Beyond borders

Beyond borders

Beyond borders

Kiran Chaudhary Amlani calls herself “the lucky one”. Lucky because she is a British passport holder, something that gives her a huge advantage to travel to both India and Pakistan merrily, and more importantly, easily.

Those who have travelled or want to travel to the other side of the border know the agony of the harrowing procedure one has to follow to get the visa and the many restrictions that come along after one gets it. But the Pakistani woman has made India her second home after she married Mumbai-based restaurateur, Riyaaz Amlani.

Kiran’s family lives in Lahore, so she always witnessed the excitement among family and friends when they knew someone was visiting India. A long list of “must-buy” items would be handed over to the privileged visitor who was armed with the arduous task of not disappointing any. So she wasn’t surprised when she started getting similar requests to bring kajal, saris and lawn fabric from Lahore for her Indian friends and relatives.  “The demand for pretty things from both sides of the border is always there but since there is limitation on trade, the demand will never fade,” she says.

Kiran belongs to a family who have textile mills in Pakistan and hence her familiarity with fabrics doesn’t come as a surprise. To fill the chasm that came with ‘restricted trade’ she organised and participated in many cross-cultural exhibitions, till she decided the time was ripe to open her first multi-brand fashion house in the capital with Shabana Khan. The store ‘Anhad’ was launched recently and houses Pakistani designers like Faraz Manan, Farida Hasan, Elan, Sania Maskatiya, Sapphire and Sahar Atif among others. “Pakistan has many brands that haven’t got much exposure. I have brought these hidden gems to India, along with some of the best of Pakistani designers,” Kiran shares.

“The most important thing is affordability. I have kept prices in mind and have brought pocket-friendly prêt wear,” she adds. Kiran feels the Indian market is big enough to absorb anything that is creative and different. “You can just grab and wear these dresses. They are so chic and wearable. The more people wear Pakistani designs, the more it is a win-win situation for us,” she says. “The Indian customer wants something fresh and exciting,” she adds.

A student of Economics,
Kiran strongly believes the two countries should encourage trade partnership. “Your neighbours are the most natural partners for you. We are denying that opportunity to us because ignorance is creating hatred. Politics is all about power and the easiest way to stay in power is to create an enemy,” she says. “The lack of cultural exchange also makes us easily believe that the other country is an enemy,” she adds.

But she hopes to be a cultural ambassador and give not only Pakistani, but fresh designers in the Indian sub-continent a platform to display their creative aesthetics.