Thinking Aloud: Kung Fu Pisa

You know how some people appear inhumanly confident? They have this look, that says – “Hmm, I think I’ll go cross the English Channel today. Mount Everest can wait another week”

Well, I’m not one of those people.

But it wasn’t always so. Going back to my school days, achievement was commonly known in an academic sense. So standing first in class mattered to me, and I did it every time till Class 10. It never came as a big surprise to the other students, or anyone else around me. I looked the type. But I always kept my head down, and didn’t exactly soar on cloud nine.

But after that, something changed. Let me cite a couple of instances.

It was Class 10, and I was nearing the dreaded-by-parents boards. I’m in my Maths tuition, and the teacher suddenly says to the guy sitting next to me, “I expect 95+ from you, dear boy. And Kishore, try and score 85.”

“Ma’am, why 85? Why not 95+?”

Awkward silence.

The dear boy scored 80, and I got 95.

There are certain feelings we yearn for, deeply. For me, it has always been the feeling of winning. That pure ecstasy a football player feels when he scores a last minute goal. The moment when Andy Dufresne gets Shawshank Redemption. To feel even an iota of that, means absolutely everything to me.

I slackened a bit afterwards, and it was only six years later this feeling was abated slightly by getting placed.

The sole intention behind chasing MBA was CAT. I knew how unpredictable and challenging it was, and said to myself, this is it. You are my Sistine Chapel. The fix for my addiction.

I’m exactly one year into my MBA, and I still get scandalized looks of shock when people ask my percentile, and I say 99.3 . As if it’s an unearthly event, and the sun rose from the west.

I didn’t even share that on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I was elated beyond measure. But being the introvert I am, I never exactly celebrated the good times grandly.

Further illustrating this is a day from day 1 of my MBA summer placements. I’m sitting next to a friend, lost in thought. She asks, “What companies are you up for today?”

“Umm, I got placed yesterday.”
“What! Where? And why are you sitting like this!?”
I give a noncommittal shrug, and say Axis Bank. Notice the word shrug.

Which brings me to the crux of the matter, finally. Axis Bank gives out 4 best project awards every year, and I happened to finish 2nd among 32 interns. And this happens to be one of the rarest personal achievements I cared enough to share on Facebook.

On the first day back to college, the reactions were mixed. While a tiny fraction whole-heartedly congratulated, most of the other wishes had an undertone of bewilderment. Honestly it was exactly like Kung Fu Panda had been declared the Dragon Warrior. In fact even I responded to a few saying, “I don’t know how I got it.”

There’s no hiding it; this got to me. I respond like that because I don’t know how to look overconfident, arrogant and mightily pleased with myself. I just don’t.

And no victory is ever enough, I’m not exactly alone in feeling like this.

Hit Harder, Agassi’s father used to tell him, all the time. There is no climax. There is just the next crest.

Rio Ferdinand said in his autobiography, that Manchester United culturally isn’t the madly-celebrating kind. During Sir Alex’s reign, he says, the ecstasy of every cup and medal was short-lived. He inculcated this habit in the team too. If today they are champions, tomorrow they will already be plotting the next win.

The greatest Manchester comeback

Deep down, I have always felt the Manchester Red in me. Every success started with a failure, but like Manchester United, like the flowers of spring – I always came back.

Ultimately, now I am left with the epiphany that- not only I will always be a Kung Fu Panda, the quintessential underdog;
I will always be a winner, in my little world.

2 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud: Kung Fu Pisa

  1. I was going to give you free advice until I read the last line. You don't need to be arrogant or overconfident, so long as you know your own worth. Some people announce from the rooftops. Some celebrate in solitude. Neither is more virtuous, or less fun. I fall in both categories, depending on the situation.


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