The Monk who knew Data Science – a 100 Days Challenge

This is the story about Piyush,29, Senior Data Scientist at Imagine Incorporation and myself, Pihu,24, Junior Data Scientist at the same organization. This is about the journey of Piyush once he retired from his job, after being unsatisfied with the way his career was moving ahead. Be with Piyush and Pihu to understand Data Science and Machine Learning.

Chapter 1 – The Last Mail

Date – August 11, 2018

Piyush was never like this. I had very limited interaction with him before he moved out of the organization. It was a surprise exit, no cake, no hustle, no farewell. It’s just that he stood up, put his card on the table, the same way he used to do it regularly before going for a smoke, only this time he did not return. We came to know about his resignation after he formally sent one last mail.

For the next couple of days, we tried reaching out to him, but without any success. No Whatsapp, no facebook, no insta story.

It has been 6 months since that mail. Sometimes, We used to wonder where he is nowadays, but there was no trace.
Meanwhile, I was promoted to the post of Data Scientist and was enjoying my work.
I was happy in my monotonous life, every day was scripted, you go to the office at 10 am, read the emails, reply to whatever is urgent, bug and debug issues, chai-sutta and retire for the day. If you think the weekdays were monotonous, lend your ears for the weekend routine.
Leave office at 10 pm on every Friday, go home and smoke up/drink or fill the stomach with something hefty, pass out at around 3 in the morning.
Wake up late, laundry, some exercise and a strong cup of evening coffee with my boyfriend Aman, a man with a passion for reforming the society (Naah..He is not important in the story :P). He will keep coming in the picture whenever you need entertainment in the monotonous book !! Saturday nights were mostly occupied with a movie, either with friends or Netflix.
Sundays used to start with the fear of a whole working week creeping in. So, the complete day used to revolve around groceries, bills, and chills.

This was my routine since Sept’15 when I graduated as a Computer Science Engineer and was employed at the current organization.

It was July’18, a month before he left, when I had my first interaction with Piyush, a well-to-do, self-centered young fellow always keeping to himself.

We used to talk occasionally, but with this limited interaction also I can easily feel why he was the most respected employee of the company. The way he used to articulate his understanding of Data Science was nothing less than phenomenal.

I had always aspired to be a good Data Scientist and was doing decently at my job, but, but something was missing. I was not even half satisfied with my knowledge about the domain. I always wanted to excel but was not even close to the plethora of knowledge yet to acquire.

Chapter 2 – The Pub

Date – March 14,2019

Half-past 4, I was strolling outside the tech park, completely exhausted with the repetitive work. Just before I took the last sip of that lemon tea, a hand landed on my shoulder. No, it was not Piyush, it was the chai-wallah, looking for his change.
I was lost in my thoughts, whether to take a break or sabbatical to try my hands on some real Machine Learning algorithms or to continue with the job and get some more experience or switch for better pay and settle down, MBA or MS or my own start-up. Everything was on the card, but nothing was giving me the thrill I was looking for. So, instead, I got back to my seat and started building that pending report.

9:00 pm

Over-thinking kills, and I decided not to ponder over these thoughts again and filled my resignation form. The cursor was right there on the “Submit Resignation” button when a mail notification popped up.

Obviously, I remembered him, I thought maybe I can talk my heart out with a tad bit chance of him helping me with this decision. If not, then anyways I will resign.

It was already 9 and I have to wrap up my daily work, send half a dozen emails and then head back home. This place was not that far, 10-12 minutes on foot to reach the table.

I somehow managed to finish my work and pushed a couple of meetings to the next day. Took a quick shower, got ready and brisked towards the pub. I knew Piyush was always punctual and He would not respect me for being late.

Reached there at 10:03, He had already occupied a chair facing the office building, the same building where he had spent 7 glorious years of his life and left it in one go. The way he was staring at the building was mesmerizing. I stood beside him for a few seconds, as I did not want to disturb his thoughts. He turned back to order something and here I was.

‘Heyy, What’s up? You are..ummm..almost on time !!’ He muttered under his breath. ‘ I am good, Sorry for being late. How are you? Long time.’ I replied ‘All good, how is work ?’ He asked generously ‘Okay Kind of !! I always wanted to know why did you leave the company in a go? You were doing great and were about to get promoted. Why?’ I asked nervously. ‘It was never about the company, but my growth. We have time till 1. Let’s order something first.’ ‘Tuborg?’ ‘4 Chilled Tuborg strong and the best pizza in the house’ He ordered. ‘I was doing good, but somewhere inside, I was not that satisfied with my knowledge. Other than this, there were millions of things stacking up in my bucket list. I wanted to give sometime to my self, the ME time, to study few things of my interest. Basically, I was ready to take a step back and think what I wanted to do in the coming 5 years.’ He smiled and looked at his guest. ‘Pihu, tell me one thing, Why did you take up this job, that too straight after you left college? Were you into Data Science in your final years of graduation?’ asked Piyush pleasantly. ‘To be honest, I did not know Jack about Data Science back then. It was just that the company came for recruuitment and I got lucky. But now I feel, I am doing good with this post’ ‘So, you must have invested hundreds of hours in studying the core concept of the domain to get into these shoes. Right?’ He shook his head at me and said. ‘Not much, did not get a lot of time to look into fancy algorithms.’ I confronted.

Now Piyush was furious, I was getting a mixed feeling that I might end up embarrassing myself on the type of work I do on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the Pizza was there and both of us hogged on it. The light was dim and the music was sober, there was a group of people singing some random Bollywood songs. Every time they change the song, we used to turn around to see their faces as a token of gesture for their efforts of electrifying the environment.

Song in the background – Ye pal hume yaad aaeynge, yaad aaeynge ye pal

We were almost done with the Pizza and the beer was yet to arrive. And Piyush got straight back to the topic.

‘So, we were talking about your 3 year journey at this place, learning a lot of things and solving a lot of problem’ He was nothing but sarcastic. ‘No Sir, I did not say that I learned much. But I was sincere with my efforts and tried every thing to solve the problem posted by the Client.’ I rested my case with peace. ‘Let me tell you what actually happended on 11th August’ He said looking at the clouds above. ‘It was a normal day and we were having a detailed client call with one of the hardest Asian Client you can ever imagine. By hard, I mean he was crazy sharp, Masters in “actua;” Data Science, pursuing PhD in the same domain. His level of clarity of data was terrific.’ ‘Needless to say that I, along with my 7 Subject Matter Experts fucked up badly in the call, which was not something very abnormal. But. I realised one thing that day, that I failed as an employee and as a Lead. There is no point boasting around the world saying that I have been solving business problems since last 7-8 or don’t know how many years. ‘It happens, right ? You can’t get answers to all the posted questions.’ I interrupted. ‘It does, and it should not have impacted me if the problem was with the Business Requirement or something which we have never done before’ ‘Christa, the client, was all cool with our capabilities to solve the problem, but she was devstated to see our level of knowledge. Things fall apart when she ended the call saying that “You people should have prepared well for the call” when the truth was that we 8 were preparing for the last couple of months.’ He said smiling tranquilly, but I can feel the the pain in his words. I wanted to interrupt, but did not get the courage to disturb. ‘That day, two things happened, one that my dilemma of going for an MBA or MS was sorted, I was going no where and second, I decided to learn, thus quit my job’ ‘Chuck it, What is your plan Pihu?’ Piyush asked. I was so much into his words, that I did not even hear it properly or may be I tried to avoid this bullet. I was confused between multiple things and was not sure if this is the
right time to bring this on. Anyways, I had a question floating in air for me and I can’t dodge something coming from Piyush, not because he would feel offended but because he will keep grinding until I say.

Meanwhile the ultra cool group sitting just behind us started with my favourite song(sshhh…secret :P)

‘ plans..let me plans..will hit the bed after this’ I tried to be funny and prayed silently to let the question pass. ‘Yeah..very funny..can’t stop laughing..I was asking about your future plans or should I ask “Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years”‘ He said and my prayer went unheard. **What to say, what to say, I can’t directly say that am confused** ‘ got me..Right now I am concentrating on enhancing my Data Science skills and my resignation is ready. Let me share a secret with you, I was about to resign when I saw your email, So, I thought may be I can do it after meeting you’ I acted confident.

And the beer was there, we had our first sip of the evening. Suddenly there was silence, those guys were still singing the same song. But, we paused, we paused for a moment to gaze the sky and the stars. With pizza in one hand, beer in the other, evening breeze, it was a moment of stillness. You don’t discuss Science and stuff, but God, I was with the worst person at the best place.

‘Oo..hello..What happened?’ He interupted and I unknowingly gave him that irritated look. ‘Naah..nothing..this is the first time I am here, this place is amazing. It has a good vibe. Nice choice of restaurant Sir’ Again a try to avoid the unavoidable. ‘Thanks, but I can see that you are avoiding the question, much like me when I was your age. What are your options? Let me guess, You must be planning to give CAT for and MBA or may be some Goverment exams or switch to a new company or may be “follow your passion and travel the world”‘  You can never know when is He serious and when sarcastic. It’s always better to take his words seriously. ‘All the options are on the card, plus there is GMAT and GRE also. So, I am making sure that I finish all the possible examinations before heading forward’ Even I have learnt some sarcastic skills, it did sound funny because I saw a grin on Piyush’s face but little did he know by now that all of these were true in my case.

Chapter 3 – The Last Beer

Time – 12:15 am