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'Suddenly, I had a crown!'

December 12, 2006
It's been 40 years, but some memories do not fade.

Before the Powells wed, they lived and worked alongside in Boston for a few years. They returned to Ireland in 1972 and never left. "This obviously became my home," she says, as she walks us through her sprawling house. Her husband is quick to point out that they have had the house for over three decades, and its value has shot up dramatically because the area has become one of the hottest spots in the city.

"The Irish certainly welcomed me here," she continues, in a soft accent which has a hint of her Mumbai grooming. "In fact, when I mentioned to a friend that I was to be interviewed for India Abroad (the Indian-American newspaper owned by, her first comment was: Why would they be interested in you?" Faria laughs. "Then she paused before saying, 'Of course, you are Indian!"'

She says the fact that she was Catholic too made a big difference. Television and newspapers showed pictures of her attending holy mass the day after winning the Miss World crown. "Back home, we went to mass daily," she says. "I try and do it even today."

There is no mistaking her passion for Catholicism. There are religious paintings and several religious objects, including a wooden crucifix from Goa, tastefully placed on the walls of her home.

Getting connected to the Irish was no sweat, she says, though she felt lonely after her return from America, until she made new friends. "Winning the title and going back to medicine instead of glamour must have made a huge impact on people," she muses. "I am just part of them."

Her Indian roots do come up in conversation now and then. "We had a government minister who used to live opposite us," she says, pouring Indian tea in her living room that has a special place for her Miss World trophy. "This gentleman visited Goa and met Pratapsinh Rane, then (and now) chief minister of the state. When he returned, he said, 'Everybody in India was talking about you. I don't know why you don't go into politics or do something else. What are you doing sitting at home?'

"This was about 10 years ago, when I had a little more energy than I do now. It might have been a career change."

Image: The night Reita Faria won the Miss World title

Photograph: Courtesy Reita Faria
Also read: The first Indian Miss Universe

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