November 1, 2019 7:15:48 pm
By Shilpi Madan
Fashion designer Anavila Misra has breathed life into handloom weaves with her prized sarees notching up accolades both on and off the ramp. Her tastefully articulated sarees and salwar kameez suits are the epitome of simplicity and quiet chic. Much like the brown-eyed designer herself as she lets the colours of earth and joy run through the flecks of zari and contrasting weaves in each of her beautiful creations that you can spot in abundance on celebrities including Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Konkona Sen, Kalki Koechlin.
An intensely private, highly celebrated entity on the fashion circuit, Anavila is also busy bringing up Rudra with her husband, Shivam. Excerpts from a conversation:
Rudra is a beautiful, uncommon name.
Yes, it is (smiles). In fact, Shivam loved the name, while I chose ‘Aditya’. Both of us held our ground for a year. Can you believe it, our kid had no name for a year! By that time my sister had teasingly started calling her nephew ‘jadoo’, ‘chiriya’…So I relented. Rudra it is.
What are you careful about?
Well, Rudra turns 13 in a few weeks, and I make sure I am clued into what he is doing now, whom he is spending time with as this is a very crucial age for children and everything carries impact.
How do you strike the work-home balance?
I dispatch him to school on the bus at 6:50 am and he returns by 4 pm. I ensure I am at home then. So for all purposes, I am a homemaker, for him, as my work hours are carefully worked around his schedule.
Do you leave him alone at times?
Now, yes, sometimes. See, he is very naughty, like I was as a kid, and so was Shivam. Earlier, I used to lose my cool but then I understood that some of the antics stemmed from him being a single child seeking my constant attention. If I become angry, then he turns obstinate. I have to explain things to him and reason it out. He is emotionally sensitive, like me. We keep talking and his apprehensions spill out then. Like he saw someone kick a stray dog the other day and that upset him tremendously. He shared that with me.
But then you indulge him as well?
Yes, I do. He is an anchored child. We celebrated the anniversary of my store a couple of weeks back and he asked if he could invite a couple of his friends too; I agreed. Actress Deepti Naval was here and he was chatting with her comfortably for an hour. She commented how uncommon it was to experience an enervating conversation with a child his age, that too without gadgets!
How involved is Rudra in your work?
Very. He observes me in my interviews, comments on my mannerisms and offers his advice. For the last two fashion weeks, I made sure he attended my shows. The first show he sat for, I couldn’t see him owing to the lights, in the audience. He was very hurt. But the second time around I placed him. He was thrilled. He observes me addressing everyone at press conferences. He comments on how he wants to better my website, champions originality, and he even filled in details quickly as got me the prized ‘blue tick’ by authenticating my social media accounts, all while I kept arguing with him that it wasn’t that simple. Rudra is very creative and clued in.
Is there anything that worries him?
Of course, my largesse! I keep reminding him that we need to be kind, and share with others. Also, he isn’t very happy about me growing old and not colouring my hair anymore. Rudra is an old soul, deeply knitted to his grandparents, and their growing old and frail with age is something that he finds a little disconcerting too.
One thing you do every day?
I wake him up every day, cuddle up for 20 minutes to get him slowly out of bed and ready him for school. My mother laughs that he lingers when I am around and when I am not, he gets ready at cracking speed!
What do you do together?
Shivam travels aplenty, so I end up spending more time with Rudra. One of us is always around; we plan our work accordingly. Rudra and I go running, cycling, walking. I never enjoyed cooking earlier. Now I make an effort to look up recipes, and enjoy cooking for him. We were in Paris recently and Shivam came down to take us around to the car manufacturing plants through Germany too, as Rudra is crazy about cars.
In this age of self-entitlement, how do you ensure Rudra is a grounded child?
I travelled to Kolkata when I was pregnant. Since his early days he has moved around with me, spending time in the homes of my weavers in Kolkata, playing with the goats, soaking up local dialects. Earlier, I had a few female weavers from Jharkand staying with me in Mumbai at my duplex when my studio was at home, so he has been observing the making of weaves and stitches, speaks the local language they converse in. He is curious yet involved in my work. He is aware and completely in sync with a humble environment. That is the best learning I could have given him.
How do you emulate this beautiful, homegrown philosophy then into your daily life?
There is no wastage of food at home, each blank surface of paper is utilised sensibly, he leans towards making his own ‘nimbupani’ with great pride. We reuse clothes, making dusters out of old, faded pieces; many tiny things go into the making of our perspectives.
Something that worries you?
That he is not competitive. Rudra is happy with the success of others around, which we are too, but I feel I will have to prod him to be a bit of a go-getter.
What has been your biggest learning so far?
Being a parent is a huge responsibility. You need to be clear that you want to have a child, else you will be venting your frustration on your children. Also, you don’t need to be a strong parent all the time. Rudra knows my struggles, anxieties….I have broken down in front of him. I feel this has made him stronger as he is always a part of problem-solving at home. Isn’t this sensibility what we want to leave our young ones with, eventually? As parents we need to be content and happy, and give the same to our children. It is an organic osmosis.
What do you hope he learns from you?
Perseverance. How never to give up, keep at it till you succeed. If you work hard you can achieve anything you want in life. I have always believed that and hope that Rudra imbibes it too.
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