MEENA JEHAN

Meena, thank you for joining me today. Let’s do this. You just moved to Dubai, how do you like it?

Dubai is... quite a sight to behold. The last time I was here I was a child and it was all basically sand. It’s perplexing to see all the buildings, the people and basically the birth of one of the world’s greatest cities, an alternative to London or New York, for example. It’s perplexing and truly a statement of progress and hard work.

Before Dubai I was living in Boston which gave me a bit of a culture shock, seeing all these different types of people, with their different backgrounds and cultures. I’m currently working with people who are from all over the world, from all types of religions and races. Which, now that I think about it, was pretty much how my senior year at Yale was (Laughs). Outside of Yale though, not so much.

I spent the earlier part of my life working non-profit and it was wonderful but right now I feel like I need to learn more about the theory and how the process works to bring about real change.


So you’re an idealist?

Well, we can’t all be jaded (laughs). I’ve seen a lot where I’m from. But I still have hope for the better.


We might have an opportunity for you to bring about real change.

What can you tell me about that?

Profile interview by Meena Jehan for

JESPIONNE

Speaking of Yale, you graduated there with honors. That’s a pretty impressive feat. How did you end up in that school in the first place?

Well, I was born and raised in Kashmir and it was wonderful, I loved it. My parents were very accomplished people and they made sure I had every option available, in terms of education and traveling. I was very fortunate. I wrote an essay back when I was in High School, in Murray, in which I talked about the existing tensions between India and Pakistan which gathered a lot of attention from my teachers and supervisors.

They ended up sending the essay to several schools and next thing I knew Yale was offering me a scholarship.


Can you talk about your experience in Yale?

Yeah, sure. I loved the campus, it reminded me of home, with all the green and the nature. I loved how much I grew there, how many people I met and how many friendships I developed. I had some amazing professors, for example, I studied Foreign Policy but James Berger was so good that my favorite class ended up being Literature. Who would’ve thought, you know?

picture3

What was your biggest challenge while studying there?

Probably mastering the American accent (Laughs). The moment I nailed it I felt so good and then a friend told me that I spoke with a Boston accent, which was a little surprising.


What was your most defining experience at Yale?

The fact that I got this job, obviously.


I don’t mean to be impolite, but how did you manage to find a job with the Senator of Massachusetts?

Well.. Senator Kerry came to speak at Yale during my last semester there, while I was working on my senior thesis that talked about Indian and Pakistan affairs. That captured his interest, which led to a few

interviews in DC and then I was offered the job. Now I’m in Dubai, which is a current hot zone for American foreign policy, which makes my job crucial since I get to lead the research the secretary needs on all policy matters related to existing governments. I get little sleep but it’s incredibly rewarding work.


Can you tell me a bit about your job? How is it working for Senator John Kerry?

I’m his Special Correspondent, so I basically have to do his research when he comes to the area, find out about all the policies that are made against the US, lead his meetings. I get to travel a lot which is great. I do mostly one day trips, which isn’t so great (Laughs). It can be a little draining. But I’m incredibly fortunate, it’s a very rewarding job.

picture4

Is there anything you wish you could do right now?

(Pauses) I remember doing volunteer work in my village in Kashmir and then also in Murree during school – I miss the fields of gold and the sound of the old trains going by the mountains every afternoon. There was something organic about helping neighbors struggling with day to day issues. Part of me wishes that I was in the thick of things, on the ground, working with my hands and helping everyday people, you know? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that real change can only happen if you get involved in the politics of the world. And, if you get your hands dirty while working directly on solving issues with a long term view. I wish I had more time to do both.

Change can only happen if you get involved with the politics of the world. And, if you get your hands dirty while working directly on the issue.

picture5

I spent the earlier part of my life working non-profit and it was wonderful but right now I feel like I need to learn more about the theory and how the process works to bring about real change.


So you’re an idealist?

Well, we can’t all be jaded (laughs). I’ve seen a lot where I’m from. But I still have hope for the better.


We might have an opportunity for you to bring about real change.

What can you tell me about that?

Nothing for now. Let’s keep going, what are you passionate about besides saving the world?

Horseback riding. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid and stopped while I was in college. I just got back into it and I’ve been training for some races. I also love singing, but I never stopped doing that. We did a lot of both back in my house when I was a kid.


You mentioned racing, are you planning on going to Ascot?

(Pauses). Yes.

Does your invitation come from your royal connections?


I’m curious to how you’re privy to that information. But yes, it did come from them.

Trust me, before we interview anyone we make sure that we know everything about the possible candidates.

Well it looks like you did your home work on me for sure. What else do you want to know, because I am not in the mood to talk about family.

Ijust got back into Riding and I’ve been training hard. Cant wait to show off at the Races next season. Till then will just have to support the cricket team. Love them with all their flaws.

LIVE FEED

PHOTOS

St. Dominic’s jtl / Yale / Beinecke / Margaret Kerry / NY Mag / Sylvain Brajeul / Rugusavay / Royal Ascott / Charles Freger / Gettys Images / AF Photography


TAGS

Aman Resorts / Rajasthan / Luxury Resorts / Royal Ascot Races / Clarence House Chase Race Day / Queen Elizabeth / Monarchy / Ascot Attire / Seher Shah / Sadequain / Abindarnath Tagore / Asian Contemporary Art / Miniature Painting / Edwin Weeks / Dhoni T20 World Cup / John Kerry / Obama / Wagah / Kashmir / Noor Jehan / Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten.

February 5 th, 2018

INTERVIEWS