Tuesday, June 30, 2009

That Saturday in Metro

Last Saturday, I went to Delhi to see my cousin. A very interesting incident happened while I was in the metro train from Rajiv Chowk (Connaught Place) to Yamuna Bank. There was a person travelling with his son. The child, who was around three years old, was really cute. But what drew my attention towards the father-son pair was the freedom which the man had given to his child in the train, especially when the train stopped and the automatic doors opened at the stations. The kid went near the doors and tried to act as if he would get down the train. Though this sent waves of fear down my spine and those of other passengers too, the two (father and son) seemed to enjoy this game a lot. A middle aged lady even warned the father about this obviously dangerous game they were playing but who listens these days? Everyone considers himself/herself smarter than the other. And who has the patient to silently stand/sit in a train for 10-15 minutes and enjoy the ride waiting for the destination? You might say, “Many have” but this person didn’t. This was quite visible in the train.

While the game continued, we reached Pragati Maidan station, where the climax of the entire drama was to be staged. After the doors opened and the child did his bit to amuse his father and the people around, the man moved out of the train all of a sudden with his son. It looked too weird to me. After all, why would anyone get down the train so long after the train came to a halt? May be, he had forgotten that this was the station where he had to get down he was just trying to show his smartness by getting down just in time. Many people consider it to be an act of smartness to board or leave the buses or trains in the last second. Or maybe it was another way of having fun while in the train. Well, as I was pondering over this, the doors began to close. The man was quick to realize this and he got into the train. But then he did a mistake. A mistake which is going to haunt him for a long time and more importantly, which perhaps taught him a lifelong lesson!! He left the hand of his son who couldn’t get into the train. This situation was too frightening. The man standing inside was shocked and had perhaps lost his voice for a moment. The kid, on the other hand, was screaming loudly outside trying to come near the train which was about to start in seconds while the father locked inside the train!! He could even fall from the platform on the tracks and then…………..

But then among the cries of "Jaldi karo, koi driver ko bolo” (be fast, someone tell the driver please), the doors opened and the child got in. Those who witnessed the drama got relieved, but most importantly the father got his nerves back.

After all this hullabaloo, started the ‘look, I had told you’ session. Though I generally don’t like listening to such session even if those are being delivered to someone else, I particularly liked this one. After all, the person’s foolishness had caused discomfort to other passengers (including me) who were in hurry to reach their destination.

And then what I saw surprised me more. The boy’s mother was also in the train but she had not spoken a word during the entire ‘fun & amusement’ episode. What a mother!! And what incredible parents!! And what kind of ‘rule breaker’ would the child grow into (well, breaking rules and having fun is what he must have been learning through all the experience)!!

This incident made me think over the consequences if something bad would have happened. What would have happened if the boy had actually fallen on the tracks? God forbid me but this was a possibility. Would the father have been at peace any day in his life? What about the mother? And more importantly, would he have done nothing in defaming Delhi Metro for the doors closed just in wrong time when he was having fun with his child breaching the safety rules? And most importantly, how would have the media presented it?

Well, I don’t want to go much into ‘what would have happened if…….’ but one thing is certain that some of the causalities around us take place because we are not very particular about the rules.

We generally take it as our birthright to enjoy ourselves without paying any heed to the rules. Or maybe we just want to have fun and get our business done without caring about anything. But while we do this, we must remember that ‘Lady Luck’ doesn’t care about us every day and there is no way to find out about her mood until something (bad) actually happens!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Advice

“Arey koi bhi school gadhe ko to ghoda nahi bana sakta na!! Kya fark padta hai ki tum DPS me padho ya kisi doosre school me. Tum jo ho wahi rahoge, phir tension kis baat ki hai??” (No school can convert an ass into a horse. so it doesn't matter whether you study at DPS or any other school. You will remain whatever you are. So why are you worried?)

This is what my papa’s friend told me when I was denied admission in DPS Bokaro Steel City after a very bad interview. Now, those of you who didn’t know this would say “But you completed your high school from DPS Bokaro. How is it possible?” But that’s another story and I would certainly tell that sometime later. So coming back to what my father’s friend told me: At that time, I took this sentence of his only as words of consolation without understanding the true meaning underlying it. Five years have passed and as I write this post and think about the sentence, I find the meaning so clear and so true. At the end of the day, it’s your natural intelligence, hard work and good luck that determines success in life and nothing else. No school or no college or nothing else has a say in it. There are many IITians who couldn’t achieve much in life. On the other hand, there are many others who achieved laurels without studying at the IITs ever.

Day before yesterday, I got a call from a student who has completed his first year of engineering from Birla Institute of Technology Mesra, Ranchi. This guy studied hard to get through IITJEE-09 during his first year of study at Ranchi. And through his hard work, he managed to secure a seat at IIT Roorkee. But the problem is he could only manage a seat in Civil Department. And to him Civil looks to be just a good branch. He is confused whether to stay at BIT Ranchi studying Electrical and Electronics (which he is enrolled in) or come to IIT Roorkee taking Civil.

He called me up for my advice on this asking which one of the two options is better. And to be honest, this put me in confusion. Which parameters should I use to say which one is better? Well, this point is true that the boy doesn’t have any interest in any of the subjects whether Electrical, Electronics or Civil. He just wants to complete four years of engineering and fly off with a hefty package at the end. So, the ‘interest parameter’ to judge which one is better is gone. Now comes the ‘institute parameter’. No doubt IIT Roorkee is better than BIT Ranchi any day. But again that depends upon the ones who study there. Many of my friends at BIT Ranchi are brilliant and are doing well there with all their efforts directed towards getting the best out of them. On the other hand, many of my batch mates at IIT Roorkee are doing miserably poor. They are just satisfied with the fact that they study at an IIT and the rest would take care of itself. And then comes the ‘branch parameter’. To my thinking, any branch is good if you are interested in it. If you are not, any branch is bad. And as far as placements are concerned, it again is dependent on the individual and his luck (along with CGPA and other factors of course) and not on the branch one is studying. And then one important parameter is the ‘time parameter’. The student has studied one year at BIT. So, coming to Roorkee would mean wasting one year. And this time is huge if one looks at the time for which one remains young and energetic to do whatever one wants. And at last the ‘effort parameter’. If a student has tried hard to get into IITs, he must get into one if he gets a chance without caring for the branch (if he is truly interested in none) or the city (all the IITs are good, at least the old ones).

Weighing all these parameters, I suggested him to come to IIT Roorkee (may be the ‘effort’ had a greater say when I gave my suggestion). But most importantly, I advised him to do whatever he thinks is right and most importantly whatever he wants to do. Some would say, I gave him no suggestion practically. But what I think is that the true and the best solution can only be provided if he asks his himself and most importantly ‘his heart’ for the solution.

Because following your heart can only keep you on the path to your destiny. Isn’t it?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Indian Student & The American Dream

No, I will not be writing about Indian students settling or willing to settle in America. But I would surely be writing about what an Indian student does to pursue ‘The American Dream’.

For those of you who think that the above two sentences are contradictory, let me tell something about American Dream to dispel the ambiguity.

According to historian and writer James Truslow Adams (who actually coined the term) in his 1931 book Epic of America:

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

So, the big question…….. What does an Indian student do to pursue ‘the American Dream’? As far as my answer is concerned, I think that an Indian student does a lot to pursue the American dream but effectively, it adds to very little. So, another contradiction here. How can the sincere efforts put by us add to almost nothing effectively?

Because in defining American Dream, James T Adams further added:

“It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

So, where does the Indian student find himself in the above definition? Nowhere!! Simply, Nowhere!!

Most of the Indian students choose to pursue engineering or management just to fulfill their dreams of motor cars and high wages. The desire to attain to the fullest stature of what one is innately capable of is lost in the early childhood when a sweet innocent child is asked by parents and teachers to focus on subjects like Science and Maths as these are the ones which would help her to secure a healthy career.

So, what should one do? Take a career path which guarantees no job or has less chances of success? Choose to remain poor dreaming and hoping of earning more someday, while leaving the easy and simple (and legal too) option to earn a good amount of dough?

Most of us, if not all, would say it’s foolish to choose to remain poor if we can become rich. But here, I would like to quote something once written by Rashmi Bansal in one of her blogposts:

“There is no romance in poverty but conversely: Is there any in large bank balances built up on jobs which don't engage or excite us?”

Earning money by fair means is good and important too. But the point of greater importance is that the work we do should make us richer every day, not only in terms of money in the pocket but also in term of satisfaction in the heart. And I guess nobody would disagree with the fact that even all the money in this world can’t buy a little bit of satisfaction in the heart.

And most importantly, if one believes in oneself and puts sincere effort, success is bound to come sooner or later, perhaps sooner.

We dream of making our country one of the economic superpowers in a few decades and may be the dream comes true very soon. But what’s the benefit of living in an economic superpower where there is no joy on the faces of people when they go for work. And how can such a bored workforce take the country to the pinnacle of prosperity?

If there are a lot of hardships which poverty or deficiency offers, there is also the boredom which ‘satiety because of abundance of everything’ offers. In such a situation, it becomes really really important for us, the Indian students, to choose our careers which help us realize and attain our fullest potential instead of just increasing the weight of our wallets.

And to conclude, America is a superpower because the Americans strived for ‘The American Dream’ and not ‘The Money Dream’. It’s up to us which dream we want to pursue.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hectic Day

The workload has increased a bit during the last few days. And as I write this blog, I am really tired working for the last 150 minutes at a stretch. What? What did I say? I get tired working only two and half hours at a stretch. Not always but yes, I get tired when if I do a repetitive work for even one hour. Everyone wants to have something new in life. And actually, these new things keep our lives interesting and going. To think of it, how boring would it be if we had to wake up at the same hours, do our work exactly the same manner ever, come back from work at the same time and see the same channel and same program on the TV?

When I talk about changes, I remember a funny incident which happened to me when I was in school. When I was in eighth grade, we had an interesting rule in class. We were asked by our Math’s teacher to sit on the exactly same seat throughout the year. And the funny thing was that the seat too was decided by him. This thing irked me the most. It's kind of okay if one likes a particular place/seat/area and wants to stick to it but being compelled to like any place allotted looked very difficult to me those days (and even today). So, being a sweet, sincere innocent kid, fearing the long stick in the hands of the Math’s teacher, I could never raise a voice against his autocratic systems. But I never missed a chance to criticize his ways in front of my friends. To my bad luck, once while doing so, the dear Math’s teacher heard my 'praises' for him. And then, what happened with me can only be imagined if you have ever gone to a gaon ka iskool (school in a village) where most of the teachers like to keep a danda (stick) as frequently as they wear pants.

So, why did I tell you all this? Bas yun hi, I felt like taking a break from work and wrote it.
Chalo, I leave for lunch now.

By the way, my internship is getting over on 7th of July and will be leaving for home on 8th. Got my tickets booked today. Will be posting my experiences at Gurgaon soon.

Till then, keep welcoming the changes in your lives.

Ba Bye for now. My dear Lunch!! I am coming to devour you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Racism and Indians

So, everything is hot about the R-word these days. News which arouses our sentiments, political statements and a lot of stir in the upper and upper middle class families who want their ladlas and ladlis to go to OZ to pursue some course or the other. A question which confuses me is “What happened to the Australians all of a sudden? How can a country with such lovely people and demographic variation turn hostile to a particular race all of a sudden?”
The more I think of it, the more I suspect the media and the people who want to aggravate the situation rather than let it cool down. After all, what is the need of attack on every Indian being reported with much attention and hullabaloo? Are not there any attacks by miscreants on the natives or people from other countries in Australia? So, if they can be attacked (for money or whatever), why can’t the Indians? And are not Indians looted everyday in their own country?
A point which must be kept in mind here is that the Australian police is helping the Indians in all the possible ways to ensure their safety which is a distant dream in India. And coming to the ground realities, there is no reduction in number of potential Australia goers as told by Vandana, a Hyderabad consultant who sends students to different countries for higher studies every year. Now, I must say ‘Jai Ho’ to our media and news channels.
And talking about racism, aren’t humans, let alone the Australians, racists at the core of our hearts? Where does racism and separatism not present in this world? Are we ourselves free of it? I can recall a friend of mine using the word ‘Mamba’ for an African student in our college when he passed by. And it certainly was a comment on the colour of his skin. And why talk our response towards people from Africa, China, Korea or Japan? Just having a look at the perspective which people hold towards people of different regions will tell the complete story about the belief of an Indian in ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam’.
Studying at a college which has students from all over the country gives a fair and interesting insight about our mindset towards people of various regions and states. There is always an arm’s distance between the North and the South Indians. Among the North Indians too, people differentiate themselves on whether they come from Punjab, Rajasthan, UP etc. And never to forget the use of ‘chinkis’ for those who come from the North-East.
Coming from Bihar, I had to face several stereotypes and comments among my classmates too. And I do so even today after living three years in my college. Though many a times, the comments made about me, because I am a Bihari, are for fun and are taken as jokes but sometimes, they mean serious stuff too.
I still recall an incident during my high school in Bokaro. Once while talking to girl, I used the word “deaf” with the wrong pronunciation. Naturally, she couldn’t understand and asked me what the word meant. And when she realized that I had pronounced the word incorrectly, the comment was something like “Of course, how can you use speak correct English? After all, you are a Bihari”. Now, who will make her understand that she too was a part of Bihar for about 12 years of her life when Bokaro was in Bihar? And how is wrong pronunciation of a word related to a person coming from Bihar or anywhere else?!
So, is not treating people from different regions or races differently imbibed in our blood from the very beginning? And at the end of everything, even our government couldn’t do much when the North Indians were beaten out of Maharashtra. And what is casteism? If not exactly racism, it’s also a form of segregation followed in our country since long.
And finally coming back to the hot and sizzling topic of Indians in Australia, according to a few native Australians, the Indians living there want to avail the benefits of living in the country without mingling with the local population and their culture. So, is not the first step towards racial differentiation being taken by the Indians?
We just have to accuse others (the goras here) of something and we do that without thinking much.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Religion v/s Spirituality

I don’t like Sunday Mornings in Gurgaon. Not because I am a workaholic and don’t want to take even a day to replenish myself. The only reason for my distaste of beautiful Sunday mornings is the loudspeaker noise coming from the temple near my PG. Neither it’s lyrical nor enchanting. Since I have tried to understand religion, I have always wondered about the need of certain things which our religious leaders (pundits, maulwis, religious gurus etc.) ask us to do. For remembering God, why is it necessary to add to the already existing decibel levels in the environment? And after all, which religion tells that it’s wise to wake others from sleep because you have to remember your God?

Some people are very much keen towards going to temples regularly. And some even donate a lot to the temples to please their respective deities. Ask them, how many times have they donated to oraganisations working for Human Rights, or Women’s Rights? The answer would perhaps be zero. Perhaps we have been taught to keep religion at the topmost level in our lives. Or perhaps, we have been taught to keep religious practices at the topmost level without even understanding their true meaning. And these practices, when carried out without understanding their true meaning take the form of superstitions.

So, what should we do? Stop going to the temples? Stop playing religious songs? Stop donating to temples? No, I am not saying one should stop these. I am just asking to take care that these things don’t become more important than our communion with ‘Soul’. One must never go to a temple if returning from there doesn’t make him a bit more humble. Religious songs should be played, but care must be taken that others are not forced to listen to those songs. Donations must be done to temples, but is not donating for a noble cause more important?

I strongly believe that the world should move towards spirituality instead of moving towards religious ‘kattarpanth’ (rigidity). Some people consider religion and spirituality synonymous. But there is a fine line between the two. Spirituality teaches us to be pure from within and bring joy in the lives of those living around us. Having a spiritual existence never means following some religious practices with strictness. Spirituality rather teaches to imbibe the true meaning of those practices in our lives. It teaches us to get enriched from our soul energy and understand our potential to bring positive changes in our lives and simultaneously in the lives of other people.

Spirituality teaches us to choose the ‘Right Path’. And is it not what we need, to choose the ‘Right Path’ on the journey towards our destiny?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Swami and Friends

I finished reading Swami and Friends a couple of days back. It’s the first novel written by R K Narayan and tells the story of Swaminathan, a 9-10 year old boy. It is also the first of the trilogy of novels written by R K Narayan, the other two in the series being ‘The Bachelor of Arts’ and ‘The English Teacher’. 

Throughout the book, the author has tried to tell the reactions, feelings and emotions of Swami towards various events which take place in the life of little and innocent Swami. And the most beautiful part of the narration is the fact that almost all of us go through similar experiences and react in more or less the same way as Swami does.

Like all of us, Swami is also reluctant to study and considers it a burden. But out of the fear of his father and beating by school masters, he has to sit on his study table everyday and finish his homework. Similarly, there are many instances when Swami talks to his friends in the class trying to hide himself from the eyes of the teacher. Exams are the times which give dreadful nights to him and his friends. Apart from all this, there are many other incidences which remind us of our childhood like making new friends, Swami’s efforts to go out with friends during afternoons when the school is closed or pleading before his parents, granny, and friends to get six pies to buy a cycle rim, formation of a cricket team among the friends and challenging other such teams. There are other instances of fight between friends and using ‘names’ for one another too. There are instances depicting a child’s fear, emotional outrage and jealousy with other classmates as well.

There is one incidence where Swami gets fed-up with his school and tries to run away from his home and family so that he doesn’t have to attend any school. And in the process of running away from home, Swami gets lost in the forest and regrets his decision. The incidence really depicts how we, when young, used to think that we are capable enough to live without the love and care our parents.

Like many other R K Narayan novels, Swami and Friends also has a rich taste of motherly love. This is depicted through the unconditional love of Swaminathan’s mother and granny for him. Both his mother and his granny are restless when Swami doesn’t return home from school one day. But like most of the Indian fathers, Swami’s father too has been shown as a strict person who wants to keep his child in discipline all the time.

Unlike most of the writings of R K Narayan, this novel doesn’t have any special reference to the theme of ‘man-woman relationship’. The only such relationship in the novel exists between Swami’s parents and there also, it’s a typical Indian husband-wife relation where the wife only concerns herself with the household affairs and taking care of the new born baby and the husband is assigned the work of earning money and looking into outside matters.

There is only one instance showing religious sentiments. This is when Mr. Ebenezar, the scripture teacher praises his religion Christianity and condemns Hinduism and Lord Krishna. This infuriates Swami’s father and he writes a letter to the head-master complaining about the teacher.

There are many other instances which in some way or other take us back to our childhoods and tickle us with those beautiful memories.

All in all, a must read for everyone.

The book can be download from: http://www.4shared.com/file/17801509/730f2322/Swami_And_Friends_By_R_K_Narayan.html?dirPwdVerified=bd7e0e80



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The 'Local Effect'

Lately, I have been thinking or rather comparing the lives of people in different countries. Being in such a big country like India, one mostly gets chances to travel within its own boundaries. And that leaves a longing desire in many to go out of the country once in the lifetime. But to think of it more seriously, why does one want to travel abroad? For many, it adds to the status quo. For a few, it’s the desire to see the people and places in some other part of the world. But whatever the reason may be, there is a desire to visit some foreign land in Indians.
I study at a college which is more than 1100 km from my hometown. Similarly, I am at Gurgaon these days which again is more than 1100 km from my home. So, doesn’t it bring me across people and landscape very different from Bihar, and that too in a country with so much of diversity? Yes, it certainly does. While Roorkee lies in the foothills of the Himalayas, Gurgaon is the corporate hub of the National Capital Region (NCR). And both of these places are way too different from the place where I come from. But despite all these, I am still in India, the same country.
Now think of smaller countries which are smaller than any of our eight metro cities. There are many countries (Liechtenstein, Monaco, Seychelles etc.) in the world where the population doesn’t exceed 100,000. Similarly, many countries (like Monaco, Nauru, Tuvalu etc.) are smaller than the city of Delhi when we talk in terms of area. So, how do people in these countries manage their daily affairs?
I travel once in every two months out of Roorkee on an average for different reasons. Considering the same situation for people in these countries, do the people need to get over with visa formalities every two months? What if the need is to travel the same day or just the next day? Do the people need to plan in advance even for travelling 100 km or even 10 km sometimes?
For some time let us not talk about these 'city countries' and think of countries in Europe which are very much equal to the state of Haryana or Uttarakhand or Bihar in terms of area or population. So, how do people travel there? Within the small geographical region compared to that of an Indian province? But then, there is the European Union which makes moving of people for trade and other purposes very simple within the continent. But what about the countries which are not part of the EU? Or which are in other continents like Asia, Africa, and South America.
There are countries which don’t enforce barriers on the entry of people from some neighboring countries like there is unrestricted movement of people between India and Nepal. And there must be other provisions and facilities provided by the governments in these countries so that people can move easily from one nation to another. The king of Sikkim (when Sikkim used to be a sovereign state) used to send ‘bright’ students to India for studies on its own expenses. But there must be some local adjustments which people do and become used to anywhere in the world, be it a small country or a big one. And thinking of these local adjustments excites me a lot sometimes.
Living in Gurgaon these days, I have to travel about 15-20 km daily, for work, on city buses. And it looks quite okay and comfortable. The same travel can be very painful if it were at my hometown. For the last two Sundays, I am going to Delhi to spend the day which means around 50 km of travel. This much of travelling for spending a weekend is not considered to be an option in Dalsinghsarai (my hometown) or Roorkee (where I study). Similarly, I have been quite used to with frequent power cuts in Gurgaon which seemed to take a blow on me in Roorkee.
While these ‘local effects’ come with the town or city or village we live in, these effects also come with the localities and the neighborhood we live in. The place where I live in Gurgaon doesn’t have good general stores. So, I have adjusted myself such that I get my needs fulfilled some other way rather than relying on the stores in my area.
And last but not the least, are not our thought patterns affected by our family, our friends, our co-workers and other people living around us?
Though there is very small control of ours on the local effects associated with each place, the most beautiful thing about these is that these are the things which determine who we are. Don’t they?

Monday, June 1, 2009

The First Post

As I sit down writing the first post on this blog, there are so many things which come upto my mind and believe me, it's kind of difficult to choose what should get a place in this memorable and historical blog-post. Since the title of the blog says 'My Life & My Thoughts', I will try to present some true aspects of my life here alongwith thoughts which come up in my 'Beautiful Mind'. And since I want the blog to look realistic, I have decided to do the least possible editing as I write(read type) the blog-posts.

Though it's my first post on this blog, but I have written a few more, four to be precise, on the EDC IITR blog ( http://iitr-edc.blogspot.com/ ). Earlier, I thought that I would keep blogging on that blog itself but since that was not the place where I could pick up random topics and start pouring in my thoughts. And moreover, my official asoociation with EDC remains only for one more year as of now. So, why not get something which is completely my own, forever and ever.

Since I changed my thoughts about creating a blog of my own, let me talk something about changes in life. To think of if, nobody would like to have many changes in life but yet so many changes happen around us that we hardly notice them. Our attitudes change over the period of time, though people generally don't admit them. To illustrate this, I would only ask you to think about your life and your aspirations when you entered high school and compare them with today's. Are they same? Have not we accepted that big change without even realising about it? Similarly, our liking and interest change with the passage of time. There was a time when I thought myself to be a true student of Science but today, I can see a big gap between the true spirit of science and myself.

One major change which occured yesterday was the end of four-year reign of Rafael Nadal over the Roland Garros. I always thought that this could be the memorable year when the young Spainard could life all the four Grand Slams. Anyway, his defeat has paved way for the mighty Rodger Federer to create history, by not only winning all the four Grand slams but also equalling the record of Pete Sampras for winning the maximum Grand Slams. My best wishes to the Swiss player!! Well, the record of winning all the four Grand Slams can also be acheived by Rafa if he wins the US Open this year. How great it would be to see two graet players acheiving great laurels in the same year, that too within a few months!! I am keeping my fingers crossed. :-)

Meanwhile, I am eagerly waiting for the changes expected to be brought about by Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh by the people of their respecive countries and the world in case of Mr. Obama.

Let us hope for the BEST!!