My Journey with Nitin Upadhyay

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This story is an emotional roller-coaster ride, and I am in tears even thinking about it.

Happy Tears. BHOJPURI Tears to be honest.

I was heading the creative wing of a renowned college in Vijayawada in the 2015-16 season. I was also imparting verbal and non-verbal communication skills for final and pre-final year students.

I was lonely, very lonely in the campus because of language barrier.

I guess, I was inefficient, in mixing up with anyone, because of my introverted nature. The students were smart, active, and few of them were even elder to me. I used to come back to my rented apartment in Vijayawada at around 4pm and watch TV. I had a Playstation-3 and WWE Smackdown Vs RAW 2014 was my favourite of them all.

I had no one to talk to.

There was a canteen in the college, with a music system, that played fancy Telugu songs. I used to sit there, with students during my free periods, and chat about life, politics and movies.

It was August of 2015 I suppose.

Drinking tea.I came across a familiar music in the canteen. It was a Salman Khan song and a grin covered my face. I immediately went to the canteen guy to inquire who is playing this song. One of the students who stood beside me replied, "Arey sir, hum Bihar se hai! Hum Hindi Sunte hai."

That's where my journey with Nitin began.

That day, after the college, I insisted on having some nice North Indian food and Nitin impeccably became my guide in Vijayawada.

We went to Mishra Dhaba together, one of the only dhaba around Vijayawada that served good North Indian Food. Nitin had a huge group of people from Bihar and Jharkhand and I was about to live the best times of my life.

They were all 3rd year students in the college.

Nitin and I with his entire friend group, used to go out for movies, dinner and Nitin became a younger brother to me within a week. All the students were very supportive and I was a "Bhaiya" to my "Budbaks". My Hindi has a Bhojpuri accent to it and this is where it all started.

We used to dance all night at my rented flat and the bond was priceless.

Nitin Upadhyay came from a very poor background from a small town in Bihar. He came from Raxaul which is located in India-Nepal borders. He was staying in a PG in Vijayawada with a bulb on a terrible ceiling.

He had zero financial backup and the fear of future always seemed to cover him in the nights. He was pursuing his engineering with a big loan on his head.

Few professors had taunted his inability to work on a laptop and so, I shifted him to my rented flat right away and offered 24/7 food, TV, my laptop and Wi-Fi.

Every day, 2am to be precise, we drove across Vijayawada-Guntur highway for Chai/Coffee with a group of 15 people, and that's where he narrated his story.

He wanted to bring a change in the education system in India. He was determined to make Bihar the National Capital of Education again. He wanted to bring Bihar into national map as one of the leading education hubs in India and he wanted to write a book. He wanted to change the very narrative of Biharis across India. He was ambitious and his political knowledge, like most Biharis, was unmatched.

He never owned a laptop, so, I had planned to buy him one. He rejected it straight away. One day, I guess in November, he lost his phone. I had a spare broken Lava Phone with me and I was happy to offer the same.

We stayed together, ate together, and I taught him communication skills and provide him certain apps that would help him in the art of storytelling.

We even drove to Vishakhapatnam on teachers' day to have a taste of Eastern Coast.

My faculty days were numbered as I was an entrepreneur at heart. I focused more on the ongoing struggles of Indian youth and wanted to bring a change in the education stream. Teaching at this college was providing me with adequate experience. I was hearing the problems faced by the students and it was fun trying to solve it for them.

My evenings revolved around playing cricket with my students and the night time was drive time.

Meanwhile, I left working as a professor in Feb of 2016 because I wanted to start a technical incubator in Vijayawada. Investment was time consuming as youngsters don't like saving.

I received a beautiful send off from the university on its cricket ground and dozens of students showed up at the railway station to drop me with teary eyes. It was one of the most special moment in my life. All of them were emotional. I was emotional. My father had come to pick me up in Vijayawada and my journey as a professor ended.

Farewell cricket game.

Nitin's engineering got over, and since Mechanical Engineers don't get placed, the headache of repaying back the loan took a toll on his head.

I called him to my hometown, Nagpur and he stayed with me for the next two months.

We started taking up workshops in different cities of India and Nitin was my right hand. He took care of the operations and also helped me in media management. We danced on Bhojpuri hits "Rinkiyaa ke papa and Lagabe lu jab Lipistic" every night. I cannot mention some other offensive songs though.

Nitin's first book "From Pataliputra to Madgaon".

The Book

Nitin, with inclination towards writing, initially started writing his debut novel during his final year of engineering and wanted to continue the same in Nagpur.

Nitin working on his laptop.I gave him the basics of writing and every week, he showed me 800-1500 words content. I did the editing and suggested him the changes.It took him around 1.5 years to complete his book, "From Pataliputra to Madgaon."

He wrote the entire book on a 'BROKEN LAVA PHONE.'

I was finally able to bag an investor for my startup and things were about to change for good.

I hired him to manage my centre in Vijayawada and he became the boss to six employees. He was the managing director to my firm and brought me happy profits every month.

We were also able to bag a publisher for his book and it became a sensation. Bihar loved him. India liked his story. The book revolves around a love story of a Bihari boy and a Goan Girl. The book reflects the Village-City love story and it makes a quick read. Nitin was able to cover the entire book in 120 pages and the distribution of the same was awe-inspiring. Absence of laptop and money did not hinder his inclination towards writing.

The boy became a man. He rose from the shades of poverty like the Phoenix bird. With no complains, no regrets and a bright smile, life was indeed a blessing for him and Nitin stood tall. It was the time for him to inspire the next generation and he took this opportunity with both hands.

Nitin Upadhyay delivering motivational speech at various educational institutions.
He joined me for guest lectures at I-Feel Lonavala, IIT Madras, VIT Vellore and his innocent speeches and honest stories got him standing ovations.

We traveled to Hyderabad, Vellore, Chennai, Vizag, Mumbai, Lonavala and delivered guest lectures. B-Schools, Engineering Colleges, MUNs; he headlined many events as a motivational speaker at 22.

We drove a thousand miles together. Initially on an Alto, then I-10 and now Verna. We covered India together on every means of transport and he would learn the art of public speaking and writing in every journey.

He was then able to start repaying his education loan through the book, and his job, and the fear of future is now over. He is focussed on building a better India through his write ups and he mentors young writers under Writers' Rescue Centre. I want him to join politics.

I am lucky to know a guy like Nitin Upadhyay. We met through a Salman Khan song. We instantly moulded into a family in Vijayawada (AP). We stayed and ate together in Nagpur, Vijayawada, Vizag and Mumbai. I mentored him in the art of storytelling and tried to push him towards the very top. He took all opportunities with a bright smile and did everything he could to bring smiles to peoples' faces.

He is my student, my brother, my bodyguard and one of the only persons I can count on.

To be honest, the drives, this brotherly love, and this self-denying bond changed me. I became selfless. I started trusting people. I stopped getting insecure and sad about my life. I often tell this, and I will repeat here, "Nitin wrote a book on a broken lava phone. He is inspiring thousands of youngsters through guest lectures. He learnt everything without complaining. He is one of the happiest persons in my circle since the very start. Why? Because he never had materialistic expectations. The inclination towards earning knowledge over emotions gave him a life that people dream off. If he can, even you could. Trust me. I was there to witness it all along."


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