My cow is pregnant,” says Tinu Verghis nonchalantly. Coming from anyone, this statement seems a bit strange, but consider the fact that Verghis is a model and the setting is Lakme Fashion Week.
Like a growing tribe of her colleagues, Verghis has a full-time job aside from walking the ramp. She runs an organic farm in Goa.
“I bought the house in 2006 and started growing rice three years ago. The cow, ducks and rabbits came later,” she says.
Admitting that nothing in her life is planned, not even the turn towards farming, the model says, “I am not interested in modelling till I turn senile. If it makes sense at some point to farm extensively, I will. Right now, I’m enjoying the fruits of my labour.” Verghis’s contemporary, model Niketan Madhok, says he dabbled in finance and consulting alongside fashion shows because despite inflation everywhere, models don’t get paid any better than they used to years ago.
“Modelling is not a long-lasting career, and while expenses are increasing, modelling hasn’t seen that growth. I’ve studied finance, engineering, marketing and IT and wanted to start ventures where my skill set and education would be useful, and which would be stable at the same time,” he says.
Madhok admits he won’t mind sacrificing his career completely, if the job demands it, adding, “There’s no future in modelling for me.”
For some, the catwalk called while they were already engaged in other fields, as was the case with model Manu Bora. The orthopaedic surgeon, discovered by agency Anima Creatives, has walked ramps in Paris and Athens, but doesn’t plan to quit the operating theatre: “My medical colleagues were shocked to learn that I was a model, since both jobs are very demanding. but I’ve done well.”
Blond-haired, grey-eyed Siddarth Rawal too raises eyebrows everywhere; especially among the distributors he works with in his garment manufacturing and export business.
“I’m lucky it’s family-run, so I can take the day off if I have a show,” he says, adding, “But it’s weird to sit at a desk, especially if I’ve spent the last few days at Fashion Week. The drastic change of atmosphere makes you feel trapped, but now I’ve mentally prepared myself for it.”