Hi there! I'm Ankita Narayan.
Welcome to my personal website.
You've obviously come to this page because you want to know a little something about me. And I'm no 100-words person. I'm a barely 5 feet tall, buck toothed, chatty little thing who's going to give you her entire life's story in no less than 2000 words. You have been warned, this one's going to be long.
Let's start at the very beginning. I was born in Kerala, India but spent the first 10 years of my life in Assam, Mumbai (then Bombay), and New Delhi owing to my dad's job in the Indian Air Force. I, of course, only remember the time spent in the latter cities, Delhi being my all-time favourite. A few months before I turned 10, my family moved to Trivandrum in Kerala which also happened to be our last stop before my father hung up his uniform and decided to settle down. I still remember my first day in my school in Trivandrum. The segregation of the sexes was so blatantly evident even to my young eyes that I felt out of place at once. One of my teachers even remarked to my mother that I didn't know how to differentiate between boys and girls and spoke to everyone the same way! For a while, everyone at school believed that I was a North Indian owing to my name and didn't approach me to make friends. I for one was never bored on my own so I let them believe that they probably didn't have a common tongue apart from English to communicate with me. It was amusing on many occasions when some of the kids would talk about me in my presence in our mother-tongue. I would understand every single word and smile to myself. There was a kind of satisfaction in hearing the naked truth about the way they perceived me. To make things even more convenient for everyone, my best friend was a North Indian from Delhi who was also from the defence background and we often spoke to each other in Hindi. She and I are still best friends and plan holidays around the world together.
With every passing year, my level of disdain for the school increased. I was purely average in my academics and somehow survived high school with average grades. While every single person my age prepared for Engineering and Medical entrance exams, I made up my mind to take up Arts and Humanities.
By the time everyone started applying for all the entrance exams there are in the country, my mother fell victim to "peer pressure" and got me the application form to an All India Engineering Entrance Exam which I never filled out despite all the nagging, pleading, and occasional begging. Instead, I took up English Literature simply because I wanted to sit around reading books. If I had made a penny for every time someone told me that I wouldn't have a future by studying Literature, I'd have been able to pay for college with just that. Doing a degree in English was by far one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. Because when I look back at the time I spent in college, my heart fills up with happy memories and positive thoughts. I send out many thanks for all the books I got to read over the five years I spent studying Literature, for all the amazing lectures I attended, for all the wonderful people I got to meet, and for all the friends I made along the way. There were incompetent teachers of course, but I did all I could to bunk their classes, time and again.
It was one such attempt at avoiding a boring lecture that landed me my very first job. The company had come for recruitment and I attended the session simply so that I could bunk a horrible lecture, one in which our professor religiously hid her face behind a book and read page after page out loud. So when I heard that out of the twenty-something candidates who took the written test, only two had been selected for the next round of the interview, I just went, "Meh". But when I heard that I was one of the two who had made it, that the interview was going to be held in Trivandrum where my parents live, and that the college would grant me free attendance for travelling to my hometown to meet my parents, my decision was obvious. HELL YEAH, I'll attend the interview! I get four days off, are you kidding me?
It was when I got home that I learned that my pet Labrador, Bruce, had been suffering from liver cirrhosis and that my parents had been hiding the news from me so as to not upset me while I was away from home. I got home on a Friday and my interview was to be on the following Tuesday. In the three days I had before the interview, I spent all my waking hours next to Bruce, feeding him, talking to him, crying for him, and begging him to stay alive. On the morning of the interview, I asked my dad how Bruce was doing and he said, "You probably don't want to hear the answer to that question". I felt numb and dead inside. I wouldn't have attended the interview if it hadn't been for my friend who had also made it to the next round and was staying with us so that we could travel to the venue together. The whole interview process had around 4 rounds and after the completion of each round, I'd sit outside staring into my hands but seeing nothing, just feeling my hot tears on them. When I left the building that evening, I knew that I'd made it but the pain I felt about losing Bruce was draining the life out of me. I never celebrated the day on which I landed my very first job. However, I made sure that the next time I entered the same building, I'd be wearing a smile on my face.
On my very first day of work itself, I realized that I was going to fall head over heels in love with the job. My job was to train a bunch of Trainee Engineers (new recruits) in Language and Communication Skills. This meant that I got to interact with as many as 200 people who were around my age, every single week. A terrifying thought at first but incredibly rewarding as I later learned. I loved my job, the people I worked with, the engineers I trained, and the overall experience.
In exactly one year, one month and two weeks since the day of the interview, I married my boyfriend of four years, left my job, and moved to a different continent to start everything afresh. Because when the time is right, you just know.
Now, if you're an only child, or if you have siblings who are many years younger/older, or if you're simply the kind of person who enjoys being left alone, then I wouldn't be wrong in assuming that you maintained a private journal growing up. I know I did. So whenever something of importance happened in my life, be it happy or sad, I loved recording it in my journal. And then I grew up and got married and forgot all about it until...
...September, 2015. After a tiff with my husband, Shane, I realised that I wanted to whine about our argument in a journal. Except that I didn't have one. I couldn't even find a reasonably nice piece of paper to write on. So I began to randomly look for options on the internet. One thing led to another and I ended up with a free WordPress account. The whole process of creating my blog on WordPress made me forget all about the tiff and I began to tap, tap, tap away on the keyboard about everything that was dear to me. I began writing stories about the people I have observed, stories waiting to be told, social commentary, and snippets from my life. And in early October 2015, Shane bought me this domain as a birthday gift. He said he saw how happy my blog made me and wanted to help me build a website from scratch. What you're seeing around here is the result of many sleepless hours spent working on our little pet project. Six months into blogging, I got invited to become a Google Create: India partner, and currently my blog's collection on Google Plus boasts of over 300,000 followers.
Later, on 22 September 2016, to celebrate one year of 22 Nelson Street, I launched a new project - my podcast. Desi Outsiders is a podcast about Indian culture and society where my co-host and I interviewed many interesting people from the South Asian community all over the globe. You can find us on iTunes, aCast or any other app that you might be using to listen to your favourite podcasts.
In Jan 2019, after realising that our day job schedules interfered with the time needed to interview guests, I decided to take a step back from the podcast to figure out how I could reinvent happiness in my journey to share stories in the form of audio content. Later that year, my podcast co-host and I decided to go our separate ways. Hopefully, sometime in the future, I'll go back to podcasting again.
And speaking of day jobs, for a year in 2018-19, I worked as the Team Leader of the Google Digital Garage in Edinburgh where I'd managed the training requirements of our twenty-member team while also providing face-to-face digital training to thousands of members of the public for free. It was a fun job, a great learning experience, and one of the best opportunities of my career.
Since then, I have worked in the world of Learning & Development which often crossed paths with the world of organisational change management. I currently work as a consultant in Change and L&D for public sector organisations across the UK. And because I'm a bit of a nerd, I'm also pursuing my PhD in South Asian Studies from the University of Edinburgh where, funnily enough, I worked in an L&D capacity a couple of years ago.
As you can see, everything in my life so far has simply... "flowed". The difference is that I never managed to record it in real-time. With this wee blog here, I hope to capture moments and memories that I can revisit someday.
If you're on this page, you've hopefully already gone through some other parts of this website and wanted to get to know the face and brain behind the screen, managing and writing on this little personal space of mine on the internet. Thanks for stopping by! If you go through the stuff written here, you'll get a glimpse into a small part of my life and a big part of my little brain. Hope you enjoy your time here!
If, after reading all this, you feel like you want to talk to me, don't hesitate to send me a good old-fashioned e-mail.