After The Hill: 4 Years Later. #CGGMM

Woodfire Tea MUWCI Sept '08

Dad enters the room, points at this pic and asks “who’s this kid?”

That was me in sept/oct 2008 when I just started at #MUWCI, having tea, made over wood fire, in the village.

How time has passed and how I’ve changed over the last 6 years.


A few days back I went for a UWC(MY) Casual Gathering that turned out to be a great catch up. It was felt really really good to connect again with the UWC Fam. Since I left MUWCI I kept all UWC related items to near zero, barring the few small meet ups with some familiar faces and the 2011 visits.

I isolated myself, a sort of self-imposed exile.

I didn’t go for any send offs, or SSSs or any other related activities since I left MUWCI 4 months before graduation.

That was just over 4 years ago.

Leaving MUWCI, or any UWC for the matter, after grad is hard enough, so imagine having to leave without graduating;

sick, depressed and feeling like a failure.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through and would’ve broken me without the support of certain MUWCI-ites, friends and family.

Could I have done things differently?

Could I have taken care of myself better?

Could I have done it and lasted till the end?

There were so many questions and no answers to be found, so many emotions and nothing that could resolve them, so much disorientation with seemingly nothing to show me where to go.

So instead of dealing with it all, I numbed myself with regards to all things UWC utilising two effective tools; Avoidance and Denial.

An incredibly selfish move, but something I needed to do. It just hurt too much every time I looked back or thought about it.

How frustrating it was (and even today sometimes) that the greatest experience of my life (so far) had become such a powerful and painful depressive trigger.

Even as I write this out now it brings about so many strong emotions and feelings.

It took time, years in fact, to deal with it. I had visitors and did visit a few MUWCI people in the region, which was awesome while it lasted, but became so depressing after the fact. Aside those visits, I really didn’t make any real effort to be a part of the Malaysian UWC Family, let alone the general UWC Community.

Was it because I felt ashamed?

Was it because I was afraid to be seen as a failure?

Was it because i didn’t feel i belonged or deserved to be a part of the ‘family’ having not graduated?

The answer is all three, and more.

It was hard even thinking about the fact that my dreams of continuing to fly high were dashed away, but it hurt even more to watched others, peers and juniors, do it. I was always proud of their achievements and adventures, but it just hurt that I wasn’t part of it or didn’t have my own ones.

With time, readings, thought and writing,especially writing, I came to accept that although this fight with Fibromyalgia may have taken away all those potential experiences, it gave me other experiences and memories along side maturity, growth and strength I never knew I had.

It may not be what I wanted the day I landed in Mumbai 6 years ago, but today I can’t imagine my life going any other way. I can’t imagine not getting up from the hard falls, not growing the way I have, not getting into writing and coffee and especially not learning about the value of health.

In 2009/10 my story took a significant detour off the course I had intended, and though I still get frustrated, envious and even intimidated at times, I still have no regrets about accepting that offer from the Malaysian UWC National Committee in mid-2008.

I did the best with the hand I had and lost. Now whether that loss is for the better or the worse is something only time, and effort, will tell, I’ll just continue to keep playing the best I can with the hands I have;

Getting up from the Falls,

Always Learning,

Always Growing,

Always Moving Forward.

To end, here’s a little excerpt from one of my older pieces, ‘Overall Progress’.

“Progress isn’t a straight line up, it’s the line of best fit based on all the ups and down we’ve faced in our lives. As long as the ‘Life Line’ formed from the line of best fit shows an upward trajectory/trend/pattern, then we’re on a pretty good track; based upon what we place value on in our lives, whether it is based on the state of our health, or careers, or family life.

Yea, mine could be better but as long as I’m not stagnating, then i think i’m doing alright. i’ve just got to keep learning how to minimise the downtimes and maximise the peaks.

We’re all a Work In Progress. We’re all always learning and thus always growing, just at different rates and different ways.”


Keep Moving Forward #KMF

Straight From The Heart

Roshan ‘Arkay’ Kanesan




The Ideal Route isn’t the Only Route


Good afternoon dear readers 🙂

Today’s post is a later then the last 4 Note’s on Life simply because i’ve been feeling rather stuck, cluttered and sluggish since Monday, in fact I’m still not entirely sure what i’m going to write about today…

i’m still quite stuck…

I’ve actually had a pretty decent run over the last 4 weeks, 6 pieces out, 5 of which were pretty good and got a good reception and one that i’m incredibly proud of, one that became my most viewed piece within a 24 hour period and 48 hour period.

So i guess the timing is quite apt for some disruption in my writing life.
I’ve been feeling quite fatigued over the week, but the interesting thing is that for most of it, my mind didn’t feel all that affected, it still felt quite sharp, no Fog (or nothing too big of a concern) set in, which I’m going to take as a sign of Long-Term Progress 🙂 haha However,as for Short-Term progress, I didn’t really do anything productive, my morning protocol fell apart due to my body’s refusal to get up on time and as such there was no daily brainstorm session to work on my writing… oh well, nothing really to fret about, not like this hasn’t happened before.

Ah, i think i’ve got a topic for today…

People get stuck, it happens, to all of us.

But getting stuck isn’t a sign of failure, it’s just part and parcel of the journey. Sometimes as a signal that we need a break and sometimes to signal to us that maybe the route we’re currently using isn’t right or suitable or enough.

Essentially, it’s quite relatable to last weeks post, it’s about not losing faith in our capability to be able to achieve what we want. There is more than one way to get to where each of us want to go, some may take you a little longer and some may be a little more difficult.

Just because the ideal way is blocked off doesn’t mean it’s game over, it’s really about how much we want it and what we are willing to do, about whether we’re looking at the Short Term or the Long Term, about how much it’s worth to us.

In this area i draw some inspiration from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the duo went from Seatle to International without a Label, that’s really quite a feat.

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. The great were great cause the paint a lot” – Macklemore – Song: Ten Thousand Hours

Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, it isn’t a battle but a war.

We’ve got to remember that the Ideal Route isn’t the Only Route.

On that note, i’m going to talk a little about myself.

My journey over the last few years has been quite an interesting one. Done with SPM (Grade 10 Government Exams, O-Levels) at the end of 2007, i spent the next 9 months on break awaiting the next part of my life, MUWCI – the Mahindra United World College of India. I was supposed to complete the 24 month IB Diploma Program but instead only spent 18 months there, with plenty of days at the Medical Centre with 4 trips home in 2009 where the norm would have been 2; trip 1 for a ENT surgery for a blockage we thought was the reason for my bad sleep and fatigue, trip 2 for summer, trip 3 was when my parents had enough of the idiocity of the MUWCI doctor and brought me home to get our good old Malaysian doctors to hunt down the culprit of my health problems, and they found it, Mycoplasma Pneumonia, and trip 4 for Winter break, the trip home in which i was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and the decision was made by my parents, doctors and, eventually, I to leave MUWCI. I went back to MUWCI for a month, celebrated my 19th Birthday there and left a few days later. Resting at home till June, i joined Taylor’s Canadian Pre-University Program (CPU) and graduated a year later, not without many health hurdles (it was after my first semester, February 2011, when i was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia) which i managed to get through thanks to great support of the staff, admin and teachers at CPU. They were incredibly understanding of my condition. After CPU I finally went to university, I joined Monash University Sunway Campus and had a relatively good semester there and did really well in my finals, but it was after my finals that it all wet to hell. I decided to join summer school to occupy myself, but during the month after my finals i got more tired and more clouded, i didn’t understand what was happening in class and after a while i knew i couldn’t finish it, it was just a huge mess. I wanted to withdraw but i couldn’t do so without failing the subject… It was a very stressful, tiring and depressing time, this was the period of time that i referred to in last weeks post, when i thought about Giving Up. With some good advice from the course office i deferred my summer school examination, took an intermission from Monash and filled an appeal with regards to my Summer School unit, which Monash eventually gave me. They gave me the Withdrawn Incomplete i wanted and told me i could take the unit fresh, which i’m doing now. It was this time when i went from depression to writing to my eventual revival of spirit. I think it was April 2012 when i really started writing. I got back to studying at Monash for Semester 2, 2012 enrolled in 2 units and passed on unit and got a Distinction in the other. And now, this semester, officially my 3rd semester, i’m enrolled in 3 units and things are going relatively smoothly.

Those were my routes from 2008 to now, anything but Ideal and for from the worst routes either. I learnt a lot and i suffered a lot, but importantly, I gained substantial insight into myself. I’m now more clear about what i really want. I’m now more focused on writing now, dropping Accounting as a major and going with Finance and Marketing and am going to look for a more writing based internship for my year end break.

Like i said, my routes have been anything but ideal. 🙂 and i’m not the only one who personally knows that.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.
Try again. Fail again. Fail better” – Samuel Beckett

One more thing: When the ideal route isn’t available to us, we must first analyse the situation, look for as many alternatives and then, most importantly, attempt to calculate the Opportunity Cost, not just in monetary terms, but in overall terms, and then decide what to do. Don’t jump the gun and use the first alternative route found. Yes we must be Persistent and Determined, but we’ve also got to be Patient.

Another thing: Not everything is worth our time. Focus on what matters and Fight for that. We’ve got to know what were fighting for if we want to win, because if we don’t know what we’re fighting for, then why are we fighting?

Anyway, i hope that my writing was relatively clear, I know this is far from my best and I apologise. I contemplated not writing something today after recent standards, but that’s not how i work. My writing is also a reflection of what it’s like to be human. That there is no Perfection, and that we can’t always perform at our Peak or at Excellence. I don’t want to show you only my best sides, because my best sides aren’t me, they aren’t the whole story; and i really don’t like one sided tales. This piece is far from my best, but it’s part of my journey and a part of my development.

Straight From The Heart