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Pune/ India, Irvine/ CA, now Boulder/ CO
Welcome to my blog! I'm Hrishi from Pune, India. I am an earth system scientist currently working as a postdoctoral research associate at Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research at CU-Boulder. Here I mostly write (though not as frequently as I hope to) about my travels, landscape photography, scientific computing, book and film reviews, fitness, cooking, and science communication. Feel free to navigate based on the labels below. My website: hrishikeshac.wix.com/hchandan

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Leaving home

I am finally overcoming the procrastination to update this blog. My last entry was, embarrassingly, more than a year ago. Still, I find some solace in stating that this was the most eventful year of my life. For, I left home. Not my just my locality Kothrud, or my city Pune, or even my State Maharashtra, but India!

In December 2009, I was quite happy doing my job as an Environmental Analyst in an architectural firm working on sustainable buildings. Then suddenly one Sunday, it struck me. My entire life flashed before my eyes, mostly the critical decisions that I took and the resulting directions my life had taken. I wondered how my life would have turned up if I were to take different decisions. Surprisingly, I found that the academic decisions that I took were pretty good, and I would still prefer to take the same decisions if I were to go back. Also, the firm where I was working had taught me a lot of practical things which academia could never have. So looking back, I was satisfied. However, looking ahead, I wasn't. Five years down the lane I couldn't imagine myself working in the private sector. I couldn't imagine working 'for someone', advertize for him, sell for him, no matter how good he is. For, I've always worked for a concept, an idea. And so it struck me- I've always been very happy doing science, and research. It hit me so hard that the idea obsessed me, and grew so rapidly (ala Inception) that the very next morning I made a plan, of pursuing a career in research. So the next obvious step was to get a PhD. For serious research, a PhD is but a prerequisite- just a gateway I believe. But PhD in what? I had several options, as I have had a diverse background. Most logical would be in sustainable buildings. Over the year, I had gained enough on site knowledge that developers used to be shocked that to hear I wasn't an Architect.  However, it is pure, natural sciences that I was always inclined towards. Also, inadvertently, I have been always fascinated by water. I've always considered it as, err, my element. It was the link that followed me throughout my education, and research. So there I decided to do a PhD in hydrology.

Next obvious question was "where". Thankfully, my beloved University of Pune answered that question by not qualifying me in their entrance test. The test was a simple one, even a school kid could have cleared it with some preparation. And the passing was only 50/100. Yet, me and all my classmates, save a few, got 49/100. The less I say about this, the better. So naturally Pune wasn't an option, and I would have to leave my house, my parents. Then, it didn't matter whether I was in Mumbai or Delhi or some other city outside of India. My parents were very supportive of my crazy idea, which is quite rare for their generation. The decision I was making was- leave the job and concentrate on applying to different universities, brush up my skills in the sciences, and learn some important technologies like computing, and remote sensing and GIS. This was not going to work out if I keep my job, for this is a full time commitment. So basically I was asking my dad to cover my sustenance for about one and half years, as well as fund my applications to different universities and the tests required to qualify them, and fund for the expensive remote sensing, computing courses. My dad, agreed, without blinking. I can't emphasize how difficult was it for any one to buy my plan, it was full of loopholes, and most importantly, there was no contingency plan.And I wasn't even making a good efforts to sell my plan to him. Yet my dad, who could pursue only basic education because of family responsibilities, and who has had a generation gap of 42 years between me, agreed. I will never be repay him back for this.
My company's directors were very supportive too. In fact they maintained that I could continue to work with them until the day of my flight or come back to them any time if things don't work out. How many private firms in Pune can say this to their new employees?

Then came the most liberating yet high pressure 1.5 years of my life in which I learnt much more than my entire formal education, applied and got admitted to different universities, trekked the Himalayas and hiked the leeches-filled rainforest in the South, and, on 3rd September 2011, exactly 1 year ago, I left home for Irvine, California, USA.


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