Thursday, 4 August 2016
Friday, 3 June 2016
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
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
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
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
Thursday, 24 September 2015
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.
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
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 forget. And then remember to water.
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
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
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
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
Sunday, 21 June 2015
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
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
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
Monday, 20 April 2015
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
Monday, 6 April 2015
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!