Being Awesome In 2016 !

awesome 2016

Yes, I know, it’s a little too late to be writing a “New Year Post”. But there was just no way this one could have been written earlier. I have to confess, the title of the post is something I have borrowed from my mentor, who refuses to be named. She is working with a group of us and came up with this idea of creating a group working together to hone our skills which she called “2016, Year of awesomeness!”

I was so struck with the idea of devoting a year to becoming awesome, that I decided to make it my personal theme for the year as well. And since planning awesome things is so intrinsically linked with actually doing awesome things, there was no way I could have written about this year before the awesome things started happening.

Has the year been awesome? You bet it has! Right from day one! What better way to spend the first day of the year than with friends old and new; laughing your guts out and dancing like crazy? A trip to Hyderabad to spend New Year with my daughters ended up as a gourmet’s fantasy. Biryani, Khabsa, Mandi, even Rajma Chawla took on a different flavour!

The evening was crazy with Debashish’s cooking and Sneha beating us hands down at dancing with her fabulous steps. Not that any of us were far behind! We even had a stand up or rather a sit down comedian. Anurag had us in splits at the way he narrated the most mundane anecdotes and got us howling with laughter. Yes. It was a lovely beginning to the year!

poetry tuesday

The first Tuesday of the month saw me at the Poetry Tuesday as usual. This is one of the places I absolutely love to be, meeting other poets and writers, listening to what they have written, having them listen to what I have written! Oh it is heady stuff! I never cease to thank Anish Vyavahare for coming up with the idea of having this in Thane. It really adds that awesomeness to my year every month. If you are a poet or a writer or would just like to hear some good stuff that is being written come over and join us.

alphabet sambar

Another dream came true this year. I had been in touch with Ramya Pandyan, or the Idea-smithy for sometime now and had been trying to make it to Alphabet Sambar.(See my post on writers who inspire me.) And then out of the blue, Anish announces that Alphabet Sambar is happening in Thane and I am like “What? Where? When? OMG?” and just like that on the 9th of January, I attended a session at Café Verve. It was awesome listening to a whole new genre of writing and being critiqued on my writing as well. You can find out more about Alphabet Sambar here.

Since I had decided that this would be my year of learning and interaction, I attended two workshops organised by ITC, International Trainer’s Conclave. The first was on building your Vision Board . It was conducted by Ami Sheth and what I liked that she emphasized the fact that we had to draw it ourselves, no cutting out and sticking pictures.vision board She encouraged us to dip our fingers into the paint and splash it on the page. It was really liberating. We felt like kids, with no inhibitions and let our hearts speak.

The second workshop was on e-learning conducted by Mr. Milind Mangle. It was something I thought of attending as I am contemplating shifting some of the courses I conduct to the virtual platform and it is always nice to learn something new. Though the session was a good enough introduction to e-learning, what amazed me was how many friends I made and how many people were really interested in learning how to write.

I realised that I really do something that not a lot of people do; I write! And I am good at it! And not only am I good at writing! I am good at helping others write as well!

And if that isn’t what makes for a truly awesome 2016, what does?

Writers who inspire me

blogging

From the first time I read ‘Little Women’, I was convinced that I was Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Jo’ in some past life. And when I found out that Miss Alcott’s birthday was on the same day as mine, the 29th of November, I was utterly convinced we were part of the same great soul.  And so there was no choice; I was destined to be a writer. It was my “maqsad” in life, my raison d’etre. I had to write. And I loved it! Right from the age of 12, writing is what kept me going. It kept me sane, through all the rough patches in life. It held me together. It made me live.

Just as every writer has other writers who inspire her, so did I. For a long time, I lived in my fairy tale tower where the writers that inspired me were people I had never met or interacted with. I only read their books and wished, “Wow! I wish I could write like them!”

And then I discovered blogs! And real writers! In flesh and blood! And they became my heroes.

I would like you to meet some of them. Just ordinary people, living ordinary lives, yet so very extraordinary. People you can interact with; comment about their work; exchange emails and become friends with.

There’s  Corinne Rodrigues. I met her through a post of a friend on Facebook. I followed the link to her blog Everyday Gyaan and liked what I read. Corinne gives me my dose of sensible. She gives me caring and love and that warm cup of chai feeling. She appeals to that part of the writer in me that is the mother, the nurturer, the friend, the light.

Then there is The Idea- smithy or Ramya Pandyan. My friend, Steve Yi, suggested that I read her blog and sent me the link. Needless to say, I was hooked. She is completely different from Corinne. She writes about pain, she writes about anger, she writes about growth. Ramya’s writing is hard hitting. She minces no words. She tells it as it is. Raw and no band-aids. And you say, “Yes, I know. I have been there. I wish I had the guts to write about it as she does”

Tejas Harad is a soft spoken 24 year old, whom I have had the privilege of working with. Though he is soft spoken, his writing is not. His writings in Getting Loquacious reflect his passion against the ills in society, be it in the educational field or the socio-political. He is not afraid to air his views. His writings give me hope that the youth still have the fire to fight for the ideals they believe in.

Aamil Syed is another writer I follow. His post on “The meat of a cow and the blood of an innocent”, actually made me get out of my fear induced silence and write my post, “Am I worrying unnecessarily?

Gerald D’cunha is the husband of my friend, Anima. Yet, I started reading his blog when one of his students, who was also my student, suggested it to me. Gerry Sir, as he is fondly called, writes about everyday life. He can take the simplest thing, like an egg for breakfast, and turn it into a lesson for life.  His posts are easy to read and most of them put a smile on my face. (Sometimes he writes about sad things as well).

And so everyday when I wonder about whether I can write, or what I should write about, I just read these blogs and a couple more and then a voice inside me says, “Yes, you can write, about happiness, about sadness, about what you believe in, about everyday things, about things that matter.”

And another post gets done.

Thank you, all of you, for inspiring me, and keep making me want to write more!

Blind Love?

This is a post that was recently published on MissionSharingKnowledge.com. I wrote it because I was so fed up with the reaction of people to Aamir Khan’s interview. Here is a part of it

“I am sitting at my desk reading the various reactions to what Aamir Khan has said and I am laughing, not in an amused way, but in that horrified, “I can’t really believe this” sort of way.

But why am I horrified? I should be used to it by now. Everytime, everytime someone voices their concern about something that is wrong with our country, the brainless brigade is all out for blood.”

You can read the rest of the article here http://bit.ly/1QaFWp4

 

 

 

Not Minding My Own Business

 

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The train entered Ghatkopar station. It was the first class ladies compartment of the 9.30 Thane local. I had my nose buried in Robin Sharma’s latest book. I felt, rather than saw, a girl take the seat opposite me.

Suddenly I heard a joyful, “Oh it’s you!” and felt someone tap my hand to get my attention.

Startled, I looked up to see the girl smiling broadly at me.

“Yes?” I asked puzzled. Did I know her? She certainly acted as if she knew me.

Seeing my bafflement she said, “You don’t remember me, do you?”

“No, I’m sorry.” I answered, all the while scanning my memory for a trigger.

“But I will never forget you,” she said to my astonishment. “You changed my life.”

“I?” I asked in surprise, “and how did I do that?”

“It was about 2 years ago. I was the only one seated in the compartment and you entered,” she said, “I was sitting there alone and crying and instead of minding your own business, you spoke to me.”

“Oh yes. I remember now,” I said as I recalled that day.

When I entered the compartment that day two years ago, there was only one other occupant, a young girl who was sitting at the window, looking utterly miserable with tears flowing down her cheeks.

I glanced curiously at her and wondered, “Should I ask her what is wrong? Or should I just leave her alone?”

The voice of caution urged me to leave her alone, but she looked so miserable, that I decided to talk to her, and in any case, when had I ever listened to the voice of caution?

“What’s the matter?” I asked gently.

“Nothing,” she replied, wiping her tears and trying to smile.

“Then why are you crying? Sometimes talking to a stranger helps.” I smiled at her.

“No ma’am. It’s nothing. Just some problems with my colleagues at work.”

“And what did they do?” I asked.

“They just keep putting me down and making fun of everything I do. I just hate this job! I dread going in to work each morning.”

“Is this your first job?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

From the way she spoke, I gathered she couldn’t be more than 21 or 22, just fresh out of college. “Poor child!” I thought, “She’s got such a long way to go.”

“I can see how horrible you must be feeling,” I told her, “but tell me can you change their behaviour?”

“No ma’am,” she said, “how can I?”

“Then can you change how you feel about what they do?”

Startled, she looked up, “What ma’am?”

“Change how you react to them. Ask yourself why they are treating you so badly. I have generally found that people indulge in this kind of behaviour only when they are threatened by someone. Tell me, are you good at your job?”

“I think so ma’am,” she replied hesitantly.

“What does your boss say?”

“He always praises me.”

“See, that’s it. That’s why they are making fun of you.”

“But what can I do ma’am?”

“Well, the choice is yours. Either you lower your standard at work and wait for your colleagues to accept you or you can excel at whatever you do and climb so high that their hurtful actions and words can’t reach you. As Buddha once said, ‘If you don’t take what someone gives you, it remains with them.’ So if you don’t accept their hurtful comments and actions that pull you down, it remains with them and it can’t hurt you. And if you are doing your best and if you are doing the right thing, you are never alone. God is always on your side.”

“Now wipe those tears and give me a smile.” I ordered.

At that she smiled more confidently and said, “Thank you, I feel so much better now.”

“Good”, I said as I prepared to alight at my station, “Now go and make it a great day”

*                              *                              *                            *                          *

And now two years later, she was sitting in front of me again. But what a difference! She was so confident, so full of life!

I realised that she was still speaking to me, “That day you really made me realise that I didn’t have to allow other people to control how I feel. It is all up to me. I started concentrating on what I could do rather than on what people said I couldn’t do.”

“Now I am working at a much bigger and better firm, in a higher position and I’m earning much more too,” she smiled. “And I have to thank you for it. I am so glad you spoke to me that day.”

Then she got up and gave me an impulsive hug and walked to the door to get off at the next station.

As I waved at her through the window, I too was glad that I hadn’t minded my own business that day.

P.S. Corinne Rodrigues’ post, ‘The power of Kindness‘ on her site, Everyday Gyaan, reminded me of this incident that happened a couple of years ago when I was still part of the corporate world.