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Triumphant twins

The Palavakkam pair, Vanitha and Sunitha, have hogged the limelight at three international twins festivals. What makes them tick?

Two is company: Vanitha and Sunitha. Pic . by N. Balaji.

IF THERE were a system that accorded ranking to twins, then Vanitha and Sunitha, twin sisters from Palavakkam, would unquestionably be number one. During the course of August, 2004, these sisters pulled off three victories on the trot in three different countries.

The Indian look

Fourteen hundred pairs of twins descended upon the picturesque Canevaworld resort in Lazise Del Garda, Italy, for the European Twins Festival.

From the word go, a world of discovery opened up for these two women from Chennai. They dazzled the crowd that had gathered to watch one of the world's largest beauty parade of twins and other multiples.

"It was our Indianness that gave us the winning edge. That the Italians like the Indian look was a pleasant revelation. As fashion designers, we had made our own couture; and after the beauty pageant, we were flooded with requests from many Italian fashion houses to share our expertise with them," says Vanitha.

The sisters, who run the textile design company, Les Jumelles (The Twin Sisters) in the city, have apparently let their imagination run over velvet chiffons, synthetic furs, sequins and zari.

On the score of innovation, a sari excelled all other creations. It has Italian news stories printed across half of its yards.

For the talent round, the sisters gave a Bharatanatyam performance, following which, a crowd collected around them and bombarded them with questions on India and its culture.

"We were called upon to expound on Indian medicine, yoga and what not!" smiles Sunitha.

With heavy scores in the talent, personality and beauty rounds, they clearly outclassed their competitors.

And as expected, a trophy popped out of a showcase. "But unexpected things came up as well," says Vanitha, rolling her eyes and with an air of mystery. "After the victory, an Italian TV interviewed us. Midway through the programme, we were ordered to close our eyes. When we opened our eyes, ho ho - what do we see! Two handsome Italian twins on bended knees proposing marriage to us. We were just dumbstruck. Somehow recovering from the shock, we told them politely that we would keep their offer in mind. But, even this diplomatic answer did not prevent the men from being offended. For the rest of the festival, they looked through us."

"Often at such international twin festivals, destinies cross and hearts meet. Many twins attend these festivals hoping to meet other twins they would like to marry," says Sunitha.

The largest gathering

The Twin Day Festival, held annually in Twinsburg, Cleveland, Ohio, United States witnesses the largest gathering of twins. On this count, it has even entered the Guinness Book of World Records. During this year's festival, 3,700 pairs were in the fray. About 26,000 people had come to witness the event.

"Twinsburg is appropriately named because 160 pairs of twins live there," says Sunitha.

For Vanitha and Sunitha, Twinsburg was an almost total repeat of Lazise Del Garda. Their Indianness was admired, so were their costumes and talent for classical dancing. Needless to say, they won the gold medal here as well, hands down.

"The highlight of the festival, however, was the aerial photograph of the 3,700 twins, who had assembled on a lonely landscape carpeted with lush grass," says Vanitha, displaying the poster-length photograph. "This will be one of our prized possessions."

The sisters were selected to be part of an international delegation that would "grapple with the problems that come from being twins."

The French victory

At Pleucadeuc in Brittany, South France.

"Pleucadeuc is called the `village of twins' because, like Twinsburg, it is home to many twins. With lovely meadows that are ringed by hills, Pleucadeuc is a place out of time. We got to go around this beautiful countryside in a Rolls Royce, along with its owner, Count De Poret, who hails from the oldest noble family living in Brittany," Vanitha says.

Did all the twins get to travel in the Rolls Royce? "No. It was an honour that was reserved just for us. Again not because of what we are, but because of where we come from - India," says Sunitha modestly.

"The locals were keen on learning Bharatanatyam. In return, they taught us the folk dances of Brittany. We also got to taste the famous Bordeaux wine," says Vanitha. It could actually have been five in a row for the Indian sisters, but for some misinformation and poor planning. They landed in Sri Lanka, only to be told that the twin festival there had been cancelled. And they missed the German twin festival as they were misinformed about the dates.


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