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Back in school, we had these “extra curricular activity” sessions. Some of them, we could opt for during school hours and the others were available after-school hours.

Instead of taking “arts and craft” like everyone else (so that they could just sit on their ass), I opted for playing musical instruments and that too percussion music because I just thought they would be more interesting. For the next 7 years, I played with the school orchestra, in morning prayers, in inter-school competitions and wherever the school orchestra was pulled in to play.

I learned how to deal with 10 – 12 different instruments including Indian classical and western pieces. I can confidently say that I was pretty good at it. Even today, I can play most of those instruments if I can get my hands on one. I just love it.

That was during school hours activity, which was free.

The activities after school hours included –

* Computers (I could not get through the aptitude test, so no go)
* Scouts / NCC (The wear-the-blue-half-pants-and-scarf Scouts was interesting for a year, then got boring)
* Aero Modelling (Rs 300/month were expensive but dad tried for a month or two and then we gave up)
* Ham Radio (Again, expensive and needed an aptitude test and all)

Exposure to these activities just blew my mind. Unable to pursue them, I used to hunt for cheap hobby electronics circuits to build. Learnt how to solder electronic components on general PCBs and made several projects at home.

We had a 20 year old Philips “hifi” radio tuner + amp + record player with two speakers. I spent loads of hours trying to tune-in distant AM radio stations from the UK and other countries. I used to look at pictures in the Yagi antennae design books in school and failing to understand the theory, used to try and build at least the antennae at home using aluminum clothes hangers and then mounted them high on the roof using wood sticks. Those did not work too well for radio stations but I found out it worked very well for stealing cable television signals from the splitter on our neighbor’s roof. So the ham radio thing never worked for me and most of the time I had my school exams to worry about getting through. 🙂

Fast forward 15 years, here I am with a fresh Private Pilot License. Shortly after I landed in the US, I bought some ham radio books and tried to study but I used to be too worried about the paperwork that would be needed to get anything done in this country.

Two days ago, I decided I had to just DO IT! Went and bought the Ham Radio License Manual and an account on HamTestOnline.com. And here are the results from the first practice tests after barely 24 hours of studies –

Woot! I am going to take the test this saturday. I need to start thinking about what ham call sign I should get. 😀

Why couldn’t I get these kind of grades in school / college. These exams are not rocket science but I have never scored such numbers in my life. 🙂