|Klanti amar khama koro prabhu
Pathe jodi pichiye pori kobhu
— Rabindranath Tagore
|If I ever fall behind on the path
If I ever get tired, forgive me Lord
— Rabindranath Tagore
I’m sitting in my small room looking over the city—this huge edifice of human existence and labor. I see children smiling, screaming, and playing on the school playgrounds next to my building; I see the cars driving smoothly by; I see clouds in the sky and the glass and steel façades of the magnificent skyscrapers all around. This city, Singapore, is a testament of the best in human nature itself: the toil and the ingenuity that have joined forces to bring this gigantic machinery together are unimaginable in most other parts of the world. There is a lot to say about this city and this wonderful new part of my life. A few examples should suffice. Classical music plays underwater in the swimming pools; the streetlights have sensors to detect the presence of pedestrians and grow brighter or dimmer as needed; the buses detect change automatically; and drones capture street imagery. I can hardly contain my excitement at finally being able to make the journey to INSEAD, which by the way, is a dream come true. The level of intellectual discussion in the classroom and the experience and maturity of my fellow students amaze me time and again. The first feeling that grabs you when you enter INSEAD as a student is the feeling of being dwarfed by a cavalcade of amazing people.
The year at INSEAD will definitely be one of the best yet one of the most trying in the life of anyone attempting it with the challenges of the huge loan, the pressure of performing among a group of over-achieving individuals, and whatever other sacrifices that one had to make to get here. But for me, the biggest challenge I will face here will have more to do with the disconnection from the anchors that have been keeping me steady until now.
Only choose two between three: sleep, study, and socialize. I feel very strongly that they are missing out on the fourth corner of the problem—the invisible corner, if you will. This corner consists of your family that you may have left back home or brought with you, in which case, you need to devote time to them as well. This corner isn’t spoken about enough, yet it happens to be the most important one when it comes to your mental balance and peace. The pressures at INSEAD can get to the most seasoned of campaigners, and proper planning is the only way to stay ahead of the curve.
My wife and I spoke a lot about this separation, and the fact that we would be spending a year mostly separated from each other. The good thing about technology is the number of choices it provides you to stay connected. We set up a few simple ground rules, such as involving the other person in our lives as much as possible. This serves the dual prupose of letting the other person know that you care and sharing the pressures that you are experiencing. Apps like Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp have played a pivotal part in our lives. I send even class notes to her by taking snaps of the handouts and sending them via Whatsapp. This has actually helped me a lot at times as she happens to sometimes bring out points, which I might have missed. It also helps in bonding and lends matter to talk about—something which can become a sore issue if you are spending your year in different cultures and different time zones. One other thing that I try and do regularly is to call her up whenever I can via Viber or Skype. Internet is cheap, and Wi-Fi is free everywhere.
Weekends will become more precious than you can imagine as it always boils down to a choice of whether to go out for a game or a tour or a party with friends, or to stay home and chat over Skype. Like I have said before, this is a hard trade-off. Just one word of advice: decide on your priorities first.
I will constantly feel something missing from my life, and I know well what that is. This is why I started my blog with that comment on top from Tagore. It simply says that you will make mistakes and get tired, but then you will be forgiven in time. This year is indeed going to be exciting by the looks of how it has started—I just wish that I didn’t have to spend it alone!