They are successful,
well-off and secure. Then suddenly, mid-career, they chuck it all up. Just like
that. To opt out of the rat race, to give in to their creativity, to simply be
happy. Sunday Times profiles those for whom life starts NOW
followed their heart to make their dreams come true. But they went about it in a
systematic manner. The winds of change are here for everyone to see.
BANERJEE | Tyre technologist to classical singer
When Meerut-based Srinjoy
Banerjee quit his job almost a decade ago at Modi Rubber, friends and relatives
panicked. Why did the 48-year-old tyre technologist quit at this late juncture?
How would he keep the kitchen fires burning? But Banerjee was unfazed. His heart
lay in classical music, an unviable venture.
thats how this MBA executive started pursuing his passion he gave tuitions in
music to neighbourhood kids. Thankfully, his wife and children supported him
when he set out as a lone crusader. He soon became
part-time principal at Sangeet Samaj Music School, Meerut. Later, he headed
Meerut FM radio channel (Arts and Culture) and today, hes a professional artist
in his city.
CHITNIS | Doctor to actor and film producer
This 30-year-old GP
from Mumbai has the good looks of an actor. And though he practised from his
Mahim clinic till
sometime back, hes gaining
fame as a stage actor-cum-documentary film maker. It wasnt always like this. In
littleknown Chiplan in the Konkan from where he hails, there was no TV or
exposure to entertainment, so I studied medicine. But my main passion lies in
acting, says Dr Mahesh Chitnis.
first acted in a Marathi serial Manachiye Gunti, but gained celebrity status
from his TV show Hello Doctor on DD Sahiyadri. Slowly, he groomed himself for a
career in acting. Im also planning to make a few Marathi films and act in
Hindi films, he says proudly. From building his personality, a new fitness
regime, stylish hairstyle and wardrobe the makeover has been
now owns two production houses Listen Moving Images and Famavi
Visuals. Its been a satisfying jump from
making close to Rs 60,000 monthly as a doctor to well-paid actor. Chitnis has
managed to buy his own place in Mahim, a 600 sq ft abode for Rs 35 lakh and a
300 sq ft office space in Shivaji
Park for Rs 25 lakh. Good going, doc!
MORVANKAR | Advertising to adventure sports
wasnt a yes man to his boss. Neither was he inclined to do a 9-5 job. No
wonder, 36-year-old Jayesh Morvankar who ventured into advertising in the early
90s, took the beaten path in 1998. I found it a complete waste of time
trying to do just what the boss wanted. Thats when he got hooked to adventure
sports. I was always looking for a break where experiencing the world counted
more, he says philosophically. And he did his
research before taking the plunge. And plunge he did into
organising weekend field trips. Talk about being imaginatively creative in the
late 90s when pubbing and partying were more the in-thing. Morvankar now
organises customised treks to the Western Ghats and Himalayas. Hes happy. From
a monotonous job lacking in creative satisfaction, he found his vocation in
natures lap. Heres to you, lone ranger.
KHERA & MANAS WADHVA Jet Airways stewards to restaurateurs
Khera, 26, calls himself King of My Own Space. And he found it in quite a
lip-smacking way, along with friend and colleague, Manas Wadhva. It was Varuns
enthusiasm which made the shift from being Jet Airways steward for four years to
being a restaurateur easy. The duo started Desi
Vibes in Nodia despite family and friends warning against the career
move. Who else would throw up a Rs 40,000 salary and likely
promotion for the vagaries of business?
they went about it systematically. We ate in almost all the restaurants in and
around Delhi and figured that Indians dont like to experiment much with food.
Primarily three cuisines work for them Pizza, McDonalds and Indian thali,
says Varun. They decided to stick to North Indian cuisine. After raising Rs 30
lakh, they gave the restaurant an ethnic ambience, complete with village
well and Murphy radio perched in a corner.
jobs as stewards came in handy personalised service, along with complimentary
sweet lime drink, various pickles and papad to lure customers. Theyre now
ready to dip their fingers into another venture in August. This time, itll be
Mediterranean and Continental cuisines. The emphasis will be on exotic
desserts, all reasonably priced, reveals Manas. Sounds yummy?
| Financial consultant to tour operator
Arun Pai, 37, has always
been a step ahead of the times. In the early 90s, this IIT graduate didnt go
to the US like his classmates. Instead, he went to IIM. After a high-flying
career as financial consultant, he gave that up also to be a tour guide. Yes, thats right.
Hes packaging Bangalores history in the form of
posting in Europe got him fascinated with heritage walks. In the UK, they have
Bollywood tours which take you to places where films have been shot. They are
marketing Bollywood to Indians, he says. Impressed with how western countries
packaged their tourist spots, he realised this was his
he took six months off to figure out how he would hold these heritage walks.
Now, I havent had a Sunday off in two years, he says. But
leaving a lucrative career couldnt have been easy. Those in MNCs may get paid well, but their lives arent cushy.
They work crazy hours. Here, Im master of my own time, he
says. Im probably the only dad who drops and
picks up his kids from school, he says. Plus, he works as
hard as he needs to. At the end of the day, I get tremendous professional
satisfaction. From being a cog in the corporate wheel, hes now the envy of
BATRA | Engineer to marketing education
The call of home made her
change jobs. No wonder Delhis Mrinalini Batra, an electrical engineer from
Delhi College of Engineering, left the greener pastures of US, to come home. She
was working for Belcore and Microvision till 1992. After coming back, the
40-year-old started an educational institute International Educational
Exchange for students wanting to study abroad.
saw potential in marketing international education in the early 90s, as many
Indian students wanted to study abroad, but didnt know how to go about it,
she says. Today, shes an accomplished career counsellor who guides students
through their GRE, GMAT and SAT tests. She also provides career guidance to top
universities such as Cornel, Harvard and Columbia. Her fees?
Close to Rs 50,000 for a years counselling. This
includes tests, getting recommendation letters and visa applications.
CHOPRA | Engineer to theatre person
The arch lights drew this
engineer. In fact, this ex-IITian who will turn 50 in November, had decided long
back that he would quit being a professional and take up dramatics at 50. He
couldnt wait that long. In 2005, at the age of 48,
he quit as GM, Ranbaxy, and joined an ex-IITian drama group,
Dramatech. Later, he started a professional theatre group,
Natwa, along with well-known theatre personality Prof Mohan
has performed in more than 25 plays. This is my life and has always been my
passion, not the corporate world, he says. But he knows theatre is not a
viable medium to sustain a livelihood. I didnt start my career here. Im not
looking at sustaining myself through theatre.And the future? Films, maybe.
PATIL | IT professional to wine-maker
Hes a master of degrees
environmental engineering, MBA in marketing and LLB from ILS Law College, Pune.
Sachin Patil was sure he had achieved everything when he landed a plush job at
KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd in 1998. Three years later, he joined Bharat Forge
Ltd, where his work took him abroad. But, two years later, boredom hit hard.
In 2003, I was 28, had seen half the world, was
earning good money and in a secure job. But I needed new challenges, recounts
researching for almost a year, he decided to start a winery, much to the
consternation of his family. Thankfully, they never discouraged me. My friends
and colleagues, all from IT, thought I had lost my mind, he says
winery industry was beginning to grow in Maharashtra
then. Glitches were there. The bank sat on my loan application for over
eight months. Finally, I scraped all my savings and with the help of a
cousin, I set up my wine factory at Narhe in 2005 in
a 10-acre plot.
doing well. He entered into a contract with farmers in Baramati who supply him
grapes and fruit like jamun and karonda for his wines. Last year, his 5000-sq ft
Swirl Winerieya, manufactured 10,000 litres of exotic tropical fruit wines.
This year, 10,000 litres more will be ready by December. Ill be travelling to
the US to market my wines, beams a satisfied Sachin. Heady stuff, huh?
SIDHU | Doctor to rockstar
From medicine to
music, the highway is anything but straight. But Sidhu (Sidhartha), frontman of Bangla band Cactus, firmly
believes that lineal is boring. And so, after 19 years pursuing medicine, he
remains harmonious with his radical switch-over. Lets put it this way...I had
agreed to an arranged marriage, but was compelled to break out of it when I
found love. When love takes precedence, tradition often takes the back seat,
winks the 37-year-old.
wasnt easy, he says. In 2001, I was doing shifts to pursue my Diplomat of
National Board (DNB) in medicine. Suddenly, our band received a film offer (Neel
Nirjone) and we became celebrities overnight. There were shows and more shows.
Finally, I had to choose between medicine and music.
I listened to my instinct. And hes never looked
doctor father had big dreams for him. He enrolled him in St Lawrence School,
dreaming he would follow in his footsteps. He admits he misses medicine at
times. The sheer joy I found in peoples eyes when their loved one returned
from the grip of death that was instant gratification. Music
gives people a different kind of joy, though, muses Sidhu. But theres a
similarity. Both music and medicine bring positive energy. The scalpel is a
thing of the past now.
INPUTS FROM SHARMISHTA KOUSHIK,
PAUL AND AJANTA CHAKRABORTY
Dr Chitnis: This is no
Varun and Manas: Whats
Arun Pai: Heritage calling
Sachin Patil: The joy of
Sidhu: Quite a rocking life