How many of us have the courage to follow our passion instead of opting for the safe route of taking up a regular job ?
Through this new column, we will share extraordinary stories of ordinary people who turned their passion into a profession: "In a past life, I used to make a living as a consultant, managing large projects," says Vandit Kalia in his blog.
In his present life, Kalia is a scuba diving instructor and founder of Dive India in Havelock, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Life ended, and then restarted when Kalia turned 30 in 2003.
"I was looking to do something different , and fell in love with the Andamans when I went there on a short diving holiday in 2000.
The following year, I took time off work and spent six months out of that year diving there.
I went back to work but kept thinking about the islands. Finally, I took the plunge and quit the corporate world and started a diving centre," he says.
Watching new people discover the underwater world — seeing them with big smiles on their faces when they come back to the surface — is a thrill that keeps Kalia going.
While at heart his passion remains the deep shipwrecks of the North Atlantic, underwater photography, especially of nudibranchs (sea slugs with extraordinary colours and striking forms), gives him the most pleasure these days.
But before he got to this, Dive India had a few bumps to wade. "As the first proper dive centre in the Andamans, it was a challenge convincing the administration that what we were doing was safe.
Attracting tourists to the Andamans was a big challenge owing to the limited connectivity, expensive flights and lack of proper facilities."