BENGALURU: After many days of hard work and practice, Aarti B Chatlani’s efforts have finally paid off. The 62-year-old was recently crowned Grandma Earth at the Grandma Universe pageant, which took place in Sofia, Bulgaria, from January 19-23. Calling the entire experience a magical and memorable one, Chatlani said, “I wish every grandma out there gets to experience this.”
The sexagenarian was the first Bengalurean to take part in the pageant, which consisted of three rounds, namely the national costume one, a talent round and the crowning ceremony. “For the first round, I wore a lehenga and bridal jewellery,” says Chatlani, whose talent round performance was a dance routine. The choreography modified the Hindi song Bhaaga Sa to come up with a new version, one that has the grandma running around to fulfill every need of her grandchild. “My effort definitely didn’t go unappreciated, since I took so many props and a picture of me with all my grandkids on a standee, just for this performance,” she says.
Nerves were definitely high during the pageant, with Chatlani even considering packing her bags and heading back when she saw the other “tall and fit” grandmas from other countries. “But my husband reminded me that I should just stay and enjoy the experience,” she says. Agreed Veena Jain, national director for Woman of the Universe, who selected Chatlani as the delegate for the pageant. Expressing her happiness, Jain said, “I had high expectations from her and she lived up to them. It’s also nice to see her come back with so many global friends.”
Chatlani’s family too has been nothing but supportive throughout her preparation, often conducting mock practice sessions with her. While they were not physically present in Bulgaria, they managed to be there in spirit. “It was around 4 am in India when the contest took place but they stayed awake. My sister, Anita Amarnaney, was present and helped them watch the ceremony through a live video call,” she said with a smile. Chatlani isn’t the only one getting congratulatory messages; her children too are being swarmed with wishes. “They are feeling on top of the world. Or Earth, I must say,” she laughed.