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Mira Saraf writes with candour and insight on her experiences, whether it is with setting up home as a single woman or dating toxic men. She believes in the power of writing to start a conversation around important issues.
Women’s Web is powered by an incredible community of (now) 3000 contributors, who bring their experiences, views and knowledge to share with others in the community. Every month, we recognise three of them as the Authors of the Month. This June 2018, Mira Saraf is one of our three Featured Authors of the Month. You can find Mira’s writing here at Women’s Web, and also at her own blog, Scribblemarks.
Authors are often asked this question, but everyone has their own reasons, very personal to them. So, why do you write?
It is part therapy, part love of the craft and yes, partly an inherent narcissism that every writer has, but few admit to! In all seriousness, I’ve written since I was a little girl, and it’s become a part of who I am – so I cannot quite imagine a life without it. It’s gotten to the point that I start to feel cranky if I don’t do it for a long time, so I try and make sure I get some writing in every day.
Forums like Women’s Web have also become a great way for us writers to connect with others over similar or shared experiences. There’s no better feeling than knowing that something you went through and struggled with, resonates with others, and it somehow makes you feel less alone in the challenges you must overcome in your day-to-day existence. Sometimes you can bring fresh perspectives to something negative – for example, learning to laugh at your incredibly bad luck, rather than letting it get you down.
If I can learn to laugh at myself a little bit, perhaps others can as well, and we’d overall be a bit happier as a society.
What do you enjoy reading? Does any of it help your writing?
I enjoy reading almost everything except romance. I’m more of a fiction junkie than non-fiction but I do read a bit of both. Reading is an escape for me – a chance to get out of the real world. As a kid I would read lots of murder mysteries and horror, but as an adult, I’ve become a bit more varied in my selection. I have also started to enjoy science-fiction and fantasy when it is done well. I believe all writers should read – it opens up your perspective to forms of expression and it is inspiring to see and witness powerful story-telling. Most times when I finish a really good book, it reminds me that I have so long to go in my craft so I had better start practicing! (haha!)
When it comes to writing on/for/about women, what questions and issues drive you the most?
I think issues of gender identity are something that are still so much a focus today, and as we progress from our previous caveman-esque (is this a word or did I make that up?) mentalities, they become more nuanced and subtle. We are starting to move past very traditional attitudes towards gender which is a really good thing! But we still have more challenges, and I really think we need to focus on conversations and negotiation rather than pointing fingers.
When we start blaming, we just end up making everyone defensive and that stops the dialogue. When this happens, it hinders openness to learning and awareness, and figuring out ways we can truly work towards equality. The onus is on both men and women to make these changes, but we need to talk about it and make sure we are achieving something productive.
Could you narrate an issue or incident in your life which you think was gender related, and you handled it in a way that has made you proud.
After a harrowing experience with a married business contact I learned that in certain fields of work, the people that we as women interact with, can overstep boundaries. In the previous case this individual, a father of three, decided we had a special connection and messaged incessantly to the point of hysteria, and I finally was forced to block him. Following this, I had another contact request that we become friends.
These are things that do not generally happen to my male colleagues, and I refused him politely but bluntly enough that he would understand I was serious. Up until then I was worried about hurting someone’s feelings, but I realized that in some situations you just have to be extremely straightforward – and that spares everyone a lot of trouble.
What are the things you would like to write about in the future for Women’s Web?
I would love to keep sharing personal anecdotes: both humorous and serious, and be able to share parts of my life and experiences that have taught me lessons. In addition, I’d also like to do more travel writing (which means I have to start taking vacation days to, well, travel!).
I think discovery and learnings from new places is definitely writing that I enjoy – and it would be amazing to do it on this platform. I’m really thankful to Women’s Web for giving me a platform to share all my silly little ideas about life!
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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