chessbase india logo

The Tigress of Madras: Aruna Anand (3/3)

by Sagar Shah - 26/03/2018

The final part of the interview with the Tigress of Madras Aruna Anand! While in the first two parts we got to know Aruna better, in the third part we turn up the heat with rapid fire questions! For each question Aruna has very less to time decide on her answer and this gives us some great insights into the mind of one of the greatest managers in the world of chess. India is lucky to have an icon like Vishy Anand and Vishy Anand is lucky to have a pillar like Aruna in his life!  

In case you have missed it,

Tigress of Madras: Aruna Anand Part I

Tigress of Madras: Aruna Anand Part II

Through the two parts of  the interview with Aruna we got to know about her childhood, how she got married to Anand, how seamlessly she transitioned from a girl knowing nothing about chess to one of the best managers in the chess world, how she handles Anand's losses, what have been the biggest challenges in Anand's chess career and transition from a wife to a mother and wife. In the third part we get to know Aruna better through these rapid fire questions.

Aruna answers the rapid-fire questions with great candidness! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

1. Rajnikant or Kamal Hasan

Very tough one but I will go with Rajnikant.

2. Amitabh Bachchan or Aamir Khan

Aamir Khan - childhood flame. I really liked him. In 2001 when Anand had won his World Championship, there was a felicitation ceremony in Bandra, Mumbai. We reached there and the organizers said that Aamir is coming. When I got to know this, I went upto Anand and said, "Please make sure that the seat next to Aamir is empty. Don't sit on it!" Anand agreed on the condition that I won't salivate! I have to behave myself (laughs). The words didn't come freely but I did speak to him!

Aamir Khan, the bollywood superstar, is one of Anand's biggest fans

3. Masala Dosa or Pizza

Dosa.

4. Classical chess or blitz

Classical. Blitz sometimes gets too tense.

5. Kasparov or Karpov

I would have to say both here. Both are great players.

Aruna and Kasparov in 2010

6. Formals or Casuals.

Casuals.

7. Morning or a night person?

I started out as a morning person, but have now ended up as a night person.

8. Chennai or Madrid

Chennai

Anand and Aruna spent many years of their married life outside India, but Aruna always remained an Indian at heart! | Photo: Frederic Friedel's archives

9. First World Championship that Anand won or the recent World Rapid title

The first one will always be the first one. The recent one seeing the circumstances that it came under I would say it's very special.

10. ChessBase or ChessBase India

Because ChessBase they do not talk to me anymore. (laughs)

Aruna has been a good friend of ChessBase since many years. In the above picture, she is in the ChessBase office in 2011. 

11. Monty Python or Narcos

Narcos. I liked Spanish a lot and I was very fluent at it a few years ago. In fact nearly as fluent as my English. I used to read books like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and others and enjoyed it.

SS: So Spanish English and Tamil are the languages you speak?

AA: Hindi also, but very little.

SS: Tumhara Hindi acha hai (Is your hindi good?)

AA: Bahut acha nahi but.. (Not very good but...)

SS: Anand se acha hai (Better than Anand) ?

AA: Anand se 100% (100% better than Anand!) I learnt Hindi in school and have lived in Delhi so I do know some Hindi!

Your favourite vacation spot:

We like going to Germany a lot because Anand trains there and all of us enjoy there a lot.

Your favourite book

I like books written by Jhumpa Lahiri a lot. The words are so beautiful that you can visualize everything what she is writing.

A good book has been Aruna's companion at many tournaments in the past | Photo: Frederic Friedel's archives 

Your favourite restaurant in the world

Anand jokes that any restaurant is fine for me now, because I am cooking so regularly at home these days! (laughs)

Your favourite pastime with Akhil

Akhil is a very creative child, so most of the times he leads and I just follow him. But very often we are just goofing off! The best time is in the night when after dinner Anand and Akhil have this pillow fight and all different sorts of fun fights! Normally it ends very badly for Anand. Akhil is in complete control (laughs). Anand has usually lost his slippers, he is asking Akhil to not touch his phone or glasses! Literally begging! And then Anand tells me, but with you he never does all of this. And I say for him I am the plain vanilla ice-cream and you are the chocolate sauce! Akhil loves to tease Anand. Many of the times when the two are together I worry about Anand!

The happy trio! 

Favourite hangout place with Anand and Akhil

I like swimming a lot. Three of us enjoy it! Most of the times I am the mute spectator. Also there Anand is yelling at Akhil, Don't do that, don't jump in the water! And then Akhil jumps in and Anand says, "You did it!"

Anand's favourite dish cooked by you 

I started cooking because of Anand. Before marriage I had never really cooked. In fact I did not like this idea of cooking. And now I enjoy it a lot. Supposedly I am the best cook of the family! I love cooking, I love baking.

 

Anand will eat anything. Initially I would give him burnt food, some of it even I couldn't eat, how was he eating it. He would say, "It's a choice between eating cereals or this, so I prefer this!" This also shows that Anand is an extremely simple person. Sometimes he comes to Mumbai and people ask him where he would like to go and for him the simplest restaurant is often the best.

 

Generally he likes all kinds of cuisines. So that's how I started improving. The joke in our family is that only when Anand is at home do I actually cook good food! When he is at tournaments and Akhil and I are at home, I am usually cooking just about anything! The maid tells me only when Anand is there is when I am actually planning about what to cook and what would be the best meal for him!

 

SS: This planning of food is for his health and fitness or just in general.

AA: It's just to cook things what he likes. Generally we eat everything that is healthy. Once in while he does make an exception. For example Anand always says that I can make an exception for chocolate cake. Since Akhil has grown up I have started baking a lot of chocolate cakes and I tell Anand this is for Akhil. And Anand always says, "I can have one piece. I will go to gym tomorrow for sure!"

Your favourite dish cooked by Anand.

My favourite dish cooked by Anand is him opening a box of cereals! (laughs)

A mandatory selfie at the end of the interview!

Rapid fire in video format:

This video is worth watching for the liveliness and the enthusiasm with which Aruna answers the questions!

Epilogue:

I have always tried to wonder what makes the World Champions different from other grandmasters. Apart from their natural talent for the game of chess, I think it is extremely important to have a good team of people around you. An elite chess player works day in and out sharpening his opening repertoire, or polishing his tactical skills, or fine-tuning his endgame knowledge. In such a scenario the last thing he wants to do after a heavy practice session is to correspond with people, or read contracts, or book tickets, or apply for visa! All of this work, is quintessential for a player's success and many of them have to do it on their own. Even those who have a manager cannot 100% bank on the intentions of the person working for them. In Anand's case he had absolutely no worries about all of this. Aruna took care of literally everything that didn't concern the 64 squares.

 

This saved a lot of energy for Vishy and it always showed in crucial encounters. Today Anand is a five-time World Champion and Indian chess has reached a level where it can challenge superpowers like Russia and other Eastern European countries. A huge credit for this goes to Anand. And a huge credit for Anand's success goes to Aruna. The woman who has always been working in the shadows to ensure that nothing goes wrong for Vishy. ChessBase India would like to thank Aruna for her consistent and selfless contribution to the game of chess. As a reader rightly said, "Aruna ma'am, we thank you for taking care of the God of Indian chess!"

The duo who popularized chess in India! - Anand and Aruna