ALLURE OF THE NEW
Youngsters today are breaking away from conventional, lucrative jobs to follow their own passions, and are enjoying the challenge and adventure on the way, write Soumya M Nair & Aruna Chandaraju
If you thought Hrithik Roshan was the first to create a stir among his fans with his dramatic change in career choice, as Arjun in the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, then think again — the character sketch is merely one that reflects a notion that a growing tribe of youngsters do not slump back in their chairs, after experiencing burn-out, workroom inertia and career breakdowns.
It may have taken a few brave hearts and broken dreams for the pattern to set, but this truly is the generation of youngsters doing the different, doing the new. We look at the lives of a few youngsters who have confidently left behind the familiar-and-comforting for the bigger and the better.
After being closeted away in a cubicle, Chirag Yadav, owner and founder of Chaipatty Teafe, a cafe located right in the middle of a bustling street in Bangalore, left his job at a consulting firm. Before realising his dream to start a cafe, Chirag dabbled with dance right after quitting his corporate job. When he did shift gears, he pulled together the idea of a cafe. “I wanted one that resembled a college chai canteen/stall. A touch of art in the space was something I insisted on giving my customers. I also wanted to create comfy, lounge that doubled up as an art store for jewellery and home decor.”
Chaipatty, only within a few months of existence, became a hot favourite among the young and the old, thanks to Chirag’s own “cutting chai” that’s served in khullars (earthen pots), and Maggi! The place, at all times of the day, is packed to the gills.
Chaipatty, on weekends, serves as a space for workshops on everything from photography, jewellery designing and bartending.
Then there are those like Vijay Pamarthi who have taken a giant leap of faith to follow their dreams. This 30-year-old media person-turned-social activist’s brush with the media lasted only three years. The stint set in him a ticking clock, urging him to tread a new course, one that involved plants and agriculture!
“The idea of getting away from the madding crowd to a quiet, serene place with fresh, clean air had me hooked and what better way to do this than farming?” asks the new farmer, Vijay, who along with his partner Avijit Michael, own land on the foothills of Kodaikanal. The two take turns to visit the plot every month and have plans of creating an eco farm.
“We hope to sustain ourselves through farming. While I have had the opportunity to experiment with other fields, I found myself drawn to the ‘simple life’,” adds Vijay.
Vijay also continues to freelance as a broadcast producer and volunteer for the NGO, India 1st.
Then there are those who make that break in groups. Like the creators of My Sunny Balcony. This venture was started by four IT professionals — Reena Chengappa, Athreya Chidambi, Shailesh Deshpande, and Sriram Aravamudan, — who decided to “do” something about the depleting green-cover of the city.
My Sunny Balcony (MSB) was given wings after the four realised that they wanted to work with nature and start a venture that provided each of them with a sustainable financial model. The team offers help with designing, conceptualising and executing custom-made organic-gardens in urban balconies, terraces, indoor gardens, on a large and small scale.
The gardens are completely personalised. The team can create various versions of gardens for its customers — “zen” gardens, where the owner travels frequently and does not have the time for daily maintenance, and “organic vegetable gardens”, are signature creations by My Sunny Balcony.
The team also conducts urban-gardening workshops and green-awareness programmes on weekends.
“ We were pleasantly surprised with the growing patronage. Our workshops have been the most fulfilling, given that most urbanites know very little about organic farming and going green,” reveals Sriram.
But does this mean that one has to experience a breakdown at the workplace to seek out his/her dream? Can the young try on something new from the outset? Yes, they can. There are many fresh-out-of-college kids who want to find that fitting dress right from the start.
“We wanted to be our own boss. And do what we love, rather than having someone else dictate the terms. That’s the full truth.” says Rahul Cherian who, along with Nagmanohar and Darshan, owns a fast-food joint that serves up hot, easy-on-the-palate hot dogs in a jiffy! The three fresh out-of-college grads had just been placed with software companies when it dawned on them that there was no appeal in a 9-5 job!
The trio set out by creating a list of options. And from that list of 30-40 business plans, the one with food, appealed the most, says Rahul. Thus began a toiling period that involved sourcing finance, finding a space to set up a hot-dog joint, zeroing in on the menu and the other nitty grittys. But once they got the ball rolling, there was no looking back. “The coolest part of our job is seeing old and new customers walk in through our doors. And this has led us to opening up a second joint — we may soon have a chain!,” adds an excited Nagmanohar.
Some pointers before getting started:
* Plan your move. If not to the tiniest of details, have a rough financial plan before setting up the venture.
*Don’t hesitate to sacrifice something in order to achieve your goal. It is only a matter of time before it pays off.
*Don’t sweat over the small stuff. Family and friends may take time to get behind your project, but they almost always do. Keep the faith.
*If you are starting out with a partner, choose a trusted friend or an old acquaintance. Many a time, this has proven to be a safer bet than working with an unknown business partner.
*It is foolish to expect overnight success or change. While you MUST strive for it, don’t give up at the sight of your first, big hurdle. That’s cowardice.