(1994) Message to Miss World 1995 contestants

Sun City, they call it …and with my first visit to this exotic location in young, free South Africa, dawned a new chapter in my life… one with the coveted title of “Miss World 1994-95”, an experience that has been enriching, enhancing and one that I shall truly treasure for a long time to come.

I was a second year student of architecture and a professional model when I came to represent my country on an international platform along with 86 other young girls from countries all over the world, through four exciting, fun filled though hard working weeks, involving media calls, interviews, rehearsals and fashioning garments for a show (under the guidance of Iman), raising funds for Operation Hunger, together being the key spirit … a once-in a-lifetime experience. And what more could one ask for than an audience with President Mandela himself, a man deservedly admired and respected the world over for his contributions towards humanity. With the end of this dream-like period of a month with such special beautiful girls (many of whom have remained friends), began my life as Miss World.

Media calls, fashion shoots, interviews and the beginning of a whirlwind lifestyle had begun. But the first high point was my homecoming organised by Pradeep Guha of the Times of India, a grand reception spread over 5 days in Delhi and Bombay (my home town) and an audience with my Prime Minister, the President and Mrs Sonia Gandhi. The love and respect showered so freely by the people of my country was a very touching and moving experience for me.

My world travels included many countries, each one being special, unique and memorable in its own way: attending glamourous evenings in France and Germany, or raising funds in London for the women and children in Bosnia; fashion shoots and shows in Amsterdam, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and visits to Houston, Jamaica and exotic countries like Bermuda and South Africa was a treat; attending a peace conference in Sri Lanka and the Telethon in Iowa through Variety International; a state visit to Lithuania was very interesting, what with it being a relatively new country, as was the visit to Nepal, where meeting the Queen Aishwarya was memorable, since we share the same first name. The various episodes and experiences of this fabulous year was the best gift I could have received.

The year also broadened my horizons in every sense, helping me to truly break free of the barriers set up by man, of nationalities, gender, age and status, and helped me evolve as a person. It has undoubtedly opened doors to many opportunities, but it has also given me tremendous confidence as this year has brought me closer in touch with myself. This has given me a clearer perspective, as I now look upon life as a world-person, and I am glad to be part of the Family, created solely by an experience like the Miss World Contest.

Yes, it has been a very busy year and I’ve tried my best to do full justice to the privilege I was given and from it I have taken the wealth of knowledge and experience and am now ready to transcend into the reality of next year, glowing, enthusiastic and excited about yet another beginning, constantly pursuing excellence.

Here’s wishing the very best to all the contestants this year. It’s definitely hard work, but well worth it, and don’t forget to enjoy yourselves, and you can do it to the maximum by simply being yourselves.

So … “Do not pretend – Be”
“Do not promise – Act”
“Do not just dream – Realise it!”
Oceans of love, and luck and happiness on every wave.

– Aishwarya Rai – Miss World 1994

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