I have always heard that women are created by God, representing a part of God or even acting as his friend to help the world to be a better place as God can’t be present everywhere. My life experiences tell me this is true. I am very lucky that many women have significantly impacted my life, to help shape my character and define my focus.
My grandmother was an amazing bundle of energy, kindness, compassion, and human understanding. It is said that God creates humans and gives them life, but the credit for sustaining my life goes to my grandmother Dadi, she almost fought with God to save my life again as the doctors said I wouldn’t survive my first week due to blocked lungs. Not satisfied with this prognosis, she remained awake for two days and kept me alive by giving me milk from a cotton ball. Over the years, my friendship with her deepened every day as she used to wake me every morning giving me morning tea and a refreshing smile. After school I used to spend time with her, listening to her stories, having her deliciously cooked food, and talking to her until I fell asleep as my bed was in her room.
I attended a typical government school for primary and secondary standards, lacking basic infrastructure such as benches, extra-curricular activities, and teachers that were passionate about their work. Generally, my Hindi and English exam papers carried more red pen marks than the blue I had written them in, and I really struggled to pen a single line in English. I reached 8th Standard and it became a miracle for me that year when a new English teacher joined the school. Seeing my struggle but taking note of how hard I worked, she asked me to join her at her home for extra coaching. All credit for my capacity to speak, read, write, and comprehend English goes to this woman who went way beyond her call of duty.
My interest in understanding mechanics and electricity began at an early age, where I would dismantle my father’s electrical appliances component by component. This really landed me in trouble as sometimes I was unable to restore all the components, I received electric shocks, or short circuits happened, resulting in a beating from my father. Undeterred, I enrolled in an engineering college after high school graduation as a way to pursue my interest. After enduring a gruelling first year of theory, I met with the Dean of Research and Development with hopes that she could provide some practical application to the theoretical academics. A simple and kind person, she presented a number of on-going projects including bio-algal fuel, fly ash, and green energy. After completing classes, I would spend time in Mam’s lab, reading a journal article per day. Soon, she started sending me to conferences around campus and Bhubaneswar. She encouraged me to write abstracts and present my research findings. Even though she was a busy person acting as Dean, teaching three classes a day, and mentoring eight doctoral students, she reviewed my abstracts, posters, and papers. Her faith in me was a huge encouragement, and I was able to present 25 research papers and publish five papers.
With college life over, I found myself questioning: What is next? After a brief stint in the industry, my passion for community development led to being selected forana SBI-Youth for India fellowship followed by India Fellowship. On the train journey to Udaipur, Rajasthan, for the fellowship induction, I had the pleasure of discovering Pratibha, another fellow inductee. Her simplicity and love for the environment really impacted me. During induction, our friendship deepened as we shared our respective life stories. Despite my shyness and uncertainty regarding her upbringing – a student from Hindu, and a native upper-crust Delhi urbanite – she poured her heart and soul into our fledgeling organization, correcting my grammar and deftly providing organizational structure and sound business decisions. Her broad and diverse background has provided amazing propulsion to not only Teach For Green but also for me personally.
I am grateful for these amazing women that have helped in shaping my views of the world and encouraged, and taught me about life, love, and passion.