The Year in Review

Not bad, I guess? Laughed a lot and cried a little and mostly staved off growing waves of ennui and “stuckness”, bit by bit, and often not for very long. Not that there weren’t a lot of good moments. This year I’ve come closer than ever to accepting that life is mostly just little not particularly meaningful bits piled on top of each other, and not always combined in a structurally sound manner. But even if I were looking for it, the narrative I’m constructing looks happy enough, from this distance 🙂 .

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal (Wikipedia)

January was mostly just settling in and being pleasantly surprised that some of my courses this year were actually interesting, capped up by the Jaipur Literature Festival and Saarang (the cultural festival on campus), which I skipped so I could go to Jaipur. Did catch the Hammerfall concert at the end, which was fun, and had a cozy if rather tame party afterward.  I’d been planning to write a rather long post about the litfest, but I guess that never happened, which is the usual result any time I plan too much about a blog post. To summarize: it was awesome fun, I got to meet Alexander McCall-Smith and Niall Ferguson and William Dalrymple and listen to some awesome music in the evening and there were a lot of lectures and discussions and we got to see the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds, literally) . The main reason I wanted to go was to just take a break from the routine I’d been stuck in for a very long time prior to that, and I managed that and then some.

I really should start keeping a diary, because I don’t seem to remember much at all about February and March, and the blog doesn’t seem to have anything very useful. Also I am now realizing just how completely random most of my posts are. In any case, I don’t think I did much. I remember me and Slicer got 2nd in the Litsoc (inter-hostel contest here in college) Debate, which must have been around that time. I also remember that I became more interested in VLSI Design, continuing a trend I’d been observing since the semester before. I had to write GATE to be eligible for my grad student stipend this year, and although it’s a really easy exam there was a little scope for panic because I actually registered for the wrong bloody exam– electrical and electronics instead of electronics and communication, which apparently is far closer to what we had been doing in class for the last 4 years. In any case, I cleared it easily enough- we need to get in something like the 75th or 80th percentile, I came in just under the 99th, I think- so overall it was a very mundane 2 months. Apparently. For the level of detail I can bring up, I may as well have been Obliviated.

April was hostel nights and emotional farewells and a lot of dehydration. Oh, and endsems. It was pretty fun right up to that part.  After that, I was too busy worrying if I might actually have failed a course for the first time ever to really notice what was going on. (Spoiler: no, but I only just passed.)

May was a trip to Kodaikanal with my family, which went pretty much like you expect it to go: interesting, comfortable, and mildly fun, at least for some definitions of fun. It was also a month of raised and dashed hopes- I finally got accepted for the internship at Schlumberger/Harvard, and then my US Visa application got placed on the “additional processing” list, meaning I couldn’t join until a month after the date when I was originally supposed to get there, which meant that I would have only a month or so there, which brings the whole purpose of the internship into question.

June was sitting around and worrying and figuring out an alternative plan to do the internship, whereby I would drop one of my courses in the fall semester and join 2 weeks late so I would have enough time to do something in Boston. And a trip to Cochin for a cousin’s engagement. I don’t recall much here, either -although it’s better than my memory of the Feb-March period- but more than that I don’t think a whole lot happened in this month that I would care to bring up in a summary. Small joys, dull pains.

Statue court in the New York metropolitan museum.

Statue Court at the Met

July was Boston! Lots to say, although I said a lot of it here, which has everything about the first two weeks. After this I actually got started in earnest and did some work for my internship -by the end of the month I’d sent in the board I was designing for fabrication, I think- and there was a weekend trip to New York where I met 2 friends and an uncle, and all 3 were fun. Unfortunately, at the end of the month my phone crashed, and like an idiot I hadn’t taken a separate camera along, so I lost all the photos I had taken from 14th to 29th July, including the whole New York trip. I had a lot of photos inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was truly awesome – I can sincerely use the phrase “a giant labyrinth of treasures” to describe it. The Met is insanely huge, so the single afternoon I spent there allowed me to cover only a very small portion of it, and I know I’ll want to go back some time.  The next day I visited the Cloisters (a separate branch of the museum in the form of a recreated medieval abbey) with my uncle, who is something of an enthusiast and gave me little bits of background information on all the pieces there.

There’s a lot more to say about New York and Boston and what I did, but this post is going to get far too long if I do, so I will summarize and say it was a lot of fun and apart from a fair bit of drinking, nothing particularly scandalous happened. Not that I would have mentioned it here if it did, of course, but it was very comfy sort of good times, which, while pleasant, was a little disappointing. But only a little.

View of Boston skyline from Gasson Tower Bosto...

View of Boston skyline from Boston College. (I stayed opposite BC, in a very suburban area.)

August was more fun in Boston, and touristy stuff there -I would like to talk about the funny old guy who was the volunteer guide at the Boston Public Library (awesome again, not only because it’s the oldest in the country or because of its size but also because of all the artwork inside it and its architectural significance) but it was a very “you had to be there” sort of funny.

Boston Harbor - Double Baked / Color

Boston Harbour: Image by Raymond Larose via Flickr

I also visited the USS Constitution, the oldest floating commissioned naval vessel in the world, and went on a Whale Watch Cruise twice (awesome the first time because it was effectively free and we got drunk on a boat, awesome the second time because we saw whales! And huge ones! And up close! And we got drunk on a boat). We also visited several more of the things to see in Boston that you would find in a tour guide, which I will skip over for now. We here refers to A and me, who I’m hoping will click through to this post when he sees the link on Facebook. We had fun, man!

August was also weddings and other fun here in college, but I’ll skip over that, too, except to say that it was all good. September was more little ups and downs, pains both dull and sharp. This I remember, but there’s nothing I can talk about here (a pair of protected posts from that month describe one angsty part of my troubles, if you know me enough to ask for the password), so we shall move on.

October was slow progress on my dual degree project (master’s thesis) and preparing for/writing GRE/TOEFL and so on. November was more work on the project, followed by some sort of preparations for campus placements, followed by me deciding to give up on applying for MS/PhD until after I had got a job, at the very least. Nothing more to say here because nothing more happened, or at least nothing that merits re-counting here. Yeah, it was a sad few months, in retrospect, but I guess you can’t avoid a bit of drudgery every now and then. And of course there were all the usual little spikes, so it wasn’t all bad.

In December, I got a job! As already mentioned. It happened on the 2nd so it shouldn’t be the only thing to say about the month, but it dominated most of it in terms of mind-space, which I guess is not so weird. I would like to repeat here the stories I’ve already told about the interview process, with all my gripes and cribs and that sweet sense of relief at the end, but I’ve done it too many times now in casual conversation and it’s probably of limited interest to people from outside IITM. Of course December was also Xmas and all the things around Xmas… food,friends, family and fun, not in that order. A lot was eaten and drunk. A lot was said and non-verbally communicated.

Oh, and I saw an Audrey Hepburn look-alike at Kumarakom Lake Resort yesterday. She looked so similar that it was a little bit surreal. I would go on, but this post is way too long already. So, Happy New Year everyone! Hope to see you all next year.

PS: October/November had Creative Writing week, for which we wrote that story, so that counts as something, especially since we got second! Not as good as first, but a lot better than nothing.

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