Oh My God! We all are so connected and how I am touched with the responses of different people with one voice that “yes! Bring it on This girl is beautiful.” So here is her life all exposed and open before you! Her story is a kind of story many of us take but never realize what tremendous courage it takes to leave your lands,your home, your country and your people to follow your dreams.Her story is also the Journey of a pampered daughter to being a pampering Mom herself and don’t we all take this journey and never realize how extraordinary this journey is? We all talk about how India sucks and how girls still lag behind guys but when girls like her proves it a myth and show that nothing is impossible, How do we take it? How is it being a middle class simple girl in India who opens her wings and choose to live a life not so ordinary on her own terms without any help without any support? How is this transformation of a carefree innocent college girl to have a social security number in UK and on what terms it happens? And if your expecting any spice here, sorry to disappoint you folks, It is one real story of a real girl without sugar, without salt!
Tell us something about you.
I was born in Ranchi. My father works for a PSU so we kept moving to different cities every 2-3 years. My schooling happened in different states and by the virtue of this I learnt two additional languages( Oriya and Assamese) other than Hindi and English. Me and my sister grew up liking this the transfers very much. Moving cities so frequently gave us good exposure to different cultures, languages, and we made new friends and had new things up our sleeves every few years. I did my MBA from a prestigious institute( XIME) in Bangalore and that’s where my first job was in Dr. Reddys. I lived in Bangalore for about 3 years and except the traffic, I pretty much loved everything about this city. After a year in corporate I decided to take UPSC Civil Services exams and so I resigned and moved to Delhi for preparations. There I spent two years- 1st year for UPSC preparations with Vajiram and next year I was working with a very famous brand name( Career Launcher) in MBA coaching. I then moved to Mumbai to work for the biggest brand name(Mckinsey & Co) in the Management Consulting industry and since then Mumbai has been my place as my parents are also settled there. Currently I live in UK with my husband, an adorable little toddler and my parents-in-law. I am working for a technology company and also run a business on the side.
So you have been a Mumbaikar! What is so special about Mumbai girls?
Well Mumbai girls? Haha.. We are fire and ice at the same time. Mornings are spent in catching a train from Andheri or Borivali and nights in partying at a club in Bandra. We feel like Shahrukh or Salman ‘s neighbor while enjoying the waves at Bandstand or nibbling a Vada pav while our way to work. The rains overwhelms us and summers results in constant cribbing. At weekends we can be seen taking a bus to Goa or Mahabaleshwar or hitting the shacks at Alibaug! We are constantly moving. The waves are part of our lives.
The city has it’s pace, fast pace. You eventually learn and grow to become a part of it. Mumbai is humble. Mumbai is down to earth. Mumbai is honest. Mumbai is hard working. Mumbai is friendly. And all of that is a Mumbai Girl. I think it concludes.
Now tell us how it feels to be British and behave elegant British way especially after belonging to a totally different culture?
Living on foreign lands comes with it’s own set of challenges and yes it wasn’t easy for me in the beginning. I would give credit to my husband for watching my back all the time and helping me navigate through the dry British sense of humor (mixed with sarcasm) as he s been a British all his life. The best thing that I like about Britain is their extra polite way of doing things. You get a smile and a friendly hello from strangers while walking down the aisles of the supermarket or while you are standing on a crowded train. I’m getting so used to the politeness that now it feels odd when someone doesn’t hold the door for me or doesn’t say thank you to stop my car in the middle of the road to let him cross the road. Britain is a small country and the culture is consistent across the nation. India on the other hand is vast and each other city is different from the other.
Any incident you remember which symbolizes Indian culture to you and you don’t find it anywhere else?
I still remember that day when I had my interview with McKinsey and my train just stopped 10 minutes from Thane station due to some fire accident in another train. My destination was about 1.5 hrs away from Thane and I immediately informed my interviewer that all trains are running late so she re-scheduled my interview two hours later that day. After waiting for a good one hour in the train I realized that if I stay in this train, I wouldn’t be able to make it to my interview so I decided to walk on the railway tracks then get onto the road and take a taxi!
Well that was the plan but I had no idea that it wouldn’t be that simple. Under the blazing hot sun of April with absolutely no water with me I walked on a highway for about 1 km because there was no taxi. Then suddenly a gentleman came to rescue who arranged a taxi for me till the next station then boarded the train with me, helped me change trains and again got me a taxi and he stayed with me until I reached the office.
That day I eventually made it to my interview and what more cracked it. All credits to a wonderful man who helped me without any reasons. Now he calls me sister and I tie him Rakhi every year since then. I later came to know that day he was on his way to pay off a loan and he himself was under tight time pressure but he simply chose to help me because I was new in Mumbai and didn’t know anything about the complicated travel system of Mumbai. Now that’s what Indian culture to me is, you can make life long relationships with a stranger and leave an impression forever.
How was your academic journey and how did it helped you out?
I have always been that student who would sit on the first bench and was favorite to all the teachers . My biggest glory was when I topped my University with distinction and that gold medal is still my priced possession and see I still couldn’t crack UPSC. Haha… but I don’t regret that thing and may be that happened for good only. Though I was just not a book nerd but equally enthusiastic in all the extra curricular activities. I was also associated with ‘Cheshire home’ that time and would always try to raise funds for them. Being in positions of responsibility, gives you a lot of exposure and power to implement and ascertain changes. I have enjoyed my academic life very well and I am still very fascinated with the idea of going back to University to pursue further my academic learning.
Any regrets from past life?
There may have been some situations in life which I could have handled better especially when it comes to family and friends. I think I could have been more polite and sympathetic on certain instances but I do not regret any big decisions of my life. I’m very happy with everything that happened because that’s what has shaped me the way I am today. And trust me it is a very important feeling one should have for oneself!
Share few of your adventures with us.
My life has been quite adventurous in many ways. Oh! So much to cherish and laugh off.But If you are talking about the regular adventurous sports then I have done Asia’s biggest bungee jump with jump masters from New Zealand, Asia’s longest flying fox which was for 1 km, white water river rafting in the mystique of the holy Ganges and next on my list is sky diving. I have been changing cities every 2-3 years and that itself was an adventure I would say. Sharing rooms and flats with people from different states and religion and language was very enriching experience. Oh yes, that reminds me of a time when I actually beat up two girls but trust me they attacked me first together( They were my room-mates and were torturing me since long taking advantage of my silence).And I was even amazed by the strength I possessed and winded them up single handedly. And I realized that day that it is very important to stand up for you.
So Okay, After beating up two girls how is it handling a family and being a Mum?
See I guess there is always an age and phase that every person has to cross over. What I believe, that you should be honest with everything you do and everybody around you. Like I have been through all and seen all. There is nothing left that makes me feel that if I would not have a family then I could have done that! Like when I was in college I did everything I could afford to, be it bunking classes, go for river rafting or partying at nights. Also I did not saved any of my dreams for my husband and laden him with the loads of my dreams and get frustrated if not fulfilled. I enjoyed my life in present like I never thought that I’d wear that dress only if I ‘ll be married. If I felt like travelling, partying, picnicking or anything, I just did that.So now when it comes to handling my family I don’t regret it.. Infact enjoy it as it is a new thing for me. I know the value a family holds and how precious it is. So yeah! That is the essence which helps me handling things better. I am quite a content ‘housewife’.
How is your husband like and how much importance a partner holds in any individuality?
Atul is the most important person in my life and his support matters the most.He is people’s person, he invests his time and energy on people. He genuinely cares about everyone around him and would do anything for his family. Initially I would panic a lot but eventually I picked up his habits of being organised and staying calm even in worst of situations. He is very supportive and encouraging. He helped me throughout my transformation and I just can’t imagine my life today without him. He is simply the life force of my life. Also, I guess you pick up lots of habits from your partner unknowingly and if you get a good partner and have a good understanding together trust me, you can move mountains. Understanding and compatibility are the keys to happy married life.
So how is a day in your life? I mean how do you manage time?
Well, I get up at 7 in the morning. Prepare breakfast for the family while getting ready for my office. By 9am my nanny,cook and cleaner comes and then they take the charge from changing diapers to doing the laundry or everything required. Then I leave for my office and gets back in evening. Then I go the little creche me and my husband has opened and look after the things required there. Then when I reach home my nanny leaves and I take the charges and make tea for everybody while playing with my little angel who is so elated seeing me back home. After that I finish the left over household jobs and things required next day then I also make a ‘to do’ list for my nanny and hit the bed! Yes, weekends are something I look forward and that time we just take our exclusive family time and may go outside.
What are the mistakes indian girls should avoid who are thinking of rerooting to foreign lands ?
You should do your homework very well before moving to a new country. For house and career both. For example, in my case I had to start my career right from the bottom of the ladder and my experience in India didn’t help much, so please do your research before uprooting your career. Also some girls might want to find out about the household help availability in foreign land. Atul has found a full time housekeeper, a cleaner and an Indian cook for our help with domestic chores here in UK. This is extremely exceptional scenario and not a norm. Everyone thinking of moving out must consider these factors especially if there’s a baby or elderly parents living with them.
Thank you Rohini for sharing your story with us and we wish you all the best!