Ours was the most educated family in the area, my father a government officer and my uncle a doctor. Like any other middle class family of those days, in spite of moderate incomes, we were raised lavishly.
However we kids were a protected bunch. We were not allowed to go outside and play with other kids, lest we might pick bad habits from them. My grand-ma was very particular about hygiene and sanitation - and outside our house there was total lack of it. Thus we spent our childhood playing in the confines of our house, or in the school. Our family was devoted to the cause of giving good education to us. Total focus on the education was the mantra of life. While we were confident kids, yet, given that we were shielded from the harsh outside world was evident in our outlook towards the world.
I always wanted to be a Computer Engineer. And when the time came for me to choose a college at the time of counseling, it was no wonder that I chose the engineering college in my hometown. I had read stories about severe ragging in engineering colleges and being raised in a protected environment, I was really scared. On top of it, I found comfort in staying in the same city & going to college while continuing staying with family.
With that decision, I lost a fantastic chance of facing the world on my own.
My engineering education was uneventful and while I did become an engineer, I was not yet ready for the world. Since that was the time of recession, there was no campus selection for majority of us. Preparing for masters was the next natural course of action. This was the time when IIITs - the new-gen institutions focused on IT education were making their debut. There was one in my city also! I applied for 2 of them - first one being the one in my city of-course, and other one in Bangalore. No particular reason for that, just on a hunch. I got selected in both eventually - and even topped in the entrance exam for the one in my hometown!
And thus came the second tipping point for me in my life.
I can say it was a tough decision. Having spent major portion of my young life - 22 years to be precise - in the comfort of home and family - the thought of leaving all that behind and moving to a remote city in south of India where it takes 36 hours to reach by train was a scary and unimaginable one. I had friends in my hometown. I knew the landscape and everything about Gwalior well. The college - IIITM Gwalior was a reputed one - the director of that institute was one my friend's father!
On the other hand, the furthest I had gone south from Gwalior was Bhopal! Bangalore felt as if it was in another country! Reaching Bangalore was a tiresome train journey as air-travel was prohibitively costly for our means. And IIIT-B had hefty fee.
Yet, I chose Bangalore and joined IIIT-B.
I thought I would enjoy those days of freedom where there is no-one to check on me. But it was not easy. I was homesick. Just few months and I was ready to leave all that and come back and something else back in town in the comforts of my home. But I did not give up. I took up the challenge of finally rising up to be man I had to be. As time flew, and I made new friends, things became easier. I got into a good internship, a job through campus. I volunteered for Spic Macay at college and edited college magazine.
That fateful decision has come to define me. This became the fulcrum of my life. I have not turned back. I learned how to fight your inner demons and the devil which tells to take the easy path, to give up. I sometimes wonder if I had not made the decision, how my life would have been. But - no - I do not want to go back and change that, for I believe that endeavor I put in starting afresh has been one of the best things I have done for myself. These small battles have taught me that is worth every while to take the road less traveled and #StartANewLife.