Most Indians do not traditionally conform to the laws of the world. Or the ones that were raised in the great land, anyway. The world follows civil laws, we scoff at them. Everyone in every other corner of the world wants to go to India, to ‘find themselves’. Me? I was raised in India, and I wanted to leave to ‘find myself’. Graduate school was just a ticket to attempting to become a better person.
When we began graduate school, all I wanted to do was to get out. But, like all of my best-laid plans in life thus far, that didn’t go quite as planned. It took one whole Fall for me to get used to the TP-user lifestyle.
Yet, today, all I can think about is this Linkin Park (old,yes) song..
Sitting in an empty room
Trying to forget the past
This was never meant to last
I wish it wasn't so....
Like I did say before, things change. And so do people. In the middle of the spring, some among the best friends, and above all human beings I met through Duke were about to leave. Just like that, in a fleeting flash. However, self-absorption is an unfortunate consequence of personal failings. Somewhere along the countless rejections, I lost sight of what should’ve been crystal clear: it’s about the person you become, not the Consultant/PM/Data Scientist. It never was to begin with. Life in graduate school is at its core, about what a dear friend and I concocted over coffee : Information, Inference and Impact. What you learn, how you take it, and what change you can bring to people’s lives (and your own) with it. And in that self-absorption, I never even paused to think about the fact that people’s lives were changing; for the better, for the greater. And to think that all I wanted, was an internship.
An ode to those whose lives changed before mine! I miss you 🙂
Going far, far away and living alone was an incredible experience. That, was the original plan – to push myself , to learn and become a less dependent person. California taught me about common problems such as lack of money (Upmanyu, anyone?), but something far, far bigger – lack of my community around. Having no one to share my cheap thrills with, barring a few days, made me appreciate Duke and the Duke MEM community on a deeper level.
To this day, in my view, coming back to Duke for the third semester was the greatest independent decision I’ve ever taken. Taking a step back (and some easy-peezy courses) gave me the chance to look around and feel the weight of my privilege. How many, even among the smartest people I have met in life, get to live this dream? To stand where history has been made, greats have lived, worked and learned!
Feeling some of that history!
And in this final semester, the real bagal blast began. Many of my supremely smart, sensible and talented batch-mates had had identical summers to mine, and truly begun to value and cherish everyone, and everything that Duke brought with it.
Thus ends a journey that made me a cook, a pseudo homeowner, an adult, a responsible man, a stressed grad student, a hair loss victim, a comedian, a mimic, a friend, and above all – a better person.
And, in hindsight, that is all that ever mattered!
Goodbye Duke, thank you for us. Thank you for everything we are, everything we’ve become. I am stronger today, and at the same time, weaker. Without all of you.
Dedicate this also to that one friend that sang a wildly emotional song, that ruined everyone’s mood. I hope, in my way, that I managed to do the exact same!
-Finally, a letterfrombetter!