I stopped working in February 2020 to take a break and travel before
starting the Cambridge MBA programme. And then we all know what happened!
Over the Summer before the MBA year started, our amazing friends from the cohort planned a number of virtual activities, from weekly virtual networking and hangouts, to glimpses of Cambridge thanks to classmates Tripti Gawankar and Chaitanya Nallaparuju, to the Cambridge Judge Against Covid (CJAC) initiative with Hendrik Westerink and also consultancy projects at global giant ARM with Ruishi Shen. Time went by quickly with their help and the start of term was right around the corner.
Before coming to the UK, I never really got a chance to travel outside India. I was increasingly becoming anxious about coming here alone, especially during a pandemic. Shortly after, I discovered that one of my future cohort, Chaitanya Nallaparuju, was going to be at the same Cambridge College – Sydney Sussex – so we planned our travel together.
On arrival in Cambridge the mandatory quarantine period didn’t feel lonely because he was around and then another class mate, Ben Olsen, also joined us after a few days. We had a great time – cooking for each other, playing games in the College garden and not doing any of the recommended pre-readings!
But among all this, I also had the biggest personal breakthrough of my life. As a closeted gay person in India, I lived most of my life trying to be as unnoticeable as possible and staying mostly in the background. I wanted to use my MBA year as a point in my life to start fresh. But it wasn’t easy.
I pushed myself and responded to a message that Matthew Hou (Military Personnel Scholarship recipient) posted to the class looking for people to organise a diversity focused conference during the Michaelmas Term. As I spoke to the people driving that initiative – Matthew Hou, Claudia Chau, Nicole Advani and Rae Yung, I started to become more comfortable with my sexuality and everything that this entailed.
This led to a conversation with my class mate, Chaitanya Nallaparuju, where I came out to him and then he slowly helped me tell my other friends and be more open about it.
While I still feel scared and unsure about the journey, I am incredibly grateful to be at a place where almost every person has been so warm, supportive, and just amazing. I feel so safe and lucky to be somewhere where I can learn so much from everyone around me.