November 03, 2015

These bold, wonderful women...

In the last two months, I either met or heard of smart, sensitive, savvy girls and women who are adventurous, bold and passionate about what they do.

During our Hampi trip in September, while we ourselves were a group of four women travelling together, there were two solo travellers staying at the resort where we stayed - both young professionals who just got away from their hectic lifestyles and personal pressures. While one of them was there for a whole week, relaxing, waking up late and going to see various places at her own pace, the other was there only for the weekend, and they seemed to be very happy being on their own. They had dreams of many more travels within and outside India. They seemed to love the idea of solo travel - something I have never been able to get myself to do...perhaps it is a generation thing.

The other all-women group was from Coorg, and these women were between the ages of 60-75, maybe. They had clearly slowed down, but they were super enthusiastic, and not only did they do most of the things we did, including the 1-hr coracle ride, they also hit the road to go to Badami and Bijapur, about a 4 hour drive away, which I would do on an altogether different trip!

And so, dinner times were full of conversations across the tables, with the solo travellers joining us once in a while for a chat and loads of laughs. Cheeky and full of fun, they told us stories of people's reactions to seeing women travelling alone - the old uncle on the train giving well-meaning advice about marriage, flirting men - from auto drivers to resort managers - and how these girls handled them, and so on. Our resort reverberated with laughter as we exchanged funny stories...it felt good to live in a women-only world for a few days, and we too opened up and spoke about various things - travels, random encounters with wildlife, and the khatarnak topic of all - journey through life, including falling in love and stories of how we met our husbands! This is something one does with total strangers only on a vacation! But we learnt from them and perhaps, they from us. And for the four days we were there, all of us took complete breaks from our lives!

Kudos to all these people we met in Hampi. It reminded me of the television serial I used to watch when my daughter was a baby - it was called 'Thoda sa asmaan' and dealt with three generations of women and their lives - a young girl coming to terms with love, a young mother dealing with her changed life, and an old woman having issues with what's left of hers. I used to identify with Deepti Naval who was the young mother, and used to shed bucketfuls of tears watching it!

Now about another level of courage...

On two wheels: 4000 km towards women's safety

My daughter's classmate Anahita Sriprasad, a graduate in Visual Communication Design, is right now making a trip across India (Leh to Kanyakumari) on her cycle, "to promote women's safety in India as well as to encourage more women to travel if they wish to, but are afraid to travel solo!" Having specialized in film making, she will film the entire journey on a mounted camera and plans to make a documentary. Hats off, Anahita, and best wishes for your incredible courage. I have no doubt you will have amazing experiences. 




Six months on the hills in a room with no door
I went for the launch of a book on edible weeds - "Edible weeds and naturally growing plants in Auroville" by Dr Nina Sengupta. Nina was introduced to us as "the ecologist who stayed all by herself for 6 months in the western ghats in Kerala in a room without a door"! She went there for her research on the gaur or the Indian bison. Apart from talking about the interesting book, she spoke about these 6 months when, except for a village woman supplying her with groceries (the woman would turn back if she encountered any wild life), Nina was all alone. A villager usually accompanied her into the jungle and once, she came face to face with a bison. It came charging towards her and luckily for her, it banged into a tree that stood between them, looked confused, took a U-turn and ran back! P-lucky woman - Nina!  

Women as IAF fighter pilots
I read the other day, that the Indian Ministry of Defence has approved induction of women into fighter stream. Selected candidates would begin to train as fighter pilots by May-June 2016, and the first Indian women combat pilots would be in the cockpits in June 2017. The glass ceiling that existed for decades has now been broken!


Even as I write this comes news from Australia that Michelle Payne has become the first female jockey to win Australia's most prestigious horse race - the Melbourne Cup!

Great going girls! May you march ahead without fear and may you find happiness in pursuits you are passionate about, and not in those dictated by a father-brother-husband-son.

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