Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Friend Axis

An old friend of mine was recently reading one of my articles and as it turns out, he didn't agree with what I said. Thats not unusual, a lot of people disagree with my posts. What was unusual though - was that - having known me for a long time, he thought, my views were quite contradictory to the person, he knew me as. His comment brought me to a glaring confrontation with the truth - and hence this blog.

In a piece from 2005, I am found complaining about the ever-present change in life. As a response, my friend reminded me of my own roots, in his words .....

"Change is the spice and basic essence of life. Imagine a life without change--wud b so boring and predictable. Moreover, for a guy who once gave me the best Goddamn quote I hav ever heard---Only those who have faith in their convictions dare 2 swim against the tide-------shudnt really b averse 2 change. Cheers!!!!!! "

As I read through the post again, I couldn't agree with my friend more. It is very rare that I have conceded a point without a fight. In this case however, I was happy to make an exception. I found my hesitation with change quite appalling and certainly unworthy of my former self. And it made me wonder just how different I was from my past ??

I have always defined myself based on two indices, first my own opinion of self and second my friends' opinion about me. I believe only close friends can tell truth to your face, since they want the best for you, they always point out your mistakes promptly and you listen to them, knowing that their intention is good. And so, in a way -I find out where I am by finding my distance from the two axes; a self axes and a friends axes.
If I have ever strayed off too far, my friends have always brought me back... But ever since I have moved to the United States, I have found myself so far away from my friends, that often times I am quite lost. And it took only a simple comment for me to discover my second dimension.

I remembered saying the above quote in school days. Back then, we were so naive and impressionable that whatever was taught to us - remained etched in our brains forever. Sitting on a wooden bench, we allowed ourselves to get lost ..... in lessons from Danny Kaye .... who quoting his father, said ....... "Some people need to stay in the same horizons for safety, others need to constantly move ...... test their wings against new winds ..... if you are not happy where you are .... don't settle unless you find what you are looking for"

Filled with boundless enthusiasm and fierce daring, we set high ambitions for ourselves, with only sky as the limit. Most of that was shed as part of growing up and facing life, but a part still remains - a part that screams for justice.

It was with immense sorrow that I realized how let down, my friend must have felt ..... hearing me say things, I would have never said a decade back. And so, a prime reason behind me writing this piece was to make him a promise ...... that given a moment of choice where the right path seems to be against the current, my steps shall not falter - that - as excruciating as it may be - I will make the needed sacrifice on the altar of ambition.

So, why write it as public post instead of a private email? Well - so that the shame of public disgrace in case of defeat - will hold me to my word.

A promise my friend. You can count on that!

- Sanket


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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Graduation Walk!

We are buying suits, we are renting cars, we are tuning our guitars and shining our shoes .......... who's we? and what the hell am I talking about??? I am talking of the batch of Spring 2006 graduating in 2 weeks. :) Yes! Thats me and my friends Deepak, Vineela, Gautam and Nirupa. This blog is dedicated to them and in general to the spirit of friendship that ties fellow batch mates together. And while I may narrate the rest of this blog in first person, may the reader bear in mind that these experiences relate equally in some form or the other to every Indian student who goes through a Masters in a U.S. university. 

 I was a kid when I joined Engineering - which essentially - as far as Bombay University is concerned - is a furnace that by the end of it makes you rock hard and completely shock resistant. It is more a character building life style than a technical education. And so when I graduated with my bachelors, I thought I had gone through all hardships that could possibly exist in the world. It is only now that I realize how wrong I was - and how much did my Masters teach me.. 

 I changed in ways and via means that I didn't think were possible. Like any good painting, my Masters was filled with every shade of color and mood possible, an experience so rich and vibrant that it fills me with immense pleasure just to think of all that happened.

 In the course of my graduate studies.....

 I have .... grown academically ... been challenged constantly and forced to develop new skills .... in terms of sheer technical range, my Masters put me in a completely different stratosphere as compared to my Bachelors. 

 I have helped and saved a friend ........ and watched a student resurrected from the ruins to move on to a settled life. Watched it with silent pride and a satisfaction that puts a smile on my face even today.

 I have gone stark mad and angry over silly things .... Yelled at a friend ..... and calmed down to realize my mistake... then gone back and apologized. 

 I have wandered the streets of Logan at ungodly hours .... completely drunk and senseless on a Sunday ..... and had my personal best for running a healthy mile on the next.... 

 I have beaten and got thrashed at birthday parties.. have set my own personal record of puking over vodka .... and also have put many a drunken friends to bed.

 Have had endless hours of hot tea and light conversations .... on almost every set of steps that the town had to offer.... 

I have had my arrogance, my pride, my plutonic ego and my cockiness broken through by a woman, who didn't even have to argue. I have learnt and understood what love means ......... and have had myself helplessly carried by a power I had never faced before .... I have played with fire and gotten burnt .... I have smashed myself against a will stronger than mine and had myself shattered .... shattered and rebuilt again. 


I have tasted the shame of defeat and the ecstasy of victory .... and have been made to introspect ... deep and wide ... to find my true limits ... and to redefine myself - and have learnt to still, hold my head high. 

 I have been betrayed and had my faith in friendship questioned .... then I have been helped and had my faith restored....

 I have spent nights listening to a friend blabbering senseless agony over a broken heart .... and told myself .... I would never do that .... and then have caught myself irresistibly tempted to do the same ....

 I have met people of higher intelligence and found a way to compete. I have learnt to admire and respect much more than I ever did.

 And strangely, half way across the globe and several time zones apart ... I have come to know my own country like never before. 

 I have enjoyed delicious moments of limelight on stage ... and contrary to my own belief have caught myself loving it... I have endured months and months together of financial suffocation ... and have learnt to truly understand and enjoy what money means... 

 I have successfully defended my thesis - and hopefully made a contribution to the scientific community...

 I have etched my initials in a place I will never reveal... :P I have made my contributions ... and done my bit. 

 I have found myself miles and miles away from where I started ... and have realized sometimes just going on with the journey ... is perhaps the best choice .... 

 In some way or another .... these experiences are true of every student who leaves his/her beloved home to come here ... like fellow soldiers who have survived a long battle .... the ties that I have forged with my batch mates are ties that I will treasure the rest of my life!

 And, so in a span of two weeks when I am going to walk down with my cap and gown .... and then toss my tassel high in the sky.... I would have celebrated ....... well - a true education. 

 - Sanket 




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Saturday, April 05, 2008

I wish ......

Ok - so I am getting bored sitting home - not that there arent things I would want to do, its just - I can't - so I decided on the next best thing .... write about them...
Well, heres a list of things I wish...

I wish, I could take all of my close friends and go on a camping trip. Put up little tents - and not sleep in them, but stay up all night sitting about a camp fire, playing my guitar and watching my friends in the amber fire light, eat chicken legs roasted fresh .... drink vodka ... and slur out names .. hahah ... throw things at them, get hit on the head, get mugged and - have taken care of for a while .... have people who would ask ... "Had dinner?" ..... lie on the ground and take deep breaths of cool air ... and not worry about things ... no career - no relationships - no responsibilities - no burdens .. and go to sleep with the certainty that I would protect my friends from any harm that shall fall that night ..... and vice versa... sleep without the guilt that someone might be needing me half way across the globe tonight ... and I can not be with them.

I wish, I could have a girl to go to .... just for once, when life has been cruel, go to her and lie on her lap and fall asleep with a caring hand on my forehead. Not that I have objections to life being a bitch, or facing problems, but just for once, take a break - have one night of rest .... of healing - and go back to face it with renewed spirit...

I wish ... for once - that my aching sighs were not echoed back from empty loneliness .. but reached some one ... who would put them away and make me smile .... just once ... in case there was some outer world power capable of granting my wishes .. I do not want to appear greedy .. so just once a year ... I wish I could have this luxury.

I wish ... when I am tired from work and walk and toil ..... and go to bed ... but can not sleep .... due to things .... that still haunt me .... that when I am called to get up ... by that unrelenting alarm .... I could sleep .... just five more minutes.... just five please..

I wish ... that there be someone lovely .... who would dry my hair - when I got out of shower .... and make me late for work ... cos shes dressed in nothing but my shirt ... that there be a time when I am helplessly seduced .... and spoilt ... and angry and immensely happy ... all at the same time.. I wish that once a year, I be granted .... ummm ugh ... a 'sex-leave'.

I wish I could .. once more .... sit all day at a CCD .... as I once did ... with friends chatting non sense ..... in a place .... where everyone from the customers to the waiter know me... where old - responsible and married people can come and look at me ... and warn their kids ... not to become like this ....

I wish I could .... yell out lewd comments during a scene in a theater ... and have people "Shush me!" .... and have my friends tell me once again ... if I was beaten that day ... they dont know me :)

I wish - I could .... be bored once more .... in my old college lecture hall.... and pass chits ... with stupid jokes ... and get caught and punished ... just one more time....

I wish I could ..... hang out a running train ..... and talk to Mumbai ... and feel free .... and listen to "Radio Mirchi" once again ... and go home with pockets carrying 50paise peanuts .... and shirts having loooong hair on them ... and be asked by my mother .... who IS this???? ...... another evening..

I wish I be innocent to say ..... "Star shine star bight! The first star I see tonight ..... I wish I may - I wish I might ...... have the wish - I wish tonight!"

- Sanket


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