In Conversation with Mannsi Agrawal

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Mannsi Agrawal does not fit into a single word or a profession. She is a teacher who has trained numerous bankers, government and corporate employees, beauty pageant winners students, and national level speech contest winners. She is also an enthusiastic Toastmaster who has achieved the TM title, the highest recognition offered by Toastmasters International for Leadership and Public Speaking Skills. She is a tutor at Udemy with 4000+ students.

Here is an interview taken by Techsathi with Mannsi Agrawal about her work, personal life, and much more.

Mannsi Agrawal
Mannsi Agrawal

You are always known to be doing a lot of things at once. What would you like yourself to be known as, if there was a single thing?

Ah! Can I be a motivational speaker who has written a book, takes photos in her off time and trains people to enhance their skills during the weekends? See, I’m greedy! I want to be everywhere and do everything all the time!

Actually, jokes apart, I’d like to be known as someone who genuinely gave her best to each of her creative pursuits.

What was the turning point in your life that paved the way for you on the place you are today?

I was married at 21, and due to some problems, my husband and I had to leave his family home. I was 23, scared, homeless and taking care of an entire household. We suffered on many accounts terribly, but those years of struggle proved to be a turning point in our lives. We developed a hunger for work, for success and were willing to give it all we had. We had truly reached rock bottom. We stayed there for years but those years built our characters, taught us resilience and helped us to develop an almost sacred attitude towards work. That, I would think, was the turning point in my life.

How did you fall in love with the stage?

As a child, my parents encouraged me to take up each opportunity to be up on stage. I have photos and videos of dances, songs, plays and even certificates from Elocution Contests. However, during middle school, I retreated into a shell.

It was only after I came to Kathmandu and my uncle took me to a Toastmasters Meeting, that I rediscovered the longing for the stage. It had been lying dormant for years, but deep down, I started enjoying the power that the elevated platform gave me. Since then, I have done 8 plays, innumerable training, a few forgettable Stand-Up Comedy gigs, and also a TEDx talk. The stage truly makes me feel alive and brings out a more confident side of me.

Mannsi Agrawal

How do you manage your personal life and professional life?

Until last year, I focused too much on my work and my son. As a result of this constant balancing, I managed to mess up my health. Through this winter, I have managed to restore some of that, and have started focusing more intently on ‘Me’ time, and that has made all the difference. I feel more energetic now, and am able to do more justice to my duties as a mother and working professional. Also, I travel with my family. This year has been especially lucky; we have already managed two short family getaways!

As far as work is concerned, I think I may be a borderline workaholic. If something excites me enough, I can work at it for 16 hours straight. I once joked to a friend, “I start working in Australia time, and end in US time!”

What is the phase that you remember as the “hardest” phase you have survived till now?

I don’t think I am prepared to talk about it publicly just yet. Someday, maybe.

How did you get into photography? How can we know you as a photographer?

I was pregnant with my son in 2014, around which time I saw some amazing photographs of cuddly little children, online. I took a course in Baby Photography with Kirtan Tamrakar, who happened to be visiting from Australia around then. After I delivered my baby, I religiously did a photoshoot for him each month, since I wanted to preserve his newborn memories. I took embarrassingly bad photos for the first few months. However, as time passed, I studied very intently and gradually improved. Soon, I started taking pictures of the children of my friends. Word got around and since then, I have been giving each shoot my best and working hard at it.

I work under the name Cherry Orchard Baby Photography and have a Facebook page. However, honestly, most of the clients come through word of mouth.

How do you keep yourself energetic with all this variety of tasks going on in your life?

Energy isn’t a problem with me. I think I am genetically prone to being more energetic than a lot of people! The moment I come across something creative that catches my fancy, my Motivation starts to soar. I get all excited and tingly. I need to start working immediately. In fact, I now remember an incident. I was learning how to cook when I was in Grade 11. One night I suddenly came across a pasta recipe. I was so excited about it, that I had to cook it immediately. I still remember actually cooking past midnight and polishing it off by myself! That’s how creative pursuits thrill me.

What other things are you doing other than the stage and the trainer part? What are your plans?

Apart from photography and training, I am actually working on a very special project. It will, however, take at least 18 more months to materialize. I do feel that I will be a lot more qualified to discuss it around then.

My plans do include travelling a lot more, among other things.

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Wondering and wandering in between words, pictures, and screens.