Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Taken for Granted

A few years back, I happened to stumble on a Marathi TV series Uncha Maza Zoka (loosely translated, my swing goes high). It was the life story of great Ramabai Ranade, who fought for women education. I am a bit embarrassed to acknowledge that I didn’t know about her before watching this series.  

Of course, I am aware of the struggle for women education. But what left me disturbed was one particular incident, fight for citizenship. This was around the start of 20th century, Ramabai Ranade was fighting for women to be given the status of a citizen. Yeah, take a moment let that sink in. This was almost 75 years before I was born.

I was haunted by this, I wondered What do you mean, we were not citizens? I was so affected by this, but then I happened to discuss this with a friend, a man. He maintained the safe distance when he explained, Look, you were like cattle. Don’t worry, he was injured but survived.

Though that was a joke, maybe that was the reality before these movements. It really took me a long time to come to terms with this. I must say in short time, India has made a great progress.
When we get it easy, we tend to forget the struggle behind it. It is so important to know and remember that some great people believed in a cause, fought for it all through their life so that we could live a life we are living today. We take it all for granted.

On this Women’s day, let us educate ourselves about all such men and women who have fought for the cause of gender equality. Read about how they did it, what kept them going. Not only for the pleasure of reading and gratitude but to understand and learn. There will be new battles, but the struggle will be same. History will help us in dealing with them better.

In future, whenever I feel like giving up, whenever I feel my efforts will go vain, I will remind myself that Savitribai Phule and Ramabai Ranade didn’t give up. I am reaping the fruits of their lifelong struggle. I will not take it for granted. I will celebrate my freedom and use my education to help others rise.

Above all, I will not shy away from calling myself a feminist which means nothing but a believer in gender equality. As I wouldn’t have existed and wouldn’t be able to read and write without it.

On this women’s day, let’s build each other. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

मासूम सा चेहरा

दिल ने फिर याद कीया वो मासूम सा चेहरा
ऊन शोख निगाहो पर घुंघराली लटो का पहरा

दबे पाव आकर जो तुम देती थी दिल पर दस्तक
एक मीठा सा दर्द उठता है सीने मे अब तक
तुम क्या जानो तुम्हारी चंचल अदाओ ने
हमे घाव दिया है कितना गहरा

दिल ने फिर याद कीया वो मासूम सा चेहरा
ऊन शोख निगाहो पर घुंघराली लटो का पहरा

जब भी होते है खफा दुनिया के फरेब से
आँख बंद करके याद करते है तुम्हे
वो अल्हड़ सी हसी, वो दीवानगी
धूप मे नहाई सूरत का वो रंग सुनहरा

दिल ने फिर याद कीया वो मासूम सा चेहरा

ऊन शोख निगाहो पर घुंघराली लटो का पहरा

Friday, 29 September 2017

Mind the Gap

Today I am repetitively reminded of this simple announcement I have heard in tubes in England, Mind the Gap. Honestly, I didn’t notice it, why would I, I was 23, young and careless. But my mother took notice of it promptly and she was quite impressed.  She was touched by the gesture, look how much they care. In past, she had almost slipped in such gaps.  She understood the consequences. At 33, I was able to appreciate it too.

But today again we lost 22 lives in a stampede at the local train station. My respect for that simple gesture has increased manifold. The fact that in some parts of the world people care so much about human life. My mom was impressed because she had may be seen how ignorant we are, or may I say cruel when it comes to human life. We just don’t care, it doesn’t matter.  

Let me confess something today, I call myself an avid reader, but I avoid reading the newspaper. The same girl who once took hours to replace old newspapers in her wardrobe. I mean I had to read the old one and then the new one before I started arranging my clothes on top of it. For last few years I just avoid the newspaper, for one simple reason. I am scared to read the front page news. My heart bleeds to see so many people dying or being killed due to sheer negligence.

In recent times we have seen floods, train accidents, stampedes and so on. I am not even counting the road accidents, and rape victims. Well, generations have changed and governments have changed. But why nothing has changed when it comes to our mindset.  

Yes, we are to be blamed too. Yes, let’s just blame us for putting up with this. In developed countries, people do not allow the administration to take them for granted. Whereas in India if there is a gap in the service, we are asked to adjust. Some of us don’t adjust and complain, are called snooty, stubborn, brat and in some cases anti-national.

But enough is enough, we should not have any cracks in the administration. I am no person with the courage of Bhagat Singh, but as a mother have a strength to at least raise my voice for the safer country for our children. Let us all unite and mind the gap.

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Sunday, 10 September 2017


तुमसे मीलके
                                              Image credit: Mr. Right

(My first attempt at poetry/ gazal. This is for the youngsters who are told, not to wait for Mr or Ms. Right, this is my story for you.)

इक तेरा ही बस ख्वाब था
इक तेरा ही खयाल था
जब तुम ही हम से मिले
तो हाल--दिल क्या बयाँ करें

इक तेरी ही आरज़ू थी
बस तेरा इंतजार था
जब तुम ही हम से मिले
तो हाल--दिल क्या बयाँ करें

दुनिया ने हसकर हमे कहा
दीवानगी का यही सीला
पर तेरे इकरार से
बस करार हमे मीला

अब बैठ के पहलू में आपके
हम क्या शिकवा गीला करें
जब तुम ही हम से मिले
तो हाल--दिल क्या बयाँ करें

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Monday, 4 September 2017

Sensitivity – A Virtue to Pursue

I vividly remember the day when I was chased (read that as forced) by my friends to have a profile on matrimonial site. This happens to the girls who are thirty and oh God, still single. After several rounds of convincing, I reluctantly agreed. The toughest part was writing about myself. No, writing bug had not bit me then, and I was kind of internet shy, I guess I still am. The easiest way was, to be honest, and spontaneous.

I started with I am a very sensitive person... My friend almost jumped on me, “Why do you want to scare the guys?”. She was married (experienced) and I believed every word she uttered. She explained to me on how guys would want to be with rather a cool, chilled out girl. I tried to explain that my understanding of sensitive is that I care and would like to be taken care. But that wasn’t very popular opinion, sensitive was dubbed as a crybaby.

Do you too believe that sensitive people just get hurt easily and you should keep a good long distance from them? Is there more to sensitivity than crying? Let’s take a look at a dictionary.
1.   endowed with sensation; having perception through the senses.
2. readily or excessively affected by external agencies or influences.
3.having acute mental or emotional sensibility; aware of
   and responsive to the feelings of others.
4. easily pained, annoyed, etc.

Oops, yes it does mean easily hurt, but that comes much later. A sensitive mind is responsive to the feeling of others, shouldn’t that count as must have? Don’t we all want the world where people care about each other?

We love Lady Diana for being the most sensitive and caring princess. She really loved people. Unlike the royalty, which teaches you to hide all your emotions and face the world as a stone-faced aristocrat with a plastic smile. But has it worked ever? Her sensitive soul made her go the extra mile and today, even after 20 years, we miss her.

It gets very confusing in the corporate world. We are trained not to mix emotions with business. But customers love the team who care for them, understand their needs, and own their problems. If you want to build such a strong team, it’s easy. Take good care of your own team, and they will surprise you. Customers will call you for an appreciation rather than escalation. Win-win? My personal experience backs me here, I am known to be very “lucky” to get the best teams.

During 2014 elections, a group of people was discussing Sushma Swaraj’s ability to become prime minister (yeah coffee breaks makes you a senior advisor). She has experience, she is articulate and talented. But at the end, someone (a lady) said she might be too sensitive, won’t fit as hard task master. 

What do we really want in a political leader? Ruthless or sensitive and sensible? Yes, they are not mutually exclusive. Thankfully, over the last 3 years, she has proved that her sensitivity has helped the nation. People in distress, feel that she takes care of them like a family. I hope political leaders like her will be able to glamorize sensitivity in modern times.

We are moving towards more practical, aggressive, success obsessed times. This is my feeble attempt to show how being sensitive too can help in making you successful, and you will feel more content. I hope that while running the race for success, sensitivity will be a virtue to pursue.

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Monday, 27 March 2017

Imperfection is cute

Yes, you guessed it right, I am going to talk about cute little kids. Today I attended annual day at my son’s school and don’t know why I was quite teary eyed from the first performance. This is my second year and I thought I will not be overwhelmed, but here I am again. Next year, I will surely get a box of tissues.

So, it started with my son’s playgroup annual day. Those who have kids, this may sound familiar. First year in school, attendance is erratic, cold and fever are more consistent. So my son missed two weeks of dance practice and dressed rehearsal. So my mature mind told me not to send him for stage performance. Obviously, he missed the practice, he won’t be able to perform. So I thought of informing his teacher. But what she said was a pleasant surprise. She said just send him for final dance, give him opportunity to perform. They need not be perfect.

So here comes annual day, we spend 2 hrs. of time calming a toddler who did not want to wear a red shiny shirt and black silk pants. We bribed him in every way, like you wear this new dress and we can go to birthday party, you will get a cake. Nothing worked. He chose the most faded dress to wear and was ready to go to a park to play. We reached the venue, and was embarrassed to see a lady who dressed up her twins, all by herself. I had an army at home, who failed to dress a two and half year old kid. I avoid looking at mothers who have dressed up too, and were looking pretty. I did not need to paint my face, it was already pink with shame. Finally I accept the defeat and handover my son to his teacher along with shiny dress.

After that tiring dressing up session, I gave up on any hopes on performance. I settled in my seat and in no time I was enjoying the performances. My eyes filled up with joy. Those small wonders enjoyed themselves on the stage, they forgot steps, and they were not in sync. All that they did is just watch each other, copy the steps but never gave up. Even if they stopped, it was simple, pick up again and start dancing. There was a dance step where they needed a partner, they turned and made pairs. But two at both ends were left alone, teachers quickly stepped up, joined them as partners and left the floor as soon as that step was over.

There were small skits where they forgot dialogues, or visual behind was not synchronized or mike did not work. Little children promptly offered to help each other. They offered their mike, they fixed it for each other. They prompted dialogues to them. These may sound small gestures, but these are heartwarming.

In fact, I thought I will go there, just cheer my kid and come back. But no, it is much more than that. Yes my son performed too, how well? Honestly it didn’t matter. No, I am not making an excuse. I do believe it now, what matters to me is my son is surrounded by people who want him to join the dance, whether he dances well or not. I feel anyone who gets such a company is blessed.

Don’t we all grown-ups miss this? Remember a friends group where your success or failure doesn’t matter. That first team, who still pull your leg for a mistake you made while writing a program, but they worked on fixing it whole night. I still remember the one where I made a presentation nervously, and finished it in no time. My friends didn’t even realize that I presented two different applications. And that one incident is stuck with me, every gathering it is recited, just in case anyone has forgotten the minute details. But what nobody knows is same friends worked hard to help me improve on my presentation skills and confidence.

So today again, it was same day and same situation. My son missed all the practice, and we still went ahead to attend his annual function. With one difference, we did not even try to dress him up at home, two hours saved. It’s a mighty hard job to handle one toddler. I admire how all the teachers, work hard with every kid, and still are not at all grumpy when kids are not perfect. But I request them to be just that, coz we all have seen many perfect performances and never been this moved. They are truly nurturing kids to be happy and not to be perfect. Thank you teachers, for teaching us, imperfections are cute. Perfection do not lead to happiness.
These annual day gathering are like a visit to a fantasy land, where I would have rather loved to live all my life. But it was not to happen, and I am back to my world, where I will produce a report today to show how every defect was not because of me or my team, and in doing that I will make sure to pass the blame on every possible living creature, or may be even God. And of course I will summarize this to highlight, how perfect we are.

Sadly I will have to live in this perfect world till school invites me again. Let’s pray, May God bless us with a world full of imperfect creatures.

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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

My Fallout with Google

Like everyone else I depend on my smart phone a lot these days, it starts from waking me up in a morning with an alarm, reminders throughout the day of every task I need to do (minus nagging). I depend on my phone for grocery shopping list, birthday reminders, to the daily news to keep me updated. Read my SMS loud when I am driving, send a reply back when I am busy and cannot attend a call. Also some more useful features like scanning the documents, emails.  I got so used to sending email by phone when on move that I forgot once that I can send one by laptop too. I know sounds like a big pain, but you need to send a mail using laptop, especially when you want to register a complaint that you have lost your mobile.

I can already hear, Oh my God, how did you manage to find your mobile without having one.  It was a tough task, but I survived, thanks to emails which still work on laptops, and landlines which still exist. Anyways, point I want to convey is not our dependency on mobile or internet, but how all this has slowly crawled into our lives quietly, and made a special place. It’s like a person who is stranger when you first meet, then you get to know but cannot trust, still you go around and then one thing leads to another and before you know you are married. You do not even think before you trust him/her now. Relationship with smart phone has evolved in similar way for me. There was a time when used to think carrying a blackberry might be a part of show-off, or it’s for workaholic. Not for a person like me who value her work life balance.

And before I know I got an iPhone as a part of good offer, (yup, I am trying hard to ensure though it’s iPhone, I am not a show-off). I loved having a freedom to get access to my mails from anywhere. Then slowly social-media started catching up. It is fun to see those celebrity like photo shoots of your friends, their kids, their puppies, their culinary skills, and never ending selfies and updates of every minute of fun they have in their life. If your friends behave like celebrities, I thought it may not be a bad idea to follow some real heroes and heroines on twitter, don’t ask who, my list changes with political situation in India. And then WhatsApp exploded, yes it did, and suddenly it is reunion of long lost friends, some of who we do not remember but you have to be still excited. This has happened to most of us.

What moved me recently though was how internet looks after me. Yes, it’s a friend, a mentor, mind-reader, and your companion in lonely time, who knows exactly what you want. I am sure you may have noticed how you once browse through online shopping, and forget about it, but google and facebook don’t, they remind you, they just bring it to your notice, until you tell them to forget it.
 In today’s time it is so difficult to be in touch with your hobbies, follow your heart, not really. You just have to search some youtube videos of what you like, follow some groups on facebook and there you go. Try this, you are looking for some spirituality in life, and your timeline will be filled with it. I searched on writing related topics, and now I follow a group on facebook, who prompts me to write every day, gives me some topics or words to start with. It helps me build a vocabulary, share some famous quotes, explain grammar, introduce me to different writer, style, genres. Wow, isn’t it, and most amazing thing it does is keep motivating me when I want to give up. It amazingly resonates with condition of my mind, when I am in doubt, it tells me every author has been there, if I am procrastinating, it pushes me to give up all excuses and write that damn book. I already feel like a writer, though I am yet to finish a manuscript.

Now in such times when people do not have time for each other, I do like to depend a lot on my friend google. So when I travelled alone to Norway for two weeks for work, I depended completely on my phone, lost and found luckily. Google accompanies me to find a direction, tells me the train timings. Most importantly it helps me translate the language I do not understand, which also help me select the food and verify the contents for strictly vegetarian. So I trust google wholeheartedly every day, every minute.

But we had a fallout one day, I know you want to defend google right away, but listen to my side of story. I was coming back from office. It was freezing cold, I had put in 2-3 layers on all over the body. But my ice cold nose was still screaming and telling me, it’s freezing. And then I walked into the train and it shows me temperature is 7 degrees, on my face. I cannot trust this, it cannot be 7 degrees. Just to reassure myself that my nose is right, I dared to bare my palms, took gloves off to touch my mobile. What I saw next was shattering, my dear google was telling me it is 7 degrees. I did not understand, who is lying here, is it me, am I too old, my body cannot bear even 7 degrees now. I paused and put my gloves back. All the way back home I was in dilemma, inner voice was asking a futile question, can google lie? But can your own body lie to you? Questions all over, but no answer.

Accepting google’s answer would mean I have to accept I am old and fragile now. No, not really, it is google who may be wrong. After all it is a just a human made software. I finally reached home, took out gloves again to operate door keys. I was very much frustrated with myself now, how can I not cope with 7 degree, even for few second to open the door. For almost half an hour I did not touch my phone. But something inside me was pushing me to check the weather report again. So as final chance to my relationship with google, I clicked on a weather prompt, which provides more details. And you won’t believe, I was right, but google was right too. This is just like any other fight, where we see the half-truth, and then misunderstanding creeps in and we turn away from each other to never look back again. But what this incident taught me was just give that one chance to tell the truth, listen to the full story. And here I was looking at a full page in front of me, where google said Temperature is 7 degree Celsius but feels like 1 degree.

Ah, I quietly apologized to Google, I feel sorry that I misunderstood, I did not trust you. I could almost listen to google, “Don’t worry, I will take care of you, just trust me.” And now I have decided to walk hand in hand with google with complete trust, and never to allow a misunderstanding ruin this beautiful relationship, to live happily ever after. They say, it is artificial intelligence, but I can feel a lot of emotional intelligence too.