(Imported from my old weblog January 9, 2005)
Good to hear that you are happy there. That makes me happy too.
I had met Billu mama, dadu and didima on Raja mama's wedding. That was more than one and half years ago. I often miss them. But ...
I will not be lecturing you too often. Since, you seem to have already started off with your new life, I will take one single opportunity to give a couple of tips now. Like any good thing, they will be slightly boring. But don't ignore them. If possible, preserve this mail for future reference. Many things written in it, which may appear as nonsense to you now, will make sense to you later.
Take ragging in your stride. Unless, there's too much of physical ragging, there's always a scope of handling these situations really smartly. Just keep your cool. Don't get angry or depressed by the way the seniors treat you. A bit of humiliation...that's what you should learn to take during the ragging. The same guys who rag you now will be your good friends tomorrow. Be smart in doing what you are asked to do. Of course, don't be extra smart! Just remember, a person who can walk away gracefully even after being humiliated will never lose his honour. :)
And if possible, swear to yourself that you will not take part in ragging your juniors in your later years. All said and done, ragging is evil. It's essentially an ugly way of releasing one's frustrated unspent energies on juniors. A really silly and immature way of trying to feel superior by scaring the juniors. While you are being subject to it, keep playing safe and don't get into unnecessary broils; but vow not to subject others to ragging when you have a choice. Remember that.
2. Coin, the Great Doctor
And of course, studies are what you have gone there to do. At any cost, let that never suffer. You have come so far from your home for the first time all alone. Lots of unforeseen experiences are waiting for you here. Lots of things which will turn you from a lad to a man. Learn from all your experiences. You are about to embark on one of the most noble professions, i.e. of a doctor. And being a good doctor doesn't happen by reading a handful of subjects and clearing a handful of exams. Start becoming a doctor from your first day there. Keep it at the back of your mind day in and day out that you have to become a good doctor. Find out what's required to do to become a good doctor. Do them religiously. Certain things that need to be done (according to me) are:
* Do you feel compassion for the suffering? Devise your own ways of aliviating pain for others. Start feeling the joy of forgetting your own pain in order to cure others of their pains.
* Be curious and interested. Learn your subjects as you learn how to live. The skills you acquire now, the realisations you get now, will work as your main strength all your life. Learn them well, and permanently. While doing well in the exams is always an important thing, now it's time for you to start giving it a secondary priority. The first priority should be understand things well and deeply, and develop a strong interest to find out even more.
* Develop a way of living. Time for you to start giving thought to what's important in your life. A bit of philosophical outlook will serve immensely in making you find coherence between your worldly objectives and your inner requirements of self-actualisation. Consider bringing in discipline into your life in your own way. I know this will sound very cryptic right at this point. Never mind! Come back to it next year, then again the year next to that...Each successive year, these words will make more and more sense to you.
* Develop a clear set of idealogies. Don't make stupid rules like 'I will never miss a class' or things like that. You have to develop more fundamental idealogies. For example, one idealogy I have is 'Be honest'. It's a very abstract thing. But very fundamental. Each thing I do, each word I say passes through the acid test of honesty. Another ideal I have set for myself 'Never take a decision in the influence of fear.' Many of such idealogies are there. They are very robust, abstract, and hard to implement. But once we start working hard to implement them, they affect the life and our development in a magical way. Think about it.
* Develop some other interests apart from acad.s. Sports, arts, photography, drama, debating, dance, astronomy, electronics, computers, music, literature, travelling, social work... (the list is unending) Involve in extra curricular activities which make you more active and involved. That definitely rules out watching TV, or movies as good hobbies. Restrict movies to an occasional indulgence, not a habit. One mandatory hobby for a scholar is to read. Read a lot of good books. Novel, stories, essays, poetry, travelogues, philosophy...even pornography. Be a voracious reader. Reading is one habit worth cultivating.
3. Bad Habits
It's time for you to become a man, I know. You have already started handling all your affairs yourself. You already are a man now. A grown up individual. An adult! I was perhaps not so smart as you are during those days of early youth. But I do remember how it feels to become an adult. How we crave to become an adult! But remember one thing. There'll be lots of things which will appear to be things that grownups do. But there's nothing grownup about them. I am talking about bad habits. I don't ask you to keep away from all that in a scared manner. But the greatest proof of your maturity would be not to fall prey to bad habits. If you want to experience anything to satisfy your curiosity, go ahead. Do whatever you feel like! Just remember. Drinking, smoking, movies, eating out, ...nothing is bad if done once in a while. They start eating on your money, health, personality and character when they turn into habits. Don't ever let that happen. Everything rests upon you.
This is by far the trickiest of all things I want to tell you. You have entered a completely new world. The relations you will share with the people around you will be way different from the relations you have had till now. There will be grown up people who are not your parents and relatives, there will be classmates with very different beliefs and upbringing, there will girls who are not your sisters! It is obvious that you will get into a variety of relations: social, professional, personal, romantic...
Relations are very good as experiences. There's no promise that relations will always have happy endings. You may have teachers who are not happy with you. You may have friends who are jealous of you and do backstabbing. You may love a girl who doesn't love you, or may have to deal with a girl loving you for whom you don't have any feelings.
Relations are complex. They are sources of bitter experiences, as often as of sweet experiences. If you are able to carry yourself across all those bitter and sweet experiences, you will always come out a more refined character, a better person than before.
Always remember. A man who handles his relations with others (and even himself) is the strongest of all. Relations will often be stormy. They will often tend to make you take decisions in a fit of emotions. Never, ever, let that happen. Always, keep your head straight. Act correctly and confidently.
I know all this stuff about relations that I am telling might be appearing very puzzling to you. Preserve this letter. When in future you feel you are indeed going through a relationship problem, come back and read this piece again.
How you choose your friends now will fundamentally affect course of your future life. The people you like to hang out with most precisely defines your own personality and tastes. The circle you create around yourself will then determine most of the activities you involve in. So choose your friends well. One thumb rule is: Stay with good people. You will have choices of mixing around with a variety of people. Good people, rich people, powerful people, trendy and stylish people, funloving people, capable people etc etc etc. Which group will you choose? Qualities like hardwork, simplicity, sincerity, honesty etc are far higher than qualities like intelligence, beauty, richness and strength. Respect and love a good person much more than you love a capable person. A capable person 'can' do good things; a good person 'will' do good things. If you have to choose between capable people and good people as your friends, choose the good people.
6. Your Pocket
Learn to manage your money well. I understand that I am talking to a guy of the next generation. So, I will not talk anything against being ambitious. Nor will I talk about 'Simple living and High Thinking.' I understand that philosophy must have lost its charm with young people like you. I will give a very simple practical suggestion. Manage your pocket well. Understand what money you have. Determine your expenditure accordingly. Keep a first principle: You must save something. Make it a habit to always have so much in your account that if somebody needs money, you should be in a position to give it to him (doesn't mean that you give away your money to anybody and everybody). Never run into debts. Never, never! In the worst cases borrow money from your father, from me or any of your close relative. But never from your friends. It's a great feeling to have some money as security in your bank account. It's terrible to owe money to people. Believe me!
I think that's enough lecture for a day. I am sure you will get an indigestion on reading so much lecture. Don't curse me for being so preachy. I am usually not so preachy. I just thought that you would find these thoughts practical and useful during the next 4 formative years of your career. And this is the time to let you have all this. In the coming year, you may get too busy with the everyday way of your life to give all this an especial thought. I suggest, you don't take all this too seriously right now. Just keep coming back to this letter once in a while. If anything in it interests you, we can talk about it in greater detail.
I am fine here. I will try to call you sometime. Good that you got a mobile now.