Looking beyond the AIEEE

Tonight I share an article where my father expresses his views on a situation many Indian parents end up facing  –
9th June, 2012 11:44pm
I was half sleep when a text message woke me up. It read – ‘AIEEE 4111′. It was from one of my ex-colleagues whose son was aspiring for an admission to one of the top engineering institutes in the country. The rank, 4111, was a really excellent one  in the AIEEE exam, considering especially that more than a million candidates appeared for the exam in May. In fact, what makes this rank even more remarkable is the fact that the first 3000 – 3500 students may not even join any of the institutes available through the exam as they would be most probably be joining one of the IITs or dropping an year to improve their JEE ranks the next year.
The message made me wonder about 2 other students, whose parents I knew.  I informed them immediately that the AIEEE results were out. On calling them the next day, I found out that one of them had secured a rank of 45,000 while other had ranked around 2,35,000. Creditable as they were, such is the cut-throat level of competition for the limited number of seats, that they would normally not be enough to make it to one of the  nationally reputed top engineering colleges.
The first question that came to my mind was – What should be the next step for these two students ? What if one of them was my own son or daughter? Would I consider this a failure on my child’s part? Sadly, in India, most parents do. What they need to realize is that this is definitely not the end of the road; but rather a great chance to explore other exciting education and career opportunities. We have, over the years ended up building a regime of expectations from our children, where the two most direct routes are –
Engineer -> MBA
In my view, only if a student is really interested in the various engineering courses offered, has appeared for other entrance exams like the BITSAT or State entrance exams and scored well, should he/she opt for pursuing the engineering route. To me, it makes no sense what so ever, in both settling for a mediocre institute or in bluntly keeping on banging for an engineering birth by dropping an year (and possibly more). I would rather sit with my son; discuss our options; take a hard, long look at his interests; and pursue a field that would play to his confidence.
I would not really go into great detail, but here are some of the opportunities (assuming a science background in the +2 years of school) you might want to explore if you find yourself in a similar situation –
-A direct officer level entry to the Indian Navy (Logistics Branch) or a Marine engineering degree through the navy or otherwise.
-Look for an esteemed career with the Indian Army beginning at the NDA
-If you have a penchant to sketching or design, try for an admission to one of the top architecture or fashion design institutes.
-Take up an under-graduate course in Hotel Management or Business.
-Take up a course in sciences if your child has a dream for it. Remember, there are always excellent opportunities available in R&D, especially in bio-sciences, pharmaceuticals, space, etc.
-There are several courses very similar in structure and opportunities to engineering like BSc (IT), BSc (Computer Sciences). One could always pursue them even whilst preparing for another attempt at the engineering exams, instead of entirely wasting an year.
The list is of course long, and great success always follows wherever passion and hard-work are. I can only advise and eventual success depends upon the individual’s drive. In the end, it is of utmost importance to understand the psyche of each individual student and providing the right counsel.
– Sudhir Kumar Pant
With over 30 years of experience in IT & Telecommunication, Sudhir is one of the founder members of the safalmantra initiative and the prime visionary behind the idea. Over the years, his counsel and initiative has been helpful to many young students looking for the best career option.


Have been putting together a few lines since last night. Not sure if they’re any good, but the drive creating them felt like a sense of something strong.

Sometimes I wish the fish I was swimming with, just like the ocean, they were blue too
That way, when we swam, I won’t know anything about you
It scares me though, will they forget all about me too

बुझी बुझी आखों से देखते हो तुम
सोचते हो तुम कहीं छुप जाएं
छुप जाएं दूर, उस जहान में जहां डर ना हो ना हो बंदिशें
छुप जाएं उन बाहों में, उन आखों में, उनकी छाओं में जहां ज़िन्दगी बस ख़ुशी हो
जहां ना तो ये मायूसी हो और ना ये सूनी आवारगी हो

छुप जाएं उन पत्तियों की खिल खिलाहट में, उन भीनी हवाओं के झोकों में, उस गीली मिटटी की खुशबू में
कभी छुपें ऐसे कि बचपन की यादों में खो जाएँ
कभी छुपे ऐसे कि फिर कभी न मिल पाएँ

मेरे शब्दों में शायद वो बात ना हो, शायद अब वो एहसास ना हो
पर इन ख्यालों, ख्वाबों, लफ़्ज़ों, इन अल्फाजों को गर मैं कागज़ पे न उतारू
तो शायद आज जो मेरे साथ है, कल वो मौका भी मेरे पास ना हो

Fuel for my words ?

If there’s a place called “limbo” for real, it has to be this one, the one I live in right now. Its directionless; neither a happy nor a sad one; pretty much the stop-start mornings; idle, lethargic afternoons; vacant evenings, and long, tiring nights; this is a lazy place and its pretty much as meaningless as “vovomp” is (although I believe vovomp will have its fair share of google results). I don’t know how things led to other things, which finally led to my being here, but here I am, and there’s no reason to believe this is going anywhere.

In this place, you’re a procrastinator to dreaming; your work just passes you by; unmotivated, too tired to act, you walk around, laugh as people do, cringe when it comes to doing anything you don’t like; nothing amuses you anyways, you’re just putting up a smile, just so that you don’t seem to be outside. You have no thoughts on your future, in fact it scares you; you have no interest looking back into the past because it doesn’t hold anything you’d want to go back to; and the present, the present is just existence, gliding through time, ticking the seconds, the minutes and the hours by; from one eerie Floyd to another, as days come and go, from one weekend to another, from one guilt-ridden morning after a night of “binging” to another;  endless, recurring, endless

By now, it must be clear how difficult it should be putting these thoughts together into words as I write here, given my “condition”; but its time I did, if not for anything/anyone (and most of what people write, has always been about someone or another), just for keeping a record of this time, this place, this moment in this life. In all probability, this piece will make for some very boring reading (for anyone who bothers to read it at all), but then much of what is out there to read, is boring (again, for me, and right now).

I’ll probably end with some words I remember from this movie I happened to watch sometime back, pointless and blunt just like I am right now –

Look out the window. And doesn’t this remind you of when you were in the boat, and then later than night, you were lying, looking up at the ceiling, and the water in your head was not dissimilar from the landscape, and you think to yourself, “Why is it that the landscape is moving, but the boat is still?”

Life, when its passing you by, is as seen from that funny little boat, and the sky is pale blue, and the water, pale and still too.


(Disclaimer – All images are snapshots from IGN’s 2010 game Limbo. No copyright violation intended)

Little Seeping Thoughts

Sometimes you drift into things you’ve wanted to avoid for a long, long time. You want to just find out a little bit more, go that little bit further, when your mind says to stop, but you really can’t stop. You know it’ll burn you eventually, but its just sweet enough to take the burns. They’re thoughts that just keep seeping through your system, slowly, relentlessly.

You had vowed to never take that road again, and you can already see the futility it is leading to, and you start expecting things you know won’t surface. And you wait, and you wait.

And you get the same outcomes. Instead, Peace out, don’t wait, burn the bridges behind you, and if you had burned them already, don’t try to create them again.

The Enlightenment

Have you ever had this moment, this moment where you’re left dumbstruck, with retrospection, forced to look into yourself, everything you’ve been through, and where you’ve reached? And yet, at that moment you’re a lot more wiser, maybe not so much in actions, but in understanding the reasons, and you know a lot more, so much more.

Two weeks back, I had come home during the weekend, and I was waiting for the elevator, beneath my building. As I stood there, in the monotony of my pathetic little life, three kids came jumping around, discussing something. On listening in, I found out they were discussing their Beyblades ( or Tazzos ) or something. And they were really animated about it, passionate as they could be. Soon after, came in another couple of kids, and this one kid from the latter group started jeering about some particular beyblade he had acquired. All the kids were seemingly awestruck by this new acquisition, when the bully from the original group started shouting, that his beyblade was much cooler than this new one, trying to bring the attention back to himself. A fight ensued with heated shouting, lots of snatching and shoving, and one kid almost coming down to tears. And all this while, I just stood there, shocked, as the elevator door opened and closed on me.

I  stood there because I was dumbstruck, lost for words seeing how passionate these kids were for these little things, while I had become so estranged with the simplicity of life. I was shocked to see how much they could fight over a beyblade, while I had to cope with thousands of frustrations at work, with relationships, betrayals, infatuations, insecurities, expectations, addictions, and the myriad mixtures of the anxieties, moments, the depressions, moments, and the solace-seeking indulgences I had learned to live within. I could see myself, right there, in those kids, in my school days, fighting over Pokemon Tazzos, or Wrestling Cards, or just the simplest things of life. To quote Johnny Cash, “What have I become, my sweetest friend?” Why was life such a struggle now, when it was so simple and happy once? At that precise moment, I could see everything flash right in front of my eyes, and I so desperately wished that those boys never reach here. Their happiness was so real, so pure, unlike my much maligned, broken and superficial laughter.

Haven’t things just become so complicated, that its almost incomprehensible to imagine such naivety ? And, if at that moment, I could just get one wish granted, the wish of my life probably, it would’ve been – take this away god, Give me that back !

And there lied my Nirvana, and that was my Enlightenment.

Learnings from the year that was – 2010 -I

You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by. It’s actions, not words, that matter

But, when we have had ENOUGH we can always REBOOT

When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.

30 minutes or free ( well apparently not )

I ordered in pizzas from Domino’s last night. Being at a friend’s place, I gave the guy on the phone my friends’ address, and asked him to repeat it clearly. After all the confirmations, 25 minutes later i got a call, where the delivery guy asks me if I’m not home. I asked where he was delivering, because I had clearly asked him to deliver at my friend’s place. The guy had gone to my place instead. Eventually, after the entire episode, the pizza guy came over about 50 minutes from the order time. We asked for the free guarantee on the pizzas. But lo ! there’s apparently conditions on the “pizza aiyo free”.


Apparently the maximum Domino’s liability is Rs. 300. So, if your order was above the value, you are only entitled to a discount of the same amount. I can understand the other conditions applied, for e.g. not applicable on festivals, or if the operating conditions are not suitable; but, when, as in this case, the mistake is on the company’s side, and given the way they aggressively go all out with their Free Pizza campaign, it was extremely appalling, when the manager simply asked his guy to give a 300 bucks discount. I mean what? You guys shout it out aloud everywhere, you hire movie stars who dance to the “pizza aiyo free” , in anticipation of late delivery, but the pizza ain’t actually for free, if you deliver late ! Trust issues people !

Why the campaigning then? I mean, and I notice this everywhere, there’s a lots of claims out there. Brands claim to do a million things, they give guarantees of performance, assurances of durability and all with a small ” * ” appended along. The terms and conditions apply on every damn thing. Agreed, without some of these, the companies would risk huge losses to unscrupulous claims. But just denying your USP bluntly, thats just unfair.

Anyways, I took my pizza, and after lots of argument, simply accepted to the “condition”, but for everyone reading this:

Ta na na na na di, pizza’s not for free

Sometime Around Midnight

This is a song from The Airborne Toxic Event ( also of the FIFA 09-Gasoline fame ). It played almost in an infinite loop in my playlists about a couple of months back. Its always left me dumbstruck, probably the most haunting lyrics and tempo I ever heard.

Try and not get lost in the words. Would love to know your favourite lines.

And it starts, sometime around midnight.
Or at least that’s when you lose yourself
for a minute or two.
As you stand, under the bar lights.
And the band plays some song
about forgetting yourself for a while.
And the piano’s this melancholy soundtrack to her smile.
And that white dress she’s wearing
you haven’t seen her for a while.

But you know, that she’s watching.
She’s laughing, she’s turning.
She’s holding her tonic like a cross*.
The room’s suddenly spinning.
She walks up and asks how you are.
So you can smell her perfume.
You can see her lying naked in your arms.

And so there’s a change, in your emotions.
And all these memories come rushing
like feral waves to your mind.
Of the curl of your bodies,
like two perfect circles entwined.
And you feel hopeless and homeless
and lost in the haze of the wine.

Then she leaves, with someone you don’t know.
But she makes sure you saw her.
She looks right at you and bolts.
As she walks out the door,
your blood boiling
your stomach in ropes.
Oh and when your friends say,
“What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Then you walk, under the streetlights.
And you’re too drunk to notice,
that everyone is staring at you.
You just don’t care what you look like,
the world is falling around you.

You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You know that she’ll break you in two.

Why do we fall?

Sometimes you have questions for God, or for whatever power that lurks above, or if neither of those, then just the way things turn out to be.  You question things that you stand for, for everything you believe in, for the good things, the bad things and the grey things, or perhaps just things as they are.

Just stop, stop everything right now, or at a random second of your life. Look around, see where you are, read your own thoughts as they keep popping up, look at the faces, the familiarity, the unfamiliar ones, just close your eyes and see your life on a videotape, and just as the outside noise is cut out and the swarm of people doesn’t exist anymore…just look at you, look at yourself  son. Why are you here? Just marvel the threads that tied and untied, and the connections that got made and undone and why at this moment, this exact drop of time, how did you reach here? Why did you fall?

So that you can rise up again.

Stronger than ever before, harder, softer, wiser, smarter, but more than anything else. Life is every moment you create, it is right now as you read these lines. Whats new today will be old tomorrow, whats fast today will be slow tomorrow. Like Dylan says : The times they are changing.

So you fall, and rise up again, and you fall, so that each time, when you rise up, its a new zeal, its a new day.

So Fall again, Jump again, Run again, Risk again, because when you stand up, you’ll be New again.


Mail Myself:

I stopped being impulsive, full of rage and anger all the time; and yet in the best of times, something pierced and the anger burst out, shouted out. Why?

I broke something, something i knew i’d never break, of all the things; this, i would preserve. I’d remain calm. Why wasn’t I?

Forgiveness, tonight i do not deserve.

Listen !! Start Listening. Try. Try. Try.

Home [again]..not really

Blogging has generally been on now/off then for some while, my apologies.

Life, the daily course of events, the people we meet,  the places we go, the good times, the not so great ones, the laughs, the fights, the comforts, the fears, their reasons, basically everything; keeps doing circles, seems to move on, but ever so slowly. There are times, times of your life, but on other times, they just don’t seem right.

I don’t exactly read too much into fate/destiny et al, but sometimes, just the course of events makes you ponder about why certain things are the way they are, how could they have been better, or did you turn them to the worse, because you were selfish.

Sometimes, I don’t easily get what people try to do with themselves. What makes them happy? Maybe its just the self-centric thing, but some decisions become almost too incomprehensible, too difficult to accept easily. And then, once again the usual cycle of explaining, understanding, the non-understanding, again explaining, and making a very confused, not-exactly-a-yes nod follows. I try non-interference, it becomes ignorance,  i try self-confinement, that becomes attitude, i say fuck it, becomes fuck off.

Makes me realize comic relief is probably the best thing that ever came out. The lighter moments, however insignificant, almost always make life easier, alleviate the pains, and bring back the happiness, however short-lived. Some of the best (recent) comic relief I’ve come across (again this is no order of nothing):

1. The Mock Swine Flu story, my sis told me

2. The Chronicles of Hostel-3 stud(appa)

3. The Ali G show, Borat, Bruno

4. Sarcasm (always works)

5. The Hostel-3 lobby Bak*****

6. The use of Dark Seer by Leon

7. Mumbai touch-ups

8. The time around college et al

9. Lots’ve things actually, invisible, easily lost with time, yet significant, as soon as something sprouts them up, again.

Keep Healthy. Take Care. There’s a lots’ve life out there. Most of it not easy. Live. Relieve.