An event attended for GurgaonMoms
On a sunny winter morning, many of us from Gurgaon Moms Book Club got together at the GreenR cafe, located in the 32ndMilestone Complex. The cafe was sunlit and spacious, just right for an animated discussion. The philosophy behind GreenR is to provide healthy and delicious alternatives to the regular fare available at other cafes. Not only that, they are strong believers in the plant protein revolution, which provides nutritious and sustainable alternatives to meat, for both vegetarians and non- vegetarians.
Tanushree is a multifaceted personality.She is an alumnus of the Presidency College, Kolkata and IIT Kanpur. She holds a Doctorate in Chemistry from Cornell University and works for the Intel Corporation in the USA. Tanushree is also a social activist, working with the India Chapters of ASHA and AID in the USA and is connected to many women’s and civic engagement organisations.
For many of us, our window to life in the USA has been American TV shows, films and books. “From An-Other Land” brings to us a view from another window — through the eyes of Indian immigrants to theLand of Opportunity. Laced with understated humour, Tanushree’s book throws up the complex dynamics of relationships between people, and those between a person and the country they have chosen as their own. For Tanu, her writing is linked to her social activism as well, as can be seen by the dedication at the beginning of the book. Instead of straightaway plunging into the stories, the author has cleverly introduced the characters in the first story, as people inline for Immigration.
As for Rinku Paul, the present book, Daughters of Legacy ( about heiresses to business houses) is the third she has written, the other two being “Dare to Be”(about women who gave up corporate careers to follow their passion) and“Millionaire Housewives” ( about housewives who started their own businesses and emerged successful)
I asked Tanushree Ghosh, if the GreatAmerican Dream is also still the Great Indian Dream. She feels that this is true to a large extent. It is not just the economy and infrastructure, which are conducive to development; the work culture itself encourages excellence. AtUniversity, the quality of research is something else, as it attracts the crème de la crème of brains.
A recurrent theme in her stories is loneliness. Asked about this, Tanu said that as a society, the USA is a private one. So immigrants can feel alone in a crowd.
In a free ranging conversation with Upasana, both Tanu and Rinku gave us insights into the fields of their interests. When asked about what was common to the protagonists in their stories, Tanu felt that it is a feeling of the identity suffering a blow. The country defines your identity as well as makes you lose it.
Rinku felt that all the women she had spoken to, had a secret formula: to outshout the naysayers. As women, we are prone to second-guessing ourselves.This feeling of inadequacy is called the Imposter syndrome. We have to overcome that, since there is no right time to start —one just has to take the plunge.We never negotiate for ourselves —- for this, an effective trick is to think one is negotiating for one’s child!
Another discussion dealt with what changes when one becomes a Mom. There is Mom guilt. This can be overcome by really spending quality time, where the mother is totally with the child with no distractions whatsoever. She also needs to accept herself as an individual and do something nice for herself. The mother can prepare the child for the road, and not try to prepare the road for the child.
Asked about the stories she wrote,Tanushree said that most of them are based on true stories. She does not want to tell people what to do, but just present life as it is. Thus her book is a mirror to society, and is her way of reaching out, and turning the lens on to social problems.
Rinku was asked why she chose to write only about women; specifically why only those women. She feels that with the prevailing patriarchy inherent in the system, women have had to face a different set of challenges all together.
Each statement sparked a further discussion, until the sunshine outside was reflected in the brightness of the conversation within this cosy cafe!