From Code to Camera: The Journey of Ayan Biswas from Oracle Engineer to Ladakh Artist

Ayan Biswas Oracle Engineer

Likir, Ladakh — In February 2020, Ayan Biswas, a software developer from Bengaluru, embarked on a two-week holiday to Ladakh. Little did he know that this trip would be the beginning of a new chapter in his life, one that would see him leave his corporate job and embrace a life of creativity and simplicity in one of India’s most remote regions.

At 36, Biswas had spent nearly seven years working with Oracle, with five years based in Bengaluru and two years in Ladakh. However, in May 2024, he decided to quit his job to pursue his passion for photography and teaching analog printing in the village of Likir.

“I was in Likir right before the Covid lockdown was announced in February. And when the last flights were announced before the lockdown, I chose to stay here,” Biswas shared with Moneycontrol. His previous experiences in Ladakh as an art teacher made the decision to remain in the village a comfortable one. With several unused leaves from work, he decided to ride out the lockdown in Likir.

During the initial phase of the lockdown, Biswas stayed in a homestay and even assisted the owners in constructing a single-storey house, maintaining isolation from other villagers. As the lockdown extended, Biswas spoke with his manager at Oracle, who supported his decision to work remotely until he resigned.

“I didn’t quit because they were calling me back to the office,” Biswas explained. “In fact, my manager and the company’s director encouraged my creative ventures and would have extended the work-from-home arrangement. They also supported a healthy work-life balance. I quit because I did not want to live that dual life anymore. Coding in the morning and making art in the evening.”

Biswas’s passion for art was not new. In Bengaluru, he was involved with a theatre group, creating and painting backdrops. In Ladakh, he balanced his software engineering job with teaching analog printing and photography, helping local farmers, and earning an annual salary of Rs 14 lakh. He even built a temporary home on land belonging to the homestay owner, with help from fellow villagers.

Dah Kargil
Dah, Kargil (Image/ Ayan Biswas)

As he continued to immerse himself in the local community and his artistic pursuits, Biswas realized it was time to fully commit to his passion. “After I began to take making art seriously, I realized that it wasn’t just what I made, it was also a way of life,” Biswas said. “I can’t compartmentalize it and think about it only in the evenings or on weekends. And if my heart wasn’t in the job then I was also doing a disservice to my company which had been so good to me.”

Since quitting his job, Biswas has taken on various photography projects, including documenting the Sa-Ladakh contemporary land art group festival earlier in June, which earned him Rs 35,000. Living a simple life in Likir, he manages his expenses with just Rs 10,000 a month and feels confident about his decision.

“It’s just been a month since I quit and so far there has been a steady flow of photography and a few other related projects, so I am not worried about the money now, but I think I can make this work,” Biswas said. “When I said I wanted to live like how full-time artists do, I meant the hard parts of it too. So in case opportunities dry up, I will work through it, but I don’t think I am ever taking up a 9-5 job again.”

As Ayan Biswas continues his journey, he exemplifies the courage to follow one’s passion and redefine success, embracing a life that blends creativity, simplicity, and community in the serene landscapes of Ladakh.