Humans of Harker: Curiosity beyond bounds

Suraj Pakala channels curiosity to lift others

%E2%80%9C150+years+ago%2C+no+one+even+dreamt+of+making+a+car+or+what+they+could+be.+But+someone+out+there+just+asked%2C+%E2%80%98Why+can%E2%80%99t+we+move+on+an+engine+instead+of+horses%3F%E2%80%99+or+%E2%80%98Why+isn%E2%80%99t+there+an+easier+solution%3F%E2%80%99+and+like+that%2C+someone+just+created+a+feat+of+engineering+that+is+still+used+today.+It%E2%80%99s+fascinating+to+see+how+such+brilliant+inventions+stem+from+simple+curiosity+and+questioning%2C%E2%80%9D+Suraj+Pakala+%28%2719%29+said.

Devanshi Mehta

“150 years ago, no one even dreamt of making a car or what they could be. But someone out there just asked, ‘Why can’t we move on an engine instead of horses?’ or ‘Why isn’t there an easier solution?’ and like that, someone just created a feat of engineering that is still used today. It’s fascinating to see how such brilliant inventions stem from simple curiosity and questioning,” Suraj Pakala ('19) said.

While Suraj Pakala (’19) on campus is notorious for being “the car guy” or sporting his black yeezys, something most don’t know about him is that it is his curiosity that drives his every action.

Suraj’s dad, an important figure in Suraj’s life, gave him a piece of advice that has resonated with him throughout his growing up.

“My dad always tells me to question everything, to explore whatever I am curious about,” he said. “Sometimes, I drop whatever I’m doing, regardless of how important it is, and go do something else that excites me. Like, one time, I went out for a drive to explore the city around me instead of doing my MVC homework. I feel like people often succumb to pressure and get caught up in what’s required or important to others.”

This curiosity manifests itself beyond raising his hand in his first period AP Statistics class to ask why a certain formula works. Rather, it appears even further in projects outside the classroom he throws himself into.

“After my sophomore year, I went to India like I usually do to visit my relatives,” Suraj said. “It’s just something my family does every year. When I went on [that] trip, my grandfather was facing some agricultural issues, and I was really curious about what was happening.”

After speaking with farmers including his grandfather, he looked to pinpoint a specific problem, and eventually, find a simple solution.

“After interviewing different farmers, I diagnosed the problem: farmers don’t exactly know the exact price they can sell their products for before going to the market,” Suraj said. “That’s a huge problem because once they get there, middle men can cheat them and tell them to sell their crops at much lower prices than what they actually could’ve made.”

After delving deeper into the problem and gaining support of a company in India that provided Suraj with developers, he developed Rythu.

“The issues could be fixed with simple technology of informing farmers of the price, and that’s what I set up to do that summer,” he said. “I created Rythu, that helped farmers know market prices before they actually went to the market.”

Jay Menon (’19), Suraj’s best friend, highlights Suraj’s attitude towards adversity.

“Suraj always has an optimistic view towards life,” Jay said. “He always approaches problems without worrying about negative outcomes and always hoping for the optimal result, even when it doesn’t seem likely. He never worries about the downsides of things. He always just goes for it. He makes the choice if something is worth pursuing, and if it is, he won’t stop until he either succeeds or fails. He always adopts the attitude that it’ll be successful and approaches it from a positive angle, which a lot of people can’t do.

Suraj’s younger brother, Sujith Pakala (9), reflects on another one of Suraj’s qualities he admires: his ability to be a leader.

“He’s a leader. We got a dog…and I didn’t do anything. He knew how to take care of him, and he did all his research, so I didn’t have to worry about anything. He helps me a lot… like with homework,” Sujith said.

Beyond Rythu, Suraj’s curiosity can also be found with his love for cars.

“150 years ago, no one even dreamt of making a car or what they could be,” Suraj said. “But someone out there just asked, ‘Why can’t we move on an engine instead of horses?’ or ‘Why isn’t there an easier solution?’ and like that, someone just created a feat of engineering that is still used today. It’s fascinating to see how such brilliant inventions stem from simple curiosity and questioning.”

In the next few years, Suraj plans to expand Rythu to multiple states, working through the many dialects and languages in India.