THE PARADIGM SHIFT FROM “WORK FOR HOME” TO “WORK FROM HOME”

Being associated with the software industry and remote working experience for a long time, I would like to shell some light on how perspectives changed with the pandemic. 

Prior to the pandemic, I would choose to work from home only if I am sick or just wanted to concentrate on work a little more. During the day, at work there are usually some distractions that could be avoided in an isolated space like home. After a couple of days in a row, it starts to get uncomfortable to request for more days of work from home because there are people around in office who would think that I am working for home than working from home :). That has never been true, but there is no way we can prove the other wise. Apart from these, there are a few stereotypical managers who think folks who are working from home are not working. They would call every hour or deliberately schedule some meeting just to feel good by making sure we are working. I am sure some of you would totally echo the same thoughts as me. I have also seen managers who think people who are sitting for a long time in office are more dedicated. I won’t say all these are myths, but it depends on the person. Some managers totally don’t care about where we work from as long as the deliverables are meeting the timelines. 

One of my colleagues had a baby girl with some medical condition and the baby needed constant care. She requested for working from home for a period of six months and considering her situation that has been granted. It used to be difficult and needed lot of approvals even when a family member is suffering from terminal illness.  Later on she opted only for 50% work as she was unable to concentrate on work. So, this carried on for almost two years, and I heard so many people judging her. Many wondered if she ever works or just wants to keep the job.  As fellow humans we have to be more considerate, but hello! she is getting to work from home for months together and we don’t get to do that even for a couple of days. 

It is indeed convenient at times to work from home if one can,  for a few days when there is a need. If my family needs my presence at  hometown, I want to opt for such adjustments for a week or two.  What has always stopped my manager to agree would be, “what would other people in the team think?. “What if everyone start asking for such adjustments?“. Their main fear is that the productivity would be lost. 

Couple of weeks before the lockdown was announced in India, our company started making arrangements for us to be able to work from home for longer durations. I was dealing with those arrangements starting from remote login to ensuring we have all the required hardware to work from home. After many discussions and approvals, we were almost set before the pandemic lockdown came hard on us. All of a sudden, I saw many leaders/managers thinking differently. Now the thoughts are,” We have to somehow make this work for the business” ” We should not loose time because of logistic issues” “Hope people cope up well with this situation and be able to work normally“. Many employees of our company travelled to their hometowns before the lockdown. We experienced low impact with remote working at least in our team. There will always be some trouble working remotely, but this is where we have to be innovative in finding alternatives. I wonder why it was so difficult to accept these adjustments before the pandemic. Now there is more time for employees also to take care of their health by utilizing the commute time.

In no way, this means work from home is a bed of roses. Despite the challenges we are facing working from home, I think this pandemic has changed some misconceptions. I hope in the new normal, we would have better working relationships and our leaders would trust us if someone says “Working from home” :). Even when the pandemic ends, and we end up spending more time at work, we would have the choice to request for work from home option with head held high. 

Starting to trust and giving employees great autonomy and flexibility allows people to feel independent and empowered

THE DESIRE OF HAVING A DRESSING TABLE

Life is quite unpredictable and one has no idea what’s next. The only thing that is certain about life is its uncertainty. Still, life brings so many beautiful and sweet memories to us. Today I am going to share one such sweet memory with you.

This picture reminds me of an incident when I was still in school. I was studying in the 9th standard. During that time my Dadi (grandmother) was alive and I remember she was quite old. Her face had numerous wrinkles and freckles. She was told that she faced quite difficulties while walking. She had a wooden trunk and also a shabby looking box made up of tin. She used to keep them locked and kept her things into it. Upon being asked what’s inside them, she used to say that she keeps her lovable possessions. At times, when she opened her trunk and box I had a few opportunities to see what’s inside them.

One day when I was done with my lunch and was heading towards our drawing-room, my eyes caught her attention. I peeped inside her room. She was sitting on her bed and her trunk was wide open. She was holding a mirror in her hand and was looking into it. Since her bed was near the window of her room that opened in the passage leading to the living room, I could clearly see how she was looking into the mirror. The mirror was quite old-fashioned and had several dark spots on it. It seemed that somebody deliberately sprinkled some dark colors in the mirror. Still, my Dadi was looking into it. She tucked her loose strands behind her left ear and was observing her wrinkles and freckles. She adjusted her large specs and touched her cheeks. I wanted to ask her why she was looking into such an old mirror in which her face isn’t clearly visible. But then I saw a small teardrop rolling down her cheek and I stopped myself from interrupting her. After some 15 minutes, she carefully covered the mirror in a cloth and tucked it inside the trunk.

I couldn’t stop myself and therefore, one day I asked her about that mirror. She said, “I was seeing how old I have grown. When your grandfather was alive, I used to put kohl into my eyes, tie my hair, put bindi, and look myself into the mirror. I used to ensure if I am looking well. But when your grandfather passed away, I never felt like doing any such thing. After all, he wasn’t there to admire that kohl, a nice bun, bindi, and jhumka.”

“That mirror was a gift from your grandfather. I never had a dressing table and I always wished to have one. I often asked your grandfather to bring one for me,” she said further while taking a deep breath.

“One day he came home and handed me a packet. I opened it and saw a mirror in it. He said, ‘I can’t afford a dressing table for you but you can consider this as your dressing mirror. Place it on your wooden trunk and then you can sit down and get ready.’ This is why I have been keeping this mirror for all these years. I used to keep it on my wooden trunk along with my comb, sindoor, bindi, hairpins, and oils. Though I never had a conventional dressing table, your grandfather somehow fulfilled my dream of getting ready in front of a dressing table by giving this mirror and suggesting to put it on the trunk.”

I don’t know what happened to that mirror after she passed away. But that trunk still stays in her room. The trunk now has her comb, two old sarees and a part of the wooden frame of that old mirror. It stays there unused but full of memories that my grandmother cherished till her death.

FLIGHT OF FANTASY

She soared up in the sky. It was a beautiful night. The full moon shining bright and the city lights below giving fierce competition to the moon. She inhaled the cool breeze and flapped her wings. Oh, how she enjoyed this flight! The freedom to go wherever she wanted… Each and every light below beckoning her to come to check out the fun that they are having.

She perched on a window. The mother was putting the baby to sleep and the obviously tired mother had fallen asleep but the baby was flailing his hands and legs in the air and cooing. She whistled a beautiful song. The baby enjoyed it and finally fell asleep.

She flew over a dark alley. The policeman was walking his beat. The burglar was hiding in the shadow. She chuckled to herself and gave out a loud hoot. The policeman turned in the direction of the sound and saw the burglar trying to enter an open window. “Now he will catch him,” she thought. 

Again she soared in the sky. The brightly lit market place attracted her. She perched on a street light and saw a couple in the window of the restaurant having candlelit dinner. They both had smiles on their face and eyes only for each other. 

Oh!” She sighed “Life is so beautiful.”

She looked up and saw them – the guards were coming. “Oh no! They are coming for me. They will lock me up again…  I don’t wanna go back there. I want to fly…” She tried to get away but she was caught. 

It was morning and she opened her eyes. The steady beep of the machines and the distinctive smell of hospital told her that the dream was over she was back –  strapped in the hospital bed, paralyzed waist down. 

I will walk” she affirmed “One day I will fly...” and smiled at the nurse.

‘A DREAM’ – NOT JUST ENOUGH…

Dreams are facile and gorgeous to closed eyes…

In my imaginative world, I dreamt of owning a hilltop penthouse. It was a springtime beautiful full moon evening. The hilly fresh air touching my skin and giving the comfort of nature. Small clouds were passing beneath my balcony pane. All the way, away from unwanted evening guest interruption, I was enjoying hot coffee in my yellow ZooZoos printed coffee mug, at the back in my dark living room the slow music and the two small blue lights from my home theatre were lighting my entire glass-walled living room. There were neither the bizarre sound of vehicle honks at the traffic nor the irritating midnight barking of street dogs only the dazzling yellow and blue bright lights of a busy city life down the hill was giving the feel of a calm and composed mind. A faraway from my hometown, I was enjoying those blissful evening moments with my small family. Lo and behold, Pogo (my Pug) sneezed on my face and tired I screamed out, can somebody get this pug a tissue! Mumma replied, O, hello Mr. Lazy, take Pogo for the evening walk, it’s 5:30 P.M now!

Dreams that we imagine in our conscious mind reflects in our subconscious mind while we sleep. Probably, that’s why it is said, “dreams won’t let you sleep!” Contextualizing to my imaginative world’s dream the undeniable question someone can shoot at me, “Well, WHAT’S NEXT to fulling your dream?” Undoubtedly, since human desires are unlimited and as human, I am profoundly subjected to it. Meanwhile, the Bible verse that projected me my grey-haired days –

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun;

all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

I asked myself, does that mean I should stop dreaming? Well, the omnipresent calm voice of God answered back, “Human mind and Imagination is the primordial friends, they walk hand-in-hand and My given freedom allows human to imagine everything their heart desires. But in their course of life, it is My given wisdom to reason which presents before them the final point of their chase to fulfil the dream.

To the clinical eyes the more you rise to the top, the power of visibility grows lesser and lesser. Analogically, so happens with our soul! The more and more we desire to be on the top the lesser and lesser emptied we find within. And alas, the same dream penthouse of my story may become my place to hang myself to stop dreaming. Though now, I want guests and friends by my side sadly, there may be none of those unwanted guests, probably I have grown up so high that they are unable to connect with me. 

The problem is not in the dreaming,

the problem is how do you fulfill your dream.

Dreams are seen in closed eyes but it is our passion to toil for it gives tangible shape to the dream. Again, a reminder for us is, our untamed passion to bring down the dream to reality is empowered enough to allow our futile thoughts and convinces our fragile hearts to compromise with the ethics & morals. And finally, out there on the hilltop penthouse within the glass-walled rooms we may become filled outside but EMPTIED WITHIN…

The Bible says,

“Commit your works to the LORD,

and your plans will be established.”

TOGETHER WE SAILED

Hurry up, they are reaching here, Come’ on dear, hop on. we have got to go“.

I stood amazed at what we were about to do. But then hopped on and just pushed my feet on the land to get the boat moved. And there we were sailing away…

We could see, the torch lights in the distance, approaching the banks, but we were already half the way.  Not knowing where we were off to but determined to be together.

I held him closer, cuddling in his arms. The heaven I wanted to be in all along. I did not know, whether I was crying for being happy or just sad. But somewhere deep down I knew I was happy because I was with him.

Sailing under the moonlit sky, in a boat, along with him, the moment was the beautiful one I could ever imagine. We sailed and sailed away to a direction unknown, with the moon guiding us and wind pedaling us to somewhere, where we belonged.

The journey went on and on… the night was enticing, and the moon showered the silver light upon us. He cupped my face in his palms, and there he was gonna kiss me…

Suddenly the boat began to shake… I lost my balance, but we never left the hands of each other.

There we fell off the boat…

Mamma wake up… wake up… she is fighting with me…” I was awakened by the call of my elder one… and there again I was pushed into reality.

Afternoon naps after romantic movies are quite enriching with dreams.

AN ESCAPE FROM THE PREDATOR

She knew she had to run . . . run as fast as her dainty feet could carry her. “Oh! God, please give me the feet of a deer”, she spoke aloud in her mind as she fled from the predator.

“This is surely the end of me. Even if God gives me the feet of a deer, I can never evade the prowl of a leopard”, she muttered as she made her way through the thick green foliage.

“Lord, please send your angels to lift me up from this place. Else, I will surely die.”

She did not dare to look behind her shoulder. She knew the leopard was slowly and stealthily trailing her. She kept scanning through the length and breadth of the horizon for any means of escape.

In her fearful frenzy, she failed to check her steps and tripped over a log of wood. She fell and kept rolling down the slippery terrain for a seemingly indefinite period of time, till she banged against something solid and came to a halt.

As she lifted up her eyes, she realized that it was a door. Without wasting a second, she barged inside the open door to safety. “I think it must surely have been an angel who pushed me into this safe haven”, she thought relieved. Catching hold of her breath, she cautiously peeped into every corner of the room and tiptoed ahead inch by inch.

Lo and behold, what was she seeing! A whole corner full of books! A book-lover that she was, she raced towards the book shelves. A light that hung from the ceiling helped her finger through the titles of the thousands of books that were stacked in front of her. She knelt down to pull out a book. As she got up holding it close to her chest, she hit a nearby rack and off came the books from all directions tumbling down on her one after the other.

She ducked aside from left to right unable to understand what was going on. And then she heard it! The unmistakable noise of someone opening the creaking door to where she was!!

“You are sleeping here!” shouted my sister cheekily standing near the door to my room. I jolted up from my accidental nap and realised that there was no leopard chasing and no treat of a room full of books. But, what an adventure it had been! I looked up at the Cuckoo-clock on the wall. It was 11 A.M. – a nap of only five minutes had thrust me into a wonderland of hours!

 

 

 

WE CAN DO IT! TRAFFIC TO AIR CONTROL!

You have to do it! Traffic to Air Control.”

A voice woke me up. Many a time, my slumber was broken by my Dad’s call uttering these words. Today, when I am moving towards a greater change in my life, I expected my Dad would be around.

I am not ready. My heart is racing, as the day has arrived when I will be sitting on the co-pilot seat of a Boeing jet. Although the training period has strengthened me as a person to handle the jet in any condition, yet I am not sure if my soul is ready to take a step inside that cockpit.

Six years, seven months, 23 days!

Yes, that is the number of days it took me to step to a commercial jet after the mishap that turned my life upside down.

24th December 1999
The date when the mujahidin terrorist killed my father in a hijacked Air India plane. I feared the flying aftermath of the incident and never took a jet after that for eight long years!

However, my bubble world burst when I found my father’s journal, and one of the entries uncovered wherein he mentioned his desire of attaining those pilot stars on my shoulders.

What an irony!

I had to fight two battles thereon, one was the challenge of getting in the white uniform. The second one was a fear regarding how to get into something that has taken my Dad away. But anyhow, I curbed my fears to take that entrance exam and passed it with flying colours, maybe because I had the blood of my Dad running in me.

However, even now, after having overcome both my fears, my body is trembling, with mind experiencing hallucinations of my Dad. I can see him telling me “With great responsibility, comes great power.”

After seeing his smile and affirmation, I felt courageous enough right then that I am on the right track!

And so, with the air hostess’ call, it was my turn for the pilot’s protocol. Thus, I proudly announced, “We can do it” along with a loud call “Traffic to Air Control“.