A diverse career path precedes this writer, who is now best known for authoring the first in what is to become a series of mythological fantasy books – The Aryavarta Chronicles Book 1: Govinda.
This journey has brought her through degrees in law from NLSIU, Bangalore, International Business at the University of Sydney, and a PhD. in Strategic Management from Nanyang Business School, Singapore, where she currently works as a lecturer.
And a secret she forgot to tell us, was that she was also recently listed as one of the nominees for the Tata First Book Award 2012.
Meet Krishna Udayasankar, the writer with some wonderful advice for anyone heading abroad to study.
1. What made you want to leave India for studies?
A combination of factors, I guess - the kind of degree I wanted, the phase of life I was going through. But I think the sense that there was a wonderful, big world out there waiting to be explored, was the clincher.
2. Most memorable experience while studying abroad?
Many, many, and most of my experiences were pleasant. The common factor is the amazing kindness of strangers that I've found in the most unexpected of places - and looking up at the star-blanketed sky of the Australian outback - it took my breath away!
3. What do you remember packing to take with you that was particularly useful?
This is going to sound corny, but it is true: Mom-made general-use "chutney" powder. I used to mix it into instant noodles, rice, layer it on bread. It's not about gluttony - familiar food is the biggest source of emotional comfort when you are on your own.
4. How did you land up in your particular career?
It’s weird, really. I did my undergrad in law, from NLS, Bangalore. Then I worked for an NGO. I felt I lacked the language to effectively advocate policy change in today's globalized commercial world, so I went to Sydney to study International Business and then ended up doing a PhD in Strategic Management and joining academia. And of course, I’m a writer now, penning myth-historical fiction. So, yeah, what was the question?!
5. Tips for a young student leaving India for studies, for the first time?
Be sensitive and open-minded. The point of going abroad for studies is to learn and be changed, so let it happen. And oh yes, be polite. The Indian brand of familiarity may seem presumptuous and even rude to others. So things like wishing people 'good day' or asking if you may sit at a partly-occupied table in a canteen (I've made that mistake [of not asking]) are not niceties, they are essentials.
6. Things about India you miss when abroad?
Feeling connected in some way even to a random stranger on the road - when you've lived outside, you start to notice the obvious commonalities that we otherwise take for granted. I particularly miss being able to speak in Indian languages with just about anyone. Abroad, you can only talk in your own language with family or Desi friends, and in English, for the most part.
7. Things about India you DON’T miss when abroad?
Stray dogs. Seeing the poor things breaks my heart. There are just far too many of them back home to even try to be optimistic, or pretend not to notice. I know this is not a very proactive approach, but...
8. What do you do for fun/downtime?
I'm a pretty boring person really; so when I'm not writing or working, I pretty much vegetate with a book or a movie. I love just hanging out with my family, which includes two Siberian Huskies.
9. Favourite flower?
I'm not much into flowers, but I do like roses.