I now share the cubicle with Shruti Raj and the only way I know her presence is by the sound of the keypad as she types out content for the blogs and her tinkling laughter that will break the silence sometimes.
With a background in Communication and Photography, Shruti is the girl-next-door, who is sweet, humble, and updated on all the latest happenings like all young people ought to be. A writer and a photographer she tells us her story of how it all transpired though this was not her plan initially.
An Engineer by profession which I discovered whilst I was interviewing her, Shruti is a girl of many talents who seems to have finally found her calling in and around writing & photography.
Me: When did you discover your love for writing?
Shruti: Soon after my fashion designing course (laughs) which came by after I finished my Engineering degree in Computer Science. Fashion also happened by chance when I won a jewellery design competition organised by one of the prominent jewellers of the region which made my parents and friends feel that I should give design a serious thought.
Me: Wait a minute, are you telling me that you are an Engineer?
Shruti: I guess it was just a wrong choice of career. I had scored the maximum in languages for my board exams, but I guess because of peer pressure I took up Mathematics and eventually went for Engineering. I did not enjoy the classes or the course nor did I feel the inclination towards engineering or fashion whilst doing the course, but I wanted to finish what I had started.
Me: So how did writing happen?
Shruti: I was looking for jobs in the industry after Fashion and I was also writing my own blog at that time. Not professional writing, but more of a hobby where I used to post pictures and recipes of what I used to cook at home.
Me: And how did it turn into a profession?
Shruti: A family friend who was the CEO of a culinary school in Bangalore knew about my blog and offered me an internship for writing content for their website and blog while I was on the lookout for other opportunities.
I quite enjoyed the 3 months that I was interning there and learnt a lot on the nuances of fine writing while on the job. Those initial 3 months turned to three years and I was finally into the profession of writing which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Me: When and how did the photography happen?
Shruti: At the same time as I was interning, I also started with food photography at the workplace. I was already taking food pictures for the blog using my phone, trying out different angles and the likes. My brother who is a professional filmmaker noticed this and encouraged me to learn more and bought me my first camera with which I could shoot decent pictures.
Me: Tell us something about your passion for food photography
Shruti: Food photography is something that I love to do more than anything else. I could say it’s my first love. I am more of a self-taught food photographer although I have learned my basics from Bangalore School of Arts & Photography. I like to experiment a lot with food when it comes to capturing it in a perfect frame and that’s why I cook or bake the food myself that I want to get photographed for my portfolio. I love cooking/baking, so food photography and styling is no coincidence and just so happened to be a perfect combination to work around. It was all a natural flow of creativity that I realized much later.
Me: What’s mightier – the pen or the camera?
Shruti: I would say it is definitely the camera.
Me: And why would you say that?
Shruti: Because pictures are something that makes me write. When you take a picture you’re capturing the essence of that moment which is not that easy to explain in words. Also, appreciating an interesting piece of write up is not everyone’s cup of tea, you need good readers for that but when it comes to a picture anyone can enjoy and feel the message in it. Pictures do speak better than words can convey.
Me: What’s the most fun part of your job at ICCA?
Shruti: I work around food!!
And since ICCA is a world class culinary school I also get to learn new things every day. I am now experimenting with videography, something that I have never done before and it is quite exciting.
Me: You hail from God’s own country. What is it about your home that you miss the most?
Shruti: I miss the simplicity of the place which is a stark contrast from the dazzle of Dubai, and definitely the food. We do have a lot of Keralites living here so there are a lot of food joints also that serve the local food, but the authenticity just does not come through and down the line, you will lose the connection with that food when you go back home.
Me: How do you lose that connection when you go back home?
Shruti: I mean here you get mostly everything anytime of the year which sometimes would not be even in season in Kerala. First of all, it is not healthy to have something that is not in season and secondly, that particular food won’t be special to you anymore no matter from where you’re having it from.
Me: Organic Farming.. I remember you talking about it once. Have you ever given it a serious thought?
Shruti: Organic farming was something that my father took interest in post his retirement. We have a backyard in our home where he started organic farming mainly because at home we all believe in clean eating and my parents go the extra mile to have organic fresh produce. So he started organic farming as a hobby which still is, but since the quantity of produce is more than what we need for our use we sell the rest to an organic shop close to our house who source their food stock from homes that grow things locally.
At the moment it is at a very small scale as my father is happy with the way things are and does not want to burden himself much with a mass scale production, but probably I will take it up when I decide to go back to India.
Me: So I am guessing that’s your future plan is?
Shruti: I could say it is one of my plans, but as I am a creative person, I would love to do something that connects all my passions- food, photography, writing, styling and filming, all together in one project. I do not know what it is yet but I am sure I will figure that out soon.