All three of my previous posts have mentioned one similar thing: UConn. Ninety-nine percent of the people who know me/read this blog know what UConn is. Especially because I talk about UConn in almost every single sentence. But for those who don't, UConn is short for the University of Connecticut. UConn is Connecticut's flagship university located in the middle of nowhere (a.k.a. Storrs, CT). It has the cutest mascot ever, a husky dog named Jonathan. It's also been my home for the last four, going on five, years.
I first decided to attend UConn way back in the fall of 2012. When other high school kids were talking about where they wanted to go and where they might get into, I already knew that UConn was the only school for me. I had decided to study actuarial science and UConn has one of the top actuarial science programs in the country. On of my program heads used to joke that UConn is know for three things: men's basketball, women's basketball and actuarial science. Eventually I moved from actuarial science to math-stats, a change that I wouldn't have come up with if it wasn't for UConn.
Attending UConn also helped me widen my interest in photography. I joined the Daily Campus my sophomore year and met some amazing journalists. Junior year I become involved with the UConn Photo club allowing me to meet some fantastic photographers like Fritz Bacon and Tyler Benton. These and other photographers challenged me to improve my craft and try new things every single day. UConn has made me the photographer I am today and the photographer that I will one day become.
But UConn hasn't been all photography and math though. I've had a blast doing all of those things but they alone don't define my UConn experience. UConn has been a whole mess of good and bad experiences. It's been watching countless sports teams win games. It's been staying up till 2 a.m. getting plastered with friends outside of someone's apartment. It's been freaking out being late to my first meeting of some dumb club.
College is weird. So much happens and we change so much over those four to six years, but we can't tell how much we change unless we actually take a step back and actually look. What happens in college is way too much explain in a simple blog post. It's way to much to explain what UConn has done to make me who I am. So I think the best way to put it is like this, I'm a Husky to the bone. In my core, I'm a Husky and no matter what happens, no matter what changes I'll always be a kid who attended UConn for college.
I like math. Weird right? Especially with all the drama I've had about my major. But I've actually enjoyed certain parts of math. And what I really enjoyed was the problem solving. You could fiddle around with a problem for minutes or hours just like a hand-held puzzle, but none of that time spent felt wasted once you figured out the solution. It was that love for problem solving that I decided to major in actuarial science. Eventually through a lot of trials and tribulation I settled on Math-Stats and eventually I'll get a degree with it.
The things I learned in my math classes, however, have made me the person I am today. I just really like solving problems. I've started to view a lot of things as puzzles. And dealing with the problems as puzzles gives a sense of satisfaction once they are done. It's also made me really appreciate difficult problems. You appreciate the steps and appreciate the final answer.
After all, as a great many philosopher and author has said: what matters is the journey.
Anyone who's ever completed a basic biology course knows that water is essential to life. It's why we are told we need to have eight glasses of eight fluid ounces of water (or any liquid really) per day. And it's why hundreds of thousands of people carry a bottle of water with them wherever they go every single day. In a time where using a refillable water bottle is a smart move, both environmentally and economically, water bottles have become an object of personal expression. Mine is no exception.
The story of my water bottle starts back in September of 2013. It was my first semester at UConn and like many young freshmen I started to stock up on "essential" UConn gear. I spent way too much money on a Nalgene branded blue water bottle with "UCONN" written up one side. It was super clean and super basic (not the good kind either).
The first sticker was put on in March of 2014 on spring break. I've never been one to do the stereotypical spring break and instead went on an alt-break to help a community in West Virginia. On our first day down, we went for a hike at Hawks Nest State Park. I picked up a sticker and slapped it on. And that's where the journey began.
Now you can look at my water bottle and see kind of a patchwork of my journeys across the last few years. And I have a few favorites specifically my Tensor one and my KickIt one.
The Skate Tensor sticker represents my attempted skateboard journey mostly over the course of my junior year. Spoiler alert I never actually became good at skateboarding. I fell........a lot. And I never learned how to do any tricks. And I fell...a lot. Through my attempt to learn skateboarding, however, I met some awesome people. All of which culminated in my video "Genetics: A Skatepark Story."
My other favorite is my KickIt one which I got while in Tanzania. One of the ladies I was working with had started a mobile library program in honor of her late brother. "Kickit" was his graffiti tagline. The mobile library program worked in tandem with the 1Room school program I was a part of and it's founder has become a personal friend. The sticker is symbol of all of the memories and friendships I created on that trip.
My Nalgene is not just a bottle of life, it's a bottle of my life.
"Everyday carry." That phrase means may different things to different people. For me, those words signify the six things that I always have on me when I leave my house for the day. There are of course certain days that are exceptions but, by and large I carry these six things on me every day. Throughout my day I also do a quick check which probably looks like I'm having an episode where I tap my pockets and check my wrists to make sure I have everything. If anything is missing I feel a little off for my entire day.
Wallet: Almost everyone carries their wallet on them all the time. It holds almost all of the things that we need to get through a day. I'm a college student so my wallet holds two of the most important pieces of plastic for anyone attending university. The first is my student ID which provides proof that I'm a student at UConn and\allows me to participate in UConn sponsored events, from sporting events to social events on the quad. It has the added the benefit of allowing me to eat in the dining halls. The other piece of plastic is my drivers license which allows me to party (responsibly, mind you) in the bars and clubs around campus with my fellow students. In a sense, my wallet is my passport to exploring my college world.
iPhone 7: Like my wallet, my iPhone is another kind of passport. Like all people who grew up in the age of the internet (read millennials), I'm fully plugged into all of the popular social media and my phone helps me keep up with everything going on in the world. Through apps like Instagram and Snapchat I can see the world through someone else's lens. Speaking of lenses, the iPhone also makes a great run-gun camera, whether it's capturing breaking news or cool sunsets. They say that the best camera is the one right next to you, and I have to stay that the iPhone is a pretty great camera to have on your hip.
Brass bracelet: At first, second, third and probably fourth glance, this bracelet is pretty simple looking. Its a single piece of round, bent brass with a few notches cut into it and a flat section in the middle. It appears pretty cheaply made and to be honest it cost me no more than 5000 Tanzanian Shillings ($2.24). The bracelet, however, has only come off my right wrist at most five times in the over a year that I've owned it. It is a constant reminder of my trip to Tanzania in the summer of 2016. Traveling to Tanzania to work for a summer is one of the biggest challenges and adventures I have ever been on. The bracelet is a reminder of all of the obstacles my team and I overcame while we were there. If I can succeed there, I can succeed anywhere. Also it's a really cool conversation starter.
Seiko watch: I've been wearing a watch daily since December of 2009 Back then it was a Timex Expedition from Walmart, picked out by my parents. Over the next few years I started to get more and more into my watches. It was a way that my dad and I bonded. In the fall of 2012, I got my first real watch: a Seiko solar powered watch (not the one pictured). My dad and I picked it out as an early Rakhi gift. For the next 1,460 days (4 years), I only took off the watch to shower, swim and sleep. The watch became a literal part of my person. If I left my watch in my dorm, I would go back to get it even if it meant that I would be late to class. Then in August of 2016 I lost my watch somewhere between traveling from Mbeya, Tanzania to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. I was heartbroken. I had been through so many adventures with that watch. When I landed back in the States, one of the first things I did was look for and get a new Seiko solar powered watch. I've experienced a few adventures with this new watch, far fewer that my last one but it I no longer feel alone like I did when I lost my old one.
Keys: Almost everything on that key-ring is a reminder of something I've done or am working towards. The little grey pendent is actually from the National Eagle Scout Association. It's a reminder of the oath I took to serve my family and my country. Its a reminder to live up to the Eagle charge everyday. The bottle opener is a reminder of how the Daily Campus has shaped every part of my life up until now and is shaping everything I want to do in the future. The silver keys let me into my apartment and into my job. If I had graduated on time they probably wouldn't have any meaning. Now they serve as a reminder of everything I messed up to end up here. But they also off a kind of hope of a second chance at remaking my college career.
The Wonder Years hat: You know how sometimes you use something for so long that it begins to feel weird to use anything else? That's how I feel about this hat. The Wonder Years are one of my favorite bands. If you haven't heard of them I highly recommend check them out. I picked up the hat a few years ago at Warped Tour and have worn a lot since then. I've worn it to the point where the grey in some parts is turning brown no matter what kind of cleaning I do to it. It may also be developing a few holes¯\_(ツ)_/¯. If I wear a different hat, or if I wear no hat at all, people will make jokes about not knowing who I am. Like my watch it's just become a part of who I am.
The things that are part of my "everyday carry" have been critical to all sorts of adventures that I have been through. Without them I would not be the person I am today and I wouldn't be able to conquer any future challenges.
Part 2 of Me. will continue on Friday, July 21. In the meantime please comment and share. Cheers and happy shooting
If you've been following me on Instagram you know that tomorrow I launch my summer project titled "Me." I'm sure you have some kind of idea what the project is going to be about. Over the next few weeks I want to show you guys what makes me, me.
Twice a week for the next few weeks I'm going to be posting a 1 x 1 image on my Instagram that shows off a specific part of my life and on the blog I will be including a explanation for why something is included. Every photograph will be in color and only edited for clarity. Nothing will be photo-shopped in. I'll be just like any other journalism project.
I want to limit myself to the 1:1 aspect ratio for two reasons.
(1) It's very challenging. All of my photography for this project will be achieved through my DSLR. With a 1:1 aspect ratio for my final export I'll be forced to think outside (or inside) the box to compose my images. It'll keep me very thoughtful on exactly what is important and what exactly shapes me in life.
(2) 1:1 aspect ration images are really cool looking. There is a reason that Instagram uses it as its default. It also formats on a phone really well. I want to make viewing as easy as possible for all of y'all.
This is a project that I've wanted to do for a long time. I hope you will enjoy me on this journey.
Cheers and happy shooting!
How's it going everyone? Been a long time since I actually operated a blog (almost two years) so we'll have to see how this whole thing goes. If you don't already know I'm on Facebook and Instagram as Amar Batra Photography so you should follow me there to get daily updates on all of my photo projects.
So what is "My Notebook". I'm sure from the name you can infer that it's going to be a blog where I basically talk about things that I like, see, experience, whatever. That inference would be correct but the idea is a bit more more special to me.
For the past year, I've been carrying around this black notebook. It's nothing special, just one of those standard Moleskin ones you pick up a bookstore. For years it sat on my shelf, until I went to Tanzania last summer. I brought it along to try and be like one of those adventurers of old. I mostly used it write down ideas and stay sane. I continued using it when I came back home as a general list-keeper and general "jot-er-downer." I carry it with me every single day.
This place is going to be like my notebook. I want to share my world with you guys and this place will be that way.
Within the next day I'm also going to have a little bit more about how I'm going to be sharing my world with you guys. In the mean time, cheers and happy shooting.