As rightly said, “you get the most when you expect the least!”. While the memories of my first international trip to the United States of America didn’t fade away, I had another opportunity in hand, thanks to my supercool advisor, Dr. PK. I had visited University at Buffalo as a Research Assistant (June – Aug ’13) under the guidance of Prof. H. R. Rao. The experience was enriching! (curious ones can read my blog here! :-)) This time, it was New York University, Abu Dhabi as a Research Assistant for 8 long months! It was different from previous one in terms of duration and responsibilities (Well, I’m a PhD student now ;-))
I was working in joint collaboration with Prof. Mustaque Ahamad, one of the top names in our security research community and Payas Gupta, Research Scientist at NYUAD. Everything was pretty much set before flying to Abu Dhabi, thanks to Payas for doing the needful. I got a perfect adieu from friends and colleagues, here in India, with CERC’s evening get-together. On October 19, 2014, I left to live a new dream awaiting me, bidding goodbyes to family. The journey was pretty much smooth and I settled down well, admiring my new apartment, in the campus itself. Evening was spent exploring the new destination and gearing up for the next day.
Next morning started with the campus tour, followed by setting up a few admin things to get started. Post-lunch, I met Dr. Husrev Taha Sencar, senior Research Scientist and CRISSP (Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Security and Privacy) manager. CRISSP had people (researchers, post-docs, masters, research engineers) from various departments and interests, very much aligned with our center CERC, here in IIITD. I met some passionate researchers in the lab working on cool and interesting stuff. CRISSP, NYUAD had a pretty descent and cordial working environment. I made friends within no time and started enjoying my work. I remember having a lot of technical discussions with people around, during a cup of coffee, and was always amazed and fascinated with their perspectives. Payas, always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, was an amazing mentor and friend. He helped in resolving challenges encountered while solving a research problem. An ardent work-alcoholic himself, he taught me how one should love one’s own work! I’m glad we got along really well and could work some good problems 🙂 I got lucky with Mustaque visiting Abu Dhabi for a couple of weeks, an exuberant personality in his own, and we synergized quite well. Needless to say, my skills honed working with an experienced researcher and guide like him. We used to chat for long hours and it was a fabulous experience to understand how he approached a problem.
Apart from work, I had a lot of fun in Abu Dhabi too; PK’s surprise visit with family, my family’s visit, dinner outings with Mustaque and Payas, CRISSP outings, and usual hanging around with some amazing friends I made there. Not to forget, I even had an unexpected, fantastic international birthday bash 🙂 It worked as a catalyst to impart energy and impetus to work. Overall, it was an invaluable experience, both personally and professionally and the learnings would remain with me for a long time! I would like to extend special thanks to PK, Mustaque, and Payas for giving me this wonderful opportunity and ever-lasting support, encouragement, and guidance making it even more memorable.
Below is the picture during one of the fun-filled evening with Mehfuz (Mustaque’s wife), Taha, Mustaque, and Payas.