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From sowing, irrigating and harvesting crops in a field to an air conditioned cubicle, as a software developer in one of the fastest growing companies in the country, his is a journey that only a few can imagine, let alone undertake.

Meet Udaykiran, a UG4 CSE student, born in Mupkal in Nizamabad district, Andhra Pradesh.

Having stayed in a village with a population of around seven thousand people, he was scared at the deluge of people he saw after alighting from his train at Lingampally railway station. It was only after he saw his uncle on the station that he was relieved!

So how was the journey, I ask? He smiles and says it was bumpy yet worthwhile.

Born in a small village, Uday’s parents were married off at an early age. Neither of them received any formal education but they always encouraged Uday to study hard and excel in academics. After finishing tenth grade he decided to move to Guntur for further education. He also prepared for competitive exams and got outstanding results. His efforts led him to the CSE program at IIIT-H. The difference between Mupkal and Hyderabad was big, and the transition phase was very testing. He experienced many firsts at IIIT-H — using a computer for the first time, it took him nearly 5 minutes to search for ‘P’ on the keyboard during the IT Shivir session. On a side note he also shares a similar experience of one of his friends who was hitting the upper corner of ‘3’ to print ‘#’! Jokes apart, he gives credit to Prof. Jawahar’s organized lectures and teaching which helped him bridge the gap.

Incidentally, his friends share that he did not talk with anyone and gave only one word answers in first semester. They thought he was shy, but Uday reveals, “I had studied in Telugu medium till tenth and did not know English. When I came here everyone was talking in English, so I felt out of place and thus did not interact much. Such was my apprehension that I called up my uncle one day and asked him to take me home.”. Then what kept you here? “A bit of courage and people around me like Meera Marathe Ma’m who helped me improve my English. It was the only class in my first semester where I spoke.”

Well, he is no doubt shy, and it took sufficient prodding from our side to get him talking. Were you always like that? “No, it was worse before”, he confides. “In my fourth semester I was taking ES course. Our group had to make a presentation and we all had to speak in turns. When my turn came, I froze and could not utter a single word. My friends took over, but yes I was scared out of my wits.” So, how did you manage your placement interviews? You surely had to speak before a panel there. He confides that initially there were hiccups, viz. during internships he was rejected in the final round of Microsoft interview. However he did not lose hope. He knew his shortcomings and for more than a month, before the placement season, he practiced every answer in front of a mirror.

Changing gears, I ask him about his friends in village. He informs me that most of his friends are married and have kids. In Mupkal, like in many places in India people get married at an early age. However, he hastens to add that he has made it amply clear to his we-will-find-your-bride-relatives that he has no plans of an early marriage. 🙂 In our conversation he makes an interesting point, “Earlier people used to get married early and most of them were arranged, but now the whole concept of marriage has changed. We have ‘trial-time’, ‘live-in-time’ and yet some of them fail. Something is amiss in our new concept of marriage.”

I ask him about farming and if he intends to pursue it at any point in time. He sadly points to the lack of honesty among middlemen and how a farmer is cheated at every stage. A farmer fights a lonely battle against the very people and establishment who should support and encourage him. This has led to a large number of next generation farmers migrating to cities in search of better opportunities. The interviewer would like to point out that in a recent study by CACP (Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices) it was found that a farmer is forced to sell his/her paddy 20-30% below Minimum Support Price (The study was carried out in five states).

For those of you who are unaware, Uday gave his first dance performance during Felicity 2012. The performance was no doubt brilliant but how did he get the confidence ? He explains, “Since I first entered college, I always wanted to dance. Many a times, I would just close my door, play some music and randomly dance to the tunes. So the urge was always there, it was just a matter of platform and time.”

The clock and my questionnaire tell me that we were done. I can see the hard work, grit and determination put in. I ask him what inspired him to work so hard. He won me over with his response, “My father inspires me to work hard. He gets up at 4 am in the morning, feeds the cattle till 6 and then goes to the fields, returns at 9 am for breakfast, goes back at 10 am, has lunch with my mother who takes it to the farm and returns home at 8 pm in the night. 16 hours of back-breaking labour everyday, throughout the year, without a single holiday! Even though I am half their age, I do not work for half the number of hours they put in.”

(With Special Inputs from Jayendra Rakesh, Sri Kalyan)

PS: We at Ping! believe that every life is an inspiration, every journey a reward and every story worth a story-teller. Please let us know if you want to share something, we hope we will be able to do justice to it.

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