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Safarnama - The final drive in a series of road trips exploring the Indian Startup Ecosystem.

Research, Startups, Travel, Music & more.

Preface

At the end of 2016, which also marks an year to my Research Experiments with the Indian Startup eco-system, I have compiled a short film on my journey.

Watch the concluding drive summarizing the events and learning’s in a series of road trips through 2016.

For those who wish to become a part of some amazing drives, music and more, this is the full length 20 min film on youtube (Yearbook 2016

The beginning

It was another usual morning back in November 2015, winters setting in and the weather was getting pleasant. I had a couple months back, moved to Wipro Limited and my role in SAP CLM Consulting was rolling high.

Life was busy, working for almost 12-14 hours during the weekdays and then coming home to Chandigarh over the weekends. I was occupied and earning well, there would be no reason to get annoyed, yet every-time I was on the drive, listening to music or sitting alone in my apartment and strumming guitar, this feeling recurred , “ Why don’t I do more of this and less of what I do in office”.

I was talking to my conscious self every now & then & around the same time, a school friend & graduate from BITS Pilani had brought the flavor of start-ups in our conversations. Earlier in May 2015, while I was serving notice period at Atos, TVF released Pitchers and it caught hold of my thoughts instantly.

Going back in time

My resignations have always been very dramatic. It was the 28th of April 2015 & yet again this morning, I did not feel like going to office. There was literally no positive environment at work & I felt drained running between Gurgaon-Chandigarh, mastering the skill to delay projects since that was the work culture with European clients & wasting precious time.

I was lying down on my bed at 11 am in the summer heat, listening to this new track from Piku- 'Bezubaan'. It’s a fine composition and has a solo in the middle which is a suitar and guitar played together.

When you play music yourself, you are able to figure out, how difficult or rare a composition is. I was playing this track on repeat and the solo was again striking some nerve deep inside my conscious. It must have been half an hour or so and this time when the solo started, I walked to the table, opened the laptop and raised my resignation.

Quite dramatic but real, that's the beauty of our conscious. It’s telling you what do to & you tend to bring the best logic from mind to suppress that voice. This is just cheap psychology you give yourself and it will always, always, take you a step away from getting a real life experience.

Getting out of comfort zones and taking a step into uncertainty is the natural course of life. Life is anything, but certain. That is the fundamental nature of existence.

The day I resigned

Coming back to 3rd November, 2015, around 12 am midnight at the corporate office , the scene is of a crazy room , board members from client side , senior management from Wipro side and myself . It’s a Go-live scheduled in a week's time and we were arguing over what format will the client provide their data for migration.

I knew technically the system is ready and a lot of English conversation is all that was making noise in the room over petty issues. Around 12.30 am I sent out a mail stating the format in which I need the data as per what the SAP system supported and walked out of office.

Before starting to drive, dialed up my technical mentor at Wipro (Manas). My first words to him at 12.45 am – “I can't waste more time”. Around 2 months back, we had gone over a research paper that I had written in 'Philosophy of Mind & Cognition', back in May 2015 when I knocked the doors at IIT Delhi to enroll for a Part time PhD Program with the Humanities & Social Sciences department.

He knew where I was coming from & gave a go ahead to flag my resignation. Driving a distance of 12 km on NH-8 at that time is hardly a 10 minute drive. I took around 5, even one track did not complete on the drive, that's how I remember.

At 1.15 am, I was sitting with a cup of tea and the laptop screen displayed a form, asking ‘reason for resignation’. My last working date with Wipro was now set as 4th Dec 2015.

Between resignation & last working day

Nothing went easy from Diwali to 4th December. Your parents will never say yes or no discreetly, but they will convey other aspects of life to you. Of course they want you to make secure choices and hence every now & then on call, I was advised to extend my resignation.

Golden Advice - When you walk into the room with your management for a resignation withdrawal discussion, be sure of what you want. You give them one choice for staying back and the games will begin.

48 hours before my last working day, the pressure was mounting from Home into a clear message, to continue for a while, I had my last salary credit on 30 November, savings were less than credit card bills + an EMI had to be managed for the coming unknown no of months.

Games began rolling

On the 2nd of December, I was called in for a final discussion and I kept an option on the table,

a. Relocation to Pune – Since my family missed the comfortable weather of Pune where we spent 8 years earlier from 2006-2015 (March)

b. A new project at Pune in SAP CLM.

There is no immediate yes ever in such talks and I requested them to confirm by 3rd Dec, 1 pm. No confirmations came my way next day & I took silence for a not possible. I drafted my farewell mail and completed the exit interview on tool.

A melody of confusions

Around 3PM on Dec, 4th while I was almost done with formalities, all of a sudden, a senior executive walks up to me & pointing at my reporting manager , “ How can you accept his resignation , he is not going anywhere”. Then turning on to me, “Piyush, take a week or two off”. Withdraw your resignation.

Before I could say anything, he made a call to Wipro - SAP India lead and in about 15 minutes my phone rang, “Piyush can you please come down to the other office”.

A half an hour’s discussion & I was convinced of relocation in February and a new project on relocation. With this, a mail was dropped marking the HR and concerned people, asking me to confirm withdrawal of resignation.

Imagine sitting in a room with the top executives. The whole atmosphere is designed to the effect of feeling great on getting their time & attention. I was given a laptop immediately, asked to access webmail & send an acceptance to the e-mail.

Due to a technical glitch, just then the network broke, domain was down & I couldn’t access my mailbox (I truly thank whoever and whatever tech did that from the bottom of my heart)

So close and yet so far!!

It took me 45 minutes in 6 PM Gurgaon traffic to get back to my office. Lost in thoughts, I did not even remember what turns I took along the way.

I was restless and unable to send an acknowledgment to the e-mail. With much courage, dialed a call to the SAP India lead , bought time till the next morning for giving a confirmation.

What did I tell him? Never make stories in such situations, just say the truth, say whatever you are thinking.

A jury board (inspired by a jury room from Pitchers)

Oh yes, a whole lot of analysis happened on the white board that night. Connecting with a friend on video call from Germany and more. See the closest of your friends , will all ask you to take the safe route. They are not wrong but it’s only you who really can listen to what your conscious being wishes to do.

Making choices is indeed the most difficult thing. This is again something from Pitchers and I was experiencing it in reality. The best part about Pitchers was how it gave you a holistic viewpoint into the entire scenario around startups.

The impending question is always just one, “What do you really want to do with your time and energy”

The trick which concluded all dilemma

It was Saturday, 5th of Dec and I woke up around 10 am with no conclusive thought. The first thing I did while still in the blanket was to open my laptop and check if there was any fresh mail.

I entered my username /password and it did not work. A message appeared stating, “account disabled”. I tried again, more carefully this time and yet again, the message appeared.

My mind eased down, I had a smile on my face, feeling relaxed, calm, composed and happy. Yeah, it was a unique feeling – it was my conscious validating that, this is what I truly wanted.

Finally, I knew in which choice my happiness was boxed in. Against all advice from family and friends, it was time to start a new journey. The journey of exploring like a free bird.

The same evening, Manas & I went to watch ‘Tamasha’ and oh buoyyy , the timing couldn’t have been better.

Farewell Mail

All through the weekend, conversations continued with my SAP India lead. Apparently some strings could still be pulled to reactivate my mailbox.I had certainly put him in an awkward position and had a heart to heart conversation to convey my decision. 

I went to office on Monday, 7th of Dec to return the laptop but the situation was tense here. My reporting manager refused to accept the laptop. Post some uneasy conversations and ignoring disagreement on my decision from close friends, I left office around 2pm, took a turn towards Jaipur on NH-8 and turned off my cell phone.

Jaipur is where i did my class X & XII. 5 hours later at 7 PM in the evening, I was sitting in my school ground. It’s where I stopped the car after starting from Gurgaon in noon. Yes it’s all dramatic and yes if you listen to your conscious, everything meaningful shall uncover itself .

Spent one good night in Jaipur, it was the first time I booked an Oyo, met my Physics teacher and a school friend. Later that day, got a call from Wipro stating I can return my laptop.

Next morning, I came back to Gurgaon, and dropped my farewell from Gmail itself in the evening.

Adios SAP

Happy and relieved, back to my place, prepared a cup of tea and filled the application form for Teach for India. The second round deadline was 8th Dec 11:59 pm and I set the journey ahead rolling just in time 

It was 30th Dec when I made it official at home too that I have resigned. Until that I had just let them be comfortable with a delusion that I extended my last working day till month end. It was necessary since my mother wasn’t well and it made no logical sense to upset them with my experiments.

In a way I gave myself, three weeks of head start to have one next concrete action in place. Meanwhile I visited Aurobindo Centre in Delhi for inquiring a course in Sound engineering & Music Production.

31st Dec 2015, I drove home to Chandigarh with my guitar and white board . It has been an incredible journey of living life one day at a time, introspecting life and taking my mind to clarity on a variety of perspectives.

I did not join the program at Aurobindo Centre but I spent a considerable time this year jamming with my cousin sister on vocals and we have covered 10 different tracks . Glimpses in the short film !

My research work is published on Linkedin .Thank you for a patient and long read :)

As I begin to look for my next creative role in 2017 , I am certain this article and film will open some interesting possibilities for collaboration.

Write to me on connect2piyush@gmail.com !! 
Cheers
Piyush Nagpal

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