Poovani Subramaniam is a lady in the truest sense of the word. Slender and tall, she sits with her legs crossed, back straight, silky black hair tossed over her shoulders. The only time she really breaks out in a smile is when her 4-year-old son responds to my teasing. Otherwise, Poovani, 37-year-old audit manager in a bank and happily married for 8 years, remains composed and poised. Like I said, a true lady. Poovani recently returned from representing Singapore in the Mrs Globe 2013 pageant held from 20th to 27th October in Shenzhen, China. “I had lots of fun,” she tells me over a Starbucks Frappuccino. “It didn’t feel like a competition at all, mostly because everything was happening so fast. But there were little things that made a difference, like how we [the contestants] helped each other get ready, zipped up dresses for each other.” Eventually it was Mrs Asia, a Chinese citizen, who won the Mrs Globe 2013 title in Shenzhen, China, but Poovani didn’t come home to Singapore empty-handed. When special awards were handed out on Globe Awards Night, she took home the Difference Maker of the Year Award. Her good friend of 8 years had written in to the organization describing what a difference Poovani made in her life. The topic and subject matter was so convincing and genuine that it got the judges’ attention and secured her the special mention. Singapore’s representative in the international Mrs Globe 2013 pageant won her place when she participated in the local Mrs Singapore 2013 pageant at Orchid Country Club in May this year, and emerged victorious. But what few know is that in 1999, Poovani also participated in Miss Singapore World and came in as the 2nd runner up. As she puts it, “A pageant bug was biting me.” While we are talking, Poovani calls herself “a real beach bum” but try as I might, I can’t imagine her as anything other than a demure and quietly confident woman. Her answers in my interview are thoughtful, and she isn’t averse to taking a minute to think through her reply. She’s probably the sort of beach bum that brings along a book, her reading punctuated by sips from a tall glass of pina colada, complete with umbrella and all. And while she’s at it, I won’t be surprised if she returns with yet another title. How has your family reacted to your winning Mrs Singapore Globe 2013? They are all very supportive. I couldn’t have asked for more. During the preparations for Mrs Singapore 2013, my mother was a huge help. She took care of my son which gave me more time to commit since schedules were back-to-back. My husband drove me around. He’s been very supportive. A trusting man. (pauses) To be honest, my colleagues expected me to change after winning but I am still the same person. What would winning Mrs Globe 2013 mean to you? I like the concept, in that you get a change to give to society, organise charity events. It gives otherwise normal people a chance to do something and make a real difference. I have been so focussed on myself in the past so this is an excellent platform to help others. There’s a quote by Mother Theresa: ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love’. I believe in those words. Other than your mother, who do you think is the most beautiful woman in the world? Aishwarya Rai. She is beautiful and talented. After watching her crowned Miss World, I was inspired to take part in Miss Singapore World. Are you an evening gown or saree kind of girl? It depends on the event and organizer. I will wear a cheongsam if it’s a Chinese event. But personally, I find the saree is the sexiest and most elegant outfit. It’s really got everything. Class, elegance, sophistication and a little peek-a-boo. Some people think beauty pageants are shallow parades of beauty. What do you have to say to them? As a viewer, I always thought beauty pageants were easy. All you have to do is look beautiful and walk around. But to be part of a pageant is not easy at all. I cannot stress this enough. The schedule is really hectic and more challenging when you are a working mum. You need to exude confidence all the time, and every winner has a duty to help societies. It’s much more than just a show. Tell our readers a little more about your experience in China. It was my first time in China. The weather was pleasant and cooling, and 37 delegates from all over the world were there and experiencing the same things together. Basically, there were 8 days of beauty travel events, outings, photo shoots and back-to-back rehearsals. We stayed at the Westin and travelled every day to an auditorium called Jems Cube for all our rehearsals. What kind of outings? On our fifth day, we went to the Fairy Lake Botanical Garden in Shenzhen followed by a shopping mall trip. We visited an orphanage for disabled children on the sixth day. Distributed stuffed toys to the children, spent some time with them. After all that, it was back to the auditorium for rehearsals! The organizers also organized a club night for some drinks and relaxation. That was on the third day. Did anything interesting happen in China? (laughs) Yes. A lot of people were really confused about me. They thought I was representing India because I’m an Indian. I explained that Singapore is a multi-racial country. So, on International Cultural Night in Shenzhen, I performed to a Bollywood song wearing accessories and gold sequin saree sponsored by Amba Ji and a very pretty bangle set designed by Vinod from Bangles by Vinod. The response to my whole look was really positive! What is your favourite memory of Little India? Little India has a lot of fond memories for me. While growing up, I used to visit the temples during festive occasions with my family. It’s extra special because I got married at Perumal Temple! If there is one message you can send to the world, what would it be? Nothing is impossible. Special Note: Poovani Subramaniam would like to extend her sincere thanks to ERM, the local organiser, “for the support and for believing in me”. Check out Poovani’s Facebook fanpage for more pictures of her at the Mrs Globe 2013 pageant.