My Real Life Hero: Masarat Daud (do not judge a book by this cover)
I have been pretty good about posting one of these every two weeks. I wanted to do Masarat this week because she is speaking at TED (March 15 - 28) on Thursday, March 20, 2014, 5:00pm-6:45pm PST. When I first met Masarat, I was told (by Masarat) that I judged by what I saw. In fairness (to me), we did not have any interaction. She joined my place of work just as I was leaving to set up my own company. I think if I had spoken to her, I would have known the person I know (and adore) today. (Masarat, am I being sycophantic enough?)
Masarat is a maverick on so many levels: as a woman/girl, as a muslim woman, as a muslim woman from rural Rajasthan in India, as a muslim woman IN A BURQA from rural Rajasthan growing up in Dubai and NOW living in UK. She breaks all the stereotypes you have in your head about these women. You just have to meet her once to know that. She does not broadcast about the work she does - she just does it. Her feet are firmly grounded, and she has a wicked sense of humour. I love her, in awe of her, and inspired by her. Like all my heroes, I sent her the same questions and here are her responses.
What inspires you?
This is a difficult question to answer. Inspiration comes to me in the most random, fleeting moments. These days, I am moved by a heightened sense of moral obligation. I feel that it does not leave me with much choice than to do what I am doing.
But on a larger level, I am inspired by good people. I have a deep respect for regular humans and their capacity to be good in challenging circumstances. In the middle of a communal riot victims’ camp, while walking around and talking to people about their conditions, almost everyone whose camp I passed, invited me to have tea or dinner—plain, boiled rice. I think these acts inspire me because they give me hope which we all desperately need these days! Plus, they push me to be closer to earth.
Who is your hero? Why?
Another tough question! I have many people who I admire for many different qualities. My hero is everyone who has fought the norm and created a different/better life for themselves. People who could stand up for what they believed was right; people who do not moan and whine that Life gave them a rotten deal. Whether it was my father who fought his society by educating himself and us; whether it is Person X [someone I know] who fought her deep pain to love us untainted, unconditional; whether it is people who I know are struggling personally but don’t lose themselves to bitterness and grudge…just so many.
If you had a choice of becoming one of your (all time - dead or alive; real or fiction) favourite character, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t want to BE one of the people I know personally, simply because if I were them…then I would not experience them in my life the way I have. So I will have to choose outside: I think Sir Syed! A man who was way ahead of his time—in terms of thought process, passion and action. You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syed_Ahmad_Khan
When are you happiest?
I am particularly happy when:
- When I am in my village
- When I am surrounded by my family (anywhere in the world)
- When I am doing something meaningful
What pisses you off most?
Hypocrisy (religious and other), Ego, Lies, Anchovies and capers in my food
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I think I got over this long time back. I can hardly remember any but maybe ages ago, when I turned up to school in two different shoes: one with heel and the other one flat
What would you describe as your most sublime experience?
In Berlin, at a random small Italian restaurant, eating the juiciest, more incredible tomato I had ever eaten. AND.
In Muzaffarnagar, hearing Urdu being spoken among regular people. You can then really understand why language is so important in shaping us as sensitive, respectful humans.
If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
Money is useless if it cannot allow me to make others happy. I know myself—I will give it to whoever has a more life-changing need than I. If something remains, I am booking travel tickets immediately!
Enjoy getting to know this amazing woman if you haven't already and connect with her in the links below.
Blog link http://ruralspirit.wordpress.com