Life Tales

Why Everyone should have a hobby
I was on first wildlife trip of my life. It was five months since my surgery and I was recouping well. The constant pain on the left side of my body bothered me for which I was prescribed nerve relaxing pills and pain killers. Doctors had told me that I have to live my whole life with this pain as the damage to some nerves was irreparable. I was wearing a thick neck collar to protect me from the jerks of the wildlife safari. I had never been to a jungle before. In fact, I had never heard of Ranthambore National Park. One of our Canadian customers was visiting and happened to be a wildlife photographer. He wanted to go to Ranthambore National Park and I decided to accompany him. Through a common friend, I got in touch with Aditya Singh who had a resort  there and arranged everything for both of us. We spent a wonderful two days there doing four safaris. Though we didn’t see any tigers, the trip was magical for me. All the pain that I used to have 24×7 just didn’t surface during the trip. I didn’t even take my pain killers and other medicines. I had a small camera and I took whatever pics it was capable of. I also knew nothing about photography. I could not differentiate between a Deer and a Sambhar. But these two days made me realize that I too can have a pain-free life. This was my first ever jungle trip and I think it’s fair to say that I was now completely hooked on the wonders, i.e. wildlife and photography. I was genuinely happy. Maybe for the first time in many many years. This became the first hobby of my adult life. 
Shot in Kutch
Shot in Kutch
The first thing I did on my return was to buy a new camera and long lens suitable for wildlife photography. Weekends were now trips to Okhla, Sultanpur, Dadri, Bharatpur – bird sanctuaries near my home. I started reading a lot about our natural history. I found few mentors and reached out to them and they were all very helpful to teach and fine-tune my photography skills. Exploring different Jungles became a monthly routine and I visited almost all big parks in India and Africa over the years. These trips to the jungles worked like therapy. In couple of years I was off pain killers and took them few times in a year only. I am completely off them now for almost 4 years. My hobby cured me of the pain, I was told, I have to live with all my life. All the past negative incidents that were reducing my ability to perceive a negative situation positively, and accepting it, were pushed back and forgotten. I became a new person, from one with a negative past to one with a fresh mind, eager to fill new positive experiences in life. This helped me in crossing an uncertain present and constructing a positive future.  Staying in nature brought me closer to God. When I am in the jungle, I am with myself. It’s me and the camera and the sound of the shutter clicking the beautiful animals and birds.
Shot in Masai Mara
Shot in Masai Mara
Thanks to social media my images were noticed. My pictures were published in various national and international magazines. And this hobby started making me some money too. Recognitions also came along. In 2014, I won the DJ Memorial Photography Award. In 2015 I won the ICICI Camaraderie award. Apart from huge prize money, I won a Car and a holiday to Australia. Also won Honourable mentions at various International and national awards. 
It was somewhere out there in the wilderness that an idea was born. An idea called SAEVUS (  Saevus is India’s premium wildlife and natural history web portal and magazine.  A dream, a vision, an idea to bring India’s amazing bio-diversity to every home. To celebrate the bold, beautiful and dynamic India, much of it unseen and unexplored.
Saevus was the coming together of seasoned entrepreneurs, ace photographers, naturalists, and storytellers, to captivate everyone’s imagination and arouse their consciousness. Saevus was my giving back to this community. The prizes and money earned through photography went back to the community. 
Namib Desert
Namib Desert
What I gained having a hobby?
It cured me of my pain.
It got me recognition.
I made new friends who also had wildlife photography as a passion. 
It boosted my confidence which helped me be more productive at work.
It rejuvenated me and removed negative stress.
It helped me in developing professionally also, as some of the skills I learnt, came useful at my work.
If you look at all the famous people, they all were avid hobbyist. Roosevelt enjoyed hunting, boxing, horseback riding, hiking, reading and writing.  Einstein was an avid sailor. Brad Pitt does pottery.  Julia Roberts knits, Tom Cruise does fencing, John Lennon collected stamps, Warren Buffet plays Bridge, US Past President Donald Trump plays Golf, Churchill did more than 500 paintings. Closer home – Rajnikant is an avid reader, Shah Rukh Khan is into gaming, Anil Ambani is a marathon runner, Alia Bhatt is a charcoal painter. If all these busy people have time for a hobby, so can you.
A hobby is needed to rest the mind that is often wearied by the stresses of life. As a professional, even 24 hours in a day seem too short a time. Hobbies and passions tend to take a back seat. You will burn out, which is why it is important to have some hobby outside your day job. Gardening, reading, running, collecting stamps, photography – whatever it is – let the hobby relax you and give you peace. A hobby brings stillness in life. It helps live a balanced life. A hobby is an investment. It gives you fulfilment and joy. Schedule them. Cultivate them. Take out time. 

January 16, 2022

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