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Dream-chasers

Jyoti Pande Lavakare 

I’ve had this theory for ages — it’s pretty simple, really. That people who are passionate about what they do and are lucky enough to do that for a living, end up being highly successful in their chosen fields. Especially if they have the courage to follow their dream doggedly, against all odds.

And such people bring a special, almost luminescent quality to their performance, so inspirational for others.

The best part is that if you love what you do, and you’re able to monetise it so that that is your job, you’re likely to be excellent at it (because you’ll do it often, thus getting enough practice at doing it well) — and well, then it won’t even feel like a job.

However, not everyone is that fortunate. Most of us compromise easily — the promotions, salary raises and bonuses are enough to buy out our inner passion and dreams. But for those of us who are able to overcome those temptations, the rewards can be life-altering.

I’m not talking about the super-fortunate. The ones who do what they love — for causes bigger than themselves. Like Dr Vibha Krishnamurthy, who trained as a pediatrician, loves working with children, and after a series of fortunate events, ended up founding the Ummeed Child Development Center for children with developmental disabilities. Eleven years later, she still sounds excited as she talks about her dream and her job — or rather, her dream job. “I always wanted to work with children. When I entered this field (of developmental paediatrics), I realised that this was my calling. I love coming into work every day,” she tells me from Mumbai.

I can name dozens more like her in the social non-profit sector. But even for those who don’t get that extra kick from doing good, doing well isn’t all that drives them. Like Gautam Luiz who runs Eloor Libraries in six cities, a legacy from his father Luiz John who began the first Eloor in Cochin in 1979 because he felt there wasn’t enough access to good books and reading. Luiz firmly believes in the value of reading and despite a dip in footfalls and revenues in his Bangalore and Chennai branches due to higher street traffic and increasing operational costs led by higher rentals — a challenge for any brick-and-mortar venture — he isn’t giving up. The former computer engineer plans to expand and strengthen current branches and will also go online with a Netflix-style home delivery model. But his libraries work on small margins. “This is more about the passion for reading,” he tells me from Kerala.

Another interesting venture fired by passion is Kunzum, named after a mountain pass, which straddles the intersection of travel, photographic art and publishing, linking travellers virtually across all forms of social media, as well as through a brick-and-mortar avatar, the tiny Kunzum Travel Cafe in a rustic-chic South Delhi location.

While Kunzum.com serves as an online guide for travel lovers, the cafe is meant for real travellers to meet in the real world — not just virtually — to exchange travel stories, make travel plans, meet other travel-crazy people, read and post travelogues on a pinboard, perhaps even write travel books. Or just chill out, browse, buy photographic art over coffee and cookies. It is equipped with wi-fi and a comforting ambience, several photographs on the walls and shelves of travel books — a traveller’s paradise. You can sit around as long as you like, and you pay (or don’t pay) what you like for your tea or coffee. Despite this, according to founder Ajay Jain, collections in the unobtrusive little box near the exit have met all variable costs of the cafe from its very first month of operation — people end up paying generously for the overall experience.

The cafe actually mutated from a gallery that exhibited travel photographs and books by Jain, a mechanical engineer-MBA-journalist-turned-travel photographer. Now, it also holds interactive talks, workshops by travellers, photographers musicians, film makers and writers and stocks travel books and guides for quick referral. With travellers sharing stories with each other — face-to-face and online — it has become an authentic place to exchange serious travel tips. “In travel, it helps if the engagement is physical, not virtual. Traffic on our website went up significantly after the cafe came up,” says Jain. He is now developing apps for smart devices to deliver Kunzum content and e-books in new media.

The rapidly growing expat community and the city’s young demographics have also shaped Kunzum’s growth. “From a 50-50 ratio, we now see almost 70-80 per cent expats at our cafe and events.” Jain plans more such cafes in Pune, Bangalore and Gurgaon.

If you look closely around you, increasingly, you’ll be able to spot this growing tribe of outliers. That’s the beauty of a young, dynamic India.


Jyoti Pande Lavakare is a Delhi-based writer
This is the final Chai Latte column. For earlier columns, log on to:
www.jyotipandelavakare.blogspot.in  

First Published: Sat, September 01 2012. 00:31 IST
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