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Sreeram Padmanabhan
The topsy-truvy of a decade I had

Last updated: 21 May, 2020

Amazing how I had just been thinking about this today and here was this question in quora. So I had to answer it. Just like most people in the lower middle class in India, I had my fair share of sheer struggle to get to the top. Here goes my rags to riches story.

From back bencher to dropping out of college to Engineer: In 2010, I hated Computer Science. All I could think of was playing cricket in a ground. From a school which laid emphasis on Physics, Mathematics, English etc, I saw Computer science as an outsider. Something like a co-curricular activity like the stitching classes. I struggled for a degree in college. Around the 6th semester, I was at the brink of dropping out. Teachers and friends wrote me off. I still remember my friends joking that I will never pass out. On an average, I wrote almost every one of the 52 papers in the engineering degree twice. Those days still haunt me. I think it was around 2011 that I really matured as an adult and realised I had been taking my life for granted. I decided to be my own coach and I cleared 18 exams to pass out among my peers. But, in the inside, I was developing a love-hate relationship with computer science and mathematics. Fast forward to 2020 - I am a Senior Software Engineer. I work with some of the best engineers in the world.

From rural India to London: In 2010, I was in a rural town in India. I never saw myself as an achiever. I was just the regular average guy. 2020 - My job takes me places. I moved to Trivandrum to Kochi to Chennai to Bangalore to London and I am in Berlin now. I have also travelled 13 countries solo. And I know it wont stop here.

From road-side eateries to michelin-star restaurants: There was a time when I was eating food from the road side eateries 2 times a day. There were a few occasions when I fell sick too. Today, I cook my own food and I occasionally eat food from some of the greatest restaurants in the world. My favourite is Cirrik in Dalston, London. I used to visit it every week with my friend. I am sure they will recognize me when I visit them again.

From freelancer to founder: In 2010, I was working for myself. I didn’t know what startups were. I was just working for random people as a freelancer. Entrepreneur was a word I couldn't even pronounce. I then tried to found a startup and failed, worked for a startup, Wipro, Nokia, Apple, Lloyds Bank and Delivery Hero. I then set up my own company.

Failure-fearing to failure-embracing: Things didn’t come to me the easy way. Most things I learnt have been through a string of failure be it in my personal life of professional. I have realized that success is not about being in the comfort zone. Its to do well outside your comfort zone.

Homeless to penthouse (not exactly a penthouse, but didn't get a better word to make it sound dramatic): In 2010, I lived with my parents. I remember the days when I used to have fights and would run away from my home for some hours. In 2015, I lived in a house which didnt have water supply. 2020: I now live in my own apartment in a nice area in Berlin.

0 to 1C: In 2010, I had 0 Rs. Today, I have seen 1C.

Learner to teacher: In 2010, I learnt from others. Today, I mentor others.

And finally, this is me over 2010–2020.

sreeram padmanabhansreeram padmanabhansreeram padmanabhan

 

It’s not to say that I have succeeded in every aspect of life. I do have some way to go in my personal life but I think I have reached a reasonably good place in terms of my career, thanks to the topsy-turvy of a life in the last decade. But the coach in me is happy and proud. And, If you wish for a life like mine, don’t do. Wish for a life you will be content with. And thats what matters!

I will end it by quoting an excerpt from my favourite poem:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
☕ Buy me a coffee maybe?