It was 2008 and I was doing work for Power Utility Company in Kolkata - It had been a hard day with the directors of the company. By the time I reached the hotel, it was 2130 hours. I had barely entered my room and was about to kick off my high heels to settle into a wind down when I received a call on my phone from a very dear friend K S Radhakrishnan - the renowned sculptor known for his amazing works in bronze.
He told me that he was in Kolkata as well and wanted to meet with me. I started to say that I was tired, and could I take a rain check - but something in his voice made me stop. I agreed to meet him in the lobby of the hotel. In twenty minutes - I found myself with Radha in an old Kolkata Ambassador cab. He told the cab driver to take us to Birla Mandir. We were meeting after a long time and kept talking about this and that during the ride. When we reached Birla Mandir, he asked me to get out from the cab because he wanted to show me something. Reluctantly I walked out of the car and followed Radha - I could not for the life of me, figure out what he wanted to show me. I thought it may be the temple from some unique angle. I kept walking looking towards the temple and suddenly found myself bumping into Radha, who had stopped in his tracks. He was not looking at the temple - he was pointing to a large billboard - with his photograph on it - advertising his exhibition in Kolkata. There was so much of excitement that he was generating that it was infectious.
Photo credit Tashi Tobgyal
Having graduated from Shantiniketan, he said he had started his life as a sculptor at Gariahat. For him, seeing a billboard with his works and face on it, was the best homecoming he could get.
We found our way to a coffee shop and started talking about his struggles in his early days. He said it was extremely difficult for him since he had no money to buy bronze and he was sure that he was going to be a sculptor in bronze. He explained how a painter would have it so much easier because the raw materials that went into his creation were easily and abundantly available. He went on to talk about how he tried all kinds of jobs to fuel his desire to work in bronze. Listening to his stories of penury, I asked him, "Why did you never give up being a sculptor and take up something else?" Radha just stopped talking and looked at me disbelievingly. After a few moments of eloquent silence, he said, "There was nothing else I ever wanted to be. Being something else was inconceivable. I was going to live my passion come what may!".
I was humbled and we drank our coffee in silence. I felt privileged to be sitting next to a great artist who, much like his sculptures, had been born out of the white heat foundry. Only in his case it was one of deep passion and single-minded determination. After we finished our coffee, we spent the early hours of the morning looking at all the other billboards sprinkled across the city.
Thinking back on this incident always makes me alive to the power that passion has in achieving your purpose. In our careers, we lose our passion and start focusing on the transactional things. We become jaded and "practical" where we focus on what can be and what will never be. Great things don’t happen overnight – things become great by focusing on them night after night with purpose and passion. Do we, as professionals, find a larger purpose in our lives and then do we pursue that with an unrelenting passion or do we just become one of the minions? It is the magic of passion and purpose together that drives lifelong success. You may ask what is success – now that is feed for another blog.
To know more about K S Radhakrishnan and his art work, please visit - http://www.ksradhakrishnan.com/