"I have lived my life unconventionally yet blending it with beautiful Indian traditions. My vision about this website and blog is to make myself understood by the readers so that they can identify themselves with my thought processes and appreciate better the why and how of my stories."
It was a blend of the western and Indian way of life. The reason was I moved with my parents and siblings every two to three years and changed schools thirteen times. Education was still based on the spill- over of the British era. Home was filled with both fun and discipline as was common in upper middle class India. The last three years of my schooling was in a prestigious residential school, Auckland House School in Shimla. This was a privilege very few enjoyed in my school going years and not many girls were sent to boarding schools. Within India, I travelled extensively from the North to South and West to East with my parental family and my own after marriage.
As a girl or a woman I did not have too many challenges as gender bias was not an issue. This was a blessing. There were a few dos and don’ts for all the children in the house. My schooling gave me manifold opportunities to test my skills and talents as a leader, decision maker for myself and those I had to take responsibility for and living cohesively with people from all walks of life.
Schools believed in holistic development. So our curriculum included all that was needed to be a lady as in a finishing school. This was by the then existing society of that time. Exposure to theatre, western ballroom dancing, prim and proper behavior was a part of our education. But somewhere we missed out on the traditional Indian way of life. We did not know too much about our festivals, their significance and so on.
College education was from the then best college for arts, Nizam College which is a part of the Osmania University the alma mater of the former Nizams. My father and his siblings did their intermediate here before they pursued their chosen careers. This was one more reason for my joining this college which was carrying on the family tradition.
In the last of my teens, I got married into a family which was traditional in their way of life but their thinking was far ahead of their times. They were a generation ahead. That was for both my father-in-law’s and mother-in-law’s family. Also they were all staunch freedom fighters. Some went to jail and others worked with Mahatma Gandhi and wore khaddar till their very end. I am blessed as in the years to come I could pick on personalities I portrayed and wove stories around their lives.
These exams were a part of our academic curriculum. It fitted in with the objective of the school which believed in sending out assertive but polished ladies with all the graces and charm. These exams made us learn voice training, tone intonation and superior articulation which is an intrinsic part of effective communication. We participated in debates and declamations and group discussions at the state level among similar like-minded schools. They were fun. This led to the acquisition of a greater degree of self-confidence and the ability to think laterally.
Giving back to society has been a very enriching experience. I am blessed to get this opportunity through various NGO’s. Understanding others and empathizing with those who need you brings out the qualities of humility, kindness and a different kind of generosity. The hurt and difficulties of others opened my eyes to a world I could never imagine and how much we can give and how far from reality we, the privileged, live in. An example of this I would like to cite. Once, in Narayangaon, I was taking a training programme. At the end of the day I advised one girl who was very bright to continue with her post graduation. She turned round and said, “Madam, you don’t know how difficult it was for me to do my graduation. My father will not hear of post graduation. He feels that it is no use educating a girl as she will get married and go to her in-laws’ house.”
I was equipped to write well, thanks to my education. But my experiences helped me to pick on people I met who would make interesting reading with a bit of imagination and creativity. But what really helped me was doing a course in creative- writing. The shift was from “I” to you, they and us”. Writing for magazines and editing news -letters was totally different to short story writing. Writing was never planned but it happened and I am glad. People like me write because we enjoy writing.
I don’t know what continues to motivate me but I am glad as it has kept me mentally young and active. Perhaps it is the feeling that a journey needs to be continued as long as it is possible to do so. The innate creative instincts keep me going and lets me forget my own losses and adversities. Other than Darpan, 3 more books (Mani, Life for a life and Purity of Intent) are almost complete for publication. I hope to be remembered as a versatile writer rather than a champion of women’s journey of empowerment
My work, spread over two and a half decades, has been directed towards upgrading one’s language and soft skills in order to move from efficiency to effectiveness. I started with young students and moved to managers at all levels in companies with different profiles and varied external customers. Many employees have outstanding technical credentials but are not able to deliver the expected results because they lack the confidence while meeting domestic and international customers for reasons like poor language skills as they were educated in vernacular medium. This creates some barriers when interacting upwards with seniors and laterally with colleagues when making presentations or getting across assertively or negotiating deals.
I have successfully met these ongoing challenges as a trainer through continuously upgrading my knowledge by reading and qualifying further.
Till I came to the city of Pune, I had no sense of belonging as I had been moving frequently from place to place. My father and husband were in the defence services so I never could say I belong to a place … except as a postal address.
I have been devoting my life to education and reaching out to society through NGOs or as a consultant of soft skills and more recently as a writer on the Indian woman and her many fascinating facets.
Disadvantage of not being conversant and comfortable in English our link language within India and the world - a Global Village, opened my eyes to a world I was unaware of earlier. I was teaching in the three residential hostels Vidyarthi Sahayak Samithi (founded by late Dr. Achut Rao Apte) for the students from rural Maharashtra. He motivated me to find my mission in life “To remove the complexes that exist among people from vernacular background to move from small steps to big ones which their dreams need.” This took me close to small and big business houses and many management colleges in and around Pune.
Another area which I got in without realizing how it was adding to my mission of reaching out was joining NGOs which helped me meet the underprivileged and the real India. Joining SPECTRUM, a ladies study group, helping start small but much needed NGOs like Friends of Children and working through ROTARY Clubs, made possible my present work. Here I spent time encouraging the moto, “Each one Teach One“ and, “a healthy family is a happy family”, by organizing awareness medical talks and help hold medical checkups. The first helps me to hold training programmes, medical camps and identifying organizations that need financial aid. Friends of Children helps me meet students of rural Maharashtra in Narayangaon, Sangli and Pune itself.
My passion for writing on the Indian woman in transition has led to stories being published in the USA and India. These stories have been translated into Marathi and my mother tongue Telugu. In this way the stories have reached a wider readership.
In the year 2015 I was inspired by our honourable prime minister to clean our surroundings which resulted in Swatch Pallod Farms with the help of our ladies unit of Pallod Farms. Apart from the satisfaction it gave me that I could put in a drop in the ocean, It has impacted our domestic help also, who now want us to help them clean up their slum area too. I think that shows we are on the right path.
In a very small way I have done my bit for Pune and its adjacent areas. All this was possible because the people here have shown that to do your bit you don’t need an identity of language, religion and caste but be a good Indian. Thanks to the local Puneries who accepted me and Kudos to Puneries!
I would love to talk/communicate with you on your views/comments about my work and website. Please drop me a message at the address below and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you in anticipation.