A: I was always a meritorious student and a good reader. In our times, there were not too many options and anyone who was good at studies would either become a doctor or an engineer. I always wanted to be a doctor. It was a profession for which there was little resistance from the family and the marriage could be delayed without too much fuss.
Q: Work Life Balance is a challenge for most corporate women, being a doctor it’s even more difficult to manage the scenario as you work on a pattern which has unscheduled work hours, so how difficult is it to strike a balance?
A: I am an Anesthesiologist and a significant part of my work involves attending emergencies. I get called out at any time of the day or night, hence I can never sure that I will be available for any party, celebration or occasion. But this is part and parcel of my profession. Having gone through almost every stage of career I can say that one needs to identify the priority and act accordingly. You have to be ready to take tough decisions. My husband was in the Merchant Navy and away from home for significant periods. Thus I needed to give priority to my children and I took a break from work for almost 5 years. Coming back to mainstream was an equally challenging task as I had to re-learn a lot and start from scratch as the techniques and medications had undergone a remarkable change. Things got back on track slowly and only because I had supportive In-laws and Colleagues.
Q: What is the best and worst decision you had made?
A: The best decision of my life was to have children. At that point of time, I already had a good career and having children meant taking a back seat, because everyone else in the family was also working and I couldn’t depend on them. But today when I look back I feel that I wouldn’t have enjoyed my career as I do today, if my children were not around. Taking a break, starting again from scratch and sticking by to establish myself all over again, all of this makes complete sense. In fact I feel the break allowed me to enjoy a different world with children’s parties, travelling with my husband, reading, trekking, gardening and cooking which would otherwise be impossible if I had clung on to my career. I would not have been able to do justice to my children or my career.
Q: What were the challenges you faced and beliefs you had to break to grow further in life?
A: My husband had very conservative beliefs. He served in Merchant Navy used to be away for long duration. I had to take most decisions, for myself and the family, in my own capacity. The most fights between us were over the way I had raised the children, he always believed that children should be brought up strictly while I had a more liberal approach. Children would challenge and resist his dominance. Initially I tried to play the role of a moderator but then I realized that it was important that my husband and children interacted more to understand each other’s perspective and accept each other’s views.
I also found that it was tough to persuade my husband to the fact that even though he is on a leave I had to go to work. In fact I would always be late coming home. I had a wonderful mother in law who supported me through thick and thin and I could manage most of the situations as she was there for me.
Q: Can you give us some tips which will help women overcome their challenges and follow their dreams?
A: In spite of the hype of liberalization of women, it is not given to us on a platter. Each one of us has to liberate ourselves from our own situations. Each woman has her own unique challenges at home and work. Support of the family has to be won with giving in, bending forward, sacrificing, caring and loving. Patience and time that one puts in usually develops into respect for what we do. Only a few lucky women have it all their way, most of us have to work harder to keep up a career.
Whatever are the challenges every woman must strive to be self-sufficient. Personal dreams are the essence of one’s existence. Persistence is the key to achieving them.
Children are primarily a woman’s responsibility and their safety and security must not be neglected in pursuit of a career. Good family relationships are the pillars which support us when we are balancing responsibilities of a career and children.