21 June, 2011

Without the bare minimum score

I’m sure you’ve all been reading the news regarding how some colleges under the DU have put their cut-off score for their Honours course at 100%. The news came out when all of us were at lunch at the office. There was a unanimous sigh of relief from everyone at that table - we were done with our education. Quite obviously, that fleeting moment of elation turned into worry for those with kids still in school. I sat there wondering to myself as to how someone like me, an average joe (‘Joe’ jeeta wahi sikandar…sorry…had to say that) would survive in a world where even a 100% can’t ensure one get’s to choose their line of study. It’s a miracle how I managed to pass exams and even get a post-grad certificate, I shudder to imagine if I were part of this year’s batch.

Sometime later in the day, I was at home, and watching the news again where students were complaining as to how it was insane that they got 99.9% and were still not able to get a seat in that college and now had to think of alternate lines of career. Wheels turn in my hamster powered brain. What if I had not even got the basic score to do an engineering degree? Would I have forced myself to become street smart and find a job that did not require a graduation? What if I had taken a degree in the Arts, which I believe is a very undermined course here in India, supposedly meant only for dullards and those who grace the lower rungs of the ranks in class, something I held for a great many years in middle school. Maybe today I would have been a hotshot creative director at some big ad firm (Don Draper fantasy) or could have learnt sound engineering and been on the crew for a major rock band. I could have actually learnt what it is to make money from the stock market rather than comfortably wait for a pay-check at the end of the month. I could have become a salesman for some FMCG company and actually moved up the ranks by knowing some ‘real’ selling. I may have gone in for a course in mass communication where I am sure I would have done far better at, than in engineering. Maybe even joined film school and become one of these new age directors who make real movies and not masala flicks. Perhaps even a course in psychology and then become one of those fancy chaps who talks about how the mind works at Ted sessions. Unfortunately, I cleared the minimum cut-off to be admitted to an engineering course and in the process may have denied myself the joy of being part of the “un-gifted” crowd.

And here I am, part of the many simple rats in this race track that is getting very crowded because they allow people with slightly more than average scores, an access to higher technical education. The fact is that once you’re in the race, it is tough not to run along, even if it kills you. To all those who believe life has closed the door on your career aspirations, please remember that sometime you have to find the window to jump through, or tunnel through with a spoon. India is a whole new country and people without technical expertise can make great careers. It will be a longer road, and a tougher road, but I am sure you’ll love it. There is a life beyond engineering, medicine, law and science. Think arts.

And happy world music day!!!

15 June, 2011

With a little help from my friend

I don’t know how many of you take notice of the ‘friends you may know’ section on Face book. It’s a very neat way to send out requests to people from school or college to whom you've not spoken to since. And it’s through that feature that I've actually gotten in touch with a lot of kids I used to hang out with in school. It recently threw an update of this very good looking girl….and by good looking, let’s put it this way… if Keri Russell had an ‘Indian’ tan, this girl would be her. Believe me, I would have remembered a friend who looked like that. I thought it might be some acquaintance who after going to the US decided to get this major make-over and look like….excuse the ‘guy’ness ….a total 'Elisha Cuthbert' girl-next-door bomb!!!

Turns out, we have only one mutual friend, and even he’s more of an acquaintance. But the girl, OMG, for a few minutes there, I fell in love. The 18 year old in me was going, “Arey….friend request bhej… I want to make fraaandship with you!”. I was sighing and going all dreamy eyed over her. (Yes….guys do that too). My eyes glance to the lower part of the screen….and that’s when my heart broke into a thousand pieces, like glass being shattered by Bianca Castafiore. I see the most horrendous thing….. The girl is an Arsenal fan.

Just then, my friend from college pings to ask what was going on. Boys will be boys, I had to share this ‘Birthday gift’ Face book had given. I shared with him as to how I felt so betrayed. But then, considering my friend himself, for some unexplainable reason, supports Arsenal…..if we could get along, maybe I and this girl could too. This is where one cannot highlight enough the importance of friends. He points out the other interests which….to cut a long story short…included Justin Bieber (Nooooooooo), Lady Gaga (Oh Nooooooooooooooooooooo), Ke$ha( Honestly why??????), the Twilight series (Oh crap…another girl who believes she should marry a gay vampire called Edward because she is so much like Bella….yes, in case you’re wondering how I know this, I sat through the first movie when it came out), The Vampire Diaries TV series (no surprises there) and Splitsvilla....and that's just me naming a few.

Needless to say, yours truly was cured very quickly of almost a week of sighing over her picture in my head while pleasantly smiling, and actually being nice to everyone. Imagine that, I’ll be in a good mood at the office. People will think I am ill. The last time such a thing happened in December, I found myself listening to Bollywood love songs for a week, it was THAT bad. And that’s why one needs friends. Friends who will be cold-hearted enough to pull out that pin to burst your bubble. Friends who would rather see you for your real miserable grouchy self than to see that fake happiness which we know is only temporary.

PS: The irony of it all, the only thing the girl and I had in common was we both liked F.R.I.E.N.D.S

PPS: I think a small part of me died tonight.

10 June, 2011

Wishes from the voices...

Dear Nikhilesh,
Here’s wishing you a happy birthday. I never really understood the saying, ‘many happy returns’, so I’m not using it. So, you’re now a whole year older. While it’s a good thing to celebrate this milestone, I would like to take this chance to impress upon you the true meaning of celebrating a birthday. We don’t live in the dark ages where disease, famine and plague made celebrating a birthday a big affair. So, we’re going to have to look at this whole ‘turning 27’ from a different perspective.

I know this is not where we envisioned we would be at this age. While most of your friends and acquaintances are finding comfort in their jobs, settling down with the people they’ve fallen in love with, buying nice shiny things like cars, homes, PS3s, travelling the world; you can’t help but wonder if you’ve done something totally wrong with your life. You all started out together, but you’re all in very different places in the world. You need to understand that we are the outcome of decisions we’ve made, and this includes the decisions made for us by others which we have silently agreed to follow. But we must understand that if we chose to take a path different from others, we must not expect the same outcome as others. So if you’re not where you expected you would be when you turned 27, it’s probably because you did not understand how the decisions you’ve taken in life were on a path very different from where you wanted to go. I want to quote something we heard at school, “When Columbus set out to find India, he found America…” In short, while you may share the objective of your friends and acquaintances, should you choose a different path…you may land up in India. Or you just may land up in America after what may seem a very pointless journey. But as long as you take the journey, I guess you’re alright.

27 is a good time to re-look at setting real goals and ambitions for one’s life. It’s a great time, especially if you’ve got no plans (or no scope) of settling down to actually start working towards them. The 27 year old you is more in control of your life than the 22 year old you from 5 years ago. The awesome part about still being unsure about everything and doubting everything you’ve done is that you’ve been given a chance to discover a whole new part of you by trying to change the old you. It may not make any sense to you now, but it’s something you’re going to look back on 10 years from now and probably say, ‘it was worth it’…and even if you’re still as confused or worse ten years from now, kindly remember Gandalf, “Not all those who wander are lost”.

On the lighter side of things, here’s what you ought to be grateful for. You’ve still got almost all of your hair in place, but you also have most of your weight in place. You have a car to drive around and don’t have to be overly worried about the weather, but you do have the rising cost of petrol and repairs. (Cool factor has not improved….maybe it’s the weight). You’ve got a job where people know you and you actually have a chance to learn what it is to work in ‘adverse’ conditions. (HR dept…I love this place…serious….Dog promise). You’re staying at home with your parents and enjoying home food, but you somehow thought you’d be staying for free. As your father would say, “Gotchaaa!!!” You’re in Bangalore, which is a pretty cool city, barring the fact that everything closes at 11:30PM, but most of your friends are either not in the country or are way to busy with their own lives to go out for beer at 11 PM in any case. You’re not being pressurized by your parents to get married , but then let’s be honest…on your income??? Seriously? You’re 27 and are still going to perform on stage in a week’s time with a rock band; so what if you’re just a an adjunct to a bunch of ten year old child prodigies…. You can’t possibly suck that much.

Age is just a number, and jail is just a room. But it’s never too late to change things around. So enjoy the day, and we can begin our George Clooney meets Don Draper meets Mick Jagger meets Johnny Depp meets Salman Rushdie make-over tomorrow.

Yours Sincerely,
‘The voices in your head’