Saturday, 12 March 2016

The First Leg

I've changed a lot in the past four years and my older blogs have simply become out of place. There seem to be only 40 days left at IIT Bombay and the growth that I've experienced in multiple facets is too much to describe. I've also come to realize that the nitty-gritty details associated with these growth-events, a feature of my previous blogs, are actually interesting only to me, and perhaps my closest kith and kin.

Thus, the style now is going to be a more colorful exposition, a true expression of creativity, and all the other superlatives someone who's just about to enter into a PhD might use. I imagine the coming years to be a jolly ride at La Jolla, California, but certainly with its ups and downs, an ideal testbed for my perceived 'growth' over the last few years. Indeed, the substance will be separated from the shadow.

What I intend to put down here is the PhD journey of an aspiring lad, who wishes to make some fundamental contributions. At the very least, wish to maintain the same enthusiasm over the coming five years!

Here we go! Now, the first big question is about where I should go. Having multiple offers should supposedly make life better. But that's not to be so because of the associated decision making! I'm tempted to write at lengths about the factors I should consider in choosing a university, almost mirroring every discussion I have with my peers, relatives and faculties these days.

Instead of boring both the reader and myself, I'd like to talk about two interesting ideas here. It relates to the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. I happen to be a big fan of this poem since it's interpreted in two different and beautiful ways. The first and most commonly held interpretation stems from looking at the following lines in isolation - "I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference". Here RF seems to suggest that taking the road not taken made all the difference in his present success.

The second and more beautiful interpretation follows on reading the whole poem. One then realizes that what RF actually talks about is a bit deeper - that although he's inclined to believe that "The road less traveled" was the better path, it might well be that the other "Well worn path" led him to greater heights. RF here reasons that this tendency is actually an aspect of human fallacy where we tend to (incorrectly) convince ourselves that our current situation is the best, disregarding where the other paths may have led us.

The poem then ends with a tone where he finally concedes to this fallacy, since he likes to take pride in having taken the unconventional path. What lies ahead of me is similar. It's on the various choices I have, and my not being able to fix on a particular university. While it'd be great to know the outcomes at the end of each path, perhaps taking the unconventional path has a beauty in itself. San Diego, here I come!

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