A Lady of Many Hats

Anjum Pasha talks with You & I
What role do you play as the principal of Pasha Public School and director of the Pasha Educational Trust?
I took over as principal of Pasha Public School in 2010. Having completed five successful years, I truly believe that only if you love what you do will you be good at it.
As principal, I get the chance to mould young minds and see the results of what I create. My role as director of the trust is to oversee all the institutions and their administration. I set targets and show my staff how to achieve them. I’m a big believer in positive reinforcement and the idea that children should have ample time to be kids during their childhood. They should be allowed to retain their youth as they develop their personalities and intellect.
What makes my work different from that of others is that I work with underprivileged and lesser privileged children. The goal of our school and colleges is to offer quality education to those who are less fortunate and expose them to a public school education. Pasha Educational Trust was started by my father 14 years ago, and we have come a long way toward realising his dream to help the less fortunate secure a better future.
You shifted from law to education. Why the change?
I come from a family of lawyers. My great-grandfather was the advocate-general of Hyderabad state, my grandfather was legal advisor to the Nizams, and my father Asadulla Pasha, brother Omar and sisters Aida and Amera are all lawyers. When I went through my divorce and moved from Delhi to Hyderabad five years ago, I took up the study of law to get a better understanding of how to deal legally with what I was going through. The process made me realise once more my love and thirst for knowledge. I’ve now completed a number of degrees, but continue to study for an LL.M in corporate law. My dream is to someday merge both my interests – law and education – and open a law college.
As a single working mom, how do you manage your time?
Time management is one of the toughest things I’ve had to learn. My son Aftab is now 11 years old, and I continue to be a full-time mom to him while juggling many other hats at the same time. My day starts early as I wake up at 5.30 am, and it ends late at night. By then I have spent time with my son, attended my own classes, spent a day at work, taken my son to his extracurricular activities and helped him with his homework, and made sure I have time for family over dinner. After all this, I finally get some ‘me’ time, during which I study. With Aftab, I play the roles of mother, father, friend and confidante. Since he’s almost a teenager now, I make sure that communication between us is always open and free-flowing, and that our relationship is based on trust and love.
Tell us about your love for theatre.
I made my debut at the age of thee with the play ‘Lysistrata’, performed by Torn Curtains, a theatre foundation that was co-founded by my mother Mala Pasha and my uncle Tony Mirchandani. Since then, I’ve nurtured a passion for acting and have performed in several plays. After taking a break from theatre during my marriage, I reclaimed the stage two years ago with a play about breast cancer, and I have been acting ever since. My last production was ‘Tea with Everything’, which we performed extensively. I played three different characters from different backgrounds and of different age groups, which was a challenge I enjoyed thoroughly.
With Eid around the corner, tell us how you celebrate the festival.
Eid is always about family, friends and lots of good food! After a whole month of fasting, the morning of Eid starts off with the men going for namaaz, while my mother and I prepare for the day. We have an open house and host lunch for all our family and friends. Our specialities are talawa gosht and haleem, along with an exhaustive menu of traditional Hyderabadi dishes: biryani, murgi ka khorma, mirchi ka salan, khubani ka meetha and sheer khorma. It’s a traditional event in our household, a time when paandans, ittardans, sherwanis, toorkey topis and other traditional gear is worn and enjoyed by all.
What are you other interests or hobbies?
I love to drive my automatic Scorpio and listen to good music. I enjoy meeting people and going out for Karaoke night. However, I’m quite shy and restrict my own singing to the bathroom!
Describe yourself in a few words.
Hardworking, focused and sensitive. I feel my biggest strength is my sense of diplomacy.    

..... as told to Niharika