A statistician and traveler talks about balance
Yajnaseni Chakraborti | Talkback Tuesday
Hi, and welcome to #TalkbackTuesday. This week’s interview is with Ms. Yajnaseni Chakraborti. See her interview below.
Talkback Tuesday is a weekly interview with everyday people. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another person, and realize it is just as complex and large and confusing as your own.
This is the 50th interview I’ve published, but the 1st that I’ve put on Medium. Going forward, Talkback Tuesday goes on my own website on Tuesday, and comes to Medium on Wednesday.
1. For the readers, who are you, what do you do, and what is your current side project?
I am a budding statistician, food enthusiast, and occasional backpacker. I work in the field of Oncology drug development. In layman terms, I am responsible for the analysis and interpretation of the data collected from clinical trials.
Current side project… I am trying to write a travel blog about my recent trip to Ladakh.
2. Tell me about Ladakh. Why did you decide to travel there, what was your favorite experience, and why should other people consider a trip?
It was one of the most chaotic phases in my life. I was going through something that most people go through at some point in their lives… unattained goals, lack of purpose, and an overwhelming feeling of self-doubt.
I needed clarity and I had somehow always found my answers in the mountains. Ladakh was on my bucket list and so I decided to go.
Today, I can say without an ounce of doubt that Ladakh is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It was a community trip… I didn’t know anyone in the traveling group except my friend Komal. The entire trip was exhilarating. My favorite experience was at Leh with a family who boarded us.
The culture of a place is its people and I derive a lot of joy from people.
They were very kind to offer us dinner quite late one night. [They] never once made us feel out of place. We got food and stories about their life. The head of the family runs a nonprofit school for disabled children.
It was through his tales that I realized the true sense of living in the present. It’s one of the Buddhist teachings, “Our appointment with life is in the present moment.”
Since then, I have tried to make each day count. Travel means different things to different people. I travel to explore a new culture. The culture of a place is its people and I derive a lot of joy from people. That’s why I travel. I feel it is one of the best forms of therapy to clear your mind and find your purpose.
3. You said you are a statistician working on data from clinical trials. What kind of satisfaction do you derive from this line of work, and where do you see your career in say, 7 years?
I work in cancer trials which entails determining the benefit-risk profile of a drug in treating the disease. Cancer research has made a lot of progress in the past decade, but there is still room for improvement.
The disease in itself presents a plethora of problems… from determining the optimum genetic pathway to identifying the target population of patients. So Statistics in this area is a fusion of science and strategy. The learning curve is always growing and there is also the fulfillment of working towards a good cause.
7 years…that’s a long way to go. I have very few data points and I am not that deft a statistician to predict my career that far ahead.
Statistical jokes aside, to be honest, I see myself enrolled in a doctoral programme in the next 2 years. Going forward, I would like to see myself making an impact as a Statistician.
4. It seems there are two distinct aspects of your personality — the cancer-studying statistician, and the food-loving traveler, and you love both of them. If you had to give 3 pieces of advice on how to lead a balanced and fulfilling life, what would they be?
I am fortunate to be working for an organization where the life outside of the workplace is respected. There are no negotiations in terms of leaves as long as you do a good job and finish on time. This is probably not the case everywhere. So my three suggestions are:
- Every day, take out time for yourself, even if it is just 20 minutes. Spend those 20 minutes doing something that brings you happiness. It can be quilling, reading, or even sitting with a cup of coffee and relaxing. 20 minutes each day for a year sums up to approximately 5 days. That’s the least you can do. No work is more important than yourself.
- Life is not bell-shaped. Our professional life sometimes has the leverage over our personal life and vice versa. Striking a balance for both simultaneously is difficult. So it is important to prioritize and even more to live with the choice you made.
You cannot go for a vacation and keep thinking about what is happening in your project, nor can you think about your holiday destination while your project submission is ongoing. That way you don’t do justice to either.
- Be grateful for what you have. Appreciation triggers satisfaction. I make it a practice to remind myself of the better things in life and appreciate them.
5. Great. Finally, do you have anything you’d like the audience to explore? It can be a business or movement, or it could be anything from a video to an idea.
I love to read, so I try to encourage everyone I know to read. Here’s an author whose writing is simple and yet beautiful, Sudha Murthy. Some of us must be already familiar with her books. For those who aren’t, try reading her short stories. They are insightful and tell you a thing or two about life.
Thank you for reading Talkback Tuesday! What did you think of the interview? Leave your comments below.
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Next, check out the previous interview from last Tuesday with Sankarshan Purkayastha by clicking on the image below.