News on Sunday

Saleem Rajaballee, teacher and amateur artist : building a career out of own interests 

Is it possible to capitalize on your passion on a part-time basis while exercising your profession? Certainly, it is. Meet Saleem Rajaballee, a young biology teacher who has studied painting on his own and makes money out of this new found passion. 

Saleem Rajaballee, 31, has been teaching science at the Labourdonnais College at Vallée des Prêtres for two years. He returned from Canada, where he worked as a micro-biologist in a food safety company for seven years. Returning to his homeland after many years, Saleem Rajaballee found it shocking that Mauritians do not really appreciate artistic talents. “In Canada, people who do not have much academic training still earn a lot of money because artistic creations are valued and therefore, well paid,” explains the young teacher.

Saleem Rajaballee

On an average, he sells one or two paintings per week, which he finds lucrative. He does not proclaim to be great artist but is delighted that he studied this art on his own. “I did not opt for art as a subject at school or the university, but painting has always fascinated me. For me, painting pictures is a way of giving a message to people without telling them a word,” he says. Saleem is very impressed by the French painter Claude Monet. Inspired by the latter, he decided to put up paintings that highlight nature and the environment.

The beauty of Mauritius

After returning to Mauritius two years ago, Saleem was amazed by the beauty of Mauritius. Living in a foreign country, he adds, gives people the opportunity to take a fresh look at their own country. “Looking back at the landscapes of Mauritius, I realised that my country is full of breathtaking sceneries and that encouraged me to reproduce these landscapes on canvas,” he declares. This is how he turned painting into a passion. Since then, he has adapted his schedule so that he can indulge in this new hobby. However, for nothing in the world, will painting take over his teaching profession. For him, teaching with honour, conscience and ethics is worth more than any other business. The secret, in his opinion, is to plan his schedule well, because in addition to painting, the young teacher is a lover of football and bodybuilding.

Saleem Rajaballee

Respect the environment

His paintings are exhibited at Didus Art Gallery at Caudan. His main customers are tourists who buy his masterpieces as souvenirs of Mauritius. His canvases capture the beautiful landscapes of Mauritius, especially that of Le Morne Brabant, the seafront of Mahebourg and Le Coin de Mire. “I always try to show, through my paintings, the importance of keeping our environment clean,” he says. However, he deplores the fact that a handful of Mauritians continue to pollute the beautiful landscapes of their country with tons of garbage. He laments that there is so much disrespect for the environment, which is unpatriotic,” he declares indignantly. In other countries he has visited, he has not seen such behaviour because people are conscious of the importance of preserving their environment. For this reason, as a teacher, he instructs his students at school on waste recycling projects. He has initiated projects for his classes to transform waste into compost for the school garden.

Exhibition in 2019

By the end of this year, Saleem Rajabally plans to organise his own exhibition. Although he is aware of the fierce competition that awaits him, he is not disheartened. He believes that his strengths reside in his creativity and originality. Moreover, he intends to sell his paintings to foreigners and Mauritians who are settled abroad. Readers will be able to consult his Facebook page entitled “Mauritius Canvas Paintings” to see more of his paintings. His advice to young people: Discover your talent and build a source of income out of it.

Advice on managing a sideline business

  1. Be ready to give up some of your personal time associated with TV and Smartphone use. Be sure the sacrifices are worth it, or both your job and your business will suffer.
  2. Be honest when you choose what you want to do as a sideline business. It is preferable that you opt for something that is not related to your main job so that your company will not blame you for taking their work. In many cases, it’s best to be upfront with your boss about your sideline business. As long as it doesn’t interfere with your job, the boss won’t mind. 
  3. Look out for long-term customers that can bring you recurring income. This will reduce the pressure on you to always bring new clients.
  4.  Working on a sideline business does not mean you must neglect your family. Everyone has the same 24 hours from which you must allocate time to your priorities. 

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