Person: narcissistic note to self.

Another rainy afternoon in the city, and I watch through my window the people grasping on to the collars of their coats and umbrellas running to meet up deadlines to free some space for a glass of wine by the fire place with their persons escaping from their mundane schedule. So many people and their daily impact on one and another, each one significantly contributing to the life of other for better or, for worse. Some shake hands, hug and spread smiles while some push the other off the cliff by looting them for their own greed. Who remains with us when we differentiate the materialistic things from the humane behaviour that we exchange?

You were always there with me.

You were a critic, a support, a necessity, a foe and a partner: that somebody who patiently sits by me without saying a word while I hear you. You were me, but just not within me. I can see you standing by the door looking at me. You carefully learnt the ways of others, the style of my friends and carefully integrated them within. The many forms you took to never make me feel the absence of anyone else, who would otherwise not be there. By your simple objectivity and acceptance, you left a significant impact on my life. You were me, just not within me.

Such is the person who has significantly made an impact on my life. In moments of extreme emotions, the third person always jumped outside my body to restore normalcy. When I grew weary, he talked to me and made me understand with a rational explanation and did not let me feel small. He celebrated my victories but reminded me nobody has seen what tomorrow brings. When she and the rest made decisions for themselves, he told me it’s alright and I must not expect. When I escaped to a new dimension to seek solace, he told if I was doing it right, and whether the photographs conveyed what I wanted to say. He critiqued my work with great finesse and found the flaws that needed to be corrected, advices and quick tips to be kept in mind such that I could make a good picture, great. When I am on stage, I see him sitting there in the audience knowing exactly where I stumble and point out the pros and parts that need improvement. He established the fine line of right and wrong and through simple and effective humane connection of friendship, he introspected for my self-improvement.

He was I. You were me, just not within me. My principles, morals and all that I believed, mastered like a lawyer.

Disclaimer:

I am not a loner. I have friends whom I cherish. This is just a practice of being empathetic to myself first, and then to others. We need answers to all that we face and it is best to go back, place ourselves there and relive. The span of life is a long journey to 00different places. It would be irrational to expect and depend myself on to another person to everywhere I go, unless the person is me

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Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there and why is it meaningful to you?

June 10th 2013

6:00 AM, the alarm rings, I head out for a run. It’s almost 7:00 AM now and I need to freshen up, have breakfast and leave for work. 8:20 AM, getting past the typical Monday morning rush hour, I manage to make it on time. At Oodio, we always have a morning call at 9:00 AM with the co-founder who allocates us jobs for the day. 9:30 AM, I have been assigned to cover a conference for Microsoft Ventures and I must head out to the shoot pronto. 

Since I never had formal photography training, it was indeed an exciting challenge to understand all the technical factors that made a great photo ‘great’. Oodio, fully aware of my inexperience, took me on board as their youngest intern. Initially, learning was just random experimentation with a lot of dark, white, and blurry images; now I exactly understand what each number means.

10:20 AM, Microsoft India Research Labs awes me with its giant American corporate feel and the conference commences at the Accelerator. 12:30 PM, seeking an opportunity of the refreshment break, as the President of The Debate Club, I have to make some calls to the co-organizers of The Bait ’13 (an inter-city competition we are organizing) enquiring about a venue for the event.

3:00 PM, the conference ends at Microsoft and grabbing a bite of a cheese sandwich, I head back to office to back up all the coverage data. I reach Oodio and learn that our e-commerce clients and wedding photographers landed us with new jobs for post-production and so I decide to take them up. 4:00 PM, the co-organizer informs me that the venue costs 60,000 INR. This worries me as The Debate Club Bangalore already has a negative figure balance. 5:00 PM, the part I look forward to the most, I head to piano class and my new teacher ensures that I have a thorough practice session. I feel rejuvenated.

Traveling always gets me thinking about my choices—“You plan to just sit at home for a year?” People often confuse a gap year with inactivity whereas my reality is far from it. When I graduated from high school, I had boldly decided to take an unconventional detour. Although I felt quite scared, I chose to add value to my life and engage in things that I felt a personal connection with. For the first time by this decision, I wasn’t living someone else’s life.

Oh well, I have bigger worries—I need press coverage for the debate event. No, I need a venue first!

7:00 PM, I’m home; I boot my laptop and start designing a sponsorship brochure. 8:30 PM, the organizing team reviews the brochure, implements necessary changes after which I send it out to all companies who could potentially partner with The Debate Club. 9:00 PM, after 17 long emails, I realise that I also have to send out e-invites to all the schools in Bangalore. 9:30 PM, we begin an hour-long conference call with the organisers, who, with their diverse opinions, made it really intense. Meanwhile, my caring mother ensured that I gulped a few spoons of rice and curry. 10:30 PM, I need to start researching on Mexico for Harvard Model United Nations India 2013. This is my first MUN conference, another opportunity to stand in front of an audience, and do what I love, to express my opinions on a topic in search of viable solutions. 12:00 AM, I usually spend time learning on Quora, but tonight I just feel like reading V. S. Ramachandran’s “Phantoms in The Brain”. I don’t know what time it is, I have fallen asleep, awesomely content.

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

“….No college? You plan to just sit at home for a year?”

The magic of growing up in India is that, every individual has a unique story to tell. I was born to a typical Bengali family of high academic rank holders and toppers. When I graduated from high school, I had boldly decided to take an unconventional detour because I believed that I was more than a piece of paper judging me. The concept is not anew, but it was a life decision uncommon to my background. To most people it was hard to accept the fact that I was not attending college. Many often reminded me about the adverse effects and dreadful uncertainties of my “wasteful” decision. People often confuse a gap year with inactivity whereas my reality was far from it.

My fulfilling experience included photography shoots, trying my hand at videography, learning new software like Adobe Illustrator and Premier Pro, classical piano training and music making, reading mind expanding books, studying neuroscience and economics via online courses, attending my first MUN conference, and so on.

In the age of online tutorials, learning image post production is a just click away. As an amateur photographer, it was indeed an exciting challenge to understand all the technical factors that made a photo ‘great’. I interned at a photography firm called Oodio where, along with technical skills and work responsibilities, I also learnt priceless people skills. The work environment gave me a taste of the real world; decisions have consequences. It also helped me network and interact at entrepreneurial hubs such as the Microsoft Accelerator and Startup Leardership Program.

Further, I took my passion to argue – to the masses through The Debate Club, and ever since I have been better informed about the world and myself. In this active life I led in exploration, I met very interesting people and built truly wonderful relationships.

Although I felt quite scared, I chose to add value to my life and engage in things that I felt a personal connection with. I set goals and began to venture into things that I had very little experience in. By pursuing what I love, for the first time I was not living someone else’s life. My motivation was not to build an impressive résumé, but to acquire important life skills that took me closer to a happy place— mentally and physically.

If you were to look back on your high school years, what advice would you give to someone beginning his or her high school years?

My high school years have been full of revelations, and the three important ones that shaped my world-view are:

First, question! Always question what you study, question how basic things that surround you work, question beyond the examination, and question to seek your personal truths. Over time, this skill you will help you spark ideas. Asking ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’ helped me identify the things that I could improve upon. Currently, Quora is my homepage as it helps me interact with people, and increase my understanding on varied issues to a higher plane.

The second is confidence. Acquisition of knowledge will liberate you of fear. You realize that your biggest fears are nothing but illusions. Upon this realization, you are instantly better equipped in your pursuits. This may not be the end of fear, but is the beginning of building character.  

The third is to build a varied friend circle; one that has multiple interests across myriad spheres. This will ensure that you are in a constant cycle of sharing and learning. Further, understand that it is okay to be different from your peers. You must identify friends from acquaintances and build relations that you can save, or that will save you one day.

 

“Difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat. Rather achievement can be all the more satisfying because of obstacles surmounted.”

In May 2013, I met my new piano teacher, Mr Terence Pereira. My former teacher felt that I was ready to take up advance levels and introduced me to him. At first, I felt he was very cold, because he didn’t even ask my name or what I did. He did an Ear Test and said, “Tuesdays, 5:30.” And now, I eagerly wait for that time every week.

            In my first class, he opened the Grade 4 in Piano book by Trinity College and played all the pieces to give me an idea of the sound and level. Out of the set, I loved the slow and contemporary pieces. Soon after which, he played Rondo, 2nd movement from Sonatina in F, by Ludwig van Beethoven. This piece looked complex; full of intricate dynamics, quarter notes on a 2/4 timing at 120 BPM tempo. Since I was preparing for a grade examination, I dreaded choosing this difficult piece. Sensing my fear he said, “Great! So we start with this piece.”

From a very young age, I was taught by ear and never had any formal training in music until a year ago. Sight reading was out of question! It took me months to analyse each hand, and only then could I begin to play each hand separately and slowly. These examinations required three pieces. After working on the first piece, it took me less than a week to accomplish the other two. With three months of effort, I could finally play the Beethoven piece at 89 BPM.

I had overcome the most limiting factor— the fear of failing at trying something new. I also realized how fortunate I was to have a patient teacher like him, who spread his love for music exponentially, and who didn’t teach for exams, but taught with the ambition to create the most skilled pianist out of me.