Back in 10th class, I had developed a very deep interest in Mathematics and an inner intuition told me that I should choose the science stream over the medical and commerce streams.
The +2 years were the most enjoyable days of my life. My love for Mathematics just kept on increasing and I loved solving math problems than anything else in the study hours. I was also intrigued by the concepts of physics and how every small thing built around me was but an application of physics guided by the language of mathematics. I must admit here that I sucked at Chemistry. Though I loved a few chapters which were related to mathematics, in some way or the other, like “Solutions”, I hated Organic as well as Inorganic Chemistry since I’m very poor at memorizing the properties of crappy elements and their crappy reactions at crappy temperatures. I attempted AIEEE, IIT-JEE and not-to-mention explicitly, EAMCET. JEE didn’t prove out to be successful for me but I secured a very good rank in AIEEE.
Having scored AIR 1404 in AIEEE, I had two options in front of me: to spend 1 year by taking long-term in order to enter into IITs, or to join in some reputed college listed under AIEEE. I chose the latter option since I always wanted to learn new things rather than repeating the same things again and again. And thus, I decided to go to a college. At the time of joining, everybody told me that the college I had opted for has earned a lot of reputation in a very less time and that I was quite lucky to have secured a seat in an institution as prestigious as this one. I was more than flattered and I joined the college without any hesitation. This was the point of time when I had no idea what my future would be like, whether I’d get the kind of education I was looking for or whether I’d be running a rat race. But since I had made a decision, I couldn’t look back.
The very first lecture in the college made it absolutely clear that all my prior knowledge of maths and physics will have no or least application in what I was going to do in the following years to come. A few courses here and there in mathematics kept my passion for maths alive and burning. But Physics, it was gone. Completely! Phut!
Though, in the first semester we had a few classes on mechanics and other engineering applications of physics, they were not of any use to us in the years that followed. Neither the professor, nor the student raised any doubt in the class as the complex equations involving double derivatives of vectors on a complex plane were far beyond the comprehension of either of them. And if any student dared to raise a doubt in the class, the prof scorned at him/her by saying that how could one come to a prestigious institution like this without having the knowledge of such a simple subject! Simple? My ass.
Anyways, in the second semester we were taught Elementary Electronics along with the students of Electronics stream. It was an elementary course and was designed only to introduce us to a few terms which we were supposed to be conversant of. Since the course dealt with electronics and semi conductors (Physics) I was very much fascinated by its content. At one time I had seriously thought of changing the stream to Electronics. But everybody knew that ECE was a very tough stream and most of the students even sympathized with their ECE friends for having a tough time. So I consulted a few of my friends to seek their advice on finalizing my decision. Every one of them strongly condemned my idea, they even said that I was nuts and only a crack would opt Electronics. In those days, I didn’t have guts to go against the words of my friends and so I decided to stay put and run the rat race.
Year after year, I saw my grade sheet being filled up with unwanted courses and demoralizing grades. Every bad grade discouraged me, decreased my morale, forced me to think from a CGPA point of view, which in turn forced me to think from placements point of view. I was demoralized to such an extent that I started hating exams, professors and especially books. I was forced into a rebellion of giving up on the grades and involving myself in other extra-curricular activities. I knew that I was intelligent enough to pass any exam with one night stand but that would only convince my inner soul that I’d passed an examination, and not that I’d excelled at it. Believe me, wearing an I-don’t-really-care-about-grades smile on the face is really a difficult thing especially when a small bug inside your brain is aware of the consequences of your grades and their effect on your placements.
Every year, I used to subscribe to those courses which, according to the masses, were relatively easy and susceptible enough to fetch me a good grade. Such courses were very popular among the students because the end semester question paper, which comprised 60% of the total grade, would never alter. So, if one obtains the end semester paper from any senior, one doesn’t have to study much. Knowing the answers to the questions was the only key to assure a good grade. I, on the other hand, looked upon every course with the intention of learning. I also tried to solve the problem using the conventional approach first and then by applying my knowledge of the course. I failed to write the correct answer, I failed to obtain good marks, I failed to get a good grade. Every time after coming out of the exam hall I had a lot of expectations from the result. But every time the marks disappointed me. I have seen my fellow batch mates arguing with the profs and TAs to increase at least 1 mark and in every problem and thus in the process getting their marks increased by two digit figures. I’m not saying that all of them belonged to that category; there were a few who were genuinely talented and would obtain decent marks without putting the effort of arguing with the profs. But I belonged to neither of the categories aforementioned.
In my fourth year, I took a bold decision of taking a tough course irrespective of everyones warnings. And the course was Game Theory. Traditionally, only the toppers and the rankers across the batches used to opt for that course. It was taught by the college dean who had warm feelings for toppers and rankers and he wouldn’t give a damn to the other students. I attended most of the classes sitting in the back bench making no noise. One fine day I was listening to the class with utmost attention when I noticed that the prof was struck at explaining some concept of game theory involving coordinate geometry. I knew the answer to that problem but the bad grades had such a bad effect on me that I thought everybody else too knew the answer; my futile attempt of answering it would rather go unnoticed and hence I kept silent. But when I saw that the toppers and the rankers were not able to solve it, I slowly opened my mouth and blurted out the answer. That was the first time the prof became aware of my presence. He did solve the problem but without appreciating my effort. But that day I learnt something. I learnt that the toppers and the rankers were the people who simply by-hearted the answers in order to gain maximum marks. They never saw a problem as a challenge. They’d never wanted to solve the problem, they only wanted to see the solutions and understand the procedure and write the same in exams.
Since very few students(22) opted for the course, our prof decided to abandon the examination and gave us all a big assignment instead. The assignment consisted of creating a completely new game which involved all the topics discussed in the class. I took this as an opportunity to prove it to the class that I still had the burning desire to create something different, novel and innovative. And I did come up with a game involving secondary mortgage market, bankers and debtors. My game depicted the beginning and evolution of the Sub-prime mortgage crisis. With appropriate utilities and players, I formulated the game in such an interesting manner that the prof was compelled to give me an “A” grade. Later, I learned that I was the only student in the class of 22 who secured an A grade. I was overwhelmed by this response. To me, this achievement was nothing less than winning an Academy Award.
My bold decision of taking a step against the crowd proved out to be a huge success for me. From that day onwards, I decided to make my own decisions without consulting any one. The best part of taking a decision of my own is that I don’t have to blame anybody for the consequences I face and I take the complete responsibility of my decision. 🙂