Long time, no see!

Posted on 20/06/2020 at 08:30 AM by The Vibe.

Experience Rant Flex

Memory lane

Previously on the blog, I had covered my internship experience with Intuit India - the one that I had fought a lot to land in the first place. In the next 1.5 years that got skipped in this blog, a lot of life-changing events happened. Brace yourselves; because this is going to quickly escalate like Thor's character development over the 3 movies - Thor Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War & Avengers: Endgame.

Aug-Dec 2018: Wholesomeness Galore

Shortly after coming back to college from my internship, I received a PPO (Pre-Placement Offer) from Intuit India. This came as a huge sigh of relief - given the struggle I had already gone through to land a Software Development internship being a Mechie. Also, this meant that I would be officially out of the rat-race for campus placements at IIT Kharagpur.

What followed for the next couple of months is what's called "PPO life" - aka, the tension-free peaceful time that can just be spent with friends and passing time without any regrets. And that's exactly what I did with my wingies - we'd assemble at one of our rooms and just spend time together for hours and hours. The activities ranged from card games (290, UNO), dumb charades to binging any movie/series, or even just discussing something randomly (read, ganging up on one of us).

Me and the buoys at a treat

From left: Shetty, Atti (yours truly), Deepanshu, Buddy, Sankalp, Danawe, Meshu & Pablo

Behind the lens: GG

The next good news that I received during this phase was that, my GSOC organization (SciRuby) had chosen me as one of the two mentors to attend the GSOC Mentor Summit held at the San Fransisco! For almost 2-3 weeks, I was just rumbling and hustling to get the VISA process done at any cost - as it's a great opportunity to network with more like-minded people who're very enthusiastic about open-source. Thankfully, everything went well and I was able to get the VISA application approved in time.

Right when I left to attend this mentor summit, I also got a ping from my college folks that I had been selected to represent our college in the Inter-IIT Tech Meet 2019. Ever since I participated in the Inter-IIT Tech Meet of 2017, I had been waiting to experience the thrill of getting to face-off against the best tech minds across India one more time!

The summit was organized pretty well, given the sheer number of mentors that come and participate in it ...

GSOC Mentor Summit People

... and the whole "Crowd-sourced collaboration of chocolates" was a really fun activity where mentors would all buy and stack chocolates from their native places ...

GSOC Mentor Summit Chocolate Collaboration

... and did I say I like stickers?

GSOC Mentor Summit Stickers

... and I also managed to get a picture with the hilarious Tamil stand-up comic Alex!

Meeting Alex

Alex in Wonderla-err-San Fransisco (from left): Prabhu (Nephew), Me & Alexander Babu

As an icing on the cake, I also got a free pass for the GitHub Developer Meet - which coincidentally happened around the same span of 7 days and very much in the near vicinity. As a result, I got to meet a couple of GitHubbers in real life and put a face/name to the GitHub Classroom contributions that I had made previously during my Internship hunt.

Attending the GitHub Developer Meet

Posing with the pouting Octocat statue (from left): Me, Rohit Lodha, GitHubber John Britton & Sai Shankar

All in all, it was just very wholesome and maybe even a bit surreal/overwhelming that all of these good things were coming together and happening at the same time during my final year!

Meanwhile, the universe: (does sinister laugh) "It's all going too well for him, it'd be a shame if I manage to ruin it somehow. Hmmmmmm."

Dec 2018 - May 2019: Shit hits the ceiling level!

As the 9th semester got completed, I stayed back at college for a couple more days to help out friends with their placement process - to do whatever I could from my part. Almost 10 days into this placement process, most of my friends who wanted to take up a job had already gotten placed - so, I packed up and made my way home.

When I reached back home, I came to know something really shocking. Around October 2019, my dad had gone through a stroke-like symptom. Ever since, dad has been taking tests to figure out the actual issue - yup, this included CT scans, MRIs and other full-body checks. They had waited to tell me this in person so that I don't panic while being in college - from where I can take no action.

Right after coming back, we went to another check-up and the doctors were still not able to pinpoint the exact issue - with uncertainty looming across multiple possibilities (Brain Tumour, TB, etc). With no other option left to find out the issue without an intrusive procedure, we opted for a brain biopsy ASAP, as we didn't want to delay it any further; after all with the uncertainty of illness, inaction or untimely action could be an unnecessary gamble to take when the stakes are high.

"Always expect the best, but also prepare for the worst" - Appa

Even in the best case, as this was going to be intrusive brain surgery, it was possible that dad may regain entire brainpower (memory, coordination, calculation, etc) only gradually over the next couple of months. An analogy would be how our eyes take time to become non-foggy once we use eye-drops.

What followed for the next 2 weeks was intense KTs (knowledge transfers) as Mom & I had to handle everything that dad used to previously handle. Thanks to all the support provided by relatives, doctors and the universe; the surgery turned out to be a total success.

For the folks who're curious about this "Outlier" of a medical case: It turned out to be a rare case of TB that had somehow made it's way to the nervous system - rare, because it usually makes its way through the respiratory system and is supposed to be pretty easy to pinpoint because of its symptoms. But hey, wellllll, dad is one of a kind and his medical case plainly followed suit. ¯\(ツ)

Dad's post-biopsy photo

Thankfully, after almost a year of TB medication, my dad has pretty much recovered in all aspects and back in shape - maybe even better than before! :)

Going back into my final semester of college, I was filled with a lot of confidence and "make the most out of it" mentality - that survivors typically tend to have. I went all out (read, batshit crazy) opting for a 30-credit semester that took the peace aspect out of the last semester. This semester was definitely going to be one that would require me to over-exert myself - survivors shouldn't be chilling, amirite?

A couple of things did make this final semester fun for me even though I over-exerted myself. I worked on extra projects and got to know/team-up with some pretty talented folks! On the positive front, this semester was also a series of firsts in contrast to the series of lasts it was supposed to be:

  • Learn some aspects of a non-engineering field(s)

I made an awesome acquaintance in Garima, who let me know about this degree called PGDBA (which has been emerging as a competitor to an MBA in recent days) and also gives me free management tips. We teamed up for a term-project called Harvey ( GitHub | PPT) and as a result, got to know a lot about Indian constitutional laws, most famous cases and their network analysis.

  • Lead an awesome team of juniors

Opensoft is basically an inter-hall event where teams have to build the software solution to the given problem statement end-to-end. Comprising of mostly freshers and sophomores, I'm very pleased to have led our team and was pleasantly surprised by how much skill they managed to acquire in the short span of less than a month. Thanks for making this an awesome experience, team!

Just in case anyone's curious about this team composition: Dibya Das, Manjunath Bhat, Aadi Swadipto Mondal, Aman Kumar, Arib Alam, Akash Chandra, Divyang Mittal, Kshitij Agrawal, Pankaj Kumar, Parakh Agarwal, Raghavendra Kaushik, Soumava Paul, Sriyash Poddar, Tushar Singla, Vinay Kumar Agarwal & Vivek Raj.

Also, a very special mention to Dibya Das for co-steering the ship whenever I was caught up with other tasks!

  • Finally, start the transition from an introvert to an ambivert

It's probably not a process that someone can put a number on; rather, it's more of an ongoing process that requires conscious effort. It's not about favouring to be one or other among the introvert and extrovert personas; rather, it's about being flexible to embrace both - as per the necessity.

"Fake it till you make it" - GSOC Mentor Summit Website

  • And of course, not a first - but 2.2 walks are always a necessary call-out for memorable experiences! <3

And randomly two days after the Opensoft event ended: "Ouch, ouch, that hurt! What's this pain? Where's it even coming from?" :-/

My wingies immediately called an ambulance and admitted me into BC Roy Hospital. Without any prelim test, the doctor who was present at that time just said it would be a case of Pancreatic inflation - which is supposed to be pretty bad. Thankfully, the next doctor who came in did suggest a prelim test and it turned out to be Appendicitis - yup, that's pretty frequently occurring and relatively a smaller issue. Phew!

Looks like my over-exertion was finally showing off - pretty apparently. In the process of working on all these different projects with different people, I had torn apart my sleep and diet cycle consistently for almost a month - which most probably led to the random pain on that random day.

Reality checks are often the best in putting things into perspective. The week I rested at the hospital definitely mellowed the "survivor" over-exertion instincts in me for good. After that, the final-semester was back to being like a final-semester. Less of work, more of connecting with people and spending time in a memorable manner.

Jun 2019 - Aug 2019: Alexa, play "Fix you" by Coldplay

Coming back home with the thought that of leaving all the friends and the campus behind is definitely an excruciatingly sad phase that all graduates have to go through. Or rather, this is the phase where everyone definitely gets to master the skill of living in denial. Reality can't be sad if you don't accept reality right? (sob)

The last night of mine on campus, we (wingies) decided to roam around the campus - just trying to make sense of our 5 years through this campus (and life). We dub it "The Long Night". GoT fam, hi-5!

Yehi Toh Baatein Baad Me Yaad Aayenge meme

But there's one flaw with living in denial - it doesn't really work once you've boarded your cab/train/flight back to your home - unless you're delusional of course. And even though I factually knew that we may be parting ways for a long time, it was when I sat in the cab that reality actually struck me.

I was sad for almost a week at home - for no particular reason. I was glad to know later that it was actually a shared feeling - yay, validation! After a week, life moved on and I moved on too (nope, I still haven't - nope, just kidding).

It was time to figure out some stuff before I started with my full-time job at Intuit India. First and foremost, I wanted to fix the health part - that random pain on that random day was a very eerie and troubling experience for me. I definitely didn't want to experience it again - so, I had the Appendicitis removed and just rested for a month.

Next, I wanted one final hard-core start-up experience to get to learn more. I got to know about a pretty fun start-up called Memeois from Atibhi. They had my attention, the moment I came to know that it's a platform for making and sharing memes. They even have a meme profiler and meme recommendation system - which is pretty sick. I came to know about a ton of AWS services, and various optimizations after working on Memeois. Thanks a lot for offering me this great opportunity, Anushk! It was a fun 2-months working for Memeois, but with my job at Intuit starting in a month, I sadly had to part ways with them.

And the one last month? It was mostly dedicated to looking for houses at Bangalore, and planning for packing/moving process that'd come next.

Sep 2019 - Dec 2019: Aaaand we're back to wholesomeness!

Moving from Chennai to Bangalore was pretty much a bittersweet change. It was wholesome for most of the part:

  • Amazing climate: I don't want to rant about Chennai being hot always, but Bangalore's just way cooler (literally)
  • Convocation: Not that the degree helped me much in my pursuit, but physically receiving it as a reward for enduring all the 5 years of IITKGP life was pretty sick! <3

Getting the degree finally

A cool addition to the convocation was being called as a panellist for the SWG session to throw some light about the placements scenario - that's when I knew I've finally made it through a full-circle.

Hidayat session

Supposedly giving funda (from left): Anubhav Jain, Shubham Bansal, Mayank Srivastava, Me, Ayush Gautam, Vaibhav Chauhan, Alok Anand Patra & Avinab Saha

  • Meet-ups: Most of my friends from both school and college made it out to Bangalore as well.

CVians meetup

"All roads lead to Rome (or rather, Bangalore)"

  • First job, new team:

I was allotted a different team (Data Platform) from the one I had interned with (Pro-Connect Group), as there had been a slight restructuring of the previous team. As a result, everything was new as I started out my first job. This new team sat in a different building, and obviously had a way different problem statement to solve. As a fresh graduate, I was pretty much clueless even about the concepts of "data lake" and scalable data architectures - leave alone just the tech-stacks.

For the first month or two, I had a lot of ground to cover getting familiar with the technologies that are generally used for this: Scala, Spark, Kafka, Hadoop, etc. A huge kudos to my buddy (aka, mentor) Sanket Sahu and the entire team in helping me out with getting familiar with the diverse set of technologies!

And of course, the awesome aspect of getting goodies hasn't changed much from the internship!

Workplace Photo

  • Hackathons:

I realize this probably doesn't look like it aligns with the lessons of over-exertion that my final semester taught me. But trust me when I say that it's just very controlled and I'm not exerting at all - leave alone over-exertion. It's just that weekends may get boring sometimes, and whenever I've time, I try to participate in them. The objective is mainly to know new people, and new skills from them.

In this phase, I participated in HackUPC hackathon held at Barcelona, InOuts hackathon held at Bangalore and Microsoft Devengers hackathon also held at Bangalore. It's a pretty cool experience each time, because of the sheer randomness and the suspense of not knowing what we'll build or whom I'd be building with. It's kinda like a developer's version of doing improv.

Presenting our project at HackUPC

Presenting our project at HackUPC (from left): Udit Tayal, Hrishikesh Srinivasan & Me

After getting a special mention at Devengers Hackathon

After getting a special mention at Devengers (from left): Me, Ranajoy Roy & Gyanesh Malhotra

One of the fondest memories I have from these hackathons is of the InOuts one, where I got introduced to the field of Augmented Reality and we came up with a really cool implementation of a Black Mirror Episode tech. The Augmented Reality knowledge definitely came in handy during one of the later events that happened at Intuit - which I'll write in detail as a separate blog post in the coming days.

InOuts Hackathon

101 ways to hype a project (from left): Piyush Makwana, Me & Atibhi Agrawal

If you'd like to read a blog post that's completely dedicated to hackathons, let me know in the comments section and I'll definitely pen down my thoughts in detail! :)

Jan 2020 - now: Wait whaaaaa?

Captain Holt Pain

2020! Yup. It's the universe's version of a bamboozle. Imagine people working from home, getting fired from their jobs and/or losing their livelihood, postponing their special events (marriage, get-togethers, etc) and totally giving up on any plans - all over the world; just because someone ate a bat. Domino effect OP!

Like most people, I've been working from home as well. And the WFH issues are real:

  • The paradox

From my prior experience working remotely on Memeois and GSOC project, I thought I'd be able to handle WFH slightly better compared to others. But nope, I was wrong - it was surprising to see that the WFH I had remembered as being chill and flexible, had somehow just become more hectic with more work and more hours.

  • Finding a balance between work & home

It's very tough striking a balance between work and home in WFH. My initial days of WFH used to be either work extending till the night, or work not getting started at all the entire day. It still is, but it also used to be. Nope, just kidding - it's gradually become better as we're all trying to have our days much more planned (compared to ad-hoc meetings resulting in random working hours in the initial days). Time management and Mental balance have never been more important!

  • The ergonomics

The first couple of days of working with my home desk and chair - nope. Just nope. It's just not a very ergonomic setup to work long hours. The same applies to the keyboard and mouse as well. Using them for a temporary period could be done, but given the prolonged state of affairs, we should soon be taking care of proper ergonomics to avoid wrist/back pains. Thankfully, Intuit has been providing some of the equipment to ensure that working with inadequate setup doesn't take a long-term toll.

  • The setup

For the first month of WFH, I had no plans of changing my setup as it was just considered a temporary situation. But with the prospect of WFH being prolonged maybe even till late-2020, I had to put some effort into refactoring my room. It wasn't just about getting the workspace setup, but it was also about adding in elements of homeliness to ensure that it's a balanced setup which is not totally filled with just work-related elements.

Workplace setup with WFH

As you can see, I've attempted to strike a balance by adding non-work distractions like books, Rubiks cube and of course a series to binge-watch. On my other desk that's mostly just filled with chargers, I've a couple of plants and a pinch of pupper magic.

Home aspect in WFH setup

PS - This is, of course, just a very genuine effort that's pretty much rudimentary. It may not look so appealing yet, but for everyone who’s looking for ideas to set up a clean workspace at their home, the TechSource YouTube channel has been publishing lots of videos on awesome clean workspace setups. Do take up some inspiration from them!


In conclusion, writing such a huge blog post, to sum up, all the events across 1.5 years has made it very clear to me that I should not be procrastinating and allow things to accumulate up. As a result, I'll be writing (or at least trying to write) more regularly. Hopefully, my writing hasn't become too rusty/boring.

"Old habits, they die hard" - Tyrell Wellick, Mr Robot S01E01


Got any topic(s) that'd you like me to specifically write about? Please feel free to use the Disqus comment section below.