Being the curator of the upcoming high tech Morarji Desai Museum at Valsad, Team Vama wanted to meet up the newly appointed first lady Chief Minister of Gujarat for recording her message  that would be showcased at the museum venue and have her  views regarding Morarji Desai. Her office was gracious enough to allot a time slot and in fact they gave us generous time of over half an hour.

I along with my team members and the shoot crew reached earlier than the designated time and went about setting up the temporary studio floor in her ante chamber. The assembly sessions were on and there was  an exodus  of people including a big group of over 200 women awaiting to meet…  get a glance… grab a few mins with her… wish the coveted lady… there were some children from a school brought in by a local corporate to meet the state’s new CM and get photo-ops with her. Her security team was obviously a wee bit protective and all the time hovering around her.

While she was addressing the group of women and answering their queries and perhaps resolving their issues, there walked in a group of foreign delegates. And yes, how can I forget  about the continuous stream of people including achievers – children who had cracked competitive exams, housewives who had  managed to resume studies and cleared bachelor degrees at the age of 45, a differently-abled child who had achieved something were all being congratulated and felicitated by her. It was surely a jamboree of an event where tons of activities were all happening  at the same time… and mind you – this is a normal working day in the life of our CM!!!  And in all this cacophony I was left wondering how can one maintain sanity 24×7 and discharge your duties, execute grand plans, set in motion various schemes, answer the opposition, live upto the expectation of the electorate and much much more… And  what impressed me the most was inspite  of her super hectic schedule our “First Lady CM” was unfazed  and very much in control. She went about patiently talking, indulging, meeting, posing, smiling and discharging her duties as a popular and effective people’s   leader. It was indeed a moment of pride to watch her from such close quarters and see her excel in dispensing her duties.


Coming back to our work  I lucidly remember it was an hour before our scheduled time  and we had just got the studio floor ready – lights…sound… camera etc  all in place. We were ready for the shoot and we were chilling and awaiting our time with the first lady, while the drama of every day at work was as usual unfolding in her chamber adjacent.  We were relaxed  as we were assured we had an hour to while away…sound, lights were checked and rechecked; some of the officials and the crew members just stepped out… me and my cameraman stayed put enjoying the environs of the CM’s chamber, catching up on market tit-bits and off course shielding ourselves from the sea of life surging outside the room!!! And lo and behold  in walks our LADY – A CLEAR HOUR AHEAD OF SCHEDULE!!! We were taken completely off guard. We literally jumped up from our relaxed postures, a bit surprised, a bit unnerved but off course happy that we didn’t have to wait any longer.

I know its difficult to digest that in our country which is notoriously known for adhering to only “ IST-INDIAN STRECTABLE TIME” to experience this and that too with the state’s first citizen came as a welcome surprise…a very pleasant one at that!  And as she walked in looking almost a decade or two younger than her age, I was quite taken in by her personality – assertive and brisk.

Making public appearances and that to on-camera appearances  can cause even a seasoned  leader a little bit of anxiety. But here was this lady proving all of this off beam every minute. After inquiring about me and my team she listened attentively all about the museum project  and what we expected her to say on-screen.

The minute I finished my part of the narrative to her she said, “Well come-on lets shoot”…no checking the frame, no adjusting her look, no powdering…no  combing hair … in fact no fuss about being captured on screen – that would be relived every single minute at the museum for the next few years to come.

All she requested was to start the shoot with a poser that I could throw at her to initiate the action. By the time I posed the first question to her, she began calmly and confidently…with no breaks amidst sentences, no moment of brooding and a tranquil mind she poured out all her thoughts on continuously for over  10 – 12 minutes. She said it in a way no one else could. She reminisced about the similarity of her life with Morarji Desai’s life – both started their professions as teachers, the need for safeguarding and celebrating our past and serving it to our next-gen in a format they can associate and appreciate… applauding Valsad Nagarpalika and collectorate for the unique initiative of hailing their son of the soil by developing a dedicated museum…obviously there was nothing more to ask for. It was a job well done…a job wrapped up within no time…a job without any retakes…a great novelty in  today’s world of controlled on screen appearances!!!

As I recollect that fine afternoon  which was my first direct interaction with our dear  lady after she became the CM I take pride in the fact that we as women shall hence be nurtured and led  by a woman as strong, as assertive, as clear, as just  and as inclusive as her.  I’m pretty much sure that this feeling will be echoed by many many more women as the days go by. Looks like Ache Din are surely here and surely for keeps for we women in Gujarat!!!