Monday, July 13, 2009

The boring one

This is one of those boring posts, where I speak about myself. I started writing this one at the beginning of the year. Six months later, I remembered that I was still to complete it, and quickly wrapped things up. Then I sat on it for another month, wondering if I should go ahead with publishing it. There are a million other things I'd like to add here, but I am trying to keep it short. Anyway, here it goes:
Hmmm... five frigging years is what it's taken me to complete my engineering. I have been at it for almost a fourth of my life, actually more if you consider the effort I put in to get in. Let's start from the beginning. Back in school, I wasn't a particularly exceptional student, but may be because I never really tried to be one. I had always put in a bare minimum effort, and gotten surprising results. Born in the South, n then after spending a little time in the East, my only weakness, on migrating to the North, was Hindi. I could speak alright, but couldn't even read it, let alone write in Hindi. I was forced to attend extra classes for it n that was that. Another one of my weaknesses, or rather more of a fear, was mathematics. Class 10th, in one of the trivial tests, I assumed that a part of the syllabus would be excluded, but I realized that my assumptions were wrong as soon as I got the question paper which contained a majority of questions from that assumed excluded portion. For the first time in my life I had flunked an exam, and with this, in me was instilled the fear of mathematics. It was a Friday the 13th. Next came class 11th, when everybody started preparing for the entrance exams, everybody but me. So just to follow the herd, in class 12th, I too joined an institute which wasn't one of the popular ones, just so that I didn't have to waste 2 hours a day just traveling. Anyway, I didn't fill out half the colleges I should have, hoping that I'd get into one of the two local colleges, which unfortunately (or should I say fortunately?) I didn't. Getting away from home was one of the positive things that came along. I often wonder, how n where I would have been, had things not turned out the way they did. My first year, well what can I say about it. I had experiences that I probably wouldn't forget in a life time. There I was, a geeky looking fellow, the kind everybody picked on in school, the kind who'd get in a friendly fight every other day, all alone, and that was how it was going to stay for the next one year. My first day in college, I fell ill. It was truly a blessing in disguise. For nearly a month, I donned a sweater, popped pills, n lost every ounce of fat I had (not that I had much to begin with). It was the strangest time in my life, a time where I did whatever anyone would ask me to do. My illness helped me stay out of trouble, and my peers were all jealous of me. The entire first year, I barely ever got out of college. If I were to count the number of times I did venture out, I think I'd be able to do so on my fingertips. I think it was the pain of travelling by public transport, more than fear of the unknown place, that kept me in the hostel. And if I did venture out, it was mostly on a bike, as a pillion, because back then, I couldn't ride. One thing I did back in the first year, was get to know people, most of them seniors. Since once they knew you, they didn't trouble you. Remembering names wasn't tough either; all you had to do was call them all sir. But everybody knew W. In my first year, I was forced to do a lot of things that I didn't want to, one of them being taking part in the college inter branch festival. Of all the other events, I took part in Just-A-Minute. I thought how hard could speaking for a minute be, right? Wrong! For me, it turned out to be one of the hardest things I'd ever done. For one, I know when I make a mistake, n I have to correct myself, which is the worst possible thing to do. I was selected not because I was any good at it, but rather because there were too few people who had volunteered to take part in it (the rest of them preferred cheering for others, rather than taking part in events). So any way, it wasn't until D-day that I realized that I was going to be up on a stage, oooooh n then came stage fright. The only time I'd been on stage before was back in class 5th, to sing a song (in a choir of course), and this one time that I played an electronic keyboard (i think it was in class 8th), once again in a group that was large enough that a misplaced note couldn't be made out. So when I sat down, on the stage, with glaring lights in my face, my eyes started watering. In my mind, I cursed the lights, using one of the curse-words I had then recently learnt staying at the hostel, bad move. I tried to get the word out of my mind, lest it spilled out while I was jaming, n then my mind was filled with all the colourful words i knew. I tell you, those were the worst few minutes I spent on stage, and am still haunted by it, each time I have to give a presentation. Time passed, I became healthier, seasons changed, blah, blah, blah. If there was one thing that saddened me, it was my performance in the exams. It wasn't that I didn't study. Even after the exams, I was confident enough to score well. What I did not know then was that I was going to score the lowest marks (even relatively) I'd ever scored, and that it was going to be the highest I was going to score in long long time. Near the end of the first year, before I was to leave for home for the prep leave, I had, what was then the longest day in my life, or at least that was what I called it. It was such an eventful day, that I was inspired to write a diary entry of it. Little did I know, that even four years from then, I'd still be able to recollect the day, as if it was just yesterday. It started just like any other day, and no matter where I went, trouble followed me. At the end of that day, I had paid, around a total of 400 bucks in fine, to 3 different people, (none of them being the college authority in case you were wondering, they were all cops) apart from all the other bad things that happened to me that day. But now that I look back at that fateful day, I wouldn't mind reliving it, because that was the day I first rode a bike, and that was the day I made a friend for life. Before I knew it, I was in my second year. Winds of change began to blow. It was in my second year that I explored the no longer new city that I was in. Second year was a time when I went out for dinner, every week night. It was when I bought a computer; n didn't even know how to install an OS. The evening I bought my computer, I spent the entire night, trying to install an operating system on it. In fact, at least 10 other (knowledgeable) people I knew came to help too. But it was only after about 50 tries, that I could finally install my OS (Damn you! RAID drivers). I didn't realize back then how important this system was gonna be to me. Soon though, I started playing computer games, n even got pretty good at a few of them, if I may say so myself. The one thing that I didn't realize was that how much harm these games could do to me. It was in my second year, that I discovered music. I started off with hip-hop, because of the beat, just to get back at my room-mate who'd torture me with his classical Indian music, until one day that someone parked about 20GB of music on my hard-drive. That was when I reached out to other genres. During the first semester of my second year, my sister got married; n it was right before my exams. Needless to say, my already suffering studies went haywire. I still remember the day when the results came, it was the first time I had cried since I had come to college. I buried my head deep in my blanket, n under a pillow; n silently sobbed myself to sleep. During the next semester exams, there was a lot of pressure on me, because of the backlogs, and under that pressure, I crumpled. This one time I had three consecutive exams, and for three consecutive days, I didn't sleep. 58 hours; that was the longest I'd ever stayed up in a single stretch. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get myself out of the quicksand I had stepped into. It was in my second year that I perfected my riding skills, and at the end of the first semester, I convinced my dad to buy me a bike. My dad had even sent me the money to buy the bike of my choice (actually everybody's choice, because of TINA (there is (now was) no alternative)), but then I rode a bullet which was older than I was then, n that was when I changed my mind and decided against going in for any other bike. At the end of my second year, when my parents were moving to the town where my college is, I convinced my dad to buy me a bullet. And everyone knows where the story went from there. My bike in turn inspired two more people to but a bullet, n I am sure there are more who’d go in for one because of me. At the beginning of my third year, all I could think of was about riding my bike. I've always disliked getting wet in the rain, but when I got my bike, rain or hail, I had to ride. I remember this one time, when my bike broke down, the first time it ever broke down, n how clueless I was, as to what could have gone wrong. That day, I had to have my bike towed (by another Enfield), n that was the day I decided to get to know about everything there was, that could go wrong in my bike. To this day, people give me their bikes to test ride, so that I can help them troubleshoot. Then, one day, my b'day came, and I rode like a maniac that day, on my way to college. Then at this one point my bike ran out of fuel. This was something that I was not familiar with, n assumed that I'd probably broken my bike (still hadn't tried understanding what all could go wrong with a bike), n so I pushed my bike for half a kilometer before I ran out of breath. I decided to ditch the bike n walk to college to get help. As I was removing the key from the fuel lock, it struck me that I might have run out of fuel. So I twist the key, the other way around (the reserve fuel) kick it once, n no luck. Then I pulled on the choke (something I'd then, only recently learnt about) and kicked it, n finally it started. So I set off to college once again, n I barely went 10 meters, before I decided to check if I'd put the choke back in. Doing less than 20 Km/hr, I checked on the choke with my right hand, n when my bike went into a pothole, the jerk broke my left wrist, n I fell down. As my head was scraping on the road, right in front of my eyes, my rear view mirror shattered, and pieces of it cut my chin open (which required 3 stitches). I walked over to the college, called my dad en-route, telling him that I might require stitches. As I was getting my chin cleaned up at college, my HoD told me that I hadn't done so well in my exams. Battered and bruised, both physically and mentally, I tried going about life, as sequaciously as possible, for as long as possible, hoping for the best, secretly knowing that things couldn't possibly improve. For the next eight months, the only agenda was to get through with the day, n whiling away time turned out to be to be the hardest thing to do. But I managed to get through with it, even though I'd reached the brink of depression. Then came my third year (encore, as I like to call it). I moved back to the hostels, n things started improving. I started exploiting my new found freedom, and had to pay the price, as I was expelled from the hostel on the basis of a misdemeanor. It was strange you know, going back home, the place I'd dreaded for the past 6 months (6 months, because I'd shifted during my year at home) So the first thing I did was shift out of the depressing room that I was in earlier. The morale stayed a little low for a while, but soon I was doing better again, n was walking the line. Frankly, of all the time in college, this year (if I had to pick an year) was the most satisfying one. This was the year I started to give up upon studies. Although I did work hard (in comparison to other years), I'd really given up hope when it came to results. that's when I realized a universal principle, the lesser you care, the lesser it hurts. Someone once gave me a piece of advice, and I'd laughed at it initially, but I took the advice, n that's when I stopped fearing the exams. These were the exact words "Beta W ek cheez yaad rakhna, pen mat rukne dene exam mein. Pen rukka toh paper down." (Never stop writing during an examination. If you stop writing, you are gonna flunk). You know what, engineering is not about learning at all. It's all about beating the system. 'Cause everywhere I look, all people are trying to do is beat the system, and to be honest, they all managed to get over with the course before me. I have a friend who once only attempted one section (out of two) of an exam, and in that too all he wrote were the lyrics of a few of his favourite songs. Guess what, he scored 22 marks!!!. I mean if he had only written more songs in the next section, who knows, he might have even passed the exam. Anyway, the rest of the year went by uneventfully (aka, well, since events aren't usually the pleasant kind). An extra year in college doesn't really hit you, till you bid goodbye to your friends. That's when it hits you, when you are left all alone. I remember the farewell, my friends had. That was a day I was sad. Not sad that my friends were graduating before me, but sad because the realization dawned me as to how badly I had messed up. When I ride, I feel euphoric. Everything around me fades away, and nothing really matters then. I rode like crazy that day, hoping it would all fade away. My final year at college started off well, in fact way better that I had hoped for it to start. Remember the how-goes-life graph in my previous post? Well that graph says it all. A lot happened in that time, n worst of all, I crashed my bike, n was in bed for a month. Like I'd just said, riding helps me block out pain. And here I was, in my bed, forced to brood over everything that I'd messed up. Luckily, I moved out of that house soon after I got out of bed. Things started changing for the better. I somehow got through the semester n before the next one started, I decided to keep myself busy from then on. And I wouldn't like to speak about my recent past. May be I'll post something after some time has passed by. All I can say is that I am glad it is finally over. Strangely, by the end of it all, I have gotten rid of all my fears. I am not afraid of vivas, I am not afraid of interviews, I am not afraid of exams and I am not afraid of Maths or Hindi (because I would probably never have to take an exam for either of em :D ), not any more. And though public speaking still gets me a little nervous, I can manage to pull things off. Like I've probably said before, each time the words if only come to my mind, it makes me wonder, what all in life I would have missed out on, had my dreams come true. For this is the only life I know of. Or like this quote from the movie Ghost Town, that I can't remember at the moment, which goes like, you have just one life, so stop whining about the things you messed up and start living.

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