My Day: Radio host Rohini Ramnathan

Rohini Ramnathan in the Masti 96.3 fm studio
Image caption Rohini Ramnathan host an evening drive-time programme with Masti FM

Rohini Ramnathan is a jockey with a Hindi-language radio station in Singapore. She previously lived and worked in Mumbai.

In the morning, the South Indian side of me craves idlis [steamed rice and lentil cakes] for breakfast. But I don't get that often - mostly it's just tea and biscuits!

I go out to Orchard Road [a popular shopping belt] for yoga in the morning - I love feeling like I'm connected and in the centre of city.

After I get home I have to do my own housework. That's what spoilt Indian kids realise when they go abroad - you suddenly have to do your own dishes, clothes and laundry!

That's the unglamorous side of my life - between 11:00 and 14:00 I'm completely de-glamourised.

I whip up what I can for lunch - if I make something nice I'll eat it. Otherwise, I'll go out and get some bakkut teh [pork bone soup and rice]. Then I go into work.

I try to prep for the show for a few hours, before going on air at 17:00.

I host an evening drive-time programme with Masti FM - it's the only Hindi radio station in Singapore.

Image caption Rohini uses a bell to announce the start of her show

We try to keep Singapore's Hindi listeners as closely connected to the [Indian] subcontinent as we can, because we want to make them feel like they're close to what's happening back home.

By the time I come on air I'm bursting to talk to people because I've hardly talked to anyone all day.

When you're the only radio station representing a community, listeners act like they know you and that you're representing them - it feels a bit like being a congressman!

There's a lady who calls me every day - she'll call at 16:30 because she knows I'm in the studio, to ask me if I've had my tea. Then she'll call me in the middle of the show to ask if I've had some coffee yet.

People end up sharing all sorts of things with you. Some people treat it almost like going to confession: they don't know who's on the other side, so they just let go.

There are listeners who'll call in and say: "I'm in love with a girl, can you do something for me?"

They normally ask me to call the girl for them, and I have to remind them that I am not running a wedding agency! Sometimes they'll offer to sing a song on my show instead.

Moving for love

I worked in Mumbai as a radio jockey for six years before coming to Singapore. I moved from Mumbai to Singapore for love - I think that's the only reason a successful woman would move.

You can't lie on radio - my listeners know that I arrived a year ago. When I first came on air I'd get all the road names wrong. My listeners would call me and explain how to pronounce them - I was quite touched.

Image caption The programme aims to help Singapore's Hindi speakers feel connected to the Indian subcontinent

I've had a pleasant experience in Singapore - things work well here, and I love the food. And it's close to other countries, so it really is a window to this side of the world.

It's interesting how things differ culturally.

In India, if you're a mildly attractive woman you'll always be stared at - whether you like it or not. It can go to dangerous levels, because people can start Eve-teasing [sexual harassment] and it escalates.

But when I came to Singapore I almost felt unattractive. Nobody looked at me when I was out, because everyone was obsessed with their smart phones!

I speak around seven languages. I speak English and Hindi [for my show]. I speak Marathi, the state language from where I was born, and Tamil, my mother tongue.

I also speak Gujarati as everyone in the building where I grew up spoke it, and a little French and Spanish from my studies.

I finish my show at 20:00. I don't usually go back home afterwards. I like to go out, see friends, or see something cultural, like a music performance or a comedy night.

Image caption Rohini says she had to learn to produce her own show in Singapore

I've always enjoyed hosting gigs, comedy mics or performing - at the end of the day I'm just trying to expend all my energy because ultimately I feel I can't sleep with all this energy inside of me - I'll just be a zombie and be up all night.

I miss Mumbai a lot. It's my first time relocating to another city. When you've lived in a city all your life there's a certain comfort and take-it-for-grantedness.

Back home in Mumbai the scale of things is huge. I would walk into the studio and have three producers preparing my show.

People know you, and you'll get perks - for example, people will give you a table at a restaurant easily because they've heard you on the radio.

Now that I'm in Singapore I've had to learn to prepare my own show, do everything myself and get my own coffee!

But it's good. For the first time in my life, I'm actually responsible for the entire product - which means you can take all the credit when something goes well.

I found relocating to a new country really uprooting, but being on air has been the only constant, and the biggest grounding factor in my life.

It helps me realise it doesn't matter where I've been, or what I'm doing: I'm still talking to people and they're still talking to me - thank God!

Rohini Ramnathan was talking to the BBC's Helier Cheung in Singapore

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