Lady Univesre- 2013

Raisa Niraj-Ved Zakirova (INDIA)

(International beauty contest for  business ladies)

Raisa Niraj Ved-Zakirova comes from Irkutsk and lives in Mumbai with her Indian husband and cute young daughter.  Her mother and elder son, who is a student, live in Irkutsk. She is fond of both sunny Mumbai and snowy Irkutsk. In December she took part in ‚Lady Russia‘ beauty contest and won the first title in the international nomination ‚Lady Universe’, followed by an invitation to a contest in Chicago. She is still thinking over if she needs it or has already proved to others and herself that she always reaches her goals.

Good taste: So, you live in Mumbai. It’s former Bombay, the most populated city of India and the Bollywood capital. You look like an Indian actress, by the way.

Raisa: I even know which one. Karishma Kapoor, grand-daughter of the famous Raj Kapoor, “Indian Chaplin”. There is a big actor clan of the Kapoors. Raj founded his own film industry, one of the biggest in Bollywood.

GT: I won’t be surprised if you say you did some acting too.

R: Only in advertisements, together with my daughter. In one of them I sing in Hindi.

GT: How do you find living in India?

R: I always liked this country from the films. I like warm climate and I feel good and comfortable here. And I have done big progress in my personal development since my daughter was born.

GT: What do you do in Mumbai?

R: My family is what matters most to me. I take care of my daughter, support my husband – he is in the real estate business. There is Russian center for culture and science in Mumbai with 187 russian speaking members. I am a member of the Russian association in West India. We help people in trouble. In my free time I do embroidery and draw. On the last Independence Day of India I had my personal exhibition, visited by many people and even the consul himself. It was a huge success and my husband was surprised because he did not take my hobby seriously.

GT: Where did you learn embroidery?

R: Myself. I was pregnant and wanted to do something. But everything went wrong and I left the work unfinished. Then I received a stitch kit as a prize in a cooking contest and I did it within a day, remembered about the one I had left unfinished three years before and finished it that same night. It has been my favorite hobby ever since.

GT: Would you like to have some tea with a honey cake? Do you stile like Russian food?

R: I can’t say no to the cake! I miss Russian food a lot. Indian fare is very hot and spicy. I can eat it three months long, come to visit my mom in Irkutsk and enjoy our Russian food. Then I start missing India and its way of life. But when I fly back to India I take a lot of typical Russian delicacies with me: lard with garlic, smoked sausage..

GT: Do you have to observe traditions, living in India? For example wear a saree?

R: I have three of them, some really expensive and some simple ones. I wear them on occasions. But I am Russian and will stay it forever. I wear short dresses, high heels. And I always wear a makeup, have my nails done..

GT: However there are some rules that have to be followed?

R:  A woman in India has to have domestic staff. Staff of well-off people speak English. A driver is a must as well. I have one too.

GT: What do you find amazing about India?

R: The fact that people from lower social classes do not feel poor. It is their life and they are happy with it. It is a life philosophy: not to think about yesterday or tomorrow, live in the present.

GT: You don’t agree with this?

Raisa: My husband says I take life too seriously. I say to him, it is because I am a mother, I have kids and have to think about their future.

GT: Your 20-year old son lives in Irkutsk. Was it his choice or yours?

R: My son finished the consulate school in India and we had an opportunity to send him to a college in England. But he opted to go to Irkutsk. Now he is in his third year in the same faculty where I used to study. And he would like to stay in Russia.

GT: And what about your daughter’s future?

R: Her farther will decide about that. Most marriages in India are still arranged by parents long before the wedding. Moreover most grooms and brides have their word in the decision process. An astrologist sets date and time of the ceremony.

GT: How did you meet your husband?

R: On a plane to India. It was my birthday and the night before my phone had kept ringing, my friends and family had been congratulating me. So I thought, I would sleep during the flight. But the man next to me was very talkative, he told everything about himself. At some point he took my phone: “What type is it?” The phone was nothing special. But he managed to dial his number from it. That night I got a message: “I love you”. First I thought I was a mistake. But then he invited me for dinner. He was very persistent. First I was suspicious but married him eventually. By the way my first husband is Indian too. We studied together at the Irkutsk University in the faculty of world economy.

GT: Last year you participated in Missis Irkutsk beauty contest. Was your husband happy about it?

R: He was totally against it! But I managed to convince him within two weeks.

GT: Was it that important to you?

R: It was my childhood’s dream to participate in some beauty contest. I am only 155 cm tall.

GT: But it did not matter at the Lady Russia beauty contest where you received the Lady Universe title?

R: Looks did matter along with personal achievements like motherhood, professional and social activities. As I won that day, I called my son in Irkutsk and told him the news, though it was in the middle of the night. He was very reserved and just said: “Congratulations”. As I found out eventually he had woken everybody up.

GT: Raisa, this desire to achieve something, to prove that you can do it, does it come from childhood as well?

R: I think so. I was a very proactive girl, participated in everything and wanted to be the best.

GT: You must have had a lot of admirers?

R: No, not really. But as it turned out eventually, many boys had liked me but were afraid to approach me.

GT: What are your plans for the nearest future?

R: I would like to try out film acting. I already have five offers from Bollywood film companies.

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