The mad rush for popular colleges and professional courses, and the clamour for run-of-the-mill careers and a “secure future” don’t seem likely to end anytime soon. For the fairer sex, the usual drill involves studies, followed by a job.

So telling your parents that you want to be a stand-up comedienne isn’t exactly funny. Aditi Mittal’s parents certainly weren’t amused. But Aditi was serious about her career choice — after all, even as a child she constantly found herself entertaining sundry uncles and aunts with her song-and-dance routine. “My favourite childhood memory is of my entire family sitting around my grandmother after Sunday lunch, recounting events from the week gone by and ribbing each other. The sound of laughter makes me feel at home.”

So when Aditi’s mother finally saw her perform at The Comedy Store, a live stand-up comedy series, in Mumbai, she understood at last. “You tell jokes!” she laughed.

Wider exposure gained through the electronic media, coupled with a newfound sense of freedom and courage to take on challenges, appears to be nudging a steadily growing number of young women towards offbeat career choices. Foreign travel, which is easier today, has contributed to greater awareness about different careers, says Chhaya Momaya, Image Consultant, Pagoda Advisors.

Except perhaps copywriters, who get their creative juices flowing even when cooped up in their workstation, the thinking-out-of-the-box types prefer not to be walled in by office cubicles and structured tasks.

Seema Jindal Jajodia moved away from her family business to launch her own line of Nourish Organics. “Organic and preservative-free foods are the way forward for a disease-free life. It’s kinder on our planet and our bodies. It’s always going to be my pursuit to bring quality health products to our urban population. All our raw material is mainly sourced within India. And we support a lot of women’s self-help groups,” says Seema.

Whoever could have thought that your favourite cuppa can turn you into a global businesswoman? Ami Bhansali did. Currently promoting Chai Diaries, her organic tea brand, in Manhattan, she believes that “tea as an industry is profitable globally, and interest in it is constantly growing... my company’s name is a blend of the loveable Indian word chai (tea) and the personal emotions associated with writing a diary or journal.”

Having spent many summers on her dad’s tea plantations, Ami was a “cool” coffee drinker as part of her ‘rebellious’ side. But when “cool” was replaced with “chic”, she realised the health benefits associated with tea.

“Delving deeper into the basics, I realised that tea is hip, fashionable and fun, and highly underplayed. The opportunity was staring me in the face and I had to “cup” it. While coffee has always been promoted as an activity over conversation, tea is an extension of an individual’s personality, an intimate activity enjoyed in one’s own company or a room full of friends...”

While Ami takes chai abroad, Sovna Puri educates Indians on the pleasures of different wines as the Deputy General Manager (Marketing) at Sula Vineyards and head of its tastings and training division.

Being a sommelier was certainly not a conventional career choice for a woman in a country that mostly frowned on her for drinking alcohol.

But the dynamic Sovna successfully pursued advanced courses in wine education at the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, London. “Wine has always been my passion, and this is what I always wanted to do since the time I studied wine as a subject in my hotel management course,” she says, adding that she cannot imagine herself in any other field.

She enjoys the great learning experience in her chosen field: “It has taught me how to cope and deal with various people and situations. I look for positivity around me, and am inspired by hard-working people.”

(This article was published on September 20, 2012)
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