"For Siddhartha, It Was Love At First Sight" - Anita Kaul Basu


For Anita Kaul Basu, director of Synergy Communications and wife of ace quiz master Siddhartha Basu, life has been full of surprises - some good, some bad... but nonetheless amazingly colorful.

Born in Kashmir, Anita subsequently migrated to Surrey, England where the world seemed to be her oyster.

"The exposure levels were amazing and my parents were adamant that we (my two brothers and I) got the best of that world. However, they made sure we never lost our identities and were Indians first. The growing up years can be fraught with confusion and we had our share of being in that state, but my mother ensured we got huge doses of our Kashmiri rituals, food, Indian film, music etc," says Anita.

Those were the best days of my life...

I have lots of fond memories of my childhood days... from changing two trains and a bus to get to school in the cold winter mornings of London and picking up stacks of Mars bars and lip-smacking pastries along the way... I've done it all.

It was a dilemma everyday for me whether to catch the bus or spend that money on fresh cream puffs and walk three kilometers to school. I was crowned Miss Beautiful and was taken all over London in a open van with a ridiculous crown and ballroom type of dress, wherein I pretended to be Queen of England! In retrospect, all this seems hilarious. Theatre is something that left me spell bound in Britain, where I watched some of the greatest actors perform. I can never forget the mad 70s when I used to stitch my own clothes and crochet my own long fringed jackets.

I was a sportsperson throughout my school and college days. I was the best in my school for the 100 meter hurdles and even now I dream of having the time to run. I was also the captain of the school hockey team.

Life's journey so far...

Most of us think we can circumvent destiny or at least have the power to control it. I am afraid the writing has been done a long time back and one just has to be receptive to the twists and turns of the plot and story and not let the foul patches dictate our entire course.

I graduated and joined the Indian Institute of Mass Communications for a journalism course. Subsequently I joined India Today on the editorial team. I was there for five years before I resigned to look after my first child. I never went back to a full time job, because by 1987, we set up our own company. It's been like that ever since and has been the most amazing learning curve.

For Siddhartha, it was love at first sight...

I came back from England to do my graduation at Miranda House, Delhi University. There I met Mira Nair, who was a year senior to me. She introduced me to Siddhartha. At that time, he was doing a play for the Shakespeare Society of St. Stephen's College where he took me for audition. It was love at first sight for him. We began dating a couple of months later and got married a full eight years after our first meeting. My parents were very apprehensive about this marriage and it took them a long time to accept it. But it's been 24 years and we are still together!

Marriage is a commitment and a responsibility towards each other and to our children, Aditya (21) and Medha (17).

Read, read, read till I sleep...

I'm into the habit of reading at least three books at the same time! It all depends on my mood and how tired I am. But I have to read before my eyes automatically droop. I have had so many favorites - Vikram Seth's An Equal Music; The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari; Sue Townsend's series of Adrian Mole; Shantaram and books authored by Bill Cosby.

No time to travel...

I have not traveled as much as I would have liked to, primarily because of my children, their school schedules and my immovable work schedules. My favorite holiday places are The Glass House on the Ganges, Rishikesh, Paris and Cornwall in England.

I have fond memories of rafting on the Ganges. It was phenomenally exhilarating, life giving and exciting. The Caravan holidays with friends and cousins in England and beach holidays in Goa were also memorable.

It's ridiculous to buy something just for the sake of the brand

I am not a compulsive shopper, although I love the exercise! I have a keen eye and can get the best bargains. I am not a person who will shop at will.

I do not subscribe to brands and I find it ridiculous catering to people who have more money than they can handle and are up against the Joneses. I refuse to buy something just because it's a big brand name. I can understand buying branded electronics or even watches, but clothes and accessories; sorry I stay unmoved by it all!

I am neither the types who gets easily impressed, nor the type who fawns and drops brand names. I do go for quality in some things but I don't think that brands necessarily equate quality. I pick a lot of my clothes from the streets of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangkok or London. If I like something, I will buy it and not not because I must have it to impress others.

One thing that I am careful about while purchasing is perfumes. My current favorites are Flower by Kenzo and Hypnotic Poison. I stay as faithful as possible to my favorites for a long time. On the shoes front, the best one I have are picked up from London. Again no big brands, but they are comfortable yet stylish. All my summer chappals are from Delhi's Greater Kailash Market or from Bangkok.

Eclectic taste for movies and music...

I love movies and music and have a pretty eclectic taste in both. However, I do not watch science fiction movies and absolutely detest heavy metal and trance music. The movies that have been etched in my mind are, The Shawshank Redemption, all of Audrey Hepburn's films, Kazaz ke Phool, Satya, Bunty Aur Babli and Being Cyrus amongst many others.

Music is my life. I just can't live without rock and roll! I love old Hindi film songs, uplifting classical Indian music as well as western music. Elton John, Phil Collins, Celine Dion are some of my favourite singers.

No discos for me please...

I like to party with friends but either at their home or mine. I don't like discos too much, partly because the music is invariably loud, metallic and staccato. After a while your ears are torn apart and your legs spent dancing on the same spot, since space is always at a premium.

Perceptions change when you allow yourself to see things from a higher plain...

I must admit, I was a non-believer early on in life. Miraculously along the way all that changed. I began to search for answers, look for inner strength and seek certain calmness. I have a high adrenaline rush and am on the go most of the time. I needed to center my restless energy as I was very stressed out.

I have found that the only person who can help you is you! Yes, you need a little bit of help to find the YOU to begin with. I took to Reiki and meditation. This has helped me tremendously. It's an instant de-stressor. I can see now how we exaggerate our problems in our minds. The solutions are simpler than we think. Your perceptions change when you allow yourself to see things from a higher plain. It minimises the problems and makes them easy to tackle.

I meditate everyday without fail. It's my soul curry! Otherwise I stay active running around as I am not prone to just lying around doing nothing. I have to spend the excess energy I have.

I am a 'kattar' meat-eating cannibal

I am not an orgiastic foodie. I need it as fuel. However, I don't mind trying out different cuisine. I am a 'kattar' meat-eating cannibal - Kashmiris cannot live without their one kilo of meat a day! I love Kashmir "tabakmaaz," a fried spare rib delicacy. I love fish and chips made the English way and wrapped in newspaper! And Italian food - all of it!

I do cook but I am a person who hates to spend too much time in the kitchen. I am a karate chop cook - quick cutting, fast cooking and swift clean up. I cook all Kashmiri dishes, bit of Italian and my own Indian food recipes; and when I have time, roast dishes.

Most gizmos leave me completely cold

I am not at all a gizmo freak. It's beyond me to understand and make time to figure out the workings of any gizmo - whether a phone or a computer or the latest technology system. I use gizmos for purely practical purposes.

I love driving and the smaller the car the better. A Ferrari or Lamborghini won't hurt! But, even a Santro is good enough for the Indian roads and great for parking and a zippy drive!

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