A Women’s Day Like No Other With SpiceJet

landing-bangalore-women's-day

It was a trip that almost didn’t happen. I was supposed to go on an international FAM with Chhavi, when the invite came to celebrate the Women’s Day with SpiceJet. I had to say my dates were already blocked. Then the international FAM got postponed. I went back without any hope to SpiceJet to see if I could still be a part of their Women’s Day celebrations. I was truly lucky, they still found a place for me, for it has been a Women’s Day like no other for me.

womenwithwings-spicejet-flight
Women’s Day Flight from Delhi to Bangalore

SpiceJet along with Navjyoti India Foundation, India Vision Foundation and Art of Living invited 20 women from rural and challenged backgrounds to fly with them from Delhi to Bangalore on the Women’s day. When I say challenged give me a minute to explain it, for I do not know where to start.

I was at the airport at 4.00 am. By 4.30 am I could see the women for whom the flight was arranged in the seating area before check-in. In a few minutes of conversation I realized that some of the women had spent time behind the bars. Afsa spent 15 years and 8 months in a prison for murder. When the flight took off Khushi who sat next to me had spent 5 years in a prison for murder. I do not know how they got released. I do not know what was the court’s verdict. But I do know that both women were extremely proud of who they are today. And I think life is tough for me!

I am so proud that I was Khushi’s neighbor when the flight took off. I had the privilege of assisting her with the seat belt, asking how she felt and pointing out simple things out of the window and within the plane. It was actually the cameraman from a TV channel who pointed out to Khushi that we were above the clouds. She actually looked out many times to confirm out theory. She had a middle seat between us. Khushi has three daughters, all of them go to school. She works as a cook in a home. I cannot tell you how immensely proud I am of her employer too, even though I don’t have the vaguest notion about who they are.

bangalore-airport
Waiting for Tea at the Bangalore Airport!

She told me that she just wept for the whole week when she first went behind the bars. Then she gradually found strength in other women’s company. She said when someone would get released, she would think of a day when she could walk out too.

with khushi-asfa
With Asfa and Khushi

Afsa said she was 20 when she went behind the bars. She said almost all her relationships died that day itself. Her daughter now works in a private firm but she wants her to study more. Ajay Jasra (GM Corporate Affairs, SpiceJet) and I, both said that young people work before going for further education and she should let her daughter work.

While talking to them I slowly realized what happens to the family when a parent goes behind the bars, particularly she is the mother. The kids become extremely vulnerable. That is where Dr. Kiran Bedi’s India Vision Foundation (IVF) comes in. They work with jail inmates to give them hope and to support their children. A mother can keep a child with her if the kid is less than 6 years of age. But after that the child has to move out. IVF runs creches for children within the prison and supports their education when they move out of the creches.

khushi
Khushi Enjoying a Massage at the Art of Living, Bangalore

I asked a dumb question to Khushi, so were prisons like what they show in movies? She said that was not true at all. She added there were some bad people but there were many good ones too.  I talked to the Director IVF Moncia Dhawan and she too said that if I wanted to, she could show me a prison. The movie version is not true.

And here were they, flying high up in the skies on the International Women’s Day, they were the #WomenWithWings.

aslia
With Aslia

I also had a chat with Aslia, who overcame extreme poverty with the support of IVF. She does not has a prison history. But her marriage went bad and she move with her three kids to her father’s home. They lived under a barsati, they lived on footpaths. One day they got caught in a fire that raged her slums. She along with her three children got burned which needed treatments. Her father lost mental with the trauma. She said she needed 25 rupees for an auto to take her children to the hospital (Ram Manohar Lohia) and she would have to ask other people for it. But she somehow kept at it.

She told me that one day she simply sat at a bus stop utterly defeated. A a stranger started talking to her and mentioned that IVF paid for her children’s school fee. The stranger didn’t tell her the address though. But she met her again on the same bus stop sometime later and this time got the address out of her somehow. IVF took her case.

I asked what happened to her husband? She said he went away with another women, had two children. She took her children to meet him when he got sick, so that they at least knew their father. He passed away last year.

Her son now teaches guitar to other children at Navjyoti. She says that she got a smile back on her face because now she can watch her son go out with his guitar to work everyday. Her daughters go to school too. She next wants a better place to live. As of now she lives in a small room near a garbage dump but she quickly added flashing a smile, they are so much more happier now. I just didn’t know what to say or where to look!

#womenwithwings
Women With Wings!

The women working with Navjyoti had a different story to tell! They concentrate on adult literacy. I asked what does it help with? A young lady said her father-in-law can now withdraw money from ATM because he knew how to read! They also said there was purdah in the village but now as women are teaching men in the family, they can bully them as well rather than being in awe of them. They said they have made groups and they intervene if they suspect a women is getting beaten or a girl child at risk whether in womb or as an infant.

womenwithwings

All the conversation happened on a flight from Delhi to Bangalore (and beyond in Bangalore) which was flown by women pilot and serviced by an all women crew and engineers from SpiceJet.

spicejet-all-women-delhi-bangalore-flight
Women Power on the Delhi Bangalore SpiceJet Flight

I told Monica at one point, “This is the first Women’s Day I have truly enjoyed, otherwise I just considered it a day! I was truly privileged to be a part of the life of the #WomenWithWings for a short while!

Share Button

54 thoughts on “A Women’s Day Like No Other With SpiceJet”

    1. Thank you Swati. I came back yesterday but you know how it goes, too little time. Also as I was there on weekdays I was not sure about you being free.

  1. You are so lucky and fortunate to experience such a beautiful day. A day full of real people, a true women’s day. When I read through the hardships of these women I realised we have no right to crib of our lives . the best post I have ever read on a blog Mridula. I admire you 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Shweta. And it was a trip that almost didn’t happen! It was an amazing experience for me too.

  2. A truly inspiring post, Mridula. Once a murderer will not always remain a murderer. But in our society, we easily tag anyone without knowing the background of the circumstances. Appreciate the initiative of Spicejet. Well, I’m thinking whether the cancellation of International FAM was good or bad. Can everything be divided into black & white or something called grey exist?

    1. Ravish, I do not mind that international trip getting postponed. This was something I don’t get to do everyday.

  3. I was the most privileged in this group – the women of substance as I call them. My colleagues at SpiceJet complained “Aren’t we women of substance?” Well, my answer was, “yes you all are women of substance. But you are privileged ones, they are bettered ones.” Thanks Mridula for such a nice blog and a day together.

    1. Thank you for having me on the trip Ajay. It was a memorable day. If you ever do something like this again and if you think I can fit in, do remember me. I agree I lead such a privileged life!

  4. Every woman is unique in her own way. Must be an amazing day for you, Mridula. Thanks for sharing with us… 🙂

  5. I do not know how they got released. I do not know what was the court’s verdict. But I do know that both women were extremely proud of who they are today. And I think life is tough for me! Everyone think like you . It was really a very impressive and nice initiative to celebrate women’s day . nobody invited my wife ? hehe .

  6. This is truly heartwarming! It also makes me realize that we fret over so many issues, but listening to their stories, I got a reality check as to how difficult life can be at times!
    Wonderful post Mridula! And thanks for talking about these different organizations as well.

  7. Such heartwarming stories Mridula! Like you I felt silly about the things I complain about and that I even think my life is difficult. Must have been such an amazing experience!

  8. Indeed they are the women with wings, so much inspiring! Stories of these ladies can be real motivation for those who take life lightly… Love this post, Mridula 🙂
    Tc, keep smiling 🙂

  9. I couldn’t go for this one but I am sure this must have been a unique experience. Lived the experience through your post. When we meet people from all backgrounds, only then we realize what a blessed and happy life we live.
    P.S. I feel this was a very nice way to celebrate Womens Day and I will be blogging about it today. Will gladly backlink your blogpost.

  10. Nice blog post and a great way by #Spicejet to celebrate Women’s Day. A lot of people and women especially, don’t get to experience a flight and this is empowering. Also, from the Spicejet’s point of view, with Mr Ajay Singh at the helm of affairs since last year or so, I am sure it is going good.

    We have been following eachother Mridulaji on Instagram but this is the first time I came across your blog, after searching for it 🙂 Nice to follow you and learn from you techniques of writing. Best wishes !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mridula Dwivedi

I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!

If you wish to collaborate with me, please check out my media kit. You can write to me at mridulablog@gmail.com

Recent Blog

Category

Archive

Gonomads Blogs

Have a look