Category Archives: non-fiction

What We Can All Learn From The Solar Eclipse?

It was that type of an event where a gaggle of women working out together pulled out their phones in the middle of a workout to check the weather for. The solar eclipse was a big deal. And as the astronauts, scientists and regulars like me cheered, the philosopher in me also chimed in with an emphatic yes, yes it was great, and I hope most people in and around its path took a moment’s pause. Yes, I hope we thought about what the solar eclipse meant not just in the grand, scientific manner but in life in general. With my philosopher hat on, witnessing the moon eclipse the enormous Sun taught me a few lessons.

All darkness is transient

Darkness falls and it moves away. In life, when the going gets tough and it feels like we cannot take the darkness another second, remind yourself darkness will travel out as hurriedly as it rushed in. Hang in there.

The enormity of life

Our lives revolve around a tiny sphere. Ever stood under the shadow of a giant mountain and felt small? Well, the solar eclipse reminded us of world outside of our tiny troubles consisting of real objects in motion, and how do such large bodies in motion maintain such order? How close are we to chaos, after all?

There are things beyond our understanding

It is okay to admit to blind spots and to realize so much of our own life is outside of our own control. It is easy to feel the control when focusing on objects around us, finding the right job, tackling work problems, finding the right life partner, but in the grand scheme of things, really, are we the masters?

Something so small can eclipse something so large

How can the little stuff bother great humans for life on end? A tiny Moon, 400 times smaller than the Sun, is capable of eclipsing it, taking from it its light, its power even if for a few moments. Conversely, never judge a person by how less they have. A small person can move great things by doing the right thing at the right time. Nobody is too small to succeed. If the small pebbles can hurt the most, small efforts can pay off big dividends.

So I will thank the solar eclipse of 2017 for reminding me how small I am compared to the grand scheme of the universe and lending a unique perspective to me, one that I will carry close to my heart as I get ready to face a new day in the morning.

 

 

 

Silent Conversation With God

Without a sighting or a hearing
Without a clue, I still believe
I believe you are out there, my God
For in the middle of turmoil, I see a sliver of hope

I fight with you for wants small and large
And sometimes, I admit it is hard to believe
In something that shows itself to none
Is a mystery for the intelligent and gullible, all in one

But I believe you are out there
For when I look back, I know the future
My worries of past feel misplaced now
For in hindsight, every missing piece fell in place

And if it did in the past, the future is safe and secure
Chaos will continue and so will your order
A big sigh, a light heart, yes, my God, I believe
It is all destined to be.

What we can learn from coffee and tea drinkers?

Once upon a time, I would look at tea/coffee drinkers with a furrowed brow. For the greater part of my life, I have been an avid water drinker. I socially drank “the tea” or “the coffee,” but it was never a necessity of my day until recently.

A tea drinker’s day works like a clockwork. When the tea hour strikes, their senses heighten, they smell the imaginary aroma and hunt for a drop of its taste, a behavior I termed as “an addict behavior.”

Until I succumbed to its sweet bosom myself. When I had my third child, sleep was a rare commodity, and coffee kept me going. Now, I truly can appreciate my daily tradition, one of sitting down and sipping coffee. For those on the other side of the fence, there are lessons we can learn from the tea and coffee drinkers of the world. I know because I have lived in both worlds.

  1. Learn to take a pause
    Days come and vanish at a lightening speed. Daily tasks keep us wound. But tea drinkers stoop to their habit, cut the cycle of chores, and take a pause to reach for that cup, sit down and relish its taste. A pause is a necessary barrier of an endless stream of life.
  2. Relax
    There is something relaxing about a hot beverage. The daily habit pays by delivering subconscious relaxation.
  3. Socialize
    It is a great way to socialize.
  4. Create dreams on paper
    Coffee/tea is writers’ choice of beverage. To me, coffee belongs next to a pen and gets the creative juices flowing. Words bubble on paper and take meaningful form with each warm and sweet gulp.I do not regret jumping on the tea/coffee drinker’s bandwagon.

 

How to unwind at the end of a busy work day?

iamge

A bad day is an inessential ingredient of an over-stimulated brain that disallows a quiet nighttime sleep. All you need is an over-active, busy day to stay awake or toss in your sleep into the wee hours of the night unless you are a sleep-deprived parent like me who can sleep through a storm.

The recipe of unwinding also seems elusive. Positive thoughts therapy fails. Deep breaths feel useless. So, how do you unwind the tape of daily past events?

I have discovered a few evening habits help me unwind. Sharing the same with my fellow readers. Maybe, we can compare notes.

  1. Play/Laugh like a child Just like a good cry, a hearty laugh goes a long way in letting it all out. I have to apply the same tactic to help my toddler blow off steam when he gets frustrated on being unable to use words to express the strong feelings inside his heart. We roll on the floor until our eyes tear up. At the end of it, I do not know if it is therapy for the little guy or his mother. When he grows up, I will have to use a more mature tactic to continue to laugh and play because he will be too old to roll on the floor.
  2. Read a great book Only a book has the power to transplant you away from your misery into an alternate reality. Book is better than TV because a reader along with the writer joins in the imagination of the scenes. Read.
  3. Writing Only activity better than reading a book in my mind is reading your own! Writing your story is like reading a book while it is forming, line-by-line. Vent out on paper. It works wonders.
  4. Hot Shower My most creative ideas for writing come in the shower. It helps wind down as well.
  5. Gardening/Watering the plants There is a calmness around watching a flower bloom, nourishing it out of soil. It is a great way to end a day.
  6. Hugs I am blessed with three little ones. Our evenings involve joint, giant hugs. I will take my daughter and rock with her. It is enough to expel all the negative energy inside me.
  7. Pray/Meditate I am not big on religion. But I am thankful I was raised to pray that now I am adult, praying is second nature. When I lack prayers for myself, I pray for others. It heals the spirit.

 

Those are my methods of winding down. What are yours?

Vacation Right

IMG_00021 IMG_00051

There is a lovely paradox surrounding a vacation, the hunger for it and the anxiety of it. This love like the other “person-to-person” love comes with a dent.

The paradox begins while packing for a long, much-anticipated vacation. The stress of packing the right gear…at least for those of us who do not have a genie or a paid help or a super-organized person who loves us dearly and has the time to pack for us.

Surviving the packing challenge, leads to the second layer of the paradox. As you fly above the clouds, there is a longing for the comfort of the home you left behind – the smell of cocoa, if you will, the touch of your mattress or the luxury of having everything at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. We leave it behind to live from a suitcase in hope of a better, grander place. We hope the flight above the clouds will land us on to something spectacular and powerful enough to expel our pain and our sufferings in one happy jolt or a slow-absorbing tonic. But what if the lofty expectation fails to deliver?

But it will fail to deliver, certainly.

Because the expectation of bliss is based on a faulty premise.

Lo and behold, the plane touches down and life remains, life. A clap of lightening and a roaring thunderstorm welcomes us, or if the sun is shining brilliantly, something happens with the reservation we thought we made months ago, or you know, life happens.

The expectation surely fails to deliver because we cannot run away from life.

And as expectation meets grim reality, the beauty of a vacation takes hold and reveals the real reason why we vacation and wait for it.

We vacation to spend time with the people we love twenty-four seven. Period.

We vacation to notice, I mean really notice, the smile of a loved one with undivided attention. Period.

We vacation to fall in love again not with Earth but with people we hold dearest to us. Period.

And if we are lucky, in the middle of our vacation (the right way) with our kids, or our parents, or our friends, or people that fit in no neat bucket, sometimes, just sometimes, the clouds part to reveal the beautiful, blue skies, the lakes, and the snow covered peaks. And you behold them with your loved ones. Without them, the view is barren. And with them, even cloudy skies are breathtaking.

So “Vacation Right.” Vacation to fall in love with people again and to never take them for granted in the hum drum of existence. Vacation Right.

How Nanowrimo Changed my Life?

My life changed November of 2016. I read Chris Baty’s book called, “No Plot? No Problem.” It taught how to write a book in a month. I would spit out a short story in six months if I got lucky.

“Must be too good to be true,” I suspected.

It was one of the twenty books stashed on my desk in hope of bettering my writing and making a storyteller out of a struggling writer. I was littered with comments such as, “English is not your first language, right?”

Truth of the matter remained English was the only language I knew from the time I started beading words into raw emotions. My fellow classmates in India were masters in grammar in three languages, English included. I struggled in all languages in the nineties and now after spending years in America. Being fascinated by words was insufficient to fix my grammar issues. I still butcher my grammar, but a key fundamental transformed with Chris Baty’s book.

Months prior to November, I had struggled producing five thousand words for a fiction writing workshop. Chris Baty’s book held my hand each week providing therapy for negative feelings inside my heart as I wrote without a solid plot and only a meager outline. Each week, the book prescribed exercises to get the creative juices flowing.

And I, a no body, with broken command of the language, wrote.

I, the world’s sorest writer, wrote.

“I” wrote.

The book taught me to FINISH. I hold completing projects you start an utmost priority. Did my first draft suck? It sure did. It bled plethora of complicated tribulations on my computer screen. Did it hide my grammar problem? It highlighted it. But I walked away from the experience, feeling accomplished.

It used to be a dream to make a living doing something I cherished. I no longer care for the money.

Although, I am unpublished on a steady path of rejections as I compete with multitude of manuscripts from far superior authors with better command of the language who never get to hear, “English is your second language?” type of a feedback, I am still a proud author of three books (besides being a mother of three,) unpublished but manuscripts completed with satisfaction.

And all this became possible because of Nanowrimo. I am indebted to it for life.

 

Why Companies Should Hire Mothers?

Pic

 

Our worlds are rife with complications and stress. Sometimes we have great ideas but lack the great partnerships we need to forge ahead. And, in the middle of an uncertain world demanding certain outcomes, when we have an employee that needs to be away on extended family leave, it can feel like a liability especially if your company is small or in a precarious financial predicament.

Now, meet me, a mother of three small children who constantly need my attention. If you come to my home, you will find sticky cereal on the ground, screaming kids dashing from room to room, and potentially me with crazy mother hair and bloodshot eyes.

I am also a writer. I have written three fiction books even though I am unpublished and have yet to rear my head above water to pursue publishing.

I am also a coach and a project manager by day. I relish every second of my job where I get to interact with people from different backgrounds, solve problems that feel unsolvable, and resolve conflicts when there is no agreement in sight.

And, I love my life. If I could find a fourth passion, I would. I do not think being a mother of three, having a full-time job, and a burning passion that keeps typing at my keyboard at night is a liability at all – it is fortune.

But, I did not always feel this way.

When I was inexperienced in balancing work-life – life with children, when I was expecting my first child, I wondered how my life would unfold, if I could handle being a good mother and be good at my job at the same. There were occasions I stepped away from opportunities doubting I could give it my all. And, when I think about myself back then, I laugh. I was naïve. And, if you as an employer feel like my naïve self, unsure how big of a liability mothers are, think twice.

I am wiser today because I know what I bring to the table which I did not before having my kids. Here are some reasons companies could use mothers (or fathers for that matter) of how much ever experience.

  1. Mothers are great conflict resolvers

Children are notorious for fighting over petty things. And, a parent witnesses this on a routine basis. It is not a wasted skill because at work conflicts are prevalent as well even though adults fight in a different manner. The conflict resolution skill is honed and polished daily by parents.

  1. Mothers are patient

Ever sat at a dining table and watched someone eat at a snail’s pace half-hour after you are done? That counts for three meals a day for parents.

Ever coached a person, and you have learnt over time, that coaching isn’t always one time advice, it is repeated instruction that is cultivated over a painstakingly long time?

Selflessness associated with taking care of another human being who is entirely dependent on you emotionally and physically is a unique lesson and the patience virtue it endows is invaluable.

  1. Mothers are great multi-tasker

Multi-tasking is routine for a parent. Juggling and succeeding is an art learned, in my humble opinion, in world’s most difficult job – being a parent and raising a child.

  1. Mothers heal and are great counselors

From ice packs, to Band-Aids at their fingertips to snuggling in bed, listening to a child confide about their problems at the playground during recess, healing and counseling does not end in the confines of parenthood, it transcends to work.

  1. Mothers are creative problem solvers/managers

Ever had an associate that needs to be occupied every second of every minute of the day? Meet a parent who turns a dining table into a fancy craft station, paper into flying jets, pasta loops into necklaces – mothers know how to think outside of the box.

  1. Mothers do not take things personally

After a million conflict resolutions amongst people who love each other tremendously, after witnessing a million errors, after a million pitfalls and aftermaths, things a novice would spend a sleepless night over, a parent shrugs off and laughs it off as trivial. In the grand scheme of things, where nothing tops love and selflessness, it takes trivial out of focus.

 

  1. Mothers love their work in a new way

It is a perspective – leaving the people you love the most at a daycare, in someone else’s care with tears streaming down their faces, and driving yourself to work – be it for four hours or ten, that work better be damn good, and damn enjoyable else what is the point? Yes, I need the paycheck but if you have checked the costs of early daycare and college, you will understand a paycheck can only be so high, but if the work does not live up to the heart of a parent, they will not be coming there every day. It is a perspective that taught me how to burn 400 calories in twenty-five minutes at the gym – because those twenty-five minutes was all I could afford, and I had to make those twenty-five minutes the best I could. I apply the same philosophy to work.

Lastly, I will say, I know I wrote this article about mothers because they bear the nine-month gift of pregnancy and the immediate aftermath of labor and delivery but the qualities above apply to all the hardworking, hands-on fathers all the same.

Next time, you think of mothers or future mothers as liability – Think twice.

Why want everything when you can have one key thing?

I stood behind a long frozen queue of heads rocking my newborn.  When my turn came, the lady on the other side of the glass glanced through my pile of official papers with keen dexterity.

“Is that all you have?” she asked.  I nodded with another question, “What more do you need?  Answer-less, she pointed me towards a seat propelling me into an endless abyss of wait.  In the shadow of hours that floated by, whispers rose to higher pitch.  People began to march to the window, furious, some sufficing with fuming looks, others roaring at the young lady.

“I am just doing my job” she would respond timidly.

Finally when my turn came, a male officer stood beside the young lady, sifting through my papers-birth certificates, school-leaving certificates, the only remnants of my childhood scribbled in ink on paper.  He was still dissatisfied as though not seeing what he desired to give me his stamp of approval.  He asked me a series of questions, in response to which I pulled out yet another certificate of my grades from high school.  With a perplexed look, he asked, “why didn’t you provide this before?”

“Because you asked for ‘all I have’ and I didn’t know what that meant!” I let my stare meet his.

Why couldn’t the Consulate where I had spent an entire day just give me a list of documents they needed?  This outward experience of mine propelled me into an inward tirade of thoughts about my own desires over the span of my life.

Aren’t we all, to some degree, similar in wanting everything?  We want it all in our lives, career, family/friends, house, etc.  And in obtaining everything, who knows, we may get the one thing we truly desire!

Truth be told, there is always something missing, for a working woman on an overseas trip, she may carry the trepidation of the welfare of her kids hidden in her heart.  Or the thorn that pricks a homemaker’s heart is one of a career abandoned, even if for the time being.  That is the harsh reality of our worlds, for every achievement there is always a road that’s left behind.  That is what everything entails – things we have, and things we do not.

But how do you realize what you really want in life?  Especially, when wanting “everything” is cluttered with so many conflicting desires.  And, how important is it to siphon it out?

My experience taught me a lesson that I hold dear.  Wanting everything can be misleading, even to your own heart.  Focusing on one or two ambitions is the key to success.  That helps you to cherish what you are pursuing and “give the moment at hand” your very best, remorse free.  It helps you to look ahead instead of pandering to every road not taken.  It de-clutters your chest of desires so only the important few remain.  And, it gets simpler to grasp the chosen few without risk of distractions from the unimportant wants.

What often needed is a reset.  The following habits can help.

  1. Take a break
    It was a crisp day in March.  At lunch time, a bunch of us sat enjoying the warmth of precious winter sun in outside patio.  It also happened to be my first day at the job.  A fellow colleague sat next to me.  That day happened to be his last at the company.  When I asked him where he was headed to next, I fully expected a response one where he would tell me the name of the new company or try to hide it.  But I was not prepared for the response.
    “Nowhere; Just taking a break.” he responded calmly.
    I reconfirmed just to be sure.  His confidence unsettled me.  He was doing something I could never get my dutiful mind to do.  I lived my life by the book-go to college, get your degree and job, get married-you know how the story goes.  I charred in silent envy for I lacked the courage to reset my life.A break necessarily does not have to involve quitting your job, it could be a long vacation; it could be things you do in a day.  For instance, within the boundaries of a day, a break may be spending alone time at a lake watching the water shimmer away.

    In my last semester in college, heavy in debt and income-less, my aim was very clear.  My aim was to become debt-free, to be in a position where I paid my bills on time never having to worry at the first of the month if my rent check would bounce again.  When our survivor instincts are high, it is easy to see what you want.We live in a perfect society where we are pressured to be perfect parents, be perfect partners, etc.  Sometimes it takes losing the anchors we put in for ourselves and let ourselves free fall to meet our inner self again, which takes me to point number 2:
  1. Allow Failure
    A friend of mine, a hard worker, fresh out of college landed herself a contract as a techie at a small telecom company. She felt lost at the job, the environment was hostile.  A couple of months later they let her go.  She described that day with painful precision of how she was escorted out of the building in a matter of minutes.  Knowing her, despite being unhappy at the job she would have never left by herself.  In hindsight, the company letting her go was the best thing that could have happened to her.  It gave her downtime to reflect on what she really wanted in her life.  And, she came out of it stronger and happier.  The experience taught her it is OK to say no to certain jobs, that she can choose even if it takes time.  She went on to make great strides in her career since.
  2. Persist
    Once you do pick a road, stay on it.  It is easy to keep resetting your life again and again especially when you successfully kill the fear of failure from your heart.  You learn from your mistakes and pivot but do not give up on your dream.

So, to my fellow human beings, life-long dreamers, good luck in finding your true desires and be fearless in the journey to pursue them.

 

Tread Gently, My Mir

IMG_3786

Not like a mother doting with love
More like a lover afraid to indulge the heart
That pines away in secret love affair
Writing a thousand love letters
Stashed away in wooden drawers

Overworked paparazzi with a fancy camera lens
Shuttering, Stuttering, opening and closing
Noting each smile, each frown
Breaking and unbreaking my heart in a million pieces
Waiting around the corner for your next move
A tear waiting to drench the cheek

So, just like that wordless, nameless, countless lover
My Mir, my knight in shining armor
Keeping me awake into the night
You danced away in pious grace
Tread carefully, my love, my mir

You may not see the veiled admirer
Being killed with an innocent smile of yours
Bruised with the sheer intensity of love
My Mir, my buddy, my loving treasure
Tread Carefully, my Mir
I love you beyond hearts can imagine

Live Well, My Mir
And when you go out there
Remember your first follower
Will be loving you endlessly for times to come
So, tread carefully, My Mir
I am so in love with you!

10 Funny Traits of Indians

No matter the country, or the nook or corner of this dispersed world we live in, no matter how diverse and unlike one another, there seem to be an invisible thread that ties people of India together in habits that survive generation after generation. Here is a made-to-smile list of 10 traits that binds Indians in harmony with each other.

We do not say no

Especially when it comes to committing to time, we always say yes. Forget about expecting to hear things just the way they are from an Indian. It is not in our nature to say no, even when no it is from far, far away, we are people pleasers at heart. We prefer to hush down our grievances quietly. We are the keepers of the hearts, the masterminds behind the power of efforts to make time no matter how difficult the time commitment is.

But we are late a lot

In our lives magically things go wrong as soon as we commit to a time. Children take longer naps, traffic piles up on road, phone rings, and anything else that can go wrong, goes wrong. These mishaps have been happening to us for so long that we are expected to be late. If miraculously we reach Indian events on time, the hosts too are not ready. So, we embrace our fate and never question it. We feel lucky in the middle of chaos. We do not try to inform of our tardiness, we expect that people expect it.

We eat dinner late

We laugh at westerners who eat at 6, our tea and snack time. We are hardworking people who work late into the evening. We enjoy our dinner at 9, even 10 at night.

We sleep late

So what we eat dinner late. We also sleep late. We party till late.

We start our day late

We reach work after broad day light. Our need to party at night compels for a morning that is laid back. We get hung over without an ounce of liquor. We are fun loving chilling type.

Our no gesture is same as yes

Ever ask an Indian a question and received the classic nod of the head from side to side and a “Uh-huh”? Then you have experienced another classic Indian trait. Our yes and no sound alike. We expect you to understand and read our minds as we do for each other. Ah that “uh-oh” is a yes, and that other one is a no.

We don’t fancy system

We have befriended chaos. We are familiar with lack of system. System to us is mechanical machine-like order that stresses our otherwise carefree heart. We cannot withstand so much order, a little mishap we love. It keeps our feet grounded and our hearts humble.

We are social fund raisers

Turning normal get together into kitty parties, we collect money to organize more fun, and gifts. We love to exchange gifts like no other community in the world. A friend of a relative of a friend, got engaged? Hooray! Time to collect funds for the next gift card. Friend of a friend moving out of town? Time for a farewell, and a farewell gift, here comes the fund collecting basket.

We love the dance and music and loud colors

It is no wonder Indian movies involve dancing in all corners of the world be it mountain side of Switzerland or deep blue lakes of ladakh, we know how to party with loud music, songs, dancing, and colorful clothes.

We treat our guests like Gods

Only expect an Indian to give up their master bedroom for their guests. Hospitality comes naturally to most of us.

Stereotypes have a quality to them. Some of us may have broken these light hearted stereotypes but there just are a few idiosyncrasies that are Indian forever. So next time an Indian says yes and is hours late, shrug it off and smile.