Year 2015: Necessary choices, welcome consequences.
Like any other year, I write this note in an introspection of the year 2015 that’s going to end, the various hits and the various misses, the people who have helped me and the way forward.
I’m on my way to Mumbai. If things go just fine, I’d be photographing Anoushka Shankar and might interview her as well, on behalf of The Hindustan Times, Mumbai. This would be my second mention in HT Mumbai this year. This year has been quite an eventful one.
This is perhaps the first year which was driven entirely by circumstances, one leading to another. I had to make choices, I did. The consequences are just welcome. I’d decided to leave the TCS project I was in, because a person promised that he’d get me into the analytics team in TCS. After a quick two rounds of interviews and one quick training session, I found myself in the digital wing of TCS only to find sometime later, that the only work at hand was HTML coding. “It is not a bad job, you see!” said the HR. “But I did not leave SAP to do HTML coding, you see?”, I retaliated. Cutting across protocols I got connected to a few people and into around four projects where I worked for a few weeks before being shown the protocol. “Do not forget that you are only three years experienced in TCS. I have completed over seventeen.”, said the delivery head who had got me in. “Toh?”, I wondered. It was a subtle hint of something I knew nothing of. (Related blog post: Link)
Kolkata Bloggers had by then made its mark in the newspapers, after it was approached by The Times of India. Like always, I had no paperwork and all promises were verbal. The fantastic person that Jit is, he offered us more than what we had discussed. “How does Kolkata respond?”, Jit asked. “20 blog posts?”, I fumbled. “Could your team make it over 50?”. I kept quiet. By the time the entire campaign ended, we had over a ninety blog posts of which seventy-six were valid. TOI (Jit) gave us our logo space, gave us more responsibilities, opening slot and it was a celebration. These weren’t discussed before. I could not have imagined something as grand specially since Kolkata Bloggers were just formed. All that we had was the database and a handful of well-wishers. Jit became a good friend and I was comfortable enough discussing which university, on a personal front, I want to apply to. [Read: The curious case of Kolkata’s Literary circles.]
The “Great Indian Bloggers Meet” had eminent people seated in front of me while I spoke. It was a nice feeling. Weeks later, a person called Jaideep Mazumder from TOI connected to me. He wanted to write an article on bloggers in Kolkata. I had one lovely open hearted discussion with him. Never in my interactions did I ask him his designation and I believed it would be some small article. But when the article came out in March, I realised that he is the assistant editor of The Times of India and it was a one full page article. It was more of an unpaid advertorial. I did not know how to react, but everyone else were very happy. Saimantick, Arjyak, Sourav da and all were definitely excited. That made me happy. [Check the newspaper report here.]
After the event with TOI and before this article came out, Kolkata Bloggers had already worked for the government of West Bengal, Kolkata Literature Festival and I connected to a few more people. One of them referred me to Amarthya Sikdaar, who wanted me to set his company up in Bangkok. It was the first time I met this person and I promised him that I’ll be there in Bangkok setting his company. Days after having promised him, I was slightly scared. I neither knew him nor his partners and definitely not Bangkok.
The evening before I was supposed to leave for Bangkok, I met Jaideep da and Rrivu. “You should be really excited. You are going to Bangkok! Any travel should excite you”, said Rrivu. Hardly I could have told him my apprehensions. While on my way home Jaideep da told, “Go you’ll like it!”
The language is strikingly different from anything even remotely related to English or Bengali. The another director of the company was a warm person. The discussions with Arjyak and Asmita, especially when it rained calmed me down.
I was not of much help. It was too premature for me to have gone there and I had not by then, resigned from TCS. I was apprehensive but the entire thing was very smooth.
The Bangkok Trip: It added another major perspective to my life. I enjoyed the anonymity there, the different places, negotiations and the people I was working with. There were times when I had exhausted all my money, so I took up other photo-blogging assignments. Soon a couple of tours were made free for me. I also came to know how big blogging has become outside India. I was in the TBEx (Travel Bloggers Exchange) meeting in Bangkok. There were areas where I could learn from the bloggers and the expats there. I chipped in with my stories of Bengal and Sikkim. That enthused them. (Related blog post: Link.)
Staying away from home made Calcutta even more special. The little bit of discussions with Arjyak, Saimantick, Souranil were lovely where I would enthusiastically share my day’s experience.
I came back to Calcutta and three significant things happened.
- Arjyak and I were invited to have tea with the then US Consulate General.
- Kolkata Bloggers were asked to hold a session in the Edutainment show 2015.
- Aji Issac Mathew expressed his wish to hire me into his new team as a product manager.
Last year, Nat Geo Insta walk called me where I met Iftekhar Ehsaan. He is one good person I draw inspiration from. Slightly after the bloggers session with the TOI, there was Ifte’s walk, of which I was a part. I met Subba Chen (di) who is Ifte’s friend.
When we were at the launch of the Park Street WiFi, we came across Subba di and her friend Ipshita di, who works for the US Consul. Phew, long connection you see! She was impressed with our work and soon after we found ourselves conducting the bloggers workshop with the best schools and colleges, collaborating with the US Consulate.
The leads of the Edutainment show came from Abhishek Chamaria and Paromita di. Abhishek Chamaria is one very honest and humble person you would find in the business circles of Calcutta. Maybe because he is relatively younger. He always gives credit where it is due, volunteers and collaborates. It is always a pleasure meeting and working with Mr. Chamaria. Paromita di owns Candid communication. I came across her last year for an event and she’s always been a support since then. We later worked together for the Bangla Sahitya Utshob and now for the Kolkata Book Fair. [Click here to check the newspaper report.]
The Edutainment show opened a range of opportunities for us and saw the first money coming into the Kolkata Bloggers’ pockets. I am very bad when it comes to keeping in touch with people. Sneha Maloo, the coordinator there, is one lady who is bubbling with ideas and very eager to learn. She has her own set of apprehensions and differences in expectation setting. That is perfectly all right because we are two different people coming from two different backgrounds all together. It was very good working with her for the Edutainment show.
Anyone who knows me know Aji. He is the first person I interned with and he gifted me www.anirbansaha.com, yes which later became my identity. I regard him a teacher and when he gave me a call, there was no second thoughts for me. The day after having discussed my role in his new company, I resigned from TCS.
Circumstances led us to work with NASSCOM and a few other clients. I saw Saimantick moving to Mumbai and at a personal level, it was slightly painful. Arjyak on the other hand was grooming himself to become a proper lead of Kolkata Bloggers. This is one of the happiest feelings.
July – October: I was always unwell, had joined a new office, struggling to understand my new role and the newer kinds of people I had to interact with. From Kolkata Bloggers, we just kept performing not sure how the results were. Personally speaking, it was tough. Had Arjyak not been there, it would have been impossible for Kolkata Bloggers to pull it off.
Tales to Tell: “Tales to Tell” (or T2T) is a book compiled and published by BEE Books, the entries of which were scouted by Kolkata Bloggers. It was fun interacting with so many young people together. Working for T2T was like revisiting my college life. It had its fun moments, fights, anger, ego clashes and when things worked out just fine, we smiled and partied. After being sold out two times before launch over Flipkart, sold out completely during the launch, we touched the breakeven within two months of the launch. Last evening, Esha informed that a hundred more books are ordered in Delhi. We still have the various Literature Festivals across India and yes, the book fair. [Click here to know more about Tales to Tell.]
Let’s not get into how I met Esha. It’s complicated. All that my readers need to know is – our professional partnership rocks. We complement each other’s thoughts properly. She is a control freak. I am moderately a control freak as well. But I am sure of the quality she would come up with, so I am very happy passing the responsibility to her. Especially when the other people in the team are Arjyak, Rrivu and Surya!
While on this train to Mumbai, I met a co-traveller Rohan Hingorani. He grew up and graduated in Australia, worked in the army and is now travelling the world at 23. Germany’s David whom I met in Bangkok too is travelling right now. The traveller in me is facing its slow death. Not that I would want it to. Circumstances and choices.
I’ve become a reluctant blogger these days. This year 2015, I’d wanted to put up organised, well written and long articles. I am not sure how successful I’ve been in engaging the audience. In the month of September, Similarweb shows that the blog engaged around ten thousand users. For an extremely ordinary employee like me, this is not a bad amount of engagement.
I plan to work for the next couple of years and pursue my masters. I feel I’d be running out of fuel very soon. Or is it the quarter life crisis? I don’t know. I’ve been trying to analyse myself since February. So it’s like eleven months of analysis and I think what I want to do in my life. Or at least for the next five years. I’ve never been much of a planner and to be speaking like this certainly feels weird but fresh.
I’ve changed over this period of a year. I’ve faced newer challenges, failed in a few, learnt newer things specially life skills. I am a calmer person now. May be because the only people I interact with are the ones I love a lot. Else I just do not respond or respond very reluctantly. Call it the work pressure or my weak health, I’ve become slightly less social online and the offline conversations have regained its charm.
That’s a wrap for this year. I hope you enjoyed it. Allow me to engage you in some discussion or the other. Pray for me so that I am able to write posts that add some value to you. Stay connected to www.anirbansaha.com.
December 12, 2015: I actually photographed Anoushka Shankar. One of the photographs came out in HTCafe (Hindustan Times) the next day.
December 24, 2015: Photographed Belur Math’s Christmas eve celebrations. It was divine. I do not know why it is not very popular and only a very very few know about it. Celebrations like this should be really popular across the world.
December 31, 2015: Resigned from EsportsIDTech, the startup where I was working as the Product Manager. Might join Techshu as a Product Manager during March 2016. Aji Issac Mathew is one of the directors of EsportsIDTech and also co-owns Techshu.
Post edit: Esha Chatterjee (CEO, Bee Books Publishing house.)