A firm believer of the virtue that learning never ends, she follows the philosophy of ikigai and meraki. For her, art is meditative, travel a school and writing is breathing. She is an author and a published international poet. A three time TEDx Speaker, has established herself as a Change Enabler and an inspirational icon.
Meet Lt. Sandhya Suri. Founder, Esperance Media Publication Co. She hosts the popular weekly shows, ‘Terrific Tuesday Taboo Talks’ and ‘The Thursday Thing’.
Born in Srinagar, J&K, India, she started writing and teaching English at the age of thirteen. She was captain of the state’s as well as her university’s Basketball team. She loved presenting programs in AIR Youth Service. Contemplating journalism as a career, she also had a dream to join the elite Civil Services.
However, destiny had some other plans for her. This was the period when the Armed Forces opened their doors for inducting women into the Services.Sandhya after being commissioned into the Indian Navy became a first-generation Service Officer in her family.
A Rendezvous with the Real SelfOutspoken, bold and dedicated Sandhya was among the first few women officers who served on board warships. She also was part of the core team that was instrumental in conducting a successful International Fleet Review in Mumbai in 2001. “After hanging up my whites in 2001, I flew out to Nigeria and spent ten years in the corporate sector. I worked in various profiles viz., sales, marketing, administration and human resources.” narrates Sandhya.
“I came back from Nigeria because of personal family requirements. The need was such that a corporate 9 to 5 job would not do. I switched to consulting. There really wasn't a plan. I also tried to start a business with a few partners and that did not pan out too well. My return to India also marked my journey into turning my passions into work. Had it not been for the failed attempt at business, I wouldn't have directed myself to photography. With the help of Varsha, my soul mate, who referred me to anyone and everyone; I did quite a few candid portfolio assignments. I would not Photoshop the images except to adjust minor light issues. With a Canon 450D (which is no longer manufactured) I did earn a decent amount.” Sandhya speaks about her challenges.
“I began taking up whatever came my way. I realized I had more time; I was more full of joy. Happiness is an overrated thing. Joy is very much within one’s reach. I struggled, yes, immensely, but I saw around me people who struggled more. It teaches you about gratitude. I also began driving solo. I no longer was dependent on anyone else to be there if I had to drive out to another city, irrespective of distance or terrain. I have to thank Kannan for that. All in all I pulled through, tapping more of things I wanted to do in life before I die rather than something that is measured as success in the eyes of others. The plan became to have no plan. It is rather reckless but what a ride it is!”
Over the years her interests and passion in the creative field grew manifold. Esperance Media Publication Co., was established in October 2019.
The Terrific Tuesday Taboo Talks
Her popular Terrific Tuesday Taboo Talks is a weekly show where she boldly takes up taboo topics for conversation, facilitating a dialogue on issues most find hesitation to talk about.
“The TTT Talks was conceptualized in a conversation with my daughter and friend Sharon. This was before the Pandemic. “We were thinking of doing this live as a show with the two of us taking the serious angle (me) and the funny angle (Sharon) to speak about things that people wish they did but don’t because of ‘log kya kahenge!’ syndrome. Then, the Pandemic came. I saw a lot of men and women struggle with being now locked up together and having to deal with issues, which had been earlier, swept under the carpet. That is how it began. Then, I began this online. Sumesh (who no longer is a part of this) assisted a lot in the early episodes and I am grateful for that.”
“We began with a test episode and then kick started it and dived right in with the episode ‘Pride All the Way’. I thought, might as well create an impact. Harish Iyer was my guest for that evening. We had about 60 participants. I was still learning how to use Zoom and the tech didn’t always pan out but I had a few regulars – people began to speak up when they realized they were not being judged about speaking up.”
“The vision was to create a space where conversations that don’t happen begin to happen and those in the conversation create their space to have that within their circle as well”.
The Thursday Thing for entrepreneurs
“The Thursday Thing was conceived by three individuals. We each were unique in our abilities, had a risk-taking capacity and wanted to create a networking space for startups, entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and investors who are looking to fund new ideas, innovative new businesses, small businesses that have something really fantastic as an idea but little support or connections. Thus, Mamtaa Gupta (The Entrepreneur Alchemist), Col Rahul Sethi, (Retd) (The Startup Colonel) and yours truly (Change Enabler) set about creating that platform and space.”
This was initially envisaged as an offline event as networking requires that kind of environment. However, we improvised and have adapted to online events until the offline ones open up. We intend to run both side by side as the reach and impact online cannot be ignored either. We bring inspiring and true experiential journeys of the people behind the business and conduct that on Zoom. Every alternate week in between, we have unique events that are of benefit to those who come to the event. Our motto can really be summed up in four words – connect, engage, interact, optimise – We have a long way to go but it is an encouraging start.”
A creative Genius
“I have been writing poetry for a long time. I started performing on Open Mics in Chennai for storytelling and poetry. There is a certain charm to listening to poetry. Not many read poetry in India, and poets are an ignored lot. I am not talking about mushairas. There is plenty of that. But a platform for the really talented poets, for an unknown poet, to get a voice doesn’t exist in a large number.
I host creative and literary art events to engage audiences in open mics for poetry, storytelling, jam sessions which are a mix of recital and writing, creative writing workshops, hosting retro songs sung by upcoming and new talent. My audience and performers range from age 17 to over 70. There is no standard age to begin. You can begin anytime you feel like. I do art. It is my zen thing. I don’t do it to compete,” tells Sandhya with pride.
She is an author (co-authoring the military-politico fiction Tryst with Destiny – Abhikrama) and an internationally published poet (Pushcart Prize 2020 nominee and Featured Poet at the Rio Grande Valley Poetry Festival 2021).
The list of her accomplishments goes on! To name a few: –
1. The Most Admired Inspiring Indian Award 2021, awarded by Indian Ex Defence Service Employees Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
2. “Inspiring Women of the Year 2020” awarded by ASSOCHAM.
3. “40 over 40 Award 2020”, by ShePeopleTv.
4. “Fight Corona Global Samaritan Appreciation Certificate” by Asian News Channel.
5. Winner “Digital Global Public Speaking Championship” by MS Talks.
6. “Woman of Worth Award 2019 “by Pinkishe Foundation.
Whatever I have written here has not happened overnight. It is a journey about how you overcome struggles, failures and contradictions. “In love with life” is a narration of how to discover your true self and make the most, as you live only once!
She says, “Not everything in life is a comparison to something else. Simply be better than yourself from what you were yesterday. And it’s okay to not sometimes manage that. Be kind to yourself…. it is the biggest school where you can learn to be kind to others.”
Lt Sandhya Suri can be reached at:
Email :- firstname.lastname@example.org
sandhyasuri_official (For Events)
@esperancemedia (For the Thursday Thing) @thethursdaything_network (for food)
@teekhisandhya (for photography) @sandhyasuri_photography
Twitter :- @sandinmyfist
Facebook Page :- @LtSandhyaSuri