Ok, It has been a long time (8 months!!!) since I posted anything here. And not that I have been busy, in fact I have been enjoying the best vacation ever for the past 2 months and 2 more to go :). There have been a few changes. Life has been good. I can sense a general feel good factor, simultaneously also the awe of ‘how can everything just go the way I wanted?’ (recall: Murphy’s law!)
I recently got the US visa and hence the so-called ‘pre-and-post-application process’ is over. While reflecting back on the past 4 years spent in CoEP I have found a strange connection. And this post is going to be about that.
I was recently supposed to make a presentation’ about myself’ at the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation’s Orientation Program. And we were told not to speak about things on our application for the scholarship or resume. So…what do you speak about when you are not allowed to speak about your achievements?…you speak about failures!
Yes! I made a 10-minute long presentation about my failures- and it was a nice experience. We never really get a chance to speak about our failures. I was totally excited at the prospect of being able to do that, especially because my life has been full of failures 🙂 I did n’t even rehearse…I had so much material to talk about 🙂 I talked about ” connecting dots”
“You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future,” says Jobs. “You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”[Steve Jobs:Stanford Commencement Ceremony 2005]
Jobs believes that everything happens for a reason and although that reason may be hard to see at the time, sometimes you need to just sit back and have faith that things will work out in the end. Trusting your own decisions is often one of the most difficult but necessary and rewarding experiences.
So getting back to the point- I introspected and found that most of the things that happened while I was in CoEP were because of being the right person at the right time at the right place. Moreover, there is a strange connection of dots in the things that happened.
Going back to std 10th- I failed to clear the STS round for the NTS- while all the friends around, who were almost equally capable, got through- I was the only one left out. It then just started accumulating- like a pile. I wrote the Maths Olympiad exams and could n’t make it to the highest levels. I spent 2 long years working hard for JEE and then again failed to clear the Mains Chemistry cut off by 2 marks. Then came KVPY- my project and research proposal- both were summarily rejected. Something was wrong. Everything I tried doing turned out to be a failure.
July 25th- 2005- I entered CoEP. While I was struggling to get familiar with the new peer group around (32 out of 70 of my classmates were Board toppers from their respective regions-and obviously I was not!) there were people around who kept harping on the point that I am making a huge mistake by not repeating JEE. I don’t know why but I never really gave a second thought to my CoEP admission. And it so turns out that it was perhaps the best decision I ever made.
Initially it was still the same old story at the beginning of my BTech. Up to second year, life was normal.
I had learnt discrete math and fermat’s thm during my preps for maths olympiad (a place I had already failed at). I had attended a lecture on Cryptography at IUCAA on a science day (the day on which our team miserably lost a school quiz comptn- another failure 🙂 ). And I had gone through the De Moivre’s identity proof during my preps for JEE (JEE=another failure).
Strangely, all these 3 things combined together- led to a serendipitous algorithm design. Sometime in my Second year, I was doodling on my desk- and suddenly an idea clicked- to generalize Diffie Hellman using functional equations- and using De Moivre to form a key generation protocol. Tada! The tide turned.
Fortunately, my Dept Chair took the idea seriously and told me to convert into a paper-and then rest of the things just followed.
Thinking about it now- had I not had those utter failures- INMO, JEE and the IUCAA quiz – this serendipitous change would have never come my way.
There is some learning involved in every single failure. Only failures, accumulated together can some day, bring upon a change. Not that it has changed the equations upside down. I still am a pretty normal guy, but at least now I am content that life has been going the way I always wanted. I am totally happy about it 🙂
“Everything happens for a reason and although that reason may be hard to see at the time, sometimes you need to just sit back and have faith that things will work out in the end. Trusting your own decisions is often one of the most difficult but necessary and rewarding experiences.”……….so true.