Monday, 26 September 2016

The Beginning...

Life is a journey and one must make their own paths..

As I made my own path and did things that caught my interest, I stumbled upon one adventure after another. Luckily my parents supported me all the way and never stopped me from following crazy ambitions. Although, sometimes I wish they did.

Let me tell you how I stumbled into the Mushroom farming adventure. I am no genius or a high scoring student. Just your "slightly above average Joe" here. I did my schooling, specializing in Science and in pre-university, although I wanted Computers, the school could not set them up and had to take up Biology.

I then joined a engineering college to pursue my bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Towards the end, thanks to my thesis project being aerodynamics based, I decided to do my masters in Aerospace. In India, jobs are everything. With competition being so high, you only get few chances and when you give them up, you "throw away your future". I had two job offers, one in a major IT giant and another in a shipyard. Having made-up my mind to pursue higher studies, I turned both down.

After staying at home for an year, applying abroad for my masters, I got my admission letter in TU Delft, Netherlands one of the best Aerospace schools out there. I did the coursework for one year and then interned with Shell and continued to do my thesis with them after. On completion I was offered a  contract role back in my home country and I decided to take it. The pay was great, work was fun and life couldn't have been better. But then came the great "oil" depression. I had applied for the graduate programme with them and was in the final stage of it when hiring was frozen and all contract staff laid off.

And here I was, home again, with a huge loan to pay off and wondering what to do with life. Job sites kept matching me with low level jobs which also included "house-keeping".

One fine day, dad got home button mushrooms. I have only eaten button my whole life and relish it. They were part of my weekly shopping list during my stay in Netherlands as well. As I saw them, covered in dirt, having a brown surface instead of white and costing so much, I wondered, if there wasn't a cleaner way to grow them as even in Netherlands, while they were white, they had black dirt sticking to it.

Thus started my research into the world of mushrooms. As I read more, learned more and understood more, I was fascinated with them. But what drove me more was to come up with a model to help people easily get into growing mushrooms and be independent without having to lose their self-respect. In India, due to modernisation of other industries and agriculture still lacking behind with weather dependent uncertain trade, large amount of people move to cities, doing menial jobs that barely pays enough to feed the family. Not to mention, with growing disparity between the rich and the poor, even the middle class has a hard time surviving in this rat race to grow successful and rich.

Almost a year came to be since I lost my job and I was tired of applying to jobs without success and not moving forward on the mushroom front. During this time, I had my Uncle from US visit us and he asked me something. He asked, "if you had all the money in the world, no pressure, what would you rather do in life?".

After a lot of analysing and soul searching, I realised two things. One, I wanted to help people be independent and not lose their self-worth. Two, I am a smart guy and my strength lies in adapting to what is needed. I may not have hands on knowledge but I did not cheat my way to the present. I worked hard, learnt new stuff with ease and made sure I was well above average at it. Be it from Mechanical to Aerospace or from Aerospace to Oil & Gas, or even programming on the job, I have adapted quickly and added value every single time.

And so I seriously stepped into the Mushroom business trying to use my research skills to my advantage. After all.. Mushroom Science Isn't Rocket Science :)

Stay tuned for more..