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Women take the reins

Polo, bikes and the stock market are no longer for boys alone. On the 100th International Women’s Day, we profile four women who chose to defy stereotypes .
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2011 01:33 AM IST

Devyani Rao, polo player
Adding a dash of glamour to the otherwise male-dominated sport, polo, is Delhi-based Devyani Rao, 30, one of the few female polo players in the country. Passionate about horses, Rao is a polo trainer at the Army Polo and Riding Club in Delhi and won her first junior national championship at the age of 21. “Polo is a rough sport both for the rider and the horse, but it’s my passion for horse riding that drove me towards it,” says Rao. She says her horse Badal is the key to her success. “He has thrown a lot of riders off, but never me,” she laughs.

A graduate in English literature from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Rao admits that a lot of women love horse riding but don’t want to play polo as they think it’s a dangerous sport. Rao has started a project called The Spirit of the Horse, which raises money for the care of sick horses.
-Vaishali Bhambri

Radhika Sachdev, Single mother
It’s not just Sushmita Sen who decided to start a family alone. Adoption agencies say, more and more single women in the Capital are choosing to adopt children. One such is Radhika Sachdev, 40, a Delhi-based journalist, adopted a two-year-old child from Palna, Delhi Council for Child Welfare’s home for abandoned and destitute children, in Qudsia Bagh in 2007. Her daughter, Arzoo, is six years old today.

“My marital status was not an issue for Palna, but yes, some agencies do make that a problem. For me, the adoption process was a cakewalk,” remembers Sachdev, who took almost a year and a half to complete all the legal procedures before she could call Arzoo her own. For Sachdev, her parents were a big support. “My parents really helped and when Arzoo arrived she was immediately a part of the family,” she recalls.

“Once Arzoo came home, it felt like there had never been a day without her. And, the best part was that, she took to me like her mother,” says Sachdev.
-Rubi Borgohain

Asha Sharma, biker
When other girls in her college looked around for boys to take them around on motorcycles, Asha Sharma took others for a ride on her bike. Passionate about biking since 1991, today she even rides her 500cc bike to work occasionally. “When my friends used to sit behind their boyfriends on bikes, I used to wonder that why women can’t command the bike?” says the 40-year-old, who is a manager at a German firm based in Delhi.

“I feel empowered when I take my bike out on the road and enjoy the look on the faces of the men that I cross,” she says. Sharma says her 18-year-old son, Nitin, is proud of his mother. “I even help his friends with their riding techniques,” she says.

Sharma now plans to join a biking club in the Capital. “Riding a bike gives you an experience that a car can never give. It’s like talking to the air. When my co-workers, both male and female, compliment me for my driving skills, I feel a great sense of satisfaction,” she says.
-Vaishali Bhambri

Jasmine Anand Grover, plays the stock market
Work is not the only thing that keeps Jasmine Anand Grover, 27, an acquisition manager with HDFC bank, busy. She is into dealing in the share market. “As a child, I saw my dad and uncles do it and I too, developed interest,” says Grover, the only girl in her family with this interest. “I usually deal in short terms and mid-cap, but if I see a lucrative deal, I go for long holdings,” she adds.

Today, Grover also has an account with a online financial consultancy and an advisor guides her on deals. “Besides my advisor, I discuss shares with my dad. He has been doing this for 20 years now,” she says.

Some of Grover’s female colleagues also share her interest. “But, when I started dealing, my male colleagues were very apprehensive. They couldn’t figure out how a girl could do well in shares and stocks,” says Grover, who has been playing the market since she was 23.
-Aakriti Sawhney

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