Cabinet Shrestha is as calm as water with his laid back yet professional demeanor whereas Susan Shrestha is ready to conquer whatever is thrown at her. An amalgamation of two elements, both respect and admire each other and are always by each other’s side. They are the real corporate power couple who balance life, family and business without breaking a sweat. LIVING sat with these professional yet fun couple and asked to reveal their secret.
What are your backgrounds and how did you enter your respective fields?
SS: I am passionate about promoting Nepali art. I have been in this field for two decades. In fact I started out with Siddhartha Art Foundation which was in memory of my sister and sister-in-law. We had started out to give scholarships to five children. I then realized that contemporary art in Nepal, especially the artists were not being appreciated as much. So I wanted to do collaboration with them and since then I have been working the artists.
CS: I started Agni with only three people in 1991. It has been 27 years that I’ve been in the business industry.
How did you meet?
SS: OH! I was introduced to him by my late sister Jasmine. Just like young children then, we were loitering around in durbarmarg (she giggles). I walked into then famous ice-cream parlor Niraula’s. I was in sophomore in college. Back then we didn’t have emails and text messages but we used to write love letters to each other. Whenever I came back from my holidays, we used to meet at the Annapurna Coffee Shop.
CS: I was walking in and she was walking out. We were introduced briefly and then became a love marriage.
With three kids around you, who do you think is the “cool” parent?
SS: Let me answer she said. He says he’s the cool and I’m the strict (and has a hearty laugh). But if you ask my three kids the same question, is the reverse but now since they are older they confide to me and they know that I am the cool parent because if nowadays they need to go out or talk about anything. I am the “cooler” and he’s more like, why haven’t they come home or why are they out so late. So when it comes that as they are becoming young adults, I’m the cooler parent! Yes I used to be strict when it came to school and studies but now they have found friends in both of us more as a parent.
How have you managed parenting and business? When your kids have to make any decision who would they come first too?
Both: Since both of us are hands-on parents, it’s been very easy. Initially when the kids were growing up, we sent them to a boarding school in India and all our holidays used to be there. It was never difficult, all our kids are good. We’ve been blessed with obedient kids that didn’t trouble us much. Since we have an extended family, their grandparents also looked after their well-being and loved all of them dearly.
CS: I think it’s a 50/50 situation, depending on the problem. In terms of study, career and work they will come to me and if its more personal then of course all kids go to her, as no matter your age, you always need your mom. But they also come to us with both circumstances on the table.
How has life changed after marriage?
Both: A lot. We have been busy since the time we started the company. There is nothing we have inherited and we had to build the company with time. We have had a lot of ups and downs but when we look at it now it surely was a ride. Days pass by in snap and we’ve also celebrated our 26 years together. We feel young but then when we look at our kids, we’re like “Oh My God!” then we feel that we’re aging and years pass by like days.
When both of you get into disagreements who approaches the first?
CS: I think it’s a universal fact that any married couple will have a lot of disagreements. So we have our regular shares of arguments and that is normal. And most importantly, we put our professional shoes outside before we enter our home.
SS: The fact that we work together, doesn’t make it easier (laughs). We never discuss our work at home. When you come back home, you just want to be in a place where you just want to unwind and chill.
What do you like the most about each other?
No, you go first she says!
CS: We’re not just only husband and wife, we’ve been friends from the beginning. So it has been easy to do a lot of things together. Though our interest is opposites from like watching movies to different music genres, I like to eat while she prefers a healthy life.
SS: What I really appreciate about him is the fact that we can talk and even when I confide, I know that he’s still there for me and I can trust him. He lets me do anything I want and I can also easily get away with it (“I know she will always get away anyway,” says Cabinet with a grin). Because I understand I have friends you don’t have the liberty to do what they want. Even when I got married to a large family, he has really been supportive and given me freedom to do things my way. He had also never interfered about what I do with my family and my time and has never put restrictions on me. And yes, he spoils me too!
What’s the best gift you’ve given to each other.
CS: I like watches and she’s given me a couple of watches which I really like.
SS: He has given me a lot of things. I guess the biggest present is has given is being patient and impatient.
Any message you want to say to each other.
SS: I want to tell him that we’ve lasted for three decades, let’s hope we live another three decades together with patience, loyalty, trust and mostly love.
CS: We’ve been together for so long and if there’s anything I need to say to her I say it immediately. But she needs to chill out a little bit. Haha.