Thanks to most of my important, formative years carelessly spent at the movies and watching sitcoms, the island of Manhattan was an extremely familiar sight even though I’ve stayed eight thousand miles away from it until a few months ago. It’s what all the fairy tales tell you meeting your soulmate is supposed to feel like – a brand new person you know you’ve never met yet certain sights and avenues feel so familiar as if they’ve been home all along. I’ve watched Spider-man swing through the skyscrapers, Ted Mosby obsess about its skyline, King Kong obliterate Broadway and scale the Empire State in a few leaps and a disorientated Steve Rogers stumble through Times Square as Fury and his minions swarm around him. This was my state of mind as we planned for a trip to New York City for new year’s eve of 2020. What more could it offer, right?
Three freezing days, aching feet and eight hundred pictures later, I can now tell you all the ways in which I was wonderfully wrong.
Would it not be great if we could clip our flaws like hair or nail,
and they’d grow back clean for us to be better again?
And if that were the case do you ever wonder,
when all’s cut and done, what would even remain?
So I made a list of all that to remove, bone from sinew.
To care about a cause that holds no personal reward,
refrain from hearsay and back-fence talk.
To seed integrity and grow a garden of faith,
won’t undo history but there’s at least hope for green ahead.
A caveman in routine – rise, work and fall with the sun,
A sage in impulse – think with the head. No, not that one.
After all, pleasure is reserved for the deserving,
what have you ever done?
To devour words and craft a hundred delicacies,
unearth new tunes and maybe even newer people.
To rein in thoughts yet leave dreams uncaged.
Revel in solitude but please keep the drawbridge down –
for the goal is to be happy alone, not unknown.
To free these hands of phones,
and make space for another to hold.
If all else fails, to just be a little better.
Hopefully this time next year, this list is much shorter.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a night off with no impending deadlines. Technically I could be grading, freeing up the upcoming weekend or preparing for the presentation that I’m to give in about 20 days but then it’s 20 days away or I could be reading any of the 13 books I brought with me all the way from India spending precious baggage weight rather than a couple extra T-shirts or sweatpants, which I constantly find myself short of. But still, no “panic-inducing-watching Netflix while insanely guilty” type deadlines looming over my head. Just a cold, quiet, empty November night and honestly, it feels weird. Have you ever been to a public swimming pool at noon during summer and there’s children shrieking everywhere and water splashing and you hold your breath and go underwater and everything quiets away in an instant? But then you’re underwater. I mean, there isn’t much to do underwater rather than perhaps appreciate the weightlessness and try not to think about the fact that it’ll end very soon as you’re mandated to return to the chaos to stay alive. It’s that kind of weird. (more…)
So here’s what we should have so far – an admit, the I-20 form and hopefully a passport that doesn’t expire until after your course duration.
Click here for Part 3 - Essays.
Assuming you’re done applying by say, December 31st, you have about 2 to 3 months to wait before the admission decisions start rolling in. While some do get a response as early as end of January or mid-February, the general consensus is around the beginning of March all the way till May or sometimes even June. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that colleges with earlier deadlines will respond faster. What goes behind the screens inside the admission committees is a mystery we’ll never unearth. I did find universities in UK responding much faster though. Most of them had deadlines open till late March or even rolling deadlines that never closed. Glasgow replied to my application literally the next morning. Bath, Leeds and Queen Mary took less than 3 weeks, as stated in their website. Imperial stated a wait of maximum 4 weeks but responded in the 6th week only. Still, all of them were mighty faster compared to US.
My point is, you got time to kill now. And this is usually when the mind starts to ruminate about what you’ve been doing the last few months and the reality of what’s to come. A big bummer in that reality is money, how much you’ve spent and how much you’re yet to spend and will it all be worth it and will you ever make it back. Here’s how much I spent.
Click here for Part 2 - Exams.
One of the really cool things about applying abroad is that you get to make your case. As far as I know it’s all about numbers in India. You have a defined entrance exam and a set cut-off you clear. Reservation quotas might come into play then. Sometimes there’s an interview and even then it’s too technical. Nobody asks you about your story or what purpose you think you will serve by getting this degree. Foreign universities make space for this in the form of personal and academic statements, usually put together as one – the statement of purpose.
Click here for Part 1 - Choices.
Once you’re set on colleges, take a look at their deadlines and start registering for the mandated exams. The General GRE is pretty much a standard for all STEM courses. Business and management courses will need GMAT. Specialized courses like pure sciences, literature and mathematics might need a subject GRE but few universities have begun phasing them out recently. Except very few cases, which differ with each college, you will almost certainly need to take a language test, either TOEFL or IELTS. Go figure.
So last week my visa finally came in and in another five weeks, I am out of the country for a minimum of two years. This time last year, I was clueless. I was taking online courses on computational fluid dynamics in hopes of landing a job as an aerospace engineer. Now I’m a month away from starting my master’s degree in physics. What happened? Either the best or the stupidest decision of my life, that’s what happened. (more…)
The optimist is overfed on disappointment,
no outcome’s ever up to the mark of his imagination.
The pessimist walks away with his coin still in the air,
the odds are fifty-fifty, but who’s got time to care?
The realist is drenched in sweat for he knows he can never really know,
until the result is out but by then what’s the point anymore.
It’s been 2 weeks since Endgame was out and it’s currently the number two at the global office just $300 million away from the reigning champ, Avatar. I myself have watched it about 5 times.
Captain Marvel is right up there with some of the phase one origin stories of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. When the world was a much simpler place and superheroes were still not so established. But its placement after Infinity War and so close to Endgame makes its stakes feel rather insignificant. Ant-man and Wasp came right after Infinity war as well but that had lovable returning characters whose situation we were worried about during the events of Infinity war. Captain Marvel is a brand new character we’re supposed to get to know now so that her presence in Endgame makes sense – she doesn’t enjoy the popularity of Spiderman who could be directly thrust into Civil War after 10 minutes of chatting with Tony Stark. While it is a great story and a wonderful piece of cinema, the cinematic universe format that Marvel has carved for itself has ended up pushing it into the shadow of the looming threats of Endgame.
We are so used to watching the hero and villain duke it out on screen and cheering for CSK vs RCB on twitter that we have developed no other means of conflict resolution whatsoever. We are so used to being just the audience to performances that we view even war through the same goggles. The movie ends, the match gets over and the participants and the audience return to their normal lives. War is no movie and we are no mere audience in this scenario.
I did not notice the fish tank in the background until much later when I was going through the photos we took that night and this was inadvertently caught in one corner. The absurdity initially did make me chuckle as I thought to myself what the fish must feel like stuck behind a glass pane and having to watch other dead fish day in and day out. Is it sad? Is it glad that no one’s killed it yet? However, the current scene in India with the back and forth strikes at the Line of control and the whole country praising war through memes on social media (So much 21st century in one sentence, amirite?), it got me thinking – We are all that fish silently watching other fish die from behind glass panes we so conveniently carry in our palms.
The question of whether God exists – if there is a supreme consciousness behind the cosmos – primarily belongs to the collective realm of human thought and is in no way exclusive to religion. Early man looking at the stars, modern physicists working on the unified field theory and your best friend with their eyes closed right before taking an exam are all, in one way or the other, trying to figure out God. One uses thought and inquisition, or philosophy, one uses sequential logic and tangible data, or science and one uses faith and will, or religion. There are countless such ways to ponder over this very fundamental question of what was there before everything and man vehemently continues to do so using every tool at his disposal with philosophy, religion and science being the most prominent. At least, most men are. The pioneers of religion – one of the most subjective of these tools, seem extremely content with their answers in spite of having multiple contradicting theories and have deemed this search complete. They seem to be quite impatient people who do not want to wait for the others to catch up but rather want them to quit their pursuits as well since after all, the answer is already here. While God may or may not exist, organised religion most definitely does. Making things worse, it’s infiltrating the ranks of government and things are not going so well.