‘I love being the CEO of my life’Sharmila Ail
Travel liberated Chayanika Moulik from the Monday blues, setting her off on the #PassiontoPaycheck quest.
Armed with a Masters degree in English and an advanced diploma in Commercial Art, Chayanika Moulik was doing well for herself in digital marketing and advertising.
All that changed in 2013, when she travelled to Singapore, fulfilling her childhood dream of visiting the Jurong Bird Park. Watching the spectacular avian display, it hit her that exploring new places, trying out local cuisines, meeting different people were what made her happy. She was well and truly bitten by the travel bug. “From then on, travel became a necessity. Each time I was stressed at work, I would start reading up about a new place and book my next trip.”
Soon, knowing her penchant for travel and as a repository of travel data, friends and colleagues started reaching out to her to plan their weekend getaways. She ended up becoming their go-to person for curating their itineraries. In 2015 she and her friend Tarun (now her husband) started a travel blog, gnawmadic.com. “Initially, he would take care of the photography and I would write. But due to his busy work schedule, he found it difficult to take leave. It was he who taught me the technicalities of using the camera. To brush up my skills in photography, I went on a few photo walks and photo trips to places like Hampi, Varanasi, Kerala, Pondicherry and Ladakh.”
Taking the plunge
And so, every month, Chayanika began to travel to new places. But, again, asking for leave was a bother. And so to pursue her passion for travel and photography, she decided to strike out on her own and freelance her design projects. “I quit my full-time job in 2016. It was a huge risk, but I attended a few travel meet-ups, and met a lot of travel writers and digital nomads before making the final move. I realised most of them have no liabilities; they don’t have any rents and loans to pay off. During my nine years of work, I had some savings. Moreover, I had never aspired to climb the corporate ladder. My ambition in life was to travel the world and find a bit of myself with every new place I explored.”
Quitting a good job comes with its fair share of challenges. “I know that I have to fall back on my savings as there is no money coming to my account at the end of the month. Freelance projects are variable and hard to come by. A few lifestyle changes became necessary and I willingly did so.
Today, I meet friends over coffee instead of drinks. I have swapped my luxury brand of toiletries with an Indian brand.
I have stopped shopping at malls: instead, I shop online [for bargains].
I do not go to ticketed events unless I get a free pass. And I have put the Europe trip on the backburner and am sticking to South Asia only.”
Her main challenge now is to reach the right audience with her blog stories. She not only wants people to read her blogs but also wants to inspire them to travel and embrace new adventures. And so she continues working on the write-ups and microblogs on Instagram.
Today, Chayanika has charted a happy space for herself, personally and professionally. The best part, she says, is that no one can make her feel guilty about having too much fun. “I don’t report to anybody so I am very flexible with my schedule. Some days I design all day and on other days I attend four or five travel or photography events. I do not suffer the dreaded Monday blues anymore. I backpack anytime that suits me.”
She believes in the quote, ‘No plan is the best plan’ “Nothing in life is permanent and I may someday go back to designing and park myself on an office chair again. But right now, I love my life of food and travel; I love writing my blogs and absolutely love it when someone addresses me as Gnawmadic. I call myself its Co-Founder and, most of all, I love being the CEO of my life. And for that, I do not need a promotion paper or any kind of official validation.”