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Saying it with flowers

Shyamala Ganesh accompanied her husband to Japan and life changed thereon. Today, she heads the Ohara School of Ikebana, and has hundreds of students training under her



Shyamala Ganesh: `Learning is a continuous process and I consider myself a student.' — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

"The Ohara School of Ikebana is exquisite, natural, and draws from nature and that's why I was so attracted to the art form," explains Shyamala Ganesh, the gracious and dignified President of the Bangalore Chapter of the School.

One simply cannot ignore the Japanese touch in her elegant and tasteful home. Originally from Mangalore, little did Shyamala know that her husband's deputation to Kobe, Japan, in the year 1977 would alter her life irrevocably. In fact, it marks the beginning of a long journey spanning two decades and a little more, a journey that includes gaining knowledge and then imparting it. Life has indeed come a full circle for her. At first, she quietly assumed the role of a student, and then donned the mantle of professor, even as she learnt at each step, adding value constantly to her teaching.

"Learning is a constant process and I do consider myself as a student," says the articulate lady.

A post-graduate in Botany from The University of Mumbai, she has taught in several institutions, which includes the renowned St. Xavier's College in Mumbai and an international school in Kobe, Japan. "I discovered the artist in me only after I enrolled myself as a student," she confesses. She began learning Ikebana in Japan, and never looked back since.

On her return to India, she began teaching Ikebana in Bangalore in the year 1983, and has instructed several students in the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement in the years that followed. There is so much meaning embedded in the art form that one has to make a conscious attempt to comprehend it. Pointing to a spectacular piece, she turned to me and queried, "Doesn't it look like a dense forest?" I was taken aback only to realise she was right. On close observation, it did appear like a veritable miniature forest.

The Bangalore Chapter of the Ohara School of Ikebana was founded in 1989, and the Ohara School in Japan appointed Shyamala as its Founding President. "I visited Japan many times, going back every time to learn more," she reminisces with a smile. She has worked long and hard to achieve the grade of First Master— the highest level that the Ohara School has to offer. Ms. Ganesh is the first woman in the state to receive the recognition and one of the very few in the nation.

She is extremely appreciative about the Japanese way of life. "It's a refined society that has undergone the process of evolution through the ages. And as a people, they are courteous, punctual, and are sticklers to planning and details," she opines. Pointing out that they are a very artistic race, she emphasises that they have made use of empty space to highlight beauty in simplicity.

Ms. Ganesh is also Director of The Japanese Language School in the city. The school offers program-based training in the language and culture.

She has been conducting the popular annual exhibitions for the Bangalore Chapter since its inception. "Having been exposed to beauty and elegance through Ikebana, I hope to instil the same appreciation in other people, namely my students," she says about her commitment to teaching.

"Be a good human being first and do your bit for your fellow men," she insists. Well, according to her, happy are those who seek beauty and good in everything. "We have not inherited this earth but it is in our safekeeping, as we have borrowed it from our future generations," says

Shyamala philosphically, and passionately believes in the conservation of nature. She is

also a music aficionado.

For more information, contact: The Bangalore Chapter of the Ohara School of Ikebana, No.10, Second Floor, Eighth Main, Second Cross, Vasanthnagar, Bangalore 560052. Ph: 22261534.

HARIPRIYA SRINIVASAN

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