By Nidhi Sharma
I had an (almost) ideal life – a loving family, a happening social circle, a job that I loved (not to forget the pretty lil fat cheque at the end of every month) and the ability to pack my bags and travel anytime I wanted. Even with all this and much more, I wanted to do something of my own. I battled for almost 2 years with the thought of quitting my job. I did not have an exact plan but I knew I wanted to be in the hills.
A digital marketer by profession, I was bitten by the travel bug when I was 18 years old. My Mother had gifted me an envelope that had to and fro rail tickets to Gujarat. I had studied in a boarding school in Gujarat and was more than happy thinking about the reunion with my girlfriends who were still there in Ahmedabad and Anand. I was travelling alone but being backed up both morally and financially by my mother, I was a bit relaxed. That trip was where I first experienced the urge to say, ‘I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.” There was no looking back post this! I was falling in love with the idea of picking up the bag and leaving for the unknown! The travel experiences started becoming a reminder of human insignificance and frailty. I was most particularly in love with Himachal Pradesh. The landscape, the culture and the people over a period of time had become a special part of my life.
I left my job in November 2017, packed my bags and left for the hills. My plan was to simply travel and figure out possibilities of setting up my own venture in the hills. Initially, the mere thought of leaving the comfort zone gave me the chills and to that, the fact that I had no major savings! An absolute horror! But as the saying goes, “dreams don’t work unless you do”, I knew I will have to let go of my comfort zone to achieve what I wanted.
I found a perfect home away from home in the vibrant town of Manali. It took me 6 months and a whole of chaos to finally start my Cafe. It’s said that dreams don’t have an expiration date and the Cafe is an example of the same. Like any startup, of course, I faced a lot of obstacles (I knew almost nobody here, I had no background of hotel management) – the way of working was completely different and it was difficult to adjust to all of it. Being a woman entrepreneur has been one hell of a ride. From the hardware shop to the gardener to masons to bankers – I have seen the surprised look on all of them (and so many more). They simply couldn’t believe that I am here to get my Cafe started. My mantra has always been, “if you want it, work for it.”
I have received so many messages from people saying they envy my life (life in the hills is so much better), that they are dying to quit their job etc. But here’s the harsh truth – life in the hills isn’t rosy. It is difficult, harsh and lonely sometimes. When you travel to the hills, you stay at a hotel, eat at a cafe, you almost miss the point – the difficulty and cost of getting all that comfort to you. I remember waiting for ration for days, waiting for workers to show up for weeks and waiting for so many things because “saaman Delhi se aayega!”
I have felt lost and lonely, I have cried myself to sleep and I have had a feeling to leave it all and go back to that nicely made fluffy bed of mine at home. But life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Today, when I look back, I feel extremely glad and proud of the fact that I did not give up. And I have to thank my friends and family for that. They were the support structure that helped me survive the worst and gave me the courage and strength to fight for my dreams.
I hope that my story inspires you to work for your dreams and make it happen!