Gypsy Queen: Anushka Sharma


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Published Verve Magazine (Cover story) April 2015 and on
Photographs by Prasad Naik

Anushka Sharma for Verve Magazine April 2015 cover

“I don’t think I have ever felt like I have belonged to any place.” Coming from an army background, she has spent her youth travelling around the country. Even Bengaluru, where she spent most of her time, wasn’t really home. Anushka Sharma moved to Mumbai over eight years ago with no connections, accompanied by just her mother and brother. “The beauty of my childhood, the lovely experiences I had…all came into focus when I didn’t have them anymore.”

The arrival into the city, into the civilian world, made her appreciate the sheltered and contained life she had lived before. “That’s what your journey is about — when you are living it you don’t know what it is, you are only experiencing emotions. In the army background you are prepped to live in order; when you come out of it, you experience chaos. You live and you continue the motions to cope with it. You ride the tide. You can’t stop and think; you go with the flow.”

In her new, comfortably appointed home in Versova, she tucks herself into a nook of her massive sofa and bites into an extra-large samosa with relish. This particular house has been a labour of love; with an entire floor (over 6000 square feet) devoted to private spaces for her parents, her brother and herself. Bright vases, patterned wallpaper, large mirrors, distressed furniture all radiate a happy, lived-in vibe. After the success of the Aamir Khan-starrer, PK, she’s shooting nights, and also juggling the launch of her maiden production venture, NH10 while awaiting the release of Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet with Ranbir Kapoor. She doesn’t have the jaded eye of a seasoned traveller or the wide-eyed wonder of a newbie. She’s free from poetry but she finds the silent music that calls out to her when she moves to her own rhythm. Over cups of cappuccino made with freshly crushed coffee beans and topped with smileys patterned in the foam, we discover the girl behind the gypsy.

“Mumbai made me grow up.”
“I was 17 or 18 when I came to Mumbai. I didn’t have any friends when I came here. My brother (older by four years) accompanied me…we got even closer. You learn so much about yourself. For an outsider, the city doesn’t have a residential vibe, unlike Bengaluru and Delhi. Here, every area is a mix of workplaces and homes. You are constantly surrounded by a rapid pace and energy. You find it daunting, you get involved in it, you get sucked into it and finally find your calm in the city.”

“Mumbai is an extremely professional city.”
“I have gotten a lot from it and I have grown to respect the place. There is a vein in which people who live here function, especially those who have come from outside to work. People are hard-working — constantly on the move, constantly trying to make something out of their lives.”

“Although you are a part of this huge population, you are constantly alone.”
“People say Mumbai is a lonely city. Everyone’s moving in a hurry. No one casually chats with anyone. In a train filled with people, no one is having a conversation. Everyone is in his or her own zone. And you want that, you are looking for this time to yourself.”

“I just want to be left alone when I am travelling.”
“Even when nobody knew who I was, I would explore places as if I were lost in my own world. That’s the time you enjoy your privacy. In India I can only see places when I am shooting, because they are cordoned off. It’s only abroad that I can experience something as normal as getting out of the hotel and walking on the street rather than getting into a car and going somewhere….”

“I’m not interested in sightseeing.”
“As actors we travel a lot. We live in places for 15 days to a month and a half. A film crew is always interested in the sights. For me, it’s all about the experience. I want to go to a restaurant; I want to walk on the streets and eat in the quaint places, experiencing the local flavour of the place. That’s exciting.”

“I always end up talking to strangers.”
“While growing up I used to watch a lot of travel shows. The one thing that connects people and places is food. There are so many stories you hear when you go to a restaurant or to a bar, meeting local people, talking to them. That discovery is very important, which is why I don’t like going to touristy places. If my friends want to go to Goa, I won’t take them to Baga. It will be to a place that I have discovered after several visits to Goa.”

“I’ve always been open to new experiences.”
“Travel is anything that enables you to have a different perspective on things, which could be 50 or 5000 kilometres away. I constantly want to see and know more. I don’t have a wish list, because when you really want to connect to places you keep your horizons wide and open.”

“I find it difficult to connect to European countries.”
“I find that language is a barrier — as much as I love Europe and its unique culture — I don’t think about living or having a house there.”

“I bring back fridge magnets from every place I go to.”
“I also always pick up one for a friend. Unfortunately, in this (new) home, I am unable to put up the magnets on the modular kitchen fridge, so now I just keep them or give them to people….”

“My home is very personal.”
“I didn’t want someone to just do my house. I didn’t want an opulent looking place with chandeliers and velvet or the colour red. I find it impersonal. I wanted a space that would be an extension of my own personality. I’m a little rough around the edges, I’m not very proper; so the elements in the house are close to that.”

“The moment in my life that I felt extremely proud was the day I moved into my house.”
“People in the industry who come from an affluent background, may feel it’s just buying a house…but for me, it’s a milestone. When you come from a middle class background, it’s the biggest achievement. I’ve lived in government lodgings all my life. My father had taken many loans for our house in Bengaluru. I’m very close to my family and always wanted to live with them. When I moved into this house, my father looked very happy — and for the first time I felt proud of myself. Though I had an apartment before, this was the ‘big’ house we all wanted. ‘Achievement’ is a personal term. For the world achievements may be fame and money, but just the fact that we had made a home, meant the world to me.”

Anushka Sharma for Verve Magazine April 2015 cover

Places with connect

St Ives, England
“I had the most amazing mussels here. (I am now a vegetarian). I could see seagulls near the ocean, hear the sound of the birds, the weather was beautiful; I was with my closest friends and the mussels were so fresh….”

Galibore, Karnataka
“I went to a fishing camp with two friends. The Kaveri River flows by there. It wasn’t the fishing season; bits of the riverbed were exposed. We didn’t fish, but we would go on boat rides. We stayed in a camping site that included tents and barbeques, no resorts!”

“Even though I’ve only been there once, I really liked it.”

Café Y, New York City
“It’s an underground café in the Village. I heard the most beautiful music here. It was commercial music, but done so differently.”

North-east India
“The north-east is the loveliest part of our country. When I was six or seven years old my father was posted in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. I used to travel to places people hadn’t even heard of. It was a completely different world.”

London, United Kingdom
“I could have a house in London. I’ve been there the most number of times; I know the place really well.”

Anushka Sharma for Verve Magazine April 2015 cover

Right Here, Right Now with Anushka Sharma:

On my iPod “Take Me To Church by Hozier.”

In (On) my fridge “No fridge magnets!” (There’s a story behind this. Read more here.)

In my bag
 “Wallet, Lip Balm, House Keys.”

On my blacklist
“Complicated people, drama, lies, dishonesty.”

In my wallet
 “Money, credit cards, identity card.”

In my bedroom “I like it clean. I don’t like hoarding things. Just my bed, TV and books.”

On my bookshelf  “Lots and lots of books. A favourite, JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.”

On my phone “Phone calls, music, e-mails.”

On my wall “Two pictures of a ballet school, showing the feet of ballerinas. It describes all the things your body can’t naturally do, that you train your body to do – it shows strength and hard work; it is beautiful and creative.”

In my car’s glove compartment “Tissues.”

In my wardrobe “Clothes waiting to be colour coded! I have no OCDs but my wardrobe is chaotic. It’s a walk-in wardrobe where I just leave things. I can’t find clothes. So I keep saying I need more clothes.”

On my bucket list “To travel, to grow, to learn.”

In my beauty bag “Lip balm, mascara, under-eye cream.”

In my bathroom “I’m obsessed with bath products! I have lots of shower gels and multiple body lotions. My nose is sensitive and when I wake up and go to have a shower, I like to surround myself with lovely fragrances.”

On my skin “Moisturiser. I have asked all the women whom I have met who have great skin, if they moisturised a lot when they were younger, and they said yes. However late I may return from a shoot or however tired I may be, I make sure I moisturise everyday.”

In my life “Family, work, love.”

Of Perfume, Paper and Tea


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Pondicherry has a perfect slice of life up for grabs. Where you can be charmed and bring back memories laced with fragrance and atmosphere

Pondicherry La Villa

The hosts at La Villa are quite as charming as the property itself. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the French Quarter of Pondicherry, La Villa is a converted heritage colonial home, with trees that can tell a story that the distress-finish walls may not. One of the architects and designers, Tina Trigala (along with Yves Lesprit), is a Greek lady from France who has much to relate about the process of getting work done and building a space of this kind in India. Cajoling and learning the ways of the locals, she now is an old hand at it. After having built Villa Shanti with an obvious edge of Kitsch, La Villa is for a more refined and subtle palate. The thoughts are in the finer details, not glaring like Villa Shanti’s curtains made from lungis. The 19th century manor speaks of a distressed luxe — the kind of uber casual luxury that isn’t about ostentatious statues and inlay work, but is about the fine bath products, soft linen sheets, conceptual rooms and whimsical corners. Ancient materials and techniques like centuries-old bricks, lime plaster, colour cement flooring, and hand-made tiles from the villages of Tamil Nadu have found sustenance here with sophisticated western design.

From this world we step into the corridors of varied Pondicherry courtesy La Villa’s Sylvain Paquiry. With the grey buildings of Shri Aurobindo Ashram, to the pop yellow of the French institute (by appointment) with it’s beautiful gardens, rich but dusty library, serene and windy view from the top; to the curious boutiques and local stores that sell the wares of the place. A perfumed life with a wardrobe made entirely of things au naturel. We popped into: Janaki, Amethyst, Kalki and La boutique besides a few antique and curio shops.

As the waves crash on the belligerent ocean front, we watch a parade of people march wilfully along the promenade – looking like they belong, making us the observers and the cataloguers. Pondicherry is a study in architectural styles each quarter being typical of it’s type. One side of a dried-up canal is the “white side” or the French Quarter, while the other side is the Tamil Quarter, which also has a Muslim Quarter. And don’t be surprised to see the practically-vintage Ambassador car on the streets, as if stuck in time. 

Make the road trip to Auroville, an enchanting organic hub of arts and culture with the Matri Mandir’s meditation centre, the tree with history, local markets, chic shops of exclusive local fare and for the long-stayers, workshops in a pure-play give-and-take format. In Pondicherry itself, for lovers of stationery (who often happen to be hoarders too) the world of handmade paper lies before you in an open mill ground with dated outhouses and a fair share of mosquitos. Beautiful paper and paper products are available for purchase, but the art of making the paper (via the waste from the nearby textile industry’s hosiery fabric) is enlightening. 

Don’t leave without a hearty meal rounded up with the fresh mango sorbet (or the jaw-locking lemon sorbet) at Villa Shanti. A particular take-away besides the paper and perfumed giveaways? From the streets of Pondicherry to the serene poolside of La Villa: the most divine iced ‘Nanari’ tea. (Recipe: basil seeds, resin of almond tree (soaked in water), lemon juice, Syrup of nanari root.) It will not fail to cool the body in the soaring local climate. 

Catalyst of Creativity


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Published Verve Magazine May 2015
Photography by Ryan Martis

Aishwarya Pathy for The Rose Code, Verve Magazine

“I believe in paving my own way through life and society. People like and respect you because of the person you are and not so much because of your family’s legacy.”

While growing up, 33-year-old Aishwarya Pathy (daughter of sugar baroness Rajshree Pathy) has had renowned artists and designers as house guests, while being surrounded by “beautiful, well-made objects”, and never missed the opportunity to travel for an interesting art show or a design exhibit. It was most natural for her, then, to work with her mother on projects that challenged and established aesthetic milestones. “There is a dearth of world-class design platforms and schools in India. We wanted to create something that would bring together creative individuals and businesses from all over the country. We felt the need for a design school for avant-garde design thinkers, a laboratory of sorts for their ideas; hence the concept of CoCCA came to fruition.”

The launch of IDF is a serious milestone in her life, as that set her apart as a pioneer. “I want IDF to be larger than a design conference restricted to Mumbai. It should traverse across the country and serve as a catalyst which changes the way people think about design. We aim to give Indian design the recognition it deserves — especially for the fine craftsmanship that exists in this country, the unique materials available only here and, of course, the talent.” IDF comprises a small team, where “everyone does everything.

For the most part I seek out interesting, new and original concepts in the world of design or in design education. I also handle tie-ups with various partners for the IDF event including sponsors, and work on the entire production.”

She is currently working on the next edition of IDF while also developing two new businesses with her real-estate-developer husband, Laxman Vaidya. Aishwarya juggles various roles by prioritising. “As a mother of two, it’s a constant struggle to do everything you want to do without feeling guilty about compromising somewhere! You do the best you can and try to have fun doing it.” Fond of travelling, spending time with her family and entertaining friends, she enjoys flexible working hours while multitasking, working off a daily task list. “I think it is important for a woman to be assertive — be it in her professional or personal life. Women are marginalised all the time, more so in our culture. We’re used to accepting that. I believe in a level playing field, so if you want it, you have to fight for it.”

Known to be spontaneous, Aishwarya describes her personal style as, “simple, timeless, chic and, most of all, comfortable.” She counts a pair of vintage art deco emerald earrings as her most treasured piece of jewellery and believes that dressing up for an occasion means, “wearing things that make you feel great.”

On looking at the future, she says, “A long time ago, I learnt to stop planning and embraced uncertainty. For me, it’s all about the present — enjoying where I am at this moment in time and not having expectations.”

Maven of Good Spirits


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Published Verve Magazine April 2015
Photograph by Ryan Martis

Aishwarya Nair for The Rose Code, Verve Magazine, Leela Group of Hotels

“It is life in a bottle and that to me is magic.”

The third-generation hotelier with The Leela Group, Aishwarya Nair is the head of corporate food and wine merchandising, responsible for drafting the master wine list for all the units in the chain of hotels. When you factor in variables including location, climate, cuisine and clientele, it becomes quite a task. A vino culture educator and writer, she pushes the envelope for the food and wine experience and knowledge in India. The only woman in India to have been felicitated with an honorary diploma by the region of Champagne, Comite Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne, Aishwarya has received the ‘Businesswoman of the year 2014’ title from the Indian Leadership Conclave and has also published a coffee-table cookbook, The Fine Art of Food, with her sister, Amruda and photographer, Rohit Chawla.

“The subject itself keeps me going: there is always something new to learn. Every vintage has a different personality, which is the beauty of the wine world!” With a culinary degree to back her up — she obtained an Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degree in hotel and restaurant management at the Culinary Institute of America — Aishwarya ends up delving into the creative aspects of food as well. On a regular workday, her key functions involve product development, menu engineering, research about wine and food, creating menus and reworking existing lists based on her basic algorithm. “I looked at myself as competition and that enabled me to work creatively and build something sustainable in terms of branding for the Leela hotels’ repertoire in wine or my own artisanal brand AMAI.” After the success of her luxury pastry brand, Dolce, she went on to create AMAI influenced by the principles of Japanese macrobiotics. It is artisanal — all crafted by hand — using no refined flour, dairy or eggs. “It is what I predict will be the future for India – the idea of conscious eating.”

She’s fond of electronic music, world cuisine, all things retro, and foreign or classic films. “Eclectic, minimal, edgy yet sophisticated” is her style quotient, while dressing up for an occasion means “coordinating the design of your outfit to match (or mismatch) your accessories, make-up and hair, immaculately.” She believes her curiosity for all things and openness to new experiences is a personality trait that serves her well.

Thirty-year-old Aishwarya Nair, who would like to reach a point where her wants are lesser than her needs, sees herself investing creative resources in a fashion-related business, and cherishes her grandfather’s crocodile leather black suspenders, which he once let her borrow.

She remains inspired by “design, travel, Wes Anderson, powerful women, astrology and metaphysics,” and believes that success is all about being a pioneer in her field. “I would like to live a life where every whim is achievable, by my own right, independently.”

Bavaria: Champagne Nights


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Published: Verve Magazine 

Anyone who goes to Germany and skips Bavaria is really missing something. The Free State of Bavaria is what legends, folklore and tales of royal families are made of. It’s misty mountains, dark foliage and stunning countryside. While the Bavarian capital, Munich, provides the old-city charm, driving into the mountains is breathtaking. It’s also just across the Austrian border, easily accessible from Salzburg. Bavarian King Ludwig II’s royal castle Linderhof with beautiful parks and 19th century Romanesque-revival palace Neuschwanstein are splendid examples of the architecture and opulence of the era. The latter has appeared in many movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle. With wonderful summer and ski resorts and spas dotting the Bavarian mountains, you are spoilt for choice. But for the easy proximity to Munich and the understated classiness of the resort, Bachmair Weissach is quite unparalleled. Much like the affluent Mumbaikars who would take off for the weekend to a luxe spot in the hills, the chic local set find themselves near Lake Tegernsee, enjoying the countryside and the untouched views.

Dashing wheels, sophisticated conversations and champagne murmurs add the ambience to the resort’s classy interiors and charming locale. Fifteen minutes from the beautiful lake, the property is chic rustic, with light wood interiors. The rooms, overlooking the mountains and near a bubbling brook, are spacious and plush, with a fine balance of muted pastel colours. From Etro bath accessories and clever tea bags with perforations to a Samsung tablet in the room for room service, the hotel serves up luxe in more ways than its fabulous fine dining restaurant (while the other restaurants are equally enjoyable and accommodating even to vegetarian requirements or children). The host and sommelier of Laulenzi is amiable and the five-course meal is ably wrapped up with a delicious dessert of strawberries floating in a bed of champagne teased with tempered white chocolate rolls. It’s easy to linger on and take in the well-dressed weekenders. Not to miss the many guests proudly turned out in the local dirndl (traditional dress).

The resort is designed to be child-friendly, with a monitored children’s activity centre and indoor sports. Nothing beats swimming in the temperature-controlled indoor pool and then dashing outside in the bracing cold to the steaming Jacuzzi. On the side of the Alps that suggests rain anytime, this is a perfect place to relax. On a fine day the watersports by the picturesque lake are not to be missed, along with the pebbled beaches, quaint town, boutiques and cafes. On Sundays you may be privy to a local music festival in the town square and a host of horse-driven carriages and vintage cars. Grabbing a local meal in one of Rottarch Egern’s cafes or restaurants, you may then stroll back through canopied trees and gardens to the welcoming resort.

Baselworld 2015: Watch it here!


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Baselworld 2015

Click here for Baselworld 2015… the low-down on all the hautest happenings at Baselworld 2015, straight from the heart of the watch expo

Baselworld 2015

Check out the 7 watch trends from Baselworld this year here. Timepieces in varying shades of blue, ‘smart watch’ prototypes and innovative complications… find out the biggest watch trends of 2015

Raymond Weil’s CEO talks shop here. A quick Q&A with the CEO of Raymond Weil, Elie Bernheim, who speaks about their musical history

Longines president Walter Von Kanel on India and watches here. President of Longines, Walter von Kanel in conversation with Verve about India, politics, bureaucracy and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

I, Me, Myself and No One Else



Published: Verve Magazine February 2015
Painting by Rahul Das


In the chaotic social babble, we may have lost the ability to hear our inner voice. Verve ruminates on what it means for women to be alone today

‘I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.’ Famous words by Oscar Wilde. But do they stand true today? On the one hand, women are willing to be alone and not be defined by a man or a friend or a family. And yet, as a society we remain dependent on other people – the human race is driven by relationships.

In an issue devoted to exploring the ‘I’ in a relationship, do we sing soulfully about ‘me’ time, or is it a beacon call of a lonely heart? A happily married lady of nearly 60, asks, “Should I have, all these years, loved myself more than my husband?” And the regretful answer may have been ‘Yes’. As we celebrate ourselves, we are looking to find our identity and space, collect our thoughts and be who we want to be (or do what we would like to do), without interference, judgement or questioning.

In our race to please everyone, we may have begun forgetting what it is that we want. And driven by peer and social pressures, the very way in which we define ourselves has changed.

Women On Their Own
Some would believe that being alone is a gift of liberty, without having to depend on or account to anyone. For many others, it’s a lifestyle shift, a dramatic change in thinking, emotionally and physically. With the growth of meditation camps, single-person travel tours and no-companion-required activities, we foster a sense of metropolitan independence.

There are many women who do things on their own, in order to ‘find themselves’ or to meet new people. Does that make them social pariahs? With employers like Google – willing to foot the bill for their female employees to freeze their eggs, so that they are not pressured by nature to find a companion – we find the road for ‘aloneness’ made easier. The biological clock doesn’t need to tick in a foreboding manner any more; women can be free of the pressure to settle.

And yet it does not fall that we would like to be alone. Women have begun celebrating their personal time; but are women embracing an involved relationship with themselves? For instance, do women feel comfortable eating a meal by themselves, or watching a film in the cinema on their own?  Perhaps the decision is linked to safety – we feel more secure being with someone, we feel protected.

Maybe we feel the need to establish to society that we are not alone. And in that lies the insecurity where we draw our self-worth from another being. The very fact that someone would choose to be with us makes us worthy. We are always seeking approval; we don’t have to deal with the ‘shame’ of being seen without another person.

Isolation Is Punishment
The primeval need to be a part of a community or have a companion – the reason why humans created societies – is so genetically deep rooted, that we are uncomfortable in isolation. After all, one of the rigorous imprisonment tools is solitary confinement. The inability to make conversation and share thoughts is considered a punishment. It is as if we are afraid of being alone with our own thoughts and feelings. What would we do without the people around us distracting us from ourselves? The claustrophobia of solitary confinement leads to the desperate need of togetherness.

Can Indians Do It?
As a society (and with the risk of generalising) Indians are more likely to be uncomfortable doing things like eating, going to a bar or watching a movie alone in their home city, unless they are travelling or living away from home. This draws from the fact that Indians believe in community life and an outing as a family or group. No one plans to step out alone – if they are alone, they stay home. Going out is intrinsically linked to socialising. They may find it easy enough to stay in on a Friday or Saturday night; while in the West, culturally among the single lot, it is considered uncool to be home alone on nights reserved for hanging out or partying. You angle for a date – as the Saturday-night culture portends that you ‘be there or be square.’ It is not unlikely for single women to be out at a bar abroad, or women willing to pick up a date just to go out, while that is not the norm in India. Locally, women – unless they have company – will most likely stay back rather than be seen alone outside, due to social taboos based the perceptions of how ‘good’ women should behave.

Are We Ever Really Alone?
Keeping aside social conventions, at one time, it might have been considered boring to hang out alone. Today, it has come to pass that we are really never alone when we have our smart phone with us. In a world full of gadgets that speak to us, engage us, challenge us and constantly supply us with information, we may find the communication of another person not required or even worse – not sufficient.

The physical distance between two people in conversation through social media provides security and anonymity to be yourself and push the limits more than you could have when meeting someone face-to-face. Will that change the next generation’s ability to ‘face’ people?

And yet, in an alternative study to technology creating social misfits, Australian researcher David Clark suggests, ‘People become less dependent on their families and need more specialised skills, which could lead to less interest in social support and more self-sufficiency. Over time, people are more individualistic, more extroverted, and have higher self-esteem.’

What Is Fulfilling?
We begin to compartmentalise our lives into time spent with people and time spent alone. Which is more valuable? A woman in her 30s, recently married (and potentially commitment-phobic), believes that it is possible to go an entire life, with a good job and international sojourns, without the need of a man. (Not counting casual sex and friends-with-benefits.)

But independent nights or weekends are a world apart from choosing to live and be alone. When you take a few nights off, you do so with the security that you have someone to come back to. That someone is a willing companion to the things you may want to explore and do. Without that security, are we lost and flailing or are we more aggressively ourselves?

We have yearned for a companion with whom we can be ourselves. But today, in a world of compromise, it may be easier to be yourself with yourself rather than change your personality to match someone else’s! Is a relationship with someone too much work?

The Fight Against Silence
While more people are comfortable being alone, because of the connectedness they feel at any point of time with their gadgets; they are automatically uncomfortable in silence. At a party, theatre, restaurant, even waiting for the lift, people find themselves whipping out their phones and ‘listening in’, ‘liking’, ‘sharing’ and ‘commenting’. They are uncomfortable with idle time or stillness. They must reach out to someone, somewhere or do something. The virtual world provides us sound and distraction at every turn. And we find ourselves choosing that distraction, because our uncontrolled thoughts quickly tap into a world of loneliness and insecurity. Do our cultural connections allow us the freedom to remain alone?

The Fine Line    
For society to grudgingly consent that it is acceptable to be alone, it may become easier for people to take their time over choosing – or never choosing – a companion. Traditional relationships may move over to long-term friendships and multiple relationships. It is likely to create a lower threshold for tolerance – we don’t need to work on a relationship or a compromise if we can be happy alone. It is the fine line between finding yourself and moving beyond self-centeredness. A line that we must tread carefully, so that we may retain a strong sense of self, with the empathy, understanding and a desire to create a society of amiable coexistence.

Purveyor Of The High Life



Published: Verve Magazine March 2015
Photograph by: Ryan Martis

Rose Code Verve Magazine Aneesa Dhody Mehta

“Luxury, for me, is about the experience. It’s about how it makes you feel.”

Rita and Raja Dhody’s elder daughter, Aneesa, has her mother’s sense of understated style, and an intuitive understanding of the good life. Armed with a double degree in business and communication from Bond University, Australia, Aneesa had a watershed moment moving from the world of ad production to the world of luxury. From a stint at Kailash Picture Films, she joined the Murjani group, representing brands across their luxury division. “The learning curve was very steep, as luxury in India was in its nascent stages, and one didn’t have any experience dealing with luxury brands here. The challenge was aligning the expectations of the brand headquarters while still being relevant to the Indian consumer.”

Post this, she began freelancing and eventually founded Creative Co in 2011, with Diageo on board as her first client. The fledgling company executed around 20 events for Diageo in their first year, one of them being the successful Ciroc Sundowners, which put the brand on the map. What started out as a two-person team, working out of Aneesa’s father’s study with a single client and merely an event division, now offers a range of services: brand consultation, public relations, social media and events. Creative Co works with brands such as Gucci, Hèrmes, Christian Louboutin, Diageo, Lancôme, Clarins, Le Mill, and Pinakin.

Aneesa’s role in the company has grown to be a more holistic one – of being a mentor to her team and an advisor to her clients, while focusing on strategy and growth for the company as a whole. “I give my team a lot of flexibility and encourage them to develop their own minds and have continuous learning on the job. With my clients, I am always available should they need to bounce ideas off me or share thoughts on new developments.”

She spends her time working on deliverables or targets, checking in with her team, and meeting her clients regularly – juggling a busy day schedule with work commitments that occasionally stretch to late evenings. “The challenge is also to constantly innovate and not stagnate creatively. Marketing is all about coming up with new ways to engage consumers, so the work in itself is demanding.”

Aneesa’s personal style is “classic, feminine, and sometimes eclectic”.  She treasures her grandmother’s coloured diamond necklace, where each stone is cut in the shape of a heart. Married to Harsh Mehta, who develops luxury villas in Alibaug, Aneesa loves to travel if she has a few days off and hits the spa every Sunday. She defines luxury as, “going away to the Maldives and switching off my phone for three days…or buying a pair of handmade leather sandals in Greece! As is opening a great bottle of wine, and sharing it with a friend.”

While ambitious people inspire her, she appreciates straight shooters: “I’m a ‘from the heart’ sort of a person. I don’t know how to be ‘fake’. Therefore, I attract similar people to my life, and it’s been quite rewarding so far.”

A Fine Thread



Published: March 2015

Espace Louis Vuitton Art

How does a weave become a work of art? Not just in beautiful clothes, or in theGodharis of Maharashtra exhibition, but in the way Espaces Louis Vuitton celebrates new and contemporary artworks using the medium of thread. The Espaces of Munich, Paris and Tokyo have been powered with an exhibition that lasts the first half of 2015.

Curated by Michiko Kono, eight international artists take part in the group show, Le fil rouge which translated means ‘the red thread’. Each Espace showcases the work of four of the eight artists, referencing the theme and the other artists’ works in a three-way dialogue. The series opens with embroidery-based works in Munich to site-specific installations in Paris and ends with a summary of the theme in Tokyo.

Referencing the images from the gallery above, Japanese artist, Chiharu Shiota’s work is an installation of lightbulbs suspended in space and entangled by thread, switching on and off; exploring her interest in life and death. Italian artist, Tatiana Trouvé’s installation of 250 suspended plumb lines hovering barely above ground level struggling (and failing to) achieve a vertical stance – suggest the indecipherability between the absurd and the rational, the possible and the unimaginable. In his new film, the Belgian Hans Op de Beeck, employs puppets exploring contemporary society’s complexities and universal questions of the meaning of life and mortality. His film, The Thread, will be shown at all three Espaces. The other artists are Ghada Amer, Tracey Emin, Isa Melsheimer, Michael Raedecker and Fred Sandback.

The release note remarks: ‘Unlike pencil and paint, thread is not linked to an intrinsic finality, and its materiality encourages infinite artistic expressions and explorations. Replacing the brush, thread in contemporary art is embroidered or glued onto the image carrier, and combined with paint. Canvas fragments are sewn together using thread. By stretching lengths of yarn at different scales and in varied configurations, it is employed to form sculptures, trace lines in space, reproduce architectural principles or seemingly suspend the laws of physics.’

It is essential to go back to thread as an art form, rather than a means to a fashionable end. To question the abstract nature of the medium and it’s physical place in society is to give it perspective and suggest relevance. It is also an emphatic way to revisualise the medium and possibly be inspired to suggest creative renditions that may change the face of fabric tomorrow.

Le fil rouge is showing at Espace Louis Vuitton München (Maximilianstraße 2a, 80539) until April 11, 2015; at Espace Louis Vuitton Paris (60, rue de Bassano, 75008) until May 3, 2015; and will be on at Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo (Louis Vuitton Omotesando Bldg. 7F 5-7-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku) from April 8 to May 31, 2015.

The Art of Stillness


Published: February 2015

The Read The Art of Stillness – Adventures In Going Nowhere
Author Pico Iyer
Publisher TED Books

The back story Iyer’s father called him a “pseudoretiree” when he left his Manhattan job for the backstreets of Kyoto. And it was. according to him, the best move he ever made. Says Iyer in the book: ‘I couldn’t blame him; all the institutions of higher skepticism to which he’d so generously sent me had insisted that the point of life was to get somewhere in the world, not to go nowhere. But the nowhere I was interested in had more corners and dimensions than I could possibly express to him (or myself), and somehow seemed larger and more unfathomable than the endlessly diverting life I had known in the city….’

Iyer’s book is a way to snap into the reality of the world you are inevitably sucked into, and a simple solution to finding your peace while living in it, without having to move geographically: ‘Sitting still as a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it….’ 

What we loved It hits the pulse of what’s missing for people swamped with technology today. It resonates deeply and it’s evocative and moving words in their sheer simplicity ring true long after you have put it away. So you can’t actually put it away. As TED books likes to put it, these are “small books, big ideas,” and as a quick read with reverberating depth, it really works. 

What else? You want more of Iyer’s writing. 

More take-aways

‘More and more of us feel like emergency-room physicians, permanently on call, required to heal ourselves but unable to find the prescription for all the clutter on our desk.’

‘…not many years ago, it was access to information and movement that seemed our greatest luxury, nowadays it is often freedom from information, the chance to sit still, that feels like the ultimate prize.’

‘Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else.’

‘Our (writers) job is to turn through stillness, a life of movement into art. Sitting still is our workplace, sometimes our battlefield.’

‘As with any love affair, the early days of a romance with stillness give little sign of the hard work to come.’

‘You don’t get over shadows inside you simply by walking away from them.’

‘The one thing that technology doesn’t provide us with is a sense of how to make the best use of technology.’