New Delhi: For Lieutenant Commander Priya Jeyakumar, it was not herself but her dreams marching down the Rajpath this Republic Day when she led the Indian Navy's first all-women officers' contingent at the ceremonial parade.
Priya was always intrigued by the Navy's way of life as a child and started loving the force as she grew up.
Her tryst with the Navy started in the family itself, with her father, who was the Naval Armament Depot.
"I used to see the officers at parties that were held. Also, I saw many women officers in uniform. I was in awe of them," she told a news agency.
Priya got her opportunity in college, where she joined the NCC Army wing and went on to bag the Best Cadet award of NCC Army, Vishakapatnam Group in 2006.
She was also the stick orderly for then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee in 2006 during the Republic Day Camp of 2006.
"Inspired by this, I joined the Navy and was commissioned in 2010," said a beaming Priya.
She is an Observer in the Navy aviation wing.
Asked how it felt to lead the all-women contingent, she said, "It felt awesome. I see myself as very fortunate".
However, she has one regret. Her husband, Lt Cdr Rahul Upadhyay, who is also an Observer in the Navy's aviation wing, could not make it to the parade, as he was posted on a ship this Republic Day.
Priya also spoke about her gruelling training sessions that began at as early as 3.30 am.
"There was a dress inspection and after that we went to the Rajpath at 5.30 am for our training. And by the time we got back to our hotel, it used to be 19:00 hrs. It took me about two days to get hold of the cold weather conditions in the capital," the officer said.