They’re young, dynamic and making all the right moves. They’re doing things differently. They’re innovators. They’re poised to make the future, for themselves and for their respective industries, very interesting. In a noisy, notification-filled world where it’s easy to get jaded and ignore everything, they’re getting noticed. And they’ve just gotten started.
What are we going on about? A group of young achievers who have earned their place in the Friends of Audi programme. There’s no contest, or form or application for it. Audi, to encourage young innovators, has this programme to find and work with people who are making waves in their respective fields. It is an initiative to work with people who are most likely to have significant influence on the future of their respective fields. But it’s not without its dose of fun. Audi brought a group of these innovative young people together at the Buddh International Circuit for a day on the track with a fleet of fantastic Audi cars. And what a fleet it was – Audi TT, Audi RS7, Audi RS6, Audi S5, Audi A6, Audi A4, Audi A3 and the Audi A3 Cabriolet – all in perfect tune to blow everyone’s minds.
Let’s find out a little bit about our young achievers and their track day.
Anahita Dhondy, Chef Manager, Sodabottleopenerwala
“Every conversation was ‘what is the next meal?’ in our house.” Anahita Dhondy comes from a home where food is passion. It turned out to be her calling too, when she discovered at the age of 10, that she was a really good baker. And she enjoyed it too. By 14, she realised becoming a chef was her calling. Food-focused education and work experience followed. It finally came to a head with Sodabottleopenerwala which became a huge hit and has now expanded to six locations. While Anahita thinks that what she does is an extension of her own personality, it was clearly something that made her stand out. Audi noticed, and invited her to this programme. “Fast cars and a kitchen are similar in so many ways. It’s a rush when you get 20 or 30 orders in one go. It’s the same rush that I get when I’m driving. It’s an experience that leaves you so energetic. It’s [Audi] is so comfortable and easy to drive. I’m enjoying myself. I definitely look forward to more track days.”
Bhumika Bhatia, Photographer
“I never wanted to become a photographer. But I was always interested in art. I used to paint first, then I started sketching; then I started writing. It’s been seven years that I’ve been doing this.” Audi saw the art in her photography and connected with her. “It’s been almost a year since I’ve been associated with the brand. It’s been a great experience. Now I am a car person because of Audi.” And what does she think of the track day? “Nice! This is my second time.”
SPAG (Solo Percussive Acoustic Guitarist)
Dhruv started learning the piano when he was 7. His mother told him women fawn over pianists. Not knowing what to do with that information, he eventually found his way to the guitar. “I was very excited to see what this instrument [guitar] could do. It was really fun to learn.” Learn he did. And experiment. His inventiveness was noticed by a brand Dhruv thinks is quite inventive too, Audi. “This [an Audi car], is the experience. You sit in the car and you enjoy the atmosphere. It gives you the feeling that you don’t want to leave. And we’re sitting on a racetrack, driving Audi cars; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m lucky enough to get to do it twice.”
Anjali Batra, Food Talk India
“My job started purely with my passion and love for food. We started by creating a melting pot for all conversations around food. Before we realised, we grew to an exponentially large audience. We curate amazing food experiences and work with some amazing brands, like Audi. It’s one of the most progressive brands. We finally found a brand that understands luxury in the space it is today. Audi is outgoing, it’s aspirational; it’s a great brand. My reaction [to being invited to this programme] was ‘Hell, yeah!’. This is my opportunity to let my wild side out. It’s fun, it’s interesting; I’m loving it. The power of that machine is amazing!”
Shuchir Suri, Food Talk India
“Food Talk is the only thing in my life that started by accident. Everything I’ve done in my life is through my passion. My passion for food got me into this business. My real passion for cars came when Audi gave me the opportunity to get a real feel of the car.” Audi understands what it’s like to be driven by passion, and invited Shuchir to its programme. He was thrilled to be a part of it. And his time on the track? “The day has been great!” He thinks everything about Audi is young and fast.
Suchita Salwan, Founder & CEO, Little Black Book
“I think Audi, as a brand, resonates with people who want to live life more interestingly, want to be adventurous and have fun while working hard. I think that’s why Audi, as a brand, clicks with us and what we do.” What they do is run Little Black Book, India’s fastest growing local discoveries platform. They want you to fall in love with your city, celebrate it every single day through their content.
Dhruv Mathur, Co-founder, Little Black Book
“This experience has been fantastic. I didn’t know what to expect when I was coming here, but it’s been absolutely off the hook trying to learn how to drive these beautiful, powerful machines. It’s a brilliant opportunity. I hope I can own one someday.”
Shereen Bharwani, Creative Director &
Beauty Director, Love and Other Bugs
Love and Other Bugs is a high- fashion and lifestyle platform for brands to connect with customers, and a place where young women can find fashion- related inspiration. Driven by figuring out what’s next, how they can make things bigger and better has helped get them recognised. It also made them perfect candidates for Audi’s programme. “There’s a term in fashion called ‘Sports Luxe’ that you use to describe really sporty, luxury outfits and I think [Audi] is the definition of sports luxe. It’s such a fashionable car. It’s sporty, luxurious, chic and it looks beautiful.” That’s when it’s standing still. She experienced it on the track too. “This has probably been the most memorable day of my life. This is the first time I’ve driven properly. My first driving experience ever is driving an Audi at BIC.”
“Audi, as a brand, is a perfect mix of class, sport and luxury.
My experience here has been amazing. They make very sexy cars. Just gorgeous,” said Trishala about her time with the Friends of Audi programme.
Nishka Lulla, Fashion Designer
“It feels great [to be a part of the Friends of Audi programme] because I love Audi. It’s classy and sporty. The design is very progressive.” And Nishka Lulla, being a creative and contemporary fashion designer, has great insight into what makes for good design. “Audi has a little bit of everything. Being driven really fast around the track was quite a different experience.”
Sharmila Nicollet, Professional golfer
“I’ve always loved cars. I’ve been into racing and modifications since I was a kid. Being associated with Audi is a complete connection for me. I feel safer driving an Audi. Being a car fanatic and an adrenaline junkie, I think this is the ultimate playground. It’s been absolutely thrilling.” This award-winning pro golfer’s enthusiasm for cars was evident when she was behind the wheel. In fact, she was the quickest of all the guests. “Pressure enhances my performance. I love speed. It’s a great experience.”
Soundarya Jayachandran, Musician
According to Soundarya, music comes naturally to her. Her work is what she does to relax. It’s probably what helped her music stand out when Audi was selecting people for the Friends of Audi programme. “It was crazy because it was really random. I got a message on my official Facebook page saying ‘Hey, we’re picking you as one of the youth ambassadors from Bengaluru.’ It was an incredible feeling.” Serendipitous, since Soundarya has always been fond of Audi. “[Audi] is classy, sophisticated and powerful; everything I want to be.” And what did she think about her track day? “It was incredible. It’s a real privilege to drive these cars.”
Aditya Patel, Racing driver
Aditya has been racing Audi’s GT3 car for the last three years. A car that shares 50 percent of its parts with the Audi R8. “It was 2012 when Audi approached me saying they wanted a young racing driver as a development driver. I never imagined being selected by a manufacturer. There’s nothing direct, but in a way, you’re giving them feedback to develop a car for the road”. He does events with Audi for 20 weekends a year. As an instructor, it’s interesting for him to see how participants feel when they’re on track. The most interesting thing about being associated with Audi is that it’s still young, dynamic, sporty. They’re a fun brand. That’s a point that everyone present would heartily agree with.