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philosophy

A long summary of my short life

The mind right now is full of thoughts and ideas and expressions. My mind. In fact there are so many things running at the same time, along with the desire to jot them all (and that too – systematically), that I wonder how successful I’ll I be in doing the same.

It’s 11:30 Pm. I was lying on the bed about an hour ago, trying to sleep. I could not. So I sit right now, with a hot mug of black-coffee, trying to take things out from inside me to put them all here, on this blog. It could be shit. Of course. But, it’s important for me. This blogshit is one place where once I have written everything the I way I really have thought about them, I have, at the end of it, helped myself in knowing me better. And so dear readers, I write.

Let me accept something. Now that I am making money, I am pretty sure that I never wanted to make loads and loads of money. I don’t dream of buying a car, then a costlier car, and then the costliest car. I don’t dream of having my own house, then a bungalow, and then an entire island! After all these years of existence, I know all these dreams and desires are indeed achievable. After all these years of existence, I also know that all these dreams and desires are so worthless and more than that, endless. In the only life that I have, I have no intentions to work just to earn money so that I and those dependent on me are able to buy this and buy that and so that I can say to myself that I have achieved a lot in this life. Something is so not genuine about this achievement.

I grew up in a middle class family. When I was young, my dad made me mug lines such as “I want to be an IAS officer” so that this could be ‘my’ answer to anyone, a friend or a relative of dad, who asked the young Amrit: ‘Beta, what is your aim in life?’. This was a time when I didn’t even have a clue as to who the hell was an IAS officer!

As I grew up, the only deliverable that mattered in house was ‘topping the class’. No one forced me, but I pretty much knew what really mattered to everyone. No one cared if you won prizes in dramatics or painting!

I actually did top a couple of times in school. Even when I was not topping, I used to be in the close range of toppers (the 2nd 3rd ranker types). I never really questioned too many things. As long as I didn’t have to study any extra, than most of my friends, I really didn’t mind doing well academically.

There isn’t anything easier than getting more than 90% in a school board exam. I realize that I say so based on my intelligence level. I believe that this so called thing called ‘intelligence’ exists in different amounts in each one of us. I am specifically talking about the kind of intelligence you need to grasp information presented in text-books and apply them to answer questions, either theoretical or numerical. It was easy for me to be among the toppers till my Xth because my intelligence level must have been higher than the average students. It had nothing to do with any extra effort from my side.

I met a lot of people who had a higher intelligence level than me when I went to DAV for my plus two. It was away from Patna, the town where I had grown up and spent  my life so far. DAV was in Ranchi. There were some students there who had a much much higher intelligence level than me. In DAV, it was impossible to be among toppers with the same effort that I had put in to studies so far.

I tried to work hard for a couple of months but gave up soon. This was not my way of living life. When I had not spent my time studying any more than what I had felt like, up till then, what motive did I have to change? I didn’t change. In fact, I deteriorated academically. I stopped attending classes, started missing exams and for the first time in my life, failed in a subject. Maths. My eleventh class final exam.

I made sure that no one at home comes to know about this. Fake report-cards were prepared and false confidence exhibited all the time. I wrote a make-up and was promoted to 12th. In class 12, I didn’t write a single exam except may be English. Finally it was time to write the board exams. I knew I could mug and get something like 60%. My school let me sit for XIIth board eve when I had missed to write all exams that year. After I having written the first two papers, I asked myself: why am I doing this? Why am I trying to pass? Do I want to be a 12th pass? If yes, is this the best I can do?

That definitely wasn’t the best I could do. I took a decision to quit the remaining papers. When the board results came, I was declared failed. I was a tenth pass in May 1999 when the Xth board results had come. I was still a Xth pass in May 2001 when the XIIth board results came.

I returned home. I realized all my dad’s colleagues and friends knew what I had done. I realized how embarrassed I must have made dad. When a guy who gets 91.5% in Xth, stays away for home for 2 years and comes back with zero achievement, questions are bound to pop up. What went wrong? Did he start smoking or drinking? Had he got the question paper leaked in 10th? Thankfully, my dad did not ask me many things. I think he assumed that I didn’t like being away from home and therefore didn’t study. I think my dad could never have thought of any other reason anyway. The only thing that I kept telling him wast: look dad, had I written my board exams, I would have got something like 60% and I don’t think I wanted to do that.

It was a stupid reason because everyone knew that XIIth board marks didn’t matter anyway. Engineering was the thing ‘planned’ for me and almost all good colleges had their entrance exams. I accet that it was an impractical decision from my side but it did teach me few things: 1. It is okay if you don’t do what you don’t feel like doing; the world is not going to come to an end; and 2. your family is your biggest strength because they love you genuinely and see themselves in you.

I studied for an year. Class XII books.  I realized that the subjects were not as tough as I had always believed them to be. Suddenly there was no school. Suddenly there was no company of those super intelligent classmates. Suddenly I didn’t have to top a class or compete. I just had to study so that I could write my and clear my board exams proudly. I studied. Not all day and all night, but just enough to get something over 90% in XIIth when I wrote it finally in March 2002.

In May 2002, I finally was a XIIth pass  with 90 point something percentage. In May 2002, once again, I didn’t have any great purpose in life. I had these temptations to study English in some good college in Delhi but I never told about these temptaions to anyone. Engineering was the only thing everyone talked about. I surrendered. Meekly.

I had sat for JEE that year but had failed to clear it mostly because I never really was aiming at the exam. Even after one year of time spent at home, I still had no clue about so many chapters from the XIth class syllabus (never needed to read them because board exam didn’t need me to).

Finally it was decided that I go join one of the best engineering colleges in Mumbai because at that time, the Universities there used to accept students based on XIIth percentage. A day before my train would depart, dad asked me if I thought I could make it to IIT. How could I say NO to him? I got my ticket canceled, spent another year in home, completing those class XI portions, and studied only enough to get into an IIT. I had no motive whatsoever to get the best rank in this world. In May 2003, I had an AIR of 2684.

July 2003. IIT story began. For five years I was going to spend time inside a beautiful campus, cut off from  the real life of pain and sufferings. I was purposeless again. Then I fell in love, trying to give some purpose to my life. After having failed to convince her to be mine, and during one of those depressed phases of my life, I remember myself sitting atop my hostel tunkey at 3 in the morning, contemplating suicide. I had spent 4 years in IIT. I didn’t have any purpose to live. I didn’t know why I needed to make money or take up a job or do anything at all? For who? For my parents?

I have no clue how things would have changed had I jumped off the building then. Parents would have suffered. They would have never understood why I killed myself. The girl, whose departure from my life, and whose indifference to what I was going through then, would have cursed herself for no fault of hers. But after a few years things would have been forgotten.

Let me go back to that day. I was there on the tunkey top. Walking on the edges. Should I jump? Should I not? Who am I living for? And then the answer was very clear. I could live a little longer and give to my parents a little more than what I had given them. What had I given them anyway? The pride of being parents to a child who went to IIT? This certainly wasn’t enough.

I lived. Couple of girls came to my life after her. I even ended up ‘almost’ sleeping with one of them. Then I passed out from IIT. Then I got a job. Now my parents were the pride parents of a perfect child, an IITian doing a prestigious job and drawing good salary.

Do I need this  perfect life? For how long do I need  to keep doing things that have been dreamed by my parents?

The more I think, the more I realize that there are no end to dreams, either those of my parents or of human beings in general. There is no upper limit. And so, it doesn’t really matter when you stop dreaming for more. It doesn’t really matter when I stop making more dreams (seen by my parents) come true: getting a good wife, having a great family and on and on.

I have only one life. For twenty five years I have lived it the ideal way. Today I make more money than I need to spend. But the only reason I get up every day and work till I am tired is not because if I don’t do that, I wont’ make money. It’s all because I like doing what I do. It’s because I learn something or the other: about how governments function, how bureaucrats function, how the corporate world functions, how private players behave, what people dream about.

I plan to keep working till I keep learning new things, irrespective of what I earn. But this is not ALL, that my life can be about. There has to be more purpose than this. I know this for sure. I am not going to marry someone for the purpose of having a kid and raising a family and then working hard for the rest of my life to give all the comfort possible to my family and then start dreaming about lives of my children. Unlike my dad, I don’t dream of having my own airplane and flying my family in it.

Bihar is suffering from flood. Yesterday there was news that it has started flooding even in Orissa. There were blasts in Delhi few days ago; terrorists are playing games. Can I do nothing? I gave off 2k to PM’s fund for Bihar Flood Relief. Is that enough? Is charity enough?

Is there no better way of living the only life that I have? Is there no better way of using my knowledge, my education, than what I am doing currently?

I might not have answers to these questions. But I am looking for them. To begin with, I shut down my AC today. It feels wrong to be breathing in 18-20 degrees when people in this very state are trying to save their houses from flood. Luxury is not for meant for me. It just doesn’t excite me anymore.

45 replies on “A long summary of my short life”

It sort of reminds me of my suicide contemplation too!! Could definitely relate to a lot of stuff you said.. and I remember a convo with a Prof:
Prof: Do you want to do something? Then do it!
Me: But Sir, what about others, what will they say
Prof: So? What do you care?
Me:
Prof: You are responsible only for your own reactions to incidents and not what others think of you. Do you what you like and as long as you enjoy it, everything else is secondary. Money, fame, power, newspaper headlines, societal approval, does don’t matter, what matters is that you like what you do.
Thats been my guiding principle since then.
And whats been most amazing has been the fact that a lot of it is actually consistent in literature and in people whom I’ve met. I think the Gita says this beautifully. You should read it. 🙂 Ultimately, its been none of that stuff thats mattered, its doing what one loves.

Keep looking for answers! Most of us, who have an ability to think subjectively about the shared interpretations of the real world, look for answers. It’s a great thing. Liberating. Painful at times. Motivating too.

And while I am unsure if we’ll find the answers at all till the end of our physical existence in the real world to whatever questions we are riddled with, I am quite sure we will ‘learn’ a lot in that quest, we will change/impact lives for better or worse, we will bring about change as well as undergo changes as well…

Great post..one of your very truly soul stirring posts…

I am so tempted to write more, but will refrain..right now multitasking between writing this comment and trying to understand hermeutics and structuralism…

I dont know may be being a bihari factor people even ask me now to write IAS . Also something similar to your story , i failed in physics and chemistry in pre boards of 12 th and then some serious questions were raised .

One of the best and most compelling posts I’ve read so far.

I can’t do enough justice with a comment-box, trying to summarize the rush of things in my mind after reading this.

it was a beautiful, stirring post till “Bihar is suffering from flood.”
What the fuck does that or terrorists attacks have anything to do with your existential angst?
Or how does shutting down your A/C solve anything? Isn’t it a misplaced sense of morality that makes us think that a sacrifice on our part sets things right or makes things better for us?

Inspiring. Could replace gandhi’s talisman in the next Cbse textbooks , whenever that is. 😉
But seriously, inspiring is the word.

Shutting down AC solves nothing. You are right. But I don’t call it a sacrifice. So my morality however misplaced it could be, does not make me think that switching off AC will set anything right or make anything better.

I actually wrote why I decided to stop using the AC. It just didn’t feel alright, just because I could afford to. I do not have a logical explanation right away. I wish I had a better answer for you.

And hope that whoever you are, you grow up enough to realize that its okay to be yourself even if you shout at me. 🙂

welll…..I would say a very decent internal realisation of life spent so far…
many things from ur post, are common in life.
And yeah, I do understand the part of shutting down AC, and teroorist….because I deeply feel it …not just now…its been for a long long time….but I donno what can I do?? How can I make difference??
these are very critical and subjective questions…
and yeah…abt what to do in life??? so far, what I have perceived is this….
u take birth,u live and then die….the point of concern is HOW DOES IT MATTER that u even existed??
Does it really make a difference in this world from your life..??

one more thing, about doing tasks…it always makes you happy when you do wht u like…

You have reflected my feelings. The 12 class part. I can surely tell that 12th was the worst phase of my life. I still remember- first exam was chem and I couldn’t get a particular song out of my head.. I was singing it over and again during the exams. Which clearly shows that chem was something that I didn’t want to do. But it wasn’t a big disaster. Managed to clear the boards and missed disti by 1%

You sound guilty when you say “It feels wrong to be breathing in 18-20 degrees when people in this very state are trying to save their houses from flood.”
Which is why the question of morality came up in the first place. Why guilt?

Believe it or not, I just wanted to see if wordpress distinguishes a fake mail id from a real one. (yeah, i know i need to grow up!) hence, the “Anonymity”. Or in other words, I just wanted to see if i could switch off the AC. I could. So I did. 🙂

Who is the one person who is usually so critical of what you post here? 🙂

I will tell you why guilt (though I am not sure ‘guilt’ is the right word to use here).

By living in closed doors, breathing in AC, I am trying to disconnect myself with the reality. The world out there is facing problems. I want to know if there is nothing I can do? I want to connect to that world. Switching off the AC was the first step towards that connection.

As far as criticism is concerned, there are many! 🙂

I second the comment by a :

it was a beautiful, stirring post till “Bihar is suffering from flood.”
What the fuck does that or terrorists attacks have anything to do with your existential angst?
Or how does shutting down your A/C solve anything? Isn’t it a misplaced sense of morality that makes us think that a sacrifice on our part sets things right or makes things better for us?

Good post. Good luck to you to whatever you want to do.
Could identify with you at most places…but at least currently you are enjoying your work..I am just chugging along..totally pointless life, totally pissed off with everything..he he.

Reading this post at the beginning of the day, was not a very good decision after a ‘not so good’ weekend…but I survived bravely 😛
I think everyone could relate to the story at some point or the other…I remember when my Dad asked me after 12th What I wanted to do…I enthusiastically said “I want to learn Fashion Designing and go for NIFT”…and he immediately said “its necessary to be a graduate first”…I still dont understand k maine kon se bade teer maar liye graduation karke..? I got admission in the Best college of DU..but as it was not what I wanted to do I never paid attention to life as it just passed by…
And I understand what must be going in your mind when you thought of switching the AC off…we feel so helpless in such situations that we do such things which might not help others nut helps us temporarily…I often do such things too…

One thing I would like to mention before I end…Kudos to the Honesty in the post…

Rock On…!!!

well i think you are on the “path of awakening and redemption” by switching of your AC
A drowning homeless man will appreciate your gesture of “Switching of your AC”
Kudos

Hi boss

It was quite a revealing short summary of a long life. In college, I always looked up to vatsa as a cheerful brainy guy who is almost just perfect. Not that my perception changed completely, but the thing of being ‘human’ again surfaces.

I was totally taken aback after reading this post. I always assumed the brilliant cartoonist, blogger, famous IITian to have been a topper in school and college all throughout.
It somehow made me feel better to know that you’ve slipped in your life too and that it doesn’t mean that I can’t get better just because I’m slipping now. I got way more out of this post than I expected to.
Thank You, Amrit.

This is the best post of your blog by a handsome margin. Your life, though, is far more interesting than most of the others who read your blog.

Success makes people complacent. It’s only failure that teaches us something really useful. Most of the people in IITs have taken up the most beaten up track and are quite successful at it. They are averse to take risks as they already have something to hold on to.

Failure at studies, failure at love and then success in each of them. That is great life experience till now. The only other person in IIT who has had a similar level of roller coaster ride of a life is perhaps L2.

Both of you are studs.

All of us are studness yaar. Tu, mai, our entire hostel, IITians, non-IITians. Studness is not just about roller coaster rides. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Fighting the battle is life. More than roller coasters rides, what we do for others in this life is what matters. 🙂

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