Our guest today is Deepa Ramakrishnan. Deepa shares her stories of walking away from a conventional and ‘secure’ job and moving to Australia, feeling the need for connection in the community. Deepa found that her source of resilience was through creating connecting experiences through food – to hold spaces for others to feel seen and heard. Deepa is a HR specialist, with a strong focus on diversity and inclusion.

Produced by Ruhee M, an inclusive facilitator and public speaker with over 12 years of teaching and facilitating experience. Forever curious, straight-talking, and driven by the conversation around inclusion and equity, Ruhee holds an academic background in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in business management. Having worked across industries including advertising, sport, retail, hospitality, tech, digital marketing, community services and wellbeing, Ruhee brings a wealth of diverse experience and problem-solving perspectives across the board. To support others in their learning journey, Allied Collective was founded to solve the need for impactful, inclusive, and accessible training. Today, Ruhee combines these insights with years of experience in teaching to provide clients with engaging workshops, training, and facilitation.

You can follow all of Ruhee’s latest work here: 

LinkedIn: 
https://www.linkedin.com/company/allied-collective/ 
Website:
alliedcollective.com.au 

You can follow Deepa on LinkedIn. 

Transcript

This transcript is automatically generated and may contain errors.

Ruhee: [00:00:20] We acknowledge and pay respects to the traditional custodians of the land on which we join in from today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. My name is Ruhee and today bringing the human in HR. Deepa Ramakrishnan describes herself as a purpose driven, creative and dreamer. With her career relating to people and well being. She’s also passionate about holistic wellbeing, and today we get to hear more about Deepa. Welcome, Deepa. It’s an honor to have you on Stories of Community Resilience. 

Deepa: [00:01:18] Thank you so much for that beautiful introduction, Ruhee, and thank you for this opportunity as well. This is such an honor to be here. 

Ruhee: [00:01:19] Deepa: So happy to have you. If your life was a book, what are some events that have led you to today’s chapter?

Deepa: [00:01:19] Wow, that’s a great question. To start off with, I think one of the like the most important chapters that would have led me to where I am today is the idea of success. Um, growing up in a small town in India, in the southernmost part of India where, financial security was not a privilege or not given. We were living from hand to mouth for a long period of time in our lives. My idea of success was just getting that job and that investment bank. As soon as I graduated, getting that house, buying that car and financial security was what I absorbed as. Success in my life as a child. And I eventually went on to taking a lot of those. I graduated at 19, cracked a really competitive internship process at an investment bank, got that job. I started the job, and I remember thinking on day one that, Oh, this is this is it. My life is done. I’m going to stay here for ten years. I’m going to become a managing partner. I’m going to get that car, get that house.

Deepa: [00:02:37] But 18 months into that job, I just felt fully empty. I couldn’t bring out a sentence out of my mind or my mouth because I was so stressed. I was not sure what was going on because here I was, living my dream in quotes, but not really enjoying it, not really understanding why I was feeling that way. And that’s sort of what led to a lot of the introspection and questioning things and going on this journey where today I think I don’t have that big car or that house or that big fat paycheck, but what I have is a deep connection to myself, and I have an inner peace and knowing that. Things will work out for the best and an understanding that what really matters is, um, a sense of peace, belonging, community. And I think that’s sort of what guides me. Um, in the world today. And that’s why I do what I do. I love bringing people together, um, in the form of like storytelling, food, cooking, community, and authentic relating and deep conversations.

Ruhee: [00:04:03] Love that so much. And from the conversations we’ve had in the past, I know you’re such a natural storyteller and tell me more about how do you bring these parameters of success of peace, community well-being, food – in a society that is so driven by those capitalist standards and, and individualist society, how do you navigate that?

Deepa: [00:04:31] Oh, such a great question again. Well, firstly, it’s hard. We are in a world that’s hyper connected but deeply fragmented. Um, there is a deep sense of everyone wanting to be seen, to be understood. And the more I talk to people, the more I realize everyone just wants to be seen. Everyone just wants to be understood. And as someone who migrated as a young 23 year old to a new country. Um, all alone, I think. The biggest thing that kept me going is my connection to self. I had to establish that to be able to navigate the world outside. So. In a world where. A lot of things are driven by capitalistic ideas, and success is defined that way. I think it’s important to understand that we are still social beings. We’re still humans on the inside, and it’s easy to really just crack open anyone with like five minutes of pure presence and attention you give them, that’s enough. And it’s incredible to see. Um, how much. People are moved by just pure presence. And how do I do this in the real world? I, I love hosting spaces and events where I bring people together. I facilitate discussions around different themes I love. I love going just that one step deeper into conversations that people will otherwise not be able to have because they don’t feel safe enough to have those conversations. How can we facilitate spaces where people can feel more safe, feel more okay to be vulnerable or not judged? I think also humans have been gathering around food for centuries and I think it’s the most natural way to gather and have conversations. So that’s one way, um, how I do it.

Ruhee: [00:06:53] That is wonderful. And your point of where so connected but so fragmented really hit hard. In terms of going, if I may, deeper with deeper in the connections through food. Tell me more about how do you how does that look like? What do those gatherings look like.

Deepa: [00:07:17] Oh I love that. I also love that ‘deeper with Deepa’ could be a thing in the future.

Ruhee: [00:07:24] I tried to hold myself, but it was right there. [Laughter] 

Deepa: [00:07:28] My journey of migrating here meant I migrated here six years ago when I was 23 and in a in an attempt to fit into the society. I moved so far away from everything that, um, that I was. And I’m sure a lot of people listening who have there who’ve had their own migration journeys can resonate with this. And, and you’re nodding really fiercely as well. So, and then it’s about finding your way back. And as I started finding my way back, I started realizing how much we lived in connection in the ancient times in India, where I come from, and growing up there was such a connection to food. We didn’t eat to just, um, to suffice our hunger. But we ate in connection to land, in connection to the seasons, in connection to what our mind and body needed. And so I started diving deeper into Ayurveda and understanding how I can feed and nourish my body in connection to where I am mentally, physically, emotionally and seasonally wise as well, geographically. And it’s created such a difference for me in my life, and I love creating that for people around me.

Deepa: [00:09:01] So what do these gatherings look like? There’s usually a theme or a broad, area that we want to discuss. So I bring in people, there’s food, and for each course there’s also a conversation menu, a conversation starter where we talk about different questions. Each person we go around in like a circle. It’s sort of like a circle practice where people are given the space to reflect on or meditate on that particular question, what it brings up for them or that theme. And yeah, and they are allowed to um, say what they want out of it. I, I’m just sharing this because I want to share this or I’m sharing this because I want to hear some feedback or just witness me as I share this. So giving people the space to share and not have to be responded to right away or not have to be given a feedback right away. And that’s one of the ways we do it in this community space.

Ruhee: [00:10:14] That’s wonderful. And I can’t wait to come to the next gathering when you facilitate it. I love that. And when it comes to resilience and you mentioned your journey as a migrant trying to assimilate into society, what does resilience mean for you? Or what has that journey looked like for you in the last few years? 

Deepa: [00:10:39] The textbook definition of resilience I know revolves around strength and courage and all of that, which I fully agree. But I feel like the the meaning of resilience for me is living through uncertainties as a migrant who is here on a temporary visa. You don’t you have to live through having to leave any time as a migrant who’s just moved here with and just has managed to get their casual job. You have to live through the uncertainty of not having a job tomorrow. Um, and uncertainty in almost every aspect of your life is, is in like it’s inherent to this whole migration journey. Um, and I think for me, resilience is living through the uncertainties and. Being okay with not being okay and. Just being fully compassionate with yourself in that process and saying. You’re trying your best. A lot of people will not choose this, but you’ve chosen this and you are going to find your way. Yeah.

Ruhee: [00:12:01] That is so inspirational Deepa. The way you talk about it and the way your eyes light up when you talk about it is magical. I wish people could see that. When it comes to your journey of resilience and your story – is there something you wish you could tell yourself five years ago to the Deepa five years ago?

Deepa: [00:12:27] Oh, such a great question again. Wow. I would love to say a lot of things from where I am today, but I also know that the paper back then. Does not know any of this, that what she’s walking into and what her future holds. So maybe I’ll just go back and hold her because this migration journey is a lonely one. It’s a it’s going to challenge you. It’s going to really test you. So what I would do is go back to the five years ago and just hold her and just, um, yeah, give her my shoulder to lean on, probably.

Ruhee: [00:13:12] And any advice for the Deepa five years down the line? 

Deepa: [00:13:18] Um. Come hold me. [laughter] Yeah. Or just, uh. You’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. We’ll be okay. Yeah.

Ruhee: [00:13:33] We’re all gonna be okay.

Deepa: [00:13:34] We’re all going to be okay. Yes.

Ruhee: [00:13:37] And when it comes to finding your way, the idea of home changes for a lot of people, especially those who’ve migrated to a different country. What has that idea of home looked like for you in the past, and how is that changed for you?

Deepa: [00:13:56] Wow. Ruhee these are some great questions. Firstly, I just want to applaud all of these questions because they’re wonderful. Home. What an interesting concept, because as migrants, I feel like we go through this journey of trying to deeply belong, find home. We’re not here. We’re too Indian to be in Australia. We’re too Australian to be in India. Then you’re just in the middle of nowhere trying to understand where you belong. I think my idea of home right now is very internal. I’m not saying I’ve cracked that I feel belonged wherever I go. It’s a journey. I think the idea of home for me is understanding that deep down we’re all humans. We’re all trying to trying our best to show up and do our best. That gives me a sense of home wherever I go. I see everyone as a fellow human who is trying their best. And so I belong with everyone. I belong with me. I belong everywhere I go. And I don’t know if that really wraps it, but yeah, that’s with everyone.

Ruhee: [00:15:22] That is such a beautiful thought. Yeah.

Deepa: [00:15:25] Thank you.

Ruhee: [00:15:26] And any word of advice out there for people who are still finding their way home or finding meaning behind the word of what their idea of home means.

Deepa: [00:15:42] I guess what I would say is. Sit with yourself and ask yourself, ‘How can I bring a sense of home and how can I bring a sense of trust within myself? What do I need to do to bring a sense of safety and home for myself?’ Sometimes I just sit with myself and ask, ‘Do I feel like I can trust myself?’ and maybe the answer is sometimes yes. And maybe the some sometimes the answer is no. And then I’m like, okay, ‘what could I do to bring a sense of trust within myself?’ And there’ll probably be something that comes up and trying to fulfill and honor that for myself. So the, the piece of like advice, I’m not sure if I’m eligible to give an advice to anyone, but the advice that I would give someone who’s trying to find a sense of home is, trying to establish a deep sense of connection with themselves. And journeying the world from that place.

Ruhee: [00:16:56] That is so profound. Thank you for that. My last question for you today, in finding our journey to ourselves, I know food is a very important way for you to do that. What is your favorite food?

Deepa: [00:17:11] Oh, this is a hard question.

Ruhee: [00:17:15] Hardest for the last.

Deepa: [00:17:16] Yes. Well, um. There’s so many because food is such a big part of my life. I think my most favorite. Food for now would be like. I come from this little coastal town called Thoothukudi in India, which is known for its Parottas and Sanna, which is like a curry on top of your Parotta That is what my favourite food is. And that would be. That would make me happy any day. 

Ruhee: [00:17:52] Where can people find you Deepa, Please tell us on LinkedIn? 

Deepa: [00:18:01] Um, that would be the best place. I have a little Instagram page that I am trying to build “Nourished Naivedya” where I talk about food, where I talk about, um, where I’m trying to, um, put out my community gatherings around food and connecting with community and like minded people. So that’s where you can find me. If not, um, yeah, I’ll probably be hanging around in the southeast suburbs somewhere. [laughter] 

Ruhee: [00:18:30] Sounds great. And consider me subscribed. We’ll make sure we’ll add those details in our show notes of this episode. And again, it’s been an absolute honor to have you on this episode. Deepa, Thank you so much for your time and your energy today.

Deepa: [00:18:46] Thank you so much for this opportunity. Ruhee It was an absolute honor and privilege and pleasure to be here sharing space with you and thank you for all those beautiful questions and thank you for everything you do for the community here. Thank you.

Ruhee: [00:19:02] Thanks, Deepa.

[END TRANSCRIPT]

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