I’ve been in her Facebook friend’s list for last 2 years. Or more. She’s one of those few people who often show up in my Facebook’s ‘recent searches’ tab. And there is a reason – she spurs vibrancy, positivity and happiness.
She was collecting her boarding pass for her flight to USA when I met her last. This was just a few days before Women’s Day (yes, I haven’t written for over a month!).
“Is it a holiday or a work trip?”, I ask.
“A conference. And am quiet excited to explore the country as well!”, comes a cheerful reply. I ask her if she is being accompanied by someone else too.
“You know, there is this thing. We women need to realize that it is okay to not act married for 365 days a year. I need my ‘me’ time every once in a while”, she says, explaining how she’s been an avid traveller since her childhood.
Falguni Vasavda was born in Rajkot in 1974.
“My mother worked with GIC and my father worked with Bank of Baroda. Ours was a very simple, middle-class family”
Falguni did her schooling and graduation from Rajkot. She went on to pursue her Masters from Saurashtra University and a residential faculty development program from IIM – A.
“I think the toughest decision my parents took was to put me in an English medium school. I am convent school product. This was when everybody they knew was putting their kids in Gujarati or Hindi medium schools.”
Falguni always had exemplary academic performance. A trained Bharat Natyam dancer and a Sitar player, Falguni was also a national level Garba performer.
“I had a very liberal yet protective upbringing. My parents would never stop me from doing anything. I remember, I won a national level essay competition in class 9th and the prizes were to be collected in Delhi from Ms. Margaret Alva. My father travelled all the way with me just to collect that one certificate”
Falguni, along with extra-curricular activity, also championed in her studies.
“I’ve been a double gold-medalist. If you saw me in college, you would never believe that I would even study!”, she says, venturing back into her childhood.
Her parents being a working couple, Falguni talks of the role her grandparents played in her upbringing – they were there for us 24×7, she tells.
“I grew up seeing my mother manage her work and family life so well. She is an independent woman and always inspired me to carve my own identity, to become something”
Falguni enrolled for a PhD program from Sardar Patel University in 2003. Her first job was with Christ College post which she moved to Saurashtra University. She joined MICA in 2004.
“That’s also when I met Dirghayu, my husband. Ours was a conventional, arranged marriage. But we used to talk a LOT before we said yes to each other”, she says with a chuckle, shifting her memory trail from professional to personal.
“I have to mention – he has been a great support through out! I was pursuing my PhD along with a job when I got married. It was stressful – a new house, new family, new job and studies to cope up with. But my in-laws and Dirghayu made sure I had no hurdles on my way to finishing my PhD and pursue my job. Full marks to them”
While she talked about playing the above mentioned several roles, questions about multi-tasking couldn’t not cross my mind. And so, I ask.
“See, my parents have taught me this fine art of balancing. One can be too ambitious – in that case, you don’t marry. I knew I wanted to have a social life too. So eventually, I learnt the art.”
“Tell me more about it?”, I question, yet curious how someone could be so positive despite working round the clock!
“Initially I wanted to be superwoman. I wanted to do everything. I learnt how to expect a little less from myself. I started prioritising. I learnt how to out-source non-intellectual tasks. And I constantly remind myself that it is okay if I am not a superwoman”
During the conversation, Falguni hops from her memories of childhood to professional and personal life and back. This time, it is her as a teenager.
“When I was a teenager, I did get eve-teased, like any other girl. I once complained about this to my mother. She told me how she could come and fight with the guys, but that would be just once. She taught me how to fight by own battles.”
In the middle of the conversation, I scroll through her Facebook timeline. I am reminded that she is also a teacher, an admired one at that.
“I am very passionate about teaching!”, she says when I ask her about her life as a teacher.
“I find my job very vibrant! I think being a teacher is way beyond one class, one course and one curriculum. It is a role where you are responsible to make better versions of your students, to teach them how to think with an open-mind and ask questions. Oh and by the way, am also called ‘the cool professor’.”
Her timeline stands a testimony to her last statement. I can’t recall of a teacher I would remember for his/her fashion sense. But here she is – in pictures with a standard red MICA wall, various colorful sarees, accessories, palazzos and her niece.
“If not a professor, I would have been a fashion designer. I design all my clothes myself. And I love kids”, she chips in with a gracious smile.
I tell her how rare it is to see someone from 1970s so active on social media. She responds,
“In the age of Google, relevance of a teacher is anyways dying. If I don’t keep myself updated and active with information and trends, who would ask for me? Through social media, I can reach out to 20,000 people at a time, not limiting myself and my knowledge to a classroom.”
It is time she leaves for security check-in. I make a move too, hitting the ‘like’ button to her airport check-in on Facebook 🙂