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A Decade in Review

2009 marks 10 years of radical change in my life. I am not the one for writing stories, but would like to note down different experiences that affected me the most this decade. This decade brought about change like no other.

  • 2000-2001

    I was 15 when I passed the screening test for IIT (but did not make it through the main entrance exams), scored among top 1% of all Indian students studying CBSE syllabus, and was the President of my school’s Students Council. In other words, I was a frog that was successful in a small well. I got an opportunity to study Computer Engineering in Singapore which threw my world upside down. I was used to wearing only salwar kameezes (with dupatta), praying twice a day, speaking/thinking in tamizh, talking only to girls (I studied in a girls-only school), listening only to old hindi songs, and here I was among a crowd of kids who spoke in English/Hindi, wore—what I used to call, “western outfits”—had boyfriends/girlfriends and talked about their favourite bands. I have always been around my parents, and here I was in Singapore, with the prospect of at least the next 6 years alone. Needless to say, I was shedding tears everyday and getting comforted with ice cream.

  • 2001-2002

    I had reached a new low. I was shocked and disappointed when people I knew in the university refused to help me when I asked for help (though strangers did!) I was lonely, and more determined to make friends.

    Meanwhile, I had discovered the internet (I did not know about its existence till I came to Singapore). I felt quite comfortable talking to people online. I then started speaking with confidence to my batch-mates in real life. I went to the gym, I started wearing clothes that blended in. Deepak taught me to assemble my own computer, and I was downloading songs/software, and installing flavours of Linux (and for my mom). Also, I had switched to thinking/speaking mainly in English.

  • 2002-2003

    I started to blog, and was spending late-nights learning Photoshop and Freehand. I worked on my Final Year Project, which was to generate a map that tracks your path through my campus on a mobile Linux system (PDF) (yes, the precursor to your Android Google Maps!). An IEEE paper came out of this project (because of my suggestion to use of XML for communication from the Map Server). Till this day, I receive spam from organizations asking me to "submit a paper".

  • 2003-2004

    I became an economics and finance geek. I wrote about the Asian Financial Crisis (very naïve when I look at it now), and about the Gold Standard (again naïve), I did quite well in my business minor classes. I was very disappointed when finance companies did not hire me (I was hired by Motorola to do device driver development). I was envious of many of my batch-mates, who did not seem to show any interest in finance, but got hired anyway. On the bright side, my blog was one of those popular ones in India (I still have no idea why).

  • 2004-2005

    I got an opportunity to become an in-house designer and copywriter for a start-up. Meanwhile, I also completed the Landmark Forum which altered my thinking drastically. That was the beginning of me being a skeptic. I stopped practicing religion. I was more aware of the judgements I made of people, and less worried about “what would people think”. This was the year I deliberately practiced rational thought and decided to chart my own path to success instead of the one that society deems acceptable.

  • 2005-2008

    I started freelancing. I had a great time working from home, though I never had “holidays”. I managed to travel a lot more than before and on the cheap. I no longer feared not having any money (I knew I could work), and started to enjoy life instead of waiting for retirement to do so. My mom started blogging (pardon the intrusive advertisements).

  • 2008-2009

    I got married to Deepak (I don’t believe in marriage, but life is easier legally). I moved to Seattle. I am glad I am here. I have found so many people willing to welcome a stranger with open arms (all you Seattle people on twitter!). US is annoying and mesmerising in equal measure. My parents have discovered the wonders of Youtube (and spend less time watching TV).

So there is my story from the time I was 16 till now. I am sure everyone of you must have had life-altering circumstances and experiences sometime in your life (and I am definitely not alone in this), I hope this is of help to anyone who is going though similar period in life.

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