This is a rite of passage, a coming of age. In these ten years, I grew up.
2010 (I passed 8th grade and moved to 9th grade)
Every kid who would score more than 85% aggregate would be awarded a scholar badge. This was the first time, I failed to get a scholar badge. I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to be when I grow-up. I hated to make choices. However, this time I had to decide between Hindi and Sanskrit. I had to choose a language which I’ll have to study for the next two years. I fixated on Sanskrit. I scored decently in the following years but now I can hardly speak in Sanskrit. I think no one can. I would spend most of my time playing computer games and researching ways to hack/optimize/enhance my computer. I had a thing about collecting pirated versions of high-end software. I wanted to learn them, but I didn’t know why? This was the time when I started my first blog on Blogspot, it was called minipacksoftwares. I would post the links to download software. I started another blog called, carfest, where I would post about (as evident from the name), cars. I think I was doing okay. I enjoyed spending time on the web. I would create a free account on all the websites that I could get hold of. That was me in 2010. Fascinated by technology.
2011 (I passed 9th grade and moved to 10th grade)
I had friends who shared my passion for technology. Together we would discuss ideas we could turn into a business. I would come up with ideas of websites that I thought did not exist then. I would try to use my creative energies to come up with new ideas or solve problems that I believed would have existed. I was naïve in my thinking, but it was okay. I started to blog for a friend, it was called techinnews, it was about tech industry news. We grew into a sizable community. We had an active Facebook group. That was the time when my friend introduced me to Google AdSense. He talked to me about ways people earn money over the internet. He talked to me about ways we could create our own websites. I started learning programming languages. I always thought it was impossible for me to learn. The syntax would terrify me. I would play online games like CityVille and FarmVille a lot and listen to English Music.
2012 (I passed 10th grade and moved to 11th grade)
I was at a crossroads. Science, Commerce, and Humanities. I could choose only one. I hated to choose. Humanities lost by a close margin, I decided to study Science and Mathematics with Computer Science. It was honestly Computer Science that defeated Humanities. I aced my 10th Grade Exams, I don’t how? Maybe being a good student for two years paid off, I received two upgrades in my scores because of that. I started learning to code seriously. Meanwhile, my father decided me to show the world, he took us to Hong Kong and Macau for a week. This was my first international vacation. I spend a night in Disney Land. I got pictures clicked with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Madame Tussauds). I travelled on a luxurious ferry. I saw a live theatre. I created a memory I still cherish. When I came back reality hit. I had joined coaching to prepare for JEE. I scored -5 in mathematics on my first test. I felt kind of funny and stupid.
2013 (I barely passed 11th grade and moved to 12th grade)
Eventually, my coding skills improved, I could now differentiate between a++ and ++a. I started working on independent coding projects with a friend of mine. We were trying to recreate the SNAKE game for our CS Class Project. We were quite successful, I coded very sloppily but the product was hit. I was scoring like crazy in school, the bar had never been lower. However, I started waking up at 4 AM in the morning to code. I was dead serious. It gave me an amazing kick. I realized that I feared stage, and before I was over with school, I had to overcome it. I started applying to participate in inter-house competitions. Finally, I was selected to represent in Hindi Debate Competition. I killed it. My Sanskrit skills paid off; I literally sang a Sanskrit Slokha to begin my speech. Everyone loved it. I was the winner. I was nominated to represent the school in National Level Hindi Debate Competition. Which was my biggest break by far. I was unstoppable. I even sang a song on the stage for the first time in my life. I decided not to continue with coaching and to do self-study. In hindsight when I think of it, probably I just wanted to buy myself more coding time. I taught about animations and game development to my juniors when I impersonated my CS teacher on the teacher’s day.
2014 (I passed 12th grade and took a year off for JEE Preparation)
This year we worked on YODHA as the CS Project. A street-fighter type game was developed with a graphics library for C++. I barely passed my preboard exams. I passed mathematics by one grace mark. My father got worried and visited my school teachers. I was asked to join tuitions under my school teachers. I suited up for the farewell. I had lost almost 15kg weight in the last year. I gave my boards, they went well. I miserably failed in all college entrance exams. During JEE Mains exam, I felt like crying. I wanted to run away. I felt what performance pressure was. Meanwhile, my board’s results were out, I scored above 90%. My family was proud. I decided to take a year off to prepare for JEE. I moved to Kota and joined a coaching institute. I gave up my internet connection and all my social media accounts. That was the time of my life when I studied full time. Winters came, and I fell ill. I could not breathe. I started visiting doctors. I realized what the comfort of home was. I realized the value of money. I realized the struggles of having a roommate (and benefits too). There were times when I just wanted to give up. I wanted to come back home. My friends kept telling me that it will get better. A few years down the line, I would think how petty my problems were. That kept me going. I stayed. I kept attending the lectures, practicing questions, and writing tests.
2015 (Wrote JEE and moved to College: Sem – I)
My roommate suffered from varicella, the course was also almost over, I moved back home and continued preparing. It was comforting. I started to appreciate the home-cooked food. I started to appreciate the Masala Chai. I wrote my entrance exams, fumbled up in most of them. I had to choose between studying Computer Science in a not-so-good college and Petroleum Engineering in a so-so-good college. I ditched my love for CS to study Petroleum Engineering. I could not secure myself a place in IIT. I was frustrated. When I joined my college, I had just one thing in mind. I have to make the best out of it. In a month, I had boycotted a mass bunk, lost the friendship of the entire batch, scored highest in the mid semester exams, and won myself a scholarship. I was a scholar again. I realized I had good communication skills than most of my batchmates. I tried learning to play volleyball but I miserably failed. However, in the end I scored a perfect 10 CG. I kept learning programming languages and web-designing. That was my hobby now.
2016 (Sem – II and III)
I won a number of intra-college competitions, that was some extra money. I enjoyed the fame as well. I started watching TV Shows. I was doing good in academics and hence I scored a perfect 10 CG again. This time when I went home for summer breaks, I was introduced to Arduino Uno by an old school friend. When I came back to college I started learning about UNO. And things I could do with it. I made a small team and we did handful of projects. I loved spending my time that way. I also started to learn how to play harmonica. The world of technology was making me all fascinated again. I started doing online courses. I was introduced to Internet of Things and Data Science. And I wanted to tell the world about it. I started ignoring my academics a bit, a hence a result I only scored a CG of 9.5. Initially devasted, I realized this was a big break through. I no longer had to care about maintaining a perfect CG. I would optimize my time. I had no clue what I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. I wasn’t exploring career options; I was just following my hobbies.
2017 (Sem – IV and V)
I found a senior who helped us secure funding from college for our tech endeavour. We restarted Tinkering Lab and later founded Science & Technical Committee. I started doing a course in Machine Learning. The best thing about this time was controlling a physical LED over the internet. My mind was blown with what technology could do. I was constantly in the dilemma between core and noncore. I was selected to attend SRISTI Summer School in Gandhinagar. It was a great experience, I learnt about teamwork, project execution, leadership, and technology development. I took these learnings home with me. I started working on tech projects with my juniors. We had ten teams, working on ten different projects. From flying drones to making utility apps. I mentored all of them. It was a great experience for me. The S&T Committee grew exponentially, I felt like a CEO of a booming start-up, and all my juniors were my employees. It was my job to ensure they learn and make the best out of their time in college.
2018 (Sem – VI and VII)
We organized a successful technical festival in college. I started working on a start-up idea by completely negating my academics. I started reading books, I bought a kindle for that. In that year I read 57 books. By the time the semester ended, I had entirely failed with my product development idea and my grades sucked. I got scared. I went to the internship. I learnt how to simulate a reservoir. The soulful music came to my rescue. When I was back at home after internship, I started preparing for the GATE Exams and college placements which were to begin from next semester. Everything went to the cold box. I realized that I was lactose intolerant. To free up my mind, I started writing on my blog. When I joined back college, I started meditating to maintain my peace of mind. I was getting anxious and nervous about my future. The first company came (it was everyone’s dream company), I sat for the interview. I got placed. I was on cloud nine. Within a month, I received an email about my selection for IPTC Education Week in China. I had a paid vacation to China to look forward to. That semester I scored a 7 pointer, that was a dream come true. Haha.
2019 (Graduated from College: Sem – VIII and Started Working)
I again organized the technical festival in college. Then I went to Beijing, China for a week. I made a lot of friends around the world. One of my most cherished memory was eating Indian food with friends from four different nations in China. Nothing could get more international than that. And guess what, they loved the Indian food. By the way, my team was also the second runner-up for the group project competition that was part of IPTC Education Week. Saying goodbye to all those lovely people was the hardest. I knew my college days were numbered so I started to live each day to fullest. I would spend my time talking to my favourite people all day. Enjoying those last sips of Chai and last bites of Samosas that I was going to miss dearly when it will all be over. I spent a good amount of time this year at home. Often just reading books and talking to friends on phone. I was eagerly waiting for my joining letter. It eventually came in August. I was going to work on an offshore platform. I learned how to escape an underwater helicopter. I learned how to extinguish a fire, how to board a life raft, and how to sail a lifeboat. I jumped in the open sea (with a life jacket). I don’t know how to swim. I travelled to work in a helicopter. I spent a night in an unmanned platform playing cards. I couldn’t attend my convocation because of work, I had graduated with a gold medal. This year I read 60 books. These days I spend 2 weeks at work and 2 weeks with my family at home every month. I did try to start exercising this year but I failed.