113/181

Over the course of this piece, all I’m going to do is to provide a list of reasons describing and depicting why I think exams should never be held early in the morning. As you read this, consider that I had 9AM exams during mid-semesters, and then wrote 10AM papers for end-semesters. Or something along those lines. Basically, I had to go wake up and write a paper.

Which is where my problem lies. I think morning papers don’t provide students with enough last-minute revision time, which is crucial to every student’s brain functionality during examinations. At University atleast, everyone ends up learning one concept or thing in the last minute. The likelihood of that thing coming in the exam is entirely dependent on the volume of the portions, but that last-minute learning drives a lot of confidence into my brain atleast – because I randomly realize I’m better-prepared for the paper than when I left my room.

Second, morning papers mean people are vela for too long after that. For those of you in foreign jurisdictions, the notion of being vela is basically loafing around. Loafing around means wasting your time. Essentially, the morning exam makes you grossly overestimate how much time you have to prepare for your next paper and sleep the entire afternoon and evening away. This sleep is essential, but the overconfidence is not.

Third, I think morning papers are inefficient because they often start at a time where students haven’t fully eaten breakfast. Or, it promotes a culture where students skip breakfast to get more revision time. There’s always the institutional argument of, “students need to study and manage their time better”, but that’s not something that is ever followed. Please encourage revision time and breakfast, that would be great, thank you.

Finally, morning papers make you sadder if the paper goes badly because if you’re unable to forget about it quick enough, you end up thinking about it for an entire day.

I fully understand there are easier ways to get over this. Just let me complain.

112/181

I think I’ve realized now that University is pretty much a self-study thing. Faculty guide you and teach you, but sometimes it’s difficult to engage with what they’re saying and trying to communicate. And I’m not blaming them for it, I think it’s also my fault – in terms of how much attention I pay in their class, how much of an ingrained interest I possess in the subjects they teach, and so on.

But wow, is it exhausting to self-teach yourself subjects that are poorly taught. I think the argument for good teachers isn’t merely restricted to the kind of knowledge they’re able to impart. It’s also the kind of holistic understanding they’re able to provide you about a particular field. Additionally, they’re extremely responsible for the opinions you carry on a particular subject, especially if you’re not going to do outside reading about it, because of a lack of interest.

This is because of the amount of time they’re able to spend with you in crafting a narrative for the subject that they teach. Why it’s developed the way it has, where it is today, where it lies, and where they see it going.

I think the bigger exhaustion with trying to decipher what’s been taught isn’t merely in attempting to understand course material and structure it yourself. It also lies in shaping your opinion about a subject in under 2 or 3 days – something you’re ideally supposed to have 60 teaching hours for.

And I don’t think that’s something I’m going apportion 100% of the blame to myself for.

111/181

I miss my beanbag.

I think I will struggle to explain the comfort of having your bum sink into something soft and comfortable, which wraps around your entire backside and offers enough structural integrity for you to shuffle around without ruining your posture, but offers enough comfort for you to sit on it with your laptop without sweating. Wow.

The captain has just announced that we’re cruising at some 36,000 feet. I’m proud of him. And I’m proud of the fact that design has created comfortable airline seats. But to be honest, all I can think about right now, is what life would be like if we all had beanbags to sit on everywhere.

I feel like half the reason adults who work are pissed off is because they aren’t comfortable with how they’re sitting. The other half of the problem could potentially be that they aren’t comfortable or happy with what they’re doing when they’re sitting. But a large amount of adult office work involves sitting, so maybe having beanbags would make everyone happier.

Atleast I think so.

My beanbag is this dark blue piece of furniture that I wish I could carry with me wherever I went in the world.

I miss it most when I’m at college, because no chair will ever come close, but also because my bed does not provide the same amount of comfort while I put my legs in an “n” shape, so to speak.

I don’t know how better to describe the act of folding your legs so your thigh and your calves are basically touching each other, but they aren’t and they’re distant enough for you to be at maximum comfort.

I’m going to take that beanbag with me if I can when I move out of University.

110/181

I call this piece, “Alarms”

These distasteful things blare out each morning,

Repeatedly,

With the worst possible tone,

And the loudest possible volume,

Instead of reminding you that it’s the beginning of a fresh day,

These annoying sounds are merely reminders that you’re still tired,

And the worst part,

Is that you set them 5 minutes apart.

Oh – dumb, innocent you,

You, who thinks that the extra 5 minutes of “snoozing” will make a difference to your energy levels,

You, who thinks that the bathroom stalls will be empty even if you wake up a little later.

And as they ring,

You groggily reach out to slide, tap, or shut,

Making a mental note to set fewer alarms,

To pick a better alarm tone,

But as your day comes to a close,

You have forgotten,

And the relentless cycle continues 24 hours later.

109/181

When I first moved to University I was super excited about the prospect of dining at a mess. I’m not entirely sure why at all. Especially considering that I ate lunch at a dining hall when I was in school also. I knew I would miss home food – because I’m a sucker for rasam, lemon rice, curd rice, and pasta, among other things like biryani, pulao, and Thai green curry. But I never had an understanding of how much I would actually miss home food.

In my head, I thought that the mess would try, atleast, to satisfy students desires.

Never have I been more wrong.

I think the craziest part about living at home is the variety you end up having in your meals. It’s underrated and underappreciated. We always say “wow, this is delicious”, because the food tastes good, but we never tell someone “wow, this tastes so different to what we had yesterday!” or even “wow, this tastes so different to what you made this morning!”. Even where lunch and dinner were the same food, when my mum reheated the food for dinner, it tasted different. I don’t know whether that was just the impact of a temperature difference, or exposure to Oxygen or whatever, but it did. Also, I’m quite sure we ended up making food taste different at night if we weren’t too fond of it. Like, beans curry. I think we made rolls of it and added carrot or something so it looked different and a little more appetizing to down.

The point being, food tastes different at home when you eat it.

After three years of eating in the same place, and eating the same food daily, I have grown tired of it. All the gravy tastes the same, and looks the same, even though some masalas might be different. The paneer tastes the same every single week now, and anything orange automatically repulses me. I used to be a huge fan of this paneer dish made using this Rasoi Magic powder, but I don’t think I can eat that as much anymore because it’s orange-red in colour. There remain few items on the mess menu I can enjoy without cribbing, which absolutely sucks because I have 3 semesters left.

To make matters worse, I love watching food shows and documentaries about food. Just last week I saw an entire 3 hours worth of Anthony Bourdain (RIP), and wondered why I was so agitated when somebody literally took care of my meals.

Food has always been super close to my heart. I’ve used a kettle to concoct some wild things over last winter, and I’ve grown to enjoy the little cooking I am capable of doing. I love tasting new things, as long as they’re vegetarian, and really, really appreciate cheap, good food.

I think winter break came at the right time. I’ll probably work on getting my motivation to eat mess food back.

Also, I feel like I’ve developed a small Subway addiction. Hmm.

 

108/181

So I took a couple of days away from writing, as you can tell. Some of it was because I had exams, but a few days at the end of that was because of the fact that I had no desire to write. In fact, I had very little desire to do anything except sleep and recover before I had to fly to Bombay. At the moment, I’m on my plane to Bombay, so I’m literally writing this when I’m in the sky. I think there’s a fair amount to be said from my last 15 or so days, so I’m going to post a lot today. Be prepared for email notifications and a lot of catch up reading about my life.

I know I said I loved exam time because I could plop onto my bed to catch a quick nap or head to sleep whenever I wanted. But, the caveat here is that it’s very unlikely that that actually happens – largely because I’m either too stressed out during exams to think about sleeping, or I grossly underestimate how much portions I have – planning my entire study schedule horribly, or, the worst, I overestimate how difficult what I have to study actually is – which means I’m constantly reading and re-reading, even though that isn’t really going to help my brain retain information.

My study methods since I’ve come to University haven’t changed too much since I was in school. I still need to write everything out atleast twice in order to know it and understand what it’s actually about. But I definitely need to write everything and say everything a good 10 times before it’s in my brain in the rote manner I’m expected to remember everything at the University level. That takes time, man.

Hence, I don’t sleep much during exams. And worse, I sleep at the weirdest hours depending on when my exam actually is. Therefore, considering I had morning exams this time, between 10AM and 1PM, I trained my body to sleep from 2PM to 7PM. And then survive overnight without much sleep.

A lot of this was thanks to the efforts of my friends in Boston, who called up and texted through the night, even when they were at work, just to ensure I was awake. One of them called me 5 times because I had accidentally dozed off for a power nap before an exam I was most stressed for.

My biggest fear during exam time is oversleeping, so this seemed like the best way not to.

It was a stupid idea. I need more sleep, especially during exam time. I’m surprised four years hasn’t taught me that also. I’m probably going to sleep more next semester and see if my confidence levels remain intact.

On the flipside.

Exams were good-ish. I did not cry, which I think is a small accomplishment worth celebrating. I didn’t freak out too much also because I was awake and re-reading information a lot. And the best part, I think, is that I wrote an answer that I could write in 3 sentences in 8 pages. That, I believe, is the true test of being a Law student in India.

To say the least, I believe I passed that test atleast. We’ll wait for results to figure out the rest.

The air hostess has now put water into masala cuppa Maggi. The flight is now smelling WAY better than it was 7 minutes ago, when I started typing this out.

107/181

I don’t really come from a furry-animal loving family. This is not to say that my family is cruel to pets. The parents are just indifferent to them. I had a fur/dust allergy as a child, and had wheezing as well, so my exposure to several things at a young age was quite restricted – things like stuffed toys (I had several of them, just wrapped up and kept away from my person), and pets, of course. Additionally, the apartment complex I lived in had a strict prohibition on pet ownership, and none of my immediate family members had pets – so I never really got attached to any pet animals. Nor did I spend time as a child caring for them.

This changed when we got an aquarium in our house – for maybe 6 months to a year? That’s when I realized how much effort caring for pets were – but also, how rewarding it could be, in terms of how you could gaze at them endlessly and wonder what was going on in their brains. It was also pretty cool to have an aquarium at home because I really liked Finding Nemo as a movie – although it scared the pants off of me for a bit. Coming back to the aquarium, I did a couple of things including feeding the fish and monitoring pH levels – which was super fun because I learnt about litmus indicators at a younger age than my peers as a consequence. But each time I put my hand in the water, I’d freeze and fear that the fish would eat it up. Not an excellent experience.

I didn’t get too attached there either. And when we left Dubai, I didn’t really miss the fish (this sounds worse as I type it).

My life changed a lot when we moved to India. And one of these was how much I began to enjoy pets and their company. I don’t think this is something my parents realized till recently, but several of my friends, and quite a few homeowners in our villa complex own dogs and cats, and aside from the barking at odd hours (which didn’t bother me – we were too far away from the noise), I ended up interacting with lots of furry friends. My allergies were long gone, and petting them and talking to them became a part of walks  – and often a way to get to know their owners better.

Rufus, Amigo, and Ustad are three of the dogs I’ve loved in Bangalore. Rufus passed away sometime last year – and I know how empty that house feels without him. Amigo is one of my closest friend’s dogs, and since he’s been a pup (after the 2010 World Cup), he’s barked relentlessly whenever I’ve seen him. He can smell me from about 80m away I think – or something about me annoys him (isn’t this true for everyone?) and he just refuses to stop barking till someone screams at him. It was scary, then funny, and now it’s just cute. I hadn’t been to their house in over 2 years – because of college, and he barked at me when I stepped foot in their door recently. Since I’ve come to Uni, because I go home and am at home much lesser, I often join my friend to take Amigo for a walk, and we joke about how Amigo decides to poop just before we’re ready to head back home – it’s always hilarious.

Ustad was my best friend’s dog. He’s the first dog I got thoroughly attached to – because I frequented this guy’s place nearly twice a week, sometimes even thrice. And Usti knew me. Usti barked a lot too, but after he got comfortable, decided to lay down next to us, or just chill in the room with us. I remember this one time we had early morning tuitions and I had slept over, Usti woke up way before we all anticipated that he would so he could hang by the breakfast table while we ate. My friend teased him with pieces of the food just to annoy him.

Usti and my friend are reflections of each other. Their attachment was surreal, indescribable even. And as a friend, I could see the amount of stability and comfort Usti bought in my friend’s life. I know how much joy he brought to his, and my life – and my friend circle’s. We all loved dogs, Usti and Sparky especially – because we ended up spending so much time with these two.

Usti taught me a lot. A lot of it is nonverbal, but a lot of it is tied to some of my happiest, some of the craziest, and some of the saddest memories from Grade 11 and 12.

To say the least, he warmed the cockles of my heart and showed me how silent love and affection can be.

My friend broke the news to me on what was meant to be a catch-up phone call. And since, I know I’ve struggled to comfort him. I also know that this has been on my mind for a couple of days now – while I’ve been writing exams. There’s no rationality that can soothe grief, I don’t think – except the passing of time.

What hit us hard, I think, is how different his house is going to feel without Usti.

So, Ustad. You, crazy, crazy soul. Thank you for loving Aunty’s chutney cheese sandwiches as much as we did. Thank you for being repulsed by Bhukkad’s desire to consume Yakult as much as we were. Thank you for teaching me how to care for dogs – my life on campus has been more joyful because of you. And thank you for taking care of my best friend and his parents for all these years. You will always be loved, and trust me, you’ll never be forgotten. I know I’m going to miss hearing your bark, and feeling you run circles around my feet as I turned up in my school uniform for tuitions. I know I’m going to miss the amount of panic you caused me when you opened your eyes when we were sleeping in a pitch-dark room (because I got scared and lost sense of where I was sleeping at the time).

Rest in peace, brother. We love you.

106/181

I think we severely underrate how different parts of our body end up regulating the overall temperatures our body is at. This is understandably, the weirdest opening line I have written to any blog post, but bear with me. You will, if you get to the end of this post, see where this comes from, why, and where it goes – if anywhere at all. At this point, I’m as curious as you are.

I’ve always been fascinated by the way body temperatures work. I’d like my body to forever feel cool, or, forever be at a moderate temperature. Yet, sometimes it’s exceedingly hot and I’ll sweat (apparently this is a “cooling” technique, but I question the Science), and sometimes its frigid and I’ll have goosebumps everywhere. This is a terrible illustration of my fascination with body temperatures – because I’m fairly certain everyone notices these things happening to them. I think I’m fascinated by how we experience temperature in general.

Especially at night-times.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve slept in a cold room (irrespective of air temperature outside), and ensured that I’m wrapped up in a warm/light blanket, but keep my feet prodding out. And occasionally my arms. I find that this makes me reach Ambient Sleep Body Temperature the fastest, and that I sleep the best in these climes.

If I was an animal that you had as a pet, or if I was in a zoo – these are the things that would be on the plaque pointing to me. This, and my food preferences, are perhaps the only things that’ll ensure I’m adequately pampered.

Coming back to body temperature, as you can now tell, my brain cares very deeply for it.

Since I’ve come to Law school, I have discovered that the zone of interaction between the outside air temperature and the temperature in my room overlap greatly. This is owing to the fact that I receive ventilation from my room through 2 windows, and a little gap in the frame of my door – and not much else. This might seem like a lot for a tiny room, and it’s excellent ventilation, but boy does it piss me off when Gujarat has hot wind (apparently this is called a “Loo” (hehe)).

It’s safe to say that my room is warm for most of the day. I’ve combatted this in unique ways, yet sometimes, my body does not reach the Ambient Body Temperature I crave.

This happens very frequently when I’m sitting at my chair.

Today, while procrastinating my studies (because this is who I am), I identified the culprits. My chappals, and my headphones.

While wearing headphones, I block off wind that’ll hit my ear.

And I sweat.

While wearing chappals, I avoid contact with a cool surface, instead, retaining contact with a surface that is warming up for the duration my foot is on it (which is all the time).

I took off the chappals and felt the ground as was amazed at how my body cooled down.

I’m banning chappals in my room.

That was all.

105/181

The one thing I’m worried about is how all my productivity outside of Law school related things ceases the minute exams come into play.

I will eat biscuits and ponder about this, and perhaps write some more about it later.

Also, I hit my book goal for this year. I’ll put up a list on tejasrao.net.

I’m done doing number-oriented book goals. 52 last year and 104 this year has taught me that the numbers means very little to me. I’m just going to focus on always reading a book, and try doing a more author-specific/genre-specific reading year next year.

Till then, I have 2.5 months of reading left in me to prep, and also to read random things. Please tell if you have suggestions.

 

104/181

I’m having the nostalgia trip of a lifetime preparing for exams.

From the 10th Grade onward, I barely got breathing room between tests and examinations. The way my school worked was on continuously assessing you – to ensure you were “studying”. So you’d go from week to week with a countdown for the next tests already on, and the portion slowly increasing. The academic pressure definitely existed. A couple of things kept me sane at the time – which largely revolved around my blue iPod nano (which I’ve fangirled over numerous times). To date, along with my Kindle, the iPod is representative of everything I am. It still has an unchanged playlist from my bus rides in Grade 12.

I used to use iTunes to segregate music, and download whole albums and discographies. My iTunes also had podcasts I had subscribed to – so I never missed an Episode and was pretty much on top of most of the music I liked at the time. This was largely possible because I always listened to stuff while studying. At a terribly low volume (because of my parents’ fear that I would go deaf), but the music was always in the background. The low volume also ensured I never missed my mothers’ screaming. Or her footsteps. So I avoided all jump scares.

Anyway. Music basically played a huge role, and specifically Above & Beyond, whose Friday podcasts and new releases were basically things I looked forward to and stayed up for.

Now I’ve been playing all my favourite episodes and writing with the same pen I did while studying all those years ago.

I just wish the food I was eating was as good.

 

103/181

Thoughts on this semester:

  1. Least engaging, academically.
  2. Most adventurous, extra-curricular wise.
  3. Quite frustrating at times.
  4. Lots of TV watched
  5. Lots of writing done
  6. Lots of sleep accomplished. Especially in class.
  7. Quite a bit of reading done, also in class.
  8. Human caring factor: 10/10. I believe becoming a senior makes you care more for people. Truly. Maybe it’s just the process of ageing. Hmm. (I am 20, yes, but people have noted that I sound like an uncle at heart)
  9. Rediscovered YouTube and cartoons (Noice)
  10. Ate lots of Subway.

Overall 7/10.

Heheheh.

102/181

You know what I absolutely adore about exam-time? Multiple things.

Granted, this makes me sound like the biggest nerd there is (which is not entirely untrue, and something I view as a part of my personality), but bear with me.

Exam time marks the peak of batch unity. Every single soul is confused about portions, and therefore, requesting for clarifications on the batch group. And constantly receiving messages responding to each query, in detail. This, for me, represents the beauty of collective learning, but also, tells me (1) how easily distracted we all are by our phones – because the minute someone posts on the batch group, there’s definitely 180 people checking phones, irrespective of what they’re doing at the time, but also (2) how there’s always going to be some level of reassurance you can get from your batch about how clueless you are. That everything is going to be okay.

You will also notice that during exam time, the batch group becomes a place where people discuss answers to questions they’re not sure about, or even about the past paper that was set. There’s also a mass collaboration to rage against unfair exams after the exam has been taken (which never yields in results), but the raging is fun nonetheless. This means that (1) there is always someone to help you clear your last-minute doubts, and literally, will answer till 9:55 when the exam starts at 10, but also (2) that misery is collectively experienced. You may have had a relatively better paper, but if everyone is complaining, you will join in and agree. It’s nice.

People are also kinder to each other during exams. Even at the mess, fewer people cut line, people request before interjecting. The toilets are cleaner! (which is my favourite thing), because nobody wants to piss off other human beings around them by forgetting to flush, or grossly overestimating their skill of accurately hitting targets. I’m amazed by these changes. Less music gets played on speakers, more people wear headphones.

People exchange concerned looks when they notice eyebags, and check up on each other more frequently. It’s heartwarming.

You can wake up at any time of the day and go brush your teeth, and nobody will bat an eye, because they all know you haven’t slept peacefully for a while.

Red Bull sales skyrocket, as does revenue collected through the sale of snacks or junk food. People mass buy stationery. People also weed out pencilcases they haven’t used for 6 months for this sole purpose. Exams.

But, my absolute favourite thing (apart from toilets)?

I get to stay in my room for however long I want and nap literally whenever.

It’s mind-blowing.

Though, whether I exercise that option or not is another question entirely.