At Home With… Radhika Chopra

 

It’s been our pleasure connecting with Radhika Chopra, of No. 3 Clive Road, whose hand blended teas and bespoke accessories offer a rarefied experience, for precious moments of solitude or while entertaining at home. Her aesthetic sensibility also manifests in a role of advocacy at The Foundation For Indian Contemporary Art (FICA).

Subtle, refined and utterly natural, Radhika adds depth to a conversation about what feels timeless and worthy of preservation today:

 

Spending more unexpected time at home...

I will always cherish this time together with family. I don’t think we’ve ever spent so much time together. I am here with my husband and daughter, as well as my sister and parents, who are in their late 80s, as my neighbours. We are fortunate to all be in Delhi at the same time and here to take care of each other. However, it is a challenging time for the world. It’s been difficult to watch and it has brought on a new set of personal challenges for everyone.

 

The range of emotions and productivity during lockdown. And now, as we're easing out of it…

We've all had our own way of responding to this time and it's interesting to see on social media and from friends how everyone has handled time at home differently. For me personally, I've only focused on three things - our 14-year-old daughter, Maya, my business No. 3 Clive Road, and my parents. All three have needed my undivided attention, so unfortunately I haven't had the time to try new recipes, take an online course or login to the countless number of webinars. One day I will look back and say, "I wish I had done more of that." 

“It's been more about survival these past few months and I think that is true for many of us.”

I try not to be influenced by what I see on social media. With ageing parents, I'm nervous about the lifting of restrictions and I worry tremendously about the less fortunate.

 

Learnings so far of the pandemic's effect on art and business? 

As far as work is concerned, I've had to seize the moment and pivot into online sales immediately. We were given the green light to ship our tea and honey as essential items in early April, so my team and I had to quickly respond to the changing times and shift sales online. Managing this remotely was our biggest challenge. In April and May, in the midst of a nationwide lockdown, we shipped over 200 orders. We've learned a great deal about the online space for essential pantry items. 

As for art, I've had time to introspect while at home. I have questioned how I've viewed and consumed art and I am very aware that I have been lucky to have had the ability to support my passion. I don't take this role lightly and I have promised myself that my engagement going forward will be slower and more thoughtful.

 

A ritual or line of thinking that has been clarifying in these complex times...

Every morning, I tell myself that it is okay to struggle through the day. While we may be extremely comfortable and secure where we are, it's okay to not be in a good mood and fumble through these very stressful times. It’s okay to not be the perfectionist that I am and embrace the flaws.

“I’ve learned to accept the bad days and celebrate the small moments of joy. I'm learning more about the idea of self care and it’s keeping me more centered through this time.”

What gets you out of bed every morning? Are you an early riser?

I wish I was an early riser. I love the idea of having a cup of tea in the morning outside on the veranda before the summer sun hits. Instead, I'm rushing to wake up Maya and make it to my Zoom exercise class on time! And in between supersets, I'm sipping on tea!

 

 

What are your favourites from No.3 Clive Road's tea offering?

My current favourite is the Maheshwar Blend, inspired by warm afternoons on the banks of the Narmada River and memories of watching the sun softly touch the water. The Maheshwar Blend was created as light as the moment. What came together was a unique blend of delicate first flush Darjeeling, spicy ginger, cloves, a touch of jasmine and dried apricots. I’ve been enjoying a cup in the late afternoons, with a touch of our Wildflower Honey.

 

Your favourite scented candle, and what it reminds you of? 

The No. 3 Clive Road Banaras Candle! With a base of Neroli, Black Pepper, Frankincense, the candle was inspired by the beautiful city of Varanasi with its heady combination of scents and sounds drifting through the city. At a time where we are all at home, I get to travel through different parts of our beautiful country with the unique tea blends and candle scents that I have created for No. 3 Clive Road.

 

With much in our society that needs addressing, and more being brought to light everyday, what are your views on art for change? 

With so much upheaval happening in our country and the world around us, I feel that voices of freedom and democracy are soaring high. In times like these, art and creative expression become more important than ever. As artists and supporters of the arts, we need to ensure that we continue to support and bolster these expressions, and create spaces for differing voices to be heard. And with the economic challenges ahead of us, it is imperative that we come together as a community to continue finding ways to support art for social and political change.

 

The lines between work and home are officially blurred. Any tips for finding balance? 

Finding the right home/life balance has been the biggest challenge during these times. I think we’re all working much harder from home. I’ve had to create a makeshift office space in our dining room.

“We’ve tried to find some balance by creating separate zones - separate work zones and a family zone. What was once our formal living room, where we only entertained, has become the one place where we kick back, put our feet on the sofa and spend time as a family.”

Is your bedroom a screen-free zone? 

I haven’t managed to make the bedroom a screen-free zone, but more interestingly, it is an art-free zone! I like to have a very calm, neutral space to spend the end of a hectic day. 

 

A perfect Sunday?

Before the lockdown, Sundays were always meant for family lunch. We would head out with my parents to our favourite spots in the city for brunch. We look forward to getting back to those days. These days, however, Sundays are spent staying away from the screen and resting.

 

 

Success and rest go hand in hand. Your thoughts, and tip for a good night's rest?

A good night's rest impacts my mood, my strength and my productivity for the next day. I find having a ritual before going to bed really helpful. 

During the first phase of the lockdown, I participated in a meditation exercise with friends on WhatApp. We kept each other motivated with messages after completing exercises every evening before going to sleep.

All photography courtesy Radhika’s daughter, Maya Anandan, age 14.

 

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