Narrative by Vilasini Kumar.
Suresh Singh, Manager, PPT Services in Chillibreeze is from the beautiful State of Manipur. As a youth, he spent his days in the rice fields of his hometown Kakching, surrounded by beautiful hills. But after he got his degree in Fine Arts, he had to search for a job outside Manipur, as he did not have enough opportunities back home.
He shares his real-life story about his family, his dreams and what brought him to Shillong.
My hometown Abounds in Natural Beauty
I was born and brought up in a small town called Kakching in the State of Manipur.
All my family members stay together in the same compound. My father is not well, and so he remains at home while my mother earns a livelihood by selling cosmetics in the town market of Kakching. I have a younger brother who is working in the Manipur Police Department. He too is married.
The town of Kakching is just 70 Kms from the border of our neighboring country Myanmar.
|Natural beauty abounds in my hometown Kakching. I recall my childhood with nostalgia. Paddy fields and hills surround Kakching. My family house is on the banks of a river called Sekmai. As a young boy, I played and fished there a lot!|
Let me tell you a bit more about Kakching. It is referred to as the granary of Manipur as it produces plenty of food grains. Nowadays it is a popular tourist destination, but while I was growing up it was but a lovely small town! Interestingly it is a center for Indian Classical Music too.
I did my schooling in the Kakching Higher Secondary School.
Graduated in Fine Arts
After passing High School, I moved to Imphal, the capital of Manipur, to pursue higher studies. I stayed there and went to the ‘Imphal Art College’ and got a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the year 2007, specializing in Sculpture.
My passion was Photography. I used to dream of becoming a professional photographer. In fact, I used to buy expensive magazines to learn more about photography. This continues to be a dream of mine–to become good at photography!
Not many Job Opportunities
I had a degree, but finding a job was not easy. There are four types of job opportunities in Kakching. These are government jobs, running a business, working in an NGO or cultivation. All jobs available are towards the agricultural mainstream.
I did not see many job opportunities related to what I had studied, so I decided to go outside the state of Manipur to earn my livelihood. I was young and did not have much idea of what I could do. Fortunately, two friends of mine, Nimai, and Premjit invited me to come to Shillong. The best part was that they were working in Chillibreeze! This proved to be a very lucky break for me!
Moved to Shillong and Joined Chillibreeze
I moved to the Shillong, in the State of Meghalaya, accepting the invite from my friends. This was a major move for me, to go to another State though it was just the neighboring one. As you know there are seven states in the North East part of India and they are often referred to as the seven sisters; Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Assam, Tripura, and Nagaland. (See map)
Before I tried for a job in Chillibreeze, I did a short-term course in Computers.
I was called for an interview to Chillibreeze. Founder Director of Chillibreeze, Joanna Budelman, herself interviewed me, and this was on 24th September 2007! Yes, I remember the date very well. I showed her my portfolio, which had photographs of all the artwork that I had done in college.
I was invited to join Chillibreeze that very day. I was overjoyed, yet nervous. I joined the SketchUp services team. It was not easy for me. I needed a positive attitude and used my creative skills well to meet the expectations.
Honestly, I wanted to study further, to do my Masters in Fine Arts! And, I wanted to work, save money and then pursue further studies. But once I settled into the job in Chillibreeze, I did not want to leave as my responsibilities towards my family had increased. So, I dropped the idea of a Master’s degree. Now I can say with certainty that I will continue to work in Chillibreeze and make my future here! I see a lot of opportunities for growth here in Chillibreeze.
Shillong is my home now
I now consider Shillong my home. I got married in November 2009 to Prabha, from Kakching and we moved to Shillong soon after and had settled down well here.
Prabha and I were classmates in high school, and our families knew each well. The youngest of six siblings, she is a graduate in Fine Arts too. Here is a photo from our wedding.
Neither of us speaks Khasi, the local language, but manage in Hindi and English. Our son Anmol who will start school soon will learn and maybe teach us the language! Here he is on his third birthday
I do not have too many friends here as there is hardly any time to socialize. I leave home at 8.30 in the morning and return only at 8 or so at night! On Sundays, we go out as a family to a park and play with Anmol. We have excellent neighbors and so I do not miss home. Colleagues at Chillibreeze are like friends and family to me too.
Shillong is an expensive city. The cost of living has been on the rise. I moved to a different house so that I could save on rent, but this meant I had to travel a long distance to come to work. But thanks to my job at Chillibreeze I have bought myself a Motorbike. My father gave me some money to purchase it, but the major part came from my savings.
My parents are thrilled that I have a steady job. They have visited me in Shillong. When I get a chance to go home, I spent quality time with them and took good care of them. Chillibreeze lives up to its Mission. I am an example of how Chillibreeze has provided purpose in my life and has added value to my family and me!