Saturday, May 23, 2015

Man in the realm of nature

There’s a mallard duck that visits my backyard every summer. It never ceases to amaze me - the fortitude with which she sits for 28 straight days, come rain or snow, until a batch of chicks arrive. And then she goes marching off to the lake with her parade. And each time, I am left feeling helpless at her plight - for each time she gets stuck, trying to maneuver her way out of the fenced yard, even though she has been doing this for a while. And each time I am left wondering at the evolution and origins of man. 

We started pretty small too, didn't we? What is amazing is the fierce rapidity of brain size growth within a very short span of time. We started with simple tools made of stone, and we are now in the 21st century, in total and complete control of the universe that stretches ahead and around us. 

I have always marveled at man’s ability to stay on top in the realm of nature. So, when I walked up to the rim of the grand canyon and saw this sight for myself, at first sight, never was I more certain of the power that man commands over nature, and the intensity with which he unleashes it around him. 

But then again, never before have I been so uncertain either. 

In a fast paced world, where resources are being depleted by mankind at a rate never experienced before, this is as good a time as any other to stop and to think. 
How do we really fit in? Where is our place in the realm of nature?

As long as mankind looks forward to a better life, there will never come a day when we decide we have done enough. We will always seek to improve. Research goes on and on endlessly, to make the world faster, better, and more efficient. It is this tenacity hardwired within the human psyche that pushes us in an inexorably upward trajectory. And the further it advances, the more humans expect from it - an endless vicious cycle of desires. 
So, as I stood on that rim, in search of the incredible, something caught my eye. An epiphany of sorts that engulfed me with such overpowering force that for a second, it took my breath away. 

I believe that these two pictures together tell the complete story. While at first sight, man’s place in nature appears overwhelmingly unquestioned, the second one is in stark contrast. What I wanted to capture was not only the enormity of the landscape around me, but also man's place in it. How small, how inconspicuous mankind is; how majestic is nature! It does place mankind in its true perspective, doesn't it?
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. 

And it won The Badge! :)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Back again :)

To begin with, let me give you a status update that is long overdue. I bombed the MCAT but I still got in! Yes, I made it through! I’ll be starting medical school this August :) So, before I get back to the grind again, I’ve been traveling and trying to live out my dreams. I spent a good 2 months at India visiting family. I’m traveling within the U.S. over the next week. And then, I’ll be traveling to Europe for a month or so. It’s been great to finally have the time to breathe, to pause and take note of all that’s important to me. The last couple of years were a nightmare of sorts!

And because I so crave attention all the time, I’m going to copy-paste an email that one of my interviewers sent me after the acceptance:

“  Dear Ms. Roy,
"Let me just say at the outset that this is the most motivated, most unique, most interesting, most qualified, and most delightful applicant that I have reviewed or interviewed in many, many years." These were my opening remarks following our interview and I am happy to see that the committee agreed with me. Congratulations and I hope you decide to join our class...I know you have much  to contribute. Best of luck in all you do.
Da. Cu. M.D.”  (I’m not including the entire name for privacy)

Interesting side note about the interview with this doctor: We discussed everything under the sun, - including: Shakespeare, WWII- asia pacific chapter, Rohington Mistry and ‘A Fine Balance’, Indira Gandhi (!), how children don’t get to write letters anymore, Henri Cartier Bresson, Indo-Pak relations, Ukraine-Russia etc etc. - in addition to a lot around ethical scenarios in medicine. His final question (which is apparently common in interviews but i had no clue!) was : "what do you want the epitaph on your grave to say about you?"
I might have seemed rattled as I mumbled something about me never being in a grave but if I did, it would say, "she walked the talk." And I couldn't stop having nightmares after this horrifying answer! But in the end, one silly answer didn't matter, I suppose :)

The entire experience has been surreal. I came to know sometime last November of course - but the reality of it is only now sinking in. As I browse through student forums and find the applicants still struggling to get a foothold, most having been rejected this cycle, I cannot help being overcome by such gratitude as I have never felt before! This was a difficult journey. The uncertainty of it all was deeply overwhelming. But I made it. Oh thank God I made it!

But my success came at the cost of losing a lot of ‘friends’. I’ve never been good at making friends. It doesn't come easy to me. I’m not the most ‘likeable’ person. Never have been. So, whatever bridges that I did manage to build in the years that I have been here, now seem to be under water! 
There were some who would regularly call/meet with me every week to find out the results of my interviews. And finally when I got through, they all vanished! Just like that, all gone! Were they rooting for me to fail? Why?
Then there’s the other category of people who have gone out of their way to ‘celebrate’ my success. And at each such gathering, have made it a point to ask me how many interviews I got because anything less than 5 screams mediocrity (?!!); they tell me how they know of people who have made it through Harvard and the top med schools; how Minnesota wasn't in the elite league at all! 
And finally, there’s the third category of people who congratulate me and then go on a rant about how the medical profession is littered with corrupt practices, how I shall never be accepted by the ‘white’ fraternity, and how terribly wrong this decision was! 

It astounds me - not one person genuinely happy or proud of me. 

Except for the people who matter to me, of course. But they don't count, do they? :) I already know how they feel. 

I know I shouldn't bother with the random population of the world, the herd of mediocres and how they feel about it. But sadly enough, as always, I do..Anyhow, as I have been grappling with this, I have come to the realization that it is not ‘them’; it’s me. It has always been me. I have been so insecure about my relationships, that somehow or the other, and mostly inadvertently, I end up butchering them. Either in the way I talk or behave. Something about me puts people off. I have, of late, been thinking seriously about it. And I realize there’s something so black inside of my heart. I want to turn it inside-out and wash the mud off. And even as I do, it starts building up again. So much bitterness inside of me. How will I ever be cleansed?

Anyhow, let me end on a better note by attaching some pictures from the India trip. They make me smile. 

So long! I’ll be back soon!