I know it would be a cliche if I started this post by saying that I can't believe that the year is already coming to an end. At this point I would quote Geet from the movie Jab We Met, "Please Baba ji, ab to hadd paar ho chuki hai. Ab is raat mein aur koi excitement mat dena. Boring bana do ji ab is raat ko, please!"
If I replace the word "raat" with "saal", it comes very close to my story! :)
This is the year I will hopefully remember as the year I quit mainstream research, though reluctantly, for good. When I look back at each of the troubling episodes, I feel that if I had to relive the past, I would willingly go through all of that to reach the present, that is.
The year began at an uncertain note. The tenure of the last job was about to get over and I didn't have an offer from anywhere else. I could extend my tenure by a couple of months, but I was adamant to leave the organization where I had already spent almost 8 years doing my Ph.D. and post-doctoral research. I needed a major change in life. I decided to go back home and spend some time introspecting. I would not say that it was a good idea but it didn't turn out to be that bad. I relaxed, spent time with family, reinvented some of my hobbies, and bonded with long-lost school friends. However, very soon I was done with all the introspection and it was then that I started to panic.What am I doing with my life? What am I going to do? How long can I sit jobless? These were the questions that started to trickle and then explode out of my head.
The next step was sending grant applications to all the possible research agencies within the country. The aim was to get funding and join the only scientist who was interested in working with me; in other words the only scientist who trusted me and motivated me to keep to this field. With a lot many variables in that equation, apart from the mutual trust between us, the job did not materialize.
In parallel to writing grants, I decided to apply for jobs that somehow matched my qualification and experience. Among all the places that I applied for, I got a positive response from the one I was least interested in joining. However, as I went past tests, telephonic and personal interviews, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When I finally came out of the long, winding tunnel, I saw that I was in Mumbai, once again!
This is the second time that I landed up being in Mumbai, when least expected. The first time was when I got selected at this institute for Ph.D. instead of the sister institute in Bangalore. I remember crying when the final results were declared. I was least excited at the thought of relocating to this big city that extends its arms to the maximum number of migrants every year, much to the chagrin of certain people.
I returned to Mumbai just in time for the monsoons. As the showers began and subsided, and slowly gave way to the winter, which is a misnomer if the city you are talking about is Mumbai, I settled in the new job and its responsibilities. It will not be an exaggeration if I say that slowly I fell in love with it. And, I regained that long-lost passion for doing something creative and productive.
Just when I had almost taken over the job responsibilities completely, I learnt that one of the grants that I had submitted 8 months back got accepted for the next round of evaluation. This could be compared to the return of a lover once you are happy and settled in your married life. But thankfully, it wasn't that bad. I was more amused than sad.
This year, I had my first experience of staying as a paying guest (should be called 'pained guest' instead). The stay was discontinued all of a sudden when a fight broke-up between the land-lady and me. The old friends came to my rescue and allowed me to stay with them for 2 weeks before I shifted to my new place. The highlight of those 2 weeks was the travelling to and from work and my temporary abode which was 30 km away. I enjoyed every bit of it.
Finally, I shifted to a place where I don't have to tolerate the idiosyncrasies and intrusiveness of random people. I have a corner all to myself, in this big-big city.
Life has been kind...and good.
The journey is far from getting over. As we enter into the new year, its newness may or may not mean a thing. To me it is just a milestone that demarcates life into smaller chapters, and an attempt to minimize chaos. Isn't that a reason to celebrate?