SHEROES Meet – Women@Work, Pune, June 17, 2016

India has some 586.47 million females, according to a census site. Of these, the adults too form a significant number. Alas, not many of them can easily find employment. Many take a maternity break after a period at work and find it hard to return to jobs. But this is only one reason why a lot of smart and sincere women in India today languish in unemployment while rising costs and personal fulfilment dreams soar with each passing day.

Sheroes Pune Venture Centre June 17, 2016
Sheroes get together at Pune’s Venture Centre June 17, 2016

Beyond the individual needs, it is the nation, too, which suffers without recourse to this able skilled and talented task force.

In early 2011 I’d joined an initiative called Fleximoms which offered, as the name suggests, freelance and home based work for stay home mothers and such.   As I wasn’t too sure what I really wanted to do  I never really visited the site much.

Along the way it grew and developed into Sheroes, a warm and very user friendly web site for women looking for employment opportunities. But it’s much more than just another job site.

And this Saturday I had a chance to see Sheroes in action at a cosy little Meetup in the Venture Centre, Pune.

I reached there at about 3 and met the few others who had also arrived early: a young lady with a career background in HR, a software specialist, a psychologist and a content writer. The latter’s life had literally been turned around after she discovered Sheroes.

Shweta Shalini of he BJP
IT professional, politician Shweta Shalini

The first speaker, Shweta Shalini,  broke the ice with her exhortations and humour. Besides some very acute observations on how to balance family and profession, she loosened up audience tension with her wit and charm.

Sheroe Sonali Brahma
Sheroe Sonali Brahma basically introduced the concept and invited questions

Sheroe Sonali Brahma followed up by briefly discussing what the website was all about and quickly invited and replied to questions.

By then there was a goodly crowd of women of various ages and from various professional backgrounds. The questions flew fast and furious, showing how thirsty the participants were for more information on Sheroes and how much they craved the mentoring on offer.

Sheroe Paroma Sen
Sheroe Paroma Sen

Young Sheroe Paroma Sen then sketched some plans for the future and opened the floor for Venture Centre to tell us about its vision and mission.

Talk on Venture Centre
Talk on Venture Centre

And then we all trooped out for some wonderful tea and biscuits and group photos and networking at the canteen.

Which is where I met author Madhuri Maitra.


And loads of starry eyed bubbly young ladies of all ages variously into art from recycled materials, organic farming, entrepreneurs and financial experts…

I look forwards to future Sheroe interactions with a heart full of hope and I actually did a little dance on the road on my way home!

Pune@Roadside Men At Work

Pune is a city of enterprise. Every few yards you pass a man or woman selling something useful.


Khadki berry Hawker
Berry Man Khadki


Chip maker
Chips making


Vegetable seller, Sai Chowk Sunday Bazaar
Sai Chowk Sunday Market Vegetable Seller


Young Boy selling bananas, Sai Chowk Sunday Market
Youngest man at work? Banana Seller, Sai Chowk, Sunday Bazaar

a cool drink, coconuts, and other eats…

A Tailor

I met Madhav tailor soon after we moved to Pune. I’d lost a lot of weight and my jeans were always slipping down my hips. I’m no belt person either.

I gave him the jeans and he took one look at me and tightened the waist in a few minutes. And he also did the same for a top. Both fitted divinely and I’ve been a fan of his ever since.

Also, we’re besties. I can stop by, even after a gap of many months, and we carry on as if we’ve always known each other.6 I made the big mistake of raving about him to a lady who promptly took him a bag to fix. He lost it! And it was an expensive or memorable bag. Madhav Tailor is one of the many in India, like me, who value freedom over money.

Displaced by some riots which took place in his youth, he learned tailoring and made a living. Along the way, he’s also worked for others. And found out that it was not his cup of tea.

Here, he works on his own terms, mostly, surrounded by friends: a key maker, a cobbler, a boy who runs a second hand book stall and many other such who ply a humble trade and, thus, fighting the system, keep their self-respect.

Before them the busy road races people past as if life itself were unfolding for their delight.

A Cobbler

Cobbler near AIMS Hospital
Cobbler near Aundh Gaon

or someone who will fix your bicycle.

Alas, I would not dare take a photo of the latter – at least, the one I take my cycle to. He’s got character, like all of the above, and I’d take a picture of such a one only when we are both comfortable with such a freedom.

Madhav tailor takes on the world on his own terms – just like I do
Cobbler aundh gaon
Cobbler, Aundh Gaon – skillful when and if he chooses. Same as I.

Pune is not too vertical and these men are as proud as the Puneite who owns three helicopters.


Museum Rudana, Bali, July 2008

On a visit to Bali, we were taken to this museum as part of a day’s tour. It was, thus, a rather short stop but it has captured a special place in my heart.

As you can see, I’m already in a Bali Art Museum state of mind

Influences from the mythology of the Indian sub-continent are present everywhere in Indonesia and, most especially, in Bali. Thus, it was no surprise to see many stone statues of Indian gods even as we entered.

A sitting Ganesh, chubby and bedecked with flowers

Design  Founder Nyoman Rudana used the concept of Tri Hita Karana, art’s contribution to public wellbeing, to dream up a building combining space and environment, internal and external, including management, staff, the collection and other factors. It is serene and conducive to the enjoyment of art.  Continue reading

What they say

One-week workshop for media students  Comments from 1st year students of MJMC, ASAS, Kochi. November 2015 The evaluation of the workshop can be accessed from here: EvaluationWorkshopMJMC ASASNov15 …

Source: What they say

Flash: Announcing the “YAP” finalists

Very proud of Nikki Pilania Chaudhary, India!


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What was the “YAP” project all about, again?

In the run-up to the upcoming #GCARD3 global event, we announced “YAP”, the Youth Agripreneurs Project. “YAP” is a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs or “agripreneurs” by GFAR (the Global Forum on Agricultural Research), CGIAR (the Global Agricultural Research Partnership) and YPARD (the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development).

Within “YAP” we want to encourage young agripreneurs from all over the world, to think about their projects and formulate their ideas in a concrete proposal. We also wanted to use our blog, as a platform where these entrepreneurs could showcase their projects, while encouraging feedback on their proposals through the comments on each proposal’s blogpost.

In addition, we wanted to show, to a wider audience, how many creative, inspiring and concrete ideas these young people had. Through the online voting process – determining the first selection -, we wanted…

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Yungdrung Tibetan Monastery, Solan, Shimla

Known variously as Yung Drung Ling, Bon and Yung Drung, a Tibetan Monastery nestles on the hillside, some twelve kilometres from the town of Solan. The monastery has a statue of Shenrab Mibo, and is said to be among the oldest Buddhist monasteries in India. Tourists, it is reported, flock to watch performances of the Cham, the sacred Bon dances, on New Year’s Eve.

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A Majestic Sight

Constructed in the 7th century, during the reign of Songtsan Gambo, it belongs to the Bon sect, an indigenous branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is a good place to find out more about Buddhism, the Bon sect and other aspects of Tibetan culture.

I was charmed to see the Tibetan script which I’d briefly studied when I was about 13

A visit to this monastery is a good workout! Apart from the fact that it’s on a hill, there are flights of stairs at every turn.

A long flight of steps leads to the monastery

While we were there we did not see many people. Perhaps it was that time of day or year.

A cat descends to greet an ascendant monk

Built at several levels on the hillside, one has to climb a few flights of stairs to reach the main temple. There is a huge basketball court on way to the temple, where you are likely to see little monks dribbling ball.

The above quote is from an article in The Sunday Tribune.

The monastery has not gone to the dogs

We visited the monastery very briefly in September, 2013.

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The typical Tibetan motifs brighten the day

As a young girl, I avidly read all the Lobsang Rampa stories and often fantasised that I was the reincarnation of a great Tibetan monk.

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I’d dreamed of being a monk in my early girlhood days

There is a lot about this monastery in another page, online. It’s referred to as the Dolanji monastery there.

A couple of young monks heading to the prayer room

Monks had started trickling into the hall and settling down at their desks. It was their lunch hour, after which they would chant and perform their daily rituals. Dr Negi and I moved out to the ground, from where he pointed out the living quarters of the monks and the children’s dormitory. A small but beautiful building on the temple’s left was the Menri Trizin’s home, he said, and we had a glimpse of His Holiness when he stepped out to see off a visitor.

Read more at Tibet’s 18-thousand-year-old religion.

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Monks absorbed in study

In 1967, Menri was refounded at Dolanji in Himachal Pradesh, India by Lungtok Tenpai Nyima and Lopön Tenzin Namdak. This monastery has recreated the geshe training program, and is home to over two hundred monks. Menri in India and Triten NorbutseMonastery in Nepal now host the only two geshe programs in the Bon lineage. (From Wikipedia)

Quaint Guardians

Located in an unknown corner of the Solan District, Menri monastery is house to more than 300 Bonpa research scholars.

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It’s like a fortress

Menri Monastery, Dolanji, India

Menri (Medicine Mountain) Monastery is located in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. This place has changed in recent years from a sleepy, albeit culturally important backwater, to become a bustling hub of religious learning and ritual activity. Until 1998, Menri was a very rudimentary facility with a few simple adobe and stone buildings. Even the main temple was bereft of the rich decorations that have come to characterize Tibetan religious edifices. There were around 100 monks then. Now there are over 350 residents, and large concrete Tibetan-style buildings have come up to house the new temples, a library, Bon Dialectic School, dormitories, health center, and nunnery as well as other well functioning centers

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A moment of contemplation

It would not be easy for the ordinary tourist to reach this place. One would have to get to Solan first and find transport to the monastery.

Suddenly there were many monks

There are pockets of Tibetan settlements all over India. Where I grew up and did most of my schooling, I had some Tibetan classmates. Some had freshly escaped over the Himalayas to India.

One of the buildings – a library or guest house

A great view for only 175 rupees ($3.50) per person per day, all 3 meals included.

The monastery perches high, with majestic views on every side

Best visited during daylight given the horrid condition of the roads. Everything is quite cut off from the world and it would be best to travel with reliable company.

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