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The Days of Competition…


competition

Halfway through through my undergraduate days, I look back in time to ponder over the times which passed by. Memories come flooding into my mind – but the ones of which I think the most, are those which had no no time to think. The two years which I believe every science student in India has experienced – The Last Two Years of Schooling. So here is what comes to my mind when I think of the two years…
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Time: 4:30 AM
Alarm Beeping… Sudden Realisation – “I overslept for 30 minutes… Oh no!”
Looking at the heap of books… Rushing towards the washroom; and then back – for what – Studies of course! To battle out questions to be exact

“I overslept… How could I…
Anyhow Subject for the day – Chemistry
Target: 120 Questions – 1 hour
Timer Set
Ready..Set…Go!”

And then the poor notebook of mine… Going through all the pains as structures of weird, poisonous and dangerous chemicals were drawn through. My mind, immersed in solving the questions – we and only we do know how ‘unscientifically’ did we reason them out.

Time’s up!
I feel the sun on the horizon.
Time to check the answers…
” aadc…aadc; bbdb…bbdc.
Oh no! c… How! Why! I was sure that it was b!
Anyhow -1 instead of 3. 4 marks gone. Continue checking”

“191 out of 360…
Not enough!
Anyways…
What’s the time now… 6:45…
Mom! Breakfast!!”

Had the breakfast – get ready – and rush…
“Why do they have a rule for 70% attendance?
Else I would have more time solve questions.
What the crap!”

In the school…
Lecture going on
Me – on the first bench – solving questions of a test paper – not related to the class in anyway.
Now there arise two questions
First – How dare I do so?
Answer – Special privilege of being the ‘brightest’ in class. I don’t know how did they decide it. I was not the topper.. was the second rank holder (that damn girl – how much could she study?). Anyways, I did have the permissions for an open betrayal of the class.

Second – Why did I?
Answer – Because everyone did so. After all we were a bunch of more than 1 million students struggling for less than 4 thousand seats. We were preparing for IIT-JEE. The competition: immense; the craze: boundless…

Return from the school – 2:30 PM
Take a bath, have a lunch – and then off to coaching – The Factory to produce studious stupid Human Machines so that they can be dumped into an engineering college.

In the van, taking us to the coaching centre, we had the moments where we gossiped with our friends. Topics of discussion – how many questions did one solve for the day; were there any good question banks available; or what are our odds of being selected in the exam.

Then we reached the coaching centres. The place where they claimed to ‘teach’ us science; they taught us how to solve questions. The system was too mechanical…

9:00 PM – Back to home – Dinner – Study again (but this time with heavy eyelids).
And as the clock struck 11 o’ clock. My eyelids gave up for the day.

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Those were the days of a blind struggle. Aims in life were: Solve questions till the last breath; learn less – only to the extent required to solve questions. No problems if you score less in an exam if you can ensure that others too score less. Those were the days of competition… to crush others and strive forward…

Such is the life of a typical class XII student of science in India. The funny part is they don’t understand what they are doing. And FYI, the ‘Science’ students here do no science… What they do is ‘Engineering Preparation’ in official language and ‘Moving in a flock of sheep’ in the actual sense.

What they do is not my choice, but by force. The society forces you to do what you are doing. Here engineering is the default branch of study if you choose science and maths during schooling. If you enroll in a ‘science’ course in the college, it is implied that you did not get an engineering seat…

And today as I sit in a science college writing this stuff up, you must be thinking, what happened next. The battle way long and twists to the story remain. But those I save for another day.

The Exam of Life


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Why are you so restless, my mind?

Is peace that you seek so difficult to find?

Why do you tumble through ups and downs?

Why do you care about the smiles and the frowns?

“Sir! Please! For my Children…” (Bhaiyya! Bachchon ke liye kuchh de do). These words awakened me from a nap, only to  see a pair of hands been spread out in hope of money. I raised my eyes to see a lady, very poorly dressed along with a child, maybe in his tens. I took out a rupee coin and gave it to her.

It was a lazy afternoon and waiting for a train on the platform made it even boring. And after a very busy Christmas, one requires a short nap for sure. But as my sleep was already broken, I decided to take a walk down the platform. Then I saw a bunch of coolies (the people who carry heavy luggage for people) discussing the recent India-Pakistan cricket match. They seemed to be enjoying the rare respite from the work they do.

The jolly mind of mine turned pensive. I was happily rejoicing the long awaited results (which stated that I was amongst the toppers of the class), the eagerly awaited holidays and the ever delicious home-made food (one of the two reasons I want to goto home – the other being sleep). But now I was filled with questions.

“Look at yourself, Arindam! What do you do? Feed yourself over a huge scholarship! And why did you get the silly scholarship? Because you cleared an exam. Does clearing an exam make you so eligible that you make your living virtually without efforts for the next 5 years of life? Where does the money of your scholarship come from? From the government. More precisely, the tax payers. That includes the coolies sitting there, the vegetable vendor who comes to your house daily, the auto driver who drove you to the station.”

Very true! It is eventually they who let me study throughout at subsidised rates. And for all these favours, what do they expect in return? Development. Why is it that the lady had to spread her arms in times of need? I believe that I still have something to do to make the people here proud.

The problem of the country starts only when the brighter lot of the country flees away from the responsibilities. If I use the advantages given by my people for my own benefit and luxury I would be a parasite, a cheater.

So what, if you were born in a dirty lake? If you run away from the lake into a cleaner one, the lake remains to be dirty. Why not clean the lake instead to make the lake realise its true true identity?

“Try to make others happy; happiness for you is born out of the happiness they get.”

Yes I topped my class and a handful of people congratulate me on that. But I await the day when I die – May the world congratulate me on succeeding a exam – the exam of life…

The Second Home


Well people say there is not a feeling like being at home. Might be… Might not be… As far as I am concerned, it is not. I mean there are some aspects you always find which makes you feel attracted towards your home, but there are many more interesting features to be explored in the hostel. As many of the young readers would agree, the excitement of going back to home dies away not more than 7 days after reaching home. A place like hostel gives you more freedom to live your life the way you like. Here you come across people, their views and thoughts. You try to develop your own stand on issues that you see. Some concern you in particular, others can be generalised to the society. In my view, hostels are the true schools which engineer a complete person out of you.

Take friends for example, the building blocks of a hostel. This is the place where you understand their true worth. With parents far away from reach, you know that you would have to turn to them whenever you are in need, you make friends out of natural instinct and time continuously tests your friendship; mostly strengthening them in each test. This is the time you come to realise the difference between your parents and the friends. Any number of times you let your parents down, any number of times you ask a favour from them; you are sure that they would never leave you alone. Friends in the hostel are closer to reality. Friendship never works one way. You can’t be the sole person to demand in a friendship. Even the society works in a similar way. However friends are gentler than the society. They are not traders who count the number of favours done by them and expect the count to exactly match the number of favours done by their friends. The hostel teaches you how to make friends, and more importantly how to be a good friend.

There are many other facets of life which the hostel teaches you. It is the last frontier of life before you go to face the society head on. It is the last frontier where mistakes regarding important decisions in life can mostly be rectified without causing much of harm. And in my opinion it is the only place where you can discuss, analyse and question any system of the society and ask “Why is life the way it is?”

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