Saturday, September 27, 2008

BITS-Pilani: Where the Journey Begins...

In times of solitude, which are many and long, during my psentisem (last semester at BITS) I have tried to figure out this place. I mean seriously, what is it in this sleepy desert village that it takes in some of India's best raw unpolished talent and turns them into such wholesome fine young men and women. The question has always baffled me.

Most youngsters who enter Pilani hardly know anything about the real world, as most of what they know comes from Physics and Chemistry tomes and can see the world only from various frames of reference. Newton's physical world and today's practical world are as different as chalk and cheese.

Now the irony lies in the fact that what is taught here is in concurrence with what they have learnt, a continuation of their science studies. The curriculum doesn't have courses on leadership, self confidence, integrity or a drive for excellence, but then how is it that everyone I see around me, each and every one that is going to pass out this year has all these qualities. I can feel, almost see future CEOs, entrepreneurs, scientists, professors and venture capitalists. I can list people who will stand out in any crowd anywhere, but they don't here. Here they are just part of the herd.

A lot of us come here as stars of our muhallas and schools, teachers' pets with dreams of bettering others like us. It is only a matter of days, (an hour for me; the initial interview was sufficient) and then it hits you. A shock that most are unprepared for, that there are others, many many others like and better than you, that too in every way. The realization hits you again and again and again, as you see those around you shine while you're just looking for space to breathe. The seclusion of Pilani makes it all the better or rather worse. There is nowhere for you to hide, nowhere to escape, everywhere you go you see the same people, the same faces, and are rudely reminded of your mediocrity.

The environment is such that one finds a way, one HAS to. It is in this journey of self discovery, this battle for survival, this fight for recognition that one finds something that one likes. Something that one cares for, that had always been buried within, and gets the best at it.

This is why you will see that most of us, as rightly pointed out by a certain friend of mine, are generalists. We will be good at a lot of things because we've tried a million things. Failure doesn't depress, there's no time for that. It's just a step closer to the goal.

Most of the things I've said will be found in any self-help or motivational book. All I can say to this is that, BITSian life is a book in itself with you in the lead role, and all our stories are worth publishing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What is so special about OASIS?

What is it about OASIS? What makes it so special that ghots(read very very studious BITSians) emerge from their shells and begin a celebration of life. I have seen OASIS from every perspective other than as an alumnus. As a silent participant, as a semi-involved organizing committee member, as a StuCCAn(member of Chief organizing committee) at the helm of matters and now counting down to 20th October as a satisfied psenti-semite(my last sem on campus).

Now we have plenty of wonderful wonderful things to tell about OASIS- seclusion from the vagaries of urban life, truly awesome organization by totally inexperienced persons, the peaceful clear night sky, the music in the air, the 96 hours of non-stop celebration. But these somewhat fail to explain why all and sundry revel in it so much.

Most similar organizations would say that they do it for the participants, for cultural exchange, to get people talking about their college, and for popularity. But not OASIS. OASIS is organised for selfish reasons. We BITSians love to be the best at things, and OASIS is one of them. We do it for ourselves, to satisfy our inner passion to do something BIG during our BITSian lives. Every OASIS just HAS to be better than the previous year’s, the participation HAS to improve, the events HAVE to be better, the outstis HAVE to feel more at home and leave with wider smiles and a heavier heart. If we were doing this for others, this fire would have been ousted within no time. But the fact that OASIS has been up and running for nearly 40 years testifies to this.

And you know what, this is the bestest most special thing about OASIS.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The trouble with A7

A lot has been said about placements this semester. Now I am a very apolitical guy(lol) and don't want to get into any controversies so I am not going to post any details... at least not until there are companies yet to come.

Now I don't think I will be going against any of the guidelines that I have laid down above by stating that non-A7 people are.. how do I put it.. disgruntled by the present situation and are reviewing their options and 3 years' past decisions. And I don't think I would be wrong to say that they, during the last month have spent a few painful introspective sleepless nights.

I will relate to you an incident that shows how different the other side of the coin is, how greener the grass is and how true Bill Gates' quote is, "LIFE'S UNFAIR. DEAL WITH IT!"

It happened a week ago. All our royal A7ites were already... ahem well placed, and the rest of us were looking for better options, to put it mildly. Now comes Google. Now from my point of view, it is THE Dream company.. or rather a fantasy company, one for which most A7ites should be willing to give an arm, an eye, a testicle(if they have one or two :) ) and a close relative.

Now I attended the PPT(pre-placement talk) to get a feel of Google. Now after the usual listing of various awards, historical events, financial worth and the like, they came to the package. Now I don't want to give figures but they were offering two and a half times of what I would gladly accept from an IT job.(..hey wait, I think I actually did). Now I looked around and nothing could prepare me for the sight I beheld. All of them looked at each other as though there was an insect they were trying to shoo away. The audacity! They're expressions were like, "Is that it? No No there has to be more". MORE MORE, Now for a few seconds I had thoughts swirling around my heads, mostly involving close family members of A7ites, but I somehow kept them to myself.

Now the wing had plans of a trip to Delhi the next day. Now I felt that these guys wouldn't come. I mean, its Google after all. So when I asked they replied, "Nahin yaar, Google lite. Bhagwaan kare GOOGLE ke test mein pass na ho. Saala man hi nahin kar raha tha test dene ka". This statement if, said at any moment of time other than this, to any person whatsoever, anywhere in the world would have been dismissed as witty sarcasm. But what it brought to me was... pure unadulterated "WTF?". I mean c'mon, God. I know life's unfair and I'm trying to deal with it. But not this... anything but this. The trip was planned such that I could come back and sit for a job that would have paid me marginally less than the half of Google's pay package, all in the name of a core job. And here we have people carelessly dismissing the company that is identified with their discipline. Truly amazing.

Lesson learnt-
Will try not to kill someone next time something similar happens, or at least plan better so as not to get caught.

About Me

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I am Arjun P. Kamath, and I am a nice guy to know.