Software Development

This software engineer turns to skydiving to ‘recharge’ her brain

Capital One's Shilpa Jindal prefers hobbies of the thrilling variety.

Shilpa Jindal recently started taking skydiving lessons. (Courtesy photo)

Tech culture can be so focused on work and efficiencies that it makes us forget everything else. Off the Clock is a series where we interview people in the tech scene but don’t ask any questions about work.

Shilpa Jindal never wanted to be the kind of person who just does one thing. That’s why the Capital One master software engineer fills her free time with hiking, cooking and skydiving.
Below, Jindal shares her most challenging hike spot, her recipe for chicken biriyani and why she loves horror movies, even if they don’t scare her one bit.


Where’s the craziest place you’ve hiked in the entire world?
It was Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, where, when you hike, there is a level where you’re on all fours. Climbing up was simple, the scary part was coming down, because you had to balance yourself so you wouldn’t fall off. At times, I was walking between two rocks holding a rope, which was a little scary, but it was fun.
Why do you like climbing so much?
I guess I like adventure, and I love nature. I think it’s in my nature of loving challenges. I recently started my first lesson in skydiving and loved it.
What possessed you to want to do skydiving?
It was on my bucket list. I wanted to experience that, how it feels falling from a helicopter. Falling 200 miles per hour with the wind is pretty amazing, and the view of the entire city is beautiful.

Jindal Kayaking

Shilpa Jindal on a getaway. (Courtesy photo)

What kind of meals do you like to cook?
I usually cook Indian food, but I like trying different recipes — Italian, Mexican or Chinese, different kinds of cuisines. I keep it healthy, so I always look for food which is organic and healthy. I like spicy because it needs to have flavor. I like trying new recipes because then I don’t get bored of cooking. I’d hate cooking otherwise. [Laughs.]
What’s your favorite thing to make?
The thing I love cooking is chicken biryani because it comes with lots of things to do, so I love that. When I make my chicken biryani, I add some vegetables, so it’s just not chicken, and then I add lots of nuts, saffron, lots of spices, then I make rice, roast the vegetables and add the spices, then put it in the oven with layers of chicken, rice and vegetables, making it flavorful. Then I add saffron so that some of the rice is spicy and some of the rice is yellow. I don’t like adding food coloring or anything, I like keeping everything fresh. I top it with cilantro. I like cooking it on low heat for an hour at 375 degrees. The slow cooking really brings the flavor out, and the chicken is really soft.
What kind of movies do you like?
I’m more into action movies. The Avengers, Captain America and stuff. I also like thriller movies too, which include horror. I don’t like romantic comedies. The Princess Bride, teenage movies, sometimes I like those when I’m alone, or Eat, Pray Love, but I usually like action movies, horror movies or something thrilling. I liked Insidious, that was pretty good. The movie that scared me the most of the horror was called Orphan. [Laughs.] She was scarier than ghosts.
Why do you like horror films the most? Is it just the factor of the scare?
I don’t get scared. [Laughs.] It’s just fun, action, it’s different from real life. I find it funny sometimes. I just like movies that are way different from your everyday life. [Horror movies] are obviously different from your everyday life. [Laughs.]
How do you feel this time away from technology— the cooking, the movies, the hiking— helps you in the technological sense?
It’s relaxing, definitely. Sometimes, if I don’t take a vacation for months, I start feeling exhausted and then I feel I need a break, I just need to go visit some new place so I can freshen myself up. It’s really refreshing and it gives me the feeling of being an all-rounder. I never wanted to be just studious or just doing one thing, I wanted to be doing everything I could to get out and explore, and also you get a work out. Sitting at work, my kind of job, you’re sitting for eight hours, coding really hard. So when I cook, I will play a movie, play some music or have fun or something so that my house isn’t silent. I’m always just recharging my brain.

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