Monday, November 28, 2011

One Drink

One drink to the champ,
Forced in the ring with his hands tied 

One drink to the tears unseen,
The ones pride couldn't hide

One drink for the striving lark,
Flying, to an empty nest

One drink to the unhealed wounds 
The bleeds, time can't mend

One drink my friends
To those who drink,
One drink to those
Who understand why

- Sanket 


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Saturday, November 12, 2011

About Rock Star ...

After a lot of anticipation, I saw the movie Rock Star yesterday. I will get to its review in a bit, I first wanted to spend a little time on its music. Before I go on - I must tell you - that this article is for romantic dreamers - if you aren't one of those - then I think you'd find this post hard to relate.

Most of you by now, must have heard the iconic song "Tum Ho" from this film - sung by Mohit Chauhan - I have heard people say its "nice" and "awesome" and "amazing" - But no one has done it justice so far. So - I am going to suggest you an experiment. Heres what you do :- 

Imagine the first time you were compulsively attracted to a person. Imagine a real person, not a celebrity. Doesn't matter if you ended up with that person or not - just think of her. You should be able to picture her in your head - what was the hair like, how was the laughter, what did the perfume smell of - color the image with detail. Ok, now put your cynicism and realism aside for a while and go along with me. Imagine a perfect world - where you fall in love with this person through marvellous chemistry and incredibly fun dating. And she has fallen for you just as much. And you leave for an unannounced vacation.

You don't have to worry about money and work - and no one is watching over you two. You don't have to call anyone - or answer to anyone and you have just left. YOU are completely free. Let me spell it out - that means you don't care where you go or how long it takes to get there. It means you don't fret one second over stupid worldly affairs - you don't dampen your adventure with safety - you are free from all constraints. You can make coffee at 4am and go take a bath in the beach - then make crazy, intoxicated love and fall asleep. Or you can be perched atop a mountain with an incredible view with no one else to disturb you. You have the liberty to enjoy each moment with your entire being, with your mind and body fully present. In other words it is the total embodiment of every romantic desire you've ever had. Now hold that image in your head and listen to this song with your eyes closed - on good headphones please!! 

If you did it right, it will twist your stomach and almost make you scream. Mohit Chauhan has infused this song with such surreal 'nasha' that you can get drunk just listening to it. It should shake, shudder and ignite your core. This is simply speaking divinity captured on tape. 

It is love in the absolute true form. When you want, crave, adore and obsess a person physically, mentally and spiritually. It happens with only a few - and even with those - it happens only once. How exactly does it happen is unknown to me - what I do know - is that this kind of love demands extreme courage in you. It is so powerful that when you first feel its wildness, it will scare the brains out of you. And you will very seriously consider simply running away. This is a force that does not yield to will power or ego or arrogance and pride - nor cares for laws and boundaries. And if you surrender to it - one thing is certain: no matter what the outcome - your life and you as you knew yourself are over! Things will never go back to before - its a unidirectional, irreversible change.

So let me ask you this - when was the last time you kissed and felt it all over - a kiss that stiffed your feet and convulsed your body. Have you ever - after one simple touch of fingers - felt the hair stand up under your sleeve. Or with one glance at a person, simply forgot every single thought in your mind. It is the kind of love that will set your soul on fire and light you from within! 

It is that love that Rock Star tries to capture - tries and fails. There are decent movies that become great when made well and then there are great movies like Rock Star that are so poorly made, it drives you nuts. Ranbir Kapoor pulls off his best performance to date and he really deserved a lot more support from the movie. Regardless, this movie will firmly establish him as an actor with some serious gravitas. 

Also worthy of undiluted admiration is A. R. Rehman's music - not since Rang De Basanti have songs flown in such quixotical manners. The film will also bring a lot of change for the singer Mohit Chauhan. Unfortunately it means - for the fans of his original self - of Guncha and Sabse Peeche Hum Khade - its an end to substantive music. Now it is pointless populism and him singing incredibly sad, meaningful songs being raped and remixed at concerts - while an idiot and illiterate public go crazy in the crowd. 

Mohit Chauhan is to be enjoyed with tear induced whisky in the middle of the night in blissful solitude. His song "Tum Ho" will forever establish his signature. It is one of those songs  that no other singer can ever hope to mimic and if and when they do - they'll look like morons. Not since Atif Aslam's  tere bin - has a song hit me so hard. Hatts off to him. 

This film is mainly of unfinished love. If you are of this crazy and foolhardy population willing to risk all on one coin toss - You might just forgive Rock Star for all its flaws and see it for what it could possibly be trying to say. 


- Sanket

Afterthought:: One of the key messages of the movie (which like everything else will be lost) is of how we treat our artists. They are celebrated and adored - but also objectified and abstracted as iconic statues - never humanized. It should give us a pause and make us think. That may be just may be may be - beyond the job of entertaining and performing in films, a star like Kareena Kapoor or Deepika or Ranbir might be a real human being at the end of the day. Capable of the same mistakes we all make, who laughs and cries and falls in love in real life as well. And may be - who they date or don't - or how to define their love - is NONE OF OUR DAMN business. 


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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A few thoughts on amateur astronomy

Long ago the Greeks called him Zeus – named after the God of the Gods, the king of kings and the master of all. I am talking about Jupiter – the largest planet of our solar system. Jupiter was one the first objects I saw with my telescope. And I have to say that the first experience was profound. I had looked at Saturn before, and its just obviously so pretty, you can see the rings and Titan. But Jupiter is a whole different story altogether.

It is spectacular, uniquely beautiful, awe-inspiring and overwhelmingly majestic. One look and you can tell – this is the king of all planets. When looking through the telescope, you can tell – despite the great distance – that it is a giant planet.

It has shielded us from asteroids and other hazards by attracting them towards him with his massive gravity. Jupiter happens to be just the right size for Earth to sustain its nature, if it were any bigger, its core would have triggered a nuclear fusion making it into another star. Most of our probes to the outer planets and outside of the solar system use Jupiter’s gravitational pull as a sling shot. So, by all standards, we owe a lot to Jupiter – and seeing him through the telescope demands a certain reverence. I guess the Greeks weren’t all that wrong after all!

Alongside Jupiter, I observed its four galilean moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Castillo! About four hundred years ago Galileo made the same observation and it changed the world. It is humbling to know that even four centuries ago, there was a scientist so true to his observations, that he risked the wrath of the Roman Church and along with it complete ostracism from society for scientific integrity. Galileo pointed his telescope toward Zeus and saw the four moons revolving around Jupiter! This clearly and observably refuted the notion that the universe revolved around Earth!

Later he sat in a cathedral and deduced from the chandeliers that the period of oscillation was independent of the size of the arc. Then, he refuted another common theory and suggested that heavier and lighter objects hit the earth at the same time. Which took some guts considering that the theory he was refuting was of Aristotle’s!

It is indeed exhilarating to make the same observations as this great father of astronomy. And it reminds us that each time we think we are sure of how the world works – how the universe is structured, we should know that it could all change with one observation! It helps mankind retain perspective when immersed and absorbed in our circles, we begin to think of ourselves beyond nature and above GOD.

A lot of people debate the existence of GOD - of intelligent creation. And many more still wonder if science can prove/disprove the existence of God. I think all of these deliberations are irrelevant. And you only need to take a decent enough telescope to a dark site to understand this.

How you define God is up to each individual. But the existence of God cannot be questioned.  Take  a telescope and go to a dark site – look at a distant galaxy, or a star forming nebula, look at Jupiter or its four moons and let yourself truly absorb it. Understand the distances involved, understand the physics involved, understand the science of each photon and you will see that for an arrangement of objects  so beautiful – there has to be a higher governing power.

So take it from me. Don’t care about what the religious books say or what Stephen Hawkins is typing out – the heavens through a lens will give you a more visceral and indelible spiritual experience than a temple ever will! And in that moment you will realize the Science and Religion to converge and mean the same thing – and any discrepancy between the two will disappear.

Welcome to Astronomy my friends! I assure you – IT WILL CHANGE YOUR WORLD!!

- Sanket


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Friday, October 07, 2011

Own a Mac! You'll know.

My first laptop was a Toshiba Satellite. It was big and bulky and made growling noises when you ran heavy applications or watched movies. I owned this laptop from 2004 to 2007. On my return trip from India in 2007 - the airline employee at the security checkin told me I was way over the weight limit for my carry on luggage. The heaviest thing in my bag was the laptop and I decided to leave it back in India. When I came back to the States, I missed not having my own computer, but I never missed the Toshiba per se. 

Some 2 weeks later, I won an in-state tuition waiver and suddenly came in possession of a good chunk of money. It was then that I decided that I would use it to get a new laptop. I was of course only considering windows laptops, dells, anything cheap and reliable. Having grown up in India, I had never heard of an Apple and I had never heard of Steve Jobs. I first encountered Apple, when I bought the iPod shuffle on a thanksgiving deal. It was fundamentally simple and literally spelled out all it could do. On my laptop hunt, I wandered into the university book store which was sporting the new line of Apple products. This was strictly window shopping! After all if an Indian student is supposed to buy a laptop, its going to be a crazy great deal - a cheap laptop and it will be online. This was definitely window shopping. 

And then, I held a Macbook! I couldn't describe what was it that I felt. But I instantly connected  with it. This was different, this guy had a personality, he didn't copy other people, he didn't compromise to please masses - it was different! I with my Indian upbringing and zero knowledge of Apple or individualism - knew it. It resonated in a place deeper than conscience. And of course, I instantly bought it. With a debit card! Yep - $1300 cash - gone! 

And then of course the comments started pouring in. Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind ? You spent $1300 on a laptop ?? Without research? No deals? Do you even know what applications will run on a mac? Oh my GOD!! YOU are so stupid!! What would your parents say ? You really wasted that much money ??? You have no knowledge of linux, you have no knowledge of unix!! You didn't see the first mac, you didn't evolve in the US - YOU have no right to buy a MAC ?? Do you see any other Indian student buying a mac? YOU are nuts!

Yep I was resoundingly disowned by the Indian student community. And yet, I didn't care! I was in love. And that was the first time I had fell in love with an inanimate object. Because somehow, this object wasn't inanimate. It wasn't just a piece of equipment sitting somewhere. Wherever it was kept, it stood out. It was different in the way light bounced off of it. It was different when you were using it. It looked years and ages ahead of all other computers in the store. And it was never about the actual configuration or computing power of the machine! This was my Mac. Let me repeat that - this was MY mac. I looked after it like a parent of a newborn. 

The media is awash now about the brilliance of Steve Jobs and complex analysis of what made Apple successful. But for me, all questions were answered in that first meeting with a Macbook. It was unspoken, subtle, deep, profound and almost an instant connection. Simply put - the Macbook had a soul! 

I still have that Macbook, I can't fathom selling it. I might give it to another family member to use. But I will always inquire and worry about how IT is being treated. Four years on - even now, if I accidentally bump my Mac on something, I rub the laptop where it hit and say sorry to my Mac!

And that is the best tribute anyone can pay to Steve Jobs!

- Sanket


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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mumbai beckons!!

In a couple of months now, I am going to be back in India. And it has taken me a long four and a half years to get to this trip. My close friends say, I have changed - and they are right. I have - in many ways large and small. India has changed too - in fact drastically so. From what I hear, the thing that hits hard is just how expensive things have become. That fact along with my extended family's illusion that everyone in the US is filthy rich just because they earn in dollars - has made me nervous to say the least. 

In the past whenever I have gone back home, I have done so to take a vacation and to recharge. Somehow, this trip feels different. No - I am not going to get A-range marriaged - and I am confident that once the hopefuls have figured out just how D-ranged I am - they too will adopt sanity and give up. No, the difference is that in this trip I have a lot on my mind and a lot of questions about my personal and professional life. As it has so many times before - I  am hoping the rocks of Marine Drive will answer my questions in salted whispers. 

I will be in Mumbai on Nov 26th. And I plan on visiting each and every one of the 10 places that were attacked three years ago. My friends tell me: "Don't make a big deal out of it" - perhaps they are right in their perspective. But for me that date will remain ingrained - it was the first time that I seriously questioned my belief in India. The events of those three days and the statements made by politicians - left me dazed and disillusioned. I had a thanksgiving break at the time - I had friends over, and other than sit helplessly in front of CNN, there wasn't much else we could do. It was then I realized that one of the most fundamental differences between the developed and the developing - is their value for human life. The contrast was stark and heartbreaking. And it changed something inside me forever. I was convinced that nothing will change the Indian political system and that at the end of the day - the ordinary citizen will remain the cheapest commodity. At the same time, it also crystallized a reality - that we have to try anyway. 

Let me admit here that I have no credentials to criticize how India works. And that isn't my intent either. And if you happen to resent my statements, I understand you.  I do not myself know what role can I, will I - play in shaping this country of my birth. Except that - my countrymen's judgements aside, I will hold on to this privilege and I can not wait to find out. There have been some that have given me hope. Among them is Parth - a sixteen year old scrappy kid - he has plunged head long into activism and protests - forming online forums and gathering friends to fight for the right causes. When I saw his optimism and zeal, to be honest, I didn't encourage it and in fact through my comments, I raised some pretty cynical and valid objections to his operandi. I am glad to admit - I was proven wrong. Despite popular belief - the youth of India understand their stake in the country and are anything but apathetic. 

And so when I go back home, I hope to meet this young man - and I hope he will be considerate enough to guide me. 

Also looming large in my mind is the question of marriage. After all, none less than five of my close friends are tying the knot this winter. But to be honest, the gravity of this decision and the weight of this institution seem overwhelming to me. In my experience of meeting people, making friends and falling in love - I have come to appreciate the infinite complexity of what makes us unique - of what defines our personalities. And I have no confidence in claiming to understand a person, despite prolonged acquaintance. To think that people tend to do so based on a one page profile boggles my mind. 

It was in Mumbai when I first came to understand love. It was in Mumbai that my vision of romance was nursed and nurtured through infinite movies and soulful music. It was Mumbai that patiently explained to me what holds India together. What drives every one of us.  That family playing on Juhu chawpati..... that couple stealing illusionary privacy. I hope the familiar waves of Arabian sea will explain this to me once more. And I hope they will help me reconcile a new and radically different vision of romance. 

I keep having these flashbacks - a vestige of the fun times I had in Mumbai as a college student. That friend circle is not only married now, but also has kids. In a depressing way - I know with some finality that my memory of what Mumbai meant will never recur again. Its for the best, you are meant to live in the present and shape your future, living in the past has never helped anyone. 

Either way in two months, I will land and buy myself a one month railway pass to CST, stand the door with the wind in my hair and hear what my beloved city has to say. 

- Sanket


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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

They say sometimes you have to be lost to find your way. I have stayed away from this place for a while now. And it has allowed me to look at ADifferentQuill from a distance. And I realized that in the thirst for being appreciated, I stopped doing on this site what I loved most - writing for the sake of writing itself. Writing became more a means to massage my ego than being happy. So in true spirit of the change, I am going to base this article on a completely unpretentious topic  - a movie review!

'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' by Zoya Akhtar was a rather surprise delight. For the first time in a long while, I left the theatre feeling happy and light. Comedy films entertain you for a bit, but the laughter dies down later on. Drama films, when good, get you to think about serious issues, but the strain is unsustainable for long periods of time - and you soon tend to put it out of your mind and move on. But this film is different. More than laugh, it makes you smile. And by the end just delivers a simple message - as if saying - "Hey You!, Smile you idiot - you are alive and breathing, be happy for that" And truly celebrates the act of simply being alive. 

The jokes are practical and down to earth. The kind of fun you can encounter in real life when you are hanging out with friends. The story is actually a snapshot of 3 lives for a week. Of three close friends meeting for a vacation. All of them are in some way occupied by their problems and baggages. But by the end of it, they realize that sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do to help yourself. The message is nuanced and I am not sure how well it might be received in main stream Indian audience. But the film is technically sound and should do very well none the less. 

The direction is simple, sometimes too simple but the photography is breath taking. The film aptly shows the coming of age for Bollywood and in some sense India itself. It has a global presence and theme to it. The shooting is on par with the best of the film industry. Larger than life when needed, it is still grounded enough to actually move you when intended. 

The music is exhilarating, fresh and alive in every beat. Guitar is to Spanish music what tabla is to Indian. And in this film, the songs are mostly guitar based. This gives them a simplicity and freshness that is the exact opposite of the audio palette of a semi-classical Indian song. The lyrics are beautiful and Javed Akhtar's poetry is sublime. 

I loved the cast, its youthful, uncomplicated and multinational. The kind of global citizens modern Indian youth would aspire to be. Hritik Roshan is subdued but ever present, he is too much of a star to be just a mere part of the story, Abhay Deol is pleasant and grows on you. But the real surprise is Farhan Akhtar - this is an actor who plays well within his own limits, and his rendition of the comedy is the most natural I have encountered on screen in a while. Katrina Kaif does her part well. It is impossible to ignore her when she is in the frame. And in some instances, you really do forget to follow the dialogues, the scenery and be simply in awe of how gorgeous she can be. 

The location of Spain has clearly paid off. And for the song of "Senorita" - which is partly spanish, adds beautiful authenticity to the play. You have to give it up for the music director's guts to let a song be in a foreign language - and trust it entirely to the rhythm for the audience to love it. The Senorita song demonstrates aptly the sensuality and pleasure that is inherent in Spain and its singers. 

It is a remarkable contrast to the Indian culture. Where often times, in favor of seeking spirituality, pleasure is looked down upon. The Spanish culture on the other hand celebrates pleasures and the people for wanting it. These are a people who are not afraid to ask for extra helpings of ice cream, a more toungy kiss, an extra night with a lover and have a society that won't fault them for wanting it. It makes their poetry extremely sensual and its honest expression, endearingly human. 

It complements the film beautifully in its message for asking people to celebrate life. Well - whats new about that ? True, we have heard these cliches for so long, we probably just tune them out by now. But there is something to it. A few years ago I became friends with a person who was genuinely happy. Not that there weren't any problems or sadness - but for the most part, this person was - happy. It got me thinking and I discovered the secret of happy people - they are truly able to live every moment. I know, I know ... what does that even mean - are we to stop our car every time we see a sunset or what .. 

Imagine that you are having a dinner party and are cooking for your friends. To indulge yourself, you are having a small cup of ice cream while cooking. And while chopping your veggies, you accidentally cut your finger. Most people will completely focus on the finger and the pain, its overwhelming and begs attention. The happy people I have found - can not only attend to the cut, but also savor the ice cream they were having in the first place. The thing is life seldom serves you ice creams on a plate with no distractions. And most of us when we think of happiness, want that unadulterated, undiluted and undisturbed experience of happiness. The trick is to savor a happy moment regardless of where it occurs. So if you enjoy rain, enjoy rain even when its because you have a flat tire and you are forced to stand on the road. And the people we find are most happy - are the people who are better at this. 

They don't lie to themselves or ignore their problems, but they don't trash the good things thoughtlessly either. And there lies the message of the film, so go out and see it and enjoy it. Go for a run, an evening walk, sit by the sea or like in my case, just get over yourself and write! 


 - Sanket


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The flowers have withered,
And their scent is past
The evenings once spirited and bright
Are now shadowed and overcast
Meet me soon, Alas just like them
My smile too is lost ...

 - Sanket


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Friday, March 04, 2011


तपती रेत पर चलते कोसो दूर आ गए है 
मंजिल तोह दूर अब घर भी भूल चुके 
इस बेरेहेम सफ़र पर हम खुद सिफार हुए है 
लेकिन कोई कसक है ओढ़े हुए 
शायद मिल जाये एक तालाब, काबिल ऐ प्यास 
और उस ही के दर्पन मे तुम्हारी एक झलक भी

- संकेत 


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Moment of truth

This conversation we began
I know not where 'd we start
Threads of thought forked in-numerous
Broke down walls 
And we talked.
Through evenings and nights and hours unheard
Through tears and anger and ecstasies untold 

'Til now that we stand in this net
And wherever I see,
Are tracks of our footsteps
I cant imagine how I travelled alone.
The footsteps are etched,
As tough carved in stone.

They reassure and yet, terrify
For I fear, the winds I once loved
Could erase our marks forever.
Or that you might walk away
And leave my heart severed

We've morphed our likes
To suit one another
And now they are so changed,
Even wanting we can not avert

Alas my friend,
It is the moment of truth
And I have to ask,
Shall we trudge snow and sand
And climb and fall together ?

Or shall you now let go,
And into this earth
Should I disappear ?

- Sanket


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Monday, January 24, 2011

Floating Visions

The earth is soft and cool beneath, 
I can feel the blades of grass
Gently pressed under me, 
Green, young and slightly moist
 Still yet breathing

And I see shifting shadows through closed lids 
Playing - capering - laughing 
As I nestle my head deeper in her lap
Treasuring and preserving
The warmth under my hair

I follow the act and listen to the shadows 
I can hear the merry and begin to smile
A shy, scented drop awakens my skin
And I open my eyes to hold her face
Words elude and sounds fade off
As I marvel a new meaning to beauty

I drink with thirsty eyes
The oval that is my world
Circled lovingly in dark flowing hair
Velvet like silk and soft as silence
Coy and demure

I drink with thirsty eyes
The delicate curve of her neck
Just within reach and yet not
The contours, sensuous and tempting
I nestle my head and smile back

I see myself reflected
In liquid pools of light
See myself anew
Alive and well
Through her eyes

I trace the exquisite lips
Longing their flavor 
Craving through parch 
I want to lift myself
But the warmth lets not

Oh it is such a strife
Painful yet nurturing
An impish pleasure
A sight devine

I drink with thirsty eyes
And I beg life
If this is a dream
Don't wake me up just yet

- Sanket


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Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Spring Memory

It was the fifth of December 2005 and I was flying into the Salt Lake City international airport. It was a cold, dreary afternoon and the next 2 months would come to mark a most crucial and extraordinary time of my life.  There are moments that everyone experiences – moments of realization and clarity – rare to come by but instantly recognizable.  As the airplane touched the tarmac, I knew I was having one of those moments – and it terrified me.  I realized that everyone connected to me – my parents, friends – had done all that they could, to get me to this point – and from here on it was up to me - I was alone – truly and completely alone. It was the first time, I’d felt myself so vulnerable and scared. 

After failing to secure tuition funding for the first two semesters at my University, I had accrued a massive debt and when it was clear to me that no financial help was to come, I decided it was time for me to look elsewhere.  I looked at the list of universities that had accepted me, but which I had declined.  Long conversations with alumni and emails from faculty led me to believe that Utah State University was my best shot at short-term financial security. Like many decisions in life, it was one that wasn’t necessarily the best option – but the one that made most sense under circumstances. I had to live with it – and make my best of it.

The struggles and debates of the past six months played out in my mind as I sat in the window seat – peering distractedly at the changing landscape of eastern United States.  To sum up – I had roughly $500 in a bank account and an admission – period.  My list of supplies ended there.  I didn’t have any money to pay for tuition (9 graduate credits minimum) – hardly any money for rent and certainly none for an emergency.  My phone was still active for another month and the 500 would get me through for as much time – as I checked off the short list with a growing sense of foreboding, I felt like a role playing video game character with depleted resources and one life left. Except, there weren’t any replays here.  The frigid teen degree air of Utah brought me back to reality. Having grown up in Mumbai – it was the first time I had felt anything remotely so cold.  I cursed my ill-fitted clothing and rummaged hastily through the carry-on – wearing every piece of shirt I could find.  Twenty minutes later, I was standing outside in the pick up area – awkward looking and with a frozen expression of worry on my countenance.

Utah State University - My Alma Mater - image credit -

I checked myself into a friends place – the local Indian Student Institute was kind enough to board me for a week with some seniors – after an unexciting dinner, I forced myself to sleep – then I woke up – took off 3 shirts – turned up the heat a notch – and went back to sleep again.  There was a LOT of work ahead!

The next day, I took a bus to the campus and within an hour was interviewing for a grader’s job in the Computer Science department.  I got the job, it paid only $513 a month, but it waived my out of state tuition fee.  I thanked the professor dearly and asked the secretary for a signed copy of the job offer and its terms.  Next I scanned the student message board for some cheap apartments near campus and another three hours later found myself in the offices of Coldwell bankers signing a lease agreement. I put down the deposit and consciously informed the official that I could only give him a post-dated check for the rent.  My grader’s salary wasn’t due until the first of next month and I could only supply the offer letter as credence that the check would go through.  The property manager quietly reviewed the paper work and my offer letter – he had no obligation to entertain me – and I nervously waited for his decision.  Finally, looking up he extended a hand and gave me the apartment keys. I gingerly pocketed the keys and thanked the man – and offered my bank statement as proof that I really could not afford to pay rent immediately.  He assured me that it wasn’t needed and that he believed me. It would be one of the many unexpected acts of kindness from random strangers that I would never forget.

Snowcrest Apartments - Logan Utah

I arranged my belongings in the new space, and ate a bowl of cereal – after a few more minutes of sleep – I sat at the desk and jotted down a study schedule – to earn the tuition waiver and retain my status as a graduate student, I would need to clear three entrance examinations – failure to do so meant expulsion.  But I wasn’t going to let it come to that – not now. 

Over the next four weeks, I followed a strict regimen – waking up at 8am – going to the library  - studying for 4 hours – a sandwich for lunch – an hour of shut eye on the third floor – another four hours of study – coffee – sandwich for dinner – leave the library at 12 and walk back home to sleep.  No – they wouldn’t let me sleep at the library. I had asked. 

It would be months before I would be able to absorb and truly appreciate the grand vista of natural beauty and snow capped mountains that my library provided. Amidst my studies I talked to the registrars office and drew up a payment schedule for the remainder of my in-state tuition fees.  Again my University went out of its way to ensure that I still stayed enrolled in classes as I paid my way through - there aren't many institutions willing to do that. 

Some six weeks into my semester,  I was told that I had cleared the preliminary requirements and that I was also granted an in-state tuition waiver.  I received the news gladly – then went to the local Walmart – bought some groceries and came back home.  I left the bags on the kitchen counter – the apartment was empty – none of my two roommates were home.  Seizing the opportunity – I quietly slipped into the bathroom and turned on the sink and the shower taps. 

Then I sat myself on the bathroom floor – knees to the chest  - arms folded and said aloud – ‘hey – you are in your own apartment – you have groceries  - you have a steady income and you are doing well in school’ – and then I let myself feel – everything that I had been holding off – the terrifying crushing paralyzing fear – the full weight of my responsibilities – my own expectations – and the doubts of friends and foes – and above all – the overwhelming sense of relief at what was accomplished – and then I broke down – and cried quietly – cathartically – shaking – muffling – rocking back and forth – and then - finally exhausted and completely drained – I patted myself on the back – stood up – and made myself 2 scrambled eggs and toast.

Some couple years later, I ran wild across a green football ground – dressed in black robes – a tassel in my hand and the ecstasy of graduation in my veins – but I didn’t think of the bathroom floor then.  I don’t know why I thought of  it now. But its good that I did– it needn't kept in – I am OK now that its out. And I smile I say to myself – “Hey that was you – you did it !!“

- Sanket


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