Mar 15

How one trip abroad sparked a new life into me

In the 8 years I spent at AOL (2003 – 2011), my career had peaked in 2008. That year, I worked my ass off and made a name for myself in the company, earning accolades from not only the Bangalore office but also from AOL offices in London, New York and Sydney! But despite the praises, the awards, the salary hikes, promotion, etc… by 2009 I was feeling depressed.

When you achieve a certain level of success, your higher ups don’t sit back and tell you to relax and take it easy. The targets for 2009 were even higher, so were the expectations from me. At this point I began asking myself one crucial question: “Am I happy?”

In 2009, I was spending long hours at work and every weekend was spent looking for an apartment. Due to the recession, the housing market was down and it seemed like a good time to purchase property. But no matter how many projects me and my brother saw, we just couldn’t find the right one that suited our budget.

Back at AOL, we saw a change in management when the company got a new CEO. Rumours started flying about certain teams getting shelved and impending layoffs. At around this time, the very higher ups who set the high expectations themselves left the company. How did I feel? Worse. Aside from the fact I was getting tired of the work, I began questioning myself on the point of working so hard now. I mean, I work for months to achieve targets … only to see my projects shut down later? What’s the point?

My personal life was no better. I did travel a bit but even with travel — I was tired of seeing the places in and around Bangalore. I had seen enough of India and felt like traveling abroad. Then one day in November, I woke up and felt a little different. I went online, checked some airline fares and saw a return ticket to Bangkok for just Rs. 15k. I used my credit card and bought it. After my booking was confirmed, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was about to go abroad after a span of 7 years. I was excited but very nervous too. I went to office that day and somehow didn’t seem to care much about talks of layoffs.

Long story short, I visited Thailand for the first time in late 2009. The trip was far from perfect, but I was a rookie. I learned so much from my visit abroad. After landing back in Bangalore and on the way back home, all I could think about was “I want to travel, I want to blog, I want to travel, I want to blog, I want to travel…”. And a few weeks later, mithunonthe.net was born and I began writing about my Thailand trip. And people liked it!

When I went to office the following days, I just stopped caring about office politics and only focused on my work to make money and save up for my travels. In 2010, I went to UAE twice, returned to Thailand and visited Singapore & Malaysia with friends.

It’s amazing how much my attitudes and interests in life changed with just one trip abroad. I really felt I was starting a new life. That one trip sparked a new flame inside me and pushed me to new challenges. Taking the BTS in Bangkok and not driving calmed me down and it made not want to rush in traffic when I returned to Bangalore. Seriously. I was always a patient person but I became a lot more patient and calmer now. That’s how much I changed after that one holiday.

Sure, my credit card bill from that holiday was huge and took me a few months pay to clear it off, but somehow it didn’t bother me as much. This new life, with a new ‘me’ and a new attitude to life, I achieved something my failed career failed to bring me in 2009 — happiness. I was happy, and five years on, nothing has changed. I’m still happy.


Mar 15

With unemployment looming, on the last day of my job… I was happy

I left AOL after working at the Bangalore office for over 8 years. From 2003 to 2011, AOL was the only company I worked for. I joined when I was 21, right after college graduation, and by the time I left, I was 29. I went through many different roles within the company and made my way up to managing a team of 14 people during my final year. I’ve had my ups and downs of course, and rumours of layoffs at AOL had been doing the rounds during the time of the recession.

But somehow, I survived. Until 2011 that is. In January that year, AOL acquired Huffington Post. We knew the acquisition of another online media company was going to affect the division I worked for (AOL Media). And it did. The following month, AOL announced they were going to effectively shut down our offices. Many would be ‘outsourced’ to other IT firms, and some of us (including me) would be laid off. When the news broke, oddly enough, I wasn’t sad.

Okay, so I had a good reason to be happy. As a long time employee, my severance package was much higher than that of most others who were laid off. I had the option to move to a surviving team within AOL India, but I chose not to join them… mostly because the severance money was hard to run away from! Also because, I felt oddly optimistic. Sure, there was some sense of worry as to my future and parents pestering me saying that marriage proposals were going to hard to come by if I didn’t land another job soon. It didn’t matter, I felt I really had to move on. I was in a comfort zone for nearly 8 1/2 years and I never explored life outside of AOL.

But before all that, I went on a vacation. Yes, while others were sobbing over losing their jobs, many were prepping their resume for the eventual job hunt, I on the other hand booked a flight ticket to Philippines to use up some of my remaining leaves. That trip ended up being one of the best trips of my life!

I came back to office to see many of my co-workers already gone. Week after week the chairs began emptying up. The office got quieter. When my final day came, I was anxious, but when my boss accompanied me on the way out… when I swiped my access card for the last time… I had a smile on my face. Deep inside I knew I was a bit sad, but in my mind, I kept wondering if this change was a good thing.

I shared this photo on my Facebook page the day I left AOL

Four years later, I still reminisce about my years at AOL fondly. My friends are still around and we catch up often. But somehow I don’t miss the work. I don’t miss the office politics and least of all, I don’t miss the cafeteria food. I now work from home, I travel when I want, I play an active role in local politics hoping to bring change, and I eat home-cooked food saving a ton of money on a monthly basis.

It’s a change from a 9 to 5 job, but this is a change I welcome. So for those who are too afraid to make that change, I’d say, give it a shot. Chin up, look up, and you never know what’s waiting for you on the other side!

Feb 15

ASUS Indiblogger Meet in Bangalore — The first of 2015

Date: 30th January 2015

The first Indiblogger meet of 2015 was held right here in namma Bengaluru! It was sponsored by ASUS, who were promoting two of their their latest offerings — the ASUS All-In-One PC ET2040, and the latest model in their long-running netbook series, the ASUS Eeebook x205TA.

The venue was ITC Gardenia hotel, which is also played host to the Nokia Indiblogger Meet in 2012.

ITC Gardenia interiors Bangalore hotel

A lovely 5-star hotel

Asus Eeebook notebook demo

The ASUS Eeebook x205TA, MRP Rs. 14,999

Asus All-in-one PC Indiblogger event

This is the entry-level All-In-One PC from ASUS; costs Rs. 24,999

The event kicked off in typical Indiblogger fashion. Anup was MCing as usual, got us all warmed and a few bloggers then introduced themselves. Continue reading “ASUS Indiblogger Meet in Bangalore — The first of 2015” »

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