‘I had spent four years in dingy rooms of coach­ing in­sti­tutes’

Tehelka - - BOOKS -

“WIN­NERS DON’T do dif­fer­ent things, they do things dif­fer­ently.” I blinked my bleary eyes at the speaker, who had been a men­tor to many suc­cess­ful can­di­dates of the Union Pub­lic Ser­vices Com­mis­sion ( UPSC) ex­am­i­na­tion. As he rat­tled off clichés from Shiv Khera’s book, I won­dered how to im­ple­ment the al­ready bur­dened life with virtues of pa­tience, per­se­ver­ance, and de­ter­mi­na­tion. A blow of hot air landed on my neck. The per­son be­hind me had ex­haled deeply, ac­knowl­edg­ing the mag­ni­tude of the quote.

The hall re­sem­bled a stuffed cat­tle shed, with 150 students jostling for space on creaky plas­tic chairs. The air con­di­tioner was out­com­peted by the de­ter­mined fire­breaths of as­pi­rants who dreamt of be­com­ing the “steel­frame” of the coun­try. I told my­self I would not let these sub-hu­man con­di­tions snuff out my am­bi­tion of be­com­ing an IAS of­fi­cer. Af­ter all, Lal Ba­hadur Shas­tri swam two miles to at­tend school, Dr Ra­jen­dra Prasad stud­ied un­der street-lamps and Madam Curie had fainted of hunger

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