Who is the woman behind the highly accomplished Senator and Attorney-at-Law? We asked Jayanti Lutchmedial 16 questions to find out.
1. What was your favourite age growing up?
I think I enjoyed my 14-16 years a lot. I sort of discovered my voice and what I wanted out of life, who I wanted to be.
I was always outspoken but you know with girls especially, people tend to think you’re too bossy or opinionated when you express your views, and people try to suppress those qualities, whereas with boys they encourage that type of behavior and consider them “leadership material”.
Around that age I became more confident and comfortable asserting myself and being who I am.
2. What is it you remember most about the place or time you grew up?
I remember the routines which all revolved around family and church. I remember distinctly the old Gulf City Mall with NCB bank, Shade’s restaurant and Mario’s pizza. My mom, brother and I went for pizza every Saturday after we did our chores, then watched Mastana Bahar with maternal grandparents.
Sunday was church, buying bread in Attong’s bakery, going Debe for doubles then visiting paternal grandparents and watching the TTT Indian movie. We did that for years without fail.
3. What your best memory from your school days? What is your worst memory?
My best memory was hiding and playing all-fours with my friends. It was against the rules. I felt like a rebel with a cause, because I thought it was a stupid rule.
My worst memory is probably the day I was going to write Common Entrance and I started crying uncontrollably, I was so scared of doing badly and disappointing my family. The pressure on me to do well academically was far too extreme, and I try my best not to be so demanding with my own kid.
4. How old were you when you had your first celebrity crush, and who was it?
Gosh, I had liked Richard Dean Anderson aka MacGyver – I was probably about 7 or 8. I liked that he could fix everything with his Swiss Army knife. It’s probably a gender bias I have but I like men who can fix things around the house and use tools.
5. Who was the biggest influence in your life? How did they influence you?
I’ve had a few. People influence you in different ways. My mom is definitely one and probably the biggest. She’s always guided me and gives her opinion (even unsolicited, actually mostly unsolicited) on everything. Because we share a professional background as well our relationship has many dimensions. Her biggest influence though has probably been through setting an example for perseverance.
Mr Anand Ramlogan SC has also been a huge influence on my professional life.
6. What was the best vacation you ever took and why?
My 2 best trips were both to NYC. The first was to see U2 in concert (which was mind blowing). And the other was a Christmas week. I did a lot of Shopping, broadway shows and saw the NYC ballet Nutcracker performance. It was awesome. Christmas in NY is really magical
7. What is your favourite book? favourite movie?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was always a favourite book of mine. The four March sisters are unique and have different personalities, talents and views on life and love. But they each have value. I think there is an important lesson in there. We are not all the same but we each add value.
The way we define womanhood is often far too shallow and rigid. Whilst I may have admired and wanted to be like Jo, there is nothing wrong with Meg who is more motherly and marries for love even though she has to live a modest life. As women I wish we all admired and respected each other’s choices, whether it’s to be a Career woman, homemaker, work from home mom, married with no kids, lots of kids, single, married or divorced. No choice is better or superior.
Another book I read as an adult that moved me was “The Kite Runner” because of the enormous emphasis on the historical and cultural context. I felt like reading that book was a whole education.
I can’t say I have a favourite movie, but I like Batman movies, all of them. Val Kilmer was my favourite Batman.
8. Do you have a favourite holiday? Why or why not?
Christmas is always special to me. It was a big family affair and everyone was always happy and doing things together. Also my birthday is Boxing Day and now my daughter was also born on Boxing Day. So it is an entirely festive season.
9. What’s your favourite quote from a TV show/movie/book?
“Let no man live uncurbed by law, nor curbed by tyranny.” It is attributed to Goddess Athena who created the court system in the Greek plays called the Oresteia, where social order is established through a system of Justice.
Lord Sumption, retired jurist, describes it as a “timeless and universal” message in his book “Trials of the State” which is also a great read.
10. What’s your most prized possession and why?
I’m not really attached to material things. But I do have one or two pieces of jewelry that carry sentimental value, a bayra that belonged to my great grandmother and a ring my grandmother gave me when I was awarded a scholarship
11. Not counting your mother, which other family member are you closest to?
My neice and I have a very special bond. Even though she lives abroad, she and I have a unique and special relationship. She is almost 11. Everyone says she looks like me.
12. Has your family ever pressured you to act a certain way?
Yes! All the time lol. My parents are very strict and when it came to socializing and education etc I didn’t get much leeway or choices. I am from one of those families where you could choose to be a doctor or a lawyer, nothing else.
They are still very much involved in my life and I’m called to account quite often. I’m almost 40 but my mother always knows where I am and what time I’m coming home. It feels a little ridiculous at times.
13. What life lessons have you had to learn the hard way?
That sometimes no matter how hard you try, your best is sometimes not good enough and nothing you do or say will change that.
14. Do you volunteer at all?
I belong to an NGO which focuses not just on charity but on advocacy and overall empowerment as well, which I like. You know the saying about not just giving fish to eat today but teaching someone how to fish. That’s the philosophy.
I prefer to do my own thing when it comes to charity without the strictures of groups. So I’ll pick up a stray dog and take them to the vet and get them adopted. (we have 11 rescue dogs btw) or randomly read about a family in need or who experienced a tragedy and just quietly donate some stuff. I’ve done this more recently through some of our MPs and Councillors.
15. When you want to give up, what keeps you going?
Naturally, my daughter. I want to make her proud. I also have a great support system in the form of a few but very valuable friends.
16. If you could time travel, when and where would you go?
Hmm – maybe the future. To see what my daughter would be like as a teenager and adult. I stare at her when she is asleep next to me and wonder what life has in store for this little person that I made.