June 2010: A computer engineering graduate, and thereafter working in the corporate circles for four years, I would have never imagined that pressing down the Send button of that resignation email could invoke so many emotions, apprehensions and excitement being at the forefront. I decide to hold on to the email, and ask Ma to make me a cup of coffee.
What is it about Bombay and my romance with the city; I am unable to put across in words. And then … the realization that may be for the first time in my life, I will not be around to enjoy the Bombay rains next year and who knows how many years after that. Of the host of things that I will not be able to pack in 2 suitcases and carry around the country, the monsoon definitely is one. Why is letting go so tough always? And is it because I want to litmus test myself if I can break free that I am accepting the fellowship? And in that sense, am I being fair or just rash? It has been a good life; the last four years have been remarkable. What is it that I want to break free from then? The coffee arrives and with it comes Ma’s one liner that sealed the fate for me into the Fellowship Program – Batch I; “Is this not what you always wanted to do?” I hit the Send button, keep the laptop aside, lift the coffee mug and go by the window to enjoy the pitter patter of the rainy afternoon. I had not done it in a while…
January 2014: It has been over three and a half years to that afternoon. A twenty five something who was heading for what now seems a dangerously guided, unaware and indifferent life is long gone; replaced by a twenty nine year who has had a host of experiences and a hell of a journey to share – designing insurance, saving and literacy programs for women in rural Maharashtra or marketing rural farm products or teaching in education camps in the Himalayas; with the same comfort as meeting old friends in Bombay in Marine Drive. The freedom and confidence and lifestyle to move effortlessly between spaces. The opportunity to look at issues staring our times, understanding them and even beginning to think of solutions. The abandoning the black and white and accepting the gray of life with maturity. The faith of falling out of a structure to create my own frameworks and follow the heart are all the boon of that Send button click. That one link to a website of a Fellowship changed me and the course of my life forever, for good.
Being the first always has its own perils and blessings. While the thrill for the first batch may be unparalleled now, the lack of an alumni also pinched. And so been there done that, i feel it’s important i tell the reader and perhaps an aspiring Fellow, from my own journey’s experience. If you believe in the cliche that we have one life, let us make it big … then click your Send button to the INDIA FELLOW’s application form without a second’s delay.
Anupama Pain is an ICICI Fellow; she was part of the 1st batch of ICICI Fellows program in 2010 and leads the India Fellow team.