In this huge country of ours, there is no dearth of hardworking and successful women. There are fewer women however, who have made it to the top of their particular field and fewer still who have managed to do so while also juggling the awesome responsibilities of motherhood. These are women of substance who are also moms. In our section on Celebrity Moms, we take a look at their lives, their struggles to balance both their personal and professional lives and at the messages they carry for all the rest of us. This month we are starting with the famous Kathak dancer, Shovana Narayan.
Shovana Narayan is one of India’s top Kathak dancers as well as a senior Audit and Accounts officer of the 1976 batch. She is married to an Austrian diplomat, currently posted as the Austrian Ambassador to India. The couple have one son aged 15 years who is studying in Austria. Shovana finds time to practice her dance, work a full 8-hour day, teach dance lessons, write a book on Kathak, socialize and create dance dramas as well as be wife and mother. Her day begins at dawn and is often 18-24 hours long. Read these excerpts from her interview for a glimpse of this amazing and inspiring Celeb Mom!
Indianmoms: How do you manage to fit in as much as you do in your day?
Shovana: Its true that I have a very long day lasting 18-20 hours. But, I love my work and so it doesn’t really feel like working. It’s my belief that if you enjoy what you do, you will always find time for it. Besides, I’ve been putting in this kind of day virtually all my life. As a result, I feel more exhausted on days when I don’t do anything than on my normal work days!
Indianmoms: How did you get interested in Kathak and at what age did you start lessons?
Shovana: I was extremely energetic as a young child. My mother got tired of my constant queries about what to do next and decided to find a constructive outlet for all that energy! Also, my parents, especially my mother, were interested in the arts and both my sister and I were encouraged to take up music and dance. My sister developed an affinity for music while I developed a passion for dancing. I was very young when I began dancing – about 3-4 years. But even at that age, I loved what I did. My parents were very encouraging and created an atmosphere where our interests could flourish. But at the same time they were extremely strict about studies and I was told that the day I came second, my dancing lessons would be stopped. That was very powerful motivation for me and I learnt the art of excelling in both studies and dance from an early age. Today, it seems completely natural to me to work hard all day as an officer and equally hard in the evenings and over weekends at dancing.
Indianmoms: How do you manage to combine motherhood with your hectic work schedule?
Shovana: Well, you know that I am married to an Austrian diplomat. For most of our married life, he has lived in another continent! Today after 16 years, for the first time we are living together in Delhi. Our son is fifteen and has been studying in Austria from the time he began formal schooling. That was a conscious decision we both took because after being grounded in Indian culture and surroundings, we wanted him to learn about his father’s heritage also. He lives there with his aunts, my sisters-in-law, as his father too is constantly moving from one place to another. Every few months I take time off and visit my family in Austria or they come over. It’s an arrangement that works well for us. Even when he was here, he always believed that he had 5 mothers – my sister, my two sisters-in-law, his grandmother and myself! He is the only child in both branches of the family. So he grew up feeling very loved and wanted. When he was a child, I took him with me everywhere except to office. So even though I was working for 8 hours a day outside the house, he knew that he was important to me and that I wanted to keep him close to me. According to me, knowing that he is loved is the most important gift we can give to a child.
Indianmoms: Do you and your husband face any differences on the upbringing of your son, especailly as you both from different cultural backgrounds?
Shovana: Not at all. I have found that in Austria as in India, the basic human values remain the same. In fact apart from differences in skin colour and language, my in laws and I share the same likes and dislikes and the same attitudes to life.
Indianmoms: What is your parenting style?
Shovana: I am a product of my parents’ ability to marry their own wishes with my inclinations. I have tried to do the same for my son. He is musically inclined but like his father he loves sports of all kinds. He is a very good skier and footballer. I have exposed him to the liberal arts but have never tried to pressurize him to take up anything against his inclinations. I have also tried to be more a friend than a parent in the sense that I have always explained and reasoned instead of ordering. That is why even as a teenager studying in another continent, he is still very close to me. Also I have never tried to be possessive about him but believed that he should be close to the entire family. Inherently, I always knew that as his mother we share a bond that no one else can break and so I didn’t encourage clinging or jealousy or feel insecure if he was close to anyone else.
As we said in the beginning, Shovana Narayan is a truly remarkable woman. She has taught her son to be independent, to think for himself and has exposed him to an immense world of opportunity. She has encouraged him to follow his interests and dreams while at the same time ensuring that those dreams are grounded in the reality of academic excellence. The lines of communication between mother and son remain strong and affectionate despite the physical distance between them. That’s no minor achievement, especially considering that Shovana Narayan has found time to also pursue a full time career and a very successful vocation in dance!
If you have any comments or observations to share about our Celeb Mom of the month or wish to send an example of another celeb mom , please do write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.