THINGS DID WORK OUT

Trusting my own decisions has never come easily to me. I always rethink my decisions weighing all the pros and cons over and over again. Even while making a small decision of buying a dress, I feel more comfortable after taking a second opinion from a friend. I jokingly say that it is the aftereffect of being completely surrounded by Librans and their balance (My closest family members are mostly Librans and I am sure they will not forgive me for this statement 😉).

I guess living a very sheltered life and always having some one at hand to bounce my ideas off has made me dependent. 

Anyways so for a person like me to think of an incident where I completely trusted my own decision, I had to do a lot of deep diving.

When my kids were pretty small, the elder one was in Nursery and the younger was hardly a toddler. My life was all chalked up. My in-laws were staying with me. There was a full-time maid to help out with the kids. Me and my husband both had a good job.  I was actually working with a government organisation having a pensionable job.

Out of the blue moon things changed on every front. There were some family obligations because of which my mom-in-law had to shift to her elder son’s house. My husband got a great opportunity to work in Pune. He shifted base to Pune and suddenly the responsibility of handling my job and two small kids felt very huge.

We tried to manage for 6 months but then I realised that at this stage I didn’t want a long-distance marriage. He was tired  of travelling to and fro every weekend and kids were becoming very cranky and difficult to handle.

After a lot of deliberations, I decided to take a 1-year leave and move to Pune to see how things work out. To cut the long story short things did work out there and I left the government job.

People called me foolish to have taken such a decision… Others said this was a wise decision. The jury is still out on that.

But looking back all I think is things did work out for good in the end.

A NUDGE OR A PUSH

Look at the picture above and tell me what you see? I see the nudge or the push that mother elephant is giving to her baby to go on her own into the water. The little one is scared to move ahead on her own but the mother knows she is ready for the world. Similarly, we have heard stories about birds who push their young ones out of the nest. That is their way to make them fly. They know the little one is ready to fly and explore even though he is scared. Hence the push is required, it’s a necessity.


Do we humans also do the same? I guess not.. We hold on to our children for a long time. At least I can speak for the parents in India. We want to keep the children with us as long as we can. First because we think they need us and then we need them.


As a small child it is important that we protect our children from the harsh realities of the world. But there is a time when we should let the child explore on his or her own. When is the right time to let go of the umbilical cord is debatable but I guess it generally happens in phases. The boundaries of the child keep increasing as they grow up and then one fine day they grow up into young men and women ready to take on the world.
I have two almost adult boys who want me to leave them alone and let them decide on their own about everything. We have a tussle deciding the boundaries every day.


The other day my younger son was playing in an online chess tournament. He was having a tough match I could hear his frustrated comments in the other room. I so much wanted to walk into his room and hold his hand and calm him down. Tell him its ok. Relax… You are doing well… But no, I couldn’t. Firstly, because the camera was on and it would tantamount to cheating but also because he has to go through these emotions on his own and learn to control himself if he has to win the tournament.


I keep telling myself they are prepared. For their personalities to shape up they need to explore on their own. Even if they stumble and fall… they need to learn to get up and dust themselves and move on… not wait for help from Mumma… So, learning a lesson from the animal kingdom today… Something I knew but many a times forgot to put into effect. It requires courage on both the side. The parents who have been the protectors for so long need to courage to let go and the child who has to venture out on his own requires courage to do so.

Sometimes a nudge or a push is the right thing to do.

SMALL ACTS GO A LONG WAY …

Act of courage need not be something monumental that you did. It also means the small but meaningful acts that we do every day. Like owning up our mistakes and saying sorry, standing up to someone who is bullying you or just saying a firm no.

Recently I came across the story of my colleague’s daughter who is in grade 5 and is being bullied by her so-called best friend in school.

Yes, even I was surprised to hear that. In today’s day of online classes, even when they don’t physically meet, she is able to bully her.

Let’s call her Annie and her friend Rachel. Rachel was a topper in the class and a favourite of her teachers. When Annie joins the same school and becomes her classmate, she becomes direct competition to her. Annie starts bagging the prizes which Rachel used to get. Annie is at the top of her class now.

Rachel is so consumed with jealously. She uses technology as her tool. Whenever Annie replies to any question in the class Rachel writes snide remarks in the chat box. Wonder how her teacher misses it. Then in the evening Rachel has set up a zoom meeting everyday to do homework. The rule of the meeting is that Annie will finish all her homework before that zoom call and share it with her friends in the zoom meeting.

Poor Annie thinks she is doing it for her friend. Her innocent brain does not comprehend that she is being used. Another instance of bullying is that Rachel tells Annie ‘You are an only child because your parents got so fed-up taking care of you that they decided they didn’t want any more children.’ ‘Look at me I have two other siblings to love me.’ With both parents working and she staying with her grand parents for almost the whole day Annie didn’t tell anyone about all this and was on the verge of a breakdown.

Constant messaging on WhatsApp that you are good for nothing. Your mother does all work for you. Really brought Annie’s self-worth down and she really started believing it herself. All along Rachel kept telling her that I am your only friend and no one else wants to be your friend. Friends do get angry with each other but then its OK to be angry.

Annie got so traumatized with the whole thing. On one hand she kept getting critiqued by her ‘Best Friend’ on the other hand she was scared to lose her only friend. Annie got fever and finally she broke down in front of her mom and told her the whole story.

My colleague was so worried about her daughter. Both the parents counseled her a lot. After a few days of explaining and counseling, my friend told me today that finally Annie got the courage to call that girl and tell her that she is blocking her on WhatsApp and she does not want to talk to her anymore whatever the consequences. A formal complain was also lodged with the Principal. Now that is an act of courage! Specially from a 10-year-old girl. She must have gone through a lot of emotional stress. May God give her more strength! She will bounce back I am sure, as children always do.

Standing up for oneself and being able to say no to things we don’t want to do, whatever the circumstances, not letting someone take advantage of you these are our day to day acts of courage.

HONESTY CAN STAND ONLY ON THE PEDESTAL OF COURAGE

The question put to me today is ‘Do I have the courage to be honest?”

Oh not at all! I am the wrong person to kick start the week about ‘courage to be honest’. See, the thing is that I from my very childhood have been a people pleaser. I mean it mattered a lot to me to what others think about me. I have gone to great lengths to avoid conflict, to not rock the boat. Overlooked a lot many things to avoid argument. 

But over the years I have realized that going along with other’s plans even when we don’t agree with it usually back fires on us. Keeping quite at the start to avoid a conflict eventually leads us into a bigger mess.

For a long time, I have been part of the cultural committee which plans all big celebrations in our society. There have been times when a deco idea or dance idea doesn’t feel right but we still go ahead with it because the person who is suggesting it is very enthusiastic and we don’t want to break their heart. But then eventually when on the D Day there is a debacle or things don’t work out the whole team is blamed, we all become the fall guys. At that moment I realized that its better to be brutally honest right at the start.

Imagine you are in a meeting and your boss suggests an idea. You think it’s an absolutely bogus idea. Do you have the guts to say that to your boss? I have gone along with ideas suggested by my seniors or super seniors which I didn’t really like. And the end result is that if things don’t work out it’s the team which takes the beating and the senior gets away scot free. Why? Because we agreed with it. 

So in my personal opinion in the long run its better to be honest and tell the person why we thing that what he or she is suggesting wont work. I still don’t do it with brutal honesty. I put it forward with a little diplomacy but hey… I am trying…

What happens if your being honest could have an adverse effect on you or your work? Do you still have the courage to be honest? 

Here I will give you an example of my husband. He owns a start up company. Now imagine the scenario. Their company really needed a certification from a government organization. He applied for it and after the due process he was called to the office to collect the letter. The guy in charge said the letter is ready you may take it and also hinted that he was excepting an X amount as bribe… The bribe amount was not very huge and the value of that letter to the company was much greater. My hubby returned the letter to him and said that he will not pay a single paisa and walked out of the room. I can only imagine the dumbfounded expressions on the officer’s face. Not that’s courage to be honest. He put a lot of future contracts in line by refusing to pay but he didn’t regret it.

Eventually that courage paid off, our company did get that letter eventually and we benefitted from that also.

So I guess being honest and pointing out something wrong does feel like a negative thing to do at that time but in the long run it is better for our own sanity, our work and our relationships. And I feel when it comes to honesty, courage is required by both the teller and the listener.

VULNERABILITY GONE WRONG – III

Shaloween woke up to a growling stomach. ‘Mom is right.’ She thought out loud, ‘I shouldn’t miss dinner so often.’ Shaloween decided to pamper herself that day. ‘Afterall with these officials coming in I have been working too hard and with that message coming in I was thinking too hard.’

Shaloween made pancakes for herself. She ate to her heart’s content and then some coffee made her fit enough to go to the office. Had she not eaten the scrumptious breakfast she would surely have bitten off someone’s head in the office. Cooking always helped her relax and think. 

 Sipping her coffee, she made a resolve. ‘I will not pursue this Shekar guy’s message. If he recognizes me let him come forward and talk. Why messing with  my mind by sending such a mysterious message?’

She took her time to get ready and unlike her usual self, entered the office 15 minutes late. Since she was usually before the time she was sure that her senior Arvind Sikdar wouldn’t mind that day.

The atmosphere in the office looked a bit strained. ‘What is the issue?’ she wondered. 

As Shaloween got busy with her work Arvind walked in with a grave face. He informed her that one of the officers on visit Ankur Mahem was not happy with the data that she had submitted yesterday. He said there were some discrepancies in it.

Shaloween who was so thorough in her work couldn’t believe her ears. “That’s not possible Sir. I had double-checked all the data I had submitted yesterday.”

Her boss Surender Singh also walked in. “Ms Shalu this kind of sloppy work is not expected from the people of my department. I am cutting such a sorry figure in front of the high-ranking officers. They come looking for such discrepancies and here we are giving it to them on a platter. Mr. Mahem says that the data coming from the seismological agency and our reports don’t match and the report giving the destruction details is also not accurate. You were supposed to compile the data about the number of casualties. We are still waiting for it… When are your sources sending it? I want the correct reports on my table ASAP. “

As both Arvind and Surender walked out of the chamber, she sat down with her face buried in her hands. ‘I will not cry… Shaloween there is some misunderstanding… stand tall don’t cry..’ She was giving herself the pep talk, trying very hard to stop the flow of tears that threatened to come out any moment now. That was her problem if she was sad she cried, if she was feeling angry then too the tears threatened to come out. 

So much for the extra hours and efforts, she put in. One hint of a mistake and everything goes down the drain. This is a perennial problem in an Indian Government Office. 

Anyways she got back to her reports and rechecked everything. She had valid explanations for all the issues raised by Mr. Mahem. Post lunch they had a meeting. Shaloween walked in silently. Each and every point was discussed minutely. She had answers for all the questions backed by the data that she had complied. Mr. Mahem tried hard to pin the error on her. But surprisingly the other officer Shekhar Chandra took a stand on her behalf. Wherever he felt that she was being unfairly charged for an error she did not commit Mr Shekhar Chandra spoke up firmly on her behalf. 

She was really feeling grateful. Here her senior Arvind and boss Surender seem to have deserted her. Maybe they were under some pressure to agree with the high-ranking official. ‘But hey I am being unfairly persecuted. I need some backing up…’

‘Mr Shekar Chandra seems like such a genuine guy. He is not scared to call a spade a spade.’ He was being very vocal in her support for Shaloween’s work. The only support she was getting and she was very thankful for that.

By the end of the meeting, Mr Mahem agreed that there were in fact a far lesser number of discrepancies than he had originally pointed out. And the ones that were there were not their department’s fault. In fact, that was due to contradicting data being sent from the field executives.

That evening at home sitting on her sofa. She was reliving the roller coaster day in her mind. It started on a high note and then plunged into the depths of accusations and ended again on a high note when she was exonerated.

One thought that popped in her mind ‘This person Shekar Chandra indeed is a genuine honest man. Not at all the creep that I was making him out to be in the morning. ‘

THERE IS HOPE…

This pandemic and the resulting lockdown has turned us all into hassled adults. We all have that air of stress, tension and sometimes dread around us. And rightly so. We are all living in dangerous times. People close to us are dying, businesses are already dead. The whole burden is too much to carry. My day starts with asking the well being of all the relatives and friends affected by COVID and reading with despair and helplessness the desperate SOS messages from people for either bed or oxygen or other help. Makes me so anxious.

The other day I stepped out of the house with the full gear of mask etc. and from the neighbouring house the 4-year-old twins called out. “Aunty don’t go outside. Corona is sitting outside. It will catch you.” This sure brought a smile to my face because I could picture some cartoon character kind of monster sitting outside the lift door ready to jump on me the moment I step out.

It got me thinking… We, adults, are all caught up in our problems and how our life has gotten topsy turvy. But look around you and see how the kids are coping with it. They are my inspiration these days. Maybe children are more adaptive to the changes around them. As they have moulded themselves to the new lifestyle so well.

Coming back to my neighbours – the toddler twins. They started schooling in lockdown in Nursery class and this is the second year in a row of online learning. They have reached JR Kg without putting a step inside the school building. Which is hilarious. But still, if you speak to them they will tell you about the activities they did at school (online of course), the homework (which is uploaded every day), the friends they made at school. Their excitement about their teachers and notebooks and colours etc. is the same as any other toddler was a few years ago. 

Then there is my sister’s son. He is so diligent about wearing a mask. He makes others follow the rules if by any chance others become a little relaxed. His father had travelled recently and had to be quarantined. He was the one who was the strictest to see that no one steps into his room or he doesn’t step outside.

What do they know about the virus or the lockdown? Everything from their study to leisure has changed but still their sunny disposition and excitement gives me hope.

Let’s move on to a little older children. The pre-teens and teenagers. If you have ever been into an online classroom. You will still be able to recognize the eager beavers – who answer all the questions the teacher asks and the backbenchers who now hide behind switched off cameras. They have plays online, debates and elocution online, they learn music and games also online. These children have adapted so well to the new way of life. 

I will give you a funny example. The schools had no other option but to conduct online exams for their students last year. The school tried all the ways possible to be as strict as possible. But the mischievous students came out with such ingenious ways to cheat. Technology and devices were put to good use. The stricter the school became the more creative the students became. I know it’s not actually funny but ironic. 

But what I mean to say is that they did not leave their usual mischievous ways. They found other outlets for it.

Recently the board exams of Class 10 got cancelled. I was feeling so worried that how my son will get a good score. With this score actually mean anything… How will he get admission to the next class etc? And my son oblivious to my thoughts comes and says “Everyone was scared of Board exams all their school life and look when it was our turn to face the boards; the board exam got scared of us..” I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.

My elder son is busy editing a video with his friends. They all log in from their residences and record video and audio. Sit together online and edit it. They are still finding a way to talk, chill together, come up with ideas and collaborate. 

Seriously when I look at the children of these times I feel sad about how much they are missing out on the normal childhood. But then just look at the smile on their faces and think if they can cope up with such a humungous change in their life… So can we. There is hope…

MY FANTASY LAND

Picture this… A cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other hand sitting on a swing in the balcony lost in my fantasy world. Nobody wanting me to do anything. No calls like ‘What’s for dinner? Where are my Pajamas? ‘When will the report get submitted? Or declarations like “Maid has not come today!” I don’t like cauliflower!…

By fantasy here I don’t mean fantasies like Harry Potter or The Lord of Rings or The Game of thrones. I prefer some thing near to reality yet a fantasy to me. Something which makes me laugh and want to be in the place of the protagonist.

The perfect fit to this description is Author Sophie Kinsella’s books. Many may want to call her books as ‘Chick Lit’ but to me it is a tension free read which is bound to bring a smile to my face.

Her Shopaholic series is the most famous. Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic and sister, Shopaholic ties the knot, Shopaholic to the rescue etc. It mostly revolves around the adventures of a girl who just can’t resist shopping even when it gets her into a lot of trouble. But eventually by end of the novel things do resolve and she comes out of the whole mess. The situations and her buying habits are just so atrocious that they are downright funny. Wish I could get away with shopping so much.

There is another one where “Can you keep a secret?” its about a girl who is afraid of flying and once when the airplane she is travelling in hits turbulence she is sure she is going to die. To keep her hysteria down and focus on something else she turns to her co-passenger, a total stranger and tells all her embarrassing secrets to him. Fortunately, their plane didn’t crash. Unfortunately, the total stranger turned out to be the CEO of her company. Imagine Spilling your deepest secrets, only to have them resurface at a very inopportune and public moment, a shame beyond measure. Yet she endures and triumphs.

My favourite one is ‘Undomestic Goddess’. It’s about a very successful attorney who has an enviably perfect life. But then she makes a huge mistake. The mistake is so huge that it is going to wreck her whole career and the company she is working in. In a state of panic and going into a meltdown she walks out of her London office. Without thinking get into a train and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Due to a mix-up, she gets hired as a Housekeeper. Imagine her employers don’t know anything about her past and she doesn’t know anything about housekeeping. How to use the gadgets, or how to cook or even how to sew a button.  It’s the story of how she copes with the situation and eventually learns how to bake bread and get her life in London sorted.

I have enjoyed reading about her adventures with the daily household chores. Imagine things that are so mundane and routine for us become complicated for a hotshot lawyer.

Try reading one of her novels and do let me know whether is brought a smile on your face or not.