#TalkbackTuesday 9 – Rishika Chhajer

#TalkbackTuesday number 9 – with Rishika Chhajer, and we talk about careers, life lessons, and music.


Hi, and welcome to #TalkbackTuesday, which is where I feature people and interview them. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another, and realize it is just as complex and confusing and large as your own.

This week’s interview is text-only and for the first time, I received an interviewee recommendation. At the request of Francisco Mendes (Interview), I spoke to his friend Rishika Chhajer. See below.

Q1. For the readers, who are you, what do you do, and what is your current side project?

I am Rishika, doing a Masters in Economics from ISI {not the one in Pakistan}. I am currently doing a project to study individual rationality in agents and also trying to train this pup on campus.

I am a nerd. Potterhead. Animal Lover. Bibliophile. And Baking enthusiast.

TalkbackTuesday - Rishika Chhajer | Thorough and Unkempt
Rishika identifies on a deep emotional level with Sarah’s Scribbles.

Q2. If you had to pick one – Harry Potter, pets, books, or baking, which one would you choose and why?

I think that is the most difficult question I have ever been asked. I’d pick books: I’d get Harry Potter along with it. I get to have my cake and eat it too!

Throw in a few cookbooks and I’d have two and a half!

Clever, especially the cake bit! Q3. Switching gears, could you dumb down your rationality project for the common man? Also please pitch statistics and explain why you think more students should study statistics.

We economists are overly fond of assuming things. You must have heard the joke. When asked how he’d light a cigarette without a matchstick or lighter, the economist says, ‘We assume there is a lighter.’ Moving on to the project, theory says agents will behave a certain way, assuming that they are rational. But no one ever cares to verify if agents are rational. So we’re conducting this experiment to see if people in real life actually behave as theory predicts.

TalkbackTuesday - Rishika Chhajer | Thorough and Unkempt
Economists have God complexes.

I am not a Statistics student exactly. What I study is Quantitative Economics, which is an amalgamation of Stats and Economics. But if you study stats and get your variables and models right you can essentially predict the future.

With some standard error, of course.

4. Given your disposition to economics, where do you see yourself in the future? What can we expect of Rishika Chhajer in, say, 7 years’ time?

Is 7 a Harry Potter reference? Because that’s awesome! I don’t have very concrete plans for the future at the moment. I am joining Standard Chartered as an analyst this July. But I’d love to work as an economist for a major bank one day.

At this point in my life I’ve had enough of formal education, because all I have done for 22 years is be a student. So I’d really like to go out there and experience the “real world” first hand. So I am tremendously excited about my job at this moment. There are no PhD aspirations at the moment, though some people I know have bets placed on how soon I’ll quit the corporate world to return to academics. The next 7 years involve a lot of learning, professionally; figuring out what exactly in my dream job, because at this moment too many things excite me, and then going for that one thing! At this moment I think it would be as the head economist for a bank, because I think it’s really cool and I’d get to be a big bad corporate boss!

Q5. Do you have anything to plug – either yours or someone else’s? If not, do you have any parting words or advice for the reader?

Can I just say Calvin is awesome! And he gives the most amazing life advice. Let me hunt down this meme which has some very wise words.

TalkbackTuesday - Rishika Chhajer | Thorough and Unkempt

Along the same lines, Carl Sagan’s theory of plate blue dot. Quoting Wikipedia: Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles, 40.5 AU), as part of the Family Portrait series of images of the Solar System.

In the photograph, Earth’s apparent size is less than a pixel; the planet appears as a tiny dot against the vastness of space, among bands of sunlight scattered by the camera’s optics. And then Sagan says: From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Essentially what I am saying is we care too much about too many things.

TalkbackTuesday - Rishika Chhajer | Thorough and Unkempt
In the end, it doesn’t even matter.

Thank you for reading Talkback Tuesday! You can leave a follow-up question for Rishika in the comments below and I’ll try and get an answer for you.

Next, check out last week’s interview Right Here.