Disclaimer: None of the characters/incidents in this article are inspired by 3 Idiots.
Them: “What was the reaction of your parents?”
Me: “They were speechless, and are still speechless”
Them: “What happens to the knowledge you gained in IIT?”
Me: “IIT teaches you lots of things, not only technical stuff.”
Though I was always inclined towards creative fields, I opted to appear for JEE, which is the best engineering exam in the country. And like every kid from a mid-size town, IIT was a dream. It still is a dream.
When I got through JEE, my heart used to say, if not computer science then I will choose architecture branch. But while filling the options, mind won over heart. And I chose the standard options – Computer science, Electronics and mechanical. There was no architecture in my list.
After getting into IIT, you are treated like a king by your family/friends/city. But once you reach the college, everybody is an IITian. And the race to gain the technical knowledge from the best professors in the country begins. Sometimes the mind just refuses to gain the knowledge. But after surviving an exam like JEE, you get the confidence (confidence rating=75%) that you can pass all the exams. And this confidence actually works (may not get you the best grades though).
I also got a chance to nurture my art skills at IIT. Various competitions related to arts specially the Diwali celebrations more popularly known as ILLU and Rangoli started the creative itch in me. Years passed by. I graduated from IIT with some more knowledge in Arts. Like most of the students, I also got placed into a good MNC. One of my friends had predicted that I will stick to the same MNC all my life. I said “maybe”.
Job security is a prime concern in India. We prefer security. And my job gave me lots of job security. It gave me enough money to enjoy life as well. And I made it a point that I enjoy my life. Most of people in India want to keep earning for everybody else in the family/society. And forget to live for themselves. I hope that changes in the future.
Once I moved to Bangalore, I got more chances to do some creative courses. I started learning animation and I decided to go to US for studying animation. My family was shocked when they heard this. My mom asked me “what happens to your IIT degree?”.
Anyway, after analyzing the financial viability of animation, I dropped the idea of pursuing it. (Confidence rating=70%). At the same time, my bro-in-law had bought a digicam and I started doing photography, people liked my work. I got inspired by two friends of my friends Anupam and Gaurav, who used to maintain a daily photoblog. I also started my photoblog on flickr. I used to write a small interpretation/story associated with each picture. It was well received. And this gave me more motivation. (Confidence rating=90%)
I bought my first camera (DSLR) when I was on a business trip to South Korea in Sept’2007. And then the journey started. I started doing more and more photography. Some people used to comment on my photographs daily. There were many people who silently followed my work, and would tell me once in a while that my photographs made them happy. This would bring me a sense of satisfaction. (Confidence rating=95%)
Arts related jobs are not very highly rated in India, so a decision to move into photography was still a far dream. Many people have the habit of commenting without looking at your work. “You want to move into photography from a software job? Are you mad?” this is something which you might hear often (confidence rating=85%). Anyway I used to compare myself with myself. And I wanted to keep improving on my work. (Confidence rating=95%)
In between I also attended some theater workshops, which gave me some nice friends who supported my creative side. And this gave me more confidence.
Time moves very fast, and it was already 2 years that I maintained my photoblog. The response became better. I had never tried to sell my photographs. (I still haven’t). But there were some people who hired me for some assignments. (confidence rating=100%)
The turning point came when I was selected to cover 2010 Kingfisher Calendar Launch event. My work from the launch event got me some more fans. It increased my confidence to make a career switch. (Confidence rating=150%, confidence threshold exceeded). I decided to take a tough decision. I decided to quit my job.
There is a big difference between “what you can do” and “what you wish to do”.
When an IITian decides to do an MBA just after IIT, nobody really cares that what part of his knowledge from IIT he is going to use. But when the same IITian goes to a non standard path, people start raising eyebrows. But what I feel is if you have the passion, then there will be results, maybe slow maybe fast. But there will be results.