Barely out of his teens, Rishab Suresh has already raked up the miles as he scales one frontier after another. While he has made new friends along the way and heard fascinating tales, he shares with Dr. John Patrick Ojwando how the exposure has had a profound effect on him and shaped his outlook on life.
Be it stories from his home city or experiences gathered from India’s capital and distant Ethiopia, Rishab Suresh has felt the passion and struggles of common people across two continents. And just as most children feign, Rishab too nurtured a dream early in his formative years. Buoyed perhaps by an endearing hospitality, rich culinary experience and mouth-watering sea-food delicacies that the coastal city of Calicut in Kerala harbours, his oft-repeated aspiration was to become a famed chef. Then something changed.
“Soon, I became realistic in life and discovered that such ambitions remain what they are, dreams!” Rish or Shanku, as he is fondly referred to, has since registered for his engineering course at the School of Engineering Technology (SET) of Jain (Deemed- to-be University) and believes he is settling nicely into his groove to chart a career as an engineer while his sibling has registered for a degree course in business administration. And he is relishing every moment of his latest sojourn. “Before packing my bags to come to Bengaluru, I did a comprehensive research on higher institutions in the country and JAIN was an interesting prospect, more so in the domain of engineering,” he says.
Having lived in different parts of India and abroad, Rishab already had some insights on life in Bengaluru. All that was left for him was to complete his preparations, make the trip to the city, report to the campus, submit his school credentials and make the requisite payments before completing formalities for hostel residence. That he did this summer, when on an uncharacteristically chilly Calicut morning, he boarded the bus destined for Bengaluru; his new home for the next couple of years.
Even then, nothing really prepared him for what was to unfold. “I came here to discover something different, learn in an interesting city and feel the pulse of people with a great history. I like how people think here but I was initially overwhelmed just looking at this expansive campus,” he recalls. “I realised that walking to my class from other parts of the campus would take almost fifteen minutes.”
Rishab also revealed that despite being a totally new place, he has often gone about his daily routine without being made to feel like an outsider. “The diversity on campus is real with students drawn from different parts of the country and abroad,” he says. “This makes living and studying on the campus a unique learning experience. When you can go about your task unhindered, it is a great feeling. The facilities on offer are really nice and students have access to all that they need for studies,” he adds.
In recent weeks, Rishab has been relishing the long walks around the campus and its inviting spaces as he goes about his daily routine. If there are any regrets, it was the early days when he struggled to adjust to the new dishes on campus and being called upon to stand on his own. Ever so grateful for the opportunity to pursue his academic interests, the exposure in foreign shores has helped shape his personality in many ways. “I have become sound when it comes to managing my personal finances,” he says. “I did endure a difficult start to life at the campus. But I found a way to get along fine by planning and tracking my expenditure and now I am totally at peace.”
Settling in a culturally diverse state like Karnataka has come with a fair share of pleasant surprises. Already, some events have endeared his adopted state to Rishab. “I was part of the recently organised Dandiya nite and the event will always remain in my memory,” he says. “I am soaking in every bit of life here and look forward to many more such cultural convergences.”
So what are the other things that are helping him chart his path in the next chapter of his life? Talking to Rishab, and some of the people who know him better, the picture you envisage is that of an ambitious and determined youngster, spurred on by the challenges that life keeps throwing on his path and a person whose focus is to do extremely well in his chosen discipline.
But it could all have been different if it was not for his sound upbringing and the exposure in different settings. “The early years were really hard on me since as a family we were constantly on the move. Born in Calicut, Rishab’s parents moved to New Delhi even before he had settled in to the second year of his schooling. It was soon time to move on to another place, this time flying over the Indian Ocean right into the city of Addis Ababa, the capital of the African nation of Ethiopia.
The years before, he recalls, posed their own hurdles in making adjustments to the newer demands of life, being thrown into new cultures and accompanying changes of schools’ syllabuses. “Every school and place had its own charm,” he says. “If in India the focus was more on studies with sports relegated in the background, Ethiopia was the direct opposite,” he reflects. Studying at an international school in Ethiopia brought him into contact with people from diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds. “I guess these phases helped shape my personality to who I am today, more adaptable and accommodative,” he acknowledges.
That was then; Rishab has now set himself up to absorb the new – in Bengaluru. The campus has made a lasting impression on him straight away.
“The biggest obstacle would have been language but the campus being a multi-cultural one has eased that feeling,” he acknowledges. “I am just happy that my career has taken off and my goals could soon be realised.”
But that path to his destination could be a long drawn one and he is always reminded that hard work is the only route to success. His will, desire and drive will surely back him to that end.