Memoir of a trailblazing granny, way ahead of her times by Ravi Damodaran

While most parents bought toys and games for their children, Damayanti’s parents bought her a lot of story books; fairy tales, comics, and adventure stories. As she grew older, even more books were added, and as she began to write, fountain pens joined the collection.

Biographies and autobiographies are usually not very popular and normally make for mundane reading, and only interest historians. “Thank you Dadima” is exceptional because it is more than the biography of an outstanding lady who broke the glass ceiling; it is an inspirational and motivating account of how someone born to a farmer, in a small rural town could rise against alls odds and unfavourable circumstances to become the head of a business that she built from scratch and ran with an iron hand in a velvet glove, with all the poise and grace of a queen. This book has captured the emotions and feelings of the ‘lady in white’, and has been penned with the loving hand of her own granddaughter.

As the renowned author Dr. Shashi Tharoor wrote in his blurb for the book, “Damayanti Chandrasekhar’s “Thank You Dadima” is a loving portrait of what a grandmother means to a grandchild: food, stories, wisdom, and – above all – an immeasurable, irreplaceable love. By turns sad, funny, and moving, this book will touch all those lucky enough to have grandparents, or who treasure their memory.

Damayanti grew up under the strict supervision of her Dadi, Indira Damodaran. Punctuality, honesty, and hard work were the three important qualities drilled into her from a young age. Though she was throughout in the Science stream and even obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, and later joined Salim Ali School of Ecology, her final Masters degree was in  Journalism and Communication from Madras University, joining the 30 strong class by qualifying for the only two open seats in the general category after competing with 150 others.The science background making her a versatile editor who could tackle technical and scientific articles.

Marriages they say are made in heaven and a promising career was cut short within a year of graduating, when she got married and moved to the US, and started a family. Some of Dadi’s grit and determination gave her the necessary impetus to start a blog of her own and her experiences as an Indian thrown into the cultural potpourri of American culture began to appear in her weekly blogs. Before leaving India she had displayed tremendous interest in energy healing, and attended courses in Pranic Healing and Reiki. Today, she can dispense distant healing and partakes in mass meditation and healing. Apparently, the grandmother’s courage and determination has rubbed off on the protégée. Being in the US and taking advantage of the greater opportunities there, she completed a course in children’s literature and landed a job as content writer and later web editor. “Thank you Dadima” is her maiden book and reportedly hard copies sold out in Amazon within one hour of launch.

A few years ago, inspired by the Thanksgiving holiday that’s celebrated in the US every November, Damayanti decided to spend the whole month focusing on gratitude. She called it 30 days of gratitude and shared one thing she was thankful for every day. 

“I’m infinitely thankful for my grandma and for the ways she continues to inspire me, even today. So, the title “Thank you Dadima” felt like a great fit,” says Damayanti.

On a short visit to her parents home in Chennai, she got caught in the lockdown caused by the pandemic. Resourceful as ever she took up any and all writing and editing assignments and kept earning during the 11 months house arrest while most people were lamenting the loss of jobs,  business, and income. The author’s experience is only a reinforcement of the theory that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Truly our individual success is very much in our own hands and obstacles and unfavorable environments are merely challenges to be overcome. There is surely a message to all women both in the life of the subject of the biography and the life of the author to serve as an example for others.

With such gems packed into only 200 pages, the style and prose does not make for one dull moment. Many have read it within a few hours, themselves experiencing events within the book as if viewed first hand, drawing nostalgia for some, wrenching tears from a few.The genre of writing is most uncommon and everyone is waiting for the next book.

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