Paying back my friends

Living in a hostel taught me quite a few things, and lead to some memorable incidents. It is one thing to have people as friends, but yet another to live with them. When you spend enough time living in the immediate presence of someone else, you get to see different shades of them you normally cannot. In the same manner, when you have some highs or lows in your life, you get to see a different part of people in the manner to which they react to your situation.

Hostel usually involved commuting weekly. We would leave from the college on Friday or Saturday to reach home by dinner time, and spend the rest of the weekend at home. Depending on which schedule our lectures were, we would leave back for hostel on Sunday evening or early Monday morning. This happened on one such Sunday evening when a bunch of us were heading back to the hostel. The evening commute train came in, and instead of patiently waiting for it stop and the passengers to get off, I ran along with the coach. Keeping pace with the door, I threw my bag in and slowed down as people started to get off. Moments later when I got on to the train with a grin, I found that my bag was not there. Someone had taken it with themselves.

After trying to search the train, and running around on the platform, I came to accept that my stuff was stolen. The loss of the bag in itself wasn’t that hurtful as that of its contents. Two of my favorite sets of clothes were in it, along with 700 INR. At that point, 700 INR was a BIG Deal for me. It meant nearly a month’s food. There was no point in waiting at the station, and I left with my friends in the train. I lodged a police complaint at the railway police station after getting down at my station and went to the hostel with my friends. I didn’t do anything that night, at once falling asleep on reaching my room.

700 INR meant a lot of things. First it was nearly the amount I would have spent on eating dinner for an entire month. I used up some of the allowances I had saved up to buy new underwear and socks. I had some of them in the bag as well. I didn’t even feel like asking mom for money (for it was no fault of hers), and planned on how little I would have to spend on eating, or what my new dinner options would be. In hindsight, all of it seems a very stupid thing to do. Nobody gets on a train like that, but that wasn’t something that I could take back.

The next day two of my friends offered me close to 500 INR so that I wouldn’t skimp out on my meals.  I was too proud to ask any one for the money, on account of how I had lost it. They simply told me to give it back to them a month or so later when I would be in a better position to do so. I almost cried when I had dinner that night.

In the same week, we found out that there would be an inter college technical fest and competition at a college in Ahmedabad. Being organized by one of the most reputed colleges of the state, many people wanted to attend it. It had events that I was looking to take part in, but being short on cash (the sign up cost was 500 INR), I just walked back from their kiosk in our college atrium. Another friend asked me about it and I told him about not signing up for it. As if my luck in good friends wasn’t run out, he quietly offered to pay my amount, while he himself wasn’t attending himself.

Later that month, when I did participate in some of the competitions, I managed to get an unexpected 2nd place with a cash prize enough to pay back all of the friends who had helped me out in my time of need.

Inspired by Housing.com about a memorable time my friends gave me the strength to go on with optimism.

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Starting a new life after school

There have been some very educational changes in my life. It would be false to say that I had full control over the circumstances that lead to these changes. While the changes that I couldn’t control taught me loads, I will tell you about two changes that I did have control. Changes that I chose and executed, while in themselves seem to be something very normal/common place but hold great value as to how I had to start a new life on their account.

The first change that I want to talk about is college. I had an option between two colleges. One in my hometown where I was pursuing my Bachelor’s in Science, and another in a different city for Engineering. While both the colleges are equally good, I chose to study in a city different from home. After the initial misty eyes when I did leave for hostel, and the first night away from home, things began to feel pretty normal. The routine of the college seemed to help too.

While the routine of everyday was distracting in itself, small changes began to feel big. Back then, Debit Cards were not yet so common. This meant that one had to either control the money spent, or keep extra money as backup. While keeping extra money in itself wasn’t something of note, what made a difference was the temptation to spend it. Temptation showed up in innocent things like wanting to have a slice of the chocolate cake after college, or go catch up on the latest movie with friends (Cola & a tub of popcorn). But this also meant that money was needed for extra stationery, or to buy medicines, it wasn’t there.

Money aside, things we take for granted became more profound. Home food felt dearer compared to what we had in the hostel mess. While it is common to feel so for the taste, but for me it was a different reason. At home, food is made keeping the likes and mood in mind. If I felt a craving for mushrooms, then mushrooms would be made. If I feel like having dinner late in the night, it can always be reheated. Such aspects became a comfort instead of something being taken for granted.

 

The next major change that happened was moving out for a job. In itself, this was a chance to start a new life. AN independent life. Living away from the family wasn’t new, but living by myself was. Now that I was fully responsible for myself, it was up to me to do things as I wanted. Things like rent were not that much of an issue since I was earning, but other aspects of the house were. Since I was the one who would choose where I lived, I began to look at houses with a new insight.

How far would the place be from the bus stop? How much difference would it make in the daily commute? Are there traffic jams nearby during rush hours? Where does the water go when it rains? Is there a vegetable market nearby? If the week was hectic, clothes and undies would pile up. I would need a space to keep a laundry basket, and a larger cupboard to keep my fresh sets of clothes. I generally like to sleep on the floor with just a mattress below me and a bed sheet to cover myself. It became a different situation when I would have friends or family over. Mother would need a cot, and more storage space for extra mattresses for friends to sit on.

The house would need a gallery to hang my clothes out to dry after washing. I had tried doing that inside under the fan with a clothes rack, and the room ended up feeling damp and smelling of soap. While books were initially kept in a simple carton box, I ended up needing a dedicated rack for storing the extra ones. While I had started with a simple platform for cooking, I had to look for a new house with a kitchen that would allow me to store my vessels and vegetables. One cannot live on Maggi forever.

These are two times in my life where I have had to start a new life, a different life.

 

Inspired by this video of housing.com:

Changing my approach towards drawing

I personally believe that one of the most defining times for a person is that spent in school/college. The experiences one has during the same end up giving shape to the outlook they have towards life in general. Apart from the person themselves, two sets of people add (or remove) filters to our views. These are our parents and teachers. What I am about to share with you is how my lecturers in college gave me a more positive approach to learning in general.

I have generally been a good learner. I was able to grasp most aspects of what I had been taught in school/college, struggling only in mathematics. Of course with more time and practice, mathematics would become something I could wrap my head around. One aspect that I would often neglect was drawing. Since I had opted for Science after my Tenth Exams, I had to study Biology which involved generous amounts of drawings. I confess to taking mom’s help in doing most of the tougher drawings, and opting for a different question to answer in the exams.

However when it came to Engineering, I literally had no way out. I managed to scrape through my first year’s drawing exams with average grades, but received a probationary pass grade in the second year. Honestly speaking, that was my lowest point in college. It wasn’t a subject like Mathematics, where I knew that with more practice and better understanding I could cover up. Drawing required a different approach to it, while mine was that of neglect, and in most parts fear.

When my faculty advisor called me for counselling after the grades were out, I was fully expecting to be rebuked. I had spent most of semester not preparing for the subject. During the exams, I had completed my drawing sheet in nearly half an hour, in a three hour exam slot. I had drawn what I could, but that was not enough to get me even passing marks. When I did attempt to finish the remaining of the questions, I ended up using the eraser so much that I had large smudge and small tear on the sheet.

Instead of bemoaning how miserably I had performed, she and another lecturer first asked me as to what I felt the reason was. When I explained that I felt that I didn’t find it useful, and considered a rote activity. After letting me say my side of the problem, they showed how a different approach was required. In a previous counselling session she had appreciated my logical & problem solving skills in programming. I was asked to approach drawing in a similar manner. While I did have to memorize some of the drawings, the larger part of the syllabus didn’t require rote memorization. Instead, if one approached it as a problem as to how the views of an object if viewed from a different angle, then I would have to process those changes. I would have to factor in which surfaces would get hidden, which would now become visible, and how these will interact with the change in viewing plane.

I will not get in to more technicalities of it. What I do appreciate is that instead of asking me to do what every other student does, or just go by rote memorization, they changed my approach towards the subject in a manner that would make it more interesting, and in turn challenging. I retook the subject in the next semester, and was able to get above average scores in the exam. To be honest, more than the exams, I was able to use the drawing skills in my projects in much more useful manner (than just clearing exams). For this, I will remain thankful to these two lecturers who took out time to change how I approached drawing in general.

This post was inspired from Housing.com, for how optimism  & positiviry can be found in any aspect of life.