How many of us are Jill of all trades? The session saw a very refreshing and joyous discussion among the rock stars of female fiction- Milan Vohra, Minnie Vaid and Piya Bahadur, hosted by Sudha Menon.
Each of these women, including the host herself, has written about women in various fields, bringing to light different female characters and how they break stereotypes. The session began with the authors reading out selected sections from their novels.
Minnie Vaid spoke about her book, ‘Those Magnificent Women and their Flying Machines: ISRO’s Mission to Mars’. Her book uncovers the contribution of the team of female scientists in ISRO’s missions. Interacting with the female scientists was very empowering for Minnie. She recalled how she was baffled at the lack of any pictures of these women. The work of women in scientific fields is highly unrecognised. In a candid moment, she commented about how she, herself, held stereotypes about women scientists, and through her research and the time she spent with them, she came to realise that they work much harder than they are given credit for.
Piya Bahadur recounted her biking journey with three other women, and what made her decide to go on such an adventure. Piya and her female entourage showed to the world that women, too, can embark upon great adventures when they biked seventeen thousand kilometres, across seven nations. “We owe it to ourselves to do what we want to do. When you realise that there is nothing holding you back, you can achieve anything.” These inspiring words left the audience in awe.
The only fiction writer on the block, Milan Vohra, spoke about how she felt while researching for her character, Ragini, in her novel ‘Our Song’. Music is one of the key elements in her book. Milan spoke about how she had to get a deeper understanding about music and how it affects the emotions of people. Do people react differently to different music, depending upon their mood? Milan tried to find out, as she developed her character.
While researching for her book, Minnie was fascinated, as well as intimidated, as she interviewed the women scientists of ISRO. ‘Nerves of steel’- that’s what drives these women. Out of the twenty-one women she met from the team, all of them were immensely proud of working for the nation. They were incredibly hardworking and determined, even after the failure of the launch of the Mars mission.
Super excited about her biking adventure, Piya remarked about how it was not always easy to continue every day. Before they started to drive each day, they left their houses by simply thinking, “yeh toh ho hi jaayega!” (“this is bound to happen”). Before stepping out, it was important to think that they will succeed. Things like deciding on where to eat became a tough task, as they could not always count on the highway food. It was a group of four women, so there had to be ego clashes!
“What’s the best thing a woman can cultivate”, asked Sudha.
For Minnie, it was endurance. Women have a powerful capacity to endure anything. Piya agreed and added in that persistence was also something that women could acquire. With persistence, there’s no room for failure. Milan viewed that self-belief was a quality all women should have. Sudha, too, added in, as she believed that one must be a constant learner, a student throughout our lives.
It was a fun and lively session. It was inspiring to be among such passionate and successful women, as they conveyed to the audience the potential of women – how they truly are the Jills of All Trades.
About the Author: Passionate about saving the environment, and driven by politics and philosophy, Anusha Basu writes about the musings she perceives everyday. She is currently pursuing her English Hons degree at Christ University, Bangalore. She currently writes for TheSeer.