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My Fundays

I spent my childhood at 41 Pali Hill in Bandra, Mumbai. Though a posh locality now, it was far from so back then. My aunt lived on Marine Drive and I thought of it as ‘Disney Land’. I would just stand on her balcony and watch the cars and Victorias (phaetons) passing by! At 41 Pali Hill the scenario was altogether different.

Above us lived the famous Anand family. Chetan, Dev and Vijay (Goldie) Anand lived there with their sister and their children. They belonged to the film world and my parents were more connected to painting, dance and the theatre. As a kid I thought that the environment was normal enough and I enjoyed it immensely.

My parents were fun-loving people. They were artistes belonging to different communities — my father, Kameshwar Segal, was a Hindu while my mother, Zohra Segal, is Muslim. My brother and I were brought up to respect every religion without prejudice towards any human being.

I went to St Joseph’s Convent, Bandra. It was considered a good school at that time. I was never a naughty child but would get caught for others’ ‘doings’! Since I was good at art, one of my friends wanted me to paint a picture of Marilyn Monroe in her autograph book as a birthday present. I did so and she was delighted. But the nuns were horrified at the ‘vulgar display of leg and cleavage’! The principal, a French nun with piercing blue eyes, gave me a piece of her mind. I shivered in her office while a letter was written to my parents, who, however, thought nothing of it.

As a child I was never interested in dance. It was so much a part of our lives that we never gave it any importance, thinking that it was a part of everyone’s daily routine. My initial dance lessons were with my mother, in the Uday Shankar style of dance, at home as well as at Prithvi Theatre where she was dance director. I toured with Prithvi Theatre and performed all over India as a child artist. I later took up Bharatanatyam, performing in the UK and in Switzerland, among other places. But Odissi became my vocation and I have dedicated myself to it for three decades now.

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