The Upanishads are one of the oldest Vedic scriptures of Hinduism / Sanatana dharma. The Upanishads are also known as Vedanta as they are taught in the end while imparting Vedic knowledge. Originally these are written in Sanskrit and are very difficult to grasp or understand as it requires high proficiency of Sanskrit. This book comes with simple translation of the shlokas in English which is easy to comprehend and understand.
The book covers 10 + 1 principle Upanishads rekindled by Shankara and also has briefs on 4 of the more recent Upanishads. The format is as follows: Each Upanishad is introduced in some detail by the author highlighting some of the key aspects and shlokas of the Upanishad as well as some elaboration on it. In the second part, the shlokas are presented, translated in English. This give the reader an opportunity to think and interpret the shlokas from their own perspective. Some Upanishads are short and succinct whereas others are comparatively longer and more descriptive. Some are conversational (Katha, Prashana) while others seem more poetic (Chandogya, Shvetashvatara, Aitareya).
Content wise, it is a treasure! The Upanishads are very crisp with respect to the message they want to convey to the reader. The word Upanishad means “to sit down near a teacher”. Thus, mostly its content is in the form of a dialog between a seeker and a Guru. The seeker / student asks some of the pressing questions which are answered in detail by the Guru. This type of dialog format makes it interesting and easy to grasp the message. Also the questions asked are some of the questions we might sometimes think of, for example, What happens to a person when he dies?, What is our true Self?, How can the Self be realized?, Can one be immortal?, What is the cause of the universe?, What is the true power of our body? etc. Thus, the Upanishads are the perfect scriptures for the curious, the learners, the explorers and the seekers!
Each Upanishad has a key message to convey. Collectively the Upanishads’ main idea is the importance of Self-Realisation and how it can be achieved. This core message is conveyed across all the conversations in the Upanishads. Also I like the way in which it’s so scientific and logical and inspires the seeker to try out the techniques in order to obtain the expected results. It gives the autonomy to the seeker to choose their path and also foretells that they will get the results accordingly. It is not a scripture which says “thou should do this!”
Some of the shlokas are truly polished gems:
“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.” [ Brihadaranyaka IV.4.5 ]
“What is here is also there; what is there, Also here. Who sees multiplicity But not the one indivisible Self Must wander on and on from death to death.” [ Katha II.2.10 ]
“As a tethered bird flies this way and that, and comes to rest at last on its own perch, so the mind, tired of wandering about… settles down in the Self” [ Chandogya VI.8.2 ]
“Knowledge is two-fold, higher and lower. The study of the Vedas, linguistics, rituals, astronomy, and all the arts, Can be called lower knowledge. The higher is that which leads to Self-realization.” [ Mundaka I.1.4 ]
“Meditation, control of the senses And passions, and selfless service of all Are the body, the scriptures are the limbs, And truth is the heart of this wisdom.” [ Kena IV.4.8 ]
This book is definitely to be read multiple times. It will give new meaning and insight, every time it is read. It has also inspired me to read some of the advanced commentaries on the Upanishads to understand it in more depth. More importantly, it shows how useless our actions and efforts are in achieving happiness and joy using the sense organs to interact with the external world, when true, everlasting peace and joy lies within our own Self!
Visiting the Great wall of China was the top most item on my places to visit list of my recent China trip. I specially planned to go to Beijing to visit it. After all who will miss visiting one of the seven wonders of the world!
I visited Beijing in September 2017 end. The weather a cloudy and i didn’t want to go to the wall on a rainy day as it might be slippery. I was in Beijing for three days out of which one full day was to visit the wall. The first two days were cloudy with prediction of rain so i skipped going to the wall. On the third day i decided come what may, i am going to the wall today! And i tell you, it would have been my biggest regret if i would not have visited to the wall…
So i got up early and decided to start early. I wanted to withdraw cash from an ATM and there were some issues with my forex card so i used my credit card to withdraw some cash. And in all this i got a bit delayed. (Tip : Keep multiple credit cards and forex cards to handle things in case of such glitches).
I had done a lot of research online about which part of the wall to visit. I had seen the crowded pics of Badaling. And thus decided to visit the Mutianyu part of the wall. It is also the highest rated place on TripAdvisor.
Also, I wanted it to be an adventure, so i decided to go to the Mutianyu great wall using public transport. That way, i had more freedom to walk on the wall as per my wish and take breaks when i wanted. Also it was a lot cheaper (and far more adventurous!).
So the first step was to take the subway line 2 and reach the Dongzhimen station. At this point i will recommend that you by a transport card if you don’t have one. It can be used further on the bus and it will save some money.
There i took Exit C and followed the directions which led to the transport center. It is a few hundred meters away. Reached the boarding point of 916 express bus. The 916 bus is slower with more stops, so take the 916 express bus.
After about an hour or so i reached Huairou. There i got down at Beidajie stop. There you will see a building with greenish glass and a China mobile shop across the road.
Just cross the road and you will find a bus stop. Now based on some YouTube videos i waited at this stop for half an hour and finally took the H23 to Mutianyu wall, however after some time i found that it was not going towards Mutianyu wall. So i suggest do not take the bus.
At this bus stop there will be many people n vans to take you to the wall. Bargain and decide to go for 5 CNY per head. Wait for some more people to join. At this point i met 3 people from different parts of the world and they became my wall buddies to walk on the wall. So we waited and took the bus. One of us noticed that the bus is going on a different route. So we got down at a stop midway. From that point it would have taken us 2 hours to reach the wall walking!!! But the lady who was pestering us to take her van to the wall followed us! She said she would take the four of us to the wall! Some of us were skeptical but then we had no choice. We got in her van and she took us to the wall near a stone bridge. And i felt so relieved and happy after seeing the entrance. I had finally made it! 🙂
Based on my research i had decided to go up using chairlift and to come down using a toboggan. So i took an all inclusive ticket for 180 CNY which included the shuttle to and fro to the wall, the entry ticket, the chairlift ticket and the toboggan ticket. There are restaurants and a lot of souvenir shops. But i suggest visit the souvenir shops on the way back. The wall buddies i met split into two groups at this point, a guy and me decided to immediately go to the wall while the other two decided to take a break and then go up.
We reached the point to get to the chairlift. It seems a bit dangerous but actually it is okay and safe. You need to quickly get in and they put the handle and lock on top. It goes up slowly and there are awesome views all around. Enjoy the ride. You can see the toboggan track below. It will take around 5 minutes. When you reach the top of the wall, they click your photo. You can buy it for 30 CNY. I didn’t buy it and i regret it now. So i suggest buy it if you can.
And yipee i was on top of the wall! It was just AWESOME! Amazing views in all the directions. The lush green peaks, the endless stretch of the great wall up and down the mountains, the chirping of birds and nice cloudy weather. It was simply AWESOME!
We decided to walk towards watchtower 5 on the left. Initially there was descend and then steep ascend. This part of the wall is difficult for people with joint / knee problems. Some parts of the wall are easy and some are really hard. In some parts which are very steep, they have put hand railings. Climb the stairs very carefully. I took multiple breaks in between. Climbed up the watchtowers and enjoyed the views. Took a few snack breaks. Carry a few things to eat and drink. Things are available in some parts, but the choice is limited and the prices are high. Clicked a lot of pictures and selfies 🙂 Didn’t go to the highest tower as we were tired and also we didn’t want to miss the bus back to Beijing. So took a break at the highest watchtower we climbed and just soaked in the views. Recharged our batteries by eating some more snacks. Met people from all over the world panting and climbing the wall. Met some fellow Indians too. Did a video call and showed the live view from the great wall to family and friends 🙂
And then it was time to head back towards the starting point. And the descent was riskier. I was very careful and got down the steps with a great care. We were back to the starting point and from here the highest watchtower which we went to seemed so far! Again took a final photography break and then it was time to go down.
And this is the coolest part of the Mutianyu wall visit. Ride the toboggan of slide down! If you are healthy and fit then chose it over other options like chairlift or cablecar and believe me it is totally worth it. They have built a metal slide. And there are individual plastic tray seats to sit. There is a lever to increase or decrease the speed. Push the lever forward and it moves fast, pull it back and it slows. It works just using gravity! Tip : Allow sufficient distance between the person in front of you and then start the ride. The faster you go, the more thrilling it is. Slow down a bit on the turns. Overall the slide is very long, i guess atleast a kilometer long. Twice i thought that it ended but it went on.. Enjoy the slide to the fullest. Again when you reach down they will take your picture. Buy it if you can for 30 CNY.
Took the shuttle back to the entrance gate. There are a lot of souvenir shops. I bought some magnets for 5 CNY per piece. There are other small things which you can bargain and buy.
And guess what? our savior, the van lady was waiting for us here to take us back. She charged 10 CNY to take us back and we didn’t bargain with her as she had saved us that day. We waited for our other two wall buddies to be back and finally we waved goodbye to the Mutianyu great wall!
The van lady dropped us back at the bus stop and we took the 916 express bus back to Beijing. In the evening the traffic was more and it took 2 hours to reach back. But the aching legs required the much needed break after so much of climbing up and down the wall. Bid goodbye to the wall buddies hoping to meet them suddenly in some other parts of the world.
And thus ended my adventure of visiting the Great Wall of China. I made the right decision of vising the Mutianyu section. It was not very crowded and sometimes i could get a part of the wall to myself to click nice pics and selfies. I would recommend going as early in the day as possible so one can spend more time on top of the wall. If only i had another day in Beijing, i would have revisited the wall! I was the coolest solo experience of my life so far and i will cherish it forever!
I did M.Tech. from IIIT-Bangalore in 2012-2014. In the last semester at IIIT-B i did thesis on the effects of entrenchment on cooperative behaviour. It is based on Multi Agent Systems and Game Theory. Had the best time of my academic life so far doing research in an area which i found very interesting. I successfully defended my thesis and graduated. My dream was to get the paper based on my thesis accepted in a good conference. And as they say, if we try hard enough, our dreams do come true! 🙂
We submitted our paper in one of the tier 1 conference in the domain of multi-agent systems. And then one day we got the mail informing about the acceptance of the paper 🙂 I was on cloud nine! It is the best thing that can happen to one’s thesis.
With the acceptance came lots of things and planning to do.. Had to submit the final camera ready paper, create a poster and most importantly look for funding for travel to attend the conference. I would like to thank my employer for funding my trip and giving me the opportunity to present my work and attend the conference. It made things a lot easier. With a tatkal passport, tickets and visa, i was all set to fly to Istanbul, Turkey, the world’s fifth-most-popular tourist destination. 🙂 My first foreign visit! Luckily the Prof. under whose guidance i had done my thesis was also coming with his family 🙂
We boarded Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Qatar Airways! One of the most hi-tech planes of today. And for a window seat lover like me, the huge electrochromism-based smart glass windows were the coolest thing! There was a small stopover at Doha and then we headed to our destination, Istanbul. In the first look itself, Istanbul looked beautiful. Clean roads lined with lawns and trees and with an amazing view of sea, fast moving cars and a pleasant weather just like Bangalore.
We checked in at the Zeynep Sultan Hotel. It had been recently renovated. Had a nice, small and cozy room at a reasonable price in the heart of the city. Major landmarks like the Blue mosque were at a walking distance from our hotel.
We were mainly busy at the conference. It is the first tier 1 conference i have attended. And the difference was obvious. Met people from all over the world. Had interesting discussions during breaks. Our presentation was good. Also attended many other talks and presentations. Saw many posters and demos. So many tracks went on parallelly that sometimes i wished i could be in multiple places at the same time! It was a great learning experience. It was cool to meet so many people from around the world who are all excited about a particular subject (MAS). Also got to see the amazing high quality work that gets accepted in a top conference. I hope i will do more such quality work and present in similar conferences in future 🙂
We also visited the SoSLab of the Boagazici CS department. The university is beautifully located with a wonderful view of the strait. It has a lush green campus situated uphill. Had interesting conversation with the Prof. and students of the lab. Talked about topics like topic modelling, annotations, social semantics, sentiment analysis etc.
Did some sight-seeing in the evenings and over the weekend. Istanbul is a huge city with so many places to see that even a week will be less. The two major highlights of our tour were – the Bosphorus cruise, a two hour cruise with a breathtaking view! We saw wild dolphins! It was awesome 🙂 There were a lot of jellyfishes in the strait. The view on both sides was beautiful with lots of mosques, high end houses with there own yachts, huge suspension bridges and deep blue water and sky! The second highlight was our visit to the Galata tower, one of the oldest towers of the world! Its like the Eiffel tower of Istanbul. The view from up the tower just cannot be described in words! I could stand there forever. The blue strait, houses on slopes with orange slanted roofs, the European and the Asian side and the cool breeze! Enjoyed snacks in the cafe at the top of the tower 🙂 We descended via stairs and saw the tower’s built from the inside with the stony walls and small openings for natural light. We travelled by the world’s second oldest tram which was literally pulled uphill using huge automatic pulleys! Also went to the blue mosque and the gulhane park which were close to our hotel. I promise i will wake up early morning everyday and go for a walk if i have a park like gulhane park close to my house 😉 Huge trees, blooming flowers, chirping birds, lush green lawns, Turkish tea and an amazing view of the strait!
We thought food might be a problem as we are vegetarian. However we mostly found something good to eat 🙂 The breakfast at our hotel was good. I have never tasted such juicy strawberries before. One must try figs and olives in Istanbul. Also tried turkish bread and pizza which was yummy. Our plain Indian dal is called lentil soup in Turkey 😛 which was also good. We found a pure vegetarian restaurant and had delicious falafel! Tried so many new dishes. For food connoisseurs like us it was fun 🙂
The grand finale of our trip was the idyllic time we spent at a cafe in the gulhane park overlooking the Bosphorus. It was a calm and peaceful evening. The sky was slowly changing colours and slowly it was getting dark. And then gradually the Asian side lit up! The view was fantastic. Ships and yachts were sailing across the Bosphorus. We had a yummy HUGE baked stuffed potato (which we craved for since day one :P) and endless cups of turkish tea over interesting discussions. If only time could be paused, i would have paused it then… forever.
Overall, this trip has been an amazing experience. Its a treasured memory for a lifetime 🙂 Rarely things turn out to be better that what we imagine (atleast for me) however this Istanbul trip is an exception, it turned out to be much much more awesome than what i had dreamt 🙂
Bag of words…
Blue. Water. Fishing rods. Selfie Sticks. Reflections. Huge bridges. Speeding cars. Trams. Dolphins! Jelly fishes. Sea Gulls. Birthday. Cruise. Chilly winds. Galata tower. Sloping orange roofed houses. 2 and 4 engine jets leaving streaks in sky. Long walks. Useful pre-trip advice. Turkish music which sounded same. Blue mosque. Huge grand bazaar. Byzantine ruins. MG Road. Full moon background and mosque minarets. Blue symbol which wards off evil. European windows which open from all sides! Royal shoe polishers. Cats. Lots of cats. Extroverts. Sufi round-round dance 😛 Pide. Strawberries. Olives. Natural Jams. Honey. Huge bread loafs. Vegetable salad. Hot chocolate. Cakes. Different varieties of cheese. Copper tea pots. Mini rice cooker. 3 course rice meal. Fast trams on road. Ice cream vendors. Turkish delights. Baklava. Dry fruits. Spices. Saffron. Sumac. Aryan (buttermilk). Kurus fasulye (white beans cooked in tomato gravy). Geeky jokes 🙂 Asterix and Obelix. Morse code. ᗅᗺᗷᗅ. Big Bang Theory. Skype Watsapp Viber. Greenery. Blooming flowers. LOTS of pics. Memories. HAPPINESS.
Some key takeaways…
A line which makes us happy when we are sad and sad when we are happy – “This too shall pass!”.
Never give up. Even in case of failure, make the corrections and try again!
Sometimes things may not seem to be perfect immediately, but in hindsight, they mostly do!
All the hard-work, perseverance and tons of effort seems to be worth it and more when we visit places and attend top conferences.
A tier 1 conference is actually number 1 in the quality of work and diversity of gathering!
Well maintained water bodies and/or historic relics within city can boost tourism.
If the people have basic civic sense, even a city of 14.4 million people can be spotlessly clean.
Cats looking like statues may actually be real. 😛 Cats and dogs can happily coexist! Cats actually do not care! 😀
Traffic woes are the same everywhere!
Trip hangovers can last reallllly long. Even after a week, sometimes i feel i am in Istanbul!
Thanks a lot to my Prof. under whose guidance i did my Masters thesis. I look upto him. I have learnt a lot from him, about the interesting courses he taught in college and more importantly about philosophy of life! Thanks a lot for being my guru and mentor!
Thanks to my employer for funding my trip and giving me this amazing opportunity of presenting and attending the conference.
Istanbul is a beautiful city. An amazing conglomeration of people, religions and cultures. Hope i get an opportunity to visit Istanbul again! My first foreign visit is like a cluster of happy memories! I have enjoyed each and every moment of the trip. Hope to have many more such experiences in future 🙂 Life’s good ! 🙂
Two years have passed! Yes, two awesome years 🙂 It seems like yesterday when i had applied for masters at IIIT-B. It seemed to be perfect to me in every way. The news of being shortlisted for interviews… The preparation for interview… And then my first visit to Bangalore, which became my favourite since day one and then IIIT-B! The campus just wooed my heart. It is a small cozy place. I distinctly remember sitting for my turn for the admission interviews and looking outside of the windows to the huge trees which lined the entrance, that’s when i had thought that i just want to be in this place. Interviews were good and i had a nice quick trip. And then the acceptance letter sent me on cloud nine 🙂 I was sooo happy!
Joined IIIT-B on July 13th, 2012. Met people from all over India. Its always a bit difficult for me to make friends, however somehow we just all got together! I had the coolest gang of gals here 🙂 Initially everything felt a bit new, somewhat different. But since i have already stayed in hostel during my undergrad days, i could gel in soon. New place, new friends, new weather, new food, new languages and thus overall a new life 🙂
Initially for around one and half months we had prep semester, where we studied the basics and got ourselves adjusted to the new life. I still remember the Linux installations and system crashes 😛 The seniors were all very helping and ready to guide their “juniors”. Our 2nd floor hostel corridors used to be packed sometimes when we all were listening to seniors’ advice. It was just the beginning of the life ahead. During this time, learnt and practiced basic programming and mathematics.
Very soon it was time to begin the first semester. The SAC elections, the campaigning both online and off-line. The freshers party! And then the serious stuff started. Four subjects, random project team allocations, whole night project meetings, coding, numerous demos and vivas by TAs, quizzes, mid-sem and finals. Sometimes it all seemed too difficult. But then we had seniors as our inspiration. They had been through this and so we felt that we could do it as well!
But it was not all that hard! There was always preparation going on for some festival. Had a great time celebrating so many Indian festival with friends from all over India. Enjoyed the matki-fod Janamashtami, awesome Diwali with firecrackers, beautiful flower rangolis on Onam, one day Ganesh puja, Republic day and Independence day and many more. These special events added spice in daily life and made it more colorful. And then there were Ravali calls every now and then on birthdays 😉
Second semester started and it was time to choose the specialization. Time to choose two electives. Time to be part of a lab. For some it was easy, while for others it was very difficult to choose. However very soon things fell into place. Everyone was busy again doing some awesome projects in courses and labs. Second semester is awesome for two reasons: SPANDAN – It is the time for all IIIT-B students and alumni to meet and enjoy playing and watching sports for three days. You ask any IIITBian and they will say that Spandan is perhaps the best time and it seems as though we are in a different world altogether! And the second special event of the second semester is Open House. This is the time when we present our work to the outside world. Had a great time giving demos and presentations and got some amazing feedback and suggestions. And then very soon, again its time for final project submissions, demos and exams.
Then we had a mini semester called the summer sem. During this time, we studied some management lessons and technical communication. Being tech guys, management lessons were somewhat difficult for us to grasp initially. Had a great time in TC presentations, movie and book reviews and most of all the Mad-ads 🙂 Our group’s product was an umbrella, and i must say it was a really cool multipurpose umbrella 😉
Third semester started and it was time to be ready for placements! Oh those days! It was difficult to handle both studies and placements. Those group studies. Those intense problem solving sessions. Karumanchi, the hottest book on campus during placements. It was so much in demand that it was out of stock on every online portal. Some amazing KSMs by our classmates. It was all very stressful but finally worth it! The placement week. The written rounds. The coding rounds. A few rejections… This is the time when “real friends” supported and motivated. And then sweet success 🙂
At IIIT-B, one does regular coursework+projects for three semesters and the last semester is for either internship or thesis. In these three semesters i studied some amazing subjects, taught by some of the most awesome profs i have ever met. They were always there to guide and support and to clarify doubts if any. I was a member of OSL lab (later renamed to Web Science Lab, WSL) and got to do some cool projects. Experienced some fantastic unconventional ways of teaching and learning. The projects taught us to get our hands dirty, work on some real problems and to work in teams and manage the group. Overall it was awesome experience.
In my final semester, i choose to do thesis as i was highly interested in an area and had an amazing Prof. as my guide. And i am very proud to say that it has been one of the best decision of my life. These six months have been perhaps the best days of my life till now. I have never been so happy 🙂 I did some cool experiments and simulations. Had numerous brain storming sessions and discussions to crystallize the ideas and generate appropriate results. Time just flew when i did my work. It was not work but play for me, as i enjoyed doing it. During this time, I realized that sometimes, its difficult to understand the implications of one’s own work! In such scenario, one needs a guide who has wisdom to see the bigger picture and who can connect the dots. I also understood that academic writing is very different from regular writing. It needs to be a lot more diligent and precise. This semester showed me my area of interest, my potential and what all i can do ahead! Also i have completed a full circle at IIIT-B. Gave my M.Tech thesis defense in the same classroom where i waited for my turn for admission interview!
Some random pointers of IIIT-B – the green lawns, the mini pond, ducks and rabbits, lots of squirrels, the orange tree (African tulip tree) in front of my window, awesome independent room, MCR, smart boards, colorful canteen, mid-night Maggie, sandwiches and fruit juice, walks around the campus, small terrace on the 2nd floor, the musical fountain, the basketball court, table-tennis games, Spic Macay programs, Philosophy Club meetings, Movie sessions, i guess i can go on and on 🙂 There are so many things that flash in my mind when i think of IIIT-B.
And now time ticks by. Earlier i used to wait for the convocation day but now i want time to slow down… Very soon it will be time to throw the graduation caps high in the sky. To be there, together, for the group pic. And then to wave good byes. I know it’s going to be difficult. Very difficult. IIIT-B has been like heaven for me. I have realized my potential here. I have understood what i am capable of doing. I am ready to face life ahead. It gave me some close friends for lifetime. It showed me, my area of interest for which my brain jumps with excitement and interest. I was lucky to study and work under the guidance of some of the most amazing profs here who are experts in their field. IIIT-B thanks for making me what i am today ! When i see myself now and myself two years earlier, i can clearly see a transformed myself. Adieu to MT2012 batch! Had a great time with all of you. It’s the memories which will be cherished forever! And finally, IIIT-B, my Alma mater, thanks for everything!
Black and white keys together,
Can create a melody unheard,
Pressing the right keys at the right moment,
Can generate a melodious tune,
It can play any instrument whether guitar, sitar or flute,
It has numerous options to choose an accompanying tune.
It uplifts my mood when i feel low,
And makes me euphoric when i am happy,
It is like a time machine,
Which can transcend me in a new different world,
Which is filled with melodies and tunes.
Like a good friend, it is always there,
Waiting for me to switch it on,
And to play a new song …
Sometimes i may not play it for days,
However even on everyday objects,
Sometimes my fingers glide as tough on a keyboard.
Just a glace of it gives me immense joy,
A new tune on it energizes my mind.
I keep practicing and improving this skill,
A little bit more, a new step ahead each day,
I need to learn playing keyboard by my left hand,
The neurons of my brain to learn this trick.
Sometimes it takes a lot of time to catch a new tune,
However, i always keep trying till its perfect,
All it needs a little patience and practice,
And then the results are fantastic !
My keyboard is an instrument spreading melody and joy,
Its keys are the steps leading to a dreamland.
2013 has been a wonderful year for me. Now when i look back, i feel as if it just zoomed away. I learnt new lessons, met new people, increased my friends circle. Some of major highlights of the year 2013 which i can recall are as follows –
It has been a year of learning. 2013 was the last year when i studied formal courses of M.Tech at IIIT-B. Learnt many new and interesting concepts. Some of them actually left me amazed ! Worked with many Profs. Did some interesting projects. Gave the last exam !
Took the decision of doing thesis instead of internship in the final semester of M.Tech. It has been one of the best decision i have made. I am enjoying every moment of the work i am doing. This is the most amazing work i have ever done ! Hope to get some new and interesting results. Looking forward to the next six months of research. I have realized that doing what we love, can give us maximum happiness, maximum satisfaction.
A year of firsts – I did many things for the first time in 2013. Tried new things, had new experiences. The ones that i can recall now are as follows – Watched the first 3D movie (Frozen, it was amazing !), attended the first conference, published the first paper, presented first poster (at Open House), first time went on a tour without parents, first birthday away from home (but also one of the best), first time traveled in a metro, got my first job …
I gave the best gift to my parents on their 25th marriage anniversary, a “Gold Medal” for being first in B.E. in the Computer Engineering department of Gujarat Technological University (GTU). The best thing was that my convocation was on their anniversary day (19th Jan). Mom and Dad, I am proud to be your daughter. It is because of you both, i am, what i am today 🙂 I know thanks is too small a word but still, thanks a lot for everything !!!
Increased my friends circle. Our gang of girls increased from 5 to 7. It has been a great support system. A family away from home. These are people whom you can call even at 2 AM to talk. I will miss our long mid-night walks and then sandwiches + fruit juice in canteen, our shopping trips, our study sessions together, our meals in canteen. Thanks a lot guys for being there ! Lets all be friends forever 🙂 This year brought us all closer and bonded us even better. I also realized that it can be very difficult to wave goodbye to your close friends.
This was the year when most of the festivals were celebrated away from home. Be it lighting up the hostel on Diwali, or the colorful fun with colors on Holi or the beautiful flower rangoli on Onam or the most awaited three-day long Spandan-The Sports Fest at IIIT-B or the ethnic day celebrations. Celebrating festivals can be fun with friends.
I have always believed that its better to be alone than to be with people who don’t match your values and ethics. I have been an introvert in some ways, and never initiated conversations with strangers for example while travelling or at other public places. Thus i have a small close-knit friend circle of a few close friends. I have always enjoyed my own company and hence i can say with full confidence that being alone can be also be fun ! However, this year i have also realized that making friends can be easy if the wavelength of the other person matches yours.
This has been a musical year for me. Thanks to the SpicMacay events at IIIT-B, other performances and lots and lots of YouTube musical videos, it has been an enchanting and euphonious year. I am planning to learn a new musical instrument next year. I will update about it later. Music is food for soul. It has the magical power to transcend us to a new different world. Music can refresh the brain even after a long and tiring day.
This year for the first time a visited a home for physically and mentally challenged girl child, Swanthana. All i can say is that, i was completely moved. Our problems, our setbacks, our challenges, our sorrows are nothing, yes believe me NOTHING once you see their life. But still they SMILE (and it can bring tears in anyone’s eyes). To read my full experience, click here.
I am looking forward to 2014. I hope it is a great year full of new ideas, new experiences, new lessons, new friends and new learning. Wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous new year 2014 ! May all your dreams come true. May you get all that you deserve and more !
I was watching this video, in which children sing what happiness means to them. Thus i got the idea of this blog post. Here i would like to share what happiness means to me. Most of these i have experienced, while some i am yet to experience. I will keep adding more …
Happiness is clicking perfect pictures, Swinging on swing, Watching a floating leaf.
Happiness is lush greenery, Blooming flowers, Gazing starry sky.
Happiness is watching a sunrise, Bird soaring high, Pleasant cool breeze.
Happiness is soothing music, Chirping birds, Peaceful silence.
Happiness is midnight sandwich party, Lots of chocolates, Home Mom made food.
Happiness is old photos, Surprise visit home, Meeting old friends.
Happiness is shopping spree, Long drives, Reading new books.
Happiness is publishing new blog post, Blast of new post ideas (at 3 AM ) Getting Freshly Pressed.
Happiness is motivating teachers, Parents like friends, Few close friends.
Happiness is knowing something new, Learning to do it too, Gaining expertise.
Happiness is being engrossed in yourself, Spending quality time alone, Introspecting.
Happiness in being yourself, Listening to others, Doing what you thing is right.
Happiness is taking a stand, Lending a helping hand, Spreading fun and joy.
Happiness is listening to people, Getting new ideas, Making new friends.
Happiness is sheer pure bliss, Feeling of immense joy, Bringing big smiles on faces 🙂
Happiness is joy of small things, Journey of life, Wisdom from experiences.
Today is the day which i will remember throughout my life. I gave the last exam (Geographic Information System) of 20 years of academics from Nursery to M.Tech 🙂 In future if i do a PhD, may be i will give more exams but as of now this is the last one.
Assuming there are 10 subjects to study each year. 4 exams every year – 2 tests, a half yearly and a final. This means 40 exams every year for 20 years. OMG i have given around 800 exams till now !!! Even i can’t believe it 😉 But even after giving so many exams i always had exam stress. That’s because i am a perfectionist. And since 100% perfection is impossible to achieve, i was never 100% satisfied with my preparation for exams. Till the last moment i felt i could do something more. I know grades are not everything, its our attitude and work that defines the direction in which we move ahead in life. But still i was always worried. The stress, the tension, the anxiety OMG !!! I am sure exams are the biggest stress causing agents in a student’s life. Anyways the exams have ended for me for now. And i am very very happy 🙂
Seriously, can’t a better technique be devised to test one’s understanding of a subject. Are exams the only way out ? Is it right to study only for doing well in exams ? (Most do that !) What about the stress which sometimes degrades our performance in exams ? And also are we not limited by the syllabus of the exam ? (Who has time to study something extra, right!) I was lucky to take two courses which are graded differently. Its called Mandate oriented learning, a technique devised by Prof. Srinath. Click here to know more. I liked it a lot as it gave me the freedom to study topics as per my choice and style. It aims that the class as a whole has a collective understanding of the subject and thus we got a platform to share what we understood with one another.
Life itself is an exam and every day is a new challenge. I am sure after giving ~ 1000 exams i am ready to face the exam of life ! It is probably the most difficult exam as the syllabus is unknown, it is a surprise test, you cannot copy from anyone, no one can teach it, it can only be learnt by one-self, others can only share their wisdom. But however hard it may be, bring it on !!! I am ready 🙂
On a lighter note, i would like to share my happiness with all of you with this video. Enjoy!!!
With an image, video and text in this post, i can also submit this in the Weekly Writing Challenge – Multimedia Storytelling.
This week’s “Weekly Photo Challenge” encouraged me to go back in time and see a flashback of my life till now. It feels just yesterday when i used to go to school, enjoy vacations and play with my friends. Time actually flies very very fast. It feels so good to have a look at the old photographs. Its only sweet memories which we are left with, to ponder, recollect and enjoy the old times.
I recalled my first school. I recollected how we friends used to go walking holding the hands of Aaya. I still remember the green abacus kept in a corner of my school which had intrigued me a lot. Reciting poems in class, doing homework, participating in games and fancy dress competitions (I had got first prize for being Indira Gandhi :)). I can see a video recording of all these events as if it is being played in front of my eyes !
Then we got shifted to the colony, so that i could have more friends. My life changed ! I made so many new friends. Every evening we used to play. I remember, we even played during exams and yet performed well. Hide and seek, ice and water, hopscotch, racing, cycling, climbing trees, dark room etc were the games we played apart from badminton, carom, basketball, chess and table tennis. You name it and we played it 🙂 Then there were fun filled birthday parties, the return gifts, the tasty dishes, sweets and chocolates, it was so much fun. We also used to fight with each other for various reasons. Now the reasons may look silly but at that time it mattered a lot to us. However all fights and misunderstandings were forgotten and each day was a fresh new day. We never held any grudges for one another.
“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
―Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
The picture above shows me with my companion “my maroon Hero bicycle” when i was 7 years old. I was so proud of my bicycle. It was my surprise birthday gift ! It was a big transition for me from a tricycle to a bicycle. I still remember how my Dad used to teach me cycling every evening. I used to wait for him to come back from office and teach me how to cycle. The roads lined by lush green trees, the fresh air, the chirping birds, it was all fantastic ! In the beginning the bicycle was so huge for me that i could not even sit on the seat or take a complete round of the pedals. But i myself don’t remember when i started racing with my friends. Off course there were a lot of scrapped knees followed by tetanus injections, but i guess it made me stronger and braver 🙂 Later on we used to do cycling every evening on the broad roads, chatting together. We would get so engrossed, that we just forgot about the distance we had covered. Later at night when our legs pained, did we realize that perhaps we had cycled lot more than our capacity 🙂
I think childhood is the best time to imbibe a lot of skills in children. I hindsight i realize we learnt leadership, team management, time management, handling difficult people, facing challenges and so many other skills without even intentionally learning them. These skills can only be learnt practically. No book or teacher can teach you these skills in a classroom. Thus childhood is the best time to inculcate various qualities which are useful later in life. There cannot be a better teacher than our own experience.
I will conclude with a small poem written by me on childhood –
Childhood is the best time to learn and grow
To inculcate and nurture the seed you sow
Play games and make so many new friends
Not to give a damn about the latest trends
Enjoy life and be happy each and every new day
Not to be apprehensive of the mysteries future lays
To fight with friends and then forgive & forget
Not to worry about the deadlines that are set
If life seems to be so good from a child’s view
Then lets bring back the child, whom we bid adieu !