Aanchal Anita Dhara - Spoken word & Mixed Media Artist

Tell us about yourself.
Hi, Namaste. My name is Anchal Anita Dhara. I am a spoken word artist and a mixed media artist. I write, I perform, I photograph and I embroider. And sometimes I endure to combine all these skills to create original art pieces. I was born and brought up in Delhi, but I've been living in Mumbai for the past 15 odd years. Life right now is a mix of chaos and calm and I don't think I would want it any other way. 
What was your ambition as a child?
Well, as a child born into a large middle class family, the only focus was academic excellence and I was no different. I only wanted to be studious and get good grades.
What sparked your interest in expressing yourself through words, and how has the journey of poetry and writing unfolded for you?

Writing helps me become more mindful. In our culture, we glorify multitasking, especially for women. You can be made to feel like a failure if you don't excel at multiple things. I'm also learning to unitask and it does get difficult at times, but most of the time it just relaxes and calms me. 

Can you share a bit about your journey into photography and embroidery, and how you found yourself involved in these visual and tactile arts simultaneously?

Photography, especially wedding photography, happened purely by chance to me. I am a very emotional person and I get really emotional at weddings. Sometimes when I'm shooting, I'm fully teary-eyed, seeing a father hugging the bride. I've also been really lucked out with... with having amazing clients as my, you know, couples to shoot and, you know that you know the vibe is always matched and, and then the divine emotion of love. Embroidery, on the other hand, gives me peace. um I'm in the flow at the moment when I am embroidering. There's something really meditative about repeated stitches and repeating patterns and, um whether it's mixed media pieces or my journals, every project is a labour of love. 

In your creative pursuits, how do you balance the artistic aspects with the advocacy or social impact goals you may have?

Writing about the things that I feel the most passionate about, incidentally and luckily, also include social issues. I just try to give a voice to the issues that I feel are important. And at the same time, I prefer to strike a balance between subtlety and effectiveness to maintain my sanity. I also consciously purchase and collaborate with brands that promote and support slow fashion and slow living and whose ethics and principles align with.

  Can you provide an overview of The Audacious Project.

In 2015 I was walking near our house in a park and I remember it was raining and I was pondering over something and I had this incredible urge to walk more than I had planned. My body was feeling strong and you know I decided to push it and in no time I was, I had walked 15 kilometers and I don't know what happened but in that moment I just started wondering what would happen if I pushed my body a little more and I thought how would it be if I made it into an official attempt How far would my body and mind support me? And then an idea struck out of nowhere. So I rushed back home, and I told my partner Prashant, hey, I want to walk from Bombay to Goa. 

He looked at me, looked down, and then looked up and asked, hey, when do you want to go? And less than a year later, I was on my way to what I would call the most rewarding experience of my life. We called it two feet and a dream. It took me about 26 days to cover 582 kilometers from Bombay to Goa. I finally stopped at Morjan beach, which is where the road ended. And my partner Prashant was in the support car throughout filming me and managing the logistics. So paying attention to this urge in the park on a random day during a random walk had brought this life-changing experience in our lives. And so my partner, Prashant, and I made this project called The Audacious Project, where now we just nurture this feeling. 

We walk, we cycle, we climb mountains, we plan adventures, and we just go as far as we can from our comfort zones and see how much will our bodies and minds support us. And they have, like they have supported us like anything. I mean, my body's become my best friend now. So yeah, we just do this to understand what we're truly capable of. 

Can you share with us the central topics you discussed in your TEDx talks, and perhaps highlight some key insights or messages you aimed to convey to the audience?

Two Feet and a Dream, our first project for the Audacious project was the most rewarding experience of my life and that is what I spoke about at my first TEDx talk. The theme of the talk was Drop the Why and I shared all the beautiful learnings that I came back with on that project. My second TEDx talk was about my journey from my childhood till now and how my instincts have played such an important role in getting me where I am. And the theme was Little Boys and Big Choices. 

Looking ahead, what are the primary goals or aspirations you have for The Audacious Project in the future?

We're training for our third project which we plan to attempt in the summer this year. It's a hike across Via Alpina which is a 2200 kilometer trail that links eight European countries. It's beautiful but challenging and we think is a perfect fit for the Audacious project for the two of us. 

How would you describe your personal style? 

Well, I choose comfort over style any given day. My personal style is bohemian and chic, and I love to experiment. The joy of mixing patterns and prints and different jewelry with different costumes, it's like solving a new puzzle every day. And because I feel responsible towards the planet, I'm extremely conscious about the fabrics, the products, the materials that I choose to wear. 

How do you resonate with Teejh?

Teejh is a brand that is reflective of my love for everything classic. My favourite are Teejh's jewellery pieces. For example, one heavy piece is enough to balance one simple outfit. And then there are these lovely little trinkets that you can mix and match. I think one can take their pick. There's so much. And only if I could wear them all. 

As someone with a rich and varied creative background, what words of wisdom would you share with those seeking fulfilment and success?

With my experiences I've learned and I'm still learning is to just go with the flow. Respect the universe, respect what she's offering you and just go with it. You know the definition of success is different for different people but for me right now is just to enjoy the moment in its entirety. Oh and spend time with yourself. That is the only way to know yourself and that is the only thing that's helping me right now. 


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