The A to Z of what I learnt in college…

Avoid procrastination: It isn’t cool. It’s stupid.If there is something that needs to be done, do it. (PS: I am still working on this!)
Build friendshipsAfter everything that was learnt has been forgotten, after all that was earned has been lost, after moments are mere memories, these will stay.
Credibility is everything: If you have said you’ll do something do it. . Keep promises. People should know you are somebody they can rely on.
Debates> Discussions:  Discussions are formal, sophisticated and best for the conference rooms. I prefer debates. Only when ideas are challenged and attacked and tossed and turned, does real real thinking happen.
Ending what was begun : I started web designing, PSoC,finance and a hundred other things and quit midway when the novelty wore off. Not the wisest thing I’ve done. Always choose depth over breadth.
Fonts are important: Comic Sans MS is cool, but it is hard to take you seriously when your mail looks like it has been written by a 5 year old. Pick a set of formal fonts, and stick to them. I still use Cambria for headings and Callibri for text. Old (DoSM) habits die hard.
GPA matters: Atleast in the first few years after college.Yet it is probably the most commonly given, and most commonly ignored advice in BITSian history.
Humility will take you places : No matter how good or great you get, always stay grounded. Everyone you meet is better than you at atleast one thing. Respect them for it. If possible, learn that one thing.
It goes on: Robert Frost said he could sum up the essence of life with these three words. I think he was right.
Jaha tak ho sake pyaar-mohabbat se suljha: Those hallowed words I had heard from a department thirdie after a minor hassle during my first Waves on campus. It will surprise you how paths meet. As far as possible, try not to make enemies.
Keep Learning: 42% of college grads never read a book after college. There are courses online. There are books. There are people. Learning can happen anywhere. Extract every bit of it, from every place you can.
Life is not unfair. Life is indifferent: You will be tempted to play victim, and saying life is unfair is the easiest thing to do. The universe doesn’t hate you. It doesn’t give a damn about you.
Music- explore good music: Yaani,Beatles,LedZep,Doors,Floyd,Coldplay, the list can go on. DC overflows with music. Explore as much as you can. Create a playlist of favorites. It will help you, in good times and in bad.
No matter how good you are at something, there is always someone who is leagues better than you. 
Over those campus walls, and beyond the beaches, there is a world, explore it: Visit the lake behind campus. Just sit there for a while and enjoy the silence and nothingness. Go on the odd EPAC outing. Watch birds. Have fun.
Pursue your passion: As cliched as it may sound, college is a place where you find yourself. Try things. Find what you love. Be great at it.
Queer,scrappy,bitchy,arrogant,sloopy: You’ll meet them all. People tend to be different. Don’t try to change them, you will almost invariably fail. Learn to live with them. The real world will be pretty similar.
Room doors should always be open: When you aren’t studying, or doing anything that demands privacy, always keep your doors open. Wind and ideas are good for you. Let them flow.
Scrappy is good: Everything in life will not come easy. Fight for what you really want. Its okay to be obsessive, no matter what they say.
Teams are critical: No matter how self reliant or Howard Roarkish you are, a good team will always do wonders. In projects, in startups, in LIFE. As the old saying says if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.
Use what talent you have: Never ever refrain from trying because you aren’t good enough. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the ones that sang best.
Vocabulary: Don’t use awesome and epic to describe every phenomenon on the planet. Read books.Pick the odd newspaper. Build a good vocabulary. You’ll need it.
Worry will get you nowhere: Give it your best, and lay back and enjoy the view. Li8, if used in the right sense is a wonderful thing.
Xerox copies of important documents can come in handy. Also, it is okay to come up with lame points when you can’t find a good x word.
You are probably getting tired of this by now: Know your audience. Present accordingly.
ZZZZZ: Sleep. Often and regularly. These things have a habit of catching up with you in the long run.

[Taken from my Quora answer: http://www.quora.com/Birla-Institute-of-Technology-and-Science-Pilani-1/What-are-the-best-life-lessons-that-you-learned-at-BITS-Pilani/answer/Ganesh-Nagarsekar ]

Watering a dead plant.

He has made a habit of it,
Joining the broken branches with gum and glue,
and then staring at it wistfully,
as if it were new.

It is broken though,
and that way it will always be,
But what choice does the old man have,
he’s too old to plant a new tree.

He dreams about the plant that was,
tries to revive it, but he can’t,
so he sits there, rickety bones, sagging skin,
watering a dead plant.

And as the people pass that old man’s shanty,
they look at the naive old fool and smirk,
As he toils to make a dead thing alive,
make an engine-less tractor work.

And then when they are done smirking they ‘turn,
to their sour relationships and dead end jobs,
watering a dead plant of their own,
drowning their days amidst stifled sobs.

A girl walks by selling saplings new,
but no one pays her heed,
And the world goes on, watering a dead plant,
too afraid to plant a new seed.

the dog sleeps

It’s eleven at night
when I leave the room
the moon lonely, the stars alone.

The lights in the houses are going out
darkness-beautiful
begins to sprout

Men collapse in bed
One more day of their life
successfully
sold

The children fall asleep
waiting
for stories
that will never be told

And by the street
I see a dog
Its chest rising
falling
in perfect rhyme

In a chaotic world
grinding to a halt
this picture
so
sublime

They work by the day
and worry by the night
the heart never at ease.

Men may have all the wisdom
But the dog sleeps in peace.

An attempt at trying to mimic Charles Bukowski’s writing style.

Yourstory is awesome, so that’s that.

Okay so as you’ll might have figured from the the first part of the title, being subtle isn’t my forte. As for the second part ,you’ll get to know more about it by the end of the post! :D So, now that we have got that sorted, lets move on to ‘the story’!

Image

One fine summer afternoon!

So it all started one fine summer afternoon. Actually, it wasn’t really that fine.Okay, so it all started one ordinary summer afternoon. I was aimlessly browsing through the web, like I so often do. Reading answers on Quora, sharing lame jokes on facebook, browsing through random tweets; you know… regular stuff. Just then I came across Varsha’s tweet. Now I had been following the entrepreneurship scene in India for quite some time, and had started blogging regularly from around December. So this seemed like the perfect thing for me. But my luck with “things that are perfect for me” hadn’t been that great. So I looked at this tweet, like one would look at that girl one year senior to you, that you knew you had no chance with. Silently I scrolled down, to the tweets below -the pappu jokes and the condolence messages for celebrities no one knows until they die. But somehow, I couldn’t take my mind of that tweet.They were the country’s biggest platform for startups, so my chances were really slim. But then again,in the immortal words of Howard Stevenson isn’t entrepreneurship all about that…

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.

So I dropped Varsha a mail. Surprisingly she reverted back really fast! What followed was a lot of telephonic interviews, assignments and discussions with Alok and Jubin, and with a perfect combination of luck and effort I got in!

Today, I’ll completed 6 weeks with the YourStory team and will be going to Kerela to do my PS-2 (PSD >.< ). Anyway, it has been one hell of a ride. For future interns, I’m not going to say it’ll be easy- but it will be worth it! In the past 6 weeks, I have written more than I ever had. I interviewed founders and CEOs, big an small. From guys had just started two weeks ago to guys who managed assets in the mid 11 figures! And the learning curve has never been steeper! I have read and researched about god knows how many sectors, understood tid bits of the funding world and squeezed in a tonne of fun in between! All through the journey, the YS team was always there to help and guide. I am not very good at emotions and stuff, but here’s a line each for each of them as a small token of thanks!

Jubin- my senior and mentor, who writes beautifully both on the site and on his personal blog. Amazing person at heart. Thanks for teaching me everything. And thanks to both you and Alok for the farewell treat(and the banana:P )!

Raghu- The child trapped in a adult body! His tech writing and storytelling style are out of the world! Ever jovial, ever smiling- a super fun person to be around. Cheers dude. Keep writing!

Varsha- The most innocent closer ever! Loved those chats about pinky, mongi and BPGC , even more so due to your funny Hindi accent! Now, coming to the all important  second part of the title… that is dedicated to your characteristic line during the daily scrum . ‘ So yesterday we closed a deal with XYZ, so that’s that! ‘

Kirti- the sweet elder sister figure. I still remember my first article which she had proofread- had almost a hundred mistakes, which she patiently checked and at the end of it,she said-”That’s it, other than that, it’s perfect :P” The article went on to feature in the popular posts! Thanks for that,and everything else.

Alok- the guy who took my first interview, who came to pick me up when I was lost on the first day of work. Here’s to the long rickshaw conversations and endless memories! PS: Thanks for the farewell treat too!

Bhushan the guy whose world revolves around Quora, Steve Jobs and books! Retain your..ummm…weirdness man! I have a feeling it will take you far. Btw sorry for the delay with your visiting cards! :P Keep reading, keep coding!

Dhyani The ever excited design guy! Amazing person. The design of everyday things is on my to read list thanks to him! Amazingly frank and honest about everything, a quality that has become really rare these days.

I could go on and on…Neenu, Sumnesh,Alex,Amit (amazingly good at what they do. Unfortunately didn’t get to know you guys that well), Ashwin(fellow intern, fellow BITSian, fellow everything! Sorry for my dark side yesterday :D Just ensuring you didn’t miss college ),Zaman(haha,as I write this,  I am grinning thinking of Raghu doing your accent! :P), Hardik( Amazingly humble and talented guy, it’s a pity we could get to know each other for only 10 days!) ,Chandan (One of the most dedicated people I’ve seen. Also one of the only person in office I was kinda afraid of… maybe it’s the formals, dunno! But seriously respect your dedication towards your work), Samridhi (All the last minute pre workshop work and fun!) and ofcourse Shradha!

Thank you for everything guys…This has been a really long post, so I’ll end it here. It started of as an internship, and ended as an experience. Had a wonderful six weeks with you guys. Cheers. Keep being awesome, keep growing, keep rocking! :D

Are you passionated?

Hola Grammar Nazis,
Yes, I know passionated isn’t a word.Now with a heavy heart and an unsatisfied ego… Read on!

So I do this column for Student Story every Sunday, where I write about students who have done something extraordinary in school or college. This week I had an opportunity of meeting a young lad from Bihar, who is doing some amazing work with gesture detection applications for android phones.(Story) Somewhere during the conversation with the Yourstory team, he used the word passionated. Shradha, our founder corrected him, and I watched as he  tried to internalize the word, lip syncing to commit it to memory.  Later the same day, I was talking to him about his work, getting to know more about his projects, and somewhere in the conversation he used the word passionate. Exactly as he had heard one hour ago! Now it was a pretty normal word, but his willingness to learn and accept new things so enthusiastically was what truly amazed me.

I have always loved such people. Maybe I have a soft corner for them since my mother comes from similar backgrounds. At the age of 10, she came to Mapusa to pursue high secondary schooling. Having spent her entire life in Betul( a fishing village in rural Goa) learning in a Marathi medium school, she entered this English medium school, with a vocabulary of 20 words! How she managed to survive even a day in school, I have no idea. But she did. Armed with a dictionary and a will to learn, she completed 5th. By the time completed her sixth grade, she was not only somewhere at the top of her class, but was also doing extremely well in extra curriculars. That small clueless girl from that remote village, went on to do her Post graduation in Philosophy, from the best college in Goa.

Now the reason why this blog post came up is that, very often we find ourselves in situations where things don’t go our way. A hundred things stand between you and that thing of your dreams. Trying to block your path with all their might. Now you can look at them, in fear, and recede to one corner of the room and spend the rest of your life there. Or you could confront them. Learn what needs to be learnt, do what needs to be done. And as the world watches you, a tiny little creature, marching against everything in the world, with an open heart and a will to win, it will align itself, to see you through. As long as that passion and will prevail, there will be hope. There will be more Redbuses, more Nayi Dishas, and more Gharpays and in the legend’s words, the WORLD WILL BE BUILT by people no smarter than you and me, because they had the will and grit to see their dream through…

So what is holding you back?

If you like what I write or would like to stay in touch in the hope that maybe one day I’ll improve, do follow my blog! :D

http://www.facebook.com/blog.gsn

Page views and Integrity.

Imagine you are the CEO of a major manufacturing conglomorate, and you have an option of using substandard material in your product, thereby dropping the prices and increasing sales.What would you do?

There comes a point in the lifetime of every individual and organization, where they will have a choice- the choice between being popular and being great. Recently I have seen many major blogs on the web, using the most ridiculous headlines, distorting facts according to their own whims and fancies and making the juiciest stories on dead celebrities  just to gather a few more page view.

It is a toxic wasteland out there, filled with noise and clutter with people battling over SEO, and acting like savages over breaking news. Yet amidst heaps of page views and alexa ranks, amidst all the stats they throw at you, is a small little elf, sitting quietly in the corner. An elf called quality. An elf you can still see in the blogs of people like Paul Graham and Seth Godin and closer home Amrit Pal .And seeing that elf stay strong, even when everyone around it is succumbing to the craze- makes me happy. Reminds me to keep my focus on the right things in life.

So the next time you create something, don’t worry about the numbers. They are important, but secondary. Create with an intention of delighting and fascinating the few who do use your product. You may not have a very large following to start with. You may not grow ‘virally’. But the people who like what you do will come back, and get more people with them. You will grow organically; slowly and steadily- until you reach the top- and stay there.

Normal

He sits there on the park bench as people go jogging by. There is no mild calming breeze, no colourful birds chirping glorious songs , no fragrant flowers dancing in all their bloom; it’s normal. In Beckett’s words, the sun shone, having no alternative, over nothing new. He wonders why there were so few songs or poems on these moments. The moments of no glamour. The silent melancholic rut called life…

As he walked home alone that day, quietly away from the clinic, his own thoughts confused him. This was supposed to be the best news he could possibly get, yet somehow he wasn’t happy. Two weeks ago he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and given less than a year to live.Today his doctor had told him that it was a misdiagnosis and that with a prescribed dose he would be better, live a full life… You’re perfectly normal, were his exact words.

Normal is a strange word. All our childhood, we are taught and molded to be normal- bribed with toys, threatened with a few beatings , instructed how to fit into the crowd. Yet, there comes a point in every life , where we crave to be something beyond normal. Most often it is love. You fall in love with an art, a job, a person- anything. And then, this loves makes you crave to be something beyond normal, to be- special.

The irony of his life was that he had started living the moment he started dying. All his life he hadn’t fallen for anything. The things that made him feel special were not the paintings he drew or the woman he loved, but the impending sense of doom brought by death.  He had gone on mountain treks,tried ice skating,had tons of street food, even booked a ticket to Ladakh… tried to fill as much life as possible into the days that remained. Now that he was living, now that he was normal, he could go back to what normal people do.

He sits there on the park bench as people go jogging by. Moments of a normal life, silently just passing by.

If you could live an eternity and not change a thing or exist for the blink of an eye and alter everything, what would you choose?

Why a writer kills

From where you stand, you’ll fall, into an ocean, an icy freezing ocean of death and despair; she will keep you there, until you’re completely numb, the last shred of hope has left your body, and the last breath of air is about to leave your lungs. Then , just then, she’ll pull you out, and take you to the clouds of happiness and eternal glee. To heights from which all problems seem distant, and life seems blissful.You will look down to the beautiful view. Love the way things are going. She’ll keep you there, let you enjoy the feeling; and just when you’re getting used to it, she’ll give you a small push. From that height, the ocean will hit you like a brick,and you’ll curse her, with every ion of energy in your body, you will hate her for doing it to you; and yet, if you had a chance to do it all over again, you would still go to her.

She sits there, in full knowledge of this fact.

And yet as she finishes her final draft of the novel, it kills her.These characters, mere names in a book for some, are things she has weaved and nurtured. In the recesses of her brain, they are as real as her cat who sits mewing, waiting for its milk. She has molded them, given them names, identities, crafted their virtues and vices.For a writer a character is like a child. And it physically hurts her, knowing that she’s making the reader fall in love with it, only to take it away. To kill it or worse,to show him, that his hero, that one person he idolized was infact an evil man.

Yet, she has to do it. She knows that is why he comes to her. There is enough ‘okay’ in his life. She knows he doesn’t come to her expecting moderation.A man doesn’t read fantasy for ‘normal’.

He thinks he wants to see the grandeur of Minas tirith and the beauty of a thousand elfs, but in truth he wants to see Frodo suffer, so see him get tempted,his friendship shaken, him getting hurt,tried and tested on his journey to Mount doom, and still reaching. He thinks he wants to see the phoenix in all its grandeur, quidditch matches and wizarding duels, but what keeps him hooked, what he remembers, is how a man gave everything for a love that he knew was never his, a young boy lost who his parents, his godfather, his mentor, and endured it. She knows, that even after all those pages she has written, he will remember one thing most prominently – Sirius in book 5, Dumbledore in 6, and in 7 Severus, Fred and Lupin & Nymphodoro.

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La. ~ George R.R Martin

She knows they love the wonder, new worlds, magic and wars, light sabers and spaceships. But she knows they start, and stay , for the journey. And journeys must end. Some earlier than others, some painfully, some happily with their full length. But end they must.

She leads him on the journey. And on the way, she shows him scenes he will remember and cherish forever, imparts wisdom that will forever stay at the back of their head, and ignites a childlike wonder that he so desperately needed.But every once in a while, she will have to put an avalanche, a dragon or a dark lord in his path.

The things he will hate, but things that are needed for the journey.