Pushing the limits of Unconventionality

May 12, 2008


Much like the Grandes Ecoles in France, the Indian Institute of Technology is as hard to get in considering the sheer numbers that write the examination and the percentage of them that do get the admission. Alok, like any other upper middle class family in India, always wanted to get into one of them. They don’t teach education in India – they preach. Grades are not a reflection of the amount of work put in by him, but rather a reflection of the extra effort put in by the cousin or neighbor who managed to score 0.5% marks more than him.  Of course, there are hundreds of other engineering colleges to get into for the lesser intellectual. But Alok was determined not to be one of them. He still remembers all the work that was put in for the preparations, and more importantly, all the time he lost which would otherwise have been spent happily playing cricket or some other games with his friends. His tenure at IIT was better. He was able to indulge in occasional movies and some indoor games. But peer pressure kept him busy with course material for most of the time. At the end of the course, though he was having a couple of offers, he decided to start his own company. He wanted to become an entrepreneur.


“Wasn’t that a big risk?”


“Well no. If you look at it from my perspective, it was not at all a big risk. I have already lost a quarter of my life, to achieve what ever I have achieved till now. I have been fulfilling the dreams of my parents, teachers and relatives. Its time I take control of my life and fulfill my dreams”




The Black Mamba is the deadliest snake in Africa. They can grow upto four meters and once bitten, even a small giraffe could die in minutes. They are extremely venomous. They could move at speeds of 25 Km/h which makes them the fastest moving snake in Africa. Jack was always fascinated by these snakes. All he needed to catch one of them was a long rod with a small holder which could squeeze the neck of the snake, thereby making it impossible to lounge forward and make that deadly strike. There was two occasions when he came very close to death. Once when a four meter fully grown Black Mamba was able to escape the catching rod and came right in front of his face directly staring at his eyes. Jack didn’t flinch a bit. Even if he had made a small quick movement, he would have died for sure. After a few agonizing seconds, the snake went off on its way. The second occasion, a snake did bite him when he accidentally let off his hold on its neck. He was totally paralyzed for a week and put on partial life support systems. He was able to listen to others and also see but could not move a bit. Finally his own anti venom (which he helped prepare by extracting the venom from these snakes) saved him after a long battle because about 10% of people are allergic to the anti venom, and he was one of them. But nevertheless, he has caught a lot of these snakes, took a lot of pictures of them, made documentaries, extracted their venom to make anti venom and saved a lot of lives and made a rather successful career out of it. A successful career, I said.


“Wasn’t that a big risk?”


“Well no. Not if you can understand the nature of these snakes. They would strike only in defense and only when they are cornered or feel threatened. But otherwise they exhibit a remarkable level of tolerance towards humans, sometimes even in captivity. They don’t strike unless you agitate them. Otherwise how could I stay with a couple of Black Mambas in a closed room for hours together, when we were raising funds for a wild life project? If they were so deadly, they would have certainly killed me”



Destination Infinity.


PS: The second story about the Black Mamba is a real life story.


  1. I have decided to pursue maths…sorta unconv. here in India.. so I face a lot of weird questions and comments from all quarters… thanks a lot…nice post

  2. really nice stories 🙂 you know what i hate the education system here..as you said they preach…and when it comes to preaching i think i have a choice there…the second story really talks about our need from knowledge…for that he needed to give up fear…i think the only reason few people are afraid of things is because of the inertia caused by not understanding the changes…

  3. @Nishant: Mathematics is one of the purest disipline you could specialize in… there is more demand for a specialist than just another software engineer… I personally think it is a good decision.

    @Vishesh: “Inertia caused by not understanding the changes” was an apt explanation, Thanks.

    Destination Infinity.

  4. Good post!

    I have met a guy who loves snakes, like Jack. He is doing a fantastic job of extracting snake venom and giving it to laboratories to use it in the preparation of anti-venom. He told me that snakes are not deadly at all, but humans are!

  5. Hi Raj, I saw this documentary on Discovery Channel on Black Mamba. The story is from South Africa. Glad to know about your experience here. I couldnt agree more on the persons judgement.

    Destination Infinity.

  6. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Bilk!!

  7. Thanks Bilk. In my place, the kind of job some one does is important. So is salary earned. But more important is the salary and job that the cousins are into, the neibhours are into, friends are into etc. Sometimes people get struk up in good paying mundane jobs just to maintain status quo. But they miss a lot more than money by doing that. Thats what I wanted to say.

    Destination Infinity.

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