On Jan 30, 2003, I wrote this review for The Economic Times: Madras Plus. And that makes it a decade since I began reviewing (and indeed, writing) for publications, a decade since I shucked off a life in another continent and began another back home in India. Felt I needed to mark this on the blog, hence this bitty post.
It was a very rough time at first, since no one really tells you how little writing pays, but things got better and I can’t complain. Well, if I look at my richly compensated peers in IT and management jobs, I do begin to whine from time to time, but then there are things about my job that they wish they had, so it all evens out, I guess.
Over the past few years, I’ve been speaking in various colleges and institutions, and the thing they always want me to talk about is how I left engineering and carved out a new career for myself. It makes me laugh, because most of these colleges are engineering colleges, and the kids want to know how to get out of engineering. So along with the usual spiel about how I went about the whole thing, I also tell them this — that following your passion, your dream, is fine, but just keep in mind that one day it becomes a job.
That’s one thing you’re not really prepared for when you begin to “follow you passion,” that one day it will become a job, and the pieces you used to write at your leisure, for fun, for a break from the daily grind, now come with deadlines. No one tells you that, one day, the passion becomes the daily grind.
Of course, I’m not complaining. I’m doing what I want to do, what I set out to do, and it’s gotten me recognition — and no one can complain about that. It’s just that there’s another side to everything, and I wanted to point out this other side.
But that acclimatisation has been easier than a more personal one, that of practising a profession in the public eye. As an introvert, your mantra is “please leave me alone; I’m happy in my corner reading a book.” But in this profession, your mantra is “don’t leave me alone; don’t ignore me; please read me.” And reconciling these two aspects of my personal and professional lives has been the most difficult part of the last decade.
The kind of skills I’ve picked up — not just communication and networking skills, things like seeking out people and extending your hand and introducing yourself, but survival skills — could make up a book, and there are times I feel that this is what I should write about next. (But no, don’t worry. I’m not going to inflict that self-help book on you.)
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who reads me, and especially to the regulars on this blog. Thank you all very much.
PS: It’s funny how many people I’ve met from public professions who claim to be introverts. Must be something in the water.
PPS: And no, I really cannot believe it’s been a decade.