Better Half : An Anchor Who Holds All Together

Amrita Goel, wife of noted businessman and real-estate honcho Atul Goel, MD, Goel Ganga Group, is a testimony to the old adage: behind every successful man, is a strong feminine presence

Graceful, quiet, unapologetically home-bound, that’s Amrita Goel for you. And yet the soft demeanour belies the strength and organisation that allows her hi-flying husband to focus on his many commitments, as peace that home and hearth are in safe hands. Her touch is visible in their tastefully done- up home, in the clever utilisation of spaces, the skilful use of light by offsetting neutral shades with a splash of colour, and the utter calm aura of their home.

Tell her that and she nods. “Yes, we are a culturally proud family. My in-laws are religious and rooted—and that is part of our legacy. We celebrate all festivals, major and minor, together and we are firm believers in the strengths of the extended family. Both, Atul and I are the oldest of our generation, and we are conscious of the examples we set,” she says.

At 37, she’s been married for 16 years—a long time for such a young age. She doesn’t agree. “It helped me blend in with the family,” she avers. Having spent the initial days of their married life with the in-laws, Amrita says it helped to know each individual better.

Rising by 6:30 am, she sees off her two boys—Tarush (15) and Kritesh (16) before enjoying a quiet breakfast with Atul. This is followed by her social commitments, after which she spends two hours in Atul’s office helping the design team with space utilisation. “It’s the higher end of aesthetic planning. The way you use space and materials contributes to the lifestyle and peace you enjoy,” she says.

After all, she does own a degree in landscaping from Pune’s Jagannath Rathi International Institute, which has plenty of room for expression in Atul’s line of work. Even as the Goel Ganga group makes significant strides in the premium luxury realty segment, there’s stress on design that is classy, contemporary, top-of-the line and yet realistic. “I really enjoy the challenge it offers,” says Amrita, who already has a 5,000 sq feet apartment to her credit apart from her own lovely home.

But her aesthetic sense is not only employed at work, it permeates every aspect of her living. “She has a way of wrapping the simplest gift in a manner that makes it valuable and personal,” chips in Atul.

“Art adds that extra bit to your everyday living,” she says, confiding that all her Janmashtami decorations for instance are hand-crafted and put together by her. Her sense of style and understanding of jewellery is a throwback both to her basic inclination, and family business. “In hometown Hyderabad, our family ancestors supplied jewellery to the Nizam,” she shares.

Lest you think it’s all been smooth-sailing for her, think again. “Hyderabad is very different from Pune. The crowd there is very warm, and it took me time to adjust to Pune’s business-like ways,” she says. “But today, I appreciate it much better. People are non-interfering and that’s not a quality to be underestimated,” she says.

It has been a challenge for the self-effacing young girl to get used to being wife to a real estate whiz. “It’s not been easy being Mrs. Atul Goel. There were several demands on me, especially with regard to the hectic social pace demanded by his work and position --- but it helped that we shared the same values,” she expresses.

For his part, Atul insists Amrita was the first and the last girl he ever ‘saw’ for marriage. “It did not take me long to commit. She was educated and grounded, and comfortable with the system of a joint family. I made my choice, and it has stood me in good stead till date,” he says.

For a couple that did not meet too frequently before their very arranged and propah marriage, it’s amazing to see how tight a unit they are. And just how much of a foil to each other.

Him: aggressive, determined, focused and madly hard-working.
Her: soft-spoken relaxed, accommodating and laidback.
Him: a no-nonsense degree in civil engineering followed by a MBA.
Her: a degree in landscape designing, and a flair for the arts.

To top it all, the star signs (Linda Goodman, anyone?) too are a perfect match. He is a Cancer, she a Scorpio. “By and large, I am the calm partner in the marriage,” says Amrita, even as Atul chips in: “However, when she loses it, that’s when I calm down soon enough.”

Amidst the bonhomie and shared hobbies— travel and watching movies---the Goels are held together by a deep and abiding respect for family and all its nuances. That, and marriage. “A stable marriage is the bedrock of a sane society,” says Atul.“When you make a commitment, it’s for a life time. "

Despite the social merry go round, the Goels are particular about doing things together. They also share a passion for travel and offering their kids a flavour of life abroad. “Last year, we took the boys to London, where we lived the typical life of Londoners for a good ten days. From taking trams, to enjoying the local food, to the museums—we did it all. It was a hectic time, and quite a departure from the chauffeur driven comforts of Pune, but such exposure is a must,” says Amrita.

She wants her kids to imbibe Atul’s work ethic. “However late he sleeps, he is always up early to attend to his work and meetings. This passion for excellence is what I wish the boys take from him,” she says.

Both are united in their insistence for respecting age. “We are friends, but not buddies,” she says. “It’s a fine line to walk.”

Despite the traditional outlook, Amrita is a keen advocate of girl’s education as evinced by the interest she takes in the crèches run by the Goel Ganga Group for the daughters of the labour force. “The group I work with are mostly teenagers. Most have dropped out of school, due to family pressure and parental fear about their daughters receiving wrong exposure,” she says.

To make up for the lack of a formal education, the staff at the crèche intersperse academic teaching with vocational skills. The latter is where Amrita is involved. “We don’t want them to grow up to be house-maids,” she asserts.

While Amrita herself teaches ceramics, a host of other practical skills are imparted, so the girls may stand on their feet tomorrow.

An active member of the ladies group Tiger Lily, Amrita entertains frequently at home. “I enjoy having people over, and looking after them,” she says.

No wonder Atul says he loves inviting guests. “In ways big and small, her contribution to my life is immense. She has kept the family together, and I can travel frequently, knowing full well that there is an anchor to hold it all together,” he says.

Married at 24 and 21 respectively, they believe they understand each other so much better for having spent that kind of time together. “I would recommend timely marriages to everyone,” says Atul. “It gives you focus and responsibility. It is entirely possible to follow one’s professional goals, and give time to one’s partner—if one so wishes. At the end of the day, it’s nice to have someone to come home to.”

By Kalyani Sardesai