Poetess Manorama Choudhury: Success is Where the Road Ends but Failure is the Road to Success

Manorama Choudhury
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BOSTON–Manorama Choudhury is a poet and an avid artist by passion, but first of all she is a homemaker who believes taking care of household chores is no small feat. “You are the head of planning, finance, operation, and every other department you name it,” says Ms. Choudhury. “You are solely responsible to maintain the balance and keep everything in order.”

In addition to her primary job as the CEO of her household, Ms. Choudhury enjoys art and poetry. Like a painter uses colors for expressing on canvas, she uses words to express herself in poetry. “I enjoy that process where individual thoughts transcend into universal thoughts. Wife, mother, or poet, in each role I discover the artist in me who has the capacity to serve a bigger purpose. This discovery process is a rewarding journey for me,” adds Ms. Choudhury.

Originally from Berhampur, Odisha, India, Ms. Choudhury has always emphasized the study of interdisciplinary arts with her B.A. in Psychology and Political Science and Masters in Business Administration from Berhampur University and Bentley University with an additional diploma in Interior Decoration from Kolkata, India.

She has delved into her creative intellectual pursuits through the art of poetry (in Odia/Hindi/English), songwriting, painting, fashion designing, food arts, and other visual art mediums. She has recited poetry on many platforms including South Asian Poets of New England, Nabagunjara, Odia Literature in North America, Ame Odia Ame Odisha, and Srujani Parivar.

Ms. Choudhury spends a lot of her time on philanthropy work with charities that focus on education and health and wellness programs in rural India. She is a team member for the nonprofit SASI (South Asia Study Initiative) and is an advisor for artisanbazar.org. During the onset of the pandemic, she made 2,700 masks contributing to the 25,000 masks made by Sew We Care, a local charity team that emerged out of necessity.

Here is a Q/A with Ms. Choudhury, who will honored at Woman of the Years Awards Gala at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA, on April 14, 2023. To buy a ticket for the gala, please click here.

INDIA New England News:  Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?

Manorama Choudhury: First of all, I am a homemaker who firmly believes taking care of household chores is no small feat. You are the head of planning, finance, operation, and every other department you name it. You are solely responsible to maintain the balance and keep everything in order. Second, being a mother, I take pride in parenting. I strongly believe a child learns by seeing and hearing before even reading and writing. So I carefully chose to lead by example. Lately, once the kids spread their wings my focus reverted to my passion. Like a painter uses colors for expressing on canvas, I use words to express myself in poetry. I enjoy that process where individual thoughts transcend into universal thoughts. Wife, mother, or poet, in each role I discover the artist in me who has the capacity to serve a bigger purpose. This discovery process is a rewarding journey for me.

INE: What do success and failure mean to you?

MC: Success is where the road ends but failure is the road to success. Success stops you from growing while failure presents opportunities to grow. After failure, how we choose to react makes all the difference. Failure is definitely a prerequisite to success that builds our character. Here is a quote that resonates with me. “Never let success get to your head; never let failure get to your heart.”

INE: The one thing you attribute your success to?

MC: Attributing my success to a single factor is difficult, as I am grateful for many things in life. Huge credit goes to my parents who instilled great values in my upbringing that is now having ripple effects. Additionally, the encouragement, guidance, and feedback provided by my family, supportive network of friends, and mentors have greatly benefited me.

INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?

MC: I am a very empathetic person and I draw huge satisfaction in serving charitable causes. I support various charitable foundations like Akshay Patra, Vision Aid, Desai Foundation, Adruta Children Homes, and a few more. However, there is one organization, Ekal Vidyalaya, that I am drawn to and involved with from the beginning. Its purposes strongly resonate with me because I believe education is the key to removing most of the world’s problems. Firstly, Ekal operates in remote areas in India where Govt. has failed to be successful or has not even reached. Second, the holistic approach of Ekal not only focuses on primary education but it also provides skilsl training to make people self-sufficient. Now I have joined South Asian Study Initiatives which has several programs to promote weavers because modernization has impaired this art form and weavers of India are passing through great financial stress.

INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field?

MC: ‘Don’t just complain, take action’, I often heard my husband (Bhaskar Panigrahi) saying this. It remains a silent reminder for me as well to check my behavior before expecting anything from others. I truly realize the powerful meaning of ‘action speaks louder than words.’ These simple principles are applied to my immediate family, friends, and community at large. In both big and small matters, my focus is to lead by example. For example, if I expect kids to clean their room I try to keep mine clean; if I expect one to do exercise I do that too; if I don’t enjoy contemporary cheap lyrics I start writing my own; if I actively promote handloom products then I wear myself too. In fact, I was featured in Women’s Era, one of the leading magazines in India, modeling, and promoting a fashion designer who advocates for handwoven fabrics.

My silent contributions in bringing positive change with my attitude, promoting charity with passion, supporting philanthropy with persuasive writing, etc may not be quantified but I strongly believe nothing goes in vain if done with the right intention.

INE: Any aptitude/gift or talent that not many people know about you?

MC: Seeing the whole than its parts is an innate quality that allows me to perceive the world around me a lot better. This quality allows me to understand the cause and effect of any given situation. This aptitude allows me to do a SWOT analysis easily. To add to that being a poet, I have the liberty and license to get into others’ mental space to understand their viewpoints and emotions and read their body language. The exact nature also allows the aesthetic artist in me to see patterns in everything around me.

For example, writing a poem is only for personal satisfaction but sponsoring to make a music video out of it supports 30-35 artists per project, providing them a platform to nurture their talent. By sponsoring the education of a needy medical student today, I am enabling him to serve many in the future, making my kind gesture all the more worthwhile. I have sponsored a project to facilitate printing translations of Rig Veda in the Odia language as I believe each generation is responsible to preserve ancient wisdom for the future generation. In addition, I have volunteered my time and voice to record several audiobooks and also contributed a cover art for the translation of one of Alberto Moravia’s novels.

As a social entrepreneur, I firmly believe that my success is not mutually exclusive from the success of those around me. I am committed to creating opportunities that benefit us all and am dedicated to this cause. I aspire to inspire.

INE: What are your hobbies and interest?

MC: Listening to music, reading, writing, making food arts, walking in nature, and painting.

INE: Your favorite books?

MC: Autobiography of a Yogi -by Paramahansa Yogananda

They Live with God -by Swami Chetananada

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna -by Swami Nikhilananda

Jagngyaseni (Draupadi in Hindi translation) -by Pratibha Ray

My Story by -by Kamla Das

The Five People you meet in Heaven -by Mitch Albom

Nilashaila (Odia) -by Surendra Mohanty

Eat Pray Love -by Elizabeth Gilbert

.and many more in Odia and the English languages.

INE: Your favorite quotes?

MC: The essence of the Bhagavad Gita covers pretty much every inspirational quote said by great personalities around the world. Below are a few that resonate with me.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”- Mahatma Gandhi

“चरैवेति चरैवेति”- (Keep walking Keep walking) – Aitareya Upanishad, 7.15

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”-Winston Churchill

“If you’re in the luckiest one percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent.” – Warren Buffett

“Happiness comes from spiritual wealth, not from material wealth. Happiness comes from giving not getting.” – John Templeton

INE: The one person you would like to meet and why?

MC: I want to meet God and for that matter, I need to meet myself, because all the scriptures say He lives within me. Also if I can rewind time I would like to meet Late Manorama Mahapatra who had a magnanimous, larger-than-life personality. An eminent author, poet, columnist, public speaker, longest-serving Editor of the Oriya Daily ‘Samaj’, and Social Worker. She dominated the space of public speaking for 60 years with her wide range of knowledge and her elephantine memory.

INE: Your core value you try to live by?

MC: Over the years I have developed a few thumb rules for myself. I understand that in a constantly changing world, the only variable I can control is myself. I do not complain if I don’t bring something to the table. I do not judge people by a particular incident. Donate to a good cause where there is no vested interest and the return on investment is for common good, not for my personal benefit. Do not cling to material things in life too much. Count my blessings. Do not cultivate negative thoughts for anyone. Because I firmly believe positive or negative, our wishes definitely manifest in some way. So I try not to add bad karma to my credit. In general, we are known by the company we keep so I choose wisely who helps me to be a better version of myself.


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