My letter of purpose

Do you keep a pen and notebook next to your bed? Have you ever woken
up in the middle of the night to write something on that book? Have
you ever sat down looking at things and smiled at the beauty of how
they work? Have you been unhappy when you were not able to perform a
particular experiment or find the answer to a really pressing
question? Well, I have. And I hope to find out from you some day if
you too have felt this way too.

Ever since I was a kid, I loved to experiment and enjoyed going the
extra mile to learn more about whatever it was that was learning. I
vividly remember with great detail the day I told my math teacher,
Mrs. Rajani that I found a way to Trisect an angle, I was 12 that
time. (Trisecting and angle with regular equipment is a mathematical
impossibility) Everyone was against me, and I was teased and made fun
of quite a lot those days because of my effort. I could not do it. It
was not possible. I found that out myself, and I am happy that I did
so and not take the words of my teacher or friends for God’s own word.
It brings me to joy when I think about the effort I put into my dream
that year, and how I pushed myself so very hard to achieve that.
Sometimes, you just have to find out for yourself what the truth is. I
have and will always be a detective/scientist/entrepreneur in spirit.

After that incident, after having been made fun of to such an extent,
I never fit into the crowd. People never seemed to be the objects of
my interest. The new interests were Causes.

Most men tie themselves to an object, or a person. Very few are
exceptions to the rule. I’m not sure if people are just downright
exceptions, they may feel compelled to be a part of the group and live
a normal life for some time. But every moment that you stay away from
that group, and put your heart and soul and breathe into a cause worth
fighting for, a cause worth dying for, we get addicted. The worst sort
of addicted. Addiction to a concept. A cause. The kind of addiction
where you see things, like when in the Matrix. For opportunities to
create jobs, to make money, to seek glory, and to help a lot of
people. I am addicted like that. I’m sure any number of pages you give
me are going to be insufficient for me to write the tales from my
past. But there is this one story that I really want to leave with you
today.

It was March, 6th. 2012. I had to travel to Mumbai with my sister, so
that she could attend an interview at TISS. We reached Mumbai at 3 am,
and both of us knew no Hindi, did not have anyone there in Mumbai to
help us, and not a clue in the world as to how we were going to go
back home. We were there to get the interview through and we did just
that. At around 3.30 we took turns to safe guard the bags and had
alternatively taken baths at the railway restrooms. Then went out and
walked to the nearest taxi stand and had breakfast. After that, we
found a taxi and left for TISS. I told him clearly that I was going to
give him what the meter read, and I had taken a picture of what the
meter read while settling down. The problem with the thing was, it was
in the Marathi Script, not the Arabic script. I could not read Marathi
numbers, and I had snapped a picture on my phone so that I can learn
the script.

In about 15 minutes, he stopped opposite the magnificent TISS
building; I got down, and then came the not so surprising surprise. He
asked me for 400 rupees. I knew this was going to happen, I told him
that’s not possible. He gave me a sheet of paper that had something in
Marathi written on it, and he said it was 400 rupees and nothing less.
I asked him to wait, and went into the building and brought out the
security guard and asked him to ask the driver where we had boarded,
The driver told him that we had boarded at the station. I then took
out my phone and showed him the picture I took at the station and
asked him what it read; the driver was stunned at this instance. He
must have felt like the worst rate of cheat at that moment, he
immediately said “No charge” and began to leave with his head held
low.
I asked him to wait, sought the help of the watchman and found out
that we owed him 160 Rupees, and gave him exactly that, and told him
that we were thankful. He smiled, and left. Then I told him, “Mujhe
idhar laanay keyleye.. dhanyavaadh”, The words that I learned only the
previous week when I had to be in Delhi for my interview at the DSE.
The man smiled, and asked, “Madarasi?”, and I replied, “Nahi, Indian”.
He left with a smile that morning.

After that, I met a girl who wanted to start a school in the village
where her grandparents lived so that she could create a new life for
many many kids. I met a guy who wanted to sell mud pots on the
internet because he met with a potter in a village in rural
Maharashtra, and another girl who wanted to take up environmental
sciences and help save the environment. The day only kept getting
better, and my sister sure did have an awesome story to tell the
people who interviewed her. I’m still in touch with the people I met
there, some of them have become my dearest friends and most trusted
confidants. Well, that is how life is, we make differences in many
lives every day that we live, we just have to make sure there is a
hint of positivity in our actions.

Thank you for reading my letter,

Yours sincerely,

Karthikeyan Balakumar

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