While doing graduation, my brother-in-law Mr. S. Bal Reddy, i.e., my elder sisters spouse was interested me to get into the civil services. He is a school teacher. One day he has taken me to meet his friend, Mr. Narender who had experience of preparing and appearing for the civil services exam. He has introduced me to the preparation for the civil services exam. I understood that a person with good knowledge and understanding of many things (History, Culture, Environment, Politics, Economics, Science, Mathematics, current affairs, etc.) and excellent knowledge on the two optional subjects would get through the exam. Civil services in the Government is considered as one of the highest jobs, for serving the people and the nation.
While I was brooding on this option of joining the civil services. I got admission at IIT, Bombay to study Master of Science in Applied Geology. Our library was excellent, and it used to remain open up to 10 PM to 11 PM. Everyday night after having dinner, I used to go to the library and study every kind of book to improve my knowledge on various aspects. Sometimes used to read the weekly magazines for understanding the current affairs. I loved the subject Geology too. My senior Mr. Patra called “Brother” had some experience of appearing for the exam. He used to guide me too. I decided Geology and Geography as optional subjects. I was just an average student while doing graduation and the post graduation.
After completing the Applied Geology, many of my classmates were preparing for GATE exam. One need to qualify and based on the score could do M.Tech. I have decided, not to write this exam and after completion of MSc Applied Geology returned back to Hyderabad. I started preparation systematically for the civil services exam. My second optional was Geography, and I need to study that subject too. Someone suggested I should get admission into Masters in Geography, Osmania University as it is my one of the optional subject too. And by being on the campus, I could prepare well.
As I need to prepare for the entrance exam, I started going to the State Central Library at Afzal Gunj. It is a beautiful library on the banks of Musi River. Its edifice with two story steps was often shot for court scene in the movies. It had a reading room for competitive exams, where all the books were available. I am also used to visit this library during my graduation. It had a good collection of books. With about one month’s preparation going every day there, I appeared for the entrance exam. I got admission into the MSc Geography at the Osmania University. It was difficult to get admission as anyone who has done graduation could do MSc Geography. Mostly the students who are preparing for the competitive exams with Geography as an option used to appear for this entrance. Like me, many of them have already completed one post graduation already joined as my classmates. I have joined the B-Hostel too so that, I would get more time for preparation.
Soon, I started appearing for the classes in the university and also preparing for the competitive exam. In the first year, both MSC Geography and MA Geography students had classes together. I started going to the RC Reddy coaching center at Ashoka Cross Roads for the General Studies paper. This was about 4 kms from the University Campus.
Mr. Ramachandra Reddy was highly knowledgeable, he was an expert on public administration. Listening to him was so great especially the Constitution of India. All the subjects were interesting, as they were teaching mostly the fundamentals or basics so well that, it appeared I am going to school again. Being an average student during school days, this gave me another opportunity to learn again. There used to be at least 100 students in each classroom. The noise from the traffic on the busy road and smells of food from the hotel below did not bother anyone.
I appeared the civil services preliminary exam with geography as one of the subjects. I got good marks and qualified and started preparing for the mains. I could not fare well in the mains as I was going for knowledge rather the strategy of getting marks.
I got to know Prof. K. Purushotham Reddy of Political Science Department soon after joining the Geography Department. Once there were no classes going on. Someone told about him, being the neighboring department I have gone to see him. He was sitting along with other Professors in a hall. I introductions, he started sharing about the environmental issues and his initiatives to mitigate. I liked him, once invited him to give a lecture to all my classmates. I used to interact with him, whenever time permitted. Once on 31st December 1994, he gave me the book, “One Straw Revolution” written by Masanobu Fukuoka. It was on natural farming and sustainable agriculture and his lifetime experiments, I liked it so much, read it the whole night. The early morning of 1st January 1995, I was a different person.
I was preparing myself for the geography, and I was well in all the subjects. One Professor Vital Reddy senior geography professor said that you don’t require attending the class as you already know everything. This was a complement and his greatness to acknowledge me. One of our Professor was teaching Agriculture Geography and I knew, it was correct as he was teaching from old references and textbooks. After the class, I went to the staff room and explained him. During another class in the second year, I was discussing with another profession during the class on the subject of urban geography. Some of my classmates did not like, I went to the Professor and told him, I am not going to attend the classes again and would not cause disturbance to the students. This was in the second year of my Post graduation. I almost did not attend any of the classes, except the practicals. My routine was going by bus to the coaching center and study till midnight. I used to go out for tea at the makeshift tea shop opposite the B-Hostel. Sometimes, I used to request them to bring tea for me and serve in the room. My roommates Mr. Murali and Mr. Rajendra Prasad were very cooperative never bothered even when I used to keep the lights on for studying till late night.
There used to be many friends coming to my room. I used to teach them and also study. Some of them used to come from outside the campus too. Mr. Surya Prakash Bheri, Mr. Narayan Reddy, Mr. Sridhar, Mr. Balaji, etc. I wrote a quote and kept in the window, “The More you Give the More You Receive”.
I used to write some of the important points on flash cards and go on for long walks in the campus reading them. Sometimes used to climb the rooftop of the hostel and study.
Now I appeared for the preliminary exam second time. This time, I got good marks. My answer paper became the key for many to calculate their scores. I scored 114 out of 120 marks in Geography. Everyone was expecting that; I would get qualified for the Mains too. As my second year completed, I need to vacate the hostel. Instead of returning home, I started staying with friends Mr. Chandrapal and Mr. Chakri by taking a room at Ramanthapur, next o Public School lane. My home was less than a kilometer from here.
Although I started preparing for the civil services exam, I started becoming sensitive. We were on the top floor of the house. In the next portion, there was a family – a mother and a young girl of 10 years old. They were mysterious, the mother was bedridden and the girl used to rarely come out for collecting the water downstairs. I could not get how come one could live in isolation and suffering. Somehow, I got sensitive to this situation, and one-day tears started rolling over my cheeks. After a month, as my friend Mr. Chandrapal was insisting on moving to another place, we searched and took a room at Mettuguda. This area had Anglo-Indian’s. The landlady was a good person. This house had spacious rooms. I took a small room for my studies. Mr. Chakri was a good cook. We had lots of time for studies. In the next house, there were German shepherd dogs. They were breeding and selling the puppies too. Sometimes the owner used to beat the dogs if they fought or barked in the night. The cries of the dogs were unbearable. One night between him and his wife there was a fight, he started beating her just like the dogs with a belt. Her cries and the dogs barking were so sensitive for me. I could not sleep properly on that night.
I was not feeling like studying for the exams anymore. Became very sensitive. Used to read many books especially for knowledge but not the exam point of view. Apart from the Geography, Geology, General Knowledge, read with intensity especially on Swamy Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.
In that situation once, I went on to meet a very senior Swamy (pontiff) of Ramakrishna Matt, Tank Bund, Hyderabad. I used to keep a beard and have lots of white hair already. They thought I am interested in joining the math and said that there is no vacancy as such to take in. Then one good advice came that is “do what you love”. On that day I liked that statement, although it is simple. It means freedom. I started thinking a lot about this advice. It opened up a lot of options for me. So I started thinking is this the only way of getting into a permanent government job to serve the world. About 15 days, I started thinking a lot.
At that time, I was living with my friends, Mr. Chandrapal and Mr. Chakri to prepare for the civil services exam. I have qualified for the prelims with excellent marks, and everyone was expecting that I would do well in the Main exam too. All my friends and well wishers encouraged me a lot.
But my mind was occupied with other things. I used to go on long walks in the Mettuguda, Railway Colony area.
Things were also not so great at home, my younger sister needs to get married, and my father was struggling to arrange money. He had plans to take voluntary retirement from his service. In this situation, I met, Prof. K. Purushotham Reddy, I shared about my situation and said that I would like to work on environment and developmental issues and give up writing the civil services exam. He was surprised but got convinced and encouraged my decision.
I declared to my father on 1 November 1995, that I will not strive for the regular government jobs like civil services nor group one, declared that I would work on environmental and development issues. My father was annoyed and highly disappointed. He tried to explain and convince me, but that was my declaration. Already, it took some time for me to contemplate on this decision and declare. I thought it is my responsibility to share with my parents; this declaration gave me lots of freedom and happiness.
Having known me any my understanding of the subject, my Geography Professor. Prof. K. Vithal Reddy asked me to teach at the civil services Institute. This institute was started at the Raja Bahadur Venkat Ram Reddy Hotel, Abids. He gave me a chance to teach in 1995 itself when I appeared for the civil services exam. It happened that some of my classmates in Geography enrolled in the same coaching institute and I did not teach that year as it would be difficult to teach own classmates. After giving up the civil services, I started teaching from 1996 to 1998. I used to take classes on Physical Geography. There were students from all disciplines. My classes used to last for up to 3 hours. Prof. K. Vithal Reddy used to come and advice me to give breaks. I used to say, as they are listening I am teaching. My students used to request me to appear for the exam, I used to tell them that, I have already declared and would not appear. There was demand from other coaching centers too for teaching. For me initially, it was good teaching. Later on, it became routine and I gave up teaching. Preparation for the civil services improved my knowledge and understanding on various things such as Political science and constitution, current affairs, general knowledge, history, culture and environment, and in-depth knowledge of my two options, Geography and Geology. The whole process has also made me sensitive, human and increased my determination to strive for the communities.