Most Bangaloreans perhaps would recognize her voice instantly. It might be not too long enough if she isn’t already but someone to be known as a recognizable face and mind on the national level too.
She is someone who has literally submerged in diverse careers and managing it beautifully. Meet Vasanthi Hariprakash, an independent journalist, trainer, speaker, media strategist, someone who knows the pulse of radio, television and digital media.
She is also an entrepreneur at Pickle Jar and made Bangalore proud by hosting the ‘Smita Patil film festival’ a few months ago.
On very few occasions, perhaps she has spoken on her personal side especially where the slightest hint vulnerability is shown. However mums are the same everywhere and we thank Vasanthi for sharing this honest perception on the journey.
Her social media posts on her family and herself undoubtedly strike a chord with thousands but we surely got interested when she spoke on her son who was going to take a choice in pursuing further studies.
We at Mums and stories are proud to present this journey shared by an inspiring mum and individual.
“I have almost always been in jobs whether at the newspaper as a chief sub-editor, radio station as the breakfast show RJ or national television as correspondent – when festivals are no guaranteed holidays. It is quite the opposite – you are working harder to do special shows for listeners or bringing out special editions!
I never planned on careers. I often hashtag on my social media posts, it generally has been I only #gowherelifetakes & #takewhatlifegives.
With Anirudh, my son, I was very keen and concerned that he shouldn’t grow up to be a kid either with grand notions of life or be in the shadows of people’s perception about me or my career, as I was in pretty highly visible (or audible?!) jobs on the radio and television.
I recall Anirudh, then in 4th standard, once coming home to proudly announce that his class teacher had said before the class holding up a newspaper that had carried my interview, “Anirudh, get me your mother’s autograph.” I explained to him it was very sweet of her to say so and I indeed work hard to do the show, but even if his teacher is the best teacher in Bangalore but people won’t know. It is just that his mom is on a job on the radio where an entire city is listening to her.”
I believe it is essential to normalize one’s own jobs and career; be careful not to choose a line of education for your child but to say it’s better to be good at whatever you choose to be.
With Anirudh, just after his Xth boards, I took him up one evening to our house terrace which is where he and I have our fights and most profound conversations – and told him loftily, “Whether you want to take up literature, arts, carpentry.. I am with you..” only to be stopped gently by the teen, “Ma I want to do industrial engineering.” And I was like, ‘po da, such a waste of my liberalism!
But yes that’s what he wanted to do, and all my husband and I did was to just be there for him. It was not easy, the grades first time round were not good enough to get into the college of his choice, but he told me he wanted to take a gap year and try all over again. Wasn’t easy, but is totally worth it – to help your child pursue her/his dream.”
For someone who advises thousands on taking up careers, is usually seen in colleges and educational institutions as a mentor, talks on women empowerment, encourages individuals to try new pursuits in life-giving it the best, it surely wouldn’t be easy to talk about your own child’s decision that is risky.
We are sharing an excerpt of a post Vasanthi wrote on her social media page regarding her decision to back her son for a gap year.
As shared earlier on Vasanthi’s social media page:
“Did you see I put out a picture & post the day before, sharing the good news in my life?
It was of me with Anirudh, my son, who enters college this August 1 to begin a brand new life-phase – as a hostelite 400 km away from home:(( – for a course he had told me the first time while he was a tenth grader that he wanted to do: Industrial engineering.
While each of those hundreds of Likes on the picture and every of your warm wishes still coming in, gladden my mommy heart, I can tell you one thing: This time, last year, I wasn’t exactly smiling. At least not this widely.
Anirudh hadn’t got great grades in his boards, not the kind of grades in the era of centum scores, which meant he didn’t get the course he wanted, in the college that he wanted. He and I went visiting to a few engineering colleges and when we came out of one reputed one in Bangalore, he told me while I was trying to start the car, “Amma, can you & Appa give me one year? I want to reappear for all my exams next year. I want to get in, only on my own merit.”
I too was relieved – in fact proud deep inside – that he did not let me go the route that led to the dreadful donation seat.
Just one year of faith is all he sought. And in that one year, he would discover himself better than in any paid up personality development course I could foresee..
Promised easier. Once back home, discussions, arguments flowed. “Too risky, when you show your bio data how will you explain the 1-year break”. “This is 12th standard my dear, the ultimate. It will stay on your cv all your life.” “It is aaall good for America, here marks matter..get into any course for now, gap not good.” The spouse and the close family had their rightful worries.
Friends had advice for me too: “You should listen to kids only so much. What will he know? As a mother you should take a stand sometimes and say no.. ”
The ‘Gap Year’ – as it’s fashionably called I figured out – proved to be a long one. Pouring over books he had already read a year back must have been so terribly boring, that too studying all alone without the joy of a classroom, staying motivated to wait out the next 8 months. For Hari & me, it was the answering part.
Well meaning friends who want to know “So how much did your son score? What course did he get into?” . But you know what. I discovered that it is fine when you tell your circles plainly without any shame or embarrassment, People understand.
Of course it may have been a lot harder for the two grandmothers but they didn’t let their anxieties get to the boy once. I was in fact at some time liking the fact that Anirudh now had some time as he had no school, to do his favourite football training & workouts. And he did.
What helped greatly was the unstinted support from his teachers especially his principal of DPS North Manju Arif whose words were such solace to me when I know of schools that make life miserable for 12th boarders: “Don’t worry.. Can you imagine what it must be like for him, a thousand neurons must be bombarding that young head.. Let’s not make it tougher for the kids” That compassion is what we need in our education today!
When the exam marathon came, re-appearing, re-paying fees, re-going to exam centres in back of the beyond, and the re-writing. Not easy on us as suspense mounted how he would fare, not easier at all on the teen though we were dying to ask him & resisted big time to check, “So how did the exam go this time?”
The toughest bit I sensed though he didn’t mention, was of his own classmates going ahead with their own lives and courses some here some abroad, checking out of good intent no doubt on whatsapp etc, “So dude how is it going? Any help bro, just ask”.
Cut to the chase, when the mail from Manipal hit my mailbox the same time as his, “Dear Anirudh, you have been selected.. ” we mother & son quietly & deeply hugged, and I told him what I had told him more than once through the year.
Dreams, sometimes, take their own sweet time in coming true. As parents, you not only need to be there for your kids, you need to be ‘with them’ too.
Vasanthi further shares on the people who even now continue to inspire her, “ In many quiet ways, my grandmother – Padmini paati, mom’s mom who is now 94, with whom I grew up as a child in her huge tree laden old house in the-then Madras. I admire and am inspired by how she always let people just be, never judged. And to this day when she is frail, she yet makes herself productive.
My mother-in-law, Usha amma, to accept life and not rant. My father the late Vijay Sarathy – who didn’t know the meaning of ‘crib’. Happy go lucky & joyous like a child, always to his last day. My mother, who I can never match in her dynamism & ‘aage ki soch’ – my sister and I call her Vishwanathan Vaidehi – as she is always five steps ahead in her thinking and actions.”
As a parting shot, she shares, “I see parents give their kids the best toys, super gifts, luxurious resort holidays, mall outings, books – but I wish more parents would give themselves and the children the other dimension, an empathy (not sympathy mind you) towards and to understand those around us who work for us but whom we take totally for granted.
To live life light and malice-free, to share moments with, reach out to people and to take them along, is the joy of life’s journey. “
We surely hope this story will reach out to mums and fathers too who need that assurance on holding the child’s hand just in case he or she is planning a different route generally otherwise dictated by society.
Mums and stories wishes Vasanthi the very best in life and hopes she continues to inspire others as she always does.