Meet the Zumeners - Episode 08
July 30, 2022
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body.” ~ Martha Graham
I am a typical Chennai ponnu (girl) from one of the oldest parts of Chennai, Mylapore. Mylapore, also known as Thirumayilai, with written records of early settlements going back to the first century BCE. The word Mylapore in the English language means land of the peacock screams. Historically, peacocks in the area danced their hearts out. And this is evident in the several statues and emblems of the divine shrines in Mylapore. And not only peacocks but the residents of Mylapore are also known for their Carnatic singing and classical dancing. Coming from a place like Mylapore, I have always admired the Indian Classical Dance – Bharatanatyam. But before taking up dance, I pursued something else. I became a sports person. Yes, 100m, 200m, Long Jump, and High jump are my forte.
I started athletics in the year 2002. During my school days, I was always on the ground practicing for Zonals and District level athletics level competitions than attending classes. I was an average student when it came to studies. I maintained an average of 75-85%, but I ensured I never failed any subjects. If you do not believe me, you can ask my brother more about it 😀 And one of the high points in my sports career was when my school girl’s football team (the first batch) won the Zonal level competitions three straight years and represented Nationals. I learned a lot about life with a ball at my feet.
In life, we go through a lot of ups and downs. Triumph comes after we wade through all the trials and tribulations. Some give up midway, while some who go all the way are the ones who are successful.
Football and athletics have taught me many a great thing that I cherish for eternity, and the fitness level I achieved helped me in pursuing my favorite yet challenging art form – Bharatanatyam.
Bharatanatyam: Living with the Abhinayas
I was nine years when I decided to learn Bharatanatyam. Why? You may ask. One of the thunderbolt moments that inspired me to take up this art form was watching Natiya Peroli Padmini in the legendary classical film Thillana Mohanambal. Also, I believe it was in my gene since I was always keen to learn about various art forms, which made me realize that I wanted to become an artist. I was fortunate and blessed to learn from one of the best dancers, the Kalaimamani and Acharya Choodamani awardee Smt. Jayanthi Subramaniam, who I consider my second mother.
My training was intense, but my guru was liberal and generous enough to allow me to sit through any class I wished to watch and assimilate as much as I could. I learned the dance through an approach that my guru dissected thread-bare to help me understand every nuance of the art rather than teaching item by item. Personally, this has helped me understand the art form better and helped bring out my individuality, which is a rare gift. And after 19 years of intense training, practice, and stage performances, I can proudly say that Bharatanatyam is part of me literally!
Becoming the Expert Juggler
There was a point in my school life when I had to attend schooling, dance classes, and also practice for athletics and football. And this happened till I finished college. But one thing that kept me going was my learning from sports and dance. Giving up something should not be done until you feel you have given your 200%, yet you are still unable to manage it. And because I believe that every phase in life we go through teaches us something, I wanted to go through this strenuous phase which I did not feel as such since I loved each of them; I never gave up my studies for athletics and dance, nor vice-versa. But, there came a moment in my life, in the form of an event to test me. I had to participate in the athletics zonal level competition that happened two months before my class 12 board examinations. And I did both and came out with flying colors.
I took my studies seriously during my college days. But at the same time, I juggled between dance and sports. The irony here is that though I was the first bencher in class and was always studious, I failed in one of the subjects. Something that makes me chuckle even now.
Work Life Balance
After college, I concentrated on my dance. I also joined a reputed MNC as a developer as it was one of the few viable options for students from electronics. Pursuing higher studies abroad was my dream. So I took up classes to prepare for GRE and IELTS examinations. I juggled between office, classes, practicing the unused and rarest of the words for the exam, and my dance. And the experience is what made me who I am today. I bettered the art of multitasking, time management, being patient, and not looking for quick results. While living with the clickety clackety sounds at my office, I realized that software development was not my cup of tea. I love speaking and interacting with people, which landed me a job in an HR consultancy firm. But Covid-19 played spoilsport, and I had to leave my job. Dancing again became my sole companion. During this time, I went a step further and learned deeper about the nuances of Bharatanatyam in a more theoretical and practical way.
Zumen and the Present
While returning home from one of my dance rehearsals, I received a message from Hari. He introduced himself as the HR of Zumen, a startup in the procurement space. I was called for an interview and I immediately obliged. I was looking for a role change in my career. And after all the processes, I joined Zumen in the Customer Success Support team. I owe my gratitude to Harsh, Vasanth, and Sharukh, whom I bugged a lot by raising bugs in the software and a barrage of questions. They were patient enough to help and guide me, and today, if I can give product demos to customers and train new joiners at Zumen is because of their support. And I would also like to thank Viswa and Mohan, who are constantly supporting and motivating me, and for having given me the opportunity to be a part of Zumen even though I shifted to Berlin.
Throughout my life, there have been many phases – my school and college days, various job roles, marriage life, and shifting to Berlin with my husband. But one thing that traveled along with me was dance and sports. Sports taught me valuable lessons, and dance became my soul. I emote everything through dance. Both dance and sports have conditioned me to keep myself grounded, observe things and react only when needed. And I believe this virtue will take me places.