So it’s been almost four months since I last wrote something, and lest I forget the fact that I was a writer sometime in my life and before it becomes too late to write anymore, I think I should get back to writing. So hello everyone. What a tiring set of four months this has been, with so much happening in so little time, that should I sit down to tell you what all occurred, I could probably keep writing for an entire day, which is precisely what I intend to do this weekend, because I do not have anything else to do; and why I do not have much to do is also something I’d like to tell you sometime soon.
So this is what I have been up to lately. Reading. The last time I wrote I had just finished The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and had started with Tagore’s ‘The Home and the World‘. That was somewhere in mid-January. Since then I have read twenty two more books. Yes you read that right. So here is the list of books I read in the past four months, hoping it makes up for why I haven’t been able to write much. For reading in itself is such a pleasurable thing that it does not want to make you do anything else.
1. The Sorrows of Young Werther, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
2. 1984, by George Orwell.
3. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
4. Train to Pakistan, by Khushwant Singh
5. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
6. The Sicilian, by Mario Puzo
7. Eragon, by Christopher Paolini
8. Eldest, by Paolini again.
9. Brisingr, by Paolini. It is actually a series of four books, which begins with Eragon and ends with
10. Inheritance, by Paolini, completing the Inheritance cycle.
11. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
12. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
13. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by R.L. Stevenson
And then I read some Tintin by Herge, for I wanted to shift to graphic novels for a while. So,
14. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
15. Tintin in Congo
16. The Blue Lotus
17. Tintin in America
18. Cigars of the Pharaoh
19. The Broken Ear
20. The Black Island
And then I stumbled over Roald Dahl and his short stories, so I started reading his books. The following books by Roald Dahl are on my list:
21. Kiss Kiss
22. Over to You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying
23. Switch Bitch
24. Someone Like You, which I am currently reading.
Honestly, I do not have any idea how I finished so much of reading, other than the obvious explanation that I have been pretty much jobless over the past couple of months. I have included all the Goodreads links to the books so that you could review them and add them to your to-read list as well. But to speak the truth, jobless is the worst adjective to explain what I have been over the past couple of months. For one, I have indulged myself in another hobby which is also one of my two favorite things to do. Yes, travelling. So here’s a list of places I went to this year.
1. South Korea. In fact this happened towards the initial part of January when I was still in my writing mode, and most of the posts that I have written earlier this year were from Korea. Once I came back to India, I started reading the books, which allowed me lesser time to devote to my blog.
2. Goa, the beaches and the love, and the smoke and the drinks and the life and the bustle and the noise and the shores and the sea and the food and the drives. And most importantly, the nostalgia. Set out with my college friends, the last week of January was undoubtedly the best week of this year so far.
3. In February, I made a short trip to Amritsar, the land of the Golden Temple, which was an exquisite experience. The visit to Wagha border remains one of the most memorable moments of this trip. Seeing the border, and the soldiers on both sides, their dedication and pride towards their country, is indeed one of the most touching experiences one can have. It was a pleasure to meet the people out there and be a part of their function, where they exchange the National flags of India and Pakistan, and open their gates as a token of welcome towards each other. It instils an atmosphere of tolerance and a dream of unison. We put up at a friend’s house, and enjoyed the authentic Punjabi flavor of the state.
4. In March, we drove down to Jaipur and Udaipur. Jaipur is also called the Pink city because of the overall red stone used in the construction of the various monuments out there. We visited a number of places, the Jaigarh Fort with the huge cannon which was only used once for testing and never touched again, the Amber Palace which houses the royal family and serves as an excellent insight into the history of Jaipur, the Royal Palace and the Jantar Mantar which was once used as a safety building to save thousands of women during the battle at Jaipur. Udaipur is rightly called the City of Lakes, and it is one of the prettiest cities that I have ever been to. Lake Pichola and the Royal Palace, which is huge and almost takes an entire day to visit completely, provides an excellent insight into the rich history of Rana Pratap Singh and all the warriors that followed. Indeed if I had been here when I was in school, History would have been much less boring.
5. My father was transferred back to my hometown and my family shifted back. So in April, I went home for a fortnight and stayed at Jamshedpur, meeting old school friends and all my relatives. Home sweet home.
So travel and books, yes, pretty much a lot of stuff that I did from the beginning of this year. But that was not the only thing that I was up to. The most important thing that played a crucial role in my life and occupied the most amount of time in my mind was my future plans in life, my Masters.
There are different levels of tensions and thought processes once you decide to study in the United States. The first level of tension is when you are yet to answer your Graduate Record Examinations and the TOEFL. The thoughts right then are only of one kind: you must score as high as possible so that you can apply to your favorite universities. It seems hectic, and specially for international students, it means you have to really score very high in both the examinations. But once you’re done with that level, you never need to think about it again. You are set for five years with that score, and it’s time to start Level 2. This is when you decide which all universities you wish to apply to. You have your scores in hand, and you match their level with the level of the university and see which ones are the best for you. When you have this set ready in hand, you move to Level 3, which is one of the most excruciating stages. Level 3 is when you start penning down your Statement of Purpose and when your professors and managers start writing your letters of recommendation. It is an iterative level, which keeps going on and on and on until you are very satisfied with what you have produced, for the SoP is single-handedly the most important document that serves as a deciding factor when it comes to the university shortlisting you.
So now you have your statement in hand and your professors have their recommendations. Level 4 is applying to the universities you wish to apply to. This is an expensive level. A lot of money goes in, and you know that a lot of it is going to waste, but invariably you still put in. Filling in each form carefully, meeting the deadlines, looking up websites, talking to professors, this level is indeed one of those levels which take the largest amount of time. And then after this level, you just sit and wait. The waiting period is horrible. You have no clue what to do next. You could just pray, or you could just sit and do nothing, for now everything is in the hands of the university. For me, this level stretched for five months. Very long and very tough. And then suddenly one day, you receive your first reply.
It might be the best day for you, if you get accepted by your first university. It means you are definitely going. (Well, not technically.) Or it might turn out to be bad. Don’t worry though, for the next month is going to be full of acceptances and rejects. Level 5 is when you decide which university you really want to go in, if you have more than one acceptance, or if you really want to go into that one university, if you have only one acceptance. I got two acceptances, one from the University of Southern California (USC) and one from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). After putting in a lot of thought, which included reviewing the course structures and finding the best alignments of your technical interests with those of the professors, I finally decided to enroll in USC.
Congratulations! You have an offer in hand now. Level 6 is what you are going to enter now. This is the toughest level, but it also might be the easiest level for you. This level ends with your visa interview. You now need to start preparing your documents, your financial documents, academic documents, these documents and those documents, and lots of more documents. If you’re lucky and if everything turns out to be good, you would get the visa for attending graduate studies. I have just finished this level, and so that’s all I know about this for now.
I finally resigned at Samsung. I am now serving a notice period for a couple of months after which my life at Samsung will come to a standstill.
That much for now. I had initially thought of putting these into different posts but then I finally settled in for one post. I am not sure if I will divide this into parts by the time I post this, but I will definitely post this before the 25th of May, which is the day ‘Abyss 7’ will come out. And for that to come out, I’d need to write that too. So here’s me signing off for now, promising to come back soon.