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New ways to work
Look ma, I tweet for a living. . . That would've been unheard of a decade ago. But in today's new-age and consumer-driven job market, anything is possible. TOI-Crest takes a look at some new job options.
POM POMS WITH PAY
Thanks to IPL's cricktainment format, there's money on the field - and on the sidelines. So you think you can cheer?
When Ananya Bera and Sunanda Hiroo were selected as cheerleaders for Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders in 2009 on a nationally televised show, Knights & Angels, a new career option opened up for dancers and models in India.
Critics of the glitzy new Indian Premier League format may say that it has reduced cricket to a tamasha but there's no denying that it has brought US-style cheerleading to India. Watching lithe girls in short skirts and bikini tops jump, swivel and pirouette with poms poms was the reason many people thronged the stadium. Well, at least, the seats closer to the fence anyway.
And while the first few seasons were dominated by blue-eyed blondes, teams like Pune Warriors India and KKR have introduced some Indian faces. Pune even went for sari-clad cheerleaders who do traditional steps rather than splits.
So what does one need to become a cheerleader? According to Atul Shrivastava, director of Augustus Communications, the company that procures cheerleaders and handles logistics for teams like Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab, one must be physically fit and extremely flexible to do the high-energy routines. But unlike the US, desi cheerleaders don't have to do acrobatics. "Cheerleading is not just about dancing or jumping around. One must be able to emote and motivate the team, " Shrivastava says.
Professional cheerleaders from countries like Kazakhstan, Ukraine and South Africa are usually trained dancers or gymnasts and the same yardstick is applied here. Indian dance schools are increasingly becoming nurseries for wannable IPL cheerleaders. Veteran danseuse Tanushree Shanker was a consultant for Pune's cheer queens.
Opportunities for cheerleaders range from IPL matches to hockey league matches. Some even get to perform at big-ticket events such as the Olympic Games, like Delhi Daredevils cheerleaders Tanya Ignaci and Yulia Chopoydalo did at Beijing. Tanya, who hails from Kiev in Ukraine, was a cheerleader at the Beijing Games in 2008.
The primary lure of the job is the chance to see the world, and be paid for it too. Interestingly, this is one profession where expats get paid less than their Indian counterparts.
"I love travelling and cheerleading is a profession in which I can explore different places. It also lets you interact with different people, " says Tanya, who cheered for the Delhi Daredevils.
Dancing for up to four hours in temperatures of over 40 degrees in outfits that are designed more for prudish Indian tastes than the summer can be a lot of hard work but the girls have to keep smiling. Thankfully for the KKR girls, their apsara costume with puffed sleeves was so heavily criticised that it was jettisoned in favour of a one-shoulder dress with leggings.
If Indians were earlier opposed to the idea of dancing in public, attitudes now have become far more liberal. "Many people have become positive, " Shrivastava remarks.
The change in attitude has been noticed by foreign cheerleaders who were described as "vulgar", "walking porn" and "frivolous eye candy". Says Yulia, who was a fixture at all DD matches: "People are slowly becoming aware of what cheerleading entails. I think it should also be used in other sports in India like football and volleyball. "
- Ruhi Batra
Wooing is an art and there are experts who teach you how to do it effectively
I have been slapped, kicked, told to f** k off, have had drinks thrown at my face, almost arrested by the police and rejected by many women.
I am surrounded by beautiful women every day.
Shiva's CV would have been a joke ten years ago. But now that Indians are dating - yes, even in satellite towns - Shiva has found a career and fortune doling out romantic advice.
A much sought-after dating and seduction coach, Shiva conducts workshops in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi where he teaches men a "system" that covers everything from how to approach a woman and get her phone number to rocking her world in the bedroom.
When Shiva set up the Real Man Academy seven years ago, few would turn up at his workshops. Now, he says he gets so many requests that he has put a strict upper limit of 18 persons per session. Vicky Kalwani, a New Yorkreturned financial consultant who started offering his services as a dating consultant in Mumbai last year, has also seen a rise in demand for his services.
The trainers feel their need will only increase with time. "More than 50 per cent of men suffer from approach anxiety, " says Kalwani. Shiva agrees. "It's true that there is more mingling between the sexes than before. But mingling isn't enough to create attraction, " he says. "Besides, today's woman is independent. She does not simply accept a guy with a good job. She wants to be attracted to him. "
The love gurus make a neat sum for the gyaan they impart. While Shiva's workshop and bootcamp cost Rs 8, 800 and Rs 18, 000 respectively, Kalwani's one-week theory course is priced at Rs 12, 000 and the fee for the month-long practical training, which includes a makeover, is Rs 35, 000.
Life as a dating coach has its perks. Shiva and Kalwani often "work" in bars and coffee shops, rather than in dull and boring offices.
Even beer guzzling Brits apparently need Kalwani's help as he travels to London for sessions these days. He has also started a 'VIP lifestyle consultancy' wherein he helps individuals live the high life with style, be it attending the Oscars or going on exotic vacations.
- Neha Bhayana
India's growing fascination with skyscrapers has opened windows of opportunity for professional washing companies
How else would you describe an urban landscape but as a forest of shiny steeland-glass skyscrapers? All of which need cleaning. Whether it's India's millennium city Gurgaon or silicon capital Bangalore, the number of skyscrapers - and the companies competing to keep them clean - has exploded.
Window washing doesn't require any specific qualifications. However, the absence of vertigo and the presence of significant muscle strength are, literally speaking, key to hanging in there. The pros: the best view of the city. The cons: not much time to take it in. And despite having altitude it doesn't really provide upward mobility like it did for Milan Kundera's protagonist Tomas in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (who found that a window-cleaning job offered him endless opportunities for womanising).
Seven years ago, Samir Khan, started what is today one of the oldest window washing companies in the business. According to Khan, managing director of Mumbai-based Window Washers, "The people we hire for the job have to go through training after which they apprentice with our more experienced employees. Then we get them to start with the low buildings. " The average salary is Rs 15, 000-16, 000 a month.
Although the business continues to grow, Window Washers and the like are faced with a new challenge: retaining employees. Once they learn the trade, most window-washers buy their own kit that costs around Rs 35, 000-40, 000 and go solo. Going solo means individual assignments and undoubtedly higher earnings, but it also means greater risk, points out Khan.
"These workers don't realise the dangers of going on their own. In addition to lacking the requisite safety equipment (such as double harnesses ), they're also not insured against any untoward incidents. So they don't have the benefits of schemes such as Employees' State Insurance Scheme of India (ESIC), " says Khan.
But even the fear of an accident doesn't stop the workers who do daily battle with the effects of the city's notorious pollution on its shiny surfaces.
- Gitanjali Dang
YouToo can make money
YouTube's video stars are making money from their hobbies
When Kandivali-based homemaker Gayatri Vantillu logs on to YouTube, she's bombarded with messages from Indian students living away from home, bachelors and newly weds who want to know the nitty gritties of Andhra cooking.
"They are fans who watch my recipes and have queries or requests which I like to address, " she says. Vantillu, 44, who owns and operates her own channel on YouTube, has found a recipe for success. She is one of the over 1, 000 Indians who make money from running a YouTube channel.
Last year, YouTube launched its partner programme in India, allowing popular indie content creators to make money by placing advertisements within and around their channels. Today, this group of video stars consists of a mixed bag of hobbyists demoing their skills online. While for some the earnings are a few thousand rupees a month, there are others who are raking in a tidy sum.
"It isn't as easy as it looks, " says Vantillu who makes about Rs 40, 000 per month. She takes about 250 photographs for every recipe and then spends hours on the computer editing and captioning them.
And her efforts have paid off with her Andhra recipe channel garnering a subscriber base of 4, 333 and 7, 548, 732 views.
Another professional vlogger is 21-year-old Shivam Choudhary. The Ahemadabad-based gadget lover operates two tech review channels - 'itouchfiendsdotcom' and 'iTFiends' - both of which have received a substantial number of views.
"My channels get about 15, 000 views a day, enough to make me about $15 a day, " he says. "I use a Canon 7D camera to film myself in a studio I set up in my house after which I edit the footage using iMovie and FCPx. "
Twenty-somethings Sonal Sagaraya and Rishabh Shah started uploading makeup tutorials onto the video-sharing site after reading about the partner programme.
"We started with about $50 dollars a month and then our earnings increased because we started getting more views, " says Shah. The duo even started their own company, and named it Hello Tubers.
"We now script, shoot and edit videos for our channel fulltime. Our parents were a little apprehensive in the beginning but now they're happy we're doing something we enjoy and making money too, " says Sagaraya.
And while professional YouTubers are a young tribe in India, the career option has been a viable choice in the international market for a while now.
YouTube video stars such as comedian Ray William Johnson and makeup guru Michelle Phan - whose annual estimated earnings on YouTube are north of one million dollars - have inspired many in India.
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