Cycling, martial arts, books, designing and entrepreneurship… youngsters’ hobbies range from the conventional to the unconventional. Vanshika Mohta talks to a few youngsters about their avocation.

The word ‘hobby’ originated from the old ‘hobby-horse’, a common name given by the English to their ponies, something the kids, who often played with their wooden toy versions, were fond of, and gradually evolved to mean a favourite pastime.

Hobbies are like the fingerprints of one’s desires and emotions. If you want to keep the zeal on, be it professional or personal, your hobby can supply your mind and self with the indispensible bouts of freshness it needs to keep going. If you have a hobby, realise it, pursue it and live it. It’s the true inner refuge from the cacophony of the outside.

Book worm

She was four when Shyamini Pillai, now a 26-year-old Chartered Accountant with Randstad in Chennai, discovered solace in books. A voracious reader, she is currently taking three books down simultaneously! She prefers anything from murder mysteries to chick-lit to mythology, by Indian or foreign writers in the electronic or paperback form, and picks books based on her mood. “I had crazy work timings during my Articleship days as a CA student, returning around one or two in the morning, and my friends would wonder how I’d still have the energy to stay up to read,” claims Shyamini, who cannot sleep without turning a few pages. She falls short of space here, but “back home, in Kochi, I could take you on a tour from wall to wall filled with rows of books. Don’t be surprised if you find some under the bed too,” she laughs! Inspired by words, she tried her hand at writing poetry and short stories when in her Std X, but doesn’t plan on pursuing that further. A die-hard shopping buff, she calls that her second love. No prizes for guessing which series by Sophie Kinsella she enjoys reading! “I relish spending my free time with family and friends. Otherwise, I’m a sports enthusiast and a gym-freak.”

Two tyre story

He juggles between tutorials, authoring books and being a part-time quizmaster, but forces himself to squeeze in space for his hobbies which include cycling, a lot of reading and watching movies/TV. With his own share of busy and not-so-busy periods,

Harsh Gagrani, 25, founder – LegalEdge Tutorials and author, from Bhopal makes a conscious effort to allot, however limited, time for cycling every day. “My hobby, for me, is much more than just a way to detach myself from my work for a certain amount of time. It acts as an amazing stress buster, it often instigates me to think out of the box and best of all — it often gives me a much -needed break from all the running around I do while I’m working,” he discloses.

He got his first cycle when he was 10 years old and would seize hours to catch a ride with his friends. Not surprisingly, cycles were replaced with other vehicles, but he managed to pick it up again after college and now, one can often find him rejoicing in a ride alone in one of Bhopal’s cycling clubs. Although he doesn’t go on regular expeditions, he grabs the opportunity if he can and declares that, “if my passion and interest for the same continue, and I manage to sneak in some more time from my work for cycling, I might think about going on long cycling trips.”

Sporty steal

In a profession which involves travelling for about 15-20 days of a month, Rahul Saraf, 26, Director, Kaizen Cold Formed Steel, manages to steal some time for sports, something which has stayed with him since school days. “I joined the Presidency Club a while back and mostly play badminton, golf and snooker. Cricket happens twice or thrice a week,” he recounts. “It’s been 10 years since I played my first badminton match and I developed a liking for it right away.”

Other than being a field for him to socialise and catch up with friends, it gives him a challenge to face and overcome.

He often participates in Inter-club or Intra-club tournaments when possible, peer groups being one of his primary motivating factors. “Playing gives me a different high altogether. It’s an amazing equalizer for all the ups and downs one faces in a normal day and is a productive way to vent one’s frustration,” he admits. He strives to be in shape and is also trying to get into a regular gym routine.

Happy feet

Roli Maheshwari joined her first dance class under Shiamak Davar’s when she was five and hasn’t left dancing since. “During family weddings, we never hire a choreographer and I prepare almost all the dance routines for the family functions.”

Operating her own business, this 23-year-old fashion designer from Delhi starts work at nine in the morning and goes on till seven in the evening. Busy seasons see her working into the wee hours of the night, but when she heard of belly dancing classes, she re-organised her schedule.

Having always wanted to learn dance, Roli steals three hours out of her work pattern, twice a week and has been managing comfortably for a year now. “The training is ardous and by the end of it, my stomach muscles ache so much, I have difficulty eating,” she accepts, “but if you can’t find time for your hobby, there’s no point in working hard elsewhere,” she believes. The satisfaction of learning something new keeps her going.

Take a stroll

She was one step away from pursuing an MBA when she decided that she didn’t want to study further and enjoyed something else much more. Having interned under a designer for six to nine months, Hasmeet Chawla, 23, Mumbai, started her own line of accessories – Get Accessorised —and has been working on her own for a year now. “I never concentrated much on classes and would end up sketching something or the other. But once I went to Stds XI and XII, I did not think about it again and got into the usual college procedures. It was only after I finished my graduation that I finally revived this hobby and managed to turn it into a profession,” she narrates.

She finds inspiration from nature, common objects, etc. If I have to take a break, I watch movies, go on my evening walks, or listen to music. Mostly of the times, I work for hours together with music in the background,” she says. Five-day long exhibitions and one in every two months are all part of this pursuit. “I bring out in images what people imagine in words and that gives me an inexplicable joy.”

Sporty sessions

While work is hectic through the week, respite comes on weekends for Sachin Agarwal, 23, doing his Articleship with Deloitte in Mumbai. “I love to meet with my friends, give out creative ideas, and have debates. All of us are from such different backgrounds that there’s a lot to learn. Three months ago, four of us launched a website, an online retail platform, on hearing about its market from of friends,” explains Sachin, who has been taking time out to work on the website for the past six months, and admits that the venture is less work and more fun.

With one-and-a-half hours per day for three days a week, the gym is his other haunt. “It’s a brilliant kick-start to my mornings and helps me overcome lethargy, making me more agile and energetic for the rest of the day. Moreover, the trend among my peers encourages me to keep going back even when I have not been regular,” he reveals. Saturday evenings are earmarked for football, cricket or volleyball and he also takes regular trekking trips with once the monsoon kicks in.

Gaming guru

“I come across a new challenge and experience a surprise every day. My speed, dexterity, strength have all enhanced,” articulates Nishant Shah, 23, Market Analyst, Chennai. He undergoes one and a half hours of intensive training in mixed martial arts, each day after work for five days a week and has been doing so for the past eight months. “When I was younger and I’d watch Karate kid or see people do cartwheel, I’d say to myself that I could never do all that. Now I’m actually doing much more! There are times when we’re just running, running like maniacs, or learning how to retaliate and roll out of a troubled situation,” he says, exhilarated.

The other two days of the week he returns to his hobby — video games. “Gaming has evolved from just jumping left and right and shooting to so much more.” To him, they are like short narratives, an experience not very different from reading a book or watching a movie, except that the story is in the player’s control. “I’m completely immersed in the characters; they transport me to a parallel universe. If I read about a great game online, I don’t mind staying up a few hours extra to try it out,” he confesses.

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