Cricket superstar Suresh Raina’s wife Priyanka on love, navigating life as a cricketer’s wife and working for causes that are close to her heart
“I believe as women, we need to stand by and uplift each other! The power of a woman is boundless! We can create, nurture and transform the world. We can be silent but not ignorant, we can be calm but not acceptant, we can be kind but not weak. We can happily put aside our wishes to make others prosper! It’s a matter of realizing our strengths because we are capable of doing things beyond our imagination.
“We are the backbone of society and that’s what makes all women savvy! Let’s embrace all savvy women!”
I may be a techie-turned-social activist, a cricketer’s wife, a mother… But what defines Priyanka Raina is the fact that she strongly believes in the philosophy: If you have an idea, a dream, go for it! Realize your strength and your powers! And the world will be your oyster…
A DISCIPLINED CHILDHOOD
I was born in Ghaziabad in UP. My father Tejpal Singh worked for the Central Government and my mother Sushila Singh is a homemaker. In Ghaziabad, we stayed in the Ordnance Factory Estate – a huge campus where everybody working with the Ordnance Factory and their families lived. My father was a mathematics teacher and also a lecturer of Hindi literature at the Ordnance Factory School.
I have two older brothers, Abhishek and Vivek. Abhishek works with Cognizance and Vivek has his own venture. Both are married with a son each and settled in Gurgaon. We share a great relationship and they have always been my support system and my best friends.
The Ordnance Factory Estate was very green, fresh and very protected. Incidentally, Suresh (Raina) was also born in the same city. We went to schools close by and almost grew up together. I went to a girls’ school, while he went to a boys’ school just across the street, where my father taught.
I come from a Jatt family, and I had a very simple and encouraging upbringing. My parents raised us with very high values and empathy towards everyone. They always taught us to live with ethics and compassion. And be it my brothers or me, we had a very equal kind of environment at home. I was never treated differently from my brothers - if they were given any privileges or encouragement to do things they wanted to, I was given that too.
TOPPER KID & DETECTIVE DREAMS
I was very studious and was the highest scorer in school. I studied in a coed school till primary, after which I joined the Jawaharlal Girls’ School. School life was fun and I was very actively involved in extra-curricular activities like classical dancing, music and scout camps. I trained in bharatnatyam for seven years and did a lot of stage performances.
As a kid though, I always wanted to join the intelligence services or even become a private detective! I think that was the effect of watching too many Byomkesh Bakshi shows when young. Another crazy thing I wanted to do was be a traveller. I guess that was because the culture at home was not much into travelling. We did some family trips but it was not like every summer we went on a holiday. And maybe because I missed it so much as a kid, I wanted to grow up and just travel…
As a student, however, I was always inclined towards science and mathematics. I remember exploring my brother’s (who
I was very studious and was the highest scorer in school. As a kid though, I always wanted to join the intelligence services or even become a private detective!
was doing his engineering in computer science) books when I was still in class 10. I would read all about the technical languages, programming etc and get very interested in computers. So after school, I went to KIET (Krishna Insititute of Engineering and Technology), which was near our house, to study engineering.
College life was full of heavy books and assignments. Four years went by quickly, as everything around was very competitive. We had semester exams every six months and everyone wanted to be a university topper. So that phase was very busy.
BANGALORE BECKONS - THE WIPRO STINT
After completing my B.Tech in Information Technology, my first job was in the IT sector - with Wipro in Bangalore. I worked there for about two years, but was out of India most of the time. We were 80 students from our college who were placed at Wipro, and we all moved there together.
Life was definitely different, especially in terms of being more independent, managing your stay, transportation, food, laundry etc… Everything was new but also exciting at the same time, as finally you’ve started earning on your own and are making a life for yourself. My parents, in fact, were so confident of me that they did not even come to Bangalore to drop me off - they were like, you book your flight and just go (haha)... Besides, Bangalore is a city teeming with people like us – coming to start their careers from scratch. So adjusting here was easy.
After about a year, I was sent to Netherlands for six months on a project. When I came back to India, I got an offer from ING Bank (in Netherlands) - they had their headquarters in Amsterdam. It was a good opportunity and I decided to move back.
Luckily, for me, I didn’t have to convince my parents to allow me to work in another country. In fact, they were more confident than me about my abilities, and that was very encouraging. Besides, since I had already spent six months in Netherlands, they knew that I was pretty well-versed with the city and the culture. They were, in fact, really happy for me, and this time too they didn’t come to see me off or anything (haha)…
LIVING ON MY OWN
Living in Netherlands was a very enriching experience professionally as well as culturally. I was working with people from all over the world and made friends with people from different cultures and backgrounds. I also picked up Dutch and had the chance to indulge in different cuisines.
I visited my parents frequently, and so did they. I loved travelling and could finally explore many places in Europe. Some of the friends I made there have remained very close. Some have moved to New
Living in Netherlands was a very enriching experience professionally as well as culturally. I loved travelling and could finally explore many places in Europe.
I’ve known Suresh since I was seven years old. Since we stayed close by, we were part of the same cultural functions and dance performances.
Zealand, some to England and some to Dubai. So it’s fun having friends everywhere…
Life there was very convenient too. Because the country is so organized, I learned to be very organized too. I would wake up on time, go to work, be back on time, cook my dinner, hit the gym, come back home, have my dinner, sleep on time… I lived a very scheduled life.
As for work, I grew from a test manager, looking into quality-related stuff and handling a team of four-five people, to a product manager and then a risk manager, handling a team of 30-40 people. It was exciting career-wise too. I also did a couple of diplomas in leadership management from the Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University) there.
LOVE BETWEEN A TECHIE & A CRICKETER
Nine years passed by really soon, and then marriage happened… Well, marriage and children were something I had not envisioned for myself at all as I was so busy travelling and working, but destiny had other plans…
Like I said earlier, I’ve known Suresh since I was seven years old. We’ve been friends since childhood and he was friends with my brothers too. Since we stayed close by, we were also part of the same cultural functions and dance performances. But I remember from the time he was really small, he was into sports. He used to spend a lot of time on the ground practising and playing basketball and cricket. Cricket, however, was never my thing…
When he was 14, he moved out of Ghaziabad as he went to the sports school in Lucknow and after that I didn’t see him much. I got busy with my college and when I
Li’l Priyanka with her brothers; shining in school