On Thursday, the 8th of May 14, our first-born Arjun S Ravi weds Samira Kanwar, the first-born of Asha and Atul Kanwar. This photo-essay traces Arjun and Samira’s life leading up to the wedding. Here is their Wedding Invite:
Let me first explain the name ‘Loveapalooza‘ to you. It has been derived from ‘Lollapalooza’, that is a very well attended “annual music festival featuring popular alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock and hip hop bands, dance and comedy performances, and craft booths.”
You can read more about it on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lollapalooza.
You see, Arjun and Sam (Samira) both are into music in a huge way. They are both directors in the music company called OML (Only Much Louder); Sam looks after the television content through a company under OML banner called Babble Fish Productions. Arjun looks after the digital content on the portals NH7 and Indiecision.
Let me now begin their story:
Arjun, our elder son, was born on 14th of May in 1984. All children are god sent. However, Arjun was special since he was born two weeks after my father’s tragic death and all of us, especially my mom (his dadi (paternal grandmother)) felt that he was sent to wipe away our tears. And he did and still does. He was a joy to hold and to watch growing up:
My mom (his dadi) holding Arjun as a gift from God:
Lyn, always so beautiful, in ecstasy to hold “such a wonderful bundle of joy”:
During his early childhood, we shuttled between Mumbai and Kandaghat in Shimla Hills and then for the next three years until we went for my Staff Course in Wellington (Nilgiris) in May 1990, we were in New Delhi. This included the six months period between January and June 1988 when I was on deputation to Seville in Spain and the family (by this time our younger son Arun was born on the 22nd of Dec 1986 in Mumbai when I and my ship INS Ganga were away to Andaman & Nicobar islands with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia Gandhi) shifted with my mother in Kandaghat.
There was nothing that he did that was not refreshingly appealing to people all around him. He had a natural propensity to love all animals and befriended cats and dogs at a very early stage. A few years back, he found that a bitch had littered under the stairs leading to his office of the JAM magazine. He found that one of the pups was not just small and weak but unable to cope up. He brought the pup home and throughout the night tended to it with the advice being received on phone by an NGO looking after the welfare of the stray dogs. He didn’t sleep at all. In the morning, he was in tears when the pup died.
He was at home with everything; as the picture above shows, even in a trash-box. The moment he learnt to crawl, he was everywhere, helping my mom and all of us with our work:
Frequent travels from Bombay to Kandaghat didn’t keep him away from looking cute and relaxed:
And then, he learnt to stand on his two feet and walk around. Here is a picture of the first step he ever did! Lyn and I have, at least one picture of all his firsts except one; the first word he uttered was ‘Goo”, all by himself. We called over friends to share with them the exciting news that Arjun spoke. Over drinks, they asked us to share with them the word and when we told them, they stared at us in amazement. It was amazing indeed.
Now that he learnt to walk, it was difficult to keep him in his play-pen:
Or, for that matter, in his pram:
She is the first-born of Asha and Atul Kanwar; born on the American Independence Day: the 4th of July. It was certainly the most beautiful thing that ever happened to Asha and Atul. Holding the gift of their love close to them was like their most ardent dream come true. Here is Asha, as in Donald Peer’s song: “Looking proud as a queen as she carried” Samira:
The sheer joy of holding her whilst the fawning husband looked on is something that is unforgettable for Asha. As far as Samira is concerned, she knows that the happiness, warmth and confidence of being in her parents’ arms can never be replaced by any other experience. Just about two years back she wrote on Facebook on a picture of Arjun: ‘My boy-friend bestest‘. However, a bird told us that until she met Arjun, she didn’t have any boy-friends and her parents and later her sister were her complete world.
Samira’s total countenance is that of being at perfect ease and trust with the rest of the world. She has a natural sense of humour. Here is one of her typical comments made with her characteristic tinkle: “My parents decided to move abroad to the Gulf to save a lakh. They decided that once they did that, they’d move back to India – it’s now been 33 years and they’re still trying to save that one Lakh”.
Samira or Sam as she is known, moved to Dubai (where Atul got his first job as a financier in a construction company. Says Sam, “Numbers are his friend unlike they are to me or my sister”) with her parents from Bombay when she was three. By that time, Asha and Atul’s love had produced another miracle that they named Anjali. Here is Asha having her hands full with doubled joys:
Sam recalls, “My sister was the cutest baby in the world.” Lyn and I, however, with the pride born out of our immense good fortune in about to have a very pretty and affectionate daughter, (exactly how Asha and Atul would gain a son in Arjun), feel that no one can be more cute than Sam. We feel that she is still a baby and she is likely to keep her baby looks for at least a few more decades! See if you can make one baby from the other in the following picture:
Arjun became such an important part of our lives that we just couldn’t leave him at any time (I was commissioned in the Indian Navy in Jul 1975 and I was a Lieutenant Commander when he was born). A few pictures of his being with us:
Lyn spent hours looking at him and admiring him:
I took him everywhere with me, my Yezdi KEE 438 was the first vehicle he rode:
My mother even took him to the Gurudwara in our house for her prayers and reading of the Guru Granth Sahib:
Here is Arjun on his First Birthday; the cake had to be made in the shape of a ship since I was posted on one at that time:
And then, in Dec 1986, Arun was born. Both Arjun and Arun formed a very loving team and got along famously.
Their love and comfort level with each other was such that once after a quarrel in the daytime, when they went to sleep, in mock estrangement, Arun complained to us that he couldn’t go to sleep since Arjun was not holding his hand!
Here are some more pictures of Arjun’s childhood, having Arun as his constant companion:
During their first visit to America:
At home in Kandaghat, Arun still trying to gain confidence in the cycle-riding skills of his elder brother, Arjun.
Now this is really funny. During those days when an overseas (ISD) call used to cost a bomb, Arjun and Arun learnt how to dial the various codes and numbers and connected to my brother JP Singh in the USA:
Holding hands and going to sleep never left them, even when they were on their first overseas trip, to USA:
Picnics were part of our life and during these outings, Arjun and Arun found ways and means to amuse themselves:
During their visit to the Disney Land in California:
Both with my brother, studying in Campion School in Mumbai:
At a very very young age, Arjun became very fond of music. Here is the first picture of his enjoying music; there was no looking back after that:
After Arun was born, Arjun also gave signs of doing things by himself rather than asking me or even Lyn how to (Please also read: ‘Diminishing Dad’):
If he is seen above trying to put a knot on a neck-tie, here he is trying to polish shoes:
All in all, I feel Arjun had a very healthy, happy and interesting childhood. Did that prepare him for life and its challenges? I would think so. If there is one word in which I can describe him, then the word is ‘gentleman’. When he was studying in the Timpany School in Vizag, as a class monitor, he took his job so seriously that when the school bus from Naval Base didn’t report, he put all the kids in a few auto-rickshaws, and then left them one by one in their houses; especially the girls. Here is a picture of Arjun in the Holy Innocents School in Wellington (Nilgiris) whereat I was undergoing Staff Course at DSSC. He was all of six years old:
We moved to Kochi when he was in the 12th standard. Normally, kids should do their schooling in classes 11th and 12th from the same school for the Board (CBSE or ICSE) exams. But, it was not to be in Arjun’s case because of the Navy’s system of postings. Ostensibly he used to listen to music and play cricket; however, when the board results were announced (on the net), Lyn and I were pleasantly surprised to see him pass out with nearly 93 per cent marks (he actually stood first in all the Naval Public Schools (now re-christened as Naval Children’s Schools) in his (commerce) stream.
By this time, in the year 1998, there was another addition to our family; our darling dog Roger who was born on the 3rd of July that year. Roger was with me in a remote locality called INS Kattabomman (near Tirunelvelli in Tamilnadu) and the rest of the family missed seeing him as a puppy. On their visit to Kattbomman, here is how Roger made a place for himself in the family:
Curiously, whilst doing stunningly well in studies (Roger used to give Arjun company during his late night studies), he took part in debates and declamations and plays. One of these, during that period, was directed by me: a play titled Dear Charles. He used to be present during the rehearsals of the play in the US Club. Whenever anyone forgot their dialogues, Arjun used to help them without even looking at the script. Finally, we all felt that he could be given a role. He did superbly as Bruno, Denise’s son and won a huge applause for his performance. Then, he acted as Lieutenant Sanjay, the hero, in my adaptation of Molière’s Baker’s Muddle. I called it ‘Suddenly in the Park’. This was the first play presented in Navy’s Mulla auditorium in NOFRA, Colaba. Lastly, he acted in another play that I directed in the same auditorium: The Black Comedy; the play was presented for the farewell visit of the Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash to Mumbai. Here is Arjun as the rich baron Georg Bamberger:
Arjun joined St Xavier’s in Mumbai for his graduation in the year 2001 and thereafter worked for a magazine called JAM (Just another Magazine) whilst preparing for his CAT exam. He went to MICA (Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad) for his MBA in 2005 and graduated from there in 2007. He worked for Mudra for sometime before getting back as an Editor for JAM. By this time it was clear to him that his calling was music. He started a popular musical portal called Indiecision. He joined his present company OML (Only Much Louder) and started another music portal named NH7 (named after India’s longest highway) and merged Indiecision into it. The picture below shows Arjun, Anshul and Sachin giving a performance of their band ‘The Unlike No One’s’ at MICA:
Sam moved to Dubai with her parents when she was three. After that, they moved to Muscat and her parents are still there though her mother divides time between Muscat and Mumbai (Bandra, where they have a house). Sam recalls that after Anjali was born, one day she fed her potato chips even though Anjali had no teeth. The reason? Anjali looked at Sam eating chips and Sam took pity on her! The result? Well, potato chips are now a favourite with Anjali. That she nearly choked on the chips is not remembered by both Anjali and Sam.
Much like Arjun and Arun, Sam and Anjali made a great and almost inseparable pair:
Here is another adorable picture of the two (Please notice that holding hands is common between Anjali & Sam, and Arun & Arjun:
Sam did her schooling from the Indian School, Muscat until she became sweet sixteen. After this, she had to return to Mumbai since she wasn’t interested in either Commerce or Science streams and wanted to pursue Arts. She sat through the boring commerce classes in Indian School at Muscat and decided that she wasn’t cut out for Commerce.
Recalls Sam fondly, “We had a wonderful school life, growing up in Muscat. My mom is a closet event manager. She has amazing organizational skills and she’d organize games and we even had a club for kids where we’d meet up and learn, cook, play sports.” Amazing indeed.
As a girl happy with others and also happy by herself:
Love for dogs is something that she shares with Arjun. In Muscat, she enjoyed the company of not one but three dogs – Timmy, Scamp and Sheeba. Even now they have dogs in their house in Muscat: Oscar and Misha.
She then moved to Bombay and studied in Sophia College for 5 years (FYJC – TYBA). She was in the hostel for the first 2.5 years and made a lot of close friends. This is what she feels about her life in Bombay: “I became a lot bolder in college. I started to speak out and gain confidence. Bombay helped me come out of my shell a lot.”
She ended up being Student Body President in her final year of college and she majored in English Literature.
She did a post-graduate diploma course in Sophia Polytechnic in Mass Communications after which she began working in advertising film production.
After a few years in advertising, she realized she wasn’t happy so she moved to television. She visited Europe during this period: Italy, Germany and Turkey and talked with her camera. Here she is at the Trevi Fountain in Rome tossing the coin to ensure she visits again:
And then, after some years, she joined OML and she has been a part of it since 2006. In her own words, “I’ve been very happy working with like-minded people where we share a common goal of supporting the music and alternative culture scene by doing things we’re good at. (in my case making films!)”
Meanwhile last year, her sister Anjali got married to Avinash – yes younger sister got married before her – but only by a year.
Their dog Biscuit is the queen in their lives:
All in all Samira (Sam) is a love-child who had a very happy, loving, and interesting childhood and growing up. Here is what the Kanwar family looked at this juncture, awaiting the arrival of another son in their family after Sam’s sister Anjali married Avinash:
When love strikes, all you can do is bow your head and accept the best gift that God can give you. As it creeps over you and totally engulfs you, a realisation comes over you to tell you that you were wasting your time not being the object of your love. Sam and Arjun went over this in their own unique way whilst going through their separate lives with moments of togetherness thrown in here and there.
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