Dreamer, achiever

Woman Of Substance

Bloom Time: Payal Kapoor has a flourishing tele-calling business in Hyderabad.

Payal Kapoor’s memories are vivid. Perhaps, the dreadful illness that struck her 17 years ago and robbed her of her eyesight makes her remember her early carefree days with more clarity than ever.

“School and college were great. My campus interview in 1990 went off like a dream and I was filled with pride on my first day at work. I was just 22 years old when I was promoted at the Krishna Oberoi at Hyderabad where I had been working as front desk executive for two years,” she recalls. She was caught up in whirl of activity — clocking  gruelling hours at work and dreaming of the great life that lay ahead of her. Then, quite suddenly, her world came crashing down.

Shockwaves
“It all began with a mild fever. Then, I was told I had amoebiasis. I was in excruciating pain and before I knew it, I had lost my sight, and my ability to smell and taste. I suffered from a stiff neck and had shooting pain on my left side,” Payal says. “A few days before my world went dark, I had a dark spot below my left eye. Upon examination, it was found to be a condition called papelo edema. I began losing vision in my left eye. Since this is a lateral condition, it began to affect my right eye as well. The fluid pressure, which began building in the brain, deprived me of my other senses, but thankfully I could smell and taste after a few months but my vision was gone,” she explains. 

 Though born in Amritsar, Payal spent her growing up years in Hyderabad. A student of St. Anne’s College, she aspired to be a journalist but when the opportunity to pursue hotel management at the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology in Hyderabad came up, she thought it was too tempting to reject. 

Her father, Vinod Kapoor, who settled in Hyderabad in the early 70s following a job transfer from Mumbai, and mother Vijay, have always been extremely supportive of her decisions. “In fact, the cheerful smile that lights up my face today, the confidence I exude and the determination I have are because of their love and support,” she says.

Bouncing back
It took six years for Payal to come to terms with her condition, but when she snapped out of depression she was determined to make all her dreams come true. At Caring Aid for the Visually Impaired, a Hyderabad-based NGO, she enrolled for independent mobility classes. She also began to learn braille. “Braille was particularly difficult for me. I dreaded the idea of running my fingers through the dots to understand the content of a page. But I was determined to do it since I knew it was necessary,” she says.  

During her training classes, Payal met Keith Trevor, a friend of the person who managed Caring Aid. Though the first meeting was brief, Keith returned to see his friend a year later and found Payal working for the organisation as a resource person. “We became good friends. After two years, we decided to get married,” she says.

Sensitive spouse
Keith, an interior designer, was determined to make their home easy for Payal to navigate. “Misplacing gas lighters in the kitchen may be the most commonplace experience for many women, but not for me,” she chortles. “Keith has attached a small metal holder to the stove on which the lighter can be kept, so I don’t have to spend precious time looking for it.” Thanks to her independent spirit and her thoughtful husband, she does all her chores quickly amd efficiently. 

Business of life
Payal set up her own organisation called Maitree in 2004, where she put her hotel management skills and knowledge to good use. “One of my friends is the head of sales of a new  hotel and she was keen that I promote the hotel through tele-calling. Though my first contract was for three months, I now have my own portfolio of corporate clients and a sales target each month. This is a huge challenge and I quite enjoy it,” says Payal.

Memories, especially of the last few movies she saw, the grim hospital ward where she spent time enduring the illness and the last good look at her face, continue to haunt her.  “Of course, I wish things would go back to being the way they were before I lost my sight. If I could still see, I would have zoomed ahead in my career. But life doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to. Instead of complaining, I do my best to get the best out of every situation,” says this spunky woman.

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