Friday, November 27, 2009

an article I wrote in Times of India

This is the unedited version of the article that appeared in Times of India of 27th November 2009 in the Chennai supplement called idiva - Devika
Vishalam Ramanathan sits surrounded by the umpteen bouquets of flowers sent by genuine admirers… overwhelmed with a big surprise party she received on her entering her sixtieth year. A woman I consider truly free, yet completely immersed in life. She is like a drop of water on a lotus leaf. There, yet not there. Completely present but untouched by the travails of life around.. amazing grace… she seems to be always aware of the totality and hence always functioning with her total attention to what she is doing at the moment whether it is getting a government minister to listen to her or tending to the unwell son of a watchman or doing the ritual obligations at home or sweeping the floor or cleaning the toilet…. So the richest and poorest rubbed shoulders in embracing her on her birthday…
This must be the kind of woman Paulo Coelho thought of while asking people to follow their dreams. Listen to your hearts says Coelho, there is essential wisdom in it and learn to read the omens strewn along life’s path and above all follow your dreams….
We live in fragments.. We are one thing at the office another at home, we talk about democracy but at heart we want people to do our bidding. The self as J.Krishnamurthy says is a complex entity moving, living, struggling, wanting, denying, with pressures and stresses and influences of all sorts continually at work on it.
True freedom is when a woman decked top to bottom in gold and diamonds can walk alone in the streets in the middle of the night without fear of being mugged said Gandhi. He was dreaming of a utopia where every one was good. But then freedom is also feeling empowered in a restricted space through a belief in oneself and in the goodness of being. None of the agonies of suppression, nor the brutal discipline of conforming to a pattern has led to truth says JK to come upon truth; the mind must be completely free, without a spot of distortion.
What do we want to break away from? Fear? Pain? I would say we want to break away from Sexism. I do not understand for the life of me, why in a marriage, the girl’s family is lower in status. They host the wedding and listen to every whim and fancy of the groom’s people. When it is the girl’s family that is losing something. They are losing a child they have brought up with loving care and the groom’s family gains a woman who is to become a full time cook, nurse, caretaker, house keeper, a sexual partner for the young man and the mother of his children. Why? Why then should the girl’s family feel they are obliged to bend backwards to please the groom’s family? Should it not be the other way round? Only daughters can change this if they decide marriage is not the be all and end all of a girl’s life and that they will not brook humiliation at marriage and turn down a proposal if there is any demand for pampering by the groom’s family. Fear of what people will say keeps girls from doing what they want to do. The Bharathanatyam dancer Bragha Bessel was surprised when a proposal for marriage to a British citizen came through the theosophical society. She wondered what people will say. I told her marry him if you want to. People will of course talk but they will talk for three days and then find something else to talk about. If you want to break free the first thing to break free from is the fear factor. When I decided to live on my own, there were eyebrows raised. How can a single woman live on her own in our society? Is not an unmarried woman to be looked after by parents or brothers even if she is over forty? But I was convinced that it does not take people more than a fortnight to know who you are. Then they will accept you. “First they will laugh at you, argue with you and then they fight you and then you win”
Feminist theory argues that sexism is a result of male values of aggression and dominance. I would argue that this difference is the result of conditioning and cultural forces. While many would agree that the family is a trap, most reject the idea that the existence of class society is an important factor. The key to emphasise is a need for change in men’s' attitudes. But let us face it why would they want to change their attitude when the status quo is to their advantage. Let us also face the fact that no matter how attitudes change, men are as powerless as individuals in regard to their working conditions as women are in their situations. Here and there come men who break out of their circumstance go after their dreams. So do women. Even women in trapped situations.
All it calls for is a dream and courage.. fly … jump …….it is after all your own destination…

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Samudhra magazine for the arts awarded "Gnanasamudhra" title to V.R.Devika for her work in linking arts and education during their 7th anniversery celebration on 15th November 2009. The award was presented by philonthrophist Nalli Kuppuswamy Chetty and Mrs.Y.G.Parthasarathy, dean and director of Padma Sheshadri Schools. Dr.Srinidhi Chidambaram inaugurated the function by lighting a kuthuvilakku and Mr.Natarajan, former director of Doordarshan and Mr.Nagai Muralidharan participated. The citation reads "Samudhra is proud to confer the title "Gnana Samudhra" on V.R.Devika art educator, writer and critic during its 7th anniversary celebration in recognition of her innovative approach in linking art and education and using it as an effective tool especially among children. May God Almighty bless her with long life and strength to continue rendering service towards the cause of fine arts" signed by Dr.Nalli Kuppuswamy Chetti, Patron and Dr.Radha Bhaskar, editor.
more pictures at

Sunday, November 1, 2009

picture of a boat

the name of this boat caught my attention!