Stories Of 9 Indians Who Quit Stable Jobs To Pursue Their Passions

Vineet Nair (L) & Sonia Thiyam (R)
Vineet Nair (L) & Sonia Thiyam (R)

People who end up changing the world, for better or for worse, rarely follow the rules. We believe you’re familiar with our fascination for those who lead double lives professionally, which we explored through the lives of different individuals across India. 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 another kind of respect, albeit an equally special one.

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. So we scoured the space for individuals who have, at different points in their lives, taken a step back and re-evaluated what their dreams meant to them before deciding to throw their entire weight behind them. We understand that it isn’t a viable prospect for several people when you consider the financial risks at play here, besides other factors weighing in that range from providing for one’s family to dealing with student loans. While following one’s passion comes at a high price for a lot of people, it is good to know that people are learning to give their kids the opportunity to do more than the cookie-cutter Doctor-Lawyer-Engineer bracket of jobs.

Without further ado, here are ten individuals who have truly followed their hearts, and won us over while at it.

[Note to readers—this list has been crowdsourced and was open to people who were willing to talk to us. It is presented in no order of preference.]

I. Sonia Thiyam | Creative. Optimist. Trusting.

A doctor by profession, Sonia dropped the ‘Dr’ before her name to enter a space where she truly felt she belonged. Her passion lay in fashion and beauty and today, she’s a blogger that left the world of medicine behind to earn her keep in the field of her real desire. Her page, Sheer Vanity by Sonia is a visual ode to all things stylish, aesthetic and beautiful, and she’ll soon be venturing into fashion design.

The Inspiration

“In terms of my life, I draw inspiration from my family back in Manipur, who went through a lot to give me a good education in different metros of the country. I will never be able to repay that debt, but I always keep them in mind for whatever I do.

For fashion, my inspiration comes from everywhere. The streets, the people, everything. But, it all began when I began to notice Korean fashion, damn!”

The Shift

“Being a doctor is considered a noble profession, but my heart was never in it. I never felt like it was my calling, I was only Dr Sonia because my parents were hell bent on it. I’m almost the black sheep of my family because I’m literally the only non-doctor in my house now.

I’m not a person who opens up easily, but when you ask me about fashion, I can talk a mile a minute. Being a blogger has changed me as a person, I am now more open, can talk to even more people because I truly love what I do.

The eyebrows you see on my face are literally tattooed on, I have none. When I was 12, I started filling in my eyebrows because I was pretty insecure about how I look. That’s where my love for beauty grew in leaps & bounds. I worked on this, entered contests & practiced watching youtube tutorials. I started with this & then posted my first youtube makeup look.

Every morning I wake up & thank the universe for allowing me to push myself into this field. Every day is a new day - of course it has its ups and downs, but I’m very content, & I’m learning new things about life each day.”

Sonia Thiyam

On Sacrifices And Support

“The most challenging part was when my parents literally went ‘WHAT HAPPENS WHEN NO ONE FOLLOWS YOU ANYMORE? HOW CAN THIS LAST WHEN YOU’RE OLD?’ They were not willing to listen, I wouldn’t be either if my kid came up to me and said sorry for all the money you spent educating me about the human body and ways to heal it, but I want to wear nice clothes and take photographs - but I made them understand that it was my passion & it was important too.

My family is my greatest support system. Even though you could say they had a traditional mindset, they’ve opened up wonderfully to me being a blogger after they saw the success (Indian parents I tell you!). My siblings are there for me like the Great Wall of China, standing strong through every small or big issue that comes my way.
Even though I don’t know how long this will last, I hope it lasts forever, I’m very grateful for this support, I know not everyone has this opportunity in life.”

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

I had to think so much about how I would earn enough just as a blogger, so for a year or so I kept my clinic gig too. When I was sure enough that the money would come because I was putting in the hard work, I decided to fully quit medicine and changed fields. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my heart thump so much.

I know this is not ideal but please make sure you have some money saved up, always! I know dreams and all sound amazing, but make sure you have a plan B JUST in case.

Hard work & consistency will take you places that talent can’t even imagine exists.

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“All I wish for is to have been able to do this sooner. But my experiences have brought me go where I am, so I’m okay being here too!”

Check out Sonia’s blog here.

II. Sandeep Sreedharan |Fearless. Blunt. Honest.

Sandeep left his Senior Management job with a consulting firm after 15 years to pursue his passion in the culinary world. Under Esca Brahma, Sandeep works as a Private Chef , a dining outlet in Khar West called Curry Tales, which he plans to soon branch out as well as three more concepts across the spectrum including a coastal cafe coming up next year – this is when he isn’t busy travelling and collaborating with chefs across the world.

The Inspiration

“Everything around me inspires me, the most being nature. My dad used to be a great cook but man of few words. He taught me the power of passing the energy without saying anything. It is an unexplainable feeling when you are surrounded by that. All who have inspired me, LC Singh, my ex CEO, Bobby Brauer Culinary Director, Ezzzimmer 2 Michelin in Munich, a good friend and a mentor, all have that powerful aura that you can feel and learn from rather than being told things. When you are surrounded by such an aura and energy your failures seems so small and you have no other choice than to be on your feet again and run.”

The Shift

“I used to head the strategic initiatives for a consulting-led solutions business company and worked with them for almost 10 years. I used to feel like that fallen coconut in a river, which is getting carried along as the tide changes waiting for a place to get washed away and sprout! Ironically my rebranded logo has sprouting coconut as a part of Esca Brahma logo, which is also symbolic of the coast, the food I am specializing in. A sprouting coconut is a powerful statement of existence, creation and perseverance.

My educational background of being an engineer and an MBA help me support these aspects and of course, the experience I have had in consulting is helping me to manage risk and create products as well as educating the customers. Customers aren’t always right because everybody creates food memory based on certain events and time and probably take time to rewire their memories and if you are honest with the food/products you are introducing it is easy to rewire them. Creating credibility so as to create something different has been proven through my #ModernCoastal experience dinners which I have done close to 97 of them in the last 2 years creating a position in the market as to the most exclusive dinners, flavours from the coast. As a person, I haven’t really changed, but many things which I thought was big to achieve have started to look smaller. I think it is the part of that maturing process.”

Sandeep Sreedharan

On Sacrifices And Support

“I didn’t have any support system when I quit my job, in fact, I moved into a larger apartment with a 40% higher rent to support my business. My dinners were the main cashflow to my sustenance and of course, it’s not easy. Though I have my friends and relatives supporting me in various instances to manage the cash flow. Most importantly, I built a network of very successful people around me who constantly advise, direct and support me unconditionally, which is the biggest support system I have had till date and it continues to do so.

The biggest sacrifice is everything that makes your life frugal including my other passion food travel and time with the family. But 2-3 years of life doesn’t make any dent to that sacrifice is what I am beginning to learn right now.”

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

“Focus creates clarity, clarity creates direction. You need to have a definitive direction and create many revenue streams in that same direction. Whatever you learnt and experiences you’ve acquired in the past is a goldmine and you really need to dig in deep and create parallels. How you create that parallel and monetise your past experience is the key to maintain a positive cash flow.

Be frugal and let go whatever you did before. Passion has to meet practicality and sooner you reach there the better off you are. I would say that should happen in the first 6 months so that you can start re-pivoting yourself to the same direction.”

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“As a late entry to this industry, I said every day should be equal to 10 days in terms of the efficiency I build in. So I would try changing the days to 28 hours so that I could sleep for 8 hours.”

For more information about his work check out Facebook and Instagram.

III. Nayantara Kochhar | Tenacious. Independent. Adventurous.

For six years Nayantara worked in the corporate HR industry with two of the largest Indian companies before deciding to venture out into the big bad world of entrepreneurship. She followed her corporate career with setting up a design firm called Auraz Design based in Bangalore in 2015. Working to curate and design one of a kind lifestyle accents and furniture for all kinds of spaces, Nayantara has had an interesting, at times bumpy journey, but has never looked back.

The Inspiration

“My grandmothers and both my mothers. All these four amazing women had a challenge of having to carve out a life and identity for themselves in Calcutta in the 60’s and 70’s when the world was more geared towards celebrating men. But they did it with a smile.”

The Shift

“I was fortunate to have worked with two of the most respected Indian corporate houses and built a career in HR but after a few years, I yearned to not have to get to work at 9:15 am and clock in my 8/9 hours and be stuck in a rut of a steady income. I needed a creative outlet, a job that really challenged the daylights out of me. I decided to quit my job 3 weeks before I was to get married. I had absolutely no idea what was in store. The only thing I did know was I had said goodbye to the corporate life - forever. I knew long ago I was done working for others. If I wasn’t going to be adventurous, take some serious risks, I’d only have a pile of regrets by the time I turned 30. So I gave myself 3 months to narrow down an area I’d like to explore and the only thing that I kept coming back to was Design. And something to do with home. That’s how Auraz Design came into being.

As a kid I was always fond of making stuff on my own, finding old things and giving them a new lease of life - mostly old furniture, clothes, some craft work. My brain always worked best when creatively challenged. Now in my current company, every product we launch is a mix of a design cum materials challenge and that keeps me going. There’s never a dull day.”

Nayantara Kochhar

On Sacrifices And Support

“My very supportive husband and a family that just wouldn’t let me give up. My friends, despite being a bit shocked and surprised at me quitting my job were also a huge support. Their honesty and candour always reminded me to plant my feet firmly on the ground, and always know that if all else fails, we can always have a good laugh about my entrepreneurial spirit (or the lack of)!

I must give full credit to my puppy too, who helped brighten our dull days when we first got our own office. He was the Chief Happiness Officer and took his job very seriously!

I think the biggest sacrifice is the one nobody warns you about when you start out on your own: your time. Suddenly weekend and weekdays all merge into one never-ending cycle. You forget what it is like to go on holidays and switch off your mind. You start to focus so much on what’s not working that we forget gratitude for the little things that matter. And really they do matter.

The hardest lesson for me personally is to teach myself that I am not my work/company. I only work and build that, but that is not all that I am. And that’s okay.”

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

“Be fully aware of what you’re getting into - plan financially for a 3-6 month cushion so you don’t have to stress about money matters. That takes you away from having the mental capacity to really build on your idea.

Be frank with yourself that every idea will not work - in fact, most will fail. That’s ok. Accept it and move on. No one else notices your mistakes that much, so don’t beat yourself down.

Also if you want to give it a shot - go ahead. Worst case this is not for you - move on. At least you’ll never regret not having tried this. The only thing probably stopping yourself is YOU: try to taste this life even for a few months and then decide. No harm is it turns out it’s not your cup of tea.”

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“I wouldn’t have to wait 6 years before starting out! If I had more confidence in myself when I was 24/25 years old, I could’ve started out much sooner.”

You can see more of Auraz Design on their website and Instagram.

On Sacrifices And Support

“The year-long depression phase after I was fired was horrible. Weird destructive thoughts consumed me all day. I was surviving on my savings. I was lucky to have close friends who would patiently listen to my nonsense. In fact, some of my close friends even tried to convince the management to retain me. I finally moved to Delhi after a year in November 2015. Many people think that I shifted to Delhi for blogging. In reality, I had made the shift to start a food business which never took off. What took off was blogging. I stayed at my brother’s house for 1 year. When I started doing well financially, I moved to my own flat. Without all the support around me, it would not have been possible.

When you turn your passion into your job, you have to make some compromises. Since it is my own venture, I slog through the week. I have no Saturday and Sunday off. Since the money is not as good as a corporate job, I had to cut down my expenses. I stopped partying, going to expensive bars, cut down on movies. Now that I have started earning better, I can resume these once in a while.”

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

“Money is important. I never advise people to ‘quit the job to travel’ I always tell the aspirant full-time travellers that the single most thing they should think of while quitting is that how they will support themselves. The simple phone/electricity bills, rent, grocery expenses seem like a monster if you do not have a regular source of income. One should always take the plunge only when they have secured a steady source of income. I was fired so I had no choice but to keep swimming in the rough waters. But if you are planning to quit your job to pursue a passion, please do it wisely. In fact, in hindsight, it is not so much of a bad idea to pursue passion with a day job. All you need to do is prioritize and manage things.”

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“I think nothing goes for waste. Everything is a learning experience. Though I don’t see the 7 years of desk job a waste, I sometimes do wish I had taken up professional travel content creation early on. I had no guidance. It took me a long time to find my calling in life. But no worries, I am perhaps one of those late bloomers.”

His documents all his travel tales on his blog, Twitter, Facebook Page, Instagram and YouTube.

IV. Shreya Thakkar | Dreamer. Adventurous. Curious.

The world of finance just wasn’t for Shreya. After working for over a year after completing her MBA she decided to move out of her comfort zone to do something she had wanted to her entire life. She started StruT in 2015, a label that designs and manufactures handcrafted bags – all this without any formal training in fashion or designing. What started as a Facebook page soon turned into an offline store in Mumbai and Shreya has also expanded the product range to include flip-flops and shoes.

The Inspiration

“My Mom inspires me the most. She is my biggest supporter and also my constructive critic. She has seen me through my thick and thin and always stood by my side.”

The Shift

“The regular monthly paychecks in my bank account weren’t enough of a motivation to continue. At that time I thought it would be exciting to start something on my own, and hence, after a year and a half of corporate experience, I started with StruT.

An urge to ideate about your creation, to not follow a 9-5 ritual, to be your own boss, and to do something different made me start my own venture. I never thought of becoming an entrepreneur but accidentally became one, shuffling the letters of my life from Finance to Fashion.

From childhood, my favourite accessory has been Bags. I always used to end up buying more than 3 bags during Bag shopping trips. My love for bags made me decide to try my hands at their creation.

Initially, I started with buying 20 readymade bags. I had decided on one thing that even if no one buys those bags, I will keep them for myself. Fortunately, all of those 20 got sold to friends and family in a week’s time. People liked the collection and asked for more variety hence I decided to explore in this field. Initially started with selling ready-to-sell bags for four months finally we started with designing and manufacturing on our own and started the label StruT. Post that there was no looking back.

It’s fun to do something on your own. To get that freedom to be your own boss, to do what your gut says is correct. Though I do not have any formal training in designing but from observing the people and their bags, I have developed a knack for designing and crafting according to one’s requirement. The quote “I make Bag contact be”

Shreya Thakkar

On Sacrifices And Support

“Dealing with the unknown, was the most challenging thing about the shift from your safety net to your passion.

Coming from a finance background I had no formal knowledge of fashion or designing. So, I had to learn the business of bag-making from the scratch, right from designing the bags, selecting and sourcing the right material, dealing with karigars, to deciding the price points and profit margins. Though that was the biggest challenge I faced, it also made the journey exciting. It’s still an ongoing learning process.

Your family is all-time support system to fall back on.”

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

“If you are adding value to society or solving any problem while pursuing your passion just keep going and follow what your inner voice tells you to do. Don’t give up. Success has to come your way.

As JM Storm had rightly said, “Magic happens when you don’t give up, even though you want to. The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart.”

Find what you truly love to do, because if you will do something aligned to your interests and passion, you will do a lot of it and will excel at it. Don’t wait for the right time, as the right time is NOW.

Rumi has once said, “Load the ship and set out. No one knows for certain whether the vessel will sink or reach the harbour. Cautious people say, ‘I’ll do nothing until I can be sure.’ Merchants know better. If you do nothing, you lose. Don’t be one of those merchants who won’t risk the ocean.”

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“At times something didn’t work out as per the plan, but then what actually worked out was much better and bigger than what we had planned, so I would not like to change anything.”

For more information you can check out her Facebook and Instagram.

V. Nayan Gupta|Persistent. Adventurous. Ambivert.

A Computer Engineer by degree, from a highly reputed engineering college, Nayan quit her job in 2015 to start Sugar Deli, a home-based pastry shop. She took formal training at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, and enrolled for the Diplôme de Pâtisserie program. Having interned with Chef Cyril Lignac, she gained a wealth of experience and affirmation to pursue pastry making as a career.

The Inspiration

“Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and one of the most influential feminist in the world. As the author of Lean In, and the first woman to sit on Facebook’s board, she has faced many struggles throughout it all, but has emerged as an inspiration for me. Her quote ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ keeps motivating me and helps me shed my fears and try.”

The Shift

“I was working as a Software Engineer at Cisco Systems (one of the dream IT companies) in Bengaluru. It was a new environment and I tried to learn as much as possible. Since I wasn’t interested in coding, the work became monotonous and I used to spend days wondering what I would be baking that weekend. Despite this, I gave my 100% to my work and was the only campus graduate hire to be given a raise within a year. But there came a saturation point wherein I realized this was not what I want to do and I decided to quit my job to pursue baking.

Baking started as a hobby in college when I used to try out different recipes from the internet for my friends. After entering the corporate world, I started baking on the weekends and getting positive feedback from my friends increased my confidence. I am very happy to have taken the decision to quit my job and pursue pastry making as a career. Having spent a year in Paris learning pastry, I got a chance to meet people from different nationalities and brought about a change in my thinking that you are never old to do what you love. It is true that you need money to survive, but if you are doing what you really like and what makes you happy, you just need to take that leap of faith and give your best, and money will come as a by-product.”

Nayan Gupta

On Sacrifices And Support

“I would say not getting a fixed salary deposited in your bank account at the end of every month was the biggest sacrifice. Initially, it didn’t matter much, but as months went by it started getting difficult. There were days when I did not have any cake orders and used to sit at home while all my friends were busy working. The most challenging was getting out of thoughts like ‘did I make a mistake by quitting my job?’ and ‘what am I doing with my life?’

Fortunately, I had a lot of support from my family, emotionally and financially. The savings from my job and the support from my parents helped me enrol for the course in Paris. My parents were a bit sceptical initially about me leaving my well-paying job to pursue baking about which we had no idea. But my family supported me in all ways possible. Plus all the encouragement from my friends just boosted my confidence.”

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

“I read this quote recently – ‘You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute’. I agree that there are many additional factors involved, but at the age of 60, you won’t remember the one year that you were sitting at home jobless. Instead you would be proud that you took the leap to pursue your passion, and success or failure, you wouldn’t have the thought ‘what if I had done that?’

Just give your best at whatever you do so that you do not have any regrets later. Be confident and believe in your self worth.”

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“As cliché as it may sound, I wouldn’t change a thing. Whatever I am now is because of the right and wrong decisions I made and I do not regret it. I would take each success and failure as a positive lesson.”

Check out Nayan’s delicious creations on Instagram.

VI. Vineet Nair

Growing up in a typical South Indian family, Vineet’s focus was made to be directed towards educational excellence before the creative drive. With a degree in commerce and a diploma in advertising and brand communications, he began working as an Instructional Designer at a big corporate.

During this time he also completed and released his debut rap album, releasing in the process that he was always meant to rap. It has over a decade now that Vineet has been part of India’s hip-hop scene. He co-founded the country’s first rap battle league and a part of the hip-hop collective SlumGods, popularly known by his stage name Poetik Justis.

The Inspiration

“The whole culture of Hip-Hop inspires me. Right from the emcees around the world and the music that they make to the Graffiti art, b-boying, even the world of street fashion and sneaker culture. It’s amazing to witness the things that are happening in the world right now and the ideas that are being created on a daily basis. This inspires me to create my own ideas and never be afraid to create anything I feel like putting out to the world. It’s all about the vibes and the approach to the process.”

The Shift

“Accenture was my entry into the corporate world and I was blessed to have this job that people basically dream about getting. It was a dream job for me too and I guess you could say I was lucky to have that job. It was a learning process for me because I had negligible experience as an instructional designer. But in time, I adjusted to the corporate culture well and had my creative side on the sidelines.

It was because of the job, my colleagues and managers at that job that I learnt a lot about the corporate world and their support meant a lot to me. In a way, they understood the balance of me being a creative talent and a 9-5 worker. Though the timings weren’t flexible, depending on what projects I was working on, I could choose my own methods of working.

It was only after I released my album that really hit me like a brick. I was missing out on shows, missing out on good opportunities that I could have earned from and missing out on just making more music and more content out to the world. The last year that I worked, time slowly caught up with me and I was witnessing the exponential growth of the music and culture that I was a part of and before I knew it, it was finally time to make my decision, and I’m glad I did it.”

Vineet Nair AKA Poetik Justis

On Sacrifices And Support

“Coming from a middle-class family living in Bombay, it’s a blessing to be able to even pursue this dream. Not many families allow their kids to pursue their dreams and ambitions freely. My parents have put their trust on to me and all I could ask for was their support. My girlfriend, Dee MC, is a great femcee and she’s been there by my side since the start too.

I’m grateful for the time that I’ve been given and the fact that I didn’t have to look after a lot of things in my life because my family was equipped to deal with them. I want to be able to do that for my own family (including the people I’ve been on this journey with) in the future and that’s what this passion means to me. It’s bigger than just me and my music, this is about the lives we change as creators, including our own.
I think financial stability is always going to be the number one thing that I had to sacrifice. Breaking out of the comfort zone of a fixed 9-5 income isn’t always easy and most people have a plan. It’s only when you step into the real world and work on the plans that you realize which ones work and which ones do not.

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

“If this passion is something that you’ve wanted to do ever since a kid. If this is what makes you feel alive more than anything else. If you’re ready for all the self doubt, the guilt trip from family and friends, for big wins and sometimes bigger losses. If you’re ready (most people think they’re ready) for the sleepless nights, for the days where you will feel like the world is moving 10 paces faster than you are, for the even worse days where you might not see income for a whole month. If you feel this is all you wanted to do in life and you believe that you can be great at this thing you want to do, then go for it.

Take your time in planning the move, scout for options and monetary opportunities with regards to your passion, and if you find one or if you’re in a position that you can create one, go for it. We’re not promised tomorrow and we have to at least try. Can’t be on our deathbeds with regrets.

I’d like to end this question with a short quote from Alan Watts - ‘Forget the money, If you say that the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing.’”

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m looking forward to what I can create next.”

VII. Harini Iyer | Resilient. Hustler. In-betweener.

Music had always been a part of Harini’s life growing up but never really thought much of it as a serious career choice. Instead, she graduated with a degree in Electronic Communications and Masters in Engineering Management and worked as a Business Analyst with an IT firm in Arlington, USA. She quit her job to fully focus on music, studying at the prestigious Berklee School of Music.

The Inspiration

“Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils was a huge influence on me quitting my job and following my passion. I read/reread his motivational cartoon art every single day for almost a year. I now have a poster of one of his work, ‘The Calling’ on my wall that I️ wake up to every day!

Musically, I am inspired by artists from different genres. I love Bonobo and Glass Animals. I follow a lot of Australian artists - Chet Faker, Tame Impala, Hiatus Kaiyote, Flume. I’d love to work with ARR, Nai Palm, Glass Animals and Simon Greene someday. I am trained in Carnatic music, I grew up doting on Bombay Jayasree, TM Krishna and Aruna Sriram and draw inspiration from them.

I also follow and draw inspiration from Elon Musk, Tony Robbins and Haruki Murakami. I’ve read their books/ biographies and I keep going back to them for motivation.”

The Shift

“Even with a comfortable job and lifestyle, she felt something was missing and started working long hours, keeping herself busy to ignore the restless bee buzzing around in her head. She began working on her music in the evening, juggling 9-5 at the office and collaborating and performing with other musicians at night. When her day job got too hectic, overtaking her attention and day.

On a whim, she went for a student tour at the Berklee School of Music, with no intention of studying. Nevertheless, she ended up coming home with an application form, applied and auditioned. She was completely overwhelmed when she found out she even got in. A month later she gave up her job and followed her musical calling, one of the best decisions she has made in her entire life.”

Harini Iyer

On Sacrifices And Support

“I have a supporting family and I have a few close friends rooting for me. And last resort, I can go back to being a business analyst/ developer if needed.
I have consistently been multitasking for over a year now, I’d go to work 9-5 and work on music all evening, sometimes through the night. I found some local open mics and started performing weekly and I’d also found like-minded people to collaborate with. But, when my day- time job got hectic, music took a back seat which bothered me to no extent. I am confident every single day that I️ made the right decision. I’ve changed in a matter of months. Close friends and family see a positive change in me, I am HAPPY. Though it is pretty competitive and I’ve had sleepless nights, a lot of them plus the financial crunch, have made me doubt my choice, but the end results always set me back on track.”

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

“Listen to your heart, you’ll know when the time is right! Work hard and don’t compromise on your dreams. I worked full time and then on my music all night for a year before I quit! People still manage to do that. I couldn’t, I had to give this a shot before it was too late.”

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“Nothing! I am here because of all the sum total experiences I’ve had so far. I’ve believed in the past that I should have started this journey earlier but I am meant to be here now and that is all that matters!”

You can check out Harini’s work on Facebook, Soundcloud and Youtube.

VIII. Debojyoti Nath | Peace. Love. Mountains.

From being a Producer/Programming Executive at Radio City 91.1 FM followed by being Social Media Manager at ScoopWhoop, 32-year-old Debojyoti is today known as The Busking Man. In 2015 he embarked on a journey to busk, perform in public spaces, in all 29 states of India, spread the message of love and peace through music and encourage other artists to make the streets their stage. He currently works for an NGO called Music Basti where he teaches music and life skills to at-risk and underprivileged children.

The Inspiration

“The Beatles, John Lennon, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan all inspire me for the same reasons: of changing the world with their powerful yet simple music. Their lyrical prowess which spoke about their times to their generation and many generations thereafter also inspires me as a songwriter. They inspired me to pick up a guitar and sing songs about life, love, the world around, and the thoughts within.”

The Shift

“My passion for music goes back to when I was in school in Shillong and was surrounded by music everywhere. My family was also very musical. I taught myself how to play the guitar because I loved the guitar and sing. It was the first time I indulged in something I loved dearly and was completely obsessed with it. Throughout the years I have played and sang at school and college competitions, fests and galas. I continued to play for myself, my friends and on stage. I choose a job at the Radio Station also because it had something to do with music. Throughout my 4 years there, I kept making music all along the way.

Then suddenly without warning, in 2011 my father passed away at the Sikkim earthquake. I lost the biggest mentor of my life and was left feeling completely lost. Even during those times, music was the only way through which I could release my pain and find some solace and peace within. Since then, there has been a drastic change in my life. Much later, when I decided to quit my job and started to busk all around India, I felt complete and finally, I felt that my life had a meaning and purpose. I was never very money minded and naively gave more importance to personal satisfaction in life. After taking the leap to busk in all the 29 states of India, a lot of my perspectives changed. I found immense satisfaction in making people smile through my music. It brought me inner peace. I also felt the urge to do something about the way the world was heading towards mindless violence and atrocities and felt that I had to do my part in spreading the message of peace and love through music.

Since 2015 till date, I have completely immersed and dedicated myself to music. It’s not been the easiest of journeys. I have had very little, sometimes even close to zero bank balance, but I know I signed up for it. Most importantly, all of these little sufferings fade when compared to the infinite happiness I receive doing what I do. It makes me happy and that’s what matters the most.”

Debojyoti Nath AKA The Busking Man

On Sacrifices And Support

“I consider myself very lucky to have a supportive circle of friends and family. After losing my father, I was shell-shocked and didn’t know what to do. But thanks to my father’s intelligent and planned investments and savings, I knew my mother would get by and I didn’t have the huge burden to provide for her. Also, I have an incredible group of friends who have supported me and my dreams. They have continuously encouraged me and continue to do so. My flatmates are my extended family and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to live in Delhi and pursue my music. I am also extremely thankful to all the people who helped crowdfund my journey and also those who provided me shelter to couch-surf and to all the people who sent donations. I see so many people and friends of mine desperately wanting to break out of their jobs or their current life but they are not able to do so as they have to provide for their family or have certain obligations. So I feel extremely blessed that I can do what I love and believe in.

Not having money is definitely not fun and at most times very humiliating and embarrassing. The comfort of having a full-time job with a paycheque coming at the end of every month is something I definitely miss. When you’re 32, without a settled career or job, it’s even worse. I recently even rejected a radio job with good money because I didn’t want to compromise on my part-time job with the NGO Music Basti where I teach music and life skills to kids. I thought I had made a big mistake but very soon I realised that its ok and I don’t regret it anymore. My mother was definitely not happy with my decision but everything comes with its ups and downs, so I remind myself all the time to not give up or give in.”

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

“I don’t think I have reached a stage where I can give advice to anybody. But one thing I can say is that time, situation and circumstances will beg you to make that leap which you haven’t been able to do so. That is the beauty of it. Everyone has a tipping point and if anyone feels they have reached their tipping point or have hit rock bottom, then let that rock bottom be the solid foundation for the life you envision for yourself. It’s like holding your breath and jumping off that cliff with the strong faith and belief that you will not fall but soar. You just need a lot of patience and a ton of persistence.”

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“After completing my busking tour, I was so filled to the brim with satisfaction that I literally couldn’t find anything else to do to match up to that level of freedom, satisfaction and happiness. I felt very lost and I would lock myself in my room to watch all the movies and documentaries I hadn’t watched, listen to all the music I hadn’t listened to, and read as much as possible. That made me spiral into a state of not taking any action or doing anything concrete for a while. That is something I would change if I could and rather dive straight into making more music, writing blogs, making vlogs, talk more about my journey and my music, and reach out to the universe to make incremental progress. But having said that, I don’t regret it much now as I realise that it was not all wasted time. And as John Lennon said, ‘Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.’”

You can follow The Busking Man’s journeys on Facebook, YoutTube, SoundCloud and Instagram.

IX. Pragya Bhatt |Committed. Relentless. Persistent.

A Software Engineer by profession, Pragya worked for over 8 year in the industry before she decided to give it up for yoga. Having been a yoga practitioner pretty much all her life, she went from writing code to setting up The Yoga Practice.

The Inspiration

“The practice of yoga itself is inspirational. It’s an ancient practice but has stood the test of time and is so very relevant today. Historically we’ve seen fads come and go, in terms of movements, beliefs, attitudes etc, but yoga was as effective back then as it is now. Since it addresses the different facets of a human being (mental, emotional, physical), the yoga practice has always had relevance. If you cultivate a regular practice, even if it’s just 4 asanas a day and only for 15 minutes, you bring in positive change in your life, a little bit at a time. I find such a practice to be not only powerful but also empowering and inspirational.”

The Shift

“I started my career in Infosys as a Software Engineer (like 99% of people in Bangalore). I worked there for 3.5 years until finally moving to Accenture, where I worked for another 3.5 years. I met some really intelligent people through my years as a Software Engineer, and I’m in touch with many of them. I think Infy is like this storehouse of talent and it’s just amazing...but my heart wasn’t in it. Even in college, I knew that coding didn’t light my fire...and I knew intrinsically that my life’s work lay somewhere else. I really didn’t see myself sitting behind a laptop for the rest of my life being just a cog in the wheel. I’d gained about 15-20 kgs sitting behind the laptop, and that’s when the usual gym-binge dieting routine began. I became this compulsive gym rat. In fact, while I was onsite in the UK, I would brave the bitter cold to get to the gym before starting my day at work. I did lose weight, but the cycle of reward and deprivation of most fitness routines did not resonate with me.

On my first day at Accenture, the girl sitting next to me told me about a yoga class that she was going to. The next day I went to a trial class, and since then I’ve been doing yoga every single day of my life. This was in 2009. But I’ve always been doing yoga. There’s a book on Hatha yoga which has been on the family bookshelf ever since I can remember. While in Brazil (the early 80s, I must’ve been around 10), we used to hang out a lot with the Hare Krishna community and they had yoga there. When I went back to yoga as an adult, it felt like going home and it was very comforting. Weight loss was an added by-product.

The changes in me have been phenomenal. I truly feel empowered about my life and decisions. While in my desk job I would only dream of doing what I love, but now I’m confident of using’ all my mental and creative faculties to create something beneficial for human beings. I’ve become more peaceful and calmer as a result of stepping out of the frenzied rat race and effecting real change in the lives of those who come in contact with me. Also, I’ve really started to cultivate deeper bonds with people.”

Pragya Bhatt

On Sacrifices And Support

“My support system was a combination of my savings, my network and my engineering degree. My parents weren’t too keen on me quitting a good job to do something that they don’t even consider a career. They felt it was a waste of a good brain and hard work! In the beginning, I dug into my savings for the essentials. I advertised myself in all my networks, virtual and otherwise. At the end of the day, I knew I had a degree which would get me a good job if I wanted/needed to go back. It certainly helped that I had no other financial liabilities, such as kids’ education and home/car loans.

You definitely sacrifice your sense of security. You really put yourself out there and leave yourself open too often painful criticism. I came from a very structured career path and going into something which was relatively new and unconventional was nerve wrecking. And if it isn’t enough that others will be comparing you to the market, I’m too hard on myself. Over time I’ve learned how to plan my finances, how to structure my time so that I let my hair down as much as I hustle. I’ve cultivated a group of supportive people around me who have my back no matter what. I still feel anxious and insecure at times, but now I think it just fuels my fire and is good for the quality of work I produce.”

Tips Or Advice For Those Planning On Taking The Leap

“The first thing you need to consider seriously is that you might really enjoy something, but might not like the process of making money through it. So being in love with the practice of yoga doesn’t necessarily mean that you will enjoy teaching it. You might also have a very rosy view of spending every day immersed in something that you find fun right now, but when you have to make a living out of it, things are very different. At the end of the day, you are still thinking about how to do well, how to come out on top of the competition, how to provide value in a market where there are so many equally good, if not better (to your mind) people. See if you can test the waters by pursuing your passion part-time.

I would also say plan your finances so that you can stay afloat for a while. So make sure that you have enough saved up to pay your rent for instance. Also, initially you might need to sacrifice on how much you party and any other non-essential expenses. So you might not be able to buy every single thing you fancy or travel so much. You might end up sleeping less, seeing your friends and family less. Know that this too shall pass.”

One Thing You’d Change About The Journey

“All artists/entrepreneurs struggle with putting a price on their art. On the one hand, art is priceless, and on the other, it’s goods that are up for consumption. I feel in the beginning I was hesitant about fairly pricing my classes. I would always quote less than what I felt was fair because I really wanted to bag a deal. Over time I became more confident about pricing. I feel we should always be very conscientious about the fact that we spend good time and effort planning and conducting classes, so we should try and overcome any hesitation in terms of pricing.”

You can contact Pragya through Facebook, Instagram and her website.

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