I came to Chennai exactly 3 months ago. When I left Lucknow to set up shop in the coastal city, I did not know what to expect or how life would turn out. The decision to move to Chennai was itself quite sudden…
A chapter of my life closed in April when I took my last law school exam and with Radhika finishing her law school in the same month, we were gearing up to leave for an LL.M. in September this year.
A harrowing four months followed, a phase clouded with uncertainty and double-guessing ourselves. Doors opened and closed just as quickly- while we had secured admission in various colleges in London, Geneva, New York and California, going to these wonderful places to study seemed merely wishful thinking without substantial scholarships in hand.
The month of June brought welcome news when I was awarded the SOAS Masters Scholarship to study at SOAS in London & Radhika was being considered for another scholarship at SOAS. While these scholarships provided a substantial tuition fee waiver, there were living expenses to be considered and London being one of the most expensive cities in the world, this was no trivial concern. I remember how Radhika & I would go for a walk at NBRI every morning, and oscillate between the decision to actually go for an LL.M. this year, or to wait for another year before applying again.
The flip side of going for an LL.M. this year was the uncertainty of not knowing what we would do after the LL.M. Almost everybody we spoke to who had gone for an LL.M. either in the US or the UK, warned us not to count on the LL.M. for getting a job in these countries, nor treat the LL.M. as increasing our job prospects in India.
The decision to not go further raised concerns about what we would do instead. We had been extremely sure in the final year of law school that we wanted to go for an LL.M. immediately after our Bachelors. Our CV and everything we had done in law school was designed towards an academic program, undoubtedly this helped us secure admission in almost all the colleges that we had applied to.
Several weeks later, in July, we finally decided not to go and started exploring alternative options. In August, Radhika & I applied for the position of Research Associates under the MHRD IPR Chair at IIT Madras (a post which was advertised on 1st August). Exactly, one month later, we left for Chennai.
I wish I could say that I was excited to come to Chennai when my appointment was confirmed, but a terrible viral infection which continued well into my first week of being at Chennai, was enough to drain all enthusiasm of moving to a new city. The Chennai heat and trouble conversing with the people in the city further added to my trials and tribulations.
The first few days of being in Chennai had me rethinking my decision of being in Chennai, but somehow somewhere things changed in a fortnight and being in Chennai didn’t seem so bad after all.
In the three months that I have been in Chennai, I have visited India’s oldest bookstore in its original store in Mylapore, attended a talk by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (which Radhika has blogged about here) and also run a marathon in the IIT Madras campus. I have grown to love the city and cherish my life here: I don’t know if it is by virtue of Chennai being a coastal city (which testifies to the natural state of tranquility which people enjoy here) or the fact that this is the first time that I am living independently (working life can actually be quite fun!)…I think that it is a mix of both.
It is almost as if life is a clean slate for me and I can start all over. I think that’s why a change in life can be so therapeutic. While the rains lash outside, I feel a warmth inside knowing that this is the start to a wonderful journey.