Lean on me

On International Women’s Day, five women from Delhi-NCR share the lessons they’ve learnt from the women in their lives who play the role of muse, mentor, confidante or cheerleader

Published: 08th March 2022 10:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2022 12:05 PM   |  A+A-

Women Power Image used for Representational Purpose. ( File Photo)

Women Power Image used for Representational Purpose. ( File Photo)

By Express News Service


Chef Megha Kohli, executive chef at Cafe Mez, has looked up to Chef Manisha Bhasin (Corporate Chef, ITC Hotels) since the day she became a chef. “Manisha has been at the top of her game in this industry for almost three decades. She made her mark in a male-dominated profession about 30 years ago, when women in the [professional] kitchen were even lesser than what the ratio is now. Not to forget, she led one of the largest hotel groups,” says Kohli. She adds that Manisha has done this with “sheer hard work”. Kohli also talks about the mentorship Manisha provides to young girls entering the hospitality industry, “She has always given them an equal platform as the men.” An advice Manisha once gave to Kohli was ‘If you want to be treated like an equal, don’t expect special concessions at work just because you are a girl’. Another life lesson she recalls is Manisha telling her, “Never shy away from asking for the salary that you deserve, with full confidence.This advice has proved helpful to me.”


Bhavna Kakar was a student at MS University, Baroda, when she met Indian artist Rekha Rodwittiya. Kakar, who is an art historian and the founder of Latitude 28, recalls, “Rekha identifies herself as an artist and feminist. Meeting her when I was pursuing my MA in Art History made quite the impression on me, given her articulate personality. She was amongst the first women artists practising in the contemporary space I had the opportunity to interact with.” Rekha’s art has been “paving the way for other women artists even today”. Kakar shares, “Her art depicts everyday life through which she examines the world at large; the images abound in powerful imagery of confident women, fertility symbols, and more.” We asked Kakar the takeaways from Rekha’s life. “Faith in oneself and being fearless; Rekha is one of those women who seek perfection, and that pursuit is something she aspires to in all her endeavours. The grit to achieve it is something the women of today would desire,” she concludes.


For fashion designer Nida Mahmood, veteran TV anchor Salma Sultan has always been “the epitome of grace and beauty”. Mahmood elaborates, “Her diction, her presence, her signature flower always charmed me. The way she dressed and the way she carried herself with utmost elan was something to aspire for. As a child, I was always attracted to the essence of design and style, fashion, and everything t h a t i n v o l v e s creativity.” Mahmood talks about how Salma has been the perfect muse f o r h e r, “ S a l m a aunty’s eternal grace has always been her USP. She is a natural. Even today, she is a complete head-turner. She is the perfect example of, ‘real beauty reflects from within’. I aspire to age as gracefully as she has.” The designer goes on to highlight why Salma’s “never-say-die spirit is very addictive”. Mahmood concludes, “When I set out to create my brand ‘Madam Marigold’, I felt she was the perfect muse. It was amazing working with her. Her sense of being is something that is inspiring.”


Theatre artist Mallika Taneja regards veteran thespian Maya Krishna Rao as a source of inspiration. Taneja shares, “Maya has decades of work under her belt—work that I consider far ahead of its time. She is forever searching, pushing the boundaries of performance, and expanding the definition of theatre through her work. She has created a path for many younger women artists. In fact, many of us now jump into independent solo work because she has shown us that it is possible and, more importantly, needed. Maya has seen a potential in me that I could not have seen for myself.” The one lesson Taneja says she learnt from Maya is the importance of taking risks. Taneja elaborates, “Maya plays with form endlessly and is constantly breaking what we have been taught are ‘rules’ of theatre. I have learnt from her that we can make our own rules.” Talking about how Maya always encourages women to uplift other women, she concludes, “Maya has taught me to never close my doors when it comes to other women artists… to not see them as competitors but as comrades.”


There is no one woman that I can name who has inspired me. Every day I meet and work with strong, talented, and extremely awe-inspiring women,” mentions singer, songwriter and actor Sanjeeta Bhattacharya. When we insisted she name one woman who inspires her, Bhattacharya mentioned city-based singer Kamakshi Khanna. “Kamakshi is not only immensely talented but also super driven. She puts in the hard work and knows that it is the only way to realise your dreams. You have to be greedy about your dreams and you should want them now and while you are at it, be grounded and be humble.” Doling out the important lessons she’s learnt from Kamakshi, Bhattacharya adds, “The lesson I have learnt from her: Once you have dreamt of something, you have to put in the grind to realise that dream and another is of course, stay grounded and be patient with yourself.” Bhattacharya concludes, “I would also like to mention two other women who have inspired me—singers Amira Gill and Annette Philip.”


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