In the Spotlight – Suchi Vora

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week we have Suchi Vora, an architect, interior designer and the force behind SVAC- a young design studio with a unique aesthetic. Suchi shares with us her perspective on blending creativity and pragmatism through her design practice to build spaces responsibility. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey – what inspired you to become an architect? 

Interestingly, I’ve always known I wanted to be an architect. I grew up thinking I wanted to work in a profession with a positive impact. Having a creative push growing up, I also needed a strong practical aspect. At that time, I thought architecture was the most interesting and sensible combination. 

How would you describe your venture, SVAC? 

We are a young design workshop. We are young, we are experimental, we are a design practice that operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape, urbanism and art. We think of design as a research vehicle to pose and respond to complex, urgent questions in the built environment, engaging in the wider context and also the climate of a project– social, ecological, or political. What you build needs to be relevant for a long time, and I cannot escape responsibility for what I design.

What do you love the most about your job? 

I love that each project is completely different. Every client is unique and with personalities and ideas that define a project in the most unique way. Design is all about people. I love that I can see the world with a new set of eyes with each client and to be able to tell their story with my perspective of design.  

What is the biggest challenge of running your own architectural firm and how do you try to overcome it? 

I was quite worried about being able to have the right design culture for my firm, but I think I have been able to build a space for our workshop where the culture we are looking for automatically thrives.

What’s your dream project? (It could be one you’ve already worked on, or something that you would love to get the opportunity to design)

Hopefully, a new solution in materiality or planning that can be applicable to more than just one project; something that has a positive. climatic impact.

Which city, would you say, has the best architecture in the world? 

I am certain that there are several. Picking one would be unfair since this is like picking out a city for the best food in the world. Having said that, Barcelona is close to my heart. 

In the last few years, what are some of the most exciting trends or changes that you’ve experienced in your industry? 

I think, live architecture. Live facade essentially is one of the coolest trends that is here to stay.

How do you like to spend your free time? 

I try to spend a lot of time learning new adventure sports every chance we get to be out of town. I’m learning paragliding at the moment, and let’s not forget sleeping. I love sleeping.

What’s the first thing you want to do once this pandemic is over?

Throw a party. I think I will host a gig at our studio, I’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Check us out on Instagram or Facebook, or just drop by our office for chai. We are always looking for interesting conversations on our katta. [email protected] 

In the Spotlight – Ashwin Bapat

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight we have Ashwin Bapat, a lover of football, movies and all things music! A professional santoor player, Ashwin lets us in on his musical journey, as he talks about his origin as a musician, his aspirations and his experience of teaching the craft.

Tell us about your journey – how did you get into music? 

My mom’s side of the family is into classical music so I was naturally drawn to it right from the time I was born. I formally started learning the tabla at the age of 5 and I learnt it for 13 years. When I was 12 years old I heard the Santoor for the first time and instantly fell in love with the sound of the instrument, but I started learning it at the age of 18.

Where do you draw creative inspiration from? 

My inspiration comes from basic things in nature or whatever emotions you experience in life. I’m not a very emotionally expressive person so my music is generally an outlet for whatever I’m feeling. It also originates from spirituality so most of my inspiration comes from turning inward rather than from any external things. 

Describe the experience of performing for All India Radio as a child artiste.

 I think I must’ve been around 8 or 9 years old when I auditioned for the All India Radio. At that age, everything was just fun and games so I never took it that seriously. Luckily I got selected after which I performed a few times. The whole world of studios and recordings was very new for me. Till then I had only performed live on stage so I remember being fascinated by the whole process. Funnily enough, I never actually heard any of my recitals when they were aired because I was either at school or something. 

Share the story behind your most memorable performance. What made it special?

I would say I have 2 equally memorable performances, one was at the age of 12 or so when I performed in front of tabla maestros like Pt. Suresh Talwalkar Ji, Pt. Vijay Ghate, Satyajit Talwalkar and many more. The other one would be when I performed at the Suburban Music Festival in Mumbai. This one was extremely memorable because it’s a very illustrious festival for around 75 years and the greatest legends of Indian classical music have performed on that stage. So just to be associated with that was an extremely proud and memorable moment.

Who’s the one artist you’d love to collaborate with and why?

If I ever get a chance, it would be the biggest honour to perform with Ustad Zakir Hussain. It’s every musician’s dream to one day get a chance to share the stage with him, so I guess it would be my greatest wish to come true if I get that opportunity.

What do you think the future of Indian classical music looks like? 

The future of Indian classical music is very bright. As any music or art form does, even Indian classical music is evolving as it always has across centuries. But currently, more and more young people are getting drawn to it. They’re learning it or at least listening to it and respecting it. And there’s a huge number of extremely talented young artists in vocal and instrumental music as well as dance. So I think Indian classical music has a very bright future and is in very good hands. 

What has been the biggest challenge of having to teach music online during the pandemic? 

It’s been extremely difficult. Most of my online students are between the age of 4 – 12. In a face to face class, I can physically explain the hand positions and movements and if required even adjust their hand positions by actually holding their hand. So firstly, it’s very hard to hold their attention online for an entire hour and also to explain various hand positions through a screen. Also many times with the lag and other network issues, it’s very hard to get your message across. It’s very hard because if their hands get used to some wrong technique it’s much harder to unlearn and change that in the future. So it’s been tough but we’ve all learnt to get around that. 

How do you like to spend your free time?

I’m a massive football fan, so I love to watch and study various aspects of the game and almost every other sport as well. I read quite a bit. I listen to a lot of various types of music, which is extremely important for the growth of a musician. And I love watching movies and all the various new shows available today. I never have a problem with spending time actually, in fact on most days I think days should be longer.

What’s the first thing you want to do once this pandemic is over? 

Get on stage! Can’t wait to feel the energy and adrenaline rush of being in front of a crowd. It’s a feeling I relish. No doubt there are nerves involved but it’s the kind I love. So definitely waiting for concerts to start as soon as possible.

Where can people get in touch with you/see your work?

Instagram and Facebook. Most people reach me for concerts as well on these two platforms.

In the Spotlight – Saksham Kulkarni

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Saksham Kulkarni, a young Marathi actor best recognised for his roles in Pak Pak Pakaak and De Dhakka, among others. Read on to know his story.

Tell us about your journey— what inspired you to get into acting? 

My family has always been an art lover. So while growing up, I was exposed to many good films, listened to eminent singers, and watched good plays. And I was totally fascinated. Since childhood, my family always encouraged me to take part in various extracurricular activities such as elocution competitions, fancy dress competitions, and I used to love it on stage. There was no stage fright. So we figured if I feel confident on stage, how about giving auditions for the camera. I gave a couple of auditions and got my first acting part when I was in 4th grade. My family always supported and encouraged me to improve my acting techniques. I attended many theatre and film workshops which helped me a lot. 

 Describe the experience of working on your debut film, Pak Pak Pakaak. 

It was truly amazing. I was 12 years old back then. More than 300 kids had auditioned for the part. The makers liked my audition so much that I was finalised instantly. The director, Gautam Joglekar, encouraged me to give my best in every scene. He gave me good insights while we were developing the character of Chikhloo which helped me a lot. Working with Nana Patekar taught me a lot of things. Many scenes were improvised on the set. It helped me to improve my improvisation skill. Also, since we were shooting on film, I got to know the production side as well. We used to rehearse a shot many times until we thought it was ready to be captured. I still remember Nana kaka and Gautam dada telling me, ‘Keep on rehearsing until you think it is good enough.’ Everyone on set truly believed that we were making something unique and which will be cherished many years down the line. 

Share your most memorable ‘Behind the scenes’ story from a film/series you were a part of. 

The scene in Shikshanachya Aaicha Gho where Bharat Jadhav accidentally hits me with a bat; was pretty late in the night when we started shooting that scene. Everyone was really tired and sleepy but we knew that this scene was the most important part of the film. Mahesh Manjrekar called Bharat kaka and me and told us that this is the room where we will be filming the scene. He told us that he wanted the scene in one shot to maintain the intensity. He told us to improvise the whole scene, and the camera was to be placed according to our improvisation. It was an amazing experience for me to improvise with Bharat kaka and Mahesh kaka. I feel blessed that I could work with such experienced directors and actors at a very young age. It has always kept me motivated to improve my craft. 

If you had to choose between films or theatre, which one would it be and why?

This is a tough one. But I would say theatre. I love the adrenaline rush when the 3rd bell rings. The reaction of the audience is instant. You get so much energy. Overall the process of setting a play has always fascinated me. You can explore so many things. I did a play Mirad- A Boy From Bosnia, in which I had to play 11 characters. We started rehearsing 2-3 months before we performed for an audience. We worked on every character minutely. How a character would walk, talk, sit, etc. And when I finally performed on stage the feeling of satisfaction was just great. 

Who’s the one director you want to work with and why? 

There are so many I look up to, who really inspire me. To pick one of them, I would say Christopher Nolan. I am really in awe of his storytelling. All of his films are unique in their own way. He is so passionate about his work that I remember in an interview, he had mentioned that many producers had rejected his debut film Following, so he paid from his salary and made the film anyway. It took him a year to complete it. But he never gave up. 

Which actor (male or female) would you consider as your ultimate inspiration?

Daniel Day-Lewis. He is a legend. The detail he brings to each character he plays is amazing. He manages to reach the depth of the character flawlessly. In the film Gangs of New York, it was his idea to have an eagle in the eye. He is truly an ultimate inspiration. 

If your life were to be made into a web series/biopic, what would it be called?

I feel I have to work a lot, learn a lot, explore a lot and achieve a lot. After that people can decide whether my life could be an inspiration for others to be made into a biopic. But for fun, let’s say ‘Saksham- The Capable.’

What are the top three things on your bucket list? 

  • Direct a film
  • Do a film in any language other than Hindi and Marathi
  • Learn to dance properly😂😂

What’s that one piece of advice you would like to give to people who are looking to get into acting professionally? 

Glamour is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of hard work needs to be put in. It’s not as easy as it looks. 

Where can people get in touch with you?

I am not that social a person, but you can get in touch with me on Instagram.

In the Spotlight – Rajasi Kulkarni Diwakar

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Rajasi Kulkarni Diwakar, the founder of Bleed Red Go Green and a core team member of Green the red, talking about her journey as a menstrual health educator. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey. What inspired you to start your venture Bleed Red Go Green?

BRGG is a collective of like-minded people who want to work in remote areas of India as well as urban areas. Both areas need education when it comes to menstrual and reproductive health. I have been a Menstrual and Reproductive Health educator for 7+ years. I am already a core group member of PAN India collective Green the Red. My journey into this started when I moved to Chhattisgarh for a fellowship in 2013. I was designated to work with the residential school of Dantewada, and that changed me a lot in good ways. My journey towards minimalism and menstrual health education began there. Since no one picks our garbage in rural areas, it is either in our backyard or buried or burnt. This moved me. And the lack of awareness about my own body led me to become what I am today.

How does your initiative help create menstrual health awareness in rural areas? 

We turned 2 in April and we are growing. So far we got to work with some volunteers, NGOs, adolescents from tribal areas, especially of Chhattisgarh and some parts of Odisha. We got to interact with teachers and understand their perspective. Before the pandemic, we used to visit schools, villages, and slums for awareness sessions and since the pandemic, we started doing this online and people all around India started joining our webinars. We have also done sessions to empower people to make their own reusable cloth pads. Recently, we helped set up a cloth pad making unit in the slums of Mumbai.

What are some environment-friendly menstrual hygiene habits that people should practise?

We have been using cloth as a menstrual hygiene product for decades. It’s the most sustainable option since it’s available at home, you don’t have to go to the market or purchase anything.  It’s made of cotton, it will decompose in soil when buried/composted. However, not everyone is comfortable with that since cloth is being marketed as dirty and discomforting by multinational companies to sell their disposable products. Today, modern options like cloth pads, menstrual cups, period panties, etc. are available. They are not only eco-friendly but comfortable and convenient, too. They are reusable for many years, thus saving money, the environment and your body from rashes and harmful chemicals.

What are some of the misconceptions about menstrual health that should end?

There are plenty, but I will talk about the basic ones – the foundation. Firstly, we should stop telling children to hide their naked bodies soon after the bath. Body-shaming starts there. We keep everything under wraps and don’t let logical, scientific information about our own bodies flow. We shun the questions or discussions about our bodies as private and something ridiculous. This needs to stop from a young age. This is the reason why menstruators don’t know that they have 3 different openings down there and they don’t pee and menstruate from the same place. There are really illogical, unscientific beliefs and unrealistic expectations about the structure and composition of the body which leads to unnecessary fears about using internal menstrual products and even sexual intercourse.

What are the challenges you face running this collective, and how do you try and overcome them?

Right now, most of the team is based in different parts of Chhattisgarh and some of us are in other places. So that is one challenge. Meeting digitally has its own pros and cons. We all have different energy levels and skill sets, yet everyone brings diversity and richness to it.

The practice of menstrual segregation is still prevalent across many Indian households, with menstruators being made to follow customs that may be completely unscientific. What are some of the strangest social taboos you’ve come across in this regard, and how do you counter them?

We have heard that women can’t bathe, touch water or plants, because they are ‘impure’. Segregation is something that some people actually look forward to while some people don’t like to be held. Menstrual segregation is a ‘leave policy’ that everyone is raving about currently, but it’s dipped in misogyny, patriarchy and unscientific beliefs and lack of choice.

In our approach, we do not criticise these practices, instead, we enable participants to think critically about the taboos. Scientific information is the biggest tool to empower people with correct information about their own bodies and how they work. It slowly but certainly changes their perspectives and provides them with the means to decide what is best for them. We consistently speak about this and include other family members; not just menstruators to change the scenario.

You are a strong proponent of menstrual cups. In your experience, what are the most common concerns women face in switching to menstrual cups (or most common reasons for women wanting to, but being hesitant to switch to menstrual cups)? How do you address these?

I promote all reusable options and give people a choice to decide what works best for them. Women have fears about using menstrual cups. They think it may get lost or stuck inside. Some of them have hygiene concerns. We suggest simple, correct techniques to use these products solve also answer the concerns they have. It has a learning curve.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media accounts and why?

Ecofemme, Thebloodyfeminist, EmbodyworkLA, Frangipanji and Rangeen Khidki.

How has Social Media helped you in building your brand and connecting with people?

Social Media has helped me meet many like-minded people. We have so many supporters.  It also helped people know what we do and approach us for awareness sessions and small projects. It has also led to many great collaborations and a chance to speak for a second time at a TEDx event (feeling shy to share this).

Where can people get in touch with you?

[email protected] is an email address to contact BRGG. We also have our Instagram handle and Facebook page.

In the Spotlight – Yashvi Dhal

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Yashvi Dhal, the founder of Mad Batter, spilling the beans on her tryst with baking and the triumphs and travails of running a business. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey – what inspired you to start your own baking business?

I’ve baked my entire life and it wasn’t something I was always spectacular at, but I loved it. I love the idea that the same staple ingredients can turn into drastically different flavours and textures.  Turning it into the business that it is today happened by accident. I love to bake what I love to eat. And I love Cheesecake! I found myself drawing a blank one night when I was looking to get a slice of a classic New York Style cheesecake, so I took it upon myself to make my age-old family recipe. The leftovers were then sent across to friends and family. That’s how Mad Batter started.

How has Social Media helped you in building your brand and connecting with your audience?

The way I look at it is, the ability to create content, communicate and engage with your audience is the most personal through social media. I have built Mad Batter and connected with its core audience almost entirely through Instagram and Facebook. These platforms have essentially allowed me to reach the right people, and cater to them with the right content and communication. It has allowed me to build a long-term customer base and some great friends as well.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced during the pandemic? How have you tried to deal with it?

Challenges came at us in 2 forms: logistical and a change in customer preferences.

  • Logistical challenges in times like this were bound to happen, but just thinking about the number of cakes that I almost thought won’t be delivered in one piece makes me shudder. However, third party services are stepping up their game and with a few minor changes in my packaging and advancements with delivery logistics, we’ve been able to handle most of these concerns.
  • The bigger shift for me was the change in customer preferences. Parties were now smaller, birthdays were not as grand and people wanted to order everything on the menu, but smaller. For a brand that only does big cheesecakes and abstract cakes, this was a challenge. After months of trial, we officially launched petite cheesecakes. These addressed all the preferential changes that our customers were looking for. Currently, we send out more petite cheesecakes than any other cake.

If there’s one bake that best describes your journey, what would it be and why?

It would have to be a Burnt Basque Cheesecake. I had to put in the hours and things didn’t always look good, but it’s just like the inside of a burnt basque right now– smooth.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Makeup! I am a makeup artist and I feel like one passion drives the other. A lot of my planning with my abstract cakes takes learnings from my time as a makeup artist – colour theory, textures, everything!

If you could binge on one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A classic NY Style Cheesecake or a Traditional Tiramisu!

If the Mad Batter were to host a ‘Mad Tea Party’ (once this pandemic is in the past, of course!) what would be on the menu and who would be invited?

We’ll have a large spread of our Petites (all 14 flavours, so there’s something for everyone) and definitely some Banana Bread and Cinnamon Streusel! I’d like to have my first ‘Mad Tea Party’ with my loyal customers. For someone to trust me for their special occasions has always been an honour to me. For the second party, I’d call my friends and family from across the globe so they can finally taste what they’ve had to hear about for years.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why?

I like to find accounts that truly inspire me to work on my technique and think differently. I also love following accounts that teach me a thing or two about business and how to do it right.

Since people are in lockdown now, could you share one easy-to-bake recipe for everyone to try at home?

The easiest recipe for a quick cheesecake – no crust, intentionally burnt.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Instagram – to see what’s on the menu, enquire and also find out what we’re up to in the kitchen daily.

Whatsapp to place orders or book a consultation for our abstract cakes.

In the Spotlight- Virali Parekh

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week we have Virali Parekh, an ace choreographer, dance educator and performing artist. She speaks about the nuances of the art, her experience of working with leading choreographers and reinventing ways to connect with the audience during these challenging times. Read to know her story.

Tell us about your journey; how did you get introduced to dance? 

I think I was born into dancing. It was as natural as taking the first steps as a baby for me, so I can’t truly say how I got introduced to it. However, professional dance training came to me very late at the age of 20. As a child, I trained in Bharatnatyam, but after 10th grade, I was discouraged from dancing entirely. Studies took over and only after graduation did, I find my way into professional training at The Danceworx Performing Arts Company, and later I moved to Broadway Dance Center, New York, for further training. I got back in 2016, and since then I have been a part of the choreography teams for several reality shows, music videos, Bollywood songs, etc. along with setting up an online/offline training module with my team.

How would you describe your venture, Dance With Vira

In 2020, our industry took a massive hit and while we locked ourselves up, I knew something had to be done to lift each other’s spirits. I danced in my little room and wondered if I could somehow connect to people to share this energy with. Online platforms did exactly that for us. “Dance with Vira” is an online program that was aimed to motivate people to keep dancing and training at home. When you visit our website, you’d notice that it says, “Move to nurture yourself.” This was a very specific goal-driven program aimed to help people get themselves up during these tough times, using dance/movement as a medium. Initially, it was very tough for me to help or teach through a screen and not be there to correct the body form or structure of the student, but in time, we adapted, and it has been a blessing for me in every way after that. My team and I have bonded with people across cities and countries and managed to share our smiles and anxiety through screens. It has been a beautiful experience so far. I aim to continue this program in the coming months, making it bigger and better in every way possible. For more information, please visit www.dancewithvira.com 

What inspires you as an artiste? 

Inspiration for me ranges from day to day activities like cooking, cleaning, etc. to travelling and sitting on a beach alone listening to the ocean waves. It can come from a life experience, a pet, a stranger, someone’s artwork, a friend’s success story, but majorly inspiration to move specifically comes from music for me. 

Share a story behind your most memorable performance. 

It’s definitely going to be the Global citizen festival, 2015, held at Central Park, New York City. Backstage was not like any regular show backstage. We were in celebrity tents as we watched people like Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Obama, Usher, Malala, etc. in action on stage and prepping backstage too. It was once in a lifetime kind of a stage for me to perform on as I witnessed more than 20,000 people in front of me and I’ll always cherish that moment of rush and excitement. It was overwhelming to dance to an Indian song and watch the crowd go mad about it there. I’ll truly never forget it and I hope I get to travel and dance more and more.

If you could pursue only one dance form for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why? 

Jazz funk for life! It requires the discipline of Jazz training but also has this space to incorporate elements of street styles which makes it super fun, unique and relatable to me.

Who’s the one artiste you can’t wait to collaborate with? 

Ummm…. Beyonce! (always aim high :p)

As a choreographer, what’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

Last year, I got an opportunity to be a part of the choreography teams of one of the leading choreographers of the Bollywood Industry, Vaibhavi Merchant. So far, that has been the most exciting project for me to learn from and work on. It’s a Holi song for an upcoming movie with Akshay Kumar and Manushi Chillar. The sheer grandeur of the set, the amount of hard work of every member there, 3 continuous shoot days in extreme heat with colours flying all over and more than 600 people in the song, it was truly the most exciting and challenging shoot for me so far. Most of my excitement, of course, comes from the fact that I got to observe how she thinks and works on movement. It opened my mind up back then.

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list. 

Travel to the Maldives before it sinks, lol

Play lead in a HUGE commercial music video at least once in my life

To have my own space for artists to meet, jam and create all kinds of art, music, dance, drama, etc

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

I am not a hardcore follower of one particular account, but for dance, I follow Erica Klein, Jojo Gomez and Rukmini Vijayakumar. They have some brilliant work showcased out there and in some ways, it becomes a learning tool for me.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Instagram handle: @virali_parekh

Or 

www.dancewithvira.com 

[email protected]

In the Spotlight- Mansi Shah

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week we have Mansi Shah, a nature lover by heart who chose to make a difference. With her venture GiftGreen, Mansi turned her passion into a career, creating eco-friendly, low waste products to encourage a greener way of living. Read to know her story.

Tell us about yourself— what inspired you to start your own business? 

I am a person who loves being outdoors. Having spent a lot of time in a boarding school, I have stayed amidst nature for some years. While finishing my master’s and then working for a short period of time, I started realising that I can’t just love nature and admire it, I have to do something for it by working on it full time. My mother was a great inspiration. The way she grew plants at home with so much love and would gift them on special occasions to friends and family and live a low-waste lifestyle was what inspired me to do this seriously. That’s when GiftGreen came into action.

What’s the story behind your venture, GiftGreen?

GiftGreen was started to make alternatives for festivals. We don’t realise the damage we do to nature while we enjoy our festivals. We first started with selling plants in terracotta pots with personalised messages on birthdays and anniversaries. I started making soil and seed modaks for Ganpati at home. During Independence day, I worked on plantable paper to make the Indian flag which had a motto “Don’t throw me, Grow me.” We then slowly had a team of 3-4 people making rangolis for Diwali which can be grown into plants. After 4.5 years, we have a range of personal care items, low waste lifestyle items for anyone looking for alternatives.

What role does Social Media play in helping you build your brand and reach your audience? 

Social Media has played an important role. Before making our Instagram and Facebook page, it was only through word of mouth that GiftGreen was known.  But social media helped us reach a wider range of audience and age groups.

What is your favourite eco-friendly product? 

Okay, That’s a tough one! My favourite would be soil and seed modaks as it holds a very sentimental value and works as a great gift. Any eco-friendly item which is reusable (steel straws, cutlery, tote bags, bamboo brushes) and doesn’t harm nature is my favourite. 

Tell us about your most memorable DIY project/workshop.

My first workshop was the most memorable one. It was on the basics of gardening, I thought nobody would attend such a workshop, but I ended up teaching 5 children and a few adults who were so enthusiastic and the youngest participant was only 4 years old.

If your life was a book or a movie, what would it be called? 

Life Lessons from a Plant 😉 

How do you like to spend your free time?

I am usually gardening in my free time. I make sure I learn new things like embroidery, DIY crafts, new recipes, etc. Dying clothes with natural colours is my new free time hobby.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? 

1. I wish to grow as many plants and trees as I can, wherever I can.

2. Travel to all the national parks, sanctuaries, and forests.

3. Spend more time with people around the country trying to spread awareness about our environment.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

The zero waste farmer (Manju Kumar) and worm rani (Vaani Murthy) are 2 accounts I really get inspired by.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Email Address: [email protected]

In the Spotlight- Ashish Limaye

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the Spotlight this week we have Ashish Limaye, a professional equestrian who talks about his passion for the sport and his love for coaching. Read to know his story.

Tell us about your journey— how did you get into horse riding? 

I started riding at a small restaurant that had one horse kept in the backyard. A few months after riding there, Pune hosted junior Nationals. I went there to watch and met Col Khan after which I started riding with him. 

Horse rider, trainer, instructor- you don many hats. How best would you describe yourself? 

I enjoy each role that I play in the sport. I would say I am a rider who got the opportunity to work with great horses and good kids to help them bring out the best in them. 

What are some of the most challenging aspects of horsemanship and how do you tackle them?

The most challenging is the fact that there is no one method or step-wise process to work with horses. Each horse is different and you have to understand them individually and find a way to work best with every single one of them. 

What does it take to be an equestrian athlete? What advice would you give to aspiring riders? 

It takes a lot of patience and perseverance. I would advise aspiring riders that when you want to compete and want to beat others, don’t forget that you are not the only one performing. You have a team member who doesn’t talk. So take time to learn to communicate with your team member because only then will you both be able to perform your best.

Share the story of your most memorable victory as an athlete. 

My first international show where I placed third. 

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list. 

Asian Games, Olympics and Retirement.

How do you like to spend your free time? 

I love watching movies. 

What are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media? 

I follow most top riders, Scott Brash, Kent Farrington, Harrie Smolders and so on. 

Where can people get in touch with you?  

I have a Facebook and Instagram account by my name. My email id is [email protected]


In the Spotlight- Shounak Amonkar

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the Spotlight this week, we have Shounak Amonkar, a celebrity stylist and the co-founder of Who Wore What When. Shounak takes us through his illustrious journey in fashion. Read to know his story.

Tell us about your journey — how did you get into Fashion? 

I did my graduation as a product designer and moved to Milan to do my master’s in fashion accessories. That was honestly my first taste of what it was to be a part of the Fashion industry. That was my first step and from then on I created a shoe collection for my masters’ final graduation project. We had to style the shoot, I mean I had to get it photographed and the shoot looked great and I realised I’d like putting things together and creating a look. That’s how I originally got into styling.

Share the story behind your venture, Who Wore What When.

So, I met Pranay in Milan. Pranay is my partner. We run Who Wore What When together. He was doing his under-graduation in fashion design and I was doing my master’s in accessories. The thing is Milan Fashion Week used to be insane, it used to be an intense week. People used to dress up and there used to be crazy Street Style paparazzi. The whole city turned into a runway and we used to go around clicking these wackily dressed people. We started this blog; it was actually like a street style blog called Who Wore What When which eventually turned into all these interesting people we used to shoot. We started interacting with them, collaborating with them and we started styling them for these street style shoots. Hence, the name Who Wore What When, which was about a blogger or an editor of a magazine or an influencer, what they were wearing and where you can wear these outfits. So basically, it was just a fashion blog and that is how it started. 

What’s your definition of style?

 My definition of style is comfort. If you are uncomfortable, you don’t look stylish, you look puffy and weird. So, if you are comfortable in what you are wearing, I think that inherently starts looking stylish. I primarily wear only black, so my approach is kind of minimalistic when it comes to colour and my general inspiration in terms of style is Yohji Yamamoto. He is a Japanese designer, who does interesting silhouettes and does great all-black clothing.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being a celebrity stylist? 

Being a celebrity stylist, I feel the most challenging part is it’s a lot of work. It’s not fun, it’s not glamorous, it’s not all parties and all of that. It’s extremely exhausting and primarily you need to understand the celebrity, you have to understand their personality because the clothes are an extension of who they are and not what you think works on them. So, we do a lot of research in terms of what they wear, what they look great in, what they wore in the past that did work so there is a lot of research that goes into it and there are endless conversations and hours and hours of fitting and sourcing of clothes. It’s a long, tedious and painful job where our days start from the minute, we get up to the minute we sleep. The thing is, celebrity styling is a very small part that we do but it is very very challenging, everything about it is very challenging.

Where do you draw inspiration from?  

 Honestly, I think anything can inspire us. We like watching period films, we like watching old runways from the 90s, we also love old Italian movies and that is our general sort of aesthetic. We are sort of maximalist, we like vintage hair, big hair, big accessories, and the general vintage Italian vibe is our inspiration most of the time.

Who’s the one celebrity you would love to style and why? 

Ans- Pranay and I are going to have different opinions. Pranay is dying to style Rekha, that’s his ultimate style icon, diva and he is obsessed with her and everything that she stands for, so he would style her. On the other hand, I would love to style Beyoncé, because I think she was quite an inspiration growing up. I think in the early 2000s when I was a teenager, I was quite smitten. She is such a powerhouse, and she is such a diva. I would love, love to work with her! 

What is your favourite item in your closet? 

Ans- Actually as of now, right after the lockdown opened, I travelled to Dubai for my birthday and I found this perfect laptop bag. It’s like this amazing black quilted leather Balmain bag. It’s a super oversized tote with a black tassel. It was love at first sight so that’s currently my favourite item.

How has Social Media impacted your work? 

Ans- The thing is, work for us started in the age of social media. As a company, we are just four years old. So social media has always been very very important. Instagram especially for us is like a portfolio. Nobody checks a website anymore. They just go through your Instagram to have a look at your work. A lot of business queries come through social media. I am not saying all, but almost 80% of business coming our way is because of Instagram and people in our DMs. So yeah, social media is probably a very important reason for where we are now.

What are the top things on your bucket list? 

My top things on the bucket list are:

  • Trying to take a day off in a week and not touch my phone at all! Just do things that I want and not work for just one day a week. We thought we would try to do that as the year began, but it did not happen. So that’s the one very important thing.
  • I am hoping international travel opens up and I have been wanting to go to Istanbul for a very very long time. We were supposed to go in 2020 but that was an epic failure, so hopefully this year.

Where can people get in touch with you?

People can get in touch with us on social media. Instagram is the best because we are super active in our DMs. Somebody from my team is always checking messages and responding to messages. Emails get lost, DMs stay. So, yeah Instagram is good.

In the Spotlight- Akanksha Maker

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Akanksha Maker, a travel enthusiast at heart and the Managing Editor at Business Traveller India. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey, as a writer, journalist and now a managing editor.

Since school, I have always been interested in the written word. It was around the 8th grade that I knew that I wanted to become a journalist. Having studied BMM (Bachelors of Mass Media) and then my masters in marketing and communications from Westminster Business School, I gained work experience across a few companies in marketing and creative direction. I had been freelancing with iDiva and Mumbai Mirror since college and juggled between writing and marketing ever since. I then interviewed with the CEO of Business Traveller India that was planning its launch in 2015. Being passionate about travel since my childhood, this stint almost seemed too good to be true. I was then hired as assistant editor of the magazine and then began some of the most memorable years of my life, where I got on a plane almost every month, discovering and exploring different parts of the world – all while “working”. Writing, travelling and editing almost came naturally to me, and work didn’t feel like it, most of the time. However, what I loved the most, besides discovering wondrous places in the world, was meeting people from different walks of life and listening to their stories. Coming from a family of travel lovers, and now travelling for a living, I have been lucky enough to visit roughly 22 countries as yet. As of today, I work as Business Traveller India’s managing editor, and continue to love what I do!

Share a story about your most memorable business trip.

It’s so hard to pick one. It would be between Tokyo, London, Kathmandu and Paris, so let me share a line for each! Waking up to the view of Mount Fuji from my room at Aman Tokyo; visiting London in 2019 before the pandemic hit during Christmas time and soaking in all the yuletide magic; and taking a Buddha Air flight from Kathmandu for a “joy ride” to see Mount Everest; and watching Metallica live in concert in Paris. Clearly, my business trips turned to leisure ones post the meetings’ schedules!

What advice would you give to aspiring travel writers?

Pursue the passion behind travel, and the rest will come naturally.

What’s the most exciting trend you’ve witnessed in your industry in the last few years?

Since my forte is in business travel, I’ve noticed a seamless blend between business and leisure travel (bleisure travel). Post the pandemic, workations and staycations have become almost second nature to corporate travellers, who miss that comfort of a hotel room! And lastly, luxury travel has evolved from being loud and over the top glitz to intimate and sophisticated minimalism.

Being the managing editor of a travel publication, what are the key challenges you’ve faced due to the global pandemic and how have you tried to tackle them?

Our job as a travel publication is to keep the spirits high of travellers and especially the industry who has been badly hit – including aviation, hospitality and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events). We endeavour to focus on the positive stories and remind people of their wanderlust, vicariously letting them travel to destinations via our words and pictures. Our readers have also been interested in knowing about the rules and regulations with regards to pandemic related restrictions, and we keep them up to date on the same.

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?

I absolutely love space and aviation; so one thing on top of my bucket list is this “Edge of Space Jet Flight” in Russia that takes you to the edge of the stratosphere, for a once in a lifetime flight on a MiG-29 Fulcrum aircraft. After this point in air, only astronauts can fly!

Second on my list is an expedition to Antarctica, where I would like to walk amongst seals and penguins, watch blue whales dive into the icy waters, and hike to vantage points of the South Pole.

Third on my list is a diving trip to Yongala in Australia, which is a shipwreck off the coast of Queensland, to swim alongside manta rays, octopuses, turtles, bull sharks, tiger sharks, clouds of fish and vivid coral.

A book you think every writer must read?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The book spans the history of humankind from the stone age to the 21st century. It intersects natural and social sciences, telling you about the awe-inspiring facts of the world that we live in – only making you want to discover it more. It also makes you realise how small we are in comparison to the planet we reside in.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I love watching science fiction, documentaries and history shows, working out, listening to music and learning more about the things that I love – reading about destinations to travel to, new foods to try and basically expanding my horizons in whatever way I can.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why?

I love @somewheremagazine for their mesmerising photographs of the earth and @accidentallywesanderson for their aesthetic imagery inspired by the filmmaker.

Where can people get in touch with you?

You can follow me on @akanksha_maker on Instagram or write to me at [email protected]