Humans of Dialogues, inspired by HONY, is a photoblog that features portraits and interviews collected at Dialogues Cafe.
When I was twenty one, I traveled to Mumbai in my humble pursuit of film making. I didn't know anyone in Mumbai and thus had to undergo the void of a newcomer. I can’t forget those difficult memories of staying in a 25 rupees a day dormitory swarming with people, that dormant feeling of an outsider lost in the chase of an elusive dream. If I could come out of that personal abyss, I can survive anything. Yes, it is my own past that continues to inspire me, I have become an example of the choices I made.
I am a filmmaker who enjoys telling stories through the medium of films. My latest film was an official selection for New York Indian Film festival.
Making films is an inner journey and in that depth of exploration, you realise that life is a large-hearted comedy. We tend to ignore the humour in our fast paced life.
(Sandeep Mohan is one of the most widely loved and admired independent film maker of our generation. Sandeep screened his latest film Shreelancer to a full house at Dialogues last week.)
It was in the year 1979 when the Russians invaded Afghanistan that my family had to flee from the beautiful Sharanna Village which lies at the south of Afghanistan. Ever since India has been home to our family and I am a proud exponent of two of the richest cultures of the world.
In Bangalore I run fitness clubs, corporate wellness programmes and a charity organisation for underprivileged kids. In a long run, I wish to bring more children to sports and more sports to children. Sports builds a character in a person, it contributes to an overall personality. And that's what inspires me: contributing to human growth.
(Zaffar Khan aka Zaf is one of the most dedicated and well known health fitness professional in Bangalore. In his endeavour to make Koramangala community healthier, he is going to start a new fitness programme from the premises of Dialogues Cafe.)
I am a fitness entrepreneur and a lifestyle coach dedicated to spreading happiness through fitness. Four years ago, I bootstrapped my start-up with no experience in the business of fitness. Aided by my will-power and strength, I steered ahead to manifest an arguably tough pursuit into a hope multiplier, lifting health standards of many, especially women. My plunge into fitness directly associates itself with my acceptance of challenges posed by constant reminders, either beginning or ending with words: “you are a woman, you can’t do it”. As I chose to be both indifferent to the essence of the meaning in those demeaning words, I realise I have reached a stage when these words have proved to be a talisman for me. I chose to undertake my journey to torpedo a belief system that is symbolic of stereotypes that limit the ability of a woman within pre-defined constructs and to hold up a mirror to those who often deter many from reaching greater avalanches of ambitions.
As a published poet, a motivational speaker and an author to be, I hope to inspire, touch and change many lives
(Kavya Shankar is a founder of Unleash Fitness which has become one of the favourite one-stop destinations for fitness lovers in Bangalore. She feels Dialogues is a perfect solution for people like her who just wish to spend quality time at a cafe without being bothered about food)
As winds threw me far
To places never seen before
In experience there is a star
Who knows what life has in store!
Are you the one I fail to see?
Or are you just a blizzard in my eye?
I am a writer and my life is a story of my desires to capture beauty, solitude, conversations and nature in both prose and verse.
Having lived through multiple cities in India and UK, I have had this constant feeling of being a outsider, of not belonging (on some deep fundamental level). That detached feeling has stayed with me and has become an intrinsic part of my work.
I try to bring poetry to common people because I am a firm believer that poetry, marginalised by academia, should not be restricted to the realm of the elite. Poetry, which is transformative, should belong to everyone …
(Ajay Seshadri is a published poet whose books have received great accolades and awards from critics, media and literary circles. He launched his latest book “Lotus in a Fortress” at Dialogues)
My stories find their home from the life that I see around me and as long as I keep my eyes and ears open there will never be a dearth for them. It’s not been a very long time since I realized that I want to keep writing for the rest of my life and I am glad it took me this time. Today I know with an undeniable certainty that it is only writing which lets me be myself and I cannot be anyone else but myself.
You ask me among the myriad roles that I play which one do I like the most and I will tell you that each one of them are precious to me.
I love connecting with people. They give me my stories.
I love to share with them whatever I have learned along my way and hence I enjoy teaching.
And when I need to refill my rucksack with new learnings and experiences I turn to my daughter. Those parenting lessons are priceless.
Life is too short for regrets. Cliched as it may sound that is the belief that I go ahead with. I walk, I stumble and fall, I get up and walk again with firmer steps. The journey will go on!
(Asha Francis is a published author with over 12 years of experience in teaching English and writing. Her creative writing workshops at Dialogues have given her great reviews and lots of admiration from participants)
You can aptly call me an old Bangalorean. Bangalore has been my home since the day I was born. I have grown with this beautiful city, its amazing people and the city continues to play a strengthening character in my life.
I am a stand-up comedienne and have performed across various cities in India. Contrary to my image on stage, deep down I am a very shy person. I find it difficult to easily open up infront of a lot of people. Not having too many friends give me lot of free time and that is when I explore and “observe” deeply. And these observations are later transformed into my performances on stage.
Stand-up comedy teaches you a lot as a person. It teaches you the continuous journey of unlearning and learning and this ongoing process has definitely made me a stronger and a large hearted person.
(Sneha Suhas is an anchor, actor and a very popular stand up comedienne in Bangalore. Her wittily entertaining performance at Dialogues caused a lot of unprecedented laughter and a huge increase in her already large fanbase. )
Poetry is the spontaneous flow of emotions, it has a power to change lives. Poems make us to think, wonder and engage with the beauty of life.
I also try to capture the canvas of my life in prose and one day intend to be a published poet. I have written few of them and am trying to reach a count sufficient enough to be bound in a book.
Its been 6 years in Bangalore now and I can say that I am a contented software professional. I had my fair share of ups and downs in both personal and professional life. I have kept my humble pursuit of adding new skillsets and undergoing new experiences with me. I enjoy reading poetry and I read almost everyone from Robert Frost, R L Stevenson to new upcoming poets. There are some I understand, some I don't. Thats what makes poetry beautiful, you don't have to understand them but feel them..
(Gargi, works at one of the Big 4, has published several poems in magazines and plans to publish her own book. She enjoys attending events at Dialogues and poetry events are her clear favourites.)
Four years back, after burning a lot of midnight oil, I wrote a 1400 page fantasy novel. The book didn’t turn out as well as I expected and it was highly upsetting for me. I lost motivation for nearly 2 years, and I couldn't write anything. I took me time to recover and now I am back working on something better. That failure taught me a lot.The most important learning was that it taught me what not to do. I began studying the craft of writing more carefully and learned from the stories that were close to my heart.
I manage to write on a daily basis and in few months my next book is going to be completed and published. My advice to all aspiring writers is to keep at it. Don’t focus on bestsellers or what’s supposed to be a brilliant, critically acclaimed book. Read stuff that makes you happy and keeps you engaged, write to get reactions from your readers and don’t forget that everyone’s first draft is absolute shit. You have to edit something at least two to three times to make it beautiful. Ask your favourite author, they’ll agree with me.
(Akash KJ Bhat is a marketing communications professional with a leading electronics company and is a published writer. Akash performed to an audience laughing their heart out at an Open Mic event at Dialogues)
I was born in a small town on the day Neil Armstrong set his foot on the moon. Though many births happened on this historic day, my family went so far as to nickname me 'Apollo'. I had the privilege of spending my early life in Delhi where I was educated at Modern School, as well as at Indian Institute of Technology in engineering. Soon after, I left Delhi to set my sight on sailing through to do an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. Since then, working with some of the leading organisations has enriched my knowledge of the professional world we know today and provided me deeper insights into the much desired industry experience.
To this day, my work inspires me to run and vice-versa. Running is both my abiding interest and passion. I participate in a number of marathons, including in the one I established. I fondly call this “runversations”, a word that depicts a fusion of run, conversation and food. Through runversations, I meet people from diverse backgrounds. Meditating on their perspectives has made me a front runner on the road to success.
My purpose in life is to create a legacy, a legacy of giving back to society. As I think and suggest of giving, there is one message I always urge the next generation to believe in: "be go-getters, but don't forget to be go-givers, and without a feeling of inadequacy"
(Pankaj Rai is now one of the leading poster men in the marathon circuit in Bangalore. He is one of the chief evangelists of Dialogues, spending every weekend meeting people at Dialogues and also introducing people to Dialogues).
I don't know whether I have a very happening life or numerous interesting incidences just happen to me. I have a lot of stories to tell.
I live alone here in Bangalore, and it's been such an experience. I was in PG before this, and you think that's what it's like to live alone, but it really isn't. Everything's taken care for you in PG.
There’s one piece of advice I give to every girl I come across, especially the young ones I meet that are 21 or 22. Go on a solo trip at least once in your life. It’ll change your life. Normally we don’t do the things we like because we’re waiting for our parents, for our friends, for our boyfriends, for our husbands. There’s this weird stigma around doing things alone. Pay no heed to it. Let me tell you, there’s nothing shameful about doing things alone. It’s totally normal. And that way, you’re living for yourself – instead of living for how other people perceive you. If you want to see someplace, if you want to do something, don’t wait around for other people. Just go. If you want to travel alone, do it. Better still if you travel to another country where you feel like an outsider and don’t know anything about the culture. Go to a big place where you might be able to get lost in. Don’t have “family friends” there to fall back upon. You’ll have to keep your wits around you and make decisions and talk to new people. When you’re put into a situation where you have no choice but just do things yourself, you’ll learn what you really can do – and it’s a lot more than you think it is. And then you know you don’t need anybody but yourself. And everyone needs to know that.
(Riddhima Rajkumar is an HR professional whose stint as a campus recruiter provides her numerous interesting stories . She visits Dialogues every saturday where she sips her morning coffee and indulges in interesting dialogues with herself and people around.)
I’m a fashion and lifestyle blogger. There aren’t many tips on how to dress fashionably when you wear a hijab, so I wanted to spread some creativity and help other hijabie girls out, so that they aren’t shy about themselves and how they appear.
I’m technically from Andhra Pradesh but I grew up in Kuwait. When I was growing up I saw all these beautiful, inspiring women all around me, like my mother and my cousins.
I started to wear a hijab in ninth grade. I was in Kuwait then, and many people over there are hijabies, so it wasn’t like I was out of place. That all changed when I moved to Bangalore to do engineering. I was the only hijabie at college.
Slowly, other girls began to approach me. They told me that they wanted to wear hijabs too, but they were scared that they would have to start wearing plain, baggy clothes in the name of modesty. They asked me how I managed to find modest, fashionable clothing. I began to give them tips. The number of girls increased, and I created an instagram account to help them out instead.
A girl came up to me once and told me how she had always worn the plain black burqa for lack of other options, and that made her very shy in public. She was afraid people would perceive her as subdued or even elderly. It took a toll on her self-confidence. She told me that I should spread my ideas, so I decided to start a blog instead and inspire young women who want to take up the path I have taken but not compromise on their individual expression. You can be graceful and beautiful even when you take up a life of modesty!
I have just started to do DIYs, and I do style decodes for movies and revamp them to make them modest. I write articles on lifestyle as well, helping my readers with things like beating procrastination!
I love my life of modesty. I’ve never seen it as a form of oppression, as I know it tends to be perceived. It was my own personal choice. I quite like that it is easier for people to focus on my intellect and personality as opposed to my outward appearance. It gives me a sense of identity that I love, and it isn’t a barrier to anything I do. I feel empowered by my choice and the fact that I have the courage to display what I truly believe in openly.
(Farheen Sabah is a blogger and you can follow her instagram handle @kyriasabah and read her blog at kyriasabah.blogspot.in. She visited Dialogues during a bloggers meetup and has been endorsing this inspiring space to all creative people.)
I’m a business developer, but I take a few months off from work each year to just travel – I explore, I see the world.
When I travel, I like to think that I am not exploring the places I go to. I’d put it another way – I’m exploring myself and how far I can push myself, and how far I can go.
Travel is different from tourism. Travel is learning about new types of people, different ways of being. We very quickly get used to our ways of life, and it’s hard to see beyond that narrow scope. When you travel, you realise how small you are, how limited your own way of seeing is, how broad the scope of culture can be. Seeing the changing volatility of the places and culture around you is different – you’re growing with it. Seeing it change doesn’t expose you to people who have grown up away from you and have completely different ways of perceiving the world. Real travel is in the people you meet, the insight from conversations you have. Even observing them can bring about profound insight.
If there is a place I’d really recommend to someone, it would be Colombia. It’s my favourite of all the places I’ve visited so far. The people over there are so warm, so welcoming. They’re the most hospitable people I’ve met. They’re so open to showing you around. This, combined with the wonderful food and topography, makes it truly unforgettable. It’s such a pity that in ten years they’ve made tremendous progress as a country but we here still tend to relate the country to only one things – drugs. Travel helps with this, it helps us see multiple stories instead of one, unverified story we have of an entire place and people.
(Ankit is a dreamer and he loves traveling, motorcycles, chocolates, classic rock and llamas. When he is not traveling, he ensures to be a part of Dialogues with Travel sessions, held every third Saturday at Dialogues.)
I live in the Bay area of United States. Bangalore is where I have invested the bulk of my professional years. As I moved from one country to another, I accumulated from the gravels of every land I left behind, a sense of deep gratitude to many cultures of this world. Living away from home for any individual demands major adjustments that in my view serve as the best learning experiences.
My professional journey from Bangalore to Bay area has been one that can be described as nothing less than one walked through good conscience and hard work. The opportunity to build a global team over five countries is a product of these two simple yet uncommon pathways.
I express my gratitude to partners from around the world who helped me find my inspiration. My interactions helped me discover that I am inspired by passion, and primarily, my encounters with passionate people keeps me going in the way I do. I strongly believe that it is this passion that will be more important than ever in the coming years.
My advice to youngsters is to value and appreciate humans of all cultures and ethnicities, as false characterisations and prejudices shrinks talent even before it is recognised.
(Parag Chitalia is a Senior Director at VMWare and he stays with his family in Palo Alto, CA. He visited Dialogues to meet his old friends and returned highly appreciative of the concept.)
I am a hybrid human with my father from India and my mother hailing from the Philippines. I was born and raised in Oman, where I lived for 16 years and then thanks to my elder brother, I moved to India for my education. You can easily say that I have Indian blood, a Filipino heart and an Omani appetite (and a funny accent).
I am a passionate dancer and I love dubstep-belly dancing. My taste in music is a little strange- sometimes I like the beat slow, sometimes I like it fast and hence dubstep-belly dancing suits me. Dance helps me to relax(and get rid of the crazy).
My goals in life are shaped by my parents' dreams. I want them to be proud of me. I want to give back to them for all the hardships they have undergone to get me to where I am today. My mum's dream is to own a house with a big garden in front of it. The garden should have a big tree with a swing. I want to get my mum that house of her dreams.
(Lilian D’ Mello studies English, journalism and psychology at one of the premier institutes in Bangalore. She visited Dialogues for a creative writing workshop and promised to be a regular here.)
I hail from a very small town in Assam where there are very limited job opportunities. There is a mass exodus happening to Indian cities for jobs and I am also a part of such a mass departure.
I first went to Haryana and then to Kerala in search of a job but then I didn't liked it there. Then finally to my good luck, Bangalore happened. I like Bangalore a lot (for obvious reasons like good weather and good people).
I miss my family a lot and its kind of sad to not be with my parents. But I send them money so that my parents can buy a mobile phone and my brother can get some pocket money.
I love watching cricket. I used to be a good batsman in school. Now I just get to watch cricket on hotstar and I think Virat Kohli will get us the next world cup.
(Suraj Basu works at Dialogues and enjoys serving people with his smile and good food.)
I fell in love with a girl in my college and I wrote an entire book to propose her. I have been blissfully married to that girl for seven years now. In our journey of seven years together, we have undertaken trips to many unexplored territories. I think one is far more blessed if one finds an excellent travel buddy in a life partner. It doesn’t matter where you are going, its actually crucial who you go with. My wife and I complement each other in our travel journeys. I love driving and she happily and responsibly takes the seat next to me, plays good music and ensures full food supplies.
Doing new things inspires me as a person. One experience which transformed me as a person is when I skydived in Robertson, South Africa. Before the jump, I was very afraid of heights but that jump completely change my perspective. I overcame my biggest fear. Since then I have done lot of adventurous trips to different terrains. Its true that life has so much to offer and we should embrace it with open arms.
(Sabarish Subramanian works in the business development team in a leading E-commerce company. He visited Dialogues and pleasantly stumbled on the Dialogues of Travel event where he shared multiple travel tales.)
I was born in lucknow and was partly brought up in the two historic cities of Calcutta and Lucknow. As a child, I used to enjoy drawing and sketching a lot and that has stayed with me. Art inspires me as a person and I try to keep exposing myself to art as much as possible. I have also designed my living room as an art gallery where I listen to my art.
Family is one of the most important priority in my life. I ensure that I try to spend maximum time with family. Every morning, I have my morning tea with mom and dad and I get to learn so much about life from them. In the evenings I come back from office to spend quality time with my daughter. It is very satisfying to see her draw and play music. I am willing to give her everything. I want her to live a fulfilled life following her passion and her dreams...
(Rohit Ghosh works in one of the leading financial companies of India. He loves playing his guitar and djembe and is also a coffee lover. He is also a keen follower of Dialogues and tracks the latest happenings and events at both JP Nagar and Koramangala)
I am a practicing theater professional and I am currently based out of Bombay. As a large part of my work, I use theater as an effective teaching tool for individuals and corporates. Through stimulating theater workshops, people get to learn interpersonal skills which enables them to be the finest of leaders.
I got into the world of theater by accident. One summer, while I was studying to be a computer engineer, my sister spotted a writing about a 40-day theater workshop in Delhi. The theater workshop looked promising and exciting to me and I just participated out of sheer curiosity. But those 40 days of learning theater have changed me, turned me into the person I am. After that, I could never get back into computers.
I believe in the power of art and theater and have seen it changing people. It widens their horizons and one is forced to see the other person’s world. That’s what is my mantra for everyone: attempt to see other’s perspectives. Accept and acknowledge, that’s how the world would be a better and a compassionate place.
(Shruti Sridharan is an independent consultant at Applied Theater and Allied Media. She visited Dialogues on her recent visit from Mumbai to Bangalore and loves the new perspective Dialogues has added towards the world of cafés.)
My father was in the army, and that’s how I got to live in a lot of “wild” places across India. Few of the best days of my life were the ones when my dad was posted in the North- Eastern states of Assam and Nagaland. That’s where I was introduced to wildlife through my dad, whose passion for the wild was so inspiring and positively infectious. There were days when my dad used to take me deep into the jungles to learn and observe animal behavior and everything was so fascinating to me.
Apart from my current job, I try to devote my maximum time into wildlife conservation and I also blog about it. One day, I would want to pursue a career of wildlife conservation (probably after I have gained some exposure and saved some money).
Some of my life changing experiences have been my first tiger sighting moment and also the close moments with a little lion-tailed macaque. It was after 10 years of search I sighted a majestic tiger in the deep forests of Bandipur. It was one amazing huge creature gazing at me while I emotionally tried to capture it both in the memories of my brain and my camera. The lion-tailed macaque or the wanderoo is one of the most adorable but sadly endangered species because its forest habitat is being turned into farmland.
I wish to do alot to increase awareness amongst youngsters on the importance of conservation. It’s certainly not about whether these animals will survive or not, its largely about our human will to save them.
(Arachana Rajan is a wildlife enthusiast with love f or understanding animal behavior, tracking big cats and exploring the wilderness across India. She blogs at followthepugmarks.blog)
It was exactly one year back that I quit my job and started my entrepreneurial journey. This heartening one year has been all about working endless hours, trying to build a solution for both students and parents who find difficulty in enrolling to the right coaching institutes. We have also grown into a team of nine fun-loving go-getters working on revolutionising the Indian education sector. We have found support from angel investors, picking up three rounds of angel funding for our venture. Our product, which is both service plus enterprise technology, will be ready for market launch by end of September.
My life has been inspired from sports and it has played a big part in my life. I play all kind of sports and its an epitome of hard work and dedication. I can be characterised as one of those sore losers who doesn’t like to lose. I play to win and thats what I try to inculcate in my entire team, the qualities of a winner. Behind that winner, lies hours of practice, toil and sweat, a coach who pushes you beyond your limits but more than that you need to love that game. My favourite sportsperson is Lionel Messi and I dream of witnessing him score a hattrick in one an El-Classico. And yeah, about my ambition, I want to see my start-up listed on National Stock Exchange one day.
(Shivang is the founder of an Ed-tech startup named WeVectors where he provides both magnitude and direction to all the educational needs of Indian students. He visited Dialogues on a Sunday afternoon where in a brief conversation with a co-founder, he shared his love for sports and entrepreneurship.)