|Born on||6th November, 1973|
|Born at||Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu|
|City of residence||Mumbai|
|Books authored||Seetayana: The Untold Journey [amazon asin=B00JVGR4IK&template=image&image=http://plusminusnmore.rapo.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Amazon-icon.png]|
|Bio||Uma is a Coimbatore born, Delhi-Coimbatore-Bangalore-Mumbai educated/lived person. She is passionate about learning and how people learn. She has been a Learning Consultant who has recently co-founded her own company which works in the area of Leadership and Team Development. She always needs to learn something new and the latest passion is Graphic Facilitation – the art of mapping conversations. She has a 4 year old daughter who is the inspiration for the book she wrote. She is a voracious reader and enjoys exploring different genres like mythology, science fiction, mysteries and philosophy. She lives in Mumbai with her husband, mum, mil and daughter.|
Fantastic Five – Five of my favourite books
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand Taught me the importance of following your passion and taking responsibiilty for yourself.
Women who run with the wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Eśtes Helps me explore the various aspects of myself and discover something new everytime I read it. I love the way each chapter begins with a fairy tale and each character of the fairy tale are related to the different aspects of our psyche.
James Herriot’s various books The story of a vet in rural Yorkshire, takes me on a journey of farming, animals and their lives.
All of P.G Wodehouse My tonic when I am down. The humor is infectious and helps me believe that not everything in the world has to be taken seriously.
Mahabharatha and its various versions My favorite epic, where the characters are grey and human. Currently, I am reading the original by Gita Press. Hopefully will finish it in the next five years.
Tell us about your earliest attempts at writing. When, where and from whom did you learn the nittygritties of writing?
I have always enjoyed writing – though have never written a story before Seetayana. But I have enjoyed the process of churning out assignments, projects and articles for in-house magazines in school and college and also some at the workplace. I am an avid reader and have enjoyed exploring the different styles of writing. I thank my teachers for whatever little I know and am able to do.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
The idea for Seetayana came from my then 3 year old daughter who asked me a question “Why did Seeta not escape from Lanka?” That set me thinking “Why not?”… From there Seeta as I saw her sprang forth.
What does your typical writing day look like?
I play games on the computer. Suddenly the idea pops up and I make notes and back to the game. The game helps me clarify my thoughts. As the deadline moves closer and closer, the game shuts down and writing starts. Hence I try and give myself deadlines, because otherwise I don’t work too well. I can go all over the place and thoroughly enjoy myself without getting anything done…
What is one habit / trait of yours that makes you effective / productive as an author?
I dream. I am willing to take risks to make the dream come true. I am impatient and hence would rather get it done than waiting too long for the right time, place, people everytime.
What is the one thing that you recommend every aspiring author should do?
Do it… Don’t wait for the right people, the right money, the right time and most importantly the right ending. When I started writing Seetayana, Seeta would have been an angry woman who refused to forgive the world for what she had to go through. However, as the story progressed, I met a friend who had gone through a painful marriage and yet had picked up her life and is the most positive person I know. So my Seeta changed and so did the ending. As you do, so shall you correct. As you correct, so shall you grow. And as you grow, so shall you do even better…
Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?
I am afraid of heights…
Does technology (the Internet, software tools) help you in your writing process? If yes, can you tell us about them?
Technology helps us in accessing a lot of information. It also helps us network with likeminded individuals. It would not be possible to gather such people together on the same platform without technology.
Is there any other way in which technology can help you in your work as writer?
If not for technology, and the concept of self-publishing or blogging, Seetayana might not have… rather would not have seen the light of the day. Facebook, and organizations like Women’s Web have helped me take the story to others. So I am very much indebted to technology. Technology helps you put your work out there, people are generous in sharing their thoughts with you and make your work better than it could have been otherwise. A lot of my friends write and have their blogs. Technology enables us to be heard.
Can you tell about what you are currently writing and other works in the pipeline?
Still waiting for a subject that I would feel as strongly about to write.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Ayn Rand : http://www.aynrand.org/
Society of Organizational Learning : http://www.solonline.org/
International Association of Facilitators : http://www.iaf-world.org/index.aspx
International Forum for Visual Practitioners : http://ifvpcommunity.ning.com/
In your book (Seetayana) you refer to Ram and Seeta as being divine avatars only at the very beginning – do you consider them as normal humans who were later deified? Comment.
I think they were human beings who are still considered benchmarks for human behaviour. The deification has its advantages that it provides us with role models. It is easy to help our children and others understand the concept of respect and bravery through such stories and characters. However, when we ascribe divine powers to them, we forget that they have their shades of grey.
Unfortunately, in the case of Seeta, the perceived docility and “Door-mattedness” has lead to many women trying to reach the state of non-living and men to expect their women (wife, daughters, sisters) to be like that. Like one of the readers said “It is easier when I don’t have to think so much about what is happening to me and blame it on society. It is more difficult to take the kind of stand that Seeta has taken in the story. This involves a lot of introspection and giving up of the comfort and security.” So even if we ascribe divinity, at a stage we need to look at the humanness of the Gods and look at what they could have done differently. Otherwise, we are being blind. One of the reasons why I love our mythology is Gods make mistakes and bear the consequences of their actions – How much more human can the Gods get?
Seeta, after facing all the indignity and humiliation of the Agnipariksha, still stayed on with Ram to fulfil her obligations as a dutiful wife. Later a pregnant Seeta is abandoned by Ram, in a forest, both, metaphorical and real. She raises 2 sons as a single parent, and yet she misses him when the twins are growing-up. Not stopping there she lets Ram take her sons away with him when they meet. Aren’t you setting her up (rather her actions) as an un-natural role model?
Let us take this up one by one. The Agnipariksha is a complex situation. Her relief at being rescued is destroyed. The husband who she was desperate to be united with was a stranger to her. He was hailed as the Lord by the huge army including Ravana’s brother Vibhishana. She was conscious of her feelings of anger coupled with wanting to find her love warring with the image of her husband in front of the army. We have all been through situations where there are too many thoughts and feelings battling for our attention and we are overwhelmed. I pictured Seeta being overwhelmed and just picking on one strand of “Let me not create a scene now” as her lifeline. Sometimes you just want to get through that moment – centuries of training kicking in… You would see that she feels dead inside. The love she had for Rama is dead.
Let us go to Ayodhya, where she gradually tries to re-create the same feeling of love she had for Rama. She succeeds partially – though this is not the unblemished love she had for him. Seeta, comes across as a person who is willing to give Rama another chance – who was willing to believe the best of him. When she is abandoned again, she again goes through the pain of separation. She goes through the period of trying to rationalise the abandonment – including wondering if it was a conspiracy to keep her child away from the throne. But when she accepts that she has truly been abandoned, she proceeds to build her life again. This process of building oneself a new life is not easy. She was married to a wonderful man – there was no fault you could find in Rama till the Agnipariksha and the subsequent abandonment. She had shared a life with him where they could understand each other even without words. He was her closest and probably the best friend. It is not unusual for her to miss Rama, her friend. I am sure she would have had dreams of how both of them would bring the child up and how he would be around to parent the child.
Let us look at the third stage where she lets her children go with him. I think it is the height of security and how well she has grown as a person. She has the courage to let the children go, to let them make the choice, even if it is against what she would have wanted. To me, this is the ultimate test of a person – Would she cling on to the children or would she have the ability to let them go and trust in their love for her? Would she have the ability to trust herself to find her purpose in life and not keep hanging on to her children as her anchor?
I think it is important for us as individuals to let our children go, after we have given them adequate nurturing and security. At this stage in my life, this is still a hypothetical situation. If I can let go of my daughter to craft her life, with as much grace and confidence as Seeta does, I would have succeeded as a person.
Another question that has come frequently, is why is Rama let off so easily? Yes!!! Seeta is angry. But Rama is not around to be the object of anger. Seeta goes through the phases where she misses him, feels angry with him and is overwhelmed with the love for him and at the same time seethes with his betrayal. However, once she realises that he is always going to give more importance to his subjects than what is right, she refuses to fight the battle of trying to get his attention and convince him. Her battle is with herself – the social norms, the price she has to pay for approval and her dignity.
If you were to rewrite Seetayana 10 years down the line, would you write it differently?
Maybe… I don’t know how I would be 10 years down the line. However, I would definitely like Seeta to have found nirvana a lot earlier. Even refuse the Agnipariksha or demand one from Rama too…