Thursday, 3 October 2013

Lessons from Life

There is a saying in Telugu, my mother tongue, "Jivatham patalu nerputhundi". Which translates to "Life teaches lessons". I learnt this from my first teacher, my mother. She taught me the most valuable thing than any thing else, how to grasp the lessons taught by Life and incorporate them to become a better human. Since my schooling, when I criticize someone for something, her reaction would be like, treat it as a learning experience. Our life tries to teach us lessons in every possible way through every single incident. Its up to us to see them. 

FamilyWhen I look at Ambatis, people generally speak highly of three persons, my grand father, father and younger grand father. Unfortunately, when I became old enough to make sense of what is good and what is bad only my younger grand father was available in person to inspire. But I learnt a lot from the stories I heard from others. They tried to do social service with every little expertise available to them. They showed me that if you have true dedication for one thing, you can always find innovative ways to excel. 

University: One learns the best lessons (good or bad) during uni and so did I. When I joined IIIT-Hyderabad, I don't know anything about research. With such a vibrant research culture, I learned how is do research especially from my supervisor Prof. Rajeev Sangal. He always made me think of doing research which can help the nation in general and rural population in particular. In addition to research, he always emphasized on presentation skills. If my presentations are any good, he is the main reason for it. 

   I can never forget the farewell speech of our senior Prashanth Gopal. He was special not for some high paying job. For computer science, IIIT-H has been one of the best universities in India and its common to see a handful of placements at tech giants like Google, Facebook etc. every year. He was best known for his PhD admit at MIT. In his farewell speech he said "If you are good at something, be it gaming or sports or studies, transfer that knowledge to others and make sure someone carries that forward". During my study at IIIT-H, apart from my friends, and faculty, two things I am proud of are work for Ashakiran and my Masters research. 

   Ashakiran, is a non-profit organization aimed at teaching under-privileged kids in slums near IIIT-H. I worked as volunteer and then as co-ordinator. I loved spending time for it and had a lot of nice memories.  Once, on my way to class with the kids, we saw a small water body formed out of heavy rain. Some of the kids looked at it and started comparing it to India map which they learnt few days back. When I go for a walk to nearby grocery stores, the kids in the road-side slums come over to greet me. I can't describe the happiness of those moments in words. Thats the feeling which can't be brought by high salary paychecks. I was lucky to find someone who is as much passionate about this work as I do and handed over the responsibilities. 

   After my masters, when I was doing my job, two of my juniors extended my thesis. I used to chat with them regularly, meet them once in a month, helped them in writing research papers etc. One of my relatives asked me why am I doing this extra work as I am not getting paid for it. In life, there are some things which we do for money and some other things just because they make us feel happy. I wanted to make sure that someone is continuing my research and did my bit for it. Their pure thanks when they are done with their course was more valuable to me than any money that I could have earned from such thing.

Friends: I don't speak much with new people and take a lot of time to make friends. But, once we become good friends, I talk so much that sometimes I might even make them feel 'when is this guy going to stop?'. To me, a friend is one who is there for you for anything at any cost. They show unconditional love and affection. Thats my belief and thats how I try to be. When I turn back and recollect my school/college/uni days, I hardly remember the night outs related to work. But most of the moments I spent with my friends, I cherish my entire life. I am fortune to have a handful of such friends in my life. I had many experiences but one thing which I should mention is the one during my undergrad final year. One of my uncles was sick and I had to go to my hometown very urgently. I got the call around 3 am in the morning. Everyone was in party mood after celebrating a friend's birthday. Even then, two of my friends dropped me and my cousin on bikes at that odd time travelling miles in cold weather. I feel proud to have such friends. 

   During my schooling I met a girl named Raga Sudha. I treat her more as my sister than a friend. In a school with few hundreds (yes, we had around 900 students in 10th grade) of students in each class, she was consistently class topper in every single exam in each grade I can remember ! Her only goal was to fulfill her mother's dream of becoming a doctor. I am so glad that she completed her MBBS and on the way to do specialization. She taught me that if you truly love someone and miss them in your life, best tribute you can give them is by fulfilling their dreams.

   I was always interested in dance in general and classical dance in particular. I always used to be inspired by watching some dance videos, learn for a couple of months and then used to completely forget that. I learned classical dance for couple of weeks during childhood and then couple of months during my university. I would have ended up in similar fashion with Bhangra (Punjabi Folk) as well, if I hadn't met one person, Tanvi. She is a professional Bharatanatyam (Indian Classical) dancer trained for several years and gave many performances.  She is the only good classical dancer among my friends. She is good at Bhangra and Bollywood-style dance as well. I am not a great dancer but constantly improving my skills. I learned to bring grace to my dance from her. 

So, it all depends on how you perceive things. Its not that you can only get inspired from lives of very famous persons or inspirational speeches. Every small incident can inspire you, make you think and learn something new. It can be a normal chat with a friend, or a story of someone whom you don't even know. Age, gender, religion etc. can never ever be a barrier.

PS: This is in noway an exhaustive list. Just tried to mention few instances.