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Geeta Gopalakrishan

Geeta Gopalakrishan

Geeta Gopalakrishan

Please tell us about your experience of being brought up by your grandmothers?

We lived in a large joint family in Hyderabad, both maternal and paternal. I was brought up in a very protected and extremely conservative environment.
Till I was 18, I was chaperoned everywhere. Our chauffer dropped me school, picked me up and took me around. I was not allowed to go for birthday parties, shopping sprees or any outings with my friends.
In a scenario like this, my grandmother became my closest friend and confidante. She instilled in me a sense of balance and exposed me from an early age to various religious texts and stories.
Both my grandmothers, were married at an early age. They had no formal education, but had deeply instilled values on their side.
These values, that came in the form of 109 one -liners from the tenth century poet AVVAIYAR and have been passed down to me.

Do you think there is any change in the values of today’s generation in comparison to the previous ones? If so, are they positive or negative?

Technology has overtaken our lives today. In days gone by, what our elders said was sacrosanct. We were brought up in a joint family system, where the children not only heard about values from their elders but also saw them being followed.
The nuclear family system is more prevalent now. Both the parents are working professionals and there is not enough time to spend with the child.
Grandparents and extended elders in the family who can impart age old wisdom and values are often visiting guests. Their interaction with their grandchildren is limited.
Therefore, the human capital in terms of values, wisdom is now not being passed down the generations.

Your book Tweets from my Grand Mother talks about secularism. Isn’t it true that no matter what, an individual is always biased towards any particular religion and indeed no individual is truly secular?

We all grow up with the beliefs and thought processes of the religion the family follows. Yes, they influence our thinking and mindset to a large extent. The shift happens when you go to school, college and start working. These interactions from people from various communities helps change our outlook and slowly we develop our own balance between our beliefs and others learnings, above all learn that true religion is about understanding and respecting other faiths though following your own.
The book has life’s teachings, brimming with secular values and universal wisdom — it cuts through eras and religions.

Please tell us about the social work you are doing in the field of cancer and in what ways will the book be helpful for this cause?

I was earlier associated with the S.P.J. Sadhana School for the Developmentally Challenged. I balanced this between being a creative director at Trikaya and my home commitments. I later joined Tata Medical Center, Kolkata as Honorary Director, Donor Relationships in 2011.
The royalties from the book will go towards the treatment of underprivileged patients battling cancer at the hospital.

Mythology is one of the themes of the books, what elements have been inculcated to make it contemporary?

The book has elements from mythology, religion, spirituality and modern examples to illustrate the relevance of the 109 one- liners.

Aren’t spirituality and ambition two ends of the spectrum? Do they ever go hand in hand?

Yes, they are at two ends of the spectrum. But life is about striking a balance between the two. It is here that values and old age wisdom comes to guide you.

About the Interviewee:

Geeta Gopalakrishan has been the Honorary Director – Donor Relationships at the Tata Medical Center, Kolkata from the past 8 years.