A big thank you to all my friends and readers who loved my last two blogs, under this series. After I had published each of them, many positive vibes flowed. I received several messages of support. A few others (known and unknown) asked for my CV. A few friends spoke to their friends in influential positions, urged them to help get me a job and connected me to them. A couple of highly successful people at Singapore, unknown to me before, also called over to meet me. From the drab days, devoid of any action, suddenly there were some movements in my life. Writing has indeed been my biggest weapon to fight the odds. In an age, when people struggle to recall what they did the previous weekend, my writings have kept me alive, at least in some minds.
Aside unconditional support from select family members and friends, the one big reason that has kept me sane, stitched and fighting, in this difficult period, has been my hobbies. As I write, I followed the Indian cricket team beat Australia at Australia; stayed awake late nights to watch Champions League football matches; My weekends were kept busy by football matches from all European leagues; I was also following the Indian hockey team play in the World Cup; In between I am writing this blog and other blogs; Also writing a book in parallel; I am still vacationing at my regular frequency – once in two months – including a visit to my college sponsored alumni meet where I did a standup comedy in front of 1500 warm and boisterous crowd; I am tracking sales of my first two books, published in 2018 and incidentally crossed 1000 copies download/sales mark; Monitoring stocks prices and where to invest money to help generate some revenue; My heavy metal – progressive rock music listening time has only increased and my movie reviews still get published.
The above is to be added to my non stop job searchefforts, chalking out plan B ie resettlement to India including selling my house at Singapore; and two regular activities I have recently added to my portfolio – mandatory playing with my kids everyday and search for remote freelancing jobs (UpWork is a very good website for that). It is funny, but despite being unemployed, harrowed and tense, my mind is totally occupied. Friends, hobbies and the will to keep punching back has fairly kept me on my toes.
Evolution of my Hobbies
I credit my upbringing a lot for all this. As a kid, I used to have multitude of hobbies despite weak academic results. I was into stamp collection; music cassette collection; sport stars poster collection; post card collector; movie buff; sports buff; music buff; cycling for long hours with Gautam and Anirban; loved challenging my cousins and maternal uncles into eating competitions – ‘How many rossogollas (An India sweet delicacy) can you eat?’ Fixing my own bicycle, repairing electrical switches and even changing the cooking heater wiring, when barely in my teens. My parents never discouraged me in all this and till date I have taken pride in each of my hobbies. Growing in a middle class household in India, in a small town –Jamshedpur, did also add a fair bit of struggle and doses of toughness in people of my generation. Am sure each of you, who have come through similar circumstances, had similar buffet of hobbies and passions. Hence, today, I feel pained when most of my friends, with whom I grew up, have cut off all hobbies and left their lives to more or less revolve around the rat race, a few selfies and ‘I am very busy these days’ monologue. I sincerely encourage all of you to build hobbies. And counting calories in your diet cannot be one of them!!
At a time when I have begun to believe that I have been left ‘unemployable’, my hobbies have come to the rescue of my spirit. Make no mistake, over the last 141 odd days, I may have received 1441 phone calls and listened to 14441 advises, opinions and judgments; but am yet to receive even 00001 job offer. It has brought various thoughts into me. Maybe I am no more needed in the corporate world here at Singapore. Maybe people like me or the skill sets that I possess are no more needed here. Maybe I was wrong all these years – in investing every cent of my hard-earned income into retirement funds here hoping my skills will be permanently appreciated and needed here. Maybe I was wrong all these years in my emcee hosting scripts, social media posts, blogs and in my corporate training talks – encouraging every listener to appreciate the country more for what the leaders have done, to love Singapore more. I was never needed. Maybe I was wrong all these years urging my friends to celebrate all festivals, visit all places of worship – my house is still graced with Chinese New Year 2018 decoratives and ‘Last Christmas’ bells. Maybe I was always wrong in encouraging the idea of inclusiveness to everyone around me. When it all had to end with me being labelled an extremist.
SMS from God
Or Maybe I was right all along. Maybe God has given me this big chance to return back from my ‘economic refugee’ (as proudly labelled by trollers to all expats) status to my roots, to spend time with people who would appreciate my values more. To maybe give away with corporate comfort – forget the people who after working for a decade, do not have the guts to stand up for me; or ones who don’t value me. Maybe I should teach kids back in my country. Maybe I should hold adoption seminars in India – something I have successfully done at Singapore; Go back and spread financial literacy in my country – just as I did in few schools of Singapore. I can probably help out the needy immigrants in India – just like I volunteered many evenings (after work) for a government agency, helping injured laborers understand their legal rights at Singapore.
We have all got one life. And life can be unfair; and will be unfair at some point. But it’s a choice we all have. We can all keep earning money to wear Levis jeans, drink coffee in Starbucks and later die rich. Or make a difference to humanity, to people around us and be around people who would appreciate us.
Happy New Year 2019, to you and your loved ones.
– Avijit Das Patnaik