Many moon nights ago in a small town in Maharashtra called Solapur , a set of anxious parents nervously awaited the birth of their second child. Their first child was a healthy and happy boy and they obviously wanted the second one to be a girl. With a final painful cry, the mother pushed the baby into the world and the midwife and nurses eagerly crowded to see the child. The midwife suddenly drew back and exclaimed “Oh my God, it’s a monkey?' Figuratively of course, you see it was an underweight baby with bulging eyes, thin arms and legs and an inflated tummy that looked like a puffed up pulkha.
That monkey, my friends was me, Neha Shinde- a marketing professional , a voracious reader , a budding guitarist with no musical sense and a self proclaimed drama queen !
Though born in Sholapur, My father Dr. Shinde, a professor by profession, migrated to the sunny state of Punjab when I was in Kindergarten and it’s no surprise that everything bright and yellow reminds me of Ludhiana ad Punjab. Every year during our summer vacations my family, comprising of parents and brother and sister would journey to the western part of the country to meet our relatives and cousins. After a month of tremendous fun, I would eagerly look forward to return back to share my holiday experiences with my friends. After a train journey of a day and a night, the next morning would bring us closer to Punjab and I would realize, we were getting closer by the numerous bright yellow mustard and sunflower fields our train whizzed past. As yellow as well yellow can be, I watched these fields with childish joy that I realized home was near. And it was a happy thought.
When I was about thirteen, my father decided to go back to Maharashtra and we moved to a quaint little town called Miraj famous as they say for doctors and donkeys, sometimes referred to in the same vein. I lived there for about 2 years and lived in a beautiful missionary campus, which was as green and lush as the Garden of Eden. I remember the campus scattered with trees of Mango, Guava, Custard apple, Tamarind, Bamboo, and even sandal wood - and where there is sandalwood there are snakes, and it was in Miraj that I experienced two of my firsts in life- the first one was the sighting of a huge shiny black snake just 2 feet away from me on a narrow pathway and the other was realizing how trembling knees actually felt. But that naga naga did not dampen my enthusiasm of exploring the campus and whenever I think of Green, memories of Miraj come back to me.
As soon I started getting cozy in Miraj, we moved again to a town called Belgaum on the border of Karnataka & Maharashtra. Dad worked for JNMC and we lived in the staff quarters. So, whenever I think of white, I see flashes of white coats of the medical and dental students on campus. Even after my father thanks to his travelling itch, moved abroad when I was in my first year of BBA and I moved in to the college hostel, white always reminds me of the JNMC and its students.
Till the time I moved to Pune do my MBA and then to Bangalore for my job in Satyam, my favorite color was black. It still is, but it now shares the honor with Red. As a result I have more than half dozen black shirts and kurtas in my wardrobe that I don’t know what to do about.
But the color or colors that represents me most is not a black or a red, but the combination of 3 colors of saffron, white and green. You see, for many years because of my constant moving places, I had an identity crisis and wondered if I was a North Indian or a South Indian? Did I belong to the west or east? A few years ago I got my answer; I am a Marathi by birth, a Punjabi by nature, a Kannadiga by lifestyle and an Indian at heart!
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Neha Shinde- a marketing professional, a voracious reader, a budding guitarist with no musical sense, a self proclaimed drama queen and a proud Indian!