I am not quite there… The hairline has receded, though the shining baldness of ‘Derrick’ is still not visible. And although Chhichhore seemed so wonderfully close to life, this was perhaps the only part where it wasn’t… none of the actors had developed bellies… Mine is out, yet its under check. It has been 12-13 years since the college.. and it will be 12-13 more before its time for the kids… Yet chhichhore is so wonderfully close to life.
I was none of the characters, yet I had a bit of all of them… Upon entering the college, the first thing which a senior asked was “girlfriend hai teri?” instead of “hilata hai?” (which btw got asked later countless number of times).. and I was like ‘Mummy’ haww… kya paap wali baat kar rahe ho… Instead of the pole dance, I was asked to play a director shooting a (dummy, all boys, all clothes on) porn film. We had so many ‘Acids’ and had so many ‘Sexas’ (haha don’t wanna tag anyone, though friends are welcome to tag themselves) and perhaps later on, we ourselves became those. ‘Ani’ of course were very few for the obvious reason, only Siddarth Wardhan comes to mind. And that obvious reason is of course that there was no ‘maya’ .. haha
We didn’t have ‘GC’… we had ‘galaxy’ instead… And I was none of the protagonists, definitely not ‘Ani’ (the closest I get to him was that he was AIR 84, I was AIR 45, but that’s it) … I was good at nothing. So they just put me in the labor force cutting thermocol and cardboards for the backdrop… But I did that day and night, for weeks… for the hostel and the pride… until the galaxy got scrapped…
But life became ‘GC’ and me a ‘loser’… My first year CGPA was 8.6, which in itself was a disappointment for the AIR 45. But I consoled myself into believing that this was my ‘zero effort’ CGPA. Next year it was 6.8 haha. And just when I thought things could go no worse, 5th semester came and I got 3.6! For that too, I am grateful to the IIT Kanpur’s grading system which gives 2 for failing, otherwise it would have been around 1.6! And of course, more than towards the grading system, I am grateful to the 2 professors who barely passed me giving ‘D’ when they rightfully should have failed me.
I was so ashamed, yet I pretended to be not affected. I tried to cut myself off from reality… from the world. I knew I had failed, so when a friend came to my hostel room to give me this news, I pretended to be cool by just turning around while playing ‘Age of Empires’, saying ‘thik hai’ and returning to the game. I had told my parents I had flunked in only 1 course that semester (whereas in reality I had flunked in 2) because it was sooooo embarrassing. When they eventually found out, I was in Germany on internship, playing guess what, Age of empires again, so thankfully didn’t have to face them then.
It’s very bad when your near and dear ones who were once so proud of you feel ashamed because of you. But it is still liveable feeling. The real pain comes when you yourself start feeling ashamed of yourself… because you can cut yourself off from the rest of the world like I did, but you can’t cut yourself off from yourself… every living moment becomes hell.
And I lived that hell. My ordeal didn’t end there, it continued. Failed once more in final semester, got my degree extended… missed that convocation which should have been mine (oh, can words ever capture the emotions I was going through when I came back to campus a day before that convocation and while on the rickshaw from the IITK gate to the hostel, so desperately tried not to look right towards the auditorium where that convocation was going to be held on the following day and where I should have been but I want going to be)… got rejected from 6 IIM interviews over 2 years (back then there were only 6), spent the night grieving over the first 2 rejections on the roof of the hostel with Saurabh Kapoor, before getting accepted by IIM Lucknow… Actually to say just ‘rejected’ would still be honourable… got really ‘trolled’ and made a mockery of myself in those interviews… got rejected in 5 campus placement interviews before getting selected in the 6th (and that too only because the interviewer got a phone call from his friend during the interview and basically spent entire time chatting with him and took me perhaps because of my JEE rank and computer science department) … And as fate would have it, got rejected even by them later on coz got my degree extended…. So basically I was 2 days from graduating from one of the finest colleges in the country with no job in hand (until a senior helped in getting one). It was not just an academic failure, but seemed a life failure. We all have grand plans for success, but there is none for failure.
Actually, we become so busy in chasing success that we become scared of failures and they appear even bigger… sometimes bigger than even life. In reality, successes or failures don’t matter. What matters more is living life – enjoying what you are doing and keep on doing that.
I am glad I didn’t give up at that time. ‘It’s very easy to quit… all you gotta do is raise your hands and say I quit. The tough part is to carry on’ – says Saurav Ganguly aka Dada. I am glad I carried on. Instead of trying to reach a destination, I started enjoying the journey. Destination actually became immaterial. I never went into IIM to have a better career or higher salary. I went there because I wanted to study more. Even there, I didn’t study to get the gold medal or something, I merely studied because I enjoyed studying every minute I did. Yes, the gold medal and one of the best campus placements happened, but they were not the driving force. I enjoyed trading every bit at Citigroup and left it only when I started enjoying studying history and economics and geography and polity more. And I never studied for IAS to become an IAS (I would have, for instance, never prepared for it had it required something else say dancing to become one), I studied simply coz I enjoyed doing it. Yes, it was nice to get selected and that too with rank 1, but see, the process in itself held sufficient kicks for me to keep going. The journey itself became beautiful enough for me. I would not have regretted it even if I had not gotten selected.
It’s not easy… its always a struggle and perhaps shall always remain… but only do things which you enjoy doing. Don’t do them just because you want to be or appear successful. Don’t become a slave of success. Embrace failures. Enjoy them.