Sunday, 10 September 2017

Gazal

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.
sensitive
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.


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Let’s dress it down now………..

I was reading a blog and came across the line ‘some place where I party with my friends and let my hair down’ and I was like wow… partying with no pressure to dress up, sounds like fun. Isn’t it? Fun is what parties are meant for, but then where did we lose it. No I haven’t really lost it completely yet, ‘coz of my sane company from college where no one is bothered or interested in what you are wearing, and whether you have right pair of footwear to go with it, jewelry is hardly noticed and no one has any knowledge and interest in latest trends and only make-up is ear to ear smile, sorry smile doesn’t really fits in a college gang, so it’s laughter riots and insane jokes, which surely keeps us all sane (Not sure about our better halves and neighbors though J ).

Ok why does it really bothers me so much? Do I hate dressing up? No I love when other people do and I compliment them. But for me, it depends on my mood, occasion and for sure time I have in my hand. Also do I have washed and ironed clothes in my cupboard.

Once I was having a feeling very low and one my friend was throwing a dinner party which I denied with an honest reason that I am in no mood. What she told me I still remember clearly, she said you can dress up and that will cheer you up. And it surely helps at most times. But again that was not an era of fancy restaurants, it was a dinner with a gang, and only thing we may inquire about the place will be whether they serve Punjabi food and we will be in a good mood even after the bill is paid. We didn’t bother about the ambience and they won’t bother if we appear in chappals.

But just as we grew older and wiser and richer (maybe), things changed. Once we visited some fancy club. We were denied an entry, as one of us thought kolhapuri chappals will make him stand out, and yes it did, we all stood out literally. No it didn’t spoil the party, we went to a place where they allowed us, cracked all the possible poor jokes on kolhapuri chappals and laughed our heart out and thankfully were not thrown out again.

Things are pretty different now. Somehow the lifestyle which was for celebrities and it was fun to read about it in magazines, have become part of our life too. So dressing up has gone to the next level. I mean for long I worked in same office and was sometimes told to sober down on tone. But now I hear the talk about how power dressing is important. Pretty difficult to do once you have worked all night on dressing up your presentation too. I really wish more companies adopt Steve Jobs way of dressing up and simple text presentations in corporate world, will spare some time for real innovations.

For Indian girls (let’s avoid saying ladies) it’s pretty stressful. I mean you have to have all the western clothes and with right footwear for the weekend parties with friends. There are different attires for movie dates and mall visits, for weddings, kid’s birthday parties. I just hope there is no dress code yet for vising the grocery shop and vegetable vendors. Then you have to turn into desi avatar for any occasion on in-laws side, so that you look like well-mannered daughter-in-law (Sundar susheel bahu), but be very careful here, you might meet someone of your generation in same party and you should not look like an aunty, so go and take up the challenge of choosing that dress and make up nowJ.

The thing I fear most is when I have to throw a birthday party for my kid. I mean you have to first think of a theme, then think of a kids menu. When I was a kid, it was just called food, and it was for all generation, may be subset with less spice was served to kids. And kids were asked to sit down at a place and told to eat quietly. Wow, those were the days, not now. You clean up the whole place, I mean dress up the place first. Dress up your whole family, may be in color coordinated way (yes if u want extra compliments). Pray to God that your kid don’t feed anything to his new dress as you all may need to change again to keep up with theme. Prepare 10-15 food items but make sure your kitchen looks like you have never used it. Then dress up the dining table, use right crockery, cutlery, arrange food in a way that it looks like a piece of art, your guest must feel like clicking the snaps, sorry make it a selfie. And last but not the least, yes your salad also need to be dressed up.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Selfless Women's Day

Yes Women’s day is here again and I am reading a lot of messages, jokes on social media sitting alone in my office cabin. I know irony of social media. Coming back to women’s day, my mind is always confused about the special days whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other, if this is a right way, why should we need a day to express our love, respect or any other feelings and it just goes on with no definite answer. But clearly if you keep a day at least you make sure you think about that topic and rest is to everyone to follow it for full year or not. So let’s leave it there.
So amidst all the good and well-meaning messages what bothered me are few words which are associated with women. As Sheryl Sandberg says there are too many stereotypes we are associated with and some are now becoming the ones modern women may not identify with. So the adjective which bothered me the most was selfless (followed by giving, sacrificing) and I asked myself am I? I repeated several times, but answer is still coming as no, a clear and consistent no. And then I have go through a lot of turmoil, the one every women identifies with, if I am a good mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law. And here I am struggling with the ultimate one, if I am not selfless whether I am a woman or not?
I mean come on how can I not be selfless, I sure am. I mean all that I did till date was for others isn’t it? Sure, I went to college, lived my life on my own terms, wasn’t an obedient daughter, just so that I can take care of my parents when they are old. Ah that solves, at least daughter part, and I am sure when I ask my parents about that, they will surely tell me that I was completely selfless, I mean there is no one better than me. It’s a pure selfless act.
Now let’s move to more challenging one. I have taken enough efforts to convince my husband that I am being selfless when I let him watch all the sports, I in fact keep track of major events and switch on TV when it’s time. I mean who can ask for more than that. I let him cook in kitchen so that he can take care of himself when he is away. I let him take care of kid, so that he gets that much needed work life balance. Remember, I even accompanied you to a movie leaving 6 month old kid home, that’s the ultimate sacrifice for an Indian mother, and it can’t get better than that.
Oops, did I mess up my chances of being awarded most sacrificing Mom of the year, no baby I love you. No I didn’t leave you home when I went for movie, you are always with me in my thoughts, in my heart. I just need to go out absorb all the experiences and come home so that I can be better informed Mom. That was just for you, do you see how much I learnt from that movie, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, see how much you are running these days. Ah all my efforts are paying me back now. Let me make a list of all the other movies I need to catch up on. I know motherhood is a huge responsibility. Am I a selfless mother now, yeah baby, selfless is always a silent adjective when you say mother. Nope, there are no selfish mothers tribe, they don’t exist.



Oh no, I am exhausted with this, do I have any energy left for proving myself a selfless daughter-in-law now (that’s a tricky job). No, modern women won’t give up easily, let me make a feeble attempt at it. Try to recollect, Karvachauth? Remember, I kept a fast by eating all the sabudana items pretty fast every 2 hrs, and I made your son exercise so that he can live a healthy, long life. No? asking your husband to exercise won’t count? so I guess keeping him away from all fried food and sweets won’t count either. Gifting your mother-in-law a diet book and weighing machine? seriously even gifts are not counted, this is unfair. Let me try harder, give me few more minutes, just 1 more minute, I am sure there is something.

Okay, I give up. But I promise, by next year I will come up with a list of selfless acts in all roles or ensure that this one adjective is sacrificed selflessly by all women for women’s sake. Yes ladies, we can sacrifice and live well without that one. 

Monday, 29 February 2016

Science and commerce is killing Arts

Date: 25-Mar-2014

Every day we start radio and then switch to our collection of old melodious music, and say “Why don’t we have good music today”. What have we lost is soft music which doesn’t overshadow meaningful lyrics and beautiful voice of singers. How come we do not have such good singers now, how we do not have good music now? It’s so difficult to understand. Every now and then we say this new generation is so smart, and yet what we see is outcome is quite disappointing. Question still unanswered why?
And then it took me to my school days when we were not allowed to use calculators till college. Once you start using calculators you almost lose how to add or multiply those numbers in your head or even on paper. So is this new technology a reason? Being an Engineer it feels sad to blame it on technology (Science). But whatever I have heard is there is a lot that can be improved by Sound Engineering. Earlier singers had to sit and riyaz (practice) for years to improve; now you have machines to do this job, easy way out. And with new generation, comes more smartness less patience. No one will allow a delay of day to record a song ‘coz singer or music director is not completely satisfied. They will go ahead, record and then improve it. You don’t even need to sing in live shows, that all can be managed ;). Now who will waste their time in Riyaz, they will use that time for grooming and marketing.
Now let’s talk about lyrics (close to my heart), where are they. It is so difficult to even notice and remember ones. Why? Simply ‘coz good soft meaningful songs are not saleable entity. Who has time for in-depth emotions expressed through lyrics? Come-on this is a generation who knows how to get over a break-up in 30 mins, who will listen to:
Tu is tarah se meri zindagi mein shameel hai
jahan bhi jaun yeh lagta hai teri mehfil hai

Yeh aasman yeh badal ye raastey ye hava
har ek cheez hai apni jagat thikane pe
kai dino se shikayat nahin zamane se
(my favorite line)

What sells in today’s time is a hit number. I never understood why it’s called number, I am old fashioned and still call it song. May be it makes sense if you understand commerce. You have one hit dance number, which can be played in parties, you have cracked it. Youngsters want to watch that one song on big screen to copy those dance steps in party. Easiest promotion of movie, isn’t it? Does now calling a song as number makes sense…..
For the whole movie business, it’s all about science and commerce now. It’s all about one weekend business, 3 nights 2 day package. What gets audience to theatre is just promotion. After 3 days pirated movie recordings are all over the internet. No word of mouth publicity, no great reviews can help. So why would producer bother for it. Half of movie’s budget is spent on promotion. Other half is on bankable stars (not actors or artists), who work a lot in gym for six pack abs and zero figures, wear good designer clothes, recipe for a perfect blockbuster masala movie.
I am still not cynical about it. Though Science and Commerce is everywhere now, I am optimistic that Arts will still make it’s way. Some good movies sometimes do well at box office and we call it Commercial art movie J. Yes new definition is whenever there is a story and some acting in a movie it is called as Art Movie.
Umeed pe duniya kayam hai. Let’s hope for some good lyricists to take time out and write soulful songs, some music director to arrange music to enhance lyrics and some singer to just sing it with simplicity and emotions to touch audience hearts. Till then, we will listen to old melodies and say

Woh din kabhi to aayega……………………….