Repatriating, when I did back in December 2015, after living years away from home felt weird. It was a time when the industry I work-in hit rock bottom: projects dried-up when commodity prices nose-dived, leading vulnerable companies to either be acquired, merge, or file for bankruptcy. Those that did survive hit their own people hard with massive job losses. Meanwhile, I was going through my own crisis at work, which peaked by mid 2015. While I did not lose my job for doing the right thing, my health deteriorated under duress. For the first time in my life, I really wanted someone to fire me; at least this way life would find a pace I’d be comfortable in. Instead, India called. I packed bags, leaving behind my wife and kids to finish their academic year.

Work was relentless, of course, and it felt like jumping out of a frying pan and into the fire. The demand to get more done with fewer people, at lower costs, and with greater efficiency became acute, routinely punctuated by re-orgs. And yet, I found endearing colleagues and empathetic managers helping me regain my composure and strength. As I recovered, my role began getting stretched to cover all aspects of structural and marine engineering. With this road-less-travelled approach diving into troubleshooting for assets — from assessing blast over-pressures, flare towers, jetty integrity for berthing tankers, flare buoys, CALM buoy product transfer systems, to supporting budding projects, I began to enjoy work again.

Weekends were free and I found programming therapeutic. Every problem at work became a motivation to solve it programmatically — fuelling numerous posts I wrote between 2016–18. Bangalore’s ecosystem of food start-ups fed me, while Amazon and Uber helped me get whatever I wanted and wherever I wanted to go. On the home front, Windmills’ lively community let us into their circle of parents, families and friends as we rented a cozy apartment there.1 The school bus came to the campus and kids began to commute to TISB.

Campout on the lawns of Windmills of Your Mind. (Courtesy: Luke)

Between running for PTCs, SATs, and IELTS, kids grew-up, and before we knew, it was time for my elder one to leave home to join her freshman year at university. We try fighting the empty-nest feeling by keeping ourselves preoccupied. And when it doesn’t work, we turn to FaceTime.

After yet another re-org at work last year, I saw myself accepting an invitation to join a project I’d been working-on for a while. As a result, we left India last December. Now, life has re-started slowly on these new shores, and is finding that warmth amongst new colleagues, school-mates, neighbours and strangers yet again.

  1. The yearly overnight camp-out event on Windmills’ lawns, is one of the many wonderful events, organised by grown-ups and enjoyed by everyone, photo taken by my dear friend Luke.