Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mathematics and I

I have had a long standing battle with mathematics. Sometimes I think a great part of where I am today is shaped by my dislike towards the subject. I sit here today and laugh at all the attempts I have made to avoid it like the plague and how it has hounded me all my life.

A below average student in my early years, neither mathematics nor any other subject for that matter evoked such strong emotions in me. I was what you would call a free spirit not tied down by the little things such as studies. I would ignore all the subjects equally and there was no deep seated hate for any one subject. I hated them all without preference.

Then eighth grade happened. I was never the competitive kind myself but in the eighth grade it was thrust upon me. I was trying to continue my indifference to education but it was not to be. For some reason without my even attempting anything in that direction I came to be in the top ten of the class. Suddenly there were adulations and everyone including my parents was calling it a miraculous turnaround. Now since all this came my way without even working for it I decided that I was not willing to let it go that easy. That started off my walk into the world of competitive education. Soon I was scoring good grades and everything was working out except for mathematics. That was one subject that just would not move out of my nightmares. I looked at math as the primary enemy that stood between me and ultimate greatness.

Then I stood at the crossroads. I was to choose my college education and without a bit of hesitation I decided to do medicine. It wasn't for the love of the profession or even the attraction of the money but simply my deep rooted hate for math that directed me towards it. But that was not to be. I ended up doing engineering and even though I made a weak attempt at avoiding math by going for computer science, the education board made sure that I had my full 16 years course of high grade vitamin math.

You would think it would end there. Not so. I had to go major in simulation for my masters and there was even more math (worse: statistics) there to deal with. Today I sit in front of my computer and wonder about the past and I cannot but smile at my failed attempts at avoiding my biggest foe. All the formulas in my code stare back at me and smile. It’s the smile of a predator at the vanquished prey. How far I am from my doctors coat and the stethoscope.

Tom Cruise stole the words right out of my mouth in "The Samurai":

"I am beset by the ironies of my life."

3 comments:

sukracharya said...

Frank, please tell us whhy you ended up in engg and not medicine? is it because of a hopeless rank in medicine entrance? also the name of the tom cruise movie is 'the last samurai'... and yeah, it had some great lines... btw, i never knew you were a below average student at one point of time... i always thought u were a top ranker, atleast you made us believe so in our masters at ODU, with all that geeky talk about simulations...

Frank said...

Your curiosity is flattering. Yes, I did land up in engg. because of my inability to get through my medical entrance exams.

I will leave the name of the movie as is so that your comment will continue to make sense :-)

As for your assumption about me being a good student... that my friend in completely your perception.

SM said...

The lessons I learnt :

a) The more you run away from your fears, the more they chase after you


b) Sometimes, on looking back the problems you feared the most seem not so big after all?