To learn something new everyday is a gift. You realise this only if your mind is open to the world and to life. It could be as simple as learning a new word and its meaning; something that enriches your life in even a small way, for every little bit of learning helps you become just that wee bit wiser.
You might like to think you're smart and wise – but the truth is, it is only with the little experiences in life that you realise that life is a gift; it has something new to offer every single day. Suddenly, you could discover a new flower, tree or painting; you try to understand what it is – all this adds to one's mental and physical enrichment because the physical is beholding something beautiful and your mind is trying to assimilate what it means.
There are some who remain totally unaffected by what they see or hear. You have to open not just your eyes but your mind, too, for that is what will help widen your perspective, making you a better person. Looking at life as an inexhaustible source of discovery has not only helped me relate to other human beings; it has made me more sensitive to all other forms of life and, indeed, to life itself. Those who never change their mind think they know it all. Unfortunately, the world is full of people who are blase.
I am writing this from Udaipur; i'm in Rajasthan after 25 years. (I set up home in Paris in 1971 and have lived there since.) Earlier, my mind was not open enough to receive the beauty, to get the full import of our heritage. Once i retired from fulltime work, the first thing i decided to do was to see Rajasthan again.
As a house model for Pierre Cardin, way back in the 1970s, and later, as the business representative of the House of Cardin, i learnt that discipline and punctuality, and respect for people were crucial to advancement, both in terms of career and self-development. I began to realise i had, not only the body, i had brains as well. You get that special aura by being in tune with both body and mind. As i evolved, i realised that twinning of mind and body was not only a spiritually elevating experience; it was turning out to be beneficial for everyday living as well.
I'm a Catholic, but i have a Ganesha idol sitting in my little crypt. Along with Christian thought, i have also absorbed a lot of Hindu thought and culture. I feel happy about this eclectic mix, that i can retain my roots while being open to other systems of knowledge and belief. I feel fulfilled. One side of me would criticise the other side; I found i had a built-in system of checks and balances. I've been through great pain and sorrow in my personal life — I've touched rock bottom. Yet, like a phoenix, i rose from the cold ashes instead of turning cantankerous and bitter. And for this, i give thanks to the exposure and experiences I've had both in India and France — in the course of my career and travels, meeting people, exchanging ideas — that have helped me to absorb and learn, to share and spread happiness, transcending geography, culture and relationships.
India's first international fashion model, Anjali Mendes, 64, passed away on June 17 at Provence, France. This article was first published in TOI's ‘Citizen to Cosmozen' column on January 31, 2005.
Courtesy TOI / 21.06.2010