The Stories Of 16 Inspired Young Indians Who Chose Their Dreams Over Stability [Vol I] - Homegrown

The Stories Of 16 Inspired Young Indians Who Chose Their Dreams Over Stability [Vol I]

“My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results... but it is the effort that’s heroic, as I see it.”

   -George R R Martin

We believe you’re familiar with our fascination for those who lead double lives professionally, that we explored through the lives of 36 individuals across two volumes (that you can check out here and here). These are the guys burning the candle at both ends, and doing a fine job at it. Then, there are those who choose to go off the deep end and vouch completely and irrevocably for their dreams (and no, they don’t get much sleep either). For these dreamers, we have a special kind of respect.
It takes immense courage – and a healthy dose of madness  – to put an end to what is potentially a financially stable life to pursue your real calling, and we scoured the space for individuals who have, at different points in their lives, taken a step back and reevaluated what their dreams meant to them before deciding to throw their entire weight behind them. Here are 16 individuals who’ve truly followed their hearts, and won us over while at it.

[There is no dearth of passionate dreamers and wanderers. We will be coming up with another list of inspiring young Indians who chose dreams over stability. Do watch out for it!]

I. Allen Claudius George - Lazy. Determined.Laid Back.

Who: 32-year-old Al Claudius is a fashion blogger who runs Bow Ties and Bones. A self-taught man, he has tapped into his inherent aesthetic sense to organically grow as a stylist.
On completion of his MBA, Al was picked up from campus by Citigroup at a package that was the highest paying in his batch at the time. He worked in the same company for 9 years from 2006 although it changed entities thrice in as much time.

“It was a fabulous experience though because every day on the job was a learning experience. I did everything from manage operations, staffing, people, validation of work output and client servicing,” he explains. “I would go in to work at early hours, my team was fun to work with and I respect them a lot more than they can collectively ever respect me. It was their commitment to the job and ability to deliver that made me look good, end of the day. The clients on the other hand were an absolute delight too.”

 “Dreams are…best when they are realized! There is plenty of time to sleep when you are dead. Now is the time to get cracking on those dreams.”

On his passion for fashion

“I feel quite kicked about it,” he admits. “I am still testing the waters and it seems to be going pretty good with my blog and some consulting projects that I have signed up for. I’m going to give it everything I got because I have made that call and taken that risk of quitting a comfy job. I better make it worth my while.”
Al remembers getting quite high on beef and rum on New Year’s and declaring that 2015 was going to be the year of paradigm changes, and he decided that he would make a disruptive change in his life. “And the decision to quit was exactly that. I wanted to venture out into the unknown. To actually dive in and realize if the grass really was greener rather than brood about it in the luxury of an air-conditioned conference room.”

The Biggest Challenge?

“Fixed working hours, 5 day weeks, knowing no matter what at the end of every month you will get your pay credited with benefits like insurance, PF, structured work conditions etc.,” he says, of his previous job. “Not a day goes by, when a fleeting thought of “what if” swims by. But I have taken this call and it is for the best is what I believe. You can have it easy and complain or have it tough and fight it. I was on top of my game when I quit my corporate job and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Quit when you are winning, don’t they say?”

One line that inspires him
“Never give up on a dream, just because of the time it will take to accomplish it.”

You can stay updated with Al’s work on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterestLinkedIn & through his Blog

II. Amrita Diwanji - Creative. Passionate. Determined.

Who: 28-year-old Amrita Diwanji is a Bombay-based freelance photographer with a real zest for food and travel.
While that does sound like the dream, it took two degrees and five years of working in management consulting for Amrita to actually realize that she wanted to translate my passion into a career.

”My first job in consulting was based in London and involved regular travel to Paris, while the second one in the industry was based in Bombay, with frequent trips to Bangalore,” she explains. “The opportunity to travel and interact with people from different parts of the world was something I really enjoyed but the glamour of consulting slowly faded. I did enjoy the corporate world but it wasn’t thrilling, it wasn’t passion and it certainly wasn’t the reason I woke up everyday. That’s when I knew something needed to change.”

“Dreams are attainable reflections of what your soul seeks.”

On her passion for photography
”Photography has always been a very big part of my life,” she admits. In 2012, she won London’s Lonely Planet Photography Contest as well as the KAYAK Photo Contest, which fuelled her interest in the field and after moving to Bombay in 2013, she found herself more intensively involved in fun shoots over the weekends – and that is how it all began.

”I inherited my mother’s old SLR when I was in college and before I knew it, every weekend trip and every holiday involved photographic experimentation – be it capturing a city’s light trails or freezing waterfalls. And that is exactly how I enhanced my skills and knowledge over the years – through trial and error.I am excited about the adventures that lie ahead and feel lucky to be able to call this my career.

”Today, I can’t think of many things I do with the same passion, creativity and tenacity as photography.”

The Biggest Challenge?

”The biggest challenge I face at the moment is typical to any freelancer – an unpredictable work pattern. Some weeks can be ridiculously busy whilst others can be rather quiet.”

One line that inspires her

“That thing that you do, after your day job, in your free time, too early in the morning, too late at night; that thing you do when you’re all alone and there’s no one to impress, nothing to prove, no money to be made, simply a passion to pursue; that’s it – that’s your thing, that’s your heart – that’s the thing you must, must do.”

You can contact Amrita over email, and follow her on Instagram.

IV. Arunima Majhi - Space-cadet. Every-animal-lover. Hungry.

Who: 29-year-old Arunima Majhi is pursuing a career in High Street retail designing as an entrepreneur. Today, she runs her eponymous label, established October 2013.
Arunima’s always knew that she wanted to launch her own label, but had to travel through several crossroads to achieve the dream. She pursued a year of Microbiology, no less, at St Xavier’s as her parents wanted her to become a doctor/engineer, when Lakme Fashion House, the show, came to the rescue. She obtained a Bachelor of Fashion Design Degree from NIFT Mumbai soon after and got a job through campus placements.

“I was designing and handling the womenswear category for a startup brand called Riot,” she says. “The first year was challenging and everyday was a new learning curve. Things started getting stagnant after that, and I could not put any more flowers on t-shirts anymore.”

She did some freelance design work as well and saved up; in 2012, she started her workshop in New Bombay, and the following year witnessed her moving the workshop to to Andheri in partnership with a close friend. In October, she started her eponymous label and launched her debut collection with Lakme Fashion Week under the Gen-Next category.

“Dreams are maddening and comforting at the same time.”

On her passion for design

“While I was going through the grind at NIFT Mumbai, I always felt like design is an extension of me, it’s not a job if you’re loving every bit of the process. From zeroing in on a theme to sketches to actual pieces, it’s exhilarating!”

Arunima admits that being an entrepreneur takes blood, sweat and tears and a lot of missing out on birthdays and weddings, since you’re doing the work of five people at any given time. “But I feel like everything’s worth it because, if not now, when?”

The Biggest Challenge?

“Funding!” her answer is immediate. “Sustaining a clothing label is all about the monies. And if you come from a middle class setup like me, then it’s just harder and slower. Making the product is not enough. You need to market it, promote it. None of which I’m paying for at the moment.”

 One line that inspires her

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahnuik [Palahnuik for president!]

Follow Arunima on FacebookTwitter & Instagram

IV. Bhakti Mehta - Happy. Mad. Ambitious.

Who: 30-year-old Bhakti Mehta had always found herself drawn to the alluring world of gastronomy, and is currently a self-taught chef running a homestyle gourmet catering co. called The Little Food Co. Born in April 2010 of ‘sheer passion to cook good, fresh food’, she currently operates from a commercial kitchen space at Versova and is also a food consultant and food stylist.

Before she decided to follow her passion full time though, Bhakti used to work in advertising and television, with a marketing job at Star TV being her last one. “I loved my job, I loved the people I met there and I loved what I learnt there,” she says. “My four years in Star and three years in advertising before, helped with my basic fundamentals of selling an idea. I would not have quit my job if it weren’t for my own thing.”

“Dreams are...worth fighting for.”

On her passion for cooking

“Cooking was my thing, it was my indulgence,” she says simply. “I cooked what I loved, and I loved cooking for others.”

Bhakti confesses that she was pushed by a friend into catering for her as a one time thing, which she did happily. “Over there, we kept business cards, which meant I started getting calls for catering. I just never said no after that. I figured out different aspects of the business with each gig, for as many as four people to ten people. I used to do this only in weekends, as I still had a full-time job...
“Until 10 months later, when I decided to pursue this and ended up quitting my extremely comfortable cushy job for a crazy, no-schedule job that was extremely physical. But I could call it my own! Today, we cater to as many as 25 to 200 people.”

The Biggest Challenge?

“It’s physically & mentally taxing.. I can work or think about work 24/7 until someone actually consciously stops me.”

One line that inspires her

“She turned her cant’s into cans, and her dreams into plans.”

Follow Little Food Co on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

V. Chondamma Cariappa – Strong. Independent. Brutally honest.

Who: 35-year old Chondamma Cariappa is a self-taught shoe designer who boasts of her own shoe brand called ‘The Sole Sisters’. Judged as the Best Shoe Designer at the Grazia Young Fashion Awards, her friends know her as the enthusiastic, happy-go-lucky girl who loves cats.

Before she stepped into her new shoes, Chondamma worked at various advertising agencies for 11 years. “I started as an art trainee in Ogilvy, Bangalore. I soon moved to Mumbai and worked in Ambience Publicis, Contract Advertising and Bates where I was a Creative Director.”
 

“Dreams are another way of telling ourselves that anything is possible.”

On her passion for shoes

Chondamma believes that her passion for shoes was the reason why she decided to leave the advertising industry. “Every time I travelled, I used to put up pictures of shoes I bought from various parts of the world on my Facebook page. This lead to discussions and comments from friends. So I decided to create a larger platform and hence The Sole Sisters shoe blog was started,” she recalls. The success of the blog inspired her to create the Sole Sisters brand of shoes. “Our shoes are now also available in America and Europe, so I feel we’re on the right track,” she adds.

The Biggest Challenge?

“The biggest challenge I faced was teaching myself the business of shoes and shoemaking since I didn’t have any formal education in it. The task was made even harder because it’s an unorganized market. Instead of client meetings, I now have meetings with fabric sellers, suppliers and karigars. But making shoes is just one part of it, the challenge was also to quickly learn the back-end of the business: accounting (insert endless excel sheets here), packing and couriering.”

One line that inspires her

[My dad once wrote me a mail saying this. Reading that mail inspires and motivates me.]
“Majority of the people in the world work for someone else. Very few actually work for themselves and do what they love doing. I’m proud of you.”

Follow The Sole Sisters on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram

VI. Dishant Pritamani – Confident. Vibrant. Compassionate.

Who: 31-year old Dishant Pritamani owns and manages The Daily restaurant and bar in Mumbai. He entered the hospitality industry when it was witnessing a remarkable change in its global trend. “People weren’t looking for big clubs to frequent; dressing up, standing in queues, paying for entry, these were all being traded in for more casual venues. The big clubs were buzzing only on weekends. I felt like a well-done gourmet bar that paid ample attention to detail would definitely work in Mumbai,” he says.

Before he was dealing with the excise department, the police, alcohol vendors, and BMC for his business, Dishant had a stable corporate job as Project Manager in Michigan based IT firm called Syntel. “I used to handle Europe as a division. My job was to ensure that a project is transitioned (from the client meetings to Hiring, Training, IT setup, etc.) smoothly from our clients in Europe to India before I handed it over to the operations team,” he says. Pointing out that the work wasn’t as dry as it may sound, he’s glad that “it involved a lot of travelling and meeting the biggies in the custody and banking sector”.

“Dreams are realized only if you have the confidence and the will to chase them.” 

On his passion for Hospitality

Dishant believes that the monotony in the corporate sector made him quit his job, adding that “It was the same thing, same process, over and over again. I knew one thing and that was I’d like to make people happy, I didn’t know how or where, but I guess that was the underlying principle before the daily came about. At first the process was really slow and looked like it was heading nowhere. But my core team (consultant, Design team, and Operations team) added a lot of passion into the project. The rest is history.”

“I feel extremely liberated and lucky in many ways to be managing a bar where my job is to make sure people are happy and to constantly come with quirky ideas/events to give people a new experience.”

The Biggest Challenge?

“My biggest challenge was transitioning from a career in an extremely highly organised banking sector to Mumbai’s hospitality industry which is super unorganized. The police, The BMC, the licensing agents, excise. It was one big mess. The other big challenge was appetite for risk. From a job with a guaranteed salary and sufficient assurances, to starting an establishment in which I’m pumping in a lot of time and money without any guaranteed returns, there’s a big adjustment in what you can risk in order to earn some money. On a lighter know, my entire body clock has changed, from 11 AM to 8 PM to odd hours, late nights, it’s like I’m functioning in a different time zone. Not complaining here.”

One line that inspires him

[There was a day when I saw Riyaaz Amlani at The Daily, and knowing that he’s a really successful restaurateur, walked up to him to get his opinion on the place. We got chatting and something he said really stuck with me.]

”Don’t go around running trying to open 10 places. Take it easy; enjoy the process because it’s a process that’s the fun and not the result. Build an Institution and not another Bandra bar.”
[It basically meant to focus on something that has values and principles that people will appreciate and come back for, rather than doing things that attract a wide array of people just to ensure more footfalls.]

Follow The Daily on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

VII. Harpreet aka Harry – Straightforward. Adventure Junkie. Rule Breaker.

Who: 32-year old Harpreet is the founder of ‘I Am Alchemy’, a Mix Martial Arts, Yoga and Meditation centre that operates out of an open air, sea-facing studio in the suburbs of Mumbai. He also started his own travel project called BEEP - Beautiful Experience Extraordinary Places, which aims to offer a true traveller’s experience, and not that of a tourist, to the customers.

Previously, Harpreet worked with VH1 and MTV under the umbrella of Viacom for over seven years where he was involved with music festivals, concerts and even TV shows. “I felt like it was high time I left the bubble of a paycheque and build my own dream. I loved what I was doing and where I was working but I had too many ideas that the job was not allowing me to pursue,” he says.

“Dreams are…Lucid.” [“At least mine are.”]

On his passion for fitness and travel

Harpreet had a slip disc from a bike accident six years ago which motivated him to take up Mixed Martial Arts, and subsequently Yoga and meditation, to improve the state of his back. “I owe a lot of big changes in my life to these practices, hence a big passion and which is why the name - I AM ALCHEMY,” he says. Harpreet is now gearing up for his upcoming venture. “The passion that I really left my job for had been under work for the last two years. It’s an Urban Culture Project which, if goes as planned, will be my masterpiece,” he adds.

The Biggest Challenge?

“I don’t know when to stop working. There are no fixed times for anything. Have to start to learn to draw boundaries”

One line that inspires him

 “Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned” - The Prodigy

Follow I Am Alchemy and BEEP on Facebook


VIII. J’son D’souza - Creative. Head Strong. Energetic.

Who: 38-year-old J’son D’souza runs four art-related businesses including Tatau Tattoo Studio, Mumbai, where he is owner/partner.

J’son was a part of the corporate ladder at one point, though, having started off as an agent for American Express at Wipro. 10 years hence he was the Global Training head for the Banking vertical and most people knew him as a training and new projects specialist. With a total work experience of 12 years under his belt, his last position as global training head was very demanding and included a lot of travel.

“As much as I loved doing what I was doing, there was always a feeling of emptiness and yearning of doing more, doing something different. Over the years in the corporate field, I always had the thought of exploring my creative side and not letting it die. As much as I implemented it in my work space, it was not enough; I had to spread my wings.”

“Dreams are the little thoughts that make you smile when you are awake.”

On his passion for art

“It was all about art, creativity, newness of any form,” he says. “To make sure that I kept it alive, I started a tattoo studio while I was working. I kept spending time there on weekends and whenever I was free and one fine day, I just quit my job. Four years hence, I run four successful businesses dealing with body art, auto art, hair art and food art!”

The Biggest Challenge?

J’son puts down finance and month-end expenses as the biggest challenges in the first year. “But all these challenges opened new avenues and made me a stronger person,” he accedes. 

One line that inspires him

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. The only thing constant in life is change.”

Follow J’son on Facebook and Tatau Tattoo Studio

XI. Jonathan Rego - Loyalty. Respect. Hard Work.

Who: 32-year-old Jonathan Rego is India’s first and only FIBA agent, and currently manages Stadium Operations for Mumbai City FC. He also curates sports business news at businessofsport.in and has been working in the Indian Sports industry for seven years now. Previously, Jonathan used to be a banker in Abu Dhabi, working with a high profile team that in three years, went from two people lost in a multistory building to a eight member powerhouse that had a hotline to the CEO of the bank, “I was getting paid cartloads of tax free income, had a fantastic boss, a great management team, and most of all had all my family and friends around since Abu Dhabi is where I grew up. I could not, though, shake the nagging feeling that every night as I went to bed, I had neither made myself better, nor had I made the world a better place. I was content, but not happy. Took me a couple of years to figure out the difference.”

“Dreams are...overrated. Visualize, instead. Dreams allow your mind to fantasize about what you want to achieve, visualization actually gets you there.”

On his passion for sports

“I’ve been a fanatic of sport and specifically, basketball, for over 15 years now. I have played the game competitively and even coached,” he breaks it down. “Basketball is my escape, and now its work also, so my work IS my escape. My daily job is to watch and organize sport. I get to do this from the time I walk in to office, till the time I leave. I’m often so consumed by new projects that 12 - 15 hours back-to-back seem like a breeze.”

Jonathan has managed operations for all NBA events in India from 2008-2013, and as an FIBA agent, he intends to get Indian basketball players professional contracts to play basketball internationally. “This means I’m in a position to help Indian basketball players earn a living doing what they do best, and I can’t think of anything more satisfying and fulfilling than this.”

The Biggest Challenge?

“The family. I come from an especially close family and six years on, being away from them is still difficult.The friends. My work keeps me on the road for more than 6 months a year. This makes it difficult to build long term friendships and relationships.The money. Tax free income in the Gulf as a monthly salary as opposed to making ends meet when you are building a business is a lopsided argument. Especially when the business is in Indian sport, as nothing outside of cricket really makes any money.”

One line that inspires him

[It’s more a philosophy than a line that sums it up best.]

”It’s one thing  to idolize heroes, it’s quite another to visualize yourself in their place.When I saw great people, I said to myself “I can be there”.I saw myself very clearly winning the (Mr. Universe) trophy, raising it above my head and having hundreds of bodybuilders below me looking up at me and idolizing me.Visualize your success, and then go do it.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Follow Jonathan on Twitter & Instagram.

X. Joy Manavath - Restless. Easy going. Coffee Addict.

Who: 33-year-old Joy Manavath has always found his calling in photography, which he’s been pursuing full-time for the past four years and has worked with the most renowned and established agencies in hospitality and food since. He is currently working on a personal project based on the ideal called Pixel-Trade.

For a decade  before this though, Joy worked at his ​family-owned ​business as had been planned for him by his parents. “Part of my job profile then was to recruit blue collar labours which made my job even more uneventful,” he shares. “So eventually, I moved over to dealing with clients. The job over time became very mechanical and mundane, and I started getting bored very soon, sitting in a cubicle 24/7.”

Joy decided that it just wasn’t his thing, and wanted to pursue something more creative and photography made its presence felt in his life in 2010. “More and more equipment found its way into my home and soon​, I knew photography was here to stay. Soon I was doing an extensive and specialised course in photography and before I knew it, Joy Manavath Photography was live and swimming in creative work by 2011.”

“Dreams are motivational without dreams you have nothing, so keep dreaming.”

On his passion for photography

“I was looking to pursue something in advertising or architecture, but as fate had it, I was always meant to hold the camera. ” he shares candidly. “With the shift to digital, I even grow more excited about framing and composition. Today, photography has helped me open up, both mentally and emotionally.”

“The fun bit about creativity is that avenues are limitless. So, though my principal strengths lie in shooting food and interiors, travel assignments, portraits, candids are becoming equally important pillars in my portfolio.”​

The Biggest Challenge?

“I think the most significant challenge was my timing,” he says. “After almost a year studying photography, I jumped right into the scene looking for work whenever possible. I was almost 29 and could not afford to spend a year or more assisting a photographer, which I would have loved to, had I been younger.”

Joy mentions that there were a few other hurdles that he faced that he saw as a challenge and is in fact working on something to bridge that very gap, called the ‘Parallax Project’. “It’s on the drawing board, but I ​hope to create a well-rounded community where the goal is to breed and create a self-sustaining community, which will eventually look to provide a support system for the artist or to the community as a whole. It’s my vision to bring down the walls that breed hostility towards & between fellow photographers and keep the art going.”

One line that inspires him

Henri Cartier-Bresson once said: “Photography is nothing, it’s life that interests me.”
”I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison

 Follow Joy on FacebookTwitter & Instagram.

XI. Nikhil Merchant - Kitchen-addict. Transparent. Nonchalant.

Who: 33-year-old Nikhil Merchant is engaged in a fervent liaison with the food world since 2008. He has now ventured into his own restaurant abroad thinking it apt to focus on channelling his creative juices through this project as Partner & Chef-de-Cuisine, retaining authenticity in the cuisine while keeping an eye on emerging trends. His signature style exudes from his personality and through the eyes of his persona the Nonchalant Gourmand.

Before giving in to the sensuous world of gastronomy, Nikhil Merchant worked in various jobs that were mainly desk jobs. “All these jobs were desk-jobs with great dedication but no passion. I was gradually making my way up the corporate ladder, but there came a point when it all took a toll. I quit and decided to take a sabbatical just to ‘figure things out’.”

His last job before ‘The Nonchalant Gourmand’ was conceptualised was from 2011-2014, dealing with a non-profit organisation called Shop for Changem who had launched their agro project and wanted a food expert on the panel to run it. “It was not what I was looking for but the only two reasons why I saw it beneficial for me was because interacting with farmers would mean the best learning experience for everything ‘food’ at farm level and it was a feel good factor since we were in the Fair Trade space.”

“I loved juggling life in Mumbai and travelling extensively in the interiors, but my first love was food and cooking,” he says with certainty. “This was when a restaurant partnership happened in another country and that is what I am working on right now.”

“Dreams are like cake batter, you get to make a cake with it and eat it too.”

On his passion for food

“Cooking and Writing comes naturally to me and my first tryst with food, professionally, was writing a piece for DNA in 2008 which led me to write a column every Saturday for 1.5 years,” he recalls fondly. “My blog was slowly gaining popularity at the same time and one thing led to another and before I knew it I was blogging, writing for many publications and subsequently thinking of monetizing now that I had an outlet and a platform.”

He is currently working on a project which has been carefully crafted with like-minded partners abroad, to be announced in July 2015 sometime.

The Biggest Challenge?

“There was a major transition period in 2011 when I quit my job at a Commodities Export firm of 3 years to pursue “something in food” (the onus was on writing). Writing does not sustain you, but I was out of the corporate world for almost a year and though I had my savings to sustain my lifestyle, leading a life of nothingness (except writing, or attending gigs or networking) without routine was a bit unnerving.”

One line that inspires him

[I coined it myself since it’s been my mantra since years.]
”What you do unto others is but a sheer reflection of what your own life will do unto you.”

Follow Nonchalant Gourmand on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

XII. Raffael Kably - Always looking forward.

Who: 26-year-old Raffael Kably’s call is the deep blue. Working as General Manager for Soul & Surf India, a surf and yoga stay in Varkala, Kerala, Raffael has also started a surf lifestyle inspired clothing brand with a friend, called Go Left.

Before immersing himself completely in the surf lifestyle, Raffael used to be a DJ and film producer. “I worked in films in Bombay and I absolutely loved it! Or thought I did,” he laughs. “I did enjoy the craziness on set, the mad schedules, the partying etc but I didn’t know what I was missing until I got into surfing and started traveling. No looking back now.”

The beautiful state of Kerala beckoned and he’s been charmed with the coastal life since; he now spends his days surfing, doing yoga, working and really living life.

“Dreams are achievable.”

On his passion for Surfing

“Surfing, travelling and just living a good lifestyle,” he breaks it down. “Living in Bombay got a bit too hectic for me - I mean, you can make a lot of money in the city but then spend it all on a barely functioning one room apartment and overpriced beer in nightclubs!”

He had started surfing a few years before this and since then, had always wanted to carry on and follow the lifestyle that went with it. “Since I moved to tiny, sleepy Varkala, my whole life has changed for the better. I surf almost everyday, sleep early, wake up early and enjoy the occasional party too!”
Raffael firmly believes that it’s all about balance and the passion that he has chosen to pursue gives him the best of both worlds. He’s also excited about having fused his passion for cool T-shirts with his passion for surfing with Go Left, and says, “We’re just about getting off the ground but things are looking great!”

The Biggest Challenge?

“I guess it’s the learning curve. I mean, with Go Left and Soul & Surf both I was thrust into the deep end and had to figure things out as they happened. But after fighting fires constantly  - even though I’m still constantly learning - I’ve built up my confidence and the biggest lesson learnt is that it’s okay to make mistakes... don’t beat yourself too much.”

One line that inspires you

“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all - the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” - Randy Komisar

Follow Go Left on Facebook & Instagram.

XIII. Sahil Chaudry – Work. Faith. Love.

Who: Sahil Chaudry founded RAGA, a contemporary clothing brand for women, with his father and brother. He is currently responsible for managing the sales, production, marketing and e-commerce presence of the brand.

Before joining RAGA full-time, Sahil worked as a corporate lawyer for the L.A. office of a Wall Street law firm. “Primarily, my practice focused on mergers and acquisitions, securities and fund formation.  My firm represented major investment banks, public companies and private equity funds so I had the chance to work on some big deals with very talented lawyers,” he says. Sahil also had to give up the perks that came along with a big firm job- the 33rd Floor office with a view of downtown, the salary, bonuses, a secretary, etc.

“Dreams are… life giving you your cue.”

On his passion for RAGA

Sahil was able to work on RAGA part time while he was associated with the law firm. “Over time, I found myself wanting to spend more and more time on RAGA. It was fulfilling to create a line that stood for something I believed in and it was especially fulfilling because I was building it with my family. But it wasn’t easy to just let go of the security and opportunity of a big law job so I wanted to be sure,” he said.

He seems to be happy with his decision of devoting all his attention to his brand as he says, “I have been working on RAGA full time now for two months and it is very rewarding when I see that a piece we’ve created contributed to a woman expressing her authentic self.  From the fabrics and dyes to our imagery and strategy, RAGA is an adventure that I feel more fulfilled by every day.”

The Biggest Challenge?

“I still tend to be pretty formal in my e-mails. I’ve been told I need to use more exclamation marks. So I’m working on that”

One line that inspires him

“Fortune Favors the Bold.”

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XIV. Sanjay Manaktala - Relaxed. Passionate. Insecure.

Who: 31-year-old Sanjay Manaktala is a stand-up comedian who used to work in IT consulting, travelling through the United States and beyond. Sanjay relates that he was ‘a typical middle class Indian kid trying to do engineering to make the parents happy and keep the bank account afloat’.
He loved his old job because of decent hours and travel opportunities. “It helped me pay my student loans off,” he explains. “I got to meet tons of interesting and exceptional people. If I didn’t discover comedy I would still be doing it. But once I found stand up was a thing I could do (albeit being very hard) I knew I wanted to focus my energy there.”

“Dreams are envisioned when sleeping, realized when awake.”

On his passion for stand-up comedy

“Stand up comedy in India was nothing when I got here,” he recalls. “The scene was very young and the UK branch of the comedy store just started in 2010. I approached pubs and clubs in Bangalore with Sundeep Rao and Praveen Kumar and every week we planned a show for 10-20 people. It never felt like work which is the reason we all enjoyed it so much and without much hassle. It was something we were all passionate about.”

“The problem with doing something you really love is the highs are super high and the lows can be very low. But at the end of the day, I can’t see myself doing anything else. I might regret it when I’m 45 and broke and all my friends have their houses paid off and kids getting older, but I don’t know. I guess the risk keeps things hungry moving forward.”

The Biggest Challenge?

“Financial stability,” he says. “Don’t do it until you start making money at it part-time and are okay to handle a few months of hardly any income.”

One line that inspires him

“Opportunities multiply as they’re seized.”

Follow Sanjay On Twitter & Facebook.


XV. Shuchi Mittal - Creative. Talkative. Energizer Bunny.

Who: 32-year-old Shuchi Mittal Naidoo is a Private Chef, Culinary/Recipe Creator & Dining Experience Host, busy creating multi-course tasting menus showcasing contemporary and creative small plates at 29 Calories, inspired by home-style Indian cuisine. She hosts Supper Club nights, Private Events & Unique Pop Up dining in New York City, and is also the author of 29 Indian Tapas, a self-published mini coffee-table book.

Shuchi used to work in finance before, and while she didn’t dislike it, the corporate life wasn’t her calling. “I learnt a lot from my experience within the investment banking world, especially about fostering relationships and creating networks, but there was no outlet for creativity or out-of-the-box ideas. And that is where our relationship ended.”

She traded her cushioned corporate life for one as a Private Chef two years ago, to create unique meals that are just as much traditional as they are modern, and guaranteed to change your perception of ‘curry’ forever. With features on NBC & CBS under her belt, her recipes have been featured on Huffington Post Taste, Honest Cooking & Food52.

“Dreams are...meant to be dreamt. Reality is what you make out of Life.” 

On her passion for the frying pan

Inspired by seasonal produce, and bold spices, Shuchi’s calling is truly unique. She confesses that she’s never worked harder, and yet never felt more fulfilled in her career. “In short, I love it,” she breaks it down. “I might not make quarter as much money, but the enthusiasm, passion & excitement I feel with every dish I serve or event I create, is definitely reflected in the feedback I have been receiving in the last few years.”

The Biggest Challenge?

“Wearing more hats than my head can support! I have had to create my role from scratch; I am my own web designer, marketer, PR, social media specialist, chef, photographer, menu designer, dish washer, entertainer, cleaner, critic....and I don’t even get a year-end bonus!”

One line that inspires her

”Never say never.” [Basic as it may sound, these 3 words have guided me through many stages of my life, and continue to do so. Toss that word out of your dictionary, and you will thank me one day.]

Follow Shuchi on FacebookTwitterPinterest & Instagram.
 

XVI. Sunder Aaron – Purpose, Direction, Momentum

Who: Sunder Aaron made his entry into the F&B business after a long successful career spanning in the television production and entertainment industry.  His fast food dining venture called Chicken Man, with its signature rotisserie roast chicken and savoury side dishes, was launched in early 2015.
Sunder started his career in advertising and eventually moved to working with Sony Pictures Television where he was responsible for all of its English language channels such as PIX, AXN and Animax. “I also got a chance to develop and produce television series for my channels, including The Man’s World Show and Gateway... and although they were not huge hits like INDIAN IDOL or KBC, I was proud of them and learned a lot in the process,” he says.

“Dreams are nothing if you just sit around and talk about them. Get off your ass, and get it the fuck done.”

On his passion for the food and beverage industry

Sunder believes that his passion now is to make something that works for the Indian market. “While I am no F&B old hand, the Indian market remains in a Golden Era, and I felt that a strong concept, a well-developed brand, combined with excellent execution could lead to a business that we could scale to significant value in India.”

His second dining format, Pizza Mia, launches in June and will serve New York style pizzas where, as Sunder calls it, “there’s no such thing as small.”

The Biggest Challenge?

“Ego. Ego can get in the way…yes, if harnessed correctly, it can provide you with a monster of an engine also, but leaving a corporate position behind and becoming a novice in a new field is a humbling experience. Gone are the company perks, the staff, resources, regular salary as well as the high profile that it all comes with.  If you’re willing to submit to these hardships, and maintain your pursuit and passion, then you might have a fighting chance to pull off something grand. But that old devil of an ego will pop up in the most insidious ways: not only in your own conscience, but in the well meaning questions from your family and friends, as well as your fears both conscious and otherwise. You’ve got to put a harness on this monster, and use it to your advantage. I’m still figuring that out!”

One line that inspires him

With his experience, he decided to give us two instead:
“Be Bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.”
“Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

Follow Chicken Man on FacebookTrip Advisor and Zomato

[There is no dearth of passionate dreamers and wanderers. We will be coming up with another list of inspiring young Indians who chose dreams over stability. Do watch out for it!]



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