A common question that we pose to new friends, potential employees and anyone that we are trying to get to know better is “What are your hobbies?” A hobby is any activity that a person indulges in beyond their everyday work. Hobbies are not only fun, but studies show that they promote better mental health and productivity. Hobbies like dancing, photography, yoga or painting are a few common hobbies. Some women go a step ahead with some pretty unconventional hobbies. In a society where gender stereotypes are still prevalent, women’s hobbies were only considered valid if they included cooking, knitting, and other “feminine” pastimes. Women with unique hobbies are quite literally breaking down barriers by doing things no one expects of them.  These unconventional hobbies might take you by surprise. And who knows, they might inspire you!

Trekking

Aheli Dutta, a postgraduate student, says that she fell in love with trekking the first time she went on a trip. It was a trip around a mountainous area with her family at the age of fourteen. Climbing, she emphasizes, is difficult “but the pay-off is so worth it.” She adds, “Especially when you see the scenery, and breathe in the clean hair.” For her, it helps to forget the general stress of everyday life.

Pen-Pals

Having a pen-pal helps you learn about other cultures and experience the world through someone else’s words. It’s quite an experience.

In the age of social media, it’s easy to connect with anyone no matter how far they may be in terms of culture and distance. Talking to someone who lives next door is as easy as talking to someone who resides in Germany. But when Sutapa Sarkar, a company worker in her 40s, started writing to her Belgian friend, this was not the case. The idea of having a pen-pal was definitely not encouraged. “I started writing to Isabella Saxer at the age of sixteen.” She remembers how her father found out. “He was very skeptical that it might be someone scamming me.” Having a pen-pal helps you learn about other cultures and experience the world through someone else’s words. It’s quite an experience. “Me and Isabella are friends on Facebook today and still keep in touch.”

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Digital Art

These women are not only chasing their own inner satisfaction and fulfillment by pursuing such unconventional hobbies, they are also inspiring others to try and do something a little different.

Although slowly attaining more popularity in India, digital art is still a style of art that isn’t so much practiced as a hobby. Pallavi Mitra, a student of Comparative Literature, said that she started doodling at the age of thirteen. She did it to help herself concentrate better. Later, she progressed from paper to mobile to finally, the drawing tablet. “It’s the only way I can express myself when I feel the urge to. It’s also really therapeutic.” It helps her express her opinions, and play around with colours and shades.

These women are not only chasing their own inner satisfaction and fulfillment by pursuing such unconventional hobbies, they are also inspiring others to try and do something a little different. This is not to stand out from the crowd, necessarily, but to feel more empowered.

Picture Credit: Stanford University

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The views expressed are the author’s own.

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