Assam Chronicles Chapter 1: The Key to Survival

August 18, 2011 § 5 Comments

Relationships are the key to survival. This is the Whole Truth. Rest all is commentary.

Now for the commentary.

Let me take you to a young man’s dreams five years back. The Plan was simple. Finish Engineering (like a decent Science student), do an MBA from a top college (like a good Engineering student with some social skills), and get a decent job. Sounds nice. Goes well with a lot of people.

This is how it went astray : Finished Engineering. (Got in and out of an MBA college, long story, and if you know me, you know it). Then, left job to drop a year for CAT exam. Did not get into MBA. Went to a new city far off to look for a job. Found a job as an Engineer. Left the job again to do MBA. Took another job and gave the CAT exam. Left that job. Taught kids in a village. Finally got into MBA. Got a decent job.

So, 4 places to work (including teaching kids), spanning NGO, local organization, Fortune 13 company. Working in sectors of Education, Telecom, and Finance. Living in 7 cities (3 of them brand new first time visits), and by living I mean spending more than 2 months. Not counting the cities just visited for a few days. And ya, attending classes in 3 educational institutions. And all this in the 5 years after my Engineering studies.

If all this doesn’t make one qualified to talk about survival and managing change in life, living in Assam does. Especially for those who do not belong.

But more on Assam later.

Here are 2 instances on what survival challenges I faced in The Plan which went astray, and how I, well, managed.

Short Story One: Bangalore

So I went there to look for a job in the Software industry, because of the degree in Computer Science and no idea what to do with life at that point in time. It was tough: joining job hunting SMS groups, going on false calls based on rumors, travelling to Hyderabad, Chennai and random locations in Bangalore. Hanging on believing that you will get a job somehow.

But good things happened to help sail through it. Had friends who took care of my food, lodging, books, internet connection, and a lot else. Met a lot of people, got great advice and finally landed a job with Verizon as a Software Developer.

Some of the positive surprises were people in college I rarely talked to, and almost never thought about. And they were out here, helping me get a place to stay, picking me up from the bus stand, getting the right food, all those seemingly little things which become so important when you are in strange lands. Other learnings included that fact that timing and luck can be more important than qualifications. The best people do not get the best jobs.

Tough they were, but I look back on them as good times. Made some great friends, and still laughing with them and learning from them. Life was never boring. I remember only the smiles. Relationships helped me survive, and helped in having a great time despite the difficulties.

Short Story Two: Chennai

This is where I was posted as a Software Developer. Much tougher, sometimes boring, sometimes pure hell. Why because everything was new. Language, people, food, city, company, professional life. No old friends here. And if you scroll above, notice that writing code in Java was never part of The Plan.

Again, good things happened. Met the most interesting people I have ever met. Some very creative, some very rational, some very caring, some very humorous, all very unique, and nice, and fun. Busted the myth that Engineering college friends are the only friends for life (But I guess they do set the reference group for measuring career success).

Also met a lady who had had a great career in the USA and left the place to take care of poor children in Chennai (you rock Akka). Never knew life could be lived this way. Spent great time with the kids.

I hated my job, but these relationships kept me sane and helped me survive. And I literally mean survive also because something they call a break-up happened and then I left the job and went home.

What next?

Well other jobs happened, and IIM Indore happened and Germany happened and I learnt quite a bit, but these two places were where I had faced really tough times in terms of uncertainty. But even they did not prepare me for what I was about to see in Assam. And life in Assam has only begun.

See you soon.


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