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Friday, 1 December 2017

The End...For Now....

Have you seen an envelope like this, very popular nowadays? Oh yes, most of us have grown so affluent that we may no longer possess the humble one rupee coin and have to hunt for it..…so, to save your precious time, some astute envelope manufacturer came up with this brainwave….

I’ve heard people say that when you gift someone cash at an auspicious function, you must add 1 rupee to the otherwise round figure ending with zero, because the number 1 indicates the beginning of something more….

No, this isn’t a post on the Indian concept of numericals….I’m just trying to put a positive (auspicious?) spin to the fact that my blogathon that was supposed to be for 30 days, has spilled over to the 31st day...

Many of you may not be aware, but I had done a similar blogathon last year – November 2016. A group of us bloggers got together, each one put up a blog each day, and we read and commented on each other’s blogs. It was fun and a huge learning experience.

This year, the lady who organized that group was too busy to do it….so I decided to go it alone, knowing it would be a huge stretch, but still, that I was capable of doing this because I have actually been writing on my Facebook page everyday since August 23rd…

There were two things I did differently for NaBloPoMo 2017. One, I decided to forward the link everyday to my readers through Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter. Two, I enlisted my readers’ help to give me stuff to write about. This latter step proved so magical that on some days, I had to write nothing more than giving an introduction and a conclusion….the rest was what people wrote themselves.

And you, dear readers, have been amazing….right from sending in your replies to my query to opening your hearts and sharing your thoughts on each of the posts you read, to sending in your final feedback about the experience….I’m overwhelmed and humbled by all the respect, positive sentiments, love and affection that has moved you to be such enthusiastic participants…..

Here are snippets from what some of my readers had to say….


There were some valuable suggestions too….hopefully, I will be able to act on these from next time onwards….

I've put up all this feedback not to show off....but because I treasure it all...and want it to stay for posterity....someday, if ever I forget the power of what one small positive step can do, I will look at this post again, and feel reassured to go on doing whatever little I can.....

These 30 days were hectic, no doubt.

Putting “writing and posting blog” under Important and Urgent category on my to-do list for the day….

Rushing between my laptop and the kitchen and the washing machine and cleaning utensils….

Forgetting if I’d added salt while making the rasam because the mind was occupied with some particular train of thought on what the blog post would be…..

Being asked on the phone if I had time to talk or was busy writing for the blog ….

Saying “No, it’s ok,” and talking (mildly distractedly) because I was worried I’d lose the mental environment I had created for the day’s writing if I got caught up in what the person at the other end was saying…

Overall, Cinderella syndrome….rushing through things with an eye always on the clock because the post had to be up before the midnight hour struck. Not very pleasant for King and Prince Charming at home….but I’m grateful to them too for letting me and my writing be and putting up with this temporary 1-month syndrome….

At the end of the month, all I can say is that making each one of the 30 days count was an uplifting experience. For me, and from the feedback, for you readers too….

In fact, I still have quite a few stories unpublished. Which is why I have decided……no, don’t panic…not another blogathon…but I will be writing one post every week to continue to spread the positive messages people send my way…If you had wanted to tell your story but couldn’t do it in this one month, do write in whenever you can and I will put it up in the months to come…

Thanking each one of you dear readers for making this a wonderful experience....looking forward to many more stories that will help all of us, together, to make our world a better place…..

Thursday, 30 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 30: Keep the hope going....

I had planned to end this NaBloPoMo 2017 blogathon by thanking everyone and sharing the feedback I got from many of you. But at the penultimate moment, I received a story from a young engineer who happens to be my husband’s cousin’s son. Part of the same extended family from where Dheepak and Nappinnai come… But Vijay A. Ramani being my relative isn’t the reason why I’m putting his story here. It’s because of the message in this story that holds value for each one of us because it says so eloquently that one must never give up hope…….

Being patient is a good quality for an individual person. Everything comes to you at the right moment. Be patient. Even if a situation doesn’t appear to be good for you at that moment, just wait for the right key to open your door. 

Here I am going to share my personal experience which made me realise why it’s important to not lose hope.

In 2010, I started my B. Tech IT graduation as a lateral entry student and time ticked by quickly. When I entered the final year, placements started.

Initially it was product based companies who visited our campus. Here’s how I fared:

1st company – couldn’t qualify the 2nd round (GD)

Next few companies – didn’t qualify either 1st or 2nd round

Day by day, each of my friends got placed and I was trying to get through each company but failed somewhere.

Then, top MNC companies came to recruit us

With Mindtree, I went up to technical round, then got rejected

Accenture, Wipro, Bosch – I wasn’t able to get through 1st round

CTS – got rejected in final round; same happened for iNautix.

By now, my 7th semester was over only few companies were left to come for placements during the 8th semester. I wrote TANCET exam to be on the safer side (to help for govt jobs or further PG studies within TN) and was able to get 9782 rank out of 3,00,000 people.

In the 8th semester, I got selected by a company but I rejected the offer since they wanted me to sign a bond for 4 years.

College life was over with good memories, but now, fear started building up as I found myself competing with lot of VIPs (Velaiilla Pattadharis – Tamil for 'unemployed graduates').

And yet, I simply held on to the thought inside me that someday or the other the sun will shine on me, too…..

I started applying to all companies through job portals, referrals and walk-in interviews.

I was referred to Caterpillar by Sampath Periappa’s relative for a software engineer position and couldn’t qualify the 2nd round at Bangalore.

My job search continued….I interviewed with nearly 20 companies and still couldn’t get through! And yet, I waited patiently, hopefully, for the key that would open my door. This finally materialized in November, 2013 when I got placed in a small concern of 10 to 15 employees referred by my maternal uncle Srinivasan (Cheenu Mama).

After consulting my mom and dad, I decided to join work. Thus started my IT career at Bangalore with less stipend which latter turned to be a good one. Simultaneously, I was applying to other jobs. I stayed with my maternal aunt’s (Geetha chitti) family for a few months.

Being in Bangalore, I got a good exposure and finally, my friend referred me for HR backend support position. Hurray!! I was offered employment at Caterpillar Bangalore in September 2014, where I’m working till date.

I am happy now for what I am currently.

What I’ve learned through these experiences is that all situations may not turn out good for everyone nor may results be positive every single time. But it is important to be patient and keep trying to find the right key that unlocks your door..

Here, I’d like to thank my dad and mom who always keep encouraging me during my learning days. I’m grateful to all my relatives, friends, cousins and neighbours who helped me by referring me to their known contacts in the IT industry, which helped me to learn and improve myself at each stage.

Patience is not about doing nothing. Patience is about constantly doing everything you can. But being patient about the results.

Now you understand why I couldn’t put this off for the future, don’t you? And I’m sure you’ll give me just one more day – tomorrow – to wrap things up with your and my own views of what the blogathon has done for all of us…………

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 29: Trivial things together make perfection....

After reading many of the posts, it is quite natural to feel in awe of people who’ve battled difficult circumstances to come out winners. Sometimes, along with the sense of being inspired, there’s a corner of the mind which wonders if your journey is somehow lesser than theirs because you’ve not had such hardship. Let me set your mind at rest. Just as it’s more difficult to be a gruhastha (householder) than a sanyaasi (renunciant), it’s more difficult, in some ways, to go through an ordinary life than a troubled one.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not belittling the struggles of those who have challenges in their life, What I’m trying to say is that when you have huge troubles, your motivation to overcome them is equally strong. That drives you ahead. For minor troubles that are not actually troubles, it isn’t so easy to stay motivated. Like for example, if your husband is facing losses in business, you will struggle to find alternate sources of income. But if your major trouble is getting irritated with your husband throwing the proverbial wet towel on the bed……you get my point, right?

Which is why it is important to pay attention to the small things we do. Make tiny changes in your life. By itself, each of these things may not be anything great. But put together, they can be a standard operating procedure to reboot the way you live.

So, here are the small little things that readers sent me as replies to my initial question on the 1st of November, 2017.

Shri. Srivatsa and Smt. Shilpa (husband’s cousin and his wife)
To ignore and let go has helped us rather than being caught in the trivial things, sulking and eventually blocking our vision of growth. This has definitely put us on the path of growth curve. This does not mean that we are shying away from responsibilities. We are there wherever required. We have been doing things by reasoning and questioning the need even more. This has helped us personally and also professionally to gain momentum in our business.

Smt. Vijayita (a friend and reader whom I’ve never met in person)
I finish my dinner latest by 7:30. Just one small change has improved our lifestyle and health a lot.

Smt. Preetha (a friend from my counseling course)
It is smile that has made a world of difference to me. I have practised it over years, positivity follows..

Smt. Ranjani ( a nutritionist I met through Shilpa, on the phone, but not yet in person) Meditation

Smt. Aparna Parinam (a good friend, college senior)
I believe in treating and respecting people as I would be treated and respected. And this has helped me.

Ms. Susan (old school friend)
Let go of anything that hurts you and move on. This is my belief and I live that way.

Smt. Mamatha (old student, now teacher)
I start my day with positive affirmations . That changed everything in me. I started to listen to Ramayana and Bhaagavatham also. These things brought changes my life.

Lakshmi Maami (mother-in-law’s sister’s sister-in-law…there’s another relation too I think but not sure) I don't have any special habit that has changed my life. But one thing that has uplifted me is the Sreevaishnavam practice and knowledge gained through attending the kalakshepams (spiritual discourses) and learning about our Granthams deeply. Definitely it has brought me to what I am today…a drastic change.

Smt. Reshma Nayak (VP of Wellthy Therapeutics for whom I write diabetes-related articles. Another of those on my want-to-meet-someday-in-person list)
As a child, I did a lot of chores at home. And whenever I dusted or cleaned, my parents would always tell me one thing that's stuck with me and become my philosophy in life. If you see dust anywhere, get rid of it. Don't keep it for later. I apply it to all spheres in my life

Shri. Sunder (acquainted through DISHA; conducts personality development workshops for schools) Listening to others especially in school setting I learnt a lot. And that has made me a better person today than last 5 decades!

Shri. Sreenivasan (husband’s cousin)
I will never forget in my life time how our uncle uplifted all our family members. If you take as a case study, he has worked tirelessly for the upliftment of sisters’ families. Without our great uncle we wouldn't have grown like this. Hats off uncle. In addition I never treated my Ranga mama as my uncle. He is more like a friend to me. Great person in my lifetime.

(The Ranga mama he refers to is my father-in-law. And I’ve promised to write an entire post on this topic as a tribute to him!)

Smt. Malini (sister-in-law’s husband’s cousin)

My habits are very normal ones-but have brought in lot of changes in my life.

Prayers in day to day life,networking with people of positive attitude
A walk for about 20 to 30 minutes
Always having an urge for learning various aspects -might be new or old

Listening to music for 1/2 an hour everyday
To put it in a nut shell -ALWAYS KEEPING MY MIND AND BODY BUSY

Ms. Shiny (previously student, now colleague, a teacher)
My personal experience is letting go off something that you can't hold is the best thing one could do to themselves. Especially when it is for something that's stealing your peace of mind royally and something which isn't worth to be wasting time on. When you move on and let go of that, you become exactly what you always wanted to be, you become a better version of yourself. It teaches a lot of patience, you get molded into a better person, you become matured. You will be able to face anything with a cool mind ,all that you need to do is trust God and believe this is a part of His divine plan to make you a better person for future.

Also love yourself unconditionally because it's the best gift you can give God. When He breathed life into you! We could be anything else a flower, a bird or an animal but he has chosen us to be humans that is so special and is a blessing!! So in life we should let go of things which are not worth holding onto and those things or people who steal your mental peace and just leave you with pain !! I guess we need to go through this and grow through this and endure this just to be a better person and to tell your own self that you are totally worth it!!

Dr Rati Santhakumar (sister’s college mate, paediatrician in Thrissur) I have cultivated a method of not looking back and delving into the past. Because that gives too much unhappiness. So keep my mind blank and live for each day.

Dr. Kalaranjani (Ayurvedic physician, friend from counseling course) Do people know the real value of life... Theirs or others...??? I think about it at least one or twice in a day...When I see people talking on phone while driving, jumping traffic signal, drinking soft drinks with heavy meal...

Ayesha (old student)
I think my strong will power and never give up attitude helped me a lot...when people said I can’t do this or that I proved them wrong in some way...I mean, some people said I won't be able to do jobs...they were like it’s not easy to do and started demotivating me...but in spite of that I tried and got it...This is just one example but there are still few other things...I tried to prove them wrong.

Shri. Sriram (husband’s cousin)
I have cultivated a habit of giving positive responses to whatever I am asked. This helps in creating an atmosphere with no friction. Suggest you write about your husband's maternal grandfather who was an incomparable human, lived like a saint. I’m slowly trying to inculcate his behaviour although it’s difficult.

Each of these tips is a nugget that can expand into life lessons. And I hope that although I haven’t written about them in detail, you, dear readers, will pay attention and adopt at least some of these in your life.

As to those who couldn't write in this time, do feel free to do so anytime you feel like....

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 28: Two tips to keep the peace....even in the corporate world...

When I’d asked people for their insights at the beginning of this month, a cousin of my husband said she would write back to me shortly. When there was no reply for a long time after, I was wondering why it was taking her so long to send a few thoughts along. And then, one fine day, this document landed in my inbox and I knew why it had taken time – because she had made the effort required to write it in a ‘ready-to-publish’ form.

Read on to know what Vidya Suresh, who works for an IT major in Chennai, has to share….

When I think about success, I don’t really feel I can share my practices as success tips…they are more like tips for peace of mind, which, in turn can lead to success.

According to me success is something that varies from person to person even for the same competition of Birth to Death. Like getting a heavy breakfast is success for someone who’s deprived of food, and replacing heavy breakfast with a mild one is a success for another person who’s aiming at weight reduction.

So considering peace of mind, I can mention 2 things that have worked for me.

1. Find positivity in everything you see and undergo

Though I started with this accidentally, I have tried to retain that habit within me after realizing its benefits. Generally, for any working person, promotion is one of the key morale boosters and of course, partly a money booster as well. More so when it has been pending for quite some time.

I lost my promotion, on a minor margin of just 30 days. The other candidate had been waiting for it for the past 17 months, whereas I was waiting for it for the last 16 months. Not my fault. But as per company rules, it could be given to only one person and so, it went to the other person. It was quite a disappointment for me since I felt that the management could have tried to make an exemption and provided recognition to both of us. But it did not happen.

Later, when I analyzed it, I realized that I couldn’t have done anything more than what I had already done by performing well. My manager was of the same opinion as well. When I was trying to get over this disappointment, when it struck me, “I did not get the promotion, but I’m lucky to have got a good manager, who shared the fact openly with me, which is a really positive thing.”

If you think about it, you can grow without material benefits, for some time, but never without good people around you. So, learn to look at and appreciate the supportive people you have around you.

Losing a promotion provided me an opportunity to understand that there are people around you, who care for you, share the truth with you. That gave me the peace of mind to move ahead. 

2. React to mistakes of others like you would to your child.

This is the second attitude that I am currently practicing. When things don’t go well with someone and they make mistakes, or rather, when I think they make a mistake, I try to treat them as my closest ones, young ones, like a mother or father handles a small kid.

When my kid is making a mistake, what do you do? You don’t just get angry and move away from him or her, right? Initially, you get angry, yes, but you can’t ignore the matter; you need to resolve it. But how?

You pacify the kid, explain things, if he is not accepting on first attempt, you keep telling the same, and try to explain again. If it doesn’t work out, you reach out to someone else, who can help resolve it.

When we practice this with our kids, we end up raising good children. When we practice it with others, we end up retaining the relationship and bring up a matured soul within our own selves.

I am practicing both these attitudes with other people to the maximum extent possible. In official as well as personal matters. Because, at the end of the day, relationships are what matter the most!!

Well….what’s left for me to say that Vidya hasn’t already !!

Oh yes…one thing…that I’ve ‘discovered’ three potential writers in the family!!

Monday, 27 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 27: Being honest with kids

Ms. Ranjini is a psychologist and I met her during the contact classes that were being conducted for the Counseling and Psychotherapy course that I was pursuing. In fact, it was she who recognized me from my participation in the DISHA programs at Ammanni College in Malleswaram, where she was employed as a counselor. Even after finishing the course, we’ve kept in touch and so, Ranjini responded to my question at the start of this blogging month. 

She wrote to me about two things – one, her experience as teacher, and two – an important aspect of parenting. The teacher experience I will have to keep for another time because it’s a topic that requires detailed, nuanced handling. The parenting aspect is what I’m writing about today.

Ranjini wrote: “One lesson I learned from my kids is to never lie to them. My daughter caught me a couple of times when I had lied to her, of course, in her good interests….but it was very embarrassing for me and from that day, I have been practicing to be as truthful as possible with my daughter.”

I really appreciate Ranjini for her honesty in sharing this and even more for letting that embarrassment drive her to change her approach.

I’m sure many of us have had similar situations when we’ve been forced to be economical with the the truth – all in the name of protecting our children from harm, or to give a simplistic explanation for a complex situation they aren’t old enough to understand. Of course it isn’t possible to be 100 percent truthful all the time and you need to be sensitive to the impacts of your truths on the child, too. And yet, it's better to say, "You are too young to understand this now. I will tell you later" rather than fibbing.

But I think the broader point Ranjini is making, is that of avoiding lying to children out of our own sheer laziness. Especially if your kids have a lot of questions, it can be a long-drawn procedure to explain something to them – more so when dealing with the gray areas in the realm of human relationships. And yet, we owe it to our children to take the trouble to be as honest as their understanding permits, and not take the easy way out just to save ourselves from heartache.

When we try explaining things to them, it actually helps clarify our own thought processes, and can be a wonderfully insightful exercise. The innocent “why” or “why not” of a child can be the beginning of a deeper soul-searching for us parents. Also, by adopting this method, we are training our children in how to reason things out and take decisions.

Writing about this reminds me of my own experience. When our son S was about 3 or 4 years old, my husband had to occasionally travel out of Bangalore on official work. Given his obvious attachment to his Appa, we all assumed S would be miserable to know Appa isn’t going to be around for 2 days. So, whenever S asked for his Appa, he was told that his father was going to be coming later, or that Appa came and went when he was napping in the afternoon, and so on…For a few days even after my husband returned, S kept showing signs of anxiety whenever Appa wasn’t near him.

Realizing this, the next time my husband went out of town, I decided that we wouldn’t lie to S. Before he left, Appa told S that he was going to be away for one day, and that he would be coming back on such and such day. Later during the day, whenever S asked for Appa, I reminded him of what he had been told. Of course there were tears, and of course he pined for Appa off and on, but by and large, he wasn’t as cranky or anxious as the previous time.

That incident set the foundation for what continues to be an honest two-way communication. Even today, when he doubts what someone is telling him, he turns to me with questions, knowing fully well that his Amma will give him the true version and even help him understand why that other person wasn’t being honest. By God’s grace, so far, I have been able to do just that….And this openness from our side has led to him cultivating the same direct approach. He trusts us and we trust him.

I pray that Ranjini's efforts at being truthful with her daughter will pay equally rich dividends...

Sunday, 26 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 26: Do people change with time or is it our perception that changes?

The other day, I heard two people – let’s call them A and B talking about a third person C.

A: Have you noticed some change in C?

B: Not particularly. Why?

A: He’s kind of ignoring me. He doesn’t reply to my texts and even when I call, he seems to be always in a hurry. Maybe getting that promotion to Manager has gone to his head…

B: Maybe he’s busier now and has less time to respond?

A: No, no… even before, he used to be more interested in talking only when he wanted some help. You know what they say, “It’s not that people change, it’s the mask that falls off!”

Of course, because I wasn’t acquainted with any of these people, I have no information to say if A was correct in his assessment.

But to me, it sounds like several possibilities exist…

1. C is indeed an opportunist (what people in Goa aptly describe as “Kaamaa purti Maamaa”) and has really grown aloof because it does not suit his purpose to spend time talking to A.

2. C has grown busier and with lesser time, he’s choosing his priorities – and talking to A may not be one of them – tough on A but justifiable from C’s point of view.

3. A is secretly jealous of C and looking to find fault with him so he can justify his bad feelings about C.

4. C has always been reserved, but A never noticed because he was busy taking the lead in conversations. So the problem is that A’s initial perception itself was wrong; now that he’s ‘seeing’ C with blinkers off, he notices what he didn’t earlier. But since he can’t accept his error in assessing C, A is finding fault with C.

I’ve seen many people sharing quotes on Facebook in the spirit of what A was feeling….

“People change and often, they become the person they said they will never be.”

“Time flies, people change. You’re not always needed. There are times to move forward and places to let go.”

“Don’t trust people who change their feelings with time. Trust people whose feelings remain the same when your time changes.”

You can see that all these feelings arise mostly from a sense of hurt….hurt pride, to be specific. You thought you were important to someone – and realizing that you aren’t comes as a shock, setting off a chain of emotions right from anger to depression.

I’ve generally noticed that people who are self-sufficient in their emotional needs go through such trauma less frequently than those who depend on others to feel good.

Thankfully, I belong to the former category, so I don’t really know what it feels like for people in the latter category. But I do know that learning to avoid over-attachment to others can be the key to keep away from such heartache.

Overhearing that conversation between A and B reminded me of my own experiences. For example, it’s been months since I spoke to some good friends who earlier used to be very eager to talk. Then there are some people who are very engaged as readers of my writings for some time – then, they seem to drop off the face of the earth. Neither of these gives me any negative feelings about the concerned persons.

For two reasons.

First, I have a kind of detached approach to these things. I’m happy if people want to interact, but it’s not as if that interaction is the only thing that validates me or my writing. Second, and more importantly, I have this belief that ultimately, all is guided by divine will and all happens for the best – we all get the interactions that are best for us at a given point of time.

So, the next time you find someone “ignoring” you, don’t waste your energy or break your heart in the negativity of how they have changed. Instead, trust that the Universe is keeping you away from those interactions because they are not really necessary for you.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 25: Creating your destiny....

I’m always amazed at how we take people and things at face value, and realize almost nothing about their back story, unless they choose to reveal it themselves.

Today, I’m presenting one such back story that a reader shared. She does not wish to reveal her identity because she says her intention is to not hurt anybody after all these years. And yet, despite the risk of being recognized, she’s willing to share her experience because she hopes that her story will help women realize the importance of being not just educated, but also self-sufficient. So, here’s the story of K as I would like to call her….

I was an average student at college not because I was not intelligent but because I was not disciplined and did not know the value of education. You can gauge my immature approach from the fact that I was just waiting to get married so that I can stop studying! Fortunately, I was married into a so-called rich and highly educated family, at 21, soon after my basic degree.

Dreaming of eating whatever I want, sleeping whenever I want and a generally easy-going life, I could not believe my luck. I stepped into the family, thinking I was a FREE bird now. Little did I know what was in store for me. 

Forget about freedom of doing or talking, no individual of the family was allowed the freedom to even “think”…. 

I had been born and brought up in a middle class family, full of love and freedom. Here, after marriage, I needed permission to even sit and stand, and had to blindly follow instructions, and do only what was told – no freedom to use my mind, also….

That was when I slowly realized the true value of education. I waited for more than a decade to muster courage to put my foot down and finally started expressing my wants and likes and more importantly – started studying again.

So, I went back to college, did my Masters, stood first in the University and went ahead to do a dozen certificate and diploma courses in my chosen subject and finally completed my PhD.

I was someone who complained of food not being tasty when my mother lovingly cooked and fed me each day and yet, I did not bother to study despite all the comforts and care given to me. After my marriage, when I finally did all these courses, it was with a lot of hardship. I had to do all the work and cooking at home, and take care of my children, their studies, games, and activities.

I realize now that I had undermined the value of being educated. It has brought so much courage, confidence and respect that the very same people who once looked down upon me, now look up to me for everything.

Every woman has to be educated to ensure her own safety and not be abused, in any way.

My purpose in sharing this story is not to blame the ones who abuse. Rather, I am blaming myself for not being responsible enough. Once a woman is educated, chances of people abusing her in any way, are less, and she can stand up for herself in any situation, is what I want to convey.

Like Swami Vivekananda said, "Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny."

I got acquainted with K through a friend’s friend, when I was sourcing information for an article for a new website. It was supposed to be a regular assignment and I was happy to meet K because now, I had a credible source for my articles. But after a month or two, all communication from that site ceased and I never did get to know if those articles were published or not.

I’ve always felt bad about this unexplained silence of that website, because I wasn’t able to get back to my sources with a link to the article that quotes them. And I also pondered - what could be the purpose of this seemingly random episode. 

Today, after reading K’s story, that I knew nothing of when I interacted with her previously, I think I know the answer. That random episode was yet another serendipitous event to put me in touch with an inspiring person whose story is sure to be a motivation to many others….

Friday, 24 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 24: Snippet from my life

It was my son’s first birthday and we were to celebrate it with the customary rituals in the Ram Mandir at Malleswaram. All relatives from both sides of the extended family had been invited, along with workplace colleagues and friends.

Unfortunately, my husband S had hurt his leg and been advised a few weeks immobility – a hairline fracture, I think, can’t remember exactly after all these years. Also, S’s maternal aunt who had been diagnosed with cancer a few months before, was struggling with her ailment and the side effects of the therapy, and my in-laws were totally occupied with caring for her besides also taking care of a paralyzed-from-the-waist-down, bed-ridden Tatha (my mother-in-law’s father).

A few days before, after consulting my parents and in-laws and the vaadiyaar (officiating pandit), I had compiled a list of things we would require, and kept everything ready. The evening prior to the birthday, I went to the hall alone to check on the arrangements and make the last minute purchases of flowers and fruits. One of my brothers-in-law came after some time and together, we bought the vegetables from the nearby market and got the cook and his assistants settled in. My parents and sisters would be coming early the next morning to help set up everything for the rituals.

The next morning, I packed everything, and with my sister-in-law P, took an auto and reached the hall. S and his parents would come with our son a little later. While we were in the auto, P was appreciating how I had got everything organized on my own and made a statement that made me go blank for a while. She said, “At first, we were all worried because during your wedding, we heard you were slow in your work. But seeing how you’ve been doing everything so efficiently, it’s a great relief.”

Overcoming my shock at hearing that, I asked her from whom they had heard it and when the answer came, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh – because that person who had passed judgment on me didn’t really know me well, and had hardly ever seen me in action despite being a close relative, because there hadn’t been scope for too much interaction. Cry – imagining how wrong my new family had been in believing the inputs from someone who was not just ill-informed, but also relatively quite young.

But there was no time to spend thinking of it and so, this news of my supposed lethargy and laidback attitude got pushed to the back of my mind.

Many days later, I remembered this again and then, pondered over why that relative may have made such a damaging statement to people who were yet to discover me. It struck me that maybe it was something said in jest, because my sisters would always tease me about how, when I was in 11th and 12th standard, I used to leave home much earlier than required. Everyone knew it was to avoid the rush in the buses which was more as college time approached, still, it was one thing they used to pull my leg about. Probably this person had heard this joke and reported it equally in jest, not realizing the impact it could have…

And yet, even in this situation with so much potential for damage, I could sense Krishna’s grace….because:

- My in-laws family had heard this judgment and yet, never used it to throw barbs at me

- They hadn’t let their knowledge of this supposed insider information to prejudice their minds and were willing to form their opinions based on what they observed of me

- I got to know of this in a positive setting, at a time when my own relationship with my new family was relatively well-cemented, so there was no chance of me feeling hurt by the disclosure

- Except for an initial sense of being let-down, I never felt any kind of anger at the relative who’d played Brutus

- One more thing I realized years later…..

……….when a relative on my in-laws side was talking about my son’s first birthday. She expressed how sad she had been at that time. Because from her point of view, all the problems that existed then were depressing – S’s fracture, his aunt’s cancer, Tatha’s health condition, and seeing me running around alone to get things arranged.

Hearing her say this, I realized that I’ve been blessed with something that has made the biggest difference all through my life.

The inability to see difficulties where others see them.

It’s like I’m literally numb - lethargic and laidback 😉- when it comes to sensing personal discomfort.

Never feeling bogged down by the magnitude of things I have to do.

The attitude that nothing is a problem – its only a question of getting used to stepping out of my comfort zone…..

….And with Krishna always guiding me, I know there’s always a way out of the trickiest of situations….

Anytime I find myself confused about how to act or respond to something, I call into play my moral compass, which is what my spiritual guide told me long, long ago, a few days before I was to get married. "Whatever your situation in life, never ever forget that you are a sadhak (spiritual seeker)." Today, more than ever, I realize that acting as per this advice has made all the difference to my life...

Thursday, 23 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 23: The Jyothy who glows and spreads light...

About two years ago, a friend put me in touch with a group of like-minded ladies by adding me to their WhatsApp group. A few months after this, I sent this group an invite to a DISHA training program. 

One of the ladies who attended the training was Mrs. Jyothy Menon. Ever since, we kept in touch, even coordinating the farewell gift for the friend who first got me in touch with the group, who was now leaving for the US. 

Jyothy keeps sending me information about certain programs – parenting workshops, self-development seminars, Bhagavad Geeta lectures and so on. Every single time, it turns out that she is involved with organizing the program in some capacity or the other. 
The latest program Jyothy is involved in organizing...if you're in Bengaluru and interested, do make time to attend!

So, beyond the fact that she is a dynamic woman with deep faith in the teachings of the Geeta, I knew next to nothing about Jyothy's personal life. 

Which is why I was dumbstruck when she shared her story with me, with the preamble, “When I decided to take full responsibility of my life and to be a provider than a receiver, things started to change for me.”

Here’s the rest of her story, in her own words….

17 years back I was in a very bad state. A young jobless lady with a son with congenital problem, husband’s business in ruins , ill treated by close family…..

I got exposed to life’s realities in a very hard way.

Got married at 21 without any social interaction other than convent school and college. In a year, had my son with lot of issues. My parents - both government officers entrusted me with a businessman hubby, saying he would be able to provide much more than a salaried person .

Business crashed within the same year and tons of liabilities piled up.

I had no clue on how to get a straw. I worked as guest faculty, earning a meagre sum.

I got rejected in many interviews for government jobs in the very last round- due to my lack of confidence, introversion, and of course - job reservation criteria.

Then I decided that I should take full responsibility of my life- which I had not done so far. My marriage decision was 100% by my parents. Child decision by my hubby and his mom. All the decisions made without my involvement had proved to be disastrous. So, I decided to get involved.

I moved to Bangalore in search of a job because in Kerala, it was near to impossible for a mother to get a stable job.

Ever since I started working in Bangalore, I have been the best performer in the various companies in which I worked….. even today it continues.

I provide for my family, for many special children and for tribal children. I help people to get jobs, do family counselling, draw vastu compliant low cost house plans , interior designing, life coaching, organize Satsang programs, do fund raising for dharmik activities - all with a full time job, with support from my husband.

To those who ask, “How do you do so many things?” my standard reply is- I’m like a rocket . When your a** is on fire, you cannot sit. You can only move up.”

Jokes apart, it is just because of the realisation that - you will have everybody, when you have everything, and the converse is equally true….you won’t have anybody when you don’t have anything... You will be valued only as long as you are a provider/ giver…

Something I really appreciate is congruence of thoughts, words and deeds. At a stage when I had nothing good to hope for, I decided to provide Hope to those in need.

This has helped many….

And Bhagavadgita has always been and continues to be my only Guru – that’s the life manual for me….

Today, I’m successful on my own terms- influencing and impacting many lives in a positive way.

Once, when I didn’t know Jyothy very well, I’d heard someone in the group praise her, saying she knows the whole Bhagavad Geeta by heart. I remember wondering if she only knew the words, or practiced the teachings in her life too. Now, after reading what she’s shared with me, I know the answer….and I feel blessed that yet again, God’s grace has put me in touch with such a positive and inspiring person. 

Today, when I asked Jyothy how she has so much energy to give to so many activities, her reply was, "Nimitta Maatram" (merely an instrument in the hands of the Lord).............

If anyone facing some kind of difficulty is reading this post, I’d like to say to him or her, “Learn from Jyothy’s example that nothing is impossible if you set your body, mind and soul to it.”

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 22: Lessons in emotional intelligence

“Where is K waiting? Didn’t she say she would be at Y circle? Now, should we go in this direction? No….that’s a one-way, let’s go the other way!! Wait, why don’t we phone her?”

Three or four voices speaking all at once. The taxi driver G slows down and waits for us to decide, without getting agitated or accusing us of creating the confusion with a, “You should have told me before” or “I didn’t know that’s where you wanted to go.” Instead, in the middle of our confusion, he calmly suggests we call K and find out exactly where she is.

Finally, we make our way ahead and pick K up. Next and last on the list is J. He’s told us he’s near a popular local hospital and we tell that to G. He says emphatically that he knows where that place is and drives fast to take us there. But in our combined anxiety, it seems like except me, no one else has heard him, and we keep wondering aloud about whether we’ve crossed that place, J said it was near to point X and now we’ve come quite far already…blah blah blah….

Even when one of us tells G to pull over to the left and drive slowly, he’d be justified in using a dominant voice and telling us he knows the place and will we please stop worrying so much. Yet, he doesn’t do that. He slows down and moves into the left lane although he knows the pick up point is still quite far ahead.

After having successfully picked the entire team, we zoom on the highway, only stopping for breakfast. After breakfast, P asks G how much more time it will take to reach the destination. Someone else chips in and says about how it will be a problem to reach later because then, the program will get delayed. 

Again, G is the epitome of confident calm – all he asks, very politely, is, “What time do you have to be there, Sir?” and on hearing the answer, he promises, “Don’t worry, I will get you there within that time.” And indeed, without seeming to drive rashly, he does ensure he covers the distance in record time, and gets us to our venue right in time.

Later in the day, we have to go elsewhere, to a location that’s not familiar to us. G doesn’t know the place well, either. By the time one of us suggests he switch on Google Maps, he’s already trying to do it even as he’s driving. When he finds he can’t manage both, G asks K to do the needful and she tries, but somehow, the navigator isn’t working. 

So, G stops and asks for directions; a little later, he suggests we again ask for directions; a third time, when we want to re-check, he calmly stops the vehicle and asks another passerby. At no point is he hassled or grumpy or making any sarcastic comments.

The next day, we are delayed by a good 1.5 hours from the scheduled time of departure. And yet, when we fret over the fact that we’ll probably reach back later than we planned to, not once does he crib or say we should have finished our program earlier. 

And….wonder of wonders….thanks to G’s driving skills and the grace of God who ensures we don’t get caught in traffic, we end up reaching at exactly the same time that we’d wanted to be back, despite the one-and-half hour delay in starting the journey.

Even in the face of his obvious remarkable feat, there’s no gloating or boasting or even a mention of it from G. 

This account is of Team DISHA’s travel to Hassan from November 21-22 to conduct workshops at two colleges there. Part of the workshop was to help students learn about emotional intelligence through case analysis.

Even as I reach back home about 38 hours after I had left, I’m quite tired by the journey, all the activity, and the fact that I’m still coughing from a throat infection….even wondering if I will be able to write today’s blog. But then, all tiredness vanishes as I realize that I can write about the emotional intelligence of G who took us to Hassan and brought us back safely – a living example of the principles of self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management.