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Reader’s Corner looks at the contemporary urban Indian woman, through the lens of a Women’s Web reader in each interview.
Dr.Chandrima Pal is one of our earliest readers always chiming in with her helpful comments, giving us useful feedback and encouraging us all along. She has also been generous enough to share with us her experiences in her scientific career. Over to Chandrima!
Hi Chandrima! Do tell us a little about yourself.
At present I am a scientific writer with a long past of research in chemistry. I am also a mother of an eight year old. Along with my work and family, I spend time reading. I am an enthusiastic traveller and I’m interested in writing about popular science, women in science, parenting, lifestyle, travel and books. I love observing people around me, and I genuinely feel for women’s and children’s rights, proper education and their well being in India.
Do you have any life goals for yourself or anything that you think your life must include?
Yes, of course. Life will be very boring without any goals. It’s been a year since I’ve transitioned from bench science in an academic setup to scientific writing in a corporate setup. This is a new sector for me. In this job I am able to use my knowledge, experiences and transferable skills gathered in previous work experiences but I am also learning a lot. Further I need to prove myself more efficiently as I am not a fresher anymore. I would like to see myself in the higher rungs of the career ladder in the coming years.
I am happy with my relationships and personal space. My daughter thinks I am a cool and fun mum; I hope to remain so even after 5 years when she hits her teens! I would love to be more connected physically with my aging parents and in-laws in the coming days. I am struggling at it now, but I would like to be more particular about health and weight issues for my husband and me.
How far along would you say you are in achieving these? What would you love to have/achieve that you don’t yet have?
Mid-career transitions are challenging. You need to come out of your ego, you need to be a fast learner, and you need to be competitive and accurate in achieving targets. And you earn less in comparison to others. I am going through all of these just now. I try to be focussed and reasonable about what I can achieve in daily activities with a long-term goal (in the back of my mind). I hope to see myself in the next level in my career in a couple of years.
About being a cool parent, I keep working for it. Closeness with my two sets of parents – that needs more effort.
I have never been conscious about my health. I would love to attain a proper routine to shed some extra kilos and gain some more energy. I would love to travel more, both in the interiors of India and faraway lands.
Is your life today as you imagined it would be 5 years ago? Where do you want to be 5 years from now?
We have achieved parts of the imagination we had for life 5 years ago. There are parts, which we have achieved more than what we had thought, example the travelling we have done in last 10 years. There are parts, which are different, like my transition to scientific writing was ‘plan B’ but I am glad that I had a plan B in place.
I would certainly want to gain more visibility as a writer, whether in scientific writing or any other kind! I will be happy to get involved in some social activities concerning women, children, the environment and road safety in India.
Do you believe that being a woman has made a difference to your choices and/your life?
Yes, surely. If I were a man, things would have been different and maybe not so diverse. As a woman, I had more barriers to cross. I had more choices and decisions to make and more questions to answer. Just 2 days ago, my daughter asked me again, “Why do you need to work, Mamma?” Her school is closed for summer vacations. Inspite of her vacation she needs to go to day care every day and she gets bored. I understand that. But she did not ask this question to her dad. She is conditioned to see that mummy has stayed at home before for months, but papa had not.
Tell us one thing that you like about Women’s Web and one thing you think we could do better!
I’ve been reading Women’s Web every day from the time of its inception. I had this dream of creating a website for Indian women. I am glad Aparna has conceived the same dream and fulfilled that for so many thousands of ‘thinking Indian women’. I like the simple look of the website embedded with enriched articles. The articles are not factory products but are written from personal experiences. Women’s Web team is doing an excellent job. I look forward to new articles every morning.
Women’s Web has already become part of the reading portfolio of several Indians residing all over the world.
I would like to see more articles on:
Financial issues: including personal stories of buying a residence, buying a car etc
Fiction: It is time Women’s Web includes some fiction. It feels good to read short stories in a magazine.
Work related articles: Women’s Web has been focussing a lot on topics like work from home, part time work, working after a gap, work-life balance and so on. I would like you to bring more articles for women who want to stay there at work and go up. For example, what challenges are faced by women in managerial positions and upwards, how to develop negotiating skills both at home and work?
Health issues: Diabetes, depression, cardiac problem, are some of the many health issues faced by thousands of Indian women. I would like to see Women’s Web picking them up one by one and discussing them in its own way.
Thanks Chandrima! We will keep your suggestions in mind!
*Photo credit: Chandrima Pal.