10 yrs is a long time .. long enough for a man to reflect on what happened, how it happened and how he felt about it.
2009 December - I was a recent graduate from IITM, in my first job. I had experienced the joy of earning your own money and was fully enjoying it. The monthly salary seemed good enough for me and I hardly spent about 20% of it. The work was interesting. I was working on fingerprint recognition - which I never thought would become so important with coming of Aadhar.
I never felt as rich as I did in my first job - though I have earned several times what I used to earn at that time. Someone wise must have said something around - Happiness being the difference of what you expect and what you get.
In 2011, got admissions from UCSD and Georgia Tech in their MSCS program - but decided to stay in India, doing MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. While working for 2 yrs as a software engineer, I had realised that its much more interesting to solve business problem - rather than doing things which you are told. Little did I know, that there are other ways to do this. Startups were not a thing then - Flipkart was just starting and we still used to buy books from book shops.
So here I was in WIMWI (Well known Institute of Management in Western India) as folks fondly recall IIMA. The first few days made me think that this was the worst decision of my life - the amount of work was just insane. But slowly, it got better. Everybody there was someone who had excelled in one field or other - and the environment was very intense. The courses were not particularly tough, but you had to put time to understand stuff - and time was the one thing we didn't have. We used to spend 4-5 hrs sleeping and that too seemed a luxury.
We used to joke that dogs at IIMA had much better lives than they students. Rushing to the classes in the morning, we would see dogs peacefully basking in the fresh sun - and we would be so envious of them. But things got better with time.
I got a summer internsip in RBS London at their trading desk. This was at the centre of the City of London - which is the no.2 financial centre in the world after Wall Street. During my first year at IIMA, somehow I had figured that finance would be a good place to try - as it was glamorous and was supposed to involved math. And I always thought I was good at it.
And London was a sweet heart. The moist, cold weather was stark opposite to the dry, hot weather of Ahmedabad. From taking the double decker busses to reach office, yoghurt for breakfast, mexican wrap for lunch to tube back to lodge - all my actions were optimised to save every penny.
It was not that the internship stipend was meagre - in fact it was quite abundant. But, I couldn't make myself spend money after multiplying all prices by 80 (1 GBP was ~80 INR then) - so a 5 GBP coffee would quickly translate in my mind to 400 INR - and it was difficult for me to shell that amout for a mere coffee :)
(This is turning out to be a longer post than I initially thought. Will continue it in the next post)