She may not have followed in the footsteps of Kalpana Chawla or Sunita Williams. But she has made a splash in the Indian Diaspora by her own feat. Gents, doff your hats for Neha Hotchandani, the first Indian woman to join Uncle Sam’s Army. And to think that she is only 20!
But then, Neha’s life has been slightly different than that of her neighbourhood peers. “There was so much peer pressure in Gandhidham that I was simply fed up. Though the situation was quite different in my family, I noticed that other youngsters my age didn’t have the freedom to pursue what they wanted to. Feeling uncomfortable in such an environment, I decided to set off for the US for higher studies. The job in the US Army is just what the doctor ordered for a person like me,” says Neha.
She is currently serving as a Company Leader at the 82nd Chemical Battalion in Missouri. About 250 people work under her. Now that is something Dr Hiralal Hotchandani, her father, could have ‘ordered’.
“She may have been a student of commerce, but she is a lover of the arts,” informs the mother. “She writes poetry, is an accomplished western dancer, and is crazy about jazz,” gushes the father. However, Neha is happy describing herself as a “party animal” and a “diehard” Hrithik Roshan fan. When she was in India during the yearend holidays, the one thing she ensured she did not miss before leaving was Dhoom 2.
The ebullient youngster, however, does not have a high opinion of the Indian Army. “I’m not at all impressed. Even if I get an opportunity, I don’t think I’ll ever join it,” she says.