I thirst for a few gulps of water on a bright sunny afternoon. I take my wallet off my jeans and run to the nearest grocery clutching a 10-Rupees note, discomforted with my parched throat. I could feel the water flowing down my throat, as I drank to my satisfaction. Then I chucked the plastic bottle in a bin kept near the store and head to my destination.
As I walked, I reflected on the weather. My mind swayed away to dwell on memory; a memory from childhood that I so vividly remembered. It was a winter morning, sometime in December. My father and I had come out of our house for a walk. There was a sense of freshness in the air. I could recollect how the breeze pampered my skin. I could see droplets formed by mist gleam on the reeds of grass as they reflected sunlight.
I continued walking on the narrow street, laid with round pebbles and was fascinated by a stone that looked like marble. I picked it up and admired the cold, moist stone for a while. Then my dad called out to me, “Son, drop that stone. You’ll get yourself dirty.” So I dropped the stone, went up to my dad and held his fingers with my small fist. We continued walking for a few minutes enjoying the pleasant abode of nature in all its beauty. We passed by a tea garden on an adjacent street and inhaled the freshness of the moist leaves which exhaled oxygen so abundantly into the unpolluted air. Then slowly the sun beamed its rays on us. I could feel mild warmth that made me cosy.
A grey SUV was right behind me, unable to go ahead as I had strayed away from the footpath, towards the road. I looked back and moved quickly onto the footpath. I was back – to reality, to now. The sun’s heat wasn’t mild, but unbearable and scorching. When I inhaled, I could smell the smoke that puffed out from the vehicles’ exhausts. There wasn’t a garden of any kind. Only tall, concrete buildings surrounded me. I pulled out a handkerchief from my pocket to wipe my sweaty and dusty forehead.
I cannot even remotely, ignore the fact of climate change. Yes, the world is moving to achieve something greater. But at what cost? We are more interested in making life more convenient and have forgotten the joys in living it fruitfully. We know that we are harming nature. We reduce our guilt by supporting environment campaigns too. But change will only come if ‘you’ do something and believe that it can be done – not once, not twice but every time you are bothered by it.
I tell you of a memory when I was a child, so it may be hazy. But, it’s worth sharing.
It was probably summer and we were in Guwahati (India) – mom, dad, my elder sister and me. My maternal grandfather had encountered throat cancer, so my granny called up from Upper Assam to inform my mother. My mother, a nurse by qualification and a home maker otherwise, immediately arranged my granddad to be brought to Guwahati. She did so because there were better medical facilities there and she would be able to take care of her ‘dad’dy in a more direct way.
Grandpa arrived in Guwahati, to our residence, and we starting taking care of him. Mom and dad took him to the hospital as per the norm. Mom used to give him timely medicines and food. I also started spending more time with my granddad. He would tell me stories and have a friendly chat with me.
I used to read a lot, those days. So I started giving my grandpa a copy of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, one by one. He enjoyed reading the author’s works. He read it till ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.’ My grandfather underwent the entire process of cancer treatment. He even had chemotherapy, though he was old. I could see that he would look weak after he came from the hospital. I would get emotional often, because I loved spending time with my ‘Nana’ (Grandpa).
The best news was that he was completely cured of throat cancer. He was a smoke addict, so we thought that was the main reason for the cancer. He did give up smoking while on treatment. He was cured. 🙂
The story doesn’t end here though. Maybe for cancer it does. But not for him.
Nana goes back to Hatiali, to be with his wife, my grandmother, a practicing nurse. He was well for quite sometime, years actually. However, my maternal uncle and his nuclear family started living with Nana and Nani now. Also, grandpa had got back into smoking.
It was early 2009, when Nana fell sick again. He was old and was preparing himself for his demise. He starting reciting the rosary, personally. He asked for forgiveness to everyone he felt he had offended, knowingly or unknowingly.
I did go to see him. He was lying on a bed and was on drips. Probably he wasn’t eating properly. I could see his veins. I asked him, “How are you, nana?” I was 16 back then. He replied, “I’m fine, Ishan! I am well.”
I returned to Tinsukia, where we were residing at that time, a 30-45 minutes car ride away. I had my 10th Grade central board exams knocking at the door. I kept preparing and also thought about my Nana now and then, how he would be. He had asked me for the next copy of the Harry Potter series. But, I didn’t lend it to him. He was dying and I should have, but I didn’t want him to die reading an unfinished book, I guess. Later mom told me, it would have helped.
My nana passed away, right between my board exams. I couldn’t even go for the last rites. I remember I went crazy, momentarily. My parents went to Hatiali and I played loud music at home because I was sad and could do nothing about it. I had lost my granddad.
I did go to Hatiali, during the months-mind, for the prayers and other customs. Many unknown relatives had come to visit. Some known but forgotten ones too.
Thank You grandpa, for your stories, laughter and care. I love you. May you rest well in Heaven.
A for Adorable
B for Beautiful
C for Charismatic
D for Debonair
E for Empathy
F for Friendship
G for God
H for Happiness
I for Intellect
J for Jokes
K for Kindness
L for Love
M for Mother
N for Nature
O for Outstanding
P for Playful
Q for Quest
R for River
S for Sea
T for Talent
U for Understanding
V for Vogue
W for Wisdom
X for Xylophone
Y for Yesterday
Z for Zebra
Vanquish the dark so you may remember, the pearls you hide in the oysters of your memories.
Ahoy there! Listen.
Listen, dear beloved; listen oh loved one – my pride, my life, my heart and my mind – irreplaceable, my dear, impeccable one. You are the fire that keeps me burning, the ‘light’ of my life.
I feel alive when I realise…
I can feel my heartbeat, my nostrils gush with air, my tongue salivates at the thought of the taste of a glass of water; fresh from the glaciers. The water that I can drink and smack my lips in satisfaction; a feeling that my thirst is finally quenched. I eat fruits kept on a basket, at my dining table, hoping they are healthy to consume…
I pick up an apple and give it a gentle squeeze. It seems firm, not rotten, I suppose. I take it to the kitchen sink and pour hot water on it so that the wax layer added for extra lustre would wear off.
I cut the apple, first into four, then into four more pieces. I removed the portion with seeds and also unfortunately scaled off the skin, I may not be able to digest it. I offer some to my sister and walk towards my room to eat them.
I ate the apples while watching a YouTube video of a music rendition of a great composition of a composer I didn’t know of. I didn’t know the composer before, but the music was so beautiful, it captured my heart. My soul was delighted.
It was a live performance and the audience showed their appreciation too, by clapping at paused intervals and when it probably touched their hearts the most.
Amidst the eating, my throat went dry. So I paused my eating and drank some water. I didn’t feel like eating more, but I didn’t want to waste the remaining pieces.
I was told to pray to a Fatherly God,
But the Mother’s arms seemed warmer.
I was told to bow to an image,
But that never did leave me less afraid.
Among others who sat reverently,
I stood still, peering at the fire;
away from the works of the farm.
I was a Son to a person with two square bi-glasses,
But I paid more attention to the Eyes beyond.
Following Him like a Lion follows the deer
With great majesty and desire,
Yet no Will to cause a scratch.
A clan of Priests who worshipped the Mother,
My wise Ancestor Head loved me;
Yet he thought to follow the Green of the West
to save His clan.
His Eye’s apple, His only end;
Only so that He begins again.
My eyes sparkled differently,
When I didn’t see this ‘Father.’
Ignorance prevented another Death,
Wisdom made Life immortal.
The Father was born again as the Son.
I loved the winds;
They were always my Best Companions.
Bright, but wintry;
Warm yet refreshing;
Love, yet Death-like…
Was the ambience of this New Heaven
That had become.
Bright-red, yet stable;
Surrounded by a ring of Light.
The Father was immortal for the Son to spread the Light He had seen.
2. The Mother
The child loved the Mother’s warmth.
She was His Strongest Shield.
She was the Best Nourisher.
He enjoyed Her warmth,
But loved the Breeze.
He loved Her compassion,
But the Moist reeds of Grass
He would Love the Winter Morn,
It was like Home.
These morns meant much,
As they spoke of the Mother’s pain
And Son’s Gain
United by Love.
The Mother raised Her Son to be God-loving,
And told Him stories of the Ever-Loving God.
He loved the Way She narrated them;
Her voice was Music.
Though He followed His Father,
His ‘Mother’ was the First Word
On His Tongue’s Tip
When His Heart desired Anything.
Pain turned into Pleasant Feelings,
Darkness turned into Light,
Love turned Nothingness into Life.
Love created Heaven, the abode of Gods and Angels.
The Beloved Father, now Son,
Was looking upon this Loving Mother
She nourished Her Son.
God was Happy and at Bliss.
4. The Woman
A Woman had been born to this Mother:
A Strong, Lively, Colorful,
Beautiful, Young Princess.
She was named after ‘Wealth’
As the Son once loved ‘Wealth.’
She was a constant teacher to Her Brother;
Loved Him as much as He loved Her.
A Fun Sibling Pair,
They fought, laughed and cried;
Yet loved each other,
Like a Team.
She saved Him from all Future suffering,
Without Even Knowing.
She was Energy personified,
She was the Princess of Light.
Lover of Her little
Prince of Light,
The Mother was informed by all Harbingers
She would be Wealthy.
The Son’s constant companion,
His Support, His Protector,
His Love was now His Shield
Whom He was Chosen to Protect.
The Woman; ever Beautiful Daughter of God
Did all that She observed was Right.
She was the Strongest form of Woman
Wealthy, Illusive, Just, Divine;
Empowered to a Woman Leader.
Invisible yet Colorful,
The Princess of Light
Stood Strong and Invincible!
Beloved of The Prince of Light,
She was Fearsome Darkness
If Anyone caused Her Brother
5. The Lady
A being revered greater than the Greatest Diamond;
A woman full of Love and Grace
Adorned with the pearls of the Good serpent,
Brings Her hands towards Her Prince in Embrace.
She knows not much,
But sufficiently enough.
Great is Her strength,
Which sometimes even she can’t control.
Her appearance is Pure Divine,
Heavenly and Sacred,
As if the Angels themselves had painted Her.
She wasn’t an Angel, but greater than all of them.
Born of the Lord of Multitudes,
She is a Blessing of the Supremely Divine Mother.
6. The Father
Omniscient, Omnipotent and Immortal is the Father.
He is the Wisest of the Wise.
A Healer by boon, He is revered as the Protector of His Clan
From all disease.
He was a Father who feared the loss of the Power
He had gathered through His Mighty works.
He had an offspring, born from Rage.
He destroyed anything uncouth.
The Father’s Fifth finger was also lost this way.
But all was good. There’s nothing Love can’t solve.
7. The Prince of Light
The god of Sun begets the Prince of Light,
He does so through the Queen of the Glaciers.
Great was the moment when the Price was born.
The ‘Twelfth’ was born on the Twelfth.
The Earth welcomed this great day of reincarnation.
But despite this joyful birth,
A demoness was ready to strike
And despite Destiny being on the Prince’s side,
He was struck and fell sick.
Heavy was the blow,
Made with venomous milk.
Yet Good always feats over Evil
And the prince was saved.
All that remained was a tiny mark;
A mole, much like a scar.
8. Oceans of Milk
This Prince loved having milk,
Not just in Pure form.
Cheese, Butter, shakes or just milk,
He would eat or drink it all up in a jiffy.
The Oceans were once churned
To make beings immortal
And the most venomous poison was created.
The Prince knew all this somehow,
captured on a strand of His DNA.
He was the Prince of Light,
Lover of Milk
And had come so that the Oceans
would once again flow with stability.
9. The Queen of Light
She was bold, yet beautiful;
Cold, yet gave a sense of warmth.
She was the morning sun
And the dewdrops too.
She was pure chaos,
Yet complete order.
She was the perfect counterpart
Of the Prince of Light;
She did fit in with Him
like two ends meet in a cusp.
Her beauty was one of a kind,
yet admired by all.
She spoke in a tune of music
of the Highest order;
Stern, yet sweet.
She was a soul that was
To unite with the Prince of Light
In Light from Fire.
Behold the Princess of utmost Devotion!
Behold the Princess of Victory!
Behold the Queen of Light!
10. The Hill
Are all stories mere plans?
Are all ways already marked?
Questions like these and many more
Had led our Prince to wander.
His Queen-to-be had left him,
The pain inside had burned him,
He left in search of silence
And journey with the Wind.
He walked for miles,
He walked for days,
He walked until
He could walk no more.
Quenched his thirst,
And kept walking on.
He finally stopped
“A hill!” he exclaimed,
“And a shrine on top.”
11. The Realization
He went up a seemingly unending hill,
Making five stops before reaching the top.
Each time a realization dawned,
Something he had to let go
To journey on.
At the summit was a shrine
Like no other.
He was in Bliss,
Surrounded by sculptures
Of great sages.
He stood there,
Closed his eyes
And felt as if
he was scooped away.
A voice spoke to him,
“You are the centre
Of what exists.
Magnify and you will find no end;
Reach and you will have no end.”
He opened his eyes
And fell to his knees.
The King of Light,
Stands afront his people;
His voice echoing his might.
Women and Men,
Cheered him on
As he spoke how it was ‘Then’
And how it is ‘Now.’
It was indeed a story,
Of love and loss,
Of pain and gain,
And will always be
A journey that we can
Take pride we had.
He took his seat,
Looked at his wife
Everything had fallen into place,
Just as the people stood,
I was always good at computers and spent a lot of time on it since I was a child. Despite having this keen interest, I went into the Commerce stream in Senior Secondary School and later got a Bachelor’s degree with Economics as one of the majors and a Master’s degree in Economics. I was happy that I studied Economics but the child in me had some dreams unfulfilled.
During my Master’s degree program, I had a knack for mathematical and statistical methods. Econometrics was however, a little challenging. As a requirement of the program, I had to complete a compulsory internship after the second semester. The professors at St. Joseph’s College (Bengaluru, India) were very helpful and approachable. One of my professors in the Economics department shared an internship opening at a development research institute named Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai. I applied and was selected. It is during this internship that I got a hands-on experience with datasets. (I had learnt some basics using SPSS before but this was more intense.) These were large national datasets. I was assisting a professor at IGIDR on his empirical research related to the Industry sector, with intensive use of Excel and Stata. Later in my Master’s degree program I was also required to complete a Dissertation, the area of which I chose as Behavioural Economics. During this Dissertation, I learnt a lot about research methods like review of literature, data collection, Econometric methods to analyse data and interpretation of that analysis in the context of Economics.
Over time, I realized that I really liked working with datasets and that a knack for problem-solving. I wanted a career in which I could work with data and maybe also where my knowledge of Economics could be useful. Around this time, the demand for data scientists and data analysts in India were on the rise. There were articles written about it often and advertisements of several courses offered by different institutes and educational websites flooded the internet.
So, I did a little research and found that getting into data science required a good understanding of computer programming logic and a certain level of ease dealing with Statistics. Both the child in me and the adult me were happy to finally find something that could connect both. I joined a Post Graduate Diploma program offered by upGrad in association with the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore. The program was offered online, it was well-structured, included live sessions, regular assignments (both individual and group), had an exclusive discussion forum, had assigned student mentors and Career support. It was a complete package for getting into a Data Science career.
The course focused mostly on R as the language used for explanations and assignments but they did have additional optional modules on Python too. As I progressed in the course, my affinity towards programming logic and knowledge of Statistics and Econometrics helped a lot. In fact, many concepts like Inferential Statistics, Hypothesis testing, Linear Regression, Time Series and Data Sourcing were quite familiar. Even though I had a good understanding of programming logic, I didn’t really code much before apart from some basic programming languages, C/C++ in high school and in a paper on HTML in college. But even this meagre knowledge helped me to learn and work on R and code naturally. Overall, the difficulty level of the Data Science program was moderate for me – familiarity of Statistical Concepts and unfamiliarity of programming experience.
Mystical secrets lay hidden
Deep beneath unknown pathways;
Those that were buried aeons ago
Without any hint or a trace.
People today are bewildered
By tales of the same dust
That gathered after the storm
Or the ships that lay coated in rust.
One never abstains from praise
Of the lofty mountains and lions, brave.
Ever thrilling are the stories
Of the austere monk in a cave.
Cyphers with no clues,
Keys with no locks
Keep us wondering for years,
“What really formed those rocks?”
Spells of tongues lost in time,
Alive in a faint dream
Of elders, of yours and mine
May not be mythical as it may seem.
Although if we wish
to travel back in time
Just for a peek at a riddle
written in catchy rhyme,
The journey is not a mere walk
But the laugh of a clever fox
‘Cause it kept us wondering for years,
“What really formed those rocks?”
Time and Timing are two relative concepts. Often, Time seems disregarded in our daily life, by some while given too much importance by others. Timing, however, has a whole different purpose.
Time is a restrictive concept. There is no accurate measure of “How much time will I need to do this?” Of course, one can measure how they performed last Time and assume that the Time required to do that particular work is, say 30 minutes.
However, I say that doing this will hinder any possibilities for improvement. Instead, one can look at the Time as a reference rather than a measure.
Case I (Time):
I need to write an article of 1500 words. If I try to guess how much Time it requires, I would have many obstacles in completing the work. I would keep looking at my watch to see how much Time is left according to what I had measured. I would keep getting worried about the lack of Time and become impatient. I will start doubting my speed of doing work and eventually get demoralized.
Case II (Time):
Now let’s look at this situation another way. I need to write an article of 1500 words. I look at my watch and see that it’s 9:01 PM. I keep my watch aside, remember why I am writing the article and where it will get me. After that, I write the essay and enjoy every aspect of it – the theme, the writing… anything related to the article directly or indirectly… I choose to get engrossed in it.
You would find that in Case II, you would have finished writing the first draft of the article in 10-15 mins and the final selection after grammar checks, sentence framing, etc. in 20-25 mins whereas in Case I you might not even finish the first draft in 30 minutes.
That is why I say that Time is a restrictive concept.
However, Timing is not a restrictive concept. Let me explain this differently.
When you suddenly get a fantastic Idea, you will be overwhelmed, and either of the following could happen:
Case I (Timing): You will execute it immediately
If you execute it immediately, you will be satisfied that you quenched your excitement. But gradually, you will realize that there are many loopholes in the execution of that Idea. If you persist, the gaps will become visible by others, and the impact of your Idea will be minimal.
Case II (Timing): You will not execute it immediately but plan to do it later
If you do not execute it immediately, you can build on the Idea. You now have the chance to think about it each day, research on queries/gaps that arise, add possible things that could make its execution ever better and give a gap period before executing it. You can also plan to implement the Idea at a time when it will reap maximum benefits. That’s Timing.
Case II has higher possibilities of success as the Idea has been scrutinized well. The impact will be much more substantial. The effect will also be even stronger if the execution is timed well. It is as simple as investing in more ingredients for food recipes when the Annual Food Fest is near.
Hence I say Time may not be as crucial as Timing is. Still, it is of inevitable relevance for reference.
Colours appear like crayons on an old stationery box. They look different, yet smell familiar… A smell that captures the attention of a memory strand taking me all the way back to childhood.
“Aren’t these too many pieces to be a mere puzzle?”, I ask myself.
A turn I take, a move I make; it all seems connected. It seems as if my every move is predestined and I can feel it… lucid, like the bottom of a crystal clear stream. So clear that at times I just know when to say “Hi” and when not to… I have become both the predictor and the person.
“Was that the yesterday that is to happen tomorrow?” is my confused query. The study of self is forbidden. One can only study another. But what if nature makes you move that way… like a wave takes debris with it?
In this cyclone of existence I stand, impatient and in want of faster answers.