Monday, 2 March 2015

Celebrating Technology and Chasing our "Real Dreams"

February's gone.

And just like that, we're already Two months into the new year.
Surprising really, how time passes by. I know I'm still not used to the fact that we are in the year 2015. I probably won't be either, probably not until around when June comes by.

My college, NIT-Trichy, celebrated it's annual Techno-Fest, Pragyan. for the Eleventh time ever. The tagline of Prgayan is 'Lets Celebrate Technology', which, for me is, for want of a better word, interesting, In my first year, I've heard a lot of tales about Pragyan, and now, in my second year, I still have no idea if they are true or not.

One of the stories whispered about, were that the name of the fest itself, Pragyan, came about in a tongue-in-cheek moment, suggested by one of the founding students after one of his ex-girlfriends. Sounds ridiculous I know, and the official story is that the name was chosen by a vote amongst the founding members. Pragyan does mean 'Supreme Intelligence' in Sanskrit, so there is some merit to the official version.

But, why couldn't it have been the former? It would have been really cool if it turned out to be the case. Sadly, I, at the very least will probably never know the truth. The very fact that such a rumour existed however, does give us some thoughts to munch over, about the mindset that the founders had when they set about to create a student-organized tech fest.

Creating Pragyan ground up, from scratch for the first time, would have entailed a lot of hard work and effort. And, not only that, it would have taken a kind of obsessive love and passion towards technology. It would have meant that they admired and loved engineering and innovation so much so that they created a platform for them to share their joy of 'celebrating technology' with others. Although, to be honest, the 'Let's celebrate...' tagline was adoped only in 2011, by which time, Pragyan had probably evolved and grown beyond what its founders had envisioned for it.

It was my second Pragyan, and the third overall college fest that I was able to attend. I had missed out on Festember, the college's cultural fest (No prizes for guessing when it occurs) in my first semester, as I had chosen to go home, rather than staying back for the celebrations. I feel bad about that now, not only because, I ended up missing something cool, but also the reasons for my departure.

The friends that I hung out with then, had decided to leave for Chennai during Festember, and I, not wanting to be left out, went with them. I didn't stop to consider for even once, that maybe I should think and take the best decision for myself, instead of taking the easy route of 'going with the flow'. Since then though, I've reformed a bit, and started to decide what I wanted to do for myself.

I was in campus for the next iteration of Festember, and of course, I was there for Pragyan 14 as well. The experience was not perfect, and there was a decent bit of the bad mixed in with the good, but overall, I grew a lot, saw a lot of cool things, and improved my perceptions on a lot, lot of things.

After my first Festember though, I noticed a visible difference between the atmosphere at Prgayan 15. Earlier, Pragyan was the only fest that I had had a chance to experience, so I had nothing to compare it with, Now, after Festember 14, I found that the air was much more serious, muted even at Pragyan.
The crowds too, were sparser, more calculated and less likely to amble along leisurely, like tourists. This was not necessarily a bad thing, as Prgayan is, at heart, a tech fest, where people generally come to attend workshops and participate in serious events involving a lot of coding, wiring and a lot of technical know-how.

In the middle of all of this though, is an odd set of events called 'infotainment'. These are events, which are supposed to be technical, or at the very least, scientific, but entertaining at the same time. This year, Pragyan invited a troupe of fire artists from Czechoslovakia. Their connection with 'science' is mild, at best, unless they were planned to be used as live targets for a new method to extinguish fire, but damn, they put on a show.

The show occured at Seven-ish in the evening, at the sports ground, which was perfect. Lots of sand, very little flammable material nearby, although, in retrospect, was it a good idea for the fencing that separated the crowd from the performing stage to be made our of dry wood? Luckily though, nothing untoward happened and the show was a blast.

I was transfixed by what I saw. It was incredible. Their performance could almost be called a dance, and it involved a lot of stylish actions, quick, precise movements of their wrists and hands and from what I could see, a lot of confidence. They performed using long torches, lit with live fire at both ends and with cloth-covered slings, also alight with flame.

Heavy Metal and Rock music blared over the speakers over the course of their performance, and to be frank, the crowd couldn't get enough of the complicated twirls, spins and crossovers that the threesome (There were three performers) executed flawlessly. I was struck by the scene, which reminded me of depictions of hell, with fire raging everywhere, but I marveled at the beauty and the intricacy of the performance.

At first, the three performed solo, with each showing off his (There were two men and a woman) prowess with the flaming torch and the sling. The woman also performed using a many-branched frame, carrying several small flames. But, then they suddenly crossed over and danced together, the flames weaving, a mere blur,  through the gaps in between their tightly swaying bodies.

The audience gasped and clapped in awe, struck by their talent. And that was when I noticed something interesting. The faces of the performers, all the three of them, and in particular, the woman, bore no sign of stress or fatigue. At all.

In Fact, the woman was actually smiling, as she confidently stepped past her partner, swinging the flaming torches in her hands in an intricate pattern, firm in the knowledge that she would not hit him in error,

So, let me ask you then, can you smile, while you are literally holding death in your hands? While you are pretty much as close to the edge as you can possibly be? Undoubtedly, the clothes that the performers wore had some anti-inflammation properties, but the flames themselves would exude hot gas and heat. The hands of each member of the troupe would be feeling unbelievably hot, singed and dangerously sweaty, which brings me to my second question.

When your current condition is as slippery as that, do you trust in your practice and more importantly do you trust yourself to walk up to your partner, fire in hand, and perform confidently, while smiling all the way?

It says a lot about their talent and ability, true. But it also speaks volumes about their dedication and the passion that they must have for their jobs. Honestly, this was the kind of job, that one would not enlist oneself in unless he truly loved doing it.

We talk so much about how we want to chase our dreams and do what we 'really' wanted to do during our childhood, but would we approach it with the same love and dedication?

I had a friend once, back in eight grade. He told me that he wanted to become an astronaut. But when the subject of 'what do you want to do after your schooling' came up again (It has now become 'What do you think you want to do after college?'), in tenth grade,  he told me clearly that he wanted to become a software engineer, maybe work a few years in an IT company and then join his father in the family business. I felt upset when I heard this, because if felt that he had given up his original dream.

There was another guy from my school that I knew around the same time as well. He was pretty good at dancing and everyone in the school knew about that. But around the time we were in our eleventh grade, he would do pretty badly in, just about every test given to him. And each time, he'd blame his father for forcing him to study in a conventional school, when what he truly wanted to become was a professional dancer.

But the thing was, I had never seen him take the initiative to try and make that happen. Or at the very least, to try to make the best out of what looked like a bad situation. He would just sit in a corner of the classroom, content and in solace with the fact that he had a 'different' dream, that he was breaking convention by declaring his dancing ambitions. He stayed like that till the end of 12th grade.

Today, both of them are engineering students, in different colleges. I have since lost touch with both of them, which is something that I honestly regret. I am currently endeavoring to find out their current status, but I can tell this with certainty.

It isn't enough to have a 'different dream', or to just dream big. You just need to love what you dream of doing and follow through with it. It doesn't matter if you want to become something that people scorn or deem to be 'cliched' these days, such as engineering or medicine. All you need is to love it. You need to love it with a passion that gives birth to a confidence akin to that displayed by that pretty Czech woman from the fire troupe; the confidence to handle fire without the fear of getting burnt.


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! Couldn't agree with you more on what you say in the end of your post. There can be no excuse if you are truly passionate about achieving your dreams.