Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cherishing Neela Paati

An ode to the lady who was my third parent.

Clean, perfectly groomed and the lingering perfume of Afghan snow. That's how I remember my grandma.
My grandparents lived with us so when I think back on the 'parenting' I had its hard to remember something that my grandma was not involved in.

She was the cool grandma who approved of my jeans. Who let me sleep late on weekends. She was so intelligent that if they had girls only schools back in her day I'm sure she'd be a Supreme Court judge or an IAS officer.

She taught me some things that have become a part of me. She taught me to keep a clean kitchen, when i see my kitchen counter dirty, I shudder because I can see her with a disapproving look on her face. She taught me how to crochet and knit, when I finish a baby sweater I can see her smiling proudly. She passed on to me her green thumb, when I see my little pots flower and bloom I can picture her nodding in approval. Most importantly, she taught me that you can be a small person but still stand taller than everyone. She had the will power of 20 people put together.

It's been 4 months since she passed away in her sleep, 90 years of age. Her will power played out till the very end. Her biggest fear was being bed ridden, to have a nurse care for her, to no longer be independent. The very day that they had a nurse come to care for her she decided enough was enough and passed in her sleep. I'd like to think she's happy, pain free watching over us.

I love you Paati and I will miss you forever. But I wont be sad, I will cherish the time we had and celebrate your life every time I'm reminded of you

The last day I spent with Paati

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Corporate Choirsters

Why and how I learnt more about team work as part of my office choir than I did from my day job. (And why it pays when companies invest in their people)

I've been interviewing a lot lately. And as a part of this preparation I ask myself all kinds of questions from my CV. My husfriend told me to also look at the 'Extra' section and be ready to talk about it. The 'Extra' bit is the bit we think no one reads or cares about. The bit in the end with your hobbies and extra curricular activities.

I looked there and right on top I'd added a line about being part of the Office Choir and winning runners up in the Office choir of the year contest. What did I learn from here? I wondered. And realised I learnt a lot more about 'team work' than from my regular day job!

A few things that really struck me:

Cliche alert: There is no ME in team.. How many times I've cringed when I heard that. But in the choir it cant be more true! If the audience can hear your voice above the others, it means you are doing something very wrong. Harmony is the keyword here.

Everyone has their place, and unless you give a 100% nothing of value will come out of your effort. A Soprano cannot sing both their and the Alto parts together. Each person has a skill, a strong point and they play on it and trust the others to do their bits. Listen to each other, know exactly where to come in, if not you have one ear shattering mess.

Your ego has no place in a team- or a choir. Especially being an office choir where none of us were professional singers, there were some of us who were trained from a very young age, some of us who could not read music. Some of us were there with an agenda- to win against all odds, some of us were there for the experience, just to have fun. It didn't matter if you were an Alpha personality or a wallflower, you cant shine alone nor can you fade away in the background. You have to swallow your pride and be willing to learn. You have to remind yourself not to be overbearing and demanding of others. There had to be a halfway point, where we all came together, irrespective of our agendas or personalities.

In a group of almost 20 musically inclined people there will be creative differences. Its what we do with these differences that determine whether we sink or swim.

In the end we won, together, as a team and I couldn't be more proud!

Click here for the highlights of our 'teamwork'

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Big Picture

She read softly aloud to herself, for the umpteenth time. As she scanned the screen she spotted one unfamiliar word and the panic started building up again. ‘Oh god I can’t remember what that is now’ she thought  to herself as she quickly opened another window to do a search. She’d spent the last hour or so like this, anxiously flitting about from one page to another, one set of interview questions after another.

She looked at the time on the corner of her screen, 20 mins more. She was still coming to grasps that she was going to be interviewed for a new role. This was going to be a huge step up if she got it. And thus started the days of anxious studying and preparing. She hadn't interviewed in 3 years and she felt rusty.

No amount of studying seemed enough. Her stomach twisted and turned and her mouth went dry as the mins ticked closer to the time. 'Ok enough I'm not going to learn anything new now, I need to calm down' she thought to herself. She was nauseated from the anxiety.

15 mins more. She could see the interview room from where she sat. The manager who was going to interview her sat a few rows away and she could see his head if she stretched. No point in going there too early. She decided to read the news for the next 10 mins and then walk into the interview room.

After all the important headlines, at the bottom a picture of a little boy caught her eye. There was something sickly yet strong about him that drew her attention. 'Terminally ill child declares that he wont continue treatment'. She read about how a 10 year old boy who'd been suffering from cancer for most of his life had decided that he no longer wished to do hospital trips and treatments that were not working. He declared publicly that he wished to spend whatever little time he had doing things he loved. Then came a few lines where the mother expressed her heartbreak but decided that she had to respect his wishes and not let him suffer any more. It was so sad. 10 year old boys making such big decisions, and a mother unselfishly letting her son die rather than suffer some more and then die. He looked so brave in the picture.

Oh my god she thought to herself. She had a wonderful life, and here she was making herself sick with anxiety. So what if she didn't get the job? Nothing! Nothing life altering really. Sometimes in the petty first world problems that we face, we really tend to loose sight of the big picture. She sighed and said a little prayer for the boy.

She then walked into the interview room, calmer than ever. With a confident smile on her face.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

For better or for worse..

Three years ago a bright eyed girl smiled a lot as the man she was in love with tied the knot.

The man she'd fallen madly in love with.

For better or for worse they promised each other as they walked round and round a fire.

What she had then was a best friend for whom she had endless love. Endless she thought then. And surely it grew bigger and bigger everyday.

There were days of better and then there were days of worse. So many feelings, some win and some lose.
Of the ones that stayed, a strong feeling endured. Familiarity? She wondered, no it's more than that for sure.

A couple of years came and went pretty quick. Trust? Was that it? Yes trust, an unshakeable trust, she didn't know when it came but it was there now along with the love that always seemed to grow.

But there was more, she couldn't put her finger on it. The couple grew a little older together and wiser by a bit. All around the world they wandered arms knit.

Another year went by, and one day while missing him she realised how big the love had grown. How many storms the trust had borne.

And then suddenly she realised what that other feeling was! It wasn't new, always there but this year, his toil and achievements had made this other feeling win, over all others (maybe sometimes tie for first place with love?)

Respect. That's it! Thats the one, she thought, and smiled, with a lot more reasons to do so, than that day three years ago.