August 30th, 2006

I remember those days, when we know to do only one thing, ‘freak out’. It was my Degree admission time and the air was filled with a unique fragrance across my college, I wondered what could be it? It was filled with fresh paper scent, coming out of those thousands of application forms, a bunch with each one of”em. Coming out of my +2 (we call Intermediate in Andhra Pradesh, India), my family wasn’t too happy about the fact that I did not get an admission into one of those Engineering Colleges. That was not my take, never. Times were tough in my family, with debts growing like the weeds in front of my house and cash flows were synonymous to Hyderabad water scarcity. Father really couldn’t afford a lot for my college and we had not much choice. I could understand those times, but it was not an age to think too much and I was not really ready to carry those weights on my shoulders.

It was coincidence, may be destiny,that I got the admission into the same college as my close friend Anil (who was my neighbor) did. To add icing to the cake, his father was the superintendent to that college (see, we are already seniors in the college!). Our major was Math and Sciences (Physics & Chemistry) at the college, which is like a default choice for many, I should say millions here. Other disciplines are considered absolute rot and waste of time. Speaking about waste of time, it was our muse for most of our college time.

First day of the college was fun. We were in a bus that already knew Physics. It was mostly bent towards one side (the side being the hanging super-heroes like me would be seen), and the bus’s buoyancy was keeping it still on the road, probably earth’s gravitational pull was so strong that, it made the bus not to escape from its atmosphere. Of course, it took next 6 months to study more about ‘angle of banking’, etc, which is completely true about our buses. As ragging was more common than teaching in colleges, we decided to have some fun on our first day. Posing as seniors in the college (there were many disciplines in the college and the chance of knowing every other guy is not a reality) and called upon a guy. After ‘playing’ with him for a while, we came to know that he was actually a 2ND year student. We asked him “why the heck you didn’t tell us?”, his reply was, “I was just checking to see how you guys rag me”, (what a fool!) and he left. We are actually lucky that he did not ask us too many details about our class, nor found that we are freshers. We spent like couple of hours near the college (I forgot to mention you guys, that we actually did not went inside the college, all this drama was outside the college premises) and then went on to see a new English movie. Day one came to an end. We Hindus believe that we should never have obstacles on second day (no matter what you do, its obvious that this was meant only for good deeds). So we went to another movie on the second day.

It was the 3rd day that we ‘witnessed’ our first class. Interestingly it was a Physics class. It was that day, we both guys (me and my friend Anil) saw how many guys were in our class, approximately. There were others who believe in 3rd day and saw one more movie, which is another story. I think we had close to 30 guys in the class that day. We have roll numbers and the lecturer would first take attendance.

Remember, we just came out of the college and are ‘completely’ ready to taste the bite of graduate college, its freedom, irresponsibility and seldom education. Graduate colleges, specially Degree colleges are known for their freedom and liberty (British did not know this earlier). It was our first class, so our ears were little attentive and eager. The classroom was filled with air of excitement, and we guys were seated in the front rows that day. The lecturer (it will be bad on my part not to remember his name) Lakshman Rao, asked each one of us to introduce ourselves, and we did. You know what, when you hear a voice for the first time and you know that you are going to spend the next 3 years with that guys, its an experience, hard to describe, but filled with lots of fun.

As I said, we guys were little eager that day to see how a class goes in Degree college. The lecturer started his class. Most of us have already opened up our ears to maximum and our eyes were completely circular. He introduces himself to all of us, briefly, and told us the most important lesson, we ever learned in our lives.

“I know you guys are here only because either you couldn’t get an admission in Engineering or Medicine, or your parents really don’t care about you, as you are getting a ‘Degree’ for some nice dowry. Fortunately, this is life’s most exciting period and you will all have a big blast this 3 years. I advice that you put more concentration on what you do next than what you do now. No matter what Degree you have, you will have to write an entrance examination, to go further in your career. And you need a first class degree to write the entrance examination. Remember and mark these words in your brain and your heart.”

The next lines were the guiding principles of our lives, at least mine, and I never crossed the line he bestowed upon us, till today.

He continued….”59 is worst, 61 is waste and 60 is best..” He was taking about we getting those percentages, and told us not to under work that we get only 59% or over work that we get 61%. Its just enough to get 60% and then put all our efforts in the next entrance examination for our Masters Degree. Its looks like a simple formulae, but philosophically, its a great truth and our life’s realities closely match it. We should only so much effort to reach our goals that we only reach that goal, nor a post before, nor more. Its exactly like golf. When you pocket the ball, you should never stop before the hole nor cross it. Its a guiding ‘mantra’ that I follow even today, and with or without the knowledge, most of us DO.

This is the story of 60.