Saturday, April 25, 2015

Time for A Sunday Post!

My silence over the last few weeks - I did only a few posts since the beginning of April - was only partly intentional. As much I would like to claim I was busy, I was on holiday, traveling through Middle Europe and taking a train journey through the Alps, something I wanted to do for a long time. A family of friends joined us, so all this was family and friends time, as relaxing I could perhaps ever expect. It was full of beautiful sights, the grandeur of Vienna rather overwhelmed by dark romantic Prague and natural magnificence of Salzburg mountains, and of contrasting experience, very touristy Sound of Music trip around Salzburg contrasted starkly with a monastery stay at the centre of Vienna. It was my time to be with others, and go around in a bus ride across Schonbrunn Palace endlessly for a day, and of being myself, an early morning walk through Bergstrasse to stop across the road from No. 19, where Freud lived and worked most of his life. 

But, this holiday, and the few weeks that followed it - busy and traveling - was also about a pivot. I planned the holiday just because I needed to be away from everything else to be able to pause and reflect. While I often do so while working, particularly taking advantage of this blog (which is really one conversation with many of my friends) - and this was indeed my intention - I could see the benefit of being silent and withdrawn for a while. That way, I could think of big questions, returning to India versus thinking longer term in Britain, taking up a professional life versus going back to entrepreneurial life, about what I do in the future etc. 

Now, I feel reasonably settled - and therefore, it is time to return to blogging. In fact, this is time to do a real Sunday Post, which was intended to be personal, fragmented and momentary, but honest, and from the heart. It is a moment to dream again, for me, and to redefine my ambitions - a beautiful context to reshape what I do, think and write about. The fact that I started writing this post sitting in an apartment in Manila last Sunday, back in my nomadic work life, could not perhaps be more appropriate, as is the fact that I only finish writing this today, as I returned home to London after a gap of almost five weeks, during which I have been to eleven different cities.

The conflicts that define my life - a global ambition versus a wish to live a serene life, the desire for creative space versus a working life in various business roles, attachment to family versus a designed bohemianism - were all captured, in one way or other, in the last few weeks. I had some emotionally excruciating moments, times when I felt deeply offended, when the silliness of my current occupation was abundantly demonstrated, and times when I felt so grateful, when I knew how lucky I was to be able to live the way I do and do the work that I do. It was open season for imagination, and in many ways, best time to re-imagine my life.

I come through it with an urgent desire to change my life. What I do now is temporary, I felt more clearly than ever. There are professional reasons for this - my work is only marginal in the scheme of things - but most importantly, this is not in sync with my personal ambitions anymore. In the past few months, I reviewed my plans to return to India in the immediate future and also to settle in South-East Asia, particularly Philippines. Because I was close to the ground, it was easier for me to engage and test various assumptions I was making about both the moves, only to decide that both the plans are rather unrealistic. I return to the obvious, planning to stay where I am and giving it another three to five years before I think of moving again, while consolidating my engagements in Kolkata by sorting out where I stay and expanding social and work connections in the city.

This shifts my focus back on UK, my adapted country. I have effectively banished all talk of return, at least for the moment, and intend to focus on the practicalities of settling in the UK, which I did not do since I came here in 2004. I was always half-committed, and I have finally grown tired of being in transition. Indeed, this means work, and in many senses, starting from scratch on some areas. I have been developing my expertise in the International Markets for several years now, which was consistent with my intent to return. However, with the change of plans, I intend to work further on the areas of expertise which are valuable for the UK marketplace and recalibrate my engagements accordingly.

The work I do is, and will perhaps remain, global, but it is time for me to think through my priorities all over again. I tried and failed, but at this very moment, I am realising that this failure has only augmented my expertise and networks further. The limits that I put on myself is completely self-imposed and I feel ready again to resurrect my entrepreneurial ambitions. The only adjustment perhaps is that I wish to do this on a more realistic scale - I am now focused on UK and Europe - but essentially, I wish to draw upon all the things I have done so far. Indeed, I have some commitments to fulfill, and this should take me the best part of the next six months or so, but I want to set things in motion now rather than later. This blog, therefore, is due for a pivot - I record my progress as I go along - to become the chronicle of a new journey that I am set to begin.


 

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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

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We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

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