Sibling squad

Amrita Prasad
Saturday, 5 August 2017

Ahead of Raksha Bandhan, the day which celebrates the bond between a brother and sister, Amrita Prasad chats up such duos who are business partners, music associates, fellow travellers and team mates

He is your anchor in life. She is your confidante. He is your protector. She is your guide. The bond that a brother and sister share cannot be explained in words. You grow up fighting with each other and fighting for each other, and step into adulthood holding each other’s hands. Your sibling knows your quirks, favourite things, secrets, strengths and weaknesses. And can also help you work around them, which is why having your sibling as your business partner, music associate, team mate, dance companion or fellow traveller makes so much sense. We chat up such brother-sister duos who have taken their relationship to a whole new level by exploring common interests and working as a team.

The best team
Jessica Wheeler, 28-year-old teacher at AG Church School, Sodepur, West Bengal, teaches in the same school as her younger brother Lorenzo. Speaking about the perks of working as a team, she says, “The advantage is that much of our work planning is done at the dinner table. We share a great bond and understanding.”

Pradeep Chamaria, blogger, photographer and adventure junkie, teams up with his younger sister Sheela for his travels. The 54-year-old Delhite describes their relationship as: “We both are each other’s best friends, mentors, strengths, and confidantes,” says Pradeep who along with his sister enjoys trekking, paragliding, road trips and so on. He adds, “I may not be consciously aware of my strengths and weaknesses but Sheela knows them well and vice versa. She can sense when I am tensed and when she needs to push me to take up challenges. And at the same time, she can lean back on me and trust me in the worst of situations.”

The brother-sister duo has taught other adventure enthusiasts paragliding as well. Speaking of how important it is for him to have his sister by his side when he goes for such trips, Pradeep explains, “During my first flight in paragliding I was nervous to take off and had aborted three attempts. The instructor finally called Sheela (who took off in her first attempt) and asked her to encourage me. On my next attempt, she gave me mental support and literally pushed me once I was in the position to take off.”

Music bonds people. Siblings pursuing music feel closer and more connected. Pune-based musician brother-sister duo (Moon Roots Project) Fatema and Hannan Hakim produce electronic music and specialise in techno, tech house and deep house, do DJing together and also run a company called Pagal Poona wherein they make upcycled saree bags. “The biggest advantage of being music and business partners with my brother is that we’re brutally honest with each other, there’s no sugar coating. And there are no hard feelings, ever. While Hannan is highly intellectual and can easily run through the technicalities of music, I have a great ear and add the melodic vibe to each track,” says Fatema.

Perfect business partners
Mumbai-based entrepreneur Priyanka Jain, director and BD, and her brother Prasuk Jain, MD of the company, together started indoor snow park Snowworld in Mumbai. As snow park was a new idea, the siblings had much to learn, be it setting up the project, handling PR or marketing and so on. “But we both had our mentor (father) always with us. We had an amazing time running Snowworld, so we decided to give birth to our dream project Ski India, the first snow park with a ski facility at a very large scale. It houses every imaginable snow and ice adventure,” says Priyanka.

Talking about having a brother as a business partner, Priyanka points out that sibling partnerships have a long history of huge success. They are close enough to understand each other which is what made the Jain siblings get into the family business. “But before deciding to get into a business together we chose to play on our strengths and bifurcate roles by understanding who is good at what and made sure we handle our tasks sincerely. While Prasuk is a big vision guy, a businessman, who could handle the finances and saw the possibility of building something like this, on the other hand, I am the dreamer, with a creative mind and imagination so I outlined a plan to build the brand,” she adds.

Complement each other
While your siblings are your best friends, at times it can get challenging to work as a team. Ego, difference of opinion can come in the way. “I’m sort of demanding and controlling by nature and get hyper but on the other hand, Lorenzo is cool and calm. His weakness is that he loses hope too easily and lacks competitive spirit. I am the complete opposite. So, in a way, our weaknesses and strengths balance each other and motivate us to excel at our work,” quips Jessica.

Pradeep, who easily trusts people and is more gullible, banks on his sister Sheela who is a better judge of people. “I normally believe and trust almost everyone I meet, but Sheela doesn’t. She takes her time to judge a situation. But in case of an emergency we try to help people. We helped a paragliding student after a crash in Auli and took him to Joshimath for first aid and then to Delhi for a surgery,” shares Pradeep who, along with his sister, has done the Chadar Trek in Ladakh, and live and dead volcano expeditions in Indonesia.

Ironing out differences
Does the partnership affect their personal relationship? Priyanka says, “As siblings, we are more than just business partners. We are mostly spotted planning for the company’s  benefit and at times have crazy fun like any other brother-sister duo. But unlike friends, your siblings know your strengths and weakness you’ve had since childhood. That said, the pressure is more when working in a family business. There are times when you need to take a call which may be against each other and the consequences may affect your personal life, but doing what’s right matters more. It’s really hard separating business and personal relationships, acting formal, etc so to avoid such cases you need to be spontaneous, proactive and not take things for granted, and also set a boundary for family lore,” she explains.
Being the elder sibling, Jessica aways has an upper hand while taking decisions, but sometimes there are clashes. “Well, at times, we may not agree with each other’s ideas but I do like Lorenzo’s ideas and approach to new assignments,” says Jessica.
“We share open criticism filled with unconditional love and love for growth so there’s only climbing up the ladder for us. However, at times we have conflicting ideas and unsure of how to take the next step. But the differences really don’t affect our relationship. Before anything, we’re best friends. We’re like any other siblings, we fight but we stick together!” exclaims Fatema.
Echoing Fatema’s words, Priyanka says that there are times when they compete with each other, “When you want to lead and be better than the other. There are points when we fight and have conflicting ideas and we start judging each other. But at the end of the day you are working for your own company.”
There may be differences between the siblings, but they don’t affect them negatively. As Jessica puts it, “We learn and accept each other’s flaws and weaknesses and stand up for each other in the toughest situations.”

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