I would like to begin my story by saying that I was a hardcore last bencher in high school. Studies – or reading books, for that matter – were the last thing on my mind, and I was invariably busy thinking of having fun. One fine day, when I was the only one to attend school among all my friends, I just happened to pick up a physics book as that was the only subject I had some interest in. Whilst reading a non-curriculum book may not seem like a big deal to most readers, it sure was some news for a student who read just for the sake of passing his exams.

Reading that book, however, threw light on some interesting concepts and enhanced my understanding of some interrelated notions. That brief reading experience made me understand the dire state of the great Indian education system. The way that book meticulously explained every minute detail was in stark contrast to the rote learning methods rampant in our schools and colleges, which, in turn, lead to boredom and even depression. The end product are students that look at books as the means to an end – the exams.

Rohit Samanta thoroughly enjoyed reading Einstein's 'The Theory of Relativity'

From that day, I decided to start reading to learn, and not to pass some stupid exams. I started with Stephen Hawking’s The Theory of Everything. I must say – it was quite a refreshing experience; it enriched my understanding of cosmology, black holes, white holes, spacetime and how Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity failed to describe a black hole. The latter was quite confusing and needed a lot of research and reading, which I obviously wasn’t accustomed to.

Curious about the collapse of Einstein’s theory, I ordered another book on Einstein’s theory of relativity. Then, I went on to read another book titled The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard P. Feynman. This book was the game-changer as far as my perspective on things was concerned; it answered some questions about the most common events in our lives, such as what is fire, how do rubber bands stretch and retract, why do magnets attract or repel, and so on. However, more than physics, this book taught me how to think, and that’s what changed my life. It goes without saying that once my understanding of different theories improved, so did my academic performance – I’m currently pursuing a degree in engineering.

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