I am not sure why our brain remembers the most embarrassing moments so well, whenever someone asks me of mine, this particular one I am going to write about stands out.

One day after office, I had been for grocery shopping. Yeah, one of those days when I get to return back from office while the sun is still out there, it’s a rarity. Walking towards the breakfast cereal section, my eyes were rolling over tier after tier of various varieties of stacked up cereal, for my favourite Apple honey almond muesli. I think they were out of stock, so I picked up some other flavour. I was engrossed in reading the ingredients of the pack, when a hand landed on my shoulder accompanied by a greet, “Hey Aastha, long time, how have you been ?”.  Overlooking my shoulder, I turned around, before I could respond, she said, ” You haven’t changed a bit …”

In response I greeted her back, with out taking her name. Hell, my brain was very busy trying to connect the information stored in neurons, failing to reconstruct the memory of her, coming up with several other questions in the advent of her identity. 

My inner voice chipped in, “Aastha, you know her quite well. Please, please, please try.. I am sure you would recollect. Is she from school ?”

Me: “I don’t think so. I remember her with the exact same face I am seeing her now, which means I have met her most probably after my late teens ?”

Inner voice: “Sure, sounds very true. Some coaching centre ?”

Me: ” I don’t remember, but that sounds untrue”

Inner voice: Job interviews ?”

Me: “No way, I have attended only two interviews till now, one when I was in college, I haven’t made any new friends during the interview process. Second one, I went alone, met no one and all the interviewers were men”

My brain was confused between me and my inner voice. Meanwhile the girl was also talking. I was secretly wishing that she mentions some one or some experience so that my brain can create the pattern and connect the dots. I was smiling (such a fake smile which I am totally not used to), I was feeling quite uncomfortable to have not remembered her. She was taking my name again and again making me feel really bad. 

Inner voice: “Is she from your current work place ?”

Me: “No, that can’t be”

Inner voice: “Now, please you have almost ruled out all the possibilities, she remembers you and you don’t.. “

Me: “Really, is that it ? I have known her for a long time, it is definitely not that I met her once or twice”

She was wearing her ID card ( she must be returning from work too ), damn it, it’s flipped on the wrong side, I was praying while we were walking around that her ID card flips so that I can read her name. My stupid thoughts are making me all the more ashamed. First of all, I do not remember her name, then I want something to remind me of her ??? This continued for around 10 minutes. By this time, my guilt took over me, I didn’t want to waste any more time, but ask her.

I started with an apology,”I am really very sorry. I know we have met several times, I know you well too, but I am not able to recollect your name. Kindly can you please remind me ?” She smiled, then she started laughing. May be it was my facial expression. ” Hmmm… We started our career together and worked for the same company, we stayed at the same place too”. All the memories came back to me in no time. We talked for some more time, I apologised again before we departed. How didn’t I notice the company name written on her ID Card tag, that should have reminded me. I have not just forgotten her name, but how we were connected too.

It was the most embarrassing moment, I can never forget it as well, including the color of the dress she wore 😀

Once I realised that I am very bad with names and how embarrassing it can be,  I have made some modifications.

  • I sincerely tell them before hand if I cannot recollect who they are.
  • I pay attention to the conversation, when someone is being introduced.
  • I started storing contacts in my phone along with the relationship.

Forgetting names is not a serious illness or anything. Our brain has got better ways to store faces than names. Facial recognition is what many species including humans use to identify similar species as well as things. If someone says they have a pen, we can visualise it, but if they say it’s a Parker pen, our brain runs us through the different models Parker has in market. We are naturally not wired to remember names very well. Having said that, there are two types of people, who can remember names well and others who don’t. Undoubtedly, I belong to the second type. Some have a flashy memory, they never forget the name of the person they met even if that is only once. I wish I had one too !!!!

The ‘oops’ moments are very funny, yet they make us aware of something we haven’t known. What’s your oops moment ?



Degree awarded to state topper has been reclaimed by the educational board.

It is not just her topper position that was reclaimed, but her exam result itself. A student who has almost never passed any previous exams with average marks becomes a state topper, there is every reason for the Education Control board to scrutinize the result. What they found out has surprised a lot of people outside of Bihar (a state in India), but not the Bihari’s.


For the people of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, this is nothing new. Look at the picture, it clearly depicts the college management, lecturers are all part of the mass copy that has happened. This is not confined to one state or India. Check on the internet, there are brilliant ways that students have formulated using which they can cheat in exams.

When I read this news for the first time, there were a splash of memories that came back to me. I was involved in one such cheating in college. I don’t want to boost about myself here, I was one of the well performing students in the class.

In our university, we have a percentage of marks for internal examinations, as such securing a good score in our university is very tough. People struggle a lot to get an average score. The internal exam marks constitute of 20% of the total, hence students find that an easy route to secure a pass mark.

I hardly used to talk with anyone in the class. Once, in an internal examination, I felt a pat on my back, unintentionally I turned back. The guy who had the roll call next to me made a gesture to open up my paper for him. Firstly, I was surprised as this is the first time anyone has requested me for such a thing. On the second, the guy is very silent, I was wondering what made him do so. Before I could react there was a second pat on my back.

I had two options, either to help him ( help is not at all the appropriate word), or to complain to the invigilator. I was quite scared to complain because boys have gangs, if at all they want to take a revenge on me, I would be in trouble. Should I succumb for the fear of them ? My brain said “No”. But the heart said, “The guy is so soft spoken. He scores well otherwise, you don’t know what problem he had because of which he couldn’t dedicate time for preparation, you should consider”.

While I was quite uncomfortable, I did re-position myself so that my answer sheet gets visible to him. It was one of the most fearful moments, after the exam, I had no hesitation to tell the guy not to repeat this again. Believe me, it was tough to tell that, but it was tougher to be cheating.

Sure, I was not benefited from cheating, but there isn’t anything that makes me feel what I did was right. At the same time I didn’t know if I was wrong. Few days later, after the results, the guy left a note asking for an apology, thanking me for the deed. I felt ashamed, that ‘thank you’ felt like a burden. I haven’t done any thing great to be thanked for, may be I shall be punished instead.

I was guilty, even today when I get reminded of all the episode, I feel very guilty too. For the first time then, I learnt a lesson that has never let me be a part of anything that can cause someone to be cheated. 

Do you think the teachers, or the college are solely responsible for the mass copying? No, not at all. Parents and elders at home have to keep an eye on the kids. Are they really preparing for the exam or are they making copy scripts ? Now a days there are more innovative ways – ultra violet pens, wireless invisible ear buds, spy pens.. 

If a student can channelize his energy on finding out the best way to cheat and not get caught, imagine what he can do in future ? If he does not resort to cheating, would the education be worth to serve back the society, would it have the required quality, I doubt it.. 

It’s better to loose with dignity and honesty than to win by cheating  – James 



Last week has been a lot of travel for me… One of the hops I had was at hometown.  I only had time to visit my parents for a few hours. As we were talking about some family related matters, my eyes fell on the iPad.  

As I picked the iPad,  my dad thanked me to have bought it because my sister stays occupied all  day with it.  It was his dose of sarcasm for me… Deep within I wondered if I made a mistake, I bought it for my mom and not my sister … 

It was evening and was time for me start…  I wanted to setup my mom’s account for the ipad, as I was browsing through the apps, my eyes fell on some games my sister has downloaded, I started to play. I am not at all a pro at games, but since I’ve played these earlier I was able to solve some puzzles easily.  

My sister said, “Why don’t you download the games on your phone, after you are back from work, you would start reading. Anyhow you don’t watch TV as well, it would be a good recreation to play for sometime”. “No, I won’t download any games and I really don’t want to”, my reaction was almost immediate, she frowned with a startled look on her face.  I locked the iPad, threw it on the bed, picked my bag and started walking towards the gate.”

My thoughts were particularly disturbing me, I was worried about my sister all the more as my past rekindled back. I boarded the bus and in no time the past started a playback….

It was 2010 or so… I was working in Bangalore… I clearly don’t remember if my work load was less or I was not finding any thing interesting to do, there were two games I used to play. I was crazy, like that’s the first thing in the morning, my break time deed, the last thing before sleep.. I used to play even when I had to cook or while eating, weekdays, weekends, well it never mattered. Those days the mobile phones were not so powerful, so I had to use laptop to play.  The burden of carrying the weight of laptop also was absolutely fine, my obsession was so much.  

One day, one of my colleagues asked me what in the game is so interesting that keeps me hooked. All of a sudden I felt ashamed. There were so many thoughts rolling over.  “Why have I become so addicted? What on earth was I doing? How can I be so irresponsible and not value time?” I am sure would have wasted few 100 hours of lifetime on completely useless, worthless games. 

I had serious guilt of what I have been doing. I don’t know, I really don’t know how I got addicted to those games. What is important was not ‘how‘ but ‘why‘? The revelation hit me hard, I am trying to kill my loneliness with those games. As they say, “an empty mind is devil’s workshop“, since I have moved out of my city, my friends, my usual badminton routine, morning jogs, I had to do something to fill that time, but disgustingly I chose gaming. That was quite a shame.. 

I realized how addictive I can be to something that can keep me hooked, can make me forget my present purpose to get carried away. I found my biggest weakness, Addiction. Every opportunity I encounter creates the fear of addiction, it can be an object, pet, books, junk food and hold on, I get addicted to people too! There are some good addictions and not so good ones… 

I have very little control over myself (some people who know me would think this is so untrue) 😛 . I am known as strong willed and determined person, in reality I am weak and that constant fear makes me or rather warns me to stay in my limits … I have some principles set and make every attempt to live by those. Because of the fear of addiction, I cannot afford to miss on life. Reading books is a good addiction but only when I choose to read good ones. So, it’s the choice that makes the addiction good or bad. Too much of anything is bad.   

When in doubt I ask myself two questions:

1. What is the gain if I choose to do it ?

2. What is the loss if I don’t ?

In practice, I try to keep it simple… One of my dear friend made an offer few months ago. She said, “Hey, there is vodka at home. Anyhow we are meeting tonite, my family is out of town. Don’t think otherwise, I know you don’t drink, but do you want to try ?“. I refused her offer in a polite way but I know the truth. If I ever agree to taste it and happen to like it, that’s all.. I am over and done. I might end-up being a drunkard. If I share the reason to her, she may easily be able  to convince me, that’s when principles come to rescue…

Fear shall never stop us, fear is that caution to give it a thought and proceed. The consequences may differ based on our choice, but it is our conscious choice.



Last week, I was overloaded with work and also at the same time had so many commitments to fulfill on personal front. When such situations arise, we do display our natural emotions frustrations, anger, disguise etc..

One of my colleague’s came up to my desk, he called me by name twice, I was deeply drowned into my work, his voice had little effect on me. He repeated in a more louder voice this time, “if you don’t mind, can I have a minute of yours ?”

I don’t know what was going through me, I just reacted with a higher modulated tone, “Look, I have a lot of work, we are two days away from the release, barely I am getting time to sleep, can you please keep your points crisp?”. I was almost straight on his face while I was uttering these words, though my fingers did not stop playing with my keyboard.

He was gentle in his tone, with enthusiasm, he started explaining what he did today as if it was an achievement.. I really get irritated with people who are irresponsible and he is one of them, I display no patience to listen to him because he wastes a lot of time in telling the same preface of the story a hundred times. There was only one thought on my mind, “Oh, What does he want me to recognize ? The fact that he is also working ???”, well, true that is something to be acknowledged for, for a lazy person like him. I snapped back, “Are we done ? I need to catch-up for my next meeting ?”, he asked if I could spend 10 minutes after my meeting. Well, by this time my anger was at the next level, I replied “may be”, and I completely left  that matter.

Last Friday in a meeting with bigger audience, he has brought up the same topic again, I was paying no attention to him as I am well aware of his ‘prefaces’. What happened next is most interesting, he told the meeting attendees of the task he accomplished.

I asked him, “Who helped you do it?”,

He said, “I did it on my own”

“Stop joking, let’s get back to work, who has helped you, I would like to learn that too”

He reiterated, “It’s me!!”


“yes yes” …

I could not believe myself, but I was guilty at the same time to have said something that rude to him.

I never really paid interest the other day or now, that itself is disrespecting him no matter how his past history was, on top of it I asked the same question twice for reconfirmation. I apologized to have misunderstood his efforts to be of someone else’s.

All of us misunderstand or were misunderstood at some point of time because of a pre-formed opinion. Yes, in this case, I had an opinion that he was lazy, never really has an interest to work, always takes help from others and takes the credit onto his own. I have seen him behave so, so may be it was my immediate reaction.

I am very bad with communication and expressing myself, by nature I am straight forward, so the chances of me being misunderstood are really high and it hurts me deep. It hurts me deeper when I misunderstand someone because I have made them feel unloved or uncared  in some way, I cannot really hold on to that feeling for long, unless I admit it. 

The two main reasons I feel we are often misunderstood is because of bias and our past. We tend to forget the most important, the present and the future that can be totally ruined due to misunderstandings. Past may not be relevant in the present or define our future, even then, we continue to give it more value. Nothing, wrong it is wise to do so, but not always.

It is absolutely fine to be misunderstood. Explain yourself only to an extent, to an extent until the other is ready to listen, ready to stand in your shoes to understand your point of view. Once, twice or may be more depending on how important the relationship is, but remember there is a point at which you need to stop this. If the person is happy to stay biased with their own understanding of you, then let them be…” – I told myself after a recent experience that nearly broke me to pieces… We cannot change anyone by force, similarly we cannot correct a misunderstanding because we know we are right, it can only happen when the other person gives us a chance.

“Misunderstanding – A “Missed Understanding” because of the human preference to Assumption over Clarification.” 
― Drishti Bablani


I shall today accept what I have been doing wrong all my life, I have been ignoring myself, the true self. I am not too sure if that is because of my nature and my choices or the carelessness I have towards myself. 

Few months back I was on a telephone conversation with one of my friends, explaining a hilarious yet a stupid deed of a man whom I have known for a few years, inadvertently she said, ” It has been a long time I have heard you laugh, I am so glad you are finally there”. Post the conversation, I was really thinking if I have stopped smiling, which isn’t true because I do, but yes definitely it has been ages I laughed with all of my heart. I wondered if it was the phase of my life or people around me, may be both. 

Past few months have been very rough for me emotionally, I felt low most of the time, concentrated on work, and when I get time I am just preferring to fall asleep. I have been sleeping like anything during weekends, initially I was under the impression that may be the stress of work and long hours are making me tired. Last week, I strolled down the streets near my home, and wondered how many changes have happened. I am living in the same area and never noticed any one of them. New coffee shops, restaurants, a new road, sidewalk of the lake is developed, so much !!! I realised I am loosing interest in life. That brought me to the question, “What is life ?”

Life is to be lived for a purpose, be able to spend time with family and friends. My family doesn’t live with me and my friends are ‘busy’ with their own lives. I cannot really opt to pick up the phone to call or chat with anyone, it is a limitation I need to live with. So, what else ? Travelling – my travels have come to a halt as I haven’t been keeping well for quite sometime, that’s another limitation. I haven’t been able to concentrate on the goals I have set for life, time is passing by.

All of these together have brought a lot of confusion, frustration and anger on myself. It was really hurting me inside out, I was not able to find out which direction my life is heading. Is it even moving or is it at stand still ? I don’t know, I precisely don’t.

Meanwhile  whenever people had time, they put it to the best use to make statements about me, shell their opinions on me and make me feel worthless. They weren’t able to hurt me just like that, I have let them do it. I agree that I am too caring, I give too much of myself for others, I am almost available anytime for anyone, but the problem is not that I am caring for others, the problem is that I haven’t been listening to myself, what I really need, what my feelings are, who I truly am.  This has been my problem ever since. 

Someone suggested to leave my job, because it is taking a lot of time and energy. I dislike the idea of leaving job, I always loved to work. It can be only for 8 hours or 18 hours a day, I really enjoy solving problems that matter. The purpose of my work and how it is going to help many others motivates me the most, provides satisfaction and makes me fall asleep to have done something today which is going to serve someone in need. Leaving job is not at all the solution. I am not lost because of work, but lack of interest towards what I want to do. 

If I don’t really dwell into who I am, in no time I would be loosing the biggest asset I have, myself. I don’t want to change the core of me at all, I love to work, I love people, care for them and would continue to, at the same time set a plan for myself.

Yesterday, over an ice-cream (the picture is of the same, I have been thinking of having one for at least a month :p) I jolted down everything important for me. What do I need to live my life for the next few years ? I re-iterated my goals, re-validated them, then  my responsibilities ( I cannot run away from them). I have put an approximated time for preparation, finances, time I would need to reach my goals. Slowly my plan started to shape-up. 

I took the first step towards it today. I started going to gym after 2.5 years which was part of my regular routine earlier. I did not feel great working out, it was tiring,  but, I cannot give up. Eventually I would feel fit enough to be able to travel and trek, my way of finding peace by venturing into nature. Many more are in the pipeline, hope to keep them going to find myself back …. 

“When you fight yourself to discover the real you, there is only one winner.” 
― Stephen Richards



Life is beautiful, it feels like an adventure everyday. While all of it looks good, feels great, going in the right direction, there are times where we have to be prepared for the worst. What we plan for may or may not happen, and odds are bound to happen, putting us in situations we aren’t prepared for.  There are broadly two types of events in life, known and unknown.

Moving from high school to graduation, getting our first job, marriage, having kids, these are known events, the plan was laid and we have known these events would happen. Loosing a job, falling ill while we are on a financial set back, unwanted pregnancy, loss of loved one, breakups, we would have never known of these earlier than they could occur. 

Sudden change of plans due to unforeseen circumstances of life is a bitter reality. Everyone of us have setbacks, heart burns when such events happen. Most of us are wise to an extent that we plan for the expected, but we crumble when the unexpected happens. 

It has nothing to do with weak hearted or strong, it has to do with how we take what happens to us, how planned were we, more than plans how prepared we are.  Life has never been as they would have planned for any one who have ever lived. The reality of life is hard to accept, lot of people feel very apprehensive to even think that something wrong might happen, if we are afraid of thinking about it, how would we be prepared?

I have known a lady who is full of life, I was always puzzled at how amazing she is at handling the unexpected, she never even complains. She was an ace badminton player, in her academy everyone thought she would make it to international level some day, until she lost her left leg in an accident. A man fell in love with her, post marriage they discovered she can never have babies. An year and half after marriage she lost her husband in a plane crash. That’s life! Was she expecting all this? No… This is only one instance, there are many such instances all of us would have come across in family, friends or even in the news. Disasters happen, and often families are unaware of the future. The emotional drains of life are hard to handle. 

We will feel very stressed and fearful when such things happen. Often, it so happens that other people are busy with their own lives while we are fighting hard, our world has crashed down and everything else seems normal. It can be quite scary to think of the future. There are certain ways in which we can be prepared.

  • Be self-reliant: Soak in life’s lessons, when we raise kids we have to teach them everything. Like while we were in schooling, we have learnt so many subjects but we hardly put them to use, exposure is very important. Exposing ourselves to various skills, learning all that we can without being biased on how it is going to help us is very useful. 
  • Have a plan which has room for unforeseen: Life happens all of a sudden, leaves us with no time to react. When we plan we should always have a contingency or alternative plans, nevertheless we cannot plan for everything. 
  • Do not over prepare: While preparing is important, overdoing it is of no use. Some people continue to plan for ever and actually execute less. At times, we may feel we are not yet prepared to take the next step, it’s OK, there is a first day for everything and we would learn while we are on the job.
  • Live life as it unfolds: No amount of preparation can help some times, calm down, think through it and let life be. If it’s new, it is and the only thing we can do is to deal with it. We cannot run away or escape from it but face it.

I believe that everything in life happens for a reason, now we may not know it, but it has a definite place in the future.  Everything we go through prepares us for the next level.

“There is always a part of my mind that is preparing for the worst, and another part of my mind that believes if I prepare enough for it, the worst won’t happen.” 

― Kay Redfield Jamison



I was staying in hostel as part of my PUC( Pre-University Course). Once in two weeks, on Sunday we get a few hours outing time, where we can go out of campus at around 12 PM and report back in the campus by 8 PM the same day. Other weeks parents and family can come to meet the students for an hour. Every week my parents used to come to meet me at the hostel. It was the time where I could see happiness on their faces, this time the case was different.

“Swathi is diagnosed with blood cancer, doctors are saying that she is only left with few more months” said my dad. The news was not syncing in, she was my best friend. The thought of loosing her itself was so tough on me, I could hardly breathe, my energy drained to the smallest percentage, I was drowned in sweat in no time.

Next week was the week of outing, I requested my parents to take me home so that I can see her. One week felt so long, I was waiting so much to meet her. My heart was pounding so high as the time approached.

“It is so painful, I prefer dying than going through the therapies, not able to bear this anymore” – I can never forget these words uttered by my best friend. She was so lean, with no hair as her chemotherapy sessions have commenced, it was unbearable to see her and her parents going through that pain.

I’ve hold her hand in mine, and said “everything is going to be fine, don’t think about anything”. I was not fooling her, she is going through the stress of handling her own condition and it is very important to ease such person with comforting words. I tried to divert her attention by talking about our school, and some of our common friends.. “I don’t know where my bicycle is … “ said she, hearing to this I asked her dad where it was ? Because now she is staying at her aunt’s place close to the hospital and not at her own home.  I requested him to take me to their house so that I can bring her bicycle here. We washed the bicycle, decorated it a bit, we took it for her, she felt so happy seeing her bicycle.

“I want to eat Indian gooseberry. Can you get it next time you come to meet me ?” – for those of you who doesn’t know how it looks I am attaching a picture.


It feels sour when we bite into it, turns slightly bitter later on and has various health benefits as well. I requested her that I would be back in half an hour, went home took some of those gooseberries for her. After seeing those her expression was priceless. I have also requested my sister to take few of those everyday for Swathi so that she can have as many as she wants. The next time I went to meet her, she was all in smiles for that small gesture of my sister.

Week after week, I kept visiting her though that meant spending only couple of hours with her due to travel constraints etc. There were many small things like these over a period of two months that made me feel how petty things can make the most important memories for us. She used to share a lot about her visits to hospital, doctors, her chemotherapy sessions, some times I wondered if she knew she was going to die, but I never dared to ask her.

At the time when she left this world, believe me she was holding a couple of gooseberries in her hand. After she passed away her parents needed me the most, whenever I met them, they were happy to see their daughter in me. I am so happy to serve that family, even today our relationship is very much similar.  I dream of her at times, and feel blessed to have a friend like her.

Caring for someone who is in the last days of their life is very challenging. It can be due to natural process of our body aging or an ailment, when the care has to be given at home it calls for different type of challenges. It is the last opportunity we have to serve someone who did so much for us, who mean a lot, whom we are definitely going to miss. We should keep in mind certain facts that can help us through.

  • Don’t see them as burden, in fact no one wants to be a burden on another. It is just that they are in need of help now, we may be in the same position tomorrow or little later.
  • Ask questions to engage them in conversations. Secret stories, mischievous instances , it can be anything, don’t ever make them feel lonely or as if they are not so important any more.
  • Crack jokes and laugh a lot. Laughter can make us forget a lot of pain.
  • Be kind, not only to the person who needs us, but ourselves too. It can become very frustrating at times, do not ever show the frustration before them. If you feel so, take a stroll down the road or relax yourself for sometime before resuming back to them.
  • When the time is tough, give the time a tough challenge. There is nothing called “dirty” task. It can be giving a bath, cleaning their bed, do it with love, because when there is love care-giving comes naturally.

All of us are part of this world for a very less time, today it may be someone else, our time may not be much farther. Always have patience and love, those are two things that would make us feel really good to have been caring for someone in need.