Overcoming personal hurdles

DC | AMRITA PAUL
Published May 18, 2015, 4:29 am IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 4:10 am IST
Nayantara NandaKumar, Bhavana Nissima, Sangeeta Khanna and Dalel Benbabaali.
 Nayantara NandaKumar, Bhavana Nissima, Sangeeta Khanna and Dalel Benbabaali.
On Saturday evening, the Whole Woman Annual Speaker Series had three women from different parts of the world sharing their personal stories. The audience sat in rapt attention as the speakers, Sangeeta Khanna, columnist and food blogger, Dalel Benbabaali, a Franco-Algerian researcher and Nayantara NandaKumar, founder of Our Sacred Space, spoke about their personal hurdles. 
 
The talk was curated by Bhavana Nissima, a communication consultant. Bhavana, who walked out of an abusive marriage 13 years ago and went to do a PhD in gender and intercultural communication in the US, says,  “As women, we are often coerced to live by the standards society sets for us. A milestone in our lives could be an engagement, wedding or birth of a child. But as individuals, we have unlimited possibilities, we can set our own milestones, validate by our own value systems and achieve what we really want,” she says. 
 
Sangeeta Khanna spoke about a difficult time in her life when her two-year-old daughter was detected with a rare neurological disorder.  Sangeeta, who lost her daughter at the age of nine, says, “I realised that the doctor was preparing me for the inevitable.” Sangeeta, who has studied microbiology, did not let self-pity hold her down. Writing about food and nutrition has helped her find a new purpose in life. 
 
Dalel Benba-baali, from London School of Economics and Political Science, came to Mussorie in 2003 as a French teacher. She has done extensive research on the Dalits and minority community in Khammam district of Telangana. As a child of divorced parents, she spoke at length about love — not as an all encompassing power structure, but as an effortless arrangement where two people can simply let each other be. Nayantara NandaKumar recalled her experience of being in the US during 9/11 and how it completely altered her views. Later, extensive reading and listening to activists made her resolve stronger.  She says, “We must forgive our friends and family, but hold our government accountable. Only when we keep pressing for change, will positive transformation actually happen.” 
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