TOW Unsung seeks advice

25 Nov


Occasionally, there comes along an exam, upon the completion of which one wishes to stab himself right in the heart, so that it all gets done and over with rather quickly. An exam that couldn’t have gone off any better if one had studied an extra day or two. An exam which makes one long to walk up to the professor and say, “You’re such a dumbfuck. Can you answer any of this yourself?” An exam which makes one want to bitch slap every member of the department faculty, informing each that he or she is utterly useless and beneath receiving an invitation to hell’s hell.

Yes, just had one of those.

In other news, I’m grappling for all possible avenues leading out of the country, and am now considering leaping directly into a Masters-cum-PhD after college. The reasons for the decision is as follows :-

1. Though the idea of working straight out of college for a few years and making some bucks, living the lavish lifestyle (partly funded by the parents) is extremely appealing, the current trend of the IT market isn’t so favouring. Thus, bagging a good job is particularly hard at the moment. Which reinforces the option of pursuing a Post Grad. and deferring the job-hunt by a few more years, till one’s options are slightly better.
2. Why a PhD? Why not simply a Masters, and deciding on a PhD later on? Why commit for 5 years and not for 2?
That’s because from what I hear, most universities in the States are more likely to accept a student who’s willing to make a larger commitment. Which means higher probability of receiving financial aid, Teaching Assisstantship and so on and so forth. Also, I might be able to target a better school, and manage it.

Even though Option 2 sounds good, I am in complete disarray.

1. A 5-year commitment? That’s something practically no one goes for, here. For 2 reasons… no one is so dead sure about what they wish to specialise in at this stage. The other is that it’s a 5-year commitment. Following the completion of a 4-year commitment. No money-in-the-pocky for 5 more years! Gawk! Moreover, most people in my area of study don’t even need to pursue a Post Grad. at all! A bachelor’s degree is enough qualification, and thereon, one can simply join a company, be trained and work his way up. A post grad. degree is pursued by some as a formality, but very few think towards chasing that PhD.

2. A few years ago, when I was passing out of school and had to decide what to graduate in, my preferences were as follows… a) Law   b) Journalism   c) English (leading to a career in Journo.)   d) Computer Science   e) Psychology f) ….
Then, I got a seat in a Technical college, for Course d) (because they didn’t offer any of my other preferences, for obvious reasons) and I settled.
Though my parents were supportive (of everything but going abroad then itself), they scarcely made any effort of monitoring how I was going about with applications, what choices I had made and how ardently I was pursuing them. In short, they hardly cared. And I have never cared much for academics all my life, so was relatively unperturbed. I thought things would work out fine, as they had until then, and was complacent. Except that this time round, they didn’t work out too well for me.
All through the last 2 years, each time I come across a student of Law, I squirm with envy. All this happened because I did not have a firm opinion back then, or atleast did not pursue it and instead settled for what I got.

After completing a 4 year technical course (rather, a professional course), the idea of being able to branch back into one of my initial preferences seems unrealistic. For one, it would mean a waste of these past 4 years. Also, I could possibly not start out to pursue the 5-year law programme at that stage. And doing a 2 year course would be miserly settlement, especially with a technical degree. It wouldn’t match up to the student life of a Law Undergrad. It wouldn’t fetch me the same experiences, create the same foundation.
Thus, from how I see it, that dream is quite wasted. Realistically speaking, I don’t have it in me to try and salvage it.

What I do have in hand is a course that I do enjoy. Maybe not as much as my preferred options (which happen to fall in the other end of the spectrum), but I’m more or less compatible with it. A good student. (With the capacity to be amongst the best, but far too lazy to manage it.)
If I chose to branch out, I would’ve wasted substantial time, learning and good grades.

You know how people say, “Follow your dreams. If you want it enough, you can achieve”? Well, I think it’s trash when you step into the real world. Or at least, I cannot make that happen now. I missed the bus.
So naturally, the only other option is to stick to what I’m doing, right?

Because I don’t want to make another 5 year commitment and feel clammy about that. Once I enter that domain, I’ll be 26 when I get out and there is no turning back.

Sigh! A student till 26!
Hagatha says I should become a Prof. because she says I teach well. And I do enjoy teaching others.
With the exception that if I imagine myself teaching a class, I’d rather it was english or history or psychology that I was teaching.

Is it possible for a person to bury a part of them? Because I really want to.
But I don’t want it clawing its way back to the surface years later, to haunt me and leaving me cornered.

So the priorities are as follows…
1. Get out of the country
2. Earn money ASAP

The realistic options are
1. Work for a few years (low pay)
2. Pursue a Masters Degree (Low financial aid. Must pick from a select offering of slightly above-average schools)
3. Pursue a PhD (HUGE commitment. Might make a better school. Lots more financial aid.)

The unrealistic ones, though far more desirable, are
1. Bunk it all and chase a dream.
2. Die tonight and end it all.

What do ya think?


27 Responses to “TOW Unsung seeks advice”

  1. Vlad November 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    I am a person who’s been a student till 26 (well, I got my PhD shortly before I turned 26), so you have a live example confirming that everything will be fine. Studying for a PhD is cool, and doing research after that is cool, and teaching also is quite cool (and challenging). I am aware of many people from India who made some important breakthroughs in Computer Science, and I’ll be happy to learn that you’re one of them as well 🙂

    That said, it’s clearly a very important decision that will influence your life, and you should make it yourself! If I can be of any help, just ask…

  2. Stray November 25, 2008 at 3:15 pm #

    I’d go with following one’s heart and chasing one’s dream(s).

    It would help if you’d stop attempting to think thru such issues with a conformist mindset when u obviously don’t have one yourself. You’ll find a lot more peace and joy doing what u want to rather than role-playing the conforming bahu in a nasty marriage.

    And u know we live only once… unless u are a practicing Hindu, of course.

    Cheerie up, gurl.

  3. Rebel November 25, 2008 at 3:50 pm #

    I know we haven’t been good at exchanging advice, but still, here goes.
    Feel free to trash it if you want (and most probably which you will?).
    It is never too late to chase your dreams. You are one of the very few ppl I have come across who is happy doing what he is doing (i.e. comp science). I guess if you want to do law, go for it. There is always a risk that you might not like it. But that risk is far greater for someone like me who has a perpetual problem with status quo. And if a person like me is willing to chase his dreams (in a yr or two), why shudn’t you?
    Having said that, I can imagine how cumbersome it would be having to depend on your parents for funding. But if you decide to pursue Masters/PhD, you would get an allowance which (hopefully) would be enough to cover your expenses, right?
    In the current economic scenario, there undoubtedly has been a flight to safety. And I would not be surprised if you decide to do something which is more assuring. But think about it. I rarely talk about (let alone give advice on) chasing your dreams.
    So get into a good law school abroad and do what you want to do. There would be loads of hiccups, a thousand times more than what would be the case if you go in for PhD. But it would be worth it I guess.
    Working after would have been my last resort. Various reasons – with the world economy tanking, there is a low probability that anyone would land up a decent paying job abroad. Let alone abroad, finding jobs in India is also tough right now. I read sometime back that Infy is forcing thousands of its employees to take a sabbatical. Though I am not much in sync with the IT market, I dont think the situation there is much better.
    Finally, its your call.

  4. unsungpsalm November 25, 2008 at 4:43 pm #

    Thanks Vlad! I sure will pester you about the scene in Europe. I have my eyes set on that as well.

    Do not lead me astray 😛
    On a serious note, no am not a practising Hindu. Yes, we live only one life. Yes your advice will be heeded. Thankie 🙂

    Delighted that you broke the ceasefire. But no, your advice is one I can really do with! Just couldn’t have asked you directly, without violating the request you put forth in our last chat.
    I only wish that I were on firm ground straight out of college, that I could fall back on after completing PostGrad. and realising that I couldn’t manage it.
    But yes, on the other hand, it’s better trying to experiment now than later.
    I just wish I could be slightly more determined in life, and make things happen for myself the way I wanted them to. The course that my life has taken till now may not have been to my liking, but it was safe.
    It’s as if some force was guiding me, and guiding me well, but I’m not liking where it’s taking me and I must break free from it. And yes, it is scary.

    So I suppose I should be emailing Lawyers and asking them what my prospects would be like, pursuing Law after Comp. Science !?!?

    Oh Arrrvind… Siddd! Anyone there?

    Golly, I hoped I could find some good advice here. Yay!

  5. Jay November 25, 2008 at 4:50 pm #

    Oh goody! Finally a post where you’re not cribbing about and/or lamenting the possibility that you may end up alone and/or how your parents deserve better than a gay son who can’t live up to their expectations, but where you’re actually cribbing about *real* problems! ‘Tis a pleasant change, yes.

    You just live in your own sweet world, don’t you? Just listen to yourself…
    “It wouldn’t match up to the student life of a Law Undergrad. It wouldn’t fetch me the same experiences, create the same foundation.”
    It’s Law school for god’s sake, not Hogwarts!

    Now for some real advice (whether you make a note of it or discard it does not matter to me; it’s your life after all)…

    You say you don’t really care about academics. If that is really true, you should probably think hard about whether you want to go in for a doctorate or not. One has to be really driven to be able to pull through those 5 years. And with all the money you would have put into it by then, you wouldn’t have any option but to deliver.

    A job doesn’t sound too bad, but you really don’t sound like the kind who’d be content working as one of the only a few thousand IT execs in an Infy or a Wipro. Even if it’s only an ad hoc arrangement.

    So work with a consultancy. Branch out while you still can. Apply independently if your placement cell can’t make it work – it’s not too tough to get in. You’ll also be able to figure out whether you’re actually serious about changing your field or whether it was just a random fascination.

    I wouldn’t even consider the option of going for a 2-year commitment. You’re clearly not sure about what the best alternative (academic-ally) would be for you at this point and you would just be rushing into things if you took up something immediately after college.

    But these are only my views. Hope you make the right decision. Good luck.

  6. unsungpsalm November 25, 2008 at 5:57 pm #

    I MAY end up alone, and my parents certainly deserved a better gay son. One who would use his grey matter, and not put it into cold storage.
    Infact, they’d be very happy if I pursued my stream further on, into a post Grad. simply because they would think that for once, I knew what I wanted to do.
    When I drop the “I want to branch out” bomb on them, they’ll probably be troubled by how fickle minded I am. Because I doubt they’d think I had made a resolve. And I wonder if I have.

    And no, I could never match up to a 5-year law grad. It’s not Corporate Law that I want to pursue, that I can rote learn a few books and catch up with them. It’s Judicial Law, and Admin. Law and Social Law. I fashion myself as an activist. A social/political activist. And all these things mean… a difficult life. No money.

    I guess the choice I’m making here is…

    Do I want to live for others? Or do I want to live for myself?


  7. Jay November 25, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    Sigh. You’re such a 20 year-old.

  8. Rebel November 25, 2008 at 7:00 pm #

    Waise I agree with Jay. PhD is such a pain. I wud rather die than study on one single topic for 5 yrs!! I mean you take 1 yr to just DECIDE the topic of your thesis. Yucks.
    And what are these judicial law, admin law and social law?!! I had heard about criminal law, corporate law and public law. ( ‘Judicial law’ specially sounds pretty hairy. 😉 )
    By the way, the unrealistic idea no. 2 is also good 😛 😛 😛

  9. JH November 25, 2008 at 8:49 pm #

    I agree with Stray. Besides, I am of the opinion that entrepreneurship, law and medicine are the only things worth doing besides anything in the arts, music etc. I know I am a heretic in this regard.

    I too did engineering but unlike you I hated it. It was a safe option that would land you a job eventually. Sure it worked out but luck also played a huge part in that I never really did an engineering job ever. A few of my friends were really bold, quit after 2-3 years of engg because they could not see themselves working in an engineering environment and pursued law, hotel management etc. Yes, at that age it seemed ludicrous to quit it all and start from scratch especially when you will be 2-3 years older than your classmates but you fast forward 15 years they are happy and HIGHLY successful corporate lawyers or have started practices both in India and the US and give bankers/engineers a run for their money. If you have researched law enough and do like it (consider spending a summer interning at a law firm if you can pull some strings) consider taking the plunge

    My two bits on unwanted advise, which btw, I did not follow myself 20 years ago. Perhaps in this regard I am hoping someone like you will be smarter than all of us combined…

  10. unsungpsalm November 25, 2008 at 11:22 pm #

    And you’re such a wannabe-30-year old. :@

    Well, I would’ve studied computers for 3 years by the end of this degree, and I haven’t complained. I’m genuinely enjoying it. Given the option of choosing my area of specialisation, I wouldn’t mind another however-many years, as long as the faculty was competent. And I’m sure I can expect that in a good college in the States. I particularly like the idea of a Teaching Assistantship. Love the idea of being a TA, if I get to T once in a while.
    Yes, you’d certainly wish for Unrealistic Option 2, wouldn’t you 😛

    Oh, by Judicial Law, I meant Constitutional Law. My bad!
    And yes, there are far more specialisations than Criminal and Corporate. Common misconception.

    Where have you BEEN? About time, already!
    So you did Engg. too? But there’s the difference. I don’t consider Computers “engineering”. It’s more of a science! And I like it.
    Besides, I don’t want to do Corporate Law. If I did, it would make things far easier.

    Today, I mentioned my thoughts to Hagatha, and she said that she’d wanted to bring up the same issue earlier, but didn’t because I seem so convinced and she didn’t want to shake my conviction. She also feels strongly about my pursuing other avenues, and thinks I’m cut out as a lawyer, on grounds of clarity of thought, conviction and reason. No, I don’t mean to boast, but well, that’s what she said.

    But the more I think about it, the more I realise that what I want to be part of is Activism. And one doesn’t need to study activism. One doesn’t need to study politics. All of that is vocational. I can be a professional in a field, and pursue this on the side.
    The best politicians don’t rely on politics for their bread and butter. That’s what my dad said some years ago.

    So maybe that’s how I should keep it. Pursue a professional degree on one hand, and a hobby on the other.

    What I want most is the life of a student who has spent 5 years in Law School, deliberating on various issues (domestic and international) with friends while sprawled on the college lawns, debating everything under the sun, heated discussions in the classroom, participating in community activity. All the things that I now cannot have, because I cannot buy back my youth.
    So I suppose it’s just best to let it go.

    I think I’m close to a decision.

    But I also think that I’m the last person who should be making this decision.
    What would you all decide for me, if I requested you to?

  11. Jackdaw November 26, 2008 at 12:34 am #

    First of all. Not having chosen the other side of the spectrum will haunt you the rest of your life. And you’re the kind of person who will focuss on these irreversible choices a bit too much. We all make choices, but you can never say whether or not another choice would have been better. It would have implied a completely different life: different influences, people, environment. You cannot just exchange the subject of your study in your mind,… it’s much more, more than you can image.

    So, yes you will always wonder what your life would have been like if… live with it. There’ll me other difficult choices on the road. So much for the bad news.

    The good news, although a bit opportunist: Bunk it all and chase a dream.

    Being a person who looks back a lot, don’t you think you’ll regret not having chased your dream? Your life can change very quickly in a very short period, especially at your age. You may fall in love and not wanna leave India, for example. Make rchoices based on what you really want. Think of all there people who say: When I was young I had the opportunity but I missed it. And believe me: when you’re older you see that it was all much easier that it seems to be now, partly because of the romantic view, partly because really is easier than you think. You just have to put a lot of energy in getting a good overview. But it may be the most important choice of your life, so it’s certainly worth it.

    A 5 year commitment is quite something, and if you are more interested in money than the achievement of setting up a research project yourself, and being on the frontier of new science, you shouldn’t pursue a PhD. But, is money really that important? Is it not more important to invest in yourself rather than materialistic things?

    Try making your dream less unrealistic, believe in it, and then chase it.

    I know that in the first step some of your readers, amongst whom myself, will be willing to provide you with any info you need.

  12. unsungpsalm November 26, 2008 at 12:57 am #

    Thanks Jack. I suppose you’ve done it all, so you know it all.

    Rakesh emailed me and made it all simpler.
    So I go for an MS. Later on, once I’m out of the country, I have much more flexibility in changing my field of study, if I should desire it. But there’s a strong need to be on stable ground. And to have some money coming my way sometime in the future.

    So I’ll have to put in a lot of extra effort to manage a good school. I’ll do it.

    Golly, you guys helped a lot. Cannot thank you all enough!

  13. JH November 26, 2008 at 1:29 am #

    Been on the road…what kind of a situation do you see yourself in at, say 35?

  14. Stray November 26, 2008 at 7:40 am #

    You could do a conversion course abroad, preferably in the USA or the UK. If you want to take up a course in law to experience “the life of a law school student”, then this option would be best suited for you.

    However, if you’re serious about law as a career option, then be prepared to come across prospective employers who may not treat you on an equal footing when compared with peers who have taken up law as their only career course.

    And age is not a factor should you choose to practice law. An individual’s capability would determine the individual’s success (along with the expected politicking and arse-licking).

  15. unsungpsalm November 26, 2008 at 7:47 am #

    A successful professional. Worrying about settling down and “family” matters, and not about a career.

    Which only means that I should do a safe pick. I’m not all that crazy about reading and interpreting books… I just want to be a part of change. In society, in mindsets.
    Yes, being a lawyer/activist full time would help me achieve it sooner, but being a well paid professional would certainly make life more satisfactory, and I’m not the sort of person who can be satisfied without a sound financial footing. This isn’t Corporate Law that appeals to me, and that’s the one that pays really.

    As Rakesh told me, it’s easier to work to bring change in society, when you are on sound footing. I don’t want to be worrying about money 15 years down the line as well. So why don’t I take care of that in the next five, and once empowered enough, I can take my life in whichever direction I wish. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

    And more importantly, I do enjoy what I study and the specialisation I’m opting for. Sure, if I could do it all over again, I would make different choices but… I cannot replicate the exact same situation in my present position. And as Stray said, I would be treated a notch below those who were at it from the beginning, and that’s certainly not something I’d enjoy!

  16. Rambunctious WhipperSnapper November 26, 2008 at 11:35 am #

    Okay. First I’ll be politically correct like everybody else and say that I shouldn’t be giving out any advice on someone’s career because mostly I don’t have one.

    But what that really means is that we just love to dole out advice and when you ask us, you open the fucking dam.

    Now, what I would say is that you won’t realize it until when you are much older, the best option is to chase your dream. Or maybe you need to do a couple of jobs you don’t want to do but are still good at to realize that.

    And depending on your parents is not such a good idea. Unless of course, you are as shameless as I am and think of yourself as a light onto the world.

  17. TLOB November 26, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    I feel I would have felt bored in any profession that I’d have chosen after a point. And I feel people who know what they want at 21 are privileged and mentally evolved. So take chances, and there is no such thing as follow your heart, unless you are a big ‘Alchemist’ fan 🙂

  18. Vlad November 26, 2008 at 3:27 pm #

    I like the way you tend to think about it. You enjoy the stuff you’ve been learning so far, and if it is the case now, it is very likely that this feeling remains, and, as a result, after studying for you degree you will at least have a very good fallback option; not too many people like their work, on the contrary, lots of guys are doing something boring or annoying to make enough money and at least spend their holidays doing what they like to do 😀 Having said that, I should emphasize that you indeed can treat it is a fallback option, and then use your degree merely as a very good line in your CV. Also, studying for Masters/PhD is a very good exercise for an analytic mind, and the world will definitely become better if there will be one more politician/activist who is good at thinking logically 😉

    Best of luck with either choice, anyway. And feel free to come up with any questions. Actually, a very good question for the scenario of studying for you degree is – with which university do you want to do that?

  19. Rambunctious WhipperSnapper November 26, 2008 at 5:03 pm #


    I respectfully disagree ……

    There is such a thing as following your heart ….. in a very non-alchemist way …

    But we all our entitled to our opinions .. 😛 …

  20. unsungpsalm November 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm #

    Which University?!

    The name is engraved on my mind, but I wouldn’t DREAM of actually SAYING it! Hell no!
    I applied before, straight out of school. The application was shoddy and the effort was half-hearted and I was, surprisingly nonetheless (because I had always thought that things would work out in my favour eventually), rejected.
    It would take a miracle for me to make it even this time round, coupled with a LOT of effort!
    No, it’s not a Harvard or Stanford, but not far from it.

    But no, I cannot audibly voice my intentions of aspiring to go there, unless I was actually accepted. It would be far too embarrassing otherwise. History repeats itself, remember?

  21. D November 26, 2008 at 5:41 pm #

    If I could analyse and plan so much, I would do it for my life!

  22. Rebel November 26, 2008 at 6:16 pm #

    @D -> I soooooooo agree…hahahahahha!
    and @USP -> Where do you want to practice law? India or abroad? Just curious.

  23. unsungpsalm November 26, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    Call me slow but I think I kind of didn’t understand what you meant.

    Doesn’t make sense to practice law abroad. There’s by far enough law and order there. I’d only be inspired to work towards bettering the situation here.
    Though i’d probably want to study it abroad, because the 2 year degree in Delhi is simply not an option!!
    Quite complicated, yes.

  24. Rebel November 26, 2008 at 7:01 pm #

    So you really want to settle down in India?! My my…am i surprised!! Pleasantly, though. 🙂

  25. unsungpsalm November 26, 2008 at 11:04 pm #

    To be able to make a change, one needs to be in a position where one can be heard and taken notice of.
    With that in mind, it may just be the better option to go after fame and fortune, while not really doing something you dislike for achieving the same… no?

    And yes, I cannot stand the idea of relying on the parents especially when there’s an urgent need of becoming financially independent and letting out that small secret about my life. Which can only be divulged after I’ve bought my mom an LV bag.

    Interesting thought. Very interesting indeed. Pessimistic. Realistic.

    I like 🙂

    No, I don’t want to settle down here. I’m torn between.
    I like the idea of taking something which is so imperfect and making it better, which would mean staying in India.
    Then again, I wonder why I should try bettering a society that’s so happy with the way it is. A lot of effort for nothing.
    Which pushes me further away.

  26. Jay November 29, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    Dude, DU doesn’t offer any two-year course in law. Of course, LLM is a two-year course, but you can’t pursue that without an LLB.

  27. unsungpsalm November 29, 2008 at 6:07 pm #

    Well, there’s some 2-year program offered by DU. My dad did it when he was graduating, and then an acquaintance did it a few years back.

    But well, whether it exists or not, I doubt I’ll be pursuing it so I suppose I can not bother too much about it.

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