Pratap is more or less the most boring friend ever in my life. He is a very good person though, and sometimes you need someone as boring as Pratap. He discourages and demotivates you to such an extent that it is useful for you to know how interesting you are as a person and that you feel that urge to remain interesting.
The first thing you feel about him is the fact that he appears to be someone of your uncle's age group. Too grown up, too matured and too guardian-ish for you. And basically, then you realize that you are still a child who never wants to grow up and he is an old man for you.
He comes into my room and lays down on my bed - "turn on the AC - its too hot yaar.. ok....I'll take some rest and then talk, ok? its so hot out there and I am so tired. and also the bus you know - this office time - they are so crowded and this humidity - its so exhausting.... no no - are you mad ? 18 degrees ? 22 - make it 22.. or else I'll catch a cold." And then he closes his eyes for few minutes.
As usual, I am not a person who lets himself get bored so easily. So I turn on the music - some high school punk rock that doesn't let anyone sleep! Nirvana ! and try to be enthusiastic - "hey buddy ! have you heard smells like teen spirit ? it was once my favorite song !" and Pratap says - "oofff!! what the hell is this ? is this guy crazy or what? why is he shouting ? you call this song ? you know, that is why you are always so restless - you listen to such songs all the time. Don't you have something soothing ? " and he sounds exactly like my Aunt who practices classical.
And then Ma brings in some cold drink and we have some usual conversations. And Ma can always be counted upon - after a word or so she brings in the topic of masters study - and Pratap says so confidently - "You see aunty, I don't think I'll do masters right after my graduation. May be I'll work for a year or so. I think it is wise not to go into masters right after graduation. Because what is the point of learning something which may not be interesting for me ? So I would do some job here in Kolkata - no no - I'll not go anywhere else. Why should I ? The money is more or less same in firms over here compared to Delhi. But Delhi is so costly and there is water problems too. Here I can work from my home, na ? And that would be more comfortable. And also with some industrial experience later on it'll be easier for me to get scholarships in foreign universities."
And later on, when he leaves Ma interprets such conversations in a pretty different manner - " See! See your friend ! How dedicated and decided he is! He has such good aims in life. At least he has some work plan. He is so matured. When will you think about what to do after graduation ? Do you have any aim at all ? You are still playing computer games and chatting on facebook! Facebook wont get you a job, mind it! "
and all arguments I come up with is nothing more than - "I'll do it Ma. I'll do it when I need to."
And then we start discussing architecture. I wonder how any person look at architecture the way Pratap does. He always knows everything about it. And hardly there is any element of surprise that surprises him. Me on the other hand - always surfing dozens of websites for all these crazy forms architects do all around the world - makes me go crazy how they think of such things.
And then he starts lecturing - "look, one thing you need to understand my friend, no matter whatever you do in our design studio, the reality is much different. Forget those Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libenskind - they are good to look at ok ? nothing more . Do you even know their structures ? Do you have any idea at all how big those projects are and billions of dollars are invested there. They are not for us. You know I met this architect last week, he is a friend of my father. He is doing this housing project nearby - didn't you see the advertisement in the papers ? a full page color advertisement. His name was there too. He is getting crores of rupees for such a project. That too from the developer only. And I think he gets incentives from the materials companies as well - yes, my friend yes, the tiling companies pay the architects as well - you didn't know that ? they pay to get such a contract! you know this is business. So I think I'll do some internship in his office from next month. Why don't you join too ? He will like you because you can do so good renderings. My father can talk if you want ... this is the way we should build our networks you know and in some 5-6 years we can build our own firms. And you do such good renderings. Do you do them all in Revit or do you use Max as well ? Can you do night rendering? You know our senior Sugata da ? He earns in lakhs ! can you imagine ? lakhs ! he does such awesome walk through ! I saw his work that day - you should just see his water- like it totally reflects ! I was also thinking about learning Max . they are giving a discount now and the package includes all the software - cad revit max photoshop......"
Some way in the middle I just keep looking at his face. His words some how seem to go by my sides and I can only see his lips moving. Time freezes around me and I feel that I am sitting here in a cosmos of parody. Why did God play this huge cosmic joke with me ? Then his face goes hazy in my eyes and behind him I can see in my shelf a book with a red-white covered paperback binding. I know this book. Its my book. Its what I feel about what I do. Slowly I get up, swimming through the endless futile stream of words coming out from Pratap's mouth. My hand reaches out for that book and Pratap turns and says - "what is it ? " .
" you never heard of this ? " the first time I get to say something. "This should be there in our curriculum from the beginning, but I think they missed it somehow. - Its a famous book - The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I want you to read this if you can. Why don't you give it a try before you join that firm next month ?"