How Yavanika Started

Yavanika started off one fine day as early as 2008 as I sat in quiet contemplation. The CD player sitting a few feet away from me was playing a World Music collection. How my life had changed since I was a young adult just getting out of school ready to rock the world! I had met so many strong and beautiful women in my life and each one of them had a soft beautiful heart – sometimes worn very visibly on their sleeves and sometimes hidden deep behind the recesses of work, responsibility, harsh circumstances and such. With each one of them, something shone strong and bright – one just had to look; look through the facades they had built around themselves.

The player coincidentally started to play a song called "Through the Veil" by Jamshid Sharifi. I thought the universe was putting a few pieces together for me.

I had made a conscious decision to leave my family behind in New Delhi, India to come work for Microsoft in the United States. The social, cultural, and educational perspectives of my new environment were different. I needed to think differently to understand fully the functioning of systems and relationships. I met strong and beautiful women from different countries and cultures. Some written off by society and some worshiped as role models. Each one of them hid a story behind their bodily exteriors. Each one of them had a perspective on their lives as well as others. Each one was right!

I picked up my pen (yes, pen :-), fancy hand held devices had not penetrated the market much yet!) and started to write a personal story but it was ultimately about human perspectives, conveyed through the story of two women. As a performing artist, the only way my mind visualized it was on stage.

As the story unfolds on stage, two women from different backgrounds navigate the highs and lows of life - a force that I presented in this visualization through the analogy of a maze. In their life journey, they form perspectives about events and situations they encounter based on their preconceived notions and experiences, thus creating a custom veil through which they view life going forward. Are they aware of their veiled perspectives? Can they comfortably step into a completely different reality altogether?

I wrote the script straight from the heart. The compelling stories of the women in my life may not really come through with as much pain as I experienced when I lived those moments with them. I call one of these women and tell her, "Hey guess what? I am doing this new production and it is basically about you". She is terribly excited but can't fathom how it can be about her. I try to explain. However, the oppressive spirit of her life is too heavy. She cannot see it. My heart sinks another step. But I have the resolve. Will she?

YAVANIKA highlights the fact that there are no right and wrong perspectives. These labels come from viewing another through one’s own veiled vision, and regarding the differences to be wrong or unworthy. Learning to honor a perspective different from one’s own makes it easier to co-exist in peace and harmony. Agreeing to disagree and opening one’s eyes to truly see the world, is what will enrich and elevate mankind.

With love to all the people whose indomitable spirits have elevated me in more than one ways on more than one day!