Stories of 7 Young Indians Who Are Leading Double Lives - Homegrown

Stories of 7 Young Indians Who Are Leading Double Lives

“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.”

There are those who find solace between brackets and there are those who prefer to empty their framework of any specifics, choosing instead to exist between parallels, worlds and interests. And somehow, it is their refusal to lay claim to a singular possibility that makes them doubly (no pun intended) good at everything they do. Considering it’s a similar duality that keeps the flame beneath our feet, Homegrown set out on a mission to uncover other young Indian professionals who, in a certain sense of the term, have mastered the art of living ‘double lives.’

The sheer volume of nominations we received tell us that this dual lot may not be as rare a breed as we once imagined, but they’re certainly still just as intriguing. From photographers who also double up as artist managers to marketing professionals who are also fitness bloggers, there’s no reason you can’t do everything you love if you set your mind to it. [For those who missed the previous edition of this series, do read here].

Here’s the seventh volume in the series of stories of an incredible group of individuals who have nothing in common besides deciding that they are more than just one person thriving in a state of dual existence.

I. Tuheena Raj | Passionate. Driven. Expressive.

Banker/Writer

By day, you’ll find 23-year-old Tuheena Raj crunching numbers as a straight-faced corporate, working with Citibank as an assistant manager in the corporate treasury department, but by night, you’ll find her pouring her heart out as the founder and writer of WordsofWorth, a micro-poetry, quote and epigram blog.

A graduate from the prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce, she makes it a point to do some writing every day. You’ll find little notes at the corners of her excel spreadsheets and during coffee breaks, she’d be hunched over a notebook reading, refining and editing her work. Her office notebooks have meeting minutes on the front and mindlessly, carelessly written poems at the back she tells us.

Founded in January 2016, WordsofWorth currently has over 92,200 followers on Instagram, including immense admiration and praise from around the world.

“Duality to me is having the cake and eating it too.”

On balancing both worlds

“I make it a point to show up to my writing desk every day. I treat it like work and not a passing hobby. I write before going to work, prompt notes at the corners of my excel spreadsheets, coffee breaks to read poems or work ideas. My office notebooks have meeting minutes on the front and mindlessly, carelessly written poems at the back. ”

One line that inspires her

“If it does not challenge you, it will not change you”

You can read Tuheena’s WordsofWorth on Instagram and on Facebook.

II. Kshitij Rihal |Stoic. Curious. Rationalist.

Travel photographer/Marketer

Keeping up with marketing and advertising sometimes makes you come full circle. So we can only imagine how much harder it is for those who dedicate their lives, and work in that whole world. True to his word though, Kshitij Rihal went ahead with the idea to do just that, but as the one to call the shots. Rihal interestingly founded his own marketing agency at the tender age of nineteen and ran it for five years until he pulled the plug on it after bagging several award-winning campaigns.

Rihal currently works as a travel photographer and journaling his experiences, while working as a product marketer. You would think he would have had little time to master the arts, naturally affecting the outcome’s quality — that of image making, but after looking at his work, he’d happily accept you were wrong.

Kshitij Rihal
Kshitij Rihal

Duality is the ability to live outside the boundaries of conventional labels and not limiting your identity to what you do for a living.”

On balancing both worlds

“In my ideal life, I’d be a nomad who travels to obscure corners of the world and takes pictures everyday. However, I make do with taking a few international trips every year and using my weekends to find hidden spots which are easy to reach from Bombay. I also wander around the city at night with my camera sometimes, in my series of Bombay Noir.”

One line that inspires him

“As long as you live, keep learning how to live – Seneca.”

You can follow Kshitij and his visual escapades on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

III. Mankiran Dhillon | Experimental. Initiator. Honest.

Fashion Designer/Consultant

“Marketing, communication, social media, styling, co-coordinating events, curating spaces and assisting in curating art & literature talks. I have done it all,” muses 27-year-old Mankiran Dhillon. Being a Punjabi, she grew up surrounded by all things Punjab, and Phulkari being at the center of all things festive. She was always in love with the colours, feel and touch of the raw silk floss threads, while the khaddar cotton fabric, added volumes of strength to the work, she shares with us.

With no prior design experience as such, but a whole lot of confidence and zeal, she took a leap of faith and set up her own homegrown label, Mayray. A brand, she says, created with the simple notion to revisit and reinvent Phulkari and making it functional for daily wear. While she does all of this, she is also working full-time as a consultant for Strategic Alliances and Partnerships at Pearl Academy.

Mankiran Dhillon
Mankiran Dhillon

Duality is... not settling. (Fighting for the dream)”

On balancing both worlds

With “A whole lot of zoom calls, facetime and whatsapp calls, spending day-in and out on alliances, updating my website with fresh content, accounting invoices while also working on creating new collection designs samples” there is not much room for an imbalance left anyway.

One line that inspires her

“’It began as a mistake’ – A neon lit up quote of Charles Bukowski on social media. It always lets me know, it’s OKAY to make mistake, sometimes, they lead you to bigger things.”

You can check out Mayray on Instagram, Facebook as well as its official website.

IV. Vasini Varadan | Tenacious. Adroit. Learner.

Economist-turned-Sari designer/Cartoonist

32-year-old Vasini Varadan studied Economic and loved every bit of it. She worked in the field of health and behaviour, and for her, it was every bit challenging as it was amazing. But, she still found herself drawn to the Arts, and there came a point when she felt she just couldn’t resist it anymore. She spent a lot of time with her father, at his weaving unit in Kanchipuram. He’s a designer, loom architect and a handloom evangelist. He’s dedicated his life to bettering the art of weaving in Kanchi, she says. She tells us that a few years ago she was severely depressed, and she’d watch the weavers weave, “bringing every thread of silk together with the beat of the shuttle to create this beautiful work of art - that’s what life is about, isn’t it? We weave every second together, with our heartbeat to create something beautiful. Watching them - began to heal me.”

Vasini decided to work on herself and started cartooning and making comics. She recently launched a page called ‘Undefined comics’ on Instagram as well. At the same time, she fell in love with the art of designing saris, launching a brand of traditional and contemporary kanjivarams (dedicated to this beautiful art form of weaving in Kanchi) called The Silk Line. “The idea was to introduce a brand of saris, (like a Gucci/Prada/Mango) woven by the weavers of Kanchi, in Kanchi,” she tells Homegrown. “The Silk Line - is technically my day job and most people know me for that. During the day, I design, manage the weaving unit, handle social media/marketing, accounts etc. I am pretty much an entrepreneur with day to day pressures!”

Vasini Varadan
Vasini Varadan

“For me, duality is two sides of the same coin. It’s not a night and day or black and white situation. It exists in me simultaneously. At any given point of time the cartoonist and the designer coexist - living with each other peacefully.”

On balancing both worlds

“There is time to spare for creating illustrations like during breakfast, or before a meeting, or even waking up ridiculously early, or sleep really late, on the plane, in an uber. It’s hard to separate both sometimes as my day and night job coexist!”

One line that inspires her

“Ask not of things to shed their veils. Unveil yourselves, and things will be unveiled.” ― Mikhail Naimy

You can follow Vasini and her work on Instagram and view The Silk Line creations here.

V. Isha Hans | Galvanized. Free. Innovative.

Architect/Artist/Teacher

Isha is an architect, and a visiting faculty at various design schools across Bombay. She currently works as independent architect and interior designer. At home, there was a whole division in family members who supported different aspects of her artistic processes, fostering the perfect environment. While her mom stocked her crafting supplies whenever they ran out, her father meticulously documented her files. Her grandfather proved an ardent fan, admiring her work. Such an honest and familial stream of validation kept her going, since she picked the brushes up at nine.

The architect side of her works within a very technical, time bound and meticulous framework, but she also finds time in her 8-hour work day to indulge her inner artist, even it’s just for 10 minutes. “Making art is liberating, there’s no right or wrong, and no boundaries. It flows very instinctively for me and I find absolute joy in enjoying the journey of making a piece. It’s probably just as spontaneous and unfiltered as I am!” she muses.

Isha Hans
Isha Hans

Duality is liberating, and gives wonderful opportunities to learn from and work with myriad sets of people.”

On balancing both worlds

“The itch to do multiple things and not confine to a conventional identity keeps me motivated to work as an architect, a teacher for design students and an artist. Often I prioritize one from amongst these three roles, and there’s always an excitement to get back to the other two. My parents and my husband help, support me and encourage me without whom I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it all.”

One line that inspires her

“The obstacle is the way” - Ryan Holiday

You can follow Isha on Instagram and also view her architecture portfolio.

VI. Shivani Vakil Savant | Explorer. Optimist. Romantic.

Drama Teacher/Baker

In her professional arena, Shivani Savant is a stage manager, production manager, light and sound operator, a producer, and an actor herself. While there were plenty of occasions to knowingly become a teacher, Shivani had just the set when she got the opportunity to teach theatre and work it out with underprivileged kids.

Her side quests have circled around baking. Since the age of 12, she has baked cakes even on her own birthdays. Having the cake and eating it too, ain’t that right Shivani? At The Odd Hour Kitchen, Shivani architects homemade bite-sized desserts, brookies (brownie-cookie hybrid which is her signature), cakes, and other comfort food items. With friends from the theatre circle who also happened to share her enthusiasm in cooking and baking, Shivani and brigade literally pop-up at events with their cakes and other bake-ables as the Moonlight Café.

Shivani Vakil Savant
Shivani Vakil Savant

“I am a Gemini... I think that says it all! Duality is my middle name, and I’m lucky to live both my passions!”

On balancing both worlds

“I hate saying ‘NO’ to anything, so I try to plan my days, making sure there’s time to teach and bake. Being a freelancer and a nocturnal being helps!”

One line that inspires her

“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley.

You can follow Shivani on Instagram or view her baking portfolio.

VII. Harsh Bhatia | Passionate. Bold. Doer.

Dancer/Freelance Marketer-Entreprenuer

A typical day for 22-year-old Harsh Bhatia would comprise of heading his website, leading his core team, then pirouetting onto the stage and under the spotlight. Coming from a typical Punjabi family where he was supposed to join his father’s business, dancing made him realise that he had this individuality that’ll shine through, all he had to do was take the risk.

Working with coworking.co helped Harsh pick up the protocols and connections of a co-working space. Harsh previously sold books online and, but when the undertone of uncertainty of e-market hit, and a stack of book were left unsold, it quickly prompted Harsh to start his entrepreneurial journey.

With the aim to build to bring the “fandom into the real world, and to your door, in unexpected ways”, Craxy Store was the accidental brainchild that Harsh birthed and started to litmus check his marketing skills while on-the-job. The store’s aim is to create a community of fans and enthusiasts of comics, movies, music and more while also being an E-commerce platform of merchandise.

"Duality is hustling to do all the things that you really are passionate about at all times."

On balancing both worlds

“I have a strict schedule, a tasks list and a list of weekly, monthly and yearly goals. And the most important is my vision board which I created using old magazines. It defines how I see myself 10 years down the line.”

One line that inspires him

“‘You did not wake up to be mediocre’– this is my phone’s wallpaper.”

You can follow Harsh’s Instagram or head to the Craxy Store.

If you’d like to share your experience and journey of living and balancing a double life write in to us at [email protected] with the subject line ‘DUALITY’.

[Update: The article previously cited a William Ernest Henley quote to Rudyard Kipling. The article has been rectified to reflect the same.]

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