It was the time of the day, when the red flash cites the arrival of Sun, just before dawn, when I started towards Surat. On top of that, the weather was rife with a light fog and chill was, just soothing. The feeling soon subsided as Gujarat’s weather knows it better than anyone to taunt us during monsoons. But what a start to the day it was.
I was to meet an amazing group of people, but Saurabh, my guide had a surprise visit in store for me. Kinjal Gajera. Surat is famous for many things, but then, I had Khichu and Dumas beach on top of my mind. In no time, I found myself in front of a lush building with glass windows and I correctly deduced the third thing Suratis are famous for, diamonds.
I knew better by then to judge people by their stature. So removing the rich and posh out of mind, looking at the building, I stepped in to meet her. As we opened the door, she sat on the far end of the room, working on her computer. The room was huge and quiet. Thin, young, and donning an aura which projected strength, is how I would describe her.
Kinjal Gajera is the daughter of Chunnibhai Gajera. She manages branding and marketing of Laxmi Diamonds and Gajera Trust. Gajera brothers (her father and uncles) are owners of the renowned company Laxmi Diamonds founded in 1972. They diligently worked towards setting up the company.
“I grew up with my parents, because my brothers studied in boarding schools. I was a pampered child, with love and not with things. My father had a very big role in my upbringing.”
And she is right. We are a shadow of people we grow up with, our parents, friends, teachers, including people we work with. She tells me how her father helped her keep her eyes in front and ears open to both ends of the world.
“We sat on the floor to dine as a family and also visited the hotels to enjoy the luxury. We weren’t showered with laptops and cars, but given things of necessities at the right times.”
She has a father and uncles who run a company with billions in turnovers, goes without saying each of their meetings were important ones. Kinjal tells me how her father helped her become what she is today.
“My father never thought any of my questions were inane or assumed that I wouldn’t understand because I was young. He ensured I was in the room, even when there was a dignitary coming in to meet him. I was groomed into who I am today, by him.”
Kinjal didn’t have as easily flowing childhood as it looks like. People assumed and perceived what they wanted to. Was it because of her background? Her gender? Or maybe both.
“I didn’t know why others thought that the only way women can live and dream, were, as long these dreams fit into a man’s view. I have traveled by myself, studied abroad because my father gave me freedom to pursue these dreams.”
During this part of the conversation, she tells me how she’s a feminist in terms of equal opportunities for everyone. She was a mischievous kid and not the brightest one the school, but definitely not a dunce. I say this because what she is doing today, will dispel if what little shred of doubt people had about her.
“I wanted to be a lot of things. I love buildings, astronomy, et. al. and with Sunita’s Makerspace, I am vicariously living those dreams.”
Inspired by the love and support she received growing up, Kinjal named an initiative after her mother, Sunita. Amongst running 17 schools under Gajera trust, she started Sunita’s makerspace where kids with extra-ordinary skills can learn how to find their calling and hone themselves under various fields like dance, technology, music, management, etc. right from the school level.
“Each of the teachers in teaching in schools have a passion apart from the subject they teach. They maybe good with music or sports. They pick up a club from makerspace and mentor the students who have an affinity for the same.”
Kinjal has a very focused vision for Gajera Trust and herself. She plans on bringing in existing talent, by collective and collaborative efforts of all who believe in the vision of building sustainable communities to drive students to become innovators. Kinjal is also supporting TEDxDumas, so I asked her as to why she’s invested in the idea.
“I think the thoughts and efforts that we are putting in are somewhere inspired by other people, other experiences. As I was growing up my father inspired me, shared his experiences with me. And then, I started following TED’s platform in my bachelors and found a new inspiration from the stories people shared.”
If you would like to attend TEDxDumas in Surat this 28th August. Please visit their website.
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