The British Asian Blog

Life as it is @tbablog

Tag: India

Elusive PhD

Recently, I’ve had a 3 letter word allot on my mind – it doesn’t, for once, begin with an ‘S’ and end with an ‘X’ (joke intended).  It begins with ‘P’ and ends with a ‘D’.  Yup – that’s right it’s my PhD research.

I bet many of you have probably forgotten that as well as everything else, I am, still, a (part-time) PhD research student and if you didn’t know – now you do.  Majority of you, I know, don’t have a ephemeral memory – thank god.

One main reason why I’ve been away, especially from this blog-platform, is purely because of my PhD.  I realised and it hit me hard, while I was in India (business-pleasure vacation) (Dec 2013 to Jan 2014) during a Skype meeting with my University supervisor, that I needed to scale down my travelling dramatically, especially seen that I am now entering a critical demesne phase of my research – the dreaded practical lab work.

I use the word ‘lab’ loosely (and you can probably see the academic PhD language coming out here) as it covers a multiple areas including recording the physical behaviour of subjects (which is another academic/scientific name for human beings) including their vital signs.

In a perfect world:

  • I’d be able to complete my ethical approval request with ease (by the way is a thesis in itself).
  • Submit it to the University ethical approval department.
  • Where the ethical approval board/committee would meet, sit and approve it in record time.
  • Which would then be forwarded and thus allowing me to repeat the same process again but this time to the public healthcare service (trying to avoid using the name here but you might just get the idea).
  • Who would meet, sit and approve again in record time and I’d be on my way to the next step.

However, and unfortunately, the world I live in isn’t so damn perfect, and having submitted my ethical approval request (or rather thesis) for the second time earlier this year, I am yet to hear the verdict (either its granted or more information is required) – talk about wanting this to be more cynosure.  I have, however, been assured, after knocking on a few doors, that a response will be with me soon.  In an academic dictionary the word ‘soon’ has no definition (according to me).

Once I have the ethical approval from both the University and public healthcare service, I will then need to spend a considerable amount of time, close to about a year, with subjects (remember real human beings) where I can perform some activities with and record their behaviour (from both close proximity and long distance) thus fusing together technology and medicine to help subjects with various forms of clinical illnesses.  I was told during this time by my supervisor that I will be mentoring some final year under graduate students – a total of 3.  I asked “do I have a choice?” he laughed and after a long pause replied “No”.  I then said to him “give me all female students, or, let me pick my 3 students”.  He responded with a raised eyebrow.

So I guess you kind of get the idea of what I mean by lab work.

On this very blog, excluding the other two (remember I do have two more blogs where I’m the author and run with the help of a team) I haven’t talked much about my PhD research other than mentioning it very briefly in my ‘about me’ section.  I don’t want you guys to get the impression that I’ve suddenly woken up in the middle of the night and said “damn, I have a PhD research to do” which in a panicking fashion led me to manufacture this blog post.

The fact is that I have been hard at work and it hasn’t been just a dalliance or halcyon approach.

Not only handling my business(es), a newly started venture (well by that I mean just over a year old venture), existing property development and expanding my portfolio, travelling and career in the healthcare sector, I have been engaged in studying and making a conscious effort in doing so.  Having an apartment in Leeds and Knightsbridge London where I tend to stay during the week and where I commute between the two, and a home (an actual house) in a nice part of Leeds, it can become extremely challenging and imbroglio to study everyday, especially since my study and research material is scattered and can be anywhere (Leeds or London) along with my equipment and journals/papers.  In the past it has been a tremendous amount of pain in the backside having settled down to study only to realise I’ve left something behind at my last location.  So now I have to ensure that no matter where I am, intend to stay, travel to, or how I travel – I need to take with me everything (books, equipment, laptop(s), journals, research papers and more books) even when travelling to Florida or India for vacation – Yes it’s been that crazy.

Speaking about India, on my last visit to India I screwed up by leaving a large about of study material (all very important) at the apartment of my acquaintance.  Although we had spent plenty of time together she ended up in Maldives with her family (a break well deserved considering how hard she had performed worked) and during the 2014 New Year celebrations she ventured off to New York, which meant my study material was locked at her apartment as I headed home – but thank god, after having scraped myself off the ceiling and virtually crying to her over a Skype call, once I got back home in the UK she arranged for the material to be DHL’d and was back with me in around 10 days.  You see, no matter where I am, or go, I am still a student.  My acquaintance in India finds it fascinating that I am so dedicated to so many things in my life and she doesn’t falter in constantly reminding me – especially when, at times, she has woken up 4am and found me studying in a surreptitious fashion outside the bedroom in her kitchen only to look at me slightly bemused and left scratching her head as to the sight of me scattered all over her kitchen.  She is right and I am totally dedicated.  Once I’ve committed to something I need to see it through come what may?  I’m just like that.

My supervisor, who I need to see desperately face to face as oppose to Skype and phone, is always concerned about my progress and at times does give desultory and evocative hints.  He’s not the only one – I am too.  With so much to do, read, work on, plan and discuss he finds that I am all of the place, by that he means physically not academically (I hope).  The truth is, when I first embarked on this PhD path, part time study was my personal choice – why – because it allowed me to keep a balance between family, life, business, money, work and everything else.  Yes, being full time ‘could have’ meant finishing my PhD research allot quicker, but imagine what else I would have missed out on?  So, when he complains I am left scratching my head (even on Skype) thinking “well you knew I was going to be all over the place – hence why I did it part time”.  I have to, however, remember and take into account his concerns, after all he is a Professor as well as my supervisor, and has seen it all before and knows the signs of when someone is on the path of screwing up badly.  So to ensure I am not going to screw up I have made some extremely critical and vital decisions, all which aid me in becoming more of a research student (that too at a PhD level) and less of a – well – everything else I’m known as.  My cohorts on campus find it funny and amusing that I arrive on campus in a large four wheel drive, suited up and carry a briefcase (yes  I do, I’m old school) and a rucksack.  Other than to the cohort I appear to be a young lecturer of some kind (as the old folk usually appear to be wearing a 20 year old cream/brown coded trousers, a jumper and a 20 year old bottle green jacket).  The truth is, I’m just another student on campus who 1) hasn’t had the time to get changed into something-more-student-like-wear or 2) simply can’t be asked getting changed from Professional into something unprofessional clothing.

I embarked onto this PhD research, not because I didn’t know what to do after I graduated with a Masters, or because I need to up my qualifications to get a better career, the fact is, I have a good career, I own and run multiple businesses with good (outrageous) turnover, I have no money worries.  My PhD research was a ebullience challenge I set myself – and despite having contemplated quitting a couple of times – I know how important it is for me to complete it.

As my father once said, before he left me at the gates of my boarding school – somewhere in Berkshire “Son, remember, don’t trail and track money – trail and track your passion”, and so, this one statement has guided me to where I am today.

Once I’m in I’m in.

Note:  This post was written via a iPad and my smart phone – both I find unconventional in writing and churning out such material, so if you find lack of creativity or errors than please do excuse me, I can only get better while using such technology and tools.

Life is a darling adventure, or nothing!

Just a quick note:

I know I’ve been absent lately from blogging – I’m sorry.  I haven’t blogged as much as I liked to and I have my valid reasons why.  If this blog was an actual human being – I’d probably have had a number of fights due to neglecting him/her.  I’d prefer it to be a ‘her’.

Unfortunately, this little note is to add to my absence from this platform for a little while longer – well five weeks to be precise.

That’s right; I’m hours away from embarking on a long business holiday, where the first leg is a (series of connecting) flight from London-Heathrow to Florida.  In theory Florida is my official first holiday home.  The plan is to spend four nights there, mainly to complete outstanding ownership paperwork.  Once done, I’ll be heading to Bangalore, India.  There I’ll stay till September 16th.  Long time – Yes I know and it’s purely intentional and desired.

Most of you will know why I am engaged in India so much.  I wrote about it here, an earlier post back in December 2012 about Change.  In short, I have business interests out in India, a place where I find to be another great place for opportunity.

The business venture which I have been working on with my acquaintance from South Asia was launched in the UK on July 31st and August the 1st.  My acquaintance, although in London for another project, managed to pull it off remarkably well and to perfection and it all it went extremely well. The soft launch had already been in flow few months earlier.  My visit to India is to complete this launch and this will be my final stage of launching the venture.

The hard work will then start.

This venture isn’t about producing a product or selling to a mass market.  It is, in fact, a service for a new elite group of young people who have a ‘seven figure disposable income’ and who reside around the world.  Since the soft launch to the day we went live in London, this venture has exceeded all expectations.

So what does all this mean:  Well, in short, it means I won’t be available from next couple of hours (8pm today) until 16th September.  My personal phone will be switched off for this duration and my international number will be used instead.  It also means that I won’t be blogging during this time, well, I think I wont, but if there appears to be an opportunity then I may drop a line or two.  That said, I do, however, like to switch on my twitter GPS and location option – so you guys can check out where I am – so watch out for my tweets.

When I get to India, and in the care of my acquaintance it will be more hard work to get the final stage of the venture live.  This, I’m sure, will go as well as it did in London.

…and on that note, I wish you all the best and I hope to catch up with you guys sometime soon.

Remember:  Life is a darling adventure, or nothing!

Rapid Progress: Leeds, London to Bangalore and Mumbai

I’m less than 24 hours away from flying out to India only while being back from India less than 3 months.  This is what I call ‘rapid progress’ and why shouldn’t it be, as time is of essence as always.  You may recall, I wrote about change in my life and the reasons why I am now engaged in business in India.  This visit to India is going up another stage for the venture I am involved in.

Now that this will be my third visit to India in less than two years means that I have already established a solid base and network in India – and I must extol thanks to my acquaintance who has put her heart and mind in accommodating me and in ensuring that all my expectations, requirements and desires are met both personally and for the venture we both are involved in.  Our relationship has grown ever so strong, more so recently, and on that basis our foundations together are becoming more and more solid by the day – what does help is the exchange of large amount of cash from both parties to kick start this venture literally done on verbal agreement, despite my banking portfolio-manager raising his eyebrow at the arrangement.  Had either one of us been dealing with someone else, verbal agreement would never cross our minds but a written agreement, so the trust element of our relationship is at an all time high.

My stay in India will be mostly business with some pleasure, and I hope my stay there for 8 nights mainly in Prabhadevi with some travelling to other cities back and forth will be enough to complete some objectives – mainly getting the ball rolling for recruiting staff for our new venture.  It’s going to be a tough task.  The elite customer base (who have to go through a stringent vetting process) has now topped 4,600 members only in Bangalore and Mumbai alone not to mention numbers in other cities like Delhi or cities in UK and US.  This is prior to our launch date pencilled in for July this year and well before a marketing strategy has been designed, let alone advertising this new venture through a series of private clubs and networks.  This achievement is a mini success.  Something I predicted when we discussed this venture prior to my involvement.

I must say it’s amazing how the word of mouth along with the reputation of my acquaintance in India can achieve all this effortlessly.

So the recruitment drive, in my view, is a big deal.  Any progress in this space needs to be right the first time.  Once this is well under way in India, a similar recruitment drive will be conducted here in the UK.  I guess in the UK it’s more stress-free or less stressful, especially when the various recruitment agencies are prepared to do all the donkey work for you.

This week also completes two months of working in London.  If you are up to date with my change post written prior to my last visit to India in December 2012, you will know the reasons of why I relocated from working in Leeds to London and in particular Vauxhall where I continue with my existing career and Knightsbridge where the offices for the new venture has been established.  The lifestyle change meant that in the New Year, once I got back from spending the entire December of 2012 in India, I had to continue with my existing career and establish a firm base for our new venture, but from London.

It’s been an interesting change with new experiences and where some experiences stretched far longer than what I’d experienced previously.  Travelling by train from Leeds to Kings Cross every Monday morning, then to return on a Thursday afternoon/evening each week for two months has been an interesting experience.  It’s my preferred method of travelling between Leeds and London, where the alternatives are to either drive or fly between both locations.  I’ve tried all three options but I do prefer the train commute, the very least it gives me just over 2 hours of much needed productivity time where I can conduct my business and attend matters which require my attention, where otherwise isn’t available with the other travel options.

Travelling by train between Leeds and London, I have experienced some interesting encounters with people, most are worthy of a dedicate post – like for example, the two teenage girls sitting opposite me on the first class cabin seeking advice from me on their trouble teenage relationships and then having to speak to another girl friend of theirs over the phone to repeat my advice, or the gay guy who burst into tears after falling out with his boyfriend over the phone and then confiding in me the whole duration from London to Leeds, to the racist chap thinking he was a smart arse who I then shredded into fine bits after he made a racist remark to a black student on the train or to the Australian women who was convinced I was a close friend of her ex husband and that I was following her.

The relocation during the week to London has meant having to sell both of my cars in January.  As part of my relocation to London I have been given a company car, this for the time being is sufficient for me to drive around.  It also gives me the opportunity to order a new 4×4 on a 2013 registered plate with my personal choice of colour (Diamond White), interior and gadgets which is scheduled for delivery come end of April this year.

So, with this rapid progress, I bid you farewell for a short while and I hope to catch up with you guys once I touch base in India in two days time.

Pakistan vs India

This post isn’t about a cricket game between these two great nations, although I wish it was.  It’s very unfortunate that I start the year with a blog post of such nature, but I feel I need to express my views on a situation which potentially can escalate out of control.

India and Pakistan – The British Asian Blog

In the last few days, tension between India and Pakistan has risen to a dangerous level, and the dangerous level between these two nuclear armed neighbours could potentially escalate into a regional war and bring further insecurity to this region.

I have returned from India just this weekend, after spending the entire December in Bangalore and Mumbai.  This news first popped up on the radar on Sunday, when I was about to fly out of Bangalore to Manchester via a complicated-connecting flights, and instantly I realised that this was news that is likely to escalate, especially the way the media in India was so aggressively reporting.

India and Pakistan have lived together as one nation peacefully before.  If it wasn’t for the ‘border’ which divides this nation into two – I believe these two countries (as one) would/could have been a serious contender for the worlds ‘next super power’.  But you see, those who occupied India (the British) new of its potential and what it had to offer – fearing what could or can become in the future, they decided that while they made preparations to leave – they would leave a gift for this nation, a gift which would simply keep their power, focus and attention concentrated in its own territory forgetting about the rest of the world.  This great gift came into two parts – the first part of the gift was the border and the second part of the gift was Kashmir.

Since the British exited from India, their gift to this nation has done exactly what they expected it to do.  The border has divided a nation into two and Kashmir has been a place where both sides will not lose at any cost.

The recent events along the line of control between Pakistan and India has made me nervous – especially in the sense of what this can lead to if either side refuses to back down or avoid escalation of the issue.  Now, some may argue that India started this aggression and provoked Pakistan into reacting others may argue that it was Pakistan who first crossed the line of control (LOC) into India – and to be fair, neither side will gain anything positive out of this but those who gifted this nation the border are probably sat back, sipping a cup of tea and having a laugh at the expense of India and Pakistan.

I don’t want to see these two great nations, armed to the teeth, ready to rip each other apart.  I don’t want to see the development of both nations hindered to its borders when the world has become a smaller place.  I definitely don’t want to see sectarian and religious violence to erupt especially since all religions have co-existed peacefully for centuries and the very fact that all religions in the region are prospering to this very day is a testament in itself of peaceful co-existence between them.

As a British Asian, I find it difficult to stomach how these two nations have been divided and that the only things which have come out of it are brutality, war, instability and arrogance.

Let there be love for two brothers separated by a wall.

2012: Year in Review ‘no end’

It wasn’t so long ago, that I was reviewing year 2011 – and for the life of me I can’t work out where a whole year has gone.  I now write a review (in the shortest way possible) for year 2012.

Firstly and most importantly:  All praise is to the Lord above, who has yet again blessed me and continues to do so.  Not only do I remember ‘you my Lord’ for when times are hard and for when in trouble or for when evil surrounds me, but for when you bestow upon me happiness and success in wherever my focus goes, and for this, ‘I am ever indebted to you my Lord’.

With all new chapters and new starting points in life, I like to start with a little prayer.  The previous paragraph is my attempt to say thank you to my Lord.  In my view, words cannot express the humbleness, gratitude and appreciation that I have for everything in my life.  It’s easy to fall into a habit of calling upon the Lord in hardship and when in trouble, but it’s hard to remain focused and thank the Lord for when we are happy, successful and trouble free, and this, in my view, is key.

As I write this post on my iPad, the time is 7:50pm here in Mumbai.  I’m, alone, in probably the highest building which has an open top roof bar.  I’m sat in Aer Lounge, in what is known as ‘Sunset Happy Hour’ at the 34th floor open air lounge in Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai.  I’ve made this a place which I visit regularly; at least every 2nd or 3rd day – and I love this place.  In fact, I am in love with India, with Mumbai, and with the hustle and bustle of the city (but not the crazy traffic during peak hours, honestly, I thought the traffic in Leeds was bad).  More about India in future posts.

I’ve just witnessed the sunset from this jaw dropping view.  I’ve sat here on this very spot probably about 12 times in the past 4 weeks – but today I came here alone, without my acquaintance or with my new friends that I have made here in Mumbai.  Today’s sunset was a different one.  It reminded me of how 2012 came and went, and it’s given me an opportunity to reflect on the highs and lows of 2012.

Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with my highs and lows for 2012, but what I will say is this:

2012 has been a year of great challenges.  I have deliberately made some tough decisions in pretty much all aspects of my life.  You could say, I deliberately and consciously decided to walk on a path that has been less treaded on, knowing that the journey via this route is unpredictable, more stressful and more dangerous, but I know the reward and satisfaction in the end is invaluable against the grave risks I have decided to take.

As for 2013, well, I know for sure that this year will be more challenging than 2012 or 2011 ever was or double of what I experienced last year.  I accept that.  I am willing to accept the challenges for this year and do what I do best ‘fight on’.

This blog will be the gateway for me to echo what is happening, the challenges I am facing and what I get up to. This blog in itself is yet another challenge for 2013, as I’m sure most of you will agree with me that finding the time to blog is a challenge in our busy and bustling lifestyles.  What keeps me energised and enthusiastic to continue blogging is you guys.  I have met some great bloggers and some fantastic people from all around the world through blogging – it is you guys that fuel me in continuing to share my stories, experiences and views.  You may or may not agree with my views and opinions but we are a community and I’m glad to be part of it.

With that I’d like to wish all of you a happy New Year.

Good Bye 2012 and Welcome 2013.

%d bloggers like this: