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Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Vancouver Diaries – X

Graduating High School in La-la land

I always thought Canadians put too much dramatics into high school graduation. The "Ooohs" and the "aaahs" and the "big milestone" talks never struck a right chord with me. For me, high school was something everyone had to do and did. I couldn't understand the hoopla and hype about "graduating". But then, it was in the atmosphere so much that I had to go along. We had "Grad bad hair days", "Grad sleepovers", "Grad breakfast", "Grad golf days", "Grad lunch parties", "Grad swim night" , "Grad PJ party" etc...It was everywhere. And it was fun. We had contests on who had the worst bad hair day. We went to school in horrible hairdos and they snapped pictures of it. One day everyone came in PJs to school. I could never bring myself to do that (Blame it on my conservative South Indian upbringing! :)). So I was content to enjoy watching it.

Then, of course, we had the application forms for universities, planning for which career to choose and so on. It was heady stuff but I was uncertain. Should I go to university here? Or back home in India? Would I get funding? I couldn't work on-campus to support myself and dad would leave in 2 years. I had a thousand confusions running through my head. But I wrote SAT, TOEFL etc... in preparation for American universities. I had a very good score in SAT and was hoping to go to the US for my undergrad. But my dad was loathe to leave me alone at the age of 17 in a foreign land.

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A name is a name is a name...

I am reminded of two things as I am writing this:

- One of Sayee Santosh’s stand-up comedies in Lexington where he said, “Who names their kid ‘Babu’??? What kind of a name is that??” We were rolling on the floor with laughter! But it kind of highlighted the importance of a name...

- I am reading “Five People You meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom. He says, “There’s nothing in the world that’s disconnected. Everything happens for a reason and our stories intersect.”

Why am I writing this? I realized that one’s name is perhaps the one thing that everyone takes for granted. When I joined school, I had to go through the paper-work. Our school secretary entered my name in the school records.

“What’s your name?”

“Subhashini Srinivasan”

“Huh? How do people call you?”

“Subha”

So, she entered my name in the records as Subha Srinivasan. After one term, I realized that my passport name and school name didn’t match. So I went up to her and told her she had to change my name. So she went ahead and happily entered “Subhashini Srinivasan”. I didn’t even think of that incident much.

A year later, I was applying for universities. We hadn’t decided if I wanted to study here. But I thought I would just apply and see if I got any funding. For various reasons, Simon Fraser University was my choice college. I had excellent grades and I was sure of an admit into CS there. So I dutifully completed my application forms and mailed it in. They’d get transcripts from the school directly.

One month down the line when everyone was getting admits and scholarships, I hadn’t received any notification from them. I was worried. MJ had gotten an admit. So I called them up one fine day and asked them why I hadn’t heard back.

“What’s your name, honey?”

“Subhashini Srinivasan”

“Let me get your record.”

Silence. I was chewing on my lips.

“Hello, I am back. Hmm..let’s see. Oh. This is the weird one we got where you have no record of courses taken at school, no grades and 0 credits! So we just filed it for later perusal.”

The world literally crashed around my ears. I heard a buzzing sound in my ears.

What? How could this happen? I had straight As!

I went straight to my school office and asked the secretary there if my transcript had been requested by any University. She looked through the computer and frowned thoughtfully.

“Oh. I know what happened. I have two names for you – Subha Srinivasan and Subhashini Srinivasan. All your grades are under the first name because that’s what we entered first. The second one doesn’t have any records under it. Sorry, honey. I will correct it and send the transcript right away!”

I gritted my teeth fighting the urge to pound her.

How could she be so flippant? It had cost me one month’s precious time! Everyone had admits.

I cried my eyes out.

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A silver lining….

After gut-wrenching weeks, I finally got admits from both UBC (with scholarship) and SFU (no funding). I was upset. People with GPAs less than me had gotten funding at SFU. I wanted to know. So one day, my father and I went to SFU’s computing science department to meet a professor who’d reviewed my application to get the real deal from her.

She was a very nice lady who welcomed us into her office. She looked at my application.

“Oh. A very strong application.”

Silence.

“Hmm….everything looks excellent! You’re a brilliant candidate! You should’ve gotten funding! Now, let’s see why we missed you.”

I was hopeful. At least, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe it was just an oversight. Maybe they’d rectify it. My heart was pounding.

Her clear voice broke the silence.

“Dear, I know what the trouble was. Your application reached us late. Looks like you had an empty transcript first and then sent the real one. That process took a month nearly. All our scholarships are first come, first serve. I am real sorry that we are not recognizing a wonderful candidate.”

I could see sympathy in her eyes. My own were brimming.

You know what’s the worst thing in life? It is not missing opportunities. It is knowing that you have missed one and that too, due to no fault of your own! Knowing always kills you. Whoever said Ignorance is Bliss was damn right!

Maybe if I’d not bothered to ask why my application was not considered for funding, I’d have been better off? I’d have assumed that I wasn’t smart enough and there rested the case. But knowing that I could’ve gotten it and should’ve gotten it were it not for some secretary who messed up her work was too painful! So, where is the silver lining?

In retrospect, I think it was in knowing that I had enough merit to go to SFU on scholarship. Knowing helps you grow even though it may be painful.

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The Diary will flip its last page soon….

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Diary will flip its last page soon ... ?

Oh no !

Anon - I

Now I miss another good execuse to waste time readin blogs.

ashokla said...

"You know what’s the worst thing in life? It is not missing opportunities. It is knowing that you have missed one and that too, due to no fault of your own! Knowing always kills you."

I second u for that, it really kills you. I guess u start feeling sorry for urself, which is a pretty sad situation to be in!!!!!

Anonymous said...

What makes you so good?(at all that u do)

Prabu Karthik said...

>>It is knowing that you have missed one and that too, due to no fault of your own! Knowing always kills you

very true! and you know what thats how life goes.

for various reasons i could relate to that sentence very much.

archie said...

Hey Subs,

Me posting after aeons! Checkout my 6th sense blog-corner:

http://equilibrioception.blogspot.com/

susan said...

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Here’s the link for that…

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Tell all ur friends and colleagues in the US. Awesome prices if ur flying anywhere in the world..and it’s really useful, if ur flying from the US to China, South East Asia and Europe…hope this helps!! The Platinum membership is paid and trust me it’s worth every bit!!

Cheers!!