The firsts of any business are always fondly remembered. When we look back to our infant days and baby steps, we want to thank each and every customer sitting in India and abroad who put their trust in us and supported us as we strived to get their choice of garments to them.
One of our fondest memories involves our very first online customer, Madhushree Ghosh.
Madhushree has become a milestone in our success journey and we are so glad to be associated with her all through these years. Not only is she special because she has her wardrobe full of Kharakapas, but more so because she is this extremely spirited person who knows how to enjoy life and make the most of it! Her story is so inspiring that we couldn’t resist having our set of questions ready the moment we got to know she’s coming to India.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
MG: Professionally, I work in cancer diagnostics, with one of the top global pharma groups. I am also a contributing editor at Panorama: The Journal for Intelligent Travel, and have written for international magazines and literary journals such at Chicago Quarterly, Zoetrope, Glimmer Train, Hippocampus, Origins Literary and others. My one-act plays have been performed at San Diego Actors Alliance Festivals and my recent essay "Losing My Way Home" at Panorama was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in non-fiction. Currently, I am working on my memoir, "214 Days Of Silence", and a collection of essays, "Chitaranjan Park Tales", based on my current life in cancer diagnostics in San Diego, and my childhood in 1970s and 80s in New Delhi.
2. How did you come to choose your profession? What/who influenced your decision? What's the most interesting project you've worked on?
MG: I left India when the choices were few and far between. I loved chemistry, particularly, environmental chemistry and how pollutants affected the human body--so I moved into graduate studies in New York and then Baltimore, at Johns Hopkins University. I come from a family of writers, and our discussions at the dining table were politics and literature, so both sides of my brain worked equally. When I missed home, particularly, New Delhi, I wrote about that city, my love. Soon, my work was published in established American literary magazines, and it was a combination of homesickness and a need to share my city with others who would have never thought of a world like that. India is a country of contradictions--filled with color, joy, pollution, life, smog and love--that's what I like to share with my readers.
One of my projects as a contributing writer at Panorama was to describe Street View, an essay on how my neighborhood (in San Diego) is--which turned into a memoir of my life till then and why I moved there--it was just nominated for a Pushcart, which is exciting for a literary person, especially one who considers herself a scientist first.
In my profession as a cancer diagnostics executive, I headed a group that enabled the testing of HPV in poor and under-developed countries at a significantly reduced cost that was affordable for women where cervical cancer diagnostics was almost unheard of. To be part of the change has been a monumental experience for me.
3. Take us through a work day and off day in your life.
MG: I work on my writing early morning 5-7 AM, start work on my cancer diagnostics strategy after that, which is a 24 hour job anyway. If I am on the road, which is 3 weeks out of 4, I love writing while flying and people watching at airports, which again gives me a flavor of what makes us happy, and the unusual concerns of daily life of normal people.
4. How do you define freedom and confidence?
MG: Freedom and confidence comes with inner peace. If you're happy with yourself, nothing can shake the confidence that emanates from within. Freedom is a special right, we all have, but we all assume we have to gain it from someone else. Both confidence and freedom are traits one has to hold on to, and work towards every day.
5. Tell us your happiest memory.
MG: Again, another great question. One of my happiest memories was at IIT Delhi, we received our MSc graduation degrees. The president of the institute gave us the degrees according to rank. I was standing first, followed by my two dear friends, also girls. In a class filled with boys, we girls ruled. I walked ahead and the president folded his hands in a namaste, and I knew he shook the boys' hands in the class before me. So I pulled his namaste palms into a handshake and I remember his shocked face before his lips curled into a smile. One doesn't have to thrust feminism in people's faces; our actions speak louder than words. In the audience, my sister yelled, bravo! And we knew we had broken a glass ceiling that day. That was almost two decades ago.
6. What/who is your biggest strength?
MG: My biggest strength is my sense of humor. One needs to understand that life is filled with potholes but you need to know how to negotiate it. If you have a sense of humor, everything is easy. Respect one another, treat each other with love, everything else will fall in place.
7. Tell us an interesting travel story or about your favourite city?
MG: My favorite cities are Delhi and San Diego--I can't decide between either. I just visited Delhi after 7 years, and when friends from San Diego ask me how it is, it's a mix of pollution, smog, life, love and color--how can you not love it? A dear friend and I tried to walk to Lal Quila last Sunday in the middle of the book sales on the streets and the bazaar on the footpaths--after a while we gave up, and walked to the roadside bread pakora wala and had the best savory snack ever--I can't even describe how scrumptious the pakora was or how delightful the chutney felt to my taste buds after seven years. Heaven!
San Diego for me is a peaceful, quiet place. Home. Every time my flight swoops down towards Balboa Park, past the missions, over Old Town where the city started, I heave a sigh of relief--this is what home feels like to me. Peace. And joy.
8. What is your relationship with fashion? How would you define your style mantra?
MG: Fashion to me should be comfortable, ready-to-wear, classy and yet, Indian. Contemporary Indian. My style mantra is actually Kharakapas--it evolves with each season, almost as if Shilpi knew what I was craving for, each season engages a new sense of comfort, a new sense of freedom, and the fabric represents everything I know India to be.
9. What do you think about Indian textiles.
MG: I have always had a keen interest in Indian textiles, first because it's dying, and second, it's an art form. I have supported many organizations that help in sustaining eco-friendly textile making and designs, and living in San Diego, I know there's a huge demand for such fabric, for their versatility, clean feel and durability.