The Sibling Bond – February 2016

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Living separately from the ones you love can be hard, but living apart from your sibling is a completely different ballgame. Tanya and Jash Balwani have lived apart since they were kids, in separate countries, and they tell us about how the bond of siblings can withstand any kind of distance

YOU HAVEN’T TECHNICALLY SPENT YOUR CHILDHOOD TOGETHER. SO WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN AN EXPERIENCE THAT YOU TWO BONDED OVER?
TANYA: We spent three years apart and then we stayed together for about 4 years, and now we stay in two different cities and it’s been almost a year now. The distance has only made us a lot more independent and yet at the same time a lot more supportive and protective of each other. So I guess living apart and leading our individual lives and figuring out our place in this world has been an experience that we’ve bonded over time and again. We don’t just wake up one morning and realize that so much has changed and we’ve grown up, in fact we get to see bits and pieces of it every now and then and that has a joy of its own.
JASH: We haven’t spent much time together, but every single minute with her has been like a bonding moment. From the late night movies we saw on laptop to the crazy dances we did, it all counted. But perhaps the most important thing was that we have always had each other’s back, with every mistake we have made.

IS IT HARD TO DEAL WITH LIVING SEPARATELY WITH SEPARATE PARENTS? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT?
TANYA: Our parents have lived apart for a significant amount of their marriage and it’s because of their work and careers but then again they find a way to make it work. We’ve never seen that as a negative aspect of our lives, rather we’ve always aimed to be as hard-working and driven when it came to our goals. And living apart as a family has only taught us to never take anything or anyone for granted. Being apart does get difficult at times for all of us but then we remind ourselves that home or family isn’t about whether or not we’re together or living under the same roof. It’s a lot like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions but our roots remain as one. JASH: It’s definitely hard to live separately in two different cities. But I guess we make do with all the memories we have made with each other. Recalling upon them from time to time makes me feel bit better in my heart.

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WHEN DID YOU FIRST START BONDING?

TANYA: There was never really a time or place where we started bonding or where or when we got closer. We were always tethered to each other but with every moment that we spent together and every argument or fight we had and will have, inevitably, and no matter how far apart we are, family will always be above all else.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE THINGS THAT YOU LIKE TO DO TOGETHER?
TANYA: We love binge watching and hogging on midnight snacks like there’s no tomorrow. That’s an actual excuse that we give our parents. Who knows there might not be a tomorrow and we need to know how Sherlock faked his death.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SIMILAR INTERESTS?
TANYA: A lot actually and that’s mostly because he likes to do whatever it is that I’m doing. In fact, he’s quite the charmer and mostly known to be the fun guy amongst my friends and I’m not always happy about that. He says that he likes to do it because it annoys me but then deep down everyone knows that he looks up to his older sister. I’m kidding but it doesn’t make it any less annoying, I guess all younger siblings are like that.
JASH: We do. Most of the things that I like to do, she’s already doing. I see her as my role model so whatever she does, I like to do the same.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT EACH OTHER?
TANYA: He likes the fact that he’s taller and stronger than me now. Thanks to adolescence he can totally beat me at wrestling but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. He’s better at cooking so that basically means I never have to step in the kitchen when he’s around. But no, on a serious note, what I absolutely admire about Jash is that he cares a lot about people in general and that’s what makes him special. It’s rare enough to know a person with that quality and to have someone like that as a brother; I honestly cannot express my gratitude in words.
JASH: I like her crazy ideas and her madness the most. She makes these crazy faces that crack me up all the time. But what I like most about her is that she has a very soft spot for me, and that’s fabulous.

TELL US ONE OF EACH OTHER’S MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENTS.
TANYA: Since we’re talking about the time that shall not be mentioned and we do have plenty of dirt on each other, we’ve come to a mutual agreement of sharing something that’s haunted us both for most parts of our childhoods, which are naked baby pictures. Parents need to know that they can be traumatizing for a kid between the ages 4 and 14.

WOULD YOU SAY YOU ARE MORE LIKE FRIENDS THAN SIBLINGS?
TANYA: We’re a lot like both. When we hang out or we’re doing something together, like travelling or a sport, we are a lot like friends but at the end of the day our bond is one that’s forged of stone, paper, scissors; all the elements of the universe, sweat, blood and Kryptonite. And nothing ever could compare to that.
JASH: You can actually say that we are a lot like both but at the end of the day, we are siblings and nothing in the universe can change that because it’s just perfect as it is.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF HAVING A SIBLING IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY ALTOGETHER?
TANYA: We were in two different countries for about three years, and I was 10 and he was 5 when I first moved to India and he was still in Hong Kong. The greatest challenge was not being able to be there for the important things like the kindergarten graduation, the birthdays, the camps and the school plays and having to be okay with just a phone or Skype call and a few pictures every now and then. Today, although we’re in two different cities the only way we get an idea of what we’re doing or what’s going on in our lives is through our Instagram and Twitter handles and it’s not that great of an experience.
JASH: We stayed apart for a while but then were lucky enough to stay together again, only 3 years after she moved to India. I was the happiest person in the world when we got to stay together for a bit. But now we’re apart again, and I can only hope it’s not for long.

Today, although we’re in two different cities the only way we get an idea of what we’re doing or what’s going on in our lives is through our Instagram and Twitter handles and it’s not that great of an experience.

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