Monday, February 9, 2009

My Tryst With Education - Final Part

I realised something “The tryst with education” parts come to me only when I have a very crucial exam the next day. Its as if even my fate doesn’t want me to study. Anyway jokes apart as my last mid term examination in XIMB has finally approached I realized I have reached the “lasts” of not only my education life but of XIMB too. I would soon be going through all the “lasts” over here. I am already in my last month in campus. Tomorrow I would be giving my last midterm. Soon it would be time for the last end terms and final bills to be paid at mess, x-cafe etc. These are small things which you forget but what you would always remember are the last time you danced away to the tunes of some crazy songs played by C or 25 late in the night. You would remember when you step out of your room for the last time and look back at the empty room filled with memories but you wouldn't remember the last time a bunch of people crowded in your room and had fun. You would remember the last time you would have to attend one of the sinfully boring classes and jolly well celebrate it. You would remember the last time you got high and acted stupid but you wouldn’t remember the last time you ordered for something in the mess and then cribbed about the food and the service. You wouldn’t remember the last time you sat on the culvert or the stairs just for some chitchat. You wouldn’t remember the last time you sat in the mess and enjoyed and cheered for a game on TV. Hell! you wouldn’t remember the last JHABIER walk(if any) that you had. But you will always remember those people you went for these walks with.


Just as I think about all these lasts they take me back to beginning of it all. I would say it all began on Orkut. If you have been through any b-school then the first most important thing to do is look for a community of your batch on Orkut. Ironically the person who always starts this group never ends up joining coz he/she goes for greener pastures. So as soon as I got through XIMB I also joined one of these communities. These communities discuss everything- and by everything I really mean everything. Right from discussing about placements to what food is available in the mess –you will find long forum discussions and debates on them. I wouldn’t have been shocked if people started discussing the color of their “convo” robe. You all have already formed a bond. You are apprehensive and excited about the next two years.


Finally you reach campus and start giving faces to the names you have been seeing and chatting with for the last few months. In my case I was a bit apprehensive whether I would make good friends in campus or not since I wasn’t from the common engineering background and being a fresher (yes guys I know it sounds preposterous) I had talked about this with my mom who thought she should take matters in her hands for her little girl. She went out of her way to talk to a few of my classmates in the bank(where we roam around for the thing called loan) and actually tried to introduce me to a few of them just so that she can help her timid little introvert daughter make friends. Hey!! Not my fault that my mom has got me all wrong.


Slowly we move into the first term. The beginning of all firsts. First class, first “Interaction” sessions, first party, first quiz and then first exam. It all came and went away at the blink of an eye. One of the few things I remembered is the first time I had a presentation in this college. I had two of them in one day. Being the true XIMBians that we were JIT was our mantra. But I do remember how all our group members had actually spent a sleepless night rehearsing for our presentations. Now when I look at us in Term VI, I can’t help but notice the stark difference. We present even if we don’t know what is there in the slides. We confidently read out the slides as if we have done a Phd on the topic when on many occasions we hear it for the first time right before our presentations. We even manage to sleep in between the presentation if it goes beyond us. And boy the way we tackle questions (even if they have been confidently planted) is just awe-inspiring. I guess that’s what two years in XIMB does to you. You are confident to handle any topic on earth and given a chance you can always link it to any strategy anywhere.


Our first mega event in college – Xpressions. You wouldn’t know the magnanimity of it unless you see it. It teaches you what no classroom can teach you. It teaches you how to manage without sleep for 3-4 days in a row. It teaches you how to slog it off in the day time and even then manage to party all night in the JLTs. In true sense it is work hard and party harder. At this point the studies take a back seat and your grades hit the recession but you are not bothered coz you are busy designing a game which would kick b***s of other b-schoolers. You learn how to manage good sleep in classrooms and it is then that your real creativity in sleeping tactics comes out in open. If you have managed to survive an entire class without getting caught you are the talk of the day. Needless to say after the event ends things get back to normal. But there are somethings that still remain – your ability to stay awake all night and then your courage to sleep in the class right under the proff’s nose.


Our only practical teaching in a B-school – the 4 Ps you need to see and survive to come out of it all alive. People, Positions, Power and finally the bond between the three Politics.  Well I can safely say been there, seen it and even done it. And by God’s grace survived them unscathed. You wouldn’t remember the last of your batchmeets’ that you might have but you would always remember the once where you stood united to face opposition or your fears. You would always remember those batchmeets were you decided to be one or meets were you parted as sworn enemies.


Slowly without realizing the time has passed by and your first year in college has somehow come to an end. You don’t realize it and during your summer internship you start cribbing for the things you cribbed about in campus. Those two months aren’t there to teach you anything about corporate life. They are just there to make you realize what you had for the last one year and how it was nothing less than heaven. You start missing it all  - the midnight mess, the stairs, your hostel room doesn’t seem so small to you anymore and especially you miss the fact that you cant see those familiar faces you had so got used to seeing for the last few months.


Once you are back in campus you are all rearing to go. You have new hopes for yourselves like. “This time I am going to study, since I wouldn’t have to study those core papers which I hated last year. I have the choice of electives this time and I am going to make the best use of it.”  Within first two weeks you have realized half of your papers are a mistake and that becomes a reason enough for you to replace your studying plans with  CS, NFS and XSYS(strictly for movies and serials). You have found a new thing to crib about in your second year – the electives. So you do it to your heart’s fullest and swear by all the lords that you would select papers smartly next term. Irony of course that the next term you keep looking for never comes.

And as the curtain has started falling on our show in XIMB I realized a few things. I would never again have 60 odd people accompanying me to the theatre. I would never see a bunch of crazy people fighting for something they felt passionately about. I will never again be called PGP -1s or PGP- 2s.I will never see those status messages like “Food from home on share @....”and I will never again be able to decode status messages poking fun or insulting people. I will not get the chance to open my stu mail and see batch mails making fun of people or discussing serious issues. Though my midnight binge for food would be answered but my wish for a late night gossip would be left unattained.

Lastly, I realized how important it was for us to always enter the mess or walk by the hostel/ acad block corridors and see a known face smiling back at us. I realized I would never find a place as big as this and call it my home. The song from the old TV series Cheers come back to my mind now,

Sometimes you want to go 
Where everybody knows your name, 
And they're always glad you came; 
You want to be where you can see, 
Your troubles are all the same; 
You want to be where everybody knows your name. 

Thanks to all my friends who made my two years over here the most memorable ones ever.




Sunday, January 25, 2009

Images of Life

Recently I saw a few of my classmates in another course had some project work involving chart papers. The curious side of me wanted to see what they had done. The first person who showed me his chart was B. They had to draw pictures on the chart to depict their entire life till December’08. It was very interesting how he remembered the address of his first quarter, how he came last in a race but still stood first, his commitment to his GF, his first bike. I liked the idea a lot and so I moved on to see a few more. These folks had to also name their charts. S called it Different Strokes whereas 25 called it “Chitrajeet”(forgive me 25 if there should have been a hyphen between the two words)

This made me think what if I had also decided to spend Rs 500/class for this drama. What would I have drawn and named it? I couldn’t think of a name for this chart. So I moved on to think of the pictures that I would have made in the chart. There are things that I remember and there are things that I have been told about my childhood. The memory just forms Siamese twins of these two.

I would have first drawn how I got to get my name. When my mom was expecting me she was reading a novel where the lead protagonist was named Parna. That kind of took place in my mom’s heart and when I was born and my grandma named me Rituparna my mom was happy coz she thought my friends would shorten and in future I would be called Parna. It’s a different thing all together that no one in my entire life has ever called me that. But somehow I imagine my mom at 26 reading a big Bengali novel, and then I somehow picture her thinking about her still unborn daughter and calling her Parna. I consider it as my first bonding with her. Though I didn’t see it my imagination doesn’t stop me from picturing it.

Then I would have drawn a picture of a childhood photograph of mine. There’s a snap where I am probably a few months old and my dad is wearing a white kurta. He has lifted me high up and is flashing one of those rare smiles of his at me and I am still giving my toothy grin there without my teeth of course. I remember this snap out of all others cause that’s the only snap where I am in my dad’s arms and we both are oblivious to the picture being taken. I would rather say we were oblivious to the entire world. That snap has always made me feel secure. I feel that must have been the happiest moment in my life till date.

Next I would have drawn leaving the city of Burnpur and moving to Rourkela at the age of three. I remember a few things vividly like my neighboring aunties and my mom crying their heart out. It marked the beginning of a new life for all four of us and I believe it was the best thing that had ever happened to us.

I then would have drawn a picture of a very common thing – My first school. The image would have been a big cream building with CARMEL SCHOOL written in red on the top and a Mother Mary statue in the entrance. The 12 years of life cant be drawn in a small chart. The picture would have represented a lot of things – my first friend, my first best friend, my first crush, my first quarrel, my first break-up with a friend, my first adult fight, It would represent most of “my firsts” in my life.

The next picture is of me sitting in a bus and crying with my mom and dad beside me. D has a new life starting for him. He had moved to his hostel and we are returning back home. That was our first journey as three of us. It marked the end of our childhood. I somehow kept playing the song “Phoolon ka taaron ka” in my head I remember. And the last line “Saari umar hume sang rehna hai” would always bring tears to my eyes. And I don’t know why but it still does.

I would then draw a picture of my first scooty which I got in Std. XI. It marked the beginning of my approaching adulthood. It gave me a taste of what adulthood would really be like. I guess it gives you the freedom to go anywhere you want but it also comes with responsibility and accountability. And most importantly you loose out on the security that you had till then. But it also said that no matter how late you are and any wrong path you take somehow all roads always lead back home.

The next picture shows me sitting on a bed with my mom and we both are crying and my dad is standing near the window shedding silent tears. I am in Pune and this time the train would only take two people back home.

The next picture I would draw was that of my nainihal.  The first place I came to after I was born. The place I called my home after the one where I lived with my parents. I had made better friends in this small place than I had made in Rourkela itself. The people who looked forward to see me once every year, who remembered everything about me in spite of being out of touch with them for an entire year. But most importantly it’s a place where I saw my grandfather retire, my grandmother crying over her mother’s death, I saw them jubilate their son’s wedding and the birth of their grandchildren. It’s a place where I saw my grandparents growing old so gracefully. The house which was not just perfect location wise (as my grandfather would so painstakingly explain it to anyone who questions it) but it was a perfect home too. As they finally moved out of the place and shifted to Kolkata it hurt. Change, people say is good, maybe this one was too. As they say when you grow older you learn to let go of things, things which don’t fit, things which are of no use to you anymore. But it hurts the most when you let go of something which was none of them. I guess I learnt to let go, maybe not gracefully but I did. I don’t wish to buy the house in future anymore coz I learnt, it’s not the houses which make it home it’s the people and their memories which do. 

After this I would draw a picture of a girl and a boy sitting in Bamboo house with the guy trying to propose in a very matter-of-fact manner after having a glass of beer. When the girl gives her consent the guy gulps down some more beer and says, “So we officially start going around now.”

I would then draw a picture of A and I sitting in a bus stand on a dusty Sunday afternoon waiting for his bus which would take him away from Pune forever. We knew our lives would change from that moment onwards. We would now have two different lives. Our hopes, fearsand despair was written on our faces and all around us. A lot of things changed but we fortunately just grew up. 

I would then draw the picture of the entrance to XIMB, No other picture can define this phase of my life better. It has so many emotions involved that it is very difficult to list them down. It not just gave me lessons of life but it also gave me friends for life. And of course how can XIMB be complete without my pseudo name given to me. The picture would have the word KAKI written in big. I guess it defines me as a person perfectly.  

At the end of all this finally a name struck me for the chart – Images of Life. I guess it is perfect this way. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My tryst with education Part - III

The three most indelible years of my life I had spent in “Aamchi Pune.” My story to reach Pune was learning in itself. Like many other student by the beginning  of my final year in school I was undecided about my future. One fine day I woke up and realized I wanted to be a lawyer. My mom was delirious with joy that her aimless daughter had finally found something she wanted to do in life.  Within a week she had completed all possible research she could on history of lawyers and the law profession. She had her literature review intact from newspapers and articles. She had selected a sample space of lawyers in the family (friends of family and the network keeps growing in geometric progression), law students and prospective law students in Rourkela and Asansol (my nainihal as they call it) Well that’s how I came across A (both A and my mom have each other to blame for this!!)She even had my long term and short term goals as a lawyer in mind. But me being me had lost interest in it within a few months and had decided it wasn’t an “in” thing for me anymore. In order to avoid any volcanic eruption at home I had taken to preparing for law and even sat for the entrance tests.

I couldn’t make through any of the law schools and my mom was more disappointed than I was. By then I had already decided that I would go ahead pursuing a career in commerce and follow it with mass communication (MBA was nowhere in picture since my bro was doing it. Oh! In case you didn’t know I had a rule “Not to follow his footsteps”).

Amongst all this the word Pune had taken a place in my heart (to clarify: I hadn’t met/seen/talked to A till then). My brother who snobbishly considers himself a few years wiser to me believed that I should pursue my graduation in Calcutta and not in the “wild wild west.”  With the intention of rebelling till my last breathe I had finally succeeded in reaching my personalized “city of joy.” This is how my journey to the beautiful place had begun. A place where I had spent three most beautiful years of my life. In a friend’s term my three years of paid holiday had begun J

 What I learnt from all this? Well you move in life as your destiny takes you. I could have been slogging in a law school for my placements right now. But destiny had it that I should do the same thing in a far flung city called Bhubhaneswar for a job in HR. Even my meeting with A was part of this destiny. If I wouldn’t have thought of law our paths wouldn’t have crossed.

My education in college can be rounded off in one word itself – Zilch. My learning was more from the people around me and the activities I was involved in. Studying in the humanities course I had of course come across all kinds of weirdoes possible in college. I had seen all body tattoos and piercing a human being can survive to show. I met people from various nationalities especially from Bangladesh and Iran. I learnt quite a lot from these people but that wasn’t it. My learning was more from the world I had outside my college.

It was the first time I was staying away from home. Other than learning the logistics part of living alone I learnt a lot about life and people. I found friends. I loved and hated them. I bitched about them and helped them when they needed me. I learnt how to like people in spite of their faults. But I learnt something from each of them and somehow I also rediscovered myself.

H, my roommate for three years and now in her final year in law was a case in her own self. A typical north Indian girl who believed it was her prerogative to have an opinion about everything on earth. She was the perfect lawyer a person could meet. No one ever won an argument with her. She perfectly fits the terms “Chant chatur” but then she was fun like that. Her bitching was fun to listen as long as you weren’t on the receiving end. I also got my mimicry skills from her.

A, another roommate (it’s the girl AJ ) was a person who was matured enough to be called a lady but had a heart of a little girl. I learnt from her to take life as it comes and always greet it with a smile.

M was a dreamy eyed girl from a small town in Maharashtra. If it was possible she would have spent all her life sleeping, reading books and watching movies. She followed her dreams always and I wish I could have been the same. I always envied her peace and tranquility. Another M from Kerela was a perfect daughter to her parents.  I wish I could become half as disciplined as her in life.

N and K were two sides of a coin. N attended college everyday, a topper and an apple of professor’s eyes. K on the other had registered herself in college to get a degree and made a conscious effort not to gain anything which was remotely related to studies.  They both gave stability and balance to my life like never before.

Lastly, my life in Pune doesn’t end (or wasn’t worth mentioning in the first place) without talking about A. The journey from a name my mom always mentioned when she talked about law, slowly becoming a name in my phonebook then promoted to the post of local guardian (Ripley’s believe it or not !!!) and then to finally become a friend and partner for life has had its own charms. He was everything I have dreamt of and a lot more. At times I wonder if we hadn't met what would life have been like and I fail to imagine it. Right from the first date we went on that rainy evening to the last day he left for Delhi---each moment has been perfect in its own sweet way. What I learnt from him cannot be put in  words. He showed me my vices and made me a better person. He is my "better half". The learning with him never ends and I hope it never does. 


To be continued…(the final part would come soon)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My tryst with education Part - II

I move on to my school where I have spent 12 years of my life. To put 12 years of learning in one post would be a mammoth task. So I would select a few indelible incidents and funny anecdotes of my school life. I would like to mention that I studied in an all girls’ convent school.

I come from a traditional middle class Bengali family where we eat, drink and live studies. My mom especially made it a point that I studied everyday. One of the first incidents I remember is when I was in Std. I. So this is the morning before my maths exam. She tells me, “Write all the answers in the question paper and bring like your brother does.” I, of course being the rebel that I am, decided it is against my birthright to do what he does. My mom who is by then crestfallen to see the unmarked question paper finally decides to make do the best of the situation she can. So for the next one hour we sit and discuss the question paper as if it is the peace treaty between India and Pakistan. Result: All my procedures were right and I would get above 90 in maths. My mom is happy and so am I.

Fast forward to the report card and PTM day. The report card is handed over to my mom. OK 80, 75, 72....66 …..66 ???? which subject is that. It turns out its MATHEMATICS ( god I hate this word) Mom by then has lost her voice and somehow managed to ask the teacher how did I get so low when at home I had got them all correct. My teacher, who apparently hadn’t done enough harm to my well being till then added in a melancholic voice, “She had got all the procedures right but she committed a lot of silly mistakes.” Oh boy!!! I am so dead. I don’t remember mom telling me anything after that but it seemed my house was that of a mourning one. If we had a flag at home it would have definitely been put on half mast.

My learning never again in my life have I discussed the question paper with mom. On a broader perspective I didn’t discuss it with anyone and I still don’t. I don’t expect much and I don’t believe how my paper went unless I see my marks. If I could get philosophical I would say I have learnt life has its unexpected twists n turns(even if you are responsible for it) and its better if you don’t expect anything.

Slowly as I grew up I realized my marks had a proportionate relationship with my mom’s behavior for that entire evening. My dad’s reaction would always be the constant factor in it. He always said,” It doesn’t matter how much you get. If you pass or fail the sun would still rise tomorrow.” Well I would say in my mind, “DUH!!! I know it, please tell mom that.” With my mom it was like there was an entire chart drawn. 90 –exhilarated, 80 –happy, 70 – OK. But what’s the highest? 60 – A straight face with no emotions. 50 to 40 – Oh boy! I am a dead meat today. She would bang down my food not look at me for the next few hours. On those days I would sit to study at dot 6 PM and even make it a point to wake up early the next morning to study for sometime before I went to school. It definitely doesn’t help if you have the world’s best mamma’s boy as your brother. Man the guy ate drank and slept studies. But I am proud I successfully managed to get through it.

Now I move on to the non studies part of my education life. My first learning was from my rickshaw wala. For the first 6 years of my school life I commuted to school in a cycle rickshaw with 4-5 other girls. If anyone has read the story “Whitewashing the fence” from “The adventures of Tom Sawyer” would be able to draw the similarities in the story. So my rickshaw wala like Tom would try to lure us, “Let me see if you kids can run faster than this rickshaw does.” We all would gleefully get down from the rickshaw and run half the distance to my home in order to taste the sweet nectar of success. Point here is he didn’t have to drag a rickshaw full of small kids and we won against his rickshaw every time. It never occurred to our innocent heads that he would do it deliberately. Recently when I saw a bunch of kids doing the same thing I realized how intelligent and conniving these rickshaw walas are. The above story mentioned had a few lines which said, “He (TOM) had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, that in order to make a man or boys covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain....Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement.”

My rickshaw wala who I am damn sure hadn’t read this story used it to his fullest in his daily life. And I guess for me it was one of my first learning in HR J

When I was in Std. IV Miss Jana had taught us that we should never use foul language or swear words. Using foul language is like vomiting and therefore if we ever  do use words like Shut up, idiot then we should wash our mouth immediately after that. Needless to say we practiced it religiously for the first few weeks. Our days in school were spent between classes and the wash basin. It is somehow lost now since there are people to testify that I use them. But whenever I do, I go back to that sunny afternoon to a sinfully boring moral science class were I was given this invaluable learning.  

There are so many other incidents that I find it difficult to choose between them. Probably I would write about them in some other post. For the time being let this be my learning in school. Next would be my learning from my college life.


To be continued ….(I have two exams tomorrow )

My tryst with education Part - I

As my penultimate term comes to an end I have realized that my not-so-good rendezvous with education is coming to an end. Just one more term and then I will be done with education once and for all. I would be lying if I say I will miss studying or giving examinations because honestly I suck in both. I have always hung between the tag of an average and a good student. I have also had the opportunity to be among the bottom or the tail-enders for a few years. I don’t want to do post mortem on why and what of my grades at each level. I know I have picked up something special at every point  and those are the learning’s of my life.

My tryst with education began with Mrs. Kapoor. Honestly, I don’t remember her or her beautiful bungalow where I spent the first few months of my precious education life. There are a few things which are still there in my mind and I at times wonder if they were real or just figments of my imagination. I remember that one bright afternoon Mrs Kapoor had left a bunch of us in the sun kissed verandah of her house with some toys to play with. I don’t remember the other kids but I do remember Lincoln. At this juncture I need to clarify a few things to the reader that what you see me now is not what I was back then. I was an underweight (there’s nothing to laugh on this ---life does play its own jokes with people) and a very timid person (ya! on this you can laugh away all you want). On the other hand Lincoln (my friend or that’s what I thought till that day) who was an overweight next door neighbor of mine was a bully. Now Lincoln who already had a physical advantage over me decided to tear apart the one doll I was playing with. I remember mourning over the beheaded doll for an hour with Lincoln staring at me with a smirk on his face. That day I learnt that the “darker” species of human race are jerks (no offences meant). Life moved on and of course I changed my opinion but I remember this incident because that was the first time I had an opinion about something. That was the first time I felt helpless in my life. As far as Lincoln is concerned I never talked to him after that and last I heard of him is that he is a medical student now.

We moved to a new city and a new school. The name itself was very cute –Arya Wonderland. Here again I remember things very vaguely. I was still thin and timid. (Have pity guys I have just moved to a new place)The only language I ever understood and spoke till then was Bengali. My first day at the school was with a blue bag or jhola which had my name stitched on it. By the first one hour in school I had realized my parents didn’t love me and they had abandoned me to a new planet where people didn’t speak the same language as I did. I still remember my fear and apprehension as a little kid who didn’t speak the same language as the other kids. By lunch time I had a sick feeling in my stomach and I had taken a silent oath that I would never forgive my parents for making me go through this kind of public humiliation. I don’t know how I managed to survive the whole day. But I remember when I saw my mom after school I had hugged her very tightly as if my entire life depended on it. And I remember that with an angelic smile and some soothing words she had made me feel good again. I didn’t understand the significance of the incident then but now when I look back at it, I believe it had a very important message for me. I have to face my life’s tribulations all alone. But I know at the end of the day I would still have my mom smiling and hugging me tightly. And that makes it easier to face these troubles.


To be continued….(I have an exam tomorrow for Christ sakes )

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers; the next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul....