Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I now pronounce you, Corrupt!

I spent this weekend playing the typical tourist in Agra. Armed with my aviators and my hat, I was all set to yet again explore the city I’ve been to a zillion times before. Even though I know all facts about the Taj Mahal by heart (I could take you around all the different monuments and heritage sites like that perfect guide), Agra never ceases to amaze me. Little did I know that I’ll be left with my mouth open, for all the wrong reasons, this time round…

For all pilgrims of the Taj Mahal, a visit to Agra is virtually incomplete without a little side trip to Fatehpur Sikri. To quote Wikipedia “Here he (Akbar The Great) commenced the construction of a planned walled city which took the next fifteen years in planning and construction of a series of royal palaces, harem, courts, a mosque, private quarters and other utility buildings. He named the city, Fatehabad, with Fateh, a word of Arabic origin in Persian, meaning "victorious." It was later called Fatehpur Sikri. It is at Fatehpur Sikri that the legends of Akbar and his famed courtiers, the nine jewels or Navaratnas, were born. Fatehpur Sikri is one of the best preserved collections of Indian Mughal architecture in India.”

After an eventful journey, which involved losing our way and getting stuck in a village, we finally reached the famed ghost city. It was here that I was shocked out of my Mughal dreams. Standing there, on the road, were a few self-proclaimed enforcers of the law, blocking the road to our destination, which was still a couple of kilometers away. “Yaha government parking hai sir. Gaadi iske aage nahi jaegi” , they said. Even as they were saying this, a few cars with smiling tourists made their way through. “Wo local gaadi hai”, they said. As luck would have it, a non-local Rajasthan registered car coasted through just then. Something was definitely wrong with us then. I wondered what.

A heated argument followed involving the usual, raised voices, expletives, angry gesturing, people gathering, shouting, pacifying and still more shouting. We ended up turning back home, without a backward glance. It was only the driver who had the wonderful idea of hiring a guide to take us through.

As I learnt that day, guides not only show you around, they can apparently take you through barricades as well. Heard of VIP access? It can be bought for around INR 300. More if you can’t negotiate, less if you can. And so, with the money promised, our car was suddenly ushered through the same barricade we were earlier stopped at. Forget the non-police thugs even the police is complicit in this appallingly blatant corrupt practice. There, at the next barrier, stood our protectors in Khakhi. From what the guide said, INR 100 was all they took, and we zoomed through.

I’d heard a lot about corruption. I’d read about all the scandals. All the Who’s who of the News arena made sure I was aware of the corrupt practices followed in government offices. But nothing had prepared me for this. For the first time in all my life, I felt helpless. I felt violated. That day, corruption stared me in the face and brought me down to my knees. I gave in. I haven’t been able to digest that defeat.

Everyone talks about corruption that I will probably never deal with in real life. What are the odds that someone like me will actually step into a government office? Pretty slim, to be honest… But no one talks about the corruption that is infinitely more likely to affect my day to day functioning. You can persecute all the government employees you want, but who punishes the milkman who gives me more water than milk for my money. Who punishes the shopkeeper who always weighs me less than the wheat I’m paying for? Who punishes the telecom operator who charges me for services I’ve never even used?

Are we honestly so block-headed that we fail to prioritize between corruption of different kinds? Or are we so stupid to not know what harms us more? So what if people made away with crores during the Common Wealth Games. It affected the public purse to which I had contributed a bit. I didn’t really feel the pinch. So shouldn’t I be more worried about people who directly rob me of my money? I don’t know about you dear reader, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

That is exactly why this incident affected me the way it did. It struck deep and hurt my pride. For a staunch opponent of all things corrupt, this was a big blow. It crippled me in a manner I can’t describe. I know I’m being all emotional about it. But this was my reaction… rage, utter helplessness, despair and disgust, in that same order.

Knowing full well that corruption flourishes only with the connivance of the politicians and the police, there is no one I can complain to. There is no one I can ask for help. What I can do is, get my opinion out to as many people as I can, so that, there is never again a Maanya Gupta, stuck on that road, banging her head against the car window. As for Fatehpur Sikri, we are now like estranged lovers who shall never meet again…  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A fragrance unforgotten

“Caressed by the whiff of a fragrance unforgotten
My soul plunges deep, to pull up memories long forgotten
Darkness so black, the world without white
Guided by a fragrance, not by my sight
Trusting the unseen, the untouched
I remember distinctly, my memory un-fudged
The way the fragrance overpowered me
It consumed me, like flames devour a tree
I was burnt into nothingness, just ash
Left of my being, in this world’s cache
Reborn pure as the first snow
I saw this world and that, no eye could ever show
Caressed by the whiff of a fragrance unforgotten
My soul plunges deep, to pull up memories long forgotten…”

Fragrance… it is the eternal thread that runs through all our experiences, weaving them together into a most beautiful scarf of silken memories. It takes you by surprise. A simple step into my Dadi’s prayer room was enough for the fragrances to weave their magic and transport me back to Tirupati, in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh.

People often have marvelous accounts of their pilgrimage to Lord Venkateswara’s famed temple situated at Tirupati. Yet all I remember is the dark, and the fragrance. The day I visited the temple, the statue wasn’t loaded with gold ornaments, as is customary, but was adorned by beautiful flowers. In the little chamber where we stood, the only source of light was the soft glow of the diyas burning at Lord’s feet.

I distinctly remember the lingering scent of sandalwood, incense sticks and kapur intermingling with the fresh sweet scents of flowers… the smell of rose water intertwined with that of burning diyas… the devotion of the pious lending its characteristic smell to even the non-believers, bathing them in its mist, cleansing them of their sins, purifying their souls…

That day at Tirupati, I underwent a transformation. Intoxicated on that heavy scent, I was purged of all my sins. It felt as if I passed through God’s discerning eye and came through, shining better than ever.

Such is the strength of this aroma that it makes you drop your baggage of fear and anxieties. It assures and reassures you that nothing can go wrong, that nothing bad can happen. For me, it symbolizes all that is pure and strong. The very scent of kapur gives me the strength and courage to fight for what I believe is right.

However, the life I lead now does not afford me the luxury of indulging my senses in this most beloved of all fragrances. With work taking center-stage, my prayers are often nothing more than silent movements of my lips. Gone are the days when the fragrance of God used to be my home’s fragrance too.

I wish we could get the old days back… where God’s scent was abundant… when He resided in our homes...   

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Normal Life

For exactly the past seven days, I’ve been holed up in my house. I haven’t met people, except those who inhabit/visit my home; I have felt neither the sun nor the rain on my skin; I haven’t been out in the fresh air; I haven’t lived. I’ve spent my days in a zombie-like state: Eating, Sleeping and Eating …in any order you prefer.

No, I have not gone insane… nor am I depressed. I’m experimenting. I’m trying to feel for myself what life would be like if the luxuries of Nature and society were one day suddenly denied to me. How would it feel if one day I woke up to find not a single soul willing to talk to me, much less touch me? How would I react if I were confined to a small room so dark that not even a sliver of light can breach the darkness? As they say, I would be alive, but not Alive...

Scary as it may seem, this horrid exclusion is exactly what thousands of children in India face when they’re diagnosed with HIV.

During my two-month stay at Hyderabad, we visited Desire Society, a care home for children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. The institute is home to about sixty-five children affected by HIV. During our interaction I came across two especially lovely girls, Lakshmi and Sirisha. There was an instant connection with these best friends. Was it the way they coyly approached me, the way the perfectly copied my steps as we danced to Bollywood hits or their sheer excitement when I met their pet rabbit… I will never know.

Then and Now
Top: Lakshmi
Bottom: Sirisha

Outcast by the society, orphaned at a tender age, here were two little ladies whose passion for life far exceeded mine. As they skipped around to show me their moves, their smiles hid the trauma they’ve undergone. While one was admitted with symptoms of tuberculosis when she was all of four years, the other was turned away by her family and friends alike. In this world far away from our own, they pretended to be little princesses for whom life has been one nice fairy tale. The reality…far from pleasant

In a country like India, where awareness about HIV is at sub-zero levels, any child infected with the virus at birth is treated as a curse to society. Food, family, shelter…they have nothing. Battling ill-health, these kids wage a war for survival every single day. It is a battle against an empty stomach, against an evil society that refuses to take them in its fold, against a system which systematically discriminates against them.

What we need to understand is that shutting them out is not the solution. In India, roughly 80% of HIV infections in children are vertical, i.e. mother to child transmissions. The remaining 20% get infected owing to blood transfusions and sexual activity. Symptoms might appear as early as before a baby completes a full year of his life, to a few years later in the childhood. Since this deadly virus lowers the defense mechanisms of the body, these children are prone to opportunistic infections as well as neurological manifestations.

They show an increased tendency to suffer the usual childhood infections, such as a common cold, with a magnified intensity. If left untreated, something as curable as diarrhea may be the cause of death. Unlike their counterparts at institutions like Desire Society, most children don’t have access to even such basic healthcare. Much more debilitating diseases follow.

I find myself unable put in words the hardships they face. But I'm sure if you have the means to read this, you must know this already. The question is, what have we done to help?

As grim as it sounds, Lakshmi and Sirisha also showed me the sunny side of their life. They might have lost their parents, but they have each other. They might have lost touch with the world, but they built their own. A world in which, surprisingly, people like me and you are always welcome.

I know not if I will see them again. I know not if they’ll lead a healthy life. I know not if they’ll ever be accepted by society. But I do know their life is on track to becoming what it should be: Normal.

P.S. I'll upload some pictures of their artwork soon :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Full Circle

Ten days since the last time I wrote…
Ten days since that eventful day at Microsoft (MS)…
Ten days…

Honestly, I can be very stubborn at times. I want things to go my way. Yet sometimes, when they do, it leaves me wide-eyed. And that is exactly how I was when they broke the news, “…and you have driven results in a manner that Microsoft expects. We’ll be happy to have you here with us. Congratulations!”

I can never forget these words simply for the change they’ve brought about in my life. A change so significant, I haven’t still realized its full potential.

It is common knowledge that Engineering students in their final year have to go through a rigorous placement process. The process demands strength on all fronts, academic, behavioral and emotional. You have to come out strong, be better than all others, in order to get that job. Being placed right at the start of this crucial year has indeed saved me from this dreadful exercise.

However, the changes I feel creeping into my life are far more significant. For once, I am not continually worried about my future. I have a certain reassurance that things can’t go terribly wrong now. It gives a spring to my step, a sparkle to my eyes. I feel in control of my life after a very long time.

All of a sudden, we are the celebrities in college. Everybody wants to talk to us, meet with us. When your hard work gets appreciated, it definitely feels good. When appreciation comes from strangers, you’re on cloud nine. However, I still have my two feet firmly on the ground. I’m waiting to hear from my friends who are destined for places greater than MS. When news of their success comes… that is when I will be on that metaphoric cloud.

Talking about those who didn’t make it… for the past three years, I’ve been in that category. All through my school life I’ve been at top of my class. It was a real shocker for everyone around me when I didn’t get an A+ result in my engineering entrances. After a few weeks, it was my turn to be shocked. People who swore to be my best buddies deserted me. People who got into better colleges stopped calling up. Even parents of kids pursuing worthless courses in fames institutions turned up their nose. People changed. It hurt. A lot…

Yet it taught me an important life lesson; I learnt to see the genuineness (or the lack thereof) in people. I learnt to differentiate between friends, workplace associations, acquaintances and those who will jump ship at the slightest trouble. I learnt that people’s worth can’t be measured by the grades they score or by the college they attend. After all, one might have a bright mind but a rotten heart.

In these three years, my transformation has been total and complete. Good that I didn’t get into an elite college, good that I was named the non-performer, good, good and good… After all, it has helped me improve. And even though life has come a full circle and I’m in the most-coveted achiever’s club once again, I know it is just temporary. I know my people. I know I am not one of those who judge.

I would like to end with this thought, “Never doubt a person’s capability. You never know when it’s their time to shine.”

Friday, August 8, 2014


As I start decorating this beautiful white piece of paper with these beautiful black marks, I have no outline, no points to refer to, no notes I’ve taken… just a little mountain of memories I’ve accumulated in the past eight weeks during my stay in Hyderabad. Please pardon the apparent lack of structure.

Tonight is perhaps THE most important night in the lives of nineteen young college-goers. It is so critical that most of them have given up hope of stealing a few winks. While some have chosen to sing and dance through the hours, others have withdrawn into silent contemplation. People are alternating between strained smiles and bouts of tears. Why is the night so harsh tonight? Because tomorrow we’ll get THE news: whether we’ve proven ourselves worthy of a Pre-Placement Offer from Microsoft.

Never before have had I felt our emotions to be so tangible. Never before have had I felt their presence with such force. I did not ever imagine, even in my wildest dreams that tonight is going to be so charged with nervousness, excitement and stark, naked fear. Every face you turn to has a strange shadow cast upon it… a shadow of doubt, of uncertainty, of anxiety.

In these few last moments before the final decision is announced, I wish to write about my journey and share my experience with everyone who has cared to read this far.

Ever since our selection for the internship, we had been accorded the status of demi-Gods in our college. Microsoft (MS) is a really big deal for students from IGDTUW. It is one of the best companies that offer campus placements to us. Each year, its arrival is awaited with bated breath. You get the picture…

I came here with certain ideas, certain assumptions and certain expectations. All of these were soon turned on their head and here I was, bang in the middle of GD Sparks (as the interns are called). Within no time, even before we realized it, our project was in deep red. We were facing severe team issues. We had a difficult customer. We could find no one to guide us with the technologies we were using. In short, we were dead meat.

However, I learnt the importance of optimism. This single trait of my otherwise not-so-interesting personality helped me handle all situations. Being stubbornly hopeful about the future helps you in times when all else fails. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy, you believe in it and it becomes true. At times when no one else could see even a single ray of hope for our project, I saw the bright and brilliant Sun.

I learnt the importance of disconnecting from work and maintaining the quintessential work-life balance. With the kind of schedule the interns had, it was easier said than done. It took every ounce of self-discipline that my darling mother had drilled into me in the past two decades. Mastering your mind is key for maintaining your focus.

I learnt the art of accepting feedback and then working towards my development areas (not weaknesses, as Sreekanth Sir would always point out). If any of my juniors happen to be reading this, please underline this point. It isn’t always easy to accept feedback without clouding it with your own perception. But honestly, it is one of the best acts someone can do for you. If someone gives you feedback, it means they care enough about you to think for you. I was fortunate to have Sunil Sir as my mentor. If you read this sir, thank you!

Not only is getting the feedback important, working towards improving upon the identified areas is equally important. I did that with every fiber of my being. It was like I had a single point agenda: Improve. And improve, I did.

The corporate sector demands you to continuously learn and apply. That is how you work. You get placed in a project about which you have zero knowledge. You do not have the time for a ramp-up. So you simply learn and apply. Learn some more and do some more. You don’t need to be Einstein.  You just need to learn.

I learnt the benefits of good company. Good friends are there to pull you out of your chair when you refuse to have lunch. They are there to help you out when you get stuck. They are there to give you sane advice. They are there to have insane fun.

Looking back, I think all of us have grown as individuals. These sixty days can never be forgotten. They’re indelible marks on our character. It does not matter if I get the much-coveted PPO or not. What I’ve gained here goes much beyond that. It can’t be caged in words, nor shaped into expressions…

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Breathing Delhi- I

Tragedy brought me to Delhi. Eyes swollen with unshed tears, long dark hours filled with misery at the loss of a loved one and the refusal to believe that he was no more… these were my companions even as our car rolled into the maze and confusion of Delhi. Terrified at the prospect of a new school with new kids, a new society filled with new families, a new city with a new soul, I found solace only in my family’s warm presence. 

I have never been the type to share my sorrows, never been the one to cry openly; so I took it all, bundled it into a box of try-to-forget memories and shoved it in the deepest corner of the never-to-be-opened trunk. Shuddering at the word ‘new’, I took baby steps into my new world.

Little did I know then that these baby steps will transform into confident strides in no time. And this is what I love about Delhi; from someone who was crazy scared of even talking to boys, I’ve been transformed into an independent and fearless individual. From a compulsive detester of anything ‘new’, I’ve grown up to embrace both the new and the different.

First day at school, I had my first brush with the Delhi style of being. Meeting my classmates, I felt a sense of belonging. The smiles came easily, the laughter soon followed. Even the kids of this amazing city know all the tricks of winning over people. The city has an un-describable charm… it makes you feel like you’re home. With its friendly but often misinterpreted people, Delhi welcomed me with open arms, offering me unconditional love.

Ironically, I’m miles away from my city as my fingers fly over the keyboard. Maybe this is why I’m missing her all the more. During lunch-time discussions about Dilli with my new-found Hyderabadi friends, the differences emerge stark and clear. While Delhi has a dude-like chalta hai attitude, I find people elsewhere perpetually worried about one thing or the other. Over the years, Delhi has taught me to take each day as it comes, relishing the candy grains of time. As my school sweatshirt puts it; we have a ‘pause-itive’ attitude.

Each moment, my city pulsates with the energy of a million cricket crazy fans glued in to an India-Pakistan match. As contagious as it is, this energy makes Delhi the city that never sleeps, the city that never sighs, the city that parties each night yet wakes up for office on time. It is this perpetual flow of adrenaline that makes me who I am… When I breathe, I breathe Delhi...

To be continued… :) 

Monday, May 26, 2014

My City, My Home

Delhi, the city which dreams with open eyes, the city which welcomes the lone traveler with a warm embrace… the city which has romanced history yet adapted to have a modern affair… the city where I breathed my first and hope to breathe my last as well. Shrouded in its veil of mystery, Delhi never fails to surprise.

They might call it the crime capital of India or the pollution capital of the big-round-world, nothing, mark you can diminish my love for the city I call home. My love story with Delhi technically began on March 2, 1993 (yes, I just gave out my age) but the real sparks flew when my father was transferred here some eleven years back.

Each day has become a gold leafed entry in my book of life, each memory, a treasured possession.

It is the beauty of how this city weaves together the mundane and the ordinary to make the most astonishing trinkets. From the Old Fort to the Shopping Malls, each monument to the ever-evolving culture contributes its own little share to the magical history of Delhi. From the Mughal Emperors to the common man laboring under the sun, all of them have left indelible marks on our lands… blessing us with a culture vibrant like none other.

For the past decade I’ve lived and loved my city. I’ve enjoyed its rains and cursed its heat. I’ve seen it changing over time. In this series, I’ll try to capture in words, my unique bond with my city. I’ll try to tell the tale of how we grew up and fell in love… Keep watching this space.

Much thanks to @WeAreNewDelhi for making me realize just how special our city is!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Son Would Never Rape a Woman

My son would never rape a woman. It is brutal, disgusting and immoral. He simply isn’t capable of such a thing. She has obviously enticed him.
She was at the club when it happened. Short black dress, tall black drink. She stood in the middle of the dance floor, moved her hips slowly. She made eye contact with him. She even smiled. He walked up to her and asked her to meet him at his car. When she declined, he grabbed her arm.
And what a scene she created! She fought, screamed and kicked. You want this, he told her as he pulled her out of the club. NO, she screamed, yelling as he dragged her to his car. You don’t know what you want, you’re drunk.
She sat alone in the parking lot a few hours later. Disgusting girl, she reeked of smoke and alcohol. What a drama queen. That girl, no morals, no values, has the audacity to say she was raped. Should’ve thought twice before getting that third drink.
My son would never rape a sober girl. ___________________________________________________________
She boarded the bus after school. The school bag on her shoulders, accentuating her breasts. It was raining and she didn’t have an umbrella. Her kurti clinging to her body in the most indecent way. You could practically see it. The shape of her breasts, her hips, her thighs. She stood there, absentmindedly adjusting the straps of her bag. The bus moved jerkily down the narrow road. Her chest heaving, up and down, up and down.
Of course she was going to be touched. This girl has no sense of modesty. He went up behind her and grabbed her chest as she got off the bus. Chutiya, she yelled, looking around for help. No one cared. What did she expect. An army to come to her rescue?
My son would never rape a girl who was wearing a dupatta.  ___________________________________________________________
They would whistle as she walked past them. She’d ignore it, walking fast until she made her way down the street. How could you blame them! She was beautiful. Such girls especially should learn to dress modestly.
But she. She’d wear jeans, bright red lipstick, draw her eyes and wear high heels. She thinks she’s Rakhi Sawant. She is doing it for attention, and then she complains when she gets it. She wanted them to look at her. She probably enjoyed it.
She had it coming. One day, they followed her. They cornered her and tore her clothes off in broad daylight. She screamed and cried. They didn’t care. They broke her heels, smudged her kajal, smeared her lipstick. They dragged her unconscious body down the dark street and slashed her face. They laughed. No one would whistle at her again.
My son would never rape a girl who dressed appropriately.
She went for a movie with a boy at 10pm. She probably comes from one of those modern families. Going out alone with that boy like a common whore. She must have had sex with him also. These girl are like that. So loose. They don’t care about virtues, values and tradition.
They stopped them outside the theatre and beat the boy up. They pushed the girl to the ground and held her there as each took his turn with her. Some of them, twice. They walked away when they were done, leaving her out on the street for hours until she found the strength to go home.
What difference does it make. God knows how many men she has slept with anyway.
My son would never rape a homely girl.
He wobbled in at 11 pm. She did the dishes quietly, her heart racing as she heard his footsteps get closer. Tears stung her eyes as he put his hands on her waist. She could smell the whiskey on his breath. He tugged at her pallu, letting it fall to the ground. Not today, she begged. Her back ached and her head felt like it was going to explode.
He grabbed her hair and pulled her to their bedroom. She scrambled to find her pallu as they walked past the hall. Their son stared in horror. He shut the door behind him and slapped her. He told her to stay quiet and take her clothes off. She did as she was told.
What do you mean my son raped his wife. There is no such thing.
My son would never rape a woman. 
It really is a shame how scores of mothers will relate with these words. Much as I might try, I cannot change their ideology entrenched in an age-old thought process. What we can do is not let another generation of mothers think like this.
I found this article at  The least I could do was share. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is it "The Now" Yet?

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”
-Steve Jobs

All through our lives, we plan for the future. Young professionals plan their career… young people in love plan their lives together, young parents plan their kid’s education… the list is endless. But amid all this, have you ever given thought to what you’ll do if there was no tomorrow? What if the only time you had was now? The only people you had left were those with you now?

Creepy, but a proposition of immense importance… pessimistic, but immeasurably motivating…

Right from the moment all our natural faculties of hearing, listening, seeing, feeling, interpreting and comprehending start functioning properly, we’re imbued with the constant need to secure our future, which somehow makes us lose out on the present. Let me explain…

With the boom in digital cameras, we see one around every neck, in every hand, with the self-appointed photographer clicking away to glory. I know all of you have done it too. Do you really remember those events as well as you remember those where you weren’t clicking? Or do you have to refer to those faithful pictures to remind you of your brother’s foolish grin and the random aunty’s funny expression?

Did your focus on preserving memories not spoil the present for you? I, for one, think it does.
What do we do then? Preserve no memories?” you would say. And I would simply reply “Make each day so memorable that you don’t need memories to aid your memory. Live in the present. Do what you love. Do what makes you happy. Be happy.”

For each sun that sets, a day of your precious life has been ticked off. A day less to do more…

Why then should we waste our days thinking out a future we might never have? Why plan for possibilities that might never arise? Why cry over things and people who aren’t as important as you think?

Take up challenges and conquer them. It’ll fetch you a good night’s sleep.

Cross the line. You’ll outperform all else.

Be who you are. You’ll become what you want.

Embarrassment and Fear of Failure are perhaps the two least important emotions you need to harbor. Just follow your heart. It’ll take you to new heights.

Don't keep waiting for the perfect moment. It is NOW.

Live your life as if it is your last day…

P.S. I found Steve Jobs’ quote in this video. This post is my interpretation of the same J

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Meeting Mrs. Deepika Bhattacharya

You want it to go left, it’ll go right. You want it to slow down, it’ll go blazingly fast. You want it to be easy it’ll be tougher than fighting a bunch of gun-wielding goons blind-folded. Such is life. A life which isn’t always fair….

Yet fighting against all odds and taking the sudden surprise turns in our stride has always kept us going. We might not know exactly where we are headed, but we’re definitely progressing…each day, each moment.

Embodying this philosophy is Mrs. Deepika Bhattacharya, Vice President, Accenture whom I met at a college event. When she took the stage, she had her audience entranced. But I dare say that even she didn’t know destiny’s plans for her.

Though she’d dreamt medicine-dreams while in class 8, she ended up pursuing commerce, thus, becoming the first female in her family to venture into this line of study. She then planned to do Economics and landed up with Bachelors of Commerce and later wanted to become a Chartered Accountant and ended up doing Masters in Business Economics. Her life almost never obeyed the choices she made.

Undaunted by the lows that life sent her way, she persevered. Working with some of the top-notch firms like Dabur, NIIT, American Express, GE and now Accenture. She went from a ‘Can she fit in here?’ girl to the ‘I really admire her!’ lady. Her twenty-three year journey in the corporate sector is testimony to the fact that through sheer hard-work, grit and determination seemingly ordinary people can transform themselves into big achievers.

She left us with such valuable lessons as can only come with experience. One particular idea that had a deep impact on me was this: Work towards your strengths.

Is it not very logical? Do what you are good at, do it better than anyone else ever can. Yet we always work in the exact opposite direction, slaving with skills which aren’t really our cup of tea. True, it helps us diversify but wouldn’t we be much better off if we knew one trade like the back of our hands…instead of being jack of all trades and master of none?

While dealing with questions regarding problems working women face, she emphasized on the fact that you always have to stand by the decisions you take. I couldn’t agree more. If I myself do not support the decisions I take, how can I expect anyone else to do it? How can I achieve my full potential if I have a trunk full of regrets weighing me down?

Her closing thought was “Don’t be too hard on your own self.” I think that directly translates to my philosophy of loving one self. True, you are your best critic. But when this self-criticism starts to put you down, when it starts to have a negative impact on your personality, it is best to stop. Love your flaws. Were you perfect, life would’ve been considerably more difficult.

Her words gave me food for thought and I sure am munching away to eternity.

P.S. I later discovered we’re from the same school. Awesome! Right?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Growth over Rote

When you google the word “Education” you get two definitions:

#1 the process of giving or receiving systematic instruction, esp. at a school or university

#2 an enlightening experience

Which of these are you most likely to agree with?

In the Indian context, our entire education system is focused around grades and marks, nothing more, nothing less. You score well, you’re the raja beta (or beti); if you don’t, God help you!

Fretting over the general lack of innovation and adaptability in present day classroom teaching, I started looking around. And this is when I came across The Testament.

Initially, just a newsletter, this start-up has evolved, grown and diversified into a plethora of undertakings. In their own words, they aim to enhance the vision and creative thinking of students through ingenious mechanisms to change the education scenario in our country. Definitely commendable!

But a lot of student organizations come and go, never really making an impact. Is this the case here as well? Is the bubble about to burst? I hope not because the efforts being put in by this twenty-member organization cannot go unnoticed.

Take, for instance, their High Potential Development Cell or Hi-Po, as they call it. These sessions provide an essentially enriching and rewarding experience to all those involved. The format couldn’t have been simpler: One speaker talks about great marketing, business phenomenon and strategies, people profiles and the like. This is followed by a rather intense question-answer session.

Wouldn’t you like to attend such events where you learn actual tricks of the trade, where you can gain in-depth knowledge in areas that really matter?
I, for one, hope that they succeed in their endeavor… for my benefit lies in their success…

P.S. If you wish to know more about them, visit

P.P.S. I think this is my first ever serious post about this particular facet of our everyday life! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Growing Wise, Not Old

 “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
                                                                                -Satchel Paige

I came across this rather eccentric but deep quote on one of my infinite wanderings on the web. It set me thinking. With my own birthday just around the corner, I couldn’t help but ponder over it. My best guess: Twenty-one in the brain, but maybe only twelve at heart…

With each year, we’re technically supposed to grow older. But is older wiser? What exactly is ‘older’? Is it old as in grey hair? Or is it just another revolution around the earth? My questions are endless. So here is a brief summary of what I learnt in the past year. It might not be much but if it has stuck in my mind, it is important. And, it might brand me 'wiser'.

If you can do anything about something, do it. Else, do not fret over it.
Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you’re all alone.
Focus on now, by far the single most important moment.
Laugh openly, it helps break barriers.
Listen. Listen some more.
Stay Young at heart.

I told you, it isn’t much! But the fifty-one weeks since by last birthday have taught me this… not at all bad for a zero-effort venture.

I’m sure you’ve read these words a million times over… you could probably recite them in your sleep. But I’ve realized they are omnipresent only because they really are true, every single word of them.

It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. It is just a matter of perspective. Years ago I saw a 79 year-young uncle, dressed in purple from head-to-toe. People like him defy the concept of getting old. They truly embody the ‘age-is-just-a-number’ philosophy. With each passing year they grow wise, not old.

And that is something all of us should strive for: Growing Wise.

P.S. Don’t ask me how ‘old’ I’m turning…ask me how ‘young’… You’ll get a chocolate J