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Friday, November 16, 2007

Aliens don't come from Mars

This is dedicated to anon who called me "pretentious" in a previous post. :)
Nothing to do with the context of his comment, the word triggered a chain of thoughts and rambling followed :D

Somewhere, at some point of our lives, we have all felt like an outsider.
In junior high (read: Standard 7-10), I was a nerd who preferred to hide behind a book and a pair of specs, acted aggressive (read: used to beat up boys badly) to cloak my emotional vulnerability , and was every teacher's favorite student. Though my grades often incited awe among my peers, I'd have traded them anytime to be "cooler". That doesn't mean I shunned extra curricular activities. I had been in the coveted ( What can be the aspiration of a school goer? Not to be a CEO since standard IV ! ) school choir for consecutive six years, was the preferred choice for judges in any extempore or recitation competition, was unanimously voted the CR for 6 years of class (until in Standard 10 where I resigned before my Tests).

Yet, I lost the first position of school final recitation competition to someone who was three years senior to me and had much better voice modulation and was trained for it. Became the second preference for the role of Portia for the school play , even though I delivered the lines better- because one of them looked way better than I did ( the directors - Madam Sharifa Samsuddin and Sir Mohan Nainan were divided in opinion because Ma'm claimed assertiveness and not pulchritude should be the criterion for selecting the character. It never really took off the ground after that) Lost the school elections to someone who was more social than I was, even though my speech was not prepared and I said what I said in the assembly ad lib and earned the loudest applause. Came close second in my Hindustani Classical Vocal exams. And yeah, never got around to tell my school crush that I really liked him.

College was different though, with more social opportunities than I could handle and my grades in second year suffered for that. More people had crush on me than I even knew and books were meant to be opened only a month before the exams. My school mates would remember me as "that Amazon", or "the studious". My college mates would beg to differ and say "happening". Work life was completely dissimilar. With 12-14 hours at job, there was hardly any social life and my team grew to be like my family. Maybe I just got lucky with my first job.

Before I start sounding like a 60 year old woman who's scripting her memoirs, I want to say that those little failures, when my best was simply not enough, got me acquainted with a simple fact of life. There will always be someone who does something better than I do. So, what do I do when I detect something I wish was my characteristic trait too? What any rational person willing to grow will. I imbibe it.

My closest peer group right now is my Management 650 team and I'd like to point out a positive aspect I adore in each one of those five people . Gordon is very enthusiastic when it comes to presentations. Though Prof Novak ( who is usually difficult to please) said that both him and I have (1)very good voice and (2)excellent eye contact, I think he scores way above me in his body language, which is very animated. Vanessa is a bundle of energy and it's almost contagious. Wendy is talented at origami. Matt speaks little, but talks a lot of sense. Mike is THE techie of the group. A few others include Katie with a wicked sense of humor and Chris with an eerie ability to get along with anybody. My friends outside my campus include SG who never complains, SK who is an empathetic listener (thanks buddy), LM who can make you feel like she's your best friend the very first time you meet her, KM who can look at ANYTHING objectively and dispassionately. Now, I'd like to cultivate or improve upon some of these traits in some degree for the rest of my life and not ingurgitate to throw out later.

They might be friends, acquaintances or mere strangers I have come across, who call me by different names or call me by my name differently. But at the basic human level, we are all the same with some dreams, aspirations, fears we share with only ourselves or very close ones. We just need to reach out to know that. Does it make us pretentious? Because we are role playing? I don't think so. We are evolving constantly. I seriously don't know what my emotional, financial, psychological, social, physical ( add as many adjectives with the suffix -al as you want ) needs are going to be after two years. But I have some idea. I am trying to work on that. And I have a long way to go.

**Life is too short to be conceited.

** Attributed to PK , someone I had rejected some 3/4 years ago, because I thought he didn't look good enough. He might still be somewhere in US, but I haven't talked to him ever since. Wish he knew, in that one sentence he had taught me one of the most valuable lessons of life. Humility.


Abhinav said...

Life is too short to be conceited. ==> Life is too short to be anything but yourself.
And it seems you have been getting proposals since you were nine yrs, eight months, twenty-seven days old. ;-) Difficult not to be conceited.
'Books were meant to be opened only before a month before the exams.' ==> You opened them one month before atleast. Here I'm with my exams on and I don't feel either the fear or the need to study. ;-) Alas I'm a very bad student. :P

Aparna Kar said...

LMAO. At the age of nine yrs, eight months, twenty-seven days, I was busy thrashing guys to a pulp. So no one dared to do it. But yeah the first time someone said "I love you" to me was in Kindergarten . A chap who used to sit next to me (sat next to him the very first day I went to school), who pulled my hair and insisted that I should spell my name O-P-O-R-N-A and not A-P-A-R-N-A to agree more with the Bengali phonetics. And yeah, his family knew he's going to marry me when he grows up until I tied a rakhi in Standard VII ! Sheesh! Only if I knew what I was doing. He squirmed but didn't refuse. The best thing about him was respecting my opinion, probably next to his ability to make me laugh even when I was crying. Where are all those friends gone? *sigh *

And yeah 3/4 years back I was 20- pretty woo-able age that was :P Btw, it doesn't matter if you study whole year round or lucubrate just the night before the exams as long as you fetch good marks in undergrad AND you remember what you have studied. (the probability becomes low if you don't revise regularly ) But there are some courses which keep track of your progress perpetually, scoring then becomes difficult. I'd suggest try the second approach in your next sem- you will be more relaxed during exams. Trust me! I had to learn this

Arun Srinivasan said...

I feel this is too to much to ramble jus bcos of the one word "pretentious"... but it happens... "There will always be someone who does something better than I do"... how does tht matter to u?

Aparna Kar said...

Doesn't it matter to you? Don't you want to do all those wonderful things too? Last night, after class, I saw this hip hop fashion show on campus where the kids were dancing and having great fun and I thought it has been a long time since I went on stage. Sometimes, the desires are intrinsic. Sometimes, an external object rekindles it. To keep wishing, to keep dreaming, to keep making a conscious effort to improve- isn't it all life is about? Or you want me to be a passive observer who is too bored and too tired?

My father, for instance, is learning to play the guitar in his 50's. As far as I have heard, he played the violin well in his youth. Now he's looking for the sheet music for Annie's song so that he can play it for me when he meets me next because that's one of my favs and have requested him to learn to play it.

The necessity to imbibe/improve a quality might not necessarily be because someone else does it better, you might reach new heights you have for urself, but acknowledging and appreciating the virtues of others can be an impetus for growth too. Kapish?

Arun Srinivasan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
arnab said...

totally get you when you say "There will always be someone who does something better than I do", because that's what makes me stop, think and appreciate too. and sometimes i imbibe something that makes me go "aha!"

never lose the curiosity of a child, and never be content with what life throws your way, because the world is full of wonderful things, and a lifetime is not long enough.

Aparna Kar said...

By "the second approach" I meant studying all the year through - which is actually the first approach in the comment. Read my reply now and was horrified by my mistake. Don't want you to pull my collar and pack a punch if you followed the misguided advice. :D

Aparna Kar said...

Thanks for reminding. The day I stop doing that, I'll probably stop living- worse than dying a biological death.

Arun Srinivasan said...

"There will always be someone who does something better than I do"... First let me put my context here and will come down to other things latter... It doesn't really matter at least to me, though there are/is always someone who does something better than me bcos i always compete against myself... either it be technical knowledge, arts, writing, reading, etc etc etc... the race is always against me and me only... i will tell an incident which happened in Nokia Research Center few days back... NRC is the place where u can meet the think tank's of all the Nokia products u see in market today... there was some crucial application with a cut throat deadline.. people in our team were literally crying to get things done... there is this 60 year guy who leads the team... finally our team people went back to him, telling they were not able to get a way around for tht specification in spite spending 500 man hours... the guy looked at our people and said "ya i know.. thts bit tricky... i will get back to u in an hour"... an hour passed.. the guy came back with the proper solution... everyone were stunned... this information reached our internal team manager... while having coffee with our internal manager, our manager said "look at him... u shld be like him... u shld get tht kinda competency in next 1 year and blah blah blah"... our team jus reverted back to manager... "for your kind information that guy was coding right from his 7th standard... and from that time itself he was working on kernel level coding... he eats, sleeps, thinks, walks, talks all about one and only Linux... now you are telling us to develop such a competency in a year... we agree you are trying to motivate and appreciate that... but this is not real motivation.. here everyone hav someway or the other some talent what that guy dont have... what we can promise is... we will try to bring the best in us tomorrow which is better than what we did yesterday... but if u expect tht to be on par with tht guy... we are sorry we can't... bcos for the environment he was brought up he has the ability and expecting us to be the same in a year seems u r asking for too much"... and co-relating to wht u said abt ur father learning guitar... as long as ur father is going to learn for himself so tht he plays it better as the days goes and it doesn't really matter to him how many other good guitarist are out there... sure ur dad will enjoy learning it and for him tht learning will be a fun ... if its gonna matter how gud others are.. then ur dad will be more in a pressure situation to learn it so tht he becomes like those players... by doing so he might learn it.. but wht abt the fun in learning... leave aside all these... i hav took some of my friends to the best dance floors here in Helsinki... initially looking at other people dancing, many of my friends felt bit shy... i told them.. "come on man... dance for urself... u may not know one gud step... so does it mean u shud not get on to the floor... don't look at others how they are dancing and how u gonna dance there... we came here to dance for ourself and not to dance like others... so jus get into groove and dance"... well we did learned few steps from others as the days went... but learning from others doesn't mean to become tht OTHER... the world had already seen one Gandhi, one Hitler, one Churchill and is having already one aparna... so when it comes to writing.. though there is someone like aparna and others who write better than me... i always to try to write my next post better than previous... now shud i go to other things?

Dada said...

Who is this PK? Can you shed some light on this please?

Aparna Kar said...

Aar eto bochhor por jene ki korbi ? *Passes a sigh, tries to act like tragedy queen Meena Kumari, realizes Bro is getting impatient, stops acting*
I never told you, but here's a hint- his sister is a namesake of your sister i.e Aparna Kar. In fact, I was acquainted with both brother and sister. His father was a renowned scientist then and he was studying to be an architect when I last knew him. :D Honestly, I just realized that I am not even sure if they are still in US or he has shifted base to UK, Australia or even UAE.

Might be married with three kids now, who knows? :P Beshi load nish na. There are a lot of things you don't know about your own sibling :)

Dada said...

Ei Taun, Satyikarer Bhalo Basa...
Eto dn paare tumi ooke bhulo nai, Amar maane how se oo bhule nai...
(Translated: Thats it, true love...
U didnot forget him after so many years, I think he is in the same condition...)

Aparna Kar said...

Ha, theek boleychis.
" Erpor Kiranbala taar chokher polok tuliya, ostogoto surjo k dekhitey dekhitey bhabilo.. se ki ekhono amake money korey ?" :D

( translated: Yeah, you said it right. "And then Kiranbala raised her eye lashes, looked at the setting sun and thought-Does he still think of me?" :D )

anon said...

so it seems u misinterpreted... i just meant ostentatious... thats all... showy... nothing about false pretenses....

Aparna Kar said...

Oh! Flamboyance is more like it. What is life without a bit of drama? And you are right- you are constantly digging your grave :D

Aparna Kar said...

p.s @ anon
But I also wonder, you are the one who said I am not conceited when I could have been.. then..?
I am confused

anon said...

see, u agree, then u go and claim i said something else ;-)

confused abt? ur question confuses...

Aparna Kar said...

@ anon
Chaos reigns. Let me get myself a cup of coffee and I will try to figure out what we are trying to say to each other :D

FireWhisky said...

loved it... because yeah... life is 2 short 2 b concieted... its 2 short 4 u 2 apologise 4 being d kind f person u r... n its 2 short 4 regrets... there will probably always n sm1 hu does somethin bettr than us, bt at least we hv d satisfaction f having tried... of hvning given it our best shot...

saikat said...

opening books a month before the exam..thats blaphesmy...beleive in SHIT Theory...(Some How In Time Theory) my final term in b-skool...i still remember ppl waking up 10 mins before the exam in the morning/evening ..n then rushing to the nearest credit (paper) mate..asking..which paper do we have today :P

i guess both of us have always beleived..that stop acting plastic...n do whatever u want to do in life..n i guess thats what u r walk up to that stage and let your hair down

abt someone always doing something better than you..yeah thats always a reality...but remember something which i have always follow 10 ppl...wonder how they do somethings far better than how you do...but similarly there are 10 ppl..who are wondering how you do certain things far better than how they do...thats the only reason why u should never change from the basic person u are

i dont know what i rambled....'saturday morning hangover' :mad:

tc..bhalo thakis

backpakker said...

I guess we all evolve and find a place for ourselves in the bejewelled sky

mishti doi said...

what may i write to have something dedicated to me..:)

here are my ramblings..

still wonders if you are adding fuel to fire..never the less tidbits from school college work..makes an interesting read..

a good friend to whose thoughts have high regard once said "the second best always survived" gives you so much room to improve..

and your peer group would be glad to read this..

Aparna Kar said...

@misti doi
Aww! I can dedicate a whole blog to you. Just like you did ;).. and still feel I have not said enough :)

Adding fuel to fire? :O
PK was NEVER an old flame. In fact, if he asks me out even today, my answer will still be in negative. You should have guessed it by the exaggerated romanctic tone of old Bengali classic literature I assumed while replying to Dada to bring forth the impracticality of the idea of my being in " true love". My one and only true love will be only with me (honest admittance, those who say otherwise- I don't believe you) and then someone who makes me fall in love with me 'cause he or she (oops) brings out the best in me.

Furthermore, I believe there is someone who was (and still is )in love with me even when I had almost nothing to offer him. Why would I jeopardize that relation to try and find something I missed in my past? That would be impractical and utter ingratitude. And whatever I am (pretentious et al), I am not unscrupulous. Until of course, someday I feel that my happiness is falling apart and I need another system of happiness to go on in life.

I like that second best concept 'cause of the associated "room for improvement" idea. Life would be so boring if we were perfect!

About my peer group? Dunno if they will have time to read this. It's crunch time for project now. But yeah, Wendy showed my blog to her bf and Mike told me that he liked the page, Vanessa is the only one who managed to open the comment box :D And the others.. well.. umm ..huh.. I'd be glad if they got to know what I think is precious in them.

Anonymous said...

truly something from ur heart... :)

-Bad Wulf

mishti doi said...

lolz..don't capitalize the unnecessary..if it weren't for hopes hearts would break

i know of ur narcism..PK ..see even she is helpless and in love with u were just human..

Aparna Kar said...

@Bad Wulf
Back again? U cud hv said the same using ur true id :O or u r tring to be the objective critic here :D

Aparna Kar said...

@misti doi
Yeah, you are right. Don't capitalize or underscore what is unnecessary. Complicates life. But I don't believe in giving false hopes either. Makes it difficult to reply to my own conscience later and I have disturbed sleep at night.

PK is not an individual, it is a set of those people who choose to move on in life. Strangely, someone who gave me lessons in humility had such a big ego himself that he couldn't bear to be friends with me after my rejection. I don't blame him. Maybe somewhere we are similar.

Sam said...

A very nice and clear line of thought here.
In the process of constantly improving ourselves, we end up acquiring teh characteristics we desire.... and secondly.. to be good at something one should chuck aside teh thought of competition and simply enjoy... let me give u examples of both my statements!!
A 19 yr old faces a very dicey situation werin he has to be part fo a cold war... separate friends from foes and take measured actions... without revealing his understanding of the entire situation. In awe with the sharp mentality of his adversaries and partners... he simply played by instinct.. years later (abt 5 now) he can play teh game quite well... he has learnt.. to survive!!
case2: I used to believe i had two left feets... and thus never hit the dance floor.. tilla few months... since then I've founds out that I can really dance... with my strength being latin dance!! and it all happened because i stopped caring wot others wud think wen i hit teh dance floor... i decided to enjoy it... and i did well!!
Point is... it is important to be yourself.. even when you are acquiring traits.. let the traits be a part of u as a result of constant develpoment...
after, tumi jodi nijer sathhei chukti kore shaanti te na thakte paro.. tahole onyo kichhur madhhome shetar aasha kora britha!!

Abir said...

Good lord, the set of comments comprises a whole new blog, doesn't it?

Anyway, while I figure out the purpose of this rambling based on a passing comment, here's something Shakespeare said ...
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances, ... "
It's been quoted enough number of times since then, and was apparently popular even before they were included in "As You Like It" ...

If this were true, a pretense doesn't have much weight in life, does it?

Also, I feel life is like doing time ... one might get off earlier for good behaviour!!

Abir said...

Incidentally, this is interesting too

Da Rodent said...


Abhinav said...

Me deep into books... nose just grew longer ;-)
Read both you comments for me now. Lol. I'm happy though studying at the eleventh hour and getting top grades for that. It's just that I don't find it in me to respect myself for the sort of knowledge I gain this way (that is the only problem)... even though my duffer profs deem it fit for good grades. ;-)

BTW are we communicating by telepathy? ;-) 'There will always be someone who does something better than I do.' What I had initially thought for your fears post (when I had not read this one) was something like: If I were not afraid, I would accept the fact that all the best works of art have already been made in this world and they are much better than I can even try. So to hell with my focus... it does not matter what I do or don't do. I might as well sit on my haunches and read all my favorite books and see all my favorite movies without the need to fill my days with mindless activity.
But it sounded too farfetched so I cut the blast out... ;-)