Thursday, June 4, 2020

Half the vision

It was the summer of 2012. I knew something was wrong with the way I saw things, but I just wasn't able to describe it to the doctors. When you can't see clearly, it's mostly blurry vision - but this wasn't really blurry. And it didn't seem to go away even with prescriptions of glasses. A doctor finally listened to everything I had to say and told me I likely had Keratoconus. I asked him to spell it out for me so I could Google it when I got back to my computer.

It was Keratoconus. I had to get C3R done in both of my eyes. It wouldn't cure it, but it would stop my eyes from getting worse. There isn't a cure for C3R yet. You can get your cornea transplanted, but that has way too many complications.

Life went on. I coped with it in my own ways: increasing the font size on my gadgets, sitting on the first bench in class, not driving a car at night. Then, 2018 happened.

I was speaking to a friend on the phone and we were reflecting on how the decade was for both of us. And that's when I realized that it's been particularly awful for my eyes.

It was the 21st of December 2018. I had a pimple-ish thingy on my upper-left lip. It swole that night. I consulted a doctor the next day. Took medicines. Kept swelling further. I went to a dentist. He said there's nothing particularly worrisome and prescribed medicines. He asked me to visit him again the next day.

It is now the 24th. I'm at the dentist's, telling him how there's no change in the swelling and how I feel the same as the previous day. He asked me to visit someone he knew in a bigger hospital. That person was out of town. He asked me to visit the hospital regardless and ask them to take a look at it. So I did.

It was mid-afternoon at this point. They took my blood samples. Asked me (multiple times) if I had any allergies. The blood reports were going to take a lot of time. I was feeling restless and weak. I decided to head home, rest, and take the medicines prescribed by a doctor at the bigger hospital.

I felt better. I went to meet a friend for dinner. I started feeling weak again. Headed home, took medicines, slept.

I woke up in the middle of the night feeling unusually cold. Shivering. I said to myself, "Hey, it's mid-winter and my room gets particularly cold. That's probably it."

It wasn't. It was getting chills. The only problem is, I wouldn't know what "chills" was until some weeks later. I wish I was taught about chills in school rather than the history of a random king in the country.

I took a hot shower, wrapped myself in layers of clothing, and dozed off inside my blanket.

I woke up the next morning. Headed to the washroom. Noticed my right eye was swollen. This felt like being "it". I asked my flatmate to take me to the hospital that I went to on the previous day. We took an Uber. This was around 8 AM, but don't quote me on that.

I rushed into the emergency room and told the doctors everything that had happened in the last four days. I gave my phone's passcode and debit cards to my flatmate.

I don't remember a lot of what happened that day except for a tiny part. I was getting an MRI done. It felt like a VR rollercoaster ride. I remember my third flatmate waiting for me outside the MRI room.

I also don't remember a lot from what happened the following week. The three days that followed were also full of confusion. I don't even know if it were "three" days, I like to believe they were.

I remember asking multiple times for water. The nurses would hand over a tiny cup that never felt enough. I remember seeing Batman and Iron Man emerge from the white wall I kept staring at. It felt weird. I wanted to brush my teeth but the nurses said I can't. My throat felt weird. I was wearing an oxygen mask at times. I had only seen them in movies.

One of my best friends who lived in Bangalore was out of town on a vacation. I woke up to see my parents and the said best friend along with other relatives of mine. I don't know what the time was. Someone must have called my parents - that part was understandable. The friend is on a vacation - how did he end up back in Bangalore so soon? It felt like I was dreaming again. I wasn't.

The next thing I remember is my friends discussing insurance. I remember eating boiled rice. I hated it. I remember painful syringes. I remember a doctor coming in regularly and flashing a torch at my right eye. I remember my parents discussing moving me to a hospital in Ahmedabad.

I took what still feels like the longest flight ever from Bangalore to Ahmedabad on the 1st of January. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what I was diagnosed with. Light hurt. Sound hurt.

I would end up being in a hospital in Ahmedabad for the next ten-ish days. A doctor would come in and tell me I've lost vision in my right eye. I remember making an Avengers reference in a text to a friend. They already knew.

I felt a lot better than I did the previous week. Friends and relatives would come to visit. We'd listen to music and eat fruits. Oh btw, I knew at this point I had meningitis of the bacterial kind.

Everyone was worried about the eye. They wanted to hear I'd get my vision back. Understandably so. I would end up visiting multiple doctors of the eye over the next month to get their "opinion". They hoped one of them would say what they wanted to hear.

I was trying to piece it all together. I kept Googling terms, trying to connect one thing with the other. I didn't know how I ended up the way I did. I wanted answers. I needed answers.

I didn't know how serious it was in December until some time in February. I could have died. It hit like a train. People knew but they hadn't told me. I felt betrayed.

I would end up confined to my home until the end of April. [That's why 2020 doesn't seem much of a change, really.] There were a lot of medicines to be taken. And there was a lot of sleep to catch up on. The medicines helped.

I went back to Bangalore in May. I had been away for more than four months. It was time to go back to normal - if there was such a thing.

---

A lot of things changed apart from the vision. I had never appreciated my friends and family as much as I did in 2019. They did plenty of unselfish things that I don't believe I would have. I'm sure I don't even know about most of it.

Mortality became ever so clear. Up until that point, in recent years before it, it generally felt like I spent my time worrying about the future. It seems more important to rather enjoy the now ever since, because who knows what future there's going to be. I don't make a lot of long-term plans anymore. I feel happier somehow.

I've got accustomed to the vision just like I got accustomed to Keratoconus some years ago.

"But we work with what we got, right?"
- Rhodey, Avengers: Endgame

---

If you were a part of what went down in the hospitals and things here don't seem correct, I'd love to hear your side of it. Helps me put my story together. Drinks on me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

C302

I'll be playing music from my phone when all of a sudden one of those songs come up which immediately teleport me through time and space to my apartment in Vadodara during my final year of college. Getting an apartment with my best friends led to a ton of memories to cherish.

Here's a list of all the things thinking about whom puts a smile on my face, in no particular order:
  • Going on drives while it's raining cats and dogs outside, and eventually getting frozen to death.
  • The burgers.
  • Pizza parties.
  • Playing Mini Militia for hours every day.
  • Finally learning how to fly a goddamn kite.
  • Dancing.
  • Asking each other, "aaje su khavu chhe?" a minimum of ten times every day.
  • Maggi.
  • Bonfire at the terrace.
  • Just sitting at the terrace, chilling.
  • The stress ball.
  • Shaving off the ice from the refrigerator and throwing it at everyone. ^_^
  • Texting with Soham from the other room when we co-incidentally wake up at the same time between 3 am and 4:30 am.
  • The magical stash of puns I'd unleash during exams.
  • Eating ice-cream for lunch.
  • Going grocery shopping.
  • Playing Uno.
  • Debugging code.
  • Sunday mornings at Fun/Happy Street.
  • Jalebi, Gathiya, and Khaman as breakfast on holidays.
  • The drives. The goddamn drives. ❤️
  • Going out for dessert most nights.
  • Calling everyone and everything "bro".
  • The trips towards the end of the year.
  • Interview prep.
  • Exam prep.
  • "Songs vagaad" every time we're chilling and not doing anything.
  • The late-night talks.
I'm dying to go on a trip with you guys and reliving all of this again.

All the years following May 2017 are going to have a pretty hard time competing with the year at C302 because the bar is now set so high!

I found a family and a home, far away from home. ❤️




road trip soon pls thx

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Leaps.

New things are scary. Changes are scary. They are supposed to be. But the fun lies on the other side of the scary bridge. I know, it sounds so clich├ęd. But it seems like I've got to keep reminding myself about this repeatedly. This post is more for the future-me than any of the readers lurking around.

I didn't want to go for MIT Media Lab Design Innovation Workshop 2015. There were a couple of reasons for doing so: I didn't get the track I wanted, I did not know anyone else who might be going there, it seemed pretty long at the time, and it seemed kinda expensive at the time too. But after being confused for so long, I finally decided to go. The only problem was the banks were closed by the time I decided I want to go, and the next day was a public holiday and the deadline for the fees. Things worked out in the end, and I ended up going for what I can confidently say set me up on a path that made me who I am. I had an amazing time. We built something really frickin' cool. I met lots of interesting people. I didn't want it to end.

I had just completed my exams and would be going back to Jamnagar from Vadodara. It was January 2015, and MakerFest was being held at Ahmedabad that weekend. I wanted to visit it, but again - I was alone, didn't really know anyone there, and going to Ahmedabad and then to Jamnagar meant I had to move my luggage through one more city. But I ended up going. I stayed for the two days it was held and it felt pretty cool - knowing things like these exist not too far away from where I live. I ended up having a stall at MakerFest Vadodara that year, and another one at MakerFest Ahmedabad in January 2016.

My precious MacBook had been stolen with all my work on it, two days before exams. I had an internship after exams in Pune - a city I'd never been to. I was struggling with searching for a place to stay, studying for exams, and grieving over the loss of my laptop. It was scary. I'm not even kidding. I took a leap of faith while finalizing my stay in Pune. I ended up getting a pretty good score in the exams. I had a pretty fulfilling experience during the internship.

I start my first full-time job in ten days. I haven't figured out where I'll stay once the company-sponsored accommodation period ends. I don't want to leave the comforts of my home. I'm gonna miss my parents and my room. But I know I'm going to figure things out and things will end up falling in place. I will make them.

I just booked my tickets for a solo camping trip next month. It was through a program I've been selected for. It took me two days to decide whether or not I want to go on a trip so far, alone. But then I reminded myself about everything you've been reading so far. Nothing good comes from staying within my comfort zone, and almost all the good things that have happened seemed just as scary at first.

If you are reading this, and if there is an opportunity handed to you that scares you, you should take it. I cannot promise you that it will be worth it. But I can promise you that it will change you as a person, maybe even set you on a trajectory that lands you exactly where you have been dreaming about. Take the leap.

"If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on." 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Why I hate college (but love learning).

If you follow my Facebook posts, you’ll find at least one rant every month. The last few weeks have been crazy; I’ve never been more ambitious, I’ve never felt more energetic. But every time I schedule something that I’m going to love doing, an assignment spoils the plan.

Here are all the points I hate about college. (Almost all. A tired brain skips some points.)

Attendance. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Make your classes worth attending, rather than making attendance compulsory. What if I understood that topic within two minutes when I read it online (curiosity!) last week? Why do I have to spend an entire hour listening to the same thing again, and again, and again, when I could channel that hour towards something productive? Nope, not acceptable. Did I mention that the teachers sometimes forget to put our attendance?

Okay, I’ll just read from this book while you’re teaching the thing I already know (or don’t know the topic it’s based off). NO! Okay, you’re teaching topic X, for which one needs to know topic Y. I missed the class when you taught topic Y, which is why I’m reading about that. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t understand any of topic X anyway, so wouldn’t it be better if I read about topic Y? I’m reading quietly with my head down, but you cannot stand that. You could let me sit in the library, but then ATTENDANCE!

Introducing a new subject in the middle of the semester, with a ton of coursework to complete. Please don’t do this. Please. I was already stressed about managing my time, you didn’t have to make it worse.

Code on paper. Because screw logic. Execute code on the computer, write it on paper, AND get it printed. lolwut?

Goddamn assignments! Plug in your earphones, open the reference book, and initiate mindless copying.Tick, tick, tick, tick. “What’s your enrollment number?” I have no idea what s/he wrote.

Arrogance of teachers towards extra-curricular activities. “I don’t care about . That’s between the HOD and you, even if you have a permission letter.”

Doing something different in a different way than how the teacher knows it can be done. “You will get zero marks in the exam for this code.” Yes, it works flawlessly.

Keratoconus. In case you didn’t know, I suffer from a corneal disease called Keratoconus, which makes it really tough for me to read what’s written on the board, sometimes even from the first bench. (Yes, that is why I sit on the first bench.) This one’s not on the college, but why I find it extremely difficult to study in class. I’ll study 2x if I’m reading from a book, or from the internet because of this very reason.

And to add to that, teachers use marker ink like it is made of gold. C’mon! No one’s going to die if you refill your markers properly.

I’ve had countless arguments on why dropping out would be the best choice for me, because I know I can learn things without going to college (hello, internet!), like I have done in the past.

I absolutely love learning. Most of the times, you will find me sitting in the corner, reading an article on my phone. (Because there are little things I find sexier than knowledge and good information.) I don’t hate studying, I just really hate studying at college. Formal education is not for me.

I received emails this evening containing assignments of two subjects, due next week. Good bye, weekend development plans!

Until yesterday, I used to say that IF I ever got my hands on a time machine, I would not use it; neither alter the past, nor the future. But starting yesterday, I’m looking for a time machine that would let me talk some sense into that kid (who resembles me way too much) filling out application forms for college. Would you please let me know if you happen to find a time machine?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why you should reinvent the wheel

If you have wandered among forums, and questions on websites like Stack Overflow long enough, you will be familiar with the phrase “Don’t reinvent the wheel”, which basically means don’t write code that’s already written by someone, or don’t waste your time writing code that would do things that can already be done by using frameworks. I’m going to tell you the contrary: Reinvent the wheel!
Because once you reinvent the wheel, you’ll be familiar with how the wheel is supposed to work, allowing you to modify it in ways that would make it more efficient for your particular use.
Frameworks sound pretty, code already written by someone else saves a lot of time, but when things don’t work like they’re supposed to, you’re bound to spend time scratching your head, unless someone already encountered a similar problem, and posted the solution online (which supposedly is the most common way people fix their code).
There are two primary benefits of reinventing the wheel, or writing code from scratch by yourself:

  1. You’ll get to know how the wheel works:
    When you start writing code from scratch, and you understand what you’re doing, there’s no doubt that you’ll know how, and why things are happening like they are.
  2. You’ll have complete control over all the features:
    When you’ve written the entire thing from scratch, you’ll know what features you have added. You will be able to put only those features that you require, leaving out access code, and complexity. You will also be able to integrate those features with any other framework that you’re using in your code.
But don’t use your wheel. Why did I tell you to reinvent the wheel, and then tell you not to use your wheel? Because the mainstream wheels already developed will be more stable, more secure, and would have more community support. You might also find lots of forks, and add-on features developed by fellow developers.
How you will benefit from this: You know how things are working behind the scenes. You know how, and what to modify in order to make the code do exactly what you want. You’ll also be able to make the existing, stable, secure framework work hand-in-hand with another existing, stable, secure framework. You’ll be able to develop add-ons to make your code more functional. And the best part? You’ll be able to share all the expertise you gained with the community!

So the next time you're thinking about integrating a framework on your project, stop and try to code it on your own!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Impact of Teachers

Teachers: Being one is the highest privilege. Having one is the best blessing. 
                            -  Source: The Internet.
I stumbled upon the above quote this evening and pondered upon it for quite a bit. What’s said is true, but there are cases when that’s completely false.

Let’s talk about how we define a teacher for a sec. Who do you call a teacher? The person who teaches you some subjects at an educational interview? Sure, but that’s not it. There’s a much broader interpretation of teacher. Someone who teachers you something, be it educational or otherwise, can be called a teacher. That includes your parents, teachers at your school, elders, your friends and in my case, much of the internet and almost any person who has made even the teensiest impact on your life, helping you become the person you are right now.

Now, let’s go over the people mentioned above and how they become teachers. I don’t need to elaborate much on how parents can be called teachers, but for the sake of covering almost everything I can, here it goes: They supported you when you tried to walk and stumbled. They supported you when you talked to them in whatever alien language you used when you didn’t learn your mother-tongue. They helped you become you. And if you’ve mature enough, you know that everything they did, no matter how wrong it seemed at the time, they were always trying to teach you something, perhaps from their own experience with life. The same goes for elders.

Teachers at educational institutes, another area I don’t need to cover but I do. Which teacher do you remember who taught you to write? I don’t remember mine, not even a hazy memory. If you do, cheers to your memory. They taught you how to add, subtract, multiply, divide, differentiate and integrate. They taught you how to read and write. The reason I’m able to write this thing here is because of a teacher.

Your friends, they share so many personal experiences with you, just like your share yours with them. Those experience have, in one way or the other, helped you make decisions. They’ve taught you how to copy in exams or how to bunk those classes or how to prank call someone using the internet. You’ve taught them a lot of things too.

The next thing that I’m going to mention has helped tremendously shape myself to become what I am now: the internet. To all the people on Stack Overflow, to the authors of countless WikiPedia pages, to the people answering interesting questions on Quora, to the people who resolved a problem with someone’s computer and posted the solution on a forum and to all the writers from the blogs I read, I’m extremely grateful.

We’ve all had great teachers, some who saw the hidden talent inside of you. Maybe that teacher was a parent, a sibling, a friend or someone else. But you just can’t deny the fact that they haven’t impacted your life. If you don’t know it yet, I actually like teaching. And to all the people who’ve asked me a query, you’ve helped me learn something. Thank you for that.

But not every teacher is an angel. Remember the one who wouldn’t even flinch before hitting you? Yes, that’s the one. Not every kid is born equal. Not every kid can understand what’s written in the books. To make the world a better place, no matter how harsh this sounds, we cannot let those teachers continue teaching. If a teacher, which does this, is reading this, you should remember that you won’t impact the kid instantly, but believe me because I’ve seen this, you will make a tiny impact on the kid’s life, but not for good.

So here’s to every teacher, friend, search engine, blog, mentor, and experience.

On a side note, help me win my college’s Google Innovation Club’s Teachers’ Day challenge by liking and/or commenting on this Facebook post over here: http://www.facebook.com/umanghome/posts/10152737609876340 . You can read more about the club on their Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How Microsoft has impacted my life and how I plan to bring a change in to the society being a Microsoft Student Associate!

9 years ago, I got my first personal computer. 9 years ago, I got my first hands-on experience on a Windows computer. 9 years ago, everything changed.

A 10-year old me would just play games on his computer, and listen to a couple of songs all day. An 18-year old me on the other hand knows a lot of ins and outs of computers as well as a lot of gadgets – and Microsoft has played a big role in shaping me into the geek I am, because almost every time I learnt something that made me the guy I am, one of Microsoft’s products has always besides me. Starting out, I used to tinker around with my Windows 98 (and XP later on) and break a lot of things. Needless to say, I had to fix them back in time if I didn’t want to get in trouble. And I did, I fixed them. Most of my knowledge about how a computer works the different aspects of software came from breaking and fixing stuff. Later on, I developed a lot of interest in blogging. Microsoft Office’s various applications were pretty useful, as they let me format my articles perfectly as well as make sure there are no typos and the grammar is perfect. I’ve helped a lot of people fix bugs within their Windows and helping things with the UI overhaul which Windows Vista brought has allowed me to know my way around different applications and find almost everything I’d ever need. But that’s not it.

I got my hands on a Windows Phone 7 device and was very intimidated by the user interface, it was the best I had ever seen. We tried to implement a similar design for TheGeekBros, a blog a friend and me founded, but never got around to publishing the new design. Later on when Windows 8 was introduced, I was excited because I love Metro UI, even though a lot of people on the internet seem to dislike it. I think that’s the time around which I realized that user interface has almost as much importance as functionality of an application. If you’ve known me for a long time, you know how I used to geek out about Windows Phone 7 and 7.5. I was equally excited when Microsoft got around launching Surface. When you’re getting a complete computing experience on a compact tablet, what else could you ask for?

But Windows, Windows Phone  and Office aren’t the only three things that are awesome about Microsoft. There are a lot of areas where Microsoft seems to excel. I got introduced to cloud storage by Microsoft’s SkyDrive (known as OneDrive now). 25GB of cloud storage and access to my files on any computer with an internet connection, why not? Sharing files with friends became easy, storing important documents became easy.

Then there’s Microsoft Virtual Academy, which has online courses ranging from HTML5 to game development and the cloud, which is pretty awesome by the way because you get to learn things you need to turn your dream about developing games into reality. You can also learn the essentials to making that app you always wanted to. Tutorials are just a click away.

Azure is another area where Microsoft lets users access the power of cloud computing. You can develop that application you always wanted to, and deploy it on the cloud and ensure uninterrupted access to your database. Heck, you can try out virtual machines on that thing. Pretty awesome.

We have entered the digital era, but not everyone is that computer literate that they’d be familiar with computers like us geeks and find their way around everything. Over time, I’ve had the chance to help out a lot of people find answers to their queries and figure out that with a computer, they can do the things they always wanted to, but they couldn't because they thought that they didn’t have the necessary resources and skill set.

I believe that the computer is a world of infinite possibilities and there are a lot of things that people can achieve through computing that would really make an impact on the world. Windows is the most user friendly computing operating system out there and it already has every resource built into it or just one download away. As a Microsoft Student Associate, I’ll spread awareness among masses about the things they can do with their computer, as well as help them figure out what the right way to do them is, whether it’s about which software they should use, or how they should go about acquiring the skills to turn their dreams to reality. This will be my first step towards making the world a better place. I’ve quite a bit of experience helping people out with their computers on a personal level, but being a Microsoft Student Associate will give me the chance to do it on a much larger scale. It will not only allow me to spread awareness and make people more computer literate, but also give me a chance to develop myself.


I hope that I’m selected for being a Microsoft Student Associate and it gives me a chance to make an impact on the society and take a step toward making the world a better place.