My experiments with PhD

It was in the year 2019 when I got the best news of my life, that I have been selected for PhD. This news left me overjoyed as I always yearned for it. PhD has been a dream since the time I held the first book in my hand. I remember talking about it with my father who enthusiastically supported and encouraged my dream, because more than me it was dad who wanted me to practice it. I still remember during my masters I asked my mentor, Ajaz ul Haque, that I wanted to pursue PhD. He wasn’t surprised. He said, students like you are meant for PhD, this is a liminal space where the process of learning transits into an academic role, but at the same time we must not succumb to institutional pressures. There must be no tricks, no shortcuts or intrinsic pathways towards the development of your work. PhD should not be about adhering to entitlements but putting a meaning to your journey and exploration back at the heart of the project. These lines from my mentor reverberated in the corners of my head and kept impelling me till I got into it. The day I got my results my father got elated, he posted it on social media that he is over the moon because his dream has come true (social media announcement is a necessity these days). After couple of days when I went back to my mentor, he reaffirmed and told me to buckle up. Before I left, he said PhD is not going to be easy, go without pre conceived notions especially about the fact that people will help you, do not expect that. It leaves one besieged and often selfish. He also advised me to make a mini and cozy study group with research novices and friends, help each other, exchange ideas and critique each other’s work. This will help you grow not only as a researcher but as an observer too. With these inspiring words I set off and my voyage with PhD commenced. I never knew PhD is going to leave me with lesser friends and more competitors.

I had heard lot of stories about PhD, some claim it to be a lonely endeavor, some admired its learning quotient, some argued about its conduct, so much of superfluous verbosity. Nonetheless, I remembered and recollected my mentor’s words, it helped me to proceed. Life moved on, so did my PhD. It has been one and half years I am into it, figuring out what do to next. There is an enormous load when it encompasses your research especially when you don’t do it for entitlement, you do it out of passion. One must be ready to accept and entertain all challenges along the way.

There was so much of guidance and an army of suggestions prior to my research work, and with each passing day people evaporated like hot air making me realize and ponder over what my mentor mentioned in the beginning. My messages remained unanswered, calls were not picked up even people tried to calm me with the phrases like “we will figure it out”. Nothing figured out,  nothing materialized. What bothers me more, this is just my one and half years with PhD, and people turned their backs, how miserable people can be, and simultaneously this journey. I remember in the first year itself when I started to inquire about research journals, I called and messaged so many research scholars who had already published papers, and they refused to name one. Some said we will find a ‘good journal’ some said, it is an easy job, you must focus more on your research work or synopsis rather than finding journals and so many more advices, opinions but none helped. This is the beauty of pursuing research work, where you lose every single entity that bragged and assured you about their pseudo presence. I believe we all have priorities but helping anyone won’t cast a spell. Will it? Nonetheless, life is filled with trials and triumphs; we must carry on with a strong presence of mind. As PhD is a tiring experience one must extend help to the best of their knowledge, people get selfish in the course but to overcome it we must empathize because life itself is a lesson and karma can smack us any day.

Post Script: Helping your students, colleagues, contemporaries, juniors, and research novices won’t make you little less or it will not hamper your progress or work profile. Education must be imparted, else there is no fun gaining it.