Energy, Enthusiasm, Full of Life, are the few words that seem to be synonymous with a Dynamic woman named HIRA MEHTA. Truly an inspiration for all of us…. Here’s her story…
The day had dawned to say goodbye to 38 years of working at the bank, the day to say it’s time to sit back and retire. Retire? I was just 58 but not ready to hang my boots up. Ominous but true that it had to be the 31st of December! So here I was home on January 1st while the whole world was rejoicing was experiencing withdrawal symptoms, missing my desk at work and thinking what next.
I remembered completing my diploma in secretarial science from Sir J.J. School of Commerce and joined ICICI Limited (financial institution) in 1975 and being handpicked for the newly formed Corporate Communications Department of the ICICI Bank in 2000. I loved my job profile which included co-ordinating the Annual Report from various content providers within the bank and its 17 subsidiaries to completion. My passion for the films was duly satisfied at that time working on the bank’s e-magazine collating stories, basic scripting, production & post production co-ordination and organizing dubbing & shoots. I had the privilege of co-ordinating single-handed two annual events, viz. the ICICI Bank- Madras Music Academy Festival at Chennai and ICICI Bank – Siddharth Mehta Festival of Arts held in co-ordination with NCPA, Mumbai from finalizing programmes to arrangements at the venue to final show. Organizing the annual off-site for the department from seminar to sight-seeing during the offsite was demanded of me by my colleagues.
Passionate about events which I helped co-ordinate in the bank, it was not surprising, that one fine day I walked into the National Institute of Event Management in 2003 and shocked the principal asking to take up the diploma course considering that I was 49 years old then. I was allowed to join with an understanding of no job guarantee and it was the best learning experience that I ever had; where I even got to be backstage for two film award ceremonies. I went on to take a certificate in Voiceover & Dubbing from Sugar Mediaz, Mumbai in 2004 and was invited to conduct a workshop on corporate etiquette for its students. Being invited as a speaker at the 3rd Edition Exclusive Conference for Secretaries, Administrative Professionals and Executive Assistants organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Mumbai in September 2010 was a feather in my cap.
It was at the bank that I met my husband Chintan and our inter caste marriage was accepted way back in 1976 with open arms by both families and today are parents of a son and daughter, with a wonderful daughter-in-law and grandchildren too. Life was routine those days with struggling to keep up with the ever changing servants looking after the kids while I went to work. Did I ever regret not being home for the kids during their growing years? Sure I did, but I did not have a choice as we had a home loan on our head, so made the best of it. With the same struggles of motherhood and fulfilling my son’s dream to become a pilot (which was a nightmare in itself) it was when we moved to Lokhandwala Complex that I truly found myself with full support from my hubby and kids.
I was always a very film crazy person and loved organizing events so it was a no brainer when one evening after attending an event in the Lokhandwala complex I volunteered to help the Samarth Nagar Lokhandwala Residents Association that works for the betterment of the locality and its residents. Today, I am a committee member of the Association (since 2008) and also trusted to single handedly organize an evening of entertainment for an audience of over thousand residents on Maharashtra Day as convener. As founder and Hon.Secretary of “Arunima” the women’s wing of the Association, created to actively address various issues concerning women, I organize monthly awareness programmes and workshops.
So what did I do after retirement apart from all my on-going social activities? Simple, I took up a job with Quadrum Solutions Limited, Mumbai (a design and content solutions company) and concluded a 3-month project from May 2013 to August 2013 before giving it up. My profile including handling Tata Steel Annual Report co-ordination with the officials of the company, and shifting of the Quadrum office to its new premises that included completion of all civil aspects and set up in time to ensure smooth transition to new premises. I soon realised that I was not get free time for activities that I enjoyed and despite the fact that I enjoyed the job I decided to give it up. I now freelance from home writing profiles of local heroes/celebrities for Times of India in their local editions of Lokhandwala, Kandivili, Mira Road, etc. and for a locally circulated paper Planet Juhu (distribution: Juhu-Oshiwara-Versova belt) (planetjuhu.blogspot.com). I also take up transcribing interviews from MP3 audio to Word documents. My love for acting has now been fulfilled working for friends and continues till date. A short film: ”Stranger” (http://youtu.be/4r0soV9R_J0) and two other short films as also voicing for a cartoon, English lessons for Vodafone mobile services, and an off camera interviewer for a corporate interview form a part of my resume today. 12 years of learning dance at the Shaimak Davar Institute of Performing Arts ended with my enthusiastic hip-hopping into giving me a bad knee pain. I am part of two upcoming films titled “Balls” and “Sabki Bajegi Band” directed by RJ Anirudh as a small shareholder and have even attended the 12th River to River Indian Film Festival at Florence in December 2012 as part of the team to represent the film “Balls” at its first ever theatre screening at the festival. Over the past three years, I have been writing short stories and facing the daunting task of finding a way to publish them soon.
When I look back, I see myself winner of the Mumbai Region at the Secretary & Administrative Professional of the Year Contest 2010 organized byIASAP. I see my work profile at the bank with number of achievements and happy moments such as the corporate gifts portfolio with the most appreciated gift being the song collection of old Hindi Music CDs set into different themes by me. I fondly remember the 4 years at Saturday Kids Club as part of a three member team handling a very unique concept for kids of the staff of the Bank for four years without missing a single Saturday. It gives me immense satisfaction and high when today my colleagues say that their children often think of me and the things they learnt. It gives me happiness when I visit my bank and see all the items I have personally made for them past so many years lined up on my colleagues’ desks and the fact that they still call me to remind me that Diwali is coming near. Re-cycle craft is my passion and I am always surfing the net for things to make.
I was brought up in Khetwadi and studied at one of the best schools J.B.Petit High School for Girls. I remember I won a number of certificates for high jump in school, flew kites on the terrace during exam time and how much I enjoyed Marathi films with my uncle. I remember my mom’s accidental death that shocked me into living life king size and to the fullest. Dad had once said when I was born my grandmother was disappointed that I was not a boy and said “a patthar is born” to which my dad said “no it’s a diamond and you will be a diamond and shine all your life.” This has remained at the back of my mind always and I wonder if I have lived up to it. I firmly believe in the saying that a woman who is happy with herself only can make others happy and therefore I choose to keep motivating myself and my friends to explore new roads. With an incomplete bucket list of dreams and the many hands I want to shake right from that of Mr. Bachhan to Kapil Sharma to anyone that touches my heart, I just pray that “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’”.