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From Mumbai slums to Microsoft: Woman inspires with her life story

Shaheena Attarwala shares her journey on social media after watching her old home in the slums in a Netflix series.


A Staff Reporter

Published: Fri 28 Jan 2022, 3:38 PM

When Shaheena Attarwala, who works for Microsoft, saw the old hut in a slum colony near the Bandra railway station in Mumbai, where she spent her childhood, in the Netflix series, Bad Boy Billionaires, it brought back horrendous memories of her childhood there.

"Life in the slum was hard and exposed me to severest living conditions, gender bias, and sexual harassment but it also fuelled my curiosity to learn and to design a different life for myself," she told a television channel.

"By the age of 15, I had observed many women around me were helpless, dependent, abused, and going through life without having the freedom to make their own choices or to be who they wanted to be. I did not want to accept the default fate that awaited me.”

Shaheena’s father had migrated from Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai and was a hawker on the streets of Bandra. When she saw a computer in school, she realised that these gadgets would prove to be great levellers. She recalled forcing her father to borrow money and send her to a computer class. She began saving money, skipping lunch and walking home instead of taking a bus.

The efforts paid off and she pursued her career in design. She attributes much of it to her father, who “after decades of living in the slums, his patience and sacrifice has helped us elevate to a better life. We focused on savings, living below our means and sacrificing where necessary."

“In 2021, my family moved to an apartment where we can see the sky from home, good sunlight & ventilation,” she said on Twitter.

“Surrounded by birds & Greenery. From my father being a hawker & sleeping on roads to having a life, we could barely dream of. Luck, Hardwork & picking battles that matter😌.”

And Shaheena had some good advice for young girls. "Do whatever it takes to acquire education, skills, and careers, this is what's going to be a huge game-changer for young girls," she said.

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