The Other Kind

I like to believe that there are broadly two kinds of people on this earth. Idealist and realist. I have known for long that I am of the former type and even today this mindset of mine dictates my decisions today. Of course, somewhere within me there does lie a realist and is always finding opportunities to scorn me. He is like: “This is never going to work out. You better take the tried and tested way. All your dreams are childish and come straight out of some cartoon series.” Yes. I find this very disparaging and disappointing some times, but then may be it is true. There have been some cartoon series which have particularly had a major impact on me. I don’t watch them just as source of entertainment and I like to believe that they have taught me a great many things.

When we are young, almost all of us harbor some fantastical idea, may be even something bordering crazy. This one time me and my friends were discussing about constructing a scouter. Now, I don’t expect anyone to know what that is. It is a fictional equipment used in one of my favourite series to detect power level of an opponent. I agree it was crazy but it was fun. But slowly, I drifted towards the more intangible ideas like the “purpose of my life”. 

Honestly, just look around. So many of us are tangled in our small and self created complex world. I have always felt that I should do something else. Something, something…. that takes me somewhere. Sorry, I know I am not making any sense now. But, the thing is, 20-30 years down the line, if I look back and ask myself what has been my achievement on this earth, will I find any answer at all. I have no way to know. It is often said that (or was it some movie?) the things you remember the most when you are old are the ones which were most mundane. May be. But I am not ready for mundane yet.

What I find the most exciting but somewhat unsettling thing about life is the notion of uncertainty. Of course, when you start earning and are looking to settle down, it is natural for anyone to want a pretty high degree of certainty. In case of many people, I think they have to settle with that irrespective of whether they desire it or not. In my case, I confess I find it extremely scary sometimes but I think deep down I also enjoy it. Whats the point if you know how your life is going to turn out? I am not a fan of this idea. I want to explore, I want to fight and I want to live.

The Jump Photo Credits: Jaime Richardson

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Don’t read. Just venting out.

Sometimes it is all about setting the right expectations. I understand and even sometimes cherish emotions like disappointment and dejection but I believe that in many cases there is a tinge of anticipation attached to it. Sometimes, people like me even confuse the expectations that they have from themselves. I know it is really sad. But no, I am not going to harp on about how hollow my life feels sometimes but let me talk today about those “different” things that have been going on for past few months.

There is one thing I have believed in for many years. And that is to keep growing, improving, making some addition to your life. This past 8-9 months I have stayed still. Of course, I am not growing right now, but I am moving towards a place where I’ll do that. How I used to fantasize about being a professor one day! That dream could very well come true. After much agitation, torments and arguments with my alter ego, I finally decided that I would go for my PhD. I did brief stint of research during my Masters. It is quite difficult to explain that experience but I have never felt anything like it before. It is indeed true, that the more you read, more you grow, more you realize and appreciate that you don’t know anything. For me it was just about the thrill of pursuing something unknown. I felt like an explorer who is trying to work his way towards the gold. Yes, there were many failed attempts but I believe that I learnt something from each of them. I now realize that I lacked some base ammunition (like some tools and techniques from mathematics) coz I had a tonne of ideas, may be they were not feasible anyways, but I realized that I lacked the tools to work out feasibility of some of my ideas. In any case, it was exciting, it was fun, it was also frustrating at times, but most of the times a sense of satisfaction prevailed. You usually get to talk about “your” idea and “your” work in it. There is so much more ownership ( Oh god, I have started using corporate jargon…. eerie!). That was what pushed me towards this idea of going for my PhD.

There were times when I felt like a stupid child, wanting something I can never have. I remember that for many years I have wanted to do “important” things and be a person who mattered. When I have the perfect opportunity why would I want to look away? Apparently, there were many reasons. Inertia, emotional longing and even money! Yes, these factors are sometimes extremely compelling. It did take some real effort to shrug these off. Right now, I am happy I went past that phase. Its not like I wouldn’t have done well in industry. I know I have enough brains to survive and even grow in an industry, but I realized very soon that my heart is not in my work, which is what probably pushed me towards taking this decision of pursuing my PhD. I know it is going to be tedious journey. I am just hoping it will be enjoyable too.

Anyhow, so I was talking about this absolute new thing in my life. My upcoming PhD. In Germany. I would have never imagined this a couple of years back. I will now be doing things about which till now I have just fantasized but may be never had the courage to follow through. I am doing that now. I do feel a tinge of pride but a barrage of apprehensions. I really want things to work out well there. I mean, not just academics even the social aspects. I have almost always screwed that up.I think I am a really simple guy who is interested in simple things. I just need a few good people around me and that makes me happy. I wonder why I find it so tough. I am guessing that most people don’t think like me. May be they want a bigger and socially more involved groups in which I case I become the “weird” one. Anyhow, I hope I will find someone!

 

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I just have to

What struggles man! I had sort of a panic attack today regarding my PhD plans. Somewhere deep in me lays a pessimist, someone who tries his best to discourage and disparage me. It is true that there are many things that I want in my life and that I am going to have to wait for some of them to come to fruition. But then this alter ego of mine uses that as his ammunition to steer me clear of any of my plans.

But I will persevere; I have till now and will for as much time as required. It is true that some things have come a bit more easily to me than others. But I am going to just think of them as blessings and move on. I know that someday I will hit a wall and there will be no way through but to climb it all the way. I will do that when the time comes. That I will consider as an achievement.

Currently, I am embroiled in the confusion of whether I should go to Boston, Saarbrucken or any other place. But deep down I feel, it really won’t matter much. My primary reason for choosing MPI as of now is simply the flexibility and freedom that it seems to provide. I am not sure if that will work for me or against me but I believe it to be a great thing. I can carve out my PhD the way I want; of course I will need help along the way, someone to help me get back on track when if I wander on wrong paths. It would be great if the advisor is good motivator too; coz I know myself well enough now. My mind will get tired eventually and I will probably even loathe the work that I am doing then. But there is nothing like some words which help you focus on the long term goal, help you gather yourself and keep you focused. I have experienced the frustrations of research even during the small stint of my M.Tech project. I know it is a difficult climb but I have to make it. I just have to. On another level, I really believe that this PhD is going to help me BECOME the person I always wanted to be. For me it is not as much about the research as such, as it is about discovering me. This PhD is so much more for me than just a degree and the title of Doctor prepended to my name (although that will feel awesome too).  May be after this I will feel that I am really worth something.

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What is my worth?

What a strange turn of events!!! So, recently I was in Germany (yay!!) for an interview towards a Phd position at an awesome place…… and I made it through. I have another offer from a pretty good university in US too. Honestly, all this feels surreal, almost too good to be true. I think my life is about to change, BIG TIME.

Just the other day, I was having a rather unusual discussion about death. Unusual because I was arguing that one cannot live the same way if one knows of about ones own imminent death. It got me thinking of all the things I would want to do if I knew how much time I had left. Honestly, I would probably not do any of those otherwise. Strange; don’t you think so. Normally, I keep thinking of the things I would do to attain the future I wish for. For some reason, that future has eluded me so far. No matter what I achieve, what I do, there is always something more to be done, something more that is required to make it perfect; and then I reflect back on my current situation. Isn’t everything already perfect? I have opportunities to work in one of finest institutes and there are almost no problems to that end. I could start all over, make new friends and live a new life. I could work on all the things I always wished I could. Why do I not see the beautiful things in my life?

There are a couple of things that I hate although I confess I am sometimes tempted to do these very things. One of them is following the bourgeois way of life. Life apparently seems great but feels empty. I want to be a part of something great, something I believe in and something that matters to me. Life as I have seen is often spent on things you hardly believe in or have any conviction. Why not be a part of something bigger? Not necessarily because it serves any purpose, just because that seems like the kind of thing you were born to do.  I wish to live with a conviction. I may still have to live a bourgeois life but then that will be to fulfill my conviction.  Lets fall in love, so what if may lead to a heart break. Lets do something. Lets live. Lets BE.

Listen to this man play I Giorni .

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Am I bad?

I am not affable. It is a fact I have known for years now. People usually don’t like me. I don’t take some things lightly and I assert where people don’t expect or don’t want others to. I don’t even open up. My parents have no idea who I really am. Its no wonder then that I spend most of time with myself. Sometimes pondering, why am I not like others? Why am I not “normal”?

Right now, I am thinking if these things make me bad? Does this make me emotionally ill, something not fit to be a part of society. Honestly, at a certain level I really don’t care. Unless you don’t harm me, I am not going to do anything to you. But this observation does reveal a few things. We as a society tend to take things at face value. We prefer to go that fancy restaurant with possibly great ambiance and spend 5 times more than to go to that small make-shift eatery where we know we get great food. Well, usually early in life we went there any way.

I do feel sad at times about the fact that I am almost alone. I know this is better than being surrounded by people who give a damn about you. But this whole experience does bring in a lot of self-doubt. Half of the time, I am busy fighting those. “No, I am not abnormal. No, I am not a psycho“. There are a few things that are a bit off with me I agree, but I know I am a good person down to my core. I know my fundamentals are right. I know how to love. I know how to fight. I want to do a lot of things with my life…… someday or the other I will achieve those. I am going to walk the path I believe. I just wish sometimes though that my family stops thinking that I am a nut.

Anyhow, on a different note; watch this song. I think its beautiful!

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Insanity

Do you ever feel this rush of blood when you want to achieve something big and difficult now. Its like you can’t stop moving, become impatient and want to do something now. The feeling when your guts tighten and jaws clench, when you feel this is the thing. This is what I want to do and no matter what, I am going to achieve that. There is no logic, no thinking and  no analysis. This brief passing phase is very close to me. For these brief moments, I am limitless.

Has it ever happened to you that you have kept up at something for too long and feel that you can’t go anymore? It has happened with me a few times in different contexts. And then suddenly out of nowhere, this phase comes and reminds me its not over, not yet. And no matter what it takes I will keep going on. It makes me feel strong, it gives me the energy to keep fighting.

After these moments have passed, when my sanity returns, yes I am bothered by all the worldly issues. But I still remember that feeling in the gut, I remember that there is a part of me who believes he can do it. All I do after that, is believe in my insanity and believe that I’ll make another day, I’ll make another life.

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Keep Moving

Strange days. I ponder too often about how my life my will turn out if I continue working in Qualcomm. What will happen if I go for a PhD? Do I really want a PhD or am I just running away from certain things or may be towards some. Work seems okay. Nothing to get too excited about. But the life seems comfortable and with all the money I could do so many other things. Like I have been entertaining this thought of taking scuba diving lessons in pondy for quite some time.  These days I am also making a genuine attempt to communicate, with anyone I am coming in contact with. Hope it helps.

But you know what, I miss looking forward to something. Till now I have always had a fixed and definite goal in mind. Everything was for a reason. Now, I don’t know what to look forward to. It makes me feel I am throwing away my life, like I am being complacent. I am still hungry, hungry to achieve something. They say it is not about the destination but the journey. My journey in life so far, if i were to sum up in one word, has been fulfilling. Sure there were bitter moments. Moments where I thought I was broken forever. But then I think these were the moments which made me strong and wise. So should I stop now and enjoy these fruits of hard work or should I keep moving forward? I am not even sure where I am going or where do I want to go. But deep down I just want to keep moving.

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The other day, we had our campus to corporate training. In one part of the training, our instructor was trying put across the idea that one always gets what one really wishes for and that the universe conspires to make our wish come true. In my opinion, this is only an half-hearted attempt to look at the bigger truth and could possibly send wrong signals. Nobody achieved anything by just wishing for it. Sure they pursued their wish, their dream single minded, but there was hours of struggle, both within and outside that they had to go through. Thinking about it is just one part, following it through is something completely else. What the idea is basically trying to sell, in my opinion, is that one needs to have a positive outlook towards life and continuously work towards what we wish for.

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