Glimpses of our placement season (BITS Pilani, M.E SS-CS 2014-2016)

Though the PU team would have said enough by now and not that I have something very unique to share, but I decided to write this to share the placement perspective of a student outside of PU.

It was around April-May 2015 when Rachit and Charu were chosen as representatives of ME CS-SS to the placement unit. It had hardly been a year since we had joined BITS and things were going just fine. We were just another batch of 45 odd students, the only difference till then being we decide to have representatives in the PU so that our placements aren’t screwed as that of our seniors.

But little did we anticipate the events of the semester to come that would make Rachit take leave from his office 2 years later (yes he works on weekends as well), to go to Pilani and talk to you people about it.

In the summer break to follow, while we were busy with placements and other personal engagements, Rachit and Charu would ring up companies the entire day, persuading them to visit the campus for our recruitment, with little time to spare for their own preparation. This gesture of immense selflessness motivated a handful of us to do our bit to make the placement season a success. It was the last week of July when inspired by our 2 placement representatives, some 15 of us made our little contributions which ultimately lead to 40 of us securing jobs by mid-September with a maximum package of 25 lpa and a minimum of 8.5. All the more, Rachit and Charu were amongst the very first students to get placed from our batch.

Not everyone can be a good leader, but all of us have the minimum capability which can bring out a significant refinement in the entire leadership, that’s what we call team work.

Now that I reflect back, I realize, the entire team work brought us a lot closer and helped us build timeless memories during the remainder of the last semester. We started off as just a batch of ME students and ended up becoming real close friends. But that wasn’t our intention or our motivation when we started. The biggest quality that helped us was our attitude of mutual benefaction built on inter-dependence, where each one of us brought the best to the table from which everyone gained. Yes, time changes, and the post college scenario might not be as great as it was back then, people choose to act as per their conveniences. But one certainty still remains, for each one of the 47 students of ME SS-CS 2016 the experiences and learning of those 6 months shall always remain one of the best life memories; of the life we have lived and of that we are yet to live 😉

The Bliss of Solitude

Whatever I had ever yearned for lied

within me. The seeds of change had to be sown within me before the effects could be perceived in my external ecosystem.

The situations we fear and tend to avoid are the ones which help us grow the most, bring out the best in us; every experience has its role to play for shaping us for our future, solitude being one of them. In the words of Paul Tillich, “while Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone, solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”

No matter how stable minded we might be, as humans, we somehow, to whatever extent are constantly affected by the opinions of people around us. Being alone for a while gives us a chance to filter out the impressions to be absorbed from those to be discarded. We are left with our thoughts, to organize them, to nurture them and to grow upon them. It’s the unadulterated YOU.

Just like moving out of our homes we became self-dependent, by starting to earn, we gained financial independence, similarly by accepting solitude, I believe, we become socially independent; all a part of growing up. By social independence I don’t mean we avoid socializing, just that being alone is no longer uncomfortable.

Embracing solitude is important for one’s personal integrity. Fear of being alone is known to have lead people into despaired friendships, desperate and random relationships and marriages. There occur incidents where people get into relationships (or even marriages) seeing it an escape route from solitude. This new found companionship is looked upon as a final consolation. Failure in any such relationship leaves one in wretched loneliness; the urge for an emotional easement becomes so dire that it eventually leaves one stranded alone. One hops from one temporary solace to another in search for an eternal redemption, but never sees that coming.

Once you have been comfortable with solitude, you no longer choose people out of necessity or loneliness, you choose to be with people because you love them, likewise you learn to distinguish people who actually care for you from those who just want you as a part of their social life to escape boredom. They are not the beautiful memories that bond people, it’s the mutual trust which grows over time that does. Stop bothering people if they make you feel you are not needed. Never leave those who make an effort to stay in your life, respect them for their choices, they have chosen you.

When we accept solitude as a part of life, we develop a new perception of life. We become more affectionate, accepting, and more welcoming to love.

Don’t cut people of because of their negativity, love them for the positivity. Their positives will help you grow, and maybe in due course they will learn from your positives. Don’t expect people to understand you; you don’t understand them all. Be grateful to those who make an attempt to understand you; make an effort to understand those who you care for. They haven’t walked in your shoes, so they don’t know what your life has been about, likewise, you don’t know theirs, so don’t judge them without making an attempt to understand them; forgive those for their naivety who do that to you, if they are lucky enough, they’ll learn.

Develop a habit of keeping in touch with those who matter to you. Focus more on keeping existing relations than hopping from new to newer ones. Foster your relations with close ones, talk to them often, share your life with them; it’s an important human emotion. Be honest if something bothers you about them, don’t always play diplomacy. In a world full of people trying to be “nice” to each other, honesty finds its due respect.

Growing up, society taught us that a stable career and a consequent marriage were the two keys of happiness in adulthood, but over the years we realized that true contentment is attained amongst people whom we can connect to. But, they won’t always be available; this doesn’t mean we won’t be happy. We should try to be our own healer. This way they’ll be fewer things in life to make us unhappy.

Time shall pass, so will the solitude and also the company of people that you cherish the most. So while either is there, learn from it, and make the most of it. Build strong relations with people you like. Focus on quality of your relations rather than quantity. For an extrovert, it’s simple and effortless to have a social group for gatherings and enjoyment, but exceedingly difficult (for anyone) to find people who can be counted upon. When alone, learn to enjoy your own company. The only person guaranteed to be in your life forever is YOU. Invest in yourself, develop new talents, and let memories not be the only gift you carry to your future. Empower your individuality. It’s time to sow those seeds of change, nourish them well, and make our lives and our ecosystems ever more beautiful with affection, care, progress and growth. Solitude too has a silver lining, making it a blissful serendipity.

Stepping into the Wilderness

In school:

Conformist: Hey…why haven’t you joined Prof. Y’s chemistry coaching? EVERYONE says he’s the best in town for engineering entrance exams.

Anti-Conformist 1: I personally don’t like his teaching methods and I think I can do chemistry on my own. Also, I don’t want to pursue engineering after school.

Conformist: Dude, Why? What will people say?

In college:

Conformist: Dude, it’s high time now, wear fashionable clothes, act cool, get a girlfriend, otherwise what will other students think of you!

Anti-Conformist 2: *Awkward*

After College:

Conformist: What are your plans after B.tech?

Anti-Conformist 3: Besides my regular job, I will be a social entrepreneur and work for the society.

Conformist: What? Why? Go for M.B.A, M.tech, Civil Services etc. Something that will make you rich…Dude, what will people say?

A few Years into Job:

Conformist: Dude, get married soon, otherwise you won’t get any “good” girl. What will people say?

In a world full of conformists, having an opinion about life, different from one’s peer group is often regarded being baseless, and deficient of mature thinking.

So, play safe, do what the society tells you. So what if that frustrates you? Fake a smile. Work hard to impress your so called friends, your peer group. After all, that’s what you were born to do. That’s what your upbringing has been all about. Work hard to FIT-IN.

I don’t stand against seeking people’s advice, but, it is important to consider the situation where they stood when they made the decision, and where we stand today. All of us have had different lives, different life expectations and priorities and that, by and large determine our choices and decisions. But, alas, we live in a society where the differentiation between right and wrong is made by the majority opinion; logic and reasoning have little role to play. This further leads to a very high priority concern while making a decision, “What will people think of me?”, and here the focus of an individual shifts from making a wise decision, to being answerable to the society; towards social acceptance.

I have come into believing, the most important person I’m answerable to is myself, or rather, my future self. When I make a decision today, it will affect me sometime in future, the fruits of my deeds, whether sweet or sour, shall be borne by me. I will be the one judging my younger self for my present state, so I should fear my judgement the most.

Of course there is a clause to self-judgements. They have to be honest. I have heard many people argue that you can lie to the world but you can’t lie to your own self, I totally disagree. When I lie to another person, the second person uses his reasoning to counter me, so I might or might not succeed at lying. But, when I wish to convince a lie to myself, there is no second person to counter me. I’ll believe what I want to believe. This is the point where our well-wishers can come to our rescue and help us see our strengths and weaknesses, in the form of honest criticisms.

This however is not at all common, for we avoid criticisms assuming that friends would take them personally and get upset. This in some way may affect our friendship, and eventually we might lose friends; thereby realising one of our greatest fears, the fear of being alone. While honesty demands mutual understanding, that alone is not sufficient, for the concept of friendship has bent more towards wanting the other person to like you, than truly being his well-wisher.

Stepping into the raw wilderness of life is how I have found myself at several instances. One of them was when I got into mechanical engineering in my under grad, two years into mechanical engineering I realised that I did not fit there, while I had blooming interest in computer science. I decided to go for Masters in computer science. This decision of mine received heavy criticism from almost everyone, the rest were neutral. I was referred as being naive, impulsive and stubborn for the others argued that it was insane for an average mechanical engineer to compete against some of the most meritorious students of computer science, in computer science. Two years down the line I got selected in BITS Pilani.

I am not as proud of the achievement as much I am of being able to take the decision against all the peer pressure. I never believed that I would succeed in the first attempt. I was afraid that I might never make it. I almost always doubted myself. I feared the 100 voices howling “We told you, but you would never listen.” But, up against all fear, I wanted to try. The fear of failing in front of the world got over powered by the fear of giving up without trying. I could have never succeeded, but I would have the satisfaction that I did try. All of us deserve at least one sincere attempt in pursuit of our dreams.

Having said that, I should also mention, when failure hits, it hits hard, hard enough to make you judge reality. An incident happened at school. All people who knew me at school remember this, those who didn’t; they got to know me after the incident:

I was in class 12; hadn’t been involved in athletics since long, but somehow decided to participate in the 100m hurdles. Out of the 5 hurdles, I toppled and fell down over 3 of them and side walked one. Not that it would have affected my life anyhow, but when I turned back, I heard about 1000 people laughing; 1000 juniors laughing at my athletic display. At the age of 18, when a large number of people still can’t let go of their stage fear; they wouldn’t be comfortable standing on a stage facing a crowd of 1000 people, but I got mocked by that crowd. It couldn’t have been undone. The disgrace hurt. But, a month down the line, I stepped on the stage for an elocution competition, facing the same audience, determined to have the lost respect back….

No, nothing dramatic happened here. I did average; stood 3rd amongst 4 participants. But what I took back from stage was much more than the respect of 1000 juniors. The realization that, after facing such a humiliation, if I can gather the courage to face the same audience again, there would hardly be any hesitation in life that would hold me back from pursing anything I truly desired. I guess this might have had some influence on my decision of pursuing computer science against all peer opposition. Every cloud does have a silver lining. It all depends upon our abilities to perceive it…

One thing I find very difficult to understand is the concept of happiness. The feeling which is desired by all, which might be around the corner but very few can perceive it. What screws up the idea of our being happy is our mental picture, decorated in never ending desires and expectations, of how our lives should be. We brood over every expectation that remains unfulfilled and hold it in our hearts for long. We remember our pains but not our blessings. We question our fate when things go bad, not when they go good. The good is taken for granted. In a world where each year millions die of curable diseases and starvation, where over 40% of the world population is at or below poverty line, the fact that I am educated and have secured a job should prevent me from cursing my luck. I have been very lucky in this life and I am grateful for it.

We come across incidents in life we can’t control. But what always lies in our hands is a choice; the choice to respond to those incidents. The war, whose victims arm themselves to avenge the war, also breeds victims who choose the educative and legal path of civil transformation to prevent future wars. We can either choose to cry over spilt milk, pretend that the milk hasn’t been spilt and walk away or, clean it up and ensure that no future spillage takes place. The choice is ours to make, and what we ultimately become in life is a consequence of several of these choices taken over time. So, ultimately, we are what we choose to be. My life, by and large is a consequence of my decisions, my Karma.

A very popular notion among all age groups is “maturity”. More than it being a destination, I believe it’s a process. There’s no fine line between maturity and immaturity (no matter how hard we look for it). Maturity is an attitude, one might have it at 15, and the other might not have it at 60. It’s a question: how well my experiences of yesterday will shape me for tomorrow? We try, we make mistakes, and we learn from them, we grow. When I was 20, I used to look at my 15 year old self and wonder, how naive I was back then. Now that I am 25, I say that for my 20 year old self. Probably the same will happen when I turn 30, and will continue as long as I live. I have come into believing that exposing myself to the wilderness of the world is how I have grown and will grow. The process of learning continues, with the persistent aim as ever….

Life with Purpose….

The Eternal Urge for Social Acceptance

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Ever since the birth of human civilization, there has been an urge to develop a code of conduct to suit all human needs with regard to peace and harmony and due allowance for personal freedom. Over the centuries the code of conduct has earned the titles like culture, nationality, religion or in more recent times, stud, swag etc. But what I believe has suffered a cold, inadvertent death is our sense of uniqueness, our individuality.

Over and overt acceptance and glorification of this code of conduct, since ages, has led to dwindling of self confidence among individuals. It has made us to believe the need for identification as a part of a ‘group’ (any group), is of vital importance, much as food for life; something our existence depends upon. And ever since the majority has run into believing this mundane ideology, they have come up with the concept of a society. The society precisely means, our peer group. They may be the people who live around us, study or work with us. Every peer group or society follows one such code.

Though a general agreement and acceptance of the code is reasonably important, the omnipresence and omnipotence it has assumed, has defeated the basic purpose of its conception. The debates on the society’s code of conduct about culture, nationality and religion have been well witnessed as people through movies, literature and social gatherings have made their points, both logically and dramatically. Now let’s pay some attention to the codes given by the Generation Y; that of dudes, chicks, swag and being super cool, to name a few.

No matter how much we criticize our ancestors, parents or the preachers of humanity, it’s the current generation which has succumbed the most to this peer pressure of social acceptance. The pressure can be felt everywhere. It’s there among children, teens, youth and even adults in many cases. Everyone is a victim.

The inculcation of peer pressure can be seen in adolescents when school children disobey the decorum of schools and homes. Where not paying attention in class, mocking the teacher, using abusive language, disregarding people’s emotions for the sake of humour and rent less arguments against parents have become a way of gaining respect in one’s social circle. It is social pressure which grows into mid and late teens to take shape of substance abuse, selfish friendships and materialistic relationships just to become a prominent face in one’s social group.

With no regard to the repercussions these habits have on the victim and the society, young adults keep falling prey to it. Though this has bothered most parents regarding the upbringing of their children, recent times have seen some parents add fuel to the fire. Few parents choose extravagance to have their children out shine in their groups for which they gift them expensive gadgets, encourage them at young ages to have trendy outlooks, all this with no regard to the maturity of their children or the subtlety with which they could handle it.

This creates senses of superiority and inferiority complexes among children, which stay for long and have psychological effects on them. Those who can afford it out of financial and moral expenses, rise up in the popularity chart, while others begin to feel less respected than their peers. All attributed to peer pressure and the urge for social acceptance.

A latest trend has been seen on Facebook, where people shares posts like “I have reached a point in my life where I no longer care what people say or think of me.” I guess the day we actually reach this place, we wouldn’t bother to tell this to the world. Our dire need of telling this to the world takes care of the hypocrisy. A failed attempt to appear “cool”.

People who still feel that peer pressure is not that big an issue, I reach to them. You might have noticed people being uncomfortable for being judged by others of wearing certain kind of clothes. Fair enough. The others shouldn’t tell these people what to wear. BUT, at the same time, one shouldn’t fail to see how these people judge the others who would wear something not quite up to the fashion, something which is not “classy”. So, these people have a hard time having their dressing sense criticized as being indecent, but a number of them won’t hesitate to call the others “champu” or “bhen-ji”. Why these double standards? Who decides what is classy and what isn’t? Our peer groups. So we aren’t being broad minded, only that our narrow mindedness lies in a different domain than that of the others.

Taking the talk to another level, the peer pressure hits harder when it comes to marriages. The most popular parameters which people look for in a “suitable” spouse are caste, age (boy should be elder to the girl), physical appearances, financial status of either families etc. In an era where a happily married life has become a myth for many, these are the parameters, which we assume will result in a successful family life. One of the reasons being this list of parameters can be seen and measured physically. This way, when the society is invited to the marriage, they will applaud at the credibility of parents and the bride/groom for having found a “good” spouse. So, if a very good looking, rich spouse of the same caste is chosen, the family will definitely be praised by the society. Here quite often, the prime focus lies on building a social prestige and the idea of a successful marriage is only secondary. If the marriage fails a few years down the line, we’ll blame the person’s fate. The person will curse his destiny, but never the choices which framed that destiny.

All these years of living simply fail to teach us to put our priorities right, which remains the main cause behind our sorrows. Guided by the peer pressure, we live to impress others and quite often miserably fail to impress ourselves. Many of our miseries can be traced to our urge to impress a set of people by following their norms. People whom we have almost nothing to do with. People who will never be able to justify the norms they themselves have set. People who themselves suffer under the same norms, but never refute.

We look forward to the society to tell us what will make us happy. A number of us have reduced down to being puppets in the hands of the society. We are all uncomfortable, but won’t attempt to break free, as we are afraid of being judged; afraid of being pointed out at. Life becomes a choice between outward materialism and peace of mind, with fake smiles concealing frustrated souls.

It’s our society which tells us whom to judge, whom to refute and whom to accept. It’s our society which tells us what should make us comfortable and what should add to our discomfort. It’s our society which specifies bounds on our intellectual freedom.

We essentially are programmed robots, and will act as have been programmed by one section of the society or will act as per the malware infested into us by another section of the society, but never as our own selves. Individuality today means, walking out of one peer group to be accepted by another peer group. Very few (if at all) are courageous enough to stand for their personal beliefs, while most of us are here to impress the section of society we deem to be the best.

Social pressure has existed since ages, the only difference being that today it has become multi-dimensional. They say that change is the only constant thing in the world, and the change we have seen diversifies from the industrial and technological revolutions to the advent of hippies and the rise of swag. The need of the hour, or rather the desperation of the hour calls for a moral revolution.  A cult where human values become the most respected possession; where people don’t have to fake themselves and can live with their true identities; where judgments comes in the form of honest criticisms, aimed at the second person’s improvement and not to demean them. We need to build a society which has not only aims at tolerance but has perfected benevolence; otherwise human civilization shall perish, not by wars, not by food or water scarcity but under the exponential decay of human attitude!