Then it happened! I received a call from Global placements in the month of September 2002.They informed me that I was selected and that I should send the passports of my family so that the Visa process can start.
As long as an important event is not forthcoming we are all relaxed. It is something that we anticipate but the event has not yet started. Once the event is eminent and close, there are butterflies in the stomach. There are worrying questions “what about my steady and regular job at CBIT. I am getting regular pay scales. I am well liked and adjusted to CBIT and its rules and regulations. Should I go to a place that gives a contract that too only for two years? What will happen if either the university or I don’t like each other? What will I do when I come back? Can I get a suitable job immediately? What about my children’s education”. My head was in a spin and my emotions and thoughts were wrung, knotted and tossed around just like clothes in a high speed washing machine.
My son Pranav Pratheek was seven years old and he was studying in Geetanjali Public school, a famous school located at Begumpet, Hyderabad. My daughter, Sai Sahithi was only two years old and she had not even gone to a preschool till that point of time.
My first port of call was Dr.Surendranath, my Brother-in-law and Pediatrician in our family. He laughed at our predicament and waved a green flag. He told us that all necessary vaccinations are done for Pranav and Sahithi. He said “why are you so worried? Haven’t I and Uma (Dr. M. Uma his wife and my elder sister) went to Yemen and spent four nice years. You should travel and learn”.
My father Sri M.C. Anjaneyulu and my mother Smt M. Hemalatha were pillars of strength. They encouraged and advised that we should go as a family. My Dad told me “Go and experience Ethiopia. You would get benefited immensely. There is so much to gain and you might not get another opportunity”.
My eldest sister Dr.M.Ramani and Eldest brother-in-law Dr.G.Venkatramana too were very supportive. They suggested that we carry a medical kit that will contain medicine for all common ailments. I remember my Sister Dr.M.Ramani telling me “you might not use many of the medicines that you carry and they are like insurance policies. It will give you peace of mind and you and Padma (my wife) will be relaxed mentally and will sleep well”.
My sister Dr.M.Ramani a well-known pathologist by profession, cautioned me and said that our entire family needs to take yellow fever vaccination. As yellow fever is prevalent in African countries, it is imperative that all visitors to African countries get themselves vaccinated for yellow fever.
My rock of Gibraltar was my wife M. Padmavathi, never complaining and always a cheerful lady. I tried telling her all the negative factors. Ethiopia is very far away, no telugu movies, no entertainment, primitive facilities, no friends, no Indian festivals, no Television, new place, we need to adjust, might not get good food, children education might suffer. But she was steadfast. All or nothing. All of us go or no one goes. I added dramatically “It is like taking a time machine and going back to the 50s. Like Hanumakonda or Ananthapur during the time of our parents”. But the rock would not Budge!
My final port of calling was Dr.P.Narayana Reddy, HOD of SMS, CBIT and my research guide. He laughed and said “why worry? Go ahead. As far as your PhD is concerned I will help you in any way that you need. Just see to it that your quarterly progress reports of research being conducted are sent to Osmania University in time”.
I was more or less convinced but there were some lingering doubts. My father sensing my confusion asked me to meet his friend Mr.S.N.Kanchhal. Mr.Kanchhal was the Director, Indo African Industrial Consultants based at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He stayed in road no 10, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad and I visited him. He had come down to India from Ethiopia on his annual vacation. He told me that he and his wife have stayed in Ethiopia for years. They have a business that was doing extremely well.
He and his wife received me and were astonished to know that I was in quandary. He told me “What young man, why are you so worried? Ethiopia is safe. Infact safer than India. Ethiopians love Indians. Addis Ababa where I stay has many Indians. Addis Ababa has an Indian school at Piazza. They follow the Indian CBSE school syllabus. Most Indian teachers register their children in the Indian school”.
He continued “You can coach your children at home and come to Addis Ababa and let them write their final examinations. Bahirdar is considered to be a very nice and lucky place. It is a dream destination for many Ethiopians themselves. The temperature is moderate; the university gives you all facilities. So I think that you should definitely go”. He thumped me on my shoulder and added jovially “Your Dad and me, we went to school barefoot. Your generation must have gone to school in a city bus. Later generations have gone to school in school buses, autos and cars. Voila, your two year old daughter will fly in an Aeroplane to write her kindergarten examinations”. I was awe struck at his wit and humour.
He cautioned me that Malaria is prevalent in Ethiopia and that I should take anti-malarial tablets. He also told me that the rice available in Ethiopia is of a varying quality and that it is not as fine as Indian rice. He asked me to take small quantities of Red Gram (Kandi Pappu), Tamarind and other Indian spices as they are not available in Ethiopia. He also advised me also to take a small pressure cooker. Jokingly he added “Better take some good Telugu and Hindi movie CDs. There is a paucity of Indian entertainment in Ethiopia”.
The die was cast. I have decided to travel to Ethiopia. There is no going back now.