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A woman with her roots in Bihar but a fascination for South Indian heritage, meet Ruchi Pritam, culture and travel writer.
A History & Law Graduate from Delhi University, as well as an MBA holder from Madras University, it is nonetheless the writer tag that Ruchi Pritam treasures the most.
A bank-empaneled lawyer who has taught at several MBA institutions as a visiting faculty, Ruchi has always had a fascination for Indian art, temples, and culture that has led her to travel and write on the various architectural wonders of India. Her published books include, Journey Through India’s Heritage, and The Little Brown Girl: A collection of Short Stories.
A Bihari in terms of roots, Ruchi’s husband is an IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu state cadre, and it was during her life in the southern state that she chose to become a writer for life. She says that writing has helped her to create an identity as an individual and grow beyond the traditional roles of daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, and become part of various groups.
“My mother’s words ring deep – what remains after a person leaves this world is their writings”, says Ruchi while talking to me, and I can ‘hear’ her smile as she says this.
Ruchi Pritam shares her thoughts as a woman and a writer whose work revolves around heritage and culture.
What drew you towards history and architecture?
I was always fascinated by the temples and ancient monuments of India. This fascination led me to pursue a History honours from Delhi University along with my professional law degree.
After my marriage to an officer based in the Tamil Nadu cadre, I moved to the South and have been here for over 25 years now. My inherent curiosity was ignited after I was exposed to the magnificent ancient temples of Tamil Nadu. Travel became an integral part of our family’s annual events.
When I was in my mid-thirties, I was hit by a chronic ailment that slowly created limitations to my lifestyle. With time I had to cut down on teaching legal papers to management students and my work as a panel lawyer in banks due to my deteriorating condition.
Staying positive helped me face these debilitating personal challenges head-on and slowly helped me rediscover my passions. I found my inner self telling me to go ahead, start writing and sharing.
Has being a woman been a challenge in the pursuit of your passion? How do you bring about work-life harmony as a mother and the wife of a busy, top official in the Government?
Challenges are ever-present. Having to move to Tamil Nadu and shift residence ever so often due to the transferable nature of my husband’s job led to many obstructions in my own professional growth. I was aware of these challenges and it made me and my children more resilient.
Both your books are worlds apart – how do you process your thoughts for each book/genre you write in?
I have been writing on varied topics on my blog. Social media ensured easy sharing of my articles and short stories amongst family and friends. My writings on temples and heritage were appreciated by well-known Indologists and writers on Indic themes.
What started as a way of sharing my research and personal experiences, slowly turned into me writing my first book – Journey through India’s Heritage. It is a detailed illustrative account of some of the significant heritage monuments in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha. At present, I am working on part II of this series.
My second published book is titled The Little Brown Girl. This book is a compilation of short stories about the adventures and misadventures of a little Indian girl who goes to a foreign land. The stories portray a vivid description of a child’s innocence, helping her to navigate through the challenging landscape of an alien land.
All my writings come from my inherent passion and my own personal experiences, helping me to create literary pieces that are easily relatable and have been highly appreciated.
What, in your opinion, is unique about books that are authored by women?
Most of what we view today, in the form of art or media is curated by men. While one might not realize it easily, a woman’s view of society today is often overlooked and it doesn’t become part of the mainstream. One can only wonder what we would see around us if the media was curated by women.
Written words have been a tool for women to express themselves for years now. It is a wonderful medium to tell stories with a female perspective, something both men and women today aren’t too well exposed to. Thanks to the internet and the flourish of social media, these are times where views, ideas, and experiences can be easily shared with the world.
Personally, it has been a liberating and fulfilling experience for me and I hope others too will find joy and knowledge in my work.
Why in your opinion should mothers never stop finding their voices and give up their passion?
Women are often made to believe that being a mother or a wife, and a good one too, is their primary role in society. While it is known that family comes first, it is important for women and mothers to live for more than just their families. Passions are what drive us and make us feel fulfilled.
It is important for mothers (even those not working outside the home) to be expressive and continue to pursue the small and big things they enjoy doing. It could be a part-time job or simply pursuing a hobby like cooking, painting, gardening, etc, things that help make one feel complete.
Small steps taken by mothers now will encourage future generations to work towards a society that is fairer to women.
Images source: Ruchi Pritam
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