A tiara, the hushed silence followed by the applause, the sash, the arms raised in jubilation and those gorgeous lips making a big O as the reality of the triumph hits home– a lot of little kids, and some not so little kids, have this fantasy. Indeed some of these kids are little girls. And they spend many hours playing out the fantasy – dressing up in mom’s sarees, with mom’s lipstick all over their face, walking up and down an imaginary ramp, captivating the audience – in some cases where a much younger brother is involved – captive audience would be the precise term used.
And then these little girls grow up, most of them forget this dream and move on to other things – such as jobs, partying, men and/or women (as the case may be – this blog is very open minded) not necessarily in that order. Caught up in the adult life on it’s tram lines – on their way to kids, the suburban home, alcohol addiction and plastic surgery which fails to rescue the dreariness of the relationship or the self image (again – not necessarily in that order).
And some little girls don’t let go of their childhood dream. This is about one such little girl. She did all the usual modeling at home when she was knee high, and mom’s wardrobe suffered the damage with good grace. And she grew up and like all good Indian children – worked hard, studied hard – got good marks (I used to hate those kids – my parents were always wondering why I couldn’t get a better looking report card – at least once without an F would be nice)
And when she got good results, her mom would let her do commercial assignments – and that’s how she took her first baby steps in the glamour industry.
She went on to study engineering – another path breaking step – many lifetimes of research among engineering colleges has shown that
a) there are few women in engineering colleges
b) the probability of a woman being good looking and being in an engineering college is no greater than the possibility of England winning Euro 2008.
And contrary to popular belief she managed to retain her beauty throughout her education (the fact that she didn’t study in an Indian college had something to do with it – points a and b above are known axioms of the Indian education system)
Education done, it was time to get a job – and she decided global domination was the way to go – and she joined Google. Went on to become a product manager, and was all set to become a proper working adult.
But the little girl inside wasn’t able to forget her dream.
And that little girl decided that it was time to chase her dream. If she didn’t do it now, she would never be able to do it. And one thing she didn’t want, was the regret of ‘I wish I had done that’. She was going to take part in a beauty pageant.
She quit her job at Google California. Politely declined her admission invite to ISB. Came back home and set about trying to become a beauty pageant contestant.
When she discussed this with her mom, mom was hugely supportive of her decision, all she wanted was for her daughter to have no regrets in life. She said ‘Do what makes you happy.’ And this gave her strength and courage. Not that she lacked any of it.
Of course contesting a beauty pageant is no easy thing. Among other difficult things it involves eating very little – which is the main reason why I am not participating in any such thing – I can handle all the other tough parts such as being with a bunch of skimpily clad women in a room or listening to contestants bitch about each other. In fact some of my best friends are women (occasionally bitchy and occasionally … but let’s not go there)
But then it turned out that Femina Miss India would not let her compete – and not because of anything to do with beauty (as you can see – she lacks nothing in that department) but because of age – they had an age limit. And she was over it. Getting an education, and a job at Google takes up some time.
She didn’t want to hang around to compete in Mrs India.
And then someone told her about the HT Miss India World Wide competition – which is run across some 20 countries for women of Indian descent. And was being run for the first time in India as well.
She applied, and got through.
And probably regretted it many times over the next few weeks as she went through beauty pageant boot camp – only healthy food1, and very little of it – lots of sweating and crunches and running. And she met a lot of nice people – she went prepared to face bitching and backbiting, but was pleasantly surprised to make nice friends. She was also the odd one out as almost all the contestant were from the glamour business with most of them seeking to make it big in Bollywood. And it of course made things easier for her, as she could see how important this was for her new friends – not that she wasn’t competitive – but she tried to find ways to help her fellow contestants. She wasn’t there to win or lose but to learn, and to experience. And she felt she could gain so much more if she didn’t worry about victory or defeat – indeed treating those two impostors just the same was her motto. And she was able to enjoy the competition even more because she wasn’t just competing.
Her long term ambition is to work in the entertainment business, but on the business side of it – making use of her analytical skills and her mind. And she’s headed to Stanford to do her master’s in business – she gave her interviews well after she quit and came back, which makes her decision a very brave one.
Which is the main reason I am writing so much about her2 – I am fascinated by people who take the chance to chase a dream. Taking the leap – without a safety net or security line – following the beat of their heart.
So here’s to Kavita Khurana – stunning, gorgeous (as you can see from her picture below) and razor sharp. But what I admire most is your bravery, and your ability to make that leap of faith. And I hope that you will continue to find success on your journey of creativity and learning.
If you think I am putting up pictures of gorgeous women and linking to their blogs just to make you come back – you won’t be wrong, but the real reason I am doing this is to write about people who make brave choices. And next in line we have
a. Avantika (who gave up her job as a lawyer to work as an HR manager in an NGO – my experience with HR professionals tells me that it’s not too far removed from being a lawyer – but don’t listen to cynical me)
b. Avantika’s very attractive husband, Kanishka: Who gave up his fastrack job in an MNC to start up a consultancy related to HR ( Seriously what’s wrong with these guys – how much HR can you have in one family? – at least their kids will be well trained)
1 Correction: Apparently they feasted on Naans, Daal Makhni and Gulab Jamuns – but it sounds better to think they starved..
2Of course, this is not an idea I can claim as mine – Po Bronson did it much better in his book – Why Do I Love These People – which you should read after you read his earlier work – What should I Do With My Life