‘I almost died last year’

 ‘I almost died last year’

She stormed the Indian music scene as a 15-year-old with her
hit single, Hotline, the first Indian single ever to be released.
Almost three-and-a-half decades later, artist-chef-healer
attracting a disease which almost killed her, launching a
spiritual colouring book called Tattva that reduces stress
and raises frequency, turning to spirituality, her love for
food, her life and more…



When did music happen to Anaida?
When 14, I won an All-India Dance Championship which opened doors to professional dancing and choreographing. Once during a fashion show, models had trouble being on time with their changes so I jumped on the stage and sang two songs to keep the crowd busy. A music guy saw me and told music industry people about me. Within a week, I had three offers to cut an album. Two of the music companies were giants but I was put off by their manners so went ahead and signed with the third, a newly formed company. It was a while before we released an album but I remember recording the album in one or maybe two days! Non-filmi singers then thought it wasn’t “cool” to sing in Hindi and I thought how can you even think that? Hindi is our national language. Thereafter, we released the first ever single in India. The first album became the highest selling debut one of its time. Rest, as they say, is history. I did a lot of firsts – first single, first ever animation video out of India, first to do an original song in Hindi for a Disney movie (Hakuna Matata with Baba Sehgal), first Indian artiste to feature on Buddha Bar, first original Arabic album out of India and many others.

Did you take any formal training in singing?
I had formal training in theatre which included some singing. While I was doing theatre, I did jingles and voiceovers. I got further training when I got more serious. The amazing Ghulam Mustafa Khan sahib was my teacher and later, my super teacher was Sharmili Kashyap.

What changes has the music industry witnessed since the time you forayed into it in the 90s?
For one, Bollywood has swallowed it up. MTV and Channel V were a little ahead of their time but to survive, they had to go Bollywood which had loads of money. So they started paying (unofficially, as they would book ads so their songs got airplay). It corrupted things. Once that started happening, it was no more on merit or people liking things. It was more like playing a song so much till it got etched in minds and became a hit. Also, as soon as a new kid composing or writing would show up and he was good, Bollywood swallowed him too. So pop did not have support. There was a lot more individuality back then because at the time, it was all new. Artistes had to be allrounders. There were no managers. Now it is a lot more organised and commercial.



Bollywood has swallowed the music industry. MTV and Channel V were ahead of their time but to survive, they had to go Bollywood. So they started paying (unofficially, as they would book ads so their songs got airplay). It corrupted things



Why is there no soul in songs today?
Because we don’t put our souls into them. Art is a necessity and creativity is as important as breathing for any human being.

When did Anaida turn to spirituality?
I have been studying spirituality since I was a kid. Then I did it for fun and to debunk it. It was meditation music in 1994 that made me consider it more seriously. But it was not until 1996 as also the miracle of the internet that studying and researching about the subject became easy! I made meditation tracks in 1996 for myself, friends and family. Commercially, no one was interested in hearing it. We re-recorded four of the original guided meditations and put them online in 2017. Then, I took off for a resident yoga training course (I’m a certified yoga instructor), deciding that once I’m back then we will share it with everyone. When I got back a month later, one of the tracks had gone on the iTunes charts in several countries. That’s when I thought the time is right to be more open about all this.
Healing has been a big part of my life since 1997 when a routine blood work had me going from one doctor to another, all suggesting strong chemical treatments or else… They said my problem was advanced and if untreated, will kill me in six months to a year-and-a-half! I didn’t tell anyone, not even family. One thing I’ve learned from my mother rather strongly in childhood is to trust Nature more than chemicals. I was sure I didn’t want to try anything doctors suggested. I decided to try what mom used to do, distract myself from impending doom and feel better. Results surprised me. A year later, I was completely okay. They say when a student is ready, teachers find you. I vouch for that.



The doctors y said my problem was advanced and if untreated, will kill me in six months to a year-and-a-half! I didn’t tell anyone, not even family. One thing I’ve learned from my mother, rather strongly in childhood, is to trust Nature more than chemicals


Another routine check-up in 2012 had me visiting docs again and this time a completely new problem came up. I was given dooming suggestions but this time, I tried healing much more confidently. And I went to its roots, paying attention to how I was causing these calamities for myself. It is a universe of attraction. There is no assertion ever. No one is doing anything to us. Life is happening for us, through us. It all begins and starts with us! Take responsibility and with that take your power back. That is very powerful.

What is spirituality and how does one experience it?
There is enough science to show us that we are way more than this biological bodysuit. What makes this body function is also a frequency, a wave. You can call it spirit, soul or whatever. It is you and you can’t be anything but you! You can get far from who you are or forget it, but you, the pure positive being of light, stays! You always experience it. You only need to get more aware of it.

Share something about your relationship with food.
I love food and that’s why I became a chef. My mom was a great cook and she taught me originally, but I started cooking first out of desperation because those days there was hardly any good food available outside a few five stars. There were only Indian and Chin-dian (Chinese Indian) standalone food places, so I cooked to survive. I wanted to eat healthy so I had to figure out ways to make it more tasty. And it worked!


I love food and that’s why I became a chef. My mom was a great cook and she taught me originally, but I started cooking first out of desperation because those days there was hardly any good food available outside a few five stars



Is there a successful formula to lead a happy and healthy life?
Choose to feel happy!

Why is there so much discontentment, sorrow and jealousy around?
There is also a lot of love, compassion, advancement, help and caring around. Life is like a TV channel. You choose what you tune in, and your attention makes it grow/ multiply in many creative forms. Take your attention off sorrow and negativity around for just a while. Tune into all the good and more of that will reveal itself to you.

Tell us about the disease that almost killed you last year.
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called “Graves’ Disease” that turned into “thyroid storm” which is life-threatening. The main problem was my heartbeat that would not come down with medication. It literally felt like my heart was on fire. It also changed my nature! I couldn’t control my emotions or my mouth. I was told I needed to kill my thyroid, either with a radioactive tablet failing which they would operate to take it out. I wasn’t going to do that. I didn’t want to alter my body. The operation wasn’t dangerous but I was sure I didn’t want to get operated.


Tattva is a spiritual colouring book, hand drawn by me using sacred geometry and universally recognised designs meant to allow the creative self within each person flow. It reduces stress and raises frequency. Once done, they fit together like puzzle pieces in numerous ways so one can create one’s own story and size with them



How did the spiritual colouring book, Tattva: An Aspect of Reality, happen?
When lockdown happened, I was in Pune at a close family friend’s place. My flight got cancelled. My heartbeat was still through the roof though it was better than before. I had some A3 sheets of paper and coloured pens. I thought let’s calm this heart. I have enjoyed painting since I was three. I wanted to paint something large so I decided to draw in sections as I wanted to focus on images that help calm the mind. After all, I would be staring at it for hours so it had to be designs that could have a positive effect. I shared the first sketch over WhatsApp with a friend who asked me if I could give her a copy to colour? She felt it would help her. Then another friend asked me and two days later, she asked for another copy. I asked if she had finished the first one? She said her mother-in-law wanted it so she gave it to her. Later, I saw the copy her ma-in-law had coloured and it was lovely. And then I decided that this colouring book, Tattva: An Aspect of Reality, would be for all so I designed the rest, a little less complicated, and finished it when I returned to Mumbai.

Success to you is…
Being happy! Most of the time.

What’s up next for Anaida?
I stopped planning after this illness and surrendered to the universe and go on to “discovering” what’s next rather than planning. I discovered when you align with your inner being and surrender to the universe, its planning is way better than ours. Universe can surprise and delight you at every step. But you must get out of the way of your own happiness. I finished two of these books this year. And currently finishing a meditation album in my healing practice. I have noticed what gets most affected in people during stress is sleep! To get good sleep is a first step to healing anything – to find solutions, to get aligned. Your physical body and your spirit, both need your body to sleep! The next meditation album is for sleep and is almost done.


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