I'm an ex-banker by profession and when I decided to quit I didn't know what I would do with my time.
I was sure that I'd start off with my own venture, but what shape it would take was something I couldn't fathom, no matter how hard I tried. So, I decided to let go forcing myself to arrive at a decision or an idea to take up. I knew eventually it would come to me.
It happened when I visited my hometown - Bhubaneshwar after many long years with my mother (to meet up with relatives & generally take stock on things there).
I went about visiting old long forgotten places like Cuttack, Puri, Kendrapada; visiting the local monuments, savouring the local food & like a tourist shopping for artifacts & memorabilia. Since I was visiting after a long time (almost 13 years), I also thought I'd pick up some gifts for my friends back home and that's how I discovered the rich art & craft heritage of Orissaa. I was spoilt for choice - I could choose from Sambalpuri fabrics, Silver filigree, the famous applique work, Patachitra paintings etc; and this came as a surprise to me. Little did I know of the existence of these beautiful craft forms.
I also had the opportunity to meet the artisans who produced these articles. For me, while it was wonderful to connect with them & know more of their lives; it was also shocking to find that artisans who produced such intricate art work (that people paid a hefty price for), lived in abject poverty - living hand to mouth, completely dependent on middle men for work & business, & using primitive methods to produce these articles.
That's when the idea came to me - I thought if I could source articles from these artisans directly & sell them in the domestic & international markets, I would be able to help them (in whatever little way directly); while also making a successful business of it. Further, I was sure of there being a market for these Oriya handicrafts since I found them to be unique & different from the handicrafts I had seen in bigger cities, after all although an Oriya myself I had little idea of the arty treasures that my state produced.
And so it happened, that I found my purpose - to engage in something artistic & creative, while dealing with people rather than computers (no offence to those who love doing that) & being able to make a difference to society (albeit small).
I consider myself lucky since I simply love what I do - I love dealing with my people, love speaking in Oriya while discussing & transacting with them, I look forward to my visits there & I love the food I eat when I'm there - it reminds me of my childhood.
To sum it up, I love everything about Orissa, my motherland that inspired me!