Sunday, June 3, 2018

Graduating soon.

Stanford has been the most privileged place I have ever lived in. There are a lot of things here that I never had before, Being in privilege can make you less whining. I feel less inadequate after coming here because in general, I got challenged but I mostly thrived.

But this is a place of an extreme solitary life. When I spend weekends in the library, there are so many other people like me who are sitting alone and working. There are 23 libraries for people to hide from the crowd and immerse in their space. There could be weekdays too when you can choose not to interact with anyone. Because for most of the day, I haven't talked to anyone, I end up with barely managing to say Hi to someone. One can pass a day without talking to anyone and still with work run rate of 14 hours. This is drastically different from my work life in India where you don't even drink chai alone let alone lunch or dinner or work alone.

It's not that I don't make friends easily. I have made some really close friends but practically no one has time because they are all ambitious people around here. We want to maximize the number of courses we take, number of people we are able to meet, number of weekly hours we go to the gym. When you make those choices, social life takes a hit. And then few of the days you meet a prodigy, a genius, people with a magic wand and their halo makes you want to push yourself harder to match the awesomeness.

There are some evenings that are not bad. Like the last night. Three of us Indians sat down over a bottle of whiskey and discussed every left and right issues of the planet, fought over the songs to play, settled on a DJ arrangement, discussed crushes etc. just to feel familiar with what we have left behind back home. These kind of days are helpful for surviving here.

I am graduating in less than 3 weeks from now. I have almost made it in this place. Exhaustion is kicking in but so is the sense of learning and growth. I love how life never disappoints me. It comes with lots of promises. I have gone through a fair share of grief but I know it made me humble to embrace the enormity of an institution like Stanford. I am going to surely miss this place. This was beautiful, more beautiful because of my solitary days. No better way to be with myself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Spreading Wings

I am sitting in the Green Library of Stanford University. I am in the third quarter of my Master's program here. By mid-August, I will be completing my Master's in International Education Policy Analysis. I haven't written on this blog in a long long time and it was time I talk to myself and to all you unknown people who read it and make me feel connected with myself.
I feel I have come a long way in my journey. I recollect my memory of a child who would sit in the train every month to go back to her college and cry for going back, leaving her mother back home until next time. Today, I don't have my mother waiting for me from college but her memories are still as fresh and pining as always. I have two good sisters who make it easier like her. They mirror lot of her qualities so much so I act younger to my younger sister. I have world's most beautiful nieces and I am so glad that my sister decided to have two children. They are adorable and make my life beautiful.
I feel I have come a long way in my journey. I have some deep friendships that I lost but those made me wiser. I used to wonder that forgiveness is the only way to move forward. A while ago I had a debate with a school principal that how she believed in punitive justice and how I believed in restorative one. I worked with juvenile children who were committing crime every day but their redemption lied with people who would not judge them. I thought the only way to save the world and oneself is through restoration. But when I see an 8-year old girl raped, I wonder if restoration is possible. Shouldn't the people who abuse their power be punished? Gandhian principles would say forgiveness is the only way and I grew up believing in those. But I was tested in my friendships and I realized forgiveness is never an easy road. To truly forgive when you feel you are wronged is the biggest wisdom one can develop overcoming their ego. I failed in overcoming my ego in the Gandhian test. It is my experiments with the truth.
I feel I have come a long way in my journey. I am filled with inspiration to build a great career after my Master's program. I haven't found the job that I want to do but I have realized the reason I didn't become a lifetime software engineer, is the reason that fills my senses with aspiration to be better. I didn't want just another career. I wanted a great career. I have always been ambitious. And this place, some of the professors are just so intelligent that it blows my mind and tells me that all the small steps that I have taken will someday lead to my own unique meaningful road, like it had thus.
I feel I have come a long way in my journey. When I worked as a software engineer nine years ago back, I used to have this efficient life - where I would cook, do housekeeping, work hard - kick some ass, exercise every day and have the biggest grin on my face at the end of the day. Those kinds of days have returned. I am still the same person with the biggest grin at the end of the day especially when I am cycling back home at the end of a long night in the library. There is not much difference in those days and now except that I much more self-sufficient, more frugal, yet more free and much relaxed. I am back to basics in some sense. I am conscious of how much waste I am throwing, how much water I am using, how much time I am whiling away. It makes me feel in harmony within and around.
I feel I have come a long way in my journey. I did my second 10-day Vipassana this past December and like before it made me a whole different person as I came out of it. I have less expectations of people, more listening ability, better observation, better reflection and more centredness. I am so grateful I did this again. The insight I receive is always more profound than I can possibly learn from anything else.
I feel I can go anywhere I want to and go anywhere I can. There will always be a birdsong in the morning. People from every country are made of those same complexities. Every nation is failing and succeeding. Every human being is selfish in love and yet every parent is not. The journey is longer; I have to put some more building blocks before I write the end of my story. Until then, I keep going. I wish people well; the warmth of their families, some inspiration from their work, and aliveness from within. Love. Saloni.