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Silver dreams turn green

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Miss India Earth 2010, Nicole Faria, who wanted to be in Bollywood, is now quickly brushing up on environmental issues before she kickstarts the next leg of her journey, discover LISSA CHAZOT and SUCHITA MUNDHRA

Nicole Faria wasn't even considering modelling. Bollywood was what she wanted. But what she is, instead getting to do, is represent India in the Miss Earth 2010 Pageant.

Although young Bangalorean Nicole's training will start later this summer, she believes in getting a head start and has started reading up environmental issues that rock the country. Later this year, she will head to Vietnam for the grand finale. The Miss Earth Pageant boasts of bringing together “beauties for a cause”, to promote local and international environmental projects.

This 20-year-old is like a lodestar to aspiring models of the city, who are waiting and watching to see whether she will clinch the title or not. How does it help to be a Bangalorean? “You feel young and lively when you are here and with the number of young people in the city, the vibe gets passed on to you,” she said. “Besides, the incredible greenery and the pleasant weather make it the best place to grow up in,” she quickly adds.

Having started her modelling career at the age of 15, after being discovered by Prasad Bidappa, she continued her studies parallel to her modelling career, which gathered no moss. Higher secondary at Sophia High School and PU at Christ College, she did her Bachelors in Arts from Mount Carmel College.

For someone who wanted to be a Bollywood actor, nothing less, modelling was not even considered an option. Stage fright made her tizzy and she took up her first assignment to face her fear, only to discover the adrenaline rush that walking down the ramp could offer. “All I could see was cameras flashing at me. I felt like a glamour diva,” she recalls.

With more modelling assignments rolling in, her father warned her about discontinuing studies. So modelling and studying went hand in hand. During vacations she would take up assignments and has so far featured on the cover page of Femina Girl, Confetti and Platform. She has walked the ramp for Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal and others. Colombo Fashion Week was her first leap into the international fashion world, Lakme India Fashion Week following shortly after. But juggling studies and work, how did she prepare for the Miss India Earth pageant and how different will it be this time? “Well, for one, I'll have to read up a lot on environmental issues and keep abreast of current issues and pressing problems. Besides that, regular visits to the gym is on the cards before I set off for more rigorous training later this summer…,” she trailed off.

The training for Miss India Earth was challenging. Phones were confiscated, grinding schedules were imposed in which gym hours, spa treatments, ramp walking, training and grooming were squeezed in. They were fed bland porridge, carrot roti and brown rice,supplemented with dry fruits, protein shakes and lots of water. “I was fantasising about food and the trainers would get a kick teasing me about it. I would think about my favourite baked cheese cake from F & B La Patisserie, steak, burgers, sizzlers…,” she says, almost nostalgically. “But it was a fair bargain as the rigorous training metamorphosed my personality for the better. My face was glowing and I lost weight.” The strict diet, without an extra ounce of fat, was the most difficult part of the training for Nicole, who's a total foodie. The training was hence a battle of mind over matter.

But doesn't the intensive training that precedes the pageant mar the individuality of the contestants and mechanically churn out thin, tall ‘beautiful' women, who reinforce the existing paradigm in beauty? Nicole begs to differ: “The grooming takes you to a different level but it doesn't bring everyone to the same level. It sets you apart from everyone else.” But the question still lingers. .

The leggy beauty, Nicole Faria in her air conditioned plush living room spoke about environmental issues that bog Bangalore: “Climate change in Bangalore is most blatant and worrying, it's just been so hot since five years.” Yet, Bangalore still remains a green city albeit the rapid urbanisation, she infers.Nicole then rattled off the predictable patter of : “Do not use plastic bags, stop littering, don't waste water, switch off lights and A/C when not in use… use electric cars,” before quipping that she always travels by car… to avoid getting eve-teased. As an afterthought she added that women need to stand up for themselves and their rights as we live in a male-dominated world.

Being a runway model, sometimes one is vulnerable hence “it is imperative to stand up for your rights and have the right attitude. I learnt kickboxing and am lucky. I have never been taken for a ride, as my parents were always around and I was also backed by an agency.” What lessons does she draw from the years she has spent in the industry? “It is essential to be yourself, as glamour is transient. Overconfidence kills. Period. Also, one should learn to make quick decisions rather than wait and make no decision at all”.

LISSA CHAZOT AND SUCHITA MUNDHRA

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