Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The day I married a RICH MAN

I cannot remember how the conversation came up. It had something to do with a young girl, maybe about 15 years younger than me, talking about her choice of educational field and how it would be so hard to get a job.
We were a group of about 7-8 sitting around the lunch table. The conversation was casual when this came up.
Miss XYZ: ‘Aunty it’s very hard to get a job in this field’
Me: ‘Oh just finish your course, find a rich guy and marry him’. I joked
Miss  XYZ:  ‘Yea aunty you found your rich guy!’
I wanted to laugh out loud and say ‘REALLY!!!’
I looked across to my Rich man who was happily digging into his Thali plate.  It got me nostalgic about a time long ago when such a comment would never have even been seen in our vicinity. I have been called ‘Rich’ before and I realize that it’s time to tell the story. I guess it’s one that my kids are going to hear for a long time about how ‘Your dad and I struggled’. But looking back at that time, I never thought we would have the comfort of sitting at any restaurant and ordering whatever we wanted!
There are a lot of women who have gone from their father’s house to their husband’s house. I believe they are really lucky and blessed to have men who have taken care of them all throughout. When I say taking care, I specifically mean the financial aspect of it.
I choose a slightly different path. I left my father’s home at the age of 22 with a nice big cheque that I had hoped to return to him as soon as I got a graduate scholarship. I had made the trip across the seven seas and had promised myself that I would not ask for any more financial support if I got the scholarship. If I did not get a scholarship, I would return home with my tail between my legs and do whatever my father asked me to.
I got the scholarship and sent back the cheque save a few dollars which I needed for the initial days expenditure.
$827 per month. $413 every two weeks. That was my income for the next two years. My rent shared with 4 roommates was $235 per person. Then there was groceries, telephone and electricity bills to pay. It seemed hard but I learned to budget. It was in the midst of this that I met my RICH man!
He lived a few floors below in the same apartment building.
                                    Study on the floor ... Diwan and small side table made by Suresh!

We were class mates and guess what … he too made $827 per month. $413 every two weeks. We got married and moved into a one bedroom apartment with no furniture except a bed that the RICH man had acquired from another graduate student who was leaving. We had a few vessels and plates and we cooked and ate on the floor. The rent now was $650 totally. And then there was bills to pay. We continued our studies and graduated 3 years later. Over the three years we bought a TV, we found a computer table in the dump outside our building, my rich man made some furniture and we bought a few plants.

                                                         TV stand made by Suresh

Once we graduated, life started looking up. But for the first three years of our married life, we budgeted! We spent on credit cards till we realized we could not afford to pay the cards back and so one day we cut up all our credit cards. This meant rare eating out and social outings. We enjoyed bicycle rides to buy groceries since we did not have a car. We would put on two haversacks and buy big bottles of milk and vegetables home in them riding the bicycle both ways. We budgeted $ 5 per person per week to eat out. That meant we ate only at street carts. Hot dog cart sold a hotdog for $1. Sautéed onions was 50 cents more. We budgeted eating at a restaurant only once a month and could not spend more than $20 at the restaurant.

So it wasn’t a rich man … but it was a rich life!
At the end of 3 years of marriage when we graduated … my rich man got an awesome job. I guess I really figured out what it meant to spend money was at this time. We still did not use credit cards. We bought a second hand Mazda and enjoyed many long rides. We started to travel bit more and restaurant eating was maybe twice a week. Then 2 years later I completed my residency and got a nice job and things started looking even better. None of the above would have seemed half bad if you look at us today. But the uncertainty at that point of time was a bit scary. I wonder how we just lived without worrying.

                                                         Suresh's Study table and our bed :)

Now here we are ... 14 years after marriage. Life is comfortable. People may think we are ‘Rich’ … but we know where we came from. We know the days and weeks and months of craving to eat something fancy or just spending on clothes without thinking.
We know that tomorrow is never certain. But we are very thankful for what yesterday has taught us and we are enjoying today.
A few days ago another young girl came for marital advise.
Miss ABC: ‘How important is it for the guy to be financially stable?’
Me: ‘ I married one who wasn’t  … but it worked out for me’ I laughed! ‘ It depends on how willing you are to endure the days that are not so comfortable’

I married a RICH man… he had a RICH heart  … and we had the confidence that we would make it together.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

All Things Handmade! Cannanore - a lore from a loom

'Do you work?' I ask Anjali as she holds on to one of her three dogs. This passionate animal lover is an entrepreneur. About 400 meters from our home, Anjali, her three dogs, one cat, fish, daughter and husband have made their friendly abode.
'I create home furnishing' She replied, still holding on tight to the all white Boxer. That's the dogs name, not his breed!
In my head, when you say furnishing I think sofas! But when I checked out Cannanore - a lore from a loom, I realized how creative furnishing can be. Someone once said that a house becomes a home when you put up curtains. That's whats Anjali's little basement based furnishing business does. With all her pretty colors and curtains she can make a room from pure to perfect!
Anjali is a big flea fiesta person. She can be found at all events around the Bangalore city displaying her pretty products. I keep promising her that when I buy my own house, I will definitely make a huge contribution to her bank account through Cannanore-a lore from a loom.
Again a home based business. But there is something about creativity that is contagious. Yes contagious. Anjali's 12th grade daughter Shradha has her own line of designer clutches. Now that's what I call - It runs in the blood.

------------------------------------------------------ End of Flashback!

The above was a conversation I had with Anjali 3 years ago. She has come a long way! On June 29th 2014, Anjali started her store at InOrbit Mall in Whitefield. Cannanore - a lore from a loom! What started in a room in her house has now extended to ... all things handmade!
It is lovely to see an entrepreneur rise in front of your eyes. It was wonderful to see Anjali start her store and promote it through her lady friends. What is even more encouraging is the platform Anjali opened to other folks who were into making handmade things! She started with 6 brands and today has 25 brands under the same roof of Cannanore! The idea is that everything has to be hand crafted and quality driven. 

A brief conversation over Facebook with Anjali looked something like this : 'I pick and choose brands. Today of course we have some great brands who partner with us and we have regular customers who come back to us over 5-6 times to see what we have to showcase!'

There is something about women entrepreneurs that is just inspiring. It take a lot of courage to step outside the box and do something different. It take a lot of courage to take your creativity to a new level. We live in a generation where were moving into technology and leaving behind the beauty that beholds the eye. It is all about fancy and cool and so little about 'delightful'. In that generation, kudos to you Anjali ... definitely an inspiration to all the young lads and lassies!