Friday, 10 March 2017

Who wants to pay?

It's been a while since I sat down and put something on my mind to words. Words can be tiring when thoughts whirl at a much faster speed. Women's day and a whole flurry of events around being a woman brought me to my screen and keyboard again.

I was at a company sesh last week. Some really senior folk at work were throwing a party for a certain project. I am always conscious of the sex-ratio at events like these. 5 of us women were among some 20 men.


It was all lovely and gay until someone started talking about the beer prices. One gentleman exclaimed how he hated that enjoying a drink in Singapore came at such a high cost - 'A good bottle of wine back home costs 3 pounds'. And we all aw-ed at how that was even possible. He goes on to wonder how men here can afford to have girlfriends.

I was one girl in a group of 6-7 men when this occurred. I looked around to find some empathy for what I just heard. No eye contact.

Another gentleman continues to explain how he has a list of all the cheapest bars in Singapore and that's where he takes his girlfriend.

I am by now looking physically uncomfortable. I want to say something, but I am not sure how to retort out of turn.

After a round of giggles, one of them turns to me and goes 'Dhanya, what do you think? How does your boyfriend manage to maintain you'. I am sure it was meant in good humor, but the golden opportunity to retort will not be lost. I will take one for my girls.

I loudly exclaimed, 'I don't need a man to pay for me. I can pay for myself. I surely make enough to buy myself a drink'. I tried to cushion the rage with a feeble mumble '..that way we can go out a lot more, without worrying about affordability'.

And a gentleman was honest when he replied 'I guess I am stuck in the 80s, its great to see women like you now. I wish I was in my 20s now.' Another added, 'Would you date me, Dhanya? ahahahha'.


I was meeting my favourite girl gang for lunch. I walked to the restaurant thinking about all the laughs we were going to share. I remembered the awkward exchange at the sesh last week. I made a mental note to pour over to the girls that men spoke like that even now. We have always spoken with a certain glow on our faces on how we need to change the world; on how we should be able to make our choices in life; on how we should be there for the women who need us.

And then I completely forgot about it.

Somewhere in the conversation one of them shares a story of a date gone rouge. My mental note came back to me. As she ended the melodramatic explanation of a weird encounter, a friend of ours goes 'Well did you atleast get him to foot the bill?'. To which the reply was 'Ofcourse I did'.

A little bird died inside of me.

I retorted against the argument, some agreed that both genders should be able to pay. Some denied this having to do anything at all with women's rights.


If you are are fundamentally fighting for women's equality in opportunity, fight for the right to pay. Stare down every waiter who takes the bill straight to the man. Grab the bill if you want. Go dutch. Or take turns to pay. Fight for equality everywhere.

And no, I am not that 'feminist type' that wants to run down the street naked. I want every woman to make a choice that empowers her individual; her soul. Be it housekeeping, be it Harvard Business School. Be it wearing tudong, be it going bald. I want every woman to dream her own dream, not her mom's, not her dad's, and certainly not her husband's. Take decisions, and own your life.


PS: And yet when you look for this quote on Facebook, you'll find yourself staring at only nude pictures. 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The bigger Australian dream!

Ren and I just got back from our ten day adventure to the cities of Sydney and Melbourne!

It was our first time Down Under and we had so many eye-opening moments about life & living over these days. Most of these moments led us to contrast our life back in Singapore with this new found reality. In summary, it was a trip that made us wonder if we were really after the bigger things in life - the things that matter.

1) Most of the society shuts down at 6pm.. 
..barring a few wild sections whose members venture into restaurants and bars until midnight. People seemed to plan their week ahead during the weekend and simply 'live' in the weekdays! Everyone has an activity/interest that gets pursued in this wonderful evening time - be it cycling across the town or spending time with their toddlers. It seems like the Neo-classical fable of work-life balance is actually a reality in this part of the world. Whaaat? 

2) People are warm..
..genuinely. Sure, we met some oddballs who spewed general hate at the world. Which city doesn't have them though. What I mean is that the average mood of the society was happy/warm. I always look for signs at retail environments thanks to the occupational hazard - casual conversation amongst employees; a hello, smile and 'how ya doin' at the customer; satisfaction with work and a lining of lethargy indicated comfort. 

3) Oodles of love for the family..
..,a priority we saw in every local we interacted with. One of our cab drivers moved to Sydney to let his 9 year old girl pursue a Sydney education. Another loved his body boarding life by the Maroubra beach with his Japanese wife and their 15 year old tennis playing daughter. We stayed with a gay couple whose love for their home/dog/each other only kept us hoping we'll one day build similar lives for ourselves. 

Oh and I didn't mention the availability of good green food everywhere. And the landscape - pretty much every turn and corner was picture-able. I could go on, but you got the drift! 

Sure, there were times when our Singaporean selves couldn't stand the casual airport officers; lack of realtime public transport arrival estimation in some parts; shops that closed at 6pm; Opal (Sydney) and Myki (Melbourne) cards that were eons away from our very own ezlink (booyea);  temperate weather when the chill touched our souls. But you know us, we love to complain heh. 

Now if I shake the Singaporean out and say 'big picture' 3 times, we zoom back to our cold 4* evening discussions which revolved around 'what are we prioritising again?!'. 

We both are back with people to remember and goals to prioritise. And perhaps a wish to move to this awesome-sauce country?! 

Us with the blue mountains in the scene!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Someday you will realize the importance of priorities

You turn 22 today. With about 2 years and 6 months between us, it hardly feels like an age difference. You've always been the wiser, smarter, and more talented of the siblings. However, both you and I know how we alternate the roles of elder and younger when the situation calls. I remember 22, the details of it like it was yesterday. I also remember 22 as something that happened a long long time ago.

Being the know-it-all that I am around you, I put together a list of things, I wish someone told me then. Or perhaps even before 22. Some of these things, you do. Some of these things, you know. I am still struggling to adopt some myself. What I do know for sure, is the superior relevance of these tiny lessons in our lives.

Happy birthday, patoos!  :*

1) Jobs will come and go. Special someones will come and go. Don't forget to call your kin.

2) Keep, in your life, the people who've earned your respect.

3) For the ones that haven't, be there for them anyway. But remember they were never going to be your priority.

4) Figure out your routine to combat body odor. There is nothing more distracting than an odor giving away poorly kept hygiene.

5) Choose whom/what you spend time with, its so precious.

6) Pick an art - reading, writing, sketching, listening, singing, running or even watching tv shows. But make it your art and become the highest authority on it.

7) When amma told me this, 7 years ago I kept a poker face and sniggered inside. She said none will love you and think of you as much as your parents do. I now truly know the meaning of this statement.

8) If done right, you will experience the transformation you go through with parents - they will become mentors/friends and they will seek you out more than they ever have, for their own problems. It is somewhere in the middle of this you realize that they are humans too, just like you. That they have dreams too, just like you.

9) Friends will come and go - if you let it. Friends will stay - if you make sure of it.

10) A favourite thought from Clayton Christensen's book - How will you measure your life: What job are you hiring that milkshake for? A simple marketing technique really, this can be applied to any relationship in your life - in the reverse direction. You want someone in your life. You ask yourself - what job is he/she hiring you for? Sometimes its conversation, sometimes its companionship, sometimes its distress partnership. But figure this out and keep that person in your life. Do something because they want you to do it and not because you want to - like cooking a meal for your friend after a long day even though you'd rather sleep; going to the store just to buy some chocolates when they had a bad day; taking care of a phone call you would rather avoid.

11) Take care of your health. Go all out when you want to - but stay conscious of the quality/quantity of food/alcohol that crosses your lips.

12) Practice frugality when ever you can - remember your footprint on nature. Don't buy only because you can. Don't waste only because you can.

13) “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” Kindness is probably the most important quality you won't learn - try to.

14) Go out and live life all you want; remember to come back home.

15) Always remember to get travel insurance.

16) Invest some time and energy in perfecting your smile - it can save you in so many ways, so many times.

17) Remember, this too shall pass. In adversity, try to respond, try not to react.

18) Stay away from gossip. Try not to spread them too.

19) Buy gifts when you visit people in their homes - flowers and chocolates will do.

20) Treat people to lunches and dinners - pass the love on.

21) Dress nicely, put in an effort - there's nothing more pleasing than someone who spent 10 mins thinking of how they were going to look for you (no, not just for a special someone).

22) Clean up after yourself, pick yourself up, and fend for yourself - as much as you can.


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Bridging The Gaps 2016, Lucknow

I rushed out from work at 3pm and boarded my flight to Lucknow with a backpack and a stomach full of pongal, vadai and sambhar. My friend Vikram had been to the BTG camp the previous year and he had then sworn I would love it. Following which, I had made up my mind to make it the next year. Things worked out and I was able to ! And man what an experience.

120 kids. 60 coaches and mentors. 5 days of frisbee, sun, art, dance, claps, sweat, honesty, tanda paani, and masti.

The camp was a beautiful space that aided one to experience time outside his/her shell. It was designed so that one feels safe enough to be his/her self - the layer of judgement whipped away with a magic wand. Sangeeta, an eloquent dancer, one of the organizers, put it beautifully - she said they designed the experience to take place in a "womb-like environment". From day 1 to day 5, I could see some of the transformations in this conducive space - a boy who struggled to say hello, gave a thank you speech holding a mike; a girl who was not allowed to step out of her home, danced away to glory with a swollen ankle; a girl who came knowing only Tamil, left with the ability to translate Hindi to Tamil; a boy who was hesitant and shy to speak left after making a 100 friends.

What was most amazing about these transformations was the way in which they were facilitated. Volunteer coaches both experienced and new, came together to first understand mentoring, and then to implement it in their teams. This 2-fold approach towards impact was aimed towards multiplying the outreach, so that an estimate of 3000 children would benefit from the lessons. These coaches exhibited raw passion and seemingly endless energy in engaging the kids through every aspect of the camp. You could see the coaches' influence in the eyes of the children when they addressed their coach - didi, akka, anna, and bhaiya. 

Every day began at 05.00 am and ended well past 10.00 pm - action packed. And through out the day one could see the energy troughs and peaks. 05.45 am saw children and adults with half closed eyes and a slightly unwilling walk into the buses. 06.15 am saw the exact same bunch jumping and howling to waka waka in the middle of a huge green ground. It was then time for frisbee. In these few hours, coaches learnt the nuances of communication with their senior mentors' guidance; children learnt to hold their frisbees and clap one, the crocodile way. I got to walk around in the scorching sun, discover stories of the wonderful people who put together a miraculous camp, and catch the occasional disc. Every frisbee session ended with 200 people breaking into a dance before boarding our buses back to the dorms!

The day saw sessions of gender equality modules, art inspiration, painting, playing, singing, dancing, and thinking. In every one of these sessions the children reacted beautifully to the materials we presented. They owned it, and made the lessons their own.

I ran the art sessions and got to see the kids bring out their creativity with the right tools. The goal was a simple one - in pairs they had to gather fallen leaves, flowers and twigs from the play ground and create a meaningful logo for their team. Here is what we saw - talent at its best form. These children reminded me of a lesson that is perhaps forgotten every now and then - where there is a will, there is a way. Always.

After some amazing mind work and team bonding, it was time for frisbee again in the evening. Liz, an amazing organizer, who was always seen with her Mary Poppins backpack, said it was all she could ask for in a day - children playing frisbee and dancing to the tunes of lungi dance.

Post dinner in the dorms was probably the most fun part of the day - a couple of hours of dancing, just dancing. Again from day 1 to day 5 - you could see the children/adults learning to mix around and dance with anyone, transforming.

For me it was a lesson in sharing, camaraderie, giving, smiling, letting go, losing yourself, and creating. Most importantly it was a lesson in saying "yes, and.." - always makes my day to see this one in action! It was a lesson in proving to oneself that once you do step out of the comfort circle, you experience yourself!

It wasn't just the kids who went away with realizing who they could be, it was also the adults who went away realizing what they can inspire.

"We can't do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good we can do"

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Good and great; hard and harder

I was just on a call with a dear friend and we were discussing life choices. We are both looking at career choices in front of us and thinking through the best foot to put forward.

We chanced upon a beautiful realization - that life will always be hard, because it's worth it that way! I remember when I was in high school, my class teachers used to swear that the board exams were the hardest thing we would ever do in our lives. And that if we performed well, we would be settled - into a good college, in a good job, with good friends, with a good partner, with a good family, and in a good deserving life.

They swore by it.

And man we fell for it, like baby cockroaches for the pest spray - all it took was one good whiff of belief.

Today, 7 years after I wrote my 12th grade exams, I sit wondering if life will ever be good.
Because in the pursuit of goodness, we sometimes lose the chance for greatness.

Sometimes good is so attractive, that we fail to see the tiny leap it takes to be great.

I think life is meant to be hard - great comes from hard. And I think we should never just stop at good.

First, good. Then, great. 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Malli poo. Cupcakes. Carrots.

One guy once called me a malli poo - probably the most derogatory usage for a name of a flower. Like cupcakes. Like carrots. To those of you who are struggling to understand why I think its derogatory, here's another example. Would it be okay to refer to a tradition loving brahmin boy, as thayir sadam ? I mean I LOVE thayir sadam - I have lived on it all these years and would vote it as comfort food number 2 (right behind rasam sadam hehe). All that though does not make it okay to call someone thayir sadam.

I was in class 2 weekends ago - a small community of volunteers and kids aged 5-8 come together to read stories, engage in story-telling, in effort to increase their curiosity to learn. There was one particular kid who was having a rough day, and trying to garner attention. While us volunteers were trying to channel his energy into his book away from his friend's pencil, another kid from across the room called him a retard. One of us moved to speak in private to this opinionated kid and explain class rules. The others acted like it didn't happen and continued to show our attention to the rest of the kids.  

I came across this post a few days ago, a shaming of a huge part of India's women and their purpose - 11 Easy Steps To Become A Sanskaari Superwoman. It makes one wonder if respecting parents and having a bit of faith is judgement worthy. I get it. It is meant to be a light-hearted take on a saas/bahu stereotype. But is it? Who are you to make mockery of a person's purpose in life?

Let's take a step back.

Would it be okay if your slightly traditional dad/mom/granddad/grandmom shared a light-hearted buzzfeed article on 11 Easy Steps To Become a Career Superwoman?

I felt like a loser years ago, that someone would refer to me as malli poo TO ME, irrespective of their intention. I wonder what the kid thought if he did indeed comprehend what retard meant. I wonder what a mom, who gave up her small dreams and wishes in order to be the best bahu possible, thought when she saw the Sanskaari Superwoman article on Facebook. I wonder what a girl who aspires to become a pilot feels when she overhears a livingroom conversation of women these days wanting too much.

We all make mistakes. I am certain I have judged people in the past and probably continue to do so. The key to #tolerance and #acceptance though is meta-cognition. Awareness of our own thought processes and understanding.

Look at this beautiful video of a mom's dream of acceptance for her child - growing up confident, having a decent set of manners, having a great sense of humour, having a good time, and having good friends. That I believe will create a world of equals, of acceptance, of growth!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Discovering values

I found myself smiling as I walked away from lunch with a friend. We spoke about relationships and what makes some of them click. 

While staying in touch plays a great role in maintaining relations, the fundamental values two people share, is often the greatest indicator of the strength of the same. It is rightly said, 'Show me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are'. A recent finding in line with that age old saying is that we are an average of the 5 people we spend most of our time with. 

Whether we are talking about platonic friendships or romantic relationships, discovering the values of the person can sometimes be a challenge! Our childhood can provide some amazing clues to solve this puzzle - whom we played with as kids, where we went to school, our parents and their lifestyles, the way we were taught life lessons, how we were trained to spend our free time, and the kind of environment we grew up in.

I don't mean to say that these are limiting. Every day, every hour we can choose to change these things about ourselves, and hence our value system. 

Today, when I look around myself and think of every person I hold a meaningful relationship with, there is a considerable overlap in values and integrity! 

Theoretical Tuesday much ;) 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Of dreams, of fears

I wrote about fear a few months ago. About fear driving our decisions.. 

Here is some gyan from Seth Godin about that, fear and dreams he says are the opposites of each other. 

Sooner or later, important action taken comes down to this.

Fear: Of being ashamed, feeling stupid, being rejected, being left out, getting hurt, being embarrased, left alone, dying.

Dreams: Of being seen, being needed, becoming independent, relieving anxiety, becoming powerful, making someone proud, fitting in, seen as special, mattering, taken care of, loved.

Marketers put many layers atop these basic needs (horsepower, processor speed, features, pricing, testimonials, guarantees, and more) but it all comes down to dreams and fears.

So here's a crazy idea - how about converting a fear that's being an obstacle into a dream. I am talking about rephrasing here. 

'I fear darkness'
'I dream of conquering the darkness' 

It's the same starting point for both of these statements! It's the outlook that counts. After all we attract and repel the exact things we want and don't want. It's up to us to keep the right things on mind.

Perhaps one other thought that'll help in conquering fear is asking what's the worst that can happen. After which you imagine the calculated risk you're taking in this conquer. If you fear driving cars, you would ask yourself the question, 'What's the worst that can happen?'. The answer is an accident. Follow it up with 'How can I avoid that?'. Difficult to avoid an accident, but you can create environments to minimize the probability of one happening. Drive early in the morning, get yourself an assistant/partner, drive on a deserted patch of road, drive slow. There are an infinite answers to this question. 

The difference is that YOU have converted what was a fear into a dream! 

Happy fearless day, you! 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

How do you water your plants?

There are different kinds of people. There are different kinds of plant-waterers.

Some water every single day at the same time.
Some water alternate days.
Some water when they see the plant.
Some remember to water the plant every day and then forget to do it.
Some remember it every now and then.
Some delegate.
Some forget. And then remember to water.
Some forget.

I am the kind that remembers every now and then. I am the kind that doesn't delegate it when I am on vacation and away from my plant.

And after all these years I've come to accept that I don't do it every day; I don't forget it; I don't delegate it.

Water can be analogous to a lot of things in life.
What matters is that you keep the plant (the life) breathing, fresh, and alive - green - whichever way you choose to do it.
What matters is that you don't buy a plant (a life) if you know you will forget it.

How do you water your plants? Good luck with finding your routine, accepting it, and making it work! 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Balance, exists

I learnt something very important today.

I’ve been from the (supposedly) naive school of thought that the world is fair. That there is karma and that things will always even out. That you reap what you sow. That you get what you think. That you are what you do. That luck is indeed a manifestation of what you want. That there is balance, in everything.

And then life happened. And then I started thinking if the world wasn’t fair. That sometimes you don't reap what you sow. That sometimes you don't get what you think. That sometimes you aren’t what you do. That luck is a just luck. That there is imbalance.

And then I came across an amazing piece of information.
My job in one line is looking at a lot of numbers, drawing correlations, and making buying decisions for fashion.
Amidst yet another day of data analysis, I was analyzing the sales trend of a few colors of a certain product.
We have a concept of basic and seasonal colors. Basic colors usually sell in much greater volumes than the seasonal ones.
As I was looking at red color size ratios there was a curve, almost a bell from S to XL. I’ve always thought that there are more average sized people than the extreme sized ones.
And today for the first time, I looked at black size ratios to see that it was a flat line. I couldn’t believe my eyes. But no, it's a flat line. All the different types (sizes) of people are equally spread and what better color to stand proof of this truth.
So yes, as far-fetched as this analogy is, I found new belief in life’s truth through organized data. Karma exists – sometimes a huge circle of life might blind us to this fact. Everything has a balance.

You and I will find ours, eventually!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Fear & decisions

A really wise stranger (well, I guess I can say friend) said this when I was looking for relationship advice:

look for fear

the fear of being left behind, or alone, or missing someone

the fear of being trapped, of giving up freedom, of losing choices

different fears are hard to conjoin, but are worth talking about

What is the basis of your decision? What kind of fear? 

Before you reject this idea, think about it. 

Fear of failure motivates most of us to keep plugging away. Fear of loneliness, having experienced it, makes us choose the people we want to share time with. Fear of loss keeps some parents from letting their children go too far. Fear of rape plays a huge role in the kind of jobs women choose, in many parts of the world. Singapore is a nation that has built excellent safety standards for civilians based on fear driven law. 

And then there is the other side. 

Fearless want of success provides the same. Fearless love is the foundation of healthy relationships. Fearless parents teach confidence to their kids. Fearless career decisions take women to amazing heights. Maybe Japan is an example of a nation that has amazing safety standards for its civilians because people just keep at their purpose in life. (I need validation on this assumption about Japan!)

So what do you pick? Fear? Fearless? 

Both work well! But consciously find what works for you! 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Racing to the top, racing to the bottom

How do you do something (anything)?

Do you immerse yourself and get your hands dirty? Do you speak about and think about it all the time? Do you work for it, with intent? Do you put in everything, and leave it to fate to come back to you?

Or do you always keep one foot out? Do you do everything you can do, but not everything you want to?

Do you race to the top?
Or do you race to the bottom?

The difference is always clear as a crystal to oneself.
Try intent today! I sure will.

Inspired by Seth Godin's post today.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Dealing with a crisis

I've been going through a personal crisis of sorts and it's taking a toll on the energy left for everything else. 

1 week later as I have painfully realized, here is a list of things you should (must) do when you are going through the same: 

1) Practice patience - this too shall pass. Time will heal. While you wait and sleep on actions, things miraculously change. You feel much better in the morning after a good nights sleep! 

2) Stay positive - this mind of yours is amazingly powerful. It can simulate the worst and the best scenarios, all equally sneaky in messing with your head. Remember to keep the mind in check.
(Don't let your mind think like these veggies) 

3) Expect the worst and the best - I find this technique quite useful if you have a creative mind. Imagine the best and the worst case scenario. Once you do that, you will face the reality of the issue at hand. You will realize that it's all not such a big deal! 

4) Feel lucky and take care of yourself - I can't stress enough on this on. Imagine the best case working out and go to bed, eat healthy and stay away from binge eating (alcohol too), put on your best clothes and your best look and put a smile on your face. 

5) Find your relax routine - mine is stripping my clothes after a long work day, throwing on an old t-shirt, grabbing home cooked dinner with a cold fruit juice, and watching things that make me laugh (kutti chutties, John Oliver, and Tamil movie comedies).

6) Reach out - The most important step of the process - form a board of directors and reach out to them. Meet them, talk to them, and just spend time with them. Your board of directors are typically people who can understand that you are going through something real, are positive, are sensible, and are willing to be there for you. (I have the most amazing board of directors. You know who you are - I am immensely lucky to have you guys)

I am doing every one of these 6 things and I promise you that I feel so much more in control. The crisis is not really one - it can and will be solved. The emotions are not permanent - they can and will transform. 

Life always does! Hold on tight, you're amazing :* 

(Feel free to reach out to me, if you think I can be useful as your crisis board member) 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Living alone

I've been living alone the past 10 ish days. My flat mates are both out of town and it's been a tremendous time alone. 

I've been lonely, not alone. I enjoy alone.  

As I came home to an empty apartment every evening, I asked myself many questions about solitude. I don't spend every waking moment with my flat mates when they are around. It's a 10 minute conversation and some laughter; sharing. 

No. I realized, it's more than that - it's the assurance of acceptance next door; it's knowing my company; it's the comfort familiarity provides; it's trust; it's safety; it's belonging. It's all the emotions I associate with my friends. 

And as I looked inside, I felt other things - fear and incompetency growing on me; deserted, unwanted, and unhappy. It was as if my deepest fears chose the perfect time to resurface. Today, I chose to fight these thoughts with some loud music, pizza, and coke. They left the building faster than they entered. If only I had done this every night! 

Yet, the question remains. Why do I feel this? Why couldn't I handle this week in comfort of knowing they'll be home soon? It is quite difficult to be lonely with access to internet. Yet, I managed to pursue that emotion. 

I believe the answer lies in me refusing to look. I believe the answer lies in asking myself these questions, till I find the reason for my fears. I believe the answer lies in asking why over and over again. I believe the answer lies in diverting this energy into something productive.

I won't be lonely then, will I?

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Looking into her eyes

I've blogged about this before. And I find myself compelled to write about this again.

More than 2 years after I wrote about being shy when saying thank you and not looking at someone's eyes, I am glad to say I've changed that pattern!

Today, I find myself looking for opportunities everywhere to say my thank yous. And when I do look into the eyes of the person, there's a moment of connection. I am also starting to think that those moments of connection go a long way in building existing relationships and forging new ones.

Here it is - easy peasy. Before you begin to say something make eye contact. That''ll establish a pull which will help you get the words going. Smile if you must, and continue talking.

Congratulations, you've just made a new friend!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Living in Kairos

I watched this amazing movie called Kakka Muttai. It's a simple story about 2 brothers living in a slum in Chennai and their quest to eat a pizza. 

The story is a non-judgmental take on people and their wants.. 

As much as I loved the tiny well-portrayed scenes, what I loved the most was the overarching theme - the kids live in their kairos. Kairos is a greek word that signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. 


Picking up coals that get them 15 cents a day. Staring at the sky for hours thinking about how they'll earn bucks to buy a pizza. Climbing trees. Stealing crow's eggs. Leaving an egg for the crow. Petting a puppy. Trying to sell their stray puppy. Innocent smiles. Innocent questions. Mother's love. Aaya's love. Aaya's presence of mind when she tries to recreate the pizza with dosa and veggies. Enjoying the TV. Counting the hard earned money. 'My name is chinna kakka muttai' introductions. Thirst to earn their pizza by themselves. 

Unassuming, beautiful time spent as kairos. 

Watch the movie. Or think about your kairos. I tried it today - stopped myself from focusing on multiple things at the same time; tried directing thoughts towards one point; tried enjoying the MRT ride with my eyes closed. It was pleasurable - the same things I do every day were even more pleasurable. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

90 per cent rule

I came across this gem of an idea while reading Essentialism by Greg Mckeown.

Every important decision you take, you ask yourself to place the option on a 100 mark scale. 

If it's not above 90, it's out. 

If it's not a definite yes, it's a no. 

Why would you want to choose an option you only feel 65% about? 

Monday, 20 April 2015

The sound of greatness

The young girl walks up around the foyer and on to the stage. There's an endearing elderly woman on the stage welcoming her with a warm smile. Beside her are a few other men and women, all paying attention to the young girl as she treads on the steps to the stage. After a little hesitation, she lifts her head up in confidence, taking the cue from those on stage.

She walks up to the elderly woman feeling glory right up to the brim of her self.

As she receives the prize, she hears the resounding claps of her friends, teachers, and of the entire school assembly.

She takes it all in.

That's how she'll remember success; every time she does something well, makes something work, helps someone understand something, and goes places.

She remembers the sound of the claps. She remembers her self full of glory. She remembers her ability to make waves. In her own tiny way.


I am thankful to my school for so many things. It made me who I am. And of all the things I learnt at Chettinad, I will remember this - the sound of greatness, the sound of claps.

This particular memory of mine, is not just my own. It is that of every student who studied in my school. We were given the opportunity to shine at whatever we chose - even if it was the greatness of showing up at school without taking one day of absence in a whole school year. My correspondent, Meena Aunty as we called her and her team of management, is skilled at creating stars - stars of all kinds.

My confidence comes from a place of worthiness. A place with foundations my school and teachers helped build.

I replay this moment in my head when I need courage, when I need assurance that I can do something.



And as I write this I recall another memory of mine. The great Abdul Kalam once visited my school for a science expo. I've never been in the presence of anyone so great up until that day. Standing with all my school mates, we cheered for him as he entered the auditorium. We clapped. We clapped. And we clapped.

Until there were tiny tears in my eyes.

Many would call it a Rajnikanth moment. A super star moment.

And as he started speaking, we listened intently. One could hear a pin drop in that big room with all those students.

Today, I don't remember what he said. But I definitely remember how I felt being there. I remember feeling greatness. I remember celebrating his success through our claps. Claps.


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Look, keep looking

My phone's reception, battery life, and response speed signal the same conclusion everyday - phone's getting old.

I restart, reset, and refresh apps to signal back everyday - I won't give up yet.
 Just yesterday though, while I was losing some patience with my phone's 3G reception, I realized something - I have a 4G option?!?!!!  

I swiped it on and it felt like the Internet worked at double the speed. After some googling, I realized I had this option for more than a year. I just never knew! 

Solutions are at hand and within reach. For those who know where to look. For those who know how to look. For those who don't give up.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Less, but better

I watched this lovely video, where Greg Mckeown talks about essentialism! If you have an hour for tv shows, watch this instead :)

Less, but better.

More, needn't be the only way to go. The alternative is less, but better.

Focus, clarity, and effectiveness are the key thought principles of this idea - essentialism.

Mckeown talks about the opposite of our recent obsession with the undisciplined pursuit of more and proposes - the disciplined pursuit of less. Meetings all day, calendars scheduled from 7AM till 10PM, discussions with lunch, presentations with dinner. This sort of a life builds up more and more when you are climbing up the career ladder.

I am not even on a career ladder yet, and I find myself in not-so-productive meetings, just because.

Outside work, I obsess with how much I have on my plate. I try to do a lot of things, because that seems to be the only way to go.

Recently, I realized something when I was speaking to a wiser, older friend. He is a very busy man, a very typical A-game player. He's always doing something, somewhere! He shared his secret though - while he schedules meetings and dinners, he also schedules thinking time. Time that is untouchable - friends, family, and team. He calls it his synthesis time.

There's a similar story about the great Bill Gates. He used to shut himself up in a cabin for a week, and process ideas for the future of his company. He calls it his think week!

Mckeown also touches on priority, the singular and not priorities, the plural as we have made it in the 21st century! A bulb went off in my head when I heard that.

This week, I am narrowing my thoughts and efforts to my priority - at work and outside. One step at a time, I am going to try out this approach!

Good luck to you!

Remember, less but better!

PS: I've just ordered his book on amazon, more to come after the reading!