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8 March 2007

Vive le difference

High point on Women's day - a song dedication....though a lil off key it made me smile, even laugh... Low point- the whole idea of a women's day.

But an opportunity as good as any other, to take a moment to list the women I admire, inspire, provoke thought, remember, and such. As evident it is a random list, with no thought to classification, timeline, living, dead or anything... just... musings and memories

TPachi, grand mother/aunt, godmother et.al. Childhood memories of spending summer vacations at her house when dinner would be (only) custard and fruit. She still preserves an handmade diwali card I made when I was ten. She taught me all my housekeeping skills to be a good "housewife' while mom ensured we were bold & beautiful.

Mrs.V, school principal, a lady of untiring energy, who straddled strict and sensitive effortlessly to build characters and an insitution. I think I owe her most for speaking on my behalf to my mom when I wanted to choose arts stream, over science or commerce, when what in those days was a sacrilege for a SSC ranker to do. Tpachi did the same when I wanted to marry a person of my choice-- so anyone who took up for me with my mother you understand why they top the list.

Mallika Sehrawat - actress known for her sexy image- for her in your face attitude and making it on her own guts. I once read an interview or article where she said that she comes from a village where female children are killed even before they are born, or soon enough and buffaloes have more higher status than women. For surviving death & escaping indignity and for having smiled and looking sexy through it all. More on female infanticide here.

Asha Bhosle, singer- in her eighties and holding the torch of Indian popular music high with international singers. I read the cover feature on her last year in HT brunch feeling ,wow - what a life, what a woman!

Shweta Nanda, just another gal, even with an heritage of her famous family - What a fine example of a young female educated urban Indian. I just feel nice when I see her picture in the paper or glossy. She will be on TV too soon.

Ila Bhatt, social worker and leader of SEWA - who worked tirelessly for micro-finance and women self help groups long long before it was "in".

U- from my batch. She took up a rural posting immediately after studies and till I last heard was dedicated to her life and work in a village on the outskirts of Mumbai. Her example closes the debate on whether social work is a vocation or a profession.

My mom. r.i.p amma -I'm sure you rock in heaven too. A few words, lines will not suffice. maybe a book some day.

Mrs.D- yoga teacher, a nurse by training, a teacher by profession, a dean by office. Mrs. D is an angel in disguise who sees with her "mind's eye".

Ma Sarada Devi- spiritual figure- for inspiration on humility and self-effacement and Meera Bai- poet saint of India. I often try this mental exercise of trying to picturise a what if situation of Meera Bai lived today and my brain gives out. There is a time-out error. It is mind-blowing.

Mahashweta Devi, Writer & Jyanpeeth award winner- I don't know why. After I made this entry in my list, I checked up wikipedia and now understand the meaning of phrase, the heart has it's reasons.

Annapurna Devi- sitarist, also sometimes better known as the reclusive ex-wife of Ravi Shankar and daughter of his guru -for choosing her life and staying (sticking) by it. For an example that there is life after pain and it can be any one you choose.

Deepa Mehta, film maker- for her calm integrity. She sticks to what she believes in, does it silently, and in the process gets others in her team to believe in her dream too! If you exclude the word, silent, from my sentence it comes close to the definition of a leader in the corporate world

Indira Gandhi- politician & PM of India - one of the great leaders of our country, but my inclusion is also a personal memory. I met her when I was a school girl. She had to pin an award I won in painting- a medal to my dress and she turned to the organisers to gently chide them, why didn't you fix it on a ribbon? Bacchi ka dress kharab ho jayega. I was wearing a wollen knitted dress and she noted the pin on the medal was pulling the fibre out. Prime Minister of a country of a billion people concerened about the dress of a girl she would never see again! What a memory to have and to hold. Like wordsworth's daffodils-it flashes on my minds inward eye, and does more for me in terms of learning on leadership than any two year course in the best business school could have done.

Then there is K, a mother of three - we live on two opposite side of the town and I haven't met her in some time now, it is not as if we are childhood friends, we spent just one year of study together- and yet, I know she is the 2 a.m person I can call-figuratively of course. On the fateful 26/7 her call was the first I received- Deepa- are you ok, where are you? K is the kind of person who keeps my faith in human nature just as V is the one who chased it away. There are some horror women stories too I have, but Womens Day is not for them, but for those who you wish to celebrate.

I thought about names from the world of business and media, but could not think of any one to include in my list. I thought international and only one name I could think of is Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, in house arrest since 1989. The day she is released may qualify for womens day at least for me.

Mixed bag

My sister, S. A loving, giving person who gives of herself as wife, mother and member of an extended family to all in her life at any time. But as a qualified engineer and a member of women's scientist association, I feel sad she is not an entrepreneur providing employment to women. I feel the same about some other close friends too who can do more for women's cause. I feel that about myself too- about ANY cause.

Meera Borwankar- Head of Mumbai Police, crime branch. I was so happy when she was appointed but I feel disappointed at no special thought given to women/women's issues at all. Even something small and simple as say, self-defence classes in evening. Meanwhile I came across this blog Blanknoise. If by next year this time, they can persuade and work to implement something on this issue at least in Mumbai, my vote would go to both the blog and to Ms. Borwarkar. This is triggerred by the fact that there are many "vote for women acheivers" going on in the media for womens day.

All women of style, substance, strength, serenity, sweetness and soul.

I am proud of all of them including Ms. Borwankar, but if women don't do something for women, then do we pray for Mahatma Phule and Raja Ram Mohan Roy to be born again?

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