Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hi, Alisha ! You are more than a Winner

Hi, Alisha ! You are more than a winner !!

Just to tell you, you ARE more than a winner ! So what, the “ sunhari takdir ki topi” - the winning title in the Dance India Dance competition, went to Salman and you missed it by a whisker – and won the 2nd position ?? I could not miss whatever there was in your eyes when the results were declared – hence this post.

Believe it – you were simply phenomenal and what is important is the fact that you have transcended your natural boundaries.

Salman is also a fabulous dancer and so are a few other boys like Jay, Mayuresh, Prince and a few other girls like Khushboo & Bhavna Purohit etc. But when it comes to the boys, who performed superbly – my take is: it is more like operating within their natural boundaries. The physicalities, that Nature has endowed the men with, actually aid and support the dancing ventures – call it stunts or power-exuding postures – that these boys executed. Well, that is not to take away from them the credit for their powerpacked performance with remarkable grace and grit, for which they deserve all kudos. I am saying this just to make a point, just to make all pause for a moment and think about what is actually happening to the hugely talented participants from the fairer gender.

Think of the girls ! Nature has designed their body and physicalities differently for other purposes and naturally, it does not support taking excessive physical strain as a male body can. Nevertheless, these girl participants did what not (!) to match up – in physical stamina - especially Alisha ! On top of that, a woman’s body also sets many other limitations, in every sense of the term. A woman’s woes !! Does anyone ever spare even a nanosecond to visualise how the girl participants might be coping with the practice and dance schedules – nonstop – for 18 weeks ( for long periods ) !!

Add to that, the types and magnitude of psycho-social barriers a girl has to break to set her free to do what she wants to do – pursue her passion and showcase her talent in full glare of public view.

And yet, these girls demonstrate the courage to compete with the boys on equal footing ! And match up !! Well, matching up has nothing to do with whether you finally win the particular competition or not – which depends upon public voting as per the format of the show – and there again, who does not know the biases, the basis of votings ? Talent is not its sole determinant, as even the worst critic of women would admit. Matching up is when you leave the stage amidst the wild applause of the gallery and tears in the eyes of the mentors ( the judges - experts who are legitimately capable to judge your talent), fully satisfied within yourself that you have done a 101% job and were no less than the ones who get to continue in the competition !!

This dance competition is only a small example of what a woman actually goes through to get her fair share in all walks of life.

But despite all barriers, hurts and biases over the ages, there have been many sung and unsung women, who transcend all their boundaries and match up to men in all walks of life. At the most, the world says ‘ Wow ! a woman has done as good as a man’ – but very few realise or give the credit to her for the fact that in so achieving, it has taken her at least twice as much as the man !!

Reminds me of what Vince Lombardi once observed :

“Nothing is more unequal than the equal treatment of the unequals .”


Errr.. have I started sounding like a feminist? Well, I did not mean to raise placards against the menfolk ( my father was a man, my brothers are and my husband is ! I love them all !! ) I just wanted to make the Alishas feel legitimately proud of themselves and carry on undetered by so-called failures to lift trophies in some competitions. Plus I wanted to reflect ( and make you reflect, too) on concepts like “winning”, “competition”, “success”, “ accomplishment”, “ achievement motivation” and put them to perspective – in short, what is it that really matters at the end of the day ? Is it to win or to achieve, to accomplish ?

Actually, I am not really averse to competitions as such or even competition among participants of both genders. That, in fact, brings out the best in each – by setting benchmarks, by continuously increasing the bar. But beyond a certain point( i.e benchmarking against others in the similar field of expertise), competitions are not important finally. Ultimately, what matters is the attitude with which you participate and the attitude with which the gallery looks at it ! True competition lies in competing with yourself – beating your former self everytime.

Personally, I am rather averse to the termwinning” !! Winning has ‘others’ at its centre – you focus on what others are doing: to win you must defeat others.

To my mind, more than an urge to‘win’, it is healthier to have an “accomplishment attitude” or an “achievement motivation”, or a ‘winning attitude” and let me clarify winning and winning attitude are different. Winning is a specific incident of winning; whereas winning attitude is the quality of perseverence – the ability to bounce back after every fall and continue running the race to accomplish what you had set out for ! An accomplishment attitude will always have ‘yourself’ at its centre and you will always be prompted to do better than your last time to satiate your accomplishment motivation. And what is more, true achievement motivation will also have you keep an eye on what others are doing to fix your bar at a challenging level. Very simple logic : if you have already ‘accomplished’ something at a particular point of time, and you are driven by what I call ‘an accomplishment attitude’, then

- you will look forward to accomplishing something still better.

- You will challenge yourself to become a conscientious, hard worker;

- you will raise the bar after each accomplishment to make a still greater achievement ;

- you will become still more alive to grab more opportunities to learn and excel in what you do;

- you will look still deeper inside yourself to recognise your hidden strengths n talents and seek their expression ! In short, you will look more at yourself – how best and how fast you can become better than your earlier selves, while looking at others to have an idea on the benchmarks to be fixed and not necessarily to defeat them, although history shows that such a person, who runs his own race with all his might and sincerity eventually wins against others – not as a conscious effort, but as a natural outcome! And even if, there are a few still ahead of him/her, he is still an achiever as he has achieved his goals! Actually, that would constitute true ‘winning’ spirit, winning against your own limitations, winning against your own former self !!

That will also be true success in life – you get closer and closer to becoming what you can be !

Back to the specific issue of women !

My submission is : each of us must develop clear perspectives as also the sensibilities and sensitivity that it takes to sit on judgement in life. Well, ab initio, no one has a right in the first place to judge others – but in real life, whether we like it or not, we do find ourselves in specific roles wherein we have to take such calls. Hence, the more alive we are to what goes into a particular quality n level of performance, the fairer our judgement would be. At least, that way, a day will come when all the hurts, humiliations and injustice that are being meted out to the women now will see a decline !!

Ladies, do not ever set impossible standards just to compete with the males – set challenging standards, that challenge your own natural endowments, persevere and transcend - fly beyond the visible horizon ! Run your own race ! Challenge yourselves; give your best ! And then let go; listen to the music in your own heart on your accomplishments. Who gives a damn, whether the gallery applauds or not ! There will be applause, though – much deserved - in time, if the onlookers have the ‘eyes’, ‘ears’ and ‘soul’ for it !!

So, Alisha – three cheers to your exceptional talent and remarkable perseverance ! These are THE TWO things that would lead you on the path of true success and accomplishment and ultimately lead you to become who you are capable of : who you are meant to be . Do remember two things in life:

i. "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome." Booker T. Washington,

ii. Success is not winning every battle: it is winning the war ultimately .

So… Buck up my Alishas !!

And before I end, I would share a story of nine extra-ordinary winners, who ‘won’ because they knew that something else was more important than their winning the race !

[ story collected by my friend Veera from Net]

Some time ago, at the Seattle Olympics, nine athletes, all mentally or physically challenged, were standing on the start line for the 100 m race.

The gun fired and the race began. Not everyone was running, but everyone wanted to participate and win.

They ran in threes, a boy tripped and fell, did a few somersaults and started crying.

The other eight heard him crying.

They slowed down and looked behind them.

They stopped and came back… All of them…

A girl with Down’s Syndrome sat down next to him, hugged him and asked, “Feeling better now?”

Then, all nine walked shoulder to shoulder to the finish line.

The whole crowd stood up and applauded. And the applause lasted a very long time…

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How GREEN are you


As I was sitting at home a fews days back and leisurely browsing the internet - deeply soaking in the soft rustles and pampers of the nice, cool breeze blowing through the room even during this hot summer day in mid-May, suddenly I woke up to some serious realisation.

Yes, I had not switched on the fan in the room since morning and it was already about 3 pm in the afternoon. What’s more, I also realised that I have not been using fan or light in this room for the past quite many days, ever since I returned from Patna !! It is so very well ventilated and well-lighted that you simply do not need a fan, AC or lights !! (though, others may feel obsessively compelled to put on the fan or even AC ) Actually, our apartment is south-facing, looking over a large stretch of vacant land; so we are extremely lucky to have been blessed with Nature’s most precious gifts – air and light- in abundance !!

Recently, to harness this blessing all the more, I had re-arranged my furniture in the living room – shifting my dining set to the huge window facing the balcony. During morning hours, I just love sitting there, having my steaming cup of tea, reading the newspapers and working on my lappie, caressed by refreshingly nice n cool breeze and ample light. No need for fan or light again ! During the last three decades, I had almost forgotton this amazing feel of natural breeze, that we used to have in our childhood at our residence at Puri ( located near sea )!!

I really feel very happy that at least mine is a GREEN home and relish giving myself a pat on the back once in a while over the fact that I have got into a habit of making conscious moves to keep it that way ; saving on electricity consumption to the last bit possible. I switch off all lights, fans in rooms other than the one I am in – almost obssessively now. But for this energy-consciousness, I would have liked the entire house to be lighted especially when alone ( and most of these days , I am alone ) !!

So to cut the long story short : I am deliberately trying to reduce energy consumption / wastage – not only it saves my money spent on electricity – it does something much more significant for this planet: it helps in energy conservation- the insignificant quantum of my personal contribution notwithstanding! Every unit of energy saved is equivalent to a unit of energy produced !! Because the stock of natural energy is finite and availability of energy in usable form like electricity is also finite by the extent of production. So if I save a unit by curtailing my wasteful usage, it becomes available elsewhere for a genuine need. Just imagine, what the gross impact could be, if each individual makes a conscious effort to reduce wasteful consumption of energy at one’s own level first !! Add to that the impact of green initiatives that are possible at an organisational level !

Actually, by now most of us know( but the point is how many act as needed ) that the physical survival of our race and our Mother Earth now is severely challenged by three major environmental issues, off-shoots of our high industrialisation and urbanisation :

i. climate change / global warming mainly due to emission of carbon and other hazardous pollutants to air on one hand and rapid erosion of green cover ( forests , trees ) on the other.

ii. rapid depletion of natural sources of energy like coal, oil , gas ….and even water mainly due to excessive usage of the same to maintain our modern lifestyle which would come to a complete halt without these. Can you imagine even a day without electricity ? without fuel for your car ? without energy ? Run a quick glance through your everyday items of use and the lifestyle of even a common man – you will shudder to think of a situation without energy !!! The real challenge is that these natural ‘stores’ of energy sources are finite and are getting exhausted at astronomical rate. So, the challenge before us is to conserve energy to the last bit, have better and better extraction technology with improved ability to tap the available natural deposits of oil, coal etc. and most crucially, to find and harness alternative sources of renewable energy, like solar power, wind power !

iii. Waste management : solid waste, chemical waste, industrial waste etc. ; perhaps now e-waste can also be added as a menace in not-too-distant a future.

As far as our physical environmental hazards are concerned, these ‘trio’ form the crux of the menace – acting and interacting on one another !!

[Of course, when it comes to our survival in its real sense, economic and social ‘pollutants’ affecting the sustain-ability of the human race also need to be addressed on an equal footing. Truly, ‘rising temperatures’ are equally a consequence of unadmissible entrants into air, water and earth as of unadmissible entrants into our value syatem – of ‘falling values’ !!! How ? Worth reflecting by anyone genuinely concerned beyond self –interest.]

Coming back to the environmental hazards, my take is : although these issues to be meaningfully addressed, the corporates and the goverments must play their role at an organised level, we, as individuals, can also play an equally significant role through our conduct in our day-today-life – in fact, I would say, a far bigger role than that meets our eye on first thought.

This reminds me of an interesting concept called “Waste Hierarchy ” that I had read about somewhere, which I think, is a wonderful way to internalise green consciousness in both individuals and organisations.

This is a ranking of possible environmental actions in increasing order of environmental benefit:

  • To burn material for energy is better than sending it to a landfill.
  • To recycle it is better than burning it.
  • To reuse material is better than recycling it.
  • To reduce the amount needed is better than reusing it.
  • To eliminate the need for material is better than reducing it.

The last one is the best option and last but one is the second best and so on. If as an individual, as aslo as a part of an organisation, I imbibe this thinking, then instead of giving lip service to the environment issues, I would act in a conscious manner everyday – at least to reduce consumption, curtail wasteful consumption, reuse to the extent possible and find out other modes of doing things which are not dependent on scarce resources or produce lesser solid waste for disposal, plant trees in office and home/neighbourhood, walk down to the neighbourhood shop instead of using my car etc. etc.

a. At home and office, I can desist from switching on fans, lights and ACs, if not truly needed.

b. I can switch off TVs/computers , when not in use, instead of leaving them in stand-by mode. Contrary to common belief, stand-by mode consumes a significant amount of electricity .

c. I can pause a moment when I see numerous fans and lights on, proclaiming that the office is open even when higher animals called employees to adorn their seats are not in sight; I can simply switch them off - without listening to the clamour of voices inside ringing with cynicism company ka maal, darya mein dal ” !

d. I can be very careful about use of paper !! After all, where from paper comes ? Is it not one of the major reasons for felling trees, erosion of green cover ??

e. I can stop taking those n number of photocopies of official communications to be sent to numerous units of operation, to which I have already sent these communications by e-mail or fax ! I will do well to remind myself that the recipients of these faxes/emails must have already kept hard copies !! ( I mean, if at all, hard copies are to be preserved in each damned case .)

[ And no offense meant to anyone, but what about the common practice in many organisations to keep a copy of every communication received from top and passed down the line, at literally every point it passes through ??? For operating units at the grass root, most of the time, one ends up getting at least 6 to 7 communications with same/similar contents around the same time – by letter, fax, email print-out etc. It used to amuse and amaze, and then hurt, me while in service to think of the colossal wastage of time, paper, fax rolls, fax ink and so many other resources due to this one single reason ! One should imagine, with 10000+ operating units alone and hundreds of controlling /administrative units across the organisation, how much resources must be getting wasted in maintaining this kind of a working culture !! In fact, I used to get wild to get faxes on the same matter from five different places around the same time and all on official letter heads ( you can imagine, how much costly fax ink gets used up just in printing these logos and other detailed stuff that appear in all letterheads !!). I have even called up many of them to say … please, for heavens sake, stop this ! But, unless an organisation-wide awareness and sensitivity develops, this will go on unabated. ]

f. I can use the reverse side of the envelops/letter covers/obsolete stationery for drafting, noting etc. instead of wasting fresh plain paper for these purposes . I have the moral right to say this, because I actually do this.

g. I can ‘sell’ the letter covers etc. along with newspapers, old notebooks, books etc. – instead of dumping them in the dustbin – obviously not for the price ( which is just measly), but because it ensures that it goes to the recycling factories eventually. Dustbin wastes mostly get disposed off by burning. My uncle once mentioned about this practice that he follows and the reason for it and I really appreciated.

h. I can maintain separate dustbins, at home and office, to dump paper-based waste separately, which will facilitate their disposal in a way as to facilitate recycling or reuse.

i. I can plant or maintain green plants / gardens in my neighbourhood and office premises.

j. I can close running water taps , if noticed at public places. I can draw the attention of the concerned authority to broken / leaking pipelines.

k. I can use public transport or pooled car, whenever and wherever feasible, instead of feeling pride in speeding away all alone in a huge car with AC on and blocking half the road all by myself. I can also prefer walking down or cycling, if feasible, of course.

l. I can at least enquire about the emission levels or compliance certifications and fuel efficiency while purchasing new motor vehicles – consciously, out of concern for global warming. Similar display of concern by large number of prospective customers would ultimately push the manufacturers to improve green-compliance of their products. ( Obviously, govts and policy makers have a big role in setting regulatory framework in this regard, but I am talking about my role as an individual only – so not discussing that aspect).

m. I can sacrifice my lust for ‘earth’ and decide in favour of an apartment in a multi-storeyed building for my residence over a stand-alone house.

n. I can resist the temptation of going to that bigger shopping mall at a distance, by car, to window-shop and get my branded stuff; instead I can walk down to the neighbourhood mall where all these same things are available.

o. I can plan my visit to multiple shops / visit points ( say, the tailor, the dry-cleaner, the grocer etc. ) on the same day, instead of dashing off in my car to these places on different dates, just because I have time to spare.

Well, so on and so forth …. But am I really trying to do similar things?

If green consciousness sounds not-something-to be so finicky- about, then please think twice .

A few days back, there was a news item in a Daily ( TOI issue dt 06th May, 09 , reported by : Nitin Sethi) – captioned :

“ Disaster date may move up 21 years to 2029”

It said, the world must restrict its carbon emissions to 190 giga tonnes by 2050, if it is to have a chance of escaping the consequences of global warming. These are as per the latest findings published in “ Nature” magazine, which puts aside all earlier calculations and warned that our planet could take even less of the greenhouse gases than imagined before. There is 75% chance the world can hope to escape the danger of global average temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era only if it can keep its carbon emissions below 190 giga tonnes over the next 41 years. Although this inspires some hope, there is much to be worried over, as last year alone, the world emitted 9 giga tonnes of carbon by burning fossil fuels. And the rate at which we emit carbon is rising 3% every year. If we continue to burn fossil fuels and gases at this rate, the safety mark of 190 giga tonnes will be crossed by 2029 !! Every single tonne of carbon thrown into the air thereafter will reduce progressively our chances to survive the havoc of catastrophic climate change .

Some wake up call, I swear ; but seriously, are we listening ??

Well, that is only about the issue of global warming and climate change due to carbon emissions. But it is not this single issue alone, that needs to seize the attention of anyone walking on this planet. It is the entire spectrum of issues concerning our SUSTAINABILITY - from emission of carbon and other toxics/pollutants into the air, rapid erosion of forest cover / water mass, rapid depletion of energy sources like coal, oil, gas and water levels to …… well, a host of other things that affect the sustain-ability of this planet, that may well include how we conduct ourselves as individuals as much as how the corporates run their businesses from a perspective of corporate social responsibility( CSR) - everything to do with rising temperatures and falling values that may affect the sustain-ability of our current generation as well as the coming generations !! I reiterate this at the cost of repetition .

In short, “Sustainability” is the ability to meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs.

And “Go Green” is coming up as a metaphor to represent the entire spectrum of sustainability issues and not just planting trees or addressing global warming. When I say how green are you or your organisation, I am simply keen to make you introspect on all these issues from a long term perspective and do whatever you can to address this at your level – as an individual, as part of a corporate, as part of policy makers n government, as part of the global community.

The volume of carbon emissions and rate at which it is increasing - should there be a prize to guess whether the ability of our future generation to sustain themselves is compromised or not ? Are you, as a person, not a party to this if you are unnecessarily using a motor vehicle when you could have avoided using it ? Are you not a party to this if while buying or marketing cars, you have not given even a thought to know how much carbon it is going to throw up into the air/its compliance with emission standards? Are you not a party to it if you are not trying to have enough green trees around to help nature convert the carbon emissions to life-saving oxygen and lessen impact on environmental temperature ? Think about it and you will be amazed to discover in how many small ways you can make a positive contribution to make this problem a little less. I have already mentioned a few earlier in this post.

Yes… I catch what you are thinking right now. The corporate world, the manufacturers, the financiers, government etc. have a big, big role to play, so far as this particular issue is concerned. In fact, I was a little sad when “Nano” came to market and the bankers started falling head over heel to finance the cars – with slogans like “ Nano for each Indian” - that too, without anywhere coming out with any public announcements on the emission-performance of this little common man’s car. Obviously, the target is the two-wheeler owners who would be tempted to upgrade. Would it lure the big-car owners to give away their swanky status symbols for a Nano for the similar services it offers as a city-ride at a ridiculously low cost ?

AND, LORD SAVE US – how would the traffic scenario be, if actually each Indian possesses a small car, with nothing improving as far as the roads are concerned ??? Honestly, personally, I feel, it is time for huge public transports and not small cars for a multitude. It is high time for a twin action - a robust and efficiently managed public transport system that can inspire confidence in everyone that it is better than driving own vehicles AND disincentives for buying vehicles for personal use (say, by way of high taxes, stricter permissions like in Singapore ) as also disincentives for using motor vehicles during certain distances/ time periods. Such govt. imposed disincentives can work a miracle in taking the status-symbol out of personal possession of four-wheelers. What no amount of social awareness campaigns can do in this regard can be achieved overnight and the message will spread that it is no longer the happening thing to show–off a car ! A word of caution ! The disincentives, without developing an efficient public transport system first, will not achieve the objective at all.

In Office premises, go for centralised air-conditioning as much as possible, instead of numerous window ACs or split ACs, design your interior aligned to natural light and see the savings on energy consumption !

Bankers and financing companies can contribute a lot just by containing their opportunism in coverting everything into a business opportunity and financing everything that comes to the market, without making a reasonable study of its long term impact on the environment/society/economy from a sustainability perspective. On the side of affirmative action, bankers and financiers can also contribute positively by giving incentives by way of reduced interest rates/service charges to manufacturing units or other industrial/service units, who invest in and implement green initiatives.

I feel a fresh gush of breeze when I hear about new concepts like ‘Carbon Credit’, ‘Green Home Loans’shifting to green suppliers’, ‘cut carbon out of the supply chain’ ‘stop transporting air’, ‘go local’etc.

As per some studies, industrial and transportation sectors—those that coincide with supply chain activities—account for 61 percent of carbon emissions in USA ! So, if only transportation aspect in the supply chain can be taken care of, say by rationalizing sourcing, assembly and distribution in relation to markets, travel distances, corresponding fuel use can be reduced. At times, even simple changes to a product design – from reducing weight to making it easier to disassemble or assemble — can reduce energy consumption and waste throughout the product life cycle. Someone made a brilliant point: a delivery truck filled with flat-packed chairs can carry the equivalent of six trucks of fully assembled chairs; so why transport air ?? The same principle can apply to all types of surface transport for goods and merchandise - enhance carriage space upward, you save dramatically on energy cost on transportation. { Indian Railways did something similar a few years back – kudos !}

Point is: the industrial world, even the service organisations – in fact the entire corporate world needs to gear up now to go green – invest in R&D for cleaner and greener technology, adapt green practices, orient their staffer towards appreciation of and compliance with green initiatives. Governments and Policy makers, as also NGOs and awakened citizens/citizen groups must do their bit in driving something like a Green Revolution through awareness projects and regulatory/punitive frameworks.

Ekks… suddenly I realise that I am going on and on. Well, my objective was to stir your conscience and consciousness about sustain-ability of our Mother Earth – obviously our race and our future generations included. I would like to believe, I have hit it ! And you are thinking for yourself: “how green am I ?”

Please think and act.

Sunday, May 10, 2009



Everytime I travel by road via Bandra in Mumbai, a beautiful statue of a mother figure rocking her child on folded legs never ceases to make me thoughtful for a moment as I read the message that it carries :

A mother is born the moment her child is born.

Mother’s Day falls today - on 10th May, 2009.

I am usually against “Day”s being allocated once a year to remember someone or something special, as it lends a measure of formality to something, which otherwise should be spontaneous, boundless and straight from the heart. In some way, it also sanctions tokenism for things profound. Nevertheless, over the years, I have started seeing the plus points of such celebrations also – especially days like Mother’s Day, Friendship Day etc.. ( hey, when is Father’s Day celebrated ?? ). At least, it encourages one to express the unspoken words for the dear ones on that particular day. Otherwise, with increasingly fast pace of life these days, many well meaning emotions never get expressed. Let us remember : even the best of bonds grow stronger with occasional explicit re-affirmation !!

I am particularly fond of Mother’s Day. Gives me an occasion to re-connect with my mother and my children, who made me a mother.

[ NOTE BEFORE I PROCEED : She invariably includes he ; so I take the liberty of referring an entity who possibly can be of any gender as a “she” - like a child and God, the almighty !! And of course, I take ‘mother’ as representing both mother and father, none less than the other !!! ]

Now, let me first share my treasure !

Well, so..o. sweet, nah ?? That’s a magnet couriered by my daughter recently – thanks, baby !!

This one was hand-drawn by my daughter when she was a little kid and presented to me on that year’s Mother’s Day. So, cute !! In the middle portion of the card, she draws a cat and writes, “ I L U”, this is a sweet cat card for you from your kitten ” . If, by chance she visits my blog and sees this, she would be so surprised …(and scandalised, ha, ha, sorry kiddo !) Yes, darlings, I have preserved many more of your presents…. they are so precious to me !!

Again hand-drawn and self-composed verse by my sweetie pie, when she was a kiddo. Every time I used to go outstation on unavoidable official tours, coming back home used to be a lovely and hugely cherishable experience.

And this one !! The locket – a monkey-god(who I worship) – was gifted by my daughters on one Mother’s Day . So..o thoughtful of them ! They knew, I am an ardent fan of Lord Hanumanji and was always wearing a silver locket on a gold chain, although it was not going with that at all. So , they gifted this gold locket – which I have been wearing EVER SINCE, and wish to wear it for ever ! I love you, buddies! God bless you !

Well, those are some of the tangible ones. There can be no count or display of the intangibles that I have got as a mother – I have grown fuller as a person after becoming a mother and growing simultaneously with my children.

I do not know, whether I have been able to give as much to my mother or not. I definitely owe her everything – all that I am today. I always know … she is there for me, whenever I need her – no strings attached. She is the most wonderful woman in my life . I love you, Mom.

The best conversations with mothers always take place in silence, when only the heart speaks.

Carrie Latet

Mother, oh.. Mother …. !!!!!!!!

M for Magnanimity

O for Omni-presence

T for Teacher

H for Holiness

E for Eternity

R for Re-Creation

Mother is Magnanimity personified.

Full of unconditional love, blessings and best wishes for her child, irrespective of whether they deserve it, whether they reciprocate it or not.

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.

Tenneva Jordan

That is example of only a trivial sacrifice. She is ever ready to become a martyr on the altar of her child – ever ready to pardon even the bitterest act or gravest mistake by her child – even behind a façade of a ruthless mother who lets her child fall only to learn how to walk, there is a mother’s heart which would do any sacrifice needed to protect her child and see her child stand on her feet and take the bully, that is this world, by its horns. Mother’s love is unconditional ultimately. Blessed are the children who develop the wisdom and sensitivity to understand it .

“ The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ”

Honoré de Balzac

Mother is Omni-present for her child.

Call out for your mother with your heart and soul and there she will be – in life, in death, whether you see her or not. She is always available to you – no conditions attached !

Washington Irving once said,

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”

How true !!

Mother is child’s first and the best Teacher.

“That best academy, a mother's knee.” - so told James Russell Lowell

I still remember the kitchen of our old house at my home town, where, as a child, I used to sit on a “pidha” ( a slightly raised wooden platform on which one sits on the floor without touching the ground) and used to do my lessons taking help from my mother as she would cook the dinner and at other times, I would just sit there and sing to my mother. Heaven on earth, I tell you.

It is a truism that a mother is the first and the best teacher of a person and needs no elaboration.

Mother is Holiness.

God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers.

A Jewish Proverb

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. Appreciation of this simple truth is equivalent to praying the Almighty. After all, she is our Creator in this physical world that we see, feel and perceive. She is the God for her child in that sense.

Is there any difference between the trust we feel towards God and the trust that a child displays in completely surrendering itself to her mother during infancy when it is absolutely helpless and dependent on others for every single thing ? Growing up, as you serve your mother with true understanding and love, God shall not ask any further.

Mother is Eternity for her child.

So long as you exist, your mother exists, too, through you, in you, irrespective of the fact whether or not she is alive physically. Can any child ever obliterate this existential presence of her mother ?

Perhaps, that’s why it is said that one of the greatest legacies that a human being can leave behind is a child and one of the greatest service to mankind lies in raising a child in a worthy manner .

“My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.” Graycie Harmon

Mother is Re-Creation.

Mother re-creates and perpetuates life . Kahlil Gibran once said, “Your children are not your sons and daughters: they are life’s longing for itself.” True. But life chooses a mother’s womb to re-create itself !!

[That was my Ode to Mother. Actually, I wanted to write a poem, but alas- that is not to be -so prosaic I am !! Friends, if you have composed some, please share.]

My dear friend Veera had once shared with me a touching story on Mother, which I feel like sharing with all on the occasion of Mother’s Day – in honour of all mothers on this planet.

The story goes like this …. The narrator uses the first person to narrate the story.

My mom only had one eye. I hated her... she was such an embarrassment. She cooked for students & teachers to support the family.

There was this one day during elementary school where my mom came to say hello to me. I was so embarrassed. How could she do this to me !!!

I ignored her, threw her a hateful look and ran out.

The next day at school, one of my classmates said, “ EEEE, your mom only has one eye ! ”

I wanted to bury myself.

I also wanted my mom to just disappear.

So I confronted her that day and said, " If you're only gonna make me a laughing stock, why don't you just die?!!!"

My mom did not respond...

I didnt even stop to think for a second about what I had said, because I was full of anger.

I was oblivious to her feelings.

I wanted her out of that house, and have nothing to do with her.

So I studied real hard, got a chance to go to the city to study.

Then, I got married. I bought a house of my own.
I had kids of my own.

I was happy with my life, my kids and the comforts .

Then one day, my mother came to visit me.

She hadn't seen me in years and she didn't even meet her grandchildren.

When she stood by the door, my children laughed at her, and I yelled at her for coming over uninvited.

I screamed at her, "How dare you come to my house and scare my children!"

And to this, my mother quietly answered, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I may have gotten the wrong address," and she disappeared out of sight.

One day, a letter regarding a school reunion came to my house in the city.

So I lied to my wife that I was going on a business trip.

After the reunion in my village school, I went to the old shack just out of curiosity.

My neighbours said that she died.

I did not shed a single tear.

They handed me a letter that she had wanted me to have. It said…

“ I think of you all the time. I'm sorry that I came to your house in the city and scared your children. I was so glad when I heard you were coming for the reunion. But I may not be able to even get out of bed to see you.

I'm sorry that I was a constant embarrassment to you when you were growing up.

You see........when you were very little, you got into an accident, and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn't stand watching you having to grow up with one eye.

So I gave you mine.

I was so proud of my son who was seeing a whole new world for me, in my place, with that eye.

With my love to you,

Your Mother

The story ends there and it is left to the imagination of the readers as to whether after knowing the facts, at least a drop of tear came to the eyes of the wretched son or not !!

No painter's brush, nor poet's pen
In justice to her fame
Has ever reached half high enough
To write a mother's name.
~Author Unknown

MOTHER is the most splendid experience in life ! Thank you, Bou, for always being there for me – for making me all that I am today.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Pause And Ponder sl 5 : Why bad things happen to good people at all ??

Quite a number of times in my life, I have run into this question… why at all bad things happen to good people ? When something unexpectedly adverse happens to me at a personal level also, I look up in total bewilderment and ask “ God, Why me ??”

But the anguish was perhaps at its peak, when my brother passed away a few months back at an age of just 55 and thinking of what has happened to my sister-in-law ( an adorable sister, not just in law !), and my niece ( can not be a better ‘daughter’ than her for any parents in the whole world !), I agitatedly asked God 'why' ????

To my question, I got an insight like never before .... 1stly, the question " Why bad things happen to good people?" is a wrong question ab initio. Nowhere it is said/written/suggested that bad things will never happen to u if u r good - EACH human has to have a piece of both, good as well as bad, to grow and experience life as a complete whole. There is not a single adult on this planet who has not fallen at least once before learning how to stand and walk erect. It is all in the process of natural growth and so are the ‘bad’ things; only difference being– if you are ‘good’, God invariably blesses you with everything needed to come out of it better and not get battered. So, the real test of if you are truly good or not is testified by the fact asto whether a bad experience leaves you better or bitter & battered.

So, the correct question is : What do good people do when bad things happen to them ? And the answer to this, as I pose this question in relation to my sis-in-law and a whole lot of other good people, who have apparently been meted out injustice or unfair treatment in life, that I know about, is very very convincing : They do everything to emerge out of this as a stronger and still better ( not bitter) person, develop still greater sensitivity to others' hurt n suffering, show still greater willingness n ability to help others ! They seem to tread their path with unwavering trust in the divine dispensation, taking each adversity as an opportunity to grow further; eventually, they do not allow themselves to be crushed – they bounce back with greater courage, love and agility.

And on the day of their reckoning, the good people walk away from this stage full of honour, legitimate pride and fulfilment !!!

I was so touched! My sis-in-law was amongst the first ones to wish me on my wedding anniversary and sent us a wonderful e-card to share our happiness, notwithstanding the fact that, she herself was in an emotional turmoil - by then, not much time had elapsed after Bro left us ! Needless to mention, this is not just one instance of what she did that led me to include her in the category of ‘good’ people. I know her for about three decades and by any standard, she is a wonderful and gold-hearted person. Hence, I took her as example. She is now settling down with engaging assignments, her daughter is already in a pretty good job – and she has all of the extended family by her side - basically, she might not have got all that she wanted, but God has blessed her with everything that she needs and I am sure, in time, she will look back to see the divine design in everything along the way.

There are many such examples in history, in and around us. Just look around and you will never ever let any inappropriate questions like the first one above bother you or affect you any longer.

And I highly recommend reading of works by Robert H. Schuller, the celebrated author of “ Tough Times Never Last; but Tough People Do”. I find his elucidations very lucid and candid when it comes to building perspectives on life issues, which any one can identify with. It helps re-assure you if you already believe in the power of positive thinking; it clarifies and brings back the perspectives, if you are a bit confused, as of now.

Here, I am reminded of an insightful story regarding how we may not always have a clear and correct view of all the things happening. Let me share.


When I was small, my mother used to sew a great deal . I would sit at her knee and look up from the floor and ask what she was doing. She told me that she was embroidering .

As from the underside I watched her work within the boundaries of the little hoop that she held in her hand, I complained to her that it sure looked messy from where I sat. She’d smile at me, look down and gently say, “ Son, you go about your playing and when I am finished with my embroidering, I will put you on my knee and let you see it from my side .”

I would wonder why she was using some dark threads along with the bright ones and why they seemed so jumbled from my view.

After sometime I would hear my mother’s voice say,” Son, come sit on my knee.” This I did only to be surprised and thrilled to see a beautiful flower or sunset. I could not believe it , because from underneath it looked so messy.

Then mother would say, “ my son , from underneath it did look messy and jumbled, but you did not realize that there was a plan on the top. It was a design. I was only following it .. Now look at it from my side and you will see what I was doing . “

Many times through the years, I have looked upto heaven and said, “ father, what are you doing ? “. He has answered, “ I am embroidering your life . “ I say, “ But it looks like such a mess to me. It seems so jumbled. The threads seem so dark. Why can’t they all be bright ?” The Father seems to tell me, “ My child, you go about doing your business of doing my business, and one day I will bring you to Heaven and put you on my knee and you will see the plan from my side . “

- Author Unknown

Worth reflecting, do n’t you think so ?????

Friday, April 24, 2009

Award , Reward and Complete Disaster



Very plainly put, awards are recognition under reward schemes.

It is commonly believed in the corporate world that whatever you reward, you get more of that and so, usually corporates implement various reward and recognition schemes, to encourage high performance in desired business parameters and award a selected few to send out a positive message.

My intention here is not at all to argue out a case in favour of or against this idea ; nor to judge the merits of the modalities/tools commonly used under these reward schemes to select the “ Best of the Pack ” / Best Performers as against the others who do not get selected despite playing as well or even much better.

[Honestly, if I am asked to take a view, I would rather be in favour of the idea of at least having some reward schemes and giving public recognition to some, and keep on streamlining the schemes based on actual experience, rather than not recognising anyone out of the fear that the scheme is not full-proof to pick up the real best. Actually what matters and can serve the real purpose behind these awards is that everyone should appreciate that these awards are more symbolic in nature and meant to send out a positive message that your organisation is committed to high performance and your contribution is getting noticed at the higher levels.

So, rock on … !

It boomerangs the moment it is claimed that the award winners are the best ones and all others are non- or lesser performers. By its very nature, the playing field in a widely spread-out service organisation, strictly speaking, can never be truly equal and there are not yet tangible measures to evaluate the pure individual contributions of a single person to the results emanating necessarily from team play. But yet, there is no denying the fact that the award winners are definitely high performers and there is no denying the fact that leadership does make a difference to the quality of teamplay: an average team can do wonders under effective leadership; while an excellent team may turn mediocre under poor leadership. Hence, the awards are necessary to spread the right message !!]

Apart from the corporate message regarding visibility of the high performers, there is another important dimension to an ‘award’ and that is : award is basically a public recognition of your merit and hence, it sort of demands greater work with higher commitment and greater excellence ! Ordinarily, awards are expected to enthuse the winners to move to a higher orbit of performance. Check out if that is happening or not; if yes, your reward schemes are a huge success. After all, the best index of success is its longevity.


Perhaps the most crucial dimension that distinguishes reward from award is that while award is a public recognition that you get for doing something well, reward is an inner feeling of becoming by doing something well.

While awards expect or demand that the winner should move on to a higher plane, reward drives from within and automatically propels the person to a higher orbit of performance.

Nothing more apt could have been said than what Emerson observes about reward :

“The reward for a good job done is having done it well”.

Because, having done a good job, you feel a unique uplifting sense of satisfaction and inner drive for doing still better, irrespective of whether others in the gallery are watching you or not.

To some extent, awards also propel and generate inner drive for higher performance; but there is a great risk of its turning out to be transient, as it draws its sustenance from recognition from others : next time, if despite giving a dazzling performance, you do not get the award, there is a big possibility that it demotivates you more than the award motivated you the first time.

A Complete Disaster

My hubby got the most coveted Award of his Bank ( Best Regional Manager) for two years consecutively ( although it is called Best RM award, about 30 odd Regional Managers were winners of this award and for 2007-08, my hubby was positioned at number one). It is customary in our Bank to felicitate the awardees, along with their spouses to publicly acknowledge the significance of family support behind the high achievers ( that’s really sweet ! ).

On 18th of this month, I accompanied my hubby to Mumbai for a felicitation of all the Best Regional Managers and Best Branch Managers – all with their spouses – felicitation at the hands of none other than the Chairman. It was a scintillating function organised in the garden of Chairman’s residence ( which has been awarded the Best Residential Garden of Mumbai by BMC this year).

Chairman’s speech was crisp n enlightening – which was followed by giving away of awards, photo sessions, experience sharing by some awardees. Names were called out randomly for experience sharing and our turn did not come ! To be honest, I thought my hubby would definitely get a chance to speak – I was also sort of prepared to speak a few words as a spouse – I had my thoughts gathered, for a change!

I had thought, on behalf of the spouses of the award winners, I would thank the Bank, the Chairman and the top brass for this wonderful way of honouring the top performers and making them share this credit with their other halves. I sincerely wanted to thank the Chairman for having revised the reward money substantially upward which could enable our family to go on a fabulous Europe tour last October on special LFC granted under this reward scheme.

I had thought, I would share this honour with the countless others back home in the Region and Circle, and their family members, who teamed up with my husband to deliver this splendid performance, but for which we would not have been here taking the award !

I had thought, I would compliment the award-winners and at the same time, urge them to always remember two things: firstly, that award propels and demands higher performance with greater excellence and total commitment. The onus now falls on them to prove to themselves at each step ahead that they deserved every bit of it , by doing better than their past best. Secondly, they have to remember that at the end, the reward for your perseverence is not what you get for it , but what you become by it. So award or no award, you must keep on giving your best shot, doing better than your best.

Alas… there were only thoughts ; but no action taken by me to create an opportunity for sharing my mind. I could have simply asked the organiser ( a close friend of mine) to announce my name for speaking on behalf of the spouses. I did not do that. Soon, there came the vote of thanks and then group photo session was announced. So our chances to speak on this golden occasion gone – or so I thought !!

But see the irony ! As it needed some re-arrangement to be done for the group photos, there was a sudden announcement for volunteers from the audience to sing on stage. Daughter of one of the awardees volunteered and gave a beautiful rendering. Meanwhile, the compere, who happens to be the organiser of this event and a very close friend of mine, came over and whispered to me that I was going to sing next ! I was really caught off-guard and started waving her saying “ No, No” – but she went up the dias and announced my name saying that since I am her batch-mate, she knows I sing very well and that she can take this liberty with me !!

Oh, God ! how I was feeling … too shy, gigly and wanting to strangle my friend’s neck right there !! But to keep her honour, I went up the stage, took the mike ( at the heart of my heart, I always knew till then that once I hold a mike, I can never fail in singing !) and started singing my most favourite prayer.

But I was in for the greatest shock of my life ! As I started singing, I thought my voice is trembling unduly and just after three lines, suddenly I stopped singing, giggled and said, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ and sort of, ran away from the stage. Of course, whatever little I sang, drew a good applause and later on, lot of nice comments – likes of ‘singing so beautifully, why did not you sing fully’, ‘ have a beautiful voice – must work on it’ etc.

BUT, BUT, BUT …. The fact remains that .. ( so painful to admit ! ) I walked off the stage mid-way ; I failed to sing though I claim to be a talented singer and I failed before whom … the Chairman, the top brass, a wide cross-section of our own people – an audience before which anyone in this bank would die to showcase one’s talent !!

I failed to take a rare and golden opportunity that was given to me by my dear friend, which could have been used by me both for speaking a few words and singing : First, with the mike in my hand, I could have said what I had thought of saying, as there was no thanks-giving done by any one from the ‘spouses’ group. I could have made my short speech still peppier by adding that though it is not the rule to speak after the vote of thanks, I am taking the liberty to break the rule and thank the bank for …. blah… blah .. .

Then I could have started singing, and I am sure, after speaking for sometime, that grip on voice automatically comes and I could have really rendered the way I usually sing. [By the way, later when I heard my hubby’s mobile recording, I suddenly realised that my voice was not sounding as shaky as I thought on stage !! So, another act of foolishness out of stage fright. Actually, suddenly, I went blank and forgot the next line.)

So.. it was a complete disaster; complete in every sense because what I did amounts to snatching a defeat out of the jaws of victory and none other than me was responsible for this failure to seize a golden opportunity !! It is awful to admit this in this public medium; but perhaps that is the first thing that I need to do as penance. What went wrong with me … despite having my thoughts gathered for the short speech, despite getting a request to sing ( I did not have to volunteer or beg for a chance ), despite getting a platform with a high profile audience that included Chairman , MDs, DMDs etc. and their spouses ???

No, it was not stage fright. It was not lack of practice either, although I did not have scope to practice for about a week before that. It was not even because I was not expecting a request for singing.

When I analyse now, post-facto, in a detached and honest manner, I see the reason in my habit of saying “ No, No” to singing whenever I am asked to !! This has become a strange second nature to me, when it comes to singing before anyone on request. The same kind of absurd shyness grips me even at this age, as it used to, when I was a child !! There is no rationale for it, no justification for it !! It is only when I decide to sing in advance that I find myself able to sing comfortably. I realise, this is becoming a self-limiting, almost reflexive behaviour on my part and it is high time, I get out of this ….making very conscious effort. Otherwise, how do I go about my already proclaimed goal of pursuing singing after I left my job???


“The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live.”

- Norman Cousins

And I sincerely do not want this tragedy to happen to me . So, I promise myself that as a penance, now I will take or create opportunity to sing the same prayer in full before at least 10 audiences in coming one year !!

So, that’s it !! I just felt like sharing this story of my complete failure. I think, it may resonate with you if you are also finding opportunities passing by without you being consciously aware that it is of your own making. Do some soul-searching and change what is needed to be changed within. Are you wondering what is the relationship between award/reward and disaster ?

Well, award and reward come after success; failure or disaster comes before success . Then there goes the saying : failure is the pillar of success . Take both the hypotheses together and you get some sequence like : failure, success, reward, award …..

So let me start now … afresh, my recent complete disaster notwithstanding !!!!

[ And friends, be ready to play me the audience and help me fulfill my self-target, which was carrying another zero originally, but got struck off while typing and I knew, that was the right thing to have happened. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha ! )