PUBLISH DATE 20th March 2017


How three graduates in different disciplines chose unconventional career paths related to their academic background

As a teenager, I had a keen interest in medicine. After completing class XII, I pursued medical studies and enrolled at Witten Herdecke University in Germany. A year into the course, I realised that while I liked what I read in textbooks, I did not want to pursue clinical work at a hospital. Moreover, the career requires immense committ ment leaving you with little time for your personal life. I thus quit and came to India for three months in 2001. The trip revived my childhood love for the environment. Back in Germany, I completed a five-year degree in geography with soil science and organic agriculture as minors and a PhD on Delhi's domestic wastewater. Later, I took up a sixmonth project with a French research institute in Delhi.

My next assignment too involved research as a postdoctoral fellow working remotely for the University of Lausanne. I, however, did not want to keep researching, studying and analysing problems without contributing to the solution. In the meantime, I had taken to terrace gardening at home. Clueless about Delhi's weather and seasonal vegeta bles, I looked around for some resources. I came across a workshop being organised by Edible Routes, a start-up offering farming and landscaping solutions. I attended the event and stayed in touch with the team. Once my fellowship ended, I asked the start-up for a job. Given my academic background, I was hired as a farm manager to ensure, in consultation with colleagues, vegetable growth at the venture's new farm in south Delhi in February 2016. We applied permaculture principles (learning from nature to design your farm), laid crop beds, made swales (ditches to capture rainwater), and set up a drip irrigation system. The work allows me to combine my fondness for gardening with the opportunity to reach out to people who are not aware of ecological issues and how to make their lives sustainable as well as to work with underprivileged sections of society.

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