2016, Jeete Hain Chal - Part I
Thank you everyone who sent their year-reviews for my blog. It really means a lot to me. This ritual of mine is in the 7th year, and I hope to continue it as long as I'm here.
This year, I too have written my year-review, after a gap of three years. Much was happening in my life during this while, and I found it extremely hard to write here honestly, because the people I'd have wanted to write about are readers of this blog. But I've no such qualms this year.
This is an admittedly gloomy and hurriedly put up post, and I have conveniently missed out all the happy moments that ensued during this year, but please forgive me this one time, as these are the major things that came to my mind when I thought about the year that just went by.
A few years back, I was naive enough to believe that every year of life is supposed to be better than the last. Now I realize that I was just over-fitting with the training data I had. I never imagined that I could find myself in a spiral where each year is worse off than the previous one.
The year started with a cycle accident which left me with an immediate post traumatic amnesia, post concussion syndrome due to which I had headaches throughout the day for three months, visit to five kinds of doctors, neurosurgeon, orthopedic, general physician, general surgeon, and a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with clinical depression and prescribed anti-depressants and sleeping pills, none of which I took.
Then, my paternal grandfather, who had been enduring an extended phase of illness, passed away. I thought I'd get to see him one last time, but just as my flight from Bangalore was about to take off, Dad called and said, "Dadaji has breathed his last". For the first time in my life, I think I heard his voice crack. When I reached there the next day, delayed by several hours, because Haryana had been blocked by Jat protesters, I was surprised to see that not only was my grandmother not crying, but she was consoling the ones who were. I think his was a life well lived. He raised 3 sons, the eldest of whom became a CA, the middle one joined the army, the youngest one(my dad) became an engineer. He was an epitome of discipline. He ate the vegetables he grew in his own garden, woke up early, diligently practiced Yoga all his life, and his health remained in perfect condition, even in his eighties, until cancer decided to show up. One biding memory of his will be how he always exclaimed "Achhhaa" and smiled heartily whenever we went to see him. Though the last couple of times when I met him, this didn't happen.
Dad got promoted and simultaneously transferred to Kurukshetra. Mum comes to Delhi when my brother or I am visit. Though I know she'll come to Delhi whenever I'm around, but it makes me a little sad to know that Delhi is no longer my home.
I turned 25 this year. Being on the wrong side of the twenties, there have been times when I've felt sad about my youth gradually passing without having done any groundbreaking work or fun, about time passing by to find a partner to spend my life with before an arranged marriage comes knocking, about the responsibilities that are going to come my way soon enough, for which I find myself utterly unprepared.
I quit my job at Oracle after getting an admit from Columbia University for Master's in Computer Science. I left my job with 2-3 months to go before leaving for US because I wanted to spend some time with my parents, knowing that it might not be possible in the future. I played cricket during that time, spent time catching Pokemons with a dear cousin brother, played carrom with my father and tried to learn cooking from my mother. It was a nice carefree time.
I fared very poorly in my first semester at Columbia. Just to be clear, people I know might think I'm chiding myself for not scoring high enough. In reality, I've just barely avoided getting expelled from Columbia. Yes, it was that bad.
Over the course of two decades, I have regularly vacillated from seriously wanting to being a doctor to a stuntman and a multitude of other professions sprinkled in between. I've wanted to be a journalist/writer/novelist too at some point. I'll elucidate this in another post some other day. But I remember the first time I was asked this question was in the late 90s when I was in Sir Ganga Ram hospital getting an ultrasound done. The nurse asked me what I wanted to be in life. I replied, "Senior Engineer". That was the designation my father had then.
And that's what I'm going to do in 2017. I'm going to try to study/work towards becoming a better engineer. For a long while, I've considered myself to be a poet, and I've considered it to be an inseparable part of my identity. Then, in the last two years, I read up on a lot about investing, and consider myself to be an investor as well. I've come to realize that I've been ignoring my true vocation, and giving undue importance, for various reasons, to what are essentially my hobbies. It's an embarrassing confession to make that my prime motive for applying for Master's, apart from the fact that this was the only option that was left after failing everywhere else(CFA, CAT, job), was that I wanted new experiences and new people in my life. But now that I'm here at Columbia, I'm going to make the most of it.
I've many things going well for me in life - I've parents and friends who care a lot about me, I'm studying in one of the best universities situated in one best cities of the world, I'm a good person at heart, I've a friend who I can call my best friend, but none of this can help me when I sleep at night, looking at the ceiling, feeling a little empty about not having done well enough, and moreover, not having given my best in my endeavors. It pained me that while boarding the flight back to home, and while waiting for my mother to pick me at the airport, I couldn't feel excited enough, because I was feeling ashamed at having wasted my first semester. I hope this was the final nail in the coffin for my lazy and carefree nature.
There are a few things that I want to change about myself in the coming year. I want to become a better listener, to focus more on living life than spending time giving its commentary, to surround myself with better people.
I know that I'll be able to do all this and more, because 17 has always been my favorite number, and the year is 2017. Also, a bright future was predicted last week in a game of Court piece that I was playing with friends in teams of two. My team had lost the first round badly, which was quite a reflection of how she and I had fared in the first semester. We somehow came to the conclusion that the second round will be a precursor to the second semester, and though it seemed highly unlikely, we won. We went on to win the final third around as well. This has somehow made me more confident that 2017 is mine!