He’s the richest man in India, she’s one of the country’s best known philanthropists as well as the face of the Mumbai Indians IPL team. Together, Nita and Mukesh Ambani form a powerful couple. But what’s paramount to their everyday life is keeping their children grounded and leading a near normal existence, as the couple reveals in the latest issue of Verve magazine.
“Mukesh and I insist on simple things to keep them (their children — twins Akash and Isha, and Anant) grounded, like we never send the planes to fetch them, they have to travel by Air India and they love it. Isha is staying in a dorm, sleeping on the top bunk; she shares the bathrooms with 18 to 20 other girls. Akash also stays in a dorm; these are important things that all children have to go through. They want to do it. In fact, they tell me now that I should travel by Air India too,” shares Nita.
“I learnt from my father that when he was the busiest, he had all the time for all four of us. I think that you have to get your priorities right in life,” admits Mukesh.
As a father, Nita says Mukesh has a hands-on approach. “I don’t have dinner without Mukesh, ever. I wait up for him and the kids start trouping in and then talk to him however late it is. He wants them around when he comes home. When the kids were little, he used to insist on doing math, chemistry and physics with them. He would be like a tuition teacher. It is only now that Isha is at Yale and Akash, at Brown, that the house seems a little empty,” she says.
Mukesh, on his part, says, “They (their children) need not be in the top one percentile, but the fundamentals have to be strong. Akash, my eldest, said ‘Dad, there is a calculator, why should I know my tables?’ I explained that you must be able to do everything in your head. So, before going to sleep, he would say all his tables by heart — addition tables, multiplication tables and all of that.”
Nita, further adds that she’s still ‘middle-class’ in her thinking: “I am still very down to earth and ‘middle class’ in my thinking and values. For me and Mukesh it is important to be normal.”