Dec 31, 2009

Oh!!! What a year this was!!! :)

It feels like yesterday when I bid adieu to 2008. It feels like yesterday when I wished all my friends a 'Happy New Year'. It feels like yesterday when I made my secret resolutions for 2009. And today is New Years' Eve already!!!
I like this time of the year when it's all festive and fun. We have so many festivals to celebrate through the year but the month of December and its last few days have this very specially different feeling.
Here's a quick round-up of some of the special things that happened to me during the last one year...
  • Made a trip with family to Mysore and Coorg. Lovely experience.
  • My little niece completed a year in February. She started walking around on her birthday. It was such a beautiful sight to see the little one taking her first few baby steps. She's moved on to running around, jumping around and tumbling around. She has even started talking now. She's one adorable niece. I miss my dear little Harini.
  • Shifted base to Bangalore in February. Joined up with Infosys. I am not commenting on how green (no pun intended!) the grass is on this side of the fence ;) but somehow it feels nice to be a part of India's most sought after company.
  • Ran a shopping marathon for nearly 5-6 months across every mall and every other shopping complex in Bangalore. I had my reasons and I had fun :).
  • The year that's rolling over has been a really special one for me. I met someone special and got married to him this year. He's changed everything around me... and made everything around me so special. Thank you Sweetheart... this one's for you... for everything!!!
  • My family just grew bigger. I now have an extended family - with the most adorable parents-in-law, the most bindaas sister-in-law and whole lot of new uncles, aunts, cousins and friends!!! I love all the attention they give me and I enjoy staying in touch with all of them.
  • He and Me went to the Andaman Islands together. It was one awesome trip. The clear blue-green waters, the clean white beaches and the dense forests were captivating. We visited Havelock Island, Ross Island and a few places in Port Blair itself. We had a wonderful week-long getaway that let us give each other all the time we had.
2009 will always remain as one of my favourite years... thanks to these and many other special moments in the last one year!!!
2009 came... and went by like any other year before it. 2009 came... and brought each one of us our share of smiles and frowns. 2009 came... and will disappear into history in a few hours from now. 2009 came... only to pass by and make way for 2010!!!
May the New Year brighten up each one of our lives and bring in an infinite supply of happy and pleasant moments. Wishing you all a Wonderfully Happy New Year!!!

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Jul 21, 2009

Bangalore So Far...

I've been in Bangalore for a good five months now... been thinking ever since I landed up in Garden City, that I must spare some time and blog about how I've been doing in the new place. Somehow something or the other took priority and time decided not to spare itself :D Here's a quick one on what changed and how during my time in every Bangalorean's Namma Bengaluru :)

  • The big fat house hunt began as mission #1 when I landed up in Bangalore. I spent the initial first month at a family friend's place. Had a wonderful 'home away from home' experience there :)
  • After a month's hunt I found this little 1BHK for myself. Always had this secret wish to live alone, all by myself, some day. Was thrilled when this wish materialized :)
  • Got busy setting up my new house... it's a cute, cozy place that I enjoy being in :) Best part is I have IIM Bangalore as my next door neighbour and I ensure I make a mention of it when someone asks me for my address. That's the closest I could get to the IIMs :)
  • Got to be a part of Infosys! I never once miss the raising eyebrows or throats clearing when someone says 'Oh wow! You're with Infosys!' :)
  • Was on bench for the initial one and a half months or so. Having been in the IT industry for over 4 years and never once been on bench before was kind of making me feel left out! I completely enjoyed this 'bench time' :)
  • Joined up Infosys Toastmasters to continue my journey as a Toastmaster. Have been busy at work of late and not able to spare as much time for it. Managed to attend a few sessions and even MCed a milestone meeting here. Met some amazing Toastmasters and even shared the same stage as many distinguished ones :)
  • Crossed paths with a wonderful person at work. She's turned out to be my best dost at Bangalore. We've giggled like idiots, cried like babies, passed remarks at anyone we sight, shopped and have not yet dropped and have had loads of fun together :)
  • Shopped like never before... from clothes to footwear to you name it I've shopped it :)
  • Got to meet my batchmates from Symbiosis more often. Quite a handful in Bangalore :)
  • Met someone special for the first time at Bangalore... his folks and mine decided we go ahead and get married :) We're happily engaged now and we're getting married soon and I am so looking forward to it :) He's the best and the reason behind why you'll find me smiling at any time you choose to spot me... including at the end of every line above :)
Missed blogging and the whole blog duniya for a long time now... I do try and catch up with blogs that I read regularly... I hope to get back to being more regular with my Bindaas Baatein soon!!!

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May 23, 2009

Thankyou Irena

In May 2008, a 98 year-old Polish lady named Irena Sendler died.

During WWII, she got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist but she had an ulterior motive. She KNEW of the Nazi's plans for the Jews. Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and, in the back of her truck, she had a burlap sack for the larger children. She had a dog in the back of the truck that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the noise of the children. She managed to smuggle out and save 2,500 children before she was caught; the Nazis broke both her legs and her arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the children that she smuggled out which she kept in a glass jar buried under a tree in herback yard. After the War, she tried to locate any parents that had survived and reunited the families. Most, of course, had been gassed but she helped those children to be placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007, Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize…


Al Gore won for doing a slide show on Global Warming!!!!


I got this article couple of days back by email. My heart goes out in appreciation for Irena. I'm not sure how much the Nobel Prize would have even meant for a lady as selfless as Irena... but I strongly feel those who take a call about the Nobel Prize need to take a few moments off to think if they'd ever do something as selfless!!!

We may not necessarily get our due credit for the efforts we put in at work or the good we do as humans... does that mean we stop doing well or being good??? Does expecting appreciation and recognition take away the essence of what we're doing???

I'm not sure... I'm confused...

For the moment I'm all praise for Irena... hats off to you lady!!! May we have more of your type...

PS: this post's for my friend kavitha... thanks for pushing me to make sure I publish something asap :)...

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Apr 27, 2009

The 2-minute Magic Spell

'Mummy bhook lagi hai' mumbled two little hungry kids... 'Bas do minute' said the mother... and quite rightly so in the midst of an exciting television ad jingle a yummy platter of noodles was ready in two minutes flat!!! Oh yes, I'm talking about everyone's favourite - Maggi Noodles!!!

If you're in your twenties or thirties and if you have not had Maggi... then you've probably just landed from some other planet. Maggi was and is my favourite kitchen rack item. It takes you just two minutes to decide to want to eat Maggi, then just about two minutes to get it ready and if you're really hungry... just another two minutes to slurp it down :)

Amit's ode to this favourite snack of mine prompted me to write this post. Apparently Maggi completes 25 years this year... 25 years of filling hungry tummies in the quickest possible time! It sure is quite something. I'm quite impressed by the different variations that the Maggi family has tried to offer over the years... somehow though the original Maggi Masala will always remain my favourite.

As kids, my sisters and me were even part of the Maggi Club. We used to get these fancy Maggi memorabilia, Maggi Club pin-up badges, loads of mailers from the Maggi Club etc. The mailers would be something that we waited for longingly... who else would be kind enough to mark letters to some less-than-10-year olds :) Maggi did!!! It connected with us right then... and the bond continues to last right through... up to now and am sure for a long way down the future. It is almost as if the 2-minute magic has cast a spell to last us a lifetime :)

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Apr 12, 2009

Generation Fast Forward!

The young and trendy like to be referred as Generation Next... but the generation that's catching up loud and clear is Generation Fast Forward - a generation branding that I've done for the kids of today, clearly much quicker in thought and action than most of us who'd want to call ourselves GenNext just coz it sounds cool.

My little niece, who's as little as one does so many things that we would have probably never imagined when we were that age. She does everything from humming a lullaby to put her doll to sleep to walking around so matter-of-factly with a mobile when someone calls. She even speaks in some kind of language that she understands so well and speaks with a 'you don't understand this??!!' attitude!

When we were kids, we were known to be sweet, cute and cuddly. Kids of today are not just all of that but are also smart, intelligent and quick!

Here's a conversation I heard at a bookstore between an affluent mom and her smart little kid, a young guy all of 7 years maybe:

Rich Affluent Mom (RAM): Come on son, we've picked up enough books for yourself.
Smart Little Kid (SLK): Yes mom, just for Rs.2000. We can add some more to it. Check out this one, its ONLY Rs.675/-
RAM: Don't you think its expensive, son!
SLK: It's really worth it, mom! I've read about it somewhere and it is really worth the price (economics pro in the making... I never knew to judge if things were worth their price at 7 years of age!!!)
RAM: Son..!!
SLK: Come on mom, be a sport! You could even pick a copy for yourself!!!

Now how mean was that! Just imagine your own kid not willing to 'share' his books with you. Imagine him/ her asking you to get yourself your own copy of music, books or whatever else. I'm sure the kid didn't mean to sound rude, he was just being practical and detached... Now whether that's a good sign or a bad sign or no sign at all... I'm really not sure. Somehow that conversation struck me... and in a way made me believe that Generation Fast Forward have ways of their own... ways that may shake you up at times.

I'm intimidated at times... sometimes amused!!!

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Mar 22, 2009

Chalo Coorg!

The Coorg part of the trip we made... read on...

We headed to Coorg from Msyore. The drive from Mysore to Coorg was enchanting. There were plantations on both sides of the roads - stretches of coffee, bamboo and pepper plantations.

We visited the Namdroling Monastery at Bylekuppe. The gilded statues of Buddha in the Golden temple were simply awesome. The quietness in the campus brought a sense of calm and peace. Apparently this is the largest Tibetan civilization outside of Tibet. It was interesting to see the monks dressed in maroon robes go about with their life on the campus. I bought some interesting bags from the Tibetan market.

The best part about the Coorg trip was some really interesting things that I did for the first time.
  • We put up at one of the home-stays at Coorg - a different quirky experience.
  • I tasted some Manglorean specialities for breakfast - puttu, kori roti et al
  • I plucked coffee (and ate the fruit too :P). Contrary to the bitterness associated with coffee, its fruit is really sweet.
  • I sat around a camp fire that we set up ourselves and gazed at the stars endlessly.
  • I got the water to boil using firewood every morning. Geysers have taken over today... but the firewood heating experience was one of its kind.
  • I saw the sun set from Raja's Seat and captured every bit of it on camera. On hindsight, I find it quite funny how we urbans stare with mouths wide open and cameras on focus at a sight as routine as a sun set!!! In a way it reflects how we take things around for granted. The sun sets everyday and looks just as awesome everyday... we just don't take the time out to catch a glimpse!
  • I saw a bamboo forest – a place called Nisargadhama with an enchanting hanging bridge over the Cauvery.
  • I climbed up a tree house at Nisargadhama. Exciting!
  • The trip was good fun except for the dearth of good vegetarian hotels around and the heat during the day. Never expected it to be so warm at Coorg in the month of January. Global warming to blame?? Where have the environmental warriors gone??? :(

Overall the whole Coorg/ Mysore trip was good fun, a nice break and just another reason to blog :)

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Mar 11, 2009

Mysore Mazaa(la)

I have been long waiting to blog about my holiday to Coorg/ Mysore in January. I've finally mangaged to get down to that

I was between jobs when I took this trip - that kind of took away the excitement of being away from work :)

Here's the Mysore half of the trip. The Coorg experience will follow in my next post.

Mysore - a clean and beautiful city that immediately charmed me. We spent a day and a half there but saw almost everything that Mysore personifies. Here are a few quickies on what I saw or did at Mysore:

The Mysore Zoo - This is the best zoo I have ever been to. It spreads over a vast area and is home to a whole lot of animal and bird species. I'm sure anyone would enjoy a trip to the Mysore zoo - irrespective of how old you are or how old you feel! The magnificent tall giraffes were our hot favourites. This was the first time I ever saw a giraffe for real - and not just one. There were four of them standing tall. I almost couldn't take our eyes off them :)

St. Philomena's Church - We made a quick trip to this church built in the honour of St. Philomena in the Diocese of Mysore. Brilliant architecture, beautiful stain glass interiors and a stoic silence inside the Church made the visit worth every minute spent there.

Brindavan Gardens - Sprawling gardens and the beautiful water fountains are simply soothing. Once it was dark the fountains glittered in various colours. The musical fountain was beatifully choreographed. It was a very relaxing experience at the garden. Superbly maintained.

Mysore Palace - Awesome interiors. Left me in complete envy :). I could almost imagine the Wodeyar clan walking around in the huge palace (effect of an overdose of Jodha Akbar maybe :P)

We saw other places like the beautiful Karanji Lake (including a pedal boat experience), the Chamundeshwari Temple, the magestic Nandi and the Cave Shiva temple on Chamundi Hills, and the Lalit Mahal Palace.

The other good part about Mysore were the yummy dosas. Never had such tasty crisp dosas before.

What impressed me most about the city was it's people. I found almost everyone around to be extremely courteous - including people like traffic policemen who are otherwise so rude and grumpy. Almost every one of them we interacted with were ready to help - with a smile on their face. Something that has gone amiss in our bigger faster cities.

I sure am going back to Mysore soon - for its people, clean wide roads and its yummy dosas :)

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Be an Alchemist

I had heard loads and loads about Paulo Coelho's 'The Alchemist'. One of the most common reason this book was recommended for reading was its extremely positive remarks about how it pays to remain in pursuit of your dreams - no matter how long it takes.

I happened to chance upon a copy of 'The Alchemist' at my aunt's place - picked it up for reading instantly.

I believe in omens and I am always on the lookout for them - in my own small way. Some of the dialogues between the shepherd boy and the people he encounters are so striking. I am not sure whether this book would have the same impact on everyone. I loved the book! Never felt so positive and charged up about my own dreams ever before. I am not sure if I am over-reacting; but somehow I can relate to almost everything that the shepherd boy goes through whilst pursuing the treasure of his life. I don't know... maybe this is an omen by itself!!! And I chose to believe that it is a good omen!

Coming back to the book; I think Paulo Coelho has drawn a brilliant parallel between human dreams and alchemy. Relentlessly trying till you're smiling about what you've achieved is common to both. The metaphor is striking and leaves an impression.

I've compiled some of my favourite lines from the book and what I feel about them. Here goes...

When you really want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.
This one's the best... has inspired many included our very own SRK in Om Shanti Om :P. I blindly trust my conspirators... whoever they are, wherever they are!

The world’s greatest lie: At a certain point in our lives we lose control of what’s happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate.
This one's for those who have stopped having faith in the earlier line :( We cannot let fate control our lives... it's just not right!

Most people see the world as a threatening place, and because they do, the world turns out indeed to be a threatening place.
Lesson for me... and maybe a couple of you too.

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
Another gyaan byte for us :)

Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.
Especially true of all nosey uncles and aunts who somehow have an opinion about everything we do or want :P

If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return.
Beautiful simile!

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.
I agree totally... your dreams are your only true companion for life!

Never stop dreaming.
Believe me... it serves as enough motivation to keep on trying till you get there someday! Don't forget to keep the fingers crossed too :)

Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.
I don't mind... all's well that ends well.

Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him.
Makes me feel special! I'm waiting for mine.........

Wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.
Wow... Paulo Coelho even gave us a hint :)

If I really am a part of your dream, you will come back one day.
Some call it emossional atyachaar... some call it pyaar :)

“Even though I complain sometimes,” it (heart) said, “it’s because I’m the heart of a person, and people’s hearts are that way. People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them. We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in the sands. Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.”
How true... we subject our poor li'l hearts through a whole lot of what not. I actually found this dialogue between the shepherd and his heart really really sweet - almost like an innocent kid giving an alibi! Let's stop being mean... let's be good to our hearts!

Life really is generous to those who pursue their destiny.
One more reason to keep going.

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Feb 26, 2009

Which way to the garden?

Am on blogosphere after almost 3 weeks now!!! Feels like a lifetime.

Just about managed to access Blogger and here I am... in the Garden City of Bangalore... in search of the gardens :)

I've taken up a career opportunity here... but so far have been in the outskirts of the city. Am yet to explore the city and its beauty.

Bangalore... here I come :)

PS: feels kind of weird writing a typical blog. A first I think as compared to the rest of my posts. :) Will be back with more of those asap... I hope!

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Feb 2, 2009

Slamming Success

I'm not sure if I am a big enough tennis fan to blog about India's performance at the Australian Open... but I sure am proud enough to do that.

The year has started off on a good note for Indian tennis - what with Sania Mirza, Mahesh Bhupati and Yuki Bhambri sizzling on court and emerging winners.

For Bhupati this may be another feather on his Grand Slam cap. I'm sure this is just the beginning of feathers for Sania and Yuki.

Congratulations guys, you've made us proud!!!

I was reminded of my stint as an avid tennis follower (you thought I was going to write player?? :P) when I read this post by a friend. I remember how we used to have Graf vs Seles camps set up at home during Grand Slam tournaments. Somehow over the years the interest in the game has kind of dwindled. Guess the interest levels will only get higher now... and am glad that this time round we'll be rooting for Indians given the promising talent we have.

Now that we've slowly made it to the ranking sheets... it's only fititng that we raise the bar. I'm looking forward to some day when we'll have an all out Indian vs Indian Grand Slam final. What say?

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Jan 28, 2009

Are You Going to Finish Strong?

Just as I was thinking about what I could write on next, I stumbled upon a video that perfectly appears to be a sequel to my earlier post.

There are a million obstacles that we may come across in life... but there are people around us with deeper sufferings who somehow still emerge winners. They are truly worth emulating.

My hero for the moment is Nick Vujicic. He was born without limbs and has continued to live without them. For someone like him probably managing to live life is a challenge in itself. What is amazing is that despite all odds he's also helping a whole lot of others (including those of us blessed with limbs) help live theirs more meaningfully.

Check out this video. It is just one of his inspiring short talks.

The audience is left in tears at the end of it.
I'm sure you'll be silently sniffing once you're done with watching it. I only hope you feel as much stronger, as me once you're done with that :)

I'd only like to add... that however much you may feel down and out, just keep hanging on to the idea that things will only get better than what they are now... eventually! Hats off to you Nick... you made my day!!!

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Jan 19, 2009

Hope is a Good Thing

After months of having got myself a copy of the movie The Shawshank Redemption I finally decided to watch it yesterday.

The movie is based on a Stephen King novella [new word I picked up when I wiki-ed for the book :)] called Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

Tim Robbins plays the role of a banker called Andy Dufresne who is given a double life sentence for murdering his wife and her lover - a crime that he badly wanted to commit but had not. As fate would have it he was sent to Shawshank Prison where he spent the next 19 years of his life!!!

Morgan Freeman plays the role of 'Red' who was another inmate at Shawshank Prison. Freeman sure has a class of his own. After this movie and The Bucket List he has one more fan in me :)

The movie is hard-hitting with a whole lot of dialogues that leave you dumbstruck. It is yet another visualization of how harsh things can get on the other side of the bars. It is yet another attempt to convey that there is nothing more powerful than hope. It is yet another attempt to reinforce the fact that no matter how mean life can get, it is that undying spirit of hope that will help us sail through and come out smiling despite the hardships that we will eventually leave behind.

I am glad the movie has influenced me positively. I only feel more positive about clinging on to my hopes, however irrational they may seem at the moment!!!

I decided I should put up a post about this on Bindaas Baatein. There's nothing more satisfying than spreading one's positivity around - who knows, this might just make you want to change your mind over things you have given up on.

I'll sum this up in Andy Dufresne's words from the movie - 'Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies'.

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Jan 16, 2009

50 and running

2009 is probably yet another year with a lot in store for all of us. Our year-end posts will take care of summing that up :)

Among other things, 2009 marks the golden jubilee of 2 of my favorite comic characters - Asterix and Obelix!!! Just wanted to let them know how much I love them and the rest of the Gauls :)

I've read practically every one of the 33 titles and I doubt if I'll ever get bored of reading them up over and over again. The names of each of the Gauls - including the cute li'l Dogmatix - is something that always charms me.

The complete Asterix collection is definitely worth its space on your bookshelf - and mine too. Did I hear someone saying 2009 is good to go gifting??? :P

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Jan 7, 2009

Movie Time...

'List out your New Year Resolutions'... I have been telling myself to sit down and work this out for the last week or so. But somehow I have not managed to get myself to do it yet. Ordinary people find it difficult to live by their resolutions. Some like me find it tough to even sit down and get those resolutions on paper (make that blogger :P)! I wanted to do it over the weekend but I ended up watching two movies back to back.

Ghajini was the first. I loved it! Aamir is at his perfect best. Asin did a good job too. I was only left wondering why the movie was named after the villian... and why Ghajini! Also Aamir's character was supposed to be some super popular business tycoon. How come no one recognized him then when he played Sachin!!! Oops sorry... when it's movies... you're not supposed to 'think' and ask! That apart it was a fine movie. I've decided to watch the original Tamil version now. I love watching sequels, prequels, originals, 'inspired from' movies and then play 'spot the differences and similarities' :P

Alright then... next on the list was the recent Tamil hit Vaaranam Aayiram. I could not get beyond the interval. No no no... don't frame opinions about the movie! I could not get beyond the interval coz my PC went for a toss around that time. Oh by the way did I tell you... one of the resolutions I'm contemplating is to stop watching DVD rip offs? Oh by the way again, did I tell you... I was contemplating that for my list of resolutions for the year 2045?? :P

Alright, coming back to the first half of Vaaranam Aayiram... it's an awesome movie! Yes, even though I watched only part of it for me it seemed like a perfect complete movie. And I must tell you that my review is not biased by the first half alone... the 'I hate suspense' keeda in me made sure I find out what happens in the second half :P.

The casting and execution was brilliant. Sameera Reddy had the perfect combination of oomph and girlish innocence. Surya and Simran played their roles beautifully! Surya stole the show in all the three roles that he portrayed. The school boy look and the old man look were well crafted. About the awesome hero look that had me floored... I think it just comes naturally to the guy! :-)

The movie's a little emotional. It hurts when Sameera dies in the blast and Surya's left heartbroken. Apparently he gets over it in the second half... drugs, realization, an army stint and a poem that his mum recites... come to his rescue!!! Somehow made me think that every real life love story that's not meant to work out should end that way. A blast or an accident or something fatal would make it a lot easier for the lady. For the brave macho gentlemen... life will somehow move on!!! (Thank God we don't have a Aadmi Mukti Aandolan trend around :P)

If I have to wrap up this review... I'd just say that it's a must watch for the 'romantically challenged' :P

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Jan 2, 2009

Collect Your ‘Good Stuff’ Bags

(Here's the script I used for my 'Inspire your Audience' speech at CCTM. With this I finished the Competent Communicator series. I'm eagerly waiting to pursue my Advanced Communication track now.)

Picture this. It is eight in the evening. Rohit is at his office desk, busy with his conference calls. A few blocks away his wife Rita is busy at work, delivering some important presentations. Just another long day at work for the couple. At around 10 pm the two of them meet up and drive down to their home. They open the door of their apartment… the lights suddenly come on, there are balloons all over and a complete festive setup. There was a huge cake on the center table… ‘Happy Anniversary Mum n Dad’ read the icing on the cake. On the sofa… their 8 year old daughter was huddled asleep… with a frown on her face. Her parents had forgotten their own anniversary and she could not manage to stay up late enough to remind them!!!

How often have we felt just as sorry as Rohit and Rita?

The world we are in today almost literally personifies the phrase ‘Survival of the Heartless’. As mean as it is… that is how it is.

I want to spend the next few minutes trying to inspire all of you to slow down, look around and take stock of all the smaller, yet sweeter things in life.

Let me share a story with you all. It is written by Robert Fulghum and he calls it ‘The Daddy Prize’.

Molly lived with her father and brother. She was a little school girl. Molly would pack the lunch bags for all three of them every morning. Each bag would get a share of sandwiches, apples, milk… and sometimes a note or a treat.

One morning Molly gave her father two paper bags as he was about to leave. One regular lunch sack. And an extra paper sack.
"Why two bags?” Molly’s father asked in a hurry.
"The other one is something else.", she said.
"What's in it?” her father asked – more irritation in his voice.
"Just some stuff – take it with you."
Not wanting to get late for work, he stuffed both sacks into his briefcase, kissed Molly, and rushed off.

That’s how fathers are. Practical, to the point and always in a rush. But when it comes to their daughters there is an inevitable soft corner. Fathers of daughters would agree.

Coming back to the story…
At midday, while hurriedly gulping down his real lunch, Molly’s father tore open the other bag and shook out the contents. Two hair ribbons, three small stones, a plastic dinosaur, a pencil stub, a tiny seashell, a marble, a used lipstick, a small doll, two chocolate kisses, and thirteen coins.

He had a momentary smile on his face. The next moment he remembered he was getting late for a meeting. He swept the desk clean – into the dustbin – leftover lunch, Molly's junk, and all. There wasn't anything in there that he needed.

All those of you who are fathers here, just look back at the many moments you felt nice when your children did whatever little they could to make you feel special. When we were kids, my sisters and I would plan for weeks about what to present our parents’ for their birthdays or anniversary. The end result would not be so happening… a hand made paper card with doodles and wishes in our scrawly handwriting. But my parents were always sweet enough to speak so high about it. They would even put it up on display for a couple of days and boast about it to any visitors who dropped in. It felt really good.

Molly’s father sensed similar pride… unfortunately his ruthless demands at work did not let the feeling sink in. Wonder how Molly would react to her father dumping away her gift.

That evening Molly went and stood next to her father while he was reading the paper.
"Where's the bag?", she asked.
"What bag?", he asked without even looking out of the paper.
"You know, the one I gave you this morning."
"I left it at office, why?"
"I forgot to put this note in it."
She handed over a note and continued… "Besides, I want it back?"
"Why?", Molly’s father asked, surprised.
"Those are my things in the sack, Daddy, the ones I really like – I thought you might like to play with them, but now I want them back. You didn't loose the bag, did you, Daddy?" Tears puddled in her eyes.

He lied to her that he forgot the bag at office.
She pleaded with him to bring it back the next day… she was embarrassed.
He agreed.
As she hugged him with relief, her father unfolded the note that had not got into the sack: "I love you Daddy.", it said!!

He realized then that what the bag had was definitely ‘something else’. Molly had given him her treasures. Love in a paper sack. And he had missed it. Not only missed it, but had thrown it in the dustbin because "there wasn't anything in there that he needed."

Molly’s dad was filled with remorse. How often have we felt that way? How often have we hurt someone, maybe even without meaning to? I’m not sure if we can entirely blame Molly’s dad… coz probably each one of us here have done something similar to what he did… not just with our children… but with any of our near and dear ones. What I like about her dad is that he realized his mistake and set out to make amends.

After putting Molly to sleep, he rushed to office. He reached just in time before the cleaning staff began their work. He picked up the dustbin and poured the contents on the floor. He sorted out the trash looking for each piece of Molly’s treasure.

He washed the items and spraying the whole thing with breath-freshener to kill the smell of onions. Next he carefully smoothed out the ball of brown paper into a semi functional bag, put the treasures inside and carried the whole thing home. The next evening he returned it to Molly, no questions asked. The bag didn't look so good but the stuff was all there and that's how Molly looked at it.

After dinner he asked her to tell him about the stuff in the sack, and so she took it all out a piece at a time and placed the objects in a row on the dining table. It took a long time to tell. Everything had a story, a memory, or was attached to dreams and imaginary friends.

To his surprise, Molly gave the bag to her father once again several days later. Same bag. Same stuff inside. He felt forgiven. And trusted. And loved. And a little more comfortable wearing the title of Father.

Over several months the bag went with him from time to time. And came back each time too.

In time Molly turned her attention to other things...found other treasures… she lost interest in this game. Her father was left holding the bag. Molly gave it to him one morning and never asked for its return. And he still had it. He called it the ‘Good Stuff’ bag and kept it forever.

Spend some time thinking over the possible number of ‘Good Stuff’ bags that you may have turned down. Simple day to day incidents are potential moments to treasure.

I remember an incident from my family. My cousin sister was elated one Friday morning to see her jeans tearing away at the bottom. She badly wanted to have the torn jeans effect that her cousins from Bombay had. That evening when she came back from college she was shocked to see that our grandmother had neatly folded and stitched up the shabby looking trousers. My cousin was mad at her and yelled and howled. Poor grandma didn’t get the point at all. She was only trying to help. Fashion fads had taken priority over a loving grandma’s gesture. Today my cousin repents her impulsive reaction… all’s well between the two of them now. :)

People who truly care about you go that extra mile to give you their affection, love and respect. Good stuff may not always be tangible. It could be something as simple as a smile or maybe someone going all out to help you with something you are working on. At times you may not need that help, but that does not take away the warmth from the help someone offers.

Things today have become so materialistic, that we fail to appreciate their genuinenesss. ‘Whats in it for me?’ is what we ask ourselves before doing or accepting something.

As we grow older, our life revolves around work and money. Our families, parents in particular, slowly seem secondary. Money and work are important, but what is even more important is to strike a perfect work-life balance. We must not forget that we work only to lead a better life… not to stop living at all.

There are so many opportunities where we can collect our ‘Good Stuff’ bags. But we’re just too preoccupied to even spot them. Leave alone the pain we cause when we overlook the feelings behind the bags.

Take a couple of moments more… slow down your pace… contribute to the ‘Good Stuff’ bags of people around you… collect your ‘Good Stuff’ bags… if nothing else it will keep you smiling even when you’re sporting a toothless smile!

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Jan 1, 2009

Wish Wash

It's a New Year again!!

Time again to draft out 'Happy New Year' and 'Seasons Greetings' mails (the lazier lot have the mail forward option :P). For those of us who still believe in paper greetings it's time to go greeting card, envelope and stamp shopping. For those who eat, drink and breathe blogs it's time to adorn our online spaces with festive stuff and the ever popular list of resolutions (mine's coming up soon :P).

'Happy New Year! Have a great 2009 and may you have all that you wish for in the year ahead.'

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? You either just read or heard a wish like that or wished someone the same just a couple of minutes ago.

How much do these wishes really help? Will the coming year actually brighten up with a handful of 'live the moment' wishes? I'm suddenly not convinced.

I don't mean to sound like a pessimist on New Years... but wishing each other on New Years or for that matter any similar occasion seems more like a formal pleasantry to me.

Life brings in its share of ups and downs irrespective of the wishes we accumulate. Of course I buy the philosopher's argument that little things like these add value to life. But I'm still confused about how much we really mean it when we wish each other. Is the well-wisher's job over once he or she simply conveys the wish??

Why wait for an occasion is what I ask!!! Why wait for the calendar to run out of pages before you want to wish all and sundry in your address book? Why not keep in touch and exchange similar pleasantries more oftener?

I believe that a truckload of clock-worked wishes don't really help. It sounds more like a part of the whole orchestra that's playing its chorus. I'd rather have a gentle hum through the year, even if it is from one person or a small bunch of people. It's this hum that will keep me going... especially during my 'life's not fair' moments.

Happy New Year, nevertheless.

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