From period talk, selfie classes and fusion songs to conquering the start up sphere and going for gold, these six women from the state are doing the unconventional everyday.

first_imgTRIPLE WHAMMYPooja Chaurushi, 25, TriathleteThe sea had always attracted Pooja Chaurushi, The Traithlon gold medallist from Surat who dreams of becoming a naval officer one day. Even at a young age, Chaurushi loved a good challenge and took up swimming and Bharatnatyam as extracurricular activities. When she was nine, her,TRIPLE WHAMMYPooja Chaurushi, 25, TriathleteThe sea had always attracted Pooja Chaurushi, The Traithlon gold medallist from Surat who dreams of becoming a naval officer one day. Even at a young age, Chaurushi loved a good challenge and took up swimming and Bharatnatyam as extracurricular activities. When she was nine, her swimming coach realised her potential to become a competitive swimmer and urged her parents to put her into the sport. Since then Chaurushi has never looked back.Picture courtesy: Danesh Jassawala; Location courtesy: Decathlon ApplewoodsSwimming was her gateway to entering the Triathlon world. It is essentially a three-stage competition that requires the competitors to swim, race and cycle. Till she was 15 years-old, Chaurushi had only competed in swimming. In 2006, at the National Aquathlon Championship in Bhopal, she was asked by the local organisers to participate in the run as well as the cycle race. “I was not prepared for this and didn’t even have a bike. I borrowed a bicycle from a labourer working at the site and with that I raced my first triathlon-a 750m swim followed by 20km of cycling and a 5km run-and surprised everyone by winning a gold medal,” she says. Subsequent wins at Guwahati and Vishakhapatnam, with gold medals established that she was fit for this strenuous event and she has since pursued it.Chaurushi is the first Indian woman to win gold at the national level seven times and thrice at the South Asian Trialathon championships with a collection of more than 200 medals, to which she plans to add another from the Asian Triathlon Championship that will take place in April this year. “Eventually this event is going to be the qualifying match for Rio Olympics too,” says Chuarushi with her fingers crossed. A dedicated athlete, Chaurushi looks up to Australian triathlete and Olympian, Emma Snowsill for inspiration. Apart from a rigorous 7 hour training everyday, she also spends her time as a motivational speaker, educating and creating an awareness about sports in the younger generation.FUSION MASTERHimali Vyas Naik, 27, Singer and ComposerUsing the handle of a skipping rope as a makeshift mic, three-year-old Himali Vyas Naik was in the middle of her rendition of a Bollywood song, when a neighbour saw her sing and informed her mother of her “good sense of sur and taal”. The next day she was enrolled for formal training and twenty four years later, there has been no looking back for the singer and composer from Ahmedabad.advertisementPicture courtesy: Mandar DeodharTrained in Mewati and Banaras Gharanas of Indian classical music, Naik, who is also a graduate in English Literature, found that she had an insatiable appetite for learning different forms of music. A formative influence was that of composer AR Rahman, whose song, Kehta hai mera dil from the movie Jeans had a profound impact on her. “Out of all the Raags, Raag ‘jog’ is my favourite. Rahman uses this Raag quite often in his compositions,” says the singer. Her other influences include, composer Sachin Jigar from Bollywood, Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley in jazz and pop.It was after her marriage that she was urged by her husband to study music further. Since she had already aced the Sangeet Visharad, the equivalent of a bachelors degree in music, she now pursued her dream to train in English genres-Rock and Pop at the Trinity College of Music, Mumbai. It isn’t odd to see Naik sing Gujarati folk on stage and then break into an Opera song a few minutes later. Her talent of mastering notes of each style of music leaves many amazed. It is this talent that led her to sing the Americal national anthem at the ‘Glorious Gujarat’ summit in the US in 2015, making her the first ever Gujarati to perform the anthem on American soil.Naik has sung songs in seven Gujarati movies and collaborated with folk artists from around the country. Currently, she is busy composing EDM and other original tracks. Her next stop is Bollywood where she feels the cinema has evolved and paved the way for different voices to enter the industry.CRIMSON CRUSADERAditi Gupta, 31, Co-founder, MenstrupediaWe raise our girls with shame and ignorance,” says Aditi Gupta, co-founder of Menstrupedia, an animated book that aims to educate not just girls but boys and men about menstruation. Gupta, who hails from Garhwa, a small village in Jharkhand, admits to growing up with the belief that that you couldn’t ‘touch the pickle’during your periods-a popular myth in India.Picture courtesy: Danesh Jassawala”I used cloth. Periods were a taboo topic in my family. I couldn’t just go up to the chemist and ask for sanitary napkins” says the communication designer who studied at the prestigeous National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. Change came gradually for Gupta, who got acquainted with the availability of sanitary napkins in the market only when she joined NID. The emotional upheaval and physical pain she faced each month due to mentruation led her to talk about her period to a man for the first time. Tuhin Paul, 31, co-founder of Menstrupedia, Aditi’s husband and then boyfriend at NID, was baffled when he got to know that women bled every month. Paul would read up and guide me about the changes that take place in my body,” says Gupta.advertisementThe couple’s research resulted in a class project where they realised that hygiene, taboos and discomfort weren’t the only issues connected with menstruation. “When girls get their periods, they are at an age when they are most susceptible to gender based violence. There is a larger politics over body and gender that stems from the time when a girl hits puberty,” says Gupta. In 2008, what was then a diploma project, turned into a bonafide business venture with the Ford Foundation funding them a year later.Menstrupedia is an animated guide to womanhood for every girl, meanwhile it makes boys understand and respect a woman’s body by getting to know her physiology. Gupta, now goes to schools to conduct workshops for children and is also spreading the message of the benefits of menstrual cups, a safer and economical alternative to sanitary napkins. Along with her teammates, Tuhin Paul and Rajat Mittal, 30, she now plans to make a guide to periods only for boys.DIGITAL STARAditi Raval, 30, Social Media Influencer and InfotainerAccording to her Klout score, that checks influence a person has through her social media platforms, Aditi Rawal is giving stiff competition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the most influential social media personality in the region. If you are on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook, chances are that you are already acquainted with this ex radio jockey and social media infotainer. “Ask my friends from college and they’ll tell you that I was born to entertain,” says a vivacious Rawal.Picture courtesy: Danesh JassawalaIn 2007, Rawal’s expertise of knowing Ahmedabad inside out scored her a job with a local FM channel. This was the time when Rawal first started using her influence as a radio personality to reach out to her audience. Now with 16000 followers on Twitter, 90,000 on Instagram and 2,80,000 on Facebook, Rawal has become the undisputed conqueror of the social media space in Gujarat. Her movie reviews, anecdotes from her life and views on current affairs are followed religiously by her fans. Rawal, who is a fan of actor Sonakshi Sinha’s snapchat posts also talks about conducting her popular selfie workshop in May last year.The purpose of the workshop was to “teach young girls the art of taking selfies; the right angle, optimum lighting and reflecting the message that one intends to send through theseselfies.” Rawal also had a panel of psychologists and photographers at the workshop. Now Raval has turned into an entrepreneur and will be launching her digital media agency that will be responsible for marketing urban Gujarati films. “The entertainment industry has a lot of potential here. The urban film market may not make fancy commercial movies with 100 crore budgets but they are popular nonetheless,” says the proud Amdavadi.STARTUP WIZARDNeeru Sharma, 36, Co-founder, InfibeamIt’s inside the corporate boardroom, where the gender ratio is usually skewed in favour of men, that Neeru Sharma, co-founder and director of Infibeam, an e-commerce conglomerate, feels the most comfortable. “I never faced discrimination at work, infact I feel being a woman has blessed me with qualities of time management, multitasking and discipline,” says the entrepreneur and mother of two girls.advertisementPicture courtesy: Chandradeep SinghIn 2005, when Sharma decided to get married, she was already a successful computer engineer with a resume that boasted work experience at companies like Tata Consultancy and Alcatel Lucent. But the desire to remain a student led her to apply to management programmes in various colleges abroad. “The three months after marriage, when everyone is enjoying their honeymoon, my husband and I were busy preparing for our GMAT exams,” jokes Sharma. Her husband Anuj Pulstya, 36, who is also an entrepreneur, was her classmate at Carnegie Mellon, US, where the completed their MBA degrees.It was in her first internship post college at Amazon, Seattle that Sharma learnt the ropes of retail finance. “The work culture inspired Vishal Mehta, a colleague, and I decided to set up a similar venture in India,” says Sharma, who is also the face of women led start-ups in the country. Infibeam was founded in 2008 and in 2009, Sharma moved from Seattle to the headquarters in Ahmedabad, a city that Sharma adores for its “culture and sense of belongingness”. Acknowledging the thriving start-up culture in the country, Sharma mentions that while she appreciates the government for easing entry into the business ecosystem, she is also wary of excessive investments into ideas that may not result in adding value to a business. “An entrepreneur must be passionate and take risks. I have always maintained that an entrepreneur never fails, he succeeds or merely grows,” she concludes.SCREEN QUEENNetri Trivedi, 22, ActorNetri Trivedi was born with theatre running in her veins. Her mother was a folk artist and father, an active member of theatre clubs. It became a ritual for Trivedi at a young age, to attend plays and play practices. It was, however, when the actor turned five and had to replace another child in a school play, that Trivedi had her first brush with acting.Picture courtesy: Danesh JassawalaToday, the actor is a household name coutesy her widely popular film Chhello Divas (2015). This coming of age movie, dubbed as one of the first urban Gujarati movie, shows the highs and lows of college life. Trivedi’s role as Esha in the movie, an introvert who is bullied by a guy, is one she can hardly relate to. “People from theatre scene knew me, but now people on the road recognise me as ‘Esha’ from Chhello Divas. This new found stardom is bizarre for me,” admits the 22-year-old who also writes short stories on surrealism whenever she can finds spare time.Trivedi, who is studying Mass Communication from Gujarat University, was all set to become a content writer in an advertising firm, when she started being noticed for her roles in college fests and theatre plays, ‘Kadak Badshahi’ was a critically acclaimed play that helped Trivedi bag her first role in the yet to be launched movie, Paaghadi.”Ahemdabad has an emerging film culture now. This wasn’t the case earlier. Post the success of Gujjubhhai and Chhello Divas, comedy as a film genre has been liked by all. Parallel cinema is yet to be explored,” says the actor. According to Trivedi, patience is the key to surviving as an actor in the region. “I don’t find the need to go to Mumbai and work in Hindi films.I would like to go with the flow for now,” she says, adding that if all fails, she would most probably find herself in advertising as a content writer.last_img

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