Mango Masala Momma – Interview with TwoMangoes.com’s, Anita Dharamshi

Anita with Kidssmall

By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar

Anita Dharamshi is a mompreneur and the co-founder of TwoMangoes.com, a dating site for South Asians with a different approach to the whole online dating scene,  cooler than your typical matrimonial sites. She juggles work and motherhood as the mother of twins, a boy and a girl, each just 18-months-old. Now that’s juggling! After being married for 6 years and now having children she says she’s still learning about what it takes to manage parenting, working and a successful business. We had the chance to chat with Anita and talk to her about being a masalamomma.

What inspired you to start this business?

In speaking with many of my single friends, I realized that there was a serious problem in our community where marriage and dating were concerned and where traditional values and opinions regarding marriage collided with more western perceptions of dating to find that life partner. The South Asian community had many educated and successful professionals who simply didn’t have the time to invest in meeting new people, for the purpose of dating or otherwise. As people were getting older they started to feel the increased pressure from family and their social surroundings and cultural communities and principles to be in a serious relationship and get married. Once panic sunk in, people turned to the world of online dating and were bombarded with traditional matrimonial sites, offering an extremely out-dated user experience. This led to further frustration. Hearing their stories over and over again got us thinking about how there was a serious gap in the market and what limited services were being offered to cater to this community of professionals. As much as people in our generation were used to the concept of dating, there was no online dating site that catered to the South Asian demographic. And hence, TwoMangoes.com was born!

How do you juggle parenting and being an entrepreneur?

I have to be honest; it’s a constant struggle. Being a relatively new parent, and that too of twins, I already have my hands quite full trying to raise 2 little ones. Unfortunately, being an entrepreneur – I’m never able to completely turn off my blackberry (we have a love-hate relationship) but I do try to make it so that when I’m spending time with my kids, they have 100% of my time and attention. I do my best not to multi-task doing work related tasks while I am spending time with my family. The only way that I’m able to do what I do is with the help and support of my husband and our families who are always willing to help out, no matter what we need. As you can imagine, in a business like TwoMangoes.com, the hours can be all over the place so without a supportive husband and family there is no way I would be able to take on the many challenges I do as an entrepreneur, especially with this type of business.

How do you inject South Asian culture into your family’s daily life?

My kids are young (almost 18 months now) so the concept of South Asian culture isn’t that big right now. That being said, I do make it a point to expose them to South Asian food (mom’s home cooked Kichadi and Alu Paratha’s are a favorite as well as mangoes of course!) In terms of  language, I speak a mix of Hindi and English with them and we are always playing music in our house, a combination of Hindi, English and many other languages as well. So in that sense, we do make sure to surround them with all things South Asian in their life from a very young age so that as they grow up, they will have an understanding and appreciation for their culture and where they have come from.

Why is working while being a mom important to you?

As much as I love being a mom and adore my kids, I know that my career is very important to me and a big part of who I am as an individual. I’ll be honest – I love what I do and love being part of something like TwoMangoes.  There are times where I feel guilty for pursuing my own business and personal professional goals but then I have to remind myself that being a mom is just part of who I am, albeit a large part, but only a part. There is much more to me than just being a mother and I would be cutting myself short if I were to give up on those other things. I’m also a strong believer that being happy is a key requirement for being a good mom and unless a woman is happy doing what she’s doing, whether it’s pursuing her career or being a stay-at-home mom, it won’t create a good environment for the kids.

Was your own mother an inspiration to you when it comes to your work ethic?

My mother is a truly amazing woman! She truly is the woman beside (not behind) the man. While my dad was out building his professional career and business after business (as he’s also a serial entrepreneur, guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), he was able to do so only because of the immense support that my mother provided. She ran the entire household, including raising myself, my brother and my sister and made it look so easy. I now realize (being a mom myself) how difficult it is to manage and run a household and to create a loving and comfortable environment for the family. She made it look so easy and always had a smile on her face doing so. As a mother and as a businesswoman, I aspire to be as cool and composed as she was in every situation.

What do you think has changed for working South Asian moms today compared to mothers of years past?

Wow, that’s definitely a loaded question! I think that our mom’s had it very tough. They came to this country with very little financial, emotional, or moral support. Their goal was quite simple – make enough money to make sure my kids have a good, comfortable life with no complaints. A large majority of them say their job is just that – a job – and not necessarily a career. A job for them was simply a means to an end in helping to provide for their families and raising the kids and taking care of the household was their first priority. For mom’s today, a lot has changed. Although we have the emotional, financial and moral support from our husbands and families, there are still many challenges in trying to juggle our careers and being a mom. Today’s working South Asian women are much more driven, ambitious, educated and simply want more from themselves. With this comes added stress, responsibility and the pressure of trying to be the best employee or businesswoman and the best mother. The focus is no longer on ‘survival’ but more on ‘being the best’ at everything we take on. That’s a lot of pressure if you think about it.

 

You can learn more about TwoMangoes.com here.

Click here for our previous profile of a masalamomma, renowned artist, dancer Bageshree Vaze.


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