Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hard Work

I have always been fascinated by the tales of men who work hard…insanely hard, often on a counter belief in their work area and to an extent that everything else in their lives becomes a non-issue, while they toil in their singular quest to see their dreams come to fruition. I have many names to put here, but I don’t have much to tell about them that u already don’t know. So, allow me to narrate a personal experience.

I remember most things which affect me, often with scary details. And somehow,  when I think of hard work it is this incident that takes the most prominent space in my mind.

It was the night of 26th Nov. 2008. Yes, it was the same night that Mumbai was attacked but back at IISER Pune HR-1, it was the terror of end-sems that haunted the occupants . Many were preparing for the Complex Analysis (CA) exam due on 27th. I already had two exams on 26th and Microprocessors, in addition to CA was slated for 27th. I had not done any studies post mid-sems and it soon became clear that I would not be able to change my destiny basis that night. So, I made a strategy to cover the summary of chapters and memorize just the diagrams for the important topics in microprocessors. For CA, I couldn’t even plan to think much beyond solving the tutorial sheet once and hoping that exact questions would come in exam as well. Microprocessors took a lot of time and it was already dawn when I had finished it along with the easier problems on the CA sheet. I felt exhausted and hoped that the remaining problems, I will ask Mr. X during breakfast to finish them quickly, and should get some sleep.

I went to bed…realizing little how grossly I underestimated those problems. Mr. X who had a little less academic workload, but had otherwise been busy, had spent two full nights just to brace up the fundamentals to solve those problems. Still, he put an all-nighter on the exam eve to perfect himself for the variations. So, when he was teaching me the solutions, he hadn't been to bed for three nights, his eyes were red and they ached, his voice trembled and he could barely speak. Just after finishing the breakfast he took the college bus, placed his head on the window and closed his eyes. I vividly remember watching him in awe as the winds soothed his parched mind while I filled myself with guilt, understanding the solutions on his notebook sitting beside him.

Fast Forward to 2016, I work on consulting assignments for clients in outsourcing industry during the day and study computer science at night. Since, I have spent too much time idling here and there, these days I tend to devote myself just to these pursuits. Programming takes a lot of  time  and I do frequent all-nighters only to quench the guilt of wasting time. Nightouts are fancy things to hear about, but in practice,  they rob the mind of its peace  and hence it takes a while to get the requisite concentration . But somehow,  it comes steadily. Only if u can believe me, the work hours that tech titans in  the silicon valley rave about, is not that hard to clock. What I have found  hard is to effectively break the larger goals into night-long tasks so that u can tune ur mind to that task, night by night. Once that is efficiently done,  the weariness that u accumulate, gets superseded by the focus, which builds on practice. Nothing is more pleasing than the slow, crimson dawn when you are about to exhaust your tasklist and your command prompt works obediently on all the checks.  A modicum of dream-lashed sleep thereafter and the day starts again.

These days I ride Uber, but the winds are still reminiscent of that November morning. I only hope my toil reaches its consequence much the same way as did his, in that exam.