Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Shades of human

It had been a long day. A lot had transpired. I was filing my thoughts and planning for tomorrow. Other passengers had probably had their share of efforts and gratifications. And so there was very little activity at the boarding gate. An occasional cough, a soft murmer or a silent large yawn were the only distractions. 

All of sudden he came running down the escalator and frantically started searching; for what or whom no one knew but his panic was visible. As sudden was his appearance was his total pause, right in my face. He bent forward and from the back rest of my seat retrieved a scarf; a ladies hand woven scarf that I had kept there when sitting on the only empty seat I saw. With a smile and immense relief he walked away with his (or her) possession. Others went back to what they were doing but I kept staring at him.

What had caused his panic? Who did the scarf belong to? Why was his smile wider than the extent of his relief? The answers and the ensuing permutations and combinations can create myriad, very interesting tales. I could venture into some conjecturing but it may spoil, or stray your own storyline that has started taking shape, and so I am refraining. 

But if I can restraint myself from some momentary harmless conjecturing, then what causes me to bucket people in types and their behaviour in solid hues when a longer interaction can reveal otherwise... Just like numerous possibilities exist as cause of and context to the reaction of the man I encountered, there are as many circumstances and experiences that shape each one of us. Add to that individual desires, ambitions and hopes; and we have only shades of the spectrum and no single colour standing out. 

I hope that some day I will be able to solve the mystery of what drives the hearts and minds but until then let this be a resolve that I will enjoy the shades of the spectrum, even when I am keen to find one solid colour to paint the situation with. 

Signing off and hoping for a now delayed but not further postponed take off. 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

True to myself

Those who know me probably also know that jewellery and makeup are two areas where I have limited interest. Not that I don't wear either, but more that my use of both is limited. Of makeup far more than that of jewellery. Hence it was no surprise that I was resisting my sit down with the makeup artist pre the corporate film shoot. But well I also realised that the shoot was not about me and I had a responsibility to ensure that it was a success. So, I gave in, with caveats though. 

Oh, I am all for good grooming, pleasant presentation and smart appearances. Personally, what is tedious about make up is three fold - time consuming application,  ponderous procurement and elongated post use care rituals. All that takes up mind space and useful time. A gloss and a mascara, in my view suffice for most occasions and are my staples. I admire those who use makeup well, though as I lack the skill.

Anyway, back to the main discussion. I was quiet through the process and spoke only when I felt too much was being applied. Post, while the experts clearly said it was natural and colleagues were generous with compliments, when I saw the mirror I was frowning. This minimalistic makeup also looked caked up to my naked eyes. This was not me! The carefree me was worried about smudges. The easy me was listing the don'ts. The me was getting used to the layered me. 

What struck me was how the situation was similar to human interactions. A small veering away from the true self can be so energy consuming that it becomes exhausting. Focussing largely on what the other person may want or expect creates responses which may shadow the original and then keeping up becomes wearying. And just like no foundation and no concealer can completely cover the blemishes, no amount of put on behavior can hide the original attitude forever. 

So why is it that we are afraid of being who we are? Why do validations become so important that we let the true self hide behind masks? When is it that we will happily acknowledge that it is alright to be different and yet hold on to our dreams? Every colour has its own place in the spectrum, every flower is beautiful in its own way and every single star adds to the brightness of a dark night. If all these have their places secure why are human beings so insecure?

Friday, 25 August 2017


What is it about music that makes me want to breathe the notes, play the melody and dance to the composition? Why is it that music makes me want to dive like a dolphin, soar like an eagle and run like a doe? How can music easily make me blush like a teenager, smile like a bride and sleep like a baby? 

What is it that breathes life when music plays, I cannot comprehend. Why does life become sacred and special with music, I remain clueless. How can music infuse happiness and joy into life, my being marvels at the mystery. 

But without music life is meaningless, without music every achievement is incomplete and without music every joy a shade paler. While much has changed, these  aspects have remained constant; making it the one big truth of my life. And at least of this about music I am certain and convinced. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017


My closest friend from school days came home after many years and her immediate reaction was - " it feels so good to be back here in this house". Yes we spent a lot of time here - we shared secrets and joys, bounced from setbacks and failures, and we grew from young girls into young ladies. She is my constant - one who is there even when she is not. 

A few days later, as I was reading into the night, a friend sent a message - "Why are you up so late?" How did he know? I was puzzled! "Well, we were just driving past your building and saw that your lights were on. Please sleep." And peacefully sleep I did. I know for sure that just as he had looked out for me the day I had a severe migraine attack in college, he (actually now he and his wife) is still looking out for me. From a young lady to a woman, he has seen my journey. And its not my material or professional accomplishments that he is proud of, but he says he values the person that he sees in me. 

As I waited for mother and father in the foyer of the club, she called out and simultaneously caught hold of my hand. "This is you Tanushree! I have been thinking of you!"  I was stunned. She looked as young as she did as the Grade X class teacher. "Ma'am it's you. I have been wanting to meet you as well." A few minutes and a short conversation later she elicited a promise from me of a meeting in the first week of September. A promise I promise to keep. She not only taught me the science behind chemical reactions, but also what dignity means when surrounded by adverse actions. She may have been following my facebook activities but in all these years her silent blessings have been with me, of that today I am aware. From then to now she wants to see how the seed has groomed. I am anxious to pass the litmus test. 

Three people having three different histories with me walked through the garden of my life, all in one week, one after the other. While one is always present like the wind, another one is seasonal like the rain and yet another one is the occasional rainbow. Their associations maybe different but all three have contributed to me being who I am. And all three tell me that this is what home means. I may travel the world, but it is back here that I will find my true self. I may journey through enchanting forests, but it is here that I will find my reality. I may wish upon many a star, but it is here that I will find the strength to realise my dreams. Because this is where I started my journey. This is where my roots are. And this is where I will return to when the sun decides to set. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Needed - 12% Tax on Sanitary Napkins

When I put forth my thoughts on why a 12% tax on sanitary napkins and tampons is not discriminatory, I thought I was being logical and rationale. But then there were those who communicated their scepticism, their disbelief or simply a disagreement. Some of them are extremely intelligent and some are wonder women. And so I began to wonder if I could gather some numbers to highlight that a 0% tax on these products will probably not be sufficient to encourage their use. 

Based on Google research, facts and mathematics here is the data - 

Average cost of one sanitary napkin (SPC) = Rs 6.00
Cost without tax (0SPC) = Rs 5.36
Average number of pads used per month (#) = 17 (average of min 15 and max 20)
Total monthly cost of sanitary napkin use (SPC#) = Rs 102
Total monthly cost of tax free sanitary napkins (0SPC#) = Rs 91.12
Average income of a rural household for a family of 5 = Rs 5000. 

Assuming an equal split of the income for every member of the family, per rural woman we have Rs 1000 of monthly spend. For a monthly requirement of sanitary napkins the woman would thus need to shell out 9% -10% of her monthly income. That sounds unaffordable, especially when one considers that one kilogram staple food such as tomatoes or pulses could cost as much!

From an urban woman's stand point, a saving of Rs 10.88 every month represents 0.22% if she earns Rs 5000 monthly. 

So why shave tax off when it probably makes no difference to either set? Let me elucidate a bit more.

Notice that the tax of  Rs 10.88 can almost buy 2 sanitary napkins. The tax paid by 9 urban women can actually buy the monthly quota for one rural woman, but 2 sanitary napkins a month help neither one!

According to last census there were 106.916m women in the age bracket of 15-24 in India and 251.070m in 24-54. Rounding off, there are about 360m menstruating women in India. Of these 12%-20% use sanitary napkins. Tax collected on this sale could help an additional 4.8m - 7.8m women use sanitary napkins, which is 1% - 1.5% additional Indian female population!

Now we see things moving. 

If the government would contribute an equal amount to this we could have an additional 2% - 3% women having more hygienic facilities available. Corporate CSR and NGOs can help improve this number.

Schools are already being used as free distribution points, but girls get only 5 pads a month. So alternatively, with tax paid on sanitary napkins, we can now triple this grant and ensure they have enough for the entire month! When we inculcate awareness at a young age, we groom a healthier future with better prospects for national GDP.

The God or the devil, whichever be your pick, lies in the details. The numbers scream out for tax on sanitary napkins to be used to make this facility available for the ones who cannot afford it. That must become the endeavour of the urban, educated, sanitary napkin using women - to ensure that our government puts our money where the bloody need is!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Bleed to Lead, Breed and Succeed

I am a woman and my reality is that I bleed and breed. Equally is my reality that I lead and succeed; but that does not change the fact that I am a woman. I cannot own one and turn my back to the other. Both these aspects complete me just like heads and tails maketh a coin. So if I can walk the corridors of the corporate world, use logic and reasoning to make decisions and forge ahead why should I not use the same analytical skills to answer questions on discrimination...

Ever since GST has been rolled out in India I have worked with my team to understand if the pre roll out impact analysis was accurate and sufficient. In the last 12 days I have read, heard and discussed varied reports and opinions. All of them have led me to the conclusion that this much needed reform would have created upheaval whenever we would have attempted it despite preparation ad nauseam. While the focus remained on business, in the background there was this constant humdrum that sanitary napkins are being taxed at 12% when bindi, bangles, sindoor and condoms are tax free. The women empowerment morchas have been crying foul and their voices are never fading. The secular brigade is on a slogan screaming campaign just behind the feminists. Their din is hurtful to the ears. While logic told me that taxes alone cannot make sanitary napkins unaffordable I decided to flesh out this discussion a bit more.

To begin with - bindi, bangles and sindoor were tax free pre GST as they are post. In the post era they are tax free not to appease sentiments of religious factions or to force women to use them as some sort of bonded labourer marks, but because a majority of these products are manufactured by entities with an annual income of less than INR 20 lakhs. These entities are outside of the GST network, which means that they do not get to avail of input tax credits. Now if these enterprises are made to pay an output tax but they don't get input tax benefits then we are making them economically unviable and that will be injustice. So the status quo for these items remain to ensure that GST roll out does not eat away livelihoods of the lower strata of the society. That's logic and rationale from the leading and succeeding me. The bleeding and breeding me wants to ask the secular brigade one question - are bindis and bangles used only by women of one religious faction? I know of Hindu, Parsi, Muslim, Jain and Christian women who love wearing both these accessories on a daily basis to enhance their beauty or for personal pleasure. Parsi married women equally support red bangles as do the Hindus. Hindu women in urban India, at least, no longer sport sindoor on a daily basis unless you count the Indian television appearances of Sindoor soaked women. Feminist senoritas now that's the cluster of modern society you need to educate because their caricatures propagate what you are so against. And they propagate to the world and not just to Indians in India. Fight the battle at the root cause and maybe you can eradicate it. 

Now coming to condoms. Well it's not just condoms but all contraceptives that are tax free. And that's to control the population growth which is already at levels where food, energy and water security for the nation are threatened. That is logic and reasoning once again, but singing the logical notes I am forced to think that condom manufacturers are larger organisations. So why should they stand to benefit with no output tax but access to input tax credit. Do they though? Must research this point or need to logically understand it. Flow of thoughts - So if an enterprise has an input tax carry forward do they get cash back from the government? No. Also if sold B2B the dealer has no input credit and no output tax so no benefit. B2C the retail customer anyway has no input tax credit availability. So is this really a huge benefit for the organisations... If you still want to harp on condoms feministas, well they also protect the health of the woman and ensure her pleasure with the least discomfort. And while condoms are tax free the government also distributes them free to encourage the use and save this country from turning into an overcrowded ant hill. So the bleeding me thinks that tax free contraceptives and condoms benefits women too.

That brings me to the point that no one has spoken of yet - free distribution of sanitary napkins. Take away the 12% tax and rural India will still not be able to afford sanitary napkins. Distribute them free, install hygienic dispensers and educate women on benefits of pads - that is money well spent. So I say charge me 12% every month but use that 12% on a fellow woman who cannot afford even one tenth of the 12% that I stand to save. Create a corpus from the tax proceeds of sanitary napkins to be spent on improving menstrual health of girls and women in the most deprived parts of the nation. I would say give an additional tax break to the larger manufacturers of women hygiene products so that savings on tax are ploughed at the ground level to help us bleed healthy and breed secure. That's logic, rationale, emotion and solution all rolled into one. 

If the government pulls of something like this then the reforms in India will truly be revolutionary. If the fire brand women can lobby for something like this then the colour of red would have painted us in a different light globally. If the religious factions can implement this at grass root levels, their votebanks will be ringing in well wishers in abundance. Any takers? Any seconders? Anybody for a positive change? And well I don't count on the media to help with something like this. At the end of the day this is really worth implementing and not sensational enough you see...

Monday, 5 June 2017


For everything that interests us there is that one aspect that completely mesmerises and captivates. When I consider music, I will have to confess a strong bias towards stringed instruments and Indian classical. As I turn to books, I would be lying if I said anything captivates me more than political thrillers or geopolitical history. And the minute I venture to photography, there are enough and more shots of sunsets and trees that will evidence my prejudice very aptly. Of the two, picking any one  would be a dilemma. But if I was forced to, at this moment, and only at this moment ,maybe my pick would be sunsets. 

The first vivid memory that I have of a beautiful sunset is from a summer holiday in the hills of Kumaon region. We had driven from Nainital to Kausani via Almora. It had been a long drive, and by the time we reached our rest house in Kausani it was evening. Getting out of the car I felt the cool wind hit my young cheeks. To avoid it I turned in the opposite direction. As soon as I did, the view in front of me had me enthralled. The setting sun had spread sweet orange flames across the sky, and the snow clad mountain peaks were reflecting the warmth of these in shades of peach and pink. No shade of these three colours was missing from the canvas and that perfect painting of nature has been etched in my memory ever since. Had I attempted to capture the moment, I don't think I could have done that view any justice. 

After that Mumbai sunsets captivated me. Whether it was Priyadarshini park, Tata Gardens, Worli Sea Face or Hanging Gardens; I have spent many evenings just watching the sun melt away into the sea and spread a blanket of harmony on this city riddled with chaos. Through my teens and early twenties, post a good day it seemed as if the setting sun was creating a delicious orange syrup for me to dip my ice lolly into and enjoy. Every tough day that I ended with the sun, the ball of fire just slipped into its watery bed and sent a message to rest and rejuvenate for  a brighter next day. While I saw many sun rises as well, none of them spoke to me like the sunsets did. 

If I thought it was the Mumbai sunsets that were special, my view changed as soon as I started to travel. Whether it was the plains of Jaipur or Fontainebleau, the mountain tops of Cape Town or Santorini, the cruises of Budapest or Quebec, or my days in my balcony on the Thames; every sunset brought with it new smiles and evoked new emotions. Each sunset, even today, gives my dreams wider wings to soar higher. Every sunset puts a perspective to every struggle I have faced. All sunsets bring forth an enhanced version of nature's beauty all around us. And so did the red and orange sunset  of yesterday; and probably that's the reason at this moment I am partial to sunsets - the red, orange, pink, peach and yellow paintings of nature.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The Science of Branding and Marketing

It was another night evolving as a battle between pain and my willpower. To challenge me in this round, the pain attacked not just my arm and shoulder but the head and the neck as well. So using television, or reading as distraction was out of question. Yet I needed something to keep myself away from the awful painkillers. 

I had been meaning to reoragnise my trinkets and move my watches in another box. Well the perfect time had presented itself! With the box and my four watches I sat in front of the mirror. The first one, a Swatch, took me down memory lane. Father had got this when I was probably not even a teenager. From then todate, we have all worn it, loved it, and Sequoia and I still keep passing it to one another regularly. This one with a green leather strap and a light gold dial is simple, but gorgeous; and will always be special. 

The next one is technically not mine, but has tremendous pride associated with it. Post my first investment banking job I was to come home for the New Year. I wanted to buy mother a nice watch. I did not know much about brands then but knew that Swiss watches were the platinum kind. Of course a Swatch would not do for mother; she deserved the best, or at least the best I could have afforded back then. I spent weekends browsing through watch shops in London. Why I did not read about watches I don't know but I just did not. After a few shops I noticed that the one brand I liked, and could stretch myself to afford was Tissot. The elegance and simplicity of this brand always stood out. While I identified one for Sequoia and one for Bonsai, none seemed apt for mother. Just the week before I was to fly to India I went to Munich on work. Voila! At the airport duty-free I found the thin steel metal strap and dial Tissot that I could gift to mother. Priced in Euros, it was also more affordable for me earning in Pounds then. Today I wear it because on my injured arm's wrist this one is the most comfortable.

This third watch is my favourite and the cheapest one I own. With a tan leather strap and a dial of concentric circles, this ck creation is minimalistic grace on any wrist. It is the first watch I bought myself, on an impulse, two years after I started my investment banking career. The number of compliments I have received for this, since then, have reaffirmed that the correlation between price and aesthetics, or price and quality for that matter, is not necessarily linear. 

There were two watch shops in the mall close to home in London. And in both of these I had seen this steel coloured metal strap and rectangular dial Rado. Of course I had really liked it but found it too expensive, especially for myself. Everytime I would pass by I would pledge to start a Rado savings account. Then came the summer sale. Even then it seemed as an expense to be avoided. But then father came on a holiday and as my luck would have it, he spotted the same watch. In his view, such a sale was a great opportunity to buy this brand that would last a lifetime. He did not know about my liking for the watch and I did not tell him. I do remember telling him though that I would save and take my chances at next year's sale. He suggested to buy it for me. I was earning, and in that currency, so there was no way that I would take money from him. When he insisted and persisted I reluctantly pulled out my credit card and bought the watch. Somewhere deep down I was smiling, and that my choice was the same as father's had made the spend worth it. 

As I put the watches down in their respective places and stared at the mirror, I realised that I was feeling a tad better. I took my mobile and decided it was time I read about watches. When I googled Swatch, what I discovered had me stunned and stumped. The home page of the Swatch Group detailed that not only are Swatch, ck, Tissot and Rado  brands of this group, but the other watch brands I like - Breuget, Omega and Longinnes, are also owned by the Swatch Group. This entire group has been formed, over the years, through various acquisitions and joint ventures. As none of my purchases were influenced by advertisements, I concluded that corporate values must have a role to play in communicating brand value to target customers. Given that the group was formed by M&A, I could not but applaud the fabulous post merger integration done. If most of the brands of this group have appealed to me, I am highly likely potential target customer. And over the last thirteen years, at least, they have done a phenomenal job in reaching out to me via all their brands! It's a marvellous achievement from the eyes of a CFO and a professional.

Before I researched further on this subject I decided to check my hypothesis - corporate values can be used to silently create a pull effect on the target customer. So I decided to google two make up brands I am familiar with, Bobbi Brown and M.A.C. It was to be a night of surprises. Both these brands, and my most often used brand - Clinique, are all owned by the same group! Once again, neither verbal nor visual signalling have prompted me to use any of these three brands. I like the colours, the texture, handiness of application and the minimalistic packaging. Yes the sales service is an interaction that has delighted me each time, but that has not been a prime driver for my purchase. So quality and values conveyed do seem to be a factor here too. And you know what, Estee Lauder, the owner of these brands also has its current form post many mergers! Clinique originally is an Estee Lauder brand, but Bobbi Brown was acquired in 1995 and M.A.C in 1998. This seemed to not only reaffirm my hypothesis but also underline the importance of percolating corporate values for a sustained successful post merger customer retention. 

Watches done, makeup done, my mind moved to cars. Well this one needed no research but the similarity struck me only then. My favourite cars are Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche. All these and my first choice of segment D sedans in India, Skoda, are all owned by the Volkswagen group; which also has its current form post a few M&As. How interesting! The recent VW scandal, did it put me off the brand? It disappointed me. I wanted to see corrective action, but no it did not take me away from my belief in the safety and technical excellence of the vehicles. It may also be because it's probably true that in such manipulations VW is potentially not alone. While I should be more exacting of my brand of choice's standards, as Reene Mathis said to James Bond - " I guess when one's young, it seems very easy to distinguish between right and wrong. But as one gets older, it becomes more difficult. The villains and the heroes get all mixed up." This is a potential topic for another post but back to the point of discussion. Once again my choice of cars has not been influenced by media campaign but the sturdiness, features and designs of the vehicles.

I am totally and utterly fascinated. One because I seem to have a pattern in picking brands that I was conciously unaware of. Two because across product categories and countries, these holding companies seem to have used consistent delivery of corporate values across their brands to please and retain customers despite undergoing multiple M&As. And lastly because from the budget to the premium segment I seem to veer to the products of the same holding company! 

Well Brand building and marketing are a science of that I was aware, but not of the extent that I have now discovered. This definitely warrants more reading and analysis as I am as enchanted as Alice was in Wonderland. So all recommendations and any suggestions on readings will be welcome. I will share the conclusion of my research as and when I finish it. 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Strength of Vulnerability

A few years ago there was a motor accident on a highway. I was a part of it. It was more theatrical than my recent interesting accident at a children's party but it involved zero, yes zero injuries. That it was a miracle is probably an understatement. Soon after that incident I was in zone calm. Cool as a cucumber I took care of all matters at hand including attending the customer meeting I had to attend; but post that, when trying to sleep at night, I relived those moments of impact and I was troubled. How bad it could have been, was a realisation that struck me only then. The extent of grace I had received was astounding. So the next day, after an important meeting that had people coming in from out of town and had been scheduled weeks in advance, I took the day off and came home. I needed to get the aftershocks out of my system and that would only happen if I spent time with myself understanding what really was causing the discomfort. I would not be the most effective, efficient or authentic leader if I did not know myself first. And so my biggest learning post that incident was that it is ok to take time to regroup and get clarity.

This time I was injured and I could feel the extent of the damage. I knew this would be a long road to recovery, so this time I regrouped while waiting to go in for my x- ray. I decided to use my limited energy only for the most critical decisions. Priority one was the upcoming board meeting. I had an email from the team with some updates and some points needing discussion. So that was my first call. Having sorted that, next was to inform my boss. I did that. Then came peers and that box was ticked too. By then my phone battery and my stamina, both were in the red and so I sunk into the wheelchair, closed my eyes and tried to regroup myself again. The call to the audit partner would need to wait.

As reality of an impending surgery started to sink in, thoughts started to smoke my mind. I was not reliving the moment, no I had learnt my lesson in the futility of that attempt; it was the ongoing and future hows, what and when that were burning a small flame. All the family around me were either tired or worried and some even both, though no one showed it. I did not think it wise to have them inhale the smoke being generated from the flame.

I was weary of being wheeled in to a room filled with sharp instruments, drugged into oblivion, cut open and fixed with multiple metal pieces that would become a part of me. I was asked by the anesthesist if I had any objection to being intubated. I wanted to retort asking if I had an option, but kept quiet. With the little energy I had, I read the consent form I was asked to sign and understood that in short I was giving up the right on my own life for those few hours. So be it. I signed, but the smoke got thicker. And that's when I decided to ask for help. I took my phone and messaged a friend who I consider as a more honest person than me, with faith stronger than mine. All I could manage to type was "Injured. Need prayers." Despite the short message, somehow trusting that one person and asking for help made me feel better. I was now ready to sit out the night.

Why did I trust him? There are reasons that will digress from this post and so are currently immaterial; but reaching out and asking for help gave me the strength to clear the smoke so that my visibility at least was no longer clouded. I was now in control while the silence had only bred anxiety.

In the operation theatre I was clear that I was not lying down until sedated. The pain, in that movement, was far too great in the upper left extremity of my body. I knew my limits and was not going to be pushed beyond them. Of course I was vulnerable and one of the doctors on the team tried to push me into a lying down position before I could be sedated. So I screamed. That was my only defence mechanism. To my relief that is when the surgeon rushed in. I was sedated in a sitting position and then I only have the repair work to gauge what happened. But I made my point that Sunday morning - yes I was vulnerable, I was at their mercy and I was in pain; but I would not let anyone disrespect my threshold of tolerance, exploit my dependence and misuse my trust.

The acceptance of vulnerability and reaching out for help gave me comfort and clarity at a time when I had to lead the most important person in my life -  me myself. More than outside support, even from those who love you more dearly than their own lives, it is your own advocacy that helps you row in troubled waters. Your own faith, conviction and confidence are most essential in successfully navigating a storm. And in this if you to turn to a trusted comrade and say help me beef up my reserves so that I may succeed, it only seems sensible and rational to me.

Some of the most successful leaders have left legacies because they acknowledged their vulnerabilities. An acknowledgement of feelings, doubts and fears allows a leader to connect more transparently with her team. It lends authenticity to interactions which builds on trust. But it takes strength of character and a shedding of ego to accept that as a leader one may not be perfect.

Lady Thatcher resigned because she saw how vulnerable she was and what that was doing to her party. Her voluntary resignation allowed for a more popular candidate to be nominated and the Conservatives ran the government for another seven years. Whether or not it was effective governing is a matter of another discussion, but the leader's realisation of a weakness helped the party and earned her respect if nothing else.

One of the most revered companies, Apple Inc. was founded by Steve Jobs. But it is also common knowledge that he was unceremoniously sacked from his own firm by his own board because he was unable to see how his decisions were taking the iconic enterprise down. The man post his dismissal conceded he was wrong and began to relook at his work. He acquired and grew Pixar; and when Apple needed him back, he joined the company again but only as an advisor and then interim CEO. This time his ego was not on the high pedestal it was in the first stint. As his cancer was diagnosed, he started to hand more power to his trusted team member Tim Cook. The tremendous success Apple enjoys has been seen only after Steve Jobs' death.

Closer to home, the man who wrote history, Mahatama Gandhi or Bapu as the nation calls him was known to have accepted his limitations and weaknesses. In fact he even stated that the biggest battle was fighting his own demons, fears and insecurities. He stuck to his core beliefs and values and did not fail to apologize when wrong. It was this honesty and conviction that led not just a nation but a generation to be inspired by him.

I am writing this today as I am forced to wonder if in the corporate world we have missed the importance of this disposition and considered it solely to be a weakness for far too long. For how long do we expect senior leaders and senior management to always have all the answers, to always be right and to always win? When will it be ok for corporate executives to be human and let their teams know that they are susceptible to the same fears as the team, and that they trust the team enough to help find a way out? Will it ever be ok to make a mistake, apologize and still retain the helm with head held high? Will the world driven by profits and stock markets ever fully appreciate the truth of the statement - "there is nothing so strong as gentleness and nothing so gentle as real strength"? Will vulnerability ever be truly appreciated as a strength on resumes?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A broken bone and a grateful heart

Even in my worst nightmare I would never wish even fifty percent of this experience on anyone. But if anyone has a similar mishap, I would wish them every bit of the luck that I had.

It was a beautiful winter Saturday afternoon. The rays of the sun peaked from the clouds as the hide and seek between the warmth and the cold continued. Breaking the dominance of the chill was the heat emanating from the aromatic masala tea. Pink Roses, orange Trumpet Creeper ( yes Google these gorgeous flowers), violet Snapdragons and green trees adorned the garden. Butterflies hopped from flowers to soil to trees while the birds flew above in search of a meal. Children played with pizza slices in hand and we adults ferried food from the kitchen to the tables outside. It was a perfect party for my nine year old angle. Everyone he wanted and everything he desired was around. 

With a whining ankle secured in an ankle binder, I was having my share of fun when suddenly the bouncy collapsed. Yes it's an air filled structure, and perhaps that is the reason that there was no tragedy. From a height of at least 8 feet the deceptive monster collapsed and along with that six nine year olds were on top of me. I was on the ground, unable to breathe for the first few seconds and in the next many all I could feel was myself sinking and seeing the entire galaxy swimming in my brain. I could not react and then I heard my little angel call out to Pape Smurf; the one person even I go to for advise when in doubt. All he could say was, Papa look at her, Papa look at masi (aunty). 

I don't know how long it took, but as I gathered my wits and courage I could feel the pain wrecking havoc on my left upper body. Attempting to get up, I moved my left shoulder from the ground and saw my left arm hanging as if detached from the rest of me. That's when I knew I needed a hospital immediately. Hugging my hand to my body I got up, asked for water and sugar and took in some deep breaths; this was no more a solo adventure. 

PS helped me on a chair and gave me sugar water. I felt somewhat human. Sequoia came out; I have no idea about her expression but her voice was reassuring and calm. As Sequoia called the orthopedics known to her, PS boosted my courage as it was I who had walk to and sit in the car. We managed; PS, Sequoia and I. How, I don't know; but we reached the hospital with one decision, mother and father would be informed only after a conclusive medical examination. 

It is amazing how the human body reacts to trauma it suffers. Except for certain movements, as long as I was seated I felt almost normal. That changed only when I went in for an x-ray and my hand was moved and then I was made to stand. At that moment I felt as if I was the deflating bouncy, ready to hit the ground and end up in an unmanageable heap. PS held me and got me a stool. Once I sat, I felt connected to planet earth again. 

Well the rest of the misery is a long story best forgotten. So let's talk about my luck amidst this chaos. The x-ray suggested a humerus broken in two requiring surgery. But a straight forward surgery it would be. The doctor at the hospital we were at, was unavailable till Monday which was a good day and a half away. Luckily my orthopedic surgeon in Mumbai was available on the phone and told me that if I could get to Bombay he would patch me up on Sunday itself. Just his assurance lifted my spirits. He is an incredible soul not just a great doctor. But shipping me to Bombay, with a bone broken in two, was not an option that was the first choice. And so the family in Delhi was called for reinforcement. 

All Indians have extended families and every extension comes with multiple memories. The Evergreens as I would like to call them have not changed in the last three decades. The eldest on mother's side, they have always been there for everyone. And so Mr. Evergreen was contacted. He would not hear of a transfer to Bombay. Of course he would speak to the surgeon who had done his surgery and then Noddy's and would ensure his niece was taken care of. So off PS went to have me discharged from hospital X. 

The mere mention of discharge had everyone from the junior orthopedic surgeon to the HOD, trying to convince PS and Sequoia not to go to another hospital. I was a lamb that the cash machine would slaughter. Insurance companies would be sliced as well. A meaty meal, I could not be let out of the cage. Well but Sequoia being in the medical profession knew how to open the lock of the cage and have me moved to a more humane care environment. So I was a free being for a while again. 

PS with his own back in pain and Sequoia leaving all her work behind, once again started to drive me. The car was going no faster than 20kmph and PS ensured all pot holes were missed. Sequoia regularly provided support to my arm, how did she do that from the backseat only she knows. She and PS were my rock of Gibraltar that day. 

At the Evergreens' surgeon, Mr EG came to me. Face tense, eyes laden with concern, he put a hand on my head and said, "God what happened beta (child)". In the next instant, the tension melted into affection and the care into strength; he cradled my cheeks in his palms and said , " this too shall pass I promise". His love gave me new found strength. I was reminded of grandfather and gave in to being operated in Delhi. The surgery was scheduled for 830am on Sunday. It was 12 hours to being fixed...

Every Indian has an aunt or an uncle who has filled in for parents at some critical juncture. Another beauty of the extended family. And that's where the Everpresents come in. Older than mother, she has been there through my most celebrated illness of childhood. She detected my jaundice and cared for me for a month and a half even as Noddy made my life miserable. I had been infected with jaundice only because Noddy being naughty refused to carry water for his little sister to the skating rink. That's another story and I think my brother Noddy needs a book dedicated to his antics and theatrics. As he is lawyer, without permission, I refuse to put myself at peril. 

Mrs EP and Noddy came to the hospital soon after I entered my room. While Mrs EP was concerned about my comfort and food intake, all Noddy wanted was to make me laugh. When the nursing staff of 3 could not locate a vein on my hand to draw a blood sample from, and had finished twisting my arm in every direction, Noddy very sweetly asked them," is it your first time?". His manner and candour were such that everyone, including the nurses, burst into laughter. Mrs EP and Noddy stayed on until after midnight till mother and father arrived. After that mother, or universal Florence Nightingale as the Evergreens call her, took over. 

Surgery over, I was brought to the recovery room. As consciousness started to emerge I became confused. I was surrounded by everything white. Where was I ? I was freezing with teeth chattering. Had ice age really dawned on earth!? I spotted a green sphere at a distance but had no voice to call out. Eventually the green sphere started to float towards me and when it came by my bed side, reality hit me! Surgery was over and this was my doctor! 

As I was wheeled back into my room, which just to list all facts was in the children's ward, I heard the Indulgents. Younger than father, Mr Indulgent fulfilled all my food cravings as a child. Mrs Indulgent to this day showers endless affection on me. I was overwhelmed. They were all here out of concern, care and compassion. What more could I ask for? In this time of pain I had so much love and so many blessings that the injury became a welcome reminder of all that I need to be thankful for.

The next three days in hospital I did not feel ill even for a minute. To start with my very own Florence Nightingale took care of all my needs. Mrs EP not only got delicious home cooked food of choice daily, but also Mr EP pampered me with home made masala tea and freshly squeezed orange juice twice a day. Mrs EG came regularly to visit with anecdotes that made me smile. The trio of sisters, father's three multi talented sisters, came to see and bless me. Each reinforced my faith that the Benevolent One is taking good care of me. Cousins came, friends did, as did those who need not have taken the pains to. 

I was cocooned in a nest made of tender feathers of loving care which only got cosier at home. My two angels fed me, hugged me, drew for me and in every way demonstrated their relief that I was alright. 

Back in Bombay, HP spoilt me with gorgeous white lilies and lavender. The Farmer came with the team and a bouquet of red roses. My Mini Mouse came with her husband, laden with fruits that I should eat and left with a promise of more goodies to come tomorrow. 

So a week and twelve hours post a great hurdle and a painful obstacle, I am lying in my bed writing this post, and staring at the ceiling with only a constant humming in my mind - 

Here you are, standing there, and loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my past in childhood
I must have done something good.

PS: the best thing that has happened to me is winning the parent lottery

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A Thought Cloud

To catch a flight I need to be at the airport well in time. I do not like to rush and run to board. But unfortunately this morning I was just in the position that I always avoid. Mumbai airport, bright and early, looked like there was a free fare to Las Vegas and everyone was there to grab their own special seat.

At the check-in the serpentine queues were lazing as my anxiety was slowly awakening. But before I could start palpitating, thankfully, a call was made for passengers on my flight to move to the front. Finally I was able to check-in, get my boarding card and proceed to the security check points.

Like I said, it was a free fare and so the security check queues also meandered around. One look at my watch and I was hyperventilating. 30 minutes to take off. A frequent flyer, somewhere I knew that with a boarding pass issued and checked in bags accepted, it would be rather unlikely that the flight would leave me behind. Yet I wanted to be seated inside the aircraft, 25 minutes before departure time, which is when boarding technically closes. And so I requested the women in the never ending ladies queue if I could kindly go ahead of them. Most had no problem. Some said thank you for asking. A few joined me as they were on my flight. So we came to the point where we dropped our bags on the security conveyers, ready to move to the frisk check queue. And suddenly there was an uproar. 

"How dare you cut into the queue?" A non-natural blonde glared, ready to eat me alive.
"Am sorry, but I asked the women in the queue as my flight is in 30 minutes. Only when they said yes have I moved ahead. So technically I have not cut in but have been generously allowed to jump ahead." I was factual and polite.
"I am on the same flight and you have no business to jump the queue." 
"Sure you go ahead of me."
"Yes I will, and you must stand and wait for your turn."
"Yes I would have but then the flight would have left given how long the queues are and hence I asked. But you please go before me."
"That I will, given I was here before you; and you stop being argumentative!"

I stepped aside, a little perplexed. Was she upset because I had jumped ahead, was she unhappy because she had stood patiently for a long time or did she just not like my face! As I awaited my turn for being frisked, a lady in a black tunic and red scarf patted me on the back. "My dear, it's ok. You have a flight to catch. We understand. It's alright." She smiled and my turn came. I was stunned by her gesture of assurance. Empathy from a stranger reinforces that emotions are maybe still alive in the world. 

The gate was a little far and I made a dash for it. The injured ankle also had to start whining just then. Promising to wear the ankle binder as soon as I was on my seat, I solicited cooperation of the little joint. In some pain but in one piece and with all hand luggage with us, we - my ankle and I - reached the boarding gate. That is when the phone started ringing. Who ever it was would have to wait. 

Coming to my seat, I put the hand bags in the overhead bins, sat down and was about to put on the ankle binder as promised when came another interruption. 

"Am really sorry to bother you. My husband and I are travelling together. I have been upgraded to business class and he has not been. Would you mind exchanging seats please." Now that was sweet and welcome. 
"Sure. Would you mind if I was to just wear my ankle binder?" 
"Absolutely not. Please let us know which are your bags and my husband will help you move them." 
"Oh thanks! But really not needed."

But my not needed was not heard and my one laptop bag and my little Prince's birthday gift were both taken to their new storage hold. As this action was happening, the woman sitting across the aisle looked at me and said, "She really wants to give up a business class seat to  travel with her husband! Must be newly married!" The couple heard this and the wife smiled, "Not really. We have been married for seven years and I don't think that two hours of petty luxury is worth leaving time with my husband." I smiled at her; a true heartfelt smile. That is my kind of a woman; and I moved up front. 

As I took my seat, settled in and began to relax; a thought started clouding the skies of my brain. Is human emotion really getting depleted? Perhaps not. Because while I had three examples (including myself) of selfish behaviour, I had two simultaneous samples of acts of emotional warmth. And if I added HP's call wishing me a safe flight, it is three acts. 

As the cloud was taking shape, the flight took off and I found myself staring out of the window. The Mumbai local trains, the red buses and the cars were running on their designated routes. Flanking the roads and rail corridor on either side were concrete structures ten to twenty stories high. Slowly the heights started to slope downwards till I could see the vast spreads of the slums and eventually the creek and then the expanse of the Arabian Sea. 

While I saw all these man-made creations up above from the skies, I could not spot one human being! Not the car driver or the train passenger. Those dwelling in the sky scrapers were as invisible as those living in the slums. The boats that dotted the creek and the ships that adorned the sea seemed equally barren and devoid of human life. And so my cloud started to take a new shape. What is the use of materialistic possessions and gains without having a human eye to appreciate them? What value does success hold if not cheered by an excited human voice? What can help overcome a bout of disappointment better than a soothing human touch? 

And just as the sun started to light my internal skies we started our descent. Climbing down from thirty thousand feet above the ground, coming closer to land, I could see someone walk across the field. Closer to the landing strip I could spot children eagerly watching the plane land. And just as we touched down, I saw the directions being given by an air traffic personnel. 

There definitely is something about emotions and closeness. What it is I cannot articulate. But whatever it is, it is that which makes the world a better place.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Two Lives and A Wish

It was my first board meeting and the first meeting with the independent directors. This was a subsidiary company and so a meeting with its directors had not been the most pressing matter soon after joining. But now that I was meeting them, I wanted to make a good first impression. Fond of ethnic Indian clothes, I chose to wear my favourite salwar kameez that day. And that is what led to my first conversation with Mr. Interesting.

Mr. Interesting was the last independent director to arrive. He had just turned 90, but his appearance did not give away his age. When he spoke he maintained eye contact. When he read he caught the main points first. When he listened he had a smile on his face. But he ate or drank nothing. A strict Brahmin, he ate or drank only that which he got from home. It was the secret of his long life and energy. 

A few hours later, we broke for lunch. As he would eat nothing, he walked up to the next floor to sit in one of the cabins and wait for the others to finish. I do not recollect why, but for some reason I walked up to that floor as well. As I walked in, through the door, he was standing there. He smiled at me and said, "nice salwar kameez." I thanked him and smiled back. It was then that he looked me in the eye and said, "if I may, I want to tell you three things. Please always wear a bindi. Never wear rings on any finger other than the ring finger and lastly always wear bangles. Your wrist should always be adorned." 

All he said were things I had heard before. Some from my grandparents and some from others. Mother was the one who had gifted me her own rings to wear. So none of this was new; but coming from an almost stranger, replete with the affection of a grandfather and laden with the authority of a scholar; the impact was different. Every time post that encounter I attempted to ensure that I listened to his advise as often as I could, and if not always with all three, I would comply with at least two every time I met him.

Why did he tell me these things on the first day that he met me, I don't know. Now I will never find out, ever. A fortnight ago he passed away, and today comes the first board meeting of the subsidiary without him. This entire realisation has struck me as I am putting on my bangles and bindi after having worn a saree today...

I am sure I wore sarees to board meetings when Mr. Interesting was around, but another board member of the parent company could only keep asking me. 

Dr Artsy had been a renowned banker in her days and had been on the board for many many years. A strong willed and free spirited soul, she battled cancer for several years. She underwent multiple chemotherapy sessions and surgeries; yet her zest for life maintained its highs. Oh we would hear a loving but an earful if her favourite potatoes were not cooked for lunch on the day of the board meeting. She would call to remind that taking her out for a drink was overdue ,or she would call to simply say that living next door you had no excuse not to pay her a visit. She enjoyed every living moment!

After one board meeting, as I was helping her to the bathroom she very quietly said, "I am due for my next check up. This time I am worried. What if the dastardly thing is back?" I looked at her and gently reassured her that even if it was she would fight it back as always. I don't know whether it was a premonition but yes the beast had reared its ugly head again. 

Given the recurrence of the illness she decided to step down from the board. Given her long association with the organisation, a farewell dinner was planned. At the AGM before the dinner she chided me for not wearing a saree and warned me for trotting up at dinner in anything but a saree. There was no time to go home and change into a saree that day and so I rocked up to dinner in my work attire. Resplendent in a bottle green saree she looked at me and said, "if I have been able to wrap a saree and enjoy it, you have no bloody excuse not to be in one!" 

Now, even if I want I cannot fulfill her wish; she passed away last year. Dr Artsy, I am sorry I could not wear one while you were around, but today this saree is dedicated to you.

Two incredible lives lived with tremendous aplomb and grit. One was regimented and the other a free bird. Two gentle lives that were equally fierce. One curated and the other wrote. Two lives that were fertile with insights and experiences. One content to stand in the wings and the other always center stage. Two lives I think of, feeling humbled to have known. One I wish could answer me and one I wish I could respond to...

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Driven by Perception

Confusion abounds. Horns blare and screams surround. It is the middle of the night, but the queue of the pick up vehicles at Mumbai International Airport is the picture of an early morning fish market buzzing with frantic activity. I wait for my turn to reach the token vending machine when a cab driver in a mega rush accelerates, halts and then rams into my car. I swerve to the left in the nick of time to avert a major accident. In the process, however, I almost ram into an XUV and now there are two more voices added to the din. 

The XUV driver is livid with me and cannot wait to tell me how women should not be behind the wheel but in front of a cooking range. I am furious with the cab driver for having dented my car and am trying to scream across to the XUV driver that it's his fellow male homosapien who is the cause of this clamour and clash. The XUV driver is in no mood to listen; his argument being that to save myself and my car I have no business of harming him and his precious chariot. But while my car on wheels has taken some blow, the dainty XUV has been able to hold on to its makeup and grooming despite what it's owner wants to believe. So I am unable to understand the reason for the rage spewing from this totally irrational, possessive and obsessed master of the car. Surprisingly, as the two of us are at loggerheads, the man responsible for the hit, twist and mix tale is sitting inside his vehicle and staring at the two fighting idiots with a "get over this episode" expression on his face.

His complete nonchalant and in-oblivion expression makes me ready to want to chew his head off. Wanting to settle the score, I  knock on the window and ask him if he has any explanation for his mad haste. The man looks at me as if I am the one who is totally insane. His world view is simple; he is just trying to cut into a faster moving lane and as it is his birthright he had made no error whatsoever! Oh Goodness, how I wish I can step out and haul him out of the cosy cocoon that nestles his sorry being! But before I can even think of the suitability of actioning my thought, three airport parking attendants have suddenly appeared. They are staring and assessing the situation. I want the cab driver's taxi and licence number. I am adamant. I am now asked to park on the side and wait till the three men in charge can lodge a formal complaint. And welI their speed is just a 180 degree opposite of the one that has caused all this drama!

I don't have the time. Mother may be out in a few minutes and I am not letting her wait. So my only option is to drive away, letting that never to be allowed on the road sample of mankind, off the hook. His good deeds have saved him today and in a cooler moment I acknowledge, so have mine. 

I park the car and walk up to the arrival gate, buy myself a coffee and start penning this post down. Suddenly I am reminded of another accident, another cab driver and another incident that happened just two days ago. 

I had boarded the cab from work and was eager to get home and enjoy a cup of hot ginger tea in the late evening of a cool breezy Mumbai winter. I was engrossed in clearing my mailbox when the driver said, "cops are so unfair. One just extorted 2000 rupees (USD 30) from me and it was not even my fault! The other cab driver came and rammed into me, broke his headlights and then started screaming at me. He and the cop, both Maharashtrians started talking in Marathi and the poor me was left as an observer. Ultimately he asked me to pay damages of 2000 rupees. I promise that I made no mistake but then why am I being singled out and punished?" 

He did not end this conversation but instead broke into an inconsolable bout of bawling. It was strange to see a grown man cry and ask for justification for being discriminated and bullied. It was heart wrenching to hear a hard-working man robbed of his earnings and dreading to go home empty handed towards the end of the month when finances are already stretched. It was unpleasant to acknowledge that humans have fallen to levels where the world beyond our own nose sometimes could not matter more than the speck of dust on the ceiling. 

At the end of the journey his queries were unanswered. I had no reasons to his whys. I had no idea of how to react. I had no clue if I should just pay my fare and leave or should I let him vent it all out. Tarrying in this indecision I took out my wallet and gave him some money, slowly I asked him to keep the faith and finally gave him to flowers to offer at the temple ahead. I walked out hoping I had helped. 

What contrasting interactions with two people of the same profession! What contrasting attitudes of two individuals each dealing with a stranger! What contrasting reaction of the stranger driven by a perception of reality!

The driver tonight could have been preoccupied with some concerns at home. The driver the other day could just be a great actor who made a fool of a gullible passenger. I perceived reality using my framework, and reacted completely differently in both situtations, based on my analysis which was done using my tainted or tinted lenses...

And so, as I wait for mother to clear immigration and then collect her bags and come out; I am thinking of ways in which I can clear my preconceived notions, collect my thoughts before I act, and come out of every interaction with a better balance between rationality and emotions. 

Will I be able to achieve it in the near future? Will I be able to handle every situation keeping these parameters in mind? Will I find out if my perception of their realities was accurate? 

Questions abound. People and their chatter surround. It is a reflective post that now has to stop as I can spot mother walking out.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A weekend with winter

Up close and personal, I stared at the gentle wafting waters of the Ganges as the boatman waited patiently at the pilgrim dotted bank that was alive with the smell of incense and the glow of earthen lamps. Far away at the horizon, the pink and orange hues of the setting winter sun smiled at the swaying yellow mustard that caressed the soft and bright green fields. And submerged between these two distinctly different and equally beautiful banks, lay the wishes, dreams and prayers of a million hopefuls who had braved the winter to come to this proclaimed center of the universe. 

As the morning bloomed, the aromas of ginger and cardmom tea engulfed the air while the hot and crispy lentil and vegetable fritters fought to attract the rightfully due attention. As the afternoon approached, the saffron and dew laden milk froth tickled the sweet buds of the salivating greedy tongues. As evening dawned,  citrus and mint were the flavours that dominated and danced. All the flavours of the winter had burst into action, seemingly, all in one day.

At night, the warmth of the melt at touch Jaipur quilt kept the freezing cold air at bay. The baby touch like silk added to the fashion and glamour during the day. And as the orange and pink began to appear at the horizon, the drama of winter threatened to restart; but then wool and fleece began to display their might. The many textures of the varied textiles made the winter sojourn special.

And yes I still say I am wary of the winter season. It still may not be my favourite time of the year. But this weekend, a tryst with this season, brought to attention why it always deserves and commands a special mention.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Lesson in Love

And yes love exists in the real world; more vivid, stronger and brighter than the love written or sung about. In this day and age where economics and material gains seem to be the dominant motivators for many, I witnessed pure and unconditional love that is the raison-de-existance for one man.

Early morning, as I was finishing my prayers, a gentleman walked into the sanctum sanctorum. He sat down on a side and offered his prayers post which he started to offer flowers to the deity. After offering just one orange marigold, he gave the entire basket of flowers to me and in sweet Gujarati asked me to offer the flowers to the Lord. I was stunned and shocked; all devotees pride themselves in making their own offerings! Did he not want the blessings for himself?

Out of respect, I started offering the flowers one by one . Two yellow marigolds later the gentleman started speaking to me again. "I am a Jain and so don't know how these flowers should be offered. My wife is a great Shiva devotee and it is for her that I am offering these flowers. She is no more, she is with her Shiva now. But for her love I would like to continue to come to the temple as long as I can and offer these flowers."

My hands stopped midway and I was just looking at the beautiful soul. No words came to me, and no expression seemed fitting to acknowledge the lesson he had just imparted. Sending a sweet smile my way, the man slowly got up, bowed and walked away. 

I finished offering the flowers but kept sitting for a while thereafter. The slightest of movement would have destroyed the sanctity of the moment. The words kept coming back to me as I sat alone and let myself be. My eyes drifted to the lamp. It's  light had a new glow to it. My senses became alert to the aura  around me. It felt happier and more harmonious. My mind smiled at what I had just witnessed. The day had just begun; and yes it seems that today is most definitely a new day. It's a new start of a renewed belief. 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year

After years of ushering in a new year together, 2017 walked into our lives in three different cities. Bonsai, Sequoia and I; three peas of a pod were in our respective now home cities for this year's crossover. We were all with those who care tremendously about us, but the missing joy of a tight warm hug from my two angels and heart-warmers did leave me craving as I went to bed.
The gratitude for the joys of the gone year was foremost in my thoughts as I woke up to a bright first morning of this new year. Every month of 2016 has left a memory that brings a smile on my face or has me thankful for all that life has blessed all three of us with. So whether it was January when the three of us spent a fortnight together or whether it was September when Bonsai and I shared moments of change; it was a year of joyful togetherness.
As I look back at my life, reflecting on my journey so far and contemplating the road ahead, my heart swells with affection for the friends who have been there at every step of the way. Appyrichvictor, a name that comes again and again in my posts, has held my hand through the toughest times. The Harried Porter, an individual who I was once in awe of, has shown me the errors of my way in the most loving manner. Busybee and Omegta, the two or should I say four shoulders, are always there for me despite the distance of seven seas in all matters - tiny, small or big. Spectacle, he who has never been judgemental, has always been a source of encouragement and moving ahead. And then there is Calvin, he may not be there but he is always there. And he is always the one to bring me pleasant surprises. My world and my life are so much happier and richer because of these beautiful souls. 
There are those I do not mention - including my parents, my guiding forces; not because they are less important or dear, but with the hope that they understand without saying how much they mean to me. They have all helped me become a better individual day after day. I could not have handpicked this warm, fuzzy and loving lot, had fairy Godmother granted me that wish herself! 
Just as I am about to close this post, my mind wanders to a call I received last night. The Farmer, as I would like to call her, has spread cheer every time the team has needed it. Her infectious laughter was palpable over the call last night and when she wished me, without knowing, she echoed what was on my mind. She is that - knows me, tempers me and indulges me too. How she came into my life, I don't know. But I am glad she is here. 
And so on that note of happy walk-ins and a surprise visit of my grandmotherly neighbour who has come to bless me for the new year, I start my posting for 2017. May this year bring in winds of change that sprinkle stardust of love, peace and harmony. May the next twelve months ooze fragrance that fills every pore with health, vigour and optimism. May the new year bring in a new equilibrium where every life has balance, stability and prosperity. 
Happy New Year.