I got the inspiration for the title (as well as most of the content) of this blog from two people who had written exceptional blogs about themselves – one of whom has become a kind of online acquaintance for me. Those of you who are reading this now; had you read my bio in the ‘About’ section, would know that I am a single 27 year old guy who has Asperger’s Syndrome – a mild form of autism; and also that it affects me only as far as social interactions are concerned, and not my performance on the job; for I have been proven to have above average intelligence. I was diagnosed with this condition three years ago, after a series of psychological tests at a reputed sports and medicine centre in Chennai (recommended to me by my employer in Chennai).
When I was a kid, people knew me to be somewhat ‘different’; including my family and relatives. I was fascinated by trains from the age of two, to such an extent that I would get hyper-excited at the sight of a train – the passion remains now, though the level of excitement has diminished. In fact, I would say it has matured to a hobby of railfanning. I was terrified of firecrackers (even now I am very much averse to them!). I also used to be scared of taking bath in the shower(as opposed to using a bucket), probably due to some unexplainable fear of water – there was an incident in December 1999, when I had gone to the hill station Yelagiri (near Tirupattur) with my family and relatives – we were boating in the lake there, and the boat was shaking a lot (which was probably normal, given there were many people on board). I panicked and kept screaming that we were going to drown!
There were a few more ‘oddities’ (now, looking back, I would say these things were ‘unique’, rather). I rarely made eye contact while speaking with people. I used to be obsessed with the number of pages in the newspapers(not the content though!). I even remember (a few times) arranging bundles of newspapers of the week on my bed, helped by my father! I had an ability to tell which day a particular date in that year would be, but unfortunately lost that ability well before my teens. At one stage(during my 5th standard), I was terribly cricket crazy. A match between India and New Zealand was going on when I left home for school – during the class I kept complaining about not being able to see the match, such that later the principal had to complain to my parents!
My parents took me for various tests (mostly IQ tests), but none of them showed anything unusual; though all proved that there was no issue regarding my intelligence or academic abilities. My academic results (right up to my MBA in HR) have been decent on the whole (except for 7 arrears in my Engineering – all of them cleared – in hindsight I was probably never a technical guy :P), though consistency has been lacking. However, there were quite a few social issues. During my brief pre-school days at Bambino (in Chennai), I felt that I did not fit in that atmosphere. My memory of what happened is hazy, but I felt that the students there were rather snobbish.
Later, when we shifted to Mumbai (just before my 5th std); I got admission in Swami Vivekananda School in Chembur. I was elated, but soon everything went downhill. The students there made fun of me. I thought it was because I was a South Indian, but now I realize it could also have been because I was ‘different’. Moreover, Marathi was a compulsory subject there and so I had to take tuitions in Marathi – which were a fiasco, as the language was like Greek and Latin to me; and also the tuition teacher mocked my abilities. However, Fate had other plans for me. The famous ICSE Lilavatibai Podar School in Santacruz had just started their CBSE school (Ramniranjan Podar School) and were clamouring for students. Also one of their teachers was a friend of my father. So, after just a week; I was rescued from that alien atmosphere and ended up joining this school instead!
During my 5th std, we stayed in Vasant Vihar in Chembur. This place has a huge garden, where I loved going to play imaginary cricket matches with myself (another so-called oddity). Unfortunately, that garden was also the haunt of a gang of bullies (probably sons of filthy rich businessmen) who used to chase me out of the park with sticks. They sometimes beat me as well. Again my memory is hazy, but I am not sure whether I ever hit back. All I remember is that I was often scared of going to the garden because of those bullies, and I felt that they thought the place ‘belonged to them’; and that I was an ‘outsider’. Such bullying is not uncommon, but nevertheless I despise them; and feel that their parents are largely to blame for encouraging such behaviour.
. Later, from my 8th std to 10th std; I studied at Hiranandani Foundation School, Powai. Though my academic results initially suffered drastically due to the shift from CBSE to ICSE, it was on the whole a good experience for me. However, I remember a guy (during an argument, in the 8th std) called me a ‘spastic’. I was obviously very offended at that time, but now I have a different perspective – I felt that guy’s behaviour seemed to be ‘different’, and he was probably projecting his issue on to me. There is a common pattern among these incidents – I was targeted for being ‘different’. It is thanks to the counselling I have been undergoing in Mumbai, that I am able to understand and relate to my past much better than before.
Apologies to all readers – I am not done describing my experiences as an ‘Aspie’ (affectionate short term for people with ‘Asperger’s Syndrome). There will be a part Two as well; IMHO it will be boring if I include everything in one part! 😀 Hope you have found reading this interesting (as well as enlightening) so far! Stay tuned 😉