The Story of my Life
Here's an account of my life as I've known it. It isn't dramatic really, but I hope you find it interesting :-)
December 05, 1979 - Moradabad (UP, India): This day was my first encounter with the light of the day. Although I was born there, I was brought up in New Delhi since the beginning as my father was already settled there. I was a rather sober kid and used to involve myself deeply in my vast collection of toys. I had no interest in people. I was a very fast learner and by the age of 3 and a half, I could recite numerous poems, identify colors and speak clearly.
Childhood: That's when I was sent to school - New Green Field Public School, New Delhi. There I made my first friends, mostly girls. I moved into the main campus of that school when in class I. My teachers in primary school were very much impressed by my skills except for two things - I was a slow writer and very carefree about exams. I made friends with Neha, Ruby, Rashmi, Neelanjana... all girls, you see, perhaps because I was wary of the violent ways of the boys of that age.
My first true friend was Shekhar Mittal, whom I came across in class III. I suffered an attack of Hepatitis A in class V and when I returned he was gone - transferred to some place else and I couldn't get his new contact information. Around the same time I met Sumit Mohan. We had an instant bonding due to common interests (Mirage 2000s newly acquired by India were what got us together for the first time).
I developed a keen interest in Cars and Aircraft courtesy Nitin Ralli. I and Nitin used to sketch warships and fight "World Wars" in our notebooks (Sumit later took Nitin's place in these ventures). I also started sketching cars, bikes aircraft etc.
10-13 years: Teenage started with Middle School that brought significant changes in my life. I was shifted into a new section, girls no longer remained close friends and I was introduced to computers. I met Gaurav Vashishta, Kapil Bajaj and many new friends.
During this phase, I developed a strong interest in computers and English language. I used to be a top-notch programmer in my class and my understanding of logic was good. The inclusion of some children's classics in our curriculum led to an increasing affinity towards English. I joined teams with Sumit and we together created a fantasyland built over Antarctica and became the rulers of the world. The frequency of the "Wars" we fought increased and so did my sketching prowess.
13-17 years: This is when I came to class X and another phase began in my life. I again changed sections because I had opted for Sanskrit as the second language in High School. I came across totally new friends who stayed like Ajay Chandran, Nitin Mongia, Nagarajan (he was "rediscovered"!), Sachin Garg etc. Ajay was my closest friend for the next 4 years. He was the bright one in the class and I tried to match his standards. We even had identical handwriting!
My performance in Sanskrit wasn't exactly impressive but it did come to me naturally and I NEVER had to mug up the Letters and Essays we were supposed to write - they were composed on-the-spot (does it have to do with the structured nature of the language and my understanding of logic? I wonder...). In the senior secondary school I said goodbye to Computer Education (not computers) because I was fed up of the crumbling boxes of 286es that our school had. I instead pursued my other interest - sketching - and took up Engineering Drawing. I was second only to Gaurav in this subject, the other strong ones being Physics and English.
In these four years and in the company of these friends my transformation to a self-responsible and outgoing person came to its completion.
17-21 years: By the time I was 17, I saw myself as a successful Architect. Sadly, my parents did not. I prepared for Engineering and also appeared in the test for SPA without much preparation. The outcome was B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering, my second choice after Computers, from AMU. I went to Aligarh and met my cousins, Safia, Kamran and Anjum, after more than a decade! In the hostel, I came across Mesbahul Alam (sr. in BArch), Najmul Haque (sr. Electrical) and batchmates like Riaz, Ashhar, Wasif, Ambar, Faiz etc. In my class I first befriended Priyank and then Faraz.
Mesbahul was my room-mate and equally passionate about architecture. I spent the whole of my first year honing my sketching skills and taking active interests in the assignments that Mesbahul got. By the end of the year, I was so sick of Aligarh and Engineering that I went home and cried for another chance in SPA. I got my wishes and got myself enrolled in a prep class too. The prep group I joined was arguably the best in Delhi and my coach, Lalit, had great expectations from me. So did I. I cleared the prelim. The final test for B. Arch. was to be held in the morning followed by the test for B. Plan. I gave the test and came out feeling awkward. I didn't feel like giving the afternoon test but my coach asked me to sit for it and I did so reluctantly. The result was astounding: Nothing in B. Arch, All India Rank 6 in B. Plan. A phase of turmoil followed and after that I was sent back to Aligarh.
As a sophomore, I spent my time discovering Engineering as a whole. I tried a little bit of mechanical, some digital electronics, some computers etc. I joined the University Literary Club at the post of Central Club Manager and organized a major fest - "Darakshan: The Aurora". Towards the end I discovered C, and that brought me close to my original field of interest: computers. The year ended with training in IOC R&D Center and that was my first brush with the fast and powerful Pentium Processor.
In the third year I completed my learning of C and soon became famous in the hostel as a top-notch programmer. Just for the heck of it, I wrote a software for the design of Trays used in Distillation Towers, combined my work with that of Faraz (who wrote the program to find the number of trays to be used in a tower for a given task) and wrote a paper. We presented it in SRMEC, Kanchipuram and won the #1 prize! Not much later, I also did C++. I discovered Linux and the idea of a powerful alternative to MS Windows that was also free appealed me a lot. By this time I had made up my mind for a complete return to Computers. At the end of the year, I let go of a Training in EIL, bought a PC (AMD Athlon w/ 128M RAM), installed Linux (RH 6.0) and got down to business. In a span of 2 months, I became a power user of Linux.
In my final year, I worked hard to study for GATE and CST. Besides that I was developing my skills with Linux fast. By December I had installed two distributions of Linux (RH & SuSE) on 5 machines and mastered most of the nuances of programming in C and C++ in Linux. That is when I also took to web designing and this site came up in October 2000 (in a different, smaller version). Then on I studied for GATE and CST full-time. The results were encouraging: 89 percentile in GATE; 93 percentile overall in CST (99 in C, 98 in OS). I then concentrated on my final year exams. I prepared for them like never before. The hard work paid off and I graduated with a Ist Division
After leaving Aligarh, I wanted to either do M. Tech. in Computers or take up a Job. I had applied for a job in NCST (the R&D divn. of the Ministry of IT, India) and they called me for interview to Bombay in July. I was lucky enough to get the job and I left for Bombay on September 22, 2001
Bombay - The business capital of India: I joined work on September 26, 2001 - a day after my Dad's 50th birth anniversary. It was perhaps the best gift I could have given him. I felt a little apprehensive about having to live away from my home for really long time but the City drew me into itself and it didn't take me too long to accept it as my home. What struck me the most about this City was it's color - literally. Theres' a lot more color here than you can find in Delhi. Then there were the crowds that made me use the phrase "Happening on the Streets" to describe Bombay. Of course, the fact that I have three well-established cousins here was the most significant in enabling me to get started with my life here. Other things were the easy (though expensive) availability of quality food, the company facilities like 3 dietician-supervised meals a day , a flat of my own in a posh (I mean it) locality with transport to and from there and a relaxed work environment with lots of computers around and congenial colleagues to boot.
2003 and beyond: The story continues on my journal. It is unlikely to make much sense unless you track it regularly.
This was the story so far. Stay tuned for more!
SPA: School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. It is India's top ranking institute for Architecture and Planning and is also a deemed university. Back
B. Planning: This course involves planning of Housing Colonies, Habitat, Urban/Rural Resources, Transport etc. It has quite a lot in common with architecture but involves more books and less drawing that it. Back
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