About me

I was 16 when the writing bug bit me hard. Getting my poems and reflective essays published in local magazines was encouraging. But as much as I found myself attracted to the idea of making this form of self-expression a full-time endeavor, the thought of letting down my parents held me back.

I halfheartedly prepared for management courses, studied computer networking for a year, and even tried my hand at teaching. Anything but writing.

Ok. Time to ‘fess up. I was still writing on the side. Small freelance op-eds for the local daily; a couple of reports for another national magazine; my journal. Just pursuing my “hobby” as I’d tell mom.

Sneakily, I had applied for a writing position with a publishing house in Mumbai. Within three days of my application, the hiring manager called. A 45-minute phone interview ensued. I was shaking with nervousness. If I got this job it would be a resounding validation of my skills. I could convince mom and dad that I was good at this – that someone thought my writing was worth a paycheck.

48 hours of suspense. I checked my e-mail every hour on the painfully slow dial-up connection; made sure the telephone receiver was kept properly. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or drink. And then it came. The offer letter. They wanted me to start in a week.

Surprise. A tinge of disappointment. Anxiousness. Those were the three emotions my parents exhibited when I broke the news. Two days later, these would be replaced by excitement – a mild sense of achievement. Happiness that their only child was taking flight.

I had found my wings.

I learned many new skills on the job, but within nine months I was keenly aware of my shortcomings. I had no real grounding in journalism. “You’re supposed to get married at this age, not go back to school,” said dad when I told him I wanted to get a master’s degree.

In the U.S.

I quit my first job, flew back home, and started preparing for the GRE and TOEFL. “It isn’t the writing bug that’s bitten her,” mom would say. “It’s the love bug.” She was partly right.

An unexpected e-mail from halfway across the world had made its way into my inbox in the wee hours of a winter night. He had read my poem on sexual exploitation of girls and wanted to know what kind of a nut-job I was. What business did I have thinking and writing about such serious topics at my age when my peers were out shopping for bangles or discussing the latest Bollywood heartthrob? He was moved (and curious enough) to write me. I responded. Within a week of exchanging 50-odd e-mails and four-long IM conversations per day, we knew we were meant to be.

He loved my writing style. Encouraged me to speak my heart. Inspired me. Challenged me. Supported me. Was my worst critic. My best friend. Still is.

After a year of drama, intense preparation, and lots of rewrites I got into all the six colleges I’d applied to. I chose to go to the University of Iowa. It was hard – more for my parents than me. I was looking forward to a new life. They were pining for their baby girl.

We made it through.

2004 was a milestone year: I graduated with a master’s degree in journalism, got my first full-time job in the U.S., moved from the mid-west to California to be with my husband (we’d gotten married the year before), and got a driver’s license.

Six years later, I continue to enjoy writing as a profession. I write about students, professors, philosophers. Through their stories, I inspire interest in education.

My parents used to say I had the brains to become a lawyer, an IAS (Indian Administrative Services) officer, an engineer, a banker, or anything I wanted, but I chose to be a writer. (And truth be told, they’re proud to see my byline now and again.)

It doesn’t pay as much as all the other “choices” I had, but it’s satisfying.

And with my blog, I can take a break from PR communication, and write about things I’m passionate about. My ponderings. My observations. My two-cents on the goings on of this crazy world. It’s where I find my solace.

It’s where I hope you can find some inspiration, too.

Mansi Bhatia's VisualCV

19 responses to “About me

  1. Pingback: What does “a calling” mean anyways? | First Impressions

  2. daffodils2

    Hi Mansi, i am new to blogging, just my 7th day on wordpress and 2nd on indiblogger.

    Already i have come across interesting people. Its gr8 that you finally followed your heart and are in your preferred profession. Look forward to your blogs.

  3. Your story is truly inspiring for many. And it is really good that you pursued what you liked and achieved a lot in this field. It is important to find what you love to do but it is even more important to chase that dream and success in it!

  4. Hi Mansi, this truly is an inspiring story, & very well written. I too hope to be a journalist one day. You are now my idol! My parents are very supportive of everything I try.

    • I’m humbled, Magali. I just tried to be true to myself and my parents supported me along the way — sometimes in not-so-obvious ways — but if it weren’t for the way I was raised, I never would have had the confidence or the courage to pursue my dreams.

  5. ajay

    Hi Mansi. What an inspiring and truly amazing life story! Thanks for sharing. I am now really inspired to follow my dreams. I found your blog by pure serendipity. What a neat and effortless writing style! One day I want to write like you. And thanks again for your inspiring life journey. By the way, if you get time, then please drop by my blog. I would be
    obliged .Thanks.

  6. debosmita

    I am here from Colours Magazine and I am so glad that I found you. Your story is so inspiring! I applaud you for pursuing your dream and making a successful career out of it.
    Writing is my passion; but I enjoy my professional career in law, too. Hence I shall be continuing writing as a hobby till the time I feel the need to give it my whole attention. And then I shall have you as a role model 🙂 Cheers to your spirit, Manasi.

    Check my blog at http://debosmita.worpress.com and I shall appreciate your feedback on it 🙂

    • I bow in respect. I had taken two law classed in grad school — the University of Iowa’s master’s professional program in journalism was cool like that! — and decided it used up too much gray matter. Kudos to you for pursuing. Aside from writing, we have another thing in common — our POA’s to retire early and travel 🙂
      Thanks for “discovering” my blog — I look forward to reading your life’s many whispers, too 🙂

  7. Moe

    Mansi, I was commenting here just as my laptop was crashing. So if I double post, my apologies!

    I just want to tell you what a wonderful story is your story, what a wonderful journey you’ve taken. You have earned the success and happiness you’ve created for yourself.

    If you ever have daughters, you’ll be such a wonderful example for them.

  8. Moe

    Mansi, yours is a wonderful story and full of the promise of life. You wrote it in such a heartfelt way that by the last line you had me cheering out loud for you and the journey you took. Congratulations!

    If you ever have daughters, you’ll teach them well.

  9. Dear Mansi:

    It was lovely to read about your journey. How well you have described your calling. I perused through your visual CV. My! My! Very Impressive.

    I am quite glad to have come by your blog through Indiblogger and now I am looking forward to reading your posts and by and by get some worthwhile tips and suggestions on writing from you.

    (Sheepishly) I would be glad if you read my posts and let me know how I am faring (if you have the time and inclination).

    Wishing you the best always.

    Joy and peace,
    Susan

  10. You have, with much humbleness, been awarded the Orange Net Award. Thank you for your gift.
    Beth

  11. such an inspiring story… beautifully told.. writing chose you!! good to see you chose to do what you wanted to do.. m an engineering student and i know one day i’ll be writing-full time!

    • Thanks, Parv. Appreciate your kind words. You know, I used to say I want to be an archaeologist when I was five years old only because I knew how to spell the word! Should’ve realized then what was meant to be 🙂
      All the best as you venture on your expedition.

  12. Wow – what an amazing story. Just goes to show, sometimes our parents don’t know best! Well done for following your heart and choosing to do something you love.

    • Thanks, Jacqui. I do thank my parents for supporting me on this journey of self-discovery. Like every parent, they had their expectations, but they allowed me to chase my dream and freed me to live it.

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