Sheís a name thatís synonymous with slimming and weight loss programmes. But Vandana Luthra, the woman who is spreading the gospel of slenderness around India, insists that it was the man behind her ' husband Mukesh Luthra ' who was the driving force and who insisted that she should use her qualifications in beauty and nutrition.
Mukesh Luthra is a graduate in Economics (Hons) from Hans Raj college and had a garment export business. In 1996, he read the writing on the wall and figured that his wifeís business had great growth potential. So, he sold his business and joined Vandana full-time. He has been a supportive husband, a friend and companion who backed his wife in pursuing her passion ' making people look their best. They have been married for 25 years and insist that itís a life-long romance thatís getting stronger with the passing of the years.
I was sweet 16 when I first met Mukesh at a Christmas party at a friendís place in Gole Market. He was 18 at the time. I quite liked him but it took a couple of years before we started going around and made a commitment to each other. He was a very bright student and I found him very intelligent like my father, which attracted me to him all the more. Also, what I admired about him was that he was financially independent and was an achiever from a young age. Mukesh was already working when he was out of college. Both of us came from different family backgrounds. Mine was a family where education and career was given more importance than anything else while his was a conservative business family. I was a pampered child and was very close to my parents. In fact, they were like friends and when my dad asked me if I was seeing Mukesh, I couldnít lie. He was a bit apprehensive about the relationship but left the decision to me.
Mukesh meant the world to me and has always been there for me like a father, lover and best friend. We work together now and he is the managing director of VLCC while Iím the CEO. He was the one who encouraged me to work, though his parents didnít like the idea much. But gradually even they supported me.
Husbands and wives are bound to have disagreements and we are no exception. But our disagreements last only for a minute or two. After so many years of togetherness we feel closer than ever before. We recently celebrated our silver jubilee and it feels great to be with someone you love for so long.
Mukesh gives me lots of surprises all the time. This time on our 25th anniversary, he gave me a lovely bouquet of roses and asked me to guess the number of roses. Well, there were 32 roses ' 25 for the years weíve been married and seven extra for the years weíd known each other before marriage. That was so wonderful and thoughtful of him. Even today he pampers me like a doll and in the night he sees to it that Iím sleeping comfortably, well covered with the blanket. Mukesh still takes care of me in every sense possible. All I can say is that he loves me much more than I love him. I couldnít have been blessed with a better companion and lover.
I met Vandana and her brother at a Christmas party and I later became good friends with her brother. So, I used to visit their house very often and at times stayed back to study with him. She was a sweet little girl who used to serve us tea in the night when we used to study for exams. At the time, she was in the 10th standard and I was in the first year of college.
I was a bit hesitant to express my feelings since she was my friendís sister. There was another friend though, who encouraged me. Vandana too reciprocated and slowly became a part of our group. It was her beauty and innocence that captivated me.
I graduated in 1978 and two years later, we got married. I knew she was very fond of dogs. So, when her dog gave birth to puppies I asked if I could take some home with me. She was quite impressed, but the truth is that I never took the puppies home and left them on the street. One day she discovered these creatures on the street and gave me a good scolding. But everything is fair in love and war they say.
My parents were initially opposed to our relationship because of the difference in our family backgrounds but my father asked me if Iíd made a commitment to her. I said I had. He said in that case I shouldnít back out. I was a little apprehensive initially thinking about how she would adjust as my family was orthodox while she came from an open-minded family. She was pampered in her house, but at my place there were rules to be followed.
For instance you were expected to have a bath early in the morning before entering the kitchen and women were not expected to work. Once we were married, she did everything that was expected of a daughter-in-law in my house. She cooked food in the small kitchen we had and was a dutiful wife, mother and daughter-in-law. She won over everybodyís heart in my family including my fatherís.
Vandana was like a baby in the house and was treated not like a daughter-in-law but a daughter. I knew she was well qualified to venture into the professional world of beauty and nutrition. It took some effort to convince my parents but eventually they agreed and were happy when she did well in her field.
We are good friends but also have very interesting fights especially when discussing VLCC-related issues. Iím her 24-hour employee, at home and also at work. What I like about her is that she has a special way of doing things. One thing that annoys me is that she gets very hyper at times. Even if itís 11 in the night, she wants that task to be done then and there.
Though Vandana loves giving me surprises, at times, they can be mixed with shock. For instance, she got me a very expensive platinum phone, which cost around Rs 5 lakh. Iím a simple man and can do without expensive gadgets. For the first seven months, I didnít have the heart to use it but I know she always wants the best for me. Sometimes I bully her and threaten to take away the surname ĎLuthraí from her. I tell her no one will know who Vandana is without the surname. But jokes apart. Why she is so successful is because she is not only an entrepreneur but also a very good human being and moreover a peopleís person. She mixes well with her employees and the people around her. It has been a beautiful journey with her and Iím glad to have found a friend and soulmate in Vandana.