I was just talking to this friend of mine this morning, and the usual rants, and the usual jokes later, we struck up an interesting conversation.
Well, he claimed blatantly that I am slowly dying inside. Well, not the body – the soul. (Not the Omega Vibes song) Well, while I did my best to claim that I was not, and also to justify why life’s become this dull, I think he had a good point. So, some soul-searching later (instead of studying for the exam day after tomorrow – who’s dead now ?), I decided I should at the very least think out loud about it. And, to take some points from his argument, I thought it should be in the form of a blog post. Well, after all, I claim to like writing/blogging and if not doing things I like makes me dead inside, then hey this is at the very least showing signs of life.
His argument was based on two or three simple things, really. How many books (fiction!) have you read recently ? What’s the latest Music album you checked out ? What was the latest movie you caught ? Now, to give a little background, if there are some things I have enjoyed doing, it has been reading novels, listening to music, and watching good movies. I like playing sports, and quizzing, and solving crosswords, and programming (and…..) as well, but I have given up on some of these. 🙂
To put things in perspective, there was a point in time, when I used to lap up books at the rate of one or two a week. There was another time, when I used to lap up movies at the rate of two or three a day! As for music, let’s say I did better on the Entertainment quizzes back in college and then again at Infosys, even winning a few quiz contests. Also, while not the hardest of death metal fans, I would say, I at least like to keep myself informed, and listen to good music.
The last novel I read was more than a year back. That was a phase when I really was into reading books – I read them everywhere – even at work. The last movie I watched was not that long back, (well, December counts, right ?) but it was not a new movie, and it was not at a theater. For that matter, it wasn’t even a good movie. The last time, I took interest in a Music album, downloading it and carefully editing every field in the id3 tag was more than a year back! Well, now that I am in the US, I wouldn’t dream of downloading Music and Movies, lest the FBI should come knocking on my door. That kind of thing is not at all tolerated here. Well, it is not encouraged in India either, but at least, no one knocks on your door and flashes a badge at you. That in part explains perhaps why I haven’t watched new movies, and checked out new music albums. But that’s not it entirely.
I have a e-book reader (an old Sony reader), that I have not even powered on after landing in the US. So content in this case is not an issue. Time is the real issue. From what I have learned in this last two semesters of doing a MS in Engineering, 24 hours a day is simply not enough. Between the assignments, and the labs and the exams, not to mention working if you want to pay your bills, and not live in the library, there is really no time left for sports or for the activities that you should be pursuing apart from your work or studies. If you get to sleep decent hours for a few days straight, it is a big deal.
Am I exaggerating it ? Absolutely not. Well, I am sure things differ from person to person, from course to course and from school to school, but from what I have heard from many people, it’s not really that different. Everyone is overloaded with work. Sure, it’s a great experience – you are basically maximizing your potential, and you are giving the best to everything in your coursework. But it comes at a price – that of your health – when you have to go a few nights without sleep, and when all you eat for a day or two straight comes from a vending machine, because you have so much work, you can’t even leave the library for days at a time. It comes at a higher price than health – at the price of killing the person you used to be. Does it make you dead inside ? I don’t know – I can’t really say. But it definitely changes you as a person. For the better ? I really hope so.
P.S: I hope that one day, when I get myself a job, i shall have more spare time, to play a game of tennis or two, to watch movies, read books and listen to music on a stereo system (and not on Pandora) over the weekends. I am not sure if everything will work out, but I shall try.
P.P.S: If you are doing a PhD, and are wondering “An MS makes you dead inside ? How about a PhD mate ?”, well, we have given up on you guys you know. We know for certain that you are dead inside. 😉 (only kidding)
P.P.P.S: When you have to write 100 page project reports, you really start hating to write. The creativity inside you simply vanishes.