Year 2008, like hundreds of other MBA aspirants I was also admitted in a reputed B-School from US. Classes began in September 2008, and I don’t think there was a single student who did not dream of earning in dollars. But unfortunately this was also the year when the news paper headlines read ‘Economy falls into great recession’, ‘Lay offs cut deep into the economy’. It was not very late that we began realizing that our dollar dreams were going to be really hard to achieve.
My school was a global school with a campus in Boston as well. I was first introduced to Tejes Nayak during the making of the school year book. There was never a rivalry as such, but we at the Dubai campus certainly wanted our year book to be better than theirs. Well! No harm in a little competition. I got to know that Tejes was clicking pictures for the year book in Boston. When I found out more about him my first reaction was that the Dubai year book is certainly going to be better than the Boston one, I mean after all how much of creativity does a doctor who is now doing his MBA have? Yes Tejes was a doctor and now doing his MBA in US and during that clicking picture, I mean seriously, how confused is this guy I thought?
Truth is I never saw the Boston year book hence I would like to believe that the Dubai batch year book was the best, call it ‘clan loyalty’. Year 2009 through 2010 was the time when I was hearing everyone getting into jobs, maybe not their dream jobs but atleast something to start with. Tejes also had started working at a start up firm in India after his initial struggle. I also got busy with my wedding (yes that is the closest an unemployed female can do. Get Hitched!)
Then one day I received an invitation to like a page on Facebook, ‘Tejes Nayak Photography’. Well I instantly liked it, one because Tejes was a good friend now and I really thought the guy knew what to do with his camera. It is ok to indulge in your passion even if it does not pay because you have your job which pays for your debts. This was also the time I discovered a passion within me, writing! I had also discovered another passion, food! No not the eating part, the cooking part. See, unemployment has its benefits too! So, anyways after Tejes had started his own photography fan page, I met him over coffee in Mumbai. After initial hugs, we started talking on the most ‘important’ subject employment. Just like a month after marriage everywhere you go, people start asking you about the ‘good news’, after you have done your MBA people only talk about ‘jobs’!!
Me: So how is your job going?
Tejes: Good. Not the one I had wanted but something to help me with my financial commitments.
Me: Well, look at the brighter side, you atleast have a job, I am still looking and I am telling you it is not a good place to be in.
Tejes: True. That way I really feel blessed when I look at my ‘unemployed’ friends
I am not even going to mention how much that word ‘unemployed’ hurt at that time, I almost wanted to push him out of the chair he was sitting!!
Tejes: But I have plans to quit
Me: Oh good! you have got something better? I am so happy for you.
Fake. I was jealous. Here I was not having a single job and this guy is quitting his current job because he has another one!!
Tejes: No. I don’t have another job. I want to pursue photography!!
When I heard this I almost threw up the coffee, and then gulped it back in, the coffee was really expensive!
Me: Tejes, I know you love clicking pictures but you cannot quit your job to pursue a hobby, that is really insane!
Tejes: I know it is a huge step, but I feel so boxed up in my job. I feel I am wasting my time.
Me: Tejes firstly it is not a ‘huge’ step but a suicide jump; secondly you discovered your passion after becoming a Doctor and spending lacs of money in doing a MBA?? Seriously? What does your family think about it?
Tejes: Everyone around me is ridiculing me for this thought. Family has always been supportive but with this idea they seem to be a little on the edge and asking me to take it slow. But Sunita if I don’t break free now I will never be able to do it.
At this point I started imagining Tejes with a camera around his neck and clicking pictures at a tourist place!
Tejes: And Sunita I have read your blogs. You really write well, you should try your hands at newspaper articles and why not write a book.
My eyes popped & almost fell into the coffee! I mean you fall into a ditch and drag me alongwith you? Write a book it seems huh!!
As I left every part of me hoped he did not do something as stupid as quitting his job to click pictures but what do you do when your passion gets the better of you? A month or two after our meeting he actually quit his job to pursue his dream. I was following his photography page very religiously and each picture was better than the previous one. Out of his passion was born ‘Indian Wedding Katha’ a humble venture to start his own Photography business. No one was taking him seriously, but he decided not to give up. When he posted the pictures of his first project I knew this was a man who was born to click. Indian Wedding Katha is not just about clicking pictures and arranging it in a photo album; it is about creating a strip of love story with his pictures towards a beautiful happily ever after. A year later his calendars are usually full with work, but ask Tejes and he would say this is just the beginning, (yes he also gets paid).
As for me, two months after our discussion the Times of India published my first article. There have been number of articles after that and yes I do get occasionally paid. I have also been working on my book which is half way through and someday hopefully will make it to the stands.
Recently I shared a picture clicked by Tejes on my Facebook page and mentioned ‘This was clicked by MY friend’ (yes yes the shameless me). Tejes took a very big risk to pursue his dream. He quit his job in the most difficult times.Not only were the finances a challenge but we all know what social standing a photographer holds in a middle class India. From ‘Employee’ to ‘Employer’ sure wasn’t a cake walk. He is an entrepreneur now, the MBA education helps with the business part of it and for the Medical education, who knows when the bride faints and needs a doctor :)