Abraham Lincoln said, “Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition.”. Looking back, I think I had my own ‘peculiar ambition’ too.

Shobha’s Journey

I have been in Mumbai since my student days at the Bombay University. That is almost 3 decades back. The big city, a place of opportunities, seemed to be the place for me. I did my Masters in English Literature, got married and got myself a job, as a lecturer, teaching English at Somaiya College. In a span of 5 years I had taught in 3 different colleges. While all my colleagues were busy getting their jobs secure and permanent, I was not really sure if teaching in a college was what I wanted to do. I could not juggle my job and take care of my family. I quit my job, finally, to look after my two sons who were now my priority. However, I carried on ‘teaching’ anyone who was willing to be ‘taught’.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition.”. Looking back, I think I had my own ‘peculiar ambition’ too. I am a thorough extrovert and I love people. I have always been good story-teller, with a funny bone. I loved to have an audience listening to me, whether it was in a classroom, or my drawing room, or in a crowded train.

My husband and I got involved in coaching and counseling individuals. And I found that I enjoyed it very much. Although I was a stay-at-home mum, I did not feel disused or redundant. Being in touch with people and having an influence upon their lives was keeping me involved and challenged.

Subsequently, as my boys became more independent and busy with their own school schedules, I began to venture out once again in search of my ‘audience’. This time I approached schools and offered to do value education sessions for teenagers. This gave me an opportunity to work with ACT, a non-profit organization for 7 years. Here I did workshops for teenagers on Value-based Sexual Health Education, workshops for parents on various issues of Parenting, awareness programs on Child Sexual Abuse and Marriage Enrichment programs. I also facilitated various ‘Train the Facilitator’ workshops that were need based.

It is during this phase that I got to meet with a number of parents, who had to juggle with their busy urban lifestyles and problems with raising their children. One parent even asked me if I was willing to sit with his children and explain some rules. That’s when I realized that the need for instruction in Good Parenting was imperative. Most parents found it was easier to hand over charge of their children to babysitters or a crèche than take the efforts of parenting. I could relate to their frustrations and failures and was willing to teach through my own experiences, both good and bad.

Open Doors is my vehicle to reach the audience that I always wanted. I started to use my stories, experiences, which were just ordinary and regular, in my sessions. I knew that people related to them. Today I know that some of the difficult days that I have had in life were for a definite purpose. Every day is a pursuit towards improving ourselves and the world that we live in. Races are run, battles are fought, victories are won, and heroes are born. We lose some and we gain some, but unless we share them with each other, we have not done our best. My wit and humor and ability to tell stories, has enabled me to find my audience. I continue to believe that I can leave footprints on the trail so that the ones following me will not wander.

I now know that my ambition of having an audience was not just a conceited, vain desire of a young girl, but a ‘peculiar’ desire placed, divinely, to fulfill a specific role. I have found my niche and am on my way to flourish there.

Surely, Lincoln knew what he was saying when he said “Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition.”