Welcome to Meet Some Queens - this is a series where I will be spotlighting Queens who are forces to reckon with, awe-inspiring, brilliant and full of magic . Queens who, through their lives and their accomplishments, deserve to be in the spotlight. Queens who can teach us a thing or two about being fabulous and fulfilled. Queens who are breaking barriers and re-defining the very concept of being a Queen.
To begin this series, the very first Queen who we will shine our spotlight on is the OG Queen, my mom - Mateen Ansari.
I am my mother's daughter.
Kaftaan Queens would have remained a figment of my imagination had it not been for my mother. She is an inspiration, a force to reckon with. She has an energy field around her which can recharge even the lowest of batteries. And frankly, two years ago, I was running on low and she worked her magic. According to her, ''In order for the mind to work, you have to care for the soul."
When I was down and out, she got me into gardening, yoga , mindfulness, healthy eating, healthy living. She led by example. She practices everything she preaches.
Since I was born I have known my mother to be an entrepreneur. A serial entrepreneur in fact. She is always ahead of the curve- always has her finger on the pulse and has always been passionate about her projects.
I have memories of accompanying her to markets where she would sell the most beautiful, exotic plants that she grew and cultivated in her own nursery (and she cared for these plants like they were a part of our family! She still does it, its quite cute). That was Project One that I am aware of, there may have been others before I was born, but for the sake of this article, lets focus on life after Sameen's Birth.
I have fond memories of spending late nights in her Internet Café, playing Prince of Persia while listening to Michael Jackson on one of the many computers, in the cozy comfort of an air conditioned room ( back in the day, computers needed air-conditioning for some reason). She was the first to bring the internet to Hyderabad. She saw the potential in it and she acted on her instincts. And now, as a Small Business Owner myself, I am so deeply aware of the power of this internal guide - our INSTINCT.
Mateen never really tried to go with the flow, she never wanted to do what everyone else was doing. That, to me, takes so much bravery. Back in the day, I cannot imagine that it was easy to march to your drum like my mom did. She wore her hair short, she was often seen zooming around town on a scooter wearing jeans (scandalous!) and just in general being different. Now, so many women are thankful that she did all these things back then so that over time they became normalized.
There were times when my mom was employed, there were times when she wasn't - but her profession or her career was not what defined her worth and value. She instead chose to be true to herself, focus on the here and now, play multiple roles in her life and make choices based on what was meaningful to her.
This brings me to her latest adventure... DOBARA. This one was brewing in her beautiful mind for ages. I remember a conversation with her when I was 16, in Calcutta, and she outlined the idea for me, told me how she wanted to create something that would focus on senior citizens in India, how she felt like they were a segment of the population that was being ignored and needed attention, and I thought it was an awesome idea but also extremely ambitious. We came up with the name for this dream of hers that day, over 20 years ago and during this time, she went back to school, got a Masters in Gerontology and now I can proudly say, that since the past 8 years, DOBARA is a flourishing non-profit organization doing some amazing work and ''re-defining the experience of ageing'' in India! Mateen, at the helm, captain of the ship, successfully representing this new generation of healthy, active, vibrant and thriving Senior Citizens, changing the way we view the process of ageing - yet again, paving the way for future generations.
Ofcourse, supporting her in being her fantastic, free-spirited self, Mateen has a wonderful partner, my dad. The best dad in the whole world. He is gentle, kind, patient and loving. A real King.
Mateen thrives on being busy. She thrives on helping others. She is a friend like no other, a caring wife and a phenomenal mother. She is also my biggest champion, she instilled in me a love for all things creative and artistic, she taught me so many essential life skills (including how to use a sewing machine), she showed me how to think outside the box and most importantly, she encouraged me to be true to myself and those are gifts that I am forever grateful for.
I feel blessed that I have Mateen Ansari as my guide, mentor, mother and muse - she and my father have always been the softest place to land.
Also, she is the cutest Kaftaans Queens model ! At 71, with her short pixie grey hair, her disarming smile, her big heart and her beautiful mind - Mateen Ansari is a true Icon.
A Queen !