by the way, in England, imperial college is the best place after Cambridge and Cambridge has a rule of not taking their own student as post-doc). I met Mahbub bhai and I can simply say that I never met anybody in my life so modest, honest and compassionate as Mahbub bhai. Just to give an example, Mahbub bhai received US$ 1000 per year forbooks as a part of his presidential scholarship. He used to spend this money buying books for Dhaka university library.

During his post doctoral years Mahbub bhai made frequent visits to Bangladesh and worked as a coach for the Bangladesh math Olympiad team. Only those who are involved with the hectic field of high energy physics knows what sacrifice this means.

Anyway, to our great surprise, Mahbub bhai (who was born and brought up in USA and can't even speak bangla very fluently) decided to join the Dhaka University Physics department as a faculty and failed to get any position. Today I heard what happened during the interview.

The "interview" was taken by Yusuf Haider, Badrul Alam and Aminur Rashid (I decided not to use any Sir after their name and comment on their character). During the interview they first raised question about Mahbub bhai's certificate from Stanford. The certificate showed the name of the university as Leland Stanford Junior University. The interviewers suspected that this is not the Stanford university
they heard of. At some point somebody suggested that they can look it up in the internet (you can do that too and make sure to take a look at seal of the university).

Then they asked him to write down the Maxwell's equations. Mahbub bhai wrote it down with exterior derivatives in one line (most useful and elegant form for theoretical physicists). The interviewers did not understand what he wrote and asked him to write it again. Mahbub bhai now wrote it with tensor notation. The interviewers again found it incomprehensible and asked for it again. At some point Mahbub bhai wrote all four Maxwell equations in a form understandable for first year physics students and everybody was happy.

Then the interviewers expressed their concern whether Mahbub bhai will be able to take care of first-second year labs since he does not have "relevant" experience. At some point, they asked him whether he read the advertisement properly and pointed out that they require the candidate to have a BSc in physics whereas Mahbub bhai has a bachelor in electrical engineering. Therefore, the interviewers decided that Mahbub bhai is not qualified to become a faculty of DU physics.

A senior friend of mine (who told me the story) commented: "I am happy that Mahbub did not get the job. It is good for his career. But I am sad for Bangladesh. "

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