Shrima is the most candid, effervescent and a warm mommy, when I met her for the first time, we ended up discussing so much that it never felt as if we are meeting for the first time. Shrima is a mommy of two and also the one who won the Gladrags Mrs. India in 2009.
But be it a celebrity mom or anyone, motherhood remains the same throughout. Don’t you think so? Read on as she shares her journey.
So Shrima tell us a bit about your experience as the winner of Gladrags pageant to being a blogger with The Urban Unwind.
Mrs. India came about when I was working with a bank. My husband encouraged me to participate in the same and my boss then also supported. So these two men in my life motivated me and had faith that I can win it. So I applied, then made it to the list of toppers and won the first runner-up. After that, I participated in some international contests too and I won the Mrs. Beautiful face award & was have made it to the Top 10 in some of the international pageants.
Tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was born in Mangalore but left India at a very young age. I grew up in a small town called Norristown in Pennsylvania which is more on the outside of Philadelphia. So my childhood has memories of a small town. When I was 16 we shifted to Texas. So most of my childhood was spent on the East Coast and my high-school years were spent in Texas. My parents were immigrants and we belong to the Mangalorean community. We are a multi-cultural family like one of my uncle is married to a German lady, so my cousins are half white. My nephews and nieces are half Vietnamese. My parents wanted me to be in touch with our roots, so they enrolled me for Bharatnatyam, so I learned classical dancing for many years. I used to perform at Indian weddings, cultural events around New York.
They even enrolled me, at YMCA to learn Bhagavad Gita.
“For me, though I was raised in the USA, we were always in touch with the India culture.”
After you moved to India, you did an MBA?
I haven’t done MBA. I have done Business Management. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity with Standard Chartered. I was always planning to work before the MBA as the experience is required. That was the plan. But then Gladrags happened. Then I started modeling too. So I was doing banking & modeling at the same time. But then it was time to have children. After I had my child, I was still working in the banking sector. Since my child was really small,
“I was working from home, was handling the child, going for meetings, everything started becoming hectic. So, I took a break from working, I had my second child. Then I decided to quit the corporate world and get back to something creative. So I started doing content writing and that’s how I started my own blog Urban Unwind. To get more attention on this blog, I started being active Instagram”
It started with posting random iPhone pictures but then I realized it was getting attention, I had photographers requesting me whether they can click my pictures for free. So I thought, why not? That’s how I started leveraging my profile on Instagram. I was fortunate to have photographers coming to click my photos and they probably also realized that I am not uncomfortable in front of the cameras.
How did you meet your husband?
A lot of people ask me this question because it rarely happens that someone who has grown up in the USA come back to India. Anyway, so Aditya’s uncle’s wife and my uncle’s wife are sisters. They sort of played matchmakers. That’s how we ended up meeting at family parties. So they somewhat set us up. You can call it a love-arranged marriage.
Working moms tend to have a different kind of mindsets. Like there are various reasons to work. What was your reason?
“My main reason honestly would be because I always knew that I was not one of those who will never work. I love being a house-wife too but then it gets a little boring especially when your kid goes to school or for other activities and that’s what happened to me. In fact, I always had entrepreneurial dreams, wanted to do something of my own, build a brand, do something more with my influencer platforms. So that’s how I decided to work and don’t see myself being at home.”
So how was it leaving your friends in the USA while shifting back? Are you still in touch with them?
One good thing is that I am still in touch with all my friends from Norristown and High-school days. Social media truly helped in staying in touch with me too. I moved to India, but every time I go there for work etc., I still make it a point to meet them for a few hours. I am very lucky to have friends like them, it’s like I have never been away. My friends there very much understand what I am doing here more than my people in India as they are far more active on social media.
You grew up in the US and yet were so much in touch with your roots. Now that you are a mother, how do you make sure of that?
I started being independent at a very early age. Both my parents had full-time jobs, working for huge companies. They had no one to help, no nanny etc, it was just us. Being the elder one, I would look after my brother and also help out a lot in the house. That’s how I started being responsible. That’s the same thing I try to do with my kid here. Though we are fortunate to have maids here. I still expect my sons to keep his plate in the sink when he is done eating and make sure that he helps me with the dishes or set the table when the maid is not around.
“I like the run my household in a more American way sans the maids because that’s how I am used to doing it and that’s how I learned to be independent. It’s just my thing maybe, though maids too take very good care of the kids too”
My husband’s mentality is also the same. He too helps me with the dishes. I want my kids, both boys learn the same way, I want them to learn to cook, I want them to do the dishes. I want that kind of culture to be there.
Going back to fashion, there are a lot of mothers who kind of stop paying attention to fashion, they let go. Like I have people coming and telling me that I don’t look like a mother. I wonder what they even mean. So, did this ever happen to you?
To be honest, there was a phase where I also let go. like there was a huge possibility of spotting me in yoga pants in Nature’s basket.
“I believe that happens to all of us, we are multi-tasking and being hands-on mothers, it’s a normal phase. I had a long phase though, I guess only after my second child came to an age where he was sleeping better etc, that’s when I started realizing and looked at myself in the mirror and I was like Oh My God! what am I doing? I started thinking about my days in the USA. There everyone is so well groomed. Like if anyone there would see me this way they would be like what the hell is wrong with you and all”
Then I started hitting the gym more frequently, started putting little makeup, concealing my dark circles, got my nails groomed, I started taking care of myself. It’s sort of a domino effect, its like once you start doing it, you automatically start feeling better. All moms go through that phase but snap out of it soon too.
Your message to other mothers
“There are so many fun ways to lift yourself with clothes etc. It’s not a superficial effect, like the day you put some lipstick, wear some accessories, dressed really etc. you do feel vibrant and happy”
I wrote a whole blog on this topic. It’s a science which that what you wear does affect your mood. That’s why you wear a suit as a banker, it makes you feel more confident and powerful. Also, when I started paying attention to this, I started doing yoga, lost weight. People always refer me as thin, but I can say that today am stronger, being able to run after my kids, I do yoga with them and that’s the life I want for them. I can only do it if I demonstrate it.
Let’s talk about health, lifestyle, and wellness, like how do you inculcate the same with your kids.
I have a yoga teacher who comes to teach me. So on Saturdays when kids are at home, they join in learning it too or they watch me doing it. There are times we just cycle around the building a few times. Sometimes my husband joins in too. We have competitions too like 30 secs ones or 40 secs ones. I make it a point to involve my family in whatever I do. I take them to the grocery store, read our ingredients, make them read it for them to know what’s good for them and what’s not. Like we went to our relative’s place and they offered wafers to my kid and he denied. He said it’s junk food and I asked him if he wants an apple he said yes. So it did make me proud. He was talking like an adult. We often underestimate their understanding skills but they totally get it. So instead of just telling them things, it’s important to demonstrate it. I feel that am successful as a mother. I know that if someday am unwell and I can’t cook, my kids will help me out and make sure I am not stressing.
Let’s talk about equal parenting. I don’t see it much happening in India as companies don’t grant that kind of paternity leave too. What was your experience?
I think in the west it’s picking up more. I don’t know about other Indian companies.
“I am lucky to have worked with Standard Chartered bank who took steps to retain me and helped me through my motherhood. They gave me a 6 months maternity leave. Even post that I told them that I am not sure of joining work so they allowed me to work from home. Then when I started going back, I would even take my breast pump. I literally had the liberty to join a meeting late and say that sorry I was nursing”
As a business person, I feel that’s the way of running the business. My husband was in fact not able to spend much time with the kids due to his work life. Like being in the US, it’s a nuclear kind of family set up, so companies don’t have an option but to grant that paternity leave.
It was a pleasure talking to you Shrima and am sure all the super moms reading this blog will be motivated to make their kids self-sufficient. If you have any queries ladies, do write back in the comments.
Keep on rocking…