’TIS THE SEA­SON TO BLUSH ADEEP RED!

TWO OUT OF THE THREE FACES BE­HIND ONE OF IN­DIA’S MOST RE­SPECTED DE­SIGN LA­BELS, DAVID ABRA­HAM & KEVIN NIGLI ON LIV­ING AND LOV­ING TO­GETHER

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - News - Text by Veenu Singh Pho­tos shot ex­clu­sively for HTBrunch by Shivamm Paathak

[ A CHRIST­MAS EX­CLU­SIVE! ] #Sea­son­To­Blush

The dec­o­rated din­ing area over­look­ing a court­yard cen­tred around a huge tree sets the mood per­fectly for Christ­mas lunch. The din­ing ta­ble groans be­neath the weight of roast chicken, leg of ham, rack of lamb, plum pud­ding, mush­room quiche, bread bas­kets, a colour­ful green salad, and mulled wine, all cour­tesy Tarani Ka­pur of TLC Kitchen Ca­ter­ing. And the hosts, David Abra­ham and Kevin Nigli, two of the part­ners be­hind the fash­ion la­bel Abra­ham & Thakore (Rakesh Thakore is the third and found­ing part­ner) who are part­ners in life as well, are pos­i­tively re­splen­dent in their Christ­mas best. They have never worn any­thing so bright be­fore, they joke, as they shush their three dogs, Mocha, Satchmo and In­die.

“You must for­give In­die for jump­ing around,” says Kevin, hug­ging the lit­tle dog on his lap. “She’s just four months old, the youngest of the three, and joined the fam­ily very re­cently.”

“All the dogs are harm­less,” says David, giv­ing Mocha a stern look when the dog seems too in­ter­ested in the food on the ta­ble. “They are obe­di­ent and love hav­ing peo­ple around them. Kevin and I love to en­ter­tain, and of­ten have guests stay­ing with us.” FOR­EVER FAM­ILY We are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Kevin and David’s host­ing prow­ess at this Christ­mas lunch a day be­fore Burra Din it­self. The cou­ple has been to­gether for more than 20 years, hav­ing first worked as pro­fes­sional part­ners be­fore tak­ing their re­la­tion­ship to a more per­sonal level.

Kevin, a com­merce grad­u­ate from Kolkata, was study­ing at NIFT, Delhi, and soon joined hands with Rakesh and the Sin­ga­pore-born, Bengaluru-raised David who’d been friends since their time at NID. It was 1992 and the la­bel Abra­ham & Thakore had just been in­cor­po­rated. Be­cause Kevin joined af­ter the in­cor­po­ra­tion, he never got his name on the la­bel, but that does not bother him. By 2000, af­ter years of traips­ing off to Europe to­gether to per­suade buy­ers to

“CRE­ATIVE IN­DUS­TRIES LIKE FASH­ION ARE MUCH MORE RE­LAxED AND SEN­SI­TIVE OF GEN­DER IS­SUES THAN OTH­ERS” –DAVID ABRA­HAM

“I AM PAR­TIC­U­LAR ABOUT WHAT’S COOK­ING FOR DIN­NER, WHEREAS DAVID IS HAPPY EAT­ING WHAT­EVER IS SERVED. I MI­CRO­MAN­AGE, DAVID IS OK WITH THE STAFF HAN­DLING IT ALL” —KEVIN NIGLI

take on the A&T la­bel, David and Kevin re­alised they were as good to­gether per­son­ally as pro­fes­sion­ally, and de­cided to live to­gether as a cou­ple.

“Also, it saved on con­veyance bills,” quips David, be­fore ex­plain­ing, “This move from a pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship to a more per­sonal one seemed like a very nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for us. When you are build­ing or cre­at­ing some­thing to­gether, or are pas­sion­ate about the same things, it tends to bind you to­gether.”

The fact that the two de­cided to live to­gether at a time when the now-de­funct Sec­tion 377 of the In­dian Pe­nal Code was in full force shows how strongly David and Kevin feel about each other.

“We are re­ally priv­i­leged as far as ac­cep­tance by fam­ily and friends are con­cerned, and also for the in­dus­try that we work in,” says David. “Cre­ative in­dus­tries like fash­ion are gen­er­ally much more re­laxed and more sen­si­tive of gen­der is­sues than most oth­ers. The way we were ed­u­cated, the kind of col­leges we went to, and the in­dus­try we worked in, this kind of a phi­los­o­phy was al­ready in­cul­cated in us. Ev­ery­one from Rakesh to all our friends in the in­dus­try was very sup­port­ive.”

They were equally lucky with their fam­i­lies. “Both our fam­i­lies were com­fort­able with our de­ci­sion,” says David. “There was hardly any

“DE­SPITE HAV­ING AN 11-YEAR AGE GAP, WE ARE IN THIS TO­GETHER. ALL RE­LA­TION­SHIPS ARE A PROCESS OF AD­JUST­MENTS, AR­GU­MENTS AND DIS­CUS­SIONS!” —DAVID ABRA­HAM

con­ver­sa­tion about it. And soon af­ter we moved in to­gether, we had both sides of the fam­ily over for a holiday. Some­times it is easy to just let things be.”

TALK ABOUT IT

While their fam­i­lies ac­cept Kevin and David’s re­la­tion­ship with­out dis­cus­sion, the two part­ners them­selves learned a long time ago that good com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the only way to grow and sus­tain a re­la­tion­ship.

“David and I had sev­eral dis­cus­sions about our lives to­gether,” says Kevin. “It was stuff like where to keep the fur­ni­ture, whether to keep proper staff to look af­ter the house and the guests, and whether to move from Delhi to Noida, where our fac­tory is lo­cated, to avoid long hours of com­mute.”

They are also clear about their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to their house­hold and each other. “De­spite the fact that we have an 11-year age dif­fer­ence – and we are not telling you how old we are – we are clear that we are both in this to­gether, so there are no ex­pec­ta­tions from each other,” says David. “We share re­spon­si­bil­ity, we have a great staff to take care of the house and guests even when we are not there, and the dogs are our equal re­spon­si­bil­ity. All re­la­tion­ships are a process of ad­just­ments, ar­gu­ments and dis­cus­sions. You have to learn to ne­go­ti­ate and at the same time give the other his space. This is very im­por­tant, whether it’s a joint fam­ily setup, mar­riage or even a work re­la­tion­ship.”

The cou­ple shares sev­eral pas­sions, but do not nec­es­sar­ily agree on ev­ery­thing. “Our love for mu­sic and cin­ema is equal, though Kevin is a big­ger cin­ema buff,” says David. “He is a mem­ber of sev­eral film clubs. Both of us also en­joy trav­el­ling, both for work and pleasure. We re­cently went to Ajanta and El­lora, Bodh Gaya, Iran, Jodh­pur and Bi­har.”

But if their ar­eas of in­ter­est are sim­i­lar, their choices can be dif­fer­ent, says Kevin. “I love to ex­plore newer places, but David prefers visit­ing places we’ve seen ear­lier. David loves NY, but I’m in­dif­fer­ent to it. Also, I am par­tic­u­lar about things, about what’s cook­ing for din­ner, whereas David is happy eat­ing what­ever is served. I like to mi­cro­man­age things, David is okay with the staff han­dling all that. I love to check out new shops when we are trav­el­ling, but David hates that. He loves go­ing to malls, I don’t. I

“KEEP IN MIND THAT [IN A RE­LA­TION­SHIP], HAV­ING YOUR OWN TV, YOUR OWN SET OF FRIENDS AND ALSO YOUR OWN BATH­ROOM CAN DO THE TRICK!” —DAVID ABRA­HAM

like to col­lect ob­jects, but David is now over the phase of col­lect­ing things and has threat­ened me with dire con­se­quences if I bring any more things into the house!”

ONE UNIT, TWO STYLES

Even their work styles can be dis­sim­i­lar. David, cre­ative di­rec­tor of the A&T la­bel, is par­tic­u­lar about leav­ing the of­fice by 6pm ev­ery day and not work­ing on week­ends. On the other hand Kevin, di­rec­tor sales, of­ten works late and goes to the of­fice on Satur­days.

But the two of them make it work. That doesn’t mean, how- ever, that they ex­pect the same thing for other same sex cou­ples in In­dia even though the Supreme Court with­drew Sec­tion 377 this year. “I re­ally think we are very priv­i­leged as we didn’t face op­po­si­tion or pres­sure our­selves,” says David. “But it can be dif­fer­ent for other peo­ple depend­ing on whether they live in a metro or a small town, their fam­ily back­ground, their place of work, and even the kind of friends they have.”

Hav­ing said that, Kevin and David are will­ing to share re­la­tion­ship tips with those who are just be­gin­ning to re­alise that two peo­ple join­ing to­gether to make a sin­gle unit is not as easy as it seems.

“While no two re­la­tion­ships are sim­i­lar, cer­tain gen­eral rules could ap­ply to all,” says David. “Things like not hav­ing ex­pec­ta­tions, keep­ing ev­ery­thing prac­ti­cal, the abil­ity to dis­cuss mat­ters, and also the abil­ity to dis­agree, to have a proper con­ver­sa­tion and han­dle things in a ma­ture way.”

And then he grins. “Keep in mind that hav­ing your own TV, your own set of friends and also your own bath­room can do the trick!” [email protected] Fol­low @VeenuSingh12 on Twit­ter

On David (left): Shirt A&T; jumper Muji; jeans, G-Star Raw, shoes, Muji On Kevin: shirt, A&T; jeans, Zara; shoes, Vans

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