If I have to write about my life of last one year, then I will probably say, “The man who sold his Scorpio”. I do not have any intention of copying Robin Sharma’s motivation book, “The monk who sold his Ferrari”, but my Scorpio was my Ferrari for many years and I sold it last year so “The man who sold his Scorpio”.
Its been exactly one year today for saying good bye to my high flying, high paying corporate job and getting into field of my passion of last 3 decades, conservation and photography. Each day of this last year has probably challenged me the way I have been never challenged before.
My start up company, Nature Works, which I started with Vidya Venkatesh, my angel and wife, took some shape in one year. I was bankrupt during most of this time, have struggled to meet ends many times, thought about going back to corporate job but what saved me is the happiness of doing what I was doing every day, from creating a truly custom archival pigment studio for artists, creating markets for community initiatives and running my Zero Bite campaign for snake bite death mitigation.
There were days, when I was depressed with the progress of my life but there were also days when I was lost in reproducing colors of great photographers’ work for exhibitions forgetting everything else around me.
There were days when I had cancelled travel plans to meet somebody in the city as those travels would have cost me 100 rupees which I wasn’t having but there were also days when I have travelled miles digitally to connect more people in Zero Bites campaign across geographies. From 10 plus flights a month till 2017 to two flights in the whole of 2018 is a big change in life..
Some moments have bogged me down emotionally and physically; some moments have given me exciting learning and joy. My corporate colleagues looked at me in awe as they only dreamt about what I have done and many friends from the photography and conservation field looked at me as a competition and changed their behavior suddenly. Sometimes changing your lifestyle tells you who your real friends are and who are not. But the amazing thing is nothing has bothered me, as I was happy doing what I am doing.
Yes, you need to reduce your needs, but then you understand its you who have increased them in your past life, those were actually not needed. You also start learning small things with large happiness quotient and you also learn to forget large things with smaller happiness quotient.
We have printed more than 2000 archival prints in 2018 of great works by photographers and painters in India as well as some from abroad and created a unique experience of custom printing for them, we are very proud to do this after losing our first studio to flash floods in 2017 which drowned our computer systems, media and other accessories. We have partnered with like-minded people and organizations throughout last year and took part in exhibitions and panel discussions. I ended the year personally on a high as an external invitee to teach digital printing to Photography students of Symbiosis School of Photography in December.
We have supported Last Wilderness Foundation and Kanha Forest Department by creating online market and commercial model for sustaining community initiatives of Baiga jewellery and Pardhi whistles. Success of such initiatives lies in taking care of all partners, from our communities to our retail partners. As the end market increases we can expand these initiatives on ground to include more members from the communities. We believe that when all our partners cover their costs, then our communities make profit with increase in volumes, which makes a project sustainable in the long run.
Zero Bite campaign was started just as a wild idea of mine in 2017, which has taken much better shape during 2018 and have become a small-scale campaign for reducing snakebite deaths in our country. We were part of the State Forest Department’s SOP of Snake Rescue to being Technical advisor to the most successful snake friends’ conference held in Mahad, Maharashtra attended by 800 plus members. Nature Works has also partnered with like-minded individuals and groups to form Indian Snakebite Initiative and keep supporting Global Snakebite Initiatives.
I have been guided, advised, supported, laughed, looked down, rejected by many people, and I am thankful to all of them as it has given me great energy and perspective of life.
When I sold my Scorpio, as it wasn’t much used and had become a financial liability, it was a practical decision during that time, but it was also a very emotionally draining decision, as I had loved that vehicle and have some unforgettable moments with it in extreme environments of Ladakh and Western Ghats. What cheered me up was Pratik, my son’s reply when I told him the news, he just said, “its alright, if you need you will buy it again in future.” Sometimes your kids show you more maturity than your own self.
My stress, my tantrums, my mood changes and all my financial needs of 365 days were absorbed by my WiFi, Vidya, who has kept me in full network coverage of sanity in 2018, without her I would have been a mental case.
There are many who have done this before, and there will be many who will do it in future, as there are people who follow their real dreams and not the ones dictated by society. But I can tell you, nothing is going to be easy, it looks glamorous and adventurous, but it comes to how strong you are internally in your soul and you also need to be lucky with your support systems. My kids, parents, in-laws and few close friends stood by me, though I know they were worried inside for my decision of leaving a secured life.
At the end of 2018 and start of 2019, I am happy, may not be successful in my goals yet, but survived the worst and nothing can be worst than the 2018 struggle. So come on, bring it on; I will be here still at end of 2019 and many more years to come.
Happy New Year to all those who seek happiness by following their passion.