Career

2018 is almost over and it was an unbelievable year! It took me through a myriad of situations, experiences and emotions and I can barely believe that I was able to get through.

My daughter was born in the beginning of the year and it was an amazing experience being a parent for the first time, in spite of being clueless about bringing a baby up. Holding the tiny bundle of joy in my hands for the first time and the days gone by seeing her grow up very fast, have all been surreal.

Just a week after the birth, while I was on paternity leave, I was laid off along with hundreds of others in a workforce reduction and the division I was working for, was wiped out from Bangalore without a trace. It came out of the blue and though there were attempts by the local management to re-hire and re-purpose at least some of those affected, it was too little too late. It was an unbelievable shock and it took everyone affected, a long time to recover.

I had injured my shoulder while playing badminton towards the end of 2017 and was advised a surgery to fix it. I had planned to get it done during my paternity leave and was in tatters due to the layoff.

I applied for some jobs via referrals of friends and acquaintances and got a couple of job offers. But there were some issues to consider before I could accept any of them – daily commute to office being one of the major factors. I received a job opportunity from my previous company to work for a different team and given my circumstances, I chose to accept it and joined in a new role soon after.

I was a part of a new team with everyone else in the team including my manager working in remote locations, with a couple of interns/new joinees expected to join me a few months later. The work was in a totally different domain and I was never able to mingle with the folks and the work environment didn’t feel the same.

I took a fortnight off and had my shoulder surgery which was a minor procedure. It was a very traumatic experience because of the poor care provided at the hospital in spite of me repeatedly warning them about it. I was advised to do physiotherapy for 2 months to regain full movement of my right shoulder and that didn’t go well after a while – the hospital was too far from my home and the hospital refused to provide on-site physiotherapy after a while. Later, the hospital had some issues at the management level and almost all the doctors including the one I was consulting, quit the hospital and moved to a different hospital which was even farther. ūü§∑‚Äć‚ôāÔłŹ

I read the monthly ‘Ask HN: Who’s hiring?’ posts on Hacker News regularly and came across a job posting for an interesting remote job as a senior open source developer. Just out of curiosity, I applied for it and though I never expected to get a response, I got one in a fortnight’s time. I had an interview with the company’s CEO and I was given a job offer soon after.

The next couple of weeks when I had to think about the job offer and make a decision were tough. Though I was laid off and re-hired immediately after, I was in a very comfortable and familiar job with a lot of employment benefits. On the other hand, I would have to work on an hourly basis as a self-employed contractor in the new job and without any employment benefits like paid leave, medical/life insurance etc. But it would allow me to permanently work from home, spend time with my daughter and also avoid the headache of daily commute in the mad Bangalore traffic.

I bought a used car (a silver grey Hyundai i20, 2009 model) to gain more driving experience after my driving classes in the previous year and also to be able to drive my family when required. I had vowed to never buy a car since, imho, I would be inconveniencing myself and everyone else on the road given the Bangalore. But the incessant pressure from my wife made me cave in.

During this time, a close relative who was ill for the past few months passed away. He was a fatherly figure to me and I was very close to him right from my childhood, having been brought up in a joint family he was a part of. It was an unbearable loss that shook the whole family and I was no exception.

All the chaos in the first half of the year till that point made me decide to continue with the status quo and continue in my current job. But a last-minute call with my colleague, friend and a mentor changed my mind and I ended up writing my resignation letter instead of an email rejecting the job offer.

I joined the new job in the second half of the year. Though the work and pay were very good, there was a two-month trial period which made me very nervous till I successfully completed it.

My wife went back to work after her maternity leave and though there was support from my in-laws to take care of our daughter, it was always going to be temporary given their preferences and way of life. Given, my parents continued to keep away from us, thanks to my father still being mad about my marriage (even the sight of my daughter didn’t change that), we had to take whatever help was offered under any condition.

I took my wife, daughter and a cousin on a long drive towards the end of the year in my car and it was an amazing (but tiring) experience and helped me get more comfortable with my car (My wife is still fighting with it ūüėú) I also bought myself a new laptop, but haven’t set it up fully for work yet.

This month, we did our daughter’s first hair shaving and ear piercing ceremony and it was heartbreaking to see her cry continuously and be very cranky for many days after the ceremony, thanks to her fever and a bout of common cold.

Next year is going to be very challenging as she grows up. She is already very active and naughty and things are only going to get worse ūüėČ My wife’s office is not willing to support her to take care of our daughter any more and with my in-laws planning to go back some time in the middle of the next year, it is just going to be the three of us and one heck of a journey. ūü§ěūüŹľ

Here’s to an awesome 2019!

A lot of words have been exchanged in the media recently regarding the quality of the students passing out of IITs which are deemed to be the premier engineering institutions in our country. At least 5 lakh engineers graduate every year in India and the number contributed by IITs to that is negligible. What makes it even more irrelevant is the fact that a lot of IITians go abroad for further education and career prospects. The problem is representative of the absurd education culture that has gained a strong hold in India.

Teachers do not always need to teach, evaluate or discipline their students. Most of the times, just providing the inspiration and nudging them in the right direction will do. If we try to find out why our teachers are unable to do that, it does reveal a lot of interesting things.

Engineering and Medicine are head and shoulders above the rest of educational streams in terms of capturing¬†the imagination of¬†the students and their parents. Every Tom, Dick and Harry wants his child to become an Engineer or a doctor. The fact that most IT companies hire engineers and pay them obscene amounts of money to¬†do the quantity¬†of work that would pay much less in other fields, has fueled this imbalance. As a result, most of the brilliant young minds are lost to the engineering stream and disproportionately lot of them become the¬†clich√©d¬†‘Indian Software Engineer’. In most of the developed countries, only such brilliant young minds pursue higher studies and research and enter the teaching field. But in India, few of the people who missed the engineering and medicine bus pursue the teaching profession for their livelihood. Is it fair to expect such people¬†to be¬†experts in their subject and at the same time have the skills needed to impart the knowledge and inspire the students? This starts an endless chain of mediocrity feeding on mediocrity that only a few students who¬†are gifted¬†or passionate enough to work hard and break-free of the limitations of the system, stand out and succeed.

Students¬†are taught¬†and encouraged to reproduce the text on the books, even though most books condemn verbatim unauthorized reproduction of the text with criminal implications. ūüėČ We should encourage people to learn and apply whatever they have learnt. Why should there be a system to rate and grade students if every student is good at different things? To change this anomaly, the thinking of people should change. Someone has to break the vicious cycle. Any stream of education and employment is as good as any other. The monetary benefits¬†may be¬†disparate, but so are the domains. Once the general opinion changes, there will be changes in the salaries too.

As too much undue importance is placed on engineering and medicine, IITs, NITs and IIMs, too many people want to get in and as a result some sort of mechanism is needed to pick the bright minds to get in. The industry of coaching centers has been built on this. The competition becomes even more cut-throat with reservation creeping in. My belief on reservation is that if there are downtrodden people, measures must be taken to uplift them by providing excellent education that will enable children from such families to reach high ambitions. Instead, politicians are hell-bent on providing reservation to such people to gain political mileage. In reality, reservation is enjoyed by the wrong people and the downtrodden do not get any benefit out of it and remain downtrodden for further political exploitation.

Once the measures to uplift the downtrodden at the¬†grass-root¬†level of education is in place, we should do away with reservation elsewhere and let merit prevail. As more people get good education, the undue craze on particular streams will vanish and there will definitely be a sense of equality. I have seen students panic when questions in the exam paper are of the same format of those in the books but with the variable names changed. Doesn’t that defeat¬†the¬†purpose of education?

Computer Science is essentially a mathematical science, but how many computer science students are well-versed with the mathematical background that¬†is required? A lot of such students become lecturers who in turn teach the students whatever is present in the prescribed books without ever touching upon the required background knowledge. As a result most of the¬†modern-day¬†engineering students hardly know mathematics that computer science¬†is built¬†upon. Whatever they have learned solely for the purpose getting a job starts and ends with the periphery of the¬†subject. Worsening things is¬†the fact that¬†the students choose to skip a lot of the subject as the exam system allows them to do so. They don’t realize that skipping things doesn’t help learning at all. If we learn things, however small and trivial, properly and fully, the benefits of that will automatically follow. But most students are either not interested in putting the required effort to learn or too lazy and are solely focused on the benefits. This is how we have easily arrived at such a pathetic state. I am not carrying a holier than thou attitude here as even I am a product of the very same flawed system that I want¬†to be¬†overhauled. The fact that a lot of students survive the system and still make it big in their lives shouldn’t be¬†an excuse to persist with the same system. Already there is very little research and innovation happening in India and we are so happy and content to ape and idolize whatever happens in the developed countries and stay unmoved. If this continues, we may lose forever a lot of great young minds who could make a huge difference to our country and¬†humanity.

I do not claim that my thoughts and ideas are foolproof and will withstand the test of time, but I rest my case that the current education system is flawed and it requires a big overhaul along with the general thought pattern of people.

On July 13, 2011, I completed my first year as a professional in the software industry. Whoa! the time is running very fast. It still feels like I joined my job straight out of college very recently, lo and behold, a year has passed. It has been a journey to savour. Learning new stuff, fixing bugs, writing code, doing analysis and design, attending meetings, sending reports, doing smoke tests, managing the hardware inventory, interacting with a lot of people – it has been an exciting and enjoyable challenge. I have been given immense freedom at office and I am really happy and grateful for that. :-). Looking ahead for many more wonderful years at work.

I’m at Bangalore now and in a couple of days’ time, will be joining my job here. For now I’m staying at a relative’s place, but soon will move to a place near to my office with my friends and face life on my own. My employer has been kind enough to provide guest house accommodation for a week’s time within which i’ll find a place to stay. I’m slightly unprepared for the life ahead, but still with a bit of focus, should do good. There are going to be a lot of new things that’re going to enter my life in place of loved, familiar ones and I’ll need some time for my mental conditioning. Otherwise I’m all excited about the job and the challenges it holds for me. I’m going to be in full control of my life from now and I realize that it is indeed a great responsibility. Kannada being my mother tongue will make me feel slightly better and help me acclimatize easily. I’m so grateful to those who have made my life wonderful so far and with all prayers and good hope, i think i’ll make even better from now on.:-)