Before I could even finish my blogs detailing the lessons from my Lithuanian journey, I found myself embarking on a trip to the Middle East and the nexus of Asia. Moreover, the heart breaking loss of four dear ones further disrupted my reflections. As they departed, they bestowed upon me some of life’s most invaluable lessons.  

From my hotel in Istanbul, I find myself poised between two worlds. On one side stands the majestic silhouette of Hagia Sophia, and on the other, the sun-kissed ripples of the Bosphorus. This captivating view, straddling both Asia and Europe, serves as a poignant metaphor for my journey — one that has spanned continents from the cobblestone streets of Lithuania to the sands of ancient Sumeria in Iraq, and has transcended disciplines, touching on medical science, ‘The Inversion Factor – How to Thrive in the IoT Economy,’ and even rocketry.

The Bosphorus, with its tapestry of history, has seen empires rise and fall. From being a humble river valley in the Tertiary period to a strategic strait linking the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, its significance can’t be overstated, especially during eras like the Cold War. Similarly, my sojourn through Iraq was a plunge into the ancient cradles of civilization. Amidst the shadows of its tumultuous past, I found a beacon in a conference on Otology and Neck Dissection, where the knowledge exchanged was as rich as Iraq’s history.

But Istanbul? It was a confluence of eras. While the city’s landmarks like Hagia Sophia whispered tales of the past, the 7th World Congress on Cochlear Implantation at the Istanbul Congress Centre showcased the future. Here, among the best minds, I watched with pride as Dr. Vasanthi Anand, a fellow Indian, was lauded for her ground-breaking work. Her tenacity, akin to the unyielding flow of a river, was palpable.

Iraq, on the other hand, felt like a nostalgic trip to the roots of civilization, resonating with the ancient soul of my own homeland, India. Apart from the visual and historical treat, Iraq brought forth academic delights. Participating as a faculty in an Otology and Neck Dissection conference, orchestrated by esteemed friends, was truly enriching.

While the World Congress at Istanbul centred on Cochlear Implants in Emerging Nations, the depth and breadth of the Indian contributions suggested we’ve made considerable strides. My own contributions, albeit modest in scale, held immense significance to me. I explored the innovative domain of Speech Coding Techniques, particularly pertinent for Indian languages and music. Furthermore, I showcased our team’s pioneering research into the utilization of AI and ML to anticipate Cochlear Implantation outcomes. Our objective was unequivocal – to cultivate international collaborations and expand the horizons of our existing knowledge.

I firmly believe that India now possesses the capability to lead in this field, championing ground-breaking innovations. We must only move beyond our tendency to follow the herd or merely echo others. As Napoleon Hill astutely remarked, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Every discipline, in its nascent stages, can seem as intricate as rocket science. I remember once boldly declaring, “This isn’t rocket science!” Yet, as I delved deeper, I was confronted by its profound complexity, reminiscent of a black hole. My reflections led me to a paper titled “An Innovative Methodology for Allocating Reliability and Cost in a Lunar Exploration Architecture.” This memory became particularly poignant as India celebrated its moon landing. This achievement resonates deeply with all Indians. I observed a newfound respect for the Indian passport; it seemed to carry added weight, eliciting esteem and admiration from people across borders.

Rocket science, at its core, involves principles from various disciplines like physics, engineering, mathematics, and materials science. The problem-solving techniques and analytical methods used in rocket science can be applied to a range of seemingly unrelated problems in other fields.  This dissertation was a revelation, offering insights into the intricacies of rocket science, which, in essence, can be applied to any complex discipline.

Parallelly, my journey was enriched by the pages of “The Inversion Factor.” The book beautifully captures the shift from a product-first orientation to an age where technology doesn’t just complement human needs but reimagines them. Giants like Amazon and Tesla, and even underdogs like Tile, have tapped into this inversion. As I delved deeper into the book, it offered not just business strategies but life lessons on adaptability and innovation.

Amid my travels, the loss of four cherished individuals cast a shadow on my heart. First was Jamal Haji Fatah from Iraq, a brother in every sense, whose essence taught me the depths of familial devotion. Our chance encounter blossomed into an enduring bond. Then, I was shaken by the untimely demise of my niece, Akshatha. A paragon of self-reliance, she demonstrated that with unwavering determination, any ambition can be realized. Subsequently, we lost Mr. Mallikarjunappa, the revered president of our Pathanjali Yoga association. He epitomized leadership, ensuring every individual felt appreciated, no matter the extent of their involvement. Finally, the architect of India’s Green Revolution, Prof. M.S Swaminathan, passed away. I fondly recall presenting my research findings, “Path to Ever-Green Revolution,” to him. He lauded my efforts, recommending it to the Government of India (GOI). Alas, senior officials modified it to fit their agendas, leading to the controversial farm laws, which were eventually repealed by the GOI. During my moments of despair over these events, he comforted me, expressing his own disillusionment with successive governments that had strayed from his original vision. Their legacies are enduring, continually guiding and inspiring me.

As I reflect upon my travels, from the historic lanes of Lithuania to the strategic waters of the Bosphorus, and the academic halls of Iraq to the vibrant ethos of Istanbul, I realize that it’s not just about the places, but the convergence of histories, sciences, and human endeavours. Here, sitting at the juncture of two continents, I am reminded that journeys are not just about destinations but the amalgamation of experiences they bring along. And as always, the journey continues.

Prof. Dr. Prahlada N.B
14 – 30 Sept 2023. 

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