Life in Gurgaon

In pursuit of purpose: Tales of alternative careers from Gurugram

Source: Hindustan Times

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At 30, Karan Singh had spent eight years in the corporate world at various human resource management firms. He was doing well in his job and was sure to grow in his organization. But, something began to stir inside him and he started feeling more disconnected with the 9-to-5 routine. He soon went on to quit his corporate job and finally started doing what he wanted to do—spend more time with his child and pursue his passion of handcrafting acoustic and electric guitars.

Singh is not the only one on the bandwagon of those choosing an alternative career path in their 30s. There are many more Gurugram residents who have quit their cushy corporate job to pursue their calling, thanks to an epiphany, irreversible fatigue and monotony or simply a strong desire to express oneself.

Singh, who feels much more fulfilled today, says, “I have chosen a path and have taken 100% ownership of it, whether things go well or not. At times the level of immediate happiness may dip, but the sense of accomplishment and meaningfulness I experience today is so much higher.”

While some make conscious decisions to follow their dreams, others start on an alternative path by a stroke of chance or design.

This was the case for Shweta Bajaj, whose switch to fitness as a career after spending a decade in the BPO/KPO industry was more organic than deliberate.

“I made the switch to fitness to get a grip on my health, which was deteriorating rapidly. I was facing a lot of health complications due to my excess weight. What started off as a personal improvement plan, soon turned into a passion. There was an abundance of conflicting knowledge regarding fitness. At that time, I decided to educate myself on the topic instead of blindly accepting or following what was laid down before me,” says Bajaj, who now has her own fitness venture called Resculpt with Shweta and has helped many achieve their fitness goals.

An HR professional for nine years, 34-year-old Karan Singh started handcrafting acoustic and electric guitars, under the name Bigfoot Guitars.

A high paying job at a reputed company is a common dream for many Indian families. But despite the lure of the fat paycheck and pressure of meeting societal expectations, 30-year-old Nancy Bhasin decided to swim against the tide.

“Building something from scratch requires a lot of investment and, of course, you can’t pay yourself till the business becomes stable. Over the years, you get so used to a paycheck and giving it up to become independent is the biggest adjustment you have to make,” says Bhasin, who at the age of 30, quit a nine-year-career in advertising to start her own fashion swapping platform, called This for That. The app allows women to list out all that is unused in their wardrobes and swap it for someone else’s fashion. She said her venture was a result of her desire to do more than living a guarded life in glass and steel offices.

Echoing similar emotions is Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj, who quit a cushy job with an IT giant to pursue her passion of filmmaking. “Parents aren’t immediately comfortable with such decisions made by their children. It can be really challenging to convince them because they don’t want to see their child struggle and start all over again. My parents still worry about the certainty and future prospects of what I do.”

Abhishek Mishra (32) quit his job with General Electric to pursue endurance sports full time. He now organises running events and gives motivational talks. He will soon release his first book, titled Run to Realise.

The pursuit of finding meaning in their lives is much greater for tricenarians, it seems. Getting the opportunity to express themselves creatively and establishing their individuality is another primary pull for them.

Abhishek Khanna, after having spent 15 years in the corporate world across industries, decided to become a food stylist and food photographer at the age of 34. “When I was in college I wanted to be in a corporate environment because I was attracted by its glamour. I stuck to the corporates for long to keep living that lifestyle, but finally I realized that my once ubiquitous need to be creative was completely lost in the monotony of the corporate world,” Khanna says, adding, “Today whatever I do, I just want to make sure that I enjoy doing it, I have fun doing it. I love creating new things and photography for me is a medium to do just that. Photography lets me be creative, innovate, experiment and make something unique.”

Living a life with no regrets is another factor which catalyzes such a switch in career paths, along with the will to make a difference.

After working in a market research firm for a long time, Ved Nandya made the switch at 30. Concerned about how dirty the cities were becoming, he started a waste management and home composting company called Sampoorn Zero Waste.

“Most people do not think of waste management as a field worth getting into. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but did not have the guts as I don’t hail from a business family. But, at 30 I thought, if I don’t take the plunge now, I will certainly have regrets when I turn 60,” Nandya concludes.