Life of “Jai”


It’s the tale of two mugs, from the life of an ordinary Indian boy who swam to distant lands he never knew!

The first one – the orange mug – reads “Delectable Caterer”! It was presented to me by the lovely ladies – Betty and Pat, two of them, if I remember correctly – at the kitchen of GNH (Greensborough Nursing Home), an old age home near Bundoora, VIC.

I treasure it as one of my precious gifts. On the last day of my work as a kitchen-hand there, they surprised me with this mug and a song – “He’s a jolly good fellow..”. I worked there as a kitchen-hand for an year and a half, because I couldn’t find a job as a priest in Melbourne, but still had to pay my enormous international student fees at the university. I was doing three jobs at the same time sometime while I was doing my masters in IT at RMIT. One job at the nursing home as a kitchen-hand, one at a religious shop as a teller and third as a tutor at the university. That was a great adventure and a huge lesson in humility.  I cannot forget the support I received from CMI congregation, back in Kochi and from the kind Carmelites (O Carm) in Melbourne, who allowed me to stay with them. Also grateful to people like Thomas John, Ann De Costella (of Southern Cross Church Supplies- the mother of Canberra’s own legendary athlete Deeks!) and my good old friend Manoj Antony who in the very first place lured me to Melbourne, to start this adventure!

The second one – the white mug – reads “Australian National University”. The day I submitted the hard-copy of my PhD thesis at the university’s exams office, the lady asked me “pen or a mug?”. It’s a tradition to present the successful candidate with either of them and I didn’t have to think twice to answer – “A mug, please” – because I knew the value of a mug.

It was an amazing run. The minor thesis I did at RMIT fetch me two technical papers and I was offered PhD scholarships at RMIT and ANU. It was hard for me to leave Melbourne, but was happy to do research  in supercomputing at one of the best 20 universities in the world. The best thing about my research – it was to help scientists to do their work much faster and easier, the best a Catholic priest can offer to the world. Its faith that fosters science and there’s no Two, only One – Advaitha. I had my own struggles – after an year and a half into my PhD, I came to realize that the software I was working was not suitable for the purpose. I literally had to re-engineer it from scratch – nearly 20,000 lines of codes. Holy Code! Then the emergence of Cloud Computing and successfully convincing my supervisor to change the course of my research to accommodate this new technology into my work! And now, here I am, with the two mugs! The PhD is through with all the three examiners evaluating it positively, almost unconditionally. What a run. And in this tale of providence, there emerges God – “Life of Jai”.


pat-bettyThis rare photo was unearthed from my collection only recently. With the team at GNH.

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PhD Graduation ceremony at ANU.

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