Each episode is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. In season 3 we talk to graduates about going back. But is it back to the beginning or back to the future? In this episode we meet 2019 English graduate Ashank Chandra and chat spontaneity, silver linings, and dealing with external expectations.
Ashank Chandra is a professional trainer and facilitator working in the ESL field. He is particularly interested in the relationship between the brain and language learning, language rules, and how children and adults learn unconsciously.
Whether it is returning home after graduation, returning to Edinburgh after adventures elsewhere, or just returning to a place that felt like the past but turned out to be the future, season 3 of Multi Story Edinburgh explores how going back is never life in reverse.
All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh.
Multi Story Edinburgh has been created and produced by the Alumni Relations team at the University of Edinburgh. If you are interested in telling your story, please get in touch and let's talk.
Music: Since When by Mise Darling from freemusicarchive.org
Artwork: Vector created by vectorjuice / Freepik
Voiceover 0:11 This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season three, back to the beginning or back to the future?
Ashank 0:24 So right now I'm in New Delhi, India, I'm in the southern part of the city, I live with my parents. It's an apartment. I was born and raised in the same city.
Voiceover 0:35 Ashank Chandra. 2019 English graduate.
I was in Edinburgh for almost a year and a half. After that I was in Russia for almost six months. And then I came back here.
I don't mind working in India right now - it's-- it's quite fun, because of course, you're around the people. And most of my work usually involves me not working with the people from my country. But working with people from across the globe, because I teach English as a second language. So I work with different different nationalities. I usually work with people from Japan, Thailand, the Middle East, the UAE, of course, and some bits from Europe, of course. So that's what my major work area is.
In terms of how I feel about that, I feel really good to be honest, because I get to eat all the good food that I missed while I was away from the country. And, of course, I get to see my parents, I get to see my friends that I grew up with. I know the place - we go out to pubs, we hang out. And yeah, of course, I mean, I do miss the fact that I couldn't explore a new country. I think the greater part is that I'm still having fun, nonetheless.
The intentions were a bit different. So the intentions were to find work elsewhere, probably Edinburgh, if not Edinburgh, somewhere else. And I did find work which was in Mexico. So I came back to India to file a visa and then eventually leave the country and then go to Mexico for work, but COVID hit. So all the plans were were not quite as implemented as I had thought. And, yeah, that's why I decided to be home, be with my parents, take care of myself and them, and work in the country.
I was definitely looking forward to going to Mexico, but at the same time, I'm a more of a spontaneous person. So it's okay if it didn't work out, because it was for the greater good. I mean, every time I think about that, I only think or say to myself that if I were in Mexico, and-- and COVID had hit after that, I would possibly be in a worst mental state thinking about my parents, you know, there's no one back there to take care of them. So I think the silver lining was sort of that I was home. And if it's meant to be I can-- I can go back to Mexico once things settle down, and you know, can do a fresh start from there.
I never associated myself as truly being someone from India, both the cultural value-- values, as well as the whole process of identification or identifying yourself with the country, it was never too strong for me. So while I was away, both in Russia than Edinburgh, I felt more home in those two countries than I feel back in India. So I think that was a reverse mechanism for me individually speaking.
I loved the people in Edinburgh, I loved the cities, I loved the food, the entire experience was quite fun and more relatable to my personality and how I am as person, Moscow was a little less in comparison, of course, but I think the main reason for that was because there's a lot of cultural difference, you know, people are still quite Orthodox, the whole LGBT community is quite orthodox at the same time. So, you know, you couldn't be that open. Having said that, coming back to India, I can see the development and in terms of how they're progressing as a society, but there's still a long way for us to go.
I don't think my sense of community or belongingness to the country became stronger. It was the other way around. For me, I felt more distant from my country.
The reason I feel a bit disconnected is because the usual aspirations of people in the country are quite different from mine. The way of thinking is, is a bit different, doesn't really match. So yeah, the expectations of the society is completely different. And that sort of weighs you down. For example, I mean, it's India, it's quite common for everyone, especially men to be married before 30, 31. I'm almost ranging in the same age group. So a lot of my relatives, sometimes they tell me to get married, and yeah, it's kind of silly for them to bring it up, despite me telling them that I'm not in the right frame of mind to go through that process at the moment.
There are people, relatives, friends of friends, my old students who have come back and they sort of need my help again. So it always feels nice that you are in a place where you can just not contribute to your self learning and improve that, but also help other people grow, sort of quantify their learning capabilities, and then what they're learning. A lot of my students have gone abroad to study and they all needed IELs as like a basic requirement to get into the university that they hoping for. And after they take the exam, they come back to me, and they're really happy that they sort of qualified for it. And now they can sort of start their journey and then go to a new country. So that feels amazing.
There were some people who thought that my sense of comparison was quite high. When I came back from the UK, I had a sense of comparison for almost everything, comparing the people, comparing the languages, comparing cultures, almost everything was, you know, being compared.
I was always very independent, but I had become more independent living abroad. So that was something that a lot of people had commented on. Of course, me talking about my experience abroad, and the cities that I had lived in was something that a lot of people were not really keen on. Because sure, as an experience, I understand that because I had lived that experience as information, they could hear it once, they could hear it twice, but they can't hear the same experience time and again, which did happen in my case, because I love talking about it.
I am not much of a planner. But yes, hopefully, intending to leave the country and probably live elsewhere, not in just one place, but in different places. Depending on where my job takes me, as far as, you know, stability is concerned, I always wanted to come back to India, because, I mean, I do feel some sort of connection, which I did not feel before. So I would love to work in different countries for the time being, maybe for the next five years, 10 years, whatever that time may be, and then eventually come back to India, and then, you know, sort of have my own school or something. So that's the plan.
Voiceover 7:10 We also asked our guests to tell us about a place somewhere local, somewhere that kind of captures something important, something worth sharing.
Ashank 7:23 Ladakh is in the northern part of the country, it's in north India. The topography or the terrain would be hilly cold, very, very cold, of course. It's at a very high altitude so the levels of oxygen are not great, but it's something that you should definitely visit, especially if you're young and wild, and you want to have an adventure of your lifetime. I think you will not experience anything like that anywhere in the world. Because first, I think the whole experience is very Tibetan. People from Tibet are quite prominently living in these, you know, areas. So Buddhism as as a culture is something that you would find both in terms of food as well as in their daily lives.
And I think the pace of life is extremely slow, people would spend hours just climbing up the mountain to reach their houses and make a cup of tea, for example. And that sort of experience is not something that you would find in a fast paced city like Delhi or London, for example, or any of the metro cities around the globe. So if you want to just take a moment, you know, soak in the moment and you know, enjoy every second of life, that would be the place that I would explore.
I make sure that I go there once every year, because that's like a rejuvenation spot. All the detox can happen there. I can spend a week and then I am good to go for the next year and I don't have to think about any nastiness or any-- any-- any negative thoughts that might be. The-- that place sort of heals you in ways that you can't imagine. So yeah, I definitely visit that once once a year for sure, if not more.
Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story
Transcribed by https://otter.ai