Eons back when I was still a young adult with rose-tinted glasses and brimming with unbridled optimism, a friend and I were bantering aimlessly on things we wanted to do in life. Somehow we began talking about fame and the question of which magazine we would like to be featured on popped up. Unhesitantly, she said, People. Now I wasn’t exactly fond of the magazine and chauvinitically speaking, she probably wouldn’t have made it anyways. But when asked for my choice, I promptly said, Time.
Back then, the pinnacle of fame was to be featured on the cover of Time magazine and as I found out recently, 13.5% of people [top choice] also echoed my sentiments. The percentage might seem low but then if you know the number of magazines currently sold in the US, you might get a real perspective. The second magazine coincidentally was People. The choice of magazines was amazingly wide ranging from Good Housekeeping to Playboy.
Recently, another Time cover caused a buzz; at least in the Indian blogosphere. The Time special on India featured a beautiful woman attired in a classical dance outfit wearing a headset [most commonly seen in call centers]. Many were incensed to see such blatant stereotyping of Indian culture and depiction of India as an exotic location. Frankly, I found nothing wrong with the cover. The woman is strikingly beautiful and the Indian classical dance outfit is always a treat to the eyes – colorful and vibrant; something that people in the US don’t often see. If India can be sold as an exotic location while doing your taxes, solving computer problems and getting a heart bypass, there is nothing wrong in it. Heck, we should milk it for all its worth. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it just wasn’t a pretty face on the cover. There was a story behind the woman on the cover:
Gunjan Thiagarajah, 29, a sales and marketing employee at a biotech firm in Los Angeles, who graces this week’s cover about India Inc was a student in business school at UCLA last year when a friend invited her to a photo shoot with a stock photographer. She thought it would be a fun experience and a quick way to make $100.
The photographer was looking for someone to bridge Indian tradition and technology. So Thiagarajah, who is trained in classical Indian dance, came dressed wearing a classical dance outfit and jewelry. She was photographed with a number of modern gadgets: headsets, cell phones, PDAs. It was her first time modeling and she enjoyed striking poses under the lights, although she was doubtful that the photographs would ever be used.
Which might be why she forgot about the entire session until last Sunday when friends began calling to congratulate her and her husband, Ramanan Thiagarajah.
Certainly interesting and I love the way the cover just happened to her. Well, it also turns out that she isn’t just a pretty face but in fact in today’s globalized world, she is an Indian that may soon represent the evolving form of nationality; “she’s Indian but grew up in Nigeria and is married to a Sri Lankan, with whom she lives in California.” I hope she enjoys her fifteen minutes of fame while it lasts.