Note: This is a motivating post. If you are already motivated, save your 15-20 minutes by not reading this big gun.
In this post, I will describe my pre-JEE time. Bear with me if it goes too long.
I was born and brought up in a simple family of Kanpur. My father is a businessman and my mother is a housewife. I have 2 elder sisters.
When I was born, due to some medical infection, I was told to my parents that I might not survive. The doctors had to operate me. They made my parents sign a paper saying that if I survive, well and good, else the doctors aren't responsible for my life. With a heavy heart, my parents signed it. I was kept in a specialized glass jar for about a week after my birth. Just when the doctors prepared to operate me, I showed some activity and so, the operation was cancelled. Things recovered, and I was born all normal except that I had issues with my ears - both of them had holes in eardrum. However, I never faced problems in hearing. The only trouble that I face (till date) is that I have to protect my ear from any water entering inside, else it creates trouble. The ears are both 99.9% cured. Only protection from water is needed.
I was admitted to the same school at the age of 3 in which my sisters were studying - a state board school. However, within 6 months, I completed the class syllabus and so I discontinued the school. In the next session, my parents got me admitted to an English Medium ICSE board school in the city of Kanpur, near my home. Since I was underage, I had to repeat the upper KG class. I was just an average student in that school. I remained in that school till class 5th.
I wasn't a child prodigy or something. I was a mediocre student, getting 7th rank in class 1st, 13th rank in class 2nd. However, in class 3rd, a new section was created and "not so good" students were pushed into that section. In this new section, I was able to perform quite well, getting 1st ranks in class 3rd and 4th. In class 5th, I remember being over-confident and ending up with 8th rank.
Later in class 6th, my mother got me admitted to the best school in the city - Dr. VSEC. The new school experience turned out to be the worst experience of my life. I was the naughtiest student possible. I wasn't spoilt, but I was naughty - can't remain stable, can't avoid breaking things, can't avoid hitting people and can't stop talking in the class. My parents were quite fed up with my complains and they wanted to send me to Doon International School, Dehradun. My dad had gathered all the details and almost everything was finalized when my uncle somehow stopped them and convinced them that this was too early to send me away (I am really thankful to him for this). So, finally I was admitted to VSEC. However, my mischievous activities had no bound. I least studied (if at all). My elder sister used to teach me all the subjects. She was responsible for my academics. I used to fight with my sisters for small things.
I had a tough time in VSEC. The school was highly highly disciplined with strict teachers, tough competition and lots of smart people. On the contrary, I was naughty, habitual of a weak competition around not so good people. I used to spend most of my time playing cricket and other games with my friends in my society, not giving a damn to academics. End result - 23rd rank in class 6th. My friend, who also joined VSEC in the same year (he was my section mate in previous school) ended with 3rd rank and I was totally astonished.
I spent most of my time in school sitting on floor because I forgot to keep some book in the bag, or I hit someone, or maybe I argued with some teacher. This is how my class 6th experience was. However, I was never a spoilt kid. All I did was - mischievous activities. I never really "tried" on girls or did something anti social :P
In class 7th, due to my violent behavior, I was made to sit with Aniket Gupta - my best friend. He was one of the quietest guy in the class - not talking to people, focusing on studies and not involving in any bad activity. An ideal guy in all respects. We soon became friends. He helped me quite a bit with my academics. He was among the toppers, getting a rank in top 5, one of the best students in the class. I would say that it was his silent nature that changed me. I finally got 13th rank in class 7th.
In class 8th, I was changed quite a bit. I was very much focused towards academics. I and Aniket had a neck to neck competition. There were a few other students with whom we used to compete (we stayed away from the toppers :P). I remember getting 4th rank in the middle term of class 7th. There was this girl who used to get 3rd rank consistently. I told her that the next time the third rank would be mine. Her reply was amazing - "uske liye padhna padta hai" (for that, you have to study). I studied hard. However, during my final exams, I became a victim of chicken pox and so, I was forced to take rest. I used to give my final exams separately, in the infirmary. I finally ended up with 6th rank, Aniket was 5th.
In class 8th, I really changed a lot. Firstly, my sister got married and so, my parents got a home tutor for me. That tutor greatly helped me to improve my maths. However, it was Aniket, who made me realize that I did not need a tutor and I had a great potential to do well without any tutor/coaching and so, I asked my parents to discontinue the tuition henceforth. My parents never really interfered with my academics and so, they agreed. I am really lucky, that I was NEVER told to study by my parents. They always encouraged me to enjoy my childhood. They always allowed me to play to my heart's saturation. I used to play cricket during final exams. Other people in the society complained to my parents that I am playing during the exams, but my parents never gave a damn. They were just very relaxed about my academics and I literally don't remember a single day when my mother/father asked me to study.
Class 9th was a class which absolutely changed me and oriented me to be what I am today. I had left tuition in class 9th and was completely on my own now (remember my sister who taught me was married). There was absolutely no one to guide me. My other sister didn't care about my academics and parents too never interfered and so the whole responsibility was on me now.
I, Aniket and Ujjwal was 3 best friends and I used to hangout with them all the time. We were very focused in academics, much of unaware of things around us. I remember that once in a free hour, I and three other classmates (including the girl who sat next to me) were playing truth and dare - my first experience with that game. I was asked who my crush was and my reaction was:
In class 9th, first term, I ended up with 4th rank, missing the first rank by just 7 marks. Since I was in the Computer Science section, the fourth rank was rather among all the students (~150) and not just my own section. This was sort of a shock for me. I had never expected this to happen that I will overtake Aniket some day (he was 5th I guess). I remember that in the parents teacher meeting, the top 3 names were written on the blackboard as the top rankers. I told my mom - "algi baar mera naam hoga, dekhna" ("next time, my name will also be on the board").
Since then, I worked really hard. In the second term exams, I topped all the 4 sections, with a margin of 14 marks. I secured 99/100 in Mathematics (losing a mark for a silly mistake :/), and topping several other subjects as well. I also got 98.5/100 in Physics and 89/100 in Chemistry (I have the marksheets with me and so I remember the marks :P). I topped all the 3 subjects and screwed English literature. But the margin in Physics was so high that I ended up being the overall topper. Our physics teacher used to make super lengthy numerical based paper and even the best students failed to complete the paper on time. I had a really fast speed. This is where I used to win when it came to Physics.
With this achievement, I also faced a problem - problem of haters :/
The guy who used to top so far was the monitor of the class. I don't feel shame to mention that my DUMB chemistry teacher in class 9th (who was also the class teacher) was just brainless. The guy who used to top previously made my innumerable complains to her and in the next parents meeting, a disaster happened. My mother was extremely happy because I did what I said (topped the class) but what she heard in the parents teacher meeting was shocking.
Class teacher (to my mom, in front of all other parents, in anger): "Ye kisi bhi hadd tak ja sakte hai top karne ki liye. Ye kisi aur ko class me kuch poochne nahi dete, bus apna hi lage rehte hai. Bohot undisciplined hai" (He can go to any limit for topping. He doesn't let others ask questions in class, he just himself asks questions. He is very undisciplined).
Her words shook me and my mom. With a heavy heart, we went home. My mother didn't say a word to me because she had seen my efforts. I was very angry about this. The very next day, after the chemistry class, I went to her.
Me (in an extremely angry tone): "Did I cheat that you told my mom that I can reach to any limit for topping? And my dad pays the fees! I will ask endless questions and teachers ARE supposed to answer them. If others don't ask, its THEIR problem, not mine.".
The dumb unmarried lady was shocked. She was a new teacher and I literally scolded her. Having said those words, I went back to my seat. She entered the class and apologized to me in front of the whole class \m/
Things went on like this and I topped the final exams as well.
I had to share a rank with a girl because of my dumb mistake. I left a few questions in geography paper accidentally, else I would have been a clear topper. Aniket was 3rd overall. I remember in the prize distribution ceremony, the same girl (who said to me in class 8th - for that, you have to study) was standing beside me and she shyly asked me - How do you study Aman? and I was like:
Class 10th started. Had to face the same God damn Chemistry teacher again, though not as a class teacher. The conflict between me and her continued. Anyway, by this time, I had established my position very well. My scores in English and Hindi used to be low but I always won a great margin in Physics, Chemistry and Maths and so, I remained a topper in class 10th as well.
I remember my class 10th pre-boards in which I scored 32.5/80 in English Literature and still topped the 4 sections because of exceptional score in Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Geography. You heard it right, Geography. When my Geography teacher told me that I have score 71/80 and so she is deducting my 1 mark because never in her career of 20 years has she seen a score of 70+ in pre boards, I was like:
I topped almost all the subjects in the pre boards and also topped overall. However, 32.5/80 in English screwed me :/ My English teacher was my class teacher and she faced pressure from principal ma'am about my English score. I and two other people were given special attention in school because we were performing very well in the internal exams. The teachers were ready to give us an all time support.
We (I, Aniket and Ujjwal) had a great image in the minds of teachers until my DUMBASS chemistry teacher spoiled it. A few jealous batch mates complained to her against us and so, she ended up telling other teachers that we three have formed a "gang" and our primary aim is to disturb the class. I felt really bad when my geography teacher scolded us for this.
However, things had to be on track because we didn't have that intention. A great incident happened.
It was MaSCon time (Mathematical Smartness Contest). Aniket and Ujjwal were from the same school house (blue), I was from a different one. The geography madam was the in-charge of the same house as well. For MaSCon, students with good mathematics scores were supposed to be chosen. There was another teacher, who was supposed to choose students for MaSCon for the blue house. He chose Ujjwal instead of Aniket. This was shocking, because Ujjwal wasn't good at maths. He just had a good impression on that teacher and so, he was chosen. Aniket didn't get a chance.
Now this is what true friends do for each other - Ujjwal withdrew his selection and demanded Aniket to be selected for the same. After some haggling, Aniket was finally selected for MaSCon and he in fact topped the inter house and inter school MaSCon. This incident changed our impression on teachers. They really became happy about our friendship and the geography teachers has been our well wisher since then.
Finally, class 10th boards came. 28th February 2011 - board exams had to start and 24th February 2011 was my real sister's marriage. My mother had asked me to dance in her marriage, saying that she won't mind at all if I score a percentage or two less in the board exams, but she will definitely feel bad if I don't dance (yes! that's my mom \m/). My class teacher came to know this and she was too worried :P. She even told my mom that she will take my to her home so that I can study :P
Anyway, I danced in my sister's marriage and I topped the school in board exams as well - 97.4%. Aniket stood second in the school - 97.2%. We both emerged as the star performers of the school. The other 2 people who were performing consistently were somehow unable to perform well in the boards.
Me (left), Aniket (middle), Ujjwal (right)
In class 10th, seeing our potential, our maths teacher motivated us to crack JEE. He had told me and Aniket - "agar 100 ke andar rank na aye to muh na dikhane aana" (If you don't get a rank under 100, don't show me your face).
I was too motivated to crack JEE at that time. Aniket's brother had got an All India Rank of 125 in JEE 2010. That was the first time I heard that people also get a rank in 3 digits in JEE. Until then, I had only seen ranks of the form 5xxx, 6xxx in the school magazine and as a child, I thought maybe in JEE, the topper is allotted a rank of 5000 :P
In school, I was involved in a wide range of activities - chess, typewriting, Casio, computers, robotics, skating, skating hockey, hockey, football, and drama as well (the drama pics are too weird to share :P)!. I was a jack of all trades, but master of none :/
I played the role of a king in a Shakespearean play and also played Gandhiji on Independence day program in school!
I also was involved in art and craft! Don't believe me? See this:
My lead project B-)
A line following robot made by us
I looked thin and lean then :P
I also participated in ComFest for 2 consecutive years. ComFest is an annual Computer Festival held in Jaipuria School, Kanpur. I was actively involved in animation making and website making and I represented my school for the same for 2 years (and this is why I screwed my English Literature pre-board :P)
From my timeline, you can clearly see that there have been lots of ups and downs in my life as well. However, never ending faith in myself, self motivation and dedication to work hard and put in as much effort as needed helped me to achieve a good rank in JEE. It is really not about being born smart, or having super intelligent parents who can just guide you in anything. It is really about your own hard work
Moreover, to prove that I wasn't really good in class 11th as well, here is a scanned copy of my NSTSE result
of course I did well in subjective, but the national rank is 1.3k
Also, I should mention that Aniket got an All India Rank of 641 in JEE 2013 and is currently in IIT Roorkee CSE.
Also, if you feel offended about me labeling my chemistry teacher as "DUMB", please don't be so. I generally respect teachers. The hardships I had to face because of her have really filled poison in my heart for her. Also note that in a blog, a blogger is free to express his opinion about a person/thing and so, you must not mind it.
I hope this post motivates you and helps you to realize that the real beast lies within you! You just need to pull it out and eat the damn world!
All the best :)