Hi, and welcome to #TalkbackTuesday. This week’s interview is with Ms. Bijin Davis. See her interview below.
Talkback Tuesday is a weekly interview with everyday people. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another person and realize it is just as complex and large and confusing as your own.
1. For the readers, who are you, what do you do, and what is your current side project?
Okay so I’m Bijin, 24 years old. Born in Japan but came to Kerala when I was 2 and so I’ve lived literally my whole life there. My mom is Japanese and my dad is [Malayali] so I suppose I’ve grown up in a space with mixed cultures and habits.
I’m thankful to my mom for getting me into painting as a child. She used to oil-paint and my dad used to be into fixing random things in the house so he would make me help him hammer things on. And I think a mix of the two led me to thinking I want to be in the creative field – design and make things that could make people’s day or be useful otherwise.
So I went to Srishti School of Arts, Design and Technology to pursue my dreams of being a graphic designer. But I realized I liked to feel what I create, not just see it. That’s when I got into making furniture.
I graduated as a product designer, but my passion is designing furniture and I’m lucky to be in Urban ladder to be able to do just that.
My other love in life is my dogs. I wouldn’t call it a side project but I’ve been volunteering as a foster parent with this NGO – Let’s Live Together in Bangalore, since my 3rd year in college (so I think 2013).
But I always knew I wanted to somehow help these helpless dogs or animals. My mom loves dogs and I’ve grown up having a farm, back when I was young, at my grandparents’ home in Kerala. So I got used to having goats, cows, and hens around me. My mom’s home in Japan at its peak had about 26 dogs.
I wasn’t supportive of the idea of having that many but I got to be with a lot of them my whole life. And so I dropped all kinds of meaty food except chicken when I was 9, and dropped chicken when I was 18 . So I’ve been vegetarian since then.
Currently I’ve been fostering two adorable babies from my NGO. Their names are Chia and Oats, and they’re siblings. I also have three adorable babies back at home in Kerala. Sakura is my mom’s dachshund but the other two, Judo and Jimmy, are mine.
I found Judo as a pup in a gutter near my home, and found Jimmy in Bangalore. Jimmy can’t use one of his legs. I flew him down to Kerala to be with Judo. My dogs are a huuuge part of who I am.
I also loooove to cook and bake. Being vegetarian really helped me get into it. It was a big change converting and I decided that I needed to cook and eat good vegetarian food.
I love to sketch and paint too but I’ve barely had the time to do so with the dogs and work lately. It’s a lot of responsibility. I have to make sure I take them out to play in the morning before work and we play 30 to 45 mins of ball in the evening and run around. That takes up most of my time.
In a Glance: Bijin is half-Japanese and Malayali, and loves culture of all kinds. She is a furniture designer at Urban Ladder and works with an NGO – Let’s Live Together. She is a foster parent to two adorable dogs, Chia and Oats, and has 3 dogs at home.
2. Tell me about Chia and Oats. You mentioned you grew up with a farmyard full of animals. What do those two bring to your life? On a daily basis, what kind of moments have you had that reaffirm your faith in animals and the need for their care?
Well I think all dogs are like people. They all come with such distinct personalities. And just like us humans they have their pros and cons.😛
I think what’s most important is how unconditional and dependent they are on you. I can feel it when I look into their eyes and I love coming home to their love at the end of a long day at work.
It’s amazing because we do everything together. We’ve become a pact. We wake up together, and have our fixed routines. They wait outside my bathroom door first thing in the morning while I brush and freshen up. Then we go to the kitchen and while I make their breakfast, I make my tea and so they eat while I have my tea.
And I get ready and take their rope. They know I don’t leave without a walk so they start following my feet literally after I’m ready.
Sadly, they are left alone at home the whole day, but they have each other. The cutest thing is coming home to them. They act like I haven’t seen them in a year. I almost can’t even open my door because they keep pushing!
It also gets tough many times because they are potty-trained but we are very attached to each other so they go nuts when I’m at work. So many cushions and shoes that I’ve had in the living room have been destroyed. When they were younger I used to come home to the house wreckeeeddd! Once I even came home to a dozen eggs cracked everywhere.
I almost wanted to cry and thought maybe I can’t do this. But I know I will never give up on them as they would never on me. I don’t think I can ever explain the faith in animals. You have to feel it to understand it.
Chia is also a major cuddler, so she sleeps with her head on my shoulder or tummy, whereas oats is our alpha protector, so he sleeps by my feet.
3. Let’s switch gears to your work. How did you discover that you loved furniture design, and what excites you about your work at Urban Ladder? Also, what’s the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping for furniture?
My granny in Japan used to be obsessed with buying furniture and decor products from all over the world. She was pretty well off back in the day, and so in our home in Japan, we had many kinds of furniture from Italy, France, and different parts of Japan.
So my mom brought a couple of them to India when she got married to my dad. Possibly for that reason, I’ve had an obsession with wanting to buy good looking furniture, a chair or couch, anything really!
A huge part of your space at home is the furniture and it really changes the feel of your room. Whatever little way you do up your room, it’s who you are as a person. I wanted to be a part of designing something that people can see themselves in. It brings people together. 🙂
As obvious as the answer sounds now, the most exciting thing is getting to design furniture, ha ha! But it’s not just that. I’ve learnt a lot and I always keep growing as a designer being surrounded by many talented, like-minded people. I love the work culture there. We really respect each other’s taste and opinions and it helps me see things from their eyes too, which is great.
Urban Ladder is a workplace but we are all friends. It’s so nice to be able to hang out with the people you work with.
The most important thing to keep in mind? There’s never a rule book when it comes to shopping for furniture. Taste is always subjective. Is it the color? The material? The comfort? Size? So many things to think about!
Shop for what makes you happy, 🙂 – what fits your taste. If you are confused and need help from an interior designer to help put things together, go for it!
4. Awesome. So you’re someone who’s found a degree of professional and personal passion, with your work and your dogs. If you had to give people 3 pieces of advice related to pet care (especially with a day job), what would they be?
Haha yeah, I guess you can put it that way. I think you have to do what makes you happy in life, even if it can be hectic juggling things.
- NEVER take up the responsibility of adopting a dog unless you have tried fostering one. Start with being a volunteer at an NGO. Foster parenting is temporary and heartbreaking, but it’s a good kind of heartbreak. Every dog is different and every person has a different tolerance to handling things perfectly. Having a pet is like being a parent. You have to give it your all. A pet comes with nearly 15 years of commitment, so it would be a shame to adopt and have to give them up or not do enough.
Train them when they are young. Just because they are small and cute doesn’t mean they don’t need discipline. It’s going to take a toll on your relationship with them otherwise. Their misbehavior will always be your responsibility.
If your pets are naughty and hyper (as mine are), you need to think of ways to help them let it out. They’re just like us. They need change too. They get bored waiting for you at home all the time, especially if you have a single dog and you work full time.
It’s quite sad for the dog as they won’t have any means of entertainment. So take them to the park on weekends. Even if you’re meeting friends for football or beer or a meal, take them with you! There’s tons of pet-friendly places these days that makes it easy for you to spend your day out with them too. I go to Cubbon park pretty often with my cuties. It’s amazing to see them happy and making other dog friends.
In a Glance: Don’t adopt unless you have fostering experience. Train pups early. Dogs need entertainment and variety too.
5. Great. Finally, what can you leave the audience with? What should they explore next?
I always like to think about things positively and live in the moment. I hate planning for my future or overthinking about what I want to do. When you put your mind to something, you can always do great things, even if you have a rocky start.
I would never say that I’ve had it easy. For a year after graduating, I did almost nothing productive as I was super under-confident. I retreated into a shell and tried learning things on my own. I freelanced until I was confident enough to send a job application to Urban Ladder, interning for 6 months initially.
With the dogs, it’s a lot of effort and I am always tired. I don’t get much time for myself apart from weekends. But you ALWAYS have to look at the bigger picture. Is it all worth it?
Even with being vegetarian — I could have ignored the idea of the killing of animals. I’m a huge foodie and I’ve always loved the flavor of non-veg food, but the life of anyone [an animal] wasn’t worth it.
Thank you for reading Talkback Tuesday! Did you enjoy it?
Next, check out the previous interview from last Tuesday with Budhaditya Bose by clicking on the image below. Budhaditya Bose talked to us about IT, creativity, fear, and depression. Budhaditya is a former IT guy and current musician finding his legs through his page, Bose Sounds.