Saturday, May 13, 2006

What’s In A Number?

I’ve been unable to write anything for a long time now. These days, I am all busy getting and setting things to see me in the US. This whole episode of making it to the US has been the cynosure of my thoughts of late. I can’t help but think of all the effort I’ve put up the last two years to shape up this dream of mine. For this was not something like one fine morning I decided to leave for the US, took GRE dates, cleared the exams and there, started packing my bags. This has been one of the most complicated phase of my life I have ever faced. My struggle with things started the day I applied for my passport. Ever since, I have been running around from pillar to post, with 6 hours of spine numbing study at the USEFI library everyday, knocking the office doors of my recommenders, getting dollar drafts done, sending courier posts worth thousands of rupees, and the rest of the time motivating myself to see me through the process. In brief, this particular dream has meant and cost a lot to me. Naturally, people sometime tend to get superstitious with stuff that matter a lot to them. Yet so many episodes the last few months have reiterated the fact again and again that superstition and baseless assumptions have got nothing to do with fate. What’s destined to happen will happen.

It started the day when mom asked me not to wear black.
It’s your TOEFL. Why do you want to wear black?

Oh ma, do you believe in all this?

No. But I don’t want things to go wrong for you.

Oh, don’t worry ma. Things would go fine anyway.

Somehow, I knew she was not happy with my sartorial tastes on the day of my examination. But some stubborn mulish genes in my chromosomes just wouldn’t let me change. It’s not that I had deliberately worn black. But once I did, I did not want to change just for some baseless superstition (superstitions were baseless anyway). My TOEFL scorecard with the haggard looking girl with haunted eyes and a black tee shirt staring back at me (yeah, that’s my snap on the scorecard, the exhausted look due to all that tension and sleepless nights) still makes me smile. The scores actually make me grin. As I said, it’s not in what you wear, but how you perform.

Now I’ll come to the main content of my post, that is, the various instances when numbers otherwise feared and apprehended have proven otherwise for me.

Episode 1

So when have you taken your dates for GRE?, a friend asked me.

The 17th of August, I said.

Ummm.... 17? Did you consult a numerologist before deciding?,
she asked.

What? Are you crazy? Why would a numerologist decide on my examination date?

I chose the 17th simply because it’s a Wednesday and I want to watch the Chitrahaar peacefully, I wanted to tell her. But the days of Doordarshan have long evanesced, and it wouldn’t work. So I told her the simple truth.

It’s a randomly picked up date.

She stared at me as if she had seen a ghost.

But this is so important an exam. Even I have consulted a numerologist.

Good luck to you then, and may God help you, was all that I told her in my mind. I wondered if my scores could be influenced by the lame predictions of a fortuneteller.

Episode 2

I had applied to 13 schools in the US. My mom was not happy with that. The huge number of schools had nothing to do with her unhappiness. She wanted me to apply to either 12 schools or 14 schools.

Can’t you find another school where you can apply?

Oh mom I have gone through the research interests of all schools. There are no more to apply.

So why don’t you cancel one?
It took me a while to convince her that there was nothing unlucky in the number 13. It was all in the mind. But somehow, she wasn’t convinced.

One by one, the decisions were made. Those were the four most difficult and mentally torturing months of my life. Some schools accepted me while some rejected me. Some that accepted me with funding were not so good. Some that were very good didn’t fund me fully. Some asked me to wait while I made some wait. Overall, it was a mess. I’ve never felt more uncertain in life.

Then came the 13th reply that made my life. I had made it to the school of my dreams, with a great financial package. And a lovely city too. What more could I ask for?

This was the 13th reply I got. And I am definitely going there.

So you see, it’s not in the numbers. Things are achieved by sheer hard work and a little bit of luck, but never by superstition. All you need is a loads of positive attitude and confidence in your abilities.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Occupied Space.

I was wondering about the concept of space in my life. Not the molecules of hydrogen and helium beyond the exosphere, but the one I occupy at different places, in different ways.

Home, sweet home. For 9 long years, I have lived here. The walls, the paint, the smell of my room seem so familiar. It is strange that all of a sudden, I have started to notice things I would not previously. My room has been my personal space for so long now. This is where I have studied for all my exams. When I was in my final year of school, dad had designed a cupboard for me. It is similar to the ones you would see on the Inside Outside magazines, where when you unlocked it, one of the sides would unfold as the study table. When you were through, you could close it like the door of an oven and lock it up again. Dad had designed it for me to keep my books, and that was perhaps the most special possession I had. Slowly, my books started increasing in size and volume, and dad designed another huge showcase for me (it is of the same height that I am) that covered one full wall of my room. I still remember how I would proudly show it off to my friends, unable to sleep out of excitement. Probably it was after that that I started buying new books and novels with greater fervor.

My room is where I cried in solitude when nobody would understand me. It is where I read those hundreds of novels to kill loneliness. It is where new thoughts and ideas have taken shape. It is where I saw the sunset from. My room houses all the normal things any room would have. Yet somehow, every bit of my space seems so special to me.

The bed, the pillows, the bed sheets, the cartoon wall hanging, the corner where I would hang my weekly planner, the wall clock, the large snap of mine on one of the walls, everything seems to have survived with me for years now. I have a huge collection of weird things. There is a black cardboard box where I have a huge collection of the greeting cards friends would give me. I love to collect earrings. And then, I have a habit of collecting dozens of pencils and pens of different colors. I have a huge collection of seashells of different shapes and sizes and designs. I love to keep all the letters that I get and read them over and over again. I have a few dozen albums filled with snaps of all occasions- our childhood, school, freshers’ parties, farewells, excursions, weddings, and so on. There was a time when I would collect hundreds of audio cassettes. Now, the collection has dwindled and shifted to CDs.

I know that I will be moving out of this place pretty soon. And since it is not possible for me to carry everything, I will have to get rid of a vast chunk of my paraphernalia. This includes all the things I have mentioned, and many more. These are things that I hold dear, these are things with which are associated so many memories. These are the things I have amassed over a period of years. I still remember how I persuaded mom to get me that black sleeveless dress from Metro Plaza. I would touch the particular page on my slam book for months where a former crush had scribbled. Almost every tee shirt I got myself, every dress, every accessory I bought would be the result of saving money and some mad bouts of endless shopping spree. Every thing I possess, every space I occupy, holds so many memories for me.

The particular dining chair I sit on, the window panes in my room, this swivel chair dad got me, this computer keyboard I am typing from, my favorite collection of songs I listen to, everything holds a different memory for me. It is the space that I have occupied for years now. I will soon be alienated from all this. Hopefully in a few months’ time, I will be living in a different country, breathing different molecules of oxygen, touching unfamiliar doors and windows, sitting on unfamiliar chairs, typing on an unfamiliar keyboard. I would soon learn to live without reading the letters that I almost know by heart now, or live without the same things I do now.

I have been touching everything of late, trying to get a feel of things. My wardrobe, my clothes, my books, my study table, my cupboard, even the huge cartoon wall hanging. Soon, all this would be from a different era. I will make newer memories with newer things. Things would soon change and spaces would again be occupied. But the memories associated would remain frozen in an ice of timelessness forever.

I must be feeling these things because this is the first time I would be moving away. I just don’t know.

After all, there are so many other spaces I occupy. Spaces in people's lives. Friends and family.

Speaking about space, there was this favorite bench I had in the classroom where I could sit and pull a prank on others, write instant poetry, all being inconspicuous to the eyes of the teacher. The last time that I had been to college, there was a different batch, a different face sitting on that particular bench. I wonder if that person shares the same sentiments that I have about that place.

And then when I speak of space, I think of the space I have created for myself here in my blogs. There have been so many people I’ve known in these last few months. And even after all these months, I would still type my mail id and wait with bated breath, eager to read the comments I get for each post. Somehow, all these are not just statistics for me, they mean a lot more. I thought the eagerness to read comments would subside and I would soon become lackadaisical. However, that is not the case.

Anyway, I should leave now. Get back to the favorite corner in my room. Touch and feel my prized possessions once again. I need to go through the files and sort out the novels. Maybe I am getting excessively sentimental about things. Or maybe I am just plain tired and exhausted and stressed out. I just don’t know.