Reviews

Balancing acts

Devi, Diva or She-Devil: The Smart Career Woman’s Survival Guide
Sudha Menon
Penguin Random House
₹499

Devi, Diva or She-Devil: The Smart Career Woman’s Survival Guide Sudha Menon Penguin Random House ₹499  

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Dealing with mother’s guilt at the workplace and more

For women who have found fulfilment and success at the workplace — and happily today there are multitudes of them — the transition from homemaker to successful career women who seek more from life as they chase their individual dreams, is far from easy.

The journey is as full of excitement and adventure as it is replete with naysayers, chauvinists and doubting Thomases! And we haven’t even begun talking about the deep guilt that kicks in every time she has to choose between taking care of the kids and doing justice to her work.

Given that there is little to draw from the experiences of previous generations on how best to negotiate your way through this battlefield and survive to tell the tale, a book that puts into perspective issues that confront working women, is clearly the need of the day.

Devi, Diva or She-Devil, Sudha Menon’s newest and fourth book, enunciates over a dozen trouble areas that women who opt to chase their dreams usually encounter. ‘Ambition is not a bad word’, one chapter declares, another offers counsel on ‘How to stay on track’, while still another minces no words when it admonishes ‘Don’t talk to my chest, I have a face!’ Tellingly, the longest chapter in the book concerns ‘Dealing with mother’s guilt.’

Through conversations with a slew of toppers from across disciplines, Menon makes a strong and interesting narrative on dealing with several issues that commonly confront career women. The comforting news is that each of them has faced most of them, so a peek into how they dealt with them is both insightful and educative.

Nisaba Godrej, executive director, Godrej Consumer Products, confesses that practically no one took her seriously in her early days at Godrej because she was young and a greenhorn. “The first step is to roll up your sleeves and work hard. Also be tenacious because you are going to get knocked down. If you get off that horse, you are done. Game over. You have to stay on that horse,” is her indisputable advice.

Olympic medal-winning Mary Kom reveals how both men and women in her village ridiculed her, sneering that she would neither make a career in boxing nor be able to sustain a family with her ‘strange’ career choice. She stuck to her chosen path and the rest, as they say, is history.

Amongst others, thespian and actor Lillete Dubey, film maker Farah Khan, sports correspondent Sharda Ugra, banker Kalpana Morparia, IT head honcho Aruna Jayanthi and author Sudha Menon herself share their stories, the challenges they faced and how they solved problems that seem to keep popping up along the way. The clincher is that each of them triumphed despite some serious odds.

Menon’s style of writing is lucid, and she gets across her point with clarity. In addition to a very interesting read, the book can indeed be a handy prop for working women to accomplish the tough balancing act between home and the work place.

Devi, Diva or She-Devil: The Smart Career Woman’s Survival Guide; Sudha Menon, Penguin Random House, ₹499.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 10:21:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/balancing-acts/article19697751.ece

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