The Curse 3


Round 2 of the Minor Examinations is what I have been dealing with for the last week and a half. They are all over now, letting me get back to a little blogging for you. This time the Minors went better but still a number of challenges were met along the way. I saw things differently this time however and there are a few interesting things I picked up on. Two weeks before the exams, it seemed like I was the only one who had started studying. The status quo here at IITD is to start studying the day or night before. I do not think that students here are just so lazy that they don’t bother studying; I think it has to do more with the lack of enthusiasm for courses (a lot of people here don’t actually love engineering) and the knowledge that even if they do not study they will do well on the courses by pure genius. When I was finishing up studying around midnight for my 9am exam, a guy came and sat with our group of friends. He had never been to classes and picked up the textbook for the second time that course to start learning the material for the Minor. I am sure that he read continuously for 9 hours and then gave the exam. Perhaps with all the memorization that is required I should follow suite next time…

What really bothered me was that I had very few people to study with. At UBC in Engineering Physics I was always able to study with other Fizzers and it was a tremendous help in answering questions and explaining concepts. Here when I asked friends to study they would be quite quick to decline saying that they would start studying much later. Talking with other friends, it has become apparent that this tale of putting off studying until the very last moment may just be a big hoax for many. Perhaps it stems from the competition prevalent in every area of life here or it is just a petty “I’m better than you” situation. It seems to be looked down upon if you actually have to study for exams in advance and therefore everyone is studying on their own or with small groups in private: never letting anyone know what they are actually doing. Of course there have been some exceptions and it doesn’t apply for everyone. Hopefully for the Major Exams in November people will start studying earlier so that I can join in and study in the way that is best for me.

It occurred to me that this semester is similar in many ways to my first semester of UBC (Vancouver, Canada) in first year. Coming in new to the university, I knew nobody and had to go into super-friendly-meet-people mode (one of the best ones in my opinion). Getting involved in anything and everything on campus (i.e. events, clubs, sports, etc) is the best way for me! Again, I was pleasantly surprised to find people extremely friendly and receptive to adding a new friend to their circles. Being from the other side of Canada or from the other side of world, I had a lot of different stories and experiences to share. There are even parallels in all the international friends I have at UBC and here! Much of the initial talk is about differences and my experiences, being in a new part of the world. Even living on the campus in residence is the same: eating from the cafeteria, always seeing friends, sharing bathrooms, having ongoing activities and did I mention not cooking for myself? In this temporary, small space I was able to decorate it the way I want. And lastly and perhaps the most visible: being in a new city! Months after moving to Vancouver and Delhi I was/am still discovering and exploring new places in the city. Going on trips to surrounding cities and sights is a big part of life as you try to learn as much as possible about this new place!

My room at IITD

Observations:

  1. People laugh at you if you discretely take toilet paper from your bag, even if you are just using it to blow your nose
  2. Picking up and dropping a common hindi swearword into conversation randomly earned me a lot of acceptance (don’t know if that one will work every time haha)
  3. Dengue alerts have stepped up with increased cases in Delhi and they have been spraying the hostel with anti-mosquito stuff twice a week
  4. An Indian friend of mine who did an internship in the USA said that Indians he met there live in a disgusting, dirty state. He was living with a host family and noted that he had never seen such filth before here in Indian homes. Interesting to note and keep in mind that this small representation of Indians abroad does not necessarily represent the entirety of the Indian subcontinent.
  5. Things are cooling down here: most mornings I wake up freezing cold in my boxers. Maybe it’s a sign that I should start wearing more clothes…
  6. Friends of mine have some amazing blogs as well from around the world; check them out in the blogroll on the right ->

An interesting story about a curse which is starting to affect my life:

“An old vagabond in his 60s told me about it over a beer in Central America, goes something like this:

The more places you see, the more things you see that appeal to you, but no one place has them all. In fact, each place has a smaller and smaller percentage of the things you love, the more things you see. It drives you, even subconsciously, to keep looking, for a place not that’s perfect (we all know there’s no Shangri-La), but just for a place that’s “just right for you.” But the curse is that the odds of finding “just right” get smaller, not larger, the more you experience. So you keep looking even more, but it always gets worse the more you see. This is Part A of the Curse.

Part B is relationships. The more you travel, the more numerous and profoundly varied the relationships you will have. But the more people you meet, the more diffused your time is with any of them. Since all these people can’t travel with you, it becomes more and more difficult to cultivate long term relationships the more you travel. Yet you keep traveling, and keep meeting amazing people, so it feels fulfilling, but eventually, you miss them all, and many have all but forgotten who you are. And then you make up for it by staying put somewhere long enough to develop roots and cultivate stronger relationships, but these people will never know what you know or see what you’ve seen, and you will always feel a tinge of loneliness, and you will want to tell your stories just a little bit more than they will want to hear them. The reason this is part of the Curse is that it gets worse the more you travel, yet travel seems to be a cure for a while.

None of this is to suggest that one should ever reduce travel. It’s just a warning to young Travelers to expect as part of the price, is a rich life tinged with a bit of sadness and loneliness, and angst that’s like the same nostalgia everyone feels, except multiplied by a thousand.”


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