Runaway JEE Aspirant Optimist After Mumbai’s Lessons

Runaway JEE Aspirant Optimist After Mumbai’s Lessons

Utkarsh Jha, a 17-year-old disheartened by his JEE scores, embarked on an unexpected journey. Fleeing home to Mumbai, he navigated challenges, finding odd jobs and friends.

Simple VishwakarmaUpdated: Thursday, March 07, 2024, 12:49 PM IST
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Meet Utkarsh Jha, a 17-year-old with a story that goes beyond textbooks and exams. It all started when Utkarsh, feeling down after scoring 69 percentile in the JEE, decided to leave home. His mom's comments didn't help, and he was on a mission to figure things out.

In a candid conversation with The Free Press Journal, Utkarsh Jha spilled the beans on what led him to leave home. He revealed his feelings by saying, "After the result, I became frustrated and upset at the same time, and my mind went blank." He was dismayed that his JEE exam percentage was lower than he had anticipated. "I knew that my percentile was not satisfactory; it was average," he stated, highlighting his goal of achieving a score of 90 or above.

How all did it started?

Utkarsh began his journey into the field of JEE preparation from 11th grade with the intention of pursuing engineering. He studied coaching at the Allen Coaching Institute in addition to attending Red Rose Public School. However, when he approached the twelfth grade, questions about his abilities began to arise. He said realising the JEE was no walk in the park, "My preparation journey was inconsistent; I often found myself getting distracted."

Utkarsh stressed "Only the top 5% secure admission to good colleges," underscoring the difficulties faced by hopefuls similar to himself. Utkarsh saw a clear disparity between what students were expected to do and what they really accomplished. He continued, "Every student thinks they can pass, but only 5% actually do." Utkarsh understood that IIT was out of league, thus he had set his sights on a B-Tech at NIT or any other government college.

Then came the twist - He decided to run to Mumbai

He went to the Gateway of India after taking a train to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, where he met two other ran away children. Together, they explored Mumbai's streets in search of a means of surviving. Utkarsh stated, "We went to Dadar where I realised I needed money," revealing how basic needs guided his decisions in a trying circumstance. He thought it would be a wonderful idea to sell flowers on Valentine's Day. Using his cunning, he purchased the flowers and sold them for a higher price.

Utkarsh decided to help those two kids in getting work. "I kept those two kids with me, promising to take care of everything," he recalled. But one of the children lost interest and went away, so another kid name Aditya was the only person who remained with Utkarsh. In hopes to achieve something, Utkarsh accepted a 10,000 rupee job as a receptionist and worked as a waiter at Flavours Restaurant in Dadar which came with housing and food. In addition, he found a job for Aditya at a local franky shop. But after two days, Aditya disappeared, leaving Utkarsh by himself.

Despite Obstacles, Utkarsh Remained Optimistic

He continued in using his creativity and cleverness to get by. He stated, "At the same time, I did freelance work, designed logos and made connections." Utkarsh made new friends in Mumbai that helped him in his journey. He became friends with yoga instructor Rahul Jaikar, whose connections helped him to in finding a logo designing work for the bakery.

Then, he found himself in a complicated situation when he saw his father outside the restaurant who was posted in Kargil. Although Mumbai Police was actively looking for him he managed to stay hidden in the crowd of Mumbai. "I decided to stay inside the restaurant for three days after seeing a post that went viral on Instagram using a friend's phone," he stated, thinking that he would be kept secret from his parents until he accomplished something.

During this time of reflection, Utkarsh questioned if it was the right choice for him to give another year to JEE preparation. He brought up the disturbing suicide rates in IITs and voiced worries about the future of students in fields like mining and mechanical engineering who have difficulty finding jobs. He thought, "While Computer Science excels in top IITs, other branches lack promise."

As he thought back on his time in Mumbai, Utkarsh had nothing but praise for the city, its pleasant environment, and the chances it offered to live a happy life. His stay there served as a starting point for his growth and self-discovery. He emphasised the value of stepping beyond of one's comfort zone and seizing life's opportunities, even in the absence of financial stability.

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