Homepreneur @ 70+ : Meet Sri.Ramana Prasad – Translator, Editor, Writer

Howzzat for those of us (so called youngsters) who feel burnt out by the time we touch 40's …

Sri.Ramana Prasad has had a fulfilling career as lecturer of History and Politics @ The Thiagarajar College, Madurai; Senior Teacher in History in reputed Hr.Sec.Schools in Madurai and Kodaikanal and retired as Principal, CSR Mat.School, Tirunagar, Madurai in 1998. During this time, he had translated text books for PUC History, B.A., Politics and History from English to Tamil. Post retirement, he was working as editor for Medical Transcription Agency and subsequently took up Editing, Writing and translating works.

Most often, soon after retirement people want to relax (read, disconnect from any kind of work). How is it that you are still at work 😉 ?

It is true that many people want to relax after retirement. But unless one has good hobbies or take up to some useful activities like social service, it becomes very boring for them to occupy their time with. For those who are obliged to do hard physical work, retirement is, of course, a relief. But for those engaged in mental activities throughout the life, it would be monotony unless they find some useful occupation during their retirement. As an academician, therefore, it is not a burden at all to carry on intellectual activities. Also the novelty of doing work through computer fascinated me.

Now, here is someone who has mastered ‘technology’ (read learning to work with computers) post retirement just for the fun of it. That’s “Learning for learning sake”. How many of us can aspire to be so much self-motivated past 60.. is a point to ponder. ~ D

How did the transition take place from teaching to translation?

It was not such a transition. Even during my regular career, I had translated a number of works and it is just a full time continuation of the same activity. Also, I am not exclusively doing translation work. Writing, editing, etc. are also there so it was not a difficult transition.

hmm.. a salable skill put to use at the right time. We too do lot of ‘other’ work (in addition to office-work), but rarely do we realise that it can be used / marketed as a saleable skill. Time to take a closer look at the things we do. We would surprise ourselves. ~ D

In India, freelancing is not a career choice, let alone post-retirement. How is it that you actually started on freelancing from home. Can you please share an anecdote.

You know that we are having these online facilities only for the last 10 to 12 years. It just coincided with my retirement. Though I could have taken up full or part-time teaching work, this attracted me because I had done enough vocal work for years! And sitting in home, doing work according to our own convenience had an added charm!

It so happened that a friend of mine asked me whether I would be interested in regular translation into Tamil for a website. It suited me well and in a couple of months I mastered Tamil Typing as well. Thereafter it was more a pleasure than an ardours work because for years I had translated the works by writing only! From that time I began to pick up other works and was able to keep myself as much occupied as I wanted to.

An unconventional choice by chance. I sincerely wish my readers will also get this privilege sooner than they expect. ~D

Please share information on the skills required & level of expertise to pursue a career in translation.

In my case, as I had taught at the degree level both in English and Tamil, I had acquired enough skill in quick translation. However, for those who are new to the field, it would take some time to get acquainted with the art and science of translation.

One has to read good books in English and Tamil (or the languages into which translations are to be done) so that a diction is unconsciously developed by oneself. So, hard work has to come. Of course, for technical words in many fields like medicine, engineering etc. at present we have a number of websites suggesting words. It is a question of persisting with gaining knowledge..

‘smack !!’ That was my english teacher for not coming prepared for the weekly reading exercise . If only I knew.... ~D

How much does a translation expert stand to earn, over time?

If one wants to take this up as a full-time career, one can earn as much Rs.40,000 to Rs.50,000. But to achieve this one has to have the capacity to translate between 2500 and 3500 words per day. It all depends upon the area of specialisation, aptitude and willingness to work. One thing is certain. One can earn a reasonable income sitting in the cosy atmosphere of the home!

Let us not get carried away by the numbers... but yes... remember them. Reach for the sky, you will certainly grab a few stars. ~D

Can you share some resources for translation & translation based jobs for aspiring homeprenuers?

Personally I would suggest that the translator takes up on his own some standard authors’ work and refine his talent. Initially if would be tiresome, like people acquiring systematic reading habit. But one has to have a willingness to learn, work and do things perfectly. There are no magic formulas. Homeprenuers should not fight shy of constant reading and writing.

Read.. Assimilate.. Associate.. Articulate... Read Again !!! ~D

Would you recommend some trusted translation agencies / contacts that our readers can get in touch ?

There are many agencies. Cosmic Globe in Chennai comes to my mind as the first choice as it treats the translators with great respect. There are others and one can easily register with the number of agencies and get regular work.

Few other friends have suggested Translatorscafe. It is always better to exercise due diligence and caution. (I don't mean to scare you.. just be on guard) ~D

An experienced freelancer demands funds (or at least a % of it ) upfront before commencing work. First time freelancers do not have this choice and are constantly bugged by non payment issues. How did you tackle this when you took up freelancing?

Everything has to be worked out. A beginner always is at a disadvantage over choice of work and non-payment issues. Even those who had sufficient experience were cheated from Canada to New Zealand to the tune of several millions by Bangalore Adit. It happens.

I must say it was a mixed bag as well. Many had not paid the amount. But fortunately all firms are not like that. If our output has quality and we keep up time schedule, many problems will disappear.

Punctuality and discipline will take us a long way. (.. 😕 wonder why we never paid attention to those “Moral Science” class ) ~D

Do you get to discuss freelancing as a viable income opportunity with your contemporaries & students. Does generation gap play a role in the thought process?

I didn’t have much time with my students as I had migrated from Madurai to Chennai. But most of the young translators with whom it has been my privilege to get in touch, are quite optimistic about future in this field. I know a couple of them who are engineering degree holders but have preferred to take this up as a good career at a young age.

True, present generation is not tied down by conventional notion of “job and salary” ~D

As a history teacher, do you foresee history-in-the-making @ job sector where young IIM graduates are refusing plum jobs to pursue entreprenuerial dreams. On the same note, brilliant-stay-at-home-minds ( child care / foreign soil ) are seriously considering freelancing from home as an option to tackle family and financial needs?

It is not only translation work that matters. Freelance writing and editing bring in good revenue as well. Stay-at-home minds, voluntarily or involuntarily, could certainly benefit from this source of income as money would flow in with hard work and ability.

I am not qualified to suggest to IIM graduates for their ambitions may differ. Let me remind you that I chose a college teaching career as it afforded plenty of leisure so that I could read quite a lot. Many in my background would have chosen pursuit of money to be a better option.

To each as one likes!

Indeed, To each as one likes! ~D

Kindly share your Twitter / facebook / linkedin profile for the benifit of our readers.

Actually Facebook helps me to keep in touch with my social contacts. I have had no time for twitter. Linked in has its potential vastly to improve your standing in the online base.

….. K. Ramana Prasad

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