JWT Coffee & Donuts: Women on Top: Tista Sen

Tista Sen, National Creative Director, JWT India, on what it takes to be a woman who has lived every aspect of life to the fullest

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 26, 2018 8:52 AM

I was recently asked by a wide-eyed intern, how on earth I managed. Managed what, I asked, slightly peevish, having long outgrown those questions of being a mom and having a career. Life, she countered. The other stuff that makes you who you are.

Ok now you have my attention. What makes me, really. And what exactly does that make me into.

Think about it. We are creative folk. We think. When we are not supposed to. Ok we over-think. We write odd things, we doodle stuff no one really cares about and most of the time we are convincing those who shall never be convinced on something we aren’t convinced about to begin with.

That’s the work part.

Home is spent in equal measure doing some of the above again and then other stuff. Pottering about, changing the upholstery, invading the kitchen, throwing a wonderful party. Cooking up a storm. Lovely stuff.

But where’s me?
The other stuff that makes you who you are. That.

I remember a friend from out of town who wanted to meet at the Gateway. Sea-lounge at Taj was where I was heading until she said no let’s meet at the parapet outside. So we did. Sat with our backs to this great monument but over-looking the sea with all that bobs and is gone. We had channa sing and counted pigeons. It was very liberating. That could be the stuff.

I know of people who browse art galleries, take in a movie, all strictly during office hours. Yup that’s other stuff.
If you haven’t seen all of Satyajit Ray’s masterpieces sit down and binge watch him instead of Netflix. That’s other stuff.

So here’s my very personal other stuff list. Try it and let me know if it works.

Be Spontaneous
Come on. Walk into the rain. Hell! Walk into sunshine. But do what pleases you. It helps. However odd, the better. It will define why you go to sleep smiling.

Be Weird
Yup. I wear a flower in my hair. Someone wears yellow chappals to work. And I do remember a person who came to office only in a long kurta. She had forgotten the bottom she said. Totally weird I thought but totally weird like I want to know you. You funny, funny child.

Be Inquisitive
If you aren’t flipping through reference books go ahead and Google. Buy and find the answer. It’s so easy that it’s a crime not to know. If you have a passion. If you have a whim go internet the hell out of it and devour it.

Be That Other Person
Empathy is what will embrace you through lonely days and be your only true friend. And you need to make time for that. Pick up the phone on that annoying aunt who you know will not live long. Call up that colleague who is laid up with a broken leg. At my last girlfriends meet we went and had tea with our school teacher. Not sure she remembered us all. But it was a delightful afternoon over tea and tears.

Read. Read. Read.
Not your texts. The sheer physicality of a book. Feel it heavy in your hands. Hold it close to your heart. And allow yourself to be transported. It could be crime, it could be romance, it could be Gandhi. Read. It will enrich you in ways you cannot fathom.

Face-time your Folks
Yes. It’s a job. Sometimes none too easy. But it defines you and makes you who you are. I was talking to a young colleague just today who said she felt like her parent’s parent. So, they are behaving like you, I asked. Yes, very badly she muttered. I laughed.

Share your work with Bharat
I learnt this from the most creative leader in the industry. Whenever a new film arrived at his desk. He first called Joga. The canteen boy. Mine is Bharat. He’s terribly smart. Very sharp. And obviously working here is just a little step in the path of his very ambitious plans. He sometime sees the work and says maza nahi aaya. He’s right.

Love Yourself
You’ve had the worst day. You’ve had the worst meeting. You’ve had a very inconsiderate boss. Go curl up in our room and shut out the world. Nah. Go get your hair done. And a foot massage. You feel like a million bucks.
And it is not just platitudes. Try it.
I have danced bare feet on Oxford Street.
I have walked down Ballard Estate alone at midnight. And soaked in the silence.
I have taken a horse carriage ride (before they were banned) from my hostel on Marine Drive to Crystal restaurant 5 minutes away because I wanted to feel like a princess. And I did.
I have bought balloons to release them immediately.
I have said no to networking and networked over scrabble with my boys.
I have cheated at Pictionary.
I read for an hour every night.
I say I love you now with amazing frequency and with the same emotion.
And all I can remember is the endless things I haven’t done.

-Tista Sen, NCD, JWT
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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