Vimla Patil’s motivation for penning her memoirs My Times is to tell “the story of the impact of such a journal [Femina] and … [paint] the portrait of an organisation which made such a journal possible. I don’t feel that she manages to do either in entirety.
Patil’s book seems to be divided into two; the good and the bad. In the first few chapters successes seem to be around every corner. She appears to have Midas’s touch. Femina does well consistently, with almost no pitfalls. And so does the Miss India venture. Any problems or hindrances that might have been there are usually skimmed over or overcome. This makes her memoirs appear not entirely genuine, like a part of the story is being withheld. I feel her achievements would have had a greater impact on the reader if equal importance had been given to shortcomings and successes.
Furthermore, her intention was to tell the story of the impact of Femina. This she does only in one chapter when she talks about eminent doctors demystifying women’s health issues in the journal. In many of the other chapters she details what how women’s status changed in three decades but does not clearly outline Femina’s contribution to the cause.
The last half a dozen chapters all focus almost entirely on the negative. She writes about Samir Jain and his abhorrent management policies, and has dedicated an entire chapter to Pritish Nandy’s inadequacies. She did have to deal with Nandy quite a bit but not so much with Jain. Thus most of her criticisms concerning Samir Jain are just hearsay and not based on first hand knowledge.
As the editor of one of India’s longest running women centric journals, I expected much more from Patil’s memoirs. But unfortunately, My Times fails to deliver an impact the way it was intentioned.