The Life and Times of Pragnya

Pragnya Mishra

Pragnya Mishra is an M.Phil. in Anthropology from Utkal University. She also has a post graduation diploma in Rural Management from Xavier Insitute of Management (XIM), Bhubaneswar. Pragnya worked for two years as Research Associate with XIM. She later joined the Agricultural Finance Corporation but quit her job to raise her children.

Pragnya spent 12 wonderful years in South Africa and one year in Dubai. At present Pragnya is a full time homemaker having shifted to India five years ago. She is parenting her three children, a daughter and twin boys, by herself as her husband continues to work in South Africa.

Pragnya is active on social media and is highly respected by her friends and well-wishers.

It was a perfect sunny day in Johannesburg, South Africa. I could feel the warmth of the sunrays through my kitchen. I was in a hurry to finish my cooking before my twins arrived from school. After all, my two 2½ year old tiny tots needed loads of attention.

I usually fed them lunch and put them to sleep before my daughter returned from school. She had not grown up enough to take care of herself all on her own.

Suddenly my phone rang. It was from the school that my twins attended. The lady on the other side very politely informed me that I should meet the principal at once. They had something important to share about my son, Raj.

Stitches of another kind

Madhu Chawla

Dr. Madhu Chawla, a medical professional, graduated from Institute of Medical Sciences, Benaras Hindu University over 40 years ago. Her husband retired from active service last year, and the two adult sons are settled in the USA. Having satisfactorily executed domestic and professional commitments, Madhu now works, on a charitable basis, with three NGOs. Giving back to society, for Madhu, is a dream come true. She also worked with underprivileged children with Times of India, in their Teach India programme for two years.

An emergency call from the factory. The factory of Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, Thane, Maharashtra. The Calcium Sandoz people. From their Medical Clinic where I worked as the Doctor. A lady from the township had fallen and cut her forehead. A 500 meter dash, if it can be called that, and I was there.

The township was small. Only and totally inhabited by skeletal staff who may be needed in the factory post regular working hours. Archana Talukdar was the wife of one such staff member. She was also a good friend of mine. There was a huge playground in the centre of the township. Used by all in the township. The children played in gay abandon. The ladies gravitated to meet each other in what could be best called a common living room. The men joined this motley group on their return from the factory.

The Reluctant President

Tilak Mathur

Tilak Mathur is a PhD in English Literature with specialisation in the British poet and playwright T. S. Eliot. Tilak is very actively engaged with social and charitable work in and around Jaipur. Basically a homemaker, she came into her own as a natural leader when she got an opportunity to lead. She lives in Jaipur with her husband Subhash. She often travels to Ahmedabad and USA where her two sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren live.

In the year 2005 the outgoing President of Indian Revenue Service Ladies Association (IRSLA) at Ahmedabad nominated me as the new President. As I was skceptical of my capabilities I felt that I was the reluctant chosen one. But to my surprise the innings got off to a good start with the support of most members, in particular Mrs. Saroj Bansal, an important office bearer of the Ladies Association.

In all, we were about 20 members of this exclusive club who would organise functions and get together on festivals and other important occasions. Social activities were also on our agenda. With these responsibilities on my shoulders, each festival took on a new meaning.

Their First Lady

Meenakshi Hooja

Meenakshi Hooja is an IAS officer who has served in both Government of India and Government of Rajasthan. She is a published poet in both English and Hindi. She has authored books on Panchayati Raj and tribal development. She was a visiting fellow at Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford (U.K.).

19 May 1984. Place: Sirohi Road railway station. A bright afternoon.

My mother-in-law, two children and six packing cases getting down the train with me and so many unfamiliar yet familiar faces standing at the platform—some holding garlands, some bouquets and the others just staring away—wondering whether the person they are receiving is really their Collector!

I remember this scene vividly as if it was only yesterday. No doubt, it did not happen very long ago to have assumed some of the golden halo of a hoary past, but even so a number of years have passed since I detrained at Sirohi Road with my family to join as Collector and District Magistrate, Sirohi.

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