Life@ISRO NRSC

With one eye closed, another half open I checked the caller name. Mom. I glanced at my wrist watch. It was still early morning. 0800 Hrs. she was probably calling me to wish me luck for my ‘job interview’ (if I may take the liberty of calling it so). I put the mobile on silent and went back to sleep. I didn’t needed luck, not that day. I knew exactly how my job interview was going to go. I knew my options and I knew what I will be opting for and what I will get. There couldn’t be much excitement when you are sure to get the job and know the city you will be placed in.

Two months later (almost two months later) I was in Hyderabad getting ready to go to my office. There was some excitement and a tinge of nervousness. First day of professional life. First day as a gazette class-A officer of the government of India. It felt nice.

After a lot of paper works and formalities we were sent to a senior scientist for the allocation of divisions. Though the senior scientist said, “It’s all Greek and Latin to me” after listening to our final year project topics, I guess ASD (Atmospheric Science Division) was the place I could have been placed in.

For the next three months our office proved to be the NRSC library, since there wasn’t enough space available in the old room and the new one was yet to be renovated. Those three months was a stupid time. It felt as if I was back in the college. Staying whole day in the library, reading a few books, some paper, chatting with friends on and off line and once in a while go and sleep in the last row of the library seating place (the only place inaccessible to the cameras). As the New Year started, things begin to settle a bit. We got a place to carry our work, a place we designed. I got a project to work and both Hyderabad and NRSC grew on me. Things weren’t still very settled. Every once in a while I would find myself searching or browsing for some data from one of the satellites of NASA or ESA. But at least there was a direction now, though a fuzzy one.

There is no visible pressure or the urgency to do a work, but I would be lying if I say that the job is easy. R&D activities rarely are. And then there is always this danger of your work coming to nothing. And that is exactly what happened. After 8 months of work, a number of frustrating discussions and explanations, running n number of various programs in m different ways and hell lot of discussions with various senior scientists it was finally proved that retrieval of the desired parameter from the proposed Indian satellite was not possible. Then came a limbo. There was a period when I had nothing to do, rather I did nothing. Most of the days I would sit in front of my workstation and simply browse.

It is the law of average I guess. I was so free at some point and now I barely get a relaxed breathe in the office. Working on 4 different project is never an easy task, especially when you are yet to complete two years in your job. And last two months has been ridiculously hectic. Meetings, discussions, more meetings and then the R&D activities. I have continuously stayed back after 1730 Hrs. (the normal office closing time) and very often had to come to office on weekends in order to finish some of the weekday works.

The life has been easy though. The group director understands that we are no expert in the field of atmospheric science (or any field for that matter) and hence is very patient and supportive. But the absence of any expert dampens the pace of the progress considerably.

As for the work environment, I can’t say there is absolute freedom but the originality is appreciated and new approach is encouraged.  I guess that is what makes ISRO different from other government organization.

Life outside the office has been pretty good too. Hyderabad with all its beauty and history grows on you. And when you have friends and seniors accompanying you, the life only gets easier.

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