With the world at her feet Anu S Chaudhary is riding high
Anu Singh Choudhary, a Communications Consultant, Documentary Filmmaker, Writer, Editor, Translator and Blogger all rolled into one. A compulsive multitasker, Anu writes columns on women and youth empowerment, weaves radio stories for Yaadon Ka Idiot Box with Neelesh Misra.
We talk to Anu, about her journey and her maiden book ‘Neela Scarf’ which release 3rd September
I should have been born as a fancy free gypsy, or a Siberian Crane. But since I had no control over what I would be born as, I decided to take control of my life instead. Now, this kind of profound wisdom comes only once you are 35, and when you have pretty much learned to deal with the roller-coaster ride life takes you through. So, here is who I am... A small-town girl who grew up into a fairly confused young woman in Delhi, got married when she was in equally confused state of mind, and became of mum of twins at 27 (motherhood, however, was the only thing I was sure of). In between these personal challenges, I chose to study literature (while everyone else around me was pursuing something much more professional, and fancier); went on to study Journalism (why, I still wonder); worked with a leading news channel (or rather, earned a living); and turned into a writer-translator-editor-communications consultant by default (largely because I couldn't acquire any other skill). I now write and translate primarily in Hindi, and would want to continue writing in Hindi for the rest of my life, mostly because by now I have figured that I am true to myself only when I am thinking and writing in my mother tongue.
Communication consulting, writing, editing, translation, blogger and a mother, how do you juggle all the roles at the same time?
Because I have no other choice. Or rather because THIS was my choice. Each role is an extension of the other, and each role pushes me to perfect the other role. Frankly, I will feel quite inadequate if any of the above identity is taken away from me!
You started your career with a news organization, a lot has changed since then, after you had kids how did you make the transition work for you?
I was fortunate to be in a news organisation which valued its team members, and was particular about individual growth as well. Ours was an office full of women who handled News Room chaos and their families with as much dexterity. Things have changed not only in the News Room, but outside of it as well. It has become much more competitive and cut throat as it was 10 years ago. As for me, the transition from News Room to being in kids' room 24x7 wasn't smooth at all. I had terrible withdrawal symptoms. At least seven times in my seven years of separation from TV News, I have BADLY wanted to get back. But one learns to let go, and one definitely learns to prioritise. The other trick that worked for me was this simple mantra called 'gratitude'. Every time my head cribbed about peers who earned several times more, traveled to fancy places, broke big stories and always looked ravishing on screen, my heart reminded me of things I had - flexibility to work on things I REALLY wanted to do, being available for kids after school, having the leisure of spending time with in-laws and parents, catching up with friends on a weekday... These small things define your lifestyle, and these are the luxuries I base my decisions on - to be able to work or take a break whenever I want. To be able to do whatever I want to do. And also, to be able to make peace with the fact that it is absolutely okay if you aren't earning big bucks. Be happy and grateful that you are living with your head held high, and you are living in peace.
‘Neela Scarf’ and the inspiration behind it
'Neela Scarf' is a collection of 12 short stories I wrote over six years. Some of these stories had been published in literary magazines, and I compiled what I thought were stories I would want my kids to read when they grew up. These stories come from the different worlds I have lived in, or have experienced in some way or the other: a village in Siwan, an elite suite in Mumbai, a doctor's chamber in Kolkata, a PG accommodation in Delhi, a train compartment, a school in Ranchi and so forth. The inspiration came from a myriad characters I have seen, observed and lived with. These stories could be anyone's stories - yours or mine. The only difference is, I found the courage to tell these stories while you have kept them in incubation inside you.
Your next project
A film script for a children's film. And another book - Mamma ki Diary, a memoir on raising twins (and yet managing to remain sane!)
An advice you will give to all women in journalism.
Not only to women in Journalism, but to all women. Identify your biggest challenge, and turn it into your biggest opportunity. That's the key. And hang in there. Things will look up. You don't want to believe that right now, but it will. Trust me. If I could survive chaos, confusion, disorientation and intense desire of quitting (or running away), so can you!