Amrutam Nari x Rochelle Pinto

Meet Rochelle Pinto

Rochelle Pinto has figured out the ultimate way to seduce the reader: to conjure up beautiful images in the language you are most comfortable in. For her, it is the difference between saying, ‘Oh, it’s a beautiful sunset’ and saying ‘The sunset looked like someone had set the sky on fire.’

Anyone who knows Rochelle can vouch for her inexorable caliber. A former contributor to ELLE, Vogue and GQ India, she has also co-authored Kareena Kapoor Khan’s official book and is now leading the team of Tweak India, a media company by Twinkle Khanna, as the editor. Under her earnest guidance, Tweak has inspired meaningful dialogues about and surrounding women’s lives. She’s currently spending time with her parents in Goa, devouring homemade sponge-cakes and finding solace in the town’s quietness.

“Spending time with people I love inevitably involves sitting around the dinner table or the kitchen island, talking over each other and making fun of everyone while simultaneously stuffing our faces,” she says.

An annoying, inquisitive kid

Rochelle’s childhood memories are majorly of her being that annoying, inquisitive kid who loved asking “means?” every time someone said a big word she didn’t understand. For someone who learned to read by 3, asking questions, figuring out answers and challenging authority came naturally to her, which she says, is your base for building a career in journalism. “My poor parents just needed to distract me they could catch a break,” she adds.

“We were struggling financially, but the one thing we had in abundance was books and I discovered that knowledge was a great equalizer. You could be the poorest person in the room by virtue of your bank account and still command everyone’s attention if you have something smart and engaging to say. That kind of power is addictive.”

I remember stumbling upon one of Rochelle’s Instagram stories where she mentioned about the recklessness of people and the way they went on to abuse the environment despite struggling through a pandemic. Her anger was contagious and for all the right reasons, of course. But this particular instance is a testament to how her ability to question and challenge hasn’t been confined to her career. She cares deeply about all things she stands for – whether or not they seem glamorous in the larger context.

A bundle of boundless energy

Often described as opinionated, outgoing, and open to new experiences, Rochelle is also someone who would most likely get in or cause trouble (as stated by her friends)! She shares in abundance and understands what drives her. Short, crisp sentences are what she inclines to when she is writing a piece but longer sentences inevitably find a way in her craft. “My brain really comes alive around noon and then I have boundless enthusiasm and energy for whatever you want to do until about 12:30 AM. After that, I’m still enthusiastic, but my eyes don’t necessarily cooperate,” she says.

As an editor, Rochelle’s work inescapably involves a lot of reading and of course, writing. She admits to having struggled to find the time to read for pleasure but she is keen to dive into Avni Doshi’s Burnt Sugar. She has also just finished watching Sharp Objects and toggles between It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Queer Eye, and Dark to indulge her impatience. A hopeless lover of ceramics and watercolor art, Rochelle also loves to follow @ceramicsmagazine and @watercolour_guide – the two handles that she claims to tickle her brain.

On being grounded

Times are uncertain and we have all had our fair shares of meltdowns in the past few months, given our sheer inability to meet the goals we had set for ourselves. So, when I ask Rochelle how she manages to deal with the pressure of performing better than before, she goes on:

“I’m coming to terms with the fact that we have days where we’re like pandas and all we want to do is eat, laze and roll around in the grass with friends. Then there are days when we’re like the beaver, building something with single-minded focus. We need both the panda and the beaver to survive and be successful, in the long run.”

Along with checking in with herself time and again, yoga and composting keep her grounded, especially when the internal pressure to perform becomes too overwhelming. Since, in the age of capitalism and hustle-culture, ‘productivity’ is that one buzz word that almost never seems to leave our brains, Rochelle also browses through anti-capitalist memes that point out how not everything that brings you joy has to be an ‘achievement’.

Soaking up inspiration

Her generous nature and acerbic approach to everything she engages with makes her what she calls a ‘parasite sponge’ who soaks up life lessons and ideas from people she meets – in person and those she encounters in books and movies. “It would be impossible to single out one person [who has inspired me], though my parents and grandparents have designed the blueprint for my moral and intellectual compass,” says Rochelle.

“My family laid great emphasis on treating everyone equally, regardless of where they came from, respecting all cultures and acknowledging your own privilege by being generous and humble. One thing I absorbed, perhaps unconsciously, is that you shouldn’t live your life based on what other people are going to think or say. Even Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi have haters. So why bother playing by other people’s rules?”

2020 has been a year of gruelling anxiety and uneasiness. In one of her Instagram posts, Rochelle speaks of a trick that has helped her break the loop which is to think of a happy place, (for her, it happens to be her grandmother’s house in Goa) and force your brain to retrace its physical dimensions, smells and sounds. After all of this is over, she is excited to hug her friends and sit around a table laughing and sharing food without having a sword hanging over their heads.

Superpower as a woman

All women are blessed with some or the other superpowers, that help them excel at their work. Rochelle is not only incredibly generous in nature but is also a disciplinarian. She says, “Women are naturally empathetic and can read emotions, which has helped me with leading a team.” We are also used to having to fight harder to prove ourselves because of the way the system is stacked against us. Rochelle believes it has made us stronger and more resilient.

Rochelle’s message to the readers is:

“Don’t feel guilty for taking time out of your other obligations to indulge yourself and feel good, especially if you are a mom. Women are raised to be self-sacrificing and the woman who puts herself last is lauded by the patriarchal society as the feminine ideal. It is a trap – one that is designed to make us feel like we’re never doing enough so we constantly seek external validation. You cannot be a good friend, mother, spouse or co-worker if you are not fulfilled and taking control of your life. And it starts with figuring out who you are and what you want to do.”

Rochelle Pinto is truly a force to reckon with. Her words, wisdom and wit are the ultimate weapons that help her lead a team with vigour, vision and empathy. We are beyond grateful to have her as part of our #AmrutamFamily!

More on #AmrutamNari:

  1. Sahar Mansoor, Founder, Bare Necessities
  2. Manali Shah, Asst. Digital Features Editor, ELLE India
  3. Aafreen Ansari, Mental Health Activist & Forbes Asia 30 under 30 List
  4. Ankita Kumar, Travel Content Creator
  5. Aanchal Malhotra, Oral Historian & Author
  6. Shramona Poddar, Travel & Lifestyle Blogger and Co-runs Amrapali Boutique
  7. Rohini Kejriwal, Curator & Founder, The Alipore Post
  8. Kshitija Sarda, Founder & CEO, Platform For Artists
  9. Aditi Surana, Graphologist & High-Performance Coach

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