— S. S. Srilakshmi (Batch 17)
Ms. Mayuri Singh, a graduate from Batch 2009 from Hidayatullah National Law University, agreed to be our first speaker in the ‘Passion Talks’ series of lectures. #OffBeat is a venture started by the Student Bar Association in the year 2018. The idea behind #OffBeat is that the students get to hear from people who are doing unconventional things with their lives. After all, students join college right after school, without putting much thinking into what they actually want to do. What if a law student found out, say, ten years down the road that pursuing a career in law was making her unhappy?
Keeping this in mind, Mayuri Singh was the perfect speaker to begin this series, because not only did she quit her law career after eight years of work in various companies as legal advisor, but she also chose to become a freelance lawyer while travelling the world after her marriage. Choosing not to have children and going against all possible stereotypes, Mayuri has recently started a blog (http://lifebeyondusual.com/) in which she describes herself as a solo, female, married traveller.
Mayuri begins her presentation by asking the audience a question- “What is passion?”
After a few replies from the crowd, Mayuri tells us that she herself does not know the answer. In fact, Mayuri believes that her passion in itself is to have several passions. She tells us about how she’s continuously interested in different things. Today, she wants to learn swimming, but tomorrow, she wants to cycle for 30 kilometers at a stretch. She tells us that this is not particularly a bad thing, not being able to narrow down on a specific passion.
Mayuri’s life changed when she participated (and then, successfully completed) the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon. This is an intense half-triathlon which includes a 1.9 km swim, a 90 km cycle ride, and a 21.1 km run. She recollects her reaction from when her friend told her about such a triathlon and she says- “Back then, I thought this friend was crazy! I remember thinking to myself- who would do this? Who would punish their own body like this?”
However, with love and encouragement from her husband (who now has the official status of a gym trainer), she tells us that she practiced for almost an year for this triathlon. Just a month before the triathlon however, both her and her husband caught a severe case of dengue. She recollects again, “When you have dengue, you’re usually unable to move. I stood up to brush my teeth after two weeks of rest and I felt faint with such little activity. I looked in the mirror and prayed to God- God, please let me complete the triathlon. Please let me not give up mid way!”
Thankfully, Mayuri was able to complete the triathlon, after which she got immense confidence in herself. Again, with the encouragement of her husband, she first visited Kashmir (which she claims is her favorite place to travel to) and then, did a tour of South-East Asia.
There are so many other things that makes Mayuri unique. She is a saree enthusiast. Both, in her blog as well as her instagram page, she shares with us the unique styles and types of sarees that were sold in the places she visited. She talks about how she has undertaken the #100DaySaree pact and how she wears a saree at least twice every week.
With the help of a PowerPoint™, she shows us photos of her travelling around the world.
She also gives us a few words of advice. She tells us that the scariest thing about travelling, is first getting the courage to step out of your door. One must always remember that travelling for a weekend is very much different from travelling for months together at a stretch. She tells us about how she misses her husband terribly sometimes when she travels, while other times, she joins small groups of travelers to overcome her loneliness. She explains to us that travelling alone is her choice, though. If not now, then when?
While encouraging all of us to follow our dreams, she also tells us about how living in a place does not mean you have explored it. She gives an example of Chhattisgarh, her home state, when she tells us about how she came back from Mumbai (where she resides now) to explore this place. She says- “Even though I had lived in Chhattisgarh for most of my life, I didn’t know of all the wonders that were hidden here.”
Next, Mayuri moves on to talking about how the corporate system chains you into a vicious cycle of work. With your first salary, perhaps you purchase a car, for which you take up a loan. Now you can’t quit work to say, Explore Europe, because you have a loan to pay back. This goes on, house, children, luxury cars, air conditioners, luxury homes- you keep trying to fulfill your soul’s needs with materialistic possession, but in the end- you just get more excuses to postpone activities on your bucket list.
She talks about her friends who are still a part of the typical corporate law career, most of whom are dissatisfied by their work. She talks about how some people are appeased by a large number of material possessions, but not all of them. Then, she gives us her most important advice yet- She tells us that these 10-15 years of our life is the ideal time for us to do what we want. As she rightly points out, when you turn 40, you might have the means to let you travel all of Europe, but you most definitely will not have the body that is necessary to backpack through the states and see the real beauty from up close.
The session ends with a few questions from the audience members. Here is an excerpt:
Student: “Ma’am, many students join law school, enticed by the prospect of earning more money. Is it better to own a bigger car or is it better to follow your passion which may not allow you to leave an exorbitant life?”
Mayuri Singh (rephrased): For me at least, it’s better to follow my passions. I find that some people however, are satisfied with a bigger car. The trick is to identify what sort of a person you are, and then do as your heart tells you to. To me, money is just a means to facilitate my living life. In no way is it the end goal.
The students left the auditorium, with a heightened understanding on the fine balance that one needs to draw between money and happiness.