A CommonApp Backstory I Didn’t Tell

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The Professor asked the creative writing class to write a story “that involves sex, mystery, religion and royalty; and you have one hour!” Within five minutes, one student got up, handed in his paper and left. The professor read his four line story.

Oh God!

The King is dead.

The Queen is pregnant.

Who did it?

I laughed. Mom told me her favorite joke when I was only ten, kissed me good night and turned off the lights. My mother never did try to keep my feet on the ground. Always, she told me what all was possible, irrespective of what was probable, or even proper. She never told me that anything was something I couldn’t understand, but let me try, and stood by to help me if I asked. She taught me to imagine before I knew, and to appreciate the beauty of perspectives. A math teacher herself, while she instilled in me a joy of rapid solutions and numbers, she also showed me how to prove four equal to five, and amazingly, all it takes is a few basic math laws.

Sometimes, I think knowledge hasn’t been as important to me as imagination. Knowledge, to some extent, is a good book away. But to expand my imagination, I have no tricks and no guarantees. I tried imagining ‘six impossible things before breakfast’. I wrote stories and rewrote all the names. I tried to imagine a new color, until I got a cross between peach and brown and pretended that it was original. Imagination has become my closest friend. It is also my most trying one. And it is a gift my mom chose to raise me with.

Dad taught me more practical things; the machinery of a world. A man rather obsessed with meditation, organisation and assisting, he roped me into all three as soon as I could write. I rejected meditation outright, my already developed imaginative mind mocking the concentration demanded from it, changing the silence involved into waking dreams. But I happily picked up the other two. There are countless incidents in my life when sheer organisation has made everything -academic, personal, random- so much simpler and easier. Being collected also benefited me in managing my time and consequently, in helping others, and anyone who knows me today knows that I will be there when they need me.

What I am is significantly touched by other members of my family as well. My little sister is a living testament of the power of optimism. My grandmother taught me Mahjong, an old Chinese game, that adds to my life of wonders. My uncle took me across India, as I followed his transferring Air Force home, collecting music and endless hobbies along the way. My grandfather showed me that all you need to do to travel first class on an economy ticket is ask. The list is endless, just like the lessons. The result is me; Icarus, with long wings.

Today, this positive-positive combination is the bedrock to my strength. If I am known as the Ruchika that doesn’t break, its because I know how to handle hard-hitting situations. I know how to put seemingly larger than life moments in the context of time, to project my feelings in outrageous proportions just to ridicule them and make them palpable. I fail, feel lost and get hurt, but I know that anything is only as grave as I let it be.

Even if they didn’t specifically know the ripples of what they were teaching me then, my family has given me this world in an oyster. They’ve equipped me to achieve anything I truly want.

Now, I just have to choose where I want to start.


Start Up Days

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The best thing about being in India, in eleventh grade, is that Craziness is CERTIFIED. It’s not just the scheme of my school, the thing is, in eleventh grade every one every where goes ballistic down a rat race to form, form, and form a winner profile, and then to apply to BIG colleges.

The sad part about this, is the moment you let your passion be your sole concern, that’s when you start getting Ifs and Buts in your plans. The Indian education system is perfectly moulded for the Science and Commerce people. Talk about the Arts/Humanities and you mean Problems.

In very simple terms, we have a cut off system in eleventh grade. In the results of tenth, those students you get 9/10 or above are eligible for Medical Studies, 8/10 are eligible for Non Medical Science, 6/10 are eligible for Commerce and anyone else, gets PUT INTO Humanities. I repeat, Anyone Else gets Put Into. Of course you can always OPT for Arts, as I did following passion, but then you are greeted with very very raised eyebrows. Are you stupid, they ask. If you’re not, are you bent on wasting your school years, they ask then. Oh you want this field, so you ARE stupid, they spell verdict.

Anyway, this isn’t a whiner post at all, today. This is a celebration post. I found sense in eleventh grade, and in the first two weeks too, hurray.

What is the good part about humanities. Field trips. Taken for granted, so kinda free. Time to breathe as there is no extra tuition or coaching centers. We do get the maximum holidays too. Pluuuusssss, we get to waste time.

No seriously, that is very important, cause Imagine a day after a lot of heavy theory subjects, like Political Science and History, and all this in a school where you read from textbooks only and other resources are your own extra digging. So when we get lots and lots and lots of reasons to waste some time, we like Humanities.

Today, for some abstract reason I haven’t yet fathomed, eleven-thees were on the prowl, roaming free and frolic. There is some kinda Math Conference tomorrow, so we had something that resembled a trial run today, and many volunteers, most of them from the ‘useless humanities’ were “busy” with that. That left the rest of us innocent bystanders with very less class strength and very disinterested teachers. Ohh, it gets better!

So, to put all us eleven-thees under one roof to make it easy to watch us, we were called in the Auditorium, where some silly film about an Indian mathematician, Ramanujan, was played for us. Now everyone knows that was just a herring, no one expected us to actually listen or the volume would be appreciable, the teachers only wanted us in one place and all accounted for.

That’s where my friend circle comes in. When you choose a stream, you choose YOUR stream, and all your friends from the previous class are dispersed. Now we are all teenagers, and we are all rather emotional and possessive. So I took my nine periods of school today as The Opportunity to meet anyone and everyone I knew. And that worked just fine.

I have friends in every class, and every sphere I engage in. Sure, some are very special friends, but it’s pretty established that I’ll find someone to talk to anything I sign up for. When you’re just separated from long friendships and put in heavy streams like Humanities, this is important.

Back to the Auditorium we are. So we are “watching” a film, and we are all talking. Two of my friends from the row behind me engaged me in a debate on how good (they said) and how bad (I said) a new TV programme was. I said it was so typically American that it wasn’t really American at all. They laughed to that, and I cried after that, as another friend aimed a paperball at my head.

This guy is Ankur. He has symptoms of ADHD (just kidding), is destructive (not really kidding), and has very similar interests as mine. First we talked about upcoming Video Conferences, Debates, Seminars, Student Exchange with Foreign Countries, Blogging and also some tests like SATs… Then, drained of such mundane things, we dismantled a fallen ID card and shot it into the crowd. I don’t know how I became so senseless.

He then shrieked “Eish hairy!” looking at Ramunjan’s chest in the film, and while I recovered from the laughter, he was moving towards the front rows where the chairs became sofas and I followed him, with two other friends. It was a tight squeeze for all four of us to fit in one sofa, but we did it, part because we really all just wanted to sleep, and part because it was fun fighting for space.

My friends, are saviours.

Later in the day, I had a seminar about education outside India planned with the insane dude from above, Ankur. Secrets of the trip include why we were going for this particular seminar. We are interested and blah and blah.. but we admit, Most of the reason for attending was because it was held in a Good 5-star hotel.

Ok everyone, lay back, and imagine…

Golden and cream doors, with polished glass and valet service pronto. Scented air conditioning. Wide corridors, flower decor, carpet to muffle the footsteps, huge crystal ball afloat a porcelain saucer that together made a sort of fountain. A second fountain where the steps at the end of the hall began, and this one with tiny orange and golden fish in it. Violet and deep blue flowers in every nook. Glossed handouts outside the seminar hall and inside, a BUZZ of ambition and a JINGLE of intelligence.

It’s these kind of places that remind me what dreams mean. Dreams… are our personal world of 5-star.

Tonight, so, my word for all the eyes that read these words now is, Please do remember to enjoy. New beginnings I find may be hard… But with friends and a little dreaming, these start up days can become bliss.

Getting FPed

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I shouldn’t probably have said ‘FPed’. Yeah. That’s not a very cool phonetic sound. Uhh! Now I got to rate this post A (for adult)… or at least PG (Parental Guidance). ‘Peed’… uh-oh.

Freshly Pressed
Oh thou divine merit list! What bloggers like this loyal spirit of mime would give, what we would give, to reach thy pure shores! Thy sweet nectar, thy Fresh Press…

What I really mean was ‘Freshly Pressed’. Getting Freshly Pressed. Dearies who won’t catch WordPress Jargon, Freshly Pressed is that WordPress window where the top blogs of the day get their own box and that’s what every blogger aims for. It’s like our own personal hall of fame, only you can check it out by going to WordPress’ homepage. But do stick to this one too.

Now to the story behind the title- ‘Getting FPed’. (Or should it be Being FPed? Totally need practice for that IELTS Test!)

A reader dropped by this site recently. I can’t give you his name but he goes by ‘Lightning Pen’. And you should realise that I’m deducing he’s a he, by the words he used and all, I don’t know for sure. If you are reading Lightning Pen, who won’t also put up a picture for the mystery of it which is so fun by the way, please come to our rescue, eh?

So, with this reader what happened, I sent, as usual, a message being thankful for the follow and asking how he had found my blog. Yeah, that’s what I do. I like to know.

And this is what he said-

Freshly Pressed is where I saw and enjoyed your blog, just so you know! They post all the top blog’s there continuously all day long! Didn’t mean to bother you, just thought you were talented

I swear I read the entire comment. AND I replied. But wait a second! Wait a holy hour! FRESHLY PRESSED!!! Are you freaking serious?! Already? I got it! I did?! I am the queen of the wor- No wait, scratch that. That’s too common…. umm… yes. I’m the blogmaster of the blogs!!!

Don’t worry, the delusions don’t last very long. And this one was particularly fast to burst. The higher you go, the harder you fall, wasn’t it?

Because this was the trouble. I never saw myself at FP. And I am a diligent checker. I am, because I always hoped to be surprised by seeing Address Isn’t Available! on FP before the surprise of the messages and likes on the blog.

So yes, like a mad dog, I checked through the past archives of FP, HOPING that I was wrong. But WordPress put up with the rave only through three pages and then astutely stopped me from going back through the reel any more.

But the harm was done. The idea was in. And the dreams had begun.

To be Freshly Pressed… already… just now… as yet… wowww…

And this is what I have in mind, to do when I am Freshly Pressed. Notice there is no if … my ego gets larger every day, and I blame it on the blogging. It’s just so mystical. Anyway, What I’d Do-

  • OVERKILL: I’m sure you already know how much I can get carried away, specially with saying saying- Thanks. So this is what I’ll do. I’ll write a blog with a Youtube video of Queen’s We Are The Champions with a triumphant picture of mine which, as I found on Google, would be strikingly similar to this-
    Overjoyed Face
    Weeeeee are the champions, my friendsss!

    We are the champions my friends! We’ll keep on fighting till the end! ….Cause we are the champions! No time for losers!

  • And then, I would click dozens and dozens of pictures of the window that has my blog on Freshly Pressed. And I’ll frame some and I’ll email some, to my friends and specially to my rivals. “Oh, you got that mail? That’s weird. I didn’t send it to you… a glitch probably. Yeah… that was my blog. No, no big deal! I knew I was going to be Freshly Pressed anyway…”
  • Then I’ll send  nice long letter praising the hair, the eyes, the wisdom and the beautiful beautiful taste of the person who put me there.
  • Then I’ll casually drop the word in at school, and have everyone rave and o awe-eyed at me. That would settle the viewership tally from then on.
  • Then I’ll throw a party and drink a lot of apple juice pretending that it’s champagne and dance and dance and dance.
  • AND THEN, I would log back in. And sit at the computer for HOURS  just watching the blog slowly tick lower and lower on the Freshly Pressed page as new blogs made it there, until I would have to go back in the archives to see it. And then I’ll go back in the archives and see…

Alas, sweet alas. For all of that though, I would first HAVE to be Freshly Pressed.

Yup. Yet another one of those times when I only just hear about a competition/ project/ etc and start dreaming having won it. Like that time when I sent my entries for a tagline to Delhi. Sigh. If dreams were true, I would now be some thousand rupees rich and a small celebrity.

Won’t it be ironical if I got Freshly Pressed for THIS post, say?! Are you listening, apostles-who-answer-prayers from the WordPress offices? That would be something right? Remember the long letter! I’ll make it public! I’ll send it to the press!




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Destiny. Fate. Luck.

“I make my own destiny.”

“Whatever you do- you can’t run from it. It’s all pre-decided.”

Heard this before? Been confused? I for one have been thoroughly rattled by this madness. Sometimes I think, What rubbish! If it all really is decided beforehand, I should just sit and watch TV because what’s supposed to happen will happen right?

And sometimes, won over by perplexing things like Deja-vu and dreams, I say, Oh gosh! It is happening. I’m a part of something very big going around here. There is a pattern… There is a ‘why’ behind everything. Surely, some things are just supposed to happen.

I usually connect EVERYTHING that hasn’t been explained in this confusing topic. And thence begins the eternal battle.

“KIDDISH! There was a time when I believed in Santa! It only takes knowledge to dispel such things.”

“Knowledge hasn’t explained hiccups, has it!”

“Are hiccups really my defence for these absurdities? Destiny? The course of our lives written already?”

“What about The Leaning Tower of Pisa then?”

Leaning Tower Of Pisa
Does thee not behold the magnificent hand of Atlas that holds the Tower in place?

“What about it?! It’s some very explained thing with the ground!”

“Why doesn’t it fall?!”

“It’s not that steep yet! No God is holding it up, geez!”

Or if the feeling of mystical fantasy is outdoing mundane logic, the argument goes-

“Whoa! Things are so beautiful!”

“I wouldn’t stop such optimistic thinking, dear mind, were you not associating it with a divine being, and mystical activities! So STOP FANTASIZING!”

“How can you be so blind! Can thou not see the web we are a part of? Today itself thou had a vision, didn’t ye? Didn’t ye see, in thy dreams, how you had lost your science book. Can’t find it now, can ye? And this moment- hadn’t ye felt it coming? Hadn’t ye seen it before, happen exactly so?”

“Dreams are just ramification of the human mind. They are no sorcery! Psychologists have proved how we tend to see dreams of things affecting us at the moment, and the exams are coming up.”

“Is that so? Then do you not dream about Leonardo di Caprio? I wonder how your mind dreamt THAT, since you have never met nor spoke to the man!”

“THAT is irrelevant to this discussion!”

“Is it now? And what about greater things like shooting stars and tooth fairies? Don’t you indulge in such ideas?”

“Man has always wanted to let his imagination run wild. That’s how mermaids and sea serpents came up. However it is no harm to indulge in a little fantasy!”

“A little fantasy! Explain ghosts then- the cold they leave behind in ships drowned by mutiny, the curses they leave behind in old houses they were murdered in!”

“It’s just the brain playing tricks on us! We want to believe there is something beyond us going on.”

“And isn’t there? What about people who have risen from the dead?”

“Taken into shock, ability to hold breath for long, fits and other explained answers.”

Edward Cullen
“Bella, you call this beautiful? I’m sick Bella, will you stop drooling please!”

“Draculas? Vampires? Edward Cullen?”

“Myth, myth, and jaundice.”

“Oh you are just evading the depth of these things! Fine. Tackle the heavy stuff now-

Explain a completely healthy person standing before you in a line for the most important interview of your life, suddenly having a wheezing fit making him leave the line and you getting the job.”

“Not keeping well lately, that man.”

“Jack Sparrow avoiding all the bullets as he dances his way out a bar in Pirates of the Caribbean- Dead Man’s Chest.”

Jack Sparrow
“To imply that I am not lucky is to imply that I am not Captain. Savvy?”

“Director’s humour.”

“OHHH it’s useless! Don’t you see- Chance? LUCK? You yourself have had a HISTORY with it. Luck, luck, luck, all the time. The new teacher had to get ONE section, and he got yours. The P.E. teacher was giving everyone punishment and YOU got away. The bollot was to choose ONE person to give admission, and IT WAS YOU!”

“Luck’s okay…. A string of incidents happen prior to every case of good or bad luck that can completely justify it, we just don’t know what.”

“Yes… things happen for a certain thing. You say yourself- DESTINY!”

“Oh come on! If it’s already written that I’ll be a Professor at Harvard, just tell me and save me all the rat race! Scholarships, years at college, PhD! For what? For something already supposed to be mine?”

And the Bomb.

“Great. Explain Bermuda Triangle then.”