19th March, 2006
It was a typical Second Year BH afternoon. Match on TV on 4th floor and a few guys were glued to the screen eating the best Vrindavan had to offer. A few others ought to have been roaming in Infiniti Mall around the same time and a few others must’ve been trekking their favorite hill in some God forsaken place on the outskirts of Mumbai. I deliberately choose to exclude the valiant eight who had courageously started music classes for they acted like misguided missiles for most of their initial classes for they were never sure which instrument to pick up for a start.
I belonged to the group on the 4th floor and food had just arrived.
“ I hope we have’nt ordered much” – Martin’ s typical concern
“ Nahi bey.. khatam kar lenge”- Gan’s typical reassurance
“ He has given some extra spoons” – Amitesh typically ogling at what’s extra and can be packed off to his room.
“ Oye .. koi nahi yaar .. rakh le .. aage kaam aayega”- Anurag Agarwal’s typical shooting off the hip.
Anurag Agarwal hesitatingly … “ Par .. aage kab kaam aayega” ?
Our time at SPJIMR was gone.
It was the last lunch the 6 of us would have together and it had just struck us then. Everyone paused for a couple of seconds and at the same time Dravid pulled off a blinder at first slip and the conversation veered to how Ganguly was still a better captain than Dravid. Funny, sometimes how conversation changes gears more effortlessly than an SL 500.
Nevertheless, I was going through some early photographs of our lives here in 2004 and that’s when I got the idea of this post. (I was thinking about writing an SP swansong anyway. It just hastened the idea.) Photographs form a great way to treasure memories and I do this little exercise every time I look at one. I ask myself “What was I exactly doing then?” or “What I was thinking?” or “What did I do right after this photograph was taken?” I deliberately don’t do it every time because it’s amazing that when you start thinking about the context around which that photograph was taken you are drifted back in time. You start thinking “then and there” and in some ways you trigger off a time machine in your head and get a shot at playing around with something that always seems to play around with you.
There’s this wonderful quote about Time I read recently. It said- “Time is the best author of all times; it always has the perfect ending”. This brings me to the central point of this post and that is how our 2 years at SP were always challenged by time. Deadline for submissions, Deadline for GH (yes it did affect some of us at the BH), Last date for registration, Time limit for presentations et al.
Time seemed to have us in captivity for ever and we swung along with time. We swung wild and wise, smooth and hard, long and slow. Until 17th March, 2006 happened and suddenly, we found we were not being swung anymore by time. No need to rise up at 8:25 for that 8:30 test, no need to copy at the last minute from the Dataserver for the submission time that’s already past an hour and no need to bang on the bathroom door of the neighbor who has decided to use his time in the bathroom to clean an extra undergarment during his bath.
Every time I have slept during an afternoon in SP, I have had only two kinds of emotions when I woke up, either of dread or excitement.
Dread, if there were an assignment, presentation, test or exam the next day.
Excitement if there was a “Party”, AKB, Farewell, Spandan or Gasp meeting pending. When I woke up on the afternoon of 17th March, I had neither of these emotions and it didn’t quite feel right.
We still went for our evening stroll that always had the intrusion of a spicy Vada Pav on the way and we didn’t have an urgency to come back to the hostel. We were quite happy about not coming back in a hurry but I guess somewhere deep within we dint quite relish this feeling. There was no challenge of Time facing us.
Sachin might still bring about his sparkling century in Adelaide in a second innings where India is chasing 318 on the 5th day and India might win that game in 2007 but then his time would have gone by then. It pretty much has by now.
When Ivanesivic finally won his Wimbledon, he wasn’t crowned as the greatest player to have won it so late but as someone who’s had a dream fairytale end to his career. George Foreman inspite of having won a title at the age of 40 is remembered more for his brushes with Mohammed Ali in the seventies. Citizen Kane might still be given a Best Picture Oscar tomorrow but it will seem a mere consolation.
Hence I have begun to suspect that all accomplishments have a context of time and so do personal challenges. No one gives a dime if you become India’s best actor by 55, you earn that title by 35 and whole of India will stand up and applaud. It probably explains why Naseeruddin Shah never got his due recognition from the man on the street. I can watch a movie in peace at home nowadays but watching a movie within 120 minutes with an exam the next day was what gave an extra kick. When one’s accomplishments are crunched with the context of time not only is peer recognition supreme but so is personal satisfaction.
My belief is that if you want yourself to be the best you can be you should challenge yourself against time all the time. Having a time block is a sure means of giving in your concerted best within that time span. I can imagine that such a generalization would not hold true for all professions but I sure can say that limitless pondering over that piece of painting, that classic masterpiece of an ending and those nervous nineties hasn’t done anyone good.