The Haphazard Blog

About

About Jitesh Gandhi

My Name

You may be wondering how to pronounce my name. It’s difficult to do it perfectly in English on the first try because it contains a “letter” that isn’t in the English language. So when you read it, your instinct is to pronounce the ‘t’ as a ‘t’ instead of as a ‘th’. So my name is pronounced JEE-thesh (‘jē-thesh). It is often pronounced JEE-tesh (‘jē-tesh) or ji-TESH (ji-‘tesh). I’m OK with any of them. I don’t hold it against anyone or make a fuss. My nickname is “G”. I think everyone knows how to say Gandhi (shockingly, spelling it is a whole other matter).

Biography

I spent my early years in Salem, MA. I went to Witchcraft Heights Elementary School and Middle School East (Alpha). Looking back, it was my favorite place to live so far. We were near the ocean, great for the summer, and had all the seasons. As a kid, you love snow. It means you might have a snow day and you can play with your friends in the snow all day. The worst thing is you might have to shovel the driveway. I really can’t think of anything bad about living there during that time.

We then moved to Morgantown, WV. It was a change that I didn’t really want. New school, new friends. Back in Massachusetts we had our friends from school, friends who we lived near and a lot of Indian friends in the area. It seemed like we all got together every couple of weeks. We all got along so well. In West Virginia, that wasn’t the case. I didn’t get along too well with the majority of the Indians. I’m not exactly sure why. It almost felt like it was some type of initiation that I failed.

I started school at Cheat Lake Junior High. So I went from the bottom of the food chain at a Middle School to bottom of the food chain in Junior High. It was also my first introduction to cliques. My guess is there weren’t any cliques in Salem because our class sizes were smaller. We’d all change classes together. So about 30 of us were always together in whatever class it was. Math, Science, Music, Art, Gym, etc. In Junior High, it was the first time that you had different classes with different people. I think I moved through various cliques and just ended up with a few friends in each. I think I might be infamous for trying out for the basketball team and making one basket over a 2 or 3 day tryout. (I remember one girl asking me if it was a true story when we were in High School, I told her sadly it was.)

Towards the end of Junior High I started to go to a camp during the summer called Multicultural Camp. I’m sure the only reason my parents let me go is because it was supposed to be educational. I went there for 3 or 4 summers and each year I met different people from all over the state, just for a week. We kept in touch well after the camp ended, and I still talk to some people from there to this day.

From there, it was on to University High School. This time, they decided to turn all the Junior Highs into Middle Schools, so the freshman came with us to High School. I think this is where I felt the most comfortable. There were so many more people. Much less cliquey too. Got to know a lot of people from from near by towns. I played soccer my Junior year and started to pick up Lacrosse.

During the summer following my Junior year I got an internship at West Virginia University Hospital. I got to work in the department of orthopedics. It was one of the neatest jobs I’ve ever had. They were performing microsurgery on mice and testing fibrin glue. They were teaching me how to do sutures and I thought by the end, I’d get to participate in the surgery. Up to then, I had wanted to be a Computer Engineer for as long as I could remember, but now I wanted to be a doctor. There was a research assistant in the department who was telling me that an engineer applying to medical school would stand out and likely have a leg up. Neurology and Electrical/Computer Engineering seemed to go together perfectly.

Later that summer, I had my accident. Long story short, a friend flipped me over his hip and he had my arms pinned to my side, so my fall was broken by my head. The impact broke my neck in two places and resulted in a spinal cord injury paralyzing me. My brother called 911 and I knew exactly what had happened to me on my way to the hospital. I remember asking the paramedics what my chances or paralysis were. Once in the ER I remember pleading with them not to cut off my favorite shorts and them giving me oxygen. I started to feel sick and all I could think was I was strapped down to a board, fully immobilized, and I was about to throw up. I yelled and within seconds people were with me turning the backboard on its side. The rest of the time, I was in and out of consciousness, waking up during tests.

At some point, I woke up in ICU on a bed that tilted from side to side. I had no idea that I was in traction and had two screws in the side of my head. Eventually I was able to get an MRI and was fortunate enough to not need a halo to stabilize my neck. I spent a little under two weeks in ICU and acute care before going to inpatient rehabilitation. For 3 months, physical and occupational therapists worked with me (from my perspective they tortured me) for about 6 hours a day. Then I was finally able to go home.

Throughout my hospitalization I learned who my closest friends were. Those people will never know how much it meant to me to have them around. I’m sure it was not easy for them. My final diagnosis was C5-c6 Incomplete Spinal Cord injury. I’ve made pretty good progress in recovering from the injury, but not 100%. It’s a continuing process to this day.

I spent my Senior year being home schooled and then begged my doctor to tell my parents I should wait a year to go to college and focus on physical therapy. He said no and I was off to West Virginia University to major in Computer Engineering. I can’t explain how nervous I was the first day. None of my close friends who stayed to go to WVU were in the engineering program. Of course, within seconds everything was fine.  I ran into people I hadn’t seen in years and made new friends pretty fast. All in all I had a good time i college. I graduated Magna Cum Laude in 4 years.

I didn’t get a job working on the hardware side like I had wanted. My offers were all on the software side. I took the job close to home mostly because I couldn’t live by myself and I didn’t want to split my parents up. In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t. The two offers that would’ve had me moving were both for weapons. During peace time, working on weapons was appealing. After we attacked Iraq, I realized we had no control over what happens with those weapons down the road. I would’ve personally felt a fair amount of guilt to contribute to it (I may or may not have).

I’ve been working non-stop since (view my résumé is here). We moved to Newton, KS. A big change from West Virginia. Went from mountains to completely flat (and rather boring). For those keeping track, I’ve now moved from oceans to mountains (and never skied!) to flat. Once again I had to leave friends behind. Although I had less friends in West Virginia than Massachusetts, I think I missed them a lot more and was closer to them. I kept working for the same company and telecommuted. I’m now a pro at telecommuting.

So that pretty much covers my life. What’s next? While I was in college, I had planned to work for five years and then go to business school to get an MBA. I don’t think I really knew what I was thinking with that. My cousin had just recently received hers from Harvard and I think it was the hot thing to do for engineers. I want to get out more. That is probably up there as far as regrets go. I did myself a big disservice by not driving when I started college. I was so concerned about how uncool it would be to drive a van and surely I could get to a point where I could drive a car (not practical at all) I did nothing. At a time when I should have been out having fun, I was contributing to my introverted personality. But that’s the great thing about life. I don’t need to dwell on it, I just need to move forward.

Random Facts

  • I am easily startled
  • I have never watched anything that Woody Allen was associated with

About the Domain

I was able to grab jitesh.com when it became free in 2000. I used Network Solutions to grab the domain name as soon as possible after it expired. My first site and blog were written in PHP. A month or so after it was completed, my host went out of business. Until last year, I just used my domain for e-mail and storage. Over the years, I was also able to acquire jitesh.net and jitesh.org. I have no real purpose for jitesh.net but I have plans for jitesh.org.