For decades now, women in our country have been struggling to balance their evolution as mothers, homemakers, dedicated professionals and nation-builders. Chanda Kochhar represents an industry which fortunately, is no more stymied by gender definitions. Perceived as top corporate honcho, as MD & CEO of India’s largest Private sector bank, ICICI, few would guess that side-by-side; she has also been the most hands-on mother. Her daughter Aarti Kochhar, a spontaneous, articulate young lady of 23, who is an engineer by qualification, and just back from America where she works with renowned consulting firm;
Aarti Says: For me, my mom is just my mom – we are very similar, yet different. Her awards make her no different for me today. She continues to manage our routines, our lives. She also supervises what is happening at home. People say she is tough at work, but we don’t know that, as she never discusses her work or her problems at home. She has always sat with us through our homework and completed the cut-paste projects with us till late in the nights.
Chanda Says: I give a lot of credit to both my children for being able to manage a lot on their own. My daughter is growing up into a well-balanced individual. On one hand she academically oriented and professional, and on other, she is strong with her family bonding. She chose to return to India to work, rather than the US, where most of her friends are. It is here that she is able to combine work with family time, especially with her growing brother, who is seven years her junior.
Aarti Says: I don’t recollect a single morning of my life when my mother has not woke us up for school, no matter where she was. We didn’t know what alarm clocks were! She always attended to my health, when needed, and was present at our Parent Teacher Meetings. She beautifully combines the conventional act of being a mother at home, and a professional at work.
Chanda Says: Indian values and culture have always been deep rooted in Aarti. Even as a student in US, she would cook Indian meals and observe her navratri fasts. This is a common ground between us; we both love the Indian way of life. My daughter is a responsible elder sister now; she is the buffer – the sweet and the calming one between Arjun and us! She plays the role of third parent to her brother and she is doing this phenomenally well.
Aarti Says: Relationships evolve over a period of time, with my mother, our lifestyle has remained as simple as ever; transformation has been gradual for me, from being an introvert to opening up as a person. The Dhirubhai Ambani School has been a mentor, offering me a combination of great academics along with social responsibility.
Chanda Says: As parents, we have tried giving her a meaningful upbringing – a sound education and basic values. We were particular about her initial foundation, but she has to be her own decision-maker. I would want her to go the whole hog, work hard, put in her best efforts and try to excel in whatever she pursues as her career. Aarti has a personality of her own; she is sincere and has the drive!
Aarti Says: While I have not yet set very long term goals for my career, I have been brought up believing that there is no other path then that of hard work and perseverance, which makes an individual excel in whatever one does. Bollywood is a big passion.
I must confess I am a die-hard Shah Rukh Khan fan. I love film songs. I also love clothes, shopping and cooking. It’s my big dream plan that over and above a profession career, sometime I will set up something very creative in the culinary field or have my own clothing line; I would absolutely love to go for a culinary course sometime in life. But engineering and academics is the only canvas available to me at this point in time, and I am not trained to convert my creative streaks into something of commercial value. However, I will keep my interests in cooking and designing as passions in life.
Chanda Says: She is a passionate girl and I see a lot of myself in her, but a lot of her is also unique to herself. She has abundant natural stamina, we both usually don’t complain of jet lag after long flights and are always up and ready with our plans. As I have inherited resilience and mental strength from my mother, my daughter has inherited the same characteristics, but her passion for clothes and cuisines are part of her own very strong creative streaks…and that’s totally her. What makes Aarti special to me is her incredible nature; she is inherently the most caring, loving person. Her concern is for everyone around her.
Aarti Say: My parents are one unit for us; their synergies have added values to our lives. We lead a simple life with immense respect and support for each other. My mother wouldn’t have been where she is without my father’s support. Growing up in this environment of simplicity and of respect for each other has kept us close to the ground. I am aware how my parents have built everything from scratch to give us this comfort; I realize it and deeply appreciate everything they do for us.
We are a family of diverse interests – dad and Arjun are into sports and fitness. I enjoy cooking and shopping and even drag my mother into it. We bond over week-ends – we do everything together as a family – eating at home, laughing over my brother’s jokes, or going out to dinners, listening to music and watching lots of movies, thus there is never a dull moment in our lives! My love for clothes and designing drives my mother nuts sometimes, as my taste is evidently imposed on my family – from selecting their clothes to the curtains or bed covers for the house.
To share a secret – my mother wears only what I finally approve, as she is left with no choice! And I mostly boss around everyone to decide where we are going to eat. We are very close friends, and share a special bond. My mother is my confidante and I share everything with her.
Chanda Says: As a family, we try to spend as much time together as we can, within the constraints of our respective schedules. We travel together on holidays; we do a lot of fun things at home, chat over dinners and coffee and bond over movies. Of course we have a lot of fun around Aarti’s passion for food and design. During Aarti’s childhood, I was doing more of parental duty of supervising her, but today the same Aarti brings in a lot of action and spark into the family.
Inspired from Hello magazine – November 2011