Monday, May 05, 2008

Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get

I turned 25 (by Tamil Calendar) past weekend and will be turning 25 day after tomorrow according to the English Calender. It has been a great 25 years, though looking back I have mixed feelings towards it. The one thing that comes to everybody at this stage is "I have done something, but is it enough? Am I on the right track? Am I doing well in comparison to my peers?" and it comes to me also. And I dont know the answers for it. 25 is a big milestone that I had for a lot of dreams but hardly anything matured :( - either I was too unrealistic in my dreams or was too lazy and gutless to pursue them. I'm particularly a tinge disappointed with the last 5 years, as I think I have lost the momentum that I was building towards the end of my teens. But, looking another way it is a comparatively calmer portion of my career where I spent good portion building the basics. I drive my dream car, work in a reasonably good company, live in a place i like a lot, have some money and got a few good friends. So, not too bad.

I feel like I have left the whole career dream of becoming a Professor/Researcher, as the life is taking me to a different path. But, I'm also moving more towards what I was dreaming all along in my childhood - Economics and Humanities. Till my 10th grade I was not that passionate about Science as I was with Humanities, and now after exactly 10 years and I'm yet again at the crossroads - which path to choose?

It will be too hard to put everything i have done in the last 25 years... but I want to recount for myself the last 5 years. There are no significant achievements, no resume grabbing stuff... 3 of the autumns were spent in applying for higher studies - one each for MS, PhD and MBA and only the former succeeded and the later two ending in wasted seasons. All the GRE, GMAT, Subject GRE, TOEFL and stuff took a bunch of my energy :(. Maybe this year will also be spent in a similiar pursuit. Apart from this two of the years were spent researching - one each for my undergrad and grad thesis. And a short while was also spent in getting a job in undergrad and the position here at Microsoft, but these didnt take a lot of energy.

But, there was some achievements in the order of priority :).

1. I finished all of Asterix series and most of Tintin :). I was a pretty slow reader till 5 years ago and spend most time with non-fiction. i was reading everthing from Vivekananda to Gandhi and I used to pull others leg that they were reading childish stuff. I guess I was wrong. So, i took a u-turn, put down all those spiritual and other stuff and read dozens of amazing fiction. Finished all of Ayn Rand, most of Crichton, Orwell, Sheldon, Archer.... I felt fiction greatly expands the mind and allows you to think better. In the next couple of years, i have a 100 book list to finish and will be done with most of them from Ulysses to Passage to india.

2. I finished most of Academy award winners since 1928. Movies is yet another thing where my opinions were wrong. I felt they were waste of time and had only entertainment value. Looks like I was watching the wrong stuff. Once I got into Citizen Kane, To Kill a Mockingbird and the likes, I felt a totally new world. Particularly in the last 2 years I made it a point to watch every great movie ever taken. I have still 150 more in my main queue, but atleast i got around to finish 300so far. I cultivated a taste to like the award winners, silent movies and black&white picture and I'm so happy that I have seen a lot of these stuff. Within the next 3 years, I will be done with my main list of 1000 movies. I will come up shortly with a big post on all the great movies I have seen so far.

3. Driving. I was a big bike lover and still I am. But, the last 2 years I feel a new passion towards driving. One reason is my Mustang convertible. For a very long time, I was dreaming of a Red Mustang Convertible and here I have it. Though, my eventual dream is to drive a Enzo Ferrari, I'm pretty happy with my car. I learnt driving myself 2 years ago, directly taking the car alone to the freeway after my friend gave me bit of intro to the mechanism. Ever since I have driven 10's of thousands of miles and it is one happy thing. Last May, I drove 5K miles in 3 weeks with my parents as a single driver and I long for such long trips. Now that it is summer, i will be using my affectionate bike (in the same color of car) more often... but still my car would retain the status of the lover...

4. Traveling. I was always traveling. But in this 5 years was a whole lot more. Had great trips around US and Canada, couple of good trips to Singapore and Malaysia and a trip to Europe. Lots of good memories. In the next 5 years, I plan to travel a whole lot more, particularly if I'm married by then.

5. Learning economics and finance. This is one thing that is pretty different from previous 5 years. I read a bunch of economics and finance stuff in the last 5 years and hopefully will be applying them in the next 5 years.

6. Academics. This was one thing that i didnt pay as much attention in college as I want to be. I had 75% attendance and was not a topper in the class. In Masters, I wanted to change this and got a 100% attendance for 2 years (first ever for me) and a 4.0/4.0 GPA. Though not as important as finishing Asterix series, still this brought some happiness to me.

In a lot of ways, this last 5 years is a bunch of building blocks that i feel will be part of my final construction. The construction is in a big mess, with a lot of heterogeneous stuff thrown in, and everybody close to me have decided that I'm a confused lot trying out too much. Hopefully I will disprove them and then show that even the unfinished projects (almost every project I started) will be a big part in my final goal. Only time will show who is correct. The investment in the last 5 years will be added with those in the next 3 years and hopefully, I will have my day using and applying whatever I learnt.

Let bygones be bygones. What is most important is the years to come. One should always remember the video of Randy Pausch:

Hopefully, i will be able to satisfy some of my childhood dreams like Randy. Maybe someday I will be able to set out to the place I'm dreamin for.