My Life – 1 Hour Autobiography

I’m going to stick with the outline of topics I put together yesterday. That means today I am going to try and write a bio of life to date in an hour.

Things I want to avoid here

  1. Referring to my rationale or mindset in making choices. If you have questions you can write a comment or email me. Engagement!
  2. Writing about any of family or friends in detail. I want to respect their privacy.
  3. Editorializing in general. I want this to be a summary of facts, leading up to where I am today.

TL;DR version

I’m a 39 year old single, Indian-American man living in Milwaukee, WI, my home town. I’ve been here for just over 4 years now, having moved back after being away for the prior 15 years for school and work. I had a semi-successful carer working in games and entertainment which allowed me to store up some money and support my current simple lifestyle. I’m doing what it’s referred to as “lean fire” I think technically, which is made considerably easier by the fact that I have no debt, no dependants, and a clean bill of health. I am not exactly sure what I want to do next and where.

Ancestry and Previous Generations

I am Punjabi, a region that is crosses over the border of India and Pakistan. Ethnically or religiously speaking my family is Sikh. According to 23 and Me I am 99.9% Punjabi over whatever their timeframe is, 200 years I think. My father was born in Lahore, which is in Pakistan now, but at the time of his birth was still India. He moved along with his family to India when Pakistan and India was formally separated during the Partition in 1947. This was a bloody and messy transition period that affected many people in the region. My Mother’s family was also a part of this migration with her family moving from Punjab to New Dehli, where she would ultimately be born.

My Father came to the US via some type of education visa in the late 60s. He finished his schooling – PhD and Post-Doctorate here, and landed a professor job. He choose Milwaukee because they offered him the most money, although he did have his reservations since the town was not ethnically diverse. When he was somewhat settled he wanted to get married, so he went to India and was introduced to my Mother via family and they got married. She is 10 years younger than him, and moved to the States shortly thereafter. They settled in Milwaukee, with a few one year sabbaticals over the years, and have been here ever since.

Early Life – 0-15

I was born in Dallas, Texas in 1981. I’m a millennial technically, just by a hair. My parents were in Dallas since my father was taking a sabbatical and teaching at SMU at the time. We moved back to Milwaukee when that wrapped up, probably before I was 1 year old. I already had an older sister at the time, two years my senior. She was and is my only sibling.

I don’t remember anything until my pre-k days. I am not sure how old I would be exactly, but maybe in the 4-6 range? I feel like this is quite old for a first memory, and wonder why I can’t remember anything from before. Standard kid stuff, but maybe slightly on the “sad” side memory wise? I can’t think of a better word to describe them, but I know there must be one. Where’s my editor! The biggest event for me during this time was cutting my hair. Observant Sikh men keep their hair long and wear a turban. My parents started me off this way, and my Dad was wearing a turban at the time, but I was having a tough time assimilating with the other kids which lead my parents to get me a haircut. I also adopted a nickname around this time which made it easier for the other kids to pronounce my name. This is all based on accounts provided by my mother – I don’t remember and specific incidents with my hair or name.

I went to a Catholic grade school. I didn’t find it odd at the time, but feel like it’s strange now in hindsight. We went to church every Friday, but when the others went up to get communion I stayed back. I think there were only one or two other kids who did this. School was fine – I was relatively popular since I played sports well. Baseball and basketball. The only times I was ever teased was about my name, usually when we were playing sports at other school’s facilities. My family also spent one of these years in England – 3rd grade for me – which was a big point of pride for my Dad I think since he taught at Cambridge. But it was also great for the whole family since we travelled and saw many countries. My favorite, and the most memorable was going to the Pyramids in Egypt.

Education was always a priority in my family. My sister and I went to the Catholic school to avoid our public school system since we lived in the city. My sister went on to prestigious private school for high school, and that’s where I ended up going too, even though it meant I would be split up from all my friends. The school was about 12 miles away in the affluent suburbs.

Middle Life – High School and College

High school was eye-opening since I was exposed to wealth I had previously never seen. People were rich, and I aspired to be the same way too. I’m not sure, thinking back now, if I wanted it for any reason other than fitting in with the others. I played sports again, and did pretty well. 4 years of varsity soccer, basketball for a few years, tried tennis as well. Academically, I would say I did ok, but never fully applied myself. I was not the type of student who could not study and still get straight As – I could not study and get a combination of As and Bs, which is what I did. I had friends, and managed to get a long with everyone for the most part, which I considered an accomplishment since I was new, and the majority of the class carried-over from middle school. My priorities at this point were fitting in and having friends for my own purposes, and also getting into college more for my parents. There was always pressure to get into a good school, which of course is consistent with a lot of other Asian-Americans. I felt that pressure and knew I had to live up to my side of the bargain. It’s a little sad that I saw college as nothing more than a stepping stone. It was a required to get me a job and also satisfy my parents, not a great opportunity to learn. I was thinking that way when I made my choice – I was overly-pragmatic I would say now. I looked at the rankings, and picked the school that was highest ranked where I felt like I would be accepted. Emory University was ranked #9 that year and they accepted over 40% if you applied early, which I did, and got in. I knew almost nothing about the school and hadn’t been to Atlanta before, but that’s where I ended up going.

College was a continuation of high school. Trying to find identity while also checking boxes. I was used to being around affluent friends now, but met people from a more diverse geographic background. I joined a fraternity since it gave me social credentials, but ended up dropping out before I graduated. I chose to major in Business for no other reason than the financial rewards. I slept-walked through my classes for the most part. I’m getting sad writing this, Jesus! I made some good friends though, one best friend. And I finished in 4 years with lots of the same types of stories and lessons others take from their private college experiences. I owe almost everything to my parents for pushing me through this. Their emphasis on education, and also supporting me financially. I graduated with minimal debt thanks to their contributions, their ability to get me financial aid, and work-study (I was a clerk at the on-campus movie theater). I had a BBA degree from a top school but still didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Career Years

My first job was with a company that had roots in Atlanta and ties to the school, the Home Depot working in Financial Planning. It wasn’t that easy for me to get a first job though – it took at least 6 months and my parents supported me. I came back to Milwaukee, then decided to move back to Atlanta which is where I started. I worked there for a year, which I consider my real business education. I learned on the job.

A friend of mine had gotten a job at video game company we all knew and liked. I knew that would be better that working at a big retailer at least from a personal interest standpoint, so I asked him to help me get in. He knew one of the founders personally which is as good as an in as you can ever get. I got a job there, and moved to San Francisco. I drove there, and still remember seeing the west for the first time. What a big country!

It was fun and a point of pride for me to be working at a company other people deem as “cool”. And I was learning a ton on the job too, I was lucky that my boss was a really great mentor. I was in Corporate Finance, lived in the Valley for a year then in San Francisco with two friends from school. I didn’t take advantage of the city as much as I would have liked since it was all work, and I was introverted by nature, but it was still fun and I saw a lot. I was financially self-sufficient which was also nice, outside of the car I was driving which my parents gave me.

I got on the career track quickly, and I’m not even sure why. I decided I was ready to rotate to keep my career momentum going. The company helped me with opportunities, and I chose to take a role in Asia. Why? I don’t know exactly, outside of thinking it would look good on my resume, and make other people jealous. And allow me to create a narrative about being an adventurer. I moved to Singapore where I worked for a couple years. Exposed to even more of the world, and expat culture. Valuable experience for me, but the best part were some of the places I saw. Siam Reap in Cambodia was probably my favorite.

I didn’t want to get stuck out there and was still primarily concerned with my career, so I was looking for the next move in less than two years. I chose Vancouver because they made sports games there and because I heard it was a cool city. And also because I liked to say that I was living and working internationally. I moved to Vancouver and ended up staying there for nearly 6 years. Much longer than I would have expected. Started off rocky since I joined a project that ended up cratering, but eventually got on board with one of my favorite games from childhood with good timing as the business results were growing. This lead to money and opportunity. Travels, going to big matches, etc. I lived in an apartment looking at the ocean and everything was really nice! Towards the end of my time I started to feel a little boxed in and worried that I didn’t have a move to make within the company. I decided to leave, and I wish I could remember what my mindset was at this point. I did not have anything lined up, but I knew I wanted to try something else. I created a narrative that I was ready for another new adventure.

My last day in Canada, I had an interview with a guy who worked for the same company who just joined a start-up I was interested in. We talked and quickly worked out a deal to join, since I was eager to get my options priced at the right number. I had been scouting the company for a while, but wanted to join the US headquarters in New York. This team was in Florida – not ideal, but I could bank more without the state income tax. So I took the job and moved to Florida. I was there for less than two years – the industry didn’t pan out like I had hoped which was largely out of my control. But there were company and role specific problems as well. My diligence was lacking, and the reasons why I took the job were purely financial which I think came back to bite me.

I left the job and still had a few months on my lease so bummed around Florida for a bit. Went to Spring Training and the Keys.

Back in Milwaukee

I was embarrassed by my failure and reluctant to go back to my network with my tail between my legs. So I decided to take a year off, create a narrative that I wanted to recharge, before jumping back in. Luckily I had enough cash to float me for a while so I wasn’t worried about that side at least.

I came back to my hometown, back to my old house! My family house is a triplex, with the top unit either rented out or lived-in by family while I was growing up. My parents weren’t using it so I moved in. Left all of my stuff in storage.

I will detail my life now in a few days during my self-assessment. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading, and I will talk to you again tomorrow. 2418 Words. 59 Minutes.

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