The two towers ...
This one's gonna be long. You have been warned! ;)
The ivory tower is an interesting place, I was thinking ... here, within our protected academic surroundings, we run a quaint little meritocratic system where people with smart brains rapidly gain importance. But what does all this importance actually accomplish in the long run, especially in the context of the entire world, that lies outside this tower?
What will I be when I have done my doctorate, and somehow managed to cruise past mid-age, when its time to look back and take stock of what I have accomplished? Do I want to be an "accomplished researcher" or is that just a fancy way of saying "anonymous engineer"? When I step out of academics, would anyone care about who I am or what I did? Would the guy next to me in the bus treat me with respect because I have a doctorate in engineering?
Thats when I noticed the Hiranandani complex, and the scene from LOTR came to my mind, with the transition from Saruman's toilings in Orthanc, to Sauron's all-seeing eye on Barad-dur. I was standing on a pretty building, that is part of an institute meant to be at the forefront of academic activities in India. And right across, stands one of the complexes in Mumbai that represent the rich - the ones with the real power and authority in todays world of the Vaishya.
If I really want to gain satisifaction in my life's work, I do have to make this choice some day - do I want to be the great researcher and anonymous engineer like the dwarves that made Sauron's rings, or do I want to go out in the world, learn its ways and hope to become Mithrandir one day?