Let’s talk 

Here in India, just three days back all of us were immersed in hues of pink, blue and green. We celebrated Holi with a lot of passion and high spirits. 

Since I was a kid, I have always wondered what is it with these festivals that carry the power to break the monotony of the day and bring to life dull and ignorant people, re-energise the youth and galvanize human existence. 

Imagine a world where everyday is treated like a festival, a world where evey child blushes out of excitement for what the day has in store for her/him, a world where one learns from the errors made and approaches each new day like a fresh and blank brand new page. 

Wouldn’t things be so much better off in a world like this? Only if all of this was real, sigh. 

Today, I’d like to talk about an incident which has left me to think fervently about issues deeply engrained in the society we live in and how they affect the mental health of the people so close to us. 

Shanaya (name changed) is my cousin and is exactly my age. I’m closer to Shanaya than her own siblings. Shanaya has two sisters and one brother (all younger to her). We played together since we were in nursery, studied together till we changed schools in Grade 5 and till date we watch movies together. 

When we were both very young, I remember Shanaya was the quiet – meek little girl, shy of performing in public but extremely creative and artistic. She liked to be in her own world but what the world said to her, did matter to her. I think this holds true for a lot of people out there. 

Shanaya’s parents run a huge business and are based out of the busy streets of the walled city of Jaipur. 

Her parents always wanted a baby boy. They wanted an heir to their age old family business. A son to take care of the mammoth network of business executives whom they were in touch with, a son to foster the business and grow it manifold, a son to take the operations of their national entity to a multinational level, a son to ultimately take charge of the wealth that they would leave behind. 

Whatever I’m talking about is insanely routine in India. Not only rural India, but also urban India. Modern India I’d rather say. 

Shanaya has grown to have a lot of interpersonal issues. She is unable to communicate her thoughts freely to her parents because she doesn’t trust them to understand and empathize with her. Since she was a child, she has felt unwanted. Unfortunately, unwanted is the word that she quickly associates with. Her family had always desired a son and they did get a son. But in the process, knowingly or unknowingly they neglected the aspirations and rights of the three daughters they had, before they had their son. 

At times I fail to believe that I’m living in the 21st century. Its difficult to absorb the truth, but incidents like these remind me of the bitter and hard-to-digest reality. 

Shanaya also has had body image issues. Her siblings were younger than her and so were unable to fathom what she meant to say. I was away because I’d shifted to another school away from Shanaya’s locality. The fact that she didn’t find the right trustworthy friend in her parents further aggravated Shanaya’s search for someone to house her secrets and issues in life. 

Shanaya started becoming conscious of how she looked more than ever before. Although I know that 46% of 9-11 year olds in today’s world are sometimes or ‘very often’ on diet, but back in 2009 it was difficult for me to accept the fact that my cousin (exactly my age) was so focused about what she ate, what she wore and how she looked. 

The school that Shanaya went to was extremely elitist. Almost all kids were from extremely well off families, just like hers. Unable to enjoy herself at home, Shanaya yearned to get more and more time out with her friends. Tutions (coaching classes) were her calling from Grade 7 onwards. When Shanaya was in Grade 9, I remember her going for tutions from 8 am in the morning and returning back home at 8 pm in the evening, even on days right before her final semester examinations. I always wondered how did she ever get the time to self study, as in my times I had never even stepped out of my room the night before the final exam. 

One day when Shanaya and I went out for a movie (this was the time when we were stepping in Grade 11 and choosing subjects to major in), I asked Shanaya which stream would she be opting. Without an iota of doubt, she uttered Business & Commerce – even though I knew how deeply inclined she was towards Arts & Humanities. When further interrogated about the reason to do so unflinchingly, Shanaya replied that she’d seen her father fix business deals and that she fantasises over the thought of being able to do so one day. That day I’d seen the glitter in her eyes. 

Today, Shanaya has grown to be extremely capable of handling everything related to her father’s business. She has received an offer for pursuing a Masters degree in Management from the extremely reputed London Business School, a diploma in fashion jewelry designing (her father is into traditional jewellery business) and the unique business instinct that her domain requires. However today she isn’t even slightly involved in the family business and has never been allowed to develop an interest in the field. On the contrary, her younger brother has started to sit at the shop in his leisure time, even though he is just 12 years old. 

Three days back on the day of Holi, on dinner table I asked my mom if Holi meant anything more than immersing our near and dear ones in bright and happy colours. My mom instantly replied that yes, Holi meant so much more. She talked about how this festival is a reminder to always keep the flame of truth and higher consciousness burning bright within our hearts and minds. No matter how hard the evil may try, truth possesses an innate quality to come out shining, as does gold from the test of fire. 

When I think about girls like Shanaya who are denied involvement in ancestral business, even though they’re so deserving, interested and well equipped to carry forward the profession, I feel bad. Really bad and sad, to an extent. Why so much injustice for no concrete or well thought out reason? Why deny her the right of enjoying an untroubled childhood? Why forbear her from excelling in the field she likes? 

Why not let her shine and strive for what is her forte? Why not let her cherish fond memories of a lovely childhood? Why leaver her to find solace in fake – good for nothing friends? Why make her grapple with mental health issues when she doesn’t deserve to undergo any of them?

Why?

When today I speak to Shanaya, I only remind her of how wonderful she is. I try to keep motivating her to go ahead with her further studies in business and choose to do what she really likes to do. One day I’d even suggested to her to start something of her own. She loved the idea and has been thinking about it for a while. However, she never had the guts to go speak up to her parents about the same. She fears they might just dismiss it, as they’ve previously done for almost everything she asked for.  

This fear will just keep hanging with her for life until her parents talk to her. Talk to her with an unbiased mind and an open heart. They have to talk and listen. I think all of us need to talk and listen. 

Pace of Life

I hear the endless chatter of the sea, and the murmuring of the birds on the tree,

I gaze at the moon shining so bright, and the stars twinkling in the limelight,

I ponder about what the street lights want to say, and what the racing cars want to display

When I look back today at all that has passed, there is some respite and some regret, not forgetting a lot of things still left to fret

What this day has in hold for me, I am unaware

I look forward to uncalled for joy

Somethings that arrive and pass and somethings that promise to never go

I appreciate the pace of life and the spontaneity of all that’s happening around, but there’s a little fear in mind

Fear of what?

That I’m unaware of. 

I’ll keep appreciating life for all that it has in store for me. I’m waiting to throw open the Pandora’s Box that is reserved by the almighty, only for me

In all that I’ve done so far, never have I ever let go of people who’re important to me

Never will I ever desire to get lost in this pace of life, 

Never will I ever plagiarize to reach glorious heights,

‘Always stay grounded and right’, this is what I’ve been taught by the pace of life

Reactive World

​We live in a reactive world. 

Woah. At the face of it, the word reactive sounds so intense but if you think about it for a while, much of what our governments, businesses, or we as individuals do is shaped and determined by others. 

Governments react to the perceived intentions of other governments, or to what the opinion polls are telling them, or what the newspapers said this morning. Businesses react to what their market researchers say the customers want, or to what their competitors are doing, or to the latest business craze – because businesses are as susceptible as teenagers to the tyrannies of fashion. 

We as an individual spend much of our time reacting to those around us: to the behaviours of our bosses, families and friends etc. Most of the time we live reactive lives without realizing it and feel a spark of envy when we read about someone who has defied convention to sail alone around the world, start a yak farm, follow their dream and succeed against all odds. 

Between the stimulus and our response to such happenings there is always a moment of choice. It may be only for a heartbeat, but is a moment nonetheless. This is the moment in which we choose to be victims or villains

The work of growing and maturing as an individual never really ends. Learning to have confidence in your own judgement, discovering sources of strength within and outside of yourself, incorporating differences in opinions, taking care of meeting stakeholder needs and the list just goes on.  

Robert Fulghum once said:

Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school. These are the things that I learned: share everything; play fair; don’t hit people; put things back where you found them; clean up your own mess; don’t take things that aren’t yours; say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody; wash your hands before you eat…

So what’s the way out and how do we perceive the world in its best form?
Broadening Perceptions

It is very easy to view the world through a mental periscope and steel blinkers from deep within your own little bunker. Do that for long enough, you will begin to notice just how limited those views are; how constrained your perceptions of the world have become. Soon you will only understand the world which you see from this limited viewpoint, and it will become very frightening because you will not be able to make sense of what you see. With fear will come hostility to everything which is unfamiliar – and fear and hostility fuel the villain/ victim cycle. 

Open your eyes and absorb as many and as intense impressions of the world as you can. Enjoy it in all its vigour and complexity. 

Don’t take yourself too seriously. 

Be ready to laugh with others and at yourself. Laugh at yourself and care about the things which really matter – that’s the motorway out of self inflicted victimhood. 

As the actress Ethel Barrymore put it:

You grow up the day you have the first real laugh – at yourself

 

Trust issues

Every+time+I+trust+someone+new,+they+end+up+reminding+me+why+I+shouldn't+trust+anyone+at+all. Picture Quotes.

This phenomenon highlighted in the picture above has been happening time and again to me and it happened again today. People who are the closest to me, or whom at least I consider as being the closest, end up breaking my trust. There have been some of our clients who promise us so much but the conclusion of the contract is so perverse, it breaks my heart. So do some of my closest friends, when they unintentionally commit deeds which make me furious and really annoyed.

All this is part of our life. The earlier you process this in your heart and mind the better off you will be in traversing the rest of your lives. 

I am so sure this is something , at some point in time, you must have experienced as well. It is common, it really is.

Now how do we generally deal with this?

I will speak about coping strategies I use.

1. I let it out to the person who (I think) broke my trust
Now why is it so important to let the other person know how you are feeling? Shouldn’t you ideally not talk to her/him because she/he just made you so sad?
The answer is a Big NO. You should always let your feelings out in the open and talk it out. The reason is straight and simple – it makes the other person realise that he/she unknowingly / knowingly shattered your faith in her/him and this activity provides the other person a chance to rectify their mistake, if they want to do so.

If you will never open up then it might become a herculean task for the other person to understand and decipher what is wrong in your behaviour towards her/him. It might just leave them puzzled about the entire scenario, if even for 5% they committed the mistake unknowingly. Therefore, please speak your mind when it comes to issues like these.

“People who have been consistently hurt by others in life will only see the one time you hurt them and be blinded to all the good your heart has to offer. They look no further than what they want to see. Unfortunately, most of them remain a victim throughout their life.”
Shannon L. Alder

2. I sit alone for sometime and ponder about the issue
This just comes naturally to me. It becomes so important to introspect what went wrong in my dealing with the situation. For most times, I make it a point to never repeat the same mistake in future. Of course, times change and so do situations and people. You can never predict what is happening next and it’s okay to fall in the trap of trust issues at times. Believe me the entire experience just makes you a better and stronger person.

“Humility is the only thing that can restore a relationship, when respect has been lost.”
Shannon L. Alder

3. Moving towards the solution
You know you can’t let go of every person in your life just because you had adverse experiences with one/few of them. Each of us, you and me, meet wonderful people in our journey and at times (better times) I feel I’m so privileged to have an amazing support system to back me always. There are also those other dreaded times  when I feel that no one is there for me and I’m staring in blank space. But what’s the end story then? You need to move on and so do I.

That coming back phase is something I cherish so much. It actually makes me the person I am today. If you can’t forgive others for their mistakes, you can never move on in life. It is said that you need to fall in order to rise. Can’t believe more in this phrase, it’s just so true!

I have never fallen in love with anyone till date, maybe because trusting some other person more than I trust myself becomes a very difficult and seemingly impossible task. But does that mean that I let go of that one wonderful person (wherever he is) and all the amazing moments to come because of people who let me down on so many occasions and dismantle my belief system? The answer is certainly a strict NO, atleast in my case.

I will tell you one more reason why I’m talking about such a sensitive issue today, given that I am perceived to be a bubbly happy-go-lucky girl in all other times you must have read my writing. We had a brainstorming session at Public Health Foundation of India yesterday. I was one among the 10 young advisors who are helping WHO and PHFI build a multimedia platform that serves to connect people facing mental health issues and help them overcome the stress. The session was an eye-opener for PHFI personnel, my fellow advisors and me. I was spellbound by the level of diversity and difference in opinions that beemed in the conference room with just 14 odd people!

I have come to learn that our minds function differently and to an extent, our hearts also function very differently. Breaking of trust and faith might be your Achilles’s heal and that’s okay. You might not be able to build the same relations and trust fully again once you fight it off and that’s okay. What is not okay is the fact that we link our adverse experiences and attach such false stigmas to every other person we meet. This is wrong and must not happen.

I’d like to conclude by sharing a short poem by Shannon Alder.

You chose.
You chose.
You chose.

You chose to give away your love.
You chose to have a broken heart. 
You chose to give up. 
You chose to hang on.

You chose to react.
You chose to feel insecure.
You chose to feel anger.
You chose to fight back.
You chose to have hope.

You chose to be naïve. 
You chose to ignore your intuition.
You chose to ignore advice.
You chose to look the other way. 
You chose to not listen. 
You chose to be stuck in the past. 

You chose your perspective. 
You chose to blame. 
You chose to be right.
You chose your pride. 
You chose your games.
You chose your ego.
You chose your paranoia. 
You chose to compete.
You chose your enemies.
You chose your consequences.

You chose.
You chose.
You chose.
You chose.

However, you are not alone. Generations of women in your family have chosen. Women around the world have chosen. We all have chosen at one time in our lives. We stand behind you now screaming: 

Choose to let go.
Choose dignity. 
Choose to forgive yourself.
Choose to forgive others.
Choose to see your value.
Choose to show the world you’re not a victim.
Choose to make us proud.

Indian mythology and my learning

​I recently finished reading a book titled An Indian Approach to Learning – Talent Sutra by Devdutt Patnaik. Derived from the author’s bestseller Business Sutra, the Talent Sutra explores concepts like creativity in the workplace, nurturing talent and the importance of teamwork.

Here is a brief about my learning from the book. 

In Hindi, humans are called Manavas, because they possess manas, a mind that can imagine, hence expand. A non-expanding limited mind is identified as Brahma. An infinitely expanded limitless mind is identified as Brahman. As Brahma makes the journey towards Brahman there are a plethora of changes that one undergoes. 

One aspect of the book that caught my attention was that of human growth. I have always been inquisitive about how the dynamic process of growth unfolds and this book just gave me what I had been looking for – a comprehensive outlook of the process underlined by examples from Hindu mythology, something that all Indians have heard and learnt by heart in the process of growing up. 

Growth happens when we make the journey from being dependent to being dependable

This happens when we focus on who we are rather than what we have: how much we can accommodate the Other, even if the Other does not accommodate us. 

When I associated this learning to my own life, I could visualise so many examples. I was dependent completely on my family before I shifted to New Delhi to pursue my further studies. At Delhi, at college and at my hostel I learned some values and virtues which I could not have even dreamt of gaining back in the protected atmosphere in my hometown. My work at Kayakalp made me someone who is ‘dependable’ for our community of artists. There are both pros and cons of this dependency though. 

Growth is indicated when we prefer giving than taking

This notion was something that I learnt at Public Health Foundation of India. My encounter with some people at PHFI enabled me to see live examples of people who are living their lives for facilitating easy lives for others. They have taught me a lot about the giving aspect of life.

Growth happens when more people can depend on us

Well. I do not completely agree with this. My teachers, mentors and parents have taught me to be independent and turn the lives of those whom I strive to empower also independent and self- sufficient. Though its a harsh reality, in the long run one needs to take care of himself/herself. But do let me know, if your opinions differ!

Growth happens when even the insignificant becomes significant

I’d like to quote this learning through the epic Mahabharata. In Mahabharata, for eighteen days, the Kauravas and the Pandavas fought on the planes of Kurukhshetra. Hundreds of soldiers were killed on either side. In the middle of the war, Krishna told Arjun, ‘We have to stop. The horses are tired.’ Arjun ardently followed the instructions. Refreshed, the horses pulled the chariot with renewed vigour. However, the horses pulling Arjun’s chariot did not ask to be refreshed. Krishna sensed their exhaustion and made resources available to comfort them. 

Often, we forget the horses that help us navigate through our daily lives. Horses are a crude metaphor for those who make our lives comfortable but who do not have much of a voice when it comes to their own comfort. 

Growth happens when we include those whom we once excluded

All of us, or maybe most of us, definitely strive for all inclusive growth, but inevitably at times some people are left behind in the ever juggling process. We must make an effort to include such people and make them an integral part of the journey, only then can growth truly come across in a beautiful manner!

It is easier to teach than to learn. It is easier to instruct people than to let people be. It is easier to focus on things rather than thoughts. It is easier to expand our mind than get others expand their minds. 

Modern management is all about chasing a target, the Promised Land of Abrahmic mythology, Elysium of Greek mythology. Hindu mythology, however, warns against chasing Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; it will result in conflict. Instead it advises making oneself attractive to Lakshmi, worthy of her affection and auspiciousness, so she walks our way. For that we have to be less like Indra, who is consumed by his own hunger, and more like Vishnu, preserver of the world, who is consumed by other people’s hunger. Vishnu knows that human hunger is threefold:

  • For wealth
  • For power and 
  • For knowledge

Modern management has been reduced today to looking at business as a set of targets, or as a set of tasks. But business is essentially about a set of people who satisfy the hunger of the shareholder at one end and consumers at the other. Atleast that is what I’ve been taught and learnt so far. 

Nominated for WordPress awards and humbled!

I had recently been nominated for two awards by Jotish Joseph – a fellow blogger who writes his piece of mind articulately and does not withhold himself to appreciate other people’s writing. 


Thank you for nominating me for these awards, Joseph. Really appreciate the fact you considered me to be worthy enough for these!


Award 1: The Mystery blogger award

RULES:

  • Display Award Logo On Blog
  • List The Rules
  • Mention Creator Of Award & Provide A Link
  • Thank The Blogger(s) Who Nominated You & Provide A Link
  • Say 3 Things About Yourself
  • Nominate From 10 To 20 Bloggers
  • Notify Nominated Bloggers By Leaving A Comment On Their Blog
  • Answer 5 Questions From Nominee
  • Write 5 Questions For Your Nominees
  • Share Your Best Post

This award was created by Okoto Enigma to give unseen bloggers a chance to show themselves to the world.

So beginning with the Q&A:

Three Facts about myself:

#Fact 1: Since I was a child, I have always adored to work in teams and ultimately, when I gain the requisite skill set, lead teams.

#Fact 2: I love taking up new challenges.
For example:

  •  Venturing an enterprise, at a timid age of 18 years, working in the cut throat competitive space of arts and empowerment
  • Going abroad alone, a solo trip to Amsterdam! (This was a scholarship summer school cum internship)
  • Interning in a new city, Mumbai – a place where I know almost no one.

#Fact 3: I love to talk and to listen.

It has been difficult to strike a balance b/w the two, but since the past three transforming years the weight has been heavier on quality 2 – listening :’)

Here are the questions that I have been asked by Jotish Joseph:

  • One thing you don’t like about yourself? Contrary to what people usually say, it is not very difficult for me to say ‘no’ to things. This quality is both admirable and detestable in my opinion. While it is easy for me to turn off bad advice and suggestions from people, it is equally disheartening to persistently turn them off when approached for something that I do not approve of.

  • What is the first thing you do on waking up in the morning? The first thing that I do when I wake up in the morning is actually three things in no particular order:– Make my bed and drink a glass of water– Recite a small prayer in my mind, thanking God for the day and remembering my parents who do not reside with me for now– Make a task/ today’s to-do list on the NOTES application of my phone

  • If you get an envelope with everything written about your future, would you open it? I will certainly NOT open this envelope which forecasts my future and recites my life like an open book. Life, so far for me, has been extremely weird in the sense that things have changed for me in seconds and minutes. A lot of things I never expected would happen, have happened. By peering at my future, I will certainly not like to ruin the fun, shocks and surprises that life has in store for me.
  • Happiest moment of your life?There has been one defining moment of my life about which I keep telling my parents and close friends. I was so influenced by this event that I ended up reciting this narrative in my business school interview (Indian School of Business, Hyderabad) and luckily enough, got through ISB as well!At Kayakalp – we got an opportunity to perform for the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India under the PM’s Flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in March, 2016. The performance was due in Kohima, Nagaland. We sourced this contract two days before the due date, and there was no mode of transport to reach Kohima in such less time apart from the flight (air-travel). However, being a student run organisation we did not have the money to afford air tickets for our puppeteers and my team. The Joint Secretary of the Ministry agreed to sponsor our air-travel completely to Kohima and also paid a considerable honorarium for the puppet show that we performed for the teeming 6000 Nagaland residents!
    Our puppeteers had never sat in an air-plane before this day. I was moved to see them overjoyed at the sight of the plane. It was like a dream come true for them, and for me – it was a moment that made me realise what I ultimately wanted to do in life.
  • If you had the choice to fast forward or rewind your life, what would you do and why?
  • I will certainly rewind my life and not fast forward it because currently I am enjoying and learning from my life every moment. In fact, I would like to actually PAUSE my life for a bit. The reason being that I am approaching my graduation day. I really don’t want college life to end. Feels like grabbing hold of this PAUSE button and just living in this very moment, because it is all so precious.

    AWARD 2: One Lovely Blogger Award



    RULES:

    1. Thank the person who nominated you & provide a link to their blog.

    2. Post about the award.

    3. Share 7 facts about yourself.

    4. Nominate bloggers

    5. Tell your readers good news!

    Please find Jotish Joseph’s Blog here: https://jothishjoseph.wordpress.com
    Do have a look at his work, it will certainly amaze you 🙂

    My nominations:

    CheriEtta D.www.remembertheprisonersblog.wordpress.comNitaArvindCakap KosongPrachiKalpesh

    Good news for my readers:

    First things first, thank you very much for taking out the time to have a look at my blog! About the good news – I have a few of them to share with you all. 

    • My sister has got a promotion in her job – she is now handling full State operations for her company. She is also all set to tie the knot this year, I am really excited and happy about this!
    • My team at Kayakalp has successfully crossed the mark of 900 puppet shows pan India!
    • I am in the final semester of my undergrad in Economics. All set to graduate within next three months.
    • I have secured deferred MBA admission at Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. Also got a Pre-placement offer from KPMG India in their Risk consulting division. Though this is probably not something that I had aimed for.I am in the constant process of unearthing my desires and dreams. Of late, have been trying my hands on very different things (about which I shall write soon) and I am loving the journey, more than the destination, quite literally!