School, college, job. That’s the rationale behind the perfect stable life fed into us by the shackles of ideologies encompassing our society. I’m just another victim in this vicious cycle that drained out every drop of passion and zeal. I was one of those robots programmed to follow this similar pattern of monotonous living. Endorsing the age-old principle of ‘herd mentality’, I was on the path to becoming a technically sound engineering graduate. NOT.
Once college commenced, I was buried deep in the rubble of failures in the facade of re-examinations (ATKT). I was never a quitter and thus went through with the herculean task of mugging up mighty derivations and theorems. I was aware from the start that it was going to be a rat race, exactly like that portrayed in 3 Idiots. But this was not the big screen. It was as real as could be. However, as ‘lady luck’ would have it, this treacherous existence shredded the remnants of any spark and hope within me.
One day, a casual visit to an orphanage shook my beliefs and transformed my entire perspective towards life and people. I was embraced with love and affection from innocent unknowns who are burdened with despair every second, every day. Their angel-like, shiny eyes and thirteen-teeth smile in spite of the pain behind those swollen small fingers deeply touched me. I realised that I was living in my own bubble. After that day, I became conscious of not treating my life in its abstract form. After all, there is so much more to it. My life had a new direction and change was the new motto.
My first step to uphold this fiery spark in me was to join MAD (Make a Difference), a non-governmental organisation that changes the lives of young orphans through the means of education. I started teaching underprivileged kids with a thought that my life is connected to them in some way or the other. I felt a bond amalgamating over time. They began to mould me and strengthen me for the change I believed in. Along with pursuing engineering, there I was educating India’s next generation. Soon, I became the vice president of the Mumbai chapter. I am now proud that the whole movement was taken to the apex level by spreading the word to those people for whom these small things ceased to existed. But my friends started judging my actions as good, bad and stupid. To my surprise, most of them thought I was crazy to waste my time; they deemed it as a non-lucrative and non-constructive activity. They told me that I was missing out on all the fun. But I knew I had to be the voice and if not me, then who? I feel that results lose their mettle when one has to put up a face to be socially uptight and answerable to society.
I realised that engineering was never my field. On the contrary, I was engineered to study concepts of life to make changes and to bring about a difference in society. People have stopped looking around and many have lost the concept of being selfless. In all modesty, I wanted happiness rather than a pocket of cash. Inevitably, the big question of ‘Where am I really going with all this?’ struck me. All my friends were getting hot jobs with top IT companies during college recruitments. To add to it all, the act of telling my parents that I wanted to be a force of social change didn’t really help. Pretty soon, realisation dawned upon me and I was steadfast in believing that life is too short to hold back on dreams. It’s too petty an act to choke our urge to express our passion. It was this realisation that found me as an intern at Godrej India Culture Lab. I had been to the Godrej campus once before through MAD, where I got a chance to interact with Mr Parmesh Shahani who heads the Godrej India Culture Lab.
The culture lab is a think-tank, which aims to study the textured nature of modernity in contemporary India by brokering innovative and meaningful interactions between academia, the creative class, the business world and civil society. It’s a platform that brings the world to India. The idea inspired me. Soon, I was travelling to Godrej more often than I used to go to college! I have learnt so much from the new experiences that I continue to encounter every day. For instance, we recently hosted Tadao Ando for a lecture. I had no clue about him till I read about him. I was left gobsmacked. He turned out to be the Sachin Tendulkar of architecture; a living legend. It was great to have him talk about his work and the changes that could bring about in our city. It inspired many people to put on their thinking caps. It felt great to facilitate such motivation to people around. This incident certainly added fuel to my engine and strengthened my beliefs. Right things happened at the right time for me. And I know for a fact that I will continue to explore the non-clichéd facets of life. The most interesting observation and realisation here was how a single and seemingly small act of passion gave birth to a bigger opportunity and that is what I will always strive for.
When you do good things, they come back to you. I’ve seen and experienced it. Today, the youth has immense power to change the world and take India to a path of global illumination. For the world, we might have a lame imagination only till it becomes an innovation. But to watch inspiring movies with hard dialogues, liking Facebook posts or tweeting about things isn’t going to help us get anywhere. We need that fire to ignite a renaissance; to bring about that revolution to change the world around to make it a better place.
I might be too young to comment on such things, but I know one day in my lifetime, the change I’m helping with will contribute to a change in the world. It’s because I aspire to reshape our present into a better tomorrow. Drive your dreams through success and that is what will eventually make you happy. This is a lesson in life that I will preach to my companions. With every disappointment comes struggle, with every struggle comes opportunity, with every opportunity comes hard work and it’s said, hard work pays off.
Volume 2 Issue 2