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Friday People with director of Arts Ekta's Nisha Tandon

The 57-year-old is the director of Arts Ekta and has just been awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. She lives in Belfast with her husband Vijay with whom she has three children Sonia (33), Natalie (30) and Krishan (25)

My husband, Vijay: We had an arranged marriage which is what you did in India which is where we're both from. That was back in 1977 and we came straight to Northern Ireland.

Vijay's family moved to Omagh in the 1950s – in fact, his father came here in 1949. All I knew of Northern Ireland was what I heard on the BBC news and it was all about the conflict. My father-in-law told me it wasn't as bad as that.

I've seen things with my own eyes but I've made very good friends from both communities here and it's been a very positive journey – I was welcomed with open arms.

My children

My kids were lovely children and they're still beautiful. My top priorities when I was bringing them up was being there for them and prioritising their education.

I only started working and going to night classes when they started going to school.

Sonia is a graphic designer with her own business, Natalie is now a teacher in Australia and Krishan is working in events management in London.

My best friends

Anne McGlade used to work for the Eastern Health and Social Board and that's how we met. We don't see each other that often but we do talk over the phone. She's a good friend that I can trust and talk to.

The other friend is Dympna McGlade – no relation to Anne – who I met when she worked in the policy division of the Community Relations Council. Through her I learnt a lot, and again we've become very good friends. Both of them are there for me.

My parents, Rajinder and Usha Bhatia

My father has passed away but my mum is still living in India. My dad was very high up in banking, working for an American company, and my mum looked after us. I also have a younger brother, Sanjay, and sister, Simi, who still live in India. I do get to see my family still. I go in the winter when the weather is pleasant and the last time I was there was in January.

My secret crush is ... John Travolta

He's too old now but I loved him back in the days of Saturday Night Fever. He's a great dancer and my children always talk about how much I like him!

Who I go to for advice

I probably go to my children and my son-in-law Darren, who is married to Sonia, because he's part of the family now. I like to talk things over with all of them and collectively they help me out.

My mentor

My mum. She's a very simple woman but a very intelligent lady and I see her as my role model.

My fantasy dinner party

I'd ask the late Nelson Mandela – his personality and what he did for the whole world has to be commended.

I'd also like Mahatma Gandhi for his views on peace and reconciliation and for what he did for India as a country.

I'd ask Victoria Wood, too, for a little light relief and I'd also invite the comedian Sanjeev Baskhar.

Nisha is on the committee of Boobie Nights, which will be presenting Boobie Bollywood at The MAC, Belfast, tomorrow to raise funds for the NI Cancer Fund for Children, Marie Curie and Artsekta. Tickets are available from www.boobienights.com

Belfast Telegraph

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