Archive for November, 2012

Skeletons in #win’s closet

Posted on November 3, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I find myself intrigued by the smallest nitty-gritties of #win’s life before I knew him. I was once asking him various details about his school life, What would you do if your Mom did not come to pick you up on time? Which subjects did you like? Did you ever forget your homework? Turns out #win was the guy, whom I hated in childhood, though I did not know him then. He was the guy – that model guy – whom your parents wanted, but instead were stuck with you.

Me: So did you ever get punished in school?
#win: Umm, never. I was always the teacher’s favorite.
Me: Never :O? How’s that possible?
#win: (Taken aback. Seeing his wife for the first time) Well have you been punished?
Me: O yea. Of course, loads of times.
#win: For what?
Me: (Counting on fingers) well mostly talking/giggling in class, not doing in homework, long nails ..

Me: Have you taken all those 10565(#win’s favorite ‘random’ number) competitive exams? Scholarship, Pravinya?
#win: Ya totally.
Me: Wasn’t it a bummer? Sitting and reading during summer vacation, not that I ever studied ..
#win: Well not really! I’d anyways have been studying.

Me: Hey tell me, how do I motivate my younger sibling to study? How’d you motivate yourself to study?
#win: Never had to motivate myself. I loved studying.

#win is the success story of the Indian education system. He had flawless marks almost all throughout, got MS from a great US university, got a great job in Microsoft, left it since it bored him and now is enrolled in Phd, looking forward to a great academic/research career.

My academic story is checkered in the conventional sense. There are some moments of shining glory but there are some moments that I am not proud about at all. There were times when the expectations saddled on me were so high, and my opinion of myself so low, that I have totally wilted under the pressure. I had often thought that maybe I am not cut out for studying. I know better now. I too love studying now when I do not “have to” study, I am glued to Wikipedia learning about World War II and the history of medieval Europe. I am the nerd who loves going to museums and reading each and every note there is to read. I rifled through an old computer networks book (which I had hated in college) and found that I loved it. I realized that I was and still am ‘a free spirit’. I never liked studies under the expectations of parents and teachers and thus I did poorly as expected. Until recently, I counted myself a failure, probably even a victim, of the Indian Education System.

Now I am in the US, and have studied in their education system for a brief 2 years. I interact everyday with my mostly American colleagues and see that there are some pros in their education system that I admire. In their childhood, my colleagues did interesting projects – How can you make an egg fall from the first floor and not make it break? Many of them are athletic and have skied,  swum and rock-climbed since their childhood. However, some of my colleagues do not even have a college education (sometimes they do not have even a high-school diploma), but are self taught programmers and linux engineers. The beginning of their career was probably at a McDonalds or a Burger King. I admire their enterprise and self-starting nature. Once, my colleague confessed to me – I wish I had gone to high school, college and become an engineer. I regret not having done that. I asked him, Why did you drop out in the first place? He said, “Well Math was too hard at the time. No one in my family was an engineer, they all felt a college education is a waste of time and money. I wish I had been born in India or China”

I realized that the grass is greener on the other side and no system is perfect. What I think I am going to do next, is exorcise all the demons of my 12th std marks or failure to clear an entrance. I hope to define the parameters of success that best suit me and hope to achieve success someday. In the meanwhile, let me find out what other dark secrets #win is hiding in his closet, that will act as fodder for my next blog post.

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