An ‘unusual’ meeting with an old Friend that left me astounded….

I cannot describe how I felt today. I met with an old colleague cum friend after almost 8 years. When I looked at him, he was limping. I felt a tightness in my heart thinking he may have met with an accident. He was weird. I never understood him, his discussion topics and his jokes. So, when he started talking, he stammered and his usual ways were odd but I thought that’s him.

We stood in front of the coffee corner and started ordering. He stood there and kept asking what is good here? He couldn’t decide for a good amount of time on what he wants. On top of that, he got into a fruitless argument with the lady at the counter. It was little embarrassing and for the first time, I sense this is odd.
Wondered what happened in last few years? He was a jackass /a prick couple of years ago. At least that’s the impression I had of him. He kept on asking the lady like a broken record. Something was messed up with him. I carried the drinks and walked towards the table. At the back of my mind, I was thinking if I did a mistake by agreeing to this meeting. I was looking around to see if there were any familiar faces etc. I didn’t want to be seen with that man.

Finally, I found the empty place but he shrugged his shoulder and walked past me, mumbling something like ‘na na’ (that’s no in Indian language). He apparently couldn’t sit without AC or fan. It messes up with his system. By now I had many signs that showed something was not right. I wanted to leave but for old time sake, I decided to sit down and talk for a bit and leave as soon as possible. I was really not sure what to expect next. So I started with what exactly happened?

In the first 3-5mins of conversation, he asked about the lady I mentioned during the conversation if she was single and ready to mingle. That was another of the many signs. I finally ended up asking what happened to his wife? And since then the horror unfolded. I froze for the time he was narrating the story. Midway I was lost in my thoughts. Nothing can be bigger than ‘time’. He was the same guy who used to throw attitude. He did his MBA from one of the top colleges. He was amazingly talented and used to carry that attitude. We were colleagues for good one year but then we moved on into different lives. After few years, I saw him in office lobby where I used to work. He saw me and responded with same idiotic nose high attitude. Probably, he didn’t know the word ‘humble’. I prayed never to see his face again. He didn’t get the job in my company. Not sure if my company could see that he was too smart and overqualified for the job. Ordinary people like me worked there. After that, I never ever saw him or tried to contact him.

Coming back to his story. He said he went through the divorce in the first half of 2017. Without getting into the details, he said there were compatibility issues. He had huge financial problems that he finally got rid of. Till now it is still not bad. Then I asked him why was he limping? He started telling me stories about his random travel and how he went to Mumbai, got drunk and fell on a rock. His head was hurt and then while speaking he realised, he may be indicating that there is something wrong with his brain. So he paused for a while and finally told the truth. He was diagnosed with some brain disease. It was related to brain sending signals to the rest of the body. The disease was much more complicated but in gist, something with body balance. And that’s why he couldn’t walk properly. Usually, people like him end up in the wheelchair but it is his courage that he is holding up till now. He has been suffering from the disease for last 6 years. By the time he finished, I was speechless. My mind started connecting dots about his marriage, health issues and job.

I always wondered where was he? What was he doing? I never ever thought I would see him in this condition. Even in this condition, he was belittling other old colleagues.

Divorce is common in any big and developed city. The system that allows girls to be independent also creates some sort of social problems (that many would disagree). People stop believing in an institution like ‘Marriage’ because they don’t really need that. Why bear so much pain and suffering when you are not happy together? For Indians, marriage is very sacred. One is expected to be with husband and wife in any condition.
Not sure what happened to him. He wanted to touch base regarding job opportunities or projects. I had offered a job in my old company and he declined saying that the pay doesn’t match his last drawn. Now he was ready to work for free.

For me, this meeting felt like a closure. It was divine like. It was a message from god that things are not same always.

While walking back from that meeting, there are few questions that are hovering on my mind –

1) How thankful should we be to god for giving us perfectly functional body and how important it is to take care of it?

2) How crucial is it be humble if you have everything in the world? No one can be stronger than ‘time’

3) Can you really blame anyone for your condition, good or bad? People see you how you behave during good times and then treat you accordingly during bad times.

4) We always complain to god. Can we just stop complaining and thank HIM for everything.

5) We should really not judge people all the time. One doesn’t know what kind of personal battle he/she may be facing.

I am little disturbed right now. Not sure how many more days I would just think about this incident.

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5 Tips That Will Make You Sound Smarter in Meetings

Asking question 3

Courtesy – Google Image

In LeanIn, Sherly Sandberg has given reasons on why women don’t raise a hand or ask questions during meetings. Though I agree with most of the stuff, the onus also lies on presenter taking questions.

Generally, the more outspoken people end up asking questions. I just feel like there should be some filter on the questions. Just because someone has the courage to speak, doesn’t mean he has the authority to talk non- stop. Ask Yourself –
Asking question 1
If given a chance then what is that one question you would ask? Instead of blabbering the first question that comes to mind, think carefully. Even if people say that no question is stupid, there are some irrelevant ones come out. That results in not sufficient time to take up good questions.

A couple of days back, I had attended a session where Digital leaders were speaking. The topic was interesting. The audience had numerous questions. Many put up their hands during Q/A. Based on what I learnt during that sessions, here are five rules you should take note of –

1) Don’t ask a too generic question.
If you can already google the answers then why would you want to bring that up in the forum? The speaker is a specialist. He comes from a certain background, he spoke on a particular topic, and your question should be relevant to the topic & subject. It should be for greater good.

2) Don’t ask a personal question.
Now, this depends on what kind of session you are attending. If this is a not a fun event and you have limited time to ask questions, make the good use of time. Asking the presenter very personal questions is not encouraged and you run a risk of embarrassing him in the audience. Questions like – What do you eat to stay fit? Would you have lunch with me? What is your beauty secret?

3) Don’t ask a long question?
Just because you have too many questions, you shouldn’t club them together. Clarity of thought is important. When you start mumbling your questions, the audience/ listener lose focus. Presenter’s entire attention would be to ensure he has answered all query instead of focusing on giving a valuable answer. So, in quantity, quality suffers.

4) State “your name” before the question
This is the most obvious rule that majority follows. But still, there are few people who would take the mike and straight would go to the question. The presenter starts answering by asking his/ her name. This is a good practice. People should know your name because asking good questions in a forum is rewarded in the end. It leaves an impression on you as an individual. Asking good questions is always valuable.

5) Don’t get disheartened.
At times the presenter knowingly/ unknowingly appreciates some questions. There could be two possible reasons – either he sees this question that is beyond what he has presented and it will do a greater good or he just knows the answer and get excited about it. In case the presenter gets uncomfortable about the question then probably he doesn’t know the answers or he doesn’t think it is relevant. Don’t get disappointed if your questions are not being appreciated.

I hope that next time when you go to a meeting, seminar or session, you would be more confident about your questions. And you must ask questions.
Asking question 2

Why ‘Marriage’ is an important decision?

Your-marriage-vows-are-most-important-in-those-moments

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More than, men, this is important for women. As teens, we are dying to fall in love. Falling in love and marriage are two different things. People can fall in love multiple times but for most, marriage happens only once. The way it works in love is – people live fairy tale lives with their fairy tale partners. Things are expected to be perfect, beautiful and uncanny. Love is blind and it stops one from seeing that life is not perfect. And the fairy tale partner that you may have decided to spend life with, may not be perfect too. He is not what you would have imagined. He is only a replica of your fantasy. Usually, that is what goes wrong with most lovers. They expect people to be their perfect fantasy lover. Today’s post is not about love, it is about marriage.

People say marriage is a gamble. That is true only in India where marriages are arranged by parents and relatives. In rest of the world, marriages are usually a well thought out decision. If it doesn’t work, the cost is high.

Marriage is a decision important for a career woman. In patriarchal society, women are still expected to take on the bulk of the household responsibility. Well, the attitude is changing and men are contributing a lot more. But that percentage is small. That’s why finding a good understanding life partner is difficult. The ones who have found have hit the jackpot!!

It is not men’s fault. While growing up, they saw their mothers do the household work and sister contributing but he probably never saw the father or himself laying hand. Many years he has been observing the same phenomena when he walks into different stages of life. And now suddenly we are asking him to change his behaviour. The change is sudden and fast. For some, this is a lot to take on.

On the other hand, women’s career has zoomed off. They are smart, intelligent and only a few. Their rate of growth is higher. Now imagine a situation where a girl is doing extremely well in her career. She has an amazing job, high flying salary, travel the world, lovely friends, living in a modern apartment and having a wonderful life. What else could she be missing from life? Probably – a life partner?

All singles lady out there would be doing ‘booooooo’ but c’mon don’t booo me, deep down in our hearts, we know that life is much more beautiful when you share it with another person.

To make it complete, she marries off a guy who is of similar status. They met, talked and shared same interests. They could probably be the best friends. But would they make a good life partner? Dating a guy and living under one roof is not the same thing. Expectations meet with reality under that roof. The fairy tale is shattered because the ‘shit’ got real.
A guy who has a degree from a reputed college, works for an MNC, draw a handsome salary and comes from a good family. Doesn’t it make a great candidate for marriage? Think … You would jump on to say ‘Yes’ but think again!

It’s not about how great he is, it’s about how great he thinks you are. If he doesn’t care about you and your career, doesn’t matter how good he is, it is not going to make it a worth-while relationship. Don’t jump to the first guy you have dated.

Even if he is the one, it is a great idea to discuss your priorities and work if it is important.

In case you are ambitious in your career, he should be aware of those goals and what you want to do in life. He may not agree to all and that’s fine. Disagreements are a way of life. If you can work through your disagreements, relationships would be stronger.

One should understand his priorities too. Both the priorities should match. If it differs wide, no matter what the guy says, just quit. That relationship is a recipe for failure.

Understanding work environment, aspirations and supporting the work life is important for the spouse. There would be many times when women are encouraged to quit – soon after marriage (love of homemaking is shortlived), pregnancy, children and grown-up children.

A partner may not be perfect, but encourages you to fulfil your dreams is a lot more valuable than your fantasy prince! Marriage can offer you a lot more happiness and fulfilment if you find the right guy.

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The significance of “4pm chai” in Indian context!

indian tea4 pm chai(tea) has a special significance in Indian culture. Many people would ask, why Indians eat their dinner late? And the reason is that we have a mid-meal break which is not there in other cultures (probably). And the nature of the mid-meal is such that it explains why the majority of Indians have (spoiled) spicy taste buds.

What is the significance of this 4 pm Chai? I remember this 4 pm chai during growing up years when my dad would wake up from a nap, and ask for chai. And with chai, would come pakodas, or poha or sooji halwa or some sort of snacks, that is not only filling but amazingly tasty. That 4 pm chai could be with all the family members, neighbours or visitors. That is a nice cool way bonding time for Indians.

When I moved to college, again there was 4 o clock tea – a break where all college mates would gather around canteen and drink adarak -wali (ginger tea/masala) special chai. The discussions happened during chai time was valuable and interesting. Chai time group was always changing and anyone could join. We won’t see our batchmates for lunch or dinner but this was the time that everyone would come together and talk.

The same culture continued when I joined the workforce and started going to an office. For lunches, some would bring from home, some would eat outside but around 4 pm, people start gathering in front of the office to have chai and bread pagodas to a roadside vendor. Initially, I never used to go. I thought it was a waste of time. But then after a point, it felt like I am missing being part of an ‘unofficial’ gang. And then people would come back and talk in references to something they discussed during chai. The bonding that used to happen outside of office during chai time cannot happen in any office activity or team building organized by office. I had also noticed that some meetings used to happen around that tea vendor and I wondered why they would not take away the chai and have the meeting in the room? But this kind of behaviour is unique in India. It is something similar to the bonding that happens over smoking. I don’t smoke but I do drink chai. Chai drinking community is lot bigger than smokers.

Much later when I moved out, and started working with other cultures, and realized that every country has their own way of bonding (not official) with people. More advanced countries would pay more attention to efficiency and effectiveness in work environment but countries like India, South East Asia countries, relationships are valued and paid more attention than anything. Therefore, next time when you are dealing with Indians, try to bring him or her out for 4 pm chai. That would make him/her closer than any expensive lunches or dinners.

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Catalyst to Self-Motivation!

SelfMotivation

Courtesy: Google Image

Self Motivation is tough. How to keep yourself feel motivated when you have reached a certain stage of life? The zeal to achieve higher starts to rust. The dreams are getting buried under daily responsibilities. You feel chained and trapped. That’s the real test. The situation is same for everyone. Some know how to deal with it and stay focused but majority nose-dive.

I get my motivation from various sources. I cannot name each of them because there hasn’t been any consistency. Let’s say I am one of those people who gets ‘low’ easily but then goes back to normal with a blink of an eye. I hate sulking. I don’t like that downtime zone but then I am lucky that I can come back quick.

There have been many instances in life when I felt horrible. I couldn’t talk to anyone about my problems, of course for the sole reason of being judged. At one such instance, I discovered a speaker called Sandeep Maheshwari. He is a motivational speaker and youth in India follows him like a god. He was immensely popular in some parts of the country. I have watched nearly 90% of the videos and that’s a lot. The prolonged downtime was killing me and I had no one to turn to. This guy used to teach simple practical stuff that really helped in coping up that time.

Motivational videos are really one of the sources of my inspiration. Listening to TED talks is a favourite pass time. But there are days when I am not open to listening. Motivational talks sound like boring lectures. That is a real crisis for me.

There was another instance. I had just started working in Singapore. Getting into the workforce, meeting new colleagues, learning in a whole new environment and getting into a relationship. Everything was happening too fast and it was taking a toll on my emotional health. At times changes are good and exciting but then the next moment ‘good’ turns into ‘bad’ and then úgly’. My job was not good and my new relationship was on the rocks (same guy I got married to, 3 years later). Being away from family and not having many close friends in a foreign country could be tough when you are dealing with your low point. None of my old tricks was working. That’s when I discovered a tv series that used to come on Sony “Mahi’s Way”. (I can be inspired by anything which can obnoxiously ridiculous).

Mahi Way was a story about a girl in Delhi who lived in the posh area (Def Col) and used to work for a fashion magazine. She was the smart, intelligent and confident girl who loved herself but at times due to her overweight, she had to deal with her family or office guys. I am not sure why but I was hooked on to that series. Every day I glued to television at the same time for the telecast of next episode. I don’t think I was relating to the journey of that girl but it felt like I was just happy for her. It was similar to the underdog story and who doesn’t love that!

The reason I felt like sharing this story was that I found the same series on Netflix and I felt so good. I am watching the series again. After so many years, with two kids, her story still tickles my happy memory.

My source of inspiration changed with time. But the only fact stays same is the ‘eccentricity’.

Don’t be scared of downtime. In fact, this is the time when I pamper myself by doing something that usually I won’t do. I try to be strict on myself with a certain set of discipline but then as soon as low point hits, I give some slack. It helps me recover.

What’s your trick? Don’t forget to share.