Calling all creative minds! I’m honored to present you to Moheindu Chemjong, humanitarian, accomplished author, and now, our member of the month. She’s published three books since her sabbatical from working with the United Nations and the Red Cross with victims of conflict around the world. Moheindu is an absolute inspiration with a true talent for telling captivating stories—fictional and non. She’s gifted me all her books, and I’m working my way through them now, but I love them already (lucky me, right?)! Have you ever met someone who lives each and every day grateful, full of compassion and appreciation, AND makes sure those around them know how valued they are? Well, that’s Moheindu for you! I’m proud to call her a member of our community, and more important, a friend. I know you’re ready to get to know her better now, so buckle in, read on, and grab the tissues!
What do you do? Tell us a little bit about your work.
The last office job I had was in the field of international development with the United Nations. I was in a very good place in my career, and I thoroughly loved the work I was doing. But I just felt that the time had come for me to stop ignoring this secret beating in my heart. I decided to work on this other dream that I had been harboring all my life of being a writer and publishing books. I thought: “It’s now or never,” as Elvis sang, and I decided to tick this off my bucket list to put my soul back to ease.
Therefore, I am taking a sabbatical to write full time, and do not work 9 to 5. I eat, breathe, sleep words! As I had planned, I published two books, A Metamorphic Odyssey (memoir) and Kirati Folk Stories (available on Amazon) in the last few years, and I am almost done with my last project, Intensity for now. I mostly stay engaged in researching, writing, revising, editing and/or working on the illustrations/pictures. At other times, I am collecting ideas and reflecting on them. Apart from that, I stay busy hosting guests, entertaining friends, and family, having interesting conversations, reading endlessly, going on walks, enjoying performing arts, swimming, and music of many genres, and above all, learning new things every single day from the school of life right from economics, international politics to minimalism, to making bouillabaisse and chocolate truffles for my next party. The reason why I mention all of these is because for a writer, inspiration is everything and I am always on the lookout for that special something, for something that tugs at my heart, for my next muse.
What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
The day I graduated, I promised myself that I would work in a humanitarian/international development arena. I am proud of the fact that I did just that in the UN in different positions, including that as a Project Manager of a global humanitarian UNDP (United Nations Development Project) project. Likewise, I also worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) working for the conflict victims. I feel utterly satisfied about the fact that I gave my heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into my almost decade long career. The funny thing is that I was single and there was no work-life balance and only work, work, work and I am only learning about the other aspects of life right now!
My work had a tremendous impact on me. It was life-changing and I underwent this huge, big metamorphosis from a military brat into who I am as a person today and I had no choice but to pen my memoir. In a way, I could say that my work led me to my old, buried, cherished dream of being an author and, hence, I am making the most of this writing hiatus.
What could you give a 30-minute presentation about with no advance preparation?
Given the books I have read, people I have met and the experiences I have gathered, I think I could give an impromptu presentation either on the pressing humanitarian needs of the world or perhaps on the power of wearing rosy-tinted glasses of positivity for a happy/fulfilling life.
What strategies do you use to make big decisions?
Though I am a soft-hearted soul, I like using my head for the big decisions I have to make in life. I normally like doing detailed research, examining, and analyzing the issue from different angles and thinking through the impact of the decision before coming to a conclusion. My father was a Brigadier in the army and, even as a little girl, he insisted to me that we always weigh the pros and cons before making a decision, and I have taken that to heart. And, I remember how my mother always says, “Darling, sleep over it,” and I somehow do exactly that, if and when I can. Quiet reflection time, either in absolute silence or to the accompaniment of classical music combined with my fancy stationary always facilitates the process!
What’s one thing you’re learning now, and why is it important?
The one thing I am learning now is not to take anyone and anything for granted and to make the most of life, every single day. These days, I believe in living life full size, squeezing all the juices of every passing day and celebrating every milestone. I am ever grateful to God for the five senses that we are blessed with, and I try to enjoy one thing at least once a day whether it be a classical piece, a visit to the spa, enjoying musicals, symphonies, or the ballet, a visit to the museum (been to the Philbrook at least 15 times!), a nice meal at a decent restaurant or even a shopping spree. On a super light vein, they say life is short and one should always wear pretty shoes, and the running joke in my family is that I have taken this a bit too seriously!
Life can be unpredictable—the pandemic demonstrated just that. The person/s you have in your life today may not be there tomorrow and the things that you enjoy today might not be there tomorrow and life is quickly slipping through our fingers every day. Through the humanitarian/international development work that I did, I saw the pain and sufferings of the conflict victims, the impacts of war on the poorest of the poor and met hundreds and hundreds of people who were looking for some kind of light. I have also moved around quite a bit, living in different parts of the world and so while I am here in Tulsa now, I am thoroughly enjoying myself-soaking in the small-town vibes and I have fallen madly, deeply, hopelessly, head over heels in love with the countryside.
What is the plot of your favorite movie or book?
Somehow, my life has been punctuated with many career breaks. There have been years in my life where my principal job has been to visit libraries and enjoy books, books, and more books. I have easily read over 1,000+ books besides the ones on Management and Politics (my majors at Uni). So, I am afraid I have too many favorite books! The basic themes have been positivity, psychology, and spirituality in a lifelong attempt to understand life better, to make sense of it all, and to be able to make the most of this beautiful, transient life.
As for movies, I love Christmas movies, Bond movies, the old movies from the Romantic Period (read: Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Jane Eyre, etc.) and documentaries that throw light on the lives of people living around the world.
Given unlimited resources, how would you go about making the world a better place?
If that were possible, I would use my intellect to use the unlimited resources to help fulfill the basic needs of many fellow human beings who are living in different parts of the world and do not have enough food, water, shelter, sanitation, and have no access to healthcare, legal services, education, and information, and the many whose lives have turned upside down due to the natural and man-made disasters of modern times.
I would use my heart and soul to spread hope. In a world where dark clouds of impatience and intolerance loom large and the skies seem obscured, it is very easy to want to give up hope. I believe the whole world could benefit with hope, an empathetic ear, soothing words, kind-heartedness, and affirmative actions. I would once again hold the hands of those who think they are all alone and have lost all hope. I would give them a tight hug, look them in the eye, and tell them they matter. I would encourage them to look to the bright skies and tell them to hang on in there because actions are being taken to uplift their lives.
As a convent-educated girl, I always grew up hearing the Sisters say, “It is in giving that we do receive,” which I believe in. Therefore, that would be a dream come true, the greatest honor of my life helping uplift the lives of many!
What is one of your favorite things about being a member of The Root Coworking?
I love many things about The Root Coworking! I look upon each day I spend at The Root as a treat to myself. May I take liberty to take you through the process: The minute I walk in, I am greeted by the wonderful staff who are always so cheerful and polite. The bright lights, the modern décor pieces in a very contemporary interior design setting, the carefully curated musical lists playing and the artwork arrest my senses. I smile my happy smile. As I walk further, I feel I am surrounded by a ball of bright orange of positivity, and it almost feels like a mini-session on sacral chakra healing! Then as I settle in, I rub shoulders with my wonderful coworkers who are friendly, positive, and who all seem to be busy working toward their goals and are often in their zone, zeroed in at work almost like the artists in the throes of creations. The energy is unmistakably positive, and I tell you this positivity, this passion is infectious, and I can’t help it; I just catch the vibe! Add to that, the occasional sugary confectionaries in the kitchen, my creative juices flow easily and my heart naturally bursts into a song, almost all the time I am there.
And then, there are those sacred hours spent in the kitchen area adjacent to the reception (I fancy it as the writing nook!) where I often settle in with a drink and my monthly magazines, Foreign Affairs, Time, Breathe, etc. With laughter, giggles and music in the background and an interesting chit-chat here and there, I feel I belong, I feel connected to fellow humans and to the world I am living in. I take it as my dose of the “writers’ spices concoction!” Forgive me if one day, I forget the decorum and start dancing like Pharell Williams!